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Chapter Eighty-Five: Judgement

Lenora

Her mother was beautiful. Lenora could not think of a time when her mother looked more beautiful than she did in this moment. Her bright, long blonde hair had been shorn, cut close to the head like a man's, but Cersei wore it well. The short hair highlighted her mother's cheekbones in a way that she had never seen before. The hollows beneath her high cheek bones made them even more pronounced.

Gone were her mother's silken, flowing, southern dresses. Gone were the reds and golds of House Lannister. Gone were the low necklines. In their place was a dress made of heavy fabrics, black and silver with tight sleeves and a high collar that almost reached her chin.

If it were not for the glare, the way her mother's feline green eyes narrowed when Lenora entered the tent that had been erected on the battle field, Lenora wouldn't have recognized her mother at all. This was not the woman Lenora had last seen at Winterfell. This woman was hard, she was cold, she had lost so much. And yet, despite all of that, she was strong. Despite everything her mother had managed to survive. And she was more beautiful because of it.

Lenora's first instinct was to step forward, to reach out for her mother, to hug her. But she paused, just inside the tent flaps, the Hound and Brienne stopping too, half a step behind her, mirroring every move she made. Her hands clasped in front of her, her right forearm covering the injury on her stomach, putting up a defense against her mother, as if Cersei would somehow know that she had been injured and use it to her advantage.

She lifted her chin, leveling her mother with stern look and hoping that she looked as brave, as strong as her Cersei did. The last thing that she wanted was to look like a lost, little girl, begging her mother for praise. "Mother," she greeted, taking one final step forward, sensing when Brienne and the Hound followed her, without watching their movement.

Cersei's gaze lifted, her jaw tightening, as her green eyes moved over Lenora's face, watching her, taking her all in. Lenora had cleaned up after the battle, there was no blood on her face, her hair was clean, but under her mother's gaze she felt as though there was something on her face. She reached up, wiping at her forehead. Her mother's lips turned up at the left corner, a smirk, as if she knew how Lenora felt, as if she could read her daughter's mind.

And then, something snapped. Her mother's scowl softened into a smile. Her narrowed eyes widened and warmed. She looked as though she was happy that Lenora was there with her.

She moved quickly, taking several steps forward, her arms outstretched, reaching for Lenora. If she was bothered by Brienne and the Hound stepping closer to her, it did not show on her face. "Look at you," she greeted, her voice warm and soft as her hands fell on Lenora's shoulders, holding her in place as she looked at her, her gaze still dancing over Lenora's face. "It can't have been this long since I left you in that Northern wasteland," she shook her head. "You were a little girl then, but look at you now, a woman grown."

Her right hand lifted from Lenora's shoulder to her hair, brushing some strands our of her eyes and tucking it behind her ear. "You are so beautiful, Sweeting," she whispered. Her gaze lifted from Lenora's face to Brienne and the Hound before landing on Lenora again, "Come, Love," she ordered, her hands falling to Lenora's wrists as she pulled her further into the tent. "We have so much to discuss, so much to catch up on. You have been gone for so long."

Her mother's shrewd gaze did not miss the way Lenora flinched as she was pulled forward, "Are you alright, Lenora?" she asked, just as soft, just as warm and soothing. "Tell me everything."

Lenora was quiet as her mother gently pushed her into a seat and pulled another one closer to her before she sat down and reached for her hands again. Lenora was not stupid, her uncles' warnings still rang in her ears, Robb's distrust of her mother sat heavy in her chest, Gendry's whispered promise that they would not be far away if she needed them bounced around quietly in the corners of her mind. She should not trust her mother, but this was never something that she had ever had.

Her mother's undivided attention. Her love, her concern. For the first time in her life, she was the center of Cersei's world, the sun rose and set on her. Her lips turned up at the corners, a bittersweet, rueful smile. "This is what Joff must have felt every moment of his miserable, horrible life, isn't it?" she asked quietly - not expecting an answer.

"Yes," Cersei told her, her voice heavy. It had lost the warmth that had colored it when she greeted Lenora and pulled her into a chair, but at least she was honest. Cersei squeezed her hand tightly and nodded, "Yes," she told her again. "This is how Joffrey felt for every second of his life. He was the most important thing in my world, my reason for living. I cared for him, loved him, more than I cared for you, more than I cared for any of you." Her mother's eyes darted to the corner of the tent, a brief glare before her gaze landed on Lenora again.

