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lucifers_toy

[merlin] 1609, 5280, 63360

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Jun. 11th, 2010 | 11:00 pm

title: 1609, 5280, 63360
fandom: merlin
pairing: merlin/arthur, morgana/morgause, morgana/gwen, gwen/lance, mention of arthur/omc
rating: g
warnings/spoilers: none
summary: When they were young, Arthur had gone running. Morgana discovered that early into her tenure at the Pendragons; shortly after the car crash, when she was swathed in a bed with silk sheets with the memory of Uther standing awkwardly in her doorway, old face creased with the vestiges of grief and uncomfortable concern for the fragile girl in his house.
word count: 6000+
a/n: title is the number of meters in a mile, the number of feet, and the number of inches.



When they were young, Arthur had gone running. Morgana discovered that early into her tenure at the Pendragons; shortly after the car crash, when she was swathed in a bed with silk sheets with the memory of Uther standing awkwardly in her doorway, old face creased with the vestiges of grief and uncomfortable concern for the fragile girl in his house. And Arthur hadn't run in the morning, or in track or at PE in school, no, he would get up in the early hours of the morning and go crashing outside. Morgana never woke early enough to see him disappear, only startled awake at the slamming of the heavy, ridiculous front door, the stilted, resonating silence left behind both everything and nothing like the heavy quiet after one of her parents’ fights, when one was outside in the car and the other on their knees by their front door.

The first few times, Morgana had crept out of her room to the banister, peering down the stairs at the door. Sometimes, if she was fast enough to get to the window, she would be able to catch glimpses of Arthur disappearing into the night, slim and white and blind in the darkness. When he left, it was too dark to see, trees and fences rattling in the wind and shadows curled around everything, so when Morgana sees the tiny scratches on Arthur's palms in the morning, or the angry red bruises blushing across his knees before he twitches his robe closed, she knows where they're from, pictures him falling, slow and helpless.

She doesn't know if Uther knows about this late night excursions, but he's never asked Arthur about his mysterious injuries, or that single slam of the door.

She doesn’t know if he was running away from something, or to something.

They aren’t particularly close, at first. Both are wary, suspicious; they have the tendency to eye each other over the breakfast table, eyes dark with lack of sleep and a constant guard. They’re both angry, furious. Morgana’s hateful, imperfect parents were taken from her; her mother, who had once dragged hairbrushes through Morgana’s tangled curls, who had always admonished her for her loud-mouthed brashness but who always, always left the last slice of cake for her, and her father, who was wide and large as a house but so gentle, so gentle when he would tenderly pull the blankets tighter around her.

It’s hard to go from her house of fury and passion and fire to this, Arthur’s silent, frozen home of never-voiced secrets.

Arthur doesn’t always seem angry. He’s a good liar, good at hiding and concealing the truth, but Morgana knows how to look for it, how to see how the premature tightness at his eyes that precludes his smiles from being real, how to see the muscles in his shoulders tense when his father drops a heavy hand on his back.

She sees him, and he sees her, and this is enough to bind them together.

Through primary school, they are nearly inseparable. Neither quite willing to claim the other as a sibling, they nonetheless forged their way together. Both children, intelligent and angry, they are constant headaches for their teachers. The Pendragon children, known for their sweet smiles and blatant manipulation, their silver tongues and beautiful, beautiful laughs. They fight, though. They fight like cats and dogs, physically and otherwise, fingers tensed like claws and eyes hard as ice. Uther despairs of them, his two children who often come home from school holding hands but baring matching bruises.

Arthur still goes running in the middle of the night, but it happens less often, and now Morgana is able to stay awake long enough to catch at his hands when he returns, to pull him into her warm bed and wrap her long arms around him, to run her fingers through his hair and to tell him that he is loved, that he is possessed.

It isn’t sexual. It never becomes sexual, even when they grow into their beauty and their own limbs. It isn’t sexual when Morgana laughs at the breaking of Arthur’s voice, or when Arthur is forced to run out and buy tampons and chocolate and ice cream when Morgana is twelve.

They go through high school the same way, at first. But then they are pulled apart by different subjects, and different friends. Arthur spends his time with his team, his moronic peers of low intelligence while Morgana chooses her friends carefully, a deliberate selection of girls from different cliques, every one of them desperate for her approval.

