Summary: Arthur and Francine are ready to start the next chapter of their life together and are now engaged. They have everything planned out, and David and Thora are even providing money for the ceremony and their first home for when they become a married couple. With so much going for them, is a fairy tale wedding in their future or will religious differences cloud the date?
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Francine stepped into the apartment she shared with Arthur. A few weeks before, she and Arthur had finally set a date for their wedding, and Francine was happy to finally be close to marrying the man of her dreams. She’d loved Arthur for years, and she knew Arthur loved her as well.
But she could sense problems as she heard murmurs coming from the next room. Francine stepped into the dining room to see Thora, David, and Arthur sitting around the table, a fresh pie on the counter. Thora smiled as she stood to serve Francine a plate. The men merely looked to her, exchanging tense glances as Thora handed Francine her slice.
“Sit down, dear. We were just discussing where the ceremony would be held,” Thora smiled. Francine sat down nervously, “We already decided on a venue actually. We’re getting married-”
“Not that ceremony,” David interrupted. “We’re going to hold a conversion party for you so you can show your love for our faith.”
Francine stared at them, “What? I’m a proud Jew. I won’t convert to your religion before I’ve had a proper discussion with my fiance.”
“Well that’s what this is for,” Thora smiled. “We’ve been talking with Arthur, and you know, we were going to give you my house so you can start your new life together. But I won’t approve if he marries a Jewish girl. You have to be Catholic or none of this will work.”
“Do you even hear yourselves? I thought this wouldn’t be an issue, Arthur! You told me they were happy about my religion, that we would be accepting of each other,” Francine cried.
Arthur shook his head, “This wasn’t my decision. Please, just go along with it. We really need a better place to stay. The lease is up here in six months, and if you don’t convert, we’ll have to pay for everything ourselves.”
“I can’t believe this,” Francine scoffed. “You make it sound like this sort of thing doesn’t matter, that you can just switch religions because hey, why not? You make it sound like your religion is better than mine, that everything would be better if my religion didn’t exist. Well, it does exist, and I’m very proud of it. I would never convert without putting serious thought into the situation, and I don’t see my decision changing even after such thought.
“You know, I think I’ll just go,” Francine said firmly, gathering her things. “I can’t be with such close-minded people who think it’s perfectly fine to abandon my family and my beliefs when you don’t even understand them, and you’ve never tried to understand them. I’ve offered myself to you, Arthur. I offered you so much of myself, but this is what you want. You want your parents and grandparents to throw you around.”
“I had no choice-”
“You did,” Francine said, “and you picked the wrong one. Sorry, but I’m gone. I’ll be back tomorrow for my things,” she huffed, leaving the apartment.
David looked down to his plate and kept eating, “Good pie, Mom.”
Arthur nodded in agreement, but he didn’t eat another bite.
Francine arrived with Muffy and a moving crew the next day. Word had already spread about the Read family trying to force Francine to convert. Outrage was caused, and a few people using the services the Read’s provided had now pulled their contracts. David’s afternoon catering venture was canceled, and his wife sat at home twiddling her thumbs when the Jewish-owned company she was helping cut her loose.
As Francine stepped into her room, she could feel the tension in the air. Arthur heard her come in and stepped into the room. Muffy huffed at him and moved across the room to begin packing Francine’s clothes. Two moving men pushed past Arthur as if he wasn’t there to begin packing Francine’s bookshelf. They lifted Francine’s bookshelf up and out of the room, the adrenaline of from their anger helping them out the door without clearing one thing off the shelf.
“Look, Francine, it wasn’t my idea. I really didn’t mean to upset you like this. Please, talk to me,” Arthur pleaded.
Muffy stepped forward as Francine began packing a box in silence. Muffy looked Arthur over, “You know, for years, I’ve been told I was a snobby little daddy’s girl who needed to put others’ needs before my own. I took that advice, Arthur, but I think it should’ve been meant for you. Religion isn’t a toy, Arthur. It’s a way of life, a culture, and you just let your family tell Francine her culture, her family, and her very being isn’t worth the Read name. Don’t expect her to just talk it out and have everything be rosy again.”
“But it wasn’t my idea. I tried to tell them it wouldn’t work. I wanted it to be even. I would celebrate my Catholic faith, Francine would be Jewish, and our children would be raised with both until they decided to choose, if they ever did. That’s what I want, but we need their money, their house. We needed what they had,” Arthur argued.
“We didn’t need anything, Arthur,” Francine whispered. “We could renew the lease and keep working. We could have our ceremony in a cheaper place, if we had one at all, and we could just keep saving up until we got a better place to live. We didn’t need anything from them, but I see where you stand,” she said, picking up a tattered leather-bound book, “This is the one thing my Bubby left for me.”
