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Wild Winter Stars (2/?)

Title: Wild Winter Stars
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Gwaine, Percival, Mordred, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 1,555
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



Alan woke in agony, every nerve in his body on fire. He wanted to scream but couldn’t. He had done all his screaming while being tortured on Morgana’s orders. He had nothing left. Soon there was a hand at the back of his head raising him gently. Then there was a cup of water pressed to his lips. It was odd-tasting but it felt wonderful against his parched throat. He sank back into oblivion.

When he woke again, the pain was only a dull ache compared to earlier. He slowly opened the one eye he could. The sun was streaming through a high window. He looked around the room and saw shelves crowded with different sized jars and large leather-bound books. The smell of fresh herbs permeated the room. He smiled, knowing exactly where he was. Of course Morgana would leave him here as a message – a warning – for her brother.

Alan then noticed he was alone. It wasn’t like Gaius to leave a patient unattended. He was thinking about “calling” Merlin when the physician entered carrying a small crock.

“Alan, you’re awake. I’m sorry I wasn’t here, but Arthur wanted an update.” He set the small pot on the table. “I also stopped by the kitchen for some broth since you won’t be ready for solid food just yet.” He gathered up some supplies and sat on the chair by the bed. “Let me check your bruises and cuts.” Gaius lowered the blanket.

Alan blanched at the sight of his torso. It appeared that no surface area was left untouched. Holy crap! He hadn’t really been in the position to notice before. [This is what it looks like after healing? I must’ve been a mess.]

“The poor farmer who found you thought you were near death and wanted me to make it painless for you. It was a good thing Merlin was on his way out,” Gaius said as he put salve on the bruises.

[Why was he going out? Was he with Arthur?]

“No, he was with one of the knights. Once he saw it was you, he sent word to Arthur. I’m going to check on your burn and it may hurt when I remove the bandage.”

Alan nodded. He had forgotten when Morgana had ordered that the seal of Camelot be branded onto his chest. “'So everyone will know you are a traitor to our kind'.”

He winced as Gaius removed the bandage and then sighed as the cool air brushed against it. [You didn’t answer my question.]

Gaius peered at the burn and gently touched the outer edge. “He had a feeling that someone he knew was hurt and was on his way to see his mother.”

[It makes sense that he didn’t think of me.] Alan looked at Gaius and could see more lines on his face. [How long has it been?]

“Almost six years.” The physician applied a salve that smelled of honey, lavender and peppermint. “Arthur is now king and married to Gwen.” He placed a new bandage over the burn.

Alan smiled as best he could with a busted face. [I heard that during my way here. What about Merlin? Does anyone else know?]

“There are only two that I’m aware of. One is a young boy with magic of his own and the other is a High Priest of the Old Religion. Neither will tell.”

[I can’t believe he’s kept his secret this long.] He fought off a yawn. [Tell me more. What do people think of Arthur as king?]

“You’ll have enough time to learn all that later.” Gaius pulled the blanket back up to his shoulders. “Why don’t you get some rest and you can talk more when you wake.”

[That was a waking-up yawn, not a going-to-sleep yawn.] Alan’s stomach chose that moment to growl.

“Let’s get you some of that broth.” Gaius walked back to the table.

[Don’t you slip anything in that now,] he cautioned the physician. [I remember last time.]

“I think getting some nourishment into you is the priority right now,” he said as he ladled some broth into a bowl. “I’ll send word to Arthur and Merlin that you’re awake.” He started to make a detour for the door when Alan stopped him.

[Let me call Merlin.]

“If you’re up to it.”

[Merlin!]

[Alan! You’re awake!]

[I’m not sure for how long a Gaius is getting ready to feed me broth.]

[I’ll tell Arthur. Anything to get out of a council meeting.]

Alan laughed at Merlin’s excitement. [Merlin said they were going to end the council meeting] he told Gaius.

“That shouldn’t take too long. Let’s prop you up as much as possible without jostling those ribs.”

Alan was sitting back against pillows and cushions, a blanket wrapped about his shoulders, being spoon-fed when Merlin and Arthur rushed into the room. The astonished looks on their faces made him smile. He could see they were older – mainly in the face and eyes – but they looked so much younger in that moment.

“Alan, you look…better.”

“Arthur.” Gaius spared a look at his king. Alan could tell he was seeing him as a young boy, speaking before he thinks.

[Such a way with words, Arthur. Must come in handy when negotiating.]

Arthur stuttered. “How… What… I mean…”

Merlin laughed. “This surprises you? Did you forget what he can do?”

“Excuse me if I find it a little disconcerting to have someone’s voice projected into my head. Wait, how come you’re not surprised?”

“How do you think I knew when to leave for the tavern?”

“Why didn’t you tell me then?”

[You were about ready to kill me when Ayburn told you. After that, you didn’t want to witness anything because you would have to tell your father.] Alan grimaced as pain laced across his chest. Of course Gaius noticed.

“Your pain medicine is wearing off,” he stated.

[Let me just tell you what happened first and then you can give me something.]

The king, the physician and the sorcerer sat down to listen to his story that sounded too much like a fairy tale for his liking – especially when he wasn’t the knight in shining armor.

[It was a sunny day when I arrived…]

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