Tell me where fancy’s bred
In the head
In the heart
The sand had been swept smooth by wind and weather; it was unmarred by a single footprint, the sound of the ocean a distant memory. Coastal fauna grew in a natural circle around it, punctuated by taller trees, gnarled and twisted from a difficult life. At midnight, when the moon was at its zenith, their shadows didn’t touch the ring of flickering candles that sometimes lit the clearing.
Now ten wispy, white figures crouched inside the circle, palms buried in the sand. Smoke of jasmine - for love and prosperity - and lemon verbena - to attract a mate - rose from the cauldron on the altar, straight up into the ebony dome. Not a breath of wind would dare to carry it away. The two white candles were engraved simply with the words man and woman. A low musical hum accompanied the ritual.
This spell is cast within the heart,
that love will come and not depart.
Evil, driven out for the moment beyond the circle, watched from the shadows.
It was a handfasting - a wedding to come - like scrying to foretell the future. What was it about knowing what the future held? Knowing changed behaviour and altered expectation. That was why this wedding was being performed in secret, the parties not physically present, as they did not even know about each other yet. The two green wax dolls on the altar represented the pair.
Nobody knew who they were. The fates would bring them together when the time was right. Knowledge might keep them away. And it was imperative that they came.