Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, profit from this story and all creative rights to the characters (except my OC, she is all my doing) belong to their original creator, George R. R. Martin.
The visitors poured through the castle gates in a river of gold and silver and polished steel, three hundred strong, a pride of bannermen and knights, of sworn swords and free riders. Over their heads a dozen golden banners whipped back and forth in the northern wind, emblazoned with the crowned stag of Baratheon.
The north hadn't seen anything like it in centuries, even Sansa's colorful imagination hadn't done it justice during the last few days as she had painted a picture of their arrival for anyone who would listen. And though Lyanna knew many a knight by sight, none of the new arrivals were familiar to her. But a few she could guess. One with his hair as bright as beaten gold, another with his terrible burned face, and the tall boy beside him could only be the crown prince, and that stunted little man behind them was surely the Imp, Tyrion Lannister, the golden haired knight's brother, impossible as it might seem due to the vast difference in their build and beauty. Both however were the Queen's siblings.
The huge man at the head of the column, flanked by two knights in the snow-white cloaks of the Kingsguard, though very different from the tales of her childhood, could only be the King. A suspicion that was proven true when he all but crushed her father in a bone crunching hug the moment he gotten of his stallion.
"Ned! Ah, but it is good to see that frozen face of yours." The king looked him over top to bottom, and laughed. "You have not changed at all."
She could only imagine what went though her father's mind at those words. For this man could not be more different from the King she had painted in her mind, hearing stories of valor, his iron warhammer, and his skill with the blade during her childhood. This man, she doubted, would even be able to swing a sword. But then, time changed a person both physically and mentally. Last time she had been in the presence of the King she had been a babe. In fact her father had told her that the King had been the one to name her. Yet he had not asked for her or her twin when he greeted the Stark children. Even a King, it seemed, knows better than to bring light on the bastards. Not even one he had named.
That was at least was true until his eyes fell on her, standing behind her half siblings in the crowed of servants and squires, though it was not her he saw. That much she could tell from the reverent tone of his voice as he whispered her name, his hand reaching out to touch her as if she was a ghost that could disappear at any given second. And at that moment she wished she could, she after all had no desire to draw the King's interest. It took all her willpower to not flinch away as the hand grew closer, as well as her twin's touch on her wrist, when he made contact.
"Your grace?" She said instead, awkwardly dropping into a curtsy. He said nothing. It wasn't until he was greeted with her dark lilac eyes that understanding drew on him and his hand fell from her cheek.
"I almost mistook you for your aunt." He said in way of explanation, or perhaps he was simply thinking out loud, before he smiled. "I named you well, you are a true rose of the North." He said, finally taking a step back before moving to leave with her father and pay his respect to her late aunt.
But before they had even truly disappeared from sight her youngest sister, the daughter that people could safely compare their late aunt to without slighting Lady Stark, turned around to look at her with a thoughtful expression on her face.
"I can see it too. You do look just like her, you know. Even mother says you could have been her twin."
That was news to her, the Lady Stark had never had a kind word to say to her, or, she had thought, about her. But her old suspicions were proven true as Arya finished "…. if Starks had twins. She once said your mother might be a Lannister, they are known for birthing twins. But I think you look too much like a Stark, you don't look anything like the Queen."
"There was never any doubt about it. She is a Stark, through and trough." Their eldest brother said coming up behind Arya, a smile on his lips. "No one can claim Jon or Lyanna are anything but after having seen them with their own eyes."
"But we are not." Lyanna said quietly at first. "We are Snows, like any other bastards of the North." The words had come out colder than she had intended, and she forced an apologetic smile as she looked up at her brother's uncomfortable expression.
They might see her and Jon as Starks, even her father did, but no one else would. Her lord father had given her and Jon more than she had ever heard of any other lord give their bastards, he loved them, he saw to their needs and education, he even raised them in his home with his trueborn children. The only thing he did not give was his name. She had been raised a lady, but with the firm knowledge she would never be one. Just as her brother had been raised a lord knight, knowing fully well he would never wear a knight's armor. Lady Stark took every opportunity to remind them both.
Jon however had a future, plans she had forced herself to encourage, constantly telling him not to worry about her, that she knew her worth, that their father would take care of her. That Robb and their siblings would as well. After all Robb would someday inherit Winterfell, would command great armies as the Warden of the North. Bran and Rickon would be Robb's bannermen and rule holdfasts in his name. Their sisters Arya and Sansa would marry the heirs of other great houses and go south as mistress of castles of their own. She didn't need to tell him that they would never be enough. Deep down he knew that too. Why else would he want to take the Black and join the night watch?
"Ana…" Arya said worriedly, looking up at her sister, only to gain a forced smile for her efforts before Lyanna walked away without a word.
