Ariel watched the lights explode in the sky, every bit as brilliant as the colors she'd seen under the sea. The noise was impossibly loud, but as the explosions spread, and then fizzled above her, she stared in wonder. They faded from pink, to blue, to green…

As she swam closer to the ship, and watched the people celebrating on board, her heart stopped when the prince walked forward. Midnight black hair fell in front of his eyes. A warm feeling crept from deep inside her stomach, and seemed to bloom all the way up to her cheeks as she watched him with the others.

There was something about him. His smile told her he took very little seriously. There was a wonder and adventure in his spirit, that matched her own. Yet, he seemed sad somehow. Like genuine pain was hidden right behind his eyes.

An older gentleman came forward and spoke to him.

"I had hoped it would be a wedding present." He insisted.

The prince let out a great sigh. "Come on, Grim. Don't start!"

"Eric, your father-"

"I know what he wanted." Eric cut him off. His voice was exasperated, and again, held a bit of that sadness within it that others may not have noticed.


Past tense.

Ariel furrowed her brow as she considered it. His father had a plan for him. Even worse, his father wasn't here to see his son grow, and let those dreams change as his son became a man. He was competing with a ghost.

Ariel fought with her own ghosts. She was always torn between missing her mother terribly, and never wanting to hear what a disappointment she would have been to her. The fear of never measuring up caused a deep ache in the young princess's heart.

Was she truly so unlike what her mother had hoped for? Or was her father just as unrealistic with his expectations for his wife as he was for his daughters?

Ariel hadn't heard the rest of the conversation when she snapped back to the present.

"She's out there somewhere." Eric said determinedly. "I just haven't found her yet."

There was no hint of doubt in the prince's voice. Ariel listened from her hiding spot on the side of the ship, and felt hope wrap around her heart. Could she be the girl he was looking for?

"Believe me, Grim, when I find her I'll know. It'll just, BAM, hit me. Like lightning."

As if the fates had heard him, the wind kicked up, the heavens poured down, and a great storm was around them before they knew it.

Eric snapped to attention when a sailor shouted, "Hurricane a-comin!"

The mermaid barely had time to snap to attention, when lightening struck the ship. The vessel that had housed the wonderful lights in the sky was engulfed in flames within moments. The men frantically made their way to the lifeboats as they crashed into a rock in the middle of the sea.

Ariel looked around desperately for the prince. She had just seen him hoist himself into a lifeboat, when a piece of the sail came crashing into the back of her head, and the world faded to black.