Nobody watches Hawke as much as Isabela does, like a true guardian. F!Hawke/Isabela

Isabela can't truly remember the last time she spent watching over someone so closely as she was doing so now with Hawke, but even if she did remember it would become a lesser thought or a distraction that would be able to remove her gaze away from the icy mage with the name of molten fire – and that, that was not an option anymore.

'I have a purpose, I have Hawke.'

That phrase alone seemed to be there for the very reason of driving her crazy as the slow walk towards a local village herself, Hawke, Varric and Tallis had passed through to borrow their cart that had taken them towards the Chateau and would also be taking them back to Kirkwall to lessen the days of travelling. Not that it would ever be enough, because now Isabela could hardly concentrate on anything but the words she had spoken.

She didn't necessarily regret them, no it was more of the fact that now she couldn't stop watching Hawke to try and see what her reaction would be however since coming back down from the Chateau with Tallis accompanying them (a progression Isabela had silently disapproved of with a roll of her eyes) Hawke had been nothing like herself; complaining about feeling a somewhat itchy sensation on her shoulder that herself and Varric had waved off as paranoia.

Tallis on the other hand had wanted to check the Champion's shoulder just in case the fight with Prosper had managed to wound Hawke, though Isabela soon found out the hard way was that she was not comfortable any longer with Hawke being in the presence of Tallis and if she had to then she would remove the elf in case she decided to plant them in more trouble than she already had.

Stupid, stupid Hawke and her stupid pesky ways of trying to help someone like the stupid, stupid, helpful wench she was and ugh, sometimes the very thought of Hawke was enough for Isabela to want to punch someone and then to confuse herself even more at her own mixed feelings she knew if that she punched Hawke then she would also be the one to patch her back up again; grumbling the whole way mind you, but she would still do it

Isabela released another sigh at her own thoughts, rubbing the nape of her neck in an attempt to ease away the tension there whilst keeping her amber hues focused on the redheaded elf in front as well as Hawke; her own protectiveness now becoming her main source of annoyance despite that source being Hawke herself, because honestly, the mage was driving her completely insane by just being there.

Stupid Hawke.

"If you keep sighing like that Rivaini people might start to wonder what's on your mind," Varric's voice seemed to float out of nowhere and with a slight jump Isabela realized that the dwarf was beside her and smirking like the cat who had just got the cream, an expression Isabela usually wore herself. "That or you've got a severe case of hiccups, though I'm not sure how that'd work out to be honest."

Luckily for Varric (and unknowingly, Hawke and Tallis too) Isabela pretty much forced herself to get over whatever was plaguing her mind to grant the dwarf a mischievous smirk, bending down slightly so that her lips were aligned with Varric's ear.

"What do you say about persuading Qunari agent over there to a game of strip Diamondback later? If we win, then I'll be able to examine the goods quite thoroughly don't you think Varric?"

Varric could only look at her with an amused expression on his face, chuckling lowly as he shook his head at her in disbelief, "well Rivaini, I didn't expect you to get this suspicious over Tallis of all people; hell she practically saved our lives back at the Chateau."

Isabela didn't know what the problem was either if she was truthful, sure she didn't like the fact that she had somehow managed to defend Qunari agents by helping the redheaded elf but she couldn't blame Tallis for doing what she deemed right either; mostly because it was a very Hawke thing, doing what was right and damning the consequences.

Stupid Hawke and her stupid goody-two-shoe ways that always got them in trouble and still Hawke wondered why Isabela complained about the mage sticking her nose into something, it was absolutely aggravating.

Okay fine, she was lying about not knowing either because she wasn't stupid, blind or deaf: she didn't want Tallis around Hawke. It was plain, it was simple and it was also not her.

Another sigh, times like these were when Isabela really wished Lady Biceps was here because then she would at least have someone who agreed with that this Tallis was nothing but trouble.

