So I just recently re-read the first part of this story and I thought I should add some more. Thanks to little miss michelle, Charing, golden elanor, -06, stromberg, First Death, Elelith, and Einsteinette for reviewing :)
This is what happens after Robb rescues Arya, and how they spend their first day, reunited. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Game of Thrones or ASOIAF.
When Arya awoke she felt warm and comfortable; it was feeling with which she had been parted for more than a year now. Her comfort disappeared when she realized she was in an unfamiliar place, lying in soft furs. From the looks of it, she was in some sort of tent. It was large, but not so much so that it was overly huge. It wasn't lash either, but held all the comforts a person could need. For some reason, the Stark girl thought she was safe here.
You are in unfamiliar territory; escape. The thought that appeared in her mind was almost automatic. It was her first instinct now, to run, to get away. It used to be fight, but now she preferred to do her battling from deep within the shadows, where she could remain unseen.
What happened yesterday? She vaguely remembered the bandits, her friends trying to help her but failing, and getting themselves into trouble as well. She also remembered a rider with a wolf, and the rider had the most familiar blue eyes...
Arya knew she was dreaming; she had to be. How else could she have returned to her brother? She felt like crying suddenly, a feeling that was quite rare for her. It would be such a good dream.
Quietly, she got of the bed where she lay, looking down to find she no longer wore the filthy rags that she had been. She wore a fresh pair of breeches, a light green tunic over it; both were a size or two too big but they would do. Looking around the tent, she saw that the chair next the bed had been neatly piled up with things. There was a thick brown cloak, and a fox fur. Underneath lay her dagger, the one that she had stolen, and a leather belt. She donned the cloak, all too familiar with the cold of the North, and wrapped the fur around her shoulders. Tying the belt around her waist, she slipped the dagger in it.
As she headed towards the entrance of the tent, she found herself looking into a polished piece of metal that most likely served as a looking glass. She was surprised by the girl who looked back. Arya was clean now, face free of dirt, her hair falling into soft locks around her chin. Her throat was swollen and purple, from where the bandit had held her; that much actually happened, she thought. She put the metal down, frowning. I have to find Gendry and Hotpie and get out of here. Before she went anywhere, though, she noticed something that she had yet to see. On a wooden chest, there was a folded banner. Cautiously, she unfolded. There was the head of a direwolf on a field of white and green.
The banner of House Stark, her house.
So it all really happened. Robb had saved her. She was here with her family. She was safe. All thoughts of escape left her mind as she traced the outline of her sigil, feeling a heavy burden leave her. No more running. It was an almost alien thought.
"Planning on going somewhere?" A voice interrupted her thoughts as a hand touched her shoulder. She immediately whipped around to face her attacker, putting her dagger to his throat. Her eyes widened as she saw Robb looking down at her, his own eyes sad. "It's just me, little sister, I am not going to hurt you." He whispered to her, hands up in a placating gesture. She took a shuddering breath, pulling the dagger away and dropping it as she looked at her hands in shock. Would she really have attacked Robb?
"I'm sorry." She said quietly, voice thick.
"Sorry? What do you have to be sorry about, Arya?" She peeked up at him, surprised to see him smiling at her. "I should be proud of you; you know to be cautious." This time when he brought hand down on her shoulder, she did not flinch away. Her frown deepened when she saw a small line of red on his throat.
"But, I hurt you." At this, her brother chuckled.
"If I recall, this would not be the first time, little one." He said, eyes sparkling with mirth. It was the truth, Arya had always been a fierce and stubborn child, and when her older brothers teased her, she was not afraid to hit them with all her might. She smiled a little at the memories. "There she is. My sister finally gives me a smile; I had worried you turned into Jon." At this, her smile widened, as she shook her head.
"Idiot." She muttered.
