Hello! Wow, I can't believe it, for the first time in years, a plot bunny stuck and ran and took me with it :D
I'm very excited about this story, it has been a pleasure to write it.
This story will be a relatively short one with a few chapters, and I would have kept it a one shot, but it was getting long and I was too excited so here it is
Context: Jeyne Westerling's story with Robb happened as it did in the books. the Red Wedding happened as it did in the books, but Jon Snow and Sansa Stark retook Winterfell, and Jon was still crowned as it is in the show.
Big thanks for Darkwolf76 for helping me decide what to do with this plot bunny and her encouragement and for her help in editing :D
Please enjoy and lemme know what you think ;D
High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts…
Her marriage had been a fruitless one, though not for lack of trying. It was treachery and lies that kept her womb empty, it was her trust and love for the woman who she'd called 'mother'. The years had made her cold, but her mother's betrayal made her suspicious. Hateful, even.
After Robb was murdered alongside his lady mother, Blackfish Tully kept them safe within Riverrun—she and her mother. Her brother, Raynald, had stayed at home, to keep the Craig secure. When Edmure the Fool surrendered the castle, mother was so quick to snatch the crown she'd saved. She still had a little scar on her cheek from where mother's ring broke open the skin.
Oh how she'd wailed when mother confessed that she'd made sure Robb had no heir. Her husband was dead, and he'd left them no children to make her suffering bearable. The wolves howled no more, and Jeyne doubted they ever would again.
"You'll be promised to a high lord, Jeyne. A better lord, one not so foolish as Robb Stark." Her mother's eyes had gleamed with promise, and though her voice hadn't been kind, there was something about Sybell Spicer's promise that made Jeyne realize her mother was trying to assure her.
What kind of woman thought it reassuring to tell a grieving widow that she was better off now that her husband was dead? What sort of mother already planned for her child's second marriage, so soon after death?
For the first time in her life, Jeyne had wanted to hurt her own mother. Blinded with rage, Jeyne had reached for her mother's face, intent on clawing out her eyes, but a guard had stopped her before she could. She never tried again, too lost in grief, too busy chasing her ghosts.
When the siege had ended, the former queen was taken back to the Craig, her womb empty, her heart broken, not a crown in sight.
Years passed—the snows came just as Robb had always said they would. She was twenty when the North was won back by the Starks. The Lannisters had promised her wretched mother another marriage two years after Robb's murder, but circumstances Jeyne had no heart to care for had halted their plans.
Jeyne had found some paltry form of satisfaction to see her mother's displeasure at promises unfilled. And yet still, it wasn't the justice she deserved. It wasn't enough, it would never be enough. Not to avenge Robb, sweet, good, beautiful Robb.
When the west fell to northern forces, she and her family had been put in chains and escorted to Golden Tooth—where all Lannister supporters were to bend the knee or face the sword. Jeyne thought of death with idle curiosity. Since Robb's death three years before, she had become a sullen, cold shell of her former self.
Haunted. A ghost haunting the Craig. Even her brother said so.
Sleep was hard to come, and elixirs and dreamwine did her little good. So Jeyne walked. She walked the ruin of her castle at the Craig, walked the grounds outside, inside, outside and back again. She walked until sleep relented and came for her.
She first saw King Jon as they were ushered into the court yard, astride his horse, clad in wolf's furs and his dark northern features drawn. He looked very much like a king, though not at all like her dead husband. He was colder, a northerner with the stuff of winter in his heart, wolf's blood running hot in his veins.
Jeyne expected death, but she was spared where other lords had lost their heads. After all, she had been a queen, once. The Queen in the North, wife of King Robb Stark, the Young Wolf. Robb had given her a crown to match his, heavy and iron and ugly, but a crown all the same. Jon Snow, her husband's base born brother was King in the North now, and brought the west to its knees. He wasn't as Robb described him to be. Jon Snow was much colder than she'd imagined him.
But he still loved his brother, and when he learned her name, he relieved her of her chains, and gave her a room, food and warm wine.
