Title: Albion Zoo
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin, background Gwen/Lancelot.
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwen, Morgana, knights, Gaius.
Summary: This is Merlin and Arthur's furry love story.
Warnings: Alpha/Omega behaviour. Human-animal hybrids. Fluffy crack.
Word Count: 4775
Prompt: #73 Attraction
Author's Notes: This is not meant to be taken seriously. Not even a little bit. Hopefully part 1 of 2. I do want to get to the actual sex.
I'm sorry for blasting the word-limit to smithereens once again. I really mean it this time. Usually I only pretend to be sorry.
Arthur was moping again. The keeper rattled the trolley in order to pique his interest, but the king merely lifted his head from where he was sprawled on the sunny rocks, before flopping listlessly over on his back, ignoring the promise of food. He had been like this ever since his attempt to woo Guinevere, the park's newest female Cammy, had failed. She had been plenty interested at first, until beta male Lancelot had made a surprising, arduous bid for her attention. After a bit of back and forth, the dark female had chosen Lancelot, shocking the keepers, and also Arthur, who had never been denied anything in his life. When the new couple failed to emerge from their den the next morning, and the cause turned out to be happy exhaustion rather than anything alarming, Arthur had gone to his own den and stayed there, refusing food and drink, and chasing away anyone who dared approach him. When he did finally re-emerge, he reasserted his alpha status over the rest of the males with such aggression that the keepers had to separate him from the pack. So now he was even more alone, and even more miserable. He didn’t even preen for the crowd of visitors anymore.
It was high time Arthur stopped moping, and hopefully, the new arrival would make him do just that. Gaius had advised against introducing the king to a new female, since it would likely only upset him more. Instead, it was a male Cammy that was currently being wheeled out of the back of a van and into the Cammy house.
When they opened the cage, Merlin immediately stuck his head out and looked around. He had silky black hair and a pair of pointy, furry ears that were quite large even for a Cammy. Big blue eyes peered inquisitively around the empty room. He glanced surreptitiously at Gaius and the other keepers, before bounding out of the cage and hiding behind the tree that grew in the middle of the room. At first they could only see his tail swishing back and forth, but then he peeked out at them again. He sniffed the air, wiggled his nose, smiled happily, and leapt up the tree to drape himself lazily over the branches.
“I think he will like it just fine here with us,” Gaius said, nodding decisively.
Merlin was quite the special Cammy, having grown up in a very small zoo with only his mother as a companion of his own species. He was independent, curious, unafraid and playful. Arthur would have his hands full figuring him out, which ought to take his mind off Gwen and Lancelot until he was ready to meet them again.
At least, that was the plan.
The first meeting went … less than well. Oh, Arthur had been plenty distracted, as he could smell Merlin from his own room indoors, but not see him. The king had been restless and frustrated all night, pacing his cage, climbing up and down his own tree, and pawing at the bars as if he could dig a way out to find the source of the smell. A few hours before morning, he had fallen asleep, exhausted. In the morning, he was let out first, and he spent some time reassuring himself that his territory was safe, until the other door was opened, and Merlin, once again, stuck his head out. Then Arthur was quickly up on his rock, the highest point in the enclosure, waiting watchfully to see what the newcomer would do. His tail was rigid and his ears were perked. The keepers stood by, ready in case of any trouble.
Merlin, on the other hand, was mostly interested in the enclosure itself, which was bigger than any space he had ever seen, though it was only a small, closed off section of the larger Cammy territory. After some sniffing, and tentative pawing of the ground, he slid gracefully into the grass and began to explore, ignoring Arthur entirely.
The look on Arthur’s face was priceless. He was completely flabbergasted at the nerve of the newcomer. How dare he? This was Arthur’s territory. He would not be ignored!
When Merlin finally approached the little pool over which Arthur’s rock was thrust out, Arthur jumped down and cut him off, snarling. Merlin looked startled, but didn't run. The fur above Arthur’s tail rose, he shot out his chest and gave his most impressive roar.
