It’s early. Too early for a Saturday, really, but Morgana has a meeting with Gwen because their client is going on a business trip first thing Monday morning. Well, he owes them now, so she guess it’s okay, just this once. It definitely puts them in a great bargaining position.
Taking her time, eating breakfast and reading the newspaper while in her pyjamas is nice on days like this – well worth getting up thirty minutes early. Other than the muffled sound of her bare feet against the carpet, the large house is quiet. She idly wonders if Uther is up yet. It’s only 6:45, but he probably is – on the days he’s not travelling, there are few mornings when he isn’t in the kitchen when Morgana gets there.
When she passes Arthur’s door, she slows down but decides not to knock. He’s been in a weird mood lately, kind of tense and nervous around her and Uther. Maybe it’s because he’s finally started fucking Merlin and is trying to keep it from them both. That’d explain it.
Of course it’s completely ridiculous trying to keep such a thing from Morgana, she’s known about it since a week after they started – two months ago. She’s not completely sure if Uther knows, but since Merlin has been forced to sneak out of the house several times when Uther has returned early from his numerous business trips, she wouldn’t be surprised if he knew. He’s not as observant as her, but... he has been known to know more than he lets on sometimes.
As Morgana makes her way downstairs, there’s a loud crash, like glass shattering against stone.
Slightly worried Uther has fallen and hurt himself – he’s not as young as he used to be – she enters the kitchen just in time to see Uther’s intimidating form bearing down on a flustered Merlin. Whatever it is he has done, he stutters incoherently as he tries to apologise for it. It surely looks like Uther doesn’t know about his son’s romantic escapades and in a moment of sympathy towards Merlin, Morgana makes a quick decision.
She sweeps in and kisses Merlin on the cheek before Uther wrings his neck for ruining his perfect breakfast routine.
“Babe,” she says smoothly and gives Merlin a blinding smile, “Don’t aggravate Dad, he’s known for his bad morning temper – and Dad, don’t kill Merlin this early in the morning. When he does something truly atrocious, that’ll be my job, really.”
Merlin looks a bit taken aback at her words, but he at least has enough presence of mind not to protest. Uther, on the other hand, looks like he’s fighting between exploding about Merlin even being here, and keeping calm. Over the years, even he has learnt to pick his fights. In the end, he just grumbles and glares at them both.
“I– I was just getting a glass of water,” Merlin stutters and shifts uncomfortably.
He’s pale and looks very small in the too big t-shirt he’s wearing. Arthur’s t-shirt. Only Arthur’s t-shirt and – luckily – a pair of shabby-looking underpants. Jeez, they really have no sense of self-preservation, do they? Maybe they’ve shagged each other’s brain cells out, or something. Morgana is going to have to have a stern talking-to with her brother, if his boyfriend is going to survive here. She’s fairly sure that Uther wouldn’t mind, but Arthur has always been a bit bad at reading his father’s emotions about things... and Uther is not much better at reading his son’s.
But still, Arthur and Merlin should be allowed to tell Uther in their own time. They might be better off spending their nights in Merlin’s dodgy flat instead of here, though. And for the current situation... Morgana can have a bit of fun with this, right? She has earned that by saving Merlin from a certain death now, hasn’t she? Maybe it’ll teach them all a lesson not to be so emotionally repressed.
“Dad,” Morgana says, “you know Arthur’s friend Merlin.”
It’s a statement, not a question.
Merlin is hiding a bit behind her. “I’m sorry, Mr Pendragon,” he says, voice still not quite back to its normal smoothness, “I didn’t mean to run into... uh... what is that?”
All three of them look down on the floor and the remains of what used to be a very old, very expensive vase that, for some reason, someone had the not-so-brilliant idea to place next to the kitchen door.
“No worries, sweetie,” Morgana almost coos and kisses Merlin right at the lips. Merlin whimpers like he’s unsure what to do, and his cheeks colour prettily. Morgana smirks. “I understand you were thirsty, considering all the hard work you put in last night.”
She raises her eyebrows at Uther in a challenge for him to interrupt before turning back to Merlin and runs her thumb over his lips. He inhales sharply and tugs slightly at the front of the t-shirt down over his crotch, as if he wants to make sure he’s properly covered up. “I’ve always hated that vase anyway. You should have stayed away from the big bad wolf, is all.”
