AN: I wanted to dedicate this chapter to Whitedwarf. Thank you for the advice and allowing me to steal some Ned lines. I've also already posted a video on my youtube channel that's completely Ella (and the men in her life who drive her crazy) It's called Unsteady and features her mother and the similarities they suffered through.
Listened to Gnash - I hate u, I love u ft. Olivia O'brien while writing this. If you haven't heard it I would youtube search it now. It's pretty awesome.
I do not have a beta so all mistakes are my own.
"How ravished one could be without ever being touched. Ravished by dead words become obscene and dead ideas become obsessions."
― D.H. Lawrence
She wishes she could sleep all day. She wishes she could sleep all night.
She gets neither. She wishes she could dream of him, over and over dreaming of only him. The darkness doesn't allow her this for it's cruel and bitterly cold. Too cold to stop the shaking and the lonely hopelessness she feels.
So time seems to be quite lost to her in this situation, feels like an eternal darkness that seems endless without Max and Robb. She'd do anything to have her babe in her arms and her husband beside her grumbling that they take up far too much room in their giant bed.
She chooses to imagine her husband coming for her… hacking his way through every man that would see them separated. She imagines him riding into battle looking glorious with his shining armor, the new breastplate she had specially made for him.
Her husband like his father is a frugal man and rarely spends more than necessary, but her gold has always been her own to do with what she pleased. And having the best armor designed was her first gift to him. Silver enameled armor with the wolf sigil shining bright in the center of his chest. Even the chain mail was new and solid, light but strong enough to keep him quick on his feet.
The design was one she'd heard Renly used that was created by Tobho Mott. Having Gendry who had been his apprentice seemed like perfect luck and after weeks of work it came out looking even more glorious than she'd ever seen her father or Jaime even wear.
Guilt suddenly slams into her chest and she can hardly breathe, because never once did she wonder if Gendry survived the massacre of all their people.
The boy was clearly a bastard of Robert's, so she cannot imagine that monster allowing him to live.
Poor Gendry. Such a sweet boy.
She see's Rhaegar's army sweep down and bury him under their hooves as they did most of the capable men who lived in and around Winterfell. Surely Gendry would have been among them, doing his best to protect them at all cost.
She may never know. Not with everyone being burned the way they were.
The thought of revenge makes her grip on the furs tighten and the man who holds her captive stiffens until she forces herself to relax.
She must not allow them to know her plans.
So instead she pretends to sleep beside a man she grows to hate, the very man who even now watches every move she makes. Her eyes stay closed because she cannot stand the sight of him.
It's been another week without word of Robb coming.
Will he never come? Does he surely hate her as much as she hates herself? Does he think her a coward for giving in so easily? Did the very words that saved their unborn child betray the love of the father?
Because no matter what she says, no matter what Jon says, she knows now this baby could never be his. Never in a thousand years could another man put such a stubborn babe in her womb. She knows without seeing their child that it's Robb's through and through.
This babe is strong. It's survived a beating and heartbreak that no other child than Robb's could stand. This baby has it's father's strength and stubbornness, and even more so the sight and smell of his bastard brother makes her stomach revolt every time he's near.
"You still haven't eaten." Jon's words are as lost on her as are his dull grey eyes. Have they always been so dull? Did they always look so dull and blank like they do now? Surely she thought him handsome once. Never again.
"Ella, love you need to eat."
Love. Oh gods. How could he call her that? Where is Robb? Surely he's figured out a plan by now and is coming to rescue her from this hell because if he's not she's not sure she can stand it much longer. Killing Jon had only been a passing fancy in her fury filled bloodlust hate after seeing so many murdered by his monstrous father.
But now? If she hears him call her that one more time…
Her fast reflexes are shocking since she hasn't moved since yesterday. The sound of the slap sounds like thunder to her ears. She's pinned before she is able to make a fist and aim better for his stupid nose.
"What did I say about hitting me?" Jon curses, using all his weight and strength to keep her below him.
"Get off me!" Panic nearly overwhelms her at being pinned below this man again.
Her fear registers a lot faster than anything else she says or does and he's off of her and pacing in front of the bed in a matter of seconds.
"You have to eat. The babe needs food." His words are soft and she hates him even more for them because it's true.
"I can't…" her words drift off and he shakes his head, not that she can see. Her eyes are closed once more.
She cannot see how deeply what he says next hurts him. "I know our situation sickens you. But you must fight through it. You need to eat."
She laughs bitterly. "Our situation? You mean us pretending to be husband and wife?"
"This is nothing to laugh at and you know we aren't married yet."
Oh gods. He's lost his mind or perhaps never found it from the last time. "Yet? My husband lives and is going to kill you for this. You won't ever be marrying me or anyone else for that matter. Dead men don't get married."
Jon is still pacing, his anxiousness and anger causing Ghost to begin pacing too.
"Ella you know how much danger we are in. Robb's men have turned on him. Your marriage has been annulled. He's got no army and we're supposed to marry as soon as Stannis arrives."
Like she needs a reminder. Gods what's worse than Rhaegar Targaryen rising from the dead and ruining her life? Him managing to join forces with Stannis Baratheon, who last she heard was starving and nearly deserted by his own men.
"No one has the power to do that. I don't care what your inbred father says. I'll never marry you."
That one actually makes him flinch but once again she doesn't look nor does she care. If he had any real feelings he would have gotten her the hell out of there by now, not letting them annul her marriage and name her son a bastard. Not forcing her into this nightmare she's now living in.
Jon lets out a growl at the same time that Ghost does. Both of which she ignores. Somewhere in the back of her mind Greywind too is pacing, and his growl is more of a roar.
She refuses to lift her eyes but she knows at least Ghost felt his brother's fury for now his pace is much faster as his fur begins to stand up.
