A/N: This is my result of the challenge from within the wall of Camelot's Castle forum. My OC, Karen is here to assist Gaius when Merlin is out. Hope you enjoy!
It shouldn't have happened the way it did. It really, really shouldn't have. The result could have been taken in two different ways, which wasn't good as far as Gaius was concerned.
Poor Morgana, she'd been suffering from those countless nightmares, and the physician was perplexed as to why his remedies weren't working, no matter how strong they were. He analyzed his latest potion's ingredients, almost for certain that it would work for her this time around.
The door shut as Karen walked through the door. Karen had agreed to assist Gaius in Merlin's stead, for he was now Arthur's servant and that job took a lot of the boy's time. Karen had become a friend of Gaius's when he'd met her in the marketplace as he was passing through and discovered he'd forgotten an important ingredient at the apothecary. She'd had the exact thing he'd forgotten, and the man wasn't about to run back, and she'd given it to him. He paid her pack for it, and she became a good friend to have around.
Karen was also about Merlin's age, although not as succumbed to stupidity as he was.
"Ah, Karen," Gaius greeted her as she came in. "you're up good and early."
"Yes," Karen replied. The physician put down his remedy so he could talk with her properly. "how are things here?"
Her emerald eyes met his blue ones as he looked up.
"Things are fine, expect that poor Morgana," Gaius said. "I just can't figure it out."
"I see Merlin's out with the prince this morning for his training," Karen brought up, a smile on her face, remembering what she had seen as she passed by earlier. Gaius said nothing, removing his glasses and sighing.
Just then, his door was stormed open and Morgana walked in, ready to ball her eyes out.
"Gaius," she sobbed as she walked towards him. "It was horrible!" Karen blinked, so much had changed in but seconds, maybe not even.
"Whoa whoa, slow down," Gaius said, taking her into his arms. "What happened? Was it the nightmares again?" She nodded, coming off of him and straightening herself while another hand wiped the tears away.
"They're getting worse, Gaius," Morgana said. "I don't know what to do."
"I have another potion," he said, holding up the bottle. "Stronger than the last one. You try this tonight and tell me what happens."
"Okay," she said, wiping more tears and taking the bottle. It was then she turned her head to see the girl standing a few yards away from her. "Who is this?"
"I'm Karen," Karen introduced herself. "I'm helping Gaius as Merlin is now Arthur's servant." She bowed her head slightly towards the king's ward, not being much for formality. Her short, chocolate hair cam over her face so she had to push it back.
"Morgana," the king's ward introduced herself. "Gaius, you never mentioned her before."
"I met her but only some time ago," Gaius replied. "I didn't think it was necessary to you." Morgana apologized for interrupting anything and for crying to him about what happened to her, but Gaius replied saying interruption wasn't the case and that if she needed anything else to come and see him. She walked out with more control and dignity over herself than before.
"Okay," Karen said when the door was closed. "Does that happen often?"
"No, not too often," Gaius told her. "Well, I want you to do a few things for me..."
And so her day began.
As the sunset came to Camelot that evening and Karen came into Gaius's chambers, asking if there was anything else for today.
"You're free to go," Gaius said. "Merlin should be back any minute for supper. Thank you and have a good night."
"Thank you and you too," Karen said. "I'll be back tomorrow." Gaius nodded, and she excused herself out of his chambers. Now all that was on his mind was whether or not that potion would work for Morgana.
The next morning he got his answer clear as day...no. The girl had come back into his chambers, almost ready to cry again, saying the nightmares were just as horrible as last night. Gaius had a sudden thought. It came from when he was very young, and it was something his mother did to him.
"Are you tense when you retire?" he asked her.
"Sometimes," Morgana replied, somewhat confused as to what he was getting at. "My days can be quite trying."
"I have an idea then for you," Gaius said. "Come back tonight and if anyone asks, tell them I have requested you. That should be the end of the conversation." Morgana nodded. Gaius couldn't believe he was about to do this, but it was the only thing he could think of for her now. His mind was a white sheet of paper for any more remedies at the moment.
He went to fill a tub of water, not answering any questions no matter who they came from. When Merlin had asked what he was planning, Gaius had made him carry the water back to his chambers and fill the tub. In the end of the task, Arthur called him back and Merlin never got his answer. The timing couldn't have been better for the physician.
After Karen had headed for home and Merlin seemed to be out late again (making Gaius hope to God the boy wasn't doing anything stupid), he heard a knock at the door. He whispered a quick spell, making the water heat up in Merlin's room. The young warlock wouldn't mind this, Gaius hoped.
"Come in," Gaius said, and Morgana entered.
"What are you doing?" Morgana asked.
"You are going to go into that room and sit in the tub I have placed," Gaius instructed.
"Gaius, I already bathed," Morgana said.
"It's alright, I'm just trying to get you to relax," he explained. "Now get in there." The ward complied with his instructions and went into Merlin's room where there was a tub of hot water and a towel. She removed her clothing, positioning herself in the tub finding the water was the perfect temperature. She sat, thinking about nothing as she looked up at the sky where the moon shone full and bright. Morgana sighed, closing her eyes for a moment.