"It has been said." Came his reply, as he patted her cheek gently. He then moved her head to the side a little, inspecting her injured throat as if that was the first he saw of it. Arya saw his lip tighten in anger, eyes burning. It was not an expression she often saw on Robb's face; he was usually such a calm and amiable person. The only time she had ever seen get truly angry was when someone insulted his family. "I wish I could have made him suffer." His voice low and growling, sounding like the warrior he was. Arya suddenly saw her brother as others did; the Young Wolf, King in the North, Robb Stark. When she had first heard tales of his battles, she had not believed her kind and gentle brother was responsible for them. But now she understood; her brother was a wolf just like her.
"We should get that looked at." The image of the warrior was suddenly gone, as Robb's voice turned back to its comforting Northern lilt. He pulled his hand away. "I fear your clothing is too large for you, but we did not have proper wear. There aren't young girls in a war camp."
"I was never a proper lady, anyway." She replied, with a snort.
"Mother would have a fit if she saw you like this." Robb chuckled.
"Mother is here?" Arya questioned, hope creeping into her voice. She was confused why Robb's own face fell, and turned dark.
"Yes, she is." He stated bluntly.
"Can I see here?"
"Later, little one." She was about to protest when Robb held out a hand and continued. "First we need to get you fed; you look even skinnier than I remember." At the mention of food, her stomach began growling and she looked sheepishly up at her older brother.
He just smirked knowingly in return.
When she first stepped out of the tent, she wasn't sure what to make of the camp apart from the initial awe. This is what a war camp looked like? It was huge and Arya couldn't help but wonder how many bannerman fought for the King in the North. She stuck close to her brother as he weaved his way knowingly through the maze of tents and structures.
The men around them parted as they made their way, some bowing or calling out 'You Grace', others greeting Robb like old friends and, yet, none of them were familiar to Arya. But, some still greeted her, calling her princess. She was no princess.
Arya couldn't help but feel a bit panicked. She had not been the centre of attention for a long time and now she was right smack in the middle; she could feel the stares, everyone curious to see the 'princess'. So lost in thought, she didn't notice that Robb had gotten far ahead of her. When she brought her head up and could no longer see him, she felt her panic rise. Whipping her head around, she looked for signs of him, when one of the men approached her slowly.
"Are you in need of something, my princess?"He asked, kindly, keeping his voice steady so as not to scare the young girl. Little did he know that Arya Stark did not get scare so easily.
"No." She glared at the man, and he stepped back. She felt suddenly as if she were in enemy territory, alone and small against hundreds of formidable enemies. She ran forward, searchingly. Where are you, Robb? She felt a hand on her arm and turned around to punch her enemy straight in the face. The 'enemy' let out a hiss of pain, bringing his hand to his cheek.
"Seven Hells, 'Arry! It's just me!" Gendry said, causing her to scowl.
"You idiot!" She yelled.
"I'm the idiot? You're the one who punched me for no reason! You could have broken my nose!" He shouted back. They both stood, glaring at each other until they felt their anger drift off a little. Arya looked around to notice that people were still looking at her, and now they seemed to be paying even more attention. She decided to ignore it and instead turned to Gendry to reply.
"It would have been an improvement." She stated, causing the older boy to roll his eyes.
"Bloody pain in my arse." She heard him mutter, as she smirked. She took the opportunity to see that her friend was cleaner than she had ever seen him, and he wore new clothes much like her own; only minus the rich cloak and instead wearing the leather over-jacket he was so fond of. She also noticed that he had a few fresh burns on his hands.
"You are working as a smith?" She asked, bluntly.
"Yes, his Grace was most generous and offered Hotpie and I a place here with you Northmen, princess." He added on mockingly, chuckling when the petite girl scowled at him. "You've been asleep for almost a day and a half, you know."
"What?" She looked shocked.
"'It's true. His Grace ordered you placed in his tent the minute he arrived, and sat by your side all through the day and the night, he only left once to give command to his bannermen." As if he heard them, the minute Gendry finished speaking, came the arrival of the King in the North himself.
