Hey Guys! I'm back with a new or perhaps not so new story. I am interested in a Beta, so if you are interested, please let me know. I still love this pairing, and I can't seem to stop writing about them. I must give a shout out to AiraChica and her video "Love won't lie." You gotta love that video. It is such an inspiration to me! And so…onward!

Chapter 1

Billowing onyx clouds saturating grey skies…

Turbulent winds thrashing about the perilous white capped waves…

A looming vessel…

A face…

Her Face…

Her muted screams…

Save me…

His whole body was clammy and had a slight tremor due to all the pent up, unused…adrenaline…anticipation at its peak…His entire being was in complete preparation…for something. His heaving chest and racing heart rate were all testaments to this bizarre yet recurring pre-dawn event. A sweaty palm rested against his forehead wearily…

His burden…his haunting had visited him yet again. He rubbed calloused hands over his face miserably, as was his pathetic attempt at self-comfort. Four years…It had been four years since that day…since they had lost her…since her had lost her.

The dreams…they were coming more frequently now. It seemed that it was every night now that he was plagued by the same vivid vision. Running shaky fingers through chestnut locks that fell into bright blue eyes, he came to the inevitable conclusion that further sleep would not be achieved tonight.

Pulling the seaweed silk blanket from his form, the crowned prince of the western ocean rose from the giant clamshell bed and glided toward the window like opening. Leaning against the ledge, Prince James, Jim to those close to him, spared a fleeting glance out over the entirety of his kingdom, before subconsciously turning his gaze upward toward the glittering surface.

I wish you were here…Ariel…

Dawn's light brought with it responsibility, duty and the promise of opportunity. All of these found Prince James Pleiades Hawkins floating before his mother, the queen, in the spacious regal throne room of the palace. Jim regarded his mother warmly.

The perfect picture of grace and poise, Queen Saraphina, of the grandiose and vast western ocean, reclined comfortably on her ornate, stone carved throne, her coral hued tail swaying ever so slightly. To the right of her, floated her long-time friend and most trusted advisor, Delbert. The lanky merman had set aside his endless stack of documents to be reviewed by the queen, with the arrival of the prince.

"So I take it, you're all packed?" her soft, hesitant voice rang throughout the room like a bell. Broaching this particular, sensitive subject with her only son would require a certain level of care. This time of year was always the most emotionally taxing on him.

Poor Jim…

Catching his mother's worried expression, he shook his head, and flashed one of his signature crooked grins.

"Yes Mom, I'm all ready to go. Just waiting on Thor as usual."

At the predictable further furrowing of her brows, and the concerned down turn of her lips, Jim was quick to interject.

"Mom…don't worry…really. I'm not some little kid anymore."

The queen shook her head. "All the more reason not to ride with him. I swear, the both of you…"

"Are too reckless, I know," Jim supplied rolling his eyes.

Queen Saraphina glanced to Delbert, who only gave a helpless shrug in response. Defeated, she sighed, pinning her son with one last worried expression.

"Jim, I know you're all grown up. It's just, you are sole heir to the crown…if something were to happen to you…"

The words left unspoken had an instant effect. A stony, faraway demeanor saturated the crown prince's being.

"I will be fine." His clipped tones left no room for argument or comment. But after a moment of realizing he was a bit too harsh, Jim was quick to amend by flicking his fins and encasing his mother in a warm embrace. Pulling back, his voice was soft. "I'll be safe. I promise."

A sudden loud commotion was heard in the distance and a sheepish grin spread across Jim's features at his mother's glare.

"That's Thor. I uh…should probably get going…" Before he breaks something else…Jim added mentally.

With a twist and flick of his cerulean fins, the heir to the throne had rocketed out of the throne room.

"Be careful!" Saraphina called out after her son. Delbert merely shook his head in amusement. It seemed that no one was going to nail that boy's fins to the ocean floor.

ASAS

With his seaweed pack slung over one shoulder, Jim was greeted with the sight of his childhood best friend, Prince Thor of the eastern ocean. As per usual, the overly muscled, blonde mohawk sporting prince had arrived in his gaudy spiked golden chariot, complete with his pair of pet hammerheads, Thrasher and Crasher.

