DISCLAIMER: This is an erotic fairy tale based on both "Xena:Warrior Princess" and the group of tapestries known as The Unicorn Tapestries or The Hunt Of The Unicorn, presently housed at The Cloisters in New York City. However, that these particular tapestries are part of the same set is no longer generally believed; the first, the fifth, and the seventh don't quite go with the rest, while the eighth is seldom believed to exist at all. Rated R for f/f sex and unicorn-hunting-related violence. Please write and let me know how you liked it!
SPOILERS: for the 5th season and things that came before.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Hunt of the Unicorn
By Xena's Little Bitch
The First Tapestry--The Start of The Hunt
The afternoon is cold and damp. The sky is cloudy, though the closer we get to the forest, the less of it we can see. The flora is lush, all fruit-bearing trees and flowering plants. The horses stamp and shuffle, impatient for the hunt to begin; even my own mount, gentle as he is, yearns for the chase. As it always has been, I play my part to perfection; only my horse can sense my uneasiness. I desire neither this marriage nor this hunt celebrating it. Animals should not be used for the sport of men, and neither should women for that matter, but my words are worthless in this world. I am but an ornament, and a cold one at that! If the Lady Gabrielle were not to marry, the world itself would not come to an end, but my world would. As the last of my generation it is my duty to continue the line. I have no choice. Let this begin so that it may be finished just that much sooner.
The scout in the trees gestures for the hunting party to approach. The dogs bark loudly, straining at their leashes. The men who hold them back are so ugly to me, their faces almost inhuman. Even if the unicorn were the most unattractive of animals, it's face would still hold more grace than these. Alas, the unicorn is anything but ugly.
The Second Tapestry--The Unicorn Is Found
We behold her. The hunters stand back, amazed at their luck, unable to believe that she has come here, to this fountain in the woods. She is beautiful, like a small, luminous white horse, but not a horse at all. She is leaning down, bending her neck, touching her single horn to the water at the fountain; it has been whispered lately that the water has something wrong with it and is making people sick. I hear murmurs in the crowd that the unicorn has come to purify it. Come to help us and yet we hunt her. Other animals of the forest gather; a hyena observes the scene patiently, within striking distance of a stag. Even lions stand nearby, watching silently. I look at the unicorn helplessly, spellbound by her beauty. Suddenly she lifts her head and looks right at me. I'm at the edge of the hunting party, as far from the rest of them as I could be, and our eyes meet. Her eyes are deep deep blue, and when they look into mine it as if she has kicked me in the stomach with all her strength. This power emanates from her, and I have a sense of recognition that is stronger than anything I have ever felt. How do I know the unicorn is female? With my eyes I try to tell her to run, to get away from this place, that the men are going to try to kill her. She looks at me sadly, almost a sense of longing in her eyes, then she stands and simply jumps the hunting party, galloping gracefully into the forest and away.
The Third Tapestry--The Unicorn Leaps Out Of the Stream
I lag behind the rest of the party, trying to collect my thoughts. The sky is so gray I wonder if it will rain, and if it did, would they call off the hunt? Would my husband-to-be call it off if I requested it of him? As we've barely spoken thus far, I doubt it. It would have to be my cursed luck; some young women I have known have ended up with husbands who were cordial enough. When pressed I cannot imagine what the man would be like that I would choose to marry. Suddenly I feel almost faint, and the unicorn's eyes come into my mind unbidden. I can feel her fear and I am driven to rejoin the party.
As I approach I hear the hunters yelling, the unpleasant voice of my betrothed shrill above the rest with excitement. I pray they have not killed her as I ride up to the stream. They have her surrounded, the men and the dogs, as she is crossing the water. The dogs have strangely human faces and the unicorn's back is bleeding slightly; I imagine one of them bit her and the sight of her surrounded like this makes me want to scream. It is wrong, just so wrong, to hunt a beautiful creature in this way. She is afraid but she is not near giving up. Again she catches my eye as she jumps the hunt and runs. She is afraid for me. I need to question why I know this, but I don't consider doubting the message. She's here because of me.
The Fourth Tapestry--The Unicorn At Bay
The chase is on in earnest and we race through the forest at top speed. The dogs are wild now that they have smelled the unicorn's blood and the sound of the barking rings in my ears, making my head ache and my heart beat faster with fear. My legs hug my horse tightly as I push him forward. Finally I catch up to my betrothed and call out to him as we ride.
"My lord! Please, would you spare this creature?"
He looks at me as if I am mad, as if I am nothing. Yes, to him, I am nothing gone mad; his future wife.
"Certainly not," he says, and kicks his horse onward into the middle of what appears to be a terrible battle. The sound of the horn makes me tremble.