"Arya!" He bellowed. "There you are! Do you know how worried I was to turn and find you missing, again?" He gripped her tightly by the shoulders, nearly shaking her in his worry. "You have to stay with me, little one. It is not safe for a little girl to be in any war camp, even mine."
"I'm not a little girl anymore, Robb." She stated, fire in her eyes. Her brother took a step back, examining her.
"You really aren't, are you?" He sighed. His voice was tired and full of sadness as he let go of her shoulders, running a hand through his hair, the emotion clear in his bright blue eyes. He cleared his throat and his face immediately became a strong shield, a wall against those who would harm them and Arya felt sad to see her usually gentle brother change so much; she supposed they all had, though. Robb turned around and Gendry quickly bowed to him in respect.
"Your Grace." The boy stated and her brother nodded to him.
"Gendry. How is the smithy treating you?" He asked.
"Well, Your Grace."
"I'm glad to hear. Should you need of anything, or desire anything of me, you must only ask; you helped bring my sister back to me and for that I am ever in your debt." Robb said and Arya was reminded of their father; he too had spoken in such sure and measured tones. Robb is really like him. Gendry simply nodded at the eldest Stark, not knowing what to say in response to that.
"Forgive me, but I think the smithy needs me. Your Grace. Princess." He bowed to them both, separately, before going off. Arya frowned at his formality, had she not already told him a hundred times over she was no lady? Still, she would have to yell at him later for it as her brother gestured her forward.
"Come, I promised you to be fed, little one." Robb said, an arm going around Arya's skinny shoulders, leading her forward. He would not lose her in the crowd this time.
Robb and Arya had taken their midday meal in what her brother called the council tent. They had eaten in a peaceful silence, and yet there was still a feeling of foreboding about it. As she finished her last mouthful of food, she wasn't even sure what it was, all she knew was it was edible and she was starving, she quickly washed it all down with some water. She put her goblet back down to find Robb staring at her.
"Arya... What happened? I thought the Lannisters had you in King's Landing..." She looked at her hands, avoiding his burning blue gaze.
"They never had me." She whispered, glancing up to see his momentary surprise before it was quickly masked.
"That must be why they didn't mention you..." She heard him faintly mutter under his breath. "How?" Is all he asked, and she knew what he meant.
"When the Gold Cloaks came to get me, I was with Syrio, my dancing teacher. I was going to go with them; they said Father sent them. But Syrio knew better, and asked why Father hadn't sent his own guard. He told me to run, and I did. I heard him fighting for me, but I couldn't stay. I lived on the streets, until I heard people talking about the Hand of the King." Here, she stopped for a minute, hands trembling slightly.
"They... They took Father to the square, the 'Traitor' they called him." She swallowed the sudden lump in her throat, and her voice quietened. "Said he was going to be put to death. So I ran there, fast as I could. When I got there I couldn't see anything, so I stood on the statue of Baelor... and they dragged Father out, his hands were tied and the people, they were screaming... screaming for him to die. I don't understand; they didn't even know him." Had she been looking up, Arya would have seen her brother's hands tighten, jaw tight with fury; they let a little girl witness her father die?
"Sansa was there too, on the platform." Arya continued. "Father confessed. I don't know why he did, but, he was no traitor. I'm sure of it." She exclaimed fiercely. "But, Joffrey, he called for Father's head. I couldn't let it happen, so I ran off into the crowd. I was running to Father, but then Yoren, he stopped me."
"Yoren of the Night's Watch?" Robb interrupted, a little confused. Arya nodded, glancing back to her hands.
"Father sent him to me, to protect me. Yoren told me not to look... and Ilyn Payne, Joffrey's executioner, he took Father's head, killed him." She look back up at her brother, rage in her eyes. "The bastard didn't even do it himself. Father always said the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword and he couldn't even do that!" She almost shook in her anger. "I don't know what happened after that to Sansa. Yoren pulled me away, called me 'boy'. He chopped off all my hair, and told me he would bring me home, with the recruits for the Wall. He told me I would have to pretend to be a boy, and to call myself 'Arry'."
