Jointly written between me and Carwa111. Hope you enjoy, and yeah.
Merlin faceplanted the table, groaning.
Maybe he shouldn't have had that last tankard... But Gwaine shouldn't have had the last five.
Heck, he had just started clambering onto the table for Camelot's sake.
Merlin let his head sink back down onto the wood.
Here we go...
Gwaine looked over at his friend, obviously being a lightweight, responsible spoilsport and grinned. He'd show him... he'd show all of the sensible idiots who would wake up the next morning without headaches.
And with that thought in mind, Gwaine opened his mouth, and...
Arthur is a princess and Percy loves his guns,
And Tristan's always walking round as though he has the runs.
Sir Daniel is a prissy and Erec's really vain,
That pompous ass sir Peredur, he really is a pain...
Gwaine peeked through his ale fuelled daze to see that everyone was staring at him, the other knights scowling, the rest of the taverns customers simply grinning.
I mean, it's not every night you see a knight of Camelot making a fool of himself...
Well, then again. Gwaine...
The knight continued.
Then we get Sir Bedivere, he's alright I guess,
But Sir Owain and Elyan really are just total pests.
And Kay is just an asshole, he's like a bloody sore,
(It was at this point that Gwaine tumbled from the table, but jumped up. Seeming unhurt. Then throws his arm around Leon...)
And Leon, my friend, well what's there to say? He's just a total bore...
Gwaine pushed away from Leon, striking a ridiculous pose.
And now for the most amazing, fantabulous, incredible, most dashing and handsome...
Before he continued, the other knights burst in with,
"Out of tune,"
The Knights all paused, uncertain how to finish, and Merlin dragged his head up from his arms.
"Clot-pole!" before his head flopped back down onto his crossed arms with a thunk.
Arthur nodded in his direction, clearly indicating his own drunken state, as Merlin could neither see nor hear him.
"Thank you Merlin. Clot-pole."
Gwaine sulked for a whole three seconds before he got over it, flopping down onto the table.
"Well, If you wanna be that way, I won't tell you about the mysterious little chap who follows you around and saves your ass all the time then, eh Princess?"
Merlin's head shot up in a way that would have been comical if anyone was watching. As it is, everyone was watching Gwaine with looks ranging from bemusement to curiosity to general 'gods you are an idiot when drunk Gwaine'.
Arthur, unfortunately, was in the curiosity group.
"What's that Gwaine?"
"Well, Actually, I think Mer-"
"Honestly!" Merlin burst out, cutting him off, "You're not going to go on about that bloody invisible unicorn that follows Arthur everywhere? Are you?"
He turned to the others, "It's a drunken Gwaine thing..." he explained, "And a sure sign that it is time to head back..."
Gwaine, fortunately, seemed to have got the idea, and went with it.
"Merlin! I told you, Its real!" he turned to Arthur, "Arthur, you know you told me about that unicorn you killed then resurrected and all that magical crap? Well, I think it had a kid and it follows you around."
"The why can't I see it?"
"... Because you killed one and you're not pure enough..."
"So why can you, of all people, see this 'unicorn'."
"More like hallucinated in a drunken stupor..." Kay muttered, still sore about the sore insult.
Gwaine didn't seem to hear him.
"Because I am awesome and brilliant and-"
"Heading home!" Merlin butt in, linking arms with the drunken, blabbering idiot, and tugging him out the door.
Gwaine was slurring incomprehensible nonsense for a few minutes, until the streets went quiet.
Then he rounded on Merlin, jabbing him, drunkenly, with a finger.
"You know, Merlin, for someone who's able to slow down time, defy aging, defeat entire armies, control dragons, control the elements, defeat evil sorcerers, defeat evil high priestesses, defeat evil and stupid magical creatures, call an army of sorcerers to do his every whim, hide from Uther Pendragon that you have magic, whilst also keeping it from Arthur, whilst saving the princess's life countless times, whilst doing chores whilst saving Camelot whilst being a dogsbody..." he drifted off, looking confused, "What was I saying? Oh, right. Yeah, for all that, you sure are a lightweight."
"Yeah, considering he's the most powerful sorcerer in the world and all..."
Gwaine span around,
"Exac... Oh. Bugger."
Merlin was likewise speechless as Arthur grinned at them, and raised an eyebrow.
"What? I figured out about the magic months ago. Right, Emrys? Mr Saving Camelot every other week from the shadows?" He shook his head at the bewildered stares, and he glared indignantly,
"Well, I'm not a idiot..."
"Is that debatable, Sire?" Leon asked, coming up behind him, then took in the other two's expressions as the rest of the knights joined them. "What's going on?"
"Gwaine let slip that Merlin had magic..." Arthur said, shrugging, and Leon snorted.
