Disclaimer: I own nothing except for the original characters.
A/N: Apologies in advance for the length of this one, at 7947 words it is the longest chapter yet but I do hope you'll see why I couldn't bring myself to split it!
XXVIII – Robb
"There are three remaining Lannister camps around Riverrun, if we split our forces – Tully, Stark and Baratheon – we can ambush them from each side and take back the Riverlands," Robb said firmly as he knocked down a lion figure that was placed on the map. He was met by looks of approval from all the men in the tent; Ralph Buckler, Greatjon Umber and Arstan Selmy were grinning and sharing words.
Roose Bolton spoke calmly and silenced the other men, "A fair plan. I'd wager it will be better executed whilst the men are asleep and scattered though."
"Aye," Ser Brynden Tully said raucously and nodded. "Their outriders and scouts are eliminated, it would only seem wise to strike at night. The Lannisters will never see the attack coming-"
"Robb," A gentle voice interrupted the conversation of strategy and warfare. Looking up from the map of the area, Robb's gaze was met by pale face of his wife. Elyana stood with her back straight and her head held high like a queen but it was façade that he easily saw through. She cleared her throat and did not meet the eye of anyone in the tent, instead staring at the ground. When she looked up again Robb had a better look of her and noticed that her jaw was clenched and eyes were puffy. "Forgive me, my lords… I did not mean to interrupt but I-I must speak with my husband alone. It is a matter of… a matter of great importance."
Robb nodded in the direction of the men and with haste, they exited the tent. He frowned when Elyana had taken to staring at the ground again and approached her slowly. There was a part of him, albeit a small one, that dreaded what was going to happen now that they were alone. He had never quite seen her like this, she had never willingly shown weakness in front of others. Elyana was Queen, she could not afford to be weak and yet there she was before him. Robb lifted up her chin and placed a gentle kiss upon her lips.
"What's happened, El?"
"Robb… there was a raven from King's Landing. I'm so sorry, my love. I am so sorry," Robb dropped his hand from her face and stared at her as she struggled to find words. No, Robb thought firmly, we are winning the war – nothing could have happened, we are winning. She bit down on her lip and shook her head. "He… Joffrey executed your father in front of the Great Sept of Baelor."
He wanted to shake his head and ask her if this was a joke or a rumour from the gossips of King's Landing. However, Robb took a step back and with a broken voice said, "No. My father is alive, El."
My father is alive, he told himself. Robb had done everything; he had rallied the lords and pushed the Lannisters back. His father could not be dead, not now, not when they were fighting to get him back. The look on Elyana's face changed in a manner he could not describe. Unknown to him, she had put aside her own grief and adopted a strong front for his sake. Elyana frowned deeply and slowly shook her head.
"No, my love. I am so sorry…"
Mourning was supposed to dignified and stoic for him but when words did not pass his lips, he wept. Before his wife, his love, Robb cried for his father like the young boy he was. He was quickly embraced by Elyana, who stroked his back gently. Breathing did not come easily between sobs and his chest felt heavy. It wasn't supposed to be like this, he should have done more, he should've got there sooner and saved his father. Despite feeling an immense sense of loss and misery, the more Robb wept in the arms of his wife, the angrier he felt. With that anger came an awful hollowness within him as he stood still and cried. I have failed my father, he thought, I couldn't save my father.
Then, the sweetest words escaped his wife's lip as she whispered to him, "Joffrey will pay, my love. He will burn in the deepest of the Seven Hells, I will see to it myself. None of them will get away with this, we'll kill them all. We'll kill every one of them until justice is served."
She released him from her embrace and gently wiped his face. Elyana spoke softly as she pushed back his hair and caressed his cheek, "Do you want to stay here, my love?"
"No," Robb mimicked her actions from earlier and did not meet her gaze. "I need air… I'll go to the woods. I need to… I need to think."
"Of course. Do you want me to come with you?"
Yes, Robb thought, I don't want to be alone. The gods must have cursed them. Grief clouded his mind and it struck him that his wife had lost her father as well and he was not there for her when it happened. In his own mind, he did not deserve her company when he had left her alone. This was something he had to accept himself, he couldn't ask her to take on this burden with him and so, Robb shook his head. "No, El. You stay here. Stay where it's safe, I won't be long."
Elyana gave him a lasting look before standing on her toes and giving him a quick kiss, "I love you, Robb. I'm always here for you, Robb. I'm always going to be here. Always."
