Author's Note: Chronologically, this is set during the time period covered by Of Honey and Lizards. It's just a bit of a drabble I came up with for camelot_drabble's "Devotion" challenge.
"Arthur! What are you doing?"
The frantic tone of Honey's voice made Prince Arthur of Camelot freeze up in his soft little slippers. Alarmed, he looked from the baby he was dragging along the floor to Honey's rapidly approaching figure.
He glanced down at the baby he was holding by the scruff of its little neck.
"Oh my God! Put him down, right now!"
Arthur let go of the neckband of Merlin's tunic and the baby fell to the floor at his feet with a thump. As soon as his tiny bottom connected with the cold stone, three month-old Merlin began to wail…loudly. Honey scooped him up and proceeded to frantically check him for injuries.
"What on earth were you thinking, Arthur? I showed you how to hold him! You could have hurt him, maybe even killed him! Why would you carry him around like that?"
Arthur felt his eyes get wet as his lip began to wobble. He would not cry though. He was four now; he wasn't a baby anymore. He was a prince and Father said princes didn't cry. He wanted his father to be proud of him...so he wouldn't cry. Still, his body shook as much as his voice when he answered her.
"I-I didn't-I didn't mean to hur-hurt him! H-he-he was cold and he n-needed the f-fire and I s-saw Dinah carry he-her ba-baby that way."
Honey clicked her tongue and shook her head at him while letting out a huff of air.
"Oh Arthur! Dinah is a cat. Kittens and human babies are very different. You can't carry Merlin around by his neck or you'll hurt him."
Honey's face softened as she spoke but Arthur was still fighting the urge to cry. Honey said he could have hurt Merlin, and Honey never lied. Arthur didn't ever want to hurt Merlin, Merlin was his. The lizard had told him that ages ago, right after Honey went away to have her baby. When she came back, she brought Merlin to him and Arthur knew the lizard had been right. He had his first friend…his only friend. He loved Merlin; he'd never meant to hurt him. Now Merlin was crying and it was all Arthur's fault.
"I-I'm s-s-sorry!" he wailed.
Unable to hold back the tears anymore, he threw himself on the carpet and tried to hide his face. Father said princes didn't cry, but sometimes Arthur did...so he had to hide so no one could see the tears, not even Honey.
"I didn't mean to hurt him!"
He had to make Honey understand, he'd never hurt Merlin on purpose. Never!
Merlin's wails had tapered off into little hiccupping sobs and then into tiny sniffles before he was quiet again. Even though Merlin had stopped crying, Arthur still felt horrible for what he'd done.
"Oh, Sweetheart, it's all right. Look, Merlin is all right, you didn't hurt him. Come on, come here."
He felt Honey's arms enfold him and he shuffled around to hide his face in her lap because he was still crying but he wanted a Honey hug. Nothing made him feel better than one of Honey's hugs.
"He was cold and I wanted to make him warm. I wanted to take care of him."
Arthur sniffled some more but his tears were running out. It was hard to cry when Honey held him. He still wanted to explain. He knew if he did , Honey would understand. Honey always understood Arthur.
"He's mine and Father said I must learn to take care of my things. Merlin's my most important thing, so I wanted to take care of him."
"I think your father meant you should take care of your books and toys, Arthur. Merlin isn't a thing; he's a person. A tiny person, but he's still a person. Besides, it's my job to take care of him, just like I take care of you."
"But he's mine! He's always been mine and he's gonna always be mine. He's mine, and I should take care of him."
Honey gave him a smile, the one she gave when she thought he was being silly. She smiled at his silly but she didn't make fun of him. He loved that. No one else smiled like her. Everyone else would scold and shout or they'd laugh at him. Not Honey, though. She was always sweet to him.
"All right, Sweetheart. You're right. Since he's yours, you should take care of him. But that means you have to learn the right way to do it."
He nodded earnestly and listened as she explained to him what he should do the next time he thought Merlin was cold.
"If I'm not here, you can get him a blanket from your wardrobe. Here, let me show you."
She took his hand and Arthur was happy to follow her. After all, Honey knew all the important things. She took good care of him, so he was sure she could teach him how to take good care of Merlin. It was his job now and he wanted to do a good job. He'd take such good care of Merlin that his friend would always love him just as much as Arthur loved Honey.