Chapter 1: You Can Be Happy
The bells from the Sept of Baelor rang loudly and soundly through the city of King's Landing. The ringing echoed well into the walls of the Red Keep, reminding its residents once more of the wedding that was to take place later that day. The merry sound of the birds and bells made the young Stark girl cringe internally. In the matter of hours, I'll be married to a stranger….and there's nothing I can do about it. Arya sighed as she sat perched on an arched window, overlooking Blackwater Bay. She sat in silence before her blissful ignorance was interrupted by handmaidens.
"Good morning, my lady. Lady Stark requests you be prepped in her chambers."
Arya nodded, fastening her robe and following her mother's handmaidens. The walk was short and to her merit, quiet. Her solace didn't last long as her mother enveloped her into a bone crushing hug.
"Oh my darling girl! You are to finally become a woman today. I'm so proud of you." Catelyn sobbed.
"Let's get this over with please." Arya snapped.
"Arya, it is your wedding day. "
"A wedding I did not ask for."
"You wanted me to me marry and here I am. I would appreciate it if we didn't waste any more time on unnecessary things."
Catelyn exhaled and closed her eyes. "Very well, then. Let us begin."
Arya wasn't sure how long she there but it felt like a lifetime had come and go. But to be fair, all she felt was being tugged around the room getting bathed, dressed, and getting color put on her face. She was standing in the middle of the room in her shift when the maids finally came with the wedding gown. It was made of Myrish lace and light, billowy silver fabric. It had short sleeves that clung to her shoulders and had a long train; the skirt was flowy as if to give the illusion of fuller hips.
"Ready my lady?" her maid hesitantly asked.
She nodded and turned to grab onto her bed post. Her maid fastened her corset even tighter and fixed her shift. Her maid helped her into her wedding gown, adjusting her ties and her pins. Her mind was blank as were her expressions. Catelyn noticed and decided to step in.
"Of course, my lady."
Arya was seated in front of her vanity, waiting for her hair to be braided. Catelyn walked over, hesitant to how her daughter would receive her. Arya didn't even bat an eyelash, she simply stared straight ahead. Cat had begun to fix her hair into a Southern style, when she felt her daughter pull back.
"It's custom to fix the hair of the bride to that of the wedding region—"
"I don't care. I'm not from the South."
"It is tradition Arya. I had to wear my hair in a Southern braid when I married your father."
"Lucky for you, you married in Riverrun, your home. I don't think that was too much of a stretch of tradition." Arya retorted.
Cat balked at her daughter's tone. "Arya, enough. You will wear a Southern braid and that this final. This isn't up for discussion."
"This marriage wasn't up for discussion either and yet, here we are. Please mother, save your words of wisdom for yourself."
"Arya Stark! You do not talk to me in that tone." Catelyn spun Arya to face her.
Arya glared at Catelyn, scoffing. "What? Are you going to strike me again? Is that it mother?"
Catelyn released her and had the good grace to look ashamed.
"You decided this without consulting me; you don't get to decide anything for me anymore. So you can either help me fix my hair or you can leave."
Catelyn felt the tears pricking the corner of her eyes and fought to not let them spill. "Is this punishment for Winterfell."
"It's not a punishment if it's for the best." Arya replied.
Cat felt the sting of words as they came back to stab her in the gut. Arya had used her own words against her and the pain was all too real.
The room fell into silence, mother and daughter stiffly finishing up the final details of the wedding prep. All that was left was the maiden's cloak. Cat looked at Arya's reflection in the mirror. Although she looked absolutely breathtaking, Arya's eyes held nothing but misery and sadness. And not for the first time did Catelyn Stark feel her heart break for her youngest daughter. Forgive me, my love.
The tears fell silently as her daughter sat in a chair waiting to be led to the ceremony. A knock on the door had her hastily wiping her eyes and bringing a false smile to her smile.
Ned Stark peered in from the other side, maiden cloak in hand. Arya was fastening a wolf pendent around her neck before facing the direction of the door.
Arya felt her body tense.I am not a Lady, I am a wolf. Wolves don't cower.
Rising from her seat, Arya stood tall and unafraid. She tugged on the pendent once more, making sure that it was securely tied on. She couldn't have Nymeria by her side today, so the pendent would be her strength today.
"Come sweet girl, it's time."
They exited the chamber and walked towards the Godswood.
Ned stood next to his daughter outside of the Godswood. His wife had left to go greet his eldest daughter and her husband, who arrived the night before. Before him was the small Godswood filled with only family and a few witnesses, the King and Queen, the royal family, and a Septon. Beside him on the other hand was his daughter who was routed firmly to the ground refusing to move forward. Ned sighed.
"Come love, the ceremony is to begin soon. We mustn't be late."
