Aladdin’s Family Tree

If you’ve been following my blog, you might have seen my collection of what-ifs about missing Disney parents. Out of all of the movies, I have focused a lot on Aladdin because 1) Aladdin is one of the Fab Four of Disney movies (along with The Lion King, Beauty & the Beast, and The Little Mermaid, for those who don’t know), 2) I really like it, and 3) we get the unique opportunity to meet a parent from both sides of a relationship, so filling in the missing pieces is a lot easier. Here’s a collection of the Aladdin ones in handy family tree format. Check out their stories in the links below!

Aladdin family tree copy

(Click to enlarge)

Aliyah (Disney What-ifs: Jasmine’s Mother)
Samira (Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Mother)
Layla (Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s daughter)

Related Posts:
A Friend Like Him
Disney Without Magic: Aladdin
Disney What-ifs: Belle’s Mother
Disney What-ifs: Ariels’ Mother

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Disney What-ifs: Belle’s Mother

Sorry, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any original content (or content at all, for that matter). My posts take a ton of work and video games require a lot less effort, so… Yeah.

Anyway, here’s another post about the most elusive of all creatures: Disney mothers. This time, Belle’s mother, absent from Beauty & the Beast.

Belle's Mom copy

Rosalie loved books, though it was hardly surprising. Born the oldest of three daughters to a renowned literary scholar at the university in Paris, she had access to one of the finest libraries in all of France from a very young age. Though, as a woman, she was unable to officially attend the university, her father strongly believed in educating all of his children with a strict curriculum of mathematics, literature, philosophy and natural science, and allowed Rosalie to sit in on all of his classes.

And so it was that Rosalie met a bright young man at the university, Maurice, who was studying the sciences and who fancied himself an amateur inventor. She could not help but be fascinated with his creations, some of them impractical but all of them imaginative. There was also such an earnest enthusiasm in him that she found infectious, and soon she found herself falling for him. She helped root his inventions in reality with pragmatic thinking and lots of library research, and he kept the sometimes too-serious Rosalie young at heart.

After knowing each other for two years, Maurice proposed to Rosalie. He had created a contraption for the task: a box designed to open with a crank that revealed an expanding sign bearing his proposal. Unfortunately, the mechanism had jammed and failed to open. After several minutes, a lot of elbow grease, quite a bit of hammering and a bit of help from Rosalie herself, she could at last give her emphatic yes.

Rosalie and Maurice were joined a few years later by their daughter, Belle, who had inherited her father’s imagination and her mother’s beauty. Soon, Belle became as voracious a reader as her mother, and the young girl spent countless hours in the university library alongside her mother. Belle also regularly assisted her father with his inventions, fetching tools and reaching into small spaces that his own hands could not fit inside. Rosalie regularly had to be the grounding force when Belle and Maurice were swept up in idealistic fancies–Belle was constantly fantasizing about all of the places she had read about and wanted to visit, and Maurice encouraged her dreams by designing a mechanized hot air balloon to take the journey. Fortunately, Rosalie managed to stop them before Maurice could construct the device that would have undoubtedly blown up half of Paris.

Rosalie loved Paris, loved the university in which she had grown up, but the city streets were dirty, the winters harsh, and Rosalie was often sick. Belle would read at her mother’s bedside whenever a particularly violent cough would keep her bedridden. Soon enough, when struck by a severe bout, her doctor recommended fresh, country air as the only likely cure for her persistent illness. Sad to leave Paris, the family moved to a small, provincial town far from Paris. They chose a lovely house on a private lane with plenty of room in the basement for Maurice’s inventions and a lovely den in which Belle could read the few books they could bring with them.

However, it was at her mother’s bedside that Belle spent most of her time, reading to her as she always did during her convalescence. They no longer had the entire library contents of the university at their disposal, but Belle was happy to travel into town to the bookkeeper’s and was his most loyal customer. Belle would return home and tell her mother of the happenings in town–which were always the same–and of the people–who always seemed to treat the book-loving inventor’s daughter as something of an anomaly. At least the townfolk were kind, and always asked after Rosalie’s health, even though few had actually met the bedridden woman.

Rosalie was most entertained by Belle’s stories of Gaston, a local hunter who had been enamored with her since their very first day in their new town and had been pursuing her with gusto. “Perhaps you should consider accepting him,” Rosalie suggested one day. “It sounds like he is a handsome young man, and as a hunter your family would never want for food…”

“Mother,” Belle replied with a smirk, “Gaston does not even like to read.”

“How positively primeval,” said her mother, and nothing further was said on the matter. In fact, Gaston was so out of the question as a suitor to Rosalie that, from then on, she always referred to him as “that hunter.”

As Rosalie’s illness grew worse, she did her best as the realist in the family to inure her daughter to the possibility of her health not improving. She instructed Belle on the keeping of their finances, which had always fallen under Roslie’s purview– considering Maurice’s often scatterbrained behavior–and gave her advice on the managing of their household, most of which duties Belle had long since assumed.

“And make sure your father eats,” Rosalie had instructed. “When he gets caught up in a project, sometimes he forgets. And you will have to make certain that there is food on the table. I know the last thing you want to do is discourage your father’s ambitions, but no matter how revolutionary an invention of his could be, it will not bring any bread if it does not work. You need to keep him grounded when I am not here anymore.”

Despite the doctor’s hope for her improved health in the fresh air, Rosalie passed away just a few months after moving to the country. Belle had wanted to return to Paris, but in the end they decided to remain in their new home, if only for the sake of their finances. The city was expensive, far more so than the expense to travel to fairs in neighboring towns where Maurice could exhibit and possibly sell his more successful inventions.

Rosalie’s family coped each in their own way. Maurice thrust himself even more deeply into his work, trying to keep himself occupied to keep the grief at bay. Belle disappeared into her books, the more fantastical the better, to take her away from the banality of life without her mother. One day, she decided, she would travel the world, to find the adventure she was always reading about in the books that she and her mother had once shared.

 

Artist’s Notes:
So, I like to reveal trade secrets about the design of these characters because I spend so much time trying to get it right that I want someone to know how hard I worked. It’s difficult with animated characters to make the parents similar enough to their children that they’re recognizable, but not look like carbon copies of each other. (Frozen, anyone? They didn’t even try.) Unlike with most of my Disney mothers, she is not a composite of other people, at least not in the face. She is all Belle. It’s interesting because I spent a lot of time staring at screen shots trying to find the right angle that I started to notice the differences in art style between animators, or for different shots. Far shots they don’t have a lot of detail, but for super close-ups, there’s just so much of it. This is the shot I used in the end (left) and compare it to a more “typical” Belle look (right):

Closeup Far shot

The second one is a lot more cartoony and she looks a lot younger, too. It’s not just the hair, either. Granted, Belle is squinting in the first picture, but her eyes aren’t typical the Disney-fied ginormous things, and her lips are way more pouty, the nose is more elegant… So, yeah, I definitely picked the first photo for the base, altered the face shape a bit, picked some different lips from another shot and shifted the eyes so they were actually looking in the correct direction.

