A/N: Hi everyone! It's been so long since I've put anything Merlin related on here! I've been working on this off and on, and it's a story that will end up in an interesting place so I wanted to share it with you! I hope everyone enjoyed the series 5 premiere! For those of you wondering about my other Merlin story—no worries! I will update that soon. I've picked it back up and am currently editing it.
Please let me know what you think. Constructive, thought-out reviews are always appreciated and usually returned.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
He couldn't help but smile as he felt the sun on his back. It was unreasonably warm for January. While the weather still called for a coat, the sun was a welcome sight in the normally dreary winter months of England. Merlin surveyed his surroundings as he adjusted the rucksack on his back. London was at least five times larger than his hometown. The city was bustling with life; street vendors, massive amounts of people on foot, colorful shop fronts, taxis; all things he wasn't used to. He was from a quiet little city, with mostly retired couples and occasional grandchildren occupying it. He could walk just about anywhere and without a map. Here he knew he'd get turned around just stepping out of his front door.
He was thankful for the car his mother's neighbor had sold him. It may not have been nice, but it functioned fine—even after the oil leak and the high pitched squealing. He shut the door to his little blue car and headed towards the doctor's office. It was a small homeopathic practice that his great uncle had been running on his own for the last twelve years. Though the man was still fairly fit for being in his late sixties, work was beginning to overwhelm him. There had been an influx of patients recently, and he found himself stretched thin. Hoping to get some help at least with the paperwork, he asked his only niece if her son would be interested in working for him. Eager to see a big city and live outside of his mother's home, Merlin said yes.
He opened the door and a sensor went out producing a loud bell that echoed through the empty front room.
"I'll be with you in one minute!"
Merlin laughed silently as he pushed open the only door in the room. "Uncle Gaius? It's Merlin."
A white haired man with a wise expression emerged from a backroom with a bottle of something blue.
"Ah! You're early!"
"Yes. Well, I thought I'd like a little more time to get my bearings. I hope you don't mind."
"Well no, of course I don't mind!" His smile turned into a frown as he scratched the back of his neck. "Though I don't have your room quite made up yet."
"That's okay. I can help you if you like?"
Gaius looked embarrassed. "You see Merlin, this building is small, and my patient count has grown rather large. Which means I've had to find storage space for all of my records." He gestured towards a room at the far end of the building and he and Merlin stood in front of it. "I've been putting them in here because I have no other place for them. But I must admit that in my old age, moving them around in any kind of organized manner is taxing. So they're a bit messy."
Merlin opened the door and flicked the light on. There were boxes stack upon boxes, littering the entire room. There were loose file folders and papers lying on top of the boxes. He honestly didn't know where to start.
"Are these labeled?"
"Ah. Some are. But I'm afraid we'll have to go through some of them."
"This is going to take some time."
"That it is. I'm so sorry Merlin."
"It's okay, honestly." He looked around the building expectantly. "I'll just take the sofa until we can get this taken care of."
"No, no. That's not fair to you." He rubbed his forehead. "I feel terrible about this." He reached down and pulled out his wallet. "Here, let me pay for a hotel. At least until we make space for a bed."
He attempted to hand Merlin the money, but he pushed his hand away. "No, please keep it. I'll sleep on the couch. It's not like I haven't done it before."
"I actually don't own a sofa." He looked a little embarrassed. "All I had are armchairs in the waiting room."
Merlin shrugged. "I'll sleep in one of those then. Or on the floor. Really, it's not a big deal."
"I can't let you do that. You're my nephew for goodness sake. Please. I'm already indebted to you for helping out here. Let me repay you with this. At least so you're comfortable."
"No, really. It's all right."
Merlin believed they had reached a stalemate until Gaius made another suggestion.
"Do you remember Gwen? The little girl you played with when you would come to visit?" The sparkle in his eyes was undeniable.
"Of course. She was really nice."
"She has a flat not far from here. She stops by once a week to check on me. Lovely girl. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to give you a place to sleep until we have this cleaned up."
