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juleskicks in ship_manifesto

Aragorn/Boromir/Arwen (Lord of the Rings)

Title: The Wacky Love of Two Men and an Elf Princess
Author: juleskicks
Spoilers: Well, the books have been out for half a century and the movies for a couple of years. Is it really possible to be spoiled at this point?
Email: webmistress at imnotbitter dot net
Personal Website: imnotbitter.net

Two men and an Elf princess are found naked on the table in the Hall at Imladris...



So, jennyo told me, while we were on the phone one night, that she really wanted to see me do the A/B/A essay for ship_manifesto. Because the OT3, she is a cunning and moody mistress. And I've been loving A/B/A for... wow, almost two years now. Damn. Anyway. I've had my OT3 for almost two years, so I don't think it's unreasonable that I should tend to know what's the what with it, and with writing threesomes in general. And I don't tend to do well with meta, but when it comes to Jen, I am kind of a pushover. And thus, I am standing here before all of you today, with my manifesto.

(The last One True Anything I had was Mulder/Scully, back when I was a wee little fangirl, so that should tell you something about how much I love my Aragorn/Boromir/Arwen.)

"What the hell, 'Dru?" you might ask. Or perhaps, if you know me better, "What the hell, Jules?" (although if you know me as Jules, you probably already knew that I dig the A/B/A). At any rate, you may be confused. Perhaps you're frightened. Perhaps you know little to nothing about Lord of the Rings at all, so you're mainly going WTF because you have no idea what I'm talking about. In which case, allow me to introduce you to these characters, and then I will go on and explain a few things to you about why I dig the A/B/A. Perhaps, by the very end, you will dig it, too, or at least be on your way to digging it.

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, was raised among the Elves when his mother brought him there. He is the last of the line of the Kings of Men, and the only human in the Fellowship of the Ring who survives. In the end, he is crowned the King of the Reunited Kingdom, and he and Arwen are married. Owing to Elf blood far back in his ancestry, Aragorn's lifespan is longer than that of most humans, but he is by no means immortal: "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen", in the Appendices of RotK, and a scene in Jackson's The Two Towers both include details of Aragorn's death and funeral. Aragorn has travelled all over the lands of Middle-earth by the time the main action of Lord of the Rings takes place, and he and Arwen are betrothed. He is a cautious, serious person, with deep reservations and doubts about himself and his ability to do what he must do or what he wants to do.

Arwen Undomiel is the daughter of Elrond, the Lord of Imladris. The phrase "Elf princess", by the way, is technically incorrect, as Elrond isn't really King of anything, but it's more fun to say. And if I said "Two men and an Elf", everyone would just figure I was talking about Legolas. Which, if you know anything about me, you know that I definitely am not, as Legolas bores the hell out of me at best and makes me want to kill him at worst. But, moving on. Arwen has, within book canon, twin brothers who are older than her. Galadriel is Arwen's maternal grandmother; her mother, Celebrian, sailed for the Undying Lands after she was tortured by Orcs to a point where her only chance for survival lay across the Sea. Although Elves are immortal, Arwen chooses to remain in Middle-earth with Aragorn, rather than sailing with the rest of her kin, and eventually, she dies. Her part in the books is very small; a couple of brief mentions outside of the Appendices to Return of the King. It's expanded a fair bit for the films, and original drafts of the script called for it to be expanded even further (she was meant to be among the Elves who come to Helm's Deep in The Two Towers, for example). She is brave -- even in the books, where she doesn't face off alone against the Ringwraiths, she is nonetheless willing to give up everything she knows, even knowing that there's a good chance that Aragorn may not come back from the Quest (which points also to an essential -- maybe not optimism, but hope -- in Arwen).

