Lady Hawke x Varric.
Incredibly shippy.
Cordia Hawke (female, rogue).

A peal of laughter echoed throughout one of the many Tethras residences dotted throughout Kirkwall, followed by a barely concealed low-pitched chuckle and a quiet, "Ssh!"

Varric wrapped an arm around Hawke's waist, pulling her closer to him to keep her from knocking anything over in the densely decorated hallways. "Manners, Slim," he muttered, grinning and pressing his face into her shoulder blade, intent on setting a good example for the sort-of-a-little-drunk Champion by not joining her in the ruckus. "People are sleeping. It's almost morning."

"S'why they should be awake!" Her eyes popped open, and she covered her mouth with her palm, a bubble of laughter only stifled by the index finger she held to her lips. Her voice dropped into an almost conspiring whisper, thick brows knitting over the bridge of her nose. The suddenly serious expression had her companion snorting back a laugh of his own. "It's why they should be awake. Stop looking at me like that. M'serious."

"Of course you are, Cordy. That last pint had nothing to do with this." Despite the deadpan in his voice, there was something faint and adoring about his expression. Maybe it was in his eyes or the tiny curve at the corner of his mouth, but it was there.

Leaning down, Hawke gave him a kiss on the bridge of his nose. "Of course not," she muttered, the corners of her eyes crinkling in a smile as she grasped for his hand to half-drag him along with her.

She couldn't be bothered to count the number of times she'd made her way down these hallways in the dead of night. At first, it was due to her own little insecurities and the thrill of having a secret love affair with the best sort of scoundrel. Then, sneaking into his bedroom at night (knocking at his door with their quiet, secret code – twice, twice, once, and twice again so as not to have Bianca pointed in her face upon entering) was a necessity due to how busy both of them were. And now, well – they had reason to celebrate, and those celebrations often lasted well into the next day.

By the time they reached his bedroom, Cordia nearly barreled down the door, throwing it open and hurrying in, leaving him to close it and latch the lock. When he'd barely had time to turn around, his eyes latched onto the sight of her bare shoulders and back, all freckles, pale skin, and even paler scars. She wasn't wasting any time, was she?

"Nngh," he heard from her direction as he shrugged off his coat and placed it on the hanger near the door. "Beth's belt. I grabbed the wrong one."

Varric gave a warm laugh, holding out his hand as she turned to him with all the casualness of someone who'd been naked directly in front of him so often she didn't even realize she was standing there in her trousers and breast bind. After a couple of years together, such coyness would've been more of a slight on him than a flaw on her part. "Give it here," he said, "I'll put it somewhere you can find it."

She wandered over to him, tugging the belt from around her trousers with a little grunt of exertion. "Dunno how it got into my things," she sighed, letting the strip of leather fall into Varric's outstretched palm. "I don't wear red. I don't like silly little designs either."

"Something wrong?" he asked, shuffling to fold the belt and place it on the low-lying table at his side. "You haven't seemed too pleased with your sister lately."

Cordia didn't even try to stifle her groan. "She doesn't like you," came her simple and relatively tactless response, hands pawing over the folded fabric at his waist until his own belt came loose and she was able to get at his tunic. "Said I should be trying to help Sebastian. I shouldn't focus so much of my time on you. Bullshit, I say; truth, she says." Her fingers toyed with the intricate threading of his tunic, eyes narrowed at the details, though her mind was elsewhere in a big way. "When she realized I wasn't going to agree with her, she got flustered. Said your chest hair was unattractive."

One of Varric's brows shot upward, a confused expression crossing his features. "What's the big deal about my chest hair anyway?" His face was so incredulous, she laughed at him again. She couldn't help it. "I never did get that. It's just sodding chest hair. Humans grow it, too."

"But not in such excess," Cordia chuckled, the backs of her knuckles brushing over his sternum. "She said, 'I don't see what you like about him so much anyway. He's so short and hairy.' I couldn't think of anything to say to her. It was ridiculous." Her palm ran over one of his pectorals, sliding under the fabric of the tunic with a devious little smile. With every movement, her head sunk lower, closer to his face. "I like it, though. I like it a lot."

