Apologies for the terribly long wait aren't useful to you. Just know life has been hard on me lately.
Hope you enjoy this.
Chapter 50 : Winter Princess
A small girl. Fragile, yet surprisingly resilient. Robb couldn't take his eyes off the little babe latched to Dany's breast, wrapped in grey furs, looking as pale as her mother. Her head was almost free of hair, and he wondered if maybe she would look like Iagan and that was why she looked bald.
Grey Wind was resting at the side of the bed, keeping a watchful eye on the little princess that had been born – the one he brought back to life, like Dany told him.
"You'll hold her," Dany whispered as their daughter was finally satiated and soon dove into peaceful slumber. "I do believe she'll be your favorite."
"I love all my children the same," Robb replied with slight surprise. "Blood of my blood, and birthed by the woman I love."
Dany smiled, but her face and body looked tired after such a long night. It had been difficult for her, and the stress of almost losing a child brought back bad memories she was glad not to relive. She cried, and Robb held her as she hugged the babe to her chest, keeping her safe and warm in her arms.
"I know, but she'll be your favorite because she'll be more like you." Her words were so certain, as if she knew the future, as if she could read in his mind all the plans he had for his daughter, all the things he'd teach her and the games they would play. He knew that it wasn't just about her being more like him, but he felt she needed him to protect her more than Iagan did. It was not because she was a girl. Rhyane looked like a wild child, much like Arya was and that scared him. Perhaps that same quality would lead her to danger.
Dany soon placed the newborn in his arms. She was soft and warm. So small in his hands, but a princess who looked at him barely opening her eyes. Grey like the ones he used to look at when he was a boy. Her eyes were like his father's.
Robb took his daughter and placed her on his chest.
Rhyane was worth war and more. She was one of the best reasons he had to sacrifice his wish to stay in the North and live a life away from all the troubles that came with being a king. His family deserved the effort.
"I dreamt of her," Robb muttered as he carefully dragged the back of his finger against the plump cheek of his sleeping daughter. "But dreams could never be as good as to have her in my arms safe."
Dany leaned against his side, content and relaxed. Life seemed too good for them now – too much for a couple of kids who had grown during war, who had gotten married without knowing one another and had turned into adults to bring children into the world while fighting for their families, birth right and freedom.
"I never thought I'd be given the chance again to have a child. I'm only grateful," Dany whispered before looking at him with soft eyes, too emotional for the woman who had ridden dragons and killed a powerful witch. But Robb knew the strength mothers had, and the power they possessed to protect their children.
"You know there's many people who want to meet this beautiful babe, including a tiny boy who I'm sure will love her and protect her as much as we will."
Daenerys smiled at him. "Bring Iagan and let him meet his sister. Then you can take her and boast about our daughter."
"The most beautiful in the Seven Kingdoms and beyond the Narrow Sea," Sansa said as she carefully cradled the baby in her arms. "She'll be a lady."
"A warrior princess!" Arya interrupted. "She has it in her blood. And if you deny it, then you'll suffer as much as you suffer watching me grow. Mother can join you, as well. Dany and I will teach her to use a sword and fight."
Robb smiled at his youngest sister. Arya was right, which had been his concern for a while now. He didn't care for having a proper lady as a daughter, and he would much rather share time with Rhyane playing and teaching her how to ride.
"Father would be captivated by her," Sansa said softly, looking forlornly at the girl in her arms.
Arya said nothing at this, and only nodded. Her short hair was already getting longer, but not enough so she could braid it. She looked older, and Robb knew all of them were far from those children who once had lived happily in Winterfell with parents who loved them more than anything else.
His sisters laughed when Iagan tried to touch Rhyane's little hands and the little girl decided to take his thumb and suck on it. Robb had to joined them even as Iagan looked at him with wide eyes, not knowing exactly what was happening.
This scene wasn't one Robb had imagined even during his best days on the battlefield, and somehow he knew his father had been the one leading him here. Eddard Stark might have not known it, but he had saved them in a way. His honor might have led him to his death, but his sacrifice had been exchanged for his family's future.
"A raven has arrived," Theon announced as he entered the room, one corner of his mouth tilting up at the sight of the newest addition to the family. He felt like a true uncle to Robb's children, and Robb couldn't help but to think about Jon – he would be a perfect uncle, just like he had been a brother. "Your mother has announced a visit. She wants to meet the child."
"You spoil me," Dany said smiling and breathing in deeply as she bounced Rhyane. The chambers were full of blue winter roses, the smell invading the room. Robb had also order the exotic fruits and dishes from Essos Daenerys loved the most. If he had not been able to stay the first time, he now was able to enjoy watching his daughter grow and care for his family. "Wolf?"
He looked at her and she smiled brightly.
Every order or plea that came out of her mouth became his wish.
He approached her and pressed his lips to hers, pushing her platinum hair back with one hand. "How many children would you give me? How many precious beings for me to marvel on?" Robb whispered against her lips. Dany grinned. "If you ask me, I want as many as you are willing to give me. I'll love them all."
"I know." Her eyes filled with tears even as she smiled. "But I know we'll only have one more." She closed her eyes and ducked her head. "Almost losing Rhyane was a sign. Her birth was more difficult than the first, and I feel the next one will be even harder on me. I cannot lose another child, Robb. Forgive me, but only one more child. A dragon for each."
Robb's lips pressed against Dany's temple before he turned his gaze to stare at Rhyane. He hated to think about almost losing her. The thought of not having his wife and daughter was probably the worst outcome Robb could think about. To top that, his worries about his duties as a king were consuming him.
