Note: And Fergus wanted to show up again. What Fergus wants, Fergus gets.
Blackwall knew of the Teyrn’s arrival as soon as he saw the contingent of horses arrive in the stables. He’d taken to hiding out in the hayloft instead of his garden room, mostly because it meant that he didn’t have to go halfway through Skyhold in order to go into the kitchens after hours to get something to eat.
He was avoiding people as much as possible these days. Part of it was because he couldn’t bear the looks that people who had once respected him were now giving him, but the other part was because he didn’t want to run into Ravena until she was ready to see him. After her cold dismissal in the Great Hall and the brief encounter in front of her chambers – Maker’s breath, the sight of her tear-streaked cheeks and reddened eyes would haunt him for the rest of his life – he had tried his best to be as unobtrusive as possible.
“You’re like a ghost, but you’re still alive,” Cole said, startling Blackwall out of his morose thoughts. The spirit sat atop several bales of hay, his legs dangling over the edge of the loft.
“Kid’s got a point,” Varric agreed, making his way up the stairs. While he might have tried to keep a low profile, a handful of his friends had come to visit him on a regular basis. Sera and Bull were the most frequent, with Varric and Cole rounding out the group. As for the others, Vivienne rarely paid him any attention, but that was per usual. Leliana was more upset with herself that she hadn’t figured out his true identity on her own. Josephine seemed torn between her loyalty to Ravena and her unshakable faith that everything would turn out right in the end, offering him encouraging smiles whenever she saw him. Cassandra and Cullen still refused to speak to him. Solas had barked out a scathing admonition before stalking off to his rotunda.
And Dorian…the mage had stormed into the stables one night and punched him in the face. Or at least he had tried to, but his fist had ineffectively swished past Blackwall’s ear, seeing as he had reeked of wine at the time. He put up the smallest of fights as Blackwall had led him towards the tavern and left him leaning against a stack of wooden crates just outside the door, slurred curses slipping past his lips.
“And what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?” He asked, keeping his back to the two of them and trying unsuccessfully to look like he was thoroughly engrossed in carving out the details to a toy owl he had planned to make for one of the children living in Skyhold, yet had never gotten to work on before his past had come to light. He stared down at the rough wooden shape, wondering if the little girl he had promised it to even wanted it still, now that everyone knew what a monster he was.
“You need to get out of this funk,” Varric said. “You’ve been skulking about for nearly two months. Time to re-enter the world of the living and put your Big Boy pants on.”
“Perhaps I don’t want to,” he said, knowing full well that he sounded childish.
“Hey, think of us as the advance scouts. If you don’t come out for dinner tonight, Sera and Bull are already planning on ambushing you and wrestling you into a bath and then some clean clothes. We’re trying to save you the trouble.”
Blackwall cringed as he imagined just how Bull and Sera would go about the task. “Why today?” he asked. “Is it because of the Teyrn’s visit? Need to parade me out to show him how the Inquisition treats liars and traitors?”
Varric crossed his arms over his chest. “And we’re putting a stop to this Pity Wagon before it even leaves the stable,” he said, his voice firm. “Yes, the Teyrn is one of the reasons. The other reason is because we’ve been keeping our eyes open and ears down to the ground. You’d be surprised at how many people here really don’t give a damn about your past and actually want to see you around again.”
“Yeah, at first everyone was shocked and surprised, but after a while to process everything, people started remembering the man who taught them how to fight and defend themselves, or this great guy who repaired the roof of their new shelter and carried their kids when the wagon to Skyhold was too full and always gave away his share of the food so someone else didn’t have to go hungry. They’ve all been giving you space to decide what you want to do, but I decided to take it upon myself to drag your ass out of this barn before you start to permanently smell like horse shit.”
“She needs to see you too,” Cole quietly added. “Thoughts shifting around like sand through her fingers. She wants to smile again and Maker, how he makes her smile.”
Blackwall closed his eyes and swallowed past the thick knot that had gathered in his throat. “You really think she wants to see me?” he asked.
“She wouldn’t have thought it if it wasn’t true,” Cole offered. “Will you let us help you?”
Blackwall took a breath and nodded. “I’ll see you both a dinner then.”
Varric jerked his thumb towards the barracks. “First things first, take a bath. I wasn’t kidding about the smell.”
Blackwall took his time in dressing for the evening. He’d picked a light blue tunic that he knew Ravena liked to see him wear and a pair of fawn colored trousers. He’d even taken care to trim his beard from where it had been growing scraggly and unkempt to something more presentable.
