posted February 8, 2001

Credit to the Starchild again -- or Rayven, or Rey, or whatever name you know her by at this point. ;-) Thanks, sis, for letting me kidnap the DreamWalker again!

The Tale of The Circle

[Autumn's Note: Well, it's been two years...I don't really have any excuses. I could blame it on other interests, though, which tend to demand all my time, 24/7, eat/sleep/breathe/exist for that certain interest..*AHEM* Anyways...I'm sure if anyone is even reading this they've long forgotten most of what went on in the last chapter. I've included a summary below. :-) | The song is "Dreamcatcher" by Secret Garden, Dawn of a New Century album]

The Lost Chapter

* * * * *

Clopin came down with a case of wanderlust and, leaving his daughter and her beau in charge (with wary Jehan as advisor) he set out to find...something. On the way he met up with Rayven DreamWalker, who decided her path just happened to be going in the same direction as his. After weathering a bad thunderstorm they reached an old farm, which Clopin recognized after waking from a rather unnerving nightmare of people from his troubled past...

* * * * *

To the DreamWalker's surprise, Clopin returned to sleep after his revelation, a peaceful look on his face that almost had her suspecting he was dead. She knew better, of course. His dreams were also undisturbed, containing gentle scenes of clear night skies and cool forest. She found she could rest in them, and so slipped into a long overdue reverie.
The twittering of birds called her back to the waking world. Bright sunlight streamed through the haylift door, and, strangely, there was the distant din of someone humming accompanied by a slicing sound. Rayven glanced around the loft for a moment, then limped to the door. The sky was clear with only a slight chill to the air. A voice suddenly sang several notes, then went back to humming. Clopin, scything a path through the grass two heads taller than himself. About five feet in front of the gypsy king Rayven could see the beleagered form of a stone wall, part of a small cabin if she squinted. She sighed and turned to the ladder. It would seem she might be staying for a while.
By the time she traveled the length of the cleared field, Clopin had reached the cabin and was resting on a badly weathered slab of grey stone that had served as a front step. His breathing had a slight wheeze to it, and he held a hand to his left side in a subconscious gesture. Rayven put her hand on his right shoulder. "Take things slowly, my friend. You have enough time."
Clopin gave her a brief annoyed look before waving her away. She backed up a few steps to give him space, then paused to survey the ruins of the cabin. He huffed then rose to his feet and stepped up to the door. After a moment of consideration he delivered a solid kick to the middle of the door -- and immediately hopped backward, clutching his knee. While he cursed, Rayven went over and turned the metal handle. The door swung open with a creak. Clopin glared at her after regaining his balance. "Fine, do it the easy way." He huffed again and slipped past her into the house. She chuckled, following him.
Nature had reclaimed the inside of the cabin, as well. Several floorboards had been pushed up by hearty weeds, while others had simply rotted away. Mouse holes dominated the kitchen, but no other trace of the rodents was present. Clopin batted away cobwebs as he went, also leaving Rayven to wander on her own, as he darted in and out of the rooms recalling memories; but the rooms were mostly empty, any furniture in disrepair. Only his imagination provided details to make it seem like a livable space. At last he returned to the kitchen, uttering a sigh as he paced. Everything was so empty...
With nothing else better to do he started pulling up the weeds poking through the floor. By the time Rayven came back he had cleared one corner and was stuffing the weeds into a mouse hole in order to discourage the rodents from returning. Rayven leaned against the windowsill and watched for a few minutes before asking, "Does this mean you plan to stay her for awhile?"
He continued weeding the floor. "Why not? It's a dry place to sleep, at least. The land is still good. And no one will chase me off." He stopped and looked up at her."Or us, if you plan to stay also...Or should I wait until the next storm?" He smirked somewhat wryly.
She only shrugged, and stiffly lowered herself to her knees to help pull up the weeds. Clopin hmph'ed to himself and mused a smile.

* * * * *

The next day brought a rainstorm, but the Dreamwalker did not leave with it. Instead she stood by while Clopin threw himself into the restoration of the cabin, mending furniture and patching holes, expending more effort and energy than on any festival or story. Rayven understood what he was trying to do; regain a bit of his past, bring to his current self the peace that had once graced him yet had never again touched him since that time.
Once the inside of the house was secured, he started tackling the outside, day by day reclaiming a small part of the land for the farm. Rayven took the time to meditate and read the land. There was a content buzzing about Clopin that she had not witnessed in a long time. Still, she slowly began to worry.

