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Being a Teenager is like being at War

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Lyanna Stark

Rhaegar had just brought her home, he did that a lot (he just didn't do it always because Lyanna didn't let him), even if she lived so out of the way to his house.

On the porch, she could hear someone yelling from the backyard.

"Why do you always do that?" She quickly recognized the voice as one of her older brother's - Ned's - what she didn't expect, because in their house the screaming usually came from Brandor or herself, not Ned, he was the calm one.

"It's my life, not yours." And then she saw something even more surprising, Ned's fist going straight to Brandon's face.

"Ned, what are you doing?" It's the fist thing that came out of her mouth.

"Just leave me alone." With this he left the house, but she thought she heard him say something like it's hers too.

"Are you okay, Brandon?" She finally turned to the older of the Stark brothers.

"Fine. It's nothing."

"I think it's going to leave a mark." She said while she helped him stand up.

"I better come up with some story. I'm not telling people that my younger brother beat me." Lyanna just rolled her eyes, so used she was to the stories that Brandon told.

"Let's put some ice on that. And by the way why did he punch you?"

"Don't know."

"Brandon." She said with the voice that evoked their mother.

"Really, Lyanna. We were talking… and then he was being Ned and then he just… punched me."

She decided to let go of the issue, planning to question Ned later. Entering the kitchen by the back door, she went to pick up a bag of frozen peas and threw it at Brandon.

"Thanks." She sat at the counter, while he sat at the chair close to her.

"Let me get a look of that." After a semi-meticulous look. "You have a small cut."

"The kid has a mean hook."

"He's not a kid anymore, Brandon. He's only two years younger than you." She stood and went to pick up the first aid kit; in a few seconds she was back in the counter, cleaning his cut.

"Still younger."

"But more responsible." She didn't know why but Ned looked like he carried the all world in his shoulders, alone.

"He needs to have fun. And talking about fun, I've got a girl waiting." He said when she finally finished cleaning his cut; he stood up, kissed the top of her head and screamed just before getting out of the door.

"I'll be home for dinner."

At least one of them is coming. She thought as she picked up her phone to find out about the other.

Are you coming home? – Lyanna

She quickly walked to her room, it was on the ground floor (it became must easier for her to sneak out, while Brandon always had to climb to get to his room's window), and it was full of photos, of her, her brothers, her parents, her friends, Rhaegar and another person that had been cut or scratched from every photo. I miss him, I don't love him but I miss him. Her mind was pushed back to the present by the ringing of her phone, and she read the message.

Ned is not picking up his phone. And I hate putting this one you, but can you go pick up Benjen. I'm working late. – Father

She picked up her things and went to the train station, while she answered him. Benjen's school was at a small city called the Wall, almost every Stark loved it. All the Stark kids had gone there until High school started, Brandon was the only that preferred King's Landing, the social climbing and the being famous, both Lyanna and Ned just wished that the Wall had an high school, where everyone treated each other as brothers and not as enemies.

This city, that Lyanna and Ned still went pretty regularly, had one of their favourite places, the remaining ruins of an old wall that separated the state of Westeros from their northern neighbour state. She loved to sit in the top of the wall, to see the floor covered in snow, there wasn't an only place that wasn't white and she just loved that. But now she drove to King's Landing every day, where the days were hot.

She was already at half of the 40 minutes train trip, when Ned finally text back.

I'm going to Robert's. – Ned. Two and half hours trip, she knew it well.

OK. How are you? – Lyanna

I'm fine. Brandon? – Ned

Just him to beat up someone, and then be worried if he's okay. She thought.

He's okay. Why did you punch him? – Lyanna

Don't know. – Ned

Lyanna didn't really believe that but she left the issue peace, she would ask him again after he got his head straight.

Okay. Need anything? – Lyanna

Bring my things tomorrow. – Ned

Of course. See you tomorrow. – Lyanna

Bye. – Ned


 

Robert Baratheon

When the doorbell rang, the bottle of whisky that was previously in his hand went to the drawer in the bedside table, just above an old photo of them. After going to the bathroom to throw water to his face, he went to the door, in the other side was Ned.

He said quickly without even greeting first, so unlike him

"Are you sure your mother is okay with me crashing here? Are you?"

"You know you are always welcome. My mom loves you."

"Thanks. I kind need you to lend me some clothes. I didn't bring anything, I kind of just left…" Robert knew something was going on, that wasn't a thing that Ned did, that was a thing that she would do, not him, he's the quiet Stark.

"Sure. But you have to tell me what's going on."

"Later."

Their conversation is interrupted by his brothers running around, and Stannis's voice saying.

"That's rightfully mine. If it doesn't belong to Robert anymore, it's mine, I'm the oldest."

"What are they fighting about?" Ned whispered to Robert.

"I don't have a fucking clue."

"Robert Baratheon, language." His mother, Cassana Estermont Baratheon, yelled at him. And then turned to Ned. "I haven't seen you in a while, boy. Hope everything is okay with your sister." Cassana had always loved the Stark girl, she was good to his boy, now his boy was out most nights in some place she didn't know, burring his sorrows.

"We are both fine, ma'am. Are you sure you don't mind me staying here."

"Of course not. You are good company for Robert. And I have told you a million times, call me Cassana."

"It's hard to break an habit, ma… Cassana."

"I need to check on dinner. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Behave, boys."

Ned knew the Baratheon house pretty well; they had met when they were both eight years old in a summer camp at the Eyrie. And their friendship quickly grew, and when they both went to King's Landing's High School they became inseparable. But in those last months, their friendship took a bit hit, because even if they loved each other like brothers, he did have a sister and she needed him.

Soon the dinner was ready, and soon it was over. And while his father had retired to his office, his mother said goodnight to her sons and to Ned. Robert could see that seeing his mother taking care of him and his brothers made Ned miss his, Ned had never been the same after his mother's death; he was the closest to her and if he was quiet before, now he was much more.

And soon back in his room, Ned was laying in a mattress on the floor, dressed only in his boxers and one of Robert's shirts and Robert was laying in his bed, only on boxers and a shirt, too.

"I don't know how you can leave in this heat." Ned said.

"I think you would just die, if you ever went to Starfall."

"I think you're right. That's why I live in the north; it's bad enough having to go to King's Landing everyday."

"Ned, what happened for you to just run away? That doesn't sound like you." It sounds like her.

"I punched Brandon."

"What?!" Robert screamed, his body stood up from the bed, and he said. "Why?"

"I don't know…" He said, in a really low voice. "I just…"

"Don't worry. I bet Brandon is not even mad, just surprised. But you've got to figure out the why."

"I know… I'm tired, Robert."

"Yeah… Sleep well."

"You too."

Robert couldn't help but still be surprised about Ned's behaviour, he knew if he was Ned, he had punched Brandon a long time ago; and because Ned wouldn't do it and Robert had done it for him (of course, he never told Ned, he didn't believe that any other man should do his justice), but now Robert wondered if Brandon sleeping with his date after a dance last year didn't made him punch him, what did now.

And now images of the dance were coming back, she was with Robert but danced most of her dances with him, and Robert's desire to drink until he passed out like he did most nights came again, but this time he couldn't do it.

Chapter Text

Brandon Stark

The trip to school had been a long and weird one, longer than normally. Brandon still didn't know why Ned punched him; Benjen and his father had asked him a million questions about it, everyone thought that it was Brandon's fault, it was always Brandon's fault. He was the one who rebelled after their mother's death, Ned just closed himself to the world.

Everything was normal when he got home yesterday afternoon, Ned was training fencing in the yard - they used to take classes, Brandon, Ned and Lyanna (after a lot of arguments to both mother and father), their mother would take them and stay with them (her father had been a world champion of fencing and she was happy that her children liked the sport), but after her death neither of them liked to go without her, so they quitted but still trained in the yard and taught Benjen -, Brandon quickly joined him and soon they were talking. And after a while Ned was giving him a speech about honour and doing the right thing like he had did so many times before, and before he had time to react he was punched.

And today, there he was in the way to school with a black eye, he had decided to tell people that someone had tried to mug him and he knew that Ned wouldn't say anything, he didn't believe in violence, he didn't even punch him when he slept with Ashara after Ned took her to the dance, Robert did it for him, Brandon got some big bruises and he was pretty sure Ned didn't know about it, he wasn't the kind of the guy to let someone fight his fights. But because of all of these, a question played in his mind Why did you do it this time?

He had been driving for the past hour, but he had been so distracted that he didn't notice that he had passed the school, until Lyanna said.

"Brandon, you have driven by the school."

"Sorry." Easily he walked back, and parked his car in the school parking lot. And soon Lyanna was getting out of the car, but he stopped her just to ask her.

"Do you need a ride later?"

"I have volleyball practice, Brienne will drive me home."

"Okay…"

"Bye, see you later."

"Lya…" She turned back to him again.

"Brandon…"

"Can you check on Ned?"

"I'm gonna do that, I have to give him his things. But you really should go talk to him. He will want to talk to you."

"He punched me, Lyanna. I don't think is in the mood to see me."

"Just talk to him. I have to go, Rhaegar is waiting."

"Yeah. Bye." Soon he was out of the car, a smile in his face, and his worries put behind his brave face.

This was him, one of the most popular boys in school, finishing senior year, he played in the basketball, football and baseball team, and in all of them he spent his time competing with both Rhaegar and Robert, who both fought for his sister's affection.

He immediately saw by the door his girlfriend; she was different from the other girls who he was usually with. She expected more from him, she wasn't crazy about him just because he was handsome and popular, she wanted to talk, to know more about him, he couldn't figure out if that was a good or a bad thing. He also knew that maybe if he got the courage to talk to her, she would lay with him, they hadn't done anything more than a few kisses, and he wanted more.

He appeared from behind, she seemed to be talking with someone, he couldn't figure out who it was, probably someone from the school paper, he caught her by surprise, getting her hair out of the way and kissing her neck.

"Oh… Brandon… Don't do that. People are watching."

"Sorry." She finally turned and saw his face.

"Oh my god… Brandon. What happened to your face?"

"It's not that bad."

"Yes. It is. Your eye is completely purple." The kid is strong.

"You could kiss it better." He said with a smile. And surprisingly she did kiss him, first on his eye just above the swell and then on the lips, she opened her mouth just enough for his tongue to enter, while their lips stayed interlaced just like his bodies, until she finally pushed away. Her cheeks were as red as the colour of her hair, and her eyes fixed on the floor. He lifted her face, so her eyes could look into his, and he put his arm around her shoulders.

"So I did kiss you. Now tell me what happened?"

Just one more lie.

"Some guy beat me on the street. He was trying to steal my wallet."

"Did he hurt you any where else? Did you go to the police station?"

"No. And no, I stopped before he could steal anything. I didn't think it was necessary."

"You should have gone to the station."

"Cat... It was nothing. I'm truly fine."

"Happy to hear that. I hope someone looked into that cut."

"Yes. Lyanna did a good job."

"No hospital?"

"It was a small cut. Stop worrying."

He knew she cared too much, she had a motherly instinct, she had been taking care of her brother and sister, since her mother died and her father closed himself to the family. Maybe that was what attracted him to her, he had lost his mother too, but nobody was there to replace her and help him go through.

"I'll try. But you should be more careful. Only last week, you almost broke your arm on the baseball practice."

"It was nothing. You saw how Jaime was."

"It was practice, not a battlefield." As a desire to change the subject, he said.

"It's almost time for class. Where are you heading?"

"Math."

"I'll take you."

He walked her to class, looking everywhere, while she told him about something Edmure did. Arriving to the classroom, he saw both Robert and Ned were already inside. He kissed Catelyn's lips and let her enter the classroom. And if he hadn't been that distracted with Ashara's body walking right by his and letting a paper slip in his back pocket before squeezing it a little, he would have noticed Ned's eyes following Catelyn thought the classroom.


Jaime Lannister

Every time, he and his sister got out of their Ashton Martin, everyone looked at them. Their father was the richest man on the state, and their mother had been a beautiful actress, who only didn't leave for Hollywood for the love she bared to their father and them, but she was now dead. But both of them were as beautiful as she had been, they were tall and elegant with beautiful long blond hair.

Besides beautiful, they were powerful, some would say that they hold power above everyone on school. Of course, there were guys as handsome and popular as Jaime like Robert, Rhaegar or even Brandon. And there was a girl that was by most considered more beautiful than Cersei, Ashara Dayne. But still, they were Lannisters.

"I have cheerleading this afternoon. If you need the car, you then need to come back."

"I'll get a ride for someone. I'll live you the car."

"Thanks, little brother. I need to go, people are waiting for me."

"Of course, my queen. And I'm only a few minutes younger."

"I don't care. I'm still older. Give me the keys and go." He threw her the keys.

"You have to pick up Tyrion, before going home."

"Why me?"

"Because you want the car. And he's your brother."

"So what."

"Cersei, just pick him up." Jaime just left, he was mad that everyone in their family treated Tyrion badly, it wasn't his fault, that he was born a dwarf or that mother died giving birth to him, it wasn't he's fault for sure. He was just kid, ten years old, and smarter than him and, maybe, Cersei, too.

