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Joscelyn Hawke

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#1
(( Harvestmere 22, @Celeste Monroe ))

This month had been a wild ride so far. Friends becoming more than friends, smugglers on a beach, to planning a party and somehow still finding time to do what mother requested of her. For now, she was taking it a little easy from the social urgency of everything swirling around her. She was curled up on a couch in the library, reading through a book she hadn't had a chance to look at yet. It was an embellished history of Hercinia, and she found her face scrunching quite a bit while reading it. It sounded both fun and awful at the same time, and it made her glad she ended up in Kirkwall instead of there.

Still, some of the heroes mentioned sounded like they would have been a blast to know. Swashbucklers and pirates. Okay so maybe it was more than an embellished history and more like extreme historical fiction. There was even a little romance involved that made her pulse quicken in just the right way without being too explicit. She kept the more explicit books in her room after all. She looked up when she heard the door to the library open, and Bodahn peeked through the crack.

"Pardon me, messere, but someone is at the door for you." he said in his deferential way, and she gave him a nod.

She had plenty of people come to the door lately, and Bodahn could usually smell a salesman from a mile away, being one himself. If it had been an unwelcome solicitor, he wouldn't have even bothered her. So she slipped a piece of paper in her book, closed it up, and set it on the nearby table.

Standing, she smoother her shirt, and attempted to look mostly presentable in case it was someone important from the keep. As she moved to the foyer, Algernon ran past her, excited at the prospect of a guest. When she finally entered the room, she smiled at the blonde woman she saw standing there waiting.

"Celeste! It has been way too long since I've seen you. Come in, please." Algernon ran circles around the woman, as Josc waited to lead her deeper into the house. "What brings you here today? Someone in need of a little humility?"
 

Celeste Monroe

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#2
Even before she'd found out that Adelaide knew her, Josc Hawke had been the first place that Celeste's mind had gone when the girl had spoken so longingly of seeing her secret designs made real. She didn't know that many rich people; she suspected that Varric Tethras was one of them, but he kept his finances – and pretty much everything else – close to the vest. Still, it was common knowledge that Lady Hawke was friends with Varric, so if Celeste could just sell her on the idea, she might be able to convince him to invest.

And it looked like it would be worth investing in. Torgun had looked over the drawings, first with resignation similar to the expression he'd worn when she had him build the collapsing nug crate, but then with increasing interest. Untrained but promising had been his judgment … and quite doable, with a few modifications. He'd even been able to recommend a builder to start with: a dwarf named Hal Saeridin, who had a successful business building gardens and additions to mansions for Hightown bluebloods.

But they'd need more than a builder to make this real. They'd need a location and funding. And while Celeste had some extra coin to toss into the pot, the repairs that her ship required meant that it wasn't as much as it might have been otherwise.

She'd not been to the Hawke estate before now, but it wasn't hard to find. She made sure to ask the most fussily dressed women that she saw for directions, enjoying the scandalized looks as they pointed her in the right direction. As usual, she was dressed for comfort in a loose shirt, comfortable trews and well worn leather sandals, with her ever present vest and bright bandannas completing the look and contrasting oh-so sharply with the women who'd been laced into corsets and crammed their feet into fashionable shoes that squashed their toes to a point.

If the dwarf who answered the door was similarly shocked, he gave no sign, admitting her with a bow and bidding her wait while he fetched Serah Hawke. The dog arrived first, even larger than Nicolette's Thibault, and Celeste had spent enough time in Ferelden to know a mabari when she saw one. Fortunately, while he was more energetic than the minstrel's shaggy hound, he was still well mannered, keeping a distance as he bounded circles around her and sniffing at the hand she held out.

"Celeste! It has been way too long since I've seen you,” Josc greeted her with a smile as she entered, still a tiny thing, still walking like she was ten feet tall. “Come in, please." The dog left off his frolicking to go to his mistress. "What brings you here today? Someone in need of a little humility?"

“Half of Hightown, but that's nothing new,” Celeste quipped amiably, adding with a smirk.“Rumors of your pirate lover are likely spreading like wildfire right now." Colorful plus sailor equaled pirate in most peoples' eyes, and Celeste rarely bothered to correct the misconception unless she actually cared what the person in question thought. So yeah … rarely.

“Speaking of humility,” she said as the thought occurred to her, “you remember Hubert's pretty red undies? I finally found a worthy recipient for them.” Her grin was ear to ear. That particular chain of mayhem was going to be hard to top.
 
