Here is a long and indepth fill for the Draon Age 2 kink meme. Thanks to the annonymous who posted this, I had fun writing it. The plot revolves around the possibilty of trading places with Isabela - traveling to Par Vollen with the Arishok and the relic...and of course their is sex. (it is a kink meme prompt after all...and I wrote it know)

Enjoy everyone, and knowing me I may even add more too this.

Do not own Dragon Age. Warnings for sexual content.

Two days at sea and already the memories of her first and last boat trip were threatening to show on her face (not an emotion she was very keen on letting the Arishok or the rest of them find on her). The wind was itchy against her cheeks, filtering through her thin feinery with a tearing force.

In the distance the clouds turned grey; sweeping and absorbing the lighter looking clouds past the horizon. The sea wasn't her familiar territory...although...everything familiar was long behind her now. For the second time she found herself regretting giving into Isabela's uncharacteristic watery eyed-stare - taking her place without hesitation, despite the mess she'd caused. Perhaps even a part of her then had found the Arishok better than the city itself. The Arishok's quick agreement to her proposal hadn't bothered her then, and neither had it during the months they waited for their boat…but with aimless hours aboard the Qunari vessel it gave her plenty of time to think.

A vein of lightning graced the abyss - the storm brewing and the wind changing not soon after. The once dry and salted air became sharp-smelling and wet. Heavy bare-footfalls approached her, pausing just a foot behind her; a respectable distance - the same as everyone had shown her since following behind the Arishok after the Keeper's slaughter.

"A storm Ms. Hawke. The Arishok demands you in your cabin before the clouds come over head." She turned to see the scarred Ashaad watching her intently with his red eyes. His face was becoming familiar already, despite how she failed to catch the subtleties in most other Qunari's features. Hawke nodded to him, watching him turn to the starboard side of the ship.

Again she went back to the open sea, inhaling the smell that was quickly loosing any trace of familiarity. There was really no romance she'd left behind…mother was gone, and Bethany was safer with Anders than she'd ever been at her side. The only thing to miss was the smell; the familiarity of what had been her home for the past four years.

After the months waiting in the Qunari compound with the Arishok and his closet Karashok for their boat - she'd found it easier and easier to understand the teachings of the Qun. The last night before they left - the Arishok had even privileged her by reading a passage from their recovered relic. His voice - which she'd only heard with distaste and pity - had been serene and almost content as he'd read to her that night. It was a fond memory; one she dwelled on now as the heat lightening crept closer with its darkening 'scape following near behind.

"Struggle is an illusion. The tide rises, the tide falls, but the sea is changeless. There is nothing to struggle against. Victory is the Qun."

His words still rung true in her mind. The last two nights she'd lay awake thinking on that moment, almost wishing he'd provide her a copy of the Qun...or better yet - he would read it to her as he had done then. Her fingers curled around the carved pulpit, leaning into the breeze as it rolled up into her knotted hair. She muttered under her breath, "Victory is the Qun..."

Hawke allowed herself a few lingering moments of the gust blowing from the storm, before the first sprouts of rain landed under one eye. Unwilling to test the Arishok's demands she pushed from the bow of the ship to retreat for her modest cabin.

In the guts of the ship the noises of the sea were soft and consistent, more like a lullaby than the death chant she'd heard on the boat to Kirkwall years ago. Her quarters were small, but they were her own - inside lay piles of stuffed pillows and thick blankets, a desk and a lone lantern hanging from the corner of the room. She'd had nothing to bring but a few historical series on the Exalted Marches, her journal, her armor and the dual blades perched on a large pillow. Gold – the Arishok said – was useless to them as currency…so she'd left it all with Bethany and the dwarves.

Aside from escaping the storm – which steadily gained volume outside – she'd also been waiting for an audience with the Arishok since boarding. As of yet he hadn't spoken to her; giving her not even a glance before disappearing into the port cabin; his area guarded by two large Karashok at all times.

The worst part of traveling across sea was the lack of adventure; something she'd not only become accustom to, but relished. Without the constant distractions she found that placing witty remarks along the pages of her journal were only entertaining for the first hour of the day.

The first book she'd already read - too boring for her to look upon the second in the trilogy with anymore enjoyment than counting her toes and fingers.

The day had been half gone when the storm hit; a small one despite the heavy rain. The winds were light, but the sound of dropping water was heard even down where she stood, where the sea engulfed the side of her wall almost entirely.

The second wick on her lantern had been exchanged when a heavy knock had her standing.

Ashaad nodded his scarred face down at her when she'd cracked the door. His mouthed had lifted from a frown to something more thinly and broad as he spoke to her, "It is time. The Arishok demands your presence, but…we will show hospitality first. A bath is ready."

"Of salt water I presume." Her wit hadn't gotten her anything but a lifted snarl, and this time was no different. Despite the joy it brought her to make light of it all - she reprimanded herself inwardly, reminding herself that these were the stone wall of Kirkwall any longer.

"Parshaara. Follow me Ms. Hawke."

She did, having no other clothes but the ones she wore now (not counting her leather armor and its shift) - she followed silently after closing her door gently behind her. After growing accustomed to her estates facilities she had to hold back her own frown at the sight of a large wooden casket of steaming water. There was no fire crackling under it...just the casket of hot water making the bare room thick with fog.

"How is it that you managed to accomplish this?", despite the blandness of it she smiled lightly, curiosity higher than normal due to the lack of activity during her days aboard. "Hot water on a ship...I admit, I'm stumped Ashaad."

"The Saarebas' doing. Arishok suggested it to the Arvaarad...who - as you can see - agreed."

"I won't insult any of you by saying I'm surprised, but this…is...unexpected. Very appreciated however."

The Ashaad showed little more than another sneer before he turned, leaving her alone in the humid room. He didn't bother repeating himself, and maybe that should have made her feel respected - but the Qunari had a funny way of making her feel anymore than barely tolerated. She had yet to convert to the Qun…at least not in their eyes – so their attitude hadn't been questioned.

She enjoyed the bath for all it's simple glory, unsure of when she'd have the luck of enjoying one so hot until they landed in Par Vollen - even then hot bathes were not guaranteed. The Arishok had been vague about her role in their society when they landed - nothing about raids or battle.

Quickly - like a child - she sunk into the warm water, holding her breathe and remaining under until her lungs couldn't take the burn any longer.

The idea of seeing the Arishok now - after the absence - felt perplexing. At the very least she'd assumed being bombarded with Qunari literature the moment she landed on the ship - yet she'd been quietly ignored aside from the necessities...

Without soap or fresh clothes Hawke found herself smelling as rich as the salty sea. She blinked to the Ashaad outside the room, gesturing to follow and ready to escort her to the Arishok.

"If I'd know you'd be waiting for me I wouldn't have dozed off you know...", her idle chatter was ignored as she followed him down a wide-worn hallway; clad in red fabric from ceiling to floor. Two Karashok's stood on either side of an intricately carved door - their arms crossed and bright eyes on her. Ashaad nodded to her and left. The rain gave a hard rattle above her head - she was on the second level of the ship now...

The Karashok on the right gave the door two taps, pausing until a deep robust sound echoed behind the door - at that the Karashok opened the door for her and she in turn walked inside.

The setting was different, never had she seen the Arishok seated at a desk...yet still his posture was slouched, as if the chair was still too small for even him.

"Hawke.", he announced.

One of his clawed hands gestured her to the chair before his wide desk - his perpetual frown never wavering. She did as he 'asked'; sitting with a respectful arche of her back and tilt of her chin. Nothing had truthfully given her such esteem as his noted respect for her. He didn't exactly come off as someone whose respect was easily acquired.

She'd entertained the thought that he would have dueled her, even though she was female... if she'd failed him that is. The relic lay between them; open with it's pages frayed at the corners - it was a very large ornate book, but knowing how old it was now only made it look that much more pristine before her eyes.

"You smell of the sea...", he noted.

She couldn't smell herself any longer, and she found his statement hadn't embarrassed her. "My clothes will never expel the scent I'm afraid, may have to burn them once we land."

"It is a good smell. The sea is that which gives life and takes life away - an equalizer that favors no one - a better example than myself."

The rain slid in veins against the oval window panes behind him. It was dark outside - from the day wilting or the black clouds - she didn't know. A bright clatter of lightening cast the room in white, hiding his dark eyes under a heavy brow; outlining his curling horns and exaggerating the deep lines around his mouth. It wasn't hard to see why the Chantry thought of them no better than creatures at this moment - he did make an intimating sight...even without the burning lanterns ominous lighting.

"Are you admitting to flaws Arishok, surly yours do not stack up against my own.", her lips tilted faintly. It never seemed as though any of them smiled, even after having their relic in safe hands yet again.

"We all have flaws, Hawke. Even I, but with the Qun many of them never surface...not as they do for your kind."

His head turned; horns exaggerating the tilt of his head as his eyes shut briefly. "Have you pondered further on the words I spoke to you two nights ago?"

"Every night's…becoming easier to see why so many turn to the Qun, only to pity those who continue their kneeling to the Maker.", she admitted.

"And you...? Do you pity those you left behind, Hawke?"

" be fair though I always held a small amount of pity for them, even in Ferelden. I was never one for the Maker even as a child. If he'd ever existed…then he abandoned his worshippers long ago."

"My flaw, Hawke, was awaiting your honest answer with...impatience. It is always better for one to find out for themselves than when left with no option. You agreed before we left, yet I would not have relished seeing a Bavaarad such as you fall under the Qun without want..."

His confession had her eyes twitching to escape his hard gaze, but pride wouldn't allow her to submit as he challenged with narrowed eyes.

"Were you planning on...educating me further tonight…on the ways of the Qun?"

"Yes.", his tone was blunt.