Boromir is the son of the last ruling Steward of Gondor, Denethor II. He has one sibling, his younger brother Faramir. His mother, Finduilas of Dol Amroth, died when he was nine years old (Faramir was four). He comes to Imladris, Elrond's domain, in the books because Faramir had a prophetic dream, having "[taken] the journey on myself" because it was such a dangerous path, and in the films because Elrond has called for a council to determine the fate of the Ring, and Denethor sent him as a representative of Gondor and its interests. He volunteers to join the Fellowship of the Ring, but eventually, his own fears for the fate of his people and his home, desperately in need of help (help which Aragorn could give as King, and which Boromir resents that Aragorn will not give) are used by the Ring to corrupt him. He tries to take the Ring from Frodo, fails, and soon after dies attempting to protect Merry and Pippin from the Uruk-Hai who have attacked the Fellowship.

For attempting to take the Ring, Boromir is frequently character-raped characterized as a villain, but it's much more complicated than that. He was not evil. He was human, and immediately afterwards, he sacrifices his own life in an incredible act of bravery and selfless heroism. He tells Aragorn, in the first film, that "there is weakness, but there is courage, also, and honor, to be found in Men", and I tend to think that some of that same optimism/hope that I find central to Arwen is in Boromir, as well. He's not only the son of the ruling Steward, he's also a military leader in Gondor, and he's seen first-hand not only what dangers they face, but also the incredible bravery and heroism that the very people the Elves seem, in his eyes, so hasty to write off as selfish and hopeless, are capable of.

Now, my own road to A/B/A is a long one, so I can't exactly blame you if your initial reaction is one of "wtf are you smoking?". When I first saw FotR in theaters... I was not that impressed. I didn't get what the big deal was. I couldn't tell a lot of the characters apart. In fact, it was the end of the film, during Boromir's death scene, before I realized that there were, in fact, two human characters.

But I started seeing a lot of 'fic for it. And then I started reading fic for it. And then I started reading the books, and then I got the DVD of Fellowship, and then, one day, I realized I was a fan. I was a little confused as to how it had happened, but what the hell? I went with it.

I found that, as a rule, I was drawn to the character of Boromir. Specifically, to Aragorn/Boromir slash. I found some great stuff, I liked the pairing, and I could argue endlessly with people about different takes on the pairing. One thing bugged me, though: the tendency, among slash writers, to simply write Arwen off in one line. Because as much as I loved the slash, I also recognized that Aragorn loved Arwen deeply, and was not likely to view sleeping with someone else as something easily written off.

One night, reading another story that did this, I rolled my eyes and muttered, jokingly, "You know, the main reason she'd probably be upset is that they didn't let her watch. Or ask her if she wanted to join in." It was really late, and I ended up... dwelling on that thought. And then I realized that I had kind of a nifty idea on my hands.

I took it as divine approval when I got my first plotbunny, an ultra-smutty mental image, while I was sitting in church a couple of weeks after. I mean, God was telling me to go forth and multiply and sow the A/B/A love, who was I to argue?

And, okay, I know it sounds really obnoxious to say "I started the whole thing! Before me there was nothing!" but when it comes to A/B/A... I kinda did. Mainly just because I was obsessive and kept thinking about it, and I kept talking about it, and I kept writing about it, and I made a community on lj, and I started an archive for it and then, one day, I looked up, and, hey, cool! Other people are doing this too! Yay!

Now, I will freely admit that one of the main reasons I dig the A/B/A is 'cuz it's hot. Whoo, is it ever hot. Let's take a moment and just picture it.

Or possibly a few moments.

Anyway.

There's a reason I tend to do a lot of Boromir/Arwen interaction in my A/B/A stories, and while a big part of it is that I think more interaction between them would be fascinating and that they'd get along really well, an equally big a very small part of it is, how much would I give to be the ham in that sandwich? Answer: a lot. And I stand by my original snide comment that sparked the whole thing to begin with -- the main reason Arwen wouldn't mind finding out that Aragorn and Boromir were lovers is that she, like the rest of us, is fully aware of how smokin' they are, and if she has half a brain, her main objection will probably be "You bastard! You didn't ask me to play, too?"

That aside, though, I think there's a lot that can be done with these three. As I'll explain again later, I tend to think the idea that Aragorn and Boromir hate each other or are constantly at each other's throats is crap; I think they have great respect for each other, and even affection and genuine liking for each other. No one can dispute the fact that Aragorn and Arwen adore one another. And although we can only speculate on what Arwen and Boromir's relationship may/could have been like, I, personally? Think it would've been a good one.

