Title: One Day
Characters: Merlin, Lancelot, Elyan, Arthur
Summary: Merlin has to use a new spell to get Arthur and Company out of trouble. Plans go slightly awry.
Word Count: 785
Prompt: 394, doppelganger
Merlin read the spell back to himself a few more times. It was easy enough according to the book. The actual magic was apparently not the difficult part. The difficult part was not getting caught and killed while using the spell.
“Well, are you ready?” Lancelot kept an eye out for the guards they were going to try to trick.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” Merlin took a deep breath and chanted the spell that would change his appearance into that of Arthur’s. It felt strange, as if a light cloak had fallen over his body, clinging to every part of him. It was different from when he changed into Dragoon.
“Well?” he asked Lancelot. “Did it work?”
“You look just like him, but you still sound like you. Don’t say much or you’ll give the game away that they’re dealing with a doppelganger.”
“Got it. I’ll pretend to be escaping. You get the others out while I lead the guards on a merry chase. I’ll meet you at that clearing in the woods.” Merlin headed off toward the dungeons, head high. He knew he had to sell this, and fast. The spell only lasted for about half an hour.
“Merlin!” He turned back to Lancelot. “Be careful.”
Merlin grimaced. “Just get the others loose. I’ll be fine. See you shortly.”
An hour later, Merlin staggered through the trees, his hand holding a cloth to his bleeding head. He knew the others had gotten clear. Surely they would have waited for him. He was just about to take a rest and sit on the very comfortable looking log in front of him when he heard a familiar bird call.
He responded with a grin and decided he’d never been happier to see Elyan’s face in his life.
“Merlin! Are you alright?” Elyan reached for the cloth.
“Fine. I had to hide in a loft, but there was a nail sticking out that I didn’t see. Nearly knocked myself senseless.” It was probably better to blame a nail and Merlin’s clumsiness than to tell Elyan and the others about the mace that had just grazed him right before he blew the soldier across the room and into the wall, killing him.
“We’ve had to practically sit on Arthur to keep him from going back in there to look for you.” Elyan led Merlin to the spot the king and his knights had picked to hide while they waited for Merlin to show up.
“Merlin! It’s about time! What did you do? Stop for a nap?” Arthur’s words were at odds with the way he grabbed his manservant and hugged him fiercely. He held Merlin at arms’ length after their clasp and looked at the sluggish bleed on his head. “Lance, get the bandages from that horse you stole. Patch him up so we can get out of here. I want to be as far away from here as possible so we can get the rest of the knights and clear out this bandits’ nest.” He nudged Merlin towards the knight as he turned to the horses Lancelot and Merlin had stolen and hidden while they planned their rescue. Merlin rolled his eyes and snorted, letting himself be led away.
“Welcome back, Merlin.” Lancelot smiled knowingly at Merlin as he bandaged his head. “Told you to be careful.”
“Well, I needed to take care of someone who was going back in your direction. Bigger than Percy.” Merlin hissed as Lancelot dabbed the cut with water from a skin.
“At least you made it. I thought we’d have to have Percy sit on Arthur, he was so worried. There you go. It’ll have to do until we get you back into Gaius’ tender mercies.” Lancelot stepped back and showed Merlin the horse he was going to ride home.
“Ah, good. All done? Let’s stop lazing about then and get home.” Arthur subtly shoved Lancelot out of the way as he moved to help Merlin mount his horse. “Now don’t fall off, Merlin, or we’re leaving you where you fall. Got it?” Arthur patted Merlin’s knee, his eyes telling his best friend everything he’d never admit in public.
“Got it, Arthur. Don’t fall off because you’d be such an unobservant dollophead that you wouldn’t even notice me gone until your laundry piled up.” Merlin smiled at his friend and made sure he rolled his eyes again, nice and big.
“Elyan said you were laid low by a simple, little nail. Who’s the unobservant dollophead? Hmm?” Arthur mounted his own horse and led the group out of their little camp toward home.
Merlin and Lancelot shared a glance and a secret smile. One day Arthur would know the truth.