Jon, Robb and Theon rode through the woods on the hunt, the ice cold setting into their bones. The snow crunching under the horses feet, the breath white from the winter.
"I mean... I really don't understand why we are out here. It is so damn cold and freezing... Why!" Theon moaned as he pulled his woollen cloak tighter around his neck.
"Would you prefer being stuck back at Winterfell?" Robb called out, rolling his eyes from over his shoulder and getting tired of Theon moaning.
"That place is far too boring and Ross is wearing as touch too thin for my liking..."
Jon was ignoring their typical bickering and rampage noting the wolves were off and not in their sight. The forrest was silent, eery and he couldn't but help that something was wrong.
"Something is wrong... The forest is silent" he told the others. "Ghost and Grey Wolf have gone off... They have found something"
The three got up off their horses and silently walked up over the hill and it was there that their breath caught in their throat. All over the small paddock were bodies strewn across in haphazard positions and heads on spikes.
"The gods..." Jon whispered.
The stench of rotting flesh, faeces and god knows else wofted and filled their nostrils. They covered their faces, trying not to dry reach.
"Search the party for survivors..." Robb commanded from under the the cloak looking around.
"You kidding me right... Bodies are strewn across the fields in bits and pieces. Blood is strewn aross the field...There aren't going to be no survivors..." looking about and in shock of it all. There were heads strewn from their bodies. Some women, some children.
"I don't care... We will still look" Robb told him as he un shiefed his sword and went forth.
Jon covered his mouth as the foul stench of blood filled his nostrils and the feeling of death filled his soul. Arms were strewn aross but that wasn't what caught his eye. It was the giant tall and muscled black stallion that stood with the two wolves. They were cowering and whining over something. Jon shooed the dogs away and saw a young woman covered in blood. Standing over her was a large black horse that stoof not less than 17hh. Her hip dis jointed and out of place. A gash across her forehead but there was a gaping hole in her chest and by some miracle she was still breathing. Reality set in and he ran down to the young woman. He tore off a piece off his clothing and put it into her chest. She opened her eyes. One light blue and one light green and it was then Jon knew who she was... It had been so many years but those eyes were not mistakable...
'Robb! Come quick! It will be all okay" taking off his furred lined coat and putting it over her cold and battered body.
Robb went running down the hill, the snow slippery and making it hard for him to go fast but he froze when he did reach Jon. It may have been years since had last set eyes on her but there was no mistaking it.
"We need to get her back to Winterfell... It is Sophie... She was stabbed in the chest... So many cuts and bruises... Her hip is out of its joint..."
Robb clenched his jaw tight and he gently wrapped around his cloak around her frail and broken body... All he saw was red at those who harmed her. Sophie was the rim edge of the coin that kept the two boys together. Robb could feel the tears form in his eyes at the broken and battered form of his childhood best friend. Sniffing he smiled as she opened her eyes and gave him a small smile as flicks of snow fell down onto her face.
"Always getting yourself into trouble Sophie aren't you..." Robb whispered closing his eyes and kissing her forehead.
Robb carefully picked her up off the ground, her screams echoing through the air. His heart broke into peices as he trudged through the snow, red eyed and stoned face with Jon by his side.
"I am so sorry Sophie. Swear to the gods who ever did this will suffer pain and death when we come across them" Jon said hoarsely as he wrapped his scarf around her beck to keep her from getting cold.
Jon got up on his horse. "I will carry her back to Winterfell..." His eyes not leaving hers.
"Be careful..." Robb told him with a pleading look pulling the scarf over her head and brushes away the snow flakes from her cheeks.
Robb carefully lifted Sophie, she moaned in pain and settled into Jon's arms. Robb looked at his own hands, saw the blood and veracity of it all setting in. Jon put his arms to keep her warm and safe.
"I have missed you Jon Snow..." she muffled, taking in the smell of Jon Snow. Was she really home? Dreaming so long, it seemed to good to be true.
"Save your power tiny one..." Jon smiled small.
Robb looked on and saw it then and there what Jon and Sophie had together. He looked back as he mounted, praying she would survive this. She had to, for all of them.
"Sophie is the most stubborn person I know Rob.. She will get through this..." Theon advised him, patting him on the shoulder.
Robb and Theon galloped ahead to let the castle of Winterfell what was coming. Eddard Stark was in shock as he found that his god daughter was finally back in Winterfell. The castle was buzzed as Maester Luwin got ready his surgery room and Eddard helping him.
