A/N: Hello all! Thanks a million for the all of the reviews of my last story. I really appreciate the feedback! Sorry that once again, I have no beta for this, but I hope you like this newest story anyway. :)

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Summary: Merlin meets a stow-away while helping a trader unload – one with fangs and venom.

The Stowaway

The covered wagon loaded with supplies wasn't such an unusual sight in Camelot in and of itself. Yes, it was larger than the normal carts and wagons that came and went from the castle, but it was the two men driving the horse-drawn cart that drew many people in the square to stop and stare in wide-eyed curiosity.

While it wasn't unusual for Camelot to receive visitors from distant kingdoms within their own land, these men were clearly from a place far, far removed from their country. Both men wore similar, long, white, linen robes, their heads adorned in bright, blue cloths that were intricately wrapped over their hair. Both men had similar dark skin and long, black beards, and the only thing that truly set them apart from each other was the fact that one man was at least a foot taller than the other.

They exchanged words between each other as the cart came to a stop and disembarked. No one knew what language they were speaking, but whatever it was, it wasn't English, Gaelic, Welsh or even the strange, guttural tongue of the Saxons that many of them had heard before. Wherever these men had come from, it had to have been very far indeed.

The people spoke amongst themselves; perhaps these men came from beyond the seas and from strange foreign lands like Rome or from one of those wild tribes of people that had invaded that mighty city and destroyed its Empire. Fear began to mingle with the people's curiosity. These men were an unknown element within their town and no one in the gathering crowd was brave enough or stupid enough to approach them.

Except for one man, that is.

Merlin broke away from the gaggle of people, almost forgetting that he was still holding a bucket of water meant for mopping the Prince's floor until he was next to the large, covered cart. He placed the bucket on the ground as the two men approached him.

"Uh … hello." Merlin began, wondering if either of the men understood what he was saying.

The two men looked at each other and spoke a few quick words that Merlin didn't think he would ever decipher even if he studied the language for years. It seemed that the men were bickering between each other over something, but when the slightly taller one pushed the smaller man forward, it looked as though he was going to be the one to do all the speaking.

As the man came closer, Merlin noted that despite the thick beard on the man's face, he was quite young, perhaps even the same age as himself.

"Ah … hello. We come … ah …" The man began carefully, his accented voice broken as he struggled to think of the words in English, "in peace. To trade. We have … goods from our country." He finished, nodding and smiling in relief to have gotten the words right.

"Oh …" Merlin trailed off. Dealing with traders was not a part of his job description and he wasn't sure what to do with them, but since it seemed that no one else was volunteering to speak with the traders, he would have to think of something. He'd have to find Arthur, he decided, but thankfully, the prince himself was already descending the steps and coming towards them with an air of regal authority followed by several armed knights, ready for anything.

"What is the meaning of this? Who are you? What are you doing in Camelot?" Arthur asked of the men with one part suspicion and one part curiosity.

"They're traders, Arthur, " Merlin explained before the men could say anything, eyeing the way the Prince's hand hovered over the sword at his hip, "Not invaders."

Arthur glared at his servant, "Obviously two men alone can't take on our army, Merlin, but I still need to know where they come from and what they are doing in the middle of the courtyard."

"How should I know?"

Arthur rolled his eyes, calling his servant an idiot without having to say the word "Why don't you ask since you seem to have developed such a rapport with them?"

Merlin shook his head and raised his hands in defense, "Not my job. I just clean your socks."

Arthur practically growled as he turned to the now confused foreigners, "I am Prince Arthur. I ask again, who are you and what is your business here?"

The young man Merlin had spoken with pointed to his chest to identify himself with an honest and friendly smile. "I am Fadil and this," he pointed to the taller man who stood silently, "is my brother, Anum. We come from country very far away … to trade." He gestured towards their cart, "We have much goods, medicines, spices … very fine … for your peoples. You find nowhere but with us."

Arthur appeared to be squinting as he struggled to understand the man through his thick accent, but he had also relaxed some as though he believed that the two men were indeed in Camelot merely for trading. "Alright, but you cannot stay here in the courtyard. Trade may only be done in the marketplace." Arthur slapped a hand onto Merlin's shoulders, "My servant here will show you where you may conduct your business."

