Just a lil bit o info:
In my Story, Robb was crowned King BEFORE Ned was executed, so Ned's alive yet but in the black dungeons of the Red Keep, and Robb is King. He has not sent Catelyn to gain Stannis' support yet because his main concern is keeping his father and sister's alive, and the best way to do that is by not siding with their enemies (the Lannister's) enemies, ie) the Baratheon's. He has a hope that this war could be resolved peacefully enough if the Lannister's give him back his family...all hopes of that are flushed down the toilet the second Joffrey (the little cunt) orders Ned to die. To Joffrey and Robb, it is fucking on! But you guys are smarties, I don't need to explain my reasoning, but I did because I know crap gets confusing
They had been riding for what felt like small hours before the van came to a stop as night fell. Robb liked the simple calm times in between making camps, because once a camp was set, the war came rushing back to him in the form of petitions, and plans and maps. There was also the ugly, gruesome side of war that Robb had become familiar with.
He came back with red stains on his armour and skin every time he went off to destroy the Lannister's. At first he'd been horrified. He'd taken a life, watched those last desperate attempts to survive, fail. For a moment, he felt like the boy who had watched his father behead a traitor all those years ago. He was not like Robert Baratheon, he did not look to killing as sport; men were not boars nor bears nor deer. After that it was just easier to pretend every man he and his wolf killed, brought him closer to liberating his father and sisters.
So far, the path to King's Landing was a far one. Stannis and Renly both had named themselves king of the Iron Throne, gathering their hosts in the south, at each other's throats rather than the enemies. Stannis, they said, had a broom stick up his ass so far that he'd never bend to anyone else who named themselves king. Robb suspected that Stannis awaited his support, but Robb's main concern was his father and sisters' safety. Yet with each battle they lost more and more troops, and as the Baratheon's stood against one another in the south, Robb remained in the North, with only 20,000 men to defend it from attack.
Robb let out a weary sigh. He didn't want to be at war, he wanted his sisters back at Winterfell and safe; he wanted to go home, though his mother sometimes seemed to doubt his motives. It wasn't that Lady Catelyn did not trust her son, she simply worried about the way he made war, worried over his motives. She would wonder if he was intentionally drawing out this war for glory or to prove his capability as King, but either way, it hurt his pride as King and his heart as her son, to know Catelyn did not have complete faith in him as she should have.
He often wondered if that was how he seemed to the world, a green boy with romantic notions of glory in battle, an ambitious sod that enjoyed the vanity of a crown, or something else entirely.
Oddly, he found himself thinking of the Hoff threesome—the lone female in particular. There was nothing wrong with thinking of her, he told himself, she was strange, an interesting woman that piqued his interest in a puzzle or mystery, nothing else.
What did they—what did she—think of him? He hoped she saw that he didn't want to steal her away, he didn't want her hate. Robb wanted to go home, he knew the ache of being somewhere so far from all you knew, and did not wish that for Adriena.
Perhaps, he thought, that's why Adriena seems so...intriguing. She wanted to go home as well; she protected her siblings like he protected his...odd how he held something in common with that strange woman who lived her life among the trees like an animal. She didn't look like a forest dweller either, adding to his interest. She looked...pretty.
With noble girls, you could see they had been groomed all their lives, their hair sleek and soft as silk, their skin white and without blemish. The way they carried themselves with grace and poise was in everything they did, from walking to eating to smiling. With common women, they were sturdy, hard work showing on their rough hands, hair tangled and dry, and demeanor rough and blunt. Adriena seemed to be somewhere between the two, a lovely mix of high ranking elegance, and low born knowledge.
He looked toward her again, wondering which of the two she really was: a lady or a savage. Before, when she'd thanked him, the lady had shone through, bright and warm, like the sun on a cloudy day. She had smiled at him unexpectedly; her words had been softer than he'd ever heard them, her voice teasing. And she had looked back to find him smiling at her...odd creature the savage girl, surprising him even in the most subtle of ways.
At the moment, she was looking at the newest man to her small entourage, speaking lowly in conversation. The man murmured something back to her that caused Adriena to break out into a smile, turning her head away to hide her giggles.
Something tugged ever so faintly at that, seeing how the boy was able to coax a smile from her lips so easily. When she was around him, however, she was tense, uneasy and watched Grey Wind the way most people did: fearing attack, fearing him. Robb knew it was to be expected, for who wouldn't be frightened around a wolf as big as a pony?
