Adrienne struggles with her bag and football as she tries to fish out her keys from somewhere between her water bottle and shoes, trying not to drop anything. With a triumphant whoop, she manages to find it and lets herself inside the posh townhouse, dumping everything the moment the door closes behind her. She kicks off her muddy football boots, grimacing at the mess of dirt and grass she’s dragged inside from the park, knowing her dad will complain about it as he always does. Rolling her eyes at the thought, she makes her way to the kitchen and pours herself a glass of milk, gulping it down and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She’s a mess of dried sweat, grass stains and bruises; her muscles are pleasantly sore and she’s still high on the victory of her team. They’d played her, Gwaine and Leon against Perce, Lance and Elyan this time around, and Gwaine had refrained from creating dogpiles left and right long enough to steal the ball from Perce without being flattened to the ground. It had been a good couple of games, and she’s looking forward to meeting up at the pub later, after a long, hot shower.
“Dad!” she calls, putting her glass away in sink for the maid to deal with later, moving through the house to Uther’s study. She knocks, calling out for him again, and opens the door when she hears him granting her entrance with a sharp “Come!”.
“I’m just stopping by to borrow the shower; I’ve been in the park with the knights,” she explains, walking up to his desk and peering down at the book he’s flipping through. “Your place was closer, and I’ll be meeting up with them again later. Want to grab a cup of tea before I go?”
Uther looks up from his reading and pushes his glasses further up his nose, giving her a crooked smile. “Still calling them knights, Adrienne? Hooligans seem more fitting.” He smirks at her when she huffs in protest, waving it off with a hand before continuing. “Never mind. Tea would be lovely. Go get cleaned up and I’ll have Marge prepare it.”
She leaves, Uther following behind her to call for the maid, and swings by the hall to grab her bag – where she has her change of clothes – before she takes the stairs up to the master bathroom. She slips out of her shorts and shirt, grimaces at the smell of her socks when she pulls them off, and breathes easier once her sports bra is off along with her knickers. She feels gritty now, less satisfied and more eager to get clean. The water pressure is amazing, of course, and one of the many things she misses since she moved out to her own flat closer to the University. She’s learned to appreciate having someone deal with making food, doing dishes and laundry, and all those things like cleaning and making sure the fridge and pantry is stocked with edible things. Yet she wouldn’t trade her small shoebox of a flat for anything, even if the heating is unreliable during winter, and the shower leaks water everywhere, and the toilet won’t flush every third time you use it. The freedom is amazing, the feeling of building her own life, and if she tires of eating leftovers she can always drop by here where her dad dotes on her just as much as he lectures and complains.
The mirror is misted up with steam once she steps out of the shower, and she has to wipe it clear with her hand to see herself. She gets her brush from her bag and works through her tangled, blonde hair, working it into a long braid because the only hairdryer that’s ever been in this house was the one she brought with her when she moved out. It’ll take forever to dry, but it’ll have to do. She towels herself off and pulls out her clothes, slipping into a pair of jeans and a soft shirt with a Doctor Who print courtesy of Lance. She puts on some mascara and applies some lip balm to soothe the cracked skin, gathering her dirty clothes and packing her bag before leaving the bathroom. She skips down the stairs and makes her way into the small drawing room, where she finds her father already occupying his favourite chair, while Marge finishes setting out the tray of tea and biscuits.
“Hello sweetie,” she greets her, smiling when Adrienne kisses her cheek in response. “I’ll be in the kitchen if either of you needs anything.”
“Thank you, Marge,” Uther dismisses, gesturing for Adrienne to sit.
“Yeah, thanks,” Adrienne chimes in with a wave good bye, settling down and reaching for the tea to pour a cup for her dad and herself. Marge leaves, and Uther nods in thanks when he is given his cup, leaning back where he sits to regard her.
