Her room was filtered with soft dapples of gray northern light, it would soon be dawn. Jon lay next to Dany, his larger form curled around her smaller one. She was a tiny thing, beneath the heavy layers of winter clothing she often looked no older than Sansa, until you took the time to inspect her, her ethereal face, saw the soft curves of a woman's figure, the rise of her supple breasts, her legs muscled and strong. She was a woman, a beauty as rare as her namesake, a Targaryen; she was one of the last of her family. He watched her sleep, deep in slumber, her face relaxed and sweet. She was as bards sung in their tales, a woman beautiful as the moon, skin white as winter snow. She was a princess, the last of her kind, otherworldly as the silver of her hair, she was the god's masterpiece, their most perfection recreation, and she wanted him, the bastard of Winterfell. It almost felt as a cruel joke, to be wanted by the moon, but he would never be allowed to have her, even if he was a highborn bastard.
He wanted to protect her, keep her safe, and hide her away from the world that wished to harm her. But, Jon knew differently. She possessed a gentle heart filled with compassion and brimming with hope. But, in the depths beneath that gentleness was a fire growing steadily of the likes very few had ever seen, would ever see. He buried his face into her inky black hair, wishing to caress the silky wisps of silver once again.
"Dany," Jon sighed into her hair, his warm breath against her ear stirred her, but she remained asleep. How the gods' continued to tempt him and make a mockery of him for all he wanted most in the world was her. There was a soft creak as the door opened; Jon looked up to see Robb standing in the doorway, surprised at the sight of them.
"Jon?" Robb whispered, Jon sighed as he carefully disentangled himself from the sleeping dragon, a frown marred her lips at the loss of his warmth, but she was still to drowsy from the milk of the poppy. Jon shifted the furs to tuck around her in his absence. Satisfied she was not cold, he turned to his brother.
"Let's speak outside, Dany needs her rest." Jon murmured as Ghost leapt from the bed to stand by his master. Robb only nodded as they left her room. Jon fixed his cloak around him as they walked down the hall, lit by torches. "It's not what it looks like."
"And what was it supposed to look like?" Robb heartened for his brother to be truthful. "Don't lie to me, Jon. We've never lied to each other." Jon was reluctant to look at him; Robb shifted his gaze to look the window over the moors of Winterfell. "How long have you two been like this?"
Jon shifted awkwardly, "For some time now."
"I see," Robb said nothing else. "Do you love her?"
"Do you?" Jon questioned him in return.
Robb looked at his brother, Tully blues and Stark greys. He was thoughtful for a moment, "I thought I did, but then I realized it was no different than my feelings towards Sansa and Arya." Jon was quiet. "So, I'll ask again, do you love her?"
Jon sighed as a northern breeze ruffled his dark curls, "I do love her, but it matters not."
Robb glared at him, "What do you mean it doesn't matter? You love her."
Jon looked at his brother, the challenging look in Robb's eyes, daring him to call himself a bastard. Jon smiled softly, "I'm not a Stark."
Robb's glare darkened, "You are to me, to Arya, Bran, Rickon, and even Sansa."
"And I'm grateful to all of you for it," Jon smiled, Robb's expression gentled at the unfairness of it all. Robb knew he saw firsthand how much Jon had struggled with his birth, the choices he had had no choice in making of the outcome of his life.
"I'll beg father to legitimize you," Robb said quickly, voice thick with emotion.
"Only a king can legitimize a bastard," Jon told him.
"Then when I become lord I'll beg the king to legitimize you as one of us," Robb declared, Jon stared at him in surprised.
"Does it matter so much to you I am legitimized?" Jon asked him quietly.
"Of course it does," Robb looked at him, blue eyes hardened with resolve. "You are part of the pack."
Jon smiled softly, "Thank you, Robb."
