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The Shoemaker by fleete (NC-17)

Title: The Shoemaker
Fandom: Merlin BBC
Pairing: Freya/Gwen (brief Arthur/Merlin)
Categories: Historical - Edwardian, reincarnation, AU with magic, romance, action/adventure, drama, cross-dressing, genderqueer, first time
Length: Long (23,645)
Warnings: temporary past character death (reincarnation)

Author on LJ: fleete
Author Website: favicon fleete favicon fleete

Author's summary: Historical magical AU. In turn-of-the-century Glastonbury, Freya Lake is the headmistress of an orphanage for magical children. And despite all the seers’ dire warnings, Freya is happy; her infatuation with the shoemaker’s apprentice—who may or may not be a girl underneath his shirt and trousers—is slowly coming to a head. But then a woman claiming to be Morgan Le Fay shows up on the orphanage steps, demanding to see Emrys, and Freya is forced to rearrange her priorities.

Review:
Freya is a great character here, reserved and hard working, with her orphanage to run and her heart in the right place, but without seeming too good to be true. The bright and nerve wracking highlight of her day is the enigmatic Shoemaker's apprentice, who keeps tucking little favors into the shoes Freya buys. Though the apprentice is dressed as a man, Freya knows there's a secret there.

Gwen is beautifully written too; she's very individual, knowing what she wants and how she feels, even though it doesn't fit gender preconceptions, especially in 1905, and her surprise that she can be herself and still have a chance to win the woman she loves is just right.

Fleete gives us a little village from another era: the little shops decked for Yule and the stodgy council with its arguing elders. Then there's the suspense of the growing magical danger, which begins with a visit from Morgana and has everything to do with Merlin and Arthur, who play supporting roles. The whole thing feels very unique, and it's lovely to read.
(Shout out to marguerite_26 whose journal led me to a story I probably wouldn't have found otherwise.)

The Shoemaker

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Short: under 2,000 words
Medium: 2,000-15,000 words
Long: 15,000-40,000 words
Epic: 40,000-100,000 words
Super Epic: 100,000+ words

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