The Challenge

It had been a joke; a dare, really. Isabela was a terrible influence, pulling Celeste to the side one afternoon as the party strolled through Kirkwall on an errand. The pirate had watched the mage and the prince of Starkhaven dance around each other for months, and she had decided to do something about it at last. She tugged Celeste to the side while the others browsed the stalls in Hightown, the afternoon sun beginning to make its way to the horizon.

"Listen, Kitten. I've seen the way you look at Choir Boy, and it's not going to get any better unless you take initiative." The Rivaini woman smirked at the blush that spread along Celeste's cheeks, darkening the smattering of freckles there. "Don't deny it. I've seen the way he looks at you, too. But you know how those types are – he won't have anything to do with you unless you make the first move. It gives him an excuse to break those vows."

"Isabela," Celeste said, her face darkening as she glanced over to where Sebastian stood, peering through a selection of weapons laid out on a cloth-covered table. "I don't want him to break his vows. He believes in them so strongly, I could never do that to him."

Isabela shook her head. "You mean to tell me you've never wanted to just walk over and grab a handful of that perfect arse? Not even a little bit? If it meant he broke his vows, but he smote you with the power of that mighty – "

Celeste held up her hands, looking ill at the prospect of being subjected to more of Isabela's 'friend fiction'. "Look, how do you propose I take initiative, then? I can't just walk up and kiss him in the middle of the blighted marketplace."

"That's a start, Kitten." Isabela's face was lit with a devious smile. "But I like my idea better. In fact, let's make it a wager. If you go out there and grab Choir Boy's arse, I'll give you five sovereigns. If you chicken out, you buy drinks all night tonight at the Hanged Man."

"I – " Celeste hesitated, peeking around the corner where Sebastian stood, still comparing the draws of different bows.

"I'll even sweeten the deal. If you give his arse a good wallop, I'll clear the debt you owe me from the last few games of Wicked Grace. You're really in the hole right now, you know."

Celeste knew. She'd had a bugger of a loss streak for the past week, and she owed Isabela at least twenty sovereigns. She took a deep breath, sighing on the exhale as she ran nervous fingers through her short red hair. Isabela folded her arms, tipping her head towards Sebastian with her eyebrows raised. That superior look on Isabela's face is what did it. Celeste blew out another breath and rolled up the sleeves to her robes before storming around the corner.

The question Varric was going to ask died on his lips at the look on her face as she marched past. He speared Isabela with a glance as Celeste made her way towards Sebastian, but the expression the Rivaini wore had him turning to watch the show. Celeste didn't let herself falter, but concentrated on walking right up to where Sebastian stood, oblivious to the focus on him. Her hand made a whistling arc through the air, smacking with possessive finality against the curve of his toned backside. She even went so far as to squeeze for Isabela's benefit.

Well, mostly for Isabela's benefit.

He let out a stunned yelp, his hips bucking into the table in front of him at the blow. She had no idea that his face could redden as much as it was now; he sagged against the table, shaking in what she thought was fury until he turned with a mumbled excuse and fair to ran back up the steps that led to the Chantry.

Isabela was doubled over in raucous laughter, holding her sides as Sebastian made his hasty exit. Varric, for once in his life, had absolutely nothing to say. His jaw hung open, staring at her. She felt herself redden and excused herself for the day, waving off Isabela's invitation to go to the Hanged Man for drinks that evening, not wanting to hear the retelling of the greatest faux pas in Thedas. Instead, she was going to go home and have a mug of tea while contemplating the best way to melt into the floor.

She scrubbed her hands over her face as she made her way back to her estate. Maker, that wasn't worth the twenty sovereigns. If she were lucky, he wouldn't speak to her again. If she were unlucky, she might find templars on her doorstep in the morning. At this point, she was considering tranquility just to keep from burning with mortification.

Her estate in Hightown was quiet as she let herself in with her key. Bodahn and Sandal were off doing the shopping, leaving Cambert to guard the house. The Mabari wagged his tail as his mistress passed, butting his head against her hands as she wandered into the kitchen. She put the kettle on to boil, then sat at the scarred wooden table, allowing her head to drop to the surface with a dull thump.

