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A Moment of Repose [Closed]

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
191
#21
Barely had the sound of Thibault’s frantic howl been drowned out by the sea before Celeste was in motion. While Nicolette struggled against Brannigan’s grip – and now Piotr had a hold of her too, and while she might have squirmed free from one she could not get away from both - her captain was looping a length of rope around her waist, Dax grabbed the other end and then Celeste went over the side. Nicolette terror redoubled as a flash of what Celeste had told her went through her head – life in the winter sea is measured in minutes –

“Nico!” Kali had appeared in front of her, blocking her view of the spot where her dog and her lover had disappeared. She was pushing something at her, shaking her shoulders. “Nicolette! You want to help them, help us with the net!”

Sense finally reasserted itself, and Nicolette ran out into the wind and the rain, standing alongside Bailey. She barely even knew what she was doing but Piotr was on her other side now and she followed his movements to get the mass of netting in place, ready to scoop both of them back out of the sea.

-

Maker damn it, this was why it wasn’t a good idea to have animals on board. Isabela cursed as the mutt disappeared over the rail and the minstrel’s scream split the air. This was going to put a damper on the long awaited escape from Kirkwall, in the most literal sense. Fighting the way through the storm was second nature to her, and she would have continued onwards with muscles finally feeling the good ache of battling the wheel, only Celeste then went and pulled the more hare-brained stunt she’d ever seen her do.
And considering the kind of stuff they’d got up to over the years, that was saying a lot.

In seconds, Celeste was in the water, and Isabela was trying to steer the Wicked Grace in roughly the same direction they dog had gone over. Guiding a craft through rough weather was one thing, actively steering it around a tight point another, but Isabela hadn’t earned her reputation as Queen of the Eastern Seas without being a damned good helmsman. The volley of words that followed as she bullied the ship roughly where they needed to be could have turned the air blue, if anybody could have heard her over the waves. There was one outstanding thought in her head, though, that was a bit distracted from the urgency of the current situation.

Well, I’ll be damned.

If Nicolette had gone overboard, Isabela would have understood the response, but Nicolette’s dog? Celeste clearly had it bad if she was willing to go that far to save the minstrel from grief. This would be worth some quality teasing, assuming they actually managed to fish them both out of there.

-

The seconds ticked by and Dax bawled as the line went tight around his arms. “Drawing in! Get ready to cast the net!”

Half-blind from the water trickling in her eyes, but protected from the worst of the spray by the oilskin, Nicolette tried to copy what everybody else around her was doing, and on Kali’s signal, the net went into the water. Slowly, they began to retract it, and she held her breath and prayed to any and all gods that might happen to be listening.
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
286
#22
The ocean had been home from Celeste’s earliest memories, but she had learned from brutal experience that it was not the type of home where you could relax, let your guard down and know that you were safe no matter what. Some nights, the sea would rock you to sleep as tenderly as any mother; sometimes, it would play with you like a kitten with a toy; sometimes, it pushed you to the edge and made you work your ass off for every league.

And sometimes, it tried to kill you.

If she wasn’t actually in the water, the storm would still seem like a minor one: enough of a challenge to get the blood pumping, but with no real prospects of danger. But out here, the waves that her ship took on with relative ease towered over her, dropping her into a trough, then crashing down, the churning water trying to steal her sense of direction as the frigid temperatures stole the heat from her body, replacing it bit by bit with cold and immovable lead. Already, the icy needles and knives jabbing into her limbs were fading, replaced by a thick numbness that made it hard to tell where her arms and legs were going. She kept swimming, calling on a lifetime of experience in every kind of water imaginable; she could keep herself afloat longer than damn near anybody she knew, but inevitably, the cold would win. Dax would pull her back in, but Thibault would be left to die.

Not. Happening.


She surfaced from another pounding, expelled a lungful of held breath and sucked in another, eyes searching the lurching grey waves ahead. He was there, just feet away, and she lunged forward, kicking and paddling, her normally graceful form gone clumsy from the numbness, reaching out for him, seeing his terrified eyes roll toward her.

