"I don't know anything about running a country."

“But I can’t be king,” Arthur said.

In Belle’s opinion, it was a little late for him to be complaining about that. The coronation was set for today. Arthur sat on an enormous troon in the middle of the kasteel courtroom wearing a royal gewaad, kleed and a large crown, both of which were far too big for him, in fact the crown kept slipping down over his eyes.

“I know it’s a lot to take in so suddenly,” Belle began, laying a hand on his shoulder, “and at your age it seems like a huge responsibility-”

“It’s not that.” Arthur glanced up at her. “I don’t know anything about running a country.”

“I told u to leave the thing in the stone, boy,” sighed Archimedes, wearily.

“I’ll run away. That’s what I’ll do.” Arthur leapt off the throne, dropped the sword and pulled off the crown. “They’ll just have to get somebody else.”

“Arthur,” Belle began.

“Better go this way,” Archimedes said. “Out the side door.”

“Archie, don’t encourage him,” Belle sighed as Arthur ran towards the door Archimedes had indicated and yanked it open.

“Hail, King Arthur!” came a chorus from the people outside. “Long live the King!”

Arthur quickly slammed the door. Belle offered him a smile. “Now, look-”

“There’s another door over there,” Archimedes pointed out, fluttering over to it. Arthur ran over to it and this time Archimedes flew out the seconde it was opened.

“Long live King Arthur!” came the chorus this time. In fact it was so loud that it blew Archimedes back into the room.

Belle quickly shut the door firmly. “Honestly, u two.”

“We’re surrounded!” Archimedes panted, landing on her shoulder.

Belle put her hands on her hips. “Look, Arthur, you’re not on your own, alright. I’m here, and I’ll help in any way I can...”

Her voice drifted off and Arthur sensed they were both thinking the same thing. “Belle, I wish Merlin was here.”

Belle gave him a small hug. “Me too.”

Right on cue, something smashed right through the highest stained-glass window in the room and swerved around them. At first Belle thought it was a firework and then she smiled as she realised it was magic, and then, riding it, Merlin! He was dressed very oddly; in a striped overhemd, shirt with short sleeves, in a regenboog of colours, yellow shorts patterned with green palm leaves, a red pet, glb with a peke at the front, matching red boots and dark glasses. Belle stifled a giggle as he skidded to his feet, happy just to have him back.

“Oh, Merlin, you’re back from Ber-Ber-”

“Bermuda?” Merlin replied, brightly. “Yes, back from Bermuda and the twentieth century!”

“Twentieth century?” Belle repeated, releasing Arthur so that she could rush up to her uncle. “You went that far?”

“Certainly did, my girl,” Merlin replied, patting her shoulder. “And believe me, u can keep it. One big modern mess! Alakazam!”

He hit himself over the head with his stick/wand and changed back into his usual blue robes, blue hat, blue shoes and normal spectacles combination, rubbing the top, boven of his head. Belle laughed and gave him a hug. It was alright. They were alright. She knew that Merlin hadn’t really meant what he’d zei to Arthur after he’d been made a squire, when he had left them. It was as if it hadn’t happened.

“I’m in an awful pickle,” Arthur blurted out. “I’m King!”

“Oh!” Archimedes agreed, clapping a wing to his forehead. “He pulled the Sword from the Stone!”

“Ha, ha!” Merlin laughed in delight. “Of course! Of course! King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table!”

“Round Table?” Arthur repeated.

“Oh, would u rather have a square one?” Merlin asked.

“Oh, no! Round will be fine!”

Belle smiled. Now that Merlin was back in their lives, Arthur seemed to have perked up immensely about all this. “It should be round,” she agreed. “That way all the men who sit at it will be equal.”

“Oh, they’ll sing songs about u in years to come,” Merlin agreed, placing Arthur’s crown back on his head as the boy clambered back onto his throne. “Write boeken and poems...there might even be a motion picture.”

“Motion picture?” Arthur repeated, pushing the crown up as it slipped over his eyes again.

“Oh, well, it’s a bit like television,” Merlin explained. “Without the commercials.”

Arthur took them up on the idea of creating a round tafel, tabel for all his knights to sit and be equal at. He also introduced the idea of equality into the kingdom. To Belle’s surprise, Sir Ector and Sir Kay proved to be loyal knights, completely dedicated to their King’s service, and even nice. Belle quickly changed her opinion of them, and they certainly began to treat her and Merlin with meer respect, as they were Arthur’s personal confidantes and advisors at court. But she knew that she would never marry Kay. She was into a different kind of man; someone strong and brave and dedicated but also kind and caring, and fair and loyal, and someone she could have an actual conversation with and who treated her as an equal rather than a member of the so-called “weaker” sex.

