"Wow," said Isabela, "that is quite possibly the most interesting excuse anyone has ever given for not wanting to have sex with me. And I've heard a lot. I mean really, 'It might bring back my memory'? So much better than 'I'm married' or 'you remind me of my sister'." Isabela leaned forward and grinned "Although you don't know that sex with me would have that effect. Maybe Hawke just has a magical healing…"
Fenris gave her one of his sexy glowers. "This isn't funny," he said sharply.
Perhaps she was being a little insensitive. "Right," she said. "I realise this must be difficult, Fenris. Thankyou for being willing to tell me." Isabela smiled at him, sitting with his compact body awkwardly twisted into in one of the mismatched chairs by the fire, his big beautiful eyes shadowed by his ridiculous beautiful hair. It really was nice to know that he trusted her enough to talk about something so personal.
"I thought you should know," he said. "You keep visiting, and I didn't want you to get the wrong impression. And it's not really about the memories, I just…" He trailed off. Poor man always was terrible at expressing his feelings.
Isabela resisted the urge to pat him affectionately on the hand (along with all the other urges she was resisting) "Fenris, darling, it's been seven years, as much as I would love to see how far down your tattoos go I gave up any hope of it happening some time ago. I come to visit you because I like you. You're fun. At least when you're not banging on about mages."
He raised an eyebrow. "Fun?" he said. Was that the hint of a smile? Isabela felt a warm glow of satisfaction. Making Fenris almost express an actual happy emotion! She deserved some sort of medal.
"Of course," she said, "If you ever change your mind, I can be very flexible. We could start with just…holding hands, say, and work our way up to more involved forms of touching. I know a lot of different ways to have sex, it seems a pity to avoid all of them based on one bad experience."
She grinned at Fenris and waited for him to roll his eyes or change the subject. But he just looked at her thoughtfully. Was he considering it? How delicious. Although…now that she knew why things had gotten so strained all of a sudden between Fenris and Hawke three years ago she suffered a pang at the thought that he might cut himself off from her in the same way.
This was all getting a bit intense. She stood up. "Let's go out," she said.
"Out?" said Fenris.
"Yes! Out! You know, that place that isn't indoors! There's more to Kirkwall than slums and blood mages you know. We could see a play! Varric was telling me about this marvellous new show they have at the Playhouse, it's full of cross dressing and lost princes and people stabbing each other."
"Sounds like a typical day, then," said Fenris. "Well, except for the crossdressing." But he looked amused by the thought. He stood up as well, stretching, and Isabela took a moment to appreciate how the pose gave definition to the muscles in his arms. He noticed her watching him and smirked. Smug bastard.
It really was a brilliant play. There were even pirates. That sang. Isabela decided she'd have to come back and bring Merril, she'd love it.
Fenris seemed to be enjoying it as well, in his way, though he made the occasional derisive snort whenever there was any sword fighting. He only started to look bored during a particularly long speech, when the villain starting listing all the reasons he wanted revenge on the hero. Fenris leaned over and whispered into Isabela's ear. "You know, I was going to offer to pay. I believe it is traditional for the man to do so in such situations."
"Pfft," she replied, enjoying the tickle of his breath on her skin and deciding not to examine what he meant by 'such situations'. "Who pays to go to the theatre? Sneaking in is half the fun!"
"I'll take your word for it," he said.
The woman sitting next to them started to look disapproving but Isabela ignored her. "Have you really never been to the theatre before?" she asked.
"Many times," said Fenris, "But only as a bodyguard. Danarius was kind enough not to make me pay for my seat, and I was usually too focussed on watching for enemies to be able to pay much attention to the performance."
"Well that's no fun," she said. "It was bad enough when my husband used to drag me along to dull fashionable plays as his accessory. I had to always make sure I was looking pretty and smiling, he got annoyed if I didn't look sufficiently thrilled by his presence." Fenris raised his eyebrows. She didn't talk about her husband much.
"I sometimes get the impression they were similar men," he said.
With that cheerful thought they both turned back to the play, where the hero had finally revealed himself to have been hiding in the bushes with the King during the whole speech.
Isabela's attention was only swayed a scene or two later when she felt a light pressure on her knee. Her heart did a sort of twisting jig when she realised that it was Fenris's hand. She looked across at him but his eyes were focussed solidly on the stage, and he was actually managing to look both coldly indifferent and smouldering at the same time. "Don't read too much into this hand," his eyes said. "I merely needed somewhere comfortable to rest it, and your knee happened to be convenient." Isabela was overwhelmed by a ridiculous wave of affection, and it took all her strength of will not to jump him then and there.