"Wasn't it obvious?" he asked, and Percival nodded.
"Clear as day..."
"Absolutely," Elyan agreed, then "Nice job with the spear the other day, Merlin."
"Yeah," Bedivere continued, "And that falling branch knocked out another three. Not bad, but not your best in my opinion..."
"Well duh. He destroyed the immortal army...Of course a branch isn't that impressive..."
"Then again, he can do a lot with a branch. And a rockfall. And a chandelier..."
"Yeah, shame you can't have one of those handy all the times."
"Well, who knows?" Daniel said, "He could. I mean, he can probably get his pet dragon to carry it for him..."
"Aaahh," Erec said, "So it was Merlin who was meeting those dragons that keep landing in the clearing."
"Yup. But the tavern excuse from Gaius gave me reason to give him more chores and-"
"H-HANG ON!" Merlin butt in, seemingly pissed. "What do you mean it was an excuse to give me more chores?" Then he blinked, "And what do you mean you've known about my magic?"
Bedivere whooped in triumph and turned to Percival, holding his hand out.
"I said Gwaine would get him drunk enough to admit it tonight. I win the bet. Pay up."
As Percival grumbled and counted out a load of coins to his cheerful companion, Gwaine seemed to visibly sober up. He turned to Merlin, swinging an arm around his shoulders.
"Sorry mate. It was getting tedious... I didn't know they knew, but yeah... Anyway, you didn't think I'd get drunk on Eight Tankards, did you?"
No-one could figure out why Merlin suddenly gave an evil grin.
"You don't know what I did to those tankards..." he said, and Gwaine immediately sobered up completely.
"Merlin..." he took a small step back, shifting around out of the young man's reach.
"What did you... Did you do magic shizzle on me?"
"Gwaine, I'm offended. Being Gaius' apprentice does have its few advantages... namely access to a few, minor, yet fairly potent hallucinogenics."
Gwaine's eyes had gone slightly hazy as Merlin spoke, and he was now looking just over Merlin's shoulder, a look of complete bemusement on his face.
"Merlin... you know the other day, when I said about flying pigs... there is one riding a unicorn just behind you, and he looks as if he is hungry... well I think it's a he...wait I'll check..."
He took a few giddy steps towards a haystack, then gave a huge yawn.
"Oh, look. Now they're flying away... to dreamland... I want to go to dreamland... wait up piggy..."
He took off running, and tripped over his own cloak, flying into the fountain.
The others gave their soaking wet, clearly delusional, ridiculously happy comrade a look, before simultaneously shaking their heads and turning back to Merlin, who was back to staring at them, obviously irritated.
"You knew?" His voice held a tone that they all dreaded. The, 'wait, you made me do something, and it was unnecessary?' tone, which was always followed by some sort of coincidental 'accident'. Arthur just had a strong urge to run... but Merlin wouldn't do anything to a King...right?
None-the-less, he wasn't sticking around to see what a drunk Merlin would do.
He head past him, clapping him on the shoulder.
"Why don't you sleep on it. Then we can have a... chat."
He didn't stop to hear the response, and head off up the street.
He passed Gwaine just as he was getting out of the fountain, and gave a very loud yawn, stretching out and knocking him back into the water with a huge splash.
The other knights looked at the retreating-there was no other word for it-king, then between themselves, then at Merlin, and his still pissed off expression, then back between themselves.
With hasty goodnights and see you in the morning Merlin's, they literally legged it after the king, their metaphorical tails between their legs.
Merlin had a lot of ideas for revenge on the knights, their glorious king especially. He could crush them, humiliate them by hanging them up by their ankles of Camelot's highest tower, enchant chickens to stalk them, pigeons to make nests in Gwaine's and Leon's hair... honestly, the possibilities were endless... but he had something better in mind, something that wouldn't require any magic whatsoever. And it would bring the whole of Camelot to a standstill.
Now who's useless, Arthur, he grinned to himself, and sloped off toward the kitchens, aka servant central.
The next Morning, Arthur woke to a rough hand on his shoulders.
"Leon? What the hell are you..."
"You're not going to believe this..." the knight said, his face half angry, half amused.
Twenty minutes later, Arthur was staring down at the courtyard, more specifically the steps, where- what appeared to be- every servant in the castle was sat, laughing, chatting and nibbling on bread. And at the front, laughing with Gwen, was a gangly, raven-haired, idiot.
A few moments later, said gangly, raven-haired idiot caught sight of him and waved, cheerfully.
Arthur found his voice again.
"Merlin...? What the hell are you..."
"Oh, my apologies Sire. You see, withholding information seems to be a specialty of yours, so I thought I'd think like you for once. So... Servant picnic... Gwen liked the idea Sire..."
