AN: This is just a silly, fun look at what Arthur might have gone through while he was stuck in Avalon. Not one of my better works. It was the result of a couple of late nights and a few drinks. Happy New Year everyone! All the best, Ella
The Ten Things That Are Intolerable About Avalon
A list compiled by one Arthur Pendragon
1. Everyone is a Merlin/Emrys groupie.
Groupie, a term Arthur learned as he watched the twentieth century pass by from his seat on the sidelines, was the perfect word for the Merlin/Emrys fanaticism he was surrounded by. His caregiver when he had first arrived mortally wounded and in desperate pain was a girl named Freya. Her unending crush on his hapless, albeit magical, manservant would have been more annoying if the girl hadn't been so sweet.
Then when he had been reunited with Lancelot, he learned of his ex-knight's obsession with the warlock. And wasn't that a kick in the backside that his knight had known about Merlin's magic for years before Arthur.
Every creature he met would sing Merlin's praises. Most of them had not even met him before. Arthur was sure they would have been disappointed if they had met the real shabbily dressed, ill-mannered manservant.
On one memorable occurrence he was meeting with a human-friendly Sidhe family, and the youngest, no bigger than his thumb had asked him with an awed voice if he knew the Emrys.
"Yes," Arthur sighed, used to the question after being in Avalon for three centuries by that point. "He was my servant."
"You serviced Emrys!" the young one had exclaimed, grabbing hold of Arthur's arm.
"No, he was my servant."
"But you talked to him?"
"And he talked to you?"
"That is how conversations work."
"And you saw him?"
"And you were in his presence?"
"And you touched him?"
"Yes. No! Not like ... that way. Just friendly touches."
"Did he touch you?"
"I, he ... yes."
"That must have been amazing!"
The little Sidhe, Earnan, wouldn't leave him alone for the next four centuries. Constantly asking him about the great Emrys, it didn't matter how much Arthur would try to tell him how Merlin was the worst manservant ever. It didn't matter when he told Earnan how Merlin was always late and never completed his chores. Earnan loved Merlin, and because Arthur had known him so well, he loved Arthur too.
"If it wouldn't be too much to ask," Earnan's parents had taken him aside, "would you please stop telling Earnan that Emrys never did his chores? He's refusing to tidy his room or help prepare the harvest, because he says Emrys wouldn't do it."
And so, Arthur sat Earnan down and told him of the bravery and loyalty, and how selfless he had been. How he did so much, and never asked for rewards.
As he watched Earnan fly away to help his parents with the harvest, Lancelot joined him on the bench. They stared out over the water. The magic created a permanent fog between the isle and the mainland. Sometimes, Arthur liked to think he could see images on the other side.
"That was beautiful," Lancelot said.
Once a year, every creature and spirit would gather for an annual Merlin celebration. An honest to goodness celebration during which time they spied on his manservant. It was moments like those that made Arthur question the decisions he had made in his life. Arthur felt it his duty to heckle his manservant from afar, and he resolutely ignored the way Freya and Lancelot would murmur about how cute he was being as he made fun of the latest fashion Merlin was forced to endure.
"What about this one?" Freya asked, laughing as she pointed out Merlin, who had decided to put on his old man disguise, walked around London with trousers that puffed out around the thighs and jackets with equally puffy sleeve caps.
"What is he wearing?" Arthur yelled, feeling a keen sense of second-hand embarrassment for Merlin. "That's it, I think Albions hour of need has finally arrived. Surely everyone who has the misfortune of looking at him will die of horror."
"Come on, Arthur, it's not that bad," Lancelot tried to say, but he was doubled over with laughter. He had his hand on Freya's shoulder as he tried to control himself.
Still, nothing could have prepared them for seeing Merlin in the shortest short shorts Arthur had ever seen. He felt as if something was squeezing his chest as he watched Merlin bend over to pick something up in the 1970s. He was looking the same age as when he first arrived at Camelot, and Arthur stared with fascination at the wonderful posterior he had not appreciated near enough when he was alive.
"Wow ... you should have had Merlin wearing short shorts ages ago," Freya said as she leaned against him openly stared at his manservant's backside. "You were missing a real opportunity there."
If he heard one more compliment about how brave, wise and good-looking his manservant was, Arthur would not be responsible for his actions.
2. There is nothing to do.
Only people truly bored could decide to make a list of ten things that shaped Avalon. It was Freya's idea. She had watched the hippy movement and loved their creative and laid back approach to expressing themselves. Lancelot would pick her flowers and she would braid them in her hair. It was around this time she went through a phase of trying to get Lancelot and Arthur to open up about their feelings. Arthur spent the decade trying to avoid her.
Still, just as the 70s rolled around, Freya forced Lancelot and Arthur to write ten things that represented their time in Avalon.