Still, it bothered Robb more than he thought it would. Grey Wind was like...more than a brother, more than a friend. Grey Wind was like a limb, as essential and precious to Robb as his sword hand, a part of him that would cripple him to be without.
He would dream he ran through the forest in his wolf's body, seeing through eyes that were not his own, trees rushing past him, large paws breaking twigs and dead leaves, lunging and ripping into an unsuspecting buck or fox. It was an indescribable experience when he saw the world through Grey Wind's eyes. It bonded them, and to fear Grey Wind, was to fear Robb. And he did not want to be feared by Adriena, because she was already afraid of this new world, surrounded by big men, away from all she knew and Robb took no pleasure in seeing any women's frightened eyes. Although, admittedly, seeing Cersei Lannister frightened wouldn't bother him...
Robb recalled with distaste how terrified Adriena had looked when they met before the heart-tree, hiding behind the thick trunk of the tree, almost looking like a child hiding from a monster, vulnerable and small. She was so much like a doe, cautious, flinching away from a stranger's touch, always ready to dash away.
Robb frowned. He didn't want to scare the girl. He...he wasn't sure what he wanted her to feel toward him, but fear and loathing were not it.
Grey Wind would never attack her; he was just as curious about the woman as Robb was. She gave off a certain scent, something exotic and feral, something earthly and rich. It was alluring, and not at all common in humans and the dire wolf would have been trotting about the woman, sniffing in her peculiar scent, had Robb not kept him close. She was terrified of the creature after all.
When he began to care for the woman's fears over his wolf, he did not know, he did not question it.
Robb looked back at Adriena once more, liking the way her nose bunched up at whatever her brother said to her. From beside him, Grey Wind gave a whine, and when Robb looked back to his trusted companion, he told the grey giant to run and hunt, away from camp, away from him...away from her.
"I swear, Addry, both you and Vyncent have nothing else but rocks in your head at times." Symon chided as he wrapped her foot. Adriena frowned. Only her sisters could call her Addry, everyone else either called her Adriena or Addy.
He knelt before her as she sat on her little cot in the tent all the stewards shared, wincing and huffing through the pain as he prodded her swollen ankle. It wasn't broken, but it was sprained, made worse by her walking on it.
Her pride had taken a blow, and her brash heart acted too quickly and saw walking on it as if she were not hurt, as the only means to regain her pride. I couldn't let them think that I could be cowed into submission, she thought, even though it very nearly worked, she grimaced as she looked down at her foot once was clear to see that the weak were devoured in this world at war, and she had no interest in being devoured. Tears didn't get you what you wanted, so cry in secret and put on a brave face; that is what her father taught her. But, by the gods, it hurt to be brave and strong! This mask of strength wouldn't hold up forever.
"Shut up." She gasped as he tied the cotton together. "Men have rocks in their heads, women have wood. Men sink and women float." She jested weakly, thinking of all the times Vyncent and other boys she knew let their tempers get the better of them. Vyncent was more reckless than she, by far, but because he was male and she was female, Vyncent tended to get away with it more.
"Men have a fire born in them," Aunt Samyella had told her. "It grows and burns bright in their youth, hot and frightening, but dims with age. Women are water, cool and ever-changing, fierce and unpredictable, washing away even the earth if it chooses, but yet can be calm and shimmering. Water tempers fire and so can a woman, tame a man." She loved her Aunt Samyella, and missed her wise words, even though they were not always true. A woman could not tame a man, no more than a farmer could tell the sun "More sun" or the rain "More rain". A sharp ache struck her chest as she thought of her beloved aunt, sisters and father.
Symon grinned. "It's gonna hurt for a while, so stay off it. Don't know what the stewards will do without their new pack mule." Adriena hit him hard as she could on the shoulder.
"Shut up," she said, in too much pain to bring much malice into her tone. "Ah!" she gasped as he patted her ankle before standing.
"What's the matter with you? Are you as big a fool as you were in Hoff or did you not feel the pain?" Symon's once jesting tone had turned into the tone that parents use to scold a child. This annoyed her, she was not a child. Yes she had made brash choices in Hoff, had gone off alone, come back with scrapes and cuts and bruises, she had shamed boys with her bow skills, and scared away suitors with her overprotective habits over her sisters. But what man or woman of eight-and-ten isn't a bit stupid or brash? After all, Robb Stark was her age and playing at war.