"Yoren and the recruits never made it back. The Lord Commander of the Night's Watch thought them to be lost, or killed." Robb inserted, wonderingly.
"Yoren was killed, after the Gold Cloaks found us. He died protecting us, me and Gendry."
"Gendry?" Arya nodded at her brother's question.
"The Gold Cloaks were looking for him, though we don't know why. I managed to trick them into thinking that one of the boys they killed was Gendry, and they took the rest of as prisoners, to Harrenhal." Robb gazed at her silently. "They kept us in pens, the cells were full, and every day they picked one of us to interrogate and brought him to the Tickler, who tortured them until they talked. They asked about things I didn't know anything about, but I was never picked. One day, though, I don't know how long after, they picked Gendry but right before anything happened, Tywin Lannister came riding in. He put a stop to it, said they needed skilled workers.
"Tywin Lannister was there?" Robb questioned, this time not hiding his shock. She nodded again.
"And he's as smart as they say; he knew right away I wasn't a boy, and, I don't know why, but he took me as his cup-bearer."
"He must've seen you for what you are; a wolf."
"He knew I was a Northerner," She smiled lightly, "Even when I tried to hide it. I served him for a while, heard them speaking about you. 'The boy who never lost a battle, the Young Wolf.'" This time she really did smile, but it soon turned to stone. "One night, Lord Tywin said he was going after you in the night and he told me to stay and serve the Mountain. I couldn't let him do that, but he left before I could stop it. I knew I couldn't stay any longer, so Gendry, Hotpie, and I escaped. We've been walking North ever since."
It didn't escape her that she mentioned nothing of Jaqen and how he aided her. Or the offer he made. Valar Morghulis, she thought. Arya had a feeling Robb would be less than approving of her new friend. So, for now, she would leave it out.
"We didn't walk for as long as I thought we would when ran out of food. Then the bandits came." Unconsciously, her hand rose to her throat. "And you came and you saved me." She didn't even notice that tears had been dripping down her cheeks the entire time until Robb crouched before her, and his hands cupped her face. Her vision blurred with tears as, for once, she looked down at her brother.
"I'm sorry, little one. I am sorry I wasn't there to protect you." She could not stop the small sob that made it out of her. She was no longer innocent, but when she was around her family... They brought out the child in her, the hidden vulnerability that she kept locked away at all times. And the childish side of her wanted nothing more than to be protected by her big brother. "You were so brave, Arya. Father would have been so proud of you." He stroked her tears away. "I am so proud of you."
She let him pull her into a warm embrace, hiding her face in his neck.
Home, she thought, I'm home.
Arya had never felt such anger as she did after Robb had told her of what had been happening in her home. The North had gone through a lot the past few months; Winterfell had been through a lot.
Theon Greyjoy had betrayed them and taken her childhood home, her little brothers included.
In this case, her fury was understandable. She was seething, and she could tell Robb was as well, though he hid it much better than she did. Still, she managed to calm herself as he led her across the camp; he wanted her injuries to get looked at. She stuck close, not wanting to get lost again.
We will get you back, little brothers. Just like we will get Sansa back too.
As she calmed, she also thought of her mother, Catelyn Stark. She had let the Kingslayer, that blasted Jaime Lannister, who pushed Bran from the window, she also learned, go. For her and for Sansa. She couldn't tell whether she was angry or she was happy about that. She hated that Robb no longer trusted their mother, though she knew Lady Stark had brought it upon herself. She knew that her brother still loved their mother, just like he always would. At least now she knew why he was so adamant against them seeing her.
They reached their destination, it seemed, as they approached a horse-drawn carriage where a dark-haired woman sat. Arya slowed down; she was distrustful of people she did not know. It was something she had learned from her time on the road.
"Lady Talisa." Robb walked to the woman, pulling the resisting Arya behind him as she scowled.
