Title: A Minor Detour, Part 22
Rating: PG-13/R overall
Character/s: Merlin, Gwaine, Morgana, Arthur, Uther
Summary: She had an imperious and imposing presence that went a good way to explaining Gwaine’s trepidation. The fact that she immediately asked, “And why shouldn’t I have you thrown out the airlock?” explained a little more.
Word Count: 1,000
Prompt: #276: Patience
Author's Notes: Part 1|10|15|20|21||All Parts on AO3
A commanding woman strode into the chamber where he and Gwaine had been ushered after Gwen got them through the first guarded door and Gwaine made his case to the security officer who greeted them. The rest of their group had been made to wait outside, which didn’t sit well with him. But it wasn’t like he had much of a choice.
The woman wore a similar uniform to the officers, deep purple and stylistically asymmetrical, but prominent emblems decorated her shoulders to declare her rank. That, Merlin figured, had to be the infamous Morgana; she had an imperious and imposing presence that went a good way to explaining Gwaine’s trepidation.
The fact that she immediately asked, “And why shouldn’t I have you thrown out the airlock?” explained a little more. Gwaine hunched his shoulders and spread his arms like he was about to try and answer what was apparently the favorite threat of everyone among Gwaine’s acquaintances.
Merlin didn’t have time. He was used to empty threats from posturing commanding officers, and to less-than-empty threats from ultimate authorities who he now knew wanted him dead, and he wasn’t going to let either stop him from getting to Arthur.
“Hi,” he said before they could continue, stepping out from behind Gwaine.
They both looked at him; Gwaine with wide-eyed panic, waving at him to hush, and Morgana with raised eyebrows that hovered somewhere between appraising and mocking. She took in his makeshift outfit, gaze tracking slowly from his uncovered shoulder down the tied sheet to his bare legs and feet, but when she looked up again, it was at Gwaine’s face, not his.
“What sort of mess have you brought to my Wander, exactly?”
“Yeah, hi,” Merlin said again. “The mess’s name is Merlin and despite appearances, I’m the one to talk to.”
Gwaine continued to frown at him and make unsubtly twitchy shushing motions, but Merlin ignored him. Getting them in to see the Commander was what he’d needed Gwaine’s favor for; he didn’t think it would do any good in convincing her to intervene. Someone needed to make a compelling case for it, and even if Gwaine’s intentions were good, Merlin couldn’t trust him to do that.
“Is that so?” He finally had Morgana’s attention; he only regretted it a bit as her eyes seemed to pierce his very soul. “Because I was told Gwaine is the one claiming he’s owed a favor.”
“My captain saved Gwaine’s life and now I need to save my captain.” He met her unnerving stare without flinching. Though he was still shaken—still terrified of what might happen—it was easy to be brave for Arthur. “So I’m calling in his favor.”
“Is that how favors work, where you’re from?” she asked archly.
Merlin smiled a blithe smile and lied, “I wouldn’t know. Captain claims any debts I’m owed as his own anyway.”
“You came on one of the Camelot shuttles. Do you belong to the Pendragons?”
He hadn’t realized she knew about the shuttles and their origin. If she knew that, she must have known about Arthur, and probably Uther, too. That was either going to make his task easier or much, much harder. No way to tell which except to go for it.
“Merlin Emrys, former First Navigation Officer of the Albion,” he said. “I belong to Arthur.”
It might’ve been too much to give away. Her eyes rounded in surprised comprehension for a fraction of a second before her face evened out with a smile. It wasn’t a very reassuring smile, but all she said was, “I see. You should join me for dinner, Mister Emrys.”
“I, uh, what?”
“I insist. It’s almost ready, I’ll have another place set for you.”
She turned to leave, like that was the end of the conversation, so Merlin had to blurt out, “I need you to stop Uther from leaving Wayfarers’ Wander.”
Without looking back, she asked, “That’s what you want for Gwaine’s favor?”
“Uther and his men and his ship,” Merlin clarified. “I just need you to keep them here until I can find a way to get Arthur. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Consider it done. Now come before I lose my patience and rescind my generous invitation.”
When Merlin glanced over, Gwaine was staring after Morgana, slack-jawed. But he caught Merlin’s look and offered him a shrug and a wary thumbs up. Good luck, he mouthed. At least, Merlin thought that was what it was.
Since pushing the matter seemed more likely to backfire than anything else, Merlin had to take her at her word and follow her out the door. They didn’t travel far through a few mismatched corridors before another armed guard let them through a door. Morgana stepped aside to let Merlin through first, but he froze as soon as he got a look inside the room.
Arthur and Uther faced each other on the far side of the table, obviously caught in the middle of a fit of emotions. Uther being who he was, his only emotion was splotchy red rage. Arthur’s expression was far more complex, angry but also lost, like a child. It made Merlin’s heart hurt for him.
It also fueled his own outrage at whatever Uther had done to put it there.
But they both looked to the door when it opened, and the change that came over Arthur’s face melted all Merlin’s other thoughts away. He was more radiant than a trinary sunrise, and knowing that he inspired that in Arthur did all kinds of funny things to Merlin’s heartbeat.
So of course the admiral had to ruin it, like he’d tried to ruin everything else in Merlin’s life.
“I don’t have time for your games, Morgana. I’ll be leaving now. With my prisoners. If you don’t stand aside, Camelot will consider this an act of aggression and respond in kind.”
Morgana spoke up from behind Merlin, voice cold despite the sweetness of her words. “Have patience, dearest father of mine.”