Coming of Age

By Shahrezad1

Summary: Merida has finally been allowed to come with her father for a trading trip now that she's of age. But when the sale regarding one of Angus's progeny stirs up an old acquaintance, Merida isn't quite sure how to react. MeridaXMacGuffin

Disclaimer: It's not my fate to own Brave. -rimshot- ;D


Merida stretched upon her stool as she swept the stiff brush along the flank of the large mare, trying to get round the barrel of the filly's chest. It was with pride that she committed herself to what others might consider 'menial work,' humming along as she did so. For if Merida was terrible with decorum (always had been, always would be. Her mother had even given in to the notion a year or two hence), it was made up for in the love she freely gave. And there could be no better recipient than Marjorie, in her opinion.

It had been a hard birthing for Mercy. But with a combination of her sire and dam's best qualities, Marjorie had been worth it. Her father, the Princess's own Angus, had given her his inky black mane and solid physique. From her dam, Mercy, she got her russet tones. But it was Mercy's good-natured personality and Angus's intelligence which really set the horse apart

The mare truly was a sight to see and it would be a real sorrow parting with her. But that was the purpose of Merida and her Da's travels—to trade the fair equine for a decent price. It was to be her first task as a diplomat and trader, willing to barter for something both parties were happy to accept. The only problem she'd found was that she couldn't seem to find an owner worthy of her merry lady.

This one was too cruel, that one too cold. One wasn't willing to part with the coin or barter worthy of her. One by one she'd sent them off, a young lass with a head full of ginger hair and wearing a tartan thrown over her shoulder like a lad, never mind the sturdy dress she'd been forced into for the journey. Telling them she'd contact them in a day or two only to pass on a message that she wasn't selling. True, she'd angered a few, but most only chuckled at her seller's confidence. Making note should they cross paths again that the daughter of Fergus wouldn't be swindled or ignored.

It was rather ironic that her stubbornness was responsible for the respect she'd garnered in the older Scotsmen. She supposed that was one way to go about it; a different way than her Mum's, perhaps, but if she was next in line to rule then she'd have to make her own path. Even if it took her down directions she hadn't anticipated.

Smiling slightly at the thought, however difficult it may end up being, Merida continued her ministrations with renewed vigor and cheer. Simultaneously the door of the market stable creaked with the presence of a new visitor. Her vivid brows jumped with slight surprise at the intrusion. She tended to visit her horses well before the other stable hands did, and buyers usually didn't come about till midday after they'd slept good and long and lazily.

"Guid morning," Merida stated clearly as she continued to brush the filly down. She'd pull out the curie comb later, when no one was about.

"Ay, is't," a soothing voice said from behind her. Merida smiled as she turned, then nearly fell from her bench as her eyes fell on an unexpected sight.

Cornflower hair tied back in a braid, a full beard and eyes that were soft and wise and gentle. He was large like her father with a gently squared jaw and a quietly confident manner. She'd seen menfolk more handsome than he and more striking in character, eager to impress the young heiress, but there was something about him that stopped her short. And made her heart flutter, just a wee bit.

"Ay ay, Princess. Fit, like?" the rumble of words came out deliberately smooth and slow, as though in an effort at understandability, and it took her a moment to recognize the tones and connect them with the figure.

"Young MacGuffin?" she said in incredulity, squinting at the man before her and comparing it to the lad she'd known years before. Her hand fell from Marjorie's flank, brush still in its grip, but the mare continued munching on at the oats Merida had proffered.

He smiled slightly at the recognition, and whatever uncertainty had been lingering before disappeared entirely, "a bairn nae longer. A hae bin a min fer a taime now."

The ginger-haired girl's squint turned into a blink as she tried to process that, and as she opened her mouth to ask for clarification he waved a loose hand.

"Nae matter. Foo's yirsel?" at her second round o' blinks he swiftly corrected himself, "Hou ar ye?"

"I'm…I'm fine," she responded distantly, leaning slightly against her horse as she fought off a slight dizzy spell. Thinking distantly about her safety, she wondered if perhaps she should get off the wooden stool, "an' ye?"

"Nae bad," moments passed as the two of them merely looked at one another. Merida blushed when she realized that they'd stood in silence, simply staring, for minutes at a time.

"It's good tae see ye, MacGuffin, but what can I do ye fer?" she returned to brushing the large beast, trying to be nonchalant about it as he took a relaxed stance, hands clasped together.

"I've come tae leuk a' the quine," he paused, "the lass."

