I think one of the things that frustrates me the most about the uniformity of most romantic relationships in fantasy - all heterosexual, all cisgender, all part of a very traditional standard “type” - is not just that they ignore the existance of LGBTQIA people, but that even the straightness is tightly regimented.
Take Starling in the Tawny Man books - she is delighted and surprised to find a husband who will marry her despite the fact that she believes she cannot have children (Hobb is usually pretty good at relationship diversity, so I’m not going after her specifically, but as I’ve reread RotE very recently this is the easiest example for me to use). All of the standard relationships assume fertility, heterosexuality, patriarchal set up (housewife and working-outdoors-husband, she is sweet and pleasant while he is rough and cheerful/grumpy/whatever).
I mean, I’m not claiming to say anything new about this. It’s just hit me all over again. I don’t just want greater diversity of sexuality and gender, I want varied expression within that.
Give me the married couple with the gruff, physical-labour wife and her diplomatic, attractive husband. Give me the couple who aren’t interested in having children at all. Give me the three people who all live together and have a child whose specific parentage is irrelevant. Give me the people who are chill about illegitimate children, who adopt and treat it as no different from having a child biologically. And above all, give me a set up that allows this.
I am sick and tired of reading environments that enforce this norm. I live in one, and it sucks, and I desperately want more variety in my fiction.
(I will also take a second to note that I am sure there are stories that do this - they’re not mainstream, they’re often self-published, but they’re out there doing it, and one day I’m going to join in. This is more of a lament about the biggest mainstream stuff, the things that are considered the core of the genre, the straight-white-male-bad-tolkien-impressions that show up and are immediately accepted - in other words, all the stuff I have to study for my degree)
TL;DR: rigid patriarchy is a drastically unoriginal setting for fantasy, less please.
sometimes Elphaba seems so baffled by Glinda and its my favorite. Like, they love her, and respect her, but at times genuinely dont get how or why she reacts the way she does to things. Its delightful. I look forward to the point in Shame Machine when we will see their relationship be lighter, even when you are dealing with heavy things like trauma and sadness and institutional racism and transphobia and misogyny and homophobia
im looking forward to it too, because that’s where most of the growth happens in SM :^)
i was thinking about the weirdest phone calls i got when i still worked at the public library and i remembered this one phone call. it was probably less than 20 seconds long, but it still makes me laugh.
anyways, this woman called and without even saying hello after i said the usual “public library, how can i help you?” spiel, she said, “i have a very important question: when you shelve books, do you push them all to the front of the shelf or all the way back?”
it took me a second to process the question and then i answered that, at the library, we always shelve them so that they are even with the front edge so they’re easier to grab and see. she was obviously delighted by this answer and then, as if an afterthought, she asked, “okay, what about you? what do you do at home with your books?” i said i did the same thing. she hummed in obvious agreement and then just like that she said “thank you!” and hung up.
i never heard from her again. i hope she won whatever argument she was having.
I wonder what would happen if Dudley grew up in the wizarding world but still as a muggle? like kind of reverse AU where his parents are dead and he has to go to Lily for whatever reason? do you think he would become bitter like Petunia about magic?
Lily remembered her sister, how there had been a time she was curious
and delighted about magic, before it slowly sank in that she could look
and not touch.
The last thing Petunia had said to Lily before she
died was a chilly goodbye, ending a holiday dinner where they’d had a
shrieking row in the entryway. Petunia had said freak and Lily had hissed better than this, better than this being my whole fucking world, Tune, do you even see yourself, are you happy–
now here was Dudley Vernon Dursley fussing himself to sleep as Lily
walked the halls of the Godric’s Hollow house. His tiny soft hands with
their tiny soft fingernails curled under her chin, the same way Harry
She passed James, who was gently bouncing his way up
the hall the opposite way. “I think he’s asleep,” James mouthed over
Harry’s tousled head. His hair was the same mess, bent down to peer at
his sleeping son.
Lily stopped where she stood, her nephew heavy
on her chest, her husband smiling, her sister buried. “James,” she said.
“How are we going to do this?”
“Oh,” he said. “Hey. Don’t you
cry, you’ll start them off– unless you need to cry, I mean, you go
ahead, hey, sweetheart, hey, it’s alright, you just let it out.” He
stepped forward, shifting Harry gently to his other shoulder, and
pressed his forehead to hers. “We tuck them in, okay, that’s what we do
next. Then we go to our own bed, okay, and go to sleep, and when we wake
up it’ll be a new day.”
“A new day,” she said. “Another day– James, that’s the– I’m so tired.”
let’s sleep. It’ll look better in the morning,” he said. “And if it
doesn’t look better this morning, it’ll look better in the next one.”
