• Hello Guest, the Post-Trespasser timeline is open to all characters now. If you want to play your DA:O/DA2 timeline characters in the Post-Trespasser timeline, please check out the thread below. It will give you all the information you need to get up and running in no time:

    Getting your DA:O/DA2 Character ready for Post-Trespasser!

Pirates Are a Pain in the...[Closed]

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
227
#21
Her mouth was tacky. Nicolette could feel rivulets of sweat cutting through grime and who knew what else caking her skin, but the scalding pain had receded so fast that now she felt almost a little cold. She was also suddenly afraid to move, in case doing so brought that sharp spike back. At least the room had settled a little, and she could breathe without it hurting her. Celeste pressed her hand to her cheek and Nicolette savoured the warmth the contact brought.

She had never done anything like that before, but she had a sudden realisation that she would, without hesitation, do it again, to keep her captain safe.

Brannigan was asking for advice; the woman that Nicolette didn’t recognise looked her over dispassionately. “Rest, for at least the next three days. While the wound is gone, her body will remember the trauma. Warm food and drink, where possible. It’s best if somebody stays close while she sleeps - exposure to that amount of magic was necessary considering how close she was, but it may leave her with odd dreams.” The healer’s gaze shifted to Celeste; Nicolette thought she caught the glimmer of a smile. “I imagine she won’t be short of company.”

Celeste moved away. “I paid Clancy ten, in case he tells you any different. These are for you alone. Thank you.”

Gingerly, Nicolette experimented with sitting up. It might have been her imagination, but she thought she could still feel magic tickling along beneath her skin; it made lying still an impossibility, and when she experienced nothing worse than the slight aching muscle that would accompany over-exertion, she swung her legs over the side of the table.

The ship remained steady - enough so that it was clear they weren’t at sea. They’d docked somewhere rather than meeting another ship which happened to have a magic healer on board, but Nicolette had studied the maps with Celeste and knew most ports around here were ones that regular seafarers preferred to avoid.

Not that Celeste was a regular seafarer, by any stretch of the imagination.

Nicolette wiped away a little of the sweat with her forearm, conjuring up a small smile for Celeste. “I think I may change how I run interference, if I see somebody pointing a crossbow at you again.” A lie - she would do exactly the same. The thought of Celeste being in the condition she had been in for the last few hours was not one she enjoyed entertaining. “Where are we?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
338
#22
Celeste remained close to Nicolette as the healer gave instructions to Brannigan. “Rest, for at least the next three days. While the wound is gone, her body will remember the trauma. Warm food and drink, where possible. It’s best if somebody stays close while she sleeps - exposure to that amount of magic was necessary considering how close she was, but it may leave her with odd dreams.” How close had it been? Celeste wasn’t sure she wanted to know. Now the bright eyes were on her, a knowing smile touching the weathered features. “I imagine she won’t be short of company.”

Celeste acknowledged the truth of the words with a faint nod, keeping her expression impassive. It wasn’t a good idea to advertise weakness when you were surrounded by cutthroats, but as she’d all but shouted it to the rooftops already by accepting Clancy’s price without argument, damned if she wasn’t going to give the one who’d actually done the healing some extra coin. The woman accepted the sovereigns, showing neither surprise nor gratitude; as she left, Celeste turned to find Nico pushing herself upright, unsteady but, judging from the wonder on her face, free of pain.

“I think I may change how I run interference, if I see somebody pointing a crossbow at you again,” she said with a shaky smile, daubing the sweat from her forehead with one arm.

“You’d better.” The words came out more gruffly than Celeste had intended, and she tried to soften them with a kiss pressed to the minstrel’s forehead. Not since Gideon had nearly been killed had someone been wounded because of her, and with the initial fear passed, that awareness twisted in her gut like a mass of eels. That she had not been playing the self-absorbed fool this time did not ease the feeling in the slightest.