"I will?" Merlin asked wryly.

"Of course, you will." Arthur grinned at having foisted yet another job on his servant's shoulders, "They're your new friends after all, it's the only polite thing to do."

Merlin shrugged, looking at the bucket of water he had filled before the arrival of the traders, "Well … at least that sounds better than scrubbing your floor."

"Don't worry, Merlin. You still get to do that when you get back."

Merlin mumbled under his breath something about prats and arrogance as he waved his hand and gestured for the traders to follow him. The taller of the two men, grabbed the reins of their horses and guided them to pull the cart towards the marketplace, while the younger man, Fadil, walked beside Merlin.

While the walk to the marketplace wasn't far, Merlin found that he was unable to resist filling the silence between them by asking some of the many questions circling his head about the foreigners.

"So … where do you both come from?"

Fadil smiled genuinely, "We come from city called Cairo. You hear of it?"

"Um … not really. What's it like?"

"It very different. Much … uh … how you say? Hot? There is very much sand and desert. Your country very cold, but nice. You have many trees and green. I like." Merlin decided that he rather liked the other young man as he struggled to find the right words in English to converse with him. Merlin could tell that Fadil was somewhat frustrated that his English skills weren't better as he seemed to want to say so much more, but just didn't know how.

"How long did it take for you to get here?"

Fadil sighed, "Many months."

"Wow … you must really miss your home. I know I would. I've can't even imagine leaving Camelot for so long."

"Yes … but I have my brother. He is home to me."

Their conversation drew to a close as they entered the marketplace and sought out a place big enough to accommodate their loaded wagon between the stalls. Without any words, the brothers began to set up, pulling a table out from the cart and unloading boxes filled with strange spices Merlin had never smelled before, some of them sweet, some of them pungent. There were trinkets, bolts of cloth, and various brewed tonics and medicines that Merlin was certain Gaius would want to inspect for himself.

"Can I help?" Merlin asked, feeling like a bit of a heel watching them work and not really looking forward to going back to the castle right away to clean Arthur's room.

Fadil spoke to Anum in their language as if asking for permission. The older brother nodded, looking towards Merlin with the first smile he had seen on the man's face since he met him.

Fadil came Merlin's way and gave a little bow, "I thank you. Most people … uh … afraid of us. You different - very kind."

"It's no problem, really." Merlin flushed a little at the praise just as Fadil motioned for him to follow him to the back of the wagon. The foreign man climbed up into the cart and pushed a heavy crate towards the back where Merlin stood waiting.

"This very heavy. You take side?"

Merlin nodded and Fadil pushed the crate towards him. Reaching out, Merlin grabbed one end of the crate and gripped it tight as Fadil jumped down from the wagon to take the other side. They lifted together and Merlin found himself surprised at just how heavy the box indeed was. He had severely underestimated just how tight he would have to grip his side and it didn't take long for him to lose it.

The crate suddenly began to pitch towards the side and no matter what Merlin or Fadil did, there was no way to stop its descent to the ground. With a loud crash, the wooden crate fell, breaking open upon impact and spilling its contents. The box had been filled with brass bowls which clanked, clattered and rolled everywhere while the straw that had been packed inside of it to protect the goods was sent flying out along with them.

Red faced and ashamed at his mistake, Merlin scurried to right the crate and gather the bowls again. "I'm sorry, Fadil," he sputtered, placing the bowls he had picked up back into the crate.

"It is alright." Fadil assured him, chasing after an errant bowl that rolled under the cart.

"No really, I should have held it tighter. You warned me that it was heavy." Merlin said as Fadil came out from under the cart.

"These not break." Fadil assured him, rapping his knuckles against the hard, metal surface of the bowl he had just retrieved, causing it to ring like a bell. "Very solid."

Fadil handed Merlin the bowl with a forgiving smile. Merlin took it from him and grinned back at his new friend. "It's a good thing they're so sturdy. However, I've been known to break a thing or two that was supposedly unbreakable. Just last week, I broke the stem off of one of Arthur's goblets and nearly got put in the stocks for it."

