Title: Promising Smile
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Aithusa
Summary: Merlin had a favour to ask
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Puppy Love
Author's Notes: Bit of a fluff overload!
Arthur rolled over, frowning when cool sheets met his searching hand. Annoyed, he opened his eyes. Merlin was gone. Arthur had been getting used to waking up with his manservant curled around him. He didn’t like waking alone now. Rolling back so he was stretched out on his back, the king sighed as he stared at his canopy. Merlin wouldn’t have gone to get breakfast. Arthur was sure of that simply because that was what Merlin should have been doing. Merlin had never conformed all the years they had been together, why would he start now? But that left Arthur with the puzzling question of where was he.
Once the thought had entered his mind, Arthur knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep. He would deny it, but worry was beginning to work away at him. Merlin had started making the most of Arthur’s bed and often only got up when Arthur physically forced him from the bed. When a few moments passed and Merlin didn’t appear, Arthur rose. He dressed and started pacing his room. He would have gone to Gaius’. But if Merlin was there, he would never let Arthur live it down that he had come looking for him.
But if something had happened to him, Arthur was sure the guilt he had sat here and done nothing would tear him apart. Cursing his foolish lover, Arthur buckled on his sword and strode for the door. As his hand stretched out to open it, it suddenly started to swing in on its own accord. Then Arthur was presented with a view of Merlin’s backside.
“As much as I usually love that view, what are you doing?” The king drawled. Merlin was backing into the room. But even when he was clear of the door and it swung shut, he didn’t turn around.
“Merlin. Where have you been?”
“Arthur,” Merlin began. As Merlin edged sideways through the room, Arthur realised the man was doing everything in his power not to turn around. His curiosity – and alarm – provoked into rearing, Arthur let go of his sword and strode towards Merlin. He touched his shoulder, fully intending to spin him around. But Merlin leaped away.
“I need to ask you something. Promise you’ll hear me out before you react. And don’t blame her. Don’t you dare harm her, she’s only a baby.”
“What are you talking about?”
Merlin turned around. Arthur blinked. In Merlin’s arms was…
“No.” Arthur shook his head as he backed up. His bed was closer than he thought and it caught the back of his knees, forcing him to sit down. “It can’t be.”
“I can’t leave her out there alone, Arthur.” Merlin protested. Arthur barely heard him. He was too busy focusing on the tiny white dragon nestled in Merlin’s arms, chewing on the end of his scarf contently. “She’s so tiny and vulnerable.”
“What precisely are you trying to ask me?”
Arthur finally tore his eyes away from the creature to look at Merlin. His servant didn’t say anything, just bit his lip. There was such innocence in the gesture and his eyes were wide and appealing. Merlin didn’t need to say anything. Arthur knew what he was going to say.
“No. No, we are not keeping a dragon in my chambers.”
“I don’t know where else is safe,” Merlin wheedled. He moved closer. “Please, Arthur? She needs someone to look after her and protect her. Who better than you?”
Arthur swore in his head. He held up a warning finger, but his rebuke didn’t leave his mouth. Merlin knew him too well. Arthur had never been able to refuse someone needing his help. Even if that someone in this case came in the form of a tiny dragon. Arthur tried again to say no, but his gaze was captivated by the dragon.
Merlin sensed his hesitation. He moved forward. “I’ll fetch breakfast.”
Then, without any warning, he transferred the dragon into Arthur’s arms. The creature gave a cry of distress when she couldn’t reach Merlin’s scarf. Arthur found himself reacting automatically, cradling her in one hand and running his fingers down her back. The distress turned to a sound of pleasure and Arthur felt a smile tug at his lips as the dragon nestled into his shirt.
“See,” Merlin said. He had a beaming smile on his face. “She likes you. She won’t be any trouble, Arthur, I promise…”
“Merlin…” Arthur began. There were several reasons why they couldn’t keep a dragon. But the creature chose that moment to look up at him. Her eyes were wide and blue – and like Merlin’s, Arthur couldn’t help but note. They had the same trust and innocence he saw in Merlin’s expression. Arthur felt himself waver. He looked up at his lover, and found Merlin was giving him exactly the same look.
“Well, I can’t move her now.” Merlin argued. Arthur looked down to find the dragon had curled up tighter and gone to sleep. Arthur’s heart skipped a beat. She trusted him enough to sleep. He knew he was lost. He sighed.
“What’s her name then?”
“Aithusa.” Merlin beamed, leaning forward and kissing the top of Arthur’s head. “Thank you. I swear you won’t even know she is here.”
“Yeah, right,” Arthur muttered. He was already envisioning torn bedsheets and a playful dragon waking him at the crack of dawn while Merlin stuck his head under the pillow in order to continue sleeping. “You’re cleaning up after her.”
“I promise.” Merlin dropped to his haunches in order to watch the sleeping dragon for a few moments. He reached out and softly stroked her head. The dragon didn’t stir and Arthur found himself captivated. She was gorgeous.
Eventually, he reached out with his foot and prodded Merlin hard enough to make his servant fall over. As Merlin let out an indignant yelp, Arthur stared impassively down at him.
“Go and get breakfast,” he ordered. “Then you have a lot of explaining to do.”