And for some reason or other the redheaded elf couldn't seem to leave Hawke alone either, her weapons constantly unsheathed and at the ready as if she was Hawke's own guardian out to protect the mage as they walked, and again Isabela found herself bothered by it more than imagined because how could Hawke stand that? Hawke had almost ripped her head off for coddling her in battle – which she hadn't thank you very much, in fact Hawke seemed to be the one doing all the coddling with all that healing, very unnecessary! – yet Tallis was doing a fine job of coddling Hawke herself.

"I'm so bloody petty sometimes," Isabela admitted aloud with a shake of her head at Varric who only nodded in understanding. "I'm just glad this is over and we're going back…"

A sharp cry up front caused Isabela's spine to straighten up as tension flooded her limbs with a weariness that she could not compare to anything else, her eyes too focused on the slouched body of Hawke that was now leant up against a tree for support with a hand clutching viciously at the metal of her Champion's armour above her left shoulder.

'Stupid, stupid, stupid me,' Isabela growled angrily at herself, moving forward as fast as she could along with Varric to get to Hawke to see what the problem. 'Paranoia? What are you, stupid?'

Evidently so because if she hadn't been so caught up in her thoughts (in Hawke) then maybe she would have noticed that not only were a whole group of harlequins tracking them, but they had also now started to appear out of the many trees and bushes that were scattered around the dismal forest they had stumbled upon; the harlequins surrounding them all in a matter of seconds.

"Shit." Varric cursed beside her with Bianca already in his ready hands; his statement a sentiment Isabela found herself agreeing with.

Tallis was much closer to Hawke than Isabela was and so when the harlequins finally started to weave and slash their way through in an attempt to get to the pained mage, it was Tallis who stopped the first couple with her uncanny ability of disappearing for a split second and appearing the next with her daggers at their throats as though she was born to do so.

Unfortunately for Tallis not only had Isabela been born to a mother who had given her a knife at the age of three ("chop those tomatoes wench! Do you think you're getting out of it because you can hardly talk?") but she had been taught well on how to use not one, not two, not three but four knives at the same time; not that she liked to brag or anything, it was just simple facts.

With a cry of her usual mantra about her grandmother Isabela dived into the fray alongside the redheaded elf, ducking and diving to match the harlequins blades that attempted to gut her like they had back at the Chateau, although now something was different, that Isabela could tell alone by just watching the group carefully.

Her amber orbs caught the side of one of the harlequins, this one dressed in a dark blue and orange stripped outfit who apparently thought it was interesting to watch her like a mabari hound watched its master; analysing her every movements and copying her every lunge and jab until soon enough the harlequin stopped completely and shot her a smile that offered a challenge Isabela knew she wouldn't be able to turn down.


Her eyes flickered back onto Hawke who was desperately trying to keep the more aggressive harlequins away from Varric with bursts of ice that slammed the oncoming forces into anything nearby, a method that was bit-by-bit revealing Hawke's location to the rest of the harlequins who had lost the patience from being frozen into bits of snow and ice.

"Go for the mage!" She heard the harlequin that had issued a challenge towards her yell at the rest of her sisters, a laugh teetering from her lips so wildly that in a matter of moments Isabela's amusement at the challenge had immediately turned into white, hot fury that made her head ache in resentment at how she seemed to miss everything before it was too late.

Hawke had been the challenge, she realized with an uncomfortable shake of her head, had been the challenge to get to first without becoming distracted and again Isabela had let her mind wander and now the advancing storm of harlequins was her reward for carelessness.

Isabela could deal with that, could deal with her mistakes and the consequences even if most of the time she ran away from them, but what she couldn't deal with was the fact that her mistake lead to Hawke's injury becoming even more so of a wound than before – this Isabela refused to live with.

It took everything within Isabela to jump as high as she did to bring down the first two harlequins that were the nearest to Hawke, her legs ached with the momentum that the jump had contained and the muscles of her arms strained in agony as she brought the blades down to rip into flesh but it still meant that she had given Hawke enough time to cast another spell – or so Isabela hoped.

