4th Month of 298 A.C. Winterfell
Prince Tommen Baratheon
Winterfell, his home these past eight years, ah how he loved it here, the walls were surprisingly warm considering where the castle was located, but he had long ago learned of the hot springs deep underneath the ground that warmed the castle even in the bleakest winter moons. It was more a home to him than the Red Keep had ever been, the memories he had of the Red Keep were distant and somewhat broken, he remembered playing at swords with his father when his father had cared to, he remembered running around the keep with Cella, and he remembered getting into trouble with mother over some incident or the other because of Joffrey. Yes Joffrey had been a constant source of trouble for Tommen during his years in King's Landing, he had only seen eight namedays in King's Landing, but his twin had always been a constant source of trouble always doing something or the other and pinning the blame on him. Tommen still had nightmares where he saw Joffrey skinning Mrs Cruickshanks to get to the little kittens. Tommen had protested that, the kittens had all died because of his twin's idiocy and his twin had simply pinned the blame on him and so he had suffered for it. Still he had always loved kittens, he did not know why but he had always had a special affinity to the little cats and even the big cats as well. During his journey to the mountains with Lord Eddard, Robb and Jon he had stared in wonder at the mountain lions that had roamed freely.
As for the Starks, they were his family for all intents and purposes. Yes he loved his father, mother and siblings, and Cella would always hold a special place in his heart, but the Starks, the Starks meant more to him. Lord Eddard was like a second father to him, the man who had taught him what it was to be a man, what it was to wield a sword and had taught him what it meant to be an honourable and just man, yes if he was being true to himself Lord Eddard was his hero, much like his own father was. Lady Catelyn was a kind lady, she was shrewd as well, but to Tommen she had been more of a mother to him than his own mother was, and for that he was every grateful. Then there were the boys he considered brothers, Robb, his drinking partner, his brother in arms, his confidant, Jon the one who always managed to get them out of trouble one way or another. Then there were the girls, Sansa, sweet and beautiful Sansa, gods she had truly grown into a lovely girl, her flowering had brought the best out of her and if he were being true to himself Tommen knew he wanted to be more than just friends with her, but at the same time he knew that was wrong, no doubt she would end up married to his brother. Arya, was a fierce little girl who was always getting into trouble something that was a constant source of amusement to Tommen and his brothers in arms. As for Bran and Rickon, he did not truly know them, not especially but he cared for them all the same.
That was why he was quite nervous as he walked to Lord Eddard's solar, Maester Luwin had come and found him, telling him that Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn wished to speak with him, and though he was convinced that they had managed to stop the water from falling on Theon's head, he would not be surprised if Jon had forgotten to take the water off. Still he and Ser Arys walked in silence to the solar, and when he knocked and was told to enter he walked in and saw both Lord and Lady Stark sat together where Lord Eddard normally sat, he sat down in the chair opposite them both and asked. "You wished to speak with me, my lord my lady?"
As always it was Lord Eddard who spoke first in his deep voice. "We did Tommen, there has been a raven from King's Landing."
Tommen lets that news sink in for a moment, very rarely do his parents write to him anymore, at least his mother rarely writes to him anymore, she did once upon a time, but once he turned four and ten the letters stopped, and yet his father continued writing to him as did Cella. "Why was that my lord?"
"Your family is coming to Winterfell. It seems Robert will be bringing most of the court with him as well. We wished to let you know beforehand." Lord Eddard responds.
Tommen feels something akin to butterflies fluttering in his stomach when he asks. "I do not mean to be rude my lord, but why are they coming? It will take a long time for them come here, and I do not know what the reason could be."
"Can they not just wish to come to see their son, whom they have not seen for eight years Tom?" Lady Catelyn asks kindly.
Tommen looks at his foster mother somewhat surprised. "I do not mean to be rude my lady, but I do not think that my mother would come to the north regardless of whether I was here or not."
He hears Lord Eddard sigh and he knows he is right. "Your name day is fast approaching and you will be one year closer to being a man. And whilst, I am sure that they are wanting to be here for your nameday, the reason why they are coming here is because Jon Arryn has died."
This news shocks Tommen, he remembers the hand of the king somewhat, and the man was always kind to Tommen and always seemed to be strong. "I am sorry my lord, I know he was a good man." he then looks at Lady Catelyn and asks. "I hope Lady Lysa and Lord Robert are well my lady, I know it can be difficult to lose a loved one." Memories of a past love echo through his head but he tries to block them out.
"Thank you sweetling, they are both well. But yes, the royal court is coming to Winterfell. And I am sure you will wish to be prepared for their coming." Lady Catelyn says.
"Thank you for letting me know my lord, my lady. I am sure uncle Gerion will be delighted to see my mother and my uncles. He always goes on about them, perhaps now he can have some new stories to tell." Tommen jokes.
Lady Catelyn laughs whilst Lord Eddard merely smiles. "That is all we wished to say my prince, so unless you have something more to say you are free to go."
Tommen is silent a moment and then says. "I am sure that soon enough Theon will come complaining about having some water spilled on him from one of the doorways. The idea was mine, and mine alone." With that he smiles at them both turns and walks out.
As he walks toward where he knows Robb and Jon will be, Ser Arys his sworn sword and a knight of the Kingsguard asks. "Why did you do that back there my prince? Why lie about the bucket when we both know that it was Jon who planted it there."
Tommen stops and looks at his sworn sword. "Because Jon gets enough grief from Greyjoy for what he is. There is no reason to further aggravate things between the two of them, and besides, Theon would never try retaliating against me whereas he would with Jon."
"So you are doing the noble thing then my prince." Ser Arys says something akin to admiration in his voice.
