A/N: Hey there! This is based on a prompt that commanded all promptees (is that a word?) to pick up the nearest book to them and write Arthur's response to it. Jissai has also written one, called When Arthur Meets JK Rowling & Richard Dawkins, check it out, or even try the prompt yourself! It's suprisingly fun (as long as you're not right next to a really, horribly, awfully boring book. That would be bad)
Hope you like it - reviews are always much appreciated :)
Arthur Pendragon sat down comfortably on his cushy bed, having cleared out all of those nasty word-boxes that he had found mysteriously appearing in his chambers over the past few days.
He refused to read them.
He told his father it was because they incited sorcery and the black arts.
He told his knights it was because he was too busy attempting to train them into something vaguely resembling an army.
He told Merlin it was none of his business.
Just as he buried his pretty, blonde face into his pillow there was a loud crashing sound, and another wretched book came crashing out of the sky, landing on the floor with an enormous thud.
Arthur poked the large, blue thing with his trusty sword.
The large, blue thing - that, if given the option, preferred to go by the name of, 'Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable' - did nothing in response.
Arthur sheathed his sword, feeling a little silly.
He considered screaming, crying and stomping his feet; calling for the guards and demanding that the abomination be removed from his sight. But, on second thought, that seemed slightly childish.
So, instead, he picked the book up.
The first thing he noticed about it was that it was rather heavy, and the spine was withered, suggesting that the books owner perhaps consulted it regularly.
He flicked it open past the contents page.
"'What has this babbler to say?' is substantially the question of every one to whom a new book is offered."
He was fairly confident that he could guarantee that he had never once, in his life, asked that question to himself when beginning a book.
He did, however, frequently think it when in conversation with Merlin.
When Arthur began reading the strange book, he had little to no idea what it was talking about. Unbeknownst to Arthur, this was because he spoke in anachronistic 20th Century idioms, and the book he held in his hands was first published in 1870.
However, he soon found himself somewhat enthralled by the strange thing.
Lying on his bed, legs kicked up in the air, chin resting in his palms, he felt compelled to confess to the book his deepest darkest secret:
"I don't like reading."
The book seemed to understand him.
It seemed to invite Arthur in deeper, letting him look up definitions and derivations of words that hadn't been invented yet, and giving him the courage to develop his reading abilities to that of the average modern seven year old (or indeed the average seven year old in Camelot, because apparently even the Camelot peasantry can read).
Merlin was surprised, to say the least, to see that Arthur was already awake when he entered his chambers the following morning.
But that was not what surprised Merlin the most.
"Are you reading, sire?"
"Yes, Merlin. I am the Crown Prince of Camelot, I do have some skills."
Merlin looked over to the bed, its mattress clearly untouched. "Have you been up all night reading?" the incredulity in his voice now evident.
Arthur growled in response.
Merlin couldn't quite believe it. He shook his head, trying to shake away the image of Arthur reading. It didn't work. "Gaius thinks he might have managed to sort out that problem with the books materialising in your room... Not that it seems to be much of a problem anymore... But still, Gaius wanted me to tell you... He wanted me to tell you..." Merlin screwed up his eyes in concentration, but it was no good.
Arthur's strange behaviour had completely thrown him.
"Can you not relay a simple message, Merlin?"
"Oh! For heaven's sake! Do it yourself! I'm not your go-between!" Merlin exclaimed, as the tips of his ears gradually reddened.
Arthur paused, squinted at Merlin, and flipped through the pages of his book.
"Go-between," he announced. "A person who acts as an intermediary; one who acts as an agent between two parties. The central character of L. P. Hartley's novel The Go-Between (1953) is a young boy who innocently carries messages between two doomed lovers, the daughter of an aristocratic family and a tenant farmer."
Merlin frowned. "1953?"
There was no way this was going to end well.
"This thing calls itself a 'Dictionary of Phrase and Fable'. There's lots of stuff about us in here, did you know that? But they've spelt Gwaine's name wrong. And what's this about some Lady of The Lake being your mistress?"
Merlin smacked his forehead.
There was definitely no way it was going to end well.