“Where are we?” Nico wanted to know, her curious gaze turned toward the door.

“Brandel’s Reach,” Celeste told her, “but not for long.” She tipped her hand beneath the minstrel’s chin, lifting the amber eyes to hers. “Stay in here until we’re at sea again,” she instructed her, stealing one last kiss before striding back out onto the deck, not sorry in the least to see Clancy’s back disappearing down the gangplank, presumably with the healer in tow. “She’ll be fine,” she announced in response to the questioning looks from all sides, and got muted cheers in response. “Bailey, get to the Goat and tell Isabela that we’re leaving. The rest of you, make ready to cast off.” The sooner they put this place behind them, the easier she’d feel.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
227
#23
The brush of Celeste’s lips against her forehead belied the edge on her captain’s voice. Nicolette felt it that much more keenly than normal, as the presence of a sensation that was not pain felt quite novel after the last few minutes. With her senses finally returning, Nicolette started to take stock of her surroundings. There was quite a lot of blood on the floor, which explained why she still felt woozy, and both Brannigan and Celeste appeared utterly drained. How long had she been floating in and out of consciousness? She owed Brannigan a debt, for certain; the healer had fixed the wound but from what she had overheard, she likely would not have made it as far as the port without his skills.

Brandel’s Reach. It was a pirate haven, and one Nicolette knew that Celeste had been hoping to avoid. The guilt she felt was slightly assuaged by the knowledge that if she had not interrupted the bolt, it would have landed in Celeste rather than herself - although she might have had better options to prevent that than catching it with her body, she could not recall any at the moment.

She was about to heave herself off the table, suddenly wanting very much to get out of the room that was stuffy with the smells of sweat and blood, but Celeste preempted her, gazing point blank into her eyes. “Stay in here until we’re at sea again.”

It was an order, but softened by the kiss that followed, and after the trouble she had put everybody to, Nicolette was inclined to obey. Nonetheless she needed to move; catching the warning glance from Brannigan, she held up her hands. “Can I at least help clean up? I do not really want to lie on that table any longer.” Blood was already congealing into the woodwork and while staying still might be good for her recovery, she did not wish to have to be peeled off.

The physician’s expression softened. “A little. Here.” He indicated a bucket brimming with soapy water, and a tray with a few bloodied instruments on it. Nicolette winced at the sight, remembering rather vividly how some of them had felt while probing in her side. “Clean these, thoroughly.”

“Thank you, Brannigan.” She squeezed his arm - more familiar than she had tried to be with him in the past, but the gesture did not appear unwelcome. “For saving my life.”

“I’d ask you repay it by keeping our captain out of trouble, but now I’ve seen how you go about that-” he chuckled, and shook his head. “Just don’t do anything to harm your recovery. If I catch you climbing the rigging I will be very disappointed.”

Nicolette returned his smile as she rolled up her sleeves, although it was barely necessary. Somebody would need to bring in new clothes - most of her shirt had been shredded, presumably while they were getting the bolt out of her. Walking carefully, she made her way over to the bucket and started cleaning her blood off the instruments.

[POV Switch: Isabela]

Isabela had barely had time to get half-cut when Bailey came barrelling into the Goat. Nicolette lived, and they were off. Captain’s orders. Isabela grumbled, but downed the last of her drink and swiped another bottle of whiskey on her way out. She wanted to stay; Brandel’s Reach was dangerous, but it was a different dangerous than Kirkwall. Cut-throat, punch ups in the street, bottles smashed over heads sort of dangerous, not blood-mages-everywhere dangerous. The fun kind. In theory, she could stay here; nobody would claim the bounty on her head, but if Castillion pitched up then she wouldn’t have a prayer. But what a fun few months it would be first.

Nope. Not without getting to taste having command of her own ship again. With a soft belch, she followed Bailey back towards the Wicked Grace. The crew had worked fast. They’d barely arrived and suddenly they were ready to go again. At least Antiva should be fun.

