Title: It Could Have Been Worse. She Could Have Brought Shake-Weights.
Fandom: Merlin/Strangers In Paradise (Fandom High futurefic)
Pairings (not that they feature much here): Arthur/Merlin, Francine/Katchoo, long-past Francine/Merlin, Casey Bullock/any unattached man with eyes
Word count: 843
Prompt: from rhi_silverflame: Camelot / Francine, Katchoo, Arthur, Merlin...and Casey / a well-meaning but inevitably disastrous aerobics lesson
"Are you positive she's not a troll?" Arthur asked, so very much not for the first time that even Francine would be tempted to hit him (with something relatively soft), if he weren't currently leaning over the battlements to stare down at his knights training in the courtyard below. Merlin could save the day if any of them took a tumble off the parapet, but not without lighting up the big SORCERER, GET YOUR SORCERER RIGHT HERE sign above his head, so the only thing Arthur needed to dodge were the eye-rolls.
Not that he acknowledged them, so Merlin took it upon himself to reply, "She's not a troll, Arthur. Just like she wasn't a troll yesterday, or the day before."
"We don't even have trolls in our time," Francine pointed out. "She's a personal trainer, and she's perfectly sweet. Just a little..."
"Bugfuck," was Katchoo's contribution.
"I was going for over-enthusiastic." And hard to get rid of, which when combined with Francine's inability to say no to axe-murderers let alone bouncy blonde girls, went a long way towards explaining how Casey Bullock had ended up as the backseat driver on their latest road-trip to Fandom Island, and subsequent accidental arrival in Camelot.
"If she's not a troll, she's some sort of sorceress. Do you see what she's forcing my men to do?"
"I believe it's called dancing," Merlin supplied, utterly failing to hide his smirk from anyone.
"It's called aerobics," corrected Francine, sort of. "And it's not actually an evil curse from the eighth pit of Hell; it just feels like it while you're doing them."
"It's called making a complete mockery of the knights of Camelot," Arthur ground out, turning away from the parapet wall and rounding on the three of them. "If my father hadn't ordered me to allow her to work with my men..."
"I think he kind of..." Francine started.
"Wants to jump her?" Katchoo finished.
"Going for 'has a crush' but..." But Casey did have a butt like a teenage boy's and boobs like basketballs. "Yeah."
"Hunh. That actually would be a check in the possible troll column." Merlin peered consideringly over the wall at the knights.
Who were now clanking in formation to the sounds of Casey singing "I'm a Barbie girl in the Barbie world. Life in plastic, it's fantastic!" at the top of her lungs at them.
At least she'd been talked out of hooking up speakers to her iPod, via a quick, quiet tour of the execution block from Francine and Merlin.
Arthur seemed to be having difficulty deciding between covering his ears and pointing hard at the girls. "This is completely your fault. You couldn't just randomly show up by yourselves again, no. You had to drag along an insane, bouncing, caterwauling--"
"Bimbo." Katchoo was helpful like that.
"Thank you. Who not only charmed my father into handing her my knights to train, but has heaved herself into his attention so thoroughly that he actually spoke the word re-marry in my presence last night!"
"Hey, we're not the ones who panicked and told him she was Lady Cassandra of Northumbria," Katchoo said. Between the snickers.
The glare. The glare. "I did not panic; I thought on my feet. It was tell him she's an eccentric visiting noble whose attentions I have absolutely no interest in, thank you, or watch her carted off to the dungeons. He walked into my chambers and found her doing jumping jacks. In the nude, and no, I still don't want to know why or how she even ended up there so stop trying to explain it and just get her out of here!"
"It's not like we didn't try to leave," Francine pointed out in her most calming tone. "The causeway opens up when it wants to, you know that. Besides, your knights really don't seem to mind. I think they're actually kind of having fun!"
Said knights chose to punctuate that statement with a loud metallic crash. All four of the watchers above turned away from each other to stare down at the pile of three knights on the ground. Casey was leaning too, directly over the faces of the fallen men, her tank top not restraining its contents at all well. Or...at all. "You guys have to start looking where you're going - this is like the fourth time that's happened!"
None of the men on the flagstones were looking anywhere but at the contents of Casey's tank-top. Arthur, on the other hand, was looking only at the palm of his own hand now.
"Are you sure she's not a troll?"
"Those can't possibly be born of flesh and blood."
"No, but silicone bags don't make you a troll. You don't even have plastic--" Katchoo stopped, then grinned widely at him. "Heh. What'll you give me if I tell you what to say to make sure she breaks it off with your dad and never comes back?"
And that was how Katina Choovanski became (several years and a new kingship later) the Duchess of Carmarthen.