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Wild Winter Stars (4/?)

Title: Wild Winter Stars
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Gwaine, Percival, Mordred, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 746
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.

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It didn’t take long for Alan to fall asleep after telling his story. Merlin was amazed that he was still with them. He knew Alan’s mind was different, stronger, but this was more like strength of will. He never gave Morgana what she wanted. There weren’t many who could claim that after a day, let alone months.

Arthur looked at the sleeping figure. “Why would Morgana do such a thing to someone she hasn’t seen in five years? It’s not like he had anything to do with what happened.”

“I think it was mainly because of the Seal,” Gaius said. “It was when she learned of his magic that she went as far as she did with the torture. It was his loyalty to you and Camelot that drove her.”

“But why would someone with magic be loyal to Camelot considering… everything?”

Merlin looked at Gaius before turning to the prince. “Because of you, Arthur. You learned Alan had magic and didn’t turn him over to your father. You knew the kind of man he was hadn’t changed because you found out. It was your trust in him that strengthened his belief in you.”

Arthur stared at Merlin. “You really do make the most impassioned speeches right when I need to hear them. Thank you.” He strode to the door, purpose in his step.

“You can’t go after her,” Gaius called.

Arthur stopped and turned around. “I wasn’t--”

“You have no idea where to look. Alan was unconscious and can’t give you a location. The castle could be anywhere.”

“Rushing off after her is just what she wants you to do,” added Merlin. “The message was that she doesn’t care about the Seal. She knows that you would be honor-bound to defend Camelot as well as the bearer of the Seal. You can’t just go after her. You need to plan.”

Merlin could see the immediate need to fight drain from Arthur. Keeping Morgana from getting what she wanted would make her more reckless.

“I can’t risk my men on impulse,” he acceded. “Why is it I get better advice from you two than my so-called advisors?”

“Because we tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear,” responded Gaius.

“That’s certainly true of Merlin. I never want to hear what he has to say.” He smiled. “I’m going to tell Gwen everything and then start gathering information on Morgana. She was right about one thing: I can’t let that go.” He left the room.

Merlin went over to Alan and whispered a small spell to help relieve the pain as he rested his hand on the man’s shoulder. He hadn’t mastered the actual healing yet. The bandage for the burn peeked out from under the blanket. What had Morgana said about it? “So everyone will know you are a traitor to our kind.”

Anyone who sided with Camelot against magic was fair game in Morgana’s eyes. For someone with magic to do so was the worst betrayal of all. What would she do if she ever discovered Arthur knew about Alan? That would just put her over the edge. She would demand to know why he hadn’t stood up to Uther back then. If Arthur had done so, perhaps Morgana could have had training and understanding instead of fear. There were moments when Merlin regretted not telling her about his own magic. He took a deep breath. That was something he could no longer change. She was beyond his reach now and he could only do his best to defend against her.

“Merlin, if you keep that up, he won’t be feeling anything for weeks.” Gaius cut into his thoughts.

He looked down to see his hand still resting on Alan and pulled it back. He then walked slowly over to where Gaius was mixing some new medicine. “Gaius…

“Can you reach me the valerian root?”

“Do you think things would have turned out differently had we helped Morgana?” he asked as he handed the other man the container of the root.

“Perhaps, but she might have turned you over to Uther to save her secret. We can never be certain when talking of ‘might haves’. I know you feel responsible for what happened to Morgana, but now you save the rest of Camelot from her. That is what you must concentrate on.”

Knowing Gaius was right, Merlin emptied his mind and focused on the task in front of him.

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