As Merlin was explaining his penchant for clumsiness, he reached into the crate to place the bowl back inside. It was at that same moment that a hissing sound reached his ears and before Merlin could jerk his hand back in surprise, he felt a painful barb lance the meaty part of his thumb, stabbing deep into the muscle.

Merlin recoiled instantly and drew back his hand, shaking it out ineffectually as he sucked in a breath through his teeth. If he had to guess, he would have said that he had just been stung by the most powerful bee that had ever lived. His estimation, however, was well off the mark and Fadil was the first to point and shout an exclamation as a creature began to emerge from the crate, slithering out from the side. It was a snake, that much was clear, but Merlin never seen one such as this. It was long and thick and it reared up, its belly leaving the ground while it flattened itself out, creating a sort of hood along the sides of its head as it hissed in agitation.

"Ai! Anum! Cobra!"

Anum, whom Merlin had taken to be rather quietly stoic, seemed to appear out of nowhere with a long, curved sword in hand. Merlin never had the time to question where Anum had come up with the enormous and lethal weapon, but was grateful when the tall man arced its blade into the air and came down upon the snake, chopping its head off in one felled swoop. The snake's head fell to the ground, its jaw opening and closing as if looking to chomp down on its last victim even in death.

Merlin's relief in seeing the snake die was short-lived, however, as the pain in his hand grew exponentially and he pulled it close to his chest.

"My friend … it bite?" Fadil asked, approaching cautiously as he looked towards Melrin's injured hand.

Merlin could only nod, wincing in pain as his hand began to throb in time with his racing heart, swelling hot and red at the site of the double puncture wounds. A weird sensation of pins and needles was traveling up from his hand and arm and in only moments, his whole limb was numb.

Fadil muttered a few words in his language that Merlin interpreted to mean something close to 'oh shit' in English and Merlin knew without a doubt that he was in big, big trouble. At first, Merlin thought about reaching for his magic, but 1: he was in the middle of the marketplace, surrounded by hundreds of people, and 2: he didn't know a single spell that could heal a snakebite.

Merlin knew he had to get himself to Gaius, hoping that his guardian might know what to do, but his head was starting to spin and he felt sick to his stomach while his legs too had taken on a rubbery quality as the numbing sensation racing through his muscles spread. Whatever venom had been in that snakebite, it was acting fast and feared he would never make it to Gaius in time. His heart raced as he realized that he just might die right there in the middle of the marketplace.

Unable to feel his legs anymore, Merlin's knees buckled. Fadil suddenly appeared at Merlin's side and wrapped an arm around his waist to hold him up as he called for his brother to come and take hold of Merlin's other side.

Merlin felt his head dip, too heavy to hold up anymore as Fadil spoke to him in reassuring tones, "Fear not, my friend. We find physician. You will be well."

OoOoOoOoO

Gaius didn't usually nap during the day, but after the week he had had, he felt it was justified. It seemed as though all of Camelot had decided that this was the week that everyone and his brother had to injure themselves or fall ill. After the old physician had run himself ragged doing all that he could for his patients, he felt that this one afternoon nap was one that he had justly earned.

He had just begun to drift off, lying on top of his bed's covers, when the door suddenly burst open, nearly causing his poor, old heart to jump straight out of his chest. He shot up as two men he had never seen before entered his chambers, both practically carrying his ward between them. Merlin's head hung towards his chest as the two men held him up, each with an arm encircling his waist.

Gaius was off of his bed in an instant, "Merlin! What on Earth –"

"You physician, no?" the shorter of the two strangers asked quickly in thickly accented English before Gaius could get a response from Merlin.

"Yes." Gaius replied, gesturing for the men to place Merlin on the patient's cot in the middle of the room. Merlin's legs dragged along the floor like two soggy pieces of rope as the men pulled him along and gently deposited him onto the bed.

Gaius didn't have time to question who these men were, his attention was solely focused on his ward. "What happened?" he asked of the man who had spoken before.

"Cobra … it bite his hand." The young man replied as best as he could, in broken English. "It is snake – very bad. You must help."

