Gwen said nothing for the remainder to the journey back to Kings Landing, choosing to keep her thoughts to herself. She thought it would be for the best. That way she could take time to think about what was to happen. She was unsure, if she had to be honest. She did not know what would happen if she told Lady Stark of Jaime and Cersei.
Catelyn had said nothing to her. She had not told her what business she had with Lord Stark and Gwen could not blame her. She was not part of the Lady's trusted advisers. She had no right to know what Lady Stark wanted in Kings Landing. The only things she knew was that she feared going back there. But Lady Stark had deemed it necessary. She knew that the girl was safer in a city where people wanted her but no one knew her in comparison to on the open road where anyone could have her.
"Tell me," Lady Stark spoke softly, "how are my girls? Was the journey to Kings Landing well?"
"Your girls are safe as far as I know," she promised Catelyn. "The journey on the other hand was not peaceful. There was an issue which ended up with Lady Sansa's direworlf being destroyed."
Lady Starks' eyes blinked profusely as she watched the girl riding next to her. Gwen looked into her kind stare and sighed at the memory, her head shaking back and forth.
"Lady Arya was playing with the butcher's body, Micah, I believe he was called. Prince Joffrey and Lady Sansa stumbled amongst the sight. The Prince began to attack Micah, apparently, and Lady Arya fought him off. He advanced towards her but her wolf stopped him. Nymeria bit him."
"You said apparently," Lady Stark interrupted and Gwen nodded in confirmation.
"Prince Joffrey went back to the Queen. He told her how Lady Arya attacked him and how he was defenceless. Lady Sansa was asked to back up his story. She had no choice but to do that. She is betrothed to the Prince. Lady Arya protested her side of the story which I believe to be the correct one. It mattered not. The Queen wanted her wolf put down but Nymeria had gone missing. She used Lady as a substitute. Lady Sansa was distraught and Lady Arya feared the worst."
"I can imagine them bickering now," Lady Catelyn said. "I hope you told them that they have to stay with each other? They have to be strong."
"I did," Gwen assured her. "I spent the rest of the journey drilling that into them."
"Good," Lady Catelyn said. "How I wish I could see them again...hold them once more...I wish they were little girls again."
Gwen smiled and nodded in agreement with the Lady Stark and Catelyn regarded her once more. Rodrik had ridden into the distance, giving the two women time to talk to each other. Gwen held tightly onto the reins of her horse, the sun beating down on her skin and warming her body.
"How exactly did you end up here, Gwen?" Lady Stark asked her in a tight voice. Gwen looked to her, her eyes wide and innocent. "Getting rid of you for incompetence is something yet you spoke out against her. You must have said some horrific things, Gwen."
"My Lady," Gwen whispered. "I was angry with the Queen. I had been late one morning at the Crossroads to prepare the girls. The Queen had already gone to their rooms and she saw they were not ready. She...I think she had already taken a disliking to me already," Gwen said. "I had been sent the protection of Ser Jaime and he spent too much time with her. She...well...I think she had become jealous me...thinking that I had feelings for her brother...she warned me away and ever since then she disliked me. The incident at the Inn was something which drew the final straw. I became worried about leaving the girls...especially after what happened at the Inn...I feared what would happen if I left them and I lashed out at the Queen. I know it was silly. I know it meant my death and I wish I had never said anything."
Gwen knew that she should have said something. She knew that she should tell her of Jaime and Cersei's relationship. But she feared what would happen if she did tell her.
Lady Catelyn would tell her husband when she found him and he would find the King who may not believe him. Why should he? The only word came from that of a maid. Gwen was foolish enough the previous night. She was foolish for even threatening to tell anyone of the secret. No one would believe her. And if they did then Gwen knew there was a chance of the girls being harmed.
She found herself in a situation which scared her.
The Queen had easily sentenced Gwen to death. She could easily harm the girls. Gwen didn't know what to do for the best. But she knew that she should not go back to Kings Landing.
"The Queen may have acted dishonourably, Gwen," Catelyn told the maid. "But you should have known better than to question her."
Gwen closed her eyes for a moment and winced, knowing that she should not have said anything. She continued to allow her horse to ride forwards and when she opened her eyes she silently groaned at seeing how close the walls were again.
"I know," Gwen whispered.
She said nothing as they approached closer once again and Gwen turned to look at Lady Stark.
"I cannot go in there," she whispered. "I cannot risk being seen."
"I assure you that nothing shall happen, my dear," Catelyn told her. "It is as you said; no one recognises you apart from the Queen and Ser Jaime...perhaps a few guards...but none of them shall be where I shall be. I intend to go and hide and send Rodrik to bring Ned to me."