Robb pulled him into a hug, "What are you thanking me for? You are our brother; you were born with Stark blood in your veins that makes you important as any of father's trueborn children." There were things that were rarely spoken about between the brothers. They often conveyed secret thoughts and shared meanings between them in a silent language only they knew. Despite Jon being months older of the two, it was often Robb who acted as the older brother in his hardest moments. Jon returned his embrace, Robb patted his back, cleared his throat to shake the emotion from it. "Enough of that, we'll be weeping babes if we continue." They shared a laugh. "The morning meal will be served soon, let's go to the great hall." Jon nodded, as they continued down the halls. He felt Robb rest a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. "Jon, I'm happy for you, and for Daenerys."
"I wish I could feel the same," Jon murmured, Robb's gaze softened.
"Fuck the king, fuck them all," Robb hissed as Jon looked at him, wide eyed. "Our uncle took whatever he wanted, he did as he pleased and he was grandfather's heir, they called him the wild wolf for a reason. Father said uncle had the wolf blood."
"And look what it did to him," Jon ground out. "It led him to an early grave. Come on."
Robb sighed, "I don't mean you have to be exactly like him, Jon. I meant only that you share his blood, you have wolf blood in you."
"And what would I do if I suddenly decided I want to marry Dany?" Jon rounded on his brother. "What could I offer her? I have no castle, no claim, no lands, no coin; I have no army to protect her with when the entire realm wants her dead. I refuse to father another bastard named Snow; it's not a good life for a child."
"You wouldn't be a bastard, you would be a Stark. I'll make sure of it." Robb told him sternly, gaze solemn with promise.
"Robb," Jon sighed almost frustrated, "What will you do, ask the king to legitimize every bastard in the north named Snow?"
"No, they're not family." Robb snapped at him equally as annoyed. "But you are, and family sticks together."
"Thank you, Robb." Jon smiled warmly. "Your words mean the world to me, but I don't plan on holding hope that the king will have sympathy for Eddard Stark's bastard." He began to walk away, signaling to his brother he was finished with the conversation. Ghost easily kept pace with his master.
Robb sighed, he felt Grey Wind nudge his gloved hand with his large snout and a comforting croon. "You are a Stark, Jon, why can't you see that?"
Jon had finished his morning meal in silence while Theon had spoken animatedly, but Robb showed little interest to the Greyjoy. Ghost and Grey Wind last beneath the table at their master's feet, occasionally stirring when they were snuck sausage or bacon beneath the table by their masters. Jon had little appetite after his talk with Robb, he barely tasted the food, he was to numb to all, but it warmed his stomach. The door to the great hall opened as Cersei Baratheon strolled in all her queenly glory with her children trailing behind her. At first sight of Joffrey Robb stiffened, Jon was equally rigid with anger rolling off him in waves. His hands fisted beneath the table, clenching and unclenching. Robb's hand grabbed onto his to remind him where they were before he was blinded by his rage like a wounded animal. Joffrey immediately felt their frigid stares on his back, he turned to sneer at them, but between the benches, he saw the glowing red eyes staring back at him. He swallowed hard, turned and hurried after his mother, fuming silently to himself.
"Jon," Robb hissed below his breath as Jon sighed shakily and settled into his seat, Robb released his wrist.
Jon's hands knotted into Ghost's mane, his direwolf rested his head in his lap, offering his solace. Jon gradually calmed, Theon looked at him in confusion, "What has you so rigid, Snow?"
Jon glared at him, Theon froze on the spot. Without another word, Jon rose with his plate in hand. Robb sighed in exasperation, "For once in your life can you keep your mouth shut, Theon?"
"What did I do?" Theon defended himself, clearly peeved at the Stark heir.
"Nothing," Robb said after a moment as he watched Jon discard the rest of his food and left the plate in the kitchen before he left the great hall. "Forget it."
Theon snorted, "You Starks are all the same."
Robb rolled his eyes, "Finish your meal then we have training with Ser Rodrick." He looked over his shoulder towards the Baratheons', his hard stare softened when he caught Myrcella's emerald gaze, she smiled sweetly at him, Robb nodded in acknowledgement of her, and smiled faintly. He grabbed the remaining of his bacon and tossed it below the table to Grey Wind; he heard the soft snap of his jaws as he swallowed the morsel. "Come on, squid."
