Disclaimer: There's so much here that I don't own that it's not even funny. Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer, Disney and Hans Christian Anderson own the concept of The Little Mermaid, and the title of this fic was 'inspired by' (read as: 'stolen from') a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem by the same name. (God, I love that man.)
Author's Note: Originally this was a storyline I was going to write up for the "Strawberry Panic" fandom, using the characters Negisa as Ariel and Shizuma as Ursela. At some point in the future I'd still like to write this story as a yuri (or, for you readers who have no idea what that Japanese slang means, a lesbian romance); however, I was stupid enough to play the Jonas Brothers' version of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" tonight, which always makes me think of Edward and Bella for some reason that even I don't fully comprehend. Which brings me to where I am right now.
To be completely frank, I don't expect a lot of people to enjoy this story: it will be AU, it will be dark, Edward will be a little evil. But personally, I like my heros with a hint of malevolence in them… and besides, this is what fanfiction is for, right? In any case, I hope this heaping helping of insanity can find a place to rest in some readers' hearts.
I hope you all enjoy! (…or, if you don't, you're kind enough not to flame me.)
There was only darkness.
And that, more than anything else, was what frightened the small creature. Though her watery homeland had always been gloomier than the world above, never before had she ventured so deep into the abyss: further than even the currents dared. She supposed that, even if she'd been able to see properly, there wouldn't have been much on the barren sand floor. No pretty shells, no coral reefs… She had been surprised—and a bit nervous—to notice the skeletal remains of an eroded wooden ship hovering in the inky haze to her right, illuminated by the wandering glow of a lantern-head fish. Torn between her disgust for the twisted, slack-jawed animal and her mounting desire for light, she briefly considered calling the thing over… But she knew that even the lantern-head's ethereal radiance was not enough to puncture the blackness of the cavern before her.
H—hello…? she called softly, cursing the waver in her soft voice. There was no answer; perhaps she hadn't been heard. Hello? she whispered a second time, fingers clasped to her chest. She had been able to keep the tremble from reverberating through her speech, but it had migrated to her hands instead.
Still no response. The gaping triangular hole in the bedrock remained dead-silent and murky… as if it were a slice of the mortal's night sky.
Sea witch…? She inched closer to the cave; her words now rung with an echo, bouncing off of the unseen walls. Are you there? I've come to… to make a dea— ahh!
It happened in half of a millisecond. Before she could move, before she could blink—before the words had even completely left her mouth— something had grabbed her, yanked her... pulled her forward as if by an invisible force.
"Say it again," a hidden speaker demanded in a voice both silken and bursting with glee. A shudder shot down her spine; the same thing seemed to happen to the shadow. And as the voice tightened in the shade's throat, so did the force around her waist— only it wasn't a force at all. As her eyes continued to adjust, as she squinted towards her concealed company, she noticed the faint outline of something connecting her middle to the silhouette in the mouth of the cave.
Her stomach dropped as understanding struck her.
It was a tentacle. Ebony, slick, and as thick as her torso.
Urgently, she floundered to collect her thoughts, to swallow away her fear. But before she could accomplish anything of consequence, a second fleshy coil joined the first; this time, her arms were bounded as if by rope.
"Say it again," the voice hissed, good humor gone. A milky white hand, fingers long and splayed, crept from the gloom to clutch the coarse corner of the cave—as if the body it belonged to were preparing to strike.
The words flew from her mouth in a rush.
I've come to make a deal with you! she choked, tears of terror welling in her wide eyes. Though her body was completely immobilized, she could feel herself quivering all the same. I need your help!
A deep chuckle; the oily hold loosened. Instead of a death-grip, it became more of a… caress.
"Ah… a poor lost soul looking for assistance." The speaker seemed entertained again; there was the sound of a deep, rejuvenating breath. "Ahhh… already I feel more complete— it has been far too long… But oh, where are my manners? Come in, my dear."
Slowly, pointedly, the tentacles began to unwind, their suctioned hold dragging her closer and closer to the hole that served as an entrance. She was helpless to resist, unable to flee… Once the last cup had gently pulled itself from her skin and scales, she was already completely immersed in the midnight of the undersea cavern.
"Hurry now, pet," the voice purred from somewhere ahead. "There's no need to be afraid."
There was no where to go but forward.