There was only so often Arthur could train with Lancelot and go for walks with Freya. Over the millennia, Arthur tried to come up with new and creative ways to cure his boredom.
For one memorable decade, Arthur tried to become a unicorn farmer. As the only wild, non-sentient being in Avalon, they were the obvious choice for livestock. Unfortunately when his herd grew to be a hundred strong, Arthur was faced with the dilemma of having no actual purpose for that many unicorns.
"In the old days," Anhora said as he drank heavily from his cup. "We would have just set them free to the mortal realm."
"Why can't we do that now? There's so many," Arthur lamented, watching his herd barely able to move around the field there were so many.
"With those automobiles being invented? Do you know how many animals are being accidently killed by those monstrosities? If we were to release unicorns into the mortal realm now, we would be condemning every rural community to a painful death," Anhora said.
"So, what am I supposed to do with a hundred unicorns?" Arthur asked.
"They make good presents."
That year Freya, Lancelot, and Earnan got three, and he gave one to every family he would meet.
3. Freya and Lancelot have no sense of decency.
Arthur had noticed how close Freya and Lancelot got over the centuries. He would need to be blind not to notice, after all, as the only three humans on the magical isle, they spent every hour of every day together. Arthur thought they made a good couple, both honourable and nice, just this side of shy. If he were honest with himself, he thought it rather sweet watching them awkwardly fumble around each other.
Until two hundred years after his arrival.
It was a normal day. Arthur had enjoyed some time alone, walking around the shoreline and wondering where Merlin would be the next time they looked in on him. Last year during the celebration, he had been in a place filled with people with olive complexions and vibrant clothing. He wondered if he was still in those bustling markets and talking in foreign languages.
He had just arrived back in the cabin he shared with Lancelot and Freya when his world shifted. He found the two entangled together and very, very naked.
After that it didn't matter where he went, or what he was doing, it seemed Lancelot and Freya couldn't keep their hands off of each other. Suddenly there was nothing sweet and fumbling in their courtship. It took another hundred years to calm down, and by that time he had seen more parts of Lancelot and Freya than he had ever wanted to.
"You know," Freya said, in their seventh-century together, as she put ribbons in Arthur's hair and he read the latest book Merlin had published (he never did figure out how Earnan kept getting his hands on the books). "Are you listening to me?"
"Hmmm," Arthur muttered, flipping the page, eager to read more about the Japanese culture Merlin was documenting. Freya gave a sharp tug on his hair. "Ow, what?"
"I was just thinking ... it's sad to see you by yourself. I have Lancelot, but you're just pining for Merlin, and I thought-"
"I'm not pining for Merlin."
"Whatever you say," Freya said, "but maybe if you got too lonely, you could join us."
"As in ... join you?" Arthur asked, gazing thoughtfully towards Lancelot who was harvesting some apples from a nearby tree, shirtless and rather gorgeous looking. "Wouldn't that be awkward?"
"We have been the best of friends for so many centuries. I've seen you with pink hair, completely nude, drunk to the point of incoherency, and pissing on a random tree," Freya said thoughtfully. "It could never be awkward."
But it was. They never spoke of it again.
Though they were more careful after that about when and where they decided to be intimate. Which left Arthur only able to complain about how sickly sweet they were to each other. Lancelot bringing new flowers every day, Freya tucking love notes in Lancelot's chainmail, the two of them dancing inside the cabin to no music. It was ridiculous.
4. The food is terrible.
It was all fruit and vegetables. Arthur was ready to kill for a slab of meat three days after being in Avalon. By the time he returned, he was ready to get out of the lake, grab hold of Merlin, and march them to the nearest food source for a feast of meat. If he made it back to the mortal realm he would never eat another vegetable as long as he lived.
5. The Sidthe are creepy.
Sidhe were creepy. It was a fact of life on Avalon. Most seemed to love causing trouble, hated humans with a deep passion, and would glare at people from bushes. There were some exceptions; some Sidhe loved the human-folk. Earnan, the Merlin-obsessed teenager, only 450 years old, had become a dear friend of Arthur during his time in Avalon. His family would bring Freya leftovers from their harvest, were always keen to show off their magic, and loved to get drunk on nectar.
Most, however, were not like that.
One early morning he woke up to two Sidhe trying to steal Excalibur from its mount on the wall. Roaring with rage, he chased the two swarming balls of light into the open field near the cabin. He cursed them as they flew away.
Lancelot, woken by the noise, stumbled out of his and Freya's room.
"Sidhe?" Lancelot asked, trying to hide his smile behind his hand.
"I swear, I am going to cut off their wings and strap them to the wall," Arthur grumbled.
"I'm sure it will wear off in time."
Pausing mid-step, Arthur took a deep breath and sent a quizzical glance towards Lancelot.
