"Because what am I but a lost traveler,
Caught between my past and my present,
Needing the stars to guide me on my way."
Chapter Eight - The Pack Divides
Caryssa had dreaded this day.
It had been three weeks since Bran's fall, and while the Maester had confirmed he would not die from his fall, he had still yet to wake. Caryssa, under much duress from her father, brothers and her betrothed, had taken more time to care for herself, getting slightly more sleep and eating more.
Only this meant that her rapid improvement in health stopped delaying the inevitable.
Today they rode for King's Landing. Caryssa had packed her things and had a maid take them to one of the carts. Sansa was also ready, having already said her goodbyes as she was eager to get on the road and on her way to her 'new life'. Caryssa had only rolled her eyes at her sister when she had spoken those words, before she went about her business, making sure that everything else was ready, but Poole had waved her off when she tried to check over their supplies and belongings.
Which, of course, had only left one more thing for her to do; saying goodbye to the family she would be leaving behind in favour of another. She had already said goodbye to her mother, and a still sleeping Bran, making her mother vow that she would send a raven the moment he woke.
She didn't need to say goodbye to Jon just yet. He had always been honest with her in his desire to join the Night's Watch and become a ranger, so it didn't come as a surprise to her when he had told her he was leaving for the Wall with their uncle. Caryssa feared for him, though, and had one try at convincing him to stay with Robb. Jon was stubborn, though, and not even the rumours of the White Walkers would dissuade him.
This left Robb and Rickon. Her other two boys.
She had saddled Snow, her weapons in her saddle bag in case she needed them, and she sighed when she saw Robb approach, already trying to stop the tears that threatened to fall. How could she leave the other half of her behind? How could she live without half her soul?
Robb seemed to be having the same dilemma, his Tully blues welling up with the same emotions she was enduring. Caryssa's resolve broke, and she hurtled herself at her younger brother, clinging to him like it would be the last time they would ever see each other again. Robb held her just as tightly, his hand fisted in her dark locks, his other wound around her waist. Her arms snaked round his neck, her fingers tangling themselves into his hair and shirt. They both refused to cry, but it was inevitable.
"I do not know how I will bear this." Caryssa whispered, knowing that there were many witnesses to their sad embrace but not caring in the slightest.
"We'll bear this because we have to," Robb said, leaning back slightly, his fingers reaching to the pale skin of her cheeks and wiping away her tears. "The North will never look as lovely now that it has lost its Beauty."
Caryssa chuckled at him weakly, tears still streaming down her face, and she cupped his cheek with her hand, her thumb swiping along his cheekbone, memorising her dear brother's face.
"Promise me something." She said, and Robb quickly nodded, knowing he would promise her anything her heart desired in their parting moment.
"Anything, Ryssa. Anything you ask of me."
"Do not forget who we are. Winter is coming, and our pack is dividing…you cannot forget that we are Starks of Winterfell, we are the wolves of the North, and we are strong, even when we are apart. The North remembers, and so must you. Promise that no matter what happens in our future, that you will always remember the strength to be found in our family."
"I promise." Robb said, his words earnest and sincere. Caryssa smiled her watery smile at him, and leaned forward to press her lips to his cheek, not even scrunching her nose up at the bristles that irritated her lips on contact.
"Keep our family safe, keep the North secure and find happiness, little brother. I'll send ravens, and you have to send ravens to me. It will be painful enough to not be able to just walk down the hall should I need to talk to you, but to endure no contact at all would surely kill me." Caryssa said, hugging her brother to her again once he had nodded, before she felt something latch onto her leg and almost made her and Robb fall to the ground.
Caryssa looked down and found a sobbing Rickon clinging to her skirt, his eyes red, his nose running and Shaggydog crying with him, probably at the loss of four sevenths of his own siblings. Rhaenyra, Lady and Nymeria would of course be accompanying their mistresses to King's Landing, and Ghost would follow Jon to the Wall. It was two packs dividing, and Caryssa was apprehensive about it for more than one reason. Her instincts were telling her to beg her father to not go to King's Landing, but she only had one reason why they shouldn't; Bran.
She heaved Rickon up into her arms, hugging him to her as he wrapped himself around her and kissed his forehead as he sobbed into her neck.
"Why are you all leaving?" The little pup cried.
"Father is the Hand of the King now. He's even more important than he was before, and Sansa and I are going to get married, remember? Sansa is marrying the prince and I am marrying Ser Jaime, and we're going to live in King's Landing with them." Caryssa explained once more, rubbing his back with one hand and running the fingers of the other through his hair in a soothing motion.
