Rating: PG - M
Pairing: Gwendal x Günter mainly, but there are other pairings in the background (Yozak x Conrart, Yuuri x Wolfram, etc.)
Genre: Survival, fluff, angst, romance
Summary: After the King's ship is attacked and lost, Gwendal finds himself ship-wrecked on an unknown island with Günter. As they help each other survive on the island, Gwendal tries to find a way to handle his suddenly known feelings towards his colleague and fellow castaway.
Notes: Once again, I would like to say a huuuuge thank you to the amazingly awesome puck_the_elf
for beta'ing this story for me! And so sorry for the lack of updates, RL has been super busy, but hopefully I can get the rest of this long chapter up soon! Enjoy!
There were two things Gwendal noticed when he awoke. The first being that it was early morning, meaning that Günter had reneged on his promise that he would wake Gwendal after three hours for his turn at night watch.
The second was that he was alone. That fact, however, didn't worry him too much considering that there was no sign of a struggle, and that Günter had left the sword...along with a note made from a scrap of journal paper and charred ash from their now dead fire.
Günter's cheery note of: Hope you slept well, Gwendal I went to look for breakfast. Be back soon! was crushed in Gwendal's fist. He was trying not to be too annoyed at his companion, even though he did feel well rested, but he could feel the oncoming tick lurking on the ends of his nerves.
With the sword in hand, Gwendal stalked into the jungle in the only direction they both knew where Günter could limp off to, and when he found Günter waist-deep in what he realized was the not-so-shallow stream bathing, Gwendal groused.
"I swear when I find strong enough rope, I am going to bind your legs and arms, Günter."
The other demon only gave him a cheeky smile. "And 'good morning' to you too, Gwendal. Care to join me?"
"I thought you were going to wake me after three hours," Gwendal continued, ignoring the pleasantries.
Günter shrugged as he tipped the scented shampoo out of its glass bottle and worked it into a lather. "You needed the sleep. You've been pushing yourself." And then as he worked the lather over his body, "Honestly, you've been getting after me about over exerting my foot, but you've been using your maryoku and your brute strength more than I have. Shinou help me, I did not have the heart to wake you."
Gwendal tried his hardest to keep his anger at bay. "But what about you? What if you injured yourself?" And then, pointing to the water, "Or drowned?"
Günter rolled his eyes. "It was a risk-"
"What did we say about risks, Günter? We cannot afford them."
Günter made to step closer to the bank where Gwendal was standing to make his point, but then slipped. Whatever comeback he was going to make was suddenly interrupted as the King's Advisor suddenly disappeared under the water.
It took a split second and the look of shock on Günter's face for Gwendal to push any idea that Günter was rinsing off his body and act by jumping into the stream near where Günter disappeared and then pulling the wet body from water.
Günter clung to him, coughing up the water that he had swallowed. "I slipped..."
Gwendal didn't have any time to feel vindicated as he offered Günter support out of the stream. He was too busy with the fact that Günter's very naked body was pressed up against his own form.
Normally, being around another male while naked would not have bothered him. He had grown up sharing communal baths with his family and other nobles in the palace and his cohorts at the military academy, but usually everyone kept mostly to themselves in an attempt to be modest and respectful.
But having Günter like this...was nothing of how a proper gentleman, let alone a noble, should be behaving. People slip, one helps them up, and the exchange is finished. Both parties do not clutch at the other for an extended period of time, even if one of said parties has a sprained ankle.
Günter must have noticed this as well because he was pushing away from Gwendal's form with a blush staining his cheeks. "Excuse me, Gwendal. Thank you."
Gwendal shrugged. "Now do you understand why I was upset?"
Günter made no response to the remark, other than to gingerly pick his way over where he had neatly laid out his clothes that were drying in the morning sun. "I hope you do not mind that I used some of the soap to wash my clothing."
Gwendal adverted his eyes from Günter's pale figure. "Not at all."
"I could wash your clothing if you like...if you'd like to bathe."
