Disclaimer: I don't own RWBY.
The Really Big Self-Analysis/Planning Notes/Themes and Stuff
The Compost Heap
In which I talk way too much about stuff no one cares about.
What is the Goal of this Fic?
This would be my preferred version of an 'affair' story, which is the affair that never quite happens. One that is emotional, rather than physical.
The goal of the affair was to write a conflict between characters in which there was no villain. While various characters would be unsympathetic at various points, ultimately none of them were to be unreasonable or antagonistic.
What this isn't is a love story: it's a story of a marriage crisis, but while it (roughly) follows a romance narrative beat structure, it's not really a love triangle. The prospect of a relationship is raised- it's incredibly important- but ultimately the story is 'Jaune trying to work through his troubles with Ruby,' while Pyrrha was the catalyst for development, both character and drama and character drama.
The Meaning of the Title
People who followed my previous works, like Common Criminal, know that I'm a fan of Meaningful Words. Words, or scenes, that are not only important on their own- but worth coming back to and looking a new light later. Few words can be as significant as the title.
This story is "An Affair or Something." That's not just because this is part of the 'Or Something' series- my Jaune-centric AUs that focus on him not being uber-amazing like 90% of 'let's re-imagine Jaune' fics. It's because of what the 'Or Something' represents in all these works: not only a nod to the source material, but a sense of ambiguity and variability befitting Jaune's role as the changing element. Each story premise is right up there in the title… but there's always a bit of a 'something' so that the face value isn't the only way to take it.
"A Farmer or Something" is Jaune being a farmer… but also tracks Pyrrha. "A Crossdresser or Something" is, well, what it says on the tin- until the stinger adds a twist. "A Househusband Macho or Something" (which is the perfect antidote to this fic, btw- go read if you need a detox) is about Jaune the Househusband who's still a hero. And now, "An Affair or Something"…
Well, do you even know what an affair is?
There's the primary meaning of the word:
affair : a romantic or passionate attachment typically of limited duration : a secret sexual relationship between two people
This is the meaning that the reader was encouraged to take on the face of the story and the summary. Hey, Jaune is unhappy with Ruby. And there's Pyrrha. Gee, I wonder what's going to happen? Wink wink nudge nudge don't you feel clever for connecting the dots?
And the thing is- that's not a wrong perspective. There's an undeniable (and explicit) sexual tension for some time, and Jaune and Pyrrha are on the cusp of having an affair. And nearly elope. That's like an affair. Or something.
But then there's also the twist- the early tension that gets the full-Monty haymaker on an emotional level later on, when we learn Jaune is sterile. That rips open the early phases of the story, and suddenly the Title takes a new meaning: this isn't a story about Jaune's sexual relations… this is about Ruby. Ruby had an affair, or something, and that set the stage for the story.
But she didn't. (Probably.) And Jaune didn't. (Probably.) So why call it "An Affair or Something"? Wouldn't the better title be "A Tragic Misunderstanding or Something"?
Well, ignoring the far less dramatic ambiguity of that spoiler… consider the other meaning of the word 'affair.'
affair : a matter occasioning public anxiety, controversy, or scandal
And there, my readers, you have it. I think anxiety, controversy, and scandal nice summarize the events that happened, don't you?
So the title of the story is practically perfect. An affair over an affair that wasn't quite an affair, not what people (the reader or the cast) thought it was but a case of anxiety, controversy, and scandal all the same.
The entire story is the Affair in question- and everyone involved the participants.
Not to be too humble or anything, but… nailed it!
Themes and Such
There's technical and educated definitions for what themes are. I just consider them 'the unifying ideas that keep consistent over the story.'
The role of perspective was a big piece of the story set-up and drama. The story isn't first-person, but the limited third-person perspective. That point of view, even in summary, is always shaded by the viewpoint of the character in question- which, for most of the story, means Jaune.
Perspective was the means by which the same things looked differently. Different perspectives provided contrast, gave better senses of the truth, and revealed how close love and misery were.
Over the course of the story, Jaune undergoes some significant changes… but the biggest changes aren't his contexts, but his point of view. Jaune the day before his suicide attempt and Jaune the day after his suicide attempt are still in the same circumstances: Ruby and the Children are still away, Blake and Yang are still supposed to be doing cerfew, he's no stronger than he was before, and it's not like Pyrrha wasn't his friend before he tried to kill himself. It's his perspective, not his situation, that changes.
Throughout the story, despair and hope are side by side, often in the same view, even if despair is the more common perspective. The start of this was the repeat of Jaune's marriage at the start: there's the marriage he loves, and the marriage he feels. They're the same marriage- but the take-aways are completely different. In the more blatant symbolism, this is what was shown with Ruby's dream: a fond memory, so close to a living nightmare.
By the end of the story, things do change… but it's also important to realize the things that don't. Jaune still has a wife who goes away on missions. Jaune's wife is still more impressive and accomplished than he. His children are still more than a match for him. And Jaune is still weak. But what changes more than the context is the perspective- Jaune and Ruby talk more on those trips, and so he has fewer doubts. Jaune still has a modest job- but he can see productive results. Jaune's kids are still kids- but he no longer doubts them. And even though Jaune is weak, he can see and feel how he contributes.
That's the difference between Jaune's despair and his eventual optimism.
-Truth and bias
The story isn't first-person, but limited third-person. The limits are the perspective of the viewpoint character- Jaune, in most cases. Jaune isn't aware of all the facts- doesn't know what other people are thinking- and so when Jaune assigns motivations or reasonings to people, he's really projecting his own views. This shades, and distorts, the reader's viewpoint. To Jaune, who carries heavy biases, Cardin sees him off with a 'damn smile.' But to Ruby- who resists that sort of projection when she stands up for Pyrrha in absentia- Ruby can see Pyrrha's smile for what it is- just a smile, not malevolence.
Jaune is an important, key, source of perspective on the conflict. Jaune's views matter- and if we didn't see his unhappiness from his perspective, many people might not have understood it. But Jaune isn't perfect- and relying on his biases blinds the audience to what Jaune does, and does not, consider important. Jaune considers Cardin Winchester very important. From a meta-angle, the audience knows that Cardin is the go-to antagonist for a villain in RWBY fanfiction, especially a Jaune antagonist. But Cardin is only important because Jaune believes he's important.
Whereas something that everyone else, especially the audience, believes is important- Jaune's sterility- it's not actually that big of a deal. The reason the sterility can be a plot twist, a late reveal, is because Jaune doesn't spend his time bemoaning that he's sterile and that the children aren't (biologically) his. He cares that Ruby lied to him all this time. He cares that Ruby did, and possibly is now, cheating on him. But he doesn't actually care that much that he's sterile, except in so much that he thinks it's the reason Ruby is cheating.
