Sirène: HCW

By: Sokai

Disclaimer: I, Sokai, do not claim ownership to the workings of W.I.T.C.H. -- I leave that honor up to Elisabetta Gnone. Nor do I own the Australian television program, "H2O: Just Add Water," created by Jonathan M. Shiff Productions (even though this story's only inspired by said show, not an official crossover). However, I can and DO claim to own this story and its inspired ideas FROM said series.

Note: Woot, woot! I diiiid it, I diiiid it! :Dances: Chapter six was actually a hit! Hell, this story on the whole now's a (growing) hit, as well!! Yay! All that worrying and crap was for nothing. LoL AND, a lot of you actually like/prefer the idea of a sun pool, vs. the moon pool that's established in H2O, feeling it's more appropriate for mermaids (in general, not just mine LoL). Thankies! I dunno; what can I say? My mind's constantly thinking, thinking, thinking, making sure everything is either "perfect" (to/for me), and/or makes sense and would work/flow. So . . . you're all in good hands with me for this story . . . I think. I dunno. Don't quote me! LoL :Knocks on wood: LoL

Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for!! The mermaid transformation for each girl! AND! Oh, oh! It's pretty . . . pretty LoL And unique, I think, anyway. MUST be, if so many people have already added each drawing of the girls, I'd quickly sketched (and it shows . . . eww LoL) a couple months ago, to their faves over on deviantART. Thanks again, for that by the way! For the rest of you who might not be members and/or haven't seen them yet, I'll add the links at the very end of my profile for you to check it out! And, AS always, thanks again, everyone, who'd been leaving such wonderful reviews!

This chapter was created/written in August 2008.

i Chapter Seven i

After the tumultuous evening that she had had, Will couldn't wait to get to the Rec Center for her early morning swim, despite her continued fatigue from last night's bizarre and unexpected adventure. She desperately needed a leisurely float about and to submerge her entire body into its cooling water, as a way to relax her bundled up nerves from the previous day.

After having been dropped off by Cornelia, before Hay Lin (who had been slumbering by that time, and most likely hadn't even realized she had gone until it was too late), the only thing that Will wanted to do was to go straight to bed, almost forgoing the thorough shower that her ravaged body had sorely needed.

She could only thank God that her mother, Susan, was away until the weekend for an important business trip in representation of her place of employment, Simultech, an industrial software-developing company. Of her two parents, Will was unfortunately quite familiar, on a personal level, with the fact that her mother was the most strict, and so would have expected an in depth explanation as to both her daughter's whereabouts as well as chaotic appearance, before swiftly punishing her for having nearly broken curfew.

It's a good thing, then, that Dean is pretty much a pushover and inexperienced as a parent, for the most part, and actually bought my lame story of getting into a food fight with some friends, before merely losing track of time, Will thought with a tired, small smile to herself in reflection of her new stepfather, as she left the locker room after having changed into her swimsuit. I only feel bad to know that Rae had kept calling the house, asking for me. . . .

Will felt even worse that she had fallen asleep the moment her head had hit her pillows, after her long shower, and was unable to return her concerned friend's phone call. But she felt all the more blameworthy knowing that, despite the new day, the redhead still hadn't called Taranee, with the exception of leaving a quick message upon her cellphone that went straight to her voice mail, feeding her the same mendacity that she had given to Dean.

It was honestly the first time that the cardinal locked young woman had ever been dishonest to the kindhearted intellectual, and it turned her stomach the more she thought about it. However, the very reason Will had lied was the same reason that she hadn't wished to speak to Taranee just yet.

"What can I tell her? That I'd stumbled into some freakish, underground jacuzzi with my worst enemy and the new kid, who's also Public Enemy Number One to her? Rae would probably think that that was a lie, itself, instead of the one that I'd concocted," Will murmured underneath her breath, tossing her towel onto the ground near the pool's edge. "No. Rae and I may be pretty close, but that doesn't mean that she needs to know everything I might do or go through. I'm just going to try and forget all about it. . . ."

Opting not to put her goggles nor swim cap on just yet, as she only intended to first float for a little bit before swimming a couple of laps, Will gently rubbed her hands together while taking a deep breath and holding it, before elegantly diving front first into the Olympic sized pool.

The familiar, cooling sensation of the water brought an instant smile to her tanned visage as she remained submerged, all thoughts, woes and concerns about the previous night and even the guilt over having misled her best friend effortlessly forgotten, if only for that moment.

With a satisfied exhale after leisurely returning to the surface, wadding within the water for a moment before transitioning into a float upon her strong back, Will suddenly felt a bizarre tingling within her lower abdomen. For a split second, she had thought that, perhaps she might have been experiencing an early onset of menstrual cramps; however, the moment the curious sensations immediately spread throughout the rest of her body, Will knew better.

"W . . . what's happening to me??" she ushered breathlessly in alarm, quickly gripping onto one of the yellow colored lane dividers nearest to her for support, in case her body decided to cramp up completely, with no one present to help fish her out of a potentially watery grave.

As though in response to her befuddled inquiry, a sudden, lukewarm wave of energy overwhelmed Will's body, at the same time that a large torrent of water inexplicably enveloped her entire being. Never had she ever felt like this, almost feeling as though she no longer had any bones within her body. . . .

And then, within an instant, it was over, leaving Will feeling just as perplexed as ever, as the tingling sensations subsided and the encasing water receded.

"Now, that was . . .weird?? Oh! Holy smokes!! Where are my legs??" the redhead shrieked in terror, the moment she made a movement to begin kicking her slender appendages throughout the water once more now that she felt a bit better . . . but could do nothing of the sort.

Instead, as she was beyond surprised to gaze upon, once she'd looked down and into the water, there was only, in her legs' place, what looked to be a long, strong, and majestic looking silver colored . . . fish's tail??

Will's entire mind and body -- What was left of it, at least -- went completely numb at the sight, a deep chill running down her spine, as the only thing that she could manage to do at that particular moment was scream.

And that she did, with fantastic gusto, the high pitched wail effortlessly reverberating throughout the entire and grand Rec Center. How did this happen? Why did this happen, and to her? Moreover, was this all merely some sort of dream? And, if not, was this eerie metamorphosis permanent?

Will, at last tapped out of air within her lungs to continue on within her warranted cries of panic, felt her head beginning to spin the more she tried to understand what had happened to her. Squeezing her eyes shut tight, she forced herself to take deep, cleansing breaths in order to calm herself down so that she could think of a way out of her newfound debacle.

"Okay, okay . . . r-relax, Will! This . . . this all really is just a dream! A-A mere hallucination! Y-yeah! And I'm going to count to three, open my eyes again, and I will be back to normal!" she said to herself within a frenzy, unconsciously holding onto the lane divider for dear life due to her mounting stress. "O-One . . . two --"

"-- W-Will!! Is that you?? I heard someone screaming!! Will, where are you??"

"Oh! My God! Rae! I can't let her see me like this!!" Will hissed to herself in affect, popping her eyes back open after having instantly recognized the new, disembodied female voice that echoed into the otherwise empty Recreational Center to be Taranee's.

Without thinking, the redhead hybrid swiftly let go of the lane divider and ducked back underneath the water, forgetting to take a deep breath beforehand. However, the moment her entire body was once again submerged within the water, letting herself slowly sink to the very bottom and hugging the wall for better cover, Will curiously felt as though she hadn't honestly needed to do so at all.

It was almost as though she could have opened her mouth, or breathed through her nose again right then and there despite her watery surroundings, and it would not have made any difference, nor been a natural detrimental to her health as a result.

Because, strange as it all was, the water just seemed . . . significantly different to Will, almost as though its previous laws and limitations no longer applied to her, now that she was . . . whatever she now happened to be.

Keeping perfectly still, Will strained to listen carefully to where she surmised Taranee might have been above the surface, and soon realized that not only was her hearing significantly improved, to the point of tuning into every last vibration emitted throughout her surroundings, but even her vision was now somehow fantastically enhanced.

"Will! Will?? I swear that I'd heard her. . . ." Will effortlessly could hear Taranee worriedly mutter to herself as she hurriedly walked along the pool's edge, no doubt looking every which way for the missing redhead.

