When a flash of red catches his eye, Varric glances up from his cards to see Aveline enter The Hanged Man. It takes her only a second to spot them at their usual table and she picks her way through the room, pausing to glare down at some suspicious, sticky red stains that attempt to adhere her boot to the floor.
“Scoot over, Rivaini.” Varric nudges Isabela toward the empty chair on her right.
“Oh, but you know how much I like this position.” She nuzzles against him, sliding her fingers into his chest hair and giving a sharp tug.
He swats her hand away with a roll of his eyes. “You like any position. Now move. At least Aveline doesn’t cheat at Diamondback.”
“Oh, that’s rich, coming from you!” She pinches him with a hearty laugh, but slides over next to Sebastian. The archer steels his jaw and stares straight ahead, ignoring the way Isabela tips herself in his direction, threatening the spill of her breasts from her tunic.
Aveline holds up a hand, a scowl etched deep between her brows.
“I think lady man-hands has something to say.” Isabela forgets Sebastian for a moment and he blows out a breath of relief as she turns her focus to Aveline. “What’s the matter, big-girl? Don’t tell me things with Donnic are already boring?”
“I’m looking for Hawke.”
Varric leans back in his chair, resisting the urge to look over his shoulder up the stairs. “Well, she’s not here.”
“I can see that, Varric. Do you know where she is?”
“Oh!” Merrill bounces in her seat. “I can help! She’s—”
“—upstairs! She and Anders had something to do. And then Fenris followed a minute later. Maybe they needed his fisting thing!”
Isabela snorts, Sebastian coughs on his ale, and Varric drops his head into his hand with a groan. Merrill just smiles, pleased to have been able to assist their friend. Aveline looks between them, face scrunched in confusion but then she sighs and heads for the stairs.
“Aveline, I wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” Sebastian calls after her, but she gives a wave of dismissal over her shoulder and continues.
Two minutes later, she rushes back down the stairs, eyes wide. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she hisses.
“Tell you what?” Merrill asks.
“In all fairness, I did try to warn you,” Sebastian reminds her, withering under her glare.
Aveline squeezes her eyes closed and groans. “Maker! How am I supposed to look at her?”
“Why?” Merrill straightens, a look of alarm crossing her face. “Is Hawke alright? Does she need our help?”
“No! Believe me, Hawke does not need any further assistance.”
Isabela gives a dramatic sigh. “People like you have no imagination.”
“Prudes.” A dreamy smile spreads over Isabela’s face. “I can think of plenty we could help with. Just think—”
With a shudder, Aveline cuts Isabela off. “When she’s…done, tell her to come by the barracks.” She marches back toward the door, her face still red enough to match her hair.
“Do say hi to Donnic for me, big-girl!” Isabela calls after her as she heads to the door. “And I’d be happy to lend a hand, if your imagination kicks in!”