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Blackbird is a series of Arrowverse fan fics by Ray_Writes. It explores an Alternate Universe where it was Sara who went on the yacht with Oliver, and yet it's Laurel who ends up with the League of Assassins. As for how, well...

Official Summary (In the Dead of Night): Oliver Queen returns to Starling City after five years away, three years after Sara Lance was found and rescued by her mother. More troubling to him is Laurel's abrupt and unexplained absence from the city for the same length of time that her sister's been home.

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Three years into the past, Dinah Lance makes a terrible choice.

Part 1 is now complete.

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Dinah is emotionally abusive to Laurel, though Laurel doesn't really realize it until Dinah sells her out to the League to get Sara back.
    • When drunk at least, Quentin is verbally and emotionally abusive to Laurel as well, and (just like Dinah) blames Laurel for what happened to Sara. The fact that he was too busy drinking and wallowing in self-pity to notice that Laurel was missing for three years doesn't speak well of him either, even if he does feel guilt over it.
    • Both of them are this to Sara as well, though of the neglectful variety. When they weren't spoiling her rotten and letting her get away with murder, they were ignoring her and failing to give her any sufficient moral support. Tellingly, Sara has been slowly wasting away over the last three years and neither of them have noticed and/or have attempted remedy the situation. When you look at it objectively, Sara is as much of a victim of their bad parenting as Laurel was, just in a less obvious and seemingly more palatable fashion. To Quentin's credit, this is mostly because Dinah has been deliberately monopolizing Sara and keeping her away, and Sara herself is avoiding Quentin because of the guilt of what happened to Laurel. Once Laurel comes back, Sara all but begs Quentin to let her move in with him, calling life with Dinah 'stifling'.
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    • Ra's is also harsh and dismissive to Nyssa, and even threatens to punish her just for speaking out of turn one too many times.
  • Accomplice by Inaction: This is Sara's real crime against Laurel. Dinah is the one who made the deal with Ra's, and Sara stood by and let it happen. Also deconstructed in the sense that Sara was in no mental condition to act anyway; she had just gotten out of a severe traumatic experience at the time and was in psychological shock during these events, so in some ways Dinah forced the decision on her almost as much as she did Laurel. In the end, however, it doesn't completely excuse her, and she knows it, which is why she's been punishing herself for the last three years.
  • Acquitted Too Late: Peter Declan is executed before Oliver can prove that he was framed.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • On top of what she went through in canon (Oliver and Sara's infidelity and "deaths", her mother abandoning her, and her father's shoddy treatment of her) being handed over to the League by her own mother has left Laurel in a much worse state than her show counterpart.
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    • Sara as well, who is still traumatized by the Amazo and has been eaten alive by the guilt of what happened to Laurel for years.
  • Adaptational Badass/Adaptational Wimp: Like in all stories where it's Laurel who joins the League, Laurel is the one with the badass assassin skills while Sara is an Action Survivor in comparison.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Quentin's alcoholism at the beginning of the story is even worse than it was in canon because Laurel isn't present to be a mitigating influence. This means that Dinah didn't just destroy Laurel and Sara, she destroyed Quentin too. It's only after learning about Laurel's disappearance that he starts controlling it better.
  • Always Save the Girl:
    • The moment Oliver learns about what happened to Laurel, he devotes all his energy into finding a way to free her.
    • Laurel herself pulls off all the stops trying to save him from his duel with Ra's, even silently urging him to run with her hand on her sword, implying that she would cover his escape. Later, when it appears that Ra's has killed him, she tries to intervene even though it will mean her death as well, and has to be restrained by her fellow assassins.
    • This is why Sara and Dinah never told Quentin about the deal. He would've gone to save Laurel himself, fail, and gotten everyone killed.
  • The Atoner:
    • Oliver, naturally, after he finds out what really happened to Laurel. He puts himself through Training from Hell just to get her back from the League.
    • Sara has never forgiven herself for allowing her mother to trade Laurel for her. To the point that she outright expects her sister to kill her when they finally see each other again.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Despite everything that's happened between them, Oliver and Laurel still love each other. Oliver trains his ass off so he can save Laurel from the League, and Laurel loses all control of herself and has to be restrained when it seems like he's about to be killed by Ra's al Ghul during their duel for her freedom.
