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The Long Night

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“Morning, where’s father?  FUCK!  It’s 10:30?  I mean...sorry, I...I know I set my alarm.  I really did!  Why didn’t you wake me when you heard it going off?  Did you at least call the school and tell them that I was feeling sick,” asked Arya, biting her lip.  Father said that if I overslept again, I’d have to walk to school.  They’re not really going to make me walk all the way there, are they?  It’s on the other side of town.  I bet they drove Sansa to school whenever she slept through her alarm.

“Arya, I shut off your alarm.  Don’t worry about oversleeping; I already called Highgarden Academy and told them you were ill.  You don’t have to go today,”  Is this a dream?  Why is mother being so nice to me?  What’s going on?  “Sansa said she’d watch Rickon for the morning and your uncle Edmure was happy to drive Robin to school once I explained the situation to him.  Since Joffrey stayed over last night, he even agreed to drop off Bran on his way home.  I don’t like that boy any more than you do, but you really should thank him for that the next time he comes over.  He said that he knew how hard this day was going to be for you and wanted to do whatever he could to make your life easier.  Mayhaps he’s like this more often than we notice and that’s what your sister sees in him,” Catelyn replied sadly.  If you only knew what half of what he did while you and father were on vacation in Braavos...  Sansa made Bran and I swear not to tell anyone, but we both saw the whole thing.  It was bad enough that Joffrey was snorting cocaine off the kitchen table two hours after Sansa told him he could come over, but then he beat her when she tried to make him stop.  At least Rickon was asleep; if he’d seen Joffrey sucker-punch Sansa, he’d have attacked the bastard.  Who knows what that stupid cokehead would’ve done to him if that had happened, Arya thought to herself, glancing nervously at the set of kitchen knives on the counter. 

His stupid grandfather would’ve gotten him out of it, most like.  Everyone knows that Mr. Lannister owns half of the police in Winter Falls.  That stupid capitalist pig doesn’t own Jon though and he never will either!  Everyone always acts like Joffrey is some sort of golden boy who can do no wrong because Tywin fucking Lannister is his grandfather.  Sansa pretends he loves her because she wants to be a stupid Lannister and have everyone treat her like a stupid queen.  Wasn’t it enough that everyone always liked her best at school?  Father looks the other way because Tywin heard him arguing with mother about Jon. 

Mother pretends Joffrey isn’t just some stupid, drug dealing creep who beats her daughter whenever he drinks too much because she wants her favorite daughter to grow up to be a proper little Lady.  Apparently being Tywin Lannister’s granddaughter-in-law is a golden ticket into polite society or whatever it is that the two of them are always going on about.  Maybe mother really doesn’t know what Joffrey’s done and just puts up with him because she thinks that he makes Sansa happy even if he is a prick...maybe.  No, that’s stupid!  How could she not know what a monster he is?  I wish Jon were still here; he’d know what to do. 

Bran’s too scared of Joffrey to say or do anything, Rickon’s too young, and Robb’s useless just like always.  No, he isn’t completely useless...not really.  At least he tried to tell Sansa that her stupid golden lion was fucking her best friend.  Of course, Sansa didn’t believe him; she’d never hear a bad word about Jeyne Poole.  Simply thinking about Jeyne filled Arya with a murderous rage.  I hate her!  I hate her!  I hate her!  If it weren’t for that...that...stupidhead, no one would’ve ever called me “Arya Horseface.”  Someone else would’ve probably thought of “Lumpyhead” though, Arya realized, frowning. 

At least Joffrey’s afraid of cousin Robin.  No, he’s not afraid of him, he just...gets creeped out by the way Robin talks sometimes is all.  Robin’s not so bad...not really.  Sansa shouldn’t make fun of him; he means well...usually.  And we had to adopt the poor kid besides.  The state wasn’t going to let him just stay with Uncle Petyr.  Not after Aunt Lysa got sent to the looney bin for putting rat poison in his milk because she liked the attention.  And he was a child from Aunt Lysa’s first marriage besides.  I can’t believe they let that psycho out last year; Uncle Petyr must have bribed someone to give her a clean bill of health.  I don’t care if Lysa is my stupid Aunt, she better stay away from Robin!  He’s part of our pack now, even if mother only wanted to adopt him in order to get back at father for making her tell everyone that Jon was her son. 

Of course Robin’s a little fucked up; who wouldn’t be after something like that?  And if Sansa was nice to him then maybe...just maybe Robin wouldn’t follow me around ALL the time, Arya fumed.  No, I have to be patient and understanding; I must needs be a good older sister to him, even if he can be really annoying.  Robin doesn’t have any other friends and I know what that’s like.     


“Give me a break,” replied Arya rolling her eyes.  “You know how much Joffrey hates me.  He probably got drunk and threw up in my closet again or deleted another paper from my stupid computer.  Seven Hells!  I think I left it online last night.  If he used my account to make some sort of racist tweet, I’ll –” 

“You’ve harassed him too, young lady.” 

“MOTHER, I told you not to call me that.  I’m not a stupid Lady!”

“Mayhaps not, but you were the one who cut the tires on Joffrey’s car.” Fuck me!

“You...you knew that was me?”  I would’ve cut his stupid breaks instead if Bran hadn’t caught me.  Don’t you hear that snorting sound the stupid junkie is always making?  Joffrey is going to really hurt Sansa someday!  Why does no one else care?  I hate that bastard!  Him and his stupid family.  He’ll never be part of our pack...not really.

“I do now.” 

“Hey, that’s not fair!  You tricked me!” 

“I didn’t tell anyone, just...don’t do it again.  In truth, he deserved it for leaving the bathroom that night and throwing up all over your clothes.”  I’m definitely dreaming.  Mother would never be this nice to me, especially not when she seems so sad.  She’d treat Sansa like this even if she’d just flunked out of Citadel State, but not me.  Father and her never loved me as much as Sansa or even any of my brothers...not really. 
It can’t be that something happened to Jon; she’d be happy about that.

“Mother, you look like you’re trying not to cry.  Why did Joffrey and Uncle Edmure need to drop Bran and Robin off at school?  Father normally does that on his way to work.  What’s going on?”  Summer wandered over to the kitchen table and sat down right next to Arya’s chair, plainly hoping that she would give him a piece of breakfast bacon.

“Wait...where’s Nymeria?”  Arya had always loved her dog more than any of her siblings loved theirs.  In truth, Nymeria oft felt more like a daughter of sorts than a pet.  No one else ever liked me better than Sansa...except Jon, but he moved out years ago and never visits us besides.  Robin doesn’t count...not really.  Nymeria can’t be sick; she’s only six years old.  She wouldn’t run away like Ghost did either.  Lady got killed by coyotes when she was still a puppy and Jaime Lannister hit Shaggydog with his car, but Nymeria and Summer usually stayed indoors.  And she was on my bed when I went to sleep last night besides. 

“Your father found Nymeria lying in the hall by Bran’s room earlier this morning.  She was convulsing and foaming at the mouth.  Your father drove her to the vet and –” 


“NO!  She can’t...is she still alive?  Why didn’t you wake me?  Why didn’t...why...I...I should be there...I should be with her,” Arya sobbed.  
“Wait...we...we don’t even...don’t even have a...a...vet in Winter Falls.  YOU DIDN’T –”  They wouldn’t just kill her...would they?  I didn’t even get to say goodbye.    

“Of course not.  Do you truly believe that your father and I would kill Nymeria?  Seven Hells, Arya, some old man opened a veterinary clinic last week.  His name was Dr. Ryburne...Dr. Qyburn...something like that.” 

“I want to go there now!  Please, I have to...I –”

“Arya, I’m sure Nymeria will be fine.  Mayhaps it’s best that we –” 

“Please, if...if anything happens to her and I’m not –” 

“Fine,” sighed Catelyn, plainly dreading the trip more and more with each passing second.  “But I want you to listen to me very carefully, Arya.  No matter what happens, no matter what you hear or see, you must promise me that you won’t cry like this once we get there. 
I won’t have you making a scene at the vet’s office.”

“I won’t cry when we get there, not even once!  I swear on my life!  Can we go now!  Please, mother, Nymeria needs me!  She must be so scared and...and –” 

“We...we can go as soon as you get dressed,” replied Catelyn, sounding as though her worst nightmare were unfolding right before her very eyes. 
She rubbed her forehead and forced herself to set aside the anticipatory anxiety as her youngest daughter raced up the stairs. 

As usual, Arya didn’t put on any makeup; she didn’t even bother combing her hair since there plainly wasn’t any time to waste on such things.  She simply threw on her combat boots, two mismatched socks that were lying on the floor, a pair of gym shorts, and a Sanders ’16 t-shirt, and began one of the longest car rides of her life.  Nymeria must be really sick, Arya realized, biting her lip.  Else mother never would’ve let me dress this way in December.

... 

It was only a five minute drive to the vet’s office, but by the time they arrived, Arya’s eyes were so pink and swollen that she looked as though she’d been crying for hours.  She wiped away her tears with her left sleeve, blew her nose, and opened the car door. 

Arya glanced inside her father’s car in the parking lot and had to bite her lip to keep herself from screaming.  There’s so much blood, it...it’s everywhere.  The back seat of her father’s Buick looked as though it had been painted a strange reddish-brown color.  It’s okay, Nymeria, I...I’ll be there soon.  I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there when father brought you to the vet; I should’ve noticed when you got out of my bed.  I would’ve come with you if mother or father had woken me up.  I really would!  Please don’t hate me! 

It was even worse once they entered the small brick building.  There was no one else there except for father and some old man in a white lab-coat.  That must be the veterinarian, only...why does he have blood stains all over his clothes? “Is Nymeria okay?  What’s wrong with her?  Can I see her?  Where is she,” shouted Arya.  Her father turned and looked as though he were about to have a stroke.

“Damn it, Cat, I told you not to bring her until I called,” barked Ned.  “Do you have any idea of much harder this is going to be for her now?  Seven Hells!  Why is our daughter wearing shorts and a t-shirt?  It’s snowing outside for fuck’s sake.” 

“I’m not cold!  Where’s Nymeria?  She’s still alive, isn’t she?”

“Eddard Stark, don’t you dare swear at me!  If you’d seen how devastated your daughter was when I told her, you’d understand why –” 

“You told...what were you thinking?  Cat, we went over this; you weren’t supposed to tell her that it was anything more than a routine check-up until we knew whether or not the bloody dog could be saved.” 

“How stupid do you think our daughter is?  She knows there wasn’t a veterinarian in Winter Falls until last week. 
What would you have had me tell her when she asked if Nymeria had been killed while she was asleep?” 

“In truth, I almost wish I’d done that.  At least that way, this would be happening at home instead of in Dr. Qyburn’s waiting room.”  Ned glanced at his youngest daughter who was suddenly looking at him as though she didn’t even recognize him.  The girl’s sad, grey eyes were growing wider and wider like two rapidly inflating balloons.  “Oh fuck me!  Arya, I didn’t mean –”

“YOU WHAT?  I HATE...wait...what do you mean ‘whether or not she could be saved?’  Nymeria...is she...is she deh-dead?  But...no...she...sh-sh-she can’t die!  I never even got to say goodbye to her.  She...”  No!  No!  No!  No!  No!  No!  No!  No!  No!  No! 

True to her word, Arya did not cry the way she did at her parent’s house...this was far worse.  It became impossible to think, much less speak coherently as bitter tears poured down her cheeks and she grew so congested that she could only breath through one nostril.  In that moment, she was not Arya Stark, the sixteen year-old daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark; she was just a sad, frightened little girl who hated herself for failing to save her best friend. 

If it didn’t take long for coherent thoughts to start racing through Arya’s mind again, the same could not be said for rational ones.  Nymeria was my only...my only friend.  Mother made Jon swear never to come back and visit or even speak to any of her children ever again after he moved out.  Bran and Rick...Rickon probably wouldn’t be my...my friends if...if I wasn’t a Star...Stark.  Sansa was much...was...was much nicer when I got...got older, but she never says anything when Jeyne bullies me.  She’s probably...probably just pretend...pretending to like me better now because...because she’s stuck with me.  Even Robin probably doesn’t want to be my friend...not really.  He probably just follows me around because no one else is nice to him.  Even Uncle...Uncle Petyr calls him a retard when he’s had...had too much...too much to drink.  Nymeria...were her...were her last thoughts wondering why I wasn’t there with her when she died?  It didn’t matter if any of this was true or not.  It didn’t even matter that Nymeria – being a Siberian Husky – was plainly incapable of such thoughts.  All that mattered was that Arya had no one except Nymeria who was truly her own and that she was sound asleep when her best friend needed her most.  It was as though someone had cut her heart out and buried it six feet underground.

“Look what you did now, Cat!” 

“What I did?  Don’t you dare blame me for this; you’re the one who insisted that we let the poor girl sleep through that mess.” 

“WHAT ABOUT NYMERIA,” shouted Arya.  I’m here for Nymeria; stop making this about you!  Who cares which of you screwed this up?  The two of you are worse than Robin and Rickon sometimes.

“And you would have had our daughter sitting in the backseat next to Nymeria while the god damned dog vomited blood all over the place?  Is that the way of it?”   

“Vomited...SHE WHAT?”    

“See?  That’s exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about!  How do you think she’s going to react when the vet tells her that we had to put the bloody dog down before the two of you even got here?”  Put her down...they...they didn’t!  They wouldn’t!  I...I never even got to say good...goodbye, I...I... 

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

“I can’t imagine why our children always came to me whenever they weren’t getting along with one of their classmates; you have such a way with words, Ned.  I’m certainly glad we didn’t say anything that would upset Arya.” 

“WILL THE TWO OF YOU JUST SHUT UP!” 

“I don’t ever want to hear you speak that way to your mother and I again, young lady!” 


“SEVEN HELLS!  For the last time, I am not a stupid Lady; stop calling me that!  Do either of you have any idea how embarrassing it is?” 

“One of these days, we’re going to have a serious talk about your language.” 

“Yes, father,” sniffled Arya, rolling her eyes. 


“Cat, mayhaps this could have been handled better and I’m sorry about –” 


“You should be after what you made me –”  Not this again...  I hate both of you so much right now!

“We’re not going to have another fight about Jon.  The last time we did that in public, Tywin Lannister heard everything and he’s been holding that over my head ever since.  Half the arguments we’ve ever had were really about that poor boy.  He didn’t ask to be –”

“Pardon me for interupting, Mr. Stark, but mayhaps you and your wife would like a moment alone.  Far be it from me to cut short such a fascinating look at the subconscious spousal resentments that have doubtless caused a lifetime of passive-aggressive behavior over the course your marriage, but I fear it might be best for all concerned if the two of you sorted this out privately.  There is no one in room 12A at the moment.  All of the rooms at my clinic are soundproofed...although I believe Lord Bolton was more concerned with the screams of children when he made that suggestion,” said the old man in a tone that made it plain that he was only phrasing it as a suggestion to be polite. 

“Of course, my...apologies, Doctor,” muttered Ned. 

“Mr. Qyburn will serve, I think.  I believe I already told you that I have no wish to be called ‘doctor,’ not while medical science limps about like a wounded animal begging to be put out of its misery.  I fear that if there is anyone among my colleagues who shares my curiosity, I have yet to meet him.” 

“Or her,” Arya grumbled, wiping her eyes with the last unused tissue left in the waiting room. 

“Yes, yes, of course; you are quite right.  There are plenty of female doctors these days and if just one of them is truly willing to do whatever she must to satisfy her curiosity, then she will be worth a thousand of the meek, timid souls hell bent on choking the life out of the medical profession.”  I knew there had to be female doctors somewhere!  Maybe they just all work in Braavos or Dorne...maybe.  Why would anyone want to work here if they could go somewhere else?

“Mr. Qyburn, if it isn’t too much trouble, would you mind telling our daughter the details; I fear my wife and I must needs take you up on that offer.”   

“Third door on your left, Mr. Stark.  You can’t miss it; it’s the only one in that hallway that isn’t locked.”  Mr. Qyburn may be a bit strange, but he’s not so bad...not really.  At least he’s not trying to make this all about him like mother and father did.  I’d rather hear about it from him than my parents if they’re going to keep acting like this.  Arya sat down on one of three large crates that were lying on the far right side of the room and shivered. There’s nothing to be afraid of...not really.  Mr. Qyburn is just some kindly old man is all.  Why is this stupid crate so cold?  She tried the other two crates, but they both felt the same as the first one.  What could possibly be in there?

“Did you hear him, Ned?  That man said we’re arguing like little children,” whispered Catelyn as she and her husband walked through the door separating the waiting room from the main hallway. 

“I’m sorry about earlier, Cat.  I’ve been dealing with that man, the damn dog, and when you showed up with Arya...it just caught me off guard.  That girl is going to be the death of me.”  You know we can still hear both of you, right?  Seven Hells! 
Can’t you at least wait until you’re in that stupid soundproofed room. When her parents had finally left the waiting room, Mr. Qyburn approached Arya with a speed that would be unusual in a man two decades younger. 

“You must be Arya.  Your father told me...well...he mentioned you once or twice.”    

“I’m sorry about mother and father; they really do love each other though.  They just...fight a lot is all.”  Mr. Qyburn gave an understanding nod and smiled sadly. 

“As you say.  Some couples are just like that, I suppose.  I fear it is always the children who suffer the most in such households.” 

“Nymeria...did she...she didn’t suffer, did she,” asked Arya, biting her lip nervously. 

“Suffer?  Oh yes, I fear she suffered a great deal.  That’s why your father told me to put the poor dog out of its misery.  In truth, I’ve never seen a creature in such pain during my regular office hours.  Lord Bolton on the other hand...” 

“Who?”  Even though she wanted to hear more about Nymeria, Arya found that she was simply too exhausted to hear another word about her friend without changing the subject for a few minutes. 
Fortunately, Mr. Qyburn didn’t seem to mind keeping her company while her parents argued. 

“Lord Bolton is an old and dear friend of mine.  He moved here shortly after I did.” 


“Why do you call him ‘Lord Bolton?’” 

“He comes from a very old and wealthy family.  Technically, he is a Lord and at his age, one oft develops a certain fondness for tradition.  We met a few years ago and since then, he’s provided me with the money to travel through the small towns of rural Westeros and set up animal shelters.  Whenever I’m in town, I also try to open a veterinary clinic since there seem to be so few of them in the area.  We don’t leave until there are enough dedicated employees to keep things up and running after we’re gone.  We’ve visited a few towns not too far from here: Dragonstone Heights, Twin Crossing Village, Skagos, and so on.” 

“I’ve never heard of Dragonstone Heights, but the other two are ghost towns. 
Everyone knows that; why would –” 

“As you say.  But I can assure you that there were once people living there; I’ve met some of them.  Of course, even if those towns are dead today, Lord Bolton still considers the money he spent during our time there to have been well spent.  Both he and his sons have a great fondness for pets and Lord Bolton is nothing if not sentimental.  An animal lover through and through,” said Mr. Qyburn with a gentle smile.

“Can I...I mean...would it be alright if I met Lord Bolton?  I want to be a veterinarian someday and I might be interested in volunteering here...if that’s allowed.  It’s a Friday, so there’s no school tomorrow and I –” 

“I’m sure Lord Bolton would be delighted to meet you and any friends of yours who might wish to come along.  He loves children.”  This time the old man’s smile – though still gentle – had a strange, mischievous quality to it. 
For a moment, he looked like a man who had just told a friend some sort of secret inside joke. 

“I’m not a child.” 

“My apologies, when you get to be as old as I am, I fear that everyone seems like a child.” 

“I know my cousin Robin will want to and I’ll try to get my younger brothers to come along too.” 

“That would be wonderful; I’m sure Lord Bolton will be able to find plenty for you and your friends.  The more the merrier, I always say.  I fear that he is often out of town during the day and he’s always kept odd hours besides; we all have our eccentricities.  The earliest he could drop by would be 6:00 PM, I think.” 

“That seems pretty late.  Does anyone even come here at that time of night?” 

“You’d be surprised at how many stray animals are running around.  Some shelters simply euthanize them on the spot, but we treat any of their medical conditions at a discounted rate and work to find good homes for them. 
In truth, this place is far busier at night.” 

“And Mr. Bolt...I mean...Lord Bolton, he doesn’t care that he’s losing money on places like this?” 

“Lord Bolton feels that since towns like yours have given him so much over the years, it’s only fair that he give something back to them.  He may be a wealthy man, but he lives a fairly simple life and has far fewer expenses than most.  And when you’re as rich as he is...well...no, I don’t think he cares too much about the money.  That’s never been what motivated him.”  That’s the difference between a good man and crooks like Tywin Lannister, Chief Slynt, and Uncle Petyr, Arya decided. 

“What about 6:30?” 


“Even better!” 

“Mr. Qyburn?” 

“Yes?” 


“How did Nymeria die?” 

“Arya, I’m sure Dr. Qyburn is very busy.  Why don’t we let him get back to work,” asked Catelyn, glancing at the exist as she re-entered the waiting room.  Her husband followed behind her wearily; his haggard face was the very picture of exhaustion. 

“That’s quite alright, Ms. Stark; we’re almost finished here.  I should mention that your daughter expressed an interest in volunteering here, but I wanted to make sure that is alright with –” 

“Fine...I mean, I’m sorry, doctor.  Of course, Ned and I don’t mind, we’ve just had a very tiring day and need to get home.” 

“I completely understand, Ms. Stark.  As for your question, Arya...well...I’m afraid you can’t give dogs chocolate.” 

“I didn’t!  That can’t be right...I mean...I never gave her chocolate, not even once.” 


“Arya, how many times have I told you not to give Nymeria human food,” groaned Catelyn, giving her daughter the sad look of disappointment that only a mother can give her children. 

“I really didn’t!  I swear!” 

“Well...someone certainly did; that dog plainly ingested a great deal of dark chocolate.  In truth, she had the worst case of theobromine poisoning that I’ve ever seen.” 

“Are you certain, doctor,” asked Catelyn.  Is she calling him that because she’s angry about what he said earlier? 

“I would prefer that you didn’t...never mind.  Yes, I’m quite certain, Ms. Stark.”  How?  We were always careful not to leave chocolate lying around.  Unless...mother said Joffrey was being nice this morning and...THAT BASTARD!  I’ll kill him...I’ll...I’ll...it had to have been him!  I knew he’d do something after Nymeria bit him last night, but I never thought... 

I can’t say anything to mother and father, they’ll never believe me.  I don’t care if Sansa loves that stupid junkie or not.  If she wants to let Joffrey beat her and is in denial about what he’s doing with Jeyne, that’s her problem; but he’s gone too far this time!  I’m not going to scream or cry or lose my temper.  I just need to wait patiently for him to come over to our house again.  He probably won’t for a few weeks, but that just means I’ll have more time to prepare.  I don’t care if Tywin Lannister is his stupid grandfather and I won’t let Bran stop me this time either.  I...I’ll put industrial-strength bleach in his cocaine or I’ll cut his breaks or...or I’ll...I’ll...  I’m going to kill that bastard!

Chapter Text

Please don’t be high!  Please don’t be high!  Please don’t be high, Bran though to himself frantically as Joffrey slammed the front door of his car shut and began driving in the left lane.  Joffrey spent way too much time inside.  I’m so dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  I always knew he’d get me killed someday.  Damn it!  I was only three years away from escaping this place forever.  At least there’s still hope for Arya.  No, Joffrey will probably survive the crash and once I’m dead, there will be no one left who can keep those two from killing each other.

“Joffrey, you’re driving in the left lane.”


“Stop t-tell...telling me what to *snort* what to do.  FUCK!  I am in the left *snort* lane.”  Bran opened his mouth to yell “so get in the right lane before you get us both killed, you idiot” only to close it again without making a sound.  I can’t talk to him like that...not even when he’s racing down the left lane of our subdivision.  He’s been driving this long without getting anyone killed, so we might live.  I can’t lose my temper with him, no matter what he does.  For all I know he keeps a gun in his car...  If he does, it’s only a matter of time before he accidentally shoots himself with it.  Wait a minute, did he just... 

“Joffrey, you almost hit that little girl.” 


“Who?  Shireen?  God damn it, I missed her, didn’t I?  Oh well...I’ll get her next time.  I always knew you were the *snort* smart one in your fam...family, Mandon.”  My name is Brandon.  B-R-A-N-D-O-N.  Brandon.  Joffrey wasn’t like this when he offered to drive me to school and it can’t be cocaine since hasn’t passed out.  What were you doing in there?  “While we’re on the *snort* subject, if you say one *snort* word about that to anyone, you’re gonna end up just like your *snort* sister’s bitch.”  That was you?  I thought Robyn might’ve gotten jealous of all the attention that Arya was always giving Nymeria.  At least then she’d stop making me pretend to like that little brat.  I really did try being nice to Robyn at first, but it just...doesn’t work.  For all that Bran loved his youngest sister – and he loved her far more than he loved anyone else in his family – he oft felt as though he were about to have a stroke whenever she started talking about how important it was not to exclude Robyn from whatever they were doing...no matter how weird or annoying he acted.  If Robyn wants to have friends, then maybe, he shouldn’t stand over their beds at 1:30 AM and tell them that he’s going play with them if they don’t stop ‘being bad.’  I had to use a chair to lock him out of my room after that night and I could still hear him trying to turn the door knob for a few more days until Arya finally made him stop.  Bran shuddered.  You know who else says “a boy’s best friend is his mother?”  The dude from Psycho, that’s who!  Even Arya admited that he creeps her out sometimes, so why is he the only person who never makes her lose her temper?  Is it because she feels sorry for him?  What Aunt Lysa did was terrible, but it’s not an excuse...  I don’t have time for this right now.

Arya’s probably figured out that it was Joffrey by now.  How am I supposed to convince her not to cut your breaks now, you stupid junkie?  If she does that, she’ll get caught.  She’s a 16 year-old girl, not a bloody ninja.  I should still be able to calm her down if I can get to her before she sees Joffrey again, Bran decided.  No matter how angry she gets, Arya’s still one of the only other people who hasn’t been changed by whatever’s wrong with Winter Falls.  She only tried to cut Joffrey’s breaks once and I’m sure she’d have felt awful about it if he actually died.  Even if the town has made her a little angrier and more aggressive than she was before we moved here, she’s still a good person who is smart enough to get the hell out of this place while she still can...and she’s the only other person I know who might actually be able to pull it off. 

That was the worst part about living in Winter Falls.  Several years ago, Bran had realized that there was something very wrong with the town he’d spent 15 miserable years trying to survive.  It had a way of changing people...bringing out the worst in them and then trapping them for the rest of their lives.  Being born in Winter Falls meant joining a collection of damned souls, each condemned to wander the earth aimlessly until they finally found freedom six feet underground.  Even the dead don’t leave Winter Falls, Bran realized as Joffrey raced past the town’s cemetery.

No one else has even noticed except Arya and Tommen.  Tommen is afraid to talk about it and Arya thinks this all started when Tywin Lannister got elected mayor, but that’s not it.  Things definitely got worse after that, but most of our family changed the day we moved into this stupid house.  Sansa got more selfish, mother was crueler to Jon, father drank more, Rickon had more temper-tantrums, Jon got even more depressed, and Robb started hitting on everything that moved.  Even Arya loses her temper more often than she used to when we lived at our old house.  Suddenly, Joffrey swerved to the right, narrowly avoiding a head on collision with a mini-van and Bran bit his lip to keep himself from screaming at the lunatic behind the wheel.


“Hey, I was *snort* talking to...to...to you, you little *snort* bitch,” growled Joffrey. 

“I won’t tell anyone that you tried to run over your nephew, sir,” Bran grumbled.  I won’t be able talk him out of killing Arya or beating Sansa unless he still thinks of me as a friend or pet or whatever.  Sansa may be willing to just let him beat her, but I’m not...even if she’s only nice to me when none of her friends are around.  She shouldn’t have laughed when Jeyne said that I was probably gay since I listen to classical music while writing papers.  Sansa told me how much she loved me, how horrible it made her feel, and even said she was really angry about it after Jeyne left...just like she does whenever Jeyne or Joffrey bullies Arya.  If she really means that, she should act like it in public.  The Lannisters and my family deserve each other.  No, that’s not entirely true.  Arya is a good person; I want to stay in touch with her after I graduate from college. 
But the rest of them... 

Father is the worst of the lot; he must be the only man who came back from Vietnam and decided he wanted his all of his sons to be soldiers.  He’s not the only man who came back with a bastard though, that’s for sure.  That stupid drunk has already convinced Rickon to enlist in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever we are when he turns 18 instead of going to college.  At least he doesn’t hit us when he drinks...usually.  There was that one time when I told him I wasn’t going to enlist no matter what he said and that I was going to be a writer instead.  It took Robb, Jon, Mother, Sansa, and Arya to pull him off me that night and I had to tell everyone at school that I broke my nose falling down the stairs.  I guess something good came out of it since he doesn’t really talk to me anymore.  Robb, Jon, Sansa, and Arya never looked at him the same way after that and mother told him that if he ever laid a hand on me again, she’d divorce him, Bran recalled with a smile as he tried to decide whether that was worth goading his father into hitting him a second time. He spends all of his time drinking and arguing with mother about Jon.  It’s always “Jon this” or “Jon that;” what about the rest of us? 

Mother loves all of us; I won’t disown her like father...not after she helped protect me from him that night, but I won’t go out of my way to call her either.  Whenever anything bad happens she’ll always comfort me until she sees father and then it’s all about Jon.  I swear she’s obsessed with him.  I don’t know why Arya looks up to that bastard so much; he practically stole our mother from us.  And mother made him swear never to speak to any of us ever again after he moved out besides.  Jon’s still better than Robb and Sansa, I suppose. 

Robb hasn’t even tried to talk to any of us after mother and father threw him out of the house for knocking up Jeyne Westerling.  Father and him would always bully me until that happened.  Once Robb was gone; Rickon was the golden boy and he’s become such a spoiled little brat.  Then again, he’s talking about how he’ll “protect” the rest of us if anyone ever breaks into the house.  I guess he could still turn out to be a decent kid like Arya and I did.  Knowing this town though... 

And Sansa...she doesn’t even love Joffrey; she’s endangering all our lives just so that she can be a fucking Lannister.  That’s the worst part, Bran decided as Joffrey swerved onto the sidewalk to avoid a car before returning to the left lane.  You want to get us killed, fine.  I give up.  I don’t even care anymore.

I can’t really blame Sansa for hating Robyn though.  It was pretty funny when she started yelling “run Forrest, run" at him. He isn’t even a real Stark; I don’t know how Arya stands him.

She probably just puts up with Robyn because he “accidentally” pushed Joffrey down the stairs for making her cry by nearly kicking Nymeria to death...something about wanting to “make the bad man fly,” whatever that means.  I guess it could’ve also been the time that Joffrey passed out on the floor after vomiting in Arya’s closet and Robyn shot him in the throat with Jon’s airsoft gun; he even bit the bastard when mother tried to make him apologize.  Arya was much more patient with Robyn after that and she even told Uncle Petyr to go fuck himself for calling his stepson a retard last Christmas. 

In truth, Bran oft felt a slight pang of jealousy whenever he thought about Robyn for too long and this time was no exception.  Before Robyn showed up it was like Arya and I were on a team all by ourselves against the rest of the family.  We just needed to keep looking out for each other until we got to college.  After that, we’d both be able to leave Winter Falls and do whatever we wanted without ever looking back.  Now she spends so much time keeping Robyn from trying to take food out of the garbage disposal or from using the blender without putting the lid on that I oft have no one to talk to except Tommen.  Tommen’s nice enough, but he’s like a real-life Butters.  His birthday is even on September 11th.

Even if Arya does think of Robyn as a little brother, she must get tired of that kid following her around all over the house.  He’s like her little pet psycho or something; it’s fucking weird.  It’s almost like he thinks she’s his mother or some...wait...oh my God.  Does he...does he really think because Arya was nice to him from the beginning that she’s his new...no, that can’t be it.  Aunt Lysa didn’t scramble his brain that badly when she poisoned him, Bran decided, desperately hoping it was true.  I swear, if...FUCK!

“JOFFREY THERE’S A TRUCK COMING!  GET OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!” 

“Good cat...catch,” muttered Joffrey as he swerved once again.  Okay, at least we’re finally in the right lane. 

“Umm...did you...I mean...you’re not high right now are you?” 

“What if I am?  You got a *snort* problem with that?” 

“No.  No problem at all, I was just –” 

“I was kidding, you *snort* idiot.  All I did this morning was drink the rest your dad’s whiskey before I *snort* left.  That was all that he *snort* had left in there.  Don’t worry though; I put the *snot* bottles on your *snort* mother’s night-stand.  The stupid...stupid *snort*  drunk will just...will...blame that dumb bitch.”  YOU WHAT?  Do you have any idea what you’ve done?  Mother doesn’t drink alcohol, you bloody...  Shit!  I need to get Rickon and Arya out of the house as school’s out.  Seven Hells!  Father picks me up on Fridays. 
“Hey, you’re not a *snort* narc are you?” 

“What’s a narc?” 

“You know, Flan, you’re *snort* alright.  How do you stand living with that *snort* cunt sister of yours.  The sister I’m not *snort* fucking, I mean.  You know, the *snort* uppity bitch with the *snort* dog.  Finally got rid of the damn thing last night.  I wish she was awake when it started *snort* dying.  Now I just have to get rid of her other dog; I still have to get that creepy little *snort* fuckhead for pushing me down...down...the *snort* stairs.  What was I *snort* say...saying?  Oh yeah, your sister...the ugly one, she’s *snort* such a cunt.  How do you *snort* stand it?” I should have let Arya cut the breaks to your car, you little monster.  He’s even worse when he is sober.  When he’s not drunk or high, he’s able to pass himself off as a normal, polite, respectable young man.  Sansa says its like having her very own “James Blonde,” Bran recalled, throwing up in his mouth.  He’s also more dangerous then because he can actually pull off some of the shit he tries to do.  He had to have been clean and sober when he poisoned Nymeria. 
I still don’t see how he could’ve possibly snuck into Arya’s room and gotten that dog out without waking her.

“How do you stand living with your mother,” grumbled Bran. 

“What did you just say,” asked Joffrey as he drove right through the Greyjoy family’s mailbox.  Wait...did I say that out-loud?

“Hahahahahahahahaha, you should have *snort* seen the...umm...the *snort*...uh...look at your stupid face!” 

“Joffrey, please watch the road.” 

“Oh yeah, right.  Anyway, my mother’s a real *snort* bitch too.  I thought about pushing her down the steps like she did with my *snort* father, but the fall might not kill her.  I’m *snort* 22 years old and the dumb brotherfucker is always *snort* telling me what to do.  It’s always 'Joffrey don’t *snort* pass out in your grandfather’s study' or 'Joffrey don’t skin your brother’s *snort* kitten again.'  I hate that...that...stupid...I hate her.”  Okay, we’re finally at my school, I’m almost...what are you doing?  No, you just passed it!  Is that a...please stop the car now.  Please, I don’t want to die!  Is he accelerating?  Fuck me!

“JOFFREY, THAT’S A POLICE CAR, NOT A PARKING SPACE!” 


*CRASH*

...

The good news was that the drunken bastard managed to narrowly miss the cop car and hit a tree instead.  The bad news was that the officers plainly had no intention of giving him a citation, much less taking his license or hauling him off to jail. 

“Mr. Baratheon, are you hurt?  No?  Good.  My partner, officer Moore, and I will drive you home,” said officer Trant, glancing at his police car. 
Officer Moore simply grunted and went back to sleep as though nothing had happened. 

“You...you will,” asked Joffrey, looking nearly as shocked as Bran felt. 

“Of course.  And you’ll tell your grandfather we helped you, won’t you?” 

“Umm...yeah, sure.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Baratheon.  Everyone here knows that you’re a good kid, so there’s no need to embarrass anyone over this.  We can just –” 

“I’M TRAPPED INSIDE THIS CAR, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE,” shouted Bran.  Only three more years.  Only three more years.  Only three more...stay calm.  Stay calm.  Stay calm  Stay calm.  Stay calm.  Smile and nod whenever the fat moron says anything.

“Uh, hey kid, what happened here,” asked officer Trant. 

“I don’t care; it was whatever you say happened. 
I just want to go to school.” 

“What do you think, Mr. Baratheon?  We can write the report so that you were the only one who survived the crash, if you want.”  WHAT? 

“Nah, he’s *snort* he’s cool, but if you see his bitch sister –”

“Which one?”  Seven Hells, at least wait until I’m not...no, it’s better this way.  Now I can warn her to keep an eye out for Sheriff Rosco.


“The younger one; she’s *snort* an ugly little brat who is always *snort* running her cunt mouth.  She probably *snort* combs her hair by sticking her *snort* head in a blen...buh...blender.  If you see her alone or with...with *snort* only her fuck...fucking *snort* dipshit cousin find an excuse to lock her *snort* up for the night.  Don’t do any...anything if *snort* she has anyone besides him with her.  If it makes the local news, I’ll mention you to *snort* to my...grand...grandfather by name.  Officer *snort* Grant, right?” 

“Officer Trant, Meryn Trant.  And don’t worry, Mr. Baratheon, I’ll write up the report to say you got struck by a hit-and-run driver.  Thorne may bitch about it, but if he ever gets too loud, the Cleganes will make sure he dies in a drug bust just like chief Mormont.” At least pretend not to be proud of the fact that everyone knows the previous police chief was shot by two other cops. 

“Hey, I’m gonna *snort* do you a solid, Sheldon.” 


“My name is Brandon.” 

“Right, so anyway, officer Trant.” 

“Yes, Mr. Baratheon?” 

“Call the school and *snort* tell them there was a *snort* police emergency and take him to the *snort* station.  He can be a...be a witness to a *snort* shooting or something.  See, this wasn’t so *snort* bad; you got out of school.”  I like school.  I’m safe from burnouts like you and my father there.  Sansa’s advice actually worked, so I have more friends now.  Your brother is the only real one though, Bran thought to himself sadly. 

“Thank you, Mr. Baratheon, sir.  Now instead of learning things in class and talking to my friends, I can spend the afternoon sitting around at a police station.  I’m really looking forward to walking all the way across town by myself and seeing father when he realizes that there is no whiskey in the house.”  Joffrey squinted as though he were trying to decide whether he was being thanked or insulted. 

“Umm...don’t *snort* mention it.  That’s how things work around here.  You do some...some *snort* something for me and I do something for *snort* you. 
Officer Trant, you mind driving Brandon home from the *snort* station.” 

“Of course not, Mr. Baratheon.” 

“See, problem *snort* solved.  Now stop complaining like a whiney little bitch before I *snort* have officer Trant put a *snort* bullet in your brain.  Jeyne was right, you probably are a *snort* faggot.” 

“I am not gay!  Please, I just want to go to school.”  Stay calm. 

“Too bad, kid.  School’s *snort* out, remember?”  This is what I get for reminding you to wear a seatbelt. 

“Look, Bran, it’s not that I *snort mind that you’re a *snort* faggot.  It’s your *snort* business and I’m not *snort* judging you.  I mean, I don’t *snort* swing that way, but if you like sucking –” 

“Shut up, you worthless, lying, piece of crap,” Bran growled. 

“What was that?” 

“Nothing.” 

“That’s what I *snort* thought.  But see, this is what I’m *snort* talking about, Stan.  I just...I feel like you’re keeping it all *snort* bottled up and it’s making you a real *snort* cunt.  Know what I mean?”  I hate my life.  “I asked you a *snort* question, faggot.” 

“No, I really don’t know what you mean.  If you’re not gonna let me go to school, at least let me out of this stupid car.  Please!” 

“In a *snort* minute.  The thing is that I *snort* I’m gonna be your *snort* brother-in-law soon and I really want us to be *snort* friends.  We need to have the kind...kind of *snort* relationship where you can *snort* be honest with me.  I mean where’s the *snort* trust, buddy?  I just *snort* want you to *snort* feel safe being talking to me about these *snort* sorts of things.  You know I’m *snort* always here for you if you *snort* want to talk about how much being a *snort* faggot sucks.  Well...maybe you don’t mind life sucking; I hear you people *snort* like sucking things.  It really doesn’t bother me at all that you’re a *snort* faggot, I just want you to admit it.  I’m really worried about you and *snort* I just think you’d feel so much *snort* better if you got this off your *snort* chest.  You look so *snort* angry right now and it’s breaking my *snort* fucking heart.  I know!  Officer Trant!” 

“Yes, Mr. Baratheon?” 

“Leave this faggot in the *snort* car until he admits his *snort* perversion.”  I am not gay, you jackass.  What the fuck is wrong with this asshole, Bran wondered as he tried to decide whether he was angrier at Joffrey or at Jeyne Poole for starting this rumor over a stupid Mozart CD.  In the end it didn’t matter; it was freezing and there was plainly only one way out of the car. 

“Fine. 
I’m a faggot, now let me out of this stupid car.” 

“Okay.  Great.  Now this time...this time say *snort* say that you like sucking dick.”  Bran glanced at officer Trant and saw that the man was literally looking the other way. 

“No!  I’m not going to say that.”    

“Hahahahahahahaha *snort* hahahahahahahaha.  I recorded that on my *snort* cell.  If you tell anyone about any of what happened today, it’ll be all over the *snort* internet.”  Do you realize how horrible any video of this is going to make you look?  I didn’t even say...why do I even bother?  Only three more years!  Arya will get away in two years, but I can survive for a year with no one sane except Tommen to talk to, most like.  My english teacher – Stannis Baratheon – isn’t so bad either.  His mythology class last year was interesting.  He actually teaches us things instead of just coming to class drunk and making dumb jokes like Joffrey’s uncle.  Tyrion Lannister has to be the worst history teacher ever.  Three more years and then I’ll finally be free! 

... 

“At least I’m still alive,” Bran grumbled.  It was 6:15 PM and officer Trant decided not to drop Bran off after all, but fortunately, his father’s car still wasn’t in the driveway. I’m just going to make sure I’m asleep before he gets home.  Seven Hells, he’s probably out at a bar.  When he gets home and sees that there’s no whiskey in his liquor cabinet...  He opened the front door and saw that Rickon, Arya, and Robyn were standing there, plainly about to leave.

“Where are you all going?” 

“We’re going to go volunteer at the veterinarian's office,” Arya replied.  “Well...I am.  Robyn just wants to play with the dogs and Rickon is trying to find a ‘new’ Shaggydog.  You wanna come with?” 

“Not Mother, said that I can play with the puppies.  She said I have her permission to play with Joffrey too, right Not Mother?  I can play with him whenever I want, can’t I?  I’m going to get him on the roof when he passes out and...and then...and then I’m going to make him fly.  He’ll fly really good this time, you’ll see!  I’ll make the bad man fly right this time Not Mother, I promise.  He won’t come back anymore,” declared Robyn with a wide smile.  Seven Hells, did he really just call her his ‘Not Mother?’  Wait a minute, does he mean that he’s going to murder Joffrey by pushing him off the roof?  Arya told him he could do that?  

“Yes, you can do whatever you want to that stupid junkie as long as no one knows it was you.  Now...umm...Robyn, what did I tell you at dinner about calling me ‘Not Mother,’” Arya asked, shaking her head and sighing loudly. 


“Oh wait...I know...umm...wait...you said...uh...give me a hint.” 

“She said not to call her your ‘Not Mother,’ you weirdo,” snapped Rickon. 

“Hey, no fair!  Rickon cheated!  It wasn’t his turn to guess; he was being bad.” 


“No, he wasn’t,” replied Arya, grinding her teeth in frustration. 


“Rickon’s not bad?  He’s good?  Are you sure?” 

“Yes, Robyn, I’m very sure.”  Rickon stuck his tongue out at his cousin, but Robyn ignored him.  “Rickon’s right; I am not your mother.  You can’t keep following me around like all the time.” 

“I know you’re not my mother.  Mother is the bad woman you said was poisoning me and until I started being stupid.  Then the bad men came and had I got to live with you and your family forever and ever and ever.” 

“Don’t call yourself stupid!  Do you hear me, Robyn?” 

“But I am stupid; everyone else says so.” 


“No, you’re not stupid; you’re just...special is all.  Anyway, I’m glad that you know I’m not your –” 

“You’re not my mother; you’re my Not Mother.”  Bran struggled not to laugh as Arya face-palmed and looked as though she wanted to die.  Rickon made no such effort and laughed so hard that tears began pouring down his cheeks.

“He doesn’t know any better so wipe that smile off your stupid face, Bran.  NOW,” snapped Arya as she whacked Rickon in the head with the back of her right hand. 

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...OWW!  Hey! 
What was that for,” whined Rickon as Arya rolled her eyes. 


“And Robyn’s getting better besides.  At least he finally stopped sleeping in front of my room during thunderstorms.” 

“The sky goes boom when the Gods are angry, Bran.  But Not Moth...I mean...Arya said that they can’t gobble you up if you don’t wet the bed.  Did you all hear me?  I said ‘Arya’ this time!  I did good, didn’t I,” asked Robyn.  How has Arya not strangled him yet? 
She’s going to be the most patient mother in the world someday, most like.


“You...umm...yes, Robyn you...‘did good.'  Rickon, if you start laughing again, I swear by all the Gods that I’ll tell Lyanna Mormont all about how you still wet the –” 


“You wouldn’t dare,” gasped Rickon, turning as white as a sheet...before he slept on it.  It was plain from the look on his face that he knew his sister wouldn’t hesitate for a second to embarrass him like that if he pushed her. 

“I’m sorry about Nymeria.  She didn’t deserve to die like that,” said Bran, eager to change the subject more for Rickon’s sake than anything else. 

“Thank you, mother and father were...wait how did you know that she died?”   

“Joffrey was talking about how he poisoned her while he was driving me to –” 

“I KNEW IT!” 


“What did the bad man do,” asked Robyn, wiping away the drool that had started rolling down his chin. 

“Not now, Robyn.  I just...give me a few seconds.  Okay.  I’m alright now, I...I’ll get that bastard some other time,” growled Arya. Maybe I should just let her cut his breaks or whatever she’s going to...no.  I can’t just let her try to kill someone, unless...  No, it’s just a terrible idea. “Anyway, Bran, you coming or not?” 

“No, I just want to go to...wait...oh fuck, is that father’s car?” 

“Yeah, so what?  He’s parked diagonally, but mother will make him move the –” 

“You don’t understand, Joffrey drank all of his whiskey this morning.”    

“HE WHAT,” shouted Arya.  Rickon and Robyn were both plainly too frightened to make a sound. 

“He broke into the liquor cabinet in father’s study, drank it all, and left the empty bottles on mother’s nightstand. 
Mother doesn’t drink, so he’ll probably blame one of us inst...HEY, WAIT FOR ME,” screamed Bran as he realized that his cousin and two youngest siblings were already more than half a block away from the house, running as fast as they could.

Chapter Text

“Are we there yet?”  Not again...


“No, Robin, we’re still a few minutes away.  I promise that I’ll let you know when we’re there,” Arya replied wearily.    

“Oh.  What about now?” 

“No.” 

“Now?” 


“Please stop asking me that,” Arya groaned. 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be bad, Not Moth...I mean...Arya.  I really didn’t!”    

“That’s all you ever are: bad.  Just a whiney little creep,” Bran snapped.  Not you too...  Joffrey didn’t just murder my best friend, he killed the only other one in our family who hadn’t gone insane since we moved to this stupid place.  Before long Robin was crying and Rickon was screaming at him to shut up over and over again, which only made him cry even more.  That would have been bad enough, but the noise Robin made when he cried sounded a bleating goat.  I hate you all so much right now.  Why does everyone in my family lose their stupid minds whenever we go to the veterinarian's office? 

At least we’re not at home right now.  Father would never hurt any of us on purpose, but he’d sometimes hit Bran when he was too drunk to know what he was doing until mother finally made him stop; he even gave him a concussion once.  Mother thinks that’s why Bran’s so grumpy, but it isn’t...not really.  The concussion didn’t help, but it’s this stupid town that did it, most like.  Everything in Winter Falls went to hell after Tywin Lannister was elected mayor.  I told mother that we should move somewhere else, but she just told me to stop being such a drama queen.  That was even worse than being called ‘young lady,’ Arya decided, as she listened to Rickon, Bran, and Robin arguing like four year-olds.  Blah, blah, blah, blah...wait a minute.  If...if father stopped when mother threatened to divorce him, doesn’t that mean he could’ve stopped any time he...no!  Father...he...he loves all of us.  He just...becomes a bad person sometimes when he has too much to drink is all.  He can’t control himself when he gets like that, Arya decided. 

If he ever does anything like that again, I’ll get in the way so that he’ll hurt me instead of Bran.  Bran, Robin, and Rickon are my younger brothers; I can’t let anyone hurt them!  I’ll protect them from Joffrey, father, Tywin fucking Lannister, Uncle Petyr and his psycho wife...somehow.  Even though they’d probably hate me if I wasn’t a Stark, I won’t let anything happen to them!  Never!  I’ll make sure they’re safe until they’re all old enough to leave Winter Falls and...and...and I have to make those three shut up before I kill them all myself.

“BRANDON!  Look what you did now,” snapped Arya, shooting her brother a death glare.  Seven Hells!  Am I the only adult in our whole stupid family?

“What I did?  Me?  We both know that Robin acts like a four year-old most of the time.”  That’s not the point, stupid.  Robin has the I.Q. of a walnut; he doesn’t know any better.  He’s doing the best he can, but he needs a loving family to help him get better or he’ll be like this forever.  You have a 3.9 grade point average; what part of this don’t you understand?  Robin may not be normal for a long time, but maybe he could be someday...maybe.  Why are you so mean to him anyway?  You’re nice to everyone else, but you’re near as cruel to him as Sansa.  It’s bad enough that she makes fun of him whenever mother’s not around, but you’re supposed to better than this, Bran. 

“You’re going to get to play with a bunch of puppies and Robin will calm down the moment he sees them.  Can’t you just think about that while we walk there?  Now stop acting like an idiot and apologize to Robin before Rickon strangles him to death.” 

“Do I have to?”  Yes, Brandon; you need to apologize to him right now unless you want to listen to Robin screech like that all night.  Seven Hells!  How can someone so smart be so dumb? 

“Brandon, you’re my brother and I love you very much, but I am this close to breaking both of your stupid legs right now,” Arya seethed.

“You shouldn’t joke about that, Arya.  That was very immature of you,” Bran replied.  Deep breaths.  Mother said counting to ten slowly helps her calm down when she’s angry.  One.  Two  Three.  Four.  Ugghhh!  I hate this stupid day.  Joffrey murdered my best friend, Robin started calling me his “Not Mother,” father is going to go apeshit if he’s still awake when we get home, and apparently someone replaced Bran’s brain with a soggy cheeto.  At least things can’t get any...no, that’s stupid.  Whenever anyone says that on TV, it means something horrible is about to happen.  The veterinarian’s office probably burned down half-an-hour ago.  Damn it, Bran; you still haven’t apologized to Robin.  Please, you’re the only one who can shut him up right now.  If I have to listen to another minute of that boy squealing like a stuck pig, I’ll...I’ll...

“Wow...cool!  She looks like her head is about to explode.  This is gonna be good!  Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you live from East Pyke Street.  We are about to witness the fight of the century.  Brother against sister!  Stark vs. Stark,” declared Rickon as he pulled out his iPhone and began recording his sister. 

“What bothers me is the principle of the thing, Arya.  Don’t you understand that if he thinks that can always get his way by –” 

“Listen to me very carefully, Brandon. 
If the next words out of your mouth are not ‘I’m sorry Robin; you were not being bad and now I’m going to stop talking before my sister twists my stupid head off like a bottle cap, I’m going to –”

“Calm down, Arya.  Sheesh...you didn’t lose your temper this easily before we moved here.  Fine.  I’m sorry for saying you were bad, Robin.”  Lose my temper?  ARE YOU...whatever.  Close enough.  We should be there in a few minutes. 

“You are?  Rickon can’t be bad tonight, but Arya didn’t say anything about you.  Do you promise you’re sorry for being a mean old grumpyhead,” asked Robin with a sniffle, wiping away his tears. 

“Yes,” groaned Bran, glaring at his sister. 

“He really is getting better,” Arya insisted, hoping that saying it often enough would somehow make it true.  “If you’re just patient with him, I know that he’ll...ROBIN ARRYN, GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF YOUR NOSE THIS INSTANT!” 

“Oh...right, mother said I’m not allowed to go fishing because it’s disgusting.  I was being good though; I promise!  I wasn’t going to eat it this time.  I really wasn’t,” Robin declared, beaming with pride.  Gross!  I can’t...wait...what did you just call me?  Did you just...  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No. 
No.

“Robin, did you...I mean...you didn’t just call me ‘mother,’ did you?” 

“I thought you were my Not Mother, but you said not to call you that anymore.  I tried to use my thinking brain like you told me to when I asked why eating birds doesn’t make people fly and I realized that if you’re not my ‘Not Mother,’ then you must be my new mother.  My first mother probably got sent back to mother school for being bad.  See mother, I can do smart people things too!”  It took every ounce of self-control that Arya possessed to resist the urge to throw up all over the sidewalk.

“Don’t call me that ever again, Robin!  Please, I...I’m not you’re mother.” 

“Well I’m impressed,” snickered Bran. 


“Shut up!” 

“Yes, ‘mother.’” 

“I SAID SHUT –”


“Wait...you are my Not Mother?” 

“No, I’m your cousin, not your...you know what?  Fuck it.  Sure Robin, I’m your ‘Not Mother,’ but please don’t...just don’t ever call me ‘mother’ again.” 
Arya shuddered. 

“I won’t, Not Mother!  I promise!”  Deep breaths.  It’s not his fault...not really.  He just...doesn’t know any better is all.  He just...wait a minute...has Rickon been recording this?  THAT’S IT!  That is the last fucking straw!

“And here we have a horse-faced human-animal hybrid in its natural habitat.  Oh wait, that’s just my sister Arya.  Close enough!”  What did you call me?  Did you just call me ‘horse-face?’  You are so dead, Rickon!  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  No, I’m not going to kill you...not really.  You’re not that lucky!  You’ll just...wish you were dead is all.  “Notice how the proud ‘mother’ behaves around her cub.  She is very protect...HEY!  Give me back my phone!  I need that, I...wait, what are you typing?  Arya, I’m sorry; I was just joking, I promise.  Please don’t tell anyone about last week!  I swear that was the first time in two months, that I –” 

“I’m not going to tell anyone that you still wet the bed, stupid.  I just changed your Facebook status to ‘I can’t keep this bottled up in my heart any longer.  I want the whole world to know about my undying love and affection for my Princess, Lyanna –’” 

“I DO NOT LIKE LYANNA MORMONT!  I really don’t!  I...GOD DAMN IT, GIVE ME MY PHONE BACK RIGHT NOW, ARYA!” 

“Awww...look at him, Bran, he’s blushing.”  Bran didn’t laugh and he didn’t need to either.  The wide smile on his face spoke volumes. 

“I said I...do...not...LIKE HER.” 

“That’s nice. 
This time look me in the eye when you say that.” 

“I don’t...shut up!  Change my status back NOW!” 

“Are you sure?  I even added a little heart at the end of the message.  Oh look!  ‘Shireen Baratheon likes this.’  Who’s that?  Let’s see, she’s not in your grade, but it looks like she’s still Facebook friends with Lyanna Mormont, so...  Oh my God, that poor girl’s mother makes her wear a grocery bag over her head whenever she’s at her house?  That’s terrible!” 

“Yes, she has some sort a skin condition on her face and I’m sure it’s very sad.  Her father was also really good friends with chief Mormont’s before he got shot and she’s probably telling Lyanna all about this right now, so please give me back my stupid phone,” seethed Rickon.    

“Huh.  Lyanna Mormont just liked this post.” 

“I said I don’t...wait...she did?” 

“No, but you should’ve seen the look on your face when I said that!” 


“I am going to kill you!”

“I was about to give you your phone, but that was a really mean thing you just said to me...hmm...decisions, decisions.”


“Okay, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean it!  You’re my sister; you know I’d never try to hurt you.  Not even if father told me to do it!  Please, Arya, I promise that I’ll never try to make any more funny videos of you when you’re really angry.  My life is over!  I can’t go to school on Monday, I...I’ll run away from home and –”

“Fine; stop being such a baby.  Hold on a second; I just have to delete the video you made first and then I’ll...shit!” 

What...what’s going on?  You changed it back, didn’t you,” asked Rickon nervously. 

“Well...” 

“Are we there yet?”

“NO, just...can’t you just shut up, Robin,” snapped Rickon. 

“I know you are, but what am I.” 

“That doesn’t even make any...arrrghhh...Arya, have you changed my status back yet?”


“I’m really sorry, but your phone just died.  I didn’t mean for that to happen.  It’s okay, I’ll just...crap, I left mine at home and Robin doesn’t even have one.” 

“WHAT?  This is the worst day of my life!” 

“There’s always tomorrow,” added Robin cheerfully.

“It’s okay, you can use mine.  You and Robin go on ahead, we’ll catch up with you later once Rickon’s phone is charged and he’s...err...updated his status,” said Bran, plainly fighting the urge to burst out laughing. 

“Stop looking at me like that; it’s not funny!”

“Not Mother, why does Rickon’s head look like a giant tomato?”

... 

Arya knocked on the metal door of the small brick building where she’d lost her best friend less than 24 hours ago.  It looked different in the evening and yet everything about it was the same.  Arya shivered as the air around her grew so cold that she could see her breath. 

“This place is bad. 
I wanna go home,” Robyn moaned, hugging Arya like frightened child clinging to its mother. 


“Robin, we came all this way and we’re not going to turn around, so please let go of me.  NOW!” 

“Yes, moth...I mean...Not Mother.”  Arya face-palmed the moment that the 13 year-old boy mercifully released her.  Suddenly, the door opened and a man with a voice as soft as a whisper invited both of them inside.  The building wasn’t half this cold during the daytime.  Is the air conditioning on?  No, that’s stupid. 

“Hello, my name is –” 

“Arya Stark, I think.  Qyburn told me you would be here at 6:30 and yet it is 6:34.  I am a very busy man and punctuality is of the utmost importance.  Tell me, what am I to make of this?” 

“I...I’m sorry, I –”  Arya had never seen anyone who looked quite like this man before.  He had pale blue eyes and even paler skin.  His face had a timeless quality to it that made it look as though it hadn’t aged a single day.  One moment it looked like that of a man who’d bathed in the fountain of youth and the next it seemed as old as the trees. 
He was neither thin nor overweight and carried himself like a man who had solved all of life’s mysteries.

“I beg your indulgence; that was simply my poor attempt at a jape.” 


“What’s a ‘jape?’” 

“A joke.  It matters not at all.  I fear my manner of speech comes from another time.  The world was a very different place when I was your age, I think,” replied the man as his lips twisted into a thin smile.  Why does he talk like that?  And why can I still see my breath inside of this stupid building? 

“You’re Mr. Bolton, aren’t you?” 

“You shall address me as ‘Lord Bolton,’ I think.  ‘My Lord’ would also serve.”  Whatever.  I’m not calling you “my Lord” though; that’s almost as bad as when mother and father call me “young lady.”  I’m going to be a veterinarian, not some boring old Lady.  And I couldn’t be a Lady even if I wanted to besides.  Sansa will be a proper Lady someday.  She’ll be perfect and everyone will love her...just like they always do.  Now that Nymeria’s gone, there’s no one who likes me more than Sansa except maybe Robin...maybe.  Sansa would be his favorite Stark if she were nice to him, most like.

“Sorry, Mr. Qyburn said you like to be called that, but you’re not really a Lord...are you?” 

“It is an ancestral title that I inherited when my father died.  In truth, my full title is Lord Roose of House Bolton.  I fear that it may seem a bit odd to you, but at my age, a man oft grows set in his ways. 
I have grown too old, I think.” 

“Oh.  You don’t look that old...not really.”

“As you say.  Tell me, who is this young man whom you have brought with you?  I fear Qyburn didn’t mention that you would be bringing a friend.”

“That’s my cousin, Robin, only...he’s been more like a brother to me ever since my parents adopted him.  He’s a bit...special, but I thought maybe he could play with some of the dogs.  You don’t have to worry about him though.  He’ll be good, I –” 

“It matters not at all.  Don’t worry about your cousin; I completely understand.  There was a boy in Twin Crossing Village who was also a bit...touched.  It wasn’t a problem there and it won’t be a problem tonight.  We’ve already taken in several puppies and they would love nothing more than to have someone to play with, I think.  Robin?” 

“I don’t like him; Not Mother.  He’s a scary, bad man,” Robin whined.  

"What is a 'Not Mother?'"  

“I’m so sorry, Lord Bolton!  He thinks that I'm...Seven Hells!  Robin Arryn, don’t even –” 

“It matters not at all,” replied Lord Bolton in a voice as soft as a whisper.  “Robin, I want you to look me in the eye.  Yes, that will serve.  You will wipe the drool from your mouth, I think.  Tell me, do I frighten you so?  No, of course not. 
You don’t truly believe that I’m a bad man, do you?” 

“Not scary...good man,” groaned Robin, wiping away the drool from his mouth with his left sleep even as his eyes remained fixed upon those of Lord Bolton.  Are his eyes...no, that’s stupid!  Lord Bolton is a very strange man, but people’s eyes don’t glow.  His eyes were just...never as pale as I thought they were is all. 

“Good.  Now then, your cousin and I have some very boring grown-up matters to discuss.  You’d much rather play with puppies than sit around here with nothing to do, I think.  The door on the other side of the room is unlocked and when you go through the doorway, you will see a hallway.  Walk to the other end of the hall and you will find that my associate Mr. Qyburn is waiting for you.  He will take you to the puppies, I think.  They are all waiting for you in one of the back-rooms.  There are kittens too.  Run along now, Robin.”  Arya watched in shock as her cousin wordlessly staggered toward the door as if in a trance.  He nearly walked right into it before pausing for a moment, opening it, and then carefully closing it behind him. 

“What just...I mean...how did you make him do that?  He was about to have a temper-tantrum because he was afraid of you, but you calmed him down and made him quietly what you said just by looking at him. 
Robin likes me better than anyone else and he never listens to me like that when he’s upset.” 

“It is simple enough, I think.  Let me show you...  You will come over here, I think.”  Seven Hells!  Why can’t I meet with Mr. Qyburn instead?  I came here to volunteer not to...whatever it is that he’s doing, Arya thought to herself as Lord Bolton looked her directly in the eye.   


“Why?  And stop looking at me like that, it’s...weird.”  The pale man studied her with a mixture of amusement, admiration, and confusion. 

“That is most peculiar.  It matters not at all; you came here to assist me, not to play games.  Have a seat.  Yes, over there.  Good.”  Lord Bolton gestured to one of the chairs in the waiting room and then sat down a few chairs away.  For a moment, Arya thought she felt something pinch her left arm, but the feeling disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

“Lord Bolton, I...it’s already 6:45 and my two younger brothers were going to meet me here.  Bran and Rickon, they said...they should be here by now.  It’s getting late and maybe I should come by some other time. 
I left my phone at home and I need to make sure they’re okay; they should be here by now.” 


“As you say.  Don’t move.” 

“What?  Why not,” asked Arya as Lord Bolton stood up and walked toward her.  Her grey eyes widened in horror and she struggled not to throw up as the pale man carefully pulled some sort of large, black creature off of her left arm. 

“What...what is that thing?” 

