Merlin wakes up one morning to find himself with a huge beard, greying hair and a sudden urge to wear a pointy hat...
“Oh, you are kidding me.”
Merlin stared at his reflection with nothing short of horror. A huge inky black beard stared back at him. He quickly grabbed a nearby razor and began hacking away at the monstrosity that seemed to have grown on his chin overnight. It came away easily enough but he now had clumps of hair all over his face.
Where had it come from anyway?
He haphazardly scraped away the last few tufts, gathered the hairy heap on the floor and chucked it out the window, only to hear a cry of outrage from below. He shouted an apology and ran out the door, pulling on his coat and tripping over his own feet in a desperate attempt to get to work on time.
He rocketed past Gaius, who had been benignly reading a book, and shot down the hallway, still yanking on a boot and knotting up his scarf.
Arthur was quite used to receiving no knock from his servant and even more accustomed to his never failing lateness, so when Merlin half rolled, half fell into the room, picked himself up and quickly composed himself, Arthur only looked on with mild interest. However, as soon as he caught sight of his servants face his boredom quickly turned to amusement.
“What’s so funny?” Merlin asked innocently as Arthur broke into a wide grin of astronomical dimensions.
“Well…erm…did you like...umm…you know…” The prince mumbled while trying to smother a fit of laughter, “Forget to shave?”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” Merlin said a little too loudly, flicked his gaze all over the room and saw an unpolished boot on the floor, which he processed to grab and set to work on.
“Come on now, Gandalf. You can tell me.” Arthur spluttered, failing to stop himself from laughing.
“Who’s Gandalf?” Merlin looked up incredulously.
“No idea. Just seemed appropriate.” Arthur told him breezily, “Anyway, are you going to explain that facial disfiguration, or what?”
“Are you calling me ugly?” Merlin’s hands flew instinctively to his face and he adopted a look of mortal offence.
“Err…no…but don’t tell me you haven’t noticed this.” Arthur strode over and grabbed the huge beard that had suddenly sprouted forth from Merlin’s chin.
“But…” Merlin blanched at the sight of the beard.
“Look, you didn’t have that yesterday. Have you been drinking hair growth formula or something?” Arthur suggested with a raised eyebrow.
Merlin cast him a wry glare as he scurried over to a mirror to get a better look at the beard. It was as black as the rest of his hair, thick, bushy and threatening to become larger…
“What am I supposed to do?” He exclaimed while poking it feverishly.
“Well…I could always…cut it off…” Arthur offered and drew his sword, hiding an expression of glee.
Merlin looked at the sword with immense apprehension.
“Okay, get it over with.” He groaned and squeezed his eyes tight shut, knowing he would regret this.
“Finished.” Arthur said sometime later and stood back to admire his handy work.
Merlin hesitantly opened an eye and looked at the mirror before him with dread. It looked awful but at least the beard was gone.
“Well, what do you think?” Arthur asked, slinging an arm around Merlin’s shoulders.
“I think…” Merlin mused, “That you shouldn’t consider becoming a barber any time soon.”
“Thanks.” Arthur grinned and went off back to his table where a heap of armour was waiting, “Polish all that will you.” He said while taking a seat.
“Oh, no.” Merlin exclaimed, his voice panicky, “IT’S GROWING BACK!”
“What?” Arthur looked up to see the beard indeed rearing its ugly head and growing back at an incredible speed.
“Help me!” Merlin squeaked.
Arthur didn’t reply but instead stared at the beard that was now by Merlin’s knees. It was white.
“Merlin,” The prince said, “it’s white.”
Merlin stared at the beard in terror.
“I’m too young to be old!” He whined, flapping at the beard as if that would make it go away.
“I think I should go fetch Gaius.” Arthur decided hurriedly and began to make for the door.
“NO, WAIT!” Merlin cried before he realized what he was saying, “I…erm…c-can…I…uhh…”
“What?” Arthur asked, pausing, hand on the door handle.
“I…umm…I want a hat.” Merlin mumbled.
“I need a pointy hat.”
“Okay, you’re defiantly not well. Gaius. Now. C’mon.” The prince grabbed Merlin, who tripped up over the beard that was now brushing the floor, and dragged him out the door.
“Must wear pointy hat. Must wear pointy hat. MUST WEAR POINTY HAT!” Merlin babbled all the way to Gaius’s workshop and Arthur was thoroughly annoyed and concerned for his friend’s sanity by the time they reached the dwelling of the old physician.
“Must wear pointy hat. Must wear pointy hat.” The greying Merlin continued. He turned to Arthur, “Did I mention I need really long robes as well?”
“Shut up, Merlin!” Arthur cried with frustration, trying not to show that this mindless talk was actually scaring him.
“Really long robes with stars on them.” Merlin added.
Arthur stormed into Gaius’s chambers, dragging Merlin with him, only to find that the physician wasn’t in. He flung his arms into the air angrily, letting go of Merlin in the process. Big mistake…
Merlin scuttled over to a corner of the room, holding his beard up so as not to trip up over it, and began rummaging in an old chest full of dusty scrolls.
“Ah ha!” He said triumphantly, standing up.
Arthur cast his gaze over to him, to discover he had found…a squashed pointy hat and robes…
What was Gaius doing with those in his room?
Merlin uncrushed the hat, sending a dusty fog into the room, and promptly shoved it on his head before stepping into the robes. Arthur looked on incredulously as Merlin sprinted into his room and re-emerged a moment later with a staff.
Now complete with beard, robes, hat and staff he stood before Arthur looking quite pleased with himself.
Arthur just shook his head.