That's been a thing. And all my noble resolutions to be a good backup mod at cottoncandy_bingo and get my fics for that and trope_bingo (well, I lie, I've done one trope_bingo one) and untold_legends have so far fallen rather by the wayside. And I am really really glad I didn't sign up for rarewomen, because eek. (I may well do treats like I did last year, I just...deadlines. Nope.) But I am back to trying to do better, now. Really. Yep.
As far as untold_legends go, one of the fics I was working on was an Arthur/Freya thing for emjayelle's prompt, and I couldn't quite wrap my brain around the ship, so I decided--okay, last Yuletide there was this fairly charming Disney Princesses crossover fic which took the basic premise of "let's take this ship involving characters who never interacted in canon and stick them into a bunch of AUs where they could have met before actually having them meet in a canon setting" [it's this one, here, "adventure in the great wide somewhere", Belle/Rapunzel, ~3K, rated G, if anyone was wondering]--anyway, so I decided, as an experiment, to try a similar thing with the Arthur/Freya, to see if by chasing the ship into/through a bunch of AUs I could figure out how it worked, because I did have a sense that it would work for me if I could just figure out the way in. (I am frequently that way with other people's darling tinyships, I want it to work but I can't get it to click until I find my own angle.)
So, bad news part one, I am not sure I'm going to be able to do the prompt I'd originally wanted to, and bad news part two I'm also not really sure I am going to finish the experimental fic, and bad news part three I doubt I'll have anything Arthur/Freya ready for the untold_legends deadline.
But. Good news, I have a thing that wants to become a Proper Long Fic With A Plot And Everything--one of the AUs from the experiment that just grew and grew and grew until I had nearly 3K of "AU fragment"--and it involves space assassins and politics! And eventual makeouts, but you know me. I am still trying to wrangle a lot of the details and I may never finish it, but I will try because I very much want to, so.
(Also salvaged from the AU fragment collection: the beginnings of a possible longer story which is Arthur/Freya/Merlin and an arranged marriage. But I am less sure what I'm doing with that one.)
Tragically I'm really fond of the canon-set fragments from the experiment but I don't know what to do with them if they're not part of a larger thing and I am not really sure what else to do with the thing (except that I have a sudden urge to do a Christie-era murder mystery somehow, but like that would go well even in fragment form), so. Have a WIP segment? All one of you who is probably even still reading this? Warning for canonical character deaths.
+0.5 — the one where Arthur is the prince of Camelot and Freya is a cursed druid girl
This is the thing at the heart of all of it:
He’s a bad liar, and he does it out of loyalty and love more often than not, and Arthur has nearly always known—Merlin lies.
Merlin knows where the druid girl is. Merlin probably let her go in the first place, and looking at Halig Arthur is almost tempted to side with Merlin. Almost, not quite, because even the druids were afraid of the girl, and that means she’s a danger to Camelot, and that means that Arthur cannot let her go free any more than he can turn her over to Halig again.
When something starts killing people, he knows for sure. The girl is free, and dangerous, and if Merlin can’t save her she must be stopped.
He and his father and Gaius gather to study the signs of the latest threat to Camelot. Arthur says “Human footprints” and it’s barely half a truth. His father, distracted by the thought of magic, doesn’t ask, and Gaius, incredibly ignorant about hunting and woodcraft, doesn’t think to. Arthur looks at the footprints while they talk, and thinks: probably a full head shorter than he is, by the length; eight stone, if that, by the depth; a grown woman instead of a boy, by the shape. Slight and small and delicate, pretty or pitiful—or both—enough that Merlin in all his raw innocence trusts her unthinkingly. Able to kill effortlessly and leave no tracks behind.
Cursed, Halig had said the druids had told him. Arthur wishes it could matter to him whether or not the girl meant her murders, but it can’t. These are his people she’s slaughtering.
For a few days he hopes that Merlin will do something, find one of the last-minute solutions he’s so good at, especially unhampered by Arthur’s presence, but although every night the patrols find nothing every morning there are more dead.
And then they do find her. For a few heartbeats he sees her as Merlin must have, lovely and terrified and strong beyond belief, until her will fails and a creature out of nightmare hurls itself at them.
He kills her, and regrets it, even before Merlin vanishes and finally comes back quiet and lost. He kills her, and it’s a very long time before he sees her again.
+1 — the one where Freya is the Lady of the Lake, and Arthur was the king of Camelot
It would have been easy to be angry at Arthur for having killed her. Freya has never done the easy thing.
She understands, and that’s what rips the anger cleanly out of her. She who never deserved any of what was done to her as punishment for an act of self-defense cannot blame Arthur Pendragon for the same. She would have killed him, and all his knights, and all the innocent people of Camelot; she couldn’t stop herself. She had tried. He had killed her first.
She watches Camelot from Avalon. Arthur has potential, Arthur could become the king Merlin so clearly believes he might, and Freya finds that she badly wants him to as well.
(But Uther had potential, too. She never knew him then, but she knows; she measures the height of the greatness that might have been his legacy by the depth of the terror that will be.)
Arthur…Arthur is not perfect, which is bitter. Freya arms him anyway, hopes for him anyway.
He could, she finds, be a worse king. What hurts is that he could also have been better, could have been brighter, could have…there are a lot of things he could have done. If he had welcomed magic she would have brought Avalon to meet him; Merlin could have been a bridge, a conduit, everything she can see he was made for—Merlin who wields magic as easily as he breathes could have carried Avalon’s heart to beat again in Albion, if Arthur would only have welcomed it. It would have been glorious. Freya is no seer, but even she can see what would have been. Should have been.
But Arthur settles into his role like any other man who happens to be the son of a king, instead, and finds work and friendship and love like any other man, and is happy, and maybe happiness is all he’d wanted. The golden overlay of the king he could have been—a king who would grow to godlike proportion in legend—shimmers and fades into him, and he is just King Arthur of Camelot.
She is still stunned when he dies.
Camelot is steady in Gwen’s hands. Freya turns away from it for the last time and waits.
It isn’t long before Merlin brings Arthur to her, and even less time before Arthur comes the rest of the way between worlds himself, alone in a way that she thinks he hasn’t been in years.
Soon, she promises Merlin, but he can’t hear her, isn’t listening anyway. Has, maybe, forgotten everything but pain. She means it, though; she won’t leave him out there alone.
Arthur washes up on the shores of Avalon and Freya expects confusion, or maybe anger, but he’s quicker than she’d thought. “This is the afterlife,” he says, carefully, testing the words as he says them.
She expects a Who are you? next. Instead his gaze sharpens, taking her in from wind-tangled hair to bare feet. “I know you,” he says. “You’re—” His eyes widen suddenly in recognition and dismay. “You’re the druid girl Merlin tried to save. I killed you.”
“Merlin did save me,” Freya says.
Arthur gulps. Nods. A little of the shock fades out of his face. He probably has the story wrong inside his head now, but she can correct him later.
“My name is Freya.” She holds out a hand.
He looks at her in surprise for a long moment, then takes it.
(And then a line in that one made me think of a different Arthur/Freya/Merlin thing and so I am also working on that. I seem to have a problem and that problem is threesomes.)
I should stop rambling at my journal and actually do something quasi-useful with my evening, now that we are not having crises and I'm not sick.