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Joscelyn Hawke

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Noble
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56
#3
Half of Hightown, but that's nothing new,” came her amused reply, and Josc chuckled.“Rumors of your pirate lover are likely spreading like wildfire right now."

Oh, well now Isabela has competition in the gossip circles. She’ll probably want to make a bigger show of her next visit once she finds out. Most of the old stuck ups are scandalized by all the company I keep, but they just love their rumors about who might be sharing my bed this week,” a smirk accompanied that, and Algernon moved back to her side, tongue lolling as he seemed to be smiling between her and Celeste.

Josc scratched behind his ears, and then patted him on the butt to get him moving on. They got into the main room, and Bodahn was in his spot, working on some paperwork it seemed. The dwarf was a great help, even though she had repeated many times that he had no debt he owed.

Speaking of humility,” Celeste said, a smile so wide she thought it made her look a bit catlike, “you remember Hubert's pretty red undies? I finally found a worthy recipient for them.

Josc snorted, and shook her head. It had been a while since that little adventure but she still remembered the weeks after Hubert’s return and how uncomfortable he had been all the time. Even just sitting on a nearby balcony as he tried to conduct business in the market had been an entertaining show.

Then you better come tell me the tale then. I need to know how that turned out,” She was laughing as she brought her into the library, and gestured to the couch she had been sitting on before Celeste arrived. “Can I get you anything to drink? I may be a scoundrel, but I won’t give anyone a reason to say I’m not a hospitable host.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#4
News of impending scandal didn’t trouble Lady Hawke in the slightest. “Oh, well now Isabela has competition in the gossip circles,” she replied with that easy laugh she had. “She’ll probably want to make a bigger show of her next visit once she finds out. Most of the old stuck ups are scandalized by all the company I keep, but they just love their rumors about who might be sharing my bed this week.”

Her mabari watched her with a doggy grin, and she scratched him behind the ears as they made their way through a fairly swank mansion.

“Maybe we’ll show up together next time and really set tongues wagging,” Celeste quipped with a wink. “Or maybe the three of us should just go out and really give them something to talk about … or are you getting comfortable in your fancy digs?” It was a friendly tease, but there was a hint of challenge beneath. It wouldn’t be the first time that moving up in the world made a hellion go respectable, but it’d be a damn shame if she went all the way

Mention of Hubert’s undies got a snort and a laugh, so maybe she wasn’t too far gone into respectability.

“Then you better come tell me the tale then. I need to know how that turned out,” she said as they stepped into a library: books lining the shelves, fire blazing on the hearth and a comfy couch arranged before it. “Can I get you anything to drink?” she offered, gesturing toward the sofa. “I may be a scoundrel, but I won’t give anyone a reason to say I’m not a hospitable host.”

“I never turn down hospitality.” Celeste dropped onto the cushions in her usual comfortable sprawl. “You know Gaddrick?” She was pretty sure that Lady Hawke had run some errands from him in the days before she’d struck it rich. “Well, his latest scheme required me to sneak bat shit out of the Chantry. Don’t ask.” She held up a hand to forestall the questions. “I just do the job and collect the pay.” And if that part of Hightown wound up somewhere in the Vimmarks, the less that could be tied to her, the better. “Anyway -” she went on to detail how she and Nicolette had snuck into the Chantry, up to the highest bell tower, then down to explore. “And there I was, in the highest tower of the Chantry, in the Grand Cleric’s bedroom with her underwear drawer open and all those boring granny panties needing a bit of color, and guess what I still had stashed in my vest?” Her grin was pure mischief. “I heard the templars grilled him for two hours. Bet he stops getting his initials embroidered into his smalls. But the real fun started when Elthina came back while we were still there.”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#5
Maybe we’ll show up together next time and really set tongues wagging,” She was graced with a wink as Celeste spoke, “Or maybe the three of us should just go out and really give them something to talk about … or are you getting comfortable in your fancy digs?

I think we’re due for some mischief making, don’t you?” Josc certainly did not care about the gossips. There were some younger members of the nobility that seemed drawn to her charisma and different perspective, so she was hoping that she was being at least a moderately positive influence among her new peers. “And it is comfortable, but it hasn’t changed me for the worse, I think. I’m just less worried about when my next meal will be, or if the roof will collapse from disrepair.

I never turn down hospitality.” Celeste said as she took a seat and made herself comfortable on the couch. Josc grabbed up a her wine glass and moved over to where the wine and other glasses were. She poured her friend a glass while she continued talking.

