Title: Frozen Waters
Category: BBC Merlin - Canon, Gen.
Characters/Pairings: Merlin, Arthur, The Knights.
Summary: Hypothermia's pretty easy to catch when you fall though the ice.
N/A: This has been sitting half completed on my computer for a very, very long time and I have finally got around to working on it again :D Chapter lengths will vary, as I just write until I reach a good point to stop. Anyway on with the fic!
Sunlight filtered in though the small window, illuminating the mostly shadow concealed figure curled tightly under several miss matched blankets. The faint yet growing sound of movement came from behind the room's single door.
"Merlin!" Gaius' voice floated though the darkness, whilst the warlock in question curled up tighter and shuffled deeper under the blankets, so that only the top of his head covered in messy black hair was visible. "Merlin!" Gaius said again, his voice rising slightly, before he pushed open the door to Merlin's room flooding it with light. "You better get up, or you'll be late /again/"
"But Gaius it's cold." Merlin mumbled, rolling over so as to face Gaius as he spoke his blue eyes half lidded with sleep. Sighing audibly Gaius tugged sharply on Merlin's blankets exposing him to the cold, sharp winter air.
"Gaius!" Merlin cried out, instinctively curling in on himself, and reaching out with his left hand to try and restore the blankets back to their original position.
"Well if you had gotten up on your own, I wouldn't have had to do that." Gaius responded, whilst folding the blankets up, out of his wards reach. "Now get up."
Sighing in defeat Merlin uncurled himself, blinking rapidly so as to clear the haze of sleep from his eyes. Standing from his bed Merlin picked up his black trousers, his blue top, red scarf and brown jacket, before hastily pulling them on. Frowning Merlin scanned the room spotting one of his boots lying discarded next to the door, which he quickly put on whilst still searching for his other one. Finally noticing it poking out from under a shirt, which lay just under his bed. Signing Merlin picked it up leaving the shirt where it was, and shoving the boot on, before he quickly hurried out into the main room.
Gaius barely glanced up from this work as Merlin jogged down the steps, grabbing a slice of bread from the selection on the table and sticking it straight in his mouth.
"See you later." Merlin called around the bread, whilst exiting though the simple wooden door of Gaius' quarters.
Arriving at Arthur's room, Merlin balanced a tray of food in one hand as he pushed the door open with the other revealing the Prince's large shadow filled room. Stepping inside Merlin kicked the door closed letting it bang loudly into its frame, drawing a slight moan from Arthur at the sound.
"Morning!" Merlin cry cheerily, throwing open the nearest set of curtains, and grinning broadly as Arthur tried to bury himself deeper into his bed, emitting another moan as he did so.
"Come on! I didn't get to have a lie in, so why should you?" Merlin continued, whilst kneeling to stoke the all but burnt out fire, he let his magic flow out of him sparking onto the wood and letting the fire grow.
Across the room Arthur rolled over twisting his sheets around his legs in the process. "It's not your job to lazy around Merlin." Arthur said sitting up, shivering as his blankets slide off of his shoulders exposing them to the still fairly chilled air of the room. "Gods it's cold, hurry up and get me some warm clothes."
"Of course, sire" Merlin replied, hurrying over to the cupboard and grabbing a red shirt, brown trousers and one of Arthur's long, thick brown trench coat, whilst Arthur finally climbed out of his bed and stepped around his dressing screen.
"Oh, Merlin I need you to prepare supplies for a two day hunt." Arthur called, reaching around for his clothing. Signing Merlin replied, as he tugged his own jacket tighter about himself.
"In this Weather? It's bloody freezing."
"Yes well it's the first clear day we've had in a while so I want to make use of it." Was Arthur's dismissive reply, as he stepped out from behind the screen, as made his way over to the table to eat his breakfast.
"I'll just go sort everything out then shall I." Merlin said, not expecting a reply and he took a step backwards toward the door, before he span around on his heels and left the room.
Merlin stumbled down the stairs as he lugged not only his own small bag but Arthur's, /in his opinion unnecessarily huge bag/, along with many varying weapons. On his way to collect the supplies Merlin had run back to his room and picked up his second jacket, which he quickly pulled on, on top of the one, he was already wearing an action which had however only served to make the warlock even later.
Hurrying down the corridor Merlin reached the exit leading into the snow dusted court yard Merlin spotted Arthur along with Gwaine, Elyan, Leon and Percival all mounted up on their respective horses, deep red cloaks flowing gracefully in the slight breeze, and hiding the many layers each of them wore to keep out the cold.
"Ah! There you are Merlin , hurry up I would prefer to get something done before night fall." Arthur said noticing the approach of his manservant. Said manservant merely nodded in response, hurrying over to a stable hand to get his own horse, on whose saddle he quickly loaded up with the equipment, before he climbed on himself.
