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The Griffon and the Raven, Chapter 2

Prompt: Cold
Pairing: Ravena/Blackwall
Words:1,962
Rating: G


Ravena usually didn’t mind the cold – she and her cousin had spent nearly two years in Haven helping Brother Genitivi unearth the temple of Sacred Ashes once the Blight was over. She remembered those first days where wonder at something so completely untouched warred with the pain that came from numb fingers and toes. Henri had refused to wear gloves while cataloging artifacts and it was a minor miracle that she’d been able to stave off frostbite before he lost a finger.

That first exploratory year had been one of the best years of her life, even if it had also been one of the coldest. Sleeping in the Temple was definitely out of the question due to the many layers of ice and snow that had crept in over the years. She could clearly remember huddling against her cousin and several other researchers for warmth at night, a small side chamber of the nearby church the only room remotely suitable to sleep in.

It felt odd to walk around that very same church now. It was much larger than the original building, warmer too, and Ravena was comforted by the fact that most of the original work in the basement area had been left intact even if the rest of the structure had been given a major upgrade. Ghosts seemed to cling to nooks and crannies: there was Brother Genitivi exclaiming over a translation, her cousin’s dark head bent close by as he tried to decipher the rest of the puzzle. Here was her own shadow, ecstatic that the text from so many books they had hauled from the Temple were still in good condition and sorrowful when she discovered several priceless manuscripts beyond her skills of restoration.

It was hard to believe that ten years had already passed since that first breathless view of the temple. All of that hard work and long hours painstakingly making sure that every detail was historically accurate was now gone, reduced to rubble in the aftermath of the Conclave. She couldn’t help but mourn the loss.

Ravena pushed open the doors of the church and had to close her eyes at the sudden blast of wintry air. She had spent her recent years working with her cousin in warmer climates, basking in the warm Antivan sun and enjoying the pleasantly temperate winters of Nevarra. To say that she wasn’t used to the sudden gusts of freezing air that stung her cheeks and chapped her lips was an understatement.

Her boots crunched in the snow as she made her way towards the smithy. At least it was warm beside the forge, and her business was conducted in relative comfort. She was distracted partway between deciding what sort of leather to use to craft a new set of armor by someone she caught out of the corner of her eye. Blackwall was leaning against a stone half-wall, his arms crossed over his broad chest and his face tilted up as he regarded the Breach with narrowed eyes. Ravena had to admit, he cut a remarkable profile; he had an air about him of a man who knew who he was in the world, of someone who could be menacing to his foes and yet equally protective of his allies.

The fact that Ravena thought he was incredibly handsome didn’t hurt either. He wasn’t handsome by conventional standards, what with his crooked nose and slightly unfashionable beard, but something drew her to him. His eyes were wary of her when they first met, narrowed in suspicion, but once she explained herself and her reasons for seeking him out, he had relaxed. The earnestness in his face had tugged at something in her and she often wondered just what he would look like if he stared at her in desire. Would his eyes go glassy with want or would they darken, his pupils expanding until there was only a thin ring of grey showing? The idea of being pinned by such a striking gaze made her tremble; the cold not having anything to do with the gooseflesh that suddenly broke out over her skin.

He seemed to feel her stare. Slowly, he turned his head in her direction and gave her a lazy smile, tipping his head in greeting. She returned his smile and absently nodded to Harritt, hoping that she didn’t accidentally give Varric the wrong improvement in the process. After the smith assured her that the finished piece would be delivered as soon as it was complete, Ravena thanked him and made her way towards the Warden.

“Afternoon,” Blackwall drawled as she drew near.

“Hello.”

“Nice set of armor. For the dwarf – what’s his name again?”

“Varric. Yes, I thought he could use an upgrade.”

“He’s a good man, keeps your flank covered well.” He leaned further against the wall and regarded her. He was tall, yet he didn’t look down at her like some other men might. Ravena was not a short woman, and she found that she liked the fact that there were only a few inches of height apart, the top of her head neatly reaching his chin. “Speaking of, you might want to invest in some new gear for yourself.”

“Oh? I thought the armor Harrit had supplied was well constructed.” Honestly, she could use another set, especially when dealing with despair demons. She shivered just thinking about how badly her arms and legs had frosted over dealing with the last rift they had seen in the Hinterlands. She just chose to tough it out because she felt that her companions deserved the upgrades more than she.

“It is, if you’re dealing with low-level enemies. The demons and bandits that we’ve been facing are just a tad bit tougher than what you’re wearing.”

She grinned up at him. “Oh, so you’re comfortable with we now, aren’t you?”

