Title: Swap Our Places
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius
Summary: Arthur wants to better understand the people. So Merlin helps him, with a body swap spell.
Word Count: 1602 (Sorry!)
Prompt: 70 Amused
Author's Notes: Thanks to deinonychus_1 for the beta. Apologies for going WAY over the word count, I couldn't get it to end more quickly. It was this or 100 words of Uther gleefully watching a sorcerer burn.
Swap Our Places
"But you said you wanted to know what it was like. You wanted to truly understand your people. I'm helping you!" Merlin insisted. He looked far too pleased with himself for Arthur's liking.
Arthur glared at his manservant, but Merlin just smirked back at him.
Actually, Arthur himself smirked back at him. From his bed. In his room. Eating his breakfast, and the rumble in the tummy of the body Arthur was wearing told him that it must have been quite a long time since it was last fed.
Well, he wasn't going to put up with that. Stoking the fire could wait, Merlin could go back to doing it once he'd undone the stupid spell he'd put on the pair of them. In the meantime, Arthur strode across to the bed, gave Merlin a little shove and sat down on the edge to help himself to breakfast.
"Er... that's mine, remember?"
Arthur ignored him. After all, even if Merlin had carried out some bizarre and evil piece of sorcery to swap their bodies (and he was starting to understand his father's point of view on sorcery quite rapidly), it was still Arthur's breakfast and he was damned well going to eat it before they started on whatever horrors Merlin had planned for the day.
"Do you want me to call the guards? An hour in the stocks might make you less fond of that fruit you're eating."
"Don't be stupid, Merlin. There's plenty. We can share."
"We never share."
"You've always already had your breakfast, Gaius makes it."
"Gaius isn't even up yet. Does it feel like I had breakfast?"
Arthur paused. He actually felt very, very hungry. And, moreover, he felt guilty. Some mornings he'd found extra jobs for Merlin to do, just for the hell of it. Or because Merlin had cheeked him. Or both. No wonder Merlin was always so keen to clear away the half-eaten breakfast. He probably consumed most of what was left on the way down to the kitchens.
Maybe in the future Arthur would share. There was always far too much anyway. He carried on eating the apple. Merlin glared at him, but it wasn't overly fearsome. Arthur reached for some bread as well.
"I could just keep us like this, you know?"
"Fine. I don't mind spending half the day in the tavern like you do!" Arthur reached over and helped himself to the goblet of water that Merlin had been about to pick up.
"If the king walked in right now..."
"I could yell 'Sorcerer!' and you'd be in the dungeons in seconds!"
"In your body? What are the chances of him believing you over me?"
Merlin had a point. Arthur took a large swig of the water then gave it back. "He never comes in here." He got off the bed anyway, just in case.
"That's better. Mmm, this is delicious. Not that I'm really hungry, I still seem to be quite full from the feast last night. No wonder this body's getting so fat!"
Merlin was enjoying it far too much, Arthur thought. It had only been about half an hour and he'd had enough already. "It's not fat. Come on, change us back, I need to go and train with the knights."
Merlin just looked at him. "That's not going to help you understand the common people, now is it? You'll thank me tomorrow."
Arthur was quite sure that he wouldn't. Especially when Merlin announced that it was time for him to be dressed, and that Arthur would have to do it. It was going to be a very long day.
Merlin thought this was possibly the very best idea he'd ever had.
The training had been great fun, he'd let both Leon and Gwaine beat him... well, perhaps not so much let them as tried his very best to beat them and failed. The look on Arthur's face told him exactly how mortified he was at having this happen even if he wasn't in control of his body. The two knights, Gwaine in particular, were going to dine out on their victories for weeks. Especially the part where he'd fallen over his own feet and landed face first in the mud.
Better yet, he now needed a bath and had the perfect manservant to draw one for him.
Arthur had complained non-stop from the first bucket. Apparently he had never noticed how many steps there were up to his chambers. Merlin had noticed every time Arthur wanted a bath, which was most days. It was rather satisfying to let him see just how much effort it took to produce a little bit of water to splash around in.
