dedication: to emily, because i was sitting on her couch and it was storming outside and sometimes it's hard to love one person so much.
notes: LEANDRA HAWKE FIGHTS THE DIVINE: THE MOVIE
title: in the spirit of fairness
summary: Threatening to fight the Divine is not the worst thing Leandra Hawke has ever done. It's not even the worst thing she's done this week. — templar!au coda; Leandra, Cullen, Alistair/Bethany.
"Mother," Bethany hisses out of the corner of her mouth. "Maybe this is not the time?!"
"It is always the time," Leandra says, folding her hands in her lap, utterly serene. "Someone needs to do something, and if no one else is willing, I'll do it myself. Those children deserve better than this."
The story goes like this:
Once upon a time, Leandra Hawke had been the noble daughter of a shipping magnate.
In the intervening years between then and now, many things have changed. She's had children and grandchildren, been married and been widowed, has built home after home after home. She has lived a whole life, but one thing that has remained constant is that, once upon a time, she had been the noble daughter of a shipping magnate, and she still has the contracts to prove it.
It has been three decades, but she is finally putting that fact to good use.
"Bethany, my darling," Leandra says, "I am your mother. I would like to see you try to stop me."
Leandra's youngest child sighs heavily. Of all of Leandra's children, Bethany has always taken strongest after her father. The same eyes, the same nose, the same smile. It's funny how little her children look alike, and yet—they are unquestionably Leandra's children. All three of them carry themselves with Leandra's own mannerisms, and it's strange to see her own self reflected back at her.
Like warped mirrors.
"Besides," Leandra continues, "Your husband thinks it's a good idea."
"Of course he does, Alistair always thinks terrible ideas are good ideas, but that doesn't mean it actually is a good idea! They've never had any freedom, and they're still children. Someone's going to get hurt!" Bethany exclaims.
Someone already has been, Leandra doesn't say. Several someones, in fact. Her daughter knows this plenty well; Bethany lived above the foundry district for a year, Leandra hasn't forgotten. And it's not a hard thing to know, given where they are. The Twins loom over the harbor all the time, faces in hands, hands in chains.
"I know, dear," Leandra hums, instead. She purses her lips down at the letter from the Viscount's seneschal again. Marian, for Viscount? Dear Maker, hopefully not in this lifetime. The only thing Leandra's eldest is any good at is killing. Politics would only frustrate her. "But it seems we have little choice in the matter. Your sister's put all sorts of things in motion. If we're not careful, we'll have an Exalted March on our hands."
"I've been trying not to think about it!"
Leandra laughs very softly. Bethany is still, even now, the most sheltered of her children. "I'm sorry, darling, but it is the truth. Exalted Marches are nearly as bad as dwarven politics. Not quite as bad, but nearly."
"How are they only nearly as bad?"
"Exalted Marches don't have half the funding the Merchant's Guild does," Leandra says, and pulls out her ledgers.
Because here is a truth: the Amell vaults had never been nothing to sneeze at. In the intervening years Gamlen managed only to spend the gold, thank the Maker—the important things, Leandra had found, were still perfectly safe. Her brother had never had a head for contracts, nor for social engagements, nor, particularly, for numbers.
Leandra thanks every god she's ever heard of that in the gaping maw of years, this hasn't changed.
Because while the gold was gone, the shipping contracts were not.
And the slavers who'd been desecrating her ancestral home had had no idea where they'd been hidden. The smuggling vault had been worth every penny, Leandra thinks, satisfied. Bethany and her husband will never understand, but that's better. Someone in this family needs to keep the goodness alight.
The Amell blood runs strong in Leandra. It runs strong in Marian, too.
This is, perhaps, the problem.
And so Leandra shakes out her hair, and goes to work.
The Wounded Coast shimmers, pearlescent in the early morning. The Waking Sea laps moody grey against the sand, not quite a real colour, all salt and rust. The paths here are well-trod; Leandra follows them leisurely, her sturdy old boots sinking down an inch but only just. She's alone, but she's not really alone.
Memories are friendly companions, after all.
(She's twelve, laughter in her mouth, chasing ahead of Revka and tripping over stones. She's sixteen, ocean breeze in her hair, bored as anything by the Compte's flirting. She's twenty, smiling and starry-eyed, staring up at a blushing Malcolm Hawke like he's the only man in the world. The Wounded Coast has seen Leandra through many a long night, and even more a heartbreak.)