The gray hair was a challenge. At first, I didn’t have any, but then I realized Maurice’s hair is all white. My reasoning is that they probably waited a long time before having kids, or they just couldn’t until Belle decided to make her appearance. So, since they were maybe a bit of an older couple, even if Rosalie was younger, they could both be going gray. Here’s the original without the gray, which I like better, but that’s just because I really wasn’t happy with the stripey-ness:

Belle's Mom copy

I tried to look at some other older Disney characters for reference but, like Maurice, they just go for the all-white or all-gray look, probably because it’s easier to animate. One exception is Mulan’s mom, who has two big swaths of gray on the sides, which really does work for her hair style, but Rosalie’s was so wavy that doing some stripes at the temples wasn’t going to look right. Even Ursula’s got two gray stripes on the sides, but her hair’s white to begin with, so big deal.

Her body and blanket are actually Cinderella’s. I tried to make my own bumps under the sheets, but it wasn’t going well, so I cheated.

Also, yay for me continuing my streak of not having mothers die in childbirth!

Related Posts:
Disney What-Ifs: Jasmine’s Mother
Beauty and the Beast Gender Swap
Disney Without Magic: Beauty and the Beast
Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney What-Ifs: Ariel’s Mother

Obligatory Copyright Notice: Beauty and the Beast, all of the character names and original images  belong to Disney. Rosalie is a creation by me and is a work of fan art. No copyright infringement is intended.

Disney What-ifs: Jasmine’s Mother

We’ve got a twofer today! Two of my different photoshop tropes: younger Disney characters (see previous: Young Triton) and missing Disney parents! We’ve got another missing mother, this time Jasmine’s mother, and a young Sultan.  Here is their story.

Jasmine's Mom copy

 

Aliyah had everything she could possibly want and more.  As the daughter of a powerful sultan, she had wealth, elegant clothes, sumptuous feasts, and a menagerie of exotic animals.  She had never left the palace her entire life but she didn’t care–who wanted to go out into the desert anyway? The palace was an oasis of luxury that she never cared to leave.

That isn’t to say that life wasn’t hard for her from time to time.  Her father the sultan was a hard man, a force to be reckoned with if you were unfortunate enough to be one of his enemies.  He was strict, though never outwardly cruel, and cared little for the pampering his wife gave to Aliyah.  He didn’t want her to be spoiled, often using words like “honor” and “duty” in long speeches that she endured but generally ignored until she was free once more to have servants dote upon her with peacock feather fans and plates of savory morsels.

Then there were the suitors–oh, the suitors!–with their mountains of gifts and their love letters filled with words of such passion.  Aliyah’s older brother, and heir to the throne, was overprotective of her to a fault, chasing the suitors away with his sword and threatening any who dare touch his sister.  That didn’t mean she didn’t steal a kiss or two from them when her brother was out of sight, or bat her eyes at them from across long feasting tables.  She adored their affections, drinking them in like fine wine and imagining which would be the one to ask for her hand.

Then, one day, everything changed.  Aliyah’s father informed her that he had arranged a marriage on her behalf with a prince of faraway Agrabah.  She had never heard of Agrabah, nor met this young prince.  He had not been one of her many suitors; what if he were ugly or, worse, boring?

Her pleas to her father fell upon deaf ears; his decision was final.  Her brother, once so protective, also turned his back on her when she asked him to intercede on her behalf.  Even her mother, who had always catered to her every whim, did nothing to help her daughter.  In the end, Aliyah had to reluctantly accept defeat, and watched as the servants packed up her every belonging to take with her into this new, uncertain life.

The journey to Agrabah was long, the wedding brief and the wedding feast lavish.  But soon enough, it was over.  The guests departed and her family only stayed long enough for the two sultans to discuss such tedious matters as the new alliance their children’s marriage had created.  Then she was alone.

Her new husband, Hakim, was not the dashing prince she had expected.  Short and squat, he seemed to devolve into nervous mumbles every time she was in his presence.  It was weeks before he said more than a sentence to her.  Even now that they were married, he seemed to spend more time playing with his animal figurines or stopping in at the menagerie to gaze upon the real thing.

The palace of Agrabah was far lonelier than she had expected as well.  Far from the bustling palace she had grown up in, with the lavish parties, the hordes of suitors, her father’s advisors and servants galore, there seemed to be very few people with which to socialize.  There was merely the sultan, Hakim, a few servants, some guards and…him.

His name was Jafar, a tall, mysterious man who served as the Sultan’s Grand Vizier and chief advisor.  This was the kind of man she had expected to marry, someone charismatic with a silken voice and silver tongue.  Jafar was a flatterer, to be sure, but that was one of the things Aliyah missed the most about home, to be loved and adored more than any other.

One day, Aliyah had confided her dissatisfaction to Jafar about her new life and her disappointment in her new husband.  “You want to go home, Princess,” replied Jafar, “and I want to help you to go home.  But alas, that is something far beyond my power.  But there is someone who can…” “Who?” “A genie…with the power to grant you any wish your heart desires.  It would be able to take you away from Agrabah without damaging this new alliance your marriage has formed.  But…it would require some assistance from you…”

Jafar explained that the location of the lamp was guarded by magic and that, legend says that when the two halves of an enchanted beetle medallion are joined, they will lead the way. “One of the halves is rumored to have been discovered by your great-grandfather. I have attempted to treat with your father the sultan many times over the years about the medallion, but my requests have been ignored.”

“But how am I supposed to get it?” Aliyah asked, doubtful.

Jafar merely grinned. “I thought you wanted to go home…”

Jafar explained the plan. Aliyah was married now; she could not just return home to live with her parents once more. She could, however, visit.  It was only fitting, Jafar explained, that her new husband travel with her to visit the family she had left behind, to see the home that had once been hers.  While there, she could investigate the matter of the talisman (“Discreetly, of course,” Jafar noted).  She went about organizing the journey.  Hakim jumped at the opportunity to see another land, making the arrangements with the sultan as Aliyah wrote to her parents to tell them the news.

Hakim spent the week-long journey peppering her with questions: What was the palace like? Did her family have a menagerie? Was the palace surrounded by a city, like Agrabah, or did it stand alone? Was it near the sea, or the desert? It was the most she had heard him speak since their vows on their wedding day.  She found it easy to talk about her home, telling stories of bustling court life and the games and antics of her childhood, her many brothers… He hung on her every word and for the first time in her life, she felt like someone was genuinely interested in what she had to say.  In her whirlwind of suitors and admirers, everything was false flattery to which she was expected to reciprocate with coy glances and secretive kisses.  No one had ever simply had a conversation with her.

Once they arrived and had settled in at the palace, Aliyah went about her search for the medallion, consulting with her father’s vizier, investigating old writings and making inquiries about precious artifacts discovered within the last few hundred years.  She was told the same legend that Jafar had alluded to–that there once was a genie’s lamp hidden in a place called the Cave of Wonders, which had been lost for millennia.  Aliyah’s great-grandfather had indeed found the beetle medallion, which matched the description of one half of the key.  Where the other half was, no one knew, just rumors and speculation.  The medallion was being kept in the palace vaults, but without permission from her father–unlikely–and no believable reason for her to enter even if he would agree, there was no way she could get her hands on the beetle key.