Her hand inches away, she felt the line jerk tight.

No thought. She twisted out of the loop, keeping one elbow hooked around it, using the leeway gained to stretch out and snag his wet pelt with her free hand, pulling him to her as the line began to haul her back toward the ship. She wrapped her legs and arms around the burly torso - at least, she thought she did. Thibault’s head was beside hers, and she honestly didn’t know if he was alive or dead, didn’t have time to wonder, because the tension in the line dragged them both under, and when they surfaced, a breaking wave took them down again, and this really, really sucked.

Then - beautiful sight! The side of the Wicked Grace looming over them, but now was when shit got really interesting. The crew had dropped one end of the cargo net down to the water, securing the other to the rail. It was simple in principle: the one in the water grabbed onto the net, and the crew would haul up the free end, lifting them up to the deck. It was definitely handy in cold water rescues, when numbed fingers couldn’t properly grasp a rope.

But it was a hell of a lot easier when waves weren’t trying to smash you into the hull.

She reached out for the netting, saw the loop slip off of her arm, but it was all right, because her fingers were curling around the knotted rope lines. A wave slammed into her, and she cried out as her shoulder twisted painfully, her tenuous grip on the net slipping -

An almighty splash in the water beside her. “I’ve got him!” Dax bellowed in her ear, shoving her again toward the net, Thibault tucked under one arm. “Haul away!” he roared as she caught hold and hung on, and in the next moment, they were rising from the frigid water into the frigid air, waves reaching up to claw at them as though angry to have lost their prize, but they kept rising, hands reaching out to pull the net up faster and faster still, until the three of them spilled over the rail and onto the deck like three very odd fish.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
191
#23
Nicolette scanned the surface of the waves, occasionally catching glimpses of Celeste’s hair amongst the foam, and what she desperately hoped was the outline of Thibault’s head. He was a strong swimmer, but he had only ever been in ponds, lakes and the occasional river. Nothing like this. Her fears were not helped as Celeste escaped the loop around her waist, clinging onto the rope with one arm, and then the captain managed to grab Thibault, she was swimming back, she was almost at the net but was struggling with the force of the waves around the hull and Nicolette loosened her grip, ready to dive in and help - Dax went past her, and seconds later his voice rose above the roar of storm.

“Haul away!”

After years of travelling, Nicolette was not delicate, but her hands were not used to bite of the harsh rope and as she pulled with all her might she felt the fibres pull away skin, the pain sharpened by the saltwater, but she did not care, not with all of them so close to safety…

And then they were over the rail, all three spreading ungainly on the planks. They barely had time to get up before Nicolette was on them, pulling Celeste and Thibault into her arms and clinging to them, as breathless as though she had been the one floundering in the water. Thibault she soothed with murmured Orlesian nonsense as her hound tried to push himself into her side, shivering; Celeste she scattered with kisses. “Thank you, thank you, thank you…”

It had been foolish of her, and so brave, and Nicolette would not think about the first part of that at all. Behind them, Dax was righting himself, and she released the other two to hug him as well, expressing her thanks with a kiss full on the mouth. He was grinning when she pulled away. “If that’s how they say thank you in Orlais, I take back every joke I made about them.”

“That’s enough making out down there!” Isabela bellowed from the helm. “We’ve got a storm to outrun!”

The crew who had not been helping with the rescue had been concentrating on the ship; now the rest of them scattered. Thibault had by now made his way towards the cabin, and Nicolette turned to Celeste. “What can I do to help?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
286
#24
Celeste’s wrenched arm flared with pain as she hit the deck, but it didn’t feel as though it was out of joint, which was good news; she’d done that a couple of times, and getting it popped back in hurt like hell. A moment later, she was caught up in a crushing embrace along with Thibault, Nicolette’s breath blissfully warm against her face as the minstrel showered her with kisses, tears and thanks while reassuring her hound in Orlesian. Celeste cracked her eyes open, assuring herself that Thibault was indeed all right, that she hadn’t risked her ass for a dead dog (because Isabela was beyond any doubt going to give her no end of shit for doing it for a live one as it was). She couldn’t say, even now, just why she had done it, but the quivering emotion in the minstrel’s voice sparked a warmth in her chest that currently felt like the only heat left in her body.

