Chapter One: Festivity
A/N: Hi everyone :) You probably recognise this story from when I was doing it with BeyondTheHorizonIsHope. She's busy with a lot of her own stuff, so I'm taking it up by myself. I'm a little nervous, though. There won't be any Maerys, as she was not my character, so it will only be Lyandra's point of view. Please tell me what you think, as this story is going to take a whole different direction. The first few chapters will probably be almost the same as what you remember, but later on things change.
Winterfell was normally a quiet place around this time of year, but presently, it bustled with activity as its inhabitants awaited the arrival of King Robert Baratheon with great anticipation. Of course, while the event was cause for much fanfare within the freezing northern town, there always those who paid no heed to the flurry of excitement that the royal presence would cause.
In fact, the uninterested population currently seemed to consist of the oldest Stark children and Lord Eddard Stark's ward, Theon Greyjoy. While their mother hurried about the place trying to find accommodation for the two-hundred-strong entourage, Robb and Lyandra Stark were down in the courtyard along with their bastard half-brother Jon Snow and Theon Greyjoy.
Theon was, as ever, showing off his skill in archery by lazily firing arrows at a straw target. He was a young man of one-and-twenty years who seemed to be constantly amused, and had a notorious reputation within Winterfell for bedding girls. Robb and Jon had often jested that Theon's arrow had a way of always acquiring its target…and they weren't necessarily always referring to archery.
"Shouldn't you be helping Lady Stark set the place up for our royal visitors?" Jon asked from where he had perched himself on the fence. A young man of seventeen, Jon possessed the dark eyes and hair that were considered typical Stark colouring. He watched with folded arms as Theon fired another arrow at the straw target.
"Perhaps you should," Theon retaliated, fitting another arrow to his bow.
"Must you two always fight?" Robb asked in exasperation. The oldest child of Lord and Lady Stark and the heir of Winterfell, Robb was of an age with Jon, but looked nothing like his half-brother. Robb had the Tully colouring, although his hair was so dark that it was nearly black. He regarded Jon and Theon with wary eyes. The two treated each other with equal disapproval, and if it wasn't for his presence, he had no doubt they'd be at each other's throats.
"I suppose they must," Lyandra admitted from where she leaned against a pole, "How else would they entertain themselves?"
Lyandra was fifteen, two years younger than Robb and Jon and somewhere between being a girl and a woman. Like Robb, she had Tully colouring, but her hair was not merely dark auburn like his, but black as night like Jon's. Despite the fact that she behaved herself – well, most of the time, unlike her youngest sister Arya – Lyandra had a tendency to prefer the company of the boys rather than other girls her age. She shuddered at the thought of being the constant companion of her younger sister Sansa and her friend the steward's daughter, Jeyne Poole.
"Keep quiet, you," Theon called to Lyandra as he went to tug the arrows from his straw target, "Shouldn't you be prettying yourself up for our royal guests, in any case?"
Lyandra merely offered a shrug of her shoulders. "Can you actually hit moving targets, or would you request that your victims stand still?"
Theon laughed and nocked an arrow. "Perhaps you should start running and we will see."
"Don't threaten my sister, Greyjoy," Robb said firmly, causing Lyandra to refrain from rolling her eyes. Sometimes her older brother could get so overprotective. Even when Theon was jesting, Robb took it as an opportunity to put him back in his place. Well, Lyandra supposed if her brother knew the sort of jests Theon made when he wasn't around, the Stark ward would probably be dead already.
"He's right, though, Lyandra," Jon called across to his half-sister, who had leaned down to pet her direwolf Frost who had crossed the courtyard and was sniffing at the hem of her dress. "No doubt the King will be here soon. You should go and get another dress on. There's mud on the hem of that one."
Lyandra grimaced. She could be formal and charming when she wanted, but unlike her sister Sansa, she found courtly greetings utterly boring. She would much rather remain in the courtyard with her brothers and Theon than have to go and put on her nicest dress. She had always been rather a tomboy, similar to Arya although not quite as wayward. Jon chuckled as he noticed her expression.
"You look like you're being sentenced to the executioner."
"Very funny," Lyandra replied dryly, "At least no one needed to shear me."
