A/N: I hope everyone has had a very safe and happy holiday season!

I know it's been awhile—I apologize for that. (Please don't hate me!) I'm sorry I can't update every week, but I greatly appreciate everyone's support and sweet reviews. You guys are the best!

I don't even want to talk about the Merlin finale—it's too painful. Let's just pretend it never happened, yeah?

Disclaimer: Not mine.

III.

Merlin had spent most of his night evading the dance floor with Leon. He had confessed after his fourth beer that he wasn't much of a dancer. Merlin laughed and nodded in agreement, staring down at his second drink. He wasn't very keen on alcohol—it made his body feel heavy. Plus, it didn't take much to get him drunk. So he was perfectly content to sit with Leon and people watch while he alternately sipped his water and beer.

"Please, for the love of all things good and holy, save me from the madness." Sophia had practically thrown herself at the table, wide eyes pleading with both the men in front of her. "If I have to keep dancing or take another shot I may just vomit. Not sure if I won't anyway." She once again laid her cheek against the table top.

"Where are they?" Leon looked around but couldn't see them anywhere.

"Morgana's ass of a brother is here and he's chatting up Gwen. Ugh. He's so insistent. I mean, he sleeps with anyone he wants to, why does he have to bother her?" She gestured wildly. "There's loads of women here who'd have him!"

Merlin couldn't help but laugh at her drunken shouting as Leon merely shook his head. Honestly, Merlin hoped he never met Morgana's brother. He had a feeling that wouldn't see eye to eye on anything.

"And that other dick of a man is here. Jesus, what's his name Leon? The one Morgana strings along?"

"Tauren."

"Yeaaahhhhhh. That's the one."

Leon grimaced and gave Sophia a knowing look before turning to Merlin.

"This night could get interesting soon. Her brother absolutely loathes Tauren."

"Why? Well, I mean aside from him being a dick."

Leon laughed. "He works with their father. Tauren's constantly trying to weasel his way in to Uther's life. Like he wants Uther to like him more than he likes his own son. I have no idea what Morgana ever saw in him."

Sophia nearly spit her drink all over the table. "Clearly you haven't seen the man shirtless."

"Hopefully he'll be too engrossed in Gwen to bother with Tauren—"

"I SAID YOU NEED TO LEAVE HER ALONE!"

Of course, the minute they hoped for some sort of peace all hell would break loose. Merlin and Leon stood, scanning the room until their eyes fell on two men standing near the bar with Morgana standing between them. Gwen was nowhere to be seen. They both approached the bar as did several other people eager to see what the yelling was all about.

The man with the leather jacket and slicked back hair looked at the other man, a blonde in a Polo shirt smugly. "Well mate, last time I checked, and believe me, it was thorough, she was old enough to make her own decisions."

"Tauren, stop being an ass." She crossed her arms angrily and eyed her brother. "Let it go." She looked pointedly between them. "Both of you. Get off your goddamned high horse and stop being jerks."

Tauren frowned and reached out to grab her hand. "Come on Morgana."

But she pulled her hand away from him and stood firmly between them. "No, I want to stay here with my friends."

He looked baffled, but a coy smile suddenly appeared on his face. "So, you don't want to go home with me? I mean, we could sneak off to the loo if you really wanted."

His face changed to anger when she shot him a rather disgusted look. "Ugh. No. I want to stay here. I want you to leave. And to leave me alone. "

"Oh come on, you know you don't mean that."

"I'm pretty sure she did."

"You don't need to speak for her, pretty boy."

"I'm not speaking for her. Get the hell out of here before I throw you out."

Morgana rolled her eyes. Of course this was how it always stared. Her brother had a nasty habit of getting into fights over petty things.

Tauren laughed. "Throw me out? I'd like to see you try." And of course the cocky tone he used did nothing to quell the rage that she saw crossing her brother's face. And it also did nothing to stop him from lunging at Tauren with Morgana still wedged between them.

They all landed on the ground with a loud smack. People scattered instantly, forgetting their drinks. Morgana felt something wet splash against her face and grimaced as she tried to untangle herself from the men grappling with her. "GET OFF ME." She pushed at Tauren and he rolled away from her, pushing her brother to the ground. He landed a solid punch to his face.

Morgana, now standing, tried to grab Tauren by the shoulders to get him under control, but he elbowed her harder than intended, and sent her stumbling back, knocking over a table in the process. Suddenly, someone was behind her helping her stand. Merlin's arms grasped her shoulders and she turned to face him before looked back at her brother, who had now managed to stand and was ready to hit Tauren back when the bartender shouted at them.

"ALL OF YOU OUT RIGHT NOW OR I WILL CALL THE POLICE!"

Percy grabbed Tauren by the back of his leather jacket and gave them an exasperated look before leading them all outside.

Merlin helped Morgana outside, but not before he caught the pointed look that Leon was giving him. He shouted over the din, hoping Leon would hear.

"Make sure they get home safe!"

Leon nodded his head before disappearing into the confused crowd.

Tauren didn't even say anything due to Percy's large frame threatening to bash his face in. Instead, he turned and began the walk toward his nearby flat. Percy looked between Merlin, Morgana, and her brother before nodding.

"You okay?"

Morgana forced a smile and placed her hand on his arm. "Yes, thank you Percy. I think we just need to go home."

Satisfied with her answer, he went back into the club. She immediately turned on her brother, who was cupping his nose with both hands and sighed. "God Arthur, why do you have to be such a pompous idiot?"

So that was his name. Merlin looked to Arthur for a response. "So, me defending you makes me a pompous idiot?"

"You know this wasn't about me. It was about showing how manly you are and putting Tauren in his place, which by the way, you didn't do a very good job."

