Instead, I ended up with 66 likes.
So, over the next, uh, probably months, possibly years, I will be doing a very deep dive into my pairing wardrobe. (Yes, I do have 66 pairings. I counted. The sad truth is that even this will not empty my pockets of all pairings. I'm a ship magpie, apparently.) No particular order, because honestly this project is already ridiculous enough. I'll try not to use stories I've recommended before, but in some cases I'll do it anyway, because some pairings have to be mentioned, even if I've already recommended every story about them.
Are you ready for this? I am definitely not ready for this. There should be a special name for a meme that gets way out of hand. Memelanche? Whatever. Here comes my memelanche of pairings, one fic rec at a time.
Let's start with a classic.
The One That Made Me Realize the Horror of Having a Soulmate with a Really Long Name in a Wristname AU. (Like, Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla's Soulmate Presumably Has a Full Sleeve Wristname, So I Hope They Like Tattoos.) Gentle Antidote, by x_los. Harriet Vane/Peter Wimsey, Lord Peter Wimsey series.
Okay, so, if I'm doing an All the Ships I've Loved Before meme, let's start off with one of the ones that formatted my brain. I read the Peter Wimsey novels as an impressionable 12 year old, and I tell you what: that's the wrong damn time to read them. Developing brains and Dorothy Sayers are a potent, terrible mix; I will never stop expecting fictional het romances to require five years, five hundred pages of persiflage, and at minimum two dead bodies before any sort of consummation can be achieved. This is why I am terrible at reading published het romances. The characters meet and kiss and fall in love and bang in the space of like a week, and my hindbrain goes, "Nope. This is not how straight romance goes. I know this from my learnings. Where are the corpses? Where is the part where she refuses him fifty times and walks across England to avoid dealing with her feelings? Where's the banter and telegrams and Latin proposals?" My brain knows what it is due and just won't accept less. Sayers has a lot to answer for, basically.
But it turns out I do not require the years/persiflage/bodies in every single case, and, oddly, this pairing is one of the cases where I don't. At least in the hands of a writer as skilled as this, in a story as good as "Gentle Antidote." This is honestly everything I've ever wanted from a Harriet/Peter story – them, being so completely them, which will always be enough for me – and also everything I've ever wanted from a wristname AU – good worldbuilding, sensible reactions, total buy-in to the concept, wristnames that don't solve every problem and actually create a few, a happy ending.
This story makes me as happy as any two of the books it took Sayers to accomplish the feat of getting these extremely difficult people together. Partly that happiness comes from the sheer perfection of every word, and partly it's from my knowledge of everything the characters are going to avoid and accomplish, thanks to wristnames. (Hail, wristnames! I welcome our tropey overlord.) And while I think the former joy will be available to anyone who knows what a wristname is, the second pleasure is probably only for those who have read Sayers's Harriet Vane stories. (Which, I mean, is not time wasted or anything.)
But whether you've read Sayers or not, I recommend this story; it's the perfect story for the ur-ship. (Or one of them. But, well, we're going to get there. One pairing down, 65 to go.)
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.