Merlin blinked attentively, waited until Arthur was done, and then batted him on the nose, by way of saying hello.
Arthur growled and tried to bite him.
Merlin promptly shoved the king into the pool and high-tailed it back to his room.
At least it gave Arthur something new to mope about.
Gaius, however, considered it a success. For the next few days, Merlin was kept in his room. He seemed happy enough, but did take the odd trip over to the hatch, to see if it would open up again. He seemed to miss the enclosure. He could also smell Arthur, and would sometimes sit down and just breathe the air, before sighing and looking around a little wistfully. He was independent, but apparently not a loner by nature.
Arthur was mostly pissed off, but also clearly intrigued by this new experience. He waited impatiently for Merlin to visit him again, and once the two had been allowed to miss each other for a while, not to mention cool down, a second meeting was arranged.
This time, Arthur ran all the way up to the hatch before Merlin had so much as put a paw down. The two stared at each other. Merlin leaned forward, bumping his nose gently against Arthur’s. Arthur scrunched up his face. He considered Merlin for a moment with narrowed, suspicious eyes. Then he turned his back and walked calmly away, in condescending acceptance of Merlin’s continued presence in his territory. Merlin completely missed the obvious signal, leaped playfully after Arthur’s tail and grabbed it, making Arthur yowl.
The fight that ensued alarmed the keepers at first, until they realised that though Arthur seemed to be fuming, he was not seriously trying to injure the smaller male, just batting him around to put him in his place.
Merlin, meanwhile, who had never met another male Cammy, and had never needed to fight for power in any hierarchy, was completely unprepared for the golden male’s strength, not to mention ignorant of the meaning behind their play. He was quite surprised to find himself pinned beneath Arthur’s bigger bulk, and more so to discover that Arthur wouldn’t let him up.
Arthur shone with satisfaction, probably expecting this to be the end of his troubles.
Merlin wiggled around and quickly realised that he was trapped. He tried to reason with Arthur, but when he found his meows falling on deaf ears, he promptly gave in to despair and began to howl in misery. Perhaps he thought Arthur was going to keep him there forever.
Arthur put his paw on Merlin’s face to shut him up, and when that didn’t work, he tried growling a bit, and when that made things worse, he began to be concerned, cocking his head this way and that, and nosing at Merlin as if to comfort him.
Merlin remained uncomforted, so Arthur deliberately began to purr, to calm the black male down. He continued to nose at Merlin’s ears, as if to encourage them to perk up, and his chest rose and fell with loud rumbles.
This was something else Merlin was not used to. Affection from his mother was one thing, but this Cammy was different. This Cammy was strong and handsome and smelled good, and his scent was all over Merlin, and he was breathing on Merlin’s ears, and all in all it became too much for one little Cammy to handle.
With a violent wiggle, Merlin freed himself from underneath Arthur, and ran away to hide behind the nearest tree. When Arthur tried to follow, it became a chase. Merlin ran around and around with a frustrated and confused Arthur hot on his heels, until Merlin disappeared through the hatch, and the waiting keepers closed it behind him.
That left Arthur on the outside, roaring his displeasure.
Inside, Merlin couldn’t seem to settle down, pacing back and forth and breathing hard, wide eyes darting to the hatch every time Arthur let lose another roar. Finally, the dark male crawled into his nest and began to rub himself all over it, but whether it was to reaffirm his own scent, or to rub Arthur’s into the nest blankets, the keepers were not sure.
Gaius thought it best to give the two a few days apart again.
The third time proved to be a charm of sorts. This time, the keepers waited until Arthur was fast asleep in the shade of a tree, before letting Merlin out as quietly as they could. At first, Merlin wouldn’t even go out, until he discovered that Arthur was sleeping. Once in the enclosure, he walked wide circles around the golden male, closing in slowly and cautiously. Arthur slept on. First, Merlin lay down in the grass facing him, and just watched him some more, his tail swishing back and forth. Then he crept a little closer, and a little closer, until he was lying beside Arthur in the shade. There he lay, until Arthur woke. Then Merlin shot up to hide behind the tree again.
