They say that no matter how much agony and pain one feels, the heart continues to beat just the same. If I blink, I just might miss the world turning. I knew a pain in my life that should have ended me. I lost so much, too much, yet my heart continued beating just the same. It was true, all of it, that a person's will to live is the strongest emotion, sometimes even stronger than love and hate. I had many reasons to want death. I had many reasons to give up my fight, but I pressed on. My reward is that I survived.
I stand in the Godswood, below my father's tree for the last time. I take in the beauty around me, take in the ghost of my family that have went on before me. At my side are my brothers, the last living Starks of my father's line. We look out at Winterfell together, seeing the place of our childhood restored to its former glory. Six years it took to resurrect the shattered stone. But now, it stands as a testament to man's resilience. My brother Bran is lord of Winterfell and Prince of the North. By Queen Daenerys' own orders, the north was able to keep their prince. He will be a good prince, I know this. The people of the north love him dearly, and he returns that love with his own.
Jon stood beside me in the black of the Night's Watch. He will go and make right what was once put asunder. For this, he had to sacrifice even more. He had to sacrifice his heart's desire. It was no secret that he and Daenerys had fallen in love, but when all was said and done he chose his duty to Westeros before his love for a queen. Daenerys never tried to talk him out of it, but had given him one last kiss goodbye. Perhaps she understood his duty to protect Westeros, for she shared that same duty, and it came before the desires of the heart. Since that day, I have not seen my brother truly smile with joy.
Not all had the strength to go on living, though. It was said that two years after Cersei was sentenced to the walls of Casterly Rock, the woman gave up the will to live. They said that the ghosts of her family and the loss of Jamie was enough to drive her mad. The day they found her, she was lying on the floor, covered in Jamie's old clothing from when they were children. Her beautiful, blonde hair had turned stark white. Her eyes sat open and staring, and her beautiful skin had turned wrinkled before her time. In the end, her despair had killed her. They laid the woman in the tomb beside her brother, which is more than I feel she deserved. Not all was lost to the Lannisters. Cersei and Jamie's children have grown into thriving adults. Myrcella married her Dornish prince and have given him many sons. They say love flows through that home. Tommen and Tyrion are in the freecities. It has been told that Tommen has turned into a handsome, strong young man. He is what his brother Joffrey should have been. A combination of what his parents could have been.
Petyr Baelish did not go unscathed either. It was now known to everyone all of the horrible things that man did in the name of power. My own aunt was a victim, yet she was not innocent herself. I remember the day word came to Winterfell of Lord Baelish taking a flying leap from the moon door. It was said it took them days to pick up the pieces that were left of him. No one knows for sure what actually took place, but many stories were told. Some said that Petyr could not handle the isolation of the Vale. In his lust for power, he wanted more, yet there was nothing more to have, except the palace in the sky. He flung himself to his death, for he felt there was no other way to escape his high prison. Others said he was thrown from the moon door. They said he was thrown by a ghost, by a woman that had faced death and had returned. Lady Stoneheart's name had been whispered to have ended Lord Baelish's life. I am not sure the true story of his demise, but I find that I cannot feel sorry for the man. He deserved all that he received.
Not every story had a sad ending. The winter my father spoke of never came. Perhaps it was the defeat of the White Walkers that killed the winter, or perhaps it is the magic now felt in the world with the coming of the dragons. Maybe the heat from their bodies kept summer alive. Whatever it is, I thank the gods for its existence. The people of Westeros have suffered enough.
The Brotherhood without Banners scattered to the wind, most of them going to King's Landing to serve Queen Daenerys. The people of the Riverlands are safe now. It is said that the inn is still there, housing the orphans and serving mead to the men. People talk of the owner, of the girl with the sad eyes. I know without a doubt they speak of Jeyne. The girl lost just as much as anyone else during the war. Perhaps one day I will talk Gendry into he and I going to visit her, though I do not think the sight of us will do her any good.
Peace has come to Westeros, yet I am not naive enough to think this peace will last. The human soul is too tainted for such peace to last. One day, someone will come along with a mind like Cersei's, or a hunger for power like Lord Baelish. Though it make take many years, war will come again. That is why I hold to hope that the Targaryens will live on, for with them their will be dragons. Daenerys has yet to marry again. Thinking as a woman, I know she holds out hope that Jon will come back to her. Perhaps I will have a long chat with my brother soon.