She settled for making an exaggerated yawning motion that ended with her arm resting on his shoulder. He looked across at her impassively and she gave him a cheerful wink before turning back to the play. They sat that way for the rest of the performance.
It was a pleasantly balmy night, and they took the long way back to the Hanged Man. Isabela did most of the talking, dredging up some of her more entertaining stories, but Fenris made up for his relative silence with a subtle streak of incredibly dirty humour.
As they starting walking the last few yards through the Lowtown market Fenris looked up at the stars and said "This has been…nice."
"The play?" she replied. "Yes, I quite liked it. Could have been funnier though. It's the last night of a really hilarious farce at the Red Lion in a few days if you're interested and don't mind a little tasteful nudity."
"I think I would like that," he said. "But I don't need a play to enjoy a pleasant evening spent with a beautiful woman." He let his hand swing forward to run into hers, their fingers gently touching. He lifted her hand and kissed it, his eyes intent in the moonlit darkness of the street, and Isabela was for once entirely at a loss for words. Fenris smiled, and Isabela smiled back.
It had been a while since Isabela had just held hands with anyone. She didn't remember it being this exciting, her fingers (and other bits of her) felt all tingly and she was disconcertingly upset when they finally got to the Hanged Man and had to let go. As she reached the door she thought about inviting Fenris in, or at least asking him what it was exactly that he wanted from her, but she settled for touching her fingers gently to his face and then kissing him softly on the cheek. She'd waited seven years, a little longer wouldn't kill her.
Fenris looked at her for a moment, then said "I'll see you tomorrow." There was a slight catch in his voice.
"I look forward to it," said Isabela before walking inside with a slight sway of her hips. Had to let the man know what he was missing.
"What was that about?" asked Varric as Isabela slid onto a stool and ordered a drink.
"Never you mind," she said with a smug grin.
Unfortunately, the balmy night turned into a series of unpleasantly muggy days, and Isabela ended up spending most of them wishing Fenris would just shut up. He wasn't the worst, mind you, the obnoxiousness of his ranting about the dangers of mages was more than surpassed by Anders' smug pronouncements about the evils of templars, and right now Isabela mostly just wished Hawke had had the good sense not to bring both of them along on his business at the Gallows, or at the very least hadn't decided to bring Isabela with him too.
That said, Isabela preferred listening to them argue over mages to listening to them arguing over Hawke. Thankfully, Fenris seemed to have finally stopped mooning over him in the last year or so (not that Isabela was jealous, of course. She just didn't like to see Fenris unhappy) but Anders still clearly saw him as a threat.
"You were an idiot to leave Hawke," said Anders, smugly. The four of them were standing in an ante room waiting for Orsino to be free to see them, and Hawke was a little distance away discussing how long it would take with the attending apprentice.
"Perhaps I was," said Fenris. "But it is done, leave it be."
"I don't know what he ever saw in you," Anders continued. "I mean…"
Hawke looked up from his conversation and seemed like he might be about to say something to defend Fenris, which would not help the situation at all. Isabela sighed. Since when was she the sensible one?
She sashayed over and rested her hand on Fenris's chest, resting her other hand on her tilted hip. She would have rested her head on his shoulder too but it looked uncomfortably pointy, plus he was a little short.
Putting on her sexiest, breathiest voice she said "That night, I can't stop thinking about it." Anders promptly shut up.
Fenris looked down at her hand, then up at her, and smirked. All thoughts of Anders vanished from her head.
"Well, then I'll see you later," he said.
Isabela laughed. It seemed silly to play the seductress when he refused to play the seductee and she straightened into a more comfortable position. "That was direct," she said.
He shrugged. "I thought I'd get straight to the point. Were you expecting flowers or something?"
"Don't be absurd," she replied. He tilted his head slightly and there was a promise of something in his eyes. For that look she could live without a lot of things.
"Then I'll see you tonight," he said. She smiled.
"Yes," she said. "Yes you will."
Author notes: Inspired in part by a post on the i_do_not_brood lj community and various discussions about Fenris's relationships with Hawke and Isabela. The dialogue in the last scene is all adapted from the game.
I really like the idea of Fenris/Isabela, but I am pretty much incapable of writing sex, which was something of a stumbling block since it seemed very likely that their relationship would be entirely physical for some time before any ~feelings~ came into it. I could have just written around the sex (as I usually do), but I decided I liked the idea of a Fenris/Isabela story with no sex in it whatsoever, if only for the challenge :)