evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
Title: Now That We Have Seen Each Other
Author: [personal profile] evening_bat
Pairing: some Merlin/Gwaine hints
Rating: G
Word Count: ~ 1100
Warnings: Merlin is not my usual playground and it probably shows.
Summary: Gwaine was a very likable man.
Notes: Response to this prompt over on [livejournal.com profile] comment_fic. Okay, I lied about not answering this prompt. And [livejournal.com profile] tigriswolf is apparently a very accomplished enabler.


Now That We Have Seen Each Other

"Do you know, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!"
"Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."
~ Lewis Carroll; Through the Looking Glass


Their first warning of its approach was a gleam of white as the unicorn emerged into the clearing. Merlin threw caution to the wind and latched on to Arthur’s arm, alarmed by the way his hand had dropped automatically to the hilt of his sword.

“Hold! Stay your swords!” Arthur called sharply to his knights, who’d reacted similarly to the unicorn’s unexpected entrance. He tugged his arm out of Merlin’s grasp irritably. “Will you unhand me, Merlin? I’ll ensure no one so much as scratches the beast, you overgrown girl.”

Merlin withdrew his hand, reassured by the wary respect in Arthur’s eyes. Good to see that Arthur had learned his lesson the first time; let him blame his lack of aggression on whatever excuse he liked. The other three knights had stood down immediately at Arthur’s command, though Elyan and Leon were still watching the unicorn carefully. Gwaine, closest to the animal, didn’t seem put off by the brilliantly white creature that had slipped out of the brush with improbable ease. To the contrary, he seemed positively delighted.

“Aren’t you a wonderful sight, then?” he crooned at it, grinning widely as the unicorn turned to regard him with dark, thoughtful eyes.

“Gwaine,” Arthur said tensely as the unicorn took a careful step forward, sniffing delicately at Gwaine’s outstretched hand. “It’s not a stray horse, you idiot.”

Merlin felt a twinge of unease despite his awe of the unicorn. That was an awfully pointy horn and the unicorn probably didn’t have much in the way of pleasant experiences with armed men.

Gwaine just chuckled and tossed his hair out of his eyes. “Oh, calm down. This a good sign of your land’s health, sire. He’s not out to hurt anyone, are you?”

The unicorn lipped at Gwaine’s hand, then sidled closer and butted its cheek carefully against Gwaine’s chest.

“See?” Gwaine pointed out as he scratched the unicorn’s chin.

It might not be a horse, Merlin reflected, but with its eyes half-closed in pleasure as it leaned into the attention, it certainly looked like one. Minus the stabby horn, of course.

* * *

“You can’t be serious!” Arthur scoffed as a long white face poked out of the trees surrounding their camp site that evening.

Elyan smothered a snicker at Arthur’s outraged tone and even Leon was hiding a smile. Merlin, safely behind Arthur, didn’t bother hiding his grin as Gwaine brightened.

“Well, hello again! Miss us already?”

The unicorn shook its head and picked its way out of the trees and over to where Gwaine sat sprawled against a fallen log. It had apparently taken a shine to Gwaine, shadowing the movement of the small party all day long. They’d caught pale flickers of its hide as it trailed them through the forest, occasionally emerging to nuzzle at Gwaine until he indulged its demands for more attention. Arthur’s wariness had eventually given way to annoyance but Merlin suspected that was due in no small part to the unicorn’s obvious preference for Gwaine.

Magic and its various creatures never ceased to amaze, Merlin chuckled to himself.

Arthur’s irritation hit the boiling point when the unicorn gracefully folded its legs and settled comfortably down beside Gwaine. “You cannot possibly expect us to allow the creature to stay here tonight,” he declared flatly.

“I don’t see why not,” Gwaine countered cheerfully as he dug through his cloak, eventually coming up with an apple. The unicorn looked over with interest, plucking the fruit from his hands and crunching on it contentedly. “He’s got neater table manners than most of the nobles I've seen you dine with. Besides, I’d like to see you try to shoo him away.”

Arthur hesitated at that and Merlin bit down hard on his lip to erase the image of Arthur flapping his arms and shouting at the unicorn as if it were a wayward chicken. To Merlin's relief (and slight disappointment), Arthur wisely decided to concede the point.

“Very well, then,” he announced stiffly, retiring to the opposite side of their camp in offended silence.

Elyan and Leon were pointedly focused on their nighttime chores and Merlin flashed a bright grin over at Gwaine, reclining comfortably at the unicorn’s side. He muffled a laugh at the sly wink Gwaine sent him before scurrying over to tend to Arthur. No need to give the Prince’s temper any fresh tinder.

* * *

Merlin had expected to be the earliest to rise the next morning, as usual, so it was with some surprise that he realized that Gwaine and the unicorn were nowhere to be found when he scrubbed the sleep out of his eyes. Faint alarm prickled at him as he blinked blearily at the empty spot near the fire. The unicorn was no danger, of course, but he wasn’t the only animal to be found in the forest and Gwaine was only one knight...

He was relieved to discover that his worried had been unfounded. Gwaine was at the river, stroking the unicorn’s neck as it drank. He laughed quietly as it raised its head, showering him with drops of water as it shook its mane.

“Time for you to be off, lovely fellow,” Gwaine told the unicorn as it bumped the side of its face against his chest. “Camelot is no place for the likes of you.”

The unicorn snorted at that, startling a chuckle out of Merlin.

Gwaine smiled over at him, giving the unicorn one last pat before he smacked its flank lightly. “Go on,” he encouraged.

The unicorn sighed (regretfully, Merlin would have sworn!) and ambled slowly away.

Gwaine shook his head as he strolled over to Merlin. “Sad to see him go, really,” he said lightly. “But I can’t see him stabled alongside the Princess’ stallion. Can you?”

“Not likely!” Merlin eyed him carefully. “You’re taking the magical horse thing very well,” he ventured. He’d been waiting half the night for someone to have a fit over the unquestionably magical creature that had been trailing adoringly after Gwaine for most of the day.

Gwaine just laughed. “A unicorn is hardly the strangest thing I’ve seen in my travels, Merlin,” he chided fondly. “Though it’s admittedly one of the prettiest.”

“I still can’t believe how it followed you like that,” Merlin said wistfully as they watched the unicorn vanish into the forest. It wasn’t often he got to enjoy the nicer side of magic.

Gwaine wrapped a friendly arm around his shoulders as he steered them back in the direction of their camp. “Wild magic creatures always did seem to like me,” he explained cheerfully. “Remind me to tell you about this fantastic green dog I encountered one time.”

Merlin shook his head at Gwaine’s careless attitude but saw no reason to disagree; he’d liked Gwaine from nearly the moment he’d met him, after all.

Fin


End Note: Gwaine’s “green dog” was a cu sith. Apparently he’s wandered as far as the Scottish highlands. As to why the cu sith didn’t drag him off or kill him? It would seem that magical creatures really do like him.

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