“No, I will not do this.” Prince Zakir was adamant. “I will not keep secrets from my wife. There has to be another way.”
“There is none, my prince,” the unicorn replied sadly.
“Then I must remain celibate, even if it be for the rest of my life.”
And so another month went by, and winter slowly turned into spring, and with spring came all the longings that a young man has to lie with a woman. Yet still Prince Zakir kept true to his vows.
One night, however, he could take it no longer, and so he went out into the castle garden and called the unicorn’s name softly.
As Ancoron approached, he bowed his head, only this time the prince bowed back, and said, “May God forgive me, but I have reconsidered your offer.”
“Then you will swear never to speak of me to your wife or anyone else again?” the unicorn asked.
“I swear it,” said the prince, and bowed his head lower as if in shame.
No sooner had he spoken these words than Ancoron disappeared; and Prince Zakir knew in that moment that he would never see the unicorn again, for he was no longer pure of heart.
That evening the unicorn met with Princess Geva in the garden for the last time.
“I must go away now,” he told her. “But I will never forget you.”
“No, Ancoron!” she cried. “Please—I couldn’t bear it! If I lose you my heart will surely break!”
“You have your prince,” said Ancoron, “to mend it for you.”
She burst into tears now, weeping and sobbing into her hands with head bowed.
“I am sorry,” the unicorn sighed, and then, as the princess reached out a hand to caress his nose, with a nod of his head he tilted his horn quickly downwards and scratched her palm with its tip, just enough to draw blood.
She let out a small gasp and then immediately fainted.
When she awoke a short time later she was alone, lying next to the rosebush, and seeing the scratch on the palm of her hand she chided herself for being so foolish.
“I stayed too long awake,” she said, “and fell asleep on my feet! I must have tried to grasp the rosebush as I fell.”
Then she went inside to seek her husband, and soon found him waiting for her in their bedchamber. She smiled fondly as she saw him lying there in what was to be their marriage bed. Now he beckoned to her, and letting her gown fall from her shoulders, she climbed into bed with him.
That night Princess Geva knew her husband for the first time, and afterwards as she lay in his arms she whispered to him: “My dear prince, my own Zakir. Why ever did we wait so long?”
And this brought a tear to the prince’s eye, but he turned his face away so that she would not see, and not willing to lie to his beloved, only said: “We had to wait until the time was right.”
The next day Princess Geva rose, and leaving her husband sleeping, dressed and went out into the garden as she was wont to do; though of course she now no longer remembered the reason for it, but imagined it was only to enjoy the spring air and the birdsong and the beauty of the flowers.
It was a lovely morning, and the sun shone gently as it rose over the tops of the trees that bordered the castle grounds, and as she strolled thus she felt happy, but also a little sad. The happiness, she knew, sprang from her love, but whence the sadness came she had no inkling. It was like a dull ache in the breast, or a tightening around the heart; as of a deep, abiding longing that she could not name, or a wound that had no physical cause and therefore no practical remedy.
“I suppose every woman must feel this way after the loss of her maidenhead,” she thought.
Then later that afternoon, as she took the same route back to the castle, she passed the rosebush on her way and recalled again how the night before she had so foolishly fallen asleep and scratched herself on one of the thorns. And now as she glanced down at the spot whereupon she had awoken, a flash of light like the sparkling of a dewdrop caught her eye.
Curious, she bent down for a closer look.
There, amid the tangled roots of the rosebush, a tiny tear-shaped diamond lay glittering in the sun.
© 2014 by Strider Lee