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The Griffon and the Raven, Chapter 38

Prompt: Family
Note: Fergus wanted to make an appearance in this story, and when Fergus asks for something, I typically indulge him.

It didn’t take Morrigan and her son long to settle into Skyhold. The pair of them kept to themselves, preferring to stay close to the Chantry gardens. It was quiet enough, and the few people that milled about gave Kieran all the socialization Morrigan was comfortable with him having. Ravena herself had only seen glimpses of the boy a handful of times, but it was enough to form an impression of a bright, curious child, much like her own nephews and nieces. She liked him instantly.

One afternoon, she made a point to visit her arcane advisor. They spoke at length on various topics, but Ravena’s eyes always lingered on Kieran, who was sitting at a nearby bench with a large book in his lap. He was engrossed with the words on the pages and she made a mental note to see what subjects interested him so she could supply him with more books.

“He looks like his father,” Ravena said quietly during a lapse in conversation.

Morrigan straightened, instantly on the defensive. “And how would you know what his father looks like?” she asked, her tone cool where it had only moments before been slightly warm.

“I was in Ferelden shortly after the Blight. Tales of the Hero and the woman he loved ran rampant.” She arched her eyebrow. “Besides, you yourself have slipped and mentioned your Warden several times.”

“Then I guess you have found me out.”

“Even if I hadn’t, I’m familiar with the Couslands. Aidan and Fergus both inherited their father’s eyes.” Ravena braced her weight on one leg. “Before you ask, I’m familiar with them on a working basis that turned into one of friendship. My father has one of the largest fabric productions in the Free Marches in his bannorn and Teyrn Bryce wished to conduct business. I was fourteen when the Teyrn and his eldest son first came to visit.”

“You mentioned Aidan. Surely you must have met him before?”

Ravena nodded. “Yes. My first solitary trip into Ferelden happened when I was in my twenties. Several important tomes in Highever’s chantry had been damaged in a late spring flood. Teyrn Bryce requested someone to come repair what they could, and one of my specialties is book restoration. When he found out who the Chantry was sending, he insisted that I spend the entirety of my stay in his home.” She smiled fondly. “Fergus and I became dear friends, but I didn’t see much of Aidan; he was more interested in traipsing around Highever’s village or wandering the fields with Arl Howe’s youngest son than lingering in the family library. I do remember that he had a terrific sense of humor and could put a smile on even the dourest of faces.”

Morrigan huffed out a delicate snort. “It would seem as if he has retained that trait,” she said, her chilly demeanor softening once more.

Ravena led them both to a bench further away from Kieran. “Does Fergus know about his brother?”

“That he’s away looking for a method to rid Wardens of the Taint? Yes.” She looked behind her shoulder. “That Aidan is a father? No.”

“I spoke with Fergus shortly after I learned what happened with his family. Devastated would be too gentle of a word to describe him. To know that he has family beyond his surviving sibling…”

“How exactly should I broach the subject?” Morrigan cut in. “Shall I knock on the castle door and drop the information on his doorstep?”

Ravena shrugged. “Knowing Fergus, he would probably be fine with that method. Surprised, yes, but ultimately fine once he adjusted to the news.”

“Just what is your sudden interest in me and my son?” Morrigan asked, crossing her arms over her chest. “You’ve not given us much thought before aside from the usual politeness you show everyone else.”

Ravena pulled out a letter from her pocket. “I received a message this morning from Teyrn Fergus Cousland himself. He’s planning a trip to Skyhold sometime in the near future to solidify ties. I thought I would speak to you first before welcoming an old friend into my home, to give you time to decide if you’d like to take the opportunity to introduce your son to his uncle or not instead of having it sprung on you all at once.”

Morrigan sat back. “That is…unexpected.”

“I’m not terribly fond of surprises, especially when they could have been avoided by someone telling me a truth before I found it out on my own,” Ravena replied. “I figured you might be the same.” She hesitated for a brief second before letting her hand lightly touch the other woman’s fingers. “I won’t tell you what to do, or what you should do. I just wanted to give you some options to consider.”

She got up, feeling as if their conversation was over. “Inquisitor?” Morrigan called over her shoulder.

“Yes?”

“I thank you, for giving me the choice. I appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome.” She stared at Kieran, who had moved on from being engrossed with his book to staring up at the clouds overhead. “The bonds between family don’t necessarily have to be made of blood, you know. I’m certain Fergus would welcome you just as warmly as Kieran.”

“I’ve…never had a family,” Morrigan confessed. “Aside from my mother, who wasn’t much of the maternal figure. What is it like, having siblings?”