Ruby's got an imperfect perspective as well. But her biases, and her resistance to overly biased assumptions, help provide the context and contrast to realize the truth. To Jaune, Team WBY wasn't particularly friendly, or helpful, when they weren't outright antagonistic. To Ruby, they're well-meaning friends who rally and heroically help her. They're the same people- the same reasons- but in a different light. Ruby doesn't know all the things Jaune does- but her own perspective casts her in about the same justification as Jaune. She had reason to do the things she did. She also lacked information. She also needed to communicate more.
It's through keeping perspective, multiple perspectives, that the more objective truth of the situation comes out.
Gardening is Jaune's key character trait in the story. It's his accomplishment, his skill, his validation, and his link to his family.
Being a gardener- raising plants and lives measured in weeks and months, planning on the scale of years, is an example of dedication. It's something that can seem easy- after all, plants can survive if you take a day off, right?- but is really a fair deal of work over time. Not everyone can do it- most don't even bother- but people who can do it well produce exceptional and unique results.
Jaune is that gardener. His Rose Garden is a work of art- something that, despite his weakness and limitations (his inability to grow anything but roses), he does well to the best of his ability. Jaune's beautiful garden, locked away in Ruby's home and hidden by the privacy walls, is a sense of how Jaune's talents and expression is limited by Ruby. The Rose Garden is his accomplishment, even as it's his burden, and it's something he would be able to take pride in were more people ever able to see it.
Gardening is also a link between Jaune and his family. He doesn't realize that it's already what he wanted/hoped aura and training would be- something to relate through. Ruby loves the garden- is upset when he neglects it, but cherishes her memories of it- but it's also something his children show interest in. It wasn't explicit in the summary, but the children wanting to help out and be involved in it is one of their subtle clues that they are interested in him. In chapter one there's a miss-it-if-you-blink reference that Ruby keeps the children from interfering in the Garden, then they go to Atlas to buy him tools for the Garden, when they return they offer to help him tend it, and when Jaune is gone and Ruby is fixated on Jaune it's the children try to tend to the garden by restoring and replanting the family Roses.
There's a big thematic link between the children and Jaune's gardening abilities, to be covered later, but ultimately the Garden is as much the link that binds the family together as aura, while gardening and being a gardener is an extended metaphor for Jaune's patience, perspective, and why he ultimately stays with the family.
-Responsibility and blame
An Affair or Something is not a happy story. It has a happy ending- if you aren't into Arkos- but it's not a happy story. There's a lot of misery all around, and it's got to be someone's fault, right?
Well, no. These weren't themes, so much as three guiding rules I kept in mind for the story.
Ruby says it outright, but let's go with authorial intent: there are no villains in this story. There might be the person you believe most responsible, there might be the people you dislike more, but ultimately there are no 'bad' people in the story: only imperfect people making wrong choices for reasonable reasons. Jaune is insecure and paranoid, to the point of causing scandal. Ruby is well-intentioned but careless, trying to fix everything but making things worse. The kids are, well, kids- a bit spoiled, a bit bratty, but ultimately careless more than contemptuous. Even Cardin isn't the villain: he's only antagonistic because Jaune antagonizes him first. He doesn't initiate the fight. Even if he'd be up to it, he doesn't pursue Ruby. Even if he doesn't respect Jaune, he's not out to break the marriage. There's no one person that can be blamed for everything that happens.
The flip side of this is that while there's no one person who can be blamed, there's not a single person who is free from blame for how things went wrong. Everyone played a part- even the supporting cast who might have thought they were uninvolved. Ruby calling out all of Team RWBY not only for why they might have been behind the Dear Jaune letter- but also for how they contributed to things going worse (Weiss's job-discussion, Blake's failed surveillance, Yang encouraging the kids to go to Atlas). Even, or especially, the children- who are innocent in the matter of Ruby's initial affair, but whose immaturity and issues they wouldn't admit to Jaune fed his troubles and put fuel to the bonfire of the entire family.
The key to all of this, to having an affair story with no villains and no innocents, was no malevolence. No one acted just to spite everyone else. Ruby wasn't a harpy trying to control Jaune and treat him like a doll. Jaune didn't hurt the kids in the fight because he hated them, or come back with Pyrrha in the end to rub the imminent elopement in Ruby's face. Pyrrha wasn't sabotaging the marriage, even if she would have benefited from it ending. This goes for the three key characters, but the supporting cast as well: Team RWBY, the children, even Cardin.
All of these points- no villains, no innocents, and no malevolence- were important in keeping away a sense of 'sides'- that there were good guys and bad girls and that there was a clearly right party in the affair vis-à-vis a clearly wrong party. The problem of the affair wasn't the people involved- it was the misunderstandings and lack of communication between those people.
-Moral of the Story
Call these the 'here's tips for better relationships
-Be honest and communicate with eachother
Trust is an important part of any relationship. Sounds trite, but it's true- especially if participants are separated by distance for some time. All of Ruby and Jaune's problems- all of them- could have been pre-empted, prevented, or easily solved just by talking to eachother. If Jaune had brought up adoption from the start, Ruby wouldn't have bothered sneaking to the fertility clinic. If Ruby had mentioned the fertility clinic, which she would have had Jaune confronted her, the trust wouldn't have been lost. If Ruby had shown interest in Jaune's friend, or the children talked their problems and feelings to Jaune, or Jaune talked his resentment of the kids to anyone, pretty much everything would have been resolved.\
A lack of communication can lead to misconceptions, and miconceptions that linger can turn into presumed lies and deceit. That's Bad.
-Have confidants (and friends)
The other piece of it, though, is that not everything needs to be shared. Sometimes you need to vent- or work through- or sometimes you have reasons for why you can't share everything. That where the importance of friends comes through. Emotional dependence is bad, unhealthy, and can be miserable. Having a support network you can trust- friends you can turn to when there are problems- is a key to both personal happiness and stability, but also a big help in attempting to fix problems. Even though she was the romantic rival, Pyrrha was critical for Jaune's growth and happiness. Even though they made things worse at first, Team WBY helped Ruby put together the facts and realize the issues and pushed her forward.
-Balance and moderation
As with a lot of things, extremes can be bad and disruptive. Marriages need to be based on trust- but have outlets for secrets in confidants. Jaune bounces between drinking way too much, but almost commits suicide during an enforced dry spell. The children love Jaune lots, but barely show it at all.
Finding the middle ground, the compromises, is the key.
Analyzing the Affair-
The basis of the affair, of the entire Ruby-Jaune marriage crisis, is based on the concept of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. For those who aren't familiar, the Hierarchy of Needs is a model of what's needed to achieve happiness, separated into different between mere survival and personal fulfillment. Think of a pyramid, with Happiness at the top.