"But. I haven't seen her since we were kids. That could be really awk-"
"Nonsense! I'll ring here right now!"
"It'll give you two a chance to catch up," he said with a wink.
And that's how Merlin got to where he was now. He felt terrible for imposing on her like this. Especially since Gwen had worked late and he didn't get there until after eleven. Gwen had been overly nice. She was gushing over him from the very second he arrived on her doorstep. She even hugged him. He couldn't complain much though, she had grown into an absolutely gorgeous woman, and he found himself stumbling over his words. She smiled and blushed and showed him the couch he would be sleeping on, and where the bathroom and kitchen were before stumbling off to bed. In the brief ten minute encounter they had, he had a feeling that they would grow to be friends. Maybe more. He smacked himself in the face for thinking like that. She showed him hospitality and all he could think about was her breasts. Well, the last time he saw her she didn't have any, but that's still no excuse.
But the couch was comfortable, and he slept through the night having been exhausted by the day's traveling. He could feel the sun on the backs of his eyelids and was slowly being coaxed out of sleep when he heard a shriek and felt a sting of a smack across his chest. He attempted to sit up but flailed and fell onto the floor tangled in his sheet. When he regained his senses, he realized there was a pair of legs standing directly in front of him. But these weren't just legs. These were pale, long legs. And these legs were naked. And these legs were not Gwen's. He looked up to the person who had just hit him to see a woman standing with a rolled up newspaper in nothing but underwear and a tank top. The look of shock on her face mirrored his own.
"You fucking scared the life out of me!"
"You hit me?"
"Because you scared me!"
"I was sleeping, how could I have scared you?"
She rolled her eyes. "Oh I don't know. How about there's a strange man sleeping on my couch and I have no idea who the fuck he is or why he's on my sofa! Not to mention the lack of clothing!"
He looked down at his bare chest and then back to her naked legs. "Well you're not wearing pants, and I think that's far more offensive." She smacked him again.
He threw his hands up defensively. "I'm a friend of Gwen's ok?"
She raised an eyebrow suggestively.
"Not that kind of friend. My uncle owns a homeopathic practice and he's asked me to help. I got into town yesterday but he didn't have my room ready. Gwen was kind enough to let me stay here. But she failed to mention she had a flatmate."
"And she failed to mention you were staying here. She has a lot on her plate with work and school. Sometimes she forgets the important things," she said exasperatedly.
She surveyed his appearance before offering him a hand to shake. "I'm Morgana, Gwen's failed to mention flatemate."
"Merlin, Gwen's failed to mention friend and temporary house guest."
He hoisted himself from the floor and pulled yesterday's shirt over his head. He could feel her watching him. Had this girl ever heard of modesty?
"She probably left you a note, you know. And in it she probably explained the whole 'oh yeah, I have a flatmate called Morgana' bit. And she probably apologized for not being here when you got up."
Sure enough, when he looked at his rucksack, there was a note lying on top. And it said exactly what Morgana had said it would.
Terribly sorry about rushing out this morning. Someone called in sick and management wanted me to cover for her. And so sorry about not mentioning that I have a flatmate. Her name's Morgana, though I suspect you'll have met her already. She's got a good heart, and she's quite sweet when you get to know her. I warn you though- she's a bit of a minx. I drew you a map on the back of this so you'd know where the shops were. I'm sorry there's not much to eat, but feel free to help yourself to anything you like.
Again, so sorry. Will call later.
"You're right, she left a note about you, and apologized profusely."
"Of course I'm right."
"Your humility is truly stifling."
"Are you like this with everyone you meet, or is it just pretty Irish girls?"
"You know, Gwen warned me. She said you were a minx."
Morgana threw her head back, exposing the pale skin of her throat and laughed loudly. "What gave it away?"
"Well, the near indecency for starters."
She grinned and leaned towards him so she hovered right at his ear. When she whispered, he could feel goosebumps raising on his flesh.
