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The Griffon and the Raven, Chapter 46

Prompt: Threaten
Note: This story needed more Raoul. I think he's starting to look like Richard Armitage in my head.

“There you are.” Raoul ambled towards the practice ring where Blackwall was doing some late-morning solitary training.

“Just trying to keep my edge sharp,” he replied, stopping to mop sweat from his brow. “What can I do for you?”

Raoul walked towards the rack where the blunted metal blades were stored. Choosing one, he swung it around experimentally. “Care for a sparring partner?”

Blackwall rolled his shoulders and took a readying stance. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you fight before,” he said, watching as Raoul began to circle. “I would have figured you as a twin blade wielder.”

“Nah, I leave all the cloak and dagger business to my sister. My other brothers are the traditional sword and shield fighters, but I’m more of an in your face two-handed sword type.” He performed a lunging sweep, grunting when Blackwall blocked his blow and quickly formed an attack.

“You don’t have the body type I figured for that. You move well.”

“Thanks, as do you.” He countered Blackwall’s shield bash. “Speaking of my sister, how are things with her?”

“Things are…” Blackwall smiled. “Things are good. They’re better than I ever expected them to be.”

Raoul made a face. “Alright, that little dazed look had better not be you thinking about sex and my sister at the same time. There are a lot of things I’m comfortable talking to you about, Rainier, but that is definitely not one of them.”

He had to laugh. “No. I haven’t even dreamed about regaining that sort of intimacy…”

“What did I just tell you?” He swung his blade in a wide arc, impressed by Blackwall’s ability to dodge it.

“As I was saying,” Blackwall said with a smirk, “we’re talking again.” The trip back to Skyhold from the Emprise was a lot warmer, both in climate and in conversation. Ravena made certain to ride close to him the entire trip back and they spent most of their rest breaks – which had once again turned leisurely instead of rushed, much to everyone’s delight – sitting and sharing stories. He told her everything: where he had grown up, things about his parents, his sister, anything that she asked of him. It was liberating to finally be able to completely open up to her and tell her everything he had longed to tell her from the start, as if a heavy weight he had been carrying around his neck had finally been cut loose. She still shared a tent with Dorian when they stopped to camp, but the little touches to his hand or arm and her whispered goodnights were promising. What made his heart soar were the few times she didn’t say goodnight to him, sitting up with him as he did his turn at watch instead of turning towards her tent, her eyelids growing heavy until she eventually fell asleep on his shoulder. He treasured those times, knowing that she finally trusted him again to lower her guard around him. He would gather her close as she slept; savoring the quiet exhalations of breath against his throat and soft floral scent that always lingered on his clothes long after she woke and left the circle of his arms.

“That’s good. I could tell that something had happened as soon as you got back. She’s happier.”

“Happier now that she’s patched things up with you, too.” Ravena had shared her relief at finally closing the distance that had grown between her and her brother. It did his heart good to see her so at peace with her family.

“I’ve owed her an apology for a very long time.” Raoul pressed his advantage and made three swift overhead strikes, each of them making Blackwall’s shield ring with the impact. “In fact, I owe you an apology as well. I should not have called you…”

“A lying, worm-eaten sack of wyvern shit your sister was too good to even have in her presence?”

“Okay, wow. I make up some creative insults when I’m angry. But yes, that one.”

“Apology accepted, although frankly, I deserved it.” He’d deserved more than just Raoul’s scorn. The punch that Cassandra had given him had come out of the blue, but he hadn’t put up any sort of defense when she had knocked him down and had continued to pummel him with her fists. At the time, he had welcomed the pain, knowing that the pain he had caused Ravena was ten times worse than any physical injury anyone could inflict upon him.

He thought back to their companions’ reactions. After he and Ravena had reconciled at the Storm Coast, people had started to warm back up to him. Now that they had gotten back from their latest mission, even Cassandra was now holding terse, one-sentence conversations with him instead of the stony silence or huffs of disgust she had been shooting in his direction at regular intervals. Cullen had visited briefly, gruffly informing Blackwall that his presence in the training yard was needed, as they had recently received a fresh group of recruits. As the days progressed, Blackwall had been gladdened when Cullen had called out to him and hesitantly offered to buy a round at the tavern as his way of saying that he was trying to regain the familiar rapport they had cultivated before Blackwall’s true identity had been revealed. When they had returned from the Emprise du Lion, Cullen had been even warmer towards him. He had a feeling that the turnaround was mostly to do with the letters Ravena had sent Cullen’s way. Blackwall hadn’t meant to read over her shoulder as she drafted them, but he had seen where she had credited him with discovering the letters detailing Samson’s plans. In reality, it had been a joint effort, but he was thankful to her for helping him mend fences.

