You know what would be cool? A Hades and Persephone-esque AU where Scanlan got to use his Wish, and managed to bargain with the Raven Queen. Vax spends half the year with her, and half with VM. I’d read the hell out of that.
Alternate Universe (also known as alternate reality), is commonly abbreviated as AU and it is a descriptor used to characterize fanworks which change one or more elements of the source work’s canon. The term most often refers to fanfiction, but fanart can also depicted the characters in AUs.
Unlike regular fanfiction, which generally remains within the boundaries of the canon set out by the author, alternate universe fiction writers like to explore the possibilities of pivotal changes made to characters’ history, motivations, or environment.
Alien Invasion AU – In which the story deals with an alien invasion when canonically it does not ever happened.
All Human AU– In which characters who are canonically non-human are now humans, with corresponding changes to their backstories.
Alpha/Beta/Omega AU – Often referred to as A/B/O or even Omegaverse. It is a growing trope of AUs originated in kinkmemes in which characters can be Alphas (dominant males or females), Betas (ordinary working class), or Omegas (submissive males or females).
Ancient Egypt AU – It is also known as Pharaoh AU and in this AU the canon story is replace with the setting of Ancient Egypt. The characters are mostly still themselves, but they are either a part of the royal family, servants to the royal family, normal citizens or all of above.
Android AU – In which the main character or most of the cast are turn into androids that serve different purposes, such as bodyguard, solider, caregiver and so on. In other cases it becomes something similar to Absolute Boyfriend (also known as Zettai Kareshi) where they are mail order androids that can be order online or from a cataloged. If not, they may have originally been human but turn into an android for whatever reason.
Angel/Demon AU – When angels and demons exist (in the case of canons that don’t have them) or a character is recast as one of them. However, these kind of AUs don’t necessarily have to have both beings in the story as some tend to focus on only one of them.
Arranged Marriage AU – Similar to the Marriage Law AU, only the difference is that not all the characters are required to be married. It is mostly focused on only one pairing and it is usually a pairing that wouldn’t normally get together such as crack ships or doomed ships. In some stories it is a plausible idea, but in others it is not.
Atlantis AU – Is not to be confused with Undersea AU. In this AU the characters from a fandom are placed into the setting of Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
Avatar AU – Is also known as Bending AU (not to be confused with Na'vi AU) is an AU that
puts the characters into the world of
Avatar: The Last Airbender and/or The Legend of Korra. This AU gained popularity due to the concept of the characters being able to manipulate one of the four elements.
Baby AU – When the entire cast or most of them are reverted into children or babies. Usually one of the characters is still an adult that takes care of them until they figure out how to change them back into adults again.
Bakery AU – When most of the cast of a story works at a bakery while the rest are customers.
BDSM AU – Is when the entire cast is either a dominant or a submissive and BDSM relationships are considered the norm. Be advised that while a healthy BDSM relationship is consensual and not dangerous, if handled incorrectly it can result in abusive behavior which is offensive and considered bad BDSM etiquette.
Bookstore AU – When most of the casts works at a bookstore. If not, usually a few of the characters work there, while the rest of them are customers. Another version is the Library AU, in which one or two of the characters are librarians, while the rest of the cast spend their time looking for particular books to read or for information.
Business AU – In which the story is set in a building and the characters are employees. Sometimes it is focus on one character who works as a secretary and another character as their boss.
Circus AU – In which the story is set in a circus and the characters are circus performers or customers.
Coffee Shop AU – Also known as
Barista AU. In most cases, one half of the main pairing is the barista and the other is or becomes their favorite customer; in some stories the whole cast works at a coffee shop.
Crime AU – In which the characters of a story are various type of criminals, such as
burglars, bank robbers, gangsters, drug dealers, smugglers, hitman/fixer and so on. This AU focuses on their criminal lives. It is similar to the Mafia AU.
Dance AU – Is an AU that has
one or two characters that have a passion or interest for dancing. They go out to clubs or join a dance studio to learn. Or they own a dance studio and prefer to teach it. Sometimes the entire cast are students of a dance school.
Darkside AU – Is when the canon villain of the story succeeded in their ultimate mission or goals and the AU story focuses on the outcome of it. For example: In Harry Potter, what would happen if Voldemort had won? Or what if
Tom Riddle had been successful in sucking out all the life energy from Ginny and had come back alive?
Desert island AU – Or an uninhabited island AU, in which a character or most of the characters of a story are trapped on a deserted island, usually from being shipwrecked or their plane crashing.
