Jennisei was in the stables, grooming Winter after having brought him his daily feed. The morning had already stretched out far too long and half the Castle was still yet to rise. Those that were awake were only the servants, busying themselves with the clean up of last nights feast and the morning rituals. And him.
Roose had not been with her when she had woke, for the most part she had been glad. The emptiness of her chamber allowed her to think as the images from the evening replayed over and over in her mind. The softness of his lips against her neck, his rough leather worn hands pawing at her bare skin, his weight crushing down on her as they both gasped for breath.
What had she done? What had she been thinking?
Was it her unwillingness to marry? Had this all been an unconscious act to ruin herself so no other man would want her? She had stained herself and it was not a one which could be removed, not ever. She was a stupid girl; a girl unable to make a good decision. Never had she known the difference between good and bad; right or wrong. Her gut told her to deny Jaime and she had been right, but she put herself though the embarrassment anyway. Her gut had told her to push Lord Bolton away, to run back into the hall and take her seat next to Jorah Mormont; a good man with a good offering. But she had not. Now, the ache between her things was a temporary reminder of the mistake she had made.
What man would want her now?
None. But that was good…was it not? Why did she not know anymore? Why was she so unable to make a judgement on her own minds wishes? What had happened over the past two years to make her so weak? She could not blame Jaime for that, no, this was beyond him. This was all her doing. Jennisei had weakened herself, removed herself from all that she was and all that she had once believed in.
Yes, she fought well. Yes, she trained, she was committed to those activities and she was strong unlike any other woman in the Deepwood. But she was no woman, she was no man, she was barely living. A drifter, a shell, a ghost. Her feet were not planted to the soil beneath her, she floated, waiting for the day her purpose would call to her so she could land and live it out.
Would it ever come? Would there ever be a purpose? Or was this it…a bed warmer for visiting lord. A whore. A disappointment.
The clashes of swords outside from Henry and Roose were deafening. She had seen him as she had walked from the servants kitchen to the stable and had dropped her eyes, only focusing on the dirt being crushed beneath her boots. Jennisei did not have any idea in the World of what she was supposed to do or how she was supposed to act. How did he want her to perform? It obviously had to be kept hushed; what they had done was disgusting, but it was not unheard of.
The sounds of fighting stopped, but the change was lost on Jennisei as she brushed down the white wires naturally blending into grey. Winter was the one soul in her life who had not changed. He had never crossed her, apart from the time he bolted upon seeing a mole in the Wolfswood, he had never wronged her and he had not changed. He always remained the same loyal beast who would carry her to the ends of the World should she ask his too.
Winter whined, knocking his front hood off the stone floor with a grunt as a shadow loomed in the doorway behind Jennisei's back.
"Hush, silly boy."
"You tend to your own horse?" The voice startled her, so deep it disturbed the dust layered upon the bails of hay. Jennisei gasped.
"I do not trust any other man to do a better job." She kept her back from him, seeking comfort in the warmth of Winter's head beneath her hand. But on her third breath, a one so strong it rattled her rib cage, Jennisei turned to meet the presence of Roose Bolton. "May I be of help, My Lord."
"You are not a stable hand." There was a pause, a silence which was drawn out in front of them, unending; until Roose stepped forward. "Are you planning to ride, My Lady?" Jennisei took a great step back, enough to match his double, and her lips fixed into a straight, narrow line. "Do I frighten you?"
"No." Jennisei's voice was firm.
This time, when he advanced, she didn't retreat. The girl did not even flinch when he got so close as to reach out and pat the neck of her stallion. "Must I be forced to ask you again?" Roose's tone was teasing. For the first time since they had met she noticed a smirk teasing the corner of his mouth.
"Yes...I am. Same as every morning." She wanted to move away and get to fixing the saddle. She wanted to get away from this man but he kept her stuck to the spot just by simply being there.
She prayed for a stable boy to interrupt them but like always, the Gods did not answer her prayers.
"Would you accept my company on this morning, My Lady?"
Jennisei tipped her chin up, her cheeks hollowed in curiosity. "Why would you want to offer me your company Lord Bolton?"
Men. They were strange beings. Everyone of them different, like a snowflake of the long winter. Some were kind, some were weak, some were hopeless, most were stupid. Roose was none of these things, Roose was harsh, cold, complicated. Looking at him now, he looked like he wanted to push her away, but he was drawing her closer; the fact tore her mind and twisted the fragments together until they blended into one ball of uselessness.
When he kissed her this time it was softer. Lord Bolton did not pull at her like she was some rag toy he was allowed to play with, he held her. He held her in his arms like she was his.