Robb smiled for a brief moment and nodded before departing. He held himself together as he walked through the camp, nodding solemnly at men who greeted him. Word would spread soon, they would all know in time what had happened. The area emptied when he drew closer to the small wood and he wished that he had not been so foolish and told Elyana to stay. His hand hovered over his sword before dropping. With a look back, he realised that he was truly alone now. Perhaps it was better this way, he was Lord of Winterfell now and he could not be seen like this. Bringing his hands to his face, Robb wept again for his father. Where are you? He cried out in his mind, where have you gone? Of course, silence was the answer he was met with.
Enraged and distressed, Robb unsheathed his sword and began to strike the tree. He hit it again and again and each time, he wept more. The pain did not ease. He wanted to yell with each strike, he wanted the tree to bleed. In time, there were large dents in the tree that deformed it but Robb did not stop. How could anyone accept that their father had died? What he was supposed to do now seemed unclear. His father was gone. His father was gone.
"Robb," A voice called as he continued to hit the tree and cry. Mother, he said in his mind but did not stop. "Robb… Robb. Robb!"
Out of breath, he finally came to a halt as more tears came streaming down his cheek. She must have known, she must have. Gods, he didn't want to tell his mother, it would break him to tell his mother. She spoke hoarsely, "You've ruined your sword."
The sword dropped out of his hand and instinctively, he went to his mother and let her embrace him. How was she so strong? How did she and Elyana stop crying and manage to calm him? Robb continued to weep in her arms, feeling like a boy again.
"Shh shh," she squeezed him tighter.
"I'll kill them all… Every one of them. I will kill them all," he managed to say, mirroring the words of his wife.
"My boy," she stroked his hair and spoke impassively. "They have your sisters. We have to get the girls back… and then, we will kill them all."
XXVIII – Sansa
Sansa watched on silently as Joffrey sat upon the throne and commanded that the bard who just performed for him ought to have his tongue cut out. She had wept and wept ever since he took off her father's head. Had he not entered her room to both command and intimidate her into attending court, she would have never of left her chambers. He's not the prince you think him to be, she remembered what Elyana had told her, you're a wolf and you deserve better. Every night she had thought about the things Elyana had told her and every night she regretted never listening. So many had warned her, so many had tried to tell her what they already knew and what did she do? I betrayed Elyana and now my father is dead because of me. Sansa wanted to wail, she wanted to go back and change everything. As she stared at Joffery, she noticed his thin lips and cruel eyes. How could she have ever thought him handsome? He was a monster.
Her body went ridged as he descended the throne and walked towards her, The Hound and Ser Meryn Trant behind him. Joffrey examined her from top to bottom, "You look quite nice."
"Thank you, my lord."
"Your Grace," he corrected her sharply, "I'm King now."
The screams of the bard rang throughout the throne room. He begged them to stop, he begged and scream but Sansa knew that he would not be spared. She turned her head to the side, not wanting to see the spectacle happening at the centre of the court.
"Walk with me," Joffrey commanded, offering her his arm. "I want to show you something."
Perhaps she had stood there longer than she thought for the Hound stepped forward and bellowed, "Do as you're bid, child."
She felt as if her flesh crawled as she took his arm. His touch once sent pleasant shocks through her but now, she felt sick. Once they had slipped out of the throne room, they walked at an even pace and in silence before Joffrey said anything. Sansa partially thought that he wanted to put fear in her by not saying a word. Perhaps he would kill now her too. The thought of her own death did not scare her so much.
"My name day will be here soon. There will be a great feast and gifts. What are you going to give me?"
"I… I had not thought on it, Your Grace" she answered softly.
Joffrey wielded in words like a weapon, "You don't think at all do you? You're truly a stupid girl, even my mother says so. She worries about our children, whether they'll be stupid like you… but I told her not worry herself."
"Thank you, Your Grace," she murmured despite being hurt by his comments. Queen Cersei had always been kind to her and it pained her to know how she felt about her.
"Yes, I'll put a son in you as soon as you've had your blood. If the first one is stupid, I'll chop of your head and find a smarter wife. Do you understand?"
Sansa did not look at him but answered, "Yes, Your Grace."
He led her into the gatehouse and to where the steps that led up to the battlements. When they had reached the top, the wind made loose strands of her hair fly. Elyana had said that King's Landing was a cage but she only understood her now. In sudden realization, Sansa jerked back and gasped. She knew where he was taking her, she knew what would be there. "No, please, no. Please, don't make me, I beg you-"
"I want to show you what happens to traitors."
From the high walls of the gatehouse, Sansa could see the entire city but she did not look at the city. She looked north for far beyond the city, beyond the forests and towns and harbours was Winterfell. The thought of the snow and her family eased her pain but not her yearning. She had never wanted to go home as much as she had now.
"What are you looking at?" Joffrey snapped. "This is what I want you to see, look. Look, right here. This one is your father."