Dystopian AU – Is set in a dystopian society that is not the original setting of the canon.
Fairy Tale AU – In which canon characters are put into situations and/or settings from Disney’s fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, etc. Other times it’s uses the Grimm’s fairy tales versions, which is a much more darker.
Fake/Pretend RelationshipAU – Is also known as Fake Dating AU (or Fake Marriage AU). Is when two characters are throw together in extended proximity and then explore the hidden, or not so hidden, feelings that develop. This AU covers all sorts of pretenses; marriages of convenience, undercover identities, investigations, financial schemes, immigration schemes, high school reunion dates, wedding dates, making someone jealous, and so on.
Fantasy AU – In which the story takes place in a fantasy universe where magic or magical abilities is normal, technology is nonexistent and supernatural creatures exist.
Flower Shop AU – Similar to the Coffee Shop AU and the Bakery AU, but instead the entire cast works in a flower shop. Or one of the characters works there and the rest are customers.
Genderswap AU – In which one or more characters in the story switch binary sexes, such as depicting a male character as a cis woman.
Ghost AU – Is also known as Paranormal AU. In which one of the characters is a ghost and they
haunt the location of where they were killed or whoever disturbed their resting place.
But them being a ghost doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re dead. Sometimes a character may appear as a ghost, but is actually alive and in a coma. Other times they are truly dead, but can be bought back to life with magic. Or they may be able to possess another character’s body permanently, instead of temporarily.
Ghostbusters AU – In this AU the characters from another fandom are portrayed as either ghosts or the people that “bust” them.
Hanahaki Disease AU – In which everything is still canon, except an fictional disease known as Hanahaki exists within it. Those that catch the disease coughs up flower petals when they suffer from one-sided love. Their lungs get filled with the flowers and their respiratory system grows roots. They choke on their own blood and petals, and die. It can be cured through surgical removal, but when the infection is removed, the victim’s romantic feelings for their love also disappear.
Sometimes this also removes the victim’s ability to ever love again. Another way to be cured of it is for the object of the victim’s love returns their affections, thus making the love no longer unrequited.
Harem AU – Or Reverse Harem AU is when a story that doesn’t contain any polygamous or love triangle relationships turns into one. Usually the main character has something happen to them that attracts the other characters to them, be it from a love potion, experimental perfume, spell gone wrong, and so on.
Haunted House AU – Or Haunted Castle AU, in which a character moves into a new home or castle and doesn’t know that it is haunted (usually by a ghost, sometimes a demon or some other type of creature) or they are dared by their friends to spend the night in it.
High School/College AU – In which the characters are shown in high school or in college together. They are often done with characters who canonically meet later in life, altering or entirely overwriting their original backstories. Similar to this AU is the Boarding School AU and the Elementary School AU.
Hogwarts AU – In which the characters from other stories are placed into the setting of Harry Potter. These can be coexistent with Harry Potter canon, or ignore it entirely. But they are often portrayed as students of Hogwarts instead of teachers that work there.
Hospital AU – In which the characters of a story are doctors, nurses and patients in a hospital (sometimes it is set in an asylum).
Host Club AU – Or Hostess Club AU, is an AU based off Ouran High School Host Club. It focuses more on the idea of the male characters of a fandom forming or joining a Host Club to earn money by catering and entertaining women. These clubs are distinguished from strip clubs in that there is no dancing, prostitution, or nudity.
Hooker AU – Where one or more of the characters is a sex worker. The more common is the Pretty Woman-type fantasy of a hooker with a heart of gold, rescued from life on the streets by a client. Sex work of all kinds is portrayed: brothels, escorts, street prostitution, “call-girls” as well as strippers and go-go boys.
Most of the time one character of the pairing is the hooker and the other the client, though some stories have both characters as prostitutes (sometimes along with other canon characters, in either a brothel-type setting or living on the streets).
Hunger Games AU – In which characters from other stories are competitors in the Hunger Games.
Ice Cream ShopAU – When the casts works at an ice cream shop. Possibly one of the characters owns it, while the rest are employees or customers.
Law Enforcement/Military AU – In which the cast are policeman, federal agents, soldiers, marines or whatnot and the story focuses on their lives.
Mafia AU – In which the characters are in a mafia.
Magic AU – Incorporate magic in stories where there is no magic present in canon.
Marriage Law AU – It spawn from the Marriage Law Challenge in the Harry Potter fandom, in which the premise is to forced marriage between a Muggle-born to a Pure-blood (or Half-Blood) due to a new decree passed by the Ministry of Magic to help preserve the magical population.
