Ariel watched the ship go up in flames with the Prince still on board. Desperately she swam back toward the wreck trying to find him. He floated on a piece of debris for a moment before slipping into the water and drifting toward the ocean floor. When her hands circled his upper body she tugged upward pulling him to the surface. Though he was unconscious Ariel could hear his ragged breathing as his head rested back on her shoulder. Slowly she dragged him toward the closest shore she knew of.
Getting him out of the water proved to be the most difficult task. Sliding herself and his unconscious form took a great deal of effort and when he was effectively out of the sea she collapsed next to him. It was still dark out by this point and Ariel could only pray that the cloak of night would be enough to keep her hidden.
She woke on her stomach with the sun in her face, arm stretched out over Eric protectively. Sitting up quickly her heart almost stopped until she saw his chest rise and fall. While he was still out she looked him over, trying to find a fatal wound. Thankfully there seemed to be none.
He shifted, hair falling in front of his face. Hesitantly Ariel reached out and swept it aside again, looking at his painfully handsome face. "He's so beautiful." She whispered to herself. Softly she sang to him, resting her hand on his cheek.
The sound roused Eric slowly. His hand came up to cover the one on his face and a wondrous smile formed when his eyes fluttered open. She was beautiful, sunlight behind her and a warm grin on her lips as she looked at him.
Carefully he leaned forward and kissed her, not caring who she was or where she came from. Ariel didn't pull away, bringing a hand behind his head to help support him. It was a long moment before they broke apart.
"Who are you?" He whispered.
Smiling she helped lay him back down again, "Ariel."
"Ariel…" He breathed.
"Are you okay?" She asked earnestly, "I can't stay much longer."
He grabbed her hand, scared she would disappear, "Please don't leave."
"I have to. It's forbidden…" The look in his eyes was pleading, and she knew she couldn't deny him no matter what happened.
"Stay with me." He begged again.
Her heart warmed at the sound. Dazed she nodded and said, "For you."
Only when the words left her lips did Eric relax again. "You saved me. How?"
She leaned away, realizing he hadn't seen her tail. For a moment she debated about jumping back into the sea before he did, but Eric sensed this and sat up holding his head. When his eyes landed on her tail he shook himself, certain that he was hallucinating. Ariel recoiled, afraid of how he would react.
His eyes widened in amazement before looking back at her face. "You're a-"He couldn't bring himself to say it out loud. It was too impossible.
"Please don't say anything. We are not allowed to speak to humans." She looked embarrassed, as though she was ashamed of what she was. Eric's chest ached at the thought. He reached out for her again, taking her hand.
Ariel blushed, unsure what to say, "You should find your way back soon. Everyone thinks you're dead."
"Let them," He said, voice low as he leaned in and kissed her again.