This Wednesday’s prompt is couples who started out hating each other. I didn’t realize I had so many contenders until I realized I had to cut this post into two: book couples and TV couples. TV couples to come soon, hopefully.
Sansa & Petyr (A Song of Ice and Fire NOT the garbage show which takes a completely different and unwarranted direction with these two): Initially I thought this prompt indicated not pairings that went from hating each other to loving each other, but pairings that I love even in the face of blistering shame. Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish fit that category rather well, because, well, have you ever seen a more messed up dynamic (well, there’s Jaime and Cersei, who happen to be my other favorite pairing from ASOIAF – do you see a trend here?)? Sansa is the daughter of the woman Petyr once loved. She didn’t love him back in the same way, and ended up marrying someone else. Petyr never moved on. Now, he has attached himself to Sansa, who happens to be the spitting image of her mother. Petyr’s interest in Sansa alternates between fatherly love and lovers’ lust, a rather disturbing contradiction. This bizarre combo is also interspersed with Petyr’s ambition: he claims to want to marry Sansa off in order to help her win back Winterfell, but whether he is doing this for Sansa or to further his own power (or both) is not quite clear, though he is certainly vocal about declaring his love (and lust) to her, and her consent to his sexual advances is dubious at best. Sansa’s feelings for Petyr are equally ambiguous – she admits she cares for him, but also recognizes that there are two sides to him, one kind and friendly, one scheming and ruthless. She has trouble telling the two apart. At the same time, he’s the only person she has left in the world, so she can’t help but rely on him. Their relationship is so bizarre, so complex and twisted, so multi-layered, so dark and creepy and inappropriate, that I can’t help but be utterly fascinated by it.
Alina & The Darkling (The Grisha Trilogy): Remember what I said about loving messed up pairings? Alina and the Darkling don’t start out hating each other either, not exactly, but their relationship certainly devolves into a complex interplay of hatred and attraction. Initially believing that The Darkling is a force for good, Alina allows herself to be swept up into his seduction of her. He beguiles her with his declarations of their similarities, their burgeoning powers, and how they are going to change the world together. Alina is drawn to his power and his stature, the fact that they are indeed two of a kind, but she quickly realizes The Darkling is bound to be her enemy. Despite this, I don’t think she ever forgets the hold he had on her.
Jannik & Felicita (House of Sand and Secrets): These two are interesting because they didn’t start out hating each other at all. In the first book, they’re friends well on their way to becoming more, but tragedy tears them apart. In the second book, they are in a marriage of convenience. Even at this point, neither of them hates the other, but their relationship is fraught with their tenuous social status and Jannik’s precarious position as a hated minority. Misunderstandings blossom like thorny flowers between the pair, leading each to believe that they are hated by the other, when in fact they are so in love with each other they can barely see straight.
Hanani & Wanahomen (The Shadowed Sun): I always thought I hated romance until I read N.K. Jemisin’s Shadowed Sun. In this book, she crafts a love story that I didn’t even realize was a love story until nearly the very end. It starts with Hanani and Wanahomen on opposite sides of the spectrum in status and personality – Hanani is the only female Sharer-Apprentice from Hetawa, and Wanahomen is a prince-in-exile fighting to take back his kingdom. Hanani is calm, level-headed, compassionate, while Wanahomen is rash, hot-tempered, and ruthless. Their relationships starts out quite tense, as opposite personalities clash, but as they live together among the Banbarra tribe, both as outsiders, their feelings for one another intensify from intense dislike to intense love. Jemisin’s talent shines through here; this is such an incredibly subtle and well-crafted romance.
Alabaster & Syenite (The Broken Earth Trilogy): Yes, another N.K. Jemisin example. I swear, this lady is brilliant at everything she does, and if one day she decided to forego fantasy and just write straight-up romance, I would totally be there for it. Initially, Alabaser and Syenite don’t like one another at all. They have two competing worldviews, though Syenite’s is born more out of naivete and lack of experience than anything else (Alabaster is significantly older than her). The two are sent on a dual mission, to answer the call of a city that fears a geologic anomaly, and along the way, to get pregnant. What begins as a fraught relationship burdened by mechanical sex blossoms into a we-only-trust-each-other type of thing. As Alabaster and Syenite embark on a relationship with another man (yes, all at once) and have a child together, their bond strengthens and deepens.
Honorable Mention: Hades & Persephone
Shout-out to the original hate-to-love pairing, am I right? Though there are many interpretations of the myth, the one I hold near and dear is that Persephone went to Hades of her own free will in order to acquire power, something she never had with her mother. Though initially she and Hades were not so fond of each other, their feelings deepened into mutual love and respect, with Hades falling head over heels first.