A/N: Welcome to my story. I just wanted to let you all know that this is an AU fic set 13 years after the war. Robb never betrayed the Freys and therefore was never murdered at the Red Wedding. Wynafryd Manderly is not an OC, she is a canon book character. I have added a few OC's of my own, I hope you enjoy.
|| Chapter One ||
Robb Stark may have been King in the North, of the Trident, of the Kingdom of the Vale and even of the Iron Islands, but still she hated him more than any man in all of Westeros.
It was true there was a part of her, deep down in the crevice of her heart that wasn't ruined like the rest of her, that perhaps cared enough to say that 'hate' was too strong of a word. But the rest of her, the parts that mattered, hated the man.
She could see his ship from a distance, the sun setting behind it and the fierce direwolf sigil of House Stark illuminated by it as it fell. She even hated his ship and all it's pretentiousness. She watched, her eyes squinting as she struggled to see the small figures below, her men awaiting their king as she should be.
But of course she wasn't going to wait for him. She had been waiting all bloody afternoon and already he was hours later than he'd informed her. The visit itself was intrusive, in her opinion. He'd sent her a raven only three days prior informing her he wanted to pay House Manderly a royal visit on his journey home from the Vale. It was all in bad form, she'd decided. Royal visits costed more coin than she cared to part with. He also knew she wasn't the type of person who liked to be kept waiting, and yet, he'd purposely left her standing out on the docks for hours awaiting his arrival.
The bad timing of it all didn't help either.
The King had sent a letter of his condolences when the ravens, announcing her father's death, had gone out to all the high lords of Robb's dominion a few weeks prior. She thought a letter was just enough, more than enough. She would have rather he didn't acknowledge it at all if she had it her way, but His Grace would not be remiss. And therefore, he had suggested a visit to White Harbor, to swear in his new Lord in person.
Of course she was to be the Lady Regent of White Harbor until her brother came of age. Therefore any swearing to be done would be in her words, knelt at the feet of the King. The whole idea in her head was enough to make her stomach churn violently. She didn't like kneeling before men, she never had. They were all the same, always looking down at her, with smirks on their faces and a slight twinkle in their eye.
Robb Stark, the hero king, was no different than the rest in that aspect.
Everyone else liked to believe he was a man removed, a man above men. But she knew him better than anyone. He was once a young man, inspiring and brave. War had changed him, made him a harder man than he was in his youth. But it seemed that she was the only one who had noticed.
"Are you going to stand there all night or are you going to come down with me and greet our King?" a voice asked from across the room and she looked over her bare shoulder in disinterest.
Not far from her stood a very nude Cley Cerwyn, pulling on his trousers with the agility of the soldier that he once was. She watched with some interest as he then pulled his tunic over his sculpted chest and behind her eyes lingered the visions of sweat dripping down his skin as he moaned out her name with his hands on her thighs.
A small smile appeared by accident in the corner of her mouth and he'd caught it with his dark eyes, capturing her slight breach of character and smiling in return. It wasn't often she smiled for him, but he had informed her that it was something he liked and had hoped she do more often. She of course made an effort, but there was something more pleasant about the relationship they had. It didn't need smiles. It just needed sex.
"I waited long enough," she said then, hiding her smile. "Now His Grace can wait for me."
"He'll want to see you," Cley told her knowingly, tying his vest with those expert fingers of his. "You"re Lady Regent of the most important keep in his Kingdom."
"He'll see me when I'm ready," she said boredly, crossing the room so she was sitting down at her vanity, taking a brush to her now tousled hair. Her hair was longer than it ever had been, reaching down to her waist in dark brown waves. "Or would you rather I greet him like this."
In the mirror she could see Cley watching her for several moments, looking over her bare skin and all that was exposed. He wouldn't like it at all if any man were to see her like this. Cley was a jealous man despite her telling him she and him would never amount to anything more than bedfellows. She liked the way he'd look at her when she danced with other men, it was flattering. No man looked at her that way. Not at her age.
She was considered an old maid now at thirty, though she was far from a maiden. Her days of wedding plans and childbearing were nearly over. It didn't make her people respect her any less. They knew of her contribution to the war, the battles she'd helped win. Of course most of her wars were won off the battlefield. She was good at suggestions, coercions, and especially manipulations. It was what made her a good negotiator. Not in a bad way, she'd been told. Everything she'd done had been for the good of the North. That's what she'd told herself then, and that was the way the stories were told now.
