Daughters of Hesperia – Putting Down Roots (1.5)

Molpe was restless.

She could tell that she needed a true nursery, and the palace simply didn’t have one. In fact, Polgara had even hinted that the woman she had been talking with this morning had been interested in joining them, and then there would be another person without any place to put them. Polgara, who was fast becoming a reliable advisor, had suggested they start work on another palace on the nearest possible bit of the island, but that would take time, and she didn’t want a temporary nursery either without an Amazon to guard the children.

“The solution to that is simple as well,” Polgara told her, when she brought her worries to her. “We have a woman willing to become a member of our tribe, and my hut is close to the garden. She would likely make a good gatherer, too. We will erect a temporary nursery, and she and I will escort the slaves over to the new location each day to oversee construction. Orion and Pallas will see to your new quarters, and you can relax.”

“But my son…” Molpe looked almost anxious. “Mother left us to the caregivers, it is true, but I am almost used to him sleeping with me.” She sighed. “But my room is no nursery.”

“My lady queen…” Polgara gave her a soft look. “I know that you are his mother, and so I defer to you, but…we are a growing tribe, as we must be. Our space is expanding.”

She couldn’t fault Polgara, especially not as Polgara’s job was to look after the children of the tribe. And in her heart of hearts, she knew that getting attached to a son was not a wise move. In his adulthood, an Amazon would ask for her permission to court him, and after a successful ritual he would be dead. Her brother, younger by just two years, had met a similar fate, after all. She shook the thought from her head and nodded.

“Have them build a good nursery, Polgara. Fetch some tiles when you next go out, and take them with you to carry.”

“Yes, my lady queen.”

Soon enough, a new hut was fresh-built by Orion and Pallas, in a style Polgara was sure Molpe would prefer. A bed was put together for Chrysanthos, who had now gotten to a toddling age, under a simple tapestry that Polgara herself had picked out at the market for the young tribal son.

Downstairs, Polgara herself had a room, vacating her previous quarters in order that the newer Amazon might, in time, join them. This way Polgara could fulfil her role as caretaker to Molpe’s son, and, in due time, her own child. It was simpler than her former quarters, but she did not mind.

Chrysanthos was an energetic toddler now, as fair-haired as his mother the queen. He did not take after his father in face, but the occasional wilfulness he showed reminded Polgara of his sire.

But he called her Ola, and was a sweet child for most of his days, and it was with great pleasure that she took care of him.

As months passed, Polgara was clearly with child. While Orion worked, she would think of names for their baby, circling back to her favourites again and again.

“Garion for a boy, I think.” She smiled to herself. “It would be a pleasure indeed to bear a girl, however.” Her eyes strayed to the flowers in the trees. Soon, it would be time. She felt a pang, as she had truly grown fond of Orion.

Molpe slowly withdrew from seeing her son as often as she had before he and Polgara had moved into the makeshift nursery, but she still visited him. Chrysanthos would always run to her with a cry of happiness, and she would always lift him up into a cuddle.

“My darling,” she would whisper to him, lifting him up high enough that he could see the blue ocean that stretched beyond the sands. He would cling to her, knowing her visits were few and far between, and all too soon Mama would hand him back to Ola. Mama would sing to him, play with him, but she would rarely stay for long.

To him, Mama was a beautiful person who did not exist in the same real capacity as his Ola. Understanding her role in his life was quite beyond him, but still he missed her, remembering faintly a time when she had always been around, the sweet perfume she wore a more vibrant memory than the rest.

Pallas, meanwhile, watched his queen and her fellow Amazon like a hawk. He knew that sooner rather than later, Orion would leave, but his heart had hardened to it. However, the queen would surely soon be looking for another father to her children, and he could only hope she would not pick him.

As well as those worries, he had been hearing stories at the docks as the sailors talked loudly amongst themselves. The widowed queen of another land, dissatisfied with her daughter even after casting the man who had wronged her into slavery, had cast her out. Or had her killed. Or married her off to a rich man. The rumours had continued to fly about, but Polgara brought the news dutifully back to Molpe, while he and Orion quietly discussed it in their quarters whenever they heard news.

“He will be in a difficult situation, if he is not dead already.” Pallas sighed. “The courts they say he comes from will have allowed him freedom. He has been stripped of that.”

“The tribe who bought him is angry, so Polgara says,” Orion said, anxious. “They learned his history later, and by concealing it those who sold him have gained a bad reputation.”

“Selling a seducer of women to one of the Goddess’ tribes? They should have known better.” Pallas shook his head. “Orion, his queen ought to have killed him for the insult to her daughter and have done with it.”

Molpe, hearing the gossip brought to her by a dutiful Polgara, felt deep in her heart for the poor princess who had been shamed by such a man.

“At least the queen he bedded has given birth to her husband’s heir, by all accounts.” Polgara put a hand on her own belly. “I suspect she was already with child when they lay together.”

“But the princess can only have been with him, from what you say. What a wicked man, and that poor girl, to be betrayed thrice over! First by him, then again by him, and now by her mother?”

“It could just be rumour, but I do wonder. They do not see queens and princesses in the light we do, I know that much from my travels.” Polgara shook her head regretfully. “Indeed, we must think of her, the poor girl.”

Molpe shuddered, but cleared her throat. “The palace. Tell me of it.”

“We are working hard, my lady. It will be beautiful soon enough, though I should like to have more help on it. Orion soon will no longer be with us.”

“Then tell me, what of my son?”

“He grows and learns fast, your majesty. He looks forward to your every visit.” Polgara smiled. “When he is a boy, I will have the men aid me in his education, and as it stands, Pallas watches him when I must attend to you.”

Molpe thought longingly of the little head of fair hair, and wished to see him. But while an heiress might be doted upon day and night, you could not become too attached to a tribal son.

And so, between them, they continued to talk of the future and the palace. It was agreed that Polgara must have more workforce to build the palace, and so she would, once her child was born, make the journey back to the docks and find three slaves, two of which would reside at the palace.

Meanwhile, Anikka had finished writing her journal, which she always tried to write in from time to time. A gift from her mother, it would soon run out, and she was mindful she must speak to her sister about acquiring another. It was full of Chrysanthos’ doings, pressed flowers, and how the tribe would be growing – including the upcoming move to the new palace, which would be larger and according to what she knew, have gardens, real ones.

Daughters of Hesperia: Chrysanthos (1.4)

The cradle was made soon after by Septimus himself, who volunteered when Polgara stood before the slaves. He could see Pallas’ face as he accepted the task, but soon after, a beautiful cradle stood in Molpe’s quarters, lined with the softest material.

Molpe was admiring it yet again when Polgara entered.

“My queen, we will need to start preparing for after your child is born.” Polgara had approached Molpe, but she looked very determined. “We must start figuring out what it is we might trade, be it fish or shells or something, but we will need something to trade for slaves.”

“I suppose we cannot live on my mother’s credit forever.” Molpe sighed. “Have the slaves comb for fine shells. The Northmen will take them to trade them on in other places, which we cannot do, and while they have plenty of fish, our shells are a beauty to behold. We are blessed, here.”

Polgara nodded. A good stock of shells would get them a good slave or two, at least, but she had something else to say before she was done.

“I went to the dock, my queen, to ask around, but I did hear something rather troubling. They say one of the slaves traded nearby – the Wind Isles tribe took him, it turns out, and he is to be guarded closely – seduced a princess. His history was told after his sale, and the tribe is furious to have been so taken in, so we must make sure to use a reputable source. Such a man cannot be permitted in our tribe.”

Molpe stiffened. She knew the tribe that was spoken of, and to think they had such a man as a slave sickened her to the core.

But the months passed, and soon, Molpe’s time was near. Polgara had directed the men to build a raised garden, and when Molpe finally went to see it, she exclaimed at its clean beauty.

“My queen,” Septimus murmured, as he worked on the garden. She barely heard him, looking about in delight. Such a garden, if properly tended, would be a beautiful thing. Indeed, she could hardly wait for an Amazon to join them and be its caretaker.

“Septimus, this is beautiful!” She looked about her at the tiny sprouts and growing plants. “I am very well pleased.”

He inclined his head with a small smile, and kept digging. Some day, the child that was soon to be born could eat the fruits of his labour. He knew he would likely not live for the first harvest himself.

And right he was. That evening, long moans of pain came from the royal quarters, with Polgara providing help as Molpe gave birth. Anikka was ordered to stay in her rooms, but she worried the whole long night that her sister laboured.

“A healthy baby, my queen.” Polgara smiled at a newly-washed and dressed Molpe, who almost didn’t look at the crib. She had held the baby after the birth, of course, but she seemed almost confused, now.

“A tribal son.” She peered at him. “He has my colouring, does he not?”

“Shall I call Septimus in to see him?”

