Isabela shook her head fractionally, keeping the movement slight to avoid jostling Marian. “That Inquisition,” she clarified. “Didn’t the Chantry disown them? Popular cause, that one. Difficult to shut down. The Herald of Andraste and the Champion of Kirkwall working together. All we need is the Hero and we’ve got a full set…” Isabela chuckled lowly.
It was odd to think of Marian as anything other than Marian. Sure, her friend was remarkable, but Isabela had only once faltered in her vision of the rogue. For a time after Marian had earned her title, Isabela had felt like the odd one out. What did a Champion need for a vagabond pirate, anyway? Marian had quickly put a rest to her worries: they were friends, what else mattered? Since then, Isabela had only ever seen her friend, with seemingly permanent bruises and cheekbones that could cut as well as any dagger.
“Mmmm, always a compliment, sweet thing. You’re the most remarkable person I know.” She said it plainly, like the fact it was. “And it does. Should keep you out of trouble, and maybe away from giant spiders.” Isabela shivered and pulled the blankets closer around them. Kirkwall had had an endless supply of those vile things.
“That was one of my favourite days,” Isabela continued, snuggling up once she was content with her new nest. “As I recall, we finally put some color in your cheeks. Even if it was tomato red.” You could hear more than see Isabela’s wicked grin.
"Don’t say spiders,” Hawke whined as prickles ran up her arms and spine. Spiders were nasty, blasted things. They belonged in the ground, or better yet: back in the Void where she was sure they’d crawled out of along with hurlocks and tax collectors.
It was warm in the bed, Isabela’s familiar voice as comforting as a lullaby. It would have been so easy for Hawke to drift back to sleep, to forget Varric’s letter, to kiss Anders awake in the morning, to watch for mermaids with Cricket at dusk…
But she couldn’t.
She just couldn’t.
Because that isn’t what Malcolm Hawke would have done.
With an effort, Marian made herself sit up, ignoring the fresh chill to the air as she peeled the sea blankets from her shoulders. “Let’s have a drink,” she declared, pawing her way in the darkness for the decanter by the window. There was a quiet clunk, and then amber went sluicing into a pair of chipped glasses.
Hawke passed one to Isabela, then took up a lean against the edge of the desk where she could see the moon out the small window: high above the surf, running the shadows off.
She swirled the liquor in her grasp, thinking about running. It seemed like she was always sprinting toward problems instead of away from them like any normal person. Where did that end?
Maybe with Corypheus…
Eyes clearing, she raised her glass to her friend. “I’ve never been very good at toasts. Or speeches,” she paused and went on haltingly. “Or goodbyes."
"How about a raincheck?” Hawke asked as though making a sudden decision. She drew strength from the sight of Isabela, holding her drink as naturally as if they were back in the Hanged Man, chatting about secret coves between rounds of rigged card games. Yes. It was better like this. No swan song. Just in with the whiskey and out with the tide.