“It is merely a leech.  It has been draining blood from your arm since you sat down, I think.”  Without another word, Lord Bolton dropped the leech into his mouth and ate it.  “Now then, where were we?  Ah yes, before I go on, I fear I forgot to mention that the ‘puppies’ in the back room are small children.  A wise man keeps a stockpile of food lest he find himself without when times are hard.”  He’s...he’s crazy. 
I have to get out of here now! 

“It’s late and I...I should really get going.  I...I have to...umm...I should make sure my...make sure my brothers are alright,” Arya stammered as she bolted from her seat.  “Robin, it’s time to go!  NOW!  ROBIN!” 

“He can’t hear you, I think.  I fear that the rooms in this building are all sound-proofed.  He’s in one of the back-rooms with Qyburn.  Fear not, I have no intention of keeping him in a cage,” said Lord Bolton.  The pale man’s lips curled into a cruel smile as Arya pulled and pulled at the metal door. 
Why won’t this stupid thing open? 

“I fear that door won’t move an inch unless I will it.  In a moment, I shall permit you to leave if you wish, but first you should know that you will never see your cousin Robin again if you do.  I fear that my son Ramsay has begun to bore me just as my son Domeric did before him.  Whenever my youngest child grows tiresome, I must needs look elsewhere for new amusements.  Robin will make a suitable addition to our family, I think.”  What?  No!  He can’t kidnap Robin!  He can’t have him!  Never!  I’ll save him...somehow!  This has to be a nightmare or...no!  I won’t panic; that’s what Sansa would do.  I have to stay calm...I...I...fear cuts deeper than swords.  Fear cuts deeper than swords.  Fear cuts deeper than swords. 

“You’re saying that you...you go around abducting people’s children and raise them as your own whenever you get bored with the last one you took away from its family?” 

“In a manner of speaking, yes.” 


“But you...you can’t just –” 

“I can’t?  And why is that? 
In truth, some of my cold children have died over the years, but I acquired both of my sons in this manner.” 

“Because...I mean...because...you just...you can’t do that!” 

“I see.  Well...I certainly can’t argue with that,” replied the pale man, rolling his eyes.   

“Listen, I...this is just...this is all some sort of mistake.  If you let Robin and me go now, I...I won’t tell anyone about any of this.  I promise! 
Please, I –” 

“It matters not at all.” 


“My brother Jon is a cop; if anything happens to me, he’ll –” 

“You’re free to go.  Of course, my associate and I will be gone by the time the police arrive,” replied Lord Bolton.  Arya was too focused on the blue-eyed monster staring at her like she was a freshly cooked meal to even notice that the door had swung open all by itself. 

“I’m not leaving without Robin.  I...I’m warning you, you’d better let him go now or else...or...this your last chance!” 

“As you wish.  I am happy to let your cousin go if you will consent to taking his place. 
In truth, I could simply claim the two of you right now, but...well...I fear I’ve always preferred making people come to me on their own.” 

“Take his place?  Are you insane?” 

“Does it matter?” 


“What do you mean ‘does it matter?’” 


“My sanity or lack thereof has no bearing upon the present situation, I think.” 

“Don’t you care if people think you’re crazy?” 

“No, not particularly.  Should I?” 

“But –” 

“This is a one time offer and you will answer me now, I think.  I fear that you have aroused my curiosity.  Your feeble attempts to intimidate me were most amusing and in truth, it is quite rare for anyone to disobey me when I look them in the eye, much less a child.” 

“I’m not a stupid –” 

“I am near as old as time itself; everyone is little more than a child to me, I think.  Accept or decline, it matters not at all.”  He is completely insane.  ‘I am near as old as old as time itself.’  What does that even mean anyway?  That’s the stupidest, cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard.  Robin will probably be dead in an hour or...he’ll never escape, not even if Lord Bolton and Mr. Qyburn keep him alive.  I can escape!  I’m smarter than them; I...I just have to keep them from killing me for a few days is all.  Bran and Rickon know where I was going and Robin will tell them what happened.  They’ll call the police and...I have to do it!  It will all be over soon!  It’s the only way to save him.  I’ll be home soon and by next week Lord Bolton and Mr. Qyburn will be in prison.  Maybe the police will also find all the other children he’s kidnapped...maybe. 

“Fine.  I...I’ll do it, only...how do I know you’ll let Robin go?” 

“You don’t.  I fear that you shall have to trust me when I promise you that I will not harm a hair on his head.” 

“Why would I do –”  Before Arya could finish her question, Lord Bolton raced toward the doorway, grabbed her head with his left hand, lifted her into the air, and muffled her screams by covering her mouth with his right hand.  Arya fought, kicked, and hit the pale-skinned psycho, but it was no use; he didn’t even seem to notice when she bit him as hard as she could.  Instead, his lips simply twisted into a cruel smile.  The pale man opened his mouth and Arya’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as two razor-sharp, retractable fangs swung forward.  They were so long that Lord Bolton could barely close his mouth.  What...but...but...this is a nightmare.  It...it has to be!  Others aren’t real.  This isn’t real!  It can’t be real, it’s not...not today!  Not today!  Not today! 
Not today!

Arya felt a sharp, piercing pain on the left side of her neck.  For a moment, she thought Lord Bolton had stabbed her, but the feeling vanished so quickly that there wasn’t even time to scream.  She tried to kick the pale man in the groin, but her legs simply began twitching uncontrollably.  No!  Stop twitching!  Why am I flailing around like a stupid dead finish.  Stop it!  Why can’t I kick him?  Is he...he...he’s biting me!  Arya watched in horror as all four of her limbs swung forward and wrapped themselves tightly around Lord Bolton while her neck bent so low that she could no longer see the monster’s face.  She felt the pale-skinned...thing remove its hands from her head, but her arms and legs only tightened their grip on her attacker.  STOP!  Let go!  Let go and run!  RUN!  Why can’t I let go of him?  I have to let go...just...just not yet.  It..it feels so...so...and I...I want...I need father.  He chose me; he...he will give me new life and...and then...  NO!  What’s wrong with me?  I...I don’t want...I don’t...I...I belong with father and my...my brothers.  I belong to father now; my place is with him. 

As she watched her skin grow paler and paler, Arya realized that something was leaving her, though whether it was her blood, her soul, or something else entirely, she could not say.  She opened her mouth to scream, but all that emerged was a weak, tired groan.  No!  What...what’s happening?  I...I...but...  Suddenly, Arya felt a strange inner peace that she never would’ve believed was possible.  It’s not so bad...not really.  It will all be over soon.  There’s nothing to worry about, it’s just...just a new feeling is all.  No one will poison my dog or call me “lumpyhead” ever again.  Father will make everything better; I know he will!  And soon...soon father will let me make my own cold children.  Maybe he’ll even let me do it tonight...maybe.

Everything’s fine...it...it’s all for the...for the best.  I have a new family and...and...I have brothers now.  I have father.  I will be with them forever.  We’ll feast forever, live forever, fly fore...forever and ever and ever and ever.  I...I...want...they want me.  I will join them and...and...and I’ll bring the rest of my old family too!  Father will take them; I know he will!  It’s not so bad...not really.  They’ll see!  NO!  I have to...have to protect them from Lord Bolt...from father...must protect father...protect family...must...must make father proud...he wants them.  Soon we’ll all be one family forever and...father, he...I...I belong to him...belong...belong to...  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  Arya's eyelids drooped and she felt her heart stop beating.  Am I dead?  What...what did he do? 

Arya felt something sharp yank itself out of the left side of her neck and she closed her eyes.  Seconds before she released Lord Bolton and fell to the ground in a deep, peaceful sleep, something buried in some distant corner of the frightened girl’s mind tried to scream.  Arya opened her mouth, but she didn’t scream.  Instead, a voice that was both her own and someone else’s entirely moaned four words that frightened her more than anything she’d ever heard in her life. 

“I love you, father.” 
*THUD*

Chapter Text

She shouldn’t be smiling like that, Lord Bolton decided as he studied the pale girl lying at his feet with growing alarm.  The child was smiling like she’d died and gone to heaven even though the last trace of color had already left her skin some time ago.  In truth, she shouldn’t even be sleeping at all.  Domeric nearly clawed his neck open after being drained, but he would never dream of challenging me, I think.  Ramsay slept like a baby after I bit him and snapped his mother’s neck, but ever since he woke up, he’s been an insolent, impulsive, savage little beast.  It would not serve for this one to share his temperament.  Raising one of child with Ramsay’s...unique disposition has been a trial, but a second one...  Seven Hells, what if she’s even worse.  “I love you, father.”  What does that even mean?  Both of my sons plainly loath me in their own ways; mayhaps that is what she said, even if Domeric would gladly lick my boots if he thought it would earn him a pat on the head.  No, I fear the word the child used was “love.”  It will be a miracle if my daughter doesn’t try to kill me the moment that she wakes up, I think. 

Arya let out a deep, contented sigh and her smile grew even wider as two sharp fangs began forcing her mouth open, although even this did not wake the girl from her slumber.  I fear that not even Ramsay slept this long and he never smiled in his sleep besides.  He...what’s that she doing now, Lord Bolton wondered as the pale 16 year-old began to roll about before curling into fetal position and moaning quietly. 

This is all wrong; I was certain a younger child would be more obedient than Ramsay while still possessing the ruthlessness that Domeric has always lacked.  I was plainly mistaken; the most difficult children are oft those who have the most painless transitions.  I fear that I have never seen anyone react this way to being bitten; the girl should be writhing in pain, not grinning like an idiot.  I fear that I can only create one child every 500 years; the rest are little more than dead bodies to be sent after those foolish enough to challenge me.  They may have some measure of their original personalities, to be sure, but only if I allow it.  In truth, none but my cold children and the children they create have any real will of their own.  Mayhaps the girl will be an exception.  There is no way to know precisely what any child’s temperament will be until it wakes up, I think. 

I fear that I have wasted 500 years simply by biting a 16 year-old girl who will become a deranged, disobedient little monster with the self-control of an infant the moment she wakes up, Lord Bolton thought to himself bitterly.  I wonder...if I had simply waited for one of her brothers...  Mayhaps teenage boys are more obedient and deferential towards their parents than their counterparts within the weaker sex.  Yes, that was the problem, I think.  It matters not at all.  The girl is my daughter now and I fear that I must needs suffer her for the rest of time just as I have suffered Ramsay for the past five centuries. 

“Father, I need...I want my...want father,” groaned the pale child.  The girl has started speaking and I fear that means it is only a matter of time until she wakes up.  It would be best if her brothers were in the room when she woke up, I think.  I suppose I might as well get this over with, Lord Bolton decided, carefully lifting his youngest child up off the ground with both hands.  I like this not at all; it would not serve for her to wake up while she’s being transported to our temporary place of residence.  Suddenly, the girl – without opening her eyes for even a second – scowled and bore her teeth at her father.  Now what?  Did she just growl at me? 
Arya rolled to the side and began sniffing Lord Bolton’s chest like a dog inspecting a fire hydrant.

The pale girl soon stopped sniffing her father and a wide smile appeared on her face, even though her fangs had grown so long that she could barely close her mouth. Mayhaps I should just kill you right now and save myself the trouble.  If Arya knew what Lord Bolton thinking, she showed no sign.  Instead, the pale girl let out another loud, happy sigh.

“Father,” whimpered the child as she wedged herself into the space between Lord Bolton’s arms and pressed herself firmly against her father like a cat snuggling between two pillows on the warmest corner of a couch.  This will not serve.  If the girl turns out to be some sort of feral animal, I’ll kill her and be done with it, Lord Bolton decided.  If she wants to live then any further indignities that she would have me suffer will have to wait until after she has woken up, I think.  No, if I haven’t killed Ramsay by now, I fear I’ll never be able to bring myself to kill any of my cold children. 

“At least you won’t require any walks,” grumbled Lord Bolton as he kicked a button near the floor of the waiting room and watched the middle of the floor slide away to reveal a long stairway. 

“Must protect...keep father safe,” moaned a muffled voice.  You?  Protect me?  A jape mayhaps?  It matters not at all.  I suppose I should count myself fortunate that the girl appears capable of semi-coherent speech.

“And how would you do that?” 

“Need mother...want my moth –” 


“Enough.” 

“Yes, fath – ”  Before Arya could finish her sentence, Lord Bolton tossed her down the steps and began making his way down to greet his other two living disappointments. 

...

“Father, I said I wanted another little brother.” 

“I fear that we can’t all get we want, can we?  Were that the case then mayhaps I’d have a son in whom I could take some small measure of pride.  Instead, all I have are you and your brother. 
Tell me, Domeric, why would anyone want you for a son?” 


“But father, I –” 

“B-b-b-but f-f-f-father, I...I...I...” 

“Shut up, bastard!” I should kill both of them, I think. 
I never will, but I should... 

“What did you just call me?” 

“I said you’re a worthless, fatherless bastard who is just jealous because our father hates him.” 

“I’m not a bastard anymore; I’m your brother now!  Just because our shriveled old cunt of a father hates you a little less than me doesn’t mean...wait a minute...why is our sister moaning like that?  Was she in the middle of having an orgasm when you bit her, father? 
Couldn’t you have at least let her finish before –” 

“Enough.  Another word and I fear that you’ll force me to remove your tongue.”  Both of Lord Bolton’s sons grew silent and even his semi-conscious daughter finally stopped moaning.  “Domeric, you are a weak, miserable taint upon our family who has always been soft of mind and heart.  In truth, you are not half as great a disappointment as the bastard, but I fear that is as low a bar as I have ever seen.  I –” 

“Father, I’m hungry,” groaned Arya, opening her eyes...both of which had turned the same pale, blue color as those of her father and brothers. 

“It’s alive!  It’s alive!  It’s alive,” shouted Ramsay, hunching over and hoping up and down like an idiot. I truly hate that man.  He has been put upon this earth to teach me humility, I think.  I pray that I never make a mistake of his ilk again. 
What could’ve ever possessed me to think that a serial killer would’ve made a proper son?

“Father, who...are these my brothers?” 

“Yes.” 

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.  You will refer to me as Domeric and nothing else.  Is that understood?  So long as you obey father and me in all things without question, you will find the rest of your days to be quite agreeable, I think.  However, if you lack the good sense to do as you are bid, then I fear that you will leave me with no choice but to punish you.  Fortunately, that won’t happen because I have every expectation that you won’t need a sharp lesson to realize that I am in charge whenever father is not around.”  Have you gone soft in the head?  I have never understood children half as well as your mother did before I disemboweled her, but it is known that a young child will never listen to an older sibling who speaks to them in such a manner.  The fool has brought whatever happens next upon himself, Lord Bolton decided. Ramsay rolled his eyes in disgust, pressed his wormy lips together, and made a loud farting noise.

“Is that so,” asked Arya, narrowing her pale, blue eyes and frowning at her older brother once her fangs swung back enough that she could close her mouth.  “I don’t think your...our brother likes you very much.  I can’t imagine why.” 

If Domeric noticed his sister’s sarcasm – or the fact that she was staring at him in much the same way that a wolf might look at a wounded deer – he did a remarkable job of hiding it. 
Lord Bolton felt his lips twist into a thin smile as the least insufferable of his cold children continued doing everything within his power to ensure that his youngest sibling would treat him with near as much respect as she’d give a three month old wheel of cheese for the rest of their days. 

“Yes, little sister, that is the way of it.  In truth, my brother does talk back to me from time to time, but I assure you that it is only because he is bitter about the fact that he was a bastard until father chose him.  If father does not object, then I give you my permission to disrespect our brother in any manner that you see fit.” 

“You...you give me permission to talk about him however I want?”  As if in reply, Ramsay made another farting noise.

“As you can see, small things amuse small minds.  I fear that our brother is little more than a spiteful, soft-headed, spineless little rat that some whore shat out in a barn.”  If your words today cause the girl to start trying to emulate your brother...  Lord Bolton’s face remained an emotionless mask even as he silently cursed his eldest son’s foolishness.     

“Shut up,” growled Ramsay. 

“Mind your tongue, bastard, unless you would have me remove it,” replied Domeric without even bothering to look at his brother. 
“You see what father and I have had to suffer, little sister?” 

“You want me to ask your permission before I say anything bad about someone; you can’t be serious?” 

“Of course I am.” 

“Wow...umm...give me a minute; I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite like you.” 

“I am quite remarkable, I think.” 

“I was going to use a different word, but I guess that works.” 


“I’d have gone with ‘shithead,’” muttered Ramsay drawing an angry glare from his brother. 

“You should ignore Ramsay, I think.  I trust that you will behave yourself like a good little lady and do as you are bid.” 


“I’m not a...I mean, thank you for telling me everything I need to know about you.  You’re near as humble as Sansa,” seethed Arya, looking her oldest brother directly in the eye.

“Who?  It matters not at all.”

“I have a question for you.”    

“Yes?  And stop looking at me like that; it is impolite, I think.  I fear that I could never abide rude –”

“Oh.  Sorry to interrupt you; I certainly don’t want to be rude.  It’s just...why does father have more hair than you?  Are you sure you’re not my grandfather?” 

“Yes, our dear brother is practically hairless, isn’t he,” Ramsay added cheerfully. 


“Practically?  He’s completely bald!  He looks like a stupid mole rat or something.” Mayhaps I should just kill all three of you.  No, that would not serve, I think.  I fear the mundane redundancy of my life would prove unbearable without the amusements that my cold children offer from time to time. 

“Shut up!” 

“Make me.”


“Listen –” 

“No, you listen, idiot,” snapped Arya.  “I don’t care if you’re some old fart or not; I don’t have to do what you say if I don’t want to!  And I don’t have to listen to anyone except father either.”   It took every ounce self-control that Lord Bolton possessed to conceal his relief that the youngest of his cold children was born with at least some vague awareness of her place.  It matters not at all whether or not Arya respects Domeric so long as she does as she’s bid whenever I tell her to do something, I think. 
It took several sharp lessons for Ramsay to learn not to question me on important matters. 

“I told you to address me only as –” 

“‘Idiot.’  That’s what I’m going to call you from now on, idiot.  Maybe if you stop acting like an idiot then I’ll start calling you something else...maybe.  And father likes me better than you besides.” 

“You’ll have to excuse my brother, dear sister; I’m afraid the doctors were never were able to remove that stick you see poking out of his ass.  Far as I’m concerned, anyone who pisses that prick off can’t be all bad.  And your name is...” 

“Arya,” the pale girl replied with a wide smile.  “I’m glad one of my brothers isn’t a complete idiot.” 

“Right, well don’t mind me; I’m just enjoying the show.  I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time for introductions later. 
I believe you were in the middle of telling Domeric what an asshole he –”


“Oh right, thanks!  You see, idiot?  If you stopped trying to boss everyone around all the time and were nice to people like Ramsay, then maybe not everyone would hate you.  Do you understand, idiot?  It’s okay if you don’t; I can just say it again using smaller words.”  Lord Bolton glanced at his second son and saw that the bastard’s pale, blue eyes were fixed firmly upon his older brother.  A wide smile spread across Ramsay’s face the moment as Domeric’s hands began shaking with anger.  This is the happiest I’ve ever seen Ramsay, I think, Lord Bolton realized.  If I ever die, it will be only a matter of time until he murders his older brother, most like.  Mayhaps he will kill Arya too, although I fear that they seem to be getting along.  It matters not at all.  In truth, Domeric is too weak to ever lead a family on his own.  He may be the least loathsome of my sons, but I fear that is not half so great a priority as our continued survival.  If he must needs be sacrificed to preserve the rest, so be it. 
In truth, I might even trust the girl before him.

“Father said –” 

“Father likes me better than you, idiot.” 

“Does not,” snapped Domeric. 

“Does too!”  I hate you all.  Whatever else Ramsay may be, at least the bastard understands that it matters not at all which of you I dislike the least. If these two continue to persist in this foolishness, then I fear Ramsay may prove himself to be the most tolerable of my cold children before the night is over.

“NO HE DOESN’T,” roared Domeric, punching his sister in the belly.  A look of mild disappointment crossed Ramsay’s face as Arya fell to the ground without another word. Mayhaps that will shut up the the lot of you. Lord Bolton’s hopes were quickly dashed as his daughter bolted up off the ground, leapt into the air, and sunk her teeth into her oldest brother’s forehead.  Domeric howled in pain as he tried in vain to pull his sister out of his head.  She clung to to her eldest brother’s forehead until Ramsay finally pulled her out and flung her across the room. 
Arya landed on her feet and hissed at Domeric. This will not serve.

“Enough,” snapped Ramsay as he stepped between his siblings.  “Domeric’s a cunt, but he’s not worth making father wroth with you.”  Did Ramsay just peacefully resolve a conflict?

“Fuck off, bastard.” 

“Call me a bastard again and I’ll –”  

“Ramsay?” 

“Yes?” 

“If I...if I want to hurt someone...really hurt them, but I don’t want them to be in our family, is there...I mean...what can I do to them?” 
Ramsay’s face lit up like a candle the moment his sister finished speaking. 

“If you really want to hurt someone, then I know all sorts of fun games that you can play.” 

“Games?” 


“Yes, games.  Now then, who are we talking about?  I assume it’s someone from before father ripped you away from everyone you ever –” 

“Father didn’t do anything wrong!  He could’ve had anyone in Winter Falls, but he chose me.  I wasn’t alive before...not really.  He saved me and brought me to my real family; but I’m still hungry...I mean...I...I’m still going to bring some of my old family with me. 
You’ll take them, won’t you, father?” Only the first one that you bit upon will truly have a will of its own.


“I suppose,” replied Lord Bolton mildly. 

“Thank you!  I knew you would! 
See, father’s not so bad...not really.”

“He just threw you down the stairs,” muttered Domeric. 

“He did not!  He wouldn’t do that!” 

“Much as I’d love to listen to the two of you proclaim your undying love and affection for our beloved father, I think we’re getting a bit off-topic.  Tell me, who is it that you want to hurt so badly that you would ask me for suggestions?  Older sibling,” asked Ramsay glancing at his older brother.  Arya shook her head.  “Old boyfriend?”

“Gross!  No, he just poisoned my dog is all.” 

“And you still remember that...even now?” 

“Nymeria was a really good dog!” 

“I see,” replied Ramsay rolling his eyes.  “As father would say, ‘it matters not at all.’  There was once a man named Heke who called me a bastard many years ago.  I forced him to drink two drops of my blood and  I will not suffer the presence of another Reek. 

“The three of you will be silent, I think.”    

“But I’m still hungry,” whined Arya.  Lord Bolton sighed in frustration and tossed each of his cold children a cellphone jammer. 

“Remember to use these when you are out tonight.  Ramsay, you are to disable all power-lines.  Domeric will kill every police officer in the city.  Arya will bit as many children as she can find since they have the easiest time getting invited into houses.  I will visit any clergy and elected officials in this backwater.  It is crucial that the survivors – and there will be survivors tomorrow morning – have no natural authority figures to turn to for guidance.” 

“What about the old man?  Qyburn isn’t part of our family, is he?  Can I –” 

“No; Qyburn is the best servant I have had in centuries.” 

“But I –” 

“I don’t care how hungry you are, you will not bite him.  Is that understood?” 

“Yes, father,” the pale girl groaned.  Suddenly, Arya’s face lit up and for a moment Lord Bolton could’ve sworn that he saw a lightbulb turn on above his daughter’s head.

“Where is Robin?” 


“Who?” 

“My cousin...well...he used to be my cousin.  He’s the boy who came here with me.” 

“You said he was soft in the head, I think. 
It would not serve for you to bring him into our family by feeding upon him first, I think.” 


“It doesn’t matter...not really.  Please, just tell me where he is and –” 

“No.” 

“But –” 

“Father’s right,” added Ramsay cheerfully as Lord Bolton shot him a death glare.  “We certainly wouldn’t want you to know that Qyburn has the little boy locked in a cage upstairs.  If you knew that then you might just break the door down and –”  *CRASH*  Now what? Suddenly, a small boy with a lighter stumbled into the room.

“Who the fuck is that,” blurted Domeric.

“Hello, Robin...umm...where did...I mean...what...what are you doing with that lighter,” stammered Arya. 

“I found this little baby fire flashlight, but it only turns on when you open it.  This place is bad and not nice, so I’m going to burn it down and make everyone who lives here fly forever and ever.” 

“NO!  I mean...you don’t really want to burn anything, do you?” 

“Yes, I do!  I going to huff and puff, and burn the bad man’s house down and then...and...and then I’m going to light Joffrey on fire while he flies.” 

“Umm...right, but the garbage in this tunnel is highly flammable.” 


“What does that mean?” 

“It means that if you burn anything here, your Not Mother will die.  You...you don’t want to kill me, do you?  Just give me the lighter and –” 

“It’s okay, I’ll do burn it after we leave and...wait...it’s my baby fire flashlight! 
Finders keepers, losers...umm...wait...uh...losers smelt it, so they dealt it!” 

“Riiiiiight.  So, Robin, why don’t you just come here and show me your...umm...baby fire flashlight?  I just want to see it for a minute; it won’t take long, I promise.” 

“But I don’t wanna!” 

“I know, but I...are you insane,” hissed Arya.  Her cold blue eyes were practically bulging out of their sockets with anger by the time she turned to face her oldest brother.  “He’ll kill all of us if you keep laughing at him!”  

“I wasn’t laughing at him,” replied Domeric with a smirk that made his sister curl her hands into fists, both shaking as she struggled to keep them at her side. 
“Don’t mind me; your Not Son needs you, I think.”

“Shut up!” 

“Yes, Not Mother.” 

“I SAID SHUT –”

“Wait, I know what’s going on here,” Robin declared with a level of self-confidence usually reserved for serial killers.  “You had the other bad men kidnap Arya because you want her to be your Not Mother instead of mine?  Well you can’t have her!  She’s my Not Mother, not yours!  I don’t care if your mother was bad and had to go back to mother school; go find your own Not Mother,” roared Robin as he turned the lighter back on. 

“Believe me, I want nothing to do with your cousin.” 

“YOU CAN’T FOOL ME!  She’s not just my cousin, she’s my Not Mother too.  MINE, NOT YOURS,” Robin shouted with such undiluted rage that the earth itself seemed to shake.  The boy raised his right hand in the air and was plainly seconds away from lighting the whole place on fire.


“My mother’s dead so how could she be sent to...err...mother school?” 


“She is?  Why didn’t you say so earlier; I thought that...wait...are you sure you’re not just trying to trick me?” 

“Don’t be silly, Robin.  I promise that Domeric doesn’t want me to be his Not Mother,” Arya gently added as her face contorted into a grotesque mix fear and fury.  “Please turn off the lighter –” 

“Baby fire flashlight!” I don’t have time for this madness!

“Right...just please turn it off right now; you’re scaring me.” 


“But fire’s our friend!” 


“ROBIN!”     

“Fine,” groaned Robin.  “Why does your skin look all cold and pale like the frozen not for eating milk that falls out the sky during the winter?  Is that what happens when you eat it?  Which of the bad men made you –” 


“No one forced me to eat snow,” Arya sighed, rubbing her forehead in frustration.

“Oh.  Did you know that the old man who took me away was a mean old stupidhead?  I got away and he slipped when he was chasing after me.  I think one of his legs got broke real bad when he fell, but I jumped on it just to be sure.  I did smart people things, Not Mother.  I thinked really good just like you told me to that time I couldn’t figure out how to flush the toilet.” 

“What the fuck is a ‘Not Mother,’” Ramsay blurted. 
Have I truly lived for centuries only to be burned to death by some young half-wit from the boondocks? 

“Let my Not Mother go now and you can leave before I burn this place down,” snapped Robin, ignoring the bastard’s question. 


“You will look my son in the eye when you speak to him, I think,” replied Lord Bolton mildly. 

I’m not...I’m not looking at any of you.  The last time I did that, I could feel the bad man playing with my thinking brain.  I really did feel him making talking noises in my head, Not Mother.” 


“Don’t be ridiculous, Robin!  Fath...I mean...Lord Bolton is not a bad man.  I don’t want to hear you talking about him that way ever again!” 

“But he put himself inside of me when I looked at him!  I swear he did, honest and for truly!  He’s a bad man and...and...and I want him to fly NOW,” yelled Robin, gesturing wildly at Lord Bolton with his lighter. 

“I’m still hungry,” moaned Arya, squirming about as she struggled to keep herself from simply charging at the boy who held her entire family’s lives in one of his tiny hands. 

“Can’t you wait two seconds?” 


“I’m sorry, Ramsay...I just...I need...please...so hungry.” 


“Forget what I said; the look on father’s face right now just made all of this worthwhile.  Please continue telling us how hungry you are, little sister.” 

“Can’t...must...must make father proud...can’t disappoint...have to protect you and father from...from Robin...I...he’s not food yet.  Must...must feed later!  Lighter first, then food!  Protect father and Ram...then...please, can I do it now, father?  I need to...please...so hungry,” whined Arya, clutching her stomach while hopping up and down like a young child trying not to wet her pants.

“As you say.  You want my daughter so badly, little boy?  She’s all yours; why don’t you come and get her.” 

“Yes, Robin come...come here.  Come...come give me a hug. 
I’m scared, please come here and...I need...please hurry,” Arya pled.


“No, we have to leave so that I can burn this place down.” 

“We can burn...burn the whole city later...just put down the lighter and –” 

“But I wanna burn it now! 
You have to burn things before you make them fly or they come back; that’s why Joffrey didn’t die when I pushed him down the stairs for being bad.” 

“Robin, I...I need...food...I mean...please come here...it won’t take long!  Just one bite and...I’ll only take a little blood...I mean...I can’t take it anymore, father!”

“You know something, Not Mother, I don’t think there ever were any puppies here.” 

“No shit, just...just put down the stupid lighter!  Please put it down and...and...”  It is past time I helped move this along. 
Now is as good a time as any to find out whether a sibling rivalry can be of any use to me, I think. 


“If you truly wish to make me proud, then you will bring an end to this foolishness now,” said Lord Bolton, putting a hand on his daughter’s shoulder and looking down at the trembling child.  “I’ve been very disappointed in your handling of this situation thus far.” 

“I told you father likes me better than you,” muttered Domeric with a smirk. I hate all three of you; what part of that is so hard for you and Arya to understand?

“He does not!  Father would never...never want...he likes me better than you!  Right, father?  Father?  Why...why are you looking at me like that? 
Say something!”

“In truth, I thought that I saw something in you once, but if you can’t even handle a small child...well...I fear that there is a disappointment in every family.”

“NOOOOOOOO!  I mean...I’m trying...please don’t hate me, father.  I just...one more chance!  I didn’t...I didn’t mean to be a failure, I really didn’t!  Just hungry, but I...I’ll do anything you say, just don’t hate...  Please, I –”

“Despite all of your failures, I must admit that you still tried to deal with the boy which is more then I can say for my son Domeric.  I fear that his inaction tonight has forced me to reconsider his position relative to that of his brother.  Ramsay’s the only one of you who has met even the lowest of my expectations.  Domeric, I –” 

“Yes, father?  I can handle the boy!  And I won’t spend the whole damn night clutching my belly and whining about how hungry I am like that disrespectful little cunt either.” 

“You should really start addressing our beloved father as ‘sir.’  After all, you’re plainly a son to him in name only,” added Ramsay.  And what does that make you, bastard? 

“See that you do.  I am of a mind to give you and your sister one last chance to remind me why I ever thought either of you might amount to anything.  If you would prove your worth to me, I would advise you to resolve this situation without getting us all killed sometime within the next two minutes.”  For a moment, Arya and Domeric turned their heads and simply stared at each other. 
“You’ve already wasted 15 seconds, I think.” 

“Hello, little boy, my name is Domeric.  Why don’t you put down the lighter and come over here.  I have some candy for you.” 

“Can I rub your forehead if I do?” 


“Yes...you can rub it as much as you would like,” growled Domeric. 

“Wow!  Are you a leprechaun?  I heard that if you rub a leprechaun's forehead, he’ll give you a pot of lucky charms; I want mine without milk!” 

“NO!  Robin...don’t...don’t listen to him,” shouted Arya. 


“But his head is so shiny!”


“He’s a very...bad...bad man...I’m talking...talking like this because he...he hurt me.” 

“I fear the two of you only have 60 seconds left.” 

“You don’t really think I’d –” 

“Shut up, stupid shiny bad leprechaun man! 
You hurt my Not Mother; I hate you!”

“Robin...you can stay...stay still.  Just put your fire toy down and...I...I’ll come to you.” 

“But I don't –” 

“Do you care...care about me at all, Robin?” 


“Of course, I do; you’re my Not Mother.  I love you!” 


“You...you what?” 

“Thirty seconds.” 

“Never mind...feed now...no!  Father then food!  I mean...if that’s true then put the fire...fire flashlight down and stay still.” 


“Fine.  Wait, you can fly?  COOL!  I want –”  Before Robin even realized what was happening, Arya pinned him to the ground and sunk her fangs into his neck.  It took her less than ten seconds to drain every drop of blood from the boy’s body.  This is all wrong; she was supposed to break his neck first. 

“If I’m not mistaken, that boy is the first living person that my dear sister has bitten,” said Ramsay. 

“You don’t have to remind me.” 

“I know, but it’s so much fun.  Now then, I do believe that means our family has just grown by two.  Just think, soon you’ll have a new grandson. 
Mayhaps the boy will fare better than all the others and he’ll still be here to keep you company two thousand years from now.” 

“Domeric, I’ve decided that I still hate your brother more than you.”  Suddenly, Arya bolted across the room and began tugging at Ramsay’s sleeve. 

“I have a son of my very own, just like father!”  You mean another mouth for me to feed, I think.  “What’s wrong?  Don’t you want to meet your nephew, Ramsay?  I already explained to Robin that Domeric is the family disappointment and that you’re his only responsible uncle.” 

“What did you just call me,” gasped the two Boltons in unison. 

“What do you mean?  I trust Ramsay and Domeric...well...you couldn’t even handle a small child, so I guess that makes you a disappointment, doesn’t it?  You lost father’s game fair and square.”  And I still hate all three of you just as much as ever.


“I...shut up!” 

“Don’t worry, Domeric, so long as you obey father and I in all things without question, you will find the rest of your days to be quite agreeable.  I have every expectation that you won’t need a sharp lesson to realize that I am in charge whenever father is not around.” 

“I’m going to...get back here!  Where do you think you’re going?  I’m talking to you!” 

“You are?  Hold on, let me check if I care.  Hmm...let’s see, nope, don’t care what you have to say.” 


“I’m talk –” 

“Still don’t care, blah, blah, blah.  Oh wait...never mind.  Sorry, for some reason I thought listening to you might be something other than a complete waste of time.  I don’t know what got into me.” 

“I think we’re going to get along just fine.” 


“Thank you, Ramsay, I...no, stay over there Robin; I’ll be done in a minute.” 


“Okaaaaay.  Look, mother, I can fly too!” 

“I see; that’s great, I’m talking to your uncle right now.” 

“Fine, but can you watch me fly afterward?” 

“Umm...sure, now go fly over there or something.” 

“Oww!” 

“You can’t fly through the ceiling!” 

“Yes, mother.” 

“Father, can we feed yet?  I’m getting hungry again,” Arya groaned.  Already?  You just...it matters not at all.  Mayhaps being in a state of constant hunger will make her more efficient.

“Will you and your...son stay away from me for the rest of the night if I say ‘yes?’” 

“You won’t even know we’re here!  I promise! 
We’ll be so quiet that –” 

“Yes, yes, I’m very good.  Go, all of you; we’ve wasted too much time already.” 


“What about you, father,” asked Domeric.

“That is not your concern; all you need worry about is figuring out a way to trick me into mistaking you for something other than a pile of deadwood our family has been forced to drag around over the years,” replied Lord Bolton, rubbing his forehead in frustration.  My children...  It took three failures and a half-witted grandson – to say nothing of Domeric and Ramsay’s dead children – to teach me that no good will ever come from creating others like me. 
I fear that I must needs suffer these four for the rest of time, else how will I ever remember to kill my food before I feast?

Chapter Text

“Rickon?  Rickon, where are you?  RICKON,” shouted Bran as he wandered down the street. Wait a minute...where am I?  I’ve never seen this part of Winter Falls before.  Shit!  Father’s gonna beat me like a drum if I come home without his precious, wonderful, adorable, lovable, perfect little Rickon.  Bran wearily scanned the streets for some trace of his brother.  Why are all the buildings boarded up?  Seven Hells!  How did we even get...are those leeches?  Gross!  I hate this stupid town!  Leeches live in the water; they shouldn’t be swarming across the street.

Okay, think...we were at...no, that wasn’t it.  We were looking for a place with a power outlet so Rickon could charge his cellphone.  Why?  Oh right, because Arya changed precious, wonderful, adorable, lovable, perfect little Rickon’s FaceBook status to something stupid before his phone died.   Wait a minute, wasn’t that little creep whose always following her around here too?  What was his name?  Merlin?  No, it was some sort of animal...oh right, Dolphin.  No, that’s not it.  Why can’t I remember anything?  Am I dead?  No, I wouldn’t be covered in cuts if that were what had happened.  Wait...I don’t remember that either.  A cold gust roared down the street; Bran shivered. 

Robin; that was the brat’s name!  I bet he got himself locked in a trunk again like that time he jumped in the trunk of father’s buick when he was playing hide-and-seek with Rickon.  I don’t understand why Arya’s so patient with him.  I know she hates how he’s always calling her his “Not Mother” and following her around everywhere, so why does she always get so angry whenever anyone mentions what an idiot he is?  Robin’s not our brother! 

I get why she doesn’t like people calling our cousin a retard...even if he is one, but that doesn’t mean anyone should tolerate his behavior. 
How is Robin ever going to learn not to do stupid shit like that if Arya stands right next to the trunk of the Buick for fifteen minutes just so she can reassure him that he’ll be alright until our father finds his key.  She should’ve just left him there until the trunk got unlocked; at least that way he might’ve actually learned something. 

Wait...that’s horrible.  Why am I so angry at my family?  I...I don’t hate my life...well...not all of it; I just hate this stupid city.  What’s going...everyone was so proud of Robin when Arya got him to finally stop wetting the bed.  I had a 4.00 GPA one year and no one cared except mother and she forgot all about it as soon as she remembered Sansa was bringing Joffrey over that night.  I hate them; I wish I never had to see them again.  No...no...I don’t!  I don’t hate anyone in my family except father and mother hates Joffrey too besides.  She also gave me $20.00 because she was so proud of my grades.  What’s wrong with me?

I’m always getting replaced, Bran fumed as he continued to wander down the sidewalk in search of his younger brother.  I was mother’s favorite child until Sansa started dating a Lannister, I was father’s favorite until I decide that I wanted to go to college and become a writer instead of enlisting in the army, and I was Arya’s favorite sibling until our stupid cousin moved in.  Even Summer has started sleeping in Rickon’s stupid room. 

Damn it, I have to be someone’s favorite, don’t I?  Am I really that boring and forgettable?  Bran spat at the sidewalk and continued searching for his brother. I hate this stupid town; I swear, it turned everyone except me into a complete asshole.  I can’t wait to get out of here!  Suddenly, some sort of strange black animal scuttled into the street and fell down dead at Bran’s feet. 

The second oldest son of Ned and Catelyn Stark looked down just in time to see at least twenty fat, wriggling leeches fell off of the dead rat.  Something inside of the dead animal began to move and a big, black leech forced its way out of the rat’s mouth.  Another one – smaller than the others – burrowed out of it’s belly.  Bran threw up and ran until he finally ended up somewhere that he recognized: Winter Falls’ cemetery; there was a little boy sitting in front of one of the graves.  Is that Rickon?  Seven Hells, what is he...no, wait...is that... 

“Robin, what are you doing here,” shouted Bran.  “Where’s Arya?  Have you seen Rickon?  Robin, why aren’t you...gross!  Did you dig up that body?  What’s the matter with you?”  There was a loud cracking sound as Robin’s head slowly did a 180 degree turn. 

“Look Bran!  I can make my head turn like Pizza did when he made the girl bad in the scary flying vomit movie. 
You know, the one where the girl stabbed her poop hole because her mother let the doctors to bad things to her neck,” replied Robin, shuddering. 

“Okay, I’m just going to stop you right there.  First, the movie is called The Exorcist and the demon was named Pazuzu, not ‘Pizza.’  Second, there’s no way mother, father, Arya, uncle Petyr, or your mother would ever –” 

“Arya is my mother.” 

“What are you talking about?  No, actually please don’t try to explain; my head hurts enough already.  All I know is that no one would ever let you watch that movie.” 

“Joffrey made me watch it at 1:00 in the morning after mother had gone to sleep. 
He said it was all real; mother said he was lying, but I guess not.”

“Of course he told you it was a documentary,” Bran grumbled. 

“Actually, Arya was my UnMother then; maybe she was always my mother too.  Bran, where do mothers come from?” 

“You mean babies?” 

“No, mothers.  They must come from somewhere because...wait!  Watch this,” shouted Robin as his head spun rapidly in a circle.   

“You and Arya are going to have to do better than that if you want to scare me.  That’s obviously not your real head and your skin’s not that pale besides.  Arya, I know you’re around here somewhere,” Bran shouted, “how did you make the mouth move like that?”

“You’ll see; just wait until mother comes,” Robin cheerfully replied.  Something was plainly very wrong, but Bran couldn’t bring himself to leave.  It was almost as though there was a second person living in his head who kept taking over whenever he got too uneasy.  No, that’s stupid.  Eventually, he finally forced himself to turn around and nearly had dropped dead in surprise right where he stood.  The road was gone and in its place was single dark, narrow alleyway.  Bran turned and saw that Robin and the cemetery were gone to...there was only a massive brick wall behind him now. 

“He used to be my brother; go find someone else,” said a voice that plainly belonged to the younger of Bran’s sisters.  The fuck is going on here? 

“Fuck off, I’m hungry!  Father made me first; that means you have to do what I say,” hissed a second voice.  Wait a minute...I get what’s going on here; I’m dreaming! 

“Father may’ve made you; but if you harm a single hair on Bran’s head, I will unmake you.” 

“It would take no more than a few seconds for me to kill you, I think.” 

“And what would Ramsay do to you then?  That’s what I thought.  He’d never let anyone hurt me...not really.  And that includes you, stupid.” 

“What Ramsay would do matters not at all.  I do not fear him in the least; I was merely unsure of how to respond to your foolishness.  The bastard –” 

“STOP CALLING HIM THAT!” 


“Ramsay cares for no one but himself, I think.” 

“If I ever want your opinion, I’ll just ask father to pick one for you.”

“Uncle Ramsay’s here too?” 

“Robin, your mother is busy right now.  Why don’t you chase after the moon some more; I think you almost caught it last time.”  This is the weirdest fucking dream I have ever had!

“Really?” 

“Yep.” 

“Cool!  I’ll get it for you this time! 
It’ll be the best present anyone got their mother ever; you’ll see!” 


“I’m sure it will be; that’s very sweet of you, Robin.” 

“Look at how bright and shiny it is; can I be a moon when I grow up?” 

“Yes, it is a very...umm...bright moon.”   


“What kind of retard wants to become a moon?” 

“He’s still smarter than you, idiot.  And you better not call him that again!” 

“Can I be one, mother?” 

“No, Robin.  I’m sorry, but that isn’t how it works.”  Robin?  Get out of my stupid dreams, you idiot!

“Well...I‘m going to change that someday! 
I’m going to be the first person to become a moon when they grow up, you’ll see!” 

“Yes, and mayhaps one day the little retard will also lead our...FUCK!  Stop biting me, you cunt!  I am not a bloody pin-cushion!” 

“I told you not to call my son that word again.  And it won’t even kill you, so stop being such a baby.  OWW!  Hey!  If you hit me again, I’ll –”

“Why do you care?  It won’t kill you, so stop being such a baby.” 

“Shut up!  Why am I still talking to you anyway, go away!  Bran’s mine and I found him first besides.”  Found him first?  What the hell?

“It matters not at all.  The Tyrell household is sound asleep and will make for much finer meal, I think.” 


“Whatever,” muttered Arya, emerging from the alleyway and looking her brother directly in the eye.  Her skin was near as pale as her cousin’s and her eyes were blue instead of grey. 

“What...I...I...” 


“Don’t try to think, Bran.  Thinking only makes things worse; it’ll be over soon.  In a minute, you’ll never have to bother that big brain of yours ever again.” 

“Soon?”  What’s going on?  Why am I drooling and moaning stupid one word...one...one...dreaming right now...no time...not time for thinking...back to sleep.

“Yes, very soon.  Come.  That’s it, one foot in front of the other.  You’re almost there; don’t stop until you are standing right in front of me.  Perfect!  Now stay right where you are and remember to keep looking me in the eye,” Arya gently whispered.  “Everyone in our family hates you except for Robin and me; you know that don’t you?” 

“They do?” 

“Of course, they do.  They never notice you, but I will,” the pale girl answered as she firmly held her brother’s face with both hands.    

“Everyone else hates me,” moaned Bran.


“That’s right.  I’ll give you a new family...a better one, but you have to ask first.  Stop trying to look away; it won’t work.” 

“But I...I don’t want...” 

“Shh...don’t worry.  Listen, I can’t make you think for yourself the way that Robin can, but I won’t make you act like some dumb animal like my brothers would’ve either.  I promise that I’ll make sure you keep as much of your personality as I remember...well...except the parts I don’t like.  You’re going to be much nicer to Robin from now on and you aren’t going to be so grumpy all the time either.  I’ll do some of your thinking for you too, but that won’t be so bad...not really.  It’ll be much better this way; you’ll see!  The rest of our old family will be there too.  It won’t be that different once you, mother, and everyone else is where they belong...not really.  I’m just...going to fix some things about each of you is all.” 

“I...but I...okay,” Bran groaned in a voice that was neither his own nor someone else’s even as he wanted nothing more than to attack the warped version of his sister that had been haunting this decidedly strange dream.

“And don’t worry, I won’t make you call me ‘master’ or anything stupid like that.  I don’t get why Ramsay makes people say that,” sighed Arya, rolling her eyes.  “‘Mother’ will serve, as father would say.  You’ll be my second son,” she added as two long, thin fangs forced her mouth open.  The moment his sister broke eye contact with him, Bran came out of his trance and shoved her back just before she could bite him. 

“Go away!”  “Go away?”  Really?  How can that possibly be the best I could come up with?  I know it’s just a dream, but... 

“Sorry about that, just look at –” 

“NO!” 

“Bran, in your new family no one will care that you’re gay.” 

“I’m not gay!  Why does everyone always think that? 
I just went through this with Rickon two months ago.” 

“You’re not?  Are you sure?  All of us always kind of assumed that you were...” 

“Am I...of course I’m sure!” 

“It’s okay if you are, you know.  I promise that I won’t think any less of –” 


“I’m not gay!” 


“Riiiiiight.” 


“I said I...am...not –” 

“Whatever.  Anyway –” 

“I HATE THIS STUPID DREAM!” 

“Dream?  This isn’t a dream...not really.  Well...it is and it isn’t.  Dreams are one of the easiest places to change someone...without turning them into an Other, I mean.”  Of course you’re an Other in this dream.  Sure.  Why not? 

“What does that even mean?” 

“Seven Hells, do I have explain every...listen, you’re over-thinking this. 
Just look straight into my eyes and –” 

“NO!  I hated how that felt!  It –” 

“I’m trying to make this easier for you, stupid.  It’s going to happen whether you like it or not.  Do you have any idea how much it’s going to hurt if you’re not distracted when I –”   

“And that’s another thing, this just a dream so in theory there’s nothing you could even do to hurt me right now.”

“You know what they say about theory and practice, don’t you,” asked the pale girl with a wicked grin.  “They’re the same in theory, but not in practice.”  Suddenly, Bran felt a sharp pain in his head and Arya vanished. 

...

When Bran opened his eyes, he was lying on the floor of McRayder’s and Rickon was looking at him with a mixture of concern, anger, and embarrassment. 

“Are you okay?” 

“Now what,” Bran groaned, rubbing his forehead.

“You fell asleep while I was charging my phone and then started sleepwalking until you walked right into the door...then you got up and did it a second time.” 

“Rickon.” 

“What?” 

“Can we just go home.” 

“But I want a new Shaggydog!” 


“Please?” 

“Fine.  What about Arya and Robin?  She said she left her cell at home and they might think something happened to us if we don’t let them know.” 

“Ugh...okay, we’ll go back to the stupid veterinarian’s office, but just for a little while.”

...

“It’s locked,” muttered Bran, tugging at the door handle.  What kind of veterinarian has a metal door on his office?  This place looks like a prison, not a veterinary clinic.  This better not be some sort of weird dream within a dream.  It was bad enough when Rickon dragged me to see Inception, the last thing I need is to live the plot of that stupid movie.  It was bad enough seeing it in theaters!  How can I be the only person who didn’t like that movie?

“I guess they left already.” 


“Hello?  Who’s there?  Someone dial 9-1-1!  Hurry, before he comes back,” shouted a voice from farther down the street.  As Bran and Rickon cautiously made their way towards the voice, they eventually realized who was speaking to them.

“Arya?” 

“Rickon?  Is that you?  Call the police, hurry!  I can’t...he attacked me and kidnapped Robin.  I can’t get up; I...I think my leg is broken.”  Rickon raced over to help his sister, but Bran stopped.  It was a strange thought and an absurd one at that, but the paleness of his sister’s skin gave him pause. 
Wait a minute, her eyes are...

“RICKON, stay away from her!  That thing...it...it’s not Arya,” shouted Bran; the pale creature gave him a cruel smile the moment Rickon turned his back on her.

“What are you talk –” 
Before Rickon could even finish his question, Arya – or whatever the pale monster was – leapt up from the ground, grabbed Rickon’s head with both hands, and sunk her teeth deep into his neck. 


“Help,” wheezed Rickon as his skin turned a pasty color.  By the time, the monster released him, the boy’s skin was as pale as death itself.  Bran wanted to help his brother or at least do...something, but found all he could do was run.  As he turned to look back at the brother he’d abandoned one last time, he saw the monster jerk it’s head out of Rickon’s neck.  As blood shot out of two wounds in the dying boy’s neck, a smaller creature bolted off the roof of the veterinary clinic and buried its teeth into Rickon’s throat as the thing calling itself "Arya" watched the carnage with a loving smile. 

“I can’t believe you’d just abandon your own brother,” the taller monster shouted.  “I always thought you were better than that; I’m very disappointed in you, Brandon.  I guess that’s just one more thing to fix when I get to you, isn’t it?  I’ll tell you what; I’m going to give you until the count of ten.  One.  Two.  Eight.  Nine.”  Bran ran faster than he’d ever run in his life.      

...

How could I just leave him there like that, Bran wondered bitterly as he raced toward his house as fast as his legs would carry him.  Rickon would’ve attacked the monster if it tried to hurt me.  He needed me and I ran away like a...no!  Rickon, he...he would’ve wanted me to run.  Right, run and get to safety.  He was doomed anyway, I...I was just doing what he would’ve wanted.  I...I had no choice!  Rickon wouldn’t want me to die too if I could save myself.  At least this way one of us still has a chance...

Wait...if that wasn’t Arya then I just abandoned Robin and her too.  I could still turn around and go warn them.  How would I even find her?  I should at least try; she wouldn’t go home until she’d found out whether I was alive and...and...wherever you are, Arya, I...I’m sorry.  I always cared about you more than anyone else in our family, but I just can’t!  I hope you and Robin make it home safely, but if you don’t, I can’t just throw my life away for the chance the two of you might still be alive.  For all I know, you and Robin were already dead when Rickon and I got there.  I’m so sorry, I just...what good would getting myself killed do anyway?  This way, I can still tell the rest of our family...not that anyone will listen.  Right, I didn’t abandon anyone; I just did what was best for...for......oh my God, I’m just as bad as the rest of my family! Bran was only three blocks away from his house when Robin shot down from the sky like a lightening bolt and landed right in front of him. 

“Mother says that I’m supposed to wait to eat more until after she’s already bitten you, so that I can still turn your mother into my daughter so she can be a good mother to my mother because even mothers need mothers, but I’m hungry. 
I want to eat NOW!” 

“Your grandmother can’t be your daughter.” 

“Why?” 


“Because that’s not how it works.” 

“Why?” 
I hate you; he may be one of those creatures now, but he’s too stupid to be anyone other than Robin.

“SHUT UP!” 

“Why?” 

“ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH!” 


“Mother’s very angry at you for running away instead of trying to save my son-brother.  You were bad, Bran, but she said to tell you that she forgives you...even though she also wants to hurt you lots and lots for what you did.” 

“I...I don’t believe...what happened to you?  Please, don’t...don’t hurt me! 
I...I...I can figure out a way to fix you somehow or –” 

“I want more food now!  Now!  Now!  Now!  I don’t care what mother says; I’m hungry!  You’re making my tummy rumble.” 

“Can’t someone else kill me. 
Please?” Where’s Joffrey when you need him? 

“I said...I...am...HUNGRY!”  Suddenly, there was a low growl and before Bran realized what was happening, a large white dog raced out of the woods and pinned Robin to the ground. 

“Ghost?”  The pale boy tried to hit the albino Siberian Husky towering over him, but the dog bit down into his left hand. 

“MOOOOOOOOOOOTHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER,” screamed Robin as tears poured down his cheeks.  A strange blue liquid dripped from his hand and turned to ice the moment it touched the ground.  Suddenly, a dark shape burst through the top window of the Mormont family’s house and rammed into Ghost from the side, knocking the dog off Robin.  The pale-skinned, blue-eyed boy stuck his thumb in his mouth and curled up into a ball as he watched his mother sink her teeth into Ghost’s belly.  The dog yelped in pain as the monster began slowly chewing through its belly.  If that...thing really is some sick version of Robin then that must be...

“ARYA, STOP!  You’re going to kill Ghost!  Please, he’s not hurting anyone.  You...you got him off of Robin.  Why are you making him suffer like this?  Don’t you remember Jon?  Please, Arya, I know you remember him!  He was so sad when Ghost ran away.  You don’t want to kill something that important to him, do you,” shouted Bran.  The creature jerked its head out of the wounded husky’s belly, turned, bore its fangs, and hissed at Bran.  However, it no longer had his sister’s face.  Instead, it looked almost identical to Regan McNeil’s face seconds before she vomited all over one of the priests in The Exorcist.  The monster growled and its face morphed back into Arya’s; her lips were drenched in blood...some of it dried – likely from one or more of the Mormonts – and some of it still wet. 

“I’m sorry you had to see that, Bran.  I’m not quite that angry at you; father says we shouldn’t show our normal faces except for when we’re really angry at someone.  I’m still very disappointed in you, but Rickon’s the one who is really pissed.  I don’t blame him for hating you...not really.  Anyway, since Robin can still make a child of his own, I figured out that I can still make children who aren’t completely mindless...even if none are quite as independent-minded as him.  Father won’t be happy about it at first, but he’ll come around; I know he will!  All I have to do is bite someone and only drink half of their blood.  Robin drinks the second half and...sorry, no time to finish explaining. 
Pay attention, Bran; this is what happens to people who try to hurt my family.” 

Without another word, Arya proceeded to slowly chew through ghost’s belly.  The dog gave one last wail of pain and then it stopped kicking save for the occasional twitch or two.  Ghost still whimpered as he lay in an ever-growing pool of blood, but his cries grew quieter and quieter. I can’t just run away!  Not now!  Ghost saved my life; I won’t abandon him!  I can’t!  Once the mutilated Siberian Husky had stopped moving completely, Arya turned to where her brother had been standing, but there was no one there. 

It’s just a dog!  It’s just a dog!  It’s just a...shit!  Fuck me!  I’m so dead, Bran thought to himself over and over again as he raced into his parents’ house and locked the door behind him.

Chapter Text

“Can we chase the food now,” asked Robin.  “My blood tastes weird and not good at all.”  Your blood...wait...Seven Hells! 

“Stop licking your hand!  That’s not normal blood; it’s very bad for you.  It’ll fry your brain if you drink too much.”  Of course, if a person drank it... 

“Fine,” the boy groaned.  “What about the dog’s blood? 
He was a mean, bad, and not very nice stupidhead and...and I want to eat him up.” 

“No, we don’t eat dogs.” 

“So can we gobble Brandon the running man up now?” 

“Hold on, Robin; give me a minute.  He’s here!  Him and...who are the rest of the people with him?  It doesn’t matter, HE’S HERE,” shouted Arya with sadistic delight, sniffing the air like a dog. 

“Who?” 

“Joffrey...and some other people too.  Follow me; there’s more food this way!” 


“Can we fly to them, mother?” 


“Hmm...I guess so, but only under one condition.” 


“What’s a condition?” 

“Race you there,” shouted Arya, ignoring her son’s question and charging high up into the sky. 


“HEY, NO FAIR!  WAIT FOR ME,” screamed Robin, trailing behind his mother.

...

They landed on the roof of a nearby building just in time to see Joffrey chasing a girl with a grocery bag over her head through the streets while waving around a switchblade.  Is that...oh my God, that poor little girl.  I don’t care what she looks like; I hate both of her stupid parents for making her wear that bag around all the time.  She’s probably a perfectly edible...I mean...nice girl.  Stop running around, the two of you are making me hungry!  Well...hungrier than I already was, at least.

“ROBIN!  Don’t even think about it!” 


“But I’m –” 

“I’ll call you when she’s ready.  And remember, you are not to bite Joffrey.” 

“But mother –” 

“No ‘buts,‘ Robin.  Sometimes your mother gets to do things for herself too.” 

“Okaaaaaay.  What should I do until you finish playing with the corn-headed bad man?  I already scratched myself eight times, so I can’t do it anymore until tomorrow night.”  What does that have to do with anything?

“You’re about to get a sister, did you know that?” 

“EWWW!  Girls have cooties!”  Deep breaths, Arya repeated to herself, face-palming.  You’re twelve years old, how do you still think cooties are real? 

“She does not have ‘cooties’ Robin, they don’t –” 

“You mean she’s a Transylvestite?”  Robin, you are my first son and before that you were like a brother to me...the only person I’ve ever had who was truly my own and no one else’s.  I love you more than anything else in the world and I always will, but you are the biggest idiot I have ever met in my entire life.  NO!  I’m his mother; I can’t think that way!  If I give up on him, how can I ever ask him to believe in himself?  He’ll get better, he’s just a bit...special is all.” 

“No, she is not a transvestite.  There’s no such thing as cooties.” 

“There isn’t?  You mean that’s not how people get cancer?” 

“No, sweetheart.  That is not how people get cancer,” replied Arya with a sigh.  Did I just call him “sweetheart?”  OH MY GOD!  I’m turning into my mother!  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  Please no!    

“Oh.  How come I don’t have a father?”  I don’t have time to explain asexual reproduction to you.  The food is getting away!

“I’ll be back soon, Robin.  I bet you can’t catch your shadow before I’m ready for –” 

“CAN SO!” 

“Prove it!” 

“I will!  Look at how stupid it is, mother; it isn’t even trying run away.  HEY!  How do you keep getting behind me? 
Get back here!” 

...

“I’ll gut you; you little *snort* cunt!  Do you hear me?  Let’s see you *snort* try to rat me out to your *snort* father once I’ve *snort* cut out your tongue, you *snort* cheese-eating fuck!  I’m going to *snort* cut that thing off your stupid *snort* face too!  Snitches get *snort* stiches, bitch,” screamed Joffrey. 

“Joffrey, come back!  You’ve punished that girl enough; Joff, please don’t...  At least kill the girl so she can’t testify.  Joff, please, be reasonable.  Children, I want you to split up and help me find your brother.”

“What if we get lost, mother,” asked Tommen. 

“It’s okay, no once cares about you, Tommen.  We have to find you’re brother before he gets himself arrested.  Joff!  Joff, come back!  What are you two looking at, go look for your brother right this minute!”  I’m going to kill you too, Arya decided as she soared over the three oblivious Lannisters.  When she finally found her target, she zipped down, snatched Shireen up from the ground, took the grocery bag off the girl’s face, and sunk her teeth into the girl’s neck. 
I’ve never done this with a girl before; I hope it works the same way... 

“The fuck was that,” exclaimed a voice from below.

...

By the time she landed on the rooftop, Shireen had begun twitching wildly and babbling as she entered a semi-conscious, delirious state.  Poor thing!  Don’t worry, no one will ever pick on you or make you hide who you are ever again; I’ll see to that personally.  Just leave Joffrey to me and you can go visit your old parents.  You’ll be my daughter, but you can also be the sister I should have had...one who would never bully me.  We’re not so different...not really.  I know what it’s like to have everyone in your family hate you.  But we have a new family now and I promise that things are going to be different from now on.  You’ll see!

“I only had a few drops, so you should have plenty of...Robin, stop chasing your shadow and finish draining your sister for me.” 

“Sis-sister?  B-b-b-blood and...s-s-sucking...thirsty...m-m-moth-mother.  I...where...but I don’t...I just...help me...what is –” 

“Shhh...it’s okay, Shireen, mother’s here.  You’re safe now; it will all be over soon.” 

“Sh-Shireen? 
Who...who is...don’t...I...I just...just –” 

“Your sister is suffering; come here and bite her this instant!” 

“But I almost caught my shadow; I’ve got him right where I want him this time!  He’s really sneaky, but I...oh wait...he got away again.” 

“NOW!” 

“Yes, mother.  Wait...why do I have to bite a stupid girl?” 

“Do you think I’m stupid?” 


“You’re a mother, not a girl, silly.  People are either boys, girls, or mothers; everyone knows that.” 


“What are you talking –” 

“FOOD,” shouted Robin, racing over to Shireen and draining every last drop of blood from her and the girl’s skin turned as pale as death itself.  Whatever.  Now it’s time for me to find something for me to...I know!  I’ll make that one come to me...somehow. It’ll be more fun that way, Arya decided as she watched Tommen anxiously wander the streets in search of his brother.  She dove down into a nearby alley and began screaming for help.

...

“Tommen?  Tommen, is that you?  Please, I’m hurt and –” 

“Who’s there?  Is that...mother, I found Arya.” 

“Who?” 

“I found Sansa’s sister!” 

“Tell someone who cares!  Joff?  Joffrey, I’m not mad.  Just come out and mommy will fix it.  It’s okay if you killed that girl; we don’t have to tell my father.  I’ll make it all better!  We’ll...Joff, please don’t do anything stupid.  Joffrey?” 

“Yes, mother,” Tommen grumbled as his mother ran across the street to see if Myrcella had found her favorite child. 

“Tommen?  I can’t see you.  I’m scared!  Please come closer, I...I can’t walk.  You’ll have to carry me.” 

“Myrcella, come quick it’s Sansa’s –” 

“Your mother, doesn’t pay attention to you either, does she?” 

“What?  Oh...umm...no, not really.  She loves Joffrey though.  Mother thinks he’s perfect.” 

“I know what that’s like.  My parents always loved Sansa best.  I have a new family now.” 

“A new...what are you...umm...talking about?” 

“There are no favorites in my family...not really.  Father, he...he loves all of us, even if he never admits it.  Well...except for Domeric, but he’s an idiot.” 

“Are you feeling alright?  You’re not making any sense.  Not that I mind...err...what I meant was –” 

“I always hated your brother, did you know that?” 

“I figured after he...I’m sorry for what he did to your dog.  I tried to tell mother that he was...uh...lying, but she didn’t believe me and...and...Joffrey, he killed Ser Pounce.”  I don’t care what you did, just come over here so that I can feed on you, you stupid talking blood bank.  I should just go over and...no, that’s not how the game works.  I have to make him come to me.  I have to talk him into getting close enough for me to bite him without looking him in the eye.  I just...need to keep pretending to care about what he’s saying is all.