Arya turned to face her father and for the first time since she'd arrived, she spoke to him.
"Father, please don't make me do this."
It wasn't a command or a demand, it was a plea.
"Arya, you know I cannot."
"Father, please….please." Her voice was cracked and her eyes looked near tears.
He embraced her in his arms and kissed her forehead. "Sweet girl, I'd give you the stars and the moon if you'd asked. But there is nothing I can do, not this time love."
Arya knew it was futile but she couldn't help herself. She wiped her eyes and composed her expression once more. When her father reached for her arm to lead her down the aisle, she stiffened and her eyes went cold. Ned closed his eyes in defeat. Forgive me sweet girl, but one day you will understand. This is for the best.
Ned draped the maiden's cloak over Arya and quietly led her down the aisle to the front of the Heart Tree. He kissed her forehead once more and handed her over to her husband to be. The boy nodded and tentatively reached for her hand. Arya reluctantly took it and they faced each other.
The Septon spoke a few words before beginning the ceremony.
"You may now cloak the bride and bring her under your protection."
The groom blinked in uncertainty before steeling himself and moving forward. He removed her maiden's cloak and replaced it with his own. In turn Arya draped hers around him. He timidly put out his hand and she placed hers on top of his. The Septon began to wrap their hands with twine as he spoke.
"In the sight of the Seven and the Old Gods, I hereby seal these two souls together, binding them as one for eternity. Look upon each other and say the words."
The Septon finished binding their hands together and they faced each other. Bright blue bore into cloudy grey. He was handsome but that was as much as Arya would allow herself to think about him. They exhaled and began.
"Father. Warrior. Smith. Mother. Maiden. Crone. Stranger. I am his and he is mine. From this day, until the end of my days."
"Father. Warrior. Smith. Mother. Maiden. Crone. Stranger. I am hers and she is mine. From this day, until the end of my days."
"You may kiss your bride."
Arya was taut but her newly anointed husband gently wrapped an arm around her waist and cupped her face with the other. He pressed a soft kiss on her lips and pulled back just as quickly. Husband and wife look at each other in surprise, no words needed to be said. They both felt the spark and quickly looked away.
The crowd erupted into cheers and Arya felt the pressure build behind her eyes. She was a married woman now, Arya Baratheon. Gone was AryaStark. The realization almost knocked her off her feet as she stared blankly ahead to her family. Her father wore a solemn expression and her mother was weeping. The rest of her siblings looked joyous but the face she longed to see was miles and miles from there, on the Wall.
"Let us celebrate the union of these two houses, TO THE FEAST!" the King bellowed in joy.
"To the feast!" the crowd echoed.
The feast was a loud and raucous affair. The entertainment consisted of singers and bards, jugglers, and even a small tourney was being held in the courtyard. Lively music played and the noble men and women danced without a care in the world. And even with all the noise drowning out her thoughts, Arya could still hear the harsh whispers of her new marriage.
"Looks like House Baratheon and House Stark are finally joined, even if it was by marriage to abastard."
"It's not every day that two noble houses are united by a bastard. I for one say that the youngest Stark girl is no maiden. Or how else do you explain her lord father accepting this union?"
Another snorted. "Or maybe the bastard couldn't keep his cock in his breeches and sampled his new wife before the wedding."
"After all you know what they say about bastards, borne out of lust and dishonor. Like father, like son."
"Too right. They say that the girl is the spitting image of her aunt."
"Lyanna Stark? The King's first betrothed?"
"The one and the same. And the bastard looks exactly like Robert did almost twenty years ago."
"What a shame, such a handsome man. Gone to waste." One of the gossipers sighed.
"Same could be said about the girl. Long face and the look of a Stark, nothing to do with the breathtaking beauty of her elder sister. Now that's a shame. Nothing more than a plain faced girl with haunting eyes."
"At least, she's not becoming a princess. The Seven know how that might have gone."
"The girl is wild and unkempt, might have run the seven kingdoms right into the ground."
"The thought is disturbing enough to warrant more wine."
The whispers went on all throughout the feast and Arya could feel the eyes of several people follow her everywhere she went. She was furious and wanted nothing more than to stab those women and scream that nothing they said was true. That they knew nothing about her and that they were wrong. But instead, she danced with father and said nothing.
She was handed off to her brother, Robb, who then proceeded to hand her off to some lord and so on. Prince Tommen had been the only person she had treated with a small grin. She was rewarded with an even bigger one from him and let him lead her on the dance floor. She was a bit taller than him but still managed to dance with the young prince. Soon she stumbled across Renly Baratheon. She would've mistaken him for her new husband if it hadn't been for the beaming smile he was wearing. He took her hand and kissed the knuckles ever so gently.
"My, what a beauty you are, my lady."
"Thank you, my lord."
