A/N: I'm so excited for this fic! I love Balinor and Merlin. =)

This is set in Season 2, after the episode "The Sins of the Father" but before the episode "The Lady of the Lake."

By the way, according to the Merlin Wiki, Merlin is nineteen in Season 2, so I figure it's been about twenty years since Balinor last saw Hunith.

This will probably be a two-shot, possibly a three-shot

And because I've seen other authors do this…

Rating: K

Warnings: None

Pairings: Balinor/Hunith

And by the way, I'm sorry for the terrible title.

Balinor considered himself a patient man. A man who did not always need to know. A man who could bear his lot in life. A man who could make sacrifices. A man who endured.

And then one day, his patience and endurance, the walls he had worked so hard for so long to build around himself, collapsed like a rickety house in a storm.

It had been such a small thing that had set it off- and such an ordinary thing, too. It was the pendant Hunith had given him when he left Ealdor. He wore it every day, had been looking at it for twenty years now, yet for some reason, today, when he looked at it, he had felt something snap inside him, and all of a sudden he had to know, and no amount of willpower and telling himself it was not a wise idea could stop him.

-Merlin-

The journey took nearly an entire day, a day Balinor filled with self-doubts and second guessing. You don't know if she's even alive, he told himself. What if Uther discovered what she had done and killed her? That, Balinor thought, was unlikely- he had kept an ear out for gossip concerning dragonlords throughout the years and had never heard anything about a peasant woman being killed for sheltering one. Of course, Uther could have done it quietly…

When he was not worrying about whether or not she was alive, he was worrying about other things. What if she is married? What if she has moved? What if she has forgotten me? What if, what if, what if?

But he always arrived at the same conclusion: the wondering was tearing him apart, and he would never rest until he knew, so the only thing he could do was to continue on to the place he had last seen her.

The sun was just setting as he reached the top of the last hill and looked upon the tiny village that had come to mean so much to him. Hunith, I'm back.

He made straight for the home she had lived in when he was last there. Smoke was rising from the hole in the roof, and he could smell what was probably stew cooking. It was definitely inhabited. Even if she no longer lived there, the people who did could probably tell them what had become of her.

Balinor walked up to the small window on the side. There was a fleeting moment of cowardice, in which he was tempted to not look for fear of what he might see, but he quickly shoved it away and, taking a deep breath, peered inside.

As he had suspected, there was a pot over the fireplace. A woman stood at the other end of the home, bent over a table, slicing bread. She had her back to Balinor so that he could not identify her, but she was small and thin, like Hunith. He glanced quickly around the home- a small bed, a few chairs. Whoever this woman was, it was clear she lived alone. Balinor felt a sudden surge of hope, and, before he could stop himself, strode around the house and knocked on the door.

It opened almost instantly, and Balinor's breath caught in his throat.

It was her.

It was Hunith, his Hunith. Older, more worn, but somehow even more beautiful for all of that. "Hunith…" he said, struggling to keep his voice from breaking in a most unmanly way.

Her face, which had before been puzzled and slightly alarmed, suddenly cleared in recognition. "Balinor?" she whispered.

He nodded.

Her eyes widened, and she glanced around furtively before seizing the front of his tunic and pulling him into the house, shutting the door behind him.

"What are you doing here?" she whispered, eyes glassy with unshed tears. "Are you alright? What's happened?"

"I came to see you," he confessed. "I had to know how you were doing."

She stared at him in shock for a moment, then suddenly that affectionate, proud smile he had missed so much spread across her face, and she wrapped her arms around him. "Oh, Balinor," she murmured, "I've missed you so much."

"And I you," he said, embracing her in return.

She pulled away, beaming and wiping her eyes. "You're just in time for dinner," she said, and quickly pulled an extra bowl and cup from a small shelf and set them on the table, seemingly unable to keep from smiling the entire time. She then bustled over to the pot, stirred it, and evidently decided it was ready, for she wrapped her hand in her skirt and lifted the handle off the hook.

Balinor quickly stepped forward. "Here… let me." He used his jacket to shield his hand from the hot metal of the handle, and carried it over to the table.

Hunith beamed at him again and began to ladle the soup into the two bowls. When she was done, Balinor set the pot by the fire and then took a seat at the table.

Hunith seemed near bursting with happiness and eagerness as they began to eat. "How have you been?" she asked.