Great. Now I feel even more guilty about everything, Will thought, frowning lightly. I can't keep hiding like this, not while Rae continues to believe that I might have drowned or been kidnapped or something . . . even though I look like an honest science experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong. She's my best friend; so, hopefully, that should be enough. . . .

Bracing herself for the undoubted fright fest and screaming to ensue, the very moment Will revealed herself to the raven haired girl, she slowly lifted her body up towards the surface with primarily her arms' help, until her moist head was the only thing poking out of the water.

"Uh . . . h-here I am, Rae," Will spoke a bit meekly, watching with increased nerves as Taranee tensed up in surprise from her place several feet away, before swiftly whirling around to meet her gaze.

"W . . . Will?? What . . . where'd you come from? And . . . oh, God! What's the matter with your hair?? Your face?? A-And your eyes??" Taranee ushered in profound shock and unease, extending a shaky index finger out towards her close friend, before nearly collapsing onto the cement ground.

Dumbfounded, Will could only raise an eyebrow as her only response for a few moments, before finally speaking.

"W-Wait, I don't understand, Rae. You mean there's something wrong with the rest of me, too??" she inquired within an honest haze, the continued shock of the current fiasco beginning to become a bit too much for her mind to process any longer.

At this, it was Taranee's turn to peer at the other, questionable girl with befuddled eyes from behind her eyeglasses, nodding slowly as she blindly reached into the front compartment of her book bag, and pulled out what looked like a tiny, oval shaped and red tinted mirror compact.

"U-Um, yeah?? How could you not know?? Just look at you!!" the studious girl bellowed with fantastic concern for her dearest friend, hastily popping open the accessory, before practically shoving it into Will's apparently curious looking visage. "And what do you mean, 'the rest of you??' Don't tell me you're sick or something, with some newfound disease, Will, since this is definitely not normal!!"

Cringing at the display of the increased hysteria effortlessly exuding from the mocha skinned teenager, Will, with her heart pounding furiously behind her breastplate, like the first onset of drums sounding during times of war, she shakily seized the mirror from Taranee's grasp and let out an immediate cry at what she saw.

In addition to having inexplicably lost her legs to a glorious, impressive silver tail, the rest of her appearance had indeed also metamorphosed, as well. Her hair, as Taranee had already noted, it once being a brilliant shade of cherry red and bob length, was now a sort of soft, lavender languid blend while gently caressing her shoulders.

Even her formerly rich, chocolate hued eyes had apparently followed suit, as they too unrecognizingly peered back at her within the same tint as her newfound hair. What was most eerie about the pair, however, was that, despite the distinct change in eye color, Will could still clearly make out a halo of sorts, of her original eye color, that surrounded the now light colored pupils.

Perhaps what was most disturbing for the erstwhile redhead to have caught sight of upon her once normal countenance, were the curious, almost freckle-like markings, the same color as both her eyes and her hair, that hugged at themselves and began underneath her eyes, before strategically trailing down to the side of her tawny cheeks.

"H-How . . . I-I mean. . . . What's happened to me, Taranee??" Will gushed with extreme trepidation after her full on inspection of her suddenly transformed face, no longer able to keep a calm resolve, as faulty as it had primarily been to begin with. She lowered the mirror compact away from her field of sight and locked eyes with her best friend, desperately searching her own, normal visage for answers the two were in dire need of.

However, much to her dismay, she was only met with an unwanted, as well as undeniable surplus of Taranee's own fear, brown eyes shimmering with unshed tears. And it was at that moment that Will's heart began to break, as she'd then realized that the other girl's fright had not been triggered for her, but of her. . . .

Unable to speak upon witnessing such a gutwrenching display, both Will and Taranee shared what felt like an eon's worth of silence, as the two could only gaze at one another in shared confusion and unease, the air around them becoming steadily thick with tension.

Finally, after several more moments had passed, with the eerily transformed young woman no longer able to stomach anymore, Will was the first to break the silence . . . by roughly bringing down the hand that still clasped her friend's bright red mirror compact to the moist concrete ground before her, and shattering it in the process.

Taranee let out a sharp cry and swiftly backed away from the questionable girl partially submerged before her, at the same time that Will began to speak within a heated frenzy.

"Damn it, Rae!! Will you please stop looking at me as though I'm going to jump out of this pool and devour you at any second?? I'm just as scared, confused, and sick to my stomach as you are, all right -- And you're not even the one whose face and hair resembles that of a sideshow freak's, or whose legs disappeared and got traded in for a fish tail, as though I were now a can of tuna!!" she exclaimed in continued hurt and anguish, her formerly trapped tears now freely spilling down onto her spotted cheeks with heartbreaking relish. "You're . . . you're honestly my best friend, you know? So, just . . . p-please . . . please, Rae. . . . Don't be afraid of me and leave me here. . . ."

Although the current scene of her fellow, foremost comrade's uncharacteristic unraveling touched her heart more than she ever thought it could, still, Taranee could not help but to find herself feeling a bit unsure of what to do next.

She allowed herself a moment's pause, in order for her normally quite coherent mind to reboot itself, long enough to weigh out both the situation as well as her own, personal options. Indeed, Taranee was quite fearful of Will at the moment, she would not lie to herself, especially having witnessed the almost superhuman strength at the way the other girl had broken her compact with such force.

Will was strong, both emotionally as well as physically, of that Taranee had always been aware. However, never had she ever seen the redhead exhibit such vigor at the drop of a dime . . . even if it had only been used to dismantle a small accessory.

Did she really really want to further associate herself with one who could just as easily turn on her and could possibly perform the same sort of damage in no time at all?

Not to mention that her outer appearance had been frightfully altered, including her legs, Taranee continued to ponder in silence, forcing her breathing to slow in order to calm herself down, reaching up to wipe away a stray tear of her own that had begun to escape from her left eye. Wait a minute. That's right! Will had said her legs are . . . are gone, with a tail in its place?? Then that must mean. . . .

Summoning an incredible amount of courage that she hadn't the slightest inclination she could ever possess at one time, Taranee cautiously crept closer to her very distressed companion, immediately disregarding all of the cons her mind had cited, and merely drew comfort as well as resolution upon the only pro that truly mattered:

Will was, through and through, her greatest friend, and she would stick by her, regardless.

". . . . I-I . . . I'm sorry, Will. Really, I am," the raven haired girl began to apologize, her voice still a bit quivery while she continued to carefully make her way closer to the former redhead, who only gazed back at her with continually pleading eyes. On the one upside for the moment, however, tears had stopped shedding from them. "I won't lie and tell you that I'm not afraid, because I honestly am. . . . B-But, you're my friend, and I'm going to help you in any way that I can -- Especially now that you've apparently been turned into a . . . a. . . ."

"A . . . a what, Rae?? Been turned into a what??" Will pressingly asked in between breaths during her momentary relief, trying to calm herself down, as well. In her steady upset, however, she unconsciously began to swish her thick, silvery tail back and forth within the water, causing some of it to gurgle and jump out of the pool and into her friend's face, just as Taranee had leaned forward and gazed down to confirm her newly formulated suspicions.

"Ahh!!" Taranee shrieked in alarm, falling backward onto her backside and furiously wiping the water residue away from her now moist face, while Will, blushing intensely, gasped in abashment.

"Oh! Rae, I'm so sorry!! I-I didn't mean to! That is --! Ugh! I don't really know how to control this thing just yet!" she rambled in extended embarrassment, breathing a great sigh of alleviation the moment she'd witnessed Taranee only smiling gently at her in response once she'd finished drying her face as best that she could.

"It's . . . all right, Will. I'd imagine that it would be tough for anyone -- Formerly human, anyway -- to understand how to move their mermaid's tail. . . ." she trailed off with tact, struggling to keep her faint simper upon her complexion, as she maintained eye contact with the other girl and allowed the revelation to properly sink in.

Will's countenance immediately went slack upon hearing this, mouth partially agape. Mermaid?? As in, half human female, half aquatic creature of the deep?? Of all of the explanations that had hurriedly rushed through Will's mind for that entire time, that had been the furthest from ever having done so.

And why should it have? Mermaids were mere legends -- Myths at best, that had been manifested by lonely sailors of the great past, and then later romanticized by people of today. So therefore, there was no conceivable way that Will, herself, was now a part of, a living embodiment of such a fabled entity.

