Passion & Profession

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Fanfiction
Title: Passion & Profession
Author(s): demon_rum
Date(s): 9 December 2011
Length: 127,463 words
Genre: Slash, Historical AU Crossover
Fandom: The Eagle
External Links: Passion & Profession (AO3)
Passion & Profession (LiveJournal)

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Passion & Profession is a Marcus/St John Rivers Historical AU crossover by demon_rum, featuring characters from The Eagle and Jane Eyre. It was originally written for the_eagle_kink on LiveJournal and posted anonymously to the meme.[1] The author later self-published an edited and expanded version of the story as a paperback book to gift to her LJ friends, and posted the updated version to LiveJournal and AO3.[2]

Summary: "The continuing adventures of St. John Rivers in Calcutta."

Background

Passion & Profession is a crossover between two specific movies, The Eagle and the 2011 remake of Jane Eyre. The Eagle, based on Rosemary Sutcliff's children's book The Eagle of the Ninth, is set in 2nd century Romano-Britain and is the story of a young Roman centurion, Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum) and his British slave, Esca (Jamie Bell). In the 2011 release of the movie Jane Eyre, the secondary character of the Reverend St John Rivers is also played by Jamie Bell. What the author essentially does in Passion & Profession, is to crossover Jamie Bell's portrayal of St John with a 19th century version of Channing Tatum's Marcus, making use of each as the basis for both characterization and physical descriptions.

Written from St John's point of view, the story begins in 1840 directly after the conclusion of events in Jane Eyre, with St John traveling to Calcutta where he intends to become a missionary. On his first day there he meets Captain Marcus Aquilaine, of the East India Army infantry, and the two become friends, and then lovers. St John is a devoutly religious man and has great difficulty accepting his homosexuality and his attraction to Marcus, resulting in much of the story's dramatic tension.

The story includes a secondary character from The Eagle, real historical figures, as well as original characters, set against a backdrop of 19th century British colonial India, all of which brings the story to life by adding depth and color. The author thoughtfully includes copious story notes linking to a substantial appendix providing historical and cultural background information to assist the interested reader with context, and is an indication of the degree of research that went into writing it.

demon_rum continues Charlotte Brontë's conceit of utilizing a narrator, though rather than the protagonist, St John, it is the author herself, who is telling the story, most noticeably in the story notes. The narrative style is based on the British English spoken in the mid-19th century, though it is loosely employed more to set the tone than to be a perfect rendition, and there are a few anachronisms here and there.

The original story in the kink_meme was betaed by chikatai. In 2011, demon_rum decided to self-publish the story as a paperback book at her own expense, which she gave away to LJ friends. In preparing for publication, she worked closely with Amanda Warrington to edit and expand the story, and with motetus who created a number of pieces of art which are embedded in both the LJ and AO3 versions. The author included the following note:

Passion & Profession is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Feel free to share it. Also feel free to alter it, adapt it, or transform it, just so long as you mention me, demon_rum (so I can read it, too!), and keep it not-for-profit.

