Benjen woke up, what he considered early for himself. He dressed and went outside his tent just as the sun was rising, but no one else was awake yet. Or neither Brandon or Ned wanted to leave their tents. Their first two days there Lyanna had been with one of them, and he’d been the last one out of his tent with threats from Brandon they’d leave him behind. Without Lyanna to intervene between them, it looked like they weren’t going to talk to each other. So, without anyone else awake he went back into his tent. She was still sleeping soundly, and he really didn’t want to wake her. He thought about writing to one of his friends, but decided on a book instead. It felt like hours passed before he heard anything. Even then it was quiet things, like rustling of the tents the soles of their boots hitting the ground. There was no small talk, not even a whisper. The tent opened and Brandon scoffed.
“What are you doing?”
“I was reading, Lyanna is still sleeping.”
He seemed surprised, then he looked over to her and back at Benjen. “Wake her up and tell her to get ready.” He started to walk away, only Benjen chased after him.
“What?” Ned asked them both.
“She’s still sleeping.” Brandon replied. Then he turned to Benjen, “I told you to wake her.”
“What do you mean how? She can’t be hard to wake up, she’s usually up with the sun.”
He stared at Brandon, who just crossed his arms and waited. Then back to Ned, he sighed and shook his head. “I’ll do it then.”
Benjen smiled. “Just be careful, I haven’t seen her dagger. It might be under her pillow…”
Ned sighed. “I had planned on doing it gently.”
“…..You’re afraid of our sister?”
“Not of our sister, but the dagger. You gave her a wheatstone, she sharpens it as often as she can….”
Their voices trailed off as he went into the tent, sure enough she was still sleeping he shook her once and said her name, and her eyes fluttered open. She smiled at him and rubbed her eyes.
“Is he yelling at Ben?”
“He’s teasing him, are you feeling ill?”
“I’m fine…Just a little tired.” She yawned.
He sighed. “What did you two talk about? Were you two trying to out scare each other with stories again?”
She giggled. “We haven’t done that in years.”
For a moment she almost thought of telling him. She wanted to, she wanted to tell him the prince had given her a sweet little letter and she’d met with him. They talked, and shared stories, and that they were friends. But he was her older brother, and he was that before he was her friend. He wouldn’t like that she snuck off, especially after she told her father she would be obedient. But he knew something had happened. She did the only sensible thing she could think of, she threw her arms around him and hugged him.
“I’m fine. I.. I was just thinking it would be fun to see Brandon and Robert joust. But he’s going to joust with the prince tomorrow so he could hardly challenge someone who would be a challenge today.”
“I’ll let him know you would like to see him jousting.”
She smiled. “I’ll be out as soon as I’m dressed. I’d better hurry too, else Brandon will yell at me.”
“He needs to yell at all of us at least once a day, or else he doesn’t feel he’s in charge.”
She giggled. “Your quoting the wisest person you know.”
“I don’t know about wisest. Surely, the friendliest, sweet lady I know.”
“Is that what you told my betrothed? Surely I’ll meet him yet…”
He took her hands and held them, then looked into her eyes. “Brandon doesn’t think it’s proper without Father. I have tried to convince him that if I’m there he would behave like he is around our Father. Brandon insists he doesn’t like the look in his eyes. He sees a man who very much wants to be around you. Which I told him should be the case. I would be disappointed if he didn’t want to be around you, he’s very quick to win friends, as are you. He might just think you’re going to run off.”
“Direwolves should not be chained.”
He smiled. “I don’t try to tell you what to do. I suggest what you should do, then we find somewhere in between to meet.” He took her hands and smiled at her. “You always want to do the right thing. But you also want to do as you like. I don’t want to ever see the day when you’re forced to chose between the two.”
“I pray for the day all of you realize it’s the same thing.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Despite all of their difficulties with each other she did genuinely like Brandon. She fell into an easy pace with him her arm around his as he lead the way to the jousting. Ned had told her he’d see if Robert had been planning on entering. He had told her he liked the thrill of riding into battle, he would love to joust. But he would love the Melee more, so he would take her to the melee if she really wanted to see it. Just in case though, she had begged Brandon to let them go back to their camp and get one of the ribbons she wore for riding. If he was going to joust, it was only proper she should give him her favor.
“If he doesn’t joust I hope your not too disappointed.” He said. “I don’t want to hear you complain.”
“There isn’t any reason for me to complain. I’ll see him at the melee.”
“Until you get scared because you realize it’s all blood and smashing. He’s an idiot for saying he’d take you. You don’t usually turn away from blood but that will be too much for you. He wields a warhammer. He’ll crush everyone else.”
She sighed and tossed her hair. “You’re just afraid he’ll hurt you. Don’t be scared Brandon I’ll tell him to be gentle with my brothers.”
“You’re so witty…I hope he appreciates your sharp mouth.”
She looked round in the crowd, for anyone they knew. She glanced over countless faces, some she’d seen there before. Some were new, yet there wasn’t anyone she thought she knew. Brandon seemed to be doing the same, and he was dragging her in the he wanted to go. She stopped for a moment and smiled. “That’s Jon Arryn.”
“Sitting with some of those Northern men. Is Ned with them?”
“Eddard and Benjen went to something else. Something stupid…Where do you see Lord Arryn?”
“Where our banner is hanging.” She explained. “Look there, then up a few rows of people he’s between our banner and his. Talking to our bannermen. He’s on your squire’s left….”