Ravena sat back down. “I grew up in a very loud household,” she said. “My brothers and I are relatively close in age, so we often ran through the keep and the surrounding fields together. As the youngest and the only girl, there were times where they were extremely protective of me, but they mostly treated me as if I were merely another younger brother to run wild with. There was teasing and bickering and the occasional fistfight that my mother had to break up, but there was also kindness and a great many welcome shoulders to cry on or to share good news with. We were never a family that hid our affections for the other, and all of us knew how very much we were loved, not only by our siblings, but by our parents as well. Our parents may not agree with every one of their children’s decisions or personalities, but they love us nonetheless.”

“Aidan spoke of his own family in a similar manner. He was exceptionally close with his brother and proud to have been an uncle.” Morrigan looked over at her son, a gentle smile curving her lips. “Perhaps family is what Kieran needs.”

“Perhaps it’s what you need as well.” Before Morrigan could answer, Ravena turned away and headed to Josephine’s office.

Stepping in, she smiled warmly at Josephine and sat at the chair closest to her desk. “Afternoon, Josie. So tell me, is this what my diplomats do when we finally get a well-needed break from the action?”

“Until scouts come back from various places with reports and we send you off to parts yet unknown, yes. It gives me time to focus on other trade matters. Your brother, on the other hand, was starting to feel a little confined after getting caught up on his work. I sent him to the training yard before he drove us both crazy with his pacing.” Josephine stood and poured two cups of tea for them. “Is there something on your mind?”

“Actually,” Ravena started, accepting her cup and taking a sip. “I’m going to be writing a letter to Teyrn Cousland and wanted to know if you had anything you might want me to add.”

She pulled out a fresh sheet of stationary. “No, nothing comes directly to mind. What were you thinking of writing?”

“Well, seeing as we don’t have any plans to leave for the foreseeable future, I would like to tell Fergus that he is most welcome in Skyhold. I look forward to his visit.” She meant it too; after her trip to Highever in her youth, she and Fergus had become close friends. Work had prevented her from visiting more often, but she had been present for his wedding and his son’s naming ceremony. After the Blight, she made a point to keep in touch with him through letters. She felt guilty that she hadn’t thought to personally write him since the events at the Conclave, and she was looking forward to catching up with him. “I was also going to ask him if the soapmaker in the village still makes this most amazing smelling soap out of goat’s milk, and if so, request that he bring several cakes of it along with him.”

“I have heard of this soap,” Josephine said, a lengthy list of things needed to be completed before the Teyrn’s visit already materializing on the stationary. Leaning closer, she winked. “If you could, please request an extra bar for me as well.”

Ravena visited with Josephine for a while before excusing herself and heading up to her chambers. She already had much of her letter drafted in her head, but she stopped when she got to the top of the stairs and spied Blackwall. He was sprawled out on her bed, a battered looking copy of Hard in Hightown hanging from his fingertips. She hadn’t seen much of him lately except for at mealtimes and a few hours in the evenings, mostly because he had dedicated the majority of his waking hours in Skyhold to helping in the training yard. She’d spied on him on a few occasions and instead of standing to the side and barking orders, she noticed that he waded in and got a little more hands-on, much like Cullen often did. In fact, the two of them had hosted a sparring clinic one afternoon that had attracted a great many onlookers, mostly due to the fact that both men were stripped to the waist. It had been a good match with both combatants equal in skill, but she, like the majority of the women who had gathered, hadn’t really been paying attention to the tactics and techniques either participant had been patiently explaining. Unlike the other women, she hadn’t given Cullen a second thought beside an initial admiring glance. She grinned as she remembered how she had cornered Blackwall in the storage room they used to house the Inquisition forces’ practice weapons once their clinic was over. She had gained a new bruise on her knee from that one, but it had been worth it to look up and see Blackwall lose himself in her touch while trying to keep as quiet as he possibly could, his hand tangled in her hair as his back arched away from the door she had shoved him against.

Silently padding over to the bedside, she gently took the book from his slack fingers and marked his page before setting it aside. He must have been exhausted, because he didn’t wake when she brushed a kiss across his brow. Ravena’s eyes went to her desk, where she knew letters and reports were waiting for her. She had spent much of her day addressing them, but the stack never seemed to shrink in size.

With that in mind, she didn’t feel the slightest bit of guilt when she slipped into bed with Blackwall, her arm draping over his chest as she curled up close to him. He didn’t wake, but he did shift slightly to his side, which brought him closer to her. Sighing contentedly, she closed her eyes and began to relax.

Letter writing would just have to wait.

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