She'd been branded a heroine.
Which was why no one gave her glances full of pity at her empty lifestyle. No one expressed their condolences over her inability to marry someone wealthy to change her name and take her far from White Harbor to fill her with sons. She had experienced enough in her youth that she was content in her present day way of life.
"You should be there though," she said, her thoughts lingering too long as her brushing slowed and still he was watching her as he pulled on his boots. "He will want to see his friend. Take the boys with you. They've been waiting all day to see a glimpse of him."
Young Cley and Vann Cerwyn were more excited than their father to greet the King. Neither had seen him since they were too young to remember and to them, the King's visit was nothing short of perfect timing. Of course they would be impressed. She hadn't seen the King in nearly eight years and she knew he'd still be as regal and as impressive as ever. While she grew older and more homely by the day, she'd heard that Robb had only grown more handsome. But it was his curse, whilst hers was her blessing.
By the time she descended the stairs to the Great Hall, it was full of spectators both of her household and the Kings caravan. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen it so full. She stood close to the back, adjusting her dress slightly as she watched Cley laughing with Robb, his hand on his shoulder as they both shared a cup of ale. Dinner was now being served and the King would bless the food with his prayer from the gods before they would be allowed to eat.
As each of his subjects bowed their heads and fell to their knees in whispered prayer of the Old Gods, she simply watched, her arms crossed over her chest, as they all did his bidding. House Manderly had been one of the few houses in the North who didn't practice the religion of the Old Gods. She had been raised to believe in the Faith of the Seven. But she couldn't remember the last time they answered her prayers. She hadn't even whispered a blessing since the war, long before her innocence was ripped from her.
The King's words were loud over the crowd, his powerful voice projecting throughout the room as if he were standing right next to her. It seemed like a long time before heads raised and feet stood, only to take their seats at the tables and proceed to indulge in merriment.
It was then that their eyes met.
It was like a flash of something behind her eyes when their glances united. She nearly dropped the bronze goblet in her hand as the memory flashed behind her eyes and all she could see was blue, the color of every painful memory that came to mind. Blue like his eyes, rich with something subtle hidden behind his lingering gaze.
She cursed herself for looking away first.
It was in the second course of the expensive meal that she found herself feeling loose-tongued due to the wine was sipping. She felt Cley's hand on her thigh under the concealment of the table and she nearly smiled for everyone to see. She caught herself, quickly composing her slumped posture and humbly sipped out of the goblet to hide the grin of pleasure on her lips as his hand rose further up.
She managed to evade the King's glances through the third and fourth course, briefly catching his stare in the fifth but completely ignoring it through the sixth until it was time for the women to retire and leave the men to their war stories. She thought it was interesting how men loved to recount battle stories when they were all just as horrifying as the next. She'd seen the war firsthand, and it wasn't full of stories that would make anyone laugh.
In the privacy of her room she finally felt at liberty to breathe. She slipped her gown off her shoulders and released the uncomfortable strings of her corset so her lungs could fully expand. The room was quiet, save the crackling fire in the corner that would keep her warm through the harsh winter night. It had been the longest winter since her birth, and already she longed for the warmth of summer. Thirteen years she'd seen the blizzards rage through the city and the snow pile up over the houses of the villagers. For thirteen years she'd lived in the misery of winter and she could only hope that spring would soon show it's face.
The knock at her door startled her slightly and she didn't get a chance to contemplate who it was before she saw the King open the door. She didn't move from the place she stood, frozen in her boots near the fire with her robe wrapped tightly around her body. He was still dressed in his regal garb, fine fabrics sent from the Queen of Dorne reminded her briefly of summer and the fire next to her skin seemed to increase.
"Wynny," he said and she closed her eyes, turning her face from where he stood and pretending to find interest in the flames.
"You know I hate it when you call me that," was her whispered reply, trying to make out patterns in the flames that danced in the hearth and she ignored the feeling of his body heat on her back from his now close proximity.
"You always hated 'Wynafryd' more as I recall," he reminded her in a hearty chuckle that tickled the light trail of hair on the back of her neck.
"It seems it has finally grown on me," she replied, shortly and he chuckled again, though it sounded like a whisper. "I'm no longer a child."