As they separated, Jennisei frowned and dragged her eyes slowly across every line in his face. He did not have many, he was still young, but that only meant that the ones that were there often meant something. A frown, anger, a lie, irrigation. She could see non of those, and so she matched his faint smile.
"Yes. You may join me."
The Wolfswood was calm. The warm breeze coming in from the south had caused both riders in the small party to shed their fur cloaks. Together, they rode in almost matching tunics, enjoying the silence and escape nature offered. There was not one banner is sight, no drunken fools, no one.
"Tell me, Lady Jennisei." Bolton spoke as he reached for the pouch of wine from his belt and handed it first to the Lady riding beside him. "Why the hate for the life of a Lady?" Expecting water, she coughed, choking and spluttering on the rich liquid. She heard Roose laugh and she scowled as she passed the leather goblet back to him.
"I do not hate it." She responded after catching her breath. "I just..." No, he was right. Not completely correct, she did not hate it. There were much worse situations she could have been born into or found herself in. "I find it hard to understand sometimes...it's hard to explain my Lord. But the way our lives our so planned, decades before we are born. Your father was told to marry your mother, they were told to have you. Already you know that your grandson with rule the castle you yourself do not even yet rule." Jennisei paused to take a breath, she was barely blinking she focused that hard on the way things were meant to be, the story she had been told as a child. Only it wasn't a story, it was her life.
The entire play out of her life had been fed to her slowly, piece by piece, since she was a babe. There were no surprises anymore. Jaime had been a surprise but she bet that nothing could overthrow that going forward.
"Did you adopt that opinion from your mother?" It didn't take long for Jennisei to shake her head, scoffing.
"Does my mother look like she agrees with me?" She mocked. Amira Rosemyre was a proud woman from another proud Northern House. She had done her duty, marrying who her father told her to marry; a good man from a good House, who now spent his days drowning in wine and fearing the ghosts of a war won. "It was my father that pushed this. Teaching me the basics of everything all before I was ten." Roose rose his eyes brows at hearing this. "He liked the idea of me being able to protect myself should the event ever arise."
"Your father is a smart man."
Jennisei hummed in disapproval. "He used to be. Before the war."
"War changes a man." Roose spoke, his voice rising so to be heard over the rustling of trees.
The track they followed was a winding one, they were blind until every next every corner. The trees had not returned to being fully green yet, they were still partially bare but growing. Summer was still finding itself but that was alright, the longer it took to come, the longer it would stay.
"All of them return with their own demons, My Lady."
"Jennisei." Roose turned to her. "My name is Jennisei. You may address me as such." A nod confirmed his acceptance, his matching allowance did not follow. "You would prefer Lord?" She laughed, relaxing as she swayed easily in her saddle.
"What man would not?" Only the sounds of horses hooves could be heard, trudging along the dirt path and compacting the dirt. The trails needed to be rediscovered, having been washed away and lost by the snow. "See me again tonight." It was a demand, his voice deep and possessive.
"I…" Do not be weak; the voice whispered in her head. Do not show weakness that is what they want. "That would not be wise." There was another voice too, standing beside the brave little girl living amongst her thoughts, the second stood taller, stronger but less wise. "What is someone were to notice?"
Roose Bolton pulled his horse from the path suddenly, Jennisei pulled to a sudden stop her own steed from walking by and watched on in wonder. He reached a tree, dismounted and then waited; she assumed he was waiting for her.
Jennisei only kept him waiting a small while, then she too dropped from the back of her horse and went to him.
They were a match, not in either of their own eyes, but to anyone that would happen to stumble across them. The same grey cloud hovered over their souls, threateningly ominous. They were both smart, however only one of them had fine tuned it; the other was lost, possibly even unaware of it. Men of few words, stood under the Gods, amongst the wolves.
This time, it was her who kissed him. Pressing up onto the tips of her toes, Jennisei grabbed at his tunic and gasped as his hand went to the laces of her leggings.
She took sharp inhale and pulled back but he held her still, unlike he had at any time the previous night. Roose pressed her forehead hard against her own and his hand never stopped undoing her overclothes. "Who is there to notice?"
He pushed her until the rough surface of the tree scratched her back through the thin shirt she wore and then pushed her leggings down, pulling up her leg to wrap around his waist. With her body firmly held between his and the unforgiving bark, he undid his own breeches and took her mouth again.
He would have her when he wanted her, when he needed her. Whether she wanted him too or not…Jennisei was not sure if he would have stopped should she ask him to. But she didn't ask him to, so she rid herself of that fear and gave in to that bold voice in her head screaming 'yes' and gave herself to him again.