Arthur was not happy about having been snuck up on, and had to salvage his dignity by pretending to ignore Merlin in favour of grooming himself.
Once again, Merlin snuck closer, paw by paw, until he was lying next to Arthur again. Arthur continued to ignore him, licking his paws and dragging them across his mane. Merlin watched him with fascination. They passed the day this way, Arthur pretending that he didn’t have a black shadow following him around, but not pushing Merlin away either, while Merlin followed him ever-carefully, but with intense interest. The peace lasted until Arthur climbed up on the rock, the tip of which was only big enough for one. When Merlin tried to follow him, Arthur shouldered him off, but Merlin persisted, squeezing in next to Arthur and making both their seats precarious, until, in front of the crowd with their flashing cameras, both Cammies fell into the pool. It seemed the two could not go a single day without a furious Arthur chasing Merlin around the enclosure.
But once Arthur had given up, and flopped down in the evening sun to dry off, Merlin came slinking up to him, and nosed at him apologetically. Arthur huffed out a breath and let Merlin lie down beside him. They did not leave each other’s company until the keepers came to herd them to their rooms for the night.
Two weeks passed in harmony. Merlin and Arthur were together every day, and got along splendidly, even when they were bickering, which they often were. They seemed to enjoy it. Finally, Gaius decided it was time to introduce Merlin to the rest of the Cammies. They began by letting Arthur out alone into the little enclosure, and then bringing Leon in. Arthur had grown up with Leon, and Leon had always been loyal to him, accepting his authority without question. Arthur seemed pleased to see him. They butted heads and rubbed their necks together, and made a lot of happy noises. Leon sniffed the air, and the grass, and Arthur, intrigued by the new scent everywhere.
As if to explain, Arthur went over to Merlin's hatch and pawed at it. The keepers were relieved to see that Arthur was more than willing for Leon and Merlin to meet. They had feared that Arthur's somewhat possessive behaviour, enhanced by his recent defeat, would have made Merlin's integration difficult. Happily, that did not look like it would be a problem.
The hatch was raised, and Merlin had clearly been waiting right on the other side, because he was immediately out of his room and bouncing through the grass. He made no pause when he saw Leon, but bounced right over and greeted him enthusiastically. Perhaps knowing that Arthur accepted this other Cammy in his territory was enough to make Merlin trust him. Leon looked somewhat taken aback by Merlin's behaviour, but responded politely.
Arthur sat in the sun and purred.
The next to be introduced was Morgana, who was Arthur's sibling. The two fought constantly, and aggressively, but were also deeply attached to each other. She sashayed in and walked all over Arthur, greeting him with a violent mixture of care and scorn that manifested as forceful grooming with the occasional poke in the eye. Arthur eventually roared at her and chased her away, but she appeared to be laughing even as she ran. Merlin was understandably somewhat intimidated by this force of nature, and hid behind the tree for most of Arthur's humiliation. When Arthur chased Morgana away, Merlin climbed up the tree in alarm. After a little while, Morgana followed him. The thick branches and abundant leaves hid them well, but whatever happened between them up there seemed to work, because when they jumped down together, he was purring, and was happy to sit still while she groomed him quite peacefully.
Arthur was sulking on his rock, but didn't interfere, and when the two black Cammies came over and lay down by the lake with him, he made it clear by his manner that he was actually quite content with the situation.
With Leon and Morgana apprised of the new situation, Gaius thought the rest of the introductions could be done simultaneously. Overnight, while the Cammies were shut in their rooms, the barriers that had been set up to create a separate enclosure for Arthur were removed. The next day, Arthur and Leon were released first, and Arthur ran around and peed on everything to make the place smell right again.
