What Goes Around Comes Around
As Merlin turned his mount onto the road that would take him back past the village, he was not far from the turnoff for Burrell's tavern inn when he saw the unappealing girl who had waited on him earlier standing along the roadside. When she saw him approaching she moved out into his path, forcing Merlin to slow his horse to a stop.
"Get what ye needed from Alice, did ye?" she asked bluntly.
Knowing it was none of her business, he did not reply but merely nodded curtly, and made to ride on around her, but she intercepted him again by moving into his way.
"What do you want, Bertha?" he asked, frowning down at her. He'd heard Cyrus Burrell call her that while Merlin was at the tavern and had realized this aggressive and annoying girl was his daughter.
She seemed pleased that he knew her name, but replied slyly, "Ye were there a long time. Far too long than it would take ta just get something fer yer ailing master, I'm thinkin'. Find Alice pretty, did ye? Most men do. Wonder what her father would say or do if he knew ye were there fer so long."
Merlin could see the jealous spite in her small pale eyes, and suddenly recalled seeing this same girl on the roadside near the tavern when he'd returned from Camelot in the other time line with disastrous news and found Arthur had also taken a turn for the worse as well. It was not long after that when Abersol and his men had appeared at Godwin's cottage, demanding to search it.
Now Merlin knew without a doubt who had set the vicious red-bearded knight onto his and Arthur's trail, which in turn endangered the lives of Alice and her father—and for one brief, dark moment the young warlock envisioned turning Bertha Burrell into a fat ugly rat just as he had done to Abersol and his servant spy.
But he and Bertha were out in broad daylight in full view should someone come along, and he knew he could not do that as much as he might wish it. So instead he smiled pleasantly into her smug chubby face, and with a slight wave of his hand muttered, "Tupomia lebenum esperin nadatorium." ("You shall not remember seeing me on the road just now.") And then he added another spell before urging his horse on around and past the now-dazed and silent Bertha.
As Merlin cantered away he could not help but grin with satisfaction at the mischief he'd done to the tavern keep's odious (and odorous) daughter: he'd cast a flatulence spell on her that would last for months, and one that was guaranteed to *erupt* long and loudly at the most humiliating and public moments.
And if Bertha should seek out Alice for a remedy, the other girl would realize immediately that the excessive smelly intestinal problem was the result of a spell….and that it was Merlin's doing; and thus the astute Alice would guess her gentle lover's reasons for casting such an embarrassing spell—and would now know, as Merlin did, that it was Bertha Burrell who had been the one to betray them all to Abersol and his men in the other time line.
Alice would then look Bertha straight in the eye and *sadly* tell her that she had nothing to prescribe to help permanently get rid of the persistent problem other than suggest she drink more chamomile tea and less ale (which actually would make little difference in this case)...and then would send the tavern keep's disagreeable daughter on her unhappy—and noisy—way.
Author's Notes: Hi, and thank you so much again for reading and/or reviewing!
A good point was brought up that if Alice didn't remember Merlin, perhaps he could have convinced her who he was by describing the pendant. I did give that some thought before writing that last chapter.
Time line changes can get tricky, as Merlin would have known. In this current and correct time line, Alice may not have the pendant since it and the crystal had served their purpose. Or if she still had it, her mother's spell in it would likely have *edited* it to still convey a private message of love to her daughter, but erased the part about Arthur and Emrys, as that would no longer be necessary or of use. And if Merlin tried to tell her he knew she also had magic abilities, that would likely also not have gone well as the point of Alice and her father relocating to where they were was to protect her from anyone knowing her secret or whereabouts. So Merlin chose the wiser path, which was to stay silent if Alice had not recognized or remembered him, as hard as that would have been for him to do.
He did not remember Bertha at first because he was too focused on speaking to Godwin, plus the innkeeper's daughter was not in a familiar place to him. In the previous time line he'd only seen her briefly by the roadside, and even then he was consumed with what he'd discovered in Camelot. So he'd barely noticed Bertha; and only seeing her again standing in the road had triggered that previous memory.
Will Alice and Merlin ever meet again? In Merlin's world, anything is possible...