"Jaime, we are here." Rhaegar called him over, he had met Rhaegar when they were only kids, when Rhaegar's father was still Mayor and Tywin Lannister had worked for him, but they only become friends a few years ago, through Arthur Dayne, who had been Rhaegar's oldest and closest friend but also a good friend to Jaime, but now with Arthur in college, they had grown closer.

When he finally approached them he could recognized other people, Lyanna in his arms, and some guys from the football team, including the girl that played with them, he couldn't remember her name, she didn't even look like a girl.

She was really tall, taller than him, her hair was also blond but cut out in a way that made her look like a boy, her back was larger and her posture remind him of Robert's (the quarterback of their team), and she wasn't just a tomboy as Lyanna, who dressed in boy's clothes still looked beautiful, she looked like a man (and that intrigued him).

"Hey, I'm Jaime Lannister. We haven't met."

"I know, golden boy. You don't usually care for the likes of me. Brienne of Tarth."

A pretty name for an ugly woman.

Chapter Text

Brienne of Tarth

Did I just call Jaime Lannister golden boy? I have always thought it. Never thought I would have the guts to say it. And secondly I was right.

Quickly Jaime joined the boy's conversation, and Lyanna moved closer to Brienne.

"Did you really call him golden boy?" Lyanna asked laughing.

"Yeah. I know. It just came out."

"I think next you should go to Cersei and call her golden bitch." Lyanna said, referring to the sweet nickname that they had given her.

"I would like to."

"Oh… Who wouldn't?"

"All those girls that sit next to her."

"How, Bri… Too naïve. Those girls would be the first to throw Cersei away, just to get her place."

"That's the reason I think boys are so much easier. None of those schemes."

"It's not like we are all bad." Not? Everyone wants something and they would do anything to get it. I think killing is over the top, but still…

"From that table?!"

"Yeah, maybe from there no." And they both just laugh at those girls who spend most of their time thinking about boys, and dresses and what colour they should paint their nails next.

"Didn't you say that your brother's girlfriend wasn't that bad?" What's her name, I can't remember. Cara… no, that's not it…

"Yeah. Cat."

"Aren't you going to a sleepover at her house?" With this question, Lyanna gave one of her looks that meant she wanted something.

"Yeah. About that. I kind of… told her I would go if I could bring a friend."

"What does that mean?" Brienne said with a warning voice.

"What you think I mean?" This girl is going to kill me.

"I'm not going to spend an entire night with those girls!"

"But you can't leave me alone with Elia. She hates me." Because you stole her boyfriend.

"And I didn't steal Rhaegar."

"I wasn't…"

"I know you were thinking it, don't bother denying it."

"Sorry." I hate that she can read me. Galladon could. Galladon was her brother, died when they were only kids playing by the sea. And so did her sisters and her mother. It was just her and her father, now.

"I've told you what happened."

"And I know the story, okay. I just… I'm sorry."

"Okay. Apology accepted. So will you come with me?"

"Lyanna, I don't think that would be a good idea."

"You are just scared. Come on. I don't wanna go alone." Lyanna continued pleading. Brienne didn't really want to go, spending the weekend with spoiled girls who think they are better than everyone. But leaving Lyanna alone would be worst; and she knew Lyanna would do the same for her.

"Okay. I'll go with you, but you owe me big time."

"Yes. I will do anything you want." And she jumped to hug Brienne, her feet leaving the floor. And she just repeated over and over again "thanks".

Rhaegar appeared from nowhere and tickled Lyanna, and picked her up, turning her in his arms, so her lips were at the same height as his and he could kiss her. When he finally put her back on the floor, he smiled at her, making Brienne feel like a third wheel. When he finally acknowledged Brienne, he groaned

"Tarth, we have to go. Classes are starting in a few minutes."

"Two minutes and I've to get to the other side of school." Lyanna said checking the hours in her clock, just before kissing Rhaegar's lips and saying. "See you later. Bri, I'm forever in debt to you." And with that, Lyanna ran off to her class

Rhaegar and Brienne started walking side by side to their classroom.

"So why is she in debt to you this time?"

"Going to a stupid party with her."

"What?! I'm not invited?"

"Sleepover."

"Really?!"

"Don't look so surprised."

"Sorry. How?"

"Her brother's girlfriend invited her."

"Who?"

"The girl with the red hair."

"Melisandre. That chick is crazy, don't go near her. She was the one who burned the coffee place down the street."

"Not that one. Another girl, I think her name is Cat, maybe Catherine or something."

"I'm sorry for that girl."

"Why?" And Rhaegar just pointed his head to the entrance of the classroom, where everyone could see Brandon flirting with a freshmen girl (who didn't even looked old enough to be in high school), with blond hair, showing too much cleavage and with a skirt that was way too short.


Rhaegar Targaryen

His classes had already ended, but he had stayed back to wait for Lyanna. He was by the door of the female showers, finishing his homework while she finished volleyball practice.

Today was their two month anniversary and he wasn't sure if Lyanna even remembered it. She liked to live in the now, not plan the future and live by her own rules. So different from Elia, who liked to have everything under control, who would take note of every detail, which had been his rock for ten years and his girlfriend for the last five (but she wasn't any more). Every time he caught her eye in the hallways, he could see an accusation of his betrayal in them, and he couldn't help but feel ashamed for how he handled everything. This didn't mean he wasn't happy with Lyanna, he was, but he couldn't help that on some level he still missed Elia, his best friend.

His thoughts were interrupted when Lyanna walked out of the showers, dressed in small shorts and a shirt too large to be hers. It wasn't his and given the stag on it, it wasn't her brothers either, it was someone else's - it belonged to Robert. Baratheon.

"Hey! What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for you."

"Didn't I tell you that Brienne would take me home today?"

"Yes. But I wanted to take you somewhere."

"Oh… Brienne, do you mind?"

"No."

"Don't forget you have to pick up Jaime."

"What?!"

"I told him you would give him a ride."

"Without asking me?"

"Yeah. Sorry?"

"Sure. Where is he?"

"By the door. See you tomorrow."

"Bye." Brienne left, giving Lyanna a death glare.

"She's going to kill me." Lyanna whispered to Rhaegar.

"He's not that bad." She just ignored him, and changed the subject.

"So where are you taking me?"

"You will find out soon."

"You know I hate surprises."

"Liar. You love surprises."

Lyanna just laughed, while he took her hand and led her to his jeep, it was an old one, and it had belonged to Jon, one of his best friends who left for college three years ago. It had been Jon and Arthur, who had taught him how to drive. Lyanna jumped in the door and sat at the passenger seat, while Rhaegar sat in the driver's seat.

They drove for almost one hour, before they reached their destination, Lyanna ran out of the car, like she had done a million times during the time they spent there in the summer.

"Lyanna." He yelled and she looked back at him with a childish smile.

"Come and get me."

So Rhaegar got out of the jeep and ran, ran until he caught her by the waist, lifting her up in the air, and making her spin and laugh. When he put her down, she pushed him to the sand with her, his body just above hers. And she kissed his lips, first softly, but quickly grew to a more passionate kiss, both their mouths opened and their tongues fought, her hands going through his hair, pushing and grabbing it, while his were on the sand, letting it slip through his fingers.

Soon he felt her hand going lower, trying to get his shirt off while his lips kissed her neck, and he had to pull away.

"Lyanna…"

"What?!" She looked at him with her innocent smile.

"We can't do that here… Anyone can pass by."

"Moodkiller." He couldn't help but see in her eyes regret and remembrance, and he knew that she had done this with the Baratheon boy.

But he couldn't feel betrayed when his mind was so often on Elia, remembering how many times he brought her to this same beach, how she would sit in the sand reading a book (she loved the classics, he didn't know how many times she had read Romeo and Juliet or Pride and Prejudice) while he surfed. But Lyanna no, she would… His thoughts were again interrupted, when she rolled him over, so he was the one lying on the sand and she could get away.

And she ran again, climbed to the top of the rocks, took off her clothes until she was only in her underwear, and dived to the water (like she did so many times during the summer).

And he couldn't help but remember everything he loved about her.

Chapter Text

Lyanna Stark

A week had passed since Ned had punched Brandon. The mood in the house had been weird, and nobody was talking about that. Everyone had ignored the issue, and had been pretending everything was fine. But it wasn't, and Lyanna knew it.

Things weren't much better at school, since Rhaegar had got the call that interrupted their date at the beach. He wouldn't even tell her what was so important, important enough for him to leave school and go straight home (at least that's what he said), important enough for her to have to make her own way home alone. I ask him - he doesn't answer, he's worried about something. I'm worried about him.

After a ten minutes walk from the bus stop, she found herself at her door. When she entered, silence filled the rooms.

"Is anyone home?" She yelled to no one in particular and made her way to her room. Outside the window she could see Ned training with his sword in the backyard.

She left the room, and made her way to where Ned was, stopping a few meters away from him, against a tree.

He's not fighting right; he's throwing away his anger. He's fighting with fury and not his head.

When he finally looked away from the (invisible) target in front of him, he said.

"Hey…"

"Hey. How was your day?"

"Good. Yours?"

"Good. Where's everybody?"

"Ben has training later today, dad is picking him up. Brandon is out." She couldn't help but notice that when he said the last sentence, the blow of his sword had even more rage in it. It seemed that their brother was the invisible target.

"Can I train with you?"

"Sure. Pick up a sword." Soon they started fighting, if someone had been watching from outside, it would have looked like a dance. And the only sound was the wind going through the leaves and their steel battling against each other. Neither of them would press further, only dancing around the other. The silence was broken when she asked.

"Are you going to spend the night?"

"Yes. I think I've taken Robert's room for too long."

She remembered Robert's room; it was always a mess, everything on the floor. You would be able to find cans of soda on the floor from the week before, and she didn't know how, but the room always smelt nice, like him… The walls were covered with posters (cars and girls), but on the bedside table there was a photo of them. Ned had taken it. She was still fourteen, he was fifteen, and they were both happy, laughing. She had jumped on his back without warning, but he had still caught her. She wondered if the photo was still there.

"I'm sure he doesn't mind."

"He said he didn't. And I kind of missed spending time with him."

"I'm sorry." It's my fault, I broke a friendship. She said and lowered her sword, finished with their sparring.

"It wasn't your fault."

"Yes, it was. He doesn't come over anymore."

"And you know I could have gone to his anytime I wanted."

"Yeah." Even when she said that, she didn't really believe it. She knew Ned stayed because he didn't think it was right going to her ex-boyfriend's house.

"How does it sound if I make us something to eat?" He said, to change the subject.

"Sure - if it's one of your sandwiches."

"Of course. Anything for my lady."

While she filled the cups with apple juice, Ned made their sandwiches. Mother had taught all of them how to do it but he was the only one who still remembered (and as neither Lyanna, Benjen, Brandon nor her father wanted to learn, it was now a thing that Ned did for them). They both sat at the counter with the food in front of them, nibbling on it in silence until she gained the courage to finally ask him.

"How is he?"

"Who?"

"You know who - Robert." The man who's heart I broke.

"He's okay."

"Please tell me the truth." She said while she played with her cup. And she could see that Ned was deciding whether he should tell her or not. In the end he did. He looked down and said.

"He's drinking a lot. More than he used to." He paused, his eyes drifted to her face, to check her emotions but a few moments after, they went back to his food. "His mother is worried about him. She told me that he goes out almost every night, she doesn't know where or with whom. And he…" she could guess what came after,

"…he sometimes doesn't come back. I'm sorry."

"Why should you be sorry?! I don't care!" She said with a tone that showed that she cared. "I'm fucking Rhaegar, why shouldn't he have some fun, too."

Ned looked at her with perplexed eyes, not knowing what to do next. But he stood up and went to her, and took her in his arms, her face in his chest while she cried.

Why am I crying? There's no reason for this. She felt Ned lifting her chin, so he could look her in her grey eyes.

"Why are you crying?"

"I don't know."

"Do you love him?"

"Who?"

"Robert?"

"No…" She said, and when she looked down she continued "…But I miss him. I miss the way we laughed together, how I was carefree with him."

"You miss being his friend."

"Yeah. I'm afraid I will never have that again."

"You need to give him time. You shattered his heart, Lya."

"I know. Promise me that you will take care of him."

"I promise." He said before kissing the top of her head before turning around and saying to her. "Bring the food; there should be something good on TV."

"Okay." And he turned again, but when he was about to walk away, she called for him.

"Is it awful, that I'm jealous that he's sleeping with other girls when I've been with Rhaegar for months? That I feel betrayed that I lost that one part of him that only belonged to me."

"You are not awful. You are a human being."


 

Catelyn Tully

Her house was neither small nor big, but it was old. It had been in their family for a long time. It was a little rustic, but the thing she loved the most was the backyard as a part of the river still ran through the property. When she was inside river, she felt like she belonged.

As she walked through the door and saw it all again, she realised that the house was still a shrine to their mother. Her father couldn't let go. He stopped being there for them long ago. He would work late to keep him busy. So Catelyn took charge of the house. She cleaned, she cooked, she shopped, she took care of her siblings; but she had to stop dancing and doing theatre. It didn't matter that she was only twelve when her mother died; Catelyn took her mother's place and stopped being a kid.

