Jessa's story has been, at times, literally keeping me up at night.
It has bits in common with "My Empire for Ashes", in that it's basically a prequel novella (though it may well be novel-length by the time it's finished). It takes place about ten-twenty years after "My Empire for Ashes" (it spans about 10 years in the telling, unlike MEfA's few months), and Alexander, now the Telenias, does show up in it; this one covers the formation of the Kirayth, and he's among the first to sign up.
Otherwise, not so much, and where that shows most is in the characters. Alexander is a character with a very rigid moral code; it's no random choice on my part that he identifies most with his Victorian previous self. He is straightforward. He may not always feel he is worthy, but he strives to be his best self.
Jessa? She's messier. Not a Hot Mess, no, but she's more complex, more tangly.
Part of what I'm examining with her story is how people can be heroes on the societal level and still fuck up terribly on the interpersonal level.
It's not just her. Marcus fucks up. Fenris fucks up, though it takes him way longer to compromise himself, and it damn near breaks him to realize how he's allowed himself to lie to himself in order to do what he does. (Which is cryptic, yeah, but it all makes sense. For reals. I promise.)
But Jessa's the protagonist, and unlike Fenris, she's actively choosing to do things she knows are wrong. Not often. Really just the one thing. But she does it twice, to two different people.
And yet she is undeniably one of the Good Guys. The revolution in Shayara could not have taken place without her leadership. The Kirayth would not have been formed.
Then again, the Purges wouldn't have happened either.
Alexander, the Telenias - he always does what is right, and all of the wrongness in his story is done to him, not by him. Jessa does what is right for her city and her people and her daughter. But sometimes she falls into the trap of thinking that she deserves just a little more than she is meant to have, and to hell with the breaking of hearts, hers and others.
Yes, Doctor Who. No, really. No, Jessa is not a Timelord.
But at the end of Waters of Mars, when the Doctor chooses what he wants instead of what the universe needs, it took my breath away. Because baby, I'm not a Timelord either, but suffice to say I've been there. And you can't do that. The minute you put your desires over the greater good - baby, you're fucked. "Oh no no no," I said. "You cannot do that."
And maybe that's what brought Jessa's story roaring back, because the intimidating thing here is that because she does do this selfish thing - twice - you may not like her. I want you to like her. I think she tries her damnedest. And she suffers for being hailed her whole life as the golden girl, as the hero, and that is not really good for anyone. Gets dizzy on that pedestal.
The other thing that brought the story roaring back? Well, a few of my characters are based on real people. They take a hard left early in their creation and become their own selves, but there's still a bit of one of my Jeffs in Napalm, a bit of another in Halloran - yeah, I used to collect Jeffs like I collect Adams.
And Fenris has a lot of one of my beloved friends in him. Strange, that, and quite like Victor, in that the character existed before I met the friend, but soon as I met the friend, I was all *blink *blink* well, aren't you familiar
Jessa and Fenris's story has bits in common with my story with my friend. The aforementioned bad choices Jessa and Fenris make in this are not choices my friend and I made; we were never in a position to make those choices.
But the thing that tears Jessa and Fenris apart is the thing that keeps my friend and I from ever, ever being together.
So also part of this story is my alternate-universe constant reminder to myself of Why We Would Be a Bad Idea and This Would Totally Break Us.
And maybe part of why the story is on my mind so much is that I feel like I finally have some resolution with my situation. And I got to write that into the story today. It's the pivot that turns the last part of the story, that establishes the timeline for the five years before the Purges. It is what takes this big jagged brokenness and starts welding it together. It is the only way they can move forward, and it's the hardest thing Jessa's ever had to do. And this story couldn't be finished til I knew.
Anyway. She's not perfect; no one is. She fucks up. But overall, she is good and she does good, and it hurts when she fucks up. That is all, I suppose.
EDIT: And why the title of the post? Because she and Fenris are so absolutely lovers in a dangerous time, and the Oysterband cover of that song is #1
on her playlist.