Lenora pulled her hands out from under her mother's, pulling away from her as much as their seats would allow. "Why?" she asked. She stood from her seat and moved away from Cersei, pacing across the tent, turning to glare at her. "What made him so special? Why was it so simple for you to love him and so easy for you to turn your back on me?"

"I never -" Cersei started.

"You did!" Lenora fired at her. She shook her head, "I was born and within days I was sent off to Casterly Rock for five years. You cast me aside. Why? Because I wasn't blonde? Because I wasn't a boy? Why wasn't I enough for you, Mother?"

Cersei shook her head, "You were poisoned," she told her. "King's Landing wasn't safe for you. Nowhere was. Not so soon after the war. The kingdom needed a male heir to cement the peace and until then, you would not have been safe. I did not cast you aside, my love, I sent you to the safest place I could imagine because I loved you so much."

"King's Landing wasn't safe for Joffrey," Lenora told her. "There were attempts on his life every day, but you kept him here." She paused, thinking back to what Tyrion had told her about King's Landing after Joffrey's death. "He died here. And your love couldn't protect him." She looked away for a moment, "When you lost him?" she asked. "When you lost him, did you split your love between your three remaining children equally?" she knew the answer.

Cersei lifted her gaze. Lenora saw the moment when she thought that she would lie, but then she sighed, seeming to deflate before Lenora's eyes. "No," she told her daughter softly.

Lenora nodded, "Tommen became your favorite," she answered, not a question. "Because he was a boy, and blonde, and," she paused for a moment, bracing herself before she admitted to her mother that she knew her deepest sin. "And Jaime's. He was Jaime's."

Cersei didn't even have the grace to look ashamed, "Yes," she agreed. "He was Jaime's."

Lenora nodded, "And Joffrey too." Cersei nodded. "And Myrcella." Another nod.

Lenora was quiet for a long moment, "The three children you always loved more than me." She was quiet for a moment, "And now, you turn all that attention on me, because you have no one else." She shook head, reaching up to brush her own hair out of her eyes, "Tell me, Mother. Did you hate my father so much that you loved me least of all your children because I belonged to him? Because I was the only one who didn't belong to Jaime? Because I was the only one who tied you to him?"

Her mother, shook her head, "No," she told her. "I loved you the same, I swear it. But you never needed me. You were always so certain of yourself, always so brave and fearless. You never needed me to hold you, to kiss your scrapes, to comfort you after your nightmares, to soothe your fears. You could do it all on your own. And when you couldn't - you had your father. You had your uncles, you had my father. Joff and the others? They had no one." She shook her head, "Your father always knew they were different. He always loved you most. And Jaime, he couldn't be a father to them even if he wanted to. I was all they had."

Lenora didn't buy it. She might have if she had ever seen her mother hold any of her siblings, kiss their scrapes, comfort them after their nightmares. She could barely remember her mother ever doing any of that, even when they were younger. Her mother was painting herself as a loving, generous, caring mother. And it was all a lie.

"It was your fault," Lenora pointed out. "They didn't have a father because you made a cuckold of Robert. They didn't have a father because you got pregnant off of your brother. You want me to feel sorry for them? For you? But you did this mother. It was a choice - yours!"

She moved away from Cersei, glancing toward Brienne and the Hound. This was not why she had agreed to meet her mother. This was not the conversation that she wanted to have. It was not why she was here. She sighed and turned to face Cersei again. "You waved the white flag, Mother," she told her. "Why? What do you want from this meeting? It can't be for this - you've had years for this. I was a child the last time you saw me and now I'm a woman grown," she threw her mother's words back at her. "So why are we here?"

Cersei did not want to surrender. That was not why she had brought Lenora here. She wanted to toy with Lenora, to get into her head so that when the battle began again she would not be at her best. Or worse, she thought that she could demand surrender from her daughter, that after everything Lenora would obey like the good girl she had always wanted to be.

Cersei's eyes softened, "You can't win this battle, my love," she told her gently, reaching out for her.

"You're wrong," Brienne interrupted, stepping close to them.

