For One to Live

A/N: Amalthea is not content to live as a Unicorn any longer, and fights to regain her human form, against the wishes of the Unicorn half of her heart. WARNING: This fic grows out of the idea that it wasn't merely regret that lived in the Unicorn's heart, and so is slightly au from the movie and book (which I only read once, so this is largely based on the movie). It was written in one sitting late a night and is just for fun, so please don't take yourself too seriously while you read it. Just enjoy. I hope you like the idea.

An older Unicorn would have deemed the issue unworthwile to contemplate, a younger one, rather foolish. A thing of dreams, if they ever had any, which they did not. But it could no longer be said she was merely as she had been born.

For her heart was half-human now, it seemed. Amalthea lived on, regretting, hating her own decision.

'I am not alone in the world any longer,' Amalthea said. 'The others have returned. Even in a distant corner of my forest does another live. What need do they have of me now?'

'I am a Unicorn,' she would answer herself. 'That is enough.'

'Is it?'

And she would shake her head and toss her moonlight-colored mane, feeling the unimaginable softness of it cascading down her neck, reminding her of what she was. What she had always been, would always be.

Still, the human girl that had been born so few years ago, barely any time at all to a Unicorn, would not be silent. So the Unicorn sought out the others like her, hoping their voices would overcome Amalthea's.

The older Unicorn, a male, she sought in the deep shadows of the trees. Strangely, having grown used to the dimness of the sea, all of the Unicorns seemed to linger in the twilight of the shade. They were no longer to be seen by Man at all, even the young maidens whose still-pure hearts gained them brief access to the ageless, uncorruptable Unicorns, before the creatures grew tired of the small women who smelled of aging, of mortality, despite the freshness of their souls.

The other Unicorn was alone at the moment, and she recalled that his younger female cohort, his mate-to-be, was often at the large lake that was reminiscent of the water she had spent so long under.

When he saw her, he greeted her in their fashion, whickering her name, which in Man's terms would be rendered "First Light of the Moon". "You have not come here for many seasons. You still enjoy the light of the sun?"

"How could you not? You, who are named for it," she answered in kind, for his name would be, "A Glow like the Sun".

"I have spent much time in its glory. But longer in its absence."

"The evil of Man," First Light snorted.

Glow nodded his head. "I find it strange to walk dry land again. It seems not so long ago I traveled the waves. Did we not long for the shore? And yet, has not the land been overtaken by Man and his evil? Few are the places he does not invade."

First Light considered this. "There are places of purity, still."

It was his turn to snort, lifted and replacing his hooves as if ready to move away. "Not for much longer. All we have now are brief seasons in which to enjoy the sun and greenery before, I fear as others have confided they do also, we will seek the comfort of the waves again."

She half-reared in shock. "Comfort? I sought to liberate you from your imprisonment, and you would return willingly?"

"We cannot wait until the world crumbles to be free of Man. We will seek the last refuge there is, and remain free of Man's attempts to capture us, myths though we are to him." This Glow said as if it was a matter of no importance. Unicorns did not fight for land, or care much about anything but being outside the grasp of Time and away from the creatures they both pitied and loathed. Creatures whose fickle hearts were full of short-lived but mind-swaying emotions, such as lust and greed. Unicorns could not be touched by that.

Unless, of course, they were not purely Unicorns still.

'You risked the purity of your soul for your kind. You had forgotten their hearts are cold,' Amalthea said.

'Not cold, merely unaffected by trivialities,' First Light protested inwardly. This strangle feeling of a doubled existance was nigh overwhelming, and would frighten the others if they knew. To think they could be tainted as well...but only if they allowed their immortal forms to be traded for those that were effected by both Time and the world around them.

"Perhaps when the race of Man fades, as all creatures do, we shall return." Glow lifted his head, ears flicking back, and both Unicorns hear the sound of faint hoofbeats, as "Similar to A Star" returned. First Light took her leave, in less peace than she'd been before.

She could wait no longer, barely a full Passing, or twelve seasons, after than unsettling conversation, to see him again. Her heart ached, a testament to its turning. But first, to delay herself long enough to possibly change her mind, she sough Schmendrick until she finally found the wizard with Molly. They resided in a forest just outside of a kindom, quite simply. The kingdom she did not know the name of, but the forest was the home of "Purer Than Silver".

