Thank you for your reviews and welcome to the many of you who are now following the story. I'm surprised by the amount of followers. It's quite flattering, really.
Here's the new chapter.
Chapter 17 : Mended Oaths
It was strange but, until she had spent the night in their bed, Daenerys had not realized how different it was to be living in a tent. She certainly still missed Robb's warmth next to her and feeling his soft snores close to her ear.
Jhiqui still placed Blue Winter roses in her room and the hearth kept the chambers at a very nice temperature. Inside her, she started to harbor a desire for the end of war as soon as possible. She wanted her husband by her side, whether he was king of the Seven Kingdoms or King in the North or anything. She didn't have a notion of when she had wanted to be with Robb more than she wanted the Iron Throne but it certainly felt more natural.
If her family hadn't been exterminated, if her father hadn't lost his mind in the first place, she couldn't help but to think her life would have been much different. She would've been married to Viserys in the worst case or, in case of political needs, married off to some lord she would have never met before. She often liked to daydream that said lord would have been Robb, and the reason of the marriage was clear: the North was always a threat for the rest of the realm. But they would have been extremely happy, maybe just as his parents had been despite everything. Their wedding would have been an event, nothing like their real one celebrated in a dilapidated inn in King's Landing. They wouldn't have spent their days worrying about battles and conspirators.
The door of her chambers cracked open, and before Dany could open her mouth, Shaggy poked his snout in. A smile touched her lips and soon Rickon was tiptoeing his way in.
"Dany?" he whispered in a small, conspiratorial voice that made her giggle but she quickly covered her mouth with her fists and sank deeper under the furs.
The bed shifted under Rickon's weight when the boy climbed on it.
"Hi," she breathed out and he grinned at her in that boyish way that reminded her a bit of Robb but also as if she could have imagined the smile of her own child growing inside her.
Lately Iagan had been kicking more often, making his presence noticeable. Like his father, he was not exactly fond of early hours, so when she woke up in the middle of the night, he complained by swimming inside her with fury.
"May I?" Rickon asked, lifting the covers to lie next to her. She nodded because out of all the Starks, Rickon had been ignored more than anyone, and he missed his mother terribly. They both missed Robb. It seemed natural to look for console in each other.
That wild hair of his called for her hand, she felt the need to smooth it and comfort him.
He sighed happily before telling Shaggy to rest on the floor, at his side of the bed, which in reality was Robb's side, but sadly the pillows and furs didn't smell like him, no matter how hard Dany tried to bury her nose in search for it.
"When is Mother coming back?"
The same question came from his mouth every day but since his father's death, Bran claimed it got increasingly hostile. It was no longer a question but a demand.
"Hopefully soon, but sadly I don't know."
With a hand on her belly, Daenerys's face twisted with sorrow. She wished she didn't miss him so much, that her heart didn't feel as raw as it did then. It was as if her pregnancy had enhaced her need for Robb's touch, for his grave voice and the look of those shiny blue eyes. "Don't know."
"Will he come for the baby?" Rickon asked enthusiastically.
She chuckled. "Certainly expecting so. He wants to meet him."
"Are you sure it is a boy?"
Rickon fell silent for a few moments but soon moved closer to her side, little hands placed on the swollen belly. "Will he be strong like Robb? Robb's the best."
She thought so too. "He'll be like his father, yes. But he'll also have a bit of me, and you," she flicked his nose. "He'll be a Stark."
Smiling, Rickon nodded before yawning, opening his mouth wide. He was obviously still sleepy and she didn't exactly hate the company.
Rubbing his back soothingly, Dany observed him as he fell asleep curled up close to her. Watching his chest rise and fall rhythmically, and his long lashes fanning over his reddened cheeks, so peaceful, made her think of a world without wars, where all children could sleep like this but in their mother's arms. It made her wish Robb could end the war fast so she wouldn't need to worry about the future nights she'd like to spend with her son in her arms.
