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Belligerent Sexual Tension / Literature

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  • It's hinted that Rachel and Marco's playful rivalry in the early Animorphs books might be this, particularly on Marco's part. It begins to take on much darker and nastier undertones as the war wears on. They seem to flirt in earlier books, Marco's immediate reaction to seeing that Rachel has been split in half is that there's one for him now, Nice Rachel says she would go out with him if he asked her, and in the Wonderful Life/What If? book, where they never became Animorphs and Rachel never really got to know Tobias, they did end up going on a date. Later in the series, Marco makes it pretty clear that he thinks Rachel is a rageaholic violence junkie and Rachel gets very impatient with his snark and suspicious caution. Basically, one of the running themes of the book is that sooner or later, war ruins everything. In this case, it turned a perfectly cheerful flirty, belligerent friendship between two people who did in fact like one another into something very nasty and cruel over the course of a war, three years, and fifty books.
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  • Jane Eyre is very subtle, but it's definitely present, especially in the tight, intelligent discussions between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Because it was the 1800s and written by a woman, odds are good that really obvious sexual tension would've been even more frowned upon than the book having a female author in the first place. This example is more evident in the movie, especially the 2011 one.
  • Pretty much any Mills & Boone romance novel will feature a "feisty female" lead, while the leading male is always a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Harry Potter
    • Ron and Hermione are this in spades. It really starts in Book 4 (when they start entering puberty) that their fights gain the romantic tension. A large part of the tension comes from both of their massive insecurities and both of them suffering from Cannot Spit It Out. Another comes from each other's insensitivity (while Hermione has made plenty of comments over Ron's, she can be just as insensitive, but hers is not called out as often. Both of them get utterly jealous when the other is with someone else. It is no surprise to Harry when they finally kiss in Book 7. As a married couple, Rowling said they needed to get counseling at some point, but they're Happily Married and Ron is the more romantic one.
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    • Lily Evans and James Potter seem to have this in their school days, though it was a bit more complicated. Lily is implied to be a B-type Tsundere (one who is generally nice, but acts angry toward their interest) though that was due to how James and her then-best friend Snape kept fighting, one getting the feeling that she was annoyed she was drawn to someone like him. James meanwhile was something of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who matured as he got older. They went from her unable to stand him in their fifth year to dating him in seventh year and Happily Married around when they were nineteen (though granted, people did get married earlier back then). They end their story giving their lives to protect their son.
  • The Lensman universe has Kim Kinnison, Lensman, and Clarissa MacDougall, Prime Base Hospital nurse. They annoy the hell out of each other as patient and caregiver, but in fact their psychological makeup has been carefully crafted to produce a good match—eventually. His rants in hospital (he wants rich food, but is still recovering from major surgery for multiple penetrating bullet wounds) later become a plot point when he has to surreptitiously let Clarissa know that she and the other captured Patrol nurses are in safe hands and shouldn't commit suicide to avoid sexual enslavement.
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  • Zohra and Khardan in Rose of the Prophet. They have a forced marriage early in the first book. The bride is tied up and gagged to wed the falling-down-drunk groom, and the wedding night notably involves the bride stabbing her would-be husband. Will They or Won't They? is still a big plot point (they may be married, but consummation is not forthcoming), and basically will decide if their people survive or die.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain has Eilonwy and Taran. Pretty much every conversation-including the one where he proposes to her-are Snark-to-Snark Combat, with generous helpings of Hypocritical Heartwarming ("no one makes fun of him/her but me!")
  • Lucian and Joy-in-the-Dance in The Arkadians are another Lloyd Alexander example.
  • Forest Kingdom: In book 1 (Blue Moon Rising), this exists between Prince Rupert (Jerk with a Heart of Gold) and Princess Julia (Tsundere for most of the book). They eventually get their act together at the end and by the time of the sequels are a real Battle Couple.
  • Claire Bell's The Book of the Named gives us Ratha, a Tsundere, and Bonechewer, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Due to an Enemy Mine situation, they do eventually end up together, only to fall out over the secret of the Named's sentience, and her people killing him when he raided their flocks.
