A/N: Hello! This is my first fanfic so please be nice. Constructive criticism is appreciated, I am here to become a better writer after all. Comments would make me ridiculously happy so please. Comment if you liked it, or hated it, I'm not picky. This has been in my head forever and I finally decided to write it in one sitting so if it's similar to anyone else's work, I apologize, it was not meant to be.
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin BBC or the Harry Potter series. They belong to their respective owners and I do not profit from this whatsoever.
Moonlight streamed through the windows with an almost frightening intensity, and yet Dumbledore was content amid the whirring and clicking of his various doo-hickiesand thing-a-mabobs. Fawkes ruffled his dulling feathers as he slept, and papers seemingly shuffled themselves across the desk as signatures were absently scribbled and equally absent thoughts were pondered. As the last page was set aside, Albus Dumbledore stood and strolled towards the window and surveyed the night soaked grounds of Hogwarts, considering the unnatural but not unwelcome peace that had settled over the wizarding community. Almost immediately such thoughts were driven from his mind however, as something out of place caught his eye- a form standing so still it almost slipped his notice. This statuesque individual didn't so much as twitch, and though Albus adjusted his half-moon spectacles on his nose, even his eagle-like vision could not distinguish anything about this individual other than a human-like shape. Considering it his duty to not only investigate suspicious activity on the grounds of Hogwarts but possibly dispose of it, he at once set out towards the lake, curiosity and the desperate hope clinging to his mind that perhaps just this once, these strange happenings had nothing to do with one Harry Potter.
Dumbledore's steps across the trimmed grass were silent, as only his could be, and still, as he drew ever closer, the person did not move. From a closer distance, he was able to tell that the individual was male, of slight build and average height, wearing a grayish-blue cloak. With an outward calm that betrayed his inner curiosity and trepidation, Dumbledore approached the stranger's side, not looking at his face, but looking out over the lake, and stood silently for a brief moment. The stranger did not seem surprised, or afraid, or hostile. He simply stared out over the lake, a content expression on his face as if was waiting for an important appointment, and yet he had all the time in the world in which to do so. Neither did he acknowledge Dumbledore's presence. Upon closer inspection, Dumbledore could see that the stranger was young, maybe only a few years older than his oldest students, and had dark hair contrasting a pale complexion. Dumbledore could see no wand, and no threat either for that matter, as the stranger had his hands clasped in front of him. Deciding to initiate the conversation, Albus said what anyone would say when confronted with an unknown stranger trespassing in a place he should have no place being. He said hello.
"It certainly is a beautiful night for a stroll. I often find myself doing my best thinking on nights such as these."
The young man did not turn towards Dumbledore but responded nonetheless with a smile only slightly widened from his previous, impartial expression.
"Indeed it is." He turned his head up towards the moon, gave a small smile, and resumed his original position. A few moments passed like this, both individuals staring over the shimmering darkness of the lake that rivaled the stars above, thinking their own thoughts regarding the person next to them, and maybe a few others too. Dumbledore was still wary of the stranger, but there was a certain quality about him that put Albus at ease, and he seemed harmless with his small smiles and unblinking stares. Not to mention the absence of any weapon or malintent. So, he resigned himself to silence with his new companion and enjoyed the cool midnight breeze, the illuminating moonlight, the sloshing of the giant squid as he approached the surface. That is until the stranger spoke with a light sigh.
"I suppose you're wondering what I'm doing here." He said smiling, glancing over at Dumbledore for the first time. Dumbledore likewise looked over at him, and saw with surprise blue eyes similar to his own, but far older both in age and wisdom.
"The question has crossed my mind." He said simply. "I am content to begin with a simple introduction, however. I am Albus Dum-"
"Albus Dumbledore, yes. I've been keeping up with you for quite some time now." The stranger paused and turned fully towards Dumbledore, an apologetic look on his face.
"Oh, please forgive me, I didn't mean to interrupt, it's just that I haven't had much practice with human interaction in a very long time… my manners are quite dreadful at the moment I'm afraid." He paused again, but before Dumbledore could respond, he continued. "Well, if you asked Arthur they were always dreadful, but of course he's not here right now, so he can't make me look bad." The young man's eyes sparkled and he had on a grin that took up his whole face, lighting it up in the process. It didn't last long though, and soon sadness overcame him as he swallowed audibly and looked down.
"It's quite alright," Dumbledore said smiling, "I don't think I caught your name though." He added politely.