Two sleeping forms in a cabin off a main path, when he could magic himself up a castle of his own. But it seemed having the power cured him of a desire to seek fame. Sometimes, though rarely, just knowing one could do something was enough. She could not open the door but could sense his dreams, and it was a simple matter to step into them.

"Magician," she said softly to his snoring form well before dawn. He stirred. "Awaken."

Within moments he opened the door, and atfer the briefest of pauses, she stepped in. Molly still slumbered in a smaller side-room of the surprisingly scarcely furnished little house. Amalthea wanted to see her.

'Be still,' First Light scolded her.

"My lady," Schmendrick said, voice nearly level but with an undercurrent of surprise. "I did not expect to see you again."

"Nor I, you," she answered. "I was content to have finished my task and return home. But...it has not been the same."

Schmendrick went to a square table placed beside the far wall, fiddling with something, his back turned to her. When he spun about he had lit a rather large candle. She wanted to chuckle. "I would have thought you would use your magic."

He smiled sheepishly. "Yes, well, Molly doesn't like me to show off. And I no longer feel the need to." His expression grew serious. "I've learned more about the power I summon to do my bidding; it doesn't do to disturb the balance of magical energy so often as people would like."

She lowered her gaze. "I need you to disturb that balance, and do for me just one thing."

"Anything," he said instantly. The candle behind him would have allowed another human only to see his silhouette, but her eyes saw better than that. The same earnest desire to be of use to her still shone in his eyes, tempered by experience and wisdom. On his lips, a faint, friendly smile. She was struck by the simple fact that Unicorns did not make friends the way humans did. Of course, they did not betray one another as humans did, either.

"Find a way to purge the human girl Amalthea from my heart. She lives on, still mourning her lost love." First Light shook her head. "I cannot live as a mortal when I am not one. It does no do, as you say, to have a mortal heart in an immortal body. Unicorns were made as they are for a reason."

They had been made to be a source of magic and purity, to be sure that it would always be in the world, until the world itself fell away. No one, even the Unicorns themselves, knew what would become of them then. But it was far and away, and to care for others outside their kind would disrupt not only their purity, but would be unbearable torment. As First Light knew well.

Schmendrick was still, considering. "I don't know how I would do this." He rubbed his chin with one hand. "I'm still learning, but I'm not sure there ever was a spell to seperate two beings from one body, for never before has there been such a thing."

"You must try," she said earnestly. "You have always tried."

"It didn't always come out well," he reminded her, his eyes worried.

"Perhaps not at first, but always in the end," she insisted, indeed recalling his first attempts, long ago, to free her from captivity in the Midnight Carnival.

Schmendrick sighed. "I can try to simply call upon the magic and direct it to seek an answer to my question. It's a brute-force approach, not very refined, but there's little else to do. No amount of skill in directing magic in the world matters when you don't know what you want it to do."

"Now?" she asked.

"Would you like to wait?" At her firm decision to move forward, he raised his hands at her and began to summon. He no longer said, "Magic do as you will" and trusted in the energy to do the right thing. "Magic, answer my call. Do as I will. Fill this immortal body, learn the mysteries of its being..."

'You'd kill me,' Amalthea mused as the power soaked into her skin like water. First Light shuddered, uncomfortable, frightened for the first time in a long time.

'You were never meant to be,' she answered. 'You must go.'

'Don't you see you will be the same as them? Be rid of me and be mindless in your desire to be "pure"!' Amalthea called against the brewing storm inside her head. Winds howled internally, though outside of her body the world remained the same, save for the sweat on the wizard's face.

'We were meant to be so...'

'They are simple creatures! They would walk into captivity again, caring nothing for the world or even themselves! They are captive to the humans' will but will not acknowledge it!'

Schmendrick began to shake as the magic was no longer coming at his will, but another's. Instead of leaping to his hands at his call he felt it being pulled through him, as though he were a gateway. This had never happened before, and he tried to open his mouth to end his summoning.

'No!' Amalthea cried.

