Title: Love Me Blind [Part 5]
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Morgana/Arthur
Character/s: Merlin, Morgana, Arthur
Summary: Merlin and Morgana attend one of Vivian's parties wherein Arthur is in attendance.
Warnings: blindness, Victorian Era, banter
Word Count: 1700 (sorry, again...)
Prompt: 333: eerie
Author's Notes: Again, sorry this story is all over the place and these "drabbles" are so long. These prompts seem to be the best way for me to progress through it. So anyway, this scene takes place somewhere more toward the beginning, a ways before any of the other parts. Yeah, sorry it is so confusing....
Part 1, 2, 4
“Oh god,” Morgana cursed, her arm jerking in Merlin’s, nearly causing him to stumble.
“Morgana!” Merlin hissed, angling his head toward hers so as not to be overheard. “Not in polite society.”
Morgana patted Merlin’s elbow as she led him further through the chatter. “Hush Merlin, if you could see the ghastly suit Mr. Jeffries is sporting you would curse too. A horrid shade of brown and the cut, I don’t believe it’s from this decade."
“What is wrong with brown?” Merlin asked in mock horror. He tilted his chin toward her with a raised eyebrow. “I wear brown regularly, or so you tell me. Have you been lying to me, dear sister?”
“Only for your own good," Morgana teased, patting his arm with her other hand. "But you at least keep up with the latest fashions thanks to me.” Her arm jerked in his once more, gloved hand lightly grasping his forearm as though she were gesturing somewhere. “How his wife lets him out of the house looking like that, I’ll never fathom.”
“I reckon it’s not up to her what he sports.”
Morgana huffed. Merlin tucked his cane under his arm as Morgana led him further through the throng of elbows and shoulders and ankles. “Clearly or he’d have some sense.”
Merlin chuckled, letting Morgana steer him on. She stopped them here and there, trading pleasantries and greetings with various sorts from the town. Merlin smiled and nodded, giving what was expected of him while fending off the ever growing headache that had been building since they first arrived. He didn't do well in the crowds of parties, his senses overwhelmed.
Morgana stopped once more and Merlin with her.
“Ah Morgana, Merlin, how lovely to see you both.” Merlin recognized the soft gentle chords of Morgana’s good friend Gwen and gave her a sincere smile in return.
“Good evening Gwen,” he greeted.
Morgana released his arm briefly and there was a rustle of taffeta and brushing of lace as she embraced her friend. “Gwen, you utter dear, how I’ve missed you. You as well Elena. You both must come by for tea more often.”
“Enough nonsense,” Elena spoke up, her voice tinged with excitement. “Morgana tell us everything. I must know all that has transpired between you and Mr. Pendragon.”
“What have you heard?” Morgana asked straightening her posture in erlin's arm. “I can assure you, nothing untoward has happened. He’s been a complete gentleman.”
Elena leaned forward with a rustle of skirts. “Oh that’s not what I mean and you know it. Rumor is he’s looking for a wife and is rather sweet on you.”
Merlin could practically feel the heat coloring Morgana’s cheeks and he smirked at her. She rewarded him with a subtle jab of her finger into his side. “Arthur is nothing more than a doting friend. He’s quite fond of Merlin as well. Becoming insufferable the two of them.”
“I am insufferable on my own, thank you very much,” Merlin said, a hand to his heart in mock insult. “Don’t need any help from that prat.”
Gwen giggled but Elena sped right on through. “You can’t be simply friends with a man such as that,” she said, her tone turning wistful. “All golden hair and strong jaw. It goes against the laws of nature, that does.”
Merlin nodded his blind agreement.
“See,” Elena chirped. “Merlin agrees with me.”
“Oh, hush you two.” Morgana’s arm shifted in his, her body leaning away from him for a brief moment. “Here, Merlin take this.”
A pastry was placed in Merlin’s hand to silence any further words he might have had on the matter. He didn’t protest. There would be plenty of time later to tease Morgana about her and Arthur’s various meetings and strolls through the garden.
“He’s here somewhere you know. Perhaps we’ll get to witness his fancy first hand,” Gwen tittered.
Merlin took a bite of the pastry, savoring the sweet and tart tones that swam across his tongue as he listened to the women gossiping about Arthur. If there was one thing he enjoyed about these parties, it was the food. And Miss Vivian knew how to create a wonderful palate.
“Oh seems it’s time for you to earn our invitation.” Morgana’s voice was hushed, her head lowered toward Merlin as Gwen and Elena continued to gossip around them. A sense of relief filled Merlin and he turned ever so slightly to the right at Morgana’s leading touch. “Miss Vivian is coming this way.”
