Bran was propped up at the top of his bed, Rickon had brought all of his toys and dumped them on his brother’s bed. He’d only woken up two days ago. Robb had explained everything. Father went to King’s Landing as planned with Arya and Sansa. Mother had left for some reason, once he’d told them she needed to tell father something. And their angry response was, ‘Why couldn’t she just write to him?’ He expected it was bad news, but he could hardly think anything was good news since his fall. His legs wouldn’t work again, yesterday had been harder because Rickon just refused to understand that.
“Let’s go to the Godswood. We’ll thank the Old Gods because you woke up. Father would want us to.”
“Well, get Hodor and I’ll go with you.” He didn’t like that response at all.
“I don’t want to, lets just go together.”
“I can’t walk on my own. My legs broke when I fell from the tower.”
“Did you try?” Rickon asked.
“No…” Bran was getting annoyed. “Rickon, Maester…”
“How do you know you can’t walk if you didn’t try?” He crossed his arms and frowned.
“Maester Luwin says I can’t. He knows.”
“He says Shaggy has to sleep outside, he doesn’t want to sleep outside.”
“You have to listen to Maester Luwin and Robb while Mother is gone. She’ll be mad if you don’t. What did Robb say? Did he say Shaggydog has to stay outside?”
Rickon crossed his arms and pouted. “I told Robb Greywind hates sleeping outside chained up.”
“Don’t you want to go to the Godswood?” Bran asked.
“Then go get Hodor.”
That’s how most of the conversations went. He didn’t want anyone else. He wanted just Bran, or Bran and Robb. Sometimes he wanted Jon, or Arya or Sansa. Each time he’d have to remind him they were gone. He wouldn’t see Jon again, Sansa was going to stay in King’s Landing if she was really going to ever be Queen. He might see Father or Arya. But if he didn’t like the answers he was getting he’d seem to ignore what he’d said. He didn’t like that Robb left him in the room with his crippled brother all day. He didn’t want anyone else around them except their family, and the direwolves. So they talked about the direwolves, and how big they might grow to be. Now he seemed to have a better handle of himself. He brought all the toys he could find, but he didn’t want to argue and complain. Robb had even let them keep the direwolves day and night. Shaggydog and Summer sat in the corner of the room together. Shaggydog eyed the door, and Summer watched the boys. Rickon lined their knights up and they had them fight. Then they rolled a ball to each other and even tried hitting wooden swords together. But Rickon realized that made Bran sad, because he wanted to be a knight.
“You’ll be the first knight that can’t walk. You could shout commands at Summer, and he’ll be your sword.”
“I don’t think I could be a knight…”
“If Sansa marries the prince, you’ll be a knight. She’ll tell Joffrey to knight you. You could be the Great Direwolf Knight of Winterfell, even if you can’t walk anymore.”
“What will you do?”
“I don’t know. Shaggydog and I will do something together.” At the mention of his name Shaggydog padded over and took the ball from the boys.
“That’s mine, give it back.” Rickon whined. He tugged on the ball, even though Shaggydog had his teeth clenched around it. Robb strode into the room and sighed. Toys were all over the floor, and the bed practically scattered from corner to corner. Rickon finally made some progress prying the ball from the direwolf’s mouth when Robb picked him up and set him on the bed.
“You don’t stick your hands in a direwolf’s mouth. He might bite you.” Robb scolded.
“Shaggy isn’t going to bite me, I do it all the time.”
“You used to be afraid of Shaggydog.” he teased.
“No I wasn’t. Mother was, I was trying to make her braver.” he replied confidently.
Robb mussed his hair and smiled. “It’s nearly time for you to go to bed. Why don’t you put your toys back into your room?”
Reluctantly he picked up a few off the floor. Once his hands were full he started out the door, Shaggydog close behind.
Robb turned to Bran. “Are you alright?”
“No pain? No feelings of sickness…”
“No, I don’t need anything. I’m fine.”
“He’s doing a little better too. Father left, our sisters left, Jon left, and mother was only half herself worried for them and for you. It scared him, he doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s good that we’re keeping each other strong.”
“Is mother coming home soon?”