Nobody was home; she had the house to herself. She went around the house to check if there was anything she needed to do; the clothes were cleaned and folded and there was a while before she had to start preparing dinner. Her father had said he would pick up Edmure from school today, so she was free from that too.

She had nothing to do, no house chores and, lucky her, no homework. She made her way to her room at the top of the stairs. The door was light pink and the walls were beige. The bed looked as if it came from a fairytale with pink sheets and covers. Her shelves were full of books with a few frames, mostly photos of her, Lysa and Petyr.

Lysa was her younger sister and Petyr was like a brother to her. He had been living with them since he was nine, since his parents who were college friends of her father had died; died in some freak accident, leaving her parents to bring Petyr into their home. And since then they had all been inseparable, best friends, until this summer, when she started dating Brandon Stark. Then Petyr decided to fight Brandon and lost. After that Lysa was on his side, and neither of them talked to her.

On the shelves were also photos of her with the rest of her family and, at least one where she was with Brandon. But her favourite photo was one of her as a baby, after she took her first steps, pulling on her mother's skirt. It had been taken by her favourite uncle.

She wanted to call Brandon, to see if he wanted to meet her. They barely had any time together apart from when they were at school as she usually had to come home and take care of Edmure or the house. They had been dating for a month and a few weeks; since the beginning of August, and they had been on just a few dates. Cat didn't know what to do. He was her first real boyfriend, but Brandon was older and more experienced and she knew he wanted more. He didn't pressure her, or threaten her, but she could feel it in his kisses and in the way he pressed his body against her, but she knew she wasn't ready. It wasn't like she wanted to stay a virgin until she was married, it was just that she didn't want to rush anything. She wanted to feel safe and loved, and she wasn't there yet.

She gave up on calling him. He had told her he had something this afternoon. She changed into a pair of sweats and top, lay on the bed and turned on her ipod. She put the headphones on and scrolled through her music until she found one that would fit her mood, picked the book up from the bedside table, and started reading.

She had read almost one hundred pages and listened to all the Diana Krall songs, when her phone rang. It was Brandon.

Maybe he changed his plans, I would be happy to spend some time alone with him.

She answered the call.

"Hey!" But she couldn't hear any answer, she said it again and still no answer. She called out again and again. Just as she had decided to give up, she heard something. At first she couldn't make it out, but the second time it was louder.

"Ohhh… Do that again…" It sounded almost like begging, and it was without doubt a woman's voice. A groan was what she heard next and then something she couldn't understand, but the voice was Brandon's. The phone fell from her hands, but the voices didn't stop, her eyes clouded with tears, her heart beat faster, but she still heard…

"Ohh… Yes… Please… faster… harder."

Another groan, some words she couldn't understand. More tears fell from her eyes.

"I'm almost there…. Oh… Don't do that… You'll leave a mark." The woman gasped.

"Then everyone will know you're mine."

But Brandon was supposed to be hers.

The rest of the sounds muddled in her head, and she didn't have the heart to process them, until she heard Brandon groan another girl's name…

"Ohh… Barbrey…"

And then Catelyn finally gathered her strength; she picked up the phone and threw it against the hall.

"AHHHHH!" She screamed. The tears fell freely and her heart hurt even more.

I'm finally alone, everyone's left me. No Brandon, no Lysa, no Petyr and father left so long ago.

Chapter Text

Catelyn Tully

She felt stupid now. How could she not suspect a thing? How could she let herself be fooled by a boy? The sadness that she had before had grown to anger and a determination to act.

She got out of the bed and went to the bathroom. She could see that her eyes were red so she threw water on her face. She took a few deep breaths and walked back to her room.

She picked the scattered pieces of her phone and put it together again. While it turned on, she got dressed in a pair of jeans and a simple top. At the same time she put on her All Stars and she looked for a number in her phone. When she finally finished getting her shoes on, she made the call.

"Hello?!" She heard from the other side of the phone.

"Can you come pick me up?" She said without wasting time with small talk.

"What's going on, Cat?"

"Please…" She begged.

"I'll be there in half hour."

"Thanks." She turned off the phone and walked out of her room.

She went through the fridge to look for something she could leave for their dinner. She found a frozen pizza and left a note to her father saying that she wouldn't be home for dinner.

She left her house and sat on the doorstep, playing with the grass and doing everything she could to keep the tears from falling. How can I do this? Am I strong enough?

As she saw the car pull into the street, she stood up and walked to it. When she got in, the man inside immediately started speaking while he drove away.

"What's wrong, Cat?"

"Nothing. I need you to drive me to Winterfell."

"Why?"

"For no special reason."

"I'm not stupid I know you were crying."

"I was not."

"Just tell me little Cat."

"It's nothing." But he didn't believe it, so he stopped the car at the side of the road. Please don't make me tell you. He took her hand, and made her look at him.

"You can trust me."

"I know…"

"So, tell me…"

"But it hurts so much, uncle."

"What happened, sweetie?" Catelyn took a deep breath, rubbed her eyes and pushed her hair out of her eyes. She looked into the eyes of her favourite uncle.

"He cheated on me."

"Brandon?!"

"Yeah…"

"What are you going to do?"

"I want you to drive me to Winterfell, so I can confront him."

"Don't you want to wait a little longer?"

"No. I need to this now, uncle."

"Okay." He drove away and did not say anything more during most of the trip. Catelyn leaned her head on the window and a million scenarios of what she was going to say went through her head. Soon she fell asleep.

She felt someone shake her shoulder and call her name.

"Cat, we are almost there. Wake up."

"Hey…Thanks for bringing me here, uncle Brynden."

"No problem. Are you sure you are going to be okay?"

"Yes. Can you wait for me?"

"Of course."

"Thanks." She walked out of the car, and took another deep breath. You are Catelyn Tully, you can do this. She rang the doorbell; Lyanna was on the other side.

"Hi…"

"Hey, Cat. My brother is not home."

"Can I wait for him here?"

"Yes, of course. Come in."

"Thanks."

"Do you need something? I have homework, and…"

"I'll be okay. Thanks." And Lyanna left her alone in the living room. When she walked around she could see pictures of their family. The biggest one was above the fireplace. It was of all the family playing in the snow; their mother was still in the picture (and it seemed she wasn't sick yet), Benjen was still a toddler and the other siblings were not even teenagers. Around the room there were so many others and not just family. She could recognize Robert, another one with their teacher Jon Arryn and some other people who looked just a bit older than them that she didn't know.

She looked through the window and saw swords on the ground and a target. Brandon had told her how he and his siblings loved to train in archery and fencing, but with the sound of the door, she turned abruptly.

"Oh... Hi, Cat. What are you doing here?" He looked surprised, but not guilty, how could he look her in the eye and not remember who he was kissing just a few hours earlier?

"We need to talk."

"Sure. Where do you want to go?"

"Somewhere private… maybe your room."

"I'll lead the way." As Brandon squeezed by her, she could feel his desire to kiss her, so she got away before he could. She followed him up the stairs and she remembered that she had never been in his room before (in his house - yes, but in his room – no. She had thought it would give him the wrong signs). It seemed like a normal boy's room (but she hadn't much to base her information on. The only other teenage boy's room she had been in was Petyr's). When she looked around, she couldn't find a thing that could be connected to her (even if she could count seven things that certainly belong to a girl... please be Lyanna's, she couldn't help but pray).

"So, Cat, what's on your mind?"

"Can I sit?" Stop delaying this, Catelyn. He nodded and she sat on the bed. She felt Brandon coming to sit by her side, but at the last second he changed his mind and sat on the chair in front of her.

"Is something wrong?"

When he asked it did seem as if he cared if she was okay.

"Where were you this afternoon?" She didn't take her eyes from his eyes, capturing every expression on his face (but again just surprise, no guilt).

"At the mall." LIAR, she wanted to scream.

"With who?"

"Alone. But what's with all the questions, Cat? Did I do something?" She stood up and walked to the window, the cold wind against her face... and without turning her face back to him, she said.

"Check the last calls you made."

She heard him go through his phone, and then his steps came closer and he touched her shoulder.

"Cat... Please." She didn't turn; she didn't want him to see the hurt on her face.

"Where were you this afternoon?" She asked again.

"Cat, please let me explain. It isn't what you think." He tried to touch her shoulder again, but she backed away again.

"You mark her, so everyone knows she's yours!" He tried to speak, but he didn't have anything to say.

"Wasn't that what you said?" She finally turned; her eyes were cold as they could be and she was trying not to appear weak in front of him. "How many times have you said that? Only to her or are there other girls as well?"

"I'm sorry, Cat. But..."

"How can you say 'but'?" She finally dared to speak louder. "Do you think there's any excuse?! Were you raped? That's only excuse I can think of!"

"No..."

"So I don't want to hear it." She dropped her tone again. "And you know… I don't want to know if it was just a one time thing, or if it's been going on since we started going out. I don't want to know if it was just her or if there were others too." Even if not knowing will always make me wonder who he has touched, every time I talk to any girl.

"So what do you want?" He tried not to speak louder, but she knew he wanted to scream, but he also knew he didn't have a reason.

"I just want to end this. That's the only reason I came." And to see if there's any guilt in you, but there isn't any.

"Are you sure, Cat?" He stepped closer again. "We could try again."

"Would you be able to stay faithful to me?" He stayed silent and the answer was given.

"Do you need a ride home?"

"No, my uncle brought me."

"So I shouldn't walk you to the car. He may kill me."

"That's probably right." She couldn't help but smile a little at how carefree Brandon was. "I know the way out." And she turned her back to him and made her way to the door, but he called for her before she could leave.

"I'm really sorry. You are an amazing girl, Catelyn Tully. Anyone would be lucky to have you, but that someone is just not me."

And maybe she couldn't find guilt in his eyes. But she found respect, friendship and some kind of love... and maybe that was enough to give her closure.


Eddard "Ned" Stark

Ned had heard a few screams coming from his brother's room and then the door closing. Looking out of the window he saw the girl with red hair breaking down in their front lawn. He wanted to comfort her in some way, but he knew he couldn't do anything for her.

His brother left his room and made his way to the backyard. Ned could see him hitting the dummy with his sword. He wanted to comfort him too, but he knew Brandon and he knew his brother wouldn't want anyone now, especially someone he was mad at.

He remembered how, only a week ago, he had a fight with his brother. It had started as a rather normal training session, but then Brandon started talking about his usually conquests (this time, some girl from Winterfell, just a few houses away). Then, as usual, Ned gave Brandon his speech about honour, about doing the right thing, about respecting girls, explaining that he was hurting them; but as usual, Brandon just ignored him again.

And then Ned couldn't take it anymore, he just punched Brandon. He couldn't exactly pinpoint what had made him do it as Ned wasn't a violent man, but he suspected it had something to do with the butterflies in his stomach when he looked at his brother's girlfriend (now, ex-girlfriend). I don't want to feel this. Everyone chooses Brandon in the end.

That was what happened with Ashara last year at the dance in honour of Harrenhal (an old village between Riverrun and King's Landing that had been destroyed by a fire, more than an hundred years ago). He had the guts to take her (even if Brandon asked her for him) but it was Ned who kissed her (his first kiss and her lips were so soft). Her eyes were so purple and her dark silky hair felt so good in his fingers, but it seemed she preferred to spend the night in his brother's arms and bed.

But if I didn't punch him then, why did I do it, now? What does she have that make me feel this way?

Ned had enough of thinking about his life and his thoughts were interrupted by Benjen entering in his room.

"Ned, can you come play with me?"

"What do you want to play?"

"Basketball, I really need to train."

"Sure, Ben."

Benjen ran out of Ned's room to grab the ball, while Ned walked out to the front of the garage where they had the basket, and he started playing man to man with Benjen. Ben kept trying to shoot, but the height that Ned had on him kept blocking him.

"Benjen, you need to jump higher. Move your feet faster."

"I can't beat you, Ned."

"Yes, you can. Keep trying."

And Benjen quickly dribbled the ball under his legs, and tried to shoot but at the last second Ned blocked the ball.

"Hey. Ned, you are being unfair. Me and Benjen against you. Let's see who wins." Brandon said.

"Try. But I'm still going to beat you two." Ned responded, and he was happy to be able to speak with Brandon again. This time the game gave him more of a fair fight and when Lyanna came calling that dinner was ready, they were all breathing really hard. Benjen ran inside, but Ned and Brandon stayed behind.

"Hey… Brandon, I'm sorry about the punch."

"It doesn't hurt anymore."

"But I'm really sorry, Brandon. I don't even know why I did it." I can't really tell him about Cat.

"No problem… If I was you, I had beaten me up a long time ago. And I apologize for everything I have done to you. I know I never said I'm sorry – but I'm sorry I slept with Ashara on your date, but she's…" something flickered in Brandon's eyes, that Ned had never seen before "… and I don't know if you heard, but Cat broke up with me."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Everything will be okay."