Jon pulled Sophie together to his chest to protect her from the cold winter wind that blew through them. Finally they came through the gates of winterfell with the precious cargo. People stood aside of them both. Mothers hugging their children with tears falling down their cheeks. Sophie was the people's princess, they loved her and it left them wrecked. Eddard stood at the helm of the crowd and his spirit in his throat. The wind whistled softly through the court yard of Winterfell. Snow fell down softly. A father never want to see a child upon death before them selves. Catelyn stood by her husband with red rimmed eyes, looking up to see the young children clutching each other. Sophie Winter was finally back in Winterfell. They all prayed...
"Oh the poor poor angel... Her hip is out of its joint, ribs are broken, bruises and cuts everywhere. Jon... someone really wanted this child dead but not without wanting her suffer. I need you to hold her steady, have her bite on this. Robb I need your strength here. On three I need you push her joint back. I know it is hard for you boys to see Sophie like this... But this girl needs our help or I fear our princess Sophie will succumb to her injuries and not wake from the slumber if we do not help her right here and right now... Be brave, she needs us"
Ned Stark opened the door to the medic room, his heart in his mouth seeing her like that. Robb put his hands out in front of him, his breaths short and fast. It was sticking to his hands, under his nails and staining his skin. He looked up to his father, holding it Luwin put a bandag in hot water and put it to her chest. Sophie gasped in pain, her breaths came short and she looked around pancing as the blood flowed. For a moment fear took over him, seeing her like that but then he stood tall and sure.
"It will be all over soon Sophie...Before you know it we will be al back on that stunning black horse..." Ned whispered soothing her forehead and gave her a kiss. "And I promise you it will be the brightest day in Winterfell when you are all better my darling god daughter. The fire in winter"
"Yeah before you know it you will back racing with us through the woods and to our spot by the river..." Jon joked half choking on fear as he held her shoulders.
"Now..." he urged Maester
Sophie felt the sensation of pain run through her leg and sreamed in pain. An artery was cut and it squirted into Robb's face. She looked all around, panicing and the tears ran down, mixing with the dried blood.
"She has to calm down to slow her blood circulation..."
"Look at me Sophie... You have to calm down okay sweet heart. You are strong and have so much more do to with your life. We all love you deeply. You have so much more to do in life. Find your one true love. Marry. Have gorgeous children. Give us that smile and do not give up. I know it is tough but you can do it. Please" Jon pleaded wiping her tears away. "Why doesn't she pass out from the pain? Why is she still awake?" he asked his father. "I don't like seeing her like this..."
"Neither do I" Robb answered him.
"Since when have we known for Sophie not to be stubborn" he joked lightly as he put a bandage in her leg and held the bleeding.
Jon removed the cloth between her mouth and gave her some water.
"I wish you would just pass out" Robb joked.
Sophie playfully smiled, squeezing his hand and muttering aimlessly.
"Save your strength little one... I know it hurts but it will all be over soon" Jon playfully scolded her.
Master Luwin stopped the bleeding and Eddard looked her over.
"You are a obstinate aren't you little one... Just like your god father" he joked looking at the bleeding on her leg.
"Master Luwin that wound in her leg is going to need stitched up and it is going to be a painful affair ..." he noted rubbing his hand over his face. "Boys... you can leave if you would like..."
"I am not leaving her..."
"You three still in separable as ever" he joked.
Robb and Jon were in the wash room scrubbing away the blood on their hands. The water ran crimson red with the blood of their best friend. Both not knowing what to say at the time. Nobody ask this to happen to them, both men loved this young girl beyond the gods and back. It just turns out this way sometimes. The men, both would be forever haunted from the day.
"I swear to the gods I will forever want to hunt down the people that did this to her..."
'I join that oath with you as well brother... But what I just then will forever give me nightmares"
"Don't think I will ever get the blood off my hands" Robb muttered as he scrubbed into his nails with a wooden brush. "No matter hard I scrub the blood will always be there..."
Eddard felt awful as he walked out of the medic room covered in blood, he looked up at his two sons and his heart fell for them.
"How is she father?" Robb asked hopefully.
"Sophie is stable... She needs to rest. But it will be sometime before she fully recovers. If at all mentally."
Robb and Jon walked into her chambers, the same one she used when she would stay at Winterfell. It was her favourite colours of purple and green. But looking so pale and small in a huge bed underneath the furs.
"I cant believe we actually have her back... I never thought I would see her again"
Ghost and Grey Wind whining, carefully and slowly they walked into the room. They would stop every two or so steps not wanting to wake her and then hopped up on to the foot of her bed, laying down and staring at her.
"I knew the wolves would like her..." Jon muttered. "She always did have a thing with animals..."
