Title: Dancing Round the Maypole
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: When Merlin is caught in a fairy ring trap, he’s not too happy. Even more unhappy when the fairies start dancing around him and tying him up with ribbons.
Word Count: 1353
Camelot_drabble Prompt: pt 458: Maypole
Author's Notes: Theoretically, this is very slightly dub-con if you squint hard enough. Unbetaed, Maypole is said to be representative of the axis mundi — or world centre — where the sky and the earth connect and four cardinal directions meet. It has also been interpreted as a phallic symbol because of pagan fertility rites. https://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/maypole
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
It was all Gaius’s fault.
Okay, it was really Merlin’s fault for not listening to Gaius. He loved the man like a father but sometimes, he’d just go on and on and Merlin tuned him out. For his sanity’s sake.
But this time, maybe, just maybe, Merlin should have listened.
He was stuck. In the middle of a meadow. In a fairy circle that he didn’t notice at all until he couldn’t move his feet anymore and there was laughter all around him and well, fairies.
Trouble in the making. Fairies were lovely and all, but they liked to cause problems or play tricks and Merlin was not in the mood for either.
Thinking that he would best be on his way before things got worse, he tried again to move but he was stuck fast. Finally, giving up just a little since even magic wasn’t working, Merlin said, “Hello, can you help me?”
The gold one, with a tiny crown on her head and bright flowery curls flowing down her back, flitted up to him. “Oh, I see we’ve caught a tree. Perhaps we should turn him into a maypole and have a little dance around before his friends arrive.”
“I am not a tree, my lady, but human. Perhaps you could let me go? I would be so grateful.” Merlin tried to smile but the fairies were all flying around his head and it was hard to concentrate.
The others laughed. “Oh, no,” said the queen. “You have roots.” She pointed to his feet, then to his arms and fingers. “And branches. Of course, you are a tree.” When Merlin protested again that he couldn’t possibly be a tree, she clapped her tiny hands together. “Ladies, gather ribbons and we will fly around our tree and make merry. Weave a spell of May mayhem. Turn our dear Emrys into a maypole fit for a king.”
“I am not a maypole. Let me go,” Merlin shouted, his arms flapping about as the fairies danced just out of his reach.
“Tsk, tsk,” said the queen. “Well, my girls, he’s a bit rude but we shall soon turn him into a silent tree. Prepare to dance.”
Even as he protested, trying to bat them away without success, they tied the colourful ribbons into his hair, and then began to fly in and out in a pattern that made Merlin dizzy to watch. Back and forth, back and forth. The ribbons were over his face and across his mouth and pinning his arms tight against his sides. Faster and faster as they sung and wove and laughed.
If he couldn’t move before, now he was trapped in cloth and singing. He could breathe, thankfully, and see through the places they had missed, but he couldn’t say anything with the colourful cloth against his mouth. Every once in a while, one of the fairies would come and adjust the ribbons so that even if he worked his mouth clear, they would make sure it didn’t last long.
When they were done, they tied the ribbons to dandelion heads, and clapped and sang and watched him struggle. Then they sat back, eating little sugar stars and glittery flowers and drinking some kind of wine that made them laugh harder.
Finally, after what seemed hours, the queen flew up, a bit wobbly, and said, “Oh, my tree, my maypole, I would keep you forever, but alas, your friends approach.” She reached out and patted his cheek. “For the entertainment, I thank you. Come back any time. We have ribbons aplenty.”
“Mmfp, mprff,” Merlin protested through the cloth. “Mmrft….”
“Oh, how forgetful of me. Of course, I should tell you how to free yourself.” When Merlin perked up at that, the queen smiled. “Or maybe not. After all, you did trespass.” As she turned to the other fairies who were now flying around his head again, she said, “Should I tell him?”
Horrified to hear a chorus of ‘no’s, Merlin gave another sharp mmftp.
But the queen just gave him a wink. “True love’s kiss is always effective. Wouldn’t you agree?”
His eyes widened, horrified, but a second later, Arthur and several of Merlin’s friends rode up, and the fairies vanished like smoke. Lingering were the sound of bells and laughter and an echo of ‘true love’s kiss’ before Arthur’s shout drown them out.
They tried for an hour, cutting away with knives and swords and tugging at the ribbon ends, but Merlin was stuck fast. Arthur was grumbling under his breath the whole time and Gwaine kept shaking his head as Merlin told them about the fairies. Arthur was not pleased that once again magic caused a bit of a hiccup in their patrol, but he just glared at Merlin as if it were his fault.
It kind of was.
Finally, Arthur said, “Have you any idea of how to get free because nothing is working, not even Gwaine’s socks? Which would normally eat through steel.”
Merlin blushed under the ribbons. “Umm,” he whimpered, “True love’s kiss.”
Merlin hadn’t wanted anyone to hear it really. It was just too embarrassing, and besides, his true love didn’t love him back so it wouldn’t work anyway.
But as luck would have it, Gwaine heard him and shouted out, “True love’s kiss? Really? Where do I sign up? Can I go first?”
Glaring at Gwaine, Arthur said, “Certainly not. There must be some other way.”
Merlin shrugged. He was pretty sure the fairies weren’t lying about it but getting kissed out of pity filled him with dismay.
Gwaine, being Gwaine, elbowed Arthur out of the way and planted a wet one right on Merlin’s mouth. One thing Merlin could say was that Gwaine was a pretty spectacular kisser, with tongue and intensity and hands that started to wander a bit. Not that Merlin minded. At all.
But the ribbons didn’t unwind or disappear or whatever they were supposed to do.
Elyan was next. He was gentler but no less a great kisser, and his hands didn’t go toward Merlin’s groin as Gwaine’s had but he felt warm and alive and Merlin was really getting into it.
Lancelot’s kiss was sweet but fleeting. Knowing that Lance loved someone else, Merlin appreciated the gesture.
Bending down, Percival’s snog was brief and a bit shy. Which was lovely and Merlin figured that next time he talked with Percy, he might introduce him to Greta. They would make a great couple.
Straightforward as always, Leon’s mouth barely touched Merlin’s, no fooling around.
There was no one left but Arthur and he looked about ready to blow a gasket, glaring at Merlin. It looked like the stocks for Merlin once they got back to Camelot.
But first they had to get back.
Arguing with the others for what seemed like an eternity, Arthur finally gave up, then turned to Merlin. “This is highly inappropriate but while you may be the worst servant in the five kingdoms, you’re mine so it’s my duty to try.”
Merlin scowled at him. “It’s just a damn kiss. It’s not a marriage proposal.”
Opening his mouth to argue, Arthur must have thought better of it. Instead, moving closer, he touched his lips to Merlin’s, then pressed in, exploring his mouth, his hands warm against Merlin’s arms, his fingers moving up to cup Merlin’s face as he kissed him long and hard and with such passion, it left Merlin breathless.
Then Merlin’s arms were around Arthur and one leg pushing between Arthur’s and time seemed to stand still.
Finally, with lots of whistling and a bit of cheering, Arthur finally pulled back.
The ribbons were gone and Merlin could move.
They didn’t say much riding back. The others kept whispering among themselves and Arthur silent. But when they got back to Camelot, Arthur said, “Merlin, come to my chambers when you’ve cleaned up.” Leaning closer, he whispered, “Bring ribbons.”
“Decorating the maypole, are we?”
When Arthur nodded, a heated look in his eyes, Merlin knew that he’d have to thank Gaius someday.
It was Gaius’s fault after all.