Among all her friends, one stands out the most. Gwen, Guinevere as she’d laughingly blushed, who is one of the poorer girls at the school, at their ridiculously pretentious and expensive school, and who is one of the most darling, precious people Morgana has ever met.

They fall into their friendship easily. Morgana changes with it, the rougher edges around her soothing with Gwen’s unassuming companionship. Soon, they are seen always together, and Gwen’s laughter becomes a familiar presence in the Pendragon household. They are so beautiful together, the two girls, curled up in Morgana’s oversized bed and speaking wistfully of art and literature, of the future and their dreams.

Arthur changes too. He gets angrier instead of softer, and there’s an extra violence in his movements that makes people move aside from him cautiously. Oh, he isn’t dangerous, doesn’t threaten other people, but he does become taunting, vicious. He becomes cruel in a way that Morgana never expected, never saw to brace for from him. When Arthur mocks the vulnerable people in their class, the poor and the single, the friendless, Morgana comes to the rescue. She stands in front of him and screams, or speaks quietly and intensely. Her words are always equally as vicious, calculated barbs that make Arthur pale or redden. Sometimes this backfires, and Arthur simply redoubles his efforts, but more often than not, he is the one who backs down first, who leaves, and Morgana turns to bask in Gwen’s proud smile.

She doesn’t think to question it, this sudden change, she’s too enthralled in Gwen, in her sweetness and kindness. They study together at Gwen’s house, and as well at Morgana’s. They get drunk for the first time together in Gwen’s bedroom, passing a bottle of cheap wine between the two of them, both trying to suppress grimaces at the bitter taste. After the bottles rolls along the carpet, empty, Morgana presses Gwen carefully into her mussed bed sheets and kisses her softly, tenderly. Gwen glows up at her and slides her trembling fingers along Morgana’s arms and up her neck to tangle in her dark hair, lips curving helplessly, beautifully up.

Morgana is happy, incandescent with it, and it seems as though her extra joy has been taken from Arthur, who is always pale and sullen these days. The rare times that Morgana is at home and alone, they either ignore each other or have raging, screaming fights. They will stand across a room, screaming hateful, hurtful things; they bring old grievances, forgotten fragilities and forgiven mistakes into the present. Morgana’s hair clings to her forehead as she sweats, her voice hoarse from shouting, and she doesn’t want this, not for them, not for her and her brother, but she can’t help it. Something about Arthur’s furious eyes removes her gag and every angry thought she’s ever had comes spilling out of her.

Sometimes they throw things. Once, Morgana had thrown a vase at Arthur, but not with deliberately harmful intent. In fact, she’d missed, barely, and it had shattered on the doorframe he stood in, shards of porcelain raining into his hair and his skin, red blooming in a straight line down his cheek. Morgana had stopped immediately, colour leeching out of her cheeks, and she’d stuttered towards Arthur, pale hands fluttering like ghosts between them, but Arthur had simply turned around and walked out.

He starts running again. Still in the middle of the night, and Morgana still wakes up every time the door slams closed behind him. Sometimes Gwen is there, her knees tucked up behind Morgana’s in her bed. Their bed, she sometimes thinks wistfully.

The first time, Gwen had stirred before waking, brushing her hair out of her face before opening her eyes. “Morgana?” She’d asked sleepily, hands stealing around Morgana’s waist where the other girl was sitting up.

“S’okay,” Morgana soothed. “It’s just Arthur.”

Gwen looks at Arthur with empathy, and maybe the slightest hints of pity. She seems to see something in Arthur that Morgana is blind to.

In their final year, they call a wordless ceasefire. Somehow, now, schoolwork has taken the priority, and Morgana learns later that in all of Arthur’s long absenses from the house, his studies have apparently been taking precedence. His grades are good, almost as good as hers and better than Gwen’s, and Morgana is surprised.

She takes a small, hidden piece of him for herself. One day, hanging back late at school, she doesn’t even know why, she stumbles across them. Alone for once, Gwen having left earlier to prepare her father’s dinner, Morgana’s long legs eat up the distance as she paces the corridors. She hears low, masculine laughter behind a closed door and, curiosity peaked, eases the door open with only the slightest susurration of sound. What she sees astounds her, and she’s only barely able to suppress a gasp of pure shock. She never anticipated this. This, her beautiful brother leant back against a wall, his arms around another’s boy’s waist, holding him to him. There’s familiarity in the way the other boy presses against Arthur, presses kisses to his cheek and down, and Morgana wonders how long he’s been hiding this before she slips out of the room, unnoticed.


