The Crown

By: Calore

"I thought I might find you here."

Hawke sat before the fireplace, her long form sprawled over a high-backed plush armchair, her Mabari at her feet. At the voice the dog jumped to its feet to greet the newcomer. Hawke didn't crack an eyelid.

"Where else would I be? I live here."

"The new Viscount should be in the keep, shouldn't she?" Isabela teased, bending down to scratch the dog's ears. "Have you been keeping watch over your mistress, Spot? I bet you have. You'd make so much coin from the minstrels selling gossip stored in your cute little head."

Hawke grunted, finally turning her head to watch her traitorous dog roll on its back for a coveted pat from the pirate. "How can you call it that? It doesn't have a single spot on its coat. It's purebred, designed for war and tearing out enemies' throats."

Isabela only chuckled. "He's male. All men roll on their backs for me. You're such a good boy," she cooed, ignoring Hawke when the mage muttered a snide comment under her breath. "Even if your mistress can be such a grump."

"He knows you're a thief no matter how many scratches you give him," Hawke retorted.

"Pirate," Isabela corrected good-naturedly. "In any case, why were you sleeping in that chair? You do have a bed in this place. Several, in fact. I ought to know, I'm sure we've tested every single one of them," Isabela grinned slyly, golden eyes glinting in memory.

Hawke rubbed at her own gritty eyes and rose to stretch tired muscle. "Dozed off. It's been a bloody mess, cleaning up Kirkwall. And I'm not Viscount, mind you. There's been no coronation."

"Oh, come off it. Everybody knows you're the one who's in charge now, it just needs to be made official-like and all," the pirate scoffed from her seated position on the plush carpet with Spot. Hawke resisted calling him that, though the name was growing on her, much like many things related to Isabela.

"That may be the case, but I'm still not Viscount, even if Seneschal Bran does hound me every hour of the bloody day for ridiculous matters like where to house all the delegates pouring in from the Free Marches," Hawke muttered crossly. "And selections on color and theme for some ball or another to meet the rest of the bloody nobles and their mothers. Maker, that man was easier to deal with when he simply looked down his nose at me."

"It is an impressive nose," Isabela agreed. "But don't you see? You're ruler now and the Seneschal only reports to the Viscount."

Hawke looked at Isabela bemusedly through tousled dark locks. "Why Isabela," Hawke chuckled. "You doknow something about political matters. And here I thought such things were beneath a pirate's attention."

"Common knowledge, Hawke," Isabela sniffed, playing along. "You're the country bumpkin, not me."

"In that case, pirate, you ought to know that there can be no coronation without a crown." Hawke sat back down and yawned, propping her chin on her palm, her eyes returning to the fire. "It seems that it's been missing since the Qunari invasion. The keep's been searched in every nook and cranny and the thing can't be found. I'm told it's possible the Qunari took it with them when they withdrew, but I doubt that. It's quite unlike them to take it, especially since the Arishok made it quite clear that material goods were quite beneath them. The crown, if they took it, would have only been an empty, and dishonorable, gesture." Hawke sighed. "I suppose it's possible it was just lost in the confusion, or even stolen."

Hawke frowned when she heard only silence. She turned her head to Isabela and saw a far too innocent expression on her face.

"Isabela," Hawke started.

Isabela scowled. "I didn't say anything!"

"That's what worries me. You always have something to say," the mage retorted.

"Not always," the pirate muttered, avoiding eye contact.

"Do not change the subject. You had something to do with the crown going missing, did you not?"

"Did not."

"You're lying. I can tell."

Isabela gasped in outrage. "You certainly cannot! I have the best poker face in Kirkwall."

"Yes, and I suppose your recent luck in the Hanged Man back rooms would represent that."

"Oh, shut up," the pirate muttered. "Fine, I suppose I had... something to do with it."

"Isabela," Hawke sighed. "What did you do?"

"Promise me you won't get angry."

"I can't promise if I don't know yet."

"Exactly." Isabela turned to Spot, who was still panting quite happily under her stroking hand. "You'll protect me if Hawke gets angry, won't you, sweet? She can throw a right pisser and I certainly don't want that aimed at me." The dog woofed happily, turning adoring eyes up to her and attempted a wet kiss. "Bollocks, that's disgusting, no matter how adorable you are."

"Isabela," Hawke said in a warning tone.

"All right, all right! So... maybe I know where it is." She at least sounded guilty. Barely.

"I don't think I want to ask why or how you know. Just tell me how to find it and I'll send someone to retrieve it. Unless, of course, this requires more effort than a messenger and perhaps a good chunk of my fortune," Hawke added, eyes narrowing.

"Er, I wouldn't say that that's really needed." Abruptly, she rose from the floor and settled herself on Hawke's lap, bringing her arms around the mage's neck and her cleavage enticingly close. Hawke, however, only leveled her gaze at Isabela expectantly. "I won't be so easily distracted, Isabela," she murmured. "I'm not like one of your past lovers. But I'm almost afraid to hear it now if you're resorting to this."

"'Lovers' is a rather loose term for that," Isabela laughed uneasily. With a final sigh, she reached into her belt satchel and pulled free the crown, wrapped in velvet. Hawke closed her eyes, not sure whether to feel horrified or resigned or perhaps to just burst out laughing.

