[identity profile] animegirl07.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: Friends by Choice; The Rest was Fate.
Author: [profile] animegirl07
Fandom: Pendragon series by D. J. MacHale
Pairing: Mark Dimond/Courtney Chetwynde
Spoilers: I kept it as low as possible, tentative plot outlines of the eighth book, and a bit of a hint for something in book seven. All Second Earth (or Courtney and Mark) related. 

Note: I almost didn't think I'd get this done. And it is unbeta-ed, so any and all mistakes/issues/whatever are my own. Unless they were copied from a book, then those are D.J. MacHale's mistakes. ^^


Okay, quick summary of the series for you non-Traveler folk out there, with as few spoilers as possible.
 
Bobby Pendragon was a normal kid, popular, into sports, crushing on Courtney Chetwynde (you know how it is). Well, all that changes dramatically when his Uncle Press takes him on an adventure. It turns out that Bobby is a Traveler, a member of a group of people who work together to save the “territories” – or worlds – of Halla, which is the entirety of everything, a place where “…every time, every place, every person, every thing that had ever existed, still did exist.” (Black Water, Pendragon Book Five) Halla is made up of ten territories, with one Traveler from each (excepting when two can exist due to a trade off, like when Press passes on his duties to Bobby). The Travelers oppose a man – an evil Traveler – known as Saint Dane, who is set on sending each territory into chaos by messing with the events around each critical point in each territory’s history.
 
Or something like that. Really, D.J. MacHale makes it very difficult to figure out EXACTLY what Saint Dane’s plan is (and I know that’s the point) but it’s also such a complex story that it’s hard to sum up quickly, and without many spoilers. So read the books people.
 
Well, some more brief information. Each Traveler is assisted by an acolyte, or, in Bobby’s case, two. Mark Dimond (Yes, no “a”, as Mark often has to point out), and Courtney Chetwynde, are Bobby’s acolytes on Second Earth. (There are three Earth territories, First Earth being during World War II, Second Earth being our own time, and Third Earth being about a thousand years in the future.)
 
 Now for basic bios of Bobby’s acolytes, Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde.
 
Mark Dimond
 
I like Mark personally because he reminds me a lot of myself. He’s a nerd, to put it simply. He likes books, science, and even “Japanese animation” is mentioned a few times. But no matter how much I like the character, I feel I can’t describe him well enough myself, so I’m going to get some help from Mark’s creator. (Following quote from “The Lost City of Faar”, Book Two.)
 
“Mark was an introvert. He lived in a world of books and graphic novels. He didn’t have many friends. His hair was always a little too long and a little too unwashed. Sports were a four-letter word to him, and his mother still picked out his clothes, which meant he wore a lot of non-name-brand geek outfits that were always about two years out of date. But the thing was, he didn’t care. Mark never wanted to be cool. In fact, being comfortable in his uncoolness made Mark feel pretty good about himself. Where everyone else was trying to impress their friends with the way they looked or who they hung out with or what parties they went to, Mark couldn’t be bothered. So Mark considered himself cooler than cool – in a nerdy kind of way.”
 
So that’s Mark. He’s gotta be the smartest non-Traveler (Sorry, few people can pass Aja Killian of Veelox on pure smarts) and it’s sometimes amazing to think that he and Bobby, such very different people, could be friends. And it’s even more amazing to consider that Mark and Courtney could have a relationship, as they’re even more different. But let’s take look at Courtney first.
 
Courtney Chetwynde
 
Courtney is one of my favorite characters, I have to say. (I notice I say that a lot... there's a lot of characters to love.) She’s tough, beautiful, as nice as a girl with a short temper can be, and she’s in love with Bobby. Well, at the beginning. Here’s D.J. MacHale’s description of Courtney in “The Lost City of Faar”:
 
“Courtney…had it all going on. She was tall and beautiful, with long brown hair that fell to her waist, and piercing gray eyes. She got decent grades. Not world-class, but good enough. She also had a ton of friends. But the thing that defined Courtney was sports. Volleyball in particular. Courtney was so tall and strong that it was unfair for her to play against most girls, so she played on the guys’ teams at Stony Brook. As it turned out, it was unfair for her to play against most boys, too. She absolutely crushed them. Guys feared her because they didn’t want to be embarrassed by a girl, but more because they were afraid when they faced Courtney, they’d lose teeth. At fourteen she was already a legend.”
 
