Work at your mother's tea shop to pay off college funds wasn't considered hard work as much as it was considered patience. Most customers either didn't know what they wanted, or wanted teas that required the golden egg of a goose or delicacies rarer than a Dodo Bird (pretty much extinct).
You tried to occupy your time instead of having to slave to picky customers, so you unloaded shipments of jarred tea (and herbs that were also offered at the counter) and stocked the shelves.
But that afternoon, you sat at the counter, drumming your fingers on the table and waiting for the last few customers to buy something and leave so you could lock the doors at 6:00 and put the 'CLOSED' sign in the window.
Your mother came out and smiled, patting your arm and gesturing to the back room. Had a shipment come early?
She took over the register as you headed into the storeroom and heard the rumble of the truck outside, headed out the back door.
The back was thrown up as a man in a greasy blue work uniform unloaded everything, shutt everything up, and got back in before he drove away.
You waved him goodbye and picked up of the heaviest crates first and carried it in. You got a crowbar to pop it open, finding it a little unruly. It couldn't be put in cardboard boxes with duct tape though because all the tea and herbs came in glass jars.
You pulled out one of the sealed containers of Chai tea, moving it to the tables to be ribboned and stamped with prices, and continued to unload the rest of the jars before grabbing more from outside.
You had just unpacked the third case and dressing the jars when you heard the sound. A shuffle, like tiny scratches against wood.
You raised an eyebrow and put down the pricing gun and a roll of blue ribbon, turned to look at the last closed crate.
Was something, in it?
You couldn't leave it closed. And the sound would stop and start again, on and off.
You picked up the crowbar, silently slipping it under the planks, and held your breath before you slammed down on the rod, sending the top flying.
It was silent for a few moments too long, which made you think maybe you were just crazy. Had you imagined the sound?
You almost turned your back to it when you heard something besides the shuffling from earlier: A squeak.
Now your first instinct was to go to your mother immediately and report a mouse or rat had come in the shipment.
Instead some sort of curiosity compelled you to investigate what had snuck it's way into the crate yourself, and how it had gotten in. If it was a rodent after all, then you'd have to get rid of everything that had come, and you know your mother wouldn't be happy to waste money or tea like that.
So you hesitated before swallowing hard and plunging your hand in with hope your fingers wouldn't brush against something hairy that breathed or moved.
A shudder ran up your spine. This was like one of those Halloween games where they filled a box with spaghetti and tricked you when you put your hands in to pretend it was full of intestines, and neither situation gave you a warm and happy feeling inside.
There was nothing in the packing peanuts as you swirled your hand around and bat the glass jars around-
Until you felt one of them shake against your arm.
The bile rose in your throat as you wrapped your hand around the moving glass and pulled it up. As it emerged from the peanuts, nothing seemed off about it. Just another jar of mixed tea leaves.
But it shook again and made you panic. You ran to the table and pushed other containers out of the way before you broke the seal as quickly as you could and dumped it all out.
Like a seed that pushed its first leaves out of the dirt, flaxen tuffs slowly rose from the pile. Two arms wiggled and popped out as the creature dug it's way to the surface. It appeared to be what was a tiny man.
A tiny blonde haired man with large forest green eyes, and set of eyebrows the size of caterpillars rest over those eyes, like pulled back curtains. He was dressed in a vest equally green as his orbs, with tiny, quick sown beige slacks.
Though the outfit fit well, it was dirtied, and it reminded you of a sheet of felt cut badly with safety scissors.
“Hello, Uhm, ah…”
You were at a loss of words. A man no taller than five or six inches, blinked back at you, and there was nothing that could explain it.
But damn was he adorable.
You scooped him up in your palm, though he gave little protest, and set him on a shelf at your eye level, patting his little head and clearing your throat.
So what were you supposed to do with him?
"_____~!! There's someone here to see you~!" Your mother called from the front of the store.
Damn, who was it now? You didn't have time to think on it, you only had time to pick the little hamster sized human who squirmed and squeaked angrily as you put him into an empty jar. You placed placed it in the big baggy pockets of your apron, and quickly fixed the mess on the table before you left the back room.
You moved to the counter, trying not to act suspicious- and broke into a smile when you saw who it was. This would've been a delightful surprise if you weren't already surprised enough trying to hide the shaking jar.
Your boyfriend of two years smiled with his pearly whites and bright blue eyes. The Frenchman took your hand to brush his lips across your knuckles and leave a kiss there.