"Your Grace." The woman said, as she looked up from the carriage. She looked gently at her brother, with a small smile that seemed rather strange as she wore blood-soaked clothes. Arya felt some of her suspicion melt away, though she was still cautious. Robb pulled her in front of him and let go of her hand, his own hands going to her shoulders as he led her to Lady Talisa.
"This is my sister, Arya." Talisa turned her eyes to the young girl; she must have seen the bruises and cuts littering her as she immediately approached the pair.
"Princess, it's a pleasure to finally meet you," She said in sweet yet strong voice. "I've been told many things about you." The younger girl didn't say anything, but looked at her brother instead who nodded as if to say 'go on'. "May I tend your injuries, princess?" By now the exotic-looking woman was standing right in front of Arya.
"Arya, my name's Arya." She corrected. I am no Lady, she thought.
"Arya then." Talisa smiled, before gesturing towards her neck. Arya felt Robb squeeze her shoulder in assurance, and the young girl nodded cautiously. She walked toward Lady Talisa, who told her to sit in the carriage.
"Forgive me, this may hurt." Lady Talisa stated as she tilted the girls head back to look at the dark purple splotches.
"I am used to it." Arya said quietly, avoiding the woman's sympathetic gaze. "I'm sorry about my brother; he can be a protective oaf sometimes." She said changing the topic as she gestured to Robb who stood watching over them with his arms crossed, a small smile gracing his face.
"I know." The other woman replied with a knowing smirk, causing Arya smile a little. She reached over into a small box in the carriage and grabbed a cloth, before opening a skin filled with yellowish liquid and soaking the cloth with it. Talisa then proceeded to dab Arya's sensitive throat with it. "This should help with the swelling. I will give you a skin of it and you should use it at least twice a day." She handed the younger girl the cloth. "Hold that to your neck a moment, if you please. Do you have any other injuries?" For a moment, the Stark girl thought she would lie and say she didn't so that she could leave, but she surprised herself by instead nodding and holding out her right hand where there was a deep cut. Talisa quickly inspected it.
"You are quite lucky, princess, this wound will not need to be sewed shut, but you will need to be careful with it." Her hand was then quickly wrapped, and the healer took away the cloth and handed her the drinking skin filled with the medicine. Arya accepted it with a slight nod. "Hopefully now your brother will not be such an oaf." Arya smiled at this, before jumping off the cart and running to Robb.
She missed the way Robb returned Talisa's gentle smile.
Arya took a deep breath, before heading towards the tent in front of her. Robb had finally conceded into letting her see her mother for the first time in near a year. He would never have kept Arya from her, but he was not willing to let her out of sight, so even though he wished he could avoid it, he too went to see Catelyn Stark.
Arya entered with a hesitance much unlike herself, and she saw the figure of her mother sitting down at a wooden desk looking over some papers.
"Who is there?" Lady Stark asked, not looking up as she heard the footfalls of two people behind her.
"Mother..." Came a tentative whisper that Catelyn had wished she would hear ever since it was taken from her. She whipped around to see not only one, but two of her children standing there before her. She scanned her little girl briefly who gazed at her uncompromisingly. She was dressed like a boy, with hair as short as Brienne's and there were bruises littering her, her throat swollen, and yet she still had such fire in her.
"Arya." She stood and rushed forward, pulling the young girl into her arms. "My sweet girl. You have returned to me, thank the Seven." She whispered as she felt skinny arms returning her embrace. "I had heard the rumours of your return but I could scarce believe it. And, now, here you are in my arms!" Tears overwhelmed the older woman as she hugged her daughter. She pulled back, keeping her hands on her shoulders. "Are you all right, sweet child?"
"I am fine, Mother. Robb took care of me." Arya replied, emotionally. She was unused to her mother's kind and gentle words; Arya was the disappointing daughter, the one that was hard to understand. But, now, seeing her mother's reactions, all doubts of her remaining unloved flew from her mind.
"Why did you not tell me?" Catelyn turned to her son, angrily.
