Chapter One

Melody sat in front of her mirror as she had been doing for over a half hour. She was trying to perfect her hair style. The ringlets Carlotta had left in her hair were not what she was used to. Melody loved her straight hair but for such an occasion it was appropriate for her hair to be curled. In other words, Ariel had demanded her hair be curled. So, after hours of arguing with her mother, hair tugging, and hair clips galore, Melody was desperately trying to find a way to leave half of her hair up and the other half down. She groaned as yet another clip fell to the floor.

Eric, having been instructed by Ariel to find their daughter, smiled sympathetically at Melody as he stood in her doorway. "Having some issues?"

Melody jumped but smiled when she saw her father. She was glad he was here considering that often times he was the parent she found herself turning to with her issues. She loved her mother but the two were far too similar with their personalities to prevent them from fighting. Eric had lost count of the amount of times he had to be the peace maker between Ariel and Melody.

"Just frustrated with this hair…" Melody explained. "I mean, I like it! Carlotta did a beautiful job! But it isn't me… And what if Chase-?"

"If you think he's really going to care that much about your hair," Eric interrupted, "then maybe we should ask your grandfather to make him stay home."

The princess immediately shut her mouth and let her hair fall free. She glared at her father as he smirked. "That's what I thought," Eric said.

Melody huffed and stood up. She fixed her dress, the one thing she had actually gotten a choice about. The dress fell to just past her ankles and flew out when she spun in it. She had avoided a bow in the back this time, knowing with her luck she would tie Sebastian into it again. Instead the emerald colored dress, the same color as her mother's tail, simply slipped over her head. After that she just needed to adjust herself by straightening out the "poofy" part of the dress, slip on her short cream colored heels, and then add her silver jewelry. Melody had gotten as far as adjusting her dress. She began to search for her shoes until her father called her name. She stood up straight and caught her shoes as her father tossed them. Melody smiled and thanked her father before putting on her earrings and necklace.

Melody took her father's arm when he offered it to her. She took a deep breath and began to head to the stairs. "Dad, are you sure Chase is ready for this?" Melody asked. The merman had only been on land for a month and his walking was still extremely shaky. He had yet to be introduced to the kingdom but the rumors that Princess Melody had a suitor had spread faster than the announcement of Eric and Ariel's wedding. While Melody and Chase were seeing each other daily, it wasn't for courting purposes. The two teenagers merely relaxed together while teaching Chase how to walk on his new legs. He was a terrible student which made Melody question her grandfather's judgment of Chase as the future ruler of Atlantica. Then again Chase's inability to maintain his balance gave Melody a good chuckle as well. She smiled to herself as she remembered Chase's first visit on land.

"Surprise."

Melody's face was redder than her mother's hair and she was stammering like an idiot. "But you—I—This is-."

Chase laughed. "Different? Yeah, I know." There was a slight tinge to his cheeks as well but he remained calm, a lot better than Melody was handling everything anyways. "I was kinda hoping that you could lend me a pair of pants because these shorts your grandfather made aren't very… Suiting." Melody giggled and nodded before running back to the castle. When she returned she saw Chase balancing himself against a rock with a grimace on his face.

"How do you do this, Mel!?" Chase sat down in the sand with a huff. Melody walked over and directed him as to how to get into the pants she had grabbed from her father's closet while Chase hit behind a rock. She handed Chase a shirt only to receive a strange look.

"What's this?" Chase held the shirt upside down, unable to understand it. Melody sighed and showed Chase how to his shirt on.

"It's called a shirt. On land you need these…" Melody grinned and quickly hugged Chase. "I've missed you…"

Chase smiled and wrapped his arms tightly around Melody. "I missed you too…" Those words truly weren't enough to describe how he had missed Melody. He counted down the days until her next visit and even then those planned trips were tentative. This longing for Melody eventually led to Chase begging King Triton to allow him to visit Melody for once.

Melody pulled back and quickly kissed Chase on the cheek, laughing at his reddening face. "C'mon shy boy," she said. "Let's get you to Mom and Dad. I'll ask Carlotta to set you up in one of the rooms in the castle."

Ariel, upon finally seeing her daughter and her husband, let out a heavy sigh. "Forty five minutes, Melody. Everyone has been waiting outside for close to an hour and-." She stopped, her eyes fixated on Melody's hair. "What did you do." Ariel began circling her daughter, examining every strand of hair as closely as possible.

