Venturous1 (venturous1) wrote in abp_meta,

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Reply to Al's querie "On Love"

Longish but interesting response from friend MelindaKitty, who requested I post this for her.

Can you pass this on? I'm waist-deep in my screenplay and I'll be
playing hookey as it is to answer.

> # How do you define love?

Love is a selfless act of benevolence. When your
actions show that you care more about the needs and
wants of someone else than you do about your own, you
give love. When you give someone something they really
need, expecting nothing in return, you give love.
read more:

> Are there different kinds of love (eg: romantic
> love, platonic love, spiritual love, etc) or are
> these manifestations of one greater power?

Yes and No. No and Yes. There are distinct shades of
love, but in the end, to love someone is to love them.

> If you believe in different kinds
> of love, please give me a couple examples.

Parental love: being willing to sacrifice a career
advancement or personal gain so your children can be
in a better school or stay with their friends in a
more stable community.

Familial love: being as close to cousins or aunts or
grandparents as you are to chosen friends to whom
you're not related.

Affiliative love: the "family" of friends and
acquaintances you choose, opposed to those you're
biologically related to. This is the most important
love there is. A lack of such a network of benevolent
and generous support can be deadly. We need friends
who will not only love us just as we are, but be
willing to stand against us when we do something
stupid. Ask Severus what it's like to literally not
have any friends he can trust with his whole heart.

Romantic love: Not the same thing as passionate love.
You can be completely smitten with someone and not
want to have sex with them. This confuses the crap out
of guys when it comes as a male-on-male "crush". I
call these "man crushes". The object is someone you
completely admire or even idolize, but if they turned
around and said, "I'd really like to sleep with you."
you might well run screaming or dies of embarrassment.

Passionate love: Here's where the sex comes in. This
is the dangerous one, because people confuse a really
good lover for an ideal longterm mate. This is the
person (or people, if you're polyamorous or a serial
monogamist) who just DOES IT for you. Everything they
say or do. They make you FURIOUS. They make you
DESOLATE. They CONFUSE the crap out of you. And they
make you want to go from fully clothed to naked and
wanting in about 3 seconds. True love can start here,
but it never ends here.

True love: One of the most misunderstood and idealized
forms of love. True love is not the doe-eyed,
happily-ever-after of myth and lore. True love is
being willing to embrace another person with your
heart, body, mind, and soul. To know that person's
flaws and foibles and little irritants, but not to
care. To love EVERYTHING about the person, warts and
all. If done right, you only love MORE as the years go
on, because you trust more and more deeply and give
more and more selflessly. True love and fine wine only
get better with age. You can often tell the couples
who have experienced this, because they usually die
hours, days, or mere weeks apart. They literally
cannot live without each other. Can be wonderful, but
it's a huge and terrifying commitment.

> If you believe they are all
> one in the same, what is
> the common factor present in all expressions of
> love?

Selflessness. Love teaches a person genuine empathy.
Not what you would want if you were the other person,
but what the other person genuinely wants and needs.
Severus experiences this just after his first real
liaison with Harry, when he realizes he doesn't know
what kind of tea to brew, or anything really about
Harry. And it's the WANTING to know that makes me
smile wistfully, because that's the first step to true

> # Did Harry Potter exhibit love in the books as
> according to your
> definition (not jkr's definition!)? If so, please
> give me an example or
> two.

After the prick Malfoy cast Fateamor on Severus in
class, Harry did several acts of love. He protected
Severus by trying to explain his actions (wanting to
kiss him, etc.), and then stayed with him as he was
whisked off to be healed. And Harry’s respect and
subtlety (as subtle as you can get) were signs of
love. He knew that if he threw himself on Severus
crying out his heart and declaring his happiness in
front of everyone, it would embarrass and possibly
endanger the welfare of his teacher. So he didn't do
it. He stayed with him, but quietly, and with a
willingness to take on himself all the scorn and
unkind words that Severus would have endured.

In book five, Harry's gifts of the cloak of
invisibility and the Marauder's Map are the ultimate
acts of love. He's letting Severus in to his deepest,
darkest secrets, and in many ways putting himself at
Severus's mercy. These are powerful gifts, the most
powerful magic he knows, and they have been an
intimate part of who he is. They're not acts of love
because they're things, but acts of love because of
who and what they represent. Moreover, his reasons WHY
are the key factor to love. Even though the cloak is
all he has of his father and the map is endlessly
useful for getting in and out of scrapes, Harry says,
"I'm not giving [them] to you to catch Gryffindors-
I'm giving [them] to you for safety." Again, he's
willing to sacrifice his own gain, his own safety, and
his own selfish considerations because he knows how
dangerous Severus's life truly is. It's a bit of
enlightened self-interest - he wants to continue to
HAVE a lover - but it is an act of love to give up two
such things because Harry knows Severus needs them

> If you do not think he did- where did he fail
> to and what could he
> have done differently to show love?

