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Looking To Get in The Mood For Valentine’s Day? Might I Interest You in One of These Fine Fanfiction Pairings?

You can always find love on AO3.

dean x cas in Supernatural 13x06

Valentine’s Day may not be everyone’s favorite holiday, but we can all try to celebrate love on February 14th in our own way. If you are single, or not feeling the love, take time to appreciate yourself. Do something to remember why we all need a little love. Maybe a fancy dinner or a spa day will help lift your mood in a good direction. Or perhaps just a good glass of wine will get you into the holiday spirit.

Sorry, I don’t know anything about wine (boxed wine suits me on all occasions). However, I am a connoisseur of fanfiction. I consume the stuff throughout the year—and in copious amounts. Taking a moment to read fanfiction has become part of my self-care routine. It makes me remember that a good love story is timeless. Especially ones that feature great tropes like “there’s only one bed,” “fake relationship,” or the ever-brilliant “sex pollen.” So let me interest you in some of the top pairings on Archive of Our Own (also known as AO3) to reignite your passions.

Know your ratings

Before diving into any reading, you should know how the rating system works on AO3. The rating system helps make sure you read the type of story you want to be reading.

Not Rated/General Audiences – Basically PG-rated stories. They usually don’t have anything too crazy going on in them.

Teen and Up – PG-13 storylines with more mild romances.

Mature – R-rated plots that can get pretty hot and heavy.

Explicit – NC-17/18+ ratings give your adult storylines that may have heavy sex and/or violence. Truthfully, I stay in this rating category for everything I read, because I am here for all the feelings and all the smut.

May I present the most popular pairings on AO3

Most often, the pairings are separated into gendered couples. There is male/female, female/female, and male/male. But the stories themselves usually are a little more nuanced than that. Especially with more popular ships, readers can find stories where their favorite characters are gender-swapped, transgender, or non-binary. My advice is to find your OTP (One True Pairing), and then try to figure out the exact flavor of situation you want to see them in.

If you don’t know where to start (believe me, there are A LOT of fanfictions on AO3), here are the top three ships for M/F, F/F, and M/M.


Rey/Ben | Kylo Ren – From Star Wars, Rey and Ben/Kylo boast around 23,499 fanfictions. I guess the dichotomy of good and evil between them, and that kiss in the last movie, has set the fandom all aflame.

Hermione Granger/Draco MalfoyJ.K. Rowling is awful, but at least she doesn’t benefit from the readers and writers of fanfiction. This ship has been popular in the Harry Potter fandom for as long as I can remember. With over 23,000 fanfictions, you can probably find a few where Draco realized his love for Hermione after she punched him in the face.

James Potter/Lily Potter – Another popular Harry Potter pairing, with over 22,000 fanfictions, features Harry’s parents. I’m sure many of these take place during the Marauders era, when they were attending Hogwarts along with another popular ship, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.


Kara Danvers/Lena Luthor – I’m pretty sure this pairing from DC is the most popular F/F pairing, with over 19,770 stories to date. A lot of that is thanks to CW’s Supergirl TV series.

Evil Queen Regina/Emma SwanOnce Upon a Time gave people a lot of feelings. Who knew that these polar opposite moms to the same child would ignite over 15,000 stories? They are both women who fight to get exactly what they want.

Clarke Griffin/Lexa – This paring from the CW’s post-apocalyptic show The 100 is one of the few same-sex couples that is actually canon. But if you need more of them, you have almost 13,000 stories to pick from.


Castiel/Dean WinchesterEven if you have never watched Supernatural, you probably know the fandom has strong feelings that Castiel and Dean are in love. It is THE pairing on the internet. As far as I know, it is the first and only pairing to inspire over 100,000 fanfictions on AO3. Their love takes them literally to Hell and back.

Derek Hale/Stiles StilinksiTeen Wolf may be back with a new movie, but the over 70,000 fanfictions show “Sterek” never left the hearts of fans. I am one of those that can’t resist a sour wolf, so I support many pairings with Derek. I love how writers use Stiles’s never-ending quips to provoke Derek.

Sherlock Holmes/John Watson – Now that all Sherlock Holmes properties have come into the public domain, we can pretend our fanfictions are now canon. Or maybe we should work on getting one of the 70,000-plus fanfictions to some widely-distributed print publication.

Personally, I am enjoying the vintage pairing of Captain America/Winter Soldier right now, which I can’t recommend enough. So this Valentine’s Day (or any other day), find your OTP and read responsibly. Stay thirsty, my friends.

(featured image: The CW)

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D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a freelance pop culture writer. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. She fangirls over the X-Men, folklore podcasts, and historical fantasy. When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse and offspring.