Well hey, guys~! 8D
Been a while since I've posted anything, so here's a little treat for ya. It's not one of my "normal" things, but hey, who really likes normal anyway? I noticed that the "Sword in the Stone" fandom is seriously lacking fanfictions, which is a shame, because that is a quality Disney film. So, I've been sitting on this one for a while, and finally decided to actually write it. It calls for a bit of inference towards the end, which shouldn't be too hard if you're familiar with Arthurian Legends. Enjoy!
The forest near Camelot was quiet. Of course, it was always generally peaceful, but today it was especially. Not even the birds were doing much chirping. And on a rather large branch in a tall oak tree, a sad-looking little red Squirrel was laying stretched out, staring forlornly at the huge castle in the distance.
It was all she had been doing for ages. Every day, she'd wait there, hoping to see that sandy-haired boy again, wondering if he'd turn back into the same thing she was. She'd tried in vain several times to do the same trick he had - how on earth had he been able to go from squirrel to boy in such a way? Why couldn't she become a human too? Then, perhaps, they could be together.
Some of the other animals nearby had tried to explain it to her, but it didn't offer her any sort of comfort. She at least wanted to see him again. And maybe he could apologise for hurting her feelings in such a way after she had gone through all that trouble to save his life from the wolf who had been very keen on eating him.
The Squirrel sighed. It wasn't going to happen. She might as well face the fact, find another mate, collect acorns, all the other nonsense that went along with being what she was. But she didn't want to. There was nothing else in the world that she wouldn't rather do than continue to be an animal. But there was nothing she could do about it.
Somewhere above, the Squirrel vaguely registered the sound of an owl hooting above her. An odd thing to hear; owls slept during the day. The only time she'd really seen one out in the daytime was - yes! Suddenly alert, the Squirrel sprang up and lept to the tree trunk, scurrying upward to the topmost branches. Her tiny claws dug into the wood of a thin twig of a branch, swaying ever so gently in the breeze. It was an owl, but not a normal one. He lived in the home of the strange bearded man who had been with the boy she'd fallen so desperately in love with. The Squirrel made a loud chattering sound, emitting little squeaks and flicking her bushy red tail wildly in the hopes that the owl would see her.
The owl - Archimedes, she knew he was called - spotted her below, and flew around the tree in a large circle before settling on one of the lower, sturdier branches. Scrambling to get to him, the Squirrel jumped from branch to branch, nearly overshooting the one where Archimedes sat watching her. Her lower half dangled from the side, but she managed to pull herself up by latching onto the tree bark. She couldn't speak to the owl, and goodness knew she was at a complete loss as to how the owl could speak in the first place.
"What is it that you want, then?" Archimedes asked her, his voice only just betraying his thinly-veiled impatience. The Squirrel didn't know how to respond, so she went about the normal way, chattering madly and doing her best to mime out what she wanted to say.
Archimedes seemed to understand. "You ought not to be so strung up on the young king," he said. "He's far too busy to tend to the affairs of a woodland creature such as yourself."
Slightly affronted, the Squirrel made a squeak of protest and went on about how the boy owed her - she had saved his life, after all. Somewhere in her mindless, incessant rant, she must have slipped out that she wished she were able to turn from a squirrel to a human girl, because Archimedes stared at her for a few moments before cutting her off.
"By the might of Viviane, girl, do stop with that insufferable prattle. You can't become human."
The Squirrel protested again.
"What do you mean, 'why not'? It takes magic to do that sort of transformation, and you haven't got any magic. Merlin is away-on holiday in Jamaica - but he's got better things to do with his time than bother with a lovesick squirrel. You'd do best to just move on." The owl was, clearly, done with the one-sided conversation, and he turned away from her. He spread his wings, giving two quick flaps, and then he was off, gliding on the wind and away from the Squirrel.