Slowly, his calloused hands traveled over her shoulders and down her forearm until her fingers were twined in his. She would have pulled away if the heat wasn't so deliciously welcoming. She reminded herself how much she hated him, replayed the words and the memories in her mind until she could finally pull her hands from his and walk back towards the other side of the room. It was colder there, the absence of something - she told herself it was the fire - making chills appear on her skin as she shivered.
"You're still avoiding me?" he asked her but she didn't look up.
"My feelings haven't changed," she reminded him and she didn't have to see his face to know he was frowning. "If I wanted to see you, Your Grace, I would not have politely declined all of your previous invitations."
"There were many previous invitations," he said, stepping closer as his voice deepened. "And as I recall your rejections were not always so polite."
She finally looked up into his eyes, the place where it was most dangerous to look.
"Perhaps I have not made my message clear enough," she told him, her voice stern and he shook his head. "I am loyal to you, Your Grace, but you cannot punish me because I have no desire to share your company."
"And what if I want to - punish you that is?" he asked her darkly, his mouth near her ear. "You've stayed away for a long time Wynny, but the last time we stood together like this, I was receiving the same words, but a very different message."
"A lapse in judgement," she excused. "I assure you it will not happen this time."
Her voice was steadier than she would have imagined, given the fact that she could hear every intake of his breath and the tickle of his stubble against her skin. If she moved another step his mouth would be against her neck but she knew her stance was stable and steadfast. Any movement would be a fault of his.
It was several long moments, followed by his lips against her cheek, before he stepped back, pacing in front of the fireplace with his hands behind his back. She watched each step in interest. Anticipating each hit of the boot to the stone floor as he walked. It seemed that time had not changed his habits. Still he paced with all the concern on his brow as if he was holding the world on his shoulders.
"I came for several reasons, all of which I expressed to you in my letters," he told her and she nodded. "And yet I've not met the future Lord of White Harbor," he said curiously. "Where has your brother run off to?"
Wynafryd sat down at her vanity, ignoring his interested gaze as she pulled the plaits loose from her hair and brushed it slowly with her fingertips. It fell gently over her shoulders and his eyes seemed to follow each wave as they fell.
"Weylyn is in the city, with Maester Taelmon. The boy is to become Lord soon enough, therefore he must learn his city and the goods that come through the harbor. It is a very important job and he wishes to serve you well," she explained, pulling a cloth from the table and dousing it in the water bowl in front of her. She used it to wipe her face several times, removing the rouge from her cheeks and lips.
"But he didn't want to be here to greet me? Is that not his duty as well?"
"You left us waiting quite a long time," she told him bitterly without looking his way. "He had other responsibilities to tend to. I assumed my presence would do well enough."
"It does do well, your presence," he teased.
"Is there something else you wanted, Your Grace?" she asked, bored with the conversation and his insinuations. She'd heard them all before and she had no desire to hear them now. She placed the cloth down and stood with her hands on her hips. At her words he stepped closer, so close that he was looking down into her light eyes.
"You know what I want," he whispered and she could smell the wine on his breath, his lips slightly tinted from his cup. "It is the same thing I have wanted for the last fourteen years. You're feelings might have changed, but mine never have. I have never lied to you about that."
His fingers traced her jaw line as if by memory and as if by reflex she leaned towards him. It was an involuntary motion that she immediately corrected, but not before he took notice. It was the first time she had noticed the rumors were true. He had grown more handsome than the last time she saw him and it only made her hate him more.
"Gods, you're beautiful," he said as if he'd read her mind. "Has it really been so long? I was going mad without seeing you. I thought I might soon forget your face."
"I am no longer the girl I once was. Time has change me, and not for the better as it has you," she said with her eyes closed.
"Don't be modest Wynny. Or is it your vanity? Do you know your beauty has excelled so much that you just want to hear me say it? Because I will tell you a thousand times that you are beautiful. Now more than ever," he whispered as he leaned in towards her, his lips having only one target in mind.
The words were enough, she decided. She could bear no more. It was clear that her body language wasn't helping her get her message across so she tried a different tact.
"How is your wife?" she asked, and his soft eyes now hardened. His hand stopped stroking her face and he let it fall to his side as he sighed.
"Roslyn is well," he told her, stepping back. Her words had the desired effect. Robb may have had a weakness for her, but he was an honorable man. He didn't like to be reminded that what he was doing was still wrong despite any misgivings he might have had.
