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The Griffon and the Raven, Chapter 17

Special shout out to reconnoiterer. All the back and forth conversations and our shared love for grizzlebeast angstlords are pretty much the reasons why I started writing this in the first place. If anyone's curious about what Ravena looks like, the closest I could get to the image in my head is over here. Just age her about ten years or so and you've got her.

Prompt: Name

It felt good to be back in Skyhold after a prolonged absence. Flames, it felt good to be dry, especially since she had spent the better part of her time away on the Storm Coast searching for the whereabouts of Wardens rumored to have been in the area and it had constantly drizzled over her and Blackwall. The rain had followed them all throughout their return trip; outside of her rooms, thunder rumbled ominously as if to herald yet another storm in the near future.

She leaned back in her chair and looked around her chamber. The odd-shaped alcoves framing her bed had been quickly converted in the cleaning and clearing up process to make the room habitable: the one closest to the stairwell now housed her field gear and weapons along with the equipment Henri had shipped to her. He’d included a brief note explaining why he hadn’t accompanied the many crates he’d filled with her journals and restoration tools. Josephine had been puzzled at the note that only consisted of big paper, headache. Have fun with books, but Ravena had explained that it meant the Chantry had tasked Henri with writing up a manuscript that one of the other clerics had been talking with him. Henri didn’t really want to do it, but it was another way to get his work published and noticed, so he tolerated the headache working on a deadline always gave him. It was also his way of telling Ravena that now that she was better equipped, she could head down to the hidden library she had written him about and begin unearthing titles without feeling guilty about her cousin missing out on the fun.

Henri had also been thoughtful enough to include several trunks with her personal possessions. She felt so much better at the sight of familiar clothes and toiletries that she had nearly hugged the items to her chest, much to Cullen’s amusement. The fact that Henri had included an enormously large box of her favorite chocolates he knew she always ate while mulling over theories and logistical issues pertaining to digs made her love her cousin all the more. It had taken some deliberating, but Ravena had finally decided to leave her old gear in the trunks instead of wearing them out into the field, seeing that she was already accustomed to the weapons and armor Harritt had supplied her with. She did trade out the outfit she had taken to wearing around Skyhold with her old clothes, mostly because what she had in the trunks was far more familiar to her and the faint scent of lemon balm and lavender left over from the laundries in Tantervale gave her a grounding sense of comfort in a relatively new place.

The second alcove had been turned into a sort of dressing room, complete with a vanity and mirror. Ravena sat there now, running a brush through her hair. Now dressed for bed in only a short green silk shift with its matching robe, she leaned forward and thought about her most recent outing. Blackwall had been courteous yet somewhat distant throughout their trip, the both of them sleeping in separate tents. Any conversation she had struck up with him had been met with the same familiar warmth as usual, but any time she tried to touch him, he had flinched as if burned. After they had found his Warden-Constable badge, he had seemed even more distracted, his gaze often turned inward and their conversations fading into a somewhat uncomfortable silence. It was a sudden turn from how attentive he had been since Redcliffe, and she had to wonder if she might have done something to turn him away.

Ravena frowned and looked at her reflection. According to the standards set in Orlais, she had never been a striking beauty: her jaw was too square, her cheekbones too high and lips too full. A noblewoman had even once brazenly said that the color of her eyes were too unnaturally bright a shade of brown to ever be popular. Still, she was confident enough in herself to know that she wasn’t horrid; her past lovers and brief romantic entanglements had proven that she was pleasing to the eye. She stood and regarded her figure. Blackwall had certainly been appreciative until late. She set her brush down and let her hands glide over her waist to settle at her hips. She wasn’t as willow thin as she had been as a young girl, and she knew from experience that without regular activity that she could easily put on weight, especially around her middle. Ravena made a face as she poked at her stomach critically. While still slender, she was slightly soft in the belly, even though the weeks of travel and fighting were starting to remedy that. Her hands moved up higher, her palms cupping her unbound breasts. Her skin hadn’t quite given up the fight with gravity, though she guessed that it was only a matter of a few years before things began to eventually sag. With a sigh, she slid her hands up past her collarbones and throat until she held her face in her hands. She’d taken after her father’s side of the family, and the Trevelyan women had always retained a youthful appearance, even in more advanced ages. She recalled a dowager aunt who had delighted in fooling everyone into thinking she was fifteen years younger than her actual age. By all accounts, Ravena figured that she would keep her dark hair for another good twenty to twenty-five years before the first silver strands would appear. Thinking back to that same aunt, she hoped she would emulate her thick head of silken hair, the color gleaming like newly-fallen snow.

