Title: The Jester
Rating: General Audiences
Pairing/s: None (though I guess you could take this as A/M if you wanted, but nothing is mentioned)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, mentioned OC
Summary: "You are the most outrageously boneheaded person I have ever met!"
Word Count: 688
Prompt: #093 Stubborn
Author's Notes: Practising a new writing style: I call it 'help, Angela Carter is rubbing off on me'. (And - woops - present tense)
With a final, heaving lurch of royal disgrace and a stubborn unwillingness to emit the raging wildfire, the oaken door to the King’s chambers eventually bows into submission, echoing the huff of indignation as the golden blaze storms inside. The sunrise-painted room glows at the newcomer’s presence, simultaneously welcoming him home and blinding his narrowed gaze from the subject of his roaring temper; the scattered papers and scrolls tremble and cry as he dances around them; the splattered ink pot sobs in relief; and atop it all the small, sky-tinted falcon squawks in surprise. From its precarious perch upon a bronze-lined tome of invaluable worth, it has the audacity to fluster like a delinquent serving boy who has filched the prize loaf from the ruling kitchen. Midnight-tipped wings stretch like a child’s greedy paws, and the bird cries something again, as if to warn the approaching danger away.
“You!” Arthur all but hisses, stabbing an implicating finger towards the scandalised cheek of the miniature falcon. “You are the most outrageously boneheaded person I have ever met! The court must think I am a barbaric, ludicrous jester after that illustration of your utter fatuity – Lord Howel almost swallowed his spoon! What would I have told his wife if that calamity had occurred? ‘Forgive me, my gentle lady, but your valiant lord and husband was startled by the court’s resident imbecile and choked to an unfortunately blue death on his favourite silver cutlery!!‘”
The venomous king throws his fury against the desk and compresses the falcon under a scrutinising glare, fiery breath so close that the bird’s silken feathers quiver with every predacious exhale. The falcon seems to huff, nipping its beak forward in the pretence of clipping the king’s nose, and boldly returns the surliness with a trill akin to laughter. The battle of wills only lasts as long as it takes for the tension in Arthur’s posture to cool into a mellow warmth of its former burn; this isn’t long, and even the bird appears impressed at its apparent skill at dousing the flaring summer candle. It sings an easy victory and promptly receives a puff of amused breath from the other that ruffles its feathers and sends it tottering.
“This isn’t over, Merlin,” groans the king, but he is smiling as the falcon attempts to flatten its jagged feathers back into pristine order. “And give it up – nothing about you is organised anyway.”
A wing whips out and swats him on the cheek. Arthur splutters, reeling, and Merlin sways happily across the polished desk.
“That’s enough,” says the king fondly, after watching the falcon dance triumphantly for a moment. “I am still mad at you – Lord Howel was screeching for your head when I left him.”
Merlin fixes Arthur with an expectant gaze, spry bead eyes almost asking; Well what shall I do about it?
The king waves a vague hand as he moves about the room; pacing off the remnants of his irritation before it brews inside of him again. “Lord Howel is not a man to be denied.”
The falcon squawks. Should I lower my shoulders now then, my lord? Arthur can imagine it mumbling, and his unblemished face lifts with a wicked coy mirth. “Perhaps it best you change back first, Merlin; even one of Lord Howel’s temperament would be disgraced at a head so small.”
He pauses for a brief second, calculating the invisible formula of the bird’s entity, and then adds when Merlin cocks his head in puzzlement; “Not that there’s a substantial difference – once you take away those tremendous ears.”
Much to the king’s astonishment, the falcon doesn’t rise animatedly to the bait.
But this probably explains why the rug miraculously slides out from under his feet in a flash of liquid fire and kicks the breath out of his lungs.
(If the bird stubbornly flies out of reach for the next two hours, simply to make the king’s life that little more taxing, and Arthur figures he could knock two birds down – one of which is infuriatingly literal – with one stone…
Then Lord Howel certainly doesn’t need to know).