Rose and Peony headcanons
Thoughts: SWSH’s writing for the games is lacking in several places, Rose as a character included. That said, for all of his mistakes and awful decisions, the games do imply that Rose did mean well, did try to help others. That interpretation is the one I’m going with here.
My headcanons are meant to offer a potential explanation for why he acts the way he does in canon and how it affected his relationship with Peony without excusing his actions. This also gives the opportunity to create a potential backstory as to why Peony acts the way he does and a backstory of how their bond might have soured. Both have fault in this interpretation.
Which has created this long post, biggest part hidden under cut.
On a different note. I’ve changed the amount of time until the current energy in Galar depletes and has bad consequences from 1,000 years to between 60 and 100 years. This is both for the sake of this headcanon and my suspension of disbelief.
- Normal childhood for him and Peony until they entered secondary school education. Peony used to adore his older brother and would follow him everywhere. Since they were close in age, they were each other’s biggest playmates and shared a love for steel-type pokemon early on.
- Peony caught a cufant together with Rose.
- The brothers are more alike than they’d like to admit. They’re anxious (much more obvious with Peony), like to keep themselves busy, and are stubborn in their plans to the point of steamrolling others at their worst (much more obvious with Rose). They also don’t talk about their feelings.
- People praised Rose as a genius since he was young.
- Rose was always best of his classes. His teachers praised his marks; his peers admired him. It put pressure on Rose to excel and worsened his anxiety. It put pressure on Peony who is a kinetic learner and didn’t do well in a standardized class setting. People at school already compared them.
- Rose reacted to the pressure of being seen as a genius by working even harder in his academics, following suggestions on what were good classes, AND developing the mindset that he always knows better because he’s so smart. First towards Peony, then to others. It also started his issues with trying to control every situation, and avoiding blame in things he did, all attitudes he copied from some of his teachers who shouldn’t have been teaching children. (He has to be smart. He has to excel. He can’t be upset. He can’t disappoint anybody.)
- At 13 years old, Rose skipped a class ahead in secondary school education because of his excellent marks. He started the Galar equivalent of GCSE, and at 15 years his A-levels. He soon was an anxious, overachieving wreck with barely any free time just to be ‘Rose’. Most adults assured him he was doing well, that he could do it, since they failed to see how he struggled. He hid his anxieties from his family, not wanting to upset them for being imperfect.
- He took the chance to enter the gym challenge after he finished his A-levels, and before he started university for a new experience (and to get away from his responsibilities). He excelled, eventually winning second place that season.
- Peony reacted to the pressure by putting less and less effort into schoolwork once he entered secondary, by skipping school with other students, and by helping other people outside of his family to get validation. Partly because he was disillusioned with himself since he experienced more and more trouble to understand the material, partly because of spite. His best classes were in P.E. and those that personally interested him. He picked up many hobbies, keeping busy to distract himself and to feel success in something.
- Their parents worried for Peony and they tried to support him. Rather than questioning what burdened him, though, they tried to get him to take tutoring and interested in topics they deemed important. They also pointed metaphorically at Rose, thinking it would motivate Peony to do better or give him an idea how to improve, and become more like his brother.
- Neither sibling saw each other much anymore.
- It was a disaster waiting to happen. Both boys were in the middle of puberty, their feelings boiling over, miserable, and failed by the adults around them. Both felt rejected by the other.
- Peony felt jealous and envious of the attention and help his brother received, both from his family and their immediate surroundings. It enraged him that everybody always believed the best of him while doubting Peony, yet he was always compared to him. Slowly, he came to blame Rose as the sole source of all of his misery as a misguided coping mechanism. (Not helped by Rose’s attitude.) Since his brother was the only person he could really affect. He was also jealous that Rose apparently didn’t want to spend time with him anymore, when the truth was that Rose was swimming in tasks and had no idea either that he was drowning in them.
- Rose both believed Peony wasn’t trying hard enough and that one day, he would get into so deep trouble that even Rose couldn’t help him. He missed him, since Peony refused to spend time with him in his rare free periods. He had a difficult time understanding or phrasing that feeling, so he offered to do things like tutor him or do his homework. His intentions were genuine. He wanted to ease the pressure from their parents. Unfortunately, his arrogance came in the way. He derived validation from being ‘better than’ him, and only wanted to help him in his own way, so he patronized Peony.
- Tensions within the family boiled over when Peony entered his last year of GCSE. He ran away after a massive argument, living on and off with a friend’s family on a farm and helping with work when not traveling around Galar. Eventually he found a mentor in a gym leader who apprenticed him.
- Meanwhile, Rose started working in the mines. He had a scholarship for university, but he needed the money. He felt responsible for Peony running away and wanted to support his parents. He planned to create his own energy company, which he was making connections for both in the League and in business to get support and money. (It had the unfortunate side-effect that he copied his mentors, among which was a self-aggrandizing entrepreneur.) Prof. Magnolia’s research into dynamaxing seemed especially promising.
- Peony became the steel-type gym leader when he’s in his early 20ies and had a rival for the Champion title in Kabu. He became Champion soon after and stayed so for a short period. Around the same timeframe he met his future wife and some years later they had Nia.
- After university, Rose started his company, hiring Oleana who was still a scientist at that point for her work on the Dynamaxing band. Some time later presumably, he becomes the League’s chairman, prompting Peony to vanish from the League entirely and potentially move away from Galar. Rose endorsed Leon, who soon after became Champion.
- Recent research into using the wishing stars revealed that their energy would only last for a few more decades. It caused the worst and longest anxiety attack Rose had suffered since he’d been a teenager. Most of Galar’s energy supply relied on the wishing stars and other minor resources that would deplete relatively soon, too. A system he had introduced.
- Both selfish and selfless motivations reared their head. His ego balked at the idea of being seen in a negative light and overhauling his creation because that would mean he failed. His compassion demanded that he instantly fixed things for everybody. This eventually led to his Eternatus plan, fixated on doing things his way and keeping the old energy system.
=> Being treated as a genius from childhood on warped Rose’s perception on what is healthy for children. He projects himself onto Leon. He nurtured his talents AND demanded more of him - to take on responsibilities, tasks, lessons, activities, etc. - than he should have for Leon’s benefit, without realizing how much it damaged him. He also pushed activities on him that were of more interest to him than to Leon.
=> Rose is terrified of being seen in a negative light in any form. He avoids thinking about that by constantly working and projects a serene attitude, never to be seen upset or else it upsets others because they want him to be perfect.
=> Peony suffers from his parents (unintentional) and other people’s favoring Rose over him even years later, not to mention the feeling that he was never seen as good enough as himself. He wants to dote on Nia all the time, while pushing only activities he cares about. He projects onto her, namely wanting attention, while not realizing that he’s acting overbearing.
=> Peony is terrified of reflecting on his issues, especially on feeling unwanted. He externalizes his fears in ‘useful’ hobbies and physical fitness, avoiding to think about what burdens him.
=> They both should go to therapy for depression, anxiety, trauma, and other issues. They don’t until after the events of SWSH.
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