Taranee expected her friend to either burst into tears once more, or scream relentlessly at the newfound theory; however, she was greatly surprised as Will, instead, began to laugh uncontrollably, to near hysterics.

"W-Will?? Are you okay??" the brown eyed girl inquired in intermingled concern and perplexity, crawling back over to the giggling girl before her.

Will, in the midst of her glee, nodded briskly within initial reply, once more feeling her submerged tail move without concentrated prompt, this time swaying much more lackadaisically than before.

"Y-Yeah, Rae, yeah," she began, at last beginning to regain her composure, although a few soft chuckles would escape from her lips every now and again. "It's just that, well, I mean, I know that you're 'Miss Know-It-All' and pretty much my 'Go-To-Gal' for whenever I need answers straightaway -- Especially since you're usually correct in whatever it is I might be asking you about. But, this, however, has got to be the most ridiculous solution you have ever come up with!"

Taranee couldn't help but scowl deeply at this, looking away from the smirking girl and down into the pool's clear, inviting water towards her imperial tail.

"Well, do you have any better ideas?? And it wasn't a solution, Will, but only speculation," she responded in indignation, still peering at her friend's new "rear end," almost feeling a bit mesmerized by the sight of it despite the ever present uneasiness she felt by the overall situation. After all, it wasn't everyday that one witnessed a miracle such as this, something once thought to be only possible within a fairytale.

It was almost humbling, in a way.

Taranee faintly smiled as she watched Will's translucent, regal looking fin lazily folding itself within the water's current, as though waving up at her in greeting.

"Speculation -- Theory -- Hunch -- Whatever! It still doesn't explain what's happened to me, or confirm what I now am!" she could hear Will's voice break through her distracted, momentary daze, exhaling dryly in the process. "I am not a . . . a. . . . See? I can't even say it, it's that idiotic!"

Taranee let a soft sigh, rubbing her temples in frustration.

"A mermaid, Will, yes. And what's so idiotic about it?? It's never stopped you from watching shows or movies that feature them, right?? Especially not one in particular, with the star mermaid who looks an awful lot like --"

"-- Do not even say it, Rae, that I now resemble that mermaid, just because we both have red hair and fins," Will interrupted in a huff, placing a now wrinkled index finger into the air to further silence her friend's train of thought. "Or, at least, I used to have red hair, anyway, not to mention that I don't have a green tail as she does. . . . A-Anyway! Why are we even discussing this or cartoon, fictional characters as though it holds any merit, what so ever??"

"Because it does?? All right, fine. Since you're so big on science, let's look at it this way: If you now just happen to possess the same components as these so called 'fictional characters,' as you'd said, would it then be wrong to hypothesize that, perhaps, you might also be a mermaid as they are, yourself??" Taranee offered in all seriousness, her knowledgeable side effortlessly taking over as her mind began to work out this impromptu equation as though it were a math problem.

And knowing how much Will, herself, preferred to base everything upon solid fact (being the natural scientist that she was) before merely jumping the gun, she knew that approaching the continually doubtful girl in this manner would possibly conclude with better results than before.

Sure enough, Taranee watched in relieved satisfaction as Will's multicolored face scrunched up within a very displeased, although far more respondent manner, before speaking.

". . . . All right, fine. So, say, I were to go along with this . . . query of yours. Do you have a sturdy explanation as to why this has happened??" she asked challengingly, narrowing her uniquely hued eyes at her friend, who could only shake her head, in slight defeat. "Then would you kindly help me out of here, please? I'm starting to turn into an honest prune. . . ."

At this, it was Taranee's turn to begin a small fit of laughter of her own. Apparent mermaid or not, she knew full well that this would not be an easy task, now that her friend's saturated body had taken quite some time to become a lot more dense and thus, a lot heavier in the process.

And now that she's part fish, who knows how much that tail of hers, alone, might weigh, the caramel hued girl mused with an inward groan, before carefully seizing both of Will's outstretched arms just then, both girls bracing themselves for the undoubtedly difficult task at hand.

"Okay, on the count of three, I'll pull, and you just . . . I-I don't know. Just propel yourself out of the water at the same time, or something, all right?" Taranee directed in concentration, not wishing to waste any more time, lest the luck they'd captured thus far abruptly run out, the moment anyone else, namely Mr. Townson might, for whatever reason, unexpectedly come upon the scene.

Will merely nodded in understanding, she too beginning to feel just as anxious and understanding of the urgency to leave the premises before getting caught, God forbid . . . although, how she would leave, exactly, now that she no longer possessed her normal appendages, was yet another mystery to unravel.

"All right . . . one, two, three!" Taranee grunted, using all of her might to help pull her friend from out of the water, while she simultaneously did her own part to do the same. Although, for the most part, Will hadn't a clue how to reconnect her synapses to the lower part of her body in order to direct them properly, she had somehow managed to push herself out of the water, nonetheless . . . almost as though the water around her had understood her intention and complied.

"Oof!!" both girls groaned at the same time, the moment Will's slippery body had unexpectedly collapsed onto Taranee's, before either could prevent it from happening. Will felt her cheeks grow intensely hot from embarrassment as she began to focus upon the girl's labored breathing, feeling her chest deflating and rising more frequently than it would have normally.

Geez, I must weigh a ton, thanks to this stupid tail of mine, the fair haired changeling thought in mortification, as she continued to lay diagonally on top of Taranee, who, in between gasps, managed to squeak out, "W-Will, could you please get off of me?? I feel like my chest's being crushed by a Baby Grand Piano!!"

Without another word, Will swiftly did as was requested of her, rolling off of Taranee and flat onto her back next to her. Despite her continued abashment, she couldn't help but lightly smile as she stared idly up at the high up ceiling of the otherwise empty Rec Center, listening to Taranee begin to furiously cough for renewed air.

"Glad you find it so funny," the dark haired teenager muttered, after successfully getting her breathing back to normal, apparently catching sight of her friend's amused expression.

"Sorry, Rae," Will said with an apologetic smile as she turned her moist head to look properly at the other girl, before slowly sitting up within her spot, as best that she could. "But I think I'd rather been crushed by that metaphorical Baby Grand of yours, instead of being stuck looking like sushi right now. . . ."

Taranee sighed, nodding in understanding, cringing a bit as she began to feel the water that Will had inadvertently spilled onto her the moment she had landed upon her, seeping into her partially dry clothes and onto her skin.

"Yeah, well. . . . We're going to figure all of this out, okay? Don't worry about it -- You're not alone," she remarked softly, carefully rising to her feet and peering down at a helpless looking Will, who gazed back up at her questionably. "First things first, though: We'd better get you -- And now myself, thank you -- dried off before we try to move you some place safe. You're way too heavy and slippery to lug around right now, otherwise."

With only a sigh, Will waited and watched patiently, as Taranee quickly walked over to Will's momentarily forgotten belongings in the near distance, and seized the large towel she had placed upon her duffel bag. Without thinking, Will began to idly trail her left hand down towards her powerful, yet delicate looking tail to touch it for the first time, while the elbow of her right hand continued to prop her body up.

Despite its blatant beauty, she could not help but feel a rush of pure disdain towards it, even as its overall silvery hue glinted and shimmered within the overhead lights of the Rec Center, giving off faint, yet detectable traces of other tints upon every scale to perform a breathtaking kaleidescope of color.

It may have been undeniably remarkable, true, but it was also undeniably unnatural and wrong.

She wanted her legs back!

"Eww!!" Will squealed in immediate disgust with a wrinkling of her nose, the moment her hand rested upon her tail to caress it. She swiftly raised it into the air, nearly gagging at the sight of the unknown, inexplicable slimy substance that now caked her appendage.

Taranee lightly giggled at her comrade's expense as she approached, despite finding the scene just as revolting.

"Ah, the mucus, I'm going to presume," she began, giggling harder as her eyes met with the other girl's dejected stare. "Hey, it isn't my fault. I mean, think about it: You are, technically, part fish, almost, and so naturally would have, need, and be coated with the same sort of . . . slime as they, and for the same reason: To protect you from any sort of infection, as well as to make it easier to swim, by reducing friction with the water."