He returned her grin. “And here I thought we were building a rapport.” His tone was light, mirroring her earlier teasing. Ravena had to swallow hard at the way that his eyes looked at her, at how the corner of his mouth twitched ever so slightly. Maker’s breath, I’ve always had a weak spot for beards.

“Oh, we most definitely are,” she told him, unable to stop her voice from dropping a tone lower than usual. It had the unintended yet completely welcome effect of Blackwall’s eyebrow quirking up in interest. Clearing her throat, she tried to dispel the butterflies that had suddenly taken up residence in her stomach. “And I wanted to thank you, for the cover earlier.”

“It was nothing.”

“You ran across an entire battlefield to guard my left side.” She had been surrounded by demons and on the verge of being completely overwhelmed when she heard a loud battle cry to her left. All of a sudden, Blackwall was at her side, carving a path for her to regroup and continue with her usual flanking attacks.

“As I said, it was nothing.” A harsh gust of wind blew and he noticed how several strands of hair flew free from her bun and waved in front of her face. “Cold?”

She shivered again, part from the way he looked at her, but mostly from the temperature. “Just a bit.” Her fingers felt like icicles and she clasped them together to try to get some feeling back in them.

Impulsively, he reached out and took her hands in his. “Maker’s breath, you’re freezing. Why aren’t you wearing gloves, woman?” She didn’t think he was even aware of his movements, but she stifled a surprised gasp when he brought their joined hands close to his mouth and blew, his breath warm on her frozen fingers.

“Gloves felt odd on the Mark at first,” she explained. “And I felt plain silly wandering around wearing only one.” Unlike her, Blackwall wore gloves, but Ravena could still feel heat from his hands radiating out onto hers.

He turned her hands over and regarded her left palm. “Does it hurt?” he asked, fingers tracing along the edges of the Mark. When there were no rifts around, it looked as if she merely had an odd-shaped scar, a rough circle of jagged and raised edges skirting along her palm.

“Not really, not anymore. Not like it first did,” she admitted, distracted by the way his finger pressed against the pad of flesh between her index finger and thumb. “It itches from time to time, but I can ignore it for the most part.” She stared at their hands, marveling at how hers were dwarfed by his. For the first time in a very long time, she felt delicate, feminine.

“Perhaps you could start considering gloves now?” he asked, his thumb absently running along her palm. “Not that I mind acting as her ladyship’s personal hand-warmer.”

She laughed. “You know, you’re strangely charming for a man I found wandering the woods,” she teased.

“I’ve always found myself more odd than charming,” he admitted, stepping closer. “But I’ll take a compliment from a lady. They’re hard to come by these days.”

Ravena took a little half-step closer to him. “Compliments,” she started, tilting her head slightly to the side. “Or ladies?”

He grinned. “Both.” Letting go of one of her hands, he tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “So, is there something large and heavy you need moved?”

She wanted to lean into his touch. “That would be a waste of your particular talents.”

“Oh, really?”

Ravena couldn’t help but shiver at the way he had pitched his voice. “You’re much better suited to standing in front of dragons while they try to eat you.” It was so easy to flirt with this man. She found it a comfort to have been able to find someone in the middle of all this chaos who seemed to have an interest in her as a person instead of merely the Herald of Andraste.

Blackwall chuckled, and the deep rumbling sound traveled down her spine almost like a caress. “I have to say, my lady, you’re unlike any woman I’ve ever met. I’m flattered that you’d spend any time with me.” He leaned in and Ravena decided that she could definitely get used to seeing him look at her with such frank admiration. “I enjoy your company.”

“And I enjoy being in yours.” She could have continued on talking with him forever, but Harrit seemed to decide that it would be a great time to interrupt, shouting from his forge about forgetting to mention an upgrade to her current armor he had in stock.

“You’d better give it a look,” Blackwall said, bringing her hand up to his lips. Ravena held her breath as he kissed her knuckles, his eyes never once leaving hers. “I’d hate to see you injured out on the field.”

Ravena reluctantly stepped away and went back to the forge. The added protection for her arms was definitely a bonus, especially since it was supposed to protect against elemental damage. They hadn’t yet found the headquarters for the rogue mages hiding in the Hinterlands, but she knew that having extra protection would help their efforts of securing the roads for the refugees.

She happened to look up from her purchase in time to see Blackwall still staring at her. The look in his eye, even from such a distance, made her completely forget about the cold.

Several days later, a pair of warmly lined gloves mysteriously appeared in her quarters. Ravena ran her fingers over the buttery soft leather and instantly knew who they had come from. Heart light and a spring in her step, she made her way down to the smithy, thoughts on how she should properly thank her benefactor floating about in her head.

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