Hawke watched him pause, then lean back; eyes never leaving hers. Anyone else would find his constant eye contact threatening, but he'd been looking at her like this after the first month in the compound - could have been deepened respect or just curiosity. Her being female had probably confused him...that is, as much as the Arishok could be confused.

The boat swayed suddenly, swinging the lanterns at each end of the room; making her waist tense to keep steady. The movement was something she'd been nervous about. Funny how darkspawn and charging Qunari didn't frighten her as much as the effects of the open sea did.

Her inner turmoil apparently hadn't been hidden well enough, for the Arishok found this opportunity to enlighten her, "If the sea takes us today, it is only the way it was meant to be. 'Struggle is an illusion', Hawke - it will be your first amendment into the Qun."

"I do not fear the sea Arishok, only...find it unsettling."

His frown remained. Again he leaned forward, placing his elbows on his desk; hands clasps loosely.

"It is the same. You Ferelden's enjoy lying to yourselves as much as to others..."

The Arishok had been right - never had he really been wrong, at least not to her own similar sense of morals. She was either droll or frank when it came to questions or responses, and his views were only different from hers in that he seemed incapable of sarcasm or humor.

They spoke for hours more; even the waning boat seemed to ebb from the back of her mind as he recited notable passages from the yellowed relic. Each moment left her calmer than the last. He had paused before to break each meaning down - assuming despite his respect for her - that she was unable to catch on so quickly, but after the second hour of her repeating his words back to him in her own tongue - he only recited and never clarified further.

Somewhere along the way she wondered if this moment between them was more profound than she'd assumed. The Arishok read as if it were the first time he'd looked upon the relic, and if that were the case she wasn't quite sure how to feel. Did the Qunari have fondness for humans? - for elves and dwarfs...? - even each other in a sense that she could understand?

When the storm had eased and the night was old he sent her away with the wave of his hand and a nod of his head, "Panahedan Hawke..."

"Panahaden Arishok."

That night she lay awake, sleeping only enough to wake moments before the sun rose. She caught the first glimpses of gold peek over the horizon at the bow end of the ship. The breeze was light now after the rain. The deck still had pronounced droplets of moisture covering the planks, which felt unfamiliar under her bare feet. Sleep still clouded her eyes when the sun rose fully above the water. Mornings after a night of rain had always been the most beautiful...

It was four days later that the Arishok asked - not demanded - her presence once again. A few days ago she'd heard of the considerable length of their voyage; two months if the sails held strong and the winds favorable. Her voyage to Kirkwall seemed so short at the prospect of months at sea now. The only thing that'd settled her was the knowledge of how many times the Qunari had braved the open sea, and how their only ship wreck had been the one that landed them in Kirkwall; Isabela's fault no less.

Again she was escorted to the Arishok's quarters - the same two Karashok besides his door, and the same one alerting the Arishok before opening the door for her.

Seeing them - with their borderline annoyed stares - made her realize how ready they all must have been to go home. The looks reminded her to never give in to her own boredom – for hers was never as warranted as theirs.

Hawke smiled at the two large Qunari, expecting little in return as she entered the Arishok's cabin.

"Shanedan Hawke. We have time to converse freely. Our journey is a slow one and only growing slower."

"The winds are in our favor…despite their direction.", she returned to the Qun as she spoke, nodding her head formally before taking a seat.

"Spoken like a true Qunari, Hawke. You are not as dim as the rest of your kind, not that I assumed you were. I would not have agreed to take you if that were so."

"You would have taken Isabela though.", she countered, not even realizing her jab.

The Arishok didn't take longer than a second to respond – a testing manner to his speech, "As a prisoner. You, Hawke, are our guest…and soon will be a Qunari yourself. Do not sully your image by acting like those I saved you from.

Hawke remained quite, choosing her words carefully. "You're right, I have no excuse. Your respect is and always will be treasured, Arishok, truthfully."

Despite her words she witnessed him sneer - his head tilting down to the opened passage of the relic. The white strands of his hair had grown longer since he'd brought her back to the compound, reaching to the bulk of his shoulders now. So white was his hair against his bronze skin that she had found herself staring now for the third time since sitting. He spoke heavily, "Formality. I see your tension as you sit. If you truly wish to absorb the Qun your mind and body need be at peace. Find your ebasit."

"...and the meaning of this word?"

"A rough translation in your tongue would be simply 'to be'. Being at one with both the soul and the body."

"And you Arishok, have you found your ebasit?"

The barest hints of something that wasn't a frown turn one corner of his mouth. Never had she seen a Qunari smile or smirk before - this must have been what it was like. The sight made her gut tense even further. With the tilt still evident he spoke to her, "I would not be here if I had not found it long ago."

Once regaining her sense she smirked herself, watching - despite disappointment - as his frown returned.

"I do not doubt you will find it soon, Hawke. Do you wish to continue where we left off?"

She didn't think many Qunari cared about a converters readiness to listen or learn, let alone the Arishok - so she gave him a curt nod and kept a straight face despite the warmth clouding her limbs and chest.

The hours crept on, longer and longer he spoke and she in turn listened. Time past quickly, and never once did she loose interest; a combination of the words, his voice, and the sight of him never bored her. The day had turned to night and when he paused she expected the same 'goodbye' he'd given her always - but he didn't.

Hawke watched as he stood, towering above her as she kept seated.

"This...shall be clearer if we watch the sky." His eyes were shrouded again in the limiting light; horns more demonic and hair whiter against his skin as he gestured for her to stand. "You will follow me, Hawke. The stars are in alignment and the waning."

As always she was impressed by his handle of her native tongue - she followed without hesitation, passing his statuesque Karashok and the few Ashaad that were staring up at the sky near the starboard side of the ship.

In the night air things were still, only the gentle lapping of water along the hull of the ship broke the silence. It was a young night with the stars and novas shining just as brightly as the cut moon. The Arishok paused a foot from the bow's pulpit. She dare go no closer to the edge than him - so she lingered at his side, keeping her back straight in his presence. No one allowed weakness to show before a Qunari, especially the Arishok, no matter how meager it seemed.

For minutes they stood besides one another, watching the stars move in miniscule increments across the abyss as they sailed with a strong burst of wind. It was almost shocking to realize she'd never taken the time to appreciate the nigh sky like this before. Night was rarely spent outside when she lived in Fereleden; too dangerous - and nights in Kirkwall were bright with the countless lanterns and buildings to block the view. Here - beside the Arishok and in the open sea - she couldn't guesstimate how many stars there were. Seeing them only made her question, but she held it in as the Arishok remained silent.

Despite how long they stood there - she never felt the itch to move or speak, though when the Arishok's deep voice sounded it was far from unwelcome.

"Do you see now how small you are; how small we all are in comparison to the abyss. We are but a fraction of the whole. Not even a hair on the entire body.", she did indeed see. A streak of light flashed across the sky, disappearing into nothing as the rest of the sky twinkled and moved.

"A dying star.", she heard him acknowledge at the way her head turned to catch the ray of light. "Even they die, just as you or I."

She broke her own rule, stepping up to the pulpit and grasping its wooden curve as she tilted her head to catch the rest of the sky. She'd found now how she'd spend the rest of her time when the sea became too restless. Perhaps they would not look too sourly upon her if she chose to sleep during the day to star gaze during the night.

No one would dare question the Arishok, but even she could feel the Ashaad's stares against her back as the Arishok breathed deeply behind her. His bare feet stepped closer behind her, enough to resonate his heat against her back - it wasn't a good judge of his presence though. A male as large as him could give off a fair amount of heat, even far away, but his voice broke that idea - he was indeed close.

"I do not have to question what it is you see. Humans are even more exposing than elves..."

She kept her head tilted to the sky as she spoke, "The sky does indeed exemplify the Qun perfectly. The Qunoran Vehl was brilliant, using something above everyone to explain the Qun."

"The Qun explains everything Hawke, and everything explains the Qun.", he spoke while his heat and body came to rest beside her. It would have been easy for anyone to find his stature and presence intimidating, but there was a growing understanding, respect and dare she say fondness for each other that allowed his presence to be only comforting; enjoyable.

"Ataash can only be found truly in the Qun...", she refrained from speaking, hearing the lingering tone in his baritone voice, "...yet you found ataash without. This is what I find most compelling about you Hawke. I can only imagine what you will find inside the Qun."

"I have been thinking about the end of our journey almost as much as the Qun…What will my role be and will my being female stick me in a life without my blades and my armor? Does the Qun regard me enough a male to allowed me the title of an Ashaad?"

"The Qun defines our roles. Soldiers are expected to be strong, disciplined and stoic. Honor and duty are our tenets. These are things I see in you - yet I do not decide your role, Hawke."

Hawke turned to him, staring up at his stoned expression. His darkened eyes were staring out at sea; yellow irises hesitating in her direction only briefly before looking down at her. He spoke with eyes almost melting her own.

"The Ashaad will mark your first pillar tonight. Panahedan, Kadan."

His heavy presence left her alone at the bow. He gave one curt nod - hair falling at his sharp jaw line before disappearing down the steps to his cabin. Hawke remained twisted at the pulpit, one hand resting along the wood as her eyes watched the blunted tips of his horns vanish from sight. Kadan...

Her gut tensed again as it had when the ship rocked, but the ship was still...and the feeling wouldn't ebb. The stars held her attention for only a moment longer - without the Arishok enjoying them with her they only seemed to hold half her contemplation.

That night one unfamiliar Ashaad threaded a loop of silverite through her ear lobe; piercing the skin with his own claws in a pop of mild pain. Later - in her nest of pillows and blankets - she lay with her throbbing and heated ear against her bent arm, enjoying the way it burned between her jaw and the limb. The heat from her assaulted ear flooded into her face as she dozed, repeating, "...kadan.", softly before she fell into the Fade where she stayed until the late morning.