    • Thea has been caustic with Oliver ever since he returned home, mostly due to being a Bratty Teenage Daughter and misconstruing a lot of his actions to be something more deplorable than they actually are. However, when she learns that he's about to enter a Duel to the Death with the world's greatest assassin she's genuinely worried, and when she actually sees him dying after said duel, she's driven to tears. Notably, after Oliver is saved by the Pit, she refuses to leave his side at all until she's forced to.
  • Awful Truth:
    • Quentin Lance has been spitting abuse about his daughter Laurel for the past five years, first to her face and then to her sister over the phone after it seems like she abandoned him. Then her ex-boyfriend Oliver is rescued and voices his doubts about Laurel's "departure" to him. Quentin initially dismisses his concerns, but the thought doesn't leave his mind, so he does some investigating himself with his old partner. A few hours later, it becomes clear to him that the daughter he's been verbally abusing didn't been abandon him, but was actually kidnapped and has been missing for the past three years.
    • What really happened to Laurel is this to Oliver, and later to Thea and Tommy. It's so bad that no one, not even Laurel herself, has any plans to tell the full truth to Quentin after she's freed, because they know that the guilt will kill him.
  • Berserk Button: Sara is one for Laurel. Unlike Oliver, Laurel isn't happy to see her again at all and it's clear the only thing stopping her from lashing out is a combination of her training and the current situation they're in.
  • Blackmail: Malcolm uses Walter's safety to force Oliver into making him his successor as Ra's al Ghul.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Like many of Ray_Writes' stories, the Lances. It's telling that the person who ultimately came through for Laurel in the end was the ex-boyfriend who cheated on her with her sister (even if said ex-boyfriend has changed significantly since they last saw each other) and the aforementioned sister instead of her parents, who either failed to realize she had been kidnapped for three years because they were too busy wallowing in alcoholic self-pity (Quentin) or arranged the kidnapping to save her other daughter in order to assuage her own guilt (Dinah). In the end, despite the parents' desperate attempts to blame the family's issues on Oliver and his relationship with Laurel, all the relationship actually did was just expose and magnify the problems that were already there.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Very darkly invoked. Dinah justifies trading Laurel for Sara under the "rationale" that as Sara's big sister, Laurel knows it is her responsibility to protect Sara.
    • In the end, Laurel recognizes that Sara has been wasting away, finds it hard to hate her when she sees the toll it took on her, and sincerely wants Sara to get better, even if she can't help with it.
  • Birds of a Feather: Oliver and Laurel. Thea notes that Oliver is probably the only person who can really understand what Laurel's gone through, and the last chapter shows that in full, with Oliver being the only person Laurel is comfortable with when talking about the skills she learned from the League.
    • On the plane ride back from Nanda Parbat, Diggle is initially the only one who can approach and talk to Laurel. The fact that he's a stranger, and as such can't compare her to who she used to be, certainly helps; but his status as a retired soldier allows for some similarities. Also, they are the only ones to speak Arabic, allowing a private conversation.
  • Bleed 'em and Weep: After her first kill, Laurel is deeply rattled but manages to stay composed, if for no other reason than it was self defense. It's after her first actual assassination that she completely breaks down and vomits up everything in her stomach. Nyssa reassures her that it's a common reaction.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: After learning about the deal, Tommy and Thea are clearly unhappy with Sara. While Sara tries to rationalize their rightful anger as wrong, she is correct about one thing — they're in no real position to judge, seeing as they have never experienced the level of trauma everyone else on the plane has. As she puts it, they're still the "spoiled children" Oliver and her were before the Gambit, and have never had to make the kind of hard choices they've had to make for the past five years.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Laurel. By the time Oliver finds her again, she's close to shattering completely.
    • Sara as well. She's been living a half-life ever since her mother sold out her sister to a den of murderers for her freedom, and it's unclear how much longer she could've gone on like that. She even states that if Laurel decides to kill her when they see each other again, then she's fine with that.
  • Character Tics: Oliver is pleased to see that Laurel still has a stubborn line to her shoulders when she warns someone not to argue with her, and sees it as proof that part of the old her still exists.