Cammies were quite special creatures, in that though they lived in a hierarchy, it was more complicated and fluid than that of many other species. The alpha needn't be physically superior, he might have other skills that made him the best leader, and once the other members had chosen him or her, they stayed loyal to that choice so long as the alpha did a good job. There was also, as Lancelot and Gwen had proven, no exclusivity of mating; if the pair wanted each other, they would be together. Arthur was unhappy that Gwen had chosen Lancelot, but he would respect the choice she had made, and fight for their right to be together should any outside force threaten them. He was just going to mope a lot before and after.
So, although Arthur had been gone for weeks, almost a month in fact, the others had not chosen a new alpha, and when they emerged, a few at the time, from their rooms, they immediately came over to show him their respect, and their joy that he had returned.
Arthur's time away with Merlin had done wonders. He was calm and happy, play-fought with Gwaine and Percival, and head-butted Elyan, Gwen's brother who had arrived with her, as if he was an old friend. When Guinevere and Lancelot were released from the room they shared, Arthur went to meet them, and after receiving their obeisance, bowed his head in acceptance of their bond, and to apologise for his behaviour. They rubbed their necks against his, forgiving him easily.
But then the keepers released Merlin.
Merlin was halfway out of the hatch before he realised the territory had become huge over night. For a long moment he stood completely still, ears perked, tail straight, eyes round like saucers. Then he ran to hide behind his favourite tree.
Arthur rolled his eyes and went to get him. Coaxing did not help, so Arthur resorted to trying to pull Merlin out by the tail. Merlin dug his claws into the ground and held on, refusing to budge. Arthur roared at him, but Merlin had never been very responsive to that, and didn’t heed it now either.
In the end, Morgana came and pulled Arthur away, and the Cammy pack left Merlin alone behind the tree. They went about their day quite normally, with Merlin watching them with something like awe from his shaded spot.
After dinner, Guinevere went down to the little lake to bathe. Not all the Cammies liked water, but she did. She splashed around a bit, and then came up on the grassy bank to dry herself in the sun. Merlin had watched her for some time with fascination, and as she lay down and closed her eyes, he dared to approach her. She saw him coming and sat up, waiting for him with a smile on her face.
He approached cautiously, and she greeted him with a friendly meow. He meowed back. Soon they were cuddling and purring. Before the day was up, Gwen had taken Merlin around to meet everyone, and everyone had become fast friends.
Gwaine especially took a shine to Merlin, as they shared a certain child-like playfulness. In the following days they spent a lot of time together, chasing each other, playing hide and seek, or “hunting” the football the keepers had given them.
And now, Arthur’s possessiveness kicked in. He did not like how much time Merlin was spending with Gwaine. After a particularly busy day, when Gwaine had taken it upon himself to teach Merlin how to fight, which involved a lot of rolling around and batting at each other, Arthur couldn’t take it anymore. He intervened, chased Gwaine away, pinned Merlin down and spent the rest of the day lying on top of the black Cammy, to make sure no one would take him away from Arthur. Even Merlin's yowling didn't deter him, though it went on for half an hour, until Merlin forgot what he was upset about, and so went back to being happy. A happy Merlin was usually a playful Merlin, and so he spent the next half hour booping Arthur on the nose, and chewing on any part of him that he could get his mouth on. Arthur seemed to think this was a fair price to pay for continued possession of Merlin, and endured it stoically, until he couldn’t take it anymore and let Merlin know it by biting his neck.
This caused Merlin to freeze up. It was another one of those things that he hadn't experienced before, not since he was a kitten and Hunith had used the hold to carry him around. But they weren't going anywhere now. Merlin lay wide eyed and confused and waited for Arthur to let go. Since getting Merlin to be still was all Arthur had wanted, he quickly let go again and licked Merlin's neck apologetically. After a second, Merlin meowed questioningly. Arthur meowed back. Merlin meowed again, and Arthur meowed back. What they were talking about was anybody's guess, but the conversation went on for a long time, back and forth and back and forth.
