Whoaa! So sorry for the long wait. I needed to revise where I wanted to this story and then I was flooded with schoolwork and my writing just sat around unfinished. But I'll try to get back on track and update more regularly. Thanks for all the feedback. It really helps. :) - Madison
Jacqueline decided she was wrong about the North. It was still much too cold for her, but the landscape was more pleasant than she originally thought. Without the eerie fog, the short grass appeared a dark green color against the greyish blue sky. The sun was still not visible behind the shapeless clouds. The ground refused to remain flat for any accountable distance and instead traveled up and down creating hills and valleys, some higher and deeper than others. It was warmer that day, than it had been on the day of their arrival. But she doubted that she could ever get use to the cold.
Jacqueline was dressed in thick green velvet. Her grown started high on her neck and fell loosely over her small body, collecting slightly at her waist. The sleeves were snug against her arms and her hands were covered with gloves made of brown leather. Her open surcoat was wool, dyed a darker green, lined in dark fur and tied around her waist with an adjoining silver brooch in the shape of a leaping stag. Her black hair was pulled back into a single large braid.
She tightened her grip on the reins as the grey palfrey picked up his pace. The horse had been a gift from Renly on her sixteenth name-day and he had become her most prized possession. Jacqueline had been invited to join the royal hunt, though it sounded more like a command the way Robert had asked her. She would have preferred to stay behind in Winterfell with the rest of the women. She had drank too much wine at the feast and now wanted nothing more than to return to her room and fall back asleep, despite the growing charms of the north. The king was always forcing her into social settings, whether it be festivals in the capitol or hunting in the north. Robert knew that if she was left behind in Winterfell, she would spend the day in her room, content with being alone.
Jacqueline knew the people of King's Landing, including some at court, had taken to calling her Stannis the Younger. She supposed she had adopted a few of her older brother's traits. They were both seldom creatures; always frowning or scowling. They both had forgotten how to smile, truly smile. Stannis had never known how to laugh and Jacqueline was quickly forgetting how to do that as well. She had once been so much like her brother Renly. Chasing after him as a child screaming 'look at me, look at me' as they played games together. But Jacqueline was forced to grow up. Grow up or be a burden. And Jacqueline refused to be a burden.
Robert rode beside Eddard Stark. Her brother had asked Lord Stark to be his new Hand of the King but she was unsure if Stark had given his answer yet. The answer would be 'yes' though. Robert may have been Ned's oldest friend, but he was still king. After them came Prince Joffrey and the Hound. Jacqueline's eldest nephew wore a dark red doublet with gold stitching. Over his back hung a long dark cloak with one half adorned with the crowned stag of House Baratheon and the other half with the roaring lion of House Lannister. Jacqueline hated that. As a woman, she figured she should appreciate a son taking pride in his mother's house but as a Baratheon, she was infuriated by the equal representation. Jacqueline liked to think herself more of a Baratheon than a woman.
Jacqueline made conscious decisions not to interact with the prince. When she did, she was always polite and courteous, never giving him a reason to snap at her. He would be king one day and she wanted to survive his reign. There were many a night when Jacqueline found herself crying over the children she would never have. But then in the morning, Joffrey would do or say something horrible and Jacqueline thanked the Mother for not making her one. What if her child turned out like Joffrey, cruel and vicious? But then there were Tommen and Myrcella; two sweet and kind children so unlike their older brother. No, she thought, better that the gods made her barren and never force her to deal with such odds.
Behind the prince and his sworn shield, rode Jacqueline on her palfrey. Riding directly behind her, all atop two dark coursers, were Ned's eldest son Robb, Theon Greyjoy, the ward of Winterfell, and Ned's brother who was visiting from the Wall. She was of an age with Theon, both having been ten years old when Balon Greyjoy rebelled against the Iron Throne. It had been six years after Robert's own rebellion, and again Jacqueline was left behind, this time in King's Landing, as her two older brothers went to war. Robert had superior numbers and resources so Balon's reign as King of the Iron Islands had not lasted long, less than a year. Afterwards, there was a tourney at Lannisport to celebrate the victory and she made her only trip to the Westerlands at her brother's bequest. Jacqueline remembered very little from that tourney, only that Ser Jaime Lannister lost the final to some knight from Bear Island.
Theon himself was a tall, lean boy, or man, with dark black hair and a handsome face. He always appeared to be smiling, as if he was enjoying some unspoken joke. His clothes were nondescript and he carried a quiver of arrows and a bow across his back. Robb Stark was only armed with a sword, which he wore on his hip. Robb looked more like his mother, curly auburn hair and Tully blue eyes and high cheekbones. The two youngest Stark boys were too young to join them on the hunt and Jacqueline was the only woman invited along.
"Jaks! Get up here." The King bellowed back at her. She steered her horse out of the line and trotted up to the front, which awarded with a sneer from her nephew. She went to right side of her brother, curious as to what he wanted. Robert never paid her much attention as a child, or an adult. She was low on his list of priorities, even lower than his wife and children.
"Your Grace?" Jacqueline said once she reached her brother.
"How do you like Winterfell?" Robert asked, barely looking at her.
He had never asked her opinion before, on anything, so Jacqueline was a bit surprised at the question. "I like it well, You Grace. It's a bit different from King's Landing. Their godswood looks bigger." Jacqueline said the first things that came to mind.
That made the king laugh. Robert's laugh was a boisterous sound that erupted from his large stomach. It was often an endearing trait; unless he was laughing at you then it was obnoxious and annoying. "The godswood, of all the things…Robb! My sister wishes to see your godswood." The king commanded, to his sister's dismay. In a quieter voice, he added "I expect you to return when you're done looking at the trees. You're not getting out of this day so easily, Jaks."