[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] The Princess and the Shark Boy

Short Story ROUGH DRAFTS – Free for All – See Terms of Use before reading

***

“You’re late!” Lady Medeba exclaimed as Midnight Star and Nen entered the study. She whacked her pointed on the chalkboard behind her. 

Midnight Star jumped. “SORRY!” 

Lady Medeba cocked her head. “Why are you saying ‘sorry’, Princess Midnight Star? It’s okay for you to be late. I was more referring to my son.” 

Midnight Star turned to Nen, seeing him roll his eyes. “It’s part of my job, mom, to pick up Mid-Star.” 

Lady Medeba turned to Midnight Star. “Did the meeting with your parents run over?” 

“No,” replied Midnight Star. Her attention was brought to the light “slap” beside her – Nen had put his face to his palm. She turned her head to Lady Medeba, seeing her smirking.

“Aaaaah, so what were you doing? Hmmmmmmmm…????” she asked, almost sing-songy. 

“…nothing…” mumbled Nen. He grabbed Midnight Star’s hand and the two of them went to a desk. “You can just start the lesson, mom.” 

Midnight Star watched Nen sit down, who then gestured to her to do the same. Midnight Star looked back and forth between Nen and Lady Medeba in a panick. She balled her fist and scrunched her face for brief moment, turning to Lady Medeba. “Nen was just apologizing for making fun of me and told me he actually likes my hair.” Her whole body heated up in embarassment. 

“MID! You don’t have to tell her that!” 

Lady Medeba whistled. “My son, APOLOGZING? Didn’t think I’d hear that.” 

Midnight Star looked to Nen, who was covering his head on his desk and grumbling. Lady Medeba was cackling in the background. I…I did something wrong, didn’t I? 

Lady Medeba gestured off to the wall with the textbooks. A stream of sparkling yellow light left her hand and went over to the bookshelf, pulling off three books. One went over to her, while two more hovered over to Midnight Star and Nen. One plopped down on the counter in front of Midnight Star, while the other hovered in the air above Nen, whose head was still down and covered by his arms. 

“Let’s begin our lesson for the day, shall we?” 

Midnight Star sat down and nodded. She looked over to Nen, watching him sit back up with a bit of a stretch. The textbook dropped down to the spot where his head had been resting. 

Medeba flicked her wrist with her index and middle finger extended over to the side. The textbooks all flipped open. Inside displayed miniscule text and beautifully embrodieed images. The books were all made out of fabric – not just the covers, but each of the pages as well. The ink was perfeclectly fused to the fabric pages and the images were vibrant in colour, although some threads had come loose and threatened to unweave the intricate pictures. 

The most prominet illustration on the page took up half a page – it was numerous merpeople and human figures. The sun was shining down and some people stood on land, while merpeople were underneath the water. The ones closer to the surface, however, appeared to be in th midst of a transformation – they had a loose whirlpool around them and their fins were beginning to look a heck of a lot more like legs. It wasn’t the easiest to make out in the two-tone ocloured scheme of dark blue and gold, but it was noticible enough. 

Midnight Star gently touched the image on the textbook with her fingers, just like she had with the seaweed. She felt each individual thread and the tightly embroidered surface that helped to create such a tight illustration. She could feel herself glowing inside. “Ah,” she said under her breath. The gift Aquavians possess. Her eyes popped open and her chest lifted. A smile spread across her face. “Oooh.” The festival is soon, isn’t it? 

Lady Medeba pulled a small iron cauldron onto the desk in front of her. She filled it with slime and numerous other ingredients that had been in different shaped vials. After a stir and a puff of bubbles, She glanced at the textbook and began circling her hands over the cauldron. Out frrom the mixture came light. The light swirled and soon formed merpeople figures. 

“Aquavie has always traded with the surface. A long time ago, when it was but a mer small kingdom, still growing and expanding into the grandness that it is today, Aquavians traded with its nearby land neighbors. From shells to fish, we traded with the surface. One day, a terrible famine struck the land-neighbors and Aquavians were quick to aid them in their time of need,” summarized Lady Medeba. The lights moved around like a movie scene, explaining each and every word she spoke in detail. “After a year of aid, the land-neighbors greatly thanked the Aquavians for their help and gifted Aquavie a large piece of land. Brought closer together than ever before, many Aquavians and the land-neighors mated and bore a new race of shapeshifting merpeople. With the new ability, other merpeople throughout the ocean flocked to Aquavie for the chance their own offspring would be blessed with such a trait. The kingdom greatly expanded in numerous ways and became what it is today.” 

As Medeba gently closed her hand, the light faded and rained back down into the cauldron. “And that’s why every year, we celebrate both Aquavie’s unique trait and that our kingdom is both land and sea.” 

