In the dead of the night, two arms reach out across the makeshift bed in search of a warmth that they already know will not be there. What they search for is never there. And with a soft sigh exhaled into the dark room, the eyes of the newly crowned king opened.
Every young man had imagined being King at one point or another and Robb Stark was no different in that respect. He, however, had been given the opportunity to actually be a king. But no one had told him how much the title of King would drain him.
His men were starvingandfreezing in the cooling temperatures of the oncoming winter. And yet here he lay, wrapped in a fur blanket inside a warm tent in which a fire burned steadily in the corner. He was no greater than them – nobility ran in his veins, but not the blood of a king. He had been raised to be a Lord and Warden of the North, to take a wife and provide the North with heirs. Perhaps it was the simplicity of that life that he reached out for in the night.
By morning, the duties of a King called to him and drew him from his bed.
News of Renly Baratheon's death reaches Robb's ears within a week of its occurrence, courtesy of a raven from his Lady Mother. With this news comes the horrible realization that without the aid of Renly, Robb's armies no longer has access to the plentiful food of the South. Without Renly, his men were as good as dead.
His hand clenches around the bit of parchment then he tosses it into the flames, not even bothering to look as it burns.
When the green and gold banners are seen in the distance as the sun rises on the third day since the raven arrived, Robb's heart skips a beat inside his chest. He knows those colors, that sigil; The Tyrell's have arrived.
But much to Robb's surprise it is not Mace Tyrell or even Willas Tyrell that dismounts once within the camp. It is the Lady Margaery, the widow of Renly Baratheon, followed by her brother Ser Loras who is quite obviously wearing the late King Renly's armor.
A third horse trots forward from which Lady Catelyn dismounts and immediately takes Robb into a tight hug. Her brilliant red hair is falling from its usual braid and she smells of the road, but Robb returns the hug wholeheartedly. He always fears when she is gone.
"Robb, this is Ser Loras and his sister, the Lady Margaery," Lady Catelyn states as she pulls away from her son, half turning to their guests. "It is their intention to honor Renly's alliance with you."
"Your Grace," Margaery begins, sliding into a curtsey. "It truly is an honor to meet you in person."
When she rises again, Robb is finally able to get a close look at her face and is surprised to find that her most dominant feature is the intelligence in her eyes. This woman is no dainty rose that will wither with the first frost – if a rose is what she is, she is a blue winter rose of the North.
Like the winter roses, Lady Margaery flourishes amongst the harsh Northern Environment much to the surprise of Lady Catelyn and Ser Loras. Long gone are her revealing Southern gowns and ones of thicker fabrics have replaced them, even if the necklines do fall lower than anything Robb had seen his mother wear.
When it is time for supper Margaery sits on his left in a spot usually reserved for a Queen, and she occupies the space perfectly. His banner men have taken to bowing to her and her 'your grace,' even though she was no longer a Queen. Even Greywind takes a place at her side, affectionately nuzzling his snout against her slender fingers whenever he is given the chance.
With the presence of Lady Margaery and Ser Loras came the plentiful crops of the South – grains, fruits, vegetables, and even warm fabrics. Despite this generosity, the Tyrell's never asked for anything in return, but Robb knew that their kindness would eventually come with a steep price.Despite their kind smiles and words, the Tyrell's were as cunning as the Lannisters – they were just better at hiding it.
The first signs of the Tyrell's demands came on a particularly chilly afternoon written on a piece of parchment that was attached to the leg of a raven.
Lord Mace Tyrell saw it fit that it was time for Margaery to marry once again, and if he had his way he would have his daughter be a Queen once more. That evening Lady Margaery came to supper wearing the colors of House Stark and her gaze rarely left Robb's for the entirety of their meal. It did not escape his notice that a handful of men fumbled over their words and had accidentally referred to Margaery as his betrothed.
Margaery's maneuvers did not escape the notice of Robb's Lady Mother either. She warned Robb that despite the Tyrell's kindness, they were as ruthless as the rest and if he gave them an inch, they would take a mile.
But when Robb settled into his bed each night it was not the dangers he faced, or even the Iron Throne he dreamed of – it was Margaery's lips and the way the sunlight danced across the curls of her hair.
Once again, he wakes up reaching out for something that is not there.
It seemed that Margaery wished to present herself as a capable future Queen, for she attended every war council, spoke with both the Stark and Tyrell banner men and even had taken to personally caring for the ill and wounded within their ranks. His men bowed when she passed, prayed daily – appealing to both the Old Gods and the New – for her continued health and resources.
And before the end of the month the Northern Army had nearly doubled due to the new soldiers bearing the Golden Tyrell Rose.
However, it had not taken the growth of the army for Robb to decide to break his betrothal to the unnamed daughter of Walder Frey.
Their wedding was a small affair, taking place beneath the shade of a Weirwood Tree while the couple was surrounded by their family and banner men. Robb wrapped his own cloak around Margaery's shoulders, covering her with the Stark family sigil and thus taking her under his family's protection and solidifying the alliance between their families.
It was not required that they kiss at the end of their vows but as Margaery lifted her brown eyes to meet his, Robb found himself leaning down and pressing his lips firmly to those of his new bride.
Margaery's lips tasted like the sweetest of candies and he could feel them spread slightly in a smile as a small giggle escaped. Her hand took his and a warmth swelled inside of him.
Within a couple months, Margaery's stomach began to swell with their child. She strode through the encampment with her head held high and her hands placed over the babe. This pose served to only emphasize her condition even more. Her gowns were taken out and as more time passes, the babe within her only grows larger.
Robb's head is resting against Margaery's breast as his hand slowly moves over her protruding stomach, caressing the babe within when his wife's soft murmur breaks him from his thoughts.
"I love you, dear husband," she says, her slender fingers sliding into the auburn curls of his hair. Her nails scratch against his scalp and Robb immediately leans into her touch as he rumbles back, "I love you, Margaery."
When their child is born – a daughter with Margaery's brown curls and Robb's blue eyes – their men celebrate into the early morning, cheering the name of the Heir Apparent so loud that even the Gods would hear.
Lyanna, Lyanna, Lyanna!
Inside the tent, the child sleeps soundly against her mother's breast, wrapped in a blanket bearing a direwolf wearing a crown of blue winter roses.
And as he looked down at his wife and daughter, Robb realized that Margaery had brought with her everything he had been reaching out for in the cold winter nights.