They conversed as he spun her around on the floor. "I can see why my brother fell for Lyanna Stark now."
"I never knew her but she was said to be very beautiful and free spirited."
He gave her another dashing smile as he spun her around. "And I hear the same about you my dear. Let us hope that you have a better ending than she did."
Arya could do naught but nod. And before she knew it, she was face to face with the King. His eyes went wide with recognition, reaching for her like a starving man would reach for a loaf of bread. She froze at his touch and he pulled her closer to him, the smell of alcohol invading her senses. His hands went to her waist but kept trying to roam further down, her hands uselessly at her sides.
"You look just like her." The King slurred. "So beautiful and wild, like my Lyanna."
Arya could say nothing but hope that something would tear him from her. She squirmed trying to break free from his hold but he only brought her closer to him.
"Lyanna don't leave me." He spoke as he tried to keep Arya from leaving. "Stay with me. I won't let that bastard take you from me again."
She could only watch in horror as he tried to kiss her and grope her, not caring in the least of the audience around them. She closed her eyes waiting for it to happen when she heard a deep voice break her thoughts.
"Lord Stark has been looking for you, your grace."
King Robert waved him off and returned to grabbing at Arya.
The voice spoke again, but more forceful and commanding. "Lord Stark says that it is urgent. News from across the Narrow Sea."
That tore King Robert from her and she blinked at her savior. It happened so quickly that she barely registered when the King had let go of her.
"Very well, now where the fuck is Lord Stark?" the king sounded irritated.
"On the dais, your grace." Her savior spat out acidly.
They both watched as the King staggered his way to Lord Stark. Arya looked up to her husband and saw as something flickered through his eyes. Anger? Resentment? Before she could guess what his eyes held, he sighed and looked to her.
"Your lady mother wished to see you, my lady."
Arya was taken aback. That wasn't exactly what she had expected to hear. He didn't ask for a thank you instead he relay a message and turned to leave.
She grabbed his arm to stop him. It was his turn to look surprised. Blue eyes wide and curiously calm. It somehow gave her a sense of calm as well.
"We have yet to share a dance. It's customary for the newlyweds to share a dance before the…"
She didn't finish as he led her to the dance floor. She didn't have much grace but neither did he and that somehow made it better. All eyes were on them as they danced around the empty floor. He put one hand on her waist and the other placed on her hand. Her hand rested on his shoulder, her other wrapped with his and her face at his chest. He kept his eyes trained forward and his face emotionless. She curiously wondered if she looked the same as him; emotionless and stone faced. As they danced, she heard the whispers start again and this time, he winced at them.
The music slowly ended and he pulled away from her, kissing her hand, and walking out into one of the corridors. She stood in the middle of the dance floor confused and alone.
The rest of the feast was a daze after that dance. On more than one occasion, she refused to share her mother's company, instead spending time with her elder sister and her husband, Willas Tyrell. Sansa looked absolutely stunning in her dark green gown and round belly. She was close to five moons and glowing. They talked about her life in Highgarden and how excited she was to be a new mother.
"I hope that if it's a boy he has Willas's brown hair and our mother's eyes. And if it's a girl, he wants her to have my red hair and father's eyes. Oh Arya! Can you imagine it?" Sansa spoke elatedly.
Sansa smiled at her and squeezed her hands, sensing her discomfort. "It's going to be alright. You were always the brave one."
Arya looked at her sister's stomach. "And now you're the brave one Sansa."
"But you will always my brave and brash little sister." Sansa kissed her sister's forehead and stood to accept a dance from a knight. "And who knows, maybe…you could be happy."
Arya watched as Sansa gleefully whirled around the dance floor with the tall knight. She recognized the man dancing with her sister as Sandor Clegane, or the Hound as he was better known as, prince Joffrey's shield. When the dance ended, her sister kissed the Hound's burnt cheek and returned to her husband. It didn't escape her notice how both shared a wistful look at each other before parting.
She sat there bored looking for an escape when her view was blocked. She turned her head only to see the person who had blocked her path, Joffrey. She could already feel the bile rising in her throat at the sight of his wormy face.
"Is there something you needed?"
"Not at all but I do feel a bit slighted."
Her eyebrow arched in confusion. "And why's that?"
His lips curled into a smirk. "My lady has danced with almost everyone but me. My brother and father were each given a dance, yet I wasn't."
Arya said nothing but stared at him.
"I don't like being slighted my lady. So how about a dance?"
She wanted to dance with him as much as she wanted to befriend the queen. Suddenly a thought came to her. "Forgive me, your grace. I was merely dancing with every lord I came across, nothing personal. And as much as I would love to spare you a dance, my lady mother wished to see me before the bedding."
Joffrey seemed to be angered by her refusal. "Very well, my lady. I look forward to the bedding ceremony then."