  • Cool Big Sis: Despite not being related, Laurel was this to Thea. Thea remembers that Laurel would tell Tommy and Oliver off when they complained about Thea following them all around, got Oliver to help Thea with her homework some evenings even when it was his and Laurel’s date night, and even answered all of her questions about periods when her mom had been too caught up in grieving. It's what motivates Thea to talk to Laurel on the trip home, and reassures her that even if Laurel is (or was) an assassin, she'd never hurt Thea.
  • Cult: More than one person refers to the League as a cult of murderers.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Ra's utterly destroys Oliver in their fight, and it only ends in Mutual Kill because Ra's got cocky and dismissed the fight as over before it actually was, giving Oliver the opportunity to blindside him and break his neck.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: Quentin promised Laurel he'd attend the mock trial she was in. She found him drunk in a bar after it was over.
  • Death Seeker:
    • All the crimes Laurel was forced to commit under the League's banner has gradually ruined her over the course of her three years with them. If she wasn't one by the time Oliver found her, she was close to it.
    • Sara. Sara hates herself even more than Laurel does, even wishing that she had died on the Gambit. It's plainly clear that her desire to save Laurel stems from that death wish, as she knows that Laurel has every reason in the world to kill her when they finally see each other again, and by that point, would be perfectly capable and even willing to do it.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Laurel crossed it after Dinah traded her for Sara. It only got worse after she made her first kill, and by the time Malcolm sees her again, he notes that she wouldn't have lasted much longer before becoming an outright Death Seeker. The final nail in the coffin seemed to be when she learned of Ra's immortality, and that Nyssa's promise to release when she becomes the Demon's Head is a dream.
    • Sara crossed it at the same time as Laurel, and it's strongly implied that not only does she expect Laurel to kill her when they see each other again, she wants her to.
  • Determinator:
    • Dinah Lance refuses to accept that Sara is dead, and actually manages to track her down to Nanda Parbat, where the League of Assassins is headquartered. What comes next is the more horrifying aspects of such determination.
    • Once he learns the truth, Oliver will stop at nothing to find Laurel and set her free.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Oliver is struck by three of these right off the bat: Laurel is gone, Sara is alive and made it home (even if she's not in Starling City), and the Lances got divorced. Laurel's absence in particular throws him, as trying to get back to her was what kept in going the five years he was missing.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Dinah's decision, which Oliver lampshades. In her desperation to save Sara, she made the rash choice to trade Laurel, knowing she would lose one daughter in exchange for the other. She failed to account for how Sara herself would feel about the trade; once she finally got out of shock, Sara crossed the Despair Event Horizon all over again and has been a shadow of herself ever since. Essentially, in trying to save one daughter, she destroyed both of them.
    • Laurel notes that Oliver didn't really think through the unintended consequences of the method he used to free her from the League, though to his credit that was partly because it was the only option offered by Ra's that would allow them both to leave Nanda Parbat alive with minimal bloodshed.
  • Duel to the Death:
    • The final step to officially joining the League is to have one of these with a fellow recruit. This was where Laurel made her first kill, and she was only able to deal with it because it could easily be argued that it was self-defense.
    • Oliver and Ra's have one to determine Laurel's fate. It ends in a Mutual Kill, though Oliver is saved by the Lazarus Pit before he can actually die.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Everyone. It's telling that the most sympathetic characters after Laurel are Oliver, her cheating ex-boyfriend, and Sara, the sister he cheated her on with. That's how screwed up everyone else involved is, and they don't even have the same level of trauma as the former three to excuse it!
  • Easily Forgiven: Subverted. After Laurel is freed, it's clear she hasn't forgiven any of the people that have wronged her so much as that her training and self-hatred are preventing her from mustering up the energy to get angry at them. If she has forgiven anyone, it's Oliver, and even then that's because he's probably the only one who has genuinely earned it.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: When Thea hitches a ride on Oliver's plane trip to the Himalayas and sees Sara there with him, she initially believes they're trying to hook up again. At this point, the last person Oliver wants to be in a relationship with is Sara.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Nyssa finds the manner in which Laurel "joined" the League, and the threat against her city to keep her in line, utterly repulsive. So much so that she even promised Laurel that she would release her from her vow the moment she became Ra's. Unfortunately, the present time shows that there was no way Laurel would've been able to last that long. Her refusal to start a relationship with Laurel, despite indications of feelings on both sides, may also count.