  • In the Night World series, Ash and Mary-Lynette are like this in the majority of Daughters of Darkness. He's a self-admitted jerk who toys with hearts, she's deredere but kicks him in the shins. A lot.
  • Supposedly Howl and Sophie from the novel (but not the film) Howl's Moving Castle and its sequels. Howl and Sophie consistently and constantly have verbal sniping matches throughout the entire book, and that doesn't exactly change—though it's affectionate after their marriage. They even take the time to do so while rushing using life-endangering magic to the climax of the battle. And during their confessions of love.
    • In the sequel, Castle in the Air, Abdullah asks Sophie to tell him about Howl, and the response Sophie gives him prompts him to say, "Strange that you should speak so proudly such a list of vices, most loving of ladies." Sophie's retort: "What do you mean, vices? I'm just describing Howl." The belligerence is just how they roll.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister. One of their early scenes shows a sword fight between them, described in a way similar to a sexual encounter, by the end of which Jaime jokingly tells the third party that was chastising his wife (the guy promptly points out that it looked more like she was chastising him). Really, their whole relationship reeks of suppressed erotic tension.
    • Sandor Clegane clearly cannot decide whether he is more attracted to Sansa Stark or annoyed by her idealistic outlook on life. So in turns he: mocks her, tries to help her survive in the Decadent Court, threatens to kill her and saves her life. Although the sexual tension is mutual, belligerence comes solely from him, as Sansa tries her best to be polite to him (which he usually finds annoying).
    • Jon Snow and Ygritte. They start off as enemies, Jon being a man of the Night's Watch and Ygritte being a wildling warrior. Then Jon becomes a Fake Defector from the Night's Watch to spy on the wildings, and the two quickly develop feelings for each other while continuing to bicker regularly, mostly as a result of Ygritte's penchant for teasing him.
  • Pride and Prejudice actually contains considerably less of this trope between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy than some of its adaptations and fandom would have you believe; Lizzy genuinely hates Darcy at the beginning, and by the time they get together they aren't bickering anymore. Darcy shows a bit more, as he develops his attraction to Elizabeth pretty early on and continues to fight with her even as he struggles against his admiration of her, but it's still not very much. If you want a Jane Austen couple who really display this trope, check out Mr. Knightley and Emma.
  • Erasmus and Ala from Anathem.
  • In On the Edge, Rose and Declan bicker constantly, mainly because Declan insists on Rose marrying him and she is determined to maintain her independence. Despite herself, Rose finds herself wondering what such a marriage would be like...
  • Annice and Pjerin in Tanya Huff's Sing the Four Quarters.
  • Nathaniel and Kitty are this on the occasions when they meet going through The Bartimaeus Trilogy. They even fit the "jerk with a heart of gold" and "sweet but easily angered female" stereotypes. Well, then again maybe "sweet" isn't really the word for the girl, but the rest is true. Also helped along by the fact that they are on opposing sides of a political war.
  • C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: In The Horse and His Boy, Aravis and Cor spend most of the book vehemently disagreeing and voicing their annoyance with each other.
    Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I'm afraid even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.
  • In The Guardians, Irena and Alejandro argue with each other constantly. Even the other characters notice it.
    Alejandro: We're just friends.
    Jake: If you say so.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Percy and Annabeth bicker as much as they show affection for each other. It gets worse when Luke gives up his body to Kronos in the fourth book. Percy is convinced that Luke cannot be redeemed, but Annabeth, who shares a long history with Luke, believes there's still hope. This disagreement causes a huge amount of bad feeling between them. It all works out in the end, though.
    • There's also Leo and Calypso in the Sequel Series The Heroes of Olympus. When Leo first arrives on Calypso's island, they take an immediate disliking to one another, but soon develop feelings for each other while continuing to snipe at each other.
