Princess Constance of Blackvale hopes a witch’s entrapment proves less onerous than a royal betrothal. A ring weighs heavy upon a gay trans man who knows no acceptable reason to avoid marrying the man he loves. Suki faces condemnation for scorning her lover’s courtly intentions. Esher Hill’s dogs make his days worth living, but his cousin believes marriage the cure to his depression. Priesthood offers Moll community and purpose in a life eschewing love until their usefulness–and their humanity–comes under question. A baker risks unknowable powers rather than submit to the relationships his mother deems necessary.
When society celebrates partnership as obligate duty, unquestionable necessity and saving grace, what must these aromantics sacrifice to build a world without it?
Spirits Most Singular collects sixteen fantasy and contemporary aromantic stories that don’t centre on a wish for or possession of a partner.
Contains: Aromantics who don’t desire long-term partnerships; aromantics who prefer their intimate relationships to remain casual; aromantics who state upfront their desire for short-term companionship; and aromantics whose challenges in navigating co-workers, relatives and society should have nothing to do with relationship status.
Length: 78, 000+ words / 247 PDF pages.
This is another free aromantic fiction collection archiving previously-published short stories about non-partnering protagonists. Readers should expect non-explicit or suggestive sex mentions and references in many stories, along with romance references, depictions of physical intimacy and sexual attraction, and depictions of amatonormativity, singlism and aromantic, aro-ace and allo-aro antagonism. Love, ableism, emotional abuse, cissexism, heterosexism, sex negativity and misogyny are also common themes.
Blurbs and specific content advisories are listed below. Each header link will also direct you to a page containing story length and alternate publication information.
Even knows himself: son, baker, non-partnering. He doesn’t want to want sex, marriage or children; he wants the village’s acceptance of a life best lived crafting seed buns and fruit pies. He doesn’t want the local flock of crows as his only companions; he wants human friendships free of pressure and expectation. Most of all, he wants Ma to let go of the idea that a sorcerer’s magic can and must “fix” him.
Desperation leads Even into the forest to seek the only person who can advise him on resisting a sorcerer: the witch Miser Felled, “skilled purveyor of magic and pleasure”. A master of scandal-provoking arts never undertaken before open windows and watching birds. A mysterious figure who has more in common with Even than just an affinity for crows … and offers a more extraordinary solution than he ever thought possible.
Content Advisory: This story depicts a background culture of sex negativity, heteronormativity, amatonormativity and allonormativity, including the presumption of one’s possessing a binary gender, experiencing sexual and romantic attraction, and marrying someone of the other binary gender. Please also expect moments of ableism and degendering as well as antagonism targeting the non-partnering and childless/childfree. The aro-ace narrator, who isn’t sex or romance favourable, is pressured into dating and marriage to the point of his mother’s threatening the magical equivalent to conversion therapy.
Spending Midsummer night with a pretty man shouldn’t be a problem for Suki … except for everybody else’s romantic expectations.
Content Advisory: This piece describes the amatonormativity common to allo-aros where casual sexual experiences are presumed to lead to or develop into romantic relationships–an assumption often reinforced by people outside the relationship. Please expect sex references, arousal references, depictions of physical intimacy and depictions of sexual attraction, along with sex-negative (slut-shaming) comments made by the character’s mother.
When Mama Lewis continues to browbeat Suki into becoming the kind of girl who doesn’t tick off unwanted romantic suitors, she knows the best thing to do is leave. The port city of Malvade offers work enough to pay for her own room, but Suki’s freedom comes with long hours, a leaking roof, outhouse mould and a yearning for a world that offers her more than bare subsistence and continued disregard.
A red-robed priest of the Sojourner may hold answer and opportunity … if only she can endure a conversation with someone preaching a truth anathema to everything a proud woman of Freehome should believe.