"A snake?" Gaius questioned as he knelt beside Merlin and began to assess his condition. "What kind of snake?"

"From my country." The short man replied, "It hide in box. It travel with us. We did not know."

Gaius nodded, trying to understand. From what he could gather, the snake that bit Merlin was not native to Camelot, but must have slipped into a box the foreign men had traveled with. Leave it to Merlin to find the one box containing a stow-away snake and get bitten by it. Gaius shook his head - that boy was going to be the death of him, but for now, he was more worried about getting Merlin to survive this than in berating the boy's luck.

Said boy was barely conscious though and Gaius knew that if he didn't do something soon, Merlin would fade fast. With his eyes drooping, Merlin struggled as he breathed in shallow pants. Gaius touched the side of his neck to feel his pulse, which he found to be racing and beating erratically while Merlin's skin, which was already a shade lighter than alabaster on even his healthiest of days, was chalky-white, clammy and covered with sweat. Gaius picked up the hand the short foreigner had pointed to and examined the two, red puncture wounds that stood out in stark contrast to Merlin's paleness. The appendage was swollen and hot, but Merlin didn't seem to show any kind of pain reaction when the physician pressed on the wounds.

"Gai's" Merlin slurred as he tried to speak, forcing his eyes open, looking about with focusing on anything, "Can't … feel. Evry'thing … s'numb. "

"Shh, Merlin … you're going to be fine." Gaius tried to assure him all the while feeling hopeless confusion wash over him. No snake that the physician had ever encountered before had caused this to happen in any of his patients. Most snake bites he had seen could be treated with nothing more than a bandage and a day or two of rest. Sure, a person that was bitten by a native species of snake might feel a little nausea or pain, but Merlin had been bitten by a snake Gaius had never even heard of before and its venom seemed to be affecting his entire body; paralyzing his muscles. Gaius feared that if the paralysis spread to his lungs, then his ward might lose the ability to breathe altogether.

Gaius had never encountered anything like this before and he had no idea if there anything at all he could do for Merlin. All at once, it hit the physician that barring some kind of miracle, Merlin was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it.

OoOoOoOoO

Fadil had traveled to many lands and encountered many different kinds of people since he and Anum left Egypt with only their cart and horses looking to find a better life for themselves after the death of their father, but he could say with clear certainty that none of them had been anything like the young man that he had met that morning.

While most people barely tolerated the presence of the two brothers as they journeyed, only allowing them to enter their cities or villages because they had goods to offer that the people could not find elsewhere, others were outright hostile towards them and their 'strange ways', pitching rocks at them or threatening to kill them should they enter their lands.

While Fadil had always believed that in the heart of every man there was a shred of good, the last few months of their trek had started to erode that notion away. It seemed as though the further away from their homeland that they traveled, the more wary and hostile people became towards them because of their differences. Fadil knew that most people only acted the way they did out of fear of things they did not understand, yet still, he thought of himself as a good man, a nice person, and it hurt when people treated them as a threat.

But Merlin had been different. He had shown genuine care and interest in them – he had offered a hand in friendship when others would rather use their hands to beat them. Merlin, he deemed, was a kind soul, worthy man and he was not about to let his new friend die because of a snake that had hidden in their supplies. The fault was on him and he would need to fix this.

Fadil walked over to Anum and spoke quietly to him in their tongue. "I must help him, Anum. You know I can, I only need my book. It is in my pack in the cart. Will you go and get it for me?"

"No, Fadil." Anum whispered back, "I have heard things about this kingdom. Their king is an evil tyrant and would kill you should he find out what you can do. We do not know this physician or the boy – they could turn you in, even if you save his life."

"I cannot let him die."

"And I cannot let you die. You are my only family now."

Fadil sighed heavily and rubbed a hand across his bearded face, aggravated by his older brother's constant over-protectiveness. He then watched as the aged physician sitting beside Merlin glanced their way with a hopeless expression and shook his head dejectedly. From that one look, Fadil knew that the old man needn't say that there was nothing he could do for the boy. But, deeper than that, Fadil could see just how much that knowledge was tearing the physician apart – there was a bond there that even an outsider such as himself could feel – it was that same bond that held him and Anum together – the same bond he remembered of the long nights when his father would tell him stories and teach him their ways – it was the bond of family and it was love.

