Chapter Six: Sold Me Out To Save Yourself
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed! I'm really pleased you all like it. A huge thanks to all of my reviewers. I also thought I'd answer a few of your questions.
LucyRider17: Thanks, I'm glad you like it! Yes it is Alexander Ludwig as Aegon. I'm not quite sure why, but when I imagine Aegon, Alexander Ludwig is an actor I can imagine playing him. He has the right physical build and I'm sure he'd make a great Targaryen.
BritBookWorm: Frost is a paler grey than most of the other wolves, probably a little smaller than the rest as well. Also, Aegon comes into it around Chapter 11. I know, it's a little while away, but there's still a lot of plot developments I need to put in before his appearance. And don't worry, once he's in the story, he'll be just as prominent as the other characters.
"Have you lost your mind?" Robb paced the command tent with an agitated gait. It hardly surprised Lyandra – since they had heard of their father's tragic death, her older brother had been hard to placate. She would often find him in the oddest places, sharpening his swords or talking with Theon, away from all of the hubbub. Ned's death was still sinking in. So was Robb's new position as King in the North. The responsibility that had been piled upon his shoulders when he had chosen to lead them in the war had now amplified ten-fold. It was as though Robb no longer had the ability to keep still, whereas Lyandra longed for the little snippets of quiet that she would be lucky to find in a day.
Catelyn watched her two oldest children wearily. Ned's death had probably impacted on her the hardest. Over the years she had grown to love the stranger from Winterfell she had been wed to, and she loved their children with all the ferocity she was capable of. Her two youngest children had been left in Winterfell. Her two younger daughters were held prisoner in King's Landing. It was no wonder she didn't want to risk the lives of the only children who remained with her. So when Lyandra had stated her intention to venture to King's Landing to swear fealty to Joffrey, Catelyn had been disappointed. She had seen her daughter's suggestion as an acceptance of a defeat they hadn't yet encountered. However, when Lyandra had stated her reasons, the suggestion morphed alarmingly quickly from cowardly into dangerous.
"Don't you want to save Sansa and Arya?" Lyandra demanded, standing tall as her brother paced past her, back and forth. Her plan was a risky one, perhaps even a stupid one, but weren't the true betrayals always from the inside? If she swore herself to Joffrey, forsaking her family, the Lannisters would believe her to be on their side. Then she would turn to people she could trust, people who might be able to help her free her sisters from the Lannisters' claws. It may take a while, but it was better that than leaving the girls at their mercy. Robb was busy with his war campaign and new duties as King. Her mother had to advise Robb. So it fell to Lyandra to practise her diplomatic backstabbing.
"I am King in the North, and I forbid it." Robb's voice was as cold as winter itself as he turned and fixed hard eyes upon his younger sister. He had been easily irritated with her since he found out that she had followed them into battle. Of course she hadn't participated in the fighting – Lyandra flinched at any kind of violence, so the battle itself must have made her sick to the stomach – but it was risky enough having her on the fringes. His sister was stubborn, but he was no longer playing the older brother card. He was the King in the North and she his subject. She would listen to him, or face the consequences.
"You can't leave the girls to Joffrey!" Lyandra cried passionately, her small hands balling into fists. This was her family they were talking about. They were as much Robb's sisters as they were hers, and yet he was willing to leave them in the hands of a boy who had proved himself to be mad beyond a doubt? Joffrey was cruel, and Lyandra did not like to think how her sisters, especially pretty Sansa, were faring.
"We could trade them for Jaime Lannister," Catelyn suggested, a tentative solution which caused Robb to glare in her direction. She might be his mother, but she too was subject to his authority.
"No. Cersei would never trade two girls for the Kingslayer."
"Then what I'm saying makes sense," Lyandra piped up, planting her hands on her hips. She and Robb normally got along well. As children, he had always been the protective older brother who would stand up for her whenever Theon teased her. Now, he had changed. He was too much the King for her liking. She wanted the real Robb back, for she missed him dearly. The real Robb would never have left his little sisters at the mercy of the Lannisters.
