sam_storyteller: (Blue Moon Coffee)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2011-01-12 09:30 am
Entry tags:

Harry Of The Caves

Title: Harry Of The Caves
Rating: PG
Warnings: None.
Summary: Merlin doesn't trust this new tournament knight at all. He probably has good reason.
BETA CREDIT, JESUS: It's like [personal profile] girlpearl and [ profile] misswinterhill are telepathically linked.
Notes: Part of my "Under 1000" challenge. This clocks at around 1400, actually, but it's the spirit of the thing; I'm not going to go butchering a perfectly good story just to cram it into a thousand words. The goal is to get in a good writing headspace by setting a rule, not to apply the rule ruthlessly to what is already produced.

Also available at AO3.


Tournament time was always a brilliant time in Camelot. The innkeepers did a brisk business, as did the food-stall merchants and the trinket sellers. The women dressed gaily, the men strutted, and it seemed like the entire kingdom poured into the Citadel. Merlin enjoyed tournaments, when nobody was trying to magic anyone else to death. Above all else, it meant he got to watch Arthur fight, and there was nothing in the world like watching Arthur fight.

The servants of both the Citadel knights and the newcomers scurried and ran, never resting; Merlin ran among them, watching the knights fight and advising Arthur of their weaknesses. All the servants did it; it was part of the game. The other knights would know that Arthur had taken an injury in his left thigh, long healed now, but the nerves had been damaged by poison and from hip to knee the outside of his thigh would not feel a cut or a blow. Merlin, in turn, knew that this warrior favoured his left shoulder, or that one his ribs.

There was something off about one of the new men, though.

"He has a good build on him," Arthur said, watching two knights in the practice ring. "What's his name, again?"

"He calls himself Harry of the Caves," Merlin answered, fitting Arthur's breastplate-strap under his right arm.

"I didn't realise caves were kingdoms now," Arthur remarked. "Still, he fights like royalty. Merlin, that's too tight."

"Sorry, sorry," Merlin said, loosening the strap. "You don't think he...looks sort of strange?"

Arthur turned back to the practice field, considering. Harry of the Caves was a tall, lean man, but somehow out of proportion -- slim-legged but with thickly muscled thighs, and his shoulders were too broad, arms too heavily built for his small wrists and delicate hands. He had a long neck and tended to lead with his head, which itself was strange -- thin and pointed, with a narrow nose and close-set eyes. His short hair was prematurely grey, and stood up in untidy spikes all over his head.

"Well, you know the country kingdoms," Arthur said.

"What do you mean?" Merlin asked.

"You know, they..." Arthur gestured.

"Nope, not following, sorry."

"They tend to marry their own cousins a lot," Arthur said.

"Ohh," Merlin replied. "Eugh."

Merlin watched this new knight carefully, after that, because he was obviously a contender and Merlin should be able to advise Arthur in how to fight him. Harry won every battle the first day, and even Merlin couldn't spot any particular weaknesses, unless it was a tendency to lean forward on the balls of his feet, head thrust out, like he was used to a counterweight on his back. Perhaps some kind of heavy armour?

When the fighting was done for the day, with the final champions to be decided tomorrow, Merlin crept away from Arthur's pavilion. He only meant to see if this new knight with no squire needed any assistance, but the clank of chain mail told him the knight was handling it himself. Merlin peered through a gap in the cloth of his pavilion, breath soft, very still.

He saw this Harry unbuckle his belt and stiffly ease his tunic over his head. He wore padding under the tunic, and he shrugged that off as well, unbuckling the straps that held it in place. That gone, he stretched, and the muscles in his back rippled. Merlin stared. Tattooed on the man's back were a pair of bony wings, running from his shoulder down under his trousers; they looked like they'd extend all the way to his thighs.

And, when the knight let out a long, growling sigh of relief, they glowed.

Which was when it all came together, and Merlin stepped into the pavilion, crossing his arms.

"Kilgarrah," he said, and the knight turned. His eyes were glowing too.

"Young warlock," Kilgarrah replied. He arched his neck a little. "I was wondering how long it would take you."

"What are you doing here?" Merlin hissed. "How did you even -- "

"You're not well-read on the company you keep," Kilgarrah replied, tipping his head from side to side, neck cracking loudly. "Dragons have many powers mortal men may not understand."

"Do you want to get yourself chained up again?" Merlin asked. "You can't just stroll into Camelot!"

"Well, I did," Kilgarrah replied. "These human bodies are very frail, but they do the job, I suppose."