"If the bastard hadn't broke my nose I'd—" but he was cut off as Merlin stepped in front of him and got mere inches from his face.

"What are you doing?" But Merlin didn't speak. He reached out and grabbed Arthur's chin with one hand and touched his nose with the other. "Get off me, freak! Who are you anyway?"

He stepped back with a stupid grin on his face. "I'm Merlin. And your nose isn't broken, but you'll definitely bruise. I'd go home and put ice on it."

Morgana couldn't help but laugh at her brother's puzzled expression.

"And just who do you think you are?"

"Actually, he's Gaius's nephew. He's staying with me and Gwen." Morgana smiled smugly at Arthur as he opened and closed his mouth soundlessly. "Do close your mouth Arthur, you're not a fish. It makes you look like even more of an idiot."

"That is the last time I EVER stand up for you!"

"I wasn't asking you to in the first place!"

"WELL MAYBE IF YOU'D STOP BEING SUCH A SLEAZE AND DATING DIRTBAGS LIKE THAT I WOULDN'T HAVE TO!

Merlin observed Morgana's facial expression. She looked… somewhat hurt? But she quickly masked it and squared her shoulders. "I can take care of myself Arthur. I don't need you, or anyone else standing up for me."

"Clearly," he said bitterly while wiping the blood from his nose with the back of his hand.

"You should go home and put some ice on that. Wouldn't want daddy seeing you like that, would you?"

He frowned and pulled out his phone. "At least let me call you a cab. You may be the most sober drunk I know, but you're still drunk."

"I have my mobile, Arthur. I'm capable."

"Fine. Be the bitch you always are. I don't even know why I try to be kind to you." He stormed off into the street.

"It's only to boost your own ego! You have a complex, Arthur! You should get that checked out!" Merlin wasn't sure if he'd heard her until he saw Arthur stick his middle finger in the air without even bothering to turn back towards her. They watched him continue to walk away and Morgana sighed loudly.

"Why aren't you back inside with the others?"

"I guess play parks are more my speed." He had tried to make a joke hoping that she would at least grant him a smile, but she only frowned and started walking.

"Are you going to get a cab?"

"Does it look like I'm getting a cab?"

He continued to follow behind her. How did she manage to walk so fast in heels? "Er, no. It doesn't." Thunder rumbled overhead and he silently hoped it wouldn't start raining until they were back at the flat.

"Please stop talking."

He nodded and allowed her to lead them down the quiet streets. He wasn't going to mention how cold she looked, or the fact that it had started raining. Or that he no longer had any idea where they were. But he did notice that her shoulder was bleeding. She must've hurt it when she fell into the table.

"Morgana?"

No response.

"Morgana?"

She turned around fiercely, eyes blazing. "What Merlin? Why don't you just go back to the club and leave me be?"

"I-uh- well- you're bleeding."

"What?"

"Your shoulder. You must've hurt it when you fell. But it's bleeding."

She turned around and began walking again. "It'll be fine. I'll take care of it later."

"I can help."

She turned so abruptly that he nearly crashed into her. "What is with you men thinking I need help? I don't need anyone looking out for me."

"Clearly."

Thunder sounded overhead again. "How close are we? It's going to get nasty soon."

"Oh really? How do you know? What are you, a bloody psychic?"

As if on cue, the lightning pierced the sky and Merlin smiled at the back of Morgana's head. "Something like that," he mumbled, but she didn't hear him over the rush of rain. He followed her in silence for a few more minutes until something sparked his interest. The number of streetlights had dwindled. The houses looked different.

"Are we close?"

No answer.

"Uh, Morgana?"

"Yes… Maybe… Ugh, I don't know!" She threw her arms rather dramatically into the air.

"So, we're lost?"

"No."

"But you just said—"

"We are momentarily misplaced."

"Ah. Right." He looked around. They would definitely have to backtrack or call for a taxi. And knowing Morgana's anger they'd be stalking around London all night in the rain.

She had to be cold. She looked it. The rain had washed away the blood from her shoulder and he could see the jagged cut more clearly. She'd probably need a few stitches.

Suddenly she stopped in front of a modest brick house. The street was dark save for the one lone streetlight three houses down. Somewhere in the distance tires squealed. He watched her curiously. She was so still he could see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Her shoulders slumped and she spoke so soft that he almost thought he imagined it.

"I used to live here."

"What?"

"After my dad died. They were my temporary foster family before Uther adopted me."

Merlin couldn't think of anything to say. "Were they nice?"

"Sure. They had a cat. He hated me. I still have scars." She frowned at some unspoken memory and turned to face him. "Sorry I'm such a bitch."

"You're not a bitch. You're drunk and angry. And your boyfriend's an ass."

"He's not my boyfriend."

Merlin ignored the feeling of relief that washed over him.

"Arthur's an ass too."

Merlin laughed. "He may be, but I really think he was just looking out for you."

"The problem is that you don't know him, Merlin. Sure he cares about me, but his problem with Tauren, that's what makes him act this way. They're in a constant pissing contest and he's always trying to beat him out to please his daddy."

"I'm sorry."

She chuckled then. "There's no reason to be sorry. I've lived with him for over ten years. You get used to it."

"Yeah." He looked down at his sopping wet shoes. "I suppose you do."

She exhaled, loud and heavy. "We should probably call a taxi."

"Yeah?" He couldn't hide his smile.

She gave him a light shove for mocking her, but couldn't mask her own smile. "Yeah. I have absolutely no idea how to get home."

A/N: Bit of a filler chapter and pretty dialogue heavy, but I promise this story is getting somewhere. Next chapter, Merlin will ask someone out on a date and we will learn that Morgana has a secret she's been keeping.

As always, constructive reviews are appreciated.