They take to studying together, Arthur and Morgana, during breakfast, meals that Uther has long since stopped attending, passing by them with their books strewn haphazardly across their long, wooden table with a cup of coffee in one hand and his mobile in his other. Most days, he forgets to call out a farewell.

A few weeks after she saw Arthur and that other boy, Morgana is settled on the floor of her bedroom, carpet pressing it’s pattern into her elbows as she holds herself up, reading through her textbooks with her ankle hooked over Gwen’s, settled in at her side. They hear the slamming of the front door, a jarring noise in the daylight, because in the brightness, they are all careful to ease the wooden door closed gently. She hears the echoing shouts of the Pendragon men, nearly rising to screams, and she blinks away unexpected tears when Gwen curls her fingers around hers. She deliberately tries to avoid understanding their words, but she picks up on the gist of it. When the voices settle, when one stops altogether and the other shifts into low sobbing, Morgana and Gwen creep out of the house, with its terrible weight. She is so angry at Uther, but she doesn’t stop to check on Arthur, and it’s something she will never forgive herself for.

Arthur goes running that night, and again the next, and again the night after that.

After their exams, their horrifying, tiring exams, the three take one day out. They lay out on the grass in the backyard of the Pendragon mansion, limbs sprawled messily and the sun warming cool skin.

Morgana and Gwen lie twined together, the grass tickling their bare stomachs, and they tangle their fingers together, giggling softly in a secret, lover’s language. Arthur lays a small distance away, eyes closed and at peace for once in his life, a small smile lighting his face in a way that Morgana has missed for so long.

When the sky begins to darken and they heave themselves up, burnt and content, Arthur leans forward with a curious, secret light behind his eyes and cradles Morgana to him.

She is surprised, and shocked, aware of Gwen smiling behind her. They’ve never done this, open affection for no other reason than that they want to, but her arms still curl around Arthur’s broad back with no hesitation. And when, she wonders, did the shape of his body become unfamiliar to her? She smiles involuntarily at him when he brushes a kiss to her cheek, and in that moment, she is so perfectly happy that she never sees it coming.

Arthur leaves.

It turns out that he’s been working, saving money, and he tells Morgana and Uther casually over dinner one night that he’s going to America. He’s saved enough, and he’s been accepted into any number of colleges there. He needs to leave, he says, needs to get the fuck out of their house. He’s going early, will find a job there and save some more before the academic year starts. Might take a year off, in fact. Decide later. Says he’s pretty much decided on being a lawyer and no, Father, he has no intention of taking over the family business and no, Morgana, he will not take up a less morally reprehensible profession.

There’s a calmness to him as he speaks that lessens the sense of betrayal that clogs Morgana’s throat. She, who already has plans to attend university here in London with Gwen, holds his hand and tells him that she is proud, so proud.

Uther stands and leaves, and Arthur’s smile doesn’t falter.

He hadn’t left much time to tell them, it seems. He’s booked his flights for a week from now. Morgana drives him to the airport and hugs him goodbye, arms wrapped around him for a full minute. When she pulls away, he looks embarrassed but happy, a light flush on his cheeks.

They lose touch again. It’s expected, really, because they’re both busy. Morgana thrives in university. She shares a room with Gwen and for the first few months it’s blissful, the two existing in and around the other in perfect harmony. She takes to her subjects with the exquisite thrill of challenge, and her thin arms take to carrying piles of textbooks with her. She and Gwen make friends easily, and develop a circle of mutual friends, people they adore, but none more than they adore each other.

A year passes. Morgana receives the odd email from Arthur, a gift on her birthday and Christmas, lovely but useless trinkets, signs that they don’t know each other anymore. She sees Gwen less and less, both busy with new jobs and classes, but they still curl up in the same bed at night, two singles pushed together to make one large bed. At first, they had fought over who had to sink into the crack to remain entwined, but now it seems as though the distance between them is ever growing.

Morgana worries, and holds onto Gwen’s hands a little harder every day, but. But she still comes home one day, an innocuous Tuesday, to find Gwen sitting on their bed, waiting for her.

