Title: The Stocks, Chapter 51
Characters: Merlin, Original Characters
Word Count: 695
Prompt: 340, Noisy
Summary: Merlin takes blatant advantage of a situation that presents itself.
It was amazing how noisy Camelot could become at feast time. Merlin was used to the background sounds of a normal day. With so many people rushing into the city to celebrate Summer Solstice, the addition of that many voices laughing, and animals braying, made visits to the market nearly unbearable. What did make it bearable was seeing Morris and Jack displayed in all their misery in the stocks.
“So, boys, what did you do this time?”
Morris looked up, the remnants of some unknown vegetable dripping from his hair into his eyes. “Hello, Merlin,” he replied dully.
“We didn’t do anything, Merlin. It was Eric and Thomas.” Jack’s expression was mulish.
“Mm-hmm.” Merlin grinned. “Pull the other leg.”
Morris looked over at Jack. “You know he’s not going to believe you, right? This is Merlin.”
“Oh, shut up, Morris.” Jack’s shoulders slumped as well as they could in his odd position. “So we played a tiny prank on my father. I didn’t expect him to do this.”
Merlin laughed. “It was probably all in the timing, Jack. Pranking your father two days before Solstice celebrations? You’re lucky he didn’t have the king put you in the dungeons for a day. As it is, he’ll need you to help deliver all the beer and cider for the celebrations.”
“I know.” Jack couldn’t sound more miserable if he tried. “He even arranged with the Sergeant of the Guards that we’ll be working for them during the celebrations.”
Morris nodded. “We’re actually going to miss the feasts. It’s unfair.”
Merlin grinned. “Sorry, boys, but I’ll be serving at it. I have no sympathy for you.” He caught some motion out of the corner of his eye and saw one of the undercooks arriving with a basket. He chuckled evilly. “Looks like the cook just arrived with some more veg for you.”
Morris and Jack both groaned. The teens closed their eyes and sighed at the same time. Jack looked up at Merlin. “If you convince the cooks not to bring any more veg out, I’ll make sure you get a flagon of my father’s best cider delivered to you and Gaius.”
“Make it a half gallon and you have a deal.” Merlin nodded his head toward the undercook. “Can’t do anything about that, though.”
Jack thought hard for a moment, then nodded. “Deal. No more veg after that.”
Merlin left after wishing the boys luck. He was finished with his shopping list and if he could get a half gallon of cider for doing nothing more than actually trying to charm the undercook, then it would definitely be worth his while to detour toward the kitchens. Gaius would appreciate the gift. Maybe if Arthur was being good, Merlin would even give him some.
He caught sight of the undercook making her way back to the citadel. “Evie! Hold up.”
She looked back at the sound of Merlin’s voice and paused, waiting for him to catch up. “Merlin.”
“Can I carry that for you?”
She looked down at the empty basket. “It’s empty, Merlin. It weighs nothing. But thank you.” She peered at him suspiciously. Evie had six children and five grandchildren. Nothing ever got past her. “What do you want?”
He chuckled. “I need you to not bring any more veg out to be used on Morris and Jack. If I can make sure of that, then Jack has promised me a half-gallon of his father’s best cider.” He nodded, “Knowing Jack, it won’t be his father’s best and it won’t be right away, but I’d love to give whatever I get to Gaius. He’s been working so hard with the recent outbreaks of pox.”
“Tell you what, Merlin. You give me a flagon of it for me and my man, and I’ll make sure they’re veg-free.” Evie smiled. “Even some of Master Ioan’s worst cider is worth it.”
“Wonderful! Evie, you are simply the best. If you weren’t so happily married, I’d ask you myself.”
“Go on with you, you little charmer.” Evie slipped her arm through the one Merlin offered and they walked back together through the market, catching up on her children’s latest escapades.