Freeze on the Stones by Robin4 (NC-17)

  • Oct. 11th, 2015 at 9:09 PM
Title: Freeze on the Stones
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Pairing: Belle/Rumplestiltskin, Emma/?, Regina/?
Categories: Drama, AU, For Want Of A Nail, Darker and Grittier, Romance, Family, Redemption
Length:  Super-Epic (635 000 words)
Warnings: Non-con, Torture, lots of non-consensual things going on, violence, a couple of the more evil characters die

Author Website: Robin 4 on AO3 or Robin 4 on fanfiction.net


Author’s Summary:
One choice can change fate. Regina chooses love, Snow stays silent, and Cora casts the curse. Rumplestiltskin knows that trusting Cora with that much power is dangerous—but he has no choice if he wants to find his son. 28 years later, Gold and Regina awaken in Storybrooke and must work together to make the Savior believe.
Yes, this Storybrooke is far darker than the one you know.


Regarding the warnings:
A theme that comes up several times in Freeze on the Stones is the nature of consent and responsibility. Multiple characters are magically mind-controlled in various ways and encouraged or forced to harm or betray others. The different approaches and the different ways characters deal with it are interesting, but unflinching.

If you’re not comfortable with reading about people being trapped or forced into doing things, I’d definitely advise giving this fic a miss. None of the bad stuff is romanticised, but a lot of it is graphic. (Also, two men become better people because they are in love with good women. Which seems like a rather dodgy message to me.)


Review:
Freeze on the Stones assumes knowledge of canon. I would expect someone unfamiliar with canon to find the characters and circumstances hard to follow. However, the story takes the time to develop the characters it focuses on, so a basic grasp of the TV series is definitely enough to get you through.

Despite being a very long story, Freeze on the Stones is actually relatively fast-paced. It follows multiple people at any point and generally gives them one scene a chapter for the length of their story arc. Unusually for this style of writing, I only rarely found one story arc less compelling than the others. All the scenes were all well-written enough to be compelling, even when I didn’t particularly care for the main characters.

As you have probably gathered, this is a for want of a nail alternate universe, which explores what might have happened had it been Cora who cast the curse that created Storybrooke. While the result is very recognisable - the same characters in the same area in similar circumstances - there are many fascinating reversals from canon Season 1.

One of the more interesting themes it explores is Rumplestiltskin’s relationship with power. In canon, he feels extremely powerless without his magic, despite having sufficient money, reputation and blackmail to unquestionably be the most powerful person in town. In Freeze on the Stones, he is faced with a mayor who has the magical knowledge and viciousness to threaten him. It’s enjoyable to watch him deal with both that and a more equal relationship with the heroes.

Regina’s story is not about choosing between power and the people who love her, but about endlessly attempting to save the people she loves from her mother. It makes for less character development, as Regina simply ages to be more confident and caring. However, she is more active as a hero than a villain, so we still get a good look at her character and it is hard not to feel for her quiet sadness, calm compassion and desperate need to protect those she loves.

Freeze on the Stones at AO3
Freeze on the Stones at ff.net


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