"Yes . . . I'm aware of all of that, thanks -- Hello, science buff, remember??" Will hissed in irritation, raising her congealed hand up as though for emphasis, as Taranee crouched back down beside her. "It still doesn't take away from the fact that this is by far, the most disgusting, horrific experience of my life!! Or the fact that I'm probably going to forever be stuck being a human -- Or inhuman, rather, slime factory!"

Letting out a sympathetic sigh, gently drying herself off a bit before beginning to do the same for her renewed, frazzled friend in turn, Taranee, in an attempt to cheer her up, weakly offered, "Well, at least you'll make one heck of an interesting, tantalizing science experiment for yourself, if that's any consolation."

Will merely gave the young woman an incredulous look in response, one that said it all, before looking abruptly away from her and sitting in silence, while waiting impatiently to be dried off. Taranee took care in drying off her chest and back first, as awkwardly as that was, before doing the same for her tail, so as not to spread any more of the girl's natural secretions onto the rest of her body.

"Hmm. . . ." she murmured thoughtfully to herself, pausing a moment to begin drying Will's back, after having gently as well as quickly dabbed at her uniquely scale covered chest, which curiously did not appear to be as mucus saturated, if at all, as the scales upon her tail.

". . . . What, now?" Will murmured in question, exhaling in defeat as she stared ahead at nothing in particular, already resigning herself to whatever new discoveries her friend might have found upon her body . . . no matter how vile.

Sure enough. . . .

"Huh? Oh, it's nothing, really. . . . It's just . . . I see that, on each of your shoulder blades, you have three . . . slits, so to speak, that look almost like gills," Taranee revealed, as delicately as she could, alongside her increased fascination. She hesitated for a moment, before gently running a finger over the marks upon Will's right shoulder blade.

Will shivered slightly at the unexpected touch and weird sensation, her stomach reeling even more from the additional news.

"Gills?? Well, Jesus -- I really am a freaking fish!!" she cried, turning her light colored head in attempt to peer at the anomaly for herself. "But, wait a second. If I really do have gills back there . . . then how am I able to breathe right now? The air, I mean??"

Taranee frowned in reflection, resuming her task of drying the rest of Will's back.

"That's a very good question. . . . When you were under the water, were you also able to breathe then, as well, or had to naturally hold in your breath?" she asked with a serious tone, gently handing over the partially moist towel over to her friend to finish herself off, while she went back to studying her quite perplexing back.

"Uh . . . yeah, actually, I was -- Able to breathe then, as well, I mean," Will replied thoughtfully, reflecting upon the moment, as she hurriedly began to squeeze out the remaining water from her slightly soaked hair, before moving onto her nuisance of a tail, at last. "I mean, at first I can remember holding it in -- Or at least I thought that I was, anyway. But then, after a while, I just slowly began to realize that I really didn't need to, because I could inhale the water just fine, as though it had been actual air, instead. . . . I can even recall thinking how much more . . . heightened my senses were -- Still are. . . ."

Taranee looked up from her friend's questionable back, to instead gaze upon her face in curiosity.

"Oh, yeah? How so?"

"I don't know . . . just . . . everything just seems a lot more . . . significant to me, I guess. Like I'm much more aware of everything, now -- The water's surroundings while I was in there and underneath it, and then how my sight is definitely a lot more acute . . . like a cat's or something, almost. . . ." Will explained as best she could, trailing off as she then began to grow uncomfortable, making note of all of the more considerable changes within and about her.

The more that she would, the far less human and still like herself she felt. . . .

Sensing her compatriot's increasing upset all over again, Taranee gave Will's back one final look before moving to her side, sitting beside her and giving her as generous a smile as she could manage.

"Hey . . . I wouldn't worry about it so much, all right? I mean . . . yes, all right, this definitely is not normal, and neither of us can actively explain how or why it's happened. But we'll take the right sort of steps to make sure we eventually can," she said warmly, resting a comforting hand upon the tawny skinned girl's now completely dry shoulder. "We're already comprising a list of things that are both new and different about or for you, right? So all we have to do is keep all of it in mind as we work our way backwards from there. And . . . if it helps to know, your . . . gills seem to have mysteriously closed up a bit, almost as though they've 'shut down' or something, in order to allow your lungs to resume its own function, I suppose, now that you're out of the water. . . . It's pretty neat, actually. . . ."

Will, having been vigorously rubbing at her tail (despite the slight pain the fierce friction it would cause in the process) in attempts to dry it, although primarily to remove as much of her unwanted mucus, instantly stopped upon hearing these words, her heart sinking.

"Rae, honestly? No, this isn't neat, or cool, fun, or anything," she began dolefully, looking at her best friend with equally saddened eyes. "Have you even stopped to realize that now, because of all of this, I won't ever be able to walk again? And school and family is definitely out of the question. I'm going to be stuck this way for --"

Will abruptly cut herself off right then, the moment she curiously began to feel the same warm, slightly tingling sensation coursing throughout her entire body, the one she had felt right before she had mystically undergone her change.

"W-Will! Look!" Taranee gasped in alarm, backing away a bit, as her brown eyes widened in both shock and amazement at the scene unfolding before her. Will at last turned her attention away from her friend and back onto her tail once more . . . which, as she was able to witness just in time, had then begun to glow with a soft hue, the same as her hair and eyes, before intensifying and spreading up to the rest of her body.

And then, it was over, just as quickly as it had began, as the light began to diminish within a wave-like effect that was almost reminiscent of the ones created within the swimming pool before the pair . . . and, just as miraculously, a pair of smooth, tanned and slender legs lay together within the tail's place.

Both girls could only stare, with fantastically widened eyes, unable to formulate any sort of coherent word or sound outside of the steady gasps the two would alternatively emit every so often. After allowing a couple more moments to pass, in order to properly register, as best that they could, what had just transpired, Will was the first to speak.

"My . . . my legs! Rae, m-my legs are back!! They're here! Look at them!!" she cried within hysterical glee, swiftly descending upon them with both hands, caressing and pinching them over and over to make absolutely sure that they were really there.

Taranee could only nod slowly in agreement for a moment, blinking repeatedly as she took off her glasses to pinch at the bridge of her nose.

"Uh . . . y-yeah, they are, Will," she managed to muster, her mind still in shock over the seemingly magical display in which the girl's formerly vanished appendages had reappeared. It was then that Taranee had also finally taken notice that not only were Will's legs returned to her, but so too were both her natural hair color and length, in addition to her swimsuit. "Oh, wow . . . and apparently the rest of you is back, as well. . . ."

Will looked up at this and towards her best friend, the grin upon her continually relieved countenance practically expanding well beyond its natural confines. She followed Taranee's gaze and simple point of her finger and looked down, at last paying attention to the rest of her body, just as a couple strands of her crimson locks fell gently across her eye, as though in salutation.

"Oh, my God, you're right! My swimsuit is back on me, dry as a bone, a-and look! My hair! It's red and short again!" she exclaimed with profound jubilation, gripping clumps of her tresses within her hand as though to make certain that it was legit. "Wait! What about my eyes and face, then?? Are they all right and back to normal, too??"

"Yes, Will, they definitely are," Taranee confirmed with a slowly appearing grin and nod, replacing her eye wear back onto her face, as she looked upon Will's returned, untouched visage and similar brown eyes to her own. "I honestly am at a loss for words over this entire experience -- I really am. It's certainly . . . spellbinding, to say the least."

Will let out a slight scoff at this, quickly rising to her feet before helping her friend up and leaving her towel upon the ground.

"I don't care what it was, Rae. I'm just happy that it's finally over! And that I've got my legs -- And life back! Now let's get out of here and get to school, before we jinx things and you start growing tentacles for arms, or something," she joked with another grin, feeling immensely elated that she could actually do such a thing once more. She gently patted Taranee upon the shoulder, before jogging on ahead to grab her belongings and headed towards the locker rooms.

"Gee, thanks, Will. Nice to have your old self back again," Taranee remarked with false offense, rolling her eyes heavenward a moment, before bending over to pick up the momentarily forgotten, vaguely goo riddled and moist towel. She then gently giggled to herself, as she watched her much happier companion disappear into the locker rooms to change out of her swimsuit and into the school clothes she had brought with her. "Thank goodness it really is all over. . . ."