Lyandra felt completely in another world as she sat in her allocated place at the feast. Her brothers and sisters might be enjoying themselves, but she felt…suffocated. It wasn't the presence of the royal entourage exactly that bothered her. Her mother had informed her that Sansa was to be betrothed to Prince Joffrey, who Lyandra had only briefly seen, but she thought him a beast of a boy already.
Now, Lyandra feared the worst. What if her parents decided to marry her off as well? She was older than Sansa; she could already wed. The thought made her grip her goblet with grim determination as she took another sip of her wine. It was a secret that none knew but herself, but Lyandra still possessed the girlish, romantic illusions of marrying for love. She wanted no power or titles. All she wanted was to find the same sort of happiness in her marriage that her parents had found in theirs.
"You don't look happy," Theon mused, examining Lyandra from where he was seated across the table from her. "Come on, why don't you dance with me?"
"No, thank you," Lyandra replied, more icily than she had intended.
Robb frowned at her slightly, and she wished more than ever that Jon could be present at the feast. The issue Lyandra had with Theon was that ever since she had developed a woman's body, he had been trying to invite her to his bed when her brothers weren't around. Robb was oblivious, but Lyandra thought Jon might suspect something…or perhaps it was just because he disliked Theon in general.
"Just one?" Theon persisted, reaching across the table for her hand as if that would possibly convince her. Instead, Lyandra scowled and snatched her hand out of reach. She was in no mood for his flirtations tonight. She knew that if she danced with Theon, his hands would creep up towards her breasts in a failed attempt at subtlety.
"I said no, Theon."
He shrugged, but his expression was one of mild annoyance. "As you will."
"Perhaps you'll dance with me." It was a gruff man's voice, one that made Lyandra look up and then jump up from her seat with a cry of delight.
Benjen laughed as she flung herself at him. When she was younger, he would pick her up and spin her around, but she was far too old for that now. When Lyandra pulled back with a euphoric smile adorning her face, he marvelled at how much like her mother she looked – apart from the hair. That dark hair had belonged to his sister, Lyanna, for whom Lyandra had been named and whose spirit she, of all Ned's children, possessed.
"Gods, you've grown, Lee." Benjen gripped her by the shoulders. All of his nieces and nephews had changed so much. Robb was now the same height as him, if not taller. Lyandra was more a woman than a girl. Even young Sansa was growing taller and prettier by the day. "Next thing you know, you'll be taller than me as well!"
"Hardly," Lyandra responded, but she was grinning. Benjen had always been one of the few people who could make her smile even when she didn't mean to. "How about that dance, uncle?"
Benjen laughed and held up his hands in protest. "I wouldn't want to deprive those younger and far better-looking than me of a dance with my fair niece."
"Fine," Robb groaned, clambering reluctantly to his feet with a resigned expression as if someone had just told him that he was to hang from the gallows. Lyandra, filled with a new sense of energy due to her uncle's presence – after all, it was not often that he ventured down from the Wall – took her brother's hand in hers, tugging him through the throng of people and spinning, making him catch her.
"Why do you think he's here?" Robb inquired as twirled his sister once more, and Lyandra knew that he was referring to Benjen. Suddenly, Lyandra's ridiculous happiness was sucked from her and she invaded by a new feeling, an apprehension that grew inside her like some sort of weed. Of course – she would have been naïve to think there was not a reason behind her uncle's arrival, yet in truth she had not been thinking at all.
"Perhaps he brings news from the Wall," Lyandra suggested tentatively, although in her heart she feared this would be bad news. She glanced across towards where Benjen was involved in a muttered conversation with her father and her stomach twisted even more. Suddenly, all the childish excitement that she had felt at her uncle's arrival had vanished.
"Fantastic," Robb sighed heavily, releasing Lyandra with an exasperated expression crossing his face as he observed his two younger sisters – Sansa, indignant with some grey paste on her face, and Arya looking immensely self-satisfied. "It looks like it's about bedtime for young Arya."
Lyandra gave a neat shrug. "It was my turn last time."