“Yes.” Molpe yawned. “But feed the baby, Polgara…I find myself so tired.”

“You have laboured all night, my queen. Rest, now.” Polgara led her queen to bed, and resisted the urge to tuck her in like a child. The new sheets were so comfortable that Molpe barely had time to wonder at what had happened before she was asleep, comfortable in her bed.

As the sun rose, Septimus was led in, where he gazed in wonder at the pale little boy in the crib. He picked him up, cuddling him close while Polgara watched like a tiger about to spring.

“What has she named him?” he asked, quietly.

“You have the honour to be the father of Chrysanthos, first tribal son of Tribe Hesperia.” Polgara looked at him. “He will be well taken care of.”

Septimus’ heart ached at her words, but he nodded, and followed her down the stairs, setting the baby down in his crib.

Goodbye, Chrysanthos. May the Goddess watch over you, for she must know I cannot.

If the Goddess watched over Chrysanthos, she was not the only one. Anikka was besotted with her nephew, and often snuck into Molpe’s quarters while Polgara watched, tickling his stomach and feet to see him smile.

She missed Septimus, but the simple truth of the matter was that to her, the fate of men was a fact, as sure as the rising of the sun. Septimus and Polgara had entered the woods, and only Polgara had emerged. Polgara had not spoken to her much of it, but she knew how it would be done. It was more private this way, anyway. Her mother had told her that back in the days of her grandmother, Queen Rhea, queens would kill their lovers personally and publicly.

“You seem to adore him,” Molpe said, one day, as she and her sister were looking after Chrysanthos. Polgara had left with Pallas to go to the docks, hoping to bring back a slave in return for the shells that they’d sorted through.

“He is a precious thing!” With a besotted look at the cradle, Anikka seemed almost lost in thought.

Molpe could only hope that he would not be the only baby for long. Polgara had been sent with express permission to choose a man of her liking, as the tribe desperately needed numbers. And, if she was being honest with herself, she did not yet want to go through another pregnancy and labour again. Not yet. Her role as Queen and Creator meant she would have to sooner rather than later.

The man Polgara returned with was named Orion. He was a tribal son, and born of one of his tribe’s explorers, who had taken him with her. Unfortunately, his mother had died on a trip and his tribe had passed him on. His features were slightly delicate, but when Polgara had stepped near, he had seemingly recognised her as an Amazon and his face had almost lit up.

Now, he stood before her. She was unsure of his optimism.

“You and I will gather shells today, and swim.” She looked at his muscles with distrust. They had let him waste on that ship, however gentle they were in comparison to other slavers. “You will call me Polgara, and address the Queen and the Princess Anikka by their titles only.”

He said nothing, but nodded. A silent one, she supposed. Very well, all the better for her. She instructed him to wait by her quarters as she changed to go swimming.

The queen had not been subtle. Indeed, Polgara could find herself attracted to Orion – but she did not want to court him and neglect the princess. It worried her to think of the princess left to her own devices, however much she had settled down recently.

But…Polgara did long for a daughter of her own.

Daughters of Hesperia: The Ceremony (1.3)

That afternoon, Pallas was instructed to cook a special meal of a large fish that had been caught that day. The Queen, he was told, had requested it. Around the same time, Polgara drew the young princess aside to murmur that her presence was requested downstairs in the throne room.

“Anikka, I am with child,” Molpe told her, triumphantly, while Polgara offered a silent prayer to the goddess in thanks for such a blessing. Anikka was overjoyed.

“A baby!” She tried not to be too loud. “You will bear a child? A girl?”

“We never know until the birth!” Polgara laughed. “But soon, you are to be an aunt, Anikka. Think on that.”

“Am I not too young to be an aunt?” Anikka asked, prompting laughter from both women. Her sister smiled down at her.

“My dearest sister, you will be the perfect aunt to my child.”

And so it was that that evening, Anikka found herself surrounded by candles. Their usual lights had been dimmed, and she had been dressed by Polgara in her ceremonial dress, with a necklace of fresh white flowers.

Molpe sat on her throne, in a stiff dress that might soon grow too tight for her. It had been a favourite of their mother’s, and must have been given to Molpe before they left. Now, they just awaited the arrival of the others.

Polgara arrived and gently herded the princess to her seat. “Septimus and Pallas will be here soon, my queen.”

“Are you not excited, sister?” Molpe looked proud enough to combust on the spot. “We may see more ceremonies such as this, but this is the first of our tribe!”

“I am excited, sister…” She fell silent as the two slaves entered, nervous to be in the throne room. Pallas looked around in admiration, taking in the candles and flower petals that were about the room. Septimus, however, recognised what this must mean.

His heart sank.

“Tribe Hesperia!” Polgara stood beside the throne. “We gather here under the watchful eye of the Moon Goddess, she who sees all. We gather here to thank her for a blessing, to praise her name, and to celebrate our queen – and her child!”

Molpe continued as soon as Polgara fell silent.

“I have been blessed to carry forward our tribe’s future, and on this night, I have called us together. Under the goddess’ eyes, we celebrate my child, to be the firstborn child of Tribe Hesperia!” Her triumphant eyes raked across the room. “May our blood live on!”

The women cheered, while the two slaves stood respectfully silent. Pallas felt as though ice water had been poured through his blood. There was only one way this was possible, and only one outcome from that. He dared to look at Septimus.

Almost unnoticeably, the other man nodded, and his friend realised that all those times Molpe had paid more attention to him, all her words about the future…however sweet she had been in comparison to Queen Thetis, she was still herself an Amazon queen, and this was her goal. His heart seemed to thud against his ribcage.

How could he have not seen this?

Polgara, the announcement over, resumed attendance on the princess.

“Are you hoping for a princess?” Polgara asked, smiling.

“I am hoping for an easy birth. My mother had a terrible time with my youngest sister.” Anikka looked to Molpe anxiously, but with a smile, even so. “But babies are so sweet!”

“That they are. I think you will make a good aunt, Anikka.”

It was with a heavy heart that Pallas sat by an unlit fire the next evening. He could hear from the palace sounds of merriment. But he could not join their joy, not even for a child.

He should have been overjoyed that his queen was with child, especially when the tribe was so young in its history. But all he could feel was sadness for his friend. For Septimus was his friend, his partner in hardships. Without him? Well, without him, Pallas was unsure what he would do.

(Polgara’s dress is by Sifix2 and can be found here !)

Daughters of Hesperia: The Future of Our Tribe (1.2)

Pallas thought back over what Molpe had said.

She’d assured them that a new Amazon would join them shortly, as she would need this woman. The empty hut must be made ready for her.

But Septimus, knowing what Molpe had alluded to, had slipped away, on the pretence of clearing up from that night’s fire. In the throne room, he found Molpe waiting for him.

“How much longer would you have kept me waiting?” she asked, in that soft voice of hers.

“Not much longer, my queen. I came as soon as I could.”

“Septimus, you will be granted a great honour.” She lifted her chin to look at him. “You will give me a child, and if you are lucky, that child may one day be Queen.”

Death stared at him from those gentle dark eyes, and he steeled himself. He’d known as soon as she’d approached him at the campfire. Molpe needed to make a tribe. He was one of two options.

“If you succeed, you will be allowed to see my child once before your death. I have pity for those who do not even manage that.” She looked down, but again back up at him. “I do not intend to be cruel, but you are not here as muscle. I was given my pick of my mother’s slaves for a reason, not out of love.” She sighed a little.

He knew that her mother did the same, and did not wish to tell her he found it cruel, to show a man the child he naturally must love and then kill him. He cleared his throat.

“As you wish, my queen.”

His hands on her waist trembled as she pulled him close to kiss him, gently. He kissed her back, feeling her fingers run softly through his hair.

“Septimus…” she said, quietly. Just his name. He felt like his world shrank down to just her, and yet he could feel the danger that surrounded this. But this was his duty. He swallowed, and leant in to kiss her again.

Afterwards, he slowly got dressed, and looked up to see Molpe clad already in something soft that wrapped around her like a breeze.

“I shall call you back when I need you,” she said, her eyes flicking over him. He looked up at her, almost wanting to clutch her to him again. Everything about it had felt almost like a ritual, and this stronger side to her had almost seduced him.

But she had placed a death sentence on him. His life, in exchange for that of her child.

He nodded wordlessly, and left her chambers, his face stony. He couldn’t say anything like this to her. Not to his queen.

Within the month, things had come along quite nicely. The empty hut had been rethatched, and furnished beautifully inside to serve as both hut and kitchen.

Molpe had taken on the task of instructing Anikka while they played chess, teaching her what she could. She explained the importance of a queen, and how above all, the queen was a protector, just as she was in chess. Just as enemy pawns could become queens themselves, power was always sought by others, and so a good queen was wise and planned ahead for the future.

