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let’s burn this world down

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rome wasn’t built in a day. but it burned in one night.


*

Watching the scene unfold in front of her, Morgana can almost smell the burning.

 

*

(“Are you sure I’m allowed in here?”

“Morgana. It’s my office. I’ll let in whoever I want.”

Morgana crosses her arms across her chest, feeling a bit uncomfortable. When she speaks again, her voice is lowered.

“And what about the ten other people in the room with us?”

“We’re testing a hypothesis. A publication is involved.”

Morgause pauses.

Morgana quirks a brow.

“And maybe lots of money, too.”)

 

*

The flames lick at the edge of—well, what used to be a car.

Morgana only knows this because she’s seen lots of movies with exploding cars.

(And okay, maybe she was in the room before the car burst into flames).

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Morgause reach to the side and press a button, and suddenly the flames vanish, leaving charred metal in its wake.

So—yeah, okay.

Maybe Morgause is sort of serious about taking over the world.

 

*

(“Morgana.”

Morgause’s voice is clipped, almost brusque, and if it were anyone else, Morgana would take the time to be offended. As it is, it’s Morgause, and that’s really all that needs to be said on the matter.

“Morgause,” Morgana replies in kind, shifting her mobile so that it sits more comfortably between her shoulder and her ear.

“I killed Uther Pendragon.”

Morgana almost drops her phone. “What?”

“Just kidding,” comes Morgause through the speaker, her voice tinny and monotone. “But I might, one of these days.”

“Morgause,” Morgana sighs after a moment, her voice bordering on reproachful. But lovingly so, of course. “Don’t you have work to be doing? Other than planning out the murder of your boss.”

“Not really, no.”

“Well, I do. So call back later.”)

 

*

They’re sitting in their favourite restaurant.

Technically, it’s Morgana’s favourite restaurant, but they’ve come here so often that Morgause claims it’s her favourite, too.

(Morgana knows better).

At one point, Morgana asks, “How did today go?”

“You were there.”

Trying to get information out of Morgause is like pulling teeth.

“I know, but I don’t know how these things are supposed to go. It could have been awful.” Morgana pauses to take a sip of her wine. “The flames were impressive, though.”

“I told you they would be.”

“You also told me you were taking over the world.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.”

“Maybe not, but when it fell, it—”

Morgause shoots her a look, and Morgana tries not to laugh.

 

*

(Later, Morgause will admit that, given the circumstances, it was a terrible metaphor).

 

*

“It’s official,” Morgause announces – in that way she always likes to go about announcing things – when she comes in.

(Which is not to say that Morgana doesn’t find it endearing, because she does).

It’s almost three weeks after the experiment, so Morgana has no idea what she’s talking about. Though to be fair, Morgause is being purposefully vague.

“You’re back late tonight,” is what Morgana finally settles on saying.

“My paper is being published.”

Morgana looks up from her post-dinner pudding cup and smiles.

The next thing she knows, Morgause is kissing her, and it’s so unexpected that the spoon she’s holding clatters to the ground.

Morgause pulls away and regards the spoon with such disdain that—

Morgana rolls her eyes and leans forward, pressing her lips against Morgause’s.

When they pull apart moments later, Morgause says, “Let’s go to the pub and get fantastically drunk.”

“You’re already drunk,” Morgana points out.

“I’m buzzed. There’s a difference.”

“You taste like alcohol and smell like a brewery. And cigarettes.”

“I’m buzzed,” Morgause repeats.

Morgana makes a noncommittal noise, runs a hand under Morgause’s shirt and across her belly.

Morgause sighs in response, relaxing into the touch.

“You know,” Morgana begins, her voice low and right by Morgause’s ear, “I can think of plenty of other ways to celebrate.”

 

*

(“What are you doing?”

Morgause turns to look at her. “Nothing.”

Morgana raises a brow. “Really.”

Morgause sighs. “It’s just a manual.”

“You know, if you want me to start following this conversation sometime this century, you’re going to have to give me a whole lot more than that.”

Morgause looks like she’s considering exactly what to say, and then finally goes with, “I’m writing a manual on how to take over the world.”

Morgana laughs.

“You’ve had that idea since you were fifteen,” she says.

Morgause whips around so fast, Morgana’s surprised her neck doesn’t crick.

“How did you know?”

Morgana leans in, lowers her voice to a conspirational whisper. “I know lots of things.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

 

*

Truthfully, it was Morgana who had had that dream – in the sense that, she literally had a dream in which Morgause was taking over the world. (There was fire involved). And then somehow that had turned into Morgause’s dream, figuratively, and at some point along the line, they both forgot whose dream it really was in the first place.

 

*

It’s not the important part, anyway—

—that would be the part where Morgause looks smashing in a crown).

 

*

She finds Morgause out on the balcony later that evening.

There’s something about the way she looks; Morgana can’t put her finger on it, but it makes her heart leap.

 

*

(“It’s cold out,” Morgana says as she steps outside.

There are times like this one when she thinks that Morgause knows her better than she knows herself, because before she can ask, Morgause is already speaking.

“I’m imagining what it would be like...”

And then there are times like this one when Morgana feels like she doesn’t actually know Morgause at all (which is really unfair, because Morgause seems to know everything about her without even trying), because after a moment, what comes out of her mouth is: “…if you were king and ruled over this land?”

“Yes, Morgana, I spend every waking minute plotting the takeover of this country.”

Morgana grins.

When Morgause turns to look at her, the expression on her face is so serious that it makes Morgana wonder if she actually is plotting the takeover of Great Britain. Or at least of Pendragon Testing Services. “You realize,” she starts, breaking into a smile, “that that would make you my queen.”

Sometimes, she wonders what exactly is going on in Morgause’s mind, because the stuff that she says – it’s just unreal.

“Well,” Morgana says when she’s finally found the words. “I’ve always thought I’d wear a crown better than you would.”)

 

*

“Come to bed,” is what Morgana says this time as she joins Morgause on the balcony.

Morgause looks at her, and Morgana takes that as an invitation to step closer, circling her arms around her waist.

“Sorry,” Morgause says. “Too busy plotting the takeover, and all that.”

“You can do that tomorrow,” Morgana replies simply. “After we’ve had at least three more rounds of brilliant sex.”

“Just three?”

“I didn’t think you had it in you to do more,” Morgana teases.

Morgause’s following kiss is promise enough.

 

*

(Here is the truth: They were both born to wear crowns).

 

*