Aliyah and Hakim remained a month in her family’s palace, touring the area, catching up on recent news. Hakim tried his best to keep pace with Aliyah’s many brothers, but he was neither a good sword fighter, nor horseman, nor storyteller, nor much of anything.  Her brothers mocked Hakim when he was out of earshot, questioning the sultan’s sense at making a match for Aliyah with such an unfit husband.  Aliyah ignored their jibes at first, for she had long since thought the same, but as the days and weeks passed, she began to see him in a different light.  So what if he couldn’t ride, or fight or tell stories? There were other qualities that he had in spades: kindness, generosity, a gentle spirit and a love of animals.  Her brothers could be cruel when it suited them, much like their father, even to Aliyah; Hakim had never spoken a harsh word in his life, to Aliyah or anyone.  That realization put an end to the behind-the-back taunting of her brothers, and from then on, Aliyah defended and supported her husband in all matters.

One night, Hakim confessed that he had heard her brothers mocking him and apologized for being such a poor excuse for a husband.  He wasn’t handsome or eloquent or talented–if he wasn’t a prince he would never have hoped to end up with a woman like her.  “If you want,” he offered, “you can stay here and I will return to Agrabah.  Our alliance with you people will continue, but there doesn’t need to be a marriage to enforce it.” That’s when Aliyah realized it: she didn’t want to stay anymore.  “I want to go home,” she replied, “to Agrabah.”  So she returned, not with the medallion, but with her husband–not just in name but in truth, and with heart and mind, body and soul.

When Aliyah informed Jafar of what had occurred, that she hadn’t been able to access the medallion, he was vexed; when she told him that she no longer needed a genie for her happiness, he was furious.  Still, he took the news with a gracious smile and a few reassuring words. “Remember, Princess,” he warned, “that a time may come when a genie’s magic might come in handy…”

The months passed, with Aliyah soon giving birth to a beautiful daughter, which she and Hakim named Jasmine. Hakim doted on her as any father would, hoping to pass on his love of animals to Jasmine with a gift of a baby tiger named Rajah for a pet. Despite Aliyah’s fears that a tiger at full size could swallow young Jasmine whole, the two became fast friends.

Things suddenly changed for the worse one day when Jafar informed her that she and Hakim had been summoned to appear before the Sultan in his chambers. As Jafar went to find the prince, Aliyah went straight to the throne room, a decision that would forever change the course of her life.

The Sultan was alone, but not seated upon the carved elephant throne as she had expected, but out upon the balcony that overlooked the palace grounds to the streets of Agrabah beyond.  Despite the short stature that he had passed onto his son, the Sultan had managed to climb up onto the railing, balancing treacherously on its edge.  Aliyah yet out a cry of alarm and immediately ran to his aid, trying to help him, to pull him down from the ledge.  She had managed to grab him seconds before he would topple over the edge and yet he shouted furiously, “Let go of me!” over and over again, beating away her hands with his fists in hopes of breaking free.  Then, with a fateful cry, the Sultan slipped from her grasp and fell to the ground below.

Aliyah gasped, turning for the door that would lead her down and out to the front of the palace, only to find her way barred.  Just seconds before, Hakim had entered with Jafar at his side, having just arrived for the meeting with the Sultan that would never take place.  “Thank goodness you’re here,” Aliyah began, “we have to help the Sultan! He could be hurt! He could be–” She couldn’t speak the word.

Aliyah tried to explain to Hakim what had happened, to tell him how she had found the Sultan already on the ledge, how she had tried to help him but he resisted and fell.  Hakim tried to listen, to understand her side and remain impartial.  Meanwhile, Jafar had disappeared to rally the palace guards and servants to tend to the Sultan.  He was still alive (thankfully), but both of his legs were broken and his head had received a nasty blow.  The first words out of his mouth were, “Arrest her!”

And so, Aliyah found herself in a part of the palace she had never seen before: the dungeon.  Nearly three day passed in which the only sign of life in the dungeon was the guard who slid her bread and water through a hole in the door each day.  Her first and only visitor was Jafar.  He explained the situation, that the Sultan had accused her of attempted assassination, that she had tried (and succeeded) to push him off the balcony.  She tried to plead her case as she had that day in the throne room, that he had been already on the ledge and that she had been trying to save him, but it did not matter.  “I tried to explain that to the Sultan, Princess,” Jafar replied, “but he claims that he was waiting for you and Hakim to be summoned for a meeting when you attacked him.  I believe you, but think for a moment on whose story is more plausible…a foreigner, married recently into the family, whose husband is next in line for the throne and her daughter the next after that? Or the Sultan?”

Aliyah’s tears flowed uncontrollably at this. One minute, her life was perfect–a caring husband, a beautiful daughter, a blissful existence–then the next she is a prisoner accused of attempted assassination.  “What’s going to happen to me?”

“The law is very clear.  The sentence for the attempted assassination of the Sultan is…death.”

“Death?” she gasped, clapping a hand to her mouth.

“Never fear, Princess,” soothed Jafar.  “It took a great deal of convincing, but I managed to convince the Sultan to opt for a lesser sentence…if not for you, then on behalf of the prince and your young child.  Still, the Sultan believes that the punishment must still be severe in order to prevent similar attempts in the future.  The Sultan has decreed that you be banished from Agrabah. For life.”

“Banished?”

“Banished,” he echoed.  “You will be allowed to return to your home.  No fault will be found with your father, your people, or your land.”

“But what about Jasmine?”

“To separate a child from her mother would be a monstrous thing, I agree.  But the Sultan was very clear on the matter: to allow Jasmine to leave Agrabah in the company of a convicted traitor…well…” He doesn’t explain further, but she understands.  She will be going alone.  “But… There is a way to fix this terrible misunderstanding…”

“How?”

Jafar smiled cryptically.  “The solution is just a wish away…” At first, Aliyah didn’t understand.  Then, she did: the genie.  She would be going home, to where the beetle medallion was still hidden safely behind locked doors.  All she needed to do was get the pendant to Jafar, he could find the Cave of Wonders and use the genie’s lamp to wish everything back to the way it was: no balcony, no banishment.

Jafar goes on to explain that, because of the nature of her crime, she will not be allowed to contact the palace directly again.  Instead, he will send along his personal pet parrot to carry any messages between them.  She wonders if it’s safe to entrust such an important matter to a parrot.  “Trust me, Princess.  Iago is very well-trained.”  They make the plan. Aliyah will return home, find the medallion, and send word back to Agrabah through Iago.

When the day finally comes, Aliyah has only a few short minutes with her husband and daughter.  Jasmine is too young to understand her words, so Aliyah gives her daughter a gentle kiss on the forehead and a whispered, “I love you.”  To Hakim, she says, “I never meant for any of this to happen.  I hope you believe me.  And know that I truly did love you.” She doesn’t give him time to reply.  If he no longer felt the love they once shared, she did not want to know; and if he did…it would break her heart to leave him with that knowledge.  Then, she was gone.

Aliyah’s father the Sultan was furious at her treatment, being accused and cast out as she had been.  It took all her persuasion to keep him from declaring all-out war on Agrabah, but there was nothing she could do when he decided to call off the alliance her marriage had created.  Her last tie to Agrabah (well, all but one) was broken.

It took many months, but eventually, Iago would take flight bearing a short message, just three words: “I have it.” Jafar’s arrival soon followed.  She plied as much information about Hakim and Jasmine as she possibly could–how were they? Did Hakim ever speak of her? Did they miss her? Had the Sultan’s anger cooled so that she could return? The answers she received did not cheer her.  Jafar claimed that the Sultan was even more furious with her after news of the alliance’s end, and Hakim had all but moved on.  It was this latter piece of news that had inspired Aliyah to hand over the beetle medallion at last, a medallion she had managed to acquire from the royal vault through less than honest means.  “You swear that you will use the medallion to fix things, to put them back the way they were?”

