Title: Can't Sidhe the Forest for the Trees
Character/s: Arthur, Kilgharrah
Summary: And anyway, so what if Arthur was a bully? He was the prince of Camelot Forest. There was no reason Arthur should have to play nice with every faun, cyclops, and will-o’-the-wisp that annoyed him.
Word Count: 999
Prompt: #206: Time Out
Author's Notes: Follow-up to Flora for Fauna.
Late and pretty rough, sorry! This one didn't want to come, even though the prompt was perfect.
Arthur stormed through the trees, thrashing every twig and leaf in his way. Flares of magic burst with each snap, protesting the cruel treatment, but he brushed them aside. It was his forest, he’d fix it later.
If he felt like it.
It wasn’t far from Gaius’s glade to the Peaceful Grotto—a cave just off the large stream with a vaulted roof and large, naturally formed holes to let in the light—but Arthur carved a long, wandering path of destruction instead of going directly there. It was a protest.
He shouldn’t have been sent in the first place, not for pointing out something entirely true about the idiotic new faun. He did have big ears.
And anyway, so what if Arthur was a bully? He was the prince of Camelot Forest, his power second only to the king’s, and Arthur’s father was rarely nice to anyone. There was no reason Arthur should have to play nice with every faun, cyclops, and will-o’-the-wisp that annoyed him.
By the time he reached the Grotto, he was no calmer. In fact, he was so worked up that at first he didn’t notice the massive figure curled within the far edge of the rock wall.
When he did, he had to take a step back at seeing a giant eye, as tall as he was if not taller, focused on him with burning intensity.
After only a moment of stunned staring, he cleared his throat. “Greetings, Dragon Kilgharrah,” he said, because even Sidhe royalty preferred not to disrespect a Great Dragon.
“Princeling,” it said in response, because Great Dragons had no such preferences about Sidhe royalty. “It’s well past time for you to stop taking your little tantrums out on the forest.”
Arthur scowled. “I do not have tantrums!”
“Of course you do.” Kilgharrah waved a clawed hand, brushing aside his protest like it was ridiculous. “They’re almost as frequent as your abuses of your peers.”
“I don’t abuse anyone,” Arthur complained again, “and they’re not my peers! I’m the—”
He was cut short as the dragon thrust its head towards him with alarming speed, stopping with the ridge of its nose just shy of his face so it could peer down at him.
Arthur could feel its breaths curling against his cheeks, hot as a brownie’s stove, but he pretended his father was watching and didn’t let himself flinch back.
“You’re the most spoiled brat to be in line for Camelot’s throne since Uther was your age, which is neither a surprise nor the point. I’ve gone to some inconvenience to come here and offer you a piece of advice.”
Grinding his teeth against the dragon’s insult to his father, Arthur managed to stay silent as he waited for Kilgharrah to finish.
Apparently satisfied that it had Arthur’s attention, it continued, “The young faun will be a great ally to you, if you let him.”
“What, Merlin?” Arthur demanded, forgetting his manners in horror. “What could he possibly do for me?”
But the dragon was already stretching past Arthur out of the cavern, and it said nothing else before its giant wings sent waves of wind against Arthur’s back.
Annoyed all over again, Arthur shuffled over to a rock in the center of the Grotto and sat down, staring at the darkly marbled stone wall. At least Kilgharrah’s ramblings had saved him from a few more minutes of meditation.
Arthur rolled his eyes before shutting them.
Despite his best efforts to keep thinking about how obnoxious the faun had been, or how he’d like to muzzle the dragon with vines next time he saw him, even he couldn’t fight the harmonious energy of the Peaceful Grotto.
His mind turned to his mother, whom he’d never met. There was only one portrait of her, hanging beside his father’s bed, and he’d gotten into a lot of trouble when he was younger for sneaking in while the king held court to stare at it.
He’d known, even before his father had told him, that she wasn’t Sidhe. Her features had been too soft and warm to fit in, and Arthur looked more like her than his father.
Learning she’d been human was a shock, though. Humans were forbidden in Camelot Forest, by his father’s own order! That had come after, though. After he’d met her and fallen in love and taken her on as a consort in secret, because she couldn’t be Queen. After she’d died giving birth to Arthur, too frail—too human—to survive the half-Sidhe prince draining her lifeforce.
He didn’t know why his father kept the portrait, since he never looked at it and got mad when Arthur did. He even told Arthur that he wasn’t supposed to tell anyone he was part mortal, but Arthur had heard the whispers and seen how certain members of the Court looked at him when they thought he or his father couldn’t see.
They knew, and they hated him for it.
Just like that, he remembered hearing about another human who’d come to Camelot. It had been after Arthur was born, but not by much. Long enough for it to be breaking the ban, though. He’d stayed long enough to get a forest dweller with child before he’d been run off, though. A faun woman.
She’d had a son, and even though he apparently looked enough like a full-blooded faun to stay in Camelot, everyone knew and said mean things and—
He hadn’t actually known that was Merlin, but it made sense now. No wonder he’d cried so easily, if he was used to people making fun of him for that.
That was just stupid. Arthur didn’t care about his dad, he’d just wanted to talk to the boy and his huge, dumb ears had seemed like a good place to start. It wasn’t his fault everyone else had been cruel.
So Gaius wasn’t right, he didn’t really owe Merlin an apology, but he’d offer one anyway.
He was a gracious prince, after all.