Arthur wasn't much good at carrying the water either, he slopped it all over the steps and almost slipped over on it coming back down the second time. And that was when Merlin discovered a slight hitch in his plan. Amusing as it was to be Arthur for a day, he had no intention of staying that way and wanted his body in one piece when he got it back. But when he tried to perform a quick drying charm on the steps he discovered that unfortunately his magic didn't seem to have moved across to Arthur's body with him. That was when it stopped being funny.
He revised his earlier opinion. This was possibly the very worst idea he'd ever had.
Arthur was horrified at first. "What do you mean, we're stuck like it?!" he exclaimed. "I can't spend my life as a servant, I'm even worse at it than you are!"
"It's only until Gaius finds a way to reverse it."
"So does that mean I have your magic?"
Merlin frowned at him. "Even if you do, you don't know what you're doing and you shouldn't..."
Arthur waggled his fingers at his desk. The inkstand wobbled a little and then disintegrated into a pile of dust.
"Yes, that's what you shouldn't do."
"I could change us back!"
"Don't even think about it, just wait for Gaius."
"I'm a sorcerer!" Arthur could hardly contain his glee. And, if he was only going to be able to do magic for a short while, he intended making the most of it. He picked up the bucket that he'd been filling the bath with and waved his hand over it. "Fill with water... uh...shazam!"
"Shazam? That's not even a word! What... oh!"
The bucket was indeed filling with water. Arthur felt tremendously pleased with himself for a few moments.
"See? I'm a better sorcerer than you!"
The water reached the top of the bucket and kept going. Merlin grabbed it and put it in the bathtub. As they watched, the bath began to fill.
"That's going to flood the castle if you don't stop it," Merlin pointed out. "Whatever you did, do the reverse."
Arthur waggled his hand over the bath. Nothing happened. He tried again, and the water flowed faster. Soon it was at the rim of the bathtub and starting to spill out onto the floor.
"If my father sees a river coming through his castle he's not going to stop until he's found the sorcerer responsible!" Arthur waved both hands frantically at the bath. There was no let up in the flow. It was spreading across the floor towards the door at an alarming rate.
"Now you're seeing what it's like to be me!" Merlin retorted. "Concentrate harder, try to remember what you were thinking. And no pressure but hurry up!"
Arthur tried, but whatever part of Merlin's magic he'd managed to tap seemed to have deserted him. He thought about the sorcerers he'd seen burned at the stake in the past. His father would probably burn the pair of them when he found out. He shuddered. It was a horrible way to go.
"What on earth is going on?"
Arthur had never been so glad to see Gaius in his life. He knew the old physician had magic but rarely used it. It was the castle's worst-kept secret. Gaius' eyes glowed briefly gold and he muttered something, and suddenly the water was down to a safe level in the bath and showing no signs of increasing.
"Arthur was trying to use my magic," Merlin explained.
"And you let him? Has your brain been transplanted elsewhere too?" Gaius didn't wait for an answer, holding out two small flasks. "Here, drink these. Both of you at the same time." He looked at Arthur. "What a stupid thing to do."
"He's Merlin," Arthur pointed out.
"I know. I was talking to both of you. Drink up!"
It was foul, as Gaius' potions always were. Arthur suspected it wasn't entirely accidental in this particular case. He felt a brief moment of dizziness, and then suddenly he was looking in a completely different direction and could see Merlin looking equally disorientated back in his own body.
"That was disgusting!" Merlin gasped.
"Good. Finish up here and then come home. I'd like a word..."
Arthur saw Merlin's shoulders slump as Gaius left, and almost felt sorry for him. As Arthur settled down in the magically-heated bath though, he knew he certainly wasn't going to offer to swap places. His understanding of how the other half lived had increased enough for one day. He might get the other servants to help Merlin with the bathwater in future though.
Besides, it wasn't as if he didn't know what being bawled out by your father, or father figure, was like, he got that on a daily basis. Perhaps they weren't so very different after all.