    • Sara, to her credit, is well aware of how horrible this "trade" is, tried to talk her mother out of itnote , and has been wracked with guilt ever since.
    • Moira and Walter are also both horrified once they learn about the deal. For Moira in particular it hits close to home, considering that she is a mother herself, and the very idea of what Dinah did is unthinkable to her.
    • As angry as Laurel is at Sara, even she can't help but be worried when she sees how much Sara has been neglecting herself over the years. While she understandably can't be the person to help Sara, she sincerely hopes that someone else will try.
  • Flashback: Much like the actual show, every chapter can be divided in halves. One half shows Oliver and his search for Laurel, and eventually his attempt to get her back, and the other half shows Laurel's time with the League, including how she ended up there in the first place.
  • Foil: Oliver and Sara to Quentin and Dinah. Quentin was too stuck on himself and his alcohol to realize his eldest daughter had been kidnapped for years, while Oliver managed to figure out what happened to her as soon as he got home and found out she was gone, and then trained his ass off to rescue her. Dinah traded Laurel to the League to save Sara and felt little to no guilt about it due to her Insane Troll Logic rationalizations, while Sara recognized how horrible the "trade" was, regretted it immediately and all but destroyed herself in her remorse, before throwing her lot in with the first person she knew who had the will and means to save her sister years later. In the end, the two people who betrayed Laurel are the ones to prove their love for her and come through for her, while the parents that were supposed comfort and protect her failed to do so in every way imaginable.
    • Moira to Dinah: Moira would do anything to keep her both of children safe, where as Dinah will only do anything for one of her children. Tellingly, when Moira learns of the exchange, she is absolutely horrified, and as a mother can be barely stand to think of it.
    • Laurel to Malcolm. Both were members of the League of Assassins for years before being released. Laurel was slowly destroyed by years of killing people, Malcolm was not (and probably enjoyed it). Moira even notes that Laurel lacks the "cold menace" Malcolm had when he returned from the League, indicating that she is still a good person whereas he never was.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Laurel's absence has a subtle, but still overt effect on the events of the first season. Oliver is a lot harder than he was in canon, and Quentin wasn't able to hold his job as a detective down (or indeed, stay on the force at all) without her to help moderate his drinking. However, things don't really go off the rails until Oliver realizes that Laurel didn't actually leave Starling willingly. This eventually leads to the death of Ra's al Ghul two seasons earlier than in canon. Oliver replaces him, subsequently releases both Laurel and Nyssa from their vows, and gives control of the League to Malcolm, who in turn lets go of Walter and gives up his plans for the Undertaking.
    • Also, Peter Declan is executed as Oliver does not have a lawyer to help him with his crusade. CNRI is shut down as since Laurel doesn't work there, Oliver, Tommy, and Moira don't care about it enough to hold a fundraiser for it; to them it's just a random legal aid office. Firefly manages to kill all his targets (and himself), since in canon Joanna told Laurel about it, who in turn told the Hood.
  • Friendship Moment: On the plan ride back from Nanda Parbat, Thea is the one convince Laurel to come home with them. Oliver later recalls they talked for hours, before Thea fell asleep on Laurel's shoulder.
  • Guilt Complex: Oliver blames himself for Laurel's fate. While he does share some of the blame, it's tangential at best, and the ones really at fault are Dinah and, to a lesser extent, Sara. Arguably even Quentin holds more responsibility because he failed to actually keep an eye on Laurel due to his own grief and thus failed to realize she was kidnapped for years until Oliver pointed out how out-of-character her departure was. Even Laurel acknowledges this in the flashback where she finds out he's alive, though part of her is understandably still angry at him. In the present, when he tries to blame himself again she firmly cuts him off, telling him that he shouldn't take responsibility for the wrongs of other people.