She almost wants to tell Ghost he's got an ass whooping coming but decides to bite her tongue. She doesn't want Jon to know of this connection she has with her husband's wolf, and part of her knows Jon's only doing this to protect her.
Still, there's another part of her that thinks he's enjoying this. No other reason explains him refusing to help her escape. Or that he's refusing to just let her slit Rhaegar's throat in his sleep.
"I don't even know where he sleeps." His reply is tired, and Ella finally opens her eyes.
"Yes. You said that out loud. And no, this is not for the first time. Ella if someone overhears you I don't think I'll be able to protect you."
She cares little for his protection. He can take his protection and shove it where the sun don't shine.
However, she does care about is this new piece of information. "What do you mean you don't know where he sleeps? Surely he sleeps in the castle."
Another frown forms as realization dawns. "Jon tell me he sleeps." Her mind begins to race… If he doesn't sleep, is he even a man? "Does he eat?"
Jon just ignores her and goes back to pacing. "Tell me. Have you seen him do anything besides murder and maim since he's captured our home? Where has he been meeting with you? Where is he now?" Her questions are so rapid she hardly understand them herself, but she needs to know this.
"Stop pacing and answer me!" She yells in frustration, pounding the furs with her still swollen fists. Him not answering her is making her panic. She knows very little. She knows there's several guards outside their rooms. That lesson was quickly learned after fighting Jon in a long and hard battle, nothing but pure adrenaline and the memory of Robb and Max's faces to keep her going.
That small battle ended with her hand swollen and both Jon and the closest guard with bloody noses.
Jon claims she kicked the guard but she isn't too sure. Her memory isn't that great right now. Giving up on life will do that to a girl. Especially when she cannot stomach the thought of food, babe in her tummy or not.
"He meets with me in the Great Hall. But I've been told he's taken no other rooms. I don't know where he is now."
"If you're to be King shouldn't you know where he is? How could you not know which rooms he's staying in? Robb would know!"
This finally manages to set him off. "Robb would know? He would? The same precious Robb that left you here without enough men to protect you and his family? The same Robb who left you here to die? That Robb? The one who has lost the loyalty of even his own men!"
"You don't know the meaning of loyalty!" She yells back, finally sitting up from the bed. "You make me sick. I hate you. I can't wait for him to come and kill you and this time I won't stop him!"
A harsh smirk takes over his normally handsome but broody features. One that she recognizes as the same smirk Rhaegar Targaryen used while torturing her.
"He's not coming for you. When are you going to realize that? Robb left you again and I was the one who came and saved you - AGAIN! And look at all the thanks I get-"
"I HATE YOU!" She's up and attacking him again, but she's quickly overpowered and tossed back on the bed.
"I should let you go. You're more misery than what you're worth. Only thing Catelyn ever said that I agree with."
His words do the trick and she slumps in on herself. Catelyn Stark. That cold hearted bitch hated her but she was right. She called it all right. She knew her son wouldn't stay with her long. She never deserved him.
"Ella-" Jon tries, obviously regretting his words instantly. Too little too late.
"No. You're right. I only bring misery to any man. How many times has Robb left me behind like this? No matter how many times I'd cry and plead. Beg and threaten. He'd always leave me."
For a moment Jon looks at her so blankly that she thinks he has not understood anything at all, and then his big grey eyes fill with some unnamed emotion she cannot even begin to fathom, and then he turns his head away so she is left staring at his black curls. She can only stare and think that his dumb nearly animal grief is just like hers is.
His voice is rough when he finally speaks. "No. I wasn't right. I didn't mean that. Robb only thought he was doing what he had to."
Ella rolls her eyes and attempts to escape his hold. "Oh. Because leaving his family was always what he had to do. You'd think since he fought so hard for me he'd stay for a while. Keep me longer. Not leave me first chance he gets to fight in some stupid battle."
"It wasn't a stupid battle. Many lost their lives." She's reminded once more of sweet Gendry and how he's likely now ashes in a large grave outside the castle walls.
"It was stupid. I knew it was stupid. Told Robb it was stupid. Winter was coming. His men didn't want to fight anymore. I told him and he didn't care."
"He felt he had to." Jon defended.
She can only shake her head. She'd began fighting with him because she was furious that he hadn't helped her get back to a man who left her of his own free will.
She'd be dead now if it wasn't for Jon. Robb left her to die with all the others who died.
They stay in that position for far too long to be deemed appropriate. She's pinned beneath him but thankfully he's holding most his weight off of her. He feels solid and warm. It's a comfort that she doesn't think she deserves but will silently accept.
"He wouldn't want this for you." Jon nods towards the still untouched plate of food. His words push her in motion and before her stomach can revolt she's moving towards it and slowly chewing.
"It's stale." His voice startles her.
Is he reading her mind?
He laughs. "No. I'm not reading your mind. You haven't eaten or slept in days. You've been mumbling every thought that passes through that pretty golden head of yours. I've heard every curse word and some I didn't even know existed. Much less to such a highborn lady such as yourself."
"Tyrion." They both say at the same time.
She nearly laughs but forces it down. Then realization dawns on her.
"You've been in here listening to this-" she points at the messy state she's currently in, "-for days?" She's shocked and a little horrified.
Then an even worse thought occurs. One that ruins every plan she had of escape. Is he a captive too?
"Yes. Why do you think I've tolerated your nearly hourly attacks? You think I have the freedom to just walk out those doors? You think I haven't tried to think of a hundred ways to get you out of here?" His frustration is clear as his hands run through his too long curls. "I have. I've thought and thought. None of my ideas are safe enough to even try. We're surrounded by an entire army. I can't just walk you out of here. Not without risking your life."
"But how could this be? How can he make you King of the North and just lock you up?"
Jon shakes his head. "I'm no King. I'm his pawn. I hold no power here. Not until we're wed and even then I think I'll still be his prisoner. I don't know his plan and nothing makes sense. All I do know is the safest thing I can do is keep you here and fed."