"She's right." Catelyn sighed heavily. She didn't want to agree with Lyandra. She didn't want her oldest daughter to go anywhere near King's Landing. But the truth was, talking politics or playing war were not going to help them get Sansa and Arya back. Sometimes, trickery was needed. Lyandra had always been good at persuading people. When she was little, she had managed to get her father to important some of the finest Dornish chocolate, despite the high price. The only question was, was Lyandra good enough to convince the Lannisters that she was loyal? Her life, and the lives of her sisters, may depend on it.
Robb whirled around to glance in bewilderment at his mother. Catelyn, who had always done whatever she could to protect her children, to keep them from harm. Now she was agreeing to let Lyandra go and stare danger boldly in the face. The Lannisters could kill her, or worse. He didn't understand why his mother would allow her to take such risks, at such a great cost to her own person if she failed.
"Mother, she can't."
"She can," Catelyn replied, her voice growing firmer now, "She is sixteen years of age now, Robb. She is no longer a child. I have faith in Lyandra's abilities. Even Cersei is not fool enough to have her executed simply because she is a Stark. If anything, the Queen would find her another political prisoner to use against us. If Lyandra says she ventured out from Winterfell…"
"She is going to die!" Robb burst out, no longer able to control himself. He didn't want to see any more death coming to their family. Ned's execution had rent them apart, was still destroying them now. He couldn't and didn't want to imagine how his mother would cope if Lyandra, Sansa and Arya died.
"I won't." Lyandra caught her brother's hand in hers and squeezed reassuringly. She could understand why Robb was so concerned. He heaved a sigh, looking anywhere but at her. Lyandra threw her arms around his neck and pressed close, hugging him fiercely. He hugged back and she could tell by his tense posture that he was still reluctant to let her leave. Lyandra didn't want to leave, either. She was scared, but she had to overcome her fear. For Sansa and Arya.
Night had fallen by the time Lyandra had saddled her horse and turned to face what remained of her family, forcing herself to be brave. Her father had always told her there could be no courage without fear, so perhaps she was truly courageous for the fact that she was doing this despite her trepidation. Her heart ached whenever she thought of her father's wisdom. Every time she remembered what had happened to him – the treason that an honourable man like Ned Stark would never have committed – it made the cold of winter grow inside her, a cold that would gnaw away at those Lannister pretenders soon enough.
"Are you sure about this?" Robb cast around him, before his gaze finally settled on his younger sister. He could say he had exactly enjoyed having her around – sometimes Lyandra could be quite a pest – but she was still part of his family and he loved her fiercely. Having to let her go was possibly harder than having to lead the Stark banner-men into battle. "It's not too late to change your mind. Mother and I won't think anything less of you if you do."
"No." Lyandra's voice was firm, but she couldn't help but think of two other Starks who had ventured south to King's Landing, years before she was born. Rickard and Brandon Stark had been callously murdered by Aerys Targaryen. What was to say this new King, Joffrey, would not have her executed as well? She couldn't know what awaited her in the capital, and that frightened her more than certain death.
Catelyn moved forward and embraced her daughter, her eyes welling with tears she couldn't prevent from spilling down her cheeks. The Tully motto had always been 'family, duty, honour' and right now she found that family was more important to her than ever. She had lost Ned; her children were all she had left. Yet Robb fought a war against the powerful Lannisters, and even now Lyandra was leaving her to surrender herself to the mercy of the merciless. Catelyn was not sure if she would see her oldest daughter again.
"I will return, Mother," Lyandra said, a promise that she knew she couldn't keep. What would the Lannisters do with the oldest daughter of the traitor Ned Stark? What had they already done to Sansa and Arya? It made Lyandra's stomach twist just thinking about it. All she could do now was pray to the old gods and the new that her sisters were safe, that the Lannisters would not harm political prisoners.
She turned to face Robb, unable to force a smile before she burst into tears, clutching him tight. The King in the North held his younger sister tightly, kissing the top of her head. Yes, she was a fool for what she was planning…but he could only damn well hope that it worked. It seemed like forever before Lyandra extricated herself from his arms and straightened her shoulders, determination shining in her blue eyes as she pulled herself up into her horse's saddle.