Tommen feels somewhat uncomfortable but also somewhat proud at the praise. "I was merely doing the right thing. Let Jon have some more fun before my family comes. Gods alone know he won't when they are here." With that they both go silent and walk the rest of the way to the practice yards in silence. When he arrives he sees both Robb and Jon watching Smalljon Umber and Torrhen Karstark sparring. "Evening boys, who is winning the fight today?" he asks casually.
Robb who has his direwolf pup Greywind in his arms turns round and says softly. "Smalljon is winning as per usual. Torrhen just can't seem to wrap his head around the fact that the bigger the man is the harder it will be for him to simply go all in."
"Think you could do any better Stark?" Jon asks. "No doubt you'd go swaggering in and be on your arse in a few moments."
"Better than you would do Snow," Robb responds jokingly.
"We all know I'd last longer than either of you, and more than likely come out on top. Smalljon relies on his strength, he has so many gaps in his defence he'd be dead if this was a real fight." Tommen says sagely.
"Well we are sorry Prince Tommen, the Golden Stag of Winterfell that we lesser mortals cannot see the weaknesses which you claim are there." Robb says bowing mockingly.
Tommen punches his friend on the arm and says. "You'd see them too if you stopped making eyes at Lynora. If you like her so much go and speak to her and have done with it."
Robb blushes at that and says. "Gods you sound like Theon. Not all of us are princes who can get away with doing whatever they like. Some of us have to keep our trousers on."
Tommen roars with laughter then. "Come now Stark, have some fun. You are far too serious by half. And you Snow, if you got some action perhaps you wouldn't be so solemn all the time."
Before Jon can respond, Robb asks. "Well what did mother and father want to speak with you about? The way maester Luwin phrased it made it seem like it was something serious. It wasn't about the water bucket was it?"
"No it was not about the water bucket Robb. My family are coming to Winterfell." He says simply.
"They're coming for your nameday then? Good at least now they're showing some interest in you!" Jon says.
"No they're not coming for my nameday, but they will probably try and make it look that way. Jon Arryn is dead, and so I do believe my father is coming to name your father hand of the king." Tommen says.
"Would the king of Westeros travel all the way to Winterfell to do that? Why not simply send a raven?" Robb asks.
"Because father is not just any lord, he is the man who helped King Robert win the rebellion six and ten years ago. Father is his oldest friend it makes sense he would come to Winterfell to name him hand in person. And that Tommen is here as well, makes it easier for him to come and justify coming." Jon says sagely.
"Jon has it there. My family and the court are coming. No doubt they will all be looking at us wondering why my father would name a Northman hand, but they can go fuck themselves." Tommen responds.
"How are you feeling about them coming Tom?" Jon asks.
Tommen thinks for a moment and then says. "Nervous. I admit I am quite nervous. I have not seen any of them for eight years, and to be truthful corresponding by raven is not the same as speaking to someone face to face. What if they don't like me? What if I disappoint them? What if I don't like them?"
"Who could not like you Tom?" Robb asks incredulously. "You're the perfect prince, everyone knows that. They'd have to be blind or stupid or both not to be proud of you."
"Robb's right Tom, your parents will be proud of you. I know they will. And you will get to see your brother and sister again." Jon responds.
"Aye that is true." Tommen responds.
"Do you want to have a round before we have to go inside Tom?" Robb asks.
Tommen is silent a moment and then says. "No, thanks for the offer, but I need to speak to my uncle. DO you know where he is?"
Both boys are silent a moment and then Jon responds. "More than likely at the Smoking Log."
"Thank you." Tommen says, as he turns round and walks off in the direction of the inn. He walks through the winding pathways of Winterfell saying hello to various people he passes with Ser Arys as his white shadow as the night begins. After much walking he enters the Smoking Log, and after a quick glance finds his uncle at the bar, he walks over and calls for an ale. He sits next to his uncle and says. "I trust you have heard the news uncle?"
His uncle was always a jester and a drinker, his golden hair turning somewhat grey, his green eyes though are still alive with life. "Aye, Jon Arryn is dead and the King comes to name Lord Eddard hand. Your mother will be coming as well. Gods help us all."
Tommen smiles slightly. "Will you still be going to Casterly Rock uncle with them coming?"
His uncle takes a swig of ale and then responds. "Aye. This journey must happen. After years of reading and looking I finally know where Brightroar is. I cannot give up this opportunity."
"And you are sure Brightroar will be where you think it is? This is not some false hope like the last time?" Tommen asks.
"I am certain of it." His uncle says.
"And what of Tyrek? Will he go with you?" Tommen asks.
"No, Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn have said Tyrek can remain here. Be good to him and keep him away from Greyjoy whilst I am away will you." His uncle says.
"Of course. How long do you think you will be gone for uncle?" Tommen asks.
His uncle takes another swig of ale and then responds. "A moon at most, I cannot stand to be round Tywin longer than that. Two weeks to ride to the Rock, a week there and then a week riding back. I will have the sword and still be back before the royal party comes."
"You are confident then." Tommen responds.
His uncle turns and gives him a sly smile. "Of course. No point not being confident, I am a Lannister not a Martell, if I want to do something I will get it done quickly."
"Of course uncle of course. But you will be here for when father and Cella come right? I don't think either of them would be happy if you were not here." Tommen says.
"Oh aye, I do not think I'd want to miss seeing my favourite niece. She seems to have grown into a lovely woman. You might have to keep Robb and Jon away from her aha." His uncle responds.
"Oh I don't doubt she has, but I do not think it will be Robb or Jon I would have to keep away from her. More than likely Theon Greyjoy." Tommen says grimly.
"True, very true. But you do realise what this means do you not. No doubt betrothals will be made, your father wants a Stark and a Baratheon married to one another. Either your sister or brother will come away with Stark marriages. Make sure little Sansa is not the one going south at the end of this." His uncle says before he finishes his drink and stands up.