  • Hate Sink: Dinah Lance. Selling out one daughter to save the other is bad enough, but when you try to rationalize it by victim-blaming the daughter you betrayed for what happened to the other one, you're gonna make everyone with a shred of decency that finds out want you dead.
  • I Have Your Wife: To force Laurel to fully commit to the League, Ra's says he will not just slaughter her family, but also all of Starling City if he finds her unsatisfactory in any way.
  • I Have No Mother!: In the last chapter, Laurel implicitly disowns Dinah as her mother. Even in her thoughts, she addresses Dinah by her first name.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: On the plane ride back from Nanda Parbat, Diggle takes advantage of the fact that only he and Laurel speak Arabic to have a private conversation with her.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Oliver kills Ra's (two years early), and makes Malcolm the head of the League of Assassins.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Dinah's poor rationalizations for her decision are an obvious veil to cover up her self-centered motives. How poor? She uses the make-believe games that Laurel and Sara played as kids, where Laurel always played the police officer that shielded Sara, as proof that Laurel is obligated to protect Sara no matter what, and thus deserves to take her place with the League. It's such a weak justification that the only reason Sara wasn't able to speak up against it harder was because of the recent traumatic experience she had just gone through.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • In the flashbacks, Laurel learns Oliver survived the Gambit from Maseo, who recognized her from the picture of her Oliver carried around.
    • The second half of the story sees Tommy and Thea learn about Oliver being the Hood and Laurel's true fate. Neither of them take it well, though they are coping for the most part.
    • The last chapter of the story sees Moira and Walter learn the above as well. In turn, everyone else learns about the Undertaking and the truth about the Gambit.
  • It Gets Easier/It Never Gets Any Easier: Discussed. After Laurel breaks down after killing her first target, Nyssa comforts her, assures her that's a common reaction and it will pass. Laurel expresses concern that killing people will get so easy, that she won't feel a thing anymore. Given how broken she is in the present, it probably didn't get easier.
  • It's All About Me:
    • It becomes very clear that Dinah's decision isn't driven so much by the desire to save Sara as it is to absolve herself of the guilt of letting Sara go onto the Gambit. Made all the more obvious by how much Sara has been able to destroy herself under Dinah's care, implying that her mother has completely failed to offer any real emotional support. Combined with how she kept them both away from Quentin even though she knew he was destroying himself with alcohol without Laurel around to mind him, it really makes you wonder if Dinah actually cares about her family at all.
    • Quentin himself was too busy drowning in self-pity to realize Laurel was missing. To his credit, he's genuinely horrified by that and throws himself into finding her immediately.
  • I've Come Too Far: Part of Dinah's rationale for trading Laurel for Sara. She acknowledges that between abandoning Laurel and letting Sara get on the Gambit, she's already lost Laurel. But she won't lose Sara too.
  • Jerkass Realization:
    • Quentin finally recognizes how much of an asshole he's been to everyone but especially to Laurel when he realizes that he completely failed to notice that his eldest daughter had been missing for three years. Worse yet, it was Oliver who pointed out how strange Laurel's departure was, which is just rubbing salt in the wound at that point.
    • After seeing Oliver near-death, learning about her father's true fate, and finding out about what really happened to Laurel, Thea finally begins to realize how small and insignificant her problems are in comparison.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: By Chapter Three, most of the readers have guessed that the "terrible choice" Dinah made was trading Laurel to the League of Assassins in exchange for Sara's freedom.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • Both Tommy and Thea end up on Oliver's trip to the Himalayas. Tommy because he provided the plane, Thea because she snuck on. The thing is, they have no idea why Oliver is going to the Himalayas (or why he took Sara with him), and neither of the aforementioned two, nor Diggle, are talking. It isn't until Malcolm enters the picture that they get some idea of what is actually going on.
    • Laurel has been deliberately isolated from the outside world beyond missions for the League for the past three years. Hence, she has never heard of Oliver's vigilante alter ego and doesn't understand the significance of him being the Hood.
