The Return

By Riverwinde

Cecily sighed, dropped her bag on the ground and sat down beside it. She was thirsty and exhausted and felt like she wanted to die. She had gotten into a small fight with five Roman soldiers and had taken a sword slash in the shoulder. Fortunately she knew she had only a little more ways to travel till she got to the Sanctuary. "Soon I will be there, " she said quietly to herself.

Cecily forced herself onto her feet, picked up her bag and continued through the forest. She soon saw two people coming her way and began to make her way towards them. She had only partially covered the distance, before her knees weakened and she collapsed to the ground.


Conor and Fergus were running after the big buck that they intended to have for that night's dinner when Fergus caught sight of the girl walking towards them. He broke into a sprint when she collapsed and ran towards her, Conor trailing a few feet behind him. He dropped to his knees beside the still form and gently turned her over. Fergus brushed the long dark hair off her face and gasped. Conor reached his side and looked down.

"It's Cecily," he said and the shock echoed through his voice.


Tully and Catlin came running up when Conor and Fergus arrived with Fergus carrying Cecily. They stopped in their tracks and looked at Cecily.

"Who is she?" Tully asked. Catlin said nothing, but there were questions in her eyes.

"Her name is Cecily. She is my twin sister," Conor said.

Tully and Catlin stared at him in shock.

"I didn't know you had a sister," Catlin said finally.

"She ran away when we were fifteen and we never knew why. It was like one day she was here and the next day she was gone. My mother was heartbroken. Cecily was her only daughter and though my mother wanted her to be a lady and not a warrior, I know that my mother was proud of her. My father sent people out to search for her but nobody ever found anything and she was given up for lost. My parents disowned her for the pain she had put them through and speaking her name was forbidden. We got on with our lives and she was forgotten by everyone. Everyone except me." The sadness was evident in Conor's voice.

"Where should we put her?" Fergus asked.

"In my cave," Conor said. "I'll sit by her until she wakes up."

"I'll get a healer," Catlin said as she rushed off.

While she was looking for Kylynn, Fergus carried Cecily into Conor's cave and set her gently on the bed. "I'll be right outside," he told Conor.

Conor nodded never taking his eyes off Cecily.


Catlin returned a few minutes later with Kylynn the healer. Conor was pushed outside to wait while Cecily was attended to.

"I don't know what to do Fergus. For the past five years I have dreamed of seeing my sister again, dreamed that she would come back and now that she is here, I don't know what to say. I am angry at her for leaving us and not being here when our parents died..." Conor's voice trailed off.

"I was as angry with her as your father was when she left. I don't know if I even want to see her. She was like my own daughter, but you have to remember that if she had been there, she would have died too. At least this way she is still alive."

"But for how long? She is badly injured and she might die before I get a chance to talk with her. To find out why she left. I can't lose another person that I care about!" Conor's voice was shrill.

Fergus grabbed him by the shoulders, "Look at me! Cecily is not going to die. She will have the best of care. Kylynn is the best healer on the island."

Conor took a deep breath. "You're right."

Fergus smiled, " Of course I am right. When have I ever been wrong?"

Conor looked at him straight in the eye. "Do you really want me to answer that?"

Catlin stepped out before Fergus could reply. "Cecily is awake and would like to see you both," she said.

Conor squared his shoulders and went into the cave with Fergus following at his heels.


Cecily sat up as Conor walked in and sat down beside her on the bed. Fergus stayed by the door shifting from foot to foot.

"How are you feeling?" Conor asked hesitantly.

"Better," Cecily nanswered, "It feels good to be off my feet. "

"That's good," Conor said his voice trailing off.

Both of them sat there neither knowing what to say. Finally Cecily looked at Fergus and with a small smile said, "Hello Fergus. You still keeping Conor in line for me?"

"Conor can take care of himself," Fergus said. His voice was clipped.

Cecily's smile faded and she looked at Conor with a question in her eyes. Conor looked down avoiding her gaze.

"Oh. I see," Cecily said softly. "I'm tired. I think I'll try to sleep some more."

"Well good-bye. I'll see you later." With those words Conor walked quickly out of the cave.

"Sleep well lass," Fergus said then he followed Conor out.

Cecily lay back down after they left fighting back tears and losing. Conor didn't want her back in his life. She was truly alone.


Cecily was startled out of her tears when a soft voice asked," May I come in?" She looked up and saw Catlin standing in the doorway.

"Please," she said.

Catlin stepped in and walked over to the bed and sat down beside her. "How are you feeling?" she asked

"I feel better. It's nice to be waited on," Cecily said and tried to laugh. Her laughter soon turned into sobs.

Catlin leaned over and put her arms around her and just held her while she cried.


Cecily picked up her head as her sobs quieted. She looked into Catlin's concerned face and managed a wobbling smile. Catlin smiled back in return. The two sat in silence for a moment, the bond that was now between them evident.

Finally Catlin broke the silence. "What was it like to be a normal little girl?" she asked.

Cecily sat back and thought for a moment.

"It was like any normal childhood I guess. Conor was slightly older than me and he never let me forget it. He and Aiden would torment me unmercifully. I used to run to my father crying and then he would get stern with them. That of course made things worse. I finally decided one day to stand up for myself," she said grinning.

