When the Prince's head dipped beneath the water Ariel panicked and dove after him. His arms spread wide and lifeless as he floated toward the bottom of the ocean. Gripping his torso she tugged him upward with all her strength until she had finally gotten his mouth above the surface. His head rested on her chest as she tugged him to shore.
After she had dragged him onto the sand she collapsed inside the crook of his arm with her head on his shoulder. When she felt his chest rise up and down and his heart beat hammering beneath her cheek she sighed in relief. It was still dark when she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
The next morning, Ariel's eyes fluttered open to find the sunlight streaming on her pale skin. Her red hair was dry and felt odd to touch. The Prince had pulled her closer and buried his face in the ruby waves that flowed down her back. Gently, she sat up and stared at his handsome face.
"He's so beautiful," She breathed as she gently brushed his hair out of his eyes. Softly she began to sing of a life spent with this man she had only just met. Her chest swelled and fluttered as he slowly opened his eyes and looked up at her with such amazement and longing. His large, tan hand came up to cover her tiny cream colored one.
At that moment she meant every word. She would give up everything to stay by his side. When his hand gently closed around her wrist and tugged her close she began to hesitate. Her father hated humans, and often warned her about going to see them, but when he his other hand cupped her face she lost all inhibition and leaned forward to meet his mouth with her own.
The colors in the sky she had seen exploding over the ship the night before was nothing compared to the sparks she felt just then. She no longer wondered what fire was, or why it burned. The kiss began gently, and then became more and more desperate. The hand that had cupped her face now wrapped around her waist. Just as the Prince's other hand reached down to pull her into his lap Ariel felt a searing pain in her tail. She gasped and arched her back against it. Drawing her arms to her chest she balled her fists.
The Prince's eyes snapped open in shock. The strange girls face was twisted with pain and his features creased with sudden worry.
"What?!" He demanded, "What is it?!"
Scanning down her form to determine the problem he froze when he noticed her tail. Blinking, the Prince tried to convince himself that he was seeing things. There was no denying the scales that covered her lower form. Just as the reality that this girl was a mermaid began to sink in her body began to split and she screamed as her fins became two legs.
Ariel's cry erased all the questions that had been running through his mind. His arms locked around her and he pulled her into his chest.
"Hold on!" He tried to comfort her, "I've gottcha!"
Once the pain had subsided she finally relaxed into his chest. His mouth kissed her forehead and he rocked her back and forth. Clammy and sweating she mumbled against his chest, "Eric?"
He leaned to look at her face, surprised that she knew his name, "Are you okay… miss?"
Nodding she pressed a hand to her forehead wearily. In a shaky voice she said, "A few moments ago I would have been asking you that question."
Eric couldn't fight the smile that statement brought on. Despite their situation she was trying to joke with him. Cupping her face again he breathed, "You… saved me. You were singing."
Looking at him seriously she said, "You would have died."
As her shock began to wear off Ariel looked down at her new legs and slowly lifted one. Her mouth fell open as she gently wiggled her toes, "Oh my gosh."
"How did you-?"
"I have no idea." Ariel whispered, "Have you ever seen anything so wonderful in your entire life?!"
The excitement that bubbled in her chest was overwhelming. Eric beamed at her and pulled her into his lap. The fact that she was naked became painfully obvious as his hands touched the bare skin of her thighs. He glanced down and felt his pulse quicken. Clearing his throat he asked nervously, "What's your name?"
While he kicked himself for not asking that earlier she replied, "Ariel."
It suited her. Cupping her face again he breathed, "Ariel… that's kind of pretty. Alright then… Ariel."
Closing the distance boldly she kissed him again, wrapping one arm around his neck and twining her fingers in his hair. His hands ran up and down her form as she leaned into him. Laying her down, Eric rolled on top of her and pressed closer.
Sudden barking made them both jump. When Eric looked up in surprise his dog licked his face and he shoved him back. "Get out of here you mutt!"
The affection was obvious in his tone as tried to hold the large animal back. Ariel shrank away and crawled over against a large bolder. The dog ran forward and licked her face again as it had the night before.
"Leave her alone!" He scolded half heartedly and yanked him back, "I'm sorry if this knuckle head scared you. He's harmless really."
Ariel started to tell him she'd seen the dog before when someone shouted, "Eric!"
The Prince looked up to find his advisor running toward him. The skinny old man was still wearing his tattered clothing from the night before. Diving forward he tried to cover Ariel before Grimm could see.
"Oh," The old man gripped his chest in relief, "Oh you really delight in these sadistic strains on my blood pressure, don't you?"
Ariel clung to his shoulder as he blocked her with both arms spread out on either side.
"Grimm, hold on." He instructed, "Turn around."
"Oh-" Grimm blinked as he noticed the young woman pressing her chin into his back. Quickly he turned around with a furious blush. Once he was no longer looking, Eric removed his shirt and tugged it over Ariel's head. It fell down to her mid thigh and hung loosely off one shoulder. It was entirely too large, but she was covered.
Standing, Eric scooped her up and said, "Okay. It's alright."
Blushing even deeper Grimm replied, "Well- Eric, who might this young lady be?"
Smiling down at her with affection he had never seen the Prince wear, Eric replied, "Grimm, this is Ariel."
It took a moment for the surprise to wear off, "Well then- It's nice to meet you my dear."
"You as well," Ariel said a little awkward. Looking up at the Prince they both stared with love struck gazes. His dopy grin didn't fade, even if the world around them seemed to.