Title: Not What You Were Expecting
Character/s: Merlin, Freya
Summary: Merlin visits Freya one night and is met with a surprise.
Word Count: 766
Prompt: #170, Expecting
Author's Notes: i love it when an idea pops into my head immediately after i read the prompt!
Merlin hummed as he made his way through the tunnels. In just a few minutes he’d get to see her again. Freya. Even her name was beautiful. She was beautiful. Every other woman paled in comparison and he realized he’d never been in love before—this was real love. Just a couple more turns and he’d . . .
A mangled groaning sound came from up ahead. He’d never heard anything like it before. Whatever it was sounded like it was in pain—and it was coming from where he’d left Freya!
He dropped what he was holding and ran the remaining distance to her. What he saw left him breathless in more ways than one. Standing there in the alcove was a giant black cat; it had wings like a bat and teeth that could take a man’s head off. It snarled at him viciously and he backed up a couple paces.
He looked around and couldn’t see Freya. What he could see, though, was the remains of her dress lying under the creature’s feet. Had it harmed her? “What have you done with Freya?” he demanded.
The creature opened its mouth and emitted a sound halfway between a human scream and a lion’s roar. But its eyes—they looked haunted. Haunted? What was this thing and where had it come from? A soft voice entered his mind. “Merlin, it’s me.”
“Freya?” he asked out loud. “Where are you?”
“I’m right here. In front of you.”
He looked around the alcove again, even behind him, but saw no one. “Where?”
“The creature. It’s me.” The creature sat on its haunches and folded its wings. It stared at Merlin and quieted its growling.
Merlin took another couple steps back in shock. “You? You’re this—this thing?”
“Not what you were expecting, am I? But I told you—I was cursed.”
He walked forward, close enough to touch the creature—Freya. “How—why?”
“I wasn't always like this. There was a man. He attacked me. I didn't mean to hurt him, but I thought he was going to kill me.”
“It was an accident.”
“His mother was a sorceress, and when she found out that I'd killed her son, she cursed me to kill forever more.” Her eyes, which he now realized were exactly the same shade as her human eyes, looked downward. “You must hate me.”
He gave into the urge to touch her. “How could I?”
“I'm a monster.”
“No, you’re not.” He put his arms around her neck and leaned his head to hers.
She snorted and suddenly backed away. “You shouldn’t get close to me. I—I might kill you.”
“You wouldn’t do that.”
“How do you know? That’s what I do—kill humans.”
“Freya. I’ve been here how long and I’m still alive.”
Those big brown eyes blinked. “Yes . . .”
“I think . . .” he scooted closer, “I think you can’t kill me.”
She backed away. “Merlin—don’t test me. I—I . . .”
He kept crawling toward her and she bumped into the wall, her tail swishing agitatedly. Then he reached his hand out, laid it on the side of her head and began stroking there. “Shh. Just let me try this.” Her eyes closed and she sat again. “Freya. I love you and I think you love me. You can’t hurt me.” Her eyes flew open and he chuckled. “Not like you’re thinking, anyway.”
“Merlin, I do love you. But how can you love me? I still feel the compulsion to kill.”
“I’ll stay here and help you. I’ll . . . hold you, if it comes to that.”
Her eyes stared into his. “You’d—you’d do that for me?”
“Whatever it takes. That’s what I’d do for you.”
“Oh Merlin.” She laid her head in his lap; the rest of her body slumped to the floor as well. As she relaxed, she began purring.
He repeatedly ran his hands over her head and down her back as far as he can reach. “Shh, my love. Relax—you’re safe with me.”
Freya settled down relatively quickly. He couldn’t tell if she was asleep or not, but within an hour or so, she began groaning and her cat shape shivered and shuddered until her human form lay face down. He gently took off his jacket and covered her with it, whispering words of comfort and love until she fell asleep again. He curled up on the ground as well as he could, not wanting to leave her. All was well—at least for the next few hours.