Sansa went to step away but was held back and forced to look in the direction that he was pointing in. It did not look like Eddard Stark, it did not look real or like her father. Nonetheless, she wanted to cry as she looked at him. She spoke weakly, "You promised to be merciful."
"I was. I gave him a clean death… Look at him!" He bellowed but Sansa could not bear to look any longer.
"Please let me go home. I won't do any treason, I swear."
"Mother says I'm still to marry you. So you'll stay here and obey… Look at him!" Sansa obeyed and took another long look at the head in front of her. The King seemed amused, "Well?"
She whispered, "How long do I have to look?"
"As long as it pleases me. Do you want to see the rest? There's a long row of them."
Please, please, please let them people I do not know, she prayed. Sansa did not want to see any more death but if the heads of those she cared for graced the spikes then she would surely die too. She hadn't directly heard from her family nor had she heard from the princess. In truth, she knew her family was safe – wherever they were. She had heard of Robb's army and that Elyana was with him but she was still scared. I betrayed her, Sansa condemned herself, I told the Queen what she was doing. Perhaps she was caught and murdered like her father had been or perhaps she was truly there with her brother. With concealed revulsion Sansa nodded, "If it pleases Your Grace then I will see the rest."
Joffrey marched her down the path and past more heads and three empty spikes. He stopped her there and pointed again, "That's your septa. See those empty places? I'm saving those for my uncles. One for Renly and another for Stannis… do you know who the third is for?"
Sansa shook her head despite knowing the answer. Joffrey smiled fiendishly, "That's for my sister, Elyana. You see, she may be my sister but that doesn't excuse her traitorous actions. I intend for her to suffer more than the others for betraying me… She was your friend, wasn't she? I heard she's married to your brother now too, that makes you sisters… You know, you haven't said what you're getting me for my name day yet. Perhaps I should give you something, would you like that?"
"If it pleases you, Your Grace."
He continued to smile maliciously, "Your brother is a traitor too. After my name day feast, I'm going to raise a host and make my sister watch as I kill him. Then I'll kill her and that's what I'll give you, Lady Sansa. Their heads."
A wrathful sort of courage took over her, "Or maybe they'll give me yours."
"My mother tells me a King should never strike his lady," A nerve throbbed in his forehead as he glared at her. He spoke without compassion, "Ser Meryn."
The knight grabbed her struck her twice across the face. Sansa could taste blood and the salt of tears. She looked at where Joffrey stood darkly. All it took was one shove in the wrong direction and then this would be over. She could do it, she could push him. It wouldn't matter if she fell too or if she was killed after, it would be worth it. Sansa moved forward but before anything could happen, she was grabbed and with a cloth, the Hound delicately dabbed her lip. "Here, girl."
"Will you obey now? Or do you need another lesson?" Seemingly bored, Joffery looked away from her. "I'll see you in court."
Sansa did not reply as he walked off but heard someone else speak, "Save yourself some pain, girl. Give him what he wants."
Sansa stared up at the heads before her and felt more tears running down her cheek. A cool breeze hit her. If she closed her eyes, she could pretend she was in Winterfell and that nothing had happened. That was just a fantasy though, it was nothing more than a story now. Her family was scattered and everything was different. Despite this, Sansa felt a small inkling of hope. Robb and Elyana had an army. Perhaps one day they would come for her, perhaps one day they would rescue her and take her home. There was still time and all she had to do was wait for them. Yes, Sansa thought with some strength, I can wait and give Joffrey what he wants for now. Sansa turned away from heads, a thought beginning to form in her mind. One day, Robb and Elyana would come for her and then, at last, she would be free and able to go home. She would wait, however long it took. They would come for her.
XXVIII – Tyrion
"They have my son," Tywin Lannister said.
They have one of your sons, Tyrion thought as he took a sip of wine. They had marched south for days on end in rushed attempt to regroup, losing men as if it was routine and it was all for nothing. They had received word that despite their tireless efforts, Robb Stark had already taken Riverrun days ago. Although his brother was captured and Lannister men were butchered, Tyrion felt a small form of admiration for the boy. He had certainly proved them all wrong but perhaps that was the influence of his new bride. Even a blind man could see the way his niece affected others and Robb Stark being a prime example of her power. He always loved Elyana, the girl was a dark horse much like himself and he always expected greatness from her. The rumour that she was elected queen by an adoring and extraordinarily loyal group of men and women hardly surprised him. Only a fool would think Joffrey a better leader than her and Tyrion Lannister was no fool.
"The Stark boy appears to be less green than we'd hoped… and our dear Elyana had proven herself quite the influential figure," Tyrion said slowly.
"I've hear his wolf killed a dozen men and as many horses."
