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Willow Rosenberg/Tara Maclay (Buffyverse)

Title: Spellbound
Author: calliopes_pen
E-Mail: julia_hoffman2003@yahoo.com
Fandom: Buffyverse
Pairing: Willow Rosenberg/Tara Maclay
Spoilers: Season 3 through Season 6 of Buffy.
Notes: The banner after the introduction was made for me by killmebecomeme. The icon of Tara blowing out a candle (which can be found in one of the quotes), was made by pukkie. The image at the very end of the essay was made by me, using a screen cap. Many thanks go out to tinkermellie and seandc for beta reading.

I’m under your spell
How else could it be
Anyone would notice me?
It's magic, I can tell
How you set me free
Brought me out so easily...

--excerpt from Under Your Spell, sung by Tara in Once More, With Feeling.


Introduction

From their first meeting, these two obviously had a lot in common. Over the next few years, we would share their journey through tragedy and heartbreak, and joy and the promise of reconciliation. Their love was obvious, as well as their devotion. Many believe they had the strongest and healthiest relationship in the Buffyverse.

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Willow Rosenberg: Occasionally Callous And Strange

Sweet, quirky, lovable Willow . She grew so much over the course of the series—in large part thanks to Tara. When Willow first appeared on Buffy, she was timid and insecure—due in large part to her nerd status, and its view of being the lowest rung on the ladder of high school. Other the course of seasons 1-3, you see her grow, begin to experiment with magick, and basically break out of her shell. After her doppelganger from the Wishverse appeared (In Dopplegangland), she managed to shed a good part of her image of "reliable dog-geyser person." It was also in this episode that we see the first hints of what is to come. Willow’s reaction to her double was this immortal line: "I'm evil, and skanky, and I think I'm kinda gay."

In Hush, Willow’s path of following magick led her to her first meeting with Tara. Throughout the rest of season 4, we see them growing closer. Once Oz is completely out of the picture (And Willow has explained that she is happy with Tara.), she and Tara declare their love. In New Moon Rising, they finally tell each other of their feelings in this sweet scene:

Willow: Tara, I have to tell you...
Tara: No, I-I understand. You have to be with the person that you l- love.
Willow: I am.
Tara: You mean...
Willow: I mean. Okay?
Tara: Oh, yes.
Willow: I feel horrible about everything I put you through. And I'm going to make it up to you, starting right now.
Tara: Right now? (She blows out the candle. )---
from New Moon Rising.

Throughout the rest of season 4, their relationship stays relatively steady. It isn’t until season 5’s Family, that there is much, if any turbulence in their lives. Tara’s family wants her to go home, and the audience and Willow learn that the men in her family had Tara convinced that she was really a demon, and evil. Spike puts an end to that once and for all by punching Tara in the nose, which activates his chip. Even before she knew Tara wasn’t a demon, Willow was still willing to stand by Tara if she didn’t want to go with her family. Here is another example of how they felt about each other.

Tara: I am, you know.
Willow: What?
(Tara turns to look at Willow.)
Tara: Yours.
— season 4’s Who Are You

And once Glory came to town? All Hell broke loose for the Scoobies. Both literally, in The Gift, and figuratively, in Tough Love. After what would seem to have been their first argument, Tara went to the town fair to be alone. Glory was waiting for her on a park bench, and took her mind—as Willow saw, and tried to get to her. It was in vain, as Tara was all ready left completely mad. (Insane mad, not grr mad. Watch enough Buffy and you too can start to sound like Willow...)

The episode Tough Love really marks a turning point in Willow’s development. It is the first time she really uses any form of dark magick. This story arc continues in season 6, as Willow dives even deeper into what turns out to be a magick addiction. (Season 6’s magick addiction storyline was the first mention of any kind of addiction to magick being possible. I consider it merely to be a plot device that didn’t turn out well.)

When Tara and Willow are forced to briefly part ways, it is because of that magick addiction. Willow has grown out of control, and needs to fix her problems before they can even hope to be together again. After months of getting herself back to normal, and resisting temptation, they do get together again. Tara goes to Willow, and they say this wonderful speech.

