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: Awkward, sweaty smut. Summary: Modern-day AU - Merlin certainly didn't mean to lose his virginity to his best friend's older sister. It just kind of... happens. A/N: Written for merlin_rarepair 's AU challenge. This is the first three quarters of it - the conclusion is under construction, but don't worry, it's NEARLY done.
Things You Shouldn't Do With Your Best Friend's Older Sister
It’s not that Merlin meant to lose his virginity to his best friend’s older sister. It just kind of happened on its own.
To this day, in fact, he has no idea how it came about.
He knows that, his second week of uni, when Arthur invited him back to his father’s mansion to play video games, Morgana was there, eating sushi in the kitchen, when they came in to find sustenance to keep them going through Halo II. Somehow managing to make glasses, bare feet, a man’s shirt and jogging bottoms look sexy, she’d cast him an evaluating stare as Arthur had waved a hand – Merlin, Morgana – Morgana, Merlin – and Merlin had had the distinct impression she was eyeing him up like a cat eyes up a fresh saucer of cream.
He hadn’t been sure whether to be flattered or terrified.
Not that she’d even said anything to him at the time.
A week later she’d been in tight jeans and a polo-neck, fixing her hair in a hall mirror as he and Arthur headed past her and out the door.
“You look fine, Morgana,” Arthur had rolled his eyes, “Christ.”
Morgana had ignored them, and Merlin had been temporarily transfixed by her legs – before being forced to look away so that he didn’t trip and break his neck on the stairs.
It continued on like that for a few weeks. Merlin came round to play video games with Arthur and Morgana might or might not be there. Once or twice he encountered her on his own – if Arthur sent him off to the kitchen for beer, or if he went to the toilet. He might spot Morgana through an open door, or she might be in the kitchen on her own, sometimes cooking – sometimes at the table with her laptop.
“Here, taste,” she’d dipped a wooden spoon into something on the stove and thrust it in front of his face – he’d obediently
opened his mouth. “Any good?”
“Um…” Merlin floundered – he had no expertise when it came to evaluating the quality of Bolognese sauce, really. “Yeah –
um – yeah, great, fine.”
“Good,” she’d gone back to stirring, dismissing him with the regal wave of one hand.
Merlin had stared at her for a minute longer – then scurried away.
But he doesn’t understand, really, how they went from such brief scraps of interaction to her letting him one afternoon when he’s arrived half an hour earlier than planned, telling him Arthur isn’t back from rugby practice yet, and taking him up to her room.
He lets her because he doesn’t know of any reason why he should object to being taken up to a girl’s room – even if he hardly knows the girl in question.
He’s never seen Morgana’s bedroom before. Blue walls – sanded floorboards – big, four-poster bed; oak writing desk with a laptop and stacks of paper; a wardrobe that looks like he could lie down inside without issue. No posters on the walls but a few framed photos – frozen faces in black a white – people who look like her, and people who don’t. A dream catcher in the window and another hanging from the light fitting.
She closes the door behind them then kisses him – mouth soft and wet.
He doesn’t know how to respond to that, so he just blinks at her, stupidly, until she grins, still close enough for her eyelashes to be grazing his cheek. Then she begins to unbutton her blouse and Merlin’s mind crashes back into touch with his body enough that he manages to beg an explanation for what is clearly a case of temporary insanity on her part.
“Don’t you want to?” She asks, as she peels the blouse of her smooth, milky shoulders.
“What? No – I mean – yes – I mean – ” he stutters, stumbles, feels his tongue turning to led in his dry mouth.
She laughs, pushing him until the backs of his knees come into contact with the edge of her bed and he sits down before he can collapse – she straddles his legs. “So be quiet, then.”
“But – Arthur – ” He manages, between her mouth and her hands tugging up his t-shirt and oh, god, is this actually
“We’ve got time,” she promises, against the plain of his neck. “Relax, Merlin.”
“Easy for you to say,” he mumbles – and she laughs.
It took him six months to get this far with the last girl he was with and he never got past her bra. Suddenly a girl he’s known four weeks and had three monosyllabic conversations with is undressing him?
Apparently yes – because she’s got his belt off and has pressed her hand against where he is already embarrassingly hard.
Should he tell her he’s never had sex before? Is that important? It might be. It’s not like he has any idea what he’s doing – porn is the only thing he has to go by for a guide as to what to do in situations like this and this isn’t like the movies. What if she’s expecting something amazing?
She drags him up the bed, pulls him down on top of her and kisses him and kisses him – pushes his jeans down and holds onto him through his boxers – grin bright and impish.
“Morgana, I’ve never – ” Merlin swallows, blinks, “I’ve never – before – with – ”
Morgana pauses, propping herself up on her elbows, “really?”
Merlin nods, his cheeks flushing. “I don’t know whether – if – maybe you don’t want to – ”
“What? No – oh, Merlin, it’s fine,” she giggles, “it’s fine, honestly.”
“It’s just I – ” Merlin says, “I don’t – really know what… I’m meant to be… um, doing… really.”
Morgana’s grin is wicked but welcoming. She wraps her arms around his shoulders and presses her mouth against his ear. “Then I’ll just have to teach you, wont I?”
The last of their clothes come off without much further hesitation and Merlin shakes and thinks oh god those are Morgana’s breasts and hides his face in her neck because he’s half expecting a slap for looking. She pushes him off a few moments later and fishes in the drawer of her bedside table – retrieves a box of condoms. “You know how to – ”
“Oh – right – yeah,” he nods, sitting up, praying to God that he actually does know how to put one on, because it’s been like
three years since they had this lesson in sex ed. at school and – and –
Pinch the end, roll down…
Despite his shaking hands he manages it, feels a small flush of triumph – Morgana is grinning at him again.
“Now,” she lies back against the pillows and holds out an arm, “you come here and we can just…”
He does, and she kisses him, combing her fingers through his hair and reaching down with her free hand to press his cock up against where she is warm and slick and open.
“Just… push, a little,” she advises, quietly, and he does – thinking oh god, oh god, oh god – it feels like… like just this…
wet, sort of soft and… not as tight as they talk about in pornos but… but still close and really, really good… and…
Okay so, after this bit he has some idea as to what to do because it doesn’t really take a genius to know how to move in and out a bit – he hesitates a moment to make sure and Morgana puts a hand on his hip and murmurs – go on, then, into his ear – so he blushes and does it.
She lets out a warm breath and closes her eyes. “There,” she sounds like she would purr if she could, “that’s not too bad, is it?”
“N-no,” he stammers back, trying desperately to keep his voice from rising to a squeak. She keeps lifting her hips a little to
meet him and that – that feels amazing.
The rest of it is mostly silent but for the occasional sharply hitched in breath or Merlin trying not to moan into her shoulder. The bed creaks a little and somewhere outside a dog barks. There is a sort of wet sound and the shuffle of the sheets beneath them.
After maybe a minute or so Morgana says – There – there! And then Merlin can’t hold himself back anymore and he comes, gasping and shuddering and losing all sensation in his hands and feet as for a moment, the world goes brilliant gold.
He’s left in a breathless, sweaty heap on Morgana’s duvet as she gently pushes him off her and he can’t really find it in himself to move into a more dignified position.
“Alright?” Morgana asks him, after a moment.
“Um…” Merlin doesn’t open his eyes, “yeah – um…”
“Good,” she sounds pleased – and a moment later he feels her hand on his shoulder, giving him a quick, affectionate pat.
God, he feels like a well-behaved puppy…
Carefully, tentatively, Merlin unfolds himself – opens his eyes – sits up – runs a hand through his hair. He realises he still has the condom on, and that it’s leaking now that he’s gone soft again – embarrassed, he slips it off – hides it in the palm of one hand.
Morgana is reclining against her pillows still, pushing thick dark hair out of her eyes. He finds it hard to look at her naked.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Mm? Sure,” she waves a hand.
“Um…” he blinks at her, “how… how come you’ve got a different accent from Arthur and your dad?”
She snorts, then shrugs. “Uther’s my godfather. He adopted me when I was twelve… my parents died…” she waves a hand, “boating accident. I worked hard to keep my accent… didn’t feel like I wanted to lose anything else, you know?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Merlin looks down, a little appalled for her. Arthur has never said anything about Morgana being adopted –
Merlin always just supposed that they had grown up in different places – Morgana with their presumably Irish mother; Arthur with their English father.
“Well that would be my tragic back story,” Morgana smiles, dryly, “what’s yours?”
“Oh – ” Merlin shrugs, horribly aware of how naked they both still are, “I don’t… really have one. Dad left when I was
little. Lived with my mum till I got into university – now my uncle puts me up during term time.” He stops, takes a breath. “Why did you want to…” he waves a hand, as if to encompass the room, themselves and everything that they have just done.
Morgana sits up, and edges over to him on the bed. “I thought you’d be interesting. And you were.” She leans closer and
kisses the place where his shoulder sweeps up into his neck.
He doesn’t have the guts to kiss her back – just turns his head to touch his nose to her hair line for a moment. The air is starting to get cold on his skin. One of his legs is itching.
The crash and thud from downstairs makes them both jump.
“Arthur’s back,” Morgana tells him, unnecessarily. “Go on – get dressed.”
He doesn’t look at her whilst he dresses – fumbling because he’s still holding the condom – and scurries away without saying anything. He flushes the condom down the loo in the bathroom down the hall, then sits on the edge of the bath with the door locked, looking at hard white floor tiles and thinking about her kissing his neck.
There is no expectation, on Merlin’s part, that it will happen again. He has the impression that Morgana had seen him as a temporary amusement – no reason to suppose that she will have any thought of repeating the performance, particularly given that Merlin suspects it was less than spectacular for her. She hadn’t cum, or anything, he doesn’t think – in fact he’d done pitifully little for her throughout the entire event. Stupid, really. He should have thought.
Except that it turns out that thought is difficult to accomplish when a beautiful woman has just made it clear that she wants to have sex with you.
Still, the bottom line is that it wont happen again. And also that he can’t tell anyone about it, which is annoying. Arthur has been mocking him for being a virgin since he found out that Merlin was one – now he’s finally not anymore, and he can’t tell Arthur and shut him up, because Arthur will demand to know who the girl was – and then beat the snot out of him.