"They came at night and from every side," Ser Kevan Lannister added promptly. "I doubt the wolf did much. The Tully's flung rocks from catapults on their walls, the Blackfish led the van and cleared the way for the main assault and the Stark and Baratheon forces pushed from either side. It was a bloody slaughter."
"How could this happen?" Ser Harys Swyft wailed. "Renly Baratheon and Robert's daughter have taken up arms against us, Stannis Baratheon has left Dragonstone, we are cut off from the west, Ser Jaime is taken and his armies scattered or defeated… this is a catastrophe! They can march on Casterly Rock if they choose to, and what's to stop them? Perhaps we should sue for peace."
"Peace?" Tyrion threw his empty goblet to the floor and watched as the men stared at it shatter into pieces. "There's your peace. Joffrey saw to that when he decided to ornate the Red Keep with Ned Stark's head. You'll have an easier time drinking from that cup than you will brining Robb Stark to the table now. Besides, he is married to my niece and that girl is as intelligent as she is likeable. Elyana would never let him walk into such a thing, not without being one step ahead first. Which they are now. They're winning… in case you hadn't noticed."
"Two battles do not make a war," Ser Addam Marbrand insisted. "We are far from lost. I should welcome the chance to try my own steel against this Stark boy."
"I'm told we have his sisters. Perhaps we should consent to a truce and trade prisoners."
"We must ransom Ser Jaime, whatever the cost," Lord Lefford said.
"No. No truces. We can't afford to look weak, that Baratheon girl is already making the smallfolk and lords loathe us. If she stirs them even more, we'll have a full-fledged revolt on our hands. We ought to march on them at once," Ser Addam said unwaveringly.
Ser Harys began, "First we must return to Casterly Rock to raise-"
"They have my son!" Lord Tywin Lannister rose and roared. "Get out, all of you. Not you."
Tyrion stopped in his tracks speechless before easing himself into a seat next to his father. He poured him a new cup of wine and passed it to him as he seated himself.
"You were right about Eddard Stark. If he were alive, we could have used him to broker a peace with Winterfell and Riverrun, which would have given us more time to deal with Renly. Truthfully, no one knows what Stannis is playing at but it can only be assumed that he's preparing for war. The girl would have fallen into place for a time if Eddard Stark was alive but now… madness… madness and stupidity," he eyed his son. "I always thought you were a stunted fool. Perhaps I was wrong."
"Half wrong. I'm new to strategy."
"Yes… Our situation is worse than you know. It seems we have a new king and it doesn't help that my granddaughter seems to continuously gather support. If the northerners truly declare her their monarch, this kingdom will be on the verge of ruin."
"Take heart, father. If it comes to it, I'm sure Elyana will prove a just ruler. I'm more interested in this new king. Who is it now?" Tyrion arched a brow.
"The eunuch has heard whispers from the south. Renly Baratheon wed Margaery Tyrell at Highgarden this fortnight past since Elyana has the support of some of the Storm Lords. Now he has claimed the crown. The bride's father and brothers have bent a knee and sworn him their swords."
"How is King Joffrey taking the news?"
"Cersei had not seen fit to tell him yet," Tywin said stiffly. "He's already planning on attacking his sister and the northerners, she fears he might insist upon marching against Renly too."
"With what army? You don't plan to give him this one, I hope?" Tyrion jested.
"No. He talks of leading the City Watch… leaving the city undefended and with Lord Stannis on the move…"
He finished his father's sentence with dryly, "He could take the city. Perhaps Stannis is the greater danger than all the others combined. Either way, Robb and Elyana Stark will have Edmure Tully and the lords of the trident now… their force must be exceeding our own now. And with Renly behind us and Stannis moving away from Dragonstone… I fear we might be caught between three armies. It appears we can't stay here anymore."
"No one will stay here. Ser Gregor will head out with 500 riders and set the Riverland on fire from God's Eye to the Red Fork. The rest of us will regroup at Harrenhal," Tywin took a sip of wine before placing the goblet down roughly. "And you will go to King's Landing."
Tyrion was lost, his brow furrowed and his voice riddled with confusion. That was the last thing he had expected, "And do what?"
"Rule," Tywin said curtly. "You will serve as Hand of the King in my stead. You will bring that boy King to heel and his mother too, if needs be. And if you get so much as a whiff of treason from any of the rest: Baelish, Varys, Pycelle…"
He sighed, "Heads, spikes, walls. Why not my Uncle? Why not anyone? Why me?"
"You're my son."
