Title: The Mercers' Fair Rating: G Word count: ~600 Pairings: none Warnings: none Disclaimer: I do not own this version of Merlin, nor am I making any profit from it. Prompt: This was written for Merlinadvent 2009 Day 7, using the prompt: The traditions of Camelot are not exactly the same as the traditions of Ealdor.
I'm doing my best to catch up! Only a little one for Day 7.
The residents of Camelot - castle and town - have been talking about it for weeks. Merlin can't manage the enthusiasm that Gwen and Gaius seem to expect of him, and is rather relieved that Arthur doesn't seem that interested either. The first time he mentions it is on the morning of the fair itself.
"What time are you planning to go to the Mercer's Fair?" Arthur asks as he eats breakfast. "I want you to help me exercise the dogs today - they've spent the week inside and they need a good run. I thought we might take them out to the Five Sisters and back."
"I'm not really interested in the Fair," Merlin replies casually. "Do you want to do it first thing or wait until after lunch?"
Arthur frowns at him. "Is Gaius organising your clothes, then?"
"I don't really need anything."
It's the wrong answer, Merlin learns. Everyone has to have new clothes for the celebrations. Everyone. Only the poorest of the poor won't have something new for the festivities. "Don't you do that in Ealdor?" Arthur asks.
"No," Merlin replies curtly. Perhaps it stings a little to be relegated to 'the poorest of the poor' but in his eyes this custom is wasteful and ridiculous. Looking at the set of Arthur's chin, however, he foresees an argument.
"Thanks for telling me, though," he says.
Arthur looks at him for a long moment, and Merlin wonders if he thinks that he has changed Merlin's mind, but it doesn't seem likely.
It isn't until they are half-way to the Five Sisters, the dogs spread out around them in a loping pack, that the true reason dawns on him - as if the back of his mind has been gnawing on this bone the whole time. He jerks the rein of his mare and glares at Arthur.
"Are you planning on buying clothes for me?" he says belligerently.
"Can't have you going around like a scarecrow!" Arthur retorts with a smug grin.
"My clothes are fine!" Merlin shouts. His voice echoes off the snow-clad pines and the crisp drifts of snow along the edge of the river. No-one has been this way since snow-fall, and the dogs are making a slurry of the beautiful, untouched expanse as they pass.
"Morgana and Gwen have excellent taste," Arthur gloats. "I'm sure you'll be the best-dressed manservant in Camelot."
Merlin has nothing against Gwen and Morgana's taste, but he is not sure that he trusts them to dress him. He might end up with ridiculous braid on his tunics, or extravagantly cut sleeves. They might put him in purple or - please don't let them even think of hats!
He thinks of Uther's manservant, Job, who is always seen in neat suits of velveteen, trimmed with gold braid and buttons. What if they dress Merlin like him?
Or then there is Baron Matthew's manservant, Huw, who dresses in the fashions of fifty years ago. No; they wouldn't. Surely.
"All right! Fine!" he concedes. "I'll go to the Fair when we get back and get myself a new tunic made. Will that do?"
Arthur's responding grin is pure evil. "Of course it will, Merlin! All you have to do is tell Morgana that you don't like the idea of her choosing your clothes. I'm sure you won't have any difficulty in doing that!"
Merlin is doomed.
"I won't wear them," he warns.
"I'm sure she'll understand," Arthur says cheerfully.
_________We'll find out more about this in Day 9's fic__________