She knows what it is. She smiles and nods when Gwen talks about how they were drifting apart, how they should go back to being best friends. She helps move their beds apart again, and watches Gwen separate their belongings with detached apathy. That evening, she goes running, feet pounding on the pavement and music blaring in her ears until her throat becomes thick with tears and she can no longer breathe. She finds a nearby park and sinks onto a bench, the cold seeping through her running pants. She buries her fingers in her hair and her head between her knees and she cries for a small eternity, mourning the best thing she’s ever been given. More than anything, now, she longs for someone to turn to, but she doesn’t have anyone for her own. No one who is just hers.

When she pulls herself together, she does it with a vengeance. She goes back to her room and answers Gwen’s concerned eyes with a careless smile. She throws herself into her studies, and then into short-lived affairs that she keeps hidden from Gwen. When Gwen comes home with Lancelot, Morgana grins with joy for her friend, her friend, and she runs again.

And again.

By the Christmas break of second year, the three of them are good friends. Lancelot and Gwen are so sickeningly sweet together, so happy, that Morgana lets some of her unhappiness leech from her. She can stand to see them kiss, now, see them hold hands and laugh and wear matching scarves. It still hurts, but now when she sees the gentle curve of Lance’s large hands around Gwen’s waist, she can look away and not taste bile in the back of her throat.

They go out to a club, one night in their minimal time off, laughing and swaying into each other, already a little bit tipsy from homemade cocktails back at Lance’s tiny flat. The club is a trendy mix of all sorts of people, and Morgana watches with interest as two girls kiss lazily next to two men, neither of the couples perturbed by the heterosexual group of teenagers gawking. The music isn’t fantastic, just the same techno shit blaring out of speakers all around the world, but Lance knows the bartender, so at the very least they should be getting cheap drinks, and it’s better than staying home again.

After cloaking her coat for an exorbitant price, Morgana moves through sweaty bodies to join her friends again, smiling and shaking her hair out of her face. She feels exhilarated, for once, still wistful and sad but ready to move, to shake it out, at least for this one night. When she dances, she knows she’s beautiful, and she wants to see Gwen looking at her, and she wants to go home with a stranger and walk out the next day with obvious marks. She wants something different from the monotony that dictates her life, and she’s willing to do stupid things to get it.

It isn’t late, yet, so there’s still space to move in the club. Morgana leads the way through the crowd, confident and gorgeous as ever, but she stops and turns when she feels Gwen’s slim fingers tugging at her wrist.

Lance stops with them, curious, and he and Morgana turn to where Gwen is blinking with big eyes at two men, dancing together sleek and sinuous.

“Morgana,” Gwen says slowly, “isn’t that—”

“Arthur,” Morgana breathes, and it is. It’s her brother, even though she’s never seen him like this before. No, not like this, with his whole body a golden arc, hips moving with feline grace. He’s dancing with his back to his partner, one arm slung around the other boy’s neck. A man with black hair is embracing her brother, his arms around Arthur’s hips, and he moves a little awkwardly but with enough confidence that heat pools in her stomach. They’re facing slightly away from them, and Arthur has his eyes slitted lazily closed, so Morgana knows she hasn’t been seen. They haven’t been seen.

“Who’s Arthur?” Lance asks, and Morgana hears Gwen begin to answer as she pushes through the crowd, uncaringly breaking through tenuous grasps to stand before Arthur. She doesn’t know what she’s going to do until she’s standing there, hand still raised even as she winces at the pink handprint on Arthur’s cheek, turned into his partner’s shoulder.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Arthur explodes, turning towards her, obviously furious. He’s broken away from his partner, but he takes a step back into him when he sees her, eyes wide and stunned.

“Not quite,” Morgana says coldly. She doesn’t know quite why she’s so angry, but she is. She is, she’s furious at this man who she barely knows. She doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life, if he’s happy. He didn’t even come home for Christmas the previous year, and. And she wonders if part of it was her fault.

The man behind Arthur clears his throat and says, uncomfortably, “Arthur?” His voice is tense with concern, and he takes Arthur’s hand, lacing their fingers together protectively. Possessively. It makes Morgana want to smile when she sees Arthur squeeze at their grasp.

“Morgana, bloody hell.” He’s still stunned almost silent, and at her back, she can feel where Gwen and Lance have come up behind her, silent in this- this confrontation? This ridiculous tableau of misplaced anger and familial betrayals. He turns slightly away from her. “Merlin, this is Morgana.”

The man—Merlin—inhales sharply. He recognises her name, then. “Your sister?”

Adopted sister,” Morgana corrects, even though it’s been years since they’ve made that difference apparent.

