The maids had scrubbed her down with steaming water and white sand, scenting it with rose oil. Her hair had been washed and brushed until it lay in thick curls down her back and her tarnished gown was sent away and a new, fresh one was sent in. It was made of fine green samite with golden lace and golden roses for buttons down the back.
She was dressed with nimble fingers and soft slippers were placed on her dainty feet. They fed her bowls of broth and the maester had assured her the child still lived, though warned her that certain things could happen to her babe, that even the smallest amount of tansy tea is enough to cause damage. But she didn't care, so long as her baby lived. She would love it regardless.
Margaery came to see her after the sun was already high in the sky, and Loras was following suit. Each were washed and had donned soft summer clothes. "Sweet Lyla," Margaery said with a kind smile, "you look radiant."
"I feel much better," Lyla admitted, rubbing her belly. It had grown large since she'd first discovered her pregnancy, and was quite pronounced against her small frame.
Loras leaned against the door frame. "We have word from the Riverlands, where your brother takes camp. Your mother, Catelyn, will be riding to treat with Renly."
"My brother's taken camp? For what? Treat with Renly? I don't understand." She rose, but Margaery sat her down and pressed a gentle hand to her belly.
"Please, for the sake of your health and the babe's, remain calm," she said.
"Robb Stark has started a rebellion, they have been making preparations for war, Lyla. Do you really know none of this?" Loras raised a brow in suspicion.
Lyla shook her head. "My father shared little with me. Why has Robb begun such a thing?" Her mind was racing. What had happened in the last moon that she was been on the road and abed with fever?
"Your brother took arms against the throne when they took your father and sisters hostage as traitors."
She was shivering as the cold realization washed over her. "My brother... is at war. My father..."
"Your father," Margaery said, "is a good man. I am positive that they will release him to take the Black."
"The Black? No. My father must return to Winterfell, he is the Warden of the North, he -"
"Don't excite yourself," Willas said smoothly as he entered the room, cane in hand. "Brother, sister, perhaps I should speak to our guest?"
Margaerys nodded and took Loras by the hand. "We will come see you again later," said her close friend as she closed the door behind her. Then it was just Willas and Lyla alone.
She had not seen him since her childhood, when they were to be betrothed, and so much had changed. A part of her longed to run to him and seek comfort in his warm arms as she used to, but the other part wished to put childish longing aside. She was a girl no more, married and carrying her husband's heir.
"Forgive me, but I cannot rise to greet you," she said lightly. "I am told my condition is rather fragile right now."
Willas nodded. "I would not ask such a trivial thing of you. Water?" She shook her head and he poured himself a glass.
"Willas," she said quietly, "will you be frank?"
There was a long pause as he finished his water. Thought clouded his eyes. "There is much you need to know," he said.
"So tell me, please."
He took a seat beside her. "What Loras told you is true. Young Robb Stark has begun a rebellion against the crown and orders the release of your lord father and your sisters. The direwolves were captured, only one was killed before they lost the other. And your brother, Bran, has awoken from his coma."
Lyla pursed her lips. Bran.
Willas went on. "Renly came here after Robert's death and your father's refusal to help him. He has claimed the throne and declared himself king. Your mother is coming to treat with him, by your brother's command."
"Do my brother or mother know I'm here?" How sweet it would be to see her family.
He shook his head. "The westerlands are a mess of search parties. They believe you to be captured by Stannis to be used as a pawn. He has made no claim the the throne." There was silence for a long, reeling moment, and when he spoke again, his voice had dropped to a low whisper. "There are rumors of your husband and the queen," he said carefully, "and of the legitimacy of the three children she supposedly bore Robert."
Lyla looked up at him with quick, fiery eyes. "I know," she said hotly. She remembered the connection she'd made in the throne room of the Red Keep, the way her father's wary eyes lingered on her, why, she'd even had Robert's bastard twins as maids, with their black hair and blue eyes. It was clear to her now, but for as much as she hated Jaime for it, as much as she wanted to run to him and trash him down with her fists and scream and hit and kick him for his wrongdoings to her and to the whole realm, she remained calm. If she cried and threw a fit the only one she'd be hurting was the babe, and in turn, herself.
"Lyla, we can keep you here," Willas said, lips pursed. "You can stay in Highgarden until the rebellion is over, maybe even after. We could make you happy here." She knew he meant that he could make her happy. And she knew he could.
A sort of bubbling anger rose in her. Why shouldn't she be happy? Jaime wasn't here, and was hardly a husband now. They hadn't even spoken in months, and perhaps an annulment was in the works. Besides, he loved his sister more, he probably wouldn't even care if she...
Lyla stood and made her way to Willas, who embraced her warmly and leaned in for a hug, but her lips were searching for his, and found their mark. It felt strange and different. Willas' lips were thinner than Jaime's, and his beard, though trimmed, was scratchy on her face. He moaned in need and pushed her onto her bed, which had been cleaned and the sheets washed, and she could barely stand it, the tense pressure building up. When he went to touch her, down there between her legs, she whispered, "Jaime," and everything stopped.
He stood and promptly left the room with as much dignity as he could muster, and Lyla began to weep. How dare she seek comfort in another man. For as much as she hated Jaime, venomously and violently, she also loved him more than anything or anyone.
The babe began kicking and Lyla curled up and wrapped the furs around her, kicking off her slippers. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she felt as though she betrayed them both. The kicks became more persistent and she cried all the harder. Her bump had swelled so heavily and she felt ungainly as she rolled over and wiped tears from her eyes. By the end of it she didn't know if she wept for Robb and her mother, who rode for war, Bran who had finally woken up, Willas who she had lead on, or Jaime, the man she loved that she hated all the same. In truth, she cried for them all.
*Here is, essentially, the second half of chapter 31, but in Lyla's perspective. I am changing the order of events slightly, for the sake of the flow in my story. Anyways, I hope I did not disappoint you all with these last two chapters. They were difficult to write as this is a difficult time for them both and while my writer's block is fading, it is still very evident. Regardless, I thank you all for staying patient and sticking with me through this process. I have not forgotten this story, and will not forget it! You're all great- thank you!