"The…lass?" her brain seemed a foggy swamp as her mind jumped to the thought that she was the only lass about. A fierce blush made its way up her freckled cheeks and the twenty-year old vainly wished that she had forgotten to braid her sunset curls back from her face. Because a built-in veil would come in handy right about now.

The lad—no, the man, blinked once or twice and his brows seemed to jump a tad. And then the eyes of MacGuffin's eldest seemed to shift a moment as though he'd seen something he hadn't quite expected. But the man's expression remained relatively neutral. Then he waved a hand at the horse.

"Oh," Merida echoed quietly, mortification washing over her, "yer here fer Marjorie, then?"

Her face was aflame as though on fire, and Merida fiercely tried to tamp down on her thoughts. But they only seemed to flutter away, like so many birds. Standing across from her Young MacGuffin's small smile seemed to twitch a little wider as though he knew something she didn't. The girl grasped at the horse's saddle but stumbled instead, fumbling a few seconds until she once again regained her balance.

Honestly, what was wrong with her?

The lad respectfully acted as though nothing had occurred, standing a respectful distance away.

"Aye. Me Da n' Laird Fergus were haivering mibbe A micht faind wot Aim leukin' fer. I was tol' tae speir tae ye."

The young woman attempted to translate this slower sentence and found that she could—with some effort. It amounted to his Da and her Da talking and the two suggesting that he come to her for help with what he was looking for. Of course, the statement could be taken many ways, but considering her previous embarrassment she decided to focus on the most obvious one. That of a barter or sale, "and what are ye looking fer?"

It was his turn to be embarrassed a moment, clenching his hands as though resisting the urge to rub the back of his neck, and if she peered carefully she could almost see the words die on his lips before they could even be born. But the lad was too honest not to answer such a straightforward question, "me stallion, Day Star, hae passed on. A cannae fain a craitur…lairge enou' fer me."

He motioned toward his general height and breadth to emphasize his statement, but all the girl could do was blush. Which was followed by a second, more mortified expression as he responded with open-mouthed surprise. Yes, she had noticed his general stature. It was hard not to notice how much he'd grown into his youthful build. She'd wager that he was even taller than his father, actually.

The blonde warrior seemed a tad pleased for some reason as he only absently finished the rest of his statement, open hands dropping,"…an' A hae bin searchin' fer a filie."

"Fer a…filly?" she frowned determinedly, ignoring her coloring.

The Scotsman sighed, "filie means…Fer a lang taime."

For a long time. Her mouth rounding out into an 'o' of understanding, the Princess nodded as her thoughts turned over to business. It really was sad that his horse had died, she wasn't sure she would be able to handle it if Angus did the same, and she could understand the frustration of not being able to find a steed to fit his specific…requirements.

"Well, Marjorie here is rather large, so she should help ye there," the girl said thoughtfully, "an' she's strong, so she should be able to bear whate'er burdens you'd like o' her, including bags fer a long journey. She's mild an' sweet an' keeps her head when there's danger," her sales pitch abruptly turned defensive as she turned on him, however, jabbing a finger the lad's way until they were nearly toe to toe, "but she wilnae put up with unkindness, ye ken?"

MacGuffin seemed almost surprised that she even had to mention this, but he nodded anyway at her pointed stare. Only then did she firmly set aside her tools for the sake of demonstrating the mare's beauty.

"I'll show ye how she settles. Give me a moment."

The young warrior nodded and moved back from the open stall so that she could have room. Then Merida used the wooden bench as a mounting block in order to climb up on the mammoth of a horse, and despite their relative dissimilarities in size she was quite proud of the grace she portrayed. If there was one thing she was good at (asides from archery) it was her abilities on a horse.

MacGuffin eyed her position atop the steed with little thought for the girl herself and more for the animal's stance. It barely moved under her insignificant weight, but there was the slightest shift as Majorie took into account that there was, in fact, a human being upon her back, "an' hau much weight can the lassie humf?

Merida blinked.


"She's carried me Da into battle afore an' is strong enough to pull a wagon."

"Hmm," he hummed noncommittally. She could tell that he wanted to check the horse's limbs and hooves for wear but resisted the urge to do so while she was atop it. So instead the young man blinked and nodded as though impressed, stroking his beard slightly in thought. He hadn't a mustache yet, only whiskers on top, but she felt that she liked what he currently had best. To add any more would make it difficult to read his lips.

