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Dragon Age II has one of the most well-put-together set of True Companions in recent roleplaying history, with each of them, despite their differences, constantly looking out for each other. Varric always keeps bribes ready to keep thugs off the backs of Anders and Merrill, and adds the party's drinks to his tab. Aveline, despite being guard-captain, still bends the laws a little to make sure that Fenris and Isabela don't get into too much trouble. Even Isabela slept with the seneschal to ensure that Fenris can safely stay in Danarius' Hightown mansion without having to pay taxes, and Fenris - despite his avowed hatred of mages - unequivocally refuses to consider turning Anders or Merrill in to the Templars (if only out of loyalty to Hawke). They do this for eight years. Damn, that's impressive.
It's probably because they do this for eight years that the True Companions are so strong. One doesn't spend so much time with another without feeling a kind of kinship. They share so many experiences together that they effectively do become a family.
Even better, if you manage to max out every party member's friendship/rivalry, they will all follow you, which is especially heartwarming in the mage ending because none of them expect to survive the battle.
Even Sebastian, who joins the group three years late (which might be the reason why he doesn't have quite the same connection, leading to his and Anders becoming Mutually Exclusive by the end), gets in on the action. His station doesn't enable him to do much for the others, but he puts Wesley's name on the Chantry memorial wall for Aveline, which is exceptionally kind considering that he never met Wesley. He also puts Leandra's name there for Hawke.
One party banter between Merrill and Isabela has the former commenting that Isabela has led an exciting life as a pirate, a duelist, and her many love affairs, she then wonders how Isabela could like a girl as boring as Merrill, and wishes she had Isabela's life. Isabela immediately denies this, and says Merill has a beautiful heart, and is deserving of so much more than what she has.
Merrill: [sighs] Why do you even like me? I must seem so dull.
Isabela: What brought this on?
Merrill: Your life has been... so exciting. The adventures, the duels, the passionate love affairs. Compared to that, my life is a stale, dry biscuit. [sighs] I wish I had your life.
Isabela: [flatly] No. You don't want my life.
Isabela: [warmly] Because you have a good heart, and you deserve better.
If Fenris or Anders is in the party with Merrill and Isabela, they'll show No Sympathy, with Fenris responding to Merrill's "He acted like I was a monster!" with "You are a monster." Izzy will snap at him, snarling him he's not helping. It doesn't make Fenris lay off, but she tries.
If the resident grouches aren't in the party, Isabela responds to Merrill's lament with a soothing "Don't blame yourself, Kitten. Sometimes men do senseless things."
If Hawke and Isabela are in a relationship:
Merrill: I think Hawke likes you, Isabela
Isabela: I certainly hope so!
Merrill: Of course, it's not surprising at all that anybody would love you, but it's nice to see you two happy.
Isabela: Merrill, sometimes you're so sweet I could eat you for dessert.
Supporting Merrill on your visit to her clan looking for the mirror-fixing tool.
If you chose a past where Alistair left the Grey Wardens you'll find him in the first act drinking in the bar, a little funny and kind of sad. In the second act, you see him there again...and Bann Teagan comes in, pulls him out of his slump, and takes him back home. Nice to know that he still has family that cares for him.
The subplot with Gamlen and Charade. Here is an uncle whose a deadbeat, a liar, and an all-around Jerkass. You discover he has a daughter and if you arrange a meeting between the two, Gamlen starts to really cheer up and take to being a father. In the aftermath, he even praises you indirectly by saying your apostate mage father was a good man if he raised a man/woman like you. This comes at the heel of Bethany/Carver's departure and Leandra's death. You and Gamlen are all alone. The letter Charade sends you afterward puts you on such an up - it doesn't bring the rest of your family back, but hearing from a cousin who genuinely cares for you is the next best thing.
Speaking with Bethany at the end if you support the Magi,; it really shows her character development in how accepting the Circle, which she feared all her childhood, did not damage her. Hearing her speak of her love for her big brother/sister is just gravy.
Alternatively, if Bethany becomes a Grey Warden, she's initially cold and resentful of Hawke forcing her into this life, but she comes during the final battle to support her sibling.
And then, if you support the Templars, finding Bethany alone, the last of the Circle, lamenting Orsino's descent into madness. Meredith moves against her, but Hawke can step in and have a Go Through Me moment. Hawke assures Bethany that s/he could never kill their own sister, and the siblings embrace.