"I don't need you to lecture me, Symon." She said crossly. "I've had enough of that from Vynce, father and the bat who raised me. You are none of them, so don't talk like you are."
"Sorry, I just don't understand what made you do it." He muttered to himself. She glared up at him, her cheeks flushed and red. "Maybe," he said, almost sounding annoyed, "if you show some emotion, they'll realize you're a woman and leave you be." Symon suggested sincerely.
"Or maybe they'll realize I'm a girl and treat me the way some of them treat other girls: put their hands up my skirt, throw me something shiny in exchange for my charms or maybe just take what they want." she snapped back. It was a scary idea he had. She was afraid of what these men were capable of, and believed if she was hardened and strong as steel, they wouldn't hurt her.
Adriena knew what some men were capable of; her father had told her how the world worked on her fourteenth year, how some men drew pleasure from chaos and suffering. He had burned such a man that year, and spoke bluntly to her when she asked why. Her village was small and there had been a man like that there. King Stark's army was vast, so there was sure to be more than one vile creature in the great lot of them, and one could not count out the fact that her people had attacked them.
"It's a risk," Symon admitted, coming to sit beside her. "But the world is filled with risks. Adriena you try to be braver and stronger than you need to be. Vyncent and I'll keep you safe."
Yes, how wonderfully that worked out, she thought miserably looking down at her swollen foot. She knew it wasn't fair, but the bitterness that came with feeling wounded pulled and tugged at her patience fast. She trusted them, wholly and entirely with her life; she knew they'd never hurt her, or let her be hurt...she just couldn't find a way to somehow trust the strangers around them enough to let her guard down.
"Leave me," she said tiredly. "And find Vyncent and bring him back here before he does something stupid."Adriena ordered, too tired to try to sound demanding. Symon waited a moment, glaring at her stubborness, but left without another word.
Adriena sighed. She usually took pleasure when people did her bidding without question, but she got no satisfaction in ordering Symon. Symon had a good heart, he was kind and loyal, but had a tendency to "overstep his bounds", as Arwin said. She had never understood that until now, because now Symon was telling her something she did not want to hear.
Looking down at the ugly, swollen and bruised foot, she felt a prickle of regret.
Time went on, day after day, one week and then the next, and each time the sun went down and came up once more, Adriena, Vyncent and Symon moved farther and farther from home, and their wounds healed until the sharp, unbearable hurt, faded to dull throbs. The wound on her side was still healing, the scar a deep pink, jagged in shape and tender to the touch still. The farther she went, the more the mark faded and she thought when the blemish was a pale scar on her skin, she would have been gone from her family for too long.
Years and years of grooming and knowing she was destined for high position, Adriena found her new role as a "pack mule" as Symon and Vyncent so eloquently called her, menial and humiliating. The work was easy enough, though hard most days, leaving her with the stiff joints of a woman twice her age. Symon and Vyncent were at ease with their "jobs" as stable hands, and Adriena was glad for them. The two knew horses and mules better than she, and why shouldn't they be placed into a familiar area just because they were captives? Adriena was familiar with chores but she had hated meeting new faces every day, but she was getting used to it, even learning little facets about the men she traded supplies with everyday.
The man who she got the apples in her arms from, his name was Phyllip. He was a crooked old man with no teeth and a permanent scowl on his face. From the first time she'd gone to see him (she didn't see him often as apples were a luxury now), he scowled at her and from then on she'd dreaded seeing him and never spoke unless he grunted at her with a question. But then one day during the trip before the last, he'd heard her empty belly make an embarrassingly loud gurgle and threw her an apple, round, red and sweet on her tongue. He still had that scowl, but he seemed somehow sweeter to Adriena with just that one kind act.
There was a skinny lad that had her pack wheat and straw was smiley and sweet, but she often saw him kicking a skinny old hound that lingered around his warm, comfortable tent. She spat at him to stop once and glared at him when he told her to keep her "filthy savage mouth shut". He had looked so unnerved by her unwavering stare that her stuttered and all but ran off. The other men laughed at the little bastard's fear and let her on her way without hindrance.
