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Title: A Word for Forgotten Songs
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Uther, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Leon, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 1,296 (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 suddenly felt like Dorothy being told to get the Wicked Witch’s broom. He then tried to treat this as any mission and worked to get information. “Why were the prince and his servant attacked in the woods?”

“We periodically scry Camelot and the surrounding area for magic users. We got a strong reading and notified the bandits. The prince and his servant were the only ones in the forest at the time.”

Arthur looked at Alan.

“So you thought the prince or his manservant is a sorcerer?” Alan asked quickly before Arthur had a chance.

“Who better?” the man sipped his ale.

“When that didn’t work, you went after them again,” Merlin stated. “You provide ways to help other magic users leave, but this one you want to kill.”

“Because he is working with Uther.” The man spoke as if the reason was obvious. “The second attack was also due to strong magic user in the area. We weren’t expecting the prince to bring his knights.”

Alan avoided Arthur’s eye knowing the prince had put together the fact that the three of them were the only ones present at both times.

“I’ll pay you when the transaction is complete. I’ve already paid for your room and meal. You can start your journey in the morning. There will be horses waiting for you.” He slid a small cloth bag across the table. “The seal in here will provide you with clear passage through the kingdom. If anyone tries to stop you, show them this.”

Alan pulled the bag towards him and slipped it in his pocket to look at later. “And you expect the three of us to do what your group of bandits couldn’t – twice.”

“It shouldn’t be a problem with the magic available at this table.” With that, he finished his ale and left the tavern.

Alan looked at the prince and could see he was about to blow a gasket.

Merlin let out a sigh. “Not here. He’s paid for a room and we can talk without being overheard.”

Arthur glared at him but must have realized that any arguing would just bring about unwanted attention. He turned his back on Alan before stalking up the stairs.

Merlin watched him go. “He doesn’t even know which room.”

“That’s not exactly the point right now. He just wants away from me.”

The innkeeper gave Alan the key and told them which room was theirs. Alan passed the key to Merlin. “You’d better enter first to put his mind at ease. Oh, and if you know anything that will muffle our voices, I’d recommend you use it. Voices will be raised and real names will be used.”

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

Merlin preceded Alan up the stairs and spotted Arthur leaning against a wall, arms crossed. He looked up at Merlin’s approach but said nothing. Silently, Merlin unlocked the door and went inside, whispering a spell that would ensure their conversation would go unheard. He turned around to talk to Arthur, but the prince was still standing in the hall glaring at Alan. Alan, understanding Arthur’s reasons, entered the room first and stood in the center.

Arthur slammed the door shut behind him. “You!” he pointed at Alan. “My father was right about you. He said you were in league with the bandits.”

“An accusation which was proven false.” Alan remained calm. “The question of magic was never brought up.”

“I defended you to him!”

Merlin knew it was time to argue on behalf of Alan. For some strange reason, Arthur tended to listen to him. “He’s had ample opportunity to kill you if he wanted to. He could have turned you over downstairs once we were told you were a target.”

Arthur looked at him. “But he uses magic!” He said it slowly, most likely thinking it would make it easier to get through his thick head.

Merlin took a deep breath. It was time for some half-truths. “When I was growing up, I witnessed positive magic, mostly used for healing and farming.”

“Cenred allows magic, encourages it.”

“You’ve only been told about bad magic, the kind used to hurt or kill. Something must have turned your father against it. Though he’s never come out and said it, from what Gaius has told me, there used to be lots of magic in Camelot.”

“Magic is corruption,” stated Arthur. “It eats away at a person, no matter how good.” He looked at Alan, who had remained quiet. “Are you going to say anything in your defense?”

“Are you going to listen?” Alan kept his voice calm. “Yes, magic can corrupt just like any other form of power, but not everyone gives in to it. I was a soldier for years before I discovered what I could do. I don’t depend on it, using it only out of necessity when I’ve no other choice.”

Merlin watched Arthur as he paced. His stride no longer had that manic force behind it, but was more purposeful. His jaw no longer clenched tight so as to grind his teeth. Signs that he was listening. Alan continued in a soft voice like he was soothing a skittish horse.

“I have no reason to wish you – or anyone in Camelot – harm. You took in a complete stranger and treated me like a long-lost friend.”

“A friend that got put under armed guard.”

“Arthur, your father was only trying to protect the kingdom. He couldn’t be sure of Alan’s position.”

Arthur stopped pacing. “The only reason my father set you free is because he didn’t know about the magic. I’m not going to tell my father,” Arthur said as Merlin opened his mouth to protest. “I only have the word of someone who wants me dead. I haven’t seen you perform magic myself nor have any reliable witnesses come forth so I am willing to hold off until either of those conditions is met.”

“Thank you, Arthur.

“You saved my life twice and one of those was before you knew who I was. That has earned you some leeway. Besides, Merlin likes you and he’s a pretty decent judge of people.”

“You make me sound like a dog.” Merlin couldn’t help but grin at the compliment.

“Well, you do follow me around and eat my table scraps.” Arthur then looked at Alan. “As for you…”

Alan held up his right hand. “I swear to you that I will not leave this room without you or Merlin and no one will be under duress.”

Arthur studied Alan for a few moments, gauging his sincerity. He apparently liked what he saw because he kicked off his boots and flopped onto the bed by the door and closed his eyes. “Wake me in a few hours for the next watch.”

Merlin and Alan chatted about their travels and adventures until they could tell by Arthur’s breathing that he was asleep. “Why don’t you go ahead and get some rest?” Alan told Merlin. “I’ll take first watch.”

“Arthur won’t like it.”

“It’ll already be done by the time he wakes. Look, if I do anything now, it’ll only break what little trust there is and he’ll only hate magic more. Besides, if he wakes up and sees me, he’ll just say I put a spell on you to make you sleep. Don’t worry.”

Merlin was tired and knew Alan knew it. He should put up a little protest just so he really wouldn’t be lying when Arthur yelled at him in the morning. He had no reservations about Alan watching over them. He had that easy confidence that made you trust him, made you believe he would protect you to his last breath. Kind of like Arthur.

With a smile on his lips at the thought, Merlin drifted to sleep.


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