Prince Dollop Head and the Bear-Faced Monster
A Merlin Fan-Fiction by Emachinescat
SUMMARY: Merlin tells a bedtime story to a little princess, and Arthur is not amused. Pure fluff, with tons of bromance and fluffiness!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Merlin. How depressing is that? :(
A/N: I woke up this morning with idea in my head, and I had to write it before I did any updates, because I didn't want it to slip away. This is the first one of its kind that I've written. The setting pretty much assumes that the dumb finale didn't end tragically, and takes place nearly five years later. After Arthur survived the Battle of Camlan, now knowing of Merlin's magic, he legalized magic and made Merlin his Court Sorcerer, although Merlin still insisted on serving him as well. Shortly after season 5, Gwen became pregnant… and nearly 5 years later is when this one takes place. So everyone is still quite young (except Gaius, because he was never young, but he's about to retire around this time, but we won't go into that in the story because it's not about Gaius… anyway…)
I think I'm over-explaining this. LOL. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this bit of fluff… :) My sister, upon reading this, told me that it was so fluffy she felt like she was sinking into the clouds... My job here is done. :D
Prince Dollop Head and the Bear-Faced Monster
Merlin was in his chambers, flipping rather aimlessly through his spell book, when he sensed someone watching him. Looking up, he smiled slightly as he saw the intruder - a tiny girl, four years old, with dark brown hair that fell past her shoulders in shiny ringlets. Her eyes were light blue - just like her father's - and she was watching her father's servant and Court Sorcerer with her blue eyes wide and innocent. A smattering of freckles dotted her snowy complexion.
"Sophie," said Merlin, raising his eyebrows at the interruption. He didn't care that the little princess was visiting him, of course - he adored Sophie, with her father's strong will and wit and her mother's gentleness, and always enjoyed spending time with the little girl - but it was past sundown, and Merlin knew that it was well past time for Sophie to be in bed. "It's late; what are you doing up?"
Sophie's only response was to widen her eyes even more and clasp her little hands behind her back, swaying slightly on the spot, a mischievous look on her rosy face. Her creamy, ruffled night dress hung at her ankles, and it swirled around her bare feet fluidly as she moved.
Merlin tried his best not to grin indulgently at the little girl and failed miserably. "Sophie, shouldn't you be asleep? Gwen's not going to be happy that you're running around the castle alone again"
She spoke then, her voice clear, high, and sweet, her speech quite formed and proper for a child of her age, probably because as a princess and the only spoiled daughter of the king and queen, she had access to the best tutors in the kingdom, and had lessons every day. Arthur had appointed Merlin himself to teach her about magic, because he wanted Camelot, along with everyone in it, right down to those in his household, to learn from Uther's mistakes and understand magic for what it was. Not understanding something could very easily lead to fear, and fear to rash actions, and Arthur was determined that nothing like the Great Purge would ever happen under Pendragon reign again. Of course, his naming Merlin as one of her tutors had been accompanied by much eye-rolling and threatening about all the unpleasant things that would happen to the Court Sorcerer if he did anything to disrupt the princess's learning. "I will not have you turn my daughter into a brainless lump like you," Arthur had said sternly, a gleam in his eyes as he crossed his arms and stared at his closest friend.
"Of course not," Merlin had hastily replied. "That's why I'm teaching her, not you!"
Needless to say, Merlin ended up with extra chores because of his response. Some things never changed. Of course, Arthur was always quick to point out that if Merlin had just accepted the Court Sorcerer position without the stipulation that he could remain Arthur's servant, he wouldn't be stuck doing menial chores, even with the help of magic (although Arthur often had Sir Leon "supervise" his servant to make sure magic was not used - good, manual labor was good for the character, he'd said many times with a prattish grin pasted plainly on his prattish face). Merlin always said, though, that he'd once told Arthur he was happy to be his servant until the day he died, and he had meant it. Still did.
"Mista Merlin," Sophie said, and she pronounced Merlin's name with an inflection that was scarily like Arthur's, "Will you tell me a bedtime story?"
Merlin chuckled. "It's just Merlin," he reminded her, like he did every time he was with the little princess. "You don't have to say it like that."
Sophie's plump lower lip stuck out and she put her hands on her hips. "But that's your name. That's what Father calls you," she said. She glanced around and leaned forward as if about to divulge a juicy secret. In hushed tones, she informed her surrogate uncle, "He also calls you the 'I-word," but Mother won't let me say it."