“You’re sure that’s him?”
“It is. Ned introduced us. If he looks over here I’ll wave at him and you’ll know. Because he’ll wave back.”
Brandon scoffed. “Any man is going to wave back at a pretty lady. He looks old…older than father…”
“You haven’t met him?”
“I did when I was young. All the better you went back for that ribbon. It will please father if he were to write that you gave Robert Baratheon your favor. It will make you seem like a proper lady, for once.” She glared at him and stomped on his foot. “Do not make me look the fool in front of Lord Arryn.”
“Then stop mocking me.” She pulled away from him and crossed her arms. “I hadn’t said anything about you while we were watching the tourney.”
“You’re always saying something about me.”
“He didn’t ask about you. He told me a few things on Robert, assured me that Ned would never lie to me. The only thing I can even remember mentioning is I am excited to see you joust against the Prince.” She sighed. “You always make me sound like I hate you, I love you. You’re my brother, I would never say anything to make you seem awful.”
He looked at her in disbelief and sighed. “You’re sure that’s Jon Arryn?”
“I am positive. Do you want me to approach him? Just incase?” She teased.
He took her arm and stomped over. “If it’s a mistake, I’ll blame Ethan.”
“You blame everything on your poor squire.” She scolded.
He looked over at the men, and his squire ran over and smiled at him. Lyanna smiled and giggled as he tried his best to look more mature and introduce Brandon. Then her brother stepped forward let go of her arm and shook Jon Arryn’s hand. They talked for a few minutes on the weather, the general state of Harrenhal and the tourney. In the meantime she looked back to the field and tried to look for a face she recognised.
“Were you going to stay after they’re done?” Ethan asked her. “Benjen and I were going to try at jousting.”
“It depends. I don’t think Brandon trusts me enough to sit where he can see me, unless he can also keep me from trouble.”
“Well, Ned would let you if you asked. He’s the one who’s going to sit with you after all.”
“I’ll stay to watch the two of you. But he isn’t much for jousting.”
“Lord Arryn said Lord Robert Baratheon would be jousting.”
She smiled and turned back to Brandon. He was smiling, and nodding in agreement to whatever had just been said. Then Ethan Glover had called to her, they went closer to the field and he pointed to a man on a horse draped in black and gold. She smiled and leaned in closer.
“Robert had agreed to joust. Ned told him your sister was looking forward to seeing him. He was disappointed the prince hadn’t wanted to add him to the list of people facing him tomorrow. He declined very politely. But Robert didn’t want to disappoint his lady. I had hoped for the occasion we could all sit together?” She heard Jon Arryn say as the approached.
She knew he’d been asking Brandon. He could hardly refuse a Lord. Then again, Robert was also a Lord. He had been persistent in not letting him come around.
It wasn’t long before he’d noticed her looking his way. Maybe before they’d come he’d showed the squire a signal. He looked over at her and she smiled and waved. Brandon was still conversing with Jon Arryn he considered himself to be a lord, so he conversed with any lord that would allow him. Robert likely took that into consideration. His horse broke into a trot and he came to her.
“Lord Baratheon.” She smiled. They hadn’t lied to her, he was nice to look at. His coal black hair, and those eyes, a cool blue like the ocean.
“My Lady Lyanna.”
She reached into her cloak and pulled out the ribbon. “My Lord, it would be an honor to me if you would wear my house colors.” He couldn’t resist the look in her grey eyes as she asked, there was just a hint of playfulness there. She leaned over and he held his arm steady as she tied it to his arm. “I hope it brings you luck.”
He smiled, it was a smile that would melt a girl’s heart. One he could have used countless times on other ladies. But her heart wouldn’t be won with smiles and kind words. She was a challenge. She didn’t want someone simple, she wanted someone complex, like her. She wanted the impossible, she wanted adventure. Someone who’d give her the world. She longed for adventure, class, conversations, songs and games. Things that had been denied to her for years.
“I’m only jousting one person. Maybe after we could….”
She smiled at him, hoping he’d ask to go riding. They could race around Harrenhal and in the woods, like she had with the prince only it would be more proper. But Brandon had noticed her absence, and in a few quick steps he was at her side.
“Lord Robert.” Brandon greated. Then a horn sounded.
“Brandon Stark.” He held out his hand and they shook. “Good luck tomorrow against the Prince. You’ve been holding a lance longer than him, teach him he should go back to those books of his.”
They both laughed, but she hadn’t found it funny. Ned had told her Robert was good at making friends. It might just be an act, he’d likely heard how Brandon had been feeling about Prince Rhaegar. His was using the bad feelings Brandon had about him to his advantage. But there was no easy way to get on Brandon’s good side. The only thing Brandon looked for in his companions was loyalty. She glanced over at her brother then back to Lord Robert.
Brandon stroked her hair and sighed. “I hope she wasn’t a bother.”
“Oh never.” He replied quickly. “I had hoped we could spend a little time alone. Even if just to…ease into our betrothal. Ned says she’s very outspoken. I wouldn’t mind hearing what she has to say.”
Brandon turned to her, she smiled at him encouragingly at him. He shook his head and sighed. “Our father gave us strict rules. He’s very protective, but if you’d like you could stop by our camp later. We could all have a nice conversation, about your betrothal.”
Robert wasn’t happy with that answer. He looked back at Lyanna to see if she was feeling any disappointment. She only wore a small smile, then the horn sounded again. “They’re calling for me.” He reached for her hand and kissed it. “I’ll be looking forward to our time together.”
