Funnier in Latin

The Inherent Zen Rightness of Fred/Willow
by Jennifer-Oksana


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 understanding Willow/Fred?

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. :)