She pushed herself to her feet as Nico moved to bestow a kiss of thanks upon Dax, well aware that she couldn’t surrender to the urge to just close her eyes and sleep. She had to move, get her blood flowing again, get the feeling back into arms and legs that felt like chunks of wood, but fuck, she was tired -

“That’s enough making out down there!” Isabela’s shout carried easily over the sound of wind and waves. “We’ve got a storm to outrun!”

“What can I do to help?”
Nicolette asked the question of Celeste, but it was Torgun who answered.

“Get the both of them below, and you with them,” he growled, rain dripping from bushy brows as he glowered at Celeste. “Dog’s got no place on deck in a storm.”

Celeste accepted the rebuke, because he was right, and it had been her responsibility to realize that. She’d put ship and crew in danger; even in a minor storm, routine maneuverings carried greater risk. “I’m fine -”

“You’re hypothermic, and you’ve hurt that shoulder again.” Brannigan, adding his authority to that of the bo’sun.

“It’s not out,” she countered defensively, rolling her left arm and wincing at the fresh lance of pain. She already knew she was going to lose this argument.

“Thank the Maker for small favors.” Brannigan supported her on the short walk to the cabin; her numb legs weren’t much good at matching the ship’s roll. Thibault seemed to be managing well enough, though judging from the slowness of his movement, he was as exhausted as she felt. He lumbered through the door as soon as it was open, flopping down in his usual corner with a groan as Brannigan guided Celeste to the bed and gave her a quick and practiced once over.

“Get her out of these wet clothes,” he instructed Nicolette, striding to the drawers built into the side of the cabin, unlatching and opening one, and drawing out an armful of rough towels. “Rub her all over with these, no matter how much she complains, especially her arms and legs.”

“I’m right here,” she grumbled; the look the blue eyes turned on her was penetrating.

“You very nearly weren’t, my dear,” he told her, regarding her thoughtfully for a moment longer before passing the towels to Nicolette along with a small clay jar. “Rub that ointment into her left shoulder, and all three of you get some rest. I’ll have Stubby prepare something hot as soon as the weather is clear enough.”

He left, and Celeste slumped back onto the bed, frustrated by the heavy-limbed weariness that was dragging her down, but too sodding tired to fight it.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
191
#25
In the moment, Nicolette was prepared to do whatever she could to assist the other members of the crew, but she experienced a great sense of relief as Torgun sent her, Celeste and Thibault back below decks. She slid one arm around Celeste’s waist, and kept the other on Thibault, helping Brannigan guide them to the cabin while her mind continued on, somewhat disconnected from her body.

She had almost lost them both, in the space of minutes.

Having things to do would help her avoid reflecting too much on the horror of that thought, and Brannigan provided her with orders. She supported Celeste to the bed, nodding as Brannigan explained what she needed to do, but her heart still lurched again when Celeste complained about him speaking as though she were not there.

“You very nearly weren’t, my dear.”

Nicolette could not help her grip tightening on Celeste a little at that. Thibault had by now flopped in his corner and with some effort she released her captain to drag a spare blanket from her possessions and drag it over her shivering hound, before accepting the towels and jar from Brannigan. “Rub that ointment into her left shoulder, and all three of you get some rest. I’ll have Stubby prepare something hot as soon as the weather is clear enough.”

He stepped back out into the storm, sending another harsh gust of wind through the cabin, and then the door closed behind him. It was not silent; the timbers of the Wicked Grace creaked and groaned in the wind, and she could hear the crew shouting outside over the weather. But the noise had abated a little, as had the echoes of fear in her head. She had a job to do.