"GUYS, HURRY UP. DINNER IS FREEZING!" Lyanna yelled and they both went inside the house, knowing that they would be okay.

Chapter Text

Brandon Stark

He still couldn't believe that Catelyn had left him. She had been the first. Girls never left him. It turned out that everyone in school already knew when he arrived. Secrets didn't last long on King's Landing High School, because of the Spider (Varys, everyone knew it was him… but still… nobody dared to say anything). He couldn't understand how something that happened only yesterday afternoon could be known to the entire school so quickly.

The rest of his previous day had not been bad. After his talk with Ned, they got back to normal, after dinner they played a little bit more basket with Benjen and then played playstation for the rest of the night (okay… until their father started insisting for them to go to bed. Let's just ignore that I'm 18 and I don't need my father telling me to go to sleep).

The drive to school was fine too. Lyanna spent the entire journey singing along the radio in her off tune voice, while both her brothers moaned at her to shut up.

Right after Brandon parked the car, Lyanna ran to find Rhaegar or Brienne, while Ned went looking for Robert. But when Brandon got out, his eyes found Cat's, but quickly he pulled away, and walked just behind her. So the rumours were confirmed… Catelyn Tully and Brandon Stark were no longer an item…

Everyone was whispering, and he hadn't taken more than five steps when he started getting texts saying Can we meet? or Do you give me a chance? or even, the most direct of all, Be my boyfriend, please? from many different girls (some he couldn't even remember who they were).

He ignored every text, but checked if there were any from Barbrey… none. He saw her by the football camp, but she simply ignored him, not even knowing that she had wrecked his relationship. She would probably be happy about it… she was always jealous.

But a laugh that belong to another caught his attention. When he looked he could only see the back of her black hair as she was talking with Elia. Elia was laughing too, which was a rare thing nowadays. He wasn't close to her especially after what his sister did to her, but Ashara cared for her a great deal. Elia must have pointed him out to Ashara because she turned and her violet eyes meet his. He smiled at her and walked away.

He didn't have anywhere to go, since he didn't want to talk with any of the girls sending him messages, so he went to meet Ned and Robert at the back of the school.

"Hi. Can you give me a smoke?"

"Sure." Robert answered and gave him a cigarette and light.

"Still not smoking, Neddy?" Brandon said turning to his brother, but Ned only shrugged his shoulders.

"So I heard you broke up with Cat."

"Yeah."

"She found out you were cheating on her, did she? Too much screaming?"

"Nah… She was rather calm about it." Brandon said while he took another puff.

"Do you think I have a chance with her? If she doesn't get mad about cheating, seems a good option."

Brandon could feel that Ned wanted to say something but he couldn't figure out why and what, so Brandon talked first.

"No way!"

"Why!?"

"Because she's a good girl and she won't put up with being treated like trash by you."

"I do not treat girls like trash. Ask Lyanna." When Robert said her name, everyone could hear the pain. And Ned spoke before Brandon would explode and say something he shouldn't.

"You know, you're not the same since Lya."

"And I don't want Cat to get hurt again, I hurt her enough."

"Okay. I won't try. So who are you going to date next?"

"I think I'm going to stop the dating scene for a while." It looks like I have decided.

"Are you going to go celibate like our friend Ned here?" Robert asked as he patted Ned's back and made him blush.

"What, me, celibate? The girls would go begging from Dorne to Winterfell." Robert laughed. "Ned, when are you going to go out into the dating world?" He couldn't help but wonder why did his brother never showed that much interest in girls (there was Ashara, of course, but that was ruined for obvious reasons, and it wasn't like he fought for her). He had even wondered if Ned was gay - now that had been an awkward conversation.

"I don't know…" Ned looked at his feet and then said. "Maybe, we should go to class, the bell's about to ring."

"Sure." Robert said stubbing out his cigarette.

"I'll finish mine first. See you later, guys." Brandon said. While they walked away he stayed back to finish his smoke. When he was about to leave for classes, someone pushed him against the wall and covered his eyes.

"Did you miss me?" She whispered in his ear with a sultry voice. "You know you did."

"Ohh… Ashara…"

"Glad you remembered my name." She took her hands from his eyes and put her lips to his. Their kisses were always intense. While this one started soft, quickly she tempted him by opening her mouth and running her tongue against his bottom lip, and he gave in, of course, he could never resist her. He turned them, so she was now against the wall. She lifted her legs around his waist, his hands scooped her skirt higher and he buried them in her tights. The fingers of her left hand messed with the hair on the back of his neck, while her other hand travelled over Brandon's abs. When they finally came up for air, they stayed in the same position, but with her head resting on his chest.

"God, I missed this."

"We were together less than a week ago, Brandon."

"It's not the same."

She laughed, and the violet in her eyes glowed.

"You like the danger of doing it where we can get caught." She whispered in his ear, in a sultry voice again. "You're not so lucky, I have classes."

"Oh… So why did you come find me?"

"I heard about your break up." She got off him, and rested against the wall, pushing him away to stand by her side. "I wanted to see how you're doing."

"I'm fine."

"Brandon, it's me. I know you liked Catelyn."

"I did not like Cat."

"Liar." She mouthed the word to him. "I'm not saying you loved her or anything like that. I'm saying that you liked her better than the one before, or the one before that." I did, Cat was fun and sweet.

"I hate that you know me so well."

"So how are you feeling?"

"I don't really know. I had never had anyone break up with me. I feel weird…"

"Are you going to get her back?"

"Don't think so. She wouldn't take me back, for sure, she's smarter than that." He laughed and took her hand. "So are you going to ask me to date you?" She laughed again, but this time was laughing at him."

"Oh… Sweet Brandon…" When she said that she sounded so much older than him. "You know me and I know you. We are free spirits. I do not belong to any man."

"You are the wild girl from Dorne…"

"…and you are the wild boy from the North." And she kissed his lips. "Who are you going to date now?"

"No one. Just random hook-ups maybe."

"Okay. Do you wanna meet later at my flat?"

"Won't Elia be home?" Both Elia and Ashara had moved together from Dorne to a flat in the Red Keep, a building that received students from all over the country. It was owned by the Targaryens (Elia's ex-boyfriend, now his sister's boyfriend, had got them the place) who lived right next door.

"She doesn't spend much time at the Red Keep since your sister…"

"Don't talk about her like that!" Brandon hated when Ashara trashed Lyanna (even the way she said "your sister" annoyed him).

"Elia is my best friend. Your sister is nothing to me. So do you wanna come over, or not?" It would be safer if they just avoided the whole subject.

"Sure. Why not? I can skip my afternoon classes. Unless you wanna skip now?"

"Nuh… I'm already late, and I like Mr. Barristan's classes." She kissed his lips again and ran off.


Cersei Lannister

It was lunch time and the cafeteria was full of people from every year and everyone was huddled in groups. Cersei sat at the biggest table, close to the football and baseball players and some of the basketball players and far away from the dorks and weirdos. She was very particular about who she let sit at her table. Only girls, the cheerleaders, of course, and the girls who dated any of the popular guys.

Cersei didn't really like any of the girls who sat with her, too stupid or dumb, and she didn't trust any of them (in truth, she only trusted her brother, Jaime).

And then there were girls who didn't fit any of these categories. Elia who was so weak and insignificant since Rhaegar left her (Cersei still couldn't believe that he had left Elia for that immature and northern girl, while when Cersei tried to get him, he didn't even take his eyes from Elia), but Cersei had to keep her just because she was Ashara's best friend (and she needed Ashara close…). But Catelyn could be got rid off now. With Brandon gone, they would keep her until the pyjama party (those were always good to find out some dirt). Catelyn was just so… nothing, she couldn't find an interesting thing about her, but at least she had the guts to throw the cheating bastard away when she found out (even if it took her long enough, it wasn't like Brandon tried to hide it very well – Ashara was certainly missing lunch because she was away fucking him somewhere).

Her lunch was only a salad, she never ate much because she was afraid of gaining weight and losing her job as model. Modelling wasn't what she wanted for her future, Cersei wanted to run her father's company, I want to rule the world but I can start with father's company, but she knew she wouldn't get it. It was suppose to go to Jaime, not a woman. She knew that Jaime didn't want the company, he wanted to go to Hollywood, follow mom's path. He was really good at it, Cersei had seen all his plays (and she had covered for him so father wouldn't find out). Their father had plans for them and he wouldn't understand their desire to do different things, Jaime was suppose to run the company, Cersei would marry some man with good investments to the company and the sooner Tyrion died the better.

Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard her brother speaking from the other side of the room. He had just entered with the big, ugly senior girl. Jaime had been spending more time with her since last week and he never answered any questions about her. He was always mocking the girl, but it seemed she could hold her own. And it seemed to her that her brother had some adoration for freaks (besides that big girl there was always Tyrion. Cersei couldn't understand how he would care for the dwarf who killed their mother). But Jaime certainly wasn't a freak. Cersei wasn't blind and even being his sister she could tell Jaime was hot and handsome (not very smart, but the looks made up for that), a truly dream catch.

She continued watching him, he sat in the table with Rhaegar and Lyanna, Brienne and Lyanna started immediately talking cheerfully. Jaime talked with Rhaegar; they had grown up together in the Mayor's mansion when Aerys and Tywin still ruled the city (if she had only caught Rhaegar before Elia).

She took her eyes off them, and looked around trying to see everything going on the school. Ned, the other northern and Robert sat in a table far away, but Robert's eyes never left Lyanna. The only northern that wasn't at that table was Roose Bolton who sat with the Freys. Varys sat alone at a table, making notes in his notebook. Barbrey sat with her sister and a boy called William, but she was looking longingly at the place next to Cersei where Ashara was missing (obviously jealous of the girl who was missing with Brandon). Stannis (the less handsome and less charismatic freshmen brother of Robert Baratheon) was sulking next to Davos (a poor boy that came from Flea Bottom on a scholarship, he doesn't belong here) and Melisandre. The last two were always fighting and the girl was always trying to cast some spell in a foreign dialect that she learned in Essos. This time her older cousin Thoros pushed her way. Further away there were members of other sports team (such as wrestling, tennis, volleyball, etc), they were Meryn, Boros, Arys, Osmund Kettleback (that man was hot and she had done a few things with him…) and some others, she didn't know the names of and couldn't be bothered to learn. And then between the freshmen were Petyr and Lysa. Catelyn kept her eyes on them during all the meals. Cersei suspected she needed to be wary of the boy they called Littlefinger, he looked dangerous.

Her thoughts, on the people she had to share high school with, were interrupted when Jaime came behind her and whispered in her ear.

"Thinking so hard creates wrinkles."

"Not thinking makes you dumb." She shot back, but Jaime ignored the insult and took her hand to take her outside. She noticed he was leading her to the car. "Where are you taking me?"

"We don't have more classes, and your practice is not until later on this afternoon. I thought we could do something." That made her genuinely smile, she liked spending time with him. "I'm picking up Tyrion." But with that she pushed him away.

"You know I do not like spending time with him. And besides that I have to prepare for the elections for class president."

"Sure." Jaime said with a sad tone, she knew he despised her hating Tyrion, but she wasn't capable of loving the abomination that killed their mother.

Chapter Text

Jaime Lannister

Cersei said no again, no to Tyrion.

Sometimes he wanted to run away. He didn't know where he belonged because he and his siblings were so different and he wanted to find a family that really loved each other... he wanted his mother back. She was the one who told him he could play the perfect Prince Charming, the one who got him to his first audition. She would be able to bring the family together. She would give them picnics in the backyard, summers by the pool and she could have made their family love Tyrion. Now that would never happen, because everyone blamed Tyrion for their mother's death.

His musings stopped when his phone rang. It was only a message.

Your sister just stormed in. Are you okay? - Brienne

Yes. - Jaime

He answered quickly. He knew she would understand that he didn't want to talk more about Cersei. He had been officially introduced to Brienne only last week, but he felt he could trust her; she was different from his usually friends, especially girls. She was shy, awkward and kind of ugly, but also didn't seem the kind of girl who would blab to the entire school about his secrets. So he told her... he told her about the theatre and his father's wishes... he told her about Cersei and Tyrion... he told her about how much he missed his mom. And in return, she told him about how she missed Galladon, her older brother, and how she felt guilty of his death... she told him of her mother and her sisters being swallowed by the fire (while her brother was swallowed by the sea)... she told him how she hated those girls who mocked her all the time (girls like his sister).

He didn't care how awful it sounded, but he was jealous of the way she was raised. She and her father had lost so much, but her father had never lost himself. Tywin Lannister had. The best part of him was gone when Joanna left this world; the smiles and the playfulness were never seen again.

Jaime shook his head to get his thoughts straight and drove to Tyrion's school. It was in the suburbs of King's Landing. Both Cersei and Jaime, during elementary school and middle school, had studied in small private schools on Casterly Rock, only coming to the capital to attend the best private high school in the state. But Tyrion had wanted to come to King's Landing. He said he liked the different people, liked that that they were people from other states of the US. He said that his favourite place was the Street of Silk. It was there that he could see all the different people, hear the different languages, smell the different smells. Tyrion was too young to know why the Street of Silk was full of different people. But Jamie knew. It was because of the numerous underground strip clubs and even brothels.