“Ser Pounce?” 

“My kitten.  Joffrey stabbed him and he put the body in my pillow case.  Joffrey always liked killing animals.  I’m really not like him though; I hated how he’d treat you, your cousin Robin, your sister, and...well...me.  It made me really angry when he...umm...made fun of you that time your family came to our...our house.” 

“Why?” 

“Well...umm...I don’t know.  I just...I...uh...I mean...never mind, it’s s-stupid.  And you’ll probably be mad at me besides.” 

“How bad could it possibly be?  Listen, I never hated you...not really.” 

“Really?” 

“Nope, you’re nothing like your stupid brother.  You’re a very sweet boy, Tommen.  Sweet and tender...tender-hearted.  Tommen?  Tommen?  Helloooo?  TOMMEN!” 

“Huh?  I’m sorry...umm...what was I saying?” 

“Look, it’s not that I don’t love lying here injured at God knows what time of night while you stare at me and shake like an epileptic chipmunk, but could you maybe...you know...stop looking at me like that?”  Gross!  No.  No.  No.  No.  NO!  Seven Hells, he’s even blushing.  Why me?  I decided that I wanted to be a mother and the next day, Robin showed up at our door.  I wanted a family that noticed me and sure enough, I got a new family.  Now this weirdo apparently still has a crush on me.  I hate my stupid life!  Can’t someone normal like me for once?  I’d settle for normal-ish, Arya thought to herself sadly.

“What do you...CRAP...I mean...you stay here; I...umm...uh...I...I’ll go find help.  Myrcella will...will know what to d-do!  I’m sorry, I...I –” 

“Tommen, no!  Don’t leave me here all by myself; I was just kidding!  Please, I...I can’t feel my leg.”  This didn’t take near this long when I was playing with Bran and Rickon.

“Arya, my brother may’ve already attacked that poor girl.  I have to call the police; my mother won’t call for help...I know she won’t.  The girl could die if I don’t; I...I’ll tell them you’re here too.”  The police will all be dead in less than an hour, stupid. 

“Please, I’m really scared and I know you have to go, but it’s just...I feel safe when you’re around is all.”  I HATE this stupid game!  I hate it!  I hate it!  I hate it!  I’m never playing it with anyone ever again!

“Really?” 

“I...I think you scared away the man who attacked me.”

“I did?  But I didn’t see a...I mean...right, I scared him off.  You really meant what you said before?  About me making you feel safe?”  Yes, yes, yes, you’re very brave, now get over here!  You’re making me hungry, stupid. 

“You’d never let anyone hurt me would you?”  I feel unclean...

“No, but I –” 

“You came over here to help me.  Remember?  Please, come closer.  Just a little bit.  I want you to stay with me,” said Arya, forcing herself to resist the urge to throw up. It’s not fair!  This was supposed to be fun.  I wanted to torture him, not the other way around...

“Really?  No girl has ever...I mean...you do?” 

“Look, I understand if you think I’m weird or something and –” 

“No, it’s not like that at all.  You’re like the coolest girl who ever talked to me...well...the only one who has ever talked to me other than to ask me to introduce them to my brother and I...I mean...well, uh, I suppose I don’t have to go quite yet.  But...err...I’m only staying because that man you mentioned earlier could come back.  Just so we’re clear, that’s the only reason.  But if you...uh...ever wanted to hang out some time, my mother probably wouldn’t even notice if you wanted to sleep over at my house...when you’re feeling better of course.”  My skin doesn’t even look normal, idiot.  Wait...this better not be some sort of weird skin fetish or anything like that.  What did I do to deserve this?

“Right...umm...thanks, I...wait...you mean you’re inviting me?” 

“Yes, you can come anytime you want.” 

“I just might have to take you up on that one evening.  Can my family come too?  Father will want to at least meet your folks; you know how parents are.” 

“My Dad’s dead, but uh...sure...I guess they could come over.  Joff-Joffrey once s-s-said I was b-born when my...umm...when my mom and uncle had...had...when they...err...you know...umm...slept together, but he was probably just l-lying.  Listen can I...uh...I mean...is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable.  Until someone finds us, I mean.” 

“You’re just a little puppy dog, aren’t you?” 

“I am not!  Unless...wait...is that a good thing?” 

“Well...umm...there are worse things,” replied Arya weakly.  You could’ve been like your older brother... 

“Then I guess...I guess I am one...maybe...” 

“No ‘maybe’ about it.” Oh my God, you are the dumbest person I have ever met in either of my lives...well...except for that psycho who used to be Robin’s mother.  I hate her more than anyone else in this entire stupid town...even Joffrey.  She’ll pay for what she did to Robin...someday.

“Thanks,” exclaimed Tommen, beaming with pride.  Maybe this is what Hell is like...maybe.   “I...I don’t remember...you’re different.  You never talked like this before at school...to me or anyone else.” 

“That’s because I didn’t know how brave you were, stupid.” Kill me now!  In about ten seconds, I’m going to just get up drain you.  You win the stupid game, congratulations.  I can’t take this anymore!

“Brave.  Yeah, you’re right.  I’m brave!  Well...uh...I guess that’s just how I roll.  You know how it is, all in a day’s work.” 

“Sure.  Let’s go with that.  Oh for the love of...Tommen!”  I am NOT biting you there, idiot.  I will NEVER be that hungry!  We need to get your stupid blood back up to your neck where it belongs. 

“Yes?  Is something wrong, my Lady.” 

“Adjust your pants right this...wait...what did you just call me?” 

“I called you my...I mean...umm...nothing,” Tommen stammered as he franticly did as he was told. 

“Tommen, you seem like a really...umm...nice boy, but I swear on father’s life that if you ever call me ‘my Lady’ again, I’ll...I mean...it...it doesn’t matter.  Listen, I want you to come closer.  I’d feel so much better if I could hold your hand while we wait.”  What I wouldn’t give for a bone saw and blow-torch right now...  Where’s Ramsay when you need him?

“Are you sure?  You...umm...you sounded really angry and it was probably just the night playing tricks on me, but your teeth looked like they...umm...got a lot longer.” 

“My teeth were getting longer because I was mad at you?  You can’t be serious.” 

“You’re right, I was just...uh...kidding is all.  Yeah that’s it, I was just like totally kidding.”

“Of course you were, now I want you to look me directly in the eye when I’m talking to you.  No, look at me, not your feet.  Tommen, I’m over here.  Good, that’s better, isn’t it?  Now come over here.”  No game is worth enduring another second of this! 

“Arya, I...I feel...I f-f-feel...I...your teeth...I think –” 

“Shhhh...don’t worry about it.  You just keep following the sound of my voice and soon I’ll be doing all of your thinking for you,” Arya gently whispered as she switched to her true face.  Rats!  I was hoping I could projectile-vomit all over him before feeding, but I guess I just look like the possessed girl from that movie.  Oh well...at least father doesn't make me wear a grocery bag over my head.    

“You...you will do my...my think...my thinking for me.” 

“That’s right.  It will be so much better that way.  You’ll see; it’s all for the best!  You’ll be one of my cold children.  You’ll have mother who notices you and you’ll have brothers and sisters who will never bully you.  That’s not so bad, is it?  No, of course not.  Just keep looking into my eyes.  Closer.  Closer.  You’re almost there!  This will be my third time with a boy, but don’t worry, I’ll be gentle with you.  You won’t feel a thing...not really.” 

“Tommen, where are you going,” shouted Myrcella. 

“Sister calling,” Tommen groaned. 

“Don’t listen to her.  She doesn’t matter...not really.  Nothing matters right now except the sound of my voice.” 

“Your voice?” 

“That’s right.  Follow it, Tommen.  Good!  Keep looking me in the eye; we’re almost done.  Now bend over.  Just a little bit more...perfect!  Now lower your head a bit.  Good boy!  Now get down on your knees, Tommen.” 

“How f-f-far?” 

“All the way!  Please, I’m soooooo hungry.” FINALLY, Arya thought to herself as she sunk her fangs into the boy’s neck.

“What is that thing?  Get away from it NOW!  You could get catch something if it bites you,” shouted Myrcella.  You have no idea...

Chapter Text

Robin 

Where is mother?  I’m still hungry!  At least I can fly; I bet my stupid big-little sister can’t do that!  She’s just a...a...a poopy-headed fart-face.  I can fly just like Superman!  Well...I can’t shoot lasers, but I’m still better than the stupid not-bird Robin from not-a-bat Batman.  Those picture books are weird; there weren’t any animals in them.  Wolfman turns into a wolf, so why doesn’t Batman turn into a bat? 

I don’t need a stupid big-little sister!  Arya’s my mother!  Why does she need another kid anyway?  What’s wrong with me?  Uncle Petyr said he was going to leave me at an orphanage in another state if my old mother’s rat-killing powder didn’t make me go splat-a-tat-tat fast enough.  Wait...my old mother...Lysa, she must be my grand-aunt because she’s mother’s aunt. 

My aunt was the one with the bad rat powdered milk, so the hospital people took her away to mother school and I got a new mother.  Well...Arya was my Not Mother at first, but now she’s my mother.  She’s my mother forever and ever and ever.  Unless...  Does mother want a girl because she’s tired of me and wants to replace me?  NO!  She...she wouldn’t do that!  Mother is good, Robin decided as he glared at his big-little sister.  The girl had begun tossing and turning again. 

I liked our family better when it was just mother and me.  Well...Uncle Ramsay, pop-pop, and the shiny-headed Lepercon-artist are also part of our family, but mother would never love any of them more than me, nope, nope, nope!  I wish...mother’s back!  And she...she brought...FOOD! Robin began drooling as he eyed the neck of the food that his mother had brought him.  It was some yellow-haired woman, but the food’s head had been twisted around so that its face was looking in the opposite direction. 

“Hello, mother! 
Can I eat now, I’m really –” 

“Robin, you just...how can such a small boy eat so much,” sighed Arya with a loving smile. 

“Do you need to eat first?” 

“Nope, I don’t want this one coming back.  And even if I did, apparently when I drain all of someone’s blood myself, they come back as some sort of weird, mindless animal like Tommen.  I think he’s eating his sister right now or something; he’s not one of us...not really.  Anyway, this is for your sister when she wakes up...if she comes back the way you did.” 

“What?  But...but I don’t want a –” 

“Robin, you’re getting a sister and that’s final! 
It doesn’t mean that I love you any less, I just...have to divide my time between the two of you is all.” 


“But –”  As if on cue, Robin’s big-little sister opened her pale, blue eyes. 

“Mother?  Is that...are you my...my mother,” asked Shireen wearily. 

“Yes, I am,” replied Arya, grinning.  She dropped the dead food, scooped her daughter up off the ground, and hugged the child tightly.  “I know your old parents treated you horribly, but I promise that things are going to be different from now on.  And I also promise that I will always love you, Shireen.” 
What about me? 

“Do I still have to wear a bag on my face?  I...I promise I didn’t mean to be born ugly, mother.  Please don’t be mad at me; I’ll find another –” 

“Nope.  In fact, I forbid you to wear a bag over your head ever again!  You’re perfect just the way you are, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  And I don’t care about how your face looks besides.  Your my daughter; that’s all that matters.  Your brother Robin and I will always love you, do you understand?”  I will?  But I hate her!  She’s trying steal you for herself!


“You...you really don’t care about the cancer?  But it’s so big and it...it screwed up my whole face.  Sorry about my vulgar language, mother.  I just...I meant to say that it messed up my whole face.  Please don’t hit me like my old mother did, I promise not to be –” 

“That’s cancer?  And your mother beat you for...Seven Hells...you poor thing!  I’d never, ever hit you.  And I don’t care about how your cancer made your face look; it can’t hurt you anymore either.” 

“My old mother used to hit me with a belt for being so ugly.  She used an aluminum baseball bat too once, but she stopped because it made my face even uglier.  My father didn’t like it, but he never did anything about it either.” 

“That settles it! 
You have my permission to kill both of them tonight...or I could do it for you, if you’d like.” 

“I’ll kill them both dead; thank you so much, mother.  I already feel...I feel like the Seven sent you for me.  Is...is there anything that I can do to make your life easier?”  Wait...why didn’t I think of asking her that?  This is terrible and not good at all! 

“I...umm...thank you; that’s...that’s very sweet of you.  Let’s see...well...I guess you could watch Robin for me while I go play with this asshole I used to know.  You’ll just...need to be patient with your brother sometimes is all. 
There’s some food for you right here,” answered Arya, gesturing at Cersei Lannister’s corpse. 

“I’d be more than happy to watch Robin for you, ” Shireen cheerfully replied, giving her mother a wide-eyed smile.  I’m older than...well...I used to be younger, but I’m older than her now!  I should be the one in charge when mother’s not here, Robin fumed. I can be respon...umm...I know this word...respon...I can do grown-up stuff too!  I hate having a sister already!

“Are you sure?  You just woke up and –” 

“Don’t worry about us, mother; we’ll be fine.  You just go and have a good time doing whatever you’re going to do to my former cousin.” 

“I...I don’t know.  Maybe...Robin, why don’t you just come with me.  Thank you for –”  HA! 
Mother still likes me better than you. 

“Excuse me, mother.” 

“What’s up?” 

“If you will pardon the momentary interruption, I’m concerned about the message that would be sending to my dear brother.  I only say that because you...umm...you deserve time to yourself too and Robin will never become independent if you bring him with you everywhere.” 

“I...I guess you’re right,” sighed Arya.  “I never thought about it that way before...not really.  I’ll just...miss him is all.  Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have some time to myself...maybe. 
That wouldn’t be so bad –” 

“No, of course it wouldn’t.  My brother and I are both so lucky to have such a caring and wonderful mother, aren’t we, Robert?” 

“That’s not my stupid name,” shouted Robin. 

“Thank you, Shireen, I really appreciate it.  I’m lucky to have the two of you too.  I...wait..there’s Joffrey!  I’ll be back soon, Robin,” shouted Arya as she zipped off the roof.  Shireen drained every drop of blood from Cersei’s corpse within seconds and raced over to her brother.  Before Robin could tell her to go away, his big-little sister hugged him so tightly that he could barely make a sound. 

“Hello, Robin; my name is Shireen.  Let’s be BEST friends!” 

“Too...too tight...” 

“I do hope so very much that we can get along.  Sibling rivalries are sooooooo stupid, don’t you think,” asked Shireen, ignoring her brother.  Her voice was pleasant and cheerful, but Robin could feel her fingernails digging into his back like ten small knives. 

“Hurting me,” wheezed Robin. 

“I agree, it can be quite hurtful when siblings fight.  We’re not going to fight, are we? 
I SAID ‘we’re not going to fight, are we?’”

“Let...let go...” 

“What do you say?”  I hate you!  I hate you! 
I hate you!


“Won’t fight...please...” 

“See how easy that was,” Shireen replied with a cheerfulness usually reserved for used car salesmen as she released her little-big brother. 

“I’m telling mother when she...when...when she gets...back. 
You...you hurt...hurt me, you...stupid...stupidhead,” gasped Robin as he struggled to catch his breath. 

“Why whatever do you mean, dear brother?  You were the one who attacked me, remember?  I was soooo very frightened, but I knew you didn’t mean it...not really.  You’re just...special is all.” 

“What?  I did not!  And stop talking like moth...wait...what are you doing?”  Shireen picked up a glass beer bottle from the roof and hit herself on the head with it so hard that blue blood began flowing down her head.  “Are you crazy? 
Mother said alcohol won’t be safe for me to drink until I’m older than she is whenever I drink it.” 

“Tell me, Christopher Robin –” 

“That’s not my name!” 

“Please don’t yell it me; it’s very hurtful. 
Words have power too, sweet Robin.” 

“Good; I hate you!” 

“I’m sorry to hear that; hate is an awfully strong word.  Anyway, I need to ask you something.  Which would you rather I tell mother when she gets back?  Option one: ‘Robin and I were playing and...and...I slipped and hit my head.  Robin was so sweet though; he ran riiiiight over and made sure I was okay.  Luckily, the glass only pierced my head instead of my heart.’  I could say that or –” 

“You’re a mean, old lying liar who lies.” 

“I could say that OR I could always say ‘I...I was t-t-trying to be n-nice to my...to my b-b-brother and *sniff* w-wanted to give *sniff* to give him a...give him a *sniff* hug...and...and he...he s-s-started yelling that you *sniff* liked him b-best and...and he *sniff* said...he s-s-said he was *sniff* go-going to...to k-kill me and *sniff* he...he hit me in the h-head...hit me with a...a b-b-beer bottle.  It was s-s-so s-scary!  Why does he *sniff* h-hate me s-so m-m-much, mother, I...I only w-wan-wanted to be f-friends.  It’s because...because of the c-c-cancer, isn’t it.  I...I should j-just k-k-kill mys-s-self,’” sobbed Shireen, tears flooded down her pale cheeks as if on cue.

“I DID NOT! 
That’s not true!” 

“I’m sad to say that mother simply won’t believe you.  And why should she?  I’d neeeeeever hurt my favorite brother in the whooooooole wide world,” replied Shireen with a bright-eyed, overly innocent smile. 

“Why are you trying to steal my mother?” 

“Because it’s just soooooooooo much fun to play with you, silly.  I know!  If you would like, we can try another game.  It’s called –”

“At least my face doesn’t look like a scrambled egg!” 

“What did...what did you say,” asked Shireen, grinding her teeth even as her smile grew wider and wider.  Before long, it made her look like a serial killer rather than an innocent little girl. 
Robin stuck his tongue out at his big-little sister as her face began to twitch with anger. 


“Listen, you little piece of...I mean...umm...d-dearest brother...adorable, ch-charming, s-s-s-sweet brother, you reaaaaally shouldn’t make fun of my condition.  When you do that, it hurts my feelings awful lot,” seethed the blue-eyed girl in a sickly sweet voice as she began to approach her big-little brother.  Robin opened his mouth to scream for his mother and closed it again.  Mother wouldn’t believe me; not at all, nope, nope, nope.  I’m scared...  “When you hurt my feelings, I get angry.  When you make me angry, I want to murder you just like those assholes who brought me into this God-damned world and that red-headed whore my old father was always screwing.  Do you hear me, you fucking fuck?” 

“But...but...you c-c-can’t hurt me.  Mother won’t let you,” Robin sniffled. 


“Not yet, but give it time.  Stay out of my way and we’ll get along juuuuussssst fine, but if you ever – and I mean EVER – try to come between mother and me, I will convince her to disown you so fast it’ll make your itsy-bitsy little bird-brained head spin.  Maybe....juuuuusssst maybe, she’d even let me kill you.  Wouldn’t that be sooooooo precious?  Just think, I could finger-paint with your blood.  She probably wouldn’t let me, but you can’t blame a girl for trying, right?” 


“I don’t like you; you’re a b-b-big meany and not nice at all either,” Robin snapped as tears began pouring down his cheeks. I won’t let her steal my mother!

“You want to know why I’m doing this, you cum-brained little twerp?  Listen up; I’m not doing this because I enjoy it.  Well...I do like the way you cry, but that’s not the main reason.  Hmm...I used to feel terrible whenever I hurt someone’s feelings, but this feels...really, really good; that’s strange...oh well.  I’m doing this to you because I am done!  I am sick of being everyone else’s God-damned fucking doormat.  All my life everyone treated me like horse-shit because of my stupid face.  I started telling people I had cancer instead of a facial deformity because at least no one beats you up if they think you have fucking cancer...well...no one except my cunt cousin, but mother’s gonna take care of Joffrey for me,” replied Shireen with a wicked grin as her voice grew angrier and angrier. 

“Joffrey?  You...you want to make the bad man fly too?  Well...I...I’m gonna make him fly for mother first; you’ll see!”

“Do my classmates care that I’m always nice, cheerful, and polite to everyone?  Of course not...but they’ll be sooorrrrrrrry!   Does it matter to my worthless, dipshit parents that I had a 4.0 GPA two years in a row?  Nope.  It’s always ‘Get the belt, you freak’ or ‘I’ll teach you not to leave your grocery bag at home; where’s your father’s baseball bat’ or ‘I wouldn’t let your mother abort you, what more do you want from me?’  Guess what, my old mother is NEVER going to hit me again!  And father...oh my sweet old father...don’t think he’s getting off just because he never hit me, no sir!  He could’ve stopped it when I called the police after the time with the baseball bat, but he took mother’s side.  I AM DONE!  DONE!  DONE!  FUCKING DONE!  I finally have a mother who loves me and doesn’t care how I look.  I...I don’t care if it meant she had to turn me into some sort of monster because everyone already treated me like one anyway.  I’ll give them their fucking monster, do you hear me, Robin?  I finally have a chance to be happy; I fucking deserve this.  And I will not let a retarded piece of dog-shit like you get in the way either.  If you or anyone else tries to ruin this for me, then I will fucking end you!  Got it, you snot-nosed brat,” screamed Shireen in a voice dripping with bitter hatred.  

“S-s-something’s wrong with your th-thinking brain?  Did...did your old mother give you bad rat powdered milk too,” asked Robin meekly.  Are all sisters like this?  It’s worse than I thought!  That can’t be it; mother would never do this to her brothers.  The bald uncle mother doesn’t like...Shireen reminds me of him.  She’s not shiny-headed though, Robin thought to himself sadly, already having forgotten his little-big sister’s rant. 

“Ahem.  I’m sooooooo sorry that you had to see me like that, darling brother.  I just get a liiiiiitle bit...emotional when people make fun of my facial features. 
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m kinda sensitive about it,” Shireen whispered in a voice as soft as silk. 

“You’re weird.” 

“Maybe I am, brother dear...maybe I am.  I really do hope we can be besties; I prefer being an only child, but I can be accommodating.  Just remember, I get our mother all to myself wheneeeeever I want.”  Robin opened his mouth to say an angry, naughty word, the c-one that their mother said never to call a woman, but Arya landed on the roof before he could.  She looked happier than Robin had ever seen her since she became his mother. 

“Hello, mother, did you have a good time,” asked Robin. 
Shireen shot him a death glare, plainly having intended to ask the same question. 

“I did...umm...thank you for asking.” 

“We did too, mother,” added Shireen. 
“Robin and I had a chance to get to know each other much better!”

...

Arya (fifteen minutes earlier)

Arya turned into a thick mist as she drifted behind Joffrey.  “WHERE ARE YOU?  You can *snort* hide, but you can’t *snort* run forever!  Dumb bitch,” grunted the blonde beast as he put away his switch-blade.

“Hello, Joffrey,” whispered Arya as she returned to a solid form.  Mayor Lannister’s grandson darted forward in surprise before even bothering to turn around.  Why would you do that?  Food runs!  Don’t you know anything? 

“What do you *snort* want?  I’m looking for a *snort* different *snort* cunt; get lost before I *snort* skin you instead.”  Arya’s lips curled into a cruel smile as she began levitating above the ground and slowly floating toward her prey.  This is going to be soooo much fun.  Joffrey is going to shit a brick when he sees that I can fly... 

“Yeah, yeah, nice *snort* trick.  Shouldn’t you be off *snort* making someone a *snort* sandwich or *snort* something?  Remember when I *snort* poisoned that stupid dog you were always *snort* bringing school because you’re too *snort* ugly to have any *snort* friends. What was that bitch’s *snort* name?  Narnia?” You are literally too stupid to scare.  Wait a minute, did you just call her ‘Narnia?’

“Her name was Nymeria.” 

“Right, that’s what I *snort* said.  Namibia *snort*.”  I hate you so much!

“Her name was...never mind.” 

“Piss off or I’ll *snort* do the same *snort* thing to *snort* Rickon.  No one *snort* believed you then and they *snort* won’t believe you this *snort* time either.  Do you hear me, you *snort* dumb bitch?”  Stay calm.  Deep breaths.  Don’t bite him; this will be so much more fun.  And I can always make him castrate himself and then slit his own throat when I’m done besides.  Arya opened her mouth and let her fangs swing forward.  Her open-mouthed smile grew even more as a large, dark stain spread across Joffrey’s pants. 

“Others are *snort* real?  And...and you’re a *snort*...SHIT!  Fuck me!  Shit!  *snort*  Shit!  Shit...I *snort*...I mean...I was just *snort*...umm...kidding.  You...you know I’d *snort* never hurt *snort* Necrophilia.”  Her name...was...NYMERIA! 

“Kidding?  You were just kidding when you poisoned my dog?  That’s really what you’re going with?  Seriously?”

“No, really...it *snort*...it was just supposed to be a *snort* f-f-funny prank *snort*.  In fact, I’ve *snort* always loved dogs; especially *snort* Nirvana.  I really *snort* do!  I loved *snort* sitting in her *snort* shit every time you *snort* dumped her *snort* poop-bags on the *snort* seat of my *snort* motorcycle.  Dogs...dogs love *snort* chocolate, everyone *snort* knows that.  How was I *snort* supposed to know that *snort* the stupid bitch would *snort*...I mean...I *snort*...no, please...don’t...d-d-don’t *snort* hurt me.  Please!  I’ll do any *snort* anything!” 

“Anything,” asked Arya with a wicked grin. 

“Anything,” said Joffrey as his attacker speared her right thumb on one of her fangs.  When she removed her hand from her mouth, blue blood began dripping from the wounded finger. 


“I am going to stick my thumb in you mouth.  I want you to keep sucking my blood out until I tell you to stop.  And you better swallow all off it or I’ll unman you.  If you do that, then maybe I won’t –”  Seven Hells!  Doesn’t he have any self-respect, Arya wondered as Joffrey practically threw himself at her right hand and began giving what could’ve easily been mistaken for the world’s most enthusiastic blow-job. 
Gross.  Gross.  Gross.  Just...just remember what Ramsay said.  My brother gave that man...Heke or whatever his name was...multiple personality disorder just by having him drink two drops of his blood.  Ramsay said the second personality was like his slave.  It had a weird name too.  Meek, Leak, Reek...something like that.  It’s been about thirty seconds; let’s see what two more minutes worth of my blood does to Joffrey...

Chapter Text

Shireen

“ROBIN BOLTON!  GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF YOUR NOSE RIGHT THIS MINUTE,” shouted Arya, wincing in disgust. Freak.

“Mother, why doesn’t fishing for green things in my nose taste good anymore?” 

“I don’t know; I mean...just don’t do that!  We’ve been over this before; it’s disgusting!  Wait...what happened to your sister?  Shireen?  What happened to your head?  Are you okay?  Did you fall or –” 

“I...I can’t say, mother.  I’m s-s-scared of him,” whimpered Shireen as tears began rolling down her pale cheeks. 

“Scared of who?  Who did this to you? 
Give me a name and I swear I’ll skin the monster alive,” Arya seethed.

“I...I was t-t-trying to be n-nice to my...to my b-b-brother and *sniff* w-wanted to give *sniff* to give him a...give him a *sniff* hug...and...and he...he s-s-started yelling that you *sniff* liked him b-best and...and he *sniff* said...he s-s-said he was *sniff* go-going to...to k-kill me and *sniff* he...he hit me in the h-head...hit me with a...a b-b-beer bottle.  It was s-s-so s-scary!  Why does he *sniff* h-hate me s-so m-m-much, mother, I...I only w-wan-wanted to be f-friends.  It’s because...because of the c-c-cancer, isn’t it?  I...I should j-just k-k-kill mys-s-self.”


“I DID NOT!  She did it to herself, mother.  Honest and for truly!  Please, I was good.  Good!  Good!  Good!  I don’t want to be f-f-finger-paint.  I wish, I wish I was a fish so that I could s-s-swim away.  I just want food and...and...and...I want my MOOOOOOOOOOOM.  Arya’s my...my m-m-muh-mother.  Go g-g-get your own; you c-can’t have her,” sobbed Robin. 

“Robin, I love both of you; this isn’t a stupid competition.  Shhh...it’s okay, I’m here now.  It’s just your sister, you don’t need to be afraid...not really.  Shhhh...”  No!  You’re supposed to hug me, not him!  What...what about me?   I am going to make a chair out of Robin's bones! 
I...I’ll sodomize that little shit with a blow-torch! 

“B-b-but mother *sniff*, why aren’t you...I’m hurt and...and...don’t you *sniff* love me anymore?*sniff*” 

“I still love you, I’m just...very disappointed in you is all.  Mothers know their children and I know my son would never hit someone with a beer bottle.  Maybe he’d push you off the roof...maybe, but he’d never hit –”  Shireen bolted toward her mother and hugged her as tightly as she could. 

“I’m sorry, I tried to get Robin in t-t-trouble, mother, I just *sniff* I just...I *sniff* never had anyone who *sniff* love...loved me b-be-before and *sniff* and I...I was just afraid you...you w-w-wouldn’t *sniff* love me any...anymore if I...I didn’t *sniff* do that because Robin’s perfect and...and...” 

“Shireen, I will always love you, but if you ever do anything like that again, I’ll...I mean...umm...you can let go of me now.  Shireen?  Helloooooo?  Shireen?  Are you okay?  I said I will always love you; please stop crying.  Listen, it...umm...it’s not that bad...not really.  I...I’m sorry if I didn’t make you feel like part of our family before.  I...I didn’t mean to snap at you, I just...l just love Robin too is all.  Please stop crying, I -”

“Mother likes me best, you mean, old stupidhead,” Robin sneered. 

“I better not hear you speak to your sister that way again!  What she did was wrong, but the poor girl only did it because she’s terrified that she’ll lose the first person who ever cared about her.  She didn’t mean it...not really.  Shhhh...come here,” Arya gently whispered, letting go of Robin and hugging Shireen tightly.  HA!  I WIN! 
Suck my vaginal cock, you shit-brained termite!

“MOTHER!  She’s doing it again!  Hey!  Why are you hugging Shireen? She was being bad!  She hit herself and lied about it.  Liar, no lying!  Liar, no lying!  Liar, no lying!  Why isn’t it working?  Did I do it wrong or does it only work on foxes?  Do you have to be a Mexican witchdoctor?  Can I have a talking monkey too, mother?”  Mother is hugging me because I am better than you, dear brother.  I’m smarter than you, I m a better actress than you, I’m more deserving of our mother than you in every way, and soon she’ll realize that she only has time for one child.  She’ll choose me; not you, me!  ME!  ME!  ME!  ME!  ME!  ME!  Then when I convince her to let me kill you...no, that might backfire. 

I know!  I’ll make it like Lion King!  Just you wait, Mr. “I’m going to tattle on my sister like a whiny, little bitch;” when I’m through with our mother, she’s going to tell you to run far, far away and never return.  I am going to get you banished from our family forever, you retarded little cockroach.

“You...you all w-w-would *sniff* all be b-b-better off...better off with *sniff* without me.  I...I s-s-should just *sniff* kill my-myself.  I’m an ugly f-f-freak and *sniff* and...and no...no one w-w-will ever *sniff* love m-m-me.  My...my old m-moth-mother was *sniff* right!” 


“That’s not true; don’t ever talk about yourself that way, Shireen!  I promise that I will always love you, no matter what.  I know you only lied because you were afraid, and I forgive you besides.  Robin does too.” 

“He...he does?” 

“Of course, he does.  Don’t you, Robin?  I SAID ‘don’t you, Robin?’” 

“He *sniff* he probably h-h-hates me f-f-for-forever n-now *sniff* because of w-what I *sniff* did.” 

“I hope you die!” 

“ROBIN!  What the Seven Hells is wrong with you?” 

“Sh-she is just trying to steal you, mother.  I can’t get a third mother; she...she might be bad like the one who went to mother school.  Please don’t give me away!”  A look of complete exhaustion spread across Arya’s face.  That’s right, blame him! 
Everything is that stupid beak-nosed brat’s fault! 

“If the two of you really love me, you’ll start looking out for each other instead of fighting like this all the time.  I don’t belong to anyone.  You’re my children and I love you, but I am going to lose my mind if you don’t stop fighting over me like this.  Rickon won’t even let me anywhere near him; apparently it’s too embarrassing to be seen in public with his own stupid mother.  It’s not like I created him or anything,” Arya muttered, rolling her eyes.  Wait...I have a second brother?  FUCK!  FUCK!  FUCK!  FUCK!  I don’t know who the hell you think you are, Rickon...well...I really don’t know who you are, but Arya is MY mother! 

“Who...who is Rickon?  Do I *sniff* have another b-brother who might...who might want to be f-f-friends?” 

“Yes...I mean...listen, I promise I’ll find a way to give you both an equal amount of attention.  I just...let’s see...I know!  Shireen, you can do whatever you want tonight; I trust you to be responsible.  You can even make a child of your own if you’d like.” 

“Fiiiiiiiine. 
Do you want a grandson or a granddaughter?” 

“Surprise me,” Arya cheerfully replied.  “Robin?” 

“Yes, mother?” 

“You and I are going to go to your old family’s house.  We’ll spend the whole night together, just the two us.”  WHAT?  “Then tomorrow night, I’m going to have uncle Ramsay babysit you while I spend the night with your sister.”  Who is uncle Ramsay? 
Some stupid sugar-cunt like Robin? 

“NO FAIR!  HEY!  STOP COPYING ME,” shouted both children in unison.  Arya’s pale, blue eyes nearly popped out of their sockets in frustration and she began grinding her teeth.  Mayhaps that was a mistake...

“You know what mother?  If it will make you happy; then I’ll find a way to make it work.  You don’t need us making your life any more difficult than it already is,” replied Shireen, giving her most innocent smile. 

“Thank you, I really appreciate it.  I promise I’ll make it up to you tomorrow night.” 
The moment Arya turned her head, Shireen stuck her tongue out at her dad-brother. 

“HEY!  Shireen’s being a...I mean...umm...wait...I can be good too, mother.  Hold on...I think I accidentally tied all four of my shoelaces together while you were talking.”  Is he...is Robin pretending to be retarded to get sympathy?  Why didn’t I think of that?  No, no, he doesn’t have the patience for method acting, most like. 

“Robin?” 

“Yes, mother.” 

“You don’t need to worry about being replaced.  No one could ever replace you and you’ll always be my firstborn besides.  Do you understand?”  This is going to be harder than I thought...

“Mother, if I’m nimble and quick, does that mean that I can jump over a candlestick?  My name isn’t ‘Jack,’ but Joffrey once told me that there was a kid named Jack who could fly after he ate glue and that it might work if I did it too.  I drank six bottles of glue before you caught me.  Do you remember when I drank all that glue, mother?  I drank it and now I can fly even though my name isn’t ‘Jack!’” 

“I don’t remember how much glue you drank or what kind...not really.  All I remember is how scared I was until Bran realized that it was non-toxic glue,” sighed Arya.  She gave her first son a sad, loving smile, walked over to him, and mussed his hair.  “Don’t do that to me ever again; I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to you.” 


“Mother?” 


“Yes?”

“Is it called Elmer’s glue because it is made by Elmer the Fudd?  Is that what he does when he’s not hunting rabbits and ducks?”  HOW THE FUCK IS THIS MORON GIVING ME COMPETITION?

...

Petyr

Seven Hells!  What are you doing now, Lysa, Petyr wondered as he felt something wet dripping onto his neck.  Bloody madwoman...they should’ve killed you by now.  It’s the middle of the night and...  Mr. Baelish nearly dropped dead in shock when he opened his eyes to find his pale-skinned, blue-eyed stepson hovering right above his neck.  The window was wide open, but this had plainly been done very recently as the cool night air was just beginning to creep into the room. 

Did...did he just drool on me?  They didn’t say anything about biting him when they broke into Cat’s house.  They can have him, I suppose, but they were only supposed to kill Ned.  I sought out that old fool of a doctor and invited Lord Bolton here with the understanding that he would kill Ned and Lysa.  They’d make it look like the work of a serial killer, feast upon whomever he wished outside of those living in Cat and my houses, and then leave after one night.  Cat would naturally turn to me for comfort and then...wait...why is he drooling?  That double-crossing bastard!  They...they can’t hurt me; this is just an empty threat.  They need my invitation to stay in Winter Falls.  If that...that...thing gets any closer, I’ll withdraw my invitation.  And there are more of them?  First it was only Lord Bolton, then it was Lord Bolton and his two sons, and now Robin is one of them too?  I like this not at all...

“NO, ROBIN!  I don’t want Littlefinger’s blood in our family,” snapped a second voice.  Littlefinger?  Only...only my kin know about Edmure’s nickname for me.  Edmure...the soft-headed fool should’ve been born a Stark.  That little shit always bullied me when I was a boy and tried to laugh it off later.  Everyone always laughed at me as a boy...back when I was a scrawny, weak little boy.  Edmure even went so far as to say that a boy as little as me must have an even smaller finger. 

How dare he talk to me that way!  I am Petyr Baelish; he is just some squirt of cum from his father’s stones.  No one talks to me that way and gets away with it!  NO ONE!  I can wait years, but I will have my revenge.  He’ll see...they’ll all see!  Everyone who ever mocked me!  They’ll all pay with their lives while Cat and I live in a nice and cozy house by the sea.  No, not a house...a gated mansion.  We’ll send the boys to military school and the girls to some boarding school in another state.  Sansa and the other one...the little rat who threw a turkey leg at me for calling Robin a “retard.”  Cat will soon be mine, so I have no further need for a spare and...focus!  I must needs keep my mind on the task at hand: getting these things out of my bloody house. 

“What does your master want?  Go on, out with it!  Some of us are normally asleep at this time of night,” hissed Petyr, hiding his anxiety behind a wall of feigned indifference.  “And get away from my damn bed; you’re too close!” 

“How dare you talk to my son that way!  You of all people, you...you...you have no right,”  growled the second voice as Robin gloomily floated away.  When Petyr saw who the second voice belonged to, he nearly emptied his bowls in surprise.  They weren’t supposed to bite any of her children.  Wait a minute, if one of those things visited the Starks... 

“DID HE BITE MY CAT,” screamed Petyr, pulling the blanket over his neck. 
He glared at the thing that used to be his niece – taking care not to look it directly in the eye while never taking his eyes off it – and shuddered. 

“No one has bitten my mother, but Robin and I will later tonight.  I want...I need a mother.  MY mother.  I won’t hurt her though...not really.  I’ll just...have to make a few adjustments is all.”  This is getting out of hand.  I...I was...I was supposed to be able to control them.  They need me!  They can’t stay here without my invitation.  I’ll find another way; this has gone too far already. 

“I rescind your...your father’s invitation,”  Arya blinked in surprise, tilted her head, and silently studied at her former uncle-by-marriage.  Her lips twisted into a cruel smile and she began to laugh.  What?  The two of you should be howling in pain and jumping out the window.  I even tested it by briefly rescinding Lord Bolton’s invitation when he first arrived.  Dr. Qyburn threatened to shoot me in the eye with his taser if I ever did that again.  If they don’t need an invitation to stay here then that means they don’t need...I’m a dead man!  That brat always hated me for calling my stepson a “retard.”  Why did it have to be her?  Mayhaps I could’ve reasoned with the...err...others, but this one?  I wouldn’t be surprised if the shrew wanted to kill me well before she was bitten.

The one by the window calls Robin – or whatever that thing is calling itself now – her son because she bit him first, most like.  I wonder if she’s realized Rain Man’s single talent; the little monster knows more about technology than anyone I’ve ever met.  He could’ve been the head of some Silicon Valley start-up if he weren’t such a bloody idiot.  Robin even built me a new laptop once; I might’ve even been impressed if he didn’t break it by trying to use it as a scale the moment he finished showing it to me.  Even so, what could Arya have seen in Robin to have indulged him so often during the years he spent in the Stark household?  The two were practically inseparable, Petyr recalled with a shiver.  The window was still wide open and the room temperature had plumeted although Mr. Baelish could not say whether this was due to the Others’ presence or the bitter winds of winter.

Mayhaps I could’ve even overlooked Robin’s faults had he not helped turn Cat against me.  The little shit told her about the time I tricked him into crawling into the dryer, duct-taped it shut, and left it on for two hours.  She never looked at me the same way after that...

The brat called me a “stupidhead;” what was I supposed to do?  That empty-headed gargoyle – a moron whose single greatest achievement in life is crawling out of Lysa’s cunt – claimed to be smarter than me!  I am the smartest man in the whole bloody state.  I was once the general counsel for Goldman Sachs; I was one of the highest paid in-house lawyers in the country until I resigned and moved to Winter Falls to be near Cat.  By what right does that little beast insult my intelligence?  I had good reason to put rat poison in his food; even Lysa understood that.  Why else would she let me do it and then agree to take the blame? 

I will never understand what could possibly make that lunatic think that I will ever love her.  The only reason that I married the bloody madwoman in the first place was that it would offer me more opportunities to see her sister.  I deserve Cat; she may have strayed by marrying Ned, but I know she’ll see the error of her ways once he’s dead and buried.  She’ll come crawling to me, begging for my forgiveness and longing for the warmth of my embrace.  She shall have it and it will please Cat so much that she won’t care where I sent her wretched children.  That is our destiny and nothing can change a person’s destiny.

“Did not-uncle Petyr make a funny?  Did he....OWW,” yelped Robin as he flew directly into the ceiling, snapping Petyr out of his late-night daydream.  At least I never walked into a wall; who’s the ‘stupidhead’ now?

“Robin...umm...why are you flying in a circle around the ceiling lights,” asked Arya, plainly dreading the answer. 


“The glowing lights are so bright and shiny up close.  They doesn’t have any hair either...just like uncle Domeric’s head.  Can I rub them, mother?  Are they leprechaun seeds?” 

“No, they’re lightbulbs. 
And you can’t rub them either, they –” 

“But moooooooooother, I wanna rub the –” 

“No means no, Robin!” 


“Yes, mother.  Did not-uncle Petyr make a good funny?  Can I laugh too?”  I am surrounded by idiots.  How do they always find me?  I should be the bloody President, not hiding under the covers while listening to a supernatural parenting session.  These two are near as irritating as Others as they were when they were people.

“Yes, and his name is ‘Littlefinger,’ not ‘Petyr.’” 

“Why?” 

“Because his foster-brother said he has a very small...umm...actually I’ll explain it when you’re older.” I am going to kill each and every one of you.  Others and humans alike, Petyr silently seethed. No one in this town will be spared except for my Cat. 

“Oh.  Why is Littlefinger grinding his teeth like that?” 

“Littlefinger’s wife scooped his brain out, most like.  I’m soooooooo sorry Littlefinger, I didn’t realize that you were mentally handicapped.  Don’t worry, I will speeeeak veeeeeeeeeeeery slooooooooooooooowly.  Doooooooo  yooou  unnnndeeeeerstaaaaaaand?  Shhhhooould I uuuuuuse smaaaaaller wooooorrrrrrrds?”

“Do the funny voice again, mother!  Do it again and again and again, pleaaaaaaaase,” begged Robin.  Instead, Arya smiled, glided up to her so-called son, and hugged him. 
When two Others finally released each other, Arya looked down at Mr. Baelish as though he were a piece of gum stuck to her shoe.

“You shouldn’t have done that, Littlefinger.” 

“Stop calling me that!” 

“I didn’t call you ‘that,’ Littlefinger; I called you ‘Littlefinger.’  Your name is ‘Littlefinger,’ isn’t it, Littlefinger.”  Petyr ground his teeth and silently cursed the flying abomination.  “We don’t need your invitation anymore; someone else invited my family and I over to his house.  I have a feeling that Tommen won’t be uninviting us anytime soon either,” replied Arya with a wicked grin.  “It doesn’t matter...not really.  Your wife invited Robin into the house, he invited me in as soon as she left to go grocery shopping...probably off to buy more rat poison, and now I am going to break your neck.  Any last words?”  Petyr opened his mouth, but his words were buried beneath the noise of garage door opening. 

“MOTHER’S HERE!  She must have graduated from mother school,” shouted Robin, bolting out of the room. 

“But...but I’m your mother, not her,” Arya sadly whispered.  Her voice was distant and flat – as though she were in a trance – and her face had the lonely look of a woman who’d lost everything that gave her life meaning.  Petyr carefully got out of bed and began creeping toward the doorway as Arya’s pale, blue eyes grew watery and she stopped trying to hold back her tears. 

“I’m the only...the only one who was always...always there for you.  You were...you were like a...like a little brother before you were my...my son.  Even then you were my fav-favorite sibling once J-J-Jon left.  Lysa, she...she never loved you...not really.  She tried to hurt...she tried...Robin always called me ‘mother’ after I created him,” Arya sobbed to no one in particular.  “I can’t lose him; not to her!  I won’t...HEY!  Where do you think you’re going?”  Damn it!  I was so close... 

“Clearly you and your...umm...son need some time alone with my wife and I just thought I’d get out of your –” 

“You are so full of shit that I can smell it all the way up here.” 

“Look, mother, I can fly now,” hollered an excited voice from downstairs...followed by an ear-piercing scream.  Please don’t bite Lysa!  Please don’t bite Lysa! 
She’ll bite me and then I’ll be stuck with her forever.

“Robin, he...he called her ‘mother?’  But I’m his mother, not Lysa.  Why would he do that unless...  Is this how Robin felt when I created Shireen and Rickon?  Doesn’t he know that no one could ever replace him?  I may not have been his first mother, but I’ll always love him.  Doesn’t he feel the same –” 

“I changed my mind; I’m a terrible person and I deserve to die.  Please snap my neck; hurry...before Lysa finds me!  I’m begging you, Arya...or whoever you are, you don’t know what she’s like,” moaned Petyr. 

“Huh.  What are you...go away, I don’t have time for you right now.  Listen, if you leave Winter Falls before tomorrow night and never come back then I won’t kill you.  Happy?” 

“But she’ll still find me and...please, j-just kill me,” sobbed Mr. Baelish.  “I’m begging you.  Wait...umm...I...I was the one who really poisoned –” 

“I DON’T HAVE TIME,” screamed Arya, flying out of the room. 

“Wait! 
COME BACK,” shouted Petyr. 

“GET AWAY FROM MY SON, YOU MONSTER!  YOUR SON?  HOW DARE YOU CALL ROBIN YOUR SON,” roared two voices from downstairs, screaming in unison.  It’s no use; I’ll never be able to kill myself, but I don’t deserve to be stuck with Lysa forever.  I belong with Cat!  Wait...Lysa doesn’t have a key to the panic room, Petyr realized and raced out of his bedroom.

Chapter Text

Arya’s pale, blue eyes burned with rage as she studied the horrible monster that had quickly become her nemesis.  Lysa’s right hand was slowly creeping toward a kitchen knife set, but Arya wasn’t afraid; her left hand was clutching a necklace with a golden seven-pointed star on it.  I’ll kill her!  Lysa, she...she’s worse than Joffrey and I won’t let her steal Robin from me.  The state even said she couldn’t be Robin’s stupid mother because she was slipping him small doses of rat poison so people would notice her...or something like that.  And she’s not even the same species as Robin besides.  How could she possibly someone’s mother when they’re a different species?  It doesn’t even make any sense. 

Robin has to know that I’m his mother and he knows how much I love him besides.  He...he’d never try to replace me, Arya told herself, hoping that it was true more than she’d ever hoped for anything in either of her lives.  Her eyes grew watery, but she wiped them on her left sleeve before Lysa or Robin noticed.  Even before he became my son, I let him follow me around everywhere even though everyone always made fun of me for it, I stood up for him whenever anyone made fun of him even though it once got me beaten up by some older kids, and I let him sleep on the floor of my room when he had nightmares even after he wet himself in there...twice. 

Mother said I should’ve known better the second time, but what was I supposed to do?  I...I couldn’t just let him cry himself to sleep in the middle of the hallway.  Robin was so scared and he didn’t even know any better besides.  It’s not his fault...not really.  He’s just...special is all.  How was he ever supposed to get better without a loving family?  Mother adopted him, but she never wanted him...not really.  She only did it to get back at fath...I mean...Ned for making her pretend Jon was her son.  No one else ever cared about Robin, not really.  He was just my brother until tonight and I was still more of a mother to him every day than Lysa had been in her stupid life.  I even had to potty train him because his so-called mother never bothered to do it.  What did Lysa ever do for him?  Oh right, she tried to murder him.  I won’t let her hurt Robin ever again!  Never! Arya’s anger melted away and a loving smile spread across her face as she watched her eldest son glide aimlessly around the kitchen. 

“Look at me, mother; I can fly inside too!” 

“Not now, Robin.”   


“That’s okay, Lysa; I was talking to Arya.”  But then...that means...Robin still knows that I’m his mother!  He wasn’t trying to replace me after all!  There was never anything to worry about...not really.

“I know you can, Robin.  I’m very proud of you,” Arya replied, smirking at her former aunt and giving her son a thumbs-up. 

“Really?” 

“Of course, I am.  I’ll always be proud of you, I just...don’t like what you do sometimes is all.  Robin, do you...I mean...you know how much I love you, don’t you?” 


“I love you too, mother!”

“SHE’S NOT YOUR MOTHER,” screeched a shrill, angry voice from across the room.  Arya’s smile grew even wider when she saw the murderous rage oozing from her former aunt’s face like slime from a slug.  Robin knows that I’m his real mother, stupid.

”If it weren’t for you; I wouldn’t have any other children,” added Arya. 


“YOU MOLESTED MY SON,” gasped Lysa. 

“Wait...what?  NO!  ARE YOU INSANE?” 

“The little brat turns my sweet, perfect little angel into some sort of flying devil spawn, uses him as a sperm bank, and then has the nerve to call me ‘insane.’  Robin, it’s okay, sweetheart.  It...it’s not your fault; where did she touch you?”    


“I did not...molest...my...son, you...you sick freak,” seethed Arya.  By now, she’d grown so angry at Lysa that it took every ounce of her self-control to keep her fangs from swinging forward and prying her mouth open.  “And that’s not even how you have children, idiot.  You don’t have sex; you have to drink half of a person’s blood and then let someone else who hasn’t made any children on their own drain the other half of the person’s blood.  That’s how I made Rickon and Shireen.  Of course, you can also just bite someone and drink all of their blood yourself.  Everyone knows that; how stupid are you?”  The second way doesn’t always work though...not really.  That’s how father made me and how I created Robin, but it must only work sometimes.  When I drank all of Tommen and Mycah’s blood, they didn’t become my children...not really.  It just turned them into pale-skinned monsters who never think about anything other than drinking the blood of every person they see. 

The same thing happened to everyone they bit too.  None of them can talk anymore either; all they do is growl and I can control them just by thinking that I want one of them to do something for me.  They don’t have a will of their own...not really.  At least it worked when Robin and I were born.  I’ll be able to do it right once I’m father’s age, most like.  Seven Hells!  Now I’m hungry again; maybe...no!  I don’t care how hungry I am; I will not bring Lysa into my family.  Never! 

“What?  You truly believe that babies are born through these unholy blood rituals of yours?  Is this what they’re teaching children in those filthy ‘sex-ed’ classes these days?” 


“What are you talking about, Norma Bates,” Arya groaned.  Joffrey, Lysa, Littlefinger...can’t I go one night without meeting every whack-job in the city?  How do you people keep finding me?  Is there a secret society of crazy people that keeps track of my movements?  Am I the Ramona Flowers of Winter Falls or something?  At least I never dated any of these nutjobs...

“I’ve always said all children should be homeschooled, but Cat just had to steal my son and let you turn him into another casualty of the culture war that you people have been waging on Godly men like my Petyr.  The Amish may worship a false God, just like you and the rest of the tree-worshipers in your family, but you can be sure that their children’s textbooks aren’t filled with sacrilegious smut.” 

“So you’re saying textbooks should be filled with religious smut instead?  Like pictures of the Seven having an orgy,” Arya asked with a wicked grin. 

“SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!” 

“I know!  If the Seven exist, they can prove it by striking me dead at the count of three...well...striking me dead a second time.  One.  Two.  Three.  Ooooooh.  I’m still here, aren’t I?  Yep, not a scratch on me.  Sorry, Lysa, I guess the seven dwarves you pray to don’t exist after all.  Oh well, better luck next time.” 


“How dare you mock my faith, you blasphemous little brat!”  Trolling this idiot is so much fun that I almost wish I could keep her alive a few more nights.  Well...no, I don’t actually want to keep her alive...not really, but this is great!

“Who?  Me,” Arya asked in a voice dripping with sarcasm as she placed her right hand over her heart. 

“Don’t bother denying it, you hedonistic harpy!

“But I’d never make fun of your faith in the Seven...not really,” Arya continued, switching to a more timid tone of voice.  Arya gave her former aunt a wide-eyed, innocent look as she struggled to keep herself from bursting out laughing.  “It’d be sooooooo very hypocritical of me to make fun of you for liking the Seven Pointed Star; I like fairy tales too.  Well...I don’t like them anymore...not really.  I mean...I liked them when I was a little girl and you like them even though you’re a woman grown, but —”

“I SAID SHUT UP!  You’re just like your mother; you and that shameless slut you call a sister.  How dare that girl say the way my husband looked at her made her feel uncomfortable!  Sansa was the one who couldn’t stop throwing herself at him...just like her mother.  Petyr is mine!  MINE!  MINE!  MINE!”  Not again... 

“He’s all yours, believe me.  I don’t want him and neither does anyone in my old family,” replied Arya, rolling her eyes in disdain. 

“You don’t fool me for a second; I see everything!  I know how every woman who sees my Petyr spends her days wet in bed, lusting after –” 

“GROSS!  What the fuck is the matter with you?” 

“Mother, you said a naughty word,” chirped Robin. 

“I just...I mean...umm...I’ll give you a nickel later.” 

“Okaaaaaaaaaay,” groaned Robin, fidgeting impatiently with the dials on the back of a clock he’d removed from one of the walls.  

“I always told Petyr that we should move to a nice, quiet amish village in the Midwest.  We should’ve escaped from this soulless state of sin, secularism, and sex while we still had the chance.  ‘We just need to move out of Crownland Heights,’ he said.  ‘Everything will be better once we move to Winter Falls,’ he said.  ‘The High Sparrow lives there, so it must be a God-fearing community,’ he said.  There are some things that are best left to a woman’s intuition and one of those is where to raise one’s family.  I knew we should’ve moved to Millersburg before having a child.  If we had, then maybe my poor Robin would still –” 


“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” 

“The facts speak for themselves.  The end times are finally upon us, you child-stealing heathen.  You were plainly turned into some sort of twisted hell-beast because the Seven finally saw fit to punish you and the rest off your ilk for their blasphemous ways.  Don’t bother asking for the Mother’s mercy now; it’s much too late for your kind.” 

“I was not punished!  Father chose me because he saw something in me that he didn’t see in anyone else in this stupid town.  That’s why he bit me first; he bit me before anyone else in Winter Falls,” Arya exclaimed, beaming with pride. 

“Ned Stark bit you?  Is this some twisted sex game?” 

“NO!  GROSS!  Seven Hells, why is everything with you always about religion, sex, or Littlefinger?” 

“His name is Petyr, you hateful little bitch!” 


“Whatever.” 

“Don’t you ‘whatever’ me, you –” 

“Whatever.  I just said it to you again, didn’t I?  Why didn’t you stop me from saying that?  Oh wait, now I remember, you can’t make me do anything.  Anyway, Ned Stark isn’t even my stupid father anymore...not really.  I have a new family now; the only one I ever want to have and it’ll be the way it should be in another night or two.  It’s just...missing a few more members right now is all.  I’ll add them soon though, you’ll see!  Well...you’ll be dead by then, most like, but you get the idea.” 

“I’m going to *burp* help mother make her old mother into her new mother.  Did you know that mother,” asked Robin.

“Her mother?  You mean...you mean Cat is going become...become one of those...good.  Even as little girl, my sister was nothing but a common hussy!  That hateful harlot deserves to be punished for all times she threw herself at my Petyr. 
The wretched whore –” 


“She never wanted anything to do with that creep!” 

“LIAR!  LIAR!  LIAR!  That sidewalk Sally was always trying to steal Petyr from me; she would always throw herself at the poor man even when we were children. 
He was so traumatized by the ordeal that he still accidentally shouts her name instead of my whenever we make love.” 

“I DON’T NEED TO HEAR THIS!”

“Your mother has spent her entire life lusting after my Petyr and soon, she’s going to burn in frozen hellfire for it!”  How can hellfire be frozen?  That doesn’t even make any sense. 
And what’s a ‘sidewalk Sally?’

“Did not!” 

“Did too!” 


“Did not!” 


“Did too!” 

“I get it!  Lysa’s my first mother and Arya, you’re my second mother.  That’s right, isn’t it,” asked Robin. 


“No.  I’m your mother, not her,” Arya sighed, rubbing her forehead in frustration. 

“You can’t be his mother; it’s not even scientifically possible.  I’ll have you know that Robin was conceived on the happiest night of my life.  We waited until we’d finally married and settled down in Winter Falls.  It was the very first time my Petyr put his –” 


“BLAH.  BLAH.  BLAH.  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!  BLAH.  BLAH.  BLAH,” screamed Arya, jamming an index finger in each ear until her nemesis mercifully stopped talking.

“Mother, what does ‘molested’ mean?” 


“That’s a very, very bad grown up word and...stop copying me,” Arya and Lysa hissed in unison, scowling at each other.

“You have no right to call him ‘your son;’ I’m the one who brought him into the world.” 

“And I’m the one who looked out for Robin and loved him even before he became my son, which is a lot more than you can say.  I raised your so-called son while you were in the nuthouse for trying to poison him.” 

“Petyr poisoned him first!  I was upset when I first found out, but then I realized why he was doing it.  Petyr wanted me to poison our son too in order to prove I loved him more than anyone else in the world...even my poor Robin.  I had to take the blame when we got caught; my Petyr far too handsome for prison.  Do you have any idea what those animals would do to him in there?”  Littlefinger poisoned Robin too?  That...that little...that stupid little...I could’ve disemboweled the bastard a few minutes ago, but I let him go. 
AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHH. 

“What kind of ‘mother’ would poison her own son,” snapped Arya, making air quotes when she said the word “son.”

“What kind of mother would turn her so-called son into some sort of undead abomination?  Is that your idea of ‘taking care’ of him, you filthy witch?” 

“HEY!  I’m an Other, not a stupid witch!” 

“I suppose Cat would leave my son in the clutches a godless fiend like you, wouldn’t she?  Children these days have no respect for the Seven; that’s why you and the rest of those tree-worshiping pagans in your family are being turned into monsters. 
We are in end times!” 

“My old family were not pagans,” groaned Arya, rolling her eyes.  “They just...worshiped the old Gods is all.  And I don’t even believe in those anymore...not really.  Once father gave me new life, I realized that there are no Gods.  If there were, they’d have stopped us by now.  The Seven are just some dumb story people like you tell themselves when they get scared; they don’t actually exist.” 

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” 

“What are ‘end times,’” asked Robin. 

“End times are when Lysa forgets to take her meds.” 


“SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!  SHUT UP,” roared Lysa, throwing two dirty dishes and a carving knife at her former niece.  Arya flew to the right and easily dodged all three objects, but the knife lodged itself in one of the wooden cabinets.    

“WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY KITCHEN?” 

“What did I do? 
You’re the one who threw a knife into the cabinet.” 

“Well you...you...you’re the one who brought my sweet, innocent Robin with you when you consorted with the Night’s King.” 

“The Night’s King isn’t real either, stupid” 

“Get out of my house, you witch!” 


“For the last time, I’m not a stupid witch!” 

“Out of my house!  The faith of the Seven compels you,” shouted Lysa, holding up her seven-pointed star necklace. 

“Umm...what are you doing?” 

“I’m driving you out of my home.” 

“You can’t be serious.” 

“The faith of the Seven compels you! 
The faith of the Seven compels you!” 

“Seven Hells!  You are the dumbest person I have ever met in either of my stupid lives,” sighed Arya, face-palming.  “And that’s not even an actual prayer besides.  Wait a minute, you haven’t read that stupid book about the Seven either, have you?”

“I read it from beginning to end every day!” 

“What does it say on the first page?” 

“It says...I mean...I read it, I just...” 

“You’ve never even opened it, have you?” 

“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” 

“You invited Robin inside and he invited me in after you left. 
That means –” 

“Robin, un-invite this witch right this minute!” 

“No.” 

“What did you just say,” gasped Lysa. 

“Seven Hells!  I just said I’m not a stupid witch.”


“I don’t want mother to leave, mother.” 

“Stop calling her your mother,” Arya and Lysa shouted in unison. 

“Look, why don’t we just let Robin choose?” 

“Fine.  My Robin knows I’m the one who brought him into the world.  Go on, tell her; tell her that I’m your mother.” 

“Don’t listen to her!  You know that I’m your mother, don’t you?  Robin?” 

“Umm...I...well...wait, I know!  It’s a trick question, isn’t it?  If I have two mothers, that must mean you’re both lesbians.” 

“NO!” 

“That’s not it?” 

“No, you can only have one mother,” replied Lysa. 


“She’s right, Robin; you have to choose.” 

“I do?  Okaaaaaaaaaay,” groaned Robin, gliding toward Lysa.  What?  But...but she tried to poison you.  I...I’m the one who raised you.  *CRACK*  Without so much as a goodbye, Robin broke Lysa Baelish’s neck. 

“I’m finished, mother.” 

“You...you didn’t choose her?  But I thought –” 

“Of course not, she’s not allowed to be my mother anymore because she had to go to mother school.  That’s right, isn’t it? 
Did I do good?” 

“Close enough.  Umm...yes, Robin, you...err...you did good.” 

“Can I have a nickel now?” 

“You can have the first quarter I find.  How does that sound?” 

“REALLY?  Quarters can be really shiny, mother.” 

“Yep, you can have the shiniest quarter I can –” 
Before Arya could finish her sentence, Robin bolted over to her and the two hugged each other tightly. 

Chapter Text

Jeyne | Sansa

“You have to *snort* let me in, Jeyne.  I’m trying to *snort* get in, I *snort* swear.  NO, I...I don’t *snort* need your *snort* wait, please don’t *snort* do it *snort* again.  This isn’t *snort* fair; Neutrogena was just a *snort* stupid dog.”  Jeyne looked through the peephole on the front door of her parent’s house just in time to see Joffrey start choking himself with his own hands. It’s almost 3:00 AM in the morning.  Does he really think that just because my parents are out of town, he can come over here whenever he...wait a minute... 

“JOFFREY BARATHEON, what did I tell you about coming over when you were high?”

“Please, you have to *snort* help me.  Let me *snort* in so she’ll *snort* make it *snort* stop,” wailed Joffrey. What does he want?  “GET IT OUT!  GET IT *snort* OUT!  Please, I can *snort* feel her *snort* inside of *snort* me.  I...I *snort feel unclean; I can still *snort* feel her in my *snort* vains.  So cold and *snort* GET OUT OF MY *snort* FUCKING BODY, YOU *snort* CUNT!” 

“What?  Who’s inside you?  You sound like you were raped or something,” Jeyne snickered. 

“No, she didn’t *snort*...wait...you can’t say that *snort* word around her, Arya hates *snort*...NOOOOOOOOOO!  DON’T *snort* MAKE ME CUT IT *snort* OFF!  LET ME *snort* IN NOW,” screamed Joffrey.  “FUCK, DO YOU *snort* HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT *snort* SHE’S ABOUT TO *snort* MAKE ME DO TO *snort* MYSELF?  LET ME IN!  YOU CAN’T *snort* CASTRATE ME JUST BECAUSE *snort* I KILLED NYMPHOMANIA.”  Suddenly, Joffrey reached into his right pocket and began speaking in a flat, emotionless voice that was both his and someone else’s entirely.  It made him sound like a man who had been dead since the dawn of time. 