"Brienne," Lenora snapped, catching the blonde's attention as her mother's gaze swept dismissively over Brienne, her lips turning up at the corners as she no doubt thought up all sorts of cruel jokes at Brienne's expense. Brienne's blue eyes lifted to her face for a moment before she nodded and stepped back.

She was there if Lenora needed her, but Lenora did not need her yet.

Lenora turned back to her mother, "You don't believe that," she told Cersei, echoing Brienne's words. "If you did you would not have flown the white flag. There is a part of you that believes that even with your Golden Company and your elephants, you could lose." She shook her head, her lips turning up at the corners, "You played your hand too early, Mother. Grandfather would be so disappointed."

She had hit a nerve. Her mother's jaw clenched. "But he would be proud of you?" she asked. She shook her head, mocking. "You dare judge me for sleeping with my brother? Targaryens did it for generations. And you? You sleep with your family's enemy. Which is worse?"

Lenora shook her head, "He's not the enemy, Mother," she told her. She gestured toward the tent flaps, "Take a look out on the field, Mother. Your brothers fight for me. The Starks fight for me. The rest of the North. The East. Highgarden. The Stormlands. Stark men, Tully men, Baratheon men." She shook her head. "The only family I have left fight with me. You are the enemy."

She shook her head and turned toward Brienne and the Hound, "I need you two to leave," she told them, her voice soft. "I need a moment alone with my mother."

"Your Grace," Brienne started, stepping toward her. "King Robb -"

"I need a moment alone with my mother," Lenora interrupted, repeating her request. "Stand outside the flaps if you need to, but leave us be."

She waited until the left before she spoke again, her back still turned on her mother. "Tyrion did not kill Joffrey," she told her mother, honestly. "He had more than enough reason too, but it was not him." She turned slightly, watching Cersei as she shook her head. "It wasn't him," she told her again as she turned away from her mother. "Olenna Tyrell told me, before she drank wine she poisoned herself. She was the one who killed Joff, better to murder a king than let a monster near her precious granddaughter." She shook her head, "You put Tyrion on trial, turned him and Jaime against you, led him to kill Grandfather, and it was all for nothing, he was innocent."

She was quiet for a long moment, waiting for her mother to answer. When she didn't, Lenora nodded and continued, "I am not going to surrender, Mother," she told her. "I will fight you until I win. Perhaps it is time for you to consider surrender."

Her mother was so quiet. Lenora did not hear her as she moved across the tent, closer to her. She barely heard her breathe. But she felt when her mother's hand wrapped around the back of her neck, her large fingers pressing against her windpipe.

It wasn't right, she knew that, but as she was lifted off the ground, her feet dangling a few inches off the floor Lenora couldn't place what it was about the hand, the strength, the height that didn't belong to her mother. All she knew, was that turning her back had been a mistake, taunting her mother had been a mistake.

Her mother did not want to surrender.

And neither did Lenora.

But only one of them was meant to leave this tent alive.

-.-.-.-.-

Jaime

He could not decide who he thought was stupider - his niece or Brienne and the Hound. Lenora had entered Cersei's tent less than an hour ago with her two guards, the ones she had promised Jaime and Robb that she would keep with her at all times while dealing with Cersei. He had not liked that, standing outside the tent, watching as his niece walked into it with Brienne and the Hound, he trusted them with almost anything, but he found it difficult to trust them with Lenora's life. But he had stood back and let it happen, because she didn't want him there, she didn't want him anywhere near her mother.

And he could respect that.

What he could not respect, what he liked even less than watching Lenora walk in to a literal lion's den was when, less than an hour later her two guards walked out. For a moment when the tent flaps fluttered Jaime had pushed himself off the tree he had been leaning against, believing that Lenora would be coming out too, that she would need comfort from him or from Robb. But instead, her two idiots for guards walked out.

The tent flaps closed.

Lenora did not leave with them.

He was not the only one who was angry, Robb was at his side, his fists clenched, his blue eyes tight as he moved beside Jaime, quickly closing the distance between themselves and her guards. "Where's Nora?" Robb asked, the first to speak.

"She told us to get out," the Hound told him, gesturing over his shoulder toward the tent. "Said she wanted a few minutes alone with that cunt she calls Mother."

"And you left her?" Jaime asked, forcing the words out between clenched teeth as his gaze darted between Brienne and the Hound. The blonde knight at least had the grace to look embarrassed, she looked away from him, her gaze locked on her foot. But the Hound? He didn't look embarrassed at all.