Isabela swayed her way up the gangplank, then up towards the wheel, where Celeste was standing. “Got you a gift,” she waved the bottle towards Celeste. “Might have somebody else’s spit in it, though. Most important thing is, it’s free.”

No sign of Nicolette. Probably she was still below decks. “So I gather Clancy came up with the goods, then?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
338
#24
Celeste could hear Brannigan giving Nicolette a simple clean-up task to perform as she left the infirmary; she trusted the physician to know what limits were needed in convalescence.

More so than she trusted his patient to know her limits.

The anger simmering in her gut was familiar enough. A new crew member disobeying an order in the heat of a moment was not unusual, and it was something that she could not afford to tolerate. The other emotions churning in the mix were less customary and more unsettling. Nico had disobeyed the order to get below, nearly gotten herself killed, to protect Celeste. Not since Gideon had been hurt had she been faced with that knowledge, and the combination of guilt and something far more volatile gnawed uncomfortably along her awareness.

As she made her way to the bridge, she spotted Isabela swaggering toward the ship and slowed her step enough to allow her to scan the docks in the pirate’s wake. If they hadn’t been able to find her, Celeste would have been presented with the dilemma of whether or not to go in search, but if anybody was thinking of ambushing the Queen of the Eastern Seas to collect Castillon’s bounty, they would have a fight on their hands. No one seemed to be considering it, however, and Bela bounded up the gangplank, then up to the helm, holding a bottle aloft.

“Got you a gift,” she announced. “Might have somebody else’s spit in it, though.”

“Far from the first time.” Celeste accepted the bottle, pulled the cork with her teeth, and took a healthy swig. Drinking on duty and being drunk on duty were a long way apart, and she wanted to wash down the restive emotions that were cluttering her thoughts.

She offered it back to Isabela. “Most important thing is, it’s free,” the pirate opined.

“Best kind,” Celeste agreed, enjoying the burn of the cheap rotgut, watching carefully as the lines were cast off and the topsails hoisted to catch the upper winds and draw the ship away from the dock. No sign of the Sea Reavers, but the distant crack of a lash in the air and howls of pain suggested that the Admiral was wasting no time in meting out justice, Brandel’s Reach style; nothing Celeste would be losing sleep over. After seeing how much had been required to heal Nicolette, she was regretting letting any of the little bastards live.

“So I gather Clancy came up with the goods, then?” Isabela asked, scanning the decks idly.

“He did,” she confirmed, then, “I owe you. He’d likely have demanded more if you hadn’t been there.” And how much would she have paid?

Not gonna think about that. She turned her focus to maneuvering the Wicked Grace out of the harbor and back to the open ocean, finally beginning to relax when the rest of the sails were hoisted and billowing in the wind, turning them back toward their northeast course.

“Take over?” she offered once she was satisfied with their heading, keeping her hands on the wheel and cocking her head in invitation. “I need to get her some clean clothes.”

She descended and ducked into the aftcastle, but when she tried to slip into her cabin, she was bowled over by a very determined hound.

“Dammit.” She pushed herself back to her feet, watching Thibault skittering across the rolling deck, then entered the cabin to grab a tunic and trews from the minstrel’s clothes, telling herself firmly that she was not going back in the drink if the damn mutt went overboard again.

Yeah, right.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
227
#25
Nicolette did not know Thibault’s exact lineage. The man who had sold him to Eward claimed a mixed ancestry involving most of the noble hounds, including mabari, although Nicolette could see nothing of the stocky Fereldan breed in her dog and suspected he had only said as much to get a few extra coins for him. What was certain was that wolfhound predominated, and they were known for their protective instincts. While Thibault could be mischievous, occasionally disobedient, and sometimes a handful when he had not been exercised enough, he had never been away from her side when she encountered trouble. So his sudden appearance in the doorway was expected - at least by Nicolette, if not by Brannigan, who started as Thibault bounded into the room. “Careful! Don’t let him jump up at you!”

