Uma, he whispers, and it sounds like a prayer.
She knows that she has divine blood — ichor — flowing through her veins. It’s one of the few things her mother has told her, during Ursula’s good days. Tales of how the daughter of the sea god was banished so her own brother could rule, tales of how she tricked her own niece into signing a contract that led to Triton’s fall.
But most days, Uma doesn’t feel like a demigoddess, she feels like a girl stuck in a cage. A feeling that strangles her like her mother’s tentacles wrapped around her throat. If she were truly divine, then why did so many people look at her like she was nothing more than the little girl with shrimp falling down around her face? Why did a stupid little half-faery get everything, when she was supposed to be the goddess? It just didn’t make sense, so most of the time Uma chose to ignore her mother’s stories in favor of writing her own.
And when the insecurity rose? She turned to her crew, demanding for them to chant her name in order to soothe her troubled mind.
She’d turn to her first mate, and watch him fall to his knees for her, as if worshipping at her alter, before whispering her name as if it was water for his parched throat. In these moments, only these moments, she feels immortal, and she loves it. He reminds her that she is not human, she has never been human, and that she deserves so much more than what this island can offer her.
She is his goddess, and that is the only thing that matters in these moments.
Uma, he groans, and it sounds like desperation.
Not that she minds, pulling his mouth to hers and cursing just how short she is for the millionth time. Not when the desperation is for her, and his hands are pushing off her jacket and pulling her closer. They’re in her cabin, taking advantage of the privacy it affords them. (As if the entire crew doesn’t suspect this by now. Neither of them are any good at being subtle.)
Part of her knows that what they feel for each other is more than what they admit to, even behind closed doors. But love is a word that scares her, and so she hides behind her plans and her ambition and her refusal to be stuck in a life others chose for her. It’s easier for her to pretend it’s only physical, that it’s just a human (she is not human, but she ignores that when she chooses to) craving to feel wanted. She trusts him enough to not push her too far, to not try and shift this into demeaning her role as captain.
He helps her up onto a table, a low moan of her name as she kisses his neck, and oh how she loves that. There is no doubt in her mind that she is the one he wants, that she is the one that haunts his dreams, that he is right here with her in this moment. It’s a power her mother had spoken of before, one that the daughter of a vain queen had carried in her hips, but one Uma had rarely been comfortable enough to use. But with him it’s easy.
With him, all it takes is one touch, and he’s putty in her hands.
It may be selfish of her to do this, to play at something she’s still too scared to think about in the greater scheme of things. But they are villains, aren’t they, and selfishness is just another class they had taken in school.
Uma, he growls, and it sounds like jealousy.
Of course he meets her in her cabin. Word of her return probably didn’t take that long to reach him, and she had lingered on the beach long enough to give him time to beat her there. Never mind that she’s tired, that she’s swum further in one day than she had ever swum before, that she had lost yet again to her rival. No, now she has to deal with her first mate (her best friend, her lover maybe, if they ever defined things) scowling at her as she walks through the door in a heavy dress that doesn’t feel like her.
All she wants is to get out of it, to wash the sand off of her skin, and to maybe even get some rest.
But instead, she has to deal with a grumpy Harry Hook, and it’s the final straw on a long and stressful day. And so she snaps at him, pushing past to try and find something clean to change into. The captain, instead of the girl she often is with him; because the girl is close to breaking down, and she just can’t let him witness that now.
He brings up the king, the optimistic boy she had tied to the mast of this very ship earlier in the day, and she freezes. Is that what this is about, had her right hand man actually fallen for the act she had put on for the Auradonians? A heavy sigh fills the air, and she shakes her head, missing the feeling of her braids moving with the action. Part of her knows that she should reassure him, remind him that she had asked him to trust her to have a plan. She can’t afford to lose him over something like this.
And so, she tells him to help her out of her dress, a request disguised as an order to give her the time to figure out how to word this explanation.
Uma, he murmurs, and it sounds like hope.
She stares at the document in her hand, signed off by the king of Auradon and his own lawyers, and just awaiting her own signature. The result of months of negotiation, with her storming out of the room more than once, and it was real. They were getting off the Isle of the Lost, for good this time. And unlike Mal and her gang, Uma had done it without her mother’s reputation, but through her own actions.
They are surrounded by their crew, by the other kids they had picked up and given a home. The people they had made a promise to — to get the hell off this rock if it killed them — and here they were, keeping that promise. It was almost hard to imagine, despite all the years she had spent saying that they were going to do exactly this. Sure, there were conditions that she would rather not have to have given in to (it was going to kill her to not have her ship to escape to for the last year of schooling, but if it meant she got it after graduating, she would have to make that sacrifice), but that was compromise.
What mattered here was that there was a chance that she could get out of there for good.
Freedom, that was what this scroll represented, and that was what she had craved for so long. Out of instinct, she turned to face the one person who had stood by her side from the very beginning. Ignoring the cheers of the others around them, just staring into his blue eyes, drowning in their depths. He says her name again, and the rest of the world goes silent as she leans into his half-embrace.
They really did it.
Uma, he says, and it sounds like love.
She doesn’t know where he learned to dance like this, or if he just bullied someone into giving him lessons so that he could hold her like this. And she is so self conscious of the dress (Evie had sworn that it would make her ‘mystery date’s’ jaw drop, and Harry had not disappointed on that front) and how she didn’t want to trip over the back of the slanted hem. Give her an Isle-style rager any day, this kind of party still made her feel like she didn’t belong.
That, and remind her of the fact that the last time she was at one, she was playing a role.
But this time she hadn’t come in to take a king’s hand, but with her fingers linked with a pirate’s. With someone who actually knew her inside and out already. Who knew that she liked crepes and seashell charms, who recognized when she hadn’t been sleeping. Someone who had seen her at her lowest, and still knelt before her in awe.
Maybe someday, she could actually speak the words that got caught in her throat every time she came close. For now, however, she’d just let him lead her around the floor, show those Auradonians that they could blend in fine if they chose. (Most of the time, they chose to do the opposite, because they were Isle born and bred and they weren’t about to pretend otherwise.) Resting her head on his chest, listening to the beat of his heart, her eyes fell closed. This was good, maybe even enough for now.
Harry, she says, and it sounds like everything she can’t say.