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The Griffon and the Raven, Chapter 23

Prompt: Quiet

Note: And now I'm as caught up with the prompts as I can. There's a few that still need to be written before I can do another posting blitz, but I'm hoping to get them done by next weekend.


For all the noise during the day, Griffon Wing Keep was surprisingly quiet at night. Ravena sat near the campfire they had made near the main tents, her knees up to her chin. She couldn’t hear him, but she had spied Blackwall’s familiar silhouette along the battlements where he and Warden Stroud had gone to patrol. Who she could hear was Varric, mumbling in his sleep about advanced trigger release techniques, much to her and Hawke’s amusement.

“It’s good to know that he hasn’t changed,” Hawke said, sitting in a similar fashion next to Ravena. She stretched her legs out and stared up at the sky. “I have missed him.”

Cassandra leaned back on her hands. “He does grow on you,” she agreed with a sneer. “Like a fungus.”

“Come on, Cassandra,” Ravena teased. “Admit that you like Varric just as much as we do.”

The Seeker’s eyes narrowed. “He is a liar. A cheat. An all-around scoundrel.”

“Which is exactly why we adore him.”

Hawke snickered. “You know, Inquisitor, I do believe that we could be friends.”

“Then please, call me Ravena.”

“And you must call me Elsa.” She sighed. “Actually, I’ve missed this. It’s been lonely on the road by myself. Stroud makes for good company most of the time, but it isn’t the same as having fellow ladies to talk with.”

“You didn’t need to be alone,” Cassandra started. She seemed to realize that her tone was a little confrontational, because she gave them an apologetic look. “What about your other companions?”

“Aveline stayed in Kirkwall to help restore order. Isabela and Fenris ran off together and I haven’t heard a word from both. My guess is that they’re sailing around on the Captain’s new boat and killing Tevinter magisters wherever they find them.”

Ravena nodded. “You’re close. Varric told me some details. They’re doing just as you said, but as far as he knows, separately.”

“Ah. Well, I’m sure that they’d find the other, should they want to. Merril traveled with me until we met up with another Dalish clan. She looked happy to be back with her people, and I wish her well.” Hawke stared into the fire. “Anders is dead. He was a dear friend, you know. All the stories out of Kirkwall always forget that.”

“What was he like?” Cassandra asked, moving closer to them.

“He was…troubled. He never slept enough, never ate enough. He was far too serious for his own good, except for little moments when his sense of humor peeked out. I can only guess that was how he was like before he merged himself with Justice. Yet he was kind to people in need; even if he hadn’t been a friend, I would have been compelled to help him with his clinic.” Her brow furrowed. “He told me that he didn’t blame me for it, at the very end. I sat there with his blood staining my hands and stared at his face, realizing at that moment that I had known this man for nearly a decade and yet I had never seen him look as peaceful as he did when he was dead.”

Ravena looked at the younger woman, who had been a cheerful yet calming presence all day, suddenly close in on herself. “And what of Sebastian?” she asked, hoping to steer the subject onto lighter territory. “Varric said the two of you were close.”

“We were married, once.” Hawke’s fingers went to the necklace she wore, her nails tapping on the simple silverite ring that was threaded there. Her lips curled up into a fond smile and she let out a little huff of amusement. “It was rather unplanned; Isabela had just gotten a ship and we were all on deck celebrating. Sebastian and I had far too much to drink, and though neither of us can remember the details, apparently we asked our newly coined Captain to marry us on the spot. Seeing that Isabela has a romantic streak underneath all the perviness and always wanted to marry someone, she happily performed a handfasting.”

“Handfastings only last…”

Hawke quietly interrupted Cassandra. “A year and a day, yes. It’s one of the main reasons Isabela did that ceremony; she figured that if we were unhappy in the cold light of sobriety, then the easiest way to cancel the marriage would be to wait out the statute of limitations. No harm, no foul.” She tucked her necklace back against her armor. “The time limit ended three weeks ago. Long before our time had run out, Sebastian asked me to permanently marry him and I said yes, but with the way things are…” she spread her hands out in front of him and sighed.

Still trying to lighten the mood, Ravena leaned forward. “Is he as handsome as everyone says? I’ve never met him, and the only two correspondences I’ve had with him have been about business, but I did get a chance to meet his father and an older brother, once. They were striking men.”

