The lower lid of Merlin's left eye started to twitch when he turned into their road. The Christmas lights war obviously was full on.
It had started out innocent enough with a few fairy lights around a window and had escalated into ugly air-filled Santas, displays of horrific Santas in sleighs, blinking colourful chains of lights and a downright disco inferno on their direct neighbour's front door, as it did every year. And each year they all seemed to come up with uglier and more aggressive light constellations, Merlin really wondered how they did it.
He tried to ignore the Santa on the other side, that yelled 'Ho Ho Ho' every few seconds and turned from left to right and then back. This all wasn't Christmas decoration. It was optical environment pollution!
Merlin opened the door, happy that he could talk Arthur out of participating in this battle years ago. It would be nice, quiet and dark, they would light a few candles and then curl up on the couch together, reading or listening to some music.
When he stepped in, Arthur came around the corner, a desperate look on his face.
"They did it again! And it's worse than ever!"
Following Arthur into the living room, Merlin immediately noticed what was wrong. Their lights were turned off, but the neighbour's disco inferno obviously wasn't limited to the front of the house, but lit up the back just as horribly.
They wouldn't be able to use their living room for weeks until they finally took the crap down in January.
"Did you try to talk to them?" Merlin sighed. He knew the answer.
"Tried. Just got yelled at and was called a spoilsport. Merlin, we have to leave. Let's go to my father's cabin up north and wait it out."
Their neighbour was just a hard-head who always tried to do only what he wanted without consideration for others. That they wouldn't be able to sleep as their bedroom that faced to the back only had curtains and no roller blinds was something he didn't care about.
"We can't just leave and let him do whatever he wants, Arthur! You're usually not one to give up so easily!" Merlin was really angry.
"I tried everything. Talk to him, bribe him, called the authorities but they said they can't do anything about it...we're on our own."
Arthur looked so miserable that Merlin pulled him into a hug.
They stood in silence for a moment, only lit by the aggressively blinking lights from next door, before Arthur pulled back. "Merlin?"
"I know it's not there for that, but...can't you do something? I mean...with your magic?"
"If I put the entire neighbourhood into darkness, the utility company will fix it in no time, you know that, and it'll be blinking and flashing again tomorrow."
"How about...you find something that makes the lights go out at a certain time? So it at least doesn't blare and flash all night long?"
Merlin made a face. "But then we'd have to deal with this crap each night until a certain time..."
Arthur sighed heavily. "I hate Christmas. And I hate people."
"I'll find something. I'll find a spell that will make them randomly go out and be out for hours. Not all together, that'll be suspicious, but all of them long enough to get some peace and quiet."
"Start with the old geezer next door. Especially the lights towards the back. And make it so he can't switch those on again."
Merlin closed his eyes and when he opened them again, they shone golden. It didn't take him long to switch of the offensive lights and the yelling Santa across the street.
"Ahhh," Arthur slumped onto the couch. "Peace and quiet. Finally!"
Merlin kicked his shoes off, went to light the real candles they had on their coffee table and then sat down to snuggle against Arthur, just as he had intended to all evening long.