"Hey Merlin just ignore Princess over there he's just being his usually grumpy self." Gwaine said waving his hand in Arthur's direction dismissively. Arthur rolled his eyes from behind Gwaine, whilst the other knights grinned slightly at Gwaine's usually antics.
Turning his horse and casting one last glance over the assembled knights and his manservant Arthur nudged his horse into a brisk walk, whilst keeping one ear fixed on the sounds of five sets of hooves behind him, as the rest of the group made to follow their Prince.
Almost two hours later and the party had travelled deep into the snow covered woods, whilst the sky over head had slowly begun to darken, as the sun make its way passed its zenith. The six riders entered a fairly flat clearing, where the snow lay almost undisturbed but for a few small animal foot prints.
"We'll dismount here and continue on foot." Arthur announced, pulling his horse up and halting at the edge of the clearing near the tree line. He and the knights dismounted easily, their cloaks causing the snow to fly up as they made contact with the ground. "Merlin, hurry up and sort the horses already!" Arthur shouted when said manservant remained seated on his horse. Grinning at Arthur's exasperated expression Merlin slid off of his own horse, making sure to plant his feet firmly on the ground so as to avoid slipping over.
Reaching out a hand in a silent request Leon took a hold of Arthur's horse's reins, leading the horse along with his own over to Merlin who was tying up his own horses reins, as Gwaine, Elyan and Percival dealt with their own horses, tying them onto trees nearby. Leon passed the reins of Arthur's horse over to Merlin who quickly fastened them to a tree as Leon did the same to his own.
Once the knights had finished they joined Arthur who was examining some of the animal's tracks around the edges of the clearing. "Here." Arthur said pointing, so that the others knew to what he was referring. "These tracks are very fresh." Elyan who had bent down to inspect the tracks himself choose to remain silent but nodded in agreement to Arthur's statement.
"Alright then." Arthur said straightening up, and looking at his fellow knights with an expression that said he was eager to get going.
Back with the horses Merlin had finished unpacking all of Arthur's hunting equipment, balancing the equipment in his arms he trotted up to the others, shivering slightly as a cool breeze blew though the clearing.
"Try and keep up /Mer/lin." Arthur said as he watched the warlock's approach, whilst the rest of the knights went to join their Prince in following the tracks.
Arthur crept thought the trees his eyes constantly flicking between the ground and the forest ahead, his breath fogging in front of his face as he went. Leon and Elyan followed closely behind whilst Gwaine sort ambled along seeming to not be paying a whole lot attention to what is happening around him. Whereas Percival would occasionally look down at the tracks the prince was following, though mainly focused on the surroundings watching for any other signs of life.
A short ways behind the knights Merlin walked keeping his eyes fixed on the retreating forms of their backs. Merlin shifted his load as the heavy equipment started to dig uncomfortably into his arm.
The group continued on for a short while, uninterrupted as most animals had hidden away from the sudden cold snap of weather.
The sound of shuffling to the left of the group caught Percival's attention, his head twisting towards the sound, as he slowed his pace, his eyes scanning the frosted over bushes. Minuets passed with no other sounds occurring so Percival glance back to check on Merlin, who has gained a fair amount of ground whilst the knight had slowed his speed, he nodded once before he turned back to the rest of the group and continued after them his legs covering large distances of ground as he made an effort to get closer to his fellow knights.
"Damn it!" Arthur's voice carried on the faint breeze reaching the ears of the whole party.
"What's wrong now princess?" Gwaine called as Arthur, Leon and Elyan came to halt just outside of the tree line.
"The trail just disappears here." Arthur exclaimed pointing to the ground, an expression of disbelief and annoyance on his face, his eyes serving the surrounding area, mainly dominated by a large frozen over lake.
"Really? Well that was a big waste of time wasn't it?" Gwaine stated as he and Percival joined the other three in examining the ground.
"And you told me off for wasting time." Merlin muttered as he joined the knights as well, though the slightly pull of a smile at his lips showed he didn't mean anything by what he said.
Looking briefly up at the darkening sky Arthur said. "Let's take a break here then head back to the horses and we can set up camp afterwards." his suggestion was met with five nodding heads. "Merlin, get th-" Arthur started, but whatever he was going to asked was lost at almost roar of about ten bandits, as the charged out of the trees, quickly blocking off of any escape into the trees, and backing the group against the lake.
Arthur and the knights drew their swords and engaged with the attacking bandits. Merlin having no sword of this own, dropped all the stuff he was carry but for short throwing spear, which he quickly held up, both hands braced along the apart along the shaft of the weapon, as a sword wielding bandit charged at what he thought to be an almost defenceless servant.
The air was quickly filled with the sounds of battle as steel met steel. Staggering back from the bandits initial blow of the bandits sword on the hunting spear, Merlin felt the surface beneath this feet became a lot smoother, and he had to adjust his weight slightly so as to avoid falling over.
