A/N: For shadowhostage on Tumblr who prompted: 'Message in a bottle.'

Just to prove that, sometimes, when bff is staying over and life is good, I can write fluff.

(btw, just for those who don't know, my Tumblr ask box is always open for prompts!)

Mermaids give him a headache.

Rumpelstiltskin looks out over the ocean, and has the sudden, unbelievably stupid urge to just purge the whole sea of the damn things.

Three days: three days he's been stuck here, in this damp little corner of the world. All he wants is to go home, dry off completely (he hasn't been completely dry for days) and forget this whole misadventure. If he never sees another shell again, it'll be a hundred years too soon.

He looks down at the trumpet in his hands, his prize.

Mermaids, at least, are unlikely to read the small print. A small potion to keep their hair soft – if he ever meets a mermaid concerned with more, he'll grant it to her free of charge – is a small price to pay.

Still, three days with only a group of oxygen-deprived teenage girls for company, and Rumpelstiltskin is badly in need of a decent conversation. He's just staring at the waves where they meet the sand, his mind essentially blank and sleeping, when something catches his eye.

Rumpelstiltskin knows how to spot magic when it's screaming at him: and in this, someone is shouting his name.

So he wanders down to it, expecting a summons from the Queen, or a desperate plea for assistance from some despairing princess. He could ignore the latter; he really, really hopes it's not the former.

He picks up the bottle, and the magic radiating from the glass is friendly, warm and tingling: there is no malevolence in this charm, and he relaxes.

Then tenses – the magic is familiar: it's his own.

He forces himself to be calm, and pulls the message out.

I'm afraid there was a small fire: I told you I was an accident waiting to happen! Everything is okay… but you might want to get back here soon. The kitchen is starting to smell weird.


He couldn't help but laugh. Of all the girls he could have bargained for to be his caretaker, he had to choose the one guaranteed to set his house on fire.

He'd planned to save some magic and walk back, call in on some hold acquaintances on the way, and inspire a little fear. But now, all he wanted was to be at home, with his incompetent housekeeper, in their utterly ruined kitchen.