“As do I, my Lord.” she replied with confidence as Brandon took hold of her arm, so he could lead her back to their seats.
Their present company of Lord Arryn, his men at arms, and a few of their faithful squires, Brandon was on his best behavior. He was such a gentleman he helped her back to her seat and as they settled into the jousting. He would tell her who was jousting, if they were squires, Knights, or Lords. She stayed quiet, Jon Arryn used the time to talk to the men around him. She was fine with it, she kept her hands folded in her lap and listened, while her eyes were on the field. She couldn’t help but laugh when they did something poorly. If their stance was awful and they were going fast she would giggle and Brandon would glance over and scold her. But the first rounds were full of inexperiance, it happened so often Jon Arryn seemed to be amused. Brandon was forced to explain her unique disposition.
“She has an opinion on everything, try to ignore her. I am sorry. In her defence she is a fine rider. She could probably out ride some of your best men. Loves horses, always has, they seem to love her too. Her horse is the most absolutely spoiled thing I’ve ever seen. She spends more time with him than some Lords do with their own children.”
“Maybe we’ll let her try one day. The three of you are always welcome to the Vale anytime. Your brother would be pleased as well. Lady Lyanna, are you fond of hawking? Robert is fond of hunting, but we could hardly expect a sweet lady to go with him, even if Eddard is present.”
She smiled at him, it was so warm and genuine, Brandon rolled his eyes and intervene. “She’d like a hunt. She’s excitement at the thought of proving her strength. It isn’t very Lady like, but she plays the part well.”
“Robert would like that very much.” He replied wistfully. “He isn’t much for small talk or courting in the proper way. But it is good that you don’t have an adversity to shows of strength and are not squeamish about violence.”
“I do hope I please him.” She replied unsurely.
“I don’t doubt you will please him. I hope he pleases you.”
When Robert came to joust she took Brandon’s hand and smiled at him before turning back to the field expectantly. Jon Arryn also became silent, Brandon leaned in closer to his sister.
“What do you think of him?” He whispered.
“He is much like how Ned had described him. It doesn’t matter what I think after all, does it? Both you and father have told me that before. Lady Baratheon is the highest I can rise, and I’m very lucky he chose me.” She replied.
She watched the riders take their positions. Brandon sighed in frustration. “I don’t like how he called you over, or how he took your hand to kiss it.”
“I thought he was very kind. I don’t like the way he insulted the prince, it was rude, but men are often rude in competition. He wanted to make friends with you. Maybe you should talk with him.”
He shrugged. “I tried actually. Had a few drinks with him after you left with Eddard the other night. But, everything seemed came back to our brother. I’m not sure what to make of Lord Robert.”
Their squires fussed over the horses, checked the saddle and awaited anymore orders. “I don’t either. It seems he’s very jovial, I don’t think it’s a bad quality to have in a husband. But we’re looking for different things. It’s very hard to tell what you think is acceptable.”
“You remember how you blackmailed me, so you could come with us?” She only smiled in response. “I told father I thought if you met with him, and you saw what he wanted in his lady that it would finally force you to behave. From what I know so far I don’t think he’d give a damn if you ran on the field, threw him from his horse and jousted for him. So long as he’s getting something out of it.”
The two men on the field charged at each other and she thought on his words. There would be plenty she could give him, her affections, eventually children, it would only be proper to have several, their father had four. But there was a weariness in his voice that made her question if that was what he had meant. Surely, there was also something else that would make him happy about their marriage, else he wouldn’t have asked their father. Brandon turned his attention from the field and looked off into the distance.
“Almost late to his friend’s joust.” Brandon teased.
She glanced over for a second to look for Ned, but her eyes went back to the field the second he heard a lance crack between plates of armor. She held her brother’s hand tighter, Robert was still on his horse, the man he challenged was on the ground. Their eyes met and he put an arm around her in a comforting way.
“Is he all right? It sounded awful….but there isn’t any blood…”
“The lance might have gotten caught between metal plates of his armor. Or maybe the chainmail protected him. I doubt he’s really harmed too badly.” He said in an attempt to reassure her. “Things like that happen all the time, people fall the wrong way. Jousting is dangerous.”
The crowd seemed content with the victor, cheering and Robert liked the attention. This time Jon Arryn called to Brandon. “How is your sister?”
“She’s a little shaken. It’s the first time she’s seen someone be injured, if he has been. All it’s been really while she watched were a couple of lances getting caught in saddles and poor riding. She’s seen us practicing at Winterfell, but nothing like that.”
“She is a sweet lady.”
They turned their attention back to the field. The crowd had seemed to calm down and now a new rider was at the other end of the field. “I thought he said he was only jousting one man.”
“The winner keeps the challenges going. After the first few stupid jousts, it gets into who’s really good. Then if they keep winning, they can challenge more people. But you have to give everyone a chance anyway it’s only fair. That’s why you’re here now, and I’m staying a little longer. I want to have the honor of challenging the prince first.”
She looked over to where the King and the Prince were sitting. He seemed to be watching Robert a great deal more than she was. “What will you do if you manage to beat the Prince?”
Brandon shrugged. “The same things I always do. I’ll just have the satisfaction of knowing I’m better at jousting than he is.”
“What if he unseats you?”