There was no need for the warning. Thibault pulled up short in front of her, snuffled at where the wound in her side had been, and whined. Nicolette cupped his head between her hands, scruffing the fur behind his ears, murmuring to him in Orlesian as he gazed up at her with doleful brown eyes. <<Calm, boy, calm. I am all right.>>

It took a few moments, but eventually his tail uncurled from between his legs and set up a slow wag. Fortunately, she had finished washing the instruments before his arrival, and Celeste had ordered that she should stay here until they had cast off, so she had a little time to pay attention to him. It was just as well. The clothing that remained was torn and blood-soaked, and she did not much wish for anybody else to see her like this. She also badly wanted to be up on deck as the ship pulled away, but she would obey Celeste’s instructions. It had not escaped her mind that her captain might be angry with her for not doing so when the pirates had flooded onto the deck. There was no need to push her luck further, when it had already been strained today.

Eventually, a few moments after Thibault had calmed down, Celeste reappeared, carrying fresh clothes. Brannigan excused himself, and Nicolette was all too grateful to start peeling away her ruined garments. “Thank you.”

She had had enough time to think. The crew had put themselves at risk, going to Brandel’s Reach. Finding a magical healer would not have been cheap, either. While she had no regrets in preventing Celeste from being skewered, it was not fair that anybody else should be responsible for her decision. “I will pay you back, for the healer - every bit,” she offered. “It may take me a few ports to gather the coin, but I will.”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
338
#26
Thibault made it across the deck without incident, and by the time Celeste reached the infirmary, passing Brannigan on his way out, the distraught hound was being soothed by his mistress. Nicolette’s face lit with relief at the sight of the clean clothes that Celeste carried. “Thank you,” she exclaimed and promptly began tugging off the bloody remnants of the garb she’d been wearing. Celeste set the bundle on the end of the cot and stepped back; she was far from squeamish as a rule, but the sight of the dried blood still smeared on the minstrel’s bare skin bothered her more than she’d thought it would. With Nico healed up, she had expected the emotions churning in her chest to start dissipating, but if anything, the opposite was happening.

“I will pay you back, for the healer - every bit,” Nicolette promised her as she took up the clean clothes. “It may take me a few ports to gather the coin, but I will.”

Celeste opened her mouth, closed it again, not trusting herself to reply just yet. “Let’s get you to the cabin,” she said instead after a moment. The infirmary wasn’t the place for this particular discussion. Pitching the bloodstained and torn garments into a pile near the door to be tossed over the side later, she supported Nicolette from the infirmary onto the deck, with Thibault curling close to his mistress’ other side.

The wind was fair and the seas calm, the Wicked Grace skimming easily through the waves on a northeasterly course with the sun dipping toward the horizon in their wake. Activity among the crew had settled into routine tasks, and those not on duty had retired to their berths to rest up after staying on guard in Brandel’s Reach. Nobody made a fuss, but Celeste could feel the eyes on them as they made their way to the door of the captain’s cabin. She followed Nico and Thibault inside and closed the door behind them, glancing at the scratches the dog had made in his attempts to get out. The door was oak; the shallow gouges could easily be sanded out once they reached Antiva. That didn’t trouble her in the slightest. The dog’s mistress, on the other hand …

“Do you want to wash up a bit?” she asked quietly, nodding to the waterskin that hung beside the bed. A real bath would have to wait until they made port. Her voice sounded stiff and awkward in her own ears, but she wasn’t sure what to do about it, or about the tension that kept coiling tighter beneath her breastbone.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
227
#27
She could not read Celeste’s face. It was disconcerting. Normally her captain wore her emotions fairly openly, but now she hesitated over speaking for a moment, clearly censoring herself. Nicolette felt a cold prickling down the back of her neck that she usually associated with being in trouble, but in the next moment Celeste offered to help her along to the cabin. The offer was gratefully received. While she had been fine moving around this limited space, taking the steps and emerging on to the deck would require some extra effort. Whether from the blood loss or the magic, her legs felt far weaker than normal.