Jamie stopped at the front of the school and honked the horn; he opened the window and looked out. He didn't see Tyrion, until he heard him open the back door and get in.

"Hey, Jaime."

"Hi, Tyrion. How was your day?"

"Really good. Do you know that every time you come pick me up girls gush over you?"

"It's what happens when you happened to be a sex god. Not an easy job, brother." Jaime said, laughing while he drove. "So where do you want to go?"

"The cliffs of Casterly Rock." Tyrion answered excited.

"We can't. I have to pick up your sister later."

"Crap." Tyrion muttered. "Do you really have to?"

"Yes. And watch your language." I'm sick of them hating each other. "Don't say that - she's your sister."

"But she doesn't even like me."

"But she's family."

"Like any of them care about me! You're my brother Jamie, but that's it" Tyrion said in a voice that made him sound so much older than his ten years. Jaime wanted to deny it, wanted to be able to tell his young brother he was wrong, but Jaime knew he couldn't…

"Sorry…"

"It's not your fault."

"So where do you wanna go?"

"How about the gardens by the Red Keep?"

"Sure."

Jaime took a turn on the next exit and continued driving in complete silence. He knew something important had happened because normally Tyrion wouldn't shut up during the entire drive. Finally Jaime stopped the car and they both got out.

"Ice cream?" Jaime asked.

"Okay." And they walked to the ice cream stand while Jaime slowed his steps so he could walk by Tyrion's side.

"So what's going on?"

"We'll talk after we get the ice cream."

"Sure, kid."

At the ice cream stand Tyrion always liked to choose a different flavour – this time it was hazel – and Jaime always chose the same – strawberry, which was also Cersei's favourite. Jaime paid and then followed his younger brother to a bench near by. After a few minutes of silence, Jaime finally asked.

"So can you tell me what's going on, now?"

"Okay…" He saw Tyrion take a few deep breaths before he started. "Do you remember, on the first day of school, when you came to pick me up and saved a girl from being run over by a car?"

Jaime remembered. A girl who was about Tyrion's age, a skinny and small girl for her age (but still taller than Tyrion) with black hair had been crossing the street when a car came along at full speed and almost ran her over. Jaime only just had time to push her out of the way. Later he took the girl and Tyrion for milkshakes before finally driving her home.

So Jaime just nodded in answer to Tyrion's question.

"Her name is Tysha and I'm friends with her."

"Okay… Sure." Jaime wasn't seeing the point on this conversation.

"And I think I like her." Tyrion had never said anything like that before. He had only ever said he liked woman from movies, TV or books (he said his perfect girl was Hermione, because she was smart and beautiful). But he was only ten so his idea of dating was very different from Jaime's; it was more like a playmate for life that Tyrion wanted. Jaime wasn't sure what to say, but his little brother had come to him, asking for advice, so he answered the best he could.

"Do you think she likes you back?"

"Maybe. But I'm afraid to ask. She's really beautiful and I'm a dwarf."

"Tyrion, you're awesome and the smartest person I know."

"Thank you. But not everyone thinks so." Jaime knew he was thinking of father and Cersei. "And for me to be the smartest person that you know, your friends – that are both in high school and college – would all have to be really dumb." Tyrion said in his know-it-all voice, making Jaime laugh.

"Yeah. Pretty much."

"But what should I do?"

Jaime was thinking, but he couldn't remember what he did at that age, and he was pretty sure that, even back then, girls came to him of their own accord.

"I don't know. Maybe, you can offer her a cookie."

"Jaime, I'm not a second grader! I'm a fifth grader and I need something more adult." Jaime laughed at how Tyrion thought that made an enormous difference.

"Okay. So maybe you ask her to the mall. You can both go and get something to eat. I'll take you and I'll keep my distance, I promise."

"That may be a good idea. I should bring her flowers too."

"Sure."

"Tulips are beautiful. They are her favourite flower, it reminds her of her parents; they came from the Netherlands. The Netherlands are known for their tulips, did you know that?" When Jaime thought of The Netherlands, he only thought of drugs and sex, so he shook his head.

"No."

"Oh… And canals too, and wooden shoes called clogs, and windmills." He said excitedly. He loved to read about other places. "Do you know what book I have to read for your class?" Tyrion always read the books Jaime was suppose to read for his English class and did the full report – Jaime hated reading and Tyrion loved it, so it was a win-win situation.

"Something mockingbird?"

"To Kill a Mockingbird, stupid."

"Yeah. That."

"I already read it, but I will read it again and write the paper. It's really good, you should read."

"I'll stick to the movie."

Tyrion sighed "You are impossible, Jaime." Then he stood up and walked back to the car.

Jaime laughed, and followed him to the car. No matter how much he complained about them - Jaime Lannister loved his family.


Robert Baratheon

He could hear everything going on in the house. He could hear his parents in the living room; his mother was laughing at something on the television. He could hear Renly running along the hallway, yelling "Stannis has got a girlfriend! Stannis has got a girlfriend!" He could hear Stannis banging on the door and yelling back "Melisandre is not my girlfriend".

"SHUT UP, BOYS. Your mother and I are trying to watch television." His father roared. His brothers quickly went silent and then he heard Renly's door closing.

He hated silence; silence let his mind wander and if it wandered he would want to drink... So he turned on the television, trying to push her out of his mind, to ignore the memories that never stopped haunting him. Seinfeld did it for him, it was enough to make him laugh and forget about her for a while.

He only took his eyes from the TV when he heard a knock on the door. His mother peeked inside.

"Good night, sweet boy. Dad and I are going to bed."

"Bye, mom. Sleep well."

"You too."

She left and Robert waited until he heard the flush from the bathroom and the door to his parents' room closing. He turned off the TV and got out of bed, picking up his wallet, cell phone and keys and left the room. He couldn't hear a single sound coming from his brothers' rooms (okay… only Stannis' snore). He could hear his parents talking in their room. He could barely hear what they were saying, but he heard his name so he decided to listen.

"He's not okay, Steffon. His clothes always smell like liquor. I found a bottle of whisky on his bedside table next to a photo of him and Lyanna." So there's where it went. "I found packs of cigarettes in his pockets."

"You already know he smokes."

"But he doesn't bother hiding it anymore. He comes home smelling like cigarettes everyday, he never used to smoke everyday."

"Cassana…"

He heard his mother cry.

"I'm scared. He's not himself anymore. He doesn't sleep at home, and it's not like we know where he is. I know my son and I know he's not happy."

"It's just a phase, love. Everything is going to be okay."

"I just hope you're right."

Robert crept away from their door. He felt like he had heard enough. He went down the stairs and picked up the keys to his father's car.

So he drove and drove and drove, until he passed the sign saying that he was leaving Storm's End and then another one saying 'Welcome to King's Landing'. He finally arrived at the street with his favourite bar. He parked his father's car right out front and walked in.

"Good evening, Robert." The woman behind the counter smiled at him. He knew her name – Masha and he knew he had been there too many times, but he just didn't care. He saw the usual people, some people he knew, teachers and other employees from school, but he just ignored them. He didn't acknowledge them, they didn't acknowledge him, and that was fine by him.

He sat by the counter, gave her his fake ID and asked for a beer. She put the beer right in front of him and he drank the entire glass in one go.

"So what's going on?" He heard someone ask as they sat down beside him.

"The usual." He said, turning and seeing Thoros, one of the students he could always find here.

"So again with the Stark girl." Robert ignored him and took a shot of something Masha put in front of him.

"I heard your cousin is fucking my brother."

"Mellie…" He said with a laugh. "Sorry. But she wouldn't fuck your brother in a million years."

"No need to be sorry. It's not me."

"Yeah. Another round?"

"Sure." Thoros called for another round. And before they knew it, it was another and then another and another. Then it was shooting darts drunk, and Robert felt numb and the girl with blue roses in her hair was only a small point in his mind, and when a girl climbed on his lap, the blue rose's girl looked even smaller. And by the time he was inside the girl against the wall of the bathroom, the blue was gone for a while. But really… she was never gone for long. She always came back.

It was three in the morning when he finally left the bar, after promising the girl he would call her later. He drank two cups of coffee before getting in the car. Masha had tried to insist he got a cab, but he knew he couldn't just leave his father's car in the middle of King's Landing. So at 3.00 am Robert drove home. He made it home safely and the alcohol in his system didn't let the thoughts or dreams of her haunt him again, at least not that night.

But the morning was a different matter; in the morning she came back, and this time it wasn't one of the pleasant dreams he sometimes had, it was the one that replayed how he felt the weekend she disappeared without any reason and came back to break his heart into a million pieces.

Besides that, his head was on fire. He could barely keep his eyes open but the shower helped a little, so did the pills and the coffee he drank that morning would keep him awake. At breakfast his mother was eyeing him strangely, and he was almost sure she could smell the booze and sex on him even if he had scrubbed himself clean with her rose bath soap.

Their father drove them to school, and he took the opportunity to sleep a little bit more. When they arrived, he said bye to his father and left to find Ned.

Ned was the brother he had chosen when he had first met him in a Summer Camp at the Eyrie. They were so different – Ice and Fire – Ned was a grown-up, responsible and sometimes (to be truthfully a lot of the time) a killjoy and Robert liked to party, to not care and to do what he wanted. But he still wouldn't trade him for anything. Best friends like him weren't easy to find; someone in whom you could put all your trust and always expect him to tell you the truth no matter what.

The other Starks weren't bad either, Brandon was just like Robert - always ready to have fun (Ned had the job of taking care of both of them). Benjen was their younger brother. He was the same age as Renly (but so different from Robert's own younger brother). Benjen could be a bit like Brandon in that he was always laughing and telling jokes and a bit like Ned, who was already more responsible than his eighteen year old brother; but in the end he was his own person.

And then there was Lyanna. It had all begun when she started following Ned and him around when they were eight. She followed them everywhere they went. By twelve he knew she was the one for him, and by thirteen he was dating her. And now at sixteen he didn't know how to live without her. He didn't care when people said that there were other fish in the sea. He knew there were. Since she left him he had gone out and found those other fish, but that didn't mean he could stop thinking about her; how she smelled, how she laughed, how she liked to climb on his back, when she was just there…

Because, you know what? He fucking loved her.

Chapter Text

Eddard "Ned" Stark

Ned could see Robert coming his way, and by the way he walked and rubbed his temples he could say he had a hangover (again). He turned to Brandon, who was sitting next to him.

"Do you have any pills?"

"What kind of pills?"

"I need something to give Robert. He went drinking last night."

"How do you know?" I've seen you drunk enough times to know.

"I just know. So do you have anything for hangovers?"

"Wait a second." Ned waited while Brandon went through a bag full of pills – some of them he couldn't recognize but he suspected it wasn't something Brandon would want their father to find out. Ned didn't say anything, Brandon was old enough to know what he was doing, but he still gave him one of his looks when his brother gave him the pill. "This one is strong enough to make him feel better."

"Thanks."

"No problem. I'm gonna go find… hmm…" Brandon said while his eyes followed some girl in a short skirt, and he didn't even bother to finish his sentence, just disappearing to find the girl that his eyes were following. Ned just ignored him and met Robert who had stopped to talk with Janos, one of the guys who also played in the football team. Janos Slynt was the first to approach him.

"Good morning, Stark." People had the habit of always calling him by his last name – Stark – that way they didn't have to remember his name. He was also known as Brandon's brother or Robert's friend.

"Hi, Janos."

"Bye, Janos. I'll see later." Robert pushed Ned away and they both started walking. "Hi, Ned. Don't talk too loud, killing headshake."

"Sorry. Try this." Ned said, giving him the pill that Brandon had given him earlier.

"Wait here." Robert walked to the bathroom and a few moments later came back. "I hope that works." Me too.

"Brandon said it would."

"What do we have now?"

"History with Professor Pycelle."

"He's so fucking boring; his classes always make me want to fall asleep. Why couldn't we have Jon as our teacher?"

"I don't know, but at least we have Professor Arryn at Government."

Ned had to agree with Robert; Professor Pycelle was one of the most boring people he knew, unlike Professor Arryn. When they first met them he was only 'Jon' (and Robert insisted on calling him that, even in the classroom). Jon Arryn was an old friend of his father and the owner of the camp where Ned had met Robert, so most of Ned's childhood summer holidays had been spent with Jon Arryn around. He had became some kind of mentor (and a friend) to both Ned and Robert, so much so that having him as a teacher now was rather weird.

"Can't he just skip this class?"

"Robert, you're not missing first period." Ned said, and Robert eventually followed him to the classroom. Only a few people were already inside, but none of them seemed happy to be here. Robert went to sit at the back of the classroom and Ned sat next to him.

"I'm going to sleep. Wake me when this is over." Robert laid his head on the table while Ned took his things from his bag, waiting for the class to start.

Ashara and Elia sat right in front of him. Elia didn't even look at him, but Ashara smiled at him. When she sat down she turned to him and put her arms on his table.

"Hi, Ned." She said sweetly while she played with her black hair.