Level 1 is physiological needs, the basic needs of survival. These are the base of the pyramid- obviously you can't be happy if you don't have food, water, or shelter.
Level 2 is 'safety': the sense of security of body, employment, resources, family, etc. If you're worried about losing basic things, you're unlikely to be happy.
Level 3 is 'love/belonging': friendship, family, and intimacy. The sense of not being isolated or alone.
Level 4 is 'esteem': self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others. Collectively these allow self-respect.
Level 5, 'self-actualization', is where people find happiness and contentment, and not just passion or pleasure: this is the point where abstract concepts such as morality, principles, and acceptance of facts come into play. Generally speaking, people who struggle with any of the previous levels can't stay this high for long.
The troubles in the Ruby-Jaune marriage is that Ruby and Jaune were on totally different levels. Ruby, hero extraordinaire who did all her character development and maturation at Beacon, she was a self-actualized super-girl flying high. She's strong, has friends and family, accomplishments to be proud of, a fulfilled sense of ethics and purpose, and love. She thought she had her happy ending- and she thought because she had it, Jaune had it too. But while Ruby is at level 5, Jaune is stuck at level 2. You can give physiological needs, and you can even give safety, but levels 3 and 4 aren't needs that can be given from the outside- they have to be felt by the subject.
Without his Beacon experiences and character development, Jaune utterly fails level 4, esteem: he has no respect, self or otherwise, in part because Ruby tries to give him everything he should want rather than let him achieve it himself. (Unlike in Househusband Macho, where Jaune thrives as a stay-at-home Dad because he's achieved self-respect at Beacon.) But while Ruby may be vaguely aware of that he's never had a chance to achieve something, and thinks that her loving him and helping him makes up for it, Jaune is actually drowning at level 3, 'love/belonging.' He has no friends, because they're all Ruby's friends first and foremost. Intimacy is challenged by Ruby's frequent and far-away trips away as a Huntress. And he lacks a confidant to keep his secrets.
But most of all, and this was the important big plot twist about sterility, Jaune sense of family is shattered: not only did he give up his family name which he had pride in, but Ruby's well-intentioned cover-up makes him doubt he's part of the new one. It might have been fine if the kids were closer to him, but Jaune suffers a disconnect from both his wife and the children. That reveal reveals that Jaune's not just struggling to reach level 3- with his fears about Cardin, he's actually struggling to stay at level 2, possibly even level 1. Everything that he has to meet his base needs- a job, a home, protection and family- they're all dependent on Ruby. If Ruby IS having an affair, if the children really snuck out to have a family reunion in Atlas, then how safe is he? If he lost everything he relied on Ruby for, what could he do if she took it all away? How would he even be able to provide for food, water, or shelter for himself?
His fears are wrong. His children had no such plan. And Ruby isn't a villain. In the entire story it would never be objectively implied that she doesn't love Jaune as the love of her life. Sure, she doesn't approve of his drinking habits, she's disappointed at the Cardin confrontation, and stressed after the camping trip, and angry in the final fight- but it's because, not despite, her love for him. But that's part of the problem: Ruby has plenty of love to spare, but Jaune is starving for respect. Ruby isn't giving it, and in some ways her attempts to help are robbing it.
And here's where Pyrrha comes in- not as amazon homewrecker, or liberator from an oppressive wife, but as a similarly lonely soul who offers Jaune the emotional needs he's been missing. She gives him a friend he can trust not to blab so that he can just vent. She gives him both physical and emotional intimacy, even if they never have sex. But she also helps him reach esteem by helping him succeed on his own terms with his own ability. She lets him fight a Beowolf, even after he's hurt and Ruby would have stepped in. She teaches him basic self-defense and aura so that he can try to engage with the children on their own terms. And she cares about him enough not only to stop him when he's suffering a breakdown (the near suicide of burning the Rose Garden), but respects him enough to refuse to take advantage of his emotional volatility in those hard moments. Thanks to Pyrrha, Jaune goes from a barely above Level 2 of 'Safety' to reaching into level 5 of self-actualization. Jaune is becoming that better person he always could have been.
That's why Pyrrha has a real chance of an affair- but in the end that's also why she's the one that 'loses.' The problem of making someone a better love interest is that better lover interests tend to be less inclined to cheat or have an affair. If she wanted to, Pyrrha could have settled for level 3 or level 4 Jaune- could have pushed him to accept the break from his family, had sex, and run off and had an Arkos Ending. But in refusing to exploit his turmoil and helping him become self-actualized, Jaune becomes the sort of person to whom morality and acceptance of facts matter as much or more than emotional impulses. Before he can go off with Pyrrha, has to at least try to find some sort of resolution with Ruby. Jaune, self-actualized with the return to 'Jaune Arc' and above the insecurities that plagued him, is able to deal with Ruby on her own level- and that's why they're able to reconnect and reconcile.
So in a sense Pyrrha loses because she's the better woman- or just as good a woman as Ruby, and self-actualized herself. Though less in focus, Pyrrha is also someone who struggles in level 3, emotional belonging. Jaune helps her with that- and because she already has level 4 more or less mastered, she too is in the self-actualized level of considering morals and principles. If she had wanted, she could have ruined Ruby's marriage- could have seduced Jaune at a camping trip, or after during the fight, or let herself be seduced on the final Friday- but instead she helped Jaune reason rather than emote, and did the honorable thing of trying to help him find resolution with Ruby. Which succeeded, which kinda means she failed, and certainly hurts, but it fits her character.
Fits the canon characterization of all three of them, I think. Ruby is a good girl who tries hard, but not always the most insightful into why other people are concerned. Jaune is a good guy, but is struggling for respect, self and otherwise. And Pyrrha wants to help Jaune, even if in the end he doesn't want her.
Enough sociology. Why make something so depressing that I refuse to write it in full?
The idea of the 'Ruby relationship that fails' is some of my thoughts on the pitfalls and drawbacks of the fairytale happy ending and romances for heroes (and heroines) in super-hero-esque genres. I'm a pretty big believer in the general idea of the Hierarchy of Needs, and it shows a lot of the emotional balance needed for a hero/non-hero relationship, on both sides. Ruby, aside from having a soft-spot for Lancaster shipping, made an ideal example of how good intentions and love don't necessarily make for good sound relationships. That especially true in a relationship with a severe power imbalance- Ruby is super and does super things, so how is Jaune supposed to get respect?
There are no villains in the story- not even Cardin Winchester- and no one I'd even call bad. The worst people in the story in terms of character are the kids, who are less malicious and more simply careless with the maturity one should expect of empowered pre-adolescent kids. Right up there with them is Jaune himself. Jaune's not a bad guy, but he's the worst guy in the story: he lets fear and paranoia drive him, and yet if he had ever voiced them aloud the most serious issue would have been resolved instantly.
