Hello, all! This is a modern AU set in a world in which Uther Pendragon is the British government, Morgana is his rebellious ward, Gwen is lovely and indecisive, and Merlin is stuck as the roommate to the king of clotpoles, Arthur.
It was a picturesque scene, really. A large, black marble dining room table was decorated with plates upon plates of food: eggs, toast, sausage, hash browns, fresh baguettes, fruits of all sorts, juice, jam, coffee, and tea.
Her guardian, Uther Pendragon himself, sat at the head of the table, newspaper in hand as he read the news. Her foster brother, Arthur, sat across from her, texting and eating at the same time. She picked at her food, eating her toast only. In a few hours, she'd escape this hellhole.
Most would probably find her to be quite contrary, perhaps spoiled rotten. Her parents had died when she was ten, and because she had no grandparents or other family to speak of besides a then-seventeen year-old half sister who had been travelling with her father in America, she was sent to England to live with her father's best friend, Uther. She had tried to adjust as well as she could, given the circumstances.
Uther treated her like a daughter, and she had him wrapped around her finger, for the most part. She was sent to the best prep schools in London with Arthur, had the best clothing, and the most luxurious bedroom a teenager could imagine. Too bad she wanted none of it. She appreciated Uther Pendragon's hospitality, really, she did, but she wasn't meant for this life. She was a stranger in this family.
She scowled and took a sip of coffee.
"Careful, Morgana, your face might stay like that," Arthur mocked between mouthfuls of food.
"Careful, Arthur, you might get fat," she scowled further, only to smirk when he dropped the fork.
"I am not fat," he frowned.
Uther looked up from the paper, somewhat amused, "Hurry up. You've got places to be."
"Yes, finally, away from her," Arthur stabbed a piece of toast.
"We're going to the same university, you idiot," Morgana rolled her eyes.
"Just pretend you don't know me, okay, freak?" Arthur asked. Honestly, everyone would think he was like the goth weirdo sitting in front of him.
"Arthur, that's enough," Uther snapped at his son.
Morgana smiled sweetly at Uther, then sent a smirk towards her foster brother.
"Why do we have to go to the same university?" Arthur pouted, "couldn't she have gone back to Ireland?"
"Oh, trust me, I wish," she muttered before taking a small bite of toast and jam. Her head ached from yet another dream, more like a nightmare, and she didn't want to deal with Arthur's crap.
A woman cradled a body in her arms, his skin pale with hair as dark as night. His red shirt was stained with blood and she whispered ancient words and incantations, to no avail. Black clouds swirled above them, rain pouring on them.
Morgana had woken up in a cold sweat, terrified. What was that? Who were those people in her dreams? It was just a dream.
"Enough, the both of you," Uther frowned, setting his newspaper aside, "I assume you have everything ready to go."
The two nodded in unison.
"Good. Brigitta!" he called for the maid.
"Yes, Mr Pendragon?" she asked.
"Please retrieve Morgana's suitcase from her room. Tell Jonathon to get Arthur's, too," Uther ordered.
"Uther, it's fine. I can carry my own bags," Morgana stood before Brigitta had a chance to leave.
"Morgana, sit down," Uther commanded, "actually, take out that ghastly ring."
Brigitta curtsied and left before witnessing yet another shouting match between Morgana and Uther.
Morgana sat down and brought a hand to her nose, "It's not like you'll have to see it every day. It's in my nose, after all."
"Don't forget the one in your tongue," Arthur helpfully pointed out.
"Shut up! Who cares?" Morgana crossed her arms over her chest in annoyance.
"Morgana, we have a reputation to uphold," Uther started on one of his oft-repeated speeches.
"I'm not a Pendragon, I don't need to uphold your reputation," Morgana snapped. It was an oft-repeated argument. Some things never changed.
Uther was silent for a moment, "No, but you are my ward, and I am your guardian. How do you think your parents would feel?"
"Dad would laugh and mum would throw a fit," Morgana smiled softly, "but she'd get used to it."
Uther's anger seemed to fade at the mention of Vivienne Lefay, the wife of his best friend and his own dearly departed wife's closest friend.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I can take care of my own bags, as I'm not adverse to actually doing things on my own," she sent a pointed look to both Arthur and Uther.