“I don’t know. She’ll take as long as she needs. She’s trying to figure out who our enemies are. We’ll be safer for it. She’ll want to get back to you two as fast…”
“But not you? Something happened when I was asleep. Something bad, that’s why she left.”
Rickon came back in the room, filled his arms with more toys and left again. Robb remained silent, not wanting him to hear his words.
“It might come to war. Theon and I have been talking…”
“What’s going on? You know I’ll understand, you can tell me.”
“Do you remember anything from the fall? While you were climbing did you hear anything odd? Or see anything unusual?”
“You don’t think I fell.”
Robb went silent. He didn’t want to tell him what had happened, the night of the fire, the night their mother fought against the attacker. He didn’t want to explain what she thought had happened. But it wouldn’t be long before he started to question the guards watching his room, and he would piece together that with how Rickon told him they were letting the direwolves stay with them more and more.
“We don’t know. All you need to know is something happened and mother is looking for answers.”
Robb hadn’t noticed Rickon came back he stood next to him and started reaching for Bran’s toys to put them back as well. Once he noticed he looked at their younger brother and smiled. Rickon looked up at him then he said. “Someone tried to kill Bran while he was sleeping. But Summer killed him.”
Robb stared at him dumbfounded. “Who told you that?”
“They were talking about things in the kitchens, even in the courtyard. I heard them. They say the direwolves protect us.” He shrugged. “Will father come back now?”
“No, father is staying in King’s Landing. He’s the Hand of the King. The King needs him.”
“Well, we need him more.” Rickon argued. “I don’t like you as a Lord. Your more cranky and boring.”
He sighed. “Father can’t come back, Mother will come back. She’ll come back and she’ll play monsters and maidens with you.”
It hadn’t cheered him up nearly as much as he’d hoped. But he put everything back the same as he’d found it. Robb turned back to Bran. “I’ll tell you more about it…Just let me get him to bed first. He won’t let anyone else do it.”
He picked Rickon up, said something to make him laugh and carried him. “Come on Shaggydog.” Robb called.
“Come on Greywind!” Rickon cheered.
He’d learned a few things in the weeks he’d been trying to take care of his brother. The first was if the direwolves were in the room, he would want to play with them. Second, if the direwolves were not in the room he’d cry. It didn’t matter what he wanted, Rickon was going to keep him there as long as he wanted anyway. He gave up, he’d just tell him a story, and sit next to Shaggydog while Rickon pet Greywind and if he got really lucky it would only take one story.
“Father isn’t ever coming back?”
“Not unless Prince Joffrey becomes King. If he does and he doesn’t want Father there anymore he can come home.”
“He’s always come back before. Mother said so, he has to come back.”
Shaggydog went to the window and started to howl. Robb looked over then back at his brother. His eyes were getting heavy, then they closed with a yawn. Robb leaned over and kissed his forehead. He went to the window and closed it. Shaggydog stared at him, his green eyes were thoughtful for a moment.
“He likes the window open. Don’t close it. He was saying goodnight to Ghost, Lady and Nymeria. He misses them.”
“Shaggydog talks to you.”
“Yeah, doesn’t Greywind talk to you?” Robb opened the window and sat back down on the bed.
“He howls. That’s about it.”
“You’re not listening to him. You have to try listening to him. Okay?”
“All right little brother. I’ll try listening to Greywind. What else does Shaggydog say?”
“He says I don’t have to be scared unless you leave. You can’t leave, your the Lord.”
Robb stroked his head and sighed. “You don’t ever have to be afraid. There are lots of people here in Winterfell who will protect you. Don’t you feel safe?”
“I do.” He admitted. “I want everyone to come back. Mother, and Father…”
“Mother is coming back. I’ll let you know as soon as I know she’s on her way.”
He didn’t like that answer, for a second it look like he’d cry again. “What are Mother’s house words? Do you remember?”
“Family, Duty, Honor.” He said.
“What she’s doing she’s doing for us. You don’t need to worry for Mother, she’ll be home soon. You don’t have to worry about Sansa and Arya either they have Father. You have so many people here to protect you, including me. You don’t need Mother right now right? Winter is coming.”
“Winter is coming…”