"Father would like that," Rickon mumbled when she pressed a tender kiss to his forehead.
She couldn't help but to agree, even if she hadn't met Eddard Stark and his legendary honor.
She was sitting between Rickon and Bran when Ser Rodrik Cassel entered the hall and told them that Torrhen's Square was under siege by the ironborn. And Bran was obviously behaving lika a true lord and Stark when he ordered to defend the castle because it was the seat of one of their bannermen; they had to return the favor and protect them.
There was a stabbing pain on the side of her chest that told her that this was it, that her nightmares were about to become real and she had little to do. So she begged Maester Luwin to send a ravens to Robb and to the people in the North. The old man gave her a look but didn't question her much, in fact she was expecting him to refuse her orders, that there was no need.
She cannot explain why he believed her but he did.
It was her hand that wrote the note for Robb. Come and fight for your lands and people first. You will only need a few hundred men because they aren't expecting you.
Would he believe her as easily as he had done before? She was no longer there to talk to him, to convince him to see the truth. And she was being honest with him. Her dreams were clear and each time, each night, she saw more things as if her pregnancy was the reason of her visions. Maybe her child, because the stronger he grew, the clearer the images and messages.
Some nights she didn't want to go to bed, afraid of what the dreams would tell her.
"How?" was all Theon uttered when she was making her way to her chambers.
Not much more was needed because they knew what he was talking about.
"I just knew."
"That's why you didn't let me go to speak to my father?" he spat resentfully, as if she was the real enemy and, in some manner, she knew he thought she was the one who represented more danger for him and his foster family.
"You would have betrayed Robb."
"I wouldn't have!" Theon spat with complete conviction but she could see beyond that.
"Blood is thicker than water and power is more intoxicating than wine," she replied calmly. "You would have stabbed my husband in the back if your father asked! And I understand because you've never felt like you've belonged anywhere, and you would have wanted to make your father proud."
"He is my brother!"
She smiled sadly because he knew very well what hid underneath his smug smirk and his mischief. "But he is not. That's what is wrong, is it not? As much as you tried, as hard as you wished for it, you are not a Stark, which is why you hate me." Since her arrival, she had not once felt welcome by him. He merely tolerated her presence for Robb's sake but in his eyes she would always be an intruder, a woman who had won the Stark's name too easily. "But they are loyal, even if you can't see it now; they will always be loyal as long as you earn it. If you had gone there and followed your father, Robb would've never forgiven you."
Squaring his shoulders and clenching his jaw, Theon stood there, looking at her but she didn't budge. She wasn't afraid of him or his words. Viserys's abuse over the years had taught her to see the weakness in such act. But there was still hope for Theon. She could see the yearning for family, love and all those things that children of war, orphans, prisoners, and runaways always dreamt about.
"You should rest," he muttered uncomfortably, as if the topic was already bothering him.
"Yes, I need my sleep," she responded haughtily, making clear for him that she did not take orders from him or anyone. She was Queen in the North and as such she wouldn't let people command her. "But first, tell me, when the time comes, will you fight for us or for you? Would you dare to see Robb in the eye and tell him you left his family in danger?"
"Don't manipulate me," he growled. His face was too close to hers for her liking. "You might do this with him but I'm not under your spell." He wanted to say more. She could see it. The insults he had bitten back were written all over his face but he had stopped himself just in time.
Lifting her hand as quickly as she could, she smacked him across the face. Her eyes were full of angry tears, ready to roll down her pale cheeks.
"Don't you dare to insinuate I want to use him!"
"You don't?" He scoffed. "Everyone knows in the Seven Kingdoms that you only want the Iron Throne. Your heir is only to ensure that place."
"My son is a Stark! My son is Robb's and so am I! Why would I want him by my side if he's the one who will become king?" Standing closer, her hands balled in fists at her sides. She was trembling with fury. "If I wanted to rule, I wouldn't give birth to a child. I would have gotten rid of everyone." She swiveled around, calling Irri, who was standing wide-eyed at a couple of feet away.