“My dear Princess,” Jafar replied in his silkiest voice, “It is you who will be able to do that.  A genie grants three wishes to any that hold its lamp.  I will have three wishes, then I will make sure you will have yours.” With that, and with the medallion in hand, Jafar departed just as quickly as he had appeared.

Weeks passed, then months without word from Jafar.  Aliyah had no idea what had happened, whether he had been delayed or had forgotten his promise entirely.  All of her letters were ignored, every messenger she sent was refused entry to the palace.  As time passed, she began to think the worst, that she had been duped, used, betrayed.  She began to wonder if Jafar was just as much of a pawn as her; after all, he was the royal vizier, an advisor to the Sultan.  Could it have been the Sultan who had so desperately desired the genie and its lamp? He had accused her so vehemently and so falsely that it could only have been a lie to protect his own true purpose: the beetle medallion stored in her family’s vault.  Perhaps he had even arranged the whole marriage to his son for this exact purpose.  Now that he had the genie, the Sultan didn’t need her anymore.

She had been only half right.  Her marriage had been arranged as a ploy for the medallion, but not by the Sultan.  It had been Jafar all along.  Jafar, who had become obsessed with the legend of the Cave of Wonders, who discovered the truth about Aliyah’s great-grandfather and his discovery of the medallion, who had arranged the marriage to gain access where once he was barred… Jafar, who had hypnotized the Sultan into balancing on the balcony railing in order to frame Aliyah once she no longer sought the medallion, who had convinced the Sultan to lessen her sentence to banishment so that she could try to retrieve it once more… Jafar, who had lied, who had made Aliyah believe that he already possessed one half of the medallion when in fact he had none.  Jafar, who would spend another dozen years or so searching for the Cave of Wonders before a thief named Gazeem would find the missing medallion and would pay far more dearly for it than Aliyah had.

Aliyah grew more bitter as time went on.  No longer did she pine for Hakim, nor long to return to Agrabah.  As long as the Sultan, the man who had falsely accused her of a crime she hadn’t committed, still lived, she could never go back.  Aliyah’s father wasted very little time in arranging another marriage for her, the taint of her alleged crime in Agrabah notwithstanding.  She was still a princess, and in her father’s mind, that meant that she could still be useful in making alliances through marriage.

Her new husband was handsome and strong, sharp-witted and a master horseman, the kind of husband she had longed for what seemed like a lifetime ago.  Together, they had four sons, just as strong and handsome as their father, but never another daughter. Still, she was happy and content, and most importantly, loved.

As the years passed, the sting of her time in Agrabah lessened, and she hardly thought about the treacherous Sultan, the conniving Jafar or her kind Hakim. But every now and then, she would stare across the desert to where Agrabah stood unseen, think of her darling Jasmine left behind, and wonder.

 

Bonus: Before and after!

Jasmine's Mom - Before and after copy

Artist’s notes: The sultan (in this story, Hakim) is a little skinnier than he is in the movies, his beard a little more tamed and his hair no longer white.  Aliyah, on the other hand, was a much different story. She is based on Jasmine, of course, so that I can justify their familial relationship as well as save myself some grief, but despite the amount of changes I made (the nose, lips, eyes, and eyebrows are all different, plus the hair is free whereas Jasmine always had it ponytailed, plus some added accessories), she still ended up looking like Jasmine a lot. (That’s the main reason for the veil, as contrast.  I don’t know a ton about the culture but I’m pretty sure veils were mostly for concubines and harem women, but I don’t want to imply that with her.  It’s strictly a design choice). I kept their necklaces the same because I wanted there to be some tie between Jasmine and her mother, even though I didn’t mention it specifically in the story.  Aliyah is wearing an altered version of the outfit Jasmine was wearing right before Jafar uses Genie to take over the palace, with a color change.  I wanted to make sure the clothing seemed stylistically similar to the original but in the end I decided to steal it instead.

Author’s notes: This took a long time for me to hash out in my head. Those who actually read my blog regularly might realize that this is the story that I’ve been working on and postponing over and over again.  The story practically wrote itself at the beginning, but then I needed a reason for Aliyah to not be in Jasmine’s life anymore.  The whole mother-dying-in-childbirth is too obvious a trope (I have thus far managed to avoid it with Aladdin’s mom, Ariel’s mom and in the as-yet-unwritten Belle’s mom), so I decided to go deeper.  Jasmine can be a little self-centered at times, and she didn’t get that from the Sultan, so where did she get it from? Also, I love tie-ins to the established storyline (for example, making Triton’s hatred for humans being based in his person history in my Little Mermaid what-if), so I thought I’d throw in some of Jafar’s backstory as well.  It got a little convoluted in my head for a while, trying to figure out how to get Aliyah out of the picture while keeping it vaguely Disney-esque (yeah, I know it gets a little dark there with the assassination attempt, but seriously, go watch the first two Aladdin movies again.  Jafar is DARK.) There was even a bit in there with Jafar using his magic to try to turn Jasmine’s father into an animal for some reason (again, convoluted), and having this as an explanation of how Iago manages to talk when other animals can’t–i.e. that he got caught in the crossfire and got turned into a parrot.  Maybe I’ll do his backstory later. In any case, I’m pretty happy with this version, and though it’s sad for Jasmine and Hakim having their family torn apart by Jafar’s machinations, I wanted to give Aliyah a happy ending.  She really did love Hakim, and she really did love Jasmine, but she also really does love the man she ended up with.  She is a product of circumstances, but I tried to make her grow a little bit and not stay bitter forever.  I hope it worked, and that you enjoyed it.

 

Related Posts:
Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Daughter
Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney Without Magic: Aladdin
A Friend Like Him

 

Obligatory copyright notice: Aladdin is owned by Disney, as are the characters Jasmine, Jafar, the Sultan (whom I have named Hakim), Iago and Rajah.  The original images are Disney’s, the altered work is mine.  The characters Aliyah and the two unnamed Sultans are my creations, as is the story.  It is a work of fan fiction and fan art and no copyright infringement is intended.

Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s daughter

So, I’ve done a lot of theorizing about various Disney character’s families, either the missing parents (Aladdin and Ariel’s moms) or extrapolating younger versions of known characters (Triton, for one), but now I will be focusing on a different branch of the family tree: children.  What would the kids of famous Disney couples look like?  Here’s my first attempt with the hypothetical offspring of Jasmine and Aladdin:

Aladdin and Jasmine offspring copy

[[Author’s note: I decided to make Aladdin’s child a girl because, for one, it’s a Disney movie and princesses sell.  Look at the sequels… Little Mermaid sequel: daughter.  Lion King sequel: daughter.  One of the few exceptions is Lady & the Tramp, which has a bunch of female puppies that look like Lady, and one Tramp-like mutt that hates his well-to-do life and goes out on the streets.  Hence, another reason I made Aladdin’s kid a girl, because I would be tempted to do something similar with her story.  Son of a street rat wanting to reject his posh life to become a street rat? I wanted to step out of the Disney trap of the recurring return-to-the-origin kind of story, as was done in Little Mermaid II, Lady & the Tramp II, and possibly some other ones I’m forgetting.