You know Gaddrick?” Josc gave a nod. “Well, his latest scheme required me to sneak bat shit out of the Chantry. Don’t ask. I just do the job and collect the pay.

Josc snorted, she avoided jobs in the Chantry if she could help it, but she wouldn’t have said anything against it. People made coin how they made coin. Blasphemous coin spent as well as regular. She handed Celeste her glass and sat on the other end of the couch, folding her legs underneath her. The story continued and Josc found herself giggling at the exploits of Celeste and her friend.

And there I was, in the highest tower of the Chantry, in the Grand Cleric’s bedroom with her underwear drawer open and all those boring granny panties needing a bit of color, and guess what I still had stashed in my vest?” Josc snorted, taking a drink, “I heard the templars grilled him for two hours. Bet he stops getting his initials embroidered into his smalls. But the real fun started when Elthina came back while we were still there.

Maker, when did this happen? I haven’t talked to Hubert in over a week, this has to be very recent.” Honestly, she was surprised the gossip hadn’t made it back to her, but she had been a bit busy lately. She stopped then, finally realizing what she said.

Wait! She came back while you were still there? How did you get out of there?” She couldn’t imagine if they had actually been caught that she would be sitting on her couch right now. Or maybe the old woman was as forgiving as she professed to be and let them go. Still, she was riveted. “Go on, you can’t dangle that and not tell me.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#6
“I think we’re due for some mischief making, don’t you?” Josc told her with a grin as she led the way to the library. “And it is comfortable, but it hasn’t changed me for the worse, I think. I’m just less worried about when my next meal will be, or if the roof will collapse from disrepair.”

“Fair enough,” Celeste conceded. That was something she had never had to worry about. The strongbox on the Wicked Grace had dipped low enough to be concerning at times, but there had never been a time of real want in her life. She glanced around at the luxurious surroundings and shrugged. “If it was portable, I’d take it,” she admitted with a laugh. Certainly the captain’s cabin on the Wicked Grace was well appointed.

She took the wine that Josc poured for her and obligingly unspooled the tale of her most recent caper. As she had guessed, Josc was most appreciative of the use she’d found for her business partner’s very distinctive underwear.

“Maker, when did this happen?” she wanted to know. “I haven’t talked to Hubert in over a week, this has to be very recent.”

“Last week, and the templars visited him a couple of days later,” Celeste replied after a bit of thought, then added with a smirk, “I’m betting he’s not mentioning it to too many people.”

The last part of the story suddenly sank in. “Wait! She came back while you were still there? How did you get out of there?” Celeste gave her a smug grin and said nothing. “Go on, you can’t dangle that and not tell me.”

“Well -” Celeste kicked back with her wine. “We were out on the balcony when she came back, got the doors closed just in time, and as luck would have it, she opted not to enjoy the view before turning in. We figured we’d just wait until she fell asleep, then sneak out, but then we were just waiting around for the coast to be clear.” She chuckled. “We’d found a very nice way to pass the time, but the templars decided to barge in just when things were getting really interesting. So we went down the side of the Chantry on a rope.” She wrinkled her nose. “Had to leave the silk rope and grapnel behind; that’s going to cost an arm and a leg to replace.” The corner of her mouth quirked upward. “Totally worth it, though.”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#7
Fair enough,” Celeste said, and laughed a little as she added, “If it was portable, I’d take it.

Josc smiled at that, knowing her friend preferred her ship as a home. Still, Josc had worried that this money and life would change her, so she had activity tried to not let it. Sure, she had some obligations now and again to handle, but first and foremost she spent her time making sure those around her weren't living in the same squalor she had been before she had been blessed with this gift. It had cost her many things, including family, to get here. She'd never allow that sacrifice to be forgotten.

Celeste spun the tale of her chantry adventures and her strategic use of Hubert's underpants. Josc was shocked she hadn't gotten whiff of his misfortune yet, but Celeste did offer perspective on that, “Last week, and the templars visited him a couple of days later. I’m betting he’s not mentioning it to too many people.

"If anyone that wasn't there when they visited," Josc chuckled, getting a little more comfortable in her seat and taking a sip of her drink.

Of course, there was something else in the story that had caught her attention, a cliffhanger left before her in such an enticing manner. Thankfully, Celeste obliged in filling her in on the rest of those details.