Tilting his chin upwards, Varric brushed a kiss over the corner of her mouth, his hands settling on her waist with a gentle squeeze. "Still don't see the big deal."

"Have you seen Fenris after he's been out in the sun for too long? Looks like a roasted nug." Hawke bumped her forehead against his, fingers clumsily pawing at the buttons of his tunic. "I like my men hairy. I thought we'd embraced this as a general truth. Sky's blue. Grass is green. I like your chest, hair and all. It's a simple fact of life."

"You're drunk."

"Mm... yeah, I am. So?"

Varric laughed again, shaking his head. "You're a mess when you're drunk," he pointed out, though she didn't seem very concerned with the idea. He'd seen her in worse shape, after all. His chest rose and fell with a little huff of contemplation. "So this conversation you had with Beth."

Cordia's face was so close to his now that he could even see the tiny wrinkle that pinched between her brows, the downward curve of her lips. "Happened before I got to the tavern. S'why I was late." She glanced up at him, clearly unamused with the turn this conversation was making. "What's the point, Var? She's never liked the idea of us together. She doesn't understand."

Her face fell at the feeling of his hand sliding up the curve of her back, pulling her closer, the few inches between them closed without so much as another word. As she always seemed to, she bent at her waist, her hand leaving the warm inside of his tunic as her arms curled around his neck. Her cheek bumped into his ear, eyes falling shut not long after. "Doesn't want to understand, really. So..." Her voice trailed off, her head giving a shake when her thoughts didn't come to her. She was too warm, and she felt like she was sloshing around in her boots. Every time she reached for a cohesive sentence, it fluttered away with moment she'd barely gotten a handle on it. "So... frustrating."

"Hey, at least Isabela likes the idea," Varric murmured in a hopefully reassuring tone. A quiet chuckle chased his words, the memory of what had happened at The Stein and the Sword echoing in his mind. "Though, I wager she was just trying to butter me up for the inevitable sleight of hand."

"She likes cheating you," Cordia whispered in response, "It's 'cause you're an easy mark. I expected better of a card shark like yourself."

Varric made a little noise of disagreement. "Alright, alright. One, I'm not an easy mark. You were standing behind me with your breasts pressed into the back of my neck. Any man with sense would've been distracted. And two, I've never actually been any good at cards." His hand stroked over her lower back, climbing upwards to settle just beneath her shoulder blades instead of drifting even farther downward. "Just good enough to beat you."

"And you only started doing that after you'd gotten into my trousers," she sighed, nuzzling her cheek against the side of his face before drawing herself up to her full height. "I know, priorities and what not. 'Women like you only bed stupid men.' You cleared that all up the night of."

"Still remember that, do you?"

Cordia's serious expression cracked into a laugh. "You were good, too, but I saw through the ruse." Drawing a hand up, she pointed her index and middle finger towards her eyes and then towards his. "I knew you weren't stupid. You were too good at playing stupid to actually be stupid. A stupid man would've been too stupid, and I wouldn't have been interested at all." At his arched brow, she gave a quiet, disoriented huff. "And I'm not even going to begin to try to explain that. Hnngh, not right now."

"Mmmaybe you should lie down?" His comment was met with an equally suggestive smirk, but this charming facade was shuffled away at the utterly innocuous look she gave him, all wide eyes and parted lips. To say that this expression was faked was an understatement, especially considering the naughty bubble of a laugh that left her a moment later.

Her fingers walked their way over his chest, up from the last remaining toggle on his tunic until they met the stubbly underside of his jaw. She gave the skin a little scratch. "Bad," she murmured, a grin curving at the corner of her generous mouth. "Bad, tricky man."

"I'm not without my motives, it's true," Varric replied smoothly, stepping forward to wrap his arms around her waist. She was guided in the direction of the bed with ease, their boots clomping over the floor in an uneven beat. When he felt their stunted strides stop, he gave a little grunt of annoyance. It was difficult to see where he was going with his face lodged in between Cordia's modest breasts. Lifting his face up, his chin rested on her sternum, eyelids drooping at their corners. "I have to pull out all the stops for my lady, don't I?"