"But if anyone even notices me then what do you think will happen to you, my Lady?" Gwen enquired from her and Catelyn remained silent for a few moments. Gwen shook her head as Lady Stark bit down on her bottom lip.
"Nothing shall happen to me," she assured her and Gwen smiled sadly.
"How long do you think you shall be there, my Lady? I can wait for you outside the walls. I do not want to risk your life. It is not worth it, is it?"
"I do not intend to be long," Catelyn replied in a small voice. "If I can help it...perhaps you should wait...it may be safer for you, Gwen."
Gwen nodded as the wall came into view and she looked around at the surrounding forest, well aware of how the King enjoyed his hunts within them. Gwen continued moving forwards before she knew she had to turn back and lurk within the tress of the beaten track. It would do her well to hide there and out of the way. Gwen slid down her horse, landing on her feet and feeling slightly uneasy after hours of sitting on a saddle.
"Do not wander far, Gwen," Catelyn warned her as she pulled at the reins and her horse instantly sped up again. Gwen remained silent but nodded at the Lady Stark and drew her horse off the main road. She walked down the hills towards the green area, keeping her horse by her side as she went. Gwen remained silent and rested on the grass by a tree. Her back hit the trunk and her legs extended in front of her.
She could hear the faint calls from Kings Landing, the wind carrying their voices and entering her ears. She remained quiet, her eyes closing for a moment as she waited patiently. She did not make a move but she made sure not to fall asleep, her ears listening out for any sound of anyone approaching.
Hours seemed to pass and there still had been no sign of Lady Stark returning with the news of what had happened in the capital. Gwen admitted that she was tired and fed up of simply waiting. She took the reins of her horse and led her back to the main road, the sun still shining down on her as she left.
She pushed herself up the hill, her horse seeming to find it no bother. She did not have the chance to move far for she saw the visible cloaks of the Kingsguard ride past her. The King rode off in front, clearly having spent his time hunting in the woods. Gwen instantly released her horse and rushed back down the hill, leaving for the trees as a few members of the guard stood and noted the horse.
She heard the King vaguely yell at them to take the creature back to the stables and not bother with it for he had women waiting for him in his bed. She heard his yells before taking refuge behind a tree, hiding her body yet allowing her head to peak out, watching as two members of the white guard walked down the hill and took hold of her horse. Gwen cursed herself, her gaze glancing over to the knight who lurked behind.
He pulled his helmet over his head and looked around, knowing that something was not quite right. He had been riding behind the congregation, the noblemen in front on their horses and laughing at whatever vulgar thing the King was saying to them. He'd had quite enough for the day yet he had been told the hunt was to resume the following day. The tourney had been bad enough. It had been held in the honour of the honourable Ned Stark.
He had noted the blonde head rushing into the trees as he loitered at the back of the congregation. He had kept his distance which gave him a better sight. He'd growled from underneath his helmet, seeing her so close to Kings Landing after days drew him to the brink of anger. He thought she had common sense not to stay in the woods around the capital.
Jaime moved his horse in the other direction, allowing him to trot down the hill. He looked at the other two members of the guards as they took the horse away, not bothering to question Jaime as to where he was going. He allowed his horse to slow down after a few moments, climbing off of it.
He told his his horse to stay where it was before walking along the grass and into the first set of trees. His eyes glanced to the canopies of the trees, the sun still shining through them and Jaime turned around on the spot, one of his hands resting on his sheathed sword.
"I know you're in here." He spoke loudly, waiting for the sound of footsteps. "I saw those blonde curls rush into the trees. Tell me, have you been hiding in here for the four days you have been free? I did think you were cleverer than this."
Jaime continued to listen intently, his brow arched as he moved in and out of the trees, weaving around them and waiting for her to present herself.
"I will find you, Gwen," he spoke. "You know that, don't you?"
Gwen heard his words and she gulped, her hands resting flat on the trunk of the tree behind her and she gulped once, closing her eyes as she called back to him.
"And what do you intend to do once you find me?" she asked and Jaime smirked, walking in the direction of her voice.
"That depends," Jaime admitted. "Do you intend to show yourself willingly?"
Gwen chuckled at hearing him, the sound full of disbelief and Jaime stood on the other side of the tree she hid behind, well aware that he could strike at any moment. She could never outrun him and she could never outfight him. It really would be useless.
"I doubt it," Gwen replied in a smaller voice.
"You should know that you cannot run," Jaime replied and Gwen realised that he was right behind her, his voice too close for comfort. She didn't move, remaining where she was as Jaime continued to speak. "You've had four days to run but you have done nothing with your time. You've spent it in the midst of trees and grass. Not wise of you."