Much of Hawke and Bethany's relationship could count, really. Given the number of people who are willing to screw over siblings for some material advantage such as Bartrand and Varric, Fenris and his sister Varania and Gamlen and Leandra, the fact that Bethany early in the game mentions that she could never turn on her own sibling like that is sweet enough. But the fact that Hawke and Bethany can go through the entire game and not once turn on each other is both incredibly heartwarming and a big middle finger to the Crapsack World nature of the Dragon Age universe in general.
Oppositely, if Carver came to Kirkwall and became the Grey Warden, he thanks you for saving his life, and see his growing up from being resentful of always being in your shadow, and he asks to fight by your side. Very touching.
Or, if Carver runs off to join the Templars, he's pretty distant towards Hawke, but states that he won't turn Hawke in. During Act III, he outright defies Meredith when she demands that Hawke be executed, stating that he will NOT kill his own sibling.
Similarly, if Carver becomes a Warden and you side with Meredith, he outright states that he doesn't understand how Hawke could follow "that bitch". Nonetheless, he supports Hawke's decision, and offers to stand with him/her.
Romancing Merrill as a friend, since she never had anyone before Hawke. She was really lonely.
It's more than just being lonely with Merrill. Merrill notes that Hawke is the only person who understood what she was trying to do, as even her clan, who are supposed to be like a family, rejected her for it and called her a monster. The fact that Merrill has finally found someone that is willing to support and understand her is utterly sweet
Doubly so if you've taken Blood Magic specialization. The whole world seems to be against Merrill for something both she and Hawke consider perfectly routine and Hawke might not be able to make it okay, but s/he can remind Merrill that no matter what happens, she's a good person and has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
While we're still here, the end of Merrill's romance: her final scene is very heartwarming.
A conversation between Merrill and Aveline, should you choose to romance Merrill:
Aveline: I didn't expect you to stick around for this mess, Merrill. This has nothing to do with your elves.
Merrill: I love Hawke, I wouldn't go anywhere.
Aveline: But it's not your fight.
Merrill: I love Hawke.
Aveline: You said that.
Merrill: I say it a lot. It makes things clearer, takes away doubt when everything is crazy and people are dying.
Aveline: I understand.
Merrill: Oh, good. Someone should.
It's even more touching when you consider an earlier conversation she'll have with Anders, unrelated to romance but connecting to that bit about things being clearer:
Merrill: You really believe, don't you?
Anders: What are we talking about?
Merrill: Believing. You do, I can tell - in freedom, in mages, in good spirits and bad templars. With more fire than the sun.
Anders: And your point is?
Merrill: I miss it sometimes, things being certain.
Anders: Some things are certain.
Merrill: Not anymore.
After All That Remains, while Hawke is sitting at home in the throes of a Heroic BSOD, your love interest or (in the absence of a romance) closest friend comes to try to offer some comfort. Regardless of who shows up, it's very heartwarming.
Fenris, likewise, admits that he has no idea what to say and finds words inadequate in a situation like this, but tries to be there for Hawke nonetheless - particularly touching since it is highly likely to be taking place after he's already broken off his romance with Hawke in confusion about his feelings.
Anders will calmly accept all of Hawke's anger at mages for what Quentin did to his/her mother. He stoically accepts it, letting Hawke get out all his/her frustration.
Merrill and Hawke agree that she is in a better place, whether by the Maker's side or with Falon'Din, the elven god. She just sits there with Hawke though, being there for him/her like s/he was for her.
Gamlen comes in and begins to chew Hawke out, as usual, starting with claiming it was all his/her fault - but he can't even get through the first sentence before he bursts into grief-stricken sobs. He and Hawke wind up mourning Leandra together.
Then there is the conversation with Aveline in the Guard HQ. She isn't fooled by Silly!Hawke's Sad Clown act. To console him/her, she tells you a story about her father, a chevalier named Benoit Du Lac. Every night, when she was a girl, he would read stories to her, but only turned the page when she grasped his hand. It was symbolic of her only continuing the story by her choice. When she became an adult, she would read stories to her ill father, and like old times, he would grasp her hand when it was time to turn the page. The point of the story? She says that no one should tell Hawke when to move on, when to proceed with the story. It will be his/her choice. Probably the most poignant thing Aveline says in the entire game.
Aveline: No one should tell you how to mourn. And when someone says 'move on,' you take their hand and say, 'my choice.'