“Looking good, Hero,” Varric said as he entered the Great Hall. Tables were laden with food and several dignitaries Blackwall didn’t recognize were seated amongst the usual nobles. “You’re going to knock her socks off.” With that, the dwarf went to sit at the main table where Josephine had planned for him and the rest of the Inner Circle to eat with the Fereldan dignitaries.
Blackwall would have replied, but just then Ravena entered the Great Hall through the door leading to her rooms. It was as if time stood still: instead of her usual pants and blouse, Ravena wore a close fitting gown of midnight blue with silver accents in a style popular in Fereldan courts. It was rare to see her in a dress, but it was even rarer to see her with her hair styled differently. Instead of the normal bun or braid, Ravena had elected to let her hair tumble freely down her bared shoulders. She cast her gaze about the Hall and for the briefest of moments, their eyes locked. It was as if the sky had parted and sunlight shone through after a cloudy day when her red-tinted lips parted into one of the biggest smiles that he had ever seen. He couldn’t help returning it, and he was about to take a step towards her when she spoke.
Blackwall’s heart plummeted and crashed onto the rocks when he heard movement directly behind him. A man, Teyrn Cousland, by Blackwall’s guess, stepped forward. His long legs ate up the distance between them and he enveloped Ravena into an embrace that went well past proper decorum and told everyone assembled there that the Teyrn and the Inquisitor were very well acquainted.
“Maker’s mercy, Ravena. You need to stop growing ever beautiful; else you put my memory to shame.”
Ravena laughed as the Teyrn spun her around. “And you are just as flattering as I remember you. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to greet you at the gates when you arrived; I’ve only just returned from afield myself.”
“No need. Your ambassadors made certain that my men and I are quite comfortable.” He flashed a dimpled smile before grasping her hand in his to press a lingering kiss on her knuckles and Blackwall’s stomach began to unpleasantly roil at the sight, especially when she looked adoringly at the Teyrn.
“Run, I need to run.” Cole looked up at him from under his hat, a concerned expression on his face. “Daggers piercing deep, look at how she looks at him, damn that smug bastard for taking what I threw away.”
“Cole, if you’re truly a compassionate spirit, please,” Blackwall begged. “Stay out of my head until they’re gone.”
Cole’s frown deepened. “You weren’t supposed to hurt tonight,” he said, glaring at the scene in front of him. “Tonight was supposed to be about mending, not…” he made a distressed sound. “Not this.” Without another word, Cole walked over to the far end of the table where Sera, Bull, and the Chargers were sitting. He leaned over at Bull and whispered something into the man’s ear before slipping away and out of the Main Hall. No one seemed to notice his disappearance.
“Well, the kid’s got the right idea,” Bull said, kicking out a chair for Blackwall to sit in.
“What did he say?”
“He said that you need to forget and that he couldn’t do the forgetting for you, so I should help instead.” Tipping back a tankard, he gestured to the bottle of wine in front of them. “What say we get through this dinner and when it’s polite to leave, we head back to the tavern and get you shitfaced?”
Blackwall’s attention was brought back to the head of the table. Ravena was laughing at some story Fergus was telling their companions, her hand on his arm as she sat closer to him than necessary. She seemed to feel Blackwall’s eyes on her, because she looked his way. This time, they definitely made eye contact; she breaking away with a cool, dismissive glance before returning her attention back to her guest, warm where she had only seconds before been glacial. Grabbing the bottle, Blackwall poured himself a healthy serving. “That,” he said, nearly draining it in one go. “Is the best idea I’ve heard all day.”
Ravena took Fergus’ arm as they walked along the battlements. To say that she had desperately needed a diversion such as his visit was an understatement. For the past two months, she’d been following even the tiniest of leads that would get her out of Skyhold, all because she was Void-bent on avoiding Blackwall. It was childish of her and she knew it, but her pride and her feelings were still extremely sore. Brooding alone in her room wasn’t an option; there were rifts that needed sealing and people to help that could not wait until she got over her broken heart. Getting drunk was definitely not an option; she’d already gone that path one night very early on with Dorian. All it had gained her was a sore throat and swollen eyes from crying herself to sleep on top of a killer hangover, and an irritable best friend who was a right grump when hung over as well. Talking about it wasn’t even an option because she felt that no one needed to hear the woe-is-me sob story from her after they had very publicly seen it for themselves; besides, the only one she really felt she could confide in was Cassandra, and the Seeker’s opinion of Blackwall only drove home how foolish Ravena had been to believe every single lie he had fed her.
