Houses Joined by Luvscharlie
Warnings: Violence, intentional tense shifts and intention pov shifts
A/N: Originally written for the 2012 asoiaf_exchange on Live Journal where my request was for Starks and Baratheons pre-GOT. This is AU, and what might have happened if Bran had never fallen. The only requirements were to write what your giftee wanted and over 1000 words.
"Robert, my King, my love," I heard Mother say from my place outside the room in the Stark castle with my ear pressed against the large wooden door. I had to listen hard, but this was important and I was determined. "Please, she's my only daughter. I cannot bear to leave her here in this wasteland of snow and ice." I recognized the tone—it was Mother's 'play the nice girl and get what you want' tone. I couldn't help but roll my eyes.
"It's done," Father said, and I heard a sharp clunk that sounded like he was slamming down his goblet. I'd heard that sound many times before and I could distinguish it even through the thick wood. Father loved his wine… and I was the princess of understatements.
"You're not even marrying her to a Stark that matters. What is he? A third son? That is what you'd marry your only daughter—the Kingdom's princess—to?"
"Second," Father interrupted, "the bastard doesn't count."
My mother snorted—she must have known she was beaten; she rarely allowed herself to be so undignified as to snort. Still, I had to give her credit for tenacity. She championed on. "Myrcella is a princess. The princess of the Seven Kingdoms. Princesses do not marry second sons. If she's not good enough to at least marry Ned Stark's oldest son and heir, I'd question the value your best friend is placing on your only daughter."
There was the sharp sound of a slap, and despite her snorting lapse, my mother wasn't defeated enough to give my father the satisfaction of letting him know his slap had hurt her. I hated him when he got like this. It was one of the reasons I didn't so much mind the idea of staying behind at Winterfell; despite the harsh cold and bitter snow, there was an inherent kindness here that I'd never known before. It was attractive. I almost wanted to rush in and save my mother from trying to save me. I'd stay here, and I'd not be too sad about it. In fact, I rather expected that I'd find some happiness here. I couldn't listen any longer—I didn't want this to my last memory of my parents, so I wondered off down the corridor and out the front doors to find my future husband.
And I looked… and looked… and looked some more. I didn't realize that I'd need to look up.
Brandon Stark was halfway up a very high tower, clinging to the stone. It took me hours to find him, and by the time I did, I was fuming. I only found him at all because his direwolf was doing a bit of an impatient dance down below where Bran had begun his ascent.
"Just where do you think you're going?" I demanded, putting my hands on my hips and tapping my foot. I was going to be good at this wife thing, I thought.
"I'm going up," Bran responded nonchalantly. "I'd think that was obvious." He did seem to give his bit of snark a second thought, and added on a hasty, "Your highness."
"Well, bring your fool self down before you land on your head and I have to marry a halfwit." It was my best imitation of Mother when she was angry, but I must have been doing it wrong because my soon-to-be husband continued to climb. "Did you hear what I said?" I demanded.
"Be hard not to. You're screeching like a Wildling, aren't you?"
Wildlings were something I'd have to think about more now that I was going to be a woman of the North. I shivered from fear and reminded myself that Baratheons were brave. Sometimes, when you were only eight, it was easy to forget that you were brave. I took a deep breath to steal my spine. "What do you plan to give me as a wedding present, husband?"
Bran looked all around, bewildered, but he began to climb down at a fast pace.
"I asked you a question."
"Have you gone mad?" Bran retorted. "I think I should go find my mother. You need some medicine. Or maybe you've been climbing too, and you aren't a sure-footed as I am—did you fall on your head?"
"What is that nonsense your saying? My head's just fine."
"Are you sure? I can't think of any other reason you'd be asking for presents and calling me husband."
"We're getting married."
Bran was continuing the climb down as I said it. It's a good thing, too, because when he heard me say that we were going to be married, he laughed so hard that he jumped the remaining small distance and rolled about on the ground laughing hysterically.
I stood by and tapped my foot, considered kicking him, and only restrained myself to prove that I was a lady and knew how to act like one. "You can give me your wolf as a wedding gift. I've always wanted a pet."