“Right,” Arthur says woodenly, and Merlin tightens his grasp, pulling Arthur back into him more firmly.

“Does Uther even know you’re here?” She questions, sharp and pointed like real weapons, and she watches the familiar jerk of Arthur’s chin up, defensive.

“No. No, we visited Merlin’s Mum a few days ago, and we’re here to see his Uncle before going to back to Ealdor. It’s none of Father’s business what I do.”

Morgana catches her breath. He’s been in England for so long already, and she never knew. He didn’t want her to know. She feels sick, and lashes out. “Tell him, Arthur. Tell him, or I will. He’ll want to know.”

She wants to spin around and leave, make a dramatic exist, but Arthur reaches out and catches at her sleeve, a little sad and a little desperate. “Morgana, please. I want you to meet Merlin. He’s my boyfriend.”

Her eyebrows go up with surprise, meeting her hairline, and Gwen gasps, even though it was fairly obvious. But the offhanded casualness with which Arthur spoke, the fond possessiveness in his words, they surprise Morgana, the tenderness without bitterness something she’s never seen in him.

Merlin sidles out from behind Arthur and smiles. He has rather an endearing smile, large and wide, cracking his face in two and causing his eyes to crinkle. It makes Morgana smile, too; a small reluctant thing that widens when she see Arthur flash his teeth in response.

“Hallo,” Merlin says, sincere and sweet, and Morgana would never have pegged him as Arthur’s type.

“Morgana,” Arthur says, “Morgs,” as he hasn’t in so many years, “here, give me your mobile number, okay? And maybe we can have lunch? Or you, me and Father, if you’d prefer.”

Morgana hesitates, thinking back on nearly two years of silence, but Merlin’s face creases with anxiousness. “Morgana, do,” He says with familiarity, as if he’s known her for years. “He’s missed you so much. Never shuts up about you.”

Merlin,” her brother hisses, elbowing his boyfriend in the ribs. Merlin’s a little taller, Morgana’s amused to see, and Arthur has to angle his arm awkwardly to avoid his stomach. “shut up, you idiot!”

Merlin rolls his eyes and says, warmly, “Prat,” with a wink at Morgana that startles a dusty laugh from her.

“Yeah, alright,” She finds herself agreeing, and pulls out her slim phone to plug Arthur’s number in. She saves it and then quickly calls him to ensure that he has hers, and then Arthur’s smiling at her genuinely, fondly as he pulls Merlin away.

“Sorry, we’d better go. We’re having an early lunch with Merlin’s uncle tomorrow. But call me, okay?”

“Call your father!” She reminds him sharply, but she’s still smiling when she turns back to Gwen and Lance, and she feels happier than she’s been in months.

The rest of the night is a blur, with both she and Gwen telling Lancelot stories about their childhood. He’s often bemused, smiling with fond tolerance, as they laugh and trip over each other. He’s a good sort, Lancelot, never bothered with jealousy that Gwen was living with her ex. This is the first time Morgana has really welcomed his presence, though, and she leaves Gwen in his arms knowing that she’ll get home safely while she allows strangers to buy her drinks. She relishes the burn of vodka down her throat and tips her head back, swaying dreamily to the music while someone runs their hand up her thigh.

The next morning, Morgana wakes up with a dry throat and a pounding headache. She has no idea where she is, or who she’s with, but there’s a beautiful blonde lying next to her, eyeliner smeared and lips swollen, and her body buzzes with the warm afterglow of good sex. She pulls the blankets more firmly around her, and leans over the side of the bed to look for her clothes or her bag, anything. Her tiny clutch is half open on the floor, contents spilling out, and Morgana is forced to extend one foot out from under the perfect cocoon of warmth and try to hook the strap around her toes. It takes some effort, her eyebrows creased, but she manages to drag it back to her, only losing a stray tampon to the debris covered floor.

She pulls her phone out and checks it automatically, head tilting thoughtfully when she sees all the missed calls; two from Gwen, one from Uther, three from Arthur. It’s been a long time since she’s had his name in her phone, and it makes her throat feel tight.

It’s always better to deal with Uther immediately, she supposes, and tries to slip out of bed casually. This time, she doesn’t quite manage, and the blonde rolls over and drapes her arm across Morgana’s midsection as she stirs. Stilling, Morgana holds her breath, waiting, and then has it all ruined when her phone rings in her hand, startling her and waking her companion.

