This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Hello all! As the continuation of The Bargain is being worked on, I have decided to throw this one-shot in because I feel like it and I really miss the characters. This is set three weeks after the Epilogue of The Bargain, but you do not have to have read it in order to enjoy this one.
''I cannot believe this! It's absolutely outrageous!''
Guinevere's words echoed through the hallways as she stormed towards Eira. Guinevere's chambermaid hurried after her, carrying Emelie, three weeks and six days old, in a mountain of soft blankets. Eira blinked several times, trying to focus on what was happening. She had been up the entire night tending to a certain someone.
''You do mean it, right? Gwaine's gotten it too?'' the Queen exclaimed, barging past Eira and into their chambers. Eira followed her, locating the familiar sight of Gwaine in bed. His white cotton shirt was soaked in sweat although Eira had made him change just an hour ago. Cloth handkerchiefs were scattered all over their bed and the floor, and all Gwaine managed to do was cough, sneezing wildly shortly after. Guinevere put a hand to her head.
''First Leon, then Percival, then Blake, then Helyas, and now Gwaine! We can't afford this stubborn cold! What if it spreads throughout the entire castle? Camelot will be under lockdown for months!'' the agitated Queen rambled on.
''I've already talked to Merlin and Gaius along with the other physicians in Camelot, and none of them have seen this version of a common cold before,'' Eira explained, exhaling with despair.
Suddenly Guinevere giggled. Eira's eyes widened slightly and she turned to her friend.
''It's all so silly if you think about it. Gaius has stated that the flu or whatever this might be isn't at all dangerous or harmful; all it's done is disable them from any sort of work!''
Then Gwaine piped up from where he was buried in blankets and cushions, ''P-perhaps it's a...sign to show how h-hard us knights have be-been working!''
Eira's eyes narrowed, spotting an incredibly familiar grin from under his sheets.
''At least none of us has become contaminated,'' the Queen muttered, ignoring Gwaine's remark with a twitch of her lips that was almost a smile.
Steps were heard from the hallway and the chambermaid jumped three meters from the door, cradling Emelie, when Sir Leon, coughing and with swollen eyes, stumbled in. Gwen and Eira backed away too.
''Your-your Majesty?'' he started carefully, sneezing aggressively in between.
''What is it Leon?'' Queen asked, almost regretfully.
''The entire fi-first fifth of the knights have come down too. We have reason to believe we were all infected last week on our travel to Mearritria. The large city is an area where many traders coming east from foreign shi-ships journey through. They may have brought with them sicknesses none of us are immune to,'' the pale knight described with a raspy voice.
Guinevere nodded. Everyone was silent for a minute, except Leon and Gwaine who were wheezing and coughing.
''Then the only source of a cure must lay in this Mearritria as well,'' Gwen stated with a thoughtful look in her deep brown eyes. She thought for another minute.
''Eira, you shall travel together with Merlin there. Find the traders, or more importantly, find a cure.''
It took a moment for Eira to register the Queen's command. She looked up with slight shock and surprise in her eyes. Gwaine waved his arm from the bed to get their attention.
''Your-your Majesty, I'm not sure that would be so w-wise, they'll...just get-get sick too,'' Gwaine declared, thrown into another fit of coughing.
''No they won't. Hasn't Gaius told you about the immunity potion he and Merlin have been working on, originally intended for Gaius so he can work up close with ill people?'' Gwen asked, looking content with her plan.
''I'm sorry, but wouldn't it be more simple to just create a cure with healing magic since it seems to be possible?'' Leon asked, regaining his voice somewhat.
Everyone turned to look at Eira, who had barely realized that her 'no' had been out loud.
''If we start to use magic in such a way, it will soon become the solution and substitute for all problems, and you will find yourselves with an unrecognizable kingdom. Trust me,'' she breathed, feeling like she was releasing a large breath she had been too small to carry.
The Queen gave Eira a profound gaze, realizing her insight into the matter.
''Eira is right. The immunity potion will be used on you and Merlin once, and that's it. Then we'll make sure it is kept safe and out of reach,'' the Queen resolved, placing her hands on her hips.
''So you agree then? To go, I mean?'' she asked Eira carefully.
''I could want nothing more. We leave today,'' she declared, feeling committed to her small mission already.
A few minutes later Eira found herself in Gaius' quarters, fiddling with the tablecloth as Merlin poured the potion into two small vials. He handed one to Eira with an enthusiastic smile.
''Here goes,'' he said, raising his eyebrow.
She took a deep breath, nodded at him, and tipped the vial over in her mouth, swallowing its contents quickly. A surge of something bright zoomed through her body, and she could see that Merlin had felt it too. His eyes shone with anticipation and she felt a smile radiating from her lips.
An hour later after Gwen, Merlin and Eira devised a plan from the map Leon had retrieved, Eira entered hers and Gwaine's chambers with an apple for him, taking off her shoes. The room was a mess as always, their clothes lay piled up on the floor along with countless handkerchiefs and cushions and pillows that he had kicked off the bed. Trays of almost untouched food stood on the table, and all of the six chairs were adorned with strewn armor or a cape or chainmail, and boots were thrown across the floor. Eira laughed slightly. Gwaine was sleeping. She closed the door and lightly moved over to the bed, crawling into it and sitting atop a hill of large pillows, nudging him with her foot until his eyes opened. He furrowed his brow, staring up at her in confusion. It took him a while to speak.
What do you want?'' he asked tiredly, clearing his throat.
''To spend time with you before I leave,'' she replied like it was obvious as he coughed. Suddenly the mountain of pillows tumbled to the surface of the bed and Eira ended up falling down next to him.
''Oops,'' Gwaine said sarcastically with absolutely no regret and he broke into a grin.
''Here's an apple for you. Straight from the cook. She said you should have it,'' Eira continued, showing it to him.
''I don't like her. Never lets me eat in peace,'' he answered, blinking up at the ceiling.
''But you like me. So eat it,'' she commanded, taking a bite from it herself. Then, he did take it, snatching it from her hand playfully. He bit into it and swallowed a small piece, exploding into a fit of coughing that shook his entire body. His chest heaved when he stopped and he gasped for a breath of air. Eira remembered that he really was feeling bad and crawled closer to him, turning sideways and wrapping one leg across his hips. She entwined her fingers with his, planting a kiss on his cheek. He looked at her with slight concern but she could tell that he wanted her to stay with him before it was time for her to depart.
''You'll get sick too,'' he mumbled, stroking her hand with his thumb.
''I'm immune, remember,'' she replied with a smile, running her other hand through his tousled hair.
''Not to me you're not,'' he said, tilting her face towards his with a small grin. ''If you get stuck with me here, you'll never leave,'' he warned her jokingly, pulling her even closer. She could almost feel his heartbeats. His lips met hers slowly, and she felt so overwhelmingly untroubled as his hand ran down her back and her fingers got lost in his hair. After a while he released her, resting for a few seconds before a dry rattle seized his throat, disconcerting her rapidly.
When his coughing ceased, he was smiling.
''I'll miss you, you know,'' he managed to breathe. His way of saying it almost brought tears into her eyes.
''It's only a week,'' she said, trying to distract herself from knowing that the coming week of breathing apart from him would feel like a year. She rested her head on his chest which was slowly falling into a normal rhythm of rising and falling. He touched his lips gently to her forehead when she looked up into his steady, warm brown eyes.
''I love you so much, you know that?'' he mumbled as his eyes started to close.
''I do know. I love you with every breath that enters and leaves my body. I'll miss you,'' she said, finding that his eyes had already closed and that her beloved knight was fast asleep.
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