Warnings/ Spoilers: um…None, I think.
I apologize for the lateness and the slight whirlwind that is this fic; I’ve taken many parts of fairytales and stories in writing this, such as Snow White, Briar Rose, The Little Mermaid, even Pirate of the Caribbean, which by no standards is a fairytale to me, but I needed some…qualities from it.
Much thanks to Chai (darrensderriere) and Jaz (morgansfreeman) for being my beta readers and helping me out. <3
In which the fair son of the Anderson household must leave his kingdom go on a most ancient quest: to return with the soul of a mermaid, lest he lose his life to the waters forever.
Long ago and in a realm not quite so different from ours, there lived a pair of good rulers, a king and queen, who ruled their large kingdom with an uncommon sort of justness and wisdom. They were beloved by their people and loved their subjects greatly in return, and all lived happily for a many peaceful years.
However, as in all stories, a great awfulness fell upon the fair rulers, when it was discovered that the lovely queen, with her dark black hair and ruby lips, could not conceive a child, an heir to continue their lineage and ensure the safety of their kingdom. It was such that this injustice caused much sorrow for her and her husband, and she wept often, her tears staining her face and her sobs that broke the heart of all that heard her. The king found himself unable to help beyond warm embraces and comforting whispers, and he prayed for a solution to be found every day, but none came to him. It would be considered unfit to adopt a child from another, as the laws instated long before his time reserved that option for only very particular cases, and he could not bear the thought of stealing a child from their proper home anyways; his wife certainly would not have it, as she would despise to leave another woman in her childless state.
This sadness continued and it looked as though the celebrated line of Anderson, as was their family name, was doomed to end as it was. Meanwhile, there were whispers, spoken in hushed voices in dark and crooked alleys, words that could not bear to be spoken in the daylight, which told of another family; the queen’s brother, in fact, who were readying themselves to take the throne should no heir be produced. The people feared of this fate, as they had all heard stories of the cruelty of this family, and they worried for themselves.
There was one day, when the queen was meeting with her sister-in-law that she found herself overcome with sudden grief, on account of hearing the imminent joy of her nieces and nephews. She was forced to excuse herself and leave quickly, rushing off to seek consolation beside river, setting herself down and covering her face as her shoulders shook with the force of her tears. One such tear slipped from between her fingers and fell, splashing softly into the river below her.
All at once the queen felt a sudden peace within her, and when she glanced up she found herself staring into the eyes of the river spirit, who had felt the queen’s unhappiness and taken pity on her. She had the face of a beautiful little girl, as the river was known for her playful twists and turns that catered to the enjoyment of so many children. Her blond ringlets where dark and heavy with water and her eyes were the same clear blue of the water she floated in.
“Why do you cry, oh great lady?” the spirit asked kindly, head tilted in curiosity.
The queen tucked her skirts beneath her and, showing no fear in the face of this otherworldly power, replied honestly, “I cry for that of my kingdom, whom I fear will suffer a great evil because of me, and I cry for myself, and my lost joy.”
“And why have you lost your joy?” The spirit’s voice was high and sweet, like that of a child’s true and happy laugh.
The queen’s eyes were rimmed red and her voice trembled slightly as she spoke. “I find myself childless, and destined to remain so. I have been robbed by a power greater than me, for I have lost the pleasure of caring for one of my own,” she paused, clutching at the front of her dress as she leaned forward, “oh, spirit of the river, can you not help me?”
The spirit tilted her head thoughtfully and smiled, her eyes filled with wisdom far beyond that of her appearance. “I believe I can, but you must listen carefully and follow my instructions, for all magic has a price that must be paid; it is a rule made before my waters flowed through this land and will continue long after I have run dry.”
The queen nodded and promised her attention and obedience, her face filled with hope and determination.
“You shall have a child before the next summer solstice; a son, and he will grow to be strong and courageous, fair and true, wise and handsome. He will have all the best qualities you and your husband possess, and many more besides,” the spirit said, her voice soft. The queen clasped her hands in joy, a smile spreading across her face, but the spirit continued before she could say anything. “However, he will face a great danger, for when he is of age, you must send him away. He will leave the boundaries of your kingdom on an ancient quest and go beyond the ocean to a small island, where he must find an enchanted cave and return with a soul of a mermaid. Should he fail, he will pay with his life and you will lose your son forever.”