"Isabela, you stole the crown of Kirkwall."

"I did not," Isabela said defensively, crown still in hand. She looked at it wistfully, turning the fine dwarven-crafted gold in her hands. "I mean, I came back with the relic, didn't I? That thing would have made me filthy rich, but I still gave it back to those barbarians and stuck out my neck for Castillon."

"A neck that I wanted to wring when you made off with it and left that pitiful note," Hawke interrupted crossly. "Maker, Isabela. This is the crown. The crown.The prized heirloom of generations of Kirkwall rulers. Though I shouldn't expect any less from you since you also stole that relic that almost caused a war," Hawke added under her breath.

"I came back, didn't I?" The pirate repeated. "And after you trounced the Arishok, I found the crown, thank the Maker it still wasn't on Dumar's head. It was like fate. A trade for one priceless artifact for another. And I couldn't let the opportunity pass, what kind of thief would I be if I did?"

"I suppose we should all be grateful that this wasn't melted down or pawned off and on the next ship to the Tevinter or Orlais," Hawke muttered wearily, taking the crown from her. Firelight glinted off it, burnishing the gold into a warm hue.

"What do I get out of it?"

Hawke cocked a brow. "Isabela, darling, you just admitted to stealing this. And you are returning it to the rightful owner, to Kirkwall. I don't think there's much room for negotiation here."

Isabela pouted in disappointment. "Yes, but it's the thought that counts, isn't it? And shouldn't I get something out of it at least?"

Hawke only shook her head in amusement and leaned back. "What is it that you want, Isabela?"

"Well, I was thinking, since you've got the entire city treasury at your disposal..."

"Emphasis that it is the city'streasury, pirate." Hawke leaned back, her blue eyes darkening. "I'll not use the coffers for your whims. You know my own pockets are deeper than I know what to do with."

Isabela sighed in mock disappointment. "And here I was hoping for another ship or two so I could have a right proper pirate fleet. It'd be the terror of the seas, you know."

"Until you get drunk and wreck it on the Wounded Coast. At least that's more manageable than, say, giving over the Hanged Man like Varric harangues me about."

Isabela's eyes widened in surprise. "Truly? You'll buy me another when I've already got Castillon's ship?"

Hawke arched her brow again. "Yes, of course, if that is what you really want. Kirkwall isn't quite the port it once was, but I'm sure we could commission a ship to be built if none in the harbor are to your liking. Varric would have contacts for that, I'm sure."

Isabela was stunned to silence, a rare sight indeed. Hawke enjoyed it while she could until the pirate cupped her face and kissed her. "I was joking, you know," she muttered against Hawke's lips.

"I know. But I can give you that ship. It's no trouble, really."

She laughed, wrapping her arms tighter around Hawke's neck. "Oh, what I'd give to be able to say that. 'I've enough coin to buy you an entire pirate fleet, Isabela. What color of ribbon would you like that wrapped in?'" she mimicked.

Hawke smiled back. "You know what's mine is yours as well. You've only to ask."

"Well, that's very generous of you, but I don't really want a fleet. One's enough for me." Isabela turned her eyes back to the crown still held in Hawke's hand. "Would they really not have made you Viscount without that?"

"I doubt that. I think they just need it as a symbol. But if you must know, I've been, ah, resisting the idea." Hawke looked slightly embarrassed.

"Why? Must people would be thrilled to be Viscount," Isabela teased. "Ecstatic, in fact."

Hawke fiddled with the crown, the back of her mind filled with an image of Seneschal Bran writhing in mortification at the idle way she handled the priceless heirloom. "I don't want to be Viscount. It's... too much. I never wanted to rule Kirkwall, it just happened that way. And people are relying on me to lead them down the right path while I've got Circle and apostate mages wreaking havoc and templars pouring in from every direction to hunt them down. It is not a good time, it seems, to be in Kirkwall now." Hawke smiled ruefully. "I suppose this is partially my fault and I'll have to fix it."

Isabela rested her forehead against Hawke's hair in sympathy. "Yes, you do have your job cut out for you. I'm sorry. But I think your mother and sister would have been proud of you. Even that wanker, Carver, made amends. You made something of yourself."

Hawke looked away. "I was thinking about that, actually. Before you came. I was thinking about visiting Mother's grave. And Bethany's. Even though the graves are empty - I burned the bodies, it's only markers there. And it's been a long time since I last visited. But it might do me some good to... be there."

"Do you want me to come with you?"

"I'd like that."

Isabela smiled. "And maybe after all this is over, we'll sail away into the sunset, the pirate and the lord of Kirkwall."

Hawke grinned back. "Yes. That sounds wonderful, actually. Sailing away with you into the glorious sunset, pirating away madly. We'll have every sort of bounty hunter after our asses."

Isabela grinned. "Just like old times."

A/N: This was written almost immediately after I finished playing Dragon Age 2. I haven't played Origins, so I have no idea what Isabela's personality was like back then, though I'm assuming it's very much the same as it was in DA2. Also, I took some liberties with the crown; I know in the game, it's sort of a black/grey color, so I decided to just ignore that and make it gold (why is the crown that ugly anyway? Good Lord). Anyway, I had fun writing this, so I hope you did, too :)