Title: We Need to Talk About Morgause 
Rating: G (this part)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, George
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: Family drama.
Word Count: 1200 words.
Prompt: 341 Noisy.
Author's Notes: *slides in 15 minutes late with Starbucks*
The lift inside the Pendragon building is mercifully empty when they arrive, which is understandable considering the early hour. Only the most enthusiastic of employees is likely to be there at half seven in the morning, and it’s a good thing that Morgana is as much of a workaholic as her brother—the product of being related to Uther, Merlin assumes—otherwise, they might have to wait a while for her to show up.
“You okay?” Merlin asks, as he and Arthur step into the elevator together. Arthur flashes him a quick smile and nods, drawing in an audible breath before pressing the button for their floor. He looks the same way that he usually does when he’s about to enter the boardroom or talk to his father: cool, confident, and collected, which is how Merlin knows that he’s nervous as hell.
“It’s going to be fine,” he says, resting a hand on Arthur’s arm and giving it a squeeze. “I promise.”
“You can’t promise that,” Arthur mutters back, but the rigidity of his stance seems to loosen a bit, and when the doors slide open, disgorging them into the nearly deserted office, he hesitates for a moment and says softly, “I’m glad you’re here, Merlin.”
It’s strange being back at PE after so long; stranger still to enter a room that is usually so noisy only to find it virtually empty, inhabited only by a handful of industrious souls. A man Merlin doesn’t recognise is dusting fussily at Arthur’s desk, which is more immaculate than Merlin has ever seen it. He looks up as the two of them pass, and Merlin gives him an awkward smile and a wave, which the man—Arthur’s new assistant?—does not return. Right. Organised and self-important. Arthur must love him.
Morgana’s office door is open, bright fluorescent light spilling into the hallway, and this time Arthur doesn’t hesitate before knocking briskly on the doorframe and stepping inside. Merlin follows suit, pulling the door gently closed behind him. It wouldn’t do for Mr Efficient out there to overhear their conversation.
“Arthur!” Morgana says, sounding surprised. Her gaze travels over to Merlin, and her eyebrows go up. “And Merlin, too. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I need to talk to you,” Arthur says curtly. “Do you have a minute?”
“I have several minutes, but I’m not sure I want to waste them on the likes of you.” Morgana’s eyes narrow, and she glances back and forth between the two of them. “Arthur, why are you wearing Merlin’s shirt?”
“Because I slept in mine,” Arthur says, waving a hand dismissively. “Morgana, this is important.”
Morgana leans back in her chair, and for the first time that Merlin can recall, she actually looks tired.
“Let me guess,” she says wearily. “This has something to do with whoever’s been leaking our files to Essetir, doesn’t it?”
Merlin and Arthur exchange glances.
“What makes you think that?” Arthur asks cautiously, and Morgana fixes him with a withering stare.
“You’re here with Merlin,” she says. “The man who is currently suspected of being the mole, and who has been banned from the building since all of this began. It isn't a particularly difficult leap to conclude that you must have found out something new.” She smirks. “Besides, you’ve been acting squirrelly all week. I’ve always been able to tell when you were up to something.”
“Right.” Arthur looks flustered for a moment, and Merlin almost wishes the situation weren’t quite so serious—he’s always enjoyed watching the two siblings squabble. “Well, yes, that is what this is about. You see…” He pauses and looks at Merlin, who gives him an encouraging nod. “We know it was you.”
“You know what was me?” Morgana asks blankly.
“We know you’re the mole,” Arthur says. His voice doesn’t waver, but Merlin can see the tension in the way he holds himself, and has to resist the urge to reach out and touch him for moral support. Morgana is staring at them both, her lips slightly parted, hands poised in the act of fiddling with her pen.
“We did some investigating,” Arthur tells her doggedly, “Gwen and Gwaine and I, and we set a trap, something that would tempt the mole into accessing the company server when they weren’t supposed to. And do you know what we found?”
Morgana huffs out a breath. “Obviously not,” she says, folding her arms over her chest. “Are you seriously suggesting—?”
“It was Merlin’s ID.” Arthur cuts across her, and she falls silent. “But since Merlin didn’t even know about the deal to begin with, he couldn’t have been the one who tried to access the files. And there was something else.”
He goes on to tell her about the fake background they’d made up, the one that only she had been privy to, and Merlin watches her face as he talks, trying to work out what she must be thinking. There’s something off about her expression—she looks shocked, but not completely, her brows drawn together as though she’s remembering something she’d rather not think about.
When Arthur has finished his summary, laying out their reasons for suspecting her in clear, concise detail, Morgana leans back in her chair and lets out her breath, not quite meeting her brother’s eyes.
“So, that’s it, then,” she says, her voice quiet. “Are you going to tell Father?”
Arthur doesn’t say anything for a long moment. “Why did you do it?” he asks finally. “Was it for money? Spite? Or did you just wake up one morning and think, what the hell, why don’t I betray the trust of my entire family?”
Morgana looks away, her mouth tightening. “Something like that,” she says. There is something so alike about the two of them, one sitting, one standing, both frozen in postures of anger and regret, that it makes Merlin’s chest hurt a little. He can only imagine what Arthur must be feeling. “Was that all?”
Merlin can see Arthur’s mouth contort—he’s obviously holding himself back from saying something ugly. But then his eyes are drawn back to Morgana’s face, her stillness. It’s like she’s waiting for something—but for what?
“We’re done here,” Arthur says, his tone laden with disgust. “Come on, Merlin.”
He turns on his heel and makes a beeline for the door, his back ramrod straight, his jaw set. But Merlin doesn’t follow after him, his gaze still on Morgana.
“Wait,” he says suddenly, and Arthur stops. “She didn’t do it.”
Morgana pushes back her chair, half rising to her feet. “Don’t be stupid, Merlin,” she says, oddly high-pitched. “Of course I did it. You heard what Arthur said. It has to have been me.”
“Right,” Merlin says. “Except that doesn’t make sense, does it? Why use a suspended employee's account to gather information? You’re a smart woman. Why wouldn't you do a better job of covering your tracks?”
“Because,” Morgana says, looking wildly between them. “Because I—”
“Morgana,” Arthur warns, and she closes her eyes.
“Fine. No, it wasn’t me,” she says. Her fingernails tap nervously against the desktop: once, twice. She opens her eyes. “It was Morgause.”