"Speak, Wolf," Dany told him as she sat at the edge of the bed, pushing the sleeve of her dress down and off her shoulder. There was no shame in neither of them when she uncovered her breast to feed their child.
Robb marveled in how powerful Daenerys looked. The bond between mother and child was so strong, because they were capable of providing everything they could need. He glanced at her with a smile playing on his lips.
"Do you wish me to disturb your peace with our kingdom's troubles?"
"I've done it before. Be sure I can raise our children, prepare for war and organize the Red Keep without help." She looked at him for a second before she was once again attentive of Rhyane. "But I appreciate your concern.
"Advice for me?"
"Don't let Roose Bolton take your decisions." Daenerys handed the babe to him, as she fixed her clothes. "I know you enjoy spending time with us, with your sisters and avoiding your duties, but keep in mind how sadistic that man is. Keep him on a short leash."
Robb felt his face burn with shame. He disliked even more that she was right. He had been avoiding his duties under the pretense of his newborn daughter and the visit of his family – had he been any other king, it would've probably gone unnoticed. But he was not any other king, he was the first northman to sit on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. He had to show them how things would be done under his command.
"Don't scold me in front of others."
"I'm not." Daenerys stood straight, lacing her fingers together while Rhyane burrowed into him and his furs. "I'm merely advising you."
"Ask me that before when there are other people around us."
"Are you ordering me to ask for permission before speaking?" Her tone was angry, and her posture only served to confirm that. Robb knew she would be upset about it, but he couldn't show any weakness and his biggest weakness was her.
"Do you want me to beg you?" He snarled. He could taste the bitterness in his own words and regretted it immediately. Why was he doing this? He couldn't find reasons why other than the tedium of the audiences, and the feeling of being a prisoner in his own castle. Perhaps he had been traveling for too long. He was finding it hard to bear the routine of his duties.
She grabbed his face in one hand and Robb felt her nails digging into his skin. "You behave like an undisciplined wolf," Dany spat with venom of her own. But soon they both were startled when Rhyane began crying loudly. She had been quiet for so long that her wailing was surprising. "Give her to me."
Robb tried, but Rhyane's tiny fist were tangled in his clothes. As soon as Daenerys stepped back, Rhyane's crying became a whimper and soon she stopped.
"She's yours," Dany whispered.
"She's ours," Robb replied, ducking his head to press a tender kiss to Rhyane's forehead. "Don't mistake her pain for us as a hatred towards you." He approached Dany and gave her the babe. "She feels your love. As I do." Rhyane curled against her chest peacefully. "But don't treat me like your servant. Don't speak to me as if I were a child. And don't forget I am the man willing to give his life for you. Willing to give everything!"
He was almost out of the room when Daenerys spoke again. "Love is a treacherous feeling. Didn't you believe me when I swore my loyalty to you?"
Robb wished he could reply to her. There weren't enough words in him to express the disappointment he felt in himself. He felt he could never be the king she expected him to be. The ideas and hopes he had might have been too much for him. And he doubted his temper would do him any good when dealing with politics.
He was condemned to play the part, and let her rule in his place. And he'd do it gladly if only Dany would let him live the rest of his life as the northman he was.
"A tournament?" Dany cried scandalized. "Are you mad?"
The men in the room didn't dare to look at her. Only Robb was bold enough to challenge her. Maybe even stupid, how had he come up with this idea? He was supposed to be the sensible one.
"It's a great opportunity for us to give the people a show, to celebrate the birth of our child and to let the lords fight against each other as they wish." He sighed dejectedly. It was an opportunity for the men to clear the tension growing between them, and to finally end the conflicts carried from before war. Lands, arranged marriages, power. Every single thing seemed to be a problem now. "But it won't be anything sumptuous, if that worries you."
She just looked at him, and Robb felt a pang of guilty when he realized she was looking at him as if he were a stranger and not the man she loved and knew. Regretfully, he felt a stranger himself.
"And I'll fight." He saw when she finally understood the real reasons of this uncharacteristic decision. He needed the fight, the blood, and the excitement. A part of him would always be lost in war, and to keep the rest of him alive, Robb needed to feed it from time to time. He was hungry for the battlefield. For blood. He had become a conqueror and soldier, even if he hadn't been before. He wasn't made to feed the egos of lords or to be diplomatic – he was meant to wield a sword.
"Of course," Dany responded, suddenly resigned with his decision. "We'll prove our enemies that even if we suffered in battle, we are still the strongest. We are the rightful rulers of Westeros."
Her skirt danced around her as she took a sharp turn to leave the room. When she was no longer there, the lords started a chatter about trifles related to the tournament, but Robb wasn't listening.
One of his new fears was to become like Robert Baratheon. The once brave and strong man his father had spoken about, and how he had become the drunk fat man who had cheated on his wife and lived on the memories of old battles. He didn't want to turn into that, but life as king proved to lack the excitement it promised. It was all about keeping people happy – everyone but himself.
Iagan sat next to him with a stillness not proper for a child. His bright blue eyes studying the room and the men, before they fell upon Robb. A small smile blossomed on the boy's lips. His unruly platinum hair made him look wild, but his manners spoke otherwise.
"Papa," Iagan said. "You'll defeat the other king."
Robb's own smile faltered.
His son sounded so sure of his words, and yet Robb could not think of a man he had not yet fought in the battlefield. They were supposed to be dead, weren't they?