It defied logic.
There was no way a room this far from the shore, this deep in a cave, this late at night could be so… luminous. And yet, the large, round cavern shone the same pale-white as the human world did in the early dawn; the ghostly glow caught off the numerous bottles and containers of multi-colored sea glass that lined the cracked stone walls. The reflection and refraction of light made both the floor and ceiling shimmer with waves of iridescent color.
But that wasn't all— the improbability continued. Boulders and giant clam shells had been moved and positioned in what seemed to be an imitation of human furniture. There was a table in the center of the circle, upon which a cauldron spewing opalescent inks had been placed; two chairs, facing each other from across the room, had been fashioned as well. She had never seen anything like it…at least, not under water.
But all of that seemed trivial and inconsequential when compared to the most incredible thing in the vicinity: him.
Yes. He was, unquestionably, the most astonishing of all.
As she had absorbed every detail of the impossible room, he had chosen to absorb her, lounging in the seat farthest from the entry with a faint smile upon his face. He propped his chin lightly on the fingers of his left hand, draping his right arm across the back of the chair; when her gaze reached his body, the half-grin became a delicious leer.
He was beautiful. And he seemed to know it, too: the slight curl of his copper hair, the marble-white hue of his skin, the toned perfection of his torso… the delicate creep of what looked to be midnight-colored silk up his hipbones; in the opposite direction, the blossoming flair of a half-dozen tentacles, each over 2 yards in length.
She could feel her cheeks darken in color as the butterflies in her stomach were killed in a rush of heat.
A deep-throated chuckle.
"Surprised?" he asked lightly, thick lashes half-lidded in lazy amusement. She must have looked mildly dazed by this inquiry, for he soon added: "I am referring to you having discovered my identity, of course. Most hear the title 'sea witch' and assume I am… of the gentler sex."
His green eyes—the same dark emerald as the seaweed binding her chest— glittered with unheard laughter. "I can assure you," he murmured in a low breath, standing with a roll of his hips, "that nothing about me is gentle."
The truth of the words sent a bolt of electricity directly to her core.
"Now then, to business," the sea witch said calmly, turning to face his collection of jars and bottles. But even as he turned away, a tentacle shot forward, curling possessively around the girl's scaled hips and sneaking upward, keeping her rooted to the spot. "What is it that I can do for you, my love? Poison? Curse? Enchantment? Perhaps a spell?"
He paused when he felt an answering shiver tear up and down her lithe body. "Ooo. A spell indeed. More specifically, dear heart?"
I... Hesitating, she cast a glance to her left and right; his other tentacles seemed ready and waiting to snare her, as well. She gulped audibly. Even if she wanted to change her mind at this point… but she did not, so that was irrelevant. I want... I want to be a human.
Hand already on a thin-necked bottle constructed of blue sea glass, the man paused. Twisting his head to face her, he shot his client an incredulous glance. "Good God, why?" he nearly gagged, the glass in his grasp suddenly spider-webbed. But when he noticed the determination radiating from her pretty face, the disgust melted into amusement. "Ah, I see. You're in love, aren't you? Yes, yes, look at you blush. Well, now. That is a different spell altogether…"
Musingly, his perfect face splitting in a near-maniacal smile, the sea witch began ripping jar after jar from his craggy-rock shelves, catching them with his free appendages. She watched the strange containers with curious eyes, trying to decipher what lay beyond the clouded glass…
But before she could make out even one ingredient, her body had been jerked forward by the tip of one dark tentacle, her chin tilted by another, her head locked in place by a third… as a single white finger traced the planes of her face with a lingering touch.
"Of course, there is one more small matter before we begin, lovely." Those vivid green eyes blazed with delight; she felt more tangled in their sea-weed depths than she did in his web of six slippery limbs. "My fee."
The declaration filled her with crushing dread. …fee?
"Mmm," he purred his assent, malleable mouth morphing into a feral, close-lipped grin. "As always, there are terms and conditions and costs to be dealt with. Trite things, but we must discuss them first, you understand. Get them straightened and out of our way. Otherwise our whole relationship will be spoiled by arguments over such silly little details as how long I'll own your brain, and when you can expect your arms back…" He sighed airily, then graced her with a smile too stunning to be real. It took her breath away…
But it was not enough to distract her from his words. Though her loins were on fire, her heart felt like ice. What kind of fees? she asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.