Well - We were out on the balcony when she came back, got the doors closed just in time, and as luck would have it, she opted not to enjoy the view before turning in. We figured we’d just wait until she fell asleep, then sneak out, but then we were just waiting around for the coast to be clear. We’d found a very nice way to pass the time, but the templars decided to barge in just when things were getting really interesting. So we went down the side of the Chantry on a rope.” Celeste made a face that told her that wasn't her favorite part of the night, but easily moved into her playful expression once more as she finished. “Had to leave the silk rope and grapnel behind; that’s going to cost an arm and a leg to replace. Totally worth it, though.

Josc shook her head. It had been a while since she had gotten into trouble that was both as exciting and as fun as it sounded like Celeste's adventure with Nicolette had been. "Well, here's to getting out of there safely."

She lifted her wine glass, then brought it to her lips. She shook her head a little after swallowing, "Something tells me you aren't here just to share your most recent adventures though? Unless it is, which I'm all ears for, but I feel like you could have done that any night at the Hanged Man."
 

Celeste Monroe

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#8
Josc clearly enjoyed Celeste’s account of the Chantry-top adventure and the fate of Hubert’s undies, but there was a knowing gleam in her eye as she lifted her glass in toast. "Well, here's to getting out of there safely."

“A key part of any caper,” Celeste agreed, mirroring her before taking a drink.

"Something tells me you aren't here just to share your most recent adventures though?” her hostess suggested as she sipped from her own glass. “Unless it is, which I'm all ears for, but I feel like you could have done that any night at the Hanged Man."

Celeste chuckled. “True enough,” she conceded. “It turns out we have a common acquaintance ... besides Hubert. I was asked to pay a special visit to a Hightown mansion owned by one Barrett Orland, businessman and general prick, for the purpose of making his life interesting. I showed up expecting him and his family to be out at a high society shindig.” She draped one arm across the back of the sofa carelessly. “Imagine my surprise when his daughter caught me in the kitchen.” She quirked a sly grin at the other woman. “She turned out to be quite good company, though. Told me I should give you a bye if anyone ever wanted me to prank you.”
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#9
They had their toast, and Josc felt a bit warm. She had company a lot at the house, but often it was followed by something boring or leaving.

It was nice just to sit and have a conversation without there being some impending doom -- whether that mean a monetary, political, or criminal problem -- settling on her shoulders. Though she did suspect there was another reason Celeste had come to visit her other than to tell her of her recent capers.

True enough,” Josc tucked her legs under her, and smiled when Celeste laughed. “It turns out we have a common acquaintance ... besides Hubert. I was asked to pay a special visit to a Hightown mansion owned by one Barrett Orland, businessman and general prick, for the purpose of making his life interesting. I showed up expecting him and his family to be out at a high society shindig.

Orland... Addie. Josc' eyes widened a bit and she leaned in a little closer to Celeste. Mutual acquaintance? Had she talked to Addie then or had someone else informed her of their friendship? She bit the inside of her cheek, letting Celeste continue before she let every question in her mind spill out.

Imagine my surprise when his daughter caught me in the kitchen.” Josc lifted a brow, hoping beyond hope she hadn't actually pranked Adelaide instead. Thankfully that fear was calmed as she continued, “She turned out to be quite good company, though. Told me I should give you a bye if anyone ever wanted me to prank you.

That made Josc laugh, and she relaxed just a little, "Well, if I ever get too big for my britches I hope someone does prank me."

If she truly deserved to be knocked down a peg or two, she trusted that Celeste would be the first to volunteer. She looked down at her wine, taking in a deep breath, "Was she well? It's been a little while since she's been able to get out of the house. And did she say anything else about me?"

Overeager much, Hawke? Maybe so, but Josc found that she truly enjoyed Adelaide's company. Perhaps one day she wouldn't be trapped in that house like she was now, and Josc was already itching to go break her out for an evening on the town again.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#10
Celeste drew out her tale on purpose, thoroughly enjoying Lady Hawke’s reaction to the name ‘Orland’ and the revelation that she’d encountered Addie. Was it jealousy or just anxiety in the other woman’s countenance? Fortunately for Josc, Celeste liked her too much to keep her guessing, and she chuckled when the sailor mentioned that she’d been asked not to prank her.

"Well, if I ever get too big for my britches I hope someone does prank me."

“I’ll consider that permission,” Celeste replied with a wink, raising her glass to her lips, her eyes still on Josc, who was looking a bit antsy.

"Was she well?” she wanted to know, trying for casual and not even making it to the general vicinity. “It's been a little while since she's been able to get out of the house. And did she say anything else about me?"

“Well, I was leaving by the window while someone else was coming in the bedroom door, so we didn’t have a lot of time to chitchat,” she began, then took pity and grinned at Josc, “but from the look and sound of her, she’s just as twitterpated as you are.