For a few days, the incident remains at the forefront of his mind, confusing and uncertain. It leaves Merlin with an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach as he turns over the details late at night and early in the morning. But by the end of the week it has faded a little in significance – swept to the back of his head by more pressing things like essay deadlines and tutorial research. It has happened and now he must move on.
Then, in the middle of the following week, Arthur is held up meeting Merlin at the Pendragon estate, and Morgana is there in the kitchen, reading a book of Sylvia Plath poems. She is wearing the same pair of glasses she was the first time they met, and when smiles at him he starts to feel dizzy.
She asks if he wants to come up to her room, and he does, but he struggles to say it for a moment, thinking about everything – about how stupid this is – about the likelihood of getting caught – about how he should have done some research between times so he’d have more of a clue what he’s meant to do the second time around.
Thankfully, Morgana takes his hand and leads him up the stairs without waiting for him to agree to come with her, and starts to kiss him as soon as the door is closed.
He has to suppose that this time is a bit better than last time. He lasts a bit longer, and his hands don’t shake (quite as much), and Morgana makes more noise. They both do, actually. This time is a bit more… frantic, really. Hasty and fierce. Morgana tugs his hair and scratches his back and kicks against the sheets. When he cums, she kisses him, hard – pushes him over onto his back and pins him to the bed – he feels as if she is claiming him.
This time, she collapses over him, and they are both left to gasp into the stilling air.
Then she tumbles off him and lies on her back, rubbing her eyes and gazing at the canopy over her bed.
“Do you…” Merlin manages, after a moment, “want to go out for… um – coffee – sometime – or… something?”
Morgana snorts, inelegantly, and rolls onto her stomach. “I’m not going to date you, Merlin.”
“Oh,” Merlin is not entirely sure how to take that, “okay.”
Morgana turns an apologetic smile on him from the pillows, “it’s not personal. I just don’t feel the need for conversation, alright? I prefer sex. Which you’re getting better at, by the way.”
Merlin’s ears turn crimson. “Okay,” he mumbles.
She leans over and kisses his neck – his jaw – which he likes. Then she tells him to get dressed, because Arthur will be back soon. So he wriggles back into his clothes (hides the used condom in the palm of his hand again), feeling like a caterpillar clumsily cocooning himself – it’s unnerving that she watches him.
He pauses as he reaches her door. She’s slipped a shirt on over her head and is sitting up, rearranging her pillows.
“Are we…” he blinks, struggles – can’t really find the words for what he wants to ask her, “what are we doing?”
She only tosses her head, smile coy and soft. “Turn up early more often and we’ll find out.”
The next time Arthur invites him round, Merlin arrives an hour ahead of when he’s meant to. Morgana answer’s the door (it’s the butler’s day off), in a denim miniskirt and carpet slippers, hair loose about her shoulders. There is a pause as he stands on the step and they regard each other, and for one sickening moment Merlin thinks that perhaps he’s got this wrong – that she doesn’t want him here – but then her lips twitch up, into the ghost of a smirk, and she slips cool fingers through his and leads him inside.
This time is definitely better – Morgana moves his hands to where she wants them to be and she doesn’t close her eyes while he’s inside her. He gets up to courage to mouth his way down her breasts and she doesn’t shove him off (actually kind of seems to like it).
He has no idea what he’s doing to please her, but he thinks that he must be doing something she enjoys for this to be the third time in as many weeks.
Afterwards, with still a good half an hour to kill before Arthur is likely to turn up, they lie side by side on top of her bed covers, bathed in their own heat. The used condom is leaking into Merlin’s hand; his head is buzzing, faintly.
“It’s ten years since my parents died,” Morgana’s voice abruptly breaks the silence. “Ten years – today.”
“Oh,” Merlin has no idea what to say to that. “I’m… sorry.”
Morgana nods, shortly, not looking at him. Merlin has time to contemplate her profile – the proud arch of her nose and the stubborn set of her jaw. Her breasts, and the salmon-pink nipples and the sweat still soft on her flesh. Her brow has knitted –
she looks upset.
Tentatively, he reaches across to brush the inside of her arm with his finger tips. She casts him a quick, unreadable glance, and then, abruptly, rolls onto her side and folds herself about him like a sheet, one arm draped over his chest, one leg pressed between his own. Merlin lays a hand between her shoulder blades, and finds himself absently toying with her hair. She doesn’t seem to mind.
She says – a moment later – “we used to blow bubbles, on the roof of our house, late at night. My dad and me, I mean. It was just this daft thing – I mean, it wouldn’t really have been late at night, I don’t think – it just felt late because it was dark and I was little. That’s the last thing we did, before they were killed. That’s the last thing I remember. How stupid is that?”
Merlin doesn’t know what to tell her, and for a moment, he thinks she’s crying – but she’s only take a deep breath, and then huddling closer to him.
Later that day, he decides he needs to find out how to make a girl cum. The fact is, he doesn’t think Morgana has (he’s sure he would notice) and he kind of wants to see if he can. Plus, you’re meant to, aren’t you? You’re meant to get the girl to cum – you’re not much good if you can’t…
He has no idea where to start, though. Porn is not in the least bit helpful when it comes to real life situations (and he’s pretty sure he’d just feel stupid doing half of what they do in porn anyway). He knows Arthur would probably be able to advise him, but Arthur can never know about the fact that he’s sleeping with Morgana, so that’s not an option. Beyond that, he has three choices: his uncle Gaius (no), his mother (good god no), and Gwen, who works in his favourite coffee shop and sometimes gives him free lattes because he’s always polite to her.
He met Gwen his first day in the city, actually – the week before Freshers, when he moved in with his uncle. She’s nice and funny and pretty which had been enough to unbalance him a bit around her at first, but they’re good mates these days. Still, it’ll be a bit awkward, asking her for sex tips. Gwen is the kind of person who dispenses tea and sympathy – not advice about how to get a girl off.
She doesn’t like Arthur, either – doesn’t like the way he treats Merlin (or anyone, for that matter). They’ve met a few times, and every time Gwen has got that look about her like she’s just remembered she’s left her front door open or desperately needs to return an overdue library book. Merlin isn’t sure how she’ll take the news that he is sleeping with Arthur’s older sister – that she appears to be using him for sex and that he is fairly intent on keeping such an arrangement in place for as long as possible.
So he opens with: “I… I met a girl.”
“You mean like a girlfriend?” She’s sitting opposite him at his table in the coffee shop. It’s ten in the morning on a week
day so quiet as the grave and they’re the only ones there. She’s officially taking her morning break, her feet propped up on the chair next to his, nibbling a flap jack.
“Well – I don’t…” he waves a hand. Morgana is not his girlfriend, whatever else she is. “Sort of. Um – Gwen – you’ve…
had sex before, haven’t you?”
Gwen gives him a very long, very suspicious look. “Yes.”
“So can I… um…”
“What?” Merlin blinks, “I haven’t even – ”
“I’m not giving you sex tips, and we are not having this conversation.”
“But – ”
“Surely you made friends with Arthur for situations precisely like this?” Gwen folds her arms, exasperated.
“Arthur would make fun of me for not having a clue,” Merlin informs her, honestly.
“Yes – but then he’d give you advice. Which I’m not going to do.”
“Oh – but – Gwen…” “Don’t ‘oh but Gwen’ me!” Gwen’s look over her flapjack is severe, “I’m not going to talk to you about what I do in bed,
Merlin heaves a sigh and then fixes her with his best pleading eyes. Gwen rolls hers.
“I’ve not killed your puppy, Merlin.”
“Please, Gwen – please…”
“Oh, for God’s sake, get a book out of the library or something!”
She gets up and leaves him at the table.
The library does not prove fruitful, however, and the next day he comes back to beg her assistance a second time and, perhaps because the begging is accompanied by a book of his uncle’s that he thought she’d like, or perhaps because it’s later in the day and she’s in a better frame of mind, she acquiests.
“We shall never, ever speak of this conversation once it’s been had,” she warns him, before coming round to his side of the
table in the coffee shop, and cupping his ear to begin to whisper into it.
“I think perhaps I should just out the middle man and sleep with Gwen herself,” Morgana tells Merlin, three days later, once
he’s had the opportunity to put her advice into practice.
She’s flushed and breathing hard still – but her eyes are glittering. The grin she turns on him is pleased and Merlin feels rather smug, though he can’t tell if she’s joking or not about sleeping with Gwen.
“It’s like being stuck between a pair of divorced parents, Gwen and Arthur,” he tells her, by way of distraction. “Or more
like – you know in cartoons, where you’ve got the character and there’s a little devil on one of his shoulders and a little angel on the other? It’s like that. It’s like I’m stuck in the middle whilst they fight for my soul – Arthur trying to corrupt me, Gwen trying to keep me pure.”
Morgana snorts, “given what Gwen taught you to do with your tongue, it doesn’t seem like she’s that concerned about your purity.”
Merlin grins back.
He made her cum tonight – that’s going to be enough to make him feel stupidly self-satisfied for at least a couple of days.
Morgana rolls onto her stomach, wraps an arm around his neck and plants a warm, wet kiss on his mouth. She’s never done that after they’ve finished before – she’ll kiss his neck or his shoulders before she tells him to get dressed – but she leaves his mouth alone once they’re done having sex. He doesn’t really know what it means for her to be breaking one of her own unwritten rules, but he likes it.
Somehow they end up managing to fuck a second time in that one hour. They’re just lying together and she idly starts to play her fingers up and down his cock and suddenly he’s hard and there’s another condom – so why not? But it turns out to be a mistake, because Merlin is exhausted afterwards. He’s been okay before, when they’ve only done it the once and usually there’s time for him to slip into the bathroom and splash his face and take a few deep breaths and maybe run to the kitchen for some coffee. (After the third time, Morgana made it for him). But twice in an hour proves too much – he’s sweaty and his head aches a little and he really just wants to curl up and take a nap. Preferably with Morgana.
But he has to get up and sneak out the back door and come round to the front and pretend to be awake and alert enough to play video games with Arthur.