Uther looks furious and chastised at the same time. There has been a struggle between their very strong wills since Morgana’s early teens. Every time she had brought home a boyfriend, Uther dismissed and despised them for one ridiculous reason or another. Yes, okay. Gwaine maybe had been a bit of a deviant, Cenred had been a biker (and no parents liked bikers, right?), and Cedric had been a full-out thief, but there had been great guys, too! Elyan had been sensitive and (overly) fond of Shakespearean poetry, Alator had been a bit... okay, he had been old but he hadn’t really been as bad as Uther had made him sound, and Leon. Leon had been kind, well-behaved, properly attentive to both her and Uther... except his family lived on food vouchers and – apparently – that was a sin as unforgivable as any.
So yes, there is still tension between Morgana and Uther when it came to her boyfriends. She isn’t stupid, though – she very well understands why her father acts this way. He wants her to end up with a good man who can care for and support her and all that shit. Too bad every suit-clad asshole he had tried to set her up with was boring as fuck.
Morgana being Morgana, she had fought for all of her boyfriends. Even those she didn’t believe in herself, she had fought with tooth and nail for, just because they annoyed Uther. It had been a strange kind of teen rebellion, but it had unsettled Uther on more than one occasion and that was what had mattered.
So, though Morgana is not in her teens anymore, this situation is familiar.
Uther looks like he’s struggling between wanting to wring Merlin’s neck for ruining the expensive vase... and, naturally, for having the balls to date his daughter.
(He doesn’t know that all Morgana’s boyfriends’ balls had always firmly been under her heel anyway. She isn’t his daughter for nothing.)
Morgana looks back at Merlin, smiles warmly and runs her hand through his hair. The shiver running through Merlin’s body at the touch is interesting and she would really love to explore that further... Hm.
“Um,” Merlin says, clearly uncomfortable by the tension building in the kitchen, “um.”
Morgana kisses his nose before looking over at Uther again.
“Dad,” she says smoothly and takes his arm, leading him away from Merlin, “Did you know I’ve met someone?”
Uther shoots an angry look over his shoulder, but Morgana pretends she doesn’t see it. She does, however, hear Merlin whimper a bit. “Not really–”
When she has put a good few feet between them and Merlin – poor, clumsy Merlin – she announces, “Well, as I just said, you know Merlin, of course.”
There’s a very pregnant pause as both Merlin and Uther turn towards Morgana. She tries to decide who has the most hilarious look, but she really can’t.
“Morgana...” Merlin says, but he gets interrupted by a much sterner voice.
“Morgana!” Uther’s voice is hard and disbelieving. “Morgana, please don’t tell me that you’ve–”
There’s a tense pause before he continues.
“I thought–” he says in a stage whisper that doesn’t fool anyone, “I thought Merlin was... you know... gay?”
Morgana smiles and walks back to Merlin. She runs her hand through Merlin’s hair again and ignores the appalled look he gives her, before letting it rest casually on the spot where his neck meets his shoulder. “Oh, Dad... Not last night, anyway.”
That is the moment when Arthur shows up in the doorway, halts abruptly and obviously tries to get a grip on the situation. His eyes go from the broken vase on the floor, to Merlin, to Uther, to Morgana, back to Uther, and then finally land on where Morgana’s hand is resting. Morgana sees how his jaw tenses and he closes his fists. Such a jealous boy, her Arthur.
She gives him a huge smile and leans in to kiss Merlin’s soft lips again. Merlin shoots Arthur an panicked look.
“Dad,” Arthur says tightly, eyes still fixed on Morgana and Merlin.
“You’re home... earlier than expected.”
Morgana sniggers inwardly.
“Yes,” Uther says, his voice strained. “And apparently your friend is Merlin seeing Morgana, but I’m sure you knew this already.”
There’s a few moments of silence before Arthur catches on and answers, “Yeah, I heard that they... that they’ve been seeing each other for a little while.”
“Oh,” Morgana says, “Not really. We’ve been seeing each other for... I don’t know, how long is it, darling?”
She turns to Merlin, who looks like he’s about to choke on his own tongue, but somehow manages to get out an incredibly vague answer. Uther doesn’t reply, he just goes back to the table and stares down on his breakfast for a few seconds, before ignoring them all and picking up his newspaper.