One clear night in summer, a night good for sitting by a fire telling stories, the two lounged near the bank of the river running behind the house, the embers of aforementioned fire smoldering pleasantly. Rayven meditated as usual, while Clopin's gaze was riveted upward on the sky. Rayven silently suspected he was lost somewhere in the past. She knew she would have to wake him sometime soon. With the embers dying, at last she spoke, "Macgealach, do you read anything there?"
"Hmm?" He was fully in the present now, but he did not look at her. "No...No, they do not speak to me. I can only wonder how she found their secrets..." His gaze drifted back and forth across the expanse of stars.
"Then what are you looking for?"
"I had hoped they would take pity on poor Clopin." He finally looked away from the sky to give her a weak smile. Then he drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, his gaze falling to the river -- abnd the stars' reflection there.
Rayven turned her eyes on the sky, but she asked no questions, Clopin was on his own for the moment. She glanced toward the west horizon. Something...The wind stirred the ashes of the fire. The autumn season was coming early. A storm would soon arrive. Rayven looked at Clopin. He would want to stay at the farm and probably would not listen if she told him to return to Paris. He had been led to this place for a reason, but so far as she could see things could only end in more pain for him. His own heart was betraying him now, letting him remember with abandon.
The Dreamwalker reached out to tap his shoulder and wake him from his thoughts. When he turned to her, she motioned to the cabin. At least if he went to sleep she could follow his thoughts in his dreams.

* * * * *

There hadn't been much of Spring left to encourage the plants to grow, and the Fall harvest was meek to say the least. Clopin went to the nearby town, only a few miles away, to perform a bit and buy supplies for winter, although the weather was usually mild in that area during the cold season; but it didn't hurt to be prepared. The occasional storm did pass through. Clopin created a scaled-down barn for the faithful mare, who had tolerated playing plow horse well enough to deserve a secure home of her own, safe from hard rains and wispy snow. Clopin began watching the clouds carefully.

The sun set into a bank of dark clouds the evening Clopin found Rayven standing outside the cabin, just starintg at the eastern horizon. He followed her gaze for several moments, and, after being unable to discern what held her attention in such a riveting manner, he clasped his hands behind his back and rocked back and forth from heels onto toes. He "ahem"ed and coughed, then said, "I know a person with an irrepressible urge to wander, which never wants to stay in one place too long...but also which might return to the same place at a later time. And I know this person has a worry -- but I say, she should not worry at all." He smiled pleasantly to the air then turned to go into the house.
Rayven's gaze followed him even though she moved only the slightest inch. "Is that a dismissal, O King?"
"I never said you had to stay," he replied softly, although the title she used irked him. "And I am not afraid of being alone."
Her gaze returned to the horizon. "That remains to be seen."
Clopin scowled at her back before disappearing into the cabin.
The Dreamwalker sighed and once again focused her attention on the east.

Clopin held mixed emotions when he found Rayven had gone the next morning. He had expected her to leave, yet he still felt a bit lonely. She had been right, as introspective as he had been these last several months, he still needed other people around him. As he picked at half a morning meal, he considered his look-alike puppet, which sat propped up next to the wooden plate on the table."Well, little one, it's just and me now!"
"You and you! I'm not staying around here long, ha!"
He didn't bother to reply back. It was more fun when someone else was there to laugh at him. He sighed.
After tidying the kitchen he went out to clean up the yard, securing the last of the firewood. There was a sharp chill in the air, the recognizable scent of winter. He pulled his cloak tight around him and made his way to the river. Now he really believed Rayven was all too wise to his internal thinking -- it was far too quiet in the fields, and the river was a mere murmuring. The latter was pleasant, actually, but the silence unnerved him. He began to hum just to have something to hear, but after a few minutes it sounded like a violation, and the tune trailed off. Again he sighed. Well, he could adapt, it would just take a few days.

