Pairing/Characters: Arthur/Merlin, Morgana, Gwen
Summary: Morgana asks Gwen a favor. Watch over Merlin and Arthur for her while she's away.
AN: Right, so... if I'm not turning them into fairies, they're cats instead. Just go with it, yeah? Let's pretend my issues are being resolved.
“Ok,” Morgana LeFey was saying to her close friend Gwen. “It’s not really hard, they keep to themselves mostly. I’ve written down everything you need to know. Are you ready to meet them?” Gwen regarded her friend with a smile. “They’re just cats, Morgana,” she said calmly. “How hard could this be?” Morgana didn’t reply, choosing instead to lead her friend into her home. Almost immediately a silky black cat approached the dark haired, glamorous girl and rubbed up against her ankles. “This is Merlin,” Morgana told the other girl. “He’s very friendly and always curious – you can usually pet him. Just –“ But Gwen had stopped listening at “you can pet him” and had dropped to her knees, stroking Merlin’s fur and making him purr. “Watch out!” Gwen was pulled up and away from Merlin rather harshly. “What? Why?” She asked, staring down at the cat – which was looking up at her with a very sad expression.
“That’s why,” Morgana said grimly. She was pointing across the room where a yellow cat was glaring at them. “Arthur. He won’t let you pet him, don’t even try. He hates strangers. Most importantly though, he thinks that Merlin is his, and only his. Don’t ever pet Merlin if Arthur is around.”
Gwen stared at the cat in bewilderment. “Seriously?”
Almost as though answering her, Arthur stalked across the room – his eyes locked on her – and placed himself between the two girls and Merlin. He hissed a little bit, while Merlin sat back on his haunches and concentrated on cleaning his paws.
“Gwen, I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to run.” Morgana looked between the cats and her friend one more time before lowering herself to her knees. “Alright listen up you,” she said, placing one hand under Arthur’s chin. “I’m counting on you to look after Merlin. You know he’s more likely to get himself lost or do something silly.”
Merlin’s tail slapped against the ground while Arthur’s ears twitched.
“And you,” she said, running one hand down Merlin’s back. “Make sure that Arthur doesn’t eat too much. I don’t want to have to put him back on the special Thin-Cat diet. He’s not allowed to eat the neighbors’ birds or to attack their dogs either – I don’t care how much noise they make.”
Merlin grinned as much as a cat could; while Arthur’s stiff posture slouched a little in distaste.
Morgana stood up back up. “The guest bedroom is upstairs on the left; their food is in the laundry room. They like to be inside and, don’t worry if you don’t see them at all. It’s all on the instructions I’ve left you – thanks so much Gwen, you’re a life saver.”
Seconds later, Gwen was left alone in Morgana’s spacious home with one suspicious cat and one attention seeking cat for the next two weeks.
Gwen regarded her friend with a smile. “They’re just cats, Morgana,” she said calmly. “How hard could this be?”
Morgana didn’t reply, choosing instead to lead her friend into her home.
Almost immediately a silky black cat approached the dark haired, glamorous girl and rubbed up against her ankles. “This is Merlin,” Morgana told the other girl. “He’s very friendly and always curious – you can usually pet him. Just –“
But Gwen had stopped listening at “you can pet him” and had dropped to her knees, stroking Merlin’s fur and making him purr.
Gwen was pulled up and away from Merlin rather harshly. “What? Why?” She asked, staring down at the cat – which was looking up at her with a very sad expression.
This is what Morgana left for Gwen on the refrigerator. It was stuck with a picture of the two cats sleeping by the false-front fire place in the living room.
Merlin and Arthur’s Care Needs
Food: Merlin and Arthur share a bowl of food. One scoop a day, in the morning. This might not seem like a lot, but Arthur likes to “hunt” in the yard and they often come home spitting out feathers. The cat food (I’ve bought an extra bag, just in case) is in the laundry room, in the cupboard over the dryer. The combination to the lock is 12-7-23. This might seem a bit extreme, but Arthur is a sneaky bastard and will eat the whole bag if he can. I usually wait for Arthur to finish eating and then give a little extra to Merlin (Arthur is a food thief, through and through).
Water: Because it’s so hot outside, make sure the water bowls are always full. There are three in the house, and two outside. Inside the bowls are located on the kitchen floor, laundry room (by the food bowl) and in the upstairs bathroom, by the sink. The outside bowls are by the front and back doors. Merlin gets thirsty a lot, so make sure these bowls always have fresh, clean water. (I think Arthur drools while he drinks, because Merlin never drinks after Arthur and will instead use a different bowl.) Arthur likes to drink from the Bamboo plant in the kitchen. Merlin drinks water from the tub. These are fine. (Just make sure you rinse out the tub after you use it, and keep the bamboo plant in water.)
Treats: I do have cat treats for them. They’re kept with the food in the laundry room. Merlin is allowed one treat at bedtime, every night. This is because he doesn’t scratch random strangers. Arthur is only allowed a treat if he hasn’t stolen food from Merlin, knocked over any of the water dishes, scratched any strangers, you, Merlin, or the furniture. Always tell him why he doesn’t get a treat. Also – Merlin likes to share his treats with Arthur. DON’T LET HIM!