She found Brigitta in the hall and stopped the maid, taking her suitcase from her. It was fairly light anyway; she didn't need a lot of stuff. Most of the clothes she had were ones worth leaving behind. They were so preppy and conservative and stuffy. She had her jeans, her shorts, her assortment of band shirts, some sweaters, and a few blouses. Mostly black, blue, purple, and dark green. She had a preferred colour palette and she'd stick to it. No way on earth she'd take her old school uniform or pantsuits and long skirts and jackets Uther made her wear when they were out for the press to see what a good parent he was to the poor little orphan.
She was leaving and would only return when absolutely necessary (the Friday night dinners having been brought to her attention yesterday). This wasn't her home. It was merely the house (nay, manor) she had lived in since she was ten. Her parents had died long ago; the details surrounding their deaths were still fuzzy in her mind.
She became a teenager and streaked her hair purple. Then she pierced her ears, three in each. She didn't get away with that for very long. The tongue ring was easier to conceal, but her foster brother ratted her out after a few weeks.
She hated it here. She didn't quite hate Uther, but she was under so much scrutiny she felt she would crack. Yes, she appreciated Uther's kindness towards her, but she was stifled. 'Wear this. Eat that. For goodness sake, take out those piercings!'. Well, she'd be rid of that. For a while. She was ready to go. No Uther, no bodyguards. She had cleverly argued that the public needed to see that he was willing to trust his adopted daughter to live on her own, and expected her to be treated as an 'equal'. Luckily for her, appealing to his desire to appear better to the people was always a method to get her way.
Despite Uther's disapproval of her appearance, he was always kinder to her than he was to Arthur. Maybe it was because he expected less from her. Maybe it was because she nodded and agreed with him for the most part, not willing to argue, and since she maintained good grades and excellent A-levels, he just let her do what she pleased. Or maybe it was because she wasn't actually his daughter. Her antics wouldn't ruin his 'good name' whereas one misstep by Arthur would besmirch the Pendragons for eternity.
She escaped hell. She was at university, living on campus for the first time. Actually, student dorms seemed more like purgatory. The dorms were a group of flats leased by the university for student housing, so they weren't incredibly small or uncomfortable. No, this would do.
Hell was her 'home'. She was immensely glad that she was out from under Uther's thumb. No more galas, no more press conferences, no more arguments over her attire. Now she could focus on her studies, simple as that.
She threw her bookbag on the bed closest to the window, hoping her new roommate wouldn't mind that she'd already made it her own. Her room at Uther's remained in tact, and her guardian stipulated that they (they being himself, her, and her foster brother) have dinner every Friday evening.
She had already resolved to steer clear of Arthur, who was also beginning his first year. The prat probably didn't even have to share a room because of his name. The Pendragons were great benefactors and donators to Albion University. Morgana scowled at the mere thought of the way everyone sucked up to him and Arthur. She didn't hate Arthur, she liked him well enough, and it was fun to rile him up, it's just that he was a bit of a spoiled idiot.
She reached for the pillow on the bed she had just made and screamed into it.
"Erm, hi," a soft voice greeted from the doorway.
Morgana looked up to see a small, petite girl with brown shoulder length curls, wearing a light purple shirt and jeans waiting at the door. The door at the entry way next to the living room was also open.
"Oh, hi. You must be Guinevere! I'm Morgana," Morgana stood hastily, moving to shake the girl's hand. The girl's brown eyes widened and Morgana knew she had noticed the tongue ring.
"Right, hello, Morgana, please call me Gwen," she greeted.
"Gwen, right. I took that bed, hope it's all right," she said quickly.
"It's fine," Gwen smiled and pulled her suitcase in behind her.
"Have you started unpacking?" Gwen asked as she zipped the bag open.
"No, I was waiting we could split the wardrobe space evenly," Morgana said.
"Oh, thank you," Gwen smiled again and the pair set to work, piling their respective clothing onto piles on their beds.
Morgana smirked at the difference in clothes. Gwen's clothes ranged in every pastel colour imaginable, while most of Morgana's clothes were black, purple, blue, or green. Despite their sartorial differences, Gwen seemed like a nice girl, and maybe she'd have a friend who didn't know who she was, who liked her for her and not her connections.
They'd arrange the furniture in the living room as they preferred later, and the small kitchen was already equipped for what they needed.
He was in hell. Hunith had left hours ago, leaving him to unpack. He was excited to meet his new roommate. Was being the operative word. Arthur Pendragon was a prat. A real clotpole.