Master/Slave AU – In which the cast are place in an universe where slavery is an accepted economic and cultural institution. Some stories treat this as a significant moral problem to be resisted and overthrown if possible; others treat slavery as an unchangeable institution.
Merpeople AU – Or also known as Undersea AU, in which a story is set in the ocean (or a large lake) and the characters are turned into mermaids and merman. Sometimes it’s focus on only one character that becomes a mermaid/merman and another character that is human. When it’s the latter the AU usually turns into a Little Mermaid type of story. The characters are sometimes Cecaelia (a race of sea beings with an upper body of a human, and the lower torso of a squid or octopus). Occasionally, they might be some other type of sea/water creature that has a human form, such as a Kelpie, Selkie, Water Dragon, etc.
Modern AU – In which characters from a historical (or pseudo-historical) canon universe are placed into a modern setting.
Monster AU – In which the characters are changed into non-human creatures, such as Incubus/Succubus, Naga, Oni, Centaur, Banshee, Siren, Dullahan, Kitsune, Imp, Fairy, and other kinds of monsters.
Na’vi AU – In this AU the characters are placed in the world of James Cameron’s film, Avatar and are portrayed as Naʼvis; a blue alien race that reside on Pandora.
No Human AU – Also known as Animal AU, is the opposite of All Human AU, in which characters that are canonically human are now non-humans. In this AU the characters are typically turned into cats, dogs or sometimes even into birds.
Noir Detective AU – In which the characters are put in a typical ‘40s or '50s film noir environment. Sometimes this AU is done as a homage towards the style, in which the characters are still their canon selves, but the plot or aesthetics are given a noir slant.
Opposite AU – In which canon personalities and backstories are swapped out with an opposite versions of themselves. Such as a quiet shy character may become loud and outgoing.
Pacific Rim AU – In which the characters are put into the world of Pacific Rim (most often as Jaeger pilots). This AU gained popularity due to the concept of Drift Compatibility that made for excellent shipping interactions.
Pen Pal AU – Is when two characters (who have met in canon) have not met each other in this AU. Sometimes they live in the area and other times they don’t live on the same continent. Usually it is their school that sets them up as pen pals. If not, it is because one of the characters writes a letter to the wrong person/wrong address or they accidentally
texts the wrong person.
Pirate AU – When the whole cast are pirates and it is focus on shipboard life, usually it is set in early nineteenth-century Europe. Sometimes it’s pirates in outer space.
Prison AU – In which characters meet for the first time in an prison environment where they have to depend on each other.
Private Detective AU – When one of the characters becomes a professional detective while the rest of the cast are their clients or the detective’s contacts in the police department (sometimes they work in other fields, in which the Detective character calls them in for favors to help solve difficult cases).
Reincarnation AU – In which stories with historical canon setting have the characters become reincarnated into a modern setting and in doing so they are quite similar to their canon selves. Other times the characters or just one of them is reincarnated into another world, which they may or may not retrain their memories from their previous life.
Reverse AU – Also known as Role Reversal AU. Is when the roles (and sometimes backstories) of the characters are swapped, such as the hero is the villain and the villain is now the hero.
Rockstar AU – Is also known as Musician AU. In which the main casts is a popular music band or one of them is a solo artists with many groupies which may consist the rest of the characters of a fandom. Or they work within the same industry.
Romeo and Juliet AU – In this AU the main characters within the William Shakespeare story Romeo and Juliet are replace with characters from another fandom.
Roommate AU – In which the characters in a fandom are all living together in an apartment or an house. Usually this kind of story is focused on two characters that become roommates.
Royalty AU – Where one or more characters (who canonically aren’t) are members of a royal family. This usually goes hand in hand with a historical period, featuring a Medieval AU or Regency AU, although some works are set in Modern times or even the Future.
Single Parent AU – In which a character has a child or becomes a parent in someway and raises them on their own.
Soulmates AU – Is when two (or more) characters are fated to be together, sometimes through multiple lives and/or into the afterlife. Sometimes but not always, the pairing might have a characteristic that helps them to find each other, such as identical or complementary birthmarks, tattoos, scars, or a string-of-fate that’s tied to their other half which becomes thicker and shorter the closer they get to them. Some stories only need a character to hear (or just see) their soulmate to know who they are.
Space AU – Where a fandom that is canonically set on Earth becomes set in outer space.