“You begged me not to hurt you, so I didn’t; I let you serve me in life instead.  I gave you a chance and now you have failed me.  And for the last time, my dog’s name was Nymeria, stupid.  If that door doesn’t open by the count of ten, I’m going to cut the whole thing off.  I don’t see why you’re so upset; there’s barely even anything to slice off.  One.  Two.  Three.”  Jeyne watched as tears began pouring down Joffrey’s cheeks. He shouldn’t be outside like this; something is seriously wrong with him. 

“Seven.  Eight.  Nine.”  The door swung open and Joffrey raced inside. 

“STOP DOING THAT!  And I *snort* don’t have to *snort* serve you if I *snort* don’t want to; I’m *snort* not your *snort* puppet.”  Suddenly, Joffrey’s voice grew as cold and bitter as a winter blizzard.  “My puppet?  Sounds about right; I’d say that’s exactly what you are; you’re a tool and I will use you as I see fit.  Stupid bastard.” 

“Joffrey?” 

“SHUT UP, YOU *snort* DUMB BITCH!” 

“WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?” 

“I wasn’t *snort* talking to *snort* you.” 

“What? 
Well then who were you talking to?” 

“He was talking to me, but that’s not what you should be asking yourself,” replied Joffrey in a calm, cruel voice as he reached into his left pocket.  This isn’t like the time he decided he wanted to have sex in one of the cow-pens in my parents‘ barn so that all the animals could watch us; I...I think there might be something seriously wrong with him.  My poor, innocent Lion is losing his mind.  Doesn’t he know that mental illness is “out” this year?  It hasn’t been “in” since...well...I don’t think it was ever really “in.”

“I...I think you need help; I’m going to call a hospital.  I don’t know what happened to you, but...did you hit your head?”  Jeyne had done cocaine often enough – usually with Joffrey – to know that the drug did not cause anything like this.  She didn’t use it nearly as much as he did, but she’d used it often enough...

“Right, I hit my head.  Yeah, that must be it, Jeyne.  Go and try to get in me trouble again, just like you always did.  You better call a doctor; you’re going to need one reeeeaaal soon.  My brother said games make this sort of thing more interesting and –” 


“Tommen?”  Joffrey cringed as if the mere mention of his brother’s name filled him with disgust. 

“No, my brother Ramsay; Tommen’s not my brother, stupid.  I don’t know if he even really existed anymore after I bit him.”  Jeyne didn’t even bother asking what that meant; she pulled out her cellphone, but couldn’t get any phone service.  The internet was down too, for that matter.  Can’t those idiots at Time Warner do anything right? 

“Of all the times to –” 

“Looks like Ramsay’s been busy.” 


“Who is ‘Ramsay?’” 


“Sorry, that’s not the thing you should be asking yourself either...not really.  You know, it was a good idea to do it this way.  Robin shouldn’t see his mother doing something like this, don’t you think?” 


“Who is ‘Robin?’  WAIT...did you just say you were someone’s mother?” 

“Oh right, I’m still inside this stupid bast...STOP *snort* CALLING ME *snort* THAT!  Go away Joffrey or I’ll make you castrate yourself.  Do you understand?  Yes.  Yes, what?  Yes, *snort* master.  That’s better, now go away.  I’m still using your stupid body; you can have it back when I’m done...at least until I need it again.  Oh and one more thing, what are you going to do when I’m away? 
Whatever you *snort* tell me to *snort* do before you *sort* go,” Joffrey seethed, clenching his teeth in anger.

“Stay...stay back, I don’t want you near me until you’re feeling better.”

“Joffrey’s not here right now, but I’d be happy to take a message.  Of course, it doesn’t matter what you say...not really.  And you didn’t let me finish besides.  The question you should be asking yourself is ‘what is Arya going to do with this,’” replied Joffrey, pulling a switchblade out of his left pocket. 

“Is that a knife?  GET THAT FUCKING THING OUT OF MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW!  Do you hear me?  Joffrey?”   

“You still don’t get it, do you?  Did he fuck your brains out or something?  Actually...don’t answer that.  I’ll just tell you what I’m going to do since you’re plainly too stupid to figure it out for yourself.  First, I’m going to use this knife to cut off a bit of skin here, a bit of skin there. 
Don’t worry, you’ll be dead soon enough.” 

“Joff-Joffrey or...or Arya...or...or whoever you think you are, get...get out of my house, right n-now!  I...I’ll call the police; I mean it!” 

“The police can’t help you, stupid.  And you have no way to contact them besides.  Anyway, as soon as you’re dead and your body is ready for the main event, I’m going to skin one of your parents’ stupid barn animals.  Once I have the material I need, I’ll find some duct-tape and give you a proper horseface.” 

“You can’t –”

“Fiiiiiine.  I suppose you and Ramsay are right; it’s only fair that I give you a chance to get away.  It didn’t work with Tommen, but I don’t think I’ll have the same problem with you.  And I don’t want you in my family besides.  I’ll tell you what; I’ll give you until the count of ten to find somewhere upstairs to hide.  Ramsay was right; this does make things more exciting.  One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  Five.  Six.  Seven.  Eight.  Nine.  Ten.  Ready or not, here I come!”

...

Sansa

“Your father’s gone; it’s safe to come out of your room now!” 

“Are you sure, mother?” 

“Yes, Sansa, I’m sure.  You know I’d never tell you to unlock your door if I didn’t think it was safe.”  Father would never hit me; he’s struck Bran before, but he’d never hurt the rest of us.  In truth, there were times when Sansa had her doubts, but she always forced herself to believe that it could never happen.  The whole mess was horrid enough already and the possibility that the whole family was in danger anytime Sansa’s father grabbed would’ve been too much to take.  At least father was to drunk to notice Bran come barging into the house babbling about Others... 
He’d hit him for that even if he wasn’t convinced Bran had emptied his liquor cabinet. 

“I’d still like to spend the night in my room.” 


“I understand.  Don’t worry, I promise this won’t happen again.  I’m going tell your father that he can either enter a twelve-step program or I will file for divorce and ask for full custody without visitation.” 


“But coming from a broken home is ‘out’ this year!” 

“What?” 

“Nothing.  I...I just...I think you should wait until Rickon is a bit older.  A divorce could be psychologically damaging or something.”  Maybe coming from a broken home will be ‘in’ next year.  What a stupid thought; it hasn’t been ‘in’ for years.  Why would that change now?  I might as well hope that having an alcoholic father is ‘in’ next month. 

“Maybe you’re right; I won’t make a final decision until I’ve talked to the rest of your siblings.  And don’t worry, I’m going to send you all to stay at your uncle Petyr’s house before I talk to your father.” 

“But Petyr is always –” 

“I’m sorry your uncle makes you uncomfortable and I know he can be a bit strange, but I saw the way you said he was looking at you and I promise that there is nothing wrong.  He looked at me the same way when I was your age and he certainly didn’t have impure intentions toward me.  He did always say that I was too good for your father, but he was just being protective.  Do you understand?”  GROSS!  How can you possibly be so clueless?  And you said you were going to talk to my siblings first. 
It was plain that Catelyn had already made up her mind and Sansa knew that her father would never agree to attend an AA meeting, much less enter a twelve-step program. 

If anyone finds out that my parents are probably getting divorced then I’ll lose all my friends, most like.  What if Joffrey decides he hates me?  No!  He wouldn’t do that; he’s not like the rest of his family.  He’s nothing like his crazy mother; he’ll still love me!  And...and even if he doesn’t, he has to know that being in love is ‘in’ this year. 

If it was Tommen, then there might have been cause for concern.  Joffrey’s younger brother plainly had no idea what was “in” and what was “out;” it was the only way to explain the painfully obvious crush he had on Arya.  Naturally, Sansa’s younger sister was the one person in either family who seemed completely oblivious to the reason for Tommen’s anxiety whenever the Baratheons came over to the Stark house for dinner.  Even Joffrey’s semi-veiled taunts seemed to go completely over the stubborn girl’s head.  At first Sansa thought Robin was speaking for Arya when he started throwing food at Tommen, but he did the same thing to Joffrey and Myrcella three weeks later.  If there was a message from Arya buried within those mashed potatoes, it was meant for all three of Mayor Lannister’s grandchildren.

People like Arya who always did things that were “out” were only suitable their fellow weirdos – people like Tommen – and setting up acquaintances was “in” last February, so Sansa tried to steer the two into dating...only to give up one week later.  It should’ve been easy given how often the two families had dinner at each other’s houses and in truth, it was hard to pick a single reason that things didn’t work out.  For one thing, Arya seemed to despise everyone in Joffrey’s family even though any sane person would’ve been delighted to be in the same room as a Baratheon for more than five seconds.  They were the most “in” family in all of Winter Falls, after all.  Even so, Sansa knew that telling the ungrateful little brat that Joffrey’s younger brother liked her would only make Arya hate poor Tommen even more, especially if she heard it from her older sister.

Not that Tommen helped matters; the way he seemed to forget how to speak using syllables and sentences whenever Arya was around was like something out of a bad cartoon.  The worst was the time he randomly introduced himself to Arya as “Tormund Lancaster” and “Thomas Bartholomew” during a single evening – he referred to himself as “T-T-Tom-Thomas B-B-Barf-Bar-Barb-Barath-Bartholomew” right in the middle of dinner – even though he’d first met Arya two years ago.  Actually, the worst time was when he got so nervous that he threw up on his brother and spoiled the entire evening.  In the end, Sansa was forced to conclude that Tommen and her sister were simply too “out” to ever find love.  Maybe Arya can marry Robin when gets older if she loves that bed-wedding, booger-eating little creep so much.  Those two are always spoiling everything!  They deserve each other, Sansa decided. 

They deserve each other just like Joffrey and I deserve each other.  Joffrey would never hate me; not while being in love is “in.”  I’m sure he spends time every day making sure that he’s keeping up with all the latest trends.  Thinking about Joffrey – or “James Blonde,” as she sometimes referred to him – always brought a smile to Sansa’s face...when he wasn’t high.  Of course, Sansa had realized years ago that it was better not to think about what cocaine did to her Prince Charming. 

I can change him; I know I can!  He doesn’t mean to hurt me, he’s probably just afraid I’ll hurt him if he tells me how much he loves me...even Edward threw Bella through a glass table once.  One day, he’ll realize that I’d never hurt him and he won’t be afraid anymore.  I just know that Joffrey will quit snorting cocaine to prove how much he loves me and once he does, he’ll never hurt me again.  As long as being in love is still “in,” we’ll get married, have whatever the “in” number of children is, and I’ll finally be a Baratheon!  Everyone will be so very jealous, but I won’t change; I’ll be just as humble as I’ve always been.  Even Arya and Robin won’t be able to spoil it...if mother and father even make me invite them to the wedding.  It doesn’t matter; it will be my day.  Everyone will be happy for me and won’t want anything to do with those two losers, most like.  It’ll be like staring in my very own Lifetime Original Movie. 

“Sansa, are you sure you don’t want to come out of your room,” shouted Catelyn. 


“Yes, mother, I’m sure.  I’m feeling much better, I promise; I even unlocked the door.” 


“I’ll come up to check on you a little later.” 


“Okay.”  *SCRRREEEEEEEEEEECH*  There was suddenly a loud scraping sound on the window.  Sansa turned and saw a pair of hungry blue eyes looking directly at her; she opened her mouth to scream only to close it again less than two seconds later.  The thing staring at her had pale skin and there was a red stain all over its mouth, but there was something eerily familiar about its face.  Suddenly, she knew who was watching her...not that it made any sense.  It was absurd and yet the realization still hit Sansa with the force of a hurricane.


“Arya?” 

“Hello, Sansa,” the creature replied with a wicked grin.  “Aren’t you going to let me in?” 

“I’m here too,” a second voice announced triumphantly.  Robin? 

“You’re ruining the mood, Robin; we just went over this.” 

“I’m sorry, mother.  I didn’t mean to be stupid.” 

“You’re not stupid!  I don’t ever want to hear you call yourself that again, no matter what!  Do you promise not to do that?” 

“I promise, mother,” Robin cheerfully replied. 

“Arya, get down from there now, you could...wait...you’re not even standing out the window ledge.  How are you floating like that?” 


“Open the window and I’ll show you.” 

“IS THAT BLOOD?” 


“No, it’s lipstick.  Of course, it’s blood, stupid.  I was hungry; don’t you know anything?  Stop looking at your stupid wall.  It’s not that scary; I’m not even using my angry face.” 

“No, the fake blood is too horrid to look at.” 

“It’s not fake.  Father adopted me and I adopted Robin; we’re Others now.”  What? 
Others aren’t even real.  

“Go away; I don’t have time for this; spending time with younger siblings is ‘out’ right now.”

“You realize how stupid you sound when you say things like that, right?” 

“Shut up, horseface.” 

“WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?” 

“I...umm...nothing.”  There was something different about Arya and it frightened Sansa. 

“Good.  Listen, Sansa, I’m just trying to make things easier for you.  All you have to do is look me in the eye and open the window. 
If you do that then this will all be over soon, I promise.” 

“What will be over soon?” 

“Mother’s going to kill you dead and then once we finish gobbling up your red neck milk, we’re going to make your mother my mother’s mother,” chirped Robin. 

“ROBIN!” 

“Sorry, mother. 
I was just trying to help her not be so confuzzled is all.” 

“But she’ll never let me in if she knows I’m going to kill...never mind.  Come on, Sansa; just open the stupid window.” 

“Arya, stop it this isn’t funny.”  As if in reply, Sansa’s sister opened her mouth and two long fangs swung forward, each dripping with blood.  This time, Sansa screamed. 

“Sansa, is that you?  Are you alright?  I’m coming in,” said Catelyn from the other side of the room. 

“I’m fine, don’t –”  The door swung open and Sansa’s mother turned near as pale as the skin of the creature calling itself “Arya.” 

“ARYA LYANNA STARK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE?  GET INSIDE THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW!” 


“DON’T LET HER IN, MOTHER!” 

“What?” 

“Look at me, mother; I can stand on the window ledge on one foot.  I bet I can hop around too.  Watch me jump on one foot!”

“Arya, if you don’t come inside this second –” 

“Fine, I...whoa...I...I... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” Arya screamed.  She’s just pretending to fall; it’s a trick.  It has to be!  That...that thing really is an Other.  Bran would know what to do, most like.  This is insane; it’s...SHIT, mother’s going to let that thing in the house.

“ARYA, I’m coming,” shouted Catelyn, racing toward the window.  Sansa wanted to run away and hide, but being brave was “in,” so she ran right into her mother and did her best to keep the dazed woman from getting up and opening the window.

“MOTHER, I...I fell and I...where did you go? 
Please, I...I can’t hold on much longer!” 

“SANSA, GET OFF ME NOW!  Have you gone insane?” 

“You don’t understand, that...that thing it...it’s not Arya.  It’s some sort of monster! 
There’s another one out there pretending to be Robin.” 

“What are you talking –” 

“Mother, don’t let me die!  I...I’m really scared and...please, mother, I love you!  Don’t let me die!  You have to open the window and pull me in! 
HURRY!” 

“You’re going to get your sister killed,” snapped Catelyn, shoving away her eldest daughter. 

“I CAN FEEL MY FINGERS SLIPPING!” 

“Mother, look, it’s your Almost Mother.  Should I eat up her leftover red neck milk yet?”  Whether she believed her daughter or not, the creature’s words stopped Catelyn in her tracks and Sansa let out a sigh of relief. 

“Robin, she was about to open the stupid window,” groaned the creature calling itself ‘Arya’ as it glided up a bit and began circling the window. 

“Don’t be angry at me, mother.  Please don’t hate me,” begged a second, smaller creature as it bolted down from the sky and wrapped its arms around the larger monster.  That thing looks just like Robin... 


“I could never stay angry at you...not really.  And I promise that I’ll always love you; you’re just –” 

“I know, mother. 
I’m special, just like you said,” replied the smaller creature with a wide smile. 

“That’s right, Robin!”  Catelyn fainted.  *CRAAAAAAAASH*  That definitely came from inside the house, but those things can’t come in without permission even if there are more of them out there.  Mother passed out and there’s no one else here who could let them in the house except...BRAN!

Chapter Text

*CRASH*  Bran swung his chair into the cracked, wooden leg of his desk as hard as he could and it broke.  He then grabbed the one of his three knives – the ones he’d snuck out of the kitchen while his father was drunkenly throwing cold waffles at Sansa, calling her “Blendon,” accusing her of emptying his liquor cabinet, and rambling about how Rickon was the only son he had who was worth a damn – and began furiously working to carve the tip of broken part of his chair into something sharp enough to pass for the end of a wooden stake.  He’d brought the largest hammer he could find in the garage with him too, in case he had any trouble getting one of the stakes into an Other’s heart.  How does anyone get Sansa and me mixed up?  Am I the most bland and generic person in this entire universe or something?  He didn’t even get my name right, Bran silently fumed. 

I have to focus!  If those...creatures...if they really were Arya and Robin, then that means Rickon is now an Other too.  Rickon and I had a bunk-bed which means this was technically his bedroom too, so he might not need someone to open that window and let him inside.  Arya and Robin live here too or at least, they used to...  If Rickon doesn’t need an invitation, then they probably don’t need one either.  If they don’t then I’m dead anyway, but I have to arm myself in case only one of them is able to get inside.  It’s probably a lost cause since no one else in our family will believe me, but I have to try!  I had no way of knowing what happened to Arya and Ghost was just a dog, but Rickon...  He needed me and I abandoned him.  I ran away just like I always do whenever bad things happen; I should’ve done something...  If I could’ve gotten them away from him before they drained all of his blood, maybe a transfusion could’ve saved him.  I won’t abandon the rest of my family and I won’t run away next time either, Bran decided. 

Well...maybe I shouldn’t risk my life for father or Robb, but they aren’t really part of my family.  Father wouldn’t lift a finger to save me and Robb went to live with the Greyjoys after he got thrown out of our house.  He never tried to contact me or anyone else in our family after that; he should ask his new family to save him if he loves them so much.  I hope he likes living with those stupid redneck drug-dealers.  Everyone knew that the Greyjoy crime family – or the Iron Island Mob, as they were more commonly known – were responsible for the meth epidemic that had plagued rural, northern Westeros in recent years.  The Mayor and the cops he kept on his payroll largely left them alone for one simple reason: they sold everything except cocaine.  According to Joffrey, the only way to get cocaine in Winter Falls or any nearby city was to buy it directly from from Officer Trant – or mayhaps some other police officer – who gave a cut of the profits from each sale to the Chief of Police, Janos Slynt.  Chief Slynt apparently saw to it that Mayor Lannister also received a share of the drug money.  Joffrey used to brag about how his grandfather was able to pressure the Iron Island Mob into only selling the drugs that Mayor Lannister had no interest in selling himself.  If one of the Others drank Joffrey’s blood, would it become a cocaine addict, Bran wondered as he finished his first makeshift wooden stake.

Okay, that took way too long!  It never seemed that hard to make wooden stakes out of household objects in any vampire movie I’ve ever seen.  At least father’s not home, he’d probably let them all in just to spite me. 

“Bran,” whimpered Sansa from the other side of the door.  Seven Hells!  I have to tell her what I’ve been doing, don’t I?  She’ll probably let them inside because “Others are ‘in’ this year” or something like that...not that Sansa would believe a word I say anyway. 
I’m the only one smart enough not to open a window for one of those creatures, most like. 

“Sansa, this is going to sound really strange, but –”

“What did you mean when you were yelling about Others earlier?” 

“What?” 

“Back when father was throwing waffles at me; you said something about someone being an Other.” 

“I...umm...I think l said Arya and Robin are Others, but –” 

“I know, I saw them and –” 

“Fuck, that means they’re already here and...wait...you...umm...you didn’t let them in, did you?” 

“No, how stupid do you think I am?”  I’m pretty sure you won’t like the answer to that question...  “Mother tried to open the window, but I stopped her because being brave is ‘in’ and Others are ‘out’ right now.  She fainted when she saw Arya flying.  Actually, it might’ve been when Robin started talking about how they were going to kill me and turn our mother into an Other so that she could be Arya’s mother...or something.  The last part didn’t really make very much sense.” 

“Why don’t they want to turn you into an Other?” 

“How should I know?  Probably because they realized I was too ‘in’ to be seen with them.  Others and younger sisters are ‘out’ and being nice to special-needs kids like Robin won’t been ‘in’ again for like half-a-year.  Mental Illness Awareness Month isn’t until May, so I can’t very well risk being seen around one of those types in the middle of December, can I?”  Bran face-palmed.  You’re not going to be any help at all, are you?

“Riiiight, that has to be it,” groaned Bran, rolling his eyes.  “Anyway, I’m making wooden stakes; you will too if you’re smart.”  So, now that we’ve ruled that out... 

“Bran, steaks come from cows.  And vegetarianism is ‘in’ besides.” 
I hate everyone in this stupid town; the Others can have it once I’m not living here anymore.

“No, I mean wooden stakes.  You know?  S-T-A-K-E?” 

“Whatever.  Listen, I’m going to make sure mother is in a room without any windows when she wakes up so that she doesn’t let any of those things into the house.  I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?”  Bran wasn’t listening to his sister and certainly wasn’t about to open the door – or any other entrance to his room, for that matter – because at that moment, something that used to be Rickon had its face pressed against the window.  It didn’t quite look like his youngest brother though: It had pale, white skin and fangs so long that they seemed to be almost forcing its mouth open, but what frightened Bran the most were the creature’s blue eyes.  He knew better than to look directly at them, but a quick glance was all he needed.  The thing that was once Rickon didn’t look hungry...well...maybe a little bit hungry, but its eyes burned with a hatred that Bran had only seen one other time: right before Arya – or whoever she was now – began eating her way through Ghost’s stomach. 

“Hello, Brandon,” growled Rickon. 

“Remember not to kill him,” shouted a voice that plainly belonged to Arya, even though Bran couldn’t see her at the moment.  “I know you’re mad, but he’s going to be your brother and –”

“MOOOOOOOOOOM, you’re ruining everything!  Do you know how embarrassing it is when you do things like that?” 

“I’m sorry, I just –” 

“Why do you always have to mess up everything that makes me happy?  I will never forgive you for what you did to me, you know that, don’t you?” 

“Never?” 


“NEVER!” 

“But Rickon, you...don’t you know how much I –” 

“I know all about how much you love me, mother,” snapped Rickon.  “I know you love me and the rest of your stupid ‘children’ because you need someone to make you feel loved.  Why do we have to suffer just so you can pretend someone wants you around?  You don’t really love any of us!” 

“That’s not true!  I love you and your siblings more than anything else in the world; there is nothing I wouldn’t do for the three of you, do you hear me?  And you’ve never make me feel loved besides...not really, but I still love you.  Look me in the eye and tell me that’s not true.”  Three? 
There are more of them? 

“I know you love me...or at least, you love me the way I am now.  I...I shouldn’t have said you don’t because that’s not true.” 

“Thank you, you said some very hurtful things.  You need to be more careful about that, Rickon.” 

“I know you love me, but I will always hate you; is that better?” 

“What did I ever do to deserve –” 

“Mother, did it ever once occur to you that some of us might not like the idea of only coming out at night, constantly drinking people’s blood, and spending the rest of eternity with no one except the people YOU think would make good additions to our family?” 

“No, because no one should be upset about that...not really.” 

“I’m more than upset about it,” seethed Rickon.

“I know how you feel; I thought it was going to be bad when Lord Bolton bit me too, but now I understand that it was all for the best.  Everything’s better this way, just ask your brother and sister.” 

“How was I born?” 


“Robin and I each drank half of your blood.” 


“Well...maybe that’s what happened.  You don’t remember any of the good things about your old life because my grandfather drank all of your blood.” 


“There were no good things and I wasn’t even alive before father chose me besides.” 

“Being bitten changed me too; I understand that you were always my real mother and I know that this is the way things are supposed to be...I just also remember the good things about what it was like before you gave me new life.  Does that make sense?” 

“Shireen loves her new life,” Arya countered with more than a little pride. 

“That’s different, you told me that Shireen hated her old life.” 

“Look, I’m sorry that the way you were born gave you some sort of fake memories or whatever, but you’re not making any sense.” 

“You really don’t get it, do you,” sighed Rickon.  Bran opened his mouth to say something only to close it again without making a sound upon realizing that no good could come from reminding the Others that he existed. 

“Get what?  I don’t understand; you should be happy too!  We’ll be like this forever and –” 

“Of course, you don’t,” sighed Rickon.  “Don’t you ever what to grow instead of being stuck looking they exact same way forever?  Don’t you want to meet people other than our family?” 

“I don’t know...I mean...maybe I used to, but that doesn’t matter anymore...not really.  We belong with our family and...  Maybe I do miss our old family...maybe, but that’s why I’m going to make Bran and our old mother a part of our family. 
That way they can be with us forever,” Arya announced with a self-satisfied smile.

“Whatever.  Mother, I...you did something to me, I know you did.  I feel like someone has been playing with my thinking brain and...there it is again!  Why do I keep saying ‘thinking brain?’  What did you do to me?” 

“I’d never try to change you, Rickon.  I just...made a few small adjustments is all. 
It wasn’t anything important...not really,” insisted Arya as she slowly glided into Bran’s line of sight.

“Listen to me very carefully, mother.  I will always love you and I could never hurt you.  If someone ever tried to hurt you; I’d protect you...but you’re a terrible mother and our family would be better off without you.  You have ruined my life forever,” growled Rickon. 

“I’m sorry you’re upset, but I don’t know what you even want from me.  What can I do to make this easier for you?  I know how much you hate Brandon for abandoning you; what if I let you kill him instead of making him your brother?  Would that help?   WHAT?

“I HATE YOU!  I WISH YOU’D NEVER BEEN BORN!” 

“Rickon, I...I’m doing the best that –” 

“Look at what you’ve done to me.  I’m a monster now; that’s the best you can do?  That’s your idea of love?  We both know that Robin, Shireen, and me would all be better off without you.  I bet neither of our old parents ever wanted you; it’s not like you’d be the first mistake they made, right?  If you really want to do something for me, then you can start by killing yourself.  Wait, why...why are you looking at me like that?  Stop try...trying to guilt me; it isn’t going to work!  You’re not talking on purpose, right?  Mother?  Say something!  Don’t you dare start crying, I mean...I...I...I didn’t mean it!  I just got a bit carried away.  I’m sorry, I really am!  Mother?  I...I said I’m sorry!  Mother, are you alright?  I don’t really want you to kill yourself; I was just angry, okay?  You know I didn’t mean it, don’t you?  Mother?  MOTHER?” 

“Yes, you did,” whispered Arya as she began to slowly float away.  Make up your stupid mind, Rickon...or whoever you are; do you love her or hate her?  Wait...no, keep doing this.  Maybe they’ll waste the whole night arguing and won’t notice the sun rising until it’s too late.  Seven Hells, it’s only 2:00 AM, Bran realized after quickly glancing at his watch.

“It’s not that, I was just...I just get really angry whenever I see Brandon and I was taking it out on you.  I’m really sorry; Brandon made me do it!”  What the fuck did I do? 

“You...you can’t be *sniff* serious.”

“No, really, I...you know how much I hate him.  Please, stop looking at me like that; I...umm...I won’t kill Brandon.  Did you hear that, mother?  He can still be your son.  Please, I just...I mean...I’m sorry, mother.  What I meant to say is that only part of me thinks you’re a terrible mother who should’ve never been born; the other part of me will always love you.  I mean...umm...if I had to have a mother who I hated, I’d rather it be you than someone else.” 

“What *sniff* what are you *sniff* talking about?” 

“I’m sorry, that came out wrong.  What I meant was that I still love you even though I hate what you did to me.  Just because you’ve been a terrible mother doesn’t mean you’ll always be a terrible moth....I mean...no, wait...don’t cry...I...mother, please stop crying...I just...umm...I...BRANDON, LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!  MY MOTHER IS CRYING AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!” 

“My fault?  You’re the one who was telling her how much you hated her and that you wished she’d never been born,” blurted Bran. 

“SHUT UP!  Haven’t you done enough?” 

“What are you even talking about?”  I hate my life so much right now. Why couldn’t I have died in that stupid car crash this morning?

“HEY!  YOU MADE MOTHER CRY,” shrieked something that sounded like Robin.

“I did not! 
It was Brandon’s fault, I swear!” 


“NO!  You made mother cry!  YOU DID!  YOU DID!  YOU DID!  YOU DID!” 

“Spleen urchin!  No one likes a triceratops...wait...why can’t I call you a ‘tattle-tale’ or tell you to shut up?  And why am I blurting random words?  Mother, what...what’s happening to me?”

“Robin,” muttered Arya, wiping her eyes on her left sleeve.

“Yes, mother?”  What the fuck is going on here?  This is like a stupid soap opera or something.  Do all the Others whine this much? 

“You didn’t change Rickon when you bit him, did you?” 

“I made him have to be nice to me always and forever!  I was too hungry to do that to Shireen though; I have to focus and constipate really hard to change people when I bite them.  He can only say happy things when he gets angry at me and if...and if he tries to say mean things to me, he’ll say silly words instead.  Honest and for truly!” 

“You...*sniff*...you mean ‘concentrate?’” 


“I think you’re saying it wrong, mother. 
The word is ‘constipate;’ it means using your thinking brain for only one thing because it is really hard.”

“WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME, YOU LITTLE SARCOPHAGUS?”  Robin began happily clapping his hands as a look of horror spread across Rickon’s face. 

“Look, you made mother smile; she has a happy face now.  Do it again!  Do it again!  Again!  Again!  Again!  AGAIN!”


“You...you can change someone like that just by biting them?” 

“Of course, I can, mother!  Can’t you do that?  I’m sorry, I would’ve made him love you more if I knew he’d be such a mean, old poopyhead.  I only made him angry because I didn’t want you to ever love him more than me, but I never knew that he’d be mean to you.  I’d make him fly too if he wasn’t already flying.  I wonder if I could’ve made him act like a puppy.” 

“No, I can’t do that and...umm...Robin, you need to always check with me before doing that to someone, okay?” 

“Yes, mother. 
Mother, can I have a doggy someday?”

“What if I let you have Tommen?  He’s basically an animal anyway.” 

“THANK YOU!” 

“Just remember to feed him and –” 

“I WILL!  I’ll kill all sorts of food for him, you’ll see!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Can I name him ‘Waldo?’ 
Can I?” 

“Sure, why not?” 

“THANK YOU!  You’re the bestest mother ever and...wait...what was I saying?” 

“You were asking if you could...nevermind.” 

“Oh.  Can I have a doggy someday?”  Arya buried her face in her hands in defeat.  Some things never change, I suppose. 

“Mother?” 


“Yes, Rickon?” 


“You said I could be the one to bite Brandon.  Can...can I really kill him?” 

“Fine.  Listen, I know you don’t hate me...not really.  I...I think we just...need some space is all.”  Bran wasn’t so sure, but he had more important things to worry about. 

“You still can’t hurt me,” Bran blurted. 

“No?  Why not?” 

“Do you think I’m just going to say ‘dear Rickon, I invite you to come in my room whenever you want?’  How stupid do you think I am?”  Suddenly, the window swung open and Rickon slowly floated into Bran’s room.  SHIT!  “Wait...I...I wasn’t inviting you in, I –” 

“You still said the words,” replied the blue-eyed thing with a cruel smile, shrugging its shoulders. 

“Now you can invite me inside, Rickon.  That way Robin and I can give my old mother new life and –” 

“No, mother, you’re right.  I love you too much to ever really try to hurt you or even hurt someone you cared about to get back at you.  And Robin is still my brother besides.”  Arya gave Rickon a weary look and put herself between the open window and the creature calling itself Robin.  “I said I won’t hurt him, mother.  I do need to punish you for what you’ve done to me though...somehow.  Otherwise, I’ll keep saying things I don’t really mean, most like.  Our old mother’s really important to you, isn’t she?”  Arya’s eyes grew so wide that Bran couldn’t help thinking she looked like she’d escaped from a Tom & Jerry cartoon.


“YOU CAN’T!”

“You don’t think I can kill her?  Let’s find out; I’ll invite you inside as soon she’s dead.” 

“But I...if you do that then our family will be wrong.  I don’t care whether she lives or dies...not really.  I just...need a mother too is all.” 

“Find a different one then; go make Sansa your mother or something.” 

“But I don’t want a different mother!  I just...I need it to be our old mother is all  Please, Rickon, I have to make our old mother my daughter so she can be my mother again.” Seven Hells!  You’re all just as crazy as you were before becoming Others. 

“Once she’s dead, we’ll be even and...Brandon, get away from the door.” Rats! Arya raced toward the open window, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t enter Bran’s room.

“Bran, you have to let me inside.  It’s really important!” 

“HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK I AM?” 


“Do you know why I hate you so much, Brandon,” asked Rickon as he slowly began floating closer and closer to his former brother. 

“I...I’m sorry I ran away.  I was scared, but I never should’ve abandoned you!  I should’ve –” 

“You should’ve kept this from happening to me.  At least mother actually loves me, you let this happen to me because you only had to outrun me to escape. 
This is your fault as much as it is hers!” 


“Wait...Rickon, I...I know you’re still in there somewhere.  You have to be because you remember enough about the person you used to be – the one you still can be – to be angry that some monster tried to take it away from you.  I know you don’t want to hurt me.” 


“I don’t?” 


“Maybe you do, but there has to be a part of you that is still human.” 

“Does this look human to you,” asked Rickon as long, bone-like claws burst from each of his fingers.  The ones on his thumbs were hooked and resembled those of a freakishly small sloth bear although they were plainly sharp enough to slice open a man’s throat in the blink of an eye.  Deep scratches began appearing all over Rickon’s face and his lower jaw seemed to detach like that of a python about to swallow a small child whole.  His cold, blue eyes began emitting a strange light and Bran found he could barely resist the urge to look directly into them.  The pale, white skin on the monster’s face had somehow vanished and in its place were bloated lumps of decaying flesh that made Rickon look as though he’d been rotting in his grave for some time.  Fuck me!  I am so dead!  Umm...Old Gods, I know I’m an atheist, but if you were ever planning to do me a solid then now would be a great time.

“What...what happened to –” 

“You happened to me, Brandon!” 

“I’m not the one who did that to you.” 

“Mother was only doing what she thought was best for me; you were just trying to save your own worthless life.” 


“I didn’t mean –” 

“Those are going to be the last words out of your stupid mouth!”  Neither Bran nor Rickon noticed the low growl coming from behind Bran’s door...at least, not soon enough for the latter to stop Summer from bolting through the door and tackling Bran’s former brother.  Bran grabbed his only wooden stake and the hammer he brought with him when he heard the sound of a bone breaking.  *CRACK*  The loud yelp that followed made it plain whose neck had just been broken.  As Rickon pushed Summer’s dead body to the side and began to stand back up, Bran raced across the room and began furiously hammering the stake into Rickon’s heart before he even realized what he was doing. 

Arya and Rickon’s screams soon grew so loud that Sansa and Catelyn both ran up the stairs and into Bran’s room...only for Catelyn to faint again while Bran’s oldest sister added her voice to the cacophony of anger, fear, grief, and pain.  It didn’t matter though.  Bran didn’t notice anything else around him until Rickon’s body disappeared in a burst of blue flame.  Bran staggered back in surprise and when the flames disappeared, there was nothing left of his brother or the monster he’d become except for a small pile of dust. 

“Mother, where’s Rickon,” asked Robin. 

“Brandon murdered your brother; he killed my son.  He is a very bad man and I don’t want you to ever go near him, Robin.  He likes murdering innocent children; do you understand,” asked Arya in a voice that seemed to burn with tranquil fury.  Bran knew all too well that if there was any of his sister left inside of the blue-eyed monster, that this flat, emotionless voice was merely the prelude to an explosion of pure, undiluted anger. 

“He...umm...he attacked me and...stay calm.  Remember, you...you can’t come in here.”  I know that look, it means...Shit!  Shit!  Shit!  SHIT! 

“YOU,” hissed Arya, pointing her left index-finger at Bran.  When she spoke that word, Arya’s voice was bitter as the biting winds of a winter blizzard and a quick glance at her cruel, blue eyes made it plain that despite the tears pouring down her pale cheeks, she had already been consumed by a murderous rage.

“Please, don’t hurt me...”

“Bran, groveling has been ‘out’ for the past three weeks.” 

“SHUT UP,” Bran and the monster outside his bedroom window shouted in unison. 

“You...you murdered my youngest son.  Rickon; he...he should’ve been your brother.  He didn’t even get to live...not really.  Brandon, how...how could you? 
How could you steal him from me like that?” 

"Rickon was going to kill me and I don’t want to be an Other besides.” 

“Don’t you dare say his name, you stupid...stupid...ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!  I...I hate you!  And I don’t care whether you wanted to become a stupid Other or not either; you don’t matter!  None of you three do...not really.  You only exist to feed us and to join our families if WE want you.  It’s not up to you, idiot.  I could have saved Rickon if he’d have just let me come in with him.  Why couldn’t he ever listen to me like Robin and Shireen?  How was I supposed to protect him from...from...you if he never listens to me?  Mothers shouldn’t have to watch their children die.”

“My brother didn’t want to be an Other either, not even after you made him one.  If you didn’t turn him into one, he’d still be alive, most like.” 

“SHUT UP!  You’re just a stupid...you...you...big stupidhead!  I...I don’t want a murderer like you in my family.  I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you from him, Rickon!  I didn’t mean to be a bad mother,” sobbed Arya.  “I’m not going to kill you tonight.  I’d do it too quickly, most like.  Tomorrow night, you are going to pay for what you did to Rickon; you stupid, child-killing monster.  I hate you!  I hate you!  I HATE YOU!  I am going to kill you slowly and I will never forgive you for what you did.  I’ll be back to create my mother...and for you.  See you, Brandon.  See you reeeeaaaaaaal soon.”  Suddenly, Arya and Robin disappeared into a thick mist and when it cleared, they were both gone.

“Well, fuck!” 

“Brandon Jay Stark!  Swearing at people may be ‘in’ this year, but using swear words as exclamations is most certainly ‘out.’”  Maybe this could be a good thing, after all.  Whenever Arya finally kills me; I’ll be free.  I better not be stuck with all of you people in some sort of stupid afterlife!

Chapter Text

Roose

If the bastard would seriously consider acting on his patricidal urges, it would be sufficient cause to end the abomination, I think, Lord Bolton decided as he looked through the darkest corners of Ramsay’s mind after turning yet another Sparrow into a mindless, feral beast.  The Lord of the Dreadfort scanned the minds of his other two children as he snapped some other pious fool’s neck, but neither of them were even thinking about him at the moment.  In truth, Lord Bolton would’ve gladly killed any of his offspring if the fools would only give him a sufficient excuse...and were there not so few of their kind, he might’ve killed them all as a matter of principle.  My children... In truth, they are each problematic in their own ways; I fear not of them are fit to lead our family should I die.

Domeric should have been a worthy heir; he was my first child and before I gave him new life, he had all of the necessary qualities.  And he has survived far longer than anyone other than myself besides.  I fear he changed after I made him and not for the better.  Now he is little more than an sniveling sycophant with delusions of grandeur who is plainly far too weak to ever be anything other than a follower.  A clever follower in his way, but a follower all the same.

The bastard is strong enough to lead, that much is certain, but I fear his temperament will not serve.  *CRACK*  Lord Bolton snapped another neck and the few remaining Sparrows screamed as their former friends fell upon them and tore out their throats.  Ramsay has always been rather short-sighted and I fear he lacks even the self-restraint to grasp why it would be an act of madness to murder both of his siblings the moment that I die. 

Arya lacks the experience to lead herself through an open doorway, much less to lead our family in my absence.  Worse, she has found a way to create as many children as she would like and I have no way of determining what any of those wretched creatures are thinking.  No doubt one of them will turn on us someday given their mother’s incompetence.  They will expect her to lead them and that will not serve, I think.  It is known that by sparing the rod as she plainly intends to when raising the incestuous abominations, one will inevitably spoil the child.  I fear I shall have to keep a close eye upon all of my grandchildren whenever possible.  In truth, it would ordinarily be beneficial for our family to grow so rapidly, but that fool keeps choosing children who will never grow nor amount to anything more than a collection of useless mouths to feed.  Mayhaps it would be best to kill her and her offspring before their numbers increase and...no; I fear there are still too few of us.  In truth, even a member of the weaker sex could prove to be a suitable heir with a few centuries of experience, assuming Arya lives that long.  Even then, several adjustments would be necessary, I think.  The fool plainly admires and looks up to the bastard and this will not serve.  At least her loyalty is beyond reproach...

“BACK!  BACK, I SAY,” shouted an old man.  The balding, rail-thin man entered the sept shortly and began waving around a strange wooden staff with a seven-pointed star on the top as Lord Bolton finished draining the last of the sparrows.  A senile fool with a walking stick, most like.  I fear that this town has been a bitter disappointment; I’d hoped draining the local clergy would prove amusing than shooting fish in a barrel. 

“Kill him,” Lord Bolton replied mildly, glancing at the blue-eyed, feral creatures that had once used this place as a house of worship for their false Gods.  The old man’s staff began to glow and the whimpering dogs scampered away, hissing and howling.  I should’ve broken all of their necks.  He’s just an old man, nothing more and nothing less. Lord Bolton’s lips twisted into a thin smile and he licked his fangs as the answer came to him.  It is the seven-pointed star on the fool’s walking stick, most like.  For some reason, religious symbols and artifacts could have a repelling effect upon Others who believed in that faith prior to being given the gift of immortality and the creatures cowering in the corner were considerably weaker than any Bolton.  Mayhaps this town will provide me with a few minor amusements after all...

“My father oft told me that I would someday be confronted with The Great Other’s champion.  He saw things...he had visions, as you are no doubt aware.  Some called him mad, spat upon him, mocked our faith, they even called me a cult leader.  Where are they now?  Amongst your victims, I’m quite certain.  Their false Gods will not save them, but with the strength of the Warrior, I shall cast you back down into the deepest of the Seven Hells.  You shall return to the fiery pit from which you emerged for your kind are powerless against truly devout man of The Faith.  Those men you killed were men whose souls I was trying to save and yet I fear they still had wickedness in their hearts.  Take Brother Lancel over there; his soul was as light as feather.  Even so, you plainly preyed upon whatever small shred of unholy lust remained in that poor young man’s heart and used it to turn him into that twisted gargoyle cowering in the corner.  His soul has been eternally damned, but make no mistake, I shall avenge Brother Lancel and every other man of The Faith whose soul you have claimed for The Great Other.  You are powerless against me, monster.  I am a man without sin and have been for some time.”  Fool.  Is everyone in this town a bloody half-wit?  I suppose I should count myself fortunate that Arya did not choose this deluded fool to be one of her progeny.  And even if any of your babbling were based in reality, you are plainly no more without sin than anyone else.  Any man who would declare himself without sin is plainly as vain and arrogant as he is foolish.  Even my children and I would never deny that our actions fall outside the antiquated value system established by these primitive parasites, I think. 

Of course, the strong will always be entitled to ignore the legal and theological moralizing of the weak; this is the very foundation for natural selection.  We are the strong and you are the weak.  In truth, I am simply an agent of the natural evolutionary process.  I’ve even been gracious enough to allow a chosen few to join me and by helping them discard their humanity so that they may realize their true potential.  I fear Arya does not understand our purpose and has been letting her personal whims dictate whom she grants the gift of new life.  She should only be making children whom she believes will strengthen our race.

“Mayhaps.  And your name is?” 

“I am but one humble soul amongst the many.  My name is of no great consequence.”    

“As you say.  How would you have me address you,” asked Lord Bolton, slowly gliding toward the rambling, old man.

“I am known as the High Sparrow.” 

“Not for much longer, I think,” replied Lord Bolton mildly.  The Lord of the Dreadfort grabbed the old fool’s walking stick and howled in pain as his right hand burst into blue flame and turned to dust.  In one swift motion, the Lord of the Dreadfort crushed the High Sparrow’s windpipe with his remaining hand and the pain vanished as quickly as it had appeared.  Does that fool think hands simply grow on trees?  Lord Bolton growled at the stump that was once his right hand and began stomping on the dead man until it cracked open.  If any of my kin cause me any further aggravation before the night is through, I fear I will be forced to kill the whole lot of them...

...

Stannis

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*

“FOR THE LAST TIME, SELYSE, OPEN THE BLOODY DOOR,” Stannis shouted, grinding his teeth as he emerged from his study.  I must needs finish The Civil War tonight and I’m only on episode three.  The bloody documentary will be due back at the library tomorrow and I’ll never finish the damn thing tonight if whoever’s outside doesn’t stop ringing our damn doorbell.  Others take whoever keeps ringing the damn thing!

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*


“But –”

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*

“If that doorbell rings one more time –”

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*

“YOU OPEN IT,” screamed Selyse.” 

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*

“A man’s home is his castle.  As long as I’m the only one paying the bills in this bloody house, you’ll open the door whenever I tell you to open it.  Do I make myself clear?  And you’re already downstairs besides,” shouted Stannis.  “With any luck, the police have found Shireen.  They could be standing out there right –” 

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*

“That hideous, wicked little monster is the one ringing the doorbell, Stan.  I’m not letting that circus freak into our house ever again!  The ungrateful beast had the nerve to ask me why she had to wear a bag over her head this morning.  You’d think she’d never looked in a mirror before, not that I blame –”

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*

“Seven Hells, how many times have told you not to call me ‘Stan?’  Wait...our daughter is outside?” 

“Of course she is, why do you think I haven’t opened the door?” 

“SELYSE, IF YOU DON’T OPEN THE BLOODY DOOR RIGHT NOW, I SWEAR BY ALL THE GODS I’LL FILE FOR A DIVORCE THE MINUTE I FINISH RETURNING THESE BLOODY DVDS TO THE LIBRARY!” 

*DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*  *DING-DONG*

Suddenly, Selyse let out a scream loud enough render a man deaf.  Stannis raced downstairs to find Shireen floating in the air and holding his trembling wife’s head in her tiny hands...only it wasn’t really his daughter.  It was some cold, dead thing with pale skin and cruel eyes.  The look on creature’s face was as bitter and unforgiving as a winter blizzard.  Neither the monster nor Selyse seemed to notice Stannis’ presence as they looked deep into each other’s eyes.  This is impossible; there are rules to life.  Others, Snarks, Grumpkins, and the like are...they’re not real; they never have been and they never will be!  Stannis tried to do...something, only to find himself frozen in place – whether it was due to fear, shock, or something else entirely, he could not say – as the creature licked up the drops of blood dripping from Selyse’s nose. 

Mayhaps...mayhaps that thing is Shireen.  I always knew there would be a reckoning for our sins.  I knew that the Lord of Light would punish us someday for having a child out of wedlock, but I never thought...  Damn you, Robert!  Why did I let you get drunk enough to do it?  If it weren’t for you, I never would’ve slept with Selyse.  I never wanted any children and I don’t even remember most of the damn night. 

I’ve always tried to live my life in accordance with the will of the One True God ever since; I...I even married the wretched woman and wouldn’t let her abort the cursed child.  I thought that this marriage was my punishment for the sins of my youth.  Was Selyse right?  Was Shireen always a wicked child?  Could I have simply been too blind to see it?   No, this...this is wrong.  Selyse already beat the child every day and I...I did...I did what I could, not that it mattered.  What was that girl thinking when she called 9-1-1?  She couldn’t truly have expected me to betray my own wife by telling the police what had happened.  Suddenly, a sickly sweet voice pulled the eldest surviving Baratheon out of his mind and back into the impossible scene unfolding before him. 

“I’ve never seen someone look so sad and blue; why the long face?  This is a wonderful night, so turn that frown of yours upside down!” 

“Upside...upside down,” moaned Selyse. 

“That’s right!  See, pretend mother?  That’s better, isn’t it?  Of course it is!  You know what they say: ‘Everything’s better with a smile,’” exclaimed the creature as two long fangs swung forward and forced its mouth open.  “Oh no, no, no, no, those tears simply won’t do.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I see you in there trying to start crying again, yes I do.  Oh well!  Anyways, I have a new mother now...a mother who will love me no matter what and doesn’t care even one teensy, weensy little bit how my face looks.  You should be happy too, sweet miss.  You’re finally rid of me!  This is just what you’ve always wanted, isn’t it?” 


“What...tut...tut...what I...I...I’ve all day...a...a...always want..want..want...wanted,” droned Selyse in a flat, emotionless voice that made her sound as though she was no more than any empty shell.  More blood flowed out of both of the dying woman’s nostrils and she blurted some sort of gibberish that Stannis couldn’t understand.

“Oh dear, did I fry your fragile widdle brains all over again?  Gee willikers, I just can’t seem to stop giving fake mommy brain aneurysms, huh?  Awww shucks, now the blood is coming out of your big old ears too.  I just gave you another one, didn’t I?  Ooopsy daisy!  Why are you drooling?  OH BOY, I just gave you a seizure too, didn’t I?  I really want to thank you and your frazzled, sazzled lil’ brain for making this the absolute bestest night ever!  Don’t worry, fake mother; I’m not going to kill you just yet.  Nights like this don’t come often and revenge can’t be taken in haste besides.  You have to really savor the moment and take the time to enjoy the other person’s frowny face.  Patience is awful important, don’t ya know?  Luckily for us, I’ve got all night to play with you...  You know something, not mother?  I never realized how big your stupid old ears were until now.  From now on, your new name is Dumbo!” 


“Dumbo,” groaned Selyse as Stannis began scanning the room for some sort of weapon...ideally one that he could use to impale the monster in the chest. 

“I’m oh so very glad you like it!  You deserve a little happiness before I smash your stupid, no-good head like watermelon with my bare hands.  You know what they say: ‘Pop goes the weasel!’” 

“Pop cop mop sop fop lop pop cop mop sop lop glop pop cop –” 

“Oh dear, did I break big bad Selyse Baratheon all my lonesome?  No, that can’t be right, can it?  After all, I’m just useless little freak, right?  RIGHT?  WHERE ARE YOUR FUCKING GOLF CLUBS NOW, YOU EVIL BITCH,” screamed the creature.  Seven Hells, it really is her... 

“Oops, sorry fake momsy.  I got a widdle bit carried away there for just an itty bitsy second.  Do you know what the best part is?  I can still see a little bit of you hiding in there and trying oh so very hard to escape.  I guess I’ll have to cook your brains even more, won’t I?  After all, if we don’t kill whatever’s left of you, it might regain control juuuuussssst long enough for you to scream for help and we can’t have AAARRRGGHHH.”  The bronze lamp Stannis threw didn’t incapacitate the monster as he’d hoped, although blue blood began pouring down the left side of its head.  It did, however, end the life of Selyse Baratheon.  The creature shoved its hands together in surprise and crushed Selyse’s head, raining blood and brain matter all over the carpet.  Stannis watched in horror as his wife’s headless corpse fell to the ground.  *THUD*

“What was...no!  NO!  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO,” screamed the monster as it began to cry.  “I wasn’t...wasn’t r-r-r-ready yet.  I wanted to bring her b-back at the...at the very end.  No fair,” whimpered the thing that was once Shireen.  Suddenly, the monster’s head spun around and the anger on its face turned to mischievous delight when it saw who had thrown the lamp. 

“I was wondering when you’d show up.  I was afraid you weren’t home, Stan.” 

“My name is Stannis!” 

“Sorry, Stanley.” 

“Whatever you are...whichever one of the Seven Hells you came from, I never laid a hand on you.  The Lord of Light is a just God and my sins are not as severe as my wife’s, we both know this is true.  If you are truly a servant of the one true God, then this will count in my favor when my punishment is being delivered.” 

“Nope, you never hit me.  You just told me I was lucky not to be aborted, sided with pretend mother after I called the police because she hit me in the head with a golf club, and didn’t say even one measly little word when your friends snickered and mocked me.  Are you ready father?  I’m about to give you the judgment of the God: she sentences you to DEATH,” screeched Shireen as she raced through the air toward her former father.  Stannis instinctively grabbed the nearest object – an umbrella – and barely managed ram it into the blue-eyed monster’s mouth before the creature could slice open his throat with its razor-sharp fangs.  Shireen was flying so fast that the umbrella went right through her head and out the back of her head. 
She darted backward in surprise and Stannis watched in shock as the creature slowly pulled the umbrella out of its head and through its mouth before tossing it aside without the slightest sign that it was in pain. 

“You shouldn’t have done that, fake father.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Now I’m going to have to punish –”  Suddenly, a strange, sad look appeared upon Shireen’s face. 

“Sorry, pretend papa; I can’t play anymore.  Mother’s calling and I need to run some errands before sunrise.  See you tomorrow night...”  Without another word, the blue-eyed monster disappeared in a thick mist.  What the Seven Hells just happened?  I need to figure out a way to kill that bloody thing as soon as I return those damn DVDs to the library tomorrow!

Chapter Text

Balon

“How could you let this happen, father?  He was my best friend,” whimpered Theon as he stared at Robb’s dead body.  You always were a disappointment to me; how did I ever have a son like that?  Asha will lead our family once I die. *CREAK*  *CREAK*  If she can be bothered to stop fucking complete strangers long enough to be of use, that is, Balon thought to himself with a sigh. 

“KEEP IT DOWN; IF I HEAR YOU AND THAT BLUE-EYED CUNT GOING AT IT AGAIN, I SWEAR BY THE DROWNED GOD THAT I’LL KILL THE BOTH OF YOU!”  The creaking from upstairs mercifully stopped.   

“He was my friend ever since we were little and you promised –”

“Don’t remind me,” grunted Balon.  “And don’t look at me that way either, you menopausal marsupial.  We both know it was only a matter of time before that idiot overdosed.  Look him; he’s got track marks all over his arms.” 

“You promised you’d make uncle Euron stop selling him –” 

“And now that he’s dead; I can’t very well sell him any more dope now, can I,” snickered Euron. 

“You...you can’t *sniff* talk to me...that...that w-way.  I...I...I’m going to *sniff* lead our f-family some...someday.”  You couldn’t lead an ant to a sugar bowl.  Seven Hells, I knew I should’ve forced your mother to get an abortion.  Before long, Victarion and Euron were laughing uncontrollably as that pathetic, weeping worm who somehow still had the nerve to call himself a Greyjoy began to cry.  My son.  A sick joke if there ever was one!  Euron’s nothing but a God damn faggot and even he’s more of a man than you’ll ever be; I wish you were dead...or at least a woman.  If Asha were a boy and you were a girl, at least there would be some explanation for this madness.

“Shut up,” Theon mumbled.

“What’d you say,” asked Euron, his smile widening ever so slightly.  “I believe I just asked you a question, boy,” growled the Crow’s Eye as he began slowly approaching his nephew.  Euron’s eye – the real one, not the glass eye with that bloody crow carved into it – began to shine and anyone who knew the depraved lunatic knew that this was no different than a rattle snake giving one final warning...and like a rattle snake the bloody madman might kill you anyway even if you backed down.  Theon, you dumb fuck, can’t you do anything right?  For once in your worthless life, you decide to challenge a man and you pick a trigger-happy madman who had his left eye removed and replaced with a glass one to show his devotion to some football team from Texas.  Worse, those damn Austin Crows Euron loves so much aren’t even a real football team.  Australian football...who ever heard of such a thing?  Anyone who prefers that abomination to actual football has to be out of their fucking mind.  Euron certainly is... 

What do you expect him to do, boy?  Apologize for hurting your feelings?  Can it really be that you were the fastest of all the sperm I squirted into your mother on whatever wretched night you were conceived?  Did the others give you a ten day head-start out of pity?  What a disgrace!  No wonder you and that pathetic junkie were such good friends.  Theon would fit right in with the rest of those stuck-up Starks cunts, most like.

If you had the half the wits the Gods gave a turnip you’d only say “shut up” someone you’re actually capable of beating...like a stillborn fetus.  Of course, I’d still put my money on the fetus.  Has any father ever had to acknowledge such a miserable, cowardly, feminine creature as his son?  It’s almost enough to make a man wish his wife had been giving him horns; at least then I could cut the so-called boy’s throat before he disgraces the Greyjoy name any further. 

You’ve already run away from one shootout with the police because you were too craven to stay and fight like your older brothers.  They may both be rotting in the ground, but they took 14 pigs with them first.  I still don’t know how they got their hands on a bloody RPG launcher or why the fuck my sons were robbing banks in Highgarden Hills, but I do know that I will never be prouder than I was the first time that I saw the footage of my two oldest blowing up a police helicopter.  I even dared to hope that Theon might’ve done something right for once and died fighting like his brothers did.  Those two may’ve been hopeless fuck-ups, but they were real men and they died like real men.  Now Asha’s the closet thing I have to...wait, is he...put the God damned knife away, Euron.  I hate Theon more than you will ever know, but you really are out of your fucking mind if you think I’m going to let you murder my own flesh and blood.

Before Balon had time to worry about how he was going to keep his brother from murdering his idiot son, Asha screamed...and not the way she’d been screaming earlier either.  This was a sound Balon had oft heard, but never from either of his children, not even Theon.  It was the sound of one who knew they were about die in the worst possible way.  It was the way that junkies who tried to raid the Greyjoy family’s warehouses would scream after Balon and Victarion abducted them and locked them in a room with Euron.  It was in that moment that Balon knew his daughter was dead and that the pale-skinned fuck she’d brought home with her was responsible.  There would be no grief, no mourning, and no funeral...there would only be blood.  Seven Hells, why couldn’t you have killed Theon instead? 

As Victarion, Euron, and Balon all drew their guns and Theon scuttled behind the couch, a thick mist appeared out of nowhere and slowly flowed down the stairs.  When it disappeared, the blue-eyed shit Asha had brought into her father’s home was standing at the foot of the stairs grinning like a bloody madman.  The bastard’s face was covered in blood and he was holding Asha’s severed head by her hair with his left hand.  There was something different about him...his skin looked a touch paler and his blue eyes seemed to shine with a mischievous cruelty that hadn’t been there when he arrived half-an-hour ago...not that Balon paid any attention to him at the time.  The little shit was still wearing those two idiotic belt holsters of his and they made him look the villain from some low-budget, direct-to-video 80s gangster movie. 

Before any of the Greyjoy brothers had time to get off a single shot, the blue-eyed cunt threw Asha’s head at Victarion.  Naturally, the bloody fool instinctively dropped his gun and caught his niece’s severed head...only for it to bite his left hand.  Or rather, it appeared to bite him; Victarion fell to the ground before Balon could tell for sure.  Before Balon even had time to remind himself that what he’d just seen was impossible, he felt two bullets hit him in the chest.  As the eldest Greyjoy fell to the ground, a third one hit Euron directly in the center of his forehead, killing him instantly.  Despite his best efforts, Balon couldn’t keep himself from screaming in pain. 

“I don’t see what you’re so upset about; a man your age can’t have had that much longer to live.  Oh is it that I killed your entire family?  I did, didn’t I?  Even so, it’s hardly some sort of great loss.  Even your daughter...niece...what was the name of the one with tits,” the pale-skinned man asked cheerfully. 

“FUCK...FUCK YOU!” 

“No, that wasn’t it.” 

“I’m going...you’re dead!  I’m going to kill...kill you!” 

“Is this the part where you tell me it’s only a flesh wound?  Hmm...where was I?  Ah yes!  I suppose it doesn’t really matter which member of your family I just fucked and turned into a rabid dog.  Russia?  Geisha?  Persia?  Inertia?  Doesn’t matter what her name is either, to tell you the truth.” 

“Asha.” 

“Whatever.  The point is that whoever the bitch is...was, she was a terrible lay, truly.  Now I’m nothing if not fair, so I’ll grant you that this was something of an experiment on part.  Domeric’s son always said I’d be easier to get along with if I tried fucking a woman every now and then.  Well...I suppose he stopped saying that after the insufferable cunt got himself killed by being a bit too careless around a pool of gasoline, but after a few centuries of hearing something you start wondering if there might be any truth to it...even if it comes from someone who was such an arrogant little prick that not even his father was sad to see him go.  Alas, I’m afraid this whole fucking someone who wants you to fuck them business just doesn’t do it for me.  Mayhaps the problem is that I didn’t rape her; what do you think?”  Balon spat blood at the pale-skinned man’s feet, but offered nothing else in response. 

“Come now, aren’t you going to say something?  Don’t you know how rude it is to ignore one’s guests?  Bleeding out already?  I suppose I’ll let him clean that up,” the pale cunt sighed, glancing at Victarion’s corpse.  “Your whole family is awfully boring, did you know that?  Even shitting on the memory of your dead family members while you bleed to death isn’t any fun.”  Suddenly, there was a whimpering noise from behind the couch and the pale man raced across the room.  As the blue-eyed cunt began dragging Theon out of his hiding place, Balon forced himself to crawl toward his gun.  Bloody coward!  I should shoot Theon as soon as I put a bullet in this bastard’s God damn head. 

“And just what do we have here,” asked the pale-skinned man, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  “Yes, that’s more like it!  Why didn’t anyone tell me you had this remarkable young man hidden away?  The name’s Ramsay, but...hmm...you know I never really cared for any of that ‘Master’ shit although I suppose I’ll make an exception in your case.  And what might your name be?  No wait, don’t tell me!  You’re going to call me ‘Master’ from now on, so it’s only fair that you get a new name too.  I know!  From now on your name shall be ‘Reek.’  Good?  Good.  It’s important that we hash out these little details, don’t you think?  After all, we’re going to be spending quite a bit of time together from now on.  I’ve been looking for a new Reek for quite some time and...well...you certainly are my type.”


“Please don’t hurt me!  I mean...I...I mean...FATHER!  You...you’re h-h-hurt,” stammered Theon.  There you go again, always worrying about the wrong things like a bloody fool.  Why couldn’t you have just done us all a favor and come out of your mother as a fucking stillborn? 

“It should...should’ve been...should’ve been you,” moaned Balon as he finally managed to grab his late brother’s gun.  Somehow, the eldest Greyjoy managed to keep his hands steady long enough to shoot Ramsay in the back of the head, but the bastard hardly seemed to notice.  That’s impossible...  And why the fuck is his blood blue?

“How...what are...but you...you should be –”

“Dead?  You still don’t get it, do you, old man?  Oh well, it looks like your problems will be over soon anyway,” replied Ramsay as Victarion’s body began to move.  He’s alive? 

And yet somehow it wasn’t Victarion...not really.  The body had Ramsay’s pale blue eyes and was cautiously walking around the room on all fours.  Suddenly, Victarion – or whatever damn thing was using his dead body – began to slowly approach his brother, growling like a rabid dog.  Ramsay ran his right index finger across the bullet wound in the back of his head until it was covered in blue blood and the eldest Greyjoy watched in confusion as the pale-skinned cunt forced the blood soaked finger into Theon’s mouth.  It was the last thing Balon saw before the creature that was once Victarion Greyjoy ripped out his throat.

...

Alliser

I hate this damn place; I shouldn’t even be here, Detective Thorne fumed as he stormed over to his desk.  I used to be Police Commissioner in a real city and now look at me.  One “racially insensitive” remark and all of my so-called friends dropped me like a bad habit.  Mayhaps I shouldn’t have told reporters that the most effective way to prevent violent crime would be to lock up every Wildling in the country and throw them into the sea; I should’ve known the media elites would have me in their crosshairs after that, but I shouldn’t have been forced to resign over it.  The whole thing was a left-wing hatchet job; it was no different than their smear campaign against that Fuhrman fellow in California.  I had to move all the way out here to the bloody boondocks just to find work. 

