She was a pirate. Hawke knew that; she’s known it since the first day she met the carefree Rivaini. It was a story worth remembering, or as Varric would say, it was a story worth telling. The woman who single-handedly won a bar fight, who then turned around and asked Hawke to watch her back.
A back that Hawke’s been watching pretty much perpetually since then.
Isabela, her very own dusky pirate queen. Who was currently strutting in front of her, browsing the stalls at the Lowtown Bazaar.
“I found this amazing hat shop in Lowtown!” the dark-skinned woman had gushed the moment she stepped into the Hawke estate. As usual, her eyes twinkled with mischief and Hawke was unsure of what she meant exactly by that. Hawke had learned a long time ago that with Isabela, nothing is ever as it seemed.
“A hat shop?” Hawke raised a questioning eyebrow.
“This is a hat!” Isabela said indignantly, pointing at the blue bandana holding her lustrous black hair back.
“So… you want a new bandana?”
Isabela had rolled her eyes dramatically, “Just come along, sweet thing, and you’ll find out.”
And that was how Hawke had ended up in the Lowtown Bazaar, idly glancing at the wares the merchants were selling, while keeping up with Isabela, who was far too excited about a bandana, in Hawke’s opinion. The merchants hollered at them – the cheapest items here! Come see my wares! You’ll be satisfied by what we sell here! – white noise, as far as Hawke was concerned. She’d never been the shopping type, unless it was of necessity, such as to buy a new weapon or new armour.
The pirate, however, seemed to be the exact opposite, stopping at almost every store, even if it was just to glance through what they had for sale. She was genuinely excited and fascinated by the stalls. That was new, Hawke thought. Isabela really was shopping; the amazing hat shop hadn’t been a euphemism for anything but shopping.
She smiled to herself; even after almost ten years of knowing Isabela, the Rivaini was still just as unpredictable as the first day they met.
Isabela’s rich laugh drew her attention. The dark-skinned woman had stopped at a stall that sold trinkets and was chatting amicably to the owner.
Hawke stopped and kept herself at a distance. It wasn’t that she was trying to avoid Isabela; far from it… She just wanted to watch her pirate queen. She had to admit, it was one of her favourite pastimes. Not that Isabela disapproved or anything. In fact, Hawke sometimes suspected Isabela blatantly encourages it. She wouldn’t put it past her.
As she spoke to the owner of the stall, Isabela laughed again, throwing her head back and exposing her neck. The mark that Hawke had made on her skin last night showed up prominently then, at the side of the pirate’s neck. Hawke chuckled; now that was a story that she’d only tell to a select few.
The voluptuous woman was now gesticulating wildly, probably trying to exaggerate another one of their conquests in battle. At least, Hawke hoped she was talking about their conquests in battle and not… in other places. Isabela’s hands moved like a dance in air, and Hawke’s eyes followed every step. Hawke stared intently on the aforementioned hands. They were not only thin and long, but also calloused and lined with wrinkles, the skin peeled raw in some parts. Her fingers looked oddly angled, like the joints weren’t in the proper places. Most people would have said they were far from pretty hands, and Hawke could see where they were coming from.
But Hawke was more familiar with those hands than most people and Hawke knew what wonders those hands could do. They were nimble and tough, just as they could be gentle and loving. She knew every curve and dip of those hands and every crook and callous of those fingers. They were, after all, hands that caressed her skin every other night.
And unlike most people, Hawke also knew the story behind each mark that marred the Rivaini’s hands.
Isabela had been stroking a particular spot on the Champion’s arm as they nestled against each other in bed one night. The callouses on her hands brushed against Hawke’s smooth skin with the softest of touch, like a whisper carried away by the wind, sent a shiver of pleasure down the lighter-skinned woman’s spine.
“’Bela,” she had murmured.
“What happened to your hands?”
The stroking stopped, and Hawke bit the inside of her cheeks, wishing she hadn’t asked the question in the first place.
She had really liked the stroking.
A relatively lengthy silence followed, and eventually, Hawke felt Isabela’s fingers ghosting against her skin. Goosebumps formed on her sensitive skin. She’d given up on Isabela answering her question, but then the dark-skinned woman spoke up.
“I’m a pirate,” she had said simply.
That had intrigued Hawke, who sat up and crossed her legs on the bed. “And?”
“What? Just because I’m the captain, you think I didn’t have to do anything aboard the ship? A sailor’s gotta do what a sailor’s gotta do,” Isabela sounded amused.
“No, but…” Hawke trailed off. She wasn’t much of a seafaring sort of person, and knew almost next to nothing about ships and what goes on them. But she figured captains didn’t have to do too much. Or at least, nothing that would warrant the hands.
Isabela sighed and sat up too, so that they were on eye level. “They’re just memories of my life before… before I lost my ship.”
Hawke reached out for one of Isabela’s hands and held it tenderly in hers. She rubbed her thumb against the palm of the pirate’s hand, trying to imprint upon her memory exactly how they felt.
“Rope burns and broken fingers,” Isabela said, so low that Hawke probably would have missed it if it hadn’t been entirely quiet.
She brought the hand closer to her and bent down to kiss one particularly noticeable callous mark just under the index finger. Lightly, she flicked her tongue against it. Isabela bit her lower lip.
“I,” Hawke reached out for the Rivaini’s other hand.
“love,” she kissed the middle of the palm.
“everything,” she moved her lips down, dragging her tongue softly along the callous marks.
“about” she switched her attention to the other hand.
“your,” she nipped lightly on a puckered spot.
“hands,” she ran her tongue up the inside of Isabela’s middle finger, following the odd contours of it.
She looked up to see Isabela’s flushed face and half-lidded eyes filled with lust. The pirate tucked her knees beneath herself and crawled closer to Hawke.
“I knew there was a reason I liked you,” Isabela said with a smirk before their lips met. They bit each other’s lips and their tongues wrapped around each other like a serpentine dance…
“Hawke!” Isabela’s voice jolted her out of her reverie. “Look at this!” the Rivaini beckoned for Hawke to see something in her hand. Hawke approached her and saw that it was a garish and ornate gold ring with large sapphire stone set in the middle.
“Do you think it’ll look good on my hand?”
On a whim, Hawke bent down and kissed her hand. “Anything would look good on your hands,” she said, smiling fondly at Isabela.
The dark-skinned woman looked surprised but quickly recovered herself. “Hawke, you’re going to make Milenna blush,” she gestured at the stall keeper, who indeed was looking everywhere but at them.
The pirate grinned deviously, “Does this mean you’re going to buy the ring for me?”
Isabela ‘s rich laugh filled the air, and Hawke thought to herself that it was one of her favourite sounds in the world.