Time passed, and the Cammy pack thrived. Merlin continued to be a little bit different, a little bit oblivious to pack etiquette and proper Cammy behaviour, but the others tolerated it, and taught him with patience. He and Arthur remained close companions. Merlin continued to treat Arthur’s with irreverence, but it became interspersed with moments of submissive obedience that proved that at least Merlin’s instincts were those of a proper Cammy; he had chosen Arthur as his alpha. Arthur did his best to adjust to Merlin’s wildly veering behaviour, but there still tended to be at least one chase-scene a day.
When Gaius received a phone call asking if Albion Zoo had room for another female Cammy, he quickly accepted. The Zoo board of directors was very interested in breeding Arthur for his good genes, and had been breathing down Gaius’ neck for a long time, but Gaius had stalled, because it was only recently that Arthur had begun to show signs of being done with his mourning period and back in the game again. He had begun to fuss with his den, for one thing, arranging and rearranging his nest, never satisfied, and he often prowled around the cage, head moving restlessly back and forth. There was something he wanted, and a new female might prove to be it.
The transfer went quickly, and the new female was introduced much the same way Merlin had been, except the welcoming committee consisted of Gwen and Morgana. Unfortunately, Vivian was a rather spoiled and snooty Cammy, who ignored Gwen’s attempts at a greeting, and swished her perfect, blond tail in Morgana’s face. It got ugly very fast after that, and the three had to be separated. Apparently the true reason for Vivian’s transfer was not lack of space, as the other zoo had claimed, but rather a severe attitude problem.
The keepers tried her with Arthur next, and if nothing else, Vivian seemed to recognise his authority, though it didn’t necessarily impress her. And Arthur did do his best to impress her, shaking his mane, puffing out his chest and prancing around with his tail in the air in a way that would have made Merlin laugh at him.
Merlin did not laugh however, when Vivian was introduced to the pack. She took one whiff of him and seemed to decide he was beneath her notice, which didn’t bother Merlin, but he paid close attention to the way Arthur behaved around her. Vivian had acted dismissively towards all the males, but if any of them had so much as a chance to change her mind, it was Arthur, and he knew it. He was not going to give up until Vivian had at least given him a chance.
From that day on, Merlin became increasingly despondent. He kept to himself more, acted sullen, and could frequently be found curled up in his nest, or sitting in the tree by the pool. Arthur had thrown himself into the role of suitor with such gusto that at first he didn’t notice, and when he did, Merlin rejected his attention. Arthur, frustrated that Merlin wasn’t talking to him, increased his attentions towards Vivian instead, but wooing is not easily accomplished while frustrated, and she soon went from ignoring him to snapping at him.
Merlin stopped eating.
The rest of the pack did their best to cheer and comfort, but mostly watched warily from a distance, waiting for something to change. The keepers, equally anxious, could also only watch. The board of directors wanted this mating to happen, and besides, the Cammies needed to work this out for themselves.
What finally changed was that Arthur looked up one day and noticed that Merlin wasn’t partaking in dinner time. He ignored his own meal, looking around in confusion, and finally selected a big piece of meat that he carried to the tree where Merlin was hiding. Arthur put the meat down and meowed for Merlin. A pair of blue eyes glittered down at him from between the leaves, but Merlin did not respond. Arthur meowed again, impatiently. Up on his branch, Merlin turned around, so that Arthur was suddenly talking to his ass instead of his face. Arthur had had a little too much of that from both Merlin and Vivian lately, and this time he boiled over. With impressive athleticism he jumped up and bit down on Merlin’s hanging tail, dragging him bodily from the tree and causing both of them to land in a heap on the ground. Merlin made the kind of sound cat-creatures make when you pull them hard by the tail, let out his claws for the first time since he had arrived at Albion Zoo, and sunk them into Arthur’s chest.
