There was something not quite right about the window. Hawke was leaning back, the front legs of her chair balanced off the floor as she looked up at the stars through high-set window in one of the Hanged Man's back rooms.
While waiting she and Varric had played Knights Cross over two large jugs of wine, now he'd gone to check for the hold up leaving Hawke alone with the pleasant warmth of alcohol and a brain alighting on everything her eyes set on.
It was crooked she decided, the frame leaning just slightly to the left; or was it the right? Hard to tell from this angle, so she leaned forward and was jarred to find her chair feet suddenly falling through empty air and landing with a thunk. Still intent on the window she turned too quickly with reflexes made for battles not drunken stargazing, dizzy she grabbed at the seatback for balance, and succeeded instead in pulling it sideways on top of herself.
"Hello floor, nice to see you again" Hawke burst into giggles.
Sprawled as she was, she looked across to the doorway and noticed the floor was crooked too! Probably just the age of the building since who knows how long the Hanged Man had been around before Croff started looking after it.
Somehow this was even more hilarious, something about the fact that she was laying on a crooked floor, under a crooked window, in a room frequented by crooked people.
It was at this point that Varric returned to find her; speaking even before he finished pushing aside the tapestry hung in lieu of a door, his other hand running fingers through coppery hair in mild exasperation.
"I finally found them, there was some misunderstanding about where to--- Hawke? Alright what did the chair do this time." Slightly bemused the Dwarf raised an eyebrow while freeing Hawke from the toppled furniture.
Hawke blew dark choppy bangs out of her eyes and grinned tilting her head back to look up at Varric upside down.
"Oh, the usual, didn't want to dance with me and the stars."
"I'll dance with you sweetness," Isabela's melodic voice drifted in with an audible smile a moment before she swaggered into view, hand on hip she smirked down at Hawke. "I could even teach you the right way to dance with that chair." she added with a wink, extending her hand to help her prone friend up.
"Hmm, maybe when I don't have equal chances of dancing with the floor." Hawke grasped hold and pulled herself up to lean on Isabela's shoulder, while Varric slumped into a center seat swinging his feet up onto the table.
"Should I ask how you discovered the fine art of chair dancing Rivaini?"
"Why would a chair be dancing?" chimed a lilting voice from the doorway; Merrill stood with her arms loosely hugging her frame looking perplexed, suddenly her eyes widened. "Oh, wait! Is this another dirty thing?"
"Yes kitten. I could teach you too if you like" Isabela purred, watching with great interest as Merrill's whole face flushed. Hawke shook her head smiling, letting go of Isabela she nudged the pirate playfully with her hip before maneuvering around the table with a surprising amount of grace, selecting a chair next to Varric.
"I brought drinks! What have I missed?" Anders strolled in holding a large tray with stacked mugs and 5 ale pitchers, Aveline followed frowning at his back. Hawke flashed them both a smile, and Merrill opened her mouth to offer a greeting before Aveline spoke, evidently annoyed.
"Anders, I purchased the drinks, and I'd thank you not to take credit for--"
"Brought, I only said I brought them; relax. Besides," he beamed at her "I did get that extra pitcher on the house, because I helped Corff with--Ah, never mind, but for once being a healer was worth something material."
"Fine. Right." Smoothing her blouse self consciously Aveline said much more quietly "sorry then." before she turned quickly and walked stiffly to the seat at the head of the table. Isabela lounging in the chair next to her raised an eyebrow, not hiding the way she was appraising Aveline's uncharacteristically casual attire.
"No armor? Aveline! I can almost see that you have a waist!" Isabela snickered.
"Shut your trap strumpet. I do own clothes for leisurely situations. Unlike yours, they cover my ass."
Varric coughed to cover a laugh, and gestured to the table. "Plenty of space left Blondie. Hawke and I were early, but the party just started. What do you say, a quick game of Serpents while we wait?"
Passing a jug to Hawke, and another to an eager Isabela, the mage set his burden in the center of the table and settled his feathered cloak on the back of a chair opposite Varric.
"And lose more money before the night kicks off?" Anders grinned good naturedly as Varric began dealing, watching Hawke tap to be dealt in "I guess I'm just doomed to be poor."
"You never know Mage, this time you could actually win something" the gravely commentary brimmed with amusement, and Fenris padded into view from the shadows wearing considerably less spikes than average, he cast a smirk in Anders direction as he made his way from the door to sit beside Hawke. Who in turn flushed slightly and flashed him a shy grin before rising to reach across the table for a glass. Despite the fact that their relationship had never actually been a secret amongst their friends, it was still new for him to openly seek being near. Hawke liked it, and felt herself melt just a bit anytime she could feel Fenris' gaze travel over her.
"Saved you some wine, I know you like it better than the swill." Pressing the cup into his hands she let her fingers linger longer than needed, savouring his slightly surprised expression before turning slowly back to her cards.
Even after all these years Fenris was still not used to being thought of, Hawke continued to do small things that soothed wounds and offered him pieces of himself that he had hitherto not realized were missing, love and dignity.
