Title: April's Fool
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin.
Summary: Merlin had to do something. Arthur hadn't smiled in weeks.
Word Count: 400
Prompt: #102 Fool
Author's Notes: none
He looked ridiculous. There were bright shades of red and gold and a kind of vomit-green sitting on his head, a jester's cap with sharp points and absurd jangling bells. The rest of the outfit was just as ugly as the hat and noisy, too, with little metal bits clinking away every time he moved.
Snickers behind him and whispers gathering around him like smoke but it wasn't for their sake he was dressed the fool.
There'd been too little of laughter lately, his king too stiff and worried about appearing strong and regal and well, kingly to smile. Instead, in the days after Uther's death, he seemed weighed down by the ludicrous formality of the court and miserable with grief and insecurity.
And when Arthur ignored an obvious opening to mock Merlin's ineptitude – the crash of armor down the stairwell seemed to echo for hours and ordinarily Arthur would have been shouting and laughing and mocking him mercilessly and yet all he'd done was grunt and sweep past the mess, Merlin knew he had to do something.
With jingling bells and eye-scorching colours and a stumble or two, Merlin swept into the court. And fell flat on his face. Honestly, it wasn't deliberate but still he hoped it might be enough.
Laughter was already filling the hall and yet when he looked up, it was with such relief that he saw Arthur there, smiling at him. Shaking his head. Trying not to laugh. Looking down so fondly at him that Merlin had to grin.
Arthur grabbed Merlin's arm, pulled him up. Flicking one bell on that ugly hat and snickering when it jangled loudly, Arthur's smile broadened. "I like the hat. It suits you." He turned to the rest of the court. "Merlin has reminded me that spring is the time for fools. An old tradition of April first when tricks and jokes are played to all, be they noble or peasant. A Fool's Day." He reached up and tugged on Merlin's hat, making it ring with sound. "We shall celebrate tonight. And Merlin will sit as King of Fools for one night before he goes back to being just my fool."
Then he laughed when Merlin scowled back at him and Arthur clapped his shoulder and Merlin felt lighter than he'd been in ages. Felt like it would be alright after all.
All it took was a stupid hat.