Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Leliana/Bethany Hawke
Spoilers: Minor, for all three games
Notes: Written for the Tumblr giveaway I ran last year, as a gift for defira85. She requested Leliana/Bethany for Femslash February, in the context of Bethany joining the Inquisition as the leader of a group of mages, and having an old crush on Leliana from their days in Lothering. This is a lovely idea, which I adopted as headcanon for my Marian Hawke's universe from the moment I got the prompt. :) Defira, I hope you enjoy it!
Also on AO3.
"Bethany Hawke." Leliana regarded the newcomer with a smile, and an outstretched hand. "I heard you had come to Skyhold, but I wasn't sure whether to believe it."
Bethany returned the smile and shook Leliana's hand with a warm, sure grip. She was dressed in dark blue robes, a sandalwood staff strapped to her back. Leliana almost hadn't recognized her, but the gentle, shy girl that she remembered from the Lothering Chantry shone through the same brown eyes, the same sweet smile. "Believe it or not, here I am."
Leliana motioned for Bethany to take a chair, then sat down across from her, fingers steepled on the desk. "Your sister told us you were safe in Kirkwall, not leading a band of apostates across all Thedas."
Bethany sighed. "Marian has always believed that it's her job to keep me safe. Perhaps that was true when we were younger, but I stopped being her responsibility on the day I went to the Circle, whether she wants to believe it or not. So when she sent me in Kirkwall to stay with Aveline, I went, but then I connected with a few survivors from the Gallows who stayed in the area. We decided to get involved, and thought the Inquisition our best opportunity." She gestured out the window. "I know most of the mages here didn't join by choice. But our situation is different, since we weren't part of Fiona's revolution. We didn't leave the Circle -- our Circle was destroyed. And we would never have dealt with the Venatori. Especially as there are templars within our group."
Leliana raised an eyebrow. "Templars and mages working together?"
"Why not?" Bethany said. "The Order was founded to protect mages, and the best templars never forgot that. And in Kirkwall, we were all prisoners of the Gallows, all victims of Knight-Commander Meredith's tyranny. Good templars didn't dare speak out about the abuses there -- Meredith would have punished them almost as badly as the mages, put them into disgrace or sent them away. Even before the war began, a conspiracy of templars and mages were plotting to push Meredith from power. That effort was doomed by a few bad actors -- and their attempt to involve my sister by coercion rather than just asking nicely -- but their hearts were in the right place."
"Ah, yes." Leliana responded with a nod. "Cullen mentioned that to me. A pity they failed." She sat back in her chair. "Well. I will have to speak with the Inquisitor, but she has never been one to turn down help freely offered. I'm sure she will welcome you into the ranks, mages and templars both."
Bethany let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you, so much. And I do hope the mages already here will accept the templars among us." She shook her head. "Mages and templars were never meant to be enemies. It's a shame that so many people forgot that."
"Agreed," Leliana said, then smiled. "Ah, my little Bethany. How did you grow up to be so wise?"
Bethany smiled back, and Leliana caught a softening around her eyes, perhaps the beginnings of crows' feet. Not so little anymore. "I had good teachers," she said. "Like you. I always did love your stories, and hearing you sing the Chant. Sometimes I would close my eyes and imagine I was listening to Andraste herself."
"Mm." Leliana considered Bethany again, taking a careful look at the serious expression in her warm eyes, the cloud of soft, dark hair surrounding her face. Not so little, indeed. She found herself wondering if it would be as soft to the touch as it appeared. "I remember," she said. "I remember a quiet girl, sitting in the back of Chantry, away from the other children, praying to Andraste, desperate to hide her magic."
Bethany chuckled. "I wasn't so little, Leliana, not even then."
She winked, and Leliana had to laugh. "I suppose not," she admitted. "But you must understand why you seemed so to me. Then, and even perhaps now. Although I also see the hard times you endured, these last ten years."
"Yes." Bethany's voice softened, her hands flattening on the table. "The Blight, Kirkwall, the war. So many lives lost. I wish there had been another way."
"Divine Justinia tried," Leliana said, her smile fading as it always did when she thought on her lost mentor, on the ache never far from her heart. She lowered her eyes and shook her head. "But all her efforts, her dreams, came to nothing."
Bethany leaned forward and covered Leliana's hand with her own, her touch firm and reassuring, yet still gentle. Warm. Full of life. "The Divine gave the writ to found the Inquisition, didn't she? I'd say that's not nothing. You're carrying on her work, even though she's gone."
"You're right." Leliana glanced up and caught Bethany's eye with a small smile. "Thank you."
"Of course." To Leliana's surprise, Bethany blushed, and pulled her hand back. "I'm sorry, it's just -- did you know I had the worst crush on you?"
Leliana raised an eyebrow. "You did?"
Bethany nodded. "Back in Lothering. I didn't understand what it was, then -- I just admired your tales, your lovely voice, how beautiful you are."
Leliana laid a palm against her chest with a small smile. "That's very sweet," she said. "But I'm sure you grew out of it, no?"
"No-- I mean, yes-- well, I wouldn't say I grew out of it." Bethany looked up from the floor, her eyes holding Leliana's. "I just stopped thinking about you. Out of sight, out of mind, you know? But now that you're back in sight--" She spread her arms. "I'm sorry, this is embarrassing. Just the silliness of a young girl, which seeing you again has put me in mind of."
"If that is all, truly, then we will never speak of it again." Leliana looked straight back at her, the young apostate of Lothering finally resolving into a lovely grown woman who had known fear, loss, hard choices. "But if it's not, well. Then I would be happy to speak of it. Perhaps over dinner, in the tavern? At six o'clock?"
Bethany relaxed into a smile, the light in her eyes brightening her entire face. "I'd love to," she said.
"Good." Leliana stood up and, after a slight hesitation, leaned over the desk and kissed her, a quick brush of lips against her cheek, a hand daring to brush through the soft brown curls that framed Bethany's face. A catch in her breath, Bethany returned the kiss, turning to touch their lips together, light and warm. Leliana wanted to pull Bethany into her arms, whisk her away with kisses fast and slow, but instead she pulled back, fingers curling into a soft fist that brushed against Bethany's cheek. "I look forward to it," she murmured.
Bethany smiled again, and came to her feet. "Yes. But for now, I need to go inform my people that we'll be allowed to stay," she said. "And perhaps introduce myself to Fiona."
"A fine idea." With an effort of will, she dropped her hand from Bethany's face. "She is often in the library, one floor down. You might find her there now."
"Thank you," Bethany tipped her chin up, and for the space of a heartbeat Leliana thought she might kiss her again, but then she stepped back. "For everything. I'm glad we'll be working together."
"As am I," Leliana replied; Bethany curtsied, and then exited down the stairs, the scent of her perfume lingering in the air. Working together, Leliana thought, and perhaps much more. Six o'clock could not come quickly enough.
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