"Of course she did..." Arthur grumbled under his breath, sighing at the grin on his wife's face.
"But how the hell did you... Everyone?"
"Apparently, Some people seem to respect me and what I do for you, Sire. I have to admit, giving orders and having them obeyed was a novel experience."
"Wait... They listened to you...? Why?"
Merlin sighed, then gestured to a young man, about the same age as him.
The young man jumped to his feet, snapping into a salute.
"Yes Sir, Merlin Sir." He turned to the King, who was now completely bewildered.
"Our apologies, Sire. But no matter how much Merlin refuses to use his position, we long ago acknowledged him as the head of the servant body... Metaphorically of course. We follow his orders. He ordered a strike. Hence, the strike." He turned back to Merlin. "How was that?"
"Spot on. Thank-you Edwin." He grinned at Arthur. "Feels nice to have a right hand man." Speaking of a right hand man I found one of yours in the fountain this morning... if you can find him I'll call off the strike. Until then, we are going to enjoy food at your expense sire."
"What? So now Gwaine is following your orders too?"
"Great." Arthur turned to Leon, and they both head back through the castle.
"If I ever start to do something that may piss him off again? Stop me."
"Of course Sire... Unless he orders otherwise..." Leon smirked at Arthur and strolled off. He got halfway down the corridor before turning.
"Shall I arrange a search for Gwaine sire"
Arthur shook his head. This meant war.
"No need Merlin will give up in an hour or so..."
Leon grinned. This was going to be fun...
One hour, three minutes later. Arthur was starting to wonder if Merlin will really hold out much longer, as he was getting a little hungry and he debated going to the kitchens and trying to cook himself something, then again, he might burn Camelot down... wouldn't that be ironic.
One hour four minutes later, Arthur was seriously starting to consider cooking. Whether he burned Camelot down or not…
One hour five minutes later, Arthur decided to maybe call for Percival… Surely he could cook?
One hour six minutes later, Arthur got up and head of to find the huge knight. That is, if he wasn't in on Merlin's strike…
A further half an hour later, Arthur located Percival, who was being used as a climbing frame for a group of kids. Punishment, it seemed, for trying to talk Merlin out of the city wide holiday.
Leon, trying to figure out how to use the water pump on the other side of the courtyard, seemed rather glad to see the king, and abandoned his futile hopes of being able to get a drink (though it burned a little to see a little kid, who couldn't be older than five, pouring out a cup of water two minutes later) in the hope that Arthur had finally come to his senses.
Sighing at Arthur's stubbornness, he disentangled Percival and followed Arthur towards the kitchens.
They got about ten feet away from the door when a huge explosion sounded and smoke spilled from the door. Along with two very dishevelled looking knights.
Bedivere and Tristan coughed and sputtered as they tried to wipe the black soot from their faces and smooth down their hair, which was stood on end.
"You attempting to cook Sire?" Bedivere asked, and Arthur nodded.
"Don't. Merlin rigged the ovens…. And the fires… and the pots seem to be… enchanted."
"Enchanted? What do you mean en-"
Arthur was cut off as several pots flew out of the kitchen and started to whack Bedivere across the head. Percival, after blinking a few times, swiftly hit them out of the way and they all made a hasty retreat.
"Yes Sire, Enchanted. They seem to be attacking any knight who enters the kitchens…"
Leon spoke up,
"Sire…? If I may? We could just go find Gwaine. I mean, surely it can't be that hard to find-"
"Of course not…" Tristan sighed, "We've been combing the castle for the last hour. No sign of him. All we found were some snarky comments and a clue pinned to his usual haunts and some brooms that didn't seem to like us. At all."
"Here…" He pulled out a scrap of parchment and handed it to Arthur, who read it aloud.
"Dearest Prat, Remember the Afanc? Of you go."
Arthur gnashed his teeth as Bedivere launched into the third repetition of his irritating song.
"To the bowels of the castle we go
to the bowels of the castle we go,
Hi, ho, diddley oh,
To the bowels of the castle we- woah!"
He was unceremoniously cut off as Percival clapped a hand over his mouth, hoisting him into the air.
"Mmm... hmmff... mmm hmm mfff... Gods, fine. I'll shut up..." he said, as Percival took his hand away and put him back on the floor.
They made their way down to the reservoir, Erec whistling the tune of Bedivere's song under his breath, and cursing his fellow knight.
It was several more tuneful minutes later when they arrived at the reservoir. Arthur walked to the edge of the water and leant over, noticing a small crystal set in stone. A small piece of parchment stated 'PRESS HERE' with a huge arrow pointing to the stone.