I turned and kissed Bran on the top of his head. He is crying, the same as me and Jon, yet I do not give in to my sorrow. I whisper my goodbyes to him, turning towards Jon. He grabs me tightly, breathing in the smell of my hair.
"Take care of yourself," he whispers in my ear.
I squeeze him one last time before letting go. Reaching up on the tips of my toes, I place a delicate kiss upon his cheek. My tears mix with his. With one last look around me, I turn my back on the Godswood and walk towards where I know Gendry is.
The forge is before me, and I can hear voices inside. Those voices have been the light in the darkness for me. When I would feel the hand of despair trying to consume me, it took but a whisper of those voices to bring me back out. I watched from the door, my presence undetected. Gendry stood by the anvil, pointing to the tools, as a boy of five sat atop his head. The boy was black of hair like his father and his grandfather. I remember the moment that precious child came into this world. It had been a long, grueling labor, but at the end, I held a miracle in my arms. Gendry had looked upon the boys face with more love than I had ever seen. He had cried and laughed all at the same time. Even now, watching them, a father's love was evident. We had named him Robert Eddard. We called him Rob.
The boy with eyes as blue as the oceans they were made from turned his head to look at me. His face beamed with a smile, his eyes sparkling. "Mummy," he called.
Gendry turned from the anvil, his face smiling as well. I wiped the last of the tears from my eyes and walked towards them. Wrapping my arms around my husband's waist, I took a deep, long breath. Gendry's hand slipped to my swelling stomach like it usually did. Our little family was continuing to grow. I had only two months remaining until our second child was to come into this world.
"Are you ready?" Gendry asked me.
I nod my head, finding it difficult to speak. Gendry and I had stayed in Winterfell as long as it took for my childhood home to be rebuilt. With blood and sweat, we helped to resurrect each stone. Now that that was done, it was time for us to leave. I just needed to know that Winterfell would live on, and now that I knew a Stark would always remain in Winterfell, I knew I could move on. At first, when Gendry had said it would be alright for us to stay, I had thought long and hard over it. My answers came to me one night as I visited my families tombs. This place ceased to be my home the moment I left it for King's Landing. Though Winterfell would forever be in my blood, it did not need me anymore, just as I did not need it. But there was one place that did need us, or rather needed Gendry. So, we decided it was time to leave. When I had told my brothers, we had cried, but both of them agreed with my decision.
Me, Gendry and Rob turned from the forge, making our way towards the carriage awaiting us. The people of Winterfell were there to wish us a safe journey. I hugged my brothers one last time, staring towards the Stark crypts.
"Goodbye," I whispered.
Jon and Gendry helped me into the carriage, and I watched as Winterfell became just a dot behind me. Finally, I had completely left my childhood behind. Rob laid his head upon my lap and slept the whole trip. The landscape outside the window rolled passed in a mixture of greens and browns. I felt a peace fall upon me, something I had never felt before. It felt as though my life was truly beginning now. Perhaps even the gods would find it in themselves to allow me to be happy.
It took us days to get where we were going, to get home. The large castles sat before us as Gendry helped me out of the carriage. He picked Rob up and placed the boy on his shoulders, his smile as bright as the sun. I watched him watching our new home, watched the pride swell within him.
People began to gather at the gates, thousands of them coming to see their new lord and lady. Their smiles matched Gendry's, for it had been years since a Baratheon sat in their midst. A cheer rose towards the sky, men and women singing and clapping. Together, I walked with my husband and son to greet our people. I followed my husband to my new home. At the front of the masses, Mya waited to welcome us home. She ran towards us, capturing us in a hug.
The people's cries of joy and clapping rose in volume as Gendry looked over at me, tears in his eyes.
"You and me?" he whispered.
"You and me," I answered, tears in my eyes as well.
We followed the people passed the high walls, their singing and clapping continuing, for the Lord and Lady of Storm's End had finally come home.
A/N: I just want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read this story. It has been such a wonderful experience playing with these Characters, and I have fallen more in love with them. You people have all been so wonderful with your comments, and I am so humbled and thankful, and I dedicate this story to all of you! Bye for now, until we meet again...