Morgana nuzzles close to Merlin, and runs a teasing finger over the shell of his ear. When he shudders and closes his eyes at the touch – those large ears of his clearly are sensitive – Arthur’s face rapidly shifts from pale to a dark red. He gives Uther and Morgana a short “excuse us a second”, grabs Merlin’s arm and drags him away from his sister and out of the room. Morgana hears the whispered argument as she closes the door behind them and waltzes over to where Uther is sitting.
“So... how do you feel about Merlin, then? I think he might be the one.”
Sighing, Uther flicks his paper irritably and disappears behind it, obviously trying to ignore this discussion. He should know that you can’t really escape Morgana, though. Not for long.
She allows him a few seconds where she goes over to the fridge and rummages around for something to eat before settling on a cup of coffee from the pot instead. The boys sure take their time in the hallway...
“I’m thinking about a summer wedding...”
Uther snorts, but doesn’t look up.
“Honestly, though... it might be a bit soon. But I guess Merlin does need someone to support him for the rest of his studies. He’s got a few years left on his BMBS degree. Being a student is tough these days.”
She can see Uther’s fists clench at the thin newspaper, but he doesn’t answer.
“And those fingers of his? Really nimble. Magic, I swear. I understand why he wants to be a surgeon.”
She thinks she can hear a low grumbling sound, but still no Uther.
Well, fuck it, this is no fun. She puts the cup down on the table and sighs.
“I’ll go and see if Arthur and Merlin have finished talking.”
When she opens the door to the hallway, she isn’t met by quiet words or a hushed argument. There are low moans coming from behind a huge, displayed suit of armour that used to creep Morgana out as a child. Naturally, Morgana steps around it and clears her throat loudly.
She smiles wickedly as Arthur and Merlin fly apart, and Merlin desperately tries, again, to push his shirt down in front of his groin. They’re both blushing – from embarrassment or excitement, Morgana’s not completely sure.
“Um,” Arthur says, voice rough, “we were just...”
“Spare me. For fuck’s sake, Arthur, I’ve known about this almost from the very beginning. Just tell Dad, already. I’m ninety-seven per cent sure he won’t mind you being gay.”
Arthur makes a noise in his throat, disbelieving but questioning.
There are a few beats before Arthur turns back to Merlin and raises a questioning eyebrow. Violently shaking his head, Merlin says, “Yeah, but... not... now.”
The awkwardness only almost gets too much for Morgana when Arthur at first doesn’t seem to understand and then – blushing even more furiously – steps in front of Merlin to hide his raging erection. “We’ll... I’ll come down to the kitchen in a few minutes, okay?” he says to Morgana, but doesn’t look at her as grabs Merlin by the hand and disappears up the stairs.
Laughing quietly to herself, she re-enters the kitchen.
Uther doesn’t look up. “So,” he says, “where did your boyfriend go?”
“He... he went to get dressed, and Arthur went to get a shower, I think.”
“Did they have a good talk?”
“Er,” Morgana deadpans, “I... I think so. Merlin didn’t look like Arthur had been too tough on him, at least.”
No, he certainly had not. Quite the opposite, actually.
Uther finally looks up at Morgana.
There’s a small smile tugging at Uther’s mouth. “Morgana...” he starts.
Silence. At a loss for what to do, Morgana grabs her now decidedly colder cup of coffee. Absentmindedly stirring it with a spoon, she thinks about just blurting out the secret. It really would be better if Uther knew.
“I already know, you know. You had me fooled for a bit there, but...”
“I knew about Arthur and Merlin. If I wasn’t sure before, they sure as hell just confirmed it themselves. Arthur was always incredibly selfish with his toys as a child, and I guess it’s the same with partners. Were they, uh, ‘cuddling’ in the hallway when you got out there?”
Uther raises a hand to interrupt her. “It’s fine. I don’t mind. They’ve always been a bit too fond of each other, those two. But I would like it for them to tell me sooner rather than later, this is getting quite ridiculous.”
He sighs. “Yes, yes, their own time and all. But it would be easier to forgive that bumbling lanky... thing... for everything he breaks if I knew he were making Arthur happy in the process. But he really does, doesn’t he?”
For a second, Morgana thinks about it. They’re always laughing together, always conspiring together, always... together.
“Yes,” she says, smiling fondly, “yeah, I believe he really does.”