They pass half an hour making small talk. It’s mostly her dad doing the talking, telling her about his research in between interrogating her on her school and the part-time job she’s thinking of getting. She doesn’t need it; she’s hot enough money to buy a posh flat uptown where all the politicians and famous athletes live. But she’s not the same spoiled teen anymore, the one that attended the best boarding school in Camelot and lived off of her father’s political and social power and fame. She’d spent a year and a half as a volunteer abroad after graduation, before she was off to University, and she’d seen things that had shattered her reality and re-built it into something entirely different. Now she’s almost twenty-three, and trying to make a life for herself that she’ll be happy with and proud of. Part of that is standing on her own two feet, which she tries to explain to her dad, but he has never really approved of the way she’s gone about it. He wants her to be more like her sister, elegant and fearsome socialite Morgana, and she might’ve been if Adrienne didn’t chafe something awful in the world she’s grown up in. If she’s to embark on a quest for power, it won’t be through pretty stones around her neck and hanging off of a man’s arm at a garden party while she discusses polo and cricket like they’re the most riveting things this side of Albion.
She leaves before they can start arguing about it anymore than they already have; shaking off the heavy mood he always leaves her in when he gets started. There’s a dozen or so pints waiting for her with her name on them, and she can’t get there quick enough. The knights are probably there already, and she sends off a text to tell them she’s on her way. She dumps her bag in the boot of her car, and drives off with a wave to Marge where the old maid stands in the doorway. Adrienne’s good mood is already returning, and ends up leaving with a smile.
The Last Dragoon is an old favourite of their group; an old fashioned pub close to the University and the city centre. It’s owned by a cranky old man that speaks in riddles and smokes like it’s his job, glaring at the customers from behind the counter and only serving you once in a blue moon while the employer of the month makes a mess of everything. The Last Dragoon used to go through employers like napkins and no one had really stays long enough to learn more than how to operate the old fashioned cash machine. Currently, however, there are three who have worked there for almost a whole year now – Freya, Will and Edwin – though Adrienne can’t spot the latter when she finally arrives. She’s used to keeping an eye out for Edwin and his wandering hands, having broken his nose just last week, but all she can find is Freya serving up pints while Will cleans a few tables, glaring at Adrienne as per usual ever since she laughed in his face after he asked her out. She’s in luck then, she thinks, because it means it’s Edwin’s night off and less of a chance for a brawl to break out, so long as Freya is the one serving them.
“Hey! Adrienne!” she hears Gwaine call, making her turn towards where their group sits in the far corner, sprawled around two tables pushed together to fit their number of seven. She walks over and makes it eight, settles down between Elena and Leon, and snags an untouched pint from the mass of glasses on the table. There are a few pitchers already half-way empty and she imagines there’s going to be a lot of them by the end of the night.
“Hi losers,” she greets them, slinging an arm over Elena’s shoulder and waving to Gwen where she sits pressed up against Lance. It still hurts a little, watching them together, but it’s gotten better in the last few months and it shows in the way she gets a smile in return, rather than averted eyes, and doesn’t feel like punching something.
“How’s the old tyrant?” Gwaine asks, making her roll her eyes while most of the table sniggers. Her dad’s rather infamous, but she doesn’t take it personally anymore, and plays along.
“Oh still locking up people in the basement to try out his medieval torture implements,” she drawls, taking a sip of beer and enjoying the cool, bitter taste of it. “He’s wanted to try out his new thumbscrews, Gwaine, and keeps demanding I invite you over for Sunday dinner.”
Elena snort-laughs next to her and talks over Gwaine’s protests. “Dear Lord no! Forget the thumbscrews: Sunday dinner with the Pendragons? Now that’s torture!”
Leon rolls his eyes. “That’s because you’re scared shitless of Morgana, El,” he says, to with Gwaine raises his glass for a toast in agreement with Elyan, the loud clink causing them to laugh as beer spills over the edges.
Elena wrinkles her nose that that, but turns back to address Leon with a grim face. “She wants to take me to functions. She wants to put me in dresses. She wants me to drink champagne and mingle. It’s terrifying.” She turns to Adrienne, whining. “Why can’t she be more like you?”
Adrienne shrugs, grinning. “You wouldn’t date her if she was more like me,” she points out, to which Elena grimaces.
“True,” she pouts, but brightens. “At least she doesn’t want me at the Sunday dinners!”
That, Adrienne thinks but doesn’t say, is because Uther has no idea Morgana is a lesbian and has been in a committed relationship for little over than a year. Far be it from Adrienne to lecture her older sister on her life choices, but Adrienne has never been a fan of secrets, not those kinds. She’s been out to their dad as bisexual for two years now. Still, she understands better than anyone why Morgana isn’t, because she’s grown up with Uther too and he’s not a man you’d want around certain kind of people. He’d break sweet, bumbling Elena whose heart is soft and easy to wound, though she’d survive it and overcome it no doubt. She can understand why Morgana wouldn’t want to put her through it, nonetheless.