"And your daughters? Will they come for the festival?" she asked and she could tell by his expression that he was very aware of what she was doing. And so instead of frowning in disappointment as she'd expected, the corners of his mouth turned up into a sly grin.
"Yes, Cat and Fiona will be here in a few days, along with Bran and Wylla. Your sister will be most happy to see you."
"And your wife," she added as if he had forgotten.
"And my wife."
"I haven't seen little Cat since she was born here. Do you remember?" she mused. "It is hard to believe it has been eight years since then. Wylla tells me both of your girls are quite older than their years might suggest. Time seems to have passed so quickly."
"And yet nothing has changed," he whispered as she turned away from him, grabbing her hand and she jerked back around.
"Everything has changed!" she snapped, pulling her hand from his grasp. "Stop pretending like I've been here, waiting for you to return. I was the one who left you, remember?"
"How could I forget?" he asked her, surprised by her outburst. "That day still haunts me."
Wynafryd was normally very composed in front of most people. There were few who saw her for what she really was, some sort of untamed fire raging out of control. Not always was it a bad fire, sometimes it was a very good type of passion she felt but other times, it was like this.
"Then why have you come?" she asked him again, this time without the pleasantries. "Have I not expressed my wishes clearly? I do not want to see you. I do not wish to feel the way I once felt. You cannot just sweep in to pick up the pieces. It is your fault I am like this, broken beyond repair, too broken for any man to fix. You ruined me," she told him bitterly and he laughed angrily.
"I ruined you?" he asked. "You are the one who turned me into this...this...whatever I am now. I used to be a good man. I used to want a marriage and children and to be dedicated and loving. But I'm not. I'm not a good person and that is you are to blame for that. You own me. Had you not come into my life I would not be who I am. I would not feel so overwhelmed in your presence. It is you who ruined me."
"And every single day I wish that we had never met that day, that I had done as my father asked, that I had stayed in White Harbor," she explained, her scowl deepening. "If I'd have just done as I was told maybe we'd both be happy now. If that even exists anymore."
"But you never did as your were told. You still do not," he reminded her and she shook her head.
"And you still do not listen," she replied in a hasty whisper. "As I said, I am loyal to you, Your Grace, but you no longer own me."
It was as if it all happened in a flash then. One moment she thought she might slap him, the next she felt his lips crash into hers as he pushed her against the wall. Their bodies were flush against one another and Wynafryd felt a desperate feeling rising in her chest that she had spent too long trying to bury. She tried to pull away but there was nowhere to go as their mouths moved together. His hands were deliberate as they moved over body, his quickened breaths just as desperate as that feeling in her stomach.
She hated him, she reminded herself. She hated him for making her this woman, for using her and most of all for loving her. She hated him with all of her being because if it wasn't for him,she might have lived a happy life. She didn't even know what that meant, to be happy. She had suffered so long that the simple notion of happiness seemed so foreign to her.
She felt his hand part the fabric of her robe and his hand was warm on her skin and she lost all sense of any reason. This right here was the reason she hated this man. That he could touch her and make her feel completely vulnerable and controlled. She was his puppet.
Somehow she mustered up the strength to shove him off of her, leaving them both to catch their breath as their chests heaved and their glances locked. She was shaking her head because her mouth couldn't form the words she wanted. But before she could form words, another voice interrupted for her.
"Mother?" it asked and her eyes widened. She didn't tear her eyes from Robb who looked slowly towards the door where the figure had entered.
When she finally did look she saw her son looking up at the King as if he'd just said something he wasn't supposed to. Which, by happenstance, was the case in that moment. Weylyn looked at his mother apologetically when he realized he'd made the mistake of outing their secret. But she didn't scold him, only nodded slowly to ensure it was alright.
But when she looked at Robb he hadn't torn his eyes away from the boy, the boy who was her son. There was a painful expression in his eyes and Wynafryd felt something inside of her crumble.
Weylyn Manderly had been raised as the only son of Wylis Manderly, raised to be the heir of White Harbor and therefore raised as Wynafryd's younger brother. Everyone in the North knew of Wylis' joy when his son was born. But the fact of the matter was, it was all a lie. Everyone in the household knew the boy was her son, and Weylyn was forbidden to call her 'mother' unless they were in private.
"It is alright," she whispered, summoning him to her side as she adjusted her robe to be sure she was decent.