Spy AU – Also known as Secret Agent AU or Espionage AU. The whole cast is turned into spies, sometimes they work for the same organization, government or they operate independently. Other times the AU is focused on only one or two characters that are the spies.
Superpowers AU – In which the characters have superpowers and are either heroes and/or villains.
Steampunk AU – In which a story is turned into a futuristic/sci-fi version of a 19th Century, usually Victorian or Edwardian containing clocks, gears, springs, steam power, analog computers, airships, etc.
Tarzan AU – In this AU it’s based on the novel or film Tarzan. The canon characters are replaced with others from another fandom to explore the story with them in the roles instead.
Vampire/Werewolf AU – In which vampires and werewolves exist (in the case of canons that don’t have them) or a character is recast as a vampire or werewolf. However, these kind of AUs don’t necessarily have to contain both species as some tend to focus on only one kind.
Victorian AU – In which characters from a modern or future-set story are relocate to a stereotypical Victorian romanticism era.
Western AU – In which the characters are transplanted into the “Old West”; or sometimes, especially in science fiction stories a Space Western equivalent, which may involve a western-type plot without horses and cattle ranches.
Wonderland AU – In which the story and the characters are turned into their own version of Alice in Wonderland.
Yandere AU – Is when a character in a fandom is turned into a Yandere, which is a type of character who is initially very loving and gentle to another character, but their devotion to them becomes destructive in nature, often through manipulation, violence and/or brutality.
Zombie Apocalypse AU – Also know as Zombie AU. In which stories that don’t contain an zombie apocalypse have it happen to them.
Note: This isn’t a complete list of AUs, but I will keep updating it whenever I come across something new (or someone lets me know what I’m missing). Also, keep in mind that sometimes an AU story is combine with others elements. For example, instead of the very common AU story about the characters attending a regular high school in modern times, it can be a magical school or a superhero school (similar to the film Sky High or the X-Men comics). It might even take place in a futuristic world or historical time. Sometimes AUs stories may focus on an OC (Original Character), Self-insert or Reader-insert and not just canon characters of a fandom.
Imagining an AU where Jughead Jones was forced to attend his Dad’s High School Reunion and spots the girl that he’s been harboring a crush on (but didn’t really know her name cos he only sees her in passing whenever she hangs out with her friends at the Drive-in that he works at), looking beautiful all dressed up standing at the entrance of the high school and then finding out that she’s the daughter of his Dad’s high school flame….
(i got a lot of asks for these, so here ya go) (…i really tried to be serious for the entire post but)
I screwed up.
There are three things you need to know before you read this.
How do I tell a well-structured story when life is absolute chaos?
I know what you came here for.
He was an unfortunate lad.
It came in the mail.
A lot can happen during a lifetime.
This is the story of how I died. Don’t worry, though! I came back.
Once upon a time… there was humanity.
It all started at the end.
You ever seen those commercials where people screw up the simplest of tasks in the most idiotic fashion ever? Yeah, that’s basically what happened here.
“Why are we here?”
Let me just be perfectly clear that this was not my fault.
This isn’t a good story.
You’re here, that’s good. Now we can start.
“You should’ve stopped when you still could.”
It was a trap.
It was a normal day, as long as you ignore the fact that it wasn’t.
They didn’t warn you, my dear reader?
Something’s trying to kill me.
I’m not a particularly good story teller, but I’ll try my best.
*record scratch* *freeze frame* Yep, that’s me. No, not the vague figure you’re imagining now from the zero amount of information I’ve given you, and no, I’m not the heroic yet relatable main-character you’d expect either. I’m the one that’s currently, and quite poetically, hiding in the corner of a chicken den. Yeah, that’s the one.
AU where Aang was conscious when he went under the ice
To stop him going insane Raava feeds him a continuous stream of memories from past Avatars
So that when Katara and Sokka find him he remembers everything. Every day the Avatar has ever lived is jammed into his head
Katara and Sokka now have to deal with an ancient old god stuck in a twelve year old’s body
Aang’s personal identity has been buried under all his other lives; he views himself as a vessel for the Avatar Spirit, nothing more, and refers to himself as ‘we’
He is incredibly wise and all the loss he has suffered makes him incredibly kind. His spiritual connection to the global network of energy (which we see Korra access in Book 4) allows him to feel everything. The oceans, the mountains, the desert, all four nations. The earth feels like an extension of his body and they are all united as one in his head
He gets frustrated when normal people won’t take this big picture outlook, and cling to their personal problems and prejudices (can’t they see they’re all just ants under the march of time?)