"Yes, your name. I seem to be at a disadvantage in our relationship."
"Oh well, see… I don't know if you're ready for that Dumbledore."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Well, I'm sorry, that's not right. If there's anyone I could trust with my name, it's you, the greatest wizard of the century and all that." The stranger smiled, almost as if he knew he does. "I suppose it would be alright… It's very nice to finally meet you Dumbledore, my name is Merlin." He stuck out his hand and beamed at the bespectacled man, only a twitch of his lips and slightly shuffling feet betraying his nervousness. Dumbledore, despite his shock, oddly enough felt no disbelief, and did the only thing he could think of. He shook Merlin's hand.
Apparently, the real Merlin was barely more than a boy (no long white beard in sight), he enjoyed midnight strolls by the lake, he has been alive for centuries, and most importantly, apparently, he was waiting for someone.
"He'll be here soon, I know it." He said, grinning at Dumbledore. "I can feel it. I just have to wait for him, he'll come. I know he'll come." Dumbledore was quick to assure Merlin that of course, his friend would come, after all, despite his own assurances Merlin himself had a quiver of doubt in his voice, and Albus didn't blame him. A few centuries was a long time to wait. For over an hour more they talked. They talked about everything from their chocolate frog collections (both always looked out especially for the ones of themselves) to the most obscure of ancient forms of magic. At one point, Merlin offered proof of his identity, and when Dumbledore readily (but politely) agreed, he witnessed the golden glow of Merlin's eyes as ancient phrases were mumbled and sparks flew from his fingers and formed a dragon that circled the air and brought a glimmer of nostalgia to the warlock's eyes. Their discussion was thoughtful and interesting, but the two steadily avoided deeper topics, instead enjoying a light, companionate conversation. As the moon sunk faster and faster towards the horizon, Dumbledore decided it was time to take his leave.
"I have enjoyed our discussion immensely Merlin, but I'm afraid I must be going. I will inform the staff that you are no threat, and I will, of course, leave out your name unless you decide to tell them yourself."
"I appreciate that Dumbledore, really, thank you," Merlin responded.
"No Merlin, thank you. I could have never hoped to meet a fascinating individual such as yourself this late in my life. I look forward to speaking with you more if you wouldn't mind the company."
"I would welcome the company Dumbledore. Good night." Merlin said with a smile. He felt, for the first time in what seemed like forever, a glimmer of hope. He supposed in the midst of waiting for one friend, he made another.
As dawn came, so did the rumors. Despite most of them being in classes indoors all day, the few brave students that ventured outside for Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class soon spread the word that there was a stranger at Hogwarts, and no-one seemed to know who he was or what he was doing there. When asked, the professors assured their students that the odd young man was harmless, but received no further explanations. All they knew was that he never seemed to stray from his post at the lake and that the giant squid was disproportionately friendly to him. As his presence grew more common, quite a few students ventured up to him to make funny faces and tell jokes, apparently equating his motionless stature to a Buckingham palace guard. Merlin was endlessly amused by this, but remained resolutely expressionless until a second year Hufflepuff came up to him and asked what you call a fish with no eyes…(a fsshhhh was the answer) and Merlin burst out laughing, causing the Hufflepuff and everyone in the immediate vicinity to run away in shock and fright.
Soon afterward, he noticed three Gryffindor's huddled by a tree, speaking in hushed, hurried tones, glancing over at him occasionally. After a moment, they walked up to him, and did what no other student had done yet, they said hello.
"Good morning." Said a bushy-haired brunette girl. Her voice was courteous but layered with suspicion. Deciding to reward their boldness, Merlin responded, smiling and squinting up at the sun.
"Indeed it is."
"We were just wondering-" A pointed cough interrupted the girl.
"Fine!" She mumbled to the two boys behind her. "I was wondering, what exactly are you waiting for? I mean, you are waiting for something aren't you?"
Merlin smiled again and broke his unwavering stare to glance at the trio. Hermione decided his twinkling blue eyes and curious expression were interestingly reminiscent of Dumbledore.
"I am waiting for a friend."
"You're waiting for a friend? I hate to break it to you mate, but the only thing in that lake is the giant squid, and he's not very friendly." Said the red-haired boy. Merlin guessed he was the same one who had coughed.
"Don't be thick Ron, I'm sure the lake is just the meeting spot for him and his friend." Said the other boy, this one with black hair and glasses.