Jaune wasn't simply ignorant about key facts- he was downright wrong as a judge of character and when assigning motivations to people, both friends and family. He believed that none of Ruby's friends would have supported him against Ruby- but both Blake and especially Yang are willing to confront Ruby over what she did to him. Had he told anyone of Team RWBY that he knew he was sterile, even Weiss or especially Ruby herself, they would have come out with the truth immediately. And his children, while disrespectful, never, ever hated him or wanted to replace him: that was entirely projecting his fears onto them. You can argue Ruby shouldn't have lied in the first place- or that Jaune was afraid what might happen if he did challenge her- but what Jaune did with that fear was all him.
Ruby's not the villain- not even particularly unreasonable considering Jaune's actions. If Ruby has a major character flaw, it's the implicit anti-silver-lining of heroic fiction like the fairy tales she wants to live: in order for the day to be saved, someone needs to be in trouble and in needing of saving first. In this scenario, Jaune is Ruby's fairytale rolled into one package: someone she rescued, protected, provided for, could love, could be loved by, and a lot of other fantastical things... that do things for her, but don't help him as much.
Jaune drives the story, and he's the guy who shows how and why not everything is great in paradise. He gets a lot of the pressures and fears that you rarely see or consider in the hero genre: insecurities, inadequacies, and the impotence (litearal and figurative) of being the weakest person in a relationship. Super-normal relationships are often glamorized, but I know at least for me it'd be hard to be in one if I didn't have an independent source of self-validation and self-respect. His wife may love him, but he doesn't believe she (or anyone else) respects him, and that's why he's attracted to Pyrrha: she's just as far above him as Ruby, but unlike Ruby's fairy tale marriage fantasy in which she's more than happy to fix any problems for him, Pyrrha empowers him to address them himself- even to the point of confronting Ruby directly about the affair and seek resolution rather than simply run off and elope with Pyrrha.
Jaune is not the singular victim in Affair, the victim to Ruby's carelessness-he's as much to blame for their marriage falling apart as she was- Ruby made a little white lie, but he's the one who never brought it up, who let it naw on him for years, and who never mentioned or addressed the root causes of his unhappiness. He's not the best husband, or the best dad, or the best person at the start. He's not bad, but he's a flawed person going through a midlife crisis, and it's about as graceful as one would expect. It's his failures more than Ruby's that drive the story: he doesn't communicate his actual fears or concerns with the people who could fix things, he doesn't make clear what he wants, and he makes excuses about his difficulties with the kids even if it's really no one's fault. It's his actions that cause the Affair, and by the same mark it's his development and self-improvement that resolves it.
Ruby is Jaune's partner in both complicity and victimhood. Some people see Ruby as the one at fault, because she was making Jaune unhappy without realizing why or what she was doing to him, and blowing off his concerns about Cardin. I think this is reasonable, if not quite fair, because the reader has an advantage that Ruby doesn't- seeing Jaune's feelings, and not just what he expresses.
Some people wouldn't see Ruby as at all at fault, because on the face of things she's not at fault at all- she's faithful, a hero, goes out of her way to try to help him with his problems, and so on. The worst she does besides lie about fertility treatment is not believe him over Cardin. And it's quite reasonable for her to do so, because she knows there was no affair or anything improper. She shouldn't abandon a friend solely based on Jaune's paranoid fears- fears which, no matter how reasonably based, were both wrong and the basis never admitted. In a sense, Ruby didn't make anything worse- Jaune did, letting his insecurities and paranoia drive his conclusions.
But, and this is important, Ruby didn't help the issue either. To go back to the end-scene 'marriage is a garden' metaphor: she saw her marriage as a beautiful garden, but didn't tend to it- she ignored the weeds, never noticed the rot seeping in, and when she realized something was wrong she tried to hack at the leaves rather than find the root of the problem. She was a good person but a bad gardener, and while she wasn't an unfaithful spouse she could have been a better wife.
Hopefully that conveys the intent of an affair with no villains.
Onto story symbolism and devices
The Rose Garden: The Jaune-Ruby Marriage
Think a small courtyard that a nice house is built around: tall walls that can feel claustrophobic, but are probably intended to feel protective and separate it from the city. An isolated area of peace and beauty. It'd have a building and bench in the center, in which a special planter with roses would be as a centerpiece, one colored rose per member of the family. With the rest of the garden being arranged with different kinds and arrangements of roses. Jaune runs the garden, and Ruby's One Rule is that it can only have roses (in part because he fails to grow anything else and she didn't want him to keep failing).
Some people believed the garden was symbolic of Jaune. That's not quite wrong, but it's not quite right either. The garden is living metaphor for the state of Jaune and Ruby's marriage. It (the marriage and the garden) is the one thing Jaune can claim as his own and be proud of- but it's also something both beautiful and isolating at the same time. High privacy walls intended to provide peace from the city make it feel like a prison, even as his beautiful wife tried to protect him from the world by keeping him safe at home. It's something he's proud of but almost no one knows exists or will ever see. Ruby's One Rule that everything else about the garden is his to control is supposed to be empowering, but the restriction (a restriction to spare his own feelings from failure) is galling and oppressive. Ruby leaves it to him as a sort of responsibility to take pride in, but at the same time almost no one else knows or ever sees it- and if no one else believes in a garden (or a marriage), can you really claim it? The open-sky is supposed to allow a beautiful view of the moon, but without the moon all it does is show how there's no stars in the sky to shine down on it.
The state of the garden changes over time to reflect the state of the marriage: it's young and vibrant at the opening when they're just married, while stifling and entrapping in the less optimistic take. It begins to be neglected as Jaune spends more time with Pyrrha. Jaune begins to tear it down and nearly burns it down the night he almost commits suicide, which is also the night Pyrrha barges into the most private part of his home and his life uninvited, and which is also the point Pyrrha begins to take a more assertive step in their relationship that lead to the almost-affair. The garden is in tatters and left unattended while Ruby is gone, and torn when she comes back and finds him missing, and left unattended even after she and Jaune fight and she has a week to mend it. The fight which sees Jaune reject his children and destroy the centerpiece with the family flowers is when it all seems ruined. But it's the children who start to mend it by saving the surviving Family Rose and planting new ones, leading to Ruby and Jaune's reconciliation. When Ruby and Jaune reconcile and move and restart the garden, they do so together in ways that change the things that weighed down on Jaune. No walls to hide it or Jaune, stars in the night sky, and two gardeners to tend it- and the relaxation of the one rule, which leads to a flower to remember Pyrrha even as the rest of the garden remains roses.
