Fandom: His Dark Materials.
Title: [Do You] Know Me.
Pairing/Characters: Lyra and Lord Asriel-centric, but Marisa/Asriel and Will/Lyra.
Dedication: For Neko, who wanted the Belacquas to have a chat, and me, who agreed.
Summary: There are some things you suppose, and others you know. Lord Asriel never supposes. Slight AU: Lyra and Will are together.
[Do You] Know Me.
By Neko Kuroban and Sister Grimm Erin
The young woman who sat before him was a creature removed from the girl Lord Asriel had known at Jordan College.
Lyra Belacqua still had his dark blonde hair and Marisa's icy blue eyes — surprisingly warm and animate on her — but everything else about her seemed changed. He recognized no hint of peevishness in her stance; she appeared very much the capable young woman. There was a familiar ferocity in her eyes, and a new confidence in the way she stood.
Has it really been fifteen years since I saw her last? My. Perhaps it’s a good thing I never arrived at old age.
She wore a blue shirt in the Gyptian style and tanned leather riding breeches. Her altheiometer hung on her neck, and there was a dagger on her hip. She sat cautiously, as though prepared for him to speak first.
The great Lord Asriel found he had absolutely nothing to say.
The silence stretched on. He remembered she used to chatter like an ordinary child, eyes as innocent and shifting as her dæmon.
When his daughter found her voice, it was clear and even, with none of the breaks and occasional stammers she had once affected.
"I've been wondering, since I arrived here," Lyra said coolly, "what I should address you as." There was a chill in her voice, but also a note of genuine confusion. He knew her after all, he realized; he knew her because he knew Marisa and he knew himself and he knew the obligations placed on one by conscience, even if he himself had never felt them, despite the fact that he had had no hand in Lyra becoming who she was now. "What would you like me to call you?"
Lord Asriel found himself compelled, compelled beyond his patterned habits, to say, "Father." He found his voice at last. "Lyra, you came to the end of all the worlds to summon my ghost. Surely there is something you wanted to know."
Lyra half-smiled sadly. "I wanted to know... if you loved my mother, in spite of everything. And I wanted to know if I loved you. And... well. Will wanted your blessing."
"You didn't want to know if I loved you?" Lord Asriel asked in disbelief.
"If you hadn't loved me, you wouldn't have died for me," replied Lyra immediately. "I've come a long way since Jordan College."
"Yes," he replied. "You have."
A pause stretched. He noticed her Pantalaimon, fluttering its nose in the wind. A pine marten. I was always curious about that.
Lyra replied in a note of command that he had often heard in his own voice, "Answer me."
At any other time from any other person, the request would have galvanized him. Now, it made his chest swell with... was that pride?
Yes. He supposed it was. He hesitated briefly. "Will has always had my blessing. He should know that. You are well-suited to one another."
"Thank you," said Lyra.
Another pause stretched.
"I loved Marisa Sheppard when I was a reckless seventeen-year-old. And I love her now, in spite of everything. As she puts it, we're a match made in Hell."
Lyra favored him with a nod. "Good. That's the most important thing a father can do for his daughter. Love her mother."
Another pause stretched, but the silence was contemplative rather than awkward.
"Do you forgive me?" Lord Asriel asked. There was no hint of vulnerability, only of curiosity. She could not have expected weakness from him — even Asriel's own daughter could never weaken him—but the question was appreciated all the same.
"When the baby's born, I will," she replied. It was a lie, but she owed it to him.
The fierce ghost expressed no indignation.
“I still can’t believe he let you travel this far in your condition. I locked your mother in her rooms,” Lord Asriel said, half-smiling at the memory. She’d escaped, of course, but at least he had tried.
"He wasn't happy," Lyra said blandly, "but Will doesn't let me do anything."
He could almost feel sorry for the Parry boy facing his daughter’s determination, but he only smiled again. "No. I suppose he doesn't." He hesitated, and then spoke again. "Name him Aral."
"And why is that?" Lyra asked, only amused. "And how do you know it’s a boy? We’re waiting.”
"No granddaughter of mine would allow her mother to journey so far so comfortably. It has to be a grandson." Lord Asriel paused. "I knew a Lord Aral. He was the most honorable man I ever met, and I am an excellent judge of character."
Lyra nodded. "Very well. He'll be Belacqua. Will's taking my name."
He nodded. "Of course. There will always be a Lord Belacqua.”
Lord Asriel sighed. "I must leave, Lyra. Your mother grows weary.”
She hesitated. "I lied.”
Lord Asriel quirked an eyebrow for one minute.
“I forgave you after the dead were released.”
With that last benediction-- her final gift-- Lyra Belacqua turned on her heel from her father, leaving him to the unending abyss.
The end of destiny is the beginning of salvation, he mused as Metatron took him back into his dark embrace. I was right after all
The shadows called him away again, and for the first time, he felt as though he were—not at peace; Lord Asriel was never at peace or resting—but, perhaps, ready to battle again.
Marisa spoke slowly, her anguish written plain on her face. "The child is all right, I suppose?" It was very clear how much of an effort the words were for her. They had known the risk she had taken when he had let her struggle alone.
And then, for more reasons than there were daughters or fathers, there were no more words.