The oilskin was abandoned on the floor and she knelt by the bed, pulling Celeste’s boots off, before climbing onto the mattress and starting to help her out of her shirt. She was quick, but gentle, her hands still trembling slightly. Cold seemed to emanate from Celeste’s skin and the fact that she was exposing her to the air felt wrong, but Nicolette did not question her orders. Peeling away Celeste’s shirt, she talked.

“I think that may have been the most singularly foolish thing I have ever seen somebody do.” There was no chastisement in her tone; just soft affection. “And I do not think I will ever be able to thank you enough for it.” Celeste’s wet breeches put up a fight, clinging to her, but eventually Nicolette managed to get rid of them. Picking up one of the towels, she began to rub it briskly over Celeste, starting with her legs. “He is the very best friend I have in this world, you know.” The towels were rough; Nicolette pressed kisses against the reddening skin. “To lose him in such a manner would have been more than I could bear. And to lose you at the same time…”

She was a storyteller, and she was lost for words. She let her sentence trail away into nothing, focusing on trying to rub warmth back into Celeste’s limbs. After a few moments, a vague fragment of a tale drifted into her memory. “Is it true that sharing body warmth can help people with hypothermia recover at a safe rate?”

If so she would strip down immediately and wrap herself around Celeste until the other woman stopped shivering. To be honest she wanted to do that whether it was helpful or not, but neither did she want to stint on Celeste’s care.
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
286
#26
As soon as the door closed behind Brannigan, Nicolette set to work, slipping out of the oilskin cloak and tugging Celeste’s sodden clothes from her body. The sailor tried to assist, but her limbs still felt leaden and too thick, the brush of the minstrel’s fingers against her skin only barely palpable.

“I think that may have been the most singularly foolish thing I have ever seen somebody do.” There was no real heat to the admonishment and a faint tremor in the other woman’s voice as she added, “And I do not think I will ever be able to thank you enough for it.”

“Was my fault he was up there,” Celeste managed. Talking was an effort, and exhaustion was tugging her eyelids downward, but even knowing that she was safe, she resisted the pull. Obstinacy was a long ingrained habit with her, and besides that, she knew what was coming next; this was far from her first immersion in a winter ocean. “Should have sent him below as soon as I spotted the storm.” She’d grown accustomed to his unobtrusive presence in port, and had been far too focused on his mistress when she should have been paying attention to her ship. “Sorry.” It was a slip that had come perilously close to disaster. If Nicolette had gone in after him, there would have been no way to save them both.

“He is the very best friend I have in this world, you know,” Nico told her, taking up the towels and beginning to scrub at Celeste’s legs. “To lose him in such a manner would have been more than I could bear. And to lose you at the same time…”

The tears were close now, the minstrel’s voice choked with emotion, and she bent to kiss the skin along the sailor's hip and thigh. Celeste wanted to say something to reassure her, but the ministrations were having their intended effect, the rubbing coaxing the blood back into the sailor’s limbs, bringing sensation along for the ride. Pinpricks at first, dancing along her skin in the wake of the rough cloth, but quickly intensifying to stiletto blades jabbing into her muscles, and she sucked in a breath between clenched teeth. Her body, finally warmed up enough to realize just how cold it was and responded with violent shivers. She squeezed her eyes shut, let the tremors roll through her and growling out oaths in Qunlat; nothing to be done but ride it out. It would pass, and she’d warm up eventually, but she was going to be fucking miserable until that point, and that was all there was to it.

“Is it true that sharing body warmth can help people with hypothermia recover at a safe rate?”