Jon pulled the two mahogany rocking chairs and pulled them beside her as a vigil. Sophie is one of his closest and most personal friends. She was always there for him and never treated him any different.
"Thought just as much you would want to stay... I am for sure I am not leaving her side until i see those eyes..." Jon whispered his hands held in a prayer as the candles flickered shadows across the walls.
Robb brushed back her hair that stuck to her face, once being sun kissed from the sun despite being a child of the north, once fresh but now it was a pale colour, sticky from a fever and her lips a slight tinge of blue.
"I cant believe we have her here" Jon whispered leaning back rocking himself. "She was always there for me..."
"I was always jealous what you two had... It was like you had your own secret code or something... I would be at those stupid feasts, Sophie would sneak away and I always knew where she was going"
Jon laughed, his eyes crinkling and remembering it all. A tear of joy fell down his face.
"Sophie would always somehow sneak up the most amaing food from the kitchens... I never knew how she could get half the gourmet food she did"
"Sophie always could get anything out of anybody when she would put her mind to it... Remember how much she hated Theon though... Those two always butt heads. But Sophie was the only one that could tame Greyjoy"
"Well he isn't allowed anywhere near her now... Sophie was always beautiful but now..."
"Nothing can describe it..." Robb answered his eyes softening and his normal stone set jaw opened up into a smile.
It had been a few weeks since that they had found Sophie. Robb and Jon had hardly left her side the whole time. The fire was always kept warm and roaring, never leaving her cold for a single second. But Ned Stark had told them they needed to get out of the castle so they could breath. It would be what Sophie would want them to do.
Robb and Jon had come back from a hunt with a plump dear at tow but it was the sight before them that made them smile ear from ear. It was Sophie being walked by Hodor with Bran, Arya and Rickon by her side. She was smiling and laughing as the children and wolves played around her. She had the warmest of cloaks on and a thick white fur around her neck. Robb looked on as she whispered to Hodor who look very worred about her and a glare at the young men. "It is alright Hodor, I will be fine... I can walk, the boys will look after me"
Sophie bit on her lip and eased her self away from Hodor slowly walking to Robb and Jon. Jon walked forward first and faster and englufled her in a hug.
"By god Sophie... I thought I would never lay my eyes on you again" Jon whispered then carefully pulling away from her and taking in her beauty. "Dont you scare me like that again okay!"
"I promise Jon..." she whispered.
"Now now Jon, don't keep the most gorgeous girl in all of Winterfell all to yourself...'
Jon kept his arm around her waist to support her standing.
"Clearly you haven't changed much Greyjoy... You still think every woman is falling over you hand and foot..."
Theon walked forward and gave her a half hug. "Finally someone is around to rival my humour and wit..."
"Oh there is no rival... I know I am better than you Kraken..."
"We will find the bastards that did this to you and they will pay..." he told her but then stepped aside for Robb to step in but Robb couldn't.
His eye brows were furrowed together, looking to the ground and then to her. Robb was a brave man who could win any fight and envoke fear into any man. But seeing Sophie at her death bed covered in blood, battered broken and bruised... He couldn't do it and walked away.
"Robb..." she whispered.
Jon gave her a small hug and a kiss to the temple.
"He always blamed himself for you being taken away... Dont blame yourself"
Robb was in the northern most tower that over looked the entirety of Winterfell and it was one of their favourite secret spots. He took a large breath, his shoulders slumped, tears falling down and the guilt filling him. The full moon was shining brightly and sending a glow across the lands. He smiled fondly remembering the nights where they would sneak the wine from the cellars as children and come here.
"Robb..." A voice whispered hoarsely from the shadows.
He turned to see her, as beautiful and regal looking as ever. Sophie wore a beautiful purple green warm dress and a scarf tucked in her neck, a grey cloak and the warmest of white furs arund her neck. She had a gorgeous smile, her high cheeks bones more prominent but it was still there. Her smile cut through the sadness as she finally found Robb.
"You are a little traitor" he joked towards the wolf.
Grey Wind rubbed his head up against Sophie's leg.
"I always find you Robb Stark" she teased. "You should have known that..."
Robb stood there in silence with tears brimming his eyes. One of his oldest and best friends stood before hi but he knew upon or death he would see her again.. She sighed with sadness, going to him, putting her hands tenderly to his cheeks and wiping away the fallen tears with her thumbs. Robb let out a breath he had been holding the whole time Sophie was away. He tilted his head taking in her. "You still smell of Jasmine flower...: he muttered.
"Please do not blame yourself for what happened... I am here aren't. Yes I am a bit broken and bruised but I am here. I am hurt, not dead..."