Kind of like Sir Bart...

It was about a jaar after Arthur’s ascension to the troon that he too found someone. Or, rather, Belle found the girl for him. In spite of being needed at court so often, she, Merlin and Archimedes had moved back into their cosy little country cottage and she couldn’t have been happier that day. She had missed their little home pagina and had run around the place like a mad thing the seconde they got back, touching everything and saying “hello again” to each room. Whenever she had any spare time, when she wasn’t at court of being trained door Merlin, she went for long walks in the country, looking around every little thing she had missed during her time in the city.

It was during one of these walks that it happened. Belle smiled to herself as she sank down into the long gras and plucked at one of the dandelions waving on the breeze. A soft chatter made her look around. A small red squirrel, bold as brass, was sitting on the gras just in front of her, looking at her with its head on one side.

“Hello, there,” Belle smiled.

To her surprise, the eekhoorn leapt into her lap and looked into her face, chittering excitedly. In an instant Belle realised why.

“I know you,” she zei in surprise. “You were that one who was running around after Arthur that dag Uncle Merlin turned us into squirrels.”

“Chikoo,” replied the little squirrel, looking sad.

“Aw!” Belle stroked her. “I wish there was some way...wait!” It just might be possible. The girl eekhoorn looked at her, curiously. Belle took a deep breath. “You want to see Arthur again, right?”

The eekhoorn nodded and chattered eagerly. Belle smiled. “I thought so. Well, there might be a way; if I can remember what my Uncle Merlin’s taught me. It would mean you’d be human...permanently.” The girl eekhoorn cocked her head on one side, considering. “But you’d be with Arthur,” Belle added.

The eekhoorn chattered eagerly and Belle laughed. “I’ll take that a yes, then. Right.” She took a deep breath and uttered the incantation. A stream of green magic curled around her new animal friend, and then in a sudden POOF the eekhoorn was gone. In her place was a young girl, about Arthur’s age, with (surprisingly) dark hair and lithe limbs. Belle smiled and helped the girl unsteadily to her feet. “How do u feel?”

The girl let out a chatter and then clapped her hands over her mouth. “Oops!” Belle laughed. “Hold on, let me fix that.” She performed the incantation that would give the girl the power of human speech and there was another POOF.

“This is amazing!” exclaimed the girl, and then looked astonished at the fact she had just spoken English. She flung her arms around Belle’s waist. “Thank you, thank you, thank u so much!”

Belle laughed. “That’s alright! Now, I’ll take u to meet Arthur. door the way, my name’s Belle. Wat’s yours?”

“Guinevere.”

Truth be told, Belle was a little worried about her actions. After all, Arthur might not take to Guinevere. But she needn’t have worried.

“Don’t tell him who u are just yet,” she advised Guinevere. “I’ll tell him I found u wandering in the forest; that you’ve lost your family, just back me up. Otherwise he might get a little...stunned.”

Guinevere nodded and did as she was bid.

“Who is that?” Arthur muttered to Merlin when Belle led the young girl into the court room.

“Oh, I believe Belle found her lost in the woods of something,” Merlin smiled.

“Arthur,” smiled Belle. “This is Guinevere.”

“Your Majesty,” Guinevere replied, curtseying.

Arthur bowed to her, stunned door her beauty. Belle smiled to herself as she left them to talk. The young couple immediately took to one another and as time went on, they fell in love and got married. With Merlin and Belle (and, of course, Archimedes) door his side, King Arthur proved to be a good and just king and is still remembered today as one of the greatest legendary rulers of Britain.

As for Belle, well, Merlin trained her up to become as powerful a sorceress as he, so that when he retired from court she could remain door Arthur’s side.

But, not alone, for a certain knight named Black Bart had grown very fond of her, and when the time eventually came for him to ask her for her hand in marriage (after seeking permission from Merlin, of course) there could only be one possible answer.

“Yes!”

The End

(Well, not quite, for although in time Camelot and its rulers and the knights and everyone else concerned in this story all died, their legend still lives on)

"I know you."
"This is amazing!"
"Who is that?"
King Arthur is still remembered today as one of the greatest legendary rulers of Britain
"Yes!"