Weeks passed by, each day she grew fonder of the Qun - as well as the Qunari. They seemed to grow fonder of her as well.

Two days after the first piercing - the Arishok gave her a copy of the Qun. A week after that she was given access to his book shelf; littered with dozens of books she was surprised to find: histories of the Antivian growth, diaries of nameless philosophers and even book.

Her ear now held two thick rings, one near the crest of her ear; still red and swollen. Hawke stood with an arm crossed under her breasts, holding an account of the different Atashi species (Dragons). She had two other books she was eager to read, but those she pushed aside, as if waiting for the right moment to savor them; a special occasion perhaps - like that of another storm where she could get lost in the words to better ignore the roll and toll of the ship.

The Arishok was on the deck, leaving her in his cabin with nothing but his Karashok outside the door. She'd found the word 'Kadan' littered in one philosopher's diary, but her Qunari dialect (which the script was written in) was infantile at best, and the Arishok had yet to disclose the meaning behind the word - yet she knew it was some sign of respect...had to have been.

As if her thoughts of him had summoned the Arishok himself - he appeared behind her. Hawke smiled warmly without looking towards him. She closed the book in one hand gently before re-shelving it properly; snug between two green books.

"You are welcome to borrow more than one, Kadan. You - I can see having the mind for two or three accounts at once.", he spoke fondly - something that had been happening more frequently. Their journey wasn't even at the halfway point yet, and already she would dare to call them friends; good friends. They had even taken a meal or two together. Watching him eat had been as brutal as she'd expected. His sharper teeth tore through dried meat and fish as they were evolved to; making her meager bites pale in their delicate rhythm.

"I absorb more if I let one book have my sole attention."

"Soul?", he questioned as he sat down, opening the relic to a further passage. It was the same one she'd seen open the past few days. Her lack of understanding couldn't decipher much of it's meaning, and he had yet to read it to her.

"It means 'full'...or 'exclusive'. Holding my full attention..."

The Arishok made a noise that let her know he understood - it was a deep rumble that vibrated her chest. She'd yet to hear his war cry, even when he'd lost his temper with her before his attack on the city she'd never heard him growl, and she imagined it would shake her whole body when he did.

Hawke pulled from the book shelf, walking around before him and his desk, showing her respect as she questioned him, "Will we be reading this passage tonight?" - it was a stark question, nothing that should have evoked his harsh response.

"We will not be reading anything tonight, Hawke.", the way he said her name was bitter, "Panahedan. We have no further dealing tonight." He hadn't growled, but he had snapped or...more like barked at her. Hawke didn't show how his words squeezed at her chest, but she did leave.


For a week he did not request her presence, and for a week she'd read the Qun twice. On the eighth day she came to his cabin unannounced, and was quickly turned away by both sneering Karashok. For another day she took to sharpening her blade with an inch long whetstone; given to her by the scarred Ashaad. She cleaned her armor with her own spit, making the leather and soft metal shine in the lanterns flame. Her duel blades worked effortlessly to cut the frayed ends of her hair neatly.

On the tenth day of being ignored she lay on the wooden planks of her cabin, the open book of the Qun caressing her face and covering her eyes from the darkness of her room. It was night; late and old when a rapping came at her door.

"Enter...", she muttered sleepily, almost too near the fade to realize what she'd said. Her door squeak open but she saw nothing…only the barest streaks of dim light at the corner of her left eye. The fade had nearly found her when her door bolted loudly, snapping her awake enough to slip the book from her face. The darkness was thick - so much so that she could barely make out the line of the Qunari at her door.

"Ashaad?" No, she told herself as he stood to light her lantern. His presence was too heavy for that of the scarred Ashaad...not that any of the Qunari aboard had a meek presence that is.

The flint sparked quickly and easy, igniting the doused wick into a blazing flame before the dial coaxed it down. The towering horns and long white hair gave him away before she could even get a good look at him, "Arishok?", all her surprise and confusion was expression in his name.


She had no right to question him. Whatever their companionship had become she still had no right to ask what he was doing in her cabin at the late hour of the night. Even with the light his eyes were shrouded in darkness - the crease of his mouth widened and his nose sharp.

His head turned to her perched blades, brow creasing before he spoke, "Your weapons have been sharpened already. Who?" His bulk came further into the cabin; turning what had been a spacious room for her - cramped. She picked up the small whetstone from her desk and curled it in her palm - its cool smoothness easing her now clammy hands.

"I did."

"- and your armor?", his tone seemed strained - more so than he'd showed since boarding the ship.

"Me as well."

The whole situation felt forced, almost awkward in a way. He searched her cabin critically, as if using its state to judge her. It seemed like ages until he broke the heavy atmosphere with a quick offer, "I could tend to your weapons from now on. If you will let me."

It was a Qunari custom. Hawke had read that passage a few days ago - one that expressed affection bordering on intimacy for the care and concern of ones tools, and with her that meant her weapons and armor. A brief and fleeting urge to kiss him crossed her mind, but instead she swallowed the lump of hesitation before responding to his offer, "I would take pleasure in that Arishok, and would offer you the same chivalry.", her breath caught when his frown deepened, but she continued, "If you would let me."

"Yes.", was his only answer before he turned to leave. The Arishok paused with his wide shoulders and muscled back to her - it was only now she realized his shoulder guards were gone, exposing the true bulk of his painted deltoids. "Panahedan Kadan.", he spoke before opening the door.

Softly she said her farewell, "Panahedan...Kadan." His shoulders tensed in the lanterns flame, but that was all she saw before he left; shutting the door behind him.

Hawke slept deeply that night. The Fade tending to her new found desires in the worst and most pleasant of ways.

Upon awakening she lay in her blankets and pillows in thought. Her mind swam with her dissolving dreams; dreams of tending to the Arishok's stone armor under the stars, him tending to more than her blades...

Her cheeks heated - the room grew hot and stifling as a jolt struck her stomach at the fades version of his taut skin under her hands. The Qun had mentioned nothing about physical relations expressing love or affection. If the Arishok felt any love for her he surly wouldn't express it how she'd desire.

Suddenly she felt like a child again when one is denied a sweet roll because they kicked the neighbors sheep. Hawke chuckled lightly at the memory, but fell back into her brooding when the flutters in her belly made her nauseous. This wasn't the worse turn of events that could have happened, but they certainly weren't the best either. Having sexual thoughts about a Qunari couldn't have been smart, let alone physical attraction for the Arishok. Had that been why he'd turned her from his cabin that day...had he seen the look in her eyes growing? The very thought of that had her arms prickling in embarrassment. Love and sex were not foreign to her, yet this gathering of circumstance had her forgetting how either ever felt.

On the deck a group of Ashaad and Karashok gathered along the east and west side of the bow. A small - but lush - island was poking up along the horizon. One Ashaad pointed to it, speaking with the others in their native tongue. Only two words she managed to grasp, but they meant little alone.

The scarred Ashaad came up behind her, informing her of the island; comparing it to that of her ports. There would be more islands, most uninhabited, that they'd sail by as they crept closer to the Par Vollen coast.

Birds flew in droves over head, chirping in the wind as the gust blew her hair around her face; tickling her as the island grew larger by the minutes. It was a Qunari island - no matter how small - and excitement was a poor word for how she felt about landing foot on land after the weeks at sea. The thought of feeling sand under her toes was enough to make her smile. For the next hour that it took to reach the island she leaned along the pulpit, watching the tree-line appear and the dusty sand blemish with seaweed and shells.

Rocks separated the sand from the lush bushes and growth. It was beautiful; unlike nothing she'd witnessed before. A few smaller crafts lay poking from the other side of the island, making the island look busy and vibrant; even more desiring.

As the ship settled a quarter mile off shore she turned to see more than one Qunari crack the barest of smiles. So they do smile...

Two row boats were dropped with heavy splashes, three Qunari left at a time; making it near sun down before only two Ashaad and one Karashok remained on deck. The Arishok hadn't even come up to see the island grow closer, let alone be the first to leave the ship. One Karashok she knew from his place before the Arishok's door - the other may have been down below or on the island already.

With one glance back at the foaming waves and dismounting Qunari she walked along the deck, descending the stairs to her cabin. She removed her clothing, the ends of her robes stiff with sea spray. She strapped on her leathers, polished her boots and rung out her stained clothes in a bucket of wash; a wonderful combination of sterilized urine and sea water. She'd assumed she'd be able to purchase new clothes on the island; according to Ashaad it was a market with supplies enough for the rest of their journey.

Once dressed in her armor she sheathed her blades against her rear, leaving her cabin to attempt an audience with the Arishok.

His door was open - no Karashok guarding. She could see the back of his sloped and curling horns; his face turned to the oval windows looking out at sea. His hair was tucked back in a loose tail, some still free and spilling against his neck. The Arishok turned his head, showing the side of his chiseled face before turning to the window again.

"Kadan.", he acknowledged her and nothing else - so she walked in, standing at his desk and staring at the open sea. Strange that he wasn't anxious to see the island as everyone else.

"The boats are coming back an-"

"Yes.", he cut her off quickly, turning slowly as he stood. He wasn't dress up like she was; expecting to step foot on the island. The Arishok stood with his head tilted down at her as it always had been, wearing little than his leather pants, loose fabrics and belts. His painted muscles stood stark against his thick waist and sizable arms. The skin along his dense neck throbbed at a protruding vein. Memories of her indulgent dream caught her before she could think of much else.

"There is no going to the island for us, Kadan. You because you are a human female; a converted barely, and I because the land is not mine to step foot on until our journey is at its end."

Her chest sunk - a well of anger replacing any longing she'd felt for him at his appearance. His teeth bared in response as she let her face crease in her vexation.