He didn’t respond. He turned his attention back to the field. She turned back to Ned, he made his way toward them, or rather to Jon Arryn and his men. She watched the older man as he embraced him like a son and smiled. Brandon scoffed, she turned to look at him and he turned back to the field furious.
“You don’t have a reason to be mad at him. He’s seen you talk to many lords too. Let him help you.” She went to touch his hand and he pulled away.
“Don’t treat me like I’m an idiot. Watch your Lord, he’s jousting for you.”
“I don’t think it is for me. He seems happy enough to do it for himself. It’s just convenient that I’m here.” He still seemed to be sulking. “Thank you for bringing me, and for taking me back to camp.”
“It’s good he’s here. I’m in the next round of jousting. If he keeps winning, I might have to joust him too.”
She smiled. “Would it be bad of me to say that it would amuse me to see it? Your very good at jousting. I doubt he could beat you. He favors leaning a little left, If I were to joust, I think I would just lean in forward, Gives you more distance. Don’t you think?”
“But it sometimes leaves you off balance, and being off balance knocks you on the ground. If your horse had someone charging at him, he’d get spooked.”
“He did not!”
He turned to her, her eyes widened and the realization of what she had said. “I had meant to say he would not.” Her voice was shaky.
“I don’t want to hear it.” He told her in a low dangerous tone. “When were you jousting? Did you take my things?”
“I….I hadn’t been doing anything…”
“She and Benjen thought it would be funny.” Ned replied. “She’s been quite pleasant. Has she not? Not much arguing? She told me she’d be as sweet as could be for you today if I let her have a go. Benjen was careful, he knows better than to let her be hurt.”
“Don’t let her do it again. You know father doesn’t approve. If that’s how your friend chooses to spend time with her once they’re married I don’t care. But if she’s my responsibility, she does what boring simple ladies do.”
“Of course.” He sat next to Brandon and frowned. “He said he’d spoken to her. She must have made some impression on him. He asked if they could go riding together.”
“You told him no.” Brandon replied firmly.
“I told him she was to be chaperoned, like our father wanted. He hadn’t seemed pleased. I invited him to watch the jousting with us tomorrow. Or if he wanted he could share our table for a meal. I even told him he could stop by our camp later and she could share her poetry. But he hadn’t seemed interested in that either.”
“Well, he’s not taking her anywhere.” Brandon snapped.
“I didn’t say he was going to. Don’t be so angry, he only wants this.” He motioned to the field where Robert had won another match. “He wants to mess around with her, have a horse race, help her shoot a few arrows, show her he isn’t bad at axe throwing. It would keep you free the whole day.”
“I said no. She isn’t here to entertain him. I don’t give a damn if you want to take her to melee. Father said to protect her, to watch her, and if it left room she could meet him. He agreed to marry her, he doesn’t need to spend time with her now. He has his whole married life to play with her all he likes. She is my responsibility…”
Ethan Glover touched his shoulder and he stopped. “They’re allowing everyone to come get ready. This is the last joust for this portion.”
“I’ll be there in a moment.” He replied hotly. Then he looked back at his brother. “You have no authority over what she does. I do, I’m the eldest you listen to me. If you find it unreasonable you can go back to the Vale. I’ll take care of everything on my own, like I always do.” He left them there, and she slid closer to him.
“What was his problem? I was only suggesting the three of us look around the tourney. Tomorrow is the last day of jousting, what does he expect you to do after it’s done?”
“He does this all of the time with Benjen. You have to be clear and concise when you talk to Brandon. ‘It would be fun’, roughly translates to ‘we’re probably going to die.’”
“I still think it isn’t wrong for you to be around him.”
She leaned close to him and whispered. “It is getting boring.”
“I know.” He put an arm around her and rubbed her shoulder. “Just a little longer. I wanted to take you back to Benjen. The man from the Night’s Watch is a Bard. He and Benjen seemed to have become good friends.”
“Really and truly, he has fascinating stories to tell. We’ll try and find him tomorrow.”
She sighed. “You know, I know I shouldn’t but I really do hope Prince Rhaegar unhorses him.”
“Don’t say things like that.”
The two men took their positions and they held their lances high. She wrapped her arm around her brother’s and watched excitedly.
“Let’s make a bet, if Robert wins and he beats Brandon..” He started in little more than a whisper. “You have to pretend to be sad. But, if Brandon beats Robert, I’ll let you go on the field and yell at him. You can say something like, ‘Oh you go through all the trouble because he left me flowers. We could have shared them.’”
She started to giggle. “That sounds like something Ben would say. You didn’t make a bet with him did you?”
“I don’t gamble. The most dishonest thing you can expect me to do if bluff my way through some argument between you, and Brandon. Don’t make the same mistake with Father.”
She nodded, but was quiet.
He glanced back up, “Robert is looking at you.”
She smiled and waved. “I…I really don’t know what to do. Every match I’ve only watched. I haven’t done anything.”
They charged and somehow both men stayed steady despite the sound that one of them had been hit. “Do what you’d do for Brandon. Only instead of shouting ‘Winterfell’ yell ‘Storm’s End’. It’s all right to cheer for him, your betrothed.”
They took their positions again and she stood, he looked over at her one more time. Then they’d charged off again on their horses. “Storm’s End!” She cried.
The man fell into the dirt, and the clapping resumed he had been entertaining the crowd with the bows he made from his horse before. But now he’d come to where they were sitting and bowed to her. She smiled and clapped, she thought of moving closer toward him. But her brother had called back to her. She sat with him again as the cheering grew louder. Once it was quiet again she heard Jon Arryn’s voice. “Do you suppose he’ll fight your brother?”
