A Hunting Dog, You Say?

  • Title: A Hunting Dog, You Say?
  • Fandom: BBC Merlin
  • Characters: Merlin, Gwen, Gaius, Percival, Gwaine
  • Pairing: General
  • Summary: Gwen saves a puppy, Merlin sees to it’s injuries, and they have to figure out who to give her to, because although they can’t keep her, what with their demanding duties as royal servants, they do want to give her a good home. That’s where Gwaine and Percival come in.
  • Rating: T
  • Word Count: 2,255

There was a knock on the door, heard only by Merlin. Gaius had left early in the day, to do his daily rounds around the city, delivering medicines to the people and checking up on his less-dire and in need patients. Usually, Merlin would have accompanied him, since he had a remarkably free afternoon seeing as Arthur was spending some time with his father – whom still refused to say much (Morgana’s betrayal had seriously done damage to the king’s psyche) – but Gaius had gone without him, saying “I still need some herbs crushed, and some elixirs brewed. See to them, will you, while I’m out?”

Merlin could hardly say ‘no’ to Gaius, so he’d spent his rare afternoon off with the pestle and mortar, and the various dried roots and leaves Gaius had stocked in vials. He’d already made good headway with them, when the knock on the door came.

He set the pestle down and stood from the work bench, before making his way towards the door, hoping that it wasn’t a patient, or at least one that was be so bad off that they’d need Gaius’ help. Merlin loved his work as Gaius’ apprentice, and was growing in his skills as a physician, but he was still nowhere near Gaius’ level and he was not keen on having anyone dying under his own hand and care due to his complete naivety.

Opening the door, Merlin smiled, relieved, when he saw Gwen standing there. “Gwen,” he greeted his friend and fellow servant, before frowning as he noticed the worried expression on her face. Gwen stood on the other side, in her favorited lavender dress, a bundle of linen in her arms, biting her lower lip in clear show of anxiety. Merlin’s eyes fell on the linen that she cradled, “Is everything alright?”

The maid gave him a small smile and entered when he beckoned her to do so, shutting the door behind her. “Merlin…Yes, everything’s fine. With me, anyways…Um,” She shuffled her feet, and bowed her head to look down at the bundle, and with a small pause of hesitation, gently held it out for him to take. “I didn’t know who else to take her to, Merlin. I was on my way to the market, and spotted her just out of the corner of my eye, huddled in the shadows in front of the tavern…I think she was trampled by a horse,” Gwen said sadly.

Curiously, Merlin took the linens from her carefully, and cast his gaze down to it, lifting one of the corners to peek at the creature. Upon seeing the wounded puppy, the warlock winced in sympathy. She looked incredibly weak, and was covered in blood. So much, that he wasn’t even sure where it was coming from. “Poor thing,” he commented softly, moving to the make-shift patient cot. It wasn’t ideal to treat a wounded animal, but it would have to do. The two of them knelt down, as Merlin placed the puppy on the cot.

Uncovering the puppy, Merlin immediately saw the wound – a huge gash on her side, just over her rib cage. It was the shape of horse-shoe, and bleeding profusely. Thankfully, apart from the fact that it was bleeding, and clearly bruised, and a rib or two was cracked, the wound itself did not appear fatal to the small animal. A check for internal bleeding proved this. “She’ll be okay,” Merlin tried to reassure Gwen, smiling softly at her, as he stood to collect the necessary supplies he would need to clean and bandage the wound.

When he was finished with cleaning the wound, and applying the clean linen to the pup’s middle, to help both the wound and the ribs, the puppy became a bit more alive. She was licking Gwen’s hand, and leaning into the gentle caresses the maidservant was dishing out to it. Gwen smiled tenderly down at her, cooing softly, while simultaneously watching Merlin work.

“All done,” Merlin told them both, giving the pup an affectionate little scratch to her ears, fingers running through her soft brown fur. “Like I said, Gwen, she’s going to be just fine.”

“Thank you, Merlin,” Gwen told him, fondly, examining the bandaged wound, smiling at his job well done, “I’m very impressed. Gaius would be proud, I’m sure.”

Merlin shrugged, modestly, ducking his head a little at the compliment. “It’s no problem…I’m glad I could help her. The wound wasn’t too bad. If it was any worse than it was, I probably wouldn’t have been much help.”

“Nonsense, Merlin. You’re becoming quite the physician,” Gwen gushed, warmly, shaking her head at her friend’s lack of faith in his own skills. “Gaius is teaching you well.”

Not knowing what else to say, Merlin just gave her a look of gratitude for her comment, before busying himself with cleaning up.

“What do you think I should do with her?” Gwen asked after a moment of comfortable silence between them. The two turned to the puppy in question, who was lounging on the cot on the pile of bed linen Gwen had brought her in, eyes closed as Gwen stroked her gently, taking care for her injuries.

“Do you not want to keep her?” he asked her, curiously.

“Of course I do…but it’s really not that practical. I don’t have the time to care of a dog,” she said mournfully.

He nodded in understanding. The life of a servant was a busy one, leaving time for little else but eating and sleeping. Especially when you were the servant of the royal household. Then he remembered Gwaine telling him just the other day, how he wanted a hunting dog of his own – though Merlin wasn’t sure if he truly meant it, or if Gwaine had said it because he was just jealous of Arthur’s pack of fine hunting dogs.

“We could give her to Gwaine, if he wants her.”

Gwen frowned at the suggestion, “Gwaine?” she questioned, unsure.