"Why do you have to marry Ser Jaime? Why do you have to leave?"
"Because I have to have a family of my own, pup, but believe me, if I could bring you with me, I would, but there must always be a Stark in Winterfell and Robb, Bran and Mother need you. Someone has to look after them all for me, do you think you can do that?" Caryssa questioned, pulling him away from her a little bit, so she could look into little Rickon's eyes.
Rickon nodded, his eyes wide to convey how serious he was.
"I know you can. You have to be strong for me, my darling brother, okay? Mother is watching over Bran, so she won't be able to look after you as much as she used to, and Robb will be very busy, so you have to be strong, play with Shaggydog, attend your lessons, and be a good boy for me, okay? Do you promise?" Caryssa pressed, and when her little brother nodded, she smiled weakly and kissed his cheek.
"My lady, your father is ready to leave now." One of their household servants informed her, and she sighed, but nodded.
"Come on, little pup, I have to go now. Hug Robb for me." She said, passing Rickon to Robb, and the little wolf pup's crying intensified, and thoroughly dragged Caryssa's heart through the mud.
Caryssa kissed Robb's cheek one last time, before she turned, heart heavy, and mounted Snow, not turning her head to look back at her brothers once. If she did, she knew that she would lose her resolve again, and would try her hardest to stay in Winterfell with them.
So she pushed Snow into a trot, hurrying forward to where her father and Jon stood waiting for her. Sansa and Arya would be riding in a carriage with Septa Mordane and Jeyne Poole, the steward's daughter, but Caryssa never liked the confining shelter of a carriage. She preferred the burn of the cold Northern winds on her face, the feel of it whipping through her hair…it was like a true freedom she would never experience as a woman.
She greeted her father her uncle and brother with a solemn face, and nodded towards them, a sign that she was ready to leave. Ned Stark knew that it was tearing his daughter apart to leave their family, almost as much as it was killing him to do the same, but it was necessary. He believed the king could be in danger, and he had sworn his best friend an oath long ago to always come when called upon. So he returned his daughter's grave nod, and they rode off, their home at their backs and their futures ahead.
Six Starks left Winterfell that day, dividing the pack, but a dark thought crept into Caryssa's mind as she rode out of the gates of her home…how many would return?
Before joining the king's caravan, Ned and Caryssa had to see Jon off. He would be joining the Night's Watch, following in his uncle's footsteps, and Lord Tyrion seemed to be accompanying them. Before he rode off with her uncle, Caryssa called to the heir of Casterly Rock and halted his progression northwards.
"Lord Tyrion!" She called, leaving her father and brother to say their goodbyes to say her own to her future good-brother.
"Lady Stark." Tyrion said in greeting.
"I have come to say goodbye, my lord, and to express my hopes that you'll have a safe journey to the Wall." Caryssa smiled with as much warmth as she could muster (which was not very much).
Out of all the Lannisters, including Ser Jaime, Caryssa identified more with the sarcastic dwarf the most. He was the very first who came to offer his condolences when he heard about Bran, and visited frequently. Caryssa was shocked by his kindness, and promised him that she would never forget it. They had talked many times over his stay in Winterfell, and she would even go so far to say that they had formed a friendship. One she was sure she would be thankful for sometime in the future.
"Many thanks, my lady. I hope to return in time for your wedding, but should I not, I offer you my congratulations and my humble apology now." Tyrion said, clasping his hand to his heart, making play at being completely sincere and Caryssa managed a laugh for him. It took a lot to make her laugh since her brother's fall, let alone by a person she still deemed an 'outsider'.
"I will accept them, my lord, only on the condition that you watch over my brother while you are with him. My brothers make play that they are men, but they are still boys in my eyes at least…I fear he does not really understand what he is getting himself into." Caryssa said, and Tyrion nodded.
"I accept those terms, my lady, but what could I do to protect your brother? He is much taller than me, and has better skill with a blade."
"A sword is a soldier's weapon, my friend, but you are not a soldier. You can protect him with your mind, and your words. I am already indebted to you for your kindness to my brother, Bran, but if you could also do this for me, well…the Lannisters are not the only ones who repay their debts." Caryssa stated, and Tyrion could see the same honour and seriousness that was in her lord father behind her Tully blue eyes. He could see that there was also a slim amount of trust in her eyes, she trusted him, and he found that his own face had taken on a rare seriousness that he usually tried to avoid.
