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Wild Winter Stars (11/?)

Title: Wild Winter Stars
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Gwaine, Percival, Mordred, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 1,527
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 Eight Nine Ten



Alan followed Merlin to the door of the other cell and watched as he opened the lock. [I need to learn that one]

[You’d better go in first so it looks like you did it]

Alan took the younger man’s advice and entered the room. Gwaine was on the floor and Percival was placing straw around him for warmth. Gwaine was sweating and his lip was bleeding. Alan knew that Morgana avoided the face when starting out. The knight’s body would be heavily bruised but hopefully no serious internal injuries.

“Good. We need to keep him warm so his body doesn’t go into shock.” Alan walked over and knelt beside the knight. “Let’s just take a look at what we’re dealing with.”

Alan heard Merlin gasp when he opened Gwaine’s shirt. There wasn’t a spot that wasn’t bruised or bleeding. If this his him after one day, what did I look like after weeks?

“Can you both hold him down? This might hurt and we don’t need him thrashing about.”

Percival gently put his hands on Gwaine’s ankles while Merlin knelt on the side opposite Alan and placed one hand on the knight’s shoulder and the other on his wrist.

Alan rested a hand on Gwaine’s forehead and the other on his chest. [What now?]

[I’ll give you the words and maybe both our energies will quicken the healing]

Alan took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to look the part. He then repeated Merlin’s incantation. “Efencume... ætgædre, eala gastas cræft ige gestricaþ þis lic forod.”

He wasn’t sure, but Alan thought he felt some tingling at his fingertips. Even if he weren’t doing the actual healing, he channeled energy to help the process. He didn’t realize how hard he was concentrating until he practically keeled over. If not for Percival, he would have gotten a concussion when his head hit the floor. “Wha’?”

“You used too much energy,” Merlin informed him. “You’ll need to sleep.”

Percival looked at Gwaine. “He’s trying to say something.”

They all leaned forward so as to hear the man’s whispered words. “Knew it,” he mumbled before falling back into unconsciousness.

Alan looked at Merlin. [Does he mean you or me?]

[I don’t know] “We’d better get back to our own cell before you fall asleep,” Merlin said.

Alan noticed the younger man sway slightly as he stood. He didn’t realize how much energy Merlin must have used himself. It was the control he needed to work on.

“You’re right.” He let Percival help him stand. “Keep him warm and let him sleep,” Alan said as he slowly walked to the door. “I doubt Morgana will be back for him tonight.”

“You had both better try to sleep yourselves. I’ll let you know if anything happens.”

Merlin nodded and they both shuffled out of the cell and back into their own.

Alan curled up on his pallet and was lost to Morpheus in mere seconds.

*****


Merlin remembered to lock both cell doors so Morgana and the guards wouldn’t be concerned about an immediate escape. From his own pallet, he looked over at Alan who was sound asleep – and probably would be for hours. He had shared so much energy that Merlin had had a hard time directing it towards healing. When Gwaine woke, there would hardly be any pain.

As for Gwaine’s comment, hopefully it was just a conformation about Alan and nothing about himself. If his friend had felt the energy warmth from two sources, he must have realized they both had magic. With any luck, he wouldn’t remember when he woke.

Merlin could feel his own lids drooping. He knew Alan was right regarding Morgana: she would let them be tonight. It wouldn’t be any “fun” breaking them if they put up little resistance due to lack of sleep. Knowing Percival was watching over Gwaine, Merlin let himself drift off. They would all need to be rested for tomorrow.

He woke the next morning – or what he hoped was morning – and saw Alan sitting on his own pallet staring straight ahead. At first, he was afraid that Morgana had gained some control over him until he remembered Alan’s talents. He must be communicating with Gaius.

Merlin rubbed his eyes before standing and stretching. He walked to the window. “Percival,” he called. “How’s Gwaine?”

“He’s still sleeping but I think he’s near waking,” came the other man’s reply. “How are you and Alan?”