I had to try. I feel...I feel...They have her surrounded again, in the field of forget-me-nots and cattails near the stream. She is so graceful in her defense, kicking out at the hunters behind her while lowering her long white horn to skewer an ugly little gray dog. There is so much blood. The dogs bark and whine, jumping at her legs. The hunters stand, poised to stab her. The sky darkens until it is almost green, and the sea in the distance is turbulent. The unicorn makes no sound as I approach. And then, just as she did before, she looks at me with an expression both peculiar and familiar, and jumps the dogs, hunters, and even myself. I stare after her, enthralled.
The Fifth Tapestry--The Mystic Hunt of The Unicorn
The men argue. Some of them feel that they can capture and subdue this magnificent animal. And some believe that the unicorn cannot be caught by hunters, nor by force of hounds, but only by a virgin maiden. I lower my eyes, blushing furiously, praying that somehow they will overlook me. Alas, I am the only woman in the group. I have no power, I have no bargaining tools; I am nothing but something that has to fulfill family obligations.
In moments I have changed from the young lady of the castle into bait. In a state approaching shock I am lead to a small garden, and told to stay there until the unicorn comes to me. As soon as the men creep off to hide themselves in the surrounding woods, I begin to weep silently. Because I know she will come to me. I know this beautiful creature will walk right into her death because of me and I am immobilized.
Suddenly there she is, shining brightly against the lush green of the foliage at her back. She looks at me, tears streaming down my face, and she walks slowly towards me. She knows as well as I do that the forest around us is full of armed men and anxious dogs, and still she moves inexorably onward. Everything slows down as this creature out of legend makes her way across the grass to me, to where I stand within the small rose garden.
"Please run," I whisper through my tears.
She steps over the low fence that surrounds me and I beg her to leave. She looks at me with an expression that says she has no choice, but she is almost smiling. She is so brave, I think. I reach out and stroke the warm skin just below her horn. Her eyes close when I touch her, and my body gets this tingly feeling I've never felt before. Like touching her is...just wonderful. Her head moves out towards me and she gently licks away my tears with her tongue. The scent of the roses, and the apples on the tree above me, mixed with the fragrance of the unicorn herself, and the soft strength of her tongue, is dizzying.
And suddenly the hounds are upon her and I am dragged away screaming. The last thing I think before I lose consciousness is that I have to save her.
The Sixth Tapestry--The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle
I come to suddenly, in my bed, knowing only that I have got to save her. And then I remember pieces of it. The unicorn surrounded, allowing the men to stab her with their long spears, the dogs to bite her flesh. I remember the sound of my own screaming, the feeling of being held back by hands on my arms and around my waist. And then she was dead, her body slung over a horse, surrounded by people. Everyone talking at once and no one even looking at my dead unicorn. In the distance, people watching from the castle. I can see it in my minds eye and I know it was only hours ago. I can still save her. I have to save her. It feels as if everything depends on it. Still wearing my long red velvet dress, my yellow hair now disheveled, I race through the hallways of my father's castle to the great hall.
Everyone is here in the large, cold room; the hunters, the guests come for the wedding, my parents. There are no windows and on the walls hang old, dark tapestries of hunts of years gone by. But I see none of this, I see only the unicorn. She lies dead on the long stone table, surrounded by gawkers. My heart breaks but I move forward, somehow, until I stand so close to her that I can rest my hand on her head, and I do. Suddenly I know how to save her. Everyone is so caught up in their excitement that they don't notice as I grab a knife and quickly slice open the skin of my left palm, hissing quietly with pain as I do so. I press my bleeding hand against the large wound in her neck, and I hold it there tightly, letting my blood mingle with hers, urging her to return to her body. I call to her with a voice within myself that I have never used before this moment. Suddenly she stirs and rises shakily to her feet on the table and the crowd turns and as one lets out an awestruck gasp. I am almost crying again, looking up at her in all her glory, so bright in the dim light of the great hall. I notice my father stands beside me.
"Father, I feel this is a sign. Please may I keep her as a pet?"
My father tries to look stern and mutters that if it is all right with my husband-to-be, it is all right with him. My betrothed is still staring at the gentle unicorn in shock. I almost laugh with joy as he slowly nods. I barely notice as one of the women wraps a bandage around my hand.
The Seventh Tapestry--The Unicorn In Captivity
I awaken the next morning, still dressed from the night before, having dreamed so hard I barely slept. I feel almost delirious, as if her blood effected me as much as mine did her. My dreams were all of the unicorn, her beautiful blue eyes and her white mane and the scent of her...As I brush my hair I realize that I cannot stay away from her another moment. I throw some of my possessions into a bag.