“Well, you’re lucky that I fell in love with Josephine.” At Blackwall’s curious glance, he continued. “After your trial and making sure that Ravena was all right, I was furious enough with you to write to my brothers and my father, explaining in graphic detail how hurt Ravena was. The beating Cassandra gave you would have seemed like a gentle massage, and that’s only taking René into consideration. He might have been kind enough to leave enough of you behind for Robert and Father to scrape off the flagstones and kick around. But back to Josephine. She happened to see what I was writing and begged me not to send it. She said it would make her incredibly unhappy.”

“So it seems as if I’m in Lady Montilyet’s debt.” He made a mental note to thank her.

“She loves Ravena like a sister and wants nothing but to see her happy. Besides, she’s too good of a person to actually keep tabs on things like that.” They had stopped fighting, the two of them leaning up against the fence that circled the ring. “But you’re not even going to question why I didn’t send the letter anyway?”

Blackwall shrugged. “As you said, it would have upset Josephine. You love her, which means that you’d do anything to keep her happy. I feel the same way about your sister.”

“It’s true. I would do anything to keep her happy, with or without Leliana’s threat to gouge my heart out of my chest with a rusty spoon, should I cause her any grief.”

“She didn’t.”

“She did. She was eating a grapefruit at the time and did a rather apt demonstration.” Raoul let out an involuntary shudder at the memory.

Blackwall let out an impressed whistle through his teeth. “She’s so quiet that you forget how ruthlessly deadly she can be.”

“This is true.” He moved to place his sword back on the rack. “That’s the good thing about us advisors. People tend to see us in our harmless mode and forget that we have teeth.”

“Ah.” Blackwall put his training weapons away as well and turned to face Raoul. He knew that the last comment was directed towards him.

“I love my sister, Rainier,” Raoul started. “And I would do anything to see her happy. You make her happy. Let’s try to keep it that way, shall we?”

“I’ll do my best.”

Raoul’s smile was all teeth. “Good. Because if you hurt her like you did again, I’ll kill you.” His smile vanished and his likeable, carefree demeanor changed. Suddenly, Blackwall saw a man completely capable of following through on his threat without a shred of remorse for the action afterwards.

He met his gaze and nodded. “If I ever hurt her again like I did, I’ll let you.”

Raoul blinked. “Good.” He smiled, and once again his expression was back to his usual easygoing self. He clapped his hand on Blackwall’s shoulder. “I’m glad we had this talk. Oh, and for the record, none of my other brothers or my parents are aware of this little blip in your relationship. As far as they know, you’re a knight on a white steed.”

Blackwall raised an eyebrow. “Don’t reckon I’ve ever been described that way before. Tarnished armor is more my style.”

Raoul laughed. “See, I knew I liked you for a reason.” Giving Blackwall one last hard pat on the shoulder, he grinned. “I’m glad we had this talk.” With that, he strolled away, his hands in his pockets and whistling a jaunty tune.

Blackwall watched him for a while before making his own way out of the training circle and up to the Main Hall. Just as he had hoped, Varric was sitting at his customary table, a quill in hand and a piece of parchment in the other.

“What can I do for you, Hero?” he asked, noticing how Blackwall pulled up a chair.

“You’re a man of words,” he started, sitting and folding his hands in front of him.

“Only the best ones,” Varric replied. “What’s up?”

“I…ah, need your help.”

Varric leaned back. “Ah, say no more. Give me the afternoon, but I’ll have something ready for you tonight that you’ll thank me for in the morning, if you know what I mean.”

Blackwall frowned in confusion at Varric’s wink. “What?”

“Oh come on, don’t play coy. You want me to write your lady love a steamy letter to get things back to how they were. Things are going in the right direction, but sometimes you need that little extra push, if you catch my drift.”

Blackwall rolled his eyes. “Yes, I do get what you mean, but no, I don’t need any help in that department. I have a matter of great importance, but of a non-romantic nature.”

Varric rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Non-romantic dealings? And here I thought we were going to get something juicy out of you. What’s the problem?”

“Josephine. I need to send her a bouquet of flowers; do you know of anything that says thank you for keeping your lover from unleashing the wrath of my love’s family upon me?”

Varric blinked. After a brief silence, he began to laugh for a long while. “Oh, Hero,” he said, wiping at his eyes. “I don’t think there’s enough flowers in Thedas for that one. But come on, we’ll see what we can do with what we have in the gardens.”

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