Isabela plopped on Hawke's large bed with a sigh, crossing her booted legs midair as she made herself comfortable with one of her absolute, favorite reads.
The Champion's diary.
The woman was a clever bastard, and most of it was utter rubbish, but there were slivers of truth every now and again; hidden jewels to be found and exploited.
One need merely look beyond the bullshit.
And she supposed knowing the other as well as she did was worth something….
The pirate pried the bounded book open, flipping to a random page:
I was serenaded today! One of the many nobles vying for my hand paid a few Orlesian minstrels (two sovereigns a head—can you believe it?) to follow me wherever I went while I was out running errands. There's nothing quite like being regaled to embrace someone into your "magnificent bosom" so as to "release the aching desire of his fruitful loins" while picking up your underthings. Very romantic.
Hrm…And how does one show gratitude for such a thoughtful gesture? Maybe a fruit basket dedicated to those loins of his? Keep to theme?
You know what — I'll think on it.
She chuckled. Another page.
Isabela's a damn snoopy pirate. Is she mishandling you even now? Rummaging through your delicate folds without even the slightest hint of foreplay? And who knows where those hands of hers have been? Do try not to be too cross with her: I truly don't believe she can help herself. It's a disease of some sort. Though, I do always wonder what she thinks she'll find…
Perhaps, one day, I'll buy something utterly misleading and plant it in my room…Say, an unabridged copy of the Chant signed by her Grace—or perhaps a ring!
Now that would be great for a laugh, don't you think, Diary?
Isabela rolled her eyes.
The woman was a brat.
Snooping was clearly a part of her charm.
"Well, well…" the pirate tossed a glance over her shoulder, lowering her legs to see Hawke enter the large bedroom with a tired smile, "Bodahn said you were here but this is a pleasant surprise." Auburn eyes flicked to what she held, amused. "Vile pirate — after my secrets yet again?"
"And anything else I can get my hands on." She smirked. "Do you know the going rate these days for embarrassing stories on Kirkwall's 'beloved' Champion?"
"I'm sure I could guess…." rolls of parchment were carelessly deposited onto her already notoriously cluttered desk. "Were you gentle, at least?"
"Am I ever?"
Gaile chuckled softly, glancing up from the absolute mess of documents only to smile at her again. That same, stupid smile that always made her insides quiver and everything else in her chest feel too tight.
This was the part, Isabela was sure, where she was supposed to say something to properly welcome the other back to her estate after a long day of foolishly solving the world's problems.
The pirate abandoned the diary, scooting to the edge of the bed. "You look like shit."
"Do I?" Hawke grinned, a pale shade to what she could normally muster—and why did she notice these things? "Because I feel like it as well. Nice to see my body's consistent." The other exhaled jadedly, leaning against a wall and massaging her forehead; Isabela felt a frown before she'd even known she'd done it. "This headache's a killer…."
"What happened?" Soft.
"Politics." A sigh. "Always politics… Orsino and Meredith are still at each other's throats. But it's…different, somehow. Worse." A laugh barely there. "I truly didn't think it possible." Slender brows knitted tightly. "The mages — the templars: I never expected them to frolic, hand in hand, toward the Gallows, but…it's too tense now. All of it tearing apart at the seams…." Isabela caught the slump in the other's form — could suddenly see the absolute…burden hidden behind that humor. How crippling it all was…. "I don't…" a heavier tone; parted lips, "think I can stop it…."
The rogue's eyes closed…slumped body descending the rest of the way to the floor.
"Hawke?" She hated the betrayal of her voice, how her heart beat a pace quicker.
Gaile only chuckled, waving her off. "I'm fine." She peeked an eye open. "Just… a bit tireder than I thought."
Isabela clucked her tongue, rising from the bed. "This city's running you ragged."
"You know," a grin crept into her tone, "the city says the same thing to me about you."
A smirk. "Yes, but I screw you in a good way." Standing before her now, she bent down, capturing the other's hand, only to pull the woman to her—pressing close. "Why must you insist on helping everyone? Haven't you done enough?" More than enough if she were any judge—which she was sure she wasn't—but the point stood, regardless. "Every single person in this damned city's just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for you to clean the mess afterward." No fancy title was worth the way Kirkwall treated her. Like a tool. "We could leave." Their eyes locked. "On my ship." Their hips met. "Tonight." Their lips brushed. "Sail away from this utter shit storm waiting to happen…."
Hawke kissed her in that deep—infuriating—slow…way of hers, making her toes curl in her boots… before the connection was broken and the other looked away, shamed. "The mages… If Bethany were here…" sadness, the one that never fully went away — that she could never fully cast away; Hawke unwrapped herself from her clutches, turning as she headed towards her bed. "You could always go without me." A soft pause. "I didn't help you acquire a ship only to hold you back, Isabela."
"I'm not leaving." Resolute. The words out before she even had a chance to think of stopping them. "Not without you."
She'd already done that. Tried to leave these pesky emotions behind only to end up right back where she started. Beyond that…Kirkwall would not have the other so easily.
The woman belonged on her ship. Nowhere else.
A grateful glance back.
Another of those smiles.