Merlin finished off the pastry before straightening himself, keeping his gaze ahead, trying not to wince at the constant shifting moving and swirling of greys along his limited field of vision. There were too many people. He didn’t think he had the patience nor the capacity to take much more of this party. Just needed to suffer a few more moments with Miss Vivian and then he could slip behind the piano and hide amongst the octaves and chords until Morgana collected him for home.
“Mr. Emrys,” Miss Vivian called as she approached them, “won’t you play for us? Oh, please do.”
Morgana tapped his arm twice reminding Merlin to rouse up a friendly smile for their host this evening.
“Of course,” he said, relieved to skip over the pleasantries and get right to the point. “It would be my pleasure.”
It should bother him, he knew. After all, what was the point in inviting the blind boy and his siter from the crumbling estate up the road if not to get something out of it? But Morgana loved these fanciful parties and Merlin relished being able to play for others with no family relations. So he agreed to trade his skill for their invitations despite his aversion to such parties. At least there on the bench, he didn’t have to muster up smiles and trade gossip and greetings. He could just let the music drown out everything else and soothe his overtaxed senses.
“And none of that dreadful eerie stuff,” Miss Vivian continued on. “Play that cheerful piece I can skip to.”
“You take all the fun out of everything.” Merlin teased. Morgana tapped his arm again, steering him toward where the piano lay in the corner. His corner.
Miss Vivian’s voice rose above the din of chatter, high-pitched and haughty. “My party, Mr. Emrys. I can do as I please.”
As if he needed reminding. The whole town knew about her ways. Her father made sure she want for nothing, except perhaps a man. That she was not yet allowed, given the sorts that had come knocking searching for nothing more than an easy in to the Kingston family riches. Henceforth she had stuck up her nose at any potential suitors.
That is until Arthur waltzed into town. It’s as though her and every unmatched lady in the land swooned as one the second he stepped foot in their town.
Merlin leaned his cane against the wall at his back as Morgana deposited him down on the bench. She gave him two taps on the shoulder to alert him to her departure and he nodded toward her in thanks before placing his finger on the ivory.
The party melted away as the first few notes sang out, swirling around his body in familiarity. The chords bled one into another, light and airy, pitched in a happiness and joy that filled the room. Laughter filtered through his senses, the guests radiating pleasure and cheer as Merlin’s fingers rose and fell, slowed and sped up alongside each note.
As he closed out the piece with a few final chords, Merlin became aware of a presence leaning on the piano.
“Clementi, I presume,” a familiar baritone said as the applause from the guests faded out. Of course it was Arthur. There should have been no question. Wherever the music was, there too Arthur seemed to be. “You play it quite well.”
“I would hope so.” Merlin shot a sidelong glance in Arthur’s direction. “He’s all Miss Vivian ever wants to hear. She demands I play his pieces at all her parties.” He waved a hand in the air as if the gestured might prove his point. “Thinks it compliments her demeanor well.”
Arthur chuckled with an air of disbelief. “I’m not sure I’d agree.”
Feeling emboldened by Arthur’s presence, Merlin tapped out the intro of a more somber and delicate yet nonetheless lively piece. He had barely made it passed the first few chords before the weight of Vivian's gaze pressed upon him, her displeasure tangible even from across the room. But he knew she wouldn’t dare make a scene, not at least while the handsome and attainable Arthur stood at his side listening in.
“She’s glaring at you,” Arthur said, his voice carrying over the melody. “Be careful there or she might not invite you back.”
Merlin just smiled wickedly and nodded in the direction of Miss Vivian's chiming tones as his fingers spelled out the notes. “She always invites me back. The alternative is Mrs. Graves and she’s three times my age and not nearly half as good. Not to mention an absolute bore at parties. At least I’m pleasant to look at if nothing else.”
“How would you know,” Arthur scoffed, amused. “Blind as a bat.”
Merlin’s fingers sped up on the keys. “You haven’t run away in terror yet. That has to count for something.”
“Perhaps I’m also just using you for your musical talents.” There was a smirk in Arthur’s voice, his ribbing evident. Merlin’s heart flipped in his chest.
“You sure it’s not my winning personality?” he asked with a grin and a wink in Arthur’s direction.
“Definitely not,” Arthur deadpanned. “Completely dreadful that.”
“Said the moth to the flame.”
Arthur hummed, half amused, half arrogance. “Your sister seems to think I’m quite charming.”
“She is also fond of maths and calculations. Her opinion is not to be trusted.” Merlin nodded at the keys, slowing the melody, letting the pensive notes caress the guests and melt into their skin.
“Are you saying she’s fond of me?” Arthur’s tone was deeper now, a genuine curiosity masked by the thin veil of their banter.
“We're not sure why.” Merlin smirked even as a pang of longing shot through him.
Unfortunately, Morgana wasn’t the only Emrys to discover a fondness for the handsome Mr. Pendragon.