Dear Readers: The following story is fictional. Any resemblance to anyone real, living, dead, or otherwise, is purely in the warped mind of the beholder.
Once upon a time, a phrase that amuses physicists no end, there was a King and Queen who lived in a modest but nicely-furnished castle in the Land of Iodine. They were what one might call enlightened. They ruled their little nation with as much kindness and wisdom as they could muster, and their subjects prospered.
The royal couple had a beautiful little daughter, Princess Xela, upon whom they doted and fussed, and due to their ministrations, or perhaps in spite of them, she grew to be a beautiful and wise woman, beloved by everyone she met. Xela's love of animals was known throughout the kingdom, and it was clear to all that she would one day become a world renowned veterinarian. And so it was.
Xela attended the finest veterinary schools in the land, and studied very, very hard. After all, there is much knowledge to be acquired to care for the multitude of God's creatures. She learnt it all, or tried to, anyway, and was celebrated by her mentors as one of the finest students they had seen in years. Of course, the very proud King and Queen made it possible for her to study in relative luxury. Her little hut on the grounds of the school wasn't particularly posh, but it was hers. This did make Xela somewhat uncomfortable, as many of her classmates were living in hovels, and selling their hair and other unmentionable body-parts to the enchantresses at neighboring schools of magic, just to eat. Princess Xela told no one of her heritage, so as not to make them jealous. If asked how she could live so well and keep her hair, she would mumble something about being lucky at rolling the bones, and change the subject.
Princess Xela of course did quite well in all her subjects. But it was during the courses of herpetology that she first encountered the Asp. The legless being saw in Xela, well, something. We of warm-blood and calm disposition probably will never understand just what it is the predator sees in the prey. The Asp wanted Xela for his own nefarious purposes. (Such has it been since our first female ancestor Eve, who was also the object of desire of a serpent, one who offered her knowledge in return for the fall of Mankind from Paradise.) By instinct, Xela shunned the Asp, for he was scaly, weird-looking, and poisonous, toxic to mankind. But the Asp, being cold-hearted but incredibly cunning, continued his gentle but relentless pursuit. He brought offerings, sacrifices he managed to catch in his fangs, and spoke endlessly of his knowledge of all things herpetic, and even pertaining to the treatment of all animals, all the while telling Princess Xela how wonderful she smelt, and how much he would love to be her companion. And gradually, ever-so-slowly, she began to think that perhaps the Asp wasn't so bad after all. Ultimately, she took him home with her, and established a place in her bed for him, so she could warm him at night; otherwise the poor Asp might freeze to death, being cold-blooded and all.
This rather unusual situation went on for quite a while, months, years. The King and Queen were of course beside themselves. Princess Xela had let them play with the Asp once or twice, not telling them just what species he was, but the monarchs were not stupid, and they rather quickly realized just what they were dealing with. Xela had grown to love the Asp, and that's all that mattered to her. She wanted to take it everywhere with here. She was taken aback when her friends and the other townspeople would shrink away in horror and fright when she drew the Asp from her pack, and she soon realized the wisdom of leaving him at home when she went to market or out to visit. But still, she longed for the day when all would accept her love for the Asp, and accept him for the wonderful being only she could see.
Xela had a brief flash of insight toward the end of her schooling. Her toxicology class had a long unit about the reptilian poisons, and she realized, ever-so-briefly, that the Asp was dangerous to her. She ran home to the palace, and, sobbing, regaled the King and Queen for hours about how close she had come to tragedy, having on multiple occasions stroked the Asp on his head while he bared his fangs in delight. She swore to put him back in his cage and never pick him up again.
But alas, Princess Xela had a kind heart, and even after her oath, she happened to pass by the Herpetorie one day, and was again drawn to the call of the Asp. And she succumbed. She tried to hide her recidivism from the King and Queen, but they happened to see the Asp peek his head out of her pack one day, and the situation was clear.
Things went downhill from there. The Princess was a modern girl, not afraid in the least of the King and Queen, and staunchly declared that she loved her "Aspie" as she now called the Asp, that she would never return him to his cage, certainly not on the orders of her old fuddy-duddy parents. She declared that she, the preeminent veterinarian-to-be, was wrong about the Asp after all, that he was really a completely different, non-poisonous species. The King and Queen were, of course, devastated, seeing imminent danger for their beloved daughter, but unable to convince her of this. Ultimately, the King even threatened to throw himself on his sword, which prompted Xela to embrace the Asp even tighter. Of course, the Asp understood none of this with his brilliant but limited reptilian mind, but he did realize that Xela was drawn to him by some strange bond, and that's all he really cared about.
The King and Queen went about the business of running the kingdom, but their broken hearts were no longer in the task, and the courtiers and regents could certainly tell that something was wrong, although they did not know just what it could be. Kings don't have the luxury, generally, of taking a prolonged period to mourn such things. All the while, the King was dealing with several crises in the kingdom. There was a failure of magic throughout the land one one occasion, wherein things that were etched in stone suddenly were not after all, and vice-versa as well. There was a drought which affected the bremsstrahlung crop, and the wealthier among the members of the court were terrified that they could no longer maintain their castles properly, not to mention their Albion-crafted chariots.
I wish I could tell you that, as in other fairy tales, all lived happily ever after. Sadly, I cannot. All I can say is that the King and Queen are doing their best to plod along through the remainder of their lives, expecting daily the messenger bearing the news that the Asp has finally done what Asps do, and poisoned their beloved Princess Xela.