"Who said I was wise?" Gwen wondered. She refused to tell him of Lady Stark being in Kings Landing. It was clear that she did not want to be recognised in the capital and Gwen was not going to give away her position.
"No one," Jaime admitted. "Although it is foolish of you to be here. The Queen wants you gone. She was very angry that you had escaped."
"Well...I did not intend to sit in the cell and wait for death. I had to escape," Gwen said and Jaime cocked his head to the side.
"And you escaped by yourself, did you?" he asked her and silence fell on the woods for a few moments. "I take that as a no."
"I did," Gwen challenged and Jaime chuckled at hearing her. He shook his head and slowly moved around the tree, his steps crunching on the grass beneath him. He finally saw her and she turned around, stepping back from her hiding spot and Jaime watched her.
"I saw you that night," he told her. "I saw you rushing out from the dungeon with Lord Stark's most trusted man. He was there that night...dragging you away..."
"You saw me?" Gwen wondered and Jaime pressed his lips into a firm line. "You did nothing when you saw me...did you hurt Jory? Did you do anything to him?" Gwen snapped out and Jaime shook his head.
"I said nothing," he assured her and shock came clearer over her features. "I did nothing and I said nothing. I take it that you're shocked? You can close your mouth, Gwen; you don't want to catch flies, do you?"
She shut her mouth, not realising that it was open. She took to simply staring at him, wondering what he had done.
"Why were you near the dungeon?" Gwen decided to ask.
"I have a right to roam the castle. It is my duty to protect it and the King, unless you have forgotten?" Jaime asked her. "Gods that would make things easier. I wish you could just forget things."
"As do I," Gwen admitted and Jaime watched her, the smug look dropping from his face as he watched Gwen study the branches of trees above her.
"Why are you still here, Gwen?" he wondered and she shrugged, not truly knowing what to tell him. "Are you too scared to go back to Winterfell alone, is that it? Honestly, after escaping I thought that it would be no problem for you to run out of this place and never look back."
"I got lost," Gwen lied and Jaime chuckled at her. She continued on with her lie, hoping he wouldn't question her. "I sat on the horse and entered these woods and ended up going around in circles. Crazy, isn't it?"
"You should stick to the main road," Jaime scolded her.
"Why do you care?" she wondered. "You did nothing when your sister was sentencing me to death so why care now that I am lost?"
"In case you're forgetting it is actually me who helped you escaped."
"What?" Gwen snapped at him. "You did nothing to help me."
"I did not stop you from escaping. I let you go, Gwen. You should be thanking me."
"I doubt I shall ever thank you," Gwen responded.
"You can be so ungrateful, Gwen."
"And you can be so annoying."
"What a terrible insult," Jaime said, his voice low and mocking hurt whilst Gwen rolled her eyes. "And now you are here again. It seems you just cannot stay away."
"And what do you intend to do?" Gwen asked him. "You could kill me now. I'm wanted and your sister wants me dead. An empty forest is the best place to commit the act."
"It is," he agreed with her, drawing his sword and watching Gwen as she winced, instantly stepping back from him. Jaime studied the sword in his hands and tossed it from hand to hand. "You pose a good point. Foolish, really. You shouldn't give me ideas which aren't beneficial to you. It is silly."
"You rely on me for ideas?" Gwen checked. "That can never be good."
"Believe me when I say that I rely on you for nothing." Jaime assured her. "It is I who can be beneficial to you."
"Can you really?" Gwen wondered. "I assumed that you would have the intent of taking me back to the capital."
"I have no intent on doing that," Jaime told her and shock once again became apparent on her.
"Gwen, honestly," Jaime sighed, "you could have a meal of flies if you keep allowing your mouth to fall open."
She slammed her mouth shut once again and glared at him.
"Why will you not take me back?" Gwen wondered. "You know that I could talk. You know that I could ruin your life."
"You could," Jaime told her. "But you won't."
"How do you know?" Gwen wondered and he moved closer to her and she stood her ground, her chin jutting out in defiance.
"My sister now knows that you are the only one who holds our secret. If you were to say anything at all then she would make sure you suffered through the girls. She would do that and you know she would. I have threatened you with that promise once before." He told her and Gwen shrugged her shoulders, turning her head from his gaze. She closed her eyes and Jaime moved closer to her once again. His gloved hand instantly reached for her chin, grasping it and turning her gaze back to him.
She opened her blue orbs and found his green ones, searching them for a moment as she felt her mouth dry up and her throat tighten.
"That is why I will not tell anyone," she whispered in a drawl and Jaime looked at her, not sure whether or not she was telling him the truth. "I could have told. I threatened to and I had been angry at the time...so angry with her and I realised it was stupid to have spoken to her as I did."
