Title: The Littlest Vampire
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
Spoilers: All seasons of both series
Website:Sword and Stake
Thanks to:makd for the wonderful beta (again).
The Littlest Vampire
Coolness. What is ‘cool’? Coolness is one of those qualities that is difficult to define, but easy to recognize.
Take James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, for example. Two Hollywood icons who led tormented lives, died young and had millions of fans. Forty years after their deaths, both are still fascinating their fans and attracting new converts. James Dean was ‘cool’; Marilyn Monroe wasn’t.
Harmony Kendall was never cool. She wanted to be. She tried to be. She could dress like Cordelia, talk like her, be like her—but Harmony could never quite manage to pull it off. Cordelia’s put-downs were biting, sarcastic and witty; Harmony’s only mean-spirited and cruel.
Harmony wanted to be cool. She wanted to be popular. She wanted to be liked. But most of all, she wanted to fit in.
In high school, Harmony ran with the popular crowd, but she was always second best. As an evil vampire, she just. . . sucked. She was nearly killed by her own minions, and her hair-pulling girly-fight with Xander Harris was hardly an epic battle. She could have been a light-weight joke of a character—but she wasn’t. Rejected and alone, her plaintive “Being a vampire sucks!” to Giles in The Harsh Light of Day resonated—she had relative depth.
I barely noticed Harmony Kendall when she was simply one of the Cordettes. My interest in her as a character began with The Harsh Light of Day. As a vampire, Harmony had both pathos and likeability that she hadn’t shown as a human. She had vulnerability. She was no longer an undifferentiated member of the Cordettes; she was an individual character in her own right. She was funny, ditsy, yearning, and she tried. She tried so hard.
Like Spike, Harmony retained much of her humanity as a vampire. Also, like Spike, there wasn’t a great deal of difference between souled and unsouled Harmony. When Harmony killed, she did so for expediency—a sale at April Fools, for example—not because she reveled in the kill.
Harmony was a follower, and many of her actions were informed by whom she chose to follow at any given time, yet she never allowed her personality to be completely subsumed by the other. The three most important leaders in the life of the character of Harmony Kendall were Cordelia, Spike and Angel. Relationships with these three shaped her character more than any others.
Harmony was used to being a member of a powerful clique. She was known. In high school, she was respected by some, and feared by many. The Cordettes had the power to make or break a person’s reputation. They could elevate someone’s status or pronounce them ‘un-cool’ and open them up to snubbing or ridicule. Even Buffy and the Scoobies were affected to some degree, but many of the regular students were especially vulnerable.
For most vampires, as evidenced by statements by Jesse, Holden and even William, aka Spike, becoming a vampire is a powerful experience. It confers strength, status and a feeling of belonging not granted during life. For Harmony, the experience was exactly the opposite. Being sired caused her to lose those things, and in that, Harmony is unique. She was sired during the battle at graduation, and immediately lost status, visibility and her circle of friends.
She had no need to revenge herself on contemporaries for slights and cruelties as did William—no one had ever really slighted Harmony. No one had been blatantly cruel to her. There may have been the occasional subtle put-down, generally delivered by Cordelia, but as most of those went right over her head, they certainly didn’t eat at her soul. She didn’t see becoming a vampire as an escape from geekdom, as did Jesse, Holden and William—she had never been a geek.
Harmony’s siring caused her to lose her friends and her reflection—not only her physical reflection, which would have been traumatic enough, but her psychic reflection, as well. Harmony had known who she was and her place in the world via her reflection in the Cordettes. That was gone, and she had nothing with which to replace it.
Harmony and Spike
Of course, a relationship between Spike and Harmony made perfect sense. Spike had lost his anchor in Drusilla. Harmony had lost the anchor of her clique. She was beautiful, sexy arm-candy, and as different from Dru as it was possible to be. Dru was dark; Harmony was fair. Dru had many hidden depths; Harmony was shallow. Dru’s first loyalty was to ‘Daddy’ and Spike was her willing slave; Harmony had no prior loyalty and probably didn’t even know who had sired her. Spike was older, more powerful and more experienced—he had every reason to assume that he would be the one in control in a relationship with Harmony.
From her perspective, Spike was the Big Bad. He had status and power and would protect her. He was sexy and good-looking and was definitely ‘boyfriend material’. Of the available vamp population in Sunnydale, Spike was undoubtedly the ‘Catch of the Day’.