    • By the end of the story, Quentin is the only character left in the dark about everything. This is deliberate, because everyone knows that if he finds out the full truth, it would destroy him.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Most of Oliver and Sara's interactions are mistaken by outsiders to be attempts to become intimate with each other again due to their previous affair. In reality, what happened to Laurel has effectively killed whatever interest they had in each other. Said interactions are mostly discussions (read: arguments) over how to get her back from the League.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Part of what convinces Oliver that there is something wrong about Laurel's disappearance. She is too confrontational to use the Silent Treatment, and even if she had left Starling City, she would have returned just to tell him and Sara how much they hurt her.
    • It takes Oliver to point it out, but Quentin also eventually notes that disappearing and staying gone doesn't fit her argumentative nature and that, above all else, she cares and wouldn't just simply vanish.
  • Only Sane Man: Sara is this for the Lances, sans Laurel. Unlike her parents, Sara fully acknowledges her fault in the situation and is desperate to make up for it by any means possible.
  • Parental Betrayal: Dinah already had this with her canon decision to let Sara sleep with Laurel's boyfriend, but she gave this trope an ugly new face when she traded Laurel for Sara.
  • Parental Favoritism:
    • Dinah. Lance. She even goes as far as to blame Laurel for what happened to Sara just because she was the one who was dating Oliver and brought him into their lives. She refuses to admit that Sara's choices were her own and she only has herself (and unbeknownst to everyone, Malcolm Merlyn) to blame for what happened.
    • Even before that the Gambit, Laurel was aware that both of her parents favored Sara, even if she (Laurel) was the one they were proud of. Quentin because she was the baby of the family, Dinah because Sara reminded her of herself when she was younger.
    • Nyssa tries to comfort Laurel by commenting that she also knows what it is like to be the unfavorite child. Presumably she has too much of a soul to be a "good" heir.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • Quentin failed to realize that Laurel had been kidnapped for over three years because he was too deep in his cups with his grief over Sara's (supposed) loss. Knowing what happened to Laurel, it's hard to feel a lot of sympathy for him.
    • The Lances basically let Sara get away with figurative murder because she was the baby of the family, and completely failed to parent her at all. Notably, this extends even after she gets back — Quentin has made no genuine effort to actually build a relationship with Sara and Dinah is willfully ignorant of how her 'favorite' daughter has been slowly killing herself over the last three years due to the guilt over what happened to Laurel. To Quentin's credit that's partially because Sara and Dinah have both been avoiding him. Then, in the last chapter, Sara asks to move in with him, which he happily agrees to, fulling averting this trope.
  • Parents as People: Quentin. For all his neglect and verbal and emotional abuse, he does love Laurel and Sara. Once he realized that Laurel had actually been missing for the past three years, he threw himself into finding her immediately, even though he was no longer a member of the SCPD. In fact, one of the reasons why Sara and Dinah never told him about the deal is because they knew he would've never approved, would've tried to get Laurel back himself, and would've gotten them all killed (along with the rest of Starling City).
  • Pet the Dog: Pretty much all of Nyssa and Laurel's interactions, aside from the Training from Hell.
  • The Power of Love: Ultimately, what gives Oliver the strength and will to finally kill Ra's is remembering that Laurel will die with him if he fails.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Sara just got out of a traumatic experience that saw her suffer several near-death experiences, a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome, heavily implied rape, and the presumed death of her only remaining friend (Oliver). She was so badly in shock and so desperate to go home that she is literally unable to scrounge up more than a token protest when her mother trades her sister for her. Unsurprisingly, when she finally gets out of said shock and realizes what she and her mother just did, she falls into a pit of self-hatred that leaves her a shadow of herself with implied Death Seeker tendencies. While it doesn't completely excuse her from what happened, it does make her more sympathetic than everyone involved in the situation besides Oliver and Laurel herself.
    • Whatever is left Oliver and Sara's relationship is unsalvageable after he learns about what happened to Laurel. While Oliver is sympathetic to her plight, he cannot find it in himself to forgive her for her part in what happened. The two can hardly consider each other to be friends now, let alone anything more than that.
    • Sara has barely been taking care of herself for the last three years. Thus, she's barely able to handle the hike up the Himalayas to Nanda Parbat, so much so that Oliver (who hasn't been all that charitable to her lately) is genuinely worried she'll keel over.