Leaning down, she buried her nose into his cheek, making a sound that might've been a word had her lips not been pressed against his jaw. Instead, she murmured a quiet, "mmmrr," her hands locking around his back. She drew her face away just enough to look into his eyes. "Lucky lady," she said, her voice gone soft as she dropped back to sit on the bed, a toothy smile taking up whatever space her earlier smirk had left behind.

"Yeah, well, we match, then." His hands found her face, fingers digging into her dark hair as he guided her forward into a kiss. Not long after, once the continuous, if slight movement of their lips forced them to part for air, he continued his thought. "Lucky – bad, tricky – man that I am and all."

"Now you're just trying to butter me up," came her murmured reply. Her fingers flicked open the final button, sliding beneath the heavy fabric of his tunic until it dropped off of his shoulders, leaving him standing in front of her in nothing from the waist up. "Just because we have Isabela's approval, Aveline didn't glare at you near as much tonight, and Fenris wasn't nearly as – nearly as – oh, I don't know he wasn't –"

"Belligerent?" Cordia looked at him with an even stare. Varric nearly choked on a laugh. "Pugnacious? Ornery? Cantankerous?"

Groaning, she let herself droop forward, her forehead nearly bouncing off of her chest from the impact. "Stop that. Stop it with your words." Having him only mildly buzzed and in a playful mood was perhaps the worst combination with her level of intoxication. Varric was mouthy. Wordy. She had moments where she could scarcely remember how to move her tongue. "They're making my head swim. S'not fair."

Varric clucked his tongue over the roof of his mouth. "Angry? Aggressive? Those better?"

"Shut up, you," she barely managed around a laugh, drawing herself up to look into his face with an oddly serious expression. "What I was saying is that just 'cause they like you, doesn't mean you're getting off without a hitch. I'm still upset about what Beth said. I want her to like you as much as I do." When she noticed the height of his arched brow, she groaned. "Not that much."

Varric rolled his eyes, fingertips digging into the flesh of her hips where his hands rested. "You don't trust me, Slim? I'm hurt." He paused, a thoughtful expression falling over his shadowed features. "I guess that means it's not working? The buttering, I mean."

Pursing her lips though still a good distance away from him, Cordia let her eyes fall shut. "Of course it's working," she replied, her palms patting at either side of his chest. He lifted a hand to smooth her hair away from her face, and she leaned her head into it, a tiny smile quirking at the corner of her lips, which still begged for a kiss. "You know I'm absolutely useless when it comes to your charms. Useless in general right now, but still."

Chuckling, he leaned forward, giving her the smallest of kisses before pulling back and watching as her face fell. Her eyes flicked open, all expression gone as she looked up at him. This face brought another little laugh from her lover, and his hands slipped from her hair to grasp her by the backs of her arms, guiding her upwards and into another, firmer kiss.

"So that means you're staying tonight," he murmured against her mouth, a dimple carving into his cheek due to the decidedly smug smirk that pulled at his lips. "Your being hopeless does smack of potential for greatness here, you know. Don't let me down."

"Mmrr, wouldn't dream of it."

At that, her fingers slipped beneath the waist of his trousers, pulling him forward on top of her and letting out a strained guffaw the moment he collapsed. He hadn't even bothered to brace himself, having been taken by surprise in a big way. And instead of rolling off of her, he scooted upwards, ponytail drooping forward off of the top of his head along with the rest of his hair. "Hnf, Maker's breath, Varric," she gurgled, working her arms into the mattress in a desperate attempt to wriggle herself free.

"Hey, you wanted it, you got it," he replied with a quiet laugh of his own. Her shuffling and squirming stopped the moment his lips met the curve of her throat. His lips parted, pulling some of the flesh into his mouth only to flick his tongue over the flushed skin. "I know you can handle it, Slim. You didn't get where you are without fighting off the weight of those on top of you, huh?"

Cordia's throat bounced as another bubble of laughter left her. "Nnngh, this – this is a little different, I think. Wouldn't have spent those months in Lowtown if all I had to do was sleep with you."

"Would've made the whole courting process a lot easier, too."

