The thing about Merrill is that she is a decent person.
Like, a true decent person. I frankly don’t think, never thought, she loved Fenris or Anders; she is completely aware of how they dismiss and mistreat her, even more so as the game progresses. But she obviously holds for them the basic respect which should be given for granted to everyone. She treats them like equals, even after they shit on her over and over again.
I think this is what confuses fandom so much. Often Merrill gets characterized as someone who loves all members of Hawke’s gang equally, or as if she truly considers Anders and Fenris to be friends or part of some new sort of clan/family, and…. that’s really not it. Merrill has a lot of self-respect, albeit deeply in conflict with self-loathing that seems to be the only logical consequence of the way her clan and Keeper have been praying on her atypical character (not to say literally bullying her for it). But she stands up for herself, and quite firmly. It takes +9 years of being treated like a pariah and worse, and being cruelly punished for standing against peer pressure, that she breaks down in front of Hawke. She is not turning the other cheek and saying “lord, forgive them, they don’t know what they do”. She is acutely aware of the shitty stuff they are doing unto her (and others), and of the injustice of it all, and yet she never bends down to treating people like they are less than people…. unlike how most around her treat her.
Merrill is not a steady wave of inconditional love flowing out of her pixie-angel bosom. The only thing about Merrill that is inconditionally given to other people is respect.
I’ve seen a lot of headcanons floating around about how the Samwell boys will react once they realize that Jack’s “girl” is a baker, mostly that…
A) This is the lightbulb moment: “The One Where Everybody Finds Out.”
B) It goes completely over their heads.
BUT! I present a third option.
We know the boys can be a bit… dense, when it comes to their teammates’ love lives. The boys have NO reason to believe Jack is anything but straight, so they’re not going to go straight from “girlfriend + good cook” to “JACK IS GAY AND SECRETLY DATING OUR CLOSE MUTUAL FRIEND WHO IS ALSO A GOOD COOK”
Also, the team (+Lardo) has seen Tater ask Jack about his girlfriend who cooks. In the comic, they seem to brush it off as Tater being funny/teasing Jack.
So say they come up to a Falconers game and the fateful SMH-Tater meeting occurs. Ransom manages not to faint, EMTs are not called, and adult conversations are had (kinda).
Then, somehow, someone mentions Bitty’s pies. Let’s make it Chowder, bless his poor, excitable, well-meaning heart. It could go something like…
Chowder: You were great!! Even the warm-ups were cool!!!I’m so glad we made it, I thought we were going to be late because Bitty took so long to pack up his pies! Oh, sorry, Bitty!!
Bitty: Well I wasn’t about to come to the game empty-handed!
Jack: Priorities, eh? I see how it is, Bittle.
Tater: You bring pie??
Bitty: I sure did! Plenty for the whole team to share. I’m leaving them with Jack so ya’ll can enjoy after practice tomorrow, but if you want a slice now I can run back to the car–
Jack: Bittle, no–
Tater: No no! I wait. Something to look forward to, a-ha! Did Jack’s girl bake them? He share pies from girlfriend before! So good! Why she no bring them herself?
So now, here, the hockey hive-mind is spinning. Our boys are dumb, yes, but they aren’t dumb enough that they won’t draw SOME conclusion.
And that leads to…
C) They realize Jack’s “girlfriend” IS Bitty, but they think it’s a hilarious misunderstanding.
It’s a pretty natural assumption from their standpoint: Bitty sends Jack pies. Jack shares pies with Tater & the team. Team assumes its from a girlfriend. Jack is too awkward to correct them. Thus, Bitty is Jack’s “mystery girlfriend.”
Do they think Bitty is ACTUALLY dating Jack? Of course not.
Are they still going to chirp them within an inch of their lives? Oh hell yes.
Jack and Tater get called back to the locker room, but that doesn’t mean he escapes it. The SMH group chat BLOWS UP, even before they leave the stadium: “BROS HWO COULD U NOT TELL US?” (Ransom) and “DIBS ON BEST BRO AT THE WEDDING BRO” (Holster) and “Jack dude you brought this upon yrslf” (Lardo) and “Oh wow Bitty’s Halloween costume makes so much more sense now” (Chowder) and “ASLJKA;siQIWNDwnlqkAjk;dVXN,aisd” (Ransom & Holster)
Even Tater gets in on the action, chirping Jack once they get back to the locker room: ‘Why you not correct me, huh? I can keep secret that you single, have only teammate to cook for you, ha ha.” ( “Ha ha :/ ” - Jack )
And on the drive Samwell, Bitty is subjected to comments like ‘Oh hey Bitty it’s not too cold is it? You’re fine? I guess our former Canadian Captain really rubbed off on you, eh?’ and ‘Hey lets do a beer run on the way back Bitty can pay he’s got a hockey sugar daddy now.’ ( “STOP >:( ” - Bitty )
And they brush it off well, but the whole time, Bitty and Jack are TERRIFIED. Suddenly there’s another layer to this lie they have to live. They have to toe the line of indulging the joke and discouraging it, acting normal and watching their backs, all without drawing suspicion.
For Jack, it’s another source of stress, the idea that this very special but very private part of his life is now out of his control and in the hands of his friends, who are good guys but don’t understand the damage they could do to his career/life if they were to be careless with it.
And then there’s Bitty, who has to deal with it every day. Bitty, who has never been in a real relationship and wants to bask in the attention he’s getting–even if the chirps are at his expense, because they come from a place of love, and he likes to think (hopes, prays) that his friends would react just the same if they knew that he & Jack were dating for real.
But then a week passes, then two, and they relax a bit when they realize their friends are morons and really do have no clue.
Instead, Jack & Bitty get frustrated, because every time Bitty texts Jack or tries to Skype, someone is there, leaning over his shoulder, sticking their head into his room, chirping, making kissy faces or obscene gestures, and generally being obnoxious as possible as they try to encourage Zimbits to “express their love,” while in reality they are being the opposite and the biggest cockblocks ever.
The first time Jack visits the Haus afterward everyone pelts him with rice as soon as he enters the door. When Bitty goes up to visit Jack one weekend, he finds a “care package” - condoms, lube, giant dildo (“I don’t know which is worse, one of y’all actually bought one of these, or someone had it just lying around”) - hidden in his suitcase. Soon after The Reveal, Shitty gets stoned, gets ordained online, and makes a solemn oath to fight anyone to the death who will stand in the way of his officiating the “greatest celebration of love and bros and hockey’s triumph over heteronormativity ever celebrated.”
(Shitty does get to officiate the wedding, eventually. Lardo is Jack’s Best Bro, and Ransom and Holster are Bitty’s Co-Best Bros, and at the wedding reception every single member of the hockey team swears up and down to anyone who will listen that they were the only one who knew Jack and Bitty were really dating, they just didn’t want to give the secret away because they’re cool like that.)