"No, no you are not" laughing sadly, closing his eyes and taking all of her in. "I am so sorry Sophie..." he whispered with pain and sorrow opening his eyes.
"From the bottom of my very being of my soul Robb Stark there is nothing you have to be apologetic about. I am here now... Before you know the castle is going to be echoing with your curses towards me..."
"We will find them Sophie... Who ever did this. I promse you they will pay with their life"
"And there I have all of the Stark househould at my guard" she laughed. Her cheeks like small apples, her eyes sparkling.
Sophie then slapped Rob around the shoulder, frustrated at him.
"Ow... what was that for?" he rubbed his should faking he was hurt.
"For you being a stubborn git and from hiding form me. You had me scared"
The sound of a storm rumbleb in the distance and a chill began to settle in the air. Sophie smiled, closing her eyes and taking in the smell of the storm.
"You always like storms. Now let's get you back to your chambers before you catch a fever. You are still on the mend you know"
Robb was his old self making sure he was a knight in shining armour for Sophie once again. She still looked rather sickly and pale, making a note he would send for food at the kitchens. Sophie leaned into him to support her throbbing leg. It was sore after looking for Robb most of the day.
"You clearing are just as stubborn..." He rolled his eyes, moaning but with a smirk on his fac and walking forward carefully picking her up in his arms.
"No... I am just tired and sore... I was on my death bed just a few days ago you know... Your father told me you and Jon never did leave my side"
"We promised to always be there for each other remember... I am a man of my word and honour... Besides you are my best friend. I would do anything for you. We never stopped looking for you, you know. My father never gave up. He counts you as one of his own"
He looked down to her and saw the stark sigil, the direwolf. Robb remembered back to when his family had given it to her on her 13th birthday.
"I never took it off... It always gave me hope that one day I would return home... It brought me back to happier times when the days were dark"
Robb's heart broke into to as he opened the door to her chambers and saw Jon finishing off a table of food. Jon turned around and a bright smile on his face.
Robb carefully put Sophie down, holding her waist. She put her hands to her mouth and was in shock. Tears of Joy fell down her face and she engulfed Jon in a hug.
"You are a burning up..." Jon scolded her as he felt her forehead.
"It is all worth it..." replying and giving him a kiss on the cheek.
Jon sighed, shook his head, put his hand around her waist and slowly walked her to the bed. Robb then opened the window, a soft cool breeze blew in and the chimes danced making a song. Jon took a cloth, dipping it in the cool water and to her forehead.
Robb took a step back just a few steps, feeling like he was intruding on a small moment.
"Oh no you don't Stark... You are staying as well. Now stop being acting like the high lord you are and be the Robb that pulled on my braid and scared every boy off..."
Her skin was a sickly pale with a sheen of sweat across her face. The cool sensation of the cloth eased the fever that was setting in. Ghost and Grey Wind hopped up on the bed and laying their heads, whimpering. She smiled, patting behind their ears.
"Back to your old tricks I see..." Robb joked.
"Forever and always... It was the only way to ever put Theon in his place remember. Now get rid of the depressing mood that is setting in and celebrate my return"
Jon plated up some quail that was dusted with garlic crushed. Hot crispy potatoes and swet parnisp and pumpkin.
"How did you get the food from the kitchens Jon?" he asked curiously as he ate a quail leg. Its juices beautiful and sweet, crispy seasoned skin. "I mean, the only person that could ever get into the kitchens was Sophie..."
"How do you think I got in? The kitchens found out that Sophie was back in Winterfell and had all the food ready for her" Jon scoffed throwing a quail bone at Robb.
"Well no one can get into kitchens like I can" she laughed grimacing as her pulled across the healing skin, burning and itching all the same.
Sophie would not admit to pain and she was well known to be one of the most stubborn ladies in the northern lands. Once when Sophie was a child, her and the young boys were out riding. They had been near the river Temming... Something had spooked the young stallion and she had fell, breaking her arm. Jon and Robb had never been so scared in their lives. Her arms instantly swelling, going black and blue. She refused to stay there and wait for the maester. But instead rode back, hours on end in agonizing pain without a hint of a whimper.
"I think it is time to give the young lady her gift"
Jon slipped from behind Sophie, walking to her ward robe and bringing out two tattered wrapped presents.
"You still smell of peppermint" she laughed fondly. The smellmaking her smile and feel happy. Nestling her head more into Jon's shoulder.
'And you still of the jasmine flower..." he whispered back giving her a small kiss on top of her bandaged head.
