"Wow, that was the first time my father met you," Merlin said.
"Yes it was."
"Did you like him?"
"Did you like him, my father? Did you like him?" Merlin demanded.
"He commanded me, I had no choice."
"You made it sound like he just asked you things, he didn't make you do anything. Could he order you to like him?"
Kilgharrah gave a hint of a smile. "No, I suppose not. It was unusual, I have never been greeted quite like that by a Dragonlord, however young they are."
Merlin shifted on the rock he was perched on, bringing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms round them. He rubbed his shins vigorously and Kilgharrah tilted his head.
"Are you cold?" Kilgharrah asked.
"A little, but there's no fire wood."
"Gather those stones," Kilgharrah ordered Merlin, nodding in the direction of the nearby scree where jumbles of loose rocks were scattered around. Merlin frowned but did as he was told, making a small cairn on the boulder where he had been sitting.
"Heat them," the dragon said to him. Merlin frowned and Kilgharrah chuckled. "You hardly need to be nervous of using your power in front of me."
Merlin pondered that and then shrugged. He stared at the rocks, holding his hand and he muttered under his breath. A moment later after a golden flash of his eyes the rocks started to glow, the heat that came from them warmed him a little, then the dragon put his head down and exhaled gently and the stones surged with a white hot light, there were two popping sounds as they cracked under the pressure, but the heat surged into the air, warming Merlin, and he shuffled a little closer.
"Thank you," Merlin said. Kilgharrah said nothing, regarding Merlin steadily for a moment.
"Why do you do that with your hand?"
Merlin blinked. "Sorry."
"You held your hand out to heat the stone. All you need to do is use your mind, why do you use such a gesture."
"Habit," Merlin said. "I have to be careful using magic, if I use the gesture, or have to think about it before I do something, then I don't make any mistakes at the wrong moment. I've never needed to do such a thing, I never used to."
Kilgharrah sat back and looked at him calmly.
"That is odd, living in Camelot, being with Arthur, it is holding your power back."
"No, it's not."
"Do you think not?"
"I'm learning. I've seen so many with magic, they come and try to hurt Arthur, and Uther. I don't like him but I know it's not the answer."
"You dislike the prince?"
"NO!" Merlin snapped, glaring up at Kilgharrah. "Uther, I don't like Uther. Arthur's fine, he's an idiot some of the time, most of the time, probably all of the time."
"That's a large amount of time."
"He's getting better, let's face it he was a complete ass before I met him, probably because nobody had dared tell him so."
Kilgharrah tilted his head and settled down, laying his belly on the floor and stretching his front legs out in front of him. He flexed his claws, watching with interest as they moved, then he looked up at Merlin.
"Do you think that made a difference?"
"I think I did, I hope so. He said I was an idiot but I was a brave one."
"That might be a good sign. Maybe he felt the same thing you did. You felt the connection, when you met."
"I'm sure I didn't," Merlin said stubbornly.
"Did you not?"
"We're not here to talk about me, or Arthur. I want to know about my father, you were his first dragon, what about his father?"
"Andoras, your grandfather, I never faced him. Your line was a great one, not just because of the Dragonlords, but of who they married, their women. Many Dragonlords lived good, long, lives. We met their sons before the power carried on, and they had a chance to understand the power. We protected our own, and it was the dragon's downfall. The Dragonlords called us, and then we were slaughtered."
Kilgharrah paused, lowering his head, so his nose almost touched the ground. His eyes looked so sad.
"I'm sorry," Merlin said.
The dragon's head rose, and he looked at Merlin with sympathy.
"It is only I that can tell you the story, of your legacy, and of my own. Yours is not so simple, even when Balinor was born I think magic knew it's fate, with his mother, your grandmother, Sh'lia."
"What about her?"
"They were alone, Andoras and Sh'lia, the Dragonlords were scattering. Wars between the kingdoms had begun; a dragon was a useful commodity in such a situation. I'll give Uther that, he stopped the abuse of our power. It wasn't safe for any Dragonlord, Andoras had no one to help him educate your father. There was only Sh'lia I think she knew what was coming, she went to look for Andoras, she found him, she married him."
"Who was she?" Merlin asked.
"Sh'lia?" Kilgharrah seemed to muse on the name. "She was a warrior, she tried to do what was right, and she was cast out from her people."
"Who were they?"
Kilgharrah looked at Merlin steadily.
"She was a Druid."