Think about this one a little harder and you realize this is meta-heartwarming. Your story? You decide when to move on and how to proceed? That's BioWare in a nutshell.
Much like in the first game, Bodahn and Sandal. It is very heartwarming how much Bohdan loves the kid, especially when he worries what will happen to Sandal when he's gone.
Not just that, at one point, Sandal outright says "I like Bodhan!" and then Bodhan, like a concerned parent, laments to Hawke what would happen to Sandal after he's gone. The man really does consider the kid his son.
The best part happens in act III. Hawke and Bodahn are talking about the future of Sandal after Bodahn is gone. Hawke can offer to look after Sandal, but Bodahn quietly rejects the idea, saying that everything that Hawke has done for the two of them over the years was good enough. Bodahn has come a hell of a long way from the scamming salesman of Origins. I love how his face changes over the years, and there is a little twinkle in his old face by Act III.
The sheer hope in one sentence in Anders's romance scene:
"Would you tell the world, the Knight-Commander, that you love an apostate and will stand beside him?"
And it gets even better if you complete the romance as a warrior or a rogue:
"Ten years from now... a hundred years from now, someone like me will love someone like you, and there will be no Templars to tear them apart."
If you romance him as a mage, he'll say something about not being torn apart for how you were born.
The above exchanges (especially the third one), get extra points if your Hawke is also a man.
In Act I, Merrill and Varric banter reveals that Varric has given her a ball of twine to help her find her way back home, so she will not to get lost in Lowtown. Later, in Act III, she tries to give it back to Varric because she no longer needs it; and he comes up with a bunch of other reasons why she should keep it, but the way they say these lines you just know the big softie still cares about his Daisy after all these years.
This one little dialogue says it all. Varric is paying to keep Merrill safe.
Varric: Daisy, would you please stop walking through the alleys after dark
Merrill: Why? Nothing ever happens to me.
Varric: I know and that nothing is costing me a fortune.
The codex also says that after Merrill fixes the Eluvian, she doesn't leave the house much, not even to buy food, and so Varric takes to having produce delivered to her house. In fact, for someone so brash on the surface, Varric has CMOHs all the time, from big ones like forgiving his brother and sending him to a sanitarium instead of getting revenge to little things like putting Anders on his tab at the Hanged Man. He's also the only one besides you who genuinely seems to like everyone else, and is always trying to help them or cheer them up.
Varric's entire relationship with Bethany is a CMOH all by itself. It seems to straddle the line between a big brother/little sister sort of bond and a very delicate, innocent flirtation. His nickname for her ("Sunshine") is clearly an Affectionate Nickname; contrast it with the more sardonic "Junior" he gives Carver. Their dialogue is a thing of joy and a reason to keep both of them in the party as long as possible, especially when he upgrades her to "Milady Sunshine" during the quest to recover Grandfather Amell's will, and consoles her about how much she misses her lost twin. If she gets left behind at the end of Act 1 and joins the Circle, he laments her fate, noting to Cassandra that there was nothing they could do for her. If she goes along to the Deep Roads and dies from the darkspawn taint, he openly grieves, swearing to make Bartrand pay for her death. Theirs is arguably the sweetest relationship in the game that is neither overtly romantic nor involves Hawke directly.
Fenris, of all people, also gets along surprisingly well with Bethany. When Anders argues that not all mages are weak, Fenris actually agrees with him: Bethany, he says, is not weak. Coming from Fenris and his deep-rooted hatred of mages and magic, it's the very highest of praise - the only other mage he's willing to talk about this way is a mage Hawke.
Speaking with Merrill after Bethany is taken to the Circle, Merrill consoles Hawke by saying that if anyone is tough enough to survive the Circle, it's Bethany, and somehow, everything will be all right.
She also does this with Carver if he joins the Templars. Hawke can comment that they aren't speaking to each other. Merrill gently reassures Hawke that no one can stay angry forever, not even Carver, and one day, he'll understand that you only wanted to save his life.
Isabela and Aveline do not get along. Eventually, though, they find some common ground... in their own way.
Aveline: You're right.
Aveline: About knowing who you are. I'm the captain of the guard. I'm loyal, strong, and I don't look too bad naked.
Isabela: Exactly. And if I called you a mannish, awkward, ball-crushing do-gooder, you'd say...
Aveline: Shut up, whore.
Isabela: That's my girl!
In Act 3, Hawke may walk in on the two of them sharing a drink in Aveline's office. Isabela leaves and Aveline admits that she's not all bad.
