"Girls," Attina said slowly, clasping her hands and twisting them. "I have something to tell you."
Alana and Adella, her sisters closest in age, swam over to her. "Where have you been?" They demanded in unison.
Attina sighed, pushing past them and sitting on her bed with a huff, running her fingers through her hair. "Girls, please."
Aquata narrowed her eyes, turning to Andrina with a smirk as she added, "And where is your tiara?"
Attina rolled her eyes, pushing away from her bed and through her sisters. Arista grabbed her by the tail, keeping her from moving away. Attina spun to face her sisters.
Alana held up Attina's tiara with a raised eyebrow. "You usually don't go anywhere without it."
Aquata nodded, narrowing her eyes. "And now you're always leaving it here."
Arista nodded quickly, crossing her arms. "You've been acting different ever since Ariel left, Tina." She frowned. "You're wearing your hair down, going without your tiara." She tilted her head, looking toward her other sisters. "And you're never home anymore."
Attina sighed heavily and sat down, waving her sisters over. Alana remained upright, but nodded when the younger girls looked to her. Adella and Andrina sat on either side of Attina. Aquata swam so she was beside Alana. Arista sat on the floor in front of Attina and put her head on her eldest sister's lap.
Attina sighed, stroking Arista's hair. "Girls..." She looked around at the many pairs of expectant eyes. "Do you remember how it was that Ariel came to live above the sea?"
They frowned, looking at each other and nodding. Alana set Attina's tiara on her head, earning a sad smile from her eldest sister, who adjusted it slightly. Alana frowned. "The sea witch gave her legs."
Attina nodded, closing her eyes as she moved her tiara back on her head a bit. "Yes." She opened her eyes. "Ursul gave her legs." She tilted her head. "And we only know of this because I spoke to him."
Arista looked up at Attina expectantly. "You went after Ariel, and you found the sea witch." She put her head back down on Attina's lap with a frown. "How horrible it must have been for her, to be alone with him." She shivered. "How horrible it must have been for you."
Attina laughed, hushing the sudden and nervous murmurings of her sisters. "Please, girls." She took Arista's face in her hands so she could look to her eyes. "He's not all bad."
Alana snorted. "You say that like you know him well."
Attina looked up at Alana with gentle, expectant eyes. Alana gasped, falling back.
Aquata frowned, swimming forward and putting a hand on Alana's arm. "Is that where you've been?"
All of the girls fell back, their eyes wide. Arista tilted her head, "Tinni?"
Attina sighed, getting up and swimming over to her bed, looking in her mirror and frowning. "You must not act as though I've betrayed you." She turned to her sisters with her hands on her hips and a stern tone. "I have done nothing wrong."
There were gasps and murmurs from the girls as more than one swam forward with wide eyes and shrill voices.
Attina's hands fell straight at her sides as she cut through the din with a fierce, "Enough."
Their were sighs and murmurs from her sisters as five heads bowed and five sets of hands clasped behind their backs.
Attina sighed and floated down to sit on her bed. "Yes, I have been spending time with Ursul." She looked up at her sisters with tired eyes. "And I must admit that I do not regret a single moment of it." She clasped her hands in her lap as Alana sat beside her.
The second eldest daughter of Triton put an arm around her older sister and nodded. "Attina, we trust you."
Attina smiled softly at Alana as the younger girl continued.
"You are our oldest sister, our greatest role model and our future queen." She gave Attina a soft hug, sighing. "And if you wish to make friends with outcasts and treat everyone with fairness and kindness..." She smiled as several of the girls laughed. "We cannot judge you for simply being who you are."
Attina smiled and lay her head on Alana's shoulder. "He really isn't a horrible man."
Alana tensed slightly, but relaxed slowly. "I suppose you're right." She lay her head on Attina's. "He did grant Ariel a fair deal to help her get what she wanted."
Attina smiled tightly, wiggling away from Alana and nodding, giving her sister's hand a squeeze before swimming away. She had not told her sisters of her own contract, and she did not plan on doing so now. "I think there is more to him than he puts off." She mused as she turned to the group with a smile. "But I wanted to tell you because... She took Arista and Aquata's hand, smiling at each in turn and then to each of the others. "Because you are my sisters and I wish for no secrets between us."
