"For starters, I need you to polish my armour until it's shining, fetch some herbs from the forest, tidy my room, wash my clothes and muck out my horse." Through all this, Arthur was sat back in his chair, fiddling absent-mindedly with the tip of a dagger. "Oh, and you'll need to sharpen this." The blade dug a gouge in the table before him as he stabbed it into the wood. Arthur raised his eyebrows at Merlin in expectation, who was stood with the most incredulous look on his face. Those chores... those chores would take all day and all night!
"B-But sire," Merlin began, arms already loaded with clothes to get clean, "Gaius has plenty of herbs, I'm sure he –"
"Gaius does not have the herb I need." Arthur explained, rolling his eyes at Merlin's weak excuse. At this, Merlin only stuttered further.
"A-And there are s-stable hands to muck out your horse –"
"Really Merlin, you are the worst servant I've ever had..." As the prince rose from his chair, he leant forward on the table, catching Merlin's gaze menacingly. "Let me put it this way; if you don't do these chores, I'll have you spend the night in the dungeon with no supper. Sound fair to you?" Holding back a cry of 'not at all, you selfish prat!' wasn't easy for Merlin. But, he held his tongue, managing only to blink stupidly at the blonde prince in response. With a satisfied nod, Arthur yanked the dagger from the table and, upon passing Merlin, tossed it on top of the clothes already piled in his arms before he left his room.
"One day... one day..." The servant boy murmured to himself, eyes searching the ceiling as he shook his head.
It was one thing to expect Merlin to be able to do all these chores in one day, but it was another entirely for Arthur to continue to pile yet more jobs on top of those.
"If you're done mucking around, Merlin, you can scrub the floor in my room."
"Merlin, once you've finished that – which really shouldn't have taken this long – I expect you to make a start on changing my bed sheets."
"Hurry up Merlin! How long does it take to sew a design into a piece of leather!?"
It was only with his last taunt did Merlin snap. He had been hand-squashing grapes for Arthur to drink when said prince had burst into the room in an irritated tizzy.
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, Merlin! I asked you to do that an hour ago! What on Earth have you been doing all this time!?"
"Folgie min bebeod..." A yellow glow flashed in Merlin's eyes as he turned them on Arthur, words of magic breezing past his lips and hitting Arthur. The prince, startled, staggered back a step or two. To Merlin's surprise, Arthur said nothing. He just straightened up and stared at Merlin.
"A-Arthur? A-Are you okay?" Merlin knew he shouldn't have let his temper get the better of him. So as he edged closer to Arthur worriedly, he wondered what his magic had done to the prince. Said prince, however, did nothing for a moment longer before gagging like he was about to be sick. Merlin dashed to his side and supported him.
"Arthur? Are you okay?" Was all that spewed from Arthur's lips. Didn't Merlin just say that a moment ago? Frowning, Merlin steadied the prince carefully.
"Maybe we should sit you down..."
"Maybe we should sit you down." The mimicked words halted Merlin in his tracks. Oh no... He'd enchanted the prince, hadn't he? Not only that... but he'd enchanted the prince to copy his every word. Had he?
"A-Alright." It took but a moment for Merlin to drag Arthur over to his chair and slump him down in it, in which time Arthur's head rolled forward as he mimicked Merlin. "Alright. What to do, what to do, what to do..."
"Alright. What to do, what to do, what to do." His tone was flat, emotionless. Unlike Merlin's, which was verging on a squeak. What if the king spoke to Arthur? Did he copy every word he heard, or was it just Merlin's words that he stole? Then, pausing in pacing up and down the room, Merlin twisted to face Arthur.
"I am a silly prat."
"I am a silly prat."
"And I don't give Merlin the respect he deserves."
"And I don't give Merlin the respect he deserves." At this, Merlin grinned impishly. This was certainly a better way to spend the day, rather than doing chores. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a voice told him to just have fun, just for one day. And have fun he did.
Striding through the corridor with Arthur at his side, Merlin couldn't hide the simple smirk he had upon his face. Every time someone were to pass by, all he had to do was whisper a few words in Arthur's ear and the prince would instantly speak them aloud.
"You there. Lose some weight." This particular sentence had been relayed to a poor knight on his way to practise. After the knight had scurried away with a wince, Merlin had dissolved into a pool of laughter, grasping his aching sides. It was then that Guinevere slipped past them with a longing glance in Arthur's direction. Merlin decided to give the romance a shove in the right direction.
"You look beautiful today Guinevere." He whispered, watching as Arthur repeated the words blankly. What ran through her mind as she paused and looked back at him, Merlin would never know. Though, with a shy little smile, she carried on her way, surely blushing deeply at the compliment. Merlin slapped Arthur's shoulder and nodded.
"Sire, that was very gracious of you to say."
"Sire, that was very gracious of you to say–"
"Alright, alright, that's enough, come on." Merlin cut him off, only succeeding in making him erupt into the same words he just murmured. He sighed and shook his head, leading Arthur down the corridor towards Gaius' chambers. Time to end the fun and get Arthur back to his usual royal pratty self. How joyous.
