Title: Frogs and Fools
Rating: T for tomfoolery and…you know…Gwaine…
Summary: In which Gaius goes away for a week and Merlin doesn't handle his independence very well.
WARNINGS: SPOILERS THROUGH SERIES 3
Disclaimer: Shine and BBC own Merlin, not me
AN – For Morena Evensong, who requested Merlin - Gaius + April Fool's Day + Out of control prankyness. I read the request and my brain exploded a little. I know this isn't quite what the prompt was asking for, but I hope it is enjoyed nonetheless. Again, if anyone else has any requests, I'll see what I can do.
Gwaine knows about Merlin's magic in this, because I like Gwaine knowing about Merlin's magic. We'll just say this follows 'Curiosity Killed the Knight' for simplicity's sake.
Total crack is ahead.
"There's a village that's in need of a physician," Gaius said to Merlin over dinner, "And Uther's delegated me to go and investigate the situation."
"Oh," Merlin said, "When are we leaving? I'll need to tell Arthur."
"I'll be leaving in the morning. You'll be staying here," Gaius said, "After all, you've your own duties to attend to, and I'll need you to make my deliveries for me."
Merlin got a rather gleeful look on his face that made Gaius flinch slightly.
"And while I'm gone, I don't want you to do any magic whatsoever, save for the most dire of emergencies," he said.
Merlin's face fell instantly. "But, Gaius –"
"Fine. No magic," Merlin said, "I swear on my mother's grave."
"Your mother isn't dead, Merlin, she hasn't a grave for you to swear on," Gaius said, "Maybe I should stay here –"
"No!" Merlin said loudly, and at Gaius's glance in his direction, smiled and said much quieter, "No, no. They need you there."
"Then swear on Arthur's life that you won't use magic except in an emergency," Gaius said, "I won't leave until you do. Swear it."
Merlin pouted before, sighing, and saying, "I swear on Arthur's life I won't use magic except for emergencies."
Behind his back, his fingers were crossed.
Twenty minutes after Gaius had left, and Merlin was up the stairs and paging through his magic book. He'd marked several spells he'd wanted to try out over the past months, but all conversations about attempting them with Gaius ended with a raised eyebrow and a guilt trip, which in turn meant that Merlin didn't bother with it. But Gaius's eyebrow wasn't here right now, nor were Gaius's surprisingly effective guilt trips. And that meant Merlin got to experiment with his magic guilt free.
He wasn't an idiot about it, though. He'd locked the door and shut the windows. He sat down at the table, staring at the book, and debating where to start. "Invisibility, flying," he muttered, flipping through the book, and then he landed on a page, and he said, "Oh, that would be fun."
He was half of the way through the spell when someone knocked loudly on the door. Merlin jumped slightly, his mouth suddenly dry. "Merlin!" Lancelot's voice called from the other side of the door, "Merlin, let us in."
Merlin released a breath he hadn't quite realized he'd been holding, and, even though it was just Lancelot, hid the book under a cloth that sat on the table. He walked over and pulled open the door, and found both Lancelot and Gwaine standing there.
"Gaius told us to make sure you don't use your magic while he's away," Lancelot said, and twitched his head in Gwaine's direction, "But I think it only planted ideas in his head. Anyway, Merlin, it really…what are you doing?"
"Um," Merlin said, trying and failing to be nonchalant, "Not magic?"
Gwaine and Lancelot both pushed past him into the room. Merlin shut the door behind them. "Gaius was really adamant about you not doing any magic while he was away," Lancelot continued, "He seemed concerned that you weren't going to listen to him. Right, Gwaine?"
Gwaine had wandered over by Gaius's books, and said, "Hey, Merlin, can we turn someone into a frog?"
"No, not frogs," Merlin said, "But how do you feel about talking plants –"
"No," Lancelot said. "No, no, no. I promised Gaius that I wouldn't let you do magic. I promised him, and you know how I feel about promises."
"Then leave," Gwaine said.
Their conversation went on in a similar fashion until Merlin suddenly realized he was late for work. Lancelot walked him straight to Arthur's door, Gwaine following behind, calling Lancelot a spoilsport the entire way. Every time that Merlin thought that he'd found an opening to escape and attempt some magical mischief, he would turn around to find Lancelot staring at him, arms crossed, a suspicious look on his face..
When he walked out of the stables, he wasn't surprised to find Lancelt and Gwaine waiting for him. "But I'm done with work!" Merlin protested, "I want to do something fun."
They argued for quite a while. Then, somehow (and Merlin credited Gwaine) they ended up down in the lower town at a tavern. They all sat at the table, none of them really saying anything. Finally, Gwaine slammed his mug down on the table, and whined, "I'm bored. Being a knight is too legal for me."