“It teaches us what it is to be a queen, Anikka. It is not just a game. It is strategy. As a princess, you are as near to a queen as you can be, and you must learn to think ahead of your opponent.”

Anikka did not know it, but Molpe was passing down wisdom given to her by their mother, replicating the lessons she herself had gone through while her mother was preparing her to rule.

Septimus could only wait.

When the summer began to be uncomfortably hot, and the small tribe began to keep to whatever shade their dwellings provided, a woman arrived. She had travelled at the request of Queen Thetis, Molpe’s mother, and was pleased to find herself on such a beautiful island.

Molpe greeted her as soon as Pallas ran to fetch her, not even waiting for her in the throne room.

“Welcome. Are you Polgara?”

“I am, my Queen, and you are…my queen.” Polgara smiled. “I have been sent as your Provider.”

“You arrive just in time.” Molpe gave her a secretive smile. “I am certain that I am with child.”

“Oh, my Queen!” Polgara looked delighted. “What good news for your tribe!”

“I have not yet told them, as I wish there to be a ceremony to announce it.” Molpe looked around. “That is, as queen I shall be conducting one, and you shall help me prepare for the baby.”

“Oh, as you wish, my queen. We shall hope for a daughter to lead the tribe, hm?” Polgara gave her a mischievous look, and both of them laughed.

“Oh, the princess Anikka is also to be under your charge and tutelage,” Molpe added. “I assume you were told as such?”

“Yes, the queen mentioned that your sister is here. I suggest that my quarters – if it would please my queen – become the nursery, as I should prefer that my queen and her sister should not be disturbed. However, should my queen wish it, we shall set up the nursery in her quarters.” Polgara looked to her for approval, and Molpe thought for a moment.

“The baby shall be in my quarters, Polgara. I shall need to move things around, with the help of the servants – the chess set may go in my sister’s room. I hope you play, for she is fond of the game.”

“My lady, I have not yet met a queen or princess who was not.” Polgara smiled. “I have some skill, and hope that it will please her.”

The two women made their way inside the palace, revelling in each other’s company. Molpe enjoyed having another woman around, and Polgara enjoyed answering the queen’s questions.

“So, we shall need a cradle, of course, for the baby. Luckily that’s simple, and we really only need to plan the ceremony you mentioned.” Polgara hummed. “We shall need the baby’s father to step forward with you in front of the fire, so that the goddess can bless the baby, if you want to hold a traditional ritual.”

“Septimus is the father of my child.” Molpe cleared her throat. “I have not yet announced that I am with child, but I shall at the ceremony.”

“I advise you tell your sister beforehand, then, my queen.” Polgara was all calm as she continued. “She will appreciate being in your confidence.”

“Your point holds merit.” Molpe almost laughed out loud. “My sister would not appreciate not knowing. Now, about your chambers…they do also serve as the kitchen, but I hope this is not displeasing to you?”

“Of course not, my lady queen!” Polgara smiled happily, and the two continued to discuss and plan the ceremony to be held that night.

(Polgara’s hair is by qicc and can be found here!)

Daughters of Hesperia: A New Beginning (1.1)

On the island of Hesperia, a young girl sat in the chair next to her sister’s throne, impatiently waiting.

Anikka Sirena, fifth daughter of her mother, was personally unhappy and angry at her situation. Her older sister had been granted the title of Creator, and sent to a palace their mother had had built for this purpose, as well as given her pick of the tribe’s slaves. Molpe had bowed her head, and then their mother had spoken again.

“I give unto you your sister, to be princess of your tribe, to be a companion, and above all, your sister in your time of need.”

Anikka had screamed with rage, interrupting everything. Her mother had quelled her with a look, but the damage was done. For how could Molpe refuse her queen? Never mind that she was queen of this tribe now. She could not refuse.

Outside, Molpe was discussing gardening plans with Septimus and Pallas, her two slaves, who had known both princesses before arrival.

“We’ll focus on edible plants first, my queen,” Pallas said, with a nervous smile. “Then we will grow for you such a garden as was never seen by any.”

Septimus gave him a look, but Molpe looked pleased by the thought, and then looked between the two of them.

“You will treat the Princess Anikka with respect, of course,” she said, in a gentle tone. “She is not yet used to our island here.”

“Of course, my queen.” Septimus bowed his head, saying nothing more, although he had his own feelings on that matter. He hadn’t known what to think when the queen – their former queen – had demanded that Anikka come along on this journey.

But of course, such questions – such feelings – did not belong to a man sold from one tribe to another, nor to one who had now been given to a new tribe. And the little girl, however ill-mannered or angry, was a princess there and here.

After Septimus had made his way back to the men’s hut, the princess emerged from the throne room. Her patience had worn thin, and she dearly wished she were back home in Sirenos, surrounded by her younger siblings and the Amazons who cared for them.

Molpe made her way over, as quickly as her stately demeanour would allow.

“Princess Anikka,” she said, quietly. “How fares your day?”

“I find it taxing.” The young princess all but scowled, before steeling herself. “How is my queen?”

“Pleased by your company,” Molpe replied, politely. “Little sister, let us go inside for a game of chess. You cannot find fault with that, surely?”

Chess! The game of queens! Anikka’s spirits lifted instantly. Molpe had played almost daily with their mother, but for Anikka, a match with anyone was a rare treat before now. She smiled, truly and led her sister inside.

While the queen and her sister played a game of chess, the two slaves headed back to their quarters.

“I would have thought that…well, that the queen would never send Molpe away. I always thought Molpe was favourite amongst her daughters.” Pallas looked around. “And she sent Anikka with her!”

“Queen Molpe is her favourite, Pallas.” Septimus shook his head. “I share your confusion over the princess’ presence, but it is not our place to question such a matter. Nor is it wise.”

He was right on that matter, Pallas knew. But as much as her sons were treated like any other child, their former queen doted on most of her daughters. Molpe and Anikka had been treasured their whole lives, and even now it showed, with the extravagance of their little palace. Anikka’s room was lavishly furnished, with orange trees, tapestries, and miniature mosaics her mother had sent with her. No expense had been spared.

As was their duty, they lit the fire that night before the Queen emerged from her quarters. Septimus was warming his hands as she made her way over to him.

“The princess is asleep,” she said, with some relief. “I find myself in need of some company, if you two would but stay.”

Pallas shivered as if from a sudden cold and stepped closer to the fire. The queen noticed, and shot him a sympathetic glance, but still did not step away from Septimus.

“My queen, I am happy to provide you with company,” Septimus said, in a lower tone. “What would you wish to discuss?”

To Pallas, it seemed as though the queen was engulfed by flame as she spoke to his friend.

“The future of Tribe Hesperia, of course, Septimus.” She watched him closely. “I intend for us to start preparations as soon as we can.”

(Anikka’s mosaics can be found here and are by the talented evi!)

Episode Nine: Speed Dating (1.9)

Last time on Mermaid Bachelorette, Zissy and Skye buried the hatchet – and Ursula and Amira got closer! With another elimination on the horizon, who will stay and who will go?

Today was another round of speed-dating, although in truth, Shiro would not have called it that. They each had two hours with Amira this time, which was ample time for a short date. He was happy to see her when they met at the location he’d picked, a small club in Brindleton Bay.

“I’ve been here before – it has a pool, and I thought you might like the atmosphere.”

Amira smiled at him. “It’s lovely.”

She meant it, too. Outside, cherry blossomed, and she could hear the water lapping against the sides of the pool. She loved the openness of the room, too.

“So…Amira.” Shiro’s voice was soft. “Are you…nervous at all?”

“Yes.” Amira looked down. “I know myself well enough to know that whoever I end up with, I want to end up with. But all of you…all of the contestants are so nice.” She sighed. “I could genuinely see myself dating any of you, and this competition feels like I’m dating several people at once. But I do have to choose in the end.”

“Well, for what it’s worth, you always seem to follow your heart. And you’ve been inspiring me to do the same, so I don’t think you can make a wrong choice here.” He gave her a look as soft as his words. “I hope that the time we spend together will be happy, no matter what happens.”

The gentle piano behind them seemed to add a lilt to his words, and Amira felt herself relax a little. He was right – she was, after all, here to find the person best suited to her.

Her next date was Ursula, who was waiting for her outside a museum of some sort. She’d been told it was a surprise, and as they headed inside, she gasped.

Inside, it was wall-to-wall movie memorabilia. It was breathtaking.

“Isn’t this amazing?” Ursula led her over to a vintage poster, framed and displayed with pride. “All this stuff is such a treasure trove, I thought you’d like to have a look around.”

“It’s amazing!” She almost felt like jumping up and down with joy.

“Uh huh, check it out. I mean, this guy is pretty popular nowadays, but look at him then! Regular Clark Gable.” Ursula grinned. “And believe it or not, that pretty young thing is Colleen Gardner. You know, the one they want to play the Queen of England.”