The fresh air when they got out onto deck was welcome, and cleared her head a little. The Wicked Grace charged through the water, only bobbing a little on the waves, and the sky behind them was painted with the glorious pinks and oranges of the setting sun. Under other circumstances, Nicolette would have been helping the crew right now, or leading a song, or playing - anything that would have allowed her to celebrate the sheer joy of being on board. Right now, the only thing she was really aware of was the sensation of everybody watching them, and the comforting press of Celeste at her side.

That tight, uncomfortable feeling around her neck was not abating, however.

They entered Celeste’s cabin and as the door closed behind them, Nicolette turned to inspect the damage Thibault had caused. It was not as bad as it could have been, but Nicolette experienced a deflating sensation behind her ribs. She had now been an inconvenience three times - although she only partially regretted one of them.

“Do you want to wash up a bit?”

For some reason the words startled her a bit; or perhaps it was the tone. She and Celeste had butted heads before but she had never heard that almost sullen note before, and it did not help relieve the tension at all. Slowly, Nicolette nodded. "Thank you."

She headed towards the indicated waterskin and pulling the fresh tunic back over her head so she could start washing away the blood still caked on her skin. Gently, she again probed the area where the bolt had gone in. No pain, not even tenderness. With some sleep and food, she would probably be back to normal before too long.

That thought set aside, she turned to look at Celeste again, trying to read what was going on behind those green eyes. Although she could still not decipher anything precise, she was not picking up on anything good.

With anybody else in Thedas, at this point Nicolette might have made an excuse; she had to sleep, or she needed more air. Anything to get away from a confrontation. So it came as a surprise even to herself when she did not step away.

“Am I in trouble, Celeste?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
338
#28
Celeste pretended not to see the worried, questioning expression on Nicolette’s face, suggesting that the minstrel clean up, averting her gaze once more when the sight of the dried blood smeared on the copper-hued skin made it hard to draw breath. She was alive and unharmed, the wound healed, the flesh beneath questing fingers intact, so what was wrong?

The setting sun poured golden light through the heavy, leaded glass of the aft windows, giving the burnished wood of the furnishings a glow and turning troubled amber eyes nearly luminous as they looked to her.

“Am I in trouble, Celeste?” Nicolette asked quietly, searching the sailor’s face as though she did not quite recognize her.

Celeste wanted badly to respond with some irreverent quip that would make her lover smile. She wanted to sweep her up, carry her to the bed and hold her through whatever dreams the magical healing caused.

She did neither.

“I gave you an order,” she began, her voice taut with the emotions that she was struggling to understand. “If you’d just followed it and gone below, none of this would have happened; you had no business in that fight!” She forced her hands to unclench, scrubbing her hands against the canvas of her trouser legs, forced herself to meet the minstrel’s puzzled gaze, trying to sound reasonable. “I don’t want you to pay me back, but when this ship is at sea, whether you’re passenger or crew, when I give an order, you fucking do it! You don’t ask questions and you don’t disobey, because that’s how people get killed, just like you almost got -” She broke off, clenching her jaw as the storm in her chest intensified unbearably.

She turned to stare into the sunset, the blazing light easier to endure than Nicolette’s face right now. “If you can’t do that,” she heard a voice that she barely recognized as her own say, “then maybe Antiva should be as far as we go together.” It was more or less what Daniel had said to her when her headstrong foolishness had nearly gotten Gideon killed, what she told every new crew member and passenger: follow orders or get ashore. It was the same thing, wasn’t it?

Why didn’t it feel the same?