    • Malcolm isn't an idiot. Once he learns Oliver is going to the Himalayas, it doesn't take long for him to figure out that Oliver is the Hood and where exactly Laurel's actually been for the last three years.
    • No amount of extra training is ever going to fully prepare Oliver for a duel with a man that has centuries of experience on him.
    • When she isn't carrying out missions for the League, Laurel was stationed at the culturally isolated Nanda Parbat and presumably didn't receive any news about Starling City (either by nature or by deliberation). Hence, she has never heard about the Hood and doesn't understand the gravity of Oliver being him is.
    • After three years of breaking countless laws, Laurel has lost any desire to be a lawyer, believing she's lost any right to that dream. Instead, she becomes a bouncer for Oliver's club, figuring she might as well use the skills she learned from the League for something legal and useful.
  • Sadistic Choice: For Sara, this was what Dinah's choice boiled down to for her. She could've protested Dinah's idea to trade Laurel for her, stayed with the League, and suffered Training from Hell to become an assassin and let the killing destroy what was left of her already tattered soul. Or she could've gone with it, let her innocent sister (who she already betrayed by running off with said sister's boyfriend) suffer in her place while she goes home and lives with the guilt of what she let her mother do for the rest of her life. She ultimately chooses the latter, and has hated herself ever since.
  • The Scapegoat: Both of Laurel's parents try to blame all the family's troubles post-Gambit on Laurel's relationship with Oliver, and thus by extension Laurel herself. They refuse to acknowledge that, in the end, what happened to Sara was her own fault (and Malcolm Merlyn's, but that's an entirely different kettle of fish). All Oliver did was the make the offer; Sara is the one who accepted, and everything that followed after, including what happened to Laurel, was either the result of her choices or of Dinah's.
    • Defied later by Laurel herself. While Oliver blames himself for what happened to her, she refuses to do so saying she's placed the blame for what happened where it belongs.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • What most people thought Laurel did when the League took her. Thea at least, didn't blame her for wanting to leave.
    • Once the trade has been made, Dinah grabs Sara and runs, at least in part because she could see that Sara was already trying to stop it.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Quentin and Dinah blame Oliver for inviting Sara on the Gambit and Laurel for dating Oliver in the first place. Neither one seem to realize that Sara chose to get on the boat. Dinah does blame herself for letting Sara go, but Quentin doesn't seem to realize yet the role his parenting played in the situation. On top of that, Sara fully acknowledges and accepts her fault in the situation, and has the appropriate guilt to show for it, which makes her parents' obliviousness all the more damning in comparison.
    • Dinah also justifies trading Laurel for Sara by arguing that as the older sibling, it is Laurel's responsibility to protect Sara. It does not occur to her that as their mother, it is her responsibility to protect both of them.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • Any hopes of Oliver/Sara die after Oliver finds out about Laurel's fate. The two constantly bicker and Oliver can barely stand to look at her, let alone be in her presence.
    • Nyssa is very comforting to Laurel, and Laurel even thinks in another life she could have fallen in love with Nyssa; but the circumstances of Laurel's membership with the League prevents anything from developing. Unlike Sara in canon (who joined the League of her own free will, even if it was under duress), Laurel was forced into the League by her own mother and kept there due to the threat against her city and the loved ones that lived in it. To Nyssa she will always be a victim, and that barrier keeps them apart.
    • In the last chapter, Tommy admits to Oliver that he was planning on asking Laurel out when he got back from Hong Kong. Now, with everything that's happened, he's given up on that and subtly pushes Oliver to get back together with her.
  • Shipper on Deck: As the truth gradually comes out, more than one person has expressed the desire for Oliver and Laurel to get back together again. Partially due to Oliver having changed to become a much better person, and partially because he's probably the only person who can really understand and connect with Laurel now.
  • Slut-Shaming: As one flashback shows, if Laurel wore a skirt instead of pants, Quentin would dismiss her as a slut, and then say that was what allowed Oliver to use her to get to and kill Sara.
  • So Proud of You: While she's angry at him for putting himself in danger every night, Moira can't help but express pride in Oliver for managing to not only save their family but also Laurel as well.
  • There Are No Coincidences:
    • Oliver refuses to believe that Laurel disappearing shortly before Sara returned is a coincidence, and he's right.