So she did what any love-spurned woman would do: she went out and killed demons, bandits, Red Templars, and any other foe that was unlucky enough to cross her path. She sealed remote rifts, helped villagers on the most trifling of requests that usually involved running all over the countryside to fetch an object for them, collected mysterious shards and mosaic pieces, and slew the rare dragon.
The dragon part had been completely an accident. She, Dorian, Bull and Varric had stumbled across its lair while exploring. Out of the four of them, Bull had been the only one extremely excited to face it. The rest of them had done a lot of running and, to quote Varric, a lot of not getting killed or burnt to a crisp, thank you very much.
With everything going on, she had completely forgotten about Fergus’ scheduled visit, which was why she had been utterly mortified when she, filthy from the road and stinking of horse and dead dragon, had spotted him in the outer courtyard talking to Josephine and Raoul. Using every bit of stealth she possessed, she had darted into a side entrance and up a rarely used stairwell to reach her room and make herself more presentable.
“You’re distant, Ravena,” Fergus said, bringing her back to the present.
She shook her head. “Sorry, it’s been a very long day.”
“A long few months, more like,” he replied. “Want to talk about it?”
They made their way towards the portion of the ramparts overlooking the tavern. Ravena briefly smiled, hearing the Chargers start up a chorus to a drinking tune while Bull regaled them of their fight with the dragon for at least the fifth time that night. “Not much to say; we’ve been busy going over the…”
“I meant,” Fergus corrected. “What happened in Val Royeaux. Thom Rainier, in particular. I have ears, dear heart. Besides, it’s impossible to miss, since it seems to be the topic of great discussion here.”
She stiffened. “Not much to say there either.” Tearing her gaze away from the tavern, she resumed walking. “Thank you for the soaps, by the way. I was ever so grateful to find them in my rooms when I came back. I doubt you’d appreciate Eau de Dragon otherwise.”
“Sweetheart, you’re one of my oldest friends. I can tell when you’re hurting. All I want is to –“
“The rose scented bars are my favorites. I should have Josephine draw up a contract with your soapmaker to keep us in steady supply. How is Marta, still in the same shop in Highever’s markets?”
He sighed. “And I know you well enough to know when you want to drop a subject. At least let me know if I have permission to bash my fist into this man’s face?”
She rolled her eyes. “I believe there is a line already formed, or at least there was, two months ago.” Ravena leaned against Fergus’ arm. “I’m a big girl, Fergus. I can handle…disappointments on my own. But thank you for your concern.”
He grinned and gestured with his thumb back at the ruckus they were walking away from. “Yes, I’m hearing how you handle things. Though I don’t believe she climbed the dragon’s back and stuck her blades into that fucker’s skull has been your preferred method of choice before.”
“Thanks to Bull, I’m never going to live that moment down.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I particularly like the part where you slid down its neck and hopped off with a little ta-da flourish at the end.” Fergus leaned against the stone, his expression sobering. “I just wanted to repeat some wise words I once received from a cherished friend when I was in need of it. You are not alone. As long as you need me, I’ll be here for you.”
Ravena leaned against the wall alongside him and fiddled with the sleeve of her dress. “The heartache you went through is a lot more than a simple broken relationship.”
“Heartache is heartache, no matter the scope.”
She looked at him and gave him a weak smile. “I love you, Fergus. You know that, right?”
“Of course I do. And you know I love you right back. You’re like the sister that I never had.”
“We should probably spread that around. I bet you an entire sovereign that by this time tomorrow, there’s a rumor floating about that we’re either engaged or reunited long-lost lovers, or both.”
“I see your rumor and move the deadline up to breakfast, as well as raise you a rumor that we’ve been secretly married this whole time. Which is ridiculous, I might add. Where would we live? I can’t run a teyrnir from way over here and you can’t run the Inquisition from Highever. We’d never fit everyone in the castle and I know my treasury isn’t large enough for a remodeling project of that scale.”
“Trust you to think out logistics.” She gave a theatrical sigh. “And thus, our love was doomed from the start.”
He waggled his eyebrows at her. “So I guess passionate kisses on the battlements to cause more tongues to wag is out of the question?” He pursed his lips and leaned in just to hear her stifle a snort of laughter.
Still laughing, she gently pushed his face away. “I think I’m giving up on passion. Maker, find me a bland, boring, honest man and I’ll be happy for the rest of my days.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“No, I guess I don’t. Boring would get…well, boring after a while. Yet I would like an honest man. Those seem hard to come by.”