Any dream of escape and hope leaves her instantly. "I've been locked up with the stupid brother."
That she knows she says out loud on purpose and hates the way it makes him chuckle instead of getting angry, because that's what she wants. She wants him to feel angry and do something Robb would do, something that would get her to freedom while killing as many on their way out as they could.
"Yes. You've been locked up with the stupid bastard brother. I'm sorry I'm not Robb. I'm sorry I don't know what's happening outside these gates. I'm sorry I don't have all the answers. I'm sorry this is the only way I could think of to keep you alive."
For a moment she believes him. For how could she not? Who in their right mind would want this? She looks a fright. Can see how awful and pale she looks without looking in the glass. She's managed to lose weight in all the wrong places and her hair that once shined like gold now only looks dull and unwashed.
Good gods when was the last time she bathed?
"You haven't. I've only managed to use a wet cloth on you after you've been exhausted by one of your fits."
"Eww." She can finally feel it. The dirt and blood caked underneath her nails. Nails likely covered with his blood if the scratches covering him say anything.
She's gone completely mad.
"I can have them bring in warm water for the tub." His offer makes her cringe but she nods all the same. She's filthy and finally acknowledging that fact makes her ashamed to admit what else he's noticed that she hasn't.
She forces the last bits of food down while he has the guards bring in water for the tub to be filled. It doesn't escape her notice it's only men who bring the water. She hasn't seen another woman since she watched the last of their bodies piled and burned out in the courtyard.
The water is barely lukewarm but she doesn't complain.
She can finally she see how tired and sick of her he really is. How awful this must be for him. Never did she think of how he could be feeling. How he was also a prisoner. Locked in a room with a mad woman who attacked him verbally and physically at every chance she could.
He stays silent as he guides her into the tub. She doesn't blush when the shift she's wearing becomes wet and nearly see through. Jon's seen it all anyways. She only thinks of the barely warm water and tries to avoid his eyes as he hands her the cloth and soap.
She drops both several times, unable to hold up her arms for more than a few moments much less do anything with them. Not eating and sleeping will do that to you. Being brutally beaten doesn't help either.
She finally cries out when her bruised elbow hits the tub as she once again loses her grip on the soap.
Jon softly curses and moves to take over. She refuses to watch as he softly washes her bruised and bloodied limbs. It's only when he asks her to sit up that he says anything directly to her.
"This cut looks bad." Her next cry is a near screech when he touches it.
"Why didn't you tell me about this?" Oh so now he's finally mad. She bites her lip when he moves her further out so he can see it more clearly. She's not even sure how she got it or where it is exactly. She's guessing her lower back but maybe more of her hip. Another sharp cry tells them both it's the hip.
"This looks like it was done by a sword. When did this happen?"
She huffs. She hates being stuck here with the stupid brother. "When we were attacked and everyone was murdered. When else would it have happened?" Idiot.
"Someone tried to kill you." His voice is so low it's more of a growl which Ghost echoes from behind them.
"Of course they were trying to kill me. Do you not remember what happened? How do you think those bodies ended up burning outside when you arrived. For gods sake I can still smell the stink of burning flesh. Why are you asking such foolish questions? They attacked our home and killed our people. They were trying to kill us all."
Now it's him who rolls his eyes.
"Ella. Everyone knows who you are and someone nearly slashed your stomach open. You must have turned at the last moment for it to hit here. Who did this to you?"
She tries to think back, tries to remember being slashed at. She comes up with the most simple answer she can think of. "Those men outside. All of them. They all turned against Aegon and rode in here and killed everyone. Why am I having to explain this to you? Do you think I survived by pure dumb luck without fighting? Do you think when they saw me they instantly stopped their murdering of innocent people to kneel at my feet?"
He's no longer speaking to her. It's more to himself. "They were trying to gut you. You aren't safe here if they were attempting to do that."
She throws up her hands and soaks his tunic with dirty water.
"You are the stupid brother. No, I'm not safe here. What do you think is going to happen when I give birth to a son or daughter that has red hair and blue eyes like their father, like Max? Do you think either of us will survive? I'm only alive right now because I lied to them and said it's yours."
He barely notices her anymore, instead he's on his feet and grabbing at his hair once more.
"They knew who you were and tried to kill you and the babe anway. That means you are not what he came here for."
Now she feels a little stupid herself. She gave herself up so willingly because she too assumed the men attacking them were there for her. Rarely has a place been attacked in her life when the single goal is not to take her as a hostage to bargain with. His new fear is now becoming hers, because everything she thought she knew has been shaken and turned upside down.
But then she remembered the beating she took. How could she forget it so easily?
"I thought they wanted me at first too. It's why I sent them off with Max. I was hoping once they had me they'd stop hunting for them. Then your sick father presented me up like a gift in front of his men to beat like a dog for their enjoyment. Not even Ramsey Bolton did as much damage to me."
"Ramsey Bolton would have done worse had he the chance."
Now it's her shaking her head.
"No... This is worse. Keeping me alive, and locked up like this… I thought I had a purpose. I thought that I just needed to stay alive… Give him enough time... Just stay alive long enough for him to come…" Her sentence trails off and he frowns, biting his bottom lip.
"He'd come if he could. He tried."
"Obviously not hard enough." The anger she feels saying those words begins to lift and shift within her…. Anger that she felt towards herself now changing it's direction….
Jon feels it too. Feels and see's it. Finally understands why he's been locked up here with her for so long. See's the purpose the man who calls himself his father meant by trapping them so close together. Finally understands every swing and curse she's aimed at him meant something more. An anger she needed to release until she saw it too...
Robb left her. Robb chose to leave her behind and he came back and saved her.