Jon handed her the gift from his first. The package a light purple cloth with sewn roses. She looked up to Jon and shook it close to her ear.
"What is it?" asking her eye brows brought down and a feined angry look on her face. Robb's body was shaking with a silent laughter. Sophie looked up to him and playfully slapped him on the chest.
"Well it wouldn't be a proper present if I told you what it was now would I?"
"I hate surprises" she muttered opening her gift.
It was a small wooden box carved with the shape of the godswood flowers and a direwold head as the clasp.
"It is beautiful..."
Grey Wind and Ghost sat on the floor, heads up high, licking their chops in the hope of receiving some morsel. Sophie grabbed some quail and chucked it both to the dogs.
"You think that is beautiful, open up the box and see what is inside"
She unclasped the wolf clasp and opened the box. There was a silk cloth and on top of it was a bracelet with charms.
"Each charm is a moment from your life and when you were away... The silver wolf with red ruby eyes is ghost, the grey wolf with black diamonds is grey wind, the horse for your sigil"
"Thank you so much. I will never take it off just as the same as the necklace"
She yawned and nestled her head more into Robbs shoulder. It was just like the old days before she was taken. Back to the days where Robb and Jon would do anything for Sophie. The days where Sophie would sneak into Robbs room and watch the storms roll in over the hills. The sound of the storm lulling them both asleep.
"I think someone needs to go asleep..." Robb joked.
"Somebody already is... I will leave you two be... Maester Luwin has said she hasn't had a wink of sleep since she has been here. While you avoided her all she wanted to do was talk to you"
Jon got up and got the extra pillows for Robb and sophie. Robb carefully leaned back into the pillows and Jon pulled the furs over them. The poor girl was exhausted from her injuries and the past events.
"You shouldnt blame yourself for what happened Robb...'
"I know... But I cant help it" he admitted with a heavy sigh pulling away her hair.
"I don't think any of us can... She is very dear to all of our hearts. That kind of guilt never leaves a person and what you feel will eat you up. You really need to talk to her"
Jon left Robb with a silent nod and leave them be. So there they were... Just like they use to when they were children. Sophie would sneak into Rob's room when the storm was brewing and they would sit there eating blueberry tartlets.
"You know we should be sitting in that big rocking chair and be watching that storm..." she murmered in her sleep.
Robb smiled to himself and looked down to Sophie.
"Would you like that?"
He eased himself from under neath Sophie. Standing up he put his arms underneath her, walked to the the rocking chair and sat down.
"Just like old days" she whispered dreamily.
"I am so sorry..."
Robb sniffed as a tear fell down his face and hugged her tighter. She turned her head to face him.
"Dont you dare blame yourself Robb Stark... You can not control what other people choose to do..."
Sophie was wise beyond her years, an old soul in a young woman. Twelve months away with barbarians and wildings but here was she was still strong and sure. But he still could see that it was all a show. Sophie always had a tendency to make sure others were happy and not upset.
"I am a man of my word... I promise to forever protect you"
He looked over the lands of Winterfell. He used to come to her room at night and sit on the chair they were in now and look at the stars. A soft breeze passed through the winsown, sending shivers through Sophie. Robb pulled the blanket over them and gave a kiss to the head.
"So you are going to be with me unti my dying day? What happens when I get married one day?"
"Oh that is easy. You wont" he laughed. "No one on these lands is good enough for you. I would like them get through me, Jon, my father and Theon"
"You forgot Bran, Rickon and Arya"
"So... I marry you then?"
"Sadly I might be your only choice. But I would say we would have about four children..."
"Oh four... Really? All boys..."
"Why is that..."
"Well if they are anything like their mother they would be causing hell everywhere they went. In all seriousness, I just want you to be happy who it may be with" he whispered.
Robb looked down to see her eye closed, she snuggled in closer into his chest and pukking the blanket up to her chin. He wiped away the hair from her face and carefully picking her up in the blankets. The wolves whimpered around his legs, looking up at them with a worried look in their eye.
'It certainly didn't take you two long did it..." joking as he placed her down on the bed and putting the furs over top of her.
"But I am not tired..." moaning as her eye lids fluttered open and closed.
"You should be tired... You have had nothing but the milk of the poppy the past few days. I will stay until you fall asleep"
Robb took a spare fur from the cupboard, pulled the rocking chair beside her bed and made himself comfortable in the chair. Ghost and Grey Wind nestled on either side of her, whining and whimpering crawling to her slowly on the bed. "You aren't going to hurt me..." she whispered to them patting behind their ears.
"Good night Robb Stark.."
"Good night Sophie Winter..."