"I won't dispute that," Jaime told her. She glared at him for another second before speaking again.
"But I knew that as soon as she heard us that she would want me dead. I thought I had nothing to lose."
"And now you do?" Jaime wondered.
"I could go back and I could tell Lady Stark all about you. I could tell her everything that I know and she could go and tell Lord Stark. But...what is it worth? Even if I was believed then your sister would make sure I suffered. She has Arya and Sansa in her grip and she will do anything to hurt those who hurt her. Even Lord Stark cannot protect them against her. She is the Queen. She is the ultimate power." Gwen explained to Jaime and he studied her, wondering what her intent was as he moved his hand from her chin and ran it down her cheek. "You would only deny the affair and I am only a maid. I'd be classed as a liar. What evidence do I have, really?"
Jaime's stare never eased once as he watched her.
"You have said all of these things before," he reminded her. "And then your temper gets the best of you and you begin to threaten me."
"I have had four days to think it through, Ser Jaime," Gwen whispered to him. "I admit that I have a temper. It seems to have increased ever since your sister dismissed me. But it is like we said; life is unfair. There is nothing I can do about it which will keep those girls safe."
"Do I have your word?"
"I thought my word meant nothing to you?" Gwen checked with him and he rolled his eyes.
"Must you always live in the past? It is most unbecoming, Gwendolyn."
Gwen blinked profusely at him, her brow arched.
"How...no one calls me that," she said and Jaime watched her.
"Lord Stark did the other day after your escape. I think he said it more in exasperation. I admit it is a mouthful and not quite as pretty as Gwen but it does have a certain ring to it. Why does no one call you by your real full name?"
"It is not a name which I like to hear. It is a story which I would prefer to keep quiet."
"Perhaps we can talk another day about it...that is if there is another day..." Jaime contemplated. "If you had sense then you would run. You would run and stay away from here."
"I will," Gwen assured him. "I will keep myself on the path and not look back."
"It will take you ages to return back to Winterfell. You have no horse. You made sure to that when you decided to interrupt the Kings hunt."
"Where is my horse?" Gwen wondered and Jaime rolled his eyes.
"It has gone back to the capital. We were hardly going to leave a horse wandering in the landscape. My horse should be outside the woods...take that one and go..."
Gwen regarded Jaime with hesitance, her voice quiet and wavering as she spoke to him once again.
"Why are you helping me? Why do you want to help me?"
"Because...well...perhaps I do have a heart after all?" Jaime asked, the cockiness back in his tone whilst he spoke to her. "Go back to Winterfell, Gwen. Go back and live a normal life like you used to."
"But why give me your horse?" Gwen wondered. "Why are you doing this? You were going to see me killed only a few days ago."
"I was going to the dungeon to free you, Gwen," Jaime admitted to her. It wasn't entirely true. He had doubted whether or not he should free her or if he should just leave her be in the cell.
"All you ask is why," Jaime complained to her. "Just go, Gwen. Stop wasting time and asking me questions. Take my horse...a Lannister always pays his debts."
"I did not know you were indebted to me," Gwen spoke.
"I am if you keep my secret for me." Jaime said. "Besides...you need a horse or you'd die before getting to Winterfell and the Starks are in need of their good looking maid."
Gwen nodded at him, not rejecting his offer and she wondered if Lady Catelyn had left without her. She kept quiet as Jaime rolled his eyes and began to walk away from the woods.
"Come on," he told her. "I don't have all day. The King likes me to listen to him whilst he's with his whores."
Gwen scurried after him, holding her skirts up and managing not to trip over them as Jaime finally showed her his horse which sat waiting for her. She looked up to the creature, smiling at it and running her hand down its neck. Jaime watched her before looking to the wall to the Kings Landing.
"Go now," he urged her. "I do not want the King wondering where I have gotten to."
"But you return with no horse," she told him, hoisting herself onto the saddle and he shrugged nonchalantly.
"I doubt anyone will notice. Go before I change my mind and have you dragged back in there and left in the mercy of my sister."
"Fine," Gwen said; a small smile on her face and she tucked her hair behind her ears, looking at him and forcing herself to nod at him. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me yet," Jaime snorted. "You haven't gone and I've helped a traitor...Gods what have I done? I never thought this day would come..."
"Well, you can think on it later," Gwen assured him and she allowed the horse to begin to walk forwards. Jaime lurked behind, heading in the other direction to her, calling out to her as she moved away from him.
"I hope our paths never cross again." He told her and she tossed her head around, her hair falling down her back as she smirked at him.
"I hope so too," she assured him and he chuckled before making his way back in the walls, trying to forget about the fact he had just given away his horse for a traitorous girl.
A/N: Thanks to anyone reading and do let me know what you think!