Title: Aithusa
Fandom: Merlin (BBC)
Pairing: Minor Arthur/Merlin
Warning: A little slash
Summary: Five times Aithusa and Merlin met.
Author’s Note: Seriously, accidental fic. Look at the post on my LJ for cute screencaps of Aithusa.

Aithusa

The first time, Merlin wasn’t even sure what the weight on his chest was until after he had jerked in shock and frightened the little creature. It – she, he realised – blinked up at him with a distinctly displeased look, making him wither and forget that he was her lord and had a good nineteen years on her. He sighed and flopped back, completely unsurprised when she promptly fluttered back onto his chest, turned around a few times, digging her sharp little claws in, and curled up.

“Hello Aithusa.” He sighed resignedly, and flopped back. He had a little bit more time before he had to be up anyway.

She was gone when he woke, but he was still comfortably warm despite the first chill of winter settling into his room.

The second time, he wasn’t particularly surprised when he woke up a good bit warmer than he should be with a heavier weight on his chest. He placed one warm hand on her back, hearing a small chirrup of noise from her, but they both settled back into sleep contentedly.

Of course, he woke up late, and rushed flustered up to Arthur’s room, coming in to find he already had his clothes half on – properly this time – and breakfast laid out. He scowled at the evidence of someone else doing his job, but was man enough to admit that it was his fault since he’d gone to sleep with a dragon on his chest – a dragon that, apparently, purred.

The fourteenth time, by his reckoning, that he met Aithusa after bringing her into the world, she saved his life. He was already head-over-heels for the baby dragon, but this definitely solidified his feelings for her. He’d been out with Arthur, and far too busy trying to protect him from the fourteen hunters that had attacked their party of four (Leon and Gwaine had been with them as well), to notice the bandit creeping up on him. The King and his Knights might not have noticed Merlin using magic against three of the bandits so far, but they had noticed, and figured that the best way to defeat them was to kill him.

He didn’t even realise anything had happened until he heard a quiet little shriek that he belatedly recognised from the third time he’d woken up surprised and thrown her across the room. He spun around and just stared in surprise as she looked back at him with a sheepish look, bandit-parts dangling from her mouth and his torn-up remains abandoned at her feet. She chirruped pleasantly, then took off, flapping her wings once to give her enough lift to perch in the branches. Merlin turned around with a small grin and began interfering again, trusting Aithusa to watch his back.

When the battle was over and they began making noises about returning to Camelot to tend to Gwaine’s minor wound, she was gone.

The fifty-third time, it was a good hour and a half into her visit before Merlin realised that it was exactly one year since her birth. He stopped abruptly, causing her to fly into his chest, knocking him to the floor with a soft ‘oomph’. She gave an annoyed chirrup, sitting on his chest and staring into his face. He beamed at her and gave a loud laugh, hugging her. She squeaked but settled in happily and purred back at him.

“Happy birthday.” He said loudly. She chirruped back, then fluttered away from him and into the air, clearly more interested in resuming their game than how many days she’d been alive.

An hour later, a draft of air washed over them both, and Merlin looked up at the imposing form of Kilgarrah as he landed in front of him. Aithusa fluttered over to him quickly, chirping happily at him and nuzzling into his neck like she did sometimes with Merlin. Merlin smiled happily at them both, and Kilgarrah rumbled pleasantly.

“She’s a year old today.” He told Kilgarrah happily. Kilgarrah gave his odd growling laugh.

“How strange it must be for humans, to measure their lives in such short timespans. When she reaches her first century I will celebrate. She is still barely out of her egg.”

“She’s nearly doubled in size! And humans, we live such short lives, why shouldn’t we celebrate each year?”

“Most humans have short lives, Merlin. I am sure I will celebrate your one hundredth year with you as well, if you don’t get yourself killed first.”

Merlin wrinkled his nose at the dragon, and chose to ignore him.

“Why does she keep coming to see me?” He asked after a few moments, when she stopped nuzzling Kilgarrah – her father? Her intended? – and began flying around them both.

“You helped birth her, Merlin, and I have raised her. You have magic that is familiar and powerful, that she enjoys being close to. She looks on you much like a child looks on their parent.”

“You mean she thinks I’m her Dad?” Merlin squeaked, looking at the little white dragon with surprise and a little joy.

“Well, she looks on me like a father, as I am the one who is raising her. You birthed her, you named her and called her forward. She looks on you more like a mother.”

Merlin scowled.

The four hundred and seventy sixth time, although Merlin had long lost count by now, she fluttered down and settled calmly in front of him, folding her wings behind her and bowing her head regally. His King, beside him, was gaping at her in return in a very un-regal manner, but Merlin supposed he could be forgiven. His newly appointed court Sorcerer had just admitted he had a five year old adopted daughter who was incidentally also a six foot tall white dragon. And then used his power as a Dragon Lord to call her down and introduce them.

“Er… Merlin… is she supposed to be looking at me like she thinks I’m tasty.”

“Oh, no she isn’t. She’s looking at you like she thinks you’re a good King…” Merlin replied, surreptitiously scowling at her behind his King’s back. She really was looking at him like he was tasty, and it was totally deliberate. She wasn’t exactly pleased with Arthur, what with him having his archers firing arrows at her a few months ago when she left after visiting Merlin (she couldn’t lie on top of him anymore, since she was bigger and a lot heavier than him, but she did lie beside him and rest her head on his chest). Her wing bore a furrowed scar where an arrow had deflected off the vulnerable scales, although Kilgarrah (when he stopped shooting flames) said it would fade eventually. Of course, for a creature that thought a year was a blink, ‘eventually’ could well mean ‘in about five hundred years, give or take a milennia’.

“Um, what do I… say?” He asked, fidgeting again.

“Well, anything. She can’t talk yet, Kilgarrah says that she probably won’t for a few hundred years, although what with my influence it could be sooner but probably not for at least fifty years.”

“Merlin! I really don’t care. I care about the big scary dragon in front of me who is still looking at me like she’s thinking of eating me!”

Aithusa chose that moment to flutter closer and nudge her nose into Merlin’s chest, demanding a nose-rub. Arthur was apparently forgiven since he wasn’t actively trying to kill her any more (and looking at her a bit like he was thinking of running away like a little girl, which he thinks is secretly pleasing her).

“Yes,” he said dryly, “she looks so big and

“Merlin, you’re fired. You can go right back to being my Manservant.”

“Yes Sire.” Merlin replied equably. He’d already been fired eight times since his appointment – this morning – and reinstated when Arthur remembered he was a sorcerer who could turn him into a frog (the first time was an accident) and apparently was destined to be by his side and help him build Albion.

“I suppose she’s not too bad.” Arthur said, edging closer and reaching out tentatively. “For a giant scaly fire breathing lizard.”

She hissed at him, and Merlin doubled over laughing when Arthur reared back and tumbled to the ground. She rumbled, clearly pleased, but hunkered next to him and nudged her nose into Arthur’s chest until he began stroking it in self-defence. A few moments later, he laughed as well, head thrown back and shining in the late September sun. Later they would go back to his rooms and Merlin would try to make Arthur laugh like that again, would kiss that smile into something even sweeter, more tender. Remind him all over again, with his own special kind of magic, that he was a young man as well as a legendary King.

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