Time itself seemed to freeze as the spell broke and shattered like a crystal made of light, shards freezing and then flying into the air. They slammed into the walls but did not break them, sending ripples through the air as they returned to their source. Outside the cabin the veils of clouds suddenly tumbled through the skies, until the stars were visible again. Schmendrick dropped to the floor. After several minutes he arose and studied his friend.

The Unicorn's body shuddered, and she stepped in place as though testing her legs.

"Unicorn? All you all right?" Schmendrick asked a little fearfully. "I don't know what happened--"

"She is gone," she said softly, eyes wide in surprise. "I did not think it would work..."

Schmendrick smiled. "What was this, telling me to try what would not work?" His whole body felt sore, even his heart--he had known the lady Amalthea, after all, and hadn't stopped to fully consider what it would mean to him to send her away. But it was the Unicorn's wish; her body, her life, after all.

"The Unicorn is gone," Amalthea said, her voice the same to his uncomprehending ears. "I forced her out when she tried to push the magic out, because she felt me drawing it to myself. I scattered her to the wind, where she can be forever free of Man's grasp."

He trembled wearily, frightened. His hands clenched into fist, but he knew he was too tired to try to call back more magic now. "What are you saying? Who are you?" His voice came out loud and angry, half an octave higher than usual.

"She wished to be free of me," she explained gently, ears rotating as though listening for sounds of the original owner of the body she occupied. "She thought her heart had merely changed, but truly I was an entirely new being formed when she forgot she was a Unicorn. Their hearts cannot love, or long, or feel regret. To be human she needed a new heart, and though her memories still occupied part of my body, I was never her." She lifted her head as Schmendrick stared disbelievingly at her. "She merged my form into her own because her mind occupied my body! And when you tried to change her back, there were two of us in there! You should have used another spell to seperate us, summoning the immportal light of the sun and moon and stars to create her a new body!" Her voice turned angry and her horn began to glow, and she stomped a hoof angrily. "But you didn't have the knowledge of such things, or you would have known this was so. Nor did you have the ability to do such a thing for her, knowing it was the only right course of action! You, Magician, destroyed my form to free her--but you imprisoned me!"

Her horn was bright as the moon now, confined to one room, and had Schmendrick been thinking clearly, he would have worried about it attracting curiousity as it glowed through his cloth-covered window. He had been unable to say anything through all of Amalthea's explanations and accusations, speechless for only the second time in his life. 'What have I done?'

"Set me free of this form!" Amalthea demanded.

He came to, as if from a dream, and frowned angrily at her, crossing his arms over his chest. "Do it yourself, if you can."

The light faded. "I cannot. This body is magic, but cannot command it. Please," she begged suddenly, startling him. "The Unicorn wanted to be free from ever having a tainted heart again. Now she never will. I did not mean for this to happen, I was merely pushing her away from myself. I...I cannot bear the thought of being alone in this ageless body, with only her cold-hearted kin for company."

"There is nothing you can do to reclaim her," she said when he did not respond. "You could never even find her."

He was angry with himself, and uncharacteristically took it out on someone else. "How do you think you even deserve a body of your own now? How could Lir love someone like you?" He was guessing, but he was pretty sure that's what Amalthea had wanted all this time, to be reunited with her prince.

The light in her horn went out completely and she lowered her head. Were it not for the natural shine and inherent gracefulness of her form, she could be mistaken for a broken-spirited little mare. But that didn't stop his words.

"You do not act like someone worthy of being loved, if he ever loved you in the first place!"

At this last, she lifted her head again. "She had forgotten who she was, and faded into sleep. I came to, awakened in a strange place, with her fleeing memories of a forest," she said softly. "I asked Molly who I was. I accepted her answer, because it seemed to make sense with what I could remember. But they were her memories, and I was the only one awake in her body when Lir came to me. Schmendrick, I never wanted him, because I knew she would awaken! But...in time, when she did not, I forgot about her, and loved Lir back."

Finally, in the still and cold silence--for the candle had blown out long ago, leaving the room in a chilled darkness--he spoke again. "What you have done is wrong. Even if I understand why you did it."

