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A Word for Forgotten Songs (9/?)

Title: A Word for Forgotten Songs
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Uther, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Leon, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 1,459 (this chapter)
Summary: A strange warrior arrives in time to save Arthur and Merlin from bandits. He is wounded and falls ill. As Gaius cares for the wound, he knows the blade was dipped in a potion that only affects those with magic. After he heals, Merlin talks with him of magic and Arthur spars with him. They then learn that the bandit attack was not random.
Author's Note: This has been sitting on my computer for over 3 years! It's still not done but I couldn't put off the posting any longer. 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 2, somewhat early on. It's unbeta'd so all mistakes are my own.

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Merlin stood to the side of the royal table where he could see if Arthur needed anything. Alan was sitting by Gaius. Merlin had been surprised that Uther had allowed him to come, especially after what he had accused Alan of. Alan had said it was probably because he didn’t want him left unattended. So here they were, pretending nothing had changed that afternoon.

Before the meal had begun, Arthur had introduced Alan to Morgana. “So you are the man everyone is talking about. Gwen told me the day you arrived. It seems you were at Death’s door.”

“Very nearly, m’lady. If not for Gaius, I’m sure I would not be here today.”

“We are all pleased and grateful that you were there for Arthur.”

Merlin could tell she had been saying what was expected. It was almost as if she were trying to convince herself.

Now, during the feast, she sat to Uther’s left and smiled and acted prettily as any lady in her position would. Merlin could see she was hurting and scared. Whether it was of her powers or what Uther would do if he found out, Merlin wasn’t sure. He still fought with the desire to tell her she wasn’t alone, that he knew what she was going through. The fact that she was Uther’s ward would open him to unnecessary risks.

Alan knew of her, knew she was a witch, which is what the Great Dragon had been calling her all along. Merlin shivered.

[Merlin, Arthur wants you.]

Merlin looked at the prince and hurried over to refill his wine. As he poured, he looked at Alan who was smiling at him over his goblet. He could speak with his mind like Mordred and the Druids! Merlin wondered if such a talent was widespread in Alan’s time. [Thank you.] Alan nodded and returned to his meal.

Uther stood. “This afternoon we received word that the bandits who attacked Prince Arthur have been seen near Howden. Tomorrow, Arthur and a group of knights will venture forth to find these miscreants and deal with them. We will not take any such actions against the people of this kingdom lightly.”

Merlin saw the king glance at Alan, who looked him in the eye unwavering. Didn’t he know you don’t do that to a king? Uther then made a toast to a successful foray.

Later that night, while turning down Arthur’s sheets, Merlin asked what time he should be there in the morning. “I know you’ll want us to get an early start.”

“’Us’, Merlin?” Arthur threw his shirt to the floor. “What ‘us’?”

“I’ve been with you on every successful trip outside the castle,” he answered. “I’m like your good luck charm.” Arthur merely raised an eyebrow. “Okay. I was there when the bandits attacked and I want to be there this time. Especially since Alan can’t be,” he added.

“I want to leave as close to first light as possible. Do you think you can handle that?”

Merlin grinned. “I’ll make sure of it.”

Merlin returned to the rooms he shared with Gaius – and now Alan – to find both the physician and the soldier from the future sitting at the table reading dusty tomes by candlelight. “I didn’t expect you to be up.”

“I didn’t realize how late it was,” said Alan as he blinked a few times. “This makes interesting reading.”

Merlin looked over Alan’s shoulder and saw it was a book on different herbs and their uses for healing. “Right. Fascinating.”

“With all my traveling, I’m not always near medicine so it would be good to know what to do myself.” He looked to Gaius. “I might want to copy this.”

“Since you show such an interest, you may.”

Merlin knew he was always looking for the faster way, the quickest answer, and hadn’t been one for study, but to see Gaius approve Alan’s request like that hurt. “Well, I’ve got to get some sleep. Early start tomorrow.” He winced when he realized what he had said. “Sorry, Alan.”

