Now this was supposed to be a chapter in Of Glasses and Tea Bags (don't worry, I'll get back to that story soon!), but since I'm thinking this will be a two-shot or three-shot, I decided it got to be a separate story. Anyway; today is Father's Day in Finland, so I'm celebrating. By posting a fanfic about Balinor (I think this is an excellent way to celebrate Father's day). And with Balinor comes Hunith, because I absolutely adore her and I want more fics about these two adorable beings.
Set somewhere in season 2, because Balinor's alive, Morgana's not evil, and Kilgharrah is still stuck underneath the castle.
There's a woman outside the cave.
Now, this in itself is a very unordinary situation (since women generally don't show up in the middle of nowhere next to his bloody cave), but this isn't just any woman. Balinor feels frozen in place, mouth gaping like a fool, and he's pretty sure he's seconds away from fainting from the shock because lords, he hasn't seen her in…. far too many years.
Her dark hair is escaping the green headscarf, and though said hair has a few strands of grey and her familiar face is carved with new lines, she's as beautiful as he remembers. Balinor places a numb, shaking hand over the hilt of his sword – for comfort, strength or defence, he doesn't know, but he can't seem to grasp the fact that she's here (part of him is already readying him for finding out it's not her, but some sort of shapeshifter or other cruel creature about to suck out his soul).
Her eyes haven't changed; they're still dark and fierce and they're staring straight into his own, and Balinor tries to say something.
"Balinor," she greets, voice warm and kind and god, he'd almost forgotten how much he's missed her. He tries to reply but fumblingly stammers over the very first syllable, and mentally slaps himself. For god's sake, he meets the woman he loves for the first time in twenty years, and he can't even muster up a bloody hello.
"…Hunith?" he finally whispers, voice cracking and for some reason, the only thing he can think of is that he wishes he had trimmed his beard this morning.
"You have no idea how bloody hard it was to get here," she states briskly. "Really, Balinor? A bloody cave?"
"I… didn't really have a list of possible new accommodations," he says faintly.
Hunith smiles softly at him, smoothing out the wrinkled brow, and takes a few slow steps closer, as though approaching a spooked animal. "It's good to see you again," she says, and really, what the hell is he doing in the first place, standing stock still with his hand on his sword hilt? He strides forward and throws his arms around her, bending down to bury his face in her hair (apparently he'd also forgotten how short she was) and relishes in the way her slim arms encircle his waist in turn. He doesn't know how long they stand embracing each other, but he knows he should probably… oh, he doesn't know; ask how she found him, why she searched for him, how she's been, tell her he loves her – or is the love part to soon (too late)? It's been two decades, there's no telling if she's married or not – although, if she was married, why on earth would she run around in the forest searching for a past lover? Balinor gives himself another mental slap. You're a grown man, not a love-struck teenager, for pity's sake, he tells himself. Get a grip.
"Hunith," he starts, stepping out of the embrace while still keeping his hands on her shoulders. "Why – what brings you here? And for that matter, how did you get here?"
Hunith sighs and closes her eyes briefly. "There's not really a way to ease you into this," she mutters and blows a stray away from her face. She stares blankly at something past his shoulder before focusing on Balinor again, and then gives him a positively beaming smile. "Balinor, you have a son."
He blanks out for a while (he may or not have been hyperventilating, but Hunith's kind enough to not mention it), but all in all he thinks he deserves to panic a little. He ends up sitting in moss and leaning against a tree trunk while Hunith crouches before him, patiently talking to him and coaxing him towards a calmer state.
"So," Balinor manages to say as he's calmed down, letting out a slight huff of disbelieving laughter, "I have a son. I'm… I'm a father."
"What's… What's his name?"
She smiles again, and he marvels at the joy filling her eyes at the thought of her – their son. "Merlin. His name is Merlin."
"You named our son after a bird?" Balinor teases and pokes her in the side.
Hunith lightly slaps his hand. "It's a perfectly acceptable name."
"It's a very nice name," he quickly assures her. "I'm sure it fits him."
"It does," she says, suddenly serious again. "It's an odd name for an odd boy."
And just like that, Balinor's world is plunged into ice cold water. Somehow, he managed to completely overlook the fact that oh, right, he's a bloody dragonlord; not only does he now have an heir, but…
"Does he have magic?" Balinor asks lowly, as though the trees themselves could carry the words to the wrong ears. Because of the dragonlord blood in their veins, being gifted with magic is far from uncommon (well, it wasn't uncommon, while dragonlords still were alive). Oh, but he so wishes to spare his son from an existence of fear, but he's afraid he already knows the answer.
"Yes," she replies, and Balinor lets his head thud back against the trunk. "Powerful magic. Balinor, he was born with it; he was moving around things with his mind when he was just a few months old."