Arthur took a look behind at the others, all of whom took a small step back, and scowled, turning back. Then the scowl turned to a gulp. He tentatively reached out and pressed the crystal down.
"Hello Pratdragon, and, I assume, your loyal entourage... seeing as you can do nothing by yourself." Merlin's voice echoed around the room and his face appeared in the water, grinning that infuriating grin of his. "Oh, and on the off chance that Arthur is about to start shouting at the image in the water, this is a pre-recorded message and will not answer any questions. Now, second clue. Arthur, you actually believed you killed a dragon with a stick. A pointy stick, but a stick none the less. Why don't you trot off to the place that happened? Off you go..."
Merlin's voice faded out along with the picture, and Arthur scowled.
"So he wants to play that game does he? We'll see who plays games..."
Unbeknownst to them, Merlin and Gwen were leaning over the well where Merlin had just dropped the spell.
"Idiots..." He said, grinning, and ran from the courtyard, heading for the forest. Gwen grinned. They were gonna get smacked down so hard...
Arthur skidded to a halt as he took in the huge dragon that was waiting in the clearing. Merlin, grinning away, was lounging on his back. He nodded to the men as they pulled to a halt behind the blonde.
"Hey Guys, how's life treating ya?"
Bedivere blinked, then grinned, holding up a hand and waving manically.
"Good, his royal highness doesn't realise that some of us were under orders to make this trip as insufferable as possible. Which is why it took nearly an hour to get out here. Oh, nice touch with the falling branches and landslides by the way. Anyways, I'm out of the relay.."
"Cheers Bed, you did well. Loved the song..."
"Thanks. Gwaine gave me lessons on irritating-ness."
Arthur was glaring between the knight and the Warlock, and scowling suspiciously at everyone else.
Under orders to make his life insufferable? Who? Surely not Percival? But then he was quite capable of- and Erec! Surely he was in on it. Leon wasn't... was he? Though he said himself he was...
NO! He would not let Merlin get to him. He would not... But Sir Daniel was very...
Merlin grinned at the look on the kings face, and hopped down from Kilgarrah, patting him on the leg.
"Thanks old friend. Now if you can just give them the clue and I'll be on my way. We've found Arthur's prized wines! Gwaine's very happy about it..."
Before Arthur could do more than splutter, Merlin had ran over to Bedivere, grabbed his arm and blinked. The two vanished leaving Arthur with an angry rant on his tongue. Which turned to a sigh as he realised he would have to talk to the huge dragon.
"Arthur Pendragon. It is a pleasure to meet you. Of course, these circumstances are preferable to those of our last encounter. I look forward to having a proper conversation with you, but I believe it is important for you to find the young knight, before he convinces Merlin to consume any alcohol. A drunken warlock is the last thing Camelot needs."
Kilgarrah chuckled at the horrified look on Arthurs face as he took in the latest news and shook his head.
"But, unfortunately, all I can tell you is that a certain dog statue in Camelot has been missing for a few years, having vanished under strange circumstances. Go to the empty pedestal and you will find out why."
With that, Kilgarrah took off, leaving Arthur with a cryptic clue and suspicions about all of the knights around him.
Half an hour later and they were staring at an empty pedestal in the citadel.
A young servant was gesturing to it.
"My apologies, Sire. Hemlock slipped his leash. He should be back in the next half an hour or so though... Depends on how quickly he finds someone to chase."
"Hemlock? Why would anyone name a dog Hemlock?"
"Gaius was a bit stuck for a name, when Merlin ditched him in his rooms, and he was reading a book on poisons. Hence Hemlock."
Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose.
He was distracted by the sound of clucking and turned to see a flock of chickens being chased by a dog, racing through the courtyard. At the sight of the men, the dog stumbled to a halt and plodded over to Erec, who crouched down.
"Who's a good boy... Who's a good boy for slipping his lead..."
Arthur face palmed himself.
"And how exactly did he slip his leash Erec...?"
"I... Err... Merlin informed me that it should not be particularly tight."
"Of course he did."
Arthur crouched down and pulled a roll of parchment from beneath the dogs collar, and received a drool covered face and arm for his trouble. But he got the clue.
He unfurled it, sighing as Erec vanished with the dog, and read it through.
"Hey, your Royal Pratness, What a busy day you're having. Now, Remember the ridiculously evil and powerful guy that got back to life? Sigan? Why don't you go find his little trove of stuff... Vaults of Camelot are so dusty this time of year... May have to dust a little to find your clue... Bye bye..."
Arthur crumpled it up and stalked off, plotting all kinds of insane revenge. Merlin hated the feathery hat. Merlin would wear the feathery hat. Merlin would wear the feathery hat in the stocks.