“Better than that. I’ll show you. Every day,” he said and kissed her cold forehead.
had not shown up on the Potters’ doorstep with the milk bottles. Lily
had gotten a phone call from the landline she still had installed in
Godric’s Hollow, about an accident, and she had gone down to the Muggle
police station to identify the bodies.
The cupboard under the
stairs was filled with spiders, broomsticks, and the sewing machine
Lily’s mother had given her when she married James– that’s all. Dudley
slept downstairs. Uncle Remus taught Dudley and Harry to knock out coded
messages through the wall their rooms shared.
In the backyard,
beside a rickety porch and an ambitious hedge, James taught them to
fly– first on little tot brooms where their toes brushed the grass the
whole time, then out of the barrels of practice brooms James used for
lessons and coaching Little League Quidditch.
When the boys turned
ten, five weeks apart, they both got shiny new Nimbuses on Dudley’s
birthday (which came first), and a set of enchanted Quidditch balls on
Harry’s, to share. The Bludgers were enchanted to be very kind but
Dudley spent long afternoons whacking them far afield while Harry chased
the Snitch at his back.
Harry had a scar on his forehead, like a
jagged bit of lightning. Dudley had no scars– the car crash that had
killed his parents hadn’t touched him where he sat strapped into a car
seat in the back, chewing on a stuffed dinosaur toy.
Lily did not
believe in lying to the children. She was bare years off being a child
herself, and spare moments on the far side of a war. When Dudley asked
about his parents, she told him there had been an accident. She pulled
pictures off the shelf and wrote Petunia’s old university friends for
Photographs came by mailman, the images still and unnatural
to Dudley’s eye. Every day he’d gone out to play, for years, he’d been
waving at the picture near the back door of his aunt and uncle on their
wedding day, and they waved back every time.
“She was very clever,” Lily said. “Your mom liked to know everything.”
“And my dad?”
“Vernon liked… cars?” James offered. “That’s the word, right, Lily?”
didn’t know him very well,” Lily said. “He liked drills, I think; he
worked for a firm that made them, and he talked about that a lot.”
brushed his thumbs over the dull edges of the photos. When Lily went
off to Auror headquarters the next morning for work, James bundled the
boys up and took them on an impromptu invisible tour of Grunnings Drill
They tiptoed down halls and past water coolers
and ringing fellytones. They held hands under the Cloak as they dodged
around the machines on the manufacturing floor, thumping and pounding
and whirring away loudly enough that Harry and Dudley could whisper to
each other under the noise. An elevator took them all the way up to the
top floor. Harry whistled cheerily and eerily along with the elevator
music while the Muggles slowly edged toward the doors and pressed floor
buttons lower than they’d originally wanted.
There were boxes and
cabinets and folders and desks and staticky monitor screens full of
numbers strewn in endless grids. “Merlin’s knuckles,” said Harry, who
was seven and a half and rather proud of this expletive. “People can
look at this all day, their whole lives, and not die?”
“Work is hard work,” said James.
“At least mum gets to curse things.”
my dad liked it?” Dudley said, peering at a white board that was
bleeding enthusiastic marker. “There’s a lot of things, here. Maybe he
liked knowing things, too.”
When the boys asked about the scar on
Harry’s forehead, Lily and James looked at each other. “You know how
sometimes we sit with Uncle Remus and talk about a war?” James said. “Or
with Ms. Amelia or Mr. Mundungus.”
“Mr. Mundungus is kinda smelly,” Harry said helpfully.
“It’s not nice to say so though,” said James, and Lily made a face.
“Are we raising them to be nice?” Lily said.
“I’m trying,” said James.
“You talk about a war,” said Harry and shrugged. Dudley nodded.
“There was a very bad man, in those days,” said James.
“Voldemort,” said Lily, and James made a face.
was so scary a lot of people don’t like to say his name, even now,”
said James. “And he was coming after us because we had been fighting
against him, in the war. He came to the house and he tried to hurt you,
Harry. But it didn’t work. It hurt him instead, and gave you that scar.”
“Is he going to come back?” said Dudley, who was paler than his normal pink.
“No one’s heard of him since then,” said Lily.
“Where were you?” said Harry, because all his life they had been right there.
“Oh,” said Lily, but her throat closed up.
were at Dudley’s mum and dad’s funeral,” said James. “Our friend– our
friend Sirius was watching you two. The bad man, he came to the house.
He. Well. I.”
“Sirius died,” said Lily, one hand squeezing James’s
knee and the other reaching down to brush hair off Dudley’s forehead.
“You lived, Harry, and Voldemort vanished. And that’s why sometimes
people stare in the streets, baby.” James tweaked Harry’s collar
Two days after they had buried Lily’s sister,
the Potters had stood together in the first chills of November and
buried James’s brother.