Sokka teaches Aang the importance of the smaller picture and gives him perspective on the human side of the war
Imagine the past Avatars’ spirits like the ancestors from Mulan. They’re always surrounding and protecting Aang on the spiritual plane.
Iroh is the only other person who can see them. Whenever he and Zuko catch up with the Gaang he greets them respectfully and Zuko is like wtf you nutty old codger, you’re literally bowing to thin air
BUT because of this respect Roku saves Zuko when he destroys his island on the Winter Solstice.
As the Gaang travels into the Earth Kingdom Aang starts meditating. He spirit-projects across the country and starts helping Earth Kingdom peasants with the small problems of the war (e.g. finding extra rations for hungry children, helping care for the wounded, guiding seperated families home)
This takes a lot of energy out of him, which concerns Katara
Aang has a mild form of schizophrenia because he is so much more aware of his past lives, he can hear them whispering in his ear all the time,
He will flit from goofy to mournful to brilliant to bone tired in a moment
He also has memory problems that are like dementia, because he keeps getting confused as to what time he’s in (e.g. he keeps confusing Zuko and Sozin in his head)
Occasionally he will ‘relapse’ into a past Avatar’s personality. Imagine the stern Kyoshi swearing at Sokka’s antics through Aang’s mouth. Or Kurruk (the last Water Tribe Avatar deciding Aang needs help in the romance department and taking over so he can flirt with everyone he meets
Because of his ten thousand years of memories Aang has vast spiritual powers BUT these come at a cost
Because his past lives have much more influence over him, when Aang goes into the Avatar State he goes into stasis as the past Avatars hold parliament in his head and debate what to do
This makes the Avatar state incredibly powerful but slow and completely impractical, so Aang uses it very little
It also makes Aang more vulnerable. When the past Avatars (led by Kyoshi) disagree with how Aang is fighting the war, they stage a coup and try to take control of his body. The Gaang have to hold off Aang’s possessed body long enough for him to regain control
Aang will also slip in and out of the spirit world in his sleep. If he has a nightmare, Aang will unknowingly pull the others sleeping into the nightmare with him. The Gaang then have to find and calm him down amongst the worst evils of the last ten thousand years
Aang will ocassionally have a PTSD flashback to one of his past deaths and suffers from psychosomatic injuries (e.g. Kyoshi losing her hand). Katara heals the spiritual damage and roots him in the present moment
This Aang would completely change the relationships within the Gaang
While he was in the iceberg Aang reached out with his mind and connected the future Gaang with dreams
(Think a connection like Rey and Kylo Ren’s force bond in The Last Jedi or Sense8)
Aang first appears to Katara the night after her mom died to comfort her. They interact a lot over her childhood and he becomes her imaginary friend, and they are very protective of each other when he comes out of the ice
Aang recognises Zuko as his Grandson and actively tries to protect him when Zuko is chasing them (much to Zuko’s confusion; why did his sworn enemy just save him from that pirate?)
Their relationship becomes very familial
This affection extends to Azula as well, which makes her actively hate him (in the original series Aang was nothing more than a bonus prize to her)
Romantic relationships aren’t really possible for Aang with his ancient mind, but he can see souls, and thus recognise ying-yang soulmates. He acts as a matchmaker for Zuko and Katara
Aang recognises the spiritual connection between him and Toph (platonic soulmates)
Toph teaches Aang to reclaim his childhood; he stops referring to himself as ‘we’ and starts using ‘I’
Toph also gets him to take a break from helping people and have some fun. Aang does this by gently making fun of her crush on Sokka
When the Gaang is being chased by Azula’s group Aang recognises that Ty Lee is a reincarnated airbrnder, and that she is there against her will.
The Gaang capture her and each day Aang shows her more of the ten thousand years of Air Nation history in his head. They bond over their shared love of auras, and Ty Lee loves poking fun at his social ineptitude by flirting with everyone in the group
By the time the Crossroads of Destiny happens, Zuko turns against the Gaang (he is angry that Aang keeps telling him his destiny is to help them, and wants to be his own person. It takes a while for Zuko to realise Ozai has been manipulating him like this for years. Aang learns a lesson about the importance of personal autonomy) BUT Ty Lee decides to go with them
When Aang and Iroh have their talk in The Crossroads of Destiny, instead of talking about Katara (because ew, she’s like my little sister and I’ve known her since she was like six) Iroh acknowledges the presence of the past Avatars and defends Aang’s decision to choose his family over his training with the Guru, and Aang could cry because this means it’s not all in his head and he’s not crazy and he’s not alone.