The bells were just ringing for the third hour past noon when Arthur stepped into the vaults, ignoring the small sniggers from the guards.
Then he stopped, stock still. There was a huge glowing arrow in the air, along with a handful of dusters floating around. Arthur got the idea. Grab the dusters and get to work...
Merlin was so going to pay for this...
Twenty minutes later, and they had managed to wipe away most of the stubborn dirt, Elyan having spent the entire time coming up with new verses to the tune of Bedivere's song. It was currently,
"Wiping the dust away,
Wiping the dust away,
Hi Ho diddley ay,
We're wiping the dust away..."
Arthur finally threw the duster down and wiped his forehead, as he found the edge to a the huge box. His suspicions about that dust not being... average dust, were swiped out as he realised that the lid was far too heavy for him to lift.
"Perce? Give me a hand..."
Percival nodded and, as per Arthurs instructions, placed one hand under the rim of the lid. With hardly any visible effort, and still whistling along to Elyan's song, he pulled it up.
"Hoisting the lid up high,
hoisting the lid up high,
Hi ho diddley eiy,
Hoisting the lid up... Sorry Sire."
Arthur shook his head and pulled the parchment out, reading through it.
"Hey, nice job. So you know, I had a spell put on the roof, so all of your efforts are on display to everyone in Camelot. They are very impressed with your work... For an arrogant Prat anyway."
Arthur blinked, then turned.
"How could he possibly know to write this?"
He looked back down to the paper to see the previous words had vanished, to be replaced with two.
"Merlin, can you hear what I am saying?"
More words appeared on the parchment.
"You do realise that you are talking to a piece of paper? In front of the whole of Camelot? And you call me an idiot?"
"Fine... Your next clue... Is with Tristan. Currently in his left hand in fact."
"And how could you possible know that?"
Tristan spoke up. "Because he just gave it to me, Sire..."
"But how could you know what he was writing on the parchment?"
"Because I have a copy. I had to time it perfectly you see. Merlin's orders, Sire."
Arthur blinked, utterly confused, then blinked again at the last words.
"Merlin's orders? MERLINS ORDERS? You are my knight, goddamn it..."
Daniel and Kay chose this moment to walk in.
"Oooh," Daniel said, in a singsong voice, "Princess is getting angry... Sorry Sire, that was a message from Gwaine. But from the, currently throbbing vein in your temple, I would say that you are, indeed, getting angry."
Tristan spoke up again.
"Sire? Did you want the clue? Or would you like to call a surrender to Merlin's Plot...?"
"Never!" Arthur said, and felt the parchment warm in his hand. Looking down, he read one word.
"Excellent..." and he could just picture Merlin's evilly grinning face as he read it.
"Just give me the damn clue Tristan."
"Yes Sire," he handed him the scrap of parchment, then head out calling back over his shoulder, "Now I will see you all later. There is a party I am thirty seconds behind schedule for."
Arthur scowled as he read the note, finding it written, not in Merlin's neat script, but Gwaine's scruffy scrawl.
"Hey Princess, your tower awaits you... You know, highest room in the tallest tower and all that. Cheers for the wine by the way. It's an excellent vintage."
Arthur was still scowling as he stood at the foot of the tower, and raised his eyes skyward to see the top.
How did the idiot manage to get all of this done in one night?
Oh, right. Magic.
He sighed as Elyan and Kay head up in front of him, leaving him, Leon Daniel and Percival to follow.
Elyan and Kay's roles soon became apparent as it took them twenty minutes to climb the first two flights of stairs. The two knights in front were going at an incredibly slow pace, and had blocked Arthur's way. As they reached the third floor, Arthur snapped.
"Can you two go any faster?"
"Afraid not Sire."
"Well why not?" Arthur groaned, and the two looked at each other, sharing a look before turning back and saying, in unison,
By the time they reached the fourth floor, Arthur's nerves were in tatters, having spent the last ten minutes listening to
"Up the tower we climb,
Up the tower we climb
Step by step, Hi ho and hi hep,
Up the tower we climb.."
Eventually, as they reached the fourth floor Arthur groaned. Still three floors to go.
As they climbed the next one, Kay started another verse.
"I'm getting sick of stairs,
I'm getting sick of stairs,
And I'm sure I'm not alone
In being sick of stairs."
"Well, in that case, get out of the way!"
Elyan and Kay shared looks, then shrugged.
"Of course Sire, you only had to ask."
With that, they started backing down, causing Arthur and the others to have to reverse aswell to let them down to the floor below.
Losing all the valuable steps they had gained.
It took them another ten minutes to climb the other three staircases, where they found another note, fluttering in midair.
Arthur snatched it and read it out.
"My apologies Sire, but your belt told me you needed a work out.
