Disclaimer: I own nothing. The Little Mermaid belongs to Disney.
Prompt: The price of a soul is heavy indeed.
It wasn't fair.
She hadn't understood. In the underwater kingdoms of her homeland there was no religion - no term for the intangible that made a person them.
She had gone to the meeting place thinking she was on sure footing - clear and confident beacuse of her past experiences with Ursala. The foul magic users under the sea sought real sacrifice from people: their voice, their firstborn, their life
Any of which she was willing to give up in order to get Eric back.
It had been almost a week now since the witch had killed his entire hunting party and kidnapped him. A day since the note demanding Ariel, and only Ariel, meet her if she wanted him back.
The nobles could confer in meetings all they wanted but she had left as soon as night fell and she could slip away.
There was no way she was going to take any one else and risk this chance. His kingdom needed him - she
It is far though and she is starting to feel fatigued (she has never become as strong or sure on these two feet as she was with her fin) by the time she reaches the area near the far side of the lagoon the witch had appointed.
Suddenly, where a moment ago there was only nature, the witch appears. And Ariel knows she needs to keep a close eye on the woman who has caused such upheaval, should be vigilant in case this is all just a trap - but oh, oh she can't
. Because all she has eyes for is him. Right beside her on his knees, bound and gagged but wonderfully seemingly not harmed
His dark eyes bright and desperate - and she can see as soon as he registers her presence by the way his eyes widen and he breathes in hard.
Ariel keeps eye contact with him as the witch makes her demands (not noticing the way the other woman watches the two of them, the dark pleasure in her voice) and sees the sudden panic he expresses when she is told what she must give up in exchange for his release.
But Ariel just smiles at him, because she might not understand what this is but it doesn’t matter - she is willing to pay anything
She turns to the witch for the first time; gives her her hand, gives her this thing called a soul
Ariel remembers very little after that.
The witches laughter echoes.
And it burns - yes, it burns. But she is left feeling so cold.
It is Eric who gets them home, more caring her then anything else. And she feels she should be helping him, should be walking by herself and supporting her husband after his entrapment but... she somehow just can't.
She feels so distant from herself.
And then there is the screaming.
It was terrifying her, the heartbreaking sound. Hoarse and scared. It kept going on for so long.
It scared her more to realize that she was making it herself.
And she can't help it, doesn't understand what she gave the witch - the absence of which has now made her feel so hollow.
Ariel jumps when she becomes aware that Eric is holding her (she has to wonder how long he has been there, she loses track of herself so often these days) before slowly curling her arms around him as well.
She feels his tears on her shoulder and realizes what they are, the emotion they represent - but can't seem to feel the answering emotion in herself. Can't seem to reach her husband from down this well inside which she is trapped.
"God, Ariel," he murmurs against her neck, his voice so strained she can barely hear it. "What are we going to do?"
He backs away from her slightly, sliding his hands from around her back to her front and she watches the way they shake upon her pregnant stomach.
She can do nothing but distantly wonder if the witch knew this would happen - if this was what she wanted. If this was somehow her plan to destroy the kingdom, through the Prince and his heir.
Because if so - it is working.
Day by day she observes her stomach growing, and her husband cracking apart from worry and guilt. And she is still unsure on the nature of souls so she can't be certain - but it has crossed her mind more than once when her eyes catch on her now protruding stomach to wonder, is this one of those things such as the color of hair that pass to the child? Will this absence inside of her
now continue through their line?
Ariel is unsure how long it takes to register she is screaming again - but from the look of devastation stretched to the breaking point on her husband’s face it was a while this time.