“This place is beautiful, Ursula!” She marvelled as she looked around, taking everything in. “I’ve never been here in my life.” The grateful look in her eyes caused Ursula to flush, and look down at her shoes.

“It’s no biggie. Just enjoy it while you can, alright, princess?”

Amira blushed at that, and nodded.

After her thoroughly enjoyable trip around the museum with Ursula, where she found costumes she recognised from half a dozen movies, she made her way to the Von Haunt estate gardens, which was actually her idea.

“Amira!” Zissy squealed, thrilled to be taken on a date to such a beautiful and historical spot. “Oh, my gosh. The gardens here are just amazing! Have you seen how the lavender’s been planted? I mean, oh my goodness, and it’s so romantic too!” She seemed to almost be bursting with excitement. “How did you manage to get entry?”

“Well, I think that the producer might have had a hand in that,” she confessed. “I said I wanted to take you here, and they said they’d see if filming would be okay with the house management.”

“Oh!” Zissy looked overjoyed. “This is amazing!” She looked around. “Do you know the story of Lady Mimsy? I mean, of course you do, but…”

“Oh yes!” Amira almost swooned herself. “It’s so tragic, but they say that she and her husband still haunt this place to this day. If you see them, it’s supposed to be tremendously lucky if you’re with your partner. Imagine, a love so strong!”

They both laughed, blushing, as the lily flowers drifted on the water.

Once her date with Zissy had concluded, it was time to meet up with Skye. To her surprise, Skye had picked an old-fashioned library and seemed nervous when they sat down together.

“Well, here we are.” Skye laughed a little nervously. “This used to be where me and my friends did photoshoots as teenagers.”

“Photoshoots?”

“Yeah, we had this small cosplay group. I was the Yennefer, and we had a Ciri, a Geralt, and even a Triss. We used to dress up and come here for our photoshoots because it had stained glass windows.” Skye blushed.

“You used to come here in costume?”

“Yeah, we even went to GeekCon a few times. I always wanted to be an actress, but back then I guess it was more about our love of the games. We met through GeekCon when we were pretty young. I mean, I was cosplaying Yen, and Anna – that was our Triss – wanted a photo with me. We still keep in touch, but…this was always a special place to us.”

“That sounds…amazing.” Amira’s eyes shone. “You actually have a Yennefer costume?”

“I mean, it’s been sitting in a box for ages.” Skye laughed awkwardly. “But yeah, I do.”

Given how archaic the library looked, she could see why it had drawn Skye in the first place. It really did look like it was straight out of a fantasy book, with its balconies full of bookshelves and its stained glass windows.

“Thank you for bringing me here, Skye.” She smiled warmly at her, almost imagining a young teenager with dark hair wandering along the floors of the library.

“Come on, Amira!” Scorpius cheered, as he skated forward. “You can do it!”

“No I can’t!” Amira shrieked, wobbling on the skates. In the water, she would have been at ease with going fast, but wheels on your feet? Eep!

Once they’d finished skating (and falling, on Amira’s part) they headed over to sit down at one of the little tables.

“Well, that may be the first and last time I ever do that!” Amira laughed.

“I’m glad you tried it, though,” Scorpius said, beaming. “Trying new things is always so exhilarating.”

“That is one thing I like about you, Scorpius. You’ve got such an open attitude to life. It’s deeply refreshing.” Amira smiled at him. “I don’t think I’d ever have tried that on my own.”

“I’m glad to have been part of that new experience for you. I’ve got a friend who’s on a roller derby team, although that’s a bit more than regular skating!” He chuckled. “But I’ve enjoyed skating before, and I thought you might at least enjoy trying it.”

“I’m happier in the water, honestly!” she confessed, and they both laughed.

What a day! With our sweet siren swayed from all sides, who will be her buried treasure? And who will need to find another fish in the sea? Tune in next time to find out!

(Shiro belongs to 15aewar, Ursula belongs to VanPelt81, Skye belongs to Irishsong, Zissy belongs to marryacheesecake, and Scorpius belongs to INFINILoki! And as always, Amira belongs to me!)

Episode Eight: Girls, Girls, Girls (1.8)

Last episode, we said goodbye to Arhun, that reclusive and romantic vampire! With one less competitor, how will the remaining contestants fare?

As Day Eight rolled around, everyone around the house found themselves busy. Maybe it was wanting something to do with Arhun’s presence being missed, or maybe it was the feeling that the competition had become even more real than before. Amira really was an incredible woman, and at the end of this, one of them would enter a relationship with her. With eleven days to go, they would have to work hard.

Zissy was checking on her social media, which had been picking up recently ever since she’d posted her review of GeekCon and its inclusive foods. A lot of sustainable eco-bloggers had followed her, something that made her perk up quite a bit.

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Meanwhile, in the living room, Ursula had engaged Shiro and Skye in discussion. As always, her confidence shone through as she spoke.

“The competition’s definitely heating up, but I’d say we all have a decent shot. And you, Shiro! On the first day, I was sure you were going to be the first one off, if I’m honest, but you’ve really come out of your shell.”

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“I’ll…take that as a compliment…” Shiro said, trying not to look as bemused as he felt. Ursula didn’t miss a beat, turning to Skye next.

“And you’re doing well for yourself, too. Personally, I’m a little jealous.” She laughed. “No hard feelings, though.”

“Ah, yeah…” Skye tried to sound natural, but the sharp contrast between how Ursula talked to her and how Arhun would have congratulated her stung slightly. If she’d known how much she would miss her friend, she’d have tried to help him in some way. Ursula and Arhun were very different.

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Behind them, Scorpius was working on a painting, humming a gentle tune. He wasn’t quite listening to the conversation behind him, but he could sense Ursula’s exuberance from a mile away. She’d probably had a bit of a shock, landing in the bottom two like that. But then that was for her to know.

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Some time later, Zissy was out for a morning swim around the back of the mansion when she noticed the weather starting to turn. It looked to her like a storm was incoming, so she flicked her tail and started to head back before the rain could start pouring.

As she pulled herself up the ladder and dashed inside, the heavens broke and the water became speckled with splashes, growing heavier by the minute. The clouds above rumbled, and Zissy watched through the window as the rain kept pouring down.

“I don’t think any of us are going outside today, people!” She breezed into the kitchen. “That’s a real Sulani storm out there.” She tried not to look too excited as she said it, but she couldn’t help but love the sound of the rain beating down on the waves.

“Oh!” Amira lifted her head. “Well…we’d better stay indoors today, then. Good thing today’s our day off, or we might have been sunk.”

Only she and Skye were in the kitchen, and as Zissy sat down to join them, she felt apprehensive. She’d hoped to go swimming today to clear her head a little after the rose ceremony, but in the end, it looked as though it wasn’t to be. A Sulani storm meant you had to be careful and stay indoors as much as was possible. The rain especially could be a problem, but the mansion was built quite high up.

“I’m sure it’ll let up later,” Skye said, gently. “Too bad we couldn’t all go for a dip.” Skye had also been planning on going for a morning swim like Zissy, but she’d stayed to have a quick chat with Amira. Just as well, really.

Skye went upstairs to get changed, while Scorpius finished off his owl painting.

“Nice painting, bud.” Shiro walked up. “What are you going to do with it?”

“Oh, I was thinking of letting it dry and hanging it up in the other room. It’d be a nice present for…well, whoever’s in the house next.”

“It’s really nice. Colourful, too.” Shiro gave him a grin. “Want a hand carrying it?”

While the guys were hefting the painting to a good place to dry, Ursula was sat on one of the benches, delving into one of the books she’d found. The bookshelves of the mansion were well stocked, and to her surprise she’d found one she’d been wanting to read for a while. The crew must have filled the shelves recently, because it was a relatively recent release – The Shadows of the Past by Mortimer Goth. Creeperific.

Back in the living room, Skye came to join a conversation Zissy and Shiro were having.

“I just feel like nature can be so scary, and we need to respect and take care of it.” Zissy sighed, happily. “I love storms. They have such wild energy.”

“I love the sound of the rain,” Shiro agreed. “It reminds me of when I was a kid. I never could sleep through storms.”

“Speaking of storms, have you guys ever played The Witcher?” Skye asked. “Or watched it?” She felt like she was reaching, but if she was going to join in the conversation she wanted to do so on her terms.

“Oh! I think I’ve seen some things about it online. Isn’t it like, Game of Thrones-y?” Zissy wrinkled her nose.

Shiro interjected. “Actually, I watched the first couple of episodes. It was all very well done…but I did find it hard to keep watching. It felt like it was made for the fans.”

Skye smiled at him. “I felt like it was too. Lucky I’m a big fan.”