She tries out a charming smile, whispering apologetically, “Sorry, I have to take this,” before answering, polite and friendly. It’s Arthur, and he sounds frantic, insisting that she be there when Uther takes him and Merlin out to dinner. “It is of vital importance to my continued state of mental health that you be there, Morgana, I swear to god. He will glare at me, and then Merlin will drink too much, and he’ll probably throw up all over Father’s shoes, Morgana, please,” he says in one long sentence, and Morgana blinks once before laughing, low and amused. In the end she says yes, of course, because if nothing else this will be hilarious and Uther always takes them to the best places to eat.

And also. Arthur.

By the time she hangs up, the blonde is sitting up, blankets draped around her waist and long hair providing the vaguest imitation of modesty. She tucks her phone away and smiles again. “Hi. I’m Morgana.”

The blonde laughs, a deep, throaty thing that sends shivers up Morgana’s spine, and holds her hand out. “Morgause. A pleasure, I’m sure.”

“Pleasure’s all mine,” Morgana purrs, and it’s a cliché because it works. It’s going to be a good day, she thinks.

By the time she leaves Morgause’s, she’s got a skip in her step and a clear head. There are also bitemarks lining her inner thighs, but she figures that with tights there is little chance of anyone noticing. She ducks back into her room to change and shower quickly, avoiding Gwen’s curious eyes, and swans back out to arrive at Uther’s barely five minutes late.

Uther is already there, of course, and he informs her stiffly that they’ll be meeting Arthur and –his lips curl distastefully—his friend at the restaurant, due to their apparent tardiness. She nods, surprised, a little, because Arthur has always been alarmingly punctual, but this is a little bit outside of his comfort zone, so. So maybe he’s hyperventilating in his hotel bathroom with a cheap cigarette, just like when he was a teenager. She blinks again. She’d forgotten that about him.

Despite Uther’s disapproval, by the time they make it to the restaurant, Arthur and Merlin are already seated at the bar, half-drained glasses of some ludicrously fluorescent drinks by their elbows. They’re turned in towards each other, faces cast with shadows as they speak quietly, and Morgana raises her eyebrows when Arthur’s gaze slides across her.

She quietly directs Uther’s attention over as Arthur sharply nudges Merlin and the two make their way across, just in time for a finely dressed waitress to appear.

They’re led to their seats, and Morgana notices with some amusement the face that Merlin makes when he sees the pretentious amounts of cutlery sitting by their napkins. He gives Arthur a slightly panicked look that fades into concern as he notices the pinched expression that Arthur’s wearing, eyeing his father in silence.

Like father like son, neither of them have yet spoken, so Morgana takes it upon herself to make the introductions. “Uther,” she says clearly, “I don’t believe you’ve met Merlin?”

“My boyfriend,” Arthur adds defensively, and if Morgana is correct, he’s holding Merlin’s hand under the table.

Uther’s eyes narrow a little, but he simply raises his chin and extends his hand across the table. “A pleasure, I’m sure,” He says doubtfully.

“Nice to meet you, sir,” Merlin squeaks, and Morgana smiles a little. He really isn’t that intimidating.

“Son. It’s good to see you again,” Uther adds quietly.

Arthur colours a little. “And you, Father,” He says, voice just a little thick.

They peruse the menus in silence for a moment, Arthur explaining to Merlin in a low voice the French names, and by the time they place their orders, Arthur’s shoulders appear to have come down from his ears. They all unanimously decided to skip entrees; despite the lack of animosity, they all prickle with awkwardness and the tentative words they speak are foreign to them all. The meal goes well, with polite questions and courteous answers. Merlin is quiet, too quiet, and Arthur gets louder as if to make it up to him. Morgana knows that if she looks under the table, she’d see their feet hooked around each other.

In fact, the entire thing goes smoothly, with only one bump. Uther looks at the two boys, eyes hard, and says, “Of course, it’s much too late for you to attend the Christmas dinner, Arthur. The invitations have been sent, and the food ordered, and I’m afraid that there’s simply no space for you,”

Morgana and Merlin suck in deep breaths, Morgana already prepared to shout at Uther, but Arthur just nods, a tiny smile playing around his lips. “Of course, that’s just as I’d expected. Merlin and I have plans to go back to Ealdor to have Christmas with his mother, in any case.”

Uther tilts his chin up and Morgana frowns in realisation that father and son are more similar than she’d known. “Well, then. That’s settled. But if you’d like to spend some time at home, Arthur, that can be arranged. Your room has not been touched.”