Tara: Things fall apart. They fall apart so hard.
Willow: Tara?
Tara: You can never...put them back the way they were.
Willow: Are you okay?
Tara: I'm sorry. It's just...you know, it takes time. You can't just...have coffee and expect...
Willow: I know.
Tara: There's just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again…on both sides. You have to learn if...if we're even the same people we were, if we can fit in each other's lives. It's a long, and important process, and...can we just skip it? Can--can you just be kissing me now?
--Entropy

It looks like they will be happy again—-they kiss and sleep together (well, not exactly sleeping) one more time. The next morning, they talk, and cuddle and are happy to be together again—at least, until Warren kills Tara. This led to Willow reverting to dark magick again, and going insane with grief. It took Xander to talk her down, but not before she had killed the person who had taken Tara’s life. Thus, causing even more grief herself. This is, unfortunately, the end of her life with Tara.

Tara Maclay: Her Insect Reflection

Tara Maclay. With a first impression of her at a charade of a Wicca meeting, we see her as timid, shy, withdrawn. But she turns out to be stronger in spirit than one would first suspect. Over the course of their relationship she grew into the strong, independent woman many suspected was there, beneath the shyness.

Tara’s life before Willow was rarely touched upon during the three seasons she was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The only episode in which it was really discussed was Family, in season 5. What is known, however, is that she struggled to get away from the men in her family. Presumably abusive towards her, she left the home she grew up in, and fled to Sunnydale. Also that, according to what she said in The Body, her mother died of cancer when Tara was younger. She was convinced that she was a demon. The episode where she learns she isn’t (Family) also includes the only time in the course of the series in which she misused magick. She casts a spell to conceal what she believes is her demon nature—causing everyone to be unable to see a group of demons that attack The Magick Box. Once everything is sorted out—and Tara’s family is sent packing—she is forgiven, and they leave to celebrate her 20th birthday.

Confronting her family gave her self-confidence. It changed her insect reflection into something greater. Tara’s analogy of an Insect Reflection was one that meant "ones insignificance in the karmic cycle." A translation of that is that she believed at the time that she was lesser than others—insignificant. Willow helped her see that she wasn’t, and that she actually mattered.

She was a woman who hated any misuse of magick, and knew much more history regarding it than Willow ever learned. After Joyce died, it was she who pointed out the possibility that Dawn could implement a history book on witchcraft to gather the necessary ingredients for a resurrection spell. As Tara told Willow, it referred to specific spells and potions one would need.

By the middle of season 5, she and Willow were obviously a huge part of each others’ lives. This is why it was such a terrible moment when Glory stole her mind. Her unique self was stolen, along with her mind. Willow took care of her during this terrible time, however. And managed to set in motion a plan to get her mind back in The Gift—and succeeded when she tore Tara’s mind out of Glory.

During season 6, Tara helped Willow bring Buffy back from the dead—presumably against her own better judgment. She was the first to see that Willow was relying too heavily on magick. And when she confronted Willow about it, Willow erased her memory of the argument having ever taken place. For her, this was a violation on a level of Glory taking her mind. And it led to Willow and Tara breaking up in the aftermath of Tabula Rasa.

Tara avoided Willow for the better half of season 6, until Willow was able to get her act together. As was previously mentioned in Willow’s section, however, they do get back together. But the happiness does not last, as Tara’s life is taken through a horrible accident. (Warren meant to only kill Buffy—he didn’t seem to know anyone else was in the Summers’ home.) A single stray bullet went through her heart. And thus, a light was extinguished.

Why I Love This Couple (Or The Enchanting Aspect Of It)

Willow/Tara. This couple seemed perfect together. Probably one of the few female slash pairings that I actually like. (And the first female slash pairing I have ever searched for stories about.) I first got interested in it around the time of New Moon Rising. They were so sweet together.

On Tara's side? She helped bring out the confidence in Willow. In turn, she also became more confident. She was able to stand up to her family, and tell them to never come near her again. She was sort of like the calmness in the middle of a storm. She brought peace and comfort to Willow.

I think she was even described as something like an Earth Mother at one point. When they combined their powers they were stronger. They could cast stronger spells. Of course, not like Xander thought. An example would have to be when The Gentlemen were in Sunnydale—Willow and Tara combined their magick to move a vending machine against the door.

On Willow's side? Her powers grew, and she had someone to turn to when she needed help. During the rare times she didn't want to turn to the other Scoobies, at least. Tara helped keep her calm and grounded during the time when she was distraught after Joyce died. Her love for Tara was most evident in the aftermath of Glory's attack. When Tara was insane, and needed help, Willow took care of her, and made sure she would not want for anything. Then she went after Glory for revenge. (One of the first hints that Willow's magick could really take her off the good path.)

