An au where Douxie becomes Merlins apprentice at a younger age.
Ah, I adore this prompt! Especially with the drawings made by @tenyai (X, X), Younger!Douxie lives rent-free in my brain and he is a-door-a-ble. Since we don’t exactly know the age that Hisirdoux started apprenticing under Merlin (I guess around his pre-teens bc of his voice, but I’m not sure) I want to say for the younger version he’s about 9/10 (Given his parents kicked him out sooner/died sooner, so I believe that he would have very little sense of time, so very little idea of how old he actually is). I hope you enjoy!
“He is but a boy, Arthur!” Merlin scolds. “Evil is not innate, it is taught, just as goodness is.” Arthur stands from his throne.
“So you ask me to spare the child? He uses sorcery-”
“As do I!” Merlin interrupts, slamming the end of his staff onto the ground, making the stone glow a bright green. “As does Morgana!” Merlin shifts his eyes to the woman, her face empty but anger grows behind her eyes as she looks at Arthur. “How do you think your people would act knowing you executed a child.” Merlin spits. Arthur sighs, sitting back down. Leaning heavily against the chair, he rubs between his eyes. “The child has about the same capacity of reading and writing as he does evil; none.” Merlin stares Arthur down. The king eventually sighs, waving.
The doors to the throne room swing open and a young boy is dragged in with a black cat in tow. As he is tossed on the ground next to Merlin, the cat walks in front of the boy, softly meowing and pressing his head against the boy’s leg. “If you are so concerned with this boy’s life,” Arthur grumbles. “Then you will take him under your care and teach him good magic.” Arthur looks down at the boy, glaring. “You will teach him to be useful or else he will be put to use my way-in the ground.” He growls. The boy sits on his knees, averting his eyes from Arthur. Merlin bows.
“As you wish, your Majesty.” Grabbing the boy by the back of his collar, Merlin practically picks him up and drags him out of the throne room, his cat following behind the two.
As the doors slam behind them, making the boy flinch in Merlin’s grasp, Merlin lets go of his collar, wiping his hand on his armor. “Follow me, child,” Merlin says, not even glancing at him. He hears the boy stumble behind him as he regains his footing, following behind the Wizard. “From now on, you will be working in my workshop and running errands for me. In between, I will teach you how to properly use your magic. In return, you will stay here in the castle and not go anywhere else or do anything else without my prior knowledge, do you understand me?” Merlin finally looks back at the boy, who had grabbed his cat and was now holding him. The boy nods. Merlin rolls his eyes. “With your words, please.”
“Yes, sir.” The boy mumbles. Merlin sighs.
“What is your name, if you have one,” Merlin asks as they ascend the stairs to his tower.
“Hisirdoux Casperan.” The boy says quietly. Merlin huffs. The boy wasn’t mumbling anymore, but they would still have to work on it, he assumes.
“And your familiar’s?”
“How old are you?”
“I think about ten?” The boy says, unsure.
“Well, are you or are you not ten?” Merlin chides.
“I’m pretty sure, yeah.” Merlin sighs, rolling his eyes at the boy’s unknowingness of his own age.
Opening the door to his workshop, Merlin steps to the side to allow the two to enter. The boy, Hisirdoux, enters with wide eyes while his familiar looks bored.
“You two will be staying down the hall, across from my room. It is off-limits to you both unless there is an emergency.” Walking over to his work table, he drags his forefinger across the surface of it, picking up excess powder. Rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, he looks at it, unimpressed. “I will show you the ropes for the first week or two. If you wish to live, you must prove that you are useful.” Merlin looks at the boy as he pales slightly. Archie rubs up against his leg to try and comfort him. “I’m sure you’ve had a rather stressful past two days, so I will show you to your room so you can rest.” Hisirdoux nods and with a flick of the wrist, Merlin picks up multiple books and reshelves them. “Have you been educated at all?” Hisirdoux shakes his head.
“I never was enrolled in school. My parents were farmers.” Hisirdoux looks down at his feet. “We only lived on what we could sell.” Merlin groans. Hearing this, Hisirdoux’s head shoots up, nearly as white as a sheet. “B-but while I was working and cleaning in houses, I would listen to the homeschooling some of the mothers gave.” Hisirdoux opens his mouth again to speak, but no sound comes out.
“Well, spit it out!” Merlin scolds.
“I never got to hear much.” The tips of Hisirdoux’s ears turn pink. “When they figured out that I was listening, well…” He clenches his jaw shut and rolls his eyes. Opening his mouth to tell the boy to finish his sentence, another voice spoke up, interrupting him before he could begin.
“They would beat him.” Archie scowls. As the familiar glares at Merlin, the Wizard gets a slight shiver up his spine. “They told him that the servants serve the rich. They were there to labor, not learn.” Trying his best to push down the rage, he turns back to the boy.
“How much do you know?”
“Not a lot. Just some pronunciation and some letters. It’s not like I could really ever practice my writing.” Hisirdoux trails off and Merlin sighs.
“We’ll work it out in the morning. For now, I’ll show you to your room so you can settle.” Merlin waves and walks towards the door. “I’m sure I can ask Morgana to give you some lessons.” Walking down the hallway, he doesn’t turn around when he talks to Archi. “I assume you translate for him, Archie?” Opening the door to the room, Merlin lifts his hand to clear some boxes and clean, the old storage room finally being put to use for something.
“Yes, I do. And I have been trying my best to teach him. However, my writing isn’t what it used to be.”
“More familiar with your ancient Draconic, then?” Merlin looks over at the familiar for his reaction but all he gets is a huff of annoyance.
“My Draconic.” Archie clarifies. “Ancient Draconic wasn’t my best subject.” Shifting into his dragon form, Archie flies towards the small rectangular cutout in the wall where the two would be sleeping. Landing, he circles a few times before laying down. “It isn’t the most comfortable, Douxie, but we’ve slept on worse.” Merlin looks over at the boy, realizing that he was waiting for Archie to lay down before he did. The boy walks over and lays down on the cement and uses Archie as a pillow.
“I’ll see if I can find a pillow or two and some blankets for the two of you,” Merlin says as he turns and walks out of the room, closing the door with a flick of his wrist.
When he comes back with multiple blankets, Morgana and the servants saying that the young boy could use the thicker blankets as something to lay on and the thinner ones as covers, and a couple of pillows, Merlin quietly opens the door when he re-enters. Looking at his new apprentice and his familiar, Merlin’s lip quirks upward slightly before he shakes his head. Sighing, he uses his magic to lift Hisirdoux and Archie off of the cement to place blankets under the two. Slowly putting them back down, he places the pillows at Hisirdoux’s feet, the boy still using Archie as a pillow. “A better life begins for you, young one.” He whispers, watching the boy breathe evenly before leaving the room again.