Artistic note: Layla is truly an amalgam of both Jasmine and Aladdin.  If you look carefully, you can see Aladdin’s nose, Jasmine’s body, Aladdin’s hair, Jasmine’s eyes (reshaped to more closely match Aladdin’s), Aladdin’s mouth but Jasmine’s lips, plus Aladdin’s altered hair and eyebrows.  I gave her Jasmine’s necklace as well, because I like the idea of mother passing jewelry to daughter, but the rest is hers.]]

 

Layla had an interesting childhood, growing up in the palace of Agrabah as the daughter of the Sultan.  It took her many years to realize how extraordinary her life was, and she was nearly ten years old before she even began to suspect that being entertained by a wise-cracking genie and flying around on a magic carpet were anything but normal.

But despite the very real magic that surrounded her life, Layla was more enchanted by the magic of books and stories.  She spent hours in the palace library, reading books and scrolls recounting wondrous tales of far-off places and evil sorcerers.  Her father, though often busy with his duties as sultan, would spend his spare hours indulging her love of stories with a few of his own.  When Aladdin had tried to tell her of a young street rat who married a princess and later became sultan, Layla hadn’t believed him.

Though Layla shared her father’s thirst for adventure, she had also inherited her mother’s fiery spirit.  Like Jasmine before her, Layla soon found herself chafing behind the palace walls.  By the time she entered her teenage years, she was longing to finally see the places in her books, not just read about them.  Her first escape over the walls on her father’s flying carpet went poorly; Genie had spotted her and, after a failed attempt to convince her to return home, had transformed into a World War II dogfighter and shot her down before she had even flown beyond the palace walls.  But she had seen the palace from above, the city streets of Agrabah below, and there was nothing that could stop her from attempting to see that whole new world awaiting her beyond.  After Layla’s second attempt–Carpet was no longer an option, but Abu was always open to bribes of bananas–landed her with a scolding from her father.  “The streets are not safe for a princess,” Aladdin warned.  “Trust me, I know.” Still, her father promised to take her on a tour of Agrabah soon enough.  Days turned into weeks, however, and weeks into years, and her father’s duties as sultan always delayed the trip.

For Layla’s sixteenth birthday, there was a great festival in Agrabah with royal and noble visitors from all across the land to celebrate.  Many sultans from other lands approached Aladdin and Jasmine with offers to arrange a marriage with Layla with their own sons.  They politely refused all offers, explaining that in Agrabah, a princess is allowed to marry whomever she wishes–although the offer from Sultan Achmed, who as a prince had wooed Jasmine and found himself attacked by her pet tiger instead, was less than politely refused.  Achmed’s mere presence had reminded Jasmine of the succession of suitors forced upon her by her own father and she resolved to not allow her own daughter to suffer the same.

Nonetheless, Layla found herself besieged with suitors, princes of neighboring lands all hoping for a dance or even a short conversation with the sultan’s daughter.  She was eager for their company, not because thoughts of romance had entered her mind but because of the stories they brought with them.  They told her of intrigue in their courts, of folktales and adventure stories, romances and mysteries.  One young man in particular, Malik, captured her imagination with flowery descriptions of his own palace by the sea, for Layla had never seen a body of water bigger than an oasis and longed for this new experience.  When Malik offered to take her with him, she jumped at the chance.

It was the first escape Layla ever made that had succeeded.  The palace was so full of visitors that not only Aladdin and Jasmine were distracted, but also the palace guards.  No one noticed Layla and Malik leaving–that is, except Carpet.  After some difficulty trying to get across his meaning through pantomime (and Genie trying to guess a la an elaborate game of Charades), Aladdin was off to find his daughter and bring her back.  With Carpet’s aid, Aladdin caught up with them quickly enough, finding them in the middle of the searing desert.  Aladdin’s heartfelt plea for her return and the promise of a long-awaited journey–as a family–began to work it’s magic on Layla.  However, when she told Malik that she had changed her mind, his true form was revealed.

The handsome Malik’s disguise fell away, and he revealed himself to be a creature made of fire and shadow, possessed of magic the likes of which Aladdin had not seen since the return of the sorcerer Jafar.  With a scimitar of flame, Malik was able to defeat Aladdin and kidnap Layla, taking her away upon wings of fire.

[[Side note: if this were a Disney movie, I imagine we would get to see Aladdin and Jasmine’s point of view as a side plot: Aladdin returning home defeated, explaining what he had seen in the desert.  Genie would undoubtedly do some schtick, like going through his rolodex and trying to remember why he recognized Malik’s name, with people popping out of the rolodex as he named them.  “Let’s see…M, M, M…Mark Twain…Maleficent…Mork & Mindy…” Cartoon Mork (i.e. Robin Williams): “Na-nu, na-nu.” Genie: “Ugh, I hate that guy… Oh, here it is… Malik.” Genie reveals that Malik is an ifrit, a creature of fire and shadow with magic as powerful (or more so) than a genie.  Malik and Genie have history from thousands of years ago before he ended up in the Cave of Wonders.  Genie is terrified of him, but reluctantly agrees to help Aladdin rescue Layla.  But this is Layla’s story, so we’ll be sticking to her from now on.]]

Malik took Layla far away from Agrabah to his palace by the sea.  However, it was far from the paradise he had described to her, its towers and domes fallen into near ruin.  Upon arrival, Malik revealed that he stole Layla away in order to marry her.  He has a palace and has made himself a sultan…and now he needs a bride.  They are to be married that very night.

Thinking quickly, Layla protested, “You can’t marry someone the same day you’ve met them!” “Why not?” retorted Malik.  “It’s bad luck! Don’t you know the story of the Fisherman and his Bride?” Malik: “No, and do not try to distract me with idle tales!” Layla offered him a coy shrug.  “I guess if you’re willing to suffer the same fate, then that’s fine with me…”  Just as Layla hoped, Malik demanded that she tell him the story so that he could avoid the same calamity.  When her story had ended, Malik agreed to stall the wedding until the next evening.

Layla was still a prisoner, but at least she was free enough within this ruined palace.  She combed the grounds, searching for points of weakness or any hint of an escape route.  Unfortunately, though the palace was in shambles–crumbled towers, whole rooms without roofs–the walls were tall and intact, and this time, she didn’t have a flying carpet.  Besides, if she escaped, where would she go? She had no idea where she was, and there was nothing but desert to one side and an endless sea to the other.  She might have been the only person in hundreds of miles.

During her exploration of the palace, Layla discovered a menagerie filled with exotic animals–parrots, monkeys, goats and even an elephant.  She realized after just a few moments that the elephant’s size might be just enough to give her the boost she needs over the palace walls.  However, that hope is quickly dashed as she spied the chains around the elephant’s ankles, preventing it from leaving its pen.  “Oh, you poor thing!” she exclaimed, entering the pen and tending to the animal.  “I’m not a thing!” replied the elephant.

Layla: “You can talk!”
Elephant: “Of course I can.”
Layla: “But you’re an elephant.  Elephant’s can’t talk.”
Elephant (confused): “They can’t?”
Layla: “Not as far as I know, though I do know a talking parrot…”
Elephant: “Don’t be ridiculous.  Parrots can’t talk.  At least, I don’t think they can.  My memory’s a little spotty.”
Layla grins.  “I thought an elephant never forgets…”
Elephant: “Wait, I’m an elephant?”