Jeor Mormont, now there was a man you could be proud to serve under.  He understood that what I said was taken completely out of context and let me work my way all the way up to the number two position in the department.  Second chances like that don’t come often; this town may’ve been a drug-infested backwater back then, but there were rules...and good men fighting the good fight.  A man could still be a force for good here back when Mormont ran the department.  Now there are no more rules, not anymore. 

It wasn’t that there was any more crime than there was before – in truth, Winter Falls was always a morally bankrupt cesspool of a city – but the crimes that were committed after Chief Mormont’s murder seemed to get worse with each passing day.  The drug-dealers started torturing their enemies to death instead of simply shooting them.  The corrupt city officials dropped any pretense of using their positions for anything other than their own personal enrichment at everyone else’s expense.  And the murders were somehow even more senseless and gruesome than anything Detective Thorne had ever seen in his life prior to Chief Mormont’s death. 

Just two hours ago, Officer Trant and the near-mute brute he’d been partnered called in to report that someone had broken into Vance Poole’s farm and hung the man’s daughter from a nearby tree by her arms while her parents were out of town.  While it was obviously to early to say for sure, the murderer or murderers didn’t appear to have stolen anything or raped the poor girl, but whoever killed her did take the time to cut off the poor girl’s face and crudely sew it onto her chest.  Apparently, the stitches were so crooked that even Officer Moore commented on them.  That alone would’ve been bad enough, but it wasn’t even the worst – or strangest – way in which the late Jeyne Poole's body had been desecrated. 

The rest of the Poole girl’s head had been cut off and a de-boned horse’s head had been nailed to her body in its place.  The horse’s headless corpse had been left to rot in the barn.  The horse's skull and brain – both of which had somehow been removed from its head – were sitting in a pool of blood next to the poor beast's dead body; none of the other animals in the barn appeared to have been harmed.  As for the girl’s head it was right next to the tree...except for her eyes, ears, and tongue.  For some reason, the killer had seen fit to cut those out and leave them in the family’s mailbox.  The words “Whorse Face” were written in blood on the front door of Mr. Poole’s home.  “Whorse face.”  What the fuck does that even mean?  Seven Hells, how does someone even come up with something like that?  Did some nut just break into that poor girl’s house, butcher her like a hog, and then mutilate the body in every way they could think of just for kicks?  This is a Wildling's work, most like!  Bloody savages.  What is this wretched world coming to?  And where the fuck are those two rats anyway?  There may be a citywide blackout, but it shouldn’t take Trant and Moore this long to get back. 

What else can you expect from a place that would elect Tywin fucking Lannister to be its Mayor.  How the fuck does any town – even a trash heap like this one – elect a bloody drug dealer to the highest elected office in the city?  Naturally half the police department was happy to take his damned money and the other half...well...we started taking it after one of Chief Mormont’s own men blow his brains out.  The Lannister cunt demoted me and gave my job to Gregor the so-called Mountain as soon as he finished make that bloody coward Janos Slynt Chief of Police.  The Mountain.  More like Gregor the Gorilla, I say.  It wasn’t that men such as Detective Thorne were corrupt; even a fool could surely see that he was nothing like the Cleganes.  Rather, it was simply that every man needed to take a little money after Chief Mormont’s death so that those in power knew they weren’t going to rock the boat too much, even if you complained from time-to-time.  You needed to take a little so men like Chief Slynt and Mayor Lannister didn’t feel threatened enough to put you six feet underground.  Even so, Detective Thorne could not deny that the hellhole in which he resided still had one redeeming feature.   

Say what you will about Winter Falls, but it’s the only place I’ve ever been where people truly seem to understand that Wildlings are a cancer on our nation.  Most of them understand it, at least.  Even here, a the Wildlings have a few useful idiots who would see us welcome the savages onto land that is rightfully ours.  They say that Snow boy is  even fucking some Wildling whore.  Damn traitor!  Oversensitive cunts like him are why I lost my old job.  The only good thing you can say for him and Officer Piggy is that they were two stupid to take any bribes even after Chief Mormont got shot.  I suppose that takes a certain sort of idiotic courage.  Wait a minute... 

Does that Wildling-fucker think he’s better than me?  Is that the way of it?  Does he think I haven’t heard the rumors about how he came into the world?  It’s a sad day when an honest man’s reward is to be looked down upon by a bleeding heart bastard and his pet pig.  Seven Hells, was what I said really so bad that I deserved to suffer such humiliations?

And I didn’t even say anything that wasn’t true besides.  Most of the Wildlings are rapers or thieves, and the ones that aren’t are probably here illegally anyway.  Everyone knows this, but of course no one is man enough to say it because apparently all these foreign gang-bangers are really just misunderstood, sensitive little snowflakes and it might hurt their feelings or some such madness. 

Of course, it used to be that even the Wildlings treated the police with respect because every man knew his place.  No one has any respect for authority anymore, that much is certain.  Even the police departments have been infected; how else could someone like Officer Piggy have ever been given a badge and gun?  Detective Thorne rolled his eyes in disgust. 

Political correctness is ruining this bloody country!  In a sensible world, we’d have a 100-foot wall to keep any more of those God damned Wildlings from crossing the border.  The bloody Wildlings should pay for it, I say.  Call it reparations for all the damage their kind have already done to this country.  They’re like a bloody swarm of ants flooding over the border every single day.  No, not ants; those bastards are more like cockroaches.  If even one of the fuckers pops up in a city; there are bound to be more lurking in the shadows, scuttling about while we sleep, and stealing food that doesn’t belong to them.  It’s a damn invasion, that’s what it is!  If I had my way, we’d just exterminate the lot of them, build a bloody wall, and be done with it.  *CRASH*  What the fuck was that?

...

Chief Slynt, the Cleganes, Detective Tollett, Detective Pyke, Detective Mallister and several others were already there by the time Detective Thorne made his way over to the front of the station.  It turned out that some pale-skinned idiot named Domeric Bolton had crashed his car right into the police station.  The Wildling-fucker cuffed the prick and brought him inside...then the whole world seemed to descend into chaos in the blink of an eye.  The moment he entered the station, Domeric snapped the cuffs apart with a quick flick of his wrists, grabbed the Stark bastard and his pet pig, and smashed their heads together so hard that both of their scalps split wide open.  Both men appeared to die instantly although it was impossible to say for sure. 

As the dead men began leaking blood and brain-matter all over the floor, a hailstorm of bullets tore through the pale-skinned man.  Not only did the man – or whatever he was – not seem to notice the bullets; he leapt across the room and bit the elder Clegane on the neck.  Before long, the Mountain’s eyes turned blue as his attacker released him, pulled what looked like two long fangs out of his neck.  Suddenly, the Mountain grabbed Denys Mallister by the leg and began biting the poor man while the pale-skinned...thing sung its fangs into Cotter Pyke’s neck, paying no attention to the bullets flying through every inch of its body.  Soon half of Winter Falls’ police department were eating the other half and then they were all dead or worse...all except for Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, Alliser Thorne, and Edd Tollett who did the only thing they could do once they emptied their guns: they ran for their lives before any of the monsters noticed they were missing. 

Chapter Text

Tyrion

Tyrion Lannister: High School history teacher by day, depraved alcoholic by night.  I rather like the sound of that, Mayor Lannister’s youngest son thought to himself with a chuckle as he stumbled out of The Giantsbane Pub.  Why is it that all of the successful Wildling businesses are restaurants?  It wasn’t just The Giantsbane Pub either; there was also McRayder’s, Styr Fried Steakhouse, and The True North Market.  The Wildlings tend to be far more interesting than any of their customers; I’ll give them that much.  Of course, you don’t need an MBA to figure out Tormund Giantsbane’s secret.  If I handled the day-to-day management of the only whorehouse in Winter Falls for Petyr Baelish and it was in the building right next to my bar, I’d never need to ask father for money again.  I should be so lucky... 

Normally, Tyrion would’ve spent the whole night at The Giantsbane Pub...at least, until he finally passed out.  Alas, tonight his favorite establishment was filled with the sort of men Tyrion always tried to avoid drinking with and not just because they called him “the Imp” and “The Giant of Lannister” near as much as some of the children in the classes he taught.  Men like Ned Stark – last seen passing out on a toilet in the men’s room after fighting his barstool to a draw – whose propensity for violence seemed directly correlated to their level of intoxication were dangerous drinking companions, especially for a dwarf.  However, it was the quietest man in the bar whose presence ultimately convinced Tyrion to leave the establishment. 

He’d never seen the blue-eyed man in Winter Falls before and the latter didn’t order anything or utter so much as a single word.  The man simply sat down and began watching the various patrons like a crocodile patiently waiting for a water buffalo to take four or five more steps toward the edge of a river.  There was something about the blue-eyed man that frightened Tyrion in the worst way although he couldn’t have articulated just what that thing was if his life depended upon it.  All Tyrion knew was that he wanted to leave the bar as soon as possible, so he did.  I suppose it’s no great loss; I can always continue my march toward liver cirrhosis on father’s couch.  Wait a minute, is that...what if the boy saw me?  Seven Hells, the bloody idiot probably try to talk to me again.  I can think of no surer way to ruin the evening...aside from spending a bit of quality time with my dear father and sweet sister, of course.  It’s bad enough that I will have to teach him in another year or two, but I will not suffer him when I’m not even getting paid for my trouble, Tyrion fumed as he waddled into a nearby alley and prayed that neither of the two children on the other side of the street saw him.

Fortunately, Robin Arryn and Arya Stark – or as the shortest drunk in Winter Falls called them “Rain Man and his beastly babysitter” – stayed on their side of the street and passed right by without so much as looking in Tyrion’s direction.  Bloody Starks.  I suppose I can only pray that Rickon takes after his oldest sister in temperament.  Of course, I could always get lucky.  After all, I never had to teach the oldest one; I suppose that’s what happens when one drops out after failing to pass the fifth grade on twice.  Doesn’t the poor boy know that the third time’s the charm? 

To be fair, not all the Starklings were hellbent on sucking every last drop of joy out of my life whenever they set foot in my classroom.  Well, I suppose that’s not entirely fair.  Sansa Stark was one of the brightest students I’ve ever had; and she was never disrespectful or disruptive...at least, not in my classroom.  To hear Stannis and old man Luwin tell it, the girl was always texting during class or chattering away about random gossip whenever she was in the same room as Jeyne Poole or my beloved nephew.  And for the life of me, I’ll never understand why she kept staying after class and begging me to make a show of pretending she was failing every exam.  Something about good grades being “out” or some such nonsense.  And of course, Jon Stark was an agreeable enough fellow although the poor lad is the poster-child lowering the drinking age.  Assuming it doesn’t make him a bloodthirsty savage like his father, a few shots of Vodka would’ve done that one some good.  He’s too young to be so serious all the time although I’ve no doubt he has made a fine policeman.  The trouble really started with the younger ones... 

As the man who’d been tasked with teaching history to such inquiring young minds as Joffrey Baratheon while keeping himself in a near constant state of intoxication, Tyrion was no stranger to difficult students, many of whom were far worse than the youngest Starks he’d had the misfortune of teaching.  For decidedly different reasons, both Brandon and Arya Stark both had a truly remarkable talent for getting under his skin...to say nothing of Rain Man.  Robin Arryn was truly in a class of his own; the boy wasn’t even one of his students yet and Tyrion already found it difficult to resist the urge to strangle the boy on sight.  The delightful little boy started happily clapping his hands and repeatedly screaming “look it’s the little Lannister babyman” every...SINGLE...time that he saw Tyrion.

At first, Tyrion had high hopes for the youngest daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark.  Like Sansa, Arya did well in school and – while a bit disruptive at times – was generally fairly respectful...at first.  After about three weeks, Joffrey put Sansa in the hospital for the first time and from then on, Arya seemed hellbent on tormenting her history teacher in every way imaginable...and not in obvious ways either.  Plenty of students would shout names like “Dwarfenfuhrer,” “Drunkenstein,” “Implestiltkin,” and so on, but those could be easily forgotten by mixing a Four Loko with a few glasses of Scotch.  Arya Stark never called the youngest Lannister any names...well...except in the extra credit questions on her history exams which generally consisted of words to the effect of “I don’t have to answer this question if I don’t want to, idiot.  I hate you and the rest of your stupid family!”  Aside from that, the demon child simply sat right in the middle of the front row, wore angry scowls and smug smirks like warpaint, and listened attentively while never taking her eyes off of her teacher.  It oft made Tyrion feel as though he were being hunted by a crocodile, but the real torture was what happened outside of the classroom...

The little monster was very careful not to get caught smearing dog shit across the windshield of my car, stealing my keys and locking them inside of said car, or cutting the chord on my cellphone charger, but she always found ways to make it plain to me that she knew that I knew she was responsible.  And of course, there was the time she somehow managed sneak all those fucking laxatives into my lunch.  I couldn’t stop farting, throwing up, and leaving puddles of wet shit everywhere I went for the rest of my bloody birthday.  I had to take time off to get a God damn colonoscopy!  Of course, it was obvious who left an empty bottle of Magnesium Citrate on my desk the day I came back...  Bloody Starks.  It’s not my fault Joffrey’s a violent little cunt and Sansa was the one who kept coming over to father’s house to see him afterward.  And even if she just needed to blindly lash out at a member of Joffrey’s family, I’m hardly a sensible target; my dear nephew has as much affection for me as my sweet sister does. 

I suppose I did get back at the brat, at least.  I don’t think she ever did quite figure out that I convinced Tommen to be more direct in expressing his affections once I learned of them.  I can’t thank the Seven enough for putting me in a place where I could see the look of horror on that twisted little demon’s face when Tommen concluded his fine reading of the student council announcements over the P.A. system by asking her if she’d go to last year’s Winter Formal with him.  As I recall, Arya’s classmates began regularly interrupt me in the middle of class to make fun of her about that little incident and I suppose I’d be lying if I didn’t get a certain satisfaction out of seeing her confusion about my indifference to this.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought she expected me to make them stop somehow.  In any case, it was plain that I wasn’t the been the only person the little monster had made an enemy of over the years.  There were plenty of freshly sharped knives already waiting for her, that much is certain. 


I’d hoped Brandon would be an improvement and I suppose he would’ve been if he weren’t a human storm cloud constantly in search of a parade to rain on.  The boy is plainly intelligent and wise beyond his years, but he also has a truly singular ability to turn lemonade into lemons.  I suppose it’s no surprise Stannis is so fond of our fine city’s resident Eeyore,
Tyrion thought to himself with a chuckle – albeit one that could’ve easily passed for a burp – as he drunkenly waddled into his father’s mansion.

Worse, it was near impossible to say whether or not Brandon Stark shared his youngest sister’s ridiculous vendetta and as a result, it was also impossible to determine whether reaching out to the boy would make his behavior better or worse.  Whatever the reason for Brandon Stark’s animosity towards his history teacher, if Arya was fire then her brother was ice.  As clear as the demon child was about the level of contempt she had for her former history teacher, she expressed primarily through aggressive “pranks” and non-violent property damage.  With the possible exception of the laxative incident, it appeared to have been designed to simply cause extreme inconvenience.  On the other hand, Brandon seemed determined to do lasting damage even if he had been far more subtle about it with the exception of two incidents.      

Seven Hells, how is it that I am suffering more than Joffrey for the way he treats Sansa; I didn’t force her to keep seeing him and I certainly didn’t lay a hand on Sansa or any other Stark.  Tyrion was used to being hated, but to be hated because of Joffrey’s actions...to know that some people truly saw no difference between him and his dear nephew...well...that was simply too much to take.  Even if the people in question were only children; it was the ultimate reminder that he’d been cursed with all the disadvantages of being a Lannister – namely that everyone would always assume the worst of him – even as his figurative and literal stature conspired to ensure that he would never enjoy the perks that would normally come with his family name.  The absurdity of it all was enough to give even a sober man a hangover. 

My sweet sister may hate the Starks, but I imagine she’d be quite fond of Arya and Brandon.  Those three have similar interests, namely finding new and innovative ways to ensure that I never spend so much as a single day sober.  Brandon may not be as obvious about it as his sister, but he plainly shares her dedication to depriving me of all happiness for the remainder of the year.  What kind of person upon hearing the words “Good morning, class” from their teacher responds by grunting “What’s good about it?  By the way, Arya asked me to tell you to try not to shit your pants again during class this year.”

Just last week, the boy tried to get me fired by using his bloody cellphone to record me slurring my speech while I was teaching and uploading the video to youtube...and if I weren’t a Lannister, he would’ve succeeded, most like.  Jon and Sansa were such well-behaved children; one really has to wonder how Brandon – or Arya, for that matter – could ever be related to either of them.  As far as I can tell, those two have more in common with Robin the Rain Man than they do with their older siblings.  My sister would like those two Starklings, I think.  They hate me near as much as she does...

Jaime’s car was gone and there was no sign of Cersei, Myrcella, Joffrey, or Tommen...which could only be a good thing on a night like this.  With any luck father will be locked in his study by now or mayhaps even to tired bother me. No, I fear he’ll never be too tired for that.  *SMASH*  Tyrion quietly made his way up the steps to investigate the noise coming from his father’s study.  The door was wide open and for a moment, Tyrion could’ve sworn he saw Tommen ripping out Tywin’s throat with his mouth, but that was plainly ridiculous.  Seven Hells, some asshole must’ve spiked my drink at that damn bar, Tyrion decided as he quietly made his way back down the stairs and passed out on the couch in the dining room.

...

Shireen

“Mother, do I have to wear one of those dumb suits,” whined Gendry as he stormed out of Winter Falls’ Wallmart carrying six hazmat suits. You’re bothering me!  I suppose this is what I get for biting some stupid store clerk.  Shireen turned around and tried to remind herself that her mother would have to love her more than Robin for giving Arya her very first grandchild.  It’s okay if Gendry is the dumbest piece of catshit ever sprayed out of some whore’s shriveled cunt.  All that matters is how happy mother will be with me for giving her a grandson.  Parents are supposed to like that sort of thing, I think.  Now we just have to get home without any other delays and I won’t have to worry about that stupid bird-brained brat trying to steal my mother from me ever again.

“I promise it’s not that bad, dear, and the suit will protect you besides.  Please wear it; it’d make me so very happy.  Look, I’m wearing mine and –” 

“But it makes you look like a dwarf what escaped from the set of Breakin’ Bad or mayhaps a six year old in an over-sized yella’ raincoat.”  I CAN”T TAKE IT ANY MORE!  Mother made being a mom seem so easy, but it’s all take and no give with this one.  This is no fun at all, Shireen silently fumed. 

“I forgot to ask, mother, how did your face get all weird and stuff?  Also, are you sure about taking them matches?”  Can’t kill you, still need you!  Can’t kill you, still need you!  Can’t kill you, still need you!  Can’t kill you, still need you!  Unless...that’s it! 

“You...umm...you really want to know why it’s so important to wear your hazmat suit at all times?  Are you sure about that, dear?” 

“I guess so, ain’t that big a deal though.  I just don’t wanna look like a bumblebee what lost its stripes, so I’m not gonna wear my hazelnut suit or whatever them things is called.  And please don’t keep callin’ me ‘dear.’  It’s really embarrassing, mother.”  So are you! 

“Close your eyes.” 

“What?  Why?” 

“Please.” 

“Fine, but I can already tell this is going to be a waste of my time.” 

“Not for long,” Shireen cheerfully replied, lighting a match from the box in her pocket and tossing it at her son’s head.  Her pale, blue eyes widened with childish delight and the annoying little brat was reduced to a pile of ashes.  Gendry’s screams didn’t last long, but they were music to his mother’s ears all the same.  Watching the blue flames dance across her son’s body made Shireen feel like she was watching a special, secret show being performed just for her.  The flames were as wonderful and horrible as a mushroom cloud spreading across some doomed city.  The crackling of the blue flames was like a seductive whisper calling Shireen’s name and hers name alone, but she forced herself to resist the urge to light a second match and let them dance once more.  In time, more would have to burn, that much was certain...but only on special occasions. 

By now the flames were gone, but watching their destructive and unforgiving blue glow for even a few seconds was like succumbing to some sort of hypnotic, irresistibly soothing spell that had already erased all thoughts except for the image of the burning bastard covered in blue flame.  Somehow Shireen could still feel the flames burning inside of her every time she thought about it, even though her pale skin remained as cold and dead as ever.  Seeing someone burned alive...the feeling it caused was strange, incredible, exciting, and yet...somehow wrong, but that didn’t matter...nothing did...nothing except the blue flames and the symphony of screams that were truly the only good thing ever to come from her son.

Shireen opened her mouth to thank her son’s ashes for making this wonderful new feeling possible, but all that emerged was a startled whimper of delight as the inside of her Hazmat suit seemed to grow warmer and warmer.  No matter how hard Shireen tried to focus on this simple task, the image of that useless idiot being consumed by the flames would not leave her head.  The beautiful blue flames...the screams of pain...the sight of Gendry being reduced to a pile of ashes...it was all far too much to take and suddenly Shireen let out a high-pitched, nervous laugh.  Before long, she found herself giggling uncontrollably...much to her dismay.  It was as though the harder she tried to contain the stupid laughter, the louder it got and harder it was to stop imagining how wonderful it would feel to light someone else on fire.  STOP!  STOP LAUGHING LIKE THAT!  I s-sound like...sound s-s-stupid and...and...I...I...umm...I...but I...and...umm...it feels so...so... Whatever the thought was, it faded away and the nervous laughter soon gave way to low moan of pleasure.

I have to...umm...I...I have to...be discrete and...and...and...use rest-restraint.  I can’t burn...b-b-burn someone every night, Shireen reminded herself as her body began to twitch and tremble with wild delight until she collapsed to her knees.  Mother wouldn’t under...understand, most like.  She’d tell me...tell me to...to stay away from ma...mah...m-m-matches and g-g-go-OH GOD...I mean...guh-gasoline, but burn...umm...b-b-burning things isn’t so...s-s-so...OH...so bad, especially since I...I’ll only...only b-b-b-buh...FOCUS...burn people from...from now on.  I just need...need to be...need to...to be care...c-c-careful with fire.  FIRE?  Where?  I need more, I want...I...I want...wait...what’s happening to me?  STOP!  I mean...wait...no don’t or I...I can’t and...more burning, yes...I c-c-can see whole city burning...fire everywhere...more...more s-s-screaming and...and WHAT WAS THAT?  I feel...I...I...can’t...can’t think...and I...umm...I just...  Suddenly, Shireen’s eyes began to roll into the back of her head and she started grinning like an idiot the moment she felt the fire leave her body. 

At first, Shireen collapsed onto the ground and simply lay there, far too exhausted to even think about moving.  Her eyelids drooped as she tried to remember her name and what she was doing in a Wallmart parking lot.  “I...I like fire,” Shireen happily sighed.

Once she had recovered enough to stand, it was suddenly much easier to think for some reason and Shireen quietly cursed the strange, foul stench that had filled the inside of her hazmat suit.  This is disgusting!  Robin can have this suit; I’m taking one of the others.  Once she finished changing into a different hazmat suit, Shireen picked up the box of matches she’d dropped and a wicked grin spread across her face as she placed it in her pocket. 

Mother can have a flame-proof suit and she’ll be angry if I don’t bring a clean one for Robin and Rickon, but mayhaps I don’t need to bring enough back for my entire family.  After all, I haven’t even met my uncles or my grandfather.  If any of them are ever mean to me or try to steal mother, they’ll be sooooorrrrrrry...

...

It was almost morning by the time that Shireen reached the part of town where she’d been told her family was sleeping during the daytime.  There were two large crates and one smaller one, each sealed shut.  There was also another large one, a medium-sized one, and another small one, but those were all opened although someone was climbing into the large one.  Arya was pacing around the passageway nervously when Shireen arrived.  The moment she noticed that her daughter had returned, Arya raced over and began hugging Shireen so tightly that she could barely breath. 

“Seven Hells, there really is another one,” groaned the bald, grumpy-looking Other as he sat down in the large crate. 

“Shut up, you stupid...I don’t have time to argue with you right now,” snapped Arya. 

“Whatever.” 

“I thought you might’ve gotten lost and not been able to find your way here before sunrise and...  Don’t...don’t ever do that to me again!  Do you have any idea how worried I was,” asked Arya, plainly far too relieved to be angry with her daughter. 

“She may not, but the rest of us certainly do,” grumbled the bald Other.  He might’ve rolled his eyes when he spoke, but it was impossible to say for sure and no one else seemed to notice besides.  Whoever the fuck you think you are, you’d better not be making fun of me!

“I...I’m *sniff* fine, m-mother.  I just...I couldn’t...I couldn’t *sniff* s-save him.” 

“Save who?  Where were you?  Why is there blue...is that blood?  Are you sure you’re alright?  You’re not hurt or –” 

“No, I...I got away, but I *sniff* I made a s-son because *sniff* I wanted *sniff* I wanted to...I r-r-remembered that you *sniff* s-s-said to surprise you with a g-grandchild, but s-s-someone killed him.”  It took every ounce of self-restraint Shireen had to keep herself from smiling when she saw how sympathetically her mother was looking at her.  Checkmate, Robin!  You can pretend to be retarded all you want tonight, but now our mother’s going to feel sorrier for me than she does for you...at least for a little while.  That means I’ll get more attention than you for the next night or two.  Your move, asshole! 

“I...I had a grandson?” 

“Yes, I’m sorry, mother.  I *sniff* I didn’t mean to get him killed and –” 

“Seven Hells, I can’t believe you’re actually falling for this,” blurted the bald man.  “Tell me, just how stupid are you?” Fuck you too, you stupid bald baboon.  Wait a minute, if he knows when I’m lying...  I’ll have to deal with this shithead as soon as possible! 
Even if mother doesn’t believe him tonight, he could still be a threat and there’s nothing keeping her from believing him on a different night besides.

“SHUT UP, DOMERIC,” shouted Arya.  Domeric simply yawned and once he had disappeared into his crate, the lid swung shut.

“Don’t worry about him, my oldest brother is an asshole, but at least father and my brother Ramsay are cool.  They’re already asleep, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to meet them.  Now Shireen, I...I want you to listen to me very carefully.” 

“What is it, mother?”

“What happened to your son was not your fault, do you understand?” 

“But I –” 

“No ‘buts,’ it wasn’t your fault, period.  Do you hear me?” 

“Yes, mother.  It’s just that *sniff* Gendry was my first child and I...I just miss him is all.” 

“I know how much it hurts to lose a child,” Arya gently whispered, loosening her grip ever so slightly.  “Your brother died tonight and I afraid I'd already lost you too.”  ROBIN’S DEAD?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes! 
This calls for the biggest, bluest fire the world has ever seen! 

“I’m so very sorry to hear that, mother,” Shireen replied.  It took every ounce of self-restraint she possessed not to smile at her mother’s wonderful news. 

“The worst part is it was someone from my old family who murdered Rickon.”  FUCK!  Oh well, I suppose that’s one less competitor which means mother will spend more time giving me the attention I deserve.  Or at least, she will once I figure out what to do about Robin.  I don’t want to kill him...at least not if there’s any other way, but Arya is my mother.  MINE!  I won’t let Robin or anyone steal her from me!  If Robin won’t listen to reason and I can’t make mother stop loving him, or at least stop giving him attention that should rightfully be going to me, then he’ll have brought it upon himself.  I tried to warn him about coming between mother and me, but he didn’t listen.  He wouldn’t even drop that ridiculous “poor widdle innocent retard” schtick.  Now Robin will have no one but himself to blame for the consequences of his selfishness.

“You mean I *sniff* I’ll never get to meet Rickon?  Not even once,” Shireen whimpered. 

“I’m sorry, but he’s dead.  Brandon Stark murdered him by driving part of a chair through his heart.  I’m going to get him for that if it’s the last thing I ever do; I just...need to figure out the best way to hurt him is all.” 

“Why is he killing us?  Doesn’t he know his kind don’t have that right?” 

“I don’t care what he does or doesn’t know.  Brandon is going to rue the day he was born even more than he already does and...wait a minute...what do you mean ‘us?’  Did Brandon help murder your son?  Who killed him?  And why are you wearing that yellow suit?”  I knew killing Gendry would lead to some excellent mother-daughter bonding.  Suck it, Robin, you beak-nosed cunt!  I bet you’re going to spend all of tomorrow night wishing you thought of killing your first child. 
You lose, asshole!

“I...umm...it’s a long story about the suit.”  If mother doesn’t like the hazmat suit either, maybe I shouldn’t wear it anymore.  I thought it was a good idea, but whatever.  “There were two people who murdered Gendry.  I only got a good look at the smaller one though and he looked a little bit like Bran.  I’ve seen him a few times, but it was hard to tell for sure."  Suddenly, Arya frowned and began squinting at her daughter before tilting her head almost as though she were trying to make up her mind about something.  "Mother?  Why are you looking at me like that?  Did I *sniff* did I do something wrong?”  The look of gentle sympathy that had rested upon Arya’s face only a moment ago was gone and in its place was an icy rage – bitter and unforgiving – which Shireen had never seen before...not from her mother, at least. 

“It’s nothing and I already told you that this wasn’t your fault besides,” Arya replied in a flat, emotionless voice as she made her way over to the medium-sized crate.  “I just...figured out what to do about Brandon is all.  It’s almost morning; you should try to get some sleep, Shireen.  The crate over there is yours; it’s a little small, but if Robin could comfortably fit in his then there should be plenty of room for you in there.” 

“Yes, mother.”

Chapter Text

Qyburn

“Father, Ramsay, Domeric, and I have messages for you,” Joffrey moaned in a flat, emotionless voice.  “It’s mostly things you need to know, but I will also need you to do something for me.” 

“I live to serve,” Qyburn amiably replied.  At least, Robin didn’t need anything.  The years had been taking their toll for some time, but the former doctor knew he’d never be able to forgive that little brat for crippling him...even if the hyperactive hellion was now his master’s grandson.  In truth, personalities can and often do dramatically change in various ways after one is given new life, but I can’t imagine that it turned that demon into an even remotely civilized child.  Robin may be Lord Bolton’s grandson, but I’d be shocked if he doesn’t hate the brat near as much as I do; the boy lacks manners, intellect, independence, scientific curiosity, impulse control, or any other redeeming features as far as I can see. 

“Good.  I know Robin hurt you before I gave him new life and we can pretend I’m sorry about that if you’d like, but you’ll still have to find a more efficient way to move around Winter Falls.  Do you have a wheelchair?  That might work better than...work better than...than...ARE YOU *snort* DONE YET?  I *snort* want my *snort* body back,” whined Joffrey in a completely different voice.  The first one – the voice that this blonde-haired ventriloquist's dummy used whenever Lord Bolton’s daughter felt like speaking through him – was cold, unfeeling, and distant.  It was flat and emotionless, but in a way that suggested this was not due to an inability to feel things so much as an inability to feel anything without Arya’s express permission.  Her dominance over the boy’s body was so great that even the effects of the drug addiction from which this Joffrey plainly suffered failed to make their presence known whenever she spoke through him. 

However, the second voice – no doubt that of the body’s original inhabitant – could not have been more different.  It was out-of-control, lacking in even the most basic sort of self-restraint, and nothing if not emotional.  Of course, the emotions were simple ones: anger, shame, and more than a touch of fear, but emotional depth is not something one would expect to find in a weak-minded fool like this manchild.  The boy had somehow been reduced to little more than an unwelcome roommate within his own body.

“I will be using your body all day while my family and I sleep.  We need someone to guard our...resting place for us.  And I warned you about what would happen if you forgot to call me ‘master’ again besides,” replied the first voice.  Fascinating. 

“NO, I –”  Suddenly, Joffrey’s whole body slouched over, his arms went limp, the boy’s lower jaw dropped as if struggling to reach the floor, and his eyes turned a pale shade of blue.  He stayed like that for ten seconds, almost as if he were frozen in place, before his eyes finally returned to their normal color. 


“What...what did you *snort* do?  I...I can’t *snort* remember whether I *snort* ever...ever had a *snort* family.  I had to have had a *snort* mother, but I don’t...  WHAT DID YOU *snort* DO TO ME, YOU *snort* FUCKING BIT...I...I mean, m-m-master?” 

“Well, since you asked me sooooo nicely, I suppose I can tell you.  I just wiped out part of your mind.” 

“YOU WHAT?  Wait...what does that *snort* even mean?”  If Joffrey still partially inhabits his body, does that mean people have souls?  The scientific implications of this are...hmm...mayhaps Lord Bolton will let me examine Joffrey’s brain if I’m still alive once the fool dies.  And yet if it were a soul, this would mean Others have souls as well and Lord Bolton has assured me that this is not the case.  I wonder...

“Did you really think I was just going to share this body with you until you die,” Joffrey – or more accurately, Joffrey’s body – asked.  “I’m still going to kill you, I’m just...taking my time is all.  Every time you fail me or disobey an order of mine in any way, I’m going to erase part of your stupid soul or whatever part of you is left in here.  And you better not try to sneak anything past me while I’m asleep because I don’t need to be awake to use you as a meat puppet.  I can turn you into an empty shell anytime I want, do you understand?” 

“Yes, master,” mumbled Joffrey. 


“Yes, what?” 

“Yes, I *snort* understand, master.”

“Good.  Now run along and don’t come back until I give you permission to use your body again,” moaned Joffrey, sounding like one who had already died centuries ago...at least in every meaningful sense of the word.  Even as an angry, frustrated old man on crutches and painkillers whose left leg had been broken in three places by one of those he would serve for his remaining years, Qyburn couldn’t help taking solace in the fact that there were still plenty of things about the Others which remained a mystery to him. 

“Now then, what was I saying?  Oh right, maybe a wheelchair would make it easier for you to move around...maybe.” 

“I believe there is one in the clinic,” sighed Qyburn.  Another day, another humiliation that I must needs suffer in silence. 


“Good.  Anyway, Domeric said to tell you to lock up the clinic and stay far away from it until we’ve woken up.  My stupid brother left some sort of present for the survivors or something.  Let’s see, what else was I supposed to tell you?  Hmm...oh, Ramsay wants you to make sure Reek doesn’t get himself killed.  He said you’d know what that means.”  Not another Reek... 

“Is there anything else?” 

“Yes.  Lord Bolton wants you to find out who the survivors are and how many of them there are and I need you to find out whether or not Littlefinger left town.  I hope he didn’t so that I can kill him tonight.” 

“Littlefinger?” 

“Petyr Baelish. 
He used to be my stupid uncle-in-law or something before father chose me.” 

“Far be it from me to question anyone in your family, but didn’t Mr. Baelish invite your father and brothers to come to Winter Falls?  As I recall, the man had the misfortune to be in Dragonstone Heights the your family arrived, but your father spared his life after they made some sort of agreement concerning the residents of Winter Falls.  Does your father know you plan to kill him?  What’s to stop Mr. Baelish –”

“Littlefinger.” 

“Fine.  It would seem that Mr. Bael...Littlefinger could simply rescind your family’s invitation.” 

“I tricked someone else into willingly inviting us and Littlefinger already tried to revoke his invitation besides.  It didn’t work though.  The only reason he’s still alive is that I had to make sure that stupid whackjob he married didn’t steal Robin from me.”  What are you talking...never mind.  In truth, I don’t even want to know.  Lord Bolton is the only one of these creatures worth serving; the rest of the Others are a collection of childish half-wits with the self-control of an infant. 

“Very well.  Is there anything else?” 

“Nope.  You should probably start looking for that wheelchair though.  I’d say we don’t have all day, but I suppose that wouldn’t be true, would it?  Well...now that you mention it, there is one other thing, but for your sake, I hope it doesn’t take long.  Robin made me promise to tell you that he still thinks you’re bad and wants to jump on your other leg too.  I don’t blame him either...not really.  My son and I hadn’t been given new life yet, so father had the right to do whatever he wanted to us.  I understand that now; I really do!  But you...you were just a stupid old man who had no right to try and put Robin in a cage, regardless of whether or not he was just a stupid human.  I’m glad my son broke one of your stupid legs, even if he was only my cousin at the time!  Mayhaps father will let Robin drink your stupid blood once your too old to do anything for him.”  Mayhaps you and your children’s coffins will accidentally catch on fire later today... 


“Anything’s possible.  Of course, I’ve known your father for decades.  I’d be careful about underestimating my value to him if I were you.” 

“You’re not me.  You’re not even an Other, so it doesn’t really matter what you think, does it?  No?  Good, that’s what I thought.  I’m an Other and Lord Bolton’s daughter; he chose me instead of you, stupid.”

“I’M NOT *snort* ANYONE’S  *snort* FUCKING DAUGHT –”

“Shut up, Joffrey!  Anyway, father might lecture me if I killed you, but that’s all.  I’ve heard plenty of stupid lectures, so what’s one more?  If you ever even think about laying a hand on any of my children again, I will kill you.  Do you understand?” 

“Yes.” 

“Yes, what?” 

“You are not my ‘master.’  I serve Lord Bolton and I do so entirely of my own free will.”   

“Whatever.  Don’t you have work to do?” 

“As you say.”

“ARE YOU *snort*  DONE *snort* YET?  Wait...why can’t I *snort* move my legs?  Give me back my *snort* legs, you...FUCK!  Wait...c-c-come *snort* back!  I don’t want to be *snort* conscious while I’m *snort* detoxing.  FUCK!  FUCK!  FUCK!  FUCK,” suddenly Joffrey began vomiting all over himself. 

“I told you to shut up!  You don’t get a vote and...ugh...that’s disgusting.  Clean yourself up, right now!” 

“Yes *snort* yes, master...ugh.”  Remarkable.  I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything quite like this before in my entire life.

...

Qyburn hobbled up the stairs and mercifully there was indeed a wheelchair in the clinic.  He rolled past six coffins knowing better than to open any of them or investigate why several small holes had been drilled into one of them.  He simply wheeled through the abandoned town and made his way to the Baelish residence as the survivors of the first night almost inevitably waited at least a few more hours to come out...that was always the way it happened.  The front door of the house opened just a crack.  I see the fool is still here...

“Good morning, Mr. Baelish.” 

“Dr. Qyburn, I presume,” replied a voice from behind the door.

“I’ve come to inquire on Lord Bolton’s behalf whether you’ve accepted his generous –”  Those words were the last to come out of Qyburn’s mouth before Mr. Baelish kicked his front door wide open and fired two silver-coated hollow-point bullets into the old man’s head. 

...

Petyr

Petyr Baelish studied the good doctor’s near-headless corpse and his greasy lips slithered into the desperate smile of a man fighting a losing battle to keep his sanity.  Lysa’s dead and that rambling retard she sired might as well be dead too.  This...this is a sign from the Gods; it’s my time at last!  Cat, she...she belongs with me.  It is written in the heavens above and so it must be here on earth. 

In truth, it was really more of a three for one deal since it would seem Lord Bolton was kind enough to take both the Arryn boy and my shitheel of a niece off my hands.  Petyr had always hated his youngest niece and with good reason.  The girl was of the right sex to be a Tully like Catelyn and Sansa, but instead she was born a horse-faced Stark...just like her father.  Ned Stark must needs die so Cat and I can be together, but his sons don’t matter.  They have no destiny and will either cooperate with fate or be destroyed by it.  In truth, it’s really quite simple. 

The daughters though...they matter.  They have one purpose and one alone: to take their mother’s place by my side and in my bed should Cat die before me.  They have a responsibility, it...it’s their destiny, damn it!  Sansa looks just like Cat did at her age as well she should, but Arya was never anything like my Cat in appearance, temperament, or behavior.  She would’ve made an entirely unsuitable replacement.  What if Cat and Sansa were killed in a car accident; where would I be then?  Up shit creek, that’s where!  Even the wrong temperament can be overlooked...at least until suitable adjustments have been made, but I’ll be damned if any daughter of Cat’s has the right to be born with the Stark look.  The Gods punished Arya for being a shit-brained Stark by giving her to the Others.  I...I see that now.  The Seven would never let the Others take my Cat or Sansa.  I will marry Cat this morning and the three of us will leave Winter Falls forever.  Whenever Cat dies, I’ll marry Sansa and she’ll be my Cat.  Yes, Cat will finally be mine and then...then...it doesn’t matter; nothing else matters.  Only my Cat...

Suddenly, this wonderful epiphany gave way to another delightful realization: I just blew off Dr. Qyburn’s head.  I...I actually killed someone who angered me instead of just fantasizing about it or tricking another person into doing it for me.  I never would’ve poisoned Robin unless I knew Lysa would pick up where I left off long before I actually caused any serious harm to the boy, but this...this was deliberate and pre-meditated murder.  I haven’t felt so alive since I had my last wet dream about Cat on the night of my 23rd birthday.  I still remember every detail of that incredible dream and today will be the day when I finally make it a reality.  I can feel it in my bones!  The sun is rising and it’s finally safe to come out!  At last, everything is finally coming together!  I can see it all as clearly as the dead man in front of my house. 

Petyr was a calculating, cynical man by nature with both feet firmly planted in reality and there was a time when he might’ve worried about whether the smell of fresh blood would attract any of the bestial creatures he’d sometimes see chasing hapless townsfolk through the streets – on those rare occasions when Mr. Baelish could summon courage to emerge from his panic room and look out the window – or how Lord Bolton would react to the murder of his human emissary.  However, his encounter with the two Others who were once his adopted son and his youngest niece had had shaken him to his core and left him a changed man.

In the span of just a few hours, Petyr had grown increasingly impulsive – his thoughts erratic and his behavior unencumbered by self-restraint – and he could finally see the rules of society for what they were: illusions.  If a man wanted something and truly had the courage to do whatever was necessary to take it, then the world was his oyster.  It was the only way he’d ever realize his destiny and get the long overdue reward Ned Stark had stolen from him; that much was certain.

Things were different when it was still possible to rescind the Others invitation.  Petyr was still in control then, but now...  This...this business with the Others threatening me is just a temporary setback; I’ll find those blue-eyed bastards before sunset and kill them all or...or I’ll...  Wait...why the fuck is Ned Stark coming out of Cat’s house?  But he...I thought...they were supposed to...AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!  At least my Cat and Sansa are still alive!  Hmm...the boys is alive too.  Brandal?  Whatever his name is, he looks ridiculous carrying around that bundle of over-sized sticks.  Seven Hells, I suppose I’ll have to wait until the afternoon to marry Cat.  Unless...

Yes, that’s it!  If I confess to inviting Lord Bolton to Winter Falls...admit that I did it all for her then Cat...she may be angry at first, but she’ll have to see how much I love her.  I don’t care if the rest of the fools in this town tear me limb from limb; at least I’ll die knowing that I have the love of my Cat.  Would Ned Stark ever summon a family of Others to kill me were our situations reversed?  Not a chance!  Cat will see what I’ve done for her and then...I won’t have to wait for a marriage. 
She’ll realize how much I’ve always loved her and then Cat will finally be mine!

Chapter Text

By noon, most of the survivors had emerged from their homes and congregated in front of Dr. Qyburn’s veterinary clinic.  It was as though they all somehow almost instinctively knew the evil that had descended upon Winter Falls had come from that small, brick building, but Bran knew better.  In truth, Winter Falls had always been an evil place and mayhaps it was only a matter of time before this cesspool of greed and corruption caught the eye of someone or something whose sadistic appetites exceeded even those of men like Mayor Lannister.  And yet even knowing this, Bran still found himself unable to entirely resist the temptation to blame Dr. Qyburn’s place of business.  After all, a disease may spread, but the rot must needs start somewhere.  More to the point, if the corruption and violence were the pus seeping out from beneath a thin scab, the Others were a cancer spreading throughout the city. 

Bran didn’t have many friends and had always gotten along far better with some members of his family than others, to say the least.  Even so, he’d lost three family members last night and felt the impact of the Others’ attack as keenly as any of the other survivors.  Robin may’ve been a degenerate creep, but he was still my cousin and he was important to other people in my family besides.  Whatever I might’ve thought in anger, I didn’t mean...I...I just...never meant it when I said “Others take him.”  How was I supposed to know they were real?  Robin was the dumbest, weirdest, most annoying person I’ve ever met, but I never actually wanted him to get hurt.  And Arya, she...she was my best friend.  She was the only person in our family who would’ve been worth knowing even if we weren’t related.  NO!  I can’t keep thinking that way!  Whatever happened before doesn’t matter anymore.  My family, the other survivors, we all have to work together to kill those things before they wake up again and that’ll never happen unless we’re able to put aside all of our old grudges...at least until the Others are dead.  We won’t survive another night, most like and there’s not much time left besides.  Others wake up at around 6:00 PM...at least that’s how it works in most of the movies. 

In truth, the loss that hurt Bran the most wasn’t Arya; it was Rickon.  While Bran got along with his younger brother well enough, deep down he’d never forgiven Rickon for being their father’s favorite child.  Despite the way his father had treated him, deep down, there was a part of Bran that would always want the man’s approval...even if he knew better than to let himself become prisoner to that desire.  Getting out of Winter Falls was more important, that much was certain. 

It would’ve been bad enough if Bran had abandoned his younger brother to his fate out of fear, but in truth, the eldest surviving son of Ned and Catelyn Stark couldn’t help wondering whether the real reason he ran away when the Others attacked Rickon was because some small part of him was secretly happy to be rid of the poor boy.  Tears began to fall down Bran’s cheeks as he thought of his youngest brother – an energetic, spirited little boy whom he’d killed twice – and for a moment he wanted nothing more than for one of his parents to hug him and promise that everything would be alright.  Of course, neither Ned nor Catelyn Stark noticed that their sole surviving son was silently sobbing.  They were never really there for me when I needed them in the past, why would things be any different now?  I...I can’t think about that right now.  I have to...we all have to focus on killing the Others!  Nothing else matters, unless... 

Robin still acted like a weird little screw up even after he got turned into an Other.  And Rickon remembered how...he remembered what I did.  If Robin had the same personality and still followed Arya around everywhere, Rickon still had at least some memories from before he was bitten, and Arya remembered enough about how close we’d been that she wanted to turn me into an Other instead of just killing me then that means there has to be at least a little bit of those three left.  If they’re still in there somewhere, that must also be true for anyone else who has been turned into an Other, Bran realized.  Maybe there’s a way to reach the people who were turned into Others or even turn them back somehow.  Probably not...  I can’t let anyone kill Robin or Arya if we find either them during the daytime...at least not until I’ve had a chance to try and make them remember who they are, Bran decided as the adults all blabbered about how Others weren’t real, whose fault it was that most of the children in the town had apparently been bitten, whether or not the library was still open even though it no longer had any living staff, the fact that someone had apparently burned down the city’s Wallmart, and other trivial subjects.  Bran tried to ignore it at first, but by 2:00, nothing had been accomplished aside from even more senseless squabbling.  There was plainly no choice, but to redirect the rest of the survivors’ energy toward more productive tasks.  If everyone else was going behave like children, then they’d simply have to be treated like children.  Bran quietly put down his pile of wooden stakes, took a deep breath, and screamed as loud at the top of his lungs. 

“ONE.  TWO.  THREE.  EYES ON ME!”  Those words the only useful thing Bran had ever learned from Tyrion, but they always worked as long as you didn’t overuse them.  And it wasn’t just Bran’s mother, sister, and hungover father who went silent either.  Stannis, Tyrion, the three police officers, uncle Edmure, old man Craster, and Mr. Rayder were suddenly all giving him their undivided attention too.  Bran knew full well he only had three – maybe five – seconds before the opportunity would be lost and chose his words accordingly. 

“We only have four hours before the Others wake up again.  We can’t waste any more time arguing; we need to think of a plan and –” 

“How do you know those things will wake up at 6:00 PM,” grunted a police officer who kept glaring at Mr. Craster and Mr. Rayder for some reason.

“That’s the way it works in every movie I’ve ever –” 

“Little boy –” 

“Mr. Lannister, if you’re going to patronize me, you of all people should really find a better way to do it than calling me ‘little.’  I mean, I’m at least twice as tall as you.” 

“Brandon Stark, that’s no way to speak to one of your teachers.” 

“Mother, you're embarrassing me.” 

"I'm sorry you feel that way, but I'll not have you behaving this way.  It's not how your father and I raised you."  

"But –"

“No 'buts,' Brandon, listen to me.  Arya and Rickon were always more...stubborn than you and Sansa.  It’s probably why they...why those things were able to...change them.  They behaved too recklessly and went exploring some dangerous place last night even though they knew better, most like.” 

“I...I’m sure that’s what happened to Rickon.  Anyway, I –” 

“That’s quite alright, Mrs. Stark.  I’ve heard far worse from my family, I can assure you.  And the boy’s not entirely wrong besides.  Now Brandon, I’m sure that’s what happens in movies, but this isn’t some silly story.” 

“You’re right, Mr. Lannister, it’s just another perfectly ordinary day.  My ‘special’ cousin, my younger brother, one of my sisters, and apparently most of this stupid town have been turned into Others.  I had to impale my undead younger brother with a wooden stake to keep him from murdering me only for a demonic version of one of my sisters – who by the way, was floating right outside my window with blood stains all around her mouth – to swear that she’d get revenge on me for ‘murdering’ one of her ‘children.’  Oh and let’s not forget that OTHERS ARE APPARENTLY A REAL THING!  Yep, it sure sounds like the normal rules of real life are in full effect right now,” fumed Bran.  Arya was right about that stupid drunken dwarf!  Somehow, he gets more and more annoying by the minute.

“Point taken.  Very well, carry on, Brandon.  I suppose movies are as good a place as any to look for some set of rules to guide us for the moment.” 

“For the last time, Bran, swear words are only ‘in’ if you’re swearing at someone!  And Others and younger siblings are ‘out’ besides...”

“Right.  Anyway –” 

“I don’t suppose any of you know when the library will be opening again,” grunted Stannis.  Not you too...  Mr. Baratheon was one of Bran’s favorite teachers and he’d been certain that Stannis would listen even if no one else did.

“Can’t you all just let the boy speak for two seconds,” snapped Tyrion.  “He’s the only one of us who seems to have any ideas about what we should do before those things come back and...hmm...that was real wasn’t it?  I actually passed out on the couch while my niece and youngest nephew were eating my father in his study.  In any case, enough about that.  Go on, Brandon, I believe you had something you wanted to say.”

“Thank you, now as I was saying...now what?” asked Bran as his father began to walk away.

“Listen to me very carefully, Brandon, you can mouth off to your teachers outside of school as much as you’d like, but –” 

“EDDARD!” 

“Not now, Cat, I’m trying to give the boy a fair warning before he makes me do something we’ll all regret.” 

“If you lay one hand on that boy –” 

“What?  You’ll threaten to divorce me again?  You always were too easy on him, Cat.  I won’t have the boy mouthing off to me, not today!  I’ve got a splitting headache right now and I’m not in any mood for any of your lip either.  Do you understand?” 


“Father, if you don’t stop talking, I’ll tell everyone about Jon.”  Bran braced himself for a blow that never came, instead, Ned Stark – for mayhaps the first time in his entire life – did what his least favorite child asked of him...more or less.  Bran could’ve sworn he heard his father mutter something about wishing Rickon was the one who survived, but there was no time to waste stewing over such remarks, so the eldest surviving son of Ned and Catelyn Stark simply ignored his father. 

“Go on, Brandon, let’s get this over with so that I can find out what day the library will be re-opening,” added Stannis.  FORGET THE BLOODY LIBRARY!

“Listen, we need to focus on finding where the Others are sleeping and killing them before 6:00 PM...or at least killing as many of them as possible by sticking the wooden stakes I spent last night making through their chests.  Only...if you find a family member of someone here, don’t kill them.” 

“No?  What would you have us do with them, boy?  Invite them to a fucking tea party?  I saw my brother become one of those things,” growled a large police officer who face was so badly burned on the left side that he looked like cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Phantom of the Opera right after his unmasking. 

“I...I’m sorry for your...umm...loss.” 

“Loss?  My brother did this to my face; I hate the prick.  Point is, Thorne, Tollett, and I all saw what he can do.  If I see Gregor, you can be damn sure I’m going to kill him before he wakes up and does any more damage.  Rest of you will do the same if you want to see tomorrow.”  The other two officers nodded in agreement.  His brother’s an Other?  But...but Gregor Clegane’s practically a giant; everyone calls him “The Mountain” and...stay calm...deep breaths! 

“Fine.  I’ve seen your brother, he’s too dangerous to keep alive, most like.  All I meant was that I have an idea about how we might be able to turn people back, but I need to test it first.  I have a better idea: If you find any children who’ve been turned into Others, tie them up or restrain them somehow so they won’t be able to move once they wake up.  If I can’t turn anyone back, we can always kill them later, but I want to try something first.”  I...I have to try...even if it gets me and everyone else killed.  I was too scared to try to save Rickon, but if I can save Arya and Robin then maybe...maybe I can still make up for it somehow.  Rickon, he...he’d want me to save them if he were still alive.  I can’t tell anyone until the Others have woken up, Bran decided.  I don’t have time to argue with mother about whether or not we can use me as bait to capture Arya and Robin.

“Be careful with the children,” added Edmure.  “I had to impale my wife with a broken piece of wood after our son bit her when she went to breastfeed him.  I spent the rest of the night hiding from a one year-old baby in the upstairs bathroom.  The poor child was like a rabid dog, but I couldn’t bring myself to kill the only thing that was left of Roselin.  Those things...what did you call them, Bran?”  Good, they’re finally starting to pay attention. 

“Others.” 

“Right, I think they know how hard it is for a parent to accept that their child is a monster, much less to kill one.  In truth, it’d be harder for any decent person to kill a kid.  That’s why the Others were targeting them, most like.” 

“Wouldn’t be hard for me,” chuckled Craster. 

“Like the man said, ‘it’d be hard for any decent person,’” replied Tyrion. 

“Mind your tongue, dwarf!  I’m a Godly man and anyone who thinks otherwise best keep his bloody mouth shut unless he wants to spend the rest of his life sleeping in a pine box.”  Tyrion, plainly unimpressed and fighting to resist the urge to continue insulting the old man, simply shrugged. 

“Where would we even find those damn things,” grunted the burned policeman. What was his name?  Gregor was the bigger one, but the burned one was...it doesn’t really matter.

“I don’t know, but they’re probably sleeping in places where the sunlight can’t reach them like closets, basements, and crawl spaces.  I know the first place we should look though and that’s inside this stupid place,” Bran replied, glancing at Dr. Qyburn’s veterinary clinic.  “Don’t ask me how I know, I just...do.  This all started there...well...not really, but the Others came from there.  I can feel it...somehow.”  Evidently, the other survivors agreed as no one questioned this theory.  “We should all go inside right now and –” 

“Where the fuck do you think you’re sneaking off to, Tollett? 
Get back here,” growled one of the officers, finally taking his eyes off the two Wildlings for at least a few seconds. 

“Why?” 

“What do you mean ‘why?’” 

“I saw those things, Thorne, same as you did.” 

“Detective Thorne,” grunted Stannis.  “The man has a title.”  Bran, Mr. Lannister, Mr. Rayder, and Mr. Craster rolled their eyes, but the rest of the survivors seemed to have turned their attention to the question of whether or not to permit this Tollett person to leave.  Seven Hells, Robin has a longer attention span than half these people.

“The Stark boy says those things are Others and I believe him.  We all know what those things can do, I saw one of them overpower an entire police station with my own eyes...and that was before it started changing people.  This place is just some stupid small town.  It ain’t worth dyin’ for, not as far as I’m concerned.  I’m driving out of this place and if the rest of you lot are smart, you’ll do the same.  We’d best cut our losses while we still have a chance; that’s what I mean to do, at least.”  Coward!  Without another word, Officer Tollett simply turned around and walked away. 

...

It took a while for some of the survivors to fully process the loss of their loved ones and there were a few more distractions, but by 3:45 PM, a plan had been more or less agreed upon.  Everyone would spend the night together in the Stark home.  The Others had not been invited inside, so it would be safe and under no circumstances would anyone leave the living room without at least three other people accompanying them, not even if it was just to take a dump.  Bran, Sansa, and Stannis had all seen firsthand what looking directly into an Other’s eyes could do to someone and it was of the utmost importance that there be people nearby to snap anyone who did so out of their trance before they invited one of the blue-eyed monsters inside.  If even one of the Others got in the house, then it was the end for everyone, that much was certain.  At 5:45, everyone would begin making their way to the Stark residence although no one would be let inside for any reason if they arrived even a minute past 6:00.

During the remaining two hours, Detective Thorne, Lieutenant Clegane, and Mr. Rayder would search Dr. Qyburn’s clinic while the rest of the survivors would split into groups and kill as many sleeping Others as they could find.  For a brief moment, Bran even managed to convince himself that something significant might get accomplished today.  Suddenly, Mr. Baelish’s car appeared out of nowhere, racing down the empty street before finally crashing into a nearby streetlight.  Uncle Petyr staggered out of the car, pointed a revolver at the small crowd, and everything went to hell...

Chapter Text

The following takes place between 12:00 AM and 12:15 AM: 

*ZZZZ*  *ZZZZZ*  *ZZZZZ*  *ZZZZZZ*  “ARYA WAKE UP!  HELP!  WAKE UP,” screeched Robin, shaking his cousin as hard as he could until she finally woke up...a mere 20 minutes after she’d finally managed to fall asleep.  Arya awoke to the sight of her cousin staring at her – tears rolling down his cheeks and snot dripping from both nostrils – clutching his one-eyed teddy, Mr. Goodbear. 

The stupid stuffed animal was the only thing Robin’s mother had ever given him before they shipped the crazy old woman off to the nuthouse.  The teddybear’s single red eye – Robin had accidentally pulled out the left one years ago – glowed in the dark giving it a sinister look that always reminded Arya of her psychotic aunt.  She’d have thrown it in the garbage the moment Robin’s back was turned if it didn’t seem to be so important to the poor child.  Even so, Arya was determined to think of a way to convince Robin to throw away Mr. Goodbear on his own...someday.  In truth, the stupid teddybear had always creeped Arya out...not that she’d ever admit it.  Of course, getting rid of Mr. Goodbear didn’t matter right now...not really. 

There has to be a way to get Robin out of my room without hurting his feelings.  It wouldn’t be right to yell at him...not really.  Robin’s not trying to bother me, he’s just...confused is all.  He’ll always be a bit “special” after what his stupid mother did to him.  Robin was a perfectly normal little boy before Aunt Lysa scrambled his brain, most like.  I don’t care if she is my stupid Aunt, I hate her!  Her and her stupid rat poison!  She deserves to die for what she did to Robin!  I can get Robin to go back to his room, I just have to remind him he’s not supposed to wake me up is all.  Maybe then I can finally get some sleep...maybe.

“Ugh...Robin, what have I told you about waking me up in the middle of the night?” 

“Umm...wait...I know this...oh...uhhh...I know!  You said ‘don’t wake me up if I’m asleep unless it’s a life or death emergency.’  Was that right?  Did I do good?” 

“That was perfect, now please let me go back to –” 

“BUT IT’S AN EMERGENCY!  IT IS!  IT IS!  IT IS!  YOU HAVE TO COME TO MY ROOM NOW!  HURRY!” 

“Robin, do you remember what an emergency is?  And stop yelling, you’re going to wake everyone in this stupid house.” 

“Please, I almost died!  He...it...it could’ve killed me,” sobbed Robin.  Arya’s eyes shot open and her left hand darted towards the golf club she kept next to her bed.

“Who?” 

“There’s something bad in my room!”

“Are you sure, Robin?  Did someone break into the house?”  I can’t wake my parents or call the stupid police unless someone’s actually here.  Robin could’ve just heard someone going to the bathroom and gotten scared like last time.

“No!  I mean, I...I don’t know! 
PLEASE HURRY!” 

“You’re not hurt, are you?”  Robin shook his head and began sucking his right thumb.  I have to go myself, Arya decided, biting her lip. 

“Okay, I’ll go look.  If you hear me scream or I’m not back in two minutes, call the police.  Do you understand, Robin?  It’s really important!” 

“I...I understand.” 

...

The following takes place between 12:15 AM and 12:30 AM: 

Arya crept towards Robin’s room, holding her golf club like a baseball bat and ready to crack open any would-be burglar’s head on a moment’s notice.  The door was wide open, but Arya could hear noises coming from the closet.  Maybe whoever broke into our house escaped from prison...maybe.  If I capture him, I’ll be a hero and...no, that’s stupid.  Everyone would somehow end up giving Sansa all the credit, most like. 

Arya bit her lip as she made her way closer and closer to Robin’s closet.  Quiet as a mouse.  The door knob began to turn and Arya was certain she’d hit the burglar as soon as he emerged from her cousin’s closet.  Quick as a snake.  Calm as still water.  Suddenly, the closet door swung open and something jumped out at Arya.

“BOO!” 
Arya didn’t scream like Sansa would’ve, but it was a good thing she fell backward in surprise or she would’ve accidentally hit Summer with her golf club as the husky leapt out of Robin’s closet. 

“Hahahahahaha!  We scared...wait...you’re not Robin.” 

“RICKON!” 

“Oops.”

“Look Arya, there’s not a monster in my closet.  It was just Rickon,” exclaimed Robin.  Nothing gets by you, does it?  Wait a minute... 

“Robin?  But...I thought...what are you doing here?” 

“Don’t worry, Arya, I told Mr. Goodbear to call the police if I don’t come back to your room in two minutes.”  Arya buried her face in her hands when the lights in Robin’s room suddenly came on. 

“Uh oh.”  There was no point looking up, Rickon’s reaction told Arya everything she needed to know: they’d managed to wake up their mother and her wrath would be terrible. 

“What are the three of you doing up at this hour,” groaned Catelyn. 

“Nothing, mother.  In fact, I was just heading to bed,” replied the youngest Starkling.  Before his mother could respond, Rickon raced out of his cousin’s room as fast as his legs would carry him. 

“Can I get Mr. Goodbear from Arya’s room?” 

“Yes, but then straight to bed.  Do you hear me, Robin?” 

“Yes, Aunt Catelyn.” 

“As for you, young lady –”

“I’m not a stupid old Lady!  Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is when you and father call me that?  I’ve asked you and father like eleventy billion times to stop calling me ‘young lady.’” 

“Be that as it may...Seven Hells!  Why is there a golf club on the floor?”  Suddenly, Catelyn’s eyes shot open and for a moment, it was as though the tired woman was so angry she’d forgotten how to talk.  She hadn’t forgotten though...not really.  “Arya, I want the truth now; who put that hole in the wall?”  Arya glanced to her right and noticed a small hole in the wall by her cousin’s closet.

“The stupid club must’ve flown out of my hands when...umm...I mean –”  Arya had always had a tendency – for better or worse – to blurt out whatever was on her mind and this was by no means the first time it had gotten her in trouble.

“I’m very disappointed in you, Arya!  Robin will want you to say goodnight to him, most like.  As soon as you are finished, you are to go directly to your room.  You three woke me up so we might as well discuss the modification you made to your cousin’s room.” 

“Wait...you knew that Robin doesn’t go to sleep unless I say goodnight to him first?” 

“Arya, I’m your mother.  Do you really think I don’t know everything that goes on in this house?  I simply choose not to comment sometimes.  I saw you reading a bedtime story to Robin last week.  He came and woke me up because you fell asleep in your chair that night without finishing the story and saying goodnight to him.” 
What? 

