I have been thinking a lot about incest over the past couple of days, particularly between siblings. This is probably due to the fanfiction I have finished recently that is based on the BBC series, Sherlock, and the relationship between the Holmes brothers. For, in the last episode, His Last Vow, Mycroft Holmes says to his brother, “Your loss would break my heart”, and this sparked off an idea in my mind for a fanfiction where the reason behind Sherlock’s apparent asexuality and sociopathy is a suppressed traumatic childhood memory. The discovery of this incident then leads Sherlock on to the realisation that he is the only person who can properly love his brother and vice versa. I realise that most people prefer – when they do contemplate homosexual pairings in this series – Johnlock and Mystrade, to use the appropriate portmanteaus (on a grammatical tangent, the plural of portmanteau, really should be portmanteaux!), or even the less common pairing of Sherlock and Moriarty, but in my fanfiction dabbles I have always preferred writing either the obvious couple or – if a plausible enough scenario occurs to me – a really obtuse and rarely imagined romantic pairing.
This is not my first odd pairing, which is why I have ended up reflecting on my opinions regarding incest. Other story pairings I have used include Peter and Susan Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books and Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia (as portrayed by F. Arnaud and H. Grainger in The Borgias) and going on to pairings that I enjoy reading about, they include Vlad and Ingrid Dracula from the children’s show Young Dracula and Jaime and Cersei Lannister from the Song of Ice and Fire franchise. Some are established in their own right but some are specifically fanmade so there is variety and that is just my background, but I just can’t pin down what makes incestuous relationships so intriguing and addictive to me.
I do just have to remind people at this point that I have no siblings or have never considered entering into such a relationship and never will, but just reading and watching them play out and how they seem to be – in most cases that I have seen on TV/in stories online – such sturdy and positive relationships, whereas I generally perceive non-incestuous relationships to be such hard work and so flawed that I find that now I don’t believe there is anything wrong with incestuous relationships on the most basic level as an agreement between two consenting adults of whatever gender. Of course, in reality problems do arise when a heterosexual, genetically close couple conceive and that, naturally, is an issue. I do not pass over that lightly or ignore it in any way, which is why incest is a problem, but in a fictional and sometimes fantastical environment, this can easily be avoided and incest doesn’t seem to be a problem any more…with the exception of Joffrey Baratheon!
People talk about falling in love and being part of a star-crossed love affair that occurs so quickly and with such passion that acquaintances jump straight to lovers, bypassing the friend stage. It is this aspect of some relationships that dooms them before they begin. Lovers ought to be friends before they embark on their lovers’ journey; it makes for a happier and healthier voyage, if you ask me. When siblings realise that maybe the person with whom they find themselves in love is their brother or sister, that strong foundation is already there. Sure enough it is the foundation of family, but there is still something strong and intimate underlying their romantic relationship.
In my only relationship, I decided to throw my lot in with one of my friends but we were never that close before we hooked up and there was no real knowledge of each other there and it led to awkwardness and discomfort and lo and behold: the relationship lasted barely a couple of months and – retrospectively – I feel was doomed before it began. It would have been much easier and much more comforting to me had we possessed some level of brother-sister love before we got involved with each other. Now, I am scared of everyone and everything that implies commitment on a romantic level and there are really only five people I know in the world other than my father, whom I trust enough to commit myself to (not romantically!).
Two of the delusions of the past decade that I have enjoyed and have eased my life and distress the most have been the female party in one of the incestuous partnerships I have listed above. One, which I have already confessed to, is that of Lucrezia Borgia which is still ongoing in the background of Cordelia Chase and the other, is the summer I spent being Susan Pevensie. In both of these, the sister is the younger figure and the older brothers – Cesare and Peter – are both sources of strength, protection and love, which I think is what I hold dear. Also, there is the fact that a lover can leave, a husband can divorce you and a boyfriend can cheat, but eternally, a brother and sister are bound together. I can put this affinity with older male siblings down to the fact that I was never protected by the men around me, only hurt and left in the dark to be hurt by others.
Furthermore, the only male family role that is still pure and untouched by reality is that of a brother as I have never had a blood brother, though I do consider two of my best friends brothers in every sense of the word except blood, which has led to confused feelings for both of them at different points in my life…I won’t deny that. I know I cannot possibly expect people to concur with me unanimously concerning the rightness or wrongness of incest, but I do hope this small glimpse into my mind and the way it processes the concept of brotherly and sisterly romantic love and how it can bring comfort to those who need it most but can get it from very few places will make you think more about flippantly denouncing forbidden (and immoral) relationships out of hand because that is what society and – in some cases, science – has encouraged us to do without considering all the available information.
This instinctive behaviour was first brought to my attention during my English Literature A levels during the study of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, a novel that is truly close to my heart, which I think everyone everywhere should read. I don’t want to spoil things for anyone, but the ending was so vehemently disliked in my class by everyone except me that I truly believe that people say things and do things in a group environment without thinking but if even one person stops to reflect on personal and complicated issues such as incest for themselves because of this post, I will be the most happy, though hopefully, unlike the first bearer of that motto, my head will remain attached to my body for the foreseeable future.
Just for those of you who might be vaguely interested to read more, below, I have included the links to three of my stories concerning incest. So I hope you do read them if you think you can do so with an open mind and do leave me a review and mention you followed the link here.
On Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9342924/1/La-Bella-Borgia (incomplete)
On Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10714930/1/Break-My-Heart (one-shot; complete)
On Susan and Peter Pevensie: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8677241/1/Odi-et-Amo (on hiatus)