Theon glared at him, "You've spending too much time with her." He emphasized angrily, Robb smirked he knew it was Dany's endearing name for him. "And it's a kraken."
Robb laughed, "Of course, I was forgetting."
Jon was walking through the courtyard, having sent Ghost away to the Godswood after seeing the prince. Ned had been firm about keeping the direwolves away from the royal children, they were to be kept in the Godswood, chained up if need be. But, Jon and the Stark kids had been brazen to sneak out their wolves when their father was not near. He heard a voice call out to him, "Jon." He turned swiftly to see his father.
"Father," Jon said quickly in greeting, a small smile on his lips. Ned returned it as he patted him on the shoulder.
"Do you have a few moments to spare?" Ned asked him as Jon nodded eagerly. He always relished in the time he spent with his father, it was rare, and small, but Jon treasured it all the same when Ned devoted time solely to him. He felt as a true son in those moments.
"For you father, of course," Jon spoke respectfully and politely. Ned's smile gentled greatly, he had ice in his hand.
"Come with me," Ned said as he led them towards the crypts of Winterfell. They strode through in silence, until they came to a halt before three statues. Jon knew them immediately, Rickard Stark, and his children, Brandon and Lyanna on either side of him.
"Why did you bring me down here, father?" Jon asked softly as Ned looked longingly at the remains of his family that had nearly been decimated by the mad king.
"I come down here to think sometimes," Ned explained with a content sigh. "I come down here to pay my respects to father, Brandon, and Lyanna. When I watched you and your brothers and sisters playing I would often remember days with mine. Brandon, Lyanna, Benjen and I, we were a lot like you and your siblings."
Jon stared respectfully at his grandfather, uncle, and aunt. "Do you miss them?"
"Not a day goes by when I do not," Ned smiled, but it did not reach his eyes where a soft sadness darkened them. "Brandon and I were close growing up, I was sad to see him leave when he left to be fostered at Barrowton with Lord Dustin. Brandon was an excellent jouster and swordsman; he was skilled even as a child, he was naturally gifted, much like yourself Ser Rodrick tells me." There was warmth in him as he spoke fondly of his brother and son. "I see a lot of him in you, he loved to ride, father used to call him and Lyanna centaurs, Brandon spent as much time in the saddle as he did honing his sword, he preferred his sword to be a sharp as possible." He thought with quiet humor. "Every spare moment you have you hold a whetstone to your sword."
Jon smiled genuinely to know his father was ever vigilant of him, "Ser Rodrick says you need to always be prepared for battle."
"Aye," Ned murmured. "You must always be prepared. Ser Rodrick thinks you would do well in battle, I suppose we would all enjoy what we are good at. Brandon did."
"I don't think I would," Jon said quietly, Ned looked at his son expectantly. "I don't think I could enjoy ending someone's life, even if it was an enemy."
Ned smiled faintly, "That's where you and Brandon are different. He enjoyed a good battle, to test his skill against another. He was everything a father could ask for in a son, an heir, but Brandon never wanted any of it. But it was him this was all meant for, Winterfell, lordship, everything." He looked down at ice, the Valyrian greatsword, he was quiet a moment before he turned his son, "Would you want it all, Jon?"
Jon was startled by his father's question, his mood sullen. "I would do my best to rule well, Winterfell is my home, the north it my home." His grey eyes were hard as stone as he looked at his father. "But I'm not a Stark, so it matters now what I want."
"You are as good as, you may not have my name, but you have my blood." Ned's gaze was unreadable; Jon could not place the myriad of emotions his dark grey eyes flickered with. Guilt, melancholy, warmth, affection, it was everything. "Do you know why I have tried so hard to instill in you, Robb, your siblings, the importance of honor and duty?"
