Ariel watched a merman kill the shark in horror. In her pursuit of human treasures she had lead a creature who didn't know any better to its doom. Gripping the only item she had managed to save she watched her betrothed stab the animal repeatedly.
"James, stop!" She begged, swimming forward with her red hair flowing behind her.
He threw her off of him with a growl, aiming his sword at the Princess instead. She coward away, holding an arm up to protect her face. He softened, sheathing the weapon and holding a hand out for her.
"Come along Ariel."
She stared at the lifeless shark before her, feeling like the worst mermaid in the sea.
"You didn't have to kill it!" She insisted.
Rolling his eyes he jerked her forward, "It tried to harm you. I took care of it."
"It didn't know any better. You do!" She snapped.
For as long as she could remember James had been nothing more than formality and propriety. Her father had promised her to him at birth, a fact he reminded her of every day. They were going to be wed when she turned eighteen. She still had two years, but it grew closer every day.
His tone was warning when he glared at her, "I've had enough. Let's go."
She stiffened, "No! Get out of here! Leave me alone!"
The viciousness behind his killing blows had disturbed her. The shark had attacked while she was examining a sunken ship, but it could have been easily out smarted. It wouldn't have been the first time she had out run one. He opened his mouth to argue when they were both stunned by shadows dancing on the surface.
Ariel looked up curiously, "What do you suppose-?"
Not waiting for James to follow she took off toward the shapes. Strange lights exploded in the sky and she gasped, watching in wonder. A ship sailed nearby with a celebration on deck. Laughing she swam closer.
"Ariel?" James called when he emerged from the water, "What are you doing?"
Before she could be stopped Ariel started climbing the side of the vessel. Humans danced around the top floor, playing music and talking. James followed her up as she sat on a ledge, watching everything that transpired.
When she saw the Price her face fell. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Onyx hair fell in front of his eyes as her ran toward the side of the ship. He was the opposite of James's blond curly hair and tan skin. He was broad and tall. Her cheeks colored just watching him.
"We need to go!" He insisted, joining her on the side of the ship.
"James be quiet! They'll hear you!" She hissed. He narrowed his eyes indigently but said nothing as two humans approached. An older man spoke to one much younger as they settled on the edge.
"Oh Eric it isn't me alone," The old skinny one insisted, "The entire kingdom wants to see you happily settled down with the right girl."
Ariel watched, holding her breath as the beautiful man responded, "She's out there Grim. I just… haven't found her yet."
A strange expression came over the Princesses face when the man named Grim continued, "Perhaps you haven't been looking hard enough."
A wave of jealousy came over James when he saw the hope in Ariel's face. Prince Eric responded, "Believe me, when I find her I'll know. It'll just, bam- hit me… like lightening."
Ariel was watching him with a dreamy expression when the wind picked up and a horrible storm began.
"We need to go!" James grabbed her hand and pulled her back into the water with him. She tried to pull her arm out of his grip when they were safely under the waves.
"Wait! Are they okay?"
"Contact with the human world is forbidden, Ariel! You know that!" There was nothing kind in his venomous tone.
"But he could die!"
"One less human to worry about."
The thought made the Princesses heart ache. Yanking her arm free she desperately returned to the ship and found it in flames. Panicked, she began searching until she found the Prince floating in the water. When he dipped beneath the surface she drove back under and hauled him out. James was horrified when he found her with her arms around the human.
"What are you doing?" He demanded.
"Either help me or get out of here!" She snapped.
Deciding it was easier than arguing James helped her haul Eric through the water. It was a long swim before they had safely gotten him to shore. Working together they dragged him out of the surf, heaving breath in and out from the effort.
James collapsed in annoyance while Ariel continued to watch him, concerned. "Is he… dead?"
"Probably," He spat harshly.
Her eyes widened but she relaxed when she saw his chest rise and fall, "No look! He's breathing."
Rolling onto his side he glared as she swept his hair from in front of his eyes. In a whisper so light he almost didn't hear she said, "He's so… beautiful."
Anger ripped through him as he announced, "It's time to go."
Ignoring him Ariel began singing an old lullaby to the human. His eyes fluttered open as she placed a hand on his cheek. He covered it with his own and stared as though she were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
James was tempted to kill him right there. Instead she yanked Ariel away from Eric and didn't let go, even as she protested, until they were back in the ocean.
The tune was hypnotic. Eric opened his eyes to find the most beautiful girl he had ever seen leaning over him and singing. In that moment he knew she was the one he had been searching for. She looked up suddenly and was ripped away by an unseen person. Shaking himself the Prince couldn't focus again until she was already gone.