Love Forged on the Hellmouth
by The Bear
Willow and Buffy is a large and active ship on the net. It is not (yet) a ship in canon, but the relationship that does exist between these two characters has been extremely close since the very first episode. There were two occasions where Buffy actually verbalized her love for Willow: once in the third season, after Willow told Buffy she was staying in Sunnydale for college- Buffy said, “I kinda love you.” and again in the fourth season when Oz dumped Willow, and Buffy was consoling her in their dorm room- Buffy said, “I love you.”
Willow only specifically verbalized her love for Buffy once, in the fifth season, when she told Buffy, “I love you so much!” when consoling Buffy after the death of her mother.
There are far too many other instances where there are instances of closeness between these two characters, and most of them have spawned fanfiction where these two get together. In fact, it isn’t overstatement to say that one could watch most any episode and find something that could be used as a starting point between these two.
Focusing on some of the characterization points that can be used in writing these two together, one of the biggies is Willow’s obvious hero worship of Buffy. It isn’t just that Buffy is the Slayer and has saved Willow’s life on many, many occasions. Willow also sees Buffy as a hero for her friendship. When the two characters met in the first episode, Willow was a social outcast. Buffy had been befriended by Cordelia Chase, the most popular girl in school, who apparently had a specific dislike for Willow Rosenberg. Buffy first saw Willow at a drinking fountain, where Cordelia took the opportunity to verbally flay the redhead. Nevertheless, Buffy sought Willow out; putting the slayer at odds with Cordelia. Buffy claimed it was for homework assistance, but she could have gone to others for that help, and moreover she could have explained herself to Cordelia when confronted, yet she didn’t. In essence when Cordelia pushed the issue, Buffy chose Willow. The point of that long-winded explanation is: that was a watershed event in Willow’s life. She only had two friends at that point, who were also social outcasts. For anyone, especially the beautiful new girl who was being courted by the popular crowd, to choose Willow at all, let alone over Cordelia Chase, was an amazing experience. That was merely the beginning. Again and again, Buffy chooses Willow in many different ways.
So establishing Willow’s love for Buffy is an easy task for the writer. The other question that should be asked then is, ‘Why does Buffy want Willow?’ First of all, they are best friends. A romantic relationship between best friends is not uncommon. They have a closeness and interpersonal knowledge already, negating the need for the ‘getting to know you’ part of the relationship. They already know that their relationship can withstand stresses beyond the normal relationship pressures that teenagers face. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and have a confidence that they both are there for one another and can trust each other implicitly. Buffy could fall in love with Willow for many reasons. Their friendship; Willow’s loyalty to Buffy; Willow’s diamond-in-the-rough beauty (get her out of her geekwear and into some sexy clothes, and Willow looks hot); Willow’s sweet, adorable, personality- an engaging combination of innocence and strength (witness the times Willow takes charge and whips the others into shape whenever Buffy is in trouble or unavailable); etc…
Since there is so much that seems to show that these two should be together, one should ask why they aren’t together in canon. The overwhelming reason is the fact that they are both women.
Within canon, we know that Willow eventually enters into a homosexual relationship during the fourth season. Her tendency toward liking women is foreshadowed in the third season when her doppelganger from an alternate dimension is clearly at ease with female intimacy. Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine that Willow could have fallen in love at any point during their relationship.
More difficult to reconcile is Buffy’s apparent unremitting desire for the male of the species (either vampire or human). Most fictions that show a relationship between Buffy and Willow peg the Slayer as being bisexual, and it is just coincidental that her only relationships have been hetero. Another route some have gone is that Buffy was ‘awakened’ to the joys of fem-love by her sister in arms, Faith- who’s sexuality could best be described as unrelentingly hedonistic; sort of a 'cum one, cum all'; just do it and get gone, style of sex. Another route to go is to have Buffy become disillusioned with the male of the species following one of her many failed relationships with men. In this, the writer need not stick to the basics of Angel/Parker/Riley/Spike- though these are the only ones we know that she’s been intimate with. There was Owen, Scott Hope, Ford, and even the jerk from the swim team that tried to put the moves on her in the school parking lot, and the college frat guy/Makita worshiper that tried to feed her to his snake-demon thing. Buffy’s record with men has been bad, across the board.
The only other hurdle to jump is that both Willow and Buffy have spent a great deal of time involved with significant others (SO). There are points where they are unencumbered- first season, beginning of third season, middle of fourth season, end of sixth season- and many fictions have been written starting from those points. It can be fun, however to start them during other relationships, either in a cheating-on-their-SO, or in a break-it-off-for-some-reason way. In the latter can be found numerous opportunities for the SO to realize Buffy or Willow is in love with the other and therefore the SO breaks up with them; or you can find the opportunity for Buffy or Willow to realize their SO is a shmuck, and break it off themselves in order to go after the other. This can be especially fun if you are not a fan of one of the SOs.
In the end we must acknowledge that Buffy wants Willow. She may be the last to see it, but she does. And, since Willow clearly wants Buffy- though she may not admit it to even herself- it’s a match made not in heaven, but forged in the fires of the Hellmouth.