A Magical Pair: Willow and Tara
by The Bear
This relationship is one that actually occurred in canon. Therefore, there is an existing history that one can draw upon. However, one of the beautiful aspects of fan fiction is the ability to ‘fix mistakes’ made in canon. Mistakes being subjective, of course. If you don’t like the way ME (Mutant Enemy) handled a certain aspect of their relationship (or all aspects) this is the opportunity to tell the story the way you would like to have seen it.
Within canon, Willow met Tara during their first year of college, not long after Willow had been cruelly abandoned by her cheating bastard of a boyfriend- the werewolf Oz (***Please note that these opinions are solely those of The Bear! and are no way connected to the feelings of the webmistress, Kaz! So if you disagree, email HIM, not me***). They first noticed each other at a meeting of an on-campus Wicca group. Willow was looking for someone to practice spells with, but found the group to be full of New-Age wannabe’s, not practicing witches. Tara was a practicing witch, but was so shy that she wasn’t able to overcome her reticence and support Willow when she talked about spells to the group. Their first actual face to face meeting was when the Gentlemen had come to town and stolen everyone’s voices. Tara sought Willow out with the thought of casting a spell to restore people’s voices. Unfortunately, on the way, she ended up being pursued by the Gentlemen and their minions. Willow became involved in the attempt to escape and the two cast their first spell together, combining power to move a vending machine, blocking a door and keeping the Gentlemen at bay.
Later, once Buffy defeated the Gentlemen and released the townspeople’s voices, the two spoke for the first time and started a friendship that gradually grew into a loving relationship. Though it isn’t made explicit within canon, it is commonly accepted that the two didn’t actually embark on a physical relationship until a certain watershed event in Willow’s life. Oz returned from his journey of self discovery, during which he had managed to put some controls on his inner wolf. Willow ended up choosing Tara over dogboy, but not before putting Tara through an emotional wringer, during which the shy blond also suffered the indignity of being assaulted and almost eaten by a wolfy Oz. In the end, though, Oz left, and Willow went to Tara- who expected a heartbreaking brush-off, but instead received Willow’s promise of “I’m gonna make it up to you, starting right now.”
A writer would not be restricted to using the canon version of events, however. Some nice work has been done wherein the two women hooked up either earlier, or later than the above described events.
Some areas that the show has never fully explored, which offer the writer many opportunities for stories include the similarities between early Willow- high school nerd, shy, quiet, etc. and college freshman Tara, who is also quite shy and reserved. This area has great potential for exploring how Willow can help Tara come out of her shell and blossom. The canon storyline alludes to this fact, but never treats it in-depth. Another opportunity lies in the contrasts between the characters- Willow grew up in a home with neglectful parents, and limited social status, but she did have a strong best friend in Xander Harris. Also, her high-school live improved markedly in her sophomore year when Buffy Summers came to town. Her horizons expanded, and she gained a social structure with strong support. This is especially relevant when considering her development as a witch. Though there were bumps in the road, her friends welcomed and supported her exploration of the magical arts. Contrast this with Tara’s background- loving mother, but stuck with abusive male family members- both mental and physical abuse were heaped on her, including being convince by her father that she was part demon, and therefore evil. (and therefore, one might suppose, deserving of the abuse she received- total mind-screw)
Mommy died when she was in high school, and we are given the impression that she had no other support structure beyond mom. No friends, and no loving relatives. Her practice of magic was shunned by her family, except for mommy again. This past could make Tara very needy and vulnerable, or could have resulted in her developing thick walls around her psyche. Canon alludes to the former, but doesn’t treat the issue in depth. In fact, the canon story line doesn’t take the character of Tara very far- she’s often just a base upon which Willow’s character is explored. This offers the fanfiction writer many opportunities for developing Tara as they wish. The only thing the canon storylines demonstrate explicitly is that Tara is very self-conscious, and has a poor self image. Fanfictions that demonstrate Tara moving away from these personality traits are popular, though they almost always credit Willow with any improvements. An author looking for a challenge might find a different way.
One of the beauties of writing this ship is that the author need not- if they wish- spent time justifying their ship, and may rather jump right in to an exploration of their relationship at any stage of its development, or even it’s collapse (referencing season 6). One can pick a starting point from canon and diverge wildly, or one can ignore canon altogether. One could also stick to canon, but explore the thoughts, feelings, and rational for events that occurred. In any case, the writer should not in any way feel limited with this ship, just because it is a canon ship. Rather, the writer should look at it’s canonical roots and allow their creativity to take the ship on ingenious paths to inspired and imaginative places never conceived of by ME!