This concentrates on the developing relationship between Hawke and Isabela. Knowledge of the game is required since I do not describe quests in great detail, but make many references. I used the default Hawke for this story, but avoided using too much detail, so feel free to imagine your own.
No beta, so please excuse the errors.
Chapter 1: It's just sex
It started a little after meeting Isabela at the Hanged Man. Varric requested a meeting in his suite, and Hawke certainly needed a drink after chasing around bandits for Aveline the night before. It wasn't new to see a group of men huddled around the occasional woman in the tavern. Hawke had seen the Rivaini before and thought nothing of it. She wouldn't be the first traveler to stop by the place for its cheap rooms and ale. The warrior was about to move on, until the well-endowed woman slammed a man's face into the counter. After a flurry of movement, a blade was at his neck. "Tell me, Lucky, is this worth dying for?"
That was interesting. Still, it was none of her business, so Hawke moved on. She walked over to the barkeep and paid for two tankards of ale. Varric would probably want some.
"You're new around here aren't you?" asked the woman. With a hint of humor in her voice, she continued, "You're nothing but tits and ass to the men in this place and they won't hesitate to grab at both."
Hawke turned to face her. A bit entertained, she replied, "Speaking from experience, are we?"
The woman laughed, and introduced herself as Isabela, a former ship captain. Isabela apparently needed help with a duel. She suspected the other party of foul play. For some reason strangers liked to go to Hawke when it came to violent issues; it probably had to do with the fact that she walked around with a sword and shield on her back. Not wanting to turn down a woman in need, or the potential for a bit of coin for the Deep Roads expedition, Hawke accepted the quest. They would meet later that night below the keep. With any luck, there would be a duel and she wouldn't have to do anything, especially if her new charge won.
Things never turned out according to plan. What should have been a simple babysitting job quickly became a bloodbath. Luckily enough, Hawke managed to convince Varric, Aveline and Bethany to help out with the ship captain's situation. After slaughtering their way to the Chantry, they met with the blighter who wanted Isabela dead.
Hawke tried to resolve the situation peacefully, which was starting to work until the pirate decided to throw a knife into one of the mercenaries. If she planned to do that all along, why couldn't she kill Hayder first? Regardless, the result ended with a mess of bodies and blood on the floor of the Chantry. Hawke did not want to be around to see the Grand Cleric's face when she discovered the new paint job.
Afterward, Isabela answered Hawke's questions, mostly. Freeing Fereldens from the fate of slavery earned the ire of her previous employer. Now she was after some relic that had disappeared into the city, so he'd stop trying to kill her. All the while, she told her story as if it were some dirty bar joke meant to be laughed at. Hawke offered to help, but only out of courtesy.
The Rivaini thanked her. "I think I'll tag along for a while. There might be something I could do for you." A useful offer. The woman wasn't without skill; the bodies on the floor were evidence enough. Then she seductively sauntered toward Hawke and said, "And I have a room at the Hanged Man, if you're looking for company later."
The warrior never thought she would take up the second proposition. She wouldn't have, if it weren't for a fight with Bethany a couple of weeks later. Siblings in such close quarters were always a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, the elder usually got the blame, faultless or not. As such, Hawke was left without a place to sleep that night thanks to Leandra's scolding. Now restless and angry, she walked over to the Hanged Man, which was conveniently located close to Uncle Gamlen's excuse for a home.
It wasn't late, and she had enough money to get drunk. Spending a few silvers would do little to dent their already impossible task of amassing a fortune of fifty sovereigns. Finding a stable chair, Hawke plopped down and demanded a drink.
The first swig of ale made her wince with disgust. Maker knew this swill was worse than the most awful moonshine the farmers of Lothering served, but she managed to swallow anyway. It wasn't as if she came here to taste test the stuff. That was when Isabela decided to seat herself next to Hawke.
"Don't worry; the taste goes away if you drink enough." She commented on Hawke's reaction to the drink.
The warrior scoffed. "Only because I'm too drunk to notice," she replied.
Noticing the scowl, Isabela asked, "So what's got your knickers all up in a knot?"
"Nothing," Hawke grumbled into the tumbler.
"Oh?" she questioned, "You sure you weren't slighted by that gray warden in Darktown? Did he turn you down?"
The warrior frowned. She did no such thing, and Isabela knew it. Anders was certainly handsome, but Hawke had no time for love. Between protecting her sister, providing for her mother and trying to get on the deep road's expedition, the former refugee barely had time for herself let alone for a lover. It didn't matter anyway. She wasn't here for any of those reasons. She was here only because of a stupid argument with her little sister over a stupid book, and its location in their shared room. The thought caused Hawke's brow to furrow and take another deep gulp of the foul liquid.