At this the queen’s heart was overcome with fear and she begged the spirit for any alternative. She had heard the countless stories of mermaids, who charmed sailors with their beauty and voice before dragging them away to their watery graves. The spirit shook her head solemnly, saying, “There is no other way, for this is the design of the fates, and must come to pass as stated. You may not tell your son the price of his failure, and must trust in his will and valor. Do you understand?”
The queen blinked and nodded, committing the words to heart. The spirit reached into the water and drew forth a shiny red apple, offering it towards the woman.
“Eat,” the spirit instructed, “and all I have said will come to pass.”
The monarch stared at the apple, remembering her less than fortunate experiences with the fruit before plucking it from the childlike hand of the spirit and taking a delicate bite. The spirit watched as she ate, and when the queen was done, her lips sticky from the juice and the core falling from her hands, she found that the little girl was gone. In her place was a bright silver fish, which dove into the water and swam away, disappearing from sight.
Months flew by and the queen, to her delight and that of her husband, found that she was with child; a son, just as the river spirit had foretold. She enjoyed a happy pregnancy, a glow radiating from her because of the joy of finally having a child growing within her
. She gave birth to a beautiful child, bright-eyed and cheerful, easily loved all that met him. And they named him Blaine, for the river spirit, as it meant ‘source of the river’.
The boy grew up as the spirit had said he would; he was fair and handsome, with curly dark hair and hazel eyes that sparkled when he was happy. He was a smart boy, well-read and clever, as eager in his studies as he was in his training. He mastered the skill of the sword and the arrow and the shield, in addition to many advanced weapons as well. He was loved and cared for by his parents, and they thrived in seeing him grow so wonderfully that they nearly forgot what awaited him on his eighteenth birthday, and had thus never told him of his quest from the river.
The eve of this anticipated day found the prince wandering beside the river, his hands clasped behind him and his head bent in thought. His sword, safely sheathed in its deep red scabbard, tapped his leg softly as he walked and his curls had slipped free in the night and partly covered his forehead, tickling his eyelashes. Aside from his sword belt and boots, he was dressed only in his sleeping clothes, on account of the fact he had snuck out of his room and away from the royal guard.
He was strangely unsure of what had brought him here, besides that he was troubled by what kept him restless in his bed and unable to enter that realm of dreams. He tried to tell himself it was simply nerves and excitement from the idea of passing that barrier between childhood and adulthood; of accepting more freedom and, consequently, more responsibility; that a future awaited him where he would be forced to make decisions that not only affected him, but affected an entire kingdom full of people.
But he knew, for Blaine was a thoughtful person, the type rarely found these days, that there was more to his late night stroll, something beyond simple anxiety. Something had drawn him from his bed, out of his window, and through the castle gates, leading him here beside the river. He saw it, just out of the corner of his eye, a glitter in the water that made him stop and turn his head.
There’s a woman there in the river, propped up against the bank by her arms. She stared at Blaine, her face betraying almost no emotion, except for her eyes, which show such a look of curiosity and an odd expression unable to be placed. Something similar to that of want, but not the lust that lovers felt. It was more like that of something you have when you yearn for something with your whole heart, which is a little bit innocent and knowing at the same time, as well as compassionate and understanding. It was a dangerous look set into a beautiful heart-shaped face, framed by long, dark blonde hair that fell in twisted ropes; it was one that men gave up their most treasured and hidden secrets to, and—more often than not—their lives.
The prince approached her cautiously, his gaze guarded, but when he caught the flash of a silver tail lying just beneath the surface, he drew forth his sword, the scrape of metal-on-metal loud and the blade flashing. He quickly formed a defensive pose, ready to strike if needed, but was surprised when the mermaid—for that was what she was—let out a quiet giggle, too high and clear to be that of a woman. Before Blaine’s eyes the mermaid transformed in a soft white light; in her place was a young little girl in a very pretty dark blue dress, despite the fact that it was soaking wet from the water. Beneath her waist grew no evidence of a tail, or scales, or fins, just two white stocking, bare of any shoes. Her eyes are the same though, the deep blue of the river at night.
It was then that Blaine realized what she was, and he sheathed his sword and walked to kneel by the bank. His mouth was open, the words formed on his tongue in an apology, but the spirit motioned for him to wait.
“You are fast,” she comments, grinning up at him. “And trust your instincts. This is good, and will aid you on your journey to come.”