The girls all squealed and wrapped Attina in a group hug, each calling out how much they loved another. When they disentangled themselves, all of them left but Andrina. She stood in front of Attina with her hands clasped and her eyes curious. "Attina..." She said softly.
Attina frowned, "What's the matter?"
Andrina shook her head, moving closer. "I've never known you to trust someone so quickly." She tilted her head. "You are usually very... Skeptical."
Attina crossed her arms, looking sadly at her second youngest sister. "I am sorry you feel that way, Andrina."
Andrina shook her head, swishing her tail and looking at the ground. "I just want to know," she looked up to Attina. "Why is it you trust him? He who is trusted so little by the world?"
Attina laughed softly, her eyes darting away. "I don't know." She spoke shakily, nervously, wrapping her arms around herself. "I find myself growing to care for him." She looked to Andrina with wide, frightened eyes. "I think... I think I find myself growing to love him."
Andrina swam forward quickly, taking Attina into a tight hug. "Oh, Atti."
Attina was tense, but she slowly put her arms around Andrina's shoulders. "Please be calm about this, at least until the others know."
Andrina nodded, pulling back with a short laugh. She looked up at Attina with bright eyes. "Atti, I just want you to be happy."
Attina laughed and held Andrina's head in her hands, "I'm supposed to be the big sister here."
Andrina laughed and held Attina's hands to her face as the elder kissed the younger's brow.
Ariel and Eric married on a royal ship at sea, at sunset. Ursul watched from a rock in the bay, his arms crossed over his chest as he looked from the sunset to the ship. "Little brat." He murmured. "You'll never get what's coming to you."
"Don't be too hard on her." purred a soft voice. He tensed as two slender hands slid up his back and linked in front of his chest.
He narrowed his eyes at the ship and pulled the hands up to kiss them. "You know as well as I do that she never thought of anyone but herself."
Attina laughed, swimming around to the front of the rock so she could look up at Ursul, her eyes bright. "I think I know better than you."
He smiled and nodded, looking down at her with possessive pride. "But it's because of her that I have you."
Attina blushed and looked down, fiddling with the ring that Ursul had given her. He smiled, sliding off the rock and taking her in his arms. She hugged him tightly as he kissed her head, his blue glare still watching the boat as it disappeared into the horizon.
She sighed and pulled back, taking his hand. "Let's go home."
He nodded, his gaze dropping slowly to her. When his sight was filled with her loving green gaze, he felt himself soften. She had that affect on him. Only a week, and he was wrapped around her little finger.
She laughed softly, looking around at her confused sisters. "It seems Ariel is not the only one who is lucky in love."
All the girls' faces brightened as they swam closer to Attina, giggling and gushing and questioning.
She smiled, closing her eyes and nodding, not bothering to answer any of the questions since she could hardly pick them apart amidst the many overlapping voices. Alana laughed suddenly, silencing the other girls. They all looked to her questioningly. Attina opened her eyes to look to her closest sister, frowning.
Alana sighed, shaking her head. "Atti..." She swam forward, quickly grabbing the delicate chain that had hung around Attina's throat for the last month. Attina gasped as Alana yanked it, snapping the metal that was barely more than a string. She held it up, the glistening ring hanging from it for all to see. And again the noise began.
Attina laughed softly, holding out an expectant hand for the ring. "Give it back, Lana."
Alana rolled her eyes, "I can't believe it was hiding in plain sight all this time." She pulled the ring off the string and threw it to Attina, who clasped it tightly in her hands.
"Well," Attina said, clearing her throat, once again drawing the attention of her chatterbox sisters. "I guess that secret's out now."
Aquata frowned. "Does this mean you're engaged?"
Attina nodded, slipping the ring onto her finger. "I am promised to marry."
Arista smiled, hugging Attina's tail. "I'm so happy for you, Tinni!"
Attina laughed, patting Arista's head. "I'm happy too." She sighed, shaking out of her sisters' hold to swim to the door. "I just hope father will be half as accepting."
King Triton, of course, was nowhere near half as accepting. He was enraged. He paced in front of his throne, the fins on his tail twitching with anger as he swung his trident around, screaming wildly.
Attina remained quiet and still before him, her tail waving calmly back and forth."Father, please. You are being unreasonable. You must let me at least finish."
