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The Griffon and the Raven, Chapter 19

Prompt: old

Note: while I'm a sucker for a good May-December romance, I really want my Inquisitor to be closer to Blackwall's age range (this has nothing to do for the fact that I'm in my thirties and have started identifying with older heroines, no not at all *whistles innocently*) I sort of wish that the developers would have kept the badger stripe in his beard from his concept art, because holy silver fox, Batman. I may have fudged Blackwall's age some, seeing that I found that he's described as being in his 40's without stating a concrete number. I've probably missed a codex entry that said his exact age, but for the sake of this story, he's the age I state here.


“I still don’t see why you would waste good cheese throwing it down a hill.” Sera argued.

“It isn’t wasting it,” Ravena told her, comfortably settling further into her seat at one of the tavern’s private booths. “We do wind up eating it after the race.”

Sera made a face. “What, after the hill, with all the grass and nasty bits on it? You know what lives on hills? Cows and sheep. You know what cows and sheep do? They piss and leave big old globs of smelly shite everywhere, that’s what. No thanks.”

Blackwall laughed. “I’m sure they wash it down first.” He eyed Ravena. “You do wash it down, right?”

She arched her eyebrow. “No. The turf and anything the wheel happens to roll over adds a distinct flavor to the finished product. Brings out the subtle nuances in certain cheeses.”

“She’s shitting us.” Sera elbowed Ravena. “You’re shitting us, right?”

Ravena couldn’t keep a straight face. “Of course I am. Our family used cheese wheels with a protective wax seal. The Farenholts, however…” She shrugged. “That family is famous for making and rolling down this stinky type of blue-veined cheese that was one of their shop’s bestselling items. It’s delicious in salads or paired with pears and white wine, but structurally unsound for the contest. They never win because most of it crumbles before it even makes it to the halfway point, but the rumor circulating around Ostwick is that after the race they go back and pick up what they can to use as a starter for the next year’s batch, which was why the snobby cheese people you always find at parties swear they taste clover blossoms and delicate grassy notes of flavor when they eat it.”

“You’re kidding me. Hah, fancy nobles don’t know what they’re stuffin’ in their mouths, do they?” Her eyes caught a serving girl carting a tray of food. “Speaking of…” With that, Sera went off, leaving Ravena and Blackwall alone.

“Didn’t you say you grew up in Markham, Blackwall? Ostwick isn’t that far away, I’m sure you made it to the festival at least once or twice.”

“That I did. My family and I went nearly every year when I was a boy.”

“Then you must have seen my family race. My two older brothers were always in the top ten finishers and even won first place several years in a row. My twin brother and I…” she briefly touched the scar on her forehead. “Let’s just say that we were very good at tumbling down the hill and chasing after our runaway wheel. After Raoul broke his arm when we were eleven, Mother forbade us from participating unless we were paired with either René or Robert for supervision.”

“I wish I could say that I did see you, but I stopped attending when I was sixteen. You probably weren’t even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes yet.”

Ravena looked at him and laughed incredulously. “Just how young do you think I am?”

He took a drink from his tankard. “That right there, my lady, is a trap. Any sane man knows that it’s dangerous to ask a woman her age.”

“Humor me.”

“Oh, I don’t know, somewhere between twenty-seven and thirty, if that much?” He winced when she laughed again.

“Remind me to pay you later, and thank you for the massive compliment.” She smirked over the rim of her wineglass. “Twenty-seven. I haven’t seen that age in quite some time. Feels good to know I can still pass for it.”

Now he scoffed. “Oh please. You can’t be that much older.”

She leveled him a glance. “Why not?”

“You just don’t look it. Now I’m sure you’re going to shock me and say that I’m not, in fact, chasing around a woman half my age like everyone seems to gossip about.”

“Well, brace yourself. If demons or darkspawn or whatever else Corypheus decides to throw at us doesn’t kill me first, I’ll be forty this year.” She took a sip of her drink. “And everyone else needs to mind their own damned business or find someone else to gossip about.”

“You’re thirty-nine?”

“Yes. And you’re what, forty, forty-one?”

“I’m forty-three.”

She tilted her head. “You need to tell Varric. He swore you were in your upper fifties, but I’m guessing it’s the beard. Shave it off and it’ll probably lift ten to fifteen years off your face.”

He frowned. “I’m not touching the beard.”

“And I wouldn’t want you to. I’ve grown rather attached to it.” She reached over and took his hand. “Does it bother you that I’m not as young as you thought I was?”

He squeezed her fingers. “Not at all. Though now it makes more sense why you always seem to be more grounded and sure of yourself than most people. I always figured it was because you were so well-traveled.”

“That had something to do with it. You can’t be too flighty when you’re not sure if a ruin is booby-trapped or not. I’ve been told that I’ve always acted more mature than my age, though.”

He brought her hand to his lips. “At least now I can stop feeling guilty about kissing a girl old enough to be my daughter.”

Ravena rolled her eyes. “You thought I was in my late twenties. That would have made me a younger cousin or niece. You aren’t quite that ancient, Granddad.” Standing up, she rounded the table and perched herself atop Blackwall’s knee. “Age is just a number.”

“I agree.” He pulled her closer so she sat more securely in his lap. Leaning over, he kissed the scar on her forehead. “So, this is an old Cheese Roll injury?”

She nodded. “I tripped over my skirts and hit my head on a rock. By the time Raoul and I had made it down to the bottom – and we had caught our runaway cheese wheel and finished in third place, I might add – it looked as if someone had thrown a bucket of blood on me. My face and the front of my dress were a mess. I don’t know what Mother was more upset about, the fact that I ruined an outfit or that I picked up a scar in such a visible place.”

“Head wounds do bleed pretty badly,” he agreed. “Though you might want to tell Varric. He swore you got that scar fighting off monsters in some long-buried tomb.”

“We can’t let him keep thinking I got it doing something daring?”

“What? You received that injury honoring a well-known tradition. That scar, dear lady, was made with culture.” He rested his chin on her shoulder and grinned.

“Oh, that was awful,” she laughed. Standing up, she held her hands out to him. Unable to resist, she added, “You might say that it was downright cheesy.”

“Now that was awful.” Blackwall slung his arm around her shoulder and held her close as they walked out of the tavern.

“What can I say? Just because we might be older doesn’t mean we always have to act our age.”

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