“We’ll find out.” Ned replied reluctantly.
She hadn’t understood why they were fussing so much. Brandon could have been unseated just as easily by any of the other knights and lords he faced. She held Ned’s waterskin and sighed. Ethan checked him over four or five times. Making sure all of the belts were fastened, the the grey and white wouldn’t interfere and that his horse was in good shape. One fell, then two, three, and four. He’d taken them down easily and quickly. The only person she’d ever seen best her brother on a horse was herself, and the prince when they were having their race. Brandon had been boasting since he’d signed up for the jousting that he’d beat Prince Rhaegar. She assumed to get this far Robert was a good rider, but she didn’t think he stood a chance at beating her brother. If she showed any sign of being worried for them, Ned was worse. In the brief break he’d called over Robert’s squire and told him he wanted to speak with him. He’d come quickly and they seemed to have settled the conversation in a matter of seconds.
“I wouldn’t be worried. They’ll both be fine. Robert had already said he could wait until your wedding to have his chance at unseating the Prince.” Jon Arryn told her. “Besides, he knew the best course of action before they’d been given the chance to fight. It hadn’t had any interest in jousting until you mentioned it to Eddard. If it keeps you amused, and he has your attention it’s much more fun. But if there’s a moment it would turn to something bad…”
She smiled. “My Lord is very kind.”
“On occasion he can sort his problems on his own.”
They took their seats, and now the chatter had started and she heard whisper after whisper. They knew, they knew who she was. They knew it was going to be a battle between her brother and her betrothed. One Brandon knew he could win, he wasn’t inclined to give up for Robert. Not the glory, not the chance at facing the Prince. So they took their positions, but as soon as they were settled Robert threw down his lance. Then his helmet, and his gauntlets.
“I yield to you, Brandon Stark.” He said, in a loud commanding voice. “I can not bring myself to fight my brother. Soon our houses will be united by marriage, and I do not want us to start our union where one of us could be hurt. Especially in front of my sweet Lady. The gods saw fit I would win this far because of her favor, the only thing I value is her happiness.”
Everyone in attendance seemed overjoyed by his actions. The cheers were the loudest she’d heard. Then his squire came back onto the field, he reached down and lifted a large bouquet of flowers then he rode toward her. “Ned…”
“It’s all right if you take them. He bought them for you.”
So she stood up and walked over to him. He handed them to her. She smiled and cradled them in her arms. “Thank you my Lord….” He cut off what she would have said next when he leaned in to kiss her. She felt her heart stop, and she blushed profusely. She kissed men before, but not in front of a crowd of people, let alone two of her brothers. Her hold on the flowers shifted, because he made it become something much more involved than a light kiss. Her hands rested on his armor he held her up against the shock of it all. Once she regained some composure she realized he was calling to his squire. She looked to Brandon, but there was no emotion showing on his face. Which meant to her, he was clearly more angry than shocked. Then her eyes went to the Royal seating, to the Prince, he seemed un amused. He hadn’t clapped, but when his eyes met hers he tried to force a smile.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As promised she stayed behind with Brandon to watch Ethan and Benjen try at jousting. He shouted orders to them both, and they were doing relatively well against each other. Brandon watched, and he’d say one of the two were the winner, but he’d never let them really land a hit. Then he let them turn to do what they liked, and he sat with his sister once again.
“I would have beat him.”
“I don’t know what to think of him!” He complained. “I need to tell father something. To me it seemed like the only reason why he blew the match was so he could stick his tongue in your mouth!”
“It hadn’t been like that. I know, I was the one he was kissing after all. He hadn’t thought he’d win. The reason Ned was late was because he asked if he’d buy me flowers. He hadn’t meant to get as far as he did.”
They’d sat in silence for several minutes before she’d said anything again. She liked the moment of silence from his complaining, but she wanted to do something else. She had more than enough excitement from the joust today than most people had in their lifetime.
“Brandon.” She called.
He leaned in close to her and whispered in a dangerous tone. “Good, maybe it will cause you to behave.”
She shook her head. “You never listen to Father. He says I am more prone to misbehave if I’m bored.”
“You’ve complained on wanting to watch jousting, why is it upsetting you now?”
“They’re boring!” She whined. “You’ve nearly fallen asleep twice. Please oh please, can’t we do something else?”
It was true. He’d only stayed to give his Squire some instruction. He was eager to try and enter himself. Brandon had talked him out of it, saying most of the men were seasoned jousters, and it would be better for him to watch, then try things on his own. The next time there was a tourney he could try, and he would understand much more.
“All right, let’s go. They can handle things on their own.” He stood up and offered her his hand. She let him help her up, surprised by his courtesy. Then she glanced behind and saw two ladies, close to her own age eyeing her brother. She giggled and wrapped her arm around his, she also leaned into him.
“Don’t get so close.” He scolded. “You’ll make someone think you’re my lady.”
Quickly she turned back to the girls and called over to them. “He’s betrothed!”
“What are you doing?!?”
“Protecting your lady. I hear you’ve got a reputation. You may be watching me, big brother. But I’ll watch you too.” He sighed and shook his head, she continued. “Why isn’t she here? I would have liked to meet her.”
He shrugged. “Her brother is old enough to squire for me, not so much to protect her. Lord Tully could have asked me to take her, but he didn’t. It wouldn’t be very proper, as we are not yet married. Maybe he didn’t want her to come, or maybe she herself didn’t want to come.”