Jon was still for a moment, but sighed and shook his head, "Because it is the way of your family?"
Ned's brows furrowed, "You are part of that family, Jon." Jon said nothing. Ned sighed, "Aye, it is the way of our family. I have tried to teach you all the importance of it because I did not want the past to be repeated."
"What do you mean?" Jon asked as he followed his father's gaze towards the statues of his brother and sister.
"Brandon and Lya died because they chose not to follow their duties," Ned spoke with a deep sense of melancholy. "Do not mistaken me for thinking poorly of them, because I do not, I never will. They were both wolf-blooded, if they done their duty they would still be alive today, and I would not have lost my brother and sister to an early grave."
"I don't understand, father." Jon said gingerly on the topic at hand. Ned loved his family fiercely, the living and the dead.
"Brandon and Lya chose love above duty, chose to follow their feelings over what was honorable, and they died for it." Ned spoke somberly then Jon had ever seen his father. Jon was quiet as Ned spoke, "What I am about to tell you very few know the truth of, it is not something to be shared with, not even your siblings. Do you understand?" Jon only nodded quickly and solemnly, it was very rare of his father to speak so honestly with him. "You have heard the stories of your Aunt Lyanna, how she was abducted and raped by Prince Rhaegar, Daenerys's brother." Jon swallowed at the mention of her. "Prince Rhaegar never kidnapped her, Lya, she chose to run away with him." Ned saw the questions swirling in Jon's grey eyes. "She loved him." He said simply. "She loved him, he loved her, and the seven kingdoms' bled for it."
"How do you know for certain, father?" Jon asked him, eyes quivered with emotion, confused and lost as fogs over the Winterfell moors.
"I found my sister dying from childbirth in the Tower of Joy after the war," Ned explained as he looked at the statue of Lyanna, so young and beautiful, even in stone. "She was happy even as her life slipped away; she died with a smile on her lips, his name on her last breath. Her son was stillborn moments later." Jon swallowed hard overcome with emotion. "She had followed on the footsteps of Brandon. Brandon was betrothed, but he loved another unlike any he had loved before, and it contributed to his death."
"I thought the mad king had him and grandfather killed," Jon spoke hesitantly.
"He did. Brandon had been sent to visit his betrothed, afterwards there was a month he was unaccounted for, he did not return north as was expected of him, my father thought he had chosen to remain with his betrothed, but it was around that time Brandon had caught word of Lyanna's abduction and rode south to King's Landing, and he never returned."
"What was uncle doing for that month?" Jon asked him curiously.
Ned looked at Jon, his grey eyes lighter than his own; it was his brother's eyes staring back at him. "That is a story for another day. What I want you to understand is why I stress the importance of honor and duty. Why I try my hardest to live by them. One day, when you are older, I will tell you more of our family, and on that day I want you to remember you will have to make difficult decisions, ones you will very reluctant to, but you must in order to protect the people of Winterfell, of the north. You will have to set your own feelings aside for our people." Jon stiffened; his father's gaze was one of knowing. Did he know of his growing feelings for Dany?
"I understand, father." Jon spoke earnestly. "At least I think I do."
Ned chuckled with warm mirth, "I sometimes forget how much you and your siblings have grown. Just months ago I remember you all in the kitchen arguing over what to name your wolf pups." It was just like his children to be squabbling over names of wild direwolves. "You, Robb, Arya, and Bran were already in love with yours, Sansa was charmed by hers, Rickon not quite sure of his."
Jon smiled slightly, "He was afraid."
Ned nodded smiling ever so slightly, "He was young, but you and Robb helped him to face his fears. You've always done well to look after your brothers and sisters."
"I try my best, but some of them don't make it easy, Arya especially." Jon laughed at the young she-wolf.
"No she doesn't, does she?" Ned felt a chuckle rise in his throat, but it died on his lips, instead he let out a sigh. "She is very much like Lya, just as I see Brandon in you at times. But the rest of you, I guess that's your mother in you."