Then there was Petra, an older woman with deep lines around her mouth and eyes, and gray hair held back with a cap had her help cook meals at night. She loved to talk, and her favourite topic was about her eldest son who fought for Robb Stark in this very army. She was so proud of him, always smiling as she peeled and cut and cooked, never complaining.
It was strange. She didn't know when she'd started noticing traits of these people, and she didn't know when she started liking some of them, but it was too late; it was already done. She liked knowing that old Phyllip had a soft spot; she liked knowing that the wheat and straw boy was afraid of her; she liked hearing the love and pride in Petra's voice when she talked about her son. They almost reminded her of her village-kin back in Hoff. Almost.
It was windy that day, three weeks after she fell from her horse, chilling her skin and blowing her hair into the air. The sun hid behind the grey clouds, but the mud beneath her feet seemed to never cool or freeze, but always be squishy and messy. Adriena wore her long green dress; her thick belt that she wore when she hunted was fastened around her hips and was empty of any knives with only a lone rag remained tucked in it. Under her dress she wore cotton trousers and a shirt, keeping the cold away, and over her shoulders was a shawl to keep her exposed neck and chest warm. Her hair was loose from her braid, and simply hung around her face, tumbling down her back and over her breasts.
The basket of apples in her arms was heavy, but she didn't mind, because her attentions were not fixed on the growing stiffness in her fingers, but on the sky.
Govad, the Sky Father, had sent them wind today, and chose to make the fallen coloured leaves dance in the sky, without smoke or screams disturbing their dance. Watching the dried leaves swirl in the air high above them, and the hunter birds gliding in the wind too far to see, Adriena felt oddly calm and...hopeful. There was still life outside of this pit. The sun still rose and fell in the sky each day; the wind still blew and the birds still flew. The world went on even though this war seemed to be everywhere.
She spotted the cart that would transport her and the supplies to the other end of the camp, out the corner of her eye and walked over to it, her eyes still set to the sky, deep in thought. The horse tittered quietly, but remained still.
Adriena lifted the basket, half full with the sweet red fruit, into the back of the cart, pulling her eyes from the pale sky and down to the cart bed. It was nearly filled with various supplies, wooden boxes consisting of medical instruments and potions for the healers, bundles of hay and larger baskets filled with vegetables, fish from the river and wood for the numerous fires that burned day and night around the camp. She would have to sort this mess out, so she could sit in the back while the driver rolled them towards the other end of camp.
"You're looking at a cloudy sky. One is tempted to ask what is so fascinating." A voice suddenly spoke from behind her. Looking back, she blanched a sudden jolt of surprise replaced by a blend of confusion and slight... interest, for want of a better word. King Robb stood behind her, a small grin playing on his face. He was out of his armour, dressed in a brown leather doublet, a fine fur collar cloak whipping in the wind behind him, looking handsome as ever.
She bit her lip, feeling a little foolish for being caught, and immediately scolded herself. Why was she feeling so shy? She quickly thought of answers or rude remarks, but suddenly her mouth moved and words spilled out.
"And one may learn the answer if one asks." She replied turning away to the back of the cart. Inwardly she cringed. Why had she said that?! He'd probably find her musings stupid and common.
Robb Stark only smiled, stepping closer until she was close enough to smell him. He smelled nice, like leather and sweat and spices. She flushed, realizing she was smelling him. "What is so interesting about the sky today, my lady?" he asked.
No matter how many times he says it, I am no lady, she thought. "I...I was thinking...the sky looks much the same as back at home." She finished lamely.
"The sky looks the same everywhere, I think." He replied, his gentle gaze never faltering. When their hate and cold distain had morphed into something civil and even pleasant, Adriena knew not. She did not know what on earth to make of it; was his kindness a trick or a folly? Did he want something of her? Or was he simply being kind because he wanted to? It would be easy to dismiss this man's pleasantness, but his smile was so genuine, his eyes giving away no hint of a lie or mockery.
So with guarded caution, she said, "I wouldn't know. This is the farthest I've ever been from home." She looked away, running her fingers over the smooth red skins of the apples in the basket. Currently, her arm remained propped up on the lip of the basket as she spoke with Robb Stark and awaited the cart driver.