"This must be a mistake. I was supposed to have a flat to myself," Arthur grumbled and fished his mobile from his pocket.
Merlin sat on his bed, watching the rich blond speak angrily with student housing.
Upon hanging up, Arthur threw the mobile, nearly hitting Merlin in the head.
"Hey!" the dark haired man shouted, standing up. If this idiot wanted a fight, he'd give him one.
"Sorry," he said, sounding unaffected.
"Look, I get that you're not used to sharing, but this is my room too, and we're stuck with each other, okay, mate?" Merlin was seething. He walked out of their room to the living room. He'd rather sleep on the couch or the floor than spend the night in the same room with that arse.
"Mate? We're not friends, Merlin," Arthur followed him, despite being annoyed with the man.
"You're right. I could never have a friend who's such an arse," Merlin spit out, making Arthur look at him open-mouthed in wonder.
"You can't speak to me like that! Do you know who I am?" he stared at the scrawny boy.
"Arthur Pendragon of the Pendragon family, also a star footballer in the making," Merlin tossed his mobile to Arthur, who grimaced at the picture of him and his father, one of the first results of a Google search.
"Your father is the British government," Merlin smirked, "no wonder you expected a flat of your own. You'd think with your dad's money he'd just buy you a house."
"Shut up, Merlin," the blond frowned.
Merlin shook his head, fairly amused. This would be an interesting living arrangement, to say the least.
Leave it to her to be running late for her first class. European history, 8 sharp. She had fifteen minutes. She could get dressed and have a breakfast in that time. She was used to running late to events. Morgana, get down here, Morgana, wash that raccoon makeup off, Morgana, for the love of God take out that tongue ring.
She slipped her jeans and a loose t-shirt on quickly before pulling on her shoes. She tied her hair into a ponytail and booked it out of the dorm room, leaving a still sleeping Gwen alone.
She ran out of the dorm and to the building housing the dining hall. She needed food. Something, anything. This wouldn't have happened if she or Gwen had thought to buy groceries yesterday after unpacking.
She turned a corner, trying to skid to a halt to keep from colliding with another student who too seemed to be running out of the cafeteria.
She wasn't very good at skidding. She slammed into the boy, making them both topple over.
He groaned and she frowned, spewing out apologies to the dark haired man.
"It's fine," he sat up, rubbing his head.
Morgana slipped off of him, offering her hand to help him up. He took it and smiled gratefully.
"I'm really sorry," she said, tossing her bag over her shoulder.
"It's fine, really," he assured her once more.
He was tall, maybe even taller than Arthur, with large blue eyes and dark curls. He wore a loose dark blue shirt and baggy jeans, making him seem very scrawny. She smiled a bit and motioned towards the cafeteria.
"I gotta go," she said, slightly miffed that the man was on his way out of the cafeteria.
"Yeah, me too. Early class," he nodded in understanding, "see you around, I guess."
"Yeah, see you," Morgana stared after him as he walked away quickly, rounding a corner down the corridor.
She shook her head and bounded towards the cafeteria. Why was she focusing on that guy? Sure, his eyes were incredibly blue, but he was nothing special. Baggy clothes, scruffy beard. He sounded Irish. Not from her town, obviously, but possibly Northern Ireland. Perhaps it was that hint of home that made her intrigued. Yes, that had to be it.
She was Morgana Lefay. She was supposed to consort with the children of politicians and lawyers and surgeons. Then again, she was also supposed to dress tastefully and conservatively. She snorted as she poured herself cereal. For her, conservative was a shirt with some band on it and jeans that weren't ripped to shreds, or a dress not paired with fishnets.
Sons of politicians would come to dinner, trying to worm their way into her heart (read: pants) and she'd have none of it. She could see through everyone's bullshit like it was a sixth sense.
She'd see that man around, she was sure of it. She dropped her spoon into the bowl. She didn't even catch his name.
She did see him again, but didn't catch his name. They were in the same introductory journalism course, to be prepare them for joining the university paper next semester.
Morgana sat in the very back, and the class only met once a week, so she wasn't surprised that he hadn't seen her.
The first week of university had gone as smoothly as possible. She avoided Arthur as much as she could, him not wanting to be associated with a 'freak'. Even better, no one seemed to associate Morgana with the Pendragons, because she was, after all, Morgana Lefay.
