I'd stopped reading much, if any Merlin
fanfiction even before the show ended, not least because of my "Where is the Gwen of it?" problem. I.e. if the stories in question are Merlin/Arthur, which most of them are, Gwen is either conveniently handed over to Lancelot and shows up for two lines or so otherwise, or doesn't show up at all; if, otoh, the story actually is Gwen centric, then chances are the guys are treated as the enemy while Morgana's deeds are handwaved and Gwen ends up paired with her, which, after all Morgana put Gwen through, no. In either case, one of my favourite things about the show, the friendship between Gwen and Merlin, is roundly ignored. Luckily, all of this is relatively easy to spot by the summaries, so I know what to stay away from. In this year's Paperlegends
, I spotted a tale where the summary tentatively gave me hope, started to read the story, and was very glad I did. For starters, not only is it Gwen centric, it's a Gwen centric adventure story in which she's the heroine. Secondly, the central relationship in it is in fact the friendship between Gwen and Merlin. Ignore the shipping tags, or rather, don't, because they're accurate in as much as to who has sex with whom, but this is a story where friendship and family relationships are treated as key in terms of screen, err, page time, not the romances. Thirdly, this is a story that uses two favourite fandom concepts - reincarnation/immortality and time travel - in ways I hadn't seen before, which comes with the Gwen centric territory. It's set in two eras - the present, where the long term repercussions of Morgana tearing the veil between living and dead in the s4 opener cause the zombie apocalypse and reincarnated Gwen, Gwaine and Elena run into still-around-because-he's-immortal Merlin, and the past, where present-day reincarnated Gwen, courtesy of Merlin and magical time travel, tries to stop Morgana before said veil tearing can occur.
(Also: because Gwen in her present day incarnation doesn't meet Arthur until relatively late in the story and knows Merlin is in love with him before she ever meets him in either time line, I have no problem with her not being in love with him. It feels fair, whereas before I stopped reading fanfic, often the way the canonical Arthur/Gwen relationship was just handwaved away, or the feelings on either part declared to be false felt like the typical fannish get-that-woman-out-of-the-way-of-my-slas
h irritation I resent with increasing fervour. But seriously, who ends up with whom is so not what this story is about. Everyone is trying to save the world, as they should.)
So, if you, like me, are on the lookout for a Gwen centric adventure which is also a good ensemble story (Merlin, Gwaine, Elena and Elyan are all very well drawn, and though he makes only short appearances in either timeline, so is Arthur), you'll enjoy this: Waking Up to Ash & Dust
(45060 words) by oflittleuse
Fandom: Merlin (TV)
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death
Relationships: Merlin/Arthur Pendragon (Merlin), Elena/Gwaine (Merlin)
Characters: Gwen (Merlin), Gaius (Merlin)
Additional Tags: Zombie Apocalypse, Time Travel, Alternate Universe - Modern Setting
There is only one way to stop a zombie apocalypse - you need one reincarnated Queen, a living dead King and an immortal sorcerer. Mix in some terminator-style time-travel and the darkest of magic. Of course, before stopping the apocalypse you need to survive it first.