A heat was rising in Gwendal's own cheeks, and he felt the rise of flustered feelings that he usually would never acknowledge being capable of. "I should find food first. You can relight the fire when you return to the camp-"
"I already found breakfast," Günter said with a smile. "Over there. Near the bank, my bag is tied down there in the stream. I wanted to keep them fresh."
Gwendal followed Günter's hand to where it indicated the bag's location upstream, drifting in the current and secured to a rock with a bit of rope. Nearby on the bank, Gwendal saw Günter’s knife and a large branch with a bloodstained sharpened tip.
Curious, Gwendal waded into the stream to where the bag was and opened the flap: six medium sized fish were inside.
"All that talk of hunting last night, I thought I’d see what I could immediately manage," Günter called over his shoulder. "It took me a while to get us three apiece. I figured that since I was already wet, I would take a bath and clean myself up for the trouble..."
Mood now thoroughly lifted, Gwendal felt all previous anger towards his companion dissipate. “This is amazing, Günter. But your bag will get ruined if we keep using it like this."
He heard Günter limping along the bank behind him and turned to see that Günter had at least the sense of decency to have put on his undergarment.
“A small sacrifice, but I suppose I’ll have to wash that out too so that the blood and smell doesn’t attract unwanted pests.” And then, “Give me your trousers.”
Gwendal sputtered at the statement, but Günter continued. “Oh for heaven’s sake, Gwendal. Bathe. I’ll wash your clothing downstream, and by the time you come back to the camp, I’ll have the fish cooked. Don’t look at me as if I am compromising your virtue.”
Gwendal gulped. “I am no-“
“Clothes,” Günter said firmly with his hand out.
Gwendal made an annoyed noise, but then went about stripping (which was very hard to do gracefully waist deep in running water) off his pants, undergarment, and boots in the water. He handed it all over to Günter, pointedly ignoring the other’s pleased look, and took the bottle of soap Günter was offering him with the other hand.
The silver haired demon then picked up the bag and wandered downstream to were the current was quicker with Gwendal’s clothing. “I’ll leave your undergarment and boots on the rock over here so that you won’t have to walk through the jungle completely naked.”
Gwendal’s annoyed grunt was as close to a “thank you” that Günter was going to get, he decided.
When he did return to their little camp, Gwendal decided that he would have to do more than just tie Günter’s arms and legs to keep the other demon from exerting himself.
“I replenished our water,” Günter beamed up him as he approached, “and I went and got more carrots on my way back. I wanted to get more coconuts, but I felt a touch dizzy when I tried to knock them out of the tree with my maryoku, since I had spent a fair amount of it drying your clothes.”
No, Gwendal thought, he was going to have to pray that he found a strong chain and the ship’s anchor to secure Günter, it seemed.
“Breakfast?” Günter offered, indicating the fish that were being cooked over the fire. Gwendal’s stomach made its presence known at the mere thought of the first meal of meat that he had consumed since the ship.
Breakfast turned out to be a quick affair, as both of them were obviously hungrier than they wanted to admit themselves.
“Today you’re going to track the deer? Find anywhere else useful to move to?” Günter asked over their breakfast. Gwendal nodded. “And you?” He said it in a tone that carried the message of: You better say “stay off my foot and keep watch.”
“I was going to see about figuring out a signal. We don’t have anything at the moment that could be visible to any ships that pass.”
So much for keeping Günter off of his foot then, Gwendal thought, but a signal was something that was necessary to have, and Günter was correct in his statement that at the moment they did not have anything that would provide them something ships could see at a distance.
“I’ll look around a bit,” Günter said with a barely concealed yawn. “And then I’ll tend to the camp. Will you be gone long?”
“A few hours at most. I’ll bring back anything I think is useful for your review.”
Günter handed him his still wet (but obviously rinsed out) bag. “Please promise me that you will not ingest anything if you do not know what it is."
Gwendal nodded and left the fireside to dress.
He managed to trace himself back to where he had seen the deer the day befor, and found not only the hoofprints he presumed were from yesterday, but another identical set that seemed to be fresh.