Anyway, Im sure you are rather hot and bothered by now. I'm sure Gaius has a nice, soothing drink and a calming potion... And perhaps something for the headache I'm sure you have?"
"You're a constant bloody headache Merlin..." Arthur grumbled, then saw the p.s. on the note.
"By the way, If you just said anything about me being a headache, news flash. You are getting far too predictable."
Arthur stormed into Gaius's workroom, to be greeted by a chorus of birds, all whistling the tune behind the verses Arthur had been hearing all day. With Gaius muttering along.
"Headache potions here,
Calming potions there,
stirring, mixing, dabbling, fixing,
He turned to see Arthur and smiled.
"Why, good afternoon Sire! You look rather tired. Have you been keeping too hectic a schedule?"
"Thanks to your ward Gaius. Where the hell is the idiot?"
"I have no idea Sire. I only have a random verse Merlin made."
"Then let's hear it."
"Washing over here,
Washing over there,
Scrubbing, spilling, washing, swilling,
the washer-womans lair..."
Arthur gulped. That could only mean one thing... They had to go to Rosa'S domain. They had to go to... The laundry room!
Arthur sighed, not turning as he spoke.
"Men? I need volunteers."
Daniel surreptisciously stood back, leaving Percival and Leon, unknowingly, in front.
Arthur span and nodded to the two men.
"Leon, Percival. Thank you for volunteering."
They both glared at Daniel as Arthur left the room, and their eyes tracked their fellow knight as they followed suit.
Daniel gave them a small thumbs up, and the two turned their expressions to grins.
After they had left, Daniel turned to Gaius.
"Gaius? Why don't we head down to the party?"
The two burst out laughing as they head down through the castle.
Arthur, Percival and Leon stood, gaping, at the huge mound of clothes piled in the laundry room. Obviously kept from the last patrol to return. And the training shirts. And god knows what else. And there, on top, was a bright red neckerchief.
And Arthur had an idea. Not that he was going to let the other two know...
There was a piece of parchment pinned to the door and Arthur tore it off, revealing Merlin's neat writing.
"Okay, here is how it's going to go. Somewhere in the pile of clothes is a tube. In the tube is the clue. You are going to dive into the pile and find it. Oh, and hurry... Rosa should be back about ten minutes after you read this."
They all looked at each other, and, as one, leapt into the pile.
Eight minutes later, and Leon jumped up, with a victorious cry.
They all crowded around as he tried to prize it open. Percival, a pair of leggings wrapped around his neck, took a few seconds longer as he tried to disentangle himself from the clothes that he was stuck in. It took over a minute for Arthur to help him.
That minute was precious time and they all knew it. So whilst Arthur wrested with the tunics and socks, Leon endeavoured to tear open the tube.
He had just given a relieved sigh as it popped open, the other two having just joined him, when a huge shadow fell over them.
They all looked up to see an old woman glaring at them, a huge basket in her hands.
"What. Are. You. Doing. In. My. Laundry. ROOM!"
"Err... that is... well, I... Umm..." Arthur stuttered, and slowly backed away, Percival copying his actions. That's when Arthur realised that Leon was trapped. The knight seemed to realise this too, and caught Arthur's eye.
"Arthur! Catch!" He threw the tube and Arthur caught it, glancing back at him.
"Leon! Im not leaving-"
"Go Sire! Save yourself! Gooooo..." His voice trailed away as Arthur nodded and ran from the room, He glanced back long enough to see Leon being dragged away by the ear by Rosa, and he scrunched the tube in his fist.
"Leon, your sacrifice will not be in vain. Merlin will wear the hat in the stocks. I give you my word..."
With that, he turned and ran, having no choice but to leave Leon to deal with Rosa's wrath, but he fingered the scruffy red neckerchief in his pocket with an evil smile. He had a better idea...
He caught up to Percival and pulled out the note, reading it through.
"S1, BC13, S4, R12. Then, B 23, P14, L27."
He looked up at the huge knight.
"What the hell?"
Percival read it through, then raised an eyebrow.
"Well, It's obvious Sire. Shelf 1, Bookcase 13. Section 4, Row 12. It's a location in the library."
"So we have to go to the library?"
"Oh... No. You see, we have all we need right here. It is elementary my dear Arthur. Book 23, that would be the poems of Atticus to his lady Helena. Page 14, that would be the promise of a life of splendour. Then Line 27, And I quote, 'On nothing but a throne of gold shall one sit, when amongst comrades...'"
Arthur stared at him. And stared some more. And Percival shrugged.
"I'm a big softie at heart..."
"If you say so Perce. So, what. What does it mean?"