Merlin hummed slightly. Lancelot ignored them.
Gwaine drummed his fingers on the bar.
Merlin was silent for a moment, and then said, "Would you say that your boredom is becoming…critical?"
Gwaine perked up instantly. "I'd say it was at an emergency," Gwaine said, "I can feel myself fading, Merlin."
"This isn't an emergency," Lancelot hissed.
"Yes, it is," Merlin said, "Did you not hear him? The man is fading, Lancelot!"
"Hm, really? And what kind of emergency would you classify this as, then?" Lancelot said, "Because I am dying to know."
"A boring emergency," Merlin said, "If we do not do something soon, Gwaine will die of boredom."
"You don't want that on your conscience, do you?" Gwaine said, slapping money down on the bar.
"I say it isn't," Lancelot said, "I say that you sit back down and not even think about using you-know-what."
"And I say that it is," Merlin answered, "Gwaine?"
"Emergency declared," Gwaine said, rocketing to his feet and draining what was left of his drink, "Let us go forth and de-emergencize the kingdom!"
"Sorry, Lancelot," Merlin said, shrugging helplessly and letting Gwaine tow him out of the tavern, "Two-to-one, we win."
"Oh, God," Lancelot murmured, jogging to catch up with them, "This isn't going to end well."
It would've done little to help his feelings of dread to know that he was right.
By the end of the day, chickens were laying purple eggs. Somehow flowers were talking to people, saying, "Oi! How'd you like it if I just up and picked you?" before spitting pollen in the face of whoever was trying to pick them. Both Merlin and Gwaine were giggling like madmen, and it was all that Lancelot could do to keep up with them.
Of course, there's only so many flowers that can be enchanted and eggs brightened before Uther's magic-senses were lit off. The king – though still not up to his former self – had been recovering rapidly from Morgana's attack. But, the point was that now Camelot was on high alert for searching out sorcerers.
"When the guards come to haul you off to your execution," Lancelot said, sitting on a chair in Gaius's rooms, "Don't say that I didn't warn you."
"Relax," Merlin said, shutting the magic book, "I'm done. And when Gaius comes back, I'll tell him you were wonderful and responsible and –"
"Boring," Gwaine said, "Why do we have to be done?"
"Because," Merlin said, "Lancelot's right. It was fun, but now we're done."
"You just rhymed," Gwaine pointed out, "Which I think is a sign from the universe that you should do more magic. Oh! Or, maybe, we could go and get that sword and –"
"No, no sword," Merlin said, glaring at him, "How many times do I have to tell you that –"
"Arthur's the only one who can get it," Gwaine said, rolling his eyes, "Yes, yes, I know. Can't blame a man for trying though, can you?"
And so ended the first day of Gaius's absence.
The second day passed without incidence. As did the third. But it was the fourth day where Lancelot woke up to a castle gone made. Brooms were dancing. Water from the pump was drifting a rather upward direction. Horses and chickens and livestock were intermittently changing what noises they made – cows neighing, dogs clucking, and so on.
Lancelot pounded on the door, calling, "Merlin! I know you're in there, so open up!"
Merlin whipped open the door, and said, "I swear, I didn't do it." There was a book flying like a bird around the ceiling. Merlin glanced up, and amended, "Okay, I did that. But nothing outside of this room has anything to do with me!"
Gwaine came skidding to a stop next to them. "We're all to start searching for the sorcerer responsible, Arthur's orders," Gwaine said, looking at Merlin, "Look, this is awkward, but I feel obligated to ask. Did you –"
"No," Merlin retorted, "I'm not stupid."
The book fell with one last, desperate flap and landed squarely on his head.
In the end, it wasn't very difficult to find the sorcerer. After all, he was running rampant through the castle, randomly enchanting whatever happened to catch his eye. All Merlin, Lancelot, and Gwaine had to do was follow the ever increasing chaos that the castle had become. Eventually, they rounded a corner to find the sorcerer, busy enchanting a tapestry to sing anytime someone went past it.
"Hey!" Lancelot said.
The sorcerer stopped, and turned to regard them with a rather unsteady glare.
"Who are you?" Merlin said, "And what do you want from Camelot?"
"I am Merik, the destroyer!" the sorcerer screeched, "I am Merik, the toppler of empires! Merik, the greatest magician in the entire world! Merik, your doom!"
"Sorry, I didn't quite catch your name," Gwaine said, and then, quieter, to Merlin, "I think he's a bit wonky in the head."