She smiled. “She likely wanted to come! I bet you won her heart with that duel. You still haven’t told me about it.”
“There isn’t much to tell.” He replied smoothly, trying to make it sound more interesting than it was.
“It would be so romantic. To have a man fight for his lady’s hand.” She replied wistfully.
“Tonight I’ll tell you then.”
They continued walking until she heard a roar of laughter. He tried to continue along his path, but she still held onto his arm.
“It’s a mummers show! Please? Brandon, it would be so much fun. Everyone thinks it’s funny!”
He sighed. “We’ll watch one…”
She giggled and led him to the crowd of people. They walked around a few times, each time she thought she found a place, something would happen so she couldn’t see. Finally once she found a place she turned her interest to the actors. But it was coming to an end, Brandon smirked.
“I said one.”
“But it’s not fair!” She complained. “One more after this. A whole show they’ve put together.”
“It was a jape. If I didn’t allow you to stay you would cry to Eddard and Father would yell at me.”
She watched the next play unfold, and took his arm again. Three of the performing men gathered together then came back wearing a dragon costume.She started to giggle as the new play unfolded. They were playing at the Targaryen conquest. The dragon was burning down fake villages, chasing people off and one by one each Kingdom surrendered. She turned to Brandon and giggled. “If they take a volunteer you should be King in the North!”
“I will not make a fool of myself.”
“You only bend your knee to the proper King.” She teased.
“Is it funny to you?”
“You’re funny.” She teased. She leaned into him and watched in amusement. “No one thinks this is how it happened. It was much braver, and the dragons were fierce.”
“Dragons are fierce.” He replied firmly.
“More fierce than a direwolf?”
He smiled. “I think that depends on the direwolf, and the dragon.”
“It is impressive that they make it look so pretty, elegant almost. You know, Torrhen Stark only surrendered and bent the knee to save his men from being burned to death by that dragon.”
“Honor, it is a trait the Starks revere above all else.”
“We do. We’re very fond of honor, loyalty, and we’re strong my p…”
“Oh my lady, I am trying to enjoy the play. Just as you are. Don’t distract everyone by drawing attention to me.”
She giggled and smiled up at Brandon. “You can be King in the North now.”
Brandon crossed his arms and scoffed. They remained quiet for some time. She held his arm and leaned into him.
“What?” He replied annoyed.
“It’s a bit sad…” She replied. “Don’t you find it sad?”
“You shouldn’t be sad. Mummer’s plays are fun. Is this the first one you’ve seen?” Rhaegar asked.
“Leave my sister alone. She’s a good lady. She stays in the castle all day. She sews with ladies and doesn’t travel.”
“I mean no disrespect for your sister. I just wanted to reassure her. It is sad for the moment, but mummer’s plays usually are happy. There will be something to please the lady. That is sad though, to hear she’s seen little of the world outside of Winterfell’s walls.”
The people remained kneeling, one representing each of the seven kingdoms. The people dressed as dragons danced around them, while the King placed the crown on his head. Then the actor came back on stage dressed like a red priest.
Prince Rhaegar touched her on the shoulder and whispered. “See, the red priest is giving each of the kingdoms a kiss, so they’ll have the life brought back to them. Seven strong kingdoms.”
She smiled and turned back to Brandon. “You would have hated it. Kneeling, then having to be kissed by another man.”
He responded by turning to Rhaegar with a cold look. “But you, surely find this part sad. They’re your kingdoms.”
“They are my father’s, actually. Just as you are future Lord Stark. It doesn’t make me sad at all. Maybe we’ll all need to fight a common enemy, the advice and cooperation of all those great houses would be necessary.”
“A common enemy…” Brandon repeated. “Who would be a threat? Other than another conqueror. Without dragons, who could really threaten the realm?”
Rhaegar smiled. “You tell me, future Lord Stark, I do think an intelligent Northern man could find the answer. Else, you could ask your sister. She’s a clever lady.”
“If you mean to tell me you think the others are coming back, you’re more foolish than I thought. My father sends both Benjen and I to the wall to give them supplies and hear their reports. There are few uneasy stories Rangers tell. But, they always find a more realistic explanation. They’re gone. The Starks took care of them, we protect the North.”
“If there were no Starks, the realm would weep. The Starks are the North, It’s in your blood to look after it. That’s why your house words are ‘Winter is coming’, not to remind yourself, but to warn everyone else. Immediate threat or not, I believe we can all agree it would be silly not to consider all possible threats.”
The crowd started to disperse. Lyanna still held her brother’s arm his grip had tightened since Rhaegar’s appearance. Regardless, the prince walked next to her.
“You might want to think on how to get a dragon then. They’re cold like ice they say, and twice as deadly. If anything will ward off the others, it would be fire.” Brandon replied bitterly.
Rhaegar turned to Lyanna and sighed. “Your brother is not fond of me in the slightest!”
“I think it may have been the circumstances you met under. If you met him by himself, without me I think he’d be a little kinder. He’s actually very popular.”
He stepped in front of Brandon and held out his hand. Brandon let out an exasperated sigh and took it. They shook and Rhaegar smiled.
“The next time we meet, will be on the field. I do wish you luck, but I will warn you that I will not go easy on you because of your sister.”
He waited until the Prince disappeared from sight then turned to his sister and seethed. “I’m going to knock that smug expression he wears off his face when I unseat him tomorrow. You’ll see your brother’s strength then.”
