Title: Secrets in the night
Pairing(s): Arthur/Merlin, if you blink
Word Count: 876
Prompt: My dragon pal and me
Summary: Merlin sneaks out of the castle and comes back in a very good mood. Arthur has to find out why.
Notes: Not beta’d.
This was the third time this week alone that Merlin had snuck back to the castle very late and was in an exceptionally good mood. Arthur didn’t like it at all. He needed to find out what was going on. So he had asked the knights, but they either didn’t know or they just didn’t tell him. He had snuck down to the tavern, but Merlin wasn’t anywhere to be found. He listened in on the gossip of the maids, but none of them told a story about herself and the king’s manservant. Maybe it was someone from the lower town?
“So, Merlin…” He started when Merlin rushed through the door much later than usual to help him get dressed for the night.
“Sire?” Merlin couldn’t keep a goofy grin off his face.
“Who’s the lucky girl?” Arthur tried to be all casual.
“Girl? What girl?” Merlin busied himself with the candles and then went over to the closet to get Arthur’s night shirt.
“The one that makes you smile like this? And that makes you not listen when I ask you something? The one that keeps you away, so you are late and neglect your duties?”
It looked as if Merlin paled a bit. “There is no…girl.”
Oh. OH! Alright. That was…Arthur didn’t know if that was good or even worse. “A man? Merlin?”
Merlin laughed. “No, no man either.”
“Then what is it?” Arthur had been so convinced that Merlin was seeing someone that nothing else could be the reason for his behaviour.
“You wouldn’t believe it anyway.” Merlin held the shirt for him and Arthur slipped in.
“Oh, with you, I believe a lot of things. So, what is it?”
Extinguishing some of the candles and checking the fire in the fireplace, Merlin kept his face away from Arthur. “A dragon.”
“A dragon?” Arthur couldn’t help but laugh. “A dragon! Of course, Merlin, you have a dragon friend. A dragon pal. Yes, right. You must think I’m very dumb.” Arthur crawled into bed. “Get out and try to sell this story to someone else, someone who might believe it.”
A few days later, Arthur snuck out of the castle again. The moon was bright in the sky and nobody else was around. Merlin had tried to be careful, but of course he knew when his servant tried to get away, so he had followed him. He was so sure that he would end up in front of one of the houses in the lower town or on the outskirts, but Merlin had wandered further into the forest.
Standing in the shadows, he watched Merlin in the middle of the clearing. Arthur couldn’t move. There was a white creature with him, not much taller than a dog, but it was clearly not a dog. It was…Arthur couldn’t believe it. It was a dragon! A weird looking one that seemed to not be fully developed, but definitely a dragon.
For a while, Arthur just watched and felt a strange kind of joy seeing Merlin playing with the creature. His first instinct had been to run into the clearing and protect Merlin from the dangerous beast, but the dragon seemed to be happy to be with Merlin and nudged him, only to run away, flapping its deformed wings in an attempt to fly once in a while, checking if Merlin followed it. Merlin did. He ran after the dragon, laughing, and then let the dragon chase him playfully.
After about half an hour, Merlin slumped down in the middle of the clearing, smiling widely. The dragon came closer and sat in front of him. Merlin started to speak to the creature and it seemed as if the dragon understood him, but had difficulties forming the words.
Arthur shook his head. Forming words? Where had that thought come from? Dragons couldn’t speak! And how on earth could Merlin be friends with a dragon? Why did the dragon trust him so much? Dragons were dangerous and nobody had ever befriended one! Stumbling back against the tree, Arthur stepped onto a branch that broke apart rather loudly.
He held his breath when Merlin and the creature raised their heads and looked into his direction. It would have been childish to run away, they had seen him. And a Pendragon never ran away. So he tried to take a deep breath and calm down, looking his most regal way.
“You followed me!” Merlin came closer and instead of looking angry, he looked disappointed.
“I have a reputation to keep. I needed to know what you were doing as everything you are doing reflects back on me. I am the king after all.”
“Did you see what you wanted to see now?” Merlin looked sad.
The little dragon had been hiding behind Merlin but curiously poked its head around his arm to see who Merlin was talking to.
“I am not sure. What did I just witness, Merlin?”
The dragon looked up at Merlin and nudged his arm until the servant put his hand on its head and started to gently stroke the white scales.
“This is going to be a long night.” Merlin looked at the creature, then straightened up and looked him in the eye. “Arthur, meet Aithusa.”