“I’m good. Alan’s just coming ‘round. Healing took a lot out of him.” Merlin spared a look at the older man who was slowly blinking.

“Will he be good for our escape?”

“I’ll be fine,” Alan answered for himself. “And when did you come up with the plan?”

“I haven’t. I just want to know if you’ll be able to defend yourself.”

“With sword and magic,” Alan responded. He walked over to the door. “Do you have any ideas?”

“Since we don’t know the defenses, we’ll have to wait for information.”

“There might be a way to get that but we have to find out our hostess’ itinerary for us.”

Merlin looked at Alan questioningly. [Do you plan to enter her mind?]

[Good Lord, no. She’d sense me right away. I’ll use one of her soldiers.]

“What are you talking about?” came a groggy voice.

“Gwaine, how are you feeling?” Percival asked.

“Wonderful, actually. What’s going on?”

“Do you remember what happened?” Merlin asked.

“Merlin! How are you?”

He smiled at the joy in his friend’s voice. “Fine. None of us were beaten by Morgana’s men.” After he said it, Merlin realized that Gwaine most likely didn’t look that way.

“I don’t feel like that and I know how I should feel. I do remember the beating and not much after, except a warmth that seemed to spread through me, like mead on a cold day.”

Merlin held his breath hoping the knight was too out of it to remember the healing.

“Really?” asked Alan.

Gwaine asked after the other man’s health which made Merlin smile.

“Just tired and aching from having to sleep on the floor. Glad to hear you’re well.”

“Now that we’ve established everyone’s health, we have to plan a way out,” stated Percival.

“Why can’t Alan use his magic to get us out of here?” asked Gwaine.

“What? Alan doesn’t- He can’t- I mean-” Merlin couldn’t keep himself from stammering. They had to limit the number of people who knew about Alan’s abilities. If word got out that a magic user was staying in Camelot as a guest of the King… He shuddered.

“Calm yourself, Merlin. I won’t turn him in or tell anyone. He healed me.”

“There might be something I can do,” Alan mused.

“Alan, are you sure?” Merlin questioned. [Won’t that betray your secret?]

[How? Morgana knows about me and now so do Percival and Gwaine. No need to worry.]

“Can you take us back to Camelot?” Gwaine questioned.

“To take the three of you that distance – even one at a time – would take more energy than I have now.”

“Can you take yourself and tell Arthur?”

“And what about you in the days it would take to get here? No, my plan is to insert myself into the mind of a guard and learn the layout of the castle and its defenses.”

“You can compel people to do things!” Gwaine crowed.

“No, he can’t,” Merlin stated. He tried to remember the example Alan used to explain it. “Imagine the soldier is a carriage driver. Alan will be a passenger in the carriage. He won’t be driving but can see where the carriage goes.”

“Does your presence harm the person in any way?” questioned Percival.

“They have no idea I’m there and never will.”

“Do we need to watch for anything?”

Merlin answered for his friend. “It will look like he’s gone into a trance. If the guards come, we’ll just have to make up a story.”

“You sound like you’ve had practice,” commented Gwaine.

“I had to help cover for him until Arthur found out.” And I’m still covering about him coming from the future.

“Okay, then.”

Merlin watched as Alan made himself comfortable on the floor. He then stilled, his breathing almost imperceptible. It was still strange to him, seeing Alan in this state. To trust Merlin while he was in such a vulnerable state spoke volumes of the man’s character. To earn the respect and friendship of overly-protective armed men in a matter of days was a rare thing. The knights were always watching out for him and Arthur and Alan had slipped right into that circle.

“Merlin?”

“Hmm. What?” He looked up to see Alan watching him with concern.

“You seemed more in a trance than I was.”

“Just thinking. Do you know which would be the best way out?”

“I think so. This poor guy only knew his orders, not what others were doing. You might have to help a bit.”

“I’ll do what I can.”

“All right then. Let’s get going. We don’t have much time.” Alan rubbed his hands together in anticipation before leaving the cell.

Merlin rolled his eyes and followed.

Twelve

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