Tyrion knew then that his father had thought his brother dead and wanted to slap him yet he sat silent and still. Perhaps it was best if his niece destroyed them all, perhaps this kingdom would be a better place without their family. He was not humbled or grateful for the role his father had been so quick to bestow upon him but at least now he had power to change things. Tyrion thought of his niece, the dark-haired girl that he had grown to love as they spent days and nights talking and laughing. She was a traitor now and would surely face the same fate that Ned Stark had if Cersei did not stop her son. Tyrion had power now and thought to himself that perhaps he can shield the girl. He did not care for Robb Stark but Elyana was his blood and though she had defied her brother, she did not deserve to die. Yes, that was what he would do and in time, perhaps his actions would pay off. Or perhaps it would merely deter the inevitable for a short time. She's a wolf now, Tyrion thought, and she may yet destroy us all.
XXVIII – Elyana
Elyana stood outside Riverrun alone and glared at the wrinkled letter in her hand. It was perhaps the third of fourth time she had read it and yet the words still wounded her. No, no, no this isn't supposed to happen, she had cried out in her mind despite keeping a strong front. Whether it was due to the news she received or another reason, Elyana felt sick. Dark wings, dark words, she had once heard someone say. In truth, Elyana had anticipated fighting Joffrey and it made no difference to her, there was no love lost between them. Perhaps it was a misinformed and childish notion but she expected her uncles to see her claim and fall in line, she was a Baratheon after all, she was their blood. Never had she imagined having to fight them. Walder Frey had wanted the Stormlands and although Elyana was hesitant to take the land away from own house and uncle, she was left with no choice now. So long as Renly called himself a king, she could not be his ally.
To my beloved niece,
Sweet Elyana, your unwavering courage and sense of duty both inspires and warms me. You need not apologise for your actions, had I been in your situation I would have done the same thing. Perhaps if I was there to begin with I would have thrown my lot in with you dear niece but unfortunately, I was not. You are and have always been such a charming girl, Elyana but surely you of all people know that a girl cannot rule this kingdom. Your heart is in the right place though and the Lannisters are without a doubt our true enemy. If we unite, we can easily overthrow them. That is, if we united under my name. I have declared myself king and recently wed Margaery Tyrell, earning the support of the Reach. If you and those loyal to you join my cause, I swear by the gods that you will be rewarded. I will let you and your lord husband rule the North and the Riverlands and you may even keep your titles if swear fealty to me. My dear girl, I hope you can recognize and understand my claim. We will always be allies by blood and affection, Elyana, do not forget that.
Take care, sweet niece,
She read the letter one last time before ripping it into pieces for the wind to take away from her. She watched silently as the small pieces drifted further away, rising and falling. War was a wretched thing that inflicted pain and suffering upon all but she would not let it compromise who she was. If her uncles did not stand with her then they stood against her. Renly and Stannis could declare her a traitor and plot to eliminate her but she would not harm them. They were not allies but they were her blood, her uncles whom she loved and respected and had never plotted against her family – their family. I will not kill them, she vowed, I will not become that kind of queen.
The sky had darkened and it was time for Elyana to return to the castle yet she did not move. She watched the sky with an unwavering gaze. Soft clouds rolled through the heavens and the skies changed colours, melting from one shade to another. Without thinking, she placed a hand on her stomach as an inane little smile crept upon her lips. It was not one of delight or melancholy but rather something in-between. If such beauty could exist in such dark times then perhaps there was hope for them all. Elyana dropped her hand and turned on her heel, passing through the camps set up around the castle and the boisterous soldiers scattered around them. Riverrun was alive and Elyana had not realised how loud a triumphant army could be until then. Soldiers bowed their heads and offered her wide grins, most called her 'my lady' and others 'my Queen'. It was a curious thing, the northerners treated her with respect and seemed to have accepted her but she was not yet their queen. She was a queen who was not the queen yet to them. Oftentimes she had to remind herself that this was the challenge and the burden she had willingly accepted.
As she drew closer to the castle, Elyana had to stop in her tracks at one point. On the ground, shackled and guarded, was the uncle she once held dearly. His armour was soiled and he did not look like a handsome knight anymore. Jaime Lannister was not a broken man yet but he would be in time. She would be lying to herself if she said she did not pity him. Perhaps pity was why her feet led her to him. As she turned away from the castle and to her uncle, the guards visibly straightened their backs and stopped conversing.
Elyana smiled at them and noticed her uncle stir and sit up, "Apologies for interrupting. I was wondering if I may have a word with Ser Jaime."
"My lady, I don't know if it's safe for you to be around the Kingslayer," the green-eyed guard looked at the older guard before continuing. "He's a violent one."
Looking over their shoulders, she saw that Jaime was observing her. She replied softly to the guards, "He's my uncle. I just need a few moments, you don't even have to leave the area."