Jon stiffened again, his mood with brooding just as quickly. "Will we ever speak of my mother, father?" He ventured boldly.
"In time, we will." Ned said to him.
"Do you promise?" Jon pushed blatantly, eyes hard as grey stones.
"I promise," Ned nodded as solemn as ever. Jon could only nod overcome by emotion. The sound of footsteps broke their silence.
"Ned, what are you doing down here?" Robert's voice rumbled through the crypts. He noticed Jon there.
"We were just paying our respects," Ned explained quickly, Jon nodded awkwardly. He turned to his son, a brief smile, he held out the greatsword to him. "Will you return this to Jory for me?"
"Of course, father." Jon took the greatsword, it light, but heavy. He bowed quickly to the king, Robert nodded to him, and Jon quickly took his leave.
"Your bastard?" Robert spoke as he watched Jon leave, Ned straightened, but did not reply. "He'll be a fine man when he grows up, strong like his father."
Ned frowned slightly, "He'll be more like Brandon then me." He seemed to speak more to himself then his king. He turned to Robert, "What can I do for you, your grace?"
Robert eyed him, "Don't start all that formal bullshit with me, Ned." They shared a laugh. Robert sobered up, "I will be leaving soon, and there are still things I need to speak with you about."
"Of course," Ned nodded. "Should we return to my study?"
"No," Robert murmured as his gaze swept through the crypts, lingered on Lyanna. "This is a better place." He turned to his old friend, "I need you Ned. I need you with me in King's Landing, not up here where you're no damn use to me. Lord Eddard Stark, I name you hand of the king."
Ned looked conflicted, he straightened, the words he had spoken to Jon strong in his head and heart, honor and duty. He kneeled, "I am not worthy of the honor, your grace."
Robert chuckled, "I'm not trying to honor you; I'm trying to get you to run my kingdom while I eat, drink, and whore my way to an early grave." He clapped Ned on the shoulder affectionately. "Damn it, Ned, stand up. You helped me win the iron throne; now help me keep the bloody thing. We were meant to rule together, to be bound by blood together. My spoilt son, I am saddened to say refuses to marry your daughter; he is a blind boy to deny such a pretty one as her. But, it's not too late, you have a son, I have a daughter, our houses will be joined." He turned to look at the statue of Lyanna, touched her outreaching hand. "We were meant to be bound by blood, it was meant to be through Lyanna and me." He touched her face. "In my dreams I kill Rhaegar every night, and every time I wake up she's never there."
Ned's gaze hardened, "It's done your grace. The Targaryens are gone."
Robert turned to look at him, rage simmered beneath the surface. "Not all of them, a brother and a sister. I wish Rhaegar were alive, just so I could make him watch as I put a sword through his brother, raped his sister as he did yours, and put her pretty little head on a spike. I'd make him watch and then I'd kill him all over again."
Ned went rigid, his eyes darkened, his was low and full of disgust. "Tell me we are not speaking of this."
Robert rounded on him, "Oh it's unspeakable to you? What her mad father did to your family was unspeakable, what her brother did to your sister, the woman I loved is unspeakable! I will kill every Targaryen I get my hands on."
Ned stood tall, unmoved, unreadable, "Well you can't get your hands on these ones." There was a hiding in his voice one Robert did not understand, if he hadn't known Ned any better he'd consider it a threat.
"I will," Robert vowed sinisterly. "You watch me; I will drag these dragonspawn back to Westeros, parade them through the streets of King's Landing, humiliate them, destroy them, and when I'm finished I'll put by sword through them." He looked yearningly at Lyanna once more before he turned to leave. "I will make the announcement of your son and my daughter's betrothing tomorrow night in the great all."
"What of the queen?" Ned asked softly. "What are her thoughts on her daughter's betrothing?"
Robert sneered, "What does it matter? She's my daughter." Ned only nodded slowly, he knew of Cersei's fierceness, even if Robert was blind to it all. "Come on, your king is hungry."
