Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin or its characters. I also have not yet seen the final episodes of Season 5, so if I have certain details wrong, I apologize.
Sir Leon stood at the window of his chamber and stared out at the houses beyond the castle walls. He could see the faint glow of fireplaces through many windows in the deepening twilight, and he knew that the inhabitants of Camelot would sleep safe and sound this night, enjoying the hard-won peace that had cost Camelot so dearly. Morgana was dead and was no longer a threat to the kingdom or to Queen Guinevere. Sir Leon shook his head sadly, thinking once more of her tragic spiral into evil after finding out that King Uther was not only her guardian, but also her father, and that she had magic. Damn you, Morgause, he thought bitterly; if Morgana hadn’t gotten mixed up with her evil half-sister perhaps none of this would have happened.
His thoughts drifted to Arthur, his king and his closest friend. He was dead too, slain by one of his own knights in the last battle; many other brave and loyal knights died as well, not only in that last battle, but throughout Morgana’s quest to claim Camelot’s throne for herself. Sir Lancelot had sacrificed himself at the Isle of the Blessed to close the veil and defeat the Dorocha that Morgana and Morgause had released. Sir Elyan had been slain by an enchanted sword in the Dark Tower where Morgana had imprisoned Queen Guinevere after capturing her. Sir Gwaine had been tortured and slain when he refused to tell Morgana where Merlin had taken the wounded Arthur. Merlin. He too was gone, disappeared after Arthur’s death, never to be seen again. Was he dead too?
Of the original Round Table knights, only Sir Leon and Sir Percival remained. Sir Leon and Sir Percival had had to bring the tragic news back to Gaius and Queen Guinevere, and Sir Leon and Sir Percival–but mostly Sir Leon, having been the king’s right-hand man–had had to stand in support of the widowed queen as she learned to rule through her grief. Not that Gwen had really needed my strength, Sir Leon thought. True, she still grieved Arthur’s death and would do so the rest of her life, but she had risen to the challenge and was proving to be a very competent queen.
Which was part of the reason Sir Leon felt the way he did now.
He found himself thinking once more that he was no longer useful to anyone here, and he asked for perhaps the thousandth time, why couldn’t I have died along with them? Of course, he recalled bitterly, the Cup of Life. He was still alive because he had drunk from the Cup of Life. In a once-unusual, but now becoming more frequent flare of temper, Sir Leon suddenly and with great force punched the wall in front of him, splitting the skin on his knuckles so that blood trickled down his hand and dripped onto the floor. He grimaced momentarily at the pain, physical pain that did nothing to dull the raw emptiness and the guilt he felt deep inside at the loss of his friends. Cursing under his breath, he turned away from the window to find the scrap of linen he had used to bind his hand the last several times he had punched the wall.
After wrapping his hand to staunch the flow of blood, he threw himself onto the bed and lay on his back staring up at the ceiling. It would be full dark soon, and the room was growing chilly; still he didn’t light a fire, not really caring anymore. Sometime later–he wasn’t really sure how long; what did it matter anyway?–there was a soft knock at his door. Without taking his eyes from the ceiling, he called out flatly, “Enter.”
The door opened wide enough for a man’s head to pop in. Sir Leon could barely make out the man’s features in the torchlight from the passageway, but he knew it was Sir Percival. “I hope I didn’t wake you,” the young knight softly apologized, although he knew it was still quite early.
Leon laughed shortly. He hadn’t had a decent sleep in months, not since well before…he shook his head, trying not to think about it again. “No,” he responded simply. Sir Leon had always been a man of few words., but lately, he spoke even less. “Was there something you needed?” Right, he thought. Like anyone needs me anymore.
Sir Percival gave a slight shake of his head. “Just heading to the tavern with a few of the other men. Would you care to join us?”
Sir Leon closed his eyes miserably. He had gone with them a couple times before, thinking that being out with others would help him shake his morose mood, but he had been wrong. Being in that raucous atmosphere with all those laughing, talking people only made his loneliness and sense of loss seem so much stronger. How could they all move on so easily, especially Sir Percival? True, the large but quiet knight had felt the loss of Sir Gwaine more deeply than that of the others, but he had eventually come to the conclusion that his friend would have wanted him to go on with his life. Sir Percival still wore the necklace that Gwaine had always worn; he had taken it from his lifeless body and kept it to remind him of his fun-loving friend. Sir LEon had no such token to remind him of Arthur or any of the others; he was certain it would do nothing but remind him of his guilt anyway. Suddenly remembering that Sir Percival was waiting for an answer, he replied, “No, you go ahead.”