Hopelessly, the Squirrel slumped against the tree-trunk. Magic? Where on earth would she acquire something as wonderous as that? The very idea was nearly impossible for her tiny mind to grasp. If it was the only way, though, she had to come up with some way to find it. It was a rare thing, she knew, to find people in Camelot who were capable of sorcery. There was Merlin, of course, but he was gone. However... the Squirrel shrunk a bit. The very notion was preposterous. It was too risky. She couldn't do it; to do so would be insane.
There was always Madam Mim.
The Squirrel shook her head wildly, as if by doing so she could force such ideas from her mind. Madam Mim was a cunning, wicked, downright nasty old witch. Surely going to her wouldn't help the Squirrel one bit.
Then again... then again, what else was the Squirrel to do? She didn't know when Merlin would return, and even then, Archimedes probably wouldn't tell the wizard of her strife. Mim was her only choice. The Squirrel couldn't bear to go on, not without at least seeing the boy she loved one more time - and if she could only be human when she saw him!
Her mind was made up. The Squirrel flicked her tail nervously, then slowly descended the branches to the base of the tree. Crawling over and under gnarled tree roots, tiny hands pressing into the mossy, soft forest floor, she slunk away from her home in the branches, almost as if she were being watched by someone. Once she was a decent distance away, she sprang forward, leaping through the woods in the direction of the witch's house.
A shout of indignation.
"Confound this thing!" A vase flew through the air, crashing into an old dartboard mounted on the wall. Shards of broken glass rained down, adding to the general mess of the dingy cottage. Madam Mim sat with her feet up, tilting back in her rickety kitchen chair, her fist holding onto a few darts. The dartboard fell off it's place on the wall, clattering on the floor. With a snap of her fingers, the vase was repaired, as was the window that had broken upon being hit by a stray dart. Mim was bored, dreadfully so, and boredom really didn't suit her. Merlin wasn't around to bother, and lately she had been thinking of evil plans to destroy the kingdom a short distance away. Camelot. It made her sick to think about that scrawny, kind-hearted bird-brain of a boy she'd tried to destroy, sitting on a throne with a crown on his head, and all because of Merlin. If he hadn't of made her sick with that Maligolinto-whatever, she'd be the most powerful being in all the land, and Merlin would be dead! And oh, what a lovely time that would be.
She had, of course, thought of a few good ways to bring about the downfall of Camelot. She could change into a dragon and set fire to the castle. She could snap her fingers and bring a plague. She could become a giant and smash the whole kingdom! But these were all such dull plans. She wanted to do something impressive. Mim wanted to destroy Camelot in a way that would be talked about for centuries!
Deciding that the vase was better broken, Mim pointed at the thing and allowed it to drop to the floor, shattering beside the dartboard. She was about to see if she could content herself with a deck of cards and a game with herself (that would, of course, involve cheating), when a sudden scratching at the door caught her attention. It was annoying, and Mim wasn't sure whether she loved it or wanted it to cease.
Then, the high-pitched squeaks of distress started. Mim was delighted to hear this, but nonetheless couldn't help wondering what exactly it was. Marching over to the door, giving a little hop-step every few feet, she flung it open and looked out.
"What, what, who are you, what do you want?" She called out irritably. "Merlin? Is that you? Come back for another duel, have you, well this time I'll - " Her eyes strayed to the ground, and she broke off.
It was a squirrel.
A tiny, red, pretty female squirrel, looking considerably distressed. Mim's face broke out into a huge smile.
"Well, come in, my dear!" She cried, her voice welcoming and all-too-sweet. The squirrel tentatively entered the house. Scooping up the little creature into her hands, Mim brought her over to the table and sat her down. Squirrel soup seemed like a lovely thing to have for dinner. "What can I do for you?"
"Well there was this squirrel a few months ago and he was so sweet and I saved him from a wolf and I chose him for a mate but he told me to go away and then he turned into a boy and I - " began the Squirrel, squeaking out every other word.
"Slow down there, girl, I can hardly understand you," Mim said, leaning down closer. It'd been a while since she'd spoken to an animal, and the language was tough to pick up on.