"No, Ron's right. He'll be coming from the lake." Merlin answered pleasantly, almost enjoying their confusion. Confused but determined, Hermione asked,
"Who is your friend then?"
"He's a clot-pole," said Merlin matter-of-factly, "but his name is Arthur. He is the biggest prat you'll ever meet, and he's bossy, and annoying, and he yells at me a lot, but I really would like to have him back. I've been waiting for quite a while now, you see."
At this, Hermione furrowed her brow and mumbled under her breath, until she suddenly gasped and muttered something about the library before running off toward the castle.
"I suppose we should go after her," muttered Ron, turning to follow Hermione. The other boy moved to follow Ron, and then seemingly as an after-thought, turned back to Merlin and said,
"Good luck with your friend."
"Thank you, and you with yours." He answered smiling in Ron's direction, who was muttering darkly about too many hours in the dusty library, and they could be playing Gobstones right now…
Many more days passed, and still, there was no sign of Arthur. Merlin waited patiently, after all, he'd had centuries of practice, but even he admitted he was getting restless. Dumbledore helped pass the nights though, and as their midnight chats increased, they began to speak of more personal topics. Merlin told Dumbledore stories of Camelot, Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table while Dumbledore told Merlin of his travels and his thoughts on defeating Lord Voldemort once and for all. Merlin expressed his regret that he hadn't been much help in the matter, but the fates simply wouldn't let him interfere on such a large scale. At least not yet.
As he maintained his unwavering position Merlin grew weary. He hadn't needed to eat or sleep in years, but now his eyelids grew heavy and his legs began to shake. His eyes burned from his unblinking gaze, and he felt tears in his eyes when still, he could see nothing but water. With a shuddering sigh, he sank to the ground, folded his arms onto his knees and put his head down, and for the first time in centuries, he began to doubt. The students milling around on the grounds after dinner observed this change in the stranger and grew silent. After a moment, a Gryffindor threw a small rock at him, and Merlin almost laughed. Almost. It was something Arthur would do… No,it was something Arthur had done. Merlin was lost in his thoughts until he noticed the students had started chattering again. Deciding they must have gotten tired of watching him, his head remained in his hands. It wasn't until they started yelling, clamoring, and he could hear them getting closer, gathering around the river that he rubbed his eyes and dared to hope, dared to look up. His heart swelled as he stood and saw that the lake was bubbling and swirling and a small whirlpool grew closer and closer to shore. Soon, about thirty feet away it stopped, and Merlin caught a glimpse of blond hair and he felt like crying right then and there. He let out a shaky laugh and his eyes filled with tears, this time of pure, unadulterated joy as he watched his best friend, his brother in all but blood, wade towards him in his clunky armor, a cocky grin on his face. Merlin stood as still as when he waited all those days, unable to move for shock although he wanted nothing more. It was Arthur, annoying, pushy, turnip-headed Arthur who trusted him and protected him and became a great man (with a little help). He was alone for centuries, waiting, lonely, so alone, and now his other half was finally back, Arthur was back! Arthur, the man himself, maintained a fond grin as if to say "Merlin, you idiot" like he had a thousand times before, about a thousand years ago. A second later and Merlin could take it no longer, he snapped out of his shock and splashed through the last few feet of water, grabbing Arthur in an embrace he had no intention of breaking anytime soon.
"Took you long enough, clot-pole," Merlin muttered into Arthur's shoulder. The armor was hard and uncomfortable but Merlin didn't care, because Arthur was hugging him back just as hard, if not harder.
"I was dead Merlin, of course it took me a while, you idiot." Merlin sniffed, and Arthur squeezed his eyes shut refusing to shed a tear.
"Honestly Merlin, are you crying? You are such a girl's petticoat."
"Of course not," Merlin replied defensively. "Your armor's just really hard and it's hurting my ribs."
"Oh I see, your delicate little bones are sore, my sincerest apologies."
"Shut up." At that Merlin let out half a sob, Arthur sniffed suspiciously, and they both smiled, the happiest they'd been in centuries.
They sat at the high table, side by side, laughing and nudging each other to point out the weird food and the funny hats, and Merlin is that one a giant?! Merlin still looked as if he might start crying of happiness at any moment, and if Arthur looked a little misty, well, no one would say anything. Well, except Merlin of course.
A/N: Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed! Also, if anyone has an idea for a new title, I'd love to hear it. I'm not completely satisfied with this one.