They were always strongest when they were together. After Buffy's death, they stood by each other, and helped each other grieve.

Things started going wrong for them when Willow betrayed Tara's trust, and took away Tara's memories of a fight—almost the same thing Glory had done. What with that, the addiction to magick, and Willow casting the spell that took everyone's memories away, it took a long time for Tara to trust her again.

Unfortunately, the morning they began to reconcile, a single stray bullet took everything away. Despite this, Willow and Tara are and shall remain one of my favorite Buffyverse pairings. They saw each other at their best and at their worst, and their love did not die.

Recommended Reading

Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss Their Favorite Television Show, edited by Glenn Yeffeth. This is a wonderfully written essay book. Throughout this book you can find essays about the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, there are quite a few differing opinions regarding the Willow/Tara relationship, and they are all worth reading. (Specifically pages 41-47, 79, and 103-107 include something about them.)

Websites

General

Willow and Tara Forever. If you are looking for Willow/Tara wallpapers, you can find them here.
Enchanted. You can find a lot about Willow and Tara related episodes here.
Complete Lyrics to Under Your Spell.
Willow and Tara’s Room. This site has plenty of wallpapers, links, and images to keep the Willow/Tara fan busy for a while.
Extra Flamey This is an Italian website devoted to Willow and Tara. Based on what I can tell, it is wonderful. (The side links are in English, so you can still find what you are looking for.)
Vixen. This site is run by ktprincesswitch. This is a great place to find graphics, fan vids, and fanfic. (There are quite a few fan vids listed.)

Fanfic Related

Extra Flamey . A fanfic archive devoted to Willow/Tara.

Tara Incognita, written by Honor H. Tara is dead. Months later another Tara shows up—this one is from the Wishverse, and is nearly completely different. This is one of my favorite Willow/Tara stories. The story can also be found here.

Touch, written by Kelsey. I discovered this while searching for angsty stories. Tara is horribly attacked. This deals with the aftermath. Wonderfully written, and very realistic. Heed the warning at the beginning, and decide if you wish to read it for yourself.

Small Fry . Written by James Walkswithwind and Mad Poetess, this fanfic is wonderfully written, and highly recommended. While it doesn’t focus on Willow/Tara specifically, they do help to take care of a group of their friends who have been turned into little kids. I also recommend reading the sequel, Son of Small Fry. It’s just as great as the first story.

The Devil You Know. Written by evenstar_estel, this story is an epic that is truly worth reading. When Buffy and Spike’s twins are stolen, everyone fights to save them. Along the way, Tara comes back in a different body. Everyone’s reactions to seeing her alive again are a must read. I really don’t want to spoil the rest of the story.

Beloved Wife. Written by moonwhip, this story shows what Willow went through to take care of Tara after Tara’s mind was taken by Glory. Extremely well-written, and very sad.

Pink Linen and White Paper. Written by seraphcelene, this story is about Tara not being completely right. Even after she gets most of her sanity back from Glory. (Key word there is Most.)

Who Ya Gonna Call. Wonderfully written by kirasmommy. This is a wonderful Ghostbusters/Buffy crossover, which can be truly hysterical at times; it is also one of my favorite stories. It's set shortly after The Body, so anything after that hasn't happened yet. Willow and Tara are still together, and Tara is still alive. It can also be found here. And here.

Fanlistings

Beautiful Tragedy. This is a Tara fanlisting.
Magical Love. A Willow/Tara fanfiction fanlisting.
Disenchanted: I Miss Tara. A fanlisting devoted to remembering Tara, and the relationship with Willow.
To You: Devoted To Willow and Tara.

Fan Vids
Vixen.
Buffy Music Video Database.

