A/N: Sorry this has taken an extremely long time…
"Gawain." Gawain blinked and looked up, realized that Lancelot was looking at him with a raised eyebrow, hands spread. "Let me help you." Gawain shook his head in confusion for a moment, uncertain about what Lancelot was saying before he recognized that they'd stopped in a small patch beneath overhanging trees that provided some shelter from the falling snow. Nodding, Gawain shifted the precious, shivering bundle to Lancelot's outstretched arms, watching as the older knight gently held Galahad, nestling the curly head in his shoulder. Arthur and Dagonet had set up a place for Galahad to lay, a sad representation of a bed consisting of a few blankets and cloaks. Tristan was on patrol already, peering quietly around their small camp, and Bors was starting a fire. Gawain followed behind Lancelot as he carefully carried Galahad to the small pallet and laid him down.
"How was he?" Arthur asked quietly, coming up next to him. Gawain shrugged.
"He only woke once," he answered, uncertainty obvious in his voice. "He hasn't stopped shivering." Arthur put a hand on his shoulder for a moment before stepping back again.
"Dag knows what he's doing," he said firmly. "We'll get him taken care of . He'll be bothering you with his whining in no time." Gawain nodded, but he wasn't as confident as Arthur. He had been the one forced to listen to Galahad's shaky breaths and feel the shivers wracking his friend's body for what seemed to be years...No, he wasn't so sure.
"Arthur," Dag called from Galahad's side, and both Gawain and Arthur were there in seconds. "I'm going to need some help. I need some snow melted and heated, and we need to get him warmed up." Arthur and Lancelot both nodded, but Gawain didn't move from Galahad's side where he was awkwardly touching his friend's cold cheek. Arthur sighed.
"Gawain. Gawain." Gawain looked up, blinking, and Arthur motioned to him. "I need you to get some snow in this pot, we need to heat it up. Do you hear me?" Gawain nodded, numbly taking the offered pot and stalking away.
"He's got to come to himself," Lancelot said lowly, helping Dagonet pull Galahad to a slightly upright position. "He's no help to anyone, least of all Galahad, when he's moping about like a woman." Arthur nodded knowingly.
"You are right, Lancelot," he murmured. Dagonet and Lancelot started to ease Galahad's clothing off of his still body as Arthur held him up. Galahad's head hung forward limply and Arthur worriedly pulled it back so that it rested on his shoulder.
"It is the first time Galahad has really been ill, and I think he does not know what to do with himself," Dagonet said, shaking his head at how chilled Galahad was. "They are more like brothers than the rest of us, and Gawain has practically raised him."
"That may be, but it's likely he'll be hurt again at some point, and Gawain will need to be able to act," Lancelot said. He swore lightly under his breath as he looked at Galahad's pale, still form, shrugging his cloak off and draping it over the younger knight's shoulders. "He's so damn cold," he muttered under his breath. "Dag?" The question was clearly a loaded one, and Dagonet bit his lip.
"We need to get to work," he said, deliberately avoiding the question. "Help me rub his chest and limbs." He handed Lancelot and Arthur blankets and they quickly and efficiently started warming their friend up. Bors returned, dumping a load of wood next to them and started to build a fire while Gawain gathered the snow, looking for unmarred bits to heat up.
"Dagonet?" Bors asked, raspy voice thick with emotion. "I didn'...I didn' kill the bloody lad, did I?" Dagonet shook his head.
"I don't know, Bors. He hasn't been responding much and… and I'm not certain at this point. But I do know that he's sick, Bors, and you didn't cause that."
"No. But I caused this," he muttered, motioning first to the weather and then to Galahad's cold body. He looked away and shrugged as Gawain came up behind them. "I let him down." Turning to Gawain he held his hands out pleadingly. "I'm sorry," he murmured, and was surprised when Gawain's fist came out of seemingly nowhere and smashed into the side of his face.
"He isn't dead yet! Don't talk about him like he is! Apologize to him, you hear me?" Gawain stalked off, shaking his hand slightly, and Lancelot smiled.
"I think he's come to himself," he whispered to Arthur, a wide smirk spreading over his face. Arthur nodded, a half smile on his own countenance.
"Yes," he answered, then flicked his eyes back to Galahad's still form next to the fire, blankets and fur piled on top of him. "Let's just hope he comes to himself too." Lancelot nodded, suddenly serious.
"Of course," he said, returning to Galahad's side and awkwardly placing a hand on his face. "He feels a bit warmer than before, Dag, and he isn't shivering as badly." Dag nodded, a relieved smile on his face as he too touched Galahad's forehead.