  • The Spy Five, a short series of virtually unknown books available through Scholastic's book fair order forms, gives us Usula and Julian. They run in the same circles as Ron and Hermione. She's bossy and intelligent, while he's "cool" and loves sports. Both have a Hair-Trigger Temper, triggered by the other.
  • Piccadilly and Audrey in Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy. Neither will admit their romantic feelings to the other, and Audrey especially outwardly appears to despise Piccadilly. By the time they do confess their love, it is too late.
    "Ho ho mousey boy, this pretty maid your girlie friend—yes?"
    He could not have said anything worse. Audrey flushed and turned beetroot while Piccadilly groaned and wanted to disappear.
  • Discworld
    • Mort and Ysabell. Largely because Ysabell knows she's supposed to marry Mort and resents this, and Mort is perennially clueless. As the book that introduces their daughter puts it:
      Between Mort and Ysabell there was an instant dislike, and everyone knows what that means in the long term.
    • Lords and Ladies implies that Archchancellor Ridcully and Granny Weatherwax had this sort of relationship when they were younger. When they meet again decades later, it immediately starts up again. Ridcully regrets that nothing ever actually happened between them, while Granny takes a more pragmatic "it was for the best" approach (although it's revealed that she kept the love letters he sent all these years). Dimension leakage in the plot also shows that there's at least one timeline where they were happily married and had grandchildren.
  • Subverted in Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. Tan Tan's parents had a love that people described as "so sweet it's hot", but eventually turned into pure discord without the sweet. Tan Tan's father killed her mother's lover in a duel and fled with his daughter, and then things got worse...
  • Subverted in John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos: Amelia notes she once thought Vanity's squabbling with Colin was a sign of love, since that's the way it always happens in books. Vanity actually loves Quentin, and is very attentive and kind around him.
  • David Eddings is almost as fond of this trope as Rumiko Takahashi. Half the couples in The Belgariad alone fall under it, most notably Garion/Ce'Nedra, Relg/Taiba, and Beldin/Vella in the Malloreon.
    • In the backstory, the first royal couple of united Arendia initially hated each other with a vengeance, owing to each of them being on a different side in the long-running civil war, but ended up falling in love after Polgara locked them away in a room together for several months.
  • L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables gives us Anne and Gilbert, though the belligerence is much more on Anne's part than Gilbert's. It started with Gilbert making an ill-timed comment about her red hair, and getting his slate smashed over the top of his head. From there it spawned a legendary academic rivalry and Avonlea's most infamous love affair.
  • In Rilla of Ingleside Jerry Meredith and Nan Blythe's relationship is said to be worked out mainly through their own form of sweethearting, which involves a lot of arguing.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Maggie Spritzer and Ted Robinson have this going on between them for a long time. They eventually got engaged to be married. However, Deja Vu has Maggie calling it off, because she ends up realizing that she's been unfair to both Ted and Abner Tookus.
  • Mercy Thompson and Adam Hauptman don't stop even after they get married. Mercy states that she actually enjoys fighting with Adam.
  • Old Love is a short story written by Jeffrey Archer. It describes the heated rivalry between William and Phillipa, the top literature students at Oxford. They end up marrying each other and keep bickering with each other for the rest of their lives. The couple keep insulting one another to express their mutual love.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill the Reckless, Jill remembers how Wally Mason would put a worm down her back or bound out from behind a tree. Adult, he confesses to a mad love for her.
  • The Day of Reckoning
    • Demetrus and Andra argue loudly about his lack of ethics and her hypocrisy, but they stick together despite dangerous situations. A visiting Jedi, listening to them, concludes that they genuinely care for each other. Later it turns out that they get married.
    • Those same Jedi, in The Shattered Peace, witness two people from rival worlds meeting for the first time, bickering fiercely, making up and working well together, and then parting acrimoniously. When one finds that he's inadvertently endangered the other he immediately tries to help her. In this case Obi-Wan was oblivious to this trope in action, but Qui-Gon saw it.
      Qui-Gon: Words do not always echo feelings. You saw two enemies. I saw two young beings fighting an attraction they knew was inappropriate.
