Title: In Our Mother Tongue
Character/s: Merlin, Kilgharrah
Summary: Then again, if you started carrying on conversations with a dragon, you probably had to be just a little crazy after all.
Word Count: 918
Prompt: Whispers in the Night
Author's Notes: This is what I immediately thought of when I saw this prompt, lol! Apologies for any errors I might have made.
When he first hears his name being whispered through the cold and dusty stone floors, Merlin fears he’s going mad. Perhaps it’s residual shock from arriving in Camelot to see someone--that could’ve quite easily been him--publicly and graphically executed. Or the fact that his mother has sent him to such a place so willingly.
But then he discovers the truth, and is relieved to find he hasn’t gone mad at all.
…Then again, if you started carrying on conversations with a dragon, you probably had to be just a little crazy after all.
It has to be some sort of gift, some secret power that’s never been discussed between the two of them. How else could the Dragon know to call for him at the most inopportune times? Just as Merlin collapses into bed, exhausted from the trials of being Arthur’s manservant and sometimes (secret) sorcerer, a increasingly persistent voice suddenly calls out for him, and any chance at sleep is lost until he answers.
Sometimes he suspect the Dragon does it on purpose, because when Merlin drags himself down to the cavern, there’s just the usual lectures consisting of phrases like, “Two sides of the same coin, blah blah blah” before the Dragon chuckles in that annoying way to himself.
It’s only when Merlin retaliates in turn--finding that the Dragon tends to nap after his morning meal--that the late night conversations are put to an end.
Unless Merlin initiates them himself.
After learning about the Dragon’s betrayal over the Cup of Life and vowing never to return, Merlin begins to sleep with a pillow held over his head. He’s trying to muffle the familiar whispers that have transformed into livid yelling.
It doesn’t really work.
Maybe he should have stood his ground, but after a year of no contact between the two of them, Merlin has finally recognized the simple truth: he needs the Dragon just as much as it needs him.
It’s an indescribable feeling to know that such a fearsome being has so much faith in him and his power, and Merlin grows cocky sometimes because of it. He ignores a lot of the advice given to him, choosing to act with his heart over his head. Every time he realizes he’s made the wrong decision though, he returns from the experience humbled and just a bit wiser. And the Dragon forgives him for his oversights, just sighing patronizingly, like a father trying to comfort a crying child he’s just scolded.
That’s the only reason Merlin eventually forgives Kilgharrah for attacking the kingdom and its people.
Merlin is well aware he needs to be up even earlier than usual to help the recovery process, but as he tosses and turns in bed, he can’t help but feel that something is missing. He’s so used to sensing Kilgharrah’s presence underneath the castle--now that’s it’s gone, it feels like a piece of himself has vanished with it.
The battle for slumber long since lost, Merlin redresses in his day clothes and steals out of his room, distracting the guards with a diversion from the flick of his wrist. When he is a good distance away from the city walls (but can still clearly see Camelot’s colors flapping proudly on top of the castle’s turrets), he raises his head towards the heavens and roars the archaic language that now courses in his blood.
While he knows Kilgharrah is required to respond to a Dragonlord’s beck and call, Merlin idly wonders if he would come even if he wasn’t Balinor’s son. There’s no time to really dwell on the matter, for an approaching silhouette is already blocking the stars from view in the wake of its descent. When Kilgharrah finally lands in the clearing chosen for their meeting, he bows his head in the customary fashion before he speaks. “Young warlock, for wanting me to never return to Camelot, you have summoned me dangerously close to its borders.”
“I know, but I just didn’t want to be too far from Arthur, just in case--” Merlin’s babbling, and he knows it, but he’s suddenly feeling sheepish for calling on a dragon simply because he misses it’s voice. “…Could you maybe tell me what you remember about magic? Before the Great Purge?”
Kilgharrah tilts his head to the side curiously, assessing Merlin with a golden-eyed stare before he nods slowly. “Very well.”
The rumble of Kilgharrah’s voice--as he recounts the tales of when magic was free as the birds in the sky--eventually lulls Merlin to sleep in bed crafted from sweet smelling grass and last year’s fallen leaves.
When Merlin wakes up, birds are singing sweetly in the trees above him to greet the new morning, and he scrambles to his feet when he realizes the time. No doubt Arthur has already noted his manservant’s absence, and will probably have a long list of chores in retribution for when Merlin returns.
Kilgharrah has left, taking the rest of the night sky with him on his wings, and Merlin regrets not being able to say good-bye.
Then he sees it: hidden in the grass, next to where he slept, lies a reddish-hued dragon scale. He picks it up with a sense of awe, his skin tingling from the magic he senses running through it, and unconsciously places it next to his ear.
It’s faint and intelligible, but he swears he hears the low timbre of Kilgharrah’s voice reverberating through. And the resulting smile on Merlin’s face is brighter than the rising sun.