Fadil knew then what he had to do.

Without another word, he tore out of the physicians's chambers, his brother calling out after him. He ignored Anum and ran back to the marketplace to where their cart still stood unattended. He found his pack exactly where he had left it under the bench seat at the front of the wagon and he was grateful that the people of this town had left their possessions alone. He grabbed the plain, leather satchel and clutched it to his chest, jumping down from the wagon before running as fast as he could back to the castle.

Anum was none too pleased when Fadil returned to see that he had gone back for the book he had stashed in his pack. "Do not do this, Fadil." Anum demanded strongly, fear shading his eyes.

In their country, Anum's status as older brother meant that Fadil was the subordinate and was meant to obey the orders of his brother. But, he reminded himself, he was not in his country now and strictly speaking, he was completely justified in blowing his brother off this one time and doing what he wanted – no, needed to do.

Fadil reached into his pack and pulled out the small book of papyrus bound in leather that had been handed down to him from his father. Fadil had never had much opportunity to actually put the lessons his father had taught him into practice, but his father had always said that his abilities were a natural gift and were meant to be used to help others and Merlin definitely needed his help.

Walking over to the physician, Fadil placed a hand on his slumped shoulder, "I wish to help. I will heal him."

The old man turned and looked up into Fadil's face with a raised eyebrow, "How? There is no medicine –"

"I need no medicine." Fadil assured him, fighting to find the right words in the other man's language. Understanding the tongue these people came much easier to him than speaking their hard to pronounce words, but as he opened his book and searched for the right page, he knew he had to explain what he was about to do in some way, "I pray to Apophis. He give me … power ... and I heal."

"You mean magic?" The old man asked, but not out of fear as Fadil expected, but more out of curiosity and something close to relief.

"Yes … magic. Apophis give me magic. I use and he live." Fadil said, gesturing to Merlin who had given in to unconsciousness, his skin whiter than Fadil ever thought would have been possible in any person. Merlin's breaths had grown shallower since his race to retrieve his book and there was very little time for him to explain what he was about to do any further. Merlin was dying and he needed to act quickly.

"May I?" Fadil asked of the old man. As his father had taught him, using the power of the Gods on another person always required permission and he would not proceed without it.

"Please." The white-haired man begged as he stood up from his seat next to the cot, "Anything you can do is greatly appreciated. He's very … well, Merlin is very special to me – to everyone here. However, I must warn you that magic is banned in Camelot on pain of death. I cannot ask you to break the law and put your life at such risk, but I promise you, if you decide to do this, I shall keep your secret as long as I live."

Fadil shook his head slightly, "I know not why your king fears magic, but I know what I do and I wish to help. Merlin is good man."

"Indeed he is." The physician agreed, bowing slightly to Fadil in gratitude. "Thank you."

Fadil nodded and walked over to the cot where Merlin lay, taking the seat that the physician had just vacated. Holding the book open to the page he needed, Fadil began to read, the words of his people flowing from his tongue, turning into a song sung to the snake god, Apophis, asking for his mercy and protection. Fadil began to feel the power of the God flow into him, giving him strength as he took Merlin's injured hand into his own. Fadil sang the song over and over again until he could feel the power within himself reach out in tendrils towards the ailing boy, entering his wound and seeking out the venom that coursed through his body, attacking it and destroying it. Fadil kept singing, his eyes glowing bright in a golden hue, letting the ancient melody his father had taught him to continue to sing from his throat until he could sense that every last drop of the Cobra's venom was eradicated.

Within his hand, Fadil felt the presence of another power join in with his own as Merlin squeezed his hand in return. The magic that met his own was refreshing him in a way he had never known before, adding strength to the power Apophis had given him. Fadil couldn't help the smile of pure delight that stretched across his face as he sang the final verse of the song; the magic the boy had given him was so pure, so good that it felt as if every nerve and fiber in his body was alive with hope and love. It was like being fed pure joy and Fadil understood just how right the physician had been about Merlin – he was beyond 'special' – he was a gift to the world from the Gods themselves and Fadil was humbled and proud all at once for having touched such raw, unadulterated, and powerful goodness.