"Hey." Ned couldn't help it; he was still nervous when he talked to her, even if there was no longer a chance there could ever been something between them. She looked at him as if she was waiting for him to say something more. When he didn't, she talked again.

"So how is it going with you, Neddy?"

"Good, but don't call me Neddy, Ashara."

"Why?! Brandon calls you that."

"He's my brother. And I'm sure you don't want me calling you things my brother calls you out loud." I'm sure that some of them you don't even know. But before she could answer, Professor Pycelle entered the classroom.

"Good morning. Pay attention..." Ashara smiled and winked at him and then turned back to the teacher.

Less than fifteen minutes into the class, Ned was sure that Robert was right and that this class was a waste of time. Ned hadn't learned anything new apart from the fact that the teacher's neighbour had left the radio turned on all night.

Ned tried to keep his mind on the class, and he barely managed it. When the bell rang, he tried to wake Robert up.

"Wake up. The class is over." Robert groaned. "Wake up." This time Ned shook him, but he groaned again. "Robert."

"I'm up. Shut up."

Robert stood up and followed Ned out of the classroom.

"How are you feeling, now?" Ned asked.

"Better. But I need a smoke. Are you coming or not?"

"You took too long waking up. The next class will start in a few."

"I still need a fucking smoke. Go in, we don't have the same class next."

"See you after class." Each of them went their own way; Ned was going to his locker, until he heard someone yell his name.

"NED! NED! Wait up." He turned he saw her again. "I would like to finish our conversation." She had him trapped between her body and the locker.

"So what do you wanna talk about?"

"You used to like to talk with me." She said, trying to flirt with him and thrusting her breasts out towards him.

"Ash, what are you doing?" He said looking at her. She immediately knew she had gone too far.

"Sorry."

"No problem. Just don't throw yourself at me. I'm not worth it…" He smiled and whispered. "…Keep that for my brother." She pulled him by the hand to an empty classroom.

"What does your brother say about me?" She asked, sitting on one of the tables.

"What?"

"In the beginning of the class, you said that I wouldn't want you calling me the things Brandon calls me. I wanna know; what does he call me?"

"Shouldn't you ask him?"

"Your brother can be quite an ass."

"Don't I know it?! And I thought you didn't care, don't you have an open relationship of some kind?"

"Yeah. I just want to know that he says about me. I don't like the thought that he talks about me to other people. "

"Okay. I understand; but ask him. "

"Ah... Forget it. Gotta run. Bye Eddard."

"Bye." Brandon fucks everybody, and screws over every girl. Even Ashara, who everyone says can't commit, is freaking out about him. Ned left the classroom and in front of him was Professor Barristan with an angry look on his face. Ned couldn't figure out why.

Ned got through all his classes and then had lunch with Robert in a small restaurant down the street. He walked Robert back to the school, said goodbye and walked to the bus stop. And for the second time that day, he heard a girl call his name. This never happens, especially twice in the same day.

"Ned! Ned!" He turned and saw her running to him. "Wait up." When she finally caught up with him and he took a few deep breaths before he said.

"Hi, Catelyn." He had met her last year – not exactly last year he'd known her since their freshmen year – but it was only last year he'd spoken to her for the first time, when they had been paired up together in Chemistry. She was quite fun – and beautiful, of course – smart and interesting. And she liked to talk, especially about her family (Edmure, Lysa and Petyr) and he liked to listen.

"I've told you - you can call me Cat. Where are you going?"

"To the bus stop." So they both started walking to the bus stop. "I'm catching a bus to White Harbor."

"Really?! It stops in Riverrun. I can go with you."

"It will take longer for you."

"Doesn't matter, I don't really like to go alone." And while they are talking and walking they saw the bus going by and they had to run to catch it. When they finally got on and sat down, she started laughing really loudly and Ned couldn't help but laugh a little too. "I think it's the first time I've heard you laugh." Catelyn whispered between laughs and Ned didn't know what to say about that.

She kept laughing until she collapsed in a fit of giggles, her head ending up on his shoulder. Ned liked the feeling of her hair brushing against his face, but when she realised where her head was, she pulled away from him as fast as she could and blushed, turning her head to the window.

"Sorry." She whispered, but she quickly regained her confidence and wondered, "Why are you going to White Harbor? If you don't mind me asking."

"I'm gonna see a few friends of mine."

"Do they live there?"

"No. They live in other places in the North, but we like to meet there."

"Who are they?"

"They are all older, finished with college and everything. Family friends."

"The ones in the photos around your living room." He nodded; this reminded him that she had been in their home because she used to be his brother's girlfriend. "Are you meeting all of them?"

"No, only, Galbart, who is normally pretty busy - he's studying to become a doctor and Maege - she's used to be Lyanna's idol when we were kids – she's a complete badass, and Greatjon. He was Maege's high school sweetheart, but they broke up quite a long time ago now. They're still great friends."

"They seem cool."

"They are." They were all pretty crazy and funny, a bit like Robert, but being older, they were also more responsible.

"Tell me more." And it was the first time in a long time that someone really wanted to hear him speak… So they talked about random things, she laughed and when she left she promised to see him in Chemistry class.


Rhaegar Targaryen

"Oh… God… Lyanna."

"Hmmmm…"

"I missed you so much… Oh… Lya…" She giggled, and he loved how he could make her giggle. He was sitting in his car. She had been in the passenger seat but she made him stop the car so she could climb into his lap. And now here he was getting his neck kissed. He kept his hands on her back while she kept licking and kissing his neck.

"Kiss me!" She smiled at him as she moved up from his neck, kissing his face more slowly.

"I love you. And I missed you too." He couldn't help but smile too, and took her head between his hands and kissed her passionately. Her teeth pulled on his bottom lip, and then her tongue fought for entrance. He opened his mouth and their tongues found each other and fought.

His hands kept going through her hair and her right hand was trying to undo his shirt. Soon she had his shirt open and she had taken her lips from his. Then she started kissing his chest lower, lower and lower…

…When the phone rang.

"Oh, please don't answer." Lyanna said, looking up to him with her beautiful and mysterious grey eyes. But Rhaegar still looked at the phone and he knew he had to take the call. He kissed the top of her head and mouthed Sorry. She tried to leave his lap, but he pushed her back, holding her wrist and keeping her in place.

"Mom. What's going on? You know I have football practice this afternoon."

"Please come home." He could hear his mother's cries.

"What's going on?" He was scared, please don't let be dad again.

"Just come home quick. Don't tell anyone what's going on."

"Ok. Be there in ten. Love you." He turned off the phone and looked at her. "Baby, I need to…"

"… yes, you need to go." She said getting out of his lap while he buttoned up his shirt. "Are you at least going what's this about this time?" Please don't ask. "You are not going to tell me are you? Again!" She yelled and got out of the car.

"Please, Lya. Wait. You know I can't tell you."

"Fuck you, Rhaegar." She screamed in the middle of the street while she gave him the finger. He punched the steering wheel in frustration. He considered shouting after her, to try and get her to come back. She doesn't need it and she doesn't want it now, Rhaegar. Just get home quickly.

He drove as quickly as he could. He was sure he broke all the speed limits and as soon as he got home, he ran out of the car and into the house.

"Mom! Mom! Please someone answer." Rhaegar yelled from the door, his little brother ran to him and Rhaegar ruffled his hair.

"Viserys, where's mom?"

"She's in her room trying to calm dad."

"What happened?"

"I don't know. Mom picked me up from school. When we got home I saw smoke coming from the kitchen and then mom send me outside to the garden." Oh… please… not the fire again.

"I'm gonna check on mom and dad. Now behave." He ruffled Viserys's hair again.

He ran up the stairs to his parents' room and knocked on the door.

"Mom, it's me. Can I come him?"

"Yes, please." When he entered the room, his mom was sitting on the bed, tears were pouring from her face and her hands were stroking his dad's head. She kept whispering. "Everything is going to be okay, Aerys. Nobody wants to hurt you. You're safe, love."

"They want to kill me. They are coming for me." He could hear his father say.

"I will keep you safe. Now and forever." She kept saying, over and over again. "Sleep. Sleep."

Rhaegar stayed there, next to the door, looking at them. There was so much love in his mother's eyes. They had told him their love story so many times and he wanted to live the same story. They had grown up together, best friends until his dad left for college. After that they met again, falling in love. She stayed by his side throughout his political career and now she couldn't let him go when he was losing himself.

"I think father is sleeping."

"Can we speak, mom?" His mother stood up, letting his father rest quietly on the bed, kissing his head before leaving the room. Rhaegar followed her out. "What happened today?"

"Your father had another accident."

"What kind of accident, mom?"

"He burned the kitchen."

"Mom." He yelled. "This can't keep happen. Someone is bound to get hurt."

"Don't speak so loud. You will wake up dad and scare Viserys."

"Mom, he needs help."

"I'm helping the best I can."

"He needs professional help. Imagine that Viserys had been with him when he was one of his attacks. Imagine, it was Daenerys." He saw the look on his mother's eyes.

"Mom, what happened?" She started crying again and he finally heard her whisper.

"Daenerys was in the kitchen."

"What?! Where's is she?!" He yelled again and ran down the stairs.

"She's okay." His mother yelled, running after him.

"I'm gonna take her to the hospital."

"You can't. They will ask questions." Rhaella cried again while he was picking up Daenerys and checking her for any marks. "They will take your father away."

"How close was she to the fire?"

"I don't know." She whispered falling down to the floor crying. Rhaegar sat next to her, put his arm around his mother's shoulder and with his other arm, he held Daenerys to his chest.

"Look at her. She could have been hurt." They both look at Daenerys and she giggled at them. "She's innocent. And dad needs help…"

"He doesn't trust people; he thinks people are going to hurt him. If he goes he won't trust me anymore. I can't lose your dad. It'll be worse if he goes away, he needs people who love him, he needs his family."

"Mom…"

"Please just wait. He'll get better." She stood up, cleaned her face and said. "I need to check on Viserys. I love you, Rhaegar."

"Love you, too." He stayed in the floor until his mom left, then stood up and laid Daenerys on her crib. Who would guess that the perfect Targaryen family from the magazines was so messed up? He went up to his room, sat on the bed and pulled out his phone. Please Arthur pick up, I need someone to fucking talk to. But the phone just rang and nobody picked up, he tried Jon next… but he didn't pick up either.

So he left his room via the window and walked until he was in the front of his house and looking straight to the Red Keep Apartments, owned by his family. As he pulled out a cigarette, he heard someone speak.

"I thought you didn't smoke."

"I didn't. You never let me."

"Oh…" Elia muttered as a response. I didn't mean it like that. But he didn't say it aloud. "Lyanna Stark smokes, right." He just nodded. "So your decisions on smoking are based on who you're dating?" Rhaegar still kept quiet. "Are you going to talk?" She still kept her eyes on him. "Are you going to fucking say anything?"

"You never used to swear."

"You never used to smoke. So I guess we are even."

"Why?"

"Because people change." He knew she was talking about him, about their break-up. "Can I have one?"

"You don't smoke."

"I didn't swear either. Don't be a party-pooper." Lyanna calls him that whole the time, but Elia never. They used to have fun, they could laugh the whole night and she never told him he was boring before. "And just so you know - I've smoked cigarettes before."

"You're lying."

"How do you know?"

"You do that thing with your eye when you lie." She blushed and brought her hand to her eye.

"I have smoked weed."

"Lying again." He laughed.

"It's true. I just didn't smoke a whole joint, I just took a drag."

"How was it?"

"Awful." And Rhaegar laughed even more, and soon Elia was laughing with him. "Ashara made me take a drag of hers."

"I thought so."

"So what's going on?"

"Nothing."

"You've got to remember that I know you pretty well too." She sat on the floor and asked him to sit next to her. So he sat next to her, but kept his distance trying not to touch her, and told her everything going on inside the four walls of his house. And she just listened without asking questions or making comments. When he finished talking almost an hour had past.

"You are the only person I've told. And I'm not supposed to tell anyone. My mom asked…" She kissed his cheek and stood up to leave.

"So why are you telling me?" I wish I knew. He banged his head against the wall behind him and took out another cigarette.

After finishing his smoke, he got up and walked to his house. He had left by the window, but he entered by the main door. Viserys was still watching TV and he supposed his parents were still in their bedroom, so he knocked on their door.

"How is he?" He whispered.

"Better." But he knew his mother was lying, she had red marks in her arms. His father had woken up with nightmares again.

"I'm gonna order Chinese. And Dany is gonna stay in my room for the night. Is that okay?"

"Thank you."

"No problem, mother."

When dinner arrived, he took a tray with their food to their bedroom. And he brought the rest to the living room for him and Viserys. He also got proper food to feed Daenerys. After dinner and little bit of cartoons on TV, he got both of them ready for bed. He put Daenerys in his room, then he went to read Viserys a story.

He came back to his room, and played with Daenerys's little fingers while he dialled her number on his phone. Pick up. But it went immediately to voice mail. Knowing she rejected the call, he text her.

Please pick up. I really want to talk to you. – Rhaegar

He tried to call her again, this time she picked up.