Aveline will vehemently object to Isabela being taken by the Qunari. She claims it's because she wants to kick Isabela's ass herself, but we all know she cares.
She even invited Isabela to her Solstice dinner party. (Though Isabela was too sheepish to turn up...)
Which doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny, since Isabela alludes to "What happens when you have kids?" and says in a little-girl voice
Isabela: Mummy, what's a slattern?
Aveline: Well then all I would have to do is point at you and say 'That's a slattern!'
Giving Fenris the book A Slave's Life. The problem is, Fenris was a slave... so he never was allowed to learn to read. Hawke can offer to teach him.
Made even better when you find out that there's a bookshelf you can examine in your home, and one of your Hawke's comments is about how Fenris' reading has improved, and he/she should pick out a new book for him to work on.
Similar to Aveline objecting to Isabela being taken by the Qunari, Merrill will basically beg you in the saddest way possible not to go through with betraying Fenris to Danarius on his final personal quest. Given how rude he is to her the entire game, and especially horrible he is to her after her final personal quest, it just shows how selflessly kind Merrill can be.
Merrill is made of selflessly kind. Anders openly despises blood mages like Merrill, for whom he (often justifiably) blames society's hatred of mages. He spares no opportunity to berate her for the careless stupidity he feels she embodies as a blood mage and a demon apologist. When Anders experiences his BSOD, blaming himself for the corruption of the friendly spirit, Justice, into the demonic Vengeance, she quietly and sadly corrects his mistaken beliefs not only about Vengeance, but about her: just because she never believed demons were inherently evil doesn't mean she ever believed they were inherently good, the way Anders did about Justice. All spirits are dangerous, and she's truly sad for Anders that he didn't realize this sooner.
Repairing Fenris' and Hawke's relationship in Act 3 is a CMOH on its own; however, one line in particular stands out:
Fenris: If there is a future to be had, I will walk into it gladly by your side.
The lines just before that:
Fenris: If I could go back, I would have stayed, told you how I felt.
Hawke: What would you have said?
Fenris: ...nothing could be worse than the thought of living without you.
For most of the game, Fenris' obsession, fear, and hatred of his past has been one of his defining character traits. It's what makes him end the relationship with Hawke, what makes him obsessed with revenge, and what makes him angst so much. Him saying that shows that he's finally willing to put the past completely behind him so that he can be happy with Hawke, and is really, really touching, all the moreso if Hawke is a mage.
Even before that, there's a small touch that proves very heartwarming if you stop to think about it: Most love interests have some kind of change to their outfit at some point during the romance. In Fenris's case, he puts Hawke's family crest on his belt and a red armband (described by Word of God as Hawke's favor to him) on his right wrist. He begins doing this immediately after he and Hawke spend the night together in Act 2, and continues to do so after abandoning their relationship... and for the next three years afterward.
Even better is that if you decide to romance Anders after Fenris leaves you. Fenris will not only accept it, he will threaten to kill Anders if he ever breaks your heart- given how he's in love with you himself, and the fact he hates Anders with the intensity of a thousand suns, it's pretty adorable (death threats aside) that he's willing to overlook this as long as Hawke is happy.
And then, after you finally discuss matters and tell him he's forgiven, his default response when you approach him? A husky statement of "I am yours." SWOON.
This last line is especially heartwarming. Fenris has spent his entire life in slavery, being molded into whatever Danarius wanted. He spent years before and during the game trying to avoid returning to this fate. In two lines, Fenris showed how he can let go of his fears and give himself wholly and completely to the person he loves, and expect the same in return. That really shows character development.
It is unfortunate that there are not Crowning Moments of Sexy, because that would be one.
It's doubly heartwarming for players of the first game as a call back to Zevran's romance path.
Isabela's last line of dialogue before the last leg of battle when Meredith or Orsino ask you to give your companions orders. Isabela and Hawke joke about how she should probably be halfway to Tevinter, but Isabela remembers how Hawke stood up for her to the Arishok, even dueling him to ensure her safety. She comments that, when Hawke looks for her, she'll be right by his/her side fighting beside him/her.
There's an extra heartwarming depending on whether she is a friend or a rival. As a friend, she still has trouble believing that Hawke stood by her after everything she did, and promises to do the same this time. As a rival, she admits that she doesn't inspire confidence but that she wants to be a better person for Hawke. Both of these may be even more powerful if their relationship is completely platonic.
