Title: We Need to Talk About Morgause 
Rating: G (this part).
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Gwaine/Gwen
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine, Morgana, Morgause
Summary: Arthur finally makes his move. Morgana makes a big mistake. And Merlin, ultimately, has to make a choice – but will it be Arthur? The penultimate instalment of the We Need to Talk series.
[ Prequel | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | AO3 ]
Warnings: Blackmail (this part).
Word Count: 1100w
Prompt: 351 romance.
Author's Note: So you know when I said this was going to be the last fic in this series? Turns out I am a lying liar who lies *shrug emoji*
When the phone rings, they’re ready. Gwen presses record on her laptop screen just as Arthur hits Talk, and the five of them hold their collective breath as an unfamiliar voice fills the room.
“—lways good to see you, sister,” a woman—Merlin assumes it must be Morgause—is saying, sounding tinny and strange through the speakerphone. There’s a click as Morgana sets her mobile down on the table, then a scrape of chair legs against wood as she takes a seat. “You know how I enjoy spending time with you.”
“And I with you,” Morgana replies. “You have no idea what a relief it is to spend time with someone who actually listens to me when I talk, unlike certain other people I could mention.”
There’s a pause, then Morgause says, “Trouble with your father again?”
“When isn’t there?” Morgana is a consummate actress; she sounds genuinely angry and frustrated to Merlin's ears. “He’s still doing his best to have Merlin arrested, no matter what Arthur and I do to try and stop him.”
“That’s terrible.” A clink of cutlery—or is Morgause playing with her water glass? “And you’re both certain that Merlin isn’t responsible?”
“Of course we are!” Merlin smiles as Morgana rises to his defence, sounding surprised that Morgause would even consider another alternative. “I told you, Merlin would never betray Arthur like that—it has to have been somebody else, but Father just won’t listen.”
Morgause makes an indistinct noise, as though irritated, and Merlin can imagine the depths of her frustration. It must have taken some effort to set him up as the scapegoat for her various misdeeds; how infuriating, then, to have her plans foiled by something so simple as his friendship with Arthur, a factor that she apparently had not foreseen.
“No doubt you know best,” she says finally, her tone careful. “Although—perhaps, if their romance ended badly, it might have changed Merlin’s feelings towards him? Love can make us do strange things, and spurned love the strangest of all.”
Now it’s Morgana’s turn to go quiet. “What are you talking about?” she asks. “Merlin and Arthur aren’t dating.”
“Oh, I thought you knew.” A breath. Merlin looks at Arthur, who is staring fixedly at his phone, the back of his neck turning red. “I saw them together at the Masquerade Ball. Or rather, I saw Arthur, coming out of one of the rooms by himself after you and Merlin left. He looked rather dishevelled; I confess, I assumed you found the two of them together.”
Across the table, Merlin sees Gwaine’s eyebrows shoot up. You never told me about that, he mouths, glancing over at Arthur. So that’s why you looked so flustered when I saw you, Princess.
Shut up, Merlin mouths back, catching his eye, but Gwaine just grins obnoxiously, giving him a thumbs up. In front of Merlin, Arthur appears to have turned into a statue—a very pink, very determined-to-ignore-Merlin statue, his head bent as though he were listening intently to Morgana and noticed nothing else. Merlin bites his lip.
“—all the more reason why Merlin could never have done it,” Morgana is saying, valiantly doing her best to get the conversation back on track. “He’s not the sort of person who would betray a friend just to get back at them. My father, on the other hand…”
To everyone’s relief, Morgause takes the bait, and allows Morgana to steer her once more onto the topic of Uther’s many flaws—a subject she seems to know a great deal about, for someone who has never even met the man in person. Somehow, Merlin gets the feeling that Morgana is enjoying her role just a little too much, and, unthinking, his hand finds its way to Arthur’s shoulder, squeezing it gently. Arthur has always hated it when Morgana airs her grievances in public.
At length, Morgana’s meal arrives, and both women pause to thank the server as they settle in to enjoy their food. The conversation trails off into brief exchanges, most of them related to the quality of the cooking, and the five listeners glance at one another. Has Morgana forgotten the rest of their plan? It almost seems like she’s decided to let the subject go, but they don’t have nearly enough information to prove Morgause’s involvement. On the contrary, Merlin has no doubt that Uther would agree with her suggestion about his motivation, and point to Merlin's feelings for Arthur as further evidence of his guilt. As though reading his mind, Arthur raises a hand to grasp at Merlin’s fingers, hard, holding on tight as the five of them wait for something to happen.
As always, Morgana doesn’t disappoint.
“There’s nothing else for it,” she announces suddenly, as though she’s been thinking about this the whole time and just now come to a decision. “I’m going to have to leave. I can’t work there any longer.”
“Leave Pendragon Enterprises?” Morgause is alert at once, her voice sharp. “I thought you said that would never happen.”
“Well, I was wrong.” They can hear Morgana push back her chair, the table rattling, and then a series of muffled clunks as she gathers up her things. “Perhaps if I quit, Father will have to take me seriously. At least I won’t have to put up with his temper tantrums anymore.”
“Wait, Morgana.” Morgause sounds closer, somehow, as though she’s leaned over to catch her sister’s arm, bringing her mouth nearer to the microphone. “Think this through. I don’t think leaving PE right now would be a good idea.”
“Because.” She lowers her voice, but the words still come through the speakers loud and clear. “What if your father decides to take it as an admission of guilt? Maybe he’ll try to have you arrested along with Merlin.”
“He wouldn’t dare,” Morgana says, but Merlin thinks he can hear a sliver of uncertainty beneath the confidence. She really is a very good liar. “He knows Arthur would never stand for it.”
“Maybe he wouldn’t care.” Merlin can almost hear Morgause’s shrug. “You said it yourself—he’s prone to jumping to conclusions. And given the evidence…”
Arthur’s grip on Merlin’s hand is painful. “What evidence?” Morgana asks, sounding just the right mixture of confused and frightened. “What are you talking about?”
“Oh, Morgana.” There’s a warm, unctuous note in Morgause’s voice that is entirely at odds with her words. “Don’t tell me you haven’t worked it out by now. You were right: your precious Merlin isn’t the mole.” A pause, as though she’s smiling. “You are.”