Being with Spike conferred some of the status she had lost; being with Harmony gave him a sense of power and control. At that particular moment in time, they were perfect for each other.
As Spike’s character developed and changed, so did Harmony’s. Spike was obsessed with killing the Slayer, so that became Harmony’s goal as well. Her need to fit in caused her to take on the values of the dominant group, although her current ‘group’ had only one member—Spike. She began to plot the downfall of the Slayer—not through any particular desire of her own, but as a reflection of Spike’s desires and goals. She began to view herself as Buffy’s arch-nemesis. Harmony was once again able to define herself through the group, which provided a level of psychic comfort that had been missing in her un-life.
As with Cordelia, Spike’s sharp wit and put-downs were tolerated, as Harmony had a tendency to ignore what she didn’t understand. Spike hurt her badly when he staked her, because that was finally blatant enough for her to realize that he didn’t care about her at all as a ‘person’. She cried, she mourned the loss of the relationship. And then she moved on—not to another relationship or obsession, but to self-help books in an attempt to take care of herself—to meet her own needs.
She wasn’t willing to take Spike back on his terms, no questions asked. She had grown and developed and let him know that she was ‘somebody’, she had feelings, and she would no longer tolerate his blatant lack of respect for her. But, eventually, her need to belong overcame her need for self-respect and she did take him back. He said the right things, and although she recognized his insincerity, she was willing to take things at face value because, for her, it was better than being alone.
She recognized that he was emotionally and verbally abusive—that he was ‘mean’ to her, and she called him on it. However, from what we have seen on the screen, Spike was her first ‘real’ boyfriend and she believed she could change him. Harmony believed if she cared for him enough, was nice enough, was pleasant and agreeable enough, he would eventually come to value her. When she finally realized that would never happen—that he had transferred his affections from Drusilla to Buffy, leaving her totally out of the loop—she left and didn’t look back.
Her brief ‘nooner’ with Spike three years later was totally understandable from her perspective. Who hasn’t thought of ‘one more time’ with an ex? She’s lonely, she’s resented for her promotion, she’s in a stressful job with a difficult boss, and suddenly, there’s the ex—sexy, corporeal, giving her compliments and ‘the look’. Of course she caved!
Harmony and Cordelia
Cordelia had always been somewhat of a mentor to Harmony. She was ‘Queen C’, top drawer, and Harmony was her second in command. Harmony took her behavior cues from Cordelia; she looked up to Cordy. Harmony seemed to feel a real sense of betrayal when she discovered Cordy had been dating Xander Harris. Cordy had already declared Xander an un-cool loser, which in Harmony’s view made him forever non-dateworthy. Harmony liked the structure of having rules for behavior, and when Queen C herself broke the rules, Harmony could not adapt. Her only option was to treat Cordelia as a loser, which she did—gleefully.
Behavioral rules are important to Harmony—if you play by the rules, you get rewarded; you fit in. Much of Harmony’s unhappiness as Angel’s assistant at W&H can be traced to this very concept. She played by the rules, she did everything ‘right’, but she didn’t receive the respect and reward that should have engendered. It wasn’t ‘fair’.
Alone and adrift after her second break-up with Spike, Harmony went to LA to seek out Cordelia. She discovered Cordy very changed from the high school Queen C. Cordy had developed a purpose—a mission—in life, which Harmony immediately decided to appropriate for her own. She had earlier appropriated Spike’s ‘kill the Slayer’ goal, but as Spike’s focus shifted from slaying to laying, Harmony also lost interest in killing Buffy. She was in search of a new leader, a new set of rules to follow, and upon discovering Cordelia’s mission to fight evil and help the helpless; Harmony espoused it as her own.
With no real moral compass of her own (souled or unsouled) and a tendency to be swayed by charismatic leaders, it was all too easy for her to switch allegiance from Cordelia to Spike to TeamAngel!Cordelia to Doug. She changed her allegiances as easily as she changed her style. Louis Vuitton was out; Prada was in. Team Angel was out; Doug’s Vampire cult was in.
Doug had spent years honing his skills as a motivational speaker/cult leader and Harmony was enthralled. Again, she showed no real desire for evilness, just to fit in. One can imagine Mrs. Kendall frequently asking “If all the other kids were jumping off a bridge, would you jump, too?” with the sure knowledge that, yes, Harmony would!
