A/N: So, I'm far less busy now, so expect much more regular updates! I'll aim to update about every other week, but that may be a little unrealistic considering that I've got three or four other stories going on right now xp

Summary: Balinor attempts to teach Merlin how to propose

Genres: Humor, Family, Romance

Rating: K+

Characters: Balinor, Merlin

Pairings: Freylin, Balinor/Hunith (Balith or Hunor…), (previous) Balinor/OC , brief mentions of Uther/Ygraine

Chapter 16

It was a week to the day since Balinor had sent the Great Dragon away from Camelot, and the city was gradually rebuilding itself. Houses were rising back up, and people were slowly being released from Gaius' makeshift hospital in a spare bedroom in the castle. Not slowly enough, however, that Merlin had a minute of spare time he did not spend sleeping.

Which was why Balinor was shocked, upon opening his door, to find his son standing sheepishly on the other side, shuffling his feet, his gaze cast downward.

"Merlin?!" he exclaimed.

"Hi, Father," he murmured, giving him an awkward grin.

The dragonlord sighed, resting his arm against the doorframe. "What did you do, Merlin?"

"Do?" The boy's eyes widened as he stared at his father. "Nothing! I just…" His gaze went back to his feet. "…wanted to ask you something…" he mumbled.

Balinor raised his eyebrow curiously.

"I just…I wanted to ask you… IwanttoproposetoFreya," he mumbled.

"What?" The dragonlord could not have heard that right. Merlin could not want to marry Freya. Yes, she was seventeen, but he was only nineteen. (1)

The servant's face was bright red. "I want to propose to Freya," he muttered again.

"Yes. Thanks for asking."

Confusion spread across Merlin's face. "What are you talking about?"

"You have my permission."

"Wait, what?"

"To propose to her. Thanks for asking, even though I'm not her father. I appreciate the gesture."

Merlin blinked. "I wasn't asking you for permission."

"Well, why are you here then?"

"I just wanted to ask how I should do it."

"It's not that difficult, Merlin. 'Will you marry me?'"

The boy flushed. "No, I mean…like… it's supposed to be special, right? I just wanted to know… how do you… I mean, what's the best way to…"

"Make it special?"

The boy nodded vigorously, and Balinor couldn't help but smile at the boy's awkward eagerness. "All right, come in," he said, holding the door open.

-Merlin-

"The first thing you need to know about proposing," announced Balinor, seating himself at the table as Merlin sat in Freya's chair, "is never to do it by leaving her a note in her book."

"Why not?"

"Well…" Balinor cleared his throat uncomfortably. "I tried it once. It didn't work."

"You were married?!" spluttered Merlin.

"No," replied the dragonlord quickly. "Of course not."

"Oh. Did she… did you lose her in the Purge?"

"No," replied his father dryly. "She's still alive, as far as I know."

"Then how…"

"Didn't you hear me? The proposal didn't work."

"You mean… she said no?" The boy looked like he was close to laughing.

"Yes," admitted the dragonlord reluctantly. It was not among his favorite memories. "And it wasn't funny. I was heartbroken. So, don't propose that way."

"Somehow," said Merlin amusedly, "I have a feeling that it had more to do with you than your method of proposing. After all, if you really loved someone, you wouldn't let something like a poor proposal get between you."

Balinor scowled half-teasingly at the boy. "Are you laughing at me, Merlin? I told you, it was a traumatic incident. I was devastated."

"No, no. I'm not laughing at all," protested Merlin, fighting a grin. "Though you must admit, it was rather fortunate. If you had married her, I probably would never have been born."

I haven't decided whether or not that's fortunate, Balinor almost teased the boy, but he couldn't bring himself to say the words when his son was truly the most fortunate thing that had happened to him in the past twenty years, and he had almost lost that blessing so many times already.

So instead, the dragonlord just rolled his eyes at his son and gave him a playful shove, shaking his head. "Well, you could always use Uther's idea, though you may have to wait awhile for that one."

"Uther's?" quoted Merlin, his tone making his doubt clear.

"Oh, no. It was quite romantic, really. Ygraine's sister and father were killed in an invasion of Camelot. He proposed at their funeral- said something about how he would make her a new family."

"Uther proposed to Ygraine at her family's funeral?" repeated Merlin slowly.

"Brilliant idea, wasn't it?"

The warlock looked slightly disturbed, but he just muttered, "Um… yeah. Great idea. I'll keep it in mind."

"And then there was my brother's proposal."

"Your brother was married?"

The dragonlord pressed his lips together, wincing slightly at the painful memory. "No. The Purge began only days before the wedding. She was one of the first to be killed."

"Oh," murmured Merlin, lowering his eyes.

His father sighed, shoving the memory away forcefully. That was the past; his son was the present… and future, the dragonlord desperately hoped. "Anyways," he said, clearing his throat, "my brother journeyed to a neighboring kingdom. He had to remain there for some time, and, during that time away, he missed Elaine greatly. Eventually he decided that, upon his return, he wanted to marry her as soon as possible. He sent a messenger to deliver his proposal, so that the preparations for the wedding could begin while he was away. Of course, you wouldn't be in such an extreme situation, but I'm sure Guinevere or one of your other friends could carry the message for you."

"Father," said Merlin carefully, eyeing the man, "are you serious?"

"What do you mean?" asked the dragonlord, seeming genuinely puzzled.

"Uh… nothing. How would you… I mean, if you ever decided to marry Mother… how would you propose to her?"

Balinor considered the question for a moment, leaning back in his chair. "I'd have to think about that one for some time," he admitted at last, "but I'd probably do something like leave a ring in her dinner."

"In her dinner?" repeated Merlin cautiously, envisioning the terrible scenarios that could result from such a proposal.

"Well, yes. Do you think she'd like that?"

"Umm…"

"I have a few more ideas, if you'd like to hear them," offered the sorcerer.

"Uh, that's ok," replied the boy with a weak smile. "I just… I mean, I think Arthur needs me, and he'll probably kill me if I don't show up soon, and I don't want to anger him, not after…" His voice trailed off.

"Of course," answered Balinor understandingly. "Thank you for asking for advice." It means a lot to me, to be a father. He cleared his throat, trying to force out the lump of emotion that had suddenly taken place there. "And, uh… I hope it helped."

"Yeah. Yeah, uh…. It did." Rising to his feet, Merlin forced a smile. "Good bye, father. Thank you."

"You're welcome, son," replied the dragonlord gently. "Good bye."

The young man slipped out the door, then leaned against the wall, struggling with his laughter. How on earth, he wondered, did my mother ever become romantically involved with him?

Fighting snickers, he made his way down the stairs of the home in which Balinor and Freya were staying. Perhaps Gwen had some ideas for romantic proposals.

(1) In those times, girls would usually marry around the age of 14. Boys usually married closer to 30. Thus, Freya's getting a bit old for marriage, while Merlin would still be considered rather young for it.

So, what did you think? Please let me know! Prompts would be appreciated- this includes ideas for AUs or tags to episodes.

To the guest reviewer- Thanks for reviewing! I like your idea, but I'm afraid I won't be doing a reveal for awhile. I shall keep it in mind, though. I like it xD

Next up: Balinor realizes that he is father to more than one child.