She turned her eyes heavenward, hoping that he hadn't seen that flush. But it was vain hope, as she caught the tiniest bit of a smirk in her peripheral vision.

Her embarrassment was quickly forgotten as the horse abruptly jerked forward, Marjorie's face burrowing into his shoulder. He seemed as surprised as Merida was but held his own as the mare rammed forward into him like an eager puppy, his large hands falling to her mane so that their fingers just barely brushed. Heat zinged along her senses but the redhead ignored it as she tried to reign her horse in, having never seen that reaction before with anyone other than herself. She was just as surprised by the fact that he had remained unmoved in the wake of what might be considered an equine "nudge"—Marjorie had toppled many a woman and man, so the fact that he'd had the strength for it was a tribute to him.

"I'm so sorry, MacGuffin, I dinnae ken what's come over her. Majorie, stop that!"

He just chuckled slightly, "it's braw. Tae wee cuddie ken wot she's leukin' fer," with a gentle tug he removed a piece of candied rhubarb from his sporran pouch and offered it up. The horse munched the thing almost before Merida could register its presence, then proceeded to huff its nose along him as though searching for more. The redhead, however, could only stare in bewilderment.

"How did you ken that she likes…?"

"Rhubarb?" he shrugged, eyes distractedly on the ruddy beast, "A hae nae idea. But we lairge beasties tend tae loik gulsochs. Sweet things."

Seeming to realize what he'd said, the lad blinked a bit at the horse, then at her. Then colored himself, for once. He made no other move to hide his response, however, his light blue eyes clear on Merida's for a moment before looking away and coughing.

Merida was sure that her face resembled her hair and in her distraction she slid off on the side not possessing a mounting block. Just as she came to that realization, instinct sweeping her hand out to clutch at the pommel in an attempt not to fall, she came to a stop. Heat seared her through the layers of her dress, shift and tartan as her fingers instinctively flew out to grasp the steadying force. Which of course landed them on the warrior's shoulders, his large rough-hewn palms round her waist.

Wrapped entirely around her waist, with digits large enough that they brushed the swell of her hip. They were eye to eye, nearly nose to nose, and she could feel his breath upon her cheeks.

He was awfully tall for a lad around her age, she thought to herself in a kind of sensory overload, tightening her grip on his shoulders. Then in a display worthy of the forest in Autumn continued her spate of fiery blushes as she realized that she was clinging to solid muscle. He, much like his Da, would never completely lose his inherent roundness, of course, but he was every bit the warrior that their fathers were.

And now the two of them were very, so very close.

"Ah, um, thank ye," she murmured, ducking her head, and the spell was broken. MacGuffin slowly lowered her to the ground so that she was face-to-chest against him. But that just increased the force of his presence.

"Ye're welcome," he rumbled deeply and she fought off the urge to bite her lip, absently clenching her fists. Next to them Marjorie had turned to the side, losing interest now that the sweet was gone, but the large blonde patted the mare in a kind of absentminded affection. Which settled things for the Princess.

"Um, so hae much wuld ye want fer the-."

"You can have her."

He blinked, "A'm not sure iffen-."

"As a gift," she hurried to add, which only seemed to startle him more. She began rambling in an effort to explain, "because she needs some'on that really cares tae have her, and I ken that if anyone should have her it should be ye."

MacGuffin's broad hands gently rested on her shoulders, rubbing the tense muscles there in an subconscious effort at calming her flighty response, "Merida," he said earnestly, bending to look her in the eye as he did his best to portray seriousness, "A cannae hae her fer nuthin'. The other lairds'll be bealin."

She frowned up at him, confused.

He breathed a sigh through his nose, "the lairds…ye dinnae want to offend 'em. Don' blether on so; doin' sae is dangerous."

The sensible explanation settled her slightly and she sighed as well, bobbing out her assent, "you're right. But it'll be my Da that chooses the price, ye ken?"

He smiled, their forms still connected, "I ken."

The silent contentment of a deal well struck hovered between them. But as moments became minutes the princess noted that his hands weren't moving from her shoulders any time soon, and she had no desire to move at all. Especially with as fine a view of his eyes as she had. But just as the smile slipped from their faces and the gap between them seemed to draw smaller Marjorie let out a whinny, startling both.

Shaking herself from her stupor, the girl immediately went to her—nay, his horse. MacGuffin seemed to shake himself awake as well and again took up a respectful distance, hands clasped before him. But not leaving before he could say one last thing.