“I’m sure you’re a sight to behold.” She teased.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She wanted to get plenty of sleep so she would be up early enough to annoy him. He refused to sleep next to her, which made her laugh, she kept telling him it would be his own fault if he had a sore back the next day for jousting. He’d almost been tempted this one time, but only for a moment. Right after the thought went from a bad idea to mildly acceptable Benjen had to ruin the gesture of goodwill.
“The last time we slept together the three of us, you left the bed and made a fort on the floor.” he teased.
Lyanna laughed. “You helped me! He was so mad. He even lied to Father and said we put candles under the linens. He’s a horrible liar when his pride is assaulted.”
“Should I have reason to think you’ll do the same tonight?” He asked, she smiled a courteous smile and took his hand.
“Oh no, I am no longer a devious nine year old looking to torment my elder brother!”
She looked innocent enough. Then Benjen laughed and she couldn’t help but join in. “What?” he growled.
“She’s now a fourteen year old lady, who likes to torment her elder brother.” Benjen teased.
“Oh, maybe tomorrow. Speaking of elder brothers, where is Ned? I wanted to at least say goodnight to him.”
“He’s likely with your Lord Robert.” Brandon grumbled. “Drinking in excess…”
“There are two things our Eddard never does, and they are speaking in excess, and drinking in excess. He has a good temperament.”
“It explains why the two of you get along so well.” Brandon replied sarcastically. “You never shut up, and he never speaks. How perfect.”
“You’re a new brand of awful. Winter is coming, future Lord of self loving idiocy.”
“Oh is it? I think I can even feel the first snowfall. Go to bed you little idiot. You should try testing out your new house words, future Lady Baratheon.”
She stood up kissed Benjen on the cheek then moved to Brandon with the same warm smile and sweet disposition. Except she smacked him as hard as she could on his arm. He growled even louder. “What was that?!”
“Winter is coming, Ours if the Fury.” Then she ran into his tent giggling.
“Are you ever just tempted to throw her into a river somewhere? Because I am sorely tempted to tell Father after the end of this I have no idea what happened to her.”
Benjen shrugged. “Well, if you can’t handle her Ned said…”
“If I can’t handle her? Of course I can handle her! I handle matters from our smallfolk, to our finances, and sometimes even other lords, their smallfolk. I even help seeing knights are properly trained. I can handle an obnoxious twit.”
He started to smile despite himself. “You could’ve fooled me.”
“I’ve done fine all day. You shouldn’t speak unless you know what you’re talking about.”
“I was only japing. I think you’re doing fine. I admire you I really do. But, it’s funny once you two get going.”
Brandon scoffed. “Nothing anyone says before the word ‘but’ counts. A bunch of excuses and lies….”
He stormed over to his tent and called to her. In a matter of seconds he went inside. She was brushing her hair out then he caught the scent of her perfume and frowned. “I asked you before not to wear perfume to bed.”
“I know. I only opened the bottle. I didn’t use any.” She set the brush down and sat on the bed with him. “You had a tough day.”
“I’ll have tougher days as a Lord.”
“You can trust their judgement every once in awhile you know.” She started to rub his shoulders, and easing the stress away.
“And sometimes they need to be set straight.”
“Sometimes. Sometimes you need to think before you say things. Jon Arryn asked why you were so hot headed with Ned. It wasn’t easy to explain, but I did. Ned asked if I’d like to see Robert do anything else.”
“It’s sweet you’re asking for permission.” he replied. “Did they tell you anything else about him?”
“No. I can get more from Ned if I try. I want to know what he thinks of me too. I don’t think it’s enough to know about him. What do you think, he thinks about me?”
“He had to have been taken by you. He caused a bit of a scene.” He shrugged. “I think it’s safe to tell Father he is interested, he seems like the kind of person you would do well with.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah, you’ll probably drive him crazy. He’ll write to us at Winterfell, ‘I can’t find Lyanna. Where do you think she went?’” He smirked. “So I’ll write back, ‘She’s your problem now, but you better not let her get killed. You don’t have Godswoods in the south that she would consider any hostile taking over as her own. So, check the stables, then maybe the blacksmith and your armory. If she’s not there, you better find her. Our father will not be pleased.’”
“I have not ever taken over our Godswood.”
Brandon started to laugh. “Yes you did. It was right after he sent Eddard to the Vale. He gave up on keeping you out of the Godswood. But he told you, if you climbed on the heart tree the Children of the Forest would see and they’d throw you out of it. You were probably….four maybe five…He looked very serious so, you thought it was true for the longest time. But right the next day or something, you were playing out there and he decided you were playing around long enough. So he told you to come back to the castle and you told him no. You were a brat like you always are, yelling that the castle was his, and mine. Then you started yelling about how Eddard was yours and he took him away. So the Godswood was going to be yours.”
She smiled. “I remember the story, I don’t believe I really did that.”
“You did. Father said you had the worst tantrums. He told mother several times he was glad he only had one girl, he could never handle another you. Boys were easier. He probably dropped you on your head. That’s why you don’t remember.”
She glared at him but he continued. “You told him each tree individually that was yours. Every Time you ran off to a new one he tried to grab you but he probably couldn’t keep up. He got you at the Heart Tree though. You tripped on something…he got you before you hit the ground, and you know what you did after that?”
She shrugged. “I probably assaulted him with kisses, because that’s what all sweet girls do for their father when they act wretched.”