"You understand me?" the Squirrel asked, giving her a puzzled look.
"Of course! Any respectable witch can speak Squirrel!" The witch cackled.
"Oh... well, I suppose that's a good thing." The Squirrel started from the beginning. "I don't know what it was-but I found him wonderful. Everything I was looking for in a mate. But he's gone and he's been gone ever since, and today I heard that he's the new king - "
"Arthur?" Mim cut her off again. "You're in love with King Arthur?"
The Squirrel nodded.
"That is too perfect!" Mim cried, letting out a loud, hooting laugh. She leaned back, shrieking with mirth, tugging at her wild purple hair. "And what would you like old Madam Mim to do about it, hmm?"
Suddenly embarrassed, the Squirrel, tugged at her tail, twisting it nervously. "Well, I... I was wondering, maybe, since you're so good at magic - "
"Good at magic? My dear, my darling, I'm the best there is!"
"Exactly, and that's why... that's why I was wondering if you could make me human?"
Leaning forward, Mim scrutinised the Squirrel out of one bright-green eye. "Ask nastily or I shan't."
The Squirrel paused, giving Mim an odd look. Taking in a deep breath, she put on a very stubborn face. "Make me human, now!" She demanded. Mim laughed again, clapping her hands. She looked positively gleeful and completely mad.
"But of course, my dear, of course I shall!" Oh, this was all so perfectly bad. She had it! The most awful idea to bring about the downfall of Camelot. It was so wonderfully wicked and brilliantly beastly that Mim was surprised she hadn't thought of it before.
Arthur was a good person, with a gentle heart and a kind soul. And what better way to destroy such a person than with the very tools that graced them? Mim was going to wound Arthur with his own emotions.
"Just sit tight, dearie, and let me whip something up for you!" With a quick, excited spin, Mim went to work in her kitchen, poking around in cupboards and pulling out beakers and vials of all sorts of strange liquids and boxes of queer items. Mim had always wanted to work with potions, but it wasn't something she often had the patience to do. This, however, was a Special Circumstance. Grinning maniacally, she tossed several things into a large cauldron and lit a fire underneath it with a snap of her fingers. "Alright - we've got to make you a girl fit for a king!" Mim poured a pink, shimmery potion into the mix. "Beauty, of course, is a given; we've got to make you irresistibly lovely!" A bit of white powder was thrown in that gave off a puff of smoke. "Brains, as well, to go with it! And here, here, we'll add in a touch of good humour and bravery and wit and - " Here, Madam Mim looked suggestively at the young Squirrel and waggled her eyebrows. "Desire." Humming merrily, Madam Mim looked in one of her drawers for the last few ingredients. One of them was a dark, shining red syrup, contained in a bottle labeled with a large, black number 7. The other was a vial of white, almost silvery potion that had been previously untouched. Snatching up the red bottle of syrup and gingerly taking the vial - as if it were something dangerous and disgusting - Mim returned to the cauldron, the contents of which were bubbling away.
Mim held up the vial and dried to keep the contempt from her voice. "Essence of Kindness," she said by way of explanation. "We've got to have him like your personality, after all." She dumped it into the cauldron. "And now... this last little thing. I won't tell you what it is, but don't worry! It'll really tie it all together." Mim unstoppered the bottle, slowly pouring the thick red syrup, reminiscent of blood, into the potion - Lust. Hissing sounds emitted from the cauldron, and thick, red smoke came wafting upwards.
Stirring seven times clockwise, and thirteen times counter clockwise, Mim dipped a small bowl fit for a squirrel into the potion. Setting it down in front of the animal, Mim plopped down in her chair and watched eagerly. "Drink up now, dear, drink up!" She gestured for the Squirrel to go ahead. The Squirrel gave Mim a grateful smile - Mim felt vaguely ill at the look of her - and leaned down, lapping up the potion. She drank the whole bowl, licking the remainder, not wanting to forget a single drop. The Squirrel froze in place, waiting for something to happen. And at first, nothing did.