They'll build up on the cliffs, she's decided, far enough back from the edge that any wayward little ones won't be tempted to get into nonsense. Maybe they'll put up a fence, although that may feel a little too close to a cage. Wild rose hedges? They grow gnarly and wild here, pale pink petals and prickly thorns around a pale yellow center, a bright little shout against the dark of the leaves. Leandra picks her way among the bushes, taking the long trek up high above the Waking Sea's surface.
Yes, she thinks. Here.
She'll have to talk to Varric, Leandra decides. He must still have contacts within the Merchant's Guild, and dwarves do prefer that business remain a family affair. Less chance of interruption, when there are contingencies.
It won't hurt to have a word with Marian, either.
For certain, someone needs to, and none of Leandra's other children ever really learned how to corral their wayward eldest sister as best she did. Not even Solona has managed it, and Solona may be the only person on the Maker's green earth that gives Marian pause. Bethany is too busy with her own children, and Carver wouldn't even if he could. Alistair… does not even count, though he tries.
Leandra will have to do it herself.
The last thing they need in this city is an Exalted March.
Wind whips cool and salty off the Waking Sea, tugging Leandra's hair loose in strands. Nostalgia rolls over her like a wave; she hasn't been this high up since before Revka disappeared. Not since they'd both grown too old to be allowed that kind of freedom, for fear that they'd pick up and leave entire. The irony, of course, is that Revka did just that. There hadn't even been sign of a struggle.
Leandra wonders what happened to her cousin, sometimes.
Most of the time, though, she doesn't think she really wants to know.
The Hawke matriarch settles down on the cliff edge, her hands folded in her lap. It's good to have seen this place herself, if only because it gives her an idea of how she's going to finagle the layout. There's more than enough gold to do what she wants to do, what with Marian being Marian and the shipping contracts themselves, but it's not really about gold. It's about doing what's right.
And what's right is making sure that the Gallows' mage children never have to spend another night in the rooms where their friends had been murdered.
But she's going to take a minute to breathe in the morning, first.
The next few months are a flurry of endless meetings.
Between the creditors, the building foreman, the dwarven building foreman, the increasingly-worried looks on all of her children's faces when she comes home smiling benignly, and the the frankly appalling state of the Viscount's financial book-keeping, Leandra hardly has the time to think about what she's gotten herself into, much less anything that comes afterwards. There are no chances to reconsider her course of action, nor are there any exits. She has begun something, and she must see it through.
There is only one way forward, and they all must go.
(It is not easy, but Leandra never expected it to be. In fact, she expected far more pushback than she's had; when she stalks into the Gallows with her head held high, and demanded to take the apprentices with her, not one of the templars seemed inclined to stop her. Really, they just sort of stared at her, and didn't even try to stop her as she swept into the apprentice quarters and told them all to pack their things. That part had been easy, but the rest has not been. They're children. It's not easy, but it is right.)
But the apprentices don't much look like apprentices.
They look tired and bedraggled, like a bunch of children dragged out of bed far too early, cold and hungry with nowhere else to go. There aren't even all that many of them—these are the ones who've had so many screaming nightmares that the templars don't know what to do with them. Alistair encourages them to shuffle forwards towards her, that perfectly charming grin of his that Leandra knows that her youngest daughter can't resist even if she tries plastered across his face. They're rather well-matched, Alistair and Bethany, Leandra thinks. No one else could have patched them to normalcy quite so well.
And so this is how Leandra's new charges come to her: wide-eyed and terrified, but still hoping so very hard, as only children are capable of.
The resiliency of the young never fails to amaze her.
"Let's get you settled," Leandra tells them, kindly as she can. Gently, too. "Come along, I'll let you pick your rooms."
They respond to it like flowers in sunlight. A week passes, and the apprentices are already shocking one another when they think she isn't looking. But they're laughing, too, unconscious and uninhibited, exactly the way children should.
I'm going to need more teachers, Leandra thinks, bemused.
Because the problem with children is that children are inherently curious creatures. They need things to do, things to occupy their little hands and minds, and they need the encouragement to believe that they'll be praised for their efforts. They also need to be unafraid of chastisement, which is going to be an issue with this group. They're constantly freezing up, every time she calls one of their names.
The two templars that Leandra deigns to allow to stand guard outside the gates are not ideal for this, of course, but it does keep Ser Cullen from keeling over from the sheer scandal or exploding from the raise in blood pressure. It's a compromise. Leandra has always been good at compromise.