"I think you are right," he said, then frowned. "We must hope now that his earlier illness will not be complicated by this. I fear that this exposure will only have compounded things."
The knights settled down into the snow, setting up their own bedrolls and stoking the fire burning in their midst. Dinner was cooked and eaten in silence, the normal banter and laughing starkly absent. Tristan came back and switched with Lancelot for patrol, looking silently at Galahad's still form. Though Arthur and Bors were both lying in their beds, neither were asleep, and it seemed as though no one would be able to rest properly while their youngest was so ill.
"How is he?" Tristan inquired quietly sitting next to Dagonet. Dag shrugged, casting a sideways glance at Gawain, who had stiffened as he heard their conversation.
"We need to get him to shelter," Dagonet said, and Tristan nodded. "He's goin' t' have a real fever, he keeps goin' th' way he is right now." They spoke in hushed tones, trying not to give Gawain any hint of what they were discussing, but he heard anyway and glared at them.
"He's going to be fine," he spat, and Dagonet looked at him, hands raised placatingly.
"I know, Gawain, but he still needs a warm bed to sleep in and shelter from the weather," Dagonet said, and Gawain turned back to the fire without saying anything. Tristan stared silently at him, apparently deep in thought.
"There's a village, not too far from here," he said quietly, and Dagonet looked up at him.
"How do you know?" He asked, and Tristan shrugged slightly.
"Saw it when I was on patrol." Dagonet shook his head, acutely aware of just how good Tristan's eyesight was.
"You think we can get there tomorrow?" he asked, and Tristan looked into the fire for a moment before answering.
"Yes. I think we could, but we'll need to ride hard. It's in a valley to our northwest, and though it isn't too far, it may be hard to get down there." Dagonet nodded, chin in hand. Gawain had moved to sit behind Galahad, watching him with an unwavering gaze.
"He needs sleep," Tristan remarked, and Dagonet snorted. "You want to tell him that?" Tristan smiled a half smile and shrugged.
"Someone should." He got up and approached Gawain. Dagonet watched in awe as Tristan spoke to Gawain, who nodded before standing and making his way to his bed. Tristan sat down next to Galahad, pulling his knees up and resting his chin on them. He didn't speak, didn't move to touch the sleeping knight, but there was something very affectionate in the way he sat, clearly protective.
"Dagonet! Dag, something's wrong," Arthur hissed, shaking Dag's shoulders. Dagonet blinked his eyes slowly open, peering at his leader's worried face.
"What?" He asked blurrily.
"Something's wrong with Galahad," Arthur persisted, and Dagonet snapped awake.
"What's going on?" He demanded, clambering out of his bedding. The problem became clear in the flickering firelight, apparently stoked by Bors. Galahad was thrashing, limbs flailing, and a low, keening moan was erupting from his parched lips. Lancelot was worriedly holding the writhing body in his arms, Gawain pacing next to him, clearly distraught. As soon as he saw Dagonet, he turned to him with wide, panicked eyes.
"Dag, you've got to do something!" He cried, and Dag nodded.
"I know," he said, hoping he sounded calmer than he felt. "Get him nearer the fire." Moving quickly, Dagonet soaked a rag in the pot of water that Gawain had gathered earlier and that had grown slightly cold.
"Loosen his shirt by his neck, just there," he ordered, wiping the wet rag across the fevered face, cheeks rosied and flushed, lips cracked and bleeding. Dagonet spared a moment to look up and was somewhat surprised by what he saw. Gawain looked terrified, unkempt hair even worse than usual, eyes bloodshot and watery. Lancelot stared worriedly at the youngest knight, one hand playing at the fringe on his shirt, fingers nervously playing with the fraying wool. Arthur paced beside the fire, glancing fearfully every once in a while at the sick knight. Bors was muttering to himself, head in hands, next to the fire, quite near Arthur's pacing, and Tristan gripped his sword as if he wanted to kill whatever was hurting his friend.
They'd become, Dagonet realized, a sort of family, despite everything they said to the contrary, despite their differing opinions and personalities, despite, or perhaps because of, the intense situations they found themselves in nearly every day. They'd become brothers, willing to die for one another.
He'd be damned if he let them lose their youngest now.
"Gawain, I want you to take over for me. I have some herbs that may help in my bag, I'll need to make a tea…" His voice trailed off as he considered what all he needed to do. Arthur spoke up suddenly, startling him.
"Tristan and I are going to find the easiest route to the village he saw earlier. I imagine we'll be wanting to get Galahad out of here first thing tomorrow morning." Dag nodded gratefully and turned back to his patient. It was going to be a long night.