"Well, idiot isn't very nice," Merlin agreed whole-heartedly. "Especially when you're talking about someone like me."
"Father says it's true, though," Sophie said. "And he's the king, which means he's always right."
Merlin smirked. "You've got a lot to learn about the world, Sophie."
Sophie apparently had grown bored of this line of conversation, and her young, easily-distracted mind reverted back to her original mission. "I want a bedtime story," she repeated. "Will you tell me one, Mista Merlin?"
Merlin gave up getting her to call him just 'Merlin' as a vain effort, and asked, "Didn't Arthur promise to tell you one tonight?"
"He's busy," Sophie said quickly. "Tell me a story."
This wasn't the first time that Merlin had told Sophie a story, and he knew that it wouldn't be the last. Sophie loved Merlin, opting to spend most of her free time in his chambers, looking over his shoulder, even "helping" him with his chores, much to Gwen's amusement at Arthur's chagrin. Merlin loved Sophie as well, and despite his constant ribbing at Arthur for spoiling the little girl, all it took was one pouting lip and two big eyes from the dark-haired child, and Merlin would cave almost instantly.
Smiling, Merlin held out his arms, and she giggled, racing forward and climbing onto his lap with a contented sigh. "What would you like to hear a story about?" he asked, and was not surprised in the slightest at Sophie's answer.
"Prince Dollop Head!"
Merlin fought to keep a straight face as he nodded thoughtfully. The stories of the cowardly Prince Dollop Head and his adventures with his brave, heroic servant, Dragoon, were always a favorite of the princess'. Needless to say, Arthur didn't know about these particular stories, and Sophie never mentioned them to her father because Merlin told her that if she were to tell him about Prince Dollop Head's many misadventures, Arthur would throw Merlin in the stocks, and Sophie would never get to hear another story about the "imaginary" prince again.
Merlin thought, trying to think of a good story to tell. He liked to retell stories from his and Arthur's adventures back before Arthur knew about his magic. So far, he'd told only slightly doctored versions of many of his previous experiences. There was the Labyrinth of Gedref (or "Prince Dollop Head and the Curse of the Pretty Unicorn"), the Rescue of Guinevere and Lancelot ("Prince Dollop Head and the Giant Naked Mole Rats"), Lamia ("Prince Dollop Head and the Pretty Green Monster"), and many, many more.
As if by an act of providence (or determination to tell a good bedtime story), Merlin suddenly remembered one of the more amusing conversations between Arthur and his father, many years ago, when Arthur had gotten it into his thick head that he wanted to be treated like everyone else. He'd dragged Merlin along on some fool venture to prove himself during a tournament, and his excuse for not being in the tournament to his father was that there was a beast running amok in the area. A beast with the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and the face… of a bear.
Merlin had nearly gotten thrown into the stocks for his barely covered up snickers as he served Arthur his wine. The prince had been doing a relatively good job making up this creature to his father until then, but the face of a bear? Merlin had barely been able to control himself at the thought of such an animal, and the amount of idiocy that would have to dwell in the addled brain of the one who had dreamt it up.
"Okay," said Merlin, grinning widely as Sophie wriggled closer to him, eyes wide and bright, "Tonight, I'll tell you about Prince Dollop Head and the Bear-Faced Monster."
"Oooh," she said in awe.
"Once upon a time -"
"No, no, no!" Sophie protested, her little hand reaching up to tug at Merlin's neckerchief in protest. "Use the fireplace! I wanna see!"
Merlin smiled, giving in instantly to her adorable pleas. With a flash of his eyes, he caused the chair they were sitting in to swivel around to face the large fireplace in Merlin's chambers, which were close to Arthur's and right next to Gaius's and were much larger than his old ones. Sophie squealed in delight, her hands meshing into Merlins deep red tunic. She was still giggling softly as Merlin's eyes flashed again, and the fireplace suddenly turned into a fiery story-teller, with everything Merlin said coming to life in intricate, orange, red, yellow, and white details right in front of the delighted child's eyes.
"Once upon a time," he started again, "there was a prince, Prince Dollop Head. He had a big castle, and lots of servants. One of his servants, his most trusted one, was very brave, loyal, and handsome - much more handsome than the prince, mind you, and do you know what the servant's name was?"
"Dragoon!" Sophie answered proudly, giggling. "I like Dragoon. He's my favorite."