Melody began to stammer. "Well, see, my neck was getting kind of hot because of how thick my hair is and I just wanted to move it out of the way a bit. You know, to help me and whatnot." She looked to her father for some form of advice or reassurance but in return the king merely shrugged and gave her a small smile.

Once Ariel had finished her path around her daughter she stopped in front of her. After a while a smile grew on her face. "It looks lovely…"

Melody beamed and hugged her mother. "It needed to be done… Thanks for understanding…" When she pulled away, she heard Eric clear his throat. The tiny cough was followed by a loud THUD! and a string of mumbled words that could only be distinguished by few people, Melody included. "Will you excuse me?" Melody hurried towards the sound of the crash and giggled at seeing Chase helping himself up.

"Did it take your mom this long to get used to these leg things?" Chase huffed and slipped again, grabbing Melody's open hand for balance. "I mean, how can it possibly be this-?" Chase stopped as he finally got a full view of Melody. She smiled warmly at him and squeezed his hand. "Woah…"

Melody laughed and smacked Chase's arm, trying to divert the attention from her red face. "It really isn't that hard. Besides, you're escorting me in today so I can promise you that I will keep a tight hold of you." She beamed at him and fixed his tie. "Don't worry; I'll make sure you have no wardrobe malfunctions…" She let out a simultaneous chuckle with the blonde in front of her before offering her arm to him.

"No," Chase said. "Even I know that I'm the one who offers my arm." He switched up whose arm went where and smiled at his handy work. "There, that's better."

"Perfect. Now let's be on our way before Ariel loses her temper… Again." Eric grinned at the pair, avoiding the glare of his wife which he could just feel. After so many years of marriage, the couple could understand a simple change in body language or a change of pupil size determined what the other was feeling. Melody had grown accustomed to it. She already knew how her mother worked, she and her being so much alike. Her father had been more of a challenge but after figuring out how simple changes to his jaw meant different emotions, she always knew how something between her parents would end up. Most of the time it was a "lovey-dovey" sight as Melody called it, even though she loved knowing that her parents were still madly in love. At seeing this, however, Melody tugged on Chase, presuming a scolding was going to happen. "We should probably go get in line in the procession. Mom might strangle Dad if he says anything else the rest of the day…"

After helping Chase to his part in the line, making sure that the guests were ready, a couple of deep breaths for Ariel, another couple of deep breaths for Grimsby, Carlotta making sure that all of Max's tracks had been cleared from the floor, and the readjusting of both Ariel and Melody's tiaras, the royal court was finally ready to begin their first ball in over a year. And not just any ball, of course. This was Melody's coming-of-age ball. Though she hid it well, Melody was terrified at what the outcome of this would be. No one knew Chase was from the sea. No one had actually seen him at all; they had all just heard of him. Walking into the ballroom with a random boy who seemed to be bow legged with messy blonde hair-.

Messy blonde hair.

Grimsby pushed Melody lightly to keep the precession in order. She looked at Chase and saw the fear on his face. Melody frowned and before the door was opened to the ballroom she ran her fingers through Chase's hair a few times to smooth it out. He turned to her when she did so and smiled appreciatively. He went to kiss her on the cheek but the sound of doorknobs being turned snapped both of the teenagers back into reality.

Melody sighed. "I hate birthdays."

Chase laughed lightly, knowing exactly how she felt. What was even worse was that he knew who was behind these doors. Eric and Ariel had warned him of what Melody was afraid to tell him. These balls were so large because kings, queens, princes, and princesses from other kingdoms across the continent were all invited. In this particular event, the eldest sons were brought in order to do their best to woo Melody. Eric and Ariel didn't want this for their daughter, of course. They still felt she was far too young. But in the eyes of the other kingdoms the coming-of-age of a princess indicated that she was ready for marriage and the eldest son was soon ready to take the throne. These events were meant to go on for the next couple of weeks, just short of the amount of time Chase would be spending with the royal family.

And the thought that one of these permanent land dwellers could sweep Melody off of her feet, take her away, and bring her farther from the sea then she'd ever been, even farther then when the wall had been up?

Well it was his worst nightmare…