Word of the Day Challenge: Intractable
Intractable – stubborn/unmanageable/hard to treat (e.g. pain)
Warning: spoilers up to the end of series 3 of Merlin
Disclaimer: Don’t own Merlin
He couldn’t help but hiss in pain when he began to regain consciousness. A sharp pain was shooting through his abdomen, and his head felt unusually heavy.
The air tasted musty as it passed over his lips, as though they were the first to disturb it in centuries. He shifted his back experimentally, and frowned in discomfort as it lodged the small stones upon which he was lying, so that they dug in uncomfortably.
Realising that he had no idea where he was, he peeled his eyes open, groaning slightly as he blinked to clear away the blurriness.
He was still adjusting to the darkness when he heard movement from beside him.
“Hello, young sorcerer.”
Gwaine flinched, not sure that he would ever get used to the dragon’s deep voice.
The movement shifted something that was lying on top of him. The knight looked down, seeing that there was an arm sprawled across his torso, the hand resting softly but protectively on his shoulder.
He followed the limb back with his eyes, his head flopping to the left.
Beside him, Merlin was lying on his front, his face angled towards him, eyes closed.
Gwaine felt a flutter of fear, before the dragon spoke again.
“He is alive. Just sleeping.”
Gwaine breathed a sigh of relief, a smile tugging at his lips at the pure peacefulness on Merlin’s face. It was so rare that he got to see him like this: in a moment where he forgot about the weight on his shoulders and the illness in his mind.
He wished he could gaze on that image forever.
Alas, he had questions, and so he reluctantly turned his head towards the dragon.
“What happened?” he asked, his voice croaky. He longed for a sip of ale – just a sip – to refresh his sore throat.
“You were injured in the battle. Merlin asked me to bring you here, so that he could heal you.”
Gwaine nodded in understanding, looking around. They appeared to be in some kind of cave, darkness pressing in on all sides apart from an almost perfect column of sunlight beaming down to the ground from a hole some mile and a half above their heads.
The dragon was sitting on the floor of the cave, and just beyond him, Gwaine could see what looked like the entrance – or, at least, what was once the entrance. Rocks were piled on top of one another from the floor to the ceiling, as though there had been an avalanche once they were inside.
The dragon looked back at the wall of rock, following the knight’s confused gaze.
“That was your doing,” he explained solemnly as he turned back to Gwaine.
A flicker of amusement crossed the dragon’s face.
“You were running a fever during the night. The rock fall was a result of your delirium.”
Gwaine’s smile was long dead, the fear having returned – but this time, it was directed towards himself.
“How? I’m not that powerful. I’ve only been studying magic for a few years.”
“Under the best teacher that it is possible to have.” The dragon gestured towards Merlin with a movement of his head. “Under the tutelage of Emrys, you can learn in a year what would take most sorcerers a decade. You are extremely powerful, young sorcerer.”
Gwaine’s heart was pounding in his chest, his breath coming in quick, sharp gasps. He forced himself to breathe slowly, reminding himself if all that he had told Merlin when he had been on the verge of a panic attack, until he calmed down enough to change the subject. Slightly.
“Why didn’t you clear the entrance?”
“Merlin ordered me not to. He said that the rock fall would make it difficult for anyone to interrupt your healing.”
A rush of affection for the man next to him washed over Gwaine. He turned to look at him again, a lazy smile playing on his lips.
“He was quite intractable about the subject. I thought it most unwise, but I was unable to disobey.”
A sudden thought occurred to the knight, and he turned back to the dragon.
“How will we get out?”
The dragon said nothing; he angled his head upwards to the hole in the ceiling, which – from here – looked to be no larger than a gold coin, but in reality must have been big enough for a dragon to fit through.
“Oh…” the knight mumbled, feeling a wave of dizziness rush over him as he stared up at the patch of sunlight.
“You are still healing,” the dragon warned. “You must rest.”
Gwaine hummed in agreement, letting his head flop to the left as he blinked away the sun patches in his vision.
Merlin’s peaceful, sleeping face was the last thing he saw before closing his eyes.