The lack of an answer caused Isabela to scoot a little too close to the warrior. "Cheer up," she said, "Brooding only works for hot men with dark pasts. Pretty girls should be happy."
Growling, Hawke replied, "I'm sorry I'm not a dark, handsome man."
The pirate smiled seductively. "Oh?" she said while getting up. Quickly, she snuck up behind Hawke and wrapped her arms around the warrior before whispering seductively, "But women are so much more delightful."
"I'm not nearly drunk enough," said Hawke as she removed Isabela's hands.
The woman shrugged, and reseated herself. "I suppose we'll just have to work on that, won't we?" She gestured to the barmaid. "More drinks for my friend here!" Not interested in arguing anymore, Hawke accepted the drinks. At least they'll serve their purpose.
It was a little after midnight when Hawke finally decided that she'd had enough. Isabela spent most of the time sharing her exploits, as a pirate and a woman. The other swordswoman would mostly nod, only understanding half of what the brunette said. By then, she was far beyond drunk and swung side to side when trying to get up.
"You're smashed now. Care to take me up on that offer?" Isabela teased.
Inhibitions gone and feeling aggressive, Hawke grabbed the pirate and planted a sloppy kiss on her lips. "Might as well seize the opportunity," she said while smirking at the rogue's surprised face. Isabela quickly recovered however, and the pair found their way into her room.
Hawke woke up in the morning with a massive headache and the urge to vomit. Scrambling for the nearest chamber pot, she emptied the contents of her stomach into whatever was available. Looking around, she noticed that her surroundings didn't match the dirty hovel she'd been living in for the past year. This was not her uncle's place, and she was naked. What in Maker's name did she do now? The last time she woke up with such a hangover resulted in the discovery of a red tattoo across her face that looked like a permanent smear of blood. Mother was less than pleased.
"Bad headache?" Isabela's head popped up from the bed as she propped herself with her elbows.
"Hell," Hawke swore. She couldn't quite remember the exact details, but recalled enough to associate the night with a sense of pleasure.
"Regrets already? You're not even dressed." The Rivaini laughed at the warrior, who began searching the room for her clothes.
"Only if you make a big deal out of this," Hawke grumbled. Both of them clearly knew this a casual encounter. Hawke just didn't want the whole world to know. "If you feel you must share, please do not go into detail, especially with Bethany." Maker knew the mage would never let this go.
Isabela lightly chuckled. "Your secret's safe with me." She leaned forward, bringing her knees to her chest while watching Hawke hastily dressed. "But if you ever want to do it again, you know where to find me." The pirate smirked with pleasure as Hawke paused in her task.
The warrior contemplated the possibility. Sex was a good way to relieve stress, and Isabela wanted nothing more from her. "Maybe," she said before walking out the door.
Bethany never did let her sister live down the fact that she slept with the Rivaini pirate. The moment she got home from the first night, the mage questioned her about her whereabouts the previous night.
"You reek of ale." A moment passed as Bethany processed the information. "You were at the Hanged Man," the younger girl accused.
"So what?" replied the warrior. "If you recall, Mother kicked me out after our little fight about that book of yours."
"It was Father's book." Bethany resentfully quipped.
Sighing and raising her hands in surrender, Hawke said, "Fine, I don't want to argue about it anymore." She grabbed a bucket full of water and a rag in preparation to wash herself.
Her younger sister didn't let the topic go. "But you stayed in the Hanged Man. We're still saving for the expedition."
"I didn't have to pay for a room, alright?" said Hawke. To emphasize her point she turned to face the mage while scrubbing her neck.
"You couldn't drink all night." Bethany stared at her sister. "Wait," she said, "your hair is all messed up, and you were at the Hanged Man all night." A look of shock passed through the girl as she accusingly pointed at Hawke. "You were with that pirate."
"I, umm," she stuttered. The warrior turned red. If it were anyone else, she'd have ignored the words, but this was her sister, and the mage was the last person in Thedas who should know about her sex life.
Bethany broke out in laughter. "This is classic." She tried to muffle the sounds. "I never pegged that woman as your type." Bethany suddenly stopped laughing and a pensive look appeared on her face. "I didn't think you thought of women that way at all."
"I was drunk and we had fun. That is all." Hawke stated. "Look, are you going to drill me about all the dirty details, because I can describe them if you want, or will you just let me wash myself." She hoped this would get Bethany to leave her alone. It worked.
"Eww, no!" said the mage as she quickly rushed out of the room with a pink tinge on her face.
So began the relationship, if one could call it that. On particularly draining days, Hawke would stop by at night to relax. It wasn't as if she hadn't done something like this before. The barracks in Cailan's army got lonely, and soldiers did creative things to fill that void.
