These are my actual ship feelings, in case you missed them last time.
I’m not the world’s biggest Margaret Mead fan, but there’s a line attributed to her I really like. “I’ve been married three times— and each time I married the right person.”
That’s how I feel about all of Natasha’s bigtime canon romances. They were right at the time, and in their contexts, they each helped move her story forward, round out specific aspects of her character. I like Alexi because he provides that initial tragedy, I like Clint because he provides that initial redemption, I like Matt for the promise of a new beginning, a new life that Natasha could pick herself, with a partner that she chose— and could chose to leave. And I like Bucky because he gives her the unspoken understanding of he dark shadows in her past which she’s always craved but would never ask for.
I know this is like the ultimate shipping war copout but to be honest besides not really wanting to plant big loud flags and alienate followers, but besides me thinking shipwars are stupid and growing increasingly frustrated with “Clint/Bobbi 4eva, read the comics” stuff in the black widow tracked tag, I also think “whose the best dude for her?” kind of zooms right past the point.
Romance isn’t an endgame, it is something Natasha survives. Love isn’t an inevitability, it’s something tremendous and bright and impermanent that Natasha has to seek out and hold onto while she can, because it will not last, and she will. The courage it takes, to love and to lose and to love again, full-stop, that is her particular brand of bravery. She doesn’t love Bucky now instead of Clint, she can only love Bucky because she loved Clint.