"You should have stayed in your cabin, Kadan. Temptation is...a flaw of yours. You should spend your time reading the Qun once more. Busy yourself.", his words had a double meaning, and it only made her ire bubble further. Even when she'd saw the Keeper's head roll lonely across the red carpet in the Keep did she not have so much wrath for the Arishok at this moment.

He showed little empathy for her, as expected. His yellow eyes didn't leave her even when she stepped further to the lip of his desk. The relic was opened to the same passage that'd gotten her sent from his cabin before. When she leaned to look at it the book was slammed shut and the Arishok growled. She'd been right - the noise traveled through her arms and stuck in her throat where it took all of her composure to not choke on the fright it brought her.

His sharp tipped hand covered the worn book as if she'd try to pry it from under his fingers.

Like that of a frightened animal she lifted her head to see his eyes wide; lacking that all knowing authority she'd always seen. His sharper teeth were showing between his lips, as if something had struck him. It was the first time she'd seen him make a move that didn't have purpose from start to end - it reminded her of the time she'd escaped his Karashok's advances; escaping capture. He had a similar look on his face then, but it'd been angry...where as this carried little darkness.

After the pregnant pause was broken by the noises of the Ashaad returning with the first stock of goods - she removed herself from his cabin with little else uttered - no 'goodbye's' or 'kadan's' this time.

Hawke spent the rest of the darkening day in her cabin, listening to the unloading above, occasionally hearing supplies being carried past her door to the bowls of the ship. Late into the night the Qunari continued stocking; boats leaving and returning until eventually all was still. When her first lantern wick ran down she escaped the darkness of her quarters to the deck where she stood in her shift against the breeze. The island was almost as dark as the sea, aside from one or two pinpoints of light.

For the first time since they'd set off she found herself missing her sister...the stink of Kirkwall and even the people that inhabited it. If only she could have set foot on the island she would have felt different now - she knew - but as it were all she could do is watch as the boat rocked gently against the waves. No one bothered her that night, and she stayed perched there until the sun rose.

Before any Qunari caught her on the deck she snuck back into her cabin to find the fade just as depressing as reality.

She woke, read, wrote and slept. Each day passed and no one checked up on her aside from the Ashaad who every three days would have a bath ready for her. Sometimes the water was cold, sometimes warm, but was hot; burning her skin when she submerged herself.

The heat turned her drowsy and her muscles soft. During the past month she'd felt the strings of muscles in her thighs and arms wilt with lack of use; a shame un-ignorable.

Hawke placed her ankles on the side of the casket, sinking her head under the water. The heat burned inside her ears, but she sighed nevertheless; bubbles floating to burst above her scalp. When she surfaced - eyes opening with the burn of salt water - she saw the Arishok. Her brow crinkled as she spat some water from between her lips. Had the heat been that high; enough to cause hallucinations?

"Do my eyes deceive me?", she muttered; hating the prospect of talking to herself, even more to some mirage.

"No.", he said. Surly if she could hear him he was truly there, or she was suffering some form of sea sickness.

"I believe you, but if you begin to breathe fire I'll toss myself overboard." Humor was her best defense against the tickle his presence gave her. Was it normal for the Qunari to interrupt bathes like this? Nothing from the Qun would have said such a thing but she wracked her memory for any type of modesty, or lack of.

Her face remained stern, even when he pulled up a chair to sit beside her. It was only luck that he chose to visit her now; now that her cheeks color could be blamed on the heat of the water. She'd already lost face to him once, another repeat of that was something she couldn't bare.

"Is there something you need me for that can't wait until I'm finished here?", she wasn't being rude - her tone had been genuinely accommodating, despite how she wished to sink further into the water without showing him her obvious discomfort. The tops of her breasts were visible, though he made no effort to glance at them.

"You wish to touch me, Kadan."

His statement made her body ridged, water rippling along where it left her skin. It wasn't as though their fondness for each other was unknown to the other, but surly he knew she knew how he expressed his it shouldn't have been surprising for him to know how she expressed hers.

There was no point beating around the bush, or denying it for that matter - so she casually brought her ankles from the rim, placing her legs into the water before she admitted, "Yes." She couldn't make eye contact with him, as much as it besmirched her.

"There are other ways to show fondness. Physical affection threatens companionship - it is the way of the Qun, you know this."

It felt like a reprimand. But despite how calculative he managed to seem - his words sounded rehearsed, as if he himself wasn't truly convinced. He continued to speak however when her eyes wandered across the bare room, "To convert to the Qun means to accept this, or you will be re-educated time and time again. Think wisely, Kadan."

The brief encounter ended at that and she'd thought he'd avoid her for another week, but the next day she was back in his cabin listening to him speak small amounts of Qunari text to her. His language came easier each day. Their sessions were frequent and less tense as the days went by, until the third storm broke one of their sails.

The storm lasted well into the next day, never waning even when the dimness of the day became a dreary of wet darkness. The deck gathered water that seeped through her toes; cold and slippery. A fire had broke down in the bowls of the ship after a wave the day before knocked a lantern from its chain – after that the Arishok had yet to call her to his cabin as had become almost a ritual. That being said she found herself in the rain, catching heavy drops in her mouth and eyes. The rain tasted sweeter now, better than the fresh water that'd quickly grown stale from the island almost a week behind them now.

When the lightning struck too close she fled inside the ship, taking solace in her cabin with the soft light of her lantern. Hawke sat on the floor boards dripping. It seemed forever than she last enjoyed the way her shift stuck to her. The stick of the water was a reminder of what it felt like to bathe in non-salted water. Briefly she entertained the idea of dancing on the deck; naked in the rain like even a child had trouble getting away with in the Dragon age. Something told her despite the Qunari's stoic views on sex – it'd still be frown upon, not to mention doing so would ruin any respect she'd gained over the months around them.

She penned in the days events in her journal, now resorting to the backs of used pages.

The Ashaad came to her door moments later, giving her only a look – words were no longer needed that couldn't convey anymore than his face could show. He left her to change into her fienery, hanging her wet clothes – they smelt fresh already. The salt didn't bother her any longer, but the scent of rain water did more for her mentality than she'd ever admit.

Once ushered through his door the Arishok greeted her, speaking her handle respectfully. His large shoulders were hunched; stiff as she took her seat.

The rain patted down the panes of glass behind him as they had done nearly a month ago. Sometimes it didn't feel as though she'd been at sea so long, but right now it felt as though they'd been bound for Par Vollen for years.

"There is a red-bound book in the second shelf. You'll appreciate the sentiment?" Normally he refrained from adding a question to his words. Always he'd made what wasn't an inquiry into a blunt statement, but this wasn't one of those times.

"Is it a gift, Kadan?", she smiled as she stood, walking to the book case with eyes skimming the spines. Hawke slipped a thin book from between two frayed black volumes, waiting to remove it. Her eyes fell on the Arishok who was watching her intently, chin on clasped hands and darkness surrounding his eyes. He and his horns nodded shortly – to which she took the book in her hands.

The book wasn't thick like the others, but thin and unread. "What is this?", the incredulous nature of her voice couldn't be helped. Did he have a sense of humor after all? In her hands; in a red fabric cover laid an Orlais romance novel, fitted with leaflet gold text baring the title. 'Two doves and one Sea.' It was…almost funny if it hadn't been given to her by the Arishok of all people. She could have seen Isabela pushing it into her hands with a playful smirk on her face, but…not the Arishok.

"Is this a yarn? – or do you think this helpful?" She was embarrassed and angry; two emotions that created an irate duet. The Arishok saw no humor in it; barely even acknowledge her anger either.

"I do not tell tales, Kadan. I assumed you would…enjoy it. No one else will bother reading it." If ever she could imagine a Qunari's disappointment it wouldn't have been the solemn look in his eyes as she was baring witness to right now. He seemed to sneer at no one else but himself, turned from her to the closed relic between his elbows.

"I…I don't receive gifts well. I do indeed…appreciate the sentiment." A cackle of thunder followed by lighting seemed to lash at her for her lie. Her words didn't remove the sneer on the Arishok's face either – he could easily see through her lie – so much so that sometimes he knew she was fibbing when even she wasn't wise to it.

Slowly she opened the book, seeing an inked Qunari script penned at the bottom corner. Hawke wouldn't berate him for asking if it had been him to sign it, but she knew now what she'd be doing later in her bedding; deciphering it. She couldn't read or write his hand yet, but she'd find out soon…

"Thank you.", she spoke at the same volume as the rain. Another blaze of lightning exposed his armor in the corner. His shoulder plates were placed atop a crate, just out of sight if she'd still been sitting in her seat. The Arishok's gaze had yet to move, dead-set on the relic under him.

"Your armors looking lonely…may I?" It was all she could think to do. Normally she'd give a man a kiss on the cheek…or more, but something told her it'd get her shunned for another week or two. The skin around his eyes bunched up, but after a few moments he nodded; hair slipped over one shoulder like silk.

She spent the night in his cabin; polished every divot, square, and ledge of his red stoned armor. With each rub of the cloth she placed as much passion as she would have given making love to him – it may have seemed silly a month ago, but it was the closet she had to the act, and already her body was flushing at the thought.

The Arishok watched her – never wavering in his gaze, even when his sharp hands rested above the relic. His gaze gave her sudden warmth, and she paused; looking up at him like a light bug caught in the spider's web.

Hawke couldn't have moved if she'd tried to – he rose and he came to her. His height and size as intimidating as always, but it was when he kneeled beside her that gave her that sensation of being too close to the edge of a cliff.