Content Advisory: This piece references the amatonormativity common to allo-aros where casual sexual experiences are presumed to lead to or develop into romantic relationships, along with the ways these assumptions fuel and justify the protagonist’s mothers’ emotionally abusive behaviours. This story also has Suki referring to herself with the misogynistic term “bitch”.
An unexpected letter sees Suki of Sirenne, a red-robed priest of the Sojourner, doing the unimaginable: returning home to farewell a dying Mama Polly. After ten years of studying the ways of Spoken Service, she’s built a life that serves her nature … even if she’s still inclined to a sharp turn of phrase. Can’t she now explain her feelings and choices in ways easier for Mama Lewis to accept? Shouldn’t her mothers now be easier to manage?
Yet one conversation leaves Suki feeling that she’ll never stop being the brittle, abrasive young woman who left Freehome … and presents her a problem only solvable by remembering priesthood’s first lesson.
Content Advisory: This piece references the amatonormativity common to allo-aros where casual sexual experiences are presumed to lead to or develop into romantic relationships, along with the ways these assumptions fuel and justify the protagonist’s mother’s emotionally abusive behaviour. It also depicts the pressuring and manipulation present in emotional abuse, including use of one’s love as a silencing tactic. Suki refers to herself and her mother, in the process of reflecting on their similarities, with the misogynistic term “bitch”.
Constance, princess of Blackvale, knows the duty of a summer-hearted heir: wed the prince, birth the child, symbolise her people’s prosperity and fecundity. Love, joyously and passionately, a man even she believes handsome and kind. But what if her heart can’t cast summer’s warmth? What if she feels solely the profane desires of skin and flesh? What if Blackvale’s crops wither and rot unripened because their future queen can’t—and won’t—bow to the nonsensical-seeming rule of seasons?
She knows only one way to avoid catastrophe, falsehood and marriage: surrendering herself to the Forest Witch. Not even for his daughter will the king risk angering the feared but necessary master of briars, protector of forests and abductor of women.
Constance expects a lifetime’s bondage to a dangerous witch, freeing her cousin to inherit Blackvale’s throne. The witch has other ideas…
Content Advisory: Depictions of and references to amatonormativity, allonormativity, aro and allo-aro antagonism, misogyny, and sex negativity (particularly as it overlaps with misogyny). This story makes the use of colour/seasonal metaphors that do not fully correlate to our understandings of a-spec identity and (intentionally) fail to include all a-spec identities. It also takes place in a culture of general allosexual alloromantic privilege where a-specs of all identities experience (non-identical) shapes of marginalisation. Please expect descriptions of physical intimacy, kissing and sexual attraction along with the usual fantasy fare of death mentions and references to violence.
The forest road promises you the chance of a world beyond marriage’s expectation … but the witch waiting by the roadside offers up queerer, stranger proofs of validity.
Content advisory: Literal and metaphoric depiction of a human protagonist’s sexual attraction for a not-quite-human witch, as well as that entity’s attraction for the protagonist, in a fairy tale centred on allo-aro sexuality and reclamation of stereotype. Please expect references to aro antagonism, amatonormativity and sex negativity in terms of how they intersect to harm allo-aros as well as passing references to misogyny, queer antagonism and trans antagonism.
True love’s kiss will break any spell. Always be kind to wizened crones. The youngest son is most favoured by wise foxes and crows. Princes save princesses from beastly dragons and towers overgrown with briar brambles. A happily ever after always involves a wedding…
The Wind and the Stars is a short aro-ace fairy tale about heroes, love, adulthood and the worlds we make in the stories we tell.
Content Advisory: Non-explicit sexual references, kissing mentions, many references to common fairy tale structures that contain misogyny, heterosexism and amatonormativity. This story also depicts society’s unquestioning reaction to said structures.
Moll of Sirenne needs prompts in their girdle book to navigate casual conversations, struggles to master facial expressions and feels safest weeding the monastery’s vegetable gardens. Following their call to service, however, means offering wanderers in need a priest’s support and guidance. A life free of social expectation to court, wed and befriend does outweigh their fear of causing harm—until forgetting the date of a holiday provokes a guest’s ire and three cutting words: lifeless and loveless.
