AO3 ID: 4647243
Status: Complete (10 Chapters)
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Warning: Mature Audience for slash and basically all the things, consider yourself warned (but it’s such a good story!)
Two boys have grown up in an alternate United Kingdom, one in which magic is real but where magic users are viewed with distrust and are treated as second-class citizens. Merlin Emrys is a powerful magic user, one who has hidden the extent of his power for years and who has in recent years as an adult become a leader of the political movement in favor of greater rights for Magicals. Arthur Pendragon has spent his entire life under his father’s oppressive thumb, being fed a Magic-hating propaganda he’s only ever half believed. Now, with an important vote to give Magicals greater freedoms on the horizon, Arthur has been tasked to kidnap Merlin in the hopes of stalling the vote. Only, he never counted on Merlin being so . . . Merlin.
In Spite of Everything, the Stars is one of those stories that hits hard and sticks with you long after you’ve read it. The prose is beautiful and moving, and mushroomtale’s art is just gorgeous. We’re given a story that, on the surface, is a moving story about magic and about these two young men in an impossible situation who manage to roll with in and eventually find love and purpose and hope in spite of it all. But underneath all that, we’ve also got this powerful metaphor for minority rights and social justice that goes way beyond this imagined AU society and reaches to present-day issues in our own world. Having said that, I’m not typically a Merthur shipper (I’m actually pretty hard-core Arwen and Freylin, actually), but in this context, with the other issues being presented, it feels an appropriate ship. Also, fair warning that this story involves some pretty messed up stuff–kidnapping’s just the tip of the iceberg here–but it’s the endurance and courage of these two characters through all of this that makes the story so beautiful. So yeah, definitely recommended, if only for mature readers.
Note: You can find In Spite of Everything, the Stars at https://archiveofourown.org/works/4647243/chapters/10599906.