Several moments passed, and then the Squirrel gave what seemed to be a gasp, and she shuddered. And then, oh, she was growing! And that wasn't the only thing, for as Mim watched the Squirrel looked at herself, the rest of her was changing as well. Her fur shrunk back into her skin, which went from pink to a soft, pretty, lily-white shade. Her arms grew longer, as did her legs, and Mim saw her squeeze her eyes shut in pain as her spine straightened and her tail dwindled away, as if going back inside her body, until there was nothing there. Mim watched her hands as they expanded, her miniscule digits lengthening into graceful, slender fingers with narrow, pretty nails. The Squirrel reached up and felt her face, where she would a small mouth and a human nose. Her hands moved to the top of her head, where long, auburn tresses fell around her shoulders.
Then, it all stopped at once. The Girl fell to the ground in a heap, breathing heavily. Madam Mim cackled again, rocking back in her chair, before hopping up to pull the Girl to her feet. "Excellent, excellent! Look at you!" Mim yanked her along over to a mirror, setting her in front of it. "I think this will work, don't you?"
The Girl stared at herself in what could have only been shock. Her elegant hands went first to her face, perfectly heart-shaped with large brown eyes, fine, arched eyebrows, a gentle, upturned nose, and a pink, angelic mouth. Then, it went to her hair, thick and copper-coloured, falling neatly to her lower back. Her hands traveled over her collarbone, down to her bare breasts and milk-white stomach, finally resting at her sides, fingertips pressed against her thighs. The Girl turned and stared at Madam Mim, eyes shining.
"Thank you," She said graciously. "I'm so grateful - thank you."
Mim took a step back, shaking her head. "Don't thank me. I hate it when people give thanks! Such a nice thing to do; I despise it!" Madam Mim snapped her fingers, and then the Girl was clad in a long, forest-green dress, a gold circlet adorning her head. "Now go, find the king, and do what you will with him!"
The Girl nodded, grinning, and headed for the door. As she reached for the handle, Mim realised something of importance. "Wait, wait!" She called, beckoning the Girl back over. "What're you called?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean," said Mim impatiently, "What's your moniker? Do squirrels not name their offspring?" The Girl shook her head. Well, Mim was glad she had thought of this. The plan wouldn't work very well if the stupid child went off introducing herself to Arthur as "Squirrel". A name... one came to mind. It was a name to fit the Girl's face. It meant "Fair".
"Come here, my child," Mim said, beckoning her forward. Pulling the Girl down to her, Mim reached her head up, and whispered the girl her name.
Of all the things Merlin had taught Arthur, How To Run A Kingdom was not on that list. There were so many fights, other countries trying to invade, people to tend to, treaties to sign. It made Arthur's head spin. Most of the time, he didn't even want to be called Arthur. He would have been perfectly content to remain Kay's squire and be called "Wart" for the rest of his days. Worst of all, though, was the fact that his mentor was so seldom around. Archimedes stopped by every so often, to keep him updated, but that was it. Besides, Arthur couldn't be seen talking to an owl; his subjects would think him deranged.
Finally, after a day of listening to his advisors tell him what he should do and how he should proceed with talking to the king of France, he decided he'd had enough. The woods had always been reasonably comforting to Arthur, and even now, that hadn't changed. He walked with his hands behind his back, watching the ground in front of him. The woods were quiet, he noticed. Usually there was something going on, but this evening, it was absolutely silent save for the sound of the leaves and twigs crunching beneath his feet as he walked.
Finding a good tree to sit in, Arthur bent his knees in preparation before jumping and grabbing hold of the nearest branch. Pulling himself up, he climbed a bit higher, coming to rest between two thick branches where the trunk sort of split. Dangling one leg over the side, he rested his head against the tree and stared up at the leaves.