It turns out that the elephant’s memory was indeed not very good, and he often forgot crucial parts about his past, even the most obvious fact that he had a trunk, which tended to have a mind of its own.  The only thing he could say with confidence was that his name was Bashir and that he had been Malik’s prisoner for over a year.  From her extensive knowledge of stories and folklore, Layla has identified Malik as an ifrit, a cunning and wicked magical being, and she explained to Bashir that she’s trying to escape and promises to take him with her when she does.  “You’ll be welcome in Agrabah.”

When night fell the next day, that fateful evening when Layla was fated to wed Malik, she tried to stall with another story, this time one so long that it lasted late into the night, and Malik struggled to keep his eyes open during it.  That’s when Layla discovered Malik’s weakness: she could put him to sleep with her stories.  All of those hours in the library had paid off!  She implemented her plan right away, continuing her winding, unending tale until Malik couldn’t help but fall into a deep sleep, delaying her marriage for yet another night.

That’s how her stay at the ruined palace progressed for several weeks: Layla delaying her inevitable marriage to the ifrit with stories at night and plotting her escape during the day.  She prayed for a rescue, but she never gave up hope that she could find a way out on her own.  If only Bashir had been a camel and not an elephant, she would have braved the desert with him the instant she found an escape route.

Yet there was a light in this endless darkness: Layla had Bashir, not just a fellow prisoner trapped by Malik, but a true friend.  One day when visiting him in the menagerie, she broke down and confessed her regret at the rashness of the actions that led her here.  She has realized what wonderful, supportive parents she has always had and how foolish she had been to think she had been a prisoner under their care.  The world was such a cruel place, she realized, and they were only trying to protect her from it as long as they could.  This was the real prison.

Bashir, in turn, looked forward to Layla’s daily visits, asking her about everything imaginable in the hopes that something would spur his memories to return.  She told him stories as well, not the long, boring ones meant to trick Malik to sleep but her favorites, ones of daring swordfights, magical spells and faraway lands.

Then, the moment Layla had been waiting for arrived: Layla discovered where Malik hid his keys.  She put Malik to sleep as she always did, then stole the keys and unshackled Bashir.  As she did so, Layla explained, “I have Malik’s keys.  Tonight, we’re going to escape.” “I can’t leave,” replied Bashir.  “Why not?”  “I don’t remember.  I just know I can’t leave.” “Did Malik put an enchantment on you to prevent you from leaving?” However, Bashir doesn’t know.  Either way, Bashir decided to help Layla escape, even if he couldn’t leave himself.

As Layla opened the front gate of the palace, she found that what Bashir said was true: neither one of them would be able to leave, for Malik had created a magical barrier around the palace that alerted him to their escape.  Back in his true form of smoke and fire, Malik flew down into the main courtyard to stop them.  With his magic, Malik turned Bashir into a beetle with the intention of squashing him once and for all, but Layla flung herself between Bashir and the fiery ifrit foot, begging him not to hurt Bashir.  “I’m the one who set him free,” she explained, “and I’m the one who wanted to escape.  But I promise that if you change him back and let him go, I’ll marry you.  No tricks, no stories.”

Before Malik could agree, there was a knock at the palace door, which then swung wide to reveal Genie in a loud sportscoat and a mustache, doing a fast-talking door-to-door salesman schtick.  He managed to distract Malik for a while until at last the ifrit became suspicious, ripping off Genie’s fake mustache.  “It’s you!” Malik exclaimed, recognizing Genie from their past dealings some ten thousand years ago.  In a Ricky Ricardo impersonation, Genie shouted, “Lucy, I’m ho-ome!” just as Aladdin flew in on Carpet and Jasmine rode in upon Rajah, proud parents willing to risk their lives to rescue their daughter.

Scooping up Bashir and clutching the beetle to her chest, she decides to help her parents fight off Malik by freeing all the animals from the menagerie for a distraction.  Malik is powerful, however, and soon has bested both Aladdin and Jasmine, who must duck out of the action or risk mortal injury.  Their family is reunited though not yet safe as Malik unleashes his full power.   However, the ifrit and the genie have a face-to-face, full-on magical confrontation, Genie emerging from the fray victorious.

“Genie!” cried Layla when it was all over, laying the beetle-Bashir on the ground.  One of his frail legs looked broken from the scuffle and he was barely moving at all.  “Can you help him? Can you change him back?”

Genie offered to try his best, doing his hand-waving with his usual flair and using his magic to reverse Malik’s spell.  A warm, red glow surrounded Bashir as he began to transform, growing larger and larger.  Two of his beetle legs began to disappear as the others began enlarging, a head growing up out of the black beetle shell.  When the magic faded away and the transformation is over, Bashir is barely a quarter of his elephant’s size, with two legs instead of four and no trunk to be seen.  He is human.

“Did I pick up the wrong beetle?” Layla asks, astounded.  She studies him for a moment, then asks, “Bashir?”

The man, who had been looking at his arms, legs, and other body parts, touched his nose and suddenly shouted in alarm, “Ack! What happened to my trunk?”

“It’s is you!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him in a tender embrace. “But how?”

Bashir, whose memory slowly began to return now that Malik’s magic spell had been reversed, explained how he found Malik and was tricked into bringing him back to his palace.  “Your palace?” asks Layla.  “Then you’re a prince?”  Bashir smiles.  “I am–well, I was–the sultan.   I was young and foolish, and Malik promised to serve me and use his magic to help me rule.  Instead, he took over my palace, turned me into an elephant and proclaimed himself sultan.  And now look at it.  It’s ruined…”

“Nothing a little spitshine won’t fix,” Genie offers, using his magic to return the palace to its former glorious state, complete with a banner that says, “Welcome Home, Bashir!”

Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie gave Layla and Bashir a moment alone. “Thank you for saving me, Layla.  Without you, I might have been an elephant forever.”  He took her hands in his.  “I guess you’ll be going back to Agrabah now…”

“I guess I will,” she replied, “but what I said was true: you will be welcome in Agrabah.” She gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.  “Come and visit any time and I’ll visit you as often as I can.  Oh, and don’t forget to write.”

Bashir smiled.  “An elephant never forgets.”

 

Related stuff:
Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney Without Magic: Aladdin
Disney What-ifs: Ariel’s Mother
Disney What-ifs: Young Triton

 

Obligatory copyright notice: All characters belong to Disney, with the exception of Layla, Malik and Bashir, who are my creations.  This is a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Disney What-ifs: Young Triton

So, what does Triton look like under all of that beard and hair? What did he look like before he went gray? Turns out, he looks like a trucker, or maybe a pro wrestler.

Young Triton copy

I decided to give him sort of red-brown hair, reminiscent of Ariel but not flat-out red.  I kept the mustache purely because I didn’t want to have to figure out what his top lip should look like, but I shrank it a bit so it wasn’t so ginormous. He got a haircut, too, plus less of a receding hairline.  I even shrank his muscles a bit, mostly in the shoulder area, which seems counter-intuitive considering a younger Triton should be in the prime of his life.  However, a great majority of his size is just making him look normal with all of that beard.  Once the beard is gone, his head is way too small for his body.