“Journey?” Blaine questions in confusion. “Oh fair spirit, I fear that I have no jour-“ The girl simply glances up at him knowingly, and he falls silent again.
“There is one,” she states, her blonde ringlets blowing in the night wind that whispers by. “Your parents may not have told you, but that will not stop the fates from bringing about what must be brought. Tomorrow, you must set out, farther than you have ever gone, and go across the ocean. You must return with the soul of a particular mermaid, or pay the price of failure with your own.”
The prince’s eyes widened and he tried to beg as his mother had those many years ago, asking for some other way, something else that could be done. He knew the dangers of mermaids and their enchanted ways, how those who traveled into their waters lost their lives to their voices and their bodies to the sea. And if they managed to return alive by some lucky stroke of fate, they lost their minds and spent the rest of their existence weeping to those voices that would forever echo in their ears. But the spirit only shook her head sadly and repeated that nothing could be done in exchange.
When he had come to accept this, she raised herself in the water, so she was closer to him. “Please listen,” she implored, “and follow what I say, for if you don’t you will undoubtedly fail.” Blaine nodded, alert and attentive, and she continued. “The trip on land will bring you little peril, for it is the water you should fear. When you reach the shore, you will see two boats: one great and magnificent, with accents of gold and clean, white sails, filled with a well-trained crew a hundred strong; and another, small, shabby, and plain, with brown sails tattering at the edges. You must take the plain ship, and once you set out into the water, navigate following the moon and stars, and you will find yourself in mermaid territory. From there, take a single rowboat out, and should any of your ship kiss a mermaid that swims up to your boat—and there will be some, no doubt—make no attempt to save them, for their fate will be sealed as soon as his lips touch hers. Instead, carry on, and when you find the island, travel on your own until you discover a tiny cave. And there,” she said, her voice a hushed whisper. Blaine had to lean in closer to hear her. “You will find the greatest challenge of all; a puzzle where the answer is simple but minds are not. Act too rashly and you will fail, but spend too much time there and lose your life. Should you solve it, your quest will be complete, and you have a safe passage home.”
The prince closed his eyes and bowed his head, vowing to remember her words. The spirit pushed herself further out of the water and cupped his cheek gently, tilting his head towards her until her lips pressed against his forehead. “Good luck, Prince Blaine,” she said in parting before slipping beneath the water and swimming away, the shiny scales of a small white fish flashing once before completely disappearing.
Blaine had offered only a short goodbye to his parents, smiling optimistically though his mind was heavy with the task ahead of him. He promised his safe return with a hopeful smile and a cheerful wave, and as he walked away he tried to block out the muffled sounds of his mother’s tears and his father’s soothing words.
His trek through the forest was quick and almost easy, as he possessed his mother’s unique ability to charm the life around him with a simple hum. The birds he passed chirped to point out which seeds he should gather and the wild beasts he found along the way aided his collection of plants. And as for meat, he ate that too, but not without a sober apology and a most sincere gratefulness to the animal he was forced to kill. It wasn’t long until he reached the shore, and his eyes saw what the river spirit had told him would await him.
To his right, he saw an amazing ship, built large and sturdy of solid wood and reinforced with expensive metals. It was well armed, and from his place on the shore Blaine could see the crew working hard to raise sails, clean decks, and otherwise ready the ship for sailing.
To his left, he found a tiny ship, dwarfed by the splendor beside it, that was dingy and dirty. Its tattered sails looked as if it could barely hold a breeze. There was a scant amount of crew on board, and they laid around lazily, on account of the distinct lack of work that needed to be done there. Remembering the spirit’s words, Blaine swallowed any feelings of entitlement or greed within him and turned towards the left, walking up to the small ship and asking if there was room for one more. And though the captain of the ship seemed taken aback with surprise, he allowed Blaine to board, asking him who he was and where he was going.
Blaine paused before replying, “I’m a navigator,” he lied easily, a charming smile across his face. After all, it was only a half-lie, for as a prince he had taken a geography and astronomy, under the preparation of the possibility of having to lead the kingdom’s navy one day. He wondered now if that was the only reason why, or if his parents had feared for what challenges he might face on the journey he was just beginning.