Gwendal moved forward along the bank being careful not to tread too deep into thick brush and managed to follow the prints for a good while until they disappeared over a rocky hillside. He spent a good hour retracing his steps, looking to see if the deer had gone in another direction, but after seeing nothing else indicating otherwise, Gwendal decided to climb up the hillside to see where it lead.
Two hours later he was panting with tongue parched and legs feeling wobbly from the long trek, but the site before him was enough to make him push through his discomfort.
He was standing in the middle of a grassy plateau that gave him for the first time a good look at the side of the island. In front of him were a series of steppes that continued up along what he realized was either a large hill, or a small mountain. The sides of the plateau he was standing upon dropped off into the cliff side of the hill/mountain, but below he could see the sandy beach that surrounded the jungle and hillsides. He wasn’t quite above the tree canopy, but if he continued heading forward and climbing up the steppes, he would soon be on the top of the mountain, or steep hill…he wasn’t sure. He’d probably need to ask Günter, who would have some knowledge to make a judgment.
There were trees on a few of the steppes with vines. Although smaller and thinner than their counterparts on the jungle floor, their vines provided Gwendal a much needed drink of water and the energy to push on.
When he had finally reached the summit, he found that he was indeed on a hill because there was a much larger brother to the west that had been obscured by the trees and his low vantage point.
But here this hill looked over a valley of grassy plane, whose horizon vanished out over the cliffs that looked out towards the ocean. From where he stood he could see off in the distance the cliffs that surrounded the cove that he an Günter had taken shelter in on the first night and the beginning of where the beach curved around this side of the island to continue on its winding way.
If it hadn’t been for the fact that they were stuck here indefinitely, Gwendal would admit to himself that this place was beautiful, serene even.
The grass beneath his boots was thick and springy, and despite the valley being surrounded by the hills and the mountain to the west, there was ample sunlight, protection from any high winds, and they were potentially sheltered from any predators as there were very few spots Gwendal could discern that a predator or enemy could be lurking to overcome them.
This would be an ideal spot, Gwendal thought has he looked over the plateau’s edge. Even though it seemed high, he could easily with the help of his maryouku carve a way up here into the valley that they could access from the beach easily.
The only problem was that there was a lack of a water source. Right now there was little in their inventory to properly store a good amount of water, and beyond storing the water, they were now about an hour's walk from the falls.
Gwendal looked to the west over the steppes and the platues that where behind him in the direction of where he had seen the deer.
“That water has to be coming from somewhere…” he muttered out loud, and he began to pick his way to where he estimated the lake was.
The higher he climbed, the less grass he encountered, and smooth stone began to rise out from under the green, and then after about half an hour, he heard the rushing sound of water.
It was a tributary to the falls that seemed to come out from the steepest point of the hill that was well beyond Gwendal’s strength and ability to climb. The water was warm to the touch with a quick current. He walked a ways back to see how far the stream went before it dropped over the side and found that it disappeared again into a cavern mouth which he assumed was the opening for the falls.
Around him with the rushing waters of falls and the call of the ocean, Gwendal could hear the wildlife that he knew had always been there, but this was the first time Gwendal had stopped during his frantic search to find immediate supplies to really listen. There were birds, the occasional chirping of woodland creatures that Gwendal recognized from the forests from home.
They could survive here. It was stupid to come to this realization at this point, but this was the first moment since he had awoken on the island that Gwendal realized that survival was a sure thing.
There was food that could be hunted; there was water; and now a safe place that offered them not only concealment, but a good vantage point to keep a look out for any ships.
Plus there was stone. With his maryoku he could use his power to construct a few walls to provide a shelter. The stone would be better against the wind and rain; he hadn’t bothered attempting to make walls with the sand, as they would crumble from the first bought of rain unless he was continuously feeding the structure his power. But the stone would stay put…and while he was on the subject, he could probably create a cistern to catch any rain water… or maybe…
Thousands of possibilities were flooding to him now. Of course he knew there was a high possibility that many of these ideas would either not work or were inefficient, but they were proof of his hope that this task ahead of him could be faced.
They could survive, live off the land, restore their strength, and as long as the risks were kept to a minimum, everything boiled down to just waiting for a rescue.