“Come off it, girl,” she said to herself, turning this way and that to glimpse at her backside and trim legs in the mirror. “If there’s something wrong, it’s his loss, not yours.” How she wanted to believe that. The truth of the matter was that it hurt to be pushed away. Had this been any other man, she would have been able to easily shrug off his disinterest and move on with her life without any sense of guilt or regret. Instead, she found herself moping and second guessing her decision. The last time they had spoken of their almost-relationship, or whatever they could call this, she had firmly placed the ball in his court to do with it as he saw fit. She had hoped that this trip the two of them had taken together would have either clarified his feelings for her one way or the other, but it had only left things even more muddled, if that was even possible.

“You’re getting touchy in your old age,” she muttered, blowing out the candle on the vanity and padding barefoot out of her dressing alcove. She was about to untie the sash that held her robe closed when she heard the faintest of noises outside her balcony doors. Adrenaline coursed through her veins when she clearly remembered that the now open doors had been firmly shut before she had withdrawn to change for bed. She inched towards her bedside where she kept one of her daggers.

“If you’re planning on assassinating me,” she called out, unsheathing her blade. “You’re going to have to be stealthier than that.” Her heart beat a rapid tattoo against her throat when she saw movement, but then her breath went out on a relived sigh when she realized it was only Blackwall.

“It’s you.” He’d changed out of his gambeson and gloves. She let her eyes rove appreciatively over him. It was so rare to see him out of his armor that it was easy to forget that most of his bulk was padding. What was left over was solid muscle born from years of wielding sword and shield.

“Maker’s mercy,” he rasped, taking in her outfit. He took a hesitant step towards her.

“How long have you been out there?” she asked, setting her dagger aside.

“I had thought you would still be speaking to your advisors,” he started, his eyes following the long trail of her hair where it spilled over her shoulders and ended nearly at her waist. “I wanted to be here when you got back. Obviously, I misjudged the time.”

“I’m glad you came. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

He took another step inside. “I wanted to thank you for accompanying me to that ruin. I wanted to…” He swallowed thickly and moved closer to her until he was inches away. “I just had to see you.” His confession sounded as if it had been wrenched from somewhere deep within himself, as if it had hurt him to voice his feelings. He leaned in and kissed her, his hands gentle as they cradled her face, his thumbs running against her jaw. Ravena sighed and pressed herself against him, relishing the heat that seemed to radiate from his body.

All too soon, he broke away. “No, this is wrong. I shouldn’t even be here.”

She frowned. “I want you here.” She made a move to reach out to him, but he stepped away from her touch.

“I hope you can forgive me for pushing you away,” he finally said.

Her heart hammered in her chest. It sounded very much like he was telling her goodbye. “You had your reasons,” she said cautiously, even as she wanted to rail at him.

“But I can’t just ask you to trust my reasons blindly!” He paced in front of her and raked his hands through his hair.

“No, you can’t. Yet I’m doing it anyway because I care about you.”

“I owe you an explanation for what I did.” He stopped pacing and stood in front of her fireplace. “I know that my actions have been confusing and hurtful, and for that I am truly sorry.”

“Then explain.” She crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her head. “I’m here.”

“What we saw on the Storm Coast: that was my life before you. Crumbling ruins, endless battles, death. How could I drag someone like you into that? I want to give in; Maker knows how much I wish I could.” He turned to her, his face a study of anguish. “I’ve killed before, Ravena. I’ve done things in my past that I am not proud of, things that still haunt me to this day. You’d have no life with me, not the sort of life that you deserve.”

“If you haven’t noticed, crumbling ruins are sort of my specialty. Endless battles, death? Blackwall, look at what we face on an almost daily basis. It’s as if we were made for the other.”