It doesn’t help that Morgana sidles into the room, looking tousled and sexy, as Merlin is stifling his third yawn. She flashes Merlin a secretive grin and then drops into an armchair across the room, peeling open a magazine and dangling her bare legs over one arm of the chair.
Merlin is temporarily distracted and crashes his Mario cart.
Arthur rolls his eyes, “Christ, Merlin! What’s with you today?”
“What?” Merlin isn’t alert enough to catch this yawn before it blooms and he has to let it go, scrubbing his eyes as he does
so. “I’m… I’m fine…”
“You look like you haven’t slept in days,” Arthur points out, critically. “Seriously – what did you do last night?”
From across the room, Morgana turns a snort of laughter into a coughing fit – Merlin decides it would be a good idea to excuse himself and try to get things together in the bathroom.
____________________________________ ...continued here...
They keep sleeping together, though, over the next couple of weeks. It becomes routine – he will turn up an hour before Arthur is expecting him; Morgana will quietly let him in round the back and they’ll fuck, hard, in her bedroom – on her bed or on the floor or once on her desk. A couple of times she climbs into his lap and wraps her arms around her shoulders to do it – which feels a little odd, though Merlin likes how it feels somehow more intimate than when they’re lying down (even if it’s harder to keep all the right bits in the right places).
At first he feels a bit sort of apprehensive. What if making her cum that one time was a fluke? What if she’s expecting it every time? What if he never gets it quite right again?
But Morgana tells him she likes the way his neck smells, and she likes the feel of his shoulders and she likes the nooks in his collar bones and the way his lips go when he smiles. She says those things and Merlin forgets to be terrified that this will end, that she’s way out of his league, that Arthur is going to beat him to a pulp if he ever finds out – and instead his stomach gets warm and he wants to kiss her. He thinks oh god, I think I’m in love with you – which is insane because all they ever do is fuck. And sometimes they talk about stupid random stuff like the weather or sushi, when they catch each other in the kitchen or the hall; before sex; after.
You can’t fall in love with someone just because you’re sleeping with them, can you?
It must be a chemical thing. He’s sure he’s read about it – how endorphins are released after sex to create a feeling of closeness. Biology forcing you to bond with your partner for the sake of the potential offspring.
Doesn’t mean he’s finding the smell of her hair any less pleasant recently, though.
A few weeks later – after he’s lost count of the number of times they’ve had sex – he’s just finished and is gasping against her chest.
“Did you – ?”
“Mm? Oh – yes,” Morgana pushes her fingers through his hair, letting him rest his check against her
“Thought so,” he allows himself a grin and she laughs.
Her skin is slick and soft – he kisses what he finds beneath his lips and she exhales, softly. “You don’t always have to ask, you know.”
“About whether or not I came. I mean – it’s nice that you do, but you don’t have to,” her fingers find the rim of one of his ears – traces the shell of it.
Curious, now, he levers himself up on his elbows to look at her. “Thought it was kind of important, though.”
Her lips twitch – she slides one hand beneath her head, against the pillows – shrugs. “Well it is. It is and it isn’t. I don’t know. It’s nice but… men are so fixated on the end-game. I think the process can be more important.”
“What do you mean?” Merlin tries not to sound like too much of the insecure five year old he suddenly feels like.
Morgana reaches out, and gently tugs him down next to her on the pillows. “Okay,” she says, settling them both more comfortably amongst the tangle of bed-sheet and duvet, “sex is like a street, yes? A long, long street with… lots of interesting things all down it. And at the end of the street is… a cake shop. And the cake shop is where everybody on the street wants to get to – word of mouth has it that the cake shop is the best cake shop in the world – that there’s nothing like what’s in there anywhere else – and it’s so special, and so important, that everybody’s running down the street trying to get to it. You following me so far?”
“Alright, so… the things is, what nobody’s noticing is that along this street there’s… a festival, and lights, and music, and dancers and… well, once you pause, to take in all of that, and enjoy it, and… experience it… the cake shop… doesn’t seem so important anymore,” she shrugged, and grinned, stroking his cheek. “I mean – don’t get me wrong, you still want to get there. There really is the best cake in the world in that shop. But – you know… at the end of the day, it’s just cake. The street’s where all the interesting stuff is happening.”
“Yeah – but it’s orgasm-cake,” Merlin pointed out, “that’s pretty special cake.”
Morgana’s head tips back as she laughs.
“I just mean,” she giggles, into his hair, “that you don’t need to worry too much about it – when you get too hung up on the orgasm-cake, you miss the party. And I like the party, Merlin – I really like the party.”
“I thought you said we were on a street?”
“Clearly, I should work with fewer metaphors.”
He likes that it’s not difficult to talk to her about stuff. Even if the stuff they talk about is limited to sushi, the weather, and sex.
“Not all girls are going to be so blasé about the cake, though,” she warns him, after a moment, “some girls really need the cake. Remember that.” “Some girls need cake,” he repeats, dutifully.
She laughs again, softly, and kisses his cheek.
“Why do you… I mean… what do you see in me, Morgana?” He asks, when things have been comfortably quiet for a little bit longer.
She raises her eyebrows, “what do you mean?”
Merlin swallows an awkward laugh – glances away from her. (For all he’s sort of used to her nakedness these days, it’s still a bit distracting that her breasts are right there).
“I mean…” his ears go red, “I’m so… and you’re so…”
His train of thought is interrupted by Morgana kissing him. “Perhaps,” she begins, a moment later, “you should let me worry about whether or not I’m out of your league?”
“Who said anything about you being out of my league?”
“That’s what you’re thinking,” Morgana finds his ribs with a finger and delivers a gentle poke. “I like you, Merlin, okay? You’re interesting. And you have nice collar bones. Now stop worrying – if I didn’t want to sleep with you, I wouldn’t be sleeping with you.”
He nods, unconvinced, and she rolls her eyes – but her smile is genuine enough, and her mouth is soft when she kisses him again.
It’s her birthday the following week, and Merlin’s torn. As far as the outside world is concerned, he barely knows Morgana – getting her a present would look really weird. On the other hand… how many times do you have to see someone naked before getting them birthday presents becomes a bit mandatory?
“Gwen,” he asks, two days before Morgana’s birthday when he still hasn’t figured out what to do, “what do you get a girl who’s not your girlfriend but who you’re sleeping with if it’s her birthday?”
Gwen puts down her morning flapjack. “What?”
“I said – ”
“I heard you,” she holds up a hand, “who are you sleeping with, Merlin?”
“Um…” Merlin looks down, “it’s a bit complicated…”
“Simplify it for me,” she folds her arms.
Merlin tugs distractedly at the sleeve of one of his jumpers. “There’s a girl who’s not my girlfriend. I wish she was, but she isn’t. But we have sex quite a lot.”
“Is this the girl you asked about when – you know,” she waves a hand, “that conversation we’re never going to talk about again?”
“Mm,” Merlin nods, attempting nonchalance.
“I see.” Gwen goes back to nibbling her flapjack, “when’s her birthday?”
“The day after tomorrow.”
“And you like her?”
“Yeah – well – if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be sleeping with her,” Merlin shrugs.
Gwen grins, “I don’t think you necessarily have to like someone to get into bed with them. At least, so I’m told.”
“Well, I like this girl.” Merlin tells her, “she’s… she’s great, Gwen, she is – you wouldn’t think we’d have anything in common but we seem to always be able to talk about stuff and… anyway. I feel like I should get her something but… I mean… would it be weird?”
“You want her to be your girlfriend?” Gwen’s head quirks, “then no – it’s not weird. Just don’t get her anything too expensive. If you talk so much get her something… simple but… you know – something that will mean something to her. Show how well you know her.”
“Mm,” Merlin considers – then, abruptly, hits upon a plan. “Okay. Right.”
He’s invited to the party because he’s Arthur’s closest friend. There are a lot of people there and he doesn’t really get to see Morgana anyway. Still, he manages to eventually slip away and up to her bedroom, where he leaves the little clear plastic bottle of soapy liquid on her desk – a note stuck to the top. Happy Birthday, - M.
At half three in the morning, having had a bit too much to drink, he still has it in the back of his mind to look for her – and somehow manages to struggle up three flights of stairs, to the roof.
Morgana is resting her elbows on the low wall designed to keep people from hurling themselves from the chimney tops, blowing bubbles into the clear, cold starry night.
“Hi,” he says, making her jump. Then adds, “happy – happy birthday.”
Her lips twitch. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“Mm,” Merlin agrees.
He manages to walk in a straight line towards her, and catches himself on the wall, because his knees have suddenly decided that now would be a very good time to cease doing their job correctly and give way beneath him.
Morgana ignores him for a moment, blowing another stream of bubbles over the wall.
“Do you like them?” Merlin asks, feeling his tongue go oddly dry, “the – um – the bubbles? I thought you would like them.”
“I like them, Merlin,” Morgana assures him.
“Happy birthday,” Merlin repeats, sincerely – and Morgana laughs.
“You’re an adorable drunk.”
“I’m not drunk!” He taps his chest, emphatically.
“I’m sure you’re not.” “Well,” he hesitates, wondering, vaguely, if she’ll think less of him, “um – I might be a bit drunk. But that’s um… mostly Arthur’s fault. He kept giving me drinks and I couldn’t put any of them down until I’d drunk some!”
“Oh, he gets a lot of people that way.”
“He’s sneaky,” Merlin is sincere, “and I think he fancies Gwen – Gwen. Um – Guinevere. He stares at her breasts a lot. She doesn’t like him.”
“I don’t blame her.”
“Gwen’s the one who taught me to do that thing with my tongue.” “I remember.”
“She’s a good friend.”
“I’m going to sit down now,” he informs her, “because my legs hurt.”
He sits down.
Morgana stays standing, blowing her bubbles. She’s wearing a dress that cuts off just above the knee, leaving a lot of soft, pale calf exposed. He touches it, distractedly – tentatively running his finger tips from her knee to her ankle. It feels nice. He’s always liked her legs.
He likes all of her, actually. He likes every little bit of her and he especially likes the brain part of her – the part that is the bit that makes her all… Morgana-ish.
He likes that bit.
She sits down next to him after a while, tucking her skirt beneath her – he catches a glimpse of her knickers and is too drunk to blush when she kisses his cheek.