That said, though, there are a lot of problems, too. Which is partly why it's so interesting.

Now, the nice thing about the usual problem of writing threesomes in pretty much any fandom, namely, that it's not just a two-person relationship with an extra person thrown in, there's a whole set of extra complications and issues and dynamics that arise in the long term, is that for A/B/A, if you're not going AU and leaving their canon fates as they are? There is no long term. They'll be separated after a couple of months (Boromir arrives in Imladris on 24 October, and the Fellowship departs on 25 December), and by the time Arwen and Aragorn are reunited, Boromir has been dead for several months.

If you're going the AU route, however, and Boromir doesn't die in your story, then there are some problems you're going to have to deal with, outside of the ones you might want to address anyway (namely, that no one in the LotR-verse is exactly a poster child for the "polyamory yay!" school of thought, and while I, personally, tend to buy more of a sexually liberal attitude from the Elves, that's more my thing than anything else, and the next fangirl might not agree with me on it).

The biggest problem is that Aragorn and Arwen? Are a pairing of whom you can say "theirloveisSOmeanttobe" without any trace of sarcasm, because you know what? It is. It is almost, if not completely, impossible to convince me, personally, that Aragorn seriously considered Eowyn as a romantic possibility, for example. In the long term -- and, frankly, even in the short term, although if they're in the "honeymoon" period, and still going all "whee! I have to really hot lovers! and I love them so!" it might not show up as clearly -- jealousy is going to be an issue. Three is a very unstable number for relationships, beause someone's usually -- if not always -- going to end up being the odd man out, and frankly, that someone is probably going to be Boromir (although again, I believe that Arwen and Boromir, as two people whose fates rely in no small way on Aragorn and the paths he chooses, would connect, and would get along very well in general, which is why some of my favorite A/B/A stories focus on Arwen and Boromir and their relationship). And as someone whose fate is bound up in Aragorn's choices, who does not really know much about the Elves and could even be interpreted as kinda xenophobic where they're concerned, that's something that's just going to alienate and anger Boromir further. Which, really, could make a totally interesting story about Boromir's corruption, but that's beside the point, which is that there are a lot of problems that should be addressed if you want to write something beyond "whee! pretty!"

Not that "whee! pretty!" is bad. I would definitely dig more of that. Because wow, are they pretty. Hell, plenty of what I write for them is just "whee! pretty!", so I'm totally not disparaging it.

Now, there's also a tendency to characterize any Aragorn/Boromir relationship, whether it's sexual, romantic, platonic, whatever, as being about power struggles, specifically "Boromir chafes under Aragorn's rule/potential rule" type things. While there are many issues to deal with in their relationship, I don't think this is one of them. In fact, I, personally? Think it's really, really stupid, and I honestly have a lot of trouble understanding that point of view. Boromir wants what is best for his people. He respects Aragorn, and knows that Aragorn is both capable of being a good ruler and fit to rule Gondor. His anger with Aragorn with respect to his rightful place as King comes from the fact that as he sees it, Aragorn, who is likely the one person who can save Gondor, is unwilling to do so.

(Depending on how familiar with/accepting of the culture of the Elves you want to interpret Boromir as being, he may have issues with the fact that Aragorn was raised by Elves and may act more Elvish than human, or with the fact that Aragorn's future Queen is an Elf, but he doesn't have a problem with the fact that Aragorn is going to be King in and of itself.)

As for Boromir and Arwen's interactions, speculation is pretty much all we have, because they never actually do interact in canon. While this leaves lots and lots of room for authors to play around, and is comforting because there's really nothing that could be said to be the "wrong" Arwen-Boromir interaction, it also means we've got nothing to start with, and that can be hard. I, personally, think that once they got to know each other, they'd get along quite well, so I tend to write that -- whether it takes the form of moments of shared fear over their respective fates, fear that Aragorn, as the person on whom so much of their fates rely, can't really understand, or moments of them being silly, teasing each other, making each other laugh and generally making Aragorn roll his eyes and try not to laugh 'cuz it'd just encourage them. You might not agree, and the plus side of the "no real Arwen and Boromir interaction in canon" thing is that I'm a lot more willing and able to be convinced when you tell me why you think it'd be different than I may be when you disagree with me on how, say, Aragorn and Boromir would interact in a certain scene, because we don't have anything already written to go on. It's a trade-off.