"As you wish, my Queen. We shall not be far," The older guard responded with a bow, steering the other away with him.
The closer she got to Jaime, the worse he looked. He was still covered in dirt, the bloody gash upon his head was still there and he reeked of the worst things. Her nose scrunched up instinctively. He looked like a mere shadow of the man he truly was.
When she came to a halt before him, Jaime eyed her, looking her up and down. "You're looking exquisite, Elyana, almost glowing. You remind me so much of your mother, The Young Wolf is a lucky man to have you warming his bed. Had you not been my niece-"
"Thank you, uncle, for reminding me why I felt such an intense hatred for you," Elyana interrupted sharply. "Here I was pitying you. That was clearly wrong of me, you're disgusting. Why did I even think to come to you?"
"I'm wondering the same thing. Last we spoke you said you wanted me dead and that you'd send my corpse back to Casterly Rock, you're the last person I expected to come to me in the night. Is your boy not fulfilling your needs?"
"Enough, Jaime!" She snarled, glaring at the man. Elyana shook her head in disbelief, "Enough. We're at war, we've both said and done things against each other, indirectly or not. It doesn't mean we can't act civil. Gods be good, you're like a depraved child. Do you not remember what things were like before all this? We were friends, we were family."
"I haven't forgotten, Elyana. Everything has changed and you cannot expect me to look upon you tenderly as my niece when you ordered my capture, threatened to have me killed and turned against us. We're hardly family anymore, you know that better than I do. But all this doesn't matter though. You're acting as if I care, Elyana. I thought you were smarter than that, you should know better."
"You're right," she looked down at him. "You're so right. Everything has changed. Except for you. You've always been like this. It just wasn't clear to me before. You've always been a liar, murder and traitor. Pretend like you don't care all you want but there will be a day when you realise that things could have been vastly different if you stopped acting the fool and playing games. Time will pass, men will die, this war will end and long after you and I are gone the people will remember us as we were in our truest form. You will always be a liar, a murder, a traitor… and you will always be the Kingslayer."
Jaime stared up at her silently and without emotion. If she had struck a nerve within him, she would have been proud. That was the least of what he deserved. Elyana glared at him, she had been a fool to feel any sympathy for a murder. If he wasn't of use he would have been dead by now. His misdeeds will catch up to him, she told herself, he will pay for all the wrongs he has committed. With one final look of disapproval in her uncle's direction, Elyana turned on her heel but was stopped by his voice.
With her back facing him she listened to what he had to say, "Well done, Elyana. You've proven stronger than you look. Were you my own, I would be vaguely proud of you but you are not. I have no doubt your mother would be proud, in a twisted sort of way, and dare I say, your father would be too."
Elyana looked back at him and repeated his words, "You're acting as if I care, uncle. I thought you were smarter than that, you should know better."
As she walked away she heard a soft and brief chuckle from behind her. For but a moment, her lips quirked up and she felt as if the war had not yet started and all was well. She would never admit it but Elyana would always treasure the little gestures they had shared. The walk to the Great Hall was not a long one and once she was outside the hall, she could hear that the council had already begun. She slipped in silently, noting that on the high balcony sat Lord Hoster Tully who was fast asleep and beside him in the high seat, Edmure Tully and Bryden Blackfish beside him, both of them noticing her late entrance. There seemed to be more lords from the Riverlands present than she had thought but as she passed them, Elyana smiled courteously and nodded. There were a few empty seats near Robb and as was her place, she took the one beside him.
"My love," Robb spoke tenderly and smiled at her. He squeezed her hand, "I'm glad you came."
She returned his smile and teased, "I wouldn't be a very good queen if I missed this."
Around them sat the northern lords and her own men from the Stormlands and Crownlands. Aemon Estermont, Arstan Selmy and Anders Manderly moved from their seats to sit beside her. Elyana smiled at those who met her gaze but when she looked upon Lord Rickard Karstark, she felt a pang of remorse. Lifeless looking and gaunt in his seat, the man was clearly mourning the loss of his sons. She had spoken with him since the battle in the Whispering Wood and it was clear words did little to comfort him. The others did not seem to notice the man, that or they simply had no mind to give him attention. The lords argued and shouted and cursed and jested. Everything was happening in this council. They discussed how her Uncle Stannis had left Dragonstone some time ago, how Walder Frey still held the Twins and how Tywin Lannister had crossed the Trident and was making for Harrenhal. Elyana sat quietly and listened the entire time, absorbing every word. Then they came to the topic that made Elyana rigid in her seat. There was one queen and two kings in the realm and no agreement upon who they truly supported.
Lord Jonos Bracken rose, "Forgive me, Lady Elyana but the proper course is clear: Pledge fealty to King Renly and move south to join our forces with his."
