"My name is Ariel," said Ariel. "Ever since I remembered, I've always been alone. I don't know whether my parents are still alive. When I was a little mermaid, my mistress Eris took me in. She also took many other mermaids into her service. They aren't orphans. Their parents are proud to have their daughters serving Eris. But I don't know why, I never trusted Eris. And I never feel at ease with any of the mermaids. They jeered at me and mocked me because I have different interests. So mostly I spend my time alone in the Misty Falls."
"Now you've got me, because I'm alone too," said Thomas. "I know I've done you a great wrong, but if I can atone for it, I'd do anything for you. Not that I expect you to trust me, after what I've done."
Ariel looked into his face. He was very remorseful and miserable -- but still so handsome. Ariel felt her heart beating fast within her. She didn't know why, but it hurt her to see him in pain.
"I trust you," she smiled. "And I forgive you. I know you didn't mean it, and I don't want to see you miserable, sir..."
"Just Thomas, not sir," said Thomas, smiling. "My name's Thomas."
They gazed at each other, a feeling of understanding growing inside them. Ariel's heart beat so fast that she breathed deeply and closed her eyes again. Thomas felt the same way. He rose and held on to a tree nearby.
When he returned, he thought Ariel was sleeping. So he walked around and watched the blue ocean. He wondered how the water was calm and beautiful, yet deadly. He turned and looked at Ariel once again. He was surprised by himself. He barely knew her but he felt he could not stay away from her. He sat by her and sighed, but it was a joyful sigh.
"The sea has taken what is very dear to me -- but it also gives me the most precious acquaintance I've made," he thought. "What any more secrets would it reveal?"
The next few days were the most beautiful days in both Thomas and Ariel's life. She began to enjoy her life as a human. At first, she could not walk all by herself, because she had never been on land before. She learned to walk with Thomas, and when she stumbled, how he caught her! Once he accidentally pressed her into his chest, and she was secretly pleased. Thomas, who was very polite, apologized for the closeness, but she of course forgave him readily. Ariel also learned that she would be a mermaid when she was in the seawater, but would turn into a human when she was on land.
How he caught her!
"Very interesting," smiled Thomas. "You're one lucky girl. You'd survive in both worlds, Ariel."
Ariel stared at him. His words gave her new ideas. Yes, she thought. I would survive in both worlds. But she turned playfully to him.
"I like the sea better," she teased. "You said when I got well you'd return me to your home. Now I'm well. Take me back to the Misty Falls."
"But I thought... well, you said... you had no friend in the sea," stammered Thomas, surprised she was going so soon.
Ariel laughed. It was a beautiful laugh. There was pleasure and pain for Thomas in hearing it. Pleasure, since she could laugh at his side. Pain, since she was leaving him.
"Don't look so sad," she said. "I would still meet you, Thomas. Do you think I will leave forever the only friend I have?"
Thomas was overjoyed. His face beamed. "Yeah, I was silly, but I thought you'd vanish as in a beautiful dream. Come, I will take you to the Misty Falls."
The Misty Falls was not far off from the shore where Thomas took care of Ariel. Soon, they were there. But Thomas was reluctant to leave. Ariel, too, did not want to part from him so quickly.
"Could you stay for a while? There is a place I want to show you," she said.
"Could I? You know I could, and I would," smiled Thomas, holding out his hand.
Hesitantly, Ariel grabbed his palm. It felt warm. He smiled at her, and she smiled back. She led him into the entrance of her Mermaid Cove. They could see the lagoon from behind the waterfalls. Ariel sat and dipped her feet into the water. She changed back into a mermaid, but she did not care. Thomas sat beside her.
"It is beautiful here," said Thomas.
"It is my secret cove. Not exactly secret, actually, but nobody ever comes here. Every time I feel troubled, I come here to calm myself," she told him.
"Ariel, I -- I know it isn't possible -- but I love you," whispered Thomas.
Once again Ariel's heart beat so fast she could hardly breathe. She felt his breath in her ear. He went on, telling her how he hoped to stay with her forever.
"With you, I am whole again -- I'm not alone and broken. Ariel, would you promise to stay with me forever?"
"Thomas, I - I..."
Thomas swept her into his arms and pressed his lips into hers. She relented, letting herself be kissed. Their eyes closed. It was a magical moment. They both wished if only it could last forever! But they knew it could not.
They share their first kiss