Let’s see if I can do this Challenge without writing a book about it. No promises, though.
(art by nazgullow)
My OTP for m!Hawke is most definitely Garrett/Anders, but I’ve already written all about that.
(More pairings after the break!)
When it comes to f!Hawke, however, I find I actually don’t like the Anders pairing. As I said in the above linked post, Anders’s protectiveness comes out slightly patronizing with Marian, and I don’t like what it says about his character that he remains silent on the Karl issue, and overall, I feel that the Garrett/Anders romance is more egalitarian and trusting than Marian/Anders. I feel like Garrett and Anders could find themselves a happy ending that Marian and Anders never will.
But don’t cry for Marian. Because I think Sarcastic!Marian/Isabela is just so, so perfect. They match so well – the wit, the banter, the easy sexual joy and unspoken commitments. To me, they’re this perfect Thelma-and-Louise style pairing, two crazy kids laughing against the even bigger craziness of Thedas, and it always warms my heart to see them make it last.
(art by sweetsnail)
I’m not sure whether it’s the particular line-readings, or (more likely) what I’m taking into the game, my own biases and preconceptions, but I find Aggro!Marian deliciously bitchy – like, clap my hands over my mouth in glee bitchy—whereas to me, Aggro!Garrett just comes across as a jerk. Thus why I adore Aggro!Marian/Fenris so much: I love the idea of two hard, cynical souls with a squishy interior, bonding over their combined love of dancing and killing slavers and oppressing mages.
(art by a-m-b-e-r-w-o-l-f)
But when Garrett’s on deck? Oh, I ship Fenris/Isabela so hard, you have no idea. I love the unabashed adoration Fenris has for her: To him, she represents freedom, choice, honor among thieves; the promise of an open ocean and the goodness of character not to abuse that opportunity. For Isabela, Fenris is a creature of beauty – and we all know how much she loves beautiful things – and a kindred spirit: abused but not broken, no matter how much he is tossed about the by the waves of his life. That they find each other amidst the turmoil and heartache of Act 3 makes me so indescribably happy that I now have trouble thinking of romancing either with Garrett ever again.
(art by ?, courtesy of fuckyeahisabela)
The nerdy romantic in me loves the idea of Carver/Merrill – I think after Bethany’s death, Act 1 Carver wants more than anything someone to protect, and Merrill is so weird and confused and befuddled that even without meaning to she gets in past his defenses, and Carver is just so kind to her, right when she needs a friend most. Anybody who’s read my “Free As We’ll Ever Be” series knows its kind of my head!canon that Carver actually has this thing for Dalish lore; so I imagine the two of them having long discussions about Fen’harel and Elgar’nan and Eluvians – and maybe he sees in her a replacement for Bethany and she sees in him a replacement for Garrett but I don’t really care, because it doesn’t escape my notice that Merrill waits to go really crazy until after Carver leaves.
And then when LittleHawke comes back as Warden!Carver (TEMPLAR!CARVER YOU BREAK MY HEART GO SIT IN YOUR ROOM YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID), and he has let go of all the anger and all the frustration and become a good, strong, decent man and yet he still adores her? /swoon
(art by arch4ngel)
Aveline/Donnic is a canon gimme, as is Varric/Bianca and Sebastian/His Shameboner, but I admit I’m rather entranced by the idea of Warden!Bethany/Nathaniel. I think there’s a nobility in both parties, an honesty and optimism that will bring them together. Nathaniel knows what it is to regret things you had no control over, and why all the fancy titles in the world taste like ash; but more importantly, he also know what it is to rise above your circumstances, to become a better person than you ever needed to be, and I think that’s a wonderful example that Warden!Bethany will eventually be drawn to. And for Nathaniel’s part – well, we could all use some Sunshine in the deep. Bethany’s just such a gentle soul, like a tempest that chooses to be a spring breeze, and there’s so little gentleness in Nathaniel’s life that I think he’d treasure it when he found it.
Oh, and of course: Emeric/Mharen.