So, I promised myself I wouldn't focus on anything Gaile/Bela until I published chapter 3 of my Merrill/Hawke story...That didn't happen, those two are never far from my mind, but I DID wait to publish this, at least. So, ha! Take that conscience!

This, my darlings, is a short - a prelude, in fact, to 'You'. The wonderful Heath Wingwhit and I have been trading shorts (with some *amazing* results on her end - if you haven't read them already, DO EET) for a while now and since she was gracious enough to share some of hers, I suppose I can be just as giving in return. ;)

That, and it kinda belongs here. You'll see why when you read it. Also remember that this story is rated M. And I didn't post it in My Tornado, so...

"Are you married?"

"Is that a proposal?" The elf's inquiry had been sudden, blurted in a way that made Gaile spin on her heels to show her grin; she and the other woman played a game of sorts, one where the elf would try not to stare and she would catch her in the act regardless. "Oh, Tallis: I do believe my heart's all aflutter."

Pink touched the other's cheeks, the crooked smile given for her words making her own expression grow. "I haven't lost my touch, then. Good to know…" the rogue continued to amble backwards, catching the new, telling sway of Tallis' hips before meeting her eyes, "Though, you can't really blame me for being curious. There are…a fair amount of rumors floating around about you."

"Only good things, I hope." She chuckled. "I do try oh-so hard to be on my very best behavior."

"Funny: most of what I've heard implied the exact opposite." Gaile raised an interested brow, an encouragement for the other to go on. "A dashing rogue with a tongue as sharp as her blades, fixing about as many problems as she creates. And then there's the small part about you stealing young women's virtue and winning the heart of any man you set your sights on." There was a twinkle in her eyes. "Sound about right?"

"Besides a, frankly, morbid obsession with saving the day and riding off into the sunset?" She smirked. "Yes."

Tallis laughed. "I thought so. I admit, when I first heard all the things people had to say about the infamous Champion of Kirkwall, I thought most of the stories exaggerated and that I'd likely be disappointed." It was only a moment, the elf's gaze flicking away from her own before returning, "But now, after meeting you…"

"I've summarily exceeded your wildest expectations?"

That crooked smile. "I'm impressed." She stressed the last word and Gaile tsked; the elf was a wonderful tease. "Which is why I'm sure others would be as well. Add that to that big, fancy title of yours and, well…" she shrugged, "I don't know. One would think there would be a husband behind the throne." Those pale eyes held that adorable diffidence once more. "A person who's managed to catch that fluttering heart of yours?"

"That…is a very good question." Isabela approached them both, positively strutting from…wherever it was she'd wandered off to, the smirk in her tone as unmistakable as the one on her lips. "Does the Champion have a person to strain those vocal cords?" Their eyes met, the pirate's issuing a silent sort of challenge. "Leave her sore in all the right places?"

"Oh, she does…" a grin, "though, that has little to do with her heart." She winked at Tallis, the elf coloring once more before surveying the area. "Let's split up here. This clearing is as good as any to set camp and I'd like to gather the essentials before we're all fumbling in the dark." The rogue walked off, offering a two-fingered salute. "Let's see what nature's bounty has provided for us tonight, shall we?"

A path was chosen at random, Gaile following the winding trail only to be enveloped by the sounds of rustling leaves, chirping birds – her own soft footfalls against the vibrant grass. The sun hung low in the sky, pools of gold spilling unto the forest floor, the tall shadows of the trees to the left and right of her stretching forward and creating a dark bridge to walk on.

She closed her eyes.

Forests brought back so many memories, hiding right beneath her eyelids…Of Lothering, of her family – how much she loved to explore as a child. How much trouble she would find.

How very simple everything had been.

If only she'd known how it would all end….



A branch snapped.

The rogue smirked.

"Isabela, I fear you haven't quite captured the meaning of 'split up'…"

The pirate slipped from behind a tree, steps no longer delicate and careful. "I'm looking for water – you just happen to be going in the direction I feel its in."


"There's a lake a ways off from here," she continued on as if nothing were said, "hopefully I'll bump into it soon. I've always had a knack for finding water…All these twigs and leaves make my throat itch." Without even looking, Gaile felt the other's eyes on her. Searching. "Is there a reason you're standing in the middle of a forest with your eyes closed?" The sound of footsteps drew near. "Do you want one of those ghasts to pop up from the ground to eat you?"

"I was hoping for a wevryn, actually. I've always wanted to go out with a bang, but a toxic spew of death is a close second…." An eye opened, a myriad of greens and browns meeting her again. "Forests…They don't really have them in Kirkwall, do they? Being in one now…I suppose I'm a bit nostalgic."

