Title: Seed of Friendship
Pairing: Merlin & Arthur (friendship)
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Pomona Sprout
Summary: Harry Potter AU: Merlin and Arthur get night detention in the Forbidden Forest with Professor Sprout. It leads to Arthur understanding a bit more about the strange Slytherin he's stuck with.
Prompt: 361, forest
Word Count: 1086 (It got away from me. I'm sorry.)
Author's Note: This could be set after the books, or before. I haven't decided if it's pre or post Harry Potter.
“I don’t understand. I thought the Forbidden Forest, was, well, forbidden.” Arthur’s nose scrunched up as he spoke. “Why is going out there at night our punishment?”
Merlin sighed and shook his head. “Didn’t you read the note? We’re supposed to be picking some rare herbs with Professor Sprout.” He hoisted the lantern in his hand so it lit up a bit more area and caught the tail end of the Gryffindor’s shrug.
“I’m really not interested in plants, Merlin.”
“Well, I looked it up after I read the note.” He ignored Arthur’s muttered ‘nerd’ as he picked his way down the path. “The Toadwart Vine only grows under certain conditions. It only blooms at night and it’s used to treat all sorts of magical maladies.”
“Very good, Mr. Wylt. I would give Slytherin ten points for being prepared, but this is detention, after all.” Professor Sprout moved quietly into the limited field of vision afforded by the lantern. Arthur would forever deny the squeak that left his throat at her surprise appearance. “The two of you are going to help me harvest some of the vine’s leaves.” She handed the boys a small basket each, keeping the third for herself. “We want the older leaves. They’re more potent. However, we won’t be taking them all, just every third leaf. We don’t want to stress the plants too much. You’ll know when it’s had enough of you harvesting when it starts trying to poke you in the eye. Now follow me.”
Professor Sprout took them to an area not too far into the Forest. She pointed out a few other plants along the way, including a truly spectacular Venomous Tentacula. “You won’t have to deal with those until your Third Year. You Second Years have enough with learning how to properly repot mandrakes.” She looked directly at Arthur since it was his prank with the mandrakes that had led to the two boys being given detention.
He gave her a little shrug and an uncomfortable grimace. He had already apologized for disrupting class. Now he just wanted to get this detention over so he could try to get something to eat. His stomach was growling. Not only were they in the Forbidden Forest at night, they were also missing dinner for this. Hopefully Leon and Lancelot would be able to sneak some food out of the dining hall for him as they promised. Percy had mentioned fairy cakes earlier and that was all he wanted.
He looked at Merlin, who was staring at him from the ground next to a vine. “What?”
“Start snipping or we’ll be here all night. I’m hungry, too.”
“Oops.” He knelt down in front of the vine and reached for it, holding it firmly in his gloved hand, the small pruners that they’d found with the gloves in the basket in his other hand. “Leon and Lance said they’d sneak me some food, but Percy was talking about fairy cakes and that’s all I can think of.”
“Oh.” Merlin frowned slightly. “Won’t they get in trouble for bringing food into the rooms?”
Arthur shook his head. “No, they shouldn’t. We have food in the common room all the time. Don’t you?”
Merlin shook his own head in response. “No. Professor Slughorn doesn’t really like it, so we tend not to. Well, most of us don’t.”
“What are you going to eat tonight when we get back, then?”
Merlin smiled. “I’m just going to ask the house elves if I can have a sandwich or something.” He dodged the vine that went for his eyes and let it go, picking up the one in between the two boys. “They usually let me sit at one of the kitchen tables and eat there if I forget to eat.”
Arthur stared at Merlin silently for a few moments until Merlin looked up at him. “What?”
“You’re, there’s something, well, you’re not like any of the other Slytherins I know, not even my sister. Why weren’t you Sorted Ravenclaw? You’re smarter than most of them.”
Merlin grinned. “No, I’m smarter than all of them. And I know it. And I’m going to be one of the most powerful wizards ever, just like my namesake. And when I’ve learned all I can, I’m going to be Headmaster here, so I can teach everyone what I know.”
“Ah. There it is.” Arthur nodded. “Ambition. You study all the time so you can achieve your goal. But you never seem to have fun.”
“And you have too much. I thought you wanted to be Minister of Magic someday, like your father?”
Arthur scrunched his nose. “I’d rather be an Auror.” He let go of the vine he’d been pruning and grabbed the last one in the thicket. Merlin didn’t respond to him, so he finished up quickly.
The trip back to the castle went by much faster than the trip into the Forest. He was as happy to leave it as Merlin, who kept looking backwards. Arthur elbowed him. “Stop it. You’re creeping me out.”
“I swear there was something watching us.”
Professor Sprout walked next to him, carrying the torch while the two boys carried the baskets. “It’s the Forbidden Forest, Mr. Wylt. Of course there was something watching us. It was probably one of the centaurs making sure we left their territory, or maybe one of the thestrals.”
When the small group got back to the greenhouses, Professor Sprout sent them on their way, cautioning them not to dally. The two boys walked into the hallway that held the moveable staircases and stood silently for a moment. Arthur chewed his lip while he thought quickly. “You know, Leon and Lance probably snuck an entire feast worth of food out of the hall. You could share. That way you don’t have to bother the house elves.”
Merlin raised his brows. “You’d let a Slytherin into the Gryffindor common room?”
“Sure. You’re not so bad, even if you are a complete nerd.” Arthur grinned. “Besides, can you imagine the look on Valiant’s face when he sees you in there?”
Merlin grimaced. He’d been on the receiving end of Valiant’s temper before. “And if he decides to kick me out?”
Arthur threw his arm over Merlin’s shoulder and started dragging him toward the staircase leading to his common room. “He may be a Fourth Year, but I have a lot more friends than him, and I’d wager Percy is bigger than him anyway. Let’s have some fun, Merlin.”