Finally going to the Fire Nation removes the pressure of everyone knowing Aang is the Avatar for (it feels like) the first time in ten thousand years. It’s an oddly freeing experience
Because of his extreme empathy and sensitivity, Aang can feel strong emotions, including romantic and sexual tension like a pressure behind his temples. Eventually, when sitting around the fire at the Eastern Air Temple with Zuko and Katara, Sokka and Suki, and Toph and Ty Lee there, Aang has to retreat for fear of a migraine
As Aang builds up his own identity the past Avatars lose influence over him until, by the time he fights Ozai in the finale, he is able to overcome them and completely control the Avatar State for the first time
After the war Ty Lee becomes co-founder of the new Air Acolytes. She finds it hilarious that Aang chose someone who used to be so shallow to lead the most spiritual nation in the world
Aang is the only one to regularly visit Azula in the mental hospital because it takes crazy to know crazy
Zutara rule the Fire Nation together. Problems arise when their first born (and first in line for the throne) is a waterbender
Hello there! Long time, no see (my bad I know) but, here: an Alicia Zimmermann-centric piece as she goes to Parents’ Weekend during Jack’s freshmen year. [focus on Alicia, Jack, and Shitty] 6k
Somewhere, deep in her heart, Alicia Zimmermann knows she is a bad mother.
It started out as a worry, as maybe it does for all new mothers, that she will be a bad mother. That she won’t know what to do with a baby or a toddler that one day she will accidentally drop him or forget to feed him or feed him something he is actually allergic to or maybe she’ll scar him emotionally somehow and she worried but she survived his childhood okay. And then, after he was five or six, she stopped worrying about it. She thought she was doing pretty good. Jack had hockey and loved hockey and, sure, they didn’t have deep emotional talks but she didn’t exactly have any basis of comparison. Television families told her she was doing okay. No teenage boy wanted to have deep talks with his mother. And, look, if Jack didn’t talk to her all that much as he turned 12 and then 13, at least he was still talking to his father. Mostly still about hockey but she… she thought that had counted. Hockey was like French, to her. Another language she could understand but couldn’t quite speak. But Bob could. He was on top of it. Jack was taken care of.
She loved Jack. That was never the problem. The problem was that her love wasn’t enough. It didn’t matter. It didn’t alert her to any of the facts and maybe it even blinded her– She loved her son and her son loved hockey and so she loved hockey too. She loved her son and then her son seemed to love a boy named Kent and they never talked about it but she let Kent come over all the time and she figured they would discuss it at some point. She just… assumed everything was okay. Even after he was diagnosed with the anxiety disorder and given pills. It was always… well, that was a little problem but it’s handled and under control and everything is okay now.
See. Bad mother.
A good mother would have known somehow.
A good mother would have pushed and prodded or sensed it without even having to be told.
A good mother would have paid attention to how hard Jack was on himself. A good mother would have made sure her son had interests outside of hockey. A good mother would have known that Jack’s long silences after losses weren’t normal. A good mother would have preached balance and fostered friendships with different types of people and stopped the fucking hockey.
She didn’t though. Stop the hockey. No, not Alicia Zimmermann. She encouraged it. She went to the games and cheered the loudest and she even loved it a little bit because she thought it brought him joy, like his father. She bought into the vision: Jack playing hockey like Bob, the Zimmermann legacy continued throughout the ages…
God, she even used to tease Jack about how it took his father three years to win a Cup and she was sure Jack could manage it faster than his old man.
A good mother wouldn’t have done that. So, see, she’s always been a bad mother. Even now, now that she’s almost lost him, now that she’s promised to do better, now that she’s finally read all the books and online articles about anxiety and pressure and the danger of sports and hockey culture… now she’s still just as bad. Just for different reasons.
Now she is a bad mother because it’s Saturday afternoon and he’s been at Samwell for almost three months and she does not feel like mothers are supposed to feel in this moment.
She glances around. At the sea of other mothers and fathers crammed onto Samwell’s campus for Parents’ Weekend. They are not nervous. They are excited. Happy. Enthusiastic. Overjoyed to see the teenager they had left just a couple months ago again. To her right is a father almost (but not quite) breaking into a run to give his son a hug. To her left, a mother has burst into tears. Happy tears.
And then there’s her. She’s not excited to see Jack. Well, no. No, it’s not that she’s not excited. She is. She is. (She is. She repeats it once more just to remind herself). She is just…
She is nervous too. More nervous than she is excited.