"Kadan, you are the only good thing I have brought from your native lands." His eyes did an odd dance, as if he was attempting to remove the tense lines from around them. "The pirate would have escaped, stealing back what she'd returned. I'd have returned to burn your city to ash, yet we are here. I will honor the Qun by giving you the respect you deserve…even if it frowns upon this."

Hawke assumed; a dangerous thing but she did – chock it up to cabin fever and pent up tension; both a symptom of him and the lack of combat – but she kissed him regardless. His lips were rough and dry, but they didn't move away from her. Nothing gave her false hope that he'd return any physical affection, but…the sentiment was appreciated.

Cautiously she opened her lips against his – her body giving in and forgetting such things as limitations. He tasted raw against her tongue; salty like the sea…and of the dried beef. She'd imagined this, but her imagination had him tasting bitter like blood…and ravishing her in turn.

One hand left his armor in her lap to trace his jaw; smooth and warm. Her tongue slipped along his lower lip – her fingers daring to thread through the hair hanging before his ear. For a moment she let her teeth bite his lower lip, but that had signaled the end of it – she pulled away from him. He had not reacted - as she'd known he wouldn't, yet that knowledge hadn't helped the well of need and disappointment from coiling in her stomach.

Her lips lingered near his for a few moments; burning to feel his mouth again but she withdrew regardless. The rhythm of her heart skipped a beat – his eyes were opening slowly, exposing dark yellow orbs. Had he…could he have enjoyed that?

"Thank you…Kadan.", she managed while keeping her eyes steady with his own.

Something had change that moment; something untouchable, and it had stayed with them even after she'd finished polishing his armor. Still he watched her closely, eyes moving around her as a whole instead of just at her hands and her eyes. The looks were brandishing her until it felt as though a flick of his fingers would set her ablaze. Maybe she would indeed read the Orlais novel before bed…

He bid her goodbye like always as if nothing had happened, but the flicker in his eyes had her legs itching to sprint down to her cabin, rather than happily stroll there.

"Panahedan Kadan…", and his voice had sounded bottomless in it's intensity than it ever had.

In her bedding she tried to decipher the scrawl at the first page of the novel; the lantern snug in her lap like she was trying to make out a path from the Deep Roads as quietly and quickly as possible.

The day and the events had worn heavily – this boat made small tasks seem profound. She'd had enough sense to blow her lantern out before collapsing on her pillows, drifting into the fade with the lantern's lingering smoke escaping between her legs - the Qunari script and Orlais novel open at her knees. The dreams that night seemed less far fetched and she awoke to the real memory of how his skin had felt under her fingertips.

Hawke had never done more than drink, but this heavy-pleased-feeling felt like that which the Templars called a lyrium high. The muscles in her shoulders were stiff and her bent legs pained to stretch, but still the euphoric daze lingered until she managed to face the sunny breeze outside. For the first time she regretted the journey ever ending – the destitute she'd felt after being denied passage onto the island seemed childish now.

The bath Ashaad had readied for her was warm enough to be relaxing. It was then – in the smooth water - that she allowed her hands to traveled between her legs; coaxing with the smallest amount of pressure. The sparks of pleasure came effortlessly and behind her closed eyes she only had a few moments to imagine the Arishok before she came. With no more than five strokes and thrusts of her fingers she received the hardest release she could remember – the climax was almost painfully long, bringing beads of tears to the side of her eyes. Hawke – without shame - moaned loudly, forgetting how the room echoed, and not realizing her mistake until the Ashaad rapped at her door.

"Ms. Hawke."

Her eyes had become so wide she feared them falling out when the almost insulting tone of his voice came through the door. She gave a stiff reply, "Almost done.", but she could almost feel the Qunari's nose pressed into the door – the feeling wore off after a few minutes, but her heart still jack-hammered even as she dressed.

The Arishok was at the bow of the ship when the Ashaad escorted her outside. The now shimmering red stone over his shoulders; bathed in the brief moment of sun-light before potential rain clouds covered the sun again. Hawke hadn't thought he'd request her presence so soon, but there he was; arms hanging at his side and sharp tipped fingers curling perilously.

He spoke even before she came into his line of sight, "The Ashaad have agreed to spar with you. If the Tamasraans choose your role as soldier it will do to have you as you were before we boarded."

"Sparring? I'd always wondered how you all remained so…cut…over the years.", she admitted with little lie betraying her manner. Hawke had indeed imagined the sight of two powerful Qunari head to head in a match of strength and tact – even going as far as to make Isabela blush at the thought of it.

She missed the dishonest pirate the longer she stayed out at sea, and this was one of those moments that she glorified the tramp despite all her faults and moments of greed.

"I'm sure your imagination has taken you far, Kadan."

For that moment she thought someone had told him of her tryst in the bath earlier. Would the Ashaad tell him such a thing – if he'd ever known for sure what she'd been doing? A nervous bought crept up her but his stare – with the creased skin under his eyes – told her he was more perplexed by her reaction that anything. So no one had told him…and she was only overreacting. He had said something abnormal though, and her eyes flickered brightly at the shining sea before catching his intent gaze again.

"…did you just humor me?", she sounded in disbelief, but her smile wouldn't wane no matter how much she tried. His half-hearted sneer only turned her smile into a smirk as he turned back to the open sea.

They spoke briefly about the Qunari Dialogues he'd loaned her a week ago. She admitted trouble with the alphabet but what she'd thought was a shameful admittance only got her a time to meet him later; a happy ending and even though she needn't agree with him - she did.

The day was spent on the port-side of the ship with the Ashaad. They had her witling down branches - taken from the island - into nothing more than heavy sticks. The work had been given to her no doubt because she was female, but she couldn't bother to worry. Soon she'd show that one Qunari didn't mean a sealed-fate for her like many others assumed. They held enough respect for her to protect her, just as any member under the Qun, but her sex meant they disliked the idea of her fighting at all.

The day ended with only two matches; none them involving her – but watching them fight had been enough that she'd left with little regrets. They truly were more robust than humans, and not just in size…but also in intellect. The way they parried - out of what she'd assumed was defeat - had been impressive.

Before the sun disappeared across the horizon she used the last rays of orange to stretch her limbs with two broken sticks. The Ashaad were all but gone, and those still lingering paid her no mind as she ducked and slashed the air in two, jabbing and stabbing with one and then both sticks. Her muscles flexed continuously, finally burning with exertion after the moon and stars were all that lit the sky. Sweat dried in the breeze before it had time to run down her brow or dampen her hair.

Hawke could smell salt on herself this time, and no doubt the Arishok would smell it as well…but as she barred the hall to his cabin she felt freedom in not worrying about it. Perhaps the Qun was right about sexual relationships…they'd caused trouble for her before; ruined bonds in some cases...made her worry about things like the way she smelled around men.

She'd been close to buying into it all...but then she remembered how it felt to love someone; to feel them inside her, of them enjoying the feeling of intimacy as much as herself. Hawke imagined what that would have been like with a Qunari; painful maybe…but when anything came to the Arishok she'd never thought of 'easy' anyways.

A lone lantern was set at the Arishok's desk, turned down where it illuminated little that the moon's rays through the window didn't already highlight. The darkness - aside from the tense lines it created in the Arishok's face - was comforting. Darkness had always meant danger. Murders, thieves, and rapists lay in the shadows, but on this ship darkness was never frightening...only...just there. It was a treat to let her guard down with such ease as she was growing accustom to.

The Arishok did not look at her. The relic lay open and his gaze was bent to its text. It was the same passage - the width just right on both sides of the open book. Shadows licked under her brow, hiding his eyes. His towering horns held even more light than his face did.

She spoke first, remaining on her feet, "Kadan?"

His response was a noise; something deep and brooding. With a look out the oval windows Hawke saw nothing but black oceans and a few low stars. She was late...

Nothing in his face moved; even as she stood before his desk, watching as one of his sharp-tipped fingers circled the worn fabric of the relic. The Arishok then turned - only when she'd thought he was nothing more than a statue - and looked to the bookshelf aimlessly. The lantern shown in his yellow eyes, making them mimic the stars shining out from the abyss. Hawke looked down, realizing already that she was romanticizing him; the worst thing she could allow in a way.

His voice was almost distraught as he spoke, "Your physical affection has caused me great turmoil, just as the Qun claims."

His impressive features (horns, hair and chiseled face) turned yet again - this time to his red-stoned armor glistening on the same crate as it did. That vein - the one in his neck that she'd stared at too many times - throbbed against the light. Another low rumble came from his chest as if he were in pain. It hadn't surprised her to hear his admittance - she was almost anticipating it in fact. Only a matter of time before her need ruined what ever tie they'd grown over the months...

She remained silent; knowing this would happen but still unsure what to say. Did she justify herself or apology and promise it won't happen again? Despite reading the Qun and foreign views on the Qunari people over again she couldn't relinquish the desire to be touched...the desire to touch...

In the end the growing silence was too much - he'd yet to make her so uncomfortable until now, "I...wish that hadn't been the case. It won't happen again." Her words - halfhearted and forced - did not go over the Arishok's head however. His deep gaze landed on her, but not locking with her eyes as they had done since she first spoke with him in the compound - no...he was looking at her as whole; skimming over her body from the tips of her toes to the last windblown strand of hair. He rose then - the chair skidding gently along the floor as he did so.

This time her body did not freeze. As he approached her she shifted back a step - the look in his eyes blazing and almost...terrifying. The muscles in her legs quivered softly; the mortification of him thinking it was due to him and not the stretches earlier had her throat constricting painfully.

All the while he advanced on her.

Never had he seemed as large as he did now. His bare chest, horns, broad shoulders and intent eyes eventually - and surprisingly - backed her up into his door. The knob at her back made her snort a breathe from her nose; realizing finally that she'd fled from him like some scared child. The humiliation burned in her cheeks, but he paused a foot from her - no doubt reading her emotions on her face easily.