“Ravena, be serious.”

She tilted her head up defiantly. “I am being serious. You say that you regret choices in your past, but tell me, who doesn’t? I’ve done things I’m not proud of either, but those choices, those mistakes, they’re what shape us into the people we are today.”

“I’m not what you want. I could never be what you deserve. I need you to end this, because I can’t.”

Ravena’s eyes flashed in anger. “No.” She poked at his chest with a finger, not caring if he flinched at her touch. “You don’t get to decide what I want or who I deserve. You don’t get to make those choices for me without my say so. As I told you before, I know my heart. The fact that you’re standing in front of me tells me that you’ve come to some decision on your own. So tell me Blackwall: yes or no, do you care for me? Do you want this as much as I do?”

He closed his eyes. “Yes,” he all but growled. “Maker, yes, I want this.”

“Then fight for it.”

Blackwall groaned and lunged towards her. Fisting his hand into her hair, he attacked her mouth with his. She mewled against his lips when his free hand slid down her back, over her backside, and across the back of her leg to hitch her that much closer to him. He tugged at her hair in a way that made her gasp in pleasure, exposing her throat to his teeth and tongue.

“Blackwall…” she gasped, her fingers tugging at his hair to bring him up for another kiss.

He stilled in her arms. “That isn’t my name,” he said. He carefully withdrew from her and went back to the fireplace. “My name is Thom. Blackwall, it’s…” he ran a hand through his hair and his shoulders bunched up in a tense line.

“It’s a Warden thing, isn’t it?” she asked, wondering if his life with the Order was one of his arguments against a relationship with her.

He was quiet before nodding. “I took the name of Blackwall when I joined the Order,” he agreed. “It was a way to distance myself from the life I had before. You are right; the mistakes in our past shape us into what we are today. I’ve never once regretted leaving the name of Thom behind, but it’s a part of who I was, who I am. I need you to know that.”

She closed the distance between them. “Thank you for trusting me with it. What would you like me to call you?”

“Blackwall will do fine when we’re out in the field or in public.” He raised his hand and traced her cheek with his fingers. “Yet when it’s just the two of us, like this, I’d like very much if you called me by my given name.”

She leaned into his touch. “It’s a good name,” she told him. “A good name for a good man.”

He pressed his forehead against hers. “There’s nothing I can offer you,” he breathed, almost as if he were giving her one last chance to back away.

“You’re offering me this.”

“We’ll regret this, milady.”

Her hands went to the sash at her waist. Without a word, she let the robe pool at her feet. “Do you regret this?” she asked, her lips brushing against his. He groaned and she felt his resolve crumble as he clutched her to him, his powerful arms easily picking her up and carrying her to her bed. She savored the heavy weight of him as he covered her, his hands slipping over her shift, calluses catching on the silk.


“I don’t think I could ever regret this, my lady,” he finally answered, head nestled against her chest as their breathing struggled to return to normal. He gave her one last kiss on another cluster of birthmarks he found on the underside of her breast before rolling and taking her with him.

“Me either,” she murmured. Her hands roved over his shoulder and down his arm, fingers tracing the scars she had noticed all those weeks ago when she had rubbed his back. “Why did we wait so long to come to this?”

He held her closer. “I thought that what we had was something easy; a flash of attraction that could be quickly dealt with and then gotten over after a tumble or two, the two of us amicably parting ways afterwards. Then I got to know you and that attraction grew into something more, something I’ve never felt before. I couldn’t treat you as I have treated other women in the past.” He pulled back so he could look her in the eye. “You’re a hard woman to walk away from, Ravena Trevelyan.”

“Good. I don’t want you walking away from me, Thom.” His name still felt foreign on her tongue, but she figured that it would sound more familiar the more she used it.

“I wanted to,” he confessed. “You are an amazing woman. You deserve far better than me, than what I can give you.”

She hushed him with a kiss. “And as I told you, I decide what’s best for me. I make my own choices and I chose you.” She settled down against him, her head pillowed on his chest. “Will you stay with me?”

He pulled the sheets over them to ward off the evening chill. Across the room, he could hear the patter of rain hitting the windowpanes. “Always.”

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