A/N: When I played my femAmell, I wondered why she betrayed Jowan to the First Enchanter. This story explores why.
Betrayal. Eleyna Amell could smell it on her clothes, her skin as she stood in the First Enchanter's office. The words about Jowan and Lily's escape plan come out of her mouth, but it was almost as if someone else was speaking them. Is this what it's like to be possessed? she wondered absently. To hear yourself say things you'd never say; to do things you know you'd never do? Only blood magic could compel one to do something against their will, but she had something worse than blood magic: jealousy.
How could he? Eleyna seethed, walking as swiftly from the chapel as her new mage robes would allow.
"What about us?"
The look of surprise on his face almost hurt more than his words. "You and... me? But you're like a sister...!"
Eleyna passed Cullen, whose gauntleted hand rose halfway and paused as if to wave at her but then thinking better of it. She could feel his eyes on her as she paced down the corridor, and she felt another stab of pain.
The other apprentice girls had teased her about her virginal bookishness, about how she'd rather read than lay with a man. It wasn't true , but Eleyna couldn't tell them that, not when the very thought of Jowan even touching her cheek made her blush, and her heart ache with longing.
It was Jowan she hesitantly confided in about the teasing, hoping to stir something... hoping he'd see the answer in her eyes. Instead his smile had widened into mischievous glee. Cullen, he'd whispered and she'd blinked in owlish confusion.
"That templar fellow down the hall. He's always looking at you, or haven't you noticed?"
"The templars always watch. It's what they do," she'd replied, confused.
"No, no. I mean, he watches you." Jowan leaned close confidentially, and Eleyna felt her breath hitch in her throat as his hand casually brushed against hers. "You could get him to fall in love with you—that would shut those girls up, especially Lara. The best she can do is Humbert, and he's practically tranquil."
And she had done it. Why? She wasn't quite sure. Maybe it was thrill of the hunt finally awakening in her eighteen-year-old heart. Maybe she really did want to silence Lara and the others. Maybe she hoped that her act would really capture the templar's heart, and Jowan would realize his mistake. But the more Cullen stammered and blushed around her, the more Jowan seemed to enjoy it. Lara's pointed remarks became more and more desperate, and Eleyna knew she should feel a sense of power. But then she would catch a glimpse of the desperate loneliness behind Cullen's eyes and wonder why she'd been so willing to sacrifice a man's happiness in hopes of securing her own. She tried to tell herself that he was just a templar and they didn't care unless you slipped up and then they would care enough to slit your throat... but she couldn't even convince herself of that. Behind the plate armor was just a man, and the irony of it was she probably had more in common with Cullen than he realized. They both wanted the unattainable.
Then came her Harrowing. Though everyone complimented her on a job well done, she had never felt more torn, like a piece of paper ripped loose from a notebook and left to flutter around in a stray breeze. The sparking texture of lyrium still lingered on her tongue as she realized how very easy it was to trip up, to stumble, and then a demon would have you and all would be lost. What point was there in dithering around flirting with templars whose dark eyes were more like tunnels to be lost in? She didn't want to be lost—she wanted to be found.
No more. She would tell Jowan how she felt and they would be together. They had dreamed once, when they were both gangly, awkward apprentices and the cold nights of the tower were warm when shared with a friend. Eleyna had dreamed of having a family someday; Jowan of gaining a place of trust with an arl or bann, like Enchanter Wilhelm had with the Arl of Redcliffe during the rebellion against the Orlesians more than 20 years ago.
All that was needed was for Jowan to complete his Harrowing then they would convince Irving to let them out of the Circle, and they would be happy.
But that would never happen. Instead she stood and watched, numb, as Jowan's phylactery shattered on the cold stone floor. Part of her hadn't actually believed he would do it. She had been convinced that he would get there, lose his nerve, and she would lead them out and be able to convince Irving that there was no need for Jowan to be made tranquil. Of course the First Enchanter would listen, she was his favorite student...
"I'm free!" Jowan breathed.
"Jowan, I need to tell you something." The words spurted out her like the blood from the phial and soon she was sobbing "I'm so sorry" over and over again as the sound of Jowan's footsteps retreated from her.
Wiping the tears from her face, streaking dust over her cheeks, Eleyna followed. She wouldn't let Jowan face the templars alone. One betrayal was enough: no more. Not ever.