Courtney is totally in control of her life. She’s got friends, something she’s good at, she’s popular, and she and Bobby kiss just before he heads off on his first adventure. So why am I not writing about Courtney and Bobby if I keep bringing them up, you ask? It’s because you have to see where these characters come from. Mark and Courtney don’t become friends overnight, but they become friends for a very good reason. But first, more character information.
 
Mark and Bobby
 
Mark and Bobby are best friends, no doubt about it. D.J. MacHale says it the best (of course):
 
“Mark and Bobby were best buds beginning in kindergarten. Bobby spent so much time at Mark’s house that Mrs. Dimond referred to him as her second son. As they grew older their interests changed. Bobby was into sports and was incredibly outgoing. Mark… wasn’t. But where most people who were so different would drift apart, Mark and Bobby had a friendship that didn’t fade. Bobby often said that as different as they seemed, they both laughed at the same things, and that meant they really weren’t so different after all.”
 
Mark and Bobby are close, so when Bobby gets swept off on this adventure, Loor and Osa (fellow Travelers from Zadaa) tell Bobby to pick someone from his home to send journals to, as a way to remember and record events. It’s given that Bobby would immediately think of Mark, and Osa delivers a ring to Mark that will allow him to receive the journals from Bobby. Mark is pretty confused at Bobby’s disappearance, and the first showing of a journal (transported through the ring) is what brings us into the full scope of the story.
 
 
Bobby and Courtney
 
Bobby and Courtney are virtually going out, at least at the beginning, before the whole Traveler thing kicks in. I know I keep using it, but “The Lost City of Faar” gives some awesome descriptions for all this. (See pages 13 to 16 of the paperback version.)
 
“As for Courtney, Bobby met her in the fourth grade and fell in love. From the very first second he saw her stunning gray eyes, Bobby got slammed with a crush that had yet to fade. Growing up, they were rivals in sports. Bobby was one of the few guys who wasn’t intimidated by Courtney. Just the opposite. Even though she was a girl, he never cut her any slack. Why should he? She was too good. When they played dodge ball, he’d go after her as hard as she went after him. When they ran the four hundred in gym, he’d make sure the two of them went head-to-head. Sometimes he won; other times Courtney took him. In Little League they were on opposing teams and both were pitchers. When the other came up to bat, they’d each dig down a little deeper to throw heat. Naturally there was the occasional brush-back pitch that sent the other into the dirt. No one ever got hit, though. They may have been rivals, but they were still friends.
 
The thing was, as strong as Bobby’s crush on Courtney was, Courtney felt just as strongly about Bobby. But neither let the other one know until that fateful night when Courtney came to Bobby’s house before a basketball game. That’s when Courtney admitted to Bobby how great she thought he was. It was also the night the two kissed for the first time.”
 
As I said, that was also the night that Press took Bobby on his first adventure to Denduron.
 
Mark and Courtney
 
So now we have a definite thing between Bobby and Courtney. So how does Mark come into this? Well, Bobby began sending his journals to Mark, but even a sci-fi fan like Mark would find it rather surprising to suddenly be receiving journals from a best friend who had been whisked off to save all of existence from the clutches of an evil, shape-changing demon. Mark knows about Courtney, and Courtney knows about Mark, so who better to talk to? Especially after Bobby’s entire family and house disappear, and when no one else but Mark and Courtney actually remember Bobby. (Yeah, don’t ask me why about that. Go to D.J. MacHale, the only man with the answers.)
 
Mark asks Courtney to help him, and together the two of them read and take care of all of Bobby’s journals. Together they read about his adventures, and together they manage to keep each other sane. They become a balancing force for the other. Mark is cool and collected, and manages to help Courtney keep her temper in check. Courtney is athletic and confident, and helps Mark keep his self-confidence up.
 
The two were brought together out of mutual concern for their friend, but, as time passes, the two become friends of their own accord, and even help save each others lives, as you’ll find out in later books.
 

Now the pairings!
 
Bobby and Loor
 
This is where the Bobby/Courtney takes a blow. Loor is the Traveler from Zadaa, and, as a Traveler, is with Bobby a lot more than Courtney is. Courtney and Loor are also very similar. Loor is one of the Batu, a race of warriors from Zadaa. She doesn’t have as much of a temper as Courtney does, but they’re both athletic, and Loor is a Traveler, where Courtney is not.
 
