A/N: Inspired by a kink meme prompt. Here be strong language, sexuality, and pantslessness. I don't own Dragon Age or any of its characters, I make no profits, etc.
Isabela brought him the first one on a lark. It was a breezy mid-afternoon, a day so beautiful that even he had no business remaining indoors. He was about to grab Bianca and head out to find Hawke, but he paused long enough to read the pilfered page.
It's getting worse. Mother's dropping hints. She wants me to get serious about "meeting gentlemen." I told her I meet plenty of gentlemen. "Those aren't gentlemen," she said. "Those are just men. And after you've met them, you kill them."
At least she's not fooling herself.
I told her she's the one who should be out meeting gentlemen. She's the real catch and always has been.
That worked just well enough to get me back into Mother's good graces. She eats up compliments like they're what's for breakfast. And what can I say? I'm a charmer. I always have been.
But I'm really not the marrying sort.
Though it has been an awfully long time since I last got laid. We're talking years, not months. And while that's truly pathetic, it's also my own fault. I'm just not making the effort. It's easier this way. Less confusing, less painful, less potential for the whole unrequited thing to get thrown in one's face.
Not that I'm certain he would throw it in my face. But he might.
She brought him the second page three days later. It was a rainy morning and there was nothing to do but stay indoors drinking and telling bullshit stories.
It's getting worse. I think of him more and more these days. And not just at night in the privacy of my own bedroom with Isabela's dirty books to blame for my treacherous thoughts. The other day I was just walking through the market in Lowtown with a group of friends—him among them—and all of a sudden out of nowhere I was imagining myself bent over a vendor's stall with my trousers around my ankles as he fucked me into hard and sweet—if uncomfortably public—ecstasy. My filthy mind needs to be stopped. Perhaps I can be made Tranquil. If they can do it for mages, then why not for plain old, garden-variety rogues?
The third page was indignant. And Varric was growing more intrigued each day.
I'll have to find better hiding places. Yesterday one page went missing. Then I found it hours later in the wrong spot. So, yes, I think Mother's reading my journals.
It's really not polite, Mum. If you have something to say to me, come right out and say it. The sneaking around is not appreciated.
And in case you were wondering, no, the mystery "gentleman" your daughter Marian is pining for is definitely not that "nice templar" Cullen. What are you thinking anyway? I'd sooner bathe my lady parts in lye than go to bed with a templar.
The fourth page ruled out two possibilities. One surprised him; the other not so much.
Hah! She says she "just wanted me to know" that she thinks Anders is a bit shifty.
Of-bloody-course he is, Mother. He's a possessed mage. And in case you hadn't noticed, all of my dearest friends are shifty. That's partly what makes them my dearest friends.
But no, she needn't worry. Anders is cute in a kicked-dog sort of way, and he's fun enough for flirting, but he just doesn't smell right, if that makes any sense at all. He doesn't exactly smell badly, but there's an unusual undercurrent… like a lingering scent in the air that you just can't place. Perhaps it's the heady spice of Justice.
Alluring as that may be, I don't prefer it.
The scent of a man is extremely important. And not just after he's bathed. That's cheating. Anyone can smell decently enough after a good clean scrub. I need a man who's own scent is so appealing to me that I might just prefer him drenched in sweat from hours of traipsing through Kirkwall on a hot summer day. Otherwise it just won't work.
Take Sebastian for example. Cute. Very cute. But he smells like lamp oil and mint candy. And there's not much else to say about that.
Except perhaps, "No, thank you."
The fifth was no more than the torn corner of a page and the written note was scribbled messily, as if produced in haste or under extreme distress. Varric shrugged as if it were nothing. Hawke had plenty of good friends, after all.
He's my very dearest friend. Nothing more. Not now, not ever. Andraste's twat, Marian, you are an idiot. Leave it alone. Please. Please just leave it alone.
The sixth page brought dismay to Isabela, who was now quite certain she would have to compete with Hawke for the fisty elf's affection. Varric was unconvinced of this, but guarded his true thoughts carefully.
It's not just that he smells good when sweaty, which he does. I also find him handsome. And I really don't care that he isn't a human. Being human is largely overrated, anyhow. Most of us are nothing more than a pox on the city.
Oh, Maker, listen to me prattle on. I'm practically waxing qunari.
Right. The foolishness needs to stop. He's a good friend and that's all he is. Anything more than that would be complicated beyond what even I could handle. So why do I persist in wanting more? Why do I want to feel not just the insistent press of his mouth against my own but also the hardness of him filling me up until I am so wholly fucked that there's no going back to what we were? Or, rather, what we are.