Barefoot, I run silently through the castle and out into the dawn. The grass and the wildflowers beneath my feet are wet and cold with the dew, and I run across them silently, never slipping, until I reach my destination. A clearing full of bluebells and carnations, lords and ladies, columbine, Madonna lilies and dandelions, and my unicorn in the middle of it all. She sits placidly within a low round wooden fence; she hasn't sensed me yet, so I simply stand and gaze at her. She wears an elegant blue and gold collar, and she is chained to a pomegranate tree with a slight gold chain. But that is not the prison: I am.
I step on a twig and she turns to me and stands. As if in a trance I walk towards her, climbing easily over the fence and detaching the chain from the tree. I look deeply into her eyes and I climb back over the fence, leading her by the chain as if it were a leash. She follows me, and once we are outside the enclosure, I reach up and unbuckle the collar. She shakes her mane out with the freedom of it and looks down at me. I smile.
"We're leaving here," I explain, rubbing her nose. I head into the woods and she follows.
The Eighth Tapestry --The Unicorn is Transformed
At the moment we enter the forest, the unicorn kneels next to me and gestures with her head for me to mount her. So I do. I take hold of her mane, and she takes off at a gallop. I am relieved that she seems to have a destination, that she understands the need to make haste, and that she is taking some of the responsibility out of my hands. The countryside moves by in a blur, the sun rises into the sky, the wind sends my hair and the skirt of my dress trailing out behind me. I realize I never made a decision before in my life, and look where I decided to begin! I close my eyes and let the world fly by; I feel so safe with the unicorn's strong body underneath me.
It's almost dusk when the unicorn slows and kneels to let me down.
"Thank you for the ride," I say shyly, noticing we are next to a river. I watch as the unicorn bends her head over the water to spear fish. I make camp in a field of clover within a quincunx of peach trees. I cook the fish and eat it while she watches me.
"I don't have a plan, you know," I admit to her, "I just had to get you out of there, and I had to come with you." I have no idea if she really understands my words. As it gets later, it gets colder, so I build up the fire and curl up against the unicorn, wrapping myself in the thin blanket I brought. She is so warm, her skin is so smooth, and her hot breath makes me feel secure. I sleep hard, and again I dream of her. She is with me, we are always together, and it feels so good.
I awake in the middle of the night, feeling the soft clover below me and a warm presence at my back. My eyes are still closed and I smile, smelling the unicorn's familiar scent and feeling her heat through my dress. As I awaken further, something about the unicorn does not feel quite right. I open my eyes and see the moon is high in the sky, bathing everything in its light, and that my head is leaning on what appears to be a woman's arm, smooth and unnaturally white. I spin around in the blanket and look into the unicorn's startled blue eyes; they are looking at me from a woman's face. Her skin is the palest white and she is beautiful in an almost unearthly way. Her hair is long and thick and white as well, and where her bangs part there is the slightest indentation where her horn used to be.
"You're the unicorn," I say, realizing that I am holding a naked woman in my arms. She stares at me. Her skin feels smooth under my hands in a way that makes me feel good. I don't understand it. But then, I have never touched a naked person before this night. "Say something."
"Gabrielle," she says.
I grin in relief, "Yes, I'm Gabrielle. And you?" I find myself pushing her hair behind her ear, then stroking her cheek. I feel her arms around my waist, just holding me tightly. It feels wonderful.
"I am a unicorn. My name is Xena," she says slowly, "I had to come to you. We are supposed to be together."
"I feel it too," I whisper, "Xena."
I can feel her getting a sense of each part of her new body, subtly testing her control of her limbs, pressing herself against me. Her strength is glorious.
"You brought me back from the dead," she whispers.
"I had to," I whisper back.
"With my blood. I blended it with yours and it gave you strength. I don't know how I thought of it. Do you think that is what changed you?"
"I imagine so," she says, smiling a cock-eyed smile at me.
"You're just as beautiful now as you were before."
The way she looks at me makes me blush. Suddenly I am very aware of her nakedness and my arms around her. My entire body throbs. It is like nothing I have ever imagined. I cannot control myself as I feel my stomach press against hers. My breathing is coming too quickly and I pull her body tightly into mine, hiding my face in her shoulder.
"Gabrielle?" she whispers.
"Do you feel like I do, Xena? Like you want to rub yourself against every part of my body?" Obviously I am not the woman I was when I woke up yesterday morning.
"Yes," she says, her voice deep and sensual.
That one word and I am undone.
My hands move into her thick white hair and I look into her eyes. I don't remember how any of this happened. Everything looks silver in the moonlight and I find myself staring at her lips.