"I'm an idiot, Cambert." Cambert whuffled and licked her fingers, seeking attention. She gave in, scratching behind his ears as she let her forehead rest against the cool tabletop, her eyes closed. "He'll never speak to me again."

"I think it's a little soon to be jumping to conclusions, don't you think?" Her eyes snapped open at the familiar brogue; she sat up, staring at Sebastian who leaned against the door jamb, his thumbs hooked in his belt. His face was unreadable. "Besides, isn't that for me to decide?"

"Sebastian, I – " She fumbled for something to say, settling for getting up and fussing with the container of tea. "I was just about to make some tea, would you like some?"

"Yes," he said, sitting down across from her seat at the table. "I think we have some things to discuss."

She swallowed, shuffling some tea leaves into the pot as the kettle began to whistle. She took exaggerated care to pour the water in, not wanting to face him yet. Too soon, the tea was ready, and she hefted the mugs and the pot at once, setting them on the table before seating herself. She poured the steaming liquid for them both, offering him sugar because she knew he liked his drinks sweet.

His hand rested over hers and she almost dropped the sugar bowl. She had forgotten how intense his eyes could get when he spoke in that serious tone. They bored into hers now, pinning her into place. She froze, staring into his eyes as he cleared his throat.

"What happened in the marketplace shouldn't have happened," he said. Her face burned with shame as she looked away. His fingers, calloused from his archery, settled under her chin and forced her eyes back to his. "That's something reserved for…privacy."

She had found a way to melt herself into the floor in embarrassment. This was the Void and she was being taunted for trying to corrupt a sworn brother of the Chantry. She swallowed, meeting his gaze against her will. The skin around his eyes crinkled into a grin as his fingers stroked the soft skin under her chin.

"Had you met me before my time in the Chantry, you would be aware of two things. One: I was a notorious rake." His face was inches from hers now, those blue eyes holding her in place as surely as the lowering octave of his voice was doing things to her internal temperature that shouldn't be allowed, sending it spiking into the stratosphere as he spoke. "Two: smacking Sebastian Vael across the arse was the quickest way to get yourself tossed over his shoulder and dragged to the nearest bedroom."

Her mouth was dry as parchment, her tongue shriveling at the heat in his eyes. She tried to swallow, tried to speak, but nothing came out save for a small noise that might have been her if she had her wits about her. He leaned closer, and she was aware of their shared breath and how he smelled always of split wood and leather. She took a shuddering breath, and he grinned at her.

"You are an insufferable tease, Lady Hawke, and I'll have no more of it." His lips met hers, his tongue demanding entrance, and she felt her stomach do a curious little flip as she obliged. She was aware of the sugar bowl clattering to the table, scattering the sugar everywhere, but it was not as important as it was to lace her hands in his hair, pulling with rough insistence, hard enough to send him growling against her mouth as he rose.

He wasn't wearing his armor, she realized through the hazy mush that had once been her brain. He'd come to her house with the specific purpose of seducing her. The thought made it both easier and harder to stand, her legs turning to jelly at the look he gave her now. She had only imagined what it would look like to have Sebastian look at her like that, and she could say now with certainty that her imagination was a pale comparison to the reality. He made good on his threat, hoisting her up on his shoulder, ignoring her cry of surprise.

He made swift work of the distance between where they were and the stairs to the main room, taking the steps two at a time in his haste. She swatted at his backside, laughing with wickedness as he stiffened and stumbled towards the door to her bedroom. He kicked it open, ignoring everything else as he tossed her onto the bed, using his heel to kick the door shut as well.

He shucked his leather jerkin, leaving only a shirt of soft cotton as he approached the bed. She was breathless, giddy with the thought that she had done this to him, and did not protest when her robes parted like water under his clever fingers, fingers that were soon everywhere at once as he kissed her with possessive fierceness.

His lips wandered to her jaw, then down to her neck as she squirmed under his hands, her whimper turning into a gasp as he bit the juncture at her throat and shoulder, laving the bite with his tongue before returning to her mouth to plunder it again. His kiss was demanding and potent, leaving her aching at the curling warmth that spread throughout her, centering on her stomach and leaving her quivering.

Her fingers found the clasp to his belt, and it rattled free as he removed his shirt. His pants disappeared with a roll of his hips and a smug smirk before he joined her on the bed, those clever, square-tipped fingers wandering to the juncture between her thighs as she sighed against his mouth. Her own fingers, sparking with tiny jolts of electricity, stroked down his chest, causing him to gasp and arch against her.