When Harry casts "copular animae" on Severus in book 3
- in the midst of lovemaking, no less - it's the
ultimate betrayal of love. He does it for purely
selfish reasons: he wants to "keep" Severus and
figures this is the only way to do it; he doesn't
consider the longterm affects it might have on his or
Severus's lives; he doesn't ask permission; and he
doesn't know of any "cure" should the spell go awry. I
amazed Severus didn't kill him for that one. Moreover,
it shows Harry's fundamental insecurity - he tried to
create through magic what he would have already had.
Severus loved him already, to the point of being
willing to risk or give up anything. Harry didn't need
the spell, and neither of them needed the betrayal.

Harry's rejection of Severus in that same book -
though the darker side of passionate love - is also at
the same time a denial. He uses everything he's
learned against the man who's done nothing but try to
help him. He takes back gifts. He refuses help. He
hides. He ignores advice. And, worst of all, he uses
Severus's fears as a weapon. "Our eyes lock in a
stare. He's trying to read my mind, I can feel it. I
know he's better at Legilemency then I am at
Occlumency, especially when I'm feeling like this, so
I indulge in images, fantasies, of tearing into him,
the way his flesh would snap under my teeth, the way
his blood would gush out." Severus's confession about
his mother's dhampiric nature was a deep act of love
and trust. Harry's accidental attack could be chalked
up to bad judgment on both their parts. But what Harry
does in imagining this torture is cruelty itself, a
self-centered desire to hurt in the most intimate and
effective way possible.

Again, I'm surprised Severus didn't kill him. It
speaks to the depth of Severus's love and resignation
with his fate.

> # Did Lily Potter?

Yes, in that she was kind many times to Severus,
enduring his moods and bringing out his skills.

> If not, where did she fail to and
> what could she have
> done differently to show love?

In the end she chose James over Severus, and did it
knowing that Severus had no one else. It's an awful
burden to put on one young person, but there it is.
What could she have done differently? I don't know.
Sometimes it's impossible to save a person from
himself. Sometimes we must choose one love over
another. No one ever said life was fair.

> # Did any other character?

Remus stands out as a bastion of love, but also of
self-delusion. He's a tough one, because while I
respect his intervening on Harry's behalf after the
first passionate kiss, I can't quite respect him for
ignoring all the clues later on that not only were
Harry and Severus lovers, but that the love was taking
a decidedly darker turn. What could he have done?
Again, that's a tough one. I'm tempted to say "involve
Sirius sooner" even though that would've opened up a
whole new can of worms. The truth is that if Harry and
Severus had any prayer of having something like a
healthy relationship, they needed MORE community and
support, not less. The secret makes the trouble. It
adds stress to an already volatile relationship. It
adds complications to an already tenuous situation.
Sirius would've gone ballistic, but he was also bound
to find out sooner or later, and in the end Remus
needed to have faith that Sirius loved his godson more
than he hated Severus.

And that brings us back to Severus. For all his quirks
and faults, and shades of cruelty, no one loves with
deeper and more steadfastness than Severus. No one
risks more. No one sacrifices more. No one changes
more than Severus. And we begin to see the man he
might have been, had he been given the chance. He
loves in spite of rape and betrayal and torture and
censure and a thousand little things. He loves in
spite of himself. He loves in spite of his torn
loyalties and horrible past. And when he makes his
most horrible confession - that of his betrayal of
Lily Potter - he makes his single greatest leap of
faith. And it nearly kills him. His passion for Harry
is almost overbalanced by his hatred of himself and
his fear of the future, but in the end, he always
comes to his senses. And he's always willing in the
end to take responsibility for what he's done. It's
both wonderful and terrible to watch.

I have never loved Severus more than in A BITTERSWEET

> # Any other comments about love, related either to
> the series, fanfic,
> your personal definition or experience, etc?

Love is the single hardest choice a person can make.
And I do mean that: it IS a choice. Much as you lust
after someone, at some key point you have the chance
to walk away or walk toward, and the choice you make
determines the relationship. Moreover, in longterm
commitments, once that first 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6
years expire and the passion has mellowed a little,
you have to choose to continue to love. Choose to
continue to want. Choose to continue to value. And
it's those choices that determine whether or not you
may be loved wholeheartedly in return.

Myself, as a polyamorous bisexual, I look at love in a
slightly different way than a straight person. I love
the PERSON first, the gender second. I've been happily
married to a man for 12 years with plans to have a
formal "marriage" ceremony with our wife this October.
That marriage will be neither legal nor legitimate in
the eyes of any major religious institution, but I
don't really care. I feel what I feel. My husband
feels what he feels. Our wife feels what she feels.
And I would be desolate without them. In our case, the
magic of love comes in threes.

I've seen love completely change a person for the
better. I've seen withholding of love destroy people.
I've seen fear of love strangle positive emotion piece
by piece until only the tattered vestiges and a
certain hopeless resignation remain.

I also believe that the single most powerful words in
the English language are these: I believe in love.

I've had it. I've lost it. I've had to earn it. I've
wanted it. I've misused it. I've misunderstood it.
I've denied it. I've regained it. And I've enjoyed it.

I believe in love.

Melinda Kimberly
Novelist, Screenwriter, and diehard A BITTERSWEET

Book 6? *hopeful kitty eyes*

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