"Your mother will die." He told her in the pale morning light of the chambers he'd given her, his voice somber, his face stoic, though he gazed upon her with something akin to pity. After all, what woman wouldn't feel her heart break to know their mother was promised for death?
She needed it not.
"It's what she deserves." She had answered. But King Jon's mercy had been given when she'd asked for it. "She betrayed me, and it cost me my husband, least of all. But I ask you spare her life. A cruel, lying traitor, and still she is my mother."
"What would you have me do with her, then, my lady?"
"Send her, penniless, to Essos."
During the years, she thought of all the ways to avenge Robb, all the things she would do to the people who had hurt him, his lady mother and his army. Jon Snow and his sisters had done away with the Boltons and Freys. At the very least, Jeyne wanted to punish her mother in the ways she'd thought of as she stared up at the canopy.
And what better way to let her suffer than in poverty, a scheming climber like her. She who would have given her daughter to a Lannister.
"Let her find her way there, let her go hungry and beg and be humiliated." The thought pleased her, and she knew she should be ashamed of it, but she thought of Robb and all the sons they'd planned for. The little wolves her mother had stolen from her. "Let her grow old, and brittle and die alone in a strange country, knowing she put herself there when she conspired with Tywin Lannister."
The bastard king regarded her a moment.
"They said you were sweet, and kind." His voice was softer this time. From what he had learned from those who knew his brother's queen, Jeyne Westerling had been sweet, warm and almost timid. Gentle, he had thought. Robb had liked girls who blushed, girls with soft hands and gentle temperament.
Robb had loved her enough to forsake his vow to House Frey, a mistake that cost him his mother and dozens of northern lords their lives. A sad song, but not the truth. While some spoke of the Young Wolf's love for his Westerling bride, others spoke of the green boy who took the maidenhead of a highborn girl, and married her to make it right. Robb was honourable as their lord father, perhaps even more so, and it had killed them both the same.
Robb's reasons were nothing, now. He was dead, and his childless queen had remained.
"I was." She said, folding her hands. "Then my husband was murdered, and my own mother provided the knife to his killers."
"As you wish, my lady." Sybell Spicer was nothing to him, and her betrayal was felt sharpest by her daughter. He could grant her the justice she wanted without feeling it was stolen. It would never be enough for Jeyne, not truly. But she would take what she could claim. "I beg you, make your brother bend the knee. I have no wish to take House Westerling from the world."
Tears came to Jeyne's eyes then, and Jon knew he'd upset her. Of course she was upset. Her mother was sentenced to die in exile and he'd just threatened her brother with the block. The former queen sniffed, a dainty hand coming to brush away her tears. Jon sat back, solemn and regretful.
"He will yield." She croaked. "He will." But perhaps he shouldn't, some evil thought said. Perhaps House Westerling should be torn root and stem from this world. "I'll make sure he obeys. But I will not stay here. I can't."
"You're free, my lady. Free to go where you choose." Jon promised her, leaning forward and resting his hand on the table, but not daring to take her hand in his. The king sighed softly. Where would she go without funds, without guards to protect her? Robb would come back if only to murder him if he didn't protect her. "You will always have a place in Winterfell, my lady. If you ever choose to come north, you will have a home."
Jeyne sniffled once more, keeping her eyes locked on the rushes on the floor to hide the wet shame on her face.
The new King in the North told her she was free. She could go wherever she wanted, and no one would ever take her captive again. But the south was where Robb had died, a place whose beauty hid the evil beneath. So her eyes turned north.
It was odd, that she would find herself settled in Winterfell, the home of her husband. But Sansa Stark was kind, and if she saw a threat in Jeyne's presence, she thought better to keep her close at hand. It did not matter to Jeyne. Let Sansa Stark play her game, but she could rest easy. Jeyne wanted no crown, she wanted no power or say in the matters of the Northern Kingdom.
When last she donned a crown, it had cost her dearly and she would never be as she was.
Her heart only longed for peace.
Peace was quiet, and soon, she found, her ghosts had come north with her. There were few distractions in Winterfell, and so her days were often long, spent talking with a few ladies in the castle, knitting, treating with the Lady of Winterfell and simply walking through the grounds. Winterfell had gained a new ghost, all the way from the westerlands.