Litter Box: Of course so much food must go somewhere. The litter box is outside by the shed. It needs to be changed every few days or so. If you don’t change the litter, beware! They will go in the house. (If this happens, no treats!)
Fur Balls: Because Arthur is a vain little bastard, he tends to cough up lots of fur balls. (Merlin doesn’t mind jumping in the shower with me, so he doesn’t tend to hack and wheeze like Arthur does.) Arthur generally does his hacking outside, but sometimes he’ll do it in the house. Just throw them away.
Outside behavior: Merlin and Arthur are allowed to go outside. They can be outside as long as they want; however, they must come in for bedtime. They always go out together, and they always come in together. If Arthur shows up without Merlin (or vice versa), there is a problem and you MUST find the other. It usually means one has been hurt. Or that Merlin got lost while chasing a butterfly and Arthur couldn’t be arsed to find him. (If this happens, Arthur doesn’t get a treat at night for two days.) Arthur likes to tease the dogs next door, and to hunt the birds in the next house over. Merlin usually stops him, but if the neighbors come over complaining, pretend you aren’t there. Also, there is a stray that comes around sometimes. You’re not likely to see him, but I call him Lancelot. He’s a tabby that’s taken quite a liking to Merlin. As you probably can guess, Arthur hates him. Just shoo him away, it usually works. Don’t let him in the house.
Inside behavior: Normally if they’re inside, it means that one of the dogs next door got loose, or that Merlin is tired. They’re not allowed to scratch the furniture or anything that isn’t a scratching post. (There are three such posts in the house. One is in the bedroom, one in the living room, one in the laundry room.) They are allowed to go anywhere in the house, but make sure that they’re not hiding dead animals (usually mice or birds) under anything. Arthur fancies himself an expert hunter and often brings his kill’s home.
Play: There are lots of play toys for them in the laundry room. Arthur likes the stick with the fluffy thing on the end, and the mouse that winds up and runs across the floor. Merlin will play with anything. The more they play the better (Arthur has a weight problem, so make sure he plays as much as possible).
Bedtime: It probably seems silly for them to have a bedtime, but they must be inside by ten. If they get treats, by ten fifteen. They’re usually pretty good at getting home (Arthur just wants his treat – Merlin follows him everywhere). They sleep in my bed, usually. But I don’t know what they do if I’m not there. If they curl up with you, you can push them away or let them. It depends on how you feel. Don’t be surprised if Arthur gives you a cold shoulder though.
Merlin: Merlin is very friendly and loves attention. If you’ll let him he’ll curl up on your lap, sneak into the shower with you, and sleep on your pillow. He loves being pet and he adores being talked to. Sometimes he’ll get protective of Arthur (if he thinks Arthur deserves a treat, for example) and do his best to make him happy. If you make sure that Merlin is happy, you won’t have a lot of problems. Also, sometimes weird things happen around Merlin. Don’t worry about it – the vet says he’s normal.
Arthur: If you’re on Merlin’s good side, you’ll be on Arthur’s, generally. However, Arthur doesn’t like to be touched or pet. And he doesn’t like anybody touching Merlin either. Merlin is his and only he gets to play with him. If Arthur isn’t around or has decided not to get up, feel free to play with Merlin all you want. Just keep an eye out for Arthur, he likes to sneak up on people and scratch their ankles. Arthur is also afraid of thunder. Keep him inside if it starts raining, and stay away. Merlin usually comforts him.
Off Limits: Arthur and Merlin are not allowed to:
Claw the furniture, pillows etc. (Snags don’t count. Merlin’s claws get snagged a lot; you might need to rescue him.)
Bring dead animals into the house. (Usually Arthur will try to do this.)
Have extra food. (Again, Arthur)
Torment the neighborhood animals. (They have a double act going on, I swear.)
They’ve had all their shots.
Thanks so much Gwen, you don’t know how much I appreciate this. I’ll be back in two weeks. If you have any questions at all, call me!
The first week that Gwen spent taking care of the two cats was a disaster. Her heart was too soft and she wasn’t cunning enough to give Merlin the love he needed without Arthur taking a swipe at her. She was also pretty sure that Arthur was eating all the food and knocking over each and every water dish, just to spite her.
Merlin was an angel. Arthur was a devil.
Gwen didn’t really appreciate taking her shower in the morning with a furry friend staring up at her. She especially didn’t like the cold glare she would get from Arthur after leaving the bathroom with a sopping wet (but exceedingly happy) Merlin. Each time Gwen didn’t catch Merlin in time to prevent the cat from joining her in the shower, both cats disappeared for about an hour afterwards. She was pretty sure Arthur was grooming both of them during this time, making sure Merlin knew to whom he was supposed to be giving attention to.
After Gwen returned from work she would fix herself dinner, defend it from Arthur, and put in a movie. The two cats would generally go outside for the rest of the evening, but occasionally Merlin would wait for Arthur to go out before curling up on her knees and accepting tidbits from her dinner.
