How do I pick from among all the pairings I've loved in different media? How do I judge what's my favorite? Some, like Lockon/Tieria, hold a special place in my heart because of all the fannish effort I invested in them, but a lot of factors play into that. And it changes. So in the end, for this one I've picked something a little different.
The soldier came knocking upon the queen's door.
He said, "I am not fighting for you any more."
The queen knew she'd seen his face someplace before,
And slowly she let him inside.
He said, "I've watched your palace up here on the hill,
And I've wondered who's the woman for whom we all kill,
But I am leaving tomorrow and you can do what you will,
Only first I am asking you why."
Down in the long narrow hall he was led,
Into her rooms with her tapestries red,
And she never once took the crown from her head.
She asked him there to sit down.
He said, "I see you now, and you are so very young,
But I've seen more battles lost than I have battles won,
And I've got this intuition, says it's all for your fun,
And now will you tell me why?"
The young queen, she fixed him with an arrogant eye.
She said, "You won't understand, and you may as well not try,"
But her face was a child's, and he thought she would cry,
But she closed herself up like a fan.
And she said, "I've swallowed a secret burning thread.
It cuts me inside, and often I've bled."
He laid his hand then on top of her head,
And he bowed her down to the ground.
"Tell me, how hungry are you? How weak you must feel,
As you are living here alone, and you are never revealed,
But I won't march again on your battlefield,"
And he took her to the window to see.
And the sun, it was gold, though the sky, it was gray,
And she wanted more than she ever could say,
But she knew how it frightened her, and she turned away,
And would not look at his face again.
And he said, "I want to live as an honest man,
To get all I deserve and to give all I can,
And to love a young woman who I don't understand.
Your highness, your ways are very strange."
But the crown, it had fallen, and she thought she would break,
And she stood there, ashamed of the way her heart ached.
She took him to the doorstep and she asked him to wait;
She would only be a moment inside.
Out in the distance her order was heard,
And the soldier was killed, still waiting for her word,
And while the queen went on strangling in the solitude she preferred,
The battle continued on.
This is a song by Suzanne Vega. It's one of my favorite songs ever, and seeing it performed live was nearly a religious experience for me. But what I'm a little more reticent about is the feeling I can't shake that I ship the two title characters fiercely. After all, Suzanne Vega has stated that the song is not about romance, it's about power. But that doesn't rule out romantic subtext as one aspect of the song. Suzanne has said that while she's not sure what the "secret, burning thread" is, she sometimes thinks of relationships as threads, and that the most probable interpretation of the line is that the queen swallowed something that was hurting her. More tellingly, the soldier immediately follows up "to love a young woman who I don't understand" with, "Your highness, your ways are very strange." So combine that with "the queen knew she'd seen his face someplace before" and...well, I've always read the song as implying that the queen and the soldier were in some kind of forbidden affair. Maybe that was what led the soldier to know her well enough to question fighting for her. Maybe that was why the queen was so vulnerable to his questioning that she felt she needed to destroy him.
There are so many elements in this song that make me want more of the story between the two characters. Just what is their past together? They clearly have one. What was going on in their heads as they interacted? How has the young queen wound up in the position of directing a losing battle that serves no one but herself? What made the soldier finally decide to question her? What's the secret that's tearing the queen up inside, if it's not her relationship with the soldier? What exactly motivates the queen to make the choice she does at the end? Could she ever have decided to run away with him after all instead of having him killed? It's all left ambiguous, and of course I'm addicted to ambiguity in pairings.
There are other things that attract me to this as a pairing, too. It centers on a politically powerful female character with complex, conflicting emotions and deep flaws (who despite her ultimate decision is presented somewhat sympathetically). There's a quality of mentorship to it as well--the soldier could have helped teach the queen how to truly live, if only she'd let him. There's a perpetual conflict at the heart of it: they love or at least care for each other, but their differing statuses and ideas of duty--as well as the queen's inability to change or give up her power--destroy them as lovers and as people. And, of course, complicated power imbalances form the heart of the relationship. The obvious one is that she's the queen and he's just a soldier, and she can (and does) have him killed at any time...but on another level, he's more powerful than her, because he's come to terms with his feelings and accepted them, while she refuses to do so. I love pairings where different power imbalances cancel each other out to some degree.
This song somehow manages to have so much in it, and so much potential. Part of me wants to make a longer story out of it. But another part of me thinks it's perfect as it is.
Day 01 - What is your current favorite ship?
Day 02 - What was your very first ship?
Day 03 - A pairing that needs to happen now?
Day 04 - The pairing with the most chemistry?
Day 05 - The pairing with the least chemistry?
Day 06 - The best kiss?
Day 07 - The most heartbreaking scene?
Day 08 - The pairing with the most baggage?
Day 09 - The most believable relationship?
Day 11 - What is your dream pairing?
Day 12 - Who had the best wedding?
Day 13 - What is your favorite television pairing?
Day 14 - What is your favorite book pairing?
Day 15 - What is your favorite real life pairing?
Day 16 - What is the absolute worst pairing?
Day 17 - A pairing you thought would never work out, but did?
Day 18 - What is the cutest pairing?
Day 19 - A pairing you've rooted for since the beginning?
Day 20 - The "can't stand the sexual tension anymore" pairing?
Day 21 - A pairing you like and no one else understands why?
Day 22 - A pairing you hate and no one else understands why?
Day 23 - A crazy love triangle/quadrilateral that worked out great?
Day 24 - A crazy love triangle/quadrilateral that worked out badly?
Day 25 - A pairing that was/would-be adorable, but could never work out?
Day 26 - A pairing that you hated and ended up loving?
Day 27 - A pairing that you loved and ended up hating?
Day 28 - A pairing that you will never understand?
Day 29 - What ship had the best proposal?
Day 30 - Your favorite ship forever and ever and ever?