When Cornelia had awakened the next morning, she'd felt completely refreshed and relaxed. No part of her seemed to ache any longer, and curiously, not even her previously sore, sprained ankle . . . well, not as much as before, anyhow.

That bubble bath had obviously done wonders, she sleepily thought, blue eyes remaining closed as she was in no great rush to rise out of her grand and very plush, golden super king sized bed. It doesn't even really feel like I'd ever gotten injured in the first place, or had a crazy night. . . .

Cornelia could not believe the incredible luck she had experienced, late last night, upon returning home. And considering the amount of ill-fated fortune she had been dealt for the great duration of her afternoon, up until early evening, that was saying a lot.

Knowing how worrisome her mother, Elizabeth, could be at times, to the point of suffocation (especially when it unfortunately had to do with her little sister, and Cornelia's supposed mistreatment of her), Cornelia had spent the remainder of the limousine ride home trying to concoct an ingenious plan, after having dropped off both Will and Hay Lin to their respective and far less prestigious homes.

It had taken some doing, but she had finally come up with the perfect alibi:

"After Glenys had suggested that I walk home after practice, I was going to do just that. But then I thought, 'What's the rush? It's such a nice, sunny and bright afternoon, so why not enjoy the remainder of it right here on the beach?' So, that's what I did. Laid myself out upon the sand, got a little sunbathing in, and ended up falling asleep and lost track of time," she'd begun her woven set of lies after walking in through the door of her family's penthouse, crafting her tale in such a meticulous fashion that she was so sure her visibly bothered parents standing before her would buy into. "But, of course, as you may or may not know -- But should, honestly -- a lot of people around here are pretty jealous of me because of our family's wealth and popularity. And . . . I guess a couple of people had thought it'd be funny to play a cruel prank on me, by stealing my sports bag while I slept. . . . Because, by the time I had woken up, realizing that I had completely overslept, it was too late to do anything about it -- Not to mention the condition of my clothes and hair, courtesy of the tide coming in, thank you very much!"

Once Cornelia had gotten all of those fabricated details out of the way, it had been quite easy bringing the entire story home, informing her parents further that because it had been so dark, she had gotten lost during her journey home, and obviously could not have called due to her cellphone having been inside of her bag.

And as for the sprained ankle, it had merely been her own misfortune, after having stepped within an unseen pothole during her continued trek home.

About the only real hiccups within the wealthy blonde's tall tale, had been doing her best to calm down as well as dissuade her mother, especially, from filing a police report for her "stolen" belongings, in addition to writing quite a volatile letter to the city's mayor to do something about the streets of downtown.

Cornelia even found herself trying to convince her father, Harold, not to terminate Glenys's employment as their housekeeper, despite her never truly having gotten along with the older woman. Perhaps it had merely been a former lapse in judgment, fatigue or mere joy to at last be home, safe and sound (and dry).

It certainly could not have been guilt of any kind, being that Glenys had actually gone ahead and told Cornelia to attempt walking home, rather than simply wait at the beach for Marshall to come fetch her.

All in all, however (and despite all three of them, both of her parents and including herself, being ferociously upset that she had lost her expensive, favorite pair of lucky golden ice skates, seemingly forever), Cornelia had managed to easily get away with murder.

Her family, even Lillian, surprisingly, who had managed to stay up past her bedtime just to see her older sister finally arrive home unharmed (a fact that did not escape Cornelia, and had made her feel quite vindicated to have witnessed the younger girl cowering behind their father with glistened eyes. After all, if it hadn't been for Lillian and her dance lesson, quite honestly, the debacle of the blonde's near death experience wouldn't have even occurred), had all seemed primarily relieved to have Cornelia back home where she belonged to worry about anything else.

Even Marshall, prior to having left the premises for the evening, had seemed to focused upon that notion, as well. For he had not even bothered to pass mention to Mr. and Mrs. Hale about their daughter's curious companions who had been waiting with her at the gas station, when he'd gone to pick her up, the both of them looking just as disheveled as she had.

The thought of having concern over that matter had crossed the girl's mind during her false explanation to her parents, and so had decidedly prepared herself with a backup excuse if need be. She just hadn't seen the need to include those two ruffians within her narration, primarily due to the sole fact that she could not stand either one of them, nor ever would.

It was bad enough that I had to share my fancy limo ride with them, giving them a taste of the sweet life they so do not deserve -- Let alone the fact that I had spent so long stuck down within that creepy cave with they of all people, Cornelia mused in bitterness, at last rising from her bed and entering her indulgent, private bathroom with a slight hobble of her legs and stretch of her arms. Oh, well. It's all over now. At least they can't say that I was never charitable towards them.

With a smug expression of distinct superiority and smirk at the private thought, the sun kissed haired girl's face immediately fell, the moment her eyes had landed upon the bathroom clock hanging upon the soft pink colored wall above her spa bathtub.

"Seven thirty-five?? Both the homeroom and late bell has already rung!! Oh, my God!!" she screeched in alarm, immediately peeling off her silk nightgown as quickly as she could, and practically catapulted herself into the separate, walk-in shower that was adjacent to the large tub. "I haven't been late for school since I was eight-years-old! And that was because I had stubbornly fought against Mom and had decided to subdue the massive cold I'd had, rather than stay home! Now how is this going to look to Elyon and the others?? Ugh!"

Cornelia felt increasingly enraged, climbing back out of the shower for a moment to seize her electric toothbrush and spearmint flavored toothpaste, in order to simultaneously take care of both her body and teeth to save time. She couldn't believe her luck so far this week. First, she'd nearly drowned last night because of Lin and her irritating, new comrade-apparent, Vandom.

And now, this.

Why hadn't anyone woken her up and let her know of the time?? Had she even honestly bothered to set her alarm clock, as she normally would, before climbing into bed last night?? She had been too exhausted at the time, so the possibility that she really hadn't was quite strong.


That was what servants and maids were for, so that they could wait upon oneself hand and foot while keeping on top of things, such as waking their employer's eldest daughter up for school on time!!

Hurriedly climbing back into the shower, wincing slightly from the renewed, faint pain of her now only vaguely swollen ankle, Cornelia began to mutter a string of obscenities underneath her breath, at the same time that she reached up to put the shower head nozzle straight down before leaning forward to twist both handles on, or having closed the glass door.

She did this, as she always would during the start of each shower, because she knew that the water would still be a bit too cool for her liking, and so therefore didn't wish to get wet quite yet. The blonde let out a frustrated sigh as she tapped her now moist, healthier left foot against the tile floor, while impatiently waiting for the water to shift from lukewarm to scalding hot just the way that she liked it, despite knowing it wasn't particularly good for her so far flawless skin.

Nonetheless, that was how Cornelia preferred her showers and baths, continuing to wait for a few more moments, while beginning to brush her teeth in the meantime. She had only been brushing them for not more than a couple of seconds, before her entire body began to feel quite peculiar . . . as though almost queasy from the familiar, minty taste of her toothpaste.

Swaying a little bit, with electric toothbrush still in hand and buzzing from its on position, Cornelia blindly took a step back and sat down upon the built in shower seat. She needed to try to rest the curious, thrilling sensation that increasingly began to build up within her insides.

Thinking that perhaps she was maybe experiencing a panic attack of sorts, the sole girl swiftly rose back onto her feet to exit the shower, turning off and setting down her toothbrush, when a wave of warmth washed over her entire body . . . in addition to a perplexing cascade of water that had suddenly appeared from out of no where.

Cornelia's mind immediately snapped back to the previous night, when she had been completely submerged within the ocean's waters, otherwise helpless to prevent her inevitable demise, had it not honestly been for both Vandom and Lin's aid. . . .

She began to feel terrified all over again, her hydrophobia effortlessly returning to her tenfold, as she watched the mysterious water flood over her terrified, widened eyes and mouth, drowning her . . . or, so she had thought.

For, just as swiftly as the water had appeared, it was gone, vanishing or evaporating just as quickly as it had accumulated. Cornelia had no time, however, to breath a sigh of relief, as she felt herself falling forward, the undetectable tingling that had enveloped her naked body instantly subsiding.