As Fadil's allowed his song to Apophis fade away from his voice, he looked down to see that some color had returned to Merlin's face and he was breathing steadily and deeply, blissfully asleep. He sighed in relief, knowing that the boy would live and that whatever great things Merlin was meant to do now had a chance of being accomplished once again.

Reluctant to let go, but satisfied that the boy would be well, Fadil released his hold on Merlin's hand and gently laid it across his chest. As soon as Fadil sat back in the chair, the white-haired physician bent over his patient and began to check him over, laying two fingers against his throat to feel his pulse before lifting his eyelids and examining his pupils.

"He's asleep, but it looks like he should be fine." The old man turned to face Fadil with a genuine smile of gratitude "I don't know how to thank you."

Fadil shook his head, grinning in a manner that told the older man that no thanks was needed. Saving Merlin had been an experience he would never be able to fully put into words and one he would certainly never forget. And he was happy and satisfied that he had not only saved a good and clearly powerful man, but that he had found a renewed sense of worth – that he had done something that proved to the world and to the Gods that he was worthy of the power they had bestowed upon him.

Feeling a hand resting on his shoulder and squeezing it gently, Fadil looked up to see that Anum standing behind him, his face forgiving and supportive in a way that reminded him so much of their father that he nearly cried. "You have done well, Fadil. You disobeyed me, yes, but I see now that you have done a very noble thing. Father would be proud."

OoOoOoOoOoO

Merlin pried open sticky eyelids as he slowly awoke and took in his surroundings. His head throbbed a little, but it was a far cry from the fear and panic that had consumed him before everything had gone dark. In all honesty, he was just thankful that he could even open his eyes at all.

He remembered everything – meeting Fadil and his brother, showing them to the marketplace, being bitten by the snake, but worst of all he had been aware the whole time as his body slowly shut down and each muscle became numb and paralyzed by the snake's poison, robbing him of his ability to move, to speak or to even open his eyes.

But then he remembered the song and Fadil's voice echoing through his mind, reaching out to him and pulling him back from the edge. He recalled how it had touched his magic, making it sing along with the melody, giving him a sense of peace and calmness as it lulled him into a deep and restful sleep. It was an experience that he knew he could never forget - in a word, it had been amazing.

Merlin had met many people with magic before and most of them had used their power for ill intent. There were so many of them who abused their magic that Merlin had begun to wonder if he was the only one out there that vowed to never let his power corrupt him. Deep down, Merlin knew that wasn't true, but the past few years as he tried to protect Arthur from one magical attack after another had started to file away at that belief, to the point where even he wondered if one day he might succumb and become what he feared most – a monster.

Yet Fadil's magic had felt so right, so good, and so pure, that he knew he wasn't alone anymore. There were still people out there that used their power for the noblest causes and it gave Merlin a new sense of hope that one day people like him and Fadil could live without fear or prejudice and would be accepted by others, free to practice their magic in peace.

Merlin felt a hand rub his shoulder and he turned to see Gaius sitting next to him, holding out a cup of water out for him. He hadn't even realized how thirsty he was until he saw the cup and he took it gratefully, swallowing its entire contents in just a couple of gulps.

"It's good to see you awake. You gave me quite the scare and I beg of you not to do that again. I don't think my poor, old heart could take it," Gaius spoke as Merlin drank and then added; "How are you feeling?"

Merlin finished the water and then wiped his chin where some of the water had dribbled out during his race to quench his thirst, "I'm fine, thanks." he replied honestly. "Where is Fadil?" he asked, seeing that the foreign man and his brother were no longer around.

Gaius took the empty cup from Merlin and placed it on the table beside him, sighing, "They returned to the marketplace. I'm afraid that the older brother, Anum, was anxious to pack up and leave Camelot as soon as possible. While they know we would never turn them in for using magic, I think he's still afraid that staying here, even for a few days, is too much of a risk to Fadil."