Jon saved her. The stupid brother came back for her. It's him who is the one washing away her dirt, blood and tears. Yes tears. She's crying. Not because this wound he's cleaning is clearly infected.
No, she's crying because she's finally lost the one thing she's been clinging to since the beginning.
Robb's roar can be heard throughout the entire keep and camp set up just outside it. Grey Wind is up tearing into a log while he punches and rips apart anything within reaching distance.
Through their time apart he's been able to feel everything. Even more so when her emotions are at their highest.
He felt the wild fear she felt when they attacked their home, and he was too far away to do anything to get to her in time. He felt the anger and bloodlust through their bond while she killed man after man, unbelievable yet he knew it was true. Their connection works through emotions, not visual, but that night she'd bloodied so many that everything bled through as crimson in her wake.
It took days for his men to find the rest of his family. Aegon's forces had turned on him and pushed his own men all the way to the Rills. Nothing was worse than taking those ships and having to sail further away in order to survive.
He felt like a coward.
Yet he had to. Tyrion had managed to get to his family first, had Sansa, Rickon and Max along with a few others hidden away in the cargo. Aegon's or rather Rhaegar Targaryen's men had them cornered and were all about to be slaughtered.
He fought on that shore and thought he'd rather die than take one step off the same land she was currently on, yet Tyrion talked sense into him. Made him see that his own Bannermen had turned against him.
Only a few remained and those had nothing left to return to. They'd learned quickly how many homes had been burnt to the ground in Rhaegar's wake.
The ones with homes and families remaining chose to abandon him and his cause.
Robb was set on removing every single head until Tyrion handed a crying and dirty Max into his arms and practically shoved him onto the boat.
"We need to sail to Saltspear. She's already on her way."
Robb stumbled but held tightly onto his son. "That's not where we were supposed to meet-"
"No you dult. Having the Golden Company turn on us ruined those plans. If we don't sail we will all die here." The Imp gestured around them and Robb couldn't even find it in him to be insulted by being called a dult by the most annoying man he's ever met.
Sansa cried. A lot.
It started grating his nerves. Ella was still back at Winterfell, sacrificed herself to this monster and here is sister was safe and weeping so loudly he could hardly think.
He'd listened to it silently for too long. "Why are you crying?" His voice was full of venom and for a second he honestly considered finding something to tie her up with so he could cover her mouth. He could hardly think through the shock of it all, his men turning on him, the homes burned to the ground. Nearly home they sailed past was nothing but ruins.
"Aegon." Was all she managed.
"Don't worry Sansa. I'll remove his traitorous head myself."
That had the opposite effect and now she was straight out balling, on her knees into her dress. Robb looked around the boat for someone to take her away because he honestly could not deal with this right now.
Thankfully that red-headed servant who loved to give him the stink eye was there in a flash and pulling Sansa away. Seeing her struck a nerve and before he could stop himself he had her small arm in his tight grip.
"How did you manage to get away while the Queen stayed behind? You're supposed to be her Lady in waiting, yet you ran and left her there."
Whatever her name was didn't like being manhandled, and shoved him off her with a force that nearly knocked him overboard. Thank heavens Max was currently sleeping on a pallet next to Rickon and not still in his arms.
"I WANTED TO STAY! SHE ORDERED ME TO LEAVE!" The shove was shocking enough, but the next words nearly made him fall to his knees. "She sacrificed herself so we could live. She knew what was going to happen and she went back in there anyways so that she could save us. This is your fault. You're the one who left her there unprotected. You're the one who is always on the move, fighting yet another fight. It's your fault this happened."
Robb could only gape at her because it was true. It was his fault. Ella begged him to stay. She'd cried and pleaded. Said over and over that this felt wrong. He ignored her like usual. Never trusted her instincts and now who knows what's happening to her?
It was that very same night that her fears and anger developed into something worse. Sometimes pain would leak through their bond but she fought hard to keep it from him.
But this was different.
Someone was doing something so horrible to her, that she felt she would die. And then it would stop. And begin once more. Over and over. It took him a while to finally grasp what was happening. The sound of the water and the waves spraying him must have reached her side of the bond because water was what she was fearing. Just the spray he felt had her wildly flinching away. Then the pain and nearly consuming panic would start again.
Someone was holding her under head under water. She was being drowned, over and over until she'd reach the point of near death and they'd pull her back.
He lost fucking his mind.
Tyrion said it took all of them to pin him down and keep him from jumping into the water. Grey Wind was nearly as bad, and even Max's cries no longer held meaning.
Ella was being drowned. Over and over.
It was then that someone, no one will admit who, knocked him over the back of his head with the hilt of a sword to stop him from going into the water and going back to Ella.
The next morning he woke up with the worst headache in his entire life.
He also met that Dragon Bitch who he instantly hated.
She seemed to feel the same so Tyrion took over negotiations like a pro. Even called himself the Hand of the Queen. Which Queen Robb didn't know. He was too focused on Ella.
She was silent on her end of their bond, and that frightened him. He remembered the drowning, the terror she felt. The brief moments they allowed her to gasp for air before they submerged her again.
He was going to rip their throats out with his bare hands.
Dragon Bitch agreed on that point. She was furious over her own loss of Ser Barristan at the man who now held and was actively torturing his wife.
"How is she still alive?" The Dragon Bitch would murmur when she thought he couldn't hear. He'd grit his teeth and remember the time he killed off thousands of her men to satisfy himself not to turn on her right then and there.
The sight of her hair sickened him. That silver hair and purple eyes was so unnatural, so inbred. The madness was already in her eyes no matter how hard she tried to cover it.
Robb knew he'd use her now but he'd have to kill her once he killed Rhaegar. These Targaryens are too unnatural. Too disgusting. Over 300 hundred years of inbreeding created a family full of madness. This truce between them would only be temporary.
Grey Wind agreed. Didn't like the smell of her or her dragons.