Sirius had been burned off the Black
family tree years before. Lily and James had talked to his cousin
Andromeda, to Remus, and then they had laid him to rest in the Potter
family plot. At the wake, they’d told old jokes about squirrel breath,
shedding, and man’s best friend. Remus had fallen asleep on their couch
and stayed for a month.
It took a two hour row with HR for Lily to get two passes to the Ministry’s Bring Your Kid To Work Day.
“He’s a Muggle.”
“He’s not,” Lily snapped. “He’s family.”
had to get permission, sign a million forms, and she also had to take
the boys in early so that Dudley could get smothered in the spells that
would keep the Anti-Muggle wards around the Ministry from activating on
him. “If a Muggle stumbles in somehow, they just see a funny-smelling
supply cabinet and turn back around,” Lily told Dudley. He nodded and
dragged Harry off by the wrist to go look at the fountain.
windows were pouring sunlight into the underground room– the
maintenance workers had just gotten a win on their contract negotiations
and had banished the grimy rain-spattered windows of the previous
weeks. The light hit the falling water, the golden statues, and the
small excitable crowd of Ministry dependents who were gathering in the
atrium. Dudley was fishing about in the fountain for Knuts to toss back
out again, elbow-deep, and Harry was laughing and coming up with weird
wishes to make on them.
Lily hadn’t said son. She’d said family, and that was true enough, wasn’t it? She didn’t say son–
she had a son, and she had a nephew, a ward, another child who came to
her after nightmares and scraped knees. It was not less, it was just
Lily worried about stealing more things from Petunia. Tuney
had shrieked at her, in ladies’ restrooms and suburban foyers, had
hissed at her in grocery store aisles and family dinners, because Lily
got everything. And now Lily had her son.
Lily could just imagine it– could just see Petunia’s face twisting and chin stabbing at the air. You could have anything, and you took my son– my son!
left him to me,” Lily whispered, but that wasn’t quite right. “You
left,” she whispered, and that wasn’t quite right either, so she strode
off toward the fountain to ask the boys if they wanted to go see the
Auror spellwork ranges. Dudley’s sodden shirt sleeves dripped all over
the Ministry floors. Harry’s hair fell down into his eyes and they both
grinned bright enough to rival the spelled sunlight.
Elizabeth’s mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; – and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
characterization, filters, and characterization to be found in the lack of filters
Talking about Jane earlier got me thinking, you know, Jane is not at all the only character that uses this device to show off the less desirable traits lurking in the psyche of all these damaged teens. Like. So many characters have these lurking deep seated issues that stay hidden deep down because the characters are pretty good at projecting a less damaged and more together version of themselves.
If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s a fucking outrageously relatable quality and part of what makes the Homestuck characters RESONATE so much. Why they feel like they have all this dimension and depth that makes us grab on to them and never want to let go.
I’m just going to run through some examples here while I’m thinking about it. The first OBVIOUSLY since thinking about her is what got me going on this – Jane. Crockertier Jane removing the layers of self-imposed filter on Jane’s festering insecurity, entitlement issues, jealousy and so on. I’ve already talked enough about that today.
Grimbark Jade! You notice Jade says what she’s thinking WAY more easily while she’s mind controlled, and she still sounds like herself – she sounds kinda like she does when she’s owning Karkat repeatedly, doesn’t she? Because angry Jade has that same effect of pushing her nice girl filter aside and letting the angry witch (not a cutesy slur, her literal witch class) within fly free. Grimbark Jade tells us that behind that nice girl front Jade Harley actually thinks some pretty uncharitable thoughts sometimes, she just keeps a tight fucking lid on it because – well, don’t most people? Relatable as fuck.
Jadesprite! Since we’re talking about Jade anyway. Jade likes to think she has everything together, that her visions from Skaia and her scientific prowess and the tools her Grandpa left her are more than enough to handle everything that comes her way, she’s independent, she’s capable, she’s certainly never LONELY oh no of course not certainly never CRUSHINGLY OVERWHELMED by the responsibility of her own existence nah those are weak feelings for weak girls who aren’t as awesome as Jade! And then – Jadesprite. Why do you think Jade got SO ANGRY at Jadesprite? Because she was being confronted with something she knew deep down was a reflection of weaknesses in herself (totally normal ones that her later arc reinforced were a mistake to pretend weren’t there – Loneliness and fear and regret are all tied in with Jade’s character progression and learning how to deal with those things is where I imagine her arc would have gone if Homstuck’s ending hadn’t been the literary equivalent of chopping off a limb and cauterizing the wound.) Jadesprite is Jade without the filter of implacable strength Jade imposes on herself to fuckin cope with living on a hell island with the stuffed corpse of her grandpa who she grew up thinking literally killed himself at BEST. god damn
Davesprite. Dave Strider with a slow long agonizing depressing arc wherein he realizes his coolkid persona won’t make anyone think of him as their best friend anymore, and in the absence of the security that persona afforded him when he was The Real Dave he has no idea what to do with himself. He’s lost, he feels aimless, untethered, incapable of being happy – and yes, Davesprite is his own character, but you can still infer a lot from Dave’s character about him – for instance, how he completely ties his self worth up in how useful he is to his friends or how worthwhile they find him and has no idea how to even BEGIN the hard journey of looking within for worth instead of relying eternally on changeable external sources. Davesprite is Dave not WITHOUT a filter but certainly with a VERY DIFFERENT one.