His dark eyes crinkled warmly at the corners, but their jade-green depths had turned to irritated gemstone. "Never mind the fees, my dear. Think of what you'll gain! For three full days, you will be human… and if you can earn the kiss of the one you love—of the one who loves you back—fully and truly, you shall remain a human until your dying breath."
Human… She murmured desirously, as if in a trance. But her dark brown stare cleared after a moment, and her expression filled with panic after another. But what will it cost me?
A chortle; the sea witch seemed impressed by her tenacity. "Nothing of great consequence, sweet one. Merely—" A soft brush of fingertips against her neck, enough pressure applied to make her feel the hollowness of her own throat— "your voice."
My—? Face tense with trepidation, she began quivering once more. It was not the reaction the sea with had desired. Growling in frustration, he raked his hands through his hair, his tentacles snapping like a whip; she was thrown into the distant chair with such force that she could feel bruises form.
"Don't be a fool!" the sea witch roared, trapping her with his arms as she cowered in the seat, pulling her fin to her chin. All around her, his tentacles pulsed with vehemence. "What good does your voice do you now, anyway? You do not speak as humans do— as you are, he would not understand you if you tried to talk on land! And even if you had your voice as a human, you wouldn't get to use it—men on land don't like to hear women chatter. You're better off without one! So what are you complaining for?! I am essentially giving you this spell for free, and this is how you thank me?! If you want to be human, you will give me your voice!"
In the wake of his snarls, she nodded exuberantly— anything to keep him from destroying her on the spot. Her speedy acceptance was just what the sea witch wanted to see: his god-like face melted into another charmed smile as he released a pleased sigh.
"Most excellent. You won't be disappointed, my dear." The hands that had been clenched on either side of her head loosened; two idle fingers stroked her cheek in a tender, soothing rhythm, as if trying to calm her nerves.
It simply made the tremors worse.
"Now, in addition to my meager fee, I'm afraid I do have to inform you of one tiny little snag in the potential tapestry of your new self-portrait." He grinned lazily, unconcerned, as he continued fondling her face. She listened intently to each word… but it grew increasingly harder to concentrate as his petting drifted downward…
"This spell requires quite a bit of magic to perform: each day you try to be something new, you must sacrifice something old. You cannot be two separate creatures; you cannot hold onto your life in the sea if you wish to walk on land. Ergo, your first day as a human will cost you your Past. The second, your Present. The third, your Future. In essence," he summarized, relished pleasure in his velvet voice as he stared into her dumbstruck eyes, "come day three, I'll own your soul. And you will not get it back."
For a moment, her heart stopped.
"Yes, precious," he whispered, so close to her that his gaze seemed black, rather than emerald. "You will belong to me for all of time."
All of time.
Raw panic welled within her, thrashing like a creature drowning— but almost immediately, she calmed. In the back of her mind, she could hear two low voices giggling…
The sea witch's grin widened a few teeth on either side; he so loved to see the fight leave their eyes. "Do we have a deal, child?" he breathed. Behind him, each tentacle stood poised over the churning caldron, quaking with anticipation.
She looked up at him, eyes ringed and weary with doubt… but she had no choice in the matter anymore.
An ear-shattering crack; an explosion of colors and smoke. The sea witch laughed with malicious satisfaction, his gaze never leaving hers. Instantaneously, a burning sensation—an impossibly raw, deep, searing, excruciating burning sensation, one that had her in near-convulsions, clawing at her neck—began pulsing in the very center of her throat, seeping its way slowly downward.
Wha—?! she choked, eyes swimming with milky tears of pain. What is…?
"My fee," the sea witch informed lazily, watching her writhe in his ebony grip as mirth danced behind his eyes. "A reminder that it needs to be paid in full before your transformation can truly begin."
Then hurry up and—ah—!
A low, husky chuckle rumbled through the lissom body; ice-cold hands—spindle-thin and delicate— moved to cup the flailing girl's chin. Out of apprehension, she stilled: he had been close before, but this… !
"There's only one way to extract a voice, Bella," he purred, staring amusedly down his nose at the mermaid in his embrace. Whatever space had remained between her mouth and his vanished in an instant.
Bella's world turned black.