He moved closer to Jaime, lifting his chin and staring at him defiantly, "Listen Kingslayer," he growled. "When a Queen tells you to get out, you get out. She wanted time alone."

Jaime could feel his anger rising in his throat it was going to choke him if he did not let it out. He thought about strangling the knight before him, he imagined reaching out with his golden hand and using it to put pressure on the Hound's throat until he could not breathe anymore. But before he could, a noise caught his attention from inside the tent.

Something crashed to the ground. Glass broke. There was a struggle.

"With me," he ordered to Brienne and the Hound. He knew that he wouldn't need to order the Stark boy to go with him, Robb was already moving toward the tent, ripping the flaps open so that he could get inside.

The scene they were met with was not what Jaime had expected. His sister was standing at the back of the tent, drinking a glass of wine, watching with a strange smile on her face as a giant held her daughter by her throat, strangling her just as Jaime had imagined strangling the Hound a moment ago.

He couldn't see the giant's face, but there was only one man in the entire Seven Kingdoms that made the Hound look small. Cersei had set the mountain on Lenora. His first instinct was to go after the Mountain - to fight him and force him to let go of Lenora. But Tywin Lannister had not raised a fool. All it took was one look for Jaime to know that he was outmatched, even with his right hand he would not have been a match for the Mountain.

Instead he crossed the tent in three quick strides, his hand reaching out and grabbing Cersei by her own throat. "This is madness," he told her, trying to make her see reason. She didn't say anything, her green eyes barley looked in his direction. She was too busy trying to look over his shoulder, to watch whatever was happening to Lenora.

"Tell him to let her go," he growled, turning Cersei around so that she could see the Mountain, shaking her a bit in the hope that she would realize that this was madness. That killing the one child she had left alive was not the answer.

Cersei fought against him, shaking her head and trying to push him away. "No," she growled, an animal rather than a woman, the lion she had always wanted to become, but in the worst way imaginable. She was a lion not prepared to be a mother, one who ate her young. She would kill Lenora if she had her way. He spun them around again, placing himself between his sister and her daughter, blocking her view again.

Over his shoulder the struggle got louder. Jaime glanced behind him, still holding Cersei so that she could not get away. Brienne, the Hound, and Robb were all working together to fight the Mountain, all taking turns crossing swords with him as he held a sword in one hand and Lenora in the other. She seemed to have lost consciousness, all the fight had left her. Now as the Mountain swung her around she flopped through the air like one of the rag dolls she had played with as a child.

The Hound ducked under his brother's sword and ran forward, toward his face, jabbing his sword up and back, swiping at the bigger man's face. His blade made contact, splitting the skin and opening the Mountain's mouth wider than humanly possible. Blood sprayed everywhere as the large man let out a roar.

He dropped Lenora and Robb was there to grab her, pulling her away from him toward the opposite side of the tent. When the Mountain moved to follow them, Brienne stepped in the way, blocking his path, her sword raised. It would have been laughable to think that the woman thought that she could hold her own against the monster, but instead it caused Jaime's chest to tighten. Surely Brienne knew that she would not survive a fight against the Mountain, but she would try to protect Lenora.

"No!" the Hound roared, pushing Brienne out of the way none too gently. "Leave him to me." He swung his own massive sword at his brother and the two Clegane men charged out of the tent, swinging and cursing as they did.

Jaime's gaze was locked on Lenora, Robb had her wrapped in his arms, he was calling her name as he shook her gently, trying to bring her back. Her chest was still rising and falling, she was breathing, but her eyes remained shut.

"Is she dead?" Cersei bit out, her voice hard and cold.

Jaime turned to glare at her. It was difficult to look at her face, to remember that there had once been a time when he believed himself in love with her. When he thought that she loved him too. Now, all he saw when he looked at her was a monster, one who had tried to kill her daughter not once, but twice, for no reason other than her own short-sighted hatred and anger. He was ashamed that she was his sister. And he was ashamed that she would always be, even when she was gone.

"No," he told her, his voice hard. "She's stronger than that. You'll wish you were by the time she's done with you though."

...

It took the Hound and six other men to finally put an end to the Mountain. And even then, it took much longer than Jaime would have anticipated. Whatever Qyburn had done to the man had been a dark magic. He had taken a man and turned him into a monster.