"I'm still pissed."

"I figured. You wouldn't be the Lya I love if you weren't." He knew she smiled on the other end of the phone.

"So are you going to tell me what the fuck is going on?"

"No."

"Okay. I'm gonna turn off the phone."

"No… Wait. I do want to tell you…"

"So tell me."

"I can't do it over the phone."

"For fuck's sake."

"We can get away for the weekend. I'll get the key for the house in Dragonstone." Just like our first weekend together, let's just run away.

"Can't. Have my brother's ex-girlfriend's pyjama party."

"Oh… So…"

"So… Find some way of telling me the truth. I don't like to be lied to."

"I will."

"I hope so. Bye."

"Bye. I love you, Lya." He said but she hung up, before she heard him say that. He needed to tell her. He just hoped that both Elia and Lyanna being at the same party wouldn't mess everything up.


Chapter Text

Elia Martell

Elia couldn't stop thinking about Rhaegar and the talk they had had earlier on that week. She had laughed with him, and he had trusted her enough to tell her something he hadn't told anyone before.

So there she was daydreaming on the kitchen counter when Ashara came out of her room, wearing a short leather skirt, killer high heels and a purple blouse that matched her eyes.

"Do you want to come to the party?" Ashara asked.

"No, thanks. I'm okay staying at home, but have fun."

"I will… Call me, if you need anything." Ashara said while kissing the top of Elia's head and walking out of the door.

Now Elia was truly alone in their apartment. It was small place (nothing compared to the big mansion her family had down south in Sunspear). It had only a connected kitchen and living room, two bedrooms and one bathroom (which was always a problem in the morning).

She prepared a cup of tea, sat on the sofa and put on one of the old VHS tapes she had brought from home, Casablanca. She ended up falling asleep watching the movie and only waking up in the final scene where they board the plane. She checked if Ashara had already arrived home – she had not – and dragged herself to bed.

The next morning, she woke waked up to the sounds of Ashara's moans and some guy's grunts. Elia covered her head with her pillow and tried to push the sounds of the headboard banging on her wall away, and she was finally able to fall asleep again. When she got out of bed and walked to the kitchen, Ashara was by the door saying goodbye to a guy.

"So who was he?" Elia asked her when he left.

"Some guy, he goes to the House of Black and White."

"The college in Braavos?!" Ashara nodded, taking a seat next to Elia at the counter and getting breakfast for her. "Does he know you're only sixteen?"

"No. "

"Are you going out again?"

"He's going back home. But he said if he came here again he would call me, and he said he would bring some friends. You could go out with us."

"I don't think so Ash. But you go on and have fun."

"Okay. But please, tonight, can we have a girls' night?"

"The sleepover party is tonight."

"Is it still on?"

"Yes. And you're not making me go alone."

"The thought did not cross my mind."

"Liar." Ashara laughed at the face Elia made when she said it. "But you're not leaving me alone. She's gonna be there."

"I know. And so will Catelyn Tully." She looked right at Ashara when she said that, and she wanted to say it's not the same…, but Ashara cut in first. She can always read my thoughts. "I know it's not the same, you don't need to say it. Brandon is just Brandon, but I still fuck him."

"But you don't love him…" Elia whispered, and she was crying again.

"Sweetie…" Ashara sat next to Elia; she got the hair of her face and held her.

"You don't have to see the boy you love, your best friend, the person who told you that would never leave you, the boy you thought you would marry, everyday, with his arms around some girl he left you for." Elia had been scared he would leave her. Some of her thoughts were irrational like doubting Ashara, who's her best friend and would never betray her (but Elia never thought Rhaegar would neither). There were other girls who flirted with him all the time, how many times had Cersei Lannister made it known he was her prey. But he had told her he didn't care he loved Elia, just Elia… but some day, out of nowhere, the tomboy northern girl changed his mind.

"I thought I was your best friend." Was the only thing Ashara said.

"He left me for her. And she's so different, how could he have loved me for so long, and then just trade me in for the girl who looks nothing like me." What if he never loved me? Ashara not knowing what to say kissed the top of Elia's head again.

"I need to take a shower." Elia said straitening up. "Then it's you. You reek of alcohol and sex." Ashara just laughed while Elia went to the bathroom.

Elia didn't take long in the shower; she left the bathroom and dressed in a light yellow summer dress, put her hair in a bun and went to Ashara's room to sit in her bed and wait for her. Her room was a mess, there were tons of clothes on the floor, her bed to be made – unlike Elia's room that was always clean and neat.

When Ashara entered her room she found Elia sitting on her already made bed.

"What are you doing here?"

"I'm here to help you pack."

"Why do you think I need help?" She said while she dressed in small shorts and a black top.

"Because I need to make sure you pack proper things." Ashara laughed and started putting on her make-up.

"Do you want some?" She asked about the make-up.

"Nahh. I'm not putting make-up on just for a sleepover."

"It could…"

"I'm sure I'm not putting make-up to impress Lyanna Stark."

"I love it when you're mean." She said sitting next to Elia and bumping her shoulder.

They both finished up packing her bags, and Elia convinced Ashara to fix her room, while Elia prepared lunch. Elia loved to cook, especially her family recipes that had been passed down from generation to generation since before the colonizing of America.

After eating they both left their apartment and walked to the bus station. Neither of them had a car, Ashara didn't even had a driving license she had tried taking driving lessons many times, but she always ended up paying for damage and Elia used to just take Rhaegar's jeep when she needed it.

They got out of the bus on the stop at Riverrun and walked until they found a rustic house, bigger than normal standards, but still smaller that Elia's childhood home, with a mailbox saying Tully.

Ashara rang the bell, and a small kid with curls that were the same colour as Catelyn's hair.

"Hi, I'm Elia. This is Ashara."

"HI! I'm Edmure. You're beautiful." He took her hand and kissed it, and Elia couldn't help but flush.

"Thanks." He let both of them enter and screamed.

"Cat! More people have arrived!" After the boy screamed, Catelyn came running down the stairs, dressed in a summer dress and with her hair pleated into a braid.

"Hi." She's nervous.

"Hello. Hope we're not too late."

"Oh… No. Cersei, Taena and Falyse are already upstairs. Only Brienne and Ly…" She doesn't what to say.

"Okay. Do you need help with anything?" Elia said trying to put the girl at ease; she probably had only invited the Stark girl and Brienne because Catelyn had been dating Brandon.

"No, but thanks for asking. I need to go pick something from the kitchen, but you can go to my room. It's the first one on the top of the stairs." They went up the stairs, and they found the room easily, Cersei was already sitting on the bed with the other two girls on the floor and food all around them.

Cersei and Ashara immediately started talking, while Elia looked around the room. It was full of photos – but she also noticed it was just family and the Petyr boy – she had a lot of books, good ones too – the stories Elia loved. She stopped looking when she heard the bell and then three different footsteps on the stairs, Catelyn, Brienne and Lyanna. When Lyanna entered, she didn't look Elia in the eye…

And for the rest of the afternoon, Lyanna did not try to look; she kept her eyes away from Elia…


Catelyn Tully

Catelyn had been nervous about this. She was good at making friends, she would talk to almost anyone, but really trusting someone and making close friends was harder. But without Petyr and Lysa, she needed someone to trust…

They had been watching movies before dinner and after eating the pizza, Cersei had convinced everyone to play The Truth game. Some of them weren't too keen on the idea – she wasn't – but people rarely said no to Cersei.

The idea of the game was that one of them would ask a question and everyone would have to answer truthfully, including the one who asked. Falyse started.

"First kiss?" As they were seated in circle, they went around clockwise. Cersei was the first to answer. Perhaps she now regretted convincing everyone to play the game, but she didn't back down.

"Jaime." There were gasps around the room.

"Your first kiss was your twin?" Lyanna gasped.

"We were both nine, and our friends were kissing at school, but we wanted to kiss someone who mattered, so we kissed. Please! It's not like we had sex next to a drunken king!" Everybody shut up after her answer and looked at Catelyn, waiting for hers.

"Petyr Baelish." Catelyn said, "For pretty much, the same reasons as Cersei. I was twelve." She remembered how she, Petyr and Lysa sat by the tree learning how to kiss.

"Robert." Lyanna answered, not wanting to say anything more.

Next was Brienne, she was flushed and looking at the floor.

"I've… I've nev… Nobody…" Taena and Felyse were laughing and Lyanna threw them a death glare and said.

"It's your turn Ashara."

"But she…" Taena tried saying, but Lyanna's look cut her down.

"Oh… My first kiss… A boy from Dorne, he was nine, I was seven, we were playing in the park next to Elia's house. Arthur, my older brother, punched him right after he kissed me."

"Rhaegar." It was the only thing Elia said and for the first time her eyes looked straight at Lyanna.

Both Taena and Falyse's first kisses were with boys from middle school, but the girls couldn't ignore the looks Lyanna and Elia were trading.

Other rounds of questions were asked; Catelyn found she wasn't the only one that had lost her mother, that they all wished they could change something. Some of the questions were innocent, others were more risky – Cersei had looked at her strangely when it was Ashara's turn to answer Cersei's question about Ashara's last sexual partner (why would she look at me?).

After a while everyone had grown bored of the game, and the conversation moved on to clothes. She saw Lyanna and Brienne leaving the room after a few minutes and she noticed Elia looking around her shelves, she wanted to say something, but she didn't know what. But then she heard Elia's voice.

"What's your favourite book?" She saw Elia had taken a worn-out book from the shelf and was going through it.

"I really can't decide."

"Yours?"

"Romeo and Juliet. Are you reading something good right now?"

"A romance Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks. You?"

"Re-reading Carmilla."

"It's a great book. But I prefer Dracula." Elia smiled, agreed and asked.

"You have a lot of books about the history of Westeros." Catelyn blushed; most people mocked her about her passion for history.

"I like reading about our history. Our state is unique."

"Yeah, you're right. Is that what you would like to do in the future, study Westeros?"

"I would love to continue studying it, but also teach elementary school."

"I would love to know what I wanna do with my future. I used to know, but not now." Elia admitted.

"What did you want to do?"

"Travel…"

"Really?!"

"Yeah. Rhaegar and I were going to take a gap year, but…"

"You can still do it. Go alone or with friends." It wasn't fair to give up on things just because they broke up.

"Yeah…" Elia went silent for a while and Catelyn was able to hear the conversation next to her.

"So what's going on with Brandon?" Falyse asked.

"Let's not talk about that here." Ashara whispered, and Catelyn was curious – Ashara wasn't one to back out from a question.

"Why? Everyone knows you're fucking him." Falyse said matter-of-factly. Taena bumped her and pointed to Catelyn, who took her eyes from the conversation and pretended not to be listening.

"Oh… You don't think she heard, do you?" Falyse asked.

"I don't think so." Taena said.

"Just be careful, and let's not talk about Brandon and me here."

"Yeah. Sure. But I thought she caught him cheating."

"I'm not the only girl that fucks Brandon. And I know it wasn't me she caught." Oh god… Brandon touched that girl, and she's sitting on my bed… It wasn't just Barbrey, or just her and Ashara, but there were more… so many more.

The four of them changed the subject but were still talking, Elia was reading a book about the history of the Martells, maybe… she was one of those Martells – they descended from the Native Americans and not the English colonizers.

Cat left her room. She heard laughing coming from the living room. In there she found Edmure playing Play Station against Lyanna, and he was screaming.

"I'm winning." He was making car sounds as he drove, and Cat was resting against the doorframe looking at him, he was growing more each day. Lyanna ended up winning in the last second.

"Re-match!"

"It's Brienne's turn now, play against her."

"Okay. I'm going to beat you." Brienne took the control and started playing against him, and Lyanna saw her and went to talk to her.

"Sorry for leaving. Your brother is a cool kid."

"I understand." She saw how they were looking at Lyanna. "I have to get my cool brother to bed soon. But you two can keep playing, I don't mind."

"Really?!"

"If I can stay downstairs with you."

"Sure it's your party." Lyanna went back to the couch, and when Edmure's game finally ended – he won this time, but she was pretty sure Brienne lost on purpose – she said.

"Edmure, it's time for bed."

"But Cat…"

"Bed, kiddo." She picked him up, he was already dressed and teeth cleaned, he went to the bathroom and then got him under the sheets and kissed the top of his head.

"Sleep well, Eddy."

"Good dreams, Catty."

She went back to the living room and sat on the armchair, with her knees to her chest, while she watched them play. They were very different; Lyanna was always yelling and sometimes cursing while she was playing and would not be quiet even for a few moments – a lot like Brandon, but Brienne was very quiet (and winning most games). It was Brienne who asked.

"Do you want to play?"

"No, thanks. I'm not very good."

"And I'm sorry we left the room, but… but they don't really like us." Brienne said while she blushed.

"I understand. They can be a quite mean."

"Yes. Why are you friends with them?" Lyanna asked, and Brienne sent her friend a look that said that's rude.

"My best friends are not talking to me."

"You know they only talked to you because you're dating my brother."

"Yeah. I guess so."

"So what happened between you and your friends?" Lyanna asked while they kept playing, and Catelyn heard herself opening up to these two girls.

