“Arthur,” Morgana says, flouncing into his office and sitting down in the chair opposite his desk. “We need to talk.”
In Arthur’s experience, nothing good has ever come from those four little words, but they’re even less likely to herald good news when coming from Morgana. With a weary sigh, he puts down his pen. “I don’t suppose this can wait?”
Morgana pretends to consider. “No, not really.”
“Fine.” Arthur gets up and shuts the door, then sits back down and crosses his legs, mirroring his sister’s position. “Talk.”
“It’s about Merlin.”
Arthur can feel his shoulders tighten. “Not this again.”
“He has a new boyfriend.”
Apparently, Morgana thinks this is news to him. “He told me.”
“He told you?”
“Well, not in so many words.” Arthur fidgets with his papers. “But I figured the fact that he cancelled our Friday night plans for the foreseeable future was a pretty big indicator.” Merlin has also started humming in the lift again, which is a sure sign he's been getting laid, but Morgana doesn’t need to know that.
“Well, then you’ll understand why I’m here.”
Arthur raises his eyebrows. “No, I really don’t,” he says. “Is it to irritate me into an early grave so that you can take over the company when I’m gone?”
“Very funny.” Morgana narrows her eyes. “We have to put a stop to this.”
“Put a stop to what? Merlin is a grown man, I hardly think he’d appreciate us interfering in his love life.”
“I don’t care what he thinks.” Morgana makes a dismissive gesture, flipping her dark hair back over her shoulder. “Obviously the boy is too clueless to look out for himself. Why else would he keep dating these losers instead of finding someone who is actually good enough for him?”
Arthur pinches the bridge of his nose. “Morgana— "
“And don’t think I’m talking about you,” she adds, pointing a perfectly manicured finger in his direction. “He’s far too good for you, and anyway, you had your chance. No, I’m thinking someone with a little more class. At the very least, someone more suitable than Edwin.”
Arthur sighs. He’s pretty sure that no matter what he says, Morgana will just go sailing off in her usual indomitable way to do whatever she pleases, which apparently in this case is harassing his best-friend-slash-personal-assistant (who also happens to be the love of his life) into breaking up with his latest boyfriend. He can already tell her that it will do no good: Merlin may be the type who falls in love at the drop of a hat, but he has a much harder time falling out of it again. There’s also the fact that, as far as Arthur can tell, Merlin seems actively committed to doing the exact opposite of whatever someone tells him to do, mostly out of sheer contrariness. He considers telling his sister as much, but Morgana — being Morgana — probably won’t listen, and in any case Arthur has always wanted to find out what happens when irresistible force meets immovable object.
“What do you propose we do, then?” he asks, already mentally preparing damage control.
“I think we should invite him to the Valentine’s Day masque Uther’s throwing next weekend,” Morgana says immediately. “Him and his plus one. Everyone will be in costume, so we shouldn’t have a hard time separating the two of them long enough for Merlin to be swept off his feet by a tall, dark and handsome stranger.”
“I assume that means you have someone in mind?”
“I might do.” Morgana smiles slyly. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”
Leaving aside the familiar twinge in his heart at the thought of watching Merlin dance the night away with someone else — Morgana had been right: Arthur had had his chance, and he'd blown it — as far as Morgana’s plans go this one seems relatively harmless. And at least he’ll have an excuse to hang out with Merlin some more outside of work, something that doesn’t happen nearly often enough these days.
“All right,” he says at last. “I’ll get him an invitation. But only if you promise that will be the extent of my involvement. Your schemes have a habit of ending badly.”
“This one won't,” Morgana assures him, her smile broadening in a way that doesn’t exactly fill Arthur with confidence. “But fine, if that's what it takes. Just make sure you tell him it’s a masquerade ball. I don’t want the poor boy to turn up in a suit while everyone else is swanning about in fancy dress. He’d be mortified.”
Arthur nods, and when Morgana still doesn’t stand up to leave he folds his arms. “Was there something else?”
Morgana studies his face for a moment, then shakes her head. “Just that, one of these days all that repression is going to come back and bite you in the ass,” she says conversationally, getting to her feet. “And it’s not going to be pretty.”
Arthur snorts. “Thank you, Obi Wan. Can I get back to my paperwork now?”
Morgana shrugs. “It’s your funeral,” she says, and sashays out the door.
Arthur closes his eyes briefly, irritated by the way she always seems to be able to get under his skin. He has only a few seconds to regret the unfortunate twist of fate that made them siblings, however, before Merlin’s head appears in the doorway.
“Was that Morgana I saw leaving your office?” he inquires, grinning. “Do I need to call an ambulance?”
“Ha, ha.” Arthur glances after his sister’s disappearing back. “Actually, she was here to talk about you.”
Merlin looks startled. “Me?” He moves further into the room. “Is she claiming I stole her stapler again? Because I didn’t. I know better than to touch her stuff. Or was this about the copy machine incident?”
“Neither,” Arthur says, gesturing for him to sit in the chair Morgana had just vacated. “She wanted me to tell you about your plans for next Saturday night.”