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Wild Winter Stars (5/?)

Title: Wild Winter Stars
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Gwaine, Percival, Mordred, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 1.034
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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Alan returned to consciousness slowly. There was no pain. Thank you, Merlin! He heard the rustling of fabric and opened his eyes. Across the room, Gwen was pouring a cup of water. He instinctively swallowed, imagining that cold water in his throat. He was thankful it didn’t feel like it was on fire anymore but knew he still couldn’t talk.

Gwen turned and blushed when she noticed him looking. “Alan, you’re awake!” She walked over with the cup. “Gaius had some patients to see and Merlin is with Arthur so I volunteered to stay with you. Is there anything else you need? Anything I can get you?”

Alan eyed the cup of water in her hand.

“Oh, of course. Let me help you.” She gently raised his head and held the cup to his lips so he could drink. “Do you want me to prop you up a little bit? Gaius said you could at a slight angle because of your ribs.” She put a few pillows behind him as she kept talking. “I’m sorry I didn’t come by sooner, but Arthur said you were either in pain or asleep most of the time. If this is what you look like now, I can only imagine what you looked like when you were found. I mean, they thought you were near death. At least that’s what Gwaine said.”

Alan smiled as he leaned back. [Breathe, Gwen.]

She stopped talking and just stared at him. Oh, God, had he overstepped?

“Arthur told me everything,” she said after a pause. “It’s an odd experience, hearing someone’s voice in your head. It may take some getting used to.”

[It took some getting used to on this end as well.]

“You didn’t always have the ability?”

[Not until I was 30. I had a prophetic dream. After that I learned I could do other things and found someone to train me.]

“You were lucky. I think if Morgana had had someone to help her, things might have gone differently.”

[I believe it goes back to Uther. If he hadn’t turned against magic and had told her the truth, than she wouldn’t have turned like she did.]

“You know that Uther was her father?”

[She might have said something before the torture started,] he said to cover his slip-up. [So, tell me about your life since I left. I’ve heard of some major changes, Your Majesty.]

They talked of some new projects Arthur had started to help the outlying villages. There were very few conflicts with other kingdoms which allowed for prosperity and peace.

Merlin is well on the way to his destiny, Alan thought. Now he just has to get Arthur to change the laws against magic. [I’m sure you’ve had a hand in that,] he told her. [Knowing how they live and the way they think gives a different perspective from all the nobles he sees everyday.]

“I wouldn’t say…”

[You don’t have to. You and Merlin both keep him grounded. You’ve made him see life beyond himself.]

“Well, meeting you has shown him about magic. I think that might have been around the time he started wondering.”

[But couldn’t say anything because of Uther.]

“It will still take some time, but I believe Arthur is willing to change the laws regulating magic.”

[As long as he’s willing to listen to all sides, he’ll be able to make an informed decision.]

“Can’t you stay? Arthur would appreciate your counsel.”

Alan knew he couldn’t refuse. [I’ll stay until I’ve worn out my welcome.]

“Thank you.” She gently took his hand.

Gaius opened the door and Gwen hastily withdrew her hand. “Gwen, I’m not going to tattle for your giving comfort to the sick.” He set his basket of medicine on the table. “You’re looking much better, Alan. How are you feeling?”

[Surprisingly free of pain,] he responded so both could hear. [Whatever you’ve been giving me is near miraculous.]

Gaius just waved his comments away. “Thank you, Gwen, for sitting with him.”

“It was my pleasure. I welcome the chance to be just Gwen. It makes a break from having to be Queen.”

[Thank you, Gwen. Feel free to take a break any time.]

“I will. I’ll also tell Arthur the good news.”

Alan watched her go, a smile on his face.

“You do realize her husband could have you killed,” stated Gaius.

[Yeah, but he won’t.] He looked back to the physician. [How were your rounds?]

“Word has gotten around about you. Most remember your last visit and believe that’s why you were beaten.” He sat on the chair by the bed, ready to put fresh salve on the burn. “What was the good news Gwen was going to tell Arthur?”

[So no one outside the castle knows about Morgana’s part in this?] He deliberately ignored the question.

“Alan.” Gaius really had that stern father-voice down.

[Gwen asked me to stay and advise Arthur in regards to the laws on magic. I couldn’t say no. I hope this won’t put Merlin in jeopardy.]

“I think with Arthur knowing you can do magic might free up Merlin a little bit.” He finished re-bandaging the burn and crossed the room. “Why did she ask you?”

[She said that Arthur had begun to think differently on magic after my visit. She believes that I am proof that magic doesn’t change a person.]

“And will you stay?” Gaius asked as he heated some broth over a low flame.

[I have to recover so why not?] The aroma from the broth made its way over to him and his stomach growled.

Gaius chuckled as he walked back with the bowl. “At least we know your appetite is good.” He raised the spoon to Alan’s lips.

[When do I get solid food?] He swallowed.

“I’d give your throat another day. We’ll have to start off easy with porridge or oatmeal.” He continued feeding Alan.

Alan was not looking forward to porridge but it was definitely a step up from broth. Between Gaius and Merlin, he’d be out of the room in no time. Maybe he could tell them about wheelchairs. Just as he was nodding off, he realized Gaius had done it again.

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