It’s really tempting to make all the answers ‘sw4g’ but I must perservere!
You see a lot, in your job; often you wish that justice were blind, so that you did not have to see the masses of people with the same exact slump sitting in front of your desk, society having reviled them until their only option was crime, and subsequently, you.
There are exceptions, of course; one of them is named Aranea, and despite being down an arm, she has managed to acquire an excessive amount of goods that do not belong to her and delights in it, and it makes your heart ache - you know you shouldn’t get attached, invested, but it always saddens you when you can tell there is no hope of rehabilitation, no matter what you fight for.
The day before her trial is scheduled, she reaches across the table, single manacle clanking, and squeezes your hands in the only one she has left, saying, “Hey, Pyrope, smile - I ain’t lettin’ this happen,” and you shake your head; the next day, astonishingly, you wake up to angry phonecalls about the escape of Aranea Serket and a no-doubt stolen rose on your doorstep, assurance that some people are, and always will be, larger than life and indefatigable.
Anons! You are being excellent and pandering to my tastes today, and I approve entirely.
I can’t find it in a quick scouring of my tags, but I’ve talked before about how the mess of ideas that FBaTN came from was when I used to roleplay a giant bubble/meteorverse with Jess, and we got bored of all the ~normal~ pairings and instead went off to play with hipster pairings (you’ve probably never heard of them). So, in a concrete way, that’s where Dol/Red came from.
What you are asking, though, is not where Dol/Red came from, but where Dol/Red came from, meaningful but not porn-inducing look. And honestly, it all ties in with the narrative of FBaTN.
I’ve said before that I wrote from Dolorosa’s viewpoint because there wasn’t much from her viewpoint, and that’s true. And of what there was, it invariably split into four categories:
- How much it sucks to be a teen mum
- Wow, sure does suck to have your kid tortured to death in front of you
- Huh, must really suck to be a slave
- Oh look, it doesn’t suck to be a slave, Mindfang loves you!
And I like these narratives (with the exception of four, which I will talk about in a sec). I do. I’ve written a lot of them myself! But Rosa is awesome, and she deserves more than stories centred around other people.
Cue my intense hatred of number four. I am sorry if you like that narrative, but it is fucking terrible. Dolorosa was a slave, and canonically, Mindfang was not known for her kind treatment of her chesspieces. She was using Rosa a piece in her game with Dualscar, and they all ended up dead because of it. There was no love there. I strongly suspect that, at that point in her life, Mindfang would not have known how to love, but that is another rant entirely.
This is what I based FBaTN around. I wanted to look unflinchingly at the trauma that Dolorosa would have gone through at the hands of Mindfang, and I wanted to write a story about her and how she got better, and about how getting better is a (frustrating, unintuitive, personal) process and not a goal. You will note that I didn’t want to write a story about Dolorosa in terms of other people, despite the fact that other people are intrinsic to her story.
How do I write a story about Dolorosa without it turning into a story about the people she cares for? Redglare.
Redglare is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the perfect foil for Rosa in this kind of narrative. They have both experienced a lot of suffering at the hands of Mindfang and are trying to get better, giving them a commonality, but they aren’t close enough and don’t have enough shared history to overwhelm each other. They allow each other to explore their histories anew without any of the trauma that comes with I failed you, you are lost because of me, I am sorry, I am sorry. If Suf or Psi or Disciple had been the ones to find Rosa, it would have ended poorly, I think.
And Dolorosa is good for Redglare, too. Redglare is angry at Mindfang; their kismessitude is a mess. You’re not supposed to want to kill your kismesis, but Redglare doesn’t know how to let go and just keeps getting angrier at Mindfang because of it. Dolorosa teaches Redglare to let go, and Redglare teaches Dolorosa how to cope with not being able to let go right away.
And, honestly, there is just a part of me that loves Redglare and Dolorosa together. Competent, badass ladies who let their pasts make them stronger instead of breaking will always be a Thing for me. I’m not sorry, at all.
Wow, looking at my old writing is certainly an experience.