Question: What is worse than when one half of your OTP dies?
Answer: BOTH halves of your OTP dying.
(For all those who are uneducated on OTPs and shipping and such, kindly close this browser and do some research. Then when you have found it out, ignore it all. Don’t get involved. It is emotionally damaging).
Question: And what, pray tell, is even worse than BOTH halves of your fictional OTP dying?
Once again, I’ll help you out.
Answer: When both halves of your REAL LIFE OTP die.
How, Rianna, could you possibly have real life OTPs? And that is a very good question.
As you may (or may not) know, I am a stickler for Historical Fiction. Like, seriously. I am ADDICTED to the Tudors and their predecessors and their family lines and just WOW. They fascinate me.
Let me just tell you now; if you aren’t into reading, you may not understand this, but if you are then you will completely get me when I say that reading is an emotional process. You can’t ‘just read’. If you are reading PROPERLY and the author is good and the writing and plot is good, then it goes without saying that you are going to form emotional attachments to the characters within the book. Now, with fiction, it’s already a problem, because you end up falling in love with people who DON’T EXIST (i.e. Percy Jackson, Peter Kavinski – not sure if that’s how you spell it but, oh well – Liam James etc.) and find yourself just WISHING to be their female love interests.
Now, imagine – just IMAGINE – what happens to you when the people who you have fallen so deeply for end up dying. Imagine the emotional reaction which that incites. (I don’t have to imagine, I’ve cried very many times)
So take those feelings – those imagined or real feelings, whatever – and think, for a moment, how much more painful this would be for you knowing that these people REALLY existed.
The title ‘Historical Fiction’ is slightly misleading, because it makes you think that the authors have imagined every single person and event that happened. This is quite untrue. As a matter of fact, the only reason that they have to call it ‘Historical Fiction’ is because sometimes, certain events are made up for creative purposes, as not every single event was recorded in the history books, and there are many rumours and conspiracy theories which the writers can choose to investigate or disregard. And of course, there is no way of guaranteeing that any of the dialogue which takes place ACTUALLY took place. But, technically speaking, it is VERY much real.
For me, the QUEEN of Historical Fiction is Philippa Gregory. (Seriously, fight me on this). Alison Weir, Jean Plaidy and all those are good as well, but my absolute favourite is Philippa Gregory. At any rate, I’ve read an awful amount of Historical Fiction (especially hers… actually, ALL of hers) around the Tudors, starting from, like, Jacquetta of Burgundy, all the way to Elizabeth I…
But let me tell you:
Nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING can prepare you for the intensely deep connections which you form with these ACTUAL human beings as you read. Because of the skilled depiction of characters who are so often presented as evil, or seductresses, or witches (i.e. ANNE BOLEYN) you find yourself actually sympathising with these people who we cast off as horrid, and in fact see a human side to them.
But, I’m going off here. That wasn’t my original point. I could talk about the Tudors and their lineage ALL day, but I’m here to whine about my dead OTPs.
So as I was saying. When you form a close personal bond with these people, it is almost as if you are there with them, falling in love with them all over again and then suddenly…
BAM. One of them is dead.
No seriously. Everything genuinely happens that quickly. Which is even worse, because you’re just sitting there reading about how the protagonist’s husband ‘incites feelings of happiness and a never-ending joy which she never thought she could ever experience, and how she feels so blessed to be carrying his child and the pride she feels of their two eldest in the nursery’…
And then suddenly, a messenger appears and is like to her, “Oh he’s dead.” (But in a much more circuitous way, because they NEVER say anything outright, my days! There’s always a really long pause, and usually the avoidance of eye contact until eventually, the protagonist figures out what has happened before the messenger can even deliver his message).
And you can just sense her distress as she has to ask SUPER calmly, (like a lady of course), “What happened?”
The answer is usually a variant of: Killed in battle/fever or plague/sweating sickness/don’t know, he just didn’t wake up/was murdered.
And it’s just the reactions! Because she has to take it all in calmly and dismiss the servant and she is dying inside because just a minute ago, she was GUSHING about him and now suddenly, he is gone. At any rate, the fact that these people existed makes it even worse. Because this is a REAL person’s grief that you are sharing. (Yes, I cry every single time one dies). And what I’ve noticed is that EVERY SINGLE ONE of my real life OTPs have either had premature deaths or been split up.
A la my list:
- Dowager Queen Katharine (Princess of Valois) and Owen Tudor
This one got me because technically speaking, she wasn’t supposed to marry him. She was a Dowager Queen and he was a servant but of course TRUE LOVE PREVAILED and they got married despite it all. They had three lovely sons (one of whom was the father of King Henry VII and the grandfather of King Henry VIII) and a daughter (but she died)… And then Katharine went a bit mad and LEFT OWEN to join a convent, because she didn’t want to put him through the stress of her being mad and forgetting herself. (Her dad had a mental illness too, so it was probably hereditary). After which she DIED in the abbey and Owen was arrested and was later released. After which he joined some Welsh uprising (I’m just summarising here, obviously it was a lot longer process than that) and was captured and EXECUTED.
- Elizabeth Grey (nee Woodville) and King Edward VI of England
They met and he fell in love with her even though she was a widow of the opposite house (Yorks and Lancasters) but they got married in secret and he defied EVERYONE for her… and then he just died. Randomly. Of some sickness or something. And just left her behind, and she was vulnerable and had to claim sanctuary (basically, the majority of the court hated her and her family and… ARGH).
- Anne Boleyn and Henry Percy of Northumberland
Everybody always casts Anne Boleyn as some vicious, man-stealing woman, but nobody remembers that her family was one of THE most powerful families in all of England. The Howards were very ambitious and had no qualms in putting one of their girls on the line just to catapult the rest of their family into Royal favour. Nobody ever thinks about the fact that Anne Boleyn had a life before King Henry VIII. In fact, she was in love with a young courtier called Henry Percy, and the two of them were so sweet and lovely and they were planning on getting married.
But they were denied. And split up. And then Henry Percy was forced to marry someone else. And Anne Boleyn ended up swiping King Henry from under Katharine’s nose… and was later rendered headless.
- Princess Katarina of Aragon and Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales
Better known as Katharine of Aragon, she never was supposed to marry Henry. In fact, she married Henry’s elder brother Arthur (who later died) and they were young, but there were reports that the young couple were so in love and doted on each other so much. Imagine. You’ve come from a faraway country to get married and you’re so in love with your new, young, handsome husband (which is a lot more than most Princesses could ask for, TRUST ME) and you’re so looking forward to having his heirs and being a good Queen… and then suddenly he’s dead.
And then you have to marry his brother in order to keep your dower lands.
I have loads more real life OTPs from this time period, but let’s just limit it to those ones before I get too emotional. Literally. I’m crying as I write this. YES, it is that deep.
I’m going to stop now, before my tears mingle with the electric circuit of my laptop and break it or something.
Love from the tearful Queen Rianna