Title: Liable To Error
Pairing/s: None (very light shades of Arthur/Merlin, or even Arthur/Merlin's magic)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Knights, Kilgharrah
Summary: When Arthur's teasing gets a little too far, Merlin reacts in the dumbest way possible.
Word Count: 842
Prompt: #11 Temptation
Author's Notes: Unbeta'd, so I apologize for any mistakes.
Merlin attacked the smooth metal surface with a fervour it probably didn’t deserve. He rubbed and rubbed, removing not only the ground-in dirt but also layers of paint. The damn thing – an old shield of Arthur’s – was by now gleaming like a mirror. It almost hurt to look at it.
He was sitting in the corner of the training fields, surrounded by odd bits of armour and weaponry. Arthur and the knights were having at it with their usual cheerful enthusiasm, utterly terrifying all the squires and guardsmen.
‘It’s getting boring,’ Gwaine was saying. ‘We should spice things up.’
‘I have an idea,’ Arthur said. ‘Why not ask Merlin to use his magic?’ The knights – everyone around the field, really – snorted openly or tried to conceal their amusement. Merlin seethed.
Of all the ways – of all the possible ways he expected Arthur to react to the magic, most of which involved his immediate and painful execution – this was the last. Really, Arthur acted as if it was all a big joke.
He had discovered the book one sunny afternoon. Merlin had carelessly left it somewhere in the open and before he knew it, Arthur was leafing through the pages with a dark frown on his face.
‘Are you studying magic?’
Merlin might have stumbled at that and dropped everything he was holding – a few of Gaius’ priceless concoctions. They fell and crashed at his feet, splattering him with multi-coloured liquid.
‘Um. Yes?’ he said, the mental picture of an axe clear in his head (or over his head, in this case).
Arthur raised his eyes. And snorted.
‘Right,’ he said.
And that was it.
It had been like that ever since – Arthur dropping snide remarks or throwing casual insults to the general amusement of his knights. It was him going, No Merlin, you don’t have to wash that floor. I mean it. And when Merlin started smiling and wanted to offer his thanks, Arthur said, Just wave your hands and make it clean. You know. Magically.
All those times, Merlin had been fighting the urge to explode. The temptation was too strong, eating at him constantly. Because he could. And Arthur…
There was only one person he could voice his frustration to, and that was Kilgharrah. The dragon did his fair share of laughing before pointing out, rather reasonably, that it was better that way for everyone concerned.
Merlin prided himself on being patient and self-sacrificing, but this was just too much. And now – with not only Arthur, but also Camelot’s knights and nobility watching – the temptation was too great.
‘You know what, fine,’ he said, tossing the dirty rag away. ‘I will.’
He walked out to meet Arthur on the open field. Arthur was smirking at him, with the knights cheering and gathering around in a loose circle to watch.
‘Go easy on me,’ Arthur said to the general amusement.
Merlin let a grin creep over his face.
‘Sure,’ he said lightly, flexing his hands. Arthur gave him a last mock-salute and positioned himself into a battle stance.
‘Fight!’ Sir Leon yelled; Arthur charged.
With a casual wave of his hand, Merlin sent him flying.
It looked much worse than it really was. Arthur was knocked back into the air and crashed into the ground immediately afterwards, Merlin’s magic cushioning his fall. He was lying in the grass, breathing deeply, while deadly silence descended over the training field.
‘Will that be all, sire?’ Merlin said sarcastically. He saw some of the knights reach for their weapons and thought, belatedly, that it wasn’t his brightest idea.
Arthur picked himself up. His eyes never left Merlin, wide-open and incredulous.
This time he charged without warning; Merlin was prepared though. He wrenched the wooden sword out of Arthur’s hands and had it burst into flames. Then he knocked Arthur to the ground again. His magic – always easily bending to his will – now seemed slow, reluctant. Even reproachful.
Definitely not the best idea, Merlin thought.
‘Do you submit, sire?’ he asked, because he was clearly a moron. But it was just too tempting.
‘Yes,’ Arthur said into the deathly silence. He really had no choice; Merlin’s magic held him firmly (but stupidly gently) and struggling was beneath his dignity.
Merlin let him up. He warily eyed the other knights, whose swords, real swords, were already unsheathed.
Arthur walked up to him. There was something cold and dangerous in his gaze but Merlin didn’t let it intimidate him.
‘You got what you asked for, sire,’ he said quietly, only for Arthur to hear.
‘That I did,’ Arthur murmured back. Then he caught Merlin unawares by laughing loudly and clapping him on the shoulders. ‘Well now,’ he said loudly. ‘Looks like you’re not totally useless after all.’
Everyone visibly relaxed. So did Merlin, grinning up at Arthur. Maybe he would be forgiven. Maybe everything would be fine—
‘Merlin,’ Arthur said into his ear, voice dripping with acid. ‘You are never getting out of the stocks.’
--on the other hand, maybe not.