"I have a feeling these hands are going to be very useful," mumbles Xena, slowly caressing my back as she lowers her lips to my neck. The first touch is bliss, and I hiss out her name, pressing my hands to the back of her head. Suddenly my neck feels like the center of my being, and her lips play over my skin like drops of water on a hot rock. Every touch makes me moan and I can't believe it is my voice. I had never imagined that simply being touched could make me feel this way. The feeling in my neck slowly spreads through the rest of my body, and in seconds it is as if the life I used to live is gone, replaced by my connection to Xena, this creature who is no more human than not. I put my hands on her face and wait until she looks into my eyes again. I slide my hands to her shoulders and slowly push her onto her back. I sit on her stomach, looking down at her, breathing hard.
"I've never done anything like this before," I whisper, "I've never even thought about it. Until I saw you. You have ravished my soul and turned my world upside down, in just one day."
I bend to kiss her and she lifts her head to meet me. Our lips press against each other, warm and soft and wild. She feels so good surely she must be somehow divine. I've never kissed anyone before, and yet I feel I am leading the kiss, into territories unknown and exciting. I don't know if I am being too tender, or perhaps even too rough. And I realize that this is her first time as well. This makes me want to kiss her as well as I possibly can, so I do. I give her everything I can find. I run my hands along the muscles of her arms. They feel like stone. She presses up into the kiss, her moans opening her mouth to my tongue. I am still sitting on her stomach, my knees on either side of her. My hands leave her arms to tangle themselves in her hair and her hands immediately search my back for the laces that hold my dress together. She finds them easily and as we kiss, she unties them. I'm not cold anymore but her hands on my skin make me shiver. I move until I am sitting on my heels and I look down at my beautiful unicorn where she lies on her back, gently running my hand along her chest, down to her stomach. She has no hair under her arms, or at her sex, which glistens damply in the moonlight. The sight of it makes my own sex throb almost painfully, and finally I understand the great mystery called desire. I bend my head down and kiss her, my hand running over her skin, pressing hard, I hear my breathing getting louder. I feel her hand on my breast, so strong, so exciting. I gasp and moan in turns as she caresses me. She pulls me down until I am lying on top of her and she's got her arms wrapped tightly around me.
"Everything's changed," she whispers into my hair.
My body screams out in joy at the feeling of hers touching it everywhere. I kiss her and my hands are all over her as well, and after a time I become disoriented. I can't distinguish parts of my own body, or even her body from mine; it is as if our kisses have merged us. She rolls us over so I am lying on my back. I open my eyes and look up at her. She smiles. I smile.
"Gabrielle. I don't know what to say." Her breathing is ragged, and her face is flushed pink, surrounded by the glowing white curtain of her hair. She's grinning at me now. It almost stops my heart.
"I love you," I whisper, raising my hand and touching her face with my fingertips.
"That's what I should have said!" she laughs; she's breathtakingly lovely. Her mouth is beautiful. I pull her down for another kiss. Oh, this is like a tale indeed! I feel as if I have given myself to her so many times already, but when she parts my thighs with one of hers, revealing to me yet another level of ecstasy, I realize there must be a million ways to surrender. I am not familiar with the words to describe the way my body reacts to her, but I imagine this is lust, and I feel no shame as our bodies writhe together. Now I know why they call it "the beast with two backs." But what a magnificent beast!
Our bodies press together and it is like fire and water, earth and air. Together we are hard and soft and dark and light; languid and urgent, elemental and sublime. Everything is us; a thousand pleasures so intense that it is almost unendurable. I force my eyes to open and witness the expression of rapture on Xena's face. I moan her name and she looks into my eyes, her damp white bangs plastered against her forehead. She too is overtaken by her hunger and she pushes us into and through feelings so glorious I cannot even name them, and they leave us panting, basking in their afterglow.
I lose myself in the sound of her breathing. She moves some of her weight off me and looks down into my face with an expression halfway between devotion and worship.
"I love you, Gabrielle," she whispers ardently, "I would be honored if you would consider being with me always."
"I would consider it," I whisper, as a tear rolls down my face towards my ear. Xena leans down and gently licks it.
"Delicious," she whispers, smiling.
"How are your wounds?" I ask, suddenly remembering.
"Feeling no pain. You?"
I look at my bandaged hand where it rests on her shoulder and smile. "Not a bit."
"Gabrielle?" she asks, looking down at me shyly, "I'm not sure that I can walk."
"Neither am I."
"Thank you, but, I really mean it. If an enemy were to come upon us now, I am not sure I could even stand to defend myself."
"I'm sorry. Please, let me help you."
The moon is still high in the sky as Xena sits up and I slowly get to my feet. I reach down to her, she grasps my hands firmly and I pull her up. Suddenly she is gazing down at me, her hands resting heavily on my shoulders. When I look up into her eyes, the joy I feel leaves no doubt in my mind; we will live happily ever.
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