He whirled on her, prepared to argue, but when he met her cool gaze, he faltered. He narrowed his eyes as he fell back, sitting in his throne and clenching his fist around the handle of his trident. "Fine." He growled. "Continue."
Attina spoke calmly, her tone never growing excited and her volume never raising. Her hands remained at her sides and her shoulders squared as she looked her father in the eyes and explained what was going to happen.
She concluded with, "I am going to marry Ursul and we are going to be happy."
He frowned from under his brow, looking up at her from his slouched position. "And you believe you can trust him?"
She nodded, smiling softly. "I trust him with my life."
King Triton sighed, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "Attina..." He opened his eyes to finish, but when he saw her waiting, expectant and self assured, he changed course. "You are my daughter, and I love you, and I want you to be happy, but-"
"And I will be." She interrupted, swimming toward him. "Please, father." She put a hand on his, offering a gentle smile. "I would not act such if I was not sure it would add greatly to the happiness of more than one soul."
He looked down at her hand, covering it with his other as he nodded. "Including yours?"
She nodded, smiling. "Especially mine."
He sighed, looking up to her green eyes. "Then you have my blessing."
She laughed, diving onto her father and hugging him tightly.
Attina swam stiffly, her eyes straight ahead and her chin up as she headed for the edge of the city. She was going to see Ursul, and everyone knew it. Merpeople paused in the streets to watch as she swam by, some with fear and some with disgust, but she refused to acknowledge any of it. She didn't even bother hiding the ring anymore, or try sneaking out without anyone seeing. She knew what the kingdom thought of her.
She was the princess, the sweet and virtuous girl who had the blood of both King Triton and Queen Athena, and she was consorting with the sea witch. She was the mature one, the pure one, she was the good girl and she chose to marry the Kingdom's villain. She winced at the thought, biting the inside of her cheek as she passed over the barrier of the city. As soon as that invisible line was crossed, she took off, her tail working tenfold to send her shooting for Ursul.
By the time she reached his door, her hair was in disarray around her shoulders, her face was flush with exertion, and her eyes were red with the pain that a human would have shed through tears.
He looked up from his cauldron, frowning when he saw the state she was in. He put his hands on the brim and rolled his shoulders, sighing as he looked at her through the smoke pouring from his cauldron. "You can't let them get to you."
She made a choking noise as she wrapped her arms around herself. "How?"
He tensed, clenching his fists on the cauldron's edge. He looked down at his brew, shaking his head.
She whimpered, swimming toward him. "How do you do it?"
Ursul's muscles relaxed as he looked up at her with sad eyes. He released his hold on the cauldron and straightened. He tilted his head as he looked at her, anger flashing across his expression when he saw the hurt in her eyes. He opened his arms, calling softy, "Come here."
She made another harsh noise as she swam to him, colliding into his chest with such force that he fell back. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed her head. She sniffled deeply before laying her cheek on his chest, hugging him tightly around the waist.
He sighed, brushing her hair back softly as he whispered, "Now, Attina," he pried her off of himself so he could hold her at arm's length. She turned away from him and he took her chin in his hand, turning her face up to him. "Attina," he scolded, furrowing his brow. "Where is my strong willed Attina?"
She forced a small smile, shaking her head as she pulled his hand away and dove in for another hug.
He sighed as he held her close, squeezing her to himself. "What can I do to fix this?"
She bit her lip and furrowed her brow in thought. She seemed to suddenly get an idea as she leaned back and looked up at him with wide, pleading eyes.
He narrowed his eyes and shook his head. "What?"
She bit her lip, wrapping her arms around his neck. "If you were... Closer." She tilted her head, "If I could be with you whenever I needed."
He frowned, looking at her skeptically. "Closer?"
She nodded, looking over his face with her loving green gaze. "Like... In the palace."
His eyes widened as he pulled her arms from around him, holding them out with two of his tentacles as he looked at her like she was crazy. "In the palace?" He repeated, his tone disbelieving.
She nodded, looking up at him sweetly.
"No... No, no, no." He pushed her away and turned his back on her, covering his eyes. "You can't use those eyes on me."
She smiled gently, putting her hands flat on his shoulder blades. "Ursul..." She purred, sliding her hands over his shoulders to link them around his front.
He was shaking his head and squeezing his eyes shut. "Just because your sisters are all foolish romantics and your father his overly trusting does not mean this is a good idea."
