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26 July 2009 @ 04:11 am
Baroque Pearls [Ariel & Ursula]  
Title: Baroque Pearls
Pairing: Ariel & Ursula
Fandom: The Little Mermaid [Disney]
Genre: Drama, Introspection
Rating: PG
Word Count: 835

 

Baroque Pearls

Her third eldest sister turned sixteen, and as custom dictated, their father kissed her tenderly, placed a wreath of pearls (perfectly formed and symmetrically circular—typical and ordinary) in her hair. And off she swam, to the forbidden surface, waving goodbye—blowing back kisses and loving tears (if fish could cry).

Below, watching with flashing eyes, Ariel grated at her envy. Slice, slice, each flipper-flippant farewell felt like sharp knife edges against her heart.

It wasn’t fair.

(that she was the youngest)

Why did she have to wait for so long?

(and they could never understand)

-

Alanna sighed and had shared her pain all this time, knew how agonizing it was to wait and anticipate (and pretend to be ecstatic, just jubilant for their older sisters). Except, this year was her turn, and Ariel was all alone again. Would be for at least another decade.

“I’ll bring you something from the surface!”

(but she had a million intimately secret toys already hidden away)

“Thank you. Have fun, okay?” Like you need a reminder.

-

Their old nanny hardly ever left her rooms these days. Old and shriveled like the bloated tuna that migrated to southern waters each winter, the grandmother curled behind her corals and sea-stalagmites. She scratched absentmindedly at her rusty, clinging, patchy scales till one razor-edged claw nearly drew blood.

“These are for you, special pearls delivered as a present from faraway seas.”

Ariel brushed over the teardrop beads, wondering why they were deformed (and what was the significance of owning them). But she smiled pleasantly and hugged her nanny around the neck (wrinkled and saggy) and silently asked what happened to them after they died.

-

Soon, Alanna returned with magnificent stories and majestic sites to relay back. The other sisters dismissed them as merely obvious and common, but Ariel listened, rooted to her seat, dazzled and drunk off vicarious dreams. The incantations buzzed, swarming, desperately around her ears: castles and roads and carriages and trees.

“And even they have heard of the sea-witch!”

(a single, harmoniously unanimous gasp all around, then imminent applause)

-

Ursula consumed her mind, called out to her like a siren, pleading for release and an emollient for the burns (which your father inflicted).

So, in the morning, Ariel begged her grandmother to tell another tale.

-

As the legends claimed to be true: Ursula lived in dejection and virulent hatred, detested the mermaids, shunned all life (but her “babies”), and fed off the flesh of wandering, hapless princesses. And Ariel thought: I’d die for such an adventure.

“Grandmama, are you sure that Ursula is evil?”

“The cruelest of them all, the most horrifying monster in the seven seas!”

(Ariel had an idea spinning. She was daring and ambitious and not afraid of anything—of dying—and so, she will hunt out this huntress and greet her with pearls and broken shells, to be amended.)

-

Ursula plotted her revenge by the hour, concocted potions and simmered down poisons.

Then one day—as luck it may be—a little princess (the favorite) trespassed onto her domain.

-

“Please, please don’t hurt me. I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry I came here, I didn’t know!”

“Knew that you were a little sneak, a little thief?”

“But I didn’t steal anything!”

“The eels don’t lie, my dear. You’re an awful, awful thief, and you must be punished.”

Ursa lunged for her arm—neck—whatever appendage offered the most leverage.

“You have a beautiful voice,” and an even more beautiful heart.

“Anything but that, please!”

“Oh, don’t worry, I have no use for you anyway…not yet. I’ll let you go, but your debt must be paid one day.”

And Ariel swam away at that so fast she looked just like a grayish blur disintegrating into bubbles. (Ursula sang a tune and returned to her esoteric spells and sorcery.)

-

Guilty and scared and shaking like electrified tilapia (she heard the rumors), Ariel zipped past her sisters and dived right into her familiar crevice. And there, she lulled herself to sleep, don’t think about that, think about something—anything—else!

(She dreamed of a white she-devil who once was a mermaid who was prettier than anyone Ariel ever knew.)

-

Her hair thinned then fell out completely: detached their thin stranded selves from her scalp like plucking daisies from the loamy soil.

Ariel screamed, thinking this couldn’t be real.

-

The grandmother told the father what happened, and he flew into a tempestuous rage fitting of true tyrants (erupted earth and hailed hurricanes). She quieted him with a glare, and nodded over at Poor Ariel, and immediately, he calmed down and grieved over her.

“She’s not dead,” (her son was an idiot, an old fart, a newborn when it came to quick-thinking wits).

“But what can I do?”

“Undo the spell,” honestly.

And when Ariel woke up, she remembered nothing, but there was a new string of pearls (odd and irregularly shaped) hanging loosely from her hand.