Title: Walking the dogs
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin takes Arthur’s dogs for a walk.
Word Count: 1073
Prompt: 328: random dialogue “Whatever you’re going to ask, the answer is NO!”
Author's Notes: none
Disclaimer: I do not own the BBC version of Merlin; It and Shine do. I am very respectfully borrowing them with no intent to profit. No money has changed hands. No copyright infringement is intended.
“Whatever you’re going to ask, the answer is NO!” Merlin’s rumpled appearance was insult enough, but his scowl was certainly bordering on impudent. There were leaves in his messy hair, mud dried just under his left ear, and of all things, that ratty neckerchief of his was gone and his tunic ripped. And the rank odor wafting Arthur’s way wasn’t helping the situation. Whatever had Merlin been doing?
“Merlin, must I remind you that I do not ask? I command and you obey.”
If looks could kill, Arthur would have been reduced to ash by now. But he ignored the furious frown being sent his way. He’d waited long enough for his wayward servant to reappear and there were things to be done. “I should close that tavern down if this is how you represent your prince.”
Teeth grinding, at least Arthur thought it was grinding although with Merlin glaring at him, it was hard to tell. Finally, after a long, long pause, Merlin said, “I was not in the tavern.”
“That is not what Gaius said.”
“Gaius is….” Merlin took a deep breath, let it out, and still glowering at Arthur, said, “I was running errands.”
Those errands should have taken a few minutes at most. Most servants would have done them in a trice and been back for more instructions, but not Merlin. Of course not Merlin. Merlin had been gone for hours and frankly, Arthur had been worried - apparently for nothing. That made Arthur a little less forgiving than he might have otherwise been.
“And that included rolling around in the grass, and from the stench, the cesspit?” Arthur added a scowl just in case Merlin couldn’t figure out how annoyed he was. For caring so much. Not that he cared, not at all.
“They were your errands.”
“Your usual incompetence, then?” When Merlin looked like he was going to explode into shouting and furious arm waving, Arthur said, “Really, Merlin, what could possibly have led to this? Were you beset by bandits? Assaulted by buffoons looking to drink you under the table? Tripping over your own feet?”
And then there was shouting.
Merlin could be quite loud when he got going.
“Your dogs are evil incarnate!” Merlin stepped forward, with hands and arms flapping around enough to be a danger to them both. Arthur took a step back, just to get out of range. “I was walking them, as you commanded, when they saw a rabbit and all fifteen of them took off after it. Do you know how hard it is to keep leashes on all fifteen? Do you?”
Arthur had never walked his dogs, that was for servants, but once in a while, he’d sneak down to play with them. He knew they could get quite rambunctious, but he’d never admit that to Merlin.
Instead, Arthur said, “Any bumbling fool can do it.”
“Some of those demon dogs are bigger than I am!” Merlin’s voice was headed into squeaking territory, a sure sign of how annoyed he was.
Trying not to laugh, half with relief that it was nothing more than a normal afternoon and not something life-threatening for once, Arthur said, “A hedgehog is bigger than you are. But I’ve never had complaints about my other servants walking them. Are you sure you weren’t in the tavern all this time?”
“I was NOT in the tavern, you arse.”
“Then tell me, Merlin, how a bunch of dogs, gentle beasts though they are, could possibly have kept you away for hours? Did they lead you astray somehow? Beat you into unconsciousness with their wagging tails? Lick you to death?”
“Yes, they did!” Merlin was just getting started it would seem. The arm waving was getting dangerous and Arthur backed up another step. “Led me astray. Those demon dogs chased that rabbit, not caring where they went, dragging me along. Rocks and bushes, Streams. Pointy branches! And when the poor rabbit disappeared down his hole, those monsters were so excited that they ran off through the brush, howling the whole time, looking for something else to chase. My hands were caught in their leashes and I… tripped.”
At this point a permanent scowl was etched there, Merlin’s face flushed with annoyance or embarrassment. It was hard to tell. “I couldn’t get loose. All that leather wrapped around me, dragging me along.” Merlin’s hands scrubbed through his hair, shaking out bits of leaf and debris. “Through the brambles. Through the cesspit.” He grimaced at that, then shook his tunic, pointing to the rips in it. “Through the briars and down the ravine.”
Arthur could just picture it, Merlin being dragged through the muck and mire of Camelot’s darker side by enthusiastic puppies. He started to snicker at the thought.
But that only made things worse. Merlin was having none of it. “I was lucky to escape with my life, you clotpole.”
Nodding as if relieved by the news, clapping Merlin on the shoulder but careful enough not to get cesspit spoilage on his hands, giving him a little shake, Arthur said, “At least the dogs are all right. I assume you gave them baths and fed them before you came here.”
“Fed them? Baths?! Do I look like I gave them baths?” Merlin jerked out of Arthur’s grasp and pointed at the noxious stains on his clothes.
“No, you look like you’ve been rolling in the bog and the bog won. Well, hop to it then. They have to look their best when I visit them next.”
For once, Merlin was speechless. He stood there, mouth open, glaring daggers at Arthur.
And Arthur, prudent and wise, knew when to beat a hasty retreat. As he walked/strode/hurried out into the corridor, and had pulled the door nearly closed behind him, he turned back and said, “Oh, and Merlin, since you did such a splendid job, I don’t need to remind you that my dogs will need to be walked again this evening. See to it.”
The helmet missed Arthur by a hairs-breadth.
An instant later, there was a crash of something or more than a few somethings against the closed door. And some yelling, muffled by the barriers of wood and Arthur’s rapid retreat down the hallway.
Merlin yelling, Merlin sputtering nonsense, Merlin unharmed after all Arthur’s worrying, and a great story that he could use later to mock Merlin.
All in all, it had been a good day.