She frowned, nestling her chin in the crook of his neck. "Come on, Ursul." She began tracing the lines of the muscles in his chest and stomach. "Everyone knows we're engaged, what can it hurt to live in the same place?"
He groaned, leaning back into her as his eyes opened. He held her hands to his chest as he answered in a half-defeated tone, "We can live here."
She shook her head, exhaling a heavy breath that ruffled the small hairs on the back of his neck. "You know I can't live here."
He moaned, turning his head to look at her. "Attina..."
She sighed, moving around to be in front him, her gaze soft and her voice stern. "Ursul."
He smirked, crossing his arms as he looked deeply into her beautiful green gaze. "Damn those eyes."
She laughed, her face brightening as if she'd never been upset, causing him to smile just as brightly. She took his hands, kissing them before throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him. He kissed her back, holding her tightly.
He ended the kiss slowly, hugging her as he whispered, "You know they will hate us."
She shook her head, hugging him tighter. "But we will face them together."
He smiled softly and kissed her head, "Then we can face anything."
She breathed a sigh of relief, settling into his arms.
Attina awoke with a yawn, turning over in bed. She frowned at the silence, sitting up and looking around. She sighed, leaning back on her hands as she surveyed her private suite. She had been in her own room for almost a month and she still couldn't get used to the silence. She didn't think it would take her so long to grow accustomed to living without her sisters' constant chatter, but she found herself missing it.
She moved to her mirror and picked up her brush, running it through her hair as she hummed. Her hair was longer now. She hadn't cut it since she'd started wearing it down, and she'd been wearing it down since Urusl told her how beautiful it was. She smiled, looking at it in the mirror as she ran her hands through it. She laughed and turned to the door, swimming for it as fast as she could. She darted down the hallway and burst into Ursul's room.
He moaned and rolled over in his bed, glancing through half-lidded eyes to the doorway where Attina floated. She was smiling widely at him. He simply closed his eyes and held his arms open. Her smile softened as she sat on the bed and looked down at him. "Not a morning person?" She teased, "Still?"
When she did not lay down in his arms as invited, he closed them, instead shooting out a few of his tentacles. She laughed loudly as they pulled her to him. He winced at the sound, one of his tentacles covering her mouth as he held her to his chest.
She rolled her eyes and pried the tentacle from her mouth as she turned to face him. She traced his facial bones lightly, trailing her fingers along his hairline, brushing the loose strands to the side.
He sighed, his eyes fluttering open under her gentle touch. "Does your father know you climb into my bed?"
She tensed as she laughed, pulling her hand back. "I'm sure he rather it happen under his roof with his knowledge of our engagement."
He smirked, nodding as he sat up and stretched. "As opposed to learning of such actions after you've been living with me for three days and nights."
She smiled, rolling to lay on her back, crossing her hands under her head as she watched him go through his morning stretches. His soft purple skin stretched taught over his muscles as he bent and twisted, loosening the sinew that was tense from the hours laying in bed.
She sighed happily and closed her eyes. "Alana and Aquata have taken over the wedding planning." At this, he snorted, causing her to laugh as she continued. "So I can make no promises that it will be anything less than the gaudiest, most excessively extravagant royal celebration that the sea has ever seen."
She tensed in anticipation as she felt a weight on the bed. His hands were on her hips then, his breath on her stomach as he whispered, "And you are worthy of nothing less."
She laughed softly and opened her eyes, looking down at him. He was leaning over her, his lips just below her belly button, his hands holding firmly to her hips. His sparkling blue eyes were practically glowing as he looked up at her, his gaze piercing and attentive. He kissed her stomach, pulling her by her hips to slide her down, continuing to trail kisses up her stomach.
Her arms slipped out from behind her head, stretching out above her head as her body came to be more underneath his. She blushed as his trailing kisses began trailing up her chest. She opened her eyes halfway when his lips were at her throat. He tilted his head, laying down on top of her as he slid his hands up her sides and then her arms. He interlocked his fingers with hers as he continued kissing her neck and the underside of her jaw.
She sighed, arching her back to press her body into his as she squeezed his hands tightly.
He shook his head, ceasing his kissing to simply nuzzle into the soft spot where her neck met her shoulders. He hummed as he released her hands to wrap his arms around her. He settled his curves into hers again as he purred, "You are so beautiful."