"Merlin," He called out to the empty air. "What am I supposed to do?" No one and nothing answered, but Arthur didn't expect any less. Closing his eyes, he tried to forget who he was, and imagined that he was hiding from Sir Ector and Kay when he had some other, simple responsibility to get done. Like washing dishes. Yes, that seemed like a wonderful, blessed thing to do. Washing dishes...
He heard a crack echo beneath him, and started. Someone was there. Arthur sat forward, looking down.
It was a girl.
She wore a flowing, dark green dress and had a gold circlet going around her head. A heavy black cloak with gold embroidering rested on her shoulders. She looked as if she had been running from something, or to something else, and stopped by Arthur's tree as if she had no where else to go. Arthur watched curiously, in silence, waiting to see what she would do.
The Girl fell to her knees, hand resting on the tree as if to help her keep her balance. "Oh, help me," she lamented, and Arthur's brows hitched up in concern. "I don't even know what I'm doing here!" Wishing to help the Girl, Arthur slid off his branch onto a lower one, dropping down beside her.
"Are you alright?" He asked. The Girl looked up at him in alarm before scurrying away from him. Arthur couldn't help but stare. Even when gazing at him with shock and something like awe, the Girl was beautiful. Radiant, even. He was enticed by her, which was odd, for he had seen many pretty girls in his life. But none of them were like this. He didn't know whether it was her hair, gloriously tinged with deep red and rich brown and light gold, or her eyes-big and brown; they reminded him somehow of the tree he had just been sitting in. Arthur was stunned by her. It was almost as if she were too perfect, in a way, and it was slightly unnerving. "I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to - to startle you. Forgive me. What's the matter?"
The Girl straightened, her expression calm, and her beauty was magnified. "It's nothing," she said. "I'm just fine, thank you."
"I haven't seen you before," Arthur pressed on. "Are you from Camelot?"
"No," said the Girl. "I was journeying into the kingdom, though." She paused, staring at him, and the look of wonder was back on her face. Arthur felt a bit uncomfortable.
"Well, can I at least escort you there? You shouldn't be going anywhere by yourself. It could be dangerous." He slowly approached her, afraid she would leave, or perhaps disappear like some mystical being from a fairy-tale. Coming to stand beside her, he offered his arm. She stared at it, as if she didn't know what to do, and Arthur let it drop to his side. "Well," he continued awkwardly, "let's go, then." He took several steps toward the outskirts of the forest, before he noticed that she hadn't moved. Arthur turned to face her. "Come on." He beckoned for her to follow. Tentatively, the Girl took a few small steps forward. "I won't hurt you." She seemed to brighten at this, and caught up to him. They headed out of the forest together, Arthur taking several furtive glances at her. She was just so lovely to behold. He noticed, as well, that every time he looked at her, she was staring at him. They went on in silence for a while, before Arthur decided that he was being rather rude.
"It's nice to meet you, by the way," he said conversationally. "My name is - Wart." Heaven forbid he tell her who he really was just yet. He didn't want her to bow and scrape at his feet upon learning that he was King Arthur.
"Don't worry, it's not my real name," he assured her. "Just a nickname I've always had."
"I thought your name was Arthur."
Arthur blinked. Well, so much for that plan. "It is, yes."
"And you're the king."
"Yes, I am. I guess I'm talked about wherever you're from, right?"
The Girl gave a small shrug. "I suppose you could say that."
The trees thinned out, and Arthur saw the castle looming ahead. He looked at the Girl, and saw that this time, she wasn't staring at him, but at his home. It seemed everything amazed her, and he couldn't help adoring that even if he hardly knew her.
"Miss?" He tapped her shoulder. "I was wondering... what's your name?"
The Girl continued staring at the castle. "My name?"
"Yes," said Arthur. "What are you called?"
The Girl kept her eyes on the castle for a few more seconds, before she slowly turned to meet Arthur's gaze, warm brown eyes to gentle blue. Her lips, rosy and soft-looking, parted slightly before she spoke.