Though Clegane held strong to the belief that his brother had always been a monster.

In the end, in the battle against the Mountain alone, Lenora lost two men, and the Hound almost lost his eye.

Cersei's men, for all their bravado and elephants did not stay loyal for long after they watched Cersei led out of her tent, her wrists in irons, her champion dead - his skull bashed in.

Robb, not wanting to leave Lenora alone in her weakened state had sent Jaime to treat with the Golden Company. The mercenaries were not stupid, they could see that the tide was changing, the soldiers and Houses that had sided with Cersei from the Westerlands and the Crownlands were quickly tripping over themselves in an attempt to swear their loyalty to Lenora. There would be no more battles, no glory for fighting for the captured Queen, no gold for going against Lenora, only uneven odds and more death. They would not further Cersei's cause, they would go back across the Narrow Sea, taking their elephants and nothing else - no glory, no gold.

The War of the Five Kings had raged for years. The War of the Two Queens would be a single battle.

And Cersei had lost.

"What will we do with her?" Robb asked when Jaime walked back into the tent, Tyrion and Gendry trailing behind him. For a moment Jaime thought he was talking about Lenora, but his gaze was narrowed on the tent flaps.

Cersei. What would they do with Cersei?

"I want to see her."

Lenora's voice was harder, stronger than Jaime would have imagined. It didn't break, it didn't come out in a whisper. It was early yet, but there was already the beginnings of a dark bruise across the front of her neck - evidence of the ordeal she had just been through. It would darken yet, a necklace that whispered of violence.

"No."

Both Jaime and Robb spoke at the same time, neither of them willing to let her anywhere near her mother again, despite the fact that she was locked in irons, no doubt on her way to the black cells deep underneath the Red Keep.

Her jaw tightened, her shoulders tensed as she sat up, brushing Robb's arms off of her as he reached out to help her. "That was not a request," she told them, her grey eyes as hard as her voice.

"Len -" Jaime started, his voice soft.

"What more can she do to me?" Lenora asked him, glancing between him and Robb. "She's locked up, in a cell. She won't be able to reach me, let alone touch me." She laughed, almost sarcastically. "I'll be the safest I've ever been from her."

It was Tyrion who finally spoke up, his voice soft and gentle as he moved toward her, his hand fell on top of her own. "I believe they worry for your heart, Lady Len," he told her gently. "She might not be able to cut you or bruise you. But there are still ways yet for her to do damage."

Lenora shook her head, her jaw still clenched, "There's nothing she can say," she told them. "Nothing she can use to hurt me now."

If only you knew, Doe, he thought almost bitterly. If only you knew.

-.-.-.-.-

Cersei

Joffrey was seething. She could feel his anger rolling off of him like the waves in Blackwater Bay against the sand. He paced back and forth along the front of the cell, glaring at the bars.

"How dare they?" he growled, turning for a moment to glare at his mother before he continued pacing again. "How dare they throw us in here? As if we're ... animals?" He shook his head, glaring at the bars again. "She did this, Mother. And now she's up there, on my throne. Celebrating."

Cersei shook her head, silently arguing against her eldest son's anger. "She wouldn't -" she started.

"And did you see who fought for her?" Tommen cut in, quietly from his seat near the back of the cell. "Highgarden," he whispered the word as if it were a curse. "After everything you did for them mother, how high you helped them climb. Margaery would have been Queen. And now they fight for her."

"Margaery would have -"

"And now we're here," Myrcella whispered, her green eyes wide as she glanced around the dark cell. "They say no one ever leaves the Black cells alive. And she's left us here, as if we're not her family."

"Ned Stark -" Cersei started, her fingers clenching and unclenching as she fought the urge to reach for a wine goblet that wasn't there. The men who had thrown her in the cell hadn't even deigned to give her a chamber pot, they certainly hadn't given her any wine. Her hands began to shake. "Ned Stark left."

"Oh yes!" Joffrey crowed from in front of the bars as he began to pace again. "You're correct, Mother! Ned Stark left and begged mercy. And what did I give him in return?"

"Nothing," Myrcella bit out, her lips turning up at the right corner in a smirk. "Took something instead, didn't you, brother?"

