Title: There's a Hole in the Bucket
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Queen Annis, Gaius, Gwaine
Summary: Poetry can be a glorious thing, but Merlin is pants at it. Of course, bawdy limericks don’t help.
Word Count: 1241
Camelot_drabble Prompt: pt 447: Champion
Author's Notes: unbetaed
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
“Poetry? For… why poetry?” Merlin whined.
Arthur rolled his eyes. “Well, since you opened your big mouth and told Sir Leon that we were studying poetry and that I loved it, it’s been the talk of the castle. No matter how often I protested that he was mistaken, it only made things worse and now everyone believes it to be true. And of course, Gwaine, the pillock, told Queen Annis that you were a poetical genius when she asked about a competition. It was that or garland making.”
Merlin squeaked, “But… but I don’t know anything about poetry. How am I supposed to show them I’m good at it—in front of the court, no less? It will be a disaster.”
“Well, you are always saying you are a man of many talents.” Arthur shoved his face closer to Merlin’s, smiling that smile that promised stable mucking and cesspit draining and at least a few bouts of being locked in the stocks if he didn’t at least try. “It will be fun.”
Queen Annis was a diabolical night-nettled harpy if ever there was one. Smart as a whip, she had to know that Merlin wasn’t up to poetry of any kind. He could barely walk without tripping and he babbled when he was nervous. Yes, he could juggle when he used magic, but there was no magic for poetry. It either was or was not good. And Merlin was sure it would be a debacle if he tried.
Begging Gaius to tell him where he might find some obscure tomes and change a few lines to make it seem like it was his, Gaius just gave him the eyebrow and said something about plagiarism and how he was sure Merlin would be fine. The git.
By the night of the competition, Merlin was a mess. The full court was there, the knights, all his friends, Queen Annis and her bard, and he was sweating daggers. He briefly thought about running but Arthur was too good a tracker, and he’d be dragged back and made to stand there and spout off some nonsense in his head.
It didn’t help that Annis’s bard, Taliesen, was named so after the famous Druid poet and he’d earned a reputation of glorious language and thrilling tales of daring do.
It wouldn’t be a competition. It would be a slaughter.
Taliesen has just finished an ode to his lovely queen, complete with gestures and soaring verbiage that had everyone on the edge of their seats. Annis looked well-satisfied, nodding to Taliesen as he sat down, and gesturing for a gift of a gold torc and a new fur-lined robe as token of her good will to be given him.
Then it was Merlin’s turn. He felt like he was going to faint. With one last pleading look at Arthur who gestured him to move to the centre of the room so that everyone could see and hear him, Merlin sighed. So be it.
Pulling at his neckerchief because he felt like he was drowning, finally knowing that there was no escape except by magic and that wasn’t an option, Merlin cleared his throat and in a loud, clear voice because if he was going down, he was going down for all to see, especially his supercilious arse of a king, he said,
“There once was a man from Nantucket
With a very large hole in his bucket.
When asked at its size
He said it’s a prize
Prick out, he proceeded to fuck it.”
For a moment, there was absolute silence, then off to the side, Gwaine started laughing, the other knights choking on it, too. Arthur sat there, eyes as wide as Merlin had ever seen and his mouth open as if he couldn’t get enough air.
Annis, on the other hand, was smirking into her hand. Then blinking, trying and failing not to snicker, she said, “A well-thought out tale of lust and love. I have to know. Did the bucket enjoy it?”
For a moment, Merlin just stood there. Arthur looked like he was about to explode, so Merlin turned to Queen Annis and said, “Of course, Your Majesty. Most heartily.”
Annis said, “And do you have more of these tales? I am almost ready to ask that King Arthur loan you to my court so that they could hear your poetry for themselves.”
“Err…” Merlin said, not knowing what to do.
Arthur sputtered. “Of course, if you request it. Our Merlin will be at your disposal once I’m am finished with him.”
That didn’t sound good.
It got worse. Queen Annis said, “Have you any more? Because I would love to hear them.”
Arthur kept shaking his head, a clear no, glaring at Merlin. But Arthur said, “I’m sure Merlin is tired after this. Although if you request it as a queen’s command, then of course, Merlin would certainly give us another.”
Annis smiled, all daggers and amusement. “Please, then, just one more.”
Shit. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
Clearing his throat, knowing that he might lose his tongue after this, Merlin said,
“There once was a prince from a castle
who always his manservant would hassle
He whipped out his prick
And always right quick
Stuffed it full in the arse of his vassal.”
Annis looked like she’d been pole-axed. Behind Merlin, the knights were on the floor, laughing so hard that there was wheezing and back-slapping, and Gwaine was repeating what he’d just said.
Arthur was as red as Merlin had ever seen him. Gritting his teeth, Arthur snapped at Merlin, “That’s enough for now. We’ll see how much hassle a manservant can get into in the dungeons.”
Letting out a great bark of laughter, Annis said, “Oh, you are a handful, aren’t you? And does your king hassle you frequently?”
Merlin didn’t know what to say. He honestly would love to be hassled that way, but he doubted it would ever happen.
Instead, he said, “My king is an honourable man. While he forces me to recite poetry, his prick is his own… I mean… umm, he has never… it’s just a poem, Your Majesty. It could be any prince. But not Arthur. He’s… he would never….”
“Ah,” she said, nodding, probably seeing more than Merlin would have liked. “Good to know.” She turned to Arthur, putting her hand on his arm. “I see your fool knows you well. Cherish him. But I would suggest that he not try his hand at poetry again. Some rulers might not be as forgiving.”
Arthur didn’t talk to him for days after. Queen Annis and her entourage were long gone before Arthur finally called him up to his chambers.
“I do not hassle you,” Arthur snapped.
“About my chores, you do,” Merlin snapped back.
“You are my servant. I’m supposed to,” Arthur said, then sighing, he gestured Merlin close. “So the poem, do… do you want that?”
“A bucket with a hole? They tend to leak.” Merlin was breathing hard. This was a new development. Arthur looked almost interested.
“Not the bucket, you idiot, the other thing, the hassle and the… umm… prick stuffing.” Arthur was blushing, refusing to look at Merlin in the eye.
Merlin wasn’t stupid. He might be an idiot but there was no missing Arthur’s question. “Oh, yes,” Merlin said, and then proceeded to show Arthur just how much he loved being hassled.