She let out a sharp cry of pain as she, unable to stop herself, collided into the shower's sturdy and open glass door, before smashing onto the cold, marble bathroom floor.

"Ouch!! My wrist!!" Cornelia hissed in continued affliction, having landed flat onto her stomach as well as her left hand, immediately rolling over onto her back to help alleviate some of the shooting pain that had then began to slightly pulsate within the appendage. "This is so not my morn -- Ahhhhh!!"

Cornelia let out a piercing, bloodcurdling scream the moment that her eyes met with quite the startling discovery. . . . There, glistening within all its wondrous glory, was practically a behemoth sized, silvery tail, its slender fin flopping back at her with slight vigor.

Where were her legs?? What has happened to her fantastic, beautiful and all too important legs??

That was the extent of her mind's cognitive processing for the time being, as the mortified blonde continued to screech at the top of her lungs at the sight, her newfound tail thrashing back at her as though in equaled perturbation.

"C-Cornelia?? I-Is that you?? I'd thought you were at school by now! W-What's going on?? Are you okay?? I-I can't get into your room!! Unlock the door!!" curiously, Cornelia could effortlessly, even above her own cries, make out her sister, Lillian's rambling, terrified (and for once, concerned) voice sounding from behind her sealed bedroom double doors in the distance.

The older Hale sibling's blood instantly ran cold at this, her brain somehow managing to jump start once again in the process.

It wasn't that Cornelia was surprised to learn that the other girl was still at home, herself, as she was fully aware that Lillian's school day traditionally started a bit later than hers did. It was because, as frightened as she currently was, herself, there was no force upon this Earth, living or otherwise, that which could ever allow her younger and only sister to come in and see her in this way . . . even if the door was thankfully locked, anyhow, and she only wished to help, apparently. . . . Not to mention that Cornelia hadn't the faintest idea how she had ended up looking like "this" in the first place, nor was none too blissful about it. . . .

"G . . . go away, squirt!! I-I just . . . I thought I saw something a-after getting out of the shower!" she lied, shivering in continued fear as she called out from behind herself, furiously wiping at her creamed complexion to clear the white, toothpaste foam away from it.

Well, no, it hadn't been a complete lie, she silently decided to amend for herself, given that she had witnessed something after having left the shower . . . that still remained running, and steadily filling the bathroom full of pure steam.

It just hadn't been anything she could have ever expected.

Not in this lifetime, anyhow.

"H-Hey!! D-Don't you take your scaredy-cat stupidity out on me, okay?? I'm not the one who kept screaming her head off, probably over a tiny, little ant or something!!" Lillian shouted back in rising anger against the closed bedroom door, her voice beginning to quiver as a telltale sign that she was on the brink of tears.

For a very, absolutely brief moment, Cornelia couldn't help but to feel a tad ashamed of herself for having obviously hurt the other girl's feelings, especially when she had only been naturally concerned at that moment, rather than her usual mischievous.

However, she swiftly shrugged it off the moment she had taken another look, with oddly sharpened eyes, at the horrific tail peering back at her, realizing that there were far more important things to worry about at that given moment.

"Would you just scram, already, you little brat?? It's bad enough that I'm running supremely behind schedule this morning! I don't need your nosy little behind sniffing around here to distract me!!" the blue eyed heiress barked towards the door, rolling back onto her stomach and beginning to drag her partially limp body, with great effort, out of the steaming bathroom and back into her bedroom. "Or else, I'll come out there right now, go into your room, and chop off each of the heads to all of your favorite dollies!!"

True, the last statement had been a bit much; however, Cornelia was nonetheless pleased to listen that the threat had worked, as Lillian, erupting into tears, fled from the bedroom door without another word. The distressed blonde breathed a sigh of relief (in spite of the fact that she had hurt her younger sibling's feelings, although such an occurrence was not at all foreign), as she was then able to focus upon the task at hand.

But . . . what exactly was that?? It wasn't as though she knew how any of this had happened, and she certainly did not know how to fix it.

Still, she had to try.

"Ugh . . . I feel as heavy as a whale!" Cornelia groaned, managing to pull herself into the middle of her bedroom and stopping in front of her full bodied mirror, before giving up in fatigue. She exhaled into the plush carpeted floor to catch her breath, bowing her head a moment, before looking towards the mirror to get a better view of herself.

Somehow, Cornelia had managed to stifle the renewed screams that so desperately wanted to be released from her throat, as her formerly ice blue colored eyes mysteriously shone a drastically haunting, ghost white, with a faint blue ring encircling them. . . .

Even her glossy, shoulder length locks, traditionally sunflower in color, had also followed suit of her eyes, becoming a pure, shocking ivory that trickled down to the middle of her bare, well toned back. Perhaps the most discomfiting to the perplexed, obliviously shallow girl (with the sight of her now completely intimidating eyes as a supremely close second), were the equally white spots that sporadically freckled her peaches and cream visage.

"Oh! M-My face! My perfect face!!" Cornelia cried, biting down onto her lower lip in whimpering, as she reached out to touch the mirror's cool, smooth surface for a moment, before doing the same to her now unrecognizable countenance. It was then that she had at last also taken notice of the numerous scales, also silver in color, that were helpfully covering her otherwise naked chest, and even part of her ribcage.

She wanted to faint, she was that appalled by the overall sight.

"Eww . . . what . . . what's wrong with me?? And why me?? This is so totally disgusting!!" the newly snow white tressed teenager whispered to her stunned, mimicking reflection, before swiftly looking away and began pulling herself towards her bed. "As . . . as much as it will pain me to do this and let her -- Anyone -- see me like . . . like this, I just have to call Elyon! She's . . . argh . . . she's probably the only one alive who might not freak out -- For long, anyway -- before helping me figure out how to fix all of this!!"

Feeling great remorse over her most recent resolve, Cornelia nonetheless kept right on dragging herself closer to her unmade bed, in hopes of reaching for the telephone that rested upon the nightstand next to it. Just a quick phone call, and hopefully the other blonde (although Cornelia was she, herself, no longer) would somehow be able to excuse herself from class in order to rush over there to her friend's dire aid.

"Just . . . a little . . . m-more??" Cornelia grunted to herself as she reached the foot of her bed, feeling a bit dazed, as her entire body once more became quite tepid with the previous stirrings of earlier. Before she could neither say nor do anything, she turned her head just in time to witness an overwhelming, although calming, vivid white light bathe her overall form.

A soft gasp slipped past her pink tinted lips, slowly closing her eyes for just a moment, before reopening them in time to see that, somehow, someway, the body that she had always known and taken pride within had returned . . . legs, bare, now unshielded breasts and all.

She was back.

"O-Oh!" was all Cornelia could utter, a brilliant, although confused smile immediately flashing straight across her face. She quickly pulled both of her smooth legs up to her chest and, with a relieved exhale, honestly hugged them for all she was worth.

After another moment of embracing and caressing of her renewed legs, Cornelia released them and scrambled back over to her full length mirror, and let out a delighted squeal to see that the rest of her was back to normal, as well.

"Yes! Praise the Beauty Gods and Goddesses, I'm back!" she cried, not realizing the silliness within her words, as she furiously stroked her unmarred face and gently pulled at her lemon tinted hair, before rising to her feet.

She was still within the throws of euphoria, that she hadn't yet caught onto the blatant fact that she was still in the nude however merely grinned with ecstatic prestige once she had.

". . . . I may not have any sort of clue as to what all of that had been before, but I am so happy that it's all gone, its ugliness is never coming back, and that my naturally smokin' hot body is returned!" Cornelia smiled with self reassurance and zero modesty. Placing a hand upon her bare hip, the wealthy blonde struck a pose for a moment, before turning away from the mirror and towards her walk in closet to get dressed for class, without so much as another thought upon the previously frightening manner. . . .

A very sleepy Hay Lin groggily made the trek, like a zombie, across her bedroom floor and towards her own bathroom, eyes only partially open. She could not recall the last time she had ever felt so tired and in dire need of sleep before in her life, prior to the previous night, upon having arrived home after such a strenuous day.

After having gotten dropped off to her house by Cornelia, of all people, having had to endure a pretty awkward and tense rest of the ride with her (that she had thankfully, at least, been asleep for the majority of it) after Will had arrived at her own home first, Hay Lin had given herself a steady, silent prayer that her parents would still be at the Silver Dragon, busy with their usual late night clean and lock up for the evening.

