This one-shot is inspired by Emachinescat's story "Why Do You Hate Me?" In that tale, Merlin asks for a puppy that won't maul him. We have acquiesced. However, Merlin's going to wish we hadn't :P

BTW this tale flirts with crack.

Status Update: We don't own Merlin. That is all.

"No, I don't have a use for the runt," Arthur said.

He paid the dog breeder and then handed the dog leashes to Merlin. Arthur loved his new hunting dogs already and would spend plenty of time with them. Until he brought his dogs to their new kennels, though, there was no reason for him hang on to several large squirming pups. Merlin could handle that part.

"If you slaughter the runt, I'll feed it to you," Merlin murmured.

Arthur was taken aback. He had no intention of slaughtering that puppy. What the breeder did with his pups was his own business. Besides, Arthur was fairly certain the man usually sold the runts on the side.

But Merlin didn't need to know that. If he wanted to "rescue" the animal, then who was Arthur to stop him? Arthur repressed a wicked smile at the thought.

"You're right, Merlin," Arthur conceded mockingly. (Merlin immediately looked alarmed.) "You should care for the runt."

"Wha—no. I can't."

"Alfred," Arthur chimed, "I've changed my mind about the runt."

Alfred raised his eyebrows, "Yes, m'Lord." He fetched the last puppy and a rope.

"Keep the rope," Arthur smiled.

Alfred nodded and exchanged the runt for Arthur's proffered coin. "Thank you, sire," the man bowed and backed away.

"Arthur, no," Merlin moaned. "I didn't mean—"

"Oh, yes you did. I've seen how lovingly you've been eying it." Arthur scratched the puppy's ears.

Merlin shook his head.

"I know you want him. Why else would you have threatened to feed him to me?"


"Here," Arthur offered (rather forcefully), plopping the pup into Merlin's arms, "you can even carry him home. I'll take the other dogs."

Arthur plucked the wiggling leashes out of his servant's hand and began striding back away.

"But, Arthur," Merlin protested, coming out of his shocked daze, "you can't keep it in your room."

Arthur stopped and turned in place. He furrowed his brow. The look was somewhere between puzzlement and amusement.

"Why would it stay in my room? Have you not been listening? He's yours," the prince emphasized. His eyes glinted mischievously.

"Merlin, why are you carrying one of Arthur's dogs?" Why? Merlin was asking himself that same question. "I don't treat animals," Gaius continued, "unless it displaced a bone."

"It's not Arthur's dog," Merlin said shortly. "Well, it is his dog," Merlin amended. He claimed no ownership over this animal.

Gaius's eyebrow rose almost entirely off his face. "You stole one of Arthur's dogs?" Gaius said incredulously. "Merlin! I thought you didn't even like them."

"I don't."

"Then why did you steal it?" Gaius reprimanded.

"I didn't! Arthur foisted it on me," Merlin defended.

"And you couldn't say no?"

"I haven't had the chance!" Merlin's voice rose. "Arthur was buying dogs—something about breeding in good qualities—and—"

"What did you do?" Gaius was too good at reading Merlin. It wasn't fair.

"I didn't do anything," Merlin lied. "Arthur just decided I needed the runt."

"Merlin—" Gaius was about to press for more information. Merlin was obviously holding back details.

"I promise that I'll sell it, but I don't have time right now." Merlin hefted the dog. The motion almost presented the animal as a gift to Gaius. "What do I do with it until then?"

"Lock him in your room. I don't need it damaging my lab."

Gaius shook his head. That boy, the things he gets himself into.

Throughout the rest of the day, Arthur found every opportunity to remind Merlin of his new "responsibility." The prat didn't care that Merlin was going to sell the runt. He insisted on giving incessant puppy care advice. As if Merlin didn't already know how to care for a dog!

"Make sure it doesn't catch cold, Merlin," Arthur jibed as he stabbed his dinner.

"Eat quickly, and it won't," Merlin remarked irritably.

He didn't actually cook the dog. (Though, by now he was considering it.) He just didn't want to hear anymore about the animal that was now romping about his room. Arthur wouldn't leave the topic alone. "Make sure it it's well-fed," "Do remember to exercise it," and "Don't let it get lonely," were among Arthur's many suggestions.

"I know this isn't dog, Merlin," Arthur replied calmly.

"How would you know? I've fed you disgusting stuff before, but dog would be a first."

"This, Merlin," Arthur waved a strip of white meat, "is chicken."

Merlin bit back a retort. Maybe if he kept his mouth shut long enough, Arthur will stop bringing up the puppy.

"You are feeding it, right?"

No such luck.

Merlin, weighed down by Arthur's armor, trudged through the door to Gaius's chambers, his home. His home which now had a dog wagging its tail at Gaius.

"Merlin," Gaius looked up from a pot of stew and smiled, "how was work today?"

"If Arthur gives one more piece of advice..." Merlin trailed off. He would have trailed off anyway, but he had extra reason to because of a pressing question. "Gaius, I thought you wanted the dog locked in my room."

"I couldn't stand the whining. And he hasn't been causing trouble anyway." Gaius didn't look at Merlin. The old man busied himself with ladling two bowls of stew.

Merlin guessed that made sense.

"I've got to finish polishing Arthur's armor tonight," Merlin explained. "I'm just going to put this in my room, and I'll be back in a second."

As Merlin made his way up the stairs, Gaius placed the bowls of stew onto the table. The next thing the physician knew, he heard a loud clatter from the upstairs.

"Merlin," Gaius called. He was about to ask if everything was okay when Merlin answered.

"Where is that thing!" Merlin stormed down the stairs. "I'm going to wring its neck and feed it to Arthur!"

"He doesn't mean that," Gaius said soothingly to the dog. He bent over and affectionately scratched the animal's ears.

"Yes, I do. My blanket is soiled!"

"Oh, we can clean it," Gaius said dismissively. "Come, eat your stew."

Merlin's mouth opened as his upper face tightened. How dare you defend that creature? Merlin wanted to shout. He controlled himself though. He clenched his jaw. His motions of walking to the table and sitting down were stiff and deliberate. Gaius, who was silent but not angrily silent, followed suit and sat.

Merlin focused on eating. He didn't look at Gaius or that bloody flea-bitten runt.

The warlock's head, which was hanging over the stew, suddenly snapped up. Merlin saw something in his peripherals, but surely it wasn't true. Gaius wouldn't.

Sadly, Merlin's eyes weren't fooling him. His jaw dropped, in annoyance more than anything else.

Gaius was dishing chunks of pork onto the floor.

"Gaius," Merlin said, "if you're not going to eat it, you could give it to me."

"We don't have anything else to feed Archimedes," Gaius explained.

"I'm sure we could find—wait—you named it?"

"He needs a name," Gaius answered as though this was some universal, irrefutable fact.

"Gaius," Merlin placed his hands on the table, "you're not supposed to name it. I'm selling it tomorrow."

Just like the dog on the floor, Gaius adopted puppy eyes. "Do we have to?"

Merlin slapped his hand to his face. No. This couldn't be happening. Gaius was getting attached to the dog.

Curse you, Arthur.

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