The story is set after the series 3 episode Gwaine, after Gwaine and Merlin discuss their fathers. The though then occured to me that there was a lot more between Balinor and the dragon than we can think about. So the story leads on from this prologue to the times they continued to meet.
Merlin didn't go to the clearing in the woods. That was too near. For what he wanted it was too near. He had time to spare and time that he wanted to use, so he climbed up the hill and moved his way around to the far side, where the cave was. Then he sat and gasped for breath, drank the water he had brought and ate the food.
Then he called. Just one word. And he called.
The sun was igniting the horizon as the dragon flew to him, unable to fight the call and heading steadily towards him, the urgency of the call pulling him harder. He didn't even circle. Kilgharrah dropped his back feet, wings moving frantically and stirring the air around Merlin, while Merlin sat where he was, on a rock, just tired and waiting.
The dragon settled and looked at Merlin, his head tilting one way and then another.
"You called young Warlock, but I feel nothing stirring in the scheme of things."
"You have no command?" the dragon asked.
"Talk to me," Merlin said.
"About what? What do you wish to discuss, child?"
"My father. Did you know him?"
"You knew him?"
"He called me to Uther. Your father was responsible for my imprisonment."
"He was betrayed, he said so."
"He was naïve, and unrealistic. It didn't take long for him to learn to the contrary."
"Did you know him? Before then, before he called you to Camelot?"
The dragon paused and looked at Merlin. There was no command, it was not making him answer.
"You could force me to tell you."
"I know. I know I can. I know that!" Merlin snapped. "But you will only tell me the answers to the questions that I ask, that I could demand of you. I just want to know, did you know my father?"
"Yes, young warlock, I did."
"Before he called you to Camelot?" Merlin asked.
"Yes of course, there are links that occur between dragons and the lords that can command them. At their height the Dragon Lords were revered, but they were never ones who abused their power. What they felt was so deep, none of them ever turned and abused their gift. Only Balinor can be accused of that."
"Because he betrayed me, and left me to Camelot. But that was always going to happen, and he atoned for it."
"He lived a life alone, and it was taken from him the moment he knew that he had paid the price. His atonement was you. Balinor had to give his life, for you. The same as the other half of the coin. Igraine gave her life for Arthur. Just because it happened differently doesn't mean that it is not significant."
"That is why Arthur and me are…."
"Two sides of the same coin, only to be brought together when the time was right."
"I want to know about my father. I want to know about Balinor. Who was my father? Did you know him?"
"Of course I knew him."
Kilgharrah blinked slowly and looked down at Merlin. He put his head closer to the only Dragon Lord that now existed.
"I was the first dragon he ever faced."
"When? How? Will you tell me?"
Again there was no command. Merlin didn't force him to say, he wanted to really know. Kilgharrah lowered his head and his eyes looked at benign as they would ever be.
"Yes, my young Dragon Lord, I will tell you."