The woman slowed her horse to a stop behind the Queen's wheelhouse before allowing a young squire to help her dismount. Her knees shook slightly due to the many weeks of riding and she left out a soft groan of discomfort. She had rode horseback almost the entire way from King's Landing in the South to Winterfell in the North, only walking very rarely and only once riding in the large wheelhouse with the Queen and her young children.
She unconsciously pulled the heavy dark yellow cloak tight around her body to protect it against the cold wind of the North. It was trimmed in fur, which tickled slightly against her skin. "Well, this is drearier than I expected." She said quietly to no one in particular, as the others in the company began to dismount from their horses. To the woman, the North just appeared to be a land of grey. Even the green of the summer grass was tainted by the fog that stretched from the ground to the sky covering everything in its bleak hue. Small flakes of white snow floated down from the sky but never making it to the warmer ground. The walls of Winterfell were built from large granite stones and they only added to the dullness of the landscape. But the people within the walls seemed a bit more worthy of note, the girl noticed as she moved her eyes to the group of Northerners lined up orderly in the yard, awaiting the King.
"Then you should find it quite appealing." A quick voice said to her right. She ignored the owner, as she often did, and turned her back on the procession to attend to her horse. Jacqueline Baratheon had already crossed the age of nineteen when she arrived in Winterfell with her king brother and his family. She was shorter than her three older brothers, but they all had the same eyes of blue and black hair, though of course Stannis was starting to lose his. Lady Jacqueline's own hair moved with the wind as it fell down her back. It was pinned back out of her face and her once passionate blue eyes followed her gloved hand as she moved it absentmindedly across the brown horse's fur. Beneath the dark yellow cloak she wore a deep blue grown, which matched her eyes, made of heavy fabric for the Northern cold.
When she felt that her presence was needed, she removed her attention from her horse and back to the crowd gathered. Just as she did, the man who had mocked her, the Kingslayer, walked pass, probably on some earn from his sister, the Queen. Her brother and Ned Stark had disappeared, leaving their two families alone together. Queen Cersei had already introduced herself and Jacqueline forced the apathetic look on her face to be replaced by one of curiosity, for fear someone would take offense to an unpleasant look, as she crossed the short distance to greet the Starks.
She felt a number of eyes follow her, a sensation that had been oddly absent for years in King's Landing. Lady Jacqueline had somehow perfected the seemingly impossible task of being invisible and thus ignored in the capitol. But she was not accustomed to the North or the North to her. Years ago, when people took notice of her, they told her she was beautiful and she hoped that was the cause for the attention now. She hoped here that her beauty would not be tainted by the reason behind her lack of a marriage, at least for a little while. Fueled by the possible false idea that people were looking at her for something good and not bad, she managed a happy and sincere voice when she greeted the Lady of Winterfell.
"Lady Catelyn," Jacqueline said with a hit of familiarity, though she hoped not so much that it would seem forced or fake. There was no sign of recognition on the older woman's face, confirming the younger one's belief that they had never crossed paths before. She barely missed a beat before she added, "I don't think we've ever met. Lady Jacqueline Baratheon."
Catelyn smiled as she recognized the name. "Yes, of course. You look so much like your brothers." The Lady of Winterfell appeared happy to meet someone who was not a Lannister.
Jacqueline too was glad to meet someone who did not have golden hair. Instead, Lady Catelyn had dark auburn hair, a trait she passed on to a number of children. "I do hope I am a bit prettier than them." Jacqueline laughed a real laugh, a rare event. She loved it when people told her she reminded them of her brothers. It gave her a sense of worth. If only for a moment.
That was when one of the Stark children spoke up. "Are you the King's sister?" It was the little brown haired girl. Her words were quick and her voice excited as she bounced next to her older sister. Lady Catelyn looked a bit distraught at her daughter's rudeness but bad manners rarely upset the Baratheon woman. Nothing really upset the Baratheon woman. She was King Robert's sister after all.
"Yes, child." Jacqueline said, enjoying her first impression of the Starks.
When the little Stark spoke again, she spoke all in one breath, stringing each word together without rest. "Is it true you can't have children? Why can't you have children?" Lady Stark took a sharp inhale of breath before reprimanding her youngest daughter. The young girl clearly realized she spoken ill but did not seem to understand how. Her slender face was full of both regret and confusion.
Lady Jacqueline politely silenced the older woman with a small wave of her hand before walking to the outspoken child, where she kneeled to see the girl at eye level. She wore a heavy blue wool cloak, edged in grey fur. Her brown hair was braided and wrapped up in a bun. Unlike her older sister, who stood next to her with a slightly horrified look on her face, she looked nothing like her mother. "What's your name, sweet girl?" Jacqueline said softly.
The girl didn't know where to look so she settled on the ground around her feet. "Arya, my lady."
"And how old are you?"
"Nine, my lady."
"You're smart for your age." The compliment seemed to ease a bit of the tension that had fallen on the Stark side of yard. The immediate Stark family along with Jacqueline had failed to notice that everyone else gathered in the courtyard had begun to move about their business, now that the majority of pleasantries were done with. Jacqueline continued in a stern yet soft voice, as if she was sharing an important secret not met for other ears. "Yes, it is true I cannot bear children. The gods did not honor me with that gift."
The little girl seemed to want to ask more questions but thought better of it. The conversation ended when the King and Ned Stark returned from the crypts.