Is that...A human?
Your curiosity won over any other thought and soon you found yourself propelling your fins toward the fallen prince. You caught him in your arms before rushing to shore. "Humans can't breathe underwater like we could, right? I'm just helping him, brother wouldn't mind." You convinced yourself before poking a head out into the open surface. You swam closer to the beach, cautiously glancing left and right from time to time.
"Haru! Haru!" You heard the frantic shouts of men a mile away. You hauled the unconscious body onto the beach, parted his hair to one side before jumping back into the water to hide behind a rock.
"Haru! Hey! Over here!" You watched as a red-head hurried towards the man you have saved. The red-head brought his ear to Haru's chest before breathing out a heavy sigh. "Good...he's alive." Haru's shut eyes slowly fluttered open, he coughed up the sea-water he accidentally drank during his sink before turning his hazy blue eyes to look at Rin.
From behind the rock your eyes shimmered brightly, and the waves were crashing against your back. But despite that and the fact that more and more people are gathering, you just couldn't tear your eyes away from Haru's hazy blue orbs.
"They're not really as scary as brother makes them sound." You pouted, crossing both of your arms over your chest as you spoke to Makoto, Nagisa and Rei. The three mermen leaned closer to listen. "Eh? You sound as though you've met one, _____." Nagisa said, a hint of mischief in his voice. "Is that true, ____? You've met a human?" Makoto chimed in.
"Well...I didn't really get to speak with him, he was drowning so I had no choice...I saved him."
"You saved a human? _____! what if your brother finds out!" Rei pushed his glasses onto the bridge of his nose.
"Then let him find out, I don't care! Someone with such pure and beautiful eyes couldn't possibly be a...a...villain. Maybe, just maybe not all of them are as bad as the elders say they are." Makoto sighed before glancing left and right before whispering into your ear. "I've heard that there's a witch that lives in south, she lives in a cave and some say that she grants wishes in exchange for your voice. If you really want to learn about humans that badly maybe you should go and check it out. Although I can't tell for sure, they were just rumors anyways." Makoto pulled back and smiled at you gently.
"Mako-chan! What did you just tell ____?" Nagisa peered at Makoto's face, ruby red eyes blinking innocently at the brunette. Makoto shook his head at Nagisa before turning his back at you to swim away. "E-Eh? M-Mako-chan? Geez, he ditched us! Sorry ____! We're going on ahead. See you later!" Nagisa waved goodbye happily before dragging Rei away from the scene.
"I've heard that there's a witch that lives south, she lives in a cave and some say that she grants wishes in exchange for your voice." You thought quietly to yourself while petting a dolphin that had snuggled against you. "My voice? A mermaid's voice is quite valuable for every mermaid, to lose it is the same as losing your own life. What do you think I should do?" You asked the dolphin, having no one else to turn to. You sighed as you watched it swim away.
"If you really want to learn about humans that badly maybe you should go and check it out." You curled yourself up into a ball as you lay your back on the sand in desperation. "I do want to learn about humans, but I am a mermaid...I have pride in my voice as well. I can't imagine going a day without singing like I always do..." As you thought that, Haru's clear blue eyes popped into your mind. You raised your hand and spread out your fingers, watching a faint light glimmer at your fingertips.
"But...I really do want to learn about them...and...about him as well..." You sat up before glancing around nervously. "I've made up my mind, I'm going to see that witch Makoto told me about and ask her to give me legs!" In a rush of excitement you immediately began swimming south, a wide smile on your face.
"Maybe...I should go back..." You stopped swimming all of a sudden as you noticed the darkness that shrouded further ahead. The corals, as you observed, were brittle and the sun did not reflect on that side of the sea. You can't tell which was worse, the darkness or the uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach. "I've come far...I can't back out now...definitely not now." You shook your head as if you were ridding yourself of the thought before continuing your journey.
You spotted a cave in the far end of the path.
"She lives in a cave..." Makoto's words echoed in your mind and slowly...you entered the dark cave. "H-Hello?" You called out nervously while looking around the inky darkness. As you turned to your left, your eyes met with glowing yellow eyes, and in reflex you swam a bit closer to the cave's entrance...only to realize that the cave had sealed itself.
"It's been a while since I had a visitor, what may I help you with my dear?" A soft raspy voice called out from within the darkness, the figure snapped her fingers, and the cave was soon lit by a few large glowing crystals. "H-Hello...My name is ____ ______. My friend told me about you...Can you really grant any wish?" The witch gave a low chuckle before snapping both fingers and the dark cave suddenly grew brighter.
"Yes, but I'm gonna need something else in return."
"I know about that, you need my voice in exchange for a wish right? I don't mind. Take my voice if you want, only if you give me legs in exchange." You felt braver somehow, maybe it was because the cave wasn't so dark anymore, or maybe it was your desire to walk on land that was speaking.
"Turning a tail into legs is quite a tedious task, is there any reason as to why you want them?" The witch still did not show herself, but her mere presence was intimidating enough for you. "I believe there is no reason for me to explain myself."