At the sight of his best friend, Thor grinned.

"So, it seems we'll actually be departing before the moon's tide this time eh?"

The western prince merely rolled his eyes before reaching into his pack and retrieving a large portion of freshly chopped fish. In a matter of seconds, the ferocious sharks resembled more like groveling dogfish than vicious predators of the deep.

"Who wants it? Who wants it?" Jim chanted playfully before tossing the fish between the two beasts, chuckling at how the treat was devoured in the blink of an eye, contented rumblings echoed from Thrasher and Crasher in appreciation.

Thor frowned at the pair while Jim swam onto the chariot, depositing his bag.

"You're making them soft when you do that."

Jim merely smirked and leaned back in his seat in the chariot.

"You're just jealous that they like me better."

Easily riled and falling for the bait, Thor puffed up his chest in protest. "They don't like you bet…" Thor caught himself as Jim's smirk widened.

"You think you're so funny."

Jim merely quirked a brow as Thor beat the reigns, igniting Thrasher and Crasher into action.

"So, are you ready for this?" Thor asked nonchalantly.

Clever to his best friend's antics, Jim simply responded with a noncommittal "hn." Taking that as an affirmation, Thor ignored his companion's bored expression and proceeded onward.

"Good, because I think this year should be different, a new horizon you could say."

No response and a glance to his right, alerted him that Jim was still seemingly more interested in the changing sea floor flora. This was all the green light Thor needed to continue on with his self-prepared speech.

"We need fresh experiences, new adventures, wouldn't you agree my friend?"

"Whatever."

Thor's fist clenched in apparent victory. "Excellent, then we will make our attendance known at the Riptide tonight!"

"No." Jim's firm, swift opposition completely stunned Thor, robbing him of speech for the next few seconds. The incredulity of his features shone clear as day.

"W-wait what?" You were just agreeing with me that…"

Jim was in the middle of giving his best friend an annoyed glare, when darkness eclipsed their forms. Both teens' heads snapped up in alert. Only one object could cast such an enormous shadow.

"Humans," Jim breathed. Thor couldn't decipher whether his tone was an expression of fear, contempt, or anticipation. The mental inquiry was quickly answered when Jim abruptly shot up and out of the chariot., leaving a trail of bubbles in his wake as he sped upwards toward the human ship.

"Jim! No!" The blonde's hollow, desperate cry fell on deaf ears. Thor was quick to action, his jaw firm, his tone authoritative.

"Thrasher! Crasher! Stay." Knowing that the loyal beasts would follow his every command, Thor pumped his tail vigorously in an attempt to catch his best friend who was already rapidly approaching the surface. Thor could only pray they weren't racing to their dooms.

ASAS

The human vessel was just as majestic and foreboding as he remembered it four years ago, and then almost every night in his nightmares…

"Can't catch me!" the thirteen-year-old mermaid was as vibrant and bright as her flaming red hair. With a flick of small green fins, she became almost a blur to everyone around her, keyword being almost. Another participant of puberty dared to chase after her toward the forbidden shimmering, surface world.

Young prince James Pleiades Hawkins darted after the petite princess, a smirk growing on his face as he closed the distance between them. If he reached out his hand, he was sure his fingertips would brush her fins. Princess Ariel of the northern ocean had a peculiar effect on his heart rate as of late. Whenever she was near, the organ would race and pound like a thoroughbred seahorse in a championship derby. He would also find his cheeks flaming at the most inopportune times.

It wasn't hard for him to deduce why. Yes, she was thirteen and like all budding teenagers a bit…awkward. Her hair was an unruly mess and was a tad scrawny for her age, all arms, tail and such. But to him…she was the most beautiful mermaid in all of the seven seas. He was sure of it. He would follow her anywhere.

Right now, they were embarking on a super, secret adventure, just the two of them, well and technically Thor. Young James scowled. If he had his way, it would be just the pretty, petite princess and him.