“You’re so cute, Merlin.”
“You’re very pretty,” he replies, honestly. Then adds, “do you want to be my girlfriend? I’ll be your boyfriend. I’d be a good one. But I’ve never had a girlfriend before – not properly with… you know – sex.”
She giggles, but she doesn’t say what he’s expecting – which is instantly ‘no’.
She just wraps her arms around him; presses her lips close to his ear. “If you can remember this conversation in the morning, we can go out sometime, okay?”
Merlin nods, feels a grin split his face in two. “I’ll remember,” he promises.
Morgana kisses him – she tastes like wine and chocolate birthday cake. ________________________________________ ___________________
It takes him two days, but he remembers eventually. The conversation comes back to him in a bolt at about three in the morning and he sits up, blinking, thinking – did she – did she actually – ?
He goes over to the Pendragon mansion the next day, when he knows Arthur will be at rugby practice, with his hair combed and his new favourite jacket on.
Morgana answers the door in her pyjamas, looking bemused. “What are you doing here?”
He’s feeling cocky, so he grins up at her from the front step. “You said you’d go out with me.”
There’s a pause, as she contemplates him, and her lips twitch, and he can’t tell if she looks… sort of pleased?
“What, now?” She asks.
He shrugs, “if you want.”
“Um…” he considers, “where do you want to go?”
She hovers, thinking – her eyes soften; she bites her lip. “Hang on a second.”
It takes her ten minutes to reappear, fully dressed, purse tucked under one arm – she grabs his elbow as she sweeps past him. “Come on then. I know a place.”
They walk. It’s a sunny late morning, cool and breezy, the pavements still glittering frost. Morgana’s hair is loose and full of kinks and curls because she hasn’t had time to take the straighteners to it like she normally does. She swings her purse from her fingertips and tips her head up, gazing at the clear blue sky.
Merlin stares at her – doesn’t think he’s ever seen her outside by daylight before. Not this close, anyway.
“Where are we going?”
She shrugs, and grins, “you’ll see.”
“How am I meant to be taking you out if I don’t know where we’re going?”
Morgana laughs, “you’re not taking me out. We’re going out together. You initiated, I picked the place. And we’re splitting the bill. So.”
“Okay,” Merlin says, relieved that he’s only going to have to spend as much as he wants to.
“So,” she begins again, “how’s life at university treating you?”
They have a terrifyingly normal conversation about his subjects, his grades, his next essay deadlines. He’s in first year, she’s newly graduated, still picking haphazardly at her options.
“The only things I really like to do are men and reading,” she says, “and somehow I don’t think Uther would approve of me becoming a prostitute who works out of the library, do you?”
“No,” he agrees, soberly, “probably not.”
Turns out, she’s leading him to a sushi bar. He’s never had sushi before.
“It’s kind of greedy, you know,” he tells her, when they’re sat at the back and she’s eyeing their food with an experienced air, “you’re taking all of my virginities for yourself.”
“You have a sushi-hymen for me to pop?” She lifts her eyebrows, feigning genuine confusion, and he laughs – which she promptly uses as an opportunity to thrust a salmon roll between his lips.
It tastes… odd. Not fishy, though. Different. Sort of clean – clear – sharp. He doesn’t know. Not bad though.
“Done,” she informs him, with a grin. “Quick and painless, Merlin. Do you like it?”
“Mmph,” is all Merlin can manage, around rice and fish and something he suspects is seaweed.
She giggles, and delicately picks up another smaller round of rice with something bright pressed into its centre, like a jewel – he can’t tell whether it’s more fish or just a vegetable.
Some of it he can’t stomach – but most of it he can. Morgana is patient with him, picking out what she thinks he’ll like and telling him what’s in each piece.
“My mother liked sushi,” she tells him, “I always thought it looked so pretty but I never liked any of it. Then when she died I sort of made myself eat it, so I could be like her. I made myself do it so much I got to like it.”
He nods. “My dad,” he begins, abruptly, “met my mum in a chip shop. He worked there. He used to give her free chip butties. That’s all she ever really tells me about him. How weird is that?” He adds, after a moment, “I don’t like chip butties.”
Her lips twitch. “Parents.”
“Yeah, I know.”
They end up talking a lot about their respective childhoods. Morgana’s memories are fond but smeared by the tragic stain of her parents’ demise; Merlin’s are convoluted – he loves his quiet home life with his mother and he loves the village he grew up with, but he hates how every other young person there made his life so difficult. He appreciates the education he received via scholarship at an exclusive boarding school, but he hates that he was derided there as an impoverished country bumpkin; and he hates that upon returning home he was promptly upgraded from simply weird to posh, up himself and weird.
Morgana is sympathetic.
“No one ever knew what to make of me at school, either,” she tells him, “I overdosed on the black eyeliner and nail polish a bit back in the day, which was enough to get me labelled… oh, anything from a slut to some kind of demon-summoner…”
“Bet they left you alone, though,” Merlin says, and she shrugs, noncommittally.
Merlin can’t imagine Morgana being picked on. She’s such a power-house of confidence and self-belief – and she’s pretty and charming and smart, all of which qualities he suspects would have preserved him at least a little in school. But maybe that was part of the problem – pretty, charming and smart can too easily be misconstrued as slutty, sluttier and bitchy, particularly in someone who likely kept herself to herself unless she had some ulterior motive to socialise.
“University’s so much better than school, though,” she tells him, a moment later, “you’ll be fine.”
“I’m already fine,” he tells her, “I’m on a lunch date with a graduate.”
She throws her head when she laughs.
They wonder back to the Pendragon estate after they’ve finished eating – she slips her arm into his as they walk.
“Um…” he checks his watch when they get to the house, “it’s Friday… Arthur’s not going to be back from rugby practice for an hour, is he?”
Morgana shrugs, innocently.
“Um – so we could – I mean, if you want – ” Merlin abruptly realises that he’s never actually initiated the sex before. He either turns up at times when she knows to expect him or she grabs him at an opportune moment whilst he’s meant to be hanging out with Arthur.
“What?” Morgana puts her hands on her hips and arches her brows, “sex? On a first date? What kind of a girl do you think I am, Merlin?”
He’s momentarily confused by her mock-outrage until he catches the sparkle in her eyes and realises that she’s teasing him. He smiles, sheepishly.
“Only… only if you want…”
“Uther’s around,” she waves a hand, “it’s probably not a good idea today.”
“Oh – right.” He realises he sounds extremely disappointed. He is disappointed. He likes having sex with her.
Morgana’s expression momentarily softens. She stands on tip-toes to kiss his cheek – her hair smells different today; she must have changed shampoo brands. “I had a good time, Merlin. We should do this again, okay?”
“We’re not replacing sex with lunch dates, are we?”
She snorts, “not likely. When’s the next time you’re going to be round?”
“Oh um… tomorrow, probably – Arthur says he got something new…”
“Bring condoms,” Morgana advises, “I’m out of them.”
“Ah – yeah, sure.” He’s a mature young man in a sexual relationship – he can buy condoms without experiencing excruciating embarrassment. Of course he can.
“See you tomorrow, Merlin,” she giggles, and disappears inside the house.
The promise of sex (and the knowledge that Morgana is definitely the kind of woman who has her head screwed on firmly enough that she’ll refuse him if they don’t have protection) is enough to chivvy him to the chemist’s that evening though. Still, on finding the right section of the shop, he’s confronted by a bewildering array of brands and sizes and… and… extra things (what the hell are ribs when they’re in latex and why does a condom have them?!)
Okay, now he’s very, very tempted to call Arthur for help. Condoms don’t necessarily mean that he’s having sex – just that he’s preparing for it. Arthur will laugh at him for being clueless but he might actually be of some use.
He calls Gwen.
Gwen at least has the decency to cover the phone whilst she laughs at him, which he appreciates.
“Oh God, Merlin…” she sighs, after she’s regained some composure, “okay – look, just get the normal kind – no… you know, extras. There should be like a Boots own brand – they’re fairly reliable and
should be cheap, okay?”
“Yeah but… they come in sizes….”
“Well – how do you – you know – tell…”
“I don’t know, Merlin! I don’t have male genitalia!”
She has to break off to laugh again. Once she stops, she says, “haven’t you been sleeping with this girl for a while now? How come you still don’t know about this stuff?”
“Well Morgana always had condoms!” Merlin snaps, flustered, because an old lady is in the process of hobbling by and is giving him a very strange look.
There was a pause, as he realises what he’s said.
“…Morgana?” Gwen’s voice wavers, “…as in Pendragon? Isn’t she Arthur’s older sister?”
“Uh…” Merlin flounders.
“Is that who you’ve been sleeping with all this time?” Gwen sounds incredulous, “Morgana Pendragon? Tall, gorgeous, gothic – looks like a vampire had sex with Keira Knightly? That Morgana?”
Merlin is ever so slightly peeved by her tone, “is that so hard to believe?”
“Oh! No! I didn’t – I mean – I – just… Morgana Pendragon?”
“Yes,” Merlin retorts, “Morgana Pendragon. Look, you can’t tell anyone, okay, Gwen?”
“Who am I going to tell?” She sounds exasperated. There’s a pause, a soft exhalation of breath, “this is the girl you got all worked up over birthday presents for?”
“You got her something though?”
“It’s a thing.”
He can hear her scrunching up her face on the other end of the line – doing something very Gwen-ish with her nose and her nervous hands. “So what happened? You just… started sleeping together one day?”
“Wow.” She considers, “sounds like a porno.”
He has to laugh. “It’s… it’s complicated, Gwen. But she’s nice. She’s really… really nice. I like her.” “That’s nice,” she pauses, “does Arthur know?”
“You don’t want to tell him?”
“He’d kill me,” Merlin tentatively takes down a box of condoms and wonders how an earth they can be ‘strawberry flavoured’. How do you flavour latex? “They act like they want to kill each other half the time but Arthur’s really protective of Morgana, Gwen, seriously. She told me – a couple of girls gave her trouble one year at school and Arthur went after them with a shovel. He’s decked pretty much every one of her boyfriends.”