As he stooped by the water to quench his thirst and fill his stomach, he thought on that last point. For half a day he had been climbing with the ocean in his peripheral sight, and he had not seen a single ship.
Approximately three days had almost passed, and still nothing.
The pang of fear shot through him, the one that seemed to whisper in his mind that he and Günter were stuck out here for the rest of their days.
What if they were here, forgotten; mistakenly mourned by their loved ones who would eventually find the strength to move on with their lives?
He and Günter were trapped here on an island. Again, it was a stupid realization, but now the true magnitude was weighing down on his mind: trapped. Trapped and at the mercy of the island itself and their ability to adapt.
Gwendal swallowed. His mouth suddenly felt dry, and he took a few more mouthfuls of the water to calm his growing hysteria.
He needed to be strong. Strong like he always had to be for his country and kingdom. There was another person on this island that was relying on him. Gwendal knew that he could not allow his companion to die just because he was on the top of a tall hill (or mountain…really, he needed to bring Günter up here to figure this out) having a panic attack.
The sky was turning to late afternoon, and soon it would be getting dark; not an ideal time to be traipsing about the jungle. So he took a few moments to prepare himself for the journey back down to the beach, sating his thirst and gathering bits of flora and some blades of a thicker type of grass he had passed on his way up to bring back for Günter’s review.
As he began his trek down, he took a moment to reaffirm that they could be able survive and ignored the thought that asked “would they?”
His streak of optimism continued when he returned to find a pair of fat squirrels being cleaned on Günter’s new “work bench”, so that Gwendal did not have the strength to be irritated that Günter had once again ventured alone into the jungles on his injured foot.
“Good news, I figured out how to make snares,” Günter greeted him on his return to the camp. “Although, I think it is beginner's luck really…these animals do know that they should fear us. I was shocked that I caught the pair of them so quickly.”
“When did you set them up?” Gwendal asked as he set about adding more kindling to their fire, then smoothing out a patch of sand so that he could draw a diagram of where he had ventured during the day. Perhaps while they still had some light he could persuade Günter to copy the diagram into his journal and take notes on what they had found so far on the island. Odd, he thought, how normal this seemed; like one of their usual internal meetings on affairs of state.
“This morning,” Günter called over his shoulder as he began to fit the pieces of squirrel on a fresh set of “skewers”. “I didn’t say anything about them because I did not want to get our hopes up if they had not worked…that, and I figured I was already pushing your patience with me after the incident in the river. I don’t think you would have been pleased with me had I mentioned I had done more on my foot that you realized.”
Gwendal rolled his eyes but did not comment. Sometimes the other demon knew him so well.
With the squirrels roasting on the fire, Günter settled beside him, looking over Gwendal’s shoulder to see his handiwork with the map. “What have you got there, Gwendal?”
“A better place to stay.”
He told Günter of the planes that were nestled between the steppes and the hill (it’s probably a small mountain, Gwendal) and the beginnings of a plan that he had to move everything they had up to the steppes.
“We should gather everything here first,” Günter said as opened his journal and began to scribble down the notes as best as he was able with a burnt end of wood from the fire. “Which would mean going back to that cove to procure the sail and anything else of use from the wreckage.”
“Provided that it hasn’t been swept back out to sea by now.”
“Let’s be optimistic, Gwendal dear; but perhaps we should take a further look around the island? Really explore it? We have only seen what seems to be a fraction of our surroundings. What if there are people on the other side?”
“Don’t you think they would have come upon us by now? It’s been three days.” He stood up to dust the sand from his legs. “Surely natives of this island would have been by here already. It does not look, at least from my vantage point, that it would take more than two full days to trek around this island.”
Günter finished the sentence he was working on before he flipped his battered journal closed. “Perhaps we should take two days to explore? Or rather we both go off in opposite directions and meet in the middle-“
“No,” Gwendal said with a start. “We stay together. I know we could cover more ground, but I'd rather not go too far into the unknown without having a means to know if you were in danger or how to find you. Should the need arise to explore the rest of the island, we will do it methodically.”