He'd nod his head towards his wolf and silently tell him to wait. Just use them until he had his wife back and then kill that wretched bloodline so none of them could come back and harm them again.
Aegon, who he was now being told was supposedly betrayed and attacked by his own men would be put down too. He'd make his death swift and painless.
If he didn't die from his own wounds first. Tyrion's spies say he refused his father's own Maester and was just on death's door.
That made Sansa weep even more and he found himself snapping at her causing everyone, including Tyrion to glare at him.
What did he care? They could think what they wanted to. He was the King of the North, and he would make them all pay.
It was a week later that his fist collided with his Uncle's face that he felt a new presence within their bond.
At first he assumed she didn't approve of the violence, but then he felt her own anger flare and knew the cause.
Jon was there.
Jon was not only there, but he had his hands on her.
That same feeling from months ago when he felt her fear waking him from his own sleep. He'd been away and she was back at Winterfell.
He returned days later to find out that Jon had broken away from his chains and killed Ella's guards and attacked her as she tried to stop him.
The story was always odd, details coming from both Aegon and Ella didn't seem to match up. Jon's madness was at its peak and nothing he said made sense. He was used to that though, but he saw bruises that she tried to hide, and when he asked she explained she tried to help her guards as Jon killed them.
Robb allowed himself to believe it. Wanted to believe it.
But that night something changed. Something she refused to discuss, and he was too afraid to ask.
That fear became reality within a few more days.
Rhaegar released enough Raven's all over Westeros to announce the annulment of his marriage and the joining of their houses. Jon had been named King of the North, and as King he took his bride.
Confusion and rage took over and it took hours for Tyrion to finally tell him the rest.
He knew, or rather he suspected Ella was with child. She hadn't bled in months and her belly was starting to become firmer and more round.
Robb spent many days and nights filling her with his seed to make sure it took root.
Why he wasn't sure.
Not until now.
His baser, animal instincts had him placing his own seed to replace his brother's.
Jon had been with Ella.
Or rather… no. She wouldn't do that to him. Not again. She wouldn't betray him like that.
The fear that had woken him from his sleep finally made sense now.
Ella was brutalized in their own home while he was away. And now she's being forced into a marriage with the man who did that to her.
Rage took over and nothing else existed. Roars were heard all through the Keep and it took twenty of his Uncles men to drag him back to his tent.
What he saw there infuriated him even worse.
Word had spread of Ella's betrayal, or so it was being said. Her belly round and her claiming in front of the entire Golden Company that the child she carried was Jon's.
It made him into a cuckold to be laughed at. Or so everyone thought.
No one knew Ella like he did, and he knew she didn't do that willingly. She was desperate and said what she had to.
His Uncle clearly thought the former, and had a naked woman draped across his bed waiting for him to return.
Robb didn't even need to speak one word. Grey Wind growled and that woman was on her feet and running out half naked before he could even open his mouth.
The second time his fist met with his Uncle's face felt rather better than the first.
He didn't expect to feel a small fists pounding at his back while putting his idiot Uncle in his place.
Robb turned and found not just Sansa but that red headed servant girl attacking him with all their might.
Bewildered and confused he let them hit him until his own Uncle managed to pry them off.
"She loves you and you have that whore in your tent!" The red haired servant yelled as guards pulled her back.
"How could you!" Sansa joined in, eventually regaining enough composure to allow the guards to feel safe enough to let her go.
Robb opened his mouth but nothing came out. His Uncle stepped too close and it was enough to regain his senses and resume his attack on the idiot who paid the whore to be in his tent to begin with.
Tyrion was once again the savior, sorting it all out leaving Robb to take out his anger on a nearby tree while he explained to all the angry women present that it was indeed not his fault he found a whore in his bed.
Sansa seemed apologetic but refused to voice it out loud. Something bitter was growing within her and he didn't care enough to ask just what.
The red headed servant however was a different story. She glared and pointed her finger in face telling him Ella would cut it off if he ever thought of doing something like that again.
He couldn't even defend himself, lost for words. His own wife was being held hostage and forced to marry his own bastard brother who likely forced himself on her and these women were not worth the effort it would take to explain himself.
As if he'd ever cheat on Ella.
That night he went to bed with a wineskin cursing everyone around him. Even Sansa took Max away without complaint or even permission. Their plans weren't moving along quickly enough, and every scout he sent out would never return.
They were outnumbered and Winter was here.
Everything looked bleak and he felt like such a failure. A failure as a son, unable to save neither of his parents. Failure as a brother, letting Bran and Arya slip through his fingers.
Failure as a husband. Ella has been smothered with a pillow, likely raped, beaten, tortured and he's too far away to do hold her or do anything to comfort her.
In fact, in that moment it was someone else who was there doing what he should have been.
Jon's never ending affections paid off and he now had his wife. A wife who he could feel through the bond losing all hope in him.
Tears leaked down his cheeks as he cried silently in his tent. It took half the wine skin before he fell into a deep sleep.
What he didn't expect to see nearly had him weeping as Sansa had been doing.
His father was standing in the Courtyard of Winterfell, patient and gentle as always with a small smile on his face.
"Father?" He finally managed to spit out, frozen to the spot.
"Robb." A small nod and it was all it took for him to unfreeze and throw himself into his father's arms. Sobs took over him as his father held him up and steady.
"It's okay, it's okay son." Robb shook his head.
"No it's not okay. I couldn't save you. I couldn't save mother. I couldn't save my first child, and I can't save my next."
"You aren't responsible for what happened to your mother and I. You were just a boy. It wasn't your fault."
Robb wiped his tears and felt like he was a small boy again, getting schooled for skipping his lessons with Jon.
"That monster has my wife and unborn child. And worse Jon's there helping him."
His father looked at him with so much pity is was nearly too much. "It's not your brothers fault either."
