Title: We Need to Talk About Morgause 
Rating: G (this part).
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Gwaine/Gwen
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine, Gwen, Elyan, 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 | Part 6 | AO3 ]
Warnings: Blackmail (this part).
Word Count: 1100w
Prompt: 353 impulse.
Author's Note: Almost done with this series now \o/
Gwaine punches the air, and Arthur squeezes Merlin’s hand so tightly, he thinks he can hear the bones crack. He hadn’t been expecting this: for Morgause to blatantly attempt to blackmail Morgana. She’s pretty much just served them up the entire conspiracy on a plate.
“What do you mean, I’m the mole?” Morgana asks. “I think I’d know if I were leaking information about my own company.”
“Would you?” Morgause replies. “What did you think you were doing during our little chats, sister dear?”
Morgana, being Morgana, has a few choice things to say to that, the kindest of which is a suggestion that Morgause’s actual parentage must have ultimately been reptilian. Morgause seems to find this funny, as she then goes on to explain exactly how she used Morgana’s ID to obtain the details she needed, including those necessary for setting Merlin up.
“That’s all we need,” Gwen whispers, smiling. “I’ll wait until she’s finished, then disconnect the call.”
Morgause is still talking, however, when another sound interrupts them, blaring across the conversation and making everyone jump.
“What the hell is that?” Morgause demands. “Is that your phone?”
“Shit,” Merlin hisses, fumbling in his pocket. “Fuck, I thought I turned it off—”
Merlin mutes the phone with clumsy fingers, holding his breath; the others remain frozen as Morgana says,
“—don’t know, Arthur must have changed the ringtone—”
“You’re lying,” Morgause says coldly. “Let me see it.”
“Honestly, Morgause, it’s nothing—”
The sound of a scuffle comes over the speakers—Arthur stands up abruptly, as though he could somehow interfere—then something shatters, and they hear Morgana’s voice swearing furiously just before the line goes dead.
All five of them look at one another, stunned.
“Well, that went well,” Gwaine says brightly. “Who wants a drink?”
Morgause is arrested in the end; Morgana calls them back a few hours later to confirm it, sounding extremely pleased with herself. The others launch an impromptu party to celebrate, sharing around some of Gwen and Elyan’s beer and sending out for pizza, and Merlin leaves them to it. Not wanting to spoil the mood, he ducks out onto the balcony for a moment to breathe, and is only a little surprised when Arthur follows him a few minutes later.
“So, who was calling you, anyway?” he asks, leaning against the railing. “Someone rich and famous offering you a job as their personal secretary?”
Merlin laughs. “Not as such, no,” he says. “It was Edwin. Apparently, he has a new number, and he’s still trying his best to win me back.”
Arthur makes a face. “Prick,” he says, sitting down beside Merlin. He dangles his feet out into empty space, swinging them a little to hook around Merlin’s ankles. “I spoke to my father, by the way. He’s agreed to drop the investigation and give you your job back, if that’s what you want.”
“That’s great,” Merlin says. “But I meant what I said. I don’t think I can face going back there.”
“Not your fault.”
“It sort of is,” Arthur says, shrugging. “I mean, he’s my father. I should have—I don’t know, threatened to resign in protest or something. Morgana would have gone for it.”
“And you’d both have been out of a job, meaning there would’ve been no one left to clear my name,” Merlin points out. “So it’s a good thing you didn’t.”
“Still.” Arthur studies his beer intently. “If I had, maybe you wouldn’t feel like you have to leave.”
Merlin is silent. It’s not as though he wants to leave Arthur; it’s going to be hell not seeing him every day the way he’s used to. But he’s pretty sure it’s the right thing to do, and not just because it’s awkward being attracted to his boss. He needs to put all this behind him, and he can’t do that if he stays at PE.
“At least you’ll have Gwaine for company, though,” Arthur goes on after a moment. “Maybe he knows someone who’s looking for a PA. You guys would work well together.”
“Or not,” Merlin says, wincing. “We’ve both decided we’d be better off as friends.”
“Oh.” There’s another pause, and although Merlin does his best to read Arthur’s expression, he can’t tell what the other man is thinking. “I’m sorry.”
Merlin snorts. “Two apologies in one night,” he says, knocking their shoulders together. “You must be drunk.”
“And you’re deflecting.” Arthur kicks him gently. “Is that why you came out here? To hide?”
“No.” Arthur looks beautiful in the low light, the shadows playing up the angles of his face, and Merlin aches. It’s a stupid time to be having this kind of epiphany—and he can’t even call it an epiphany, can he, since it’s come on so slowly—but he’s pretty sure his feelings have nothing to do with Gwaine. “Okay, kind of. I guess I was hoping my skills might have improved.”
His eyes meet Arthur’s, then, and his breath catches. Arthur is watching him with the same expression that he’d had the night of the masquerade, lust and longing and a little bit of something else, and it is the impulse of a moment for Merlin to lean closer—to let his gaze drift to Arthur’s mouth—
He’s intending—he’s not sure what he’s intending, exactly, but he has an excuse ready if Arthur pulls away, a half-formed thought about drunkenness and celebrations and last times for everything. But Arthur doesn’t back off—instead, he matches the movement, catching on in time to meet Merlin’s lips with his. His hands come up to cup Merlin’s face, the beer bottle abandoned somewhere behind him, and Merlin sighs into his mouth, pressing forward into the embrace with impunity until a loud wolf-whistle startles them both apart.
“About bloody time,” Gwaine says from above, sticking his head out the open window. “I hate to interrupt you boys, but Morgana’s here and she wants to talk to you. Something about pressing charges against Morgause?”
“We’ll be right there,” Merlin says, unable to look away from Arthur. “Just—give us a minute.”
“I don't know, I’m not sure a minute will be long enough for what you’re planning.” Gwaine smirks. “Need I remind you that public indecency is frowned upon in our society?”
“Fuck off, Gwaine,” Arthur grumbles, but he’s already helping Merlin to his feet. “We’ll talk later, okay?” he murmurs, squeezing Merlin's arm, and Merlin just has time to nod before Morgana descends upon them, flush with the details of her success.