A ball of fire flying past her to roast alive the harlequins behind her answered Isabela's unsaid question, causing her to grin impishly at the shaking mage a few feet away from her and rush on to take down another two harlequins by stabbing one in the kneecaps and punching the other in the jaw until she felt the bone break under her knuckles.

"Isabela watch out!" The Rivaini pirate heard Hawke cry out weakly just a second too late before she was dragged to the ground with a foot slamming her to the ground by using her back as a leverage to spring at the now slumped Hawke who Isabela still couldn't stop watching in fear she would lose herself and Hawke to the blackness of uncertainty.

The pain is expected but the blurred eyesight isn't, not that it lasted very long because as soon as Isabela heard an animalistic scream rip from Hawke's throat her whole vision seemed to focus a lot more clearer than before until all of a sudden it felt as though was looking through the eyes of the harlequin who had issued the challenge, who had been the one to smile sinfully at her and was now the one who had slashed Hawke through her abdomen with a force that caused her armour to fall apart from under the blow.

As soon as Isabela saw Hawke's blood spurt out from within that usually strong body that had conquered the Arishok, demons, mages, templars and whatever foul creatures alike it had all become clear to her despite the bloodlust she felt within her veins and how everything she seemed to look at was the colour of red, at that point she knew that whatever the harlequin in front of her had done in life (be it good or bad) was now irrelevant for now Isabela was going to end her as painfully as possible.

With a feral cry she threw herself back up onto her feet with as much strength she could possibly muster, eyes wide open with a rage that seemed to spark the deep sound of her blood travelling to her ears and the rheumatic beat of her heart.

The harlequin knew immediately that Isabela was out for her and so it didn't surprise the Rivaini woman one bit when her the blade of her dagger met the hilt of her opponents with a clash of steel, the only difference being that the harlequin's was stained with blood – Hawke's blood, Hawke, stupid, flaming Hawke who Isabela feared and wanted and just…Hawke.

With a grunt Isabela swung outwards with her leg in an attempt to trip the harlequin up, however was met with her opponent's other dagger propelling towards her thigh at such speed that the pirate just made it out the way before it could thrust into her leg by rolling to the side so that her back was pressed up against Hawke's front in the most protective stance she could muster.

"You alright bird for brains?" Isabela whispered with her eyes still trained intently on the harlequin in front of her, her fingers curling the daggers in her hands over and over each time the female jester took a step forwards.

"As well as one can be once they just got slashed in the stomach," Hawke grumbled back with her usual aggressive tone although this time it was accompanied with a gasp of pain that sent a tingle up Isabela's spine because if there was one thing she couldn't stand it was seeing or hearing Hawke in pain – exactly as she was now.

"That's what I like about you birdy," Isabela commented with a sarcastic twang coating her words, chuckling bitterly as the harlequin took another step forward with that sick red smirk on her face. "You always have the gratitude of a blessed saint and the patience of a bloated nug and you wonder why I stick around!"

Isabela took a step forward to the left, pleased that the harlequin took it within herself to then copy her movements because as soon as the pirate had seen that she quickly feigned a step to the left again before she dived at the harlequin's right, kicking her two daggers from out of her hand and lunging forward with her own to drive her dagger point into the harlequin's heart with her face impassive as the harlequin thrashed and gurgled until she finally stilled with her head slumping on Isabela's shoulder.

The dripping sound that soon followed caused Isabela to sigh as the adrenaline finally left her, looking over the harlequin's shoulder to see that finally Tallis and Varric had decided to join them which gave her enough time to pull back and kick the lifeless harlequin off her dagger with the sole of her foot; watching with a dull thud of satisfaction as the body slumped to the floor.

Tallis danced past her fast enough that Isabela had no time to react, instead she merely sighed again at the pointless waste of life before she looked down at herself to see that the blood off the female jester had managed to soak through most of her corset and had stained her blue sash a purplish colour.