Bonus: Before and after pictures for comparison

Young Triton before and after copy

 

Other Cool Stuff:
Disney What-Ifs: Ariel’s Mother
Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
The Frozen Heart
Beauty and the Beast Without Magic
Aladdin Without Magic

 

Obligatory Copyright Notice: Original images and characters are copyrights of Disney.  Screencaps provided by disneyscreencaps.com.  Photoshopping was done by me as a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there (and a special shout out to mine! Love you, Mom!) In honor of our beloved mothers, here’s a tribute to a Disney mother that we never got to meet.  Unlike a lot of Disney mothers who are absent from the movies without explanation, we do get the tiniest hint of Aladdin’s mom.   We know from Aladdin that he’s a street rat, and we know he’s an orphan (“I’d blame parents except he hasn’t got ’em”).  Or is he?  We find out this is not the case in Aladdin and the King of Thieves when we meet Aladdin’s father, Cassim.

[[Can I just take a moment and try to convince you to watch this movie? No, I’m not asking you to watch Return of Jafar, unless you’re a glutton for punishment.  Granted, there are some good things about RoJ–a few decent songs, Iago’s redemption–but the plot’s convoluted, there’s two different villains (Abis Mal from the TV series and, of course, Jafar), and there’s no Robin Williams as Genie.  My advice is just skip the second movie and jump right into KoT.  All you need to know is that Iago now works with the good guys, though he’s still just as loud-mouthed and self-serving as ever.  In fact, the only mention of Jafar in the entire movie is in the opening song, saying, “Without Jafar and all his malice, everybody’s happy.  What could possibly go wrong?” That’s it. You don’t need to know how Jafar meets his end to know what’s going on here.  Plus, the songs are fantastic, it’s got John Rhys-Davies as Aladdin’s father, it’s got an entirely new plot, a decent villain, a magical object as intriguing as a genie’s lamp, plus Robin Williams back as Genie! The next time it’s out of the Disney Vault, just give it a chance.  I promise.  It’s good.  Quite possibly the only truly good Disney sequel.]]

In King of Thieves, Aladdin tells Jasmine, “My past…it’s a blank. My mother died when I was just a kid, and I never even knew my father. I have no idea where I come from.” Sad stuff, but it gets worse.  When Al finally meets up with his dad, we find out what actually happened to him all those years ago.  As Cassim tells it: “I knew exactly what I wanted for my family: the best.  I couldn’t give up and go back empty-handed. But the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years… I came back to Agrabah one night, but I couldn’t find my wife, or my son. I thought my family was lost forever. At that moment, I would have traded anything to get your mother back.” To which Aladdin responds, “We never wanted gold… We wanted you.  I wanted a father, I still do.” [[See? This movie is actually good.  It’s really a heartfelt investigation into Aladdin and his family and past.]]

From this conversation, we get a sense that, before their family broke apart, they had been happy.  There had been love between them.  We can see perhaps a glimpse into why Aladdin is such a “diamond in the rough”–it’s got to be his mother’s influence.  Let’s meet her…

Aladdin's Mom

Though Samira and her family never had much money, she felt like she was the richest person in Agrabah. She had a husband–Cassim–who worshipped the ground she walked on, who had been so infatuated with her that he had tried to convince her parents that he was a prince in order to win their favor.  It hadn’t worked, of course, but she had so adored his adventurous spirit and his winning smile that her parents eventually relented and agreed to the match.  Then, when their first son, little Aladdin, arrived, Samira’s heart leapt for joy.  She loved to watch Cassim tell Aladdin stories of far-off places and caves filled with wondrous treasure, of flying carpets and genies and sandstorms that a man could summon with a snap of his fingers.

Samira made a living taking in sewing and laundry; it didn’t earn much, but it was enough for her to live on.  Cassim helped when he could, disappearing for days on end and return with food and small gifts for her and young Aladdin.  She had long ago suspected that many of the items had been stolen, and though her conscience was heavy with the knowledge, she knew there was little she could do.  She could try to return the items, but since the punishment for thievery was having a hand cut off, it was not worth the risk of getting caught by the guards.  Instead, she did the best she could to urge Cassim to find steady work to provide for the family.  “Things will be different soon,” Cassim would say.  “I promise.” But all the promises in the world could not fill the hole in her heart left behind when Cassim went off in search of adventure and a better life for his family and never returned.

Raising a child on her own was not easy.  She had hated Cassim’s secret thefts of food for the family, but now that they were gone the money from Samira’s washing didn’t seem to stretch as far.  Aladdin was a growing boy, too, shooting up like a bean sprout every day.  It was hard to keep a belly like his full when he was always running around the streets of Agrabah, climbing up awnings like a monkey.  Aladdin was so like his father with a penchant for mischief and danger, but with a heart as big as the Sultan’s palace.  One day, she caught Aladdin stealing an apple from a merchant’s cart.  She was so ashamed by the act that she had slapped his hand away and brought him to tears right there in the middle of the marketplace.  Fortunately, Aladdin’s tears had been enough to distract the merchant and given them time to rush home before the nearby guards were alerted to the theft.

Once home, Samira scolded Aladdin, telling him how stealing was wrong and that the consequences of it were not worth the risk.  She never told Aladdin about his father, how she suspected that he had been captured and imprisoned on one of his foolish quests for gold and treasure.  She did not want her son, so like Cassim, to ever have to go down that path.

But Aladdin kept growing and eating, and even honest Samira questioned whether or not it would be so bad for young Aladdin, who had so effortlessly charmed the local ladies in town at the young age of five, to put his skills to good use and procure a little extra food for the family by whatever means necessary.  No, she told herself.  Never thievery.  Instead, Samira provided for her son the only way she could: when Aladdin’s dinner portions became bigger and bigger, Samira’s became smaller.  Aladdin was a smart boy, however, and began to notice the disparity in their portion size.  When asked about it, she would simply respond, “I’m not very hungry right now, Aladdin.  I ate while you were out playing.” Nights were always so cold in the desert, the days so hot.  Their already meager clothes began to turn to rags, and all the patches in the world weren’t enough to save them from the elements.  Samira and Aladdin would huddle together for warmth on those long, cold nights.

Hard work, long hours, cold nights, little food, ragged clothing… illness soon followed.  When Samira was too ill to work, Aladdin set out for help.  He was so young and such a charmer that he managed a few scraps for him and his mother–an apple here, a loaf of bread there–but nothing coming so close as the medicine he desperately needed.  Aladdin considered stealing what he needed, but he remembered his mother’s scolding and refrained.  Everything else he did, however, had not been enough.  Samira was gone; his mother was gone.

Aladdin was alone, just another street urchin without a family.  For a time, pity for the poor boy who had just lost his mother, combined with Aladdin’s natural charm, had earned him a meal or two.  But even the kindest of neighbors is not always so willing to take in an orphan when they already have so many mouths to feed.  But Aladdin was quick-witted and even quicker on his feet and found a way to outrun the local guards.  His mother had never wanted him to steal, but she was gone now, and he had to eat.

Still, he had inherited his mother’s kindness, her unwavering goodness.  There was never another urchin that he hadn’t tried to aid, whether it was to find them an abandoned building to use for shelter or to share his meal with them.  He never stopped dreaming, either, staring up at the palace and wondering what it would be like have everything his heart desired.  But he knew that even the Sultan himself couldn’t grant him his unspoken, secret wish: the mother he lost, that diamond in the rough.