Before entering the bedchambers, she looked over her shoulder.
"Be grateful I am not the one you think I am, or you would've lost that sharp tongue of yours."
Daylight was just rising after dark when she felt someone trying to wake her up.
"Your Grace," a soft voice spoke. "Please. Dany."
She blinked, trying to open her eyes and adjust them to the poor light in the room. The first thing she noticed was the noise in the castle, around them and everywhere, and then Jhiqui and Irri at the foot of the bed.
At her side was Dacey, dressed and with her mace hanging from the belt.
Daenerys's eyes opened wide with understanding. They had arrived. The men from the Iron Islands were about to destroy Winterfell as vengeance for what Eddard Stark had done years ago with ther rebellion, taking advantage of the war being fought in the South.
As fast as she could, considering her state, she got out of bed. Her handmaidens helped her to dress herself and, for the first time, Daenerys realized how big she was and how much slower her size made her.
"I need to go. They are at least four against one and there aren't many soldiers left on our side." Dacey sighed heavily before she decided to leave the room. "Please, stay here. We'll keep you safe. Go with Bran and Rickon."
Why was it that war found her when she could not fight? First as a baby and now she was expecting a child.
She wanted to refuse but she knew she wouldn't be of help. Irri, Jhiqui and Doreah led her to the boys who were with Maester Luwin. The older man only told her he wished the ravens had arrived on time because they needed all the men they could have to fight.
The ironmen weren't known for their kindness but she couldn't be afraid. She was Robb's queen and as such, she had to be calm for her people and family. But in an unexpected move, she ran to the dungeons with Irri in tow.
Dacey found her as she hurried herself in search of a sword.
"Please, a sword," she panted with her violet eyes wide and pleading. "Please."
"Why? You won't fight. I won't allow it."
"Not for me," she said and her gaze traveled in the direction of the dungeons. This was her last plan because she wouldn't let her people die. Bran and Rickon were under her protection as was Robb's heart; she wouldn't let him lose another member of his family.
"Your Grace, you cannot. You cannot trust him."
"Do you think I would do it if it wasn't necessary? He's a knight. We need him."
Dacey disapproved of this decision like anyone would have done. "The Kingslayer will kill you."
"He won't. He owes me a life and a kingdom." She extended her hand but Dacey gave the sword to Irri. "Thank you." At least she didn't need to demand it as a queen, because she was ready for it if that was what it took.
"Don't make me regret it," Dacey murmured and hurried to the walls of the castle were smoke was traveling up in the sky, dark like an omen.
Inside his prison, Jaime Lannister held onto the bars, nervous and helpless, just like a soldier without a weapon, wishing to face the enemy.
Daenerys stood in front of him. "I'll give you a sword and you'll fight for us."
He said nothing, as if his wit had vanished thanks to her surprising decision.
"What makes you think I will be loyal to you?"
"You owe it to my mother," she said as Irri opened the cell. "And if you turn against us, the Young Wolf will kill you and your kin." She handed the sword. "This will buy you hope."
"No. I won't-"
"A Lannister always pays his debts," she announced.
He snatched the weapon from her hands and grumbled under his breath. And as he did, she felt a sharp pain in her belly.
"Khaleesi!" Irri screamed, holding her as she doubled up in pain.
"My boy," she croaked. "He's coming."
"A true warrior," Jaime quipped, suddenly confident thanks to the blade in his hands. "Take her to the maester. I'll keep you safe."
As they walked back to the Great Keep, they heard the screams outside the walls and the ironmen trying to get in. But right then, Dany's screams were louder, like the howling of a wolf calling its pack. She gritted her teeth and knew that as the sun rose, tinting the sky in a reddish hue, her son was going to be born in battle and that would shape him into the man he would become.