"I know," she whispered helplessly. She would have wrung her hands if she'd had any. "I did not mean to. I cannot undo it. Please, set me free of this form and let me live the life I wanted, at Lir's side." She never wondered if he would have have her, if he still loved her. Never questioned that he could love no one else but his moonbeam-colored maiden Amalthea, with her strange eyes.

"And tell him you killed the Unicorn?" he asked flatly. Her reaction was instant. She half-reared and landed hard.

"I did not kill her! I merely pushed her away from me, and she...changed. To all else, we are one and the same. It shall remain so in their eyes, it does not bother me."

"Schmendrick?" called Molly sleepily from their small bedroom. He could hear her tossing and turning, but the sleep-spell he cast on her earlier because of her fever held her against her will. She did not awaken and enter the main room.

Amalthea turned her head, but when Molly did not appear, let her pleading gaze fall upon Schmendrick once more. "Please."

In the end, he did it. There was no reason not to anymore. When her graceful naked form appeared, long hair falling past her knees, he fashioned a dress out of several old cloaks, waving his hands in the air. The faded cloth only served to enhance her obvious beauty. Her forhead was clear, unmarked by the Unicorn's small flower-shaped violet bruise. She was lovely, and though her eyes did not harbor visions of a far-off forest, they still held a closely-guarded secret. But to those that had known her before, this would be no different, even if the secret had changed.

When Molly was well, he took away the spell, and the woman gave a cry of shock and delight to see Amalthea, who told her only that she longed to see Lir, now that the other Unicorns were in the world again.

"Schmendrick, let's accompany her to Lir's castle," Molly said as Amalthea wandered about the garden in front of the house, reacqauinting herself with the act of walking on two legs. They stood in the doorway, watching her. Schmendrick's lips were a thin, pale line on his tired face.

He had to ask himself why he felt the way he did. Was it simply that what Amalthea had done was wrong, even if accidental, or because he had revered the Unicorn? He had admired what she was; true magic, an innocent being if he ever knew one. Brave in the manner of one who simply knew they could not be hurt. But truth be told, he had spent most of his time in the company of Amalthea, when he was not being dragged into a new humiliating and uncomfortable situation by Haggard.

There was no question that the Unicorn's body had belonged to her, not Amalthea. But if he'd been wiser before, if he'd been smart enough to really think about the circumstances, he would have asked himself how a Unicorn began to have human emotions. Perhaps later, in time, he could have fashioned Amalthea her own body. But it was too late now. Even so, he was as wrung by guilt over his failure to spare Amalthea grief as he was by his failure to save the Unicorn.

'I will find her someday,' he thought. 'But what will I do then? Retake her body from Amalthea, and give her her own?' He would have to be be better and controlling and undertstanding magic in order to form a body from nothingness.

"Schmendrick?" Molly asked.

Then that's what he would do, he resolved. But of course, he would not tell anyone this.

Molly tugged at his sleeve and he looked down at her, managing a smile. "Sorry. I'm still tired. Of course we'll go with Amalthea. It's been too long since we last saw the king. I hear his kingdom is flourishing now." He'd also heard the king was sought after by many eligable maidens. He wondered if Lir had ever fallen in love again. He doubted it.

"Much better than when Haggard ruled," Molly said decisively, snorting a little.

"Molly."

"Well, it's true!" she said unapologetically.

Amalthea approached them, barefooted. He had forgotten to make her shoes. Well, he still had some time, and several old pairs in his room. Making something from nothing was hard, but he'd long ago master the art of conversion.

"Will we go soon?" she asked hesitantly.

"Don't you want to eat first?" Molly asked. Amalthea had declined breakfast. She shook her head now.

"Then there's no reason not to be off," Molly decided. She entered the low builing and came back out with two bulging, bright cloths tied into carrying bags, one in each hand. She stepped away from the house and looked expectantly at Schmendrick.

He turned to it and waved his hand. The cabin reverted to it's original form of a large old tree. He left the garden as was.

Amalthea gazed at him questioningly as he handed her her newly feminized traveling boots. He smiled faintly. "I did miss you. As did Molly."

She finally smiled at him. "I knew Molly did. I missed you both." But it was for Lir that she longed. He nodded, and they began their journey back to the kingdom by the sea that they had last seen years ago.