"Took his head for his troubles!" Joffrey agreed, clapping his hands together as he laughed as if it were all a joke, one that Cersei was struggling to keep up with.

"Robb Stark's still alive," Tommen mused, watching his mother closely. "No doubt from some dark Northern magic."

"And did you see the young one?" Myrcella asked. "With the dark hair and the grey eyes? He looked like every portrait I have ever seen of Father when he was younger." She glanced down, a blush burning its way across her cheeks. "I mean, like Robert. Do you think they brought him back to life too?"

"Why?" Cersei asked, shaking her head as she watched her children closely, trying to understand what they had seen that she hadn't. "Why would she bring them back? What could she mean to do with them?"

"Revenge, Mother," Joffrey told her, his glare settling on her skin, making her hands shake again. She glanced around the cell, once again looking for wine while she shook her head, no. "No?" Joffrey asked, a cold laughter echoing in the single word. "You don't think she would want revenge? You haven't done anything to warrant it, Mother?"

"Nothing," Cersei whispered, still shaking her head.

"You didn't take part in a plot to murder her husband in front of her?" Tommen asked, an eyebrow arched.

Cersei shook her head, "That was your grandfather," she argued. "I never -"

"You didn't behead her husband's father after promising mercy?" Myrcella asked.

"That was -" she turned, pointing feebly toward Joffrey.

The boy snorted, "You knew the moment you left the decision to me that Ned Stark would not make it safely to the Wall, Mother," he growled. "You knew."

"You didn't leave her in the North with the Stark traitors?" Tommen asked. "They sunk their teeth into her, turned her against us, and it was all your fault, Mother. You could have stopped it."

"Robert -"

"Hah!" Joffrey sneered, pacing away from her. "Robert. You most certainly didn't make a fool out of him by getting pregnant three times off your brother while trying to pass us bastards off as his."

"You didn't love her less because she looked like him? Because she acted like him? Because he loved her more than he loved you?" Tommen asked, watching her closely.

"You didn't try to kill her when she was barely a day old?" Myrcella asked, her voice whisper soft, but hard as a stone.

Joffrey chuckled, shaking his head. "What could she possibly want revenge for, Mother?" he asked, mocking her.

"Help me," Cersei begged, her neck cracking as she looked between her three children. "Help me find a way out of here. Out of this! I was a good mother to you. I took care of you, loved you, protected you."

"It just wasn't enough," Joffrey told her, his voice echoing around the cell as he started to disappear, escaping the way that Cersei wished that she could. "You were never enough."

"Joffrey!" she snapped, reaching her shaking fingers toward the boy as he shimmered in the air before her.

"Joffrey's not here, Mother. He died, poisoned at his own wedding. Murdered for becoming the monster you raised him to be."

Cersei ignored the voice, turning instead toward Tommen as he started to disappear too. "I can't save you, Mother," he told her, his voice soft and maybe even a little regretful. "Just as you couldn't save me."

"Tommen!"

"Tommen's not here either, Mother. He died when you blew up the Sept of Baelor."

"Myrcella, you'll stay with me," she practically begged her daughter as the girl began to fade in front of her eyes. "Just as you should have all along. I never should have let the imp send you to Dorne. You would have been safe with me."

"I doubt that," a voice answered, soft and remorseful. "She would have died here if she had stayed, sooner, perhaps. With the rest of your Lannister children."

Finally Cersei turned toward the bars, only now recognizing the quiet whispers for who they belonged to. Lenora the only child she had left. The one who had sent her here to this cell. She moved quickly, snarling like an animal as she wrapped her hands around the bars. "Release me!" she ordered, her voice a growl.

Lenora barely flinched as her grey eyes lifted to her mother's and she shook her head. "I couldn't even if I wanted to, Mother," she told her. "You committed treason, a thousand times over." Her jaw clenched as she lifted her chin, trying to be strong. "You will have to face justice for that."

"Is that what your wolf husband has decided?" Cersei snarled.

"That is what I decided, Mother," Lenora told her, her voice sharp. "I was named queen in my own right. I will take Robb's thoughts and wishes into consideration, and seek out his guidance, as he often sought out mine. But this? This is for me."

