The Technician and I don’t do Valentine’s Day [insert obligatory comment about money-grabbing companies here], but it does give me an excuse to tell you about my favourite fictional couples. So, in no particular order:
1. Dorothea Brooke & Will Ladislaw (Middlemarch)
‘Please remember me,’ said Dorothea, repressing a rising sob.
‘Why should you say that?’ said Will, with irritation. ‘As if I were not in danger of forgetting everything else.’
I re-read Middlemarch every year; I love the complex characters, with all their mundane and petty concerns, but mostly I love the simplicity of Will and Dorothea’s relationship. I say simple, but unlike in a lot of Victorian romances, it’s based on actual conversation and shared interests. I genuinely care that they manage to overcome the obstacles and end up together.
2. Bryce & Eleanor Cousland (Dragon Age: Origins)
In my first playthrough of DAO I chose the human noble origin story and wound up with this fantastic couple as my parents. They were devoted to each other, loved their family deeply, and trusted each other implicitly. There was nothing more heartbreaking than having to leave them, Bryce wounded, and Eleanor vowing to stay and fight with him, to give me time to escape the attack on the castle. I listened to them reminiscing about the good times they’d shared and found myself sobbing uncontrollably, and wishing that I could be adopted by videogame characters.
3. Natasha Romanoff & Bucky Barnes (Marvel)
Black Widow and the Winter Soldier are two of my favourite Marvel characters, and probably the most dramatic pairing on this list. They met when the Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes with his memories wiped) was brought in to train Red Room recruits, and they began a clandestine affair. Their relationship has lasted 40-odd years (thanks to anti-ageing serums and cryogenic freezing), and their love has survived multiple memory wipes. Their decision to start dating again once Bucky regained his memories was handled in a low-key way, and led to some great team-up spy stories. Sadly, Natasha’s memories of Bucky were wiped once again (occupational hazard), but I live in hope that they’ll be reunited.
4. Zoë & Hoban Washburne (Firefly)
I feel like Zoë and Wash sometimes got overshadowed by all the “will they, won’t they” surrounding Simon and Kaylee, and Mal and Inara. Their relationship was full of banter and fun, but certain moments revealed the depth of their feelings. ‘War Stories’ is a fine example of this: when asked to choose between saving Mal or Wash, Zoë unhesitatingly picks Wash. Of course they go back and save Mal too because they’re Big Damn Heroes™, but there’s no questioning Zoë’s priorities.
5. Armand & Albert Goldman (The Birdcage)
I really struggled for a film couple to put on this list, and this may seem like an odd choice, but no rom-com has ever managed to produce a moment to match the matter-of-fact way in which Armand explains how important Albert is to him. I defy you not to be touched by this scene [Warning: Strong language]:
I now plan to go back to ignoring all the Valentine’s shenanigans, but would love to know what you think of my list – agree, disagree, or submit your own Top 5.
Happy Valentine’s Day, people.