“It’s fine, Merlin. We discussed this already.”

“So, Arthur’s letting you go along?” asked Gaius.

“I gave him a very convincing three-point argument. I think it was the last one that made him agree.”

“And what was that?”

“That I wanted to go because Alan couldn’t.” With a smile, he went up to his room.

******


Alan had gone to sleep with a smile and it was still there when he woke, though he had to act like he was resigned to staying in Camelot. He was nibbling on a piece of bread when Merlin rushed out of their shared room, his clothing all askew. Gaius handed him the satchel of food he had prepared.

“Thanks.”

“Be careful.”

“Always.” Merlin grinned and left.

“Sometimes I feel that boy will be the death of me.”

“But you wouldn’t change a thing.”

Gaius smiled. “Not at all. Shall we get started?”

Alan changed his clothes and when he returned, Gaius handed him a long cloak. “You might want to wear this. The weather outside is a little inclement.”

Alan smiled and put on the cloak. A perfect fit. He picked up the back containing the tinctures, potions and poultices for all the patients Gaius had for the day.

They started making the rounds and Alan got some strange looks. Word had spread quickly of what the king thought of him. It reminded Alan of his forced retirement when everyone had thought the worst of him. He just stayed in the background and let Gaius do all the talking. The man had a wonderful bedside manner.

The last stop in the castle was to give Lady Morgana some more sleeping draught. She smiled as she received the bottle. “Thank you, Gaius. It has been such a help.”

“Where is Guinevere, my lady?”

“She wasn’t feeling well, so I told her to go home a get some rest. Perhaps you can stop in and see her.”

“Thank you for telling us, my lady. We’ll see her first thing.” Gaius turned and headed for the door.

“Alan.”

“M’lady?”

“I’m glad to see you going about with your day as if nothing has happened. Uther was wrong in keeping you from going with Arthur. Don’t let his opinions change yours on those of Camelot.”

“Though he is the king, he is only one man and I know one man’s opinion is not that of the whole kingdom. Perhaps that is something we should all keep in mind. Good day, m’lday.” He bowed his head and followed after Gaius.

Outside, he pulled the hood over his head and hunched a little. He followed the physician to Gwen’s home. “Was that wise, what you said to Morgana?”

“Merlin said she’s just come into her powers. She’s obviously scared and needs to realize that not everyone thinks as Uther does when it comes to ‘magic’.”

“She does have the extra burden of being Uther’s ward. I sometimes think of what would have happened to Merlin had his mother not sent him to me.”

Gaius knocked on the door of Gwen’s home. After a hoarse “Come in” from Gwen, they stepped inside and closed the door. Gwen smiled when she saw them and motioned for Alan to go to the room in the back set aside for sleeping. Laid out on the pallet were chainmail armor and a red cloak with a gold dragon.

“Did you have any trouble getting it?” Alan asked as she removed his damp cloak.

“Morgana helped. When she heard what Uther did, she couldn’t do enough.” Gwen joined Alan and helped him dress.”

“She’s always stood up for the weak, feeling Uther’s policies are too harsh.”

“Something like that could get her in trouble. I’ve a feeling Uther will only allow so much before he lashes out somehow.” He tugged at his tunic. “How do I look?”

“Very…chivalrous,” answered Gaius as he paused in placing medicine bottles on the table.

Alan helped Gwen put on his abandoned cloak. “Are you okay with this?”

“Yes, I am. I wouldn’t have offered otherwise.”

“We’d better go,” said Gaius. “Then we can honestly say we didn’t see him leave.”

After they had gone, Alan slipped out the back and headed through the lower town to where a horse was waiting for him. He mounted before focusing his mind on Merlin to learn his location. He then summoned the energy and transported himself and the horse to an area a little ahead of them.

Once they passed, Alan quietly joined them. As Arthur and Merlin were at the front, he stayed to the back. He wanted to make sure they were too far out should Arthur take it into his head to send him back.


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