"What? They're leaving? Already?" Merlin exclaimed, shucking off the blanket covering him and practically jumping to his feet. The sudden movement upwards, coupled with Merlin's headache caused him to pause as purple and black spots filled his vision, but he fought for equilibrium and righted himself before Gaius could stop him from heading towards the door.

"Merlin! What do you think you are doing? You need your rest." Gaius protested.

"I have to see them and at least say thank you, Gaius. I can't let them leave yet!" Before the old physician could raise his voice at his ward once again, Merlin was out the door and rushing for the marketplace. Quickly, Merlin was winded and tired by his run, but by the time he reached the lines of stalls, he was overjoyed to see that the brothers' cart was still parked where he had last seen it.

Fadil and Anum were working together to place one of the last boxes of their supplies back into their wagon as Merlin ran up to them, out of breath.

"My friend!" Fadil looked to him in surprise, dropping his end of the box he had been carrying and causing his brother to scowl deeply, muttering a few choice words under his breath.

Fadil ran up to him and grabbed Merlin by the shoulders with a wide, toothy smile, "You are well, yes?"

"I feel great, Fadil, thanks to you. I remember what you did – it was … I don't even know what, but it was pretty incredible."

Fadil blushed and dipped his head a little, grinning, "You are special, my friend Merlin and good man. I shall never forget you."

"The pleasure was mine, Fadil. Are you sure you can't stay a little longer?"

Fadil shook his head, his smile fading, "Anum wish to leave. I must go."

Merlin sighed, sad to see that his new friend would be gone soon. He had finally found someone that he thought could completely understand him, who had magic and knew what it was like to live with it, but he was already having to say good-bye after only one afternoon.

"I too am sad." Fadil admitted, "I shall miss you."

"And I you." Merlin agreed, sticking out his hand for Fadil to shake. Fadil hesitated, seeming to be unaware that this was a common custom in Camelot and looking at Merlin's hand as if unsure of what he was supposed to do. Eventually though, Fadil appeared to understood that this was Merlin's way of saying good-bye and he grasped his hand, adding a couple of friendly slaps to Merlin's shoulder for good measure.

"Be well, my friend." Fadil said with true conviction before turning and heading back to his brother. Merlin watched as Fadil leapt onto the cart agilely just before Anum snapped the reins of their horses to get them moving. As the cart disappeared around the bend in the road, Merlin lifted his hand and waved sadly, "Bye."

"MERLIN!" A clipped, angry voice shouted, bouncing off the walls of the vendors' stalls and causing the warlock to nearly jump in surprise before he turned around to see Arthur marching towards him. His strides purposeful and his face showing him to be more than just a little miffed about something, Arthur opened his mouth and raised his voice once again.

"There you are! Where have you been? You were supposed to be back ages ago. It's almost time for my supper and my floor is still a filthy mess. What have you been doing all of this time?"

"Uh … " was all Merlin could manage to think of saying. It wasn't like he could come right out and say, 'Nothing much, Arthur. Just got bit by a deadly snake and then almost died, but was healed by magic. How was your day, sire?'

"Oh well … that's just brilliant!" Arthur scolded. "Do you think maybe, just maybe, you could come back to work now, or do I have to write you a formal invitation?" Arthur shook his head incredulously, "You know, it's a wonder I haven't sacked you yet."

Merlin gave Arthur a sheepish grin, "I know you wouldn't so that, Sire. You'd have no fun without me around."

Arthur whirled on Merlin with a devilish glare, "Do you want to know what fun for me is, Merlin?"

Merlin had a feeling he really didn't want to know and as Arthur continued to rant, he was proved right.

"Putting you in the stocks is fun, making you shovel horse manure is fun, oh … and the best fun of all is watching you scrub every chamber pot and latrine in the castle until they're shiny enough to eat off of. Now, what do you think of that for an evening's entertainment, Merlin?"

Merlin gulped, "I think, Arthur, that we need to get you some new hobbies …"

The End

Have any ideas or prompts for stories that you like me to try and write? Just let me know and I'll give it my best shot. :-)