He walked slowly towards her, looking up at Robb with a curious expression and it was clear her secret was soon to be ruined. He stood at her side and she grabbed his hand in hers. He was tall for his age but still small enough that his hand find nicely in hers. She dreaded the day he would be too old to love her the way he did now.
"Wynafryd," the King said then, his tone dark and his voice struggling to steady itself as he stared at the boy. "What is this?"
"Your Grace, this is Lord Weylyn Manderly, heir to White Harbor," she began to explain but he was shaking his head.
"No, do not lie to me, who is this boy?"
"I am Weylyn Manderly," Weylyn replied. "Your Grace." he added as if it were a question and he looked up at his mother for confirmation that this man before them was the King. She nodded once in affirmation.
"Wey, I thought you were going to stay in the city tonight?" she asked and he diverted his eyes.
"Maester Taelmon was feeling ill," Weylyn explained. "I thought it best that he return to the castle before his condition worsened. There is a strong blizzard coming in from the North and the city is no place for him. The inns were filled with the people come to see the King."
"I see," she replied absently, not daring to look up the King who was still standing in disbelief.
Robb was quick then, walking towards her and grabbing her arm with a furious expression on his brow.
"Wynny you tell me who this boy is right now or-" he started to say but was stopped short as a sword found it's way under his chin.
Both she and Robb looked to see that it was Weylyn with a frown on his lips and a heaving chest who had pulled the sword out and now held it to the King's throat. Had there been guards in the room Weylyn would be face first into the stone floor of the room. But they were completely alone, Robb had seen to that when he'd entered her rooms not long before.
"Weylyn," she said softly and poised. "You ought not raise your sword to the King."
"Then the King ought not put his hands on my mother," Weylyn replied without budging, scowling at the man who held his mother by the upper part of her arm.
Robb let go then, slowly lowering his hand until it was by his side. It wasn't until his hand still and he had stepped back slightly that Weylyn lowered his sword, still glaring up the King with bitter eyes. Robb looked from Wynafryd to Weylyn and back for several moments before he walked out of the room. Leaving her alone with her son.
It wasn't until the door had closed behind him that she finally felt as though she could breath once more. It had been like she had held her breath the entire time he'd been in the room and now she could finally feel her reason returning to her. She walked over to the bed, fully aware that Weylyn was watching her curiously, and she sat down, leaning her back up against the headboard and staring across the room to where the fire crackled loudly.
When she had counted twelve full breaths she felt the bed move and Weylyn crawled in by her side. He sat across from her, looking at her with that curious glance she had always hoped to avoid seeing. But it was there, and no longer could she ignore it. She sighed, smiling as she opened her arms and he moved so he was sitting in front of her, his back against her chest and she wrapped her arms around him.
"You are a brave young man," she whispered proudly and she saw a hint of smile on his lips as she spoke.
"I didn't like the way he touched you," he replied and Wynafryd nodded.
"He was only confused, darling," she explained. "And you really shouldn't raise your sword to him again. Next time it could be his guards watching and you would not be spared a moment for explanation."
"King or not, he has no right to touch you that way," Weylyn said, his voice lowered, understanding the importance of her words. She could only nod in reply. "Mother?" he asked then and the sound in his voice was like a knife in her heart.
"Yes?" she asked, her hands beginning to shake. He placed his hands on hers, steadying them.
"That man, the King-" he started, looking down at their hands. "He is-"
It was as if he couldn't speak, as if the question was as hard as the answer she would have to give. They had discussed it only once, only once had she had this conversation with her son when he was young and wide-eyed. Now as he looked up at her, his blue eyes sparkling in the firelight she couldn't help but feel that sense of dread rising.
"He is my father, isn't he?" he finally asked and Wynafryd felt her throat swell.
She felt the sudden urge to hold him then, like when he was a young boy. She pulled him close to her chest and kissed his dark hair, brushing the curls from his face.
"Yes, love," she said in a strangled voice. "Robb Stark is your father."
A/N: So this is just a random story I have had in my head for the last few weeks. I'm hoping for some good feedback to see if you guys like it as much as I do. I will hopefully work on this alongside Savages which I have not given up on at all. But I did feel that if I didn't start writing this story, I might never get my mind off of it and back to the other story. Anyways. Let me know what you think. There is lots to come, lots of drama and lots of history. Thanks for reading -xoLola