Merlin hated winter. It wasn't so much the biting cold or snow storming across the lake or the endless isolation as he lay huddled in his cottage waiting out the chill. It wasn't the howling of the winds or the bare trees or the icy night sky. Those Merlin could accept. It was the natural rhythm of the seasons after all. He knew that when winter was done, spring would blossom again and there would be flowers and sweet grass and birds singing.
But when winter came, the lake froze. Sometimes it was deep enough that the ice almost touched the bottom. He was sure that the villagers, gathering ice for summer's ease, cutting and storing it in hay and shelter, were happy when the water thickened and froze. It would mean cool drinks and unruined meat in summer.
Merlin worried, though, about Arthur, about the lake. Worried that when Arthur awoke from destiny's sleep, if Merlin weren't there to help him, Arthur would be trapped under the ice. He worried that Arthur wouldn't be able to claw his way out, that he'd die again underneath winter's thrall, and Merlin wouldn't know until the ice melted and the lake was free again and Arthur's body rose to the surface at last.
It was ridiculous, of course. With all of Kilgharrah's promises of a king returned, even fate would not be so cruel as to bring Arthur back only to drown him again before he drew a second's breath.
But Merlin couldn't get it out of his head. Once thought, it was never unthought.
And so every day when he wasn't driven to shelter by harsh storms and thick snow, Merlin scanned the lake for frost, for water settling into ice, and prayed to the gods above, for an early spring.