She was barely able to stomach the look on his face and walked to where her mother was sitting. Arya had only just reached the table when she heard the King shout:
"TIME FOR THE BEDDING!"
Arya freezes and feels her mouth go slack. She can feel her skin crawling as the King and the other men eye her like a slice of cake, waiting to rip the garment off her body. Her eyes search the room helplessly for grey eyes but remembers where those eyes are. With the King, on the Wall, lost.Lost in her thoughts, she almost screams when she feels warm hands bring her back into reality. The hands spin her and she comes face to face with deep blue eyes.
The young Stark girl breathes a sigh a relief and embraces the man.
"Come on. Before these bastards touch you."
Robb strips her of her dress and gathers her in his arms. They can hear the bellows of disapproval and annoyance as they walk to her wedding chambers.
"Anytime little wolf."
She curls into his chest and grips his doublet. He slows his pace, understanding what she wants. They walk for a bit longer until Robb stops and sets Arya on her feet. She's shaking and positively terrified. Robb stepped forward and kissed the crown of her head.
"It's going to be okay, little wolf. I know it doesn't seem like it but it will. I'm sorry about this, but remember that no matter what, you will always be a Stark of Winterfell."
She didn't trust herself to speak, so she nodded.
"Winter is coming." They spoke in unison.
With that Robb left her standing in the hallway. Arya exhaled and reached for the door before her.
"Those are not your wedding chambers."
Arya jumped back in surprise, nearly screaming when she recognized the voice.
Jon smiled and caught her as she jumped on him.
"Gods I've missed you!"
This time she couldn't stop the tears from falling.
"I missed you too, stupid!" She pulled back to see him. "I thought you weren't going to come."
"I thought so too but, Robb convinced me to travel with him. Thought I should see you off before I settle on the Wall."
Her eyebrow rose. "Robb arrived two days ago…why didn't you come to see me sooner?"
Jon had a pained look on his face, pain mixed with sadness. And suddenly, she knew the answer. He set her on her feet.
"Yes. Lady Stark thought it imprudent of me to be present at your wedding."
They strode forward as they spoke. "She didn't want a bastard at my wedding? Did she forget what the groom was?"
"Huh…my wedding." She scoffed. "As if I had any choice in the matter."
"Sometimes we all have to do things we don't want to. Because when it comes down to duty, we don't have a choice."
The young Stark girl didn't respond. She couldn't, his words rang true. I wouldn't have to do this if I'd been born a bastard.
Arya often believed she was a bastard when she was a child. She had looked nothing like her mother or her other siblings with her long face, stormy grey eyes, and messy, knotted brown hair. The only people whom she resembled were her father and Jon.
"I wish I was a bastard." She muttered under her breath.
Jon smiled sadly. "No, don't."
"At least if I was one, I wouldn't have to worry about being married off to some stranger."
Her half-brother mussed her hair and slung his arm over her shoulder.
"We'd be free to travel the world and ride with outlaws. Just like Wenda the white fawn."
"Just like Wenda." Arya echoed.
They stopped and stared at each other. Mirror images of one another. Dark brown hair and eyes the color of shining steel.
He patted her cheek. "I wish we didn't have to say goodbye this way."
She felt the tears fall once more, silently and she nodded. "Me neither. I'm sorry about what I said to you that day in the Godswood. I didn't mean it."
"I know you didn't little sister. It's all alright."
"I'm sorry. I love you, Jon." She paused, willing the tears to stop. "You're my favorite brother and my best friend….my only friend."
"I'm going to miss you most of all little one. I love you and don't stop fighting."
She chuckled. "Stick'em with the pointy end."
Brother and sister embraced again before walking on to their new lives.
"Goodbye, Jon Snow." Arya whispered, her voice cracking.
His voice cracked as well. "Goodbye, Arya Stark."
Arya turned to the door and opened it. Just as she stepped inside, she felt Jon tug her back to him for a hug. He kissed her temple and murmured into her hair. He gave her a rueful smile and left.
Arya Stark stood in the middle of her empty wedding chambers remembering her half-brother's last words to her. The door creaking open brought her back to her painful reality. She opened her eyes and lifted her gaze and head from the ground, to find searing blue irises boring into her steely grey.
It seemed as if all of time had stopped for a single moment, this moment, and start again. Arya had only met this man all but one week ago, and now they were to spend the rest of their lives together. She recalled Sansa's words to her and then Jon's words echoed loud and clear this time.
You could be happy.
A/N: I know I still have another little drabble to finish but this was burning a hole in my notepad and computer! (I literally wrote this on an actual notebook and have the second chapter partially written.) Any who, the basic idea here is an arranged marriage that may or may not lead to more. Let me know what you guys think...