"You fear me now. After all this time, you fear me now? Kadan..."

The touch he placed on her shoulder was just that; a touch and nothing more. That deep frown was elaborated by the light behind him. His eyes were still hidden, but she already knew the look he was giving to her; the stone faced look he wore before he took her back to the was the face he'd given every other Bas but her, and something about it made her sick.

Even his voice couldn't bring her eyes back up to his, "Know that I do this for no one else." The hand on her shoulder grasped her face firmly, pushing her head into the door. It was a seconds breath that she saw him lean down to her; neck flexing as his white hair fell over the bulk of his shoulders. His mouth covered hers just before her instincts could fill her lungs in preparation for the contact. Against her own - his mouth was wide, even more so when she'd kissed him before.

A hot bolt traveled down her body as his lips opened along her own; unfazed by the shivering her jaw gave when his hand pulled her mouth deeper into his. Hawke's eyes remained open, searching blindly at some imaginary text or memory. Was this the fade...?

A grunt vibrating into her mouth had her eyes drooping shut. The Arishok was kissing her and whether unfortunately or fortunately - she couldn't bring herself to push him away, despite the rush of guilt it gave her.

Hesitantly she brought her hands to his chest, but once in contact with his skin she slid her palms up to his neck briskly, feeling how dry and smooth the warmth and texture was under her hands. At any moment he would end this - she knew - so she hooked a hand under his mane to hold his neck. That vein throbbed under her palm, beating strong as a sharpness grazed her lips. His teeth hooked on her lower lip as she'd done his the first time. Hawke moaned; deciding it wasn't the worst thing she could have done.

Warmth embraced her, and it was only when she took a peek that she saw his arms on either side of her, bracing on the door by her shoulders as he pulled at her lips roughly.

Another puff of air left her nose as his tongue pushed into her mouth, slipping along her teeth with a purpose. Isabela had been right; their tongues were so much wider than a humans...

The Arishok growled - the only warning - before she was lifted and promptly pressed into the door by his stomach. His neck rippled under her hand, and his shoulder flexed under the other as he straightened his body, now leveling her. His lips never left hers...making her question only a moment how many times he'd been proposition to breed. He didn't seem unknowledgeable...that was...for certain.

An ache settled between her legs as his heated body used the nook to keep her suspended; making her moan again when he shifted to bring one of her legs around his waist.

Suddenly he thrust against her - the tight muscles in his stomach driving past the cotton of her skirted fienery and right along her clothed sex. He left her lips when she gasped; head tilting back into his grasping hand. The Arishok grunted vigorously, despite how far away his hips were from hers. Then - as if that were the end of it - he dropped her to her feet, leaving her to brace against the door alone - her legs indeed shaking now.

He didn't speak, but his breathing was heavy enough to negate words. Hawke took a second to hold in a pitiless moan as he stared down at her. Eventually he spoke the words she could have lived without, "You see…Kadan. When I leave you like this will things be as they were before? Sex has been breed into your veins for centuries as the only way to express your affections. I see this in your eyes...even now..."

This had been a lesson? - a way to put her in her place? Hawke hadn't known the Arishok to be so devious in his teachings, and yet - here she stood. He could have brought her to the brink in a matter of minutes if he'd continued.

"You crave sexual release, Hawke.", he spoke. What had once been flattering; how he said her name was now something he used to get her attention. "So I will give it to you."

What should have been passionate and intimate had now been broken down into some sort of masturbation, but not by herself. She was pulled to his desk roughly, pressed down on top of it roughly and even disrobed roughly. Her naked body lay exposed under the orange light - her robes opened and her belt hanging off the desk as his clawed hands skated down her stomach to curl around her hips. His methods had a pattern, as if he'd found the quickest and simplest of ways to arouse a female. Curved fingers pinched at her nipples, while the other smoothed her sex.

It felt wrong to enjoy this, but even with the Arishok's masked expression peering down at her as his hands worked - she couldn't help but moan.

When one knuckle found the bud at her sex and he rubbed it ruefully, as she tensed and groaned. The end wasn't long from now. Already she could feel that spark of the climax building, but the sensation was muted as if a part of her refused to enjoy it like her body had craved. As the lickings of her orgasm rushed forward she managed to make eye contact with him. He was watching her, eyes seeming as though they'd never left her own as his mouth formed a thin line and his brow creased.

As she came she grasped his face and leaned to kiss him, muffling her gasps and seeking out that meager bit of intimacy. The Arishok was many things but never had she thought of him as frightened, but indeed his eyes were wide when he leaned back from her hungry lips. The expression wavered and a sneer returned as his fingers flicked her sex until she couldn't take it anymore.

Hawke's body rocked back from his hand and she grasped at his wrist as she curled into herself. Her whole body felt hot and loose - the orgasm still washing over her, almost making it hard to tell whether the boat was rolling or her.

She lay there - or rather...she was allowed to lay there on his desk as her breath returned. Her eyes slipped shut as the after effects continued on. Her peak may not have been as she'd hoped but the lingering sensations were just...beautiful.

Wet warmth caused her eyes to crack open through the haze. The Arishok was tasting her skin; licking at the area between her breasts as if it was nothing more than an inclination...which it was.

He had licked her a few more times sporadically during the minutes he allowed for her bones to re-solidify. The act was almost better than her orgasm had been, but it ended as well...and always too soon with him, as if he only ever did things in parts until they eventually became a complete whole. Hawke smiled, knowing even she made little sense now with the lightness in her head.

Before they parted - which had been formal almost - she stopped to speak, "Thank you, Kadan...but..." The look on his face had been the likes of which she couldn't begin to detail. His eyes were almost negate of the normal tension around them as he listened to her from beside his desk. The euphoria drained considerably when his frown deepened, but his eyes remained loose. "...that...wasn't what I'd meant...Panahedan." The Arishok had watched her go - never saying anything or looking as though he wanted to.

As expected he didn't request her presence for a few days, though she hadn't minded as much as she'd thought she would. Hawke's days had been spent reading and sparing with the Ashaad. At night she'd star gaze on the deck with her lantern and a book. She counted the dying stars; recording how many she saw with little notches in the Orlais romance novel. Bethany would have giggled behind an open palm if she'd witnessed her sister doing such a thing.

The Arishok had done her a favor in a way; for three days she was content enough to ignore her desires for him, but on the fourth her body burned and the nagging of what he'd done finally got to her. He'd been calculated when he'd touched her. Hawke was no fool - he had affection for her; respect and even a desire to be close with her...but he seemed unwilling or unable to express any of that physically. Sex to him had been about breeding, preparing a female and impregnating her.

The Qun made sense to her in every way but this. Perhaps it was a selfish and greedy thing to crave intimacy like she did…though as she sat on the deck by the bow she allowed herself a moment to remember. He had run his tongue over her afterwards...tasted the skin around her breasts and even down the flushed peak of one. The ache settled in her again. The feel of his tongue had meant more than his hand between her legs...and something told her the Arishok knew that as much as she did, which could have been why she'd heard little from him since.

Hawke leaned against the pulpit, easing the tension in her sore back. Fighting the Ashaad had been different without weapons. Their strength had easily outmatched her own when she was unable to strike them down with the quick precision of her blades. In the three matches there'd been only one she hadn't lost, but even that had been a close call and the Ashaad had nodded to her regretfully; fire burning behind his eyes .

Bruises had gathered around her arms and back. The Qunari apparently pinned their opponents to the floor before calling a victory, and their heavy feet squishing her into the decks had become painful all too quickly. Again she missed Bethany, but this time for selfish reasons - her healing hadn't been the best thing about her, but it had never been unappreciated during times like these where her body ached from head to toe.

Another dying star shot across the sky - the third one tonight. As Hawke laid her head back - the chaos of the sky melded with its order. Its purpose was unknown, but its message was clear and she smiled up at its beauty.

The creak of wooden boards alerted her to the cabin's stairwell.

The Arishok paused on the last few steps, watching her closely before boarding the deck towards her. As was always normal when she saw him - he was dressed down. The garments around his leather pants swayed in the breeze as did the white hair at his shoulders. He said nothing, but she wasn't waiting for him to speak anymore. Really, it was just nice to have his company. After he paused beside her crouched form near the pulpit she went back to watching the stars.

The silence was enjoyable - only the waves crashing against the hull of the ship and the breeze pushing past the sails was audible. The winds were favorable as always, but they were pressing them closer to Par Vollen tonight as if itching to get them there as soon as possible. Hawke wondered - as she caught his gaze - if she'd ever see him again after the Tamassrans chose her path.

A fourth dying star fell out the corner of her eye and in turn she tallied another mark near the Qunari script at the front of the novel. She had yet to read more than the first page of the book, always finding herself thinking of a certain Qunari in place of the striking Orlesian man noted in the story. When she returned to the skies she could see the Arishok watching her still out her peripherals. Indeed his eyes prickled her skin; enhanced the ache between her legs, but she pushed it away as gently as possible, turning to scouting out the many constellations instead. Her goal had been to find The Warrior tonight in the stars, but as of yet she couldn't see him.

Slowly and carefully, as if a spell had been cast upon him and in turn on her - she watched as he kneeled to her and just as leisurely closed the Orlais novel beside her legs. The Arishok took it with him as he stood - it lay in one dark hand in front of his chest. Hawke saw nothing betraying his intentions, but stood regardless as he turned to leave. Something had her following him down the hallway - her heart beating heavy in her chest as she found herself in his cabin, watching as he placed the novel at his desk, opening it with one hand to the first page. It all felt very surreal, as if he were a demon leading her into the pits of the fade; controlling her limbs without her understanding of how. Hawke kept still at the center of the room nonetheless, watching one of his sharp black claws trace the Qunari script intimately.