Once free from Doug’s vampire cult, Harmony was again adrift. She knew she had blown her chance with A.I., forcing her to develop a goal plan of her own. The same inner resources that had allowed her to get over her first break-up with Spike by turning to self-help again came to the fore.
She was an ‘evil’ vampire, but the solitary vampire existence of hunting and killing was never her style. What’s a girl to do? Get a job to support herself in a lifestyle that is comfortable for her. So where does an ‘evil’ vampire get a job? At an evil law firm, of course! Since W&H had apparently ceased their ‘no vampires on the premises’ rule, they offered a non-judgmental working environment, a chance to make friends, to belong, and an excellent dental plan. Harmony had found her niche.
Just when things were going well for Harmony, the rules changed once again. Wolfram and Hart gave the LA branch to Team Angel.
Harmony and Angel
It is unclear exactly when Harmony went to work for W&H, as time went a little wonky in the Angelverse during the last two seasons. Angel spent three months at the bottom of the ocean. Most of Season 4 seemed to follow a day-by-day format, in which the whole season could have taken less than a month to enfold. The events in Conviction, in which we first see Harmony as a W&H employee, take place 19 days after Home. In Harm’s Way, Tamika states that she has been in the W&H steno pool for five years and Harmony had only been there 5 weeks, prior to her promotion in Conviction. This means that Harmony was probably hired during the post-Beast re-staffing. I don’t know why the “vampire detectors” that went berserk whenever Angel broke into W&H during the first three seasons didn’t notice a regular vampire employee, and I don’t know why Tamika wasn’t massacred by the Beast. No clue is given as to what Harmony was doing between Disharmony and her coming to work for W&H.
Harmony had found her niche in her employment with W&H. She had a good job in the steno-pool, she had an apartment, and it was implied that she was happy with her un-life. She voluntarily stopped drinking human blood on her own, eight months prior to Conviction. Whether this was entirely her own decision, or due to the values of the friends she had made isn’t clear, but it’s highly doubtful that it would involve a W&H policy prior to Angel’s tenure as CEO.
Things were going well for Harmony Kendall.
Suddenly, she was plucked from her comfortable existence by Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and promoted to Personal Assistant to the CEO. Her job immediately got a whole lot more stressful!
It’s unclear exactly what she knew about Angel, but she had been in Sunnydale during his rampage as Angelus. She had to have known he was dating Buffy. Harmony must have resented Buffy because of her own fears as a vampire toward the one chosen to kill her kind, and especially because of Spike’s obsession with the Slayer. As a human student, the gossip surrounding Miss Calendar’s death must have been rampant. As a W&H employee, one can only assume she was aware of the results of the wine cellar massacre. Angel is unpredictable and ruthless—and as one of his first official acts as CEO, has instituted a Zero Tolerance policy for employees.
As his new assistant, Harmony is pleasant, organized, competent, and tries very hard to please. She’s good at her job, in spite of the fact that she doesn’t ever get any positive feedback from Angel. He denigrates her work, treats her as a piece of furniture much of the time, and she lives with the awareness that her first mistake will probably be her last.
Of course, she can’t go to him when she discovers she tests positive for human blood. Angel has given her no reason to think he will be supportive or help her make sense of the trap in which she seems to be caught. She no longer has friends in the steno pool, probably due in part to her rapid promotion and a fear/distrust of Angel among W&H employees. Harmony is social enough to feel the lack of friends and to want to cultivate Fred, but too self-absorbed to really make a go of it. She’s forced to handle things on her own—which she does, rather brilliantly, in fact. She manages to immobilize a large number of people to buy time—without killing anyone. She figures out the mystery, and manages to save degenerating peace talks as a side effect. Go, Harm!
Still, she never receives the kudos and support from Angel that she feels she deserves. Since he has a soul, she doesn’t think he understands how hard she has to work to fit in without one. She is later proven wrong. We, the viewers, eventually come to understand that he was aware of her struggle—he did understand her attempts to make something of her un-life without the moral compass others take for granted, and he proves that by giving her a pre-written letter of recommendation when he fires her. Angel validates her attempts in a way that Buffy never did for chipped
Harmony’s liaison with Hamilton came as a shock to viewers when it originally aired, but in retrospect, it is very understandable. Hamilton is an attractive, powerful man. He’s interested in her. He pays her attention and appears to value her in a way she felt she wasn’t getting from Angel. Hamilton cultivates her, he appreciates her, he likes her. Her liaison with Hamilton makes sense. When told to keep Hamilton busy, she did so in an eminently ‘Harmony’ way—she sends him to the records room, and then has sex with him.