She laughed, shaking his body with the movement of hers.
He smiled at the sensation, lifting himself up and leaning on his forearms so he could see her face. He smirked when he saw that her blush was gone, and there was no embarrassment in the bright green eyes that looked up at him. He put his forehead to hers and sighed, his smirk widening. "You never feared me, did you?"
She smiled gently, putting her hands to his head, running her fingers through his fine white hair. "Never."
He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, exhaling his words, "That's what I thought." He tilted his head so his lips touched hers, but he did not kiss her.
She closed her eyes and lifted her chin, pressing her lips firmly into his, twisting her fingers tightly in his hair as she opened her mouth.
Attina frowned, rolling her shoulders and glaring at the bronze and gold crown atop her head. "I never realized how much my tiaras resembled thorns." She reached up and put a finger to the top of one of the spikes.
Ursul laughed, crossing his arms and tilting his head. "I think it's lovely."
Attina rolled her eyes and turned to Ursul with her hands on her hips.
He smiled, nodding as he looked her over. Her usual shell bra had been traded out for a jeweled breast plate that was draped with gold and bronze chains which attached to arm bands on her biceps and wrists. Her tail was adorned with more chains, wrapped in a spiral to her fin where a trail of rubies and garnets jingled. "You look rather intimidating."
Attina snorted and looked to the mirror again, tilting her head. "I look like a queen."
Ursul nodded, moving to stand behind her, putting his chin in the crook of her neck. "It suits you."
She closed her eyes and leaned into him, mumbling, "I'm not ready for it."
He sighed, rubbing his hands up and down her arms. He puts his lips to the shell of her ear and whispered, "Heavy is the head that wears the crown."
She snickered, shaking her head and pulling away. "Don't mock me too much." She turned and moved into his embrace facing him, clasping her hands at the small of his back as she looked lovingly up at him. "You will share its weight."
Ursul sighed, stroking Attina's cheekbone. "As long as I never have to share you."
Attina closed her eyes and turned her face, kissing Ursul's wrist as she whispered, "Never."
Ursul smiled, opening his mouth to speak, but he was interrupted by high pitched squeals. Alana and Aquata came bursting into the room, trailed by servants with arms full of flowers. They halted when they saw the closeness of the couple, rushing the servants back out. They returned, alone, but bearing all the objects the servants would have.
Ursul sighed heavily, holding Attina to his side and putting his head behind hers. "And here come the wedding planners."
Attina laughed, watching her sisters with soft eyes.
Aquata smiled brightly. "Tinni, you look amazing!"
Alana laughed as she set down the flowers she held. "The gifts are all in the hall but there were just too many flowers."
Attina nodded, snuggling into Ursul's side.
Aquata made a gagging noise and grabbed Attina's arm. "Oh, please, you have the rest of your lives for that." She yanked the couple apart. "We have to finish getting you two ready."
Ursul growled, but simply crossed his arms and watched as the younger princesses shooed their sister out the door. He quirked an eyebrow when they turned to him and smirked wildly.
"You haven't started getting ready." Alana challenged.
Ursul looked sideways at the custom armor that adorned a nearby mannequin. It was similar to Attina's, but where she had rubies his had amethyst, where hers had garnet his had sapphire, and while hers was a soft rose gold, his was an onyx black. He sighed and scrunched up his face, moving toward the beautiful breastplate that would seal his fate. He trailed a finger along the silver chains that lead to his own armbands and sighed heavily.
Alana smiled, swimming so she waited just behind him. "You two are going to be the perfect pair."
Ursul smirked, letting his eyes trail over the armor. "The light and the dark?"
Alana and Aquata nodded, each moving to a side of the mannequin to lift the ensemble up. They moved toward Ursul and he sighed, extending his arms as the girls fastened on the armor.
He looked into the mirror and shook his head. "Damn your eye for design."
The girls laughed, smiling excitedly. Alana shifted one of Ursul's arm bands as Aquata moved behind the mannequin and lifted a box. She swam over toward Alana and Ursul and held it out. "And one finishing touch."
Ursul raised an eyebrow as Alana opened the iron box and moved back, watching Ursul for his reaction. He smiled softly and shook his head, looking up at the girls with gentle eyes. "Was this Attina's idea?"
