The evening following that conversation, Morveren hugged him goodnight. She threw Matthew’s borrowed hooded coat over the couch. She tiptoed past the black boots he’d given to her years back; Jaimie never was a heavy sleeper. Her week was ending and she needed to leave early.
She swept out onto the rocks, heaving little ones into the sea. She screamed out to Llyr in her steep descent. All those returns were not loving, but tense. Each time the sea king’s daughter returned, she glided against the bottom of the ocean and into a hidden cave’s mouth. Glossy scales and aquamarine tears of massive size embedded the seafloor. She retold the beauty and oddities of humans, Llyr couldn’t be bothered to even pretend he cared. At first, Matthew never came up. The next time, however, she couldn’t lie when he asked where she’d been staying.
Tonight, she hollered at the sea like a madwoman, vying for attention. Unable to catch it, Morveren sat waiting for lightning and a looming sky. Not ten minutes later, the sea dragged her home. Her legs dovetailed numbly and feet elongated into a pearlescent fin. With fluid movements, she coasted to the underwater abode. Once in the cave, she reprimanded,
“Why are you intent on me returning? You never seem to care about any of it! Why send me in the first place?”
“The sea is your place. You have a home, and family. You have a pod.”
“The sea is lonely.”
“I let you go because you seem unhappy. I’m trying to help you by giving you something. Are you saying you want to stay on land?”
“I don’t know.”
“Morveren. I can’t fundamentally change you forever. You’re not human. You weren’t made to be human.”
With this, she shelved her tears. She was already rehearsing in her head a conversation with Matthew. But after a while, the tears came. Staring at the jewels, she decided to gather them and take them to him the next time the tide slipped her to shore. He could make a fortune and go eastward. Or anywhere he desired.
During her time beneath the surface, she’d tried to enjoy herself, spinning up tales and composing melodies when idle. She swam at her usual rocket speed, passing dolphins and other merfolk. All things she’s done for two decades. Some evenings she sped to the Isles of Scilly, meeting up with friendlier fish and selkies. She adored the puffins and shared little snacks with them.
King Llyr was more tolerated than liked, and Morveren suffered because of it. Hours before she departed, she demanded independence, stating she’d never permanently stay underwater. His heart torn, Llyr took it all in silence. While he hated the idea of Matthew, he knew of the happy influence the human man wrought. He’d tried to let her make as many of her own decisions as possible, but thought her ungrateful.