I do not own Game of Thrones
Lyanna had done everything in her power including begging her father to call off the wedding with Robert Baratheon but it had all been for naught. Even in the tourney of Harrenhal, he had been found whoring around when she arrived. He had apologized and promised to not do anything like this after marriage but there was no way a man's nature would just change.
She did not want to marry anyone to begin with. She wanted to be a lord of her own castle. She wanted to be as free as the Dothraki riders and ride a horse with the wind into the sunset. The very idea of pushing out babies for some lord husband disgusted her. All of that was before she had met her dream prince Rheagar Targaryen.
The past few days had been a blur and she could not believe all that had happened. The incident with Frey cunts and a little cranogman Howland Reed. Then she got to play hero as the knight of laughing tree. It provoked Aerys something fierce but she was caught and saved by Rhaegar. He then won the tourney and crowned her as 'the queen of love and beauty' instead of his wife Elia.
It was rash but it proved that he loved her as surely as the old nan's stories were just that. There could be absolutely no other reason why the prince would risk his position and claim her in front of everyone. He was a handsome, melancholic and charming singer not to mention strong, skilled and bold. All the ladies wanted him and he would be all hers.
There was still Elia but the prince was intelligent. No way would he have suggested what he did if he did not have a plan to resolve the situation with the Dornish princess. He would surely set her aside and send her back to Dorne beforehand so that Elia would be safe and out of the way. Lyanna would leave everything to him as he was a grown up and had given her a way out by the promise to run away with her.
She thought about her family but quickly discarded it. Her mother Lyarra was dead. Her father Rickard did not listen to her. Brandon was whoring around like Robert and Ned was most likely the reason for all of this to begin with for being his best friend. They could all die for all she cared. Why should she care about them if the did not care for her? Benjen was the only one who made her hesitate but she would already be queen by the time he grew up. She prayed to old gods for success on the night before escape, and collapsed.
She opened her eyes and was surprised to find herself in an ethereal state. Was she dead? Did Robert kill her after finding about her plans? Her musings stopped short when she saw a muscular Northman in front of her. He was dressed well but out of fashion, like an ancient lord playing at being a craftsman. She was immediately on guard.
"Who are you? I'm warning you that I can fight."
"Sure you can. It would be a sad day if one of my descendants could not."
"Descendants? You are a Stark?"
"I was one. The ghost of winter's past."
"What? Ghost, what?"
"Ah, I probably shouldn't go too meta. Don't mind it. I was Brandon the Builder."
"WHAT? No way! You are lying!"
"Oh, then shall I tell you some secrets of Winterfell that you think only you know?"
Lyanna could tell deep down that he was telling the truth but she was still suspicious. Of his intent rather than his identity. Her ancestor from 8000 years ago must have come to stop her from escaping for family honor and all that crap. Unknowingly tears appeared in her eyes at the thought that no one of their bloodline was on her side.
"Why? This is so unfair. Am I really so wrong to not want to be with that womanizing brute?"
"Of course not! As just a girl, what Lyanna's father is doing to her is completely unfair!"
Lyanna froze in shock. She did not expect support from the founder of her family. She did not wonder about why she was being suddenly spoken of in third person.
"Then why are you here? Are you going to help me?"
"Naturally. I will show you stuff to help you get a better perspective about your escape."
She happily accepted the deal without comprehending the wordplay and so the long long night adventure would begin.
The two ghost like beings could conveniently fly or teleport. The ancient Stark led her to the bedroom of the lord of Winterfell where her mother had just given birth. Young Brandon and Eddard were nervously waiting outside while Rickard had entered just then. She saw all of that with emotion and felt a bit more guilt in her plan to run away but swiftly squashed it. It would take much more to sway her resolve.
"What is important about this event? How will it help me?"
"Our target is a bit different. This is but a time marker."
He led her to a different place in Winterfell itself where another woman was giving birth. There was no one with skill to help her except a few women friends acting as midwives. She watched in shock as the birth failed and the woman and babe both died.
"How ...?" Lyanna whispered in shock.
"The lack of a skilled person caused this. These are not some peasants. They are your direct servants in the castle who usually had access to the maester."
"But then ..."
"Your and your mothers health was much more important. No way would Rickard allow him to be distracted. Even the people who suffered would not ask for it."
No. He was wrong. They surely hate her for it. The husband was immobile and likely not able to think at all. As for the women ...
"Its just her bad luck. For it to happen at the same time as the lady was delivering."
"Its unfortunate but better than risking the life of the lady and her babe. Starks have always been good to us. If our men risk their life for them then we can do the same."
She could not believe the things she was hearing. Why weren't they cursing her? Two lives snuffed out because of her.
No, this was just the direct result inside her home.
The general populace didn't even have access to anyone but woodswitch and such. And yet they accepted it all. There had to be resentment somewhere but people held her life as more precious than their's as if it was natural.
Brandon led her to the next event which was her stealing cake from the kitchens alongside the living Brandon while a storm was raging outside. She was scared of what she would see next.
"I see that my namesake is really lacking in discipline."
"Bran and I were bored with nowhere to go. Ned did not join in."
"But do you know where the ingredients come from and how much they cost? I see some that weren't even in the North when I was alive. Specially to bring them in this snow storm of the winter."
Lyanna had no idea. She simply enjoyed life's blessings but never looked deeper. She wasn't like the regular haughty nobles. She befriended common folk but they never told her their problems. Brandon then led her north of the castle. A family was giving a tearful goodbye to an old couple. They all looked skinny but the old couple was nearly all bones. The old woman specially seemed near death.
" At least take some food with you father."
"That would destroy the purpose of us leaving ya dolt. We'll find berries or something. Feed the young'uns properly."
sniff "If only we didn't have to give so much of our grain in tax ..."
He could not finish as the old man slapped him surprisingly hard for how skinny he was.
"Its only because of Starks blessings that we are here today spite of such harsh land and weather. Do ya want to be ruled by the Red Kings? Or one of those southern cunts? Our livelihood and culture are both saved by the Kings of Winter, but now they've to send tax down south to those dragon cunts who do nothing for us in return."
Lyanna could not believe it. Her family was being defended even in this situation.
"They are doing everything for us and never asking for any sacrifice in return. The least us old'uns can do is reduce the mouths to feed. If you ever curse the Direwolf banner, then I and your mother will come back from beyond the grave to haunt ya."
Lyanna speechlessly saw the old couple leave into the storm.
"What will happen to them?"
"The old woman will die for sure. The old man will most likely as well. At least he is hoping to but if he survives to the wall, then he will join the Night's Watch."
She was led back to Winterfell lords solar but time had clearly changed as winter had visibly ended and it was spring.
Maester handed the report of the number of old people who sacrificed themselves to lord Rickard which he grimly saw. To Lyanna's surprise, her father's hand trembled for an instant before steadying. When she saw the number, she fell hard on her ghost knees.
The surroundings fell away and she was back to where her body was with Brandon the builder.
"So do you understand it now? The price of your life and position? Do you now have a better perspective about your escape? Food, lavish clothes, security of castle, medicine and other things all come from sacrifice of others. Rickard understands this debt and carries the weight on his shoulders."
She looked up towards her ancestor from a position still on her knees. He no longer looked jovial but rather a lord with terrible power. Someone who built the ridiculous wall. His presence itself seemed to crush her.
"As just a girl, what Lyanna's father is doing to her is completely unfair. But you are Lyanna Stark. What your father is doing to you and your siblings is as fair as life gets."