When it was shown that Angel had been aware of at least the possibility of a liaison and used Harmony to supply erroneous information to Hamilton, it was also clear that Angel did not blame Harmony. He recognized her attempts. He validated her. But he never forgot what she was, and didn’t trust her. I believe Harmony was sincere in wanting to help Team Angel. I believe she was also sincere in wanting to help Hamilton. Loyalty was never her strong suit, but she does want to fit in. There is a telling exchange between Harmony and Angel, right before he fires her.
ANGEL: You betrayed me. You are betraying me now, even as we are talking.
HARMONY: Because you never have any confidence in me.
ANGEL: No, because you have no soul.
HARMONY: I would if you had confidence in me.
The series is over, and we’ll never know what happens in the lives of the characters we’ve come to care about, but somehow, I have the feeling that Faith isn’t the only woman Angel managed to redeem. The majority of Harmony’s relationships since becoming a vampire have been with beings fighting the good fight. Cordelia, Angel and souled Spike all had a mission and espoused similar values, although the way they acted on those values diverged wildly. Still, there was no real dissonance remaining in the leaders that became Harmony’s role models. They had become comfortable with integrating the way they perceived themselves and the way others saw them. By the end, they were all playing by the same rules.
Harmony absorbed those rules. I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, see her putting on a cape and tights and going out to save the world. She’s far too shallow and self-absorbed for that. But I also don’t see her ever going back to a traditional vampire existence, either. With the loss of the three most important relationships in her un-life, what do I see for Harmony’s future?
I see her taking her recommendation and getting a similar job with a big producer or a wealthy businessman, possibly David Nabbit. He knows and respects Angel, so the recommendation would have a personal meaning, beyond the large company CEO signature. His association with both Angel and Cordelia would make Harmony want to please him—to fit in—by staying on the straight-and-narrow. She’s a knock-out, and would definitely enhance his reputation. Plus, they’ve both shown interest in role-playing games, he’d be so enthralled with her that he’d find a game of Twenty Questions charming, and he has no prejudice about demons. He did visit a demon brothel once. Maybe twice. Okay, twelve times.
Harmony is pretty, she’s personable, she’s good at her job. She doesn’t need to kill to survive. She has marketable skills, and can survive quite nicely on the gourmet pig-and-otter blend she created. She doesn’t have a long list of atrocities to atone for and she wants to make something of herself. She’ll do fine.
Best wishes and good luck to you, Harmony. I hope you find what you’ve been searching for. Live long and prosper in fanfic!
Dialogue from Not Fade Away, written by Jeffrey Bell and Joss Whedon.
Shopping by Colleen.
Things That Go 'Bump' in the Night by Kantayra.
Maturity by Alixtii.
Santa's Baby by Mediancat.
Minion for Hire by Kate Higgins.
My wonderful beta, makd, had some further recommendations:
Pyromania by speaker2customers.
Harmony is a main character in
Pandora’s Boxer by speaker2customers.
In Perfect Harmony by Spring Summers.
“Except for Charlize Theron”, and “Friends With Benefits”, both by Jennifer Oksana, at http://jennyo.imjustsayin.net/index2.html
There are at least a dozen stories that are Harmony-centric at the Buffy Fiction Archive, at http://archive.shriftweb.org/archive/Harmony.html
There are a ½ dozen stories at the Better Buffy Fiction Archive at http://s8219.net/BetterBuffyFic/Archive/character.html
In addition, I have also written two stories that feature Harmony as a supporting (but important!) character:
Illyria and the Magic Potion by spikeNdru
The Dream by spikeNdru.
Fan Video Recommendations:
Jolene by Out of Mud.
Manic Monday by Miska Marie.
Not a Yo-Yo by Miska Marie.
Young, Hip and Beautiful by Primadonna.
You Don't Bring Me Flowers by SDWolfpup.
If anyone can recommend any other good Harmony Fanfiction or videos, please do so. I’d be very grateful. I love Harmony!