That stopped his laughing post-haste. Finally. "You must be joking." He wrapped his arms protectively around his wolf.
"No. A husband should give his wife a lovely gift to show how much he loves her." The wolf growled at me. "That wasn't lovely at all. Your wolf needs some manners."
"He can be a little impolite." The wolf looked at Brandon as though betrayed by his master's agreement with me. Bran scratched his ear in consolation. "He's a great wolf though, and princess or not, you can't have him." The wolf licked my future husband's face.
"May I pet him?"
Bran seemed to contemplate for a moment. "No. Even if you are a princess, you're still a stupid girl. I won't marry you and you can't pet Summer. I'm going to be one of your father's Kingsguard one day, and the Kingsguard don't marry." As though to drive home his point, he grabbed my golden hair and gave it a harsh tug.
I only just contained my squeal. He'd not best me. I pulled back my foot and kicked him hard in the shin. He screamed, which gave me great satisfaction—I was a good kicker—and I ran off in search of Father with Brandon Stark close on my heels.
We found my father and his in the Dining Hall together, each with a cup of wine, and both laughing at some fond memory of days gone by.
"I won't marry this barbarian!" I shouted, but I could not be understood because at the same time, Bran began to shout his protests at how I was a she-witch who was too evil to ever be a Stark, and that he was going to be a member of the Kingsguard one day, not a prince.
I punched Brandon in the shoulder. He kicked me in the ankle. We both went down pulling hair and throwing punches. The whole time I was attacking my future husband, I was imagining that this was probably not the behavior expected from a future prince and princess. I didn't much care.
It was a shame I didn't know it was Father who had hold of me, so intent was I on my attack. I gave my King Father's face a good clawing before he got me under control. "Kitten," he shouted, a name he reserved only for me, so I knew it was Father's voice and I calmed down, "draw in your claws!"
I looked around in time to see Ned Stark giving his son a whack on the behind and demanding of his son if he had been raised to think it okay to strike a female.
"That's no girl," Bran defended. "She's an evil beast who tried to kill me."
And I thought drama and theatrics were traits of southerners.
I stuck out my tongue at him, and he stuck his right back at me. "You pulled my hair," I accused. "Father, you should have his head chopped off!" I said.
"She kicked me in the shin and tried to steal Summer," Bran accused.
I curled my fingers out and went for his face, but Father was too fast and pulled me back, smacking my bottom a good wallop to get my attention.
"I'll not hear another word out of either of you!" said my father, the King. "Now," he said, letting me go with a look of warning. I did consider giving Bran a good shove since his father had stood him beside me, but I wasn't quite brave enough. Almost, but not quite. "Kiss and make up," Father commanded.
My father and Ned Stark were wearing identical grins, and I suspected they were both secretly laughing at us. Still, I wasn't conceding defeat. I turned my back on my future husband and refused to kiss him. "I won't," I said and stomped my foot in protest.
Bran turned his back on me too. "I wouldn't kiss her if she were the last girl in all the Seven Kingdoms."
That was going too far. I turned back around and gave him a harsh shove. "That was rude!" And in a moment we were in an all out wrestling match once more. It got us both sent to our rooms without supper to think about our behavior. All I could think about was wanting to kick Brandon Stark really hard.
Ned and Robert broke into laughter so hard they were soon breathless the moment the room was cleared.
"And who do they remind you of?" Robert said, taking a drink and nearly choking on it.
"It's scary to see ourselves in miniature, eh?" Ned replied.
"Scary, indeed. Are you sure this North of yours can handle my daughter?" Robert asked with a wink.
"I'll start fortifying the walls of the castle tomorrow. By the way, she hits like a girl. I expected better."
"And your boy! Hair pulling! Ned, I'm ashamed. Is this is how you train your boys to fight?"
They both laughed into their wine glasses. "Imagine," Robert said, "if one day a child of theirs sat the Iron Throne!"
Ned shook his head. "Not the old gods nor the new could save the realm! This marriage may doom us all."
"Ah, but I should like to see that!" Robert said. "The realm needs a good shaking up. I think we've made a good match with those two."
Ned nodded. "If they don't kill one another first."