Willow/Tara Groups

willotaraicons
strongamazon
willowtara
alyson_daily
amber_daily
Tara_Loves_Willow_fic
willtara
Willow_and_Tara_fic
wtmagick
The Kitten, The Witches and the Bad Wardrobe

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Comments

That was a beautiful essay.
You described their relationship perfectly and reminded of why I loved BTVS that much. Admittedly, it did take me a while to get used to W/T but once I realised how good she was for Willow, I loved them together. Tara was everything Willow ever needed or wanted.
Their relationship might have been subtle (which actually made them special) but it was clearly one of the healthiest Buffy relationships.
Though I am no longer a Buffy fan, I really enjoyed this essay. Thanks.
Wonderful essay on one of my favorite Buffyverse couples! I will definitely have to check out your fic recs. Thank you for writing this.
I've always been only a casual fan of BTVS, but the Willow/Tara relationship was one of my favorite things about the show. Thanks for the great essay!
Thanks for an excellent essay -- I'm just beginning to explore the fandom, and this will be a *really* helpful resource.
That was a wonderful and very thorough essay. I was very impressed with it.
The one thing that might have made it better is a link to some Willow/Tara fanvids, because there are some really excellent ones out there. The best way to find numerous W/T vids is to click on the pairings' section at the Buffy Music Video Database.
It is also my girlfriend-ly obligation to pimp my girlfriend's Willow/Tara (mostly vids) website, Vixen!
Good job!
It's also new to me, since I've never watched a fanvid. Good idea, though.
Yay! I had -just- been thinking about this pairing, when lo and behold, this essay is posted. :)
And just think: it wasn't due until May 23rd. Good thing I finished early. :)
Definitely!! :)
Wonderfully done essay. Willow and Tara were meant for each other and you described it well.

You know, when Tara first appeared I thought "Wow! They have chemistry" but doubted the producers would put them together. I had resigned them to a good non-canon pairing that only existed in fanfic. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to find out that the producers did go there...

...and I stopped watching when they broke up.
I wasn't sure if I would like the pairing at first--at least, not until New Moon Rising. After that, I saw they were perfect together. Tara shouldn't have died--season 7 would have been better with her there--hopefully.

The show definitely wasn't as good without them together. And let's just say that Willow's next choice for someone to be with was a terrible one, and I'll leave it at that.

I kept watching the series until the end just to see if it would ever get better. It didn't.
If you mean Willow's relationship with the potential slayer Kennedy(?), I thought she was okay but she just wasn't Tara.

I'd like to know why Tara left though. Was it the writers or was the actress unhappy with where the series was going?
No, I think it was just the fact that Joss Whedon (or another writer, I'm not sure) wanted to have something happen that would push Willow over the edge.

In season 7, Joss wanted her to come back as a form The First Evil would appear as. I've heard two things about why she didn't return for that. Either she was busy making a movie at the time, or she didn't want to have Tara be evil--even if it wasn't really Tara. (In the scene with Willow and The First Evil appearing as Cassie, that was originally going to be Tara. The scene was rewritten for Cassie when Amber Benson couldn't be there.)
Amber Benson told Curves magazine that she was going to agree.. until they explained that she'd be..well.. evil, and she didn't want to do that to the fans because she is just that sweet!

- Princess Witch, webmistress of Vixen!
Thank you. It's good to know that's the reason she didn't return. An evil Tara would never have worked (Even if it was The First Evil.)--and it's good that she realized that, too.
Oh, and if you don't mind, I'll add your site to the list of links. I didn't run across it before.
That's fine
Love your essay ^_^.
I adored the couple W/T, they were so perfect together...
When BTVS ended with Buffy's death at the end of season 5, I was so sad I hoped with all my heart that they would make a sequel. They did, and now I regret it: as much as an ending in which the main character dies sucks, that was nothing compared to the abomination that was season 7.
I actually loved season 6, I think it is the best of the whole series. But its most sad ending, as well as season 7, ruined everything, making me regret even starting watching the series in the first place... Most of my favourite characters (Spike, Tara, Anya, Jhonathan) died, the others (Giles, Dawn, and Xander, who even lost an eye) acted as assholes, and, worst of all, Willow got together with that annoying bitch (the whatshername potential slayer).
How could Willow's standards sink that low!?! Getting from Tara to Whatshername is like getting from diamonds to coal!
It would have been SO much better if they had left the series with only five season.
That was a wonderful essay on one of my favorite pairs in the Jossverse. However, I noticed that an excellent Willow/Tara site was missing. It's called To You (www.liminal-bliss.com/toyou) and it's personally my favorite W/T site. Maybe you should check it out, see if you like it. Anyways, good job!
Thank you.

Oh, and I have that one listed, all ready. It was listed under Fanlistings.

(Anonymous)

Oh, I'm such a ditz! I didn't even look. Sorry!
Oh, I'm such a ditz! I didn't even look. Sorry!
Aw, Willow and Tara. My favorite Buffyverse ship. Good essay.
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