Revulsion and anger exploded from him at hearing that word used. "That is not my brother. It's a bit late to keep telling that lie. He's no brother to me and what he's done is unforgivable."
His father frowned and shook his head, setting both hands on his shoulders. "He's our blood and I raised him to be your brother. He's as much a victim as your wife. You shouldn't be fighting against each other, but helping one another. He's there right now keeping her safe."
Robb yanked himself out of his father's reach. "Keeping her safe? I know what he's done to her."
His father moves forward but he steps out of reach again. "No. I know what he's done to her. I felt it."
He couldn't possibly explain this bond they had, and didn't have the energy to do so.
His father nodded, looking as wise and gentle as he did when he told him goodbye before leaving Winterfell for the last time. "This bond you share with her, the mark you've made. You don't know what that really means. That type of bond within our bloodline was forbidden hundreds of years ago. There's a reason why our family stopped doing it. What you're feeling, you don't know if it's what she was feeling or what was actually happening. You're only picking up one side of it. You need to hear it from your brother before you set your mind to taking his life for something he couldn't help."
"There is nothing you can say that's going to make what he did okay. I felt it. I felt her fear and terror. Jon hurt her in a way that you can't even fathom. He's holding her hostage even now, and don't you dare tell me it's because he's protecting her. Our home has been taken, thousands of innocent men, women and children murdered by this monster that is claiming to be his father. Jon has my wife there and is going along with plans to marry her. He's raped her once, and I'll see him dead before he does it again!"
"I know what Jon did was horrible and wrong. There is no excuse. And if he was any other man, no one would say you were wrong or out of line to hunt him down. But Jon isn't any other man, Robb. He is your brother, you grew up together, loved each other, protected each other. And that counts for something. Yes, you are right in your anger, I would not presume to tell you otherwise when I despise the man that hurt your mother the way he did. But I also know that killing Jon is not something you will be able to live with Robb. So cast him out of your life if you must, just don't kill your kin."
Robb can only shake his head. "I don't know if I can do that. If it comes down to it, and he gets in my way, I'll have to kill him. And this bond… I didn't know this even existed. Maybe if you had told us, warned me I wouldn't have bitten her."
For a moment his father's face turns pink and he looks embarrassed to even be discussing this. It quickly passes, and the stern, no bullshit look that he's so famous for is back.
"It's something in our bloodline that we used to practice hundreds of years ago. Back when the wolf ran more wild within our veins. Wolves mate for life. When a Stark would meet his mate, they'd mark her and she'd mark him back. Creating a connection between them, making their love, their marriage stronger."
"What's wrong with that? Why did they stop?"
"It can be dangerous. Allowing the wolf to take control, to hold that much power over us, it could lead to something worse. You can lose control. Everything becomes stronger. Colors, smells, touch. It's addicting. The bond can take control, cause you to do things you'd never do. It can make a good man do awful things if he thought something or someone stood between him and his mate."
The implication was clear. Robb swallowed. His father knew of all his misdeeds. How ashamed he must be. His head drops into his hands as he cries. Those people he's killed. Everything Ella had been so afraid of him doing, things he's done that he knew was wrong but he did it anyways… for her. To protect her. Keep her safe. Always for her.
His father's arms wrap around him and pull him close. "I'm sorry I didn't warn you of this. It's not something I've ever felt. My older brother Brandon described it. Had actually bonded with someone he wasn't meant to marry. The bond held strong, and when our sister was taken he acted rashly, heading South without thinking clearly. Too much wolf in him, and the bond didn't help matters. When he died his mate couldn't survive without him. She killed herself because she couldn't survive without him. The bond is too strong to overcome. If your mate dies you aren't far behind, the will to live just leaves you."
Robb nods. He knows that feeling. When Ella was smothered he knew he couldn't have went on without her. He'd held her in his arms until he too joined her in the afterlife. If Jon hadn't been able to bring her back… he wouldn't have survived without her.
"Can the bond be broken?" He asks only because he knows he should, not that he would ever do such a thing. He wonders if his father can read his mind because disappointment crosses his face instantly.
"Not that I've ever heard. Like I said, this was always forbidden. The only person I knew who did it was my own brother, and when he died the woman that we both loved died too."
"The woman you both loved?" He asks, shocked and feeling betrayal on behalf of his poor mother who was betrayed by both Stark men.
"Her name was Ashara Dayne. I saw her first but was too shy to ask for the dance myself. Brandon was my exact opposite. She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. Brandon was already betrothed to your mother. He'd always been the charmer so I should have known better. He ended up marking her that same night."
Robb stumbles back. Feeling the wolf in him growling. "I marked Ella and scented her and sent her to Jon. His wolf did the rest."
The assumption must have been right because his father could only nod sadly back. "He's probably tried marking her but it can't be undone. He will protect her with his life until you're able to get her back, but you won't ever be able to allow him near her again. His wolf grows stronger each day as does yours. I'm sorry you're both cursed with this."
Robb wipes away his tears. "She's smart. She said something like this before. Although she called it me peeing on her, marking her as mine."
A rare chuckle escapes from his father. "Daughter of Tywin Lannister, beautiful and sweet. You got lucky finding such a rare creature. Jon will keep her safe until you're able to get her back."
"I can't make any promises that I won't kill him. If he stands between me and her, I will kill him if I have to." The declaration sounded unreal but true. Nothing felt more true in his life. He'd kill Jon if he had to.
"Do all you can to spare his life, he's your brother."
Robb grits his teeth, "He's not my bro-"
"I promised his mother, my sister as she lay dying I'd keep him safe. You cannot kill him. For me son. Do not kill him. Show him mercy. He's protecting her and for that you owe him, if anything for that spare his life."