Midnight Star let out a romantic sigh. Wow – we wouldn’t have our legs if it wasn’t for our ancestors and their help with the land. I can’t even imagine how it would be without having legs! She looked down at her tail, rubbing her fingers over her shimmering blue scales. Oh goodness, I hope I can go up this year. It’s been… She began counting on her fingers, running through numerous events over the past few years in her life. 

POKE 

Midnight Star jumped, looking over at Nen. The shark boy was leaning on one hand, while pointing towards the chalkboard with the other. Midnight Star blushed, looking forward, seeing Medeba smirking. 

“Right on cue.” 

Midnight Star covered her face. “Ooooh, sorry, Lady Medeba!” 

Medeba chuckled. “You do this every year – it’s to be expected. It’s a lovely story and the idea that we wouldn’t have legs otherwise really makes you wonder.” 

Medeba flicked her hand to the chalkboard and began to draw a diagram. “The first encounter with the land-neighbors was by complete accident, when one of our people in the earliest of days had been caught in a fishing net…” 

*** 

Midnight Star and Nen both collapsed on their desk. 

“I thought she’d never shut up,” grumbled Nen. 

“Don’t say that about your mom.” 

“But she just kept yapping…” 

“It was…a perfectly timed history lesson.” 

“I know. It’s the same thing every year with slightly different wording.” 

They both let out a sigh. 

Midnight Star sat back up and placed her hands inside of her lap. She threw her headback and looked up at the textured ceiling of the study. “I can’t remember when I last when up to the surface. I think it’s been 3 or 4 years…” 

“6.” 

“Huh?”

“6,” repeated Nen. “You haven’t been up there for 6 years.”

Midnight Star leered at Nen. How does he know that? Am I missing something? It’s been that long?? 

Her cheeks mirrored Nen’s slightly pink cheeks. “I…I remember,” said Nen. “because I had wanted to go, but I couldn’t because my mom had a retreat that week that she dragged me along on. I still remember the date too: [August] 6, 20XX. I was so mad I couldn’t go.” Nen leaned on his hand once more, covering his mouth with it. “I wouldn’t stop complaining, so my mom had to use a silence spell on me.” 

Midnight Star’s mouth dropped. “She used what?!

“A silence spell.” 

“Really?”

“Really.” Nen hung is head. “That’s why I don’t complain too much around her anymore.” 

Midnight Star stifled laughter. Nen, being purposely silenced? Goodness, I would have loved to see that! 

Nen glared at Midnight Star. “I really wanted to go to the surface, alright?” 

Midnight Star grabbed the sides of her overskirt, hanging her head. “I’m sorry…” 

Nen hissed. “Stop saying ‘sorry’!”

“EEP!” 

After a moment of awkward silence, Midnight Star folded her arms and nudged Nen. Nen sat up and turned to her. The two locked eyes. “Did you get to go up afterward?” asked Midnight Star. 

Nen frowned. “No. I still haven’t been either.” 

“Huh?” 

“I haven’t been yet.” 

“Never?” 

“Nope.” 

Midnight Star gasped, mouth gapping open. She then grabbed his arm and leaned forward, into his face. Nen drew back the most he could with how he was seated. “Oh my goodness, we should go!” 

“Uh…yeah.” 

Midnight Star, realizing how much in Nen’s space she had been in, coiled back. She whispered a “sorry” under her breath and lifted up her shoulders. “The surface is really beautiful – I don’t get to go all that often because I’m expected to stay near the castle grounds, but I’m hoping to go back up soon.” She clasped her hands together. “I’m praying I get chosen to go up this year.” 

Nen gave her his shark-toothy smile. “I’ll pray I’ll go up with you.” 

Midnight Star giggled. She leaned a bit more into Nen’s face. “If we don’t get chosen, then did you want to go up together someday?” 

Nen lit up. “Of course! When we’re both free!” 

“Yeah!” said Midnight Star. “Hahaha…ha….” She frowned. “When will be free enough to go up to the surface?” 

“Hmm…well, we get to choose our honeymoon, right?” 

“Yeah, I think so. That’s what happened with Coral Kelp.” 

“Then if we can’t go anytime soon, we’ll go for our honeymoon.” Nen extended his pinky to Midnight Star. 

Midnight Star stared at it for a moment before jolting with realization at what exactly he was doing. She extended her own pinky and wrapped it around his. “Yeah, let’s do that.” The two nodded both their heads and hands in agreement with each other. 

After a few seconds, the two took their hands back. Midnight Star watched as Nen shivered with excitement. “Oh man,” said Nen. “I’d swim all around this place with how happy I am, but mom’s gonna be back —”

“Are you two lovebirds ready to start the next lesson?” Lady Medeba asked, swimming in from the doorframe. 

Nen sunk into his seat. “..now…”

Midnight Star let out a quiet chuckle before turning forward. She placed her chin in her hands and looked up at the ceiling. Her mind drifted off into fantasies of the surface world and all the places she would take Nen…and how he’d look with legs. 

