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Wild Winter Stars 14/?

Title: Wild Winter Stars
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Gwaine, Percival, Mordred, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 733
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 Eleven Twelve Thirteen

Alan woke the next morning to his stomach growling. Hunith was stirring a pot over the fire. With so little room in the hut, Percival and Gwaine had slept in the communal barn. Merlin must have gone to get them.

Hunith smiled when she saw he was awake. “Good morning. Is there anything you need?”

“Not at the moment. I do have a question, however. Why did you send Merlin to Camelot, the heart of a kingdom that bans magic?”

“I knew that Gaius would be the best to train him, to help him keep his powers under control. He was so impulsive with his magic, using it for any little thing. And now, because of his friendship, King Arthur is contemplating changing the law.”

“And Arthur still doesn’t know the truth. That could be a blow to the friendship, having waited so long.”

“He has accepted you,” Hunith countered.

“That’s different. He barely knows me. He’s let Merlin into his life, confided in him. The longer he puts if off, the more difficult it will be.”

With nothing left to say, Hunith let the discussion drop. Merlin and the knights soon returned and Alan asked for assistance so he could use the privy. It was also a chance to test his strength.

“How are you feeling?” Merlin asked when they were outside.

“Much better than yesterday. I think I should be able to ride by tomorrow.”

“That would be good if we had horses.”

“I’m sure Arthur has already sent knights to meet us and bring us back to Camelot.” Alan shut the privy door.

“It takes two days on horseback,” Merlin said loudly to be heard through the door.

“Well then,” Alan opened the door, “it’s a good thing I’ll be ready when they get here tomorrow.” He wiped his hands against his trousers. What I wouldn’t give for some antibacterial hand sanitizer. He started walking slowly on his own.

* * *

“Even so, you’ll still need rest as well as exercise to build up strength.” Merlin followed. “Though you seem to be doing well now.”

“I’m hungry for real cooking, not something found along the trail.”

After breakfast, Merlin checked Alan’s leg and put salve on it.

Gwaine looked over his shoulder. “Wow, that looks like it’s weeks old, not days. I guess your magic helps you heal quicker.”

“Yes, magic. And Gaius’ salves,” Alan replied.

“Why don’t you get some rest? When you wake, we’ll do some more walking.”

“Fine. Don’t do anything exciting while I’m asleep,” he said as he got comfortable on the bed.

“I don’t think you have any worry on that score,” grinned Gwaine.

Merlin smacked his friend lightly on the arm. “Is there anything we can help with, Mother?”

“I’m sure there are a few things to keep you all occupied.”

True to her word, his mother had them help patch roofs, collect firewood, put up new fencing and help in the fields. In-between, Merlin worked with Alan, building up his strength and healing.

That night everyone was exhausted. Even Gwaine was too tired to joke. “You do this every day?”

Hunith nodded.

“You have my respect, ma’am.”

“The fence should be finished tomorrow,” said Percival. “There won’t be any more escaping cows.”

“You have all been a marvellous help. You have saved us days of work.” She banked the fire, preparing it for the night.”

“C’mon, back to the barn before I’m too tired to move.” Gwaine rose to his feet. “Thank you for a lovely meal.”

“Good night.” Percival bowed his head slightly and followed Gwaine out the door.

Merlin helped his mother prepare the hut for the night and checked Alan’s leg once again. “This is healing faster than I thought it would.”

“Too bad you can’t take credit,” Alan said.

“As long as the right people know.”

“And I thank you.” He turned to Merlin’s mother. “And I thank you for opening your home and giving up your bed.”

“You are a friend of Merlin’s,” she answered as if that was all that needed to be said.

“He has been a good friend to me, welcoming a stranger into his life.”

“He’s always had a soft heart.” She retreated to her pallet.

“ ‘He’ is right here.”

“And he cannot take a joke,” teased Alan.

“Just…go to sleep.” He blew out the candles and settled down on his blanket for the night.

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