"What did you do?" Catlin asked.

"I was about seven years old. One day Aiden had picked me up and was dangling me over the river threatening to drop me in. Somehow I got free and pushed him in. I remember him sitting in the river with a shocked look on his face. After that I guess they accepted me into their little group. And that was the end of my mother trying to mold me into a lady. I could rival any boy when it came to wrestling. In fact I was better than Conor."

Catlin smiled. "Well I don't think that would be too hard. You should have seen him against Vorgreen," she said laughingly.

"What was your childhood like?" Cecily asked her.

Catlin stiffened and her face filled with pain.

"I didn't have much of a childhood. My parents died when I was very young. My sister and I were taken in by an older man who sold us to the Romans as slaves." Her voice trailed off as her head lowered.

Cecily crawled across the bed and sat down next to Catlin, putting her arm around her.

"Sometimes it is better to talk about it," she said softly.

Catlin looked up at her, seeing the compassion in her eyes, hearing the sincerity in her voice. She began to Speak.

"My sister died after she was bought by a leper who ran a brothel. I had cut myself to avoid him buying me too. I felt so guilty that I wanted to die too," she said. "Until Conor rescued me, I thought I would die a slave doomed never to be happy. I used to feel guilty over my sister's death, but Conor taught me how to forgive myself."

"Are you happy now?" Cecily asked.

Catlin replied, "I am. I am surrounded by my friends. These people love me regardless of what happened to me. I am not ashamed of my past anymore."

Cecily stared down at her hands. "I have forgotten what it is like to be happy."

Catlin put her hand on her shoulder. "What happened to make you run away?" she asked.

Cecily stared off into the distance and then unfolded her story.

"It happened when I was fifteen. I was out by myself just walking through the forest like I did every day. I was on my way home and it was really dark out. I remember thinking that my parents were going to be worried that I had stayed out so late, because I had never done that before. I remember coming across two Roman soldiers. They grabbed me and threw me down on the ground. I tried to get away but I was not strong enough." The tears came again.

Catlin just sat there silently as Cecily fought to control herself.

"After they were done, they left me and went away. I remember curling up and silently crying. I could not go back to my family. I was afraid that they would be angry with me for letting that happen. I lay there all through the night and when the morning came I left."

Catlin looked into Cecily's eyes. "It was not your fault. Your parents would not have blamed you. They were stronger than you. There was nothing you could have done. Believe me I know."

"Thank you for believing me. I want to tell Conor and Fergus why I left but I am afraid. I know that Conor must have been hurt when I left, and Fergus must have been angry with me for deserting my family."

"If you want me too, I will tell them. You needn't explain anything," Catlin offered.

"Would you really do that for me?" Cecily asked.

"Aye, and now you must sleep."

Catlin silently left the room as Cecily's eyes closed and she drifted off to sleep.


Outside Conor was waiting for her. "What did she say?" he asked stonily.

Catlin whirled around anger flashing in her eyes.

"Cecily has been through so much and you sit there and condemn her for leaving! She told me why she left and it is not because of a foolish whim!" she stormed.

Conor was taken aback. He had never seen Cat like this. He was even more startled when tears glistened in her eyes and started to drip down her cheeks.

"Where's Fergus? Cecily asked me to tell you her story and Fergus needs to hear it."

"I'll go find him," Conor said.

He got up and went to find Fergus, leaving Catlin sitting on the rock, her heart aching for a girl who had been through so much pain. Pain that Catlin knew well.

Conor soon returned with Fergus. They took seats near Catlin and waited while she gathered her thoughts.

"You both have been treating Cecily like she is the enemy," Catlin said.

"She abandoned her family," Fergus said angrily.

"She told me why she left," Catlin said spitting the words out her eyes flashing.

"Well tell us why she left then,"Conor said folding his arms.

Catlin closed her eyes for a moment and then began.

"She was out walking by herself through the forest. When it got dark she started for home. On her way home Cecily came across two Roman soldiers," Catlin stopped for a moment stifling a sob. She fought to control herself before she continued. "They grabbed her and threw her on the ground. She tried to break free but she was not strong enough."

"Sweet Brigid! The poor lass," Fergus exclaimed in disbelief.

"She was so ashamed even though it was not her fault that she decided that she couldn't return home. She was afraid that she would be blamed for what had happened," Catlin said. "I can understand her feelings." Her voice trailed off and she stared off into the distance.

"I must go see her," Conor said getting up. He rushed to his cave leaving Fergus and Catlin behind.


As soon as he entered the doorway, Conor stopped. Cecily lay on the bed asleep. He stepped forward and gazed at his sister's face so much like his own. As he sat down beside her, Cecily's eyes opened. She stared at Conor with haunted eyes. Eyes that had seen too much.

"I know," was all he said.

Cecily's eyes filled with tears. "Do you hate me?" she asked.

Conor leaned over and kissed her forehead. "I could never hate you. Especially for something that was not your fault."

Cecily smiled shakily. "Then if it is all right with you I would like to stay here. My wandering days are over."

Conor smiled. "There is nothing I would like better"

The End