Arthur would yowl at them from the window.
It was on the first day of the second week that Gwen ran into a real problem. She had been sitting on the back porch, enjoying the evening with a good book, when Arthur jumped up next to her and nudged her with his head.
Then he rushed off. Gwen stared at the streak of yellow disappearing around the house for a moment, before returning her attention to her book. Moments later, Arthur was back, this time showing her his claws.
He seemed to be saying, “follow me or else”.
Gwen quickly put down her book at followed.
Merlin had somehow gotten himself stuck in a tree in the park just down the road. Worse than that, there were three dogs tied up underneath the tree, their owners nowhere in sight. Interestingly, the dogs completely ignored Arthur, who was well within reach, and kept their focus on Merlin.
When the black cat caught site of his new person, he meowed pathetically.
The dogs barked.
“Merlin,” Gwen called up at the cat in the tree, “Merlin, come down.”
Merlin mewled pathetically again and seemed to cling a little tighter to his branch.
The girl sighed. “Merlin, if you come down I’ll give you an extra treat tonight.”
Merlin didn’t seem very interested in this bribe, so Gwen tried again.
“If you come down, I’ll give Arthur an extra treat tonight.”
Arthur’s ears twitched at this, and he mewed softly, hopefully. He crept a little closer to Gwen, rubbing her ankles and mewing softly, looking up into the branches at Merlin. “Please,” Gwen could almost hear him saying, “Please, please, please!”
Merlin – Gwen swore it was true – rolled his eyes and dropped out of the tree. His claws scratched Gwen a little as she caught him and hurried him away from the yapping dogs, but he appeared to be mostly unhurt.
That night, as promised, Arthur got two treats instead of one. And both cats curled up on her pillow, purring contentedly.
The next morning Merlin happily followed her into the bathroom, and just before the door shut, Arthur sullenly followed. Though the black cat had no shame in following Gwen into the tub for a morning shower, Arthur preferred to give himself a bath a bit closer to the door.
The night on the phone, Morgana told her that it meant Arthur liked her.
A few days later a tabby showed up. Gwen correctly guessed that this was Lancelot. The tabby was sitting by the back door when Gwen showed up in the kitchen to make breakfast. It mewed happily as Merlin appeared down the stairs after her.
Merlin darted to the door, scratching at the glass, looking between the cat and Gwen, hoping to be let out. Gwen however, was standing at the refrigerator, staring at the note Morgana had left behind.
“Hah! No,” Gwen said. “Arthur hates Lancelot and you know it.”
Merlin meowed pathetically, looking at her with sad eyes.
“Sorry darling, no go. He’s going to be up soon and if he finds you nuzzling up with some other cat, I’m going to be the one to pay.” Gwen went back to preparing her breakfast.
Moments later the door slid open and Merlin was gone. It was of course, the exact moment that Arthur appeared down the stairs. The blond cat hissed and darted out the door, his tail thrashing angrily.
Later that night the two cats returned. Neither looked happy. Merlin chose to sleep in Morgana’ bed. Arthur kept a vigilant eye on the back door, just in case Lancelot returned.
Lancelot didn’t return.
The next day Merlin snubs Arthur through breakfast, and disappears out the door that had been closed moments before. Arthur droops a little bit, looking up at Gwen unhappily. There’s still food in the bowl, a clear sign that Arthur is upset.
“I should think it’s obvious why he’s upset,” the girl tells the cat. “He’s allowed to have friends.”
Arthur sniffs at this, batting at a toy that’s been collecting dust.
“Arthur,” Gwen says, kneeling down and baring her lap for the cat. For once, Arthur curls up and accepts comfort. “He adores you, it must be clear to you that he does. But sometimes you have to let the ones you love do as they wish. You can’t rescue Merlin from friendship.”
Arthur mewls at her; his ears still a bit drooped.
“I’m sure he adores you more than Lancelot,” Gwen told him.
She tried not to think of the same conversation she had had with Merlin that morning in the shower.
Apparently feeling he’s let her pet him enough, Arthur gets up and runs out the door.
That night, the two cats come into the house together, frisking and playing like they hadn’t been in a fight that morning.
“And no more opening the door on your own, thank you,” Gwen scolded Merlin while feeding the two breakfast. The black cat twitched its tail a bit, acknowledging that she had spoken.
Morgana arrives home that night and both cats are pleased. Merlin more than Arthur, understandably, but they’re both pleased.
“They weren’t any trouble were they?” Morgana asked. “I know I spoil them like children, but-“
“No,” Gwen said with a smile. “I completely understand.”
They were sitting on the couch with their dinners on their laps, watching an old black and white film. Merlin crept up and sat himself on Gwen’s knees, waiting for the tidbits that would inevitably come his way, while Arthur rested himself on Gwen’s side. Content to watch Merlin snack, and nibble on his own (though smaller) tidbits.
“They really seem to like you,” Morgana said in amazement. “Arthur usually hates the house sitters I get.”
“Well, you said it in your note,” Gwen replied with a smile, “keep Merlin happy, and Arthur will be happy too. So that’s what I did.”