Cersei shook her head. "I warned you against this," she murmured. "I told you he would turn you from your family. I am your mother -"

"You tried to kill me," Lenora told her, not rising to Cersei's bait. "You flew a white flag and then tried to kill me." She shook her head, "What kind of mother -"

But Cersei was snarling again, she could barely focus on her daughter. All she saw was red. The old frog had told her that Lenora would be the death of her. Someone younger and prettier, who would kill her after her three golden children had been taken from her.

Gold their crowns and gold their shrouds.

"I shouldn't have let Jaime save you!" she screamed, spitting in her daughter's face in her rage. "I shouldn't have let him save you! You should have died. Joffrey would still be alive if you had died. Tommen. Myrcella. They died because of you! Because of you! Because I failed -"

It was only long after, when Lenora had left her alone in the dark that Cersei realized that in her anger she had signed her own death warrant. No one, not even her daughter, would forgive her that.

She screamed out for her children, dead and alive, begging for help, forgiveness, acknowledgement. But no one came. No one would.

She was alone.

As she had been since the day Lenora was born.

-.-.-.-.-

Robb

He had waited for her when she came from the black cells, convinced that she would want to talk to him. Convinced that she would need to talk to him. But she hadn't. She barely looked at him as she walked into the solar he and the rest of them were using while they waited for her.

Her steely gaze barely drifted over him, Arya, and Gendry, before they landed on Jaime and Tyrion. Her jaw clenched as she glared at her two Lannister uncles. "You knew," she whispered, shaking her head. "And you never told me."

For a moment he thought she meant that they knew that her three youngest siblings were bastards. But that wasn't right, she had known that since the war of the five kings. She had been angry at Jaime, but when he had come back she had seemed to have forgiven him.

This was for something else.

Something worse.

"Len -" Tyrion had started, watching her with a furrowed brow.

"Doe -" Jaime tried at the same time.

She wouldn't listen to either of them. She couldn't listen to either of them. She barely spared them another glance before she turned and left the solar, her skirts rustling behind her.

It hadn't taken long after that for Jaime to tell them what she meant, what she had learned when she met Cersei in the cells below the keep, the horrible truth he and his brother had been carrying for Lenora's entire life, the one they had hid so well from her. It was no surprise that she was angry, but more than that she was hurt. Robb had seen it flashing in her grey eyes.

Her entire life she had always felt as if she wasn't enough for her mother. Good enough, smart enough, blonde enough. And to find out now that not only was she correct, but that Cersei had tried to kill her for it, had nearly succeeded. There was much that Lenora had been willing to forgive her mother for, but she couldn't forgive her everything.

She couldn't forgive this.

He stood, his fists clenched at his side as he moved toward the door. "Where are you going?" Jaime asked, his voice as hard as a blade.

"To find Lenora," Robb bit out, turning to glare over his shoulder at Jaime.

"Didn't you see her, boy?" Jaime asked, taking a step closer to him. "She doesn't want you. She doesn't want anyone. She wants to be alone."

"She doesn't want you," Robb argued, no longer glaring at the blonde Lannister over his shoulder, but turning fully to face him. "This is not the first time you've lied to her, Lannister. She doesn't want you. But if you ask me, she's had far too much time alone."

Jaime's fists clenched. "Let him go," Tyrion ordered Jaime, his mismatched eyes locked on Robb. "He's right. She's bee left alone too long." He held his hand up when Jaime opened his mouth to argue, "Not your choice, I know, but the truth all the same. She shouldn't be alone now."

"You don't even know where she is," Jaime argued, his green eyes on Robb.

"I know where she'll be," Robb told him, so sure of himself as he turned and left the solar, determined to find his wife, to keep his promise that he would never leave her again.

Not when she needed him.

Not ever.

...

The gods were good. He found her exactly where he had thought she would be. He found her in the place she often found him when he was looking for answers. The godswood. She might have been raised in the South, but she was a Northerner now, through and through. A sept and the Seven would not help her today. But the weirwood and the old gods would.

He moved quietly, picking his way over tree roots as he approached her. He wanted to sit beside her, to pull her into him and wrap his arms around her. But something in the stiff set of her shoulders kept him at bay. "There was a time when you were not as comfortable in a godswood," he murmured quietly, his gaze moving from the brunette in front of him to the tree she knelt in front of.

He thought he heard her laugh, cold and bitter. She didn't turn to look at him. "There was a time where I didn't feel welcome in one," she admitted.