But then again, the three of them had always been best friends. Every summer, during the blossoming of the sea lilies, the royal families would travel to the northern ocean's capital city of Atlantica to gather and rejoice in the unity and prosperity of their peoples.

This celebration consisted of feasts, parades and athletic games. And while all of these festivities were joyful and exciting, in their own right, the best part of this annual occasion was that Jim got to spend limitless time with his best friends.

It was true, Ariel and Thor had their own personal quirks, but Jim wouldn't trade his friends for all the pearls in the sea. They treated him like he was a normal kid and not a prince that could be used to get something of value or someone that had to be bowed to all the time.

An ever-increasing fascination with the human world was Ariel's greatest vice. Right now, this forbidden hobby found the three pre-teens swimming for the surface.

"Can't catch me!" Ariel's high-pitched taunts prompted the two boys to kick their fins all the harder.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Thor's cracking voice was low enough that only he and Jim could hear. It wouldn't be very manly if a girl possessed more bravery than he did.

The young prince Hawkins merely shrugged his shoulders completely, care free. He was high on adrenaline. Absolutely nothing could rob him of his happiness. Years later, his following words would haunt his nightmares and he wondered if fate was laughing at him when he said,

"Sure, what could possibly go wrong?"

It turns out…everything.

ASAS

They were celebrating. The humans were celebrating. Infectious upbeat melodies drifted from the majestic vessel down to the lone figure hiding amongst the dark tossing waves. Bright multicolored lights exploded in the sky above the human ship, illuminating the water around him. Jim had never witnessed such magics before in his life. In the distance, Jim could hear the voices of the humans themselves, laughing and carrying on.

"Jim, what in the four oceans are you doing?" Thor's harsh whisper was barely audible due to the bursting fireworks. Submerged up to their shoulders, the two princes were nearly invisible under the cover of night, their bodies only illuminated periodically by the occasional flash of colored light.

"It's…it's the ship. It's the same ship. I know it!" the wonder in Jim's tone sent alarm bells off in Thor's mind.

"Jim, listen to me. Even if it was the same ship, there is no way that she is going to be on it. It's physically impossible."

When Jim didn't respond to his best friend's urgings, Thor knew it would take something drastic in order to break the trance.

"Jim, you have to let her go. Ariel is gone."

Cerulean eyes froze with fierce, resolved determination. Thin lips pressed together in a firm line. "I'm not giving up on her yet." With that declaration, Jim dove beneath the water and torpedoed toward the ship.

"Jim, no!" Thor's warning call fell lifeless.

Meanwhile, Jim's heart was pounding. He was either racing toward the only true happiness he had known in life, ore more realistically…to his demise. Humans were barbaric creatures that slaughtered the fish folk by the thousands with their nets and rust laden hooks. It would be an absolute miracle if Ariel had found some way to survive. But he had to try. He had to. He had to know.

Despite all reason., everything in him was absolutely screaming that he search this ship. But how? The ship was crawling with humans. Carefully, he surfaced next to the anchored vessel.

Now how am I gonna get up there?

Scanning and analyzing the ship for any possible routes, Jim was rewarded with only one plausible and altogether unpleasant form of action. Wooden ridges ran horizontally along the ship's body, allowing the vessel to slice through the waves. And there, at the level of the ship's deck, was a ledge approximately 3 feet in length and width: a perfect perch for reconnaissance.

The only trouble was how he was going to get there. While his muscular tail was definitely an asset and designed for navigating harsh currents and the perilous depths, it was basically dead weight outside of his native aquatic environment.

"Here goes nothing."

Reaching up and grasping firmly, Jim hoisted himself up. Immediately, the effects of gravity were upon him, and his biceps strained with the unexpected weight. He tried to keep his tail still in order to aide in his climb. Rung after rung, pure determination in his gaze, Jim climbed higher, the wind chilling the water droplets on his skin.

Clutching his jaw, Jim pressed onward. The platform was just one rung away now. The merprince couldn't decide what had his heart beating harder, the physical exertion of dead lifting his entire body up into the air ten feet, or the ever-present danger that he could be discovered by the humans.