A small, easily missed note in the Hawke estate reads: "I'm proud of you, Love Mother." It's just a simple thing, not that far from what a parent could leave in their child's lunchbox, but after everything Hawke's been through, especially All That Remains, it means something.
At the very beginning, if Hawke is a Mage, when Bethany dies, Aveline's husband, a Templar, commends Bethany - an apostate - to the Maker. It's small, but it is a touching moment.
And this comes maybe twenty minutes after they first meet. Wesley was more than prepared to apprehend her. The fact that he isn't just a stone-cold mage hunter shows how far the Order has fallen in Kirkwall.
Isabela trying to justify not attending Aveline's Solstice dinner party, saying she isn't the type of person Aveline would want in polite company. The awkward way in which she says it really sells the moment, because by this point, she and Aveline really are best friends.
For some reason, this line always gets to me (takes place after Fenris' last Companion Quest):
Fenris: The future of a slave is never uncertain. But I am no longer a slave. Perhaps it's time I remembered that.
There's one when you meet up with Isabela at the beginning of Act III. If Isabela returned with the relic and Hawke dueled the Arishok on her behalf, Isabela expresses frustration over her past decision to give up the relic and questions why Hawke, who is now Champion, is bothering with someone like her. Hawke can then reassure Isabela that they are still friends and that Hawke is grateful that she came back and acknowledges how hard it must have been for her to do the right thing. Hawke further promises that if Isabela needs help, Hawke will be right there to back her up. Isabela acts nonchalant about this, but you just know she's touched.
Hawke has some touching moments with his/her family during the Legacy DLC. Of particular interest is the end of the "Malcolm's Will" quest, when Bethany or Carver is in the party. Bethany recalls happier times and how Carver could make her smile when she was sad, and Carver breaks down and actually admits how much he misses both Bethany and his father, even though Malcolm spent very little time with him.
Even further, when the DLC is finished, Hawke will speak with his/her mother. She can talk about Malcolm and how they met, but a really poignant conversation comes if Leandra is deceased at the time, as Hawke will be talking not to her, but an imaginary one who reassures him/her that s/he's very much like his/her father, and that the best of both Malcolm and Leandra lives on in Hawke, and that it's what makes him/her try so hard. She tells him/her everything will be all right. It's the sort of emotional speech only a mother could give.
Fridge Heartwarming. Varric tells Cassandra up-front he's taking liberties with this particular part of the story. The conversation with the imaginary Leandra is there just because Varric thought his friend deserves some closure.
Another example occurs if Hawke and a Templar Carver part on bitter terms at the end of the DLC. Even if Hawke is the violent personality, he laments the rift with his brother, feeling powerless to overcome their differences. This becomes especially poignant given the climax of the game, when Carver effortlessly puts aside the rivalry to come to Hawke's aid, showing that not only has he escaped Hawke's shadow, but Carver's actually surpassed Hawke in some respects.
If both Bethany and Carver are dead, Hawke gets to talk to Gamlen instead. He admires Malcolm for what he was ready to go through for his family. Remember that at the beginning, he despised this guy. If the right dialogue options are chosen, this scene becomes even more heartwarming. Gamlen tells you how he helped your parents by distracting Lord Amell so they could sneak out, and then once more expresses his grief over Leandra’s death. The conversation may end with an awkward declaration that if Hawke needs anything, s/he just has to ask. This doubles as a Tear Jerker since at this point your other family members, except for Gamlen, are dead.
Carver has issues, given that (if you're a mage and actually get the opportunity to learn about him) he's got two mage siblings and considers himself The Unfavorite. But when Fenris realizes that Hawke's a mage, he's instantly protective of his sibling, saying that if Fenris has a problem with Hawke, then he has a problem with Carver.
This ties in with a lot of Carver's friendship/rivalry scores. If you do something that could bring you to the attention of the Templars and put yourself in danger, he disapproves. Realizing that, despite his problems with his older sibling, he is trying to look out for Hawke, is incredibly heartwarming when you consider that Carver's feeling of being in Hawke's shadow is such a key part of his character.
During "Wayward Son" in Act 1, Mage Hawke gets one when Feynriel angrily questions why Hawke came after him, thinking he'll turn him over to the Templars for being an Apostate Mage.
Feynriel: Why do you care? You don't even know me?
*Hawke creates a blinding ball of light in one hand*
Hawke: *gently* I am you.