A priest must expand a guest’s sense of human worth, but what do they do when their own comes under question? Can an autistic, aromantic priest ever expect to serve outside the garden? And what day is it…?
Content Advisory: Depictions and discussions of ableism, amatonormativity and dehumanisation, particularly with regards to autism and aromanticism. Please expect additional background references to partner abuse and dysfunctional relationships, along with a side mention of magic causing harm to animals. This piece also includes reflections on non-romantic love’s being pushed as a second-best “humanising” quality on non-partnering, aplatonic and neurodiverse aros.
When Mara Hill’s magic results in her brother’s impossible, wondrous transition, of course Suki wants to know how she did it! What if Sirenne’s magic workers can help others find euphoria? What if this magic can heal Suki’s hands—or at least lessen her pain? But Mara, distrustful of priests after their failure in protecting Esher, won’t share her power.
A senior priest must bear responsibility, but Suki suspects her problems lie deeper than lack of oversight, and her reluctance to discuss her aromanticism with a woman who needs support only proves it. Would she have preserved Mara’s faith and Esher’s health if she hadn’t first avoided revealing herself to her aromantic kin? If she’d faced their expectations that she shoulder their pain and grief as well as her own?
Suki has lived her life by the Sojourner’s second precept, but how does she serve when she doesn’t have more to give—and never will?
Content Advisory: Please expect many references to or depictions of aro antagonism, allo-aro antagonism, amatonormativity, familial abuse, mental illness, suicidal ideation, death, gender dysphoria, chronic pain, ableism and ageism. This piece contains non-detailed, non-specific reference to a character’s past suicide attempts as well as Suki’s use of the word “bitch” to describe herself (now in a more reclaiming way).
Esher Hill left his home and kin a crying wreck of a man, too depressed and dysphoric to care what his people make of him. If he’d had his way, that would have been the end of it.
His sister Mara, the village witch, made sure he didn’t.
Two and a half years later, Esher owns two dogs, a blade, a career and a new body—the shape of masculinity he always felt he should be. A miracle Mara refuses to explain. A miracle the Sojourner’s priests reject and fear. A miracle, say the Grey Mages, that cannot exist without something precious sacrificed in exchange: a soul.
Returning home in search of his sister and the truth isn’t just a matter of enduring stares, whispers, explanations and the condescending pity from those he left behind.
Love holds edges sharper than Esher’s sword, for nobody wins but demons in the sale of souls.
Content Advisory: Please expect depictions of or references to terminal illness, depression, body horror, suicidal ideation, dysphoria, cissexism, heterosexism, allosexism and amatonormativity. Trans readers should note that Esher has undergone what seems a near-perfect medical (magical) transition, which may be difficult to read on a high-dysphoria day. I also have two characters who have engaged or will engage in actions I can only term as a voiding of Esher’s right to informed consent with regards his magical transitioning and soul ownership. For more detailed information, please see the digital book editions.
A pansexual aromantic endures their alloromantic partners’ expectations of casual sexual relationships evolving into romance–until they find another aromantic.
Content Advisory: Depiction of amatonormativity and expectation of romance in sexual relationships. Please note that this story contains the use of a misogynistic, sex-negative slur more often targeted at allo-aro and multisexual folks.
When Rowan Ross is pressured into placing an aromantic pride mug on his desk, he doesn’t know how to react when his co-workers don’t notice it. Don’t they realise he spent a weekend rehearsing answers for questions unasked? Then again, if nobody knows what aromanticism is, can’t he display a growing collection of pride merch without a repeat of his coming out as trans? Be visible with impunity through their ignorance?
