Isabela had just made it out of the Hanged Man when she saw Varric and Hawke approaching. She darted around the corner and waited for them to pass, grinning as she caught a snippet of their conversation.
"I'm telling you, Hawke, she's up to something."
"She's always up to something, Varric."
"Yes, but I usually know what it is!"
“Come in,” Anders called. He looked up as she opened the door. “Isabela … again? " He sounded disappointed. "Didn’t I just give you-“
Isabela affected an offended expression. “That’s not why I’m here! I’m not that bad, Anders.”
Anders looked somewhat abashed. “I’m sorry. I just assumed-“
She grinned. “It’s okay; it’s a fair assumption. But that’s not why I’m here this time.” She pulled the wrapped parcel from behind her back and suddenly looked a bit bashful. “This is for you.”
He took it, looking at her strangely. “You … got me a present?”
Anders raised an eyebrow. “Really?” He eyed the box.
“Oh, Andraste’s ass, Sparklefingers, it’s not going to explode, and this IS the time of year where you give people gifts, is it not?”
“Well … yes, but this box is rather big for a gift certificate to the Blooming Rose.” He grinned.
She ignored that. “You know, you really are quite attractive when you really smile,” she said, winking.
Anders blushed. “I … well.” He coughed and took the box to his desk and set it down. “Do you want me to open it now?”
Isabela tried – and mostly failed - to look disinterested. “You can if you want.”
“Oh, good! I thought I’d have to wait til Satinalia proper.” He pulled the ribbon off and practically shredded the paper, then opened the box. “It’s … a metal bowl?” He looked at her. “Why did you get me a metal bowl?”
She just smiled and sashayed to the door of the clinic.
“You’re just going to leave and not tell me?” Anders sounded genuinely offended.
Isabela leaned out the door and retrieved a smaller box. “No, you idiot, you’ll need the bowl for this.” She crossed the room again and handed him the smaller box.
Anders peered inside. “You got me … where did you get him?”
“Her. And I know a guy.” She smiled and held out her hands.
Anders set the box in her arms and pulled out the small kitten.
“He said her ear got hurt in a fight, and her eyes don’t match, and-“
“And she’s absolutely beautiful,” Anders cooed. “Aren’t you, girl?” He looked at Isabela, clearly moved. “Thank you.”
“Well, I just didn’t want to see you looking so morose over the holidays,” she said. “You were even depressed making cookies at Hawke’s.” She smirked. “I didn’t get anything for Justice, though. I thought about kidnapping a templar, but I didn’t know if you’d really appreciate that gift as much as he would.” She winked. “I am talking to Anders right now, right?”
“Very funny,” he said, trying to look serious.
She laughed. “Anyway, happy Satinalia, Anders.” On impulse, she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
Anders’ jaw dropped as she quickly stepped away. “I should go,” she said, turning and swaggering out of the clinic, tipping him a jaunty salute before the door closed.
“Oh! Isabela!” Merrill stammered. “I didn’t know you were coming! Come in!”
Isabela stepped into the front room. “Hello, kitten.” She smiled. “I just wanted to bring you your Satinalia present.”
“Oh no! Was I supposed to have a present for you?”
“No, Merrill! Well, I mean, you can if you want, but you don’t have to.” Isabela smiled. “I just got you one because I found the perfect thing for you.” She handed the elf a rather large envelope.
Merrill shook it, looked intrigued at the rattling sounds, and opened it, pulling out a smaller packet. “These are ….” She opened the packet. “Seeds?”
Isabela nodded. “A friend of mine was in port for a few days and brought me a bunch of different flower and plant seeds from different places he’s been. I thought you’d like them.”
Merrill grinned. “I can start another garden plot at Fenris’s house!”
Isabela laughed. “You should definitely do that.” She kissed Merrill on the cheek. “Well, I should go, kitten, but I’ll see you at the Hanged Man later for cards?”
“Of course! I wouldn’t miss it.”
“Isabela, did you get me a present?”
Isabela grinned. “I did, Aveline. Well, really, it’s for you and Donnic.”
Aveline looked at the package. “It’s not a gift certificate to the Blooming Rose, is it? Because we’ve already talked about this.”
“Just open it.”
Aveline opened it and promptly blushed as red as her hair. “You got us a dirty book?”
Isabela looked hurt. “Aveline, that right there is a classic Orlesian volume on the art of lovemaking. You two just got married, and I thought it would provide welcome diversion!”
