Jenny von Westphalen/quick-witted barmaid OTP!
Writing what I know: I haven't been doing it. Which makes me think hey, what about a fanfic writer AU? Y'know, the one where Morgana is a university student, and she and Gwen have debates over lunch about the finer points of LJ comm posting etiquette ("Post it to a few, sure, but I don't need the damn thing popping up on my flist eight times!"), but they also worry about summer internships and absent-minded thesis advisers who never return your emails on time.
But what show would they fic?! What epic bromantic story can serve as an adequate parallel to 'Merlin', that most unparalleled wonder of ahistorical crack? I toyed with 'Harry Potter' because it's such a mainstay, and Achilles and Patroclus (in which they are not cousins), and Plato and Socrates (in which they are the same age). And then, LIGHTBULB: the show is about Karl Marx (played by Colin Morgan, heretofore known for his stagework) and Friedrich Engels (played by Bradley James, heretofore known for his abs), in the springtime days of youth. Before they were revolutionaries, before the Manifesto and Capital and those horrific beards, they were just Karl and Friedrich, engaging in bar brawls with Prussian loyalists and other such rakish things. They are also trying to win the heart of Jenny von Westphalen (played by Angel Coulby), a young woman of bourgeois lineage whose beauty and kindness ignites both their passions. So, Karl and Friedrich have jealous spats disguised as accusations of hypocrisy! Anthony Head stars as Friedrich's father, the textile tycoon who disapproves of all things non-capitalist and from whom Friedrich steals money to support his BFF Karl. Katie Morgan plays the quick-witted barmaid with a thirst for revolution, and Joe Dempsie plays one of Karl's many former BFFs whom he eventually dumped for being ideologically unsound. It is a show about LOVE and FRIENDSHIP and FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS.
Okay, so that's the show. In the throes of fannish glee, Morgana tells her stepbrother Arthur about it, which doesn't end well because he is an economics student (to please his father) and he just scoffs all over her face. "There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to begin," he says, but Morgana retorts, "You're missing the point!"
"Friedrich/Karl, the OTP that ate fandom!" she crows. "Gwen already had to reformat her laptop because she got adware going on sketchy websites trying to find the newest episode. Thank god she backed up her Friedrich/Karl porn fic. We spent ages hashing out the characterization for that one."
"Oh Christ." Arthur holds up a finger. "First of all, I never want to know. Second of all," he holds up a second finger, "why would you worry about characterization in porn?"
"Third of all: see 'first of all'. If you put half as much effort into your studies as you do into historical porn--"
"Stop it, you sound like Uther."
Another time, over drinks, Gwen says to Morgana, "If we were a TV show, who would people ship?" Her favorite game. "I think quite a lot would ship you/me."
Morgana shrugs. "Probably." And tries not to smile like an idiot when, later, on their way back to their apartment, Gwen slips her arm around Morgana's waist to steady herself, giggly and warm and affectionate.
"I can capslock about you until the comments collapse," Gwen declares, and Morgana kisses her cheek, replies likewise.
And I don't even know what these next set of drabbles are. They've been sitting on my hard-drive for an age. Again, I was feeling like I never write what I know, but that I can't write original characters anymore, so I guess these are sort of a stepping stone. I can perhaps call them the 'directionless 20-something living in New England' AU. Perhaps there will be more in this 'verse, who knows.
Weymouth and Tilton are on the same commuter line to Boston, so Merlin and Will made all the usual promises to stay in touch. They call each other, saying things like, "We should chill soon," and "Yeah, man, definitely": sincere but quickly forgotten. Will says he'll get a quarter next time Merlin comes down to Tilton for the weekend, and Merlin says if Will comes up to Weymouth, they can take the T into Boston and hit up the bars on Lansdowne Street. Sounds good, they agree. Then they don't do anything. They call each other less and less, and the last time Merlin had any contact with him was to comment on his Facebook wall telling him he looks like a douchebag in his profile photo.
Arthur, like many young men of his sort, feigns fastidiousness but is actually the laziest bastard Merlin has ever met. He grew up accustomed to tidy rooms and spotless surfaces, but never quite acclimated himself to a life without servants. His narration of their squalor have an air of orders to them -- "Those pots and dishes have been sitting there for a week" and "The living room floor is getting really sticky" -- like he expects Merlin to do something about it. Fuck him, Arthur's the one who buys the booze and invites all the people over to drink it (and spill it). Okay, so Merlin ends up drinking lots of the booze too, but it would do Arthur good to do some manual labor anyway.
Merlin stumbles off the train in a haze of smoke. Not literally, but that's what it feels like, in his head. His whole body is saying, "Hey, remember college?" and it makes him feel old. When you're a kid, you think high-schoolers can do anything, and when you're in high school, you think early 20s is already adult. Well, Merlin doesn't feel like an adult. He just feels like a high school freshman who happens to pay his own bills and do his own taxes.
Adults are just faking it. They don't know any better, they just have to pretend like they do. Arthur once compared it to learning to drive in Karachi: you may not know what you're doing on the road, but then you realize no one else does either, and it's liberating -- you can do whatever the hell you want. Well, maybe Arthur feels liberated, but mostly Merlin feels tired. He has outgrown his affections, and he's just waiting for something else to replace it.
Arthur meets him in the commuter parking lot. "How was Tilton?" he asks.
"Same old," Merlin replies, throwing his duffel in the backseat.
Merlin shrugs. "He's doing okay."
"Did you get the quarter?" Arthur asks, checking the mirror before he backs out.
"Fucking christ, yes, I also got all the texts you sent me about it."
They squabble over which radio station to listen to, even though it's only a fifteen minute drive back to their apartment.
"Naw, dudes, for real," Will says. "It was like we were a sandwich, and I was the bread, and she was the ham, and he was like the other bread."
"Did you use condiments?" Arthur says.
"Lots of mayonnaise?" Merlin says.
"You guys are lame," Will replies, as Merlin and Arthur high-five each other.
What has two thumbs and is off to the dining hall. That's right!