Isabela wasn't without benefits. All that bragging of her sexual exploits was not baseless. She was exactly as good as she implied. Neither did the pirate turn Hawke away at the end of their passionate sessions, which especially helped on the days where she wanted some time away from her family. Sometimes they talked; most times, they didn't. It was a comfortable arrangement.
It didn't stop Bethany from prodding Isabela with inane questions, and the Rivaini was more than willing to share. Once, while the warrior stopped by Lady Elegant's stall for potions, the two got into an interesting conversation.
"Women are good for six." Hawke heard Isabela say as she neared their small band of companions, who were waiting in an out-of-the-way corner of the busy bazaar.
Bethany shot her sister an utterly scandalized look, and Merrill stared at the pirate with the curiosity of a newborn kitten. "Six? Which six?" asked the elf.
"Isabela!" Hawke managed to intervene. She glared at the others in the group, especially Varric, who appeared positively entertained. Even Aveline seemed a little too interested in the banter.
The Rivaini laughed, sauntered up to the warrior with that sly smile of hers and slowly drew her hand across Hawke's chest piece. "Come now, Hawke, you could elaborate," she said teasingly.
One could swear that Ander's ears perked up with that comment. The warrior's face heated up, a result of anger not embarrassment, or so she would later claim. Once again, Hawke tried to reassert her dominance. "Isabela," she chastised. Her eyes warned the rogue of consequences for going too far.
Uninterested in a fight, the pirate backed off. She would have her chance later, but now she was having far too much fun testing Hawke's tolerance. Not to mention the fact that Aveline was now glaring at their leader with a mix of disapproval and concern.
"I don't understand; how could Hawke elaborate?" Merrill innocently asked, breaking all tension in the group. Varric began laughing so hard, he nearly fell to the ground. Meanwhile the naive blood mage looked at each of the faces of her friends trying to figure out what was going on.
"Maker's breath," Hawke swore. She covered her eyes with her hand and inhaled deeply. "Let's just move on." With the glare that Aveline was giving her, the warrior knew she would end up lectured by the guardswoman. Knowing the redhead, Hawke would be hearing from her mother later as well.
They finally completed their mission. The trip to save the Viscount's son was productive at least, if not a little too messy for Hawke's taste. The Winters proved to be quite uncooperative, and had a lot of mercenaries at their disposal. Hawke's group fought for what felt like an eternity. In the end, they all just decided to camp somewhere on the Wounded Coast for a couple hours. Everyone was exhausted after the battle and needed to rest. Anders was able to heal whatever major wounds came about. They left a few nasty scars on the body, but it was better than dying.
It was then that Aveline brought her to the side and began her lecture. "You're doing something really stupid."
"I thought you supported saving the Viscount's son," countered Hawke.
"That is not what I'm talking about, and you know it." She crossed her arms and shot her fellow warrior one of her stern, disapproving glares.
Suddenly feeling like a child caught with her hand in a cookie jar, Hawke decided there was something interesting to stare at on the ground. "It's just sex," she mumbled.
Shaking her head in disappointment, Aveline replied, "You're walking a thin line Hawke. It's never just sex."
Touched by her concern, Hawke looked up straight into Aveline's eyes. "I'll be fine; I swear."
The guardswoman shot Hawke a pointed look. "Alright, I'll accept that for now," she said, emphasizing the last two words.
Exhaling a breath she didn't know she was holding, Hawke asked her friend for one last thing. "Please don't tell my mother." Leandra would certainly disapprove, and she did not need to know those details of Hawke's life. Aveline nodded her head in silent agreement, promising temporarily honor the request of her friend.
The group finally returned to the Viscount's keep. They got the reward, and Hawke was one step closer to becoming a partner in Bartrand's expedition. Varric had heard a few rumors for work around the city, but that night they needed rest.
Unexpectedly, the warrior found herself sitting in Isabela's room, waiting for the rogue to show up with whatever reason she called Hawke here. As soon as the door opened, the pirate jumped onto Hawke, ferociously kissing her mouth, and forcing her into the bed.
Though surprised, the warrior recovered enough to push Isabela away. "What is this about?" she demanded.
"Well, you looked especially tense today." The Rivaini smirked. "And it's a bit of revenge for trying to order me around." Hands shoved the warrior back down on the bed. "I'm always on top."
Surprisingly, Hawke didn't feel angry, upset or even annoyed. She was amused by Isabela's declaration and suddenly wanted to challenge it. Deftly maneuvering her hips, she flipped the pirate onto her back and switched their positions. "Not if I can help it," she said.
They spent the next hour wrestling for control, both literally and figuratively. Isabela was more experienced, but Hawke did have a few tricks of her own, some of which she learned from the pirate.
The two ended up absolutely exhausted, lying on the floor and looking up at the ceiling. "Tie?" Isabela offered.
Not wanting to move, the Ferelden agreed. "Tie," she said.