He pat her shoulder reassuringly. “Well, if I can find one, I’ll send him your way. And because I adore you, I’ll even make sure he looks almost as good as me.”
The next morning dawned far too early and far too brightly for Blackwall’s tastes. He moaned and clenched his eyes shut, rolling over in bed and pulling the covers over his face. That’s when he stopped. He must have stumbled his way up to his room in the gardens instead of fumbling back to the stables. He inhaled, catching the faintest whiff of perfume that had nearly faded from the sheets.
Ravena. He held the pillow tighter against him. Maker, but he missed her. Drinking himself to oblivion was probably not the best solution; he dimly recalled moodily sitting at a table and not talking much, Sera poking him in the side and complaining about how she remembered him being much more cheerful the last time they had gotten him drunk. His hands absently went to his beard, hoping that Sera hadn’t done anything in retaliation for his behavior, like put something sticky in it or shave it off altogether. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he cracked open his eyes and came face to face with Cole.
“I don’t even have the energy to curse,” he mumbled. “What are you doing here?”
Cole held up a large tankard. “I brought this for you.”
Groaning, Blackwall sat up and put his head in his hands. “Thank you.” He eyed the mug dubiously, but then took a sip when he realized it held nothing but water, icy cold as if it had been pulled fresh from the well.
“Does it help?” Cole perched his thin frame on the empty bedside table. “The drinking. Does it make you forget?”
“For a while, yes, but you wind up ultimately hurting even worse when you sober up.” He placed the metal tankard to his forehead, sighing as it soothed his aching head.
“Then why do it?”
Blackwall drank the rest, belatedly realizing that Cole had added in elfroot to infuse in the water when he nearly swallowed some mashed up leaves. “Because it was a temporary fix.” While the booze hadn’t helped him get over Ravena, it had made him realize that the people of Skyhold had, for the most part, forgiven him. That had healed a very painful ache, even if the larger one still remained.
“She loves him, you know. The Teyrn.”
He closed his eyes. “Cole, that is the exact opposite of helping.” He thought of the dress Ravena had worn the other night, how it had clung to her form and matched the Cousland banner colors perfectly. He was already imagining the lavish wedding that Josephine would pull off, the elaborate dress that Vivienne would insist Ravena wear, the weeks of celebration. Then she would be gone from Skyhold, and not for mere months, which in itself had been torture, but forever. The nausea that had calmed only moments before came back with a vengeance.
Cole picked up on his feelings. “No, you don’t understand. She doesn’t love him like she loves you. She loves him the way she loves Cullen and Dorian and Varric: she thinks that it’s funny how she manages to collect brothers everywhere she goes when she already has three of her own by blood. Sometimes she thinks that friendship with a man is better because then she can love them and they can love her, but they can’t hurt her when they leave.”
Blackwall sat up straighter. “Are you saying that she…”
Cole continued, interrupting Blackwall’s surprised question as if he had never spoken. “He’s alone where he was once surrounded by family. There’s a deep, old hurt in his chest that surfaces up every now and again. She helped heal that pain once, back when it was new and still bleeding; all he wants to do is return the favor.” Cole stopped talking for a moment and cocked his head to the side as if he were listening to something before a brilliant smile bloomed on his face. “Oh! He’s here in the garden with two birds, holding onto a piece of his little brother he never knew existed. He’s crying, even though his hurt feels lighter, the smoke and the blood and the grief pushed aside for now to make room for this bit of unexpected happiness. The raven’s trying to hide her tears, doing her best to blend into the shadow and give them privacy. The grumpy sounding crow complains in her head about the fuss, especially all the touching, but underneath the bristling feathers she’s happy too.”
Carefully walking to the door, he opened it and stepped outside. His rooms faced the Chantry garden, but were far enough away that he couldn’t make out clear details of the people milling about. He did spot Morrigan right away, the arcane advisor’s feathers and leather standing out amid Chantry white and red. Focusing on her, Blackwall soon spied Teyrn Fergus and Morrigan’s son Kieran. The two of them were sitting at one of the stone benches, the Teyrn’s hands moving about as he said something to the boy that made him laugh before enveloping Kieran in another hug. Movement behind him had his eyes training on Ravena, who was trying her best to quietly slip away. Again, she must have felt eyes on her, because he looked directly at him. She held his gaze briefly before turning and walking away.