“I prefer human stories.” Zissy smiled. “Documentaries, romances, old movies…The historical ones are the best, though.”

“You like historical stuff?” Skye asked, surprised.

“Oh, definitely. Pride and Prejudice is actually one of my favourite shows!” She smiled tentatively. “I love re-watching it. And did you know there was a show that came out about a historically sapphic woman who recorded her life in diaries?”

Skye’s eyes went wide. “You’re a fan of Anne Lister?”

“Totally! She’s got like, this super dangerous energy to her.” Zissy giggled. “I guess I like bad girls on occasion.”

“Ah, me too.” Shiro coughed. “I mean, not that I don’t like kind and lovely girls, though.” He was happy to keep this conversation going, as long as Zissy and Skye were getting along. Whatever they’d gotten out of their system during that fight, the rift seemed to be patched for the time being.

“Ooh, kind and lovely girls! Wonder who he means…” Skye winked at Zissy, who giggled again.

Later in the day, Ursula sought out Amira in the kitchen.

“Hey, I just…kind of wanted to talk to you. I know things are going to go however they will, but I’m really enjoying my time.” She steadied her nerves and carried on. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to go on dates with you, and I loved that I got to show you my favourite places in Windenburg. It meant a lot to me.”

“Ursula…” Amira smiled warmly. “It’s taught me something as well. I mean, home is important to everyone, and I know that Sulani is going to be somewhere I love all my life. But I really, I guess I took it for granted I’d stay here all my life. But I’ve learned other places can be just as beautiful. And in part, I have you to thank.”

In part. Ursula knew that probably meant she wasn’t the only one who Amira was thinking of as she spoke. Still, to see the warmth on her face was good, like fresh sunshine on the water.

Meanwhile, Zissy had just finished a brief yoga workout, stretching her muscles and allowing her mind to drift. She couldn’t help but be pleased that she and Skye were getting along, and yet she felt as though the idea of the rivalry had gotten to her head a little before. Scorpius had been good, as someone to talk to, but to see Skye so relaxed and open had made her rethink some of her earlier opinions.

Luckily, the indoor gym was a perfect getaway, if she needed to think. Yoga wasn’t always popular, and sometimes the others would leave her be if they saw her in there.

Downstairs, she helped herself to a glass of juice. Amira and Ursula had moved into one of the other rooms, talking about Windenburg and some local bars that Ursula liked. She stopped herself from sighing and instead drank more of the mango juice.

Perhaps, after all, first impressions couldn’t always be counted upon. She did sometimes tend to rely on them, and she’d found herself burned time and again by it, but right now, she was facing something important. She wanted to win this challenge. She wanted to be with someone who understood her.

But she’d been acting pretty much like the win was guaranteed, hadn’t she? And she’d been treating Skye like it wasn’t a fair competition. At the end of the day, the decision wouldn’t be hers. She just hoped it wasn’t too late to start trying her hardest.

A change of heart seems to be at hand! Will Ursula put her best foot forward? Will Zissy and Skye maintain the peace? Or will the contest for Amira’s heart bring new tension to the surface?

Keep watching to find out!

(Shiro belongs to 15aewar, Ursula belongs to VanPelt81, Skye belongs to Irishsong, Zissy belongs to marryacheesecake, and Scorpius belongs to INFINILoki! And as always, Amira belongs to me!)

Episode Seven: I’m Coming Home (1.7)

Last episode saw our serene siren speedily swooning with her suitors! (Try saying that ten times fast!) But in today’s episode, one of those suitors will be heading home…just who will be sent packing?

The early morning found most of the contestants up and awake already. None of them had been able to sleep for long, given what day it was.

Elimination would be taking place today, and one of them would go home. Each of them was on edge, reviewing their date in their mind to see whether they thought it had gone well enough to keep them in the competition. Most of them found something that they thought had gone wrong. Still, it seemed as though everyone had had a good time.

“Arhun, it was…incredible. She’d never been to a swimming pool before. And when she’s nervous…” Ursula took a deep breath. “It makes me nervous too. I expected to be packing my bags first.”

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“Well, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.” Arhun could tell from her face that she was happy with how the date had gone.

“So, how are you feeling about tonight?” Ursula asked.

“Well, I think that if I go home now, I’ll have a lot to think on. Certainly, I’m feeling more confident in myself.”

“That’s the spirit. Man, travel is just such an amazing thing, though. If I’d known that this was going to be so fun…” Ursula laughed, just as Amira walked sleepily into the kitchen, smiling at the two of them.

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Shiro and Scorpius had ended up talking things over in the living room. As Scorpius had given him the initial push he needed, he found himself opening up more to the other man. Scorpius, Shiro thought, would have made a great therapist, and as it was, he made an excellent friend.

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“Showing my mer-form like that…” Shiro let out a deep sigh of relief. “I…feel more whole, now. Like I’ve…done something right.”

“It’s always right to be yourself,” Scorpius said, gently. “I think that even if you did it for her, you might learn to do it for yourself someday too.”

“Honestly, coming here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Shiro admitted. “I think I was starting to feel disconnected to myself in San Myshuno. I love it there, but…the islands are always going to be a part of me.”

“That’s the spirit!” Scorpius said, cheerfully.

“What about you, how did your date go?” Shiro asked, somewhat nervous to hear what Scorpius would have to say.

“Oh, we talked about things, and had a good time…” Scorpius smiled to himself. “I really think Amira and I are quite like-minded.”

 

Skye came downstairs humming, bypassing Arhun and Ursula in search of breakfast. Last night had been amazing. Once again, she’d felt as though she really connected with Amira. She was almost tempted to think of Amira as her Yennefer, but then it was early days. Instead, she settled for concentrating on her breakfast.

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After she’d eaten, she looked for Arhun, and eventually found him in the study.

“So…”

He gave her a strange smile. “So,” he echoed. “Are we talking about our dates?”

She laughed. “I don’t know, are we? I mean, I had a good time, and I hope that you did, too. But I guess…we don’t know anything until this evening, and I kind of wanted to hang out a bit.”

“In case one of us ends up going home, you mean.” Arhun gave her that same look.

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“Well, yes. I don’t know what we’re being ranked on. But…” Skye leaned against the desk. “I also want to make sure you have my contact info just in case. I don’t want to go home and never talk to you again. You’re a cool dude.”

Arhun noticed how politely she’d phrased it, and took it to heart, entering the contact info she then gave him into his phone. It was true. Skye was one of the best things about the mansion. He just hoped that they wouldn’t lose their friendship later.

 

Skye wasn’t just securing things with Arhun, however. When she went into the living room, Zissy was stood, watching a documentary.

“Hey, Zissy.” Skye sat herself down.

“Hey.” The other girl gave her a tentative smile. “So, I guess…today is the day?”

“Yup.” She smiled, nervously. “I think we should…put aside our differences just in case, you know?”

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“Well, as long as there isn’t a repeat of last time.” Zissy seemed to relax somewhat. “I know that there’s some energy hanging around because of the elimination ceremony. I wouldn’t want us to add to that.”

The fact that she was at least admitting that there could be some fault on her part relaxed Skye too.

“So, this is…” She gestured up at the TV. “What is this?”

“Oh! It’s like, an expose on how much plastic there is that we don’t know about. It’s pretty interesting, especially given how much of it ends up in the ocean.” Zissy took a seat on the sofa, and began to talk about it. To her surprise, Skye found herself understanding and enjoying the conversation.

“Well, good to see them getting on,” Ursula commented, looking at the scene from by the easels. Shiro shushed her as Amira walked in, hair still wet from her morning swim.

“Hello!” She smiled brightly at Shiro. “I, um, I’m sorry for dipping out after breakfast. I felt like a swim to clear my head.”

Ursula looked between the two of them. Had something happened? Shiro and Amira both seemed flustered, with Shiro seeming much happier than he had before. She wondered to herself for a moment, but Shiro coughed.

“Yes, the water is always perfect on a sunny morning. Next time, we should go together.”

Amira beamed, and Ursula gave up trying to understand. She’d probably find out later.

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“So, Amira…” Shiro gave her a nervous smile. “I’ve no doubt you’ll look as beautiful tonight as you did at the last ceremony.”

“Charmer,” Ursula said, with a grin. “Although I have to agree.”

Amira flushed, looking pleased, and Ursula decided to give the boy a chance. She’d noticed how shy he was around Amira, and how long it had taken him to talk to her. It would be easy to step in and brush him off, or third wheel it, but it wouldn’t be kind. Instead, spotting Scorpius through the window, she waved to him and tossed a smile over her shoulder at the other two.

“I’ll catch you later, princess,” she said, winking at Amira. “Have fun!”

