Title: We Need to Talk About Morgause 
Rating: G (this part)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur finally makes his move. Morgana makes a big mistake. And Merlin, ultimately, has to make a choice – but will it be Arthur? Part 4 of the We Need to Talk series.
[ Prequel | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | AO3 ]
Warnings: None (this part)
Word Count: 1200w
Prompt: 339 Attack
Author's Notes: Once more unto the breach, dear friends...
Arthur is still on the sofa when Merlin gets up on Friday morning, his face mashed into one of the cushions and one arm trailing along the floor. He hadn’t gone back to work the previous day, and the two of them stayed up until the early hours trying to come up with a plan of attack, only to end up in much the same position as they had been in when they started: although they now know who the mole is, they are no closer to figuring out what they should do about it, or how to go about clearing Merlin’s name.
Leaning against the doorframe, Merlin takes a moment to observe his best friend-slash-boss-slash…whatever the hell they are to each other these days. He can’t deny that he’s missed Arthur’s presence in his life these past few weeks—things just haven’t been the same without someone barking ridiculous orders at him 24/7—but he’s still not sure he has entirely forgiven the man for not having his back that day in his office. Even though it now looks like someone must have hacked into Merlin’s account behind his back, it seems pretty unlikely that it could have been Edwin, and the implication that Merlin would be so careless with his work, or indeed that Edwin had only been with him for the purpose of gathering information, had stung more than he really cared to admit.
Still, it’s hard to hold anything against Arthur when he’s lying there so peacefully, making little snuffling sounds into the cushion like a puppy dreaming about chasing sheep. With an amused smile, Merlin walks over to the couch and nudges him in the ribs with his knee.
“Rise and shine, sleepyhead,” he says, as Arthur groans something unintelligible and begins to stir. “You have exactly ten minutes before you’re late for work.”
As predicted, this makes Arthur sit up abruptly, nearly falling off the sofa as he bolts upright. He stares at Merlin in alarm, blue eyes wide and blinking in the early morning light. “What am I—wait, what time is it?” He looks down at his wrinkled shirt and pants, an expression of panic crossing his face. “Shit, I won’t have time to go home and change—”
“Arthur, relax,” Merlin interrupts, grinning. “I’m just messing with you. You’ve got plenty of time to shower and borrow one of my shirts before you have to get going.”
Arthur’s eyes narrow into a glare, but with the pillow creases on his cheeks and his spectacular bed head, it’s not particularly frightening. “You are a horrible person, I hope you’re aware.”
“Yes, that’s why I made you coffee.” Merlin holds out the mug in his other hand. “And there are some pancakes in the kitchen. I couldn’t sleep, so I figured I might as well do something useful.”
“For a change,” Arthur mutters, but he takes the coffee and downs half of it in one gulp. He grimaces, wrinkling his nose, but he looks a little more alert as he peers up into Merlin’s face. “Thank you. For letting me crash here last night, I mean. And for the coffee.” He smiles lopsidedly, and right on cue a familiar flock of butterflies shivers to life in Merlin’s stomach, swirling up inside his ribcage and into his throat. “I appreciate it.”
“Any time.” Merlin shrugs, turning away to hide his expression. So much for distance curing him of his Arthur obsession. How dare someone be that attractive first thing in the morning? “I’ll go and find you something to wear while you have breakfast. Be right back.”
When he returns a few minutes later, however, fresh shirt and tie in hand, Arthur is still sitting where Merlin left him, elbows braced his knees and both hands wrapped around the coffee mug as though in supplication. Merlin drops the clothes on the end of the couch and Arthur looks over at him, his expression bleak.
“I’m going to have to confront her, aren’t I?”
Merlin doesn’t bother to ask who he’s talking about. “It does seem like only way of finding out the truth,” he says, and Arthur lets out a long sigh.
“I was afraid you were going to say that.”
“Look at it this way.” Merlin takes the cup out of Arthur’s hands and puts it on the coffee table, sitting down on the sofa next to him. “At least then you’ll finally know what’s going on. Once everything is out in the open, you can decide what you’re going to do about it.”
“That’s just it.” Arthur scrubs a hand through his hair. “If it turns out that we’re right, and it is Morgana who’s been doing this—there’s not going to be much that I can do. At the very least, she’s going to get fired. Maybe even prosecuted. And my father will never forgive her.”
“You don’t know that.” True, Uther isn’t exactly known for his forgiving nature, but Morgana is his daughter, and the man dotes on her. If nothing else, he’ll want to keep her out of jail. “Maybe she has good reason for what she’s been doing, or this whole thing is just a big misunderstanding. She’s your sister—surely she wouldn’t do anything to hurt you or your father on purpose.”
“I don’t know…she can be pretty ruthless when she wants to be. It just—it doesn’t make sense. She seemed genuinely shocked when we found out what was going on. And then, that day in my office…” His voice trails off, so Merlin picks up the thread of it for him.
“The day you accused me of being the spy, you mean? Yes, she did seem rather adamant that I wasn’t the culprit.”
Arthur has the grace to wince.
“We both were,” he says. “I told you, I never thought you would do something like that deliberately. But Edwin could have stolen your password, and we needed to be sure.”
“Right.” Merlin purses his lips. “Well, in any case, Morgana deserves the chance to defend herself, and you obviously need to know the extent of her involvement before you can come up with a plan of action, so I’d say talking to her is your only option at this point.”
Arthur just nods, staring at the empty coffee cup as though it holds the secret to life, the universe, and everything, and the look on his face is so utterly miserable that it tugs at Merlin’s heartstrings in spite of himself. He sighs. Irritating though Arthur might be, there’s no way Merlin can just sit back and let him go through all this alone.
Getting to his feet, he picks up the shirt and tie from where he had left them and hands them to Arthur, who takes them with a faintly bemused expression, as though he has somehow forgotten what they are for.
“Go. Shower. Dress,” Merlin says, pointing towards the bathroom. “I’ll wrap up some of those pancakes while you get changed, and then we can get going.”
“Yes, we,” Merlin confirms, unable to hold back a smile at the way Arthur’s face lights up at the word. “I’m coming with you.”