Title: Clouds and Silverlinings (Chapter 9)
Rating: G (some previous chapters are NC-17/R)
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur Pendragon
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur Pendragon, Uther Pendragon, Morgana
Summary: (Continuation of my Victorian AU WIP) Merlin finally meets Uther and Morgana, of whom he is going to paint a portrait of. Let’s hope Morgana won’t let on to the bigger secret that Merlin and Arthur are hiding
Word Count: 1,179
Prompt: #395 - Crimson
Author's Notes: Sorry for the crappy summary and apologies that this isn’t edited properly. I’ll give it a better edit and lookover tomorrow.
You can find the previous parts of this story on AO3 here.
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8
Merlin did as Arthur bid him and followed, marvelling at all the opulence and wealth around him. He paused completely once or twice to take in a painting or two, completely taken in by the mastery of the work. As Arthur cleared his throat, annoyed, he made a mental note to ask about them at some point during his stay, surely someone would know the name of the painting and the artist whom they were purchased from. He was eager to explore and learn as much as he could from the artistry of this grand home, much like he had been at the Orkney’s home, though there was still much to see there, given the size of the place. The Pendragon manor, was much more of a home by comparison.
Arthur stopped by a set of large wooden doors. He turned towards Merlin.
“Now, not a word to my father about…” He tipped his head to one side and raised his eyebrows suggestively.
“Of course, sir,” Merlin replied.
“And if Morgana, my viper of a sister says anything, just leave me to deal with it. She’s sly and will try to slip you up.”
“I’m sure she’s not that bad…” began Merlin.
“Oh you’ll see,” said Arthur with a grimace. “Ready.”
Merlin shifted uncomfortably and smoothed a hand over his trouser leg, serving both to smooth out a wrinkle and to wipe the sweat from his hand.
“As I’ll ever be.”
Arthur took a deep breath and strode into the room with such pomp and confidence, that Merlin found himself smothering a smile.
He amusement was all but momentary, as he took in the room and his jaw dropped. It was simply the most marvellous, beautiful room he’d ever seen! The walls were hung with crimson velvet and luxourious tapestries. Between the wooden panelling there were delicate, delightful paintings directly on the plaster and the lighting fixtures were all gilded with gold. And just when he thought that he had seen the most breathtaking thing, Merlin looked up at the grand chandelier that hung above them where a golden dragon was swooping down at them from the ceiling, glittering with the light of what Merlin could only imagine were hundreds of candles.
“Merlin, Merlin!” came Arthur’s voice, piercing through Merlin’s stupor. “I’m terribly sorry Father, he’s not normally like this. Merlin, answer me.”
“Sorry,” breathed Merlin. “I was just…” He trailed off and gestured around the room and to the chandelier above. “It’s all so beautiful!”
“Ah, a man of taste, I see,” said a man with greying hair, whom Merlin assumed was Arthur’s father.
“It’s the most incredible room I’ve ever seen!” Merlin said, an idyllic smile curving on his lips.
“The room was commissioned by my grandfather and finished by my father. Now it is entrusted to me. I have made Arthur promise that he will keep the home in the family always, passing it on to his children, and they onto theirs.”
Merlin glanced at Arthur out of the corner of his eye. Not convinced that the younger Pendragon would have any children to whom he would be able to pass the home onto.
“As you should, it is a room fit for a king!”
Uther Pendragon laughed heartily. “I am glad that you think so. Arthur, you picked well. Come, both of you, sit. Mister Emrys, you must be hungry after your journey and settling in. I will introduce myself, since my son seems unable to do it himself. I am Uther Pendragon, and this,” he said, gesturing to the beautiful woman with hair as dark as Merlin’s own, “is my daughter, Morgana.”
“Merlin,” she said, nodding her head at him. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Oh?” replied Merlin. “Only good things, I hope!”
A servant stepped up to the table seamlessly and poured Merlin, and then Arthur a glass of wine.
Morgana smirked at him and lifted her own glass to take a sip of her wine. “Oh yes, lots of good things.”
Merlin had a feeling that it wasn’t his painting that she was referring to.
Arthur cleared his throat. “Father, how did your meeting go with Mr. Lot today?”
Uther Pendragon instantly switched gears into business mode, talking about the import of various spices and oriental gifts that he had agreed to purchase from Mr. Lot whom Merlin assumed must be a merchant of some sort. When Uther was finally finished, food began to be served Morgana took the helm.
“So, Merlin,” she asked. “How did you and Arthur meet?”
Merlin exchanged a look with Arthur who looked half-panicked and half-enraged.
“Morgana!” he hissed across the table.
“No, no. It’s okay,” Merlin insisted, wiping his mouth with a serviette. “We, uh, we met at at Gw—the Earl of Orkney’s house. He engaged me to paint the Countesses portrait as a gift and Arthur had come over for tea. I believe seeing my work, may have been what gave Arthur the idea to gift you with a paint, my lady.”
Uther looked on approvingly.
“That was rather bold of you, Arthur,” said Morgana. “To engage an artist having only seen one piece of their work.”
It then suddenly struck Merlin that Arthur actually hadn’t seen any of his work, what if he hated it? What if he thought Merlin was an awful artist?
“Well,” lied Arthur. “His work was just that good. Also, who am I to doubt the recommendation of the Earl?”
Morgana narrowed her eyes at him.
“You ought to discuss the details with Mr. Emrys, Arthur. Perhaps tonight over drinks in the library,” announced Uther. “I’d like for there to be a portrait of Morgana about the place, my only fear is that Mr. Emrys will not be able to capture her beauty. I hope for your sake he is as good as you say that he is. Best not to dally over such things and to get stuck in. Of course, I would rather like the painting to be in this room. But if you had other ideas, Mr. Emrys, I would be happy to hear them.”
Arthur pushed his food around with his fork and said sulkily, “Perhaps you are the one who ought to meet with Mr. Emrys tonight, Father.”
Morgana let out a peal of laughter. “Oh, Father! I do believe that Arthur is jealous. Do let him decide on the circumstances of the painting, after all, it is his birthday gift to me.”
Smiling benevolently Uther reached over and stroked Morgana’s hand. “You are right, Morgana. Arthur, forgive me. I overstepped in my excitement. You should have full control over which direction you and Mr. Emrys would like to take. I shall leave all the decision-making to you. Now, let me propose a toast. To Morgana!”
Merlin and Arthur both raised their glasses.
“To Morgana,” Merlin said, rather half-heartedly as he started to realise just how much time he was going to have to spend with Arthur over the course of the next month or so.