"Because he's so handsome?" Merlin asked, poking Sophie gently in the side, and she howled in laughter.
"Mmm-hmm!" Sophie confirmed between peals of laughter.
In the fire, two figures sprouted, one of them clad in chain mail, the other in commoner's clothes. Their hair and eyes danced with the flames they were made out of, and they stood next to each other, the one in chain mail with his arms crossed over his chest and the other's hands were on his hips as his tiny flame-eyes glared at his companion. The whole time Merlin talked, weaving the story for his listener, the figures in the fireplace followed his every word, silently acting out the story, with any backgrounds and other characters magically appearing to go along with the scenes.
"Thought so," Merlin kidded, and he continued his tale. "One day, there was to be a tournament in the kingdom, and as the prince, Prince Dollop Head was supposed to compete. But because Prince Dollop Head was afraid of everything, he didn't want to be in the tournament, even when the king promised that they would fight with carrots instead of swords." A king, a fiery crown on his head, appeared in the fireplace, waving a carrot about in Prince Dollop Head's direction. Sophie laughed. "So the prince confided in his servant, Dragoon, and said, 'Dragoon, I'm terribly frightened of the tournament. I'm afraid of fighting, and afraid of carrots, and especially afraid of fighting with carrots. My father will never forgive me if I don't compete. What should I do?'
"Dragoon, smart and brave as he was, told the prince that he had a plan: If Prince Dollop Head went out of town for a few days, then Dragoon would dress up as the prince and compete in the tournament for him, because Dragoon wasn't afraid of anything and was a wonderful fighter." The servant in the fire was suddenly wearing a helmet and armor, brandishing the carrot in an arena filled with spectators while the prince walked out of the scene. The servant began to fight different opponents, always managing to hit them comically in the head with a carrot and causing them to fall down, weeping. Sophie found this especially funny. "Dragoon won the tournament, and when he went to tell Prince Dollop Head that his father had fallen for it and thought that the prince had actually won the tournament, Prince Dollop Head was nowhere to be found."
"Oh no," breathed Sophie. "Where'd he go?"
"Well," said Merlin, "as it happened, when Prince Dollop Head went out of town, he saw a big butterfly that scared him so badly, he ran into a cave to get away from it."
"Butterflies are pretty," Sophie said, her brow puckered. "They're not scary."
"I know," Merlin agreed. "But remember, the prince was scared of everything, even butterflies." Suddenly, the little fire-butterfly that had chased the prince into the cave fluttered out of the fireplace, burning but not hot, and it danced around Sophie's head, delighting the princess. She smiled widely, eyes filled with such wonder that it touched Merlin's heart. The butterfly landed on her arm, and she petted it with her other hand.
"Wow," she whispered. Merlin grinned as the butterfly took flight once more, this time going out of the window and disappearing into the night. "What happened next?" Sophie wanted to know.
"He was so busy trying to get away from the butterfly that he forgot that he was scared of caves, too. But before he could run out, a creature got him!"
"Was it another butterfly?" Sophie asked.
"Not this time," Merlin answered, shaking his head woefully. "This creature had the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and the face of a bear."
Sophie blinked, then burst out laughing, kicking her little legs slightly in mirth. "That's silly!" she cried. "A bear?" The creature that appeared in the fireplace was quite comical looking, with the noble posture of a lion, the glorious wings of an eagle, and a slightly dopey, fuzzy bear face with its tongue sticking halfway out of its mouth. At the sight of the silly creature, Sophie's laughs turned into shrieks.
When she had calmed down, Merlin continued his tale, knowing it was about time to wrap this up because Arthur and Gwen would be wondering where their little daughter had gotten off to. "But thankfully, Prince Dollop Head's scream upon seeing the bear-faced monster was so loud, that the brave Dragoon could hear it from where he was accepting his prize for winning. So he jumped on his horse and rode off, following Prince Dollop Head's girlish screams until he found the monster standing over Prince Dollop Head, licking him."
Sophie wrinkled her nose. "Ew. Was he gonna eat him?"
Merlin shook his head. "The bear-faced monster was just lonely, and it wanted to be friends, so it was trying to tell the prince that by giving him a great... big... kiss!" Merlin punctuated the last three words with a tickle each, sending Sophie into another fit of giggles.
