Title: We Need to Talk About Merlin [Part 5]
Rating: PG-13 [this part]
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Merlin/Edwin, Edwin/Sophia
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Gwaine, Sophia
Summary: Merlin has a new boyfriend. Morgana doesn't like him. Somehow, Arthur winds up stuck in the middle.
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | AO3 | Merlocked18's Art | Sequel ]
Warnings: Discussion of infidelity. Questionable life decisions.
Word Count: 1000 words.
Prompt: Ham 4 Cam #1 (Wait For It)
Author's Notes: Argh.
Arthur is in the middle of doing up his trousers when there's a knock on the door.
“Merlin?” Morgana’s voice filters through the cracks. “Are you in there?”
“Shit,” Merlin mutters. He looks at Arthur, still shirtless, then down at himself, and Arthur knows what he must be thinking. If Morgana sees them together like this, there’s no way they can convince her that all they’ve been doing is talking. Not that Arthur makes a habit of caring what Morgana thinks, necessarily, but under the circumstances he’s not sure he’d survive the bollocking that would follow.
Another knock. “Merlin?”
“I — yeah,” Merlin calls, making frantic hand-waving motions at Arthur. “I’m here. Just a second, Morgana.”
“Can I come in?”
Morgana’s voice is uncharacteristically tentative, and Arthur wonders for a moment why she doesn’t just walk in anyway. Is she expecting Merlin to be angry with her? Apparently his sister is capable of being tactful and polite when the occasion calls for it — just not to people she’s related to.
“Give me — just hang on.” Merlin makes another futile attempt at straightening his clothing, and grabs Arthur’s arm. “Get behind the sofa,” he hisses. “I’ll deal with her.”
Arthur barely has time to do more than nod his agreement before the door handle is turning and Merlin is shoving him and his clothes behind the back of the settee. It’s a tight fit — there’s only a small gap between the sofa and the wall, and for a horrible moment Arthur is certain he’s going to get stuck and die of mortification with his arse in the air. Then something tears and gives way, and he’s able to scramble into his hiding place just as the door swings open, a shaft of light from the hallway cutting brightly across the room.
“There you are,” Morgana says. “I’ve been looking for you.”
From his vantage point, all Arthur can see of her is her ridiculously high heels as she stops in front of Merlin, her long skirt swirling around her ankles.
“You— you have?” Merlin sounds nervous. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to run out on your party.”
“Don’t be silly, it’s fine.” Morgana sits down, the sofa squeaking slightly beneath her weight. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.” She pauses. “Didn’t Arthur come out after you?”
“Arthur? No, I haven’t seen him.”
Arthur rolls his eyes in the darkness. Merlin really is a terrible liar.
“Oh. He mustn’t have found you, then.” She swings her feet a little. “I saw the two of you dancing, earlier.”
Merlin says nothing.
“You looked happy,” Morgana presses. “Did you have fun tonight?”
“I did,” Merlin replies coolly. “Until I saw Edwin with Sophia.”
Arthur winces. Obviously Morgana is aware that she’s hit a nerve, because when she next speaks her tone is more conciliatory. “I really am sorry, Merlin. I just wanted to introduce you to Gwaine; I had no idea Edwin would take it as an opportunity to — well.”
“Fuck Sophia in the loos?” Merlin suggests, sounding resigned. “Me neither. I didn't even know he was into girls.”
“Sophia isn’t a girl, she’s a soul-sucking Dementor in disguise,” Morgana says tartly, and this actually provokes a laugh. “Do you remember when Arthur first started dating her? He was so smitten, I wanted to break her neck.”
“Love doesn’t discriminate, I guess, not even regarding the demonic undead,” Merlin says. “At least they never did end up getting married.”
“God, can you imagine?”
The two of them giggle together and then fall silent, and Arthur leans his head back against the wall, trying to breathe quietly so as not to give himself away. He wonders if Merlin is picturing Sophia the way they last saw her, with her tongue down Edwin’s throat. He hopes not. It’s not exactly a pleasant image.
“Gwaine asked me to give you something, by the way,” Morgana says, finally breaking the silence.
“Mhm. Hand me your phone.”
There’s a creak as she leans forward, then the sound of keyboard tapping.
“Sexy Fox?” Merlin asks, sounding amused.
“His words, not mine.” A pause. “Here. His phone number. You can call him or not call him, it’s up to you. After what happened with Edwin, I don’t want to presume, but…I think he might be good for you.”
“I don’t know, Morgana. I don’t think I’m interested in another relationship right now.”
“Who said anything about a relationship? Let Gwaine be your ill-advised rebound sex guy, I’m sure he’d be up for it.”
There’s a long pause while Merlin apparently thinks this over. Arthur closes his eyes, fingernails digging into his palms. He can still feel the imprint of Merlin’s lips at his throat, Merlin’s hands buried in his hair. Ill-advised rebound sex — it had been more than that between them, hadn’t it?
“Well,” he hears Merlin say slowly. “Maybe we could get a drink sometime. As friends.”
“That’s the spirit!” Morgana claps her hands. “Now, straighten yourself up and let’s show that bastard Edwin how it’s done. I guarantee you, I’m a much better dance partner than he is.”
“I insist,” Morgana says firmly. She gets up, and Arthur guesses she’s holding out a hand, because after a moment Merlin sighs and follows her. “You looked like you were having such a good time, earlier. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining that.”
“All right, all right,” Merlin says, and Arthur can tell he’s smiling. “But you know Arthur always complains I have two left feet. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
He shuts the door behind them as they leave, and Arthur sits for a while in the resulting darkness, the beginnings of a champagne headache already pulsing behind his eyelids. His jacket is torn, the red mask crumpled somewhere down the back of the sofa. He buttons his shirt with unsteady fingers.
Eventually, they're going to have to talk about this. But right now, he just wants to go home.