Alcohol: Dependence, Comfort, and Pyrrha
Alcohol pops up several times across the story, in positive and negative ways. Pre-story, Jaune's borderline alcoholism is his crutch for his failing marriage with Ruby. It's not a pretty thing- he's drinking his sorrows away rather than dealing with them- and it leads to some bad moments- particularly the night with Cardin. But even if it's a crutch and not pretty, it's not an entirely bad thing either- crutches are useful because they're needed at times, and the time Ruby tries to force Jaune to give it up, just as she tries to keep him from Pyrrha, is his lowest point in the series. The time Jaune runs out of drink, the third day after Ruby leaves with Cardin, is the time he needs one most and nearly kills himself. It's not healthy, but the alcohol is the symptom, not the problem.
Pyrrha is closely tied with the idea of alcohol- both of his tastes (switching from beer early on to wine with her) and in the effect she has on him. Pyrrha is the idea of 'drinking in moderation'- she helps Jaune relax, to loosen up and talk his problems out and admit things he wouldn't otherwise be willing to do sober. She gives him courage and comfort, but knows when enough is enough and when to hold back. Pyrrha not only compliments alcohol- in some cases she replaces it. When Jaune spends time with Pyrrha, he's drinking less out of need and more socially. Comfort, rather than reliance.
As a final note about the role of alcohol as a crutch: there are only two points in the story that Jaune goes an extended period without a drink. The first is the camping trip with Pyrrha, where he's living the dream and is intoxicated with her instead. The other is the epilogue when he's sobered up and given up drinking for Ruby, a symbol of him giving up Pyrrha as well. In both cases he's with one or the other, the woman taking the place of alcohol, and he's moved beyond the need or dependence for alcohol.
Stars: Hope, Dreams, and Faith
A lesser theme. The presence of stars ties to the hopes, dreams, and optimism that Jaune had and lost since his youth. In the city, where Jaune is stuck safe and sound, the light pollution blocks them from sight. In the wilderness, where Huntresses like Ruby go out and do what he only dreamed of, the stars are bright and always present. But it's dangerous out there, and so people who are safe will never see the stars and wish on them.
Jaune not seeing the stars from the Rose Garden represents how he's lost hope in his marriage. Pyrrha taking him out of the city on the camping trip to see them is important to him because it's giving him back that part of his youth that he lost. She has faith he'll be fine even in the dangers of the wilderness with Grimm around. She's been teaching him to fight, and offers him the first chance of rediscovering his dream of being a Hunter of some sort. And she's giving him a chance to have his wish come true- whether it be fighting Grimm or having her.
Obviously Ruby and Jaune's final move to the frontier where they can see the stars is part of the compromise and reformation of their marriage. It's not the wilderness- not the total abandonment of the protections and constraints of the Kingdom- but it's enough that Jaune is able to have faith and optimism in his marriage with Ruby.
Flower Language: Chapters and The Children
This one is a bit hard to explain since it didn't factor in the plot much, but- Flower Language would be a major theme of the chapter naming convention, and tied heavily into the children. For those who don't know, Flower Language is using certain types and colors of flowers to communicate message. A single full blooming red rose, like the one to survive the fight in the Garden and that Ruby showed when she made her decision, means 'I Still Love You.' A nasturtium, which is red like Pyrrha, is a flower for 'conquest' or 'victory.'
Flowers are a good way for symbolism, if a bit awkward to put into a story in parts. A general intent would have been to name specific story arcs after gardening-related themes, while using specific flowers and colors in different chapters. Probably an end-chapter 'Flower Language of the Day' segment. So instead of having Pyrrha pull out a stephanotis to give to Jaune, at the end of the chapter in which Pyrrha proposes Jaune to elope to Sanctum with her, you'd get: "Stephanotis- Happiness in Marriage; Desire to Travel." It wouldn't work perfectly- some chapters would get repeats, others might have nothing- but it'd keep the garden theme.
Moving onto the children… it doesn't reflect well in a broad summary, but the children would have been heavily tied into plant themes and imagery. They are 'budding' adolescents. Their limbs are like stalks. They make like trees and leaf to Atlus. (Blame that pun on Aunty Yang.) And so on. And they would have had flower-themed names- of flowers that had multiple meanings both good and bad, to reflect their role as both subjects of Juane's positive interest (because he wants to bond with them and for them to respond to him) and frustration (because he resents them when they don't see to and suspects they aren't his). They're a bit of a metaphor for Jaune's limited green thumb- it'd be raised a few times that the only plants he can grow are his own roses, and that nothing else responds to his attentions. The fact that the children don't respond to him is representative to his fear of how they aren't 'his' Roses.
Jaune's issue with raising them would be cast in terms of a jealous gardener- someone upset at the idea that he's nurturing and taking care of another man's seed and not his own. Likewise, the issue of sterility is important to Jaune because knows he has no seeds to grow, which haunts him as a gardener/father/man. But it's that same gardener mentality that ultimately leads Jaune to stay at the end- Ruby's comments about how the children do respond to him, that they are 'his' Roses, gives him the faith and desire to see through the bad season, just as a gardener doesn't give up just because it's winter.
Though they don't have all that many appearances, one of the distinguishing parts of the children would have been that of an ever-changing flower pin in the girl's hair. It would be a setting-appropriate example of flower language- but also a sign that they care more for Jaune than he realize. Which they always do- but the children, in addition to being immature children, have as hard a time expressing themselves honestly as Jaune does- a subtle way in which they take after him, and not just Ruby.
In the scene when they don't stand up for Jaune as he's humiliated by their classmates, it would be cast in terms of 'they wilted' and they'd show up later with a flower headpin meaning 'I'm sorry,' even if they're too awkward to say it. When they return with the gift of seeds, they'd be wearing something to indicate contrition. During the week of the fight, their pieces would indicate fear and hope where appropriate. When Jaune and Ruby reconcile and the children come in, there'd be a 'forgiveness' hairpin. A hairpin is easier to describe without explaining than dropping random flowers into the prose (or dialogue)- and pointing out that the hairpins are Jaune's gift to them would be a way to subtly indicate that they treasure something from him, even as they verbally don't want to be associated with him at school.
Though the children are cast unsympathetically throughout much of the story, it's important to understand that they aren't malevolent or malicious- they're simply kids going through a phase, and have reasons of their own that they don't want to share, and it's Jaune's perspective and biases that taint the innocuous and ignore the good. It'd be hard to demonstrate in-story- it'd have to be by non-Jaune characters like Ruby (who they are close to) or Yang- but it's not the kids don't like him. It's that they have a hard time connecting with him in turn and expressing themselves, something they take after him.
