Now we’re getting to my favorite part of this story, and the main reason why I really want to write this: my takes on different fairy tales.
Chapter 10 continued
She wasn’t a princess, as everyone likes to believe, but he was most definitely a prince, one destined to take the throne and ensure a strong royal line. Their meeting was inevitable, their ending a tragedy, though perhaps not to us.
The mermaid had no name, or not one that was ever offered to him. She was First Handmaiden to the princess, whose hand had long been bound to the prince. She had no identity save the one the princess chose to give her. The princess was cold-hearted. She despised her handmaiden’s beauty and soulful voice. The handmaiden was forbidden to sing, forbidden to speak unless ordered to. Without her voice, and with her will held by another, the mermaid soon forgot her own name.
As First Handmaiden, it was the mermaid’s duty to travel with her princess to meet the prince. It was no ordinary journey. The mermaid princess was a being of the sea. The prince she was bound to marry was a man of the land. As children, their parents had sought an alliance to ensure safe passage for humans across the seas and protect the merpeople from murder. For six months a year, the mermaid princess would walk on legs. For six months a year, the human prince would flutter a tail.
But it was not the princess who captivated the young and dashing prince, but the handmaiden. Lovely and gentle and kind, she easily made her way into the hearts of the court. The prince was quite taken with her, but duty kept him bound. As future king, he had to think of his people, of his country. He could not think with his heart. It was a bitter pill for a young man so deeply in love.
The princess was, understandably, jealous. She forbade her handmaiden from interacting with the prince. But the prince would not be kept away. He had lost his heart to the handmaiden and was ready to forfeit the throne.
The handmaiden had a choice: return to the sea and never return to the surface or run into the night with the prince and never see either his land or her sea again. Her heart broke, but she chose the prince. They planned to steal away in the night. The king and queen of both realms would be furious, but the handmaiden and the prince were young and in love.
The princess was furious and called sea storms to land. Ships were destroyed and streets and homes flooded. Angrily, the king and queen banished the princess, nullified the betrothal, and waged war on the merpeople.
It was an ugly time on land and in the sea. The land was ravaged by endless storms and great tsunamis. Surviving ships were sent to sea, full of sailors and soldiers. The merpeople were slaughtered and survivors forced to flee their homes.
In the chaos, two hearts wept knowing it was their own choices that had led to the downfall of two realms. They could never go home, and the would have to live with the consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives.
Their union should not have been happy, and yet it was. They delighted in their love even as they mourned the heavy losses. After all, both kingdoms had been teteering on the edge. With distrust and hate festering in the hearts of humans and merpeople, the peace would not have lasted had the prince and princess married.
The handmaiden and her prince found peace when they discovered neither kingdom would have survived the marriage. The handmaiden was devastated at the loss of her fins, but took solace in the love of her prince.
No one knows where the handmaiden and prince vanished to, for they were never seen again. Some believe they went into hiding and, as it was many years ago, it is likely they are either old and gray or gone from the world. Or perhaps they found a secret portal that whisked them away to another world. Or perhaps they took on new personas and live among us today. But, wherever they are, they are happy even as sadness will forever sit in their hearts.
Catch up on the story by dropping by the Writer’s Lounge.