The sun was already high but still rising over the sea, when she woke the next morning. Large, fine furs were laid over Jennisei's slender but toned body. The helped keep her warm through the cold northern night, as did the warm body lying by her side. For having such cold features, his skin was warm against her own; from his mouth lapping at her breast to her feet pressing against his leg as she came. She could still feel Roose lying behind her and after a few seconds of relishing in the morning light and staring out at the skies of a new day, her eyes went wide and she sat up in the bed.
His squire would come soon. Or his father to see why his son had not broke his fast along side him and his Lady wife. One of them would come knocking on the door before long, and then they would find her. The other squires would find out, her hand maidens would find out, Lord Bolton would…
The violence tug at the sheets from her sitting had woke Roose and it took him a second to get used to his surroundings. Looking down at himself and then towards Jennisei as she sat bare at the edge of his bed trying to get her her dress, he couldn't resist smiling and grabbing her wrist. She was caught by surprise and his strength brought her falling back to him before she could stand to dress.
"Where are you going?" He grumbled, his voice heavy with sleep.
"Leaving. It is late, people will come soon."
She had not intended to stay the night. Upon returning from the woods with Lord Bolton, her father had been waiting for her. He had not looked happy but he had not looked unpleased either; never the less Jennisei had assumed the worse. She had excused herself from a Lord Boltons presence, straightened herself out and followed him into his study. An offer had been made for her hand, she was so surprised. The old bear had indeed found her father early that morning and told Stephan his son and she were to marry. 'A pleasant match' Stephan had said. Pleasant. Not grande, not smart…pleasant.
Lemon cakes were pleasant. Sewing lessons were pleasant. Some weeds were pleasant.
She was not a woman who was going to settle for pleasant. She would not allow her father to sell her off for a cause he only deemed to be pleasant.
Jennisei had been seething, but she had held her tongue and nodded. Of course, she would marry the Mormont boy. They would marry at Bear Island on the next full moon. A fine end to a bloody war.
There was some pride in her for having gave herself to another before she was to be tied to another for life. At least now she had a story to keep to herself, a secret to keep, something strange and interesting and fun to hold on to. At least she was not going to be like all the ladies before her.
However, she did hold some guilt, and that came when thinking of Jorah Mormont. He deserved better, she was complained and he was being committed to a life long sentence with a scorned, stubborn whore.
Going to Roose later that same evening had been a mistake, she knew it was. Going to his chambers, asking for him to take her into his bed just so she could stop thinking for one moment…it was stupid. It was childish. But it was done.
"I've barred the door." He spoke slowly and softly tugged on her arm until she fell onto his chest with a small thump. "No one is getting in this room unless I want them too. Amd no one is leaving, unless I allow them too."
"I am not yours." She tried to resist, but Roose forced her lips down on to his as she squirmed. "Stop."
"Let me tell you something..." Taking her chin in his hand, he held Jennisei still with her lips contorted against the shape of his hand. "My lady." Trailing off with a sarcastic murmur, Roose old focused his eyes on hers, a silent order for her to listen. "I decide what is mine. The Mormont boy had no claim on you yet. And even when he does…"
"What?" Jennisei scoffed, quirking her brow and pulling her face from his grasp. "You will travel to Bear Island to bed me? I am honoured to be worth travelling for." Her words were low, a back and forth of wanting to be heard and wanting him to miss them, as she pushed herself up and started to climb from the bed once more.
"A girl had found her tongue." Roose grabbed her wrist, halter her actions and making her still. "You will hold it unless you want to loose it for good." He was jesting, or so she was almost sure. She had not spent long in his presence but it was long enough to recognise that ill sense of humour and the purse of his lips.
"You do not threaten me."
"Nor you me." Roose smiled and then it quickly fell. "I leave in a few days time. Are these your last days in The Deepwood?"
Jennisei choked and threatened to laugh again. "You almost sound sad about the fact." Standing, she pulled on a loose shirt belonging to a Roose and walked over to the open window, looking out of the coast. Behind her, Roose's eyes focused hard on her back, her behind and the long slender build of her legs. "But yes, I imagine so. Bear Island…"
"The woman are trained to fight there, from the age of four. You will fit in well." She rolled her eyes and poured herself a cup of wine. How many times had she heard that while held amongst the four walls of her fathers study?
"You sound like my father." She looked back over her shoulder, her brow already a roll of creases. "You are going to miss my cunt when you leave."
She had never heard Roose laugh before like he did then, boyish and loud. After pouring him a cup of wine, all thoughts of the imaginary approaching squire forgotten, Jennisei brought it to him and sat at the edge of his bedside.
Roose raised his glass as she took a drink. "To the happy couple, may your years together be happy and long." He though she was going to throw her wine over him, or at least try to swing at him. Then she smiled and tipped her cup to him, the dark wood knocking together gently.
"Here's to that."