Percival stared at him with a look that Arthur had seen on no-one but Merlin before. It was the 'oh dear god are you really that thick' look. And Arthur did not appreciate it. Nor the condescending tone Percival used as he said,
"We need to go to the Throne Room Sire."
"Of course. Percival, what the hell was that? You like poetry?"
"Gods no, Sire. Merlin made me memorise that one line. Apparently something to do with more brain, less brawn... or rather, more brain to go with the existent brawn which is in no way going to be disappearing any time soon."
"Thank you Sire. But I was just quoting Merlin."
"So... Throne room?"
The bell tolled for five hours past noon, signifying evening, and Arthur grinned savagely.
Percival shoved the doors open, and Arthur stalked past him, then froze at the sight in front of him.
First of all, the tables were laden with food. Lots of food. And bottles of liquor... Nope, empty bottles of liquor. Expensive liquor. His private stores of liquor.
By god, somebody was going to pay for this.
Then his gaze travelled to the flags that adorned the walls. Which were now unrecognisable. Between the huge depictions of tankards of ale, and the bright pink butterflies surrounding a unicorn with a flying pig on it's back, that covered the hangings, Arthur had no doubt that an increasingly drunken Gwaine was responsible for the designs.
Then he looked beneath the hangings.
At the throne.
And the drunken lout sprawling on it.
One leg over the arm, with the other dangling and swaying in front, head lounging over the other arm, one hand swirling Excalibur and a bottle of Arthur's prize wine in his other hand, Arthur's crown lopsided on the top of his head, was Gwaine.
Who grinned at the arrival of Arthur.
"Hey Princess! Look! I'm a king... But shhh, the flying pig I married doesn't know yet..."
He gestured wildly at nothing, and fell off of the throne, rolling down the steps.
He hit the bottom, miraculously- and unfortunately in Arthur's opinion- not cutting himself on Excalibur. He skidded to a halt and jumped to his feet, just to fall over again.
He got up a second time, and managed to stay upright with the help of two servants.
"Now now, King Gwaine, Need we remind you what Lord Merlin said? It does not do you good to be standing. You should be sitting and making as much trouble for Princess Arthuria as you possibly can."
Arthur stalked over to Gwaine and jabbed a finger to his chest.
"I will deal with you later. Where is Merlin?"
"Merlin...? Merlin... Oh yes, he said something about divorcing me from the flying pig. I was drunk after all..."
"Fine, fine. He's right behind you..."
Arthur span around to see Merlin, a huge grin on his face, and surrounded by the other knights. He clapped his hands, and spoke up.
"Okay, fun's over. Everyone get back to work!"
Within seconds, the hall had cleared leaving Merlin, Arthur, the knights and Gwaine. Who was still trying to figure out how to climb the steps. Hard to do when you are crawling backwards on your hands... With one hand twirling a crown.
Arthur blinked, then scowled.
"Me, Sire?" Merlin asked, after looking over his shoulder and seeing that the others had mysteriously vanished.
"Yes you. I'm hardly going to be talking to Gwaine, Am I? He still thinks he's married to a flying pig."
"Oh, right. Oi! Gwaine! I got that divorce finalised!"
"Really?" The knight slumped down on the steps, sighing. "Thank god. Her father hated me... Apparently there was something about me eating his brother with a hunk of bread..."
Arthur was still scowling, and Merlin grinned at him.
"You... You... You insufferable clot-polish moronic dollop-headed idiot Merlin! I swear, I am going to kill you! And so will Leon. Even if he was in on your games..."
Merlin cocked an eyebrow.
"No! I am not finished. How on earth did you get my knights to obey your orders!"
"You know, you could just have ordered them not to obey my orders... or to tell you where Gwaine was... Or to just, ya know, stop. Did that even occur to you?"
"... Shut up Merlin. Oh, and you do know you are not getting away with this, right? This is officially war."
"Wouldn't have it any other way Sire. Now, what was that about Leon?"
"Oh, like you don't know. He will not be happy with you. I don't care if Rosa was in on it! He is going to end up with a painful ear after she is done dragging him around the damn place. It's a good thing she was in on this, because-"
"Wait, Leon and Rosa? Arthur... They weren't in on it."
"No. Why? What... Oh no. You didn't..."
"I... Well, I assumed they were both in on it or I never would have..."
"You left him with..."
"Shall I inform his family or do you want to do it?"
"Now hang on, we don't know that-"
"Arthur, you left Leon with Rosa. After breaking into her laundry room."
"... Oh crap."
They both raced from the room, leaving Gwaine to dance around with his invisible fairy dog, and raced down to the laundry.
They gasped as they entered the room, and Arthur blanched. It was worse than he had feared.
Not only was Leon... Scrubbing socks, but Rosa was shouting at the top h=of her voice, into his already bright red ears.
