Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Quest V or any associated properties. Squeenix does. No infringement intended or money made.
For me, the character added to the remake was the obvious bride choice for several reasons. Gameplay utility, gameplay experience/story (it was obvious that she'd be the most entertaining of the three), and the 'in character' reasons. The hero('s father) wanted to stop the bad guy and avenge his family. He wouldn't have signed Bianca's death warrant by picking her and giving up the Zenithian gear. Then there was Crispin: Debora was the least bastardly choice, if he was marrying someone in cold blood.
But, given the character's backstory, I tend to think that there were a couple bigger reasons. First, remember Prince Harry and how he shaped up. The MC isn't going to be put up by haughtiness, he knows that he's dealing with a situation that'll Break The Haughty, and he's seen that there can be a pretty good person under that.
For Debora, it's really about pride, and he held on to his pride through all those years as a slave. Family is also important to him. And, almost most importantly of all, it shows that Debora is a fighter.
Debora is a bit OOC here during the conversation, but that's because after hearing his story and because of what she thought at the time the MC had actually gotten some of her respect, or a chance at it at least. Which he'll then blow with extreme prejudice, causing Debora to act the way she does in the rest of the game. Before, she didn't know him from Adam. After this, she'll have a grudge. I think this fits as a fairly straight missing scene, really, even though I'm inclined towards AU as a general rule.
This really does change nothing between them, at least not outwardly.
Debora knows exactly why he picked her and she will never forgive him for it.
If it had been a cold-blooded, calculating decision, at least she could have respected him for it. She was her father's daughter, after all, and she knows about family duty and ancient evils even if Nera didn't want to read the accounts. If he had married her just to get that old relic, that would have been, well, proper. No, better than proper. She would have been able to get away from her Father, who wouldn't let her do anything dangerous and tried to buy her off with stupid games. It made her want to get out there and kill things even more.
A destined hero (or close enough) out to save the world, marrying the heiress of a family that had sealed away evil since ancient times in order to gain one of the talismans necessary to do that world-saving? That would have been, well, something worth doing. She would have been married because she mattered. It would have gotten her out of the house.
The trouble was that there were two daughters.
If he had picked her solely because Nera was already in love with that Crispin, had been since they were children, then it wouldn't have been as good as being picked on her own merits but it would have been pretty good. Saddling himself with the bitch for the sake of Debora's sister? That would have shown some character, and Nera was Debora's sister, after all. She had to look after her since she never thought to look after herself. Not even speaking up for herself and saying that she loved Crispin when her father proposed this stupid bargain?
She would have despised him if he'd forced Nera into this.
By contrast, she would merely have thought he was a selfish, short-sighted idiot if he'd refused her father's bargain. Marry some other girl and go without part of what he needed to save the world? Smart, real smart. He might as well have cut that Bianca's throat himself if he'd picked her: after what had happened to his father's wife, he had to know that the only way to save not just the world but his own wife was to save the world, and he needed the four relics of the hero to save the world. No, picking someone else would have been signing her death warrant. Everyone's.
Debora would have had to run away from home if he did that. Elope with the relic and her bank account, because she was a member of the family of the heroes who had sealed Bjorn, and it would have been obvious that some romantic loser wouldn't be up to it.
No, if he'd picked that childhood friend of his she would have held him in contempt, but it would have been the usual 'trash beneath her notice' contempt. By contrast, she would have gone out of his way to make his life miserable if he'd done that to Nera.
Well, until Nera figured it out and got on her case about it, anyway.
No: a decent man would have had to marry one of the two of them, and a decent man wouldn't have done that to Nera, so by process of elimination, that obviously meant her.
She was also far better suited for it than Nera. Her father might have seen to it that they both knew how to fight, in case Bjorn broke free, but Nera was afraid to get her hands dirty. Spells? Everyone knew that if you didn't learn how to fight physically, then you needed a physical fighter to protect you, keep them off you long enough for you to cast those spells. It was obvious that her husband couldn't even protect himself, so she was going to have to take care of that, the way she'd assumed she would be for Nera, if anything interesting had ever happened around there.
Why couldn't he have picked her out of sheer practicality? Because she would be able to handle the rigors of the trip better than Nera? Because she didn't have a problem with the sight of blood or the raw meat he fed his monsters with? Because she didn't especially care if her hair was nice and neat, so camping wouldn't bother her?
No, he hadn't even asked. About either of them. What an idiot! He hadn't even wanted to know if the people he was planning to drag through the wilderness were up to it?
Except he had asked about the two of them.
Except he hadn't picked her because she was the only reasonable choice, or because she could do the most for him. He had asked about them both, around town, and later she'd gone around and demanded to know what they'd told him.
She already knew that she was tough, and arrogant, and no one liked that in their women. She'd gone to some lengths to make it impossible for her father to marry her off. She wasn't impressed with men in general and she hated the gold diggers who always went after her and Nera. She'd taken it upon herself to fend them off, first the older men with toys and compliments wanting her to influence 'Daddy' and then the ones who looked at her and Nera and didn't notice the scowl on her face because they were too busy drooling over something about a foot lower and imagining all the money their smooth talk would get them.
