Rather than write one bad seven-chapter fanfic for Christmas, I decided to write one good oneshot.
This will be based on the original story, and I've taken the liberty of having the movie be the catalyst for this. If you're wondering, I definitely do not own the historical figures in this, or their stories. If I did, I'd be a time traveler, and I assure you that if I could time travel I'd use it for better purposes than turning Danish/Norwegian monarchs and writers into my personal slaves.
It was the 175th year. Only a little over half of her original sentence. The little former mermaid had been a daughter of the air for that long.
She had roamed the earth for a very long time. While she was yearning for an immortal soul, and doing good deeds, she'd watched and seen much. She remembered the curiosity that had risen her from the depths, compelled her to trade her tail for legs, and try to win the heart of the prince. Her elders had called her curiosity a curse that had ended her life, the daughters of the air called it a blessing that had given her the path to earn an immortal soul. The little mermaid called it curiosity.
Curiosity, which led men to venture across the sea. Curiosity, which had lead them to preform horrible experiments. Curiosity, which had lead one mortal man to remember the mute girl at court, and the girl herself to venture in his home and, for her first good deed, give him her story and encourage him to write his own fairy tales.
Curiosity which had sustained and enlivened the honorary daughter of the air as she witnessed the change of mankind. She'd heard her own story, told in so many versions that even she began to tire of it. She'd seen her statue vandalized. She'd even been to an opera.
This was a new one, a movie. As time passed, she had quit visiting these things. There was so much good to be done in the world, she had no time to see a movie, even if she was interested. But God had given her the mercy of an immortal soul, and He worked in mysterious ways.
It started out simply. She'd just been escorting a young boy through a rough part of town. Being more spirit than body did have its advantages, and she was able to see the far away threats and evade them. But, it had turned out that the reason he'd been there had been because his sister had wanted to see a low cost showing of The Little Mermaid.
She wondered whether she should shed tears over this, but she supposed he had not been a bad child, just a foolish one. But foolish or not, she would not let anything befall him or his sister. Posing as the children's legal guardian, she sat inside the theater.
She fully intended to watch out for threats and threats only. However, as time went on, the movie became an irresistible target.
She watched the sea-witch dance around the cauldron, and felt for the first time that she'd been cheated. She didn't have to take my voice. She didn't have to add all that pain. She didn't have to make me kill the prince. She knew how young and innocent I was and exploited me. Bitterness arose, bringing tears to her eyes. She blinked back hard. No, I can't cry. I don't want more months because of something that happened so long ago.
She tried to tear away at that moment, but then saw herself meeting the prince. It's so disorientating. He even looks similar. I know that I probably looked like that. I know how much I loved him. No tears this time. They'd taken so many months from her that it was almost like her eyes couldn't bear to take any more.
She would have pulled away right now, but she gave up. She wanted to see how this ended.
She saw the sea-witch emerge from the sea in the form of a woman and use the stolen voice to enchant the prince. Even though the little mermaid knew that this could not have happened, fresh anger welled up, and for a moment she was convinced that her sea-witch had done just this. It wasn't true, that wasn't her voice.
She watched her screen self shed a tear as the ship went away. Unbidden, a single tear went down her own cheek. Another month, what did it matter?
The boy next to her squeezed and said. "It's okay. It's just a movie."
Foolish but pure, she felt another one of her years melt away. She'd lost and gained so many years she hardly noticed them anymore, didn't know how close she was to the end.
This was when the plot changed. Rather than the sun setting and the girl's heart breaking, she managed to reclaim her voice and the prince, only to be too late and regain her tail. Then the sea-witch took her down to her cavern, where her father exchanged her life for his, and gave the villainess all the power needed. The prince killed her, and they lived happily ever after.
All through it, the little mermaid kept watching. Ariel had a happy ending. In some twisted avatar, she had the ending she wanted. She knew that she would still gain an immortal soul, but she wanted that happy ending. She wouldn't cry, that would confuse the children.
She lead them back home, stopping a few blocks away in a safe neighborhood. She kissed each on the cheek, reminded them not to tell their parents that a woman had come home with them, or there would be needless fear. The world had gotten safer, but so much more frightened what would have been dishonesty was now a favor.
The former mermaid walked away, seeking out a new good deed. Soon, she discovered she could not focus.
Why had she been denied that ending? Why couldn't it be hers? She did not doubt her generous Patron, but the prince who had not been as patient as Prince Eric, who had been fool enough to be lured by a new bride. She'd been right for him, and she'd given up her life for him, but that raven-haired princess would be his bride. What had she paid that the Little Mermaid hadn't? She'd been a spoiled princess, she wouldn't have dared cut out her own tongue for her love. She'd have run back to her own homestead if she'd been forced to step on knives.
There was no way to close this hole in her heart, no way to hide any longer. The movie had told her what she'd always known, forced her to face what she'd put aside. She couldn't leave it behind.
She lifted off and flew away, as all daughters of the air did. She knew the location by heart, even after so long. She slipped under the sea, the water feeling like air. She descended into the depths, and found it exactly as she had left.
All mermaids lived three hundred years, so she was unsurprised to see her sisters still there. Their hair was still cut short, but they seemed much as they had been. That was good. 175 years was far too long to mourn. Only the elderly grandmother who had first told her of immortal souls was missing, dissipated on the foam of the sea like all before her. All who had not gained an immortal soul.
She wandered through the splendor of the palace, remembering all that had once been hers. It was worth it. She only had to imagine her mermaid self's horror at being slowly turned into sea foam to convince herself to reject it all.
Gladdened at the sight of her sisters, still happy after all that had transpired, it was time to move on to the next stage of her past life.
She walked into the den of the old sea-witch. The sea-witch, unlike her mermaid kin, sensed her through something or other. Once she turned around, she retreated behind her cauldron in fear.
"You? But you died." The old hag shuddered. "You died and..."
"No, I did not." The little mermaid said, feeling new strength flow into her at the realization that this sorceress who had once held her fate in the balance now feared her. "I went on to a new plane of existence. I see you still rot in your shack." She laid a hand on the table, the other on her hip, mimicking some actress of the past who she'd once brought in out of the rain.
The sea-witch cowered. "Please, mistress. I did not mean to let you get killed. I gave you a way out, remember?"
"I have no desire to sully my hands with petty revenge." She answered curtly. "And even if I did, I would not. You did me a good deed, even if you did not mean to." She walked out of the witch's hut, head held high. This part of her life was neatly folded.
This last part would be the worst.
She left the ocean and journeyed into Copenhagen. It had changed so much since the last time she'd been here. But one thing hadn't changed. She could still find that tomb of her beloved.
They gave his name, Christian VIII of Denmark. She'd seen that the raven-haired girl he'd married leave him after a secret affair. Although it had been long since she'd known about it, she still felt the fierce fire of betrayal. Was this who you chose over me? No, she'd come for closure, not to lick old wounds.
She touched the tomb and whispered to it. "I'm glad you found peace with your new wife. Truly I am. I know how you feel, and I hope to see you again."
She left the cathedral and flew through the air. She felt finished for the first time, and continued onward with a new purpose.
A man in the London underground struggled with his bags. A 16 year old redhead took a few from him.
"Is there anything else I can do for you?"