"Oh, feisty aren't you. Very well, but if you do not tell me how can I ever set my conditions?" You gripped your hands tighter before gathering enough courage to answer.
"I...I want to meet someone."
"Is it perhaps a guy?" She cackled evilly and by observing the sounds she made, she had a tail she was constantly swishing about. She was probably seated on a rock of some sort.
"And what if it is?" You replied somewhat confidently.
"Ah I see. Then how about this? If you make the man fall in love with you after a month, you can keep your legs. But if you are not able to meet my conditions, you will turn to foam on the night of your last day. What do you think? Isn't it romantic that way?" Her high-pitched giggle echoed throughout the dim cave, your thoughts were reeling, but at this point there is really no turning back is there?
"I accept your conditions."
As your voice rang out, the cave grew darker and the witch's eyes glowed in the dark cave. A swirl of bubbles similar to a tornado had whipped around you, and the only thing you remembered hearing was the witch's sarcastic farewell.
"See you in a month my darling."
"Hey, hey...are you alright? Miss?" You slowly opened your eyes and found yourself in an unfamiliar room and an unusual throbbing in your legs. You sat up on the bed and placed a hand dizzily onto your forehead. "Miss?" Surprised _e/c_ met with concerned blue and you immediately tore away the blankets. You had no tail...but you definitely had legs, human legs.
"Is there anything wrong with your legs? I could call Rin if you need help." Your mouth moved, but no sound came. "Can't you speak?" Haruka peered over at you worriedly as he placed a hand on your forehead to check your temperature.
That's right...the witch took my voice in exchange for legs... You shook your head in reply to Haruka's question and a faint shade of pink crept into your pale cheeks. Wow, he really does look good. His eyes...are beautiful.
"I'll bring you to dining hall, it's almost time for lunch. Can you stand? I found you on the beach this morning so I presume you've been caught in a shipwreck?" Having no other option, you nodded. I'm a horrible liar, but I guess I have to make do. Your legs throbbed as you threw them over the edge of the bed, you had barely managed to stand up when you stumbled and fell, if it weren't for Haruka, your face and the floor might have been lovely friends by now.
"Are you alright?" Flustered, you pushed yourself away from his chest and nodded vigorously.
Do you really have to be a gentleman?
Days passed and you have grown accustomed to living in the palace with Haruka. You spent most of the time tagging along with the water-loving prince and the hot-headed Rin that sometimes you forgot the mermaid part of your life. When you took walks to the beach with Haruka there's this nagging in the back of your head that keeps telling you that your brother could pop out from anywhere any second and ruin everything.
Everything was going so well, until...
"Ah Haruka! There you are! I've been looking all over for you!" Both you and Haruka turned around at the sound of his name, you were both enjoying your morning walk when this girl suddenly walked up to you.
As you stared at the girl panting heavily in front of you, she sent you a happy smile before patting Haruka on his back. Her scarlet hair trailing behind her. "I'm glad I met you again! I enjoyed talking to you last night, it was a bit of a surprise when I saw you on the beach alone last night!" Haruka managed a small smile before replying.
What is this? That smile...It's... You didn't want to believe it, but there really was no choice. The way they talked, laughed, it was as if they've gone into a different world and had forgotten all about you. Maybe you should have turned back and dove back into the sea, never to return again, but you were just too stubborn.
From that day on, the girl visited the palace daily. It turned out that she was the daughter of the town's baker and had been asked to deliver another batch of bread and had passed by the prince while he was taking a walk. You had always been next to Haruka but ever since this girl had started visiting, he left you in Rin's care most of the time.
See you in a month... The witch's raspy voice had haunted your dreams almost every night and left alone in the dark, silently curled up in a ball until you fell asleep. You awoke to the sound of lively chatter and the smell of fresh morning tea and scones. Ah, Rin must be here. After stifling a small yawn, you forced your heavy eyelids open and brought your body to sit up on the bed. "Did I wake you?" You shook your head at this before grabbing the small notepad you kept under your pillows.
"Is Haru up yet?" Rin had taught you their language and how they write, so with that in mind you were able to communicate with them like how most mutes do. "I think the prince went out to the balcony with- Hey! ____!" You dashed off all of a sudden, cutting Rin's sentence off short. The red haired male had tried to catch your wrist but even though you were used to a tail and not feet, you were actually quite a runner.
But what you saw on the balcony really wasn't what you had expected. Your knees started shaking and so did your fingers, your eyes grew wide and a sharp pain shot through your heart.
There, in front of you stood the baker's daughter. In front of her, was Haruka Nanase, crowned prince of Iwatobi. He was kneeling on the ground, a ring in his right while his other reached out for the scarlet maiden's fair hand. Proposal. You thought, Rin had given you a small lecture on the matter when you were helping him out in the kitchen one day.
"You don't know what a proposal is?" Rin asks in a surprised tone, to which you replied with a shake of your head. Rin sighs before returning to his work, but didn't forget to answer your question. "Well, you have to love each other first, make sure you both feel the same. Then the guy gets on one knee and brings out a ring, proposal is like...asking for her hand in marriage and to live your lives together forever."