Shiro gave her a grateful smile that absolutely didn’t give her a feeling like she’d just cuddled a puppy. Nope, she was an independent, definitely not a sap girl. She looked back over her shoulder again at the doorway and saw them sat down next to Zissy, quietly talking with each other. Amira was laughing slightly, while both Zissy and Shiro looked on with a smile.

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Ursula sighed. She really was too nice for her own good sometimes.

“Ursula!” Scorpius gave her a large smile. “To what do I owe the pleasure, huh?”

“Scorpius…why are Amira and Shiro so much…closer now?” She winced as she said it. “I’m curious, that’s all.”

“Oh, Shiro finally showed off his merform. It was a big step for him.” Scorpius looked around. “I mean, I wouldn’t tell the others, but…you don’t strike me as the type to spread secrets.”

“I’m not. But…huh. Good for him.” She found herself smiling. No wonder his confidence was up.

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“Yeah. I think no matter what happens, that’s really been a big step for him. He’s really benefited from this trip.” Scorpius gave her a smile. “What about the girls, are they still being awkward?”

“Nope. I think they might even have buried the hatchet a bit. They were talking about plastic in the ocean or something when I left.” Ursula smiled. “Thankful for small mercies, huh?”

“Absolutely. Do you want to take a swim with me?”

“Nothing would please me more.” She grinned. “And who knows, Shiro might come out of his shell more while we’re away.”

The rest of the day’s hours until that evening’s ceremony were whiled away pleasantly. Whether through knitting…

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Chess…

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Or good conversations…

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The day went well.

However, eventually, they all had to gather outside for the rose ceremony, and wait for the bachelorette. All of them had dressed up for the occasion, and Skye, resplendent in a silver dress, manage to draw a couple of gasps as she walked past.

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Scorpius, so often seen in his swimming clothes or an easy outfit, also drew some looks of approval from his other contestants in a formal tuxedo.

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And of course, Amira, once more in a beautiful green dress, looked as lovely as ever. Each contestant hoped that they would not be left without a rose.

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“Over the past week, I’ve lived with you, gotten to know you, and had a wonderful time,” Amira said, looking at each contestant. “I’m so lucky to have met you all, but in accordance with the rules one of you must go home tonight.” Her lip wobbled for a fraction of a second, but she continued.

“Shiro.” She held out a rose to him. “There is no one else who deserves the first rose more than you do for your bravery and courage. You showed me sides of yourself I would like to see again.”

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His breath stuttered slightly. He’d hoped for a rose, but this made him even more determined to try and win Amira’s heart. She smiled at him, and then turned away.

“Skye.”

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“You are a companion already, and I hope you will accept this rose.” She offered it out to her, and their eyes met over the red petals, each smiling at the other before Amira turned away again.

“Zissy. You bring me back to my roots and remind me that to care for ourselves, we must care for the earth. Please take this rose.”

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Zissy gladly did so, her smile lighting up her face as she gently took the rose from Amira.

“Scorpius. You’ve been as much a friend to the other contestants as to me, and your kindness has…won you this rose.” Amira handed it over, and he smiled down at the bloom.

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Only two contestants remained, waiting for a rose – or to be sent home. Ursula and Arhun, who had just that morning been talking about how well their dates had gone. Each stole glances at the other, and at Amira, who stood in front of them.

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“Both of you are truly wonderful.” Amira’s voice trembled. “But in the end, I only have one rose.”

The silence seemed deafening, until Amira stepped forward, holding the rose out to…

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“Ursula. You broaden my horizons and show me new ways of thinking. I’ve enjoyed our time together. Will you take this rose so it will continue?”

Ursula looked down at the rose with a bittersweet happiness, and took it gently. She didn’t want to be in the last two, but she was very happy to continue trying to win Amira’s heart.

Arhun watched with a sad envy as Ursula stepped away. Amira sat down on one of the benches, her face the very picture of regret.

“Arhun, I’m sorry. I really enjoyed our dates, but I haven’t always connected with you as I have with the others. I don’t think that we’re the right people for each other, however much I enjoy your company.” She looked torn as she said it, and he knew it was time to come clean.

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“I shouldn’t have held back. I’ve been hiding a secret from you, Amira, because not everyone takes the news well. I’m not a mermaid, or a human. I’m actually…” He gulped. “A vampire. And maybe if I’d opened up a little more to you instead of hiding we could have connected like you wanted.”

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Amira looked down. “Well…I guessed that, actually. Or something like it. But you never told me yourself.”

That hurt a little, but he bowed his head gracefully.

“I’m still grateful I had the chance to win your heart,” he said, meeting her eyes. How deep they were, like the sea.

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Impulsively, she reached forward and hugged him quickly. “I mean it. You show such compassion. Don’t hide your light from others.”

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The ceremony over, Amira took her leave, and the contestants were left to their own devices. Skye pushed past the others to fling her arms around Arhun.

“Don’t go. You’re basically my best friend here. You’re like…my Jaskier.”

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He patted her back. “We’ll stay in contact, don’t worry. I’m sure that after everything’s done you and I can be good friends still. I’ve got faith that you’ll win her heart.”

She sniffled slightly, hugging him even tighter before she stepped back.

“I’m going to miss you, you dork.”

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“Believe it or not, Skye, I believe I’ll miss you too. Don’t forget to message me, okay? Keep me updated.”

And with that, he had only the evening left to hang out with his fellow contestants before the production crew came to ferry him away. However, he felt in his heart that he would miss Sulani and the week’s experience he had had.

Fangs for the memories? With Arhun gone, only Scorpius is left keeping the new peace between Zissy and Skye…and with Skye now blue, will she continue her pursuit of Amira?

Tune in next time to find out!

(Shiro belongs to 15aewar, Ursula belongs to VanPelt81, Skye belongs to Irishsong, Zissy belongs to marryacheesecake, Arhun belongs to Butterfreeguy, and Scorpius belongs to INFINILoki! And as always, Amira belongs to me!)

Episode Six: Finding Your Fins (1.6)

Welcome back to Mermaid Bachelorette! Last episode, the contestants and Amira held a party at the mansion – and this time, it’s back to the speed dating! But who will make the biggest impression? Stay tuned to find out!

As the sun shone above onto the canopy, Arhun stayed in the shade, scrolling through reviews on his tablet. He’d come prepared this time, and wanted to show Amira a good time on their two-hour date today.

He felt as though he’d managed to impress her the last time, and didn’t want to fall short, or fall behind the other contestants. Like with everything, proper planning was the key – even if he had a major disadvantage facing him.

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Inside, Scorpius and Shiro sat together. They’d been told that they wouldn’t be seeing Amira until they reached their chosen destination, and Shiro had felt comfortable enough to talk to Scorpius.

“I’ve got something planned for today,” he said, quietly. “But I’m pretty nervous about it.”

“Well, I wish you the best,” Scorpius said, smiling. “Zissy and I talked, and she said Amira really liked the ruins, so I thought I’d take her to the old castle in Windenburg.”

“How is Zissy?”

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“Well, she’s doing alright.” Scorpius sighed. “I think she knows she pushed Skye too far, so she’s a little wary of doing it again.”

Shiro gave him a nervous smile. “Well, I don’t think any of us want her to do it again.”

“Agreed.”

 

Amira and Arhun arrived together at a place that she’d never before seen, and she was almost puzzled, until he turned around and smiled widely at her.

“Welcome to the Balance Spa!”

“Oh my goodness!” she squeaked, looking at him. “A spa? You booked us a spa?”

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“Yep! We’ve got a short stay, but I managed to book some things for us. I hope they’ll be enjoyable to you.” He tried not to sound too formal, but Amira’s delight was clear as she looked around. The sound of water was everywhere – he’d read a review saying that this spa had the most relaxing fountains out of all of the nearest ones, and so his research had paid off. This morning had mostly been spent idly checking feedback on this spa.

And they were right about the fountains.

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They spent an hour meditating together, in a candlelit room that seemed to have the perfect ambience. Amira found herself soothed and relaxed, and the water feature that trickled just behind them helped immensely.

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Once their hour was up, Arhun led her upstairs, where they’d been booked into separate massages. She found that she appreciated that he’d made such a gesture, as she’d have felt a little uncomfortable if he’d assumed they’d get a couple’s massage on a second date.

The masseuse smiled as she rubbed her shoulders. “Just relax…”

And Amira did.

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Next door, Arhun was chatting away to the man who was rubbing his feet.

“I’m in a…new environment, and it’s rather difficult,” he admitted. “Some of my housemates don’t get along.”

“Oh, I hear that. It also explains some of this tension.” The man pressed hard. “But that’s a good reason to treat yourself, right?”

“Definitely.” Arhun sighed as he relaxed back into the chair.

06-12-20_1-33-55 PM

 

 

The next date location might not have been a spa, but Amira found herself loving it just as much.

“Shiro, this place…it’s beautiful!” She looked around the secluded beach, while Shiro found himself a little captivated by Amira. He loved how she reacted to new places, new things, with such vibrancy.