“Are you sure?” Sir Percival asked. “You hardly leave the castle anymore. Bloody hell, you hardly leave your chamber. A change of scenery might do you some good.”
Sir Leon sighed irritably. This wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation, and it likely wouldn’t be the last. “Maybe next time, Percival.” He rolled over to face away from his friend, letting him know the conversation was over.
However, Sir Percival didn’t take the hint. He marched purposefully into the room and sat down on the bed. “That’s what you said the last time, and the time before that.” His forehead showed lines of worry that he was much to young to be wearing.
Sitting up and facing Sir Percival, he replied irritably, “Then it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m saying the same thing again. I just don’t feel like being sociable.”
Sir Percival’s sharp eyes spotted the blood-stained linen on Sir Leon’s hand. “Leon, your hand. Again?” When Sir Leon wordlessly jerked his hand away and tried to hide it, Sir Percival continued, “Leon, you must talk to Gaius, or to Gwen, someone. You need to move on…”
“She is your queen; show her some respect and call her by her proper name,” Sir Leon spat angrily, startling his friend. “Please just go away. Go enjoy yourself at the tavern and leave me be.” He threw himself back down on the bed, facing away from Sir Percival once more.
After a moment’s silence, Sir Percival stood and walked to the door. He stood staring at the broken man on the bed for a moment, and then left, closing the door softly. He walked steadily down the passageway to hiso wn chamber, where he grabbed his cloak and pinned it on. He was about to leave the castle to join his friends at the tavern, but he could not get Sir Leon out of his mind. He turned and hurried down the back staircase into the lower level of the castle where Gaius’ rooms were. He knocked softly on the door and heard a cheerful young voice call out, “Yes?”
Sir Percival opened the door and stuck his head in. He saw Myron, Gaius’ new assistant, hastily sweeping the floor. “Hullo, Myron. Is Gaius in?” The boy’s eyes involuntarily swept to the side room, where Gaius often consulted books, but he said nothing. “Please?” Sir Percival continued. “It’s quite important.”
Myron was about to formulate an excuse when Gaius’ weary voice came from the side room. “It’s all right, Myron.” A moment later, Gaius appeared at the door. “Percival, what can I do for you?”
Sir Percival edged into the room and looked pointedly at Myron, who shrewdly took the hint, propped the broom in the corner and hastened out of the room. Gaius chuckled. “Nice boy. Reminds me a bit of Merlin when he first arrived here.” A brief look of sadness passed over his eyes before he cleared his throat and asked again, “Was there something you needed?”
Sir Percival, too, had a brief moment of sadness as he thought of the young assistant who had been so close to Arthur. Banishing the thought, he looked at Gaius and began, “I’m worried about Leon.” Gaius raised his eyes to Percival’s, obviously thinking the same thing. Sir Percival quickly related what had occurred in SIr Leon’s chamber.
When the young knight finished, Gaius stood silently for a moment, thinking. Finally, he shook his head. “I wish there was something I could do for him, but it seems some part of him has lost the will to move on.” He did not voice the thought he had that if it weren’t for the Cup of Life, Leon might have already succumbed to his grief and passed on as well.
“Isn’t there anything?” Sir Percival asked pleadingly. “He looks as though he hasn’t slept since…before the last battle.”
Gaius looked sharply at the knight. He doubted it was the answer, but what other course of action did they have? He replied, “Maybe I can mix up a sleeping draught for him. A good night’s rest may not solve all his troubles, but it certainly can’t hurt.” He nodded, dismissing Sir Percival, and turned to his bottles and potion books. He paged through an old dog-eared volume and quickly found what he was looking for. After scanning the ingredients, he went to his storage shelves and grabbed the bottles and pouches he needed.
A few minutes later, Gaius was at work measuring out ague root, willow bark, anise and chamomile into a large glass flask. Every few minutes, he held the flask over a candle and heated the mixture, shaking it gently. At last, he came to the last ingredient, valerian. As he was carefully measuring the powdered herb into the flask, Myron came bursting into the room, startling Gaius and making him unknowingly dump too much of the powder into the flask. “Myron, how many times have I told you not to burst in here like a pack of wild donkeys?” he asked in an exasperated voice.