“Merlin too?” Arthur asks, voice unrelenting, and he stares at his father until Uther sighs and nods.

Morgana lets out a shaky breath and looks at Merlin, offers him a small smile. This is so much more than she’d expected, and from the look in Merlin’s eyes, and even Arthur’s, it’s the same for them.

She moves in at the same time as them, the four of them in that big house together for a scant week. It’s odd for her, really, the silence without Gwen’s laughter, and one day when Arthur and Merlin are out, she calls Morgause. The older woman comes by quickly and willingly, striking in her eyeliner and fitted suit, and Morgana pulls her down into her crumpled bed, kissing her fiercely. It shocks to her to realise that she’d missed this, despite have only known Morgause for less than a week.

They spend the entire evening together in Morgana’s room, and she leaves Morgause sleeping naked in her bed when it gets late, creeping across to Arthur’s room. The door’s closed but the light is on inside. She can just hear Arthur and Merlin talking, so she leans against the wall opposite and slides down so that she’s sitting cross-legged on the ground, hair a messy spill around her shoulders.

Their voices are low, intimate, and her heart twists when she hears what Arthur’s saying, the tears suppressed in his voice. “It was so quiet, Merlin, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t, nothing was ever good enough and I didn’t have anyone. I was drowning,”

She pictures Merlin cradling her brother, maybe pressing tender kisses to his hairline as he whispers, “Shh, darling. It’s alright now, it’s alright.”

And then Arthur chokes, “They didn’t know me. They didn’t love me,” and tears slide down Morgana’s cheeks at the plain misery she never saw. She hadn’t known, she hadn’t, and that Arthur had been living with such lies in his heart hurts her, a visceral clench. She stays there, still as a statue, until their voices fade away. And then she sits there some more until she hears a moan, undistinguishable as Arthur’s or Merlin’s and, cheeks flaming, she hurries back to her own room, to Morgause’s embrace.

When she slides into bed, into Morgause’s arms, she lays there with her eyes open, thinking about the desperate sadness this house had bred, and how stifled she’d felt growing up here by herself. And then she thinks of Arthur, who had never known the unconditional love of a parent- except that’s not quite right, because Uther loves him, he does, but he doesn’t show it. It’s peaceful and serene in her bed, and she curls further into Morgause’s heat, smiling when the other woman shifts to wrap around Morgana more firmly, and doesn’t startle when the door slams, such a familiar sound. But this time when it slams open again, an hour later, she can hear laughter and Merlin panting, Arthur teasing him, and it makes her smile, that her brother has finally found the love and acceptance he’d so been craving.

The day before Arthur leaves, he comes into the house to find Morgana curled into an armchair in the library, hair a curtain as she reads. He slumps into the chair by her side and knocks his shoulder into hers, smiling when she looks up, irritated.

“So, how have you been?” he asks. “I haven’t seen Gwen around much,”

“We broke up,” Morgana says, surprising herself with her steady voice. She flattens her hands against her book, looking away from Arthur. “she’s seeing someone else now. Lancelot.”

“Oh, Morgana,” Arthur breathes, and leans forward to embrace Morgana. It’s awkward, the way they’re sitting, so he hauls her down to the ground so that they’re turned into each other and Morgana’s face is against his shoulder. She’s crying, she realises distantly, clutching at Arthur like she’s never done before, but it’s good. It feels a little bit like healing.

Arthur hushes her, rocks her a little, and closes his eyes against her hair. “I’m so sorry,” he says finally.

Morgana raises herself. “Don’t be,” she says, voice firm. “She’s happy now.”

“And you? Are you happy?”

Smiling, Morgana thinks of Morgause, of her black-lines eyes and the determined curve to her jaw. “I could be. I will be, yes,”

By the time Arthur has to leave, Morgana’s found some peace in herself. It’s difficult not to, when she can slide her hand into Morgause’s and smile at her brother, watch him be happy for once. And he is, he’s so happy, laughing with Merlin, the long lines of his body loose and carefree.

Merlin suits him, she thinks, drags him out into the sunlight. In the morning, the two of them go running, for shorter times than Arthur had before, and when they tumble through the front door, Merlin’s red-faced and sweaty, while Arthur’s glowing. They’re both smiling, though, and they remain contented through discomfiting family breakfasts, even with Uther eying them sternly over his newspaper. He’s trying, Morgana knows, his very presence an indication of that.