Lyanna had learned early on in life that her father's wife had no love to spare for her husband's bastard children. They were a constant reminder of their father's indiscretion, one that was rubbed in her face on a daily basis as they ran around her home, as they played with her children, and ate at her table. While Lyanna could understand the dislike, it still hurt. Lady Stark was perhaps the closest thing to a mother she would ever have, something her father reinforced further by refusing to give her or Jon so much as the name of the woman who carried them in her womb. But the hurt she had felt over Lady Stark's behavior towards them had faded over the years. As she entered her teens other fears and worries took its place as she and Jon truly began to understand their lot in life. But in the last few months she had almost been able to forget her worries. Being forced to stand away from their father and siblings as the King had arrived had simply reminded her of what she was; something to hide and be ashamed of.
Her likeness to her aunt was yet another reminder, she had heard the stories too many times to count; the wolf-blooded daughter of the North whose kind heart and beauty had brought about a rebellion and made princes fall. Lyanna was her shadow, her identical twin born to her brother. But the "real" Lyanna had been a trueborn Stark, her shadow was merely a bastard who the old gods had cured with her face…
The thought soured her mood further. The conviction she had felt as the sun set and she had sent Jon on his way to the feast she had been forbidden to attend had long since evaporated in her lonesomeness. The cool summer air had been calling her since she had shut the door in his face and after six hours she was ready to give in and sneak out. It wasn't the first time she had done so, nor would it be the last. She needn't worry, she knew how to defend herself. She knew how to use a dagger better than most knights knew how to use their swords. Her lord father had made sure she learned when it became clear she would not stay guarded in the castle. It was the only time he had mentioned her mother to her, the first and only time she wasn't likened to her late aunt but to the woman who had birthed her. He had touched her cheek with such tenderness that night, as if she was truly a gift and not a burden. While the gestured had happened again, no other words regarding to her mother had ever been spoken between them.
As she hid in the shadows of the castle walls she could hear the jovial sounds coming from the Great Hall, but she ignored it. Her aim was to get to the stables unseen and go on a late night run through the woods. She was a wolf and the moon was full. She wouldn't get many other chances, after all, the winter was coming. She knew that as certainly as any trueborn Stark.
She had almost made it to her destination without seeing a single soul, so when she suddenly felt someone come up behind her she reacted instinctively and had her dagger against the boy's throat before he could react. The eyes that stared back at her as she drew blood made her all but threw herself backward in fear; one green, one black.
When she dared to look back again she had expected him to be furious, but instead he seemed amused by her action as he stood up, swiping away the blood that trickled from his throat. "Good for you." He simply said.
"I didn't see you, mi 'lord." She said awkwardly as she looked at him in the torchlight, horrified. Thankfully the wound wasn't deep, it wouldn't even scar. It had been meant to warn him, nothing more. But that would not save her if he was truly angry. He was a lord, he could have her whipped, maybe even killed, for her actions.
"Your blade would say otherwise, such precision does not often bless the blind."
"I though you were a pickpocket. I didn't know it was you, Lord Tyrion."
"Now, that I believe. I should have made my presence known in a safer way, it seems. But most women do not sneak around at night with a blade in hand. Who are you sneaking off to see? A lover?" She didn't say anything, and her silence only seemed to amuse him further. "Perhaps one of the stable boys? Your father would be most displeased, he seems unusually protective of his bastards."
"I have no lover." She said quietly, but there was conviction behind her words. She would never curse a child to her own fate. The thought gave her courage, she had her honor and pride, and her voice was strong as she continued. "And my lord father knows I like to ride at night, that is why he gave me my dagger."
"And taught you to use it." He said dryly. Before taking a complete turn in conversation. "But that was not why I followed you. You were not at the feast, the King was most displeased not to see you."
"Lady Stark thought it inappropriate for a bastard to share the table with a King. I am not as easily hidden among the masses as my brother."
"I do not think he would have minded, he has certainly sired enough of his own." He said, and again she remained silent. After all there was little to be said. He seemed to know it too as he changed the subject. "The King wishes to bring you back to King's landing, did you know?"
"One of the benefits of being a bastard is that my father would have no reason to send me to court. Unlike my half-sisters I will be able to stay in the North. And there are still a few years before my father will send them, they are too young for marriage. And there certainly would be no reason for me to go to King's Landing."
"There is every reason. The King has asked Lord Stark to be the hand of the King, or at least he plans to. Surely you know as much." She nodded, there had been no other reason for the King to journey so far to se him. Not after the last hand had fallen ill and died at least. "He will go. One does not refuse the King, your father knows this. So should you. And the King has offered to find you a match at court, one that would not dishonor the Stark name."
"He should find one for my half-sisters instead. I am no Stark."
"You would be in the eyes of the court, at least very briefly." He said.
"The Lady Stark would never allow it. I am not a trueborn."
"She would have little choice in the matter. Nor would you or your father. It is a great honor to have the King go though such trouble on your behalf."
"Then I pity the man who will be forced to wed a bastard."
"Ah, but you will be the bastard of the King's hand, and the sister of the future Queen. You will be quite a price."
"Queen?" She yelped, her eyes wide.
"Lady Sansa and Prince Joffrey are to be engaged. The House of Stark and the House of Baratheon are to be united by blood, as it would have been if your aunt had lived. The King has ordered it, and so it shall be."