The boy was immediately apologetic, making Gaius feel guilty for snapping at him. “I’m sorry, Gaius. Really, I am. I’ve just too much energy, I suppose.”
Gaius chuckled and waved away Myron’s apology. “Well, in just a minute, I’ll have something for you to take to Sir Leon. You can run off some of your energy going to the third floor.”
“Is Sir Leon sick?” the boy asked innocently, his shaggy blond hair hanging down in his eyes.
Gaius sighed; Myron was a nice enough boy, but he lacked any real insight when it came to people. Merlin was able to see beyond the surface, and he wished for the hundredth time that the young warlock was still here with him. “In a manner of speaking, he is,” Gaius replied. “He is heartsick, one of the most difficult illnesses to remedy.” He doubted Myron would really understand, but he tried anyway.
Gaius held the mixture over the candle for a few minutes. He couldn’t remember it taking so long to make this potion, but then he hadn’t had need of it for some time, and his memory wasn’t what it used to be. When the liquid in the flask finally darkened to the correct shade of green, Gaius took the flask away from the flame and allowed it to cool. When it reached room temperature, he measured some of the potion into a small vial, stoppered it, and handed it to Myron. “Take this to Sir Leon and give it to him. Stay with him until he’s drunk it down.”
Myron furrowed his eyebrows and asked, “But what if he’s asleep? I’d hate to wake him.”
Gaius sighed and looked at the boy once more. No, he certainly lacked Merlin’s insight. “Don’t worry. I’m sure he won’t be sleeping. This potion is to help him sleep.”
Myron’s mouth formed an “O” as he finally understood. He turned to go a bit too quickly and almost stumbled over a stool. He looked over his shoulder and grinned sheepishly as he dashed out the door and up the stairs. On the third floor, he hurried down the West passageway, trying to remember which chamber was Sir Leon’s. At first he knocked on a door, and Sir Afton, on his way out to patrol, greeted him and pointed him in the right direction.
Sir Leon’s door was tightly closed, so Myron hesitated before knocking softly. When he got no answer, he knocked a bit louder. An irritated voice from inside said something that he couldn’t quite make out, so he knocked again, even louder. This time he heard feet hit the floor and stomp across the room. The door suddenly flew open, and an angry Sir Leon growled, “Percival, I already told you…” Seeing Myron’s startled, apologetic face, he stepped back and ran his hand over his face. “I…apologize, Myron. I thought you were Sir Percival. Was there something you needed?”
Myron gulped, staring up at the tall, reddish-blond knight, and answered timidly, “Gaius sent up a sleeping potion for you. He..he said it might help.”
Sir Leon looked curiously at Myron, wondering how Gaius might have thought he needed something. Realization swept over him as he thought to himself that Percival must have paid Gaius a visit before he went to the tavern. He tried not to be angry; he knew that Percival was only trying to be a friend. He took the draught from Myron and thanked him. “I’ll take it later if I need it.”
As Sir Leon was shutting the door, Myron stammered, “Uh…um…begging pardon, Sir Leon. Um…Gaius wanted me to stay with you…to be sure you’d taken it.”
Sir Leon rolled his eyes, then let out a defeated sigh and motioned for Myron to come in. He walked over to his bed and sat down, then pulled the stopper out of the vial. He held the vial under his nose and took a whiff–he didn’t like to be surprised by a nasty taste on his tongue. Grimacing, he asked, “Bloody hell, Myron, what did Gaius put in this?” When Myron shrugged, obviously clueless, Sir Leon shook his head, closed his eyes tightly and drank it down in one swallow. He thrust the empty vial into Myron’s hands, coughing, and lay back on his bed. Glaring up at the boy’s apologetic face, Sir Leon muttered, “Tell Gaius his potions taste like wet, moldy…” He didn’t finish his thought before his eyes went wide for a second and he lost consciousness.
Myron blinked rapidly a few times, unsure of what had just happened. He had given people sleeping draughts before, but he had never seen one work this quickly. As slow as his mind could sometimes be, he knew something was amiss, and he hurried back down to tell Gaius what had happened.