“Well, it seemed like your kind of place,” he said, quietly. “I thought that we could go swimming.”

06-12-20_1-36-56 PM

Amira turned around, surprised. She’d not seen Shiro’s mermaid form, although he’d come in dripping water occasionally, and so she followed him down to the beach, waiting patiently.

“My family…we’re very distinctive,” he said, trying not to think exactly how distinctive. “I wanted to show you, but…” He stepped into the water. “I think I was afraid, before.”

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A dark fin flicked as he dived past a shoal of colourful fish, the mermaid shape shifting into focus under the beautiful water. Amira stepped in, watching with wide eyes before following suit.

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“So…this is me,” he said, as he surfaced. “Do you….”

“Shiro, you…” Amira’s eyes were as fixated on him as they had been on the beach. “You really did this for me?”

“Yeah, I, uh, I guess I did.” He looked embarrassed. “I wanted you to see this. I mean, not a lot of other people have seen this, and…I know that things between us –” He took a deep breath. “You’re the first person to see this side of me in a long while, but I wanted you to.”

“I’m glad I did,” Amira said, softly. More and more, Shiro kept surprising her.

06-12-20_1-41-05 PM

 

 

After that revealing date, Amira ended up at GeekCon, ordering veggie burgers for herself and Zissy.

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Zissy, on the other hand, was having a whale of a time behind her, playing a competitive game. All around, people were having fun, wearing costumes, and playing video games. Personally, Amira thought that Arhun would have very much liked it here…had it been inside rather than in a square. She’d started to notice he preferred not to go outside.

But Zissy seemed to be having a good time.

06-12-20_1-45-02 PM

When the match ended, Zissy came over to Amira with shining eyes.

“It’s so good that they’ve made their options more vegetarian!” She smiled down at the food. “Seriously, I love when events are inclusive like this.”

“It’s…a lot to take in,” Amira said, looking around her. “It’s very popular, huh?”

“Well, I guess! But a lot of these popular events seem to find it pretty hard to be inclusive, and not everywhere sources responsibly. Even GeekCon – their shirts are…” Zissy hesitated. “Fast fashion, to be honest.”

06-12-20_1-47-06 PM

“Fast fashion?”

“Not made to last and mass produced. It’s too common and it’s so bad for the environment and the planet. I mean, people think it won’t hurt, but it always does.” She eyed the distant merch stall apprehensively. “But everyone does it. Everyone keeps buying the latest fashions, even if the clothes they have are perfectly good. It’s so wasteful.”

It certainly was something to think about for Amira, who had been given new clothes just for the show. As much as she loved the environment, it seemed more and more like Zissy knew more than she did about it.

 

 

Next up was her date with Scorpius, at an abandoned castle just outside Windenburg.

“Amira!” He took a look at her, and gave her a warm smile. “How are you holding up?”

“Well…” She hesitated.

06-12-20_1-50-58 PM

Scorpius was one of those people who was easy to talk to, she knew that much. He’d been getting along well with everyone. She found herself drawn into opening up a little.

“It’s a lot of responsibility at the moment. Sending someone home – I just wasn’t ready for how I’d feel, especially when everyone has their own good qualities.”

“It’s the nature of the show, not something that you’re to blame for. Everyone signed up for this, and you were enough to make them sign up in the first place.” He gave her a warm smile. “You can relax a little on that front. We all know that there’s the possibility that we’ll lose.”

06-12-20_1-53-13 PM

“That…actually does make me feel better,” Amira admitted. “Especially with the next elimination coming up so soon.”

They wandered the grounds, until Amira found a campfire and decided to show Scorpius what she and her siblings used to do in the summer at the beach with two batons that were free for public use.

She spun around, extending her arms so as not to catch her hair in the flames.

06-12-20_1-54-27 PM

 

 

“My mother taught us all how to fire dance,” she said, as she came to a stop, spinning the sticks.

06-12-20_1-54-46 PM

“Well, I think teachers are only as good as their students,” Scorpius said, impressed. “You’ll have to give me a lesson sometime!”

 

Amira’s next date was at a swimming pool, something she’d never experienced before. She nervously looked around as she climbed up the diving board.

06-13-20_10-39-24 AM

“I figured you wouldn’t have been somewhere like this before,” Ursula called, her voice echoing in the large hall. “It’s pretty neat, and in this sort of place they don’t get many mermaids. Not like your beaches.”

Amira didn’t quite know how to respond.

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Once in the water, she looked around for Ursula. She wasn’t sure about the smell of the swimming pool, but felt relieved to see the other mermaid.

“There, see? Not so bad.” From the other girl’s smirk, she could tell her discomfort had been easy to read.

06-13-20_10-41-59 AM

“I…I’ve never been to somewhere like this,” Amira admitted, looking around. “This is all new to me.”

“Well, I come here all the time. It’s a neat place to come if you don’t wanna trek to the beach and need to hydrate.” Ursula smiled. “I mean, it can be crowded, sure, but Windenburg is pretty cool, if you give it a chance.”

06-13-20_10-42-33 AM

Amira was struck suddenly by the thought that perhaps Sulani, much as she loved it, might not be so loved by every mermaid. Shiro clearly loved San Myshuno deeply, and Ursula had, both times, taken her to Windenberg. That she’d ever leave her beloved island had never crossed her mind before, but could she really expect someone else to leave their home for her? She looked around her, and decided to think on it more later.

“I don’t need to be in the sea to have a good time swimming with you,” she said, honestly, and Ursula gave her one of her small, happy smiles.

 

 

That evening, however, her date was with Skye, and at a bar in Sulani. Even though it wasn’t in the water, and even though it was at night, rather than in the sunshine, she found herself much more relaxed and opening up to Skye a little more.

“Sulani is just so idyllic, you know?” She gave her a nervous smile. “And I know what people say about mermaids and the islands and how we never leave, and that just isn’t true, but it’s where I grew up. It’s what I know.”

“Well, I guess that you took a big leap of faith with this show.” Skye’s hand reached for hers. “And I’m glad you did. Meeting you…it’s really been an experience.”

06-13-20_10-53-09 AM

She wanted to say more, confide in Amira about how Zissy and she had fallen out, but she and Arhun had talked and he’d warned her that it probably was best to leave it for now. If Amira felt too conflicted, Skye would definitely regret it. Still, it felt like lying not to tell her.

“Actually, Amira?” Skye looked around. “I know a place not far from here. Do you want to come with me?”

“Sure!”

The ‘place’ was a bench over a little bridge near the bar, surrounded by thick, lush leaves that were better than any giant umbrella you could find.  Amira smiled as Skye sat down next to her.

“Amira, I wanted…to say that no matter what happens, I’m happy that we got to know each other.” Skye took a deep breath. “Because, I really like you.”

“I…like you too.” Amira blushed. “I don’t know how this is supposed to balance, but I feel like I can relax around you.”

06-13-20_10-56-04 AM

That settled it, for Skye. If she told Amira about the screaming match she’d had with Zissy, Amira’s relaxation might be done for.

“Hey, what else are potential datemates for?” she teased.

 

Amira thought things over when everyone was back at the house. Sure, things might not be perfect, and certainly it wasn’t conventional, but this was enjoyable. She didn’t know who she would or wouldn’t get along with, and tomorrow would be a hard decision. But after talking about it with Scorpius, thinking about things, and finally getting to know everyone that little bit better, she felt as though she’d found her rhythm again.

06-13-20_11-03-24 AM

She’d just have to wait and see what tomorrow would bring.

(Side note – I’m unsure if Amira and Zissy’s Hot Weather outfits were their original outfits, as I think I have some lingering issues from the patch. Please let me know if this is so!)

(Shiro belongs to 15aewar, Ursula belongs to VanPelt81, Skye belongs to Irishsong, Zissy belongs to marryacheesecake, Arhun belongs to Butterfreeguy, and Scorpius belongs to INFINILoki! And as always, Amira belongs to me!)

Episode Five: Penguin Party (1.5)

Last episode, we saw the rising tension between Zissy and Skye come to a head with a fight that Arhun broke up. Will they overcome their differences, or is their rivalry for Amira’s heart too powerful? 

The soft sound of the waves lapping against each other in the bay woke Amira from her slumber. She’d been dreaming of something, she was sure…something she could barely remember.

05-29-20_8-50-31 AM

But as she woke up, she remembered what day it was on the timetable and felt her heart lift.

Today was a party – not just any party, but a Black and White Bash! She got out of bed with a smile on her face. Everyone had had an outfit prepared for them by the wardrobe team, and she couldn’t wait to see what hers would be like.

05-29-20_8-51-11 AM

 

Ursula sighed aas she headed towards the gazebo where they’d once again been told to gather. The outfit she’d been given wasn’t her style at all – she really felt like she could have given the wardrobe team some pointers on personality and what to do with black and white.