"Yes, of course I will. This is- Haruka, I-!" The girl however was not given any more time than that to respond, and Haruka's lips pressed against hers. No...this is...wrong, I should- This is.... Even in your thoughts you weren't able to form a coherent sentence, so instead, you let your body move on it's own. You let it zoom past maids and butlers, you let it run into halls and swerve through corridors, you were the one who let yourself break.
You looked around, curious as to where your reckless running had brought you. This is...the sea... You panted, trying to catch up with your breath while being seated on the rock. If you only had your voice, you'd be breaking into a song right now. Your fists clenched tightly onto the hems of your skirt, and a small tear rolled down your cheek. Are these...tears? You wiped them off, but allowed your tongue to graze over the ends of your fingertips. It tastes like the sea...
"_____!" An overly familiar voice snapped through your thoughts and you found yourself staring into honey brown eyes. You mouthed the word 'brother' in the mer language and allowed a few more tears to escape your eyes. Your brother inched closer and threw a stone knife onto the sand. "I heard you went to that witch. I had to make a deal with her. Kill the guy, before the sun rises at dawn tomorrow. It's the only way to break the curse, to go back to the kingdom." Akihito parts his bangs away from his left eye, showing a patch in where his eye should've been.
'This can't be...brother, he-'
"Do this for me ____, an eye for an eye she said. I'll be waiting at the sea below the palace tonight, I expect you to do your job well." Akihito gasped before diving back into the water after hearing Rin's voice calling your name out from a distance. Panicked, you grabbed the stone knife, and hid it in the pockets of your dress shirt.
"The maids told me you ran here, are you alright?" You gave the man a hasty nod which of course, relieved him. "That's good. Did you need some fresh air?" You nodded once again. "I see, don't run off like that. There are a lot of dangerous people, I should warn you. Let's get back inside and eat some breakfast." Rin guided you back into the castle and just like that, you let your brother's words echo in your mind.
= = = = = = =
The waves crashed against the royal ship, where Haruka's engagement party was held. There were loud cheering from inside, most of the guests have already retired for the night, leaving only the ship crew and castle staff to finish off the rest of the marvelous feast the five-star chefs made. You were leaning against the balcony railing, silently longing to return to the sea. Your hands tightened around the stone knife in your hands, you knew what you had to do. Or so you thought.
That night, when everyone was fast asleep, you sneaked into the prince's quarters within the ship. Your lithe fingers holding the knife tightly. Slowly, you inched closer, each step heavier than the first. I have to, brother he...he sacrificed an eye. For ME, a sister that did nothing but argue with him and question him. Why? You didn't have to go that far, brother. But- How can I? This man...he owns my heart. I'm sorry...but...I can't. The few seconds you spent hesitating, Haruka noticed your presence and he, being the light sleeper he is, stirred in his sleep. His long lashes fluttered open and a minute later he was staring up at you with innocent blue eyes, sleep still evident in his orbs.
"_____?" That was when he noticed the knife in your hands, and the horrified, conflicted expression marring your usual gentle demeanor. "Are you alright?" He shot up on his bed and grabbed your hand tightly, while the other grabbed your face. You were shaking, you knew you were. You mouthed a small sorry before freeing yourself from his grasp. You dropped the knife onto the wooden floor of the ship before running out of the room, tears streaming down your face. I'm sorry, but...I just can't.
"_____!" You could hear Haruka calling after you, and his hastened footsteps against the floorboards. No, please...Leave!
"So, I see. You've given up on the deal?" Your eyes widened as you heard the witch's voice. Yes, I have. The next thing you knew after jumping off the ship, was being carried off into the wind. You were now one with the sea and sky you once loved. Your spirit? It will forever run alive, crashing against the cliff beneath the palace, you were sea foam watching over him the same way you did back then.
"I was foolish, wasn't I?"
= BONUS ENDING =
The men crowded against the new king of Iwatobi, King Haruka Nanase. The uniform red cape clasped around his shoulders and glamorous crown adorned his head as he faced the crowd with a small smile. Forced, but a smile nonetheless. "Your Majesty! May we know about that portrait hung in one of the halls in the palace? You said that you yourself painted that, but the woman in the portrait did not resemble any of the previous rules or nobility of this country." An earl spoke up respectfully and Haruka replied with a small nod.
"I myself painted that, that much is true. Yes, she is of no noble blood, but she has a special spot in my heart. I thought that by keeping her memory alive in the palace, I might be able to offer her my forgiveness for being a fool." Haruka stopped for a moment and glanced at the crashing waves, half-expecting to see you waving at him like you usually did.
"Yes, that woman might not have been famous. But the name _[F/N]_ __[L/N]__, will forever be etched in the history of this palace as the girl who became my first love. I was simply too big of an idiot to not realize that I had fallen for her until I lost her."
"You're doing great, Haruka." You whispered into his ear, but what he heard was the loud crash of waves and the seagulls flying over the horizon. Silently, Haruka prayed. That somehow wherever you are, you'll forgive him for being foolish.