"I can't believe you ratted her out like that!" Doug turned on Emily as soon as they got out of earshot of Andrea.
"It wasn't my fault!" Emily pleaded, "I didn't mean to. It was an accident. You know how persuasive the king can be."
Doug rolled his eyes. "Because of you, Andy is heartbroken and probably never going to come back home again."
Emily shrunk down in her shell and whimpered, "I'm sorry. I swear I didn't mean to."
"Hmph," Doug growled and didn't speak another word.
They sat in silence for a while, Doug fuming and Emily fretting. Andrea's form passed over them, and both looked up in surprise.
"Andy? Where are you going?" Emily asked cautiously.
"To see the sea witch," Andrea huffed and flipped her tail powerfully.
"Jacqueline? She's a monster!" Emily cried and tried to stop her by grabbing her tail.
"Why don't you go tell my father? You're good at that," Andrea snapped and flicked the small creature off of her.
"Ugh," Emily groaned. "Come on." She waved her claw to Doug and angrily swam after the enraged brunette.
Doug's sympathetic nerves kicked in, and his breathing accelerated as he drew closer and closer to Jacqueline's cavern. The air grew darker and chillier, and when he reached the entrance with all of the souls, he almost peed. Whimpering, he drew closer to Emily and bravely swallowed. His friend needed him.
Andrea's trepidation grew larger as she swam through the opening, and she gasped when a polyp from the garden of polyps reached up and snatched her wrist.
"Come in my child," a smooth, slightly accented voice floated out from the cavern.
Andrea hesitantly moved forward and gasped when she saw a woman with eight legs.
"A Cecaelia," she breathed quietly.
Jacqueline was actually really pretty once Andrea got past the 8 black tentacles that all seemed to have a mind of their own. The sea witch's short black hair had a silver streak in it, and her dark eyes were intriguing in a hypnotic sort of way. She smiled at Andrea's awestruck face and then plopped down on her seat. Jacqueline puckered up her lips and applied a red coral shade.
"So, you have a thing for this," she smacked her lips, "queen. I can't blame you angelface. She's quite a catch!"
"Um yes she is," Andrea stammered, not knowing what to say.
"Well the only way to get what you want, is to become a human yourself," she purred and stared at Andrea's frightened brown eyes through the mirror.
"You-you can do that?" Andrea gasped.
"That's my job," Jacqueline grinned. "To help poor unfortunate souls, like yourself."
One of her tentacles reached out and wrapped itself firmly around Andrea's waist and pulled her along to a black cauldron. She yanked her cabinet open and began throwing various magical items into the black pot, all the while keeping a firm hold on the young princess. The kettle started boiling and Jacqueline's eyes gleamed in the colors being produced by the magical potions.
She waved her hand over the steam and an image of Andrea appeared as a mermaid before turning in a human with two legs. Andrea's eyes grew wide, and a small smile stretched across her face. "Now, here's the deal. I will make you a potion that will turn you into a human for three days. Got that? Three days," she waved her hand again, and three suns appeared. "Before the sun sets on the third day, you've got to get Miranda to kiss you. That is, she's got to kiss you. And it can't be any kiss- it must be a kiss of true love. If she does kiss you before the sun sets on the third day, you'll remain human, permanently, but-if she doesn't, you turn back into a mermaid, and-you belong to me."
"Andy no! Don't take the deal!" Emily yelled before being silenced by Irv.
Andrea looked at her before Jacqueline roughly turned her head back towards herself. Her dark eyes bored into Andrea's gentle brown pools and she said in her French accent, "Have we got a deal?"
"But, I'll never see my father or my family again," Andrea looked down and hugged herself.
"Life's full of tough choices isn't it," Jacqueline pouted. "And one more thing. We haven't discussed the matter of payment yet. I want your voice."
"But without my voice..." Andrea's hands came up to clutch her throat.
"You'll have your looks! Your pretty face! And don't underestimate the importance of body language!" Jacqueline's evil smile became wider and she snapped her fingers. A gold piece of parchment appeared, and a skeleton pen popped up beside it. "Sign."
Andrea took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She grasped the pen firmly in her hand, feeling all of the hard ridges scrape against her soft flesh, and signed quickly. Jacqueline's eyes were wild and her hair flew up by a sudden wind.
"Sing," her angry and commanding voice echoed.
Andrea opened her mouth and began vocalizing. Jacqueline's magical green hands curled into claws and without warning, she plunged them into Andrea's throat. "Keep singing!" she roared. Andrea did, and she felt tears in her eyes as she literally felt her voice sliding up her throat. It hurt, but she reminded herself that she would soon be with her Queen. As soon as her singing voice was locked up in Jacqueline's shell, the sea witch laughed maniacally and immediately, Andrea's body seized up and there was a piercing pain as her tail split into two. She opened her mouth in a silent cry, and felt a burning sensation in her lungs. She couldn't breathe, and she couldn't swim. Doug and Emily wriggled free of Irv's and Stephen's grasps, and rushed to help their friend. Jacqueline's evil, maniac laugh followed Andrea out of her lair.