(Or, well, no, perhaps not. She's good at compromise now, but now is after having lived a life full of compromise. Leandra understands compromise, if only because she'd eschewed it for so long. It had been her idea to elope, after all.)
And so the templars stand outside the gates, shifting nervously, and neither Leandra nor the apprentices pay them much attention. Templars are an unfortunate reality of the world they live in, but they have very little sway here.
They're not allowed in, you see.
Yes, there is a significant likelihood that one of these days, Leandra is going to get a seething letter from one of the Grand Clerics. She's well-aware of that, thank you, Bethany, and she's more than well-aware that their family has been in more than enough hot water. Yes, her grandchildren are always going to be targets for what Leandra is trying to do, but it's no more than they're already targets for what Marian got up to. A letter from one of the Grand Clerics might even be amusing.
In fact, it might not even be a bad idea to get there first.
Make the first move, so to speak.
And so in the vein of the Hawke family never doing anything by half, Leandra decides to write to the Divine.
Most Holy Mother, Divine Justinia,
My name is Leandra Hawke, and in the spirit of fairness, I will be frank.
The Gallows are in shambles. I am sure you are aware of this, Your Perfection. There is no delicate way to put it, nor to deny my own family's involvement in setting things up as they are. I apologize for my daughter's part in all of this—Marian has always been wild—but I ask Your Perfection's clemency in this matter. My family has suffered much, these last years.
And so I suppose I am attempting to give back, now that I am able.
The Free Marches are a beautiful place, especially along the Wounded Coast. It is a lovely, empty stretch of land that has been in my family for generations, and it is far from Kirkwall's turmoil. It is very quiet, Your Perfection. And so I beg Your Perfection's forgiveness rather than Your permission. With the Gallows as they are, there is no place for the young apprentices traumatized in the previous Knight-Commander's… short-sightedness, shall we say. They will not reconcile what has happened to them, nor will they grow as servants of the Maker, should they remain.
As such, I have removed them to my estate on that lovely, empty stretch of land I spoke about. They will be safe, there. They will have the chance to heal.
Please do not misunderstand, Your Perfection. It really is for their own good.
With the most profound respect and honour, I remain your devoted and humble servant,
Lady Leandra Hawke
Leandra glances the letter over with a careless satisfaction once more. She could hardly have been ruder; her own mother would have been appalled, Maker rest her soul. If it had been Marian writing it, Leandra herself would have demanded the girl rewrite it for that self-same thing.
However, in counterargument:
Leandra Hawke does what she wants.
She sends the letter through the Chantry's official channels. One of the Sisters in the Chantry takes it from her, and she seems a sweet thing, if very young. Of course, Leandra expects the girl to read it immediately. Why would she not? This is how things go, and she's been very transparent, as far as subterfuge goes. The girl will read the letter, and the letter will go to the Divine, exactly as she wanted.
Never let it be said that Leandra does not know how to play the Grand Game.
Perhaps it is not so strange to expect a reply within the week. The entire world has watched Kirkwall, particularly as that nastiness between Leandra's daughter and the templars had unfolded, and the Divine herself is still only a person, even beneath all that Chantry pomp. People are predictable in their nosiness, and for this, Leandra is glad.
The envelope, when it arrives, is of expensive heavy cream vellum, so smooth it's almost silk. Leandra slides a knife through the seams, and it cuts like butter.
Our humble servant, Lady Hawke,
We thank you for your letter. Such an illuminating read! Truly, we enjoyed it immensely; it shed light on many things kept previously in the dark. We ask to borrow your phrase, Lady Hawke, for it covers our feelings on the matter quite decisively.
In the spirit of fairness, we extend this courtesy to you and yours: we will not order an Exalted March on Kirkwall at this time. The reports we have received from the Marches are troubling to all who walk in the Maker's light. We will not discard an offer of help, especially not one made with such unselfish graces. Altruism is the clearest path to the Maker's side.
But it is with dismay that we respond to your letter. We had hoped that perhaps you would allow our templars some leeway—these young men and women dedicated to upholding the Chantry's law, Andraste bless—and yet it seems that you will not. Young mages must be protected, as the Maker wills.
We beg you to reconsider, Lady Hawke. We do not wish for any… rashness. We can only extend our influence so far.
May you walk always His light,
Divine Justinia V
Oh, that is delightful.