"And another thing! You high and mighty knights think you are so high and mighty. Well, this is my laundry! Ad I will not take the messing about that my sister does with her kitchens! Now you will scrub those socks until they are all completely clean! Then you will- Oh, hello Merlin, how are you today dear?"
"I'm good, thank you Ro. Your sister says hi... Actually, I have a favour to ask...?"
"Could you let Sir Leon off...? Just this once...?"
"I'm not so sure about-"
"Pretty Pleeaase Rosa? " Merlin gave her the hugest puppy eyes Arthur had ever seen, and he watched, awed, as Merlin tamed the head of laundry.
"Well..." she said, "Only for you Merlin." She turned back to Leon and her voice rose again.
"Get your sorry noble ass out of my laundry room!"
"Y-yes sir... I mean... ma'am... right away..."
Then Leon, one of the bravest men in Camelot, legged it.
Leaving Arthur to sneak out before she could catch sight of him, and leaving Merlin with the perfect human shield. Damn the smart assed idiot.
Arthur grinned As Merlin scowled at him, both of them stood in the throne room, the knights and a large amount of servants meandering about.
"I don't know what you've dragged me down here for, Arthur, But-"
"All will be revealed Merlin... You may have won the battle, but you haven't won the war. Percival? Wheel her in!"
Percival grinned, and wheeled in a mini pyre.
Merlin raised an eyebrow, what the...?
His questions were soon answered as Arthur pulled out a very familiar piece of fabric.
Arthur grinned as he held up the neckerchief, and the servants all gave small gasps and slowly backed away from the, now stock still, Merlin, hastening to escape the room.
Merlin found his voice.
"You wouldn't dare...
"Oh, I would. Leon? Light her up."
Leon, his ear still pink even after the couple of days, nodded,
"It would be my pleasure Sire." He ceremoniously lit the miniature fire and Arthur sauntered over, leaving Percival to hoist the, now flailing, Merlin into the air.
"Arthur! I swear, you do this, and it is war! WAR! WAR I TELL YOU!"
He was cut off as a caped figure rushed into the hall, chasing something no-one could see.
"Doris!" Gwaine cried, barrelling past Percival and making him lose his grip on Merlin. "Doris! Come back! I'm sorry I divorced you! You may be a flying pig, but you're my flying pig! And fine, Im sorry I ate your ear, but I was hungry... Ad you looked so fat and... No! I didn't mean it like- No, Doris Come... Hey guys, Am I interrupting?"
"Nope, carry on."
"Okay... Back! Im sorry! No! NO! YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME FOR THAT DAMNED UNICORN! I'LL GROW A HORN! I'LL DO ANYTHING... Ill..."
What he would do, no-one managed to figure out, as his voice drained away as he ran out of another door. Arthur blinked, then shrugged. He'd seen stranger. Anyway, back to business.
With a flick of his wrist, Arthur sent the neckerchief into the fire.
"Nooooooooooooooooo" Arthur looked mildly surprised at the volume of Merlin's voice. "oooooooooooooooooo" The knights exchanged Glances.
"oooooooooooooooooo" The knights looked to Arthur who shrugged, staring at Merlin, who, as well as having a ridiculously huge set of lungs, was doing some ridiculous slow motion leap, using magic, to get to the fire.
Merlin landed next to the fire and looked down at the, now little more than ash and scraps, neckerchief. His favourite neckerchief. And he turned to Arthur.
"This means war Pendragon! You shall rue this day!"
Elyan turned to Bedivere as Merlin went into detail about how much he was going to make them rue their actions, and muttered,
"No form of the word Prat? He's serious. Shit is so going to go down..."
Bedivere nodded, gulping, and looked up as Merlin conjured a flock of bunnies, which all piled onto Arthur knocking him to the floor.
Percival cried out,
"No! The cuteness! I would help, Arthur, really, but the Cuteness! IT'S SO DISTRACTING!"
Merlin bowed his head to the, now ash, neckerchief, and everyone aside from Arthur, who now had his hands full with tickling bunnies, heard his next words.
"You shall not be forgotten Neckie." He pulled another neckerchief, this one blue, from his pocket and tied it around his neck.
"Me and Chiefie shall avenge you!" With that, he turned and marched out of the hall, staring at his neckerchief. "Come Chiefie. We have vengeance to plot."
The knights took one look at the retreating Warlocks back, one look at Arthur and one look at Gwaine, who had returned promising to give up drinking, then rewording the promise, if his invisible flying pig would marry him, and then turned to share looks.
As one, they ran from the hall. Into whatever hiding places they could find at such short notice. Camelot was about to become a war zone.
Please review and let me know what you think of the randomness :D