“You did not. You bit him. It was probably the only time he ever hit you. I only really saw the last part, where he handed you off to mother and told her to try taming you a little more. It left a mark too. He was pretty mad every time he had to explain to someone why there were deep teeth marks on his hand.”
“You’re a horrible liar.” She replied.
“I’m not lying. Ask Eddard, he wrote back to one of his first letters, he’d remember. Father wrote back to him, and there was a line, something like… ‘I have never been ambidextrous but since your sister felt the need to bite her sire, it is uncomfortable to write letters. So, I’ve needed to learn.’”
She let go of his arm and shoved him. “I will you better not be a liar. It’s unbecoming for a lord.”
He smiled at her. “So is a lady who bites her father.”
She tossed her hair aside and started to walk away from him. He followed, and she started to walk a little slower so they could walk side by side again. “Storm’s End is by the sea. I bet it’s lovely. How many boats do you think he has?”
“At least a fleet.”
She smiled. “Do you think he’d take me on one? We could sail to Valeria. We’d meet all sorts of people. Everything would be so exciting.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know what he’s like. He’s friends with Eddard he probably would think it a waste of time. Eddard doesn’t travel. He stays around the Vale, except if he comes home. You should be a better lady than that. If you whine and complain you want to go places, he’ll think you’re an obnoxious child and he’ll be finished with you. All you need to do is look pretty, hang on his arm and let him do what he likes with you.”
“Is that what men want? Or is it just you?” She replied. “I don’t think he’d feel like that. You said he’s friends with Ned, they must be a little alike in some way. Well, I think Ned likes someone who he knows will listen to him. I think our brother needs a lady who can think on her own. He’ll talk if he’s comfortable. He wouldn’t trust a lady hanging all over him, he wouldn’t like that. He would want someone a little independant, he won’t mind being looked after and loved. But he wouldn’t be vocal or demanding about anything either.”
Brandon started to laugh. “You planning on marrying him off? Father isn’t going to, so you’re going to take it upon yourself?”
“I didn’t say I was. I only said if you’re comparing them as similar Robert would likely want a lady who is a little independant. He won’t want to be smothered, he’d just want someone who’s there.”
He scoffed. “You’re not? That’s why you gave that lady flowers, because clearly you’re not getting involved.”
“She made him happy! He was smiling Brandon, he rarely smiles he hardly dances! I would have kissed her and called her my sister if she would continue to make him happy.”
His eyes seemed to grow colder. The features in his face hardened. “Your a silly little girl. You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“You’re an arrogant jerk…” She snapped back. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“I would strike you…”
“But what? Father will see, from Winterfell leagues from here? You think he hears his little wolves growling and snapping at each other from there?” She crossed her arms and glared at him. “It’s never really a threat is it? Why should I be scared?”
“It would quiet you.”
“It might, or I’d continue to make you angry. How has this made you angry? We were talking on my marriage to Lord Robert. There must be a way they’re similar for them to be good friends. You don’t like when I talk about Ned. Is it because he’s never let you get to him? Are you afraid of your brother?”
He scoffed. “I’m not afraid of him.” He said firmly.
“You can tell me anything. Even if it’s stupid I promise I won’t laugh at you.”
He shook his head and tried to ignore her.
“I love you all. I don’t like that it makes you upset, I want us to be able to talk to each other about anything. I want to be able to help you with your wife. I don’t love him more, I just understand him better. I don’t understand what I did to make you upset.” She pleaded.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“But I need to know why it offended you so much. Then I know what I shouldn’t say, what we shouldn’t talk about.” She sighed in frustration and twirled a little bit of hair between her fingers. “Is it because Robert is his friend, and you had thought of someone else for me to marry?”
He laughed. “I don’t care who marries to you. Father has wanted you to marry high since you came from mother”
“It’s just Ned then, Ned bothers you. Are you worried I’ll run off while we watch you joust tomorrow? He’s not too agressive, like you, he might let me run onto the field and hit you with your lance?”
“He won’t let you embarrass us like that.”
“Then what’s wrong with our brother? I can keep this up all day, you know I can, I’m stubborn. As stubborn as you, only father always lets me have my way. I’ll get it out of you.”
He stopped and glared at her. “You know what, fine. I’ll tell you. It’s stupid! But so are you, only your more obnoxious.”
She smiled, and he continued. “When I was little, I brought mother flowers. I told her when I was Lord of Winterfell, I’d plant them all over the courtyard. She told me I’d never be Lord of Winterfell, the Old Gods told her so.”
“It is silly… The thought of him being married shouldn’t make you angry. Father might of thought it would happen too. He has me marrying his friend, and he’s Lord of Storm’s End. So, if there is a chance that one of his bannermen only has daughters he might make the offer for Ned to marry one of them. At least he could trust him, he doesn’t want to be lord of a great castle…” She could tell it wasn’t helping. “Mother said all kinds of odd things when she was sick.” she wrapped her arm around his and leaned into him. “You’ll be Lord of Winterfell soon enough…Father is letting you do more and more….He’s not really old, but he raised you to rule it. I think he’s tired of ruling… I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he had you marry then decided he was going somewhere. He wants you to rule…” She rubbed his arm and kissed his cheek.
He started to smile. “You’re right.” He replied in a smug voice. “I’m the one that knows what to do with Winterfell, and the North. I sit with him while he talks to his men, they know me, they trust me.”