The title is an old saying referring to the potentially disastrous consequences of letting seemingly small responsibilities go. A reminder that humans are, and have always been the frailest of creatures.
This is my first Merlin fanfiction, it's angst—that's all I write . Feedback would be very much appreciated! The chapters will be short, as is this little story that demanded to be written.
It had started out as a fine fall morning in Camelot, sunny and warm, beautiful fall colours on the leaves. A perfect day for a hunt! Apparently though the gods disagreed with this plan as Arthur and his knights had not managed take one animal all day. Merlin, ever faithful, trudged behind them gamely with an unwieldy pack of supplies.
By early evening they turned back, the temperature was dropping steadily and a spot by the fire seemed much more appealing that tracking through the cold wet forest after non-existent quarry. Although the men were freezing by the time Camelot was in sight, that didn't stop them from having a spot of fun. The cold rain had turned to slush and the occasional snowball was lobbed back and forth as the men slipped and slid on their feet. Never at Arthur mind-you, everyone but Merlin knew better than to pelt the crown prince with a ball of ice, and Merlin was plenty busy just trying to keep his feet. Smiling at his motley crew, Arthur finally spotted something worth hunting, a bush bristling with fat pigeons. Just as Arthur held up his hand to get the attention on his troop, Merlin was pelted with a snowball and went down in a loud and clumsy heap! The birds were off in a heart beat.
'Merlin! Have I ever told you that you are the worst servant I've ever had?'
With his typical warm smile Merlin righted himself. 'Yes, I believe you have sire, but never hurts to hear it again.'
Arthur and Merlin arrived back at the prince's chambers to find that the fire had long since grown cold—the place was freezing!
'Cold as a witch's heart!' Arthur noted as he bundled himself in his warmest cloak.
'Merlin, catch' he called, as Merlin turned from his task at the hearth, a cloak dropped over his head. 'I see the cold hasn't improved your coordination Merlin'
'It hasn't improved your manners either I dare say' Merlin quipped as he gratefully pulled the cloak around his narrow frame. He stooped back to the hearth.
Before long, Merlin had the fire roaring. As Arthur sat fortifying himself with a goblet of wine, Merlin sat on his haunches, warming his hands by the fire. 'It's not my fault you know. The pigeons. Mort threw an ice ball at me.'
Arthur smiled 'Yes, yes, clearly the decorated knight of Camelot is responsible for the world's clumsiest servant slipping for what must be the hundredth time…'
'Yup.' Merlin looked over his shoulder at the prince looking like an enchanted bat…nothing but ears sticking out of a coffee-brown cloak.
'Of course. Nonetheless, that was quite the day!' In what he considered a particularly philanthropic gesture Arthur added, 'Merlin, why don't you call it a night early? I'm going to be asleep by the time I'm done this cup!'
'You're sure sire?' Merlin asked, he had actually wanted to sit by the fire a few minutes more.
'Of course I'm sure, you're soaked, go home!'
'Thanks then, goodnight.' Merlin headed for the door.
'Night Merlin.' Just as Merlin made it out of sight, Arthur remembered…'Oh, Merlin?'
Merlin's head poked around the corner 'Sire?'
'Can you stop at the kennel and make sure the hounds are covered? It's bloody freezing.'
'Of course, goodnight' he disappeared around the bend with a bob of his head.
Merlin poked his head around the corner yet again 'Yes…' he spoke with a 'hurry up you sod' tone that only he seemed to get away with.
Arthur made a twirling hand gesture Merlin didn't understand 'What?'
'My cloak Merlin?'
'Right, sorry.' Fully back in the room, Merlin took off the cloak hesitantly, missing its warmth before he even got it onto the peg it came from, with several others. Then he was off.
'What?!' Merlin turned back yet again with a smart comment on the tip of his tongue.
Arthur was smiling "Goodnight Merlin.'
Merlin stood, dripping wet, hair askew, looking even less substantial than usual with his clothes plastered to him. He was instantly transformed as his trademark smile lit his features. As always, it was true, wide and warm, reaching his eyes…he could never stay annoyed with Arthur. 'Goodnight Arthur.'