Elsa smiled. “You should mention that to him if you write him again. He loves it when someone tells him about his family. And no, he isn’t as handsome as people say.” Hawke’s eyes twinkled in mirth. “He’s better.”

“It’s the Starkhaven accent, isn’t it? There was a time when I made it a point to work out of their Chantries, either in Starkhaven proper or in the outlying territory, just to hear that deep, rolling brogue.” She sighed appreciatively.

“Ach, and what of it, lass?” All three women jumped up when Knight-Captain Rylen walked past them, his lips turning up into a smirk as he caught the last of their conversation. “Us lads know our voices can make the ladies swoon, ‘tis why we thicken our accents and speak in such an exagggeraaaated manner at all times.” He winked at them knowingly before tipping his hand to his helmet in a good-natured salute and casually walking away.

Elsa stared red-cheeked and wide-eyed at Ravena, who stared back, her hands clasped over her mouth. Both of them slowly turned towards Cassandra, who broke the silence first by giggling.

After that, it was pretty much a free-for-all of muffled laughs and snorts around the fire.

***

“Well, we’ve spoken at great length about my significant other now,” Hawke said, passing the wineskin she’d managed to wriggle out of Varric’s rucksack.

“And it has been enlightening, to say the least,” Cassandra commented. “I always thought Varric had made up half of the things in The Rogue and the Reformed Rake.”

“Oh, no. He came to me for some first-person perspective on a scene or two. Let’s just say that Sebastian got a thorough teasing during card games at the Hanged Man after Varric wrote Chapter Nineteen, which I paid dearly for in private.”

Ravena passed the wineskin to Cassandra. “Something in your tone tells me that you weren’t all too upset about your punishment.”

Hawke grinned wickedly. “No. No, I was not. In fact, what happened back home pretty much inspired Chapters Six through Ten of his second installment of Swords and Shields. Aveline was starting to get suspicious, so I had to take one for the team.”

Cassandra sat up straighter. “You mean to say that the Guard-Captain is based on…”

“If we were still in Kirkwall, I’m sure Aveline would have killed him several times over by now.” Looking towards the battlements, Hawke kicked at Ravena’s foot. “Yet speaking of significant others, how is it with you and your Warden?”

Cassandra snorted. “They are joined at the hip.”

“Can you blame me? Look at the man, he’s gorgeous.”

That earned a trademark huff. “If you like the wild, overgrown look. I prefer my men more clean-shaven, or with just the smallest hint of stubble. Yet Blackwall is a good man, loyal and honorable. I do find those qualities attractive.”

“I’ve been trying to talk him into letting me trim his beard, but he’s ridiculously attached to it. It’s a good thing that I find the look attractive on men who can pull them off, which he can definitely do.” Then she paused. “Wait. Clean shaven? A hint of stubble? Why dear Seeker, are you telling us that you have a thing for our Commander?”

“You know, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him, and now that we’re both not neck deep in blood magic and Mage-Templar feuds, he’s rather pleasant. The way he’s taken to styling his hair makes him incredibly handsome, I think.”

Cassandra went ivory pale, then turned as red as a beet. “No!” Her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms defensively. “I am friends with him, yes, but that is all. I have great admiration for the man, for what he is going through with the lyrium.”

Ravena and Elsa shared a look. Just like Varric said, it was downright eerie to see the same thoughts going through her head reflected back at her. “And I admire him for that as well,” she said, her tone gentle. “I apologize for the teasing.”

“Yes, as do I.”

Cassandra nodded. “I am not blind; he is an attractive man. It’s just that…” she sighed. “He wouldn’t even think to look in my direction anyway.” The last was quickly said in a barely audible grumble that confirmed Ravena’s suspicions. Cassandra suddenly turned to stare at Varric, who was still blissfully unaware of their conversation. “Don’t tell Varric.”

Hawke held out her hands. “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.”

Ravena mimed zipping her lip and locking away a key. “If he hears anything, it won’t be from us, you have our promise. Yet you should prepare yourself for a few working titles thrown your way. Perhaps something like the Lion and the Seeker or somesuch.”

Hawke shook her head. “No, too revealing. It would never get past his editors. Yet there would definitely be Lion-something in the title, that’s for sure.”

Cassandra sputtered. “You don’t think that he’d…but…” Her eyes narrowed. “I would kill him.”