Entering Gaius' room without a knock, Merlin ushered Arthur inside, checking the corridor behind to make sure no one had seen. Then he closed the door quietly and turned back to face the room.
"Hello Gaius." The old physician, having only recognised their presence upon hearing Merlin's, and Arthur's, greeting, looked up from what must've been a fascinating read.
"Oh. Hello Your Highness, hello Merlin. What brings you here sire?" The fact that Arthur remained quiet after Gaius had spoken confirmed Merlin's, for some reason, ecstatic belief that the prince only mimicked his words. Oh, how he would miss this.
Arthur said nothing. So, with a guilty smile, Merlin took it upon himself to explain, though Gaius would surely pick up on it as soon as Arthur began to copy Merlin. Which he did.
"I think I accidentally enchanted Arthur."
"I think I accidentally enchanted Arthur." Startled at Arthur's sudden talkativeness, Gaius glanced back at him.
"And how, exactly, did this come about?" The accusing tone was rendered futile as Merlin spoke.
"Arthur was giving me so many chores! I didn't mean to put a spell on him, honestly, I didn't!" From behind them, Arthur copied Merlin's exact words, "It just... slipped out." He gave Gaius an apologetic look. "It's actually getting a little annoying now."
"It's actually getting a little annoying now –"
"I'm sure it is." With a sceptical eyebrow raised, Gaius shrugged. "But there's nothing I can do." Now he seemed to see the funny side to Merlin's situation. Whereas Merlin was suddenly worried.
"W-What do you mean you can't do anything?" His voice faltered slightly, squeaking where Arthur's remained strong and calm. "Y-You have to help me!"
"You brought this upon yourself, young warlock." With this, Gaius shuffled back over to his seat and took the chair in front of his book, watching Merlin's reaction with a certain interest. The boy gaped at his guardian in disbelief. Turning back to face Arthur, Merlin gulped deeply. Okay. He had to at least try to lift the spell, right? Once Gaius saw how utterly at a loss he was, he'd be sure to help.
So, clearing his throat, Merlin held his hand up until it hovered just in front of Arthur's chest.
"Ic the withdraf." Nothing. Arthur just repeated the words. Slightly unnerved, Merlin rolled his shoulders and tried something different. "Gestathole. Thurhhaele." Still, nothing happened. The prince's voice rang out loudly, his eyes focused on a spot just over Merlin's head. "Abuge aglaecraeft. Abuge aglaecraeft. Abuge aglaecraeft!" This too did not work. Arthur breezed over the words like they were nothing to him. Merlin glanced back at Gaius and shook his head; nothing would work.
"Can you remember what your exact words were when you enchanted him?" Gaius inquired, pulling his glasses from the bridge of his nose.
Merlin shook his head. "Would they of helped?"
"Arghh... Sfeffin!" He commanded, eyes flashing a bright yellow as he cried out in frustration. It was with this spell that Arthur's legs gave way beneath him and he tumbled to the floor. Sleeping. Like a baby. Merlin, blinking dumbly, stared down at the prince.
"A...Arthur?" Thankfully, his words weren't repeated. Arthur was in too deep a sleep for that. After giving Gaius a helpless, pleading look, Merlin grasped the front of Arthur's shirt and hauled him to his feet. He scurried back to Arthur's room without another word, out of sight of the guards, or anyone else for that matter.
Waiting was a game Merlin was good at. But worrying was something else entirely. The questions whizzed through his mind, flying by so fast that he barely had time to register most of them. A few kept resurfacing; how long will he be out for, when he wakes up will he remember this, what about if he's not cured, what if he is cured and he does remember, what will he do? What will happen to me?
A groan from the bed yanked him from his thoughts, and he stood straight away, hovering over Arthur anxiously. As the blonde's eyes eased open and he squinted at his servant, he said nothing. Neither did Merlin. They stared at each other for the longest time, Merlin not wanting to utter a single word lest Arthur repeat it. He imagined Arthur was waiting for an explanation, but if the spell wasn't broken...
"Merlin, what's going on?" Almost instantly, Merlin collapsed with relief. It had worked! "Get up, you idiot." Arthur grumbled, sitting upright in his bed. "Why aren't you out mucking my horse?"
"Sire, you... uhh. You got sick. And delirious." The darker-haired boy hurried to make up whatever he could from the top of his head. "I brought you back here and tended to you. You're lucky I was around really." He said, in hope that Arthur might actually thank him.
Instead, Arthur whipped back the sheets covering him and slung himself out of bed.
"Just make sure you get all those chores done before nightfall, Merlin." Sighing, Merlin trudged after his prince, following him out into the corridor. Where they spotted Guinevere passing by. Arthur was set on ignoring her, but the blush that coloured her cheeks gave him pause.
"Thank you." She whispered as she brushed by. Arthur quickly frowned at Merlin as if he could explain. In turn, Merlin shrugged, trying desperately to hide his grin.
"Something nice you said when you were delirious, perhaps?"