“She’s a good kid, and deserves far better than it sounds like she’s stuck with,” she went on, shifting on the sofa so that she could reach the scroll case she’d stashed in her vest. “Which is actually what I wanted to talk to you about.” Pulling out the case, she removed the cap and slipped the rolled sketch from within, passing it to Josc. “Your girl’s got quite a bit of hidden talent, and the desire to do some good with it.” All they needed was a location and the funding, and Celeste was betting that at least half of that was sitting across the sofa from her.
 

Joscelyn Hawke

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#11
I’ll consider that permission,” Celeste said with a wink. Josc gave a laugh, but refocused on what had her more interested than the possibility of Celeste putting itching powder in her bed: Addie.

Well, I was leaving by the window while someone else was coming in the bedroom door, so we didn’t have a lot of time to chitchat,” Josc leaned forward. She’d been a visitor in that room before, and helped Addie climb down the trellis. Celeste was drawing this out but Josc was more concerned that Celeste got out of there before being caught, “but from the look and sound of her, she’s just as twitterpated as you are.

Josc laughed again, and pressed her fingers to her forehead. She felt herself tripping through words in her mind to say to that. This whole thing was new and strange and slower than anything she had experienced before. Thankfully, Celeste filled the space so her awkward feelings didn’t just instantly spill out over the couch.

She’s a good kid, and deserves far better than it sounds like she’s stuck with,” Celeste moved to grab a cylinder from her vest. “Which is actually what I wanted to talk to you about.

I’ve been helping her sneak out some, but it’s not exactly safe for her to do,” the last thing she wanted was for Addie to get locked up in her house, with no chance of leaving. Her father was a powerful man in town, and Josc took her lead from Addie as far as her wishes were concerned.

Celeste pulled out some rolled up paper, and passed it over to her. Josc unfurled it looking at what she could only guess was architectural sketches. “Your girl’s got quite a bit of hidden talent, and the desire to do some good with it.

Her lip curled in a half smile at Addie being called her girl, but her eyes stayed on the paper. “She’s never shown me this before. It’s amazing.

Josc looked back up at Celeste finally. “Did you have something in mind? As far as helping her do something with it?
 

Celeste Monroe

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#12
Josc was trying so very hard to play it cool, but she had it bad … worse than Celeste ever would have expected from the Lady Hawke she’d met a few months back. They’d seemed very much birds of a feather then, out for little more than a good time with no strings, but the mighty had fallen, it seemed. But she couldn’t think of anyone better to introduce Addie to all the many facets of Kirkwall than Josc: Hightown, Lowtown … hopefully not Darktown just yet, but if the girl knew how to get around, she’d be that much safer. And when she did summon the nerve to fly free of her gilded cage, she’d have a place to land.

“I’ve been helping her sneak out some, but it’s not exactly safe for her to do,” Josc told her.

“No, it’s not,” Celeste agreed. Neither of them were speaking of the dangers of the streets. “Her father’s a right bastard, and her brother seems just as bad. They get a hint that she’s anything but an obedient broodmare in waiting and she’ll be behind locked doors faster than you can say ‘chastity belt’.” She quirked a smile. “She showed quite a bit of interest in lockpicking, and I promised I’d teach her what I can. Could definitely come in handy.”

Her friend couldn’t quite hide her pleasure at having Addie called hers, but that quickly melted into surprise as she surveyed the drawings that Celeste had brought.

“She’s never shown me this before. It’s amazing.”
She lifted questioning eyes to Celeste. “Did you have something in mind? As far as helping her do something with it?”

“Got some ideas,” Celeste confirmed with a nod, taking a drink of her wine and running her finger lightly around the rim. Real crystal. Nice. “She wants to create homes that people like the ones her father is gouging can afford. Simple but well built, not like the slums they’re stuck in now. My bo’sun knows a dwarf who designs and builds for the Hightown crowd: Hal Saeridin. He’s willing to do it, but we still need two things: a location and funding. I’ve got some coin, but I’m having to sink a lot of it into the Grace if I don’t want to become a permanent resident of this fair city … which I don’t.” Josc knew well enough how fucked up Kirkwall was; no point in sugarcoating it, though in all honesty, no town could compete with the lure of the open sea in Celeste’s affections.

“I’ve got some ideas on locations to check out,” she went on, “and I thought that Kirkwall’s newest noble might have some ideas on financing.” She winked at Josc. “It’s not flowers, but I’m thinking she might like this better.”
 
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