The captain was pleasantly surprised once more, and graciously allowed Blaine to lead them on their voyage; Blaine agreed, asking only that he make one stop before continuing on the planned trip. An honest deal was struck between the two, and it wasn’t long before the ship was on its way; Blaine set the course southeast, for the sun set there and the mermaids where attracted to the man-made light the sailors were forced to use. Once night fell, he looked up, using the stars and the moon, knowing their connections to the tide. They sailed for many days like this, until they reached a part of the ocean where the water just turned from blue to green, and the prince ordered they stop.
The other sailors could barely hear the faintest whispers of the mermaid’s song, and they were drawn to it as well as frightened. Blaine ordered them to seek refuge below deck, where the noise was muffled and they could sleep in peace. And in the dead of night, he lowered a rowboat and sailed into the murky green waters alone, unable to risk taking any other men with him. He took only his sword and lantern with him, humming softly as he rowed.
He heard them before he saw them, heard the unnatural movement of water and of the voices rising towards the surface. He folded the wooden oars into the boat and simply floated on, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, singing under his breath and steeling himself for what might await him when he opened his eyes again.
There were seven of them in front of him, three on either side and one at the very end; all of different color and different faces and hair, but they all stared at him the same way the river spirit had when she had morphed into one. Their hair was long and fell tangled down their backs, and they studied him curiously. Blaine could hear the quiet sound of the water swishing beneath him because of their tails and he stared back at them evenly, waiting for them to speak. Oddly enough, when he glanced at each of their faces, which were surely beautiful and fair, he felt nothing but only the faintest bit of magic. There was no compelling desire to talk to one, or creep close to one; no desire to lean over the side of the boat for a glimpse of their glittering tails below.
“Was that you singing?” the farthest one of the right asked. Her skin is as pale as the moon and her hair darker than midnight. Her clear voice trilled on the air, floating across until it reached his ears.
“Yes,” Blaine answered, his voice calm and free of any desperate need or wonderment that the mermaids were always so used to.
“Won’t you join us?” the one in the middle-left asked, whose hair was like copper and voice like honey, smooth and sweet and lingering ever so slightly.
The boat bobbed and rocked on the waves, but Blaine’s demeanor did not, for he simply replied, rather jovially actually, “I’d much rather carry on my way, if you please, misses.”
The sisters looked at each other for a moment and turned back to him. “Oh! You don’t want to go any further!” the girl closest to him on the left cried, her dark blonde hair shining in the lantern light.
“No, you don’t!” some of the others chimed in, staring at the prince imploringly.
“And why is that, enchanted creatures of the deep?” Blaine asked interestedly, for any information he could gain of what lay before him he would not pass up.
“It is a terrible evil!” the one farthest from him, straight across from him warned, “We do not speak of it.” Her green eyes sparkled and she extended one long hand towards him. “Please, just join us, and stay safe.”
“Join us, join us, join us!” the others cried, reaching over the side of the boat and trying to grasp at his sleeve. Blaine avoided them without much difficulty, for he was blessed with a boat just wide enough for only their fingernails to grasp his shirt. When they could not lay a hand on him, their eyes narrowed and their fangs protruded; they hissed at him most unpleasantly.
“I am sorry, dear creatures!” Blaine replied as he slid the oars back into the water. The mermaids shrank away as he began to row away from them. “But your magic does not work on me, and you will not deter me from my journey today.” He went on, watching as their figures slipped back underwater but did not follow him. He rowed on and on until he felt the boat come to a stop as it hit shallower waters. He found a nearby dock to tie the little rowboat to before turning to survey the island before him, taking in the lush greenery and the bright tropical flowers that he had only ever seen in books, all of which had taken on a dark blue hue on account of the full moon. From where he was on the beach, the cave that he sought was not terribly far away. When he approached the entrance, he drew forth his blade and entered warily, unsure of what evil he might find. A small trickle of water flowed in from the mouth, and he followed it as it became wider and wider.
Finally, he found that the water emptied into a small circular pool, which was lit from the moonlight that streamed in from a hole in the top. He squinted against the sudden and almost unnatural bright light, his sword faltering for just a second as he shielded his eyes. When he was finally able to see, his eyes made out a dark shape in water across from him and his brow furrowed as he attempted to make out what it was.
There was a boy—no, a man, more likely—in the water.
His back was to Blaine and his head rested against his arms, which were folded atop one of the large gray stones that circled the pool. All the prince could really see was a head of short, chestnut colored hair and a pale back that rose out of the water; all other parts of him were obscure from view.
