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The Griffon and the Raven, Chapter 29

Prompt: Gift

The block of wood just felt right in his palm. Blackwall still wasn’t sure what he wanted to make out of it, but he was content to sit by the fire and turn it in his hands, imagining the possibilities. Ravena’s name day was coming up: Josephine and Varric had been talking, more like plotting, the other day about it and Dorian had caught wind of their plans. Between the three of them, they had concocted up a surprise party for the Inquisitor. Blackwall had been informed to attend, bring a gift, and for the Maker’s sake – this from Dorian – wear something other than that shabby coat of yours.

Party or no, he had already planned on spending the day with Ravena. He also had a recently purchased tunic folded up in a dresser in his lady’s chambers, far away from the smells of the stables. What he didn’t have was a present. Flames, he didn’t even know what she would like.

“Books? She likes reading,” he mused, but then quickly shoved that thought aside. While he was certain she would appreciate a new book, the idea was too generic, especially since he didn’t have a clue as to what genre she favored reading when she wasn’t studying old texts. Purchasing a new journal for her was also out; he’d recently given one to her a few weeks ago once he found out that she had taken to cramping up her writing amid the margins of the little pocket book he had given her when they first came to Skyhold. “A new blade? A whetstone? An upgrade for her armor?” Frowning, he nearly threw the block against the wall in frustration. None of his ideas sounded even remotely romantic. Then again, who was he kidding, he didn’t have a romantic bone in his body. Giving up, he stood and placed the piece of wood on the table next to his unfinished griffon and ran his fingers through his hair as he tried to think.

“She likes flowers.”

Blackwall jumped. “Andraste’s tits, Cole!” he growled, spinning around to face Cole. “What have I said about sneaking up on me?”

“Sorry.” The spirit didn’t look very contrite. “Her father laughs when she makes flower crowns for him to wear on picnics when she is very little. He insists she wear them instead: daisies, cornflowers, those little yellow ones whose petals always get stuck in her hair, but not lilies. Never those; lilies and funerals go together and she hates both. Her heart broke when he drew away from everyone after the service. The too-sweet smell stayed in the hall even after it gleamed with fresh soap.”

“That would be useful, if we had more than a few paltry wildflowers growing here.” He did file that bit of information away for when they traveled through other areas.

Cole tilted his head. “Solas already gave her an adventure. He took her dreaming through her favorite ruin and she saw what it had been like back when people lived there. Her tears stain the pillowcase, but she’s happy, so happy.” He picked at his nails. “Why does she cry when she’s happy? I thought tears were for sorrow.”

“Not all the time. Ravena is special.”

“And you’re special to her.” He stared at some point over Blackwall’s shoulder. “Hands tangled in her hair, dark as a raven’s wing. Waves tumbling down her shoulders, always a surprise at how long it really is. So impossibly soft; it smells like home. She is home.”

“I wish you wouldn’t go wandering around in my head like that.” It unnerved him and often made him wary of what else Cole might pick up on.

“I couldn’t help it, you were too loud. Try to think about her hair more quietly next time.” Moving away from the fire, Cole glanced at him from over his shoulder. “It doesn’t really matter what you give her, she’ll treasure whatever it is because it came from you.”

Blackwall thought Cole’s words over. He picked up the piece of wood from the table and turned it sideways. Taking out one of his smaller knives, he began to chip away at a rough shape.

***

Cloth rustled as Ravena opened a gift. “This is lovely, thank you, Cullen.” She opened up the decorative metal tin, discovering that it was filled to the brim with fragrant tea leaves. A quick sniff told her it was a rose and bergamot blend from Starkhaven that she once offhandedly mentioned that she preferred. “Thank all of you for everything. This has been one of the best name days I’ve ever had.”

Varric swirled his glass of brandy. “We’re just glad to share it with you. It isn’t every day a girl turns twenty.” His grin deepened and he elbowed her. “Again.”

Ravena laughed. “And that, dear man, is why you’re my favorite.” She leaned over and pressed a quick kiss on his cheek.

“And what are the rest of us, chopped liver?” Dorian asked, theatrically turning his nose up in disdain. “Keep that up and I’ll take back my gift.”

She grinned. “The beginner’s primer to Tevene is golden. Thank you, Dorian. I appreciate learning new languages.” She looped her arm around Dorian’s neck and dragged him closer so she could messily kiss his cheek.

“You’ll appreciate it even more when you use it to translate that big anthology of naughty bedtime stories I also gave you,” he replied, turning his face to plant a similarly messy kiss to the side of Ravena’s head.

“Aaaaand that’s why you’ll be glad I gave you the booze, Boss,” Iron Bull stated, taking a hearty swig from his tankard on the opposite side of the table. “You’ll need it to slog through all that Tevinter horseshit.”

Ravena stood up and began to gather her gifts. “Unfortunately, I’m going to have to call it a night. Name day or not, we do have a trip planned bright and early tomorrow.”

Blackwall stood as well. “Here, I’ll help.”