Gwen had begun to decorate their dorm with pictures of her father and brother. Morgana had one picture in their room. It was of her with her mother and father the Christmas she was nine, the last Christmas before they died. The rest of her side of the room was decorated with various film and music posters (Heathers, Florence, Muse). Gwen's side was far more tasteful.
"So what music do you listen to?" Morgana asked one evening as they ate leftovers from the cafeteria. Neither of them had spent much time together seeing as how they were still adjusting to life away from home that very first week. That, and they kept different schedules, especially since Gwen had a job at a nearby cafe.
They were in their small living room, Gwen on the couch and Morgana sprawled comfortably on the floor, in front of the coffee table. The telly was on, volume on silent, and the small kitchenette and table on the other side of the flat were ignored for the most part.
"Oh, pop or rock. Not like the really angry rock though," Gwen chewed on a crisp thoughtfully, "most music, really, as long as it's not degrading."
"Nice," Morgana smiled at her and took a bite of her sandwich.
"How are classes?" Gwen asked. She was an art history major, and a damn good one at that. Show her a painting and she'd give the artist, date, and school of art, plus the medium used. Gwen Smith: art encyclopedia.
"Already reconsidering my choices in life," Morgana groaned. She was a media studies major, and really enjoyed it. She had plans of joining the university's paper next semester, as fall term first years were unable to take the class. However, her literature and women's studies classes were already piling on the workload.
Gwen chuckled, "It can't be that bad, we're only a week in."
"Yeah, I guess," Morgana shrugged, "Are you going home for the weekend?"
"Probably not. I don't have a car, so dad would have to pick me up. My dad and brother are always at work anyway," Gwen said, sounding sad.
Morgana frowned. She had just come back from dinner with Uther and Arthur, as it was Friday night, and she was annoyed and still hungry after being served salads and soups and nothing too appetizing.
"We should do something this weekend. Celebrate surviving our first weeks," Morgana said.
Gwen smiled brightly, "Sure."
The following night, they ended up at a pub that was the regular hang-out spot for students. Gwen wore skinny jeans and a flowing pink top and a dark jacket, looking angelic, her hair pulled away from her face. She wore simple flats, as they weren't going anywhere too fancy. Morgana wore tight black jeans with holes in the knee, and a green tank top, paired with a black short-sleeved vest and converse shoes. She let her hair down, long and wavy, not being bothered to style it.
The pub was nothing special. As it was a Saturday night, it was filled to the brim with students drinking away the week. Morgana found a table towards the back, Gwen following her.
"Should I go order?" Morgana asked.
"Sure. Just a beer, yeah?" Gwen requested.
Morgana nodded, heading towards the bar. She pushed through the crowd assembled, glaring at those getting in her way.
"What'll it be?" a man with long, dark hair asked.
"Two ales and two shots of vodka," Morgana requested.
"Coming right up," the man said, nodding. As he got the drinks, he glanced at Morgana. He sounded Irish. Morgana felt comforted immediately by hearing a voice from home.
He passed her the drinks and nodded in response to her mumbled 'thanks'.
She made her way back to Gwen, carefully trying not to drop the drinks. She scowled when she saw someone had taken her spot and Gwen looked annoyed.
"Oy, blondie, you're in my seat," Morgana said tersely, setting the drinks on the table. The blond turned around and they both groaned.
"Arthur, get the fuck out of my seat," Morgana growled.
"Is that any way to greet your favourite person?" he raised a brow mockingly, nevertheless standing up.
"You two know each other?" Gwen asked politely, for Morgana's sake.
"Family friends," Morgana offered vaguely before Arthur could say anything.
"Yeah," he agreed, "so you're roommates?"
"I am so sorry you're stuck with her," Arthur leaned over to Gwen, who frowned, "she snores."
"She happens to be a wonderful roommate, and we'd like to enjoy our evening out, if you don't mind," Gwen said, surprisingly steely in tone.
Arthur stood up straighter, "Whatever. You've been warned, my lady."
Gwen's frowned deepened, "Do not call me that."
"As you wish, my lady."
With that, the king of the prats himself sauntered away, towards a table with fellow footballers. She vaguely recognised one with broad arms and short, cropped hair. Percy, was it? She rolled her eyes. Of course fellow jocks from Avalon Prep would end up at Albion, not because of their grades or exam scores, but because of their football skills.
"Ew," Gwen shuddered as Morgana sat down.
"I apologise for his ass hattery. He's usually not so bad," Morgana took a swig of her beer.