"Minx," he growled, nipping at her neck again. His fingers found her slick entrance, sliding home as she bucked against him. "You think to taunt me with that?"

"No, serrah," she said, arching against him, feeling his fingers curl against a specific spot. "I intend to claim you with it."

Sebastian laughed then, a low sound that sent a thrill straight through her. "Sweetling, you had me from the first moment I laid eyes on you. However, I intend to ensure you know you're mine."

His fingers withdrew, but before she could whimper in protest, he replaced them with the length of his body, pressing against her with urgency. His eyes were dark with desire, and she captured his lips with her own as he slid home, hilting himself within her. He broke the kiss to nip her neck, sucking hard enough that she knew he would leave bruises, but she was too far gone with the idea of him filling her, one hand digging her nails into his back as the other clutched the coverlet.

He moved then, a slow, rolling rhythm that sent her toes curling as she arched to meet his thrusts. Blue eyes fair to burned with intensity as he watched her face, one hand on her hip to guide himself, the other taut with corded muscle as he balanced his weight on it. Every time he thrust into her, there was a moment of delicious friction against the bundle of nerves that set her tingling. His pace increased, the building wave of her release enveloping her with a sudden, violent crash as his fingers brushed against her slick heat, flicking against her bud as she let loose a wail and clutched him to her.

He growled, his teeth again worrying the juncture of her shoulder and throat as he found his own release, his thrusts becoming erratic as he spilled himself inside her. He shuddered, his breathing ragged as he looked down at her with a small smile. The lethargy washing over her only allowed her to stroke the hair out of his eyes as he fumbled to her side, bringing her with him in a tangle of limbs as the after rush of their exertions left them both boneless and sated.

"Had I known you'd react like that, I'd have done it sooner."

He gave a throaty chuckle, burying his nose in her hair as he kissed her temple. "I almost wish you had."

A week later, Celeste and her party were again browsing the Hightown stalls. This time, it was the mage who pulled the pirate to the side, her smile sly.

"Watch this," she said, breaking away from Isabela to approach Sebastian, who seemed lost in thought. Her step was light and quick, but as she swung her hand to slap his backside, he was gone, quicksilver in the market air as he grabbed her wrist, spinning her to face him and bring her flush against his chest.

"My," he said, meeting her surprised look with one of admonishment. "What unladylike behavior. Surely some…discipline is called for."

In a trice, she found herself turned over his knee in the marketplace as his hand rapped once, twice, and three times against her backside, the final smack a caress as he tugged her up to kiss her senseless in the marketplace, leaving her companions agape with surprise. He released her, her smile as she sauntered past Isabela one of smug satisfaction. She missed the wink Sebastian tipped Isabela, who saluted him with a wink of her own.

"Bullshit, dwarf." Cassandra was in a foul mood today, and she made a negative slashing motion in the air as she stalked toward him. "Prince Sebastian Vael was reformed, sworn to the Chantry. He would never betray his vows, not even for the Champion!"

Varric leaned back in his chair, his blunt fingers laced together over his stomach. "I'm just telling you what I saw, Seeker. And I saw the Prince of Starkhaven bend his wife over his knee in the middle of the Hightown marketplace and administer a spanking."

"I don't believe you. He assures the Divine his marriage is chaste, and he rules with the Chantry's authority."

"If you think that, Seeker, I have some lovely fertile farmland in Lothering to sell you." Varric snorted in amusement. "If you think he was reformed at all, you've obviously never actually met Sebastian Vael."

Cassandra snarled, pointing a finger at him. "Continue the Champion's story, dwarf. No embellishments, this time."

"As you say, Seeker. Now, where was I…?"

A/N: This was a joke, a challenge, really, from the girls in the Sebastian Support Group on Facebook. They truly are the best (worst?) influence, because they've learned that they only have to dare me to do something, and I'll usually end up wrangling them something. Well, ladies, I say unto you - CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

What a nice palette cleanser to allow me to think about Aquila some more. Also, I have not forgotten about Obeisance, I swear. I'm simply having more fun with Aquila at the moment. As always, thanks for reading!