"Come on, just…" his hand reached for the plank that held answers and physical relief.

A little…bit more…

His shaking fingers now brushed the edges of the wooden plank. Seconds passed, and with a final burst of strength, trembling fingers gripped the final platform.

Gotcha!

Using all his remaining strength, Jim pulled himself up onto the ledge.

Put that on a list of things I never want to do again, the young prince swore as he tried to calm his rapid breathing. Sighing in relief, he rested his head against the wall of the ship.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen! A little decorum if you please!" The prim call of attention alerted the prince stow away that something was happening. Cautiously remaining low, Jim leaned over to peer onto the ship's deck.

Dozens of humans scurried about the deck like frenzied ants before gathering around the stairs that led to the upper deck. An older male human clothed in regal midnight hued coat and rouser gazed warily out over the mass of smelly sailors.

The royal advisor known as Grimsby sighed. The lack of manners, hygiene, and propriety, not to mention sharing such close quarters with such uncivilized buffoons had worked his last nerve. He could sense the twitch in his left eye beginning to stir.

"I really do disdain these long voyages…" Grimsby looked over to the young man smiling fondly standing beside him. For the life of me, I cannot fathom what Prince Eric enjoys so much about sailing. This hobby is quite unbecoming for a future king.

Grimsby's brow furrowed in distaste as the raven-haired prince played with his beloved and dreadfully unsanitary, mangy sheep dog. In fact, one would never guess at first glance that Eric was a prince at all, what with his casual sailor garb and general carefree attitude.

"Sire, I do hope you don't mind me voicing my concern, but I was under the distinct impression that our journey to Portugal was to secure amicable relations by way of betrothal."

Eric's nose wrinkled in obvious disapproval. "Tch. If I had to listen to her highness one more minute, I think I would have sent myself to the gallows."

Grimsby's deadpan glare showcased his obvious lack of amusement.

"Your majesty, might I remind you that to ascend the throne, a future queen is required."

The young ruler rolled his eyes and continued to rough house with his favorite pet.

"Ah Grim, and here I pegged you for a romantic."

A single white brow rose as if the mere concept of romance was completely foreign and alien.

"Geez Grim, you're worse than my mother."

Eric's nonchalant comment inspired a gulp and Grimsby's eyes to dart nervously about. His fingers began to drum, and the elderly advisor willed himself not to break out into a nervous sweat. The current queen of Spain was…A cold shiver ran down Grimsby's spine and he adjusted his collar which was a bit too tight for his liking. She was peculiar in a dark sort of manner. A darkness which had only intensified with the equally mysterious appearance of her.

A flash of red drew his vision away from his anxious train of thought. The long red hair was an easy identifiable marker. Not to mention, she was the only female currently on this ship. Ariel. The petite red head had just emerged from below in the galley, the looming figure of the cook following close behind her.

John Silver was an enigma that in himself. A murky past with a surprisingly varying skill set, gave pause to even the most rebellious of crew members. Make no mistake, though his title was cook, everyone on board had the common sense to call him "captain." Everyone that is, except for the tiny female who was his charge.

How many years ago was it that Ariel had swept into their lives, what, four years ago, was it? The memory was hazy, but from the moment of her introduction, she had easily won the hearts of all. Ariel was vivacious, and full of life. She was tenderhearted and kind, but spunky with an easygoing charm.

And then of course, there was the fact that she was beautiful. Long fiery red tresses and eyes that mirrored the sea on a bright, sunny day, would make any man pause.

That was precisely what Grimsby was afraid of. The young prince watched Ariel emerge from the ship's hull like water had just appeared in a vast, deserted wasteland. Grimsby knew that look. It was the expression of a man smitten by love…Grimsby shook his head, fingers coming to massage his temples.

Or better yet…lust, which was the underlying problem. The young king to be like many men was thinking with the wrong brain. Ariel was a servant, a ward of Silver's. She assisted the infamous captain with the food. She certainly was not any kind of nobility or anyone remotely in the vicinity of being considered for the prized position of princess of a sovereign country. Spain would be the laughing stock of the world powers if the prince actually married for the ludicrous notion of something as fanatical as love.