"As well I can be," he replied. "I live in Essetir, at the foot of the Feorre Mountain. In… a cave."

She stared at him in shock. "A cave? Balinor, that's dreadful."

"It's not so bad," he said, giving her a small smile. "And you… how have you been?" He wanted to ask her if there was someone else now (why wouldn't there be, after all these years; she was so kind and beautiful, surely she would have caught someone's eye). He thought that might be a bit presumptuous, however, and decided that if she considered it important, she would tell him.

"I've been quite well," she said, and, for the first time since he had entered the house, her smile faltered.

"What is it?" he said anxiously, his heart speeding up.

She looked up nervously, then, upon seeing his face, gave a little laugh. "Oh, no, it's nothing like that," she said. "Nothing bad. It's just..." She bit her lip and fell into a pensive silence.

"Yes?" he prompted gently.

She gave a sigh. "Balinor…" She looked up and met his eyes. He held his breath. "You have a son."

Of all the things Balinor had thought Hunith might say, that possibility had never occurred to him. He sat staring at her, unable to do anything but sit in shock.

I have a son.

I have a son.

I have a son.

"What…" he finally managed to say. He was not quite sure what he was asking, but Hunith seemed to know.

"His name is Merlin," she said, and he could see the pride in her eyes. "He's nineteen years old. He's such a good boy, Balinor, you'd be so proud of him."

"What's he like?" the dragonlord managed.

She smiled fondly. "He's… kind and gentle and brave…"

"Like you, then," Balinor murmured.

She shook her head. "No. Every day I see more and more of you in him." She paused, looking down at her stew. "He has magic," she said quietly.

"He's the son of a dragonlord," said Balinor quietly. "Half human, half creature of the Old Religion, brother to the dragon. I'm not surprised."

"Oh, but Merlin is… different. Even before he could talk, he was moving things with his mind. He was born that way."

Balinor looked up at her, startled. "But that's impossible."

A small smile appeared on her lips. "Apparently not."

Balinor felt an answering smile lifting his own mouth. He could barely wrap his mind around the idea. He had a son. A boy. He was a father.

The notion was alien and yet so comforting.

Suddenly it occurred to him that the boy should be present. "Where is he?"

Hunith's face fell a little, and something appeared in her expression. Was that… wariness? "He… he's living with my brother, Gaius."

"Gaius is a good man," said Balinor quietly, remembering the man with affection. Then suddenly something struck him. "But… he lives in Camelot."

Hunith bit her lip.

"Where magic is punishable by death!"

Hunith's hands began to tremble.

"What is he doing there?" cried Balinor, a fierce wave of protectiveness overwhelming him for this boy he had never even met. My son.

"Balinor, I…" Now Hunith's voice was trembling slightly too. "I didn't know what else to do. His magic was out of control. He had no idea how to rein it in. People were becoming suspicious. If word were to get to Kanen… or Cenred… I had nowhere else to send him."

He realized she was on the verge of tears and was ashamed. "I'm sorry, Hunith. I was just… startled. And frightened."

"So am I," she murmured. And then her face brightened with a smile. "He's doing very well there, though. He's made friends, is very happy. Here he… never really had anyone except a boy named Will. The other children… well, I'm not married. They took it out on him."

Balinor nodded silently, noting what she had said about being married. "Well, I'm… glad he's alright," he muttered absently, his thoughts consumed with this boy. He felt more alive, more eager than he had in twenty years. He felt as though he had a purpose. "I want to meet him," he announced. No, not want. Need. He needed to meet the boy, would not be able to rest until he did. He had a son, a son who was now nineteen years old. All that time, he had not been there… He was determined to change that now.

Hunith smiled. "I'll write to him at once, tell him to come as soon as possible."

"How long will that take?"

Her face fell a little. "A few weeks. But…"

He shook his head. "No. I cannot endanger you by staying here that long." He stood up, his mind made up.

"Balinor," said Hunith suspiciously, "what are you doing?"

"I'm going to Camelot."

A/N: So... what did you think? Please tell me, even if you hated it. I want to become better. =) Are Balinor and Hunith OOC? Are people interested? Should I continue?

And if people want me to continue, and there's anything people want to see in this story, please let me know! I don't have many ideas for the next chapter or for Balinor and Merlin's meeting, and I'm eager to hear suggestions!