The Twins had always been a bleak place in Robb's opinion, especially now that he didn't have Lyandra to make dry commentary or tease him about the prospect of having to pick a bride. Picking was even worse than being betrothed to a certain girl, Robb surmised. All of these girls, these daughters of Lord Frey standing before him waiting for him to choose one of them…it sounding excruciating to him. Theon had been rather smug about the whole, which along with Lyandra's departure, was only causing Robb to become more irritated with him.
Robb had wanted to wait until the war was over, yet somehow he thought perhaps his mother feared losing him as well. Catelyn kept talking about how her son needed a wife and heir of his own, a prospect that made Robb cringe, but he knew that he must do his duty. With Lyandra gone, Catelyn was clearly becoming paranoid that she was going to lose all of her children, and then the Stark name would be nothing but dust.
"Robb Stark." Walder Frey was a watery-eyed old man who observed Robb with nothing more or less than disdain. The King in the North clenched his jaw, but played his part. His mother was watching him carefully and Walder motioned towards the doors. With whispers and a rustle of skirts, Walder Frey's daughters entered the room.
Robb swallowed hard as he inspected them critically. Only a few of the daughters were around his own age, and of those many of them were…not particularly attractive, if he was to be honest about it. He knew better than to judge merely on appearance, but if he had to choose a wife, it must be a woman he could at least stand. The women lapsed into silence, and the only sound that could be heard was that of Robb's boots clacking across the stone floor as he paced back and forth.
Samaria stood beside Roslyn, remembering what she had always been told about keeping her shoulders straight and sticking her chest out – not that she had much in the way of breasts in any case. Robb Stark was indeed a handsome young man, perhaps only a year her senior. His blue eyes raked over them and Samaria couldn't help but catch at her younger sister's wrist. Roslyn drew a sharp breath, but dared not glance at him. They both stood completely still as Robb passed them and continued down the line.
"What if he chooses Fat Walda?" Roslyn leaned across to whisper in her older sister's ear. Samaria couldn't quite help it – a giggle escaped her at the thought. Several of her sisters glowered in irritation at her and Robb whipped around. Samaria's cheeks flamed and she lapsed into silence, but it was already too late.
"Who was that?" Robb inquired, walking back down the line. "Who laughed?"
Samaria felt that she was rather in trouble now. There was no doubt that her father was glaring across at her. Roslyn's eyes were demurely averted and she released her younger sister's wrist, taking a deep breath and stepping forward. Was this boy truly going to reprimand her simply because she had giggled accidentally during his inspection?
"It was me, your grace."
Robb inspected her for what seemed like hours. His cool blue gaze seemed to see into her very soul. It made Samaria feel a little uncomfortable, but although she shifted her feet, she did not avert her eyes. Behind her, the rest of her sisters were whispering amongst each other. Samaria remained silent during Robb's inspection of her.
"What is your name?" he inquired.
The question caught her off guard. "Samaria, your grace."
"And how old are you, Samaria?"
She bit her lip. "Nearly seventeen."
There were a crucial few moments as Samaria wondered exactly why he was asking her so many questions. She knew that she had turned beet red by the heat that seemed to simmer off her cheeks. Robb took her hands in his and Samaria nearly jumped out of her skin at the contact, causing him to smile wryly.
"I pick you."
"Your grace…" Samaria was not sure what to say. She was grateful, of course, but she could almost feel Roslyn's eyes boring into her back. A smile dawned across her lips, but Robb had already released her and stepped away, walking back over to Walder and his mother. The smile faded slightly. Robb had not chosen her because he loved her. Perhaps he even resented her for being the one he had picked, for he had to pick someone.
Samaria turned to face Roslyn. The younger girl stepped forward and pulled Samaria into an embrace. Perhaps Roslyn was trying to keep back tears, for Samaria knew that she certainly was. She did not want to leave her home, to venture to the cold north and fight a war that was not hers. She would have to support every decision of Robb's, and suddenly she felt that she was floundering, drowning. It was too deep for her to float and she still couldn't bring herself to let go of what was holding her up: her family.