This is my first Merlin story and I shall attempt to do it justice.I wasn't really planning on writing a Merlin fic, but I was listening to Griffith Frank sing 'Unusual Way' from 'Nine' and the song inspired me.

I own nothing except Ariana.

Chapter One: The Princess Ariana

It was a beautiful day. The sun was bright. The sky was a brilliant blue. The air of Camelot smelled of fresh flowers and baked goods as opposed to animal dung for a change.

The one thing that was wrong was Merlin running late. He was hurrying so fast down the steps of the palace to join Arthur that he almost fell on his face! Arthur, had been waiting for about fifteen minutes to receive the arriving dignitary.

Princess Ariana of Dormin.

The girl was the sole heir to the kingdom of Dormin, which was now under Uther's protection until she married someone who would take his rightful place as king. Dormin was a small kingdom unto itself and it was beyond Camelot's jurisdiction.

Many had expected her to have at least one candidate for the throne, but no, she obviously wasn't interested in any man or marriage. Her father, had made that decree just mere days before his passing. It had seemed as if he'd known somehow that he was going to die. His death, caused by the poison of the Morteaus flower was a slow and painful death for him. From what little Gaius had told him of the girl, it seemed that she'd be adequate to handle a kingdom without the aid of a man. Supposedly, she had a temper that matched her crimson red hair.

"Where were you?" Arthur demanded. "You're late!"

"Sorry." He asked as he smoothed his black hair. "Has she shown up yet?"

"No. But you haven't answered my question." Arthur repeated. "Where were you?"

He shrugged, not even bothering to point out to Arthur that he hadn't even asked him a question. "Gaius had me scrubbing the leech tanks."

"That explains why you smell." Arthur made a face. "Honestly Merlin! We're expecting a princess. Couldn't you have picked another day to clean the tanks? Or to at least change your shirt?" Fortunately, at that moment, the trumpets sounded the princess's arrival and Arthur's attention was drawn to the girl. "And don't to anything stupid."

"Like what?"

Arthur turned and he wore that familiar 'look' upon his handsome face that told Merlin he better shut up now. He nodded and smiled at Arthur before turning to focus on the procession. It was a moderately small procession for an arriving princess. A small handful of guards were around the coach with a few people of nobility inside. Following behind the coach were two wagons. One was empty, which he thought unusual and the second was bearing trunks of various sizes.

"Well," Arthur said. "it seems that the princess Ariana is quite…unusual for a princess."

Merlin turned to look to where Arthur was he felt his heart stop in his chest as his eyes took in the sight before him. There girl was riding side-saddle in a black dress with silver embellishments on it. Her red hair was waist length and flowed loosely behind her. Her horse, was a magnificent white stallion that would surely be the envy of every man in Camelot. She looked at him and her green eyes appeared to go straight to his soul and strike a bolt of heat inside him. Her gaze rested upon him for a moment before turning her attention to Arthur.

Arthur walked towards her and she brought her horse to a stop in front of him. She dismounted without his offered assistance. She held her hand out to Arthur who immediately accepted it. Unlike most women, she didn't appear to be swayed by Arthur's masculinity. In fact, she looked quite bored to be meeting the future king of Camelot.

"Princess Ariana," he kissed her hand. "an honor to meet you."

"The honor is all mine." She dipped her head politely. "I've heard a great many things about you Prince Arthur."

Arthur offered her his arm. "If I may escort you in, my father is most anxious to meet you."

She shook her head. "In a moment, I desire to make sure my horse is secured properly."

Arthur frowned. "If you wish, my personal servant would be happy to look after your horse."

"Thank you, and I do not mean this as an insult." Her horse nudged her forward, she turned and shot it a look. "But Silvermane has been mine since his birth. He lets no one touch nor ride him except for me. So it mandatory that I take care of him myself."

"I see." Arthur smiled. "I assure you that no offense was taken."

She nodded. "I'm grateful. I shall be back momentarily." She turned those green eyes upon him. "Shall we be on our way then?"

"Yes," he stuttered slightly. "follow me, please, milady."

"Ariana." She corrected him. "I do hate my title so much. I never asked for it anyway. I'm so sorry, I'm embarrassed to say that I've forgotten your name. Would you mind refreshing my scattered memory?"

"I-I'm Merlin."

She smiled. "Merlin?" She took her horse's reins and began following him. "An interesting name to be sure, but it suits you."

"Thank you."

She tilted her head slightly. "It's just as well that Silvermane won't let anyone touch him. I should hate to add to your numerous duties."

"Oh, I don't have so many."

"Really?" She didn't seem to believe him. "I can imagine if you're working for Prince Arthur keeps you pretty tired."

He laughed. "You've no idea." He instantly thought better of his words and hastened to correct the blunt statement. What was it about her that caused him to forget who and what she is? She was a princess and he was a servant. How had he managed to forget that in a few seconds? "Actually, it's… not that bad Milady."

"True…you could be in Hell." She arched a brow and smiled at him. "And as I've said before, you may abandon the formalities around me. I find it irritating and it makes me feel ill at ease."

Merlin laughed uneasily. "I shall try to remember that." He pushed the stable doors open to her and he noticed her surveying the condition of the stables. "Here we are."

"This is most impressive." She nodded. "Where shall I put Silvermane?"

"I'd say beside Arthur's steed."

She frowned. "Must I?"

"Uhhmm," he hesitated before asking. "will it make such a difference to the horse?"

She blinked and stared at him for a moment. He held his breath, worried he'd made an offense. She, however started laughing lightly. "I guess not." She patted Silvermane. "No, fraternizing with the prince's horse. Are we clear?" Silvermane actually snorted and 'nodded' his head. "Very well, open the stall for me please." He nodded and she led the horse inside. She then began chanting adsf slijre ghoim lkewrk wek. The straps holding the saddle upon the horse came undone and tucked themselves accordingly to the saddle. "I never could saddle or unsaddle a horse properly. Thank Heaven for magic." She turned and smiled charmingly at him. "Now, where shall I put this?"

Merlin was so stunned that she had openly used magic that he momentarily lost his tongue for a moment. "Here, er, um," he reached for the saddle. "I'll take them."

"No it's fine."

His hands met hers under the saddle and he felt a strong static when they touched. He heard her inhale sharply and he looked at her to see she was looking him straight in the eye. He held his breath as they both studied each other. Was he imagining things? What had happened just now? He must have been imagining things. A guard came in and they became aware of the close distance between them. She released the saddle and stepped back, straightening her shoulders.

He cleared his throat. "I shall place them in the tack room Milady."

"Thank you." She cleared her throat. "I go riding every day, so, I shall expect to see my tack ready to go in the morning by the stalls."

"Yes Milady."

"I do not mean that my tack is to be cleaned, I simply desire it to be ready nearby." She shifted uneasily. "As I've stated….I do not wish to add more tasks to yours."

He nodded and bowed. "Your wish is my command."

She turned and walked quickly away. Merlin could only stare at her and mentally kick himself for acting like a complete idiot. It was only when she disappeared around the corner that he realized that he hadn't thought to warn her that using magic was completely prohibited in Camelot.