They shook their heads and smiled. Ursul narrowed his eyes as he reached into the box, lifting up the head-sized ring of black metal topped with small but wicked sharp spikes. It was a dialed down version of Attina's own crown, made to fit his head and match his armor. He sighed as he set it in Alana's waiting hands, closing his eyes as she placed it on top of his silvery hair. He sighed when she moved back and opened his eyes. "It's heavier than I thought it would be."
The girls smiled, though their eyes were confused. They did not understand, nor did they share the glimmer of fear mixed with amusement in Ursul's eye as he thought of his bride to be and the burden he had promised to share with her.
The young princesses wished Ursul well, exchanged awkward hugs, and excused themselves. Ursul stood before the mirror and looked over himself with a sudden fear. When he saw the armor, and the crown, and all the flowers, it sunk in. He knew now how Attina was feeling, and he couldn't help but feel pride for how well his mermaid bore it.
As if his thoughts had summoned her, she appeared again at his side.
He frowned playfully. "Shouldn't you be somewhere else?"
She smiled lovingly up at him. "I have a few moments to spare."
Ursul shook his head, pushing her to the door. "In a few minutes, we will be married, surely the separation anxiety is not that great yet."
Attina laughed and flipped her tail so she shot up and out of Ursul's reach. She smiled at him from above his head. "I like your crown."
He reached for her, getting a hand on her fin only because she let him, and pulled her back to his arms. His eyes grew serious as he looked into hers. "I will share this weight with you Attina." He put his forehead to hers and lowered his voice. "I will share this life and whatever it may bring."
Attina sighed happily, closing her eyes and pressing her head against Ursul's head as she took his hands in hers.
He smiled and moved back, lifting her hands to kiss them. "Now go, before your sisters find us again."
She laughed and was gone with a swish of the tail.
Alana and Aquata returned, punctually, to escort Ursul to the ceremony. With a princess on either arm, he glided down the aisle, the crowds watching him with awe. He was a magnificent sight, tall and muscular and proud, dressed like the future Prince of Atlantica, bearing a smile brighter than the sun. When he reached the dais, he bowed to each of the princesses and they moved to their separate sides, turning to look down the aisle as loud, joyous music began to play.
The wedding was in the throne room, which was decorated as though the gods themselves had descended for a night of festivities. Aquata and Alana had found every gem, every flower, and every light they could, making the hall bright and colorful and a perfectly beautiful Eden. The scene couldn't have gotten more beautiful. Then Attina appeared in the doorway. The crown princess and heir to the throne shone like a diamond as she moved gracefully toward her groom.
Her hair was down, hanging freely about her shoulders the way that so delighted her fiancé, and he couldn't help but smile wider when a gentle current caused it to flow out behind her and dance as if on a breeze. All eyes were on the bride as she made her way to the front, but she had eyes only for Ursul. Heads were bowed and prayers were murmured for the radiant young princess, and when she took her groom's hand, an outcry of applause.
Ursul pulled Attina so she was before him, holding both of her hands in his as he smiled at her. Giving her hands a squeeze, he released one so they could turn to face the throne. King Triton waited before it, his gaze losing all weariness when he saw how happy his eldest daughter seemed, and how genuine her lover. He looked on them now with gentleness as he held out his trident.
The couple each placed their free hand on the trident, Attina below her father's and Ursul around Attina's. Triton smiled as he boomed, "My friends and family, we have come together this day to celebrate a royal Union."
Triton looked out over the crowd as he spoke. "My daughter, crown princess Attina, heir to the Atlantican throne stands today with her chosen partner," he gestured toward his soon to be son in law. "Ursul."
Ursul gave Attina's hand that was on the trident a squeeze.
"They have proclaimed their love for each other," continued Triton, "And will do so again before you, their witnesses, so that they may be bound for life."
Attina's breath caught as she turned to Ursul, as if the gravity of the situation has just struck her. She turned her head to him, expecting his eyes to be on the trident, the goal and the gain of their contract and their marriage. But the blood rushed from her head when she saw he was, in fact, focused on her. When graced with her gaze, he smiled lovingly, mouthing the words, 'I love you'. As her father continued his declarations.
When her father removed his hand from the trident, she thought she would be brought down by its weight, but Ursul held her steady, the muscles in his arm working despite his grip on her hand remaining gentle. He winked at her, whispering, "I will help you bear this weight."