“That’s a bit…” he can hear the hesitation in Gwen’s voice, “…old fashioned…”
“In his own weird way, he loves her,” Merlin replies, “I really don’t think he’d be keen on the idea of me and her shagging.”
“No… I can see that…”
“Are glow in the dark condoms genuinely useful or is it just a gimmick?”
He arrives late at the Pendragon estate the next day – which means that he arrives on time to meet Arthur, which means there’s no time to have sex with Morgana. He catches her pouting at him from the hallway when he arrives, and immediately has to tactically position his rucksack to hide his burgeoning erection.
An hour later he goes to find the toilet only to have Morgana yank him into a broom cupboard.
“Please god tell me you remembered the condoms.”
“Um – yeah.” He manages, through a mouthful of her hair – the cupboard is cramped.
“Fantastic,” she sighs.
There’s a fumbling – then a bare bulb clicks into illumination above their heads, and Morgana calmly locks the broom cupboard door behind them. Then she frowns at him. “Why were you late? You’re never late.”
“Slept in,” he smiles, sheepishly.
“Students,” she rolls her eyes, but then she kisses him, so he suspects that he’s forgiven.
They fuck, semi-clothed and silent, against what little wall-space is not obscured by shelves, a mop, a ladder and three buckets. For hasty, messy, sweaty sex that has to be almost entirely mute, it’s surprisingly good. Not that it’s ever bad but… but Morgana kisses him and kisses him until he’s sure she must be bruising his mouth, and she’s hot and raw and gasping. She hisses – god – fuck – please – Christ – yes – there, there – there, Merlin! As he presses hard against her clit with his fingers, and she cums whilst he’s still inside her, surprisingly not very close to cuming himself yet.
She mouths his collar bones and the crook of his neck, breathes – “Oh God, Merlin…” stroking her fingers through his hair and nestling against him until he reaches his climax, a few minutes later.
She kisses his mouth afterwards – she is warm, and hard and damp against him, and he thinks I really am in love with you. For a moment, they are pressed together, foreheads touching – he twists his fingers through hers and doesn’t want to move or think about the world outside the broom cupboard.
She is grinning into his gasping mouth.
“I really like you, Merlin.” “Good,” he says, “that’s um… that’s good.”
“What are you doing on Monday?”
“…couple of lectures, why?”
“Free in the evening, though?”
“I think so…” “We should go out somewhere.”
He blinks, grins, “where?”
“Don’t know. You pick. I picked last time – it’s only fair.”
Then, abruptly, there is Arthur’s voice in the hall – loudly demanding to know where the hell he’s got to, so they scramble to get dressed and straighten their hair and Merlin guiltily thrusts the condom (not glow in the dark, nor ribbed, nor strawberry flavoured, for all he was tempted to satisfy his curiosity) behind a used paint can before slipping out of the cupboard ahead of Morgana.
Merlin picks his uncle’s house.
Gaius has gone away for a couple of days to some medical conference in Wales so they have the place to themselves, and somehow Merlin wants to see her there, in the surroundings with which he’s most familiar. He has this urge to see her out of the extravagant grandeur of chrome kitchen fittings and white marble floors that characterise the Pendragon mansion, and in amongst his uncle’s homely chaos, stacked high on every surface in the living room. He wants to see Morgana amongst the guddle of cooking implements in the kitchen – the recipe books, the dying plants and seashells on the window sill, the fridge and stove and cupboards that were all installed in the 1960s and are somehow still working.
He cooks, and she makes room for herself on the counter, perches on its edge, next to the old, deep stone sink, and watches him. She fiddles with a little plastic toy soldier on one of the shelves and she touches the collection of marbles and pebbles and semi-precious stones piled up next to it.
In her expensive jeans and designer glasses she looks completely alien to this place, which screams muddy wellies, old dogs and duffle coats. But she doesn’t seem unhappy, either. Just curious.
He’s making macaroni cheese – the kind his mother used to make him when he was little – and they take it up to his room to eat; sit on the floor on a blanket, with candles and cheap wine.
“You’re a good cook, Merlin,” she tells him.
“Thanks.” He’s watching the way she’s looking about her.
He has the entire bit under the roof to himself – a great long attic room, with his bed at one end, and a sofa, an old black and white TV, book shelves and a coffee table at the other. There’s also a rickety old desk, with the second hand laptop he got off ebay, some broken pens, dog-eared textbooks and a dusty chess set.
He likes it – his bedroom back home wasn’t much more than a cupboard compared to this and at school he shared a dormitory half this size with six other boys. But he’s also painfully aware of how meagre it is by the standards Morgana is used to.
“It’s a nice place, Merlin,” she seems to sense his anxiety. “It’s very… you. And it’s comfortable. Feels like it’s been lived in.”
“Mostly because it has been,” Merlin points out, “Gaius grew up here. This was my great grandparents’ house.” “Uther built the mansion up himself,” Morgana replies, “the Pendragons are an old family but they lost all their money a couple of generations back. Once he’d made his millions he spent them buying back their old lands and building the house he imagines they would have had. But I don’t know… it feels kind of sterile sometimes. Empty. I mean, three people living in a ten bedroom, three story mansion? Even with the butler and the cook and the cleaning ladies the place is never exactly lively.”
“No, I can… see that,” Merlin agrees. He’s never been in half the place anyway – just the games room and the kitchen, one of the bathrooms, the big function room where Morgana’s birthday party was based, and of course Morgana’s bedroom.
“My parents had a place that was more like this,” Morgana tells him, leaning back on her hands, “I
mean… there was less stuff… and it was probably a little bit bigger but… it was just a normal sort of house, you know? We had a huge garden though – there was a pond with fish, and I’d named them all.” A quick, odd little smile struggles to assert itself on her lips, “when Uther first took guardianship of me I thought we’d be living in my house. That him and Arthur would just come and stay with me and I thought it would be like when they came to visit on holidays, except without my parents, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, you know? They, um… they had to explain to me that I was going to have to move – not just… out of my house but… out of the country, to England . I really hated Uther for a while, for making me. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just have stayed in Ireland . I was convinced, for a long time, that as soon as I turned eighteen I was going to go back and move into my old house again. Took me ages to realise that it would have been sold – that someone else lives there now. Silly, really.” “It’s not silly,” Merlin replies, earnestly. He’s a little bit heart-broken for poor, grieving, twelve year old Morgana, who so abruptly lost everything she’d ever known. He wants to reach back through the years and hold onto her – promise her she’ll come out alright, in the end.
Morgana’s lips twitch – she shakes her head. “Sorry. I’m bringing the mood down a little here.” “No – it’s fine,” Merlin shakes his head, “I’ve had much more depressing dates, trust me. The first one I ever went on, I was so nervous that I was sick all over the restaurant table.” “Oh, Merlin…”
“I was an anxious sixteen year old.”
They finish the meal, and lie on their backs on the floor, looking up at his sloping ceilings, which are covered in glowing stars.
“Gaius put them there,” Merlin tells Morgana, as he talks her through the various constellations, “when I was little, when he used to come and visit me and my mum, I went through this phase where I was really into, you know… space, the planets, all of that. Every time he came out to see us he’d bring me another book about stars or something – he taught me how to recognise the planets in the night sky. The first time I came to stay here on my own, when I was… I dunno, maybe ten, he put the stars on the ceiling, so I’d feel more at home.”
“That’s so nice.”
“Yeah, yeah it was.” He rubs his eyes, thinking back. Morgana curls gentle fingers around his wrist and squeezes.
“Your bed is too small,” she complains, later, when they’re curled up in it together – still fully clothed, on top of the duvet. The room is dark aside from the candles, which are still burning in their holders on the floor.
“Well we can’t all have four-posters, Morgana.”
She giggles, and kisses him.
They are half way through undressing each other – oh, so you’re a ‘sex on the second date’ kind of girl, then? – when they hear the front door of the house slam.
Merlin bolts upright, listening intently.
“Thought you said your uncle was away?” Morgana asks, softly – she is lying back beneath him, propped up on he elbows. The soft curve of her bare shoulders in the candle light is distracting.
“He’s meant to be!” Merlin replies, “he must have come back early – hang on.”
He slides off the bed in his bare feet and pads over to the stairs that are the entrance to his room. There’s a door a the bottom of the stairs, which he has left ajar – craning his neck allows him to see out onto the landing, and into the hall below. Gaius – and, he realises, with a horrifying lurch, his mother – are beneath him, shrugging off their coats and talking about the bad quality of the roads in their area.
“Oh, he must be in,” Gaius is saying, “there’s his coat all crumpled up as usual – and what has he done to the kitchen? Merlin!”
Behind him, Merlin can hear Morgana spluttering laughter at the ridiculous nature of their predicament.
“Merlin, are you up there?” Gaius demands, as Merlin beats a hasty retreat out of sight, “come down – I brought your mother back for a visit.”
“Um…” Merlin raises his voice loud enough to be heard as he frantically yanks on his shirt – Morgana throws his jeans at him from across the room. She looks as if she’s enjoying this just a tiny bit too much. “I’ll – I’ll be just a minute – ”
“Hurry up, will you? It’s late – and what have you done to my kitchen? It’s a mess, Merlin.”
“Stay here,” Merlin scurries back to Morgana, “Gaius always goes to bed at eleven, mum wont stay up much later – you can leave after that.”
“I’m glad you’re so proud of the fact that you’re sleeping with me, Merlin,” Morgana retorts, coolly.
Merlin flushes, “I’m not – it’s just – Gaius has this rule about – look, please don’t take this the wrong way – Ireally like you but Gaius is… scary when he’s angry. And also my mother must never know that I have had sex. She’s Catholic. It’s… complicated.”
Morgana snorts, rolls her eyes, but nods, waving him away.
Merlin tumbles downstairs and into the kitchen a minute or so later, doing his best to look pleased rather than terrified. “Mum!”
“Sweetheart,” she – her name is Hunith – sweeps him up, “oh, my god – what is Gaius feeding you?
You’ve got even skinnier!”
“I do try to make him eat, Hunith, but he runs around so much…” Gaius waves a hand, from where he’s poking about the dishes in the sink, “Merlin, what have you been doing in here?” “Oh – I – um – made some macaroni cheese,” Merlin replies.