Merlin, using the few seconds it would take the bandits to attack again glanced down, only to find he was no longer standing on solid ground but the frozen surface of the lake.
Unfortunately by using those few seconds to assess his situation, the bandit had recovered from the impact of having his blow blocked and had swung his sword once again this time, using both hands to give his attack extra strength.
The bandit's sword met with the shaft of the spear once again, but this time the extra force behind the blow caused the wood to splinter with a resounding crack, which drew the attention of several of the knights who managed to spare the servant a quick, worried glance before they had to go back to dealing with the remaining bandits.
Merlin stumbled back even farther out onto the icy surface of the lake and managing to slip over in the process, the bandit eagerly following his progress. Digging one of the ends of the splinted spear into the rough surface of the ice Merlin levered himself up into a stand position, his eyes glued on the advancing figure of the bandit, who now had a sadistic grin plastered on this face as he came to a stop about two metres away from where Merlin still stood.
Merlin blinked in confusion at this move, but his expression quickly became one of horror as he watched the bandit lift his sword high above his hand, the tip pointed straight down at the surface of the ice, before he brought the sword down, with an almost deafening crack.
The sword pierced the ice deeply, sending cracks cob webbing out towards the centre of the lake where the ice was thinnest and towards Merlin, who was watching the cracks draw nearer and nearer to where he stood.
The bandit's grin widened as he pulled his sword out and jammed it back in to the ice causing the surface to splinter even more, before he sneered in Merlin's direction, and turned tail and ran back towards land.
Back on land Arthur and the knights had finished disposing of the bandits, when Leon spotted the bandit previously attacking Merlin charging across the lakes surface towards them with his sword raise ready to attack.
"Arthur!" Leon called, running past his Prince and meeting the bandit's attack with his own more skillful one and easily managing to kill him without sustaining any damage to himself as he did so.
Arthur shot Leon a grateful grin, before turning his attention the rest of this knights and taking stock of their various injuries, which considering the number of bandit they had just had to fight off was not many. Percival had sustained a cut across this left leg, which although long was extremely shallow. Elyan had a large bruise on the right side of his face which had already started to turn a nasty looking grey. Gwaine had a scrap on this right arm from one of the bandit's swords which had just managed to glaze him. Leon had no injuries as far as Arthur could tell, though that didn't necessarily mean much as he himself knew for a fact that whilst he appeared unharmed as well if he were to lift his shirt and chain mail there would be a fairly dark bruise there from a bandit who after being disarmed had tried to head butt Arthur.
Whilst Arthur was busy assessing his knights Merlin , had been desperately searching for a way past the steadily growing cracks along the icy surface of the lake, but to no avail, and he instead found himself backing away from the edge in an attempt to escape the fracturing ice.
"Merlin!" The shout startled Merlin out of his task of avoiding the ice cracks as his head whipped around to the source of the voice, only to see Arthur and the other knights all staring at him, as they hurried towards the edge of the lake. Unfortunately because of his momentary distraction, Merlin's innate clumsiness decided to make itself known, as he slipped over once again and landed hard of him back his breathe leaving his lungs in one quick rush on impact.
The ice around Merlin gave an ominous creak, before even more cracks danced across the surface away from where Merlin lay.
"Merlin, you need to move now!" Arthur's cry was muffled in Merlin's ears however as the ice finally gave in to the stress it had suffered in such a short space of time. It started near Merlin's feet, this once solid ice falling away into small chucks which easily sunk at the slightest amount of additional weight.
Merlin pulled his legs towards his chest away from the progressively growing hole, lake water spreading across the top of the ices and making the surface even more perilous. Scrambling upright Merlin looks around frantically, unsure as the best way to go about getting off of the lake without falling into it.
"Merlin. You have got to move!" Gwaine shouted, whilst gesturing for Merlin to come towards him.
"Are you sure that's the best idea?" Elyan asked cautiously his eyes travelling across the crack damaged surface.
"It is no more dangerous then, him going any other way. But a least if he can get any closer we may be able to help him easier." Gwaine argued, whilst behind him Percival nodded along with his reasoning. Elyan met Gwaine's eyes understanding where he was coming from.
"You need to just go for it Merlin it's not going to get any easier." Leon called a small amount of worry creeping into his voice as he watched the youngest member of their group.
Merlin nodded resigned, though he knew the others were unlikely to see the movement. Glancing at Arthur one more time, Merlin the glued his eyes to the floor if it could be called that before stepping forwards at first hesitantly, but then with more speed as he managed to successfully take a few steps.
On the shore the knights worry begin to dissipate as Merlin got closer to the edge of the lake however, Merlin's success was short lived as he took another step and the ice gave way.
"Merlin!" the collective shouts from the knights almost drowning out the cracking of the ice as Merlin fell into the ice depths.