Approaching music drew everyones attention as Sebastian ducked around the tapestry bowing at a fiddle with a lute strapped to his back, and surprisingly bereft of shiny armor. Smiling at the assembled awed faces he turned a circle crossing one foot over the other in time to his tune, finishing the twist by striking a small drum at his hip he lowered the bow and bowed toward Hawke.
"As a brother of the chantry I don't intend to drink, but I supposed that you might not mind if I practiced a different sort of merry making."
"That's what I'm talking about!" whooped Isabela "Good music is like alcohol, it makes everything more fun." raising her glass in salute.
"What do you know, choir boy has a mean bow of a whole other sort." Varric smirked.
"And here I was enjoying the joyful sounds of drunks yelling, fiddlesticks." Hawke grinned leaning back and shaking her head "Of course Sebastian, thank you."
"That was beautiful" Merrill remarked softly "D'you suppose I could play too? The Dalish used to make music together in the evenings. I tried to get Elves at the Alienage to sing with me one night, but they seem to prefer throwing bottles. I suppose glass does make a lovely tinkling sound, but not quite as nice as real instruments, and I'm rambling again. Sorry, I'll shut up now." she cast her eyes down folding her hands together on the table.
"Oh, Daisy. Maybe city Elves just aren't as musically inclined?" Varric leaned over and patted her hands consolingly.
Sebastian had disentangled the lute from his back and strode over to stand between Merrill and Aveline, holding out the instrument in offer.
"Starkhaven has a great tradition of shared music. I do not know what manner of songs the Dalish Elves played, but if you can strum a tune, I can improvise."
Merrill looked up to find his smile was not unkind, and then reverently ran her fingers along the lute strings before gently lifting the instrument toward herself; she tested a few strings before beginning to pluck out a cheerful melody.
Listening for a few beats Sebastian took up his fiddle again, meeting her rhythm and tapping his foot in time.
"So, we came here to play cards, right?" Anders clapped his hands and rubbed them together. "Who's up for Wicked Grace?"
"Nuh-uh Blondie, you're not getting out of at least one hand of Serpents. I already dealt the cards." Varric gathered Merrill's cards, and laid out his opening bet to start the pot. The night progressed smoothly, with Anders surprising everyone by winning spectacularly at Serpents, and then losing almost everything he'd won to Aveline in the first game of Wicked Grace. After the first hour Sebastian rested his fingers while sitting and chatting with Fenris and Varric. Merrill remained absorbed in strumming, only occasionally adding to conversation; despite keeping to his own flagon of water the whole evening, Sebastian took to nudging her every so often to direct her attention to her otherwise forgotten mug of ale. While talking to Isabela, Hawke had taken off her boots to compare sole-size and never bothered putting them back on.
Fenris managed to mop-the-floor with everyone but Varric in the second game. Anders grumbled about the ale going too quickly, but was mollified when Hawke threw a small coin purse at his head, and missed, with instructions to fetch another round of jugs. Returning to a great round of cheers.
The third game began as the others but took a different turn after Isabela won a hand with an ace of dragons. It was Aveline's shuffle, and as she gathered the cards she clumsily fumbled the first few; her attention snapped down, then upwards very pointedly at Isabela, as she held up a second ace of dragons.
"You were cheating." The redhead thinned her lips as if daring Isabela to challenge her claim. The pirate in turn shrugged one shoulder nonchalantly, and tossed her hand onto the table as she got up stretching.
"Well, you caught me. How about some dancing! Merrill?"
Merrill looked up in time to see Aveline sigh and visibly deflate; there was no stopping Isabela, and no point in starting a fight on game night. Besides which, alcohol always made Aveline tired, and with this many drinks she was about ready for bed.
"Andraste's pearly teeth, I'm turning into my mother." she muttered to herself.
Isabela, already set on her new plan, sauntered around behind, and therefore just out of reach of Aveline, and stopped in front of Merrill turning both hands palm up.
"What say you let me give that lovely lute a spin? I think she deserves to dance while she sings. And you do too kitten."
"Oh! You can play?" Merrill suddenly perked up excitedly.
"Of course I can. A pirate has to know a thing or two about music. Who else is going to write all those ballads to the sea? And," She added, waggling her fingers slightly "I'm a woman of many talents, especially when it comes to my hands."
At this point Merrill seemed to stare into space for a moment, cupped a hand to her own cheek and took a breath in.
"I forgot!" she set the lute in Isabela's awaiting grasp and reached into a side pouch on her belt drawing out a small flute. "This is a gift keeper Marethari gave to me on my name day years ago. I can play with you!"
Though she nodded at Merrill's comments, as soon as the lute was in her hands Isabela was in motion, stepping back lithely, then spinning and swaying her hips in time with music spilling forth from her fluttering fingers. Even nail-taping between note sets she still set such a dizzying pace, such that it was almost as if there were two lutes. Merrill stood up looking thrilled, and began adding a high chorus of notes to complement and fill out the tune, lightly stepping in a graceful sway along to her own chords. At this cue Sebastian rose, viol in hand, and set into a vigorous tempo that at once complimented and competed in intensity with Isabela's, stepping out in a dance of his own.