Merik twitched a little, and then sent a ball of fire straight for the trio. Merlin, squeaking slightly, yelled out the first spell to pop into his head. The fire disappeared. Merik cocked his head, and then…vanished. It was like he had dropped through the floor, leaving nothing but a discarded pile of the clothes and such that he had been wearing.
Gwaine, Lancelot, and Merlin could only stare at where the sorcerer had stood moments before.
"Merlin," Lancelot finally said, "I think you melted him."
Merlin looked fairly stricken. "I don't even know what spell I used," he said, "It just…popped into my head."
Of course, then something started moving beneath the pile of clothes. A rejected croaking sound echoed in the hall. Gwaine looked happier than that time he'd found Percival stealing chocolate, and said, "You turned him into a frog!"
"Did I?" Merlin asked faintly, "It just sort of happened."
Gwaine crouched down and poked through the clothes before picking up Merik. He regarded the amphibian for a minute before saying, "Merlin, this is a toad. Not a frog. I am severely disappointed in you."
Of course, it was at this point that Arthur came walking down the hall, sword drawn and two guards flanking him. Merlin shoved all of Merik's things into Lancelot's arms and pushed the knight around the corner, out of Arthur's sight.
"Gwaine, Merlin," Arthur said, "The sorcerer came through here. Where did he go?"
Merlin and Gwaine pointed in opposite directions.
Arthur sighed, and just said, "Lovely. I wish I could say that I was surprised," and went to walk past them. Of course, it was then that he noticed Gwaine was holding the now much smaller Merik in his hands. "I'm going to regret asking this," Arthur said, looking at Gwaine, "But why do you have a frog?"
"Frog? I don't have a frog," Gwaine said. From his hands, Merik let out a rather terrified croak.
"Yes, you do," Arthur said slowly, "Its right there in your hands."
"Oh, him?" Gwaine said, regarding the small animal in his hands curiously, as if noticing it for the first time, "He's a toad, not a frog. And I'm making sure he doesn't try to make a run for it. He's a tricky one."
Arthur looked at Merlin, who shrugged helplessly, and then back at Gwaine. "You should know that my days of taking you seriously have just come to an end," Arthur said, and walked away, looking over his shoulder every now and again at Gwaine and Merlin until he was out of sight.
Gwaine turned to look at Merlin, and held up the evil sorcerer-toad. "What do we do with this one, then?"
Around the corner, Merik's things in his hands, Lancelot began to bash his head against the wall.
When Gaius returned, he found the castle was still standing. It relieved him more than he cared to admit. He was even more relieved to walk into his chambers to find them in relatively good order. He had been suffering from nightmare images of opening the door to find nothing but ash and chaos, and Merlin sitting in the middle of it all, saying, "Honestly, Gaius, it wasn't my fault."
There was no sign of ash or chaos or Merlin's excuses, though. Come to think of it, there was no sign of Merlin at all. Gaius pushed away any and all irrational feelings and images of Merlin sitting in the dungeon and saying, "Honestly, Gaius, it really wasn't my fault!"
There was a knock on the door. Gaius turned to find Lancelot, the poor young man looking exhausted and clutching a jar to his chest. The jar looked like it had some sort of toad in it. Every single terrifying image of Merlin left to his own devices for a week flashed across Gaius's head once more. "Sir Lancelot," Gaius said, "What can I do for you?"
"I tried to stop him," Lancelot said bleakly, "But Gwaine got to him, too. There was nothing I could do."
Gaius didn't say anything, just raised his eyebrow and looked at the jar, and said, "Sir Gwaine?"
"What? Oh, no, this is Merik. He was attacking," Lancelot said, "And Merlin turned him into a toad and now we don't really know what to do with him. But I don't know how you do it, Gaius."
"Training yards with Arthur," Lancelot said, setting the jar down, "But every time I turned around, he was trying to do some sort of magic."
"Well, you kept him alive," Gaius said kindly, "It's better than most would have been able to do. Would you like to sit?"
More collapsing than actually sitting, Lancelot fell into a chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Gaius recognized the symptoms instantly, and fetched a decanter from one of his cupboards along with two cups. He poured the liquid, and set one of the cups down in front of Lancelot. The knight regarded it curiously as Gaius sat down across from him. "Drink it," Gaius said, "All of it. I find it's the best remedy for dealing with Merlin and the subsequent headaches."
Lancelot took a large swig, and paused, swishing the liquid around in his mouth. He looked up at Gaius who was sipping from his own cup and smiling quietly. "Gaius," he said after a moment, "This is whiskey."
"That it is, Sir Lancelot," Gaius said, "That it is."