"If Uther finds out -- "

"Who's going to tell him? You? Come, Merlin," Kilgarrah said, and the condescension in his voice was at least twice as annoying coming from a human mouth as it had been coming from a dragon's. "Don't be angry. Uther will never know."

"If you've come to kill him, I'll stop you," Merlin warned.

"I fail to see why you continue to remain loyal to a man who would have you killed without a second thought," Kilgarrah said. "But I'm not here to kill your precious Uther. His teeth have already been pulled, I think."

"Then why?" Merlin demanded.

Kilgarrah laughed, the same low, snorting laugh he'd had as a dragon. "Isn't it obvious?" he asked, stepping forward until he and Merlin were barely inches apart. "I came to see you, young warlock."

Merlin stared, dumbfounded. "Me."

"Why shouldn't I come to see you, if it pleases me? Besides, it has been too long since I walked on human legs."

"You're making a bad job of it," Merlin told him.

"Am I, now?" Kilgarrah said, and touched Merlin's jaw with a single finger, running it down his throat. He could feel the threat of claws under the warm pad of Kilgarrah's fingertip. "Perhaps I need lessons."

Merlin swallowed against his touch. Kilgarrah's smile was full of slightly-too-sharp teeth.

"Mind you, I'll win the tournament," he said, stepping back and letting his hand fall. "Which reminds me, I shall need a good-luck charm."

"Not the way you fight," Merlin said, and then wanted to slap a hand to his forehead. Kilgarrah turned away to pick up his sword, but he cast another sharp smile over his shoulder.

"May I have a kiss?" Kilgarrah asked, turning back to him.

"I don't think it's right," Merlin said. "Kissing a dragon and all. That can't be hygienic. Who knows where you've been?"

"Just one, for luck," Kilgarrah insisted, in that convincing tone he always used when he was forcing Merlin to a decision he didn't want to make. "Come, you can afford a warrior such a small token. Or are you saving yours for Arthur? Or maybe pretty Gwai -- "

Merlin, stung, leaned forward and planted a kiss on Kilgarrah's lips before he could finish. For once, he had the pleasure of seeing the dragon shocked; when he leaned back, Kilgarrah's eyes flew wide, and he touched his hand to his lips.

"Human bodies are so strange," he said. "Well, will you wish me luck on the morrow?"

"Good luck," Merlin said stiffly.

"Thank you. I promise not to humiliate your future king," Kilgarrah said with a smile. "You may go."

Merlin narrowed his eyes. "That's all you wanted?"

"Indeed. Sometimes it is good to remember human weakness," Kilgarrah said. He dipped a hand in a bucket of water nearby and brought some to his lips, sipping calmly from his cupped palm. "I will see you tomorrow, young warlock."

Merlin turned on his heel, confused, and half-ran all the way back to the Citadel proper.

"Any new information on that new knight, Harry whats-his-face?" Arthur asked, over dinner. Merlin poured him out some wine and shook his head.

"Seems pretty ordinary to me," he said. "I'm sure you'll beat him."

"Let's hope so," Arthur answered, grinning up at him. "What's he like?"

"Bit arrogant," Merlin said thoughtfully. "He seems...I dunno. Lonely."

Arthur laughed. "Lonely, eh? Well, I hope he finds someone in Camelot to catch his fancy. Perhaps tomorrow, after the tourney."

"Me too," Merlin murmured. "I suppose we'll see."
lizzledpink: (Default)

[personal profile] lizzledpink 2011-01-12 03:45 pm (UTC)(link)
I have Srs Issues with both the show and the fandom, but I read it for you, Sam. Hooray. Have a biscuit.

The dragon. You took the bloody dragon and made Merlin give him a kiss. How. HOW. <3 And it WORKED. What. How. Brilliant.
valderys: Garfield at a laptop writing slash (Default)

[personal profile] valderys 2011-01-12 04:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooh, I'm not sure I've ever seen Merlin/Kilgarrah before! Although I haven't poked into the deepest recesses of the Kink Meme :) Very well done!
lastscorpion: (Default)

[personal profile] lastscorpion 2011-01-12 05:18 pm (UTC)(link)
I really enjoyed reading this. Dragons that can assume human form are some of my favorites.
lastscorpion: vole (vole)

[personal profile] lastscorpion 2011-01-13 01:32 am (UTC)(link)
It happens in folklore, and also R. A. MacAvoy's Tea With the Black Dragon.
sabra_n: (Default)

[personal profile] sabra_n 2011-01-13 03:40 am (UTC)(link)
I saw it in one of the Dresden Files books, but this is the only other example I've encountered. And it is really fun. Hee. :)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)