“Macaroni – how much did you make, exactly?” Gaius waves a pot, as if the very idea of macaroni cheese offends him, “and would it have killed you to clean up a little?”
“I was… um… making some for… later…” Merlin offers, a little lamely.
Gaius flashes him a deeply sceptical look, “well you can tidy this mess up before you go to bed and no mistake.”
“Whose coat is that?” Hunith asks, abruptly.
And Merlin balks, because there’s Morgana’s expensive designer denim jacket over the back of one of the chairs – quite obviously a girl’s, quite obviously out of place.
“Oh – I – um…” Merlin’s head promptly goes completely blank.
“Have you had someone over?” Gaius glares at him, “you know how I feel about large gatherings of today’s youth on my property, Merlin.”
“It wasn’t – a – a large gathering – it was just – ”
“Me,” Morgana suddenly appears in the door way, “it was just me. Merlin made me dinner. But I was about to go anyway.”
She looks, bless her, absolutely immaculate. Not one hair out of place, not one piece of clothing wrinkled, not a single thing to suggest that Merlin had his hands down her knickers barely ten minutes previously.
“Oh,” Hunith stands up. She looks… pleased? “oh, well, aren’t you lovely? And you weren’t going to introduce us to your… um – your friend, Merlin?”
“Um…” Merlin glances from his mother to Morgana and back again. He can feel his ears beginning to burn – is aware that he’s blushing like a fool. “Mum, this is Morgana. Morgana – my mum. And my great uncle, Gaius.”
“Nice to meet you both,” Morgana’s smile is brilliantly warm and fiendishly innocent. Merlin catches the mischievous glint in her eye but suspects that neither his uncle nor his mother will know her well enough to see it themselves.
“Very nice,” Hunith agrees. She still seems bizarrely enthused by the entire scenario, “and how long have you two… known each other?”
“A few months,” Morgana replies, “Merlin’s very sweet to me.”
“But of course he is!” Hunith cries, “I raised a gentleman, didn’t I, Merlin?”
“Mum…” Merlin suspects that if his face gets any hotter his eyes are going to melt.
“But don’t feel you have to go on our account!” Hunith adds, ignoring her son, “please – come in – Gaius was about to make some tea – ”
“I have to be up early tomorrow,” Morgana interrupts her, her tone finely balanced between an apology and a refusal, “I really was about to leave. But it’s nice to meet you.” “And you dear, and you,” Hunith agrees.
“I’ll – I’ll walk you to your car,” Merlin hurries past his mother to follow Morgana out.
Morgana giggles into his shoulder once they’ve closed the front door. “Sorry.”
“No – no – it’s… fine…”
“Your face…” she leans against him for a moment, “oh, Merlin, you’re mum’s lovely.”
“She did take that alarmingly well,” Merlin frowns for a moment. “I hope Gaius hasn’t been slipping her anti-depressants again. He does that sometimes – it doesn’t seem right…”
“…your family may be a bit weirder than mine,” Morgana informs him, as they begin to walk to her car. “Which is saying something, considering.”
She pulls him closer and kisses him before getting in – she tastes like cheap wine and smells like the sex they didn’t quite get to have.
“You’re coming round tomorrow, yeah?”
“Be early.” “Obviously.”
She flashes him a brilliant smile as she drives past and Merlin feels something odd happen to his stomach. He stays on the side of the pavement for a moment, grinning after her car. And then he realises that in all likelihood his mother and Gaius can see him from the kitchen window and decides to go back inside.
It turns out, she’s left her digital camera behind in his room – when he goes up after enduring an hour of questioning from his still oddly-enthused mother and deeply suspicious uncle. She’s stuck a post-it not to the screen:
Turn me on.
A little smiley face next to her distinctive cursive. Merlin senses some typically Morgana-ish mischief afoot, and sits down on the edge of the bed to do as instructed.
The camera is set to display previously taken images as soon as it powers up – and it takes Merlin a moment to realise that what she’s done is leave photos of her semi-clothed self on the memory card. In the five minutes or so between him leaving her in his bedroom and her joining him in the kitchen, she’s photographed every inch of her exposed flesh – her breasts, her abdomen, her parted thighs and what’s between them…
The shots are all a little shadowy, one or two a bit blurred – though that somehow adds to the tantalising, secretive, intimate nature of them. You’d never find something like this on a porn site – nothing false or plastic or photoshoped about them. This is Morgana, showing him her body, just for him, just for her. It should be vulgar, except that it’s… really not. It’s hot – but it’s also kind of beautiful.
He licks his lips, then slides to down to lie on the bed in the position she must have been in to take these photos – in her place, recognising (or perhaps only imagining) faint traces of her perfume still on his bed-sheets. She’s so… she’s just so… he touches a tentative finger tip to the screen of the camera, tracing the outline of her shape with a nail.
“You are the best thing that has ever, ever happened to me,” he tells her picture – and then, embarrassed, he quickly turns the camera off. ________________________________________ _______________
New year approaches. Of course there’s going to be a party on the Pendragon estate and both Arthur and Morgana invite him.
“I want someone there I’d actually like to kiss at midnight,” Morgana tells him, and his stomach turns over and he finds himself grinning
like an idiot.
“Bring Gwen,” Arthur tells him, separately, “what’s she like when she’s drunk, by the way?”
“I’ve never seen her have more than a glass of wine with a meal,” Merlin replies, coolly, “plus, she’d still slap you sideways if you tried
anything. She doesn’t like you, Arthur.”
“She doesn’t know me!”
“You spent all four of your conversations staring at her breasts!” Merlin points out, a little exasperated, “how do you think most women
are going to react to that kind of treatment?”
“I didn’t spend all of our conversations – ”
“Yes, you did!”
“Oh… fuck off. You’re a virgin, you can’t talk.”
And Merlin bites his tongue.
He’s actually spending more time snogging Morgana than shagging her at the moment anyway. They keep going out, where it’s kind of hard to fuck, though it’s perfectly acceptable for her to pull him across the table in their favourite sushi place to shove her tongue down his throat. Actually they have a few places where they like to go and make out. It’s fun. He never would have guessed how much fun it would be.
In spite of herself, Morgana seems to have gained an interest in conversation after all. Just before Christmas, she gave him her email address, and now they talk all the time. All the time. Even when they’re not emailing back and forth, the knowledge that she’ll answer inside ten minutes if he sends her a note is enough to make him feel like he’s never really alone anymore. And what really seems strange is that he likes it.
Merlin is very used to solitude. He’s never had more than a few close friends at a time – a childhood of alienation from his peers means that he has learned to like his own company. But now he likes Morgana’s company even more.
It’s so weird, how easy this has become. He can’t believe he was ever nervous about having sex with her. He’s still terrified that it will end, but every time Morgana traces his collar bone with a finger, or wraps her arms around his neck, or smirks into his shoulder, the possibility becomes more remote.
Stealing away from Arthur to shag is becoming more difficult because it’s becoming increasingly distracting. He doesn’t want to leave afterwards – they get into these long, rambling conversations. It’s getting harder to keep things under wraps, as well, because touching her is becoming reflexive. More than once he’s caught himself reaching for her automatically despite Arthur being in the same room.
Fortunately, Arthur Pendragon is rarely as observant as he would like to believe that he is, and doesn’t seem to have noticed.
“Why haven’t you just told him?” Gwen asks, as they make their way up the drive of the Pendragon estate, on new year’s eve, “I mean,
you’re not really just sleeping together any more, are you? Like it or not, shagging with good conversation is essentially a relationship. Is Arthur really going to react that badly to you being her boyfriend?”
“Morgana doesn’t want to tell him,” Merlin replies, listlessly. “She doesn’t want to tell anyone.”
“She…” she’s terrified of the idea that what she has with Merlin might be real – she’s terrified that she’s going to end up alone like
Uther, like she’s been since her parents died – “she just has it in her head that she doesn’t really do relationships.”
“What exactly does she think she’s doing with you?”
“I’m not going to push her,” Merlin replies, “I’m fine with not telling Arthur. I’m fine with not telling anyone. Whatever she needs to feel
comfortable – I like her, Gwen. I want her to feel secure.”
“You’re too nice for your own good, Merlin,” Gwen eyes him critically for a moment, “she ought to be proud she’s got you. You’re not
something to be ashamed of.”
“She’s not ashamed – ”
“Well she’s acting like she is.” Gwen is being uncharacteristically snappish – Merlin gazes at her for a moment, wide-eyed. But it might
just be the prospect of being in close proximity to Arthur. She doesn’t like him, after all.
They reach the mansion’s front door – there’s a couple of bouncers on it, which Merlin finds unsurprising, for, judging by the lights and the noise coming from inside, for once, the great Pendragon mansion is at full capacity and in all likelihood there will be gatecrashers trying to get in.
“You Merlin?” The bouncer asks and Merlin nods – he recognises him. One of the Pendragon’s gardeners.
“In you go, then,” the man waves them inside and thankfully Arthur’s just there in the hall, chatting up some blonde whom he
immediately abandons when he sees Merlin and Gwen.
“Ah!” He grins at them – looks already as if he might have had a bit too much to drink, “Merlin, my good man – and Guinevere.”
“Gwen,” Gwen corrects, firmly.
“Guinevere!” Arthur enthuses, undeterred, “come in, the pair of you! Coats over here and go and find something to drink, we’ve got so
much booze we’ll probably drown in it so we kind of need some more help on that front – this way!”
Merlin catches only the vaguest glimpse of Morgana – sees her flash him a grin from across the main room, but she makes no attempt to reach him. Arthur throws an arm around his shoulder and drags him over to a horde of girls he’s never met before.
“Merlin,” he informs him, earnestly, “I believe it my duty as your friend to get you laid before midnight – you can ring in the new year as
a true man. Think of it as a late Christmas present.”
“Um…” Merlin manages, a little awkwardly. He sees Gwen cast him a significant look before she disappears into the crowd in the general
direction of the drinks cabinet.
He spends the next excruciating two hours desperately fending off all three of the women that Arthur thrusts him at. Finally, Gwen comes to his rescue by grabbing Arthur’s arm and telling him that they’re out of diet coke and why don’t they go and look for some?