The pirate propped herself up on her elbow and faced the warrior. "Why do you act like such a prude? I thought you didn't care if I told." She slowly traced her fingers up Hawke's stomach, causing her to quiver.
"I'm not a prude." Hawke defensively replied. "I'm just a private person, and I specifically recall telling you not to share details with Bethany."
"Bah!" Isabela scoffed. "You are too protective of that girl. Let her go out and have some fun. Get her a night at the Blooming Rose."
"No!" the warrior nearly screamed. The idea was wrong on so many levels.
"Would you prefer that I bed her instead?"
Hawke shot up and pinned Isabela below her. "Don't you dare touch my sister," she growled.
Defiantly, the pirate glared at the warrior. "You can't protect her forever. Let her discover things for herself, or she'll be trapped in your shadow forever." She was right, and Hawke hated it. Not wanting to talk anymore, the warrior got dressed and left.
She sulked for days after that. It was their first fight. Isabela had no right to lecture her on how to treat her sister. Then again, she didn't have a right to control the mage either. The pirate did tag along for a few more missions and was always ready with a dirty joke or throwing knife, but she didn't talk to Hawke for a while.
Things stayed in a tense balance while the party continued to adventure across the darkest corners of Kirkwall. When they finally began speaking again, it was done with short sentences. Nothing was really resolved until they met Sister Petrice. Ketojan was exactly what Hawke wanted to protect her sister from becoming. For a while, she felt justified in attempting to free the Qunari mage.
Then he chose to die. As a mage, he was so dedicated to the Qun and its fear of magic that he killed himself. Hawke wasn't afraid that Bethany would be like that. She was smart enough to be on her own, and survive. It was just that Bethany was still a mage, and Hawke wouldn't know what she would do if anything were to happen. Suddenly, the warrior felt like she was like the chain that hung across Ketojan's throat, but it was Bethany that she bound.
Hawke sat on the stairs outside her uncle's home. Her head rested on folded hands, which were supported by her elbows. "Dammit," she said to herself. The Ferelden could not go the Hanged Man now, not when they were so close to their desired goal of fifty sovereigns and every copper counted. Plus, Isabela was there, probably entertaining herself with one of the other patrons. If Hawke was lucky, the rogue was over at the Blooming Rose, enjoying their services.
"Oh sod it!" she cursed. Maybe Varric would like to share a drink tonight to celebrate their victory, or share a story. She walked over to the tavern, hoping for free drinks and a few tall tales. To her disappointment, Varric was out. Hanging her head in disappointment, Hawke prepared to leave.
"Leaving already?" said a distinct Rivaini voice from the edge of the room.
The warrior turned around to see none other than Isabela, waving a tankard in her hand. She sighed, knowing that she had not returned since leaving that night. Having nothing better to do, the Ferelden walked over and sat down next to the pirate. "I hoped you'd be at the Blooming Rose tonight."
"Aww, Hawke," Isabela said with a joking voice. "That hurts my feelings you know. I'm beginning to feel hated."
"I don't hate you Isabela." Hawke admitted.
Though a little surprised, the pirate accepted the implied apology. Smiling, she leaned in close and whispered into the warrior's ear. "Does this mean we can have sex again?"
The Ferelden chuckled. Isabela would never change. "Only if you buy me a drink," she replied.
"Just one?" said the Rivaini. "You're cheaper than the whores at the Rose." She waved to the barmaid for more ale.
"Only for you," the warrior joked. Isabela laughed. At the time, the words didn't seem so important, but thinking back, Hawke knew she truly meant it.
"You know I wouldn't hurt Bethany right?" asked Isabela later that night. They had finished making-up and were sitting in her room, drinking some mead. "Not on purpose," she added.
Hawke looked over at her companion. "Yeah," she confirmed. Leaning back, she took a small sip from her cup. "I've protected her my whole life. It's just hard to accept that she won't need me anymore."
"Girl's grow up, Hawke," said the pirate. "You know that."
The warrior sighed. "I know," she replied, "and I'm sorry."
Isabela smiled as a small sense of victory rose in her chest. She walked to the warrior and firmly seated herself on Hawke's lap. Leaning in close, she said, "I prefer actions over words."
The wily smile on the pirate's face made Hawke a little nervous as she instinctively wrapped her hands around Isabela's upper thighs. "What do you want me to do?" Instantly, she regretted saying it.
"Well, there are a few games I'd like to play," said the pirate as she grabbed a length of rope.
Fear rose up in the warrior. "Umm," she stuttered, "Isabela?"
"Don't worry Hawke," she said. "You'll enjoy it." The smile never left her face.
A/N – I do hope everyone is enjoying this. Admit it; no one initiates a long-term romance with Isabela at first. She certainly wouldn't let it get to that point if she knew. It's just one of those things that must happen over time.