Title: Master or Servant?
Characters: Merlin, King James 1, Queen Anne of Denmark (I promise it makes sense when you read it.)
Summary: Merlin assumes a new name each life he leads waiting for Arthur to return, sometimes he just decides to say 'fuck it' and have fun.
Word Count: 497
Prompt: 383, Hocus Pocus
Author's Notes: This is set before James 1 goes all witch-hunter crazy.
Every once in a while Merlin decided hiding in plain sight was the best choice for his life. As much fun as it could be, he was sick of being a crotchety old man and wanted to go back to being young again.
He felt the intake of breath from the court at the sight of him tossing one of the three knives he held into the air and grinned inside. Being the court magician for King James was actually fun. In the years since he'd magically juggled eggs in Queen Annis' court he'd actually figured out how to do it for real and had polished his act so he could truly juggle most things without the aid of his magic.
After he went through his act, the king graciously motioned him forward, "Ah, Hocus Pocus, you'll have to teach me this one day."
"I would also be interested." The queen spoke from the king's side. Anne of Denmark reminded Merlin of Gwen, always ready to take on anything. "I know, you could write a book for all to learn."
Merlin grinned. "I would, happily, your majesty, but then I would be out of a job if everyone could juggle as well as I do."
The queen laughed. "Never. You're much too charming for that. I think you would always land on your feet."
"From your mouth to God's ear, your majesty." Merlin turned at the throat clearing behind him. "Ah, I think your seneschal is telling me it's time for the next bit of entertainment."
"He does realize we are the ones that make the schedule, does he not?" the king frowned while the seneschal flushed.
"Your majesty, I'm sorry to tell you this, but in truth, it is the servants who rule. Meals must be served at the right time or they either won't be hot or they’ll just be ruined. Rooms must be scrubbed when they can or dirt builds up and ruins your lovely clothing. Laundry must be picked up and cleaned or you're without clean clothing. Animals must be taken care of on a schedule or it throws them off their feed. As much as servants are at the mercy of their noble lords, so too are the noble lords at the mercy of their servants, for if you want things to run smoothly, you must also do what they say to a degree."
Merlin shrugged as the queen laughed and the king looked offended. The seneschal choked just a little, trying to hold back his horrified laughter. "You're lucky I like you, Hocus." The king leveled him with a look that would have rivaled Gaius' most disapproving. "Go on and eat while I apparently let my seneschal run my life."
"Of course, your majesty. I serve at your pleasure."
"Somehow, I question that."
*There actually was a court magician named Hocus Pocus in King James I’s time. He wrote a book about juggling called Hocus Pocus Junior: the anatomie of legerdemain.