Again, he nodded. “Yeah,” he said with a shrug. “Or Percival, even,” Merlin added, remembering how the giant knight had voiced his own desire for a hunting dog, on top of Gwaine’s initial comment. Either would be a good bet. “I can ask them later today, when I accompany Arthur on the training field if you like? For the time being, I’ll keep her here so she can rest a bit, and I’ll give her some water and find her something to eat, to help her heal and give her some strength and energy. It looks like she could use a good meal,” he told her, having noticed in his examination that the pup, probably no more than 12 weeks old, was a bit emaciated. Not overly, or dangerously so, but just enough to take note of.

He understood Gwen’s hesitation to give the pup to Gwaine – he was a bit reckless and well-known drunk, after all. Though Merlin knew that the knight cared a hell of a lot for his own personal things, and if he did happen to agree to take the puppy, she would be in good hands.

After a moment of consideration of her options, Gwen sighed but slowly nodding her consent, though she worried her lip anxiously nonetheless, concerned still for the small creature she had rescued. “Right, I suppose they will have to do,” she said. Giving the puppy one last stroke, she stood up from her position on the floor, brushing out her skirt as she did so. “I must be getting back to work…Thank you again, Merlin, for seeing to her. Tell Gwaine or Percival, or whomever takes her, to keep her in good health or they’ll be seeing me.”

Merlin chuckled and grinned at her not-so-idle threat, “Will do, Gwen,” he assured her, and watched her leave. When she was gone, he waited for the puppy to fall completely asleep, before doing as he promised. He dropped by the kitchens for something soft enough that the wounded puppy could eat, then swung by the well for some fresh water, before returning back to his and Gaius’ quarters.

It was a little over an hour later, before Gaius returned. To say that he was surprise to see the pup in their living quarters would be an understatement, though he simply raised his eyebrow at his ward as he put his medicine basket away and took a seat at his workbench, to finish the rest of the elixirs that Merlin hadn’t gotten around to brewing in his endeavor to nurse the pup back to health.

Merlin had just grinned at him, and shrugged, “Don’t worry, Gaius, she’s not staying.”

“I should hope not, my boy,” the elderly physician said lightly, eyes never leaving his work. “These bones are too old to be chasing around and tripping over anything smaller than yourself.”

“So no kittens, then?” Merlin questioned, with a teasing quirk of his lips.

“No kittens.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Gwaine! Percival! ” he called out, as he made his way across the training field. Many of the knights were had already dispersed, eager to get out of their armor and put down their swords. No doubt, they’d worked up an appetite and were now on a mission to fill their bellies with their midday meal.

Gwaine and Percival, who was lingering around the field with Sirs Kay and Gareth and laughing boisterously over some joke that Merlin was sure wasn’t even all that funny, turned their heads around at the calls of their name. Seeing Merlin approaching, they grinned widely and waved. “Merlin,” Gwaine greeted, brightly, obviously in a good mood.

“Merlin,” Percival echoed, nodding warmly to his slighter friend.

“What can we do for you, mate?” Gwaine asked, hand casually going to his sheathed sword, in a relaxed stance, giving Merlin his undivided attention. Kay and Gareth smiled politely at Merlin before bidding their two fellow knights their leave before turning and heading up towards the castle.

“It’s more along the lines of what you can do for Gwen and I, actually, A favor,” Merlin told them, then added, “but only if you want to. If not we can find her a new home somewhere else in the citadel, I’m sure.”

“Okay, wait, slow down,” Gwaine said, confused, “Start from the beginning, yeah?”

“Right…Well, early this afternoon, Gwen found a small puppy on her way to the markets. It had sustained some injuries, we suspect from being nearly trampled by a horse,” he began, slowly. “She brought the pup in, but since Gaius was away on his runs, I had to see to it. Turns out she’s fine. She’s obviously sore, what with a few crackled ribs and a gash on her side – she also lost quite a bit of blood, and she’s a bit emaciated, but otherwise, she’s in good health. But she doesn’t have a home.” Merlin studied the two men before him, hoping one of them would agree to take her. “I remember both of you saying you would like a hunting dog, and I believe that she would be perfectly suited for that, provided she is looked after properly…Would either of you be interested in taking her in?”

“A hunting dog, you say?” Percival questioned, intrigued. Gwaine, too, looked interested. They had been in talks of the both of them getting themselves one, but they’d yet to do so. It had only been idle talk up til this point, but if there was a potential pup in need of a home and if it was any kind of hunting dog, then they were definitely interested.

“Can we see her?” Gwaine asked, pulling off his leather gloves and tucking them into his belt.

“Of course,” Merlin said happily in agreement, when Percival nodded in his own interest to in seeing the wounded dog. He beckoned them to follow him, as he turned to head back towards the physician’s quarters. Gaius was there and had agreed to keep watch of the pup until he’d fetched the knights. “I was going to suggest you see her for yourselves, anyhow,” he told them.

When they got to his and Gaius’ place, the three of them entered, and Merlin pointed them both over to the patient’s cot, where the puppy was still laying, too sore to really move more than she had to. Said pup was easy to spot among the white laundry linens she was still using as a bed, her dark brown fur making her small form stand out over the surrounding white. The bandage Merlin had wrapped around her middle was still present, hiding the gruesome injury and bruises from view. When Gwaine and Percival approached the cot, she raised her small head to look at the two large men.

Merlin moved around his friends to stand to the side, watching both of them as they took in the sight of the pup. He bit back a grin as he saw the softness in Percival’s eyes, and the smile on Gwaine’s face. Yeah…the puppy would definitely be in good hands.

Though he had a feeling that Gwaine and Percival will be sharing joint ownership of her, as he didn’t think either man would let the other walk away with the pup belonging solely to one of them. Yet, somehow, it seemed perfectly natural for Gwaine and Percival to share responsibilities of caring for the pup. Raising her and training her.

She would be fine.

And if not, Gwen would be sure to give them both hell.

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