“...So anyway, Varric, if you hear anything about that relic, let me know. Hawke said she’d help, but who knows when that’ll happen, since she’s trying to scrounge up for that expedition of yours. Having your eyes out there will be a huge help.”
“You’ll be the first to know, Rivaini.”
Isabela beamed. “See? This is why you’re my favorite dwarf.”
“And that’s out of how many dwarves you know, exactly?”
“There are a few,” she shrugged. “But you’re my favorite, doesn’t that count for something? Anyway, there’s a game waiting for me downstairs, I really should get back to it.”
“Good luck, Rivaini.”
“Who needs luck?” she grinned wickedly and turned on her heel, nearly colliding with Carver where he hovered just outside Varric’s door. Isabela made a show of eyeing Carver head to toe and back again, grinning all the while before making her way downstairs.
“Anything I can I do for you, Junior?”
“What?” he jumped slightly, distracted. “No, I was just wondering if you’d seen Corin. I checked with the mage and he thought she was heading here.”
“Can’t say I have. But it seems like you found something more interesting, by the looks of it.”
He hated himself for it, but Carver could feel himself flush at the implication.
Varric pushed away the papers he’d been working on before Isabela interrupted him. “I might be able to give some advice, if you’re willing to listen?”
“Somehow I don’t think that professional younger brother nonsense of yours applies here, dwarf.” In spite of himself, though, he took a seat across from Varric’s and took the cup offered to him.
“Bah, we’ve got more in common than just that.” Carver wasn’t so blind as to not notice the way Varric glanced briefly at his crossbow across the room. “I was just going to say, having a bit of fun is fine. But sometimes… it’s best to let it stay at that.”
“I can handle myself, Varric.”
“And Isabela can handle herself, and she can handle you. Probably better than you can handle yourself. If you pursue this I don’t want to have to explain to your sister why I let you get your heart broken.”
“I’m not a child, dwarf.”
“A fact I’m sure Isabela will be quite appreciative of, if you manage to pull off your little conquest.” Pouring himself a refill, he offered to top off Carver but was declined. “All of that is beside the point, though. I know you and Corin get along better than you pretend sometimes, and I can make a fair guess at how she’s going to react if you get hurt. Kirkwall isn’t a hayloft in the Fereldan countryside, and Isabela isn’t some milkmaid named Peaches. There’s a lot more going on there than you’re used to, and so long as you’re aware of that and ready to accept it? I’ll drink to you having better luck tonight than those poor sods she’s tricked into playing cards with her.”
“I wasn’t asking for approval either, dwarf,” Carver snapped, and Varric shook his head in resignation.
“It wasn’t intended to be granting approval or anything like that, and you know it. I’m just saying, I’ve grown fond of both of you idiot Hawkes, even you, as surly as you like to be. I don’t want you getting hurt anymore than I want to have to avoid Corin hurting me for letting you hurt yourself.”
Finishing his drink, Carver pushed his chair back and stood to leave. “Yeah, well… I don’t know, thanks or whatever. For the drink. And the advice, I guess. Not that I think it’s really necessary but… for the thought, and all.