Triton raised an eyebrow, but continued in the ceremony as he asked, "Attina, do you swear that what you say is real and what you feel is true? Do you swear to love this man, whom you have chosen for yourself, for all the time that you will live?"
Attina answered quickly, without thought, her voice breathy as she looked steadily into Ursul's eyes. "I do so swear."
Triton smiled softly, nodding as he turned to Ursul. "Ursul, do you swear that what you say is real and what you feel is true? Do you swear to love this woman, whom you have chosen for yourself, for all the time that you will live?"
Ursul nodded, smiling widely as he squeezed Attina's hand where they were held at their side. He answered with a proud, clear voice, "I do so swear."
Triton smirked as the trident shot a beam of light upwards, causing both Ursul and Attina to jump, laughing as they collided, both instinctively moving toward the other. They returned the trident to the king and then took each other into their arms, smiling before sharing a passionate kiss.
The crowd cheered loudly, most of the noise coming from the five princesses who filled the front row. Attina pulled away from Ursul, laughing, a soft blush painted across her cheeks as her chest rose and fell with the struggle to breathe.
He sighed, holding her to his body with one arm while he used his other to brush her cheek, his blue eyes flickering as he took in the rose coloring of her features. His eyes met hers and his whole body relaxed. The throne room was silent to him as he lost himself in the bright, bright green in which he saw his own face reflected. He looked ridiculous, his lavender cheeks blushing violet, his pupils blown wide, his lips parted. He had to give it to his innocent little princess... She had ruined him. He laughed deep in his throat at the thought, shaking his head as his gaze fell to her lips. "My sweet Attina," he purred, his voice barely above a whisper. He wanted so badly to kiss her, to take her already swollen lips between his own, to taste the sweetness of her, to make that soft blush burn against her pale skin.
She smiled, shaking her head. In a moment of bravery and on an impulse based in lust that rivaled even Ursul's, Attina threw herself at him. Her arms were wrapped around his neck, her fingers tangled in his hair, yanking her head to his in an almost painful smash. The force of it sent him reeling back before he could gain his balance, his own arms flinging around her for support, one of his hands palming the area between her shoulder blades as the other tangled in the hair at the nape of her neck.
The movement sent another cheer through the crowds, the princesses squealing even louder as they began throwing flowers at the new couple.
Attina pulled back, but kept her arms wrapped around Ursul, and smiled brightly. "My prince."
Ursul rolled his eyes, raising his chin so he could kiss her forehead. She closed her eyes as he whispered, "My princess."
King Triton put a hand on each of their shoulders as they parted, pushing them toward the front of the dais facing the crowd. "I present," he boomed, "the crown princess of Atlantica and her husband." He gave each of their shoulders a squeeze as he finished, "Your future queen and King."
The cheering faded into a recognizable chant as the crowd began repeating, "Long live the Princess! Long live the Prince!"
Ursul took Attina's hand and bowed deeply before extending their arms so they were still connected but Attina was in the center. She raised an eyebrow at him but he simply smiled, bowing to her and straightening to join the last cry of "Long live the princess!"
As the crowd scattered, lead by Aquata and Alana to the banquet hall, Ursul turned Attina to Triton.
The king smiled softly at Attina, turning to Ursul and looking at him with less weariness than he ever had. "You will take care of her."
Ursul smiled, wrapping an arm around Attina's waist as he held her to his side. "Of course." He gave the king a small bow before looking him in the eye. "I will love and protect her."
Triton smiled, satisfied. He gave his daughter a kiss on the head before following the crowd to the banquet, not before leaving his trident in its stand.
Attina laughed and shook her head, turning to look at the trident.
Ursul smiled, moving behind her and wrapping both arms around her to pull her to his chest as he put his lips at her ear. "You heard that, right?"
She laughed, closing her eyes and nodding. "You'll protect me."
Ursul smiled into her hair, nodding in response. "And why would I do that?"
Attina laughed, spinning in his arms to face him and planting a sloppy kiss on his lips. She leaned back, smirking, "Because I am yours."
Ursul recovered from the shock of the kiss and tightened his hold on his mermaid, smiling wickedly as his wild blue eyes met her equally wild green ones. "Yes," he agreed. "You are."