Despite it being a pretty usual routine for the pair, it was not uncommon for Mr. and Mrs. Lin to finish up a lot earlier, especially during particularly slow nights, which left one of them free to head on home while the other stayed behind in the meantime.

Thus, for this reason, was precisely why Hay Lin had been especially concerned.

Even though things would have still been busy within the restaurant until closing, it had also been a weekday, which meant that there was a good chance that either her mother or her father would already be home, waiting for her once she'd arrived.

And given that her overall appearance had been nothing short of largely questionable, the artist already knew that she would have quite a lot of explaining to do . . . which was something she had not at all been looking forward to doing.

Thankfully, however, as it would have it, luck had at last been on Hay Lin's side, as she had managed to sneak into the house, undetected, through her window, courtesy of the vinyl lattice that had been erected right below it.

And it had been lucky, still, for her, that Alchemy had had enough sense of mind, within the midst of the ongoing chaos, to leave a message upon the family's answering machine some time during the course of the evening, stating that Hay Lin was still within her company, working upon their homework at the library.

The ebony tressed girl couldn't help but become overwhelmed with a pelter of positive emotion toward her dear friend, as she'd listened to the message after having heard the machine's beeping echoing within the hallway and throughout the empty, dark house while climbing into her bedroom.

Even throughout the other girl's undoubted turmoil, worrying about the talented girl's whereabouts and whether or not she was safe, Alchemy had nonetheless managed to go on ahead and cover for her, lest her parents become any more wracked with upset and concern than they'd been already that day for their only daughter.

This made Hay Lin both honored, yet guilty to have such a wonderful, caring person as her companion, because while she would have done the very same for the copper haired girl without question, she also knew that, despite everything, she still might not be able to ever reveal exactly why she had been vanished for so long.

It had been her consistent thought, during her thorough shower and careful disposal of her completely tattered clothing, in addition to while she'd picked up the telephone inside of the kitchen downstairs to call the girl back.

It honestly wasn't as though Hay Lin did not want to tell Alchemy every last, painstaking detail; it was merely a question of whether or not she should -- Or, moreover, if she had any sort of right to do so. As strange as it was to think, primarily due to the fact that she owed neither Cornelia nor even Will (well, specifically not Cornelia, perhaps) anything to keep her mouth shut, oddly enough, she still felt as though she should.

After all, it didn't just happen to only me. It happened to all three of us. What if they never tell anyone about it, but then I go blabbing away to Alchemy or others? Hay Lin had distractedly thought, while gently punching in the appropriate seven digit phone number to her friend's cellphone. I mean, not as though anyone would honestly believe me so much, me being the "outsider freak" and all, but still. . . . I don't know why, but it just feels like this should be forever kept secret. . . .

And so, with a slightly conflicted heart, Hay Lin had kept silent about the bizarre, aquatic event as she began to speak to a very disconcerted, although quite relieved sounding Alchemy once she had swiftly picked up the phone. It did not feel very pleasant to have lied to her friend for the very first time within their still budding companionship, as she had instead quickly made up a vaguely believable excuse on the fly . . . nor had it been very comforting, listening in as Alchemy had apparently bought into it.

"Oh, I'm telling you, Lin! You have no idea how freaking worried I was about you all night!" she had gushed into the receiver, in between fits of nervous laughter and heavy, alleviated exhales. "I mean, it wasn't as though I could have called up your cellphone, since that creep had stolen it, and I obviously don't know Will's number, either -- Although, stupid me, I should have gotten it from her before letting her go off after you this afternoon, herself. Anyway, I'm just really glad to hear that she found you, after all, and ended up calming you down the rest of the afternoon and evening, apparently. . . .

And I'm also pretty happy to know that my folks are quite trusting and buy into pretty much anything I tell them . . . such as telling them that you and I were going to go study at the library to help take your mind off of everything that had happened with the mugging. It kinda sucked, though, to have actually had to hang around there for real, until it was safe -- And believable -- to head back home after I was unable to find you, myself. I only wish that I could have, and helped you out, as well . . . but I'm still super glad to know that you're safe, Lin, seriously. . . ."

As though Hay Lin had needed any further assistance in feeling censurable for her lie of omission, having listened to Alchemy confess her overall concern for her had made it all the more unbearable, to the point where Hay Lin had had to excuse herself right then and there, citing fatigue as the culprit (which that, at least, had not been a complete untruth, given the rigorous day she had experienced).

It certainly isn't going to be easy to face Al for the next couple of days or so without feeling conflicted, but I'm nonetheless going to try, Hay Lin had remembered reflecting upon right before she had fallen asleep that night, about half an hour before both of her parents had arrived home together and being none the wiser to the recent goings on within their daughter's life.

However, with today being a new day and the one prior to it being a a thankful thing of the past, Hay Lin was now determined to keep as upbeat an attitude as possible, as well as not allow herself to continually both mentally and emotionally beat herself up over it.

Especially not since it seems like I might have made a new friend out of the entire ordeal, she mused with a soft, although lopsided and sleepy smile as she entered her bathroom, thinking about the new, other redhead in her life, who had bravely saved both hers and Cornelia's lives not more than half a day ago. At least, I kind of hope I have, anyway. . . .

With a deep, extended yawn, the almond eyed, blossoming beauty lazily reached out to turn on the faucet of her sink in order to wash away the continued sleep from her face. Pulling up the stopper and allowing the gradually lukewarm water to run freely and fill up the basin, Hay Lin, in the meanwhile, opened up her mirror cabinet to retrieve her facial scrub cleanser that smelled distinctly of apricots.

Setting it down onto the sink, softly yawning once more, the saffron hued teenager reached up to tie her long, currently loose and quite disheveled, sable tinted locks with one of the various scrunchies she would sometimes leave lying upon the plumbing fixture, as well.

"There," she softly murmured to herself with a small, but growing grin of optimism, as she gazed back at her otherwise chaotic reflection within the mirror, feeling surprised yet relieved that she was actually able to feel so calm at all, let alone positive, and for the first time in a very long while since having returned back to Heatherfield.

Maybe it's the start of something new, Hay Lin idly thought with another smile, feeling as though the moment that she began to scrub at her face and wash away her sleepiness, so too would she be symbolically washing away all of her past troubles and concerns up until that moment. . . .

Turning off the faucet and bending over the sink, Hay Lin closed her eyes as she blindly reached forward with cupped hands, into the comfortable temperature of the clear liquid, before bringing them up to moisten her visage.

After only beginning to enjoy the welcoming, familiar sensation of water droplets tickling at and caressing the many small hairs upon her face for a few moments, Hay Lin curiously also began to feel yet another stimulus she was not at all acquainted with.

"What. . . .?" she began, straightening her posture and slowly opening her eyes to see them reflecting blatant befuddlement within the mirror before her. An odd sort of tickling began to creep over her, originating within the very pit of her stomach, before completely canvasing itself across her entire body within a strangely comfortable warmth.

And then, without warning, Hay Lin's deep brown eyes widened in profound perplexity, as both they and her traditionally black hair inexplicably transitioned into a brilliant, spectral hue of alice blue. She opened her mouth to let out a scream; however, no sound would emerge, as she helplessly watched her overall form become easily engulfed within a pillar of water, that had eerily manifested itself, somehow, out of thin air.

Hay Lin immediately began to close her previously agape mouth in an automatic response, terribly dumbfounded as to what was currently transpiring, in addition to why her body suddenly felt as loose as a bowl full of Jell-O. . . .

In an instant, it was all over, the mysterious torrent of water having vanished without a trace and leaving an overwhelmingly befuddled, once more corporeal feeling girl within its wake.

"W-What . . . what was that?? What's happened to my hair and fa -- W-Whoa!!" Hay Lin, having recovered from the initial shock long enough to find her voice once again, began to speak to herself in confusion and still peering intensely at her newfound appearance and facial markings . . . when she suddenly found herself unavoidably losing her balance and toppled over onto the cool bathroom floor with a vaguely loud thud.