Leandra finishes reading through the letter and can think of nothing else. This is a masterpiece of manipulation, something Leandra's own mother would have held up to coo about. The sheer passive-aggression of the thing is a marvel. If Leandra didn't know better, she'd be flattered.
Divine Justinia almost certainly wants her dead.
It is precisely what she was expecting.
Leandra wastes no time in penning her reply. What else is a lady to do?
Your Most Holy Perfection, Divine Mother to us all,
I thank Your Perfection ever so kindly for the timely reply. It is always wonderful to know that the voice of the Maker is heard by even the smallest of His subjects. But unfortunately I must disappoint you again, Your Perfection. The truth of the matter is that I cannot stop, not now that I have begun.
In the spirit of fairness, I have conceded to allow two young templars to be stationed outside of the gates of the estate. If there is need of them, they will only be a moment. I do hope this mollifies Your Perfection, for outside of the gates is as far as I will permit. Again, Your Perfection, the apprentices and their healing are my primary concern. I am certain even Andraste herself would not fault me for this decision, and I beseech Your Perfection of the same regard.
And I do appreciate the courtesy. Exalted Marches would certainly put a damper on my days. I would hate to have to call my eldest home so soon. I've herd she's headed for Rivain, but that may only be rumour. Girls like my eldest keep their secrets close to their chests, do they not? I could never have stopped what she put in motion even if I wanted to.
Truly, I apologize on her behalf. Marian does as she sees fit; I am simply her mother.
As ever, thank you for your time, Your Perfection. I remain your obedient servant,
Lady Leandra Hawke
Yes, she is definitely going to be in trouble for some of these letters. That last line in particular is a blatant lie; as though Leandra would have stopped Marian from doing as she pleased even if she could have. No, she'd always encouraged the girls, perhaps too much. And besides, the Gallows were always bound to explode. It was going to happen sooner or later, and honestly, better sooner rather than later. If it had not been Marian, it would certainly have been someone else.
There was always going to be blood shed over the matter of the Circles. To pretend otherwise is simply foolish, akin to sticking one's head in the sand.
And the Chantry could do with a little more worry. They've done more than enough damage to families like Leandra's own to warrant it.
Leandra pins her hardened heart to her sleeve, and goes to send the letter off.
It is a beautiful day out. Hightown is all aflutter. The nobles have already turned their attention to the coming social season; the templars and the mages have already been forgotten, especially now that Knight-Commander Meredith is nothing but a shining lump of coal in the Gallows' courtyard. The Viscount's Keep is empty, yet again.
Kirkwall's Chantry settles around Leandra like an old friend.
Leandra grew up between these pews. It was a very long time ago, however, and there is something exceedingly satisfying about the melted state of the statues that used to line the walls. She's awfully smug about it, but that's no surprise—Marian did have to get it from somewhere—and beyond the puddles of solid gold, there's still another entire wall missing, blown inwards with rubble still in pieces 'round the base.
But the damage that Marian's friends caused is not enough to stop the torrent of aid pouring in from Kirkwall's faithful. It's hardly been a month, but the Chantry is already sewing the holes in its skin closed.
There are so many better uses for gold, Leandra thinks, pursing her lips. The Merchant's Guild must be furious.
"Lady Hawke," says one of the Sisters, inclining her head. She's young, dark-haired and dark-skinned, and Leandra recognizes her only because she'd been the one to take Leandra's first letter to the Divine, too. "Another letter, already?"
"Yes, thank you," Leandra says, smiles. There's no reason to be rude, especially when the girl had gotten Leandra's letter to its intended recipient without incident. Leandra doesn't feel the need to offend every living person in a hundred-league radius. That's just tacky. She pretends to worry at her lip. "You will get it to Her Perfection intact, will you not?"
"Of course, my lady," the Sister says. A funny little smile lights up her face. "Her Perfection is always pleased to hear from Your Ladyship."
"Oh?" Leandra crooks an eyebrow. "Is she, now?"
"Yes," the Sister says. "I did have to read the first one, I'm sorry about it. But—well, I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you this, but when Sister Nightingale read it, she smiled? I haven't seen her smile like that, before."
"No, I wouldn't think you would have," Leandra reaches out to pat the girl's arm. "Thank you for letting me know, dear. Give the Sister my love."
"Of course, my lady," the girl says, and tucks the letter securely into her sleeve. There's something very fitting about it; Leandra nods, lips curving up. She thinks the girl might actually keep her word, and not read it. It is lovely when things go the way Leandra wants them to go.