"Forgive me, Mother, but I had other things to tend to." Robb replied, lowly. "She was unconscious for a day and a half! I did not think to tell you, I was concerned over her wellbeing. And when she woke, I needed to get her fed, and taken to the healer."
"The healer?" Lady Stark asked with an eyebrow raised to her firstborn, oh yes, she knew all about the healer.
"Please, do not argue." They both looked surprised to Arya; she was never one to stop fights of any sort, and yet here she was telling them to stop. So they did.
"All right, little one." Robb said, smiling down at his younger sister.
"Good." The girl replied with an unbidden ferocity, causing an unexpected half-chuckle, half-cry from her mother.
"Oh, Arya, how I've missed you!" The woman said, tears dripping from her eyes.
The young Stark smiled her first genuine, wide smile of the day.
After their visit with their mother, Robb had insisted Arya come with him to meet with the council, something about a formal introduction and informing them of her recent activities as an impromptu spy in Lord Tywin's ranks. He used a lot of big words and eventually she lost interest; still, she knew she did not want to meet with them.
"Do I have to act proper?" She asked her brother, following him.
"It is expected of you." He said in a considering voice. "But we are Starks, not like those Southron Lords and Ladies who only use etiquette and know nothing of cold... Besides, you are their princess and they will respect you or I will make them respect you..." He smirked a bit.
"So, I can act as I want?" She asked him, just to be sure.
"I suppose you could, though you didn't hear it from me." He turned around to face his sister, surprised to she had stopped walking and was looking at him in confusion.
"I don't need to change?" She questioned, not sure if she would believe. Everyone always told her she should be more ladylike, that she was not a boy and she should not act as such. Even her father, may he rest in peace, though he allowed her to train in swordplay, never truly understood her. He tried his best with her, but even he thought she would settle down and marry a lord, run his castle. The only one who truly took her wishes completely seriously had been Jon, but then he had left, only leaving her with Needle.
Yet, here she was, with Robb, who said she could be as she liked. She wasn't quite sure how she should feel about that. It was all she ever wanted, but, with the way things had been going for her family, she was afraid it would be some cruel trick.
"No, Arya, you don't need to change. We are in the midst of a war, we have no court that you are expected to present yourself to, nor do we have the luxuries of fine clothes and other manners of things that belong in the South. We are Northern. Our respect goes only to those who deserve it. And you, sweet sister, are well within your power to command it, and not because of what house you are from or how ladylike you are, but, rather who you are. You are as much a warrior as the men here, and, if you wish to dress as a boy or act like one, then so be it. You are their princess just as I am their king and we are their leaders, not the other way around." Robb explained with fervour, eyes gleaming in defiance. "Do you understand, Arya?" He bent down a bit so his blue gaze burned into her dark one.
"Yes, I understand." She replied, standing a bit taller. Robb nodded in approval, and straightened.
"We are Starks, little one, and the cold winds are rising." He murmured, before once more glancing at the young girl. "Winter is coming."
Arya thought that Robb could never be more like their father than in that moment.
Robb had said that Father would be proud of her. Arya begged to differ; Robb was the one Eddard Stark would be proud of.
She sure was.
The Lords of Robb's council gaped at her almost openly as Robb introduced Arya to them. It took a moment, but soon one of the lords bowed to her in respect and the others followed a minute later, thought somewhat hesitantly. Arya simply stood awkwardly by her brother, not knowing what to do in return. However, much to her shock, she took a page from the Sansa book and replied graciously.
"My lords." She said in a strong voice. One such lord stepped forward, towering over her.
"It's a pleasure to see you are well, princess, your return has brought joy to the camp." She simply nodded in reply. The lord then turned to Robb, who stood by her, Grey Wind at his side.
"Your Grace, if I may, why have you brought your..." He glanced at Arya. "...sister with you to the council meeting?"