"Awww, that sash was my favourite too." Isabela murmured with a pout, unlacing the sash from around her waist to stare at it mournfully. "Goodbye blue sash, you held so many memories."

Most of them featured Hawke tying her to a bed, but still, good memories. Memories that she would have liked to store away for quite a long time.

"Hawke are you alright? You know I think the best thing to do next time is try to avoid the sharp, pointy things."

Isabela turned at the sound of Tallis' voice behind her, stance widening as she bounced on the tips of her heels to get towards the elf and the now slumped Hawke who seemed to be scowling at the redheaded elf with a look of complete annoyance.

Good, so the old grumpy Hawke was still in there and hadn't temporarily vanished due to Tallis' presence because if that had happened then Isabela would have honestly had to have…some sort of conversation with the Champion because what in Andraste's knickers did Hawke think she was doing being all charming and fancy pants like just because of one bloody elf?

'Shut up Isabela, you're a fool.' She argued with herself, shaking her head to try and get rid of the thoughts so that when she knelt down next to the wounded mage to check on her she didn't start acting as though she wanted to punch Tallis right in the face; which was a damn shame because she bloody well did want to do that and for that reason alone she hated every single moment of being in this stupid fancy country with their stupid fashion and their ridiculously good wine which was ALSO stupid.

"Oh come on sweetie don't give me such a hard look, you know I'm only teasing," Isabela heard the elf say with a chuckle that caused the hair on Isabela's neck stand up in a bitter resentment that shocked even her because where had that come from? Again?

It must be that damn Orlesian wine, making her feel so pathetic and clingy just because she saw Hawke with another person who wasn't her; Maker, when had she become so bloody petty?

Once she had managed to get to Hawke with what Isabela hoped to be a clearer head than before she knelt down next to the mage, reaching over to playfully punch the pouting woman on the shoulder.

"Well it could be a lot worse Hawke," Isabela said dryly with a roll of her eyes at Hawke's grunt of disapproval, unravelling the sash from around her knuckle to tie it around the gash the harlequin's dagger had left just above Hawke's stomach. "You could be stuck in a tree trying to save a cat like last time."

Hawke's icy blue eyes crinkled with faint amusement for a moment, yet that soon changed when another sharp shot of pain wracked her body with a severity that caused the mage to yell out in pain whilst her hand reached out to cling onto Isabela's blood-soaked bodice.

"Hawke! You okay…"

"Of course she's flaming not, what are you? Blind?" Isabela snapped with a shake of her head and a whistle to Varric to come over and help her with placing Hawke's shivering arm around Isabela's neck. "We'll need to try and set up camp somewhere around here before the stupid twit decides to get even worse before she can get better."

"Whoa Rivaini, hold your horses a second here!" Varric protested with a nervous chuckle that Isabela would have taken note of (even grow concerned for) if she hadn't been carrying a fully-armoured Hawke in her arms that kept hissing in pain due to her muscles twinging. "We both know you're upset but…"

Isabela stopped, tilting her head to the side slightly with an amused expression that she had to force on herself by pure will alone.



"Come help me set up camp will you? Carrying Hawke is like carrying Big Girl and two herds of cows."

Hawke snarled in Isabela's arms then, drawing a genuine laugh from the Rivaini pirate who looked down to see that the mage was glaring at her through thick lashes that shone with the tears she had shed at the pain; a sight Isabela didn't think she'd ever see what with Hawke's usual strong, bellicose self.

"Aw Birdy, don't give me the puppy eyes, you know I won't rub your tummy in this state," Isabela teased with an impish smirk spreading its way onto her face. "Might get blood on my hands and that'd be terrible!"

The mage ignored her pain for a brief moment to choke out her next few words, which were – as Isabela guessed them to be – both grumpy yet undeniably soft. "Yes and we wouldn't want to get your hands filthy would we Isabela? And for your information, I don't have puppy eyes."

