Pairing: Arthur/Merlin with some background Gwen/Lancelot and Morgana/Will.
Word count: 44,200
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing, I just have fun gay-ifying things whilst playing in other people’s sandboxes.
Summary: In Albion Zoo, keepers and students don’t mix and head of the mammal department, Arthur Pendragon, is happy to keep it that way. But when one research student by the name of Merlin Emrys arrives and shows no regard for Arthur’s unwritten rules of socialising, Arthur’s life is turned upside down, and he’s forced to take his view of life up to reconsideration.
In which there is sibling snark, matchmaking otters, neighbours who are a bit too preoccupied with the idea of destiny, possessive best friends, drunken nights out and proof that maybe some things are indeed meant to be. Basically it’s a rom-com, with animals. But not like that.
Notes: Written for paperlegends. Now, I used to work as a zookeeper, so a lot of how things are run in Albion Zoo is taken from my own personal experience. Other zoos probably run things differently, so please take that into consideration when reading if you suddenly think ‘wtf, that ain’t how things work!’
I did work in a zoo that collaborated with students, though I have taken a few liberties as to how things work in this fic, compared to how things worked in the zoo I was at. The degrees Merlin and Will study are semi-made up, and semi-researched. I’ve done some pick-and-mix from various degrees from various universities, but I’ve tried to keep it as close to reality as possible. Basically, I’ve done as much research as I could, and then combined factual knowledge with artistic freedom. I hope I haven’t messed things up too bad!
Oh, also, an example of what a gator is can be seen here ;)
Thank you’s: Oh man, where to start.
lemniciate, for being the one to plant the first seed of a zoo AU in my head. Our trip to London Zoo will forever hold an extra special place in my heart bb, hahah ♥ Also for beta-ing the first draft and for being my cheerleader and drill sergeant and making me believe in myself. I love you, a stupid amount.
sequinedfairy for constantly waving the pom-poms and supporting the idea of a zoo AU. YOU're awesome ;)
nahara for providing me with powerpoint shows with cheerfulness and looooong AIM convos with loads of flailing and freaking-out and for telling me I could do it. It means the world, darling.
tourdefierce for being one of the first to help me even decide on the zoo AU and for constantly proving to be a pillar of support and comfort whenever I needed it and for being my personal drill sergeant and giving me loving but swift kicks up the backside whenever necessary. I couldn't have done it without you.
glitterdash for stepping up to the plate and offering a second pair of beta eyes as well as convincing me to add the epilogue and then betaing that as well. You saved this, my lovely. Truly.
the_muppet for even making all this possible and reinstating excitement whenever I felt too overwhelmed by it all.
Honourable mentions to staraflur, mariana_oconnor, gnimaerd, kuteki, auroraprimavera, wickednotevil, magic_at_mungos and everyone over at paperpushers for helping make this a lovely experience and providing support and cheerleading and loving when I needed it. You're all fantastic and this has been one hell of a ride!
And last but certainly not least, huuuuge thank you and my enternal gratitude and amazement to my artist, feyuca! It was a pleasure to work with you! :)
All there's left to say now, is that I hope you enjoy the story! Any mistakes that might be left are entirely my own.