Title: The Unfortunate Fate of the Boar's Head
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin if you squint
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin is supposed to clean the boar's head mounted on Arthur's wall. Things go wrong.
Word Count: 800
Prompt: 464 'Borrowed'
Author's Notes: Canon-based fluff and humour, early seasons. Merlin was actually seen cleaning the boar's head in 'Sweet Dreams'. Here's my take on what may have become of it. The two spells are canonical.
The Unfortunate Fate of the Boar's Head
"What gorgeous, shiny teeth you'll have!" Merlin sarcastically told the boar's head in front of him, grumbling as he started cleaning the mounted creature's tusks.
Arthur had come up with this thankless task for his manservant just as he himself left for fight practice with the new recruits. As if Merlin didn't have a million other duties on his plate!
Merlin looked into the gleaming obsidian eyes of the animal head. Once, this was one of the biggest boars in the land, a proud and dangerous majesty of the forest, roaming the woods around Camelot. But a long-ago hunt had put an end to its life, and now its status had been reduced to that of dusty wall decoration.
"A sad and sorry fate," Merlin told the unresponsive boar. "I truly feel for you."
Vigorously scrubbing one of the tusks, Merlin continued his one-sided diatribe. "I bet you'd rather want to be anywhere but here, right now. I know the feeling. Arthur can be such an arse!"
The boar remained unresponsive.
"When you think about it, it's incredibly unfair," Merlin stated, moving to scrub the other tusk. "You just want to live your life, but there comes the king with his hunters, beaters, horses, and hounds. And that's that. Oh, do royals ever know how to ruin a life - including mine."
Getting out a brush to go over the boar's bristling (if rather dilapidated) fur, Merlin allowed himself a bit of daydreaming. He wriggled his fingers. "Now, if Arthur knew and accepted who I really am, what I can do, he wouldn't treat me like this. For instance, I could just go 'Bebay odothay arisan quickum,' and then—"
The boar's head suddenly squealed in rage, its ears quivering and its small malevolent eyes shimmering red. The thing regarded Merlin with fury as its newly polished fangs snapped at his hand.
Merlin recoiled. "Oh no! Oh no, no, no, no! I didn't mean to.... please just go back to being dead!"
But the boar's head clearly had no intention of returning to its previous state. It released one enraged and very penetrating squeal after the other, the long-snouted head practically bouncing off the table in agitation.
"Hush, hush, you silly thing! People will wonder what's going on here - the guards will come!"
The boar's head roared.
Aghast, Merlin reached out towards the monstrosity. "Swefe nu!", he ordered. Finally, the boar's head fell silent. It was sleeping, but not dead.
Merlin dropped onto the nearest chair, his knees too wobbly to support him. Why, oh why had he animated the stupid head? It'd just been a joke! Why didn't he think before acting so recklessly? Gaius would have a thing or two, or likely many more, to tell him about this mess.
Rifling through his memory's store of spells, Merlin couldn't think of a single one that would make a live boar's head return to its proper stuffed and decorative state. He could hardly hang it back on the wall like this. Sooner or later the thing would wake up. Even in his current state of panic, Merlin couldn't help grinning as he imagined Arthur, roused from sleep in the middle of the night to the horror of his boar's head trophy snarling and squealing.
Merlin could see no other possibility than killing the creature once more. That unfortunately meant destroying it. He sighed. Arthur would be thoroughly displeased. But what else was new?
"So, where's my cleaned boar's head?" Arthur asked, as Merlin placed his evening meal on the table. "You were supposed to restore it, not remove it."
"I did clean it, but then—"
"You accidentally dropped it out of the window?"
Merlin grimaced. Why hadn't he thought of that explanation? It was much simpler than his own idea. "No, but Gaius borrowed it."
"He needed some boar's fur hairs for a potion. Lots of boar's fur, in fact. There's a swine plague among farmers in the outlying villages, you see, and it became necessary to pluck the whole boar's head, and— "
"It's strange that we have had no other reports of this sudden plague. Will Gaius confirm this, if I go to him right now to ask him about it?"
Merlin winced. "Of course he will, but I think he's not at home right now, because—"
"Merlin?" Arthur rolled his eyes, clearly not believing a word. "Shut up."
"Yes, Arthur. But let me just say—"
Arthur raised a hand to command silence and shook his head in exasperation. "You're utterly hopeless."
"But you wouldn't be without me anyway?" Merlin asked plaintively, widening his eyes and doing his best to look cute and hopeful.
Sighing, Arthur reached for his ale. "That's unfortunately all too true. May the gods help me."
Arthur's eyes narrowed. "Now tell me what really happened to my boar's head."