Title: Hanging Around
Rating: U/General Audiences
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: "Which one of us is the fool again?"
Word Count: 480
Prompt: #102 Fool
Author's Notes: Not up to my usual standard, my apologies.
Burning as fiercely as the evening sun, the noble king snarled. “Shut up Merlin.”
Merlin responded with a wickedly innocent smile. “Because I was just thinking, I’m certainly not the one currently hanging upside down from a tree branch –”
“Just get me down,” hissed Arthur. He swung a clenched fist blindly through the air with a heave; the servant felt the furious grasp brush through the tips of his hair. The elder tree groaned at their spirited youth, prompting the tangled king to struggle even harder to knock his servant’s head off.
“I’m actually quite enjoying this,” Merlin admitted. He shrugged playfully and took a step back, cackling when the other’s desperately dignified glare followed his movement of glee.
The king huffed upon submitting to his momentary powerlessness and wiggled like a dying tuna to survey the extent of the rope coiled around his leg. No guilt bubbled in Merlin’s moral gut at the bellowing laughter he released at the sight.
“I hate you,” snapped Arthur. The cruel statement would have sounded genuine had anybody but Merlin been privy to the childish declaration, so as it was the servant simply shrugged, hardly fazed.
“Saying mean things like that won’t encourage me to help you, sire.”
“I can say what I please, Merlin, and just order you to assist me.”
“When have I ever done anything you’ve ordered?”
The glare of a starving lion was the reward for his cheek, and Merlin felt his delight fade away just an inch at the sorrowful sight. Arthur’s lips twisted upwards at that (or downwards, one could argue), as if he could read the pages of Merlin’s open book expression, and went back to attacking the rope with his bare hands. The servant grumbled a curse under his breath at the unfortunately flagrant kindness he wore on his sleeve in Arthur’s presence, and dug his feet into the muddy forest earth to prevent himself from helping.
“Merlin,” Arthur called, knowingly.
No, shouted his brain. Let me appreciate this for a little longer.
“Prat,” said his mouth as retrieved the kingly sword from the ground. He passed it up to his friend and tried to ignore the triumphant elation radiating off of Arthur’s skin. “What would you do without me?”
“Probably make a fool of myself less often,” grumbled Arthur, carefully preparing to hack away at the rope. “Step forward a few paces, you’ll cushion my fall.”
“Nothing could cushion your fall.”
Merlin ducked under the swoop of the blade with a laugh.
Arthur chased him the whole way back to Camelot.