"Me as well." He said. Adriena looked up, surprised. She hadn't thought about his traveling past; she hadn't thought of his past at all. She just assumed that he'd been sort of a nomad, always traveling, seeing great things and wondrous beauties she could only dream of. But he was far from home, just like her. Did he feel as though he had been plucked from his life like she did?
"Where is your home?" she couldn't help but ask.
"Winterfell." She looked a bit lost and he remembered she lived in the forests for probably her whole life. "It's far away in the North. Just south of the Wall."
"So the Wall does exist?" She asked eagerly, her eyes wide with her new discovery. Robb raised a brow.
"Yes. Why did you think it didn't'?"
She smiled, half ruefully, half amused. "We live all the way down here, in the south. Barely any of my village kin ever left the forest, and those who did rarely ever come back. So after a while, the Wall became something out of a children's story. We'd always thought that when Aegon the Demon Rider landed in Westeros, he and his sister-wives melted it. " Robb was impressed. She knew her histories well.
Suddenly, she felt eyes on her. Looking away and over her left shoulder, she immediately locked eyes with her brother, who was currently pulling a grey speckled horse away by the reigns. His face was hard, his eyes questioning and angry. Her brother had changed in the time they'd been Robb Stark's captives. Her brother's beard was longer now, as was his dark blonde hair. The evergreen eyes that matched hers were now lined with worry, and dirt coated his skin and clothes constantly. And he was distant too, speaking to her with guarded reluctance. He never seemed to relax, and always seemed to be angry or annoyed. She wished she could pray to Natalya for his peace, but with the woods and nature so far away, it wouldn't be right. It'd be blasphemy; you don't pray to the goddess of all life and nature, in an unnatural place.
Robb followed her gaze, and when Vyncent noticed that he'd caught the object of his hate's attention as well, he turned away and continued his task, the desire to swing his fist at something strong in his gut.
"You're brother's temper is something to behold." Robb murmured, still watching Vyncent's retreating form, wondering is the man would be a true problem. Adriena turned back to watch the king's profile a moment, being slightly annoyed by his words.
"My brother isn't always so coarse." Robb turned back to her. As she spoke, Adriena looked down into the apple basket at her side, a smile growing across her pretty face as she recalled the memory. "When we were little, our father had us pick apples in the orchards for the Fall Harvest Feast." She gently ran her fingers over a round, red treat, lost in a memory. "We'd make games of it to make the work easier: who got more wormy apples, which one of us could climb higher, who could fill their basket before our nanny could come yell at us for being lazy."
She licked her lips. She looked very pretty to Robb then, not guarded and stiff, but free and glowing. "Once when I was seven, I think, I fell and tore open my knee, sending apples scattered everywhere. I was crying so hard, the way only a child would, and he," she paused. How could she phrase it so she didn't embarrass Vyncent? "He did everything to quieten me, but nothing worked. Finally, he just put his hand on my shoulder, and said everything would be alright." Her smile as warm as she recalled those events. Her brother had looked so scared, yet so honest when he told her softly it would be alright, taking care of her the way a brother should. Her smile faded as she remembered where she was and who she was talking to. "So you see, Your Grace, my brother is not so cold." She said quietly, looking at him.
Robb was amazed once more. This woman...this odd, odd woman...gods help him he wanted to know her, know why she hid herself the way she did though when she let her guard down and let herself shine through she seemed so damned beautiful. "Yes it would seem there is more there than what you can see." He said, his blue eyes solely set on her face.
Adriena flushed, biting her bottom lip as she stared back, looking for any hint of falseness. She found none. She felt pinned by his gaze, unable to look away, to speak or think properly. She could only look into his eyes, and wonder what had altered, what had happened to change their minds about the other so drastically.
Suddenly, the horse jumped at the return of its master, and broke the disturbing spell. Adriena wanted to run away, away from this feeling and away from the man who'd caused it, but she couldn't. Her feet her locked to the ground.
But Robb did it for her. "Good day, my lady." He said, nodding to her before turning his heel and walking away. The crowds parted for him, and with a sigh, she reminded herself he was a king.
Whoo! Queue "I Am Hers and She is Mine" by Ramin Djawadi
Holy balls. I'm so so so sorry for everyone I left hanging D':
Please, let me know if this chapter was too much, too little, too soon, or what-have-you.
To everyone who reviewed, favorited, alerted, and simply gave the time of day, I thank you :)