A non-mage Hawke can also gain Feynriel's trust, and the dialogue hints just how protective Hawke is of Bethany and how s/he has spent their entire lives keeping her safe from the Templars:
Hawke: I've spent my entire life fighting to protect my sister from the same fate you fear.
Sebastian shows how much a bro he is when chatting with Fenris about the possibility of Fenris training his army if he ever retakes Starkhaven.
Fenris: I'm no leader, and I doubt humans would want me training them.
Sebastian: Then why not train elves? I bet there's plenty who would admire all you've accomplished.
Fenris: I... haven't accomplished anything.
Sebastian: No? You are your own man, living as you see fit. You give yourself too little credit.
Fenris: You are being kind.
Sebastian: Not at all. Think about it.
Mark of the Assassin has a short, but sweet sidequest involving Hawke's mother. If you examine the fountain at Chateau Haine, Hawke explains to Tallis that it's tradition for noblewomen to throw Orlesian coins into the fountain and make a wish. Leandra had a coin collection just for the occasion, but since she married an apostate, the resulting social stigma meant that she wouldn't even be invited to the Chateau. Hawke spends the quest finding Orleasian coins to throw in the fountain in Leandra's stead. Hawke, you big softy.
Not sure of how it works out with other Love Interests, but in Mark of the Assassin, when Carver and a romanced Merrill are looking for Hawke and Tallis to rescue from prison, there is a short but sweet exchange between them goes to show just how much the Love Interest means to Hawke, at least in the eyes of the sibling, and especially how a same-sex relationship is no more unusual than an opposite-sex one.
Carver: Right, lets get to it. My brother/sister will be missing you.
If Isabela is along for the ride and is in a romance with Hawke, she gets drawn into Tallis's debate about having a purpose. When asked directly about not having a purpose:
Isabela: I... I have purpose. I have Hawke.
What's particularly heartwarming is the look on Isabela's face. MotA happens before the final affirmation of the relationship at the Gallows: Isabela looks a little unsure, a little bemused at what she's saying, but despite her personal doubts she's still sticking with Hawke.
Carver gives this one simple line in Mark of the Assassin if he is a Grey Warden.
Carver: "Running around with you has made me realize just how much I miss it.
Aveline and Varric have this banter during Act 3 that never fails to make me go "Awwww...":
Aveline: You always talk about how much you hate commitment, yet here you are six years later, still at Hawke's side.
Varric: Aveline, I thought you'd have noticed by now: I lie a lot.
At one point during Mark of the Assassin, an Orlesian asks you to help find his two missing dogs, as well as a quest to find an antidote for wyvern poison. The two seem unrelated, but then you see a dog elsewhere in the woods. He leads you towards another dog, lying injured on the ground. You can give him the antidote and save its life.
Not to mention the Orlesian's reaction at the end of the quest. Throughout this DLC, Orlesians are usually shown as the typical evil fops. However, this man is genuinely thrilled to have his dogs back safely. Awwww.
During the Legacy DLC you have to kill an old friend of Varric's who's in the corrupted carta who happened to make Bianca. Hawke can tell him it's his choice on how to handle the situation and Varric says he will take the man out - because he's a danger to Hawke.Just shows how close and how loyal Varric is to Hawke.
If you romanced Isabela during Act 2, and then romance Merrill when the option comes up during Act 3, if both are in the party, Merrill will notice that Isabela seems a bit down, and then blame herself for it (though she doesn't exactly realize the reason). Isabela will then reassure her that everything's fine, and it's not her. Furthermore, if you talk to Isabela about it at The Hanged Man, the only thing she'll really do is note that she's happy for Merrill, and that if Hawke breaks her heart, "I'll cut off your balls." Isabela, thy soft spot is Merrill.
Even the reviewers who hated the game and denounced the 'lame story' praise the characters. They, altogether, are a band of people with various Fatal Flaws, bigotries and resentments makes it all the more real that characters being gay - in either gender - isn't even questioned, or brought up. Characters that are gay aren't in a 'gay relationship'. They are depicted as being in love. The game was even commended by the official GLBTQ board of Seattle, Washington.
The party banter in Legacy is one long one for Isabela, provided she and Anders are in the party together. She doesn't like the Deep Roads one bit and won't hesitate to say so, but the second Anders starts freaking out (as Grey Wardens are wont to do when they begin hearing darkspawn voices in their heads), she sets aside her own discomfort, hops right into therapist mode, and basically holds his hand through the whole ordeal. If you didn't love her after that, you clearly lack a soul.