"Feeling more relaxed?" Gaius's voice came through the door.
"Yes," she replied, and Gaius could tell from her tone she was telling the truth. But, it wasn't quite enough yet.
The door opened a little bit, causing Morgana to hid herself in a ball within the tub. Gaius heard the shift in the water.
"Don't worry I'm not looking," he joked. "I can sense that you have relaxed, but not quite as much as I hoped. Use this." He tossed a yellow rubber duckie towards her from the other side of the door.
"What's this?" she asked, grabbing the bath toy as it landed inches from her.
"A duck," Gaius answered simply. "It helps to relax you, trust me. Just let your mind wander." The door shut and Morgana couldn't believe Gaius was doing this. She hadn't played with a rubber duck since she was five years old. This was ridiculous, even for Gaius! She set the duck in the tub, letting it float around.
After a few minutes, she was guiding it across the water, smiling to herself, partly because she couldn't believe what this duck did to her. It made her feel happy, going back to her youth and remembering the days she spent in the sun with her father walking around anywhere they could. It was always an adventure to her, and she liked those memories. The duck just floated there and she got out of the tub, knowing she was ready to give it back to Gaius. She wrapped herself in the towel that was placed there for her.
She opened the door, seeing Gaius sitting at a table with a book, a candle beside him. He glanced up at her, smiling when he saw the duck in her hands.
"Help?" he asked.
"More than I thought," she replied, also a smile on her face. He got up and went to her, holding a hand out for the duck.
"Where did you get such a thing?" she asked.
"It's from my childhood," Gaius replied.
"And Merlin hasn't made fun of you for it in any way?" Morgana asked.
"Merlin has no idea I have this," Gaius replied. The ward laughed after he said that and he joined her after a few moments. "But if he did, he would be laughing at me, I'm sure."
The door opened unexpectedly and the two looked to it, a little worried it was the king. It was just Karen.
"So sorry, I forgot my..." Karen began, then she found the sight before her quite embarrassing. "cloak. Didn't notice, it was such a warm night. I interrupted something, clearly. I'm just... gonna go." She grabbed her green cloak, walking out quickly and wrapping the cloak around her at the same time. She shut the door behind her. The main question on her mind was why on earth Gaius had a rubber duckie in his hands? Not to mention Morgana's state.
"That was awkward," Morgana said as the door closed.
"I suppose it didn't look the greatest," Gaius said. "You'd better get changed." She nodded and sprinted into Merlin's room, throwing on her nightdress and coming back to Gaius.
"Now drink this and after doing so, walk as fast as you can to your room, and you will sleep the moment you lay down," the physician said, handing her the bottle with a purple fluid in it. She drank it down, knowing never to ask what was in it and set it back down, walking straight back to her chambers like he had said. She lay down on the bed and fell asleep instantly.
Gauis, when the door shut, had closed the book he was reading. That was indeed awkward and he hoped Karen didn't take that scene the wrong way. The circumstance was just bad timing. He should have checked to make sure Karen hadn't forgotten anything, so he mentally scolded himself for not taking a better precaution before doing such a seemingly odd remedy for Morgana. Especially Morgana.
The next morning, Karen came in the door, a funny expression drawn on her face.
"Listen Karen about yesterday," Gaius began. Karen's hand came up to stop him.
"It's alright," Karen said, warily.
"It wasn't what it looked like," Gaius said.
"I hope not," Karen replied, her eyebrows raising.
"You won't...tell anyone, will you?" he asked.
"No," Karen said. "Of course not, and I'm not even going to ask what the duck was about." Gaius let out a small laugh.
"Don't tell Merlin about the duck, please I beg of you!" he said. It was Karen's turn to laugh.
"No, I won't do that either," Karen told him. "I promise." Gaius let out a much needed sigh of relief.
"I have much to thank you for, Karen," the physician said. "It was just horrid timing!"
"I'll say," Karen said. "Well, with that past us, why don't I..." but, Karen didn't get to finish.
The door thrusted open, and Morgana entered, happier than ever.
"You're a genius Gaius!" she exclaimed. "It worked!"
"No nightmares?" Gaius asked, surprise over his face. He couldn't believe he'd done it either.
"Not a single one, thank you so much," Morgana said, hugging him again.
"I'm glad," he said, letting her go. She nodded to Karen, and as she shut the door, she recalled last night. But, she didn't let that get to her today, she was too overjoyed.
"He is a genius!" she whispered to herself as she walked the halls to have breakfast with the king this fine morning.
"Well, you can get started for the day with that lovely list behind you," Gaius said. "I took the liberty to create it last night when Merlin came home. I had to do something while I waited for him to explain himself." Karen smiled, looking at the list next to the bottles of different colored fluids. She took the list, putting it inside her cloak and the bottles in her hands, having memorized the first two orders on the list.
She looked up at Gaius before heading out for her duties. His eyes met hers and she winked at him with her right eye. He winked back with his left, a smile on his face. His door shut again, and he sighed, sitting back in a chair at the table.
"That was crazy," he told himself. "I guess I don't need magic to keep life from being a little exciting. I wonder what Merlin would say to that?"
Please review. This is my first thing for Merlin!