Nightfall had come, it had been earlier that day, when Dany and Jon in her room heard the commotion outside her chamber window, Bran's wolf howled, a woman wailed. Dany had tried to get up, but Jon had forced her to lie down. He had gone to see what happened, he'd nearly fallen to his knees at the scene of horror before him he had found Lady Stark cradling a limp form in her arms, it had been Bran, her cries of grief struck him hard, Bran's lifeless form nearly shattered him altogether. Everything had happened at once, Robb had come running out, Maester Luwin had shouted orders for Bran's body to be taken to his room, Jory had left quickly to retrieve Lord Stark and the king, Sansa had been beside herself in tears and clinging to the Septa. Jon had managed to herd Arya and Rickon to him before they had a chance to see, he buried their faced into his chest despite Arya's protests and Rickon's cries for his mother.
Robb had sat in the Godswood, kneading his whetstone with hard strokes against his blade. Grey Wind whined and licked his master's gloved hand to try and comfort him. He sat before him master with a soft whimper, Robb dropped his sword, buried his hands and face into Grey Wind's mane as Bran's wolf continued to sing a heartbreaking song to the moon for his master.
Robb's cheeks were streaked with tears as they dripped down his chin. Grey Wind crooned a deep rumble in his chest meant to comfort Robb. Robb buried his face deeper into the wolf's fur. There was the south of soft footsteps, the swishes of a gown against the ground. Robb looked up quickly to see the Princess Myrcella standing in the Godswood, she was a stunning sight, hair lit golden in the moonlight, and green eyes gleamed catlike in the night despite the compassion on her face. She wore a heavy wool gown the color of wine with a gold belt at her waist.
"Princess," Robb murmured trying to remember his courtesies, he quickly wiped his tears with his sleeve as he stood and bowed.
"Please, there is no need for such formalities." Myrcella said quickly, Robb looked at her. "I did not realize someone was here, I only meant to come to pray to the old gods and the new for your brother." She came closer, a sad smile on her face just for him. She reached out gently to take his hand. "I cannot even begin to imagine what you must be going through. May we sit?" She glanced down at the roots of the weirwood.
Robb nodded, "Please, sit." Myrcella smiled kindly as they sat together, hands still joined.
"Your brother was very sweet to me," Myrcella began warmly at the thought of the young Stark, Robb smiled sadly at her.
"Bran is very kind to everyone," Robb frowned as the images of a smiling Bran seemed relentless in his mind. "Now I don't know if he'll ever wake up."
"My brother was sick once, Tommen," Myrcella spoke her voice soft as summer. "He lay ridden with a fever for days, my mother was beside herself, and my father ordered the maesters not to leave his side for a moment. I prayed for him every night, Joffrey kept saying he would die." She said bitterly. "On fifth day, I woke up to Tommen on my bed smiling at me, uncle Jaime had just given him a kitten, his own little lion he called it, he named it Ser Pounce." Myrcella squeezed his hand comfortingly. "Bran is strong, stronger than Tommen; I know he will survive this."
Robb stared hard at her, looking for any deceit, he found none, only brimming compassion in the summer princess's eyes. "Thank you, you've given me hope for my brother." He squeezed her hand in return, green and blue met. Myrcella reached out to gently swipe away a stray tear.
"Tears do not suit one as you," Myrcella said quietly, her cheeks grew red. Robb furrowed his brows.
"What do you mean?" Robb tried to smile as Myrcella's words fell away, and she flushed darkly.
"I only meant someone as gallant as you," Myrcella said quickly, all her calm composure gone for a moment. Robb stared at her and smiled, Myrcella laughed. "I'm so embarrassed."
"Don't be," Robb smiled genuinely at her. "Your words mean the world to me."
"Do you say that to all the women?" Myrcella teased him.
"Only the pretty ones," Robb smirked as Myrcella's lips softened. Robb's expression gentled at her uncertainty. "I've only ever said to one person, you."
Myrcella smiled wickedly, "Is that meant to flatter me?"