Robb wants to argue. Wants to shout how unfair this world is. Wants to tell his father how much he misses him and how desperate he feels. Wants to tell him about Max, and how much he looks like him. Stubborn like him, but he can already see a lot of Ella in him too. Can see it in the way he smiles, in the small yawns when he fights going to sleep. But before anything more can be said his father disappears and he awakens to the sound of Grey Wind growling.
Jon watches her finally sleep for the first time in days. Sure she's passed out for a few minutes in between half cocked plans to escape and attacks on him. But not really sleep. Not close her eyes and bury herself under the furs like she's doing now.
She'd cried herself to sleep for hours. He'd managed to call in a healer to help treat the wound. He'd nearly bashed the guards heads in when he thought of that slash so close to her womb. Whoever cut her clearly meant to kill her.
He was going to find out if they still lived and made sure he completed the job.
Rhaegar was more of a monster than the thought. They were going to kill Ella. Somehow seeing all those men and women burning didn't help with the truth of what nearly happened here. It didn't set in.
The Queen of the North, wife of Robb Stark, daughter of Tywin Lannister was hunted down and nearly slaughtered on purpose. Not accident. No one looked like Ella. Whoever did this knew who she was and wanted her dead.
Their situation was worse than he imagined. You don't just go and kill someone like Ella without someone ordering you to.
The man who claimed to be his father meant for her to be killed. Had she not fought so hard or said what she did she wouldn't be here for him to watch as she slept.
He nearly lost her.
Robb nearly lost her.
No. Robb nearly got her killed.
He saved her.
Jon Snow, saved Ella. Not Robb Stark. Jon Snow.
His brother has a lot to answer for, and this will be the first the next time he sees him. While he told Ella he didn't think Robb would be able to come, he knew it was a lie.
He knew his brother would come and die for it. He couldn't let her know that. Couldn't stand to tell her the truth.
Robb would come and do just as she said. He would try and kill him for this. He wouldn't care that he was saving her. That by agreeing to this marriage he was saving Ella.
No he would fight him till the death.
And he hated that fact.
Before this night, he would stand and fight the man he called brother and likely let him kill him.
But now… Now he realizes just what Robb did. How Ella could have been killed because of his actions. How that golden haired angel would have been taken away forever.
Robb would face him and he would tell him the truth. He left Ella to die. Let him put a sword through his heart after hearing that.
Let Robb know that he saved her from that fate. That by coming back here will only put her in more danger. His very existence is putting them all in danger. If he cared for Ella he'd stay away. But no. He's coming. He can feel it.
Ghost can feel it too. Grey Wind is angry and bloodthirsty.
A dream he had from months ago replays in his mind. Grey Wind attacking Ghost and Ghost attacking back. Both wolves fight in the snow and both spill blood.
Will this be their fate? Will both brothers fight and die to leave this woman alone? Who will save her then?
Suddenly he knows. He knows he cannot allow that fate. Cannot simply allow Robb to kill him as he planned. Robb's survival would be her end. She's surrounded by his enemies who all want to see Jon crowned King. For her to live he must win. For her child to live he must be there. Not Robb.
Like before Jon will be there to see her give birth. But unlike before it will be his responsibility to protect his child. No matter who's real blood this child carries. He will be the father. He will hold him or her, and will cherish the gift she's given him. He will cherish her and their child like they deserve to be cherished.
He bitterly remembers them trying to hand Max to Robb after Ella gave birth the last time. He had brought her back from the dead and still Robb didn't want anything to do with his own son. He remembered being angry and jealous at such a reward being given to someone who refused it.
Robb threatened anyone who brought the child near him. Hated his own son for just being born.
Like Catelyn had hated him after his father brought him home. A motherless child and that cruel hearted woman hated him.
Robb was more like his mother than he ever knew. How ashamed their father would be at seeing Robb say such things. No real man does something like that. No good husband or father would want a poor babe to pay for only being born.
Robb didn't deserve her or this child.
Pity filled him at the thought of how Max was now surely being ignored. Did he leave his son behind in some nearly abandoned castle? How long would news come of someone taking that castle and killing Robb Stark's heir?
Ella would be devastated.
Another blow Robb has dealt his wife to deal with. Just like he left her behind to be attacked this last time.
Instinct forced his hand over the furs that covered her belly.
He would protect this child with his life.
Even from the babe's own father if it turns out to be Robb's.
It was that night Ella awoke screaming.
The nightmare had felt too real. Grey Wind and Ghost fighting it out… Ghost finally getting the better of Grey Wind before dealing the killing blow.
That same blow that causes Robb to stop.
That moment is his undoing. Grey Wind's death takes too much out of him and for a moment he stops and it's with horror she watches as both wolf and man fall into the snow.
Jon's there to hold her and calm her back down. She tries fighting him at first but eventually is too tired to keep him off. He's much stronger and she's too weak. She collapses into his arms crying as the vision of Robb's blue eyes closing tear into her very soul.
This is worse than anything she's experienced because she once again feels Grey Wind. Just like she felt Ghost coming. Grey Wind is closer and her nightmare could very well happen.
Robb and Grey Wind both may end up dying.
Where's Max? The unanswered question causing her into another fit of screams and swings. Where's her son? Where did Robb leave him? How could he leave him? She know's he's not with Grey Wind. Feels the absence and knows her son has been left behind.
How could he? How could he leave him behind? Doesn't he know what could happen? Doesn't he care? How could she fight so hard and finally give herself up to save her son for Robb to just leave him behind.
And who with? Likely with that moron for an Uncle. He won't be able to keep him safe. Only Robb or her could do that.
Suddenly a thought hits her and she wants to throw up.
Jon would have kept Max with him.
Who is the real bastard now? Robb better hope he dies if she discovers him without their son. She'll kill him herself. Gods damn him to all the seven hells if he's left their son behind like she knows he did.
It's a while before she speaks.
It startles him to hear her so angry and it not being directed towards him. Also breaks his heart hearing her sound so broken, so defeated.