Miranda hummed the tune that the woman who saved her was singing under her breath as she walked across the beach.
"Still can't get over of her?" Nigel said sadly, shuffling along besides Miranda.
"I can't get her voice out of my head," Miranda sighed. "I've looked everywhere Nigel. Where could she be?"
Doug and Emily rested in the shallow water, both breathing heavily. They had succeeded in pulling Andrea to shore, but now their energy was gone. Andrea was leaning against a rock with her eyes closed and panting shallowly. She blew a breath of air out and then opened her eyes, immediately seeing her newly formed legs. She smiled hugely and crossed them. They were so long!
"Andy!" Lily called and spiraled down to land on one of Andrea's two new legs.
Andrea grinned at her and then bounced her leg, making Lily bounce up and down.
"Something's different about you girl," Lily cocked her head. "Have you been using the dinglehopper?"
Andrea shook her head no.
"Did you dye your hair?"
The brunette scrunched up her nose and shook her head even more enthusiastically.
"She's got legs you idiot!" Emily growled and Lily shot up like a bullet. "She traded her voice for her legs from the sea witch."
"I knew that," Lily tried to say cooly.
"Andy's been turned into a human," Doug stared sadly at the ground. " She's gotta make the Queen fall in love with her, and she's gotta kiss her."
Andrea shakily tried to stand up before falling again. She was just like a newborn horse...wobbling while trying to take her first steps. Biting her lip, she cautiously tried to stand up again, this time succeeding.
"Oh just look at her," Emily sniffed and waved her claw uselessly. "A mermaid on human legs. I simply don't know what to do. What would her father say. Maybe we can beg the sea witch to give you back your voice and your-"
Andrea quickly scooped her up and looked at her with large pleading eyes. She shook her head back and forth and Emily sighed, feeling herself melt from the gaze.
"Fine. I'll help you find the girl," Emily blushed when Andrea's plump lips pressed against her cheek and muttered under her breath, "I'm turning into such a softie."
"Ok. First things first," Lily said, padding over to some spare burlap cloths. "In order to be a human, the first thing you need to do is to dress like a human."
Three minutes later, and Andrea was dressed in a strapless, burgundy colored dress made out of a sackcloth. She playfully modeled, pushing her long thick hair up with her hands and twirled around. A barking startled her, and the same dog from the boat bounded up to her. If she had a voice, she would have shrieked, but since she didn't, she did the next best thing and scurried up a rock. Panicking, Andrea tried to gently push the snuffling creature away until a melodious voice washed over her.
Andrea looked up and gasped silently. There she was. A white blouse was tucked fashionably in long black pants, and the woman herself looked gorgeous. Patricia bounded away and Miranda scratched her behind the ears. Looking up, she froze when she saw the beautiful brunette a few feet away. Bashfully, Andrea tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear and grinned shyly at Miranda. Crystal blue eyes shone with familiarness and she carefully walked closer, not wanting to startle the young woman.
"Hello, have we met?" Miranda asked her, losing herself in the warm gaze.
Andrea enthusiastically nodded her head yes, and Miranda's face lit up. "You are the woman who saved me. What's your name?"
Andrea opened her mouth, forgetting that she didn't have her voice, and mouthed 'Andrea'. Nothing came out and her face fell.
"Can you not speak?" Miranda's eyes shone with compassion, a foreign feeling she had not experienced in a long time.
Andrea sadly shook her head, and Miranda's heart ached at the sight. Sadly though, she knew that Andrea wasn't the woman who rescued her. "You can't be the one who I thought."
Frustrated, Andrea tried to express through hand gestures that she got her voice taken away by a monstrous sea witch, but it was very difficult to do. She ended up falling off the rock and into Miranda's arms. The Queen firmly but gently wrapped her arms around Andrea's back and held her safely. Andrea could barely breathe, being wrapped up in the love of her life's warm embrace. She peered up at Miranda under lowered lashes and placed her hands between the older woman's breasts, and rested them on her sternum. Miranda, for her part, was floored. She didn't know what it was, but something about this young woman was so familiar. The girl fit perfectly in her arms, and the way she looked at her...good lord, Miranda wanted to faint. Yet, the woman was sitting on a rock all by herself dressed in nothing but old rags. Something drastic must have happened to her.
"Let's go back to my castle," Miranda said gently and resisted the urge to run her fingers through the waist-length chocolate brown hair. "I'll help you there."
Andrea nodded and one of Miranda's arms slipped around her waist, helping her teeter down the beach. Emily, Doug, and Lily watched her go with their wings and claws and fins crossed.