Title: We Need to Talk About Morgana (3)
Rating: G (this part)
Pairing/s: None (this part)
Character/s: Arthur, Morgana, Gwen, George
Summary: Morgana can't resist the chance to interfere. Merlin would rather be left alone. And Arthur – well, Arthur doesn't know if he's making things better or worse, but it's not for lack of trying.
[ Prequel | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | AO3 ]
Word Count: 1200w.
Prompt: 328 Random Dialogue 3 ("Whatever you're going to ask, the answer is no").
Author's Notes: *casually leaves this here and runs away*
Arthur arrives at work on Monday filled with nervous anticipation. He’s not about to admit it to anyone—least of all to Morgana, who has been giving him suspicious looks across the office all morning—but were it not for the fact that so much is at stake, he would actually be kind of enjoying himself right now. For the first time since he’d started working for Uther, it feels like he’s actually making a difference, accomplishing something more than just making money for the firm. And it feels good.
When the appointed hour rolls around, he makes sure to be seated casually at his desk, flipping through a handful of folders as though looking for something in particular. In reality, he’s waiting for Gwen, who had assured him that she would be there at 12:30pm on the dot. He’s not entirely sure he can trust to her punctuality, but a few minutes after 12:25—Arthur may or may not have been obsessively checking his watch—there are voices in the foyer, and George bustles into Arthur’s office with his usual fussy little knock on the open door.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Mr Pendragon,” he says, sounding harassed. “But there’s a young lady in the lobby who insists on seeing you immediately. I told her you were not to be disturbed, but she claims—”
“Send her through, George,” Arthur interrupts, and George’s face freezes into an expression of shocked disapproval.
“But, sir—your two o’clock—”
“—will have to be pushed back. This meeting is important,” Arthur tells him, loud enough for the words to carry to the hall outside. George opens his mouth to protest once more, and Arthur takes a moment to wish that Merlin were here—Merlin would have already guessed that Arthur had been waiting for this very client all day—before he reiterates more firmly, “George. Send her in.”
“Yes, sir.” Lips pursed, George turns on his heel and marches out of the room, and shortly afterwards he returns with Gwen in tow—albeit a very different Gwen from the one Arthur had met a few days ago.
Dressed in a scandalously short sundress made from floating black and white lace, with her hair done up and her eyes concealed behind a pair of huge black sunglasses, she looks every inch a wealthy young socialite, and not at all the sort of woman that one usually expected to find gracing the halls of Pendragon Enterprises. Arthur can see heads turning to follow her as she walks, and he gets up to greet her, unconsciously smoothing the non-existent wrinkles from his shirt before taking her proffered hand.
“Miss Smith,” he says, smiling at her. “A pleasure.”
“I’m sure.” Even her voice is different, haughty and disdainful. “Your assistant seemed to think that you were busy. Shall I come back another time?”
“Of course not. Please, come in.”
Arthur ushers her inside and closes the door, glancing over her shoulder to see half of his employees quickly pretending to be looking in the other direction. The rest of them are openly staring, including Morgana. Grinning, Arthur closes the door.
“I'm pretty sure that got their attention,” he says, sitting back down behind his desk. “Well done. You’re a natural.”
Gwen smiles. “I did a lot of theatre back in uni,” she says, settling into the chair opposite him. “I enjoyed it. It’s nice to have the chance to brush up on some of my old skills.”
“As opposed to some of your new ones?” Arthur raises his eyebrows. “I did some digging after I left your flat the other night. You’ve got quite an impressive rap sheet for—well.” He doesn’t want to say a girl, but— “For someone your age.”
Her smile fades, and her expression cools noticeably. “Whatever you’re going to ask, Mr Pendragon, the answer is no,” she says in a tight voice. “No, I am not a criminal; no, I’m not trying to scam you or your company; and no, I don’t want to talk about it.” Her cheeks are a deep red, but she meets his gaze squarely, her mouth set. “This is a business arrangement, so let’s keep things strictly professional, shall we?”
Arthur studies her for a moment, but finally he nods.
“I trust Gwaine,” he says. “Or rather, I don’t really have much of a choice but to trust Gwaine, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Gwaine has assured me that your methods are strictly legal and will be absolutely above board, which is really all I need to know.”
“Good.” She glances back over at the door, the teeth chewing at her lower lip the only sign of what she’s feeling. “How long do these meetings usually last, anyway?”
“That depends on the content,” Arthur says. “But usually not very long. I say we give it until five past one and then I’ll show you to the door.”
“All right.” She uncrosses her long legs and pulls Arthur’s legal pad across his desk, smiling at him determinedly. “How about a game of hangman while we wait?”
Morgana pounces on Arthur as soon as Gwen leaves, her gaze alight with curiosity.
“What was all that about?” she asks, following him back into his office without bothering to close the door. “And who was that woman you were talking to? I could swear I’ve seen her somewhere before.”
“She’s a friend of Vivian Alined’s,” Arthur lies smoothly, trotting out the story that he and Gwen had concocted the week before. He keeps his attention focused on the files on his desk, not wanting to give Morgana the chance to look too closely at his face. He still feels a little guilty for lying to her, especially since he knows she wants to help Merlin as much as he does, but he and Gwaine had agreed that the fewer people who know about their plan the better. “Her father died recently and she’s looking to offload some of his assets. Mr Alined was kind enough to send her in our direction.”
“So she’s a client.”
“Well, yes.” Arthur raises a brow and glances up at her. “What else would she be?”
Morgana shakes her head, but her eyes are narrowed thoughtfully as she stares at him. “You’re up to something,” she says, pointing a finger at him. “I know that look.”
Arthur rolls his eyes. “I’m ‘up to’ negotiating a contract. A very lucrative one, in fact,” he adds, lowering his voice and looking meaningfully at the open door. “I’ll send it over to you later so you can see what I mean.”
Morgana’s eyes widen—he can see he's piqued her interest. “Really,” she says, glancing at the clock above Arthur’s desk. “You’re lucky I’m late for lunch, or I’d make you tell me everything right now. As it is, I want to hear all the details as soon as I get back.”
“Of course,” Arthur agrees, smirking. “I would hate for you to keep dear Morgause waiting.”
Interestingly, that makes Morgana’s cheeks turn pink. “Shut up,” she says tightly, before turning on her heel and sweeping off out the door.