You giggled nervously, praying he wouldn't hear the little person's squeaks.
"It's been forever since I last saw you mon amor."
"It's been a week."
"Really? Well I thought you might like a break from this stuffy shop. You’re closing soon, Oui? How about I take you to lunch in that cute little cafe on the corner?”
You blushed, disappointed you would have to turn him down. You had ‘other things’ to handle right now.
“I’m sorry Francis, not today. Perhaps tomorrow? I have some other things to take care of.”
He pouted like a child, sticking out his bottom lip a little. “Are you sure you can’t today?”
“Yes. I’m terribly sorry Francis. Tomorrow.”
He sighed and nodded with your decision and leaned over the counter for a sweet little kiss that made you giggle since his stubble tickled.
“Alright then. Tomorrow, mon amor!” And with that he waved and left, the bell tingling as the door closed behind him.
Time to close up.
Your mother lived above the store, in a small little apartment with everything she needed from a little kitchen to a little bed. She was happy to have only what she needed, but you didn’t enjoy the same modest life style. You had moved out a year ago, to a flat a few streets away.
You still smelled of tea when you got back, having to jiggle your key before the lock clicked and the door swung open.
Your carrier bag continued to shake until the glass inside banged against your hip hard and made you yap in pain. You took out the jar and slammed it down on your counter, pushing the mess of dirty plates and old college papers out of the way.
“Alright you little brat, stop that!”
You steamed as the little man glared back at you before you unscrewed the top and let him climb out. He sat down angrily on a book you had left open, little arms crossed.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are, or what to do with you.”
You huffed and turned your back on him. You needed to settle your thoughts, so what better way than with a cup of tea?
While you tried to locate where you last left the kettle, the little man himself was busy. He tried to flip the book over and squeaked urgently.
You looked over at him just as you put the kettle on the stove. Confused, you leaned over to help him and carefully nudged him back to flip it off its cover.
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
He pointed at the title, and smacked his little hands against the big ‘A’ in Arthur.
You gave him that confused look again, before the light bulb went off.
“Arthur? Do you want me to call you Arthur?”
He nodded with a much more pleasant squeak, which made you smile slightly. He may of been bothersome, but at least you knew something about him now.
“Well then Arthur, I still don’t know how you got into our shipments, but nice to meet you.”
It was the perfect time for the train whistle of steam as your kettle hissed, putting your attention back some place useful.
You poured the boiled water into a clean(er) mug, and let a tea bag soak before you turned back to him.
“Would you like to share a cup of tea?”
He brightened up again and nodded as he walked into your hand with his head held high. Maybe there were some ways you could put up with him after all.
He sat in your palm comfortably as you brought him to the warm tea, and stood on the counter as you looked for something small enough for him to drink from.
Thats when you got a good idea, and pulled out the thimble from your sewing kit in a drawer (I told you, your house is a mess). You carefully dripped in a few heavy drops and handed it to him to drink.
You two sat together in the kitchen like strange old friends to enjoy the peace with a cup each. This gave you time to finally think.
Would you keep him? Would you bring him back to the shop? How would you take care of him when you were busy with college classes and work? Were there things he couldn't eat like a pet?
You looked down on Arthur, who was content with his little cup. Well first off, he still needed a bath.
You put your mug down and started your search for the casserole dish that was shallow enough for a five inch tall man not to drown in. You found it in the back of your cabinets and cleaned it out quickly before gesturing to Arthur.
“Come on Arthur. Time to get you cleaned up.”
He got up, put the empty thimble down, and brushed himself off and climbed into your palm for a ride to the bathroom. You filled the dish in the bath with warm water and set it on the closed toilet lid before you took a step back.
He gave you a strange look when you didn’t leave, which made you blush and realize he wanted his privacy to bathe.
“Oh sorry! Just call me when you’re done.”
Time pasted as you finished your tea and sorted through bills before you decided on filling the kettle again for another cup.
You heard a squeak from the bathroom by the time you had soaked another bag of tea. You put down your cup and headed to help him out.
He was bundled up in a washcloth like it was a big fluffy blanket, his cheeks red from the steam with his damp hair that stuck up in every direction after he dried himself off.
You chewed on your pinkie nail, knowing you couldn’t put him back in his dirty clothes. What were you going to give him?