"Oww. . . ." she moaned within instant, although thankfully only slight pain, as she now lay upon the floor on her side, blindly reaching down to rub at her lightly throbbing bottom . . . and let out a sharp cry of both fear and revulsion at what she felt.

Instead of caressing the inviting softness of her purple colored, cotton-made pajama bottoms, Hay Lin's fingertips were intimidatingly met with a congealed and smooth, yet simultaneously rippled surface. Slowly looking down and bracing herself, as she was quite fearful at what she might unfathomably find either growing or having attached itself to her legs (which she curiously could no longer feel, making her all the more afraid that she might somehow now be paralyzed), the stunned artist's soft colored eyes immediately widened in utter surprise at what they saw.

There, in place of pajama covered legs, was a rather large, rather long tail, rich within its silvery color and glinting within the lights of her bathroom. . . .

Hay Lin felt herself instantly beginning to hyperventilate a bit at the sight, while managing to awkwardly roll flat onto her back, resting her head against the bathtub behind her.

What was going on?? Was this honestly for real, or was it perhaps merely an unwanted dream of sorts? Maybe this was just a delayed reaction to the stress of everything that had happened to her yesterday, and the shock was just finally catching up to her.

Yes, that was exactly right.

It had to be.

Right now, Hay Lin's mind was willing to believe anything, anything that could help calm her jittery nerves and grant her mind renewed sanity over the current situation . . . specifically the fact that she now somehow currently resembled . . . that she almost looked like. . . .

"A . . . a mermaid," she shakily whispered to herself, her statement sounding like a question more than anything else, and rightfully so, as she honestly hadn't the foggiest idea how nor why this could be possible.

Being the creative individual that she was, Hay Lin was used to drawing various mythological creatures throughout the years, mermaids included. However, as elegant and enchanting as they had always seemed to her, never for a moment had she ever believed them to be real, once existing within the very same world she occupied.

And yet, suddenly, there she was, lying helplessly upon the bathroom floor and looking like a fisherman's dream, with her very powerful looking tail laid out before her, and her bare chest. . . .

Wait a minute! Bare chest??

Hay Lin had been too preoccupied, and understandably so, with her new "legs" for that entire time, that she hadn't yet realized that the rest of her clothing had vanished, as well. That is, not until the cool breeze from her open bathroom window from behind her gently caressed the back of her neck, before maneuvering to settle upon her unprotected chest.

Well, that was not entirely true, as the young teenager had peered down to take further notice, seeing that the same scales that comprised the entire span of her glorious tail, also discreetly concealed both of her breasts, in addition to a few stray ones that trailed along the sides of her ribcage.

"Ohhh, wow . . . this is just . . . too weird," Hay Lin muttered to herself with flushed cheeks of embarrassment, her breathing, for the most part, recovered, although her insides still churned with discomfort. She slowly raised a hand to brush away a few strands of her now alice blue colored hair, that trickled all the way down to the middle part of her tail (ostensibly where her shins would be, Hay Lin surmised; that is, if she still had any) as it became free flowing once more.

This was all way too surreal.

She had to do something, anything. Freely moving about was no longer the easy task it had always been when she still had her legs -- Was still human, so getting out of the bathroom was out. But she couldn't very well lie there, propped up against her bathtub forever, either.

So long as Hay Lin remained calm . . . well, as calm as the situation allowed, anyhow, she would be able to figure out a way to get help.

Or, so she hoped, at least.

As beneficial and welcoming as their assistance would have been right about now, the newly transformed mermaid was profoundly relieved that both of her parents were always already at work by this time. The last thing she needed was for them to be just as frazzled and afraid as she was -- Perhaps, even of her, while she'd most likely fail miserably in trying to explain to them how it had happened in the first place.

No. No, having a parental unit present, nor calling them over the telephone (if she could have even reached it, anyway) was definitely out of the question.

But . . . maybe Alchemy. . . . Hay Lin thought a moment of the newfound idea, before allowing it to trail off and immediately dismissed it. Involving her one, and so far only friend within such a disaster as this would be just as catastrophic if she did bring her parents into it.

Although close, there would be no conceivable way that the russet haired girl could or would ever understand the artist's baffling metamorphosis, nor accept it, of that she was certain.

"How could she, when even I, myself, really don't??" Hay Lin heaved a frustrated sigh, feeling herself becoming increasingly hopeless, as she swiftly began to run out of options. She squeezed her eyes shut tight, gently thumping her light colored head against the back of the porcelain bathtub repeatedly. ". . . . What do I do, now??"

The only response offered to her just then, was the soft, whispered howl of the cloudy and brisk, early morning wind outside, as another gentle gust helped itself into the bathroom once more and again swirled itself around Hay Lin's entire body.

She felt herself shiver slightly at the sensation, reaching up to wrap her arms around herself in added warmth . . . before it suddenly began to spread throughout the rest of her body, as the same kinetic vibrations from earlier began to overtake her yet again.

Hay Lin, at once, opened her eyes, and gasped in affect at the sight of her scale covered body becoming entirely consumed within a powerful illumination of alice blue, much like her hair and eyes . . . and within mere seconds, the light was gone within a flash of fading sparkles.

However, in its place, and much to her utter surprise, were Hay Lin's purple colored pajamas, and, better still, her legs.

"Oh, my gosh!" she cried out in disbelief, hesitating a moment, before then immediately bouncing to her returned feet and rushing to her cabinet mirror. As she had been hoping for, both her natural eye and hair color had been restored . . . even the tiny scrunchy that had been holding her apparently length renewed locks at bay from her once again normal visage.

Hay Lin let out a relieved squeal, furiously patting both at her face and hair at the same time, before gazing appreciatively down at her legs once more, wiggling her bare toes for emphasis.

"Thank you, Lord!" was all she could manage, before giggling uncontrollably, almost within delirium, as she swiftly rushed out of the bathroom to change into her school clothes. She didn't even bother to brush her teeth or wash up, she was too emotional right then.

Although Hay Lin was still unsure of what had just occurred, not even particularly certain that it really had at all, she was at least sure that she did not wish to stick around the vicinity to tempt fate.

And none of that, for the moment, really mattered.

Because, the only thing left upon her mind, and strangely so, was the strong compelling to hurry on over to school, in order to locate and then divulge her latest adventure to a certain, newly trustworthy redhead. . . .

-- End of Chapter Seven

(A.N. THANK YOU, LORD, INDEED!! I have DONE it!! Mwa ha haaaa... Sorry, just so VERY happy this chapter's FINISHED, I've finished being LAZY and finally buckled down to edit all seventeen blasted pages, AND that I never, ever, EVER have to super super describe both the girls' tails or transformations like that again! SALVATION!! LoL

So, there it is! I'm not SUPER happy with it, but I'm not terribly disappointed, either, after my slight revisions. Forgive me if some parts seemed more descriptive or in depth than others, because I didn't want to become TOO redundant. I mean, seriously. How many times, in one chapter, CAN you describe the same damned transformation to three different chicks, without it becoming too old, or running out of good, not yet used words?? LoL But I'd done it, damn it. Woo! LoL

Now, before you get confuzzled, though I had placed each scene within that specific order on purpose, with Will's being the most descriptive and longest on purpose – And thus, first up – each occurrence was happening at different times for them. Will's had happened first, purely because she always wakes up the earliest each day due to her swimming before class; Hay Lin's had happened a little while after that; and then, lastly, Cornelia's, since she had woken up mighty late for class. And so, think of Will and Hay Lin having already made it to school and in class by the time Cornelia's still at home, freaking out of her "icky-sticky" tail. LoL

I'd also tried to set different sort of emotional tones for each girl, despite the same happening, which I hope most of you could easily notice/understand. Will's being the natural disbelief and even a bit of anger/resentment; Hay Lin's being slight denial and worry; and Cornelia's having been the most fearful/freaked out – And most humorous, I'd also purposefully done, for your enjoyment.

Oh, and yes, I WAS referring to Princess Ariel of "The Little Mermaid" when Taranee was teasing Will about looking like her now. LoL Mainly because she/that's my ultimate fave Disney character/movie, as well. HeHe

So...yep! Chapter seven, everybody! LoL Remember to check out the links to each girl's mermaid look in my profile, if you'd like! Lata, 'gatas – I'm STARVING! LoL)