Title: Master of Stealth
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gaius, Gwaine, Lancelot
Summary: Everyone knows. But Merlin doesn't know that they know.
Word Count: 500
Prompt: 483 'Secret Meeting'
Author's Notes: Canon AU
Master of Stealth
Merlin met with Druid representatives a few times each year. He was their Emrys, after all. But he did his best to ensure that no one knew about the meetings, just like he carefully kept his magic a secret.
The Druid meet-ups usually took place late in the evening at the edge of the forest. This time, Merlin was running late, but Gaius had still not gone to bed, and was tinkering with his potions. Merlin drummed his fingers on the table impatiently, trying to concoct an excuse. He'd just have to blame Arthur as always. "I have to go over to see about Arthur's—"
Gaius waved his hand dismissively. "Just run along, Merlin. You really don't want to be late."
Merlin hurried along the colonnade, pondering Gaius's words. Could the old physician possibly have an inkling about his true plans? No, it was impossible.
Turning towards the side gate, Merlin was unfortunate enough to run into Gwaine and Lancelot, who'd just finished their guard duties for the day.
"Merlin," Gwaine exclaimed, surprised. "Are you leaving for the Lower Town this late?"
"No!" Merlin blurted. "I mean yes! Absolutely. There's this, uhm, horribly sick child, you see, with boils and everything, and I have to—"
"You'd better hurry, then," Lancelot said with a smug smile that seemed strange given Merlin's sad reason for being in such haste.
Rounding the two knights, Merlin continued onwards. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Gwaine and Lance exchanging a knowing glance and a grin. What exactly did they think he was up to? Well, as long as nobody suspected the truth, Merlin thought, he'd just have to let the knights' speculations be. They could have no idea about the Druids.
Just as he was about to magic the guards at the gate to sleep, Merlin realized with a jolt that he'd made a terrible mistake. Horrified, he slapped a hand to his forehead, groaned, and turned on his heel to rush in the direction of Arthur's chambers.
He'd promised the Druids to bring them the sacred crystal of Triskele. To that end, he'd recently lifted it from the Crypt of Secrets, and had hidden it in the boar's head mounted on Arthur's chamber wall. And now he'd forgotten the entire thing!
He ran full tilt until he reached Arthur's rooms. There, he had to pause to catch his breath. All ears, he listened, but could hear no sound. Might Arthur be asleep already? Merlin pushed at the heavy door, which swung open without a sound. The room was mostly cast in darkness, with a single candle burning on the table. Tip-toeing towards the far wall and the boar's head, Merlin felt sure that he was in luck. He'd be able to collect the crystal, and Arthur would be none the wiser.
Suddenly, someone cleared their throat loudly. "What on earth?" Arthur said, appearing from behind his dressing screen. He sounded very surprised. "Merlin, why aren't you at the secret Druid meeting?"