Elyana stared at the wooden floors as if it had offended her but then Robb spoke up and spoke firmly, "Renly is not the king."
"You cannot mean to hold Joffrey, my lord," Galbart Glover said. "He put your father to death."
"Joffrey is not the king either," Robb scowled. "There isn't an ounce of Baratheon blood in him. King Robert has one heir that I know off and she sits beside me. Had my father been here, we would not be arguing it. Elyana has proven herself worthy countless times, are we so quick to forget this?"
Although warmed by Robb's words, Elyana knew that it did not mean much. He was her husband and because of that, his argument would not be taken as seriously as it should have. Arstan Selmy nodded his head furiously and roared over the others, "Lord Renly was a decent man but there is a reason I do not stand with him today. There is a reason so many of the lords from the Stormlands do not stand with him! Our Queen Elyana is the only rightful monarch in the kingdom. You lords were not there when she had won us, you did not see and hear what we did. Queen Elyana did not run and hide like Renly or murder innocents like Joffrey! She has revealed the lies we were fed and she has fought for justice. What do these kings fight for? What have they done for you? These men wouldn't even give you the time of day and yet my Queen sits amongst you!"
Ser Stevron Frey smiled like a weasel, "A just reason, Lord Arstan but my lord father would urge caution. We ought to wait, let the two kings fight and when they are done – perhaps we will choose who to follow or who to oppose. With Renly arming, it's likely Lord Tywin would welcome a truce… and safe return of his son."
There seemed to be a general uproar of disapproval that drowned out his voice. "Craven!" Greatjon yelled. "Begging for a truce will make us seem weak!" declared Lady Mormont. "Ransoms be damned, we must not give up the Kingslayer!" Rickard Karstark shouted.
"Why not peace?" Lady Catelyn asked.
Shockingly, the room was silenced to some degree and every eye was upon Lady Stark. Elyana felt for her but was glad that the scrutiny of the lords was shifted away from her. Robb spoke to his mother grimly, "They murdered my father, your husband."
"Your Grace, you have not said a word. Surely you would have some wisdom to offer?" Anders said loud enough for the other lords and ladies to look upon her once again. Elyana stared at him quietly. You must speak now, the voice in her mind said, you have to speak.
Elyana looked around the room and then spoke powerfully and clearly, "Peace is not an option. Did Aerys Targaryen not think the war was over before Jaime Lannister murdered him? We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past, the Lannisters cannot be trusted with a truce."
Her opinion was met with lurid approval. It seemed as if her allies in the Great Hall wanted her to speak as Mary Mertyns questioned her on a matter she knew the answer to. "And what of those who call themselves king, Your Grace?"
"I will not deny the claim Stannis and Renly have. They are older than me, they have experience and perhaps they will prove to be fine leaders but this kingdom is mine by birthright. I have a duty as heir of Robert Baratheon and that is to rule. My lords and ladies, I will not tell you to make me your queen for none of those who have given me their support were told to do so. It was by their choice that I was elected," Elyana felt tired of sitting, she needed to stand and make her voice heard. "Think what you will of my uncles, they are rulers in their own right but what do they fight for? A throne? Power? I have known some of you for months, others for years and you know me. I am a Baratheon and my father's heir by blood but make no mistake of it, winter runs through my bones. I am a Stark just as much as I am a Baratheon and it is my duty to serve and honour every one of you, whether you call me queen or not."
"My lords! Here is what I say to these kings!" Greatjon Umber rose and spat on the ground. "Who are they to me? Why should rule over me and mine from some flowery seat in Highgarden? What do they know of the Wall of the wolfswood or the barrows of the First Men? Even their gods are wrong!"
The hall erupted with laughter but Greatjon continued, "Why shouldn't we rule ourselves again? It was the dragons we bowed to and now the dragons are dead!" The large man drew his greatsword and pointed at her and Robb. "There sits the only King and Queen I mean to bend my knee to… The King and Queen in the North!"
He knelt and laid his sword at their feet. Rickard Karstark rose with vigour and knelt beside the Greatjon, "I'll have peace on those terms. They can keep their Red Castle and their Iron Chair too. The King in the North! The Queen in the North!"
"The Queen of Winter!" Maege Mormont declared as she laid her mace beside the swords. Robb stood up in a start, watching as men and women began to bow before him. "The King of Winter!"
Theon rose and approached him, "Am I your brother, now and always?"
"Now and always."
He took her back when he turned to her, "And Elyana, am I your friend and loyal ally, now and always?"
"Now and always, my friend," Elyana smiled wolfishly.
"Then my sword is yours, in victory and defeat – from this day until my last day."