    • When Walter is kidnapped, Thea is worried that it's the same people that took Laurel. This time, though, it really is a coincidence.
  • Training from Hell: Laurel's training with the League gets an in-depth look. As expected, it's every bit as breaking as Oliver's was.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • First Laurel finds out that her boyfriend cheated on her with her sister on the boat trip that (supposedly) killed both of them. Over the course of the following two years her parents divorce and she suffers emotional abuse from both of them because they blame her relationship with Oliver for what happened. Then she's kidnapped, finds out her sister is alive, and then is betrayed and sold out to a cult of murderers by her mother in exchange for the safety and freedom of said sister, and is forced to commit to said cult or else her entire city dies. She then suffers Training from Hell, and is forced into becoming a murderer herself in order to honor the deal. To say Laurel is a Broken Bird after all this would be a massive understatement.
    • Oliver has his canon one, in addition to the above situation with Laurel. While he's handling it well, it's clear that he isn't really any better off than Laurel is.
    • Sara doesn't have the trauma of joining the League of Assassins; instead, she has the guilt of living with the fact that her mother traded her sister for her freedom. As a result, she's arguably an even bigger Death Seeker than both Oliver and Laurel.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Deconstructed. Oliver's decision to invite Sara onto the Gambit exposes the Lances' Dysfunction Junction and ultimately destroys the family. It's deconstructed in that, again, all Oliver actually did was invite Sara; everything that followed was result of the Lances' choices, not him, and when it comes down to it he's actually relatively blameless in comparison. However, the Lances' Selective Obliviousness and Parental Favoritism means that they'd rather use him and Laurel as scapegoats rather than acknowledge their own faults in the situation.
  • Villain Respect:
    • Ra's al Ghul is impressed by Dinah's dedication to find her daughter, and is willing to make a trade out of respect for it.
    • Later, he shows some respect for Oliver when the latter manages to actual cut him during their duel. As he notes, few manage even that much.
    • When Laurel gets Oliver to release Nyssa from the League, Malcolm (who was planning on killing her as a show of force) is impressed and notes that Laurel was always the most clever of Tommy's social circle.
    • He also expresses some respect and admiration for Oliver over having the strength and will to not only challenge Ra's al Ghul, but also win.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • One of the reasons why Laurel doesn't want to tell Quentin the truth is because she fears he'll reject her for becoming a murderer, even though it was clearly under duress. However, she knows he's not that unreasonable, and so her bigger fear is that the guilt will kill him.
    • Sara also fears telling Quentin for this reason, because she knows her father would've never approved of the deal and might disown her for it. Unlike Laurel, however, this fear is much more understandable and likely.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Sara first came home, she came to the Queens to tell them that Oliver was dead and apologizes for not having any good news. Thea angrily asked is she's apologized to Laurel, which hits a lot closer to home than Thea was expecting.
    • After Laurel gets Oliver to release Nyssa from the League, Nyssa lets Laurel have it. Pointing out that that was Laurel's desire, not hers, and it has lead to her losing the only life and home she has ever known.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • In the end, Laurel's cheating ex-boyfriend and her sister, the one he cheated on her with, prove that they love her more than either of her parents ever did (or, in the case of Quentin, bothered to express) by saving her from the League and, in the case of the former, nearly dying in the process. Not only did they prove that they truly do care for her, but that they have also changed and become better people.
    • By contrast, Quentin's reaction to Laurel's abrupt departure is to assume she abandoned him and resent her for the next three years, while Dinah outright traded her for her sister because she didn't want to live with her own guilt of letting Sara go on the Gambit. To say nothing of their treatment of Sara when they got back, where they rejoiced in her return and then summarily ignored her, allowing her to slowly self-destruct over the guilt of what happened to her sister. Ultimately, while Laurel's plight showed that Oliver and Sara were good people at heart who had changed for the better, it also revealed to her and to them what Quentin and Dinah really are: self-centered people and terrible parents.
  • Your Make Up Is Running: Defied. Despite how hurt she is after a fight with her father, Laurel refuses to cry on the grounds that she will not have runny make-up over this.
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