"Is it working?"
"Maybe," Myrcella whispered. "Only a little."
Robb smiled, it reached his eyes. "Good."
Myrcella felt Grey Wind nose her shoulder, she gasped softly, Robb went to call his wolf away when the princess carefully removed her glove and held out her hand to him. Grey Wind sniffed it attentively, huffed warm air onto her fingers and licked them. Myrcella giggled.
"It tickles," The crown princess said to the heir of Winterfell. "May I touch…?"
"His name is Grey Wind," Robb told her. The direwolf was ever watchful of her.
"Grey Wind, a lovely name," Myrcella beamed at him, she leaned out a hand cautiously to touch the wolf. She touched the thick fur around his neck, reveled in the softness of it. "He's so soft." She mused as her cold hand warmed once again; the wolf was like a lit hearth.
"He seems taken with you," Robb looked thoughtful as Grey Wind tilted his head into her touch when she stroked his cheek.
Myrcella smiled coyly at him, "I hope he is not the only one." Robb flushed ever so faintly.
"Maybe he's not," He gave her a charming smile.
"That pleases me more," Myrcella beamed at him, it was like a ray of sunshine on a gloomy morning.
"Myrcella," A voice shouted, she winced; it was Joffrey. The golden prince stormed into the Godswood, sneering at them. "What are you doing out here? Mother made me go looking for you. You know I hate being forced to do such trivial things."
"My apologies brother," Myrcella said coolly, emerald eyes dark and brittle. "I did not realize you worried so over my safety."
"If it were only that," Joffrey smirked arrogantly. "I just cannot stand mother's constant nagging of me to come fetch you back. It seems like you have a stray dog following you around." He glared at Robb.
"Stray dog?" Robb humored as he stood taller than the prince and levelled him with a look. "Is that what scared you witless when you beat a helpless girl?"
Joffrey bristled, "How dare you speak like that to your prince!"
"Joffrey, stop it!" Myrcella hissed at him.
"I think you are forgetting, you are in the north, not the south. Northerners are different than your southern houses; they know true loyalty to their warden." Robb spoke ruthlessly.
"When I become king I will make sure to stamp out any disloyalty to the crown," He said scornfully, eyes wide and angry, always angry. "Maybe I'll start with the north!" He grabbed Myrcella by the wrist, his grasp unforgiving as it tightened around her delicate skin. "Come, we're leaving!"
"Joffrey, you're hurting me!" Myrcella gasped in pain as she tried to wretch herself free, but Joffrey held strongly. Grey Wind snarled as Joffrey immediately released her as Myrcella crumpled to the ground.
"I suggest you leave while you still can, prince." Robb said with a firm, black scowl on his lips.
"You'll regret this!" Joffrey was furious as he glared from Robb to his wolf. "Northern barbarians!" He ground out, he threw a disgusted look at his sister for siding with Stark, and he turned and stormed away.
Robb was immediately at her side, "Are you alright?" His expression was gentle.
"I'm fine," Myrcella smiled as she rubbed her sore wrist. "I'm not made out of porcelain."
Robb smiled amusedly, "You look as if you are."
Myrcella glared playfully at him, held her head up proudly. "I'll have you know I can look after myself just fine."
"I never thought otherwise," Robb reassured her.
Myrcella softened, and smiled shyly, "Thank you, but I'm afraid you've made an enemy."
"Your brother," Robb scoffed, he glared after the entrance of the Godswood. "He became my enemy far before this. What he did is unforgivable."
Myrcella smiled kindly and rubbed her shoulders to warm them. "I'm afraid I'm not made for the north. I should be returning inside."
"Allow me to escort you," Robb offered her his arm; she took it with a sweet, summer smile.
"I would be delighted," Myrcella's voice was tuneful to his ears.
Once they had reached Winterfell's great hall, they could hear voices, everyone had gathered supper despite everything that had happened. Robb swallowed hard, everything was again fresh in his mind. Dany, Jon, Bran, everyone he loved and cared for.
