Title: Never Come to Bliss
Fandom: Dragon Age II
Pairing: F!Hawke/Isabela, F!Hawke/Merrill
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Summary: Isabela returns to find Hawke has moved on, while she is left nursing a broken and regretful heart.
A/N: General spoilers for Act II, beginning of Act III. Title taken from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.
It took everything Isabela was to not run to Hawke as soon as she docked in Kirkwall. She heard the whispers, the shouts of elation about the Champion that had saved them all from the Qunari. The Ferelden refugee who had risen to shine as a voice of the people, as a herald of freedom from the iron fist that had become Meredith's rule over the city. She knew, then, she knew that if she had ever deserved Hawke, she didn't now. Not after she had abandoned her for three years when the woman was bed ridden from wounds incurred on her behalf.
So Isabela asked around, curious as to what the woman had been up to (if she had fallen in love, if the pirate had been replaced). Aveline had threatened to arrest her if she ever asked about Hawke again. Anders (well, Justice) had thrown her out of the clinic. Fenris had refused to let her in the mansion. Merrill was nowhere to be found, or at least, wasn't in her house in the Alienage and wasn't back with the Dalish (they refused her entry, as well). So she crawled back to the Hanged Man, defeated, which was how she found Hawke and Varric trying to teach Merrill how to properly play Wicked Grace.
She lingered in the doorway, swallowing back the heartbreak when she noticed how close the elf was to the Fereldan, the change of wardrobe (no more tattered robes, but silverite chain and brilliant white cloth). The bright sparkle of happiness that Isabela so painfully remembered had been in Hawke's eyes once upon a time when she looked at her reflected in Merrill's towards Hawke and Hawke's towards Merrill.
When Isabela was freed of her paralysis, she fled out into Lowtown, down to the Docks and cried as she stared at the horizon, fervently wishing she had never come back. And only when her throat was so raw she couldn't speak, her eyes swollen and bloodshot, robbed of every last tear and her cheeks sticky with them did she return to the tavern and went straight to her room, grateful that the game was over and it was deserted of everyone but the last dregs of the drinkers.
Resolving to become herself again, no more feeling nonsense, no more tears, none of it, she also resolved to make changes. She would do her utmost to preserve that happiness she had robbed herself of, had stolen away from herself when she had still possessed the chance to live that fairytale ending. The pirate would gut anyone who tried to break the warrior from her elf and she would never say a word to anyone about realising the cost of living a life free of love. Hawke was right, it hadn't been up to her.