“Can we please not talk about it?” 

“But it was so sweet and you’re so nice to that poor boy.  In truth, I don’t know how you don’t get frustrated with him.”  Who said I don’t get frustrated with Robin?  Just because I don’t get angry at him for things that aren’t even his stupid fault doesn’t mean he’s never annoying.  Robin’s not so bad though...not really.  He’s just...“special” is all. “Can I tape you reading to your cousin one time?” 

“Uggghhhh!  I hate my life,” moaned Arya. 

“That’s a terrible thing to say!  In any case, I’m sure that when you’re older, you’ll understand the importance of preserving memories like this.  It almost made me feel like a grandmother watching my little girl take care of her own –” 

“MOOOOOOOOOM!”  Seven Hells!  Maybe this is my punishment for putting a stupid hole in the wall...

... 

The following takes place between 12:30 AM and 12:40 AM:

Once Arya had tucked Robin into bed, checked her cousin’s closet, dresser, and under his bed for Others, she trudged along to her room like a zombie where her mother was already waiting.  Here it comes...

“As I said before, Arya, I’m very disappointed in you.  Even so, I’m not going to lecture or ground you.” 

“You’re not?  Really?” This has to be a dream!

“Nope.  In fact, we’re not even going to talk about this anymore once I leave the room.”  Wait...shouldn’t there be some sort of stupid consequences or something?  “You’ll be a young woman soon and your brother Bran will be a young man in another year or two.  You’re father’s right, I have to start making the two of you take personal responsibility for your actions.  I can’t just ground you or take away your electronics to punish you anymore.  In truth, you’re too old for that, Arya.” I’m glad mother’s not going to take away my computer or ground me anymore, but this doesn’t make sense...not really.  Shouldn’t I be in trouble for making a hole in the wall, even if it was just a stupid accident?  Maybe mother is so tired she thinks I’m Sansa and that’s why she’s being so cool about this. 
No, that’s stupid.

“Okaaaay.  Well, I...umm...I definitely think this is a much more productive...I mean...umm...riiiight, I agree.  You’re absolutely right, it’s better to make sure I take personal responsibility rather than just punishing me.  It’s not like I learn anything from being grounded anyway.”  Stop looking at me like that!  I don’t trust that barely concealed smile... 

“I’m glad you agree because you’re going to take personal responsibility for making a hole in the wall of your cousin’s bedroom by paying to have it repaired.”  WHAT? 

“Wait...but...where...I...I don’t have the money to pay for that!” 

“Of course you do, Arya.  You’ve been saving up for a car, haven’t you?” 

“HEY!  That’s not fair! 
I was only a few hundred dollars away and –” 

“You should’ve thought of that before you decided to put a hole in the wall.  Now I don’t want to hear another word about this, young Lady,” replied Catelyn as she left her daughter’s bedroom. 

“I’m not a Lady,” Arya muttered as she climbed into bed.  Arya tried as hard as she could to fall asleep, but it was no use; the injustice of the situation was simply too much to take!  How am I supposed to get any stupid sleep after all this?  It’s not fair!  I didn’t do anything to deserve this...not really.  Why couldn’t mother just ground me or take away my stupid cellphone for a week.  I didn’t even do anything!  Robin woke me up and then all I did was try to protect my stupid family.  Rickon’s the one who should be in trouble, not me!  Great, now I’ll never fall asleep!  This is not fair!  Why am I always the only one who ever gets punished for anything around here?  I was just a few hundred dollars away from having my own stupid car.  It’s not – *ZZZZZ*  *ZZZZZ*  *ZZZZZZZZ*  *ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*

...

The following takes place between 12:50 AM and 12:55 AM:

“ARYA, WAKE UP!  WAKE UP!  WAKE UP!  WAKE UP,” screamed Robin, shaking his cousin as hard as he could. 

“Ugh...now what?” 

“Arya, I almost fell asleep, but I realized you never said good night to Mr. Goodbear.  You have to come and say good night to him too so that he can fall asleep.” 

“AAAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!” 

“That was a funny sound!  Do it again!  Do it again!  Do it again!” As soon as I get back from saying goodnight to that stupid one-eyed teddybear, I am locking my stupid door so no one can get in! 
How does Nymeria sleep through all this, Arya wondered, glancing at the Siberian Husky that had taken over half her bed. 

...

The following takes place between 1:10 AM and 1:20 AM:

*ZZZ*  *ZZZZZZ*  *ZZZ*  *ZZZZZ*

*BOOM*  *BOOM* 

“AAAAHHH!”  *THUD*  The thunder was so loud that it woke Arya from her slumber...and caused her to bolt to the right in surprise and fall right out of bed.  As if to add insult to injury, her blanket fell along with her and Arya found herself all tangled up and wedged firmly between the wall and her bed.  Naturally, she could still hear Nymeria snoring as loudly as ever. 

“Owww.  Ugh...fuck, that hurt.”  *BOOM*  *BOOM*  Stupid thunder.  Why can’t I move?  Of course, I landed on my stupid head.  I couldn’t just get stuck between the wall and my stupid bed.  No, I had to get stuck upside down.  Arya squirmed and struggled until she finally managed to dislodge herself.  1:20 AM?  Seven Hells!  Maybe I can still get a little bit of sleep whenever this stupid storm stops...maybe.

...

The following takes place between 1:40 AM and 1:50 AM:

*ARRRRRROOOOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM*  *ARRRRROOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM*  Go back to sleep Nymeria!   Stop howling at the stupid thunder! 

*ARRRRRROOOOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM*  *ARRRRROOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM* 

*ARRRRRROOOOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM*  *ARRRRROOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM* 

*ARRRRRROOOOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM*  *ARRRRROOOOOOOOO*  *BOOM*

...

The following takes place between 2:10 AM and 2:30 AM:

*ZZZZZZZ*  *BOOM*  *ARRRROOOOOO*  *ZZZZZZZ*  *BOOM*  *ARRROOOOOOO* *ZZZZZZZZZZ*  *BOOM*  *ARRROOOOOO* *ZZZZZZ*  *BOOM*  *ARRROOOO*

*KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  “WAKE UP, ARYA!  OPEN THE DOOR!  HURRRRRY!”  Now what?

“Ugh...go away,” moaned Arya, burying her head beneath one of her pillows.

"The Gods are trying to gobble me up!  They're angry!" You can’t be serious...

“Robin, it’s just thunder.” 

“That’s just what the Gods what us to think, but they can’t fool me because I’m as smart as a fart!  Did you know that fart rhymes with pop-tart?”  What did I do to deserve this?  *BOOM* 
*ARRROOOO*

“Robin, it’s 2:00 in the morning or something.  Go back to sleep!” Please let this be a dream...

“Arya, unlock the door!  HURRY!  My teddy stayed in my room to create a distraction while I escaped, but you’ve got to open the door!  Quick, before the Gods get me!  Arya?  Heeelloooooo?  ARYA?  Are you awake?”  *ZZZZZZ*  *ZZZZZ*  *KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  “ARE YOU AWAKE?  HELLOOOO?”  *BOOM*  *ARRROOOOO*

“No, now please go away!”    

“Oh, sorry.  What about now?  Are you awake now?” 


“Robin, why do you even want to come in here anyway?  Aren’t you afraid the Gods will eat you or whatever no matter where you hide?”  *BOOM*  *ARRRRROOOOOO*  Stop howling at the thunder, Nym...nevermind.  It’s not like I’m getting any stupid sleep either way.  *BOOM*  *ARRROOOOOOOO* 

“They can try, but it wouldn’t matter.  I know you’d never let anyone hurt me...not even some stupid old Gods.”  That’s it, I’ve finally snapped, Arya decided as she forced herself out of bed and unlocked the door to her bedroom.  Why else would I do this?  The moment Arya opened the door to her bedroom, Robin darted inside – Mr. Goodbear in one hand, his blanket and a carefully folded piece of paper in the other, and pillow under each arm – and made himself at home on the floor right next to Arya’s bed. 
Mother better not take any pictures of this... 

“Robin, did...did you really mean that?” 

“That the old Gods were trying to eat me?” 

“No, the part about...nevermind.”  *BOOM*  *ARRROOOOOO*

“Can I sleep in here tonight,” sniffled Robin.  “You’ll be here for the rest of the night, so I know I’ll be safe.”  He’s so scared and it’s not his fault he’s like this...not really.  Robin, he...he could be normal or at least, more normal...someday.  He just...needs someone to take care of him is all; he needs me! 

Robin’s the only one in my entire stupid family who would still talk to me even if I wasn’t a Stark, most like.  And he’s the only person who’s ever said anything like that about me before besides.  He probably still likes Sansa better than me though...  Arya looked at the frightened, damaged child and found that she couldn’t bring herself to tell him to go back to his room. 

“Fine, you can sleep in here, but only tonight.  Deal?” 

“Deal!  Goodnight, Arya.” 

“Goodnight, Robin.”  Arya climbed into her bed and soon fell back to sleep, this time with a wide smile on her face.

...

The following takes place between 3:15 AM and 3:30 AM: 

The storm had ended, Nymeria and Robin were sound asleep, and Arya had just come back from the bathroom when she noticed a strange smell near her bed.  Suddenly, Arya pulled back her foot in surprise.  The carpet by her bed was wet.  Is that water or...ugh, what’s that smell.  Arya glanced at Robin and noticed that part of his blanket near her foot was soaking wet.  Wait...did he just pee on the carpet?  But that means I...ugh...I just stepped in his...gross!  Gross!  Gross!  GROSS! 

Arya raced back to the bathroom, climbed onto the sink and – at 3:20 AM – proceeded to wash her foot eight times. 
The youngest daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark was so focused on the task at hand that she neither bothered shutting the door nor did she notice when Bran approached the doorway, stared in confusion for a moment at the scene occurring in the upstairs bathroom, and then walked away without saying a word. 

I can’t believe Robin wets the bed!  Actually that’s not true...not really.  I think mother might’ve even said something about Robin not being potty trained once or twice, but it doesn’t matter whether he knew better or not.  Nymeria sleeps in my room all the time and she never went to the bathroom in here, not even once.   Robin can’t just pee on the floor and if he does, it’d be bad enough if this happened in Sansa’s room, but it’s certainly not going to happen in my room ever again.  Seven Hells, mother will make me pay for cleaning the carpet too, most like.    

Robin’s going to have to sleep in his room for the rest of the night, Arya decided.  It doesn’t matter how scared he is...not really.  I’ll just wake him up and make him leave my room.  There have to be...ugh...I can smell it again. 

Robin had rolled out from under his blanket and appeared to be sucking his thumb in his sleep.  Arya bit her lip and tried to remember how angry she was supposed to be at the 13 year-old sprawled across the floor by her bed.  Maybe I could just make him clean it up in the morning...maybe.  He doesn’t know any better and it’s not Robin’s fault that his stupid mother never potty trained him...not really.  No!  Robin’s not allowed in my room ever again until he stops wetting the bed and that’s final!  If Nymeria can handle it, so can he and I...I just hope it doesn’t hurt Robin’s feelings.  I can’t be too hard on him; Robin doesn’t have anyone else.  He needs me, even if he is really annoying.  He has to know that I’ll always be his friend.  He’ll always be my cousin and I won’t give up on him like everyone else.  Never!  I have to draw the line somewhere though, might as well get this over with... 

Arya was about to wake her cousin and tell him to leave her room when she noticed he’d let go of the piece of paper he’d brought in with him earlier in the night.  Is that a...why would Robin bring some stupid drawing in here with him?  Arya picked up the piece of paper and a wide smile spread across her face when she saw what her cousin had drawn with his crayons.  Two stick figures labeled “Arya” and “Me” were pushing another stick figure labeled “Jofray is basturd” off the top of some sort of rectangle that had been labeled “Mr. House.”  At the top of the picture – right above an orange circle labeled “Mr. Sun” – Robin had written “I writed righted a good note on the other side.” 

Arya looked at the other side and when she read her cousin’s note, she felt as though her heart had just grown three sizes.  It was a strange feeling and in truth, she couldn’t have described it if she tried, most like.  All Arya knew is that for the first time in her life, she had someone who was truly her own.  Robin had written in colored pencil on the back of the page “ Dear Deer Arya.  You said Jofray was basturd and I sawed him be mean meen to you and that made me mad because your my favoritist person in the hole werold world, so I drawed draw us makeing the bad man basturd fly togahether together as present for you.  You never ever let anyone hurt me so if any other meen not nice basturd ever try to hurt you, I’ll make them him fly two.  I wish you were my mother instead of just my bestest bestist sister cousin frend friend ever because you’d be a much more nicer mother and probably never even had to go to mother scool school like my mother.  I want to stay here hear even if my mother comes back since you are a gooder better betterer mother to me even if you are also my bestist sister cousin friend two.” 

It took a lot to make Arya cry – even when she was scared or sad – but as she re-read her cousin’s note, tears of joy dropped onto the piece of paper like tiny drops of rain during a light summer shower.  In truth, there was a part of her that was more than a little creeped out by her cousin’s "note," but that didn’t matter right now...not really.  All that mattered was that for the first time she could remember, Arya had met someone who she knew would never make her feel useless or unwanted, not even once.  Maybe Robin even likes me better than Sansa...maybe.  It doesn’t matter...not really.  I...I’ll always be there for him, no matter what!  Robin could be normal someday, I know he can!  I just...have to be patient with him is all.  I can help him though; he’s already like a third younger brother anyway.  Bran and Rickon don’t need me the way Robin does though...not really.  Robin better not start calling me his stupid mother or following me around everywhere though! 

Arya glanced at her cousin one more time and rather than waking him, she – taking care to only touch the dry parts – pulled Robin’s blanket back over him so he wouldn’t get cold before putting the drawing on top of her dresser and climbing back into her bed.  Arya closed her eyes and smiled secure in the knowledge that she mattered to someone...even if it the person was as strange as Robin.  For the next few hours, Arya enjoyed the most peaceful sleep she’d ever had.

Chapter Text

Petyr

The crowd began to murmur in confusion and for a moment, Mr. Baelish couldn’t help wondering whether he was acting a bit hastily.  No, now is no time for doubts!  I...I have a gun, so they can’t hurt me...or if they do, Ned Stark will still die before I do.  Cat, she...she’ll understand; that’s all that matters!  Mayhaps the rest of these fools will finally realize that I belong with my Cat, but if not...well...who cares what they think!  I...I’ll explain to her what I did and why; after that, she’ll run away with me...once I’m put a bullet in the head of that stupid gorilla she married.  Cat will understand; she’ll know that I did it all for her.  Don’t give me that confused look, Ned, you drunken degenerate.  You brought this upon yourself by marrying the woman who is mine by rights.  She is MY Cat, not yours! 

I wish I could pull this damn trigger now without explaining myself to Cat, but I can’t risk giving the townsfolk a chance to poison her mind with any of their lies.  I just have to...have to...patience; I can’t rush the explanation.  Yes, I’ll kill that drunken Stark ape soon enough!  Mayhaps I should kill the children too; it will be much easier for my Cat to leave them behind if they’re dead.  And no child of Cat’s even has the right to exist unless I fathered it besides.  The children...they...I should’ve known they’d try to turn her against me!  I’ll kill them all and...wait...no, shooting Sansa might be overkill.  After all, she does look just like her mother did at that age.  I’ll spare Sansa after I’ve killed Ned and Brandolph or whatever that useless boy’s name is, Petyr decided.  That way Cat can see how merciful I am!  Yes, that’s what I’ll do!  Wait a minute... 

“STAY BACK, I...I’ll shoot,” Mr. Baelish warned the crowd as a few of the men began to slowly approach him.  How dare they interrupt my thoughts!  I have half a mind to blow that inconsiderate cunt Edmure’s head off right now! 

“Petyr, have you lost your mind?  What the Seven Hells is the matter with you?  Put the gun down now before you hurt someone,” snapped Cat.  Hmm...she seems upset with me.  Odd.  Mayhaps it wouldn’t hurt to embellish a little bit...

“Wait, Cat, you...you don’t understand.” 

“Understand what?  That you’re pointing a gun at my husband’s head?  What are...NED STARK, NOT ONE WORD!  The man has a bloody gun aimed at you and –” 

“Don’t mouth off at me, woman,” snarled Ned. 

“I’m trying to keep you from getting yourself killed.  Petyr plainly snapped at some point last night and –”  I...am not...CRAZY!  I’ve never felt so sane in my entire life and...no, of course, Cat doesn’t understand yet.  How could she?  I haven’t had a chance to explain.

“Look my wife, everybody.  Suddenly, she thinks she knows everything.”  Stop.

“Don’t you dare use that tone with me, Eddard!”  STOP!  Stop this madness now! The rest of the crowd simply watched the strange scene unfold with a mix of concern and confusion.    

“I hate my life,” moaned Bran or Rickon, it didn’t matter which one.  No one asked you, you stupid...you...you Stark.  You’re not a Tully at all, just a selfish Stark like your father and that undead cunt that used to be your sister. 

“What’s that, boy?” 

“Stay away from him!” 
Stop...Stop talking...can’t take it anymore...

“I think I’m beginning to understand why Brandon and Arya were always acting out at school,” murmured Tyrion. 

“They were both perfectly well-behaved in my classroom.  Of course, I never showed up to work drunk,” muttered Stannis. 

“Wait...they behaved themselves when you were teaching them?” 
What does that have to do with my Cat? 

“Yes, especially Brandon.” 

“What part of ‘we don’t like you and your family, you stupid dwarf’ don’t you understand,” groaned Bran, shooting the dwarf a death glare. 

“Brandon Stark, you will speak to your elders with respect,” grunted Stannis. 

“But...yes, sir.” 
I don’t care about any of this! 

“Ned, there is a man pointing a gun at you and if you insult him, he will kill you.” 

“GO DAD!  DON’T LET THAT LOSER PUSH YOU AROUND!  YOU CAN TAKE HIM,” shouted Bran. 

“BRANDON STARK, NOT ONE WORD!” 

“But Mother –” 

“No ‘buts!’” 
SHUT UP, all of you, please...just stop talking... 

“THAT’S IT!  New rule: No one else gets to talk; I have a gun and I am going to say what I came here to say.” 

“You can’t just make me listen to you rant and rave about the voices in your head.  I’m a free man and a Godly man besides,” replied Mr. Craster indignantly.  “First the boy, then you; I’m sick of folks here trying to tell me what to do.”  The fuck is going on here?

“What part of ‘I have a loaded gun’ don’t you understand?” 

“Blah, blah, blah, your needs.  Why don’t ya’ tell someone who cares?” 

“ARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHH.”  No, I...I must needs stay calm. 
“Cat, listen to me very carefully, I invited the Others to Winter Falls.” 

“YOU WHAT?” 

“Wait...I...umm...I can explain.  They’re here because of me,” Petyr admitted, as he began slowly walking toward Catelyn.  “I won’t deny that, but I brought them here for you.”  I don’t think Cat can believe what she hearing...none of the fools can; mayhaps that’s a good sign...

“What?  You don’t...you can’t mean –” 

“Cat, they were only supposed to kill our spouses so that we could be together.” 

“Are you saying Arya and Rickon are dead or were turned into those...those things because –” 

“Uncle Petyr, please shoot me now.  Hurry, before you run out of bullets.” 

“Not now, Rickon.  The grown-ups are talking,” snapped Mr. Baelish, who by now was standing right in front of Catelyn.

“My name is Bran.  B-R-A-N.  It’s short for Brandon.” 

“I wish you were Rickon,” muttered Ned. 

“SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU,” shouted Petyr, firing a single shot into the air.  After that, the sad collection of fools finally stopped talking.  “That’s better, now that I have your attention again, here is how things are going to work.  I’m going to shoot the next person besides who opens their mouth.  Obviously, I don’t mean you, Cat.  Hmm...you seem a bit irritated.  Cat, know me, I’d never have let the Others hurt you.” 

“For the first time in my life, I do know you, Petyr.  I’d rather die then spend a single minute with you.  You’re a monster,” seethed Catelyn.  Me?  No, she...she can’t mean it.  Seven Hells, this isn’t going the way I expected...

“Come now, you’re looking at this the wrong way.”    

“You brought blood-sucking monsters to our city as part of some demented plot to murder my husband and two of my children were turned into undead abominations because of what your actions.  How did you think I’d react?” 

“Well, I certainly didn’t expect you to overreact like this.  And I suppose what happened to your children could be construed as an unfortunate event, they weren’t even the important child.  If Sansa was harmed, that would be one thing, but the rest don’t really matter.  Think of it as a burden that’s finally been FUCK,” wheezed Petyr as Catelyn kneed him in the groin as hard as she could, causing him to drop his gun and fall to the ground.  While Mr. Baelish was busy throwing up his dinner, Catelyn calmly grabbed his gun and aimed it at her adopted brother’s head.

“WAIT, CAT...I...I can explain...this...isn’t supposed to happen.  Please, I don’t deserve...I...I only did it for you and –” 

“There is nothing for you to explain.” 

“Mother, vigilante justice is ‘out’ this year.” 

“Not now, Sansa.”

“I’d like to remind everyone that the Others are going to wake up in about an hour and a half.  Do any of you know where we can find some more UV flashlights,” Bran – or mayhaps it was Robb – asked nervously.  “If the Others hate sunlight, then we might be able to injure them with those, but I don’t think the one I took from Gregor’s brother is going to be enough.” 

“You best give that back boy.  And I have a bloody name,” snarled Lieutenant Clegane.

“Bran, this is more important,” replied Catelyn, ignoring the cacophony of noise coming from the rest of the survivors.  Her voice was nothing like the one she oft used, instead it was cold, flat, and emotionless.  No, no, no, this is all wrong!  My Cat isn’t supposed to talk in that tone of voice.  Has she lost her wits?  This behavior is completely unacceptable.  At this rate, she’ll be dying her hair before long.  My Cat has to look, sound, and act the right way at all times.  Else how can she ever hope to be the wife I deserve?

“Wait...the Others are waking up soon?  Forget what I said, Cat.  Please, if...if you will truly never forgive my unfortunate miscalculation, I beg you to at least kill me now.” 

“A miscalculation?  Is that what you call this madness?” 

“Cat, if you have any affection for me at all, please at least give me a quick and painless death.  That’s all I ask of you: A single quick bullet to the head.  You...you’ll do that for me, won’t you?  Hurry!  Before they wake up...” 

“You’re the one who brought those...those things to Winter Falls.  What could you have to fear from them,” growled Catelyn, slowly lowering her gun. 

“They...they won’t turn me when they wake up.  Your daughter and Lysa idiot son, they...Lysa let them in our house last night.  The Others weren’t listening to me anymore so I...I revoked their invitation, but it didn’t work.  The one that used to be your daughter said if I...if...if I didn’t leave town by the time the Others woke up, they’d torture me to death.  You don’t know what they’re capable of and I already killed Dr. Qyburn besides.  They...they won’t forget to punish me for killing Lord Bolton’s senile old fool of an errand boy.  Lord Bolton, he...he’s the Others’ leader and the Gods alone know how long Dr. Qyburn has been serving him.” 

“Is there any reason we can’t simply lock the man in a jail cell and leave him there,” asked Tyrion.  “If I’m not mistaken, we’d pass the police station on the way to the Stark residence anyway and while Mr. Baelish is certainly quite touched, I doubt he’d be able to put up any more of a fight than Brandon or myself.”

“Don’t see why not; the dwarf just might be on to something.  If the Others want to kill the bloody madman so badly, I say let ‘em have him” replied Mr. Rayder. 

“Very well,” sighed Catelyn, handing Mr. Baelish’s revolver to her brother Edmure.  There’s still time!  Cat, she...soon she’ll see that she’s wrong.  She has to, we...we’re meant to be together forever.  It’s our destiny!  I’ve plainly done nothing wrong...well...nothing except waiting so long to tell her.  That’s it!  Cat is just waiting until their backs are turned and then she’ll free me from my cell and run away with me, most like.  It’s the only possible explanation for her; what a fool I’ve been!  How could it have taken me so long to realize what my Cat was doing?  She’d never hurt me; yes, I know she understands why I had to do it!

“Alright, enough of this,” grunted Detective Throne as he handcuffed Mr. Baelish.  Yes, that’s it; treat me like some dumb criminal.  Soon I’ll be free...  “Might as well get the search of Dr. Qyburn’s clinic over with first seeing as we’re already here.”

...


Alliser

Detective Thorne cautiously opened the door to Dr. Qyburn’s office.  There was some sort of trap awaiting him within this building, he could feel it in his bones.  It was pitch black and Detective Thorne had volunteered to go inside before Lieutenant Clegane and that Wildling cunt Mance Rayder to search the late doctor’s waiting room for any obvious traps.  As his left hand got closer and closer to what he prayed was simply the main light switch; Alliser could feel warm drops of sweat dribbling down his forehead.  In truth, it would’ve been simple enough to rig a bomb to explode whenever one of the survivors turned on the lights. 

Better I die than three other men, Detective Thorne decided as he fiddled with the crude, plastic switch.  The Others have already turned everyone who is still missing, most like.  At best, there could be one or two young children still hiding in some secret place.  Point is we can’t risk any more lives than absolutely necessary, not against an enemy who may already be too numerous to fight.  We need the help of every man, woman, and child still among the living...‘cept for that Baelish nutjob.  Even the bloody Wildlings can’t be wasted and...Seven Hells, enough delaying the inevitable.  Might as well do it already... *CLICK*

As the lights in Dr. Qyburn’s waiting room turned on one by one, Detective Thorne breathed a sigh of relief and wiped the sweat from his brow.  Mayhaps the Others are simply too old to understand how to use modern technology in any traps they set.  No, they plainly have cellphone jammers and from the looks of it, they were smart enough to cut all the power-lines in Winter Falls besides.  This building is still a death trap, most like.  At least the waiting room didn’t explode and...are those...well fuck me... 

In the middle of the waiting room, were six wooden coffins – each of which was likely taken from the town’s cemetery, judging by all the dirt – and one of them was filled with small holes for some reason.  In truth, this was hardly the only strange thing in the late doctor’s waiting room.  For one thing, there was a crudely made effigy of some sort hanging from the ceiling right in front of the coffins.  Even this was unusual – or rather, more unusual than an effigy hanging from the ceiling in a veterinarian’s waiting room already was – in that the effigy was roughly the size of a person in their mid-to-late teens rather than a full-grown adult and that there was a note taped to its forehead. 

Detective Thorne pulled over one of the chairs in the waiting room and was about to undo the knot around the bloody thing’s neck when he noticed that the rope was connected to a thin piano wire that ran along the ceiling and into the hallway beyond the waiting room.  Fuck you too, you bloody sons of whores!  Detective Thorne carefully removed the note and frowned.  The crinkled piece of paper was blank save for a single word which had been written in blood: “Brandon.”  Alliser carefully put the note in his pocket and left the building to inform the other survivors of what he’d found.

... 

“The waiting room’s safe, more or less.  Daytime or not, I want a couple men with me when I get open the rest of those bloody coffins though.  There are Others in those coffins, but I don’t know if they are the only six.  Baelish said there were three when he invited them and we all saw Myrcella Baratheon burst into green flames when I dragged the first coffin outside.  The good news is that those things stay asleep during the daytime even after you’ve open their coffins.  Mayhaps killing an Other will also turn back anyone it bit,” speculated Detective Thorne.  It’s not true, most like, but I suppose it’s best to give them some kernel of hope to cling to...

“There’s really...are you sure the thing hanging from the ceiling by its neck was s-supposed to be my son,” asked Catelyn. 

“Yes, but don’t worry Mrs. Stark, the Others can’t hurt him unless some idiot invites one of them into your house tonight.  Here, I have UV flashlight just like the Hound.” 

“I have a bloody name.” 

“And I still don’t care what it is; the boy can have my flashlight if it’ll make his mother stop interrupting me,” snapped Detective Thorne as he handed his UV flashlight to Catelyn Stark. 


“Mance Rayder may be a Wildling cunt, but he’s a veteran and we can go back to hating each other’s guts when the Others are dead.” 

“Detective Thorne, always a pleasure,” chuckled Mr. Rayder.

“The pleasures all yours, you Wildling bastard,” snapped Detective Thorne.  “Wildling bastard or not though, I’ll need Rayder and Clegane with me when –"  


“Lieutenant Clegane,” grunted Stannis.  Seven Hells, who gives a fuck what the corrupt bastard’s rank is?

“Fine.  Whatever the man’s bloody name is, I should only need those two with me when I open the other five coffins.  The rest of you should drop that Baelish cunt in his cell and then get over to the Stark home.  We’ll catch up with you all as soon as we can, but in case there are any unexpected delays, at least some of us will be safe from those things when they wake up.  And you lot had best start making as many of those wooden sticks the Stark boy has been carrying around with him as you can.” 

...

The Others in the next three coffins were disposed of in the same manner as the little girl, Myrcella Baratheon.  Detective Thorne had always been a hard and bitter man by nature, but that didn’t mean he was a cruel or unfeeling one and in truth, Alliser couldn’t help feeling a small pang of guilt about the Lannister bastard’s death.  After all, the girl was only a child and unlike the Others he’d seen last night, death – or whatever one would call being turned into an Other – seemed to make Myrcella look even younger.  It was for the best, if any of the Lannister bastard’s soul remained then mayhaps she’ll finally be able to rest. 

Edmure Tully may not be half the man his father was – assuming the stories about Hoster are actually true – but he was right about the children.  They’re much harder to kill than the adult Others; figures a Wildling wouldn’t be reluctant to do so.  Those animals have no sense of family or community, don’t know why I’d expect them to have any morality either.  The enemy of my enemy isn’t my friend, he’s just a slightly less dangerous enemy.

If Detective Thorne was somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of incinerating an innocent child whose only crime was to be turned into an Other, he had no such misgivings about killing the next three Others they found.  Jaime Lannister was little more than a smug little prick who’d been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and his golden cock in his sister’s cunt.  In truth, Alliser enjoyed watching the sunlight cook the little shit to a crisp. 

Next came Loras Tyrell and while that one may not have been quite as arrogant in life as Jaime Lannister, he was still little more than a rich golden boy who’d never had to hold a real man’s job.  There are no men in the Tyrell family, only pencil-pushing fools who were so weak that the family is run by some rich, old harpy.  And this one was rumored to be a faggot besides.  A sexual deviant who deserved to die, just like Jaime fucking Lannister... 

Mance Rayder broke down and cried like a little girl when he saw Tormund Giantsbane – the owner of some seedy Wildling bar – in the fourth coffin and while this was music to Detective Thorne’s ears, it was not the reason that he smiled like the cat that caught the canary.  Alliser smiled – for the first time in years, most like – because this gave him an excuse to watch another Wildling parasite die without risking a brutality complaint from some ungrateful bleeding heart.  The only way it could’ve been better is if that Rayder cunt hadn’t insisted on dragging Tormund’s coffin outside by himself.  I wanted to burn that Wildling fuck myself, but I suppose you can’t always get what you want.  At least I still got to watch...

The fifth coffin was covered in small holes and when the Hound opened it, something truly unexpected happened.  A thin, emaciated man leapt out and shouted one of the strangest things Detective Thorne had ever heard: “The bad men can’t fool me!  I am still you’re good and loyal Reek by day and night.  See, you don’t have to hurt me again; I promise not to pretend to be Theon anymore!  I’m going to wait in a jail cell just like you said I should if anyone found me.  A Reek needs his master and Master needs his Reek!”  Before Alliser, Lieutenant Clegane, or Mr. Rayder could react – or rather, before any of them emerged from their stunned silence – the man raced out of the building with near superhuman speed. 

“The fuck was that,” blurted the Hound. 


“Don’t know; don’t care either.  It’s not an Other either, now block the doorway in case something else leaps out of this coffin when I open the bloody thing.”  Those were Detective Thorne’s last words before he lifted the lid of the sixth coffin and was blown to pieces by a pressure cooker bomb that had been filled with nails and ball bearings.

Chapter Text

Lyanna

It had only been one night since the blue-eyed beasts came to Winter Falls, but that was all it took for the creatures to lay waste to everything Lyanna Mormont held dear.  Well...almost everything.  Even as a little girl, Lyanna had always thought of her uncle Jeor as more of a father than anything else.  Sometimes she even called him Funcle Jeor, but that oft seemed to make him uncomfortable for some reason.  The late Chief Mormont was certainly there for his chinless niece more often than her biological father and even though she was only eight when her uncle was shot in some sort of drug bust gone bad, Lyanna took his death harder than anyone else in her family.  Once in a while, she’d hear her mother talking to family friends like Stannis and his family – how such a grumpy old sourpuss could have such a sweet and kind-hearted daughter, Lyanna would never know –  about how Chief Jeor was probably murdered by some stupid mountain.  It didn’t make much sense though; after all, mountains can’t shoot people and there weren’t even any of them in Winter Falls besides.

As for the youngest Mormont’s father, the stupid butthead left as soon as he found out he’d gotten Maege – Lyanna’s mother and a woman who was always there for all of her children – pregnant.  No one ever told Lyanna what her biological father’s name was, but she always was good at eavesdropping and eventually learned that it was some jerk named Edwyn Frey.  Lyanna didn’t think of herself as this Edwyn’s daughter though...not really.  Lyanna’s mother and four sisters were the only family she needed or wanted...and now the Mormonts were all gone.  All but one...

For some, life can be as cruel as it is unpredictable and this was certainly true for Lyanna Mormont.  Less than 24 hours ago, she was a happy and spirited child, who’d spent the previous morning telling her mother about how she’d decided that she was going to be the first female President when she grew up.  With all the confidence of a child who truly believes they can do anything, Lyanna then told her mother that she was going to pass a law making homework illegal and another one saying that there always had to be enough food for everyone to eat as much as they needed to as long as it wouldn’t make them fat like the orange man who was always on TV.  Even though the Mormonts were so poor that they could barely afford to stay in their house, such bold proclamations were a common occurrence; three days prior the bear cub had decided that she was going to be the greatest fencer in the history of the world.

Maege Mormont had always been a loving mother to all of her children, but as the youngest of five girls and the only one whose father was not a Mormont, Lyanna oft felt more than a little insecure about her place within her family.  That morning was different though; Maege smiled at her 11 year-old daughter’s ambitious Presidential agenda and not in the amused way adults oft smile at the dreams of children.  This was a special smile – one made it as plain as day that Maege would always love her youngest daughter, no matter who the child’s stupid father was – and that alone would have made Lyanna’s day.  However, it was what her mother said that brought bitter tears to the sad, lonely little girl’s eyes as she waded through the slime and sludge of the city’s sewer system.  The tunnels reeked of waste, poison, and excrement, but the young bear cub was so sad that she hardly noticed the foul stench that filled the sewer’s winding passageways.  So great was her grief that she didn’t even notice that it was already 5:40 PM... 

Mother, she...she said that I could do anything that I set my mind to because I was as fierce as a bear.  I wish she was still here; I wish...  Whenever I was scared, she’d t-t-tell me that you could only be b-brave when you were afraid and that she...that she...she wished she was...was as brave at her age as I already am.  I don’t feel very brave...not right now.  I...I want my mom!  Lyanna frowned and fought back a fresh flood of tears as she tightened her grip on the hammer and three small, homemade wooden stakes she’d brought with her.  I have to be strong!  Those things...the Others or whatever they are, they...they stole my family from me and this could be my...my only chance to take something from them.  And I have to make sure they don’t hurt any of those people who were arguing like a bunch of spoiled children in front of that stupid brick building besides. 

Men of a certain age oft struggle to accept superstitious and mystical explanations for those forces which they can neither understand nor explain, but children are another matter entirely.  Lyanna did not need to waste her time on some long-winded discussion about how Others can’t be real.  She’d seen two of them with her own eyes and that was enough.

Lyanna’s last morning with her family should’ve been a happy memory and would’ve been had the Others not come that very night while the darkness swallowed up her entire world like a black hole.  If even one other member of her family had survived, that would’ve been enough.  But the Others did come for Lyanna’s family that night, the darkness did strip her life of everything – and everyone – she loved, and in less than 24 hours, a happy little girl had seen her whole world disappear into the cold, unfeeling night.  I don’t care if I die too; I’m going to kill all three of those monsters for what they did to my family!

“Monsters.”  Just thinking the word made everything that had happened feel like some sort of cruel joke.  Even so, it also reminded the last Mormont of her family and for that she was truly grateful.  For the briefest of moments, the word took Lyanna back to a simpler time many years ago when the greatest problem in her life was that she’d snuck into the family room while her sister Alysane was watching Aliens.  Naturally, the bear cub was too young to understand most of the movie, but she understood that the monsters in that movie were the scariest things she’d ever seen in her life. 

Some children might’ve run out of the room, but Lyanna simply couldn’t bring herself to so blatantly admit to being afraid of something.  Instead, she kept poking her head out from behind the couch and didn’t come out until Maege found her there – wide-eyed and wide awake – the next morning.  Lyanna spent the rest of that day practically clinging to Maege’s right leg no matter how many times her mother insisted that monsters and aliens weren’t real.

There was a little girl named Newt in that movie and as she traveled deeper and deeper into the sewer system, Lyanna found that she couldn’t help but feel a certain kinship with the character.  Newt’s mother also told her that monsters weren’t real, but she was wrong...just like my mother; the monsters were real and they killed her whole family just like the Others killed mine.  Newt found a new family, but that was just because movies are for pretend.  Families protect each other and I saw all the angry grown-ups arguing.  How could they ever protect me when they can’t even take care of themselves?  I’ll never have a real family ever again and no one could ever replace my family besides.  I can survive though; I...I have to!  It was only a movie, but Newt was alive before the soldier people even came or...I think she was, at least.  If she can do it, so can I, Lyanna decided. 

Where are those stupid Others?  How am I supposed to kill the ones who hurt my family and nail the rest of their stupid coffins shut if I can’t find them?  I saw that stupid bald one turn into mist and go into one of the storm drains, so they have to be around here somewhere!  It isn’t fair!  I brought stakes, a glow-in-the-dark watch, a hammer, and even filled mother’s purse with nails; how was I supposed to know I’d need a stupid map of the sewers too?  Do they even make those?  EWWWWWWWW!  GROSS!  There are like ten dead rats floating in the water.  Dead things can’t swim, so why are they even floating anyway?  Does everything float down here?  I hate this stupid sewer!

Suddenly, Lyanna heard the sound of footsteps creeping closer and closer.  What?  But how...it...it can’t be the Others; it’s only 5:45.  Wait a minute...just because they went away at 6:00 AM doesn’t mean they wake up at 6:00 PM.  Please Old Gods, don’t let it be an Other!  Please don’t let it be an Other!  Not them!  Please!  Please!  Please! The footsteps began racing toward the bear cub and she swung her hammer at whoever or whatever it was; hoping that her right hand would still be there when she drew her arm back.  *WHACK*  *THUD* 

Lyanna cautiously drew closer to whatever it was that she’d hit and nearly gasped in surprise when she saw Joffrey Baratheon – his left hand wrapped tightly around some sort of small knife – lying motionless on the ground with his eyes closed.  Whatever else Joffrey may have been, he plainly wasn’t an Other; his skin wasn’t pale at all.  What are you doing here...I mean...umm...shoot!  Shireen said he sometimes tried to hurt her, but I...I never...I never wanted...is he...I mean...I didn’t mean to kill him.  As if in reply, Joffrey groaned, started to open his eyes, and briefly lifted his left arm before collapsing again and drifting back into unconsciousness. 

Okay, good.  At least, he’s still alive!  I can’t just leave him here; the Others will get him.  But if I drag him along with me, I might miss my only chance to kill the monsters who stole my family.  There’s a way to make this work; I...umm...I just have to think.  Lyanna wanted to search for a solution to her latest dilemma, but instead she thought back to the previous night – the one where she lost everyone who made her life worth living – and felt her rage flare up like an inferno. 

The night hadn’t been particularly cold, windy, or noisy...until the Others came; then the temperature plummeted throughout the house.  There were two of them: a girl who looked like she was in high-school and a boy who was 3-4 years younger, most like.  Lyanna woke up in the middle of the night and, being unable to fall asleep again, decided after about 15 minutes to go and see if she could spend the night in her mother’s room.  The youngest Mormont wasn’t scared, of course, but for some reason it was always easier to fall asleep when her mother was around.  Lyanna opened the door to her mother’s bedroom just in time to see Maege talking to the female Other through the window in a flat, emotionless voice.  As soon as Maege opened the window, the female Other flew inside and sunk its fangs into her neck.  Lyanna screamed at the top of her lungs and before long, her entire world came crashing down. 

The bear cub was in such a state of shock that she didn’t even try to move when the little boy Other came in through the window and flew right at her.  The only reason she survived was that her sister Dacey – who’d heard her youngest sisters scream, most like – yanked her away and slammed the door shut at the last second causing the stupid Other to crash into it headfirst.  *THUD*  Jorelle was already with Dacey, who told her two youngest sisters to run and hide.  Jorelle hid in the drying machine while Lyanna hid in one of the cabinets beneath the sink in the downstairs bathroom just across the hall from the laundry room.  As she was hiding, Lyanna heard her sister Lyra scream although whether it was in pain or terror, the last Mormont could not say.  The same thing happened to Alysane not long afterward and then there were no more screams. 

*THUMP*  *THUMP*  *THUMP*  *THUMP*  Lyanna could hear her heart beating faster and faster, but it was so cold she could see her breath...that was how the bear cub knew the Others were nearby.  They never found the youngest Mormont, but they did find her sister.  The female Other shouted something about making Dacey cut her own throat with broken glass for hurting someone’s pet Robin and then turned on the drying machine.  Lyanna wanted to help her sister, but knew there was nothing she could do except close her eyes and pray that it would be over soon.  Suddenly, the sound of a frightened little boy screaming for his mother cut through the air like a knife through butter.  This was followed by several strange noises: a loud crash, the shattering of broken glass, savage growls, some sort of large creatures scampering through the Mormont house and out the door, and then...silence.

There was no reason to think either of the Others came back after that, but the last Mormont didn’t leave her hiding spot to peek out one of the windows until 5:45 AM...just in time to see a bald Other disappear into a nearby storm drain.  However, it wasn’t until later in the morning – when the scared, lonely child was searching for supplies in the empty crypt that she’d once called home – that the the bear cub noticed her sister Jorelle was lying dead on the floor of the laundry room with her neck twisted 180 degrees.  As for the rest of the Mormonts, Dacey’s throat had indeed been cut open with a piece of broken glass just as the female Other said, but Maege, Alysane, and Lyra’s bodies were nowhere to be found.  In truth, that only made things worse; even Lyanna knew what it meant if someone was bitten by an Other...

The last Mormont glanced at her watch.  Seven Hells...I mean...umm...Seven Hecks, it’s already 5:50.  This is my only chance, most like.  But I can’t just leave Joffrey, unless...no, I...I can’t just...I don’t have time!

“I’m really sorry, Joffrey.  I didn’t mean to hit you in the head and I’d wait for you to wake up if there was more time.  I really would!  I...I promise I’ll come back for you later, but I have to go right now,” shouted Lyanna as she raced forward as fast as her legs would carry her...only to crash right into a large wooden crate.  There were six crates in total, but the bear cub had come prepared.  I just have to kill the two killed my family and the bald one; I bet he’s the leader since he looked the oldest.  Once they’re dead, I can nail the rest of the coffins shut and come back for them tomorrow or whenever I find some more sharp pieces of wood. 

The last Mormont opened the first crate and had to bite her lip hard enough to draw blood in order to keep from screaming.  Inside the crate was an open coffin housing the bald Other.  His body remained motionless, but his pale, blue eyes were wide open.  Lyanna could feel them whispering to her...calling for her...beckoning her to lower her neck down to the bald Other’s level.  In that moment, her heart’s greatest desire – in truth, her only remaining desire – was to let the bald Other snap her neck and then feed on her corpse’s blood.  As all her thoughts, fears, and doubts faded away, it became plain that the only thing to do was to stand still and do whatever the bald Other said for the next ten minutes.  Nothing else would serve, that much was certain. Soon he’ll be able to kill me and make better use of my blood than I ever could; after that, all my problems will finally be over...

“And what are you doing here, little girl?” 

“I...I feel...I don’t know...or I...b-but wait...who or...umm...what was the question,” stammered the last Mormont in a voice that was both her own and someone else’s entirely. 

“It’s very rude to bother someone when they’re sleeping.  You don’t want to be rude, do you?” 

“Rude?  What does...no, never...I am f-f-food and food m-must...must never be rude,” groaned Lyanna.  Not me talking and...doesn’t matter...but m-m-mother sounded like...MOTHER!  They killed her and she s-sounded like...like...no...don’t worry.  Over soon and...NO!  STOP IT!  The bear cub only closed her eyes for a few seconds, but that was more than enough time to snap her out of...whatever it was that the bald Other had done to her.  Before the blue-eyed monster could speak another word, Lyanna drove one of her makeshift wooden stakes into the creature’s heart and it disappeared in a burst of green flame. 

The second crate the bear cub opened was a little bit smaller and she was able to tell that the female Other who attacked her mother was laying in it without looking the monster directly in the eye.  The creature began to move and the last Mormont held onto her second stake as tightly as she could.  *CRASH*

“FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!”  Lyanna spun around just in time to see a young male Other  – the same one who’d helped reduce her entire world to a pile of ashes – flying right at her.  If the bear cub had more than two seconds to react, she might’ve been able to figure out a way to fight back.  If the frightened little girl had fallen backward, her attacker would’ve soared right over her and crashed into the female Other.  If there been more light, the last Mormont might’ve been able to wedge a wooden stake between the monster’s jaws.  But she only had two seconds to react, she didn’t fall down, there was barely enough light in the sewer for her to see, and by the time Lyanna realized what was happening, the Other had already pinned her to the ground and sunk his fangs into her neck. 

Much to the bear cub’s surprise, it was peaceful instead of painful.  In truth, she was too tired to fight...too tired to think...too tired to resist.  Soon I...soon I’ll go to sleep and then I...when I wake up I’ll have a family again.  I’ll have a father...but too young to be...not how it works or...soon I can finally rest and once father finishes giving me new life, I’ll be free...

Somewhere far away, a frightened little girl who missed her mother and sisters was fighting a losing battle to hold onto her soul.  Lyanna didn’t know the girl anymore and yet she could feel the lonely child’s tears running down her cheeks even as the nameless waif refused to scream, so great was her stubborn refusal to admit that she was afraid to die.  HELP!  Someone, I don’t want to be...I don’t want...can’t make f-father mad or...who?  Father?  K-k-kill me!  Father, is killing me, silly!  I’ll die and then live again as a part of me.  Old me has to die so that b-b-better me can live.  It...it’s called new life for a r-r-reason.  Father, he...he’s making me better and...and...nothing to be afraid of...all for...f-for the b-b-best. 

PLEASE!  I...I don’t want to do this...don’t want to hurt...hurt anyone.  Please, don’t make me!  B-but wait, they don’t...don’t m-matter since they’re not...not us and...old family hurt...bad to hurt other people that way...bad unless I’m hungry.  I belong with my new family and...but...I...I hate them or...not allowed to hate f-father.  But the other one...decide about her later or maybe...  Lyanna let out a quiet, happy sigh as her new father drained her last drop of blood and pulled his fangs out of her throat.  As the bear cub’s eyelids drooped, she heard her new father or the monster or whatever it was that had bitten her talking with several voices, only one of which belonged to the female Other.

“Mother, I found food all by myself!  I did good, didn’t I, mother?  Did I do good?”  Scary father proud?  No, nothing to be afraid of...need father!  Father’s mother hurt my old family; father didn’t do anything wrong, most like.

“Domeric is dead, I think.  Seven Hells!  Arya, your...son turned another child.  I fear that’s four young children in less than 24 hours.  Tell me, do I look like a daycare to you?”  Who is that?  HEY!  He said the H-word!  Mother said that’s a bad word and...and...mother’s dead or...umm...I mean...I have no m-mother...only a f-f-father.    

“HE WHAT?  Robin, you...you killed that girl before you bit her, right?”  S-s-stop being m-mean to my father, you d-d-dumb jerk! 

“Nope!  He just screamed “food” and drained all her blood by himself.  I saw –” 

“Thank you, Shireen, but next time please let your brother answer for himself.”  Shh-Shireen, but I knew a...knew...I had a f-f-friend with that name once...I think. 

“HEY!  Mother, Shireen’s being a tattle-tale!”  Who? 

“Robin, don’t you know what this means?” 

“Does it mean I did good?” 

“No!  I still love you, Robin, but you didn’t do good this time.  Now how am I supposed to make my old mother into an Other so she can be my mother?”  Father’s getting a g-grandmother too?  Stop!  Not my real father...run!  Run away or...or...can’t run; father needs me!  Grandmother’s being mean to him!

“But I was hungry and –” 

“Now I’ll never have a mother of my own,” wailed father’s mother.  I helped make her not have a mother even though she really wants one?  I stole that from her...forever and ever?  Father helped, but I...I did it!  Me?  The mere possibility that this might’ve been true made something buried deep within the dying bear cub very, very happy and a wide smile spread across her face. 
Lyanna closed her eyes and drifted off into a deep, peaceful sleep, secure in the knowledge that in some strange way she’d gotten revenge on the Other who stole her old mother after all and that soon she’d be able to rub it in the stupid monster’s face for the rest of eternity...

Chapter Text

Shireen

Shireen was the last of her new family to wake up by just a few minutes and yet somehow things had already gone horribly wrong.  Not another one!  I sleep-in for like five minutes and somehow there’s already another fuckhead in my stupid family for me to worry about.  I bet she’s already plotting some sort of way to steal mother from me.  She better not try to fuck with me or she’ll never fuck with anyone else ever again.  That girl, I know her from somewhere...not that it really matters.  What was her name?

“It’s okay, Robin, you didn’t do anything that bad...not really.  I...I just realized I can still have a mother as long as your daughter bites my old mother.  She can come with Shireen and me when we go to find Brandon; my old mother won’t be far from wherever he is, most like.”  But...but Robin got a night that was just him and mother; I was supposed to get that tonight.  No fair!  Maybe if I pretend to be this mother-stealing cunt’s friend I can trick her into getting herself killed when mother’s not looking...  I wonder if mother will let me burn Brandon.  No, she’ll want to kill him herself, most like.  Oh well...

“Your old mother was Catelyn Stark, right, grandma,” asked the youngest Other.

“Yes, Lyanna, it’s really important that you bite her before anyone else.  Otherwise I’ll never have a mother, most like.  Father said he was going to start limiting how many more people we’re allowed to give new life.  Also I’d rather if you called me ‘Arya,’ ‘grandma’ just feels...weird.  I don’t like being called that...not really.”  Grandmother?  Maybe it won’t be so bad if Lyanna’s just a...wait a minute!  I bet Robin created her just to make sure there would be someone else to try to steal mother even after I figure out a way to get rid of him.  Hold on.  Mother called her ‘Lyanna’ and...holy shit, that’s Lyanna Mormont?  I...I think we used to be friends before...or at least, she didn’t say anything mean to me about my face.  She probably made fun of me for it behind my back, but most people didn’t even bother pretending to treat me like I was normal.  We only saw each other when my old family had the Mormonts over for dinner, but I...I should still give her a warning first.  If she tries to come between mother and me, I’ll kill her.  Lyanna deserves a chance first though, even if Robin was the one who made her, Shireen decided.

“I didn’t think you’d like being called ‘grandma,’ grandma.  That’s the whole reason I called you ‘grandma’ in the first place.  And I’m not going to bite your stupid old mother either.” 

“Robin, please tell Lyanna she has to bite Catelyn before she bites anyone else.”  If Lyanna really does hate mother then mayhaps we can be friends after all.  Real friends, not just fake ones...

“Just because Robin’s my father doesn’t mean I’m going to just do whatever he tells me to,” countered the youngest Other.  For his part, Lord Bolton looked as though he were trying to decide whether to kill himself or everyone in his general vicinity.  Fuck you too, Crankenstein.  If you hate us all so much, why don’t you just leave and never come back?  It’s not like anyone would miss you, asshole.  And who goes around demanding to be called a stupid Lord anyway? 

“What’d I even do to you anyway?  Do you have any idea how important...please, I need...I just...just do this one thing for me and I promise I’ll never ask you for anything else ever again,” begged Arya.  I wish I could still turn people into Others; mother would have to love me more than Robin if I gave her old mother new life, most like.  I’d have to burn her afterward before she tried to steal mother from me though.

“What did you do to me?  You...you can’t be serious...” 

“Listen, I’m sorry if you heard me tell Robin that I was upset he made you.  I didn’t mean it though...not really.  I just...was worried my family would be wrong without my old mother is all.” 

“Pathetic,” muttered Ramsay although if Arya heard her brother’s remark, she showed no sign. 

“THAT’S NOT WHY I HATE YOU, IDIOT!  HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW?  You killed my entire family...well...the family I had before this one.  I...I don’t have a mother anymore because of you!  You...you killed her, so why should I help you make one for yourself?”  You better stop talking to my mother like that... 

“Seven Hells, I already explained this to Rickon before he was murdered.  Our old lives don’t matter anymore...not really.  What’s so hard to understand about that?  You have a new family and everything will be better this way besides.” 


“But I didn’t want a new family!” 

“Why not?  This your real family; your old one isn’t important...not really.  Not unless you want to give them new life.” 

“I know that this is my real family, grandma; I’m not stupid.  I still don’t care whether you think my old family is important and you’re...you’re not even sorry.” 

“That’s not true.  I’m sorry it upset you so much; I really am!” 

“I, on the other hand, could not possibly care less about any of this,” grumbled Ramsay with a melodramatic yawn. 

“Shut up,” Lyanna and Arya hissed in unison. 

“Anyway, I’m sorry it upset you, but I didn’t do anything wrong...not really.  Your old family weren’t like us, so they were just food.  And your old mother isn’t even dead besides.  She’s not really alive either, but it’s better than nothing.  Your old mother’s not one of us and can’t talk or think for herself, but you can still keep her as a pet if you want.  Would that help?”  Evidently it did not, as Lyanna was practically convulsing with rage by the time Arya finished speaking.

“Mother, how did I make Lyanna?  You said I was her father, but babies don’t come from fathers.  Wait am I...am I her mother and her father,” asked Robin with wide-eyed fascination about this strange, new possibility.  I KNEW IT WAS AN ACT!  No one could be that stupid! 

“You’re not Lyanna’s...umm...mother,” sighed Arya, rubbing her forehead in frustration. 

“Oh.  Can I be a mother when I grow up?”

“Please, I’m really busy right now, Robin.  Why don’t...why don’t you go play with Shireen; I’ll be done in a minute.”  We can play the rock game!  I’ll throw rocks at you and you get to scream in pain until mother makes me stop.  Suddenly, Robin screamed, which would’ve normally been a good thing except that he was screaming in horror instead of pain.  While Arya’s back was turned, Lyanna flown right up to her and driven some sort of sharp wooden stick through her grandmother’s chest.  As Arya’s limp body fell to the ground, Shireen’s entire world came crashing down with it. 

...

“YOU KILLED HER!  YOU KILLED HER!  YOU KILLED MY MOTHER,” shrieked Robin.

“Whatever.” 

“About time one of you did something interesting,” muttered Ramsay. 

“Not dead...I won’t...can’t ask for...for help, else fath-father will...will be...but I need...I need...HELP!  Ramsay or...or someone get...GET THIS STUPID THING OUT OF ME,” shouted Arya.

Shireen never thought she’d be relieved to hear her mother scream in pain, but right now, the sound was music to her ears.  Unlike Robin, she did not rush over to her mother to try to help pull out the makeshift stake – which was lodged firmly in Arya’s chest, right below her heart – not that it would’ve done any good.  Instead, Shireen flew at her niece, tackled her in a state of blind rage, and began slamming Lyanna’s head into the ground.  However, Shireen was only able to do this three times before her would-be new friend managed to jam her fingers in both of her aunt’s eyes.  Shireen released her niece and yelped in pain as she flew backward, crashing into a wall and eventually opening her eyes to find Lyanna hovering over her. 

“What is your problem?” 

“You tried to kill my mother!” 

“Only because she killed my old mother!” 

“I did not, so will someone please OWWWWWWWWWWW will someone help Robin get...get this stupid stick out of me?  Please?”

“Ramsay, resolve this matter now, else I shall require both of your sister’s children to accompany you at all times for the duration of the evening,” said Lord Bolton mildly.  Shireen was about to lunge at her stupid niece a second time when Ramsay flew across the room, lifted both of the bickering children into the air by their necks, and slammed their foreheads into each other. 

“HEY!  Leave...OWWW...leave Sh-Sh-Shireen alone.  Robin, you have to pull harder!  OWWWW!” 

“I’m trying, but I think the hurting stick is stuck.” 

“And it’ll stay stuck if the two of you don’t shut up,” growled Ramsay, never once taking his eyes off Shireen and Lyanna.  “Now then, what was I going to say to you delightful children before I was so rudely interrupted?  Ah yes!  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that tensions are running high right now and that my sister is a rather emotional subject for the two of you which is why I think it’s important for the three of us to be on the same page, wouldn’t you agree?  What you have to understand that I don’t care how either of you feel about this...or anything else, for that matter.  So the two of you are going to calm down and stop fighting.  After all, no good can come from these sorts of emotional feuds between family members and they make people do strange things besides.  For example, I once knew a man who got so angry that two little girls in his family wouldn’t stop fighting that he lost his temper and set both of them on fire.  We wouldn’t want anything like that to happen here, would we?”  As if in reply, Lyanna spat in her granduncle’s face and he slammed her head into Shireen’s a second time.  HEY!  What was that for?  I didn’t do anything!

“Please...no more...room spinning...no more,” groaned the youngest Other.

“Care to try that again?  No?  Good.  Now then, the two of you are going to behave yourselves or I will kill both of you.  It’s really quite simple.” 

“You better leave Shireen alone or –” 

“One more word, dear sister of mine, and I swear that I will gouge out your daughter’s left eye.  Don’t worry, it should grow back...eventually.  Then again, it looks like father could use a hand after whatever happened to him last night, so who knows?” 

“It...it’s okay, mother.  I...I’ll be good, I promise.” 

“Good girl.  See how much better things are when everyone’s on the same page?  And you?  Leon or whatever your name is; are you –”

“My name is Lyanna.” 

“I could give a shit.  Are you going to get in any more fights with the rest of your family?” 

“No.” 

“Good.  That wasn’t so hard, was it?”  Without another word, Ramsay dropped Shireen and Lyanna, flew over to his sister, planted his left foot firmly on her lower back and pulled out the makeshift stake while Robin was still holding onto it. 

“AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!  What the fuck...what...what the fuck is your problem,” gasped Arya as she slowly stood back up. 

“You killed my –” 

“Not you, Ram-Ramsay.  You already...already...already told me what your...your problem is even...even if it doesn’t...doesn’t make any sense.” 

“What are you going off about now,” grunted Ramsay as Shireen quietly picked up a stone off the ground and began to approach him from behind. 

“I...I thought you were my friend!” 

“Hmm...well I guess thought wrong, didn’t you, dear sister?  It couldn’t hurt to have an ally to help me kill Domeric if father died, but now that my dear departed brother is no longer with us...well...I don’t really need you anymore, do I?”  Shireen was about to throw her stone at the back of the stupid bastard’s head when Lyanna grabbed her by the wrist. 

“What are you –” 

“He knows you’re there, idiot.  He’s just pretending not to have heard you because he wants an excuse to hurt you again, most like.”  Without even bothering to turn around, Ramsay let out a sigh of disappointment. 

“No one likes a tattle-tale, Logan.” 

“MY NAME IS LYANNA!  I’m a girl, stupid.” 

“Really?  Are you sure about that, Lucas?” 

“Shut up!” 

“What’s that?  Your name is ‘Larry?’” 

“AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!  I HATE YOU!” 

“That’s a very mean thing to say, Lamar.  No one likes a bully!” 

“Stop doing that!” 

“Whatever you say, Lawrence.” 

“THAT’S NOT MY NAME AND YOU KNOW IT!”  Can’t you see he’s just trying to get a reaction from you?  Ramsay couldn’t be more obvious about what he’s doing if he tried.  If you’d just stop feeding the troll for ten seconds, maybe he’d get bored and stop.

“Mother, is uncle Ramsay being a butthead because he’s a bastard like Joffrey,” asked Robin. 

“What did you just call me?” 

“What you mean?  I only asked if you were a bastard; I never called you anything.  I don’t think I did, at least.  I didn’t mean to do bad!  Mother says Joffrey’s a bastard and he acts the way you are right now, so I thought you might be one too.  Are you not a bastard?” 

“Call me that one more time and I swear by all the Gods that I’ll rip out your fucking tongue right here, right now,” snarled Ramsay.  Do it, you dumb bastard!  Kill him!  Hurry up and rip Robin’s stupid tongue out already! 
Quick, before mother has a chance to stop you!

“But I never said your name was ‘that,’ honest and for truly!  I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I just wanted to know if were a bastard.  I promise never to call you ‘that’ though.” 

“You know what, kid?  At this point, I don’t even care whether you meant to call be that or not.  Any last words?” 

“How many can I have?  When do I get them?  Can ‘avocado’ be one of the words?  I really like saying ‘avocado!’  Avocado.  Avocado.  Avocado.  Avocado.  But those times don’t count as my last words, I want to say ‘avocado’ again later!  Can I pick ‘avocado’ to be one of my last words, Uncle Ramsay? 
Pleeeeaaaaaaase?” 

“It was a rhetorical...nevermind,” sighed Ramsay.

“If you hurt Robin even once, I...I’ll kill you, so you’d better leave him alone,” snapped Arya.

“You know something?  I’d honestly like to see you try.  I’ve always loved to play games...” 

“Did you hear what I said, bastard?”

“Now, now, there’s no call for such vulgarity.  You say you’re going to kill me if I hurt your son?  Well then, why don’t you just save yourself the trouble and do it right now?  Tell you what, I’ll even give you the first shot; that ought to make things a little more interesting!  Why don’t you pick up that stake I just pulled out of your chest and drive it right through my heart.  This is your one chance before I kill your precious fish-faced freak.  You want me dead; here I stand.  Aren’t you going to try to kill me?  Come on, I want you to do it.  Well?  What are you waiting for?  Could it be that my widdle sister is having second thoughts?”  I’m going to kill that bastard, Shireen decided.    

“Enough,” growled Lord Bolton.  Even if the oldest Other was just some grumpy old jerk, somehow he could still silence everyone in the sewer with a single word.  Stop looking at us like that; I don’t like it!  “This madness will not serve.  There will be no further outbursts, is that understood?  Ramsay, you resolved the initial conflict as instructed only to create a new one in its place.  Instead of making both of your sister’s children accompany you, you will only be tasked with supervising the boy for the duration of the evening.” 

“NO, YOU CAN’T...I...I mean, please father...Ramsay, he...he’ll kill Robin if you leave them alone together.” 

“I’m afraid I’ve never played well with others and we wouldn’t want Reek to get jealous besides,” Ramsay cheerfully added.  A devilish grin spread across the bastard’s face as he studied at his nephew with hungry, blue eyes.  Seven Hells, now I can’t set him on fire until after he’s murdered Robin.  I guess I can wait a day; at least Robin will be dead soon...

“What’s a ‘Reek,’” asked Lyanna. 

“I will not have that creature spoken of in my presence,” replied Lord Bolton.  “Ramsay, if my grandson dies tonight for any reason, so shall you.  If he should return blind, I will gouge out both of your eyes and I will do it with the branch of a Weirwood tree to ensure that the damage is permanent.  Do you understand?” 