"Wait, courting process? You mean, you actually –?" A sudden pressure between her thighs caused her to tense, mind racing to remember exactly where his hands were. "Okay, okay! You've won out. You wooed me. I was wooed. It was very romantic. Now, can you please stop smashing me into oblivion and remind me why I came home with you in the first place?"

She felt a warm rush of air over her damp neck when he gave a little huff of well-faked offense. "And I'm supposed to remind you of your own free will how...?"

"I'm sure you can think of something." When he shifted off of her, Cordia nearly melted into the mattress with a relieved rush of air, dimples almost piercing her cheeks due to the width of her smile when she looked up to see him sitting there, staring down at her. "You are the brains in this relationship after all. And the brawn. And the charm. And pretty much everything else."

Varric arched a brow, shoulders bouncing in a shrug as he ran his hand over her bare stomach. "What about you, then? What do you have to offer this partnership?"

His eyes flicked to his hand as she grabbed it between both of hers, drawing it up to her mouth to give the palm of his hand a few, clumsy kisses. "What do I do? Hmm... what do I do?" She knew very well that they were equal on almost every playing field. She was an apt fighter. She was at least a little persuasive. She wasn't stupid, either. He was just very good at very many things. Shutting her eyes, she pressed her lips just over his wrist, chin tilting up to give his palm another kiss. "I reach for things on the really high shelves."

"I wonder, Varric, if you truly understand the importance of this interrogation," Cassandra interrupted. She'd stopped her pacing mere moments before, hands crossed behind her back and her eyes focused on him. "I am not interested in whatever 'relationship' you've conjured up. I want to know the facts."

He couldn't help but sigh. He didn't have fingers and toes enough to count how many times this Chantry Seeker had been quick to deny the fact that he and the Champion had been involved. "Is it really that hard to believe, Cass?" The book of information she'd thrown at him days before lay open in his lap to the page with six portraits, of him and of the people he'd grown close to over the past ten years. Dragging his gloved finger in a semi-circle around them, trailing over their faces as he met hers with a look of utter boredom, he continued, "You've visited with all the other important men and women in her life. Can you honestly still think I didn't have a chance?"

"I think you're a man who is prone to weaving tales with little to no truth behind them." Her words were clipped; staccato. She'd long since grown tired of listening to him speak at length with a single strand of truth threaded through is story. "I would ask you to speak plainly, but I imagine that is beyond your capabilities."

"You drag me in here. Throw me into this extremely uncomfortable chair. Threaten me by the edge of your blade to talk about Hawke for hours on end." Varric shut the book with a flourish, casting it onto the table at his side with such a lack of care it slid across the top and fell to the floor in a puff of dust. "You're expecting me to betray her. To tell you where she is, why she did what she did. You haven't given me a single reason to trust you enough to tell you the full truth."

Even as she opened her mouth to speak, he kept on. Since the moment she'd met him, he'd maintained an air of almost chilled insolence. He flirted, teased, and continued on, not caring a shot whether or not she believed him. However, everyone had a breaking point, when their attempts proved so useless they just couldn't take it anymore, and this was his. "Then you go ahead and tell me I'm lying to you about the woman I love and have loved for years. Years. You want the sodding truth? I'm giving it to you, but you're too thick-headed and prejudiced to believe me."

Cassandra took a step forward only to have him rise up out of his chair in surprising defiance. "No matter what you've heard about me – and I wager you've heard a lot; you seem to be very good at keeping your ear to the ground – I can speak plainly. I have been speaking plainly. The people in that little book of yours have no reason to lie about her."

"Sit," was her only reply, and he did as he was instructed. When she turned around to head back to her table across the dimly lit room, she could hear him chuckle. The hairs on the back of her neck stood as her entire body tensed. Bracing herself on the rough tabletop, Cassandra took a deep breath through her nose. "What is it? Why are you laughing?"

Leaning against the high back of his chair, Varric laced his hands over his stomach. A smug tilt of a grin replaced the impassioned expression he wore no more than a moment before.

"You know, Cass," he replied, that infuriatingly warm, teasing tone returning to his voice. "I think you're just jealous."

If she wasn't going to believe him, why should he fight it?

He knew the truth. That was what mattered.