Even after he was betrayed by his own sister, bringing Fenris - who was told that families are important by Hawke - would lead him to say the same thing to Gamlen's daughter during that secondary quest.
Consider how how much Malcolm and Leandra had to love each other. Malcolm was ready to go through the hell and use a form of magic he deeply despised just to keep his wife safe and ensure their future together. Leandra, on the other hand, didn't hesitate to leave all luxuries and titles behind to stay with her love. She spent years on the run just to keep her husband and children out of the Circle and never expressed any regret about it.
There is a small banter after Isabela's romance is completed with Merrill, and Merrill notices that Isabela is smiling, and wonders if she's thinking dirty thoughts. Isabela just replies that she's... just really happy.
Very minor one, but heartwarming nonetheless, learning of the friendship between Malcolm Hakwe and Maurevar Carver, which proves that a positive relationship between apostates and Templars can exist. It's even more significant in light of the current mage-Templar war.
This also leads to another touching moment with Carver when you give him the letters from Maurevar Carver, for whom he was named. Carver understands that Malcolm looked on him as "a way to look forward" and that his name would always mean "skill thoughtfully applied". If you want to repair the relationship between a Mage!Hawke and Carver, this goes a long way towards that goal.
In the Deep Roads Expedition, there's a moment if you bring the surviving sibling along and their life is in danger. When Stroud states that becoming a Warden is a calling and not just a cure for people infected with the Taint, the icy tone in Hawke's voice makes it very clear that if he doesn't help Bethany/Carver, there won't be much left for the darkspawn to find after Hawke's done with Stroud.
Talking to a maxed friendship Aveline on the mage path. It really shows that she's been with Hawke longer than anyone and has no intention of changing that.
Aveline: Hawke, it's worth it. Now come on. Let's bust some heads like the old days.
The trope pretty much describes Hawke and Aveline on a friendship path, particularly if you do her Act 2 companion quest. While they may occasionally snark at each other, they genuinely watch out for the other. Probably the most poignant part is if you give her the Shield of the Knight Herself. Aveline will get very blustery about having to give up nearly everything of who she was. Hawke can point out that it's just a gift, which softens the Captain's mood considerably and opens up one of the most touching lines in the game. Doubly so if you remember Aveline describes her name as a "wish that her father made."
Hawke: Then accept it on those merits. Nothing more.
Aveline: (softly) It is a fine shield. *beat* You do know that Orlesian smiths slap Ser Aveline's name on every second piece of armor. This really didn't belong to her.
Hawke: (warmly) It does now.
Astonishingly, if you play Mark of the Assassin following Leandra's death but before you start On the Loose in Act 3, Dulci de Launcet - of all people - will express sympathy to Hawke over her murder.
It's a small thing, and a little hard to see, but if Hawke killed Kelder in Act 1, and then walks through the Alienage with Aveline in their party in Act 3 during the day, an elf will come up to them. It's Lia, the girl Hawke saved. She thanks them for rescuing her all those years ago and says you did the right thing by killing Kelder; afterwards, when she walks off, Aveline comments that Lia, inspired by your example, joined the City Guard a few months ago. It's just really nice to see that, for everything else s/he failed at, Hawke was a hero in the eyes of at least one little elven girl.
Can we just emphasize the fact that she is an elf, a member of a race that suffers from persecution and racism and poverty throughout Kirkwall? I can't tell what's more heartwarming - the fact that she's still inspired enough to want to protect a city that likely would have been terrible to her, or the fact that she actually overcomes the Fantastic Racism and gets to protect it.
There's something very, very cool about the fact that all the City Elves bow to Keeper Marethari when she arrives in the Kirkwall Alienage during Night Terrors, especially since tensions between the Dalish and the City Elves often run quite high.
When Merrill's companion quest ends, with either Marethari and possibly the entire clan dead, Sebastian very gently tells her that it was pride that led her to make deals with her demon, and so, rather then trying to make impossible amends, she should admit there are things she cannot accomplish by herself.
Fenris' companion quest during Act 2 is extremely touching, particularly playing a Mage!Hawke. Assuming the right options are chosen, he'll toast to Hawke and say that s/he is the finest person he's ever known.
If Carver joined the Grey Wardens and is on a friendship path with Hawke, he'll be encountered during a quest with Nathaniel Howe.
Carver: Still coming to the rescue after all these years? I've got this under control, but thanks.