"I'm a yammerer from way back": The Inherent Zen Rightness of Fred/Willow
From the moment I heard that Fred might show signs of a girl-crush on
Willow, I did a dance of joy. In fact, I did a dance of joy, wrote
"Kitchen" and declared Fred/Willow to be the One True Pairing for both
women. A few weeks later, in the wake of 'Orpheus' and the actual
Fred/Willow moments...I remain giddy. I remain overjoyed. And
Fred/Willow is still the One True Pairing for both women.
Why, you ask? And how is this going to help me in writing and
There are a couple of things that I think are important about my
giddiness and you writing this pairing. First, there's the question of a pairing
for both Fred and Willow that doesn't require high angst, high soap opera
hand-wringing. Most of us remember Willow/Oz and early Willow/Tara with
a great deal of fondness because both pairings were unforced, comfortable,
and moved at a pace that didn't overwhelm us. One got the sense that
Willow and Oz *liked* each other, enjoyed having "computer nerd solidarity"
and companionable silences, while at the same time having a certain sexual
zing as well. The same goes for Willow and Tara. Tara and Willow were
probably doing spells and talking about the difficulties of being young college
students before they were, y'know, *doing spells* in the sexually loaded sense.
Fred, on the other hand, has been involved in a high-tension, emotionally
fraught romantic triangle. Worse yet, Fred is suffering from the
post-trauma of having lived in an alternate dimension as a slave for five
years and is barely sane when both Gunn and Wesley (who have a certain
homosocial/homoerotic subtext of their own) decide to compete for her
affections. Add in the fact that Fred is very young...Amy Acker has stated
in interviews that Fred skipped a few grades, and from the behavior and
attitudes of the character, she can't be much more than 27 at this
point...and as a child genius prodigy, probably didn't have much social
grace...and poor Fred has the distinction of being way unready for
relationships with either Gunn or Wes, and as one might expect from someone
who's not ready, Fred plays them both very badly.
With the death of Tara, the speed of the Kennedy liaison, and the
spectacular end of the Wes/Fred/Gunn/Lilah quadrangle (with Fred
discovering that she very much DOES NOT LIKE sexual competition...note
her behavior toward Lilah in 'Calvary' and Gwen in 'Long Day's Journey'),
both women are in need of less fireworks and more friendship.
And I think Willow and Fred have it in them to become very good
friends, and thereupon very good lovers.
One notes they have an immediate sense of connection, both being
high-strung, talkative women who are extremely bright, interested in
science, and thanks to circumstances, interested in magic. Both treat
magic as a tool, something that they "hack" with...an attitude far different
than that of Giles, Tara, and Wesley, who are more traditional users of
magic. Occasionally, that attitude has caused both trouble, Fred with her
portals and Willow with her "addiction." At the same time, their brains and
good sense has seen them through when they've made mistakes.
Furthermore, both are total academic geeks. As someone who's seen her
fair share of academic romances, it's true that research methodology is
sexy. It's very sexy to be able to talk Derrida with someone who's not like,
"Derri-who?" and laughs at your obscure Cornel West raps jokes. As the
"research methodology" comment shows, Fred and Willow are passionate
about knowledge and that also connects them as characters.
So...yeah. Lots of things in common on the intellectual side. But what
about their personalities? Both Willow and Fred meet with a certain
distaste from parts of the fannish community for sweet demeanors hiding
manipulators. I admit I am sometimes part of that fannish community.
And this is something that one can use for writing tension into a fic. What
happens when two women whose tactics for getting what they want is
somewhat passive-aggressive? How will this affect their romance? It's definitely
an interesting question.
On the other side of that, Fred and Willow are also much less prone to
the deep, dark brooding trap that other characters and couples fall into.
Fred and Willow try to be cheerful, and they're reliable. They do their best
to help the group and give love and support to others as it's needed. Fred
and Willow are both fantastic under pressure (think the season six opener
for Willow and the season four opener for Fred), and they know how to get
the job done. Heck, Fred was the one who realized Willow could bring Angel
back. These are two formidable women, and together they could probably
leave the Cordelias and Lilahs and Buffys of the world in the dust when
it comes to what has to be done. So I think that Willow and Fred will be
wonderful in supporting each other and the mission, and they'll understand
the tension that results from having to be together girl all the time. (See
Dopplegangland and Ground State for examples of how Willow and Fred's
stress-out styles are similar).
So you've got two similar people whose personalities are similar in
complimentary rather than clashing ways. I think they are different in
important ways. Willow is calmer and more mature than Fred; she's been
through a lot more romance-wise, and has had the self-examining experience
of both coming out and coming to terms with her attempt to destroy the
world. In a lot of ways, Willow now has the self-confidence and reserve
that made Oz an ideal first boyfriend for her, and will make her a great
first girlfriend for Fred.
Meanwhile, I think that Fred is a little more mischievous than Willow.
Willow would have NEVER smoked pot in high school. Ever ever ever.
While I think in a lot of ways, Fred is less mature than Willow, Fred is also
more practical and more canny about surviving. We all tend to forget that
Fred survived Pylea for five years and came out of it more or less herself.
Fred may need Willow's calmness in getting past the experience of having a
girlfriend rather than a boyfriend, but Fred will definitely be able to
give Willow perspective and understanding in ways Willow can't when
Willow's darkness gets the best of her. Willow projects bubbliness and
cheer, but Fred really is still that way.
And that's all I have to say about that. Fred and Willow show the signs
of being great friends, and best friends make the best lovers.
Another reason I love Fred/Willow: no more drama! They're adorable, yo.
I know this is a shallow reason, but you think of them, and you just
don't think "doomed tragic love affair where one of them is going to kill the
other" (yes, I am the original and still the craziest of the Wes/Lilah
shippers, thank you very much). If they break up, they'll break up.
It'll upset both, but again...not so likely to end with "close your eyes" or
attempted rape in the bathroom or with one of them becoming ultimate evil
or with the axe to the head. So one can write lighter, less endlessly
dreary fic and not feel like you're counteracting canon. These are
characters who allow you to fluff. Take advantage. Write a love affair
that isn't tragic or destined.
Cuter than cute itself, I'm telling you. And with so much onscreen chemistry.
There are certainly more reasons and whys and wherefores to Fred/Willow.
However, I will save them for another essayists, and just say that this
pairing makes me happy, I hope it makes you happy, and leads you to
good fic. :)