"They were trying to steal Excalibur. What do you mean it will wear off?"
"Oh, so you haven't seen ..." Lancelot flicked his hand towards his hair.
Feeling his stomach heavy with dread, he made his way over to the mirror Freya used to scry on Merlin. It was so much worse than he could have imagined. His hair was bright pink.
It stayed bright pink for one whole decade.
6. Everyone thinks I am in love with Merlin. Which I am not. Obviously.
Yes, he missed Merlin more than anything. And yes, it might be true that now that he was reduced to watching Merlin from afar he took great pleasure in the sharpness of his cheekbones, the bend in the small of his back, and the physical beauty he had never allowed himself to linger on. He might long to be with him once more, dream of him throughout the night, call out his name when he brought himself pleasure, and caught himself talking about him more than Arthur liked. But he was not in love.
Obviously the people had way too much time on their hand in Avalon. It was not just Freya and Lancelot who seemed determined to believe that Arthur was harbouring a deep and unending love for Merlin, but it seemed everywhere he went creatures and spirits all seemed to focus on this supposed love.
Anhora would mention it as he helped Arthur oversee the unicorns.
"You must miss him, you lover seemed like such a nice boy, the time I kidnapped him on that cliff."
Fairies, always obsessed with sex, would give him advice.
"There's this trick with your tongue. I am sure it would pleasure Emrys greatly. If you start practicing now you will be prepared for when the two of you reunite and have more sex."
Water sprites, always eager to tell Arthur in startling detail how they had healed Merlin when the Dorocha had almost killed him, would go out of their way to reassure him they had not touched anywhere that was not necessary.
"Do not worry, Once and Future King, your warlock was unmolested by our hands. We would never wish to impede on soul mates."
The Sidhe were the worst. They loved to enchant his clothing so that it would give explicit details about what he wanted to do with Merlin, and he was sure they were the ones who started most of the rumours. The worst was the dreams. Arthur was positive his erotic dreams of Merlin that left him panting and spent once he woke was brought on by the Sidhe. His suspicions rose as after some particularly memorable dreams, the Sidhe would laugh every time they saw him.
And despite what Lancelot might say, Arthur did not think he was being paranoid.
7. Seeing but unable to do anything.
Wars came and went. Illness swept the land. And still Arthur was stuck, trapped and waiting to be released back into the world.
He watched Merlin fight and heal and do things. It was driving Arthur mad. He wanted to be out there. He wanted to be useful, not just an ex-King with a unicorn hobby farm getting sex tips from magical beings. There were times, when large magical stones were dropping out of the sky and Merlin was flying metal machines in the air, when Arthur was sure this must be Albion's time of need. But still nothing happened.
"It will happen," Lancelot reassured him, one day after practicing their sword fighting.
"How can you be so sure," Arthur asked, pausing to gaze out into the fog covered lake.
"Because I believe in you and Merlin."
8. My life is seen as entertainment.
"Just ... hold me. Please."
Arthur gritted his teeth and reigned in the urge to punch a gnome in the face. Apparently, before his semi-death, the peoples of Avalon had watched his life almost daily. It resulted in many plays and skits being formed, almost all of which showed the heroics of Merlin and left him looking like an oblivious moron. He was not knocked unconscious as often as they seemed to believe.
The worst was how the creatures of Avalon loved to quote random lines. Hardly a day went by he didn't hear some variation of "Mer-lin!" and "Destiney and chicken!" The Sidhe, the bastards they were, took great pleasure in how annoying Arthur found this, and would spend years at a time, following him around, and quoting him endlessly.
9. It is boring.
There was no other way to put it. Over a thousand years with the same people, and nothing every really changed. The Sidhe were always creepy, the fairies obsessed over Sex, Lancelot and Freya were like two newlyweds, and everyone was obsessed with Merlin.
Sometimes he, Freya and Lancelot would drink heavily into the night and just talk.
"Did I ever apologize for killing you?" Arthur asked.
"Oh, sorry about that Freya, you're nice and I wish I hadn't stabbed you," Arthur told her sincerely.
"That's okay. If you hadn't, then Merlin wouldn't have sent me to Avalon, and if I hadn't been here I never would have met Lancelot," Freya said, but that seemed way too complicated for Arthur to follow after so much ale, so he leaned over and hugged the slender woman.
Sometimes their conversations were completely boring, and still there were days when no one would talk.
10. Merlin isn't here. There is no manservant.
Arthur felt the tug back to the mortal realms suddenly and with perfect clarity.
"What is it?" Freya asked, checking his forehead as he swayed in his seat.
"Arthur?" Lancelot put down his dinner and leaned forward.
He stood up, and went to gather Excalibur from its wall mounting. It felt right to have it in his hand once more. Excitement pored through him, and he imagined Merlin's face when he saw his King had finally returned.