“Let me finish!” Francine hissed. “This is our religious book, the Torah, and she used to read this to me when I was very little. She read it in Hebrew, our language, and then she would feed me snacks from our home country and gossip about our family members back home. If she ever found out I’d even considered your petty, thoughtless offer, she’d burst out of her grave and curse you out herself. I won’t let that happen. I won’t bring shame to my family just because I’m a shame to yours.
“Now get out so I can work,” Francine finished, turning around and beginning to pack again.
Within two hours, her things were out of the apartment. She left her keys on a table by the door, and though Muffy looked back into the apartment for one last time, Francine refused. She was done with Arthur. If he couldn’t accept her, she’d find someone who would.
Francine was eating breakfast in her childhood kitchen. Her sister had just finished mocking her over the phone for moving back in with her parents, but Catherine didn’t know the details. Laverne did, and she sat next to her daughter, pouring milk into her cereal with a blank expression.
“I heard another client rejected their services,” Laverne whispered. “David Read is being shunned by our community, and I’m beginning to think the Crosswire’s are helping,” she winked.
Francine shook her head, “Muffy told her parents to stay out of it. She thinks this entire scandal will be enough to prove a point, but I don’t know. I never thought something like this would happen.”
“It’s common. So many people see us as just…the scum of the earth. They feel like we should change to suit them, that we should convert to their religions to be accepted. Some women do, but those who stay strong are rewarded. If you love your faith enough to lose a soul mate, God will reward you in the end,” Laverne smiled.
Francine wasn’t so sure, but it was too soon to tell. She wanted to be happy with Arthur, marrying him as planned, but she wouldn’t budge, and anyone who thought she would was crazy.
Francine finished breakfast and moved into her room. She had work in a few hours, but first, she would start looking for another place to live. She wanted to find an apartment in Bubby’s old neighborhood, and many were in her price range. She’d have to ride public transportation for multiple hours in a day to get there, but she could feel it was worth it. She was done with Elwood City and the life she once had.
Arthur’s family suffered greatly until they issued a public apology, but by then, Francine had left town. She was ready to fully embrace her Jewish heritage and put bad memories behind her.
The apology allowed people to trust the Read’s again, at least, but Arthur had lost a lot of respect among his peers. What was once the relationship to recreate was now the relationship to avoid completely, and many found themselves dating outside of their class, their race, and their religion just to show Arthur that anything was possible. He felt terrible, but Francine was gone, and she wasn’t coming back, so he had to move on too, if he could.
Life would move on, but an important lesson was to be learned, and Elwood City felt the repercussions. People would never be the same, and tolerance would be the overall demand. Those who couldn’t tolerate would be shunned, and soon, Arthur left Elwood City to start over. He’d learn from his mistake, but he’d never win Francine back. She’d have to find someone else herself, but the situation had made her stronger, much, much stronger.
Theme 85: Understanding
Theme from my Arthur Infinite Theme List challenge. Let me know if you’re interested.
A/N: So this piece came out of a time where the Arthur fandom on ff.net gravitated towards this sick notion that couples from different religions couldn’t be together without one of the parties converting (or both. One fanfic had both Arthur, a Catholic, and Francine, a Jew, become born-again Christians). Despite the fact that the fandom now has other problems (severe problems), I still feel like this problem, the issue of religion, is one of great importance that is worth bringing up again.
The fact of the matter is this: If you are too immature to understand what you’re writing about, you shouldn’t write about it. That’s how this piece came about. I hate it really. I mean, it’s terrible that a couple couldn’t have their happily ever after over something so stupid, but it happens, and this is how it should really happen when you compare it to the other pieces in the fandom.
So, for those of you wondering what the Arthur fandom is like on other sites, here’s my first example for you: The people on ff.net let ignorance rule them. The main user is Travis-current year- (he’s currently known as Travis2016). Somehow this sick-minded individual is religious, but the sick mind part keeps him from handling the issue with tact. So he writes about communist weddings and the characters starting churches as born-again Christians while starting a family, because yeah, that money stuff like totally grows on trees. He’s not the only example, but he’s the main person I’m avoiding by coming here. I can’t handle him anymore, so here I am.
NOTE: This is not a representation of the ENTIRE Arthur fandom, just a select group from a time period long past. The current situation of the fandom is much, much worse. Stories about genitalia and bath houses and so many other sick things have taken over, so here I am. I’ll be mentioning the fandom’s issues more in the future, but feel free to discuss it with me. And please, support the few of us that are left that can actually write a decent fic:)