Then he read it to her, "Anaan esaam Qun. Anaan es Hawke."

For a moment she wavered on her feet - the words she knew, but the text had been...well it wasn't even that it was unreadable - she just never tried very hard to decipher it for one reason or another.

"You, Kadan, were a worthy rival then, and you are a worthy friend now. Powerful and...persuasive - too much for your own good. Even then."

It was shameful that she couldn't hear him without remembering the sound of his male grunt when he'd pinned her to his door a few days ago.

When his eyes skimmed over her she felt as though she'd spoken her thoughts aloud; caught in his locked gaze like some criminal.

While he came to her she suddenly realized where she was once again, but how or when she got here she couldn't remember. He smelt of the sea - a smell that she never wanted to live without after this voyage.

"We will be home soon, Kadan."

Home. She imagined the fertile lands of his home...soon to be her home, and found that this boat felt more like home at this moment than Ferelden or Kirkwall ever did. Would she feel the same about Par Vollen...even after being assigned a role away from him...away from fighting? Her weapons would be her only companions then, and she may not even be able to use them properly.

The Arishok stared down at her; close yet too far away to feel his breath on her. He looked old in the light, as if he were tired and beaten by the voyage as it finally neared its end. Hawke wished she had the courage to initiate something with him, as she would have done to any other man be it Qunari or Human - but his eyes seemed almost hollow now that he looked away from her.

"If I give into you, it will be tonight.", he admitted; eyes shifting from her to something behind her.

Even though his words weren't expected - she didn't dwell on them longer than necessary. To bend him until he caved in was not what expressing physical affection meant to her. The idea of him taking her with that same frown he'd worn when he'd pressed her into his desk almost made her gut twist. Slowly, as if her body found it hard to deny him - she shook her head, "It...that is not how I want you. It is not affection if you do not desire to do it as didn't feel right before and it still won't if you allow me tonight."

Before she could finish speaking he turned around abruptly, emitting a frustrated growl before slamming a large fist on his desk. The noise was shocking in the tense silence – the lantern rattled; threatening to topple over. Soft fine hairs along her neck stood on end at seeing the side of his face turned down furiously as he gazed in her general direction - but not looking at her. The muscles in his back seemed to move with his heavy breath; rippling as he turned back to face the surface of his desk. After a moment of uncomfortable silence he spoke; a hoarse noise, " me what to do." His body turned, waist bending at the hip to lock eyes with her. The skin under the ridges of his horns wrinkled, as did the lines around his mouth and eyes as she remained stock-still and silent.

"Or I will do it my way, Hawke. You have already infested my mind, and to deny me now would be...unwise."

Hawke paused before taking her first step to him; thinking carefully about what she'd been doing this past month and how she'd rectify it all right now. The Arishok looked as furious as he did before attacking Kirkwall; patience having run bone-dry then...and now. Quickly - before his face turned any sourer - she stepped up to him.

One hand came to rest on his arm, curling around the hard muscle to thumb the smooth skin methodically. In his face she saw little reaction, but once again...she expected nothing but. Speaking her shame in his native tongue - she pressed her lips to his chest, dragging them up to the slope towards his neck before her height limited her any further. His body moved against her; turning to face her fully but the action startled her lips off him. She' expected something else…but he did nothing.

When everything settled again she peered up at the Arishok, seeing the patience hanging on by a thread. The tension he welled within her had the opposite effect she would have expected - it turned her body loose and warm as she licked at his dark nipple, then kissing against the painted red lines. Hawke breathed deeply, running her fingers gently down his mountainous abdominals, pressing gently to ease the stiffness of each one.

A rumble - passing from his chest to her lips - spurred one hand off his arm to grasp at his back, tracing the curves of muscles up one side. Hawke could feel the hard planes loosen as the moments went by. Her kisses turned to gentle bites - but when his dark-tipped fingers threaded through her hair she sank her teeth down roughly. His response was a heavy reverberating groan; one that lit her face aflame and her sex with a similar heat. A few hairs on her head loosened in his fingers as she dug her own fingers (short nails included) into the flesh of his back.

Gradually – as if she had to lick past a fine layer of sweat – she tasted the tang of his skin on her tongue; something strong and completely male. The claws rubbing through her hair tugged and then took a firm handful.

The Arishok towered over her; beginning to reach for her lips, but there was a moment of pause before the hand in her hair tightened painfully and she was spun around against the desk. Inhaling deeply at the movement – Hawke gripped the edge behind her, maintaining a balance that really didn't need to be held – his grasp on her hair was strong enough to keep her suspended if even her knees decided to buckle. His hips added to the support, pinning her there, and yet still he paused; eyes searching briefly before he lifted her to sit on the lip of the desk.

The skin of his sides was smooth as it slid along her inner thighs to settle between them. Her robes hiked upwards; the air cool on what had once been warm covered skin. In a jarring sort of way his hands grasped her face – his large fingers covering her ears and jaw like a bear trap. There was a moment where she thought of fighting out of his grasp; telling him he was right…as always, but his lips sealed their fate. Turning back wasn't an option any longer…not that it had been for awhile now.

There was no place to go but forward, and his tongue against hers made that inevitable conclusion seem that much sweeter.

With none of the apprehension of before Hawke sunk her lips into his, flicking her tongue against his thicker one and along the corner of his mouth.

Marred with a growl against her mouth - the Arishok grasped the shoulder of her robe, yanking it down her arm and pulling her by the freshly bare flesh towards him. He wasn't warm – he was hot; practically burning through her clothes as her body bent to his whim. When he bit her lip – hard and swift – she whimpered, almost feeling ashamed of the noise until his chest vibrated against hers in a heady groan. Her fingers went to his hair, threading through the softness to massage at the thickness of his neck.

Soon her lips became raw; red and puckered as another dutiful bite was administered to her lower lip. Her duller teeth were no match for his sharper ones, but she bit back regardless, adding more brutality to match his own.

The strength of his hands was put to use; sliding from her hair to the center of her chest where he all but thrust her down on top the desk. A groan left her mouth, falling out past wet and abused lips that already missed the warmth of his. Again the lantern shook - the flame flickering at her right and casting a shivering glow on the horned beast above her. With his hand over her chest she could feel her own heart thudding under him; eager and restless. The Arishok had eyes that could have turned a darkspawn to stone; yet they looked upon her as if he'd fallen into a stupor – the sight of it made her pull in a heavy breath past the weight of his hand.

His voice made the room thick, rather than breaking the illustriousness of it all, "Do I disrobe you slowly, Kadan?" The ends of his words were guttural, creating a sea of gooseflesh to spring upon her arms and thighs.

"You disrobe me how you want…because…you want to know what's underneath.", she was surprised at the vigor of her own voice as he watched her speak. Her mind felt fleeting yet she held his gaze even while his eyes narrowed.

"I already know what's underneath.", he responded as if she'd asked him a childish question about philosophy, but his action said he understood…somehow.

With eyes tracing the edge of her clavicle – his claws slid under the collar of her robes, tugging it loose of its belt slowly – and when he exposed one breast he actually looked at it this time; eyes pausing over the curve of it before turning to her eyes yet again. The frown that never seemed to wane was there still, but his eyes were lighter, and she was already becoming accustomed to seeing his emotions in his eyes rather than his face.

Steadily - as if it was the only way the Arishok could think of aside from the rough yanking he'd done the first time – he pulled her robes apart, slipping the belt from under her and letting it slide past the edge of the desk by his feet

Once nude Hawke felt her skin tightened; the cold guiding her up from the desk to slide her skin against his; seeking his warmth as her body wanted. The lantern's light flickered in one of his yellow eyes before she completely melded into him, wrapping her arms around his chest to grasp at the muscled shoulder blades there. The flaps of her robe lay along her sides, and soon one of his hands slid into them to touch her back as she did his. He did nothing else…and…neither did she, both pausing at the contact.

"Do you require further stimulation?", his stiff tone had her frowning against his chest. Hawke could feel his heart beating faster past the thickness of his skin even as he remained waiting on her response.

She narrowed her eyes but smiled softly at his manner. He sure was a romantic…just like the Orlais man in the novel, she thought ruefully.

"Do you…?", her tone was simple.

"No.", a curt response, and she didn't know whether it was flattering that he could take her without anymore foreplay, or insulting that he didn't find this enjoyable.

"Would you prefer to start now…or…", her thigh lifted against his waist, rubbing softly as did the hands along his back; kneading as she pressed her body further into his. The blazing look in his eyes made her suddenly insecure, "…does it even feel good."

He grumbled almost; his voice almost frustrated but low, "I am not numb. Of course it feels good."

"Then…?", Hawke issued; pulling back from him to watch the feigned fight die out in his eyes.

"Parshaara." – and with that the Arishok grasped her fully around the waist, running a large hand under her rear to then slam her back on the desk. This time the lantern fell; rolling on its side.

Hawke gasped as the flame expanded briefly from the momentum; struggling now to upend the fire hazard...but a curled fist shattered the glass as well as the flame with a growl before she could even speak. The remainders of the lantern were shoved off the desk, clashing to the wooden floor as a hot mouth descended along her neck; sucking the thin skin by her jugular fiercely.

Hawke shook on a long groan – once idle bronze hands were now skimming over her ribs, cupping her breast firmly and biting at her neck. Her body shivered; legs wrapping around his hips, hands curling in his hair and finding leverage on one of his ebony horns as a scratching hand wound under her back, arching her into him. It was like embracing a beast – his mouth fell down her neck; teeth dragging down to her breast where they took in her nipple. Nothing was slow and sensuous any longer…but…then again…had it ever been?

Once he left her sore breast - his hands spread her thighs; doing nothing more than rubbing her wet heat into his bare stomach and growling lowly in his throat.