"You were always welcome," he told her, his voice warm as he took a step closer to her. "I told you that many times."

She nodded, silently agreeing with him.

"What brought you to this one?" he asked as he moved to kneel beside her. For a moment he thought that she was going to turn into him, to let him wrap her up in his arms and hold her, to promise that everything would be alright. But she didn't. Her shoulders remained tense, her gaze locked on the tree in front of her, her hands remained in her lap, fingers twisted together to keep from reaching out to him. "I needed guidance," she told him, her voice soft.

"And you came here?" he asked, eyebrows lifted.

She nodded, "The Seven belong to my mother."

"Forgive me, Nora, but I no longer believe that your mother keeps any faith," he told her, his voice soft. "With any of the gods."

He watched as her lips turned up at the corner, a bitter smile as she shook her head, "Perhaps you're right," she agreed with him quietly. "Perhaps she never did."

"Nora -"

She silenced him by untangling her fingers and reaching out with one of her hands, reaching for his. He let her take his hand and she drew it closer to her, dropping it into her lap and playing with his fingers as she continued to face the weirwood. "They told you?" she asked him. "Jaime and Tyrion? They told you what she said."

"Not her exact words," Robb told her, his voice soft, the last thing he wanted to do was upset her. "You did not share what she told you, but they guessed. They told me."

"And Gendry and Aria."

"Yes."

She nodded, finally turning away from the tree, her grey eyes sweeping over his face as she watched him. "What would you do?" she asked him, her brows furrowed. "If you were in my place? What would you do?"

Kill her, the words were on the tip of his tongue. He swallowed, holding them and the fury that rose in the pit of his stomach back, away from her. It was the darkness, the one he had carried with him since the Brotherhood had found him and brought him back. The anger, the hatred. She didn't need it. And that wasn't even the question she wanted an answer to.

He shook his head, "That is not what you want to know, Nora," he told her, his voice soft. "You want to know what I would have you do."

She watched him for a moment before she nodded, "What would you have me do, then?" she asked him.

"You know the answer to that," he told her, watching her closely. "Even if she hadn't harmed you as a baby. She killed your father, she let your brother kill my father, she used your siblings to wage war against us, one that would have destroyed the entire Seven Kingdoms. And then she tried to kill you."

Again. The word hung between them. Something hard. Something ugly. Something better left unspoken.

He watched her for another long moment. "Why did you come here, Nora?" he asked her again, glancing at the weirwood. "Who did you hope to find, here?"

"Your father," Lenora answered him honestly. "I searched for him often at Winterfell. After -"

Something else hard, ugly, better left unspoken.

Robb nodded, watching her closely. "You know what to do," he told her softly. "You always have. You don't need me to tell you."

She nodded, glancing down at their hands. She knew.

Robb watched her for a long moment, "If it's too difficult -" he told her, cutting himself off with a shake of his head. Of course it would be difficult. It was her mother, after all. "I will do it."

Lenora shook her head, her grip tightening on his hand as she lifted her gaze back to his face. "No," she told him. "What was it you told me once? She who passes the judgement must swing the sword."

Robb watched her for a moment before he nodded, his chest and jaw tight. "I'll be right beside you," he promised her. "You'll never be alone again."

"And neither will you," she promised.


Author's Note:

Just a brief one, but I don't know if I have it in me to write a long one. Not today.
But I do want to take a moment to thank all of you. Everyone who has been waiting patiently (or not so patiently :D) for this long-awaited update.
I am so sorry.
I do want you to know, that even when I wasn't updating. I read every review you all posted during my long hiatus and I appreciated every single one of them.
I still do.
So here, is my first update back. I can't promise regular updates at this time, there's a lot going on in my life, but as I have always promised, I will not abandon this story. I will not abandon Robb and Lenora.
I will not abandon you.
I can probably promise at least one update a month until the end of this story. Which ... according to my outline, is five chapters away.
We'll be done by Christmas!
I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. And to those wonderful souls who found Lenora and Hell Hath No Fury during this long quarantine and isolation: Welcome, I hope that my characters were able to bring you some light, some laughter, some love during this tricky time.
I hope everyone is safe and healthy.
I will see you soon.
And if you want to review, tell me how you are, tell me that you liked this update, tell me that you're still here. I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time,
Chloe Jane.