[personal profile] niqaeli 2011-01-13 10:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Patricia Briggs' Dragon Bones and its sequel Dragon Blood have dragons that assume human form. Also, I'm incredibly fond of them! They're very good. And slashy. :)
silentstep: the text "Team Hilarity" on a blue background, with sparkles (Default)

[personal profile] silentstep 2011-02-12 06:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Humans in dragon form show up and are awesome in Embers (sequel to one-shot Theft Absolute), which is an Avatar: the Last Airbender fanfic. These dragons have the ability to take human form for either a night, a year and a day, or the lifetime of the human they love, during which time they cannot change back. The fact that their children tend to inherit many of their traits and instincts, and thus have rather a difficult time interacting with ordinary humanity, drives a lot of the plot.

The fic is... polarizing; people seem to either love it or hate it. I for one adore it, because it hits just about every single storytelling kink I have and then some. The worldbuilding and the OCs are some of the best I have encountered anywhere. It's long, though- 427,258 words and counting. Update schedule is, at present, a new chapter every three weeks.
silentstep: the text "Team Hilarity" on a blue background, with sparkles (Default)

[personal profile] silentstep 2011-02-12 06:08 pm (UTC)(link)
silentstep: the text "Team Hilarity" on a blue background, with sparkles (Default)

[personal profile] silentstep 2011-02-12 06:16 pm (UTC)(link)
*facepalm* That should read "dragons in human form." "Dragons in human form." The humans cannot take dragon form.
kitsuneasika: (rikku -- eek thunder!)

[personal profile] kitsuneasika 2011-06-21 02:35 am (UTC)(link)
Jumping into a months old conversation to say this: Dragon's Bait by Vivian Vande Velde has a dragon that can turn into a human. It's what made me obsessed with the concept, actually.

[personal profile] scarlet_bee 2011-01-12 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Of the caves, huh. Being partway through S2 of Merlin I'm hoping that dragons measure time differently from those with a shorter lifespan, because being chained underneath the castle for decades. Well. Lonely in the dark and all that. Obviously I know he gets out - not possible to be getting into a fandom and avoid spoilers - but the series is SO much fun even with them.

[personal profile] scarlet_bee 2011-01-12 05:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Hang on, that was an APPALLING comment. I enjoyed your story! Sweet, a little melancholy, and the idea of Merlin possibly perhaps getting off with a Kilgarrah in human form is Quite Nice.
unusualdemoness: (Tattoo)

[personal profile] unusualdemoness 2011-01-12 08:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I wasn't expecting Merlin/Kilgarrah, but it works. You made it work! I'm slightly in awe of your writing skills now. :)
faevii: (quing arthur)

[personal profile] faevii 2011-01-12 10:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh wow, I wasn't expecting that at all! It was ... confusing, but fun. :D
tardis_stowaway: (tardis & eleven <3)

[personal profile] tardis_stowaway 2011-01-13 04:48 am (UTC)(link)
You just slashed Merlin with the slash dragon! That was strangely awesome.

I giggled several times. I love the fact that Merlin can see that even a dragon that pesters him into a kiss is lonely.
violent_rabbit: credit and love gos to draperyfalls of sf_wishing well (Default)

[personal profile] violent_rabbit 2011-01-13 06:19 am (UTC)(link)

i dont even watch this show and I want more more more. :D

Lonely arrogant dragons courting young mages. this hits every fantasy geek kink I have.
myricarubra: autumn! (Default)

[personal profile] myricarubra 2011-01-16 10:54 am (UTC)(link)
This story made me grin. HELLO, KILGARRAH. :D
last_raindrop: (Default)

[personal profile] last_raindrop 2011-02-17 04:04 am (UTC)(link)
You make my horrible children filled day(I'm an English teacher in South Korea in a kindergarten) a little happy every day with your writing(and yeah, I try to read something every day even if it is just your blog). This totally picked up my mood from the tons of glue that is covering my clothes. ^^ yay, Merlin/Dragon...speaking of which, I SO never though of that I want more...damn you!
lostcloud: (Default)

[personal profile] lostcloud 2011-04-29 11:00 am (UTC)(link)
Geheheheheheh. DRAGONSLASH. Sorta. *g*
enviropony: (Default)

[personal profile] enviropony 2013-01-10 11:07 pm (UTC)(link)
OMG, where has this been hiding? Very cool. I love the idea of Kilgharrah in a human body, wanting a kiss and then being surprised by it. Poor lonely dragon. Poor, confused Merlin.