In the mere moment between waking and a dream, she would hear their laughter. The crackling warmth of a campfire. Soft words she couldn’t hear clearly enough to understand, as if they were spoken underwater. If she opened her eyes before she woke, there were times she saw fleeting glimpses between the trees, shadows dancing out of memory.
Memory had long since blended with dreams, where she lived many thousands of different lives. Some as the queen of a barren realm. Some trapped eternal beneath the waves. Some simply traveling through distant unknown lands, on some endless, forgotten quest with a wizard with no magic of his own and a woman who held her pale, delicate hands by the campfire.
Some days, when the pool was clear like a mirror, with squirrels chittering back and forth in the branches above, she would see Lír reflected in her eyes, reflected back upon the surface of the water. Others she would sense magic in the air, almost strong enough walk through time. And when young girls walked the wood, calling her name – not the names she had dreamt, but names they gave to her and she knew to be hers – she would not feel their soft hands, but a gently calloused touch.
Rarely, she would see the maiden, pale and trembling with no life of her own. The young woman who walked the wood, lost and alone, a fragment of a unicorn’s dream. And, like a unicorn’s dream, she vanished and reappeared in the morning dew.
But it is only then, in the sparse breath of time between the dream and her life in the wood, that what she remembers, if only for a moment, becomes real.