Robb squared his shoulders he prepared to confront their unruly youngest sister, and Lyandra couldn't help but offer him a smug smile. He looked like he was marching off to battle rather than merely escorting Arya to bed. She glanced over at Benjen and her father, who seemed to be growing grimmer by the minute. Suddenly Lyandra had no desire to be at this feast, because she feared that their solemn moods would affect her the more she watched.
"Actually, Robb, I'm retiring for the night anyway," Lyandra stepped forward and touched her brother's arm, "I'll take Arya up while I'm at it."
Robb breathed an audible sigh of relief. "You are a life-saver, Lyandra. Thank you. She tends to listen to you more than me in any case."
"You owe me." Lyandra gave her brother a swift kiss on the cheek, before she strode back over towards the table. Jeyne was wiping the paste off a mortified Sansa's face, and Arya was trying to smother laughter. Lyandra grabbed her youngest sister's shoulders, leaning down to whisper in her ear as the girl jumped in shock. "You're coming to bed now, and if you even try to wipe any of that paste on me, Mother will find out who really lobbed the eggs from the battlements."
Lyandra knew that Arya could not object with that sort of threat hanging over her head. She made a noise of irritation and wiped her hands on a cloth, before consenting to be led up to her room by Lyandra. For a time, the two sisters walked in silence, but of course Arya was never any good at keeping the quiet for too long.
"Is Sansa really going to marry Joffrey?" Arya inquired, her distaste towards the prince one that was silently mirrored by Lyandra. "He's horrible. I couldn't think of anyone worse for her to marry. Besides, you're the older one. I can't see why they didn't ask you to marry him."
Now that the words were out of Arya's mouth and in the open, Lyandra could see that her younger sister spoke sense – and it troubled her. Of course, she had no desire to marry the prince, but why had it been Sansa and not her? Outwardly, she was just as polite as her younger sister. Was it because she was rather outspoken and had a mind of her own, rather than being dictated by the latest trends as Sansa was? Lyandra was only a year older than Joffrey besides, so it wasn't as if it was a problem in age difference.
"It's not our place to question Father," Lyandra reminded her younger rather more sharply than she'd intended. She gave Arya a gentle push between the shoulders into her room. "Goodnight, Arya."
Lyandra closed the door to her sister's room, nearly jumping a foot when she noticed that Theon was leaning against the wall just outside. She pressed a hand over her heart in an attempt to steady its violent pounding, glowering as Theon smirked at her shock. She planted her hands on her hips.
"Must you?" she demanded irritably.
Theon's eyes raked approvingly over the curves of Lyandra's body. Her mouth twisted in disgust; the sour scent of wine on his breath could be smelled even from where she stood. Besides, Theon never looked at her like that so openly when he was sober. He pushed himself off the wall and Lyandra tensed slightly.
"You do scrub up well," Theon admitted, still drinking in the sight of her, "That is a lovely dress, but you would look better without it on."
"Theon," Lyandra snapped, her annoyance swelling to the point where she no longer felt the need to be polite about the situation. She had never really been one for diplomacy, always preferring the honest truth over lies…but despite this, Lyandra had always been a very talented and convincing liar. She could fabricate stories with such effortless ease. But here and now in a corridor with a drunken Theon, there was no need for diplomacy or fabrications. "You are being extremely rude. I think you should go to bed."
"I should," Theon agreed, reaching out for her hand, which she quickly drew away. "But only if you accompany me."
"Tell me, Greyjoy." A new voice made the two of them whirl around. It was a man's bored drawl that Lyandra thought she vaguely recognized. Indeed, Jaime Lannister crossed over to the pair of them, the amused expression on his face contradicting his apparent disinterest. "Do you normally have to grovel to get a woman in your bed?"
Theon muttered something mutinously under his breath, turning on his heel and trudging off without another word to Lyandra. She watched him go and turned to face the man who may have saved her a long argument with Theon. Lyandra did not much like the Lannisters and Jaime was no exception, but her good breeding kicked in and she knew that she should thank him anyway.
"It seems you've done me a favour, Ser Jaime," Lyandra informed him in as casual a tone as she dared, "Thank you."
Jaime merely shrugged. "Well, I won't always be around to diffuse the situation. However, next time, a good knee between the legs is sure to do the trick."