He can endure their thinking him a fan of archery, comic-book superheroes and glittery vampire movies. It’s not like anyone in the office is an archer. (Are they?) But when a patch on his bag results in a massive misconception, correcting it means doing the one thing he most fears: making a scene.
After all, his name isn’t Aro.
Content Advisory: This story hinges on the way most cishet alloromantic people know nothing about aromanticism and the ways trans-accepting cis people fail to best communicate their acceptance. In other words, expect a series of queer, trans and aro microaggressions. There are no depictions or mentions of sexual attraction beyond the words “allosexual” and “bisexual”, but there are non-detailed references to Rowan’s previous experiences with romance.
December isn’t the best time of year for a trans aromantic like Rowan Ross, although—unlike his relatives—his co-workers probably won’t give him gift cards to women’s clothing shops. How does he explain to cis people that while golf balls don’t trigger his dysphoria, he wants to be seen as more than a masculine stereotype? Nonetheless, he thinks he has this teeth-gritted endurance thing figured out: cissexism means he needn’t fear his relatives asking him about dating, and he has the perfect idea for Melanie in the office gift exchange. He can survive gifts and kin, right? Isn’t playing along with expectation better than enduring unexpected consequences?
Rowan, however, isn’t the only aromantic in the office planning to surprise a co-worker. To survive the onslaught of ribbon and cellophane, Rowan’s going to have to get comfortable with embracing the unknown.
Content Advisory: This story focuses on some of the ways Western gift-giving culture enables cissexism and a rigid gender binary, taking place in the context of commercialised, secular-but-with-very-Christian-underpinnings Christmas. There are no depictions or mentions of sexual attraction beyond the words “allosexual” and “bisexual” and a passing reference to allo-aro antagonism, but there are non-detailed references to Rowan’s previous experiences with and attitudes towards romance and romantic attraction as a frayromantic. Please also expect depictions of physical intimacy along with casual references to amatonormativity and other shapes of cissexism.
A world where sexual attraction sans alloromantic attraction takes on fangs and teeth–and a pansexual’s aro liberation means accepting monstrosity.
Content Advisory: Depictions of amatonormativity and allo-aro antagonism, along with romance and love mentions, attempted kissing/kissing mentions, physical intimacy and casual sexual attraction mentions.
This story uses the expectation of romantic attraction as a metaphor for what is seen to make one human to reflect and explore amatonormativity and the way allosexual aromanticism is feared as predatory. Please expect a piece that leans into this construct of allo-aro-as-monster and does not consider how this metaphor may apply to non-allosexual aros.
If Kit can’t find anything unfair about the contract or the man, why is the ring so heavy?
Kit March is a signature away from marrying the man who loves him. He should be delighted, but for reasons he doesn’t understand and can’t explain, his future with Lauri weighs upon him. What is a magician to do when no script extant has words for the confusion he feels?
Content Advisory: This piece depicts the experience of a non-partnering, allosexual aromantic man who possesses little understanding of his identity and makes questionable decisions in navigating his feelings and society’s amatonormativity. Please expect casual/non-explicit sex and sexual attraction references, along with kissing mentions.
Four months ago, Kit March abandoned his fiancé without even a note of explanation for a deserving man.
Leaving Lauri should have freed him from the pressures of romantic expectation, so how does a talented magician end up performing flash magic for buttons and hairpins in Raugue’s worst tavern? Kit doesn’t know and doesn’t care, as long as he can keep drowning guilt in beer and spellworking. As long as he can keep not thinking!
When a stranger offers the word “aromantic” followed by an opportunity to join a dangerous quest to the Gast, Kit may have more distraction than he can survive—and more comprehension than he can navigate.
Content Advisory: Please expect depictions of or references to amatonormativity, allosexism, cissexism, heterosexism, depression, autistic-targeted ableism, alcohol and alcohol used as a coping mechanism for depression. There’s also several non-explicit sex references, Kit’s use of sex as another coping mechanism, some casual references to and depictions of violence, and a heaping mountain of guilt.