"Afore I gae…" he seemed to hesitate a moment, "A'm Doyle. 'MacGuffin's me Da, so..." she nodded in understanding. It was better to call him by his first name than by his clan—because that's what his father went by, not him.

He swallowed and forged onward, "Ye should come see tae the hous some'in. We'll hae a newse. A chat. An' A'd bring her by tae see the sire tae the lassie."

"You…you'd let me visit her? Let Angus visit, I mean. Really?" She swallowed harshly over the beat of her own pulse. His response was a small smile, "well…I look forward tae that, Doyle."

Doyle nodded once, smiling slightly, then bowed his way out. She could only blink at Marjorie's form, hand on her reins, and didn't even notice when King Fergus ambled his way in.

"Was that the Young MacGuffin?"

Merida started at the question, then sighed in relief when she realized that it was only her Da, "ah, aye. He's purchased Marjorie. He'll be by later to…chat about the price."

This made her father's brows shoot upward in surprise, and he took on a shocked expression as he looked her over with hands on hips, "ach, now, Weren't you the one that said there wasn'a a man worthy of selling her tae? What changed yer mind?"

She didn't answer for a moment, working as she was at throwing a couple of handfuls of fresh straw into the stall, "Doyle said he'd let her visit."

"Did he now?"her father remarked archly, eyes widening, "and did Doyle saying anythin' else?"

Merida could feel that traitorous flush make its way back into her presence and desperately she interposed the view of her father with the view of the mare, "nay, nothing'…important."

"If ye say so, me dear."


AN: Check out the canon concept sketches for Young MacGuffin if you want to know what he currently looks like with his beard. :) Also, as a random piece of info, Pixar originally was intending for Young MacGuffin to be the man of choice before ultimately deciding to keep Merida single. Kevin McKidd mentions it in an interview.

I know next to nothing about horses and even less about trade markets and selling animals (other than what I observed at the State Fair in my home town, a citified agricultural center). So bear with me if anything seems off. ^^; Usually I'm better at research, but I was having a hard enough time trying to figure out MacGuffin's dialogue. Most of it is created with research, some if it is ad-libbed for the sake of creating actual working sentences. XD

And now…Translation Time! :D

Ay is't - reply to the greeting fine morning

Ay ay, fit like? (Whit like) - A greeting, essentially, "Hello, how are you doing?"

A bairn nae longer. I hae bin a min fer a taime now. - A child no longer. I have been a man for a time now.

Nae matter. Foo's yirsel?—No Matter, and yourself?

Nae bad—not bad.

I've come tae leuk a' the quine—I've come to look at the young woman (I chose to use this as the word "filly" doesn't work).

Aye. Me Da n' Laird Fergus were haivering mibbe A micht faind wot Aim leukin' fer. I was tol' tae speir tae ye—Yes. My father and Lord Fergus were talking/saying/chatting/gossiping (that) maybe I might find what I'm looking for. I was told to speak to/ask you.

Me stallion, Day Star, hae passed on. A cannae fain a craitur…lairge enou' fer me—My stallion, Day Star, has passed on. I cannot find a creature…large enough for me.

an' A hae bin searchin' fer a filie—And I have been searching for a long time/while.

Filie means…Fer a lang taime—Filie means…for a long time.

An' hau much weight can the lassie humf?—And how much weight can the lassie carry?

It's braw. Tae wee cuddie ken wot she's leukin' fer—It's fine/handsome. The small donkey/horse knows what she's looking for.

A hae nae idea. But we lairge beasties tend tae loik gulsochs—I have no idea. But we large beasts tend to like sweets (sweets, cream cakes, doughnuts, caramels etc).

Um, so hae much wuld ye want fer the—Um, so how much would you want for the-

A'm not sure iffen—I'm not sure if-

A cannae hae her fer nuthin'. The other lairds'll be bealin—I cannot have her for nothing. The other lords will be (very) angry.

The lairds…ye dinnae want to offend 'em. Don' blether on so; doin' sae is dangerous—The lords…you don't want to offend them. Don't talk nonsense; doing so is dangerous.

A'm Doyle. 'MacGuffin's me Da, so...—I'm Doyle. 'MacGuffin's my dad/father, so…

Ye should come see tae the hous some'in. We'll hae a newse. A chat. An' A'd bring her by tae see the sire tae the lassie.—You should come to see the house sometime. We'll have a talk. A chat. And I'd bring her by to see the sire to the lassie (to let father and daughter visit).