The Witch and the Bitch- why else would they hate each other so much?
by The Bear
When little boys like little girls, they often do cruel things to them- pull their hair, hit them on the arm, call them names, etc. They do this because they have no idea how to deal with the strange feelings generated by those little girls. They are confused and therefore lash out at the progenitor of their confusion.
Cordelia Chase treats everyone badly, that's her nature. Why then would she focus so much invective on two relatively unimportant (within the school popularity hierarchy) people? We've seen within canon how her attacks on Xander Harris belied a hidden desire for him. They were her shield against a desire that her social circle would never accept.
How much more then must she desire Willow Rosenberg? Her invective is
even sharper than that which is applied to Xander, she seeks the girl out, yet mocks her when she finds her. She is torn between a heated desire for the girl, and the fear of the reactions of her hangers-on, and her society in general- not only due to Willow's low social status, but because she is a girl. Cordelia's world doesn't allow for her to be gay or bi. This translates into a constant state of frustrated arousal whenever she is around the redhead; resulting in her knee-jerk defensive mechanism of cruel taunts and jeers. If she attacks Willow, she doesn't have to face her desire for Willow.
What then does the Queen of Sunnydale High School see in the shy hacker?
First of all, Willow is beautiful. Moreover- she is beautiful without effort- despite, in fact, rather than due to her tonsorial acuity. Her beauty shines through even when she is wearing shapeless jumpers, baggy overalls, and hideous red sneakers. Willow stated once that her mother picked out her outfit- another clear indication that Shelia Rosenberg resents Willow deeply. Willow also wears little or no makeup, yet one look into those guileless hazel eyes and anyone with an attention span larger than a gnat is captivated.
Beyond her physical beauty is her inner beauty. See how Willow iswilling to help Cordelia with her homework despite the fact that theyare enemies. Notice that it is Willow that Cordelia goes to for this assistance when any brainy geek in school would slaver at the opportunity to spend time helping her. Willow's willingness to help others despite her personal feelings, her selflessness even at the expense of her own pain (such as encouraging Xander to take another girl to the dance by himself when he had promised to take her along as part of a group date) radiates out from her like a warm
glow. No doubt Cordelia longs to have someone like that invest themselves in her- rather than her plastic companions who would stick a knife in her heart if they thought for a moment they would successfully profit from it.
There is also Willow's intelligence. This shouldn't be overlooked. Cordelia might act like an airhead, but it is clear that it is at least partially an act. Her razor sharp wit, her keen insight into others motivations and her ability to see the root cause for behaviors belies her dumb-cheerleader persona. Cordelia might not apply her intelligence to the same goals that Willow values, but its existence is undeniable. Cordelia values Willow's intelligence for its contrast to the legitimate airheads she normally associates with. It must be horribly frustrating to spend time with clueless wonders like Harmony Kendal without wanting to gouge out their eyes. Even their cruelty is a pathetic shadow compared to Cordelia's. Harmony's (and Harmony is an adequate representative of all of Cordelia's 'sheep') insults are crude and blunt- using obvious and simple attacks to hurt others so that she might
elevate herself above them. Then contrast that with Cordelia's near surgical precision in insulting others. She can identify the smallest weakness and put it under the microscope, expanding it for all to see clearly. One cannot help but admire (even as one is horrified by) Cordelia's intelligence and wit when it comes to the power of the insult.
Beauty and warmth are only two of Willow's charms. Cordelia would no
doubt be impressed with Willow's strength and bravery as well. Not only
does Willow stand up against vampires and demons, but against Cordelia
as well. Willow defends Buffy when Cordelia and her sheep are denigrating her during computer lab. And when Cordelia lays out the verbal smackdown; Willow- rather than retreating into a shell- counters with a clever and spontaneous assault, misguiding Cordelia into erasing several hours of painstaking work. Willow turns her ignorance of computers against her, laying a trap that the cheerleader stumbles right into, while the redhead strides away, head held high and not even bothering to look back to see Cordelia floundering, helpless. It is a masterful stroke that even Cordelia could- grudgingly- appreciate.
What could Willow possibly see in Cordelia? There are the obvious reasons, such as beauty and popularity.
It's hard to come up with a finer example of female physical beauty than
Cordelia Chase. Tall; curvaceous; long, thick hair spilling down her back; a smile that can be devastatingly beautiful or frighteningly wicked; smooth, even, tanned skin; Cordelia is style and elegance. We know from later canon that Willow is not averse to taking a woman as a lover. She might not have fully realized it during high school, but the desire was no-doubt there.
Cordelia is clearly the most popular girl in school. For someone like
Willow, that bemoans her own lack of social status or grace; that popularity would be quite attractive. Witness her stunned amazement and joy when Buffy merely sits next to her and speaks to her in a friendly manner. If Cordelia were to turn her attention to our shy little hacker in interest, rather than invective, Willow would no doubt blossom like a rose.
The real reason Willow wants Cordelia is for her strength. Despite her cruelty to the redhead, Cordelia represents an ideal, a strong, powerful, self-confident woman who doesn't take anyone's crap. Willow would desperately like to be able be like that, to be so self-assured and secure in her own life.
Their differences are what draw them together. The discovery that they
are similar under the skin, and their ability to facilitate in each other their desires- both for changes in themselves, and fulfillment of needs by the other- is what will keep them together.
Obstacles they will have to overcome include their own reticence at the
idea of a homosexual relationship; their fear of reactions from friends
and family; and, of course, their present adversarial relationship. Don't overlook the standard teen angst- it should be heightened, rather than diminished in a relationship where they are not only crossing societal and inter-personal social boundaries, but are also facing the normal, 'does she like me?' 'does she really want me?' questions.
One of the areas that would require the most creativity to attain a believable situation would be the initial breaking of the ice to reveal that one desires the other. The old, overhearing someone else's discussion/finding someone else's note/diary/journal tricks will work well, but it would be interesting to see something unconventional.
Finally, while not necessarily the strongest argument, it is hard toignore the fact that a naked Cordelia, intertwined with an equally naked Willow presents an astoundingly arousing image. (for my tastes, add a leather paddle and some wrist and ankle cuffs, and you will have achieved erotic perfection.)