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by moonlight

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It begins on the midnight of a perfectly full moon which, although Lír does not know it for some time, lines up perfectly with his bedroom window. He knows only that he is asleep, surely, and dreaming, for how else could she be there?

The sound of the sea was in his ears, and the memory of his father’s voice, but when she comes into the dream it fades away into a scent he cannot quite identify at first. She is at one and the same time Amalthea and the unicorn, which his dreaming mind takes for a matter of course. Certainly she was both when she was with him in the old castle, even if he did not know it and she didn’t remember it at the time. Yet now there is something older and more knowing in her eyes, and he wonders if it had been there when she was a unicorn and not also the Lady Amalthea of mysterious heritage.

It wounds him to imagine that this new wisdom and pain may have been born between them, and he tries to speak, to apologize or something, but she shakes her head softly as she moves towards him with a grace that belies the human skin. As he welcomes the touch of her lips on his, the source of the smell comes to him. A forest blooms into the air around him as the castle falls away, and with it all the sounds of nighttime animals and the heavy scent of flowers that only bloom when the sun has left the sky. Too, there is the scent of something that can only be the unicorn, and the feel of fur beneath his hands as well as skin, but he cares no more than he did when Schmendrick first told him of her nature.

Lír loves whom he loves, and nothing will turn him from her. He takes every doubling of sensation in stride, facing this strangeness as a challenge no less than facing a dragon, and more worthy of the effort - for he can feel her joy in this as he never earned it with all his good deeds.

It isn’t until many, many moons later that he begins to realize something is changing within them both, and by then he is well past caring what is dreaming and what is happening when he is awake. He wonders if this is anything like what she felt in his father’s castle, but only in a distant way. And come the day when his people tell him Schmendrick is coming to visit, he is no more surprised by that than anything else.

Judging by the expression in the magician’s eyes, the wonder that has been happening is apparent to him, and far more surprising that it really ought to have been, Lír feels. He knew that Lír belonged to Amalthea, as Amalthea belonged to Lír. He should always have known they would find a way back to one another.