“You told me to stay out of your head,” Cole said, quietly coming up beside Blackwall. “So I will, even if I think you need to talk. If not to me or to anyone else, then talk to her.”
“Thank you.” He turned to ask Cole what he meant by not like she loves you, but the spirit was already gone.
“I wish that you could stay longer.”
“I wish I could too, but I could only spare a week.” Fergus replied. “Teyrnirs don’t run themselves, no matter how competent my seneschal is.” He held out his arms and Ravena gratefully went to him. “If ever you need a place to run away to, my castle is always available.”
She hugged him tighter. “I’d love to take you up on that offer, but to steal your words: rifts don’t seal themselves, no matter how much I’d like them to. Yet we have Corypheus on the ropes: hopefully things will come to a resolution soon.” She had just spent the morning with her advisors devising a strategy. There was a darkspawn sighting in the Storm Coast that needed looking after, but once that was done, Ravena needed to decide who she was going to take out to the Emprise du Lion to investigate the red lyrium supplies the smuggler letters she had uncovered while exploring the Emerald Graves spoke of. Dorian and Varric were already locked in, but she was debating on asking Cassandra or Bull. Bull had been making noises about missing being with his Chargers out on missions, and there was an assignment Cullen had brought up that was right up the group’s alley. Then again, Cassandra had made it known that she despised the cold. She would go with her out of sheer loyalty without much complaint, but Ravena disliked causing her friends discomfort. That only left her with one other choice to round out their group, and that…
No. Asking Blackwall to join her was not an option, at least not until she was certain she could be around him and treat him with the same professional courtesy she might show a hired bodyguard on one of her digs.
“Speaking of that,” Fergus started. “I’ve spoken with your Commander. He’s expecting several units of soldiers from me in the next few weeks. Any aid that Highever can offer is yours to command.”
“You have no idea how much I appreciate that,” she told him. “Although since you mentioned any aid…”
Fergus drew away far enough so he could reach inside his doublet and pull out a piece of parchment. “Ambassador Montilyet has already drawn up a business proposal with Marta. If she agrees to the terms, you shall have a steady stream of soap traveling your way.”
Ravena had to laugh. “Josephine doesn’t waste any time, does she?”
“Actually, she had high praise for the orange spice scented bars. I believe this is for her benefit as much as yours.”
The two of them walked towards the stables where the rest of his party were already saddled up and ready to go. “I do hope that this won’t be the last time you visit Skyhold,” she said.
“Absolutely not. Your home is beautiful, and the company even more so. I merely hope that we’ll meet again in more peaceful times.”
“You and me both.” She turned to glance in the direction of the gardens. “And what of Kieran and Morrigan?”
“I spoke with Morrigan at great length. She and her son are family and will always be welcome in my home whenever and for however long they wish to stay. Just being in her presence for a brief time, I can see why my baby brother fell in love with her.”
“Kieran favors the Cousland side,” she agreed.
“Which is why he’ll eventually grow up to be a devastatingly handsome man, just like his father and his uncle before him.” He grinned at her charmingly. “How you never fell for my looks when we were younger, I’ll never know.”
She returned his grin. “Because, while your pretty face was a pleasant distraction, I was more in love with old books and all the knowledge Brother Aldous had stored away.”
Fergus placed a hand to his chest as if she had wounded him. “Since I’ll never be able to compete with tomes and dear Aldous’ lectures, I shall have to be content with your friendship. I meant what I said, Ravena. My doors are always open to you and your Inquisition.”
“As my doors are open to you and yours. Have a safe journey home, Fergus. The roads are relatively peaceful; Cullen and Cassandra keep patrols of scouts on rotation.”
Fergus pressed a kiss against Ravena’s forehead. “Write to me when you can.” He looked over her shoulder towards the stables where he saw the man Leliana had identified as Blackwall working on repairing a saddle. He couldn’t help but glare at him. While Ravena had been silent on what had happened between them, the rest of Skyhold hadn’t and Fergus’ heart ached for his friend.
Ravena knew exactly who he was staring at. “Don’t,” she whispered, barely audible as she buried her face against the side of his neck. Taking a bolstering breath, she stepped away from him. “I’ll write as often as I can. The same goes for you, Ser. I’ll be expecting letters full of overly formal salutations and flowery writing as soon as you return to Highever.”
He looked down at her, knowing when to drop a subject. “And shall I include in these extravagant letters some poetry? Limericks naughty in nature, perhaps?”
She laughed, eyes sparkling in humor where they had been dark only moments before. “The dirtier the better. If they’re any good, I just might have to share them with Bull, Varric and Sera.”