"Consider it a wedding gift, my dear sister," Tyrion replied, watching a spark of warmth enter her eyes at his words. It almost made him smile, that warmth in the Ice Lady's eyes. Tales were told in the North of the warmth that the Beauty of the North showed only to those she deemed worthy, and it seemed she thought him worthy of it too. That was an accomplishment he was truly proud of. "Now, I bid you farewell. Until next we meet."
"Until next we meet, brother." Caryssa smiled, nodding her head regally, before turning her horse around and riding back towards her true brother.
Her father had taken his leave, waiting for her a little ways off, giving her and Jon some privacy for their goodbye. Caryssa edged her horse as close to Jon's as possible, and awkwardly hugged him to her. Jon returned her embrace, knowing that he was going to miss her comforting presence when they departed from each other, before he pulled away.
"I will miss you, Stark." Jon stated, and Caryssa smiled at him weakly, the fears she mentioned to Tyrion playing on her mind.
"And you, Stark," Caryssa replied, and quickly hurried on when Jon opened his mouth to protest her words. "You are a Stark. You always have been and you always will be, and nothing in this world, no cruel words or harsh tortures could get me to say otherwise. You are my brother, my blood, and I want you to remember that. Which is why I got you this."
Jon watched in silence as his sister reached underneath her cloak, into her boot, and pulled out something wrapped in cloth. She handed it to him, and gestured for him to open it with a nod of her head. Jon's eyes lowered to the black cloth, an homage to the new path he had put himself on, and slowly unwrapped it.
A silver wolf pin lay on the dark cloth, and Jon raised his eyes to look at her, only to see hers were on her gift to him.
"It is the same-" Jon started, but his sister cut him off.
"The same as mine. I wanted you to have a piece of me with you, a piece of the family. I had it made for you when Uncle Benjen came to me and told me that you had asked him about joining him again," Caryssa said, still staring at the silver wolf, her gloved fingers touching its twin which was pinned to the belt of her dress. She shook her head, and then wrapped her arms around her brother again, pressing her lips against his prickly cheek. "Do not forget me, Jon Stark."
"Not even the white walkers could make me forget you, Caryssa Stark." Jon whispered back, kissing the side of her head, before letting her go.
"Farewell, brother." Caryssa said, moving away from him slightly.
Jon stayed where he was and watched his sister gallop towards their father, and then watched as the pair disappeared over the hillside together. The dark haired bastard paused a moment longer, before he turned his horse to follow his uncle and the Lannister dwarf, wondering how long it would be until he next welcomed his family's embraces.
Hello dear people!
I again want to apologise for another long winded rant on the last chapter. I'm trying to cut down on that. Also I'm not talking about Mary Sue's anymore. I just get annoyed with it all and it ruins my day, so I'm deleting the term from my brain and moving forward.
Sorry for the late chapter, got caught up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier yesterday. Have you guys seen that movie? Like seriously, it's the best one from the MCU so far, I think.
Anyway, I know this is really short, but this is a bit of a filler. I didn't want to really drag this part out too much. The next chapter will be longer, I promise, and will have more Jaime/Caryssa. I'm going to show another reason why she's not just going to fall in love with him, that they're really going to have to work hard to come to that sort of place once they are married. So anyway, next chapter will be on the King's Road. And we all know what happens there.
Thank you to all who have followed and favourited (not actually a word, but whatever) since the last chapter. And a big shout out to you reviewers:
Sparky She-Demon, purple sky always, Shelley421, Lucy Greenhill, My mother is a koala (dude, still absolutely love that name), xenocanaan, (glad we sorted things out), ghg, guest, Guest (I've actually got a Jon Snow/OC running around my brain because of you), allylovesklaus (don't we all love klaus?), eva2410, jedi-stark (dude, I was brought up on Star Wars!), Hand of the Alex, GraceConnorReese, Bronte, Lilo23, Color Me Geeky (everyone has their opinion and I thank you for expressing yours in a polite and kind way), allylovesklaus (thanks for the second review!) and ShipsThatFly!
You guys are awesome! Thank you for the support, it's always awesome to read your reviews and see the positive or constructive feedback. I was also debating on uploading one of my other 'in-the-works' GOT stories. I'm gonna create a poll on my profile and you guys can pick one. The story descriptions are already on my profile so if you wanna read them first and then vote that would probably be best :)
Anyway, next update is next Saturday!