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A Word for Forgotten Songs (11/?)

Title: A Word for Forgotten Songs
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Uther, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Leon, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 1,126 (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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Alan made it back to Camelot and did everything in reverse. He slipped into Gwen’s home to find both of his allies waiting for him. “A successful outing, then?”

“Yes,” Alan replied as Gwen unfastened his chainmail. “They’re bringing back most of them.”

“Most?” Gwen questioned as she left Alan to change.

“There was an…engagement.” He slipped into his other clothes. “How about you? I take it the plan went well.”

“Yes, no one gave ‘you’ a second glance.”

“Great. Thank you, Gwen.” He looked at Gaius. “We’d better head back.”

As they walked back, Gaius talked of the patients they had visited, but in such a way like he talking to himself, not filling Alan in on what he missed and might need to know.

Once back in Gaius’ rooms, Alan wiped his face of any dirt accumulated in the woods. It wouldn’t do to be brought down by something so simple. They then set about replenishing the stores. That’s how Merlin found them.

“Hey, Merlin. How did it go out there?”

Merlin hesitated a moment as if he were about to ask why, but then realized it was all part of the act. “We got the bandits. The ones we brought back are in the dungeon. Uther plans to question them tomorrow.”

“Letting them sit overnight will play on their nerves,” Gaius said as he corked a vial of valerian.

“But it could also give them time to create a story or harden themselves against breaking.”

“Uther will resort to torture of they won’t talk,” stated Gaius with distaste.

“But what if they tell the truth? What if they say I was the one they were after?”

“Would Uther have any reason to suspect you?”

“For Uther, just the idea of magic existing within Camelot, let alone Arthur’s servant, would be enough for Merlin’s execution.” Gaius looked at Alan. “This could also turn bad for you. If the bandits tell of the effect of the poison, then Uther will know the cause of your illness.”

“So we need to direct the questioning towards whoever sent them and away from the why. Or, failing that, try to discredit the one who sent them.”

Merlin sat at the table. “How do we do that?”

“You’ll most likely be there, if not for the questioning itself, for the discussion afterwards. Merlin, you’ll have to work on Arthur, asking questions without coming across as too suspicious. Gaius, you’ll counsel the king and try to keep him from acting rashly.”

“What about you?”

“Most likely stuck here with an armed guard at the door. Uther won’t want me to hear anything that goes down and he won’t want me unchaperoned, so the easiest way to deal with me would be to keep me in one place.”

They talked more of their plans over a quick dinner before Merlin had to go to Arthur.

****************

The next morning, Merlin brought Arthur his breakfast as usual only to find the prince already awake. It was unusual, not having to drag him from the bed. Unfortunately, it meant something was weighing on his mind. Merlin set the tray on the table as Arthur dressed.

“Merlin, what do you make of Alan?”

“Make of him?”

“Yes, Merlin. It’s not too hard a concept to grasp. Do you believe he is capable of putting on an act like this to gain my favor?”

Merlin thought hard on what to say. “Yes, I believe he is capable, but I do not believe that is what he’s doing here. I believe he has shown you the same loyalty and respect as any knight would. Is this why you are up so early?”

“I just don’t believe he has any part of this. It was just coincidence that he happened to arrive at the same time as the attack.” Arthur looked at Merlin. “You’re right. He has been acting like a knight and I can’t let this treatment of him continue. I’m going to confront my father about it.”

His mind was made up and Merlin knew it would only lead to harsh words and rash decisions. “Perhaps you should try to get the bandits to admit Alan isn’t with them. I’m sure that under the inquisitor’s ‘techniques’, they’ll know it to be true.”

“Of course. No one can hold out against that.” Arthur brightened. “We can find out who sent them as well. That attack on us was arranged. Why else would they have poisoned swords?” He sat at his table and tucked into his breakfast. “How’s he taking all this?”

Merlin continued picking up dirty clothes from the floor. “He knows that there’s nothing he can do right now that won’t endanger his already precarious position. He’s resigned to waiting in Gaius’ rooms.”

“Really? He won’t be sneaking out again?”

Merlin grinned. “I don’t think so. Although, I doubt he would have told me if he were.”

“Probably not. I’ll make sure the guards are aware he’s done nothing wrong, that it’s just a precaution. We have no proof he’s done anything, so there’s no need to treat him like a criminal.” There was a knock on the door. “Enter.”

A guard stepped into the room. “Sire, the king desires your presence.”

With a sigh, Arthur took another bite of food, wiped his mouth and stood. Merlin made to follow. Arthur looked like he was about to stop him, but simply shook his head and motioned for him to come along. Merlin fell in behind his friend.

They arrived at the throne room. Uther was there with his advisors – including Gaius – and raised an eyebrow at Merlin’s presence but said nothing. “One of the bandits is willing to talk but will only do so in my presence. I want you to be there.”

“We need to find out who sent them,” Arthur said to his father as they walked to the dungeon. “Cure the disease instead of just treat the symptoms.”

Gaius chuckled at the analogy. It was rather apt. If they executed the bandits, more would be sent. IF they learned who was behind this, they would be able to stop it. Merlin would also hopefully find out how they learned about his magic.

Uther looked at his son. “And you think they know who hired them?”

“We could get a description or even a location. At least that would be something.”

“We’ll see what he reveals.”

When they reached they cells, Arthur motioned for him to stay outside and Merlin didn’t argue. He didn’t want to see the condition the man was in and he didn’t want the bandit to see him in case he would blurt out the truth.

“I am told you have something to share with me.”

Merlin held his breath.


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