Last year, I discovered fanfiction. It’s a little funny that I didn’t even know it was a thing until last year, considering so many of the authors in the M/M romance genre started out writing fanfiction, but I was oblivious. I’ve thought a lot about why; why didn’t I know of the phenomenon?
After some consideration, I thought it was because I’ve never really shipped characters, I didn’t even know what shipping was until recently. At first I thought that might be a Swede thing, that Swedish people don’t do shipping, but after a conversation with my daughter, I realized that was not it. She knew what it was, so I just wrote it off as an age thing and didn’t think about it again.
Until I remembered. There ARE two characters I ship. Two characters all of Sweden (more or less) ship. Wilfred of Ivanhoe and Rebecca of York.
You see, every year on New Year’s Day, Swedish television airs Ivanhoe, a British TV-movie from 1982 (based on the novel from 1819 by Sir Walter Scott), starring Anthony Andrews as Ivanhoe and Olivia Hussey as Rebecca. It’s tradition; it’s been going on for as long as I can remember, and a lot of people in Sweden re-watch that movie every year. The tradition is so widely known that Sam Neill, who plays the evil character Brian Guilbert, tweets about it every year (which is hilarious if you ask me!):
If you’re not familiar with the story of Ivanhoe, here’s a summary:
Ivanhoe, the son of a Saxon nobleman, returns to England from the Crusades. Prince John is Regent in the absence of his brother, King Richard the Lionhearted who is imprisoned in Austria. Saxons have not accepted their Norman conquerors and there is much animosity between them. Ivanhoe arrives at court just as a jousting tournament begins and bests the three Norman noblemen who have agreed to take on all comers. Ivanhoe is seriously injured however and is cared for by Isaac of York and his beautiful daughter Rebecca. They are taken prisoner however, along with Ivanhoe’s father Cedric and his ward Rowena, by the three knights Ivanhoe bested in the tournament. With the assistance of Robin Hood, the mysterious Black Knight attacks the castle of Front-de-Boeuf where the captives are being held. It’s left to Ivanhoe to rescue to rescue Rebecca however when she is accused of being a witch.
That was the background, now to the point: Ivanhoe is Christian and Rebecca is Jewish. The story is set in the 12th century, when a Christian man and a Jewish woman weren’t allowed to marry. But as Rebecca cares for the injured Ivanhoe, they fall in love, and everyone in Sweden roots for Rebecca.
But, alas, their relationship can not be, and instead Ivanhoe ends up with the very beautiful, very blonde, and very Christian Lady Rowena. And every year, I’m equally disappointed. Why does he choose that boring woman instead of the lovely and intelligent Rebecca? Whyyyyyy??
So I thought, now that I’d discovered fanfiction, I would finally be able to read their happy ending. I opened AO3, searched for Ivanhoe, and found…
…one story about Ivanhoe and Rebecca. One measly story in a fanfiction archive that, as I write this, has almost 4,8 million stories.
To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I was counting on you, AO3! What do I have to do, write their happy ending myself?? 😁
I guess I’ll just have to stick to Harry Potter fanfiction then 😁
Tell me: what characters – if any – do you ship? Which characters’ happy ending would you like to read?