Title: Little Beasts
Character/s: Arthur, Morgana
Summary: After the death of his father Arthur must step up and prove himself as the new head of the Pendragon Family, but taking over the business is not an easy task. Both allies and enemies have doubts about his leadership, and Arthur struggles to act like the man his father expected him to be. Further complications present themselves in the form of a former soldier for the families of Essetir. A man with a loaded tongue that gives Arthur as good as it gets.
Warnings: organized crime
Word Count: 1K
Prompt: #252: Wait for It
Author's Notes: Because I like to make my life more complicated here's another WIP, lol. I have an unhealthy interest in mafia/mob/yakuza/etc, so I always think there should be mafia AUs in every fandom. Here's my contribution. Title taken from the poem Little Beast by Richard Siken which also provided me with inspiration.
The silence in the study is stifling, loaded, almost reverential. Arthur remains undeceive on whether his physical discomfort is due to his lack of sleep or because he feels like an usurper sitting on his father's chair, a throne fit for someone who fancied themselves king and master. The leather creaks under Arthur's weight every time he moves as if it's protesting him. Reminding him he doesn't belong here. He has many memories of his father sitting in the same spot, his figure looming behind the desk, giving Arthur yet another lecture on responsibility, he always remained silent having to endure his father's impassive words.
The study smells of sweet tobacco leaves mixed with old leather and his father's cologne. His ghost is there, ever present. In every corner and fixture. In the books and papers he left behind. In Arthur himself. His last name an invisible crown heavy on his head.
Arthur is lost, disoriented without the right tools to navigate his new duties. He doesn't know what his next move should be. If he should do anything at all. He takes a sip from his whisky to fortify himself, stares at the way a sliver of sunlight skitters over the desk's surface, mahogany glistening under the light. Reddish-brown and smooth. Before long he's finished his drink, his mouth dry. He's left with nothing to deviate his attention from the memories he's managed to keep at bay since he arrived at Camelot.
Little by little the dam will give out and Arthur will be left defenseless with his past rearing its ugly head.
"Arthur." Morgana's voice is soft, whisper-like, a tentative edge to her words. Arthur hates that she feels the need to be careful around him. He won't break. At least not today.
"Do you think we should talk about...Everything," she says. She's on the big couch near the fireplace, his father would often chastise them for jumping on it, giddy with childish joy. Arthur marvels at the fact they're here, they made it. They're alive, both adults for all intents and purposes. A part of him will always resent their father for bringing them into this life, for keeping them apart for as long as he did. That's part of the past now and he can't change it, doesn't matter how much he wishes he could.
"About what a terrible shit show that was? Or do you rather talk about the weather? Maybe we could discuss how I am not fit for this life according to uncle Aggravaine," Arthur says unable to keep to bitterness off of his tone. After the council meeting it's hard for him to keep his head up. The meeting could've gone better than it did if only he were someone else. The tension in the room was palpable and more than one regarded Arthur with contempt, probably thinking he could never live up to Uther. They could be right. He's nothing like his father.
"Arthur you shouldn't listen to him or anyone else who tries to antagonize you. We both know once father died more than one person thought Camelot's territory was up for grabs, they didn't know you were back, Uther tried his hardest to keep it a secret. He was afraid of retaliation from the East End people. They're sure it was us who threatened Olaf's life," Morgana tells him in one steady beat. He stares at her, shocked at the realization his sister has come to terms with her life, this is who she is, who they are. Try as he might to deny it. Once they both dreamt of getting away, only he did in the end. Guilt eats at him sometimes for leaving Morgana behind.
Arthur scrubs a hand down his face, he's never been so tired. His eyes almost close on their own accord. "I plan on speaking to Olaf's daughter once the waters have settled. It would be in our best interest to remain in the good graces of our allies."
"So you have thought about it."
"Of course I have. The first day I was back father talked to me, he wasted no time in letting me know he wanted me to take over," Arthur says feeling melancholic. He spent Uther's last days with him in companionable silence, it was the first time they reached an understanding, their lack of words was enough to communicate. Often Morgana would join them, her presence a balm to both Uther and Arthur. For a few days they were almost a normal family. Regular folk dealing with grief and denial. "Can you believe it? Me. The one who denounced his lifestyle and ran. I don't know how to do this, Morgana."
Arthur's been so absorbed in his thoughts he doesn't notice her walking over to him until she's standing next to him, Morgana turns the chair so he can face her. Arthur focuses on the blood-red of her fingernails griping the arms of the chair and avoiding eye contact altogether. She touches his cheek, she's cold, her hands always are, it's so familiar it tugs at something in his chest and he can no longer avoid her. She's kneeling in front of him, eyes earnest. Arthur swallows, bites the inside of his cheek to keep tears from escaping.
He stares at his sister, the only family he has left. He feels eight again, back when Morgana had her arms wrapped around him, whispering in his ear and hushing him. Making up tales of fairies and witches and brave Knights to keep him calm. Comforting him when it should've been the other way around. Vivianne had just died in a crossfire, their father had turned into a creature filled with fury and thirst for revenge. Lives were taken and Uther's hands were never clean again. Morgana lost her mother that day, but instead of crying she spent the entire night with Arthur, keeping her little brother safe after having lost his second mother. That night both were united in grief, young, afraid and vulnerable, holding onto each other for dear life. Deep down he's still that vulnerable child. He'd be damned if he let anyone outside these four walls know.
"Father loved us in his own way," Morgana says knowingly, as if she could read his mind. Her words oddly comforting. She's always been good at that.
He covers her hand with his own. "Aggravaine was wrong, I didn't come back because of guilt. I need you to know that."
Morgana nods. "Whatever reason, I'm glad to have my brother back."
Arthur lets go exhaling heavily. He still has something to prove. "You better help me with this or I might bring down the family name with me."
Morgana laughs taking his words as a joke. She gets up and shakes her head. "Of course I will, I won't leave you alone. There is no one better than me. Who else could be your right hand?"
"Not even up for discussion. I just feel like I don't know what I'm doing. Our father commanded respect, and I--" Arthur says, stops to gather his thoughts. "We have a legacy to protect, Morgana. And none of the families have an ounce of respect for me."
"Not yet, no. But we'll work on it. Come on, I bet you haven't eaten anything since yesterday, those habits of yours will end up killing you. I'll asks Gaius to make us something."
Arthur watches Morgana go. This is the start of his new life.
He takes his time before he follows her. Before he fully accepts he's here and the world is still spinning. With one last glance at his father's study he closes the door behind him.