Not to mention, what would the queen think? Grimsby's blood magically consisted of ice water at the thought. The possessed a unique contempt for the redhead. Though not voiced openly, the elder advisor noted that her esteemed highness would watch Ariel closely, like a dangerous insect, or better yet an insect that needed to be squashed.

But why then keep her in the castle? Ariel was an insignificant servant. Why not dismiss her? Certainly, the queen had no qualms with releasing servants from their hired positions without so much as an afterthought. So why then was she keeping Ariel so close to her when the queen so quite obviously held such disdain for her?

Grimsby's troubled thoughts were interrupted by the sound of clapping hands. It was the sound of someone trying to gain the attention of others. A quick glance in the direction of the sound notified Grimsby that it was Prince Eric who was summoning the attention of the crew members.

"Everyone! Everyone! Can I have your attention please!" Eric's call to order possessed a distinct, jubilant nature that sent chills of dread racing down the old advisor's spine.

"Your highness are…are you sure you want to…" the wave of impending terror had reduced him to a bumbling idiot.

Eric, clearly distracted by the excitement of his own announcement merely shooed Grimsby away like a pesky mosquito.

"Not now Grim."

"But…"

The dark-haired prince paid his desperate and flailing advisor no heed, and now it was simply too late. The entire crew had ceased all activity and the only sound was the inescapable murmuring from time to time. The prince never made announcements, and to do so would be something of a special occasion.

"Everyone! Again, I thank you for your service, and more importantly for your friendship. Heck, you guys practically raised me. Don't tell my mother that of course." Eric finished in a mock controversial tone which earned a laugh from all the crew members.

"We have all been on countless journeys together, all for the betterment of Spain. And this quest was no different. I was tasked with sailing on this long voyage in order to meet and woo the princess of Denmark in order to secure a strong alliance between our two countries…"

Catcalls and whistles erupted from the crowd of men. Eric waved his arms downward and gave an embarrassed chuckle, trying to quiet the crew down so that he could continue with his speech.

"Yes…yes, I admit she was very beautiful, but I think we can all agree that beauty is more than skin deep…"

At this proclamation, a seemingly general sense of confusion had washed over the sailors. The prince laughed and shook his head, looking over in Ariel's direction. She and Silver were giggling at the apparent simplicity of these men, and the paradigm that a woman's value was judged by the way she looked. Ariel's understanding and compassion only spurned Eric onward.

"Men, Spain deserves the best future princess the world can afford."

This declaration had the crew cheering its approval once more, and simultaneously had the color draining from Grimsby's face.

"Spain deserves more than some stuffy, uptight princess who only cares about the number of rubies in her tiara. Spain needs a princess who understands her people, loves her people so that the needs of her people are best met."

The crew's applause grew all the louder while Grimsby had the distinct impression he was about to faint.

"And who better to understand the people of Spain, then one of its own." As he stated this, Eric turned toward Ariel.

A harsh and abrupt silence fell over the crowd when it became apparent that indeed it was Ariel to whom he was referring. Clearly and abundantly shocked by this sudden turn of events, Ariel shot Silver a quick worried glance before becoming very still under the scrutiny of Eric's intense gaze.

The Spanish prince must have sensed the red head's skittish behavior, so he approached her slowly like one would do when approaching a wild animal. Gently, he took both of her hands in his.

"Ariel, you came into my life four years ago. I will never be more grateful for a storm and a shipwreck in my entire life…"

At this statement, a pained expression flashed briefly over Ariel's features, before settling into a carefully crafted smile.

"What I mean to say is that, you've changed everyone's lives for the better, especially mine…"

A light blush now dusted Eric's cheeks.

"Ariel…I…I have admired you for a long time now. You're kind…and of course beautiful and…and what I'm trying to say is…that I would be honored if you would become the future queen of Spain…and" Eric rubbed the back of his neck in a bashful sort of manner.

"If…if…you would marry me."

Reviews are love. Please let me know if I should continue. Until next time!