Balinor leans forward so fast he almost knocks his head against Hunith's (accidentally giving her a nosebleed would have been a bit awkward, and certainly not a good thing to give the woman you love). "He's a warlock? I haven't met a warlock in… well, they were rare even before the Purge."
"Merlin mentioned something about warlocks in one of his letters, yes."
Balinor stands up, discreetly brushing dirt off his trousers. He waves awkwardly towards the cave. "Do you… we could talk over dinner, if you'd like?"
Really, it's only an excuse to have something to do with his hands, because he hasn't felt this jittery since the first time he'd had to use his dragonlord powers. Plus, he hasn't had company while eating in… on second thoughts, best not to think about that amount of time at all.
The dinner itself is far from impressive (it's not like he was expecting company), but the company more than makes up for it. The food manages to go cold while they're eating because of all the talking; about Balinor's eventless days, Hunith's life, but mostly about Merlin (their son, lords, Balinor can't quite believe it).
Slowly, Balinor starts making a gradual realization. Hunith's mentioned that Merlin's currently living with Gaius, and he'd figured that the old coot would have left Camelot by now, but he can't help but wondering just where Merlin is sending his letters from.
"Hunith," he starts slowly. "Just where does Gaius live?"
Hunith sends him an odd look. "I sure hope the loneliness hasn't made you forget too much. You know very well where Gaius lives."
"You – are you saying they're both in Camelot?"
Balinor abruptly chokes, resulting in an embarrassing, spluttering coughing fit. "Did you send our magical son to Camelot? The same Camelot where magic is punishable by death?"
"I did," Hunith shoots back defensively. "His magic was spinning out of control; it was growing too strong and too fast. He needed help from someone who actually knew something about magic."
"So you sent him to Camelot?" Balinor repeats in disbelief, the fear of her leaving him being the only thing keeping him from yelling.
"Gaius helped you, didn't he?" Hunith replies smoothly. "He wouldn't have turned in Merlin to the king. Merlin… he's learnt so much since he came to Camelot. He's found a purpose."
Balinor twists his hands in his hair, a strange protective urge filling him even though he's never even met the boy. "Bloody hell, Hunith, what were you thinking?"
"I've kept him alive for almost two decades, haven't I? Don't you dare talk down to me on this matter." Her voice is abnormally cold, and Balinor feels panic flutter in his chest as she stands up (is she leaving? Oh please, don't leave him, he'll happily beg on his knees if he has to). "Although, I more than understand your concern," she relents. "Now, to the reason why I came to find you; you and I are going to Camelot."
"I – what?"
"You want to meet your son, don't you?"
"Of course I do, but Hunith… you do realize that I remain a wanted man? As in, leaving the kingdom wasn't enough to remain undetected, and you suggest I just… walk straight into the kingdom that wants me dead?"
"That's the general idea, yes. Besides," she smiles and lightly tugs at his rugged beard, "I highly doubt anyone would recognize you."
Balinor harrumphs even as he feels his resolve wavering. Damn it, twenty years later and the woman still got him wrapped around her little finger. He certainly hopes his son doesn't take after his mother regarding this.
"Good lords, woman, fine. May I ask why I need to come to Camelot? I doubt the reason alone is to meet Merlin, even though he's the main reason."
"Ah. Trust me when I say he's in need of your… guidance. And your advice. And your specific set of skills. Merlin's a good lad, but he gets into the most troublesome situations – I'm afraid his letters are giving me as many grey hairs as he did when I saw him on daily basis…"
She flutters around in the cave as though she lives there, packing up provisions with alarming speed and grace. He blinks dumbly at her as she holds out one of the packs to him.
"Wait, we're leaving now?"
"We could always wait, if you'd like. Do you have any business you need to attend to?"
"Wipe that innocent look off your face, you know very well I don't," Balinor mutters as he hefts the pack onto his back. "I'm ready to go."
"That's lovely, dear," Hunith tells him, giving him a quick peck on the cheek before marching them out of the cave. "It was ridiculously hard to find you, I'm telling you, but now that I have found you I'm eager to get to Camelot."
Speaking of… "How exactly did you find me, then?"
Hunith smiles at him again, and Balinor's heart seems to do a strange happy dance. Wrapped around her finger, indeed.
Merlin will be introduced in chapter two, not to worry!
Also, speaking of Balinor, does anyone have any recommendations regarding gen fanfictions where Balinor is, oh I don't know, not dead? So far I've read about two fics where he's alive (and in one of them he was only alive long enough to be burned at the stake, so it wasn't exactly any happy-sappy-mushy-family-bonding-time).
Please leave me a review? I've got a math test tomorrow (which I'm bound to fail), so I'd love some happiness the day before my doom. :)