Isabela walked past her. "You like them?"

Gaile followed. "I like what they represent." Freedom. The Unknown…She chuckled. "My forest is your sea."

"Depths that seem endless with all sorts of dangerous critters roaming about." Light licked the heels of her boots. "A sea of trees. I could see the comparison – but there's absolutely nothing like being on the open water, with nothing between you and the horizon."

A broad grin. "You'll just have to show me. When we sail away on your ship."

Isabela glanced back at her – something new in those eyes – something soft and fleeting – a gentler curve to her lips – before she looked away.


Dappled light playing against their forms as they traveled down the path.

"So." The slightest pause. "Tallis."


"She's fairly pretty. And obviously interested. I'm sure she'd drop her knickers in a second if you'd asked."

Her fingers examined the leaves of a bush. "You think so?"

The pirate chuckled. "If she threw herself at you any harder…" Another pause. "Wait. You really don't see it, do you?" She scoffed. "You've never done well with the obvious." Gaile raised a brow; the other did not turn. "What catches that eye of yours these days, hm? The gaze of a Champion…Who wouldn't feel important?" Something in the way she walked, the way her shoulders stiffened… "Who could resist?"

A second bush. More leaves. "You've never cared for my title."

"It's more trouble than its worth."

More silence.

Gaile stared at the woman's corseted back…before looking up with a smirk. "It's your lake." Another clearing: the dying sun reflected off the pool's rippled surface in the distance, a melancholy of orange and yellow. "I suppose there was something to your story after all."

The other's hand brushed the trunk of a tree, seemingly disinterested in the sight. "Do you like her?"

The rogue shrugged, another action unseen. "Don't you?"

"Do you want her?" Isabela stopped walking. "Look, if you want to fuck her…"

"You're willing to share?" The other whipped around. "Try this." She pressed a berry to the pirate's lips, not breaking their gazes until it was accepted. Their bodies almost touched. Gaile grinned. "Good?"

Isabela swallowed. "I don't understand you. You always make things so damned…" her brows furrowed, "difficult." Amber orbs fell to the ground. "Even when you think you don't."

Her expression grew, a berry plopped in her own mouth. "How similar we are!"

The other frowned. "What do you like most, Hawke? Us, together – what's your favorite part?" Her eyes were bright, her tone a stretched cord. "The same tricks, over and over – things are bound to get boring. Things will get boring. It's all right to be bored. I never expected you to bed just me." Her lips curled. The pattern was familiar. "Even you're human."

"Mm." Gaile leaned forward, the last inch taken, capturing those lips, tasting the derision and berry in equal measure – consuming her – until Isabela moaned against her, nails digging into leather – into flesh – as she parted with hot gasps. The rogue licked her lips. "I should be grateful." Their eyes collided. "You still have no idea what you do to me…"

A pause.

A grin.

She's startled her. But the recovery's quick.

The pirate smirked.

"And if I knew exactly what I did to you?" Fingers dragged from her neck to brush along her clavicle – only to graze lower.

"Then you would have to prove it, of course, the vindictive pirate that you are." Gaile pressed closer, anything to feel even the briefest shift of the other's supple curves. "A chance to put the Champion in her place?" Her lips brushed an ear. "How could you resist?"

Amber orbs gleamed with mischief, light and dark all at once as the other raised her free hand to undo the tie of her headscarf; chocolate tresses spilled from the loosened fabric, freed curls draping her shoulders.

A hitch in her breathing. "That…is a very good start." Regardless of how many times she'd seen it, there was something about the other's hair when lacking its usual cover; wild and unrestrained – sinful – dark curtains against her face, setting her eyes on fire.

Setting her on fire.

The pirate gave a light shake of her head, tousling the strands further. "You like this?"

"Oh, I do." Her fingers tangled in the silken locks, hand snaking to the back of her head. "Almost. As much as…" she captured the other's lips again, slipping in a tongue, alternating between suckling and writhing – savoring her taste, a firm hand holding the pirate where she was.

Isabela suddenly bit her lip and she gasped, the woman sucking on the lower puff of flesh before gradually releasing it. "I think I need a bath." A low purr that made all of her shiver. "Do you think I need a bath?"

She grinned.

Her lover traced the curve of her lips before lowering her to the ground, a booted leg immediately offered across her lap.

"Take them off."

The words alone…her body throbbed in response.

Gaile swallowed thickly, hands, at times, fumbling at the buckles whenever Isabela decided to suddenly grind her thigh against where she positively ached.

Sweet Maker, friction was a wondrous thing….