This time when Arthur leaves, Uther drives them to the train station, all four of them piled into one car. Morgana hugs Arthur fiercely, whispers threats into his ear and Arthur laughs, promising to keep in contact. She tugs Merlin away, folding him into her embrace as he blushes. She owes him so much, is so grateful that he gave her her brother back. Over Merlin’s shoulder, she watches as Arthur hesitates, then offers his hand to his father.

She smiles when Uther ignores it and pulls his son into himself, a quick, masculine embrace, but it makes light shine in Arthur’s eyes, and he proudly tangles his fingers with Merlin’s when he steps back.

Uther and Morgana watch as the two board the train, Merlin waving frenetically through the window and Arthur just smiling, and as the train pulls out and she catches sight of Arthur pulling Merlin into a heated kiss, Uther sighs.

“He’s happy,” Morgana points out, and Uther nods.

Slowly, sadly Uther says, “Yes. He is.”

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Comments {31}

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(no subject)

from: lavellington
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
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Oh, that was so beautiful. Your writing is very evocative. There aren't enough Morgana-centric stories out there- you wrote her so wonderfully- the wariness and the vulnerability. And Arthur elbowing Merlin in the ribs was brilliant. :DDDD

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lucifers_toy

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from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
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Thank you, you're very kind. Also, I love your icon!

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archaeologist_d

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from: archaeologist_d
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
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That was so lovely. I loved that Morgana didn't see how desperately lonely Arthur was. Loved the confrontation at the club and how he hadn't called her in all that time. Great job.

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much.

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(no subject)

from: causticoddity
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
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I believe my heart has doubled in size, the emotional workout you just put it through. im glad tho. this was beautiful ^.^

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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espresso bandito

(no subject)

from: fresica
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
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This is beautiful. I love Morgana's pov, and the obvious love between her and Arthur - that gets glossed over or left out of far too many fics. And Arthur and Uther's dysfunctional relationship is just as lovely, if endlessly more painful.

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

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Keddi

(no subject)

from: luisadeza
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
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Beautiful! Loved the deep emotions, and the relationship between Arthur and Morgana especially, and the moment in which Arthur opens up to Merlin.

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 09:59 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much!

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HermitKnut

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from: hermitknut
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
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Oh but this is beautiful :) Lovely *steals word off of fellow commenter* evocative, delectable prose. I love Morgana's PoV, too, it's gorgeous - this whole thing is wonderful :)
HK

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 10:00 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I' glad you liked i.

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Misanagi

(no subject)

from: misanagi
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
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Wow! This was an amazing story. The narrative here flows so beautifully and it's so fitting to the mood and tone of the fic. I liked Morgana's perspective a lot and her view of Arthur through the years. Lovely.

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 10:01 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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(Deleted comment)

lucifers_toy

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from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 10:01 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry I made you tear up, but I'm still flailing a little in glee. Thanks for reading!

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Netgirl

(no subject)

from: netgirl_y2k
date: Jun. 11th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
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Oh, that's just gorgeous.

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 10:02 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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frames_in_aria

(no subject)

from: frames_in_aria
date: Jun. 12th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
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That was beautiful. It made me have mixed feelings--serene, bittersweet, and heartwarming :)

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 10:02 am (UTC)
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I'm glad you liked it, thanks for reading :D

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S A R A H

(no subject)

from: theagonyofblank
date: Jun. 12th, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
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This is gorgeously done. You've captured Morgana and Arthur beautifully, and I love how their relationship is portrayed in this.

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 10:02 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much!

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Nyxelestia

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from: nyxelestia
date: Jun. 12th, 2010 09:10 am (UTC)
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lucifers_toy

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from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 10:03 am (UTC)
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:D

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Wordflake

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from: wordflake
date: Jun. 13th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
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Simply beautiful <3

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lucifers_toy

(no subject)

from: lucifers_toy
date: Jun. 14th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much!

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theladylefay

(no subject)

from: theladylefay
date: May. 14th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)
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Great story! I really loved it. You captured both of their vulnerability and pain so well and did a wonderful job showing their relationship.

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px

(no subject)

from: persephassax
date: Jan. 6th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
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I'm not entirely sure why. But this just made me cry. (Big fat tears, with minimal sobbing.) I don't know if that's what you were going for, but I thought you should know.

It's really really beautiful. ♥

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