“Fuck off!” 

“Let us suppose that I asked you a question and you answered it in an unsatisfactory manner.  Let us then imagine that I told you that unless you amended your initial answer, I would simply kill you right now.  Would you still answer my inquiry in the same way that you did initially?  With this entirely hypothetical situation in mind, I fear you will have to repeat yourself.” 

“I said ‘I understand, father,’” growled the bastard – much to Shireen’s dismay – as Arya breathed a sigh of relief. 

“Good.  The rest of you are free to do as you please, so long as you do it where I can neither see nor hear you.” 

“Pop-pop, is Uncle Ramsay going to be mother’s friend again,” asked Robin.  Lord Bolton studied at the bird-brained brat and looked as though he were trying to decide whether to crush a rat beneath his foot although all he did was mutter something about “pests.”  Suddenly, the oldest Other disappeared into a thick mist.  Arya did the same after trading threats once more with the bastard and saying goodbye to Robin, although Shireen ignored this exchange. 
Lyanna and Shireen left shortly afterward her leaving only Ramsay and Robin. 

As she glided through toward a storm drain and prepared to leave Winter Falls’ sewer system, Shireen noticed her mother dragging Joffrey Baratheon’s limp body out of an open manhole.  Seven Hells!  How many bastards are there in this stupid town?  Everywhere I go it’s here a bastard, there a bastard, everywhere a bastard bastard.

...

Robin

Uncle Ramsay’s still mad at me, Robin realized, frowning.  It’s must’ve been my fault that mother and him were fighting.  I can make them be friends again; I just have to use my thinking brain.  I don’t want him to hate me either though.  I didn’t mean to call Uncle Ramsay ‘that’ when I asked if he was a bastard.  I don’t even remember calling him ‘that,’ but I must’ve done it since he got really angry.  I wouldn’t have even said it if I knew it was going to hurted his feelings so much.  If someone was a butthead to me, what would make it not bad anymore?  Hmm...  I KNOW!  I’ll build him a present!

“Do you want me to build a boom machine for you like I did for the bald-grumpy uncle my maybe-daughter killed before I ate all of the red food that was hiding in her neck?  I don’t know if there are enough thingamajigs and whatchamacallits left down here to make another one, but I can try to make you your own boom machine too if you want.” 

“A what?” 

“A boom machine.  Your shiny-headed brother was angry at me until I built a boom machine for him when mother was out looking for Shireen.  I used some of the garbage people dropped down here, plus some things and stuff from Dr. Butthead’s office.  There was even a whole box of nails!  Uncle Domeric shouldn’t have taken all the credit for my boom-machine though.  He told Pop-pop that he built it and was going to put it upstairs, but I don’t know why he’d want to make the mean, old poopyhead doctor –” 

“Qyburn?” 

“Right, why’d he want to use the boom machine I builded him to make the bad man doctor’s office go kablooy?  I thought the mean, not nice doctor was Pop-pop’s friend.” 

“Wait a minute, are you saying you’re the one who built Domeric’s nail-bomb?”  Ramsay was plainly intrigued and his pale, blue eyes shined with all the excitement of one who’d just discovered a brave new world full of limitless possibilities.  Robin didn’t know what it meant, but he smiled at his uncle.  It seemed like the right thing to do. 

“Do you want me to build you one, Uncle Ramsay?  Will you not be mad at me then?” 

“No, I’m afraid I don’t need a nail-bomb at the moment.  Tell me, dear nephew, can you build anything else?” 

“Like what?  I builded my pretend uncle Petyr a little computer once when I was really small, but he always said I was stupid, so I used my thinking brain and realized he was just mad because I builded him a bad present.  He didn’t want a computer, most like.  Mother doesn’t know I can build things, so you have to promise not tell her. 
If I builded her the wrong thing, she’ll think I was being bad and say I’m stupid like my pretend uncle did.” 

“Don’t worry, I promise that I won’t say a word to my dear sister about this.  In fact, why don’t we make it our little secret.” 

“My mother says I’m special,” Robin proudly exclaimed. 

“Of course, she does.  As father would say, it matters not at all.  You know something, dear nephew?  I just might have a use for you after all...”  Suddenly, a mischievous grin spread across Ramsay’s face. 

“What is it, Uncle Ramsay?

“I think we got off on the wrong foot, you and I.  This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.  Now then –”

“Which foot should I use, Uncle Ramsay?  I’m standing on both of them right now.  Are you going to be friends again with mother and me?” 

“It was a figure of...why do I even bother?”  Robin shrugged and Ramsay sighed, but he looked tired instead of angry.  His voice was still really excited though!  “Yes, of course, you and your mother are my dear friends.  How could I ever think ill of my favorite nephew?” 

“I’m your only nephew.”  I made us all friends again.  I did really good this time; I can’t wait to tell moth...no, Uncle Ramsay said it has to be a secret. 

“EXACTLY!  So do you want to help your uncle build a very special surprise for your mother?” 

“Okay.  Is it a good surprise?  Are you sure she won’t figure it out?  Mother used to be really good at not letting people surprise her.” 

“Why it’s the very best kind of surprise!  In fact, I don’t imagine anything will ever surprise your mother again after this.” 

“It’s that good a surprise?” 

“All that and more!  Oh and don’t worry about your mother finding out before we’re ready; I’m quite certain she won’t be expecting this.  Come.  I have so much to teach you, but first we must needs find my Reek!”  Reek rhymes with...wait...it...umm...Reek, it rhymes with Reek!

...

For some reason, Uncle Ramsay wanted to go to the city’s jail before doing anything else even though they weren’t playing monopoly.  There was no Reek there, just some scaredy cat not-for-eating man who smelled weird and kept saying the word “Master” a lot.  Pretend uncle Petyr was there too, but he was locked up in a cell.  Uncle Ramsay opened the door with a wave of his hand. 

“Hello, fake pretend uncle.  I think we’re supposed to kill you now like mother said.” 

“You know him,” asked Ramsay.

“He used to be my pretend uncle, the one who always said I was stupid.  Mother said to kill him dead if he was still here tonight.”

“Please don’t –” 

“Don’t bother, I’m afraid I have no desire to hear why the caged turd sings this fine evening.” 

“Haha, you said ‘turd.’  That means ‘poop!’” 

“Riiiiiight.  Now then, what was I going to with...I KNOW!  We can use you to help train your...our nephew,” exclaimed Ramsay as he slowly unsheathed a large hunting knife. 

“Can I play with your knife, uncle? 
Pleeeaaase?” 

“Of course, you can, but we’re going to play a game.  You have to stab your...umm...pretend uncle as in as many places as you can without killing him.  I’d avoid his throat if I were you.” 

“WAIT, ROBIN —” 

“I’m going to start with his left eye, uncle Ramsay!” 

“You do that; Reek and I will be right over here.  We have some private business to take care of...”   

Chapter Text

Bran

“No, I won’t let you go!  I…I forbid you to speak of this again, do you hear me,” shouted Catelyn as the survivors packed themselves into the living room of the Stark residence.  It hurt Bran to see the way his mother’s hands were shaking as she spoke, to hear the way her voice cracked and quivered with fear…although not half so much as it did to know that he was the one doing this to her.  For a moment, the eldest surviving son of Ned and Catelyn Stark lost his nerve only to regain it again just in time to avoid giving in to his mother’s panicked pleas.  I have to be strong.  This is the only way other than killing all of them and…and if there is any way other than that then I must needs try.  I abandoned Rickon because I was scared, but I won’t abandon my family ever again.  We have to…I have to try!  It has to be me.  Arya might not even come if we sent someone else besides, but she’ll be there if I go…

“Mother, it could be the only way to save Arya, Robb, and anyone else who has been turned into one of those…things.  It’ll work, I promise,” Bran wearily replied, hoping that he sounded more confident than he felt. At least I don’t have to worry about father too…  For all that Ned Stark hated his middle son, he would’ve certainly shared his wife’s concerns about Bran’s plan and unlike Catelyn, and it was quite possible that he would’ve resorted to using physical force to prevent its implementation.  However, Ned Stark was presently in no position to stop anyone from doing anything as he was currently undergoing severe alcohol withdrawal after having been tied to his bed in order to prevent him from running out of the house in a suicidal attempt to restock his liquor cabinet.  Much to Bran’s surprise, the rest of his fellow survivors didn’t object to his plan half so forcefully as he’d anticipated and some were even willing to help put the bell on the cat, so to speak. I suppose I shouldn’t be glad that at least some of them are brave idiots instead of just being…well…idiots.

“Cat, the solution to this is simple enough.  I’ll go instead and Brandon can remain here with you.  So long as –” 

“Edmure, you can’t be serious.”    

“I can and I am; why is it that you and father never take me seriously?  Seven Hells, Cat, I’m trying to save my nephew’s – your son’s – life and you look at me as though I just quit my job in order to become professional tap-dancer.  Your son seems to know more about those creatures than anyone else here.  Why?  I have no idea; mayhaps Others appear in children’s stories he’s fond of or…well…it could be any number of things, I suppose.  The point is that if he believes that the human part of them may still exist and that it might even be possible to reach it somehow, then mayhaps he’s right.  However, if Bran’s wrong, then an adult will have a far better chance of surviving the situation than a child.” If I’m wrong, then I’ll have gotten three of us killed no matter what happens, most like. 

“It has to be me, Uncle.  Arya’s probably going to be the easiest one to reach, but she won’t come if you go or…if she does, it won’t be her.  It’ll be an Other and she may not come alone besides.  If I go, she’ll come and she’ll come alone.  I don’t think she’d hurt anyone who comes with me until after she’s done with me either.  Tyrion was already able to rig father’s crossbow to shoot sharp pieces of wood and he said he’d cover me from the roof of MacRayder’s as long as someone else came along with some stakes to watch his back.  I’d just have to stand right in front of MacRayder’s and –” 

“As I recall, Arya was always…how shall I put it…less than fond of me and that was before some Other turned her into a presumably far more irritable –” 

“She hated your guts.  I did too,” growled Bran in a voice dripping with cold contempt. 

“Be that as it may,” continued Tyrion, “how can you be certain that she won’t attack me – or you, for that matter – the second we leave this house?” 

“I can’t really explain it.  I just…I just think she’d consider it sort of like cheating or something.” 

“You’ll forgive me for being less than convinced.  Of course, we’ll all be dead soon anyway, most like.  You truly think that you can save your sister?” 

“If I didn’t, would I be willing to put my life in your hands?  Out of everyone in the room I could’ve asked, you and my father’s crossbow were all the protection I felt I needed. What does that tell you about my confidence?”

“Tells me, the boy’s too dumb to live anyway,” grunted Craster.  “Might as well get rid of him before he gets us all killed.  Don’t much care for the dwarf either.  Or is it ‘midget?’  I forget what shorthand I’m supposed to use for ‘little person.’”  Fuck you too! Tyrion glared at the old bastard and opened his mouth to say something…only to close it again, having plainly decided that now was not an ideal time to insult a violent idiot who could beat him to a pulp without breaking a sweat.

“Mayhaps you will be able to save your sister, Brandon.  I truly hope you do and if so, mayhaps I can do the same for my brother Jaime too…assuming he was turned into an Other and not simply killed on the spot.  I suppose I’ll come with you, so long as Stannis is still willing to accompany us as well.” 

“I am.”


“Have all of you taken leave of your senses?  This it is madness!  I…I won’t let –” 

“Mother, being brave is ‘in’ right now.  You should be more supportive of Bran; he’ll never have any friends if he doesn’t stop doing things that are ‘out.’  This is a step in the right direct –” 

“Sansa, please stop helping me.” 

“But I was just –” 

“Not another word, Sansa.” 

“Yes, mother.” 

“Bran, can’t you see that I’m trying to protect you?  I…I don’t care if everyone else agrees to enable this suicidal insanity, I won’t have it!  Please, Bran, you and Sansa are all I have left and –” 

“At least you have something left,” grunted Stannis. 

“Stay out of this!  It…it doesn’t concern you.” 

“You’re wrong, Mrs. Stark.  What your son proposed concerns me a great deal.  I’ve always hated talking about myself and my family.  I always will, most like, but that’s what I’m going to do right now.  I was a terrible husband and an even worse father.  I never loved my wife and I only married her because my brother Robert once got me so drunk that I got the bloody woman pregnant.  In truth, I…I even dishonored her.  That’s a terrible thing for a man to admit, but it’s the truth.  I loved our daughter though.  Shireen was nothing like her mother; she was the kindest child any parent could’ve ever hoped for and never misbehaved.  Shireen was smart too; she did well in school and was always had her head buried in this book or that one.  She even knew when to say ‘less’ and when to say ‘fewer.’” 

“I’m truly sorry you had an unhealthy marriage, but what does any of this have to do with my son?” 

“Please, Mrs. Stark, this is not an easy thing to admit…that you’ve failed your family.  I would not speak of any of this if there was any other way I thought I could make you understand.  My daughter was born with the left side of her face twisted into some sort of grotesque shape.  It never bothered me; Shireen was my daughter and I loved her in my way just as you plainly love your son Brandon, but Selyse…  I…I never tried to protect my daughter the way you’ve been trying to protect your son, Mrs. Stark.” 

“Protect her from what?” 

“Selyse hated our daughter for being born with a misshapen face.  My wife would beat our daughter, chase her through the house with a newspaper or a belt, and I…I never did or said anything.  There was a time when Shireen called the police because Selyse was chasing her around with a golf club and I told the officers that my daughter had fallen down the steps.  I could’ve ended it then, but I…I even said my wife and I were eating dinner together when it happened.  Our daughter missed more than a week of school because her left eye was so swollen that it sealed shut and Selyse wouldn’t even let me take me take Shireen to a bloody hospital.”  All the survivors, save Craster who seemed more bored than anything else, were already so horrified that they would’ve begged Stannis to stop talking if they could remember the words required to do so…but they couldn’t, so he simply kept on talking…

“Once I had to go to a bloody parent-teacher conference because when one of Shireen’s kindergarten teachers asked her to stay after class, she buried her head in her arms and shouted ‘I’m sorry, please not in my face.’  Apparently, her teacher wanted to ask why she kept drawing pictures of herself being chased by monsters and Shireen had been beaten so often that she just assumed her teacher was going to hit her too…not that the school truly cared.  This was happening under my own roof, but I just looked away and pretended that I couldn’t hear my little girl screaming for me to save her.  I…I don’t even know why I didn’t try to protect her.  Mayhaps if I had divorced Selyse and moved out of this God-forsaken place, Shireen wouldn’t have…she might still be…”

There are some people who are plainly given to great displays of emotion, men and women whose sentimental natures are so self-evident that we are not surprised when they cry, whether it be at a movie or a funeral.  Stannis Baratheon was not such a man…nor was he the sort to share even minor details of this personal life.  The sight of such a hard, bitter man breaking down in tears as he told a collection of strangers and acquaintances about how he let his wife viciously abuse their daughter for years left the rest of the survivors in state of stunned silence.  Catelyn stopped arguing with Bran, Sansa stopped worrying about what was “in” or “out,” and for once Tyrion Lannister had nothing clever to say.

“I…I beg your indulgence.  You have to understand what it was like, Mrs. Stark.  Night after night, Shireen would be running around the house screaming ‘help me,’ ‘she’s going to hit me again,’ or sometimes she’d just scream ‘daaaaaaaaaaaaaady’ and I knew exactly what was happening.  I knew.  I knew even when there were only incomprehensible screams, but I never did anything.  I just locked myself in my study, turned the volume up as loud as I could on the bloody TV, and watched Civil War documentaries.  I…I even have one checked out from the library right now and it’s overdue.  I’ve never…never had anything overdue from the library before, did you know that?”  Catelyn silently shook her head.

“I never did anything; not even when Shireen came running into the kitchen while I was eating breakfast and started clinging to me like her bloody life depended on it…and mayhaps it did.  She was screaming ‘Don’t let her kill me!  I’m sorry, I promise not to be ugly anymore!  Please, father, I don’t want to burn!’  I looked at Shireen and I told…I told her that she should consider herself fortunate not to have been aborted.  I don’t know where the bloody words even came from; this town has a way of bringing out the worst in you…things that weren’t there when you moved here.” 

“And you just let your wife torture that poor girl,” gasped Sansa. 

“Yes, like I said, I don’t know why.  I do know that something died inside my daughter when I said that to her and she let Selyse drag her away from me without putting up a fight.  It was like I’d broken her somehow; Shireen never looked at me the same way again after that, not that I blame her.  Selyse pressed the left side of our daughter’s face against the bottom of a hot frying pan and threatened to set the poor girl on fire if she ever went outside the house without a brown grocery bag covering her head.  Her bag, it…it even had little eyeholes on it.  My brother Robert knew a doctor by the name of Pycelle whom he claimed could discreetly treat the burns and the man did just that.  Of course, I never told my brother or the bloody doctor all the details either.  Shireen’s face recovered, more or less, but after that the skin on the left side had a gray, charred look to it.  In truth, the flesh looks more like a cluster of gray scales than human skin at this point.  I’ve been a terrible father; a monster.  I didn’t save Shireen from my wife and I couldn’t keep her from being turned into one of those…those things either.  I saw her with my own eyes.  I saw her kill Selyse and then she sentenced me to death.  Mayhaps that’s what I deserve…” 

“What does this have to do with my son,” asked Catelyn, finally regaining her train of thought. 

“If your son is right and it’s possible to turn your younger daughter back, then it’s also possible to turn Shireen back.  If it is then I can still save her.  For once in my life, I can do something to help her.  And even if your son is wrong, at least you’ll still have a child left.  Please, let the boy try…if not for your own daughter’s sake then for mine.  Shireen does not deserve to die a monster.”  Before Catelyn could reply, a little girl’s sickly sweet voice cut through the air like a knife and Shireen – or at least, the thing that used to be Shireen – pressed its face against one of the front the windows. 

“Oh Mrs. Staaaaaaark, can Brandon come out and plaaaaaaaaaaay?  Mother says you can even come with him; it’ll be better that way.  You know we’re just gonna smoke you right out of your widdle old house if y’all keep trying to hide in there, right?  Why not get it over with?  Come on, it’ll be fuuuuuuuuuuuun!”  The monster’s pale, blue eyes flickered with childish delight as a cheshire cat grin spread across its face.

“What…what is that thing?  It’s even worse than the others!” 

“That, Mrs. Stark, is all that will be left of my daughter unless your son has found a way to turn our children back to –” 

“But I don’t want to be turned back, fake father, I reall don’t!  Luckily, it’s not even possible.  Oh and by the way, I still don’t forgive you.  I’m veeeeeerrrrrry angry that you made me accidentally kill fake mommy quickly by making her head burst open like a piñata.  That was awwwwwwwfully naughty of you.  You’ve done some veeeeeeeeery bad things, Stanley.  Like all the times you let my fake mother beat me or the time you…you…YOU LIED to the police!  You could’ve of saved me when I called them, but you didn’t, did you?  And what about THIS?  My face looks this way because YOU let fake mother burn me.  You let her burn your own child!  LOOK AT ME!  I look like THIS because of you!  YOU DID THIS!  LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID!” 

“DON’T LOOK IT IN THE EYE,” Bran and Sansa shouted in unison. 

“LOOK AT WHAT YOU AND FAKE MOTHER DID, STANLEY!  LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID TO ME!  I’M THIS WAY BECAUSE OF YOU!  Why didn’t you stop her?  I’ll never forgive you and STOP LOOKING AWAY!  Don’t listen to those two, this is about you and me, Stanley B.  LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID!  Look me in the eye and tell me you’re sorry.  Do it, Stanley!  Look me in the eye AND THEN let’s just see you try telling me how sorry you are; YOU’LL BE SORRY THEN AND –”

“It’s my daughter whose forgiveness I need, not yours.” 

“You don’t have a daughter anymore, Stanley, but I have a mother.  Yup, yup, yuppity, yup, you bet your hat I do!  I’ve got a real mother who never beats or burns me.  But ya’ know something, Stanley?  You’re being awful boring right now and it sure was awwwwwwwful rude of you to make me forget all about why I’m even here in the first place.  Okaaaaaay, I feel MUCH better now!  Ya’ll know what that means, folks?  YOU GUESSED IT!  We’re gonna head right on back to your regularly scheduled programing!  Now wheeeeerrrrreeee was I?  Right, I was about to tell Mrs. Stark about all the delightful opportunities that mother is so generously willing to provide her with free of charge…well…almost free.  All it’ll take is one quick deposit at your neighborhood blood bank.” 

“Who is this so-called ‘mother’ of yours,” asked Tyrion, scratching his head.

“Don’t ask, it’ll only confuse you if I try to explain how that works.  What’s taking so long, Mrs. Stark?  It’s the opportunity of a million lifetimes waiting for you the moment you open that door.  That’s right, you can live forever, fly forever, and even feed forever and ever and ever and ever!  Plus, you’ll have children of your very own too.  So what do ya’ say Mrs. Stark?  Is it a yes or do I get to huff and puff and BURN your dumb little old house right on down?  I gots ta’ say, I sure am hopin’ mighty hard for the second one, but that’s just me.  I’m sooooooooooo terribly sorry folks, but those boring old rulebooks I have to follow don’t say a single gosh darn thing about burning people’s houses down to make them come outside.”  Bran raced to the window and shut the curtains before anyone had a chance to look the monster directly in the eye. 

“Hey, no fair!  I didn’t even get to get a good look at anyone.  I see why mother doesn’t like you, Brandon.  You’re no fun at all!  No one likes a spoilsport; nope, nope, nopity, nope!”

“Tell Arya that I’ll meet her and her alone in front of MacRayder’s in twenty minutes.  Tell her that she can’t hurt the two people coming with me or let any Other burn this house down.  That’s the only way I’m leaving.  She can’t kill me if I get burned alive.” 

“Bran, please, you don’t have to –”

“Silly Brandon, don’t you know by now that nothing can save you?  Not even all the dumb little rules in the whoooooooole wide world can protect you from mother.  She’s reeeeaaaaaally mad at you…” 

“Do we have a deal or not?” 

“Hmm…deal or no deal?  Well gosh and golly gee, that sure is one heck of a big ole’ toughie.  Ya’ know what?  I’m afraid I’m gonna have to use a lifeline.  Leeeeeeeet’s see here, I piiiiiiiiick…PHONE A FRIEND!  What do you think, Mother?  Deal or no deal?” 

“Deal,” replied a second voice.  *THUD*  Seriously, mother?  Are you just going to faint every time you hear Arya’s voice?

“Arya,” gasped Sansa.  “But…but…but Others are ‘out’ right now.  If you wanted to get turned into a monster, why couldn’t you have at least become a zombie?  They’ve been ‘in’ ever since that George Romeo person died.  I think he did The Crawling Dead or whatever that weird dead people show is called.  Of course, it’s obviously ‘out’ because Joffrey said they never use the word ‘zombie.’”  Seven Hells, Sansa, is this ‘in’ and ‘out’ nonsense some sort of stress-induced psychological defense mechanism?  And it’s called The Walking Dead, not The Crawling Dead.  It wasn’t made by George Romeo either and even if it was, his name is…forget it.  This isn’t worth getting angry about right now.  Deep breaths.  They’re not trying to be idiots; they’re just too stupid to know any better.

“Welp, you heard it here first, folks.  ‘Deal’ it is!  That settles that!  Oh and remember, Brandon, you’ve got twenty minutes to show up, else I get to start dumping gasoline on the roof so take aaaaaaaaaaall the time you want.”  And with that, the two Others disappeared as suddenly as they’d arrived.  Not long after there departure, Bran said a quick goodbye to his still-unconscious mother and left the Stark residence, accompanied by Tyrion and Stannis.

Chapter Text

Bran

“I know why Mr. Baratheon is here, but why did you agree to help me,” asked Bran, scarcely bothering to conceal his disgust.

“You were very close with your sister Arya, weren’t you, Brandon?”  You better not be one of those people who always answers everyone’s questions with a question. 

“Yes.  So what?  What does that have to do with you?  I can’t imagine you ever liked her if even half the stories she told me were true and I know she hated you besides.” 

“Be that as it may, as it happens, I too have lost someone very dear to me whom I wish to save if at all possible: my brother Jaime,” replied Tyrion. 

“Why is your brother so much more important to you than the rest of your family?”  

“My family was has always been quite cruel to me.  They saw me as…less, as some broken thing to be discarded along with the rest of their trash…all except for Jaime.  He was not a bright man; in truth, he wasn’t even a particularly good one.  A horrible person by almost any objective measure, to be perfectly honest…and yet, he alone treated me as though the two of us shared the same blood.  My brother Jaime treated me not as a dwarf, but as a man…and one every bit his equal.  That, Brandon, is why I decided to help you: because I would do anything for my brother after all he has done for me…well…that and I’m the only one who is any good with a crossbow."

Unlike Tyrion and Stannis, Bran didn’t concern himself with the glowing red eyes in the windows of nearby buildings nor with the low growls emanating from the bushes in his neighborhood.  Somehow, he knew the monsters – whether they were Others or a different sort of abomination – would keep their distance…at least for now.  Bran also knew his sister well enough to realize that this was just her way of sticking her tongue out at him, most like.  It was like a taunt except that it was supposed to rattle him instead of just mocking him. 

However, something unexpected happened as soon as Tyrion and Stannis had positioned themselves on the roof of MacRayder’s: a thick fog floated out of a nearby stormdrain and for some reason Bran could see his breath.  Can Tyrion still see…don’t worry about hitting me, just shoot a stake at the fog.  Something cold and dead grabbed Bran’s right arm and every hair on his body stood at once the moment he felt the bitter chill of an Other’s icy breath on the back of his neck.  It seemed to grab him by the throat while digging ever deeper into his skin like the piercing bite of a thousand knives, each with a blade of cold steel. 

“Hello, Brandon.”  By the time the thing that used to be Arya finished speaking, it’d already dragged Bran so high up into the night sky that they were well out of range of Tyrion’s crossbow…although the stupid freezing fog still refused to go away. 

“Umm…hello, Arya.  Puh-please don’t let go!  I…I know you don’t really want to…to kill me.  Arya?” 

“I’m not going to kill you that quickly, stupid.” 

“You…you know that if you go any higher, I’ll pass out, most like.” 

“Oh right, I forgot about the altitude.  You still need to breathe, don’t you?” 
Bran nodded. 

“You don’t have to breath?” 

“Nope.  I don’t even think my heart still beats at all anymore.”  That’s…not a good sign…  “And you don’t have to close your eyes either, I promise.  I want you to be wide awake when I’m punishing you for what you did to Rickon.  It won’t hurt as much if your in some sort of stupid trance or whatever happens when I look food in the eye.” 

“Could you…umm…please stop calling people like me ‘food?’” 

“Why?  That’s what you are, isn’t it?” 

“What are you going to do to me?”  Maybe I shouldn’t have…no.  If nothing else, at least I bought everyone else some time…although knowing those idiots, I’m sure they’re finding new and innovative ways to waste it.  Mayhaps I never even had much of a choice; if I didn’t agree to meet Arya here, the Others would’ve just set my family’s house on fire and forced everyone outside.  Now they have to figure out some other way to…SHIT!  I made her promise not to burn down our parents’ house; we never made any sort of deal about the rest of the Others doing it.  She must’ve known what I meant though.

“I’m going to very carefully open your belly up and start removing your organs one by one.  After we’ve removed the ones that you don’t really need, Shireen will sew you right back up; you’ll get to eat whatever I’ve removed raw.  Once you’ve run out of non-essential organs, we’ll move onto your privates, fingers, toes, ears, tongue, eyes, teeth, hands, and feet.  Shireen really likes burning things for some reason, so I told her she could cauterize all your wounds with one of those little…umm…hold on…what did she call it?  A butane lighter?  I think she stole it from the Wallmart she burned down.”  For a moment, Bran was unable to hide his disgust at the depths to which this…thing had dragged his sister.  Arya would never even think about doing something like that…not even to Joffrey.  That isn’t her, Bran decided.

“What?  Why are you looking at me like that?  It’s not my fault this is happening to you; I don’t even want to hurt you at all.  I really don’t!  I wanted to give you new life, but you brought this upon yourself by murdering my son.”

“For the last time, I didn’t murder Rickon!  He was trying to kill –” 

“DON’T YOU DARE SAY HIS NAME, BRANDON!  YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT!  NOT AFTER WHAT YOU DID!  You…you…you better not say it again or I’ll…I’ll –” 

“What are you going to do?  Torture me to death?  Oh wait, you’re going to do that either way.” 

“Shut up.  Wait a minute…why am I even arguing with you about this?  It’s not a debate; you killed Rickon and that’s that.  Oh before I forget, do you have any last requests?  I may not grant them, but you know what they say: ‘negative thinking yields negative results.’” 

“Just one.  Should I make it or do you still want me to shut up?” 

“Yes…I mean…stop…stop trying to confuse me!” 

“Now it’s also my fault that you’re confused?” 

“Do you have a stupid last request or not?” 

“I wanted to talk about a memory with you…it was a time when we were…getting along a bit better.  Is that alright?  It won’t take long and it was a really good one besides.  I just want to remember some of the good times before you…umm…start cutting me open.”  Arya squinted and tilted her head to the right, plainly considering the request. 

“Fine, but this better not be some sort of stupid trick,” snarled the blue-eyed monster.

“Do you remember Sansa’s asshole boyfriend?” 

“Of course, I remember Joffrey.  I already paid him a visit and am making him detox right now.  I can make him do whatever I want and there’s nothing that dumb bastard can do about it…not really.  I made him drink some of my blood and now I’ve basically got his dice in a vice until he finally keels over…or until torturing him gets boring.  I almost killed him right away because I was still angry at him for what he did to Nymeria.  Why?  What does Joffrey have to do with anything?”  Okay, she remembers Nymeria and is still angry at Joffrey for poisoning her dog even though it happened before she got turned into an Other.  That’s a good sign…I think.  If I can just make her remember a happy memory then maybe…  

“Do you remember the time mother got mad because she heard you say that Joffrey and his siblings should be called ‘The Abortables?’  It was the day after that asshole pushed you down the stairs for calling him a ‘bastard.’  Mother didn’t believe you though…no one did except for Robin and me.  Everyone else just thought were lying because you hated Joffrey and felt too embarrassed to just admit you fell down the stairs.” 

“This…doesn’t sound like a very good memory, Brandon.”  


“That wasn’t the memory I’m talking about.  Remember how upset you were until I cheered you up by challenging you to a contest that night to see who could think of more insults about Joffrey?  I won and it wasn’t even close.” 

“You did not,” Arya almost instinctively replied, rolling her eyes.  It wasn’t a bad type of eye-rolling though and in truth, she looked mildly amused.  She’s not as angry anymore.  I don’t even think she’s still annoyed with me.  Maybe…maybe she’s even starting to be influenced by her old memories.

“Did too!” 

“Did not!” 

“Did too!  Remember, all you could think of was that he looked like a member of the Hitler Youth.  It was weird because you normally had about a million different ways to insult him and could barely think of anything that night.” 

“I could so think of better insults than you did!  I just…hurt my head when that stupid bastard pushed me down the stairs is all.  And what did you even think of that was so great anyway, Bran?”  She called me ‘Bran’ instead of ‘Brandon!’  Arya hasn’t done that since I killed Rick…since I killed the Other she’d turned him into.  If I can just make her laugh…not this monster…if I can make Arya laugh then there’s still a chance.  Everyone has a soul, even these things; I just need to reestablish contact with my sister’s soul and the best way to do that is by making fun of Joffrey.

“Don’t you remember?  You loved all those dumb puns I came up with; you know, like ‘The Creature from the Crack Lagoon’ and ‘Joffrey Dahmer.’” 

“Those weren’t dumb…not really.  Some of them were pretty funny.  The best part of that night wasn’t the jokes though, it was that I knew you cared about me.  No one else in our family even believed me except for Robin and he was…well…Robin.  You saw how upset I was that my own parents believed Joffrey instead of their own stupid daughter and spent the whole night trying to cheer me up.  You didn’t abandon me; you did what family members are supposed to do and…wait…hold on.  I don’t…I…I feel…something’s wrong.”  Suddenly, Arya’s eyes seemed to grow a shade less blue and a touch of color returned to her cheeks. 

“Arya?”

“Bran,” whimpered a terrified voice.  “Bran, is that you?  I…I’m sorry.  Fath…the one who bit me is make…he’s making me do it and…but I…I don’t want to…never meant to hurt anyone…  Something…something living inside of me.  HELP!  Please, I…I’m scared!  I can feel it eating me!  Soon I…I won’t be me anymore.  I tried to stop it, but…it…it controls…I can only watch and…and I’m afraid I’ll hurt more people…or you.  Please, you have to get it out of me, Bran,” begged Arya. 

“Arya, I know you don’t want to hurt me.  I know you never meant to hurt anyone.  I know you’re in there somewhere and –” 

“HURRY, IT’S COMING BACK…wait…what just happened?  How did…I mean…I don’t…I don’t feel very good.  You’ve got about two more minutes to wrap this up before I kill you,” Arya growled although she was rubbing her forehead with one of her hands and her voice trembled as she choked out the threat.  “Well…maybe…maybe I don’t have to…why can’t I kill…nevermind…I mean…umm…are you…are you done?  I feel…I think I’m getting sick or –” 

“Nope, I’m not done.  Remember what else I called Joffrey?  ‘The Man of a Thousand Possible Fathers.’  ‘Cumplestiltskin.’  ‘Draco Baratheon.’  ‘America’s Least Wanted.’” 

“What’s happening?  Stop…please, you’re making me feel…and I…I feel like I did before father chose me.  What…what did you do?  Please, no more or I…I won’t be the right me anymore.”  Suddenly, a laugh emerged from Arya’s mouth and the creature’s pale, blue eyes were soon filled with a desperate fear the likes of which her brother had never seen before.  It wasn’t the monster laughing though…well…it was and it wasn’t; it was the same voice, but Bran knew it was coming from his sister rather than the Other.  I can’t believe this is actually working!

“‘Jurassic Prick.’  ‘An Inglorious Bastard.’  ‘The Lyin’ King.’  ‘The Great White Dope.’  ‘Twelve Years a Slave to Impotence.’”  Before long, Arya had burst out laughing and Bran was certain there would be tears rolling down her pale, lifeless cheeks any second.  No, not lifeless…not anymore.  There was just enough color in them now that Bran knew his sister wasn’t completely dead.  As far as Bran was concerned, he was just telling a bunch of really dumb jokes, but for a moment Arya was laughing so hard that she seemed no more in control of herself than the weasels in Who Framed Roger Rabbit as they laughed themselves to death.  Each laugh was like an exorcism expelling another fragment of some demonic spirit from Arya’s body.  In truth, Bran wasn’t focused on the laugh so much as the words that followed it. 

“BRAN?  How did you…that thing in me, it…it’s gone.  Please, don’t let it come back,” begged a terrified voice. 

“Don’t worry, you’re going to be okay.”  

“I’m sorry for everything; that…that wasn’t me…not really.  I…I didn’t mean to hurt you or anyone else.  It was like being…being a prisoner; I could only watch and…umm…I…I don’t think I can fly anymore,” gasped Arya as she began inching closer and closer to the ground.  As long as we keep gliding down like this, it’ll be okay, most like.  Please don’t let gravity fully kick in at this height!  Seven Hells, that’d be just my luck, wouldn’t it?  I finally save Arya and we both die because she can’t fly anymore now that she’s not an Other.

“Arya, it’s okay.  Mother, father, Sansa, and I…we all know that you didn’t mean to hurt anyone.  You’re going to be okay, I…I promise!” 

“I can’t believe that you actually fell for it!” 

“What?” 

“I know I probably shouldn’t screw with your emotions like that, but you made it soooooooo easy and…well…I couldn’t resist.” 

“Wait…then you were just pretending?  I didn’t make you start to change back at all?” 

“HAHAHAHAHAHA…no.  I’ve pretty much just been fucking with you this whole time; it’s been pretty fun.  You should’ve seen the look on your face when you thought you’d actually changed me back to the way I was before father gave me new life.  Come on, Brandon, you’re supposed to be really smart.  How do you think this works?  What was your plan anyway?  Were you just going to remind me of a happy memory or make me laugh and say ‘I know you’re still in there’ or something lame like that?” 

“Of course it sounds stupid when you say it that way,” Bran muttered. 

“Oh wow, you…you really thought that was going to work, didn’t you?” 

“I mean…I…umm…”

“Seven Hells, how can someone so smart be so dumb?  I didn’t stop being me when this happened to me; my real father turned me into an even BETTER me.  I became what I was always meant to be; when father first wanted to give me new life, I was too stupid to release that it would all be for the best.  Everything was better after he gave me new life.  The old me is never coming back, stupid.”  The fog’s gone.  THE FOG’S GONE!  TAKE THE STUPID SHOT, YOU FUCKING DWARF! 

“Oh and don’t even bother stalling, Brandon.  I’m sure you’re wondering why your little friend hasn’t fired his stupid crossbow now that we’re within range, but here’s the thing: You know that fog around us earlier?  That was Shireen.  See how the fog is gone.  Hmm…now where do you suppose she could have gotten off to?  I wonder…” 

“Arya, please, it…it’s me, Bran.  Whatever happened to you, if…if this is really you and not some creature you were turned into then I…I know you don’t want to hurt me.  If you truly think that you want to hurt me in any way, then I’ll know that’s not really you doing this.  If you can hear me, I…I forgive you.” 

“Forgive me?  For what?  You’re the one who murdered Rickon.” 

“There has to be some small part of you that doesn’t want to kill me; I’m not going to give up on you.  I abandoned Rickon, but I’m not abandoning anyone else.  Please, you’re my sister and…don’t kill me for trying to save whatever’s left of your soul.  It has to be in there somewhere.  Please, I…I’ll find a way to turn you back…somehow.”  

“I have no soul for you to save…not really,” Arya sighed and for a moment, Bran could’ve sworn he saw genuine grief and regret creeping across the blue-eyed monster’s face.  She’s trying not to cry, Bran realized.  Can…can Others even cry?  Where would the water come from?    

“Are you…are you okay?”

“I’m fine, it’s just…you were right is all.  There is a part of me that still cares about you even if you’re not part of my real family.  Even if you don’t matter, some part of me will always love you and the rest of my fake family, most like.  I…I think I understand why Lyanna was so angry now.  It’s not that she cared that I was hurting the food; it’s that a part of her didn’t want to kill the food in that house.  She still shouldn’t be trying to kill me over it, but at least that makes more sense than being upset because someone upset the food.”  Lyanna?  The food?

“What?” 

“Nevermind.  What I meant was that I really did mean what I said about not wanting to hurt you.  Even thinking about it is making me sad now that you’re actually right in front of me.  I’m just…very angry at you is all…but you still murdered Rickon and nothing you do will ever bring him back.  I KNOW!  How about this?  I’ll give you a chance at a quick death.  That’s what you want, isn’t it?  If you survive the fall though, then I’ll have to come and cut you up like I was originally planning.  We’re not too high up any more…not really.  Maybe you’ll just break your legs…maybe.  Hopefully you land on your head so that it’s over in a few seconds.” 

“Survive the fall?  WAIT, ARYA, THAT’S NOT WHAT I –” 

“I should be feeding you your appendix right about now, but I guess that deep down I don’t want to make you suffer after all…not really.  The things I do for love,” sighed Arya as she turned into a thick fog that slipped right through Bran’s fingers. 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!”  *THUD*

Stannis

The last Baratheon truly hated himself for hiding, but it all happened so fast.  The thing that used to be his daughter had suddenly appeared from some sort of thick fog right in front of Tyrion, looked directly into the poor man's eyes, and commanded him to drop his bloody crossbow off the roof.  As for Stannis Baratheon, he simply closed his eyes and tried to hide.  He'd always thought of himself as a strong man who would never run away from whatever needed to be done, but his recent confession had left him a broken man.  It was as though admitting all that he'd let his late wife do to their daughter had caused Stannis to shatter into a million pieces, sapping every ounce of courage he'd ever had.  And so, it was that he closed his eyes and hid, trying to drown his fear in self-loathing.  In truth, it worked...that is, until a little girl’s sickly sweet voice came dancing along the roof. 

“Don’t worry, Stanley, mother says I can’t bite either of you…yet.  Right, Typhoid or whatever your name is?” 

“Mother says…can’t bite…yet.  Right, Typhoid…whatever...name is,” moaned Tyrion. 

“Don’t worry your iddy biddy widdle head about him, Stanley.  Your little friend will be juuuuuusssst fine.  Mother told me before y’all got here that I couldn’t even give either of you so much as one teensy weensy brain aneurysm like I did to fake mother before you caused me to make her head go kablooey.” 

“Please, leave me alone,” hissed Stannis.  It was the monster’s bloody voice that frightened Mr. Baratheon more than anything…it was like a toxic valentine written with a rusty nail that had just been dipped in arsenic: all at once as sweet as caramel, as bitter as vinegar, and as deadly as sulfuric acid.  If antifreeze could speak – happily giggling with childish malice as it slowly flowed down a doomed man’s throat – then it would surely sound just like the thing that used to be Shireen. 

It was a reminder that the world contained things which were not what they seemed as though they should be and that terrified the last Baratheon.  In truth, everything terrified the man now; he was hardly even a shadow of his former self, but that wretched voice cut to the core of his entire worldview.  A man was entirely one thing or entirely the other; there was no middle ground and even small paradoxes were decidedly unwelcome.  The idea that some entity could speak with the voice of an innocent child – and mayhaps at times even behave like a child in its way – while simultaneously sounding as though its heart’s greatest desire was to slice open some poor bastard's throat with a straight-razor…such things simply had no place in the world as Stannis Baratheon had always understood it.  

Furthermore, the last Baratheon was not a man given to reflection.  On the contrary, reflection was to be viewed with suspicion for it was one of the surest roads to doubt and thus, the disruption of the routines which such men oft depend upon as they seek to bring some small degree of order to a fundamentally disorderly world.  As a result, Stannis was particularly ill-equipped to handle those rare challenges to his notion of how the world functioned – and there had been quite a few during the past 24 hours – which were simply too great to ignore.

In truth, the last Baratheon had been so beaten down by all that had happened that willful ignorance seemed the last remaining refuge; denial his armor and self-loathing a mighty shield.  The world no longer made sense anymore...not when the dead could fly and voices could be two fundamentally incompatible things at once.  What man would want to live in such a world?  Order and certainty were, after all, the two great pillars upon which all else rested.  Without both gone, what could survive?  It wasn't cowardice.  There was no shame in hiding from such madness and the last Baratheon was certain that Tyrion and the Stark boy would understand this...if they were still alive.

“Oh where, oh where has my Stanley gone?  Oh where, oh where could he be?  THERE YOU ARE!”  Please, just leave me alone.  What was I thinking coming out here?  That…that thing is not my daughter.  She’ll never come back no matter what I do and…please, leave me alone…stop…talking!  PLEASE!

“I can’t very well hurt you if I’m busy looking this dumb dwarf in the eye, now can I?  Who’s a dumb dwarf?”  

“I am…dumb…dwarf,” groaned Tyrion. 

“THAAAAAT RIGHT!  You’re a dumb dwarf.  Oh yes you ARE!” 

“Shireen, it’s time to go,” said a second voice. Seven Hells, the other one’s here too.  That means Bran’s dead already, most like…or worse.  

“Mother, can’t I just kill Stanley now?  PLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSE?” 

“No, I made a deal and Bran, he…he kept his end of it.” 

“So?  He should’ve known better.  Why should I suffer just because he's dumb enough to take us at our word?  I won't take long, I promise!  What if I just light him on fire?” 

“No.  We have to let his friends get back to my fake mother’s house without hurting them.  A deal’s a deal.” 

“Why?” 

“Because you’re supposed to keep your word…even if you’re just giving it to some stupid piece of food.” 

“But –” 

“This isn’t a discussion.” 

“Fine,” sighed Shireen.  “Don’t worry, Stanley, I promise that soon we’ll be playing together lots and lots reeeeaaaaal soon.  Of course, my mother won’t try to save you then, nope, nope, nopity, nope…”  Stannis opened his eyes and saw the thing that used to be his daughter slowly floating away next to a slightly taller female Other.  Seven Hells!  The bloody thing is waving goodbye.  Stop doing that! 

As if in reply, the blue-eyed monster stopped waving goodbye, smiled, and slowly ran its right index finger across its throat.  Stannis did the only thing he could do: grind his teeth until the two Others disappeared into the night…only to fall backward in surprise upon the moment he turned around upon noticing a third Other floating right behind him. 

“What…what happened?  Why do I feel hung-over when I haven’t even had anything to drink yet,” groaned Tyrion, rubbing his forehead.  “Wait…what happened to that bloody crossbow?  Where's Brandon?”

“I know you; you were one of Chief Mormont’s daughters,” growled Stannis, ignoring the dazed dwarf's inquiries.

“No, he’s not my father…not anymore.  And he died a long time ago besides,” sighed the creature that was once Lyanna Mormont.  “Anyway, I know you to, you're the grumpy old person who used to somehow be related to Shireen.  I never liked you.  You always seemed really mean and angry whenever you came over to my fam...my old family's house.  Anyway, those things, they…they may be my family now, but I’m not like them…or at least, I don’t want to be like them.  I don’t want them to keep hurting people either, it’s wrong.  I remember my old family and how Arya, she…she stole them from me.  Now I’m alone and…I don’t…I can’t let them do that to anyone else.  I want to help you kill them.  All I ask is that you let me be the one to kill Arya and that you let my father live.  He’ll leave with me when Arya’s dead; I know he will!  I don’t think he’s very smart, so he just does whatever he’s told, most like.  Can I help you kill the rest of them?  Please?  Oh and by the way, your friend just had a bit of a fall.  I don’t know if he’s still alive, but I’d get on that if I were you.  Just a thought.”

Chapter Text

"Uggggghhhhh.  What…what happened,” groaned Bran as he forced his eyes open.  Stannis?  And Tyrion’s here too?  They’re alive?  Did it work? 

“You had one…wait sorry, that’s a bad grown-up word.  You had one heck of a fall; that’s what happened.  I’d have enjoyed watching a lot more if that murderer hadn’t been the one who dropped you though,” replied a third voice. 

“My plan, it…it worked?  Arya, is that –”  Wait a minute, that’s not Arya’s voice and…OH FUCK ME, Bran silently screamed as an Other raced down from the sky and grabbed him by the throat.  Both of the beast’s pale, blue eyes were blazing with anger and it opened its mouth as two razor-sharp fangs swung forward. 

“Don’t EVER call me that again,” seethed the Other.  “My name is not ‘Arya;’ it is ‘Lyanna.’  L-Y-A-N-N-A.  Lyanna.  If you call me ‘Arya’ again for any reason, it will be the last thing you ever do so help me God.  You’d better get that through your dumb little skull right now, you stupid…stupid…AARRRRGGGGGGHHH,” roared pale-skinned creature as it threw Bran right into Stannis before floating over to MacRayder’s and punched several holes into the wall with its tiny right hand.  Now what? 

“What’s that thing doing here?  Why didn’t it kill me,” asked Bran.  That’s…odd.  Why can’t I get up?  Was I really thrown that hard? 

“Apparently, that thing –”  *CRASH*  Did it just throw a tree into MacRayder’s?  How strong are those things?  And why does it care so much that I called it by the wrong name?

“I have a name, Tyrion.  You wouldn’t like it if everyone called you a midget, would you,” growled the Other as it floated away from the pile of rubble once known as MacRayder’s. 

“People have been calling me far worse things than ‘midget’ my entire life.  Take our friend Brandon over here.  The young man is quite fond of calling me a ‘drunken dwarf.’” 

“But you don’t like it, do you?” 

“No, I certainly do not.”  Don’t look at me like that; maybe if your crackhead dipshit of a nephew wasn’t always beating Sansa, tormenting Arya, and calling me a ‘faggot’ I might not hate your family so much.  You brought it on yourself by being related to him.

“Well…I don’t like when people call me ‘that thing’ either.” 

“Fair enough.  I shall do try to keep that in mind.”  

“Good help is hard to find these days,” sighed the Other, rolling its eyes.  Tyrion shrugged. 

“Brandon, your plan…umm…it didn’t work.  Unfortunately, your sister did not change back, although you were right about her not trying to kill Stannis or myself.  The Other who just…err…threw you is Lyanna.  Apparently, your sister killed her family and –” 

“My old family.” 

“Right.  Arya killed her old family and she has agreed to help us kill the rest of the Others so long as we don’t harm her father.  Speaking of which, who exactly is your…umm…new father?” 

“I think his name was ‘Robin’ or something like that.  And I’d really appreciate if you gave aunt Shireen the opportunity to leave too since we’re friends, or at least…we used to be.  I don’t think she’ll agree to leave Winter Falls with me like my father would though.  We’ll have to kill her too, most like, but she still deserves a chance.”  Wait…what?  But…but none of this makes any…NO, you know what doesn’t make any sense?  The fact that I still expect anything to make sense in this stupid town.  I hate it!  Why did I have to be born here?  What did I ever do to deserve any of this?

“Get off me,” growled Stannis. 

“I…I’m trying.  Something’s wrong with my…wait, what…what’s going on?  Why can’t I feel my legs?”  I…I can’t feel anything below my waist.  Fuck me!  Fuck!  Fuck!  FUCK!

“Yeeeeeeaaaaah, so…umm…about that…your two friends kinda dropped the ball and –” 

“YOU HAD ONE JOB, YOU STUPID DWARF!  ONE JOB!  You…you couldn’t just fire your dumb little crossbow when the fog went away?”  

“I suppose one could say Tyrion only had eyes for Shireen during your flying lessons,” snickered Lyanna. 

“I hate you all,” growled a harsh, grating voice from beneath Bran. 

“At least you can have more children; I’ll never have any!  And you –” 

“For the last time, my name –” 

“Yes, yes, yes, you’re name is Lyanna; I’m well past the point of giving a fuck.” 

“Careful.” 

“Or what?  You’ll break my legs?”  

“Do I look like my grandmother to you?” 

“Who?” 

“Nevermind.  Look, if you don’t stop being such a nasty jerk-face, I’m going to break every joint in all five of the fingers of your left hand.”  

“Fuck off, you stupid Other!  I…I hate all of you!” 

“I’m not helping you and the rest of the food because I’m your friend, Brandon.  Now you’re really starting to annoy me; you’ve been warned…” 

“You promised to stop calling us ‘the food,’” muttered Tyrion. 

“Oh yeah, sorry about that.  Anyway, what I meant was that just because I think torturing foo…I mean…people for fun is wrong and want to get revenge for my old family’s deaths doesn’t mean I want to be friends with any of you.  Shireen’s old father is a grumpy craven, you seem like one of those stupid jerks who treats everyone else like poop when he’s the one who needs their help, and Tyrion…well…actually, I kind of like him.  He’s silly!  I don’t know why you all seem to hate him so much.”  Tyrion grinned and gave a small bow. 

“It would seem that my wit is legendary even among the undead.”  What are you smiling about, asshole?  I can’t walk because you screwed up by looking an Other directly in the eye and you’re too busy accepting complements by some stupid little kid’s floating corpse to even apologize.  Stupid drunken dwarf!

“Do you want me to bite you?  Your jokes are really funny, so I’d be willing to make let you join my family.”  Tyrion’s smile vanished almost instantly, much to Bran’s delight.  Before long, his skin was near as pale as Lyanna’s and the useless drunk actually started shaking once the Other’s fangs began prying its mouth open. Serves you right!  Stupid dwarf.

“No, I…umm…I’m…err…flattered by your generous offer, but I…umm…I’m afraid I must decline it.  You see, I…well…I’m afraid I quite like the sun and –”  

“You don’t have to make excuses, it was just an offer,” replied the Other although in truth, the blue-eyed monster looked more than a little bit disappointed. 

“WILL BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP!  If I have to sit here and wait to die because I can’t run away, I certainly don’t want the two of you to be the last thing I hear.”

“Remember what I said about your fingers, Brandon.  I mean it!  One more word and you’ll be sooorrrrry.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead, make my day!”

“Fine.  I’ll yell at Tyrion instead.  It’s –”

“I’m truly sorry, Brandon, but –” 

“Sorry?  YOU’RE SORRY?  I can’t…I’ll never be able to walk again, but you know what?  Everything’s gonna be just fine now because Tyrion’s ‘sorry.’” 

“Brandon, one of those things appeared out of nowhere and looked me directly in the eye.  I don’t even remember what happened after that, else I would’ve shot at the Other that used to be your sister. 
In truth, it’s not my fault you can’t walk since you would’ve still fallen as soon as your sister – or whatever that thing was – died.”

“I don’t care whose fault it is!  I’ll blame whoever I goddamn feel like blaming and…and, I…I HATE THIS PLACE!  AAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH”    

“Riiiiiiiight.  So anyway, I should probably fly the three of you back to…umm…where is it you’re even hiding anyway?  We can talk more when you’re all safe.  Arya and Shireen will be back soon to see if Brandon’s dead or not, most like.” 

“Good.  Let them kill me!” 

“Not now, Brandon; the grown ups are talking.”  FUCK YOU, YOU STUPID FLOATING FREAK! 

“You know what?  I –” 

“I need to put your brain in timeout until you calm down about your stupid legs, don’t I?”  

“What are you talk…wait a minute…NO!  Don’t you dare…I mean…no, stop look…looking…at…me…or don’t…do what…whatever you…want.  But why…wait…I feel…I feel…must be dreaming.  Baaaaack to sleeeeeeeep,” Bran happily sighed as Lyanna looked him directly in the eye. 

At first Bran tried to look away, but it soon became plain that only a fool would ever try to resist.  The deeper he stared into the Other’s eyes – no, not eyes…it was more like losing oneself gazing at a clear blue sky on a hot summer day while floating peacefully in calm ocean that covered a world contained entirely within two pale, blue orbs – the less everything around him seemed matter.  A short man was screaming something unimportant.  Bran was dimly aware of some unpleasant fact about his legs, but surely whatever it was could wait.  The long stream of drool running down his chin was also irrelevant, that much was certain.  As Bran felt his heart stop beating and the world became a blue blur, a new feeling swept over the eldest surviving son of Ned and Catelyn Stark like a cool evening breeze.  By the time the world went black, he was feeling something he hadn’t felt in quite some time: happy. 

“Uggghhh, my head hurts.  I feel –” 

“BRAN!  You’re alive!  Oh you don’t know how worried I was about you.”  Wait…mother’s hugging me?  What am I even doing back at my parents’ house?

“I already I told you that I didn’t kill your mean old son; he just can’t walk anymore, but that’s not my fault.  I didn’t bite him, I swear!  Now will you all please let me inside,” whined Lyanna. 

“NO!  You can’t come inside my home.  I…I won’t allow it!  My son barely had a pulse when you brought him here.”  Wait a minute… 

“GOD DAMN IT, I’m sick of all these stupid blue-eyed assholes making me forget whatever bad thing just happened.” 

“BRANDON STARK, language!” 

“Look lady, all I did was look Brandon in the eye and make him stop breathing until he passed out so he wouldn’t be so historical…no, that’s not it.  So he wouldn’t be so…so…umm…hysterical!  That’s the word.  He was acting hysterical and I helped calm him down.” 

“My son’s face was blue when you brought him here!  Is that your idea of calming him down? 
Why would you do that unless you were trying to hurt him?” 

“Umm…to calm him down.  Duh.  Anyway, Tyrion said your son only turned blue because I overdid the whole ‘make Brandon’s brain stop breathing’ thing a little bit.” 

“Actually, ‘cerebral hypoxia’ was the term I used, Mrs. Stark.  Apparently our new friend’s idea of calming Brandon down was depriving his brain of oxygen until he passed out.  Fortunately, he seems to be fine…or rather, he doesn’t seem to have suffered any permanent damage as a result.  Of course, I suppose some degree of permanent short-term memory loss is still a possible risk.” 

“Excuse me, Mr. Lannister.” 

“Yes, Sansa?” 

“Now’s not the time to show off your medical knowledge or whatever it is you’re doing.  My mother had already lost her first son to drugs long before the Others showed up.  My father is a violent alcoholic and he’s not like Joffrey either.  Your nephew would’ve gotten better one day if he were still alive.” 

“I sincerely doubt that and I imagine you’re much too smart to believe it either.”  

“I have to believe Joffrey loved me…even if the drugs made him do horrid things sometimes.”  

“I’m afraid my dear nephew has always had one deep and unabiding love: killing his younger brother’s kittens.”  

“The boy sounds like a bloody idiot,” chuckled Mr. Craster.  “Puppies are far more trusting, less of a struggle that way and they taste better besides.”  Wonderful.  I see that it’s only night two of the apocalypse and not only do my legs not work anymore, but I’m also trapped in a house with Ed Gein Jr. over here.  The hits just keep on coming. 

“Your nephew is dead, most like; show a little bit of respect.  And Joffrey would’ve changed for me one day.  Dangerous men being healed by the power of love has been ‘in’ for years, but that’s beside the point.  My father isn’t like Joffrey…he loves my mother, but he’ll never change.  Not for her or even for any of his children.” 

“Are you quite certain that you want to display your family’s dirty laundry in public like this.  Look at your mother; the poor woman is shaking.” 

“You’re really going to lecture me about that, Stannis?  After you just finished telling everyone about all the dreadful things that happened at your own house?”  That seemed to shut up the last Baratheon and the dumb bastard went back to grinding his teeth as he resumed his efforts to drown himself in a sea of self-loathing. 

“Sansa, I say this in the most respectful way possible, but…err…what exactly is your point?” 

“My point, Tyrion, is that my mother had already suffered a great deal even before the Others came.  On top of that, in less than 48 hours she’s seen one son get paralyzed from the waist down, lost another son and a daughter to those…those…things, and –” 

“What is it with you people and calling us ‘things?’  We have names too, ya’ know.” 

“I’m not talking to you and interrupting people without saying ‘excuse me’ is ‘out’ besides.” 

“You’re all as crazy as my family,” muttered Lyanna.  Oh and you’re some sort of great paragon of sanity, is that the idea?   

“As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, my mother has suffered a great deal and she doesn’t need anyone making it worse by giving us ten paragraphs of medical jargon about whatever that Other did to Bran.” 

“Is ‘Lyanna’ really that hard a name to remember?  Tyrion calls me by my name; why can’t the rest of you?” 

“Point taken, Sansa.  I apologize, Mrs. Stark, for any unnecessary pain I may’ve caused you; that was certainly not my intention.  In any case, the color has already returned to your son’s face and say what you will about Lyanna, but he never would’ve been returned to you had she not flown the three of us back here.  I do think you should let her inside; she also claimed to have useful information to share with us.  Lyanna may be a bit…how can I put this…rough around the edges, but she seems to have retained a significant degree of her humanity and former identity.” 

“He’s right, Mrs. Stark,” grunted Stannis.  “We’d be dead without that thing, most like.” 

“You’ll be dead in ten seconds if you call me ‘that thing’ again.  Can’t I just come inside already, Mrs. Stark?” 

“Fine.  Come in.  I don’t even care anymore.  We’re all going to die anyway, most like.”  Suddenly, the door swung open and the thing that was once Lyanna Mormont – and mayhaps in some way still was – floated into the Stark residence.  Within seconds, the whole house had grown so cold that everyone could see their breath.  Seven Hells, I forgot about that… 

“Bran, as happy as I am that you are still alive, I’m afraid I must needs draw the line at inviting the undead into my house without permission.  That is simply unacceptable behavior, young man.” 

“It is?  Man, I’m sure glad you told me that, otherwise I might’ve said all the Others could come inside this house.” 

“Brandon, are you going to calm down or do I have to make your heart stop beating again?”  Bran’s face turned blue again…albeit due to impotent rage rather than a lack of oxygen, but in truth, there was nothing he could do except stop talking until he no longer felt the need to blindly lash out at everyone in sight over what had happened to his legs.

“I can be calm,” Bran growled through teeth clenched near as tightly as a bear trap that had just delivered a cold, steely bite to some unfortunate creature’s leg.  

“Good boy.  Listen, I…wait…shoot…what was it I wanted to tell you all?  It was something really important.  Hmm…hold on…what was I going to say?  Gosh darn it…umm…oh right!  My family –” 

“You mean the Others,” asked Edmure, scratching his head. 

“Whatever.  Look, they live in the sewers and the crates we sleep in are down there too.  Apparently my grandmother thinks that she can buy my forgiveness by giving me my own crate to sleep in as a gift.  I’ll take it, but that doesn’t change what she did; I’ll never forgive her!  I think they have someone or something guarding them during the daytime, so you’ll have to kill them at night when they’re coming back.  Father gave me new life after I got caught trying to kill them during the day.  Doing it during the daytime doesn’t work for some reason.” 

“Wonderful.  So you’re saying we have to go into the sewers and kill an army of those things while they’re awake,” asked Tyrion. 

“I’ll do my best to help you and since you promised that no one would kill my father that’s two less of us you’ll have to worry about…maybe even three less if we can figure out a way to take out aunt Shireen without killing her, but I doubt she’ll agree not to try to avenge her mother’s death.  Worth a shot though.  And like I said, I’ll do whatever I can to help you kill them.” 

“Lucky us,” grunted Bran, spitting on the dark gray carpet. 

“I don’t think all of you should go down together though.  You all argue so much that my family will hear you and taking them by surprise is pretty much the our only chance besides.  Arya always has either aunt Shireen or my father with her, but mayhaps we’ll get lucky and the other two will come alone.  I guess we could try having a few of us go down at time; that might make more sense.” 

“I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” snapped Mr. Craster.  The rest of you lot can go get yourselves killed, but I’m a godly man and the Gods help those who have half a brain in their head, not those who go around lookin’ to get themselves killed by a pack of blood-suckin’ freaks.  And I ain’t bein' ordered around by no floatin’ cunt child either."  

“Mrs. Stark, can I please kill that man?” 

“Are you out of your…no, you may not murder Craster or anyone else in my house!” 

“Pleeeeeaaaaaaase?  I promise not to feed on his blood until after he’s dead, so he won’t come back.  I can even do it upstairs so no one has to watch if that would make you feel better.”

“No means no!”

“But he called me the C-word, Mrs. Stark.  I once heard my old mother tell my old sister Dacey not to call her teacher that word because it was the worst thing you could ever call a woman.  I don’t know what it means though.  My old mother got really upset when I asked her about it though, so it must me something pretty bad.” 

“Shut yer cunt mouth, some of us is tryin’ to sleep.” 

“HE DID IT AGAIN!  What if I just cut off his head and don’t feed on any of the food’s blood…sorry, Tyrion said you guys don’t like being called that for some reason.  What I meant to say is ‘what if I kill Craster or whatever that man’s name is and don’t feed on him.’  That’s a fair compromise, right?” 

“This is NOT a negotiation.  Does my living room look like a slaughterhouse to you?  I will not have you murdering people in my house.” 

“Even in the kitchen?  There’s no carpeting to stain in there.”

“Absolutely not!”

“Fine,” sighed Lyanna.  In truth, had she not been floating several feet above the ground, one could’ve easily mistaken the blue-eyed monster for a young child who’d just been denied an especially large slice of chocolate cake.  “Well…I’d never kill someone in another person’s house without permission, soooooooooo…I guess I’ll just have to do it somewhere else.”  Before anyone could react, Lyanna was already right behind Mr. Craster and somehow the blue-eyed monster was able to knock so-called godly man unconscious simply by pinching the base of his neck.  After Mr. Craster had been incapacitated, the pale-skinned creature began slowly dragging him toward the front door by his left leg.  Resting upon Lyanna’s face was a smile which contained all the pride a big-game hunter who had just slain some sort of mighty beast. 