Günter nodded and then said with a sigh, “That would be best. Not to be negative, but at the rate our rescue prospects are going, we may need to find a means to pass the time.”
“I take it you saw nothing either.”
The older demon shook his head as he busied himself with bringing their well-done squirrel meat off of the fire. “It has been three days…you would think that something would have passed us by now…we cannot be too far off from the wreck…oh, it’s probably nothing. I am sure we’ll see something by the end of the week, Gwendal. These things do take time. We were, after all, in open waters. It might have taken some time for people to have been rallied…”
Gwendal sighed. He didn’t want to think about how indefinite their tenure would be here, but that realization was enough to stymie his good mood.
“You said the water was warm?”
Gwendal looked up to receive the offered meat. “Water?”
“The water from the top of the falls? You said it was warm?”
Gwendal nodded. “Yes, it was. I thought it was odd, but then perhaps the water receives direct sunlight…”
“Or there are hot springs.”
Gwenal made a puzzled expression at his companion. “Well think about it. You said that the water seemed to be coming from the mountain before it ran off towards the falls. There is no way that water exposed to the sun for that short a distance would be completely warm…are you sure it wasn’t just on the surface?”
“No, I am sure that it was warm the whole way.”
Günter stretched suddenly. “Wouldn’t it be nice? If there were hot springs? It would be a good place to bathe, not to mention…relax.”
Gwendal couldn’t help but smile at his friend’s almost cat-like grin over the possibility. “Providing that it isn’t hot enough to boil us. Although, I would prefer relaxing in the baths at the castle.”
Günter snorted. “As if you even go to the baths. I have never seen you in there, Gwendal, except for prefunctionary reasons.”
“I prefer to bathe by myself. After an entire day of the whole castle running in and out of my office, the last thing I want is company while I am bathing.”
“Well then,” Günter said with a smile, “what about relaxing?”
“It’s the same thing-“
“It is not, and you know it,” Günter tutted. “Honestly, no wonder you have those lines on your forehead. You don’t even know how, let alone what it means to relax.”
“I have my own ways, Günter. Just because I don’t prefer to sit around naked with others in a warm bath doesn’t mean I do not know how to take time for myself.”
There was a slight pause before Gwendal added, “If there are indeed hotsprings here, I move that the time spent in them is for personal reflection.”
Günter hmmed at this. “I agree. If it does turn out to be that you and I are the only ones on this island, we would need a bit of time apart before I drive you crazy and make you rue the day that you rescued me.”
“That’s not what I meant. I meant-“
But Günter was already there to (incorrectly) finish his sentence. “Oh…,” he said suddenly with a blush of embarrassment spreading across his face. "You mean….well I guess that is prudent. I mean we are males of a certain age-“
“No!” Gwendal spit it out as fast as he was able. He could feel the heat rising in his own cheeks. “N-no. That’s not what I meant. I meant it as I said it…just as a place to reflect. Relax.”
“Oh,” Günter said quietly and then filled the awkward silence. “That is very well then. We should have alone time. Right now it has been alright since you have been going off to explore, but once my foot is better healed, we’ll be on top of each other all day…”
“Correct.” And then he added, “I didn’t mean it as a slight against your company. I am very glad we are in this together.”
Günter smiled. “I am too.”
That night there was no moon, and so it was decided that there was no point in trading off a night watch, as they wouldn’t be able to see anything out on the waters.
Deeming that their fire was sufficient to keep any predators away, the pair laid down to sleep on their make-shift mattress.
And while they allowed their shared warmth and the sound of the ocean to lull them to sleep, Gwendal allowed himself to recall his and Günter’s previous discussion on sleeping habits. It seemed that Günter’s concern about Gwendal channeling Wolfram’s tornado-like sleeping habits was unfounded.
Really, Günter had a lot of nerve to assume that of Gwendal, considering that Günter was turning out to be a good rival for his brother where bed-sharing was concerned.
After a few near misses of Günter’s elbows to Gwendal’s face, he managed to wrangle them both into a comfortable position that allowed him to keep control on Günter’s flailing limbs, and soon he fell into a deep sleep.