Finishing her arduous, but oh-so gratifying, task, she secured the foot of each boot as the pirate leisurely slipped out of them, revealing the flawless, bronzed skin of long, toned legs – withdrawing both before the rogue could get her hands on them.

She pouted. "Now you're just being cruel."

Isabela merely smirked, standing to her feet before turning away. The pirate held her headscarf with two fingers alone, the silken fabric flowing with the liquid sway of her hips as she walked toward the lake…before it was released, blue falling to the ground. The trend continued. Bit by bit, her outfit came apart: shawl unraveled, corset plucked, daggers discarded, armor stripped – until only her tunic remained, its tapered ends fluttering in the breeze.

A glance was cast over her shoulder, the dark drape of her hair shifting.

Full lips parted.

Golden orbs burned.

All of her intentions. All in a moment.

Gaile couldn't recall how to breathe

The tunic was apprehended, lazily rolled up the curves of her body, peeled from her breasts, and then unceremoniously tossed away. Suddenly, both hands were at her hips, a natural, fluid motion, fingers hooking on either side of her smallclothes, each footfall taken, bringing another tug downward.

A step.

An inch.

A step.


Until the flimsy fabric fell away. And she was finally revealed in all her naked glory.

The sun appeared to covet her skin, pools of gold peeking through the trees, washing over her form…Shinning rays kissing – nestling against her curves.

The pirate a wild, beautiful thing.

So beautiful….

There was no hesitation: Isabela sprung into the lake, like a fish that had found water, entering its murky depths with a crash, countless ripples spreading from her influence. The rogue watched the woman's shadowy form, flashes of brown every now and again until she disappeared completely.

Gaile waited. Shedding her daggers. Closing her eyes.



The pirate ascended as she entered, a second crash as she broke through the surface of the water – it covering her like a second skin, blurring the lines between them. A cascade of brown, the dark tendrils of her hair latching almost desperately to her flesh, cradling her face, as countless droplets fell from the strands.

Looking at her now…She was speechless. Caught between a constant desire and something she could never voice aloud.

Isabela smirked. Maker help her, she was gorgeous. "Coming?"

"Soon." A breathy chuckle. "If you're as good as you say you are." They traded grins; Gaile made her approach. "Straining my voice." She removed her boot. "Leaving me sore in all the right places…" The other. "A Champion is nothing but fair." A grin. "However can I repay you?

Soft lapping as the pirate moved to meet her. "I can think of a few ways."

Her feet touched the bank, the rogue dropping to her knees. "Do tell…"

"For one, it involves you being far…" her eyes gleamed, "closer."

"How close?" A whisper.

Isabela swam up, breasts exposed as her arm left the water, a thumb hooking on her belt, jerking her near. "This close…"

"I see…" Their lips met in a practiced rhythm, water and flesh as Gaile drunk her in, reveling in the coos and moans – from her, from Isabela – until she was pulling the woman up with her to land, hovering over her supple, wet body.

The pirate gazed up behind dark lashes, annoyance mixed with lust; she had overstepped her boundaries.

The rogue would make it so she wouldn't mind.

Two fingers slipped inside her, stretching, flexing; they had already had their foreplay, the foreplay had been everything that came before – and there was no time to waste. "I love how you feel, the small jerks of your hips…The sounds you make." The other moaned as if summoned, rocking against the force of her digits. "Breathless. Needy…Does it turn you on being near the water like this?" Her free hand played with a hardened nipple. "Being finger fucked by a lake?"

Isabela shivered.

Oh, it did.

Gaile's fingers abandoned the nipple, sliding down the pirate's ribs to gain access to her back, pulling her near, leaving bites and kisses along her neck – thrusting harder. "More." More of the sounds, more of the shudders – it was never enough – she could never get enough; the rogue lapped up the tiny beads of water that settled in the valley between her breasts. "More, Isabela."

"Hawke…" A cry. A plea.

A grin. "You're close?"

The question was rhetorical. Her slick walls clenched and rippled against her fingers in a telltale way.

A third was slipped in.

Isabela screamed and she swallowed it with a kiss. One, twothree more deep thrusts and the pirate trembled, uncontrollable quakes spreading from her center, eyes screwed shut in something both pleasure and pain.

They broke away panting.

She will never forgive her lungs for being so consistently needy.

The rogue stroked the other's cheek, watched as she basked in the afterglow. "You know…" a damp lock was brushed away, "there's no need to worry." The pirate opened her eyes. "I could never be bored of this."

It's the look in those orbs–

She's startled her again.

"Worry?" Isabela's voice was soft. Her eyes away. "About what?"

Gaile chuckled, leaning down to kiss her.