"I have matters to discuss that concern her." Was Robb's prompt reply, as he sat down at the head of the table, and soon, all the lords followed suit, sitting down themselves around him. Grey Wind remained with Arya, who came to stand next to Robb, not knowing what else to do. The direwolf was a calming presence, much like Nymeria used to be; she really missed her own direwolf companion, she could have used Nymeria's strength right about now.
"My sister had been in the custody of none other than Tywin Lannister, who sat with his own council, discussing the war on their front, all the while not knowing that he had taken on a Stark as cup-bearer." The declaration brought a wave of shocked silence to the lords that sat around them and all of them turned to the Stark children, disbelieving.
"Is this true, princess?" A different lord than before asked her.
"Yes." Arya then narrowed her eyes. "I am not a liar, my lord."
"I did not take you for one." The man instantly replied, not wanting to have offended the kin of his king.
"This urchin managed to get into enemy lands and trick Tywin Lannister?" A large man with a white beard exclaimed, standing up in outrage. "And you expect us to believe it?" Robb also stood, slowly and Arya could see the menacing grace in which he moved. As if Grey Wind sensed the hostility in the room, he stepped closer to his master with a snarl.
"Indeed I do, Lord Umber." Robb stated, his voice low. "As she has just said, my sister is no liar." The man she now knew as Lord Umber sat back down, muttering to himself. The King in the North then turned to Arya. "Tell them what happened, Arya, from the beginning." At her brother's encouragement, Arya crossed arms defiantly in front of her chest and told them her tale without a single waiver.
When she was finished, there was a moment of heavy silence, when Lord Umber's loud, rambunctious voice interrupted it.
"The girl's a true Stark!" He exclaimed with a chuckle and the all the other lords agreed, suddenly galvanized into speaking.
"I thank you, princess, for bringing us this information." Another lord told her, whilst yet another congratulated her on a job well done. There were another few minutes of chaos, until Robb raised a hand, commanding silence.
"I am glad you approve, my lords, for now I must discuss with you another matter of the utmost importance; the line of succession." Robb took a deep breath and Arya could tell he was steeling himself, though she was sure the men on his council did not notice. "I wish to make Arya the heir to my land and titles; should something happen to me, she will take my seat and become Queen in the North."
Her brother's proclamation brought a whole new wave of chaos, and the lords were outraged. Arya herself was utterly confused; she was to become his heir? It was something she had never expected would happen. First of all, she was a girl. Secondly, she was too rough, too unmannered to lead but still, Robb would ask her to be next in line? Normally, she would happily join in the shouting but she was stunned to silence, which, for anyone who knew the girl, was a miracle unto itself.
"But, Your Grace, what of your brothers?" Came one voice.
"My brothers are no longer in my custody..." Robb replied, tightly. "...and I have no children, thus I have no heirs. I must first and foremost be sure to secure my family and our place as the ruling House of the North."
"And if they return, Your Grace?"
"Then my brother, Bran, will once again be first in line, as is his right and Rickon will be second. But, Arya will still be in line, if they return, only no longer first. Until such a thing happens, however, she will be my heir."
"She is a girl, Your Grace. Girls cannot lead armies of men." Lord Umber exclaimed.
"Aye, she is a girl... just as I am a boy. No one thought a boy could lead the North into war, and yet I have. No one thought that I could win, and yet I have proven that I can and that I will." The lords quietened and listened to their king's passionate speech. "We have proven that the North is stronger than everyone thought. Yes, Arya is young and she is a girl, but did you not just call her a true Stark? She has proven herself more than worthy, has she not? She even bears the marks of a fierce fighter." He gestured to his sister's injuries.
"Does she even know anything of battle? Of warfare?" An overweight lord said, standing up.
"She has been a part of this war since its start, and I will teach everything she will need to know." Robb stated confidently.
"Can she fight? Kill? The heart of girls are to gentle for a men's world." The same lord said, sneering. This drove Arya out of her silence, and she looked up to glare at the man. She began to approach him, slowly, as the others watched her, wondering what she was doing.