“I don’t want to be the reason you get killed,” she managed to get out without turning around, and that felt more like truth than anything she had said before it, because something good and kind and beautiful would be lost … almost had been lost, and the blame for that rested squarely on Celeste’s head, just as it had the day Gideon had been wounded. She’d thought that she would never feel worse than she had that day; evidently she’d been very wrong.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
227
#29
Nicolette had seen Celeste angry, worried, tense, especially in those last few days before they left Kirkwall, when the fear for Addie’s future had been at the forefront of everybody’s mind. The expression now pointed towards her spoke of frustration rather than anger, although there was also something more vulnerable there. It slightly tempered Celeste’s following statement, although not by much.

“I gave you an order. If you’d just followed it and gone below, none of this would have happened; you had no business in that fight!” That was true, and yet, even if Nicolette had not intervened, they would have had to find help; but for Celeste, not for her. Although she supposed the bolt might have missed. As the battle on deck had demonstrated, anything could change on the turn of a coin. Nicolette was about to argue to that end, but Celeste wasn’t done. “I don’t want you to pay me back, but when this ship is at sea, whether you’re passenger or crew, when I give an order, you fucking do it! You don’t ask questions and you don’t disobey, because that’s how people get killed, just like you almost got -”

Nicolette drew in a breath almost as sharply as Celeste had done. Between the pain and the delirium, she hadn’t been sure how close she’d come towards the void. From how gently Brannigan had been treating her, and how weak she still felt, it was apparent it was a lot closer than she had thought. And yet, the thought did not scare her as much as it should have. The pain was nothing to what she knew she would have felt if it had been Celeste slowly bleeding out on the deck.

She drew herself up to fight the point, ignoring the buzzing at the back of her skull, when Celeste turned away from her. “If you can’t do that, then maybe Antiva should be as far as we go together.”

Perhaps. Perhaps. But the thought filled Nicolette with immediate disquiet. They had only known each other a few weeks at this point, but it was difficult to imagine her life without the blonde sailor in it. Celeste did not just bring adventure to her life, she emboldened her to take risks she had never done before. As she did now, stepping towards the other woman, crooking a finger beneath her chin, to draw her gaze back to her.

“You are my captain. And I will obey your commands at sea. There was not really enough time for me to make a decision in the moment I noticed you were in danger; I simply reacted. But I did know I could not stand there and watch you be hurt. Is that such a bad thing, to try and defend a crewmate?” That was slightly wobbly ground; Nicolette was not quite part of the crew, although she almost felt as though she was. With each day they had been at sea, she had learned more of the Wicked Grace and seafaring in general. If she had not been a minstrel, then a sailor’s life would likely have been the best one for her. Nothing else came with that much freedom. She met Celeste’s gaze squarely. “To try and defend somebody I care so much about?”
 

Celeste Monroe

Shenaniginstigator In Chief
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
338
#30
Celeste was being an asshole, and she knew it. Quite possibly, she was even doing it deliberately. Harsh words meant to wound, anger, drive away, because surely the safest course would be for Nicolette to leave the Wicked Grace when they reached Antiva City. Safest for who, exactly was a question that she did not allow herself to ask. She kept her back turned, waiting for Nico to get angry, cry, declare the sailor to be an ungrateful bastard, and storm back to her former berth.

The minstrel did none of these.

Her feet made not a sound on the oaken floor, but Celeste could feel her drawing close, awareness prickling at the back of her neck and down her spine in the moment before a finger pressed gently beneath her chin, turning her to meet the steady regard of amber eyes.

“You are my captain. And I will obey your commands at sea.” Nicolette’s voice was calm, sure. “There was not really enough time for me to make a decision in the moment I noticed you were in danger; I simply reacted. But I did know I could not stand there and watch you be hurt. Is that such a bad thing, to try and defend a crewmate?”

