It was a Tuesday morning. Belle was brewing tea, and the sun shone brightly through the windows, glinting on the porcelain tea set. Rumplestiltskin would be down for breakfast soon, and it was on all accounts shaping up to be a pleasantly ordinary day at the rather large estate.
The normality, of course, did not hold. Rumplestiltskin's estate was positively averse to ordinariness. So Belle shouldn't have been surprised when she heard hoof beats approaching the castle.
The kitchen window gave her an excellent view outside, and the view was even better when she opened the window and stuck her head out to see who could possibly be daring to disturb the Dark One.
Two men—one in white and gold finery, the other drab and dirty and bearing a heavy load on his back—were approaching up the path to the castle. The hoof beats were evidently fabricated, as there wasn't a horse in right. However, that didn't seem to stop the man in white, as he was holding up his hands in a rather ludicrous impression of holding the reins of an imaginary steed. Belle's eyebrows crept upwards.
"Woah, there!" he shouted, pretending to bring his invisible mount to a halt. Belle's eyebrows continued to inch slowly up across her forehead.
She wondered briefly if she should wake Rumplestiltskin and ask him what to do about these decided unusual strangers. She'd already been forbidden from answering the door after letting in a would-be assassin and victim of a deal gone sour. Rumple hadn't been hurt, but one of his favorite shirts had been ruined, and he'd quickly put an end to her job as greeter. If it was important, he'd said, he would handle it alone. And if it wasn't important, then it had no right to be bothering him and his estate in the first place, did it?
"HELLO!" the man in white called, shaking Belle from her thoughts. Now that he was closer, she could make out the sun embroidered on his chest, and the gleaming crown sitting atop his head.
"HELLO!" he shouted again, when she gave no response. He hadn't noticed her yet, it seemed, and she thought that if she didn't speak to him sooner or later he'd just keep shouting at the castle until she did.
"CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?"
Yes, it was definitely time to intervene.
"Hello!" she called down to him.
He startled at the sound of her voice. "Oh, HELLO!" he yelled back, after a moment. "GOOD MORNING TO YOU, FAIR MAIDEN. ARE YOU THE DAUGHTER OR WIFE OF THE OWNER OF THIS CASTLE?"
"Neither, actually. I'm his housekeeper."
"OH! WELL, ER, I'D RATHER LIKE TO TALK TO YOUR MASTER, THEN, SO IF YOU COULD GO AND GET HIM…?"
"Who's asking?" Might as well know his name, if this funny person wanted her to disturb Rumplestiltskin, the king of hating mornings and sunlight.
"I AM KING ARTHUR, OF THE BRITAINS."
She blinked, processing the name. It drew nothing to mind, not from all the war councils she'd attended nor the books she'd read. "King of the what?"
"THE BRITAINS. I HAVE COME FROM BRITAIN ON A MOST SACRED AND NOBLE QUEST."
"…Right." Her eyebrows must've reached her hairline by now. "What kind of a quest?"
"I AM SEEKING THE HOLY GRAIL. AND IF YOUR MASTER WILL LET MY SERVANT AND I STAY HERE FOR THE NIGHT, HE MAY JOIN US ON OUR QUEST."
Belle fought back a laugh. They'd picked the wrong castle for charity cases. "I don't think he'll be interested, to be honest."
"IT IS A MISSION SENT FROM GOD. IF HE JOINS US, HIS SOUL WILL BE ABSOLVED OF ALL SIN."
"Still pretty sure he wouldn't be interested." He'd just rack up a dozen more sins by the end of the week, anyway.
"HE WILL BE GRANTED POWER AND GLORY."
"Already has that."
"I SAID, HE ALREADY HAS THAT."
"Oh. WHAT ABOUT LIVING FOREVER AS A LEGEND AMONG MEN."
"GOT THAT COVERED, TOO."
"…Oh." The 'king' slumped a little, looking put out. "LOOK, IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO CONVINCE HIM? IT'S BEEN A LONG NIGHT ON THE ROAD AND WE'RE REALLY RATHER TIRED."
Belle bit her lip. "Sorry, don't think so."
"Blast," she heard him mutter. "IT'S THE HOLY GRAIL! SURELY HE HAS SOME SHRED OF PRIDE. WON'T HE WANT TO HELP US?"
"Not for free," she huffed under her breath. Then, something occurred to her. "Hang on, I think we've already got one."
"I THINK WE'VE ALREADY GOT ONE."
He actually staggered back a step. "REALLY?"
This time the giggle escaped. "YES!" she yelled around it.
"…OH. WELL, IN THAT CASE…" He looked back at his servant, who shrugged. "I GUESS WE'LL BE OFF, THEN."
"GOOD LUCK ON YOUR QUEST!" she called, as the king got back on his imaginary horse.
"THANK YOU, FAIR MAIDEN! AND TELL YOUR MASTER I SAID GOOD DAY! Yah!" He pretended to nudge his mount, and began galloping back the way he'd come. As the servant turned around, she finally saw what had been making the clopping sound she'd mistaken for hoof beats: a hollowed-out coconut, the halves of which were clacking together. She barely managed to shut the window before collapsing into a fit of laughter at the absurdity of the morning's events.
Rumple chose this inopportune moment to enter the kitchen. "What on earth is so funny?"
"Coconuts," she gasped, then went back to laughing at silly kings on imaginary horses.