"I've already killed one fat boy." She said with menace, as her hand went to the bloodied dagger in her belt, ready to pull it out. Robb did not try to stop her, wanting to see what she would do. "Perhaps this time I should aim for a fat man." The snarl sounded scarily dangerous coming from such a small girl. She was truly a wolf. In that moment, Arya reminded Robb of, well, himself, when he had shown Lord Umber just what he was made of.
The silence was deafening, until Lord Umber broke out into loud chuckles and the other Northern lords soon joined him, even the 'fat man' himself. Arya stepped back, surprised by their laughter. At first she was offended, but then she saw their approving smiles and she knew she had done something right for once. I may not be a lady, but I am a Northerner. She glanced to Robb to see him look at her with a concealed pride.
"I'll support the girl's claim." Lord Umber said.
"Aye," Exclaimed another. "As will I." Other calls of approval followed soon thereafter.
"So we are agreed?" Robb asked.
"Aye, Your Grace."
"Good, now that that is settled..." Her brother's voice faded off as Arya retreated. She supposed that she should pay attention to what the meeting was actually about; after all, she may one day sit in the council. She shivered at the thought; that would imply the death or incapacitation of Robb. She did not want that. At all.
Yet, the fact he thought she was worthy of his title... it brought a small smile to a face that was otherwise always stuck in a defiant glare.
She looked at her oldest sibling, her big brother, the King in the North, her friend.
Thank you. Is all she thought. Thank you for everything.
Arya walked with Robb back to his tent, where she would temporarily stay until she was given her own. She had told her brother she more than happy to sleep somewhere else, maybe share quarters with Hotpie or Gendry, but he would hear none of it.
Night had fallen, and hundreds of stars littered the dark sky, their formations unique to the North. They twinkled down on the Stark siblings, as the fires around them slowly died out, the camp going to sleep. The quiet of the dark was peaceful compared to the loud days spent here amongst soldiers and friends.
Instead of going straight into his tent, Robb sat on a crate by a small fire, its flames flickering, and Arya joined him.
"I will have to train you and you will have to listen." He stated suddenly, seriously.
"I know." Came her steady reply.
"No running off from your lessons like you had with Septa Mordane." At her nod, Robb turned to Arya fully. "You have to promise me, Arya, that you will listen to me and that you won't do anything foolish."
"I promise." She said, her voice wavering slightly. He smiled at her in return, before pulling something from the folds of his cloak.
"Then I have something for you." He gave her the 'thing' which was wrapped in a plain brown cloth. "Jon told me he gave you something for your journey South." She whipped her head up at him to look at him in hope and disbelief. "I noticed you no longer had it with you, so I decided to have you a new one made. It's fresh forged."
Eagerly she ripped the cloth of the object and found a long, elegant sword.
Only this was not Needle, not really, but it was just as beautiful as her lost sword. She unsheathed it, watching as it gleamed in the flames. The point was razor sharp and glinted dangerously. The handle was encased in leather, and the end of the hilt there was a small engraving of a direwolf. A sword befitting of a Stark, her father would say. She smiled brightly at her brother, looking more childish then he had seen her.
She stood up suddenly, pretending to skewer an invisible enemy. With a delighted laugh she performed a series of complicated lunges, fluid and predatory. She then slipped the sword back into her sheath and sat back beside Robb.
"It needs a name." She decided.
"A blade with a name is always the stronger one." He conceded with a nod.
"Wolf." Her statement made Robb look at her with question. "Its name is Wolf." She decided.
"Why, might I ask, little one?" Her brother asked, with a curious look on his face.
"Because it was given to me by one." This caused Robb to smile down at her and wrapped an arm around her small shoulders, placing a gently kiss in her hair before getting up and wishing her a goodnight.
And, she added silently, watching him leave, wolves always come with winter.
Really long, I know, but I wanted to cover everything. I apologize for any OOC moments. This is most likely the end of this story, though, you never know, I may eventually come back to it :)
Let me know what you think and thanks for reading!