"I could've been naked."
When he didn't retort she backed away smiling. "I'm going to get dressed. Since I'm a shit cook, we should go get breakfast." She looked at the clock to see that it was approaching noon. "Or lunch."
Before he could reply, she had retreated back into her bedroom, which as Merlin noticed, was down a hallway parallel to the kitchen. She wasn't even gone for five minutes, when she emerged wearing jeans, an oversized black sweater, and a pair of trainers. He was sitting on the sofa putting his shoes on when she flopped down next to him.
"So there's this little place a block over that has really great food."
He continued to tie his shoes.
"They have wonderful coffee and the absolute best blueberry strudel."
Still no response.
She let the silence linger a little longer between them until she caught the hint of a smile forming at the corner of his lips.
"Tell me, Merlin, are you normally like this, or have you suddenly been struck mute?"
His head snapped up then.
"I was actually just going to ask you a question."
"Well, what is it then?"
"Do you often walk around here naked? Because if you do, I may have to stay over more often."
The shocked look on her face was enough to illicit an impish grin from him. "What? I can't be cheeky?"
"Just wasn't expecting it." She stood and looked at him expectantly. "Well, are you coming or not? By the looks of it, you could use a little extra weight."
"Oi! What's that supposed to mean?"
It was her turn to shoot him a cheeky grin as she headed out of the front door.
They were seated across from each other at a small round table covered with a plastic table cloth. In the center sat a small blue vase full of plastic flowers. Merlin chuckled upon first seeing the decor.
"Look, I know it's a bit tacky, but the food's good. And after a while it grows on you."
After the orders were placed—his a glass of water and a sandwich, hers a cup of coffee and a pastry, they both settled into comfortable small talk.
"Did you see our waitress? She was totally giving you the look."
Morgana laughed. "My goodness Merlin, where did Gwen find you? The look. She was obviously interested in providing you with another type of good service, if you know what I mean." She winked over-dramatically.
"Er, I don't think she really—I mean, what gave you that impression?"
"Just trust me. Girls know these things. And besides, she's always been quite sweet. Her name's Freya and she's worked here for as long as I can remember. Maybe you two can become friends." She said the word "friends" while making air quotes.
"Um. I suppose so. Maybe."
She shook her head. "Really. How does Gwen know you?"
"We were good mates a while back. When I was little, I used to come to London and see my uncle. Gwen's mum worked for him, so we would always play together. But then her mum passed away and I didn't see her anymore."
"Your uncle. You said he had a homeopathic practice."
"Yes. Gaius Ambrose. Have you heard of him?"
She smiled fondly. "I know Gaius. He's been treating my family for a while."
"Small world." He pondered that new knowledge for a moment. "So how do you know Gwen?"
"Honestly? Well, I met her when I was ten. Her father was hired as our groundskeeper and she moved with him into the guest house."
He arched an eyebrow. "Groundskeeper? Guesthouse? Seriously?"
"Yeah. Unfortunately. But none of it's mine by birth anyway. I was adopted."
She took a bite of her pastry and continued. "My parents have been gone for a while."
He realized that was all she was going to divulge to him. And why should she say more? They didn't even know each other. He shrugged off the strange feeling that had settled on his shoulders and cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry about your parents."
She shrugged and took a big gulp of her coffee. She winced as it scaled her throat but said nothing.
He decided to offer up a little bit of his own sob story.
"My dad walked out on my mum when she was pregnant with me. I've never met him."
He could tell she was a little uncomfortable, but she still remained silent. That is, until she dropped her pastry onto her plate and looked right at him, eyes sparkling. "What are we doing being so morose this early in the day? I mean, seriously, if we're going to talk like this we might as well be at a funeral. Tell me Merlin, what are your plans for today?"
"I was going to help Gaius clean up the spare room, but that's it."
"Why is that?"
The smile she gave him in return made him a little uneasy.
"Because it's Friday and if you're going to be staying here, you need to get acquainted with the nightlife."