Yes, they like Hunters with aura- because they're kids in a Hunter family with two family lines that they take pride in, including the Arc side. Yes, they aren't impressed by Jaune's attempts to learn to fight- because, like their mother, they're better at it and they'd rather protect him than let him be hurt. Yes, they don't like to associate with him openly at school- because they're kids who don't like to be embarrassed, and because (like Jaune) they don't want people to think they only get in because of nepotism and favoritism. Yes, they stand by when Jaune is put in a tree… because they're kids, not brave, and they know it's wrong and are very sorry. Yes, they ran off to Atlas without permission- in a quest for a make-up/apology gift. Yes, they said it was a family thing… the Arc family.
And then there's the things Jaune simply doesn't know because they don't tell him. They never confess or confide to Jaune that they're bullied at school as Teacher's Pets if they are close to him. They never confess their desire- and utterly fail the opportunity- to protect him. They have their own desires to prove themselves and have accomplishments without him doing things for them.
Are they good at communicating that? No, not really- which is a point. Jaune does unto them what Ruby does to him: misunderstand what they try to say, and dismiss or ignore what they do. Because the children do try to reach out to him: with their flower hairpins, with their apology gift, with their outreach to 'Daddy' when he and Ruby have their first real fight, and at the school after, including asking him to come home. And- this was more subtle- they're first ones to show an interest in helping him maintain the Rose Garden. When Jaune and Ruby are fighting- when neither parent is taking care of the Rose Garden- it's the children who clean up the Family Roses, preserving Ruby's Rose. They want the family to survive- and it's that gesture that convinces Ruby to try for reconciliation.
Unfortunately Jaune is as receptive to them as Ruby was to him. Once again, it's a two-way street of blame and communication and forgiveness. They could have been clearer. They shouldn't have done some things. But Jaune shouldn't have done other things.
In the end, Jaune's relationship with the children is reflective of his trouble with the garden and his marriage as a whole. It's a conflicting bundle of love and resentment, but ultimately gives way to something better. It's not that he was a bad father, or them bad children- they were just being late bloomers, and it's through patience and cultivation (and a bit of help from Ruby, who, despite all the other issues, actually does help improve his relationship with the kids across the story) that they open up and bloom for him. Which they always would, because they were his Roses.
And that's about it. Symbolism out the wazoo. So time for some final thoughts- like 'awesome ideas that didn't make it.' Some ideas I had, or that other people had but I liked, but which ultimately weren't right for this story.
One- Ruby actually cheated
Why it'd be awesome: well, maybe not awesome, but pretty early on people were hating on Ruby for how miserable Jaune was, and were hoping Pyrrha would win. Ruby cheating would have been the vindication, and the opening for Jaune to jump ship with the moral high ground.
This wasn't impossible. I considered at one stage keeping it highly ambiguous about whether Ruby had an affair or not. The narrative summary, rather than saying 'Ruby reveals', which implies objectivity, would have hedged things in terms of 'Ruby claims,' or 'Ruby denies, of course.' Just as Jaune ultimately says it doesn't matter if she cheated or not, he'll approach repairing the marriage the same regardless, it would have been ambiguous if Ruby never had done such a thing or if she had and was just upset that she'd been caught. It would have applied in both directions: that maybe Ruby really did have an affair, but still wanted to be with Jaune, while perhaps Jaune actually did sleep with Pyrrha, but still wanted to be with Ruby, and so they both lied and both agreed to believe the other's lies.
Why it didn't work out: too close to making Ruby the villain, and subverted the theme of honesty. If Ruby had an affair, much of the dynamic of the ending would be changed. The significance of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation after misunderstandings would have been lost if one of them really was guilty. Keeping the truth ambiguous would only mar the message, and distract from other possible elements.
Two- Arkos ending
Why it'd be awesome: because Pyrrha is a champ, and key to Jaune finding happiness. Because she wasn't just a nice girl, but a good woman, and she saved Jaune from death and worse. Because, considering the troubles Jaune went through with Ruby, it's easy to feel that Ruby doesn't deserve him and that Pyrrha earned it.
Why it didn't work out: because a key premise of An Affair Or Something is self-actualization and forgiveness for assumed wrongs and mistakes. Both worked against Jaune actually abandoning Ruby over what was ultimately a series of misunderstandings. On the first part, self-actualization, the characters develop closer to their Beacon selves by the end of the story. Ruby goes from a distant, virtuous figures of questionable decisions to someone more personable, less secure, but unquestionably sincere. Jaune goes from insecure to confident and self-accepting. And Pyrrha… Pyrrha, like in canon, goes back to being the girl who would do the right thing for the guy she loves, even if he didn't choose her. It's falling back in line with their canon character developments.
But the non-canon part- the emphasis on the idea and theme of forgiveness- this was important for a story about an Affair built around misunderstandings, where everyone was guilty of misinterpretations. Ruby wasn't cheating. Jaune didn't cheat. Pyrrha wasn't a home-wrecker. In coming to terms with what had happened- and forgiving each other- the conflict is resolved… but at the same time, the basis for Arkos is removed. Yeah, Jaune could be happy with Pyrrha… or he could be happy with Ruby, who he's spent most of the story trying to be happy with, and who he has real reasons to stay with now that the air is cleared.
Three- Pyrrha is a figment of Jaune's imagination
Why it'd be awesome: because for the first half of the story or so, it'd be perfectly feasible. It's not that Jaune has made a new friend: it's that Jaune has hit so low a low that he has an imaginary friend to help him through the misery. The reason Ruby never asks about it, the reason Blake and Yang don't see her enter the home, is because she doesn't exist. Jaune simply walks out of his home into the wilds that weekend, suicide by Grimm rather than by self-immolation… and survives. With delusions even as he heals.
Why it didn't work out: because that was never the plan. Just an amusing thought someone pointed out in the reviews. The real reason Blake and/or Yang don't stop Pyrrha from entering the home and the Rose Garden is because they weren't there, relying on the threat of observation to keep Jaune in line. Well, that or…
Four- the Dear Jaune letter writer was from Team RWBY
Why it'd be awesome: because there'd be a hidden actor trying to ruin Ruby and Jaune's marriage… just not who anyone suspected. Some (or all) of Team RWBY wants Ruby and Jaune to be separated- because Jaune's not good enough for Ruby, so that Ruby can have someone she deserves, or even out of some misplaced jealousy that Ruby put family before them.