The group settles into a merry night of chatter and laughter, with a constant flow of beer courtesy of Freya. At one point, Adrienne gets up to use the loo and passes by the counter, behind which Will stands drying glasses while talking to a girl sitting on one of those horrible uncomfortable bar stools. She musters up her most annoyingly charming grin and adds a flirty swing to her hips, coming up close and catching Will’s eye.
“Hoping for a pull tonight, Piglet?” she says, laughing at the poisonous glare she gets in return. The girl he’d been talking to turns to look at her, a bemused expression on her face. She’s a pretty thing, though not in the usual sense of the word. Her cheekbones are too sharp and her ears too big, but her lips are full and her eyes a deep blue. Her hair’s a dark mess of curls Adrienne envies (without a curling iron her own lies flat and heavy), and her skin is delicately pale, like Morgana’s. Adrienne sees her looking in return, and knows she makes a pretty picture herself. The girl looks decidedly unimpressed though, which just won’t do.
“Let me buy you a drink,” she says with a smile, leaning in closer and ignoring the way Will splutters at her. “I’m much better company.”
The girl looks amused, sending a look Will’s way and causing Adrienne to step in even closer to draw back her attention. “I’m sure you think so,” the girl replies with a grin, “But I’m not staying. I just dropped by to say hi to my friend.”
“Who’s standing right here, and would very much like you to fuck off, you posh git,” Will sneers, putting down the glass he’d been drying with a forceful thunk. The girl laughs, which distracts Adrienne from hauling Will over the counter to introduce him to her fist. It’s a nice laugh, she decided, watching the way the girl’s eyes crinkle, flashing golden in the dim light of the pub.
“I could take you home,” Adrienne says, ignoring Will as she waggles her eyebrows and causes the girl to laugh again. Ah, yes, definitely nice. The girl eyes her with an air of speculation, making Adrienne’s stomach flip in excitement, but the moment is ruined when Will mishandles another glass.
“Merlynn, seriously, I told you about that bitch,” he scowls, before turning to Adrienne. “And you, you stay away from my girl, goddamnit! Just go back to your half-wit friends, all right?”
“Your girl?” Adrienne asks in disbelief, looking over at her – Merlynn – with raised brows. She looks annoyed, which Adrienne figures answers that question.
“Not your girl, Will,” Merlynn says before jumping off her seat, taking her handbag which had been on the counter with her. She roots through it while she talks, pulling out a pen. “You shouldn’t go around calling people bitches either. It’s rude. But I’ll see you Sunday, all right?”
She makes a grab for Adrienne’s hand before he can answer, and scribbles down a number on the back of it, sending her a little grin where she’s looking up at her through her lashes. “And I’ll be seeing you soon,” she says, winking, and Adrienne doesn’t even hear what Will’s cursing about; she’s too busy watching that arse leave with a wistful sigh.
“Better luck next time, Wanker,” she says when Merlynn has disappeared through the doors, moving to continue her trek to the bathrooms and ignoring the insults she’s sure he’s throwing her way. She makes a mental note to take care when she washes her hands, and copy the number onto a piece of paper as soon as she gets back to her table. Gwen always carries a small notebook and pen in her purse, anyway.
When she gets back, she’s still got a silly grin on her face which only widens when her friends ask her about it. She hasn’t been on a date since Lance, though she’s had plenty one-night stands, and she pretends she doesn’t see the look of relief in his eyes. She remembers Merlynn’s blue ones instead, and promptly punches Gwaine in the arm when he accuses her of mooning. She does not such thing. She does, maybe, send a text later on just to get a reply, and perhaps she’s grinning a bit stupidly when she reads: ‘I’m trying to sleep you prat. I’ll remember this for your hangover tomorrow. /Merlynn’. As far as days go, this one hasn’t been that bad.
She tries to remember that the next morning, when she wakes up on her couch in only her socks, with pizza on the table and the taste of death in her mouth. Merlynn doesn’t disappoint. ‘Rise and shine! The sun is up and it’s a beautiful day! /Merlynn’.
Unsympathetic, utterly, utterly unsympathetic and evil.
She likes her already.