Genre: Humour, fluff
Summary: "Your father's going to kill me," he said, frowning, because it was true. Frog-Arthur looked wholly unconcerned.
Notes/Warnings: I didn't get to spend as much time on this as I wanted to. For the Fairy-tales challenge at merlin_flashfic. Beta'd by penelopesfriend.
This was not good.
Merlin stared at the frog, crouching on all fours to put it at eye-level, panic building within him like a windstorm.
Frog-Arthur stared back.
He'd told Arthur not to hunt in this part of the forest, rumours of a sorceress who guarded it swirling in the surrounding villages, but Arthur had steadfastly ignored his warnings - right up until said sorceress materialised on the path before them.
There'd been no time to react before she'd blasted Arthur with a spell, Merlin's eyes flashing gold as a tree branch broke loose above her. Merlin had nodded in grim approval at the flattened sorceress, secure in the knowledge that the forest around Camelot had developed quite the reputation for overhead hazards. But when he'd looked back, there'd been no sign of Arthur, unless one counted the large green frog perched on a log where he'd been standing.
This was most certainly not good.
Frog-Arthur had no special markings - all green and spotted and a bit slimy-looking but otherwise unremarkable. For some reason, Merlin had expected Arthur to make as striking a frog as he did a human, but perhaps it was part of the sorceress' punishment to make the Crown Prince as ordinary a frog as possible-- and really, he was getting off-track here, because the point was that Arthur was a frog, and there seemed little chance of that changing anytime soon.
"Your father's going to kill me," he said, frowning, because it was true.
Frog-Arthur looked wholly unconcerned.
Merlin sat back on his heels, thinking. He couldn't go back to the castle with a frog and tell everyone it was the crown prince. Those that didn't think him a nutter would probably think he'd finally grown tired of serving and murdered Arthur while hunting, concocting a ridiculous story to hide his misdeeds from the king. It wouldn't be all that hard to believe. Heck, half of the servants probably wouldn't even blame him.
And who knew what would become of Arthur - he certainly couldn't go back to his duties in this state. He'd be trampled at knight's practice, and his crown was at least four sizes too big for him now. Not to mention Uther's foreseeable displeasure at having a frog as his heir.
Merlin snorted a bit at the thought of Uther scowling resignedly across the high table during supper while Arthur casually flicked flies with his tongue.
As if sensing his thoughts, Frog-Arthur shifted, glaring. Well, Merlin thought it was a glare. It was hard to tell, what with way he hardly ever blinked his disturbingly large yellow eyes. It was unnerving, all the same.
He shook his head, forcing himself to focus.
"I'll fix this," he vowed, trying to sound reassuring. "I mean it, Arthur. I'll change you back."
How he'd go about doing that was another matter. He'd never tried anything so complicated as animal transformation, and his one attempt at transfiguration had resulted in a bizarre, half-formed broom-cauldron that still boiled over at the first sign of dirt. Not to mention the fact that he had no idea how aware of things Arthur was in this state. Any use of his magic in front of the newly-amphibian prince could result in a sudden case of death once Arthur was restored.
Frog-Arthur seemed less than impressed with the amount of time he’d spent debating the issue, shuffling his webbed feet on the log with a renewed glare that seemed to scream, Fix this already!
Merlin sighed, trying to think of a solution that wouldn't result in the loss of his head. He'd grown quite fond of his head, after all, and it seemed a shame to lose it so early in life, even if Gaius swore he rarely used it.
Suddenly, he remembered a story his mother had told him as a child about a prince who'd been turned into a frog by an evil sheep farmer (an evil sorcerer, actually, but his mother had edited the tale to keep from upsetting him. Which may actually explain Merlin’s childhood fear of sheep, but that was probably a matter best left for another time). The only way to break the spell had been for a princess to give the frog a kiss, and they'd both lived happily ever after.
He wondered if it would work in this case. Of course, he was no princess, but maybe it was just the kissing part that mattered? And if all else failed, he could always try and smuggle Arthur into the castle long enough to get Morgana to give him a quick peck, even if it meant Arthur would hate him for letting her save his life (again).
He looked down at Frog-Arthur, who was hardly all that appealing, and sighed. There was really nothing for it. He'd have to kiss him, and hope that his magic would suffice in lieu of royal blood.
"Arthur, I'm really sorry about this, but it's the only way," he said, carefully scooping up his friend to hold him in both hands as he sat back. Frog-Arthur glared back as if to say, Get on with it already, you idiot.