It took some time to dig around- like everything in your strewn out house- before you produced an old pair of silk gloves that didn't fit anymore.
You grabbed the pocket sewing case again before you came back to the teeny man and measured him; you cut off two fingers and part of the palm.
You cut holes for his feet and hemmed it quickly as he watched you work with fascination.
When you were done, you held up a pair of small pants, handing it off to him.
He gratefully took them and squeaked in delight with how nicely they fit. Next you cut him a small shirt from the thumb, hemmed it in green, and let him have it after waiting patiently.
He pulled at his silky clothes before Arthur looked up at you, and broke into the biggest, warmest, and cutest smile you had ever seen which made you almost squeal. You rose him to your cheek to nuzzle.
He had started out as a pest and had quickly become the most precious thing ever.
Unfortunately the chime of a clock cut through your little moment together. It was 8:00 already somehow, and little Arthur had begun to yawn. You would be up for awhile longer to finish work, but you decided it was time for him to get some sleep.
You carried him out to your small living room, putting him down on the coffee table and darted back to your hall closet. You had to dig around for awhile again, but you managed to produce the baby blanket you had kept all these years from when you were a child.
You waddled him up in the soft fabric like a baby and found a bunny plushie for him to snuggle with too, a mint color with little wings.
“Hungry any? Would you like a bedtime snack?”
He shook his head and nuzzled his face into the bunny’s soft fur. He was just so adorable you couldn’t take it.
“Im happy I found you instead of accidentally packaging you up and selling you off Arthur. But if my boyfriend had seen you, I can’t even imagine how he would have reacted-”
You were cut off by a rather haste squeak, your companion glowering. Wait did he… did he not like Francis?
“Arthur what’s wrong? Francis isn’t-”
He squeaked again. You could almost see the smoke that came out of his ears everytime you mentioned the Frenchman.
"O-oh, he's not all that bad, Arthur. He really is sweet, and a great kisser! But I guess sometimes his eyes do wander elsewhere... And his hands..."
You took your phone from your pocket and thought over the lockscreen picture of you and him at an amusement park, taken on one of your first dates.
You were sure he didn't mean to be disloyal he was just... A very loving man. With everyone. Especially other girls who always had more curves and nicer hair, you realized.
You turned off your phone and leaned on your arm, resting your head in your palm.
Too far into pitying yourself and wallowing, Arthur felt a little guilty for making you feel bad, and remembered the comment you made.
a great kisser...
He began to think, Maybe a true, loyal gentleman's kiss would cheer her up? Better than any cheating frog's lips. (Does that make you the princess if Francis is the frog?)
He dropped the bunny and climbed up to your arm, poking your cheek.
You picked your head up, perplexed, when he stood in your hand, turned your head towards him, and closed the space.
It felt like a feather against your lips with his blonde hair that tickled your nose. It was warm, and soft, and you pulled away with a pink blush before you covered your mouth and giggled light heartedly.
"Thank you Arthur."
To know he was there now to cheer you up, when Francis wasn’t, you forgot about your disappointment. You held the little 'king' in your hand and gave him a big kiss in return which made him fluster and blush a deep red with a squeak.
You 'awwwww'ed over his cuteness, put him back down with his bunny, and pat his head as he rolled into a small embarrassed ball until you tucked him in.
Besides his blush, his eyelids had already begun to droop sleepily after so much activity, and he yawned, his tiny arms wrapped around the much bigger bunny, little fists curled into its fur.
You smiled and fetched King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and set it down in your lap as you cracked it open.
This was your sort of thank you gift to him for his friendship and his kiss, with a bedtime story.
You cleared your throat and began.
"In ancient days there lived a very noble King, named Uther-Pendragon, and he became Overlord of all of Britain.."
And so you told the legends as the much littler 'king' Arthur fell asleep with sweet dreams of warm tea and soft lips. You sighed happily, put the book away, and kissed his forehead, murmuring "Good night."
And as you laid back down on the couch beside him that night, you tried not to be too loud as you gushed over how adorable and sweet he was afterall.
You had a feeling keeping him was the best decision you had ever made.
~4 days later~
Arthur wasn't in his 'bed' when you woke up at 8:00 AM, rubbing your watering eyes when you caught the whiff of... scones?
To be more specific, scones burning.
You groaned as smoke started pouring out of your kitchen, rushing in as the fire alarm went off.
"Not again, Arthur!"