In their dreams.
Crispin, by contrast, knew his place. He would have loved Nera if they'd both been paupers. For no reason other than Nera. She respected him for that (although she'd kill anyone who told him that). If she'd married anyone, it should have been a proper alliance marriage, to carry on the family business and traditions (and name) since Nera would end up traveling with Crispin or maybe, just maybe, she might have found someone with enough spirit to earn her respect. Someone who liked her not for her body or the money but for Debora, the mouth and the claws that scared the Romeos away.
An alliance marriage for the sake of the world certainly beat a business alliance hands down. It wouldn't have been what Nera had but, honestly, Nera had lower standards. At this point, any belief Debora had that anyone, even a legendary hero, would measure up had been thoroughly broken.
Romance was dead and chivalry should be torn into tiny pieces. She'd be happy to do it herself.
Why couldn't he have viewed putting up with her temper as a sacrifice for the sake of the world? Or, or something. Any reason for picking her or opinion of her would have been better than this. Any. If he'd wanted to beat the sass out of her, then she could have just killed him, then gone home and given her father a piece of her mind.
If they were just married, then she would have just given him his rights as a husband and then told him that there was a couch in the other room. She'd never shared a bed: she always had to shift around to get comfortable and if he'd insisted on it, it would have served him right when she'd rolled over at some ungodly hour and kicked him off the bed.
Instead, she'd told him to use the floor (if he was so determined to be a damn martyr), and he'd actually done it. He'd almost seemed vaguely grateful, which had annoyed her even more. It took her a few weeks to realize that he never slept in a bed and figure out why. He'd spent years sleeping on the bare ground or anything he could scrape together to pad it, and then he'd started traveling. All but the toughest mattresses were too soft for him.
He hadn't just been worried that she'd expect to sleep with him literally and he'd spend a sleepless night, no. More than that. He'd been trying to find a way to get out of sharing a bed with her because he didn't want to kill his bride on their wedding night.
Even that big dumb cat of his had learned not to curl up next to him as he slept, oh no. She'd learned why it was a bad idea to wake him up after barely dodging away from a wild punch. He hadn't gone into detail in his apology, but there was only one reason a boy who had been slave labor for years would learn to come up swinging if someone touched him in his sleep. He must have been beaten for it, but he'd been beaten for everything, and the more trouble he gave anyone who tried anything, the more likely they'd be to pick someone who was less trouble for their fun.
It almost forced her to pity him.
He'd deserve it, the bastard. The way he just smiled when she insulted him, like they were words of affection. He seemed almost fond when she did it, almost relieved that she had spirit. Compared to what he'd suffered, how he'd been treated as disposable labor, they practically were. They were just words, she wasn't beating him all the time. Even if he made her want to.
He'd probably put up with that too, accept it as how the world was. It wouldn't be a big deal to him, compared to his experience there, and that thought was one more reason to kill things. One more thing to add to the gigantic list of what was wrong with him.
He'd gone through all of that. He'd lost his father and mother both, one right in front of his eyes (just being an orphan wasn't anything to cry about: she was adopted, for one). His village and his little cat too. It was just outrageous.
Then he, he, this person who had suffered so damn much, had the gall to pity her.
Why couldn't he have been properly focused, cold and calculating, driven to get vengeance and not caring who he had to crush? He should have been busy worrying about himself, how could he, how dare he think that she needed worrying about by comparison?
He'd told her the story on their wedding night, so she'd know what she'd gotten herself into. What had happened to his family and now would happen to her, if they got the chance. He wouldn't have dragged anyone into this if he didn't have to, for the sake of the relics, and maybe if she distanced herself from him now, didn't travel with him, helped convince her father to get the town to hide that they had anything to do with each other, forget the wedding, she still had a chance to get out.
At least he hadn't tried very hard to get her to stay home. At least he'd been that perceptive, even if he was wrong about everything else, wrong wrong wrong.
She'd told him that by saying how she was the best choice, obviously, and he shouldn't have dragged Nera into this.
"You think that's why I picked you?" he'd asked her, as the room was lit in red and gold and his face was shadowed as the sun went down.
"Of course, you haven't gotten to see me fight yet." Once she got some real practice under her belt, he'd have another reason to be glad he picked her. "Try to keep up."
"It's not that."
At that point, even she had picked up that he was mildly upset, or concerned, or insulted (maybe not on his own behalf), or something. "What? Well, of course he'll be glad you picked me. Everyone will." Taking her off his hands and taking her out of town.
"You really think that your father will be… glad," he said after that pause, as though he was carefully picking the word up with tongs and putting it somewhere it shouldn't be. No, like he was using a ten foot pole. "That you're gone?"