Hesitantly, he brought Arthur closer, his eyes closing in anticipation as their lips touched.
It wasn't so bad, really. Nothing like normal kissing, of course, but there was less slime involved than he would have thought, and even if he'd never dreamed that kissing Arthur would be like this, it was almost easy to forget that his partner was, in fact, a frog.
He froze at the sound of a throat being cleared behind them, lips still firmly locked in a kiss.
"Please, don't let me stop you."
Stunned, Merlin whirled around, gawking at Arthur who was standing with his arms crossed, staring at him as though he'd lost his mind, a bruise marring the right side of his face.
"Arthur!" he cried, eyes wide as his gaze darted back and forth between the frog and the prince. "You're all right! But-- I thought--"
"Shall I leave the two of you alone?" Arthur asked mockingly, gesturing to the Frog-Arthur in his hands who was, apparently, just an ordinary frog. "I know it must be hard finding someone willing to kiss you, but I had no idea things had grown so desperate."
Realizing that he was still holding the imposter frog, Merlin set it down, sparing it a quick glare for deceiving him. The frog gave a hearty ribbit before jumping away, no doubt feeling guilty for its actions.
"Is this some country-bred habit of yours I should be worried about?" Arthur asked, looking as though his birthday had come early this year. "I don't know how they do things in Ealdor, but here, we like to restrict our romantic notions to other humans."
Merlin ignored the insult, too confused by his friend's presence to think of anything else. "How did you--"
"The last thing I remember is being blasted by that sorceress while you dallied about being helpless as usual," the prince said airily, folding his hands behind his back. He paused. "What happened to her, by the way?"
Merlin coughed. "Tree branch fell on her."
"Huh," said Arthur, frowning. "That happens a lot in this forest."
"Yes," Merlin agreed innocently.
Arthur shook his head. "Well, imagine my surprise when I woke to find that instead of checking to see if I'm okay, my manservant is engaging in a secret tryst with the local wildlife."
"That's not-- I wasn't-- I was doing it to help you, you dolt," Merlin frowned, wiping his hands on his pants. "I thought the sorceress had turned you into a frog, and I was trying to break the spell."
Arthur looked unconvinced. "By kissing me?"
Merlin's ears reddened. "I heard about it in a story."
He hastened to explain about the prince and the frog and the spell. Arthur looked skeptical and, well, all right, it did sound sort of ridiculous when he said it out loud, but it had made sense at the time!
Arthur raised an eyebrow. "I know you're a girl, Merlin, but when exactly did you elevate yourself to princess status?"
"I was hoping it wouldn't matter who did the kissing," Merlin defended, crossing his arms. "And I think you're being rather ungrateful, considering I was trying to save you."
"No," Arthur shook his head. "From where I stood, you were busy bestowing your affections on an amphibian instead of tending to your potentially injured prince."
"You aren't, are you?" Merlin asked suddenly, scrambling to his feet, his eyes on the bruise marring Arthur's face. "Injured, I mean."
An unreadable expression flashed across Arthur's face before he rolled his eyes. "No, I'm not. No thanks to you, I might add. Really, what sort of manservant cowers in the bushes courting frogs while his master is busy risking life and limb against a spell-wielding sorceress?"
He sighed. "You're really not going to let that go, are you?"
The prince tilted his head again as if in thought, and then shook it. "No," he smirked, "I imagine it will be the topic of conversation for quite some time."
"I should have just taken the frog back to Camelot – at least he was quiet," Merlin mumbled to himself. Arthur pointedly ignored him.
Predicting he had a very long week ahead of himself, Merlin sighed again. "I guess we should go back."
"Yes," Arthur agreed, turning back down the path. "Unless there are more animals you'd like to molest while we're here?"
"Shut up, sire."
They went, making their way back along the trail side-by-side, shoulders bumping occasionally as they walked. Suddenly, Arthur grabbed his arm, planting a quick peck on his lips that left Merlin rooted to the spot.
He blinked, his face flushed. "What was that for?" he asked quietly, hardly daring to trust his own voice.
Arthur shrugged. "Thought I felt a bit green there for a minute,” he answered carelessly. "Didn't want to take any chances."
Merlin licked his lips, Arthur's eyes tracking the movement. "Well, in that case," he said, bolstering his confidence. "We should probably try it again, just to be safe. It may not work as well with someone who's not a princess."
Arthur nodded solemnly, leaning down again. "That's a fair point."
It was nothing like kissing the frog.