“I know why you’re here,” the man said, his voice sad and bittersweet and oh why did it feel like Blaine’s heart was breaking?
The sword nearly fell from the prince’s hand the second the voice reached his ears; as it were, it suddenly felt like it weighed a ten-fold more than it had only minutes ago. He tried to hold his defensive stance as he approached the pool, but it felt as though his muscles were screaming at him to simply drop the weapon.
“And what is that?” he countered carefully, betraying nothing.
“I know why you’re here,” the man repeated, one of his fingers drawing lazy patterns on the stone he leaned against. “I know all about your quest, dear Prince Anderson. To capture the soul of a mermaid?” He turned and glanced at Blaine over his shoulder, and this time the sword really does fall from his hand and his knees buckled as well; he collapsed for only a second, but when he looked up again, his eyes were filled with the sight of the prettiest sea green color he’s ever seen.
“Do you have a name?” the prince asked. His mind felt heady and confused; his limbs heavier than they’ve ever been. He felt as though he were drunk, but there was one clear point in his view: the man, who had now swam over to Blaine’s side of the pool and now rested his arms against the stone there.
The stranger’s head tilted and his eyes seemed to change color in the light, blending from green to a piercing blue. “Kurt,” he answered, a small smile curling on his lips. Blaine smiled back, a foolish grin he was sure, but he could not help himself. Such a face like that he had never seen in all of the land, he reasoned, with such a voice too! Sweet and lilting and musical, every syllable seemed to be sung instead of said, and Blaine felt as though he could lose himself forever if he just…
Suddenly, he remembered his purpose and fought desperately against the fog in his mind. He rose on shaky legs and picked up his sword from where it had fallen, raising his arms in preparation to a quick and easy blow—
Kurt was already on the other side of the pool again, now only part of his head out of the water as he stared at Blaine with amusement twinkling in his eyes. He dove under the water completely, part of his tail flashing for the briefest of moments, and vanished from view; all the prince could do was hover his sword above the surface and wait for the merman to rise again.
A hand broke through the water and grabbed his blade, pulling the sword towards the water; Blaine found that all he could do was let go, lest he be pulled into the water as well. Defenseless and vulnerable, he seated himself as far from the pool as he could, his back resting against the cool gray wall that rose behind him. This action did him nothing, however; for when Kurt rose from the water again, Blaine found himself seated near the edge of the pool again, drawn there by the magic filling the cave.
“The sword would do you no good,” Kurt said simply. He held one hand above the water and the bejeweled hilt of the weapon glittered almost teasingly at Blaine; he grabbed for it, but Kurt dropped the sword quickly and it disappeared beneath the water, ripples formed from where it had struck the surface.
“Then why did you take it?” the prince asked through gritted teeth.
The merman raised one delicate eyebrow questioningly, as if the answer was obvious and he couldn’t understand how Blaine could not see it. “Simple, I want to help you.”
“You want to kill me.”
A smirk tugged at the corners of Kurt’s mouth. “Some might say,” he said as he swam backwards away from Blaine. “Tell me, prince, have you ever seen a dead mermaid?”
Blaine thought back to all the times he had heard of hunting parties setting out to kill and capture mermaids, remembering the kingdom’s grief when less than half of the men always returned. He always saw the anguish in their eyes, but curiously, no carcass, no body; only small fish that had been pierced through with large swords or spears or knives. “No,” he answered, his voice full of surprise and confusion.
Kurt’s face held no judgment for his lack of knowledge; he only nodded and asked another question. “Fair prince, do you even know what mermaids truly are?” Blaine shook his head slowly, never once hearing of the origin of the creatures, only that they were monsters and killers and could not spare even the slightest amount of compassion or empathy on their prey, that they utterly destroyed anyone who dared to cross their enchanted waters.
“We merfolk are cursed folk,” Kurt began, turning away from Blaine. “We used to be people as well: two-legged and completely normal, but many of us made deals with the wrong people—sea witches and the like—and when we couldn’t pay the price for what we asked, the witches took hold of our souls and commanded them into fish, thus leading to our birth as merfolk, beautiful but condemned to always be viewed as awful and dangerous, and with sudden instincts that could not fight these claims.” His voice sounded incredibly human and bittersweet as he continued, “This is why you see no bodies of mermaids, only dead fish, for the act of killing one frees the trapped soul and severs the enchantment keeping it there.” He turned back to Blaine, no longer melancholy or regretful, but with a challenge hidden beneath his eyes and a dangerous, almost coy look on his face. His deep indigo tail rose to the surface, and the prince could see how the dark color was offset by an odd periwinkle or silver scale.