It makes things so much easier.
And it such a lovely day, she thinks she fancies a walk. The apprentices will be out, by now, ready to play and get into all sorts of mischief. It hasn't been very difficult to convince a few of the Gallows' Senior Enchanters—the remaining few, Leandra thinks, pursing her lips—to come out. It keeps the templars on guard on edge, but what else is there? She does need teachers, after all, and who better to teach the little ones than people they already know? People they already trust?
No, this is much better.
Tidy, that's the word. This is so much more tidy.
When Leandra finally reaches the gates of her estate, it's to two nervous templar boys shifting their weight back and forth in the noonday sun. Those armour sets of their must be sweltering in this heat, and Leandra pats each of them in turn on the shoulders. She doesn't want them to suffer, either; perhaps she'll bring out cool water for them in a little while.
Laughter rings out from around the side of the estate, but Leandra doesn't follow it. Instead she picks her skirts up and meanders, ambling along the wild grasses that grow along the edges of the cliffs. The Waking Sea roils far below, the wind cutting through the heat of the day salted and cool.
Yes, it is beautiful day.
Leandra turns, and goes inside.
"Hello, Ser Cullen," says Leandra, looking over the tops of her spectacles at him.
The boy—and he is a boy, no doubt about that—collapses into the chair in front of Leandra's desk. He's underdressed. It's very odd to see him out of the templar armour, and in near exactly the opposite way it's odd to see Alistair in in the templar armour. There's something… discomfiting about it, that's the word.
Ser Cullen is still such a young man, despite all that he's lived through. He does not look like the only remaining ranked templar in the Gallows. He certainly does not look like the interim Knight-Commander; he looks like Carver used to when Marian had dragged him through the mud. It's the very same sort of exhaustion.
Leandra's lips twitch at the memory.
"Hello, Lady Leandra," he says, slumping ever further in his chair. Leandra has to restrain herself from scolding him to sit up straight. "Do you mind if I just—sit? For a minute?"
"Sit as long as you like, dear," Leandra hums. There's a specific kind of not paying attention that parents do when their children are of a mind to tell them something, but they haven't found quite the right words to put it all together. Leandra does it now, returns her gaze to the ledgers in front of her that had previously held her attention, and waits for Ser Cullen to gather his thoughts.
"I was thirteen when I joined the Order," he says, after a very long silence. He stares at his hands in his lap.
"Oh?" she asks.
Ser Cullen nods, head down. "It was all I ever wanted. I didn't expect—"
"That it would be so hard?" Leandra finishes the sentence for him when he's let it hang for a good minute. She sighs, slow and soft, and perhaps there is sympathy in it. A templar not given to the Chantry as a child—he'd have been swayed by the tales, and likely hadn't understood the reality of what he was getting into until he'd been in too far to know how to escape. Alistair would have been the same, but Alistair had found Leandra's youngest daughter before it ever got so far.
Bethany had been her son-in-law's sign, but this young man sitting in front of her had never had one like it.
Ser Cullen nods again. "I was just trying to do what was right."
"You know, the sad thing about what's right is that it's very dependent on who you're talking to," Leandra tells him, gentle. This was something she'd had to learn on her own, and it doesn't hurt to pass it on to someone who could use it. "Just because something is right for someone else doesn't mean that it's right for you."
"Or for most people," he says, a little hoarse. "We were wrong, weren't we?"
"Yes, but you don't have to continue being wrong," Leandra says, even gentler now. "You can decide not to be wrong anymore."
"I'm certain Alistair has some ideas," Leandra says lightly, though she says nothing of what those ideas might be. If they don't all begin and end with find yourself a girl, mate, Leandra will be flabbergasted. Her son-in-law is nothing if not predictable, especially when her daughter is involved.
"Useless ones, maybe," Ser Cullen makes a sound that is far closer to a snort than Leandra has ever heard out of him in her life. She's almost impressed. "I'd be better off talking to Lady Bethany."
"That wouldn't be a terrible idea, either," Leandra says. And yet—
Ser Cullen doesn't move from the chair, and Leandra can't say she's entirely surprised. Not even Bethany will help him in this instance, because Bethany will simply be a reminder that he's made several life-altering mistakes, all in very quick succession. Leandra loves her daughter, but Bethany is not and has never been able to dispense unbiased advice.
Unfortunately, unbiased advice is precisely what Ser Cullen needs.