A few seconds of furious clawing and yowling commenced before Arthur, who was after all a lot bigger and stronger, managed to clout Merlin around the ears with a big paw, knocking him to the ground. Arthur immediately regretted it, but Merlin didn’t give him the chance to apologise, getting up and streaking away to the other side of the enclosure, where he found Gwen and sought comfort with her.
Arthur, upset and angry, stalked back and forth beneath the tree, eyes on where Merlin had disappeared, completely ignoring the bright red lines marring his own skin. Then his pace slowed down, and eventually he sat down. He looked like he was thinking hard; an expression that involved a lot of squinting and screwing up his mouth and nose. He sniffed a bit, and then went wide-eyed, and quickly sniffed some more. He snuffled along the ground, up along the tree trunk, down again and through the grass to the open hatch to the room where the single males slept. Arthur had his own room, and so did not often enter here, but now he did so resolutely, and immediately found his way to Merlin’s nest. For a precious minute he just pawed happily at Merlin’s blankets, rubbing his face in them and purring. Then he set to work, grabbing blanket after blanket and dragging them out of this room and over to his own, where he added them to his own nest, rearranging everything as he had done so many times before, but this time with evident satisfaction. Once he was done, and once he had basked a bit in the mingled scent of him and Merlin, he remerged into the enclosure. He did not go to Merlin right away, however, but waited with the patience of a hunter; lounging on his rock and watching Elyan and Percival playing with the football.
Eventually, Merlin snuck past, going to his room. Arthur pretended not to see him, but once Merlin had gone inside, Arthur followed him, waiting outside the hatch.
It didn’t take long before mournful and confused cries rose from inside the single males’ room. Then Merlin stuck his face out of the hatch and pouted furiously at Arthur, tears standing in his eyes. Arthur just waited. Merlin sniffed, caught his own scent trailing away from his room, and followed it to the other hatch. He remained there, looking into the room he had never entered, and then he looked over his shoulder at Arthur, confused and maybe a little scared.
Arthur rolled his shoulders back, shook his mane and rumbled contentedly, before stalking forward and all but herding Merlin inside. This room was fairly small, but housed an old tree to climb on, as well as Arthur’s now double nest. Merlin walked backwards in little circles, hunched down and making himself small as if he couldn’t figure out where he fit in, in this space where everything smelled of Arthur. Arthur’s space, Arthur’s tree, Arthur’s nest … Arthur’s nest? He stopped, pawed a little at the nest and recognised his own blankets in there.
Arthur, who had been blocking the entrance until now, decided to show Merlin exactly where in this space he belonged. He snuck up on the dark male and pushed his head into Merlin’s flank, toppling him into the nest.
Merlin lay trembling amidst the blankets with Arthur towering over him. He breathed in deeply, and it made his eyelashes flutter, his whole body twisting sinuously, as if his and Arthur’s mingled scents were a drug to him. He turned his flushed, red face into the blankets and rubbed himself against them, whining a little. Arthur began to purr. He had figured it out all by himself; smelled Merlin’s jealousy, his need to mate, and realised that Merlin wanted Arthur, and since Arthur wanted Merlin too, the rest was easy. Now that Arthur had proven himself capable of making a good nest, and Merlin had approved of it, all that remained was the mating itself.
Arthur lowered himself down on top of Merlin, letting Merlin feel that he was hard, and Merlin reacted by letting his legs fall open, and by baring his neck submissively. He was hard too, his little cock angry-red and wet. Arthur licked Merlin’s neck, biting at it only gently, as if preparing him for the more aggressive mating bite to come.
In the control room of Albion Zoo, the keeper on duty was just returning to the monitors with a fresh cup of coffee. That coffee quickly hit the floor when she saw what was happening in the Cammy alpha’s room.
“Oh shit!” In a second, she was out the door and running to find Gaius.