Still grinning, Fergus took her hands in his and squeezed tightly. “With such high expectations, I’ll have to think of some masterpieces while I ride back home.” Gathering her close for one last fierce hug, he swung into the saddle. “Be well, my dear. And remember what I told you.”
Ravena waved to his party as they rode off. Hugging her elbows, she made the mistake of glancing inside the barn. Blackwall stood there with a piece of leather tack held so tightly in his hands that his knuckles were nearly white. He had a look on his face as if she had picked up a nearby pitchfork and had run him through with it. Her heart hammered in her chest as he opened his mouth and took a step forward.
Like the coward she was, she gathered her skirts in her hand and fled.
She was perched on the ramparts in tunic and trousers several hours later, her finery neatly folded and tucked away in her rooms. “You changed your hair,” Cole said, materializing beside her. By now, Ravena was so used to him popping in and out that his sudden appearance didn’t make her jump.
“No, I put it back how it belongs.” The bun was practical. Simple. She had often worn her hair down as a girl with her head full of naïve ideals, and she had worn it down for Fergus’ visit because… well, it didn’t matter why. She was a grown woman, and foolish notions had no place in her life.
“He likes your hair when it’s loose around your shoulders. His hands burn to touch it, to wrap it around his fists and tug the way he knows you like, but he’s lost that privilege.” Cole looked at her, his face puzzled. “Why do you punish him when all it does is make both of you sad?”
“Believe it or not, Cole, but humans can be horribly petty about things like that.” She sighed and looked out at the sunset. “But the dress, my hair, it wasn’t for him or even for Fergus. It was for me.”
Cole kicked his feet out in front of him until his legs swung around in lazy circles to mirror Ravena’s. “You wanted someone to look at you and tell you that you were loved. You wanted to hear words from a trusted friend’s lips and know that they were genuine and truthful, not some lie to get into your heart or your bed. You wanted someone to make you happy for happiness’ sake, not because they wanted something from you in return.”
She leaned forward, the stone rough underneath her palms. “Is that so much to ask?”
“No, it isn’t.” The two of them sat in silence for a long while, watching as the sun slowly sank over the horizon. “She wants to smile again and Maker, how he makes her smile. I was wrong: that thought was about Fergus, not Blackwall, even though it used to be about him. Why do you think everything he ever said to you was a lie?”
“He flat out told me in Val Royeaux that he had lied to me the entire time. Why would I believe anything that comes out of his mouth now?”
“Then why didn’t you let him die?”
“Because it was the easy way out. He dies and it’s over for him. If he lived and stayed here in Skyhold, then he’d have to own up to his crimes and rebuild trust with everyone.”
“Rebuilding trust with everyone includes you, too. You promised yourself that you’d never let things go so far between you and your brother ever again, but maybe you need to promise to never let things never fester between you and anyone instead.” Cole looked at her pointedly.
“I don’t know what to say to him.”
“Sometimes you don’t have to know what to say, you just have to start talking.” He leaned closer to her. “You smell nice, like roses.”
The non-sequitor threw her for a loop. “Thank you.”
“Walls like roses, especially when they grow near them and climb. They make the wall feel better about itself, make it want to become a better wall than it was before when it was alone.”
Ravena glanced at him. “You’re not being very subtle.”
“You like it when people are direct.” He stared ahead. “You’re a rose that’s more sharp thorns than blossoms. I can’t figure out if the thorns are there to keep people at a distance, or to protect yourself from getting hurt by careless hands.”
She stood up and held out a hand to help Cole to his feet. “I’m having trouble figuring that one out myself. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.”
“Maybe you could try to trust him again. He’s the type of man who would brave the thorns to get to the flower, no matter how much they make him bleed.”
Ravena looked away. “There’s nothing between us, and there never was. He didn’t love me.”
Cool fingers ghosted across her cheek. “And even now, you still believe his lies.”
“I want to try, but I don’t know how to separate truth from lie, not with him,” she said, turning towards the stairs that would lead her down to the Chantry.
Cole watched her leave. Wrapping his thin arms around himself for comfort, he walked towards the infirmary’s direction. There was a young healer’s apprentice who was tired, but she had so many potions to prepare that she’d never be able to get to sleep. Solas had taught Cole how to cut herbs, how to stack everything neatly to the side for efficient brewing. While he might not be able to help Blackwall or Ravena, at least there were plenty more pains he could ease around Skyhold.