So it's up to Leandra to sort the boy out. Again, she can't say she's altogether surprised. He still stumbles over his words when someone brings Solona up; he's a bit hopeless, and it's not entirely funny anymore, if it ever was at all.
"You realized a long time ago that it wasn't fair, didn't you?"
Ser Cullen nods a third time, misery in every line of his face.
"…Have a biscuit, Cullen."
Ser Cullen blinks. "Pardon?"
"Have a biscuit," Leandra repeats, and pushes her tin of good butter biscuits across the desk. She waits until he takes one, fingers cautious, before she continues. "You know what you have to do, don't you?"
Ser Cullen blinks a second time. "Er. Do?"
"Yes, do," says Leandra. She stares placidly at him over the tops of the spectacles again, because she knows it'll cow him into acquiescence. She thinks of the letters she's written the Divine in this moment; choices, one and all. "You must do better."
"Choose to be," she says, very simple. "Now, up you get. It's far past time for you to take the Enchanters home."
"Lady Leandra, I—"
"I know, dear," she tells him, and watches with great satisfaction as he goes just the slightest bit pink. He'll be alright, she thinks, but it will take him. It wouldn't be a bad thing to remind him of it. "Oh, and Cullen?"
"Yes, Lady Leandra?"
"You're going to be fine," she says, and smiles at him all the way out.
In the morning, the Divine's reply shows up on Leandra's stoop, and it wipes all thought of Ser Cullen and the quandary of the templars from her mind.
Dear Lady Leandra,
In the spirit of fairness, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude. Two templars at the gates may not, to use your word, mollify some of our Sisters, but we are satisfied with it, for now. It is enough. Our children in the Circles have been asking questions, of course. It would not do to disappoint them. We have heard that Grand Enchanter Fiona wishes to meet in Cumberland. It has been a very long time since there has been any reason for that. Praise the Maker, we hope it will go well.
But please, do call the Champion of Kirkwall back. We would love to speak to her, given the chance. We are certain there are many things she would tell us—why she stood with the mages, perhaps? We are aware that you have nieces and nephews in other Circles, Lady Hawke, but we imagine that it must truly be something closer to home. How are your grandchildren? Your youngest daughter has just had a third child, has she not? Is she well?—and we welcome the opportunity for clarity in this matter.
But you are correct. Women like your eldest do keep their secrets close. You yourself are the same, are you not? A question for a question, Lady Hawke. We do hope you are keeping up. It has been a delight, truly.
We look forwards to your next correspondence,
Divine Justinia V
Something goes very still inside of Leandra. A question for a question? No, this is threat for threat. Yes, Marian does have cousins in the Circles, but—if the Divine is unaware of Bethany and the little ones and their magic, Leandra will eat this letter whole. She'll eat her pen.
Well, that leaves only one thing to do, doesn't it?
Fight me, Your Perfection.
There, Leandra thinks, sealing the letter with a grimace. That ought to do it.
She's not sure what she expects, after she sends it off.
Something. She expects something.
But the days go by, and things plod along. When she does finally tell Bethany that she's been writing the Divine, the deeply distraught look that graces her daughter's face is like drinking fine wine. Leandra is going to treasure it forever. And yes, if she's kept a closer eye than she usually would have on her daughter and her grandchildren, that's Leandra's prerogative.
It wouldn't do to have them die, not now.
And still, life goes on.
One evening, long after the sun has gone down and all of the apprentices have gone to bed, Leandra writes by the light of a single candle. The stack of letters from the other Circles hasn't grown any smaller, and the Merchant's Guild has been in an uproar. Letters from the Divine are one things, but these are something else entire; it seems that no matter how many she answers, there are always more to come. She can't say she's surprised. What she's up to here is unprecedented.
It was always bound to attract attention.
She bends closer to the page, absorbed in the words. The Libertarian faction is going to push for a vote? After the Gallows have exploded as they have? Have they lost their minds? That's going to—
A floorboard creaks.
She is absorbed, but she's not that absorbed. Leandra looks up, and a sweet nightmare of a smile blooms slow across her face. Ah, there it is. There's the something, standing right in front of her. Divine Justinia is always wonderfully on top of these things. And threatening to fight the Divine is not the worst thing Leandra Hawke has ever done. It is not even the worst thing she has done this week.
"Oh, Sister Nightingale," Leandra sighs happily. Something, after all. "Hello."