I didn't understand how my daughter knew so much about the human world until I found the stack of magazines she managed to slip in between a few dictionaries. Who was Harry Styles? And..Finn Wolfhard?
I was just starting to flip through them when I heard a squeak from behind me. "I'm so sorry, sire. I didn't mean for you to find those!" I whipped around and turned to face the palace librarian, Merle, whose pale cheeks burned bright red. Her sapphire irises pierced mine. She flipped her lime green tail in fear. I offered her a kind smile.
"You got these for my daughter?" I held out one of the colorful things. She nodded, and pushed a light purple, frizzy lock out of her eyes. "Y-Yes..I put some..magic film over them, so they wouldn't disintegrate down here."
"Very impressive." I grinned. "But how did you get them?"
She rubbed her forearm, which was covered in glittery tattoos, depicting seashells of all size and color. "The surface reeks with things humans throw away in vain." She slapped a hand over her mouth and whimpered. "I..I'm sorry, I-you're half mortal.."
I wanted to laugh. If I could, I would have denounced my mortal roots. I could not be mad at her for something that was the truth.
"I'm amazed by your resourcefulness." I complimented. "You've clearly made my daughter very happy."
Merle smiled her cheeky smile, and tapped a finger to her glossy blue lips. "They've made me curious as well. Is..it.." Her gaze flicked to the floor. "..true that you are taking her to the surface?"
"Well, I did offer her the chance to go, and I must keep up my promises." I set the magazine back on the shelf and leaned against it. "After all, being a father comes before being king."
I felt a grin creep up on my lips as I watched her eyes shine. I had made her heart melt, and I knew it as she giggled behind her slender hands and swam off, claiming she had to go and sort some tomes that had just been freshly scavenged from the ocean floor. I felt my cheeks; they had gone warm, too.
I heard a little tinkle from behind the shelf I was leaned up against, and Anastasia poked her round, freckled face around the side. "Smooth moves, Dad."
"Oh, please." I stiffened. "I must get to a meeting with my court. They will be in charge when we are on sabbatical."
Ana, oh, my Ana, went bolting down the corridor, screaming in utter delight. Merle distracted her with a copy of The Little Mermaid she had rescued from a tidepool. I headed out to the front hall, where I'm met by Aria, my right-hand man, my advisor, my best friend. He flicks his cyan tail and is by my side in a flash.
"The High Court doesn't think highly of your decision, my liege." He ran a hand through his velvety red hair and blinked his brown eyes rapidly.
"Well, they will. I gave my daughter this chance, and I will pull through, no matter what they think."
Aria raised a slick brow and wrinkled his nose. "Andreus, I can see the lies in your eyes."
I hung my head in mocking shame. "Alas, my dear friend. But you know I cannot break a promise I made to my only child."
He raises his nose in the air and scoffed. "Oh, that girl. You've always been about..her."
I felt my brows furrow. "Aria, please do not bring this up now. We're about to walk into my court."
"Andy, you cannot deflect the risks in what you are doing!" He swishes in front of me, fists clenched. "Please, consider how this will be received by your subjects!"
"This is for my daughter." I hissed. "My daughter is my everything." And with that, I stormed in through the smooth marble doors, faced by the stoic faces of my court, my mind racing to make a case.