05-29-20_9-15-35 AM

Arhun, on the other hand, was delighted with the dapper black suit he’d been given. Just for today, he’d opted for contact lenses, which usually he disliked having to put in.

05-29-20_9-14-45 AM

Shiro was similarly pleased with his outfit, feeling quite sharp, although he usually would have preferred a tie with more…pizzazz.

05-29-20_9-15-17 AM

“I feel like we’re in a band,” Skye joked to Ursula, as they headed to the gazebo together. “We look…”

Ursula shook her head. “I’m never going to hear the end of this. This is so not my style.”

05-29-20_9-18-20 AM

At the gazebo, they found a bartender waiting along with a smartly dressed Amira, already chatting with Scorpius.

“Everyone, I’m so glad you could make it! Please, help yourselves to Zebra Fizzes, and let’s get the party started!” Amira’s eyes were shining, and she smiled happily at Scorpius. “I’ve never actually  been to a Black and White Bash, not before. It’s a real novelty!”

He laughed. “Well, at least you get to see us all in formal clothing.”

Skye took a proffered Zebra Fizz from the bartender, smiling as Amira kept talking. She was really loving how animated Amira could become when she became passionate about something.

05-29-20_9-22-34 AM

“And, um, the zebra says, well, if I’m not a donkey, how come I’m such an ass?” Amira blushed as she said it and Skye laughed at the joke.

Scorpius smiled, and Shiro headed to the bar. It was nice to see Amira so in her element, even when she was experiencing something new. She really did take to new things so easily.

Zissy passed behind Skye as she was sipping at her drink, and almost said something, but hesitated. If Skye and she had another fight, now, it would be in front of Amira, and it would definitely put the energy of the house at risk again.

 

05-29-20_9-24-00 AM

So, she said nothing, moving to sit down with Scorpius instead.

“Amira, you look lovely,” Shiro said, giving her a sunny smile. She blushed again, and Skye smiled too.

“I think you’re looking very handsome yourself, Shiro. And all of you, of course.” She patted her dress down. “I wasn’t too sure about whether it suited me.”

“No, black definitely suits you. Maybe we can goth you up sometime,” Skye said, winking at her.

05-29-20_9-25-31 AM

“Scorpius?” Zissy said, quietly. “How am I doing?”

“Well, I’d say you’re doing well considering that you’re very close and neither of you have tried to pick up the argument again.” Scorpius smiled. “Well done, Zissy. Everything seems to be going well.”

Zissy breathed a sigh of relief.

05-29-20_9-26-45 AM

After drinks, they looked to Amira, who gave them a shy smile.

“The show has also provided us with entertainment. Today, we have Baron Gold with us to sing!” She looked down, embarrassed. “Sorry, my mom’s a big fan of his, so I’m really excited. She’s not going to believe it when she sees this episode!”

“Oh my gosh!” Zissy looked up, delighted. “I’ve heard him before! He’s–” She squealed, and even Skye looked impressed.

 

When they went inside, Baron Gold gave them all a smile. He’d been ushered into the living room next to the piano.

“Ladies and gentlemen, for this private entertainment, I’d like to ask if any of you have any requests. I am Baron Gold, and I’m here for one day only.”

“Please…” Ursula stepped forward. “I’d like to hear ‘Heart of the Sea’.”

It was a bold move, but the Baron winked at her and began. It had been a hit single of his a while back, and was wildly popular among mermaids, being considered a romantic classic.

05-29-20_9-35-38 AM

“Oh, this is my favourite…” Zissy whispered.

“When we are parted

Don’t cry for me

We’ll meet again

At the heart of the sea,”

05-29-20_9-34-21 AM

“Hold a shell to your ear

Hear the sound of the sea

Swim to its heart someday

And there you’ll find me,”

05-29-20_9-35-18 AM

Amira closed her eyes, seeing herself back home, hearing her father sing along as he danced her mother around. This particular song was full of so many memories. Her sister had even said that when she got married, she was going to have this as her first dance.

 

Baron Gold performed a few more songs, taking requests, until he bowed, and looked around them.

“I was not sure about this, but I have to say, you’ve been a wonderful audience. Until next time!” He smiled, and Amira watched as one of her mother’s favourite singers left.

“I still can’t believe that actually happened.” She fanned her face. “My mom’s going to  combust.

“Let’s keep partying!” Scorpius cheered. “Come on, we should try showing off some moves, right?”

“Dancing? Sure, why not.” Ursula grinned. “Let’s do this.”

 

“Nice moves, Shiro!” Ursula said, as he spun past her. He grinned, pulling a stunt that he’d learned in one of the nightclubs.

“Thanks, you too!”

05-29-20_9-38-12 AM

While the alternative music wasn’t exactly up her street, Skye cast a flirty look over at Amira. True, Amira didn’t have dance moves as good as Shiro’s or Ursula’s, but seeing her dance was a treat in of itself.

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Amira caught the look, caasting a shy smile back Skye’s way.

05-29-20_9-39-12 AM

“I should go get a drink,” Amira said, breathless, a little while later. “I’ll see if there’s any Zebra Fizzes left…”

Zissy watched her go. She had been very sure that this party would be a chance to get closer, but somehow things hadn’t panned out that way. She’d need to step up her game tomorrow.

05-29-20_9-41-10 AM

“Hey, Ursula…” Skye said, quietly. “You know, that was a smooth move earlier with Heart of the Sea.”

“It’s a popular song,” Ursula said, grinning. “I was thinking–”

“Hey, guys?” Zissy cleared her throat. “I was thinking…should we watch a movie tonight?”

Skye was in such a good mood, she didn’t even challenge it.

“You know what, Zissy? That’s a pretty good idea.”

05-29-20_9-42-31 AM

Huh. Ursula smiled to herself. So those two could get along, given the chance.

 

At the bar, Amira was helping herself to one of the Zebra Fizzes. These were so  good, although she hoped her mom wouldn’t scold her for leaving to have a drink. Her feet hurt, and she’d been dancing for a while.

Today had been so amazing. She had been impressed by the romantic move on Ursula’s part, and she’d gotten to talk a lot with everyone. In fact, the party had been a resounding success as far as she could see.

05-29-20_9-43-37 AM

As the party wound to a close, she and some of the contestants decided to take a quick dip in the hot tub, seeing as how a cool breeze was starting to come in across the waves. As the heat soaked in, they ended up talking.

“You know, I’m really enjoying the competition,” Shiro said, with a smile. “There’s so much to experience, and I think because we’re together, it makes it even better.”

“Yeah, I agree,” Ursula said, giving him a quick smile. “Enjoying new things with other people…it’s a crazy thing, but it’s amazing.”

06-06-20_11-06-33 AM

“I’m just enjoying being in Sulani,” Scorpius said, with a smile on his face.

“You know what, buddy? Me, too. I didn’t think I would, but…” Shiro closed his eyes. “It’s beautiful here, and I’m more relaxed than I was in San Myshuno.”

06-06-20_11-07-13 AM

“Hey, you know what I enjoyed?” Skye broke in. “Today! The party was a lot of fun, and those outfits…”

“Hah! Not mine!” Ursula laughed. “Seriously, mine was…so not me? But you’re right, it was kinda fun. And those Zebra Fizzes are something else.”

06-06-20_11-07-27 AM

Amira gave them all a wide smile.

“I think I enjoyed it more because of the company,” she said, quietly and happily. “Baron Gold, the drinks, the conversation…it was everything I’d hoped it would be.”

06-06-20_11-08-28 AM

“Don’t forget the dancing,” Ursula reminded her.

“How could I!” She laughed. “I don’t think I’m going to be winning any trophies for that any time soon.”

It was true, Amira hadn’t been a particularly graceful dancer, but Ursula personally thought that was rather cute.

Later, Amira went up to her room, sitting down in the wicker chair as she breathed a sigh of relief. She’d been so excited for the party that now she was all worn out.

06-06-20_11-25-44 AM

Tomorrow would be a round of speed dating, again, and she was looking forward to it, getting to know the contestants all over again. She’d been surprised, today, by one or two, and she leant back in the chat, hearing it creak.

Tonight, with its soft breeze, was slowly making her more and more tired. Soon, she settled down to sleep, changing into her pyjamas and settling down underneath the covers. Tomorrow was another day.

Will the truce between Zissy and Skye last? Will our sweet siren follow her heart? Find out next time on Mermaid Bachelorette!

(Shiro belongs to 15aewar, Ursula belongs to VanPelt81, Skye belongs to Irishsong, Zissy belongs to marryacheesecake, Arhun belongs to Butterfreeguy, and Scorpius belongs to INFINILoki! And as always, Amira belongs to me!)