Bobby respects Loor from the beginning, especially after they get over their initial dislike of each other. (Loor thinks Bobby is too soft, while Bobby thinks Loor is too brash and headstrong.) Bobby feels a serious attraction to Loor, even if he tries to deny it for a while, and sometimes it seems as if Courtney isn’t too angry about it. Loor is more of a mystery, but she does tell Bobby that she respects him, and, coming from Loor, that’s saying a lot. Courtney eventually recognizes that Bobby and Loor are becoming a couple, and she turns her interests elsewhere. Not to Mark yet, unfortunately.
 
 
Courtney and Whitney
 
After Black Water (Book five), Courtney has some mental issues she has to go sort out, so she goes away for summer school, and, while there, meets a boy named Whitney Wilcox. They have a very short relationship, which ends... well, unfortunately. For Courtney at least. (I’m trying not to spoil this part. It’s a shocker.) Mark comes to her rescue, and she survives the ordeal, and comes back as strong as ever. After an amazing recovery from many broken bones and a near-death experience, Courtney’s ready to kick some evil Traveler butt, and now we get to the best part.
 
 
Courtney and Mark
 
At this point, Courtney and Mark have become amazingly close. They support each other constantly, feel alone and lost when they have to be apart, and they even save each other’s lives. So far, I’ve only covered Mark’s rescue of Courtney, but shortly after that, a tragedy sends Mark almost over the deep end, and Courtney’s world is thrown out of whack when he suddenly disappears. Courtney is also transported through the flume (the means of travel between territories for Travelers) to Second Earth, but there are a few huge changes.
 
She realizes that it’s caused by Mark’s disappearance, or, technically, his travelling to First Earth in order to introduce his invention – a mass of robotics and brilliant chemistry that can assume any form – half a century before it should be. Courtney, with her new perspective (plus some information from Bobby), realizes that this is a trap set by Saint Dane, and chases after Mark to save him.
 
Upon reaching First Earth (about 1945 or so), Courtney gets help from the acolyte there, and they chase down Mark, who is about to board an ocean liner for England. With a few key pieces of information, Courtney realizes that Mark will not survive this voyage, and she goes to stop him. (Personally I think Courtney’s quest to save Mark is one of the best parts of the series. It was amazingly well written, and it made me skip Bobby’s parts to catch up with Mark and Courtney.) Everything eventually comes together, like all good books, and there are certainly some awesome moments in The Pilgrims of Rayne (I’m not giving details because it is amazing, I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it).
 
By the end of the eighth book, Courtney and Mark have entered that odd phase between simple attraction and dating, and it’s set up to develop into a full-fledged romance... unless that’s just my inner fangirl changing what I read to what I want.
 
But without a doubt, their relationship starts as simple association and eventually develops into a true friendship, with serious potential to expand into more.
 
 
Conclusion
 
One thing I really love about this pairing is that, unlike many pairings in stories, they start from scratch, and everything develops over an extensive amount of time (two years or more), which is much more realistic. Yet, the pair also allows us to indulge in the beauty-and-the-geek type romance, which is also enjoyable.
 
The Pendragon series is still incomplete, and I’m excited to find out what happens next, both to Mark and Courtney, as well as to our hero Bobby. I hope that this essay was informative, and that maybe it will convince you to go read the books. If you’re already a fan, messages/comments are encouraged. It’s such a small fandom, and I love talking to people about the books.
 
Recommended Fics
 
There’s really not much out there, for the fandom in general, and for the pairing specifically. (Most fics I’ve found have been “Bobby goes to Saint Dane’s home territory” types... those personally annoy me, as there are only ten territories in the series, so, with that restriction, Saint Dane – if he isn’t from a territory we’ve already seen – must be from either Second or Third Earth. Yeah, way to go Earth territories.) But I did find one, so here you go (and I will update if I find more or write one myself, and suggestions of fics for this pairing are HIGHLY encouraged):
 
Beauty and the Dork by Fierce Kitten: (Complete) Takes place after book eight. "Mark and Courtney have been friends for a long time now. Is it time to start thinking of being... a bit more? When Courtney discovers she has feeling for the adorable acolyte, there is only one question: is Mark off-limits?"

To be honest, it’s not the best fanfic ever (Sorry Fierce Kitten), but when you’re dying for pairings of small fandoms, you take what you can get. I hope you enjoy it. (I did.) And I hope you’ve enjoyed my essay. Critiques are welcome (so long as they are put politely, please), fellow fangirlism is welcome, and general Pendragon love is encouraged.
 
Thanks!
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