"Are you two," Gwen trailed off uneasily.
Morgana nearly spit out her drink, "Oh, God, no. He's like a brother. Our parents were, are best friends," she had to watch her tenses.
"Oh," Gwen laughed, "Thank God. I'd hate to see the girl saddled with him for life."
Morgana laughed, sticking her tongue out. She picked up her mug.
"I propose a toast, to a wonderful roommate-ship," Morgana began.
Gwen picked up her own mug, "To us!"
They clinked glasses and while Gwen took a sip, Morgana took a swig.
"This is the calm before the storm, isn't it?" Gwen asked after a few moments of silence.
"What do you mean?" Morgana asked.
"You know, we don't have much to study, finals are months away, we're still relatively sane," Gwen explained, making Morgana grin.
"Sane? Me?" she smirked, and Gwen tried to hold back a laugh.
She was about to say something, when noise from a few tables over caught their attention. Arthur, of course. The blond was facing off against a tall, dark haired man, who had a glass of ale in hand. The man shook his head, trying to side-step Arthur.
"Out of my way, Arthur," he grumbled.
"Oh, am I in your way, Merlin? So sorry," Arthur mocked his roommate.
Merlin scowled, "Get out of my way, you dollop head."
"Dollop head?" Arthur laughed, "please, define dollop head."
"In two words?" Merlin raised a brow.
"Yeah," Arthur nodded, looking less defensive.
"Arthur Pendragon," Merlin said.
Morgana nearly spit her beer out. Whoever this Merlin was, she liked him already. Suddenly, it dawned on her. He was the man from the hallway her first day and her journalism class two days ago. Merlin. He seemed so familiar for some reason, besides having seen him around. The image of the pale, presumably dead man from her nightmare a week ago flashed across her mind. No, it was just her mind associating random people with the ones in her dream. There must be a logical explanation for why she felt close to this man who was pretty much a stranger.
Arthur looked miffed, before laughing, and moved aside to let his roommate pass. For his part, Merlin looked extremely confused.
"Right then. Someone's hand too much to drink. If you'll excuse me," Merlin brushed past him and rolled his eyes. He found a high table towards the back of the bar, near Gwen and Morgana, and sat down by himself, obviously annoyed. He took out his mobile and quickly tapped out a message, before placing it back in his pocket.
"I know him," Gwen's eyes brightened, "he's in my art history class. He's really nice."
"I've seen him around," Morgana said, watching as Gwen smiled and stood, walking over to Merlin. He smiled upon seeing Gwen, immediately far happier than he had been when speaking to Arthur. Who wouldn't be happier away from Arthur?
Morgana shook her head. Gwen seemed to have that effect on every man she met.
Without warning, the pair walked over, and Merlin rubbed the back of his head awkwardly.
"Hello," he greeted, "I'm Merlin."
"Morgana," she grinned a little at his discomfort, "we actually met briefly. I sort of knocked into you. We're in the same journalism class."
His eyes glinted with recognition, "Right. Yeah. You sit in the back."
"Yep. I hope you made it to class on time," Morgana said as Gwen pulled a chair from another table for Merlin, and then sat down, motioning for the man to do the same.
"With seconds to spare," Merlin said conversationally.
Morgana took in his appearance. Still scruffy and curly-haired, but he'd traded the blue shirt for a green and black checked one. She snorted. They almost matched.
"I'm sorry about Arthur. He's such an arse," Morgana said.
"You know him? Poor soul," Merlin joked, making the women at the table erupt into laughter.
"Family friends," Morgana said without delving into her foster sister status.
"Again, poor soul. He's my roommate," Merlin offered.
Morgana and Gwen looked immediately sympathetic. Merlin chuckled at their expressions.
"He's not that bad. Just bullies me all the time. That's why I hide out in the library," Merlin said, not a tinge of anger in his voice.
Morgana glanced over at her foster brother and his pompous friends. She frowned slightly, remembering how much nicer he used to be when they were younger. She shook her head before turning back to Gwen and Merlin. While she had been off in her own head, the two had taken to a quiet conversation. She smiled. It was obvious Gwen liked Merlin, from the five minutes she'd seen them interact. It was so cute. She just needed to keep Arthur and his womanizing ways away from Gwen.
So they've all met. The main four are acquainted. I've got nearly forty pages written up on Word, and definitely have a story plan for the rest of the story. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback and reviews.