Merlin hastily turns to hapless, half-drunk girl number three, apologetically informs her that he sort of has a girlfriend, and scurries away.
He discovers Morgana on the veranda outside the main room, blowing bubbles.
It’s a breezy night and threatening rain so nobody else is mad enough to be out here, despite the fact that it’s approaching midnight and there’s meant to be fireworks. Morgana looks about as morose as it’s possible to be whilst blowing bubbles (the same bottle he gave her for her birthday, he realises).
“Hi,” he says, and she starts – then smiles at him, genuinely warm.
“You alright?” He asks, “it’s kind of cold out here.”
She shrugs, “I just wanted some air. Large parties, small spaces, loud noises…” she shakes her head.
“Kind of draining,” Merlin agrees.
They exchange quick, knowing grins and then Merlin sidles over to her. There is a long, companionable silence as they stand side by side with the light from the house at their backs, watching Morgana’s bubbles drifting out into the dark. Merlin’s watch bleeps – fifteen minutes until midnight.
“You know what I would rather be doing right now?” Morgana asks, abruptly.
Merlin shrugs, innocently. “I could… take a wild guess.” Morgana carefully screws on the top of her bottle of bubble liquid, pockets it and then reaches across the gap between them to gently tangle their fingers together.
She leads him back into the main room, through the crowd, past revellers and drunk students and snogging couples and past the kitchen where Merlin is fairly certain that he just spotted Gwen and Arthur going at it on the table, and up the stairs, and down the hall, and into Morgana’s bedroom.
There doesn’t really feel as if there can be anything better than kissing and undressing Morgana Pendragon in those last fifteen minutes of the year. She pushes him onto her bed, straddles his lap in her underwear and presses her open mouth to his, stealing away his breath as he tangles one hand in her hair in a way he wouldn’t have dared to a few weeks previously. He is drinking her in – as if he is a man gasping in the desert and she is the last thing between him and death. She’s clinging to him too, he realises, a moment later – one arm about his shoulders, one hand cupping his face.
It’s like a sharp punch to the gut, this sudden rush of desire. Not the shock of the first time, nor the trepidation of the second (or forth, or fifth) but the sheer force of need is enough to make Merlin a little giddy. Morgana is gazing at him, her breath still short, dipping her head to allow her nose to touch his.
She doesn’t say a word and Merlin can’t find any of his own. He knows he’ll feel like an idiot if he tries to talk anyway – what would he say? Everything he feels he should say sounds far too much like every Hollywood romance he’s ever seen – I need you, I love you, I missed you, I didn’t know how much I missed you –
I know who you are, he wants to say. I know who you are and I like it and I hope you like me.
But in that moment there’s a sudden eruption from outside, and a chorus of voices all raised up at once, and his watch bleeps. Midnight.
Merlin swallows. “Happy new year, Morgana.”
“Happy new year, Merlin.” She strokes his jaw for a moment – dips, leans down and kisses him.
He kisses her back, enjoying the moment of closeness and connection. When it’s over he feels even more as if he should say something, but he has no idea what. They’re left regarding each other again – breathing each other in.
“Morgana – ” he manages, and then stops, helpless.
“Lie down,” Morgana suggests, softly, and he does, as she deftly peals off her bra and lace knickers.
He traces a pattern on her thigh as he watches her – looks at the fall of her hair and the flutter of her eyelashes. “You’re so beautiful,” he tells her, and then flushes, because it sounds stupid, even if it’s true.
But she smiles – he thinks – he thinks – she’s blushing. It makes him feel odd. He’s known for a while that for all Morgana is effortlessly glamorous and endlessly sophisticated, deep down she doesn’t feel like a particularly attractive person. Her past is too ugly, her world too convoluted – she feels like that rotten, gawkish, grieving twelve year old, still. The designer wardrobe and the black eyeliner is a disguise she hopes will keep the outside world from recognising her awkward, angry little self.
“You are beautiful though,” he insists, as she lies down next to him – he rolls onto his side to wrap her up in himself, folds one arm
about her waist, carefully strokes the hair back off her face.
“I don’t need to be told, Merlin,” she nestles closer against him.
“Doesn’t mean you don’t want to be told, occasionally.”
She smiles, “oh, so you’re just flattering me, now?”
“I’m being honest – in a way that you’ll appreciate.”
She snorts, “think of something else to be honest about.”
“You’re honest. And you’re intelligent. And I like your nose.”
The sex feels impossibly good. Morgana arches her back and mumbles his name, drags her fingers through his hair and scrapes her nails down his back. He rocks against her, feels between them where they are joined and manages to stroke her clit, which makes her gasp. His fingers are slick and clumsy and Morgana’s face is flushed, her eyes half closed, her hair sticking to her brow and shoulders, and somehow it’s glorious.
He cums after maybe seven minutes (has to be a record) and rolls onto his back, head spinning. Morgana peels the condom off his softening cock, then leans over him to press her mouth to his. He feels her hair spilling across his chest, one of her hands tracing his collar bone.
She laughs into his shoulder then flops onto her back next to him, grinning.
“Did you – ” Merlin tries to catch his breath, “did you – ”
“Mm? No,” Morgana shakes her head, “it’s fine, Merlin.”
“No,” Merlin shakes his head, “it’s not – hang on – I’ll do something about that in… in a second if you could just – hold on…”
Morgana snorts, “well, I’m not going anywhere.”
He’s never properly gone down on her before – Gwen told him about a couple of things that he could do but he’s only used them briefly and he prefers his fingers. He knows how to use his fingers. But actually using his mouth turns out to be the best idea he’s ever had, as Morgana gasps and squirms and makes a low, trembling sound in the back of her throat that he’s never heard from her before.
It probably helps that she’s already aroused, but she cums very quickly, and when he sits up to grin at her she laughs, breathlessly.
“Oh, God, Merlin.”
“First orgasm of the new year,” he tells her, matter-of-factly, “serious business.”
She snorts. “Come here.”
She proceeds to kiss him very thoroughly, and he realises that she’s licking her fluids off his face, which he finds somewhere between bizarre and arousing. Nestled against her a few minutes later, with his cheek on her breast, as she idly strokes his hair, he thinks that he’d really like to fuck her again – and then go down on her again. And then…
He idly flicks a thumb over one of her nipples – watches the bud harden a little. It’s never going to stop intriguing him, the way her body reacts to being touched.
“Merlin?” She’s still stroking his hair.
“You can stay if you want,” she pauses, takes a breath. “I don’t think Arthur’s going to miss you, somehow.”
“Yeah,” Merlin allows his brow to furrow, “was I imagining him and Gwen snogging on the kitchen table earlier, or did you see that?”
“I thought she hated him?”
“She does. He keeps staring at her breasts.”
“Hm,” Morgana tweaks one of his ears affectionately, “well, weirder things have happened than a girl snogging some bloke she doesn’t
“I suppose.” He kisses her breast – her collar bone.
“Do you want to stay?” She asks – she sounds perhaps just a little vulnerable – her hand has stilled on the back of his neck.
“When have I wanted to get away from you – like – ever?”
Merlin is woken up, briefly, at eight the next morning, by the sound of his phone chiming in response to a text. He grimaces in his sleep, bats at his eyes without opening them, and when the sound stops, he drifts soundly back into sleep again, absently huddling closer to Morgana, who doesn’t stir.
Approximately an hour later, the phone rings and doesn’t stop, and Merlin sits up, disturbed. His mouth is dry and his head aches a little and mostly he’s just confused by his surroundings and the manner of his awakening. For a moment, he fails to comprehend where exactly the sound is coming from.
Morgana rolls over and buries her head in the pillows, moaning softly.
Trying to think in a straight line, Merlin untangles himself from the duvet and slides onto the floor, fumbling through the pockets of his jeans until he finds the ringing phone. He squints at the screen to try to work out who in their right mind would be trying to call him at such an ungodly hour on new year’s day.
“’Lo?” He manages.
“Merlin!” His uncle sounds peeved, “you didn’t answer my text message!”
“Oh,” Merlin replies, a little dumbly. He has sat down on the floor, in a pool of his cast off clothes, feeling very cold without the duvet.
The room is dim, daylight only just fighting its way through Morgana’s curtains. “Sorry.”
“We have an agreement!” Gaius insists, “you must always answer my text messages, Merlin, so that I know where you are!”
“I was asleep,” Merlin tells him, rubbing his eyes.
“Well, where are you?” Gaius demands, shortly.
Merlin sighs, “at the Pendragons’ – I slept over.”
“With that girlfriend of yours?” Gaius is immediately suspicious, “I’ve no objection to you having sexual intercourse, Merlin, but I hope
you used protection – ”
“Yes – yes – I know – it’s fine, Gaius – um – ”
“Is she on the pill? I’d recommend it if you’re regularly having penetrative sex, you know – condoms are the best defence against
disease but they can break and you don’t want her getting pregnant – ”
“Yeah – thanks, Gaius – I’m um – I’m gonna be home sometime mid-afternoon, probably, okay? So – um – see you later – ”
“At the very least you must always use spermicide with the condom!”
He hangs up, then spends a moment staring blearily at his phone, wondering whether he really did just have the conversation he thinks he did.
He’s not going to think about it. ________________________________________
“Do you have to go?” Morgana enquires, sleepily, as he climbs back into the bed. She props herself up with one hand and pushes a
curtain of thick dark hair out of her face with the other – her smile is drowsy but warm and she looks so… so…
Merlin shakes his head. “No, it was just Gaius being… Gaius-like. I’m fine here for a while.”
“Mm, good,” Morgana sighs, then leans over to kiss him, “good morning, Merlin.” “Good morning,” he replies, softly.
He curls himself around her like a plant, her back pressed his chest, his legs tangling through hers, nosing his way along her shoulder to lay his cheek in the crook of her neck.
“God you’ve got a lot of hair.”
“You hadn’t noticed?”
“Well, I’ve never been in a position where I’m having to actually inhale it before.”
She laughs – finds his hand and squeezes. “This is a nice way to wake up, Merlin.”
“It kind of is, isn’t it?”
He can feel the way the muscles in her neck taughten a little when she smiles. He kisses her cheek and decides he likes the way her neck smells.