  • Sasha and Daichi in Greek Ninja. They hate each other's guts, yet Eleonora points out that they are a match made in heaven. So she's onto them...
  • Benny and Jason in Death and Diplomacy. Eventually Jason's Non-Human Sidekick gives them an infuriated psych evaluation on the grounds that "If I hear one more sexually-charged and mutually misunderstood argument I'm going to shoot the pair of you!"
  • The Kingdom and the Crown during the second book has the main character Simeon develop this with the main antagonists' daughter, Miriam. They resolve it by the end and get married in the third book.
  • Between Rowena and Jaxon in Summers at Castle Auburn. They clearly have very complicated feelings for each other, and they express it in veiled threats where he says he'll capture her and sell her into slavery and she says she'll enchant him and take him to Alora, the fairy realm.
  • Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux's M/M crime romance series Cut and Run gives us FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett, who bicker Like an Old Married Couple, engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat, even flat-out brawl at times, and—over the course of the series—risk their lives for one another, all while sexy times ensue.
  • Heroics: Zach and Casey have this in spades. Word of God says that it's because they had a one night stand that went too well, and now neither of them know how to deal with it.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt seems to love this trope! Beatrice and Seth from Överenskommelser might be the prime example, with their neverending tendency to misunderstand each other. But still, Illiana and Markus from "Betvingade" and Magdalena and Gabriel from "De skandalösa" have it too, as they sometimes have unnecessary fights.
  • Played with in The Lost Fleet with two lieutenants who are always arguing with each other to the point that when they get kidnapped everyone just assumes that they decided to elope. Inverted when they get rescued and it turns out that no, they just really, really hate each other, to the point that the doctor ends up using drugs to keep them on different sleep cycles to stop them from killing each other while they are in quarantine together.
  • Myrren and Raine in Dark Heart. They're thrown together by circumstance as Raine flees from assassins sent by the enemies of his family, which Myrren is none too pleased about (at first).
  • Lucias and Clara in Dark Ones Mistress. Practically right off the bat when they first meet as she's trying to escape his notice.
  • In The Hunger Games, even when Katniss tries to act nice, she can't help but bicker with Peeta. Also has this with Gale.
  • In The Halo of Amaris by Jade Brieanne, the tension between angel Key and human Jon can be cut with a knife. It's belligerent because outside of almost every conversation they have being a snark-fest competition to out-yell the other–knives, guns, fist fights and sexually charged “friendly” sparring matches join the fray. Although it's clear that they would never actual go through with half of their threats. Maybe.
    • The relationship between the two main protagonist, Jin and Aiden, seems to be headed this way but after one particularly bad argument, they decide to just go for it, and it is resolved. They spend the rest of their time trying to keep Jin alive.
  • Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy has Sophy, a Manipulative Bitch and The Matchmaker, and Charles Rivenhall, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. They constantly clash as Sophy upsets the order Charles wants to impose on his family, until eventually he realises that her manipulations are for the good of the family, that she really cares, and that he loves her. Of course, she manipulates him into finally proposing.
  • In Mary Gentle's White Crow stories, the only times Valentine and her perennial love interest Baltazar Casaubon don't have this going on, they're married. (Which isn't to say that the two scenarios are mutually exclusive.)
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): Kaladin and Shallan begin to develop a touch of this after she steals his boots, but they both seem to have decided that it's not going anywhere, since Shallan is already engaged to a man she cares for deeply.
  • Merik and Safi of The Witchlands have this in spades—every interaction between them is roughly 80% annoyed fighting and 20% blooming attraction, and sometimes it's impossible to say where one ends and the other begins.
  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: Jame and Tori—although unlike a lot of examples of this trope, their attraction is not the primary cause of their fighting. Their fighting is mostly caused by real, complex issues between them, of which Tori's fear of and jealousy of Jame are probably the most important. It still feeds into BST quite easily, though. Lampshaded by Adiraina.
    Adiraina: I could not see how you looked at one another when you first met tonight, but I could hear. You cut, so as not to kiss.