Pretty sure I went through this in enough detail about 'how,' but there was a point I seriously considered Team RWBY as (hidden) potential antagonists, with each one of them potentially being behind it and one of them (never determined) actually behind it. Yang had the least reason/least thought, besides a general 'Jaune isn't good enough for my precious Sis'- though if Ruby had been cheating on Jaune, then Yang's motivation would have been to break the marriage so that Jaune wasn't trapped and free to go with someone who would be faithful to him. Blake would have been the anonymous, 'helpful,' friend: she noted the clues, followed Jaune and Pyrrha around, and took the photos as evidence and ultimately gave it to Ruby anonymously. Weiss was… well, it never got past 'random musing,' but if she wasn't 'Ruby's too good for him and could do better,' Weiss would have been the jealous White Rose shipper. Weiss implicitly has an unhappy marriage, and would have wanted her previous closeness (or more) with Ruby, and what better way than by providing the basis for a divorce? Ruby would be heart broken, Weiss would offer her support, and White Rose and Arkos could both ship in different directions, happily ever aft- yeah, no.
Why it didn't work out: need I mention 'bad idea'? And that this story has no villains? Putting anyone from Team RWBY as the author of the Dear Jaune letter would have been putting a bad girl on the front and center target list. None of them had the role, the buildup, or even the reason to do so secretly- they'd be honest with Ruby outright if they knew of the affair. Making them the villain, aside from distracting from the importance of 'forgiveness' and 'reconciliation' that the story was going towards, would have introduced massive character tension late in the story, for no real gain, significant thematic loss, and major distraction. The story's already depressing enough- it doesn't need to needlessly slander the supporting cast.
Five- Ruby was sterile
Why it'd be awesome: this idea was part of how Ruby should be played a bit more sympathetically later on, as well as a hint of a tie-in to the 'Weiss wants White Rose' idea. In short- while Jaune may or may not have actually been rendered sterile by the pre-story events, what he didn't know is that Ruby was rendered sterile by the same event. Ruby always wanted children with Jaune, but was afraid what (insecure) Jaune might do if he knew she couldn't conceive. So she and Weiss go to a fertility clinic for Ruby's sake- Ruby is a surrogate mother for her own children. The egg donor is ambiguous, just like the sperm donor- on one hand it might be Yang (to help ensure Blond hair, to make Jaune be the credible father, and help give basis for Jaune's belief that RWBY was in on it), but in the abandoned 'White Rose' angle the egg donor was Weiss, who in that twisted aborted arc would have seen the children as 'hers and Ruby's.' (Again- did I mention it was a bad idea?) Ultimately, Ruby's pregnancy is still a cover up- but it's a different mis-interpretation on Jaune's part. In fact, the real twist might have been that Jaune was the father- but it was Ruby that wasn't the (biological) mother.
Why it didn't work out: thematic simplicity on the idea of 'Jaune's Roses,' with a bit of dislike for how it shifted the meta-guilt and blame around. It's not that it's a bad idea- but it didn't make things better on a thematic level. On the first side, the idea of Jaune only being able to cultivate roses- the children are metaphorical roses, because they are Ruby Roses children and thus Roses. It's not that maternal surrogacy was bad, but if they hadn't been Ruby's biological children it would have countered the 'can only grow roses' motif, which would likewise have undercut Jaune's success in the epilogue in growing Pyrrha's flower. In a similar sense, the 'jealous gardener' motif depended on them not being 'his' seeds- which was the reason Jaune was ultimately sterile. Whereas if they are from his seed, then Jaune not demonstrating the growth to overcome the fear and paranoia of accepting 'his' children.
On the blame side, the idea shifted some of the meta-assessment and blame for the affair away from Ruby and back onto Jaune. If Ruby is sterile and kids are Jaune's, then Jaune's repudiating of his own children is both less sympathetic and less understandable. Rather than 'he had reason to think she cheated, but took it out on innocents,' it would have been 'he had no real reason to think she cheated, but took it out on his own kids.' And if both of them are sterile, then it contrasts Ruby and Jaune's handling of the situation- Ruby treats them like they're her own, while Jaune rejects them, even though they're both on the same level. But by having Ruby be fertile, but Jaune be sterile, we not only get the appropriate sort of power dynamic: Jaune is impotent, weak, and feels a failure of a man, Ruby is strong and fertile- but Ruby's flaw of trying to decide what's best for Jaune gets to play in full force. Ruby doesn't have to deal with the perspective that Jaune struggles with, Ruby can't quite empathize and thinks it doesn't matter, and Ruby makes a choice for Jaune's own good, thinking she knows better than him while underestimating his own resilience. That, in my view, works better to represent the dynamic of Ruby and Jaune's relationship: Ruby having everything, all the ability, while Jaune feels he can't contribute (even to creating his own child).
It's not that idea is bad- but it'd be trading one sort of 'feels' for a roughly equivalent sort, that wouldn't even have the merit of tidy symbolism to be organized around. It would be a twist for a twist's own sake, rather than advancing the themes or conflict.
Here are some things people had confusion on or wanted to know, that wasn't addressed otherwise or may have been unclear.
-How long does the entire affair last?
Not including the prologue or epilogue, the vast majority of the events take place over three weeks: the week of Jaune's attempts (and failures) to improve the marriage leading up to the party, the week of Ruby's trip, and the week of the schism (starting Monday with the first fight, with the resolution being that weekend).
The ambiguous period, which is deliberate, is the first arc period for which Jaune and Pyrrha are drinking buddies who meet outside of the bar to socialize. Jaune doesn't exactly go to the gym for a week, take a self-defense class, and think he can show off aura. This is the point at which post-a-day would have been used to summarize an ambiguous amount of time, rather than posts-a-day to convey all the events happening on a single day.
-What gender are the children?
At least one of them is a girl, but the second is reader preference. It'd be canonized in a full written work, probably, but there's some advantages to ambiguity in a summary. And the fact that the two are always together- like peas in a pod- kind of makes them a single character in effect. Which they originally were, except I thought the 'second child' was important both to emphasize the severity of Ruby's deception, and to prove Jaune's ability in raising Roses.
But personally I prefer thinking of them as two daughters. Besides fitting the flower laungauge headpiece thing better, two daughters would better fit the 'take after Ruby' dynamic at the first, both in the 'more talented huntress fanatics,' but also the 'really want to protect Jaune, but aren't good at it.' You could have a boy, sure- in fact, having a somewhat effeminate boy who wears the flower hairpiece anyway would be a reason for him to be teased at school and part of the distance with jaune- but wouldn't that be distracting? Too much for a summary, at least. The other advantage is daughters is that it gives a bit more meaning to Jaune's desire to have another child- a son to call his own as Arc.
-Do the children go to Beacon or Signal? (How old are they?)
The children are students at Signal, where Jaune works. They're young students. Their age is deliberately vague, but they're definitely younger than Ruby is in S1: very early adolescents, possibly 12 or 13. If you think that's too young… well they got in early, perhaps even due to pulling strings.
-Why does Weiss refuse to reveal the donor?