The question surprised her enough to bring her eyes open, and she managed a weak laugh that turned into a cough; her throat was still more than a little raw from the seawater she’d swallowed. “It does,” she confirmed, “and since Stubby won’t be able to fire up the stove to heat water any time soon, it’s about the only way to speed it up. Won’t be much fun for you, though,” she warned her lover. “About like snugging up to a fish.” A shivering fish. She’d read a bodice-ripper or two that made it sound sexy as hell, proving that the author had no idea what they were talking about. She’d given Varric no end of shit over that.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
191
#27
Each flinch of pain on Celeste’s face hit Nicolette with a jolt. She knew that the cramps would be inevitable as blood started pulsing its way faster through again, but it was hard to fight the urge to pull back and be a little more gentle. Her captain cursed, a few rogue words in a language Nicolette vaguely recognised as Qunlat. She had never come close to mastering the tongue and in other circumstances she would have been badgering Celeste for details as to how she had learned those particular words, but right now she was watching her closely as the first of the violent tremors started to roll through the other woman. Nicolette racked her brains for anything that might help Celeste, but her knowledge on dealing with the cold came from some slightly…specialised books, which might have been exaggerating for dramatic effect.

Still, it was worth an ask, and it did earn a laugh, although Celeste’s voice was ragged as she confirmed that body heat could work to safely bring core temperature up. “And since Stubby won’t be able to fire up the stove to heat water any time soon, it’s about the only way to speed it up. Won’t be much fun for you, though. About like snugging up to a fish.”

“At least you do not have scales.” The quip was not one of her strongest ones, but the surge of relief over Celeste talking with little difficulty left her not much space for wit. Celeste would be fine, that was clear; once she was warmed up.

The oilskin Celeste had lent her had prevented Nicolette from becoming soaked through as well, and that was a mercy. Between that and the labours with the net she was still quite warm, and now she rid herself of her clothes without any of the usual playfulness – although some of the urgency – that accompanied the action usually. Once done she sat in front of Celeste and drew her close, wrapping arms and legs around her and drawing the blanket around them both.

Skies, but she was freezing!

The other woman’s skin was cold and clammy, and she was still shivering. Nicolette moved her hands in brisk circles over Celeste’s back for a few moments, still trying to find some way to be useful, but eventually they coursed up to hold the other woman’s face for a moment, gazing into her eyes. She would never find the words to thank Celeste enough for what she had done; all she could do was kiss her slowly, trying to pour all of what she felt into it.

When she broke away, she laughed softly - while that moment had been tender, this was assuredly one of the least erotic embraces she had ever been in. “I t-think the romance books have a lot to answer for. If they were correct by this point in proceedings you would be ‘burning like a forge.’”
But she did seem like she was starting to warm up, at least. The shivers, gradually, were subsiding.
 

Celeste Monroe

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DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
286
#28
Celeste wasn’t about to refuse Nicolette’s offer to help her warm up, but she did feel obligated to warn her that it was going to be a chilly business.

“At least you do not have scales,” the minstrel responded, shucking out of her clothes, crawling beneath the blanket and wrapping herself around Celeste without hesitation.

Maker, but she was warm! To the sailor’s chilled skin, it felt glorious, and she couldn’t keep from snuggling close and closer still, even knowing that every bit of warmth that seeped into her own body was being drawn out of her lover’s. Nicolette didn’t flinch away, holding her tightly and rubbing her back as the violent shivering began to do its work, generating heat inside her body. Bit by bit, the miserable feeling of cold abated to a more tolerable chill, and when Nicolette framed her face in gentle hands, regarding her with those glorious eyes for a long moment before drawing her into a slow and tender kiss, it was almost enough to make her forget about being cold.

But only almost, damn it.

“I t-think the romance books have a lot to answer for,” Nico remarked with a little shiver and a laugh as she drew back a bit. “If they were correct by this point in proceedings you would be ‘burning like a forge.’”

Celeste chuckled. “They do tend to skip a few stages,” she agreed, letting her hands drift over the soft skin, “but keep kissing me like that, and I’ll get there.” But as the shivering eased up, weariness was beginning to exert itself, and the storm outside had eased up, the rocking of the ship settling into a tempo that further lulled her senses. “Rain check?” she murmured sleepily, snuggling back in and nuzzling her face into the crook of her lover’s neck, utterly exhausted but just as utterly content for the moment to simply be held as she drifted toward slumber.
 
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