Sera cackled from somewhere underneath them. “Someone hasn’t given her Gracious Ladybits her present yet,” she sing-songed. She grunted as she hoisted herself up, elbows planted on the table’s surface. “Ten silvers says there’s parts tied up in bows involved.” She waggled her eyebrows for emphasis.

Blackwall thought he was too old to blush, but he felt heat rise up the back of his neck and burn his ears. “No,” he said, giving her a mock-glare as he quickly recovered his composure. “But good idea. Should have gone to you first instead of going with my original plan. Would have saved myself a lot of time.” Gathering up the rest of Ravena’s gifts, he waited until she had given everyone assembled parting hugs and thanked them again before the two of them headed towards her chambers.

“Nice save,” she commented, nudging him with her elbow as she winged the door to her rooms open.

“I thought so too.”

She set her gifts atop her desk, her fingers running over the expensive looking jar of Orlesian face cream Vivienne had given her. “You mean there isn’t a…package waiting for me?” she teased, her fingers hooking into the waistband of his trousers. She gave an experimental tug as she pressed up to the balls of her feet to kiss him.

“What, that?” Blackwall drawled, teeth nipping at her lip. He slid his hands down her hips until he could firmly grip her bottom, causing her to gasp against his mouth when he hauled her even tighter to him and purposely ground against her hips. “That’s always there when it comes to you, my lady.”

“Glad to see I have an effect on you.”

“A profound one, I assure you. Now if you’re quite done distracting me, I’d like to give you your present.” Giving her one last kiss, he stepped away and retreated into the small storage area to the right of her bed.

“I see that Sera was right on one thing,” Ravena said, eyeing the white ribbon tied around a square of blue silk.

He grinned and held out the gift. “Happy name day, Ravena.” He watched as she carefully undid the ribbon and placed it on the desk. “What do you think?”

She stared. “It’s beautiful,” she murmured, her finger running over the decorative hair comb sitting in her hand. The entire thing was made out of dark lacquered wood with two birds perched on top of the comb facing the other in such a way that their necks and bellies created a sort of upside down heart shape between them. “Did you make this yourself?” She already knew the answer; the birds were of a familiar style she had often seen him carve at various campfires during his turn at watch. These were more refined and elegantly crafted though, as if he had taken an incredibly long time to make sure he got them just the way he wanted them.

“It took me a while to figure out what you might like,” he confessed.

She threw an arm around his neck and hugged him. “I love it.” With the comb still in one hand, she gave it a critical look. Blackwall had carved delicate looking flowers around the birds. “These look so familiar. I remember as a child that…”

“You would wear them as a crown and they would get stuck in your hair,” he finished.

“How did you know?”

Blackwall rubbed at the back of his neck. “Cole might have helped on that.” The image of Ravena as a girl with petals in her dark hair had stuck with him enough that when it came time to carve them, he’d tracked Cole down to help describe the flowers in better detail.

“Then I need to thank him.” Stepping away, she hurriedly tore out the pins holding her hair up until it fell about her in a mess of waves. A few twists had her hair formed into a quick knot at the base of her neck. Reaching back, she blindly secured the comb. “How does it look?”

“Beautiful,” he breathed. He ignored her protest when he reached out to take the comb out of her hair and set it on the desk, her hair falling almost to her waist. He took a handful and held it to his nose. Now that Cole had pointed it out, he realized that the faint floral scent really did smell like the blossoms that had grown outside his house as a boy. “You are so incredibly beautiful.”

“Gifts and compliments? It really must be my name day.” She stepped forward, making Blackwall take a step backward until the backs of his knees hit the foot of her bed. “However shall I thank such a generous man?” He knew exactly what she was doing when she shoved at his shoulders, which was why when he fell back against the mattress he made certain to grab hold of her waist and take her with him.

“I’m certain you can think of something.”

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
reconnoiterer
Aug. 23rd, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)
Cullen has excellent taste! I love rose tea - rose flavoured anything, really!

...her fingers hooking into the waistband of his trousers. She gave an experimental tug as she pressed up to the balls of her feet to kiss him.

At first I read this part too quickly and thought she was pressing on something completely different to show her intentions ;)
iceprincessd
Aug. 24th, 2015 05:00 pm (UTC)
I have a headcanon that Cullen is the best gift giver in Skyhold. When he hears his soldiers wondering what to give wives/sweethearts, he leans in and offers suggestions because while he might not talk much, he listens and stores information for later.

Hahaha! Maybe Blackwall is into that sort of thing?
reconnoiterer
Aug. 27th, 2015 11:04 am (UTC)
Aweeee yes, I can totally see Cullen as that type. Like, you'd mention you really like something once in passing and he would file it away for an opportune moment - kind of a flip side of being a good battle Commander and always remembering your opponent's old weaknesses and injuries.
iceprincessd
Aug. 27th, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
And he keeps a journal with notes, especially stuff pertaining to his LI: "flowers good, but daisies make her sneeze. Unfortunate previously unknown allergy to strawberries, stick to something else next time."

Oh no. Now I have a picture of him tackling the subject of wooing his sweetheart with tactics because that's how he handles everything else. Then he gets super embarrassed when she finds his mini-War Table and...

Damn it, Cullen. Why do you have to be so flipping adorkable?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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