 

Other Disney What-ifs:
Disney What-ifs: Ariel’s Mother
The Frozen Heart

 

Obligatory Copyright Notice: Aladdin, Return of Jafar, and Aladdin and the King of Thieves and characters are all owned by Disney.  The literary character Samira is my creation.  Original artwork is done by Disney, with screencaps curtesy of  disneyscreencaps.com.  Photoshopping was done by me as a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended. 

Disney What-Ifs: Ariel’s Mother

You might, like me, have wondered why an inordinate number of Disney characters are shown with only one or no parents.  The simple answer is that Disney movies are often based off of fairy tales from long ago, where illness meant it was far more common for a family to have only one surviving parent.  [[In this day and age, there are certainly a lot of single-parent homes, too, but a lot more of those are due to divorces and other less Disney-approved reasons.]] Another reason is that an addition parent means more work for the writers.  How does the character interact with each of their parents? Is it the same? Is there more tension with one than the other? Do they even like each other?

Writers have a lot of workarounds.  In Tangled, the king and queen don’t even talk! They have absolutely no personalities because all you need to know is that they’re alive, they’re the king and queen, and they miss their daughter.  In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora has both of her parents, but her mother is basically a non-entity.  Therefore, you get to know the king, who is actually really funny in his interactions with his fellow royals, but not really the mother, which is unfortunate but saves some screen time.  In Lion King, there’s two parents, but you only really get interaction with Sarabi after Mufasa’s already dead (I think she gets maybe one line before that).  In Lilo & Stitch, they kill off both parents at the same time, no doubt so they didn’t have to find two separate reasons for neither one of them being there.  That way, we actually get to see the affect of parental loss as opposed to simply never talking about it, and it gets to tie into the story and characters.

The most common solution, however, is to have one parent missing, never even to be referred to onscreen (Ariel’s mom, Belle’s mom, etc.).  But sometimes I wonder what they would be like, how they related to their children, and what happened to them.  Here’s my thoughts on Ariel’s mother, starting with how I envision her visually:

Ariel's mom

[[Side note: You’re probably wondering about the color scheme.  Well, if you take a look at the rest of the family, every single person (Triton included) has different fin colors and, for the ladies, a matching shell bra.  Add to that the fact that out of Triton’s seven daughters, two have black hair, two blonde, two brunette and one redhead.  If that doesn’t throw genetics out the window then I don’t know what does.  Maybe merpeople aren’t monogamous, and each daughter has a different mother.  Maybe merpeople lay their young in batches of eggs like fish, and maybe those eggs are highly diversified as puppy litters sometimes are.  Either way, I’m going with typical human genetics and saying old gray-haired Triton and Ariel’s mother are brunettes, resulting in a recessively redheaded child.  There.  Done.]]

King Triton was near the shoals hunting sharks when he first swam across Audra, the woman he would eventually marry.  The shoals were treacherous for human ships and there was a veritable graveyard of them rife with sharks.  The king had taken it upon himself to rid his waters of the infestation before the shark’s food sources would dry up due to overpopulation and the hungry predators would turn toward his glorious underwater city for their next meal.  With one blast from his trident, he obliterated an entire sunken galleon and the den of sharks within.  Like a jet stream, Audra shot from the neighboring wreck where she had been searching for strange human artifacts.  She swam over to the young king, demanding, “Did you do that?” He puffed out his chest, certain that he was about to receive accolades for his grand display of power.  “Yes, I did.” She grabbed the trident from his hand and bonked him on the head with it.  “You nearly killed me!” Concussion aside, Triton was in love.

Audra was not a typical queen in any sense.  Nonetheless, Triton was enamored with her, worshipping the water she swam through and adoring her indomitable spirit.  He had tried to name their first daughter after her, but Audra had refused.  Instead, Triton had compromised and gave each of them a name beginning with ‘A’ in honor of his one, true love.  Still, no matter how Triton tried, he could not seem to curb his wife’s wild adventures–searching galleons for human treasure, taking risky trips to the surface–hobbies she had tried (without success) to share with her daughters.  She did, however, find common ground in music, and all of her daughters became accomplished singers with her help.

Audra, likewise, tried to convince her husband of the magic and wonder of the human world without much luck.  Once–only once–did she convince Triton to come with her to the surface on a moonlit night.  She had always loved the stars, but the moon even more so, watching them reflect in the rippling waves.  It was the most magical night of each of their lives–yes, even Triton, but not because of the surface, but because of the love between them then that had led to their seventh daughter, Ariel.

Audra adored Ariel, not only because she was the youngest but because she reminded Audra of herself.  Ariel was strong-willed, adventurous and curious without limit.  Audra and Ariel spent many days exploring nearby caves and exchanging secrets, or pouring over Audra’s collection of human things.  Ariel begged her to let her come along on one of her trips to the sunken shipyard.  “It’s too dangerous,” Triton would say when he overheard such a conversation.  “When you’re older,” Audra would whisper to Ariel once the king was gone.

But there would be no mother-daughter journeys to sunken human ships in their future.  Audra had grown too curious as a human ship passed above one day and had been caught with nets and hooks by overeager fishermen who had thought they had spotted a marlin.  A passing seahorse witnessed the horror and swam back to warn King Triton.  The king and his trident soon made quick work of the ship, adding another wreck to the ocean floor, one that his wife would never live to explore.   As he held Audra in his arms one last time, tangled and mangled by those wretched human things, he swore that the human world would never again merge into his own undersea one.  He kept those trinkets he had given Audra over the years of their marriage, but everything made by human hands he destroyed at once with his trident until there was nothing left.  The wrecks of human ships were made out-of-bounds for all merfolk from then on.

Ariel hated to see her mother’s treasured possessions destroyed.  She had wanted to keep one or two of them for sentimental reasons–the thingamabobs and whatzits were her favorite, always reminding Ariel of those stolen moments with her mother in moonlit grottos, where they would take turns guessing what the humans used each item for.  As she grew older, Ariel decided to make her own collection in honor of her mother.  First, it was trips to the nearest sunken galleon.  Then, it was up to the surface.  As she grew more bold and more defiant at her father’s edict, she even began spying on humans on their passing ships, trying to see them use those precious treasures she sought.  She made friends with a seagull, Scuttle, whose knowledge of the human world helped Ariel understand the humans a little better.

All this was done in secret, but Ariel still wanted to make some sort of tribute to her mother.  In an act that would make her fashion-focused sisters gasp in horror, Ariel broke with tradition and abandoned the green-colored shells she had always worn to match her tail in favor of the purple color her mother favored.  She didn’t match, but since she could not change her tail color to that of her mother’s, she would make do.

Five years after his wife’s death, King Triton decided to give a concert in his late wife’s honor, with music written by devoted friend and advisor Sebastian and performed by all seven  of his daughters.  He still missed his wife, but the thought of hearing their daughters’ beautiful voices raised in Audra’s honor…that would make the pain worthwhile.

Unfortunately, the concert didn’t turn out quite as Triton or Sebastian had planned and… Well, you know the rest.

UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that Ariel’s mom’s was actually seen in the Little Mermaid sequel.  Obviously, I hadn’t seen that before I posted this, and I will probably one day get around to seeing it, but you know Disney and their dumb “vault” system…it’s hard to get a hold of their movies. Anyway, this is simply my take based solely on the original Little Mermaid film.

More Disney What-Ifs:
The Frozen Heart

Obligatory copyright notice: All characters and the original image are owned by Disney.  The story and photoshopping were done by me as a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.