"Agreed Birdy, that's more like Fenris's trick isn't it?" Isabela agreed with her smirk widening and her grip on Hawke tightening when the mage began to writhe as another shot of pain travelled up her spine. "And hey, if you're going to die then can you at least do it as quietly as possible?"

Hawke looked at her through red-rimmed eyes and if Isabela hadn't really wanted to punch the stupid mage for being impossibly stupid and not saying something more (like "hey, my shoulder is on fire and I honestly don't think it's in my head") then maybe she wouldn't be feeling out of sync like she felt right now with Hawke making her feel all…gooey.

Stupid Hawke and her stupid scowl that made half of Isabela want to curl up in a ball and melt to herself in a corner, whilst the other half wanted to look Hawke in the eye and smack her one before hugging her so tightly she would fear of strangling her.

"Thanks pirate," Hawke broke the silence with a stiffness that made Isabela laugh and unintentionally bring the mage closer into her with a protectiveness that left the pirate feeling somewhat hollow inside. "You aren't as incompetent as you look."

Isabela arched a sceptical brow at her lover (hers, hers, hers and hers) with her left hand loosening slightly on Hawke's waist to trickle her fingers against her even more
bloodied sash. "I'll remember that Hawke next time you get slashed in the stomach by a delusional Orlesian jester with a strange sense of fashion!"

And well, she hadn't really expected one, not with this being Hawke who was just as much as incompetent as her when it came to matters of the heart, but after another brief moment of silence between them Isabela felt the mage's lips brush against her cheek in what had to be the most gentlest touch the pirate had ever received off this surly Champion of Kirkwall.

Hawke met her eyes then with a look that practically screamed 'don't you dare coddle me'.

Isabela sighed and with a quick look over her shoulder to see if Varric and Tallis was looking she leaned in to kiss the tip of the mage's nose, refusing to stare into the icy depths of Hawke's eyes immediately after she pulled away with an inward sigh of relief that her skin was dark enough that it wouldn't show how embarrassingly flustered she had gotten.

"And here I thought you didn't care Isabela…" The Rivaini heard Hawke tease with that irritatingly smug tone of hers when something went her way, which was near enough the complete opposite of Isabela's way.

Still even if that tone usually ended up with Isabela storming her way out of Hawke's mansion, today it just made her grow even hotter under the mage's silent gaze. "Oh shut up will you? I knew I shouldn't have done anything! You always do this when I do something you don't usually see!"

"It just shows that I care," Hawke replied dryly before another coughing fit caused her body to wrack in pain.

Isabela rolled her eyes and resisted sending Tallis a glare the moment she heard the redheaded elf laugh and yell a massive 'aww!'

"Stop talking you dim-witted bird for brains! What are you trying to do? Kill yourself? Just shut up!"

"Hey Rivaini I suggest a gag!" Varric called from behind her, drawing a genuine grin from Isabela's face.

"I suggest we gag the dwarf!" Hawke cried from over Isabela's shoulder with a glare that softened into a tender smile that had started appearing more often on the grumpy mage's face now that herself and Isabela had sealed the deal, or so to speak, still it didn't mean Hawke had changed altogether; most the time she was still her broody self that Isabela both resented and found herself immediately attracted to.

It was always the broody ones, the ones who acted so mighty and so strong and yet Isabela found herself being a guardian to this blighted mage who now couldn't stand on her own two feet.

"You know what they say about bloody mages don't you?" Isabela whispered slyly to the woman she carried in her arms, an attempt to push away the warmth that had erupted on her skin.

As suspected Hawke scowled and arched one delicate brow in scepticism. "I don't want to know."

Isabela bobbed her tongue out in response, flicking the mage on the nose before she continued her way down the road that swerved in and out of the forests of Orlais.

Hawke may be the Champion of Kirkwall.

But she was the Champion of Hawke.