We're friends. That has to be good enough.
The seventh page cured Isabela's dismay and replaced it with a delighted shriek of shock and wonder. She claimed she never would have imagined such a thing, which was actually rather offensive. But Varric didn't care. He was too busy—well, he wasn't sure what he was too busy thinking, but whatever it was, it lasted all of two glorious minutes.
Sometimes I feel as if I simply must talk to him about this. Yesterday evening was worse than torture. He made a joke about there never being a willing woman when you need one.
Oh, Maker, Varric. I am such a willing woman for you.
How easy it would have been to lean closer and whisper it to him. Except he'd think I was joking. Or else he'd believe me… and that might even be worse. If he wanted me even a little, he would have said so already. But he hasn't. So he doesn't.
No. Dialogue is definitely not an option.
Isabela's first try didn't work at all. No matter how forcefully she crossed her heart and hoped to die, Varric refused to believe it wasn't all a joke.
The funny thing was, it would have been a bloody brilliant prank and she wished she'd thought of it. This whole business with Hawke's journal could have been the perfect payback for a certain forged note "from Aveline" suggesting that Isabela prance her lithe and naked body through the Keep and up to the guard captain's quarters for a bit of girly fun on a supposedly "quiet night" at the barracks.
Oh yes, and a lot of girly fun that had been. That and the oldest, most obvious trick in the book. Three days after having been arrested for public indecency, Isabela had returned directly to the Hanged Man to swear her revenge on Varric and Hawke, neither of whom had needed any more than one glance at Isabela's disheveled hair and sour, pursed-lipped expression before doubling over and nearly expiring in fits of crying laughter.
She could hardly blame Varric now for thinking it was all an elaborate hoax. Cruel pranks that preyed on desire and sentiment were exactly what good friends were for.
Her second try only served to advance the cause of failure. She swore on her ship this time. She even promised to yield it to Varric if she were lying. But Varric, as it turned out, either did not find big boats particularly alluring—his loss—or else wasn't much impressed by the prospect of winning an as-yet imaginary vessel.
Most likely a little of each.
Her third try was quickly aborted when Varric threatened to dream up a litany of incurable sexual diseases and then tell the glowy elf that Isabela's delicate lady-blossom played unlucky host to all of them.
For her fourth try, she set her sights on Hawke.
"I borrowed pages from your journal and read them aloud to Varric" did not go over nearly as nicely as Isabela had expected. And now instead of getting the silent treatment from one of her dearest friends, she was receiving it from both of them.
Her fifth try involved forged love notes: one from Hawke to Varric, the other from Varric to Hawke. It was a creative attempt that ended only in failure, a fact which Isabela learned sooner rather than later. That same afternoon she received two notes in reply, one from Hawke, the other from Varric. "Oh, Isabela, you make me hot and wet and, also, twitchy…" one note began, while the other led with, "Rivaini, I'm not going to fuck you, but Bianca's intrigued and I may just let her spear you with one of her shafts…"
Her sixth try involved reading passages of Hawke's journal aloud while the four companions trekked along to Sundermount. This didn't work well either. Varric complimented her on the creative angle of her latest piece of friend fiction, while Hawke's only comment was, "Yes, very nice, but please leave me out of it next time."
Merrill, for her part, was bizarrely overjoyed at the prospect of waxing a qunari and nothing much after that seemed to register.
Just when she thought her career as a matchmaker was doomed to fail, fortune smiled on Isabela. Her seventh try hinged on sneaking into the Hawke estate in hopes of finding more secreted journal pages. It was late enough that Leandra and the servants had already retired, but not so late that Hawke would have yet returned from an evening's adventure scouring the sewers of Darktown for some foolish boss in the Coterie.
And yet there were voices. From the sound of it, a man and a woman were speaking to each other in the library. They were quiet, but there was laughter. Isabela recognized each laugh right away.
And all she really wanted was a glimpse.
Varric was sitting in an armchair and he was smiling up at Hawke who shared the seat with him. He held her in his arms and Isabela watched as he reached up to guide Hawke downward. Hawke met him in a kiss that began softly—with a hum and a sigh—before deepening into something wet and unruly and full of desires as yet unquenched.
It was sweet.
And then she realized it was also extremely naughty. Because Hawke was not wearing trousers. They were crumpled on the floor beside the armchair. And judging by the smugly satisfied look on Varric's face and the persistent roll of Hawke's hips, dwarf and human were figuring each other out just fine without the aid of a well-intentioned pirate friend.