Gaius, the court physician of Camelot, the post he has been filling for the last twenty one years could safely say that he knew the crown prince of Camelot well. After all, he has watched Arthur grow up since the night he was born, through his best and worst of times that now included the bite of Questing Beast he miraculously survived. He knew all the faces that accompanied different moods and he could say that some facial expressions Arthur mastered so well came from him.
So when Merlin showed up only an hour after he left for work with Arthur not far behind him, he knew very well that the boys were up to something but he was yet to determine who came up with idea to bother him now when he was in the middle of mixing new remedies. Though on the closer introspect, he guessed it was Arthur’s idea because Merlin was well aware that Gaius liked to have his peace and quiet when he was working on remedies.
“Good morning sire.” Gaius greeted though he did not peel his eyes of the vial he was currently holding over small burner.
“Gaius.” Arthur greeted respectively and followed Merlin’s example of sitting down on the bench that faced Gaius.
“Can I be of help, sire?” Gaius asked in his best I-am-busy-so-be-quick tone of voice.
“Perhaps…About two months ago when we were in Ealdor…”Gaius remembered that event very well, seeing as Uther stormed in here almost as angry as the day he announced Great Purge because his son and ward were missing. “We met an old friend of Merlin’s. Princes of Solascoill, Anwen Averay.”
Inwardly, Gaius could already see where this was going but he hoped it wasn’t so because he could not deny the truth to Arthur and yet if Uther found out, Gaius would be in serious trouble.
“Yes, Merlin told me once he met her when they were children.” Gaius admitted.
“When we parted, she told me to ask you about her mother, princes Inis. Do you know her?” Arthur eyed the physician closely, the look that seemed to be inherited from his father but Gaius said nothing and sighed a bit.
“Gaius…” Merlin drawled his plea a bit; he too wanted to know what Gaius knew about Anwen’s mother.
Even though they were good friends and wrote each other almost every month, Merlin did not know all the details of her family neither he wanted to. If there was something Anwen wanted to keep to herself, who was he to dispute it. Realizing he was trapped and that two young men won’t stop pestering him until he slipped, Gaius set the vial with brownish liquid in the vial rack on the table and took a seat, eying them both with what Merlin came to call the wise, teaching face that forced you to remember what he said letter to letter.
“What I am going to tell does not leave these walls. Is that clear Arthur?” Gaius pierced the young prince with the most serious, sharpest look he could come up with, making the said prince inwardly cringe and remember the time when he was seven and accidentally broke the physician’s empty vials.
To say the least, Gaius was not pleased and Uther made Arthur, despite being a prince and heir to the throne of Camelot, clean up every inch of the floor in Gaius’ chambers until it was sparkling clean.
“If your father finds out what I am about to tell you, I will be in serious trouble.”
“You have my word.” Arthur promised solemnly and rubbed his still slightly aching shoulder which was not missed by Merlin.
“Very well…” Gaius sighed once again and closed his eyes for a moment to gather his memories together.
“As you may know, Solascoill is a greatly respected kingdom of magic ruled by King Galen Averay, Anwen’s grandfather. Everyone knows that. But only few, including myself and your father, know that princess Inis who is Anwen’s mother belonged to the House of de Bois before she married prince Airell.” Gaius gave Arthur knowing look when the prince’s eyes went wide at the recognition of the family name.
“You are saying…”
“I am not saying. I know because I met lady Inis before she left for Solascoill. Lady Inis was the youngest of four siblings and was very close to her sister Ygraine, your mother. Unlike Ygraine and two of their brothers, Inis inherited their father’s gift of magic and was taught how to control it from the young age by the druids. This alone was reason why Inis left Camelot with Airell who has lived on this court for quite sometime before the Purge began since his father, king Galen, encouraged his son to deepen the relationship of friendship he had with Uther despite their age difference.”
“Did she leave before or after I was born?” Arthur asked, interrupting the physician.
“The morning after. Your father was mad with grief and Inis feared firstly for the safety of her unborn child so the couple packed in a hurry and left before Uther even noticed. Princess Anwen, your cousin, was born to my knowledge exactly two months later.”
“When we met, I had this feeling I should know her.”
“You two do look alike. Everyone back in Ealdor noticed.”
“Is that why my father never told me about her? Because of magic?”
“Arthur, you know how your father feels about magic. Imagine that he has to admit that through you he has family that has magic. He sees that as highest form of humiliation.” Gaius explained.
“But I have seen what Anwen can do…Surely not everything my father has told me about magic is true.” If he only knew how these words affected the young man sitting beside him, looking at him with hopeful eyes even though Arthur did not see it.
“That Arthur…is for you to decide. Now if you two gentlemen would excuse me…” Gaius spoke as he stood up again. “I really need to finish these remedies.”
“Yes of course. Come on Merlin, I am pretty sure there is something I can find for you to do.” Arthur immediately shot up, using his best prattish tone to get Merlin to follow him even though his mind was occupied with completely different things than ones of prince’s duties.