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30 Days of Books: Day Twenty-Two

Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

Jack Aubrey & Stephen Maturin, in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series. I love these boys. Stephen is kind of a jerk, he’s not very good at interpersonal relationships, and he spends most of the time in his head, while Jack is profoundly physical, extremely (almost excessively) friendly, and the kind of gullible that falls for a new scam every time he sets foot on land. And they’re best friends.

They do kind of fill in each others’ weak spaces; Jack (and indeed all the sailors) are continually amazed at how Stephen cannot seem to learn the first thing about ships despite spending half his life on them, while Stephen has the kind of cunning and political savvy that Jack couldn’t care less about. And they are both more than their stereotypes make them out to be; Stephen spends a good deal of time idiotically in love with a woman even more heartless than he is, and Jack is capable of carrying on a conversation about advanced mathematics with a Frenchman.

And they’re best friends. It’s such a simple and profound thing that there’s hardly even any more to say about it. They love each other, and that’s that. There’s a beautiful scene toward the end of the series — I can’t remember which book — where they’re back at Jack’s house for a while, and Stephen can’t sleep, and he hears violin music being played in the garden. Jack and Stephen have played together on ships for years, violin and cello respectively, but Stephen’s hands had been broken once when he had been captured by the French, and they never really healed properly. And listening to Jack play alone, after all those years playing together, Stephen realizes that Jack is a much better player than he had ever realized, and that Jack had been playing down his own skill in order not to put Stephen to shame. It’s such a powerful and bittersweet scene that speaks so much to the connection between these two.

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