So, have I convinced you that there may, in fact, be something to this whole Aragorn/Boromir/Arwen thing? Are you currently saying to yourself "Ooh, this could be really interesting/brilliant/hot, I wonder where I can start"? Well, that makes me dance with glee, because the world always needs more A/B/A. There is an archive: Dying In His Name, and an lj community, dyinginhisname.

As for particular stories... gah. Oh, god, it's hard to choose. The great thing about this threesome? There is a very, very low crap-to-great ratio. For me, Voleuse's No Name Possible is probably right up there near, or at, the top. It's AU, in which Boromir succeeded in taking the Ring and survived, and it's both dark and sad and, simultaneously, oddly hopeful, just the characters are, and so very achingly beautiful. Mary Borsellino's Six points on a wheel of colour is a wonderful AU, too, which I will always adore and not just because it was written for me. Elly's The Gravity of Making Light is exactly what I love to see, with so many different emotions and layers and even though none of them forget what awaits them (it's set before the Fellowship leaves Rivendell), it's also sweet and happy as well.

Honestly, reccing is a difficult business for me when it comes to A/B/A. Like I said, the crap-to-good ratio is low, perhaps nonexistent -- there's nothing on that archive that I couldn't read a thousand times without getting sick of.

So, yes, that is my OT3. And oh, how I do love them so. Thank you, and prepare to resume normal traffic patterns.

Comments

You have a suporter here, A/B being my first LotR OTP.

(namely, that no one in the LotR-verse is exactly a poster child for the "polyamory yay!" school of thought, and while I, personally, tend to buy more of a sexually liberal attitude from the Elves, that's more my thing than anything else, and the next fangirl might not agree with me on it)

Well, for one thing, I have no problems with polyamory, I doubt you ever watch much of the LotR end of theatrical_muse (I know Buffy doesn't have Varda or Aduvar friended) but my Vala is in a poly relationship.

But anyway, already friended the comm, will save this post to memories and will likely get around to reading a few fics soon. :)
Well, no, I don't have a problem with polyamory, myself. But as a rule? I don't think the people in the Tolkien-verse are immediately going to go "Hey, threesome! That sounds good!" The fact is, it's still not something that most people in the modern world are going to think of right away, and that's gonna hold even more true in Middle-earth. So there's a certain amount of work that has to be done to make this believable.
Hmm, this is quite good. Actually I've been at the "Dying in his name" site and read some stuff, thought it was all good fun. I jump on board semi-quirky ships pretty easily, and I like this one. :-)

Oh, and your icon here is very delicious. There wouldn't happen to be a fic that goes with it, would there? That would be too good to be true.
Oh, how very interesting :) Good job!
sexually liberal attitude from the Elves

I'm curious about this part, and I say that with no intent of being confrontational, I mean I really am interested in discussion. :) I mean, The Man himself (who was a little too obsessed with elves and sex and writing LONG essays about it ^_-) wrote that for elves, the very act of having sex makes them married, now and forever, bound at the soul-ular level and so on and so forth.

So...how's it work? ("Elf-sex is different in my take on the universe" IS an acceptable argument with me, by the way, I'm not a *total* purist. ^_-)

Excellent essay, by the by. Threesomes seem like a hella great challenge to write. I may have to look into some of those links. ;)
<3!

Fabulous essay. I do love these three a whole lot. The whole world needs to as well.
Great essay! It made me want to watch FOTR again.

And thanks for the rec!
Yay! God, I love this ...tri-pairing. Wait, that's like six people. But you know what I mean.

You should link to your own ficathon, silly.
blue by darkhavens

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