Her time with Sansa was of great comfort to Jeyne—she and Robb had the same hair, the same eyes…but as Lady of Winterfell, often, the younger girl was too busy to receive her. Jeyne admired the younger girl, she was smart and she was kind and knew that the common folk needed food and safety above all else. Sansa wanted no more wars, same as Jeyne. Rarely did she sit with Arya, the Avenging Wolf as she was called by the small folk. She was good too. Swift with her blade, but good. Never did she meet with Bran Stark, and never did she want to.
But at night, her ghosts would visit her.
The dead do not speak, they are as silent as their own graves. But they watch.
Robb first came to her the night he was murdered. He was a horror to behold that first night because how could he be standing by her bedside when he was miles away at the Twins? Jeyne knew the moment she saw him, but hadn't wanted to believe it. She'd screamed so loudly, half of Riverrun had come running. Jeyne had thought he was only a horrible dream, because he was gone when the guards barged into the room. She'd thought she was going mad, then he came the next night, then the next and the one after that. Then word came to Riverrrun that their northern king was dead.
Sometimes she still wondered if she was.
But in the years that came after, Robb's presence kept the torches glowing, kept the dark at bay, kept her from ending it all. And though every moment she looked upon him, unable to touch him, unable to hear to him, Jeyne looked forward to his visits. He was the sweetest torment she did not know how to be without, not anymore.
Robb would walk at her side, stand beside her bed while she tried to sleep, stand at the door when she knit by the fire…almost every night he came, and almost every night Jeyne went deep into the hours of the night without sleep. He was not as he was the day they murdered him; he was as clean and handsome as he had been in life. But perhaps that only made her longing worse.
She could not tell the moment her mother died, but she knew the day. One evening, only Robb had come to her, and the next, it had been her mother.
Her mother's dark eyes watched her, soft and sad. So very sad. Jeyne felt an uncomfortable urge to comfort the woman, but she pushed the urge aside. "You would have died in disgrace, anyway. I had you spared." She said, turning away from the sight of her. Jeyne hugged herself tight, praying that her mother would leave her be. Her eyes burned, but she refused to let her tears fall. The woman had taken enough tears from her.
Mother, she thought. I loved you, I trusted you, and you betrayed me worse than any enemy would have. And now she was dead, and haunted the daughter she'd destroyed.
She turned her head, regarding the ghost over her shoulder. "It was more than you deserve." And yet her voice had lost it's malice, and was as softly uttered as a frightened child. She hated her. Hated. The pure, trusting love only a child could have for their mother had soured, and she hoped no peace came to her in death. But Sybell Spicer would always be her mother, and her betrayal would never cease to cut Jeyne to the very core.
But it is a terrible thing to realize ambition had been more important than love.
Mother stayed with her the rest of the night, walking behind her when she wandered throughout Winterfell.
When Jeyne stopped at the battlements to watch out at the black abyss of the moors, mother crept closer. Jeyne couldn't look at her, but she could see from the corner of her eye that Sybell stood beside her. When she sat before the heart tree, mother sat beside her, staring down into the black water of the pond. Jeyne wondered if her mother was too ashamed to look up at the weeping face of the heart tree. When she went back to her chambers, exhausted beyond coherence, Jeyne blinked up at her mother, and for a moment, thought she was a little girl again, back at the Craig. She dreamed her mother kissed her head, but it could only be a dream.
Then, when morning came, mother had gone and never came back again.
Often, the remaining Starks and the Bastard King would invite her to sup with them, and Jeyne accepted each invitation. It was good to have people around, to be close to people who had known and loved Robb. Sometimes they would talk about better days, about growing up in Winterfell. Never about the wars, and Jeyne was grateful.
For a short time, she got to hear of a more peaceful, innocent, happier time in her husband's life. She could imagine him smiling, light, unburdened by war and leadership. She could imagine her with him, what their lives would have been like if they had met in a world without wars, without lies and thrones.
Jenny of Oldstones is a beautiful song
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