All Hawke could do was lay back; fighting between moaning like a wanton mare and saving face like the Arishok was so well at doing. His touches were far from romantic, but even if he'd started off returning her affections in this way – no part of her could imagine him being anything but how he was now; now…as he tasted his way up her neck again while rocking her sex along his hard stomach. Was it safe to say she was even awake?...was it safe to close her eyes as he tilted her hips in the most delicious of ways?

Words escaped her as her body tensed, tightening her gut before releasing it in a wave of euphoria. Hawke came with the stars upside down in her sights as her head peeled back. She moaned loudly as she did in the bath…which seemed so long ago. His body didn't stop moving along hers; hands never lost their grip as she sobbed at the slaps of waning pleasure – it was so much better than the quick release he'd given her a few days ago…nothing…was quite like this.

When he continued thrusting against her hyper sensitive sex she gasped and shoved a hand to his chest, "K-kadan!..." Hawke could feel the heat lingering from the wetness of her climax against his skin. The Arishok – for all his stoic glory – looked…flustered…

His yellow eyes seemed darker without the lanterns orange glow; desperate in combination with the laxness of his mouth. Under her hands his heart thrummed, urging her to take them lower…and she did; tracing fingers down his stomach until the tips worked past the wrap of leather to tug at the knot of red fabric. The Arishok made no move to withdraw. Even as she pulled – loosening the fabric eagerly - the only thing he did was watch; hair framing his face as the fabric slipped off his hips.

Once again she was pressed down to the desk; kept flat by his locked arm. Her eyes strained to find his face in the ill-lit room, past the nude length of her body to catch him removing the brace of leather – it hit the wooden floor with a dull thud. The sound made her sex throb – even more so when more fabric rustled between his legs. The anticipation was like that before every battle, but thicker, as she'd imagined dueling him would have felt like.

Hawke let her head loll to the side; hearing his breath in combination with the sounds of his pants rending while her eyes found the knotted woodwork along the ceiling. Some how her heart didn't stop beating when his lips touched the divot of her stomach; trailing down before slipping his tongue into her navel. The room felt suffocating; heated to the point of almost being uncomfortable - and that feeling only grew when his hands brought her just above his hard length; hot and exposed.

She'd relinquished any sense of control long ago. Being aboard this ship meant she wasn't the strongest any longer...though no matter how powerful she became there was always him by the docks; mocking her almost as he'd sat in that chair. This moment...was different. In this moment his thick sex was easing along her rear, and her own was squashed against the area just above it.

There was no need to look at him - she knew well enough that the Arishok's darkened eyes were watching as he twitched strongly under her. Hands grasped her hips; kneaded them firmly...but he remained still, almost...waiting.

She panted - unable to fully satisfy her lungs with fresh air that wasn't filled with the smell of the sea and the growing musk of sex.

"You are ready, Hawke.", at her name she snapped her eyes open, watching his mouth form a line. He pulled back - never breaking eye contact before pressing the head of his length into her heat. Hawke hadn't looked at the size of him - out of some fear or shame - she wasn't sure, but by the feel along her rear she'd known it was just as large as he was.

A strong hand around the crook of her neck kept her from moving against the desk as he stretched her; pressing further despite how her body resisted. It burned; growing hotter like a wave until finally it simmered and he remained still. As she relaxed, gasping against the hand at her neck - she realized the gasping wasn't only coming from her lips. The Arishok - fitted with a sheen of sweat highlighted in the moon - was also pulling in tight breaths. The sight of him made her body tense; constricting around his girth painfully.

Before he moved - as if it were a last minute decision - he buried his face in the other side of her neck, breathing in and exhaling humid breath against her hair and skin.

He'd waited for her long enough, and he had to move eventually, but when he did it hurt like that of a fresh stab wound despite the twinge of pleasure. Even her grip on his neck, in his hair, and on his face couldn't keep her from struggling when he thrust inside her a second time. It hurt. There was no denying that whatever he had between his legs wasn't designed for her...was probably even large for a Qunari - though she hadn't expect average from him.

There was no slow and gentle either - the Arishok set a pace as though she were a Qunari female, and instead of that making her gut churn it made her body writhed. He stretched her still, even as his hips slapped into hers for the dozenth time. When his teeth pulled into the skin of her neck she almost howled at the moon. What had been painful before, now felt too good - her skin burning in its intensity.

On a particularity deep thrust her face was pulled into his hands.

Everything was out of focus; thin tears clouding her vision even as she saw the Arishok's teeth bared and eyes blazing. When he went even deeper she opened her mouth to cry out, but he muffled her quickly; using the moment to pound into her relentlessly.

Hawke's orgasm decided now was the time to emerge, and indeed - with his teeth holding her mouth to his - she sobbed into his lips, coming despite how her sex struggled to constrict his girth. A thick vibration traveled down her throat from his licking mouth, sending another wave crashing down her body.

Her legs couldn't fully wrap around his hips, but by the Qun she tried her best; stressing her thighs against his with each thrust the Arishok gave her. He rode her through another orgasm within minutes and still he ceased to slow. As her groans dimmed against his mouth she was pulled up from the desk, molded against his chest as gravity assisted him now. His hips pushed her up and her body sunk down; easier now after her second - or was it third? – climax.

In this position her rear barely grazed the desk by the time she felt his whole body start to tense; signaling the end. Frightfully - as the thought of him filling her started another breathed of an orgasm - she grasped along his neck, smoothing down his hair before grasping the curve of one tall horn, holding on as he rocked into her body in jarring motions. The Arishok growled, bringing her to her peak for a final roaring time before his claws dug into her hip and back, poking lightly through her skin as the heat of his seed filled her. The choked grunts from his throat and the lazy roll of his hips made her coo like a baby bird while his climax seeped down her thighs in combination with her own fluids.

The breeze from outside rattled the panes as they caught their breath. The musical wind at sea was almost humorous in the way it eased the silence.

Too soon Hawke found it hard to breathe; knowing full well that his reaction after this could make everything just now worthless. The euphoria still buzzed in her head - the weakness in her limbs threatened to turn her arms into water, but his hands around her remained firm; possessive even.

Minutes passed and still they remained quiet - the length inside her barely wavered even as her body desperately tried to remain still. It was now - as the hand on her back caressed the bend there - that she opened her mouth to speak, but no words could come out when she was quickly being turned around and pressed chest first on the desk. The red Orlais novel stared almost mockingly at her as the Arishok entered her from behind, resuming another vigorous bout.

In fractions he slowed, almost becoming gentle before pulling out strangled noises from her throat as he pounded into her. Her rear stung as it came in contact with his stomach time and time again, but there would be no greater lie than to say it wasn't wonderful.

This time was quicker than the first; hungry and passionate...less...'awkward' wasn't even the right word, 'clumsy' wasn't either…more 'unbridled' was better.

Hawke's arms stretched to steady her along his desk, balancing herself as he drove the front of her thighs against the edge mercilessly.

Droplets of moisture fell along her back and ran down into a curve of muscle; adding to the sound of his hissing growl as he came again. The heat of his orgasm made her moan against the novel under her cheek.

He took her again later in the night, after licking his and her sweat from her back first, only to continue bathing her skin after flipping her over once more. The third time he was slow - her body against his once more while rocking into her as she touched the length of his horns; caressing the points of his ears and cupping the shape of his face. His eyes had remained closed then, until he felt her tense around his sex - then he watched her face as her eyes lidded and lips parted. When he came - he held her into the dip of his hips, locking in as deep as possible. Hawke tugged at his hair, coaxing him gently until he leaned into her - hands bracing the desk at her hips - spent.

Sweat covered their skin in a fine layer; shining in the moonlight as her forehead fell into his neck as his did in hers. Before his chest stilled against hers he spoke gravelly – the passage he'd kept from her this whole time.

"There is no greater honor, no better victory than to assist in the same for that of your equals, followers, and friends.", a half-hearted bite was administered to her neck as his words ended on a drawl growl.

Hawke mewled; eyes open as his words sunk in. She couldn't exactly understand the meaning of what he'd done to her in way of the passage…but it didn't matter – she traced his horns and tugged his hair all the same.

Before morning came she went back to her cabin; happy to loose her balance every now and then cause of the sweet ache between her thighs. Beside her door she paused, looking solemnly at the faded hallway boards, knowing that within less than a week she would be standing on land; on foreign land. The Arishok had dressed her, combed her hair with his sharp fingers and pressed the Orlais novel to her chest. He'd said nothing after having spoken the passage into her sweat-slicked skin, but she did…

…she'd muttered that she loved him. A stupid thing to even think of saying, but he'd acted as if she'd remained silent; a good thing in the end. For all she knew – after the haze of sex wore off – she'd feel differently about him than she did now, but right now…with the stickiness seeping between her thighs she wanted nothing more than to sleep the rest of the night with him. Instead of drifting into the fade in the Arishok's arms – like the Orlais maiden and her Orlais horseman – she curled into her bedding, holding the novel to her chest as she slept alone.

In the morning she woke to the sound of squawking birds. On the deck a dozen flocks of white cranes soared to an island on her right. Small uninhabited islands littered the horizon; some only the size of specks and some close enough to pass. The sun was bright in the sky and the clouds were sparse, mimicking the ripples on the bottom of the sea. Hawke enjoyed the warmth of the day, curling her fingers around the pulpit as the greens of one island came into view.

Looking at solid land lifted her spirits, and for the moment – with the Ashaad watching the islands as she did, and probably the Arishok watching it from his windows as well – she couldn't find anything but excitement for the destination ahead. Even if the worst were to happen – she could bare it knowing what had happened last night…

She smiled as a breeze tickled her cheeks. Par Vollen sounded as good as any place to be…even if it was without the Arishok…