"Robb's coming." Jon goes to open his mouth, but she continues. "Robb's coming and he left Max behind."
"You-" He tries to defend his brother, more so for her own sanity than for his brother's sake.
"No. I feel Grey Wind. He's coming. Max isn't with him."
"No. Robb wouldn't be separated from Grey Wind so easily. He's left our son behind just like he left me."
That shuts him up. What can he say? It's exactly his own thoughts. Does he really even want to defend his brother now? How can he? His actions are unforgivable. Because as much as Ella loves Robb she loves their son even more. She's given herself up for him. Was furious when she awoke after his birth to learn of Robb's ill treatment towards him. That had been something that clawed at her. Their son treated so badly by his own father.
"So he's coming?" Jon's mind already drifting back towards his dream. He can feel Robb's wolf coming closer, but there is no distinct location he's felt before with Ghost's other littermates.
Grey Wind is coming but from which direction is not something he can see. That can only mean one thing. Something Grey Wind knows, something that Robb knows. Something Jon knows but hates to admit.
He doesn't feel him because Grey Wind knows he's his enemy. He's not connecting to his brothers wolf like he's been able to in the past.
Ella will know when he's close and the direction they will be coming from.
Will she betray Robb and warn him?
Her next words make it clear she's too angry to read where his thoughts are and what this means for them.
"I'm going to kill him. He left our son behind and I'm going to kill him if anything happens to Max. Leaving him behind like this…" she's so angry. Jon nearly smiles in the dark.
Robb's got more than just him to deal with. He's got a very angry wife who isn't going to forgive so easily for this.
His hand goes to cover her belly over the furs and the shock of the slap he receives makes him pull back. "Don't touch me."
Jon can't keep the small smirk off his lips as he removes his hands and gives her more room. They're in the same bed and no matter how many times she's shoved him out of it he's always gotten back in. Rhaegar made it clear that they needed to appear as man and wife. Sharing a bed was one of those perks. Not so much as making love, but just being able to lay next to her was enough. Enough for Jon not to be able to imagine Robb giving this up for anything. How his brother ever left his wife and their bed is unfathomable to him.
If she allowed it, he'd never leave her in a bed alone again.
It's not long before his hand on instinct goes back towards the furs covering her belly. She's quick as a whip when she slaps him away again. This time calling him a curse word he's heard only the Imp use.
"That's uncalled for." He still has that slight smirk and it's like she can see in the dark because she pinches him this time hard in the arm.
"Stop trying to touch me."
His smirk never leaves and she's more afraid than she's ever been of him because she can feel the change in him. He thinks of her as his. Seven hells this man who saved her but is still holding her hostage thinks he's going to eventually be her husband. As if there will ever be anything left for him once Robb is gone.
He refuses to see it. Refuses to see beyond his own twisted and completely never going to happen desires.
Nothing will be left once Robb's heart stops beating, and while it remains she will always be his. Angry at him or not. She's Robb's and will always be Robb's. This poor smirking fool doesn't even see it. Refuses to listen to her.
She awakes only what feels like minutes later to his hand creeping back towards her.
It's like a horrible alarm bell ringing before it makes contact. This time she uses all her strength to shove him out of the bed completely. Ghost stirs and even seems to give his owner a stupid look from his spot next to the door.
Jon just won't get it. His words replay in her mind.. The same ones he's said so many times but hasn't repeated since Robb returned the last time. "I love you… and I know you love me."
Gods what has she gotten herself into what will it take for this lunatic next to her to see how wrong he is? Damn Robb Stark for leaving her behind to this.
That very night Rhaegar feels the first victory since his arrival. The damned girl finally allowed his son to do something besides hold her down as she continues to attack him. The guards had come straight away with news that she had not only eaten, but allowed his son to bathe her.
While she was never his choice of a wife for his most cherished son, he couldn't deny that her blood was not any less noble than his own. Her mother being from a House older than his own even. House Parren was one of the last great House's in Westeros to nearly fall instinct. His plans pushed her mother into the marriage bed of Tywin when the bitter man didn't even want another wife. It's why her death was never questioned and why it was so easy to steal away her twin brother. Tywin wasn't even present for the birth of his youngest born.
Tywin's indifference made it possible to steal her brother and bring them to where they were today. Her blood would be worthy of his son's sword when he places it into her chest. He may even get a grandchild from her if this turned out to be Jon's babe.
He really doesn't know when she will need to be sacrificed, only the chosen one will. Perhaps if the child she now carries does turn out to be another ginger haired heir for his wolf father, maybe perhaps she will soon carry another. Ella has proven to be fertile. Maybe during the upcoming war the two will grow closer and she could give his son a child before leaving this world.
The thought brings a new hope into his heart that he'd never been expecting. Not since learning of his true love's death. Not since she gave him Jon before she left.
Jon was a hope he held on to all these years. But what if there could be another? Maybe this foolish girl was the perfect one to breed him a new child. Maybe a son with dark hair like his father or perhaps a girl who looked just like Lyanna?
Ella suddenly has become more than just a sacrifice. She could give him something before she left this wretched world.
The vision he had as he lay bleeding on the battlefield all those years ago replays. Jon standing alone, pulling a great sword from his side as men riding horses all clashed around him.
Jon fighting and surviving against all odds for something that Rhaegar couldn't really explain or see.
Now it becomes clearer.
Jon will win these upcoming battles for that stupid, selfish golden haired girl.
Thank the gods his sword didn't hit it's mark that night he first saw her in Winterfell. The way she dove out of his path was like something or someone was protecting her and what she carried.
He'd like to think it was Lyanna teaching him a lesson. Showing him a new path that he couldn't see before.
By the gods no daughter of Tywin Lannister would have fought that hard and killed as many men any other way. It had to be Lyanna guiding her. Just had to be.