Isabela looked away. Not…knowing what to do with it.
Gaile grinned—before falling, face first, on the bed.
"Soft," she dug into the pillow, "Mm…"
"Hawke." No response. "You're still in your armor."
The rogue mumbled into her pillow.
She sighed. "You're unbearable. Here…" Isabela made her way to her, fingers finding their way under supple leather, tugging on one of her boots.
The other whined, squirming. "Just let me die in peace…"
"There'll be none of that." Another boot yanked away. "How is that body of yours going to recover if you sleep with all these damned layers on?" Her brows furrowed, hands continuing to strip her. "You've always been absolute shit at taking care of yourself."
A flash of auburn; that crooked grin. "That's why I have you." A sudden heat made its way to her cheeks. She would smack her. "I've done it before, you know—the armor thing. More times than I've cared to count." Hawke no longer looked her way, face hidden within the burgundy pillow once more. "I would simply…pass out; I hardly ever made it to this bed. Poor Bodahn would have to drag me to the nearest couch or chair to save me from being on the floor."
A clasp unlatched. "How did you sleep?"
"Terribly." A muffled chuckle. "But that's what alcohol's for."
Guilt tightened her throat; seized her chest:
The nights she hadn't been here….
Isabela flipped the other woman on her back, grasping the hem of her simple shirt and pulling it up her torso. "Lift your arms."
Hawke raised a brow, but, otherwise, obeyed without a word, the pirate snaking a hand under to remove the fabric that secured her breasts, more and more of the caramelized skin revealed as the last of her upper vestments were discarded.
Their eyes met.
Isabela leaned forward, the other rising to meet her lips—only to have the pirate smoothly evade her intentions; target her forehead instead.
Gaile's eyes widened.
Another flip. The pirate shadowed the body beneath her, tugging her glove off before slipping both hands between her breasts…releasing them to press against the other's naked back and pin her there.
The rogue chuckled. "I don't not like this…"
Isabela smirked. "You goose — I'm giving you a massage." The pirate straddled her hips, kneading the firm skin beneath the pads of her fingertips. "Though, I'm not adverse to the other thing…Even if you don't seem to have the energy for it."
"Bite your tongue!" She laughed; Hawke sighed. The tight muscles she worked immediately relaxed under her touch. "But I would like to know…" a shiver, "the occasion…."
"You looked like you could use one." That… She should add more, shouldn't she? "It's also an excuse to have my way with this back of yours." The flat of her palm pressed against a particularly stubborn knot, rubbing it repeatedly with deep, slow strokes. "You make the most delicious sounds…" her fingers suddenly arched, scratching down the length of her spine, "when I play with it."
"Do…" a gasp, "I…?"
"Mm." She gave in affirmation, pressing her breasts against her as she lowered her lips to the puckered scar there, trailing kisses on either side. "You become quite the vocalist…" the pirate continued to kiss lower, licking the subtle crease that began to disappear the further she went down, "Vocal is good. It means you know what you want."
"Bela…" it was practically a purr.
A kiss. "Yes, sweet thing?"
"Harder." A shiver of her own — there something about being told what to do, hearing the results right after…. "Right where you are. Maker… It feels…" she moaned, long and sweet, "you feel…so damn good…"
She pressed her lips to the small of her back, sucking and nipping the sensitive skin before lifting to massage the spot firmly with her thumbs.
"Yes — there…" her body arched, "Ohhh…Perfect…" Gaile breathed, clutching her pillow tightly…until her body went completely slack again.
Isabela smirked. The other did love to put on a show.
And what a show it was… If the woman hadn't been made utterly spent by the day, she would've had her for the entirety of the night. Wholly abuse her back until Hawke was hoarse, positively screaming her name….
But as it were…
Isabela's hands leisurely rubbed back to where she began, soft, repetitive motions focused around her shoulder blades until she felt the other's breathing start to slow.
"Oh…" she cooed, "Is the mighty 'Champion' falling asleep?"
A grin. "You're a sorry liar." She continued to knead her upper back. "And this could be what I had planned all along…."
"You made a plan?" Her voice was low, "Shit…"
The pirate chuckled.
With a surprising burst of strength, Gaile moved to roll over and Isabela let her; the other's fingers brushed her cheek. "Will you stay?"
It was the look in those auburn orbs that made the decision for her.
Hawke hooked her arms around her neck, pulling and lifting until their lips met; soft and sweet in a way that knotted her stomach and made her heart feel like the blasted unstable thing it always was when the other was near.
Their lips parted and there was that…flicker in Hawke's eyes—as if she were scared, scared of what she was about to say… The rogue released her, falling back to the pillow once more with shut eyes.
Isabela hesitated. "Hawke…"
"I…" what should she say? That she enjoyed this? Enjoyed being there for her—wanted to be there for her? More? Was that…normal? "Hope you sleep well."
"I will." A gentle murmur. "You're far better at this than Bodahn."
And somehow, in her own, clever way, without saying much of anything, she'd managed to say everything.
"Well…" Isabela felt her brows furrow, "good."
The other smiled her smile, holding her close in a way that made feeling like a stuttering, fumbling fool worth it.