“So this is your challenge,” he said, swimming back over to Blaine. He pushed himself partly out of the water, so his face was a few mere inches away from the prince’s. “Find a way to capture the cursed soul of a mermaid. For setting one free is easy, as is losing your life to one, but to keep a balance, well… I don’t envy you.” He leaned in closer, so his lips just barely brushed Blaine’s ear; the prince swallowed thickly as he smelled the sweet aroma rising from the enchanted water. “Act too rashly and you will fail, but spend too much time here and lose your life,” he whispered, echoing the words the spirit had told Blaine those nights ago.
The prince closed his eyes as the merman slipped back into the water, thinking back to his studies from before. Hadn’t he read about curses and their antidotes? Surely there was more than one way to free a soul—He thought back to potions he had read, plants with magical, medicinal qualities, symbols that were thought to harness the souls of demons and other dwellers of the underworld. He thought of every piece of information he had been forced to memorize for his studies and tests, but there was nothing that seemed it procure even the smallest result. And suddenly he recalled the words of the little girl in the river.
‘A puzzle where the answer is simple but minds are not.’
Simple, simple simple, he repeated to himself, and he immediately was reminded of childhood, a time quite well-known for being straightforward and uncomplicated; a time of innocence before one is aware of the problems in to the world; when problems were solved with easy solutions and curses were broken with—
“Have you ever tried true love’s kiss?” he asked, the words tumbling forth from his mouth without thought.
“Are you a child?” Kurt questioned back cuttingly, sharp and cold as icicles in the dead of winter. He glared at Blaine from over his shoulder, crossing the small pool back so he was floating close to the prince again. “Are you truly so simple as to believe that something as easy as a mere kiss could capture a mermaid’s soul?”
But the more the prince thought of it, the more he believed in it, and Kurt’s words of disdain did nothing to sway him. “Please,” he begged, clutching a nearby rock as he leaned forward further towards Kurt, close enough to feel his breath pass across his lips. “There is no risk on your part, you see? Should it work, we both are saved; if it fails, it is my own life I will forfeit.”
Kurt stared up at him, his now stormy gray eyes twinkling curiously as his lips parted. “You are a fool,” he breathed out. Blaine ignored his words and reached forward to cup his face, leaning in to press his lips against Kurt. He felt Kurt wind his arms around his neck and pull him closer; the prince squeezed his eyes shut and waited for the water to envelope him and drag him towards what must be his death.
The kiss broke suddenly with a gasp from Kurt, who was thrown backwards by an unseen force until he hit the wall of the small pool; his eyes were clenched shut and he curled in on himself, his face contorted in pain and Blaine reached towards him helplessly. Beneath the surface, a bright white glow wrapped around Kurt’s tail in a small vortex, and though the enchantment within fought furiously against the magic, it lost and set him free, replacing fins with feet and trading scales for human flesh and cotton pants (the same, in fact, which Kurt had worn the last time he stood on two legs), whose color matched that of the scales he lost.
Blaine watched in awe until the glow faded, and suddenly realized that the night had come to pass already and the cave was filled with the soft yellow light from the sun. Kurt’s breath was shallow and harsh, but he was laughing and crying, tears of joy escaping the corners of his eyes.
“Am I still a fool?” the prince asked as he extended a hand towards the water to help the now-human (wonderfully, fantastically human; free to walk and dance upon the ground) Kurt.
Kurt smiled as he stood shakily on the gray stone, clutching Blaine’s shoulders for support. “Still a fool,” he whispered, “a crazy, mad, brilliant fool.” He wrapped his arms around Blaine and drew him in for a long kiss, giggling as the other man lifted him off his feet and spun him around.
They exited the cave together with bountiful amounts of gold and silver, for Kurt had stolen treasure from his sisters in the water and kept it carefully. They rowed back to the tiny ship Blaine had left on the edge of the enchanted ocean, and gave the riches to the sailors there. And the two danced together during the day on the trip home, happy and light-hearted, and the nights were full of vows and secrets sealed together with long kisses.