Aveline smiled in spite of herself. “I don’t know why I’m even surprised, I should have seen this coming a mile away.”
Isabela laughed. “Yes, you should have.”
Aveline reached into one of her desk drawers and extracted a neatly wrapped present. “I have one for you, too.”
Isabela grinned and snatched it. “I’m so flattered!” She opened it, flipped through it, and looked at Aveline. “Really?”
“It’s a copy of Kirkwall’s penal code. I made sure to underline the parts about theft.” Aveline smiled sweetly.
Isabela started laughing so hard she had to lean against the desk. “That’s priceless, Aveline.” She finally regained her composure. “I’ll be sure to read it every night … if you two read yours,” she smirked.
Sebastian picked up the package that had been left for him at the chantry, setting the attached card aside and tearing the wrapping.
“A book of theses on Andraste’s life and works?” he exclaimed excitedly. “Where did this come from?”
He picked up the card and opened it.
Hey Choir Boy,
I hope you like your present. It seemed like something you’d get into, although I may just be saying that because it said “Andraste” on it. You’re remarkably easy to shop for. And when I say “shop,” let’s leave it at that and not discuss where I got this, because I know neither of us want to have that conversation; it will just end in tears.
He looked back at the book. “Damn it, Isabela.” He tossed the card aside and picked up the book. “Well, maybe I can just read it first before I figure out what to do with it ….”
Hawke eyed Isabela. “What are you up to?”
Isabela fluttered her eyelashes. “Up to? Whatever do you mean?”
“You know very well what I mean.”
Isabela produced a long, slim package from behind her back. “I got you a Satinalia present.”
Hawke grinned. “Really?” She took the box and opened it. “Ooh, these are nice daggers.” Hawke pulled one out and turned it from side to side in the light streaming in from the windows. “These are gorgeous!”
“I’m glad you like them.”
“Should I ask where you got them?”
“Fair enough.” Marian took her old daggers and sheaths off her belt, and put on the new ones. “Light, too.”
Isabela smiled. “I knew you’d like them. Must dash, but I’ll see you in a couple days for that trip to the Wounded Coast, right?”
“Naturally.” Marian kissed Isabela’s cheek. “They’re great.”
Isabela waved as she left the house.
She stopped by Fenris’s mansion later that evening.
“What’s this?” he asked as she handed him a package.
“A Satinalia present, silly.”
He looked a bit uncomfortable. “I don’t have one for you.”
“You will once you open that,” she grinned.
He neatly removed the paper. “A … book?”
“I know Hawke’s been teaching you to read, but you don’t even need to read anything in this one,” she grinned.
“Oh.” Fenris opened it and flipped through a few pages. “Oh, I see .”
Isabela grinned. “I got one for Aveline and Donnic, but it looked so fun that I got one for you, too.”
He chuckled. “I bet Aveline just loved it.”
Isabela laughed. “She gave me the penal code in return, so I think we’re even.”
Fenris smirked. “That’s pretty good.”
“I know, right? I’m so proud of her.”
He held up the book and wiggled it. “And you’d like your present to be something out of this book?”
“Well, that’s kind of a present to both of us, but yeah.” She winked.
He tossed her the book and grabbed a couple of wine bottles. “Let’s go.”
She found Varric drinking in his rooms. He looked up and grinned as she entered. “Oh, are you talking to me again, Rivaini?”
“Oh, Varric, you know I could never not talk to you. I just had to take care of some things.” She handed him a small, wrapped package.
“A Satinalia gift? You’re too kind!” He opened it, and then looked hurt. “You wrote friend fiction without me?”
She pointed at the cover. “I couldn’t very well write friend fiction about you with you, now could I?”
He looked at it. “I’m … the hero? You know I’m never the hero, Rivaini! That’s not how it works.”
She kissed the top of his head. “Everyone deserves to be the hero sometimes.” She pointed downstairs. “I have to go; Merrill's already here to play cards. Coming?”
“In a minute,” he said absently, still looking at the book in his hands and smiling.
Zevran looked down at the envelope he was holding, then turned it over and opened it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor; he crouched to pick it up.
“Soon.” Signed with a familiar capital I, a ridiculously ornate flourish, and a drawing of two stick figures doing vulgar things.
He grinned, pocketed the paper, and left the house, whistling.