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Wild Winter Stars (8/?)

Title: Wild Winter Stars
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Gwaine, Percival, Mordred, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 872
Summary: “That Arthur has not always existed seems odd to me. Like the wind on the moors and the wild winter stars, surely he has always lived . . . and always will.” ― Stephen R. Lawhead, Arthur A man tortured by Morgana is left outside Camelot to taunt Arthur. Merlin, Gwaine and Percival along with the recovered man go to spy on Morgana.
Author's Note: This is a sequel to A Word for Forgotten Songs. The original character is from one of my series and I kinda place him in lots of fandoms. His original series starts here. The story is set in series 5, somewhat early on. It's unbeta'd so all mistakes are my own.

One Two Three Four Five Six Seven

As the weeks passed, Alan healed well enough to leave Gaius’ chambers with crutches. As his voice was still rough, he relied on hand signals and motions to get his point across with everyone who didn’t know his secret. Gaius continued to use tonics and Mordred helped with healing magic. Merlin was still wary but concluded that the young knight believed he was helping another magic user and wouldn’t harm him.

At Arthur’s request, Alan sat in on some council meetings. He also told Merlin to keep an eye on him should he tire. The members of the council were quite vociferous in their opinions regarding a virtual stranger joining them. They had already forgotten that the man had been tortured by Morgana. When he had first “heard” Alan’s comments about the council, Merlin had to turn his laugh into a cough.

Alan sat at his place at the table and scribbled notes of each meeting. He would then make plans and diagrams to resolve some of the issues. Arthur would look them over and discuss certain points with them both before presenting the revised plans to the council. That unique insight won them over.

Alan didn’t have to work so hard with the knights. Once they learned Mordred had seen him and was helping with Druid medicines, they peppered him with questions. When his voice made a reappearance, Gaius let Alan have visitors. When he was able, Merlin would help him outside so he could watch training. He gave pointers through Merlin and Mordred until his voice got stronger. That’s when Gwaine declared he liked the older man. After that, everyone learned it was dangerous to leave them unsupervised. No one was safe.

When they had the chance Merlin would take Alan out of the city where they could conduct magic lessons. All Alan had was the ability to talk and move things with his mind. That was not enough to go up against Morgana. Merlin would explain to him how to tap into the energy around him and channel it into what he desired. He could manage a decent shield but conjuring fire or even light eluded him.

Merlin was in the library with Alan researching when a servant found them. Arthur wanted to see them urgently. They hurried to the council room to find they were the last to arrive.

“Nice of you two to join us.”

Merlin could tell Arthur had pent-up energy and that it was best not to tease. “We had to come all the way from the library,” he explained. “What’s going on?”

“Word just came of Morgana’s possible location. We need to go after her before she moves again.” He held up a hand to ward off any comments. “I know I cannot go myself. That’s why you are here. Someone has to verify this information.”

“It could be a trap,” stated Gaius.

“Which is why I want volunteers.” He brought their attention to the large map spread out on the table. “It won’t be an easy trip. This,” he jabbed the map, “is where we think she might be.”

“That’s a long way to go based on ‘think’ and ‘might’,” commented Alan.

“Not the friendliest territory either,” added Gwaine.

“The castle has vantage points from all directions.” Leon studied the map. “It would be nigh impossible to approach without being seen.”

“A small group would have a better chance,” commented Elyan.

“I’ll go.” Merlin didn’t know what possessed him. Everyone looked stunned except for Gwaine and Alan who were smiling.

Arthur, however, was far from pleased. “Merlin, there is no way you are going.”

“I can handle myself. I’ve kept an eye on you all this time, haven’t I?”

“You can’t seriously--”

“I’ll go with him,” Gwaine spoke up.

Merlin looked over at his friend. “Thanks.”

“Well, I was promised a trip weeks ago and never got to go.”

“Just the two of you out there? You’d have no chance.”

Gwen laid a hand on her husband’s arm. “If anyone can keep an eye on Merlin, it’s Gwaine.”

“I’ll go as well,” added Percival.

Gwaine clapped a hand on his comrade’s shoulder. “Right. We’re all settled.”

“I have an objection.”

Merlin looked questioningly at Alan. What could be object to?

“Finally.” Arthur held out his arms. “Someone else is against this lunacy.”

“Actually, I’m going too.”

“What? You can’t! You’re not fully healed.”

“If anything happens, Merlin will be there to take care of me.”

“Of course I will. But nothing will happen.”

“We won’t let it,” said Percival.

“He’s bearing the Seal of Camelot, after all,” commented Gwaine. “It’s our duty.”

“I’ll be bearing it forever.” Alan gently rubbed his chest.

Gwen looked at the physician. “Gaius?”

“If he doesn’t overtax himself, Alan will be fine.” He chuckled. “Plus, there is nothing you or I could say that would keep him from going.”

Arthur raised his hands in defeat. “Fine, but you-” he pointed at Percival “-are to keep them under control.”

Merlin understood the reason behind the decision and agreed with it. He wasn’t a soldier. Alan, though a great fighter, was not in top shape. And Gwaine was, well, Gwaine. All-in-all, it was going to be an interesting trip.

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