Bethany knew what her brothers-
thought of her. How Garrett knew that she was gentle and kind and that when she rested her head on her pillow at night it was with pleasant visions dancing in her head. And never-
Could he think that she would have so much as even a lascivious thought to call her into the Fade as she slept.
Well, Garrett was half right.
She often went to bed with pleasant thoughts, but they were certainly not wholesome. They might have been once, or at least they had once been less pleasant and more full of darkness and sad memories on their days before Kirkwall. Certainly, there were nights still, where she remembered Carver fondly, without all of Ostagar carried on his shoulders.
Time, and a dark-skinned pirate with a mouth that made her blush in all the right ways (and all the wrong ones, too) had traded her weariness and lonesome nights for pleasant and vivid dreams. She perhaps looked too eagerly to sleep after the dreams of Isabela started. If she had been another girl, just a normal girl, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered what, or
was in her dreams. But, the fascination, fueled by the straightforward things that her brother’s pirate companion spoke of, made her worry that her dreams might turn into something more worrisome than pleasant dreams, and waking with her hand between her thighs.
Her father had well-warned her of the things that could happen in a mage’s dreams. How desire, too strong, too vivid and something so
, would be like a siren’s call in the Fade. That when you felt you needed something so deeply, it was best not to sleep at all for fear the demons would come. They would offer you the thing you most desired and that Desire, was nearly the hardest to resist.
The night she heard Isabela’s quick and needy breaths in her ear, and the hand that caressed her breast no longer felt like her own, she worried that it was already over. That Desire had come and she would not be able to refuse.
Only, when she woke, she was still herself and there was still time.
It wasn’t as though Isabela herself hadn’t suggested it once or twice. Hadn’t hinted or teased or given her a look that made her shiver from head to toe.
It wasn’t so hard to get away for an evening, Garrett was out and her mother... well, her mother worried, but it wasn’t so far to walk, she said. Just meeting a friend at The Hanged Man. One of Garrett’s friends, and they weren’t all so bad. No need to worry.
Finding Isabela was even less difficult. Bethany’s eyes landed on her before the door was even fully closed behind her. And Isabela, always eager for new adventure and a wary eye forever cast towards the door due because of past adventures, saw her enter soon after. She didn’t even have a moment to catch the breath tangled in her throat before Isabela was at her side, a conspiratorial arm thrown over her shoulders and a hip bumped against hers.
“Sweetness, it’s lovely to see you, but please tell me you haven’t been wandering the big, bad streets of Kirkwall all by your lonesome.”
She nodded, because words wouldn’t come and Isabela’s breath on her cheek was sweeter and warmer than any dream could have been.
“Well, well. Come on then, I’ll buy you a drink and you can tell me-” Isabela lowered her arm to grab her wrist and she nearly shook at the touch as she was pulled to a corner table near the back stairs- “why exactly it is you’re wandering the streets alone.”
There was a mug of ale in her hands before she knew how to say no, or could think it would be better to do this sort of thing on a clear mind. And then, Isabela looked at her, brown eyes twinkling beneath long lashes and she had to take a drink anyway, just to give her a reason to turn away for a moment, to take a breath and hide the pink staining her cheeks.
The drink didn’t make her feel bolder, but Isabela did, dropping her normal flirtations for a more serious expression, one of concern and worry that made her chest ache.
“Nothing’s happened has it? Everyone is alright, Garrett, your mother?”
“Y-yes. Oh no, nothing has happened,” she managed in barely a whisper. Her tongue felt too thick in her mouth and she took another drink, and licked her lips.
“So, that’s good.” Isabela studied her and it seemed like the other woman studied her a piece at a time, hair and eyes and mouth and shoulders- and the examination was too much. Each part of her under that heavy gaze made her feel both warm and cold and she felt the tell-tale prick of gooseflesh on the back of neck.
“Alright then, you’re going to have to tell me,” she said with a broad smile. “I’m no good at guessing games after a few drinks.”
Bethany nodded again and searched for the courage to just come out with it. All the words she wanted to say seemed to pile up on her tongue and not a one of them would tip over the edge of her lips.
They seemed like such simple things to say:
I’ve had dreams. Good dreams. Dreams of you.
Instead, she could only manage a question. “D-do you know about the Fade?”
“Enough to know I don’t want to go there.”
, when we dream... that’s where our dreams are.”
Isabela nodded, “I’ve heard something like that before.” Her eyes narrowed and then she added, “Have you come to tell me about your bad dreams, sweetness?” She had lowered her voice, that same concern seeping into it, yes something playful still in her eyes, in the lift of her brow.
She shook her head. “Not exactly.”
That easy, carefree smile returned and Isabela’s hand covered one of hers. She leaned in, jewelry clinking softly. “Good ones, then? Oh, please- do tell.”
Every bit of Bethany seemed concentrated in her hand, on the places where Isabela’s rough fingertips, calloused from years of knives and ships, touched hers. It was a light touch, harmless, friendly but, when her eyes went to their hands it was a reminder of what magic felt like, like the pleasant tingling of blossoming flames in her palm.
She swallowed. “... The best,” she replied, her voice little other than light and breath.
The other woman’s smile widened and if such a thing were possible, she thought Isabela might have plucked those dreams right from her head without another word. Her dark hand pressed over Bethany’s completely, finger for finger from nail to palm and there was less than a heartbeat between them. Her own heart beat too fast, too strong and the rest of the room faded from view, the whole of her vision encompassed by dark eyes and hair and lips.
“You’ll make a girl all light-headed if you keeping looking at me like that,” she chuckled.
But, she didn’t want to stop. She smiled, her best attempt at something she had seen Isabela do hundreds of time, though admittedly, not all of those had been real. Maybe she should’ve felt a little ashamed, her, barely twenty years to her name, trying to seduce someone like Isabela.
All it took was a breath, a deep, steady inhalation of air that would never smell or taste nearly as good as it did in that moment. She leaned in, closing the distance with a tilt of her head, the fall of her hair over her shoulders and her lips were on Isabela’s. It wasn’t the chaste kiss she imagined it would be, either.
She’d had plenty of nights, plenty of dreams, to imagine exactly what that kiss would be like. What it would taste like: ocean and ale, a little sweet and a little not. It was just like that and so much more. Yet, she hadn’t known how to imagine the pressure of Isabela’s lips on hers until they were there or that Isabela would wrap her fingers around the back of her neck.
There had been nothing in those dreams to prepare her for the salt on her tongue as Isabela’s glided against hers, or how their fingers would lace together, palm to knuckles the way they’d been before she’d felt so bold.
Nothing had prepared her for how hard it would be to catch her breath when it was her own again.
Isabela chuckled, her own breath a little ragged, and it was throaty and deep. She didn’t have to imagine the weight of fingers and leather against her knee under the table, or the breath that was on her ear a moment later.
“Bethany,” the pirate whispered, lips on her ear. It seemed to reverberate in her, all the way down to her toes. “Sweetness, all you had to do was ask.”