*** 

Shell horns sounded throughout the large hall. Midnight Star was seated farthest to the right of the room if your back was facing the door. The large shell seat she sat in was well-cushioned and comfortable, but Midnight Star herself was not. No matter how many times she sat in front of the entire castle during one of these meetings, she could never get used to it. Her nerves shivered up and down and body and her stomach rolled around, albeit gently. The only person she felt worse for was Princess Etoile, her oldest brother’s wife, who seemed even more uncomfortable than she did. 

Midnight Star and her siblings all sat in order of their birth, with the lone exception to Princess Etolie, who sat just behind Prince Coral Kelp. From left to right sat her eldest brother Coral Kelp; her eldest sister Glitter Light; her second eldest sister Aqua Blue; her second eldest brother Rising Current; and her third eldest sister Peaceful Song. Behind them on the high-rise shell thrones sat their parents, King Ocean Sphere and Queen Naida. 

Midnight Star gave a glance over to Nen, who stood behind the thrones beside his mother. His normally naked top wore a ruffled shirt and vest in a style similar to his mother’s. Midnight Star couldn’t but giggle at the strange sight. Her eyes were quickly drawn to the rather mismatched, thready belt and pouch that hugged his waist. He couldn’t have taken that off? She asked herself. The thought, however, was only a momentary distraction from her nerves that were attempting to get her attention back. 

“HEAR YE, HEAR YE, KING OCEAN SPHERE AND QUEEN NAIDA HAVE SUMMONED ALL WHO ARE PRESENT IN THE KINGDOM TODAY! YOUR ATTENTION IS NEEDED BY OUR HIGHNESSES. THE MEETING SHALL COMMENCE!” shouted Lesia, one of the horn blowers. Her voice echoed throughout the hall, bouncing off the windows and walls. 

“Thank you, Lesia,” thanked King Ocean Sphere. He rose up from his shell chair and raised his arms. “Good day to everyone. I hope the morning and afternoon has been treating you well.” 

A wave of confirmation rose all around the room. A smile spread across her face. I wish I could turn around…dad’s always so casual. She held back her laughter and kept her head forward as she listened to her father continue his speech.

“Ah, yes! As far as I can tell, the day has been wonderful so far. My day has as well, thank you so much for asking.” 

Laughter erupted in the throneroom.

Queen Naida coughed. 

King Ocean Sphere lowered his arms. “As you know, the Annual Aquavie Land-Sea festival is in a month from now. We have been planning this event since last year, as it is to be the 2000th year, if the legend is to be accurate, that Aquavie has had land to call our own and the ability to walk upon the shore. Each and every one of you has an important role to play in this years event.” 

Queen Naida stood up from her own chair and opened up a book. “We are here to assign you all your duties for this year’s festival. Please pay attention, as some roles have changed. Roles will be posted on the bulletin board an hour after this meeting.” 

Midnight Star pressed her hands together in her lap. Please, please, PLEASE let me go up to the shore this year, pleeeeeeeeeeease…

“Prince Coral Kelp and Princess Etoile, you are to manage the shoreline entrance way.” 

“Yes, mother.” 

“Glitter Light, Rising Current – you both are in charge of ballroom festivities.” 

“Yes!” 

“Aqua Blue, you are to prepare the castle town festivities.” 

“Got i– I mean, YES!” 

Most of the courtroom giggled. Midnight Star wanted to giggle herself, but she didn’t want to break her prayer. Pleeeease the land, PLEASE! 

“Peaceful Song and Midnight Star…” 

Midnight Star tightly shut her eyes and bit her lip. She pressed her hands together has hard as she could. PLEEEEEEEEEAAAAASSSSEEEEEE! 

“You both are in charge of handling our foreign guests from the other oceans.” 

“Yes,” confirmed Peaceful Song.

“…y-yes.” Midnight Star hung her head. 

“Lady Medeba and Nen…”

Midnight Star glanced over her shoulder at Nen, watching as he quickly stood up straight. I’m going to be SO jealous if he gets to go up! 

“You both are in charge of facilitating storytelling within the town square.” 

“Of course, as we do every year! Right, Nen?” 

“Y-yeah.” Nen nodded. 

Midnight Star smiled. Good! She paused for a moment and looked back forward, staring at the ground in front of her. Wait, ‘good’? Why would I say that? WOW, something is wrong with me. I should be happy if he could go up…but wait, would they really have him go up? And hmm…huh. Now I wonder what our duties will be once we’re married??? I wonder what my parents used to do. Is it normal for us to do things together? 

Midnight Star’s line of thought continued to run off into a mess of unnecessary overthinking as her mother continued to rattle off the names of every single person present in the courtroom at the moment and the roles that they were to play in this year’s festival, celebrating the meeting of Land and Sea that Aquavie represents. 

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