  • In Warrior Cats, Brambleclaw and Squirrelflight's relationship is like this, particularly in Twilight; they frequently bicker.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Luke has this with Mara Jade after their first meeting, though the belligerence was largely on her end and Luke just sorta rolls with it. After They Do, Mara's snarking becomes something of a private joke between them.
    • In Fate of the Jedi, their son Ben has a Dating Catwoman relationship with a Sith girl, and they're like this all the time. Taken Up to Eleven when in Ascension, Ben decides to break into her room...
    • In Razor's Edge, the final Legends novel before The Empire Strikes Back, Han and Leia's pre-romance is in full swing. They both privately admit to themselves their feelings for each other, while sniping at each other every chance they get. (Han has more "Your Worship"s for Leia than one can count.) In one scene they strategize in a very cramped restroom to avoid being overheard, and have to work very hard to avoid physical contact. Leia snaps at Han when his shifting positions distracts and flusters her.
  • In Shadow, Sir Kenway and Shadow spend most of their time arguing with each other.
  • In Ramona Quimby, Age 8, the "kids picking on their crushes" version of this trope is shown between Ramona and her classmate Danny, a.k.a. "Yard Ape." He teases her and steals her eraser on the first day of school, while she gives him the aforementioned nickname and thinks she can't stand him at first. But he comforts her when she thinks their teacher doesn't like her, and writes her a unique, playful "get well" card when she gets sick, while she in turn starts to "really like him" (though she never admits it) and his grin even makes her forget her lines while she's presenting a book report.
  • The Wayside School series is very aware that elementary school kids tend to tease, annoy and bicker with their crushes. Throughout the books, Joy picks on Todd, Jason picks on Alison, Terrence picks on Rondi, Paul is obsessed with pulling Leslie's pigtails, and Dana and John are arch-enemies who obviously really like each other. In one chapter, this trope is lampshaded when Dana thinks she hates hearing stories because they make her feel too many strong emotions; when Mr. Jewls makes her realize that she really loves stories, she suddenly exclaims in disgust "What if I really love John too?"
  • In the Great Tree of Avalon series (the Sequel Series to The Lost Years of Merlin), Tamwyn and Elli have this with each other, as do Scree and Brionna. Each couple easily recognizes this trope in the other, but takes longer to recognize it in themselves.
  • Im The Folk of the Air, Jude and Cardan start off hating each other and, after coming to understand one another better, still hate each other. But they also don't think quiet as badly of one another as they used to, and are also aware of the fact that they're attracted to each other, and resent that they feel that attraction. Gets to the point in some scenes where it almost seems like they're using 'hate' as a substitute for the word 'love' just to avoid having to admit to their feelings.
  • Marcus and Teriana from Dark Shores. They have been forced to collaborate and spend most of their time together (including sharing a tent). Marcus tries to be civil about it but Teriana really, really likes arguing with him or making sarcastic remarks about him — which does not stop them from getting certain thoughts. Marcus muses at one point that he really should not be staring at Teriana's ass, since she's nothing but a pain in his.
  • Jemmie and Crowe from Devils & Thieves have feelings for each other, but they also act quite antagonistic to each other. They tend to flip-flop on whether or not they want to be nice to the other person, leading to a lot of bickering and tension, all the while not admitting their true feelings until the end.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: Khat and Elen, a persecuted non-citizen and a noblewoman respectively, develop this as they're stuck associating with and looking after each other. It's not helped by Khat purposely trolling Elen's friends who think they're having an affair. Ultimately, Khat turns down Elen's offer of courtship, albeit fondly.
  • Simon and Baz from Carry On. Simon calls Baz his "sworn enemy" and constantly stalks him with the belief that he must be plotting something evil, while Baz insults and annoys Simon as much as humanly possible and is guilty of (seemingly) trying to kill him on more than one occasion. Baz has also been secretly, hopelessly in love with Simon for at least two years and Simon eventually realizes that his obsession with following Baz's every move was really just him being obsessed with Baz himself.


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