Sleep comes back almost immediately, and Merlin doses, quite warm and comfortable. They had sex twice more the previous night – well… he’s not sure if the last time counts. She sucked him off – does that count as sex? It’s a sexual act, is what Gaius would say. Except that he really doesn’t want to connect Gaius in any size shape or form to this particular situation. But the point is that he’s tired.
An undetermined amount of time later, Morgana starts to fidget and Merlin wakes up properly. He rolls onto his back, rubbing his eyes, “what time is it?”
“God knows,” Morgana waves a hand, “here – kiss me.”
Merlin does – over and over – as Morgana lies on her back against the pillows whilst Merlin covers and caresses her. He’s about to ask if she wants to have sex again when Arthur’s voice outside the door interrupts them.
“Morgana, have you seen my – ”
The door comes open before Merlin can even think about what exactly is about to happen, let alone throw himself off the bed in an attempt to make it look less like he’s lying naked on top of Arthur’s equally naked older sister.
There is a moment in which all three of them contemplate each other. Arthur in the doorway, in a pair of pyjama bottoms and a dressing gown, hair askew, knuckles whitening on the doorknob, eyes popping wide enough to spit in with reasonable accuracy; Morgana and Merlin in the bed, still naked, still clearly rather intimately entwined.
And then Arthur looks very much as if he’s going to be sick.
“Um…” Merlin can’t manage anything more coherent as he sits up, abruptly trying to shield himself with the duvet.
“Arthur – ” there’s a note of warning in Morgana’s voice but it’s too late.
Arthur is across the room in two bounds and dragging Merlin off the bed with terrifying force: “I am going to fucking kill you - ”
“Arthur!” Morgana scrambles after them – snatches up a shirt from the floor and drags it on over her head as Merlin wrenches free of
Arthur’s grip and dives under the bed.
“Come here you little – ”
“Arthur, leave him alone!”
“Get out from under there!”
“I’ll kill you! I’ll fucking kill you!”
Merlin rolls out from one side of the bed as Arthur dives under the other – grabs his jeans and phone and bolts for the open door.
“Get back here you arsehole!” Arthur chases him into the hall – Merlin, staggering into his jeans, tears along the corridor, gets to the
main staircase and takes them three a time, tripping over his own feet and sprawling on the marble floor at the bottom. He hears a clunk and a sickening crack and then tastes blood – which he has no time to contemplate because Arthur is suddenly on top of him and swinging a fist.
“Weasely little prick – ”
“Arthur James Pendragon get off my boyfriend!” Out of nowhere, and, mercifully, before Arthur can deliver the promised punch,
Morgana slams into her brother from the behind, performing an impressive side-tackle to knock him off his victim and send him crashing to the floor. She proceeds to sit on his chest and deliver him an almighty slap. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
Arthur looks a little shocked by this particular turn of events – his cheek has a bright red hand-shaped mark appearing on it and for a moment he seems dazed.
Morgana takes a hold of the front of his dressing gown and glares at him. “Stay down, or I swear to God I’ll show Uther every one of your kinky porn mags.”
“I don’t have any kinky porn mags!” Arthur splutters.
“Yeah, but I do,” Morgana delivers a sharp poke to his shoulder, “and who’s he going to believe they belong to, mm?”
Arthur grimaces but doesn’t protest further as Morgana climbs off him and goes to where Merlin is clutching the lip he split open on the floor. Her hands are cool as she cups his chin to inspect the damage with a critical eye. “Did he do this to you?”
“Mm-mm,” Merlin shakes his head.
“Clumsy lout tripped over his own feet,” Arthur informs her, coldly, from his back on the floor.
“Shut up,” Morgana doesn’t look at him. “Come on, Merlin. I’ll get you some ice.”
Merlin nods, feeling like a little kid as she stands up and he takes her hand, allowing himself to be led towards the kitchen, which still looks like a bomb (or a few hundred drunk party-goers) hit it the night before.
“Hey!” Arthur yells, from the hall, “what about me?”
“Stay there!” Morgana orders.
Ice located in the freezer, wrapped in a clean dish cloth, and tenderly applied to Merlin’s lip, Morgana leads him back into the hall. And then they both sit down on the bottom step of the mansion’s main staircase, and contemplate Arthur, who glares back at them from the floor.
“You have kinky porn mags?” Merlin asks, abruptly.
Morgana giggles, “oh, there’s so much more I’ve got to teach you, sweetheart.”
Merlin has time to grin before Arthur groans.
“For God’s sake! I’m right here!”
“You dragged him out of bed naked and then caused him to split his lip open!” Morgana snaps, “you don’t get to talk for a while!”
Arthur sits up, eyes narrowing as he scrutinises the pair of them. “This has happened before.”
“I have never slept with any of your other friends,” Morgana rolls her eyes.
“No! I mean – ” Arthur gesticulates at them wildly for a moment, “you’ve… last night wasn’t a one off, was it?”
Morgana folds her arms but stays stubbornly silent. Merlin decides that he’d really rather not draw any more attention to himself than absolutely necessary.
“How many times – ”
“I am absolutely not giving you a number.” Morgana informs him, tartly.
“How long, then?” Arthur demands, “how long have you two been at it?”
Merlin catches Morgana’s eye – and he realises she’s waiting for his permission to say something. He shrugs.
“It’s been maybe three months,” Morgana tells her brother, after a little consideration.
“Oh my God,” Arthur rolls his eyes, “three months? Seriously? And you couldn’t be bothered to tell me?!”
“It was none of your business!” Morgana snaps, “you’re such a caveman, Arthur! I’m older than you! And even if I wasn’t, I’m still over
sixteen! At that juncture I can choose to have sex with whoever I want!”
“And you wanted Merlin?”
“Hey!” Merlin is a little peeved at his friend’s incredulous tone.
“He’s interesting,” Morgana tells Arthur, firmly. She gives Merlin’s wrist a gentle squeeze, and he suddenly wants very much to be back
in bed with her, with Arthur nowhere in sight.
Perhaps the touch lingers a little longer than is strictly necessary, but suddenly Arthur has a very strange expression on his face.
“You’re not even… it’s not just sex, is it?” His brows knit – he looks very much as if he’s struggling to process something infinitely
complicated, like astrophysics – or how to make the library photocopier print on both sides of a sheet of paper, “You’re not just sleeping together – have you been… I mean, are you, like, going out, or something? Is… Merlin your boyfriend?”
Morgana suddenly looks uncomfortable. “We haven’t… really talked about it.”
“You called him your boyfriend,” Arthur points out, “when you assaulted me.” “No one ‘assaulted’ you!”
“Hah!” Arthur spits, then frowns again, “and stop trying to change the subject. You called him your boyfriend.”
“Did I?” Morgana looks momentarily confused.
Merlin pretends that he doesn’t remember – that he wasn’t, in the middle of feeling great pain and great fear and great astonishment, suddenly unreasonably happy at the idea as Morgana had been wrestling her brother off him. He shrugs, noncommittally.
“Well, we haven’t really talked about it, anyway,” Morgana looks back at Arthur.
“You haven’t – three months and you haven’t had ‘the talk’?” Arthur looks disbelieving, “god, you two are worse than I am.”
“Oh, I am really not discussing this with you,” Morgana informs him.
“And what were you getting up to with Gwen last night, anyway?” Merlin asks, suddenly remembering, “weren’t you two trying to suck
each other’s faces off in the kitchen?” For a moment, he gets the distinct impression that Arthur is blushing.
Although that may just be a trick of the light.
“We were drunk,” is all he says, a little stiffly. And then he gets up, yawning and running a hand through his hair, “dunno about you
guys, but I’m starving. Going to fry some bacon. Want some?”
Merlin blinks. “…that’s it?”
“What?” Arthur asks, distractedly.
“You were trying to kill me ten minutes ago!”
Arthur shrugs. “And now I’m hungry.” He turns and pads away towards the kitchen, calling back over his shoulder, “you could have told me earlier, you know. I would have been cool with it.”
“Before or after you tried to kill me?!”
Morgana, perhaps for the first time since Merlin has met her, looks confused.
Merlin squeezes her hand. “There is actually a reason I like the guy.”
“Clearly,” Morgana shakes her head.
They go back to her room. Morgana stretches out on her bed and Merlin kicks off his jeans before climbing back in beside her – she gently kisses his split lip.
“My poor baby.”
He shakes his head, “I tripped and collided with a marble floor… can we just tell everyone that Arthur hit me? I think I’d come off more manly that way.”
“Secret’s safe with me,” she promises, and her lips twitch, although she manages not to laugh.
They are quiet for a moment. Merlin sighs against the shirt Morgana is wearing and buries his face in the material over her ribs – it smells of her sweat and her perfume and faintly of beer. She is warm and real beneath it and he thinks that really, truly, this is what love must feel like. Like the dull throbbing of a split lip and the ache of a hangover close against the back of his skull and the taste of her still on the back of his tongue, and not caring at all because she called him her boyfriend.
Arthur knows and now there are few people of consequence left to tell, and if everyone knows, and if Morgana called him her boyfriend, is she his girlfriend?
He doesn’t ask. He doesn’t dare.
She is tracing circles on the back of his neck with a finger tip.
“You don’t want to sleep with anyone else, do you?”
“What?” Merlin lifts his head up, “no – who else would I – why?”
“I like to know these things,” she tells him, matter-of-factly. “You don’t, then?”
“Want to sleep with anybody else? No,” Merlin assures her.
“Good, me either.” She pats her shoulder, which Merlin takes as an invitation to lay his head there.
He thinks she’s saying we’re exclusive now. Does that make her my girlfriend?
“Morgana! Merlin! Do you guys actually want some of this bacon?” Arthur’s voice comes up from the floor below – he’s probably
standing on the stairs.
“We’re okay!” Morgana calls back.
“I said – we’re okay!” Morgana repeats, obligingly covering Merlin’s ears before she shouts.
“Oh – okay,” Arthur shouts, then, after a moment adds, “remember to use protection, alright?”
“Oh god,” Merlin groans, and Morgana giggles into his hair.
“We’re okay,” she repeats to him, softly, and he nods, even as his ears get hot.
But she grins at him, and Merlin reckons everything’s going to be brilliant for a while.
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