"I'm afraid I must leave you here," Robb said politely, but his voice was strained with emotions he tried to keep locked away. "Thank you for helping me to forget, even for a few moments. Bran…"
Myrcella placed her fingers gently to his lips, and looked at him with pity. She didn't force him to speak about it, he was thankful for it. He was close to tearing at the seams altogether, if he uttered a word he was afraid he'd break completely. "Of course you must go, thank you for the escort." She stepped forward, leaned up to press a kiss to the corner of his lips. "My prayers go with you and your family."
"Thank you, princess." Robb murmured awkwardly, he offered her a small, sad smile as he disappeared into the dark halls of the castle.
Robb had visited his mother, she had had her meal in Bran's room, but it remained untouched. She held her little boy's hand, shedding tears upon tears with Maester Luwin trying his best to calm her. Bran was safe, out of harm's way. His father had been in and out of the room constantly checking on him. After the maester promised to tell him if anything changed, Robb, with a heavy heart kiss his brother and left the room.
Robb found Jon in Dany's room, she was awake, sitting up in bed, and she was tense and stiff, favoring her side. He could see the bruises that had climbed up along her shoulders from her rib, black and purple against milky skin.
"Robb," Dany said warmly, her eyes shone with welcome, but they were red and puffy, she knew, she'd cried.
"Dany, are you alright?" Robb began worriedly, but she dismissed him immediately when he neared. Despite her pain, Dany pulled him into a tight embrace; he buried his face into her neck and held her as tightly as he could without hurting her.
"Are you alright?" Dany whispered to him.
"I don't know," Robb whispered back, she felt his tears wet her skin. Slowly they drew apart; Dany carefully moved and patted a spot beside her as an invitation for Robb to sit. Robb sat down, looked Jon. "Have you been to see him?" Dany's eyes quickly flickered worriedly to Jon, Robb saw. He looked confused, then concerned. "You haven't? Why haven't you gone?"
Jon stiffened, his hands clenched. His voice rose, cold, hard, melancholy. "It wasn't by choice." Robb looked at him furiously for an answer. Jon's shoulder trembled; he glared into the fire in the hearth. His voice tapered icily, "Your mother wouldn't let me."
Robb froze his gaze was apologetic. "She's grieving; she didn't mean it, Jon." He tried to soften the blow.
"I'm sure she didn't, just like every other time." Jon murmured angrily. "She's always made her feelings known; I've grown used to it."
"You shouldn't have to be used to it," Robb shook his head; he was frustrated at his mother, saddened for Jon, worried for Bran.
Dany took a hand from both of them, squeezed it softly. Outside in the Godswood, they could hear them all, the direwolves singing together. "We need to stay together." She reminded them tearfully. "Bran wouldn't just fall; you told me yourself, he was always sure footed. He'd climb that tower a hundred times."
"He should have listened to mother, he shouldn't have been up there climbing." Robb hissed out, tears brimmed in his eyes again as he kept visioning his brother's broken body in their mother's arms as she screamed and wailed. Dany squeezed his hand.
"Dany's right, he couldn't have just fallen." Jon said somberly, furiously wiping at his eyes with his free hand, the other held tightly to Dany's, he feared unraveling altogether if he let go.
"We'll find out for sure when he awakens," Robb said seriously, exhaustion present on all their faces, but so was caution. "No one can hear of us speaking like this."
"Do you need to return to the great hall?" Dany asked softy.
Robb glared outside into the moon, Jon's anger was fierce. He heard the wolves howling again, it was a dark and mournful cry. He snarled, "Fuck the king, fuck the prince, fuck the lot of them."
The three of them sat in silence, in quiet agreement, listened to the wolves singing for Bran. Dany's eyes glanced to the three dragon eggs resting in the hearth white, black, and gold. Her enemies, their enemies, one day she would seek retribution for all they had taken from her.
She'd repay their treachery with fire and blood.
End of Chapter!
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