He was drowning, and it was all her fault—and there was nothing she could do about it. The song that had echoed in her mind for the last two weeks now raged in her tympani, and she knew he wouldn't be able to resist for long.
"Aren't you pleased?" Terrine whistled from right beside her. "Haven't you been biding your time, saving him for us to be able to prove that we are worthy to become your pod?"
Jasper left off singing and moved to taunt her. Keerah's voice was strong enough to keep working on wearing down Kellan's willpower by herself.
"Of course it's what she wanted!" She sneered at Terrine. "There could be no other reason a siren would ever want to spend so much time above the surface. She had to win his trust so that he would be an easy mark for us!" She sent piercing tones of mocking derision rippling through the water, even as Adeliyah bucked and pulled with all her might against the chains, shaking her head furiously. "Surely you didn't think we wouldn't find out, did you, Adeliyah? A siren's throat changes to be able to sing like we do; you might not have noticed, but your foolish attempts to try a human manner of speaking have slowly changed the sound of your voice. Kyrran told us that you might be visiting the surface and vocalizing out of the water, so we did some searching between boat raids... And what did we find?" She turned back to where Terrine had joined Keelah. "A witless worm on a hook!"
He was fading. She could see his eyes rolling back, his body going limp; soon he would lose the ability to resist altogether.
Isn't that what she wanted? But Adeliyah had just begun to understand him, and the part of humanity he represented. His accusation of her in their last conversation still gnawed at her; it really was unfair to keep drowning so many people in a futile attempt at trying to satiate cravings for vengeance—the more they reaped, the more they craved. But how to make the other sirens see?
Kellan's body had nearly reached the floor of the bay, when Adeliyah saw his legs snap rigid. A new voice joined the other three, subtle at first, but growing and swelling, deeper and stronger times than the ones resonating all around her. Kellan's head came up, and the knot of sirens began to swirl in agitation as one by one they realized he was not only emitting careful tones underwater—but matching the melody they sang! Kellan sang his own heartsong, patiently humming out the music he heard, not understanding it, but knowing enough from his interactions with Adeliyah that he could effectually cancel out the effect of the siren song.
Jasper lunged at him with a scream, "HE MUST BE STOPPED!"
Kellan dodged her attack, lashing out with his feet at her midsection, and grabbing her thin, filmy tail with both hands. The sirens all gathered above him and behind him, cutting off his escape in every direction. Adeliyah knew that they would grab him no matter where he swam—except one direction. She thrashed to get his attention, and held his gaze as she do often did. Kellan was still matching the notes of his heartsong as best he could, but he could at least ask the question with his eyes, as the sirens hovered behind him. More were on their way, and soon the two would be cut off completely.
Kellan stopped singing and lunged for the bound siren, reaching toward her head. Adeliyah felt something snap at the back of her neck, and suddenly, Kellan held her locket on a broken chain. He yanked out the gag, and nodded to Adeliyah, holding the locket against the lock of her chain, and turning it like a key. The action produced a noise, the one that Adeliyah needed to sound the mechanism of the lock. She began singing the "song" of the lock, feeling the tumblers loosen and bend, the way timbers bent on the ships she sank. Meanwhile, Jasper and Keelah had regained a hold on Kellan, and they were frantically trying to smother his mouth so that he would stop singing and drown properly. Adeliyah sang till she saw the lock fall away, and her chains slipped off as she floated free. She did not hesitate; as soon as she could swim, she shot straight for the struggling human, wrapping her arms around him and carrying him far away from the angry sirens. She swam until she had no strength left, and she had reached shallow waters.
Both were so worn out from the ordeal that they let the current carry them onto the beach, still wrapped in each other's arms.
Kellan gasped as the fresh air wafted over him. He looked at the pale-blue figure lying next to him. Melody... Adelaide; this former woman so cruelly mistreated had used her fantastic abilities to help him—and now those changes she had endured that made her so powerful under the water were beginning to hasten her death outside of it. Her breath came slow and raspy; her skin began to grey and darken as she suffocated on air that her siren body was not accustomed to processing. She watched him with those enchanting eyes—so full of trust and longing.
In that moment, Kellan thought of a song, a pleasant little nonsense ditty that he felt sounded familiar, but he couldn't think where he had heard it. Maybe it would be of some comfort to the dying siren, so he began to sing the words as they came to his mind.
"My love is the ocean,
So vast and deep;
My heart is a locket,
Your love to keep.
Live on, my love,
May your heart be true,
For let it be said
That I love you."
He saw Adelaide's eyes roll in her head, but she reached up and stroked his face with her rubbery, webbed hand.
"Si... Ssss.. Sing," she gasped.
Kellan sang the song again, and again, as each repetition seemed to give Adelaide strength—no, more than strength, he finally realized.
As he watched and sang, Adelaide seemed to transform before his eyes, her filmy skin taking on a softer appearance, her grey skin shifting to white and then taking on a pinker shade of human skin. He kept singing until pale human hands grabbed his shoulders, and Adelaide gave a tremendous gasp through full, human lips. She was no longer a siren, but a woman now, wearing a dress badly damaged by the water. Kellan smiled and stroked the bits of algae and seaweed out of her dark hair. Her eyes no longer bulged, but had receded to normal human size, taking on a pretty grey-blue color. He supported her as she sat up to survey her newly-restored human form.
"Kellan," she gasped in a sweet, musical voice, "you saved me."
Kellan wrapped his arms around her. "You brought us away from the sirens, Adelaide," he acknowledged.
She shook her head. "No, I mean you saved me from being a siren!"
Kellan frowned and looked at her. "I did? But how? And what was that song?"
Adelaide smiled. "It was my heartsong. No one ever sang it before. You did, and it brought me back."
"I sang your heartsong?" Kellan repeated. A smile teased around his lips. "Does that mean I have you in my thrall now?"
Adelaide smiled in return. "Yes, Kellan; now and forever, my heart completely belongs to you."
He brought her to her feet and, slowly, they came together for a kiss. When they pulled apart, Kellan whispered, "Sing mine."
"What?" Adelaide whispered back.
"Sing my heartsong," Kellan replied. "I know you heard it, even if you never could sing it as a siren."
Adelaide nodded, burying her face in his shoulder. "I did hear it, every day from the moment you dove into the water. But I couldn't sing it, because I couldn't stand the thought of you drowning, after watching you save that man."
Kellan held her close. "So even then, you wanted me to live."
Kellan reached down and grabbed her hands. "There is no chance of me drowning now, Adelaide. Just as I sang your heartsong out of love for you, I believe you can sing mine out of love, not revenge. Sing!"
Adelaide opened her mouth and sang the heartsong that had pounded in her ears all this while. It poured out of her mouth, and when Kellan joined in with her heartsong, the two melodies became one symphony of hearts.
And they both loved each other to the end of their days.
-"The Glow" (A 3-Part Story)