"The brave servant Dragoon faced the monster, and used his bravery and magic to turn the bear-faced monster into a normal bear so that it could have bear friends. But Prince Dollop Head was also scared of bears, so he screamed and fainted, and the brave, victorious, powerful, and handsome servant, Dragoon, had to carry him all the way back to the castle and put him to bed after a nice, calming cup of tea and a bedtime story. Prince Dollop Head fell asleep and had nightmares about flowers and butterflies all night, but he was okay, because he knew that his brave servant Dragoon would always be there to take care of him. The end."
The final scenes having been displayed in the hearth, the fire gave one last dramatic flare and then returned to normal. Merlin used his magic to swing the chair back around, gently putting the yawning princess on the ground. "All right," he said warmly. "It's time for bed."
"Can I hear..." (yawn), "...one more..." (yawn) "... story?"
"Sorry. I need to take you back to Arthur."
"No need," said a dry, drawling voice from the other side of the door, and Merlin's heart leaped into his throat as the door swung open, revealing a rather put-out looking King Arthur on the other side.
Sophie beamed. "Daddy!" she squealed, rushing at him and attaching herself to his leg. "Tell Mista Merlin to tell me another story."
Arthur glared stonily at Merlin like it was his fault that Sophie liked his stories so much. Kissing his daughter on the top of the head, he shook his head firmly. "No, Sophie. It is time for you to sleep. And you know not to run off like that. I was just about to tell you a bedtime story!" Merlin raised his eyebrows and Arthur fumed at him.
"But Mista Merlin wanted to tell me one, too! Right, Mista Merlin?"
Merlin cleared his throat. "That's not what happened," he began, but Arthur cut him off, addressing Sophie.
"Sophie, Sir Leon is waiting out side to bring you back to your mother, so run along. Tell her I'll be along shortly."
"Okay," Sophie agreed, detaching herself from his leg before turning to leave. Before she left, though, she rushed back to Merlin and threw both of her arms around him. "Thanks for the story," she said softly. "It was great." She turned back to her father. "You better not put my friend in the stocks, Daddy!" she said, her eyes about to well up with tears. Then she hugged her father one more time and ran from the room to find Sir Leon.
Merlin cleared his throat after several moments of awkward silence. "Well," he said. "It's getting late. I-"
"Fine," Merlin said, rolling his eyes. "How much did you hear?"
"Oh, not much," Arthur said, his voice positively oozing sarcasm. "Just something about a Prince Dollop Head being afraid of a butterfly and his brave servant coming to save the day. Care to explain."
"It was nothing," Merlin mumbled. "Just a bedtime story."
"Uh-huh," Arthur said disbelievingly. "Wherever did you come up with the characters' names, Merlin? I could swear I've heard them before."
Merlin feigned innocence, which he knew Arthur would see right through. "I dunno. Maybe you had a dream."
"Yes. About... dollop heads."
"You are an idiot."
"You're not supposed to say the I-word!" Merlin gasped, not able to pass up this perfect opportunity.
Arthur grabbed Merlin's skinny arm and pulled him to his side, wrapping his arm around Merlin's shoulders soundly so he couldn't escape. "Merlin," he said. "You've stolen my daughter from me."
Merlin paled. "I did no such thing. She came to me."
"For a bedtime story."
"When I was about to tell her one?"
Merlin blinked. "Well, she said you were busy!"
"I was just about to put her to bed!" Arthur seemed to deflate, his eyes going wide. "Oh, gods," he said, sounding revolted. "She lied. She sneaked away and lied so that you would tell her a story instead of me. You."
"Um," said Merlin, gently removing Arthur's limp arm from his shoulders and taking a wary step back. "It would seem so."
"She likes you more than me," Arthur moaned. "Oh, gods. It's a nightmare. It's horrific. I... she... Merlin!"
Merlin blanched. "I didn't know about this!" he said. "I'm the victim here!"
Arthur threw his hands up in the air. "No, Merlin. Make no mistake. This is your fault."
Merlin's mouth fell open. "How?"
Arthur shrugged. "I dunno, but it is."
He turned to leave, and Merlin, seeing the slight slump of his shoulders that he could tell wasn't put on, spoke up. "You're wrong, you know. She doesn't love me more than you."
"She spends most of her free time with you, and she likes your stories better."
"Of course she does," Merlin said, like it was the most obvious answer in the world.
"Thanks, Merlin," said Arthur dryly. "That was a great encouragement."
"You didn't let me finish, prat. She likes my stories better, because they're more interesting, and I have magic to make them come alive. How can you possibly compete with that?"