"Of course." She didn't exactly make it easy to be swarmy with business people, she was too blunt and honest. "You saw that game in my room." He'd examined it, and now she understood that he really hadn't played in years, unless you counted casino games, and those were serious. "He's wanted me out of his hair for years." Debora tossed her own. "So he'll be a lot more grateful to you than if you'd picked Nera."
"You really think that he wants you gone. Your…" He looked at her like he was trying to understand her, if she really meant what was coming out of her mouth and if it was even possible for a parent not to want their child, and at the same time like he didn't want to know. Like it was just too disturbing. "It seemed that way, from the way he acted when I picked you."
She snorted. "He warned you what you were getting into." He didn't palm me off on you.
"No." He shook his head. That wasn't it at all. "He thought that I wouldn't want you. You think that I wouldn't want you. That no one would. My father… That last day, rescuing Prince Harry, every time we got in a battle he'd check me over afterwards and heal me, just to be sure that I was okay."
"That must have been annoying."
"Having to heal you every five seconds." What a weak kid he must have been. "Annoying for you too, I guess. He didn't respect you at all, did he? Didn't think you could take care of yourself. I guess he was right." Without Pankraz he'd gotten taken away and used as a slave for years.
"It wasn't annoying at all."
"What, you liked being coddled and he liked that you were weak and useless? You'd better not treat me like that." She raised her chin proudly.
He shook his head. "No," he said, not, 'no, I would never insult you like that,' but, 'no, you're completely missing the point.'
"I'm not a useless little kid like you."
"I'd still heal you if you needed it. It wouldn't be annoying."
"What, do you think that that's… nice, or something? Affectionate, bonding, romantic? You don't mind me getting hurt? Well, that's alright." Like she needed him to take care of her anyway. Even though he'd better at least try not to be useless. He was her husband now, and how he acted reflected on her. "There's nothing great about people dying for each other. Did you want him to die for you."
"No," he answered simply, too simply, and soon a helpless smile grew on his face. "But he did." Debora didn't know if she was really seeing unshed tears in the corners of his eyes or just feeling them, old soppy sadness and the love of a child hanging heavy in the room. "He didn't regret it at all. Do you think that your father regrets adopting you?"
"Every hour of every day," she said, almost sounding satisfied, or perhaps vindicated.
"My mother was taken from him because of me, and I've still never doubted that he was happy that I was born. Even though he had to leave me behind, that was to keep me safe. He never wished that I'd never been born, or that I'd just go away."
"What an idiot. You were unnecessary baggage." She snorted.
"You really think that way? You really think that you are that? Compared to Nera?" He was trying to understand her and it was painfully obvious that he didn't have a clue. "Were they serious? When I asked about you, it felt like no one really…"
"Wanted me here? Of course not." She was too good for them.
"Your father does love you." Who was he trying to convince? Was he trying to silence his own doubts about his own father? "And Nera. But… you really don't think that you're wanted?"
"I'm too much for them to handle." She wanted out of this town. "What do you care?"
"You're wrong. And they're wrong, if they really do feel that way." What was that in his eyes? Horror on her behalf?
Someone who had suffered that much felt that she was worthy of pity by comparison? Because his father hadn't gotten himself killed because she was weak?
Because no one wanted to play with her? Because no one worked to understand her? Because she hadn't grown up with his rock-solid certainty that she was love and wanted?
"It's not right," he said, hitting the nail in the coffin.
Pity. He'd picked her because he pitied her. Because he wanted to take her away from a place where she wasn't wanted. Because he'd wanted to prove to her that she was just as worthy of love as Nera? What?
He'd picked her not for what she could do for him, not because she was worthy, but for what she needed. To get out of a town where everyone she met had been warned and prejudiced in advance. Where she hadn't had any friends (because she'd driven them away). To have someone that wanted her around, even if only because she was a human being. Even if only for someone to talk to who could answer back, on the long hard road.
He'd picked her because he'd looked at her and seen that her shell was nothing more than that, and inside she was more fragile than Nera had ever been or would ever be. He'd seen her… he saw her as someone who… just needed to be loved?
He'd picked her because he pitied her. Her. The tough woman who would be her father's heir. The strong one who looked after Nera. The one who didn't need anyone's help. Her.
And she would never forgive him.
Until her dying day, despite how much she came to love him, she would never forgive him. Because he'd done something too terrible to ever be forgiven. Insulted her too deeply.
(Cut too close to home.)
No, she could never forgive him. (Because he'd done nothing wrong.)
The second half of the title quote is, "to love and be loved in return." Has anyone read Tanya Huff's Summon the Keeper? Think of how much of human behavior is driven by the need to be loved/wanted/needed/have control over others to keep them from leaving (Freud's mistake was thinking that all love equalled sex) and what it would be like to never have those existential crises, self-doubts, or hunger for acknowledgement because of the certain knowledge that you were loved. Simply for yourself, enough that someone would die for you without regrets.
Compared to that, when playing the game, I thought that the MC would find Debora's situation brainbreakingly wrong.