Homestuck does this with almost every single damn character on its roster at some point. Shows a version of them with a different or lesser or completely missing filter to highlight flaws and issues and internal struggles of all kinds.
Homestuck is a damn deep dive into an exercise about analyzing nature vs nurture and what we’re predisposed to do and what comes from within and what is put upon us by forces out of our control, and how that line is blurry and messy and everyone has the potential to be either the worst or best version of themselves. Even Caliborn was given a choice. Hussie-The-Character explained it to him at great painstaking length.
There are so many other examples. Jasprose is Rose without a filter, and the way Jasprose goes around gleefully calling every hot girl she sees hot and delighting smugly in knowing more than just about anyone else and lording over the information and playing smarter-than-thou games – that tells us a LOT about Rose! A LOT about what sort of urges Rose tamps down on every day in an effort to just be fucking cool!
I bet you have things like this with yourself, right? Doesn’t everyone?
Tricksters! Look at how they act. They’re not themselves but there is plenty to glean from them. Jane immediately goes for Jake, the object of her desire, to pursue an exaggerated version of her idealized future. Trickster Jake is a passive fucking ragdoll who immediately acquiesces to everything everyone demands of him because their happiness becomes his happiness – Jake hates confrontation, so Trickster Jake is just a fucking doormat. Roxy goes for Jake AND Dirk because divorced from the guilt she normally feels for harboring desire toward either one of them she knows exactly what she wants! ETC ETC. Of course they would never do any of this shit if they weren’t high as balls and incapable of understanding the meaning of the word “consequence.” That’s the point. Seeing what they do in this situation is an interesting window in!
Brain Ghost Dirk is a version of Jake (yes, of Jake, not Dirk) without a specific filter Jake runs his own personality through before he’s comfortable presenting it to others, and you’ll notice, it’s EXTREMELY biting and critical sometimes. Jake knows what he’s about. He just buries it most of the time because that’s easier than dealing with it.
I could seriously keep going.
Homestuck loves to show us what our favorites do and say and ARE when basic filters go out the window. Those filters that most of us employ to make other people believe we don’t all have intrusive thoughts or bad desires or just plain old weaknesses we’re ashamed of and want to keep hidding at costs – or that we occasionally think things or think about doing things we would never ever ever do in real life are demolished or changed or temporarily suspended.
It’s brilliant tbh. It lets us see facets of characters that would normally never really get full spotlight reveals by their very nature, especially with protagonists.
Vriska vs (Vriska) – (Vriska) is just Vriska with some more self awareness and more willingness to let down her self-imposed filter and actually examine the shit she wants and why because watching Aranea fuck the timeline over out of motivations eerily similar to her own
hardcore shook her enough to develop in that direction.
(which makes sense since HER original motivations are copying Mindfang who IS alt-aranea lmao I love Homestuck) (Vriska) is still Vriska, it’s just a very very different lens through which to view her character.
blah blah blah blah etc there are so many examples
anyway I love Homestuck and good character writing what up
Summary: Midnight strikes, officially marking Bucky’s 100th birthday. You surprise the super-soldier with a small treat and a gift that has potential to change everything.
A/N: ending the last few hours of the day by wishing a happy 100th to our sweet plum, bucky barnes! // i wrote this in 7 minutes (i timed myself, hurrah) so it’s an incoherent mess. i’ll probably delete this sometime next week xx
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Bucky leans against the headboard of his bed, bringing the covers closer to his body before crossing his arms against his chest. He watches as the second hand of the clock make its way around, hypnotically ticking away.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
In a few minutes, he’ll be 100-years-old, and it baffles him that he’s been on this planet for a century. He’s outlived his parents, his contemporaries, and everything he considered to be home. His age isn’t something he’s too keen on, especially since he’s spent over half of those “one hundred years of life” as a brainwashed weapon for a terrorist organization.
Birthdays are still a weird concept, and he prefers to not make a big deal out of them. He’s requested his teammates to treat it like any other day, and he doesn’t want any special attention. Lucky for him, the Avengers members with a flare for surprises and events are on a mission, and hopefully the rest of the team will oblige to his request.