Gaius was looking out of a big window that overlooked the courtyard. It had been almost two days since Arthur, Leon and Ira had ridden off to save the others and Gaius was starting to question whether it had been such a good idea to let Ira go. Even though she had recovered from the bolt in her side surprisingly quickly, a little too quickly, Gaius thought. Should she have gone? Deciding that what had happened had happened, after all there was no way of reversing time, and that he should get back to his patients he turned away from the window and started to make his way down the corridor. Passing another window he glanced out and stopped. Arthur and his knights had just ridden into the courtyard. Passing his medical eye over them he could see that none of them were injured badly, Percival had a bolt in his arm, but that was easily fixed. He got to Gwaine and the body he was carrying, a body he recognised to be Ira. Making his way quickly to his rooms, he began clearing a space. The door opened a short time later and all the knights piled in
"What's happened?" He asked urgently as Iras’ body was put down onto the table. He looked her over but all he could find was a wound that had already stopped bleeding.
"That's what we were hoping you would be able to help us with" Merlin answered. Seeing that there was no immediate danger of someone dying, Gaius motioned for Percival to sit down and got to work removing the bolt from his arm. Merlin gave a brief summary of what happened at the watchtower and then go into more detail about what happened to Ira.
"So we were hoping you would be able to tell us what it is and how we can reverse its effects" Merlin finished walking back from the cupboard having retrieved some bandages. Gaius was silent for a moment whilst he finished tying the bandages around Percivals’ arm.
"You're right about the potion" he started slowly, "but only one group of people make it and even then they only make enough for their needs and never give it to anyone outside of their group."
"Do you know how to reverse it though?" Arthur asked, Gaius sighed.
"Only those that make it can reverse it, even then it has to be done within a certain amount of time" he answered.
"But that's fine, we just find those that made it and get them to reverse it. Can't we?"
"I'm afraid it isn't that easy."
"Why not?" Arthur asked, not sure whether he wanted to know.
"The only people that make it are the Druids, more specifically the ones that can be found in the Forest of Ascetir." Arthur let out a long breath and turned towards the window, the room watched him in silence until Gwaine couldn't take it any longer.
"What are we waiting for? They shouldn't be that hard to find. If we leave now... What?" Gwaine asked Arthur angrily, as he had just turned back towards him shaking his head slightly. "What's the problem Arthur? These people can save her!"
"But they're sorcerers."
"You know there is a ban on magic."
"But she'll die if we don't go to them."
"I'm sorry but there has to be another way" Arthur looked towards Gaius.
"I can look into sire" Arthur thanked him and walked out. The knights looked at each other.
"Is there another way?" Merlin asked.
"No, the only way is to go to the Druids" Gaius answered sadly.
"I'm sure we can talk Arthur round" Merlin told Gwaine confidently, Gaius meanwhile took a book off the shelf and started going through it.
"How long has it been since she was stabbed" he asked stopping at the right page.
"A day. Roughly" Elyan answered, Gaius was silent a look of worry and sadness on his face.
"What is it?" Percival asked, Gaius sighed.
"It says that the potion can only be reversed within two days."
"Two days!? Do you think we can talk Arthur round in less than a day?"
"We've got to try" Gwaine said walking out of the room, no doubt to confront Arthur. The other knights and Merlin quickly followed him.
Arthur was in his rooms looking out of the window when a crash made him swivel round and reach for his sword.
"Gwaine! What on earth are you doing?" He nearly shouted as he watched Gwaine stride in the others not far behind.
"Listen Arthur, there is no other way of saving her, Gaius said so. He also said that if we don't take her to the Druids to reverse the effects within two days of her being stabbed she will die."
"But we can't trust sorcerers. I wish we could but they have caused nothing but suffering in the kingdom."
"Please Arthur if anyone deserves life it's her. You said so yourself, she put her life on the line when no one else did."
"That's not the point, I would gladly help reverse the potion if it didn't involve magic."
"You tried to save Uthers life with magic."
"And now he's dead because of it" both of their voices were slowly getting louder.
"Come on Arthur, we all know Morgana was involved, he didn't stand a chance."
"That doesn't matter, and there's yet another example of why they can't be trusted" he all but shouted. They were face to face now only a couple of metres apart, starting angrily at each other. Gwaines hands were curled into fists trying to stay calm.
"Just give them another chance, you don't have to come."
"Everyone else here agrees with me" Gwaine looked over his shoulder for support, but found a mixture of emotions. "Don't you?" No one said anything and all tried to avoid eye contact.
"Well" Leon said slowly, "there is a reason magic is banned."
"Thank you Leon."
"But that doesn't mean all sorcerers are bad."
"It is true" everyone turned to the speaker, it was Merlin. "The Druids especially, are peaceful."
"See if you weren't blinded by your hate for one or two out of the many, you would see that too."
"Gwaine if you do not stop I will have you removed from this room" Arthur warned, but Gwaine continued. "If you weren't blinded by your fathers views and fears" his voice was getting louder and louder.
"Get out" Arthur tried saying calmly but Gwaine refused to listen.
"Or your hate for Morgana..."
"Get out" Arthur screamed. Gwaine stopped talking and stared angrily at him instead, “that is an order! In fact," Arthur went on still furious, "I order you not to go to the Druids." He saw the look on Gwaines’ face and laughed slightly. "Yes I knew you would go, do you know why? Because you aren't loyal to anyone but yourself, if it doesn't benefit you, you aren't interested." Gwaine lunged forward, only to be held back by Percival, Elyan and Leon.
"Take that back" he spat, Arthur ignored him and addressed the knights.
"Take him out of here" he said before turning back to the window. He heard them pull Gwaine from the room, who was shouting and had now moved on to threats. He let the door close before he let out a long sigh and leant his head against the cool window.
"Arthur?" Looking round he realised Merlin was still there. "Don't you think you're being a bit harsh?" He asked calmly, Arthur was silent for a moment.
"Yes" he admitted.
"Then why won't you give the Druids a chance? Gwaine’s right these people are different, I'm positive the same thing won't happen as it did to Uther."
"I just don't know, I don't want to risk losing another life to magic."
"Is it really so bad? Not every sorcerer is bad Arthur" Arthur shook his head sadly.
"I've made my decision and I must stick to it" Merlin simply nodded in reply and walked out.
Walking back to Gaius' rooms he found a thoughtful looking Gwaine sitting next to Ira. He looked up as Merlin walked in.
"I tried talking to Arthur" he said sitting opposite him. "He won't change his mind. At least not in time." Gwaine nodded.
"I need to ask you a favour" he said.
"Anything, you know I'm always here for you" Gwaine smiled sadly.
"I'm going to find them tonight, the Druids, but I need you to distract Arthur and the others for me," Merlin shook his head.
"No I'm going to come with you."
"Merlin I can't ask you to do that."
"You don't have to, I'm going to do it anyway" he replied confidently. "We can get Gaius to cover for us and take some horses, I know roughly where they are so that'll save time looking for them" Gwaine smiled.
"Great, I'll meet you here an hour after sunset, nobody should be around then.”
"Won't they be watching you, the other knights I mean, just in case you decide to go?" Gwaine shook his head."Let's hope not" he replied.