Recs and Reviews

"This has become my favorite AU fanfiction for all time and I love AUs. I have so fallen in love with your epic work. It is beautifully written, carried me away to the Raj, with vivid detail that seemed accurate and unsparring of "mad dog English" who ventured forth in their English wool with no respect for the full heat of midday Indian sun or the consequences of ignoring the political reality their pretty manners were at odds with. Inspired by Jamie Bell's performance as St. John Rivers from Jane Eyre, you have spun out a most amazing saga re-imagining The Eagle's Marcus Aquila Flavius as the illegitimate son of a wastrel and a prostitute who seeks to restore the honor of his family name. Deep at the heart of St. John Rivers' story are beautiful and profound theological and philosophical musings of Rivers and his eventual spiritual and personal growth as a man who can actually love as his feelings and compassion for the person and situation of Marcus Aquila Flavius (in this AU, an injured British officer serving in India). All of this is told movingly in the context of their love story which suffers against crisis of faith, fears of exposure and severe punishment and execution, echoes of Kipling, parallels to contemporary mishandling of events in Afghanistan, and the mid-East, cultural misunderstanding and chauvinism, etc. What I think impressed me most is the author's generosity with what might be a caricature in other hands and never the hero of an epic, is instead someone worthy of warm regard, whose moral and spiritual growth not only worthy of being followed but is most decidedly wildly exciting given that it is triggered by his romantic entanglement with a British officer of dubious background, when once he had thought to be quietly married to plain little Jane Eyre and converting the infidels. You are a subtle, gifted author, whose sequel I also read and enjoyed. I look forward to your other works. And if you have other names you write under I hope you will let me know. I have tried to search under demon_rum with no success. I feel I have left a lot out of my review, but after I read this back in the summer, I went through that sadness one feels after reading something truly wonderful that is hard to leave behind and I could not comment on it right away. I had to get back to my own real life, sort of like returning to the surface after a very long deep sea dive, and get reacclimatized. I haven't even read all of your pieces here at AO3 yet. So I have a few things left me. I hope you will make the transition to published writing if you wish. I think that you should try publishing this. Change the name of the Marcus character and a little of the background: I think that the new background you have given him already is different enough of a story from R.S's. The Eagles of the Ninth. This is just such a beautifully fascinating story and beautifully developed character study (for both main characters and with very nice secondary characters as the bishop and his aide. The research and the details are vividly presented in the narrative and not mere exposition. The tone is elegant and witty. It is a shame that more people have not read the story because they do not understand that Jamie Bell played St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre and that your AU then extrapolates a future in which he meets a Marcus Aquila Flavius as a British officer in the Victorian Raj (if the word "Raj" applies to that era). The endnotes are indeed fantastic and a pleasure to read, by the way."[3]
"After staying up way past my bedtime last night to finish this--because I couldn't just LEAVE them all heartbroken and sad--I'm kind of at a loss for words to say how much I loved this. Having written several historical AUs myself, I know exactly how much research goes into something like this and it's incredibly impressive what you've done here. I mean, it's relatively easy to find out what the EIC was doing but things like the names of clothing items or what they would have been reading or common slang--so much more difficult! And then to weave all of that into the creation of a world that feels real and believable and authentic, yet in such a way that you aren't hitting the reader over the head with facts--well, you've done an absolutely marvelous job with it.

And the characters--I am so in love with both Marcus and St. John. They both felt very authentic to the period and each with their own little quirks that made them truly come alive. My heart kept twisting whenever things about Marcus's past were revealed or when he was having trouble with his leg and then St. John would be there helping him--I adore h/c! And I KNEW that BAD THINGS would happen, and I was so devastated when they fall apart, but then--THEN--THANK YOU FOR THE HAPPY ENDING. The moment when Marcus first hears St. John say the prayer and is so taken with him--I totally fell in love with them both. And the part when Marcus reveals that he loves St. John--it brought tears to my eyes. And then the part that really set me off was when St. John decides to give his money to Muniya because he wants to see her eyes, which are Marcus's, smiling at him. I was this happy, sobbing, overcome little ball by the end of this and it was wonderful.

I also loved when they go to the symphony together because it reminded me of when Stephen and Jack first meet. :)

And I loved the really strong friendship that develops between them as a precursor to the romance--you showed that beautifully. And the sex! That was one of the parts that impressed me the most because it was both erotic yet also completely in character for the time period.

And, historian that I am, I adored all the notes!! I don't know much about colonial British India, so I found everything fascinating.

I know I will be coming back to this fic as a model for how to write historical fiction because it is just so excellent."[4]


References

  1. Anonymous. Fill: Passion & Profession, 10 May 2011 - 14 October 2011. (Accessed 10 January 2013)
  2. demon_rum. Fic: Passion & Profession - Master Post, 21 November 2011. (Accessed 10 January 2013)
  3. frodo's brother Reader comment, 2 October 2012. (Accessed 10 January 2013)
  4. riventhorn Reader comment, 12 December 2011. (Accessed 10 January 2013)