Anders watching the scene unfold, started clapping in time to the beat, turning an unabashed grin to Varric and asked.
"How much you want to bet that Hawke starts dancing next?"
Shaking his head in amusement the Dwarf replied with the relaxed tone of one who knows exactly how the next set of events will play out.
"Too easy Blondie, of course she wants to dance."
"Yes! Dancing is exactly what I want to do!" shouted Hawke gleefully, rising to her feet in a slightly unsteady manner she managed to balanced herself in mere moments. Fenris gave her a wary look while reaching out to offer his hand, but she brushed it aside and agilely vaulted onto the table.
"See?" said Varric "A better wager, how much you want to bet that Fenris has to drag her off of there?" Varric reached to his side-pocket and set a sturdy looking sand-timer on the table. "10 if it's less than 10."
Merrill paused her playing to cheer as Hawke started turning slow circles, sinuously rolling her hips while keeping rhythm with her hands.
Fenris seemed utterly mesmerized by Hawke, as though the whole rest of the world had dimmed and she alone was illuminated in his view. Anders took in the Elf's slightly wide eyed expression.
"Alright I'm in, 15."
Hake had also noticed his rather doe eyed gaze and was reveling in it. Running her hands up the tops of her thighs and along the length of her body, Hawke smiled over at Fenris and started to unclasp the top of her shirt.
A raucous cheer went up from the larger portion of her assembled friends, Fenris all but openly gaped, and feeling encouraged Hawke undid a few more clasps before shimmying the shoulders off to let it slip and pool at her feet.
Just now cluing in as to the happenings taking place on the table, Sebastian began to say something, but was drowned out by the whoops and hollering of the others at the table, and reduced to murmuring a prayer. Though Hawke noted slyly that he didn't look down, instead casting his eyes somewhere to her left so she'd still be in his peripherial vision.
Scanning her friends as she continued to turn she saw Aveline had laid her head down on the table as if the entire world had become too much. Varric raised his glass to her winking, keeping one eye on a timer. Much to Hawke's amusement, Fenris looked like he couldn't decide between pulling her down and kissing her right here, or yelling at everyone for encouraging this.
At some point Anders had taken off his sash and was now spinning it above his head. She hadn't previously thought a flute harmony could be encouraging, but Merrill was doing her damnedest to make it so, whilest dancing a small jig. Isabela seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the show, and was bobbing along to her own stringwork at the same time as eyeing Hawke up and down.
"You still owe me those pants!" Isabela yelled laughing.
Grinning, and before anyone could think to stop her, Hawke had undone her leggings and with the dexterity of a cat slipped lose of them all while still turning in some semblance of a dance. Although, once she'd gotten them off all but one foot she unceremoniously kicked her shed clothing over toward Isabela, while blowing said pirate a kiss.
At this point with Hawke in nothing but her small clothes, and enough alcohol in her system to make further 'exuberant' choices plausible, Fenris opted to intervene.
"Hawke, we should depart. Now." She smiled watching him move around the table to where he could reach her.
Anders called across the table "Boo! The fun was just getting started" and was merely amused by the death glare Fenris sent back his way.
"Oooohkaaayy Darling, if you say so." Hawke smirked to herself watching her partners ears flush at the endearment, she loved how very easy he was to tease. Crouching she leaned against his shoulder allowing him to catch her under the knees with ease and scoop her up.
As Fenris began walking toward the door a ball of fabric thumped against his shoulder, tumbling over and onto Hawke's lap. Her clothes. Isabela's laughter told him who had thrown them.
"We are borrowing your room Varric. Hawke needs rest." he stated it matter of factly, but this seemed to draw a mirthful chuckle from the Dwarf.
"Just, leave me somewhere to crawl back to, okay?"
Hawke took stock of the scene over Fenris' shoulder as they left. Aveline had somehow fallen peacefully asleep despite all the cacophony and commotion around her. Merrill was talking misty eyed to Isabela about how this was the most fun she's had since she came to Kirkwall, and Sebastian was watching the two women while gathering his instruments and shaking his head. Varric was tapping at the timer while wearing a very smug expression, and Anders was rolling his eyes.
She curled herself a bit closer to Fenris as he carried her through the now quiet Hanged Man, indicating that it was well into the wee hours of the morning. Their group must have spent quite a bit of the night chatting she concluded.
Approaching the familiar space of Varric's rooms Hawke stifled a yawn, feeling lulled listening to the steady heartbeat of her lover, her limbs grew heavy and she could sense herself begin to drift off before they even got to the bed; she decided tomorrow she would have to spend time more properly with Fenris, and just Fenris. Reaching up to stroke his face she felt him smile against her fingers and knew he'd be content with that.
For tonight there'd already been enough drunken shenanigans.