Because it's irrelevant. She knows Ruby did not cheat during the conception of the children. Putting a face and a name would make a target, but would only be a distraction. The donor would have no clue about the affair in question, and have no means, reason, or relevance to resolving it.
-Did Cardin find out about the children before the Fight?
No. The only people who know about the Children's parentage are Jaune, Ruby, and Weiss. Even Pyrrha doesn't know until after the fight, when Jaune explains.
-Who sent the Dear Jaune letter?
No one, or everyone, or a member of Team RWBY, or someone else in the cast, or someone never mentioned at all.
I'm not telling, because like the sperm donor, it's ultimately irrelevant. The sender was never important- it would only serve to put a face for a villain in a story where there is no villain. What was important was the truth, and the misconceptions, that were brought to light- those secrets, not the letter, was what was destroying the marriage.
Unlike the children genders, this is something that would never be canonized, never be sure. You can believe any person you want. It could be anyone in the cast. Or it could be none of them- just some anonymous person with their own designs, but who were so far out of the concerns of Jaune and Ruby that the sender never crossed their minds.
-Is Ruby over-protective of Jaune because of atonement for what she did to him in the past (cheating/deception)?
Kinda sorta not really. Ruby doesn't feel guilty about the donor deception until she's caught, because for so long she thinks she pulled it off. Ruby has three main reasons for being protective of Jaune- Jaune's weak, she loves him, and the Rescue Romance of the Beacon years. The first is a statement of fact. Aura or no, training or no, Jaune in this timeline will never be a remarkable, or even average, hunter. It's just too late, though his sense of self-respect is tied to trying. The second is Ruby's nature. Ruby wants to help people because she likes helping people, and she doesn't like the people she loves being upset because she loves them. Simple as that.
The Rescue Romance is something else. To Jaune, it was that superhero-normal relationship that he found himself in, in which someone so far out of his league kept saving him, fell in love with him, and it was the one adventure he ever had. It was a gift/chance/opportunity who grasped and never wanted to let go. Jaune assumed that Ruby saw it in the same way- a charming fairy tale romance in which he was the prize.
She didn't. Ruby remembers the Rescue Romance much as she'll likely remember An Affair or Something: a hard time and frightening scare in which the one she loved was nearly lost forever. Yes, Jaune was hers at the end- appreciated all the more for the scare- but she never wanted him in danger in the first place, and never wants him in danger again.
-Do I prefer to write heart-wrenching pieces like 'Affair' and 'Common Criminal', or light-hearted ones like 'Househusband Macho'?
Neither. I don't really have a preference, per see. I consider it easier to plan out a drama- I couldn't do a long comedy- but in terms of enjoyment in terms of writing, I don't have much of a preference- but then, I don't see the stories the same as most people do either, since I have the authorial perspective and meta-knowledge. I find 'Common Criminal' cathartic, not depressing. I find 'Affair' generally depressing, despite how it ends, because I can envision the weeks of buildup. 'Househusband' was and is the perfect antidote to 'Affair'- a story of an already self-actualized Jaune being a good house husband- and I'll admit I've read it more than once since writing 'Affair.'
(And if you haven't yet- I recommend you do! And leave a review at how well it works as a detox! [/shameless self plug])
I think it's important to have emotional balance, and I try to do a variety of genres and such as an intellectual exercise of sorts. My next three projects will certainly not be the tears-in-the-eyes sort of reading that 'Affair' and 'Common Criminal' were. That's not to say there won't be 'a bat made of solid feels' to hit you with- but they won't be dramas.
-(Implicit follow up) What are your next projects?
The next one, already written, is 'Oum Made a Farmer'- which will be the semi-sequel/extended part-two of "A Farmer or Something." I actually wrote this one awhile ago. Guaranteed to be posted. Consider it my apology gift to Pyrrha.
The one most likely to posted second, even if there's nothing written but some ideas, is "The Knight of Lancaster or Something," in which the Arcs trace their line to an old branch of the Vale Royal Family... which has almost no plot significance whatsoever in this romantic comedy short series. The emotional antidote for 'why can't I let Jaune and Ruby have an unreservedly happy relationship?' No real plot, no real drama, but a series of one-shots as Jaune and Ruby subvert or skirt around romance tropes, fanon expectations, and the occasional gender role as they fight over which one of them is really supposed to be the Knight of Lancaster shipping. (Hint- Ruby doesn't see herself as the damsel or lady to be fought for.)
But the next big one- that may never be finished but I've already outlined the whole- is "A hunter or Something." This is my most ambitious story project yet- and has the highest chance of never being finished in light of IRL things in my future- but if it is it will be an honest-to-god adventure. First Arc is already done, and halfway through the second.
Synopsis: Jaune was a hunter. Used a bow, hunted game, never people or Grimm. Not like the arrogant Hunters he wanted nothing to do with. But when his runaway sister asks him to help find her missing teammate, Jaune and Ren will both have to relearn what they thought they knew if they're to survive the Grimm Lands.
-Why won't I ever write 'An Affair or Something'?
Because this story is damn depressing for the vast majority of it, and bittersweet at the end. It's not a crime drama or fantasy-based despair, it's a story of troubles and unhappiness that easily hit far too close to home. It's not the sort of story that appeals to people or would keep much interest, except to the sort of people who enjoy watching a marriage self-destruct in slow motion. Not many people would read a story that goes 'hey, let's start with a broken marriage that gets worse,' and think 'I want me some of that.'
There's an argument to making art for art's own sake- but rarely when it depresses the writer too.
I wrote this summary not-story-story so that I could get it out of my head. I shared it because I thought people might be interested. I'm posting it because I felt the same (and because I was tired of copy-pasting the original draft to people asking.) I think the story design is good- in some ways it's better than Common Criminal- and it's worth remembering if not writing. But getting this out of my head like this was a one-day writing block with a week of back-editing. Trying to write it out would be… weeks, if not months, of effort. Time I wouldn't be spending on writing I would enjoy, or IRL concerns that keep me from writing.
But finally- I'll never write it for sure now because I've already shared the outline. Part of the fun for me in writing fanfiction and posting it over long periods of time is to watch people read, respond, and react to twists and turns over that time. With this public, there's no point- there would be no drama, no question of what's coming next or who Jaune would end up with or how the affair would develop. Spoiler Alert: Ruby gets her Fairy Tale ending, just not in the way she initial expected. Jaune grows up. And Pyrrha is too good a woman to steal Jaune. More at eleven.
So hopefully this is a nice compromise. You get to see and imagine something I never would have written, and in exchange I never have to write it or dwell on it again. Everyone's a winner!
Except Pyrrha. She's forever alone.
(Oum I am such a troll. Don't worry Pyrrha- I wrote a story with a happy ending just for you. Wait or week or two.)