A few days turned into a few weeks. Clopin never did adjust. He was almost convinced that the Dreamwalker had set a curse on him before she left. Or at least he thought as much in amusement, after spending an entire morning chattering gaily to the flurry of snowflakes as he went about his work. The snow remained mild, thankfully, so he could go into town if need be. He would finally go insane if he had to be stuck in a blizzard alone in that cabin.
Unfortunately, the weather was just as unkind as some other factors in his life. Four weeks after Rayven's leave-taking a heavy sowfall overtook the countryside. Clopin bundled up under cloak and blanket and cursed at himself, wishing he had returned to the Court of Miracles for the winter; except that he had also been thinking that he would never get up the nerve to leave again if he did go back. His mutterings died down as he drowsed by the fire.
A tapping sound woke him a scant while later. He blearily stumbled out of sleep as the noise repeated. Someone...rapping on...wood? He blinked again. Someone was at the door! Perhaps Rayven had returned. But just in case...He grabbed his dagger from the table and held it behind his back as he went for the door. He opened it wide, at once taking in the deep blue of the night sky with gleaming stars, and the blanket of snow over the ground that held its own sparkles, also tinted blue by the moonlight. His breath formed a small cloud before dissipating. No one stood outside.
Thinking he had dreamed it all, Clopin began to turn away. Just then a faint sound reached his ears -- someone humming. A flurry of snow danced around the land as a breeze struck up. He peered through this and imagined a figure took shape on the path leading to the cabin. "R-Rayven? Is that you?" He turned for a split second to grab his cloak then hurried out after the figure.
As he came closer he saw the folds of a dark green cloak. The humming was quiet yet he still managed to hear it. He felt the need to call again but just then the figure turned. Eyes glittered within the hood. Clopin swore they were green. Then the person whirled away, leading him further from the cabin. Another breeze sent loose snow dashing across his vision. When it cleared the figure was standing mere inches away.
When the hood of the cloak was drawn back he found that it was indeed Rayven. A new streak of white marked her hair. She regarded him with seriousness, then smiled. "Come," she said, "I have something to show you." She began humming again as she led him through the snow in a seemingly random direction. Curious and slightly amused, Clopin followed without complaint. The wind harrassed them several times, stealing away Rayven's tune in the snow that once more stung his eyes. During one such time he had to close his eyes against the blinding chill; when he opened them again Rayven was gone.
He turned about in confusion, yet again wondering if he was only dreaming. Then a new voice came in a soft song, a voice that seemed old and weary yet still beautiful in music.

"Hear my silent prayer
Heed my quiet call
When the dark and blue surround you
Step into my sight
Look inside the light
You will know that I have found you."

The voice was both strange and familiar to him. He wasn't quite sure. But he knew it was not Rayven's. He took steps in the direction he thought the voice had come from, eventually stepping onto a path toward the river. It was there that the snowcover began to lighten so he might walk more evenly. A figure sat huddled beside the bank. He hesitated, unsure whether he wanted to pursue this dream. Normally he would trust Rayven, yet this time there was something at stake that he dare not name; the last of his sanity. A suspicion was growing in him and he was uncertain if he wanted to see its truth.
A gust of wind, carrying a ghostly humming, gently pushed at him. Clopin silently released his worries to the elements and finally took another step forward. The figure moved slightly in a rocking motion. He could see now as the snow cleared to a few drifting flakes that settled to glitter along midnight hair with silver streaks aplenty. A blue cloak hid the rest of the form but he knew...he knew...
He began to lower himself into a crouch, reaching one hand to hesitantly place on the shoulder. The head turned slowly, as if the person was also unsure. He saw the eyes and his heart skipped several beats. They were aged, and weary, and within was an ever-lasting pain he would never be able to dispel no matter how many jests he might make. But they were the same soft blue eyes that had captured his heart.
He fell onto one knee, hand trembling as he reached to touch her face, cupping her left cheek. So many much age...Why...He opened his mouth to speak. Samira stopped him by placing a finger over his lips. Then she leaned forward and replaced the finger with her lips in a far-too-long overdue kiss.
And yet it still seemed to end too soon. She sat back, clasping Clopin's hands in hers. Her voice seemed too quiet when she spoke. "Yes, I am real..." Her eyes searched his face, become tearful. "A-And so are you..."
He moved to embrace her, pressing her head against his chest while he gently stroked her hair. "And we have both not died to come to see this day."
She smiled. "I can hear your heartbeat, so we must be alive." Again she sat back, resuming the search this time in his eyes.
Clopin wanted to ask how Rayven had found her. He had so many questions...and she probably did, too. For now, though, he only wanted to see her, hold her, and make sure she stayed instead of fading away like in so many dreams. And her thoughts were exactly the same.

~The End

Yay!! Thanks to everyone who made these fics possible: The HoND production crew at Disney, my Mom for signing us up for an Internet account, and the whole HoND fanbase: Rex, JNK, "Puppet", Larissa, Cloud, Sue, Therese, Alikhat, JudgeC, Tatyana, Peregrine, Mirana, Zora, Cira, Lily, Tereina, Cala, Jenny, Fantine, Emerald, Sovereign Brigand, Rayne, Coquirie, Wylla, Rayven, Jadzia, Mr Jester, Irene, Virginie, Y'Dnew, and everyone else I've forgotten the names of because my memory can be like some much swiss cheese!

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(c) 1999-2004 Autumn Loweck. This work may not be copied, distributed, or reprinted without the author's permission. All characters are property of Autumn Loweck (aka Shiri), unless specified otherwise, and may not be "borrowed" or mentioned in other works without notifying the author first