"The King in the North! The Queen in the North!"
The river lords and the storm lords were rising too, Blackwood and Bracken and Selmy and Estermont. Men and women were dropping to their knees and laying their swords down on the ground, shouting and declaring them their leaders. They shouted old words that had not been heard for years, they called them names that had not rung in halls since Aegon the Dragon came to the Seven Kingdoms. Elyana looked at Robb, observing as he stood firmly and watched their people swear fealty to them. For the second time, Elyana stood before men and women that proclaimed her their leader, their words ringing from the timbers of the Great Hall. But this time, she was not alone. No, she was not alone at all.
"The Storm Queen!"
"The King in the North!"
"The King of Winter!"
"The Queen in the North!"
Then, amidst the booming voices of men and women, came the sound of horns. It was not the sound of peace or celebration but of war. As if second nature, the lords and ladies rose and scrambled to get their weapons. The shouts of declaration turned to shouts of preparation for battle. The look on Robb's face changed as he too grabbed his sword and moved swiftly to exit the hall. Perhaps it was the thrill of the unknown or perhaps she was merely tired of sitting back but Elyana moved with the lords and ladies, weaving through them with ease. Once they were out of the castle, Elyana saw the men screaming to fall back and running to grab their weapons. It was chaos and she was in the middle of it. I cannot stand idly by any longer, I cannot. She had managed to take a soldiers bow and quiver to arm herself and moved with Ser Anders beside her.
"Elyana Baratheon!" A voice called from a distance. "Elyana Baratheon!"
In that moment, fear did not find her. Despite the calls from her own telling her to stay back, Elyana moved through the soldiers to meet the man who called her. With an arrow knocked and ready to shoot, she moved forward ready to kill but stopped in her tracks when she was them. There were banners she recognized but one stood out. None of the men moved, it was as if there was a ceasefire before a battle had truly begun. Still ready with an arrow pointed at whoever made a move, Elyana listened as the voice called out for her again.
"El! Don't!" Robb screamed from a distance but Elyana moved forward
All it took was one more call for her to realise who it was, "Elyana Baratheon!"
Elyana lowered her bow for a moment, thinking her eyes had deceived her. She turned to her men and shouted as loud as she possibly could, "Stand down! Stand down!"
Anders began to yell for her, "Fools! Lower your weapons! Stand down!"
Weapon in hand, Elyana drew in closer to the small but fearsome looking army before her. She stopped at a safe distance and raised her bow again. An unmistakable tall and broad shouldered figure stepped forward with a few men following him, they both remained at a distance from each other but she could see him now. She called out for him as he had for her, "Stannis?"
Her uncle did not smile nor did he seem to take lightly to the armed men behind her yelling and shouting. Without thinking, Elyana moved close enough for him to hear her clearly or execute her easily. Her voice was riddled with confusion, "Have you come to kill me, uncle?"
"Kill you? You're Robert's daughter, there's no denying that. Always quick to assume and draw weapon. I thought you wiser than your father," Stannis spoke in a strict tone as he stared at her. Her uncle's face had an unyielding tightness to it that made it impossible for him to either smile or lie, should he ever wish to. "I've spent weeks tracking you and days searching for you. You're a child but I hear you've been calling yourself a queen. I ought to send you back to your home, war is no game for a child. But you're a Baratheon, my brother's daughter... and the heir to the throne. I'm not here to murder you, Elyana. I'm here to join you."
A/N: We've finally reached the end of season one! I do hope you all enjoyed this chapter and liked the conclusion to the season! I certainly loved writing this one, it's definitely been one of my favourites so far. I am taking another minor break (a few weeks tops) although don't be surprised if you see me posting chapters during this said break, it's so much fun to write this story and I don't know about you guys but I'm pumped for what's to come!
I'd like to thank all of you who have stuck with this story and supported it through the thick and thin. I always say it and I always mean it, you're absolutely wonderful! I know it can get a little boring and predictable since I've stuck with the main storyline but I like to think that the first season provided a great foundation that could be built upon from here onwards. There were two things I wanted to do when I started Kingdom Come – I wanted to develop a decent and believable character who in turn was a source of gradual change. I apologise some of you wanted more of a deviation from the canon storyline earlier but for that to happen I feel as if the character development (of Elyana in particular) would have been sacrificed and looking back, I feel as if I made the right choice choosing development over big changes.
Nevertheless, thank you for your constant support and kind words. To know that others are enjoying this as much as I am is a wonderful thing and I sincerely hope that I can continue to ensure that you're all enjoying the ride!
Do let me know what you're thinking, if you liked/disliked this chapter or what your thinking will come next! Good or bad, it's always wonderful to hear from you all! x