“WAIT!” 

“What now?  Let me guess, I can’t kill him on your front lawn either?” 

“Lyanna, I knew your mother and –” 

“I don’t have a mother anymore.” 

“Very well.  Would you feel better if I called Maege your ‘old mother?’”  The pale-skinned child – for the creature was plainly very much a young child, even if she was an Other – gave a grim nod.  

“I really miss her, Mrs. Stark.  I…I know I’m not supposed to care what happens to anyone like you people because you’re all food, but I do.  I don’t want my old mother to be food…or my sisters.  Something’s wrong with me or…I don’t know why I’m the way I am…I just…I just…I…I just want my old mother back,” whimpered Lyanna as her pale, blue eyes began to grow watery.  Oh cry me a river; at least you can still around fly everywhere.  I’m sure whatever happened to your old family was terrible, but you’re only a little kid and you can throw trees.  Do you know what most kids your age would give to be that strong?  At least you got something in exchange for all the terrible things that happened to you.  I just lost most of my family and can’t walk anymore.

“I’m sure you miss her just as I miss the three children I’ve lost, but she’s still alive.” 

“What do you mean?  I saw what my grand…grandmother did, she…she turned her into some sort of muh-mindless, savage animal.  It was horrible; I…I killed…I had to have my aunt k-k-kill her.  I asked Shh-Shireen to light my old muh-mother on fire for me so she wouldn’t…wouldn’t suffer anymore.  I…I didn’t want her to live that way…not as one of those things.  She…my old mother deserves…she deserved better than that!  And Shireen, she…she likes burning things for…for some reason so I…I thought it’d be better for everyone.” 

“Your old mother is still alive.  She’s inside of you, Lyanna, and she always will be…but only if you can keep your humanity despite what those…things did to you.  Your mother would be proud that you were strong enough not to let yourself become a monster.  I won’t try to stop you from killing Craster.  The Gods know he’s an absolutely revolting man and in truth, I can’t say I’d shed a tear for him if you did kill him.  I only ask that you think about what you are about to do…and what your old mother would think about it.” 

“What my old mother…NO!  That…that’s not fair!  You know Craster deserves it.” 

“If your old mother were in this room and knew that you were about to kill a man, it would break her heart.” 

“Stop…stop trying to guilt me!  How do you even know what she…what she’d say, anyway?” 

“Because my youngest son and my daughter were not as strong as you…that’s how I know.  You’re not the only one here who lost kin to this scourge.  I lost at least two children and I wasn’t there to protect either of them when it happened.  Mayhaps I wouldn’t have made any difference or mayhaps one of them would still be alive and I’d be dead…or worse.  I’ll never know for sure, but I do know what it felt like to know that one of my daughters was so lost that she thought nothing of breaking her brother’s legs.  And as painful as that was, I know how much more it would hurt me as a mother to know that she was capable of killing someone.  Arya and my son Rickon, they never would’ve done something like that; they weren’t able to hold onto the people they used to be the way you did.  If you kill this man then you’ll also be killing the humanity…the part of Maege Mormont that still lives within you.  Despite all that has happened, you still have a chance to be the type of person your old mother would have wanted you to be; don’t throw it away for some small-minded pig like Craster.  He’s not worth it.”  Lyanna opened her mouth to say something, closed it without making a sound, took one more look at Craster, and threw him across the room.  

“Fine.  I won’t kill him, but don’t push your luck.  Whether or not you knew my old mother, I’m not your friend.  Don’t forget that…”

“Enough of this foolishness.  What we should be discussing is which of us this creature is going to lead down into the sewers first.  So, anyone have any bright ideas for how we figure that out,” asked Edmure.

Chapter Text

I like this not at all.  I don’t care how many tunnels there were, we never should’ve split up after Lyanna “forgot” which direction the crates were in…and wasn’t that a rather convenient bout of amnesia.  We should have picked a tunnel and stuck together once we went down into the sewers.  At least the others had a more reliable group, Ned Stark not withstanding.  Who do I have accompanying me?  Stannis Baratheon already proved that he is no longer a man to be relied upon.  Whatever happened to him on the roof of MacRayder’s reduced him to little more than a self-hating shell of a man who trembles in fear at the sight of his own shadow.  The man’s sanity is hanging upon the edge of a knife.  A little push and he’ll be eating his own vomit, most like.  Lyanna cannot be trusted either, that much is certain.  Mayhaps she’s fooled the others, but I don’t believe that she suddenly forgot her way around the sewers for one minute.  The last Lannister tightened his grip around the single wooden stake he’d brought with him despite knowing full well that would not save him if his worst fears came to pass. 

I suppose it could be worse, at least she seems to genuinely enjoy my company.  Mayhaps I can distract Lyanna long enough for Stannis or Craster to stake her if the worst should happen…or at least parlay whatever goodwill she may have towards me into a clean death.  Distracting an enemy by telling jokes may be an awful plan, but at least it’s a plan.  Craster C. Craster.  Now there’s a man who seems destined to run into an unfortunate accident or two amidst all of this filth.  Whatever Lyanna’s true intentions may be towards the rest of us, she plainly means to kill our resident “Godly man” before leaving these sewers.  I suppose Craster will die the same way he lived: like a piece of shit.  

“I think this was the right way,” Lyanna shouted in a voice that was just a touch too excited for Tyrion’s liking.  Right on schedule.  No, I have to stay calm.  There’s still time to think of a plan…I hope. 

“Well then, we’d better hurry back and try to find the others before they get lost.” 

“Oh, don’t worry about them, Tyrion. 
The rest of your friends will be juuuuust fine.” 

“Don’t talk that way,” whined Stannis.  “You sound like…that’s…that’s how she would’ve said ‘just.’” 

“Why whomever do you mean?”  Seven Hells, she’s hardly even pretending anymore.  At least, Bran and Sansa are safe.  They’re both smart enough not to let anyone into that house until daytime. 

“You know who I mean.” 

“I can’t stop unless you tell me the name.  Or is this some sort of game? 
Silly Stannis, tricks are for kids.” 

“Shireen.  Her name is Shireen.  Now please…please stop talking that way,” whispered the broken man. 

“OH RIIIIIGHT, that poor little girl.  How silly of me, I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything that might remind you of her.  I know it’s an awfully sensitive subject for you.  Aunt Shireen told me about all the terrible things she did to you.  I’d stop if it were up to me; I actually hate talking this way.  But this whole thing was Shireen’s idea, so we’ve got to play by her rules.  Is that better, Stanley,” Lyanna sneered.  A wicked grin spread across her face and Stannis threw-up at the sound of the nickname his former daughter had given him.  Her pale, blue eyes began to emit a strange glow and the last Lannister quickly made sure that no one was looking the monster directly in the eye.

“I’m going to go and see if I can find the rest of –”  Suddenly, there was a swift gust of wind and Tyrion almost walked right into a vicious creature with cruel, hungry eyes. 

“Go?  So soon?  No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.  The only way you’re leaving is over my dead body.  Well…over my undead body.” 

“I really must insist –” 

“And I really must insist right back that you’re exactly where you belong.  Am I getting through to you,” Lyanna asked.  The pale-skinned creature tilted its head so far to the left that for a moment, it looked as though it was about to fall right off.   

“Yes.  Yes, I understand.” 

“Why the long face, Mr. Lannister?  I promise it’s nothing personal…well…not with you anyway.  I actually feel kinda bad that you had to get caught up in all of this; I didn’t mean for you to die.  And just to prove that I’m telling the truth, my offer from before is still on the table.  It’ll just be a teensy weensy prick and then you’ll live forever too.  You’ll barely feel a thing, I promise.  I…I didn’t want to be like this either at first; I was only going to bring Stanley to aunt Shireen and in exchange she promised to let me kill my grandmother.  I told myself that I wouldn’t let anyone else go down to the sewers and I’d make up for it by killing uncle Ramsay and my great-grandfather, the one who is in charge of my new family.  But then I got sooooooo hungry and…well…you all looked good enough to eat.  Even then, I tried to kill Craster so that I’d only have to feed on someone who deserved to die anyway, but I soon realized how silly I was being.  You’re all food and you…you don’t…don’t matter since I…since I became new me…or wait what’s…ARRRRRRGGGGGGHHH…RUN!  You have to run, Tyrion.  You don’t deserve to die like those two, run!  HURRY!  Now, before I…I…no, can’t…can’t…sooooooooooo hungry.  Need…food!  Just…just a few drops.  Please, I won’t take much, I promise.  I can’t bite Stanley, he be…belongs to Shireen.  Just a one quick bite is all it’ll take.  Please, Tyrion, I…need food.  I don’t need to feed for long.  Can I just have…have a few drops.  You won’t…won’t even notice. 
Please…feed me,” begged Lyanna.  

“STOP CALLING ME ‘STANLEY!’” 

“SHUT UP, STANLEY! 
You’re make…you’re making me…making me hungry!”

“Stop.  Stop it, please.  I…I can’t hear you…can’t…please, leave me alone,” moaned Stannis. 

“Lyanna?  Lyanna, I want you to listen to me very carefully.  Whatever is happening to you; you must needs fight it.  I know you don’t want to hurt me.” 

“Food talk…talking too much.  Need…I want…food!”  Mayhaps it’s best if she doesn’t think about me right now…

“Think of your old family.  What would Maege Mormont say if she were here right now?”  

“FOOOOOOOOOOOD!” 

“Okay.  Yes, I understand that you’re hungry.  Anything else?” 

“Not…not food,” asked Lyanna, tilting her head in confusion.  

“No.  I…umm…I’m not food.  I am Tyrion; I know that you know who I am.” 

“You’re my friend.  Not…friends are not…but you’re not one of us and…and…NO!  I won’t eat Tyrion.”  

“That would certainly me my vote, for what it’s worth.” 

“Stop being silly…can’t focus on…focus on eating the…FRIEND NOT FOOD,” shouted Lyanna, slapping herself in the face with her right hand.  You poor little girl…  You really don’t want to hurt anyone, do you?  She’s fighting as hard as she can right now, most like.  Lyanna Mormont is trying harder to protect me than anyone in my family ever did…even Jaime, Tyrion realized.

“I…I have…new…a new family,” wheezed Lyanna as tears began to drip from her pale blue eyes.  “S-s-sorry…not me anymore…save yourself…please, I…I don’t want to…trying not to hurt you…I’m sorry, mother…I just…I can’t…FOOD!  HURRY UP AND DIE, BAD ME!  THE SHORT FOOD IS GOING TO GET AWAY,” screeched a savage beast.  The bloodthirsty roar was screamed using Lyanna’s voice and yet somehow it was though someone else entirely were speaking…almost as though the little girl’s body was the dummy in some sort of twisted ventriloquist’s act.   

Even though he wanted nothing more than to take Lyanna’s advice and run as far away as his legs would carry him, the last Lannister found that he couldn’t bring himself to leave the frightened child to her fate…and not just because he suspected the evil within her would rip out his throat if he did.  In truth, it was plain that to go now would be to abandon whatever good remained in Lyanna Mormont…her blood would be as much on his hands as the monster that turned her into an Other and that was something that Tyrion could not abide.  Not after she’d fought so hard to keep herself from attacking him... 

“No.  I’m going to stay right where I am and help you defeat whatever monster the Others planted inside of you.  Listen to me very carefully, Lyanna.  There is no ‘good you’ and no ‘bad you.’  There is no ‘old you’ and there is no ‘new you.’  You are whoever you choose to be, but for better or worse, it will still be the same person.  I’m going to keep standing right here and together, we’re going to make sure that you don’t die.”  

“What?  NO!  You…you can’t stay.  You’ll die.” 

“Then I suppose I’ll die, won’t I?  Saving a friend is worth risking one’s life, wouldn’t you agree?” 

“Friend?” 

“Yes.  We are friends, aren’t we?  I would certainly like to think so.” 

“Yes, we are…you can’t be friends with the food, you idiot.  Stop…stop it.  I’m not an idiot, I…” 

“Don’t listen to that…thing.  It isn’t you, Lyanna.  It’s okay, I’m not angry at you.  In truth, I’m not even afraid of you,” Tyrion lied.  At least the rest was true…  

“But I…I might make you a monster like me.” 

“It would seem that’s a chance I’ll just have to take.  Although, in truth, I don’t think you’re a monster.  At least not yet…”    

“But…but I…I don’t want to hurt you.  You were funny and…and…and you were nice to me even…even though I’m a monster.  You and Mrs. Stark treated me like…like I was still…like I was still…NO!  I DON’T WANT TO HURT HIM!  PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME,” wailed Lyanna.  The terrified child collapsed to the ground and began banging her head against the ground so hard that she left a small hole in the cement. 

“Enough of this bloody noise,” growled Craster.  SHUT UP!  If she hears so much as a single insult come out of your mouth, this will all be for nothing, most like.

“HELP!  Please, get it out of me!  My great…great-grandfather…his blood is in all of us after being…being bitten.  I can feel it inside…inside of me…changing me.  It…it only keeps the parts it wants.  I…I’m scared.  GET OUT OF MY STUPID BODY!  Why are you still alive?  This is taking way too long!  Go away, I don’t want to hurt anyone.  It’s okay to hurt the food and…NO!  LEAVE ME ALONE!”

“You’re not a monster.  Mrs. Stark and I treated you like a person because you’re still human, at least as far as I’m concerned.”  

“STOP!  Can’t…my head hurts…and I…I…”  Suddenly, Lyanna shoved Tyrion out of the way and vomited some sort of strange blue liquid all over the floor.  

“Get back…I…I’m getting it under control and…and I…you go find the others and warn them.  Lord Bolton is waiting by the crates and my grandmother is around here somewhere too, it…it’s a trap.  Brandon and Sansa are in danger to; someone has to warn them about…about…don’t tell them, you idiot!  SHUT UP!  You…you’re not the boss of me!  I will be soon!  GO AWAY!  You’ll die in me and then I’ll be you.  That…that’s not true.  Don’t worry, soon we’ll be a new, better you forever and ever.  Kill…kill me now; I don’t want to die as a monster.  HURRY!  Please, while I…while I still have some of my soul left.  I’m keeping Stannis, but that fat jerk Craster can go with you.  Hurry, before it’s too late,” sobbed the frightened little girl. 

“Who are you calling a ‘fat jerk,’ you dumb bitch?  Shut yer cunt mouth!  I’ve had about all of yer blubbering that I can stand.  Shame yer mother wasn’t killed earlier so we could be spared all this non-sense.  I’d be sleepin’ on a couch right about now if it weren’t fer you and yer mouth, ya’ fish-faced cunt,” snarled Craster.  YOU IDIOT!  Do you have any idea what you’ve done?  You’ve doomed us all!  An inhumanly wide smile spread across Lyanna’s face and her predatory eyes flickered with delight like those of a cat that had just trapped some mouse’s tail beneath it’s paw as it watched its hapless victim run for its worthless life.  There was no longer any doubt as to whether Lyanna would become an Other or remain a human.  Tyrion said a quick prayer for the friend he’d just lost.  Lyanna Mormont deserved better, but there simply wasn’t time to give the dead their due…not during The Long Night.

“I…I don’t know what happened there.  For a moment, Mrs. Stark and that dumb dwarf made me forget who I really was…who I was always meant to be.  They had me all confused and made me forget how lucky I was to be given new life.  Thank you for reminding me, Mr. C.”  Without another word, Lyanna disappeared into a thick fog that raced up Craster’s nostrils as though it had a mind of its own…and mayhaps it did.  The cruel idiot began clutching his head and screaming in pain, but his cries didn’t last long.  As soon as Craster fell to his knees, his head exploded and there was the thing that used to be Lyanna Mormont – drenched in blood from head to toe – floating right above the neck of Craster’s headless corpse.

“Now wheeeeere were we, Tyrion?  Now I remember!  You were trying to hurt me.  You wanted to stop me from killing the dead part of me…the bad part.  The part of me that was still food.  I know you’re scared, but that’s just because you are food and food never understands until it has been given new life.  After that, you’ll realize that it’s all for the best…just like I did.  Soon you’ll be just…like…ME!”  Oh fuck me…  As bad as the situation was, the moment Tyrion turned his head, he realized that things were far worse than he’d thought.  There was a chance – however, small it might be – that there was still a part of Lyanna that could be reasoned with, but the other one…  

“STANNIS, BEHIND YOU!”  Before the last Baratheon had a chance to respond, Shireen burst from the shadows and sunk her fangs into his throat…but only for a moment. 

“Tsk.  Tsk.  Tsk.  Don’t ya’ know that nobody likes a party-pooper, you silly old dwarf?” 

“Beech…Feech…Seech?  Weech…Meech…Greech…Peech…Teech…Leech,” moaned the last Baratheon as his body began violently thrashing about on the floor. 

“Sorry, Stanley.  I only drank exactly half of your blood and since that’s anyone is ever gonna drink, you’re spend the rest of eternity like this.  Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to hear and understand me, you just won’t have any control of your body.  When mother gave me new life, she drank a little less than half my blood so things weren’t this bad, but I remember how awful it was…  Oh and by the way, side effects may include excruciating pain, speaking in gibberish, and a living H-E-double L.  What do you think, Lyanna? 
Was I too easy on him?”

“I don’t care, just make sure you don’t call Tyrion a dwarf again.  He doesn’t like it,” snapped Lyanna.  “You should really be nicer to him.  I’m going to give Tyrion new life which means you’ll be seeing a lot of him from now on.”  Lucky me. 

“Him?  You can’t be serious.” 

“I am,” growled Lyanna. 

“Okay, okay.  Sheesh.  No need to get so testy.”

Lyanna slowly glided over to the last Lannister and two razor-sharp fangs pried her mouth open.  Suddenly, Stannis’ stake went flying through the blue-eyed monster’s chest and she disappeared in a green inferno.  Tyrion shuddered as a small pile of ash landed on his chest.

“Awww shucks, I guess I wasn’t really gonna let her hurt mother after all.  Mother takes keeping her promises very seriously; she won’t even break her word to food for some reason.  Seems kinda silly if you ask me.  Lyanna could’ve been my bestest friend in the whole wide world, but I warned her not to try and hurt my mother.  OH WELL!  It’s really her own fault; she should’ve realized what happens to people who try to come between my mother and me.  I guess it’s just you and me, isn’t it?  Hmm…leeeeeets see…since I’m not allowed to call you a dwarf, I think I’m going to call you ‘Lanny the Lannister’ instead.  Sound good?  Sorry, my mother taught me to never play with my food…unless you’re torturing it.  I always torture my food, so I have the time of my life during every meal.” 

“My name is ‘Tyrion,’ not ‘Lanny.’  Surely even you can grant me that much dignity before I die.” 

“Gosh and golly gee, I guess it’s a good thing you don’t get a vote, isn’t it, Lanny?” 

“My name is –” 

“Hold on, I’ve got another one.  What about the Jolly Blonde Giant?  Hahahahahahahahahahaha!  I crack myself up sometimes, you know that?”  That’s right…keep laughing.  Just a little closer to the ground and then we’ll see how jolly you think I am… 

“No, no, the Giant of Lannister!  *snort*  The Mayor of Munchkin Land!  Hahahahahaha!  The jokes write themselves.  Wait…wait…wait a minute, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: ‘Little Tyrion in big trouble.’  This is just too much fun.  I wish you could see the look on your angry widdle face.  HahahahahaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH,” screamed Shireen as Tyrion leapt into the air and drove his stake through her heart.  That was much too easy.  Does everyone lose their ribcage when they get turned into an Other or something?

The two foes were engulfed in a green flame and yet it only seemed to burn the blue-eyed monster.  Well at least the two stakes were put to good use, the last Lannister thought to himself as he slowly picked himself up off the ground.  Tyrion’s relief was short-lived, however, for floating at the far end of the tunnel was the thing that used to be Arya.  The blue-eyed monster was staring at him with its mouth wide open as if in a state of shock.  Tears were pouring down down the creature’s cheeks like twin waterfalls.  Oh give me a fucking break!  I just killed an Other and nearly talked another one into forcing itself to stay human.  I’ve earned a bloody piece of good luck, damn it! 

“You…you killed her.  Sh-Sh-Shireen.  You…you muh-muh-murdered my daughter.  The only daughter I’ll ever have is dead because of you.  Brandon murdered one of my children and he’s going to pay for that soon, but you…I’m going to take care of you personally.  What kind of monster of monster would even do something like…something like that anyway?  How could you murder just murder her in cold blood like that?  You…you’re worse than Joffrey, you sick freak!  I hate you!  You…you don’t get to be food.  You’re going to pay for…pay for what you did to my family…for…for what you did to Shireen.  You’re going to s-s-suffer the way she suff-suffered…you…you…you MONSTER!”  This…is going to end really badly for me, isn’t it?  WAIT A MINUTE…did that thing just say I was worse than Joffrey?

“Me?  Did you actually just call me a monster?” 

“Shireen, she…she was my…my only daughter and you murdered her for no reason.  What kind of stupid food are you anyway?  You enjoy killing children, is that it?”

“No reason?  She was about to kill me, you bloody lunatic.” 

“I don’t care!  Shireen was an innocent little girl and you murdered her!” 

“An innocent…what part of ‘Shireen was about to kill me’ don’t you understand?” 

“Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!  SHUT UP!  You don’t get to say her name; not after what you did!  You’re just food and that means we’re allowed to do whatever we want to you, not…not the other way around.” 

“I have to say, you are remarkably thin-skinned for a destroyer of worlds.”  Seven Hells, I’ve been thinking about this all wrong.  These aren’t mindless abominations or emotionless killing machines; they’re ordinary people who’ve been possessed by some sort of bloodthirsty entity while retaining bits and pieces of their former selves.  They may not consider themselves human, but they plainly have human emotions.  Well…the original one might not, but the rest certainly do.  And if Lyanna reacted that positively to being treated with unexpected kindness…Brandon was right!  It may still be possible to reach the people some of them were before being bitten.  What I wouldn’t give to have Catelyn Stark with me right now…  Mayhaps if the first Other – the patient zero, so to speak – is killed, the rest will even turn back to normal.  I wonder…

“I said shut up, you…you…you big stupidhead!  I…I hate you!  Shireen, she…she wasn’t like Rickon either…not really.  She loved me and…and I…I should’ve been there to protect her from you.  Whenever I leave one of my children, some sick freak murders them because you’re all stupid and evil and…ROBIN!  He’s with Ramsay right now; I can’t believe I left him alone with that monster for this long.  I have to find him; he’s probably wondering where I am right now!  He must be so scared and…and if father tries to get in my way then I…I…I’ll kill him!  I can’t lose Robin too!  I’m a horrible mother and Rick…Rickon was right.  My children would all be better off if I was dead,” wailed the blue-eyed monster, burying its head in its hands.  The creature seemed to be in such a pathetic, miserable state that – much to his surprise – Tyrion found that he couldn’t help but pity the sad, lonely creature.  Whether it was merely a small shred of Arya that had survived the transformation or something else entirely, there was something profoundly human about the blue-eyed monster’s grief.

“I…umm…I’m sure you weren’t a horrible mother,” blurted Tyrion. If treating Lyanna kindly made her want to spare me than mayhaps I can do the same thing with this monster.  

“You’re right.  It’s not my *sniff* my fault that *sniff* that Shireen is dead…not *sniff* not really,” the pale-skinned creature replied as it wiped away bitter tears on its left arm.  “You did it.  You’re…you’re the one who murdered her.  It’s your fault and no one else’s that Shireen’s dead.  I’m going to save Robin, but before I do, I’m going to show you what happens to people who hurt my children.  Don’t worry though, you’re going to have some company in the deepest of the Seven Hells.  Brandon should be joining you reeeeaaaaaal soon.”  Well that…was not the reaction I was hoping for…shit.  At least I outlived the rest of my kin; I wonder what father would have to say about that…

Before Tyrion could even try to run away, the thing that was once Arya slowly raised its left hand, pointed at him, and made a fist.  Tens of thousands of leeches charged out of the water and every pipe in the tunnel.  Within seconds the last Lannister was completely overrun as the slimy, black creatures swarmed him and quickly chewed their way through his clothes.  They began crawling up his nostrils and down his throat.  Soon both of Tyrion’s ears were clogged with wet slime from the black death worming its way across his entire body, pushing its way into every hole on his body.  The last Lannister could even feel hundreds of the soft, moist creatures squirming up his anus and pushing their way into his rectum.

And yet the leeches seemed determined to leave just enough room for their victim to breath – albeit barely – when attacking his facial orifices…almost as if they wanted to draw things out for as long as possible.  The worst part was that Tyrion could feel the smaller ones forcing their way inside of his manhood.  For once, the second son of Tywin Lannister found that he could not form a single coherent thought.  It was all he could do to simply cling to his sanity and even that seemed to be slipping away.   

Suddenly, several of them began take little bites out of Tyrion’s left eyeball.  The last Lannister opened his mouth to scream, only for hundreds of leeches to fill his mouth with their wet, wriggling filth.  Soon they all began taking a bite here and a bite there…and yet the little bastards were slow and methodical about their work, that much was certain.  It was as though they’d been possessed by some strange, malevolent power whose sole purpose was to systematically wipe the last Lannister out of existence one tiny piece of flesh at a time.  Tyrion soon felt them eat first his eyes, then tongue, and finally both of his lips…to say nothing of the ones which were slowly nibbling at various inessential organs within his body.  However, once the leeches finished eating his member – the stick and both stones – the pain had driven the last Lannister mad and things didn’t hurt quite as badly anymore.  In truth, by the time his heart stopped beating, he barely felt a thing…and not just because the leeches had already begun eating his brain. 

Tyrion Lannister was long dead by the time the leeches finished their work and like a school of starving piranhas, they didn’t stop until there was not so much as a single scrap of flesh left.  In fact, all that remained to suggest that he had ever existed was a small skeleton.  And not even the dead dwarf’s bones outlived their owner by more than a few minutes, as Arya quickly ground every single one of them into dust with her bare hands. 

Chapter Text

“They’ve been gone too long.  Do you think…I mean…should…should we go down into the sewers and look for them,” asked Sansa, pacing around the family room nervously. Go down there?  ARE YOU INSANE?  They had a bloody Other helping them!  What could the two of us possibly do?  If…if they’re all dead then we should just wait until morning and get the hell out of this stupid town like that officer did.  He had the right idea.  I…I should’ve listened and…wait a minute…what are you doing? 

“SANSA, GET AWAY FROM THE DOOR!  It’s the only reason either of us is still alive.  And…umm…I’m sure everyone who went down there is fine besides.  You saw how strong Lyanna was, she…she threw Craster across the room.  I even saw her uproot a tree with her bare hands and punch a hole in a brick wall like as easily as you or I would swat a fly.  I’m sure they’ll be safe with her helping them.” 

“And you trust that thing?  Lyanna is one of those monsters and…well…you’ve got to use your head, Bran.”  Oh hello Mr. Pot.  I want to introduce you to my good friend Mr. Kettle.  “You saw what they did to Arya and Stannis’ daughter, we both did.  We both know what they are; how can you trust any of them after everything that’s happened?” 

“What choice do we have?” 

“You’re just so scared of dying that you’d rather we live and run away tomorrow morning while everyone else in this town dies tonight than risk your own life.  Were you always such a coward?”  Well fuck you too!

“Don’t you dare call me a coward, not after everything I’ve been through.” 

“If the shoe fits…” 

“I tried, Sansa.  I went out there and faced that…that…that thing living in our sister’s body without any sort of protection and now I’m paralyzed from the waist down.  I risked my life trying to save Arya and what’d it get me?  It got me stuck on this stupid armchair, that’s what!  What did you ever do that was so brave?” 

“You can do what you want, Bran, but I’m going to look for the others and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.” 

“You’re saying that sewers are ‘in’ right now?” 

“They’re…well…they’re obviously not…  That was a dirty trick and you know it,” snapped Sansa as she stormed away from the front door.  Sorry for saving you from your own stupidity.  Don’t worry, it won’t happen again…  After we get out of this hellhole, you’re on your own.  I never want to see anyone from Winter Falls ever again!  I HATE THIS PLACE! 

“Are sewers ‘in’ or ‘out?’” 

“You know as well as I do that they’re ‘out,’ but…but being brave is ‘in.’  Helping your family is ‘in,’ but dying is ‘out.’  Nothing makes sense any more,” moaned Sansa, burying her face in her hands.  Wait…seriously?  Others attacking Winter Falls and turning our nephew, two of our siblings, and the Gods alone know who else into undead abominations because our uncle invited them here as part of some sort of deranged plot to murder our father so he could marry our mother…that…that’s all fine with you, but not being able to decide whether going into the sewers would be ‘in’ or ‘out,’ that’s just a bridge too far?  THAT is where you draw the line?  REALLY?  Seven Hells, Sansa!  I mean, give me a fucking break! 

“Well…we all have problems, don’t we?  You can’t decide whether going on a suicide mission in the sewers of our Others-ridden cesspool of a town instead of just waiting another hour or two for the sun to come up would be ‘in’ or ‘out.’  I am paralyzed from the waist down because some sort of bloodthirsty monster took over our sister’s body and made her drop me from who knows how high in the sky.  Of course, that was after the Others turned Arya into a psychotic undead abomination who is apparently convinced that people become her children once she’s infected them with whatever stupid STD that the Others seem to give everyone they feed on.  Oh and I also had to kill Rickon because he’d also been turned into some sort of deranged…thing that was hell-bent on murdering me.  Then there’s the time an Other whom I’ve since been forced to take at its word nearly killed me on the spot for accidentally calling it ‘Arya.’  And we certainly don’t want to forget about all the shit I’ve had to take from every dumb idiot in Winter Falls for my entire life.”  

“I’m pretty sure there aren’t any smart idiots, Bran.  ‘Dumb idiots’ is just redundant,” Sansa sighed, rolling her eyes is disgust.  I hate you so much right now. 

“WERE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?” 

“I tried at first, but it’s not worth the effort it takes to pay attention to you when you get like this.” 

“Wait…what’s that supposed to mean?” 

“It means that I have…we both have enough problems right now without you ranting about how sorry you feel for yourself.” 

“EXCUSE ME?  I can’t move my fucking legs; I’ve earned the right to feel as sorry for myself whenever I God damn please!” 

“I’m sorry Arya – or whatever she is now – broke your legs.  There.  Happy now?  What happened to you was horrible, but guess what, Bran?  So is everything else that’s happened since you, Arya, Robin, and Rickon went to that stupid veterinarian’s office.  All you’ve done since you lost your legs is complain and complain and complain.  It’s exhausting!  You are exhausting me and we both have more important things to worry about right now.” 

“I’m exhausting you?  Oh well, that changes everything.  I mean, I’m just paralyzed from the waste down, but clearly you’re the one who is suffer –” *SLAP* 

“OWWW!”  That…that really hurt.  I never would’ve guessed she could hit so hard.  Sansa, she…she never hit me before… 

“Stop making everything about you!  Seven Hells, Bran, I don’t even have words for how disappointed in you I am right now.  You think things have been bad for you?  Rickon is dead and he died as some sort of murderous undead…thing.  If what you’ve been saying is true, then Arya is still a prisoner in her own body.  Imagine how scared she must be watching in mute horror through her own eyes as that monster forces her to drink people’s blood – and not just people, innocent children – and try to kill her own family.  We both know how much she cared about Robin; she loved him more than the rest of us combined, most like.  Arya would’ve killed for that little freak; how do you think whatever’s left of her felt when it was forced to attack her?  And what about mother?  What do you think it’s been like for her seeing her children being demonically possessed or whatever and knowing that she’s powerless to save them?  How about knowing that she may even end up having to kill her youngest daughter?  Did you ever once think about that even before you went and got yourself crippled?  No, of course not.  All you ever think about is yourself and how unfair life has been to you.  Guess what, Brandon, life’s been pretty fucking unfair to all of us lately so grow up and do it soon!  If you can’t manage that, then we have nothing left to talk about.” 

“Sansa, I...wow…umm…okay…maybe I deserved that, but –” 

“I know you did, that’s why I said it.” 

“Well…I feel like kind of shitty right now.”  

“You’re not a piece of shit, Bran.  I just wish you didn’t act like one quite so often.” 

“Seven Hells, Sansa, enough already!” 

*KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  *KNOCK*  *KNOCK* 

“Sansa?  Hello?  Sansa?  Please *snort* let me in, I *snort* I’m scared!” 

“JOFFREY!”  Great, just what I needed right now!  Wait a minute…

“SANSA, DON’T LET HIM IN!”  

“What?  Why?” 

“Look through the peephole and make him show you his neck.” 

“Why?  Bran, he’s in danger and –”  Oh good, for a second I forgot why I hate everyone here.  I don’t know what got into me.  Bloody idiots. 

“He could be one of those…things.  Others always bite people’s necks, everyone knows that.  If Joffrey is still human then he won’t have any bitemarks there.” 

“FUCK OFF, YOU *snort* STUPID CUNT!” 

“JOFFREY!” 

“I…I wasn’t *snort* talking to *snort* you.  I…umm…I was *snort* talking to your stupid *snort* crippled brother, Bran.  Look through the *snort* stupid peephole.  See *snort*?  No *snort* marks on my *snort* neck.  Please, you *snort* have to let me *snort* in now!  Hurry, before she *snort* comes back!  If I’m not *snort* inside by then…”   

“Don’t worry, Joffrey.  I…I believe you.  I just have to unlock the door.”  *CLICK*  Wait a minute, how did Joffrey know I was crippled unless… Suddenly, the door swung open and hit Sansa in the head so hard that it send her crashing to the ground.  Is she dead?  No, she…she just moved a little.  Joffrey, he…he shouldn’t have been able to slam the door into her that hard. 

“Don’t look so surprised, Brandon.  I told you we’d be seeing each other again real soon, didn’t I?  Did you think I’d just forget about you after what you did to my son,” asked Joffrey in a flat, emotionless voice. 

“Arya?  But that…that’s not…that’s –” 

“Impossible?  Really, Brandon?  After everything that’s happened since my father came to Winter Falls, demonic possession seems impossible to you?  Improbable mayhaps, but impossible?  No.  Do you know what I did to the stupid, evil, sadistic little piece of shit who murdered Shireen?”  Shireen’s dead?  That…that’s one down.  Mayhaps there’s still hope…

“I’m sure you’re about to tell me…” 

“I sent an army of leeches to slowly eat Tyrion alive one at a time until there was nothing left but his stupid bones.  Of course, some of the leeches started with his skin while the other ones ate him from the inside out.  When it was over, I ground that child-killing monster’s bones into dust, so now it’s almost like he never existed.  It didn’t bring my daughter back to me, but it was all I could do for her by then.”  SHIT! 

“Wait, let’s…let’s be reasonable, Arya.  There’s no…umm…no need to get emotional.  Can’t we talk about this?” 

“I…I should’ve been there to save Shireen, she was just an innocent little girl and…and she needed me.  I may have failed her as a mother, but at least I was able get justice for my daughter.  No one will ever get away with hurting my children.  Not Jon’s stupid dog, not Tyrion, not my brother…and not you.  You murdered Rickon and now you’re going to get exactly what you deserve.”  

“You…you’re going to send an army of leeches to eat me?  I don’t deserve that!”  

“Yes you do, you…you…you big stupidhead!  Don’t worry though, I’m not going to kill you that way.” 

“You’re not?” 

“No, I’m going to GIVE ME BACK MY *snort* BODY, YOU DUMB *snort* BITCH!” 

“What the Seven Hells going on?” 

“Mind you’re own *snort* fucking business, you crippled *snort* faggot.  BAD JOFFREY!  I’m not your *snort* fucking *snort* dog!  If you interrupt me again, I’m going to neuter you with a rusty knife.  Do you understand?  Yes, I…I’m s-s-sorry *snort*.  Good dog!  Now run along, your master is very busy right now.” 

“I am so confused right now,” blurted Bran. 

“What?  That?  It’s nothing, I just…made Joffrey drink some of my blood is all.  Now he can’t control his own body…not really.  He’s my puppet and I can make him do whatever I want.  It’s a bit like being in two places at once.  For example, I can deal with you and rescue Robin from my brother Ramsay at the same time.  Do you remember what I told you I was going to do if you survived your fall, Bran –”  *CRACK*  Joffrey fell to the ground as Sansa cracked one of her father’s empty beer bottles over his head.  


“What?  That’s it?  You’re not going say ‘I think we should see other people’ or something like that?”  

“Seven Hells, Bran, cheesy post-mortem one-liners are ‘out’ this year.  Everyone knows thaaaAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH,” gasped Sansa as Joffrey leapt up off the ground and opened her throat with his switchblade.  Bran’s mouth hung open in shock and for the first time, he realized just how dearly he still loved his eldest sister.  

“You…you…you killed her.  Why…why are your eyes blue?”  

“They are?  Huh.  That’s odd,” muttered the knife-wielding monster.  Bran watched the dark streaks of red and blue blood intermingle as they spread across Joffrey’s corn-colored hair.  Looking an Other directly in the eye while it was inhabiting a human host wasn’t dangerous, most like, but the sole surviving Starkling had no intention of finding out.  

“Yes.  Your eyes aren’t green anymore.  You’re not –”  

“Not Joffrey?  Nope, not anymore, I’m not.  Joffrey’s dead; Sansa killed him with fake father’s stupid beer bottle.  I guess it’s just you and me now, isn’t it?”  Liar.  

“And who are you supposed to be?” 

“What do you mean?  It’s me, Arya.  You murdered my son, remember?” 

“No.  You’re not Arya anymore…if you ever were.  You’re just some sort of monster that’s using who she used to be to hurt people.  Both of my sisters and at least one of my brothers are dead because of you.  If there was even the tiniest bit of Arya left in there, you never would’ve been able to kill Sansa…just like you couldn’t kill me before when you had the chance.  Instead you broke my legs…  Thanks for that, by the way,” Bran sneered as he dug his hands into the armrests of his chair and bent his elbows. 

“I…I didn’t want to kill Sansa tonight…not really.  I was just…planning to feed on her is all.  She’d still be alive, but as a mindless animal.  That’s all you and her are, Brandon: food.  I came here for you though, so it’s really your fault Sansa’s dead.  If she hadn’t stayed here to watch you –”  No, this is all wrong!  You’re supposed to be angry, not mildly disappointed.  Okay, if she thinks Sansa’s death was just an unfortunate consequence of something she had to do, then let’s try something else. 

“Sansa stayed because she loves her family.  You never loved any of us, did you?  Our brother did and Lyanna loved her family, that’s why they tried to fight against being turned into –” 

“I loved all of you before father gave me new life; you know that as well as I do, so you’d better stop trying to say I didn’t!”  I suppose mildly annoyed is a little closer to blind rage, but it’s going to take a lot more than this to make her completely lose control. 

“Mayhaps you were just too weak to fight it the way they did.” 

“HEY!  I am not weak!”  Closer. 

“Rickon was always stronger than you, most like.” 

“I told you never to say my son’s stupid name ever again!  You don’t have the right, not after the way you butchered him.  Do you hear me, you…you stupid –”  Damn it, Arya’s still too far away and she’s not angry enough besides.  Let’s see… 

“NO!  You’re the one who doesn’t have the right to say Rickon’s name!  You say he was your son?  I say it’s your fault he’s dead.  You’ve known me since the day mother brought me home from the hospital and yet you didn’t know how much I’ve always hated him.” 

“You…you what?  I don’t believe you.” 

“Why would I murder someone I liked?” 

“Then you admit it?” 

“Sure, why not?  What are you going to do, kill me?  Watching your son die while you screamed and cried was the single happiest moment of my life.  I bet Rickon died wondering why his mother didn’t save him.  You were right outside my window and couldn’t do anything but watch as your son died like a dog.  Why would you do that?  Oh wait, now I remember, it was because I wouldn’t let you in my –” 

“Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!  SHUT UP,” roared the blue-eyed monster as Joffrey’s body began approaching Bran’s chair, switchblade in hand.  No, Rickon’s not going to do the trick.  Hmm…

“I guess it’s no surprise that Shireen’s dead, considering that you probably never cared about her either.” 

“DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE!  Shireen wasn’t like Rickon, she…she was different.  Rickon didn’t love me…not really.  My daughter loved me more than anything else in the world though and…and she…she knew how much I loved her too.  She was just an innocent little girl and I don’t want to hear any of your stupid lies about her, you stupid, child-killing monster.  I HATE YOU!  And…and…and if you ever say her name even one more time, I’ll…I’ll…  Shireen, she didn’t deserve to die...not really.  It should’ve been me and…and…and why couldn’t I have died instead of her?  I want my daughter back!  I hate this stupid town!  I want Shireen back!  I…I should’ve taken Robin and her somewhere else.  We could’ve left this stupid town and made our home somewhere else.  If I hadn't been so hung up on having a mother, maybe Shireen would still be alive...maybe.  I’m getting Robin out of Winter Falls and if father tries to stop me, I…I’ll kill him!  I WANT MY DAUGHTER BACK!  Look what you did, Brandon!  I…I…I’m so upset now that I can’t even remember how I was going to kill you and…and…I miss her so much!  Leave me alone...please.  I…I never even got to say goodbye.  It’s my fault she’s dead and…and…and I’m the worst mother ever,” the thing living inside Joffrey Baratheon’s body wailed as tears began pouring down its host’s cheeks.  Okay, now we’re in business!  Come on!  Attack me, you stupid monster.  I want you to do it!  I murdered your son and mocked your daughter’s death, right?  You hate my guts, so just lose your shit.  You know you want to!  Don't be sad, get angry!   

“We both know you never cared about her.” 

“TAKE *sniff* TAKE THAT BACK!  I *sniff* I…I did *sniff* so love my *sniff* daughter, so…so…so you’d better stop *sniff* stop trying to say I didn’t!” 

“Right, you loved Shireen so much that you let her get murdered in cold blood by a dwarf.” 

“SHUT UP!”  Joffrey’s eyes, they…they’re not quite as blue anymore.  It’s working!  I was right; the Others can be weakened by using emotional warfare.  I knew it!  I must’ve just used the wrong memories with Arya, but maybe I did reach her after all since she ended up breaking my legs instead of torturing me to death.  Maybe…maybe it gets harder and harder to bring people back the longer they’ve been an Other. 
I’ll have to figure that out later…if I’m still alive. 

“You were her mother; if you really loved Shireen then you would’ve saved her.  You said Tyrion killed your daughter?  Please, how could some drunken dwarf kill an Other.  Did he talk her to death?  I bet you let your daughter die because being a mother was too much work and you were sick of it.  Or mayhaps you even killed her your–”  

“LIAR!  LIAR!  LIAR!  LIAR!  LIAR!  LIAR!  LIAR!  LIAR!”  Okay, Arya’s definitely angry enough, but why hasn’t Joffrey come back yet?  FUCK!  This is really going to hurt…  Holy shit, that knife is sharp!  Wait, that’s it!  Why didn’t I think of that before?   

“You said Robin needed to be rescued from someone.  If you love your children so much, why would you leave the only one left with someone dangerous?  I bet you’ve always been looking for a chance to get rid of them.” 

“I HAVE NOT!” 

“Oh, so I guess you really are just that bad a mother, huh?  It took what?  Two nights for two of your three children to die.”  

“I SAID SHUT UP!”  

“I guess that must be it.  Mayhaps you really did love Shireen and Rickon, but not Robin.  He’s already dead, most like.” 

“Dead?  But…but I…I...NOOOOOOO!  Robin can’t…he can’t be dead.  I…I’ll have...I'll have no one left if –” 

“Why the long face?  It’s not like you ever gave a damn about him.”  

“I LOVED ROBIN MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THE STUPID WORLD AND YOU KNOW IT, SO YOU’D BETTER SHUT YOUR STUPID, LYING MOUTH NOW BEFORE I RIP OUT YOUR TONGUE!  DO YOU HEAR ME YOU STUPID LITTLE LYING LIAR!  YOU'RE JUST A STUPID…STUPID…BURN IN HELL!”  And we have a winner!  

“Don’t make me laugh.  You always hated that retard!” 

“I DID NOT AND ROBIN IS NOT RETARDED!  YOU’D BETTER NOT CALL HIM THAT AGAIN OR –” 

“Or else what?  You’ll torture me to death?  Oh wait...you were going to do that anyway.”  

“SHUT UP!  I HATE YOU!”  

“No thanks, I think I’ll keep talking.  The sad thing is that Robin could’ve had a somewhat normal life if only he’d had someone willing to look out for him once our family adopted him.  You could’ve really helped him, but you were never there for him when he needed you…just like you’re not there for him right now.  You’ve never sacrificed anything for Robin, you’ve never cared about him, and I bet you wouldn’t piss on him if he were on fire.  You haven’t done one good thing for that retard and you never will, most like.  Which name do you like better?  ‘Arya Horse-Face’ or ‘Arya Two-Face?’” 

“AAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH!  I'M GOING TO KILL…wait…what’s happening?  NO…not now!  Joff-Joffrey, I swear to…NO…GO AWAY!”  Suddenly, Joffrey’s eyes turned green again.  “What did you *snort* just do?  She’s still *snort* here, but you made her *snort* go away for a *snort* little bit.”  Before the golden-haired shit could say another word, Bran put all of his strength into his arms and propelled himself out of his chair…crashing right into the idiot. 
Joffrey dropped his knife as he fell to the ground, the last Starkling landing right on top of him. 

“Get off *snort* me, you little *snort* faggot.  Are you *snort* trying to *snort* fuck me or *snort* something?  SHIT, she’s *snort* coming back!  I can *snort* feel it.  She’s *snort* really angry!  HELP ME!” 

“I am helping you,” Bran muttered as he grabbed Joffrey’s switchblade and buried it in the whimpering monster’s throat.  The last Starkling quickly pulled out the knife and stabbed his attacker several more times.  Please be dead!  Please be dead!  Please be dead!  Please be dead! 

By now, Joffrey’s eyes had turned blue again, but it didn’t matter anymore.  He’d lost so much blue and red blood that the carpet around his head and neck looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.  Joffrey’s body was plainly seconds away from death. 

“Hate you,” wheezed Arya – or mayhaps it was Joffrey – as the last bit of life disappeared from the monster’s eyes.  Wait a minute…how am I going to get off the floor?  If everyone else dies in the sewers, then I’ll starve to death.  That…that’s not fair!  I fought off Joffrey and…SHIT!  The door is wide open…  

Chapter Text

“ROOOOOOBBBBBBBBIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNN,” screamed Arya as she frantically flew through the sewers in a desperate search for her only remaining child.  I can’t lose him too!  I…I won’t let some monster murder him!  Robin, he…he won’t end up like Shireen and Rickon!  NEVER!  I mean…it…it’s all that stupid drunken dwarf’s fault, he…he murdered Shireen and…and I…why did I let father send Robin off with Ramsay?  I should’ve done…something!  Father never cared about me or my children…not really.  I…I have to find Robin and then we can leave this stupid town forever.  It’s a bad place and…and…I want my daughter back!  Rickon was still my son, but he got himself killed trying to make sure I never had a mother of my own and…he wasn’t like Robin and Shireen…not really.  I should’ve left with Robin and Shireen as soon as we woke up!  Killing Brandon wasn’t worth…he wasn’t…it wasn’t worth Shireen and Robin’s lives.  Neither was having some stupid mother!  I…I’m sorry for getting you killed, Shireen!  I never meant for anything like that to happen, I really didn’t!  It should’ve been me who died and I…I should’ve protected you.  If Robin dies too, then I’ll have no one left and…and…and…  WHERE ARE YOU, ROBIN, Arya silently screamed as she raced from one tunnel to the next. 

“The fuck was that,” grunted Ned as Arya flew at break-neck speed over a small herd of food that had made its way into the sewer for some reason.  Can’t eat right now!  The food, it…it can wait.  None of them matter right now…not really.  I couldn’t save my daughter…I…I failed her, but I can still save Robin!  Eventually, she heard the faint echo of her brother’s stupid voice. 

“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU, YOU DROOLING PIECE OF SHIT!”  WHAT?  He…he can’t!  Not now!  I…I’m so close and…don’t worry, Robin; I…I’m coming!  Arya flew into the tunnel so quickly that she ended up crashing right into one of the walls. 

“MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMYYYYYYY,” screamed Robin.  Arya leapt up off the ground just in time to see her last living child race through the hole she’d made in the tunnel wall before hugging her so tightly that Arya felt as though her body was about to break in half.  Once Robin finally loosened his grip, it became plain that there wasn’t so much as a scratch on him. 

“Robin, you…you’re alive?  But I *sniff* I thought *sniff* Ramsay was going to kill *sniff* wait…what’s going on?” 

“Uncle Ramsay and I have been playing silly games, mother!  I had so much fun and –” 

“WHERE DID YOU GO?  GET BACK HERE, YOU LITTLE CUNT!  I’M GOING TO SKIN YOU ALIVE, DO YOU FUCKING HEAR ME,” roared Ramsay. 

“Uncle Ramsay’s really funny, mother!” 

“Robin, we have to leave now!  He’s going to kill you or –” 

“That doesn’t make any sense, mother.  I know you’d never leave me alone with someone who you thought might do something bad to me.” 

“I…umm…”  Arya looked down at the ground in shame as she realized that there weren’t even any stupid words that could describe how much she hated herself in that moment. 

“ROOOBBBBIIIIIN…  Come out, come out, wherever you are…”  Seven Hells, he’s getting closer! 

“It’s okay,” whispered Robin.  “We’re just playing the silly noises game!  He wanted me to help him make some sort of fire-shooting gun and said it’d be a really good surprise for you, but I didn’t have every part I needed.”  Wait a minute… 

“Did you just…Ramsay, he…he asked you to build a flamethrower as a surprise for me?” 

“I didn’t want to disappoint him so I builded it anyway only…it didn’t work right because of the missing pieces.  It went kaboom all over the right side of Uncle Ramsay’s face.  I think part of it burned off before he jumped in the sewer water.  Even though he was on fire, it was still really funny because it reminded me of Willy Coyote after one of his traps blowed up!  He decided to take a nap after that for some reason and I got bored, but there was a food who uncle Ramsay kept as a pet.  I was hungry so I gobbled up its blood which tasted really yummy in my tummy.  Uncle Ramsay kept yelling something about killing his Reek when he woke up.” 

“His Reek?” 

“Yeah…whatever that means.  Anyway, we’ve been playing tag, but with funny noises ever since he woke up.  I think uncle Ramsay is it right now, but I’m not really sure,” whispered Robin.  “Also I dissected one of the foods while it was still alive all by myself.  Uncle Ramsay told me to do it and it was really fun.  I wish you were there too, mother.  I dissected the bad food who used to be my fake father.”  Wait…you dissected Littlefinger?  Maybe it would’ve been fun to be there for that part…maybe. 

“Robin, we have to go now!  We…we’re…umm…playing hide and seek.  We have to go hide from your uncle somewhere else before –” 

“Found you,” sneered Ramsay.  The entire right side of the bastard’s stupid face was drenched in blue blood and a large chunk of it was missing altogether, almost as though someone had blown off half of the blue-eyed monster’s head with a shotgun.  In truth, it made him look a little bit like Two-Face. 

“YAAAAAAAAAY!  You finally found me!  Does this mean mother and I get to seek and you have to hide now,” asked Robin as his face lit up with childish delight. 

“Not quite…” 

“Do mother and I have to hide again?” 

“You’re welcome to try…” 

“Okay, but then can it be my turn to seek?” 

“You better stay away or I…I’ll kill you,” snapped Arya.  “Just let us leave Winter Falls and you’ll never never see me or Robin ever again.  You don’t have to die tonight…not really.” 

“Don’t worry, little sister.  As much as I appreciate your touching and heartfelt concern for my well-being, I’m afraid I’m not the one who is about to die…” 

“Okay, we’ll hide again, but you have to close your eyes and count to twenty so that mother and I have enough time to find a good hiding place.  After this, it’s uncle Ramsay’s turn to hide though!”  Seven Hells!  At least, try to stop drooling when you talk… 

“Robin –” 

“You don’t understand, mother.  It’s no fair that he’s the only one who gets to seek.  Uncle Ramsay has been trying to catch me ever since we started playing funny noise hide-and-seek tag.”  Arya rubbed her forehead in frustration.  Robin’s been having the time of his life even though Ramsay has been trying to kill him all night, most like.  Maybe it’s better that he doesn’t understand…maybe.  Even if I fail him the way I failed Shireen and Rickon, at least he won’t be scared and…NO!  I…I won’t fail Robin too!  I can’t lose him; he…he’s the only I have left.  Father doesn’t care about me, most like.  I won’t let Ramsay or anyone else hurt Robin.  NEVER! 

“We’re not playing hide and seek,” growled Ramsay. 

“We’re not?  But then why would we hide from you?  This game’s got me all confuzzled; can we play something else?” 

“We’re not playing a game, you idiot!  I’m going to kill both of you and –” 

“You are?  That’s a really weird surprise, uncle Ramsay!  It’s still a silly laughing joke though.  Can you make more funnies ?  Mother seems upset for some reason, but if you keep pretending to be angry, it might cheer her up.  Do it again!  Do it again!  Do it again!  Again!  Again!  Again!” 

“AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH!”  Stupid bastard.  Wait is that a…FUCK, where did he get a stake?  That’s what Brandon and that stupid drunken dwarf used to murder my other two children.  I hate those stupid pieces of wood!  Arya felt a small burst of pain in her chest right next to her heart.  It was the spot where her granddaughter had speared her shortly after being given new life by Robin.  Stupid stakes. 

“Enough.  The three of you will put an end to this madness immediately.  It matters not at all which of you has the right of it.  We have guests and they will be here soon, I think.  As it is, I already have far too many reasons to regard each of you as a complete and utter disappointment even without this latest display.  I would not see another minute of the night wasted on your useless bickering.  And our numbers are too low to begin turning on one another besides.  Until such time as one of us is able to give new life to the living again, I fear the four of us shall be forced to peacefully co-exist.”  In truth, one needed only to glance at the look on the oldest Other’s face to see that he would’ve loved nothing more than to kill all three of his kin right there.  Where did he come from?  And what does he mean ‘guests?’  Is he talking about the food I saw earlier?  “I see your face has undergone a few…modifications since the last time we spoke,” added Lord Bolton, glancing at his sole surviving son. 

“I see your hand still hasn’t grown back.  Remind me again how you lost it?  Weren’t you supposed to go to some sort of church and kill a bunch of old men?  What happened, father?  Did one of them suck on your hand until it fell off after you stole his dentures?  In truth, you did always seem to prefer taking a hands-off approach to things.” 

“You will be silent.” 

“Is this funny face night?  Look, I can make my head spin around and around,” announced Robin before proceeding to do just that until he began to wobble back and forth.  “I…I feel dizzy.  Mother, why is the room spinning?” 

“Don’t worry, you’ll feel better soon.  Just…don’t spin your head like that again for a little while, okay?” 

“Okay, mother.  Should I make a different funny face?”  In truth, Arya wasn’t paying attention to her son at the moment…not really.  Only three things mattered right now, the most important being making sure Ramsay stayed away from Robin.  It was too dangerous to worry about anything else until she could figure out a way to convince Lord Bolton to let them leave Winter Falls.  And yet there was another question Arya needed to ask her father before she could leave…one which had been nagging at her like an itch she couldn’t scratch ever since she found her son. 

“Not now, Robin.  Father, I didn’t know if…I mean…two of my children are dead and I…is there –” 

“I did not give you permission to question me.” 

“But I need –” 

“You will be silent.  Or do you think yourself less of a disappointment than your brother?”  It…it doesn’t matter…not really.  This is more important!  And I’ll probably never even see father again after tonight besides. 

“Is there any way to bring Shireen and Rickon back to life?  Or even just one of them?  What about Shireen?  Can I bring her back somehow?  I’d do anything as long as it didn’t involve hurting Robin.  It wasn’t even Shireen’s fault when she died.  I should’ve been there to save her and I…please, I need –” 

“If two of your offspring are dead then they will remain that way, I think.  It matters not at all.  In truth, even if there were a way to revive them, I’d never tell you.  I would not see myself forced to suffer pests any longer than necessary.  You and your son would do well to remember that, I think.”  I knew it!  Father never cared about us…not really.  He was…he was just using us and hoping we’d give him someone he liked better, most like.  I hate him!  Him and his stupid son!  

“I couldn’t agree more, father,” sneered Ramsay. 

“Do you think you’ve ever been more than a nuisance,” asked Lord Bolton in a voice that seemed to possess the tranquil fury of the eye of a hurricane.  The bastard shrugged. 

“What can I say?  I’ve always been my father’s son.” 

“Even the best of us make mistakes from time to time.”  Who cares if Ramsay was one of your stupid mistakes?  I need to know whether you were telling the truth when you said there isn’t a way to save my other two children. 

“There’s nothing I can do to bring back either of my children who were murdered by the food?” 

“It matters not at all.” 

“Please, I –” 

“They are dead.  Of course, if you would protect young Robin, you could always give him a second body by forcing someone to drink his blood.  He would reside in their body even after his primary one had been destroyed, I think.  I will waste no further time on this matter.  Is that understood?” 

“Thank you, but I…I mean…Robin and I can’t stay in Winter Falls!” 

“No?” 

“We’re leaving.  We’ll be safer living on our own, most like.  I…I’ll find some other place we can live where the food aren’t as dangerous.” 

“I don’t recall giving either of you permission to leave.” 

“I…I wasn’t asking for permission…not really.” 

“I see.  And you are quite certain you wish to pursue this course of action?  I trust you have fully considered the consequences of your actions.”  Arya nodded. 

“You’ll be happier too, most like.”  Why is he looking at us like that? 

“And why is that?” 

“When Lyanna tried to kill me, you didn’t care whether I lived or died.  You never cared about me or any of my children, most like.  And you won’t miss us either…not really.  After tonight, you won’t have to worry about Robin and me bothering you ever again.” 

“As you say.  Ramsay.” 

“Yes, father?” 

“Kill them.”  WHAT? 

“Don’t mind if I do!  Why don’t we make a game out of it?” 

“How do we play,” asked Robin.   

“You have until the count of ten.  One.  Two.  Three.”  Without another word, Arya grabbed Robin and flew through the sewers as fast as she could.  We can’t just run from him forever; there has to be a safe place to hide until tomorrow night.  Wait a minute…  We won’t need to run for long…not really.  I just…have to figure out a way to trick Brandon into letting us inside is all. 

Ramsay’s already waiting for us at my fake family’s house, most like, but I have to try!  Brandon will be there and it’s the only way to save Robin besides.  I won’t lose him too!  NEVER!  We…we’ll escape from Winter Falls and feed on small towns all over the world for five hundred years; then I can start giving food new life again.  I’ll have more children, I just…have to wait a while is all.  I still miss Shireen and Rickon though…  Maybe I’ll figure out a way to bring them back…maybe.  Or at least Shireen…  The rest of the world probably has less dangerous food, most like. 

Wait…why is the door wide open?  Seven Hells, Brandon, we both know you’re smarter than that!  I can’t believe I won’t have to trick him into inviting us inside.  Why didn’t he close the door after killing my food puppet, Arya wondered as Robin and her flew inside the Stark residence – shutting the door behind them – to find the monster who murdered Rickon sprawled across the floor in front of some stupid chair. 

“FUCK!  It figures you’d be the first one to realize the door is open.  Not one of those creatures that are running around eating people or some other…umm…Others who would just kill me and get it over with, oh no.  It just HAD to be you!  The one that wants to dissect me like a dead frog.  Did you know I didn’t believe in any sort of Gods until tonight?  The Seven are real though!  They’re real and they are awfully funny guys too.  They’ve already won; now they’re just fucking with me for shits and giggles.  Well the jokes on them this time!  I’ve fucking had it with all of this madness.  I don’t even care what happens to me anymore.  Go on, kill me!  I murdered your stupid son or whatever I’m supposed to have done.  I don’t even care how you kill me, just do it already,” snapped Bran. 

“Umm…right.  Anyway, you’re in luck, Brandon!  I’ll always hate you for murdering Rickon, but I’ve decided not to kill you.”  Wait a minute…why does he look so upset?  He doesn’t really want to die, does he?  It doesn’t matter…not really.  Brandon should know by now that he doesn’t have any say in what I do to him.  Stupid food.  Maybe he was never as smart as I thought he was…maybe. 

“You’re not going to kill, but…but I…why not?  That…that’s not fair.  You were…you were going to avenge your son and…I…I was finally going to be free.  FUCK YOU, YOU STUPID OLD GODS!  WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?  AT LEAST END IT ALREADY,” Brandon screamed at no one in particular. 

“Okaaaaaay.  So anyway, I’m going to make sure you live a really long time since you’re about to help me protect Robin.” 

“‘Live a really long time?’  But…but you’re supposed to kill me and I…NOOOOOOOO!” 

“Robin.”  

“Yes, mother?” 

“Remember how I told you to bite your hands even though it really hurt?” 

“Yes,” sighed Robin, looking down at the blue-blood dripping from both of his palms. 

“I want you to go and shove one of them into the food’s mouth without killing him.  Once it’s in there, you have to force him to swallow all as much of your blood as possible and then do the same thing to your other hand.  Hurry, before the blood dries!” 

“Okey dookey, hokey pokey!” 

“What the MMMPPPHHHH!  MMMMPPPPHHHHH!” 

… 

“Now you have a second body, Robin!  This way you’ll be safe in case anything bad happens to your main one.” 

“I do,” asked Robin and Brandon’s body in unison.  “Wow!  I can see you from two different places at once, mother!” 

“Yep!  You’ll be safer this way and…ROBIN, WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT PICKING YOUR NOSE?” 

“Oh wait, I know this one!  Umm…you said not to do it!  Don’t worry, mother, I still did good because I only ate the boogers using Brandon’s body and…GET OUT OF MY BODY!  WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME?  I HATE…Brandon is really silly!  I like living in his…I DON’T DESERVE THIS…body.  What about if I pick my body’s nose using his body’s fingers?  Is that allowed, mother?  Can I eat my body’s boogers with my second body’s mouth?  NO!  NO!  NO!  DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE!” 

“No one is picking anyone’s nose and that’s final!  It’s disgusting, no matter who does it.” 

“Fine,” sighed Robin.  “Why is Uncle Ramsay on the front…GET OUT, YOU STUPID…lawn?  Silly Brandon, tricks are for kids!  I can’t be a stupid woopid because my mother said that…you just had to be the one I got stuck sharing with, didn’t you…I’m special.  That’s right, Brandon!  We’ll be together forever and ever and ever…kill me now…and ever.  Also, I think this body’s legs are brokened or something…what was your first clue, Sherlock…I don’t know.  Probably when they didn’t do what they were supposed to when I tried to move them.  You should’ve taken better care of your legs, Brandon.  If you did then maybe you’d still be able to walk.  AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!  I HATE YOU ALL!  Why do you look so scared, mother?  Didn’t you hear Brandon do a funny?  He’s so silly!” 

Chapter Text

Eddard

“Ned, come back!  NED,” shouted the soon-to-be dead soldier, but Private Stark didn’t listen.  In truth, the bitch’s cries only doubled his resolve.  I’m not surprised Private Tully joined that craven in her mutinous treason, I never trusted tha