Hawke eyed the woman’s clenched fists. “Just don’t beat him up too badly. I’d love for my trusty dwarf to stay the way he is.”

“And besides, he has his hands full right now,” Ravena assured her. “Why do you think I keep taking him out on field missions with me? That way he’s too busy or tired to even think about polishing up all the things he writes in that little notebook of his.”

“Oh, he still has that? I nicked it out of his pocket one night when we were camped out at the Wounded Coast, but I couldn’t read his shorthand. It’s all squiggles and dashes and some other symbols I’ve never seen before.”

“That’s because I write in code and only my publishers, Rivaini, and I know the cipher.” All three women jumped at Varric’s low, sleep-graveled voice. “Good night, Hawke, Dusty. And don’t worry, Seeker. I’ve got Swords and Shields to finish and then I’ve got to get started fleshing out Dusty and Hero’s story before I even dream about figuring out a plot worthy of Curly. That’s something worth taking my time on.” With that, Varric turned around with a chuckle, presenting his back to the women as he fell back asleep.

“I told you, not a single paragraph!”

“I will murder you and make it look like an accident.”

Hawke couldn’t stop the laugh from spilling out at Ravena and Cassandra’s faces. “Oh, it feels good to be on the opposite side of this for once! Not to worry ladies, you’re both familiar with his writing; he’ll make sure all the romantic scenes are tastefully done.”

Their little party broke up soon after. Cassandra retreating to the tent she’d set up, Ravena to one of the ramparts. It didn’t take long before the rogue’s silhouette was joined by a taller, bearded one. Elsa stared at them, glad that the Inquisitor had found someone to help share the burden of her title. Friends were good, and while she hadn’t met everyone in the Inquisitor’s inner circle, the ones she had met told her Ravena was in good company. Yet there was something to be said about having a partner, someone to trust and speak your fears plainly to in the middle of the night, whose support went far beyond what friends alone could give. Maker knew that having Sebastian with her had made the title of Champion easier to bear. She sighed wistfully as Ravena tipped her head to offer up a kiss for Blackwall. While she was happy for her, Hawke couldn’t help but feel a bit envious. She reached into her armor and fished out her necklace, her lips lingering on the silverite ring.

“Soon, my love,” she whispered, closing her eyes. If she imagined hard enough, she could almost bring up the sense memory of her favorite archer’s arms circling around her.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
reconnoiterer
Aug. 13th, 2015 02:42 am (UTC)
One big lump comment coming up...
First of all - let me apologize for the lateness of my comments! I actually read through most of these while killing time at the airport over the weekend - a much needed distraction!

I was so disappointed by the lack of in-game Stroud/Blackwall interactions. I love me some Orlesian Wardens (okay, Wardens period ;) so that those two old buddies could catch up and... NOTHING. Not even a "uhhh that must have been a totally different Warden Constable Blackwall you knew...". I like to imagine that the real Warden Blackwall and that moustachioed babe Stroud were old drinking buddies when they happened to be in the same place at the same time and maybe he was just too preoccupied with all that blood-magic to really care at the time. Or, better yet, maybe he DID notice and pulled Blackwall aside for a srs bsns "I'm on to you" chat. Maybe leading into some snarky "oh yes, I'm afraid I know many tales of Warden Blackwall" comments in that amazing Stroud voice...

I like that you gave them both some real older-couple faults - like being super self-conscious even though you're supposed to be ~responsible and mature~ or whatever!

Obvs I imagine papa Vael as Sebastian with some real nice silver streaks in those auburn waves. I don't know if we've ever fangirled about it before - but I totally headcanon that he and Nathaniel knew each other during Nathanial's time in the Free Marches (since they are basically the same person in a lot of ways ;) and that he and Sebastian got up to allllll kinds of mischief that their stern dads would absolutely not approve of - before going on to their separate angst-lord fates. Like... maybe someone looses their pants in an archery competition? haha
iceprincessd
Aug. 13th, 2015 02:58 am (UTC)
I am on mobile and can't give you a detailed reply to this until tomorrow because my stupid phone keeps on autocorrecting everything, but I wanted to say:

I ❤️ you for the Stroud love. And get out of my head with the troublemaking Messeres Howe and Vael!! Papa Vael probably had it with their shenanigans, which is why Seb ended in the chantry and Nate skedaddled off with a "Howe out!"
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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