And that was the crux of the matter, was it not? If another member of the crew had pulled such a bold stunt to protect her, or if Nico had taken that bolt for anyone else on the crew, Celeste might have scolded, but there would have been no talk of putting her ashore. Celeste knew beyond doubt that had she been presented with the same situation, she would have done precisely what Nicolette had, and with that realization, the storm in her chest stilled as completely as a summer squall blowing over, leaving blissful calm in its wake. Before she could speak, the look in those glorious eyes shifted into something that made her heart beat a bit faster.

“To try and defend somebody I care so much about?”

Would this woman never cease to surprise her? Celeste caught the hand that hovered beneath her chin and pressed it to her cheek, relishing the warmth of the contact. “Brave girl,” she said softly. “My brave girl.” Others had referred to the minstrel as hers, and she hadn’t minded, but this was the first time she had uttered the possessive aloud, feeling it wending itself through her soul with surprising rightness. “I’m sorry. I’m not used to being afraid.” She turned her head to press a kiss to her lover’s palm, then, with a faint smile, “And you scared the shit out of me.”

Stepping closer, she brought her lips to Nicolette’s, the kiss different from any she’d offered before, with no hint of seduction or playfulness. Gentle and almost reverent, it felt very much like a promise.

“Let’s get you cleaned up,” she said when she drew back. Guiding the minstrel back to the bed, she wet a cloth and carefully wiped every bit of the dried blood away. “Are you hungry?” she asked, peering into her lover’s face, which was still paler than she liked, a reminder of the blood that had been lost. “Think Stubby’s got some meat pies and stew in the galley; I can get you some.”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
227
#31
Nicolette saw the frustration swirling in Celeste’s gaze die; and with it went the gnawing fear in Nicolette’s stomach. She hadn’t truly thought Celeste meant to put her ashore at Antiva without another word, but she knew that she had taken a risk to fight her corner. It was something she so rarely did, and thank Skies, the gambit had paid off. Celeste’s hand rested over hers, warm and reassuring.

“Brave girl.” Nicolette felt the same flutter in her chest as she had the first time Celeste referred to her as such, but Celeste was not finished. “My brave girl.”

The butterflies multiplied and were apparently in the process of exploding. Nicolette had referred to Celeste as her captain for some time now, but this was the first time Celeste had called her ‘hers’. Coming from anyone else, it would immediately have made Nicolette shy away, try to build a little distance to prevent them from becoming hurt when she eventually left. But she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Celeste would never try to curb who she was, and she accepted the possessive with a warm happiness of a kind she had not known in years.

A little dizzied from the thought, she almost missed Celeste’s apology. “I’m sorry. I’m not used to being afraid.” Celeste kissed the inside of her hand. “And you scared the shit out of me.”

Nicolette gave her a faintly wry smile. “Trust me, I do not intend to repeat that again if I can avoid it.” Although she knew that if Celeste were in mortal danger, she absolutely would do it again.

Then Celeste kissed her. It only lasted a few moments, and was tender and sweet in a way no kiss between them had been before. When Celeste pulled away, it took Nicolette a couple of seconds to open her eyes. In that moment, she was blissfully happy, and even though out of necessity Celeste had to remind her to clean the rest of the blood off her, it did nothing to dampen the mood. Far from it; Celeste took on the task, touching her with such care that it was all Nicolette could do not to simply pull her captain into an embrace.

Although some of the dizziness might have been caused by blood loss, and as Celeste’s fingers passed over her stomach, it growled audibly. “Are you hungry? Think Stubby’s got some meat pies and stew in the galley; I can get you some.”

“I might be able to eat,” Nicolette admittedly sheepishly over the sound of her stomach complaining again. “A meat pie sounds good. If I have the stew I might fall asleep and spill it everywhere.”

But fetching the food would entail Celeste leaving the cabin for a few moments, so Nicolette decided to compensate for that by pulling her captain in for another kiss, savouring a few more moments of that reverence from before. She would not put a name to this, not yet, but she knew how she felt. And for once, she would not allow herself to be scared away by it; Celeste meant too much to her.
 
Top