"Merlin, you are really not doing anything to help yourself..."
"She talks about you all the time, Arthur. She thinks you can do no wrong. She hero-worships you, and quite frankly, it's a bit frightening. It's always, 'Father said this and father said that and you're an I-word because Father says so.'"
Arthur's dejected countenance eased considerably. "She said that?"
Merlin grumbled. "She's four. She doesn't know what she's saying."
"On the contrary, Merlin," Arthur said, smiling wolfishly, "she's absolutely right. She is the smartest girl of four I've ever seen, and she has the makings of a great queen already."
"All she did was call me an idiot," Merlin said incredulously.
"That's all the wisdom she really needs," Arthur retorted, slugging Merlin gently in the shoulder.
"Prat," said Merlin.
"Idiot," said Arthur. Then he reached up and self-consciously rubbed the back of his neck. "Merlin... thank you. You've been a great 'uncle' to Sophie, and thank you for what you said."
"It's true," Merlin assured him.
Arthur nodded, pride filling him as he thought about how lucky he was to have such a loyal, wonderful, and understanding friend. He clasped Merlin gently on the shoulder and turned to leave the room. Merlin watched him go, the pride and brotherly affection for Arthur mingling with the hope that he might just get out of this one unpunished.
His hope was for naught, though, because right before Arthur got to the door, he turned around, a glint in his eyes that Merlin knew far too well. "Oh, and for your little bedtime stories, you'll spend the day mucking my stables and the stables of the knights without the help of magic. I'll assign Leon andPercival to keep you company."
Merlin cringed. "Can't you just put me in the stocks?"
"Oh, no, Merlin. Sophie was right. The stocks would be letting you off easy."
Merlin snorted. "I'm pretty sure that's not what she meant."
"I'm her father. I know her better."
Merlin made a face. "Is that all, Sire?" he said sarcastically, secretly pleased that nothing had changed since Arthur had found out about his magic, and also knowing full-well that he could use magic to make his guards fall asleep so that he could use magic, and he knew that Arthur was well-aware of it, too. All of this was really just in the name of friendly bantering and the sake of old times.
Arthur shook his head. "Merlin, since Sophie likes your stories so much, and since you obviously enjoy telling them... I'm going to officially name you the princess's bard."
"You don't need to do that, Arthur-"
"No, Merlin. It makes her happy, and it makes you happy, and so it makes me happy. Just... don't ever let her know the truth about Prince Dollop Head. If you do, I'll have your head."
Merlin chuckled. "Are you actually admitting that you are a dollop head?"
"Heavens, no," Arthur said. "But that used to be your favorite name for me - and quite a pathetic one, mind you - and I know what kind of sick amusement you're getting from spinning these tales. So again, if you tell her about your demented reasoning behind these stories she likes so much, no amount of her pouting or crying or pleading will weasel you out of your punishment. Are. We. Clear."
Merlin just grinned.
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Right, well, I'm going to go tell her goodnight. You... do whatever it is you do when you're not being an idiot... oh, wait... that never happens."
"Oh, very funny, King Dollop Head. Do you need me to help you to your chambers, just in case a butterfly comes along?"
"Merlin?" said Arthur.
"Shut up?" Merlin guessed.
"Right on the first go," Arthur praised. "I'm impressed."
Then, giving Merlin a look that conveyed all of his annoyance, all of his thankfulness, all of his love for his friend, Arthur walked out of Merlin's room, shutting the door quietly behind him.
The princess's new bard, the Court Sorcerer, and the servant to the King of Camelot stood there for a second, a sense of peace nearly overwhelming him. He had thought that Camelot had felt like home before, but after Arthur found out about his magic, and after Sophie's birth and peaceful uniting of Albion, Camelot didn't feel like home anymore.
It was home, and Merlin couldn't think of any place he'd rather be.
A/N: Awww, a fluffy end to a fluffy story! This story is like a sheep! A sheep named Rodger! Wheeeee!
Sorry, I'm super happy to have finished this one-shot, and it was SO fun to write. I adored writing Sophie. And my sister informed me that there is apparently a kid's show about a little princess named Sophie, but I don't care. Princess Sophie sounds cute, and that's what I wanted to name her, and it didn't come (at least not consciously) from a toddler's cartoon. So there. Humph. LOL.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it! Please, please review, as this is the first story of its kind that I've written! I desperately need feedback. What did you guys think of Sophie? :D
Please review! Love you guys!