"Petyr and Lysa made me choose between them and your brother. I ended up choosing your brother. I never really thought they would stop talking to me as we live in the same house."

"Sorry about my brother, he can be a jackass."

"I know." They kept silent for the rest of the game, apart from Lyanna's yells and curses.


Chapter Text

Lyanna Stark

They had been playing for one hour. Catelyn was still sitting on the chair quietly… How could she be so quiet? It reminded Lyanna of Ned and how he could always go unnoticed.

Lyanna had lost most games – it was embarrassing, Brienne was playing this for the first time and Lyanna played this game with her younger brother at least one time a week.

"Fuck. I don't wanna play anymore!" Lyanna yelled and threw the controller on the couch. Brienne gave her look and Catelyn got out of her little bubble, looking at Lyanna. "Shit. Sorry. Shit…" She whispered and Catelyn laughed a little. "Sorry."

"No problem. Just please don't yell."

"Sorry, again. Do you have any more games?"

"I think Edmure keeps them all in his room. Sorry."

"Okay. But I'm not really in the mood to go back up stairs." Lyanna said,

"Me neither." Catelyn confessed. "Help me pack this and then follow me."

They got everything tidy on the living room and followed Catelyn to the kitchen, both Lyanna and Brienne sat on the chairs around the counter, while Catelyn when to pick up three spoons and something from the freezer.

"Ice cream - strawberry. I hope you both like it."

"Please tell me it's not the low fat shit?" Lyanna asked and Brienne kicked her on the shin. "You don't need to kick me!"

"No. It's not low fat."

"Cool." Catelyn sat on another one of the chairs, passed the spoons and the three of them started digging into the ice cream.

"Thank you for the ice cream." Brienne said. "And for keeping us out of there."

"No problem. I don't want to be there either"

"If you don't want to answer, don't. But why did you invite them all if you want to be away from them?" Brienne asked softly.

"I've had the sleepover planned for some time, before the break up." Catelyn explained.

"So?!"

"So before I was in a mood to do it and I had to invite them and…"

"And us."

"Yeah. I'm really sorry if this is a bummer. It's Saturday night, I'm sure you could have been doing something better."

"No. I would have been home doing nothing." Brienne said and Lyanna pretend to agree, while she though I could have been doing Rhaegar and he may have told me what he's hiding for me.

They continued eating the ice cream, until Catelyn stopped again and looked into space, again.

"Can I ask you something?" Catelyn asked turning to Lyanna.

"Sure."

"Should have I slept with Brandon?" What?! I can't believe she's asking me this, Lyanna thought while Brienne choked on the ice cream – she always did when boys came to the conversation.

"What?!"

"He slept with other girls, right? That's why he cheated, right? He needed sex."

"I love my brother, but he's a jerk. He loves the chase; after he has the girl he loses interest. Even if you two did have sex, he would still have lost interest. Really, you should never sleep with a guy 'just because'. Do it because you really want it and believe you're ready."

"Do you regret your first time?" Catelyn asked after listening carefully to her words. And with a smile on her face, Lyanna answered.

"No. I could never regret it, it was perfect."

"But you and him are not together anymore…"

"I loved Robert and he loved me." But he still loves me. "I was fourteen and I thought he was the one." Catelyn went quiet. Lyanna hoped she wasn't judging her, everyone though fourteen was too early, but she had been ready and she would never regret it.

Lyanna still remembered that night… They had talked about it before and both Robert and Lyanna agreed that they were ready to take the next step, but she didn't know that night would be the night. Robert planned everything. He took her to a cave in Storm's End – their cave – he lit candles, laid lots of blankets on the ground, brought pizza, Chee-tos and Coca-Cola. Robert asked her again during the night if she was ready and if she was sure and she kissed him to let him know she was. She remembered the look on his face when she stood in front of him in her underwear, pure love, passion and lust (even if her underwear was far from lingerie) and how he tried to go as slowly as he could (fighting his excitement to go faster)… And how he whispered 'Lyanna' in my ear… Over and over again…

"Can I ask you something else?" Catelyn asked her again, bringing her out of her memories.

"Sure."

"It's about Rhaegar…"

"I'm listening." Lyanna confirmed.

"What happened?" Now, both Catelyn and Brienne's eyes were fixed on her – Brienne had heard part of the story but not everything.

"Last year, there was a dance – the Dance of Harrenhal – where they honoured the village that had been burned down so many years ago. I don't think either of you went, did you?" They both shook their headsand continued listening. "Everyone likes to say that we were having a long-time affair. It's not true…" She looked Brienne in the eye and said "I have told you that, but I'll tell you what really happened. And you will see it's not the start of a great love story… I went to the dance with Robert, Rhaegar went with Elia, and we shared only one dance – nothing special. I also danced with Howard Reed, Jory and nobody said anything and Rhaegar danced more than once with Ashara." It was the truth, nobody questioned who they danced with until he was crowned Prince of the Ball – a stupid tradition. "By the end of the night, Rhaegar had been crowned and he had to crown a girl – it was an idea from the committee that organized the dance; we voted for the Prince…" I voted for Robert. "… and he would choose the Queen of Love and Beauty, I don't have a fucking idea who came up with that stupid name."

"It's an old tradition, when a Knight won a tourney he would crown a lady and she would become the Queen of Love and Beauty." Catelyn said.

"Rhaegar crowned me as you know. But it was a random choice, he apologized to Robert and to me after, and told me why he did it – Elia was allergic to the flowers, he wanted to give them to her…" In his heart he did. "…but she would get too sick if he did that and his second choice had been Ashara but he couldn't find her anywhere." Probably because she had already left with Brandon, breaking Ned's heart. "It was mere chance that he chose me from all the girls."

"What happened for you to fall in love with him? You love him, right?" Catelyn asked. She looked like Benjen, listening attentively to Ned and Brandon when they told him a story. Lyanna only nodded to the last question and said.

"He smiled." But not at her. There she was with a flower crown and her boyfriend's arm around her waist, but she saw the smile Rhaegar gave Elia when he put his arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head, she noticed the love between them, that made her forget the look of hopeless love coming from Robert's eyes – and then the pain.

Neither of the other girls asked anything more, but Lyanna told them how it ended anyway. "It was passion and attraction. Curiosity about the new and the different that brought us close. Not a great love…" It was pain, pain we caused to the people we used to love the most. "And we never cheated, that weekend we ran away to Dragonstone – we didn't even share a kiss, neither had we before. He had broken up with Elia before leaving with me; I hadn't broken up with Robert – it was a spur of the moment thing the leaving, that's why people were scared, I forgot to warn them – I came back and left Robert. Only then did we really start something." I don't think I had ever told the entire truth before, and I just talked to this girl for the first time, but I feel like I can trust her. And I feel bad for what my stupid brother did to her.

Both of them were still silent, waiting to see if Lyanna would say something more, but the girl only took another spoon of ice cream – finishing her story.

"It melted." Lyanna said.

After a while Brienne whispered "I'm glad you trusted us enough to tell us the story."

"No problem, Bree. But just so you know, Catelyn, you're one of us now."

"Sure. And call me Cat."

"Lya. She's Bree."

"Yeah, Bree. And shouldn't we go upstairs? Maybe they are already sleeping." Brienne said.

"It's 1 a.m., too early for them to be asleep. But if you want to go upstairs, Cat, it's your party." Catelyn shook her head and said "Maybe a movie before bed?"

"Sure. What one?"

"The Breakfast Club." Catelyn said looking at both of them, Lyanna quickly agreed and Brienne enquired.

"I have heard about it, a lot. Is it any good?"

"You have never seen it, Bree? You're a disgrace!" Lyanna exclaimed and Catelyn laughed.

"Okay, so it's that one. Go into the living room. I'll meet you in a minute."

Both guests sat on the sofa. After a few moments Cat came back with a bowl of chips, giving it to the girls. She then went looking for the movie. She put it on and rewound it to the beginning.

They all sat in silence watching the movie, until the scene where Claire puts her lipstick between her breasts and then perfectly applies it to her lips, making Lyanna say.

"I tried that once, I ended up with lipstick on my forehead."

"Lysa can do it perfectly."

"Really?!"

"Yeah. It's pretty cool." Lyanna agreed and they both turned their heads to the television again, and by the end of the movie – Lyanna was singing.

Don't You Forget About Me

Don't, Don't, Don't, Don't

Don't You Forget About Me

They finally went to Catelyn's bedroom at 3 a.m. All the other girls were already sleeping; Cersei, Taena and Falyse on the bed, both Ashara and Elia on a mattress on the floor next to each other. Lyanna could smell the alcohol in the air – vodka and wine – she didn't think Catelyn or Brienne noticed as they weren't as familiar with the smell as she was.

So she lay down and fell asleep.


Cersei Lannister

Cersei was woken up the next morning by a punch on the face. She groaned.

"Taena, be careful…"

"It wasn't me. It was Falyse… And don't talk." Taena moaned.

She knew she couldn't fall asleep again, so she stood up and tried to leave the room without kicking or stepping on anyone. She found herself in the bathroom, in front of the mirror. She washed her face and her teeth. After empting her bladder, she went back to the bedroom, but on the way she noticed the boy, Petyr something, leaving the younger Tully girl's room still fixing his pyjama pants and putting on his shirt. Finally some good gossip! (And good blackmail material!) – The other girls hadn't been much use; Taena and Falyse didn't have anything new and Elia and Ashara were too careful to say much (even getting them drunk didn't help, not that Elia drank very much).

While everyone was sleeping, Cersei took the opportunity to look around the room. There were a lot of books (Cersei was not a big fan of reading, at least fiction. Tyrion likes it), photos but only family (that meant she was probably a loner) and Catelyn still had a lot of childhood toys. Next Cersei looked through the shelves - nothing special, normal clothes and no sexy underwear (Cersei already knew Catelyn was a virgin but it seemed she wasn't thinking about having sex anytime soon).

Cersei then heard someone waking up and tried to fix everything she had touched. When she turned, she saw it was the ugly girl waking up – she could never remember her name, she knew it started with a B… Bethany… Bea… something like that… who cares? She was pissed with the girl; she was taking her Jaime from her. Her twin brother used to spend his free afternoons (from the theatre rehearsals and baseball practice) with her, now he hung out with the girl – around Riverrun most times from what he told her. She already had to share him with Tyrion and that was bad enough…

But the girl didn't stand up; she just rolled on the mattress and murmured something Cersei couldn't understand. With everyone sleeping again, Cersei left the room and walked around the house. She found the bathroom door open; inside, in front of the mirror was Catelyn's younger sister. She had a bite on her neck and she was trying to cover it up with make-up.

"That's too much, everyone will know. If I was you, I would choose to wear only a simple scarf." Cersei's voice startled the girl, making her drop her make-up kit in the sink.

"You are Cersei Lannister." The girl said with surprise. Looking at the girl Cersei could see the similarities between the two sisters – the oldest one was the more beautiful without a doubt. The younger sister had a plainer face. She wasn't ugly but she wasn't beautiful either, maybe she could pass for pretty.

"Yes. And you are?"

"Lysa. I didn't know my sister had invited you."

"She did. I saw Petyr leaving your room earlier. Maybe you two should be more careful."

"Yes, of course. Could you not tell anyone?"

"Sure, but if I ever need anything, I would like to know that you would help me."

"Yes, of course. Just please don't tell anyone. Father would send him away." She smiled at the girl and kept walking around the house. Poor girl… she was in for a lot of heartache… She shouldn't have fallen in love with him, couldn't she see? The way the boy kept his eyes on her sister, keeping track of her every move – he was only using Lysa.

Walking down the stairs, Cersei found herself on their living room; there were so many photos of Catelyn and Lysa's mother. Looking at them made her miss her own mother. Cersei's father wasn't big on keeping photos around the house – even if she knew he kept their wedding photo on his bedside table. Cersei had one of her mother, Jaime and herself on her own bedside table – obviously she didn't have one of Tyrion.

The woman in these photos was beautiful, truly beautiful – couldn't be compared to Cersei's mother, of course, but Cersei's mother was a lioness – but how strange, it seemed to be the younger daughter who had her face.

She heard steps on the upper floor and decided to go back up. She got her clothes from the room and decided to go to the bathroom change, clean her face, put on her make-up and fix her hair. When she got back to the room, people were waking up. Both Taena and Falyse were bitching about their hangovers but Ashara who had drunk more than them – as much as Cersei – was fine.

Lyanna was opening her eyes while Ashara was trying to wake up Elia.

"Just five more minutes, Rhaegs. I promise I'll make it up to you." Elia may have whispered that but everyone had heard it. It was like everything stopped, and everyone eyes – except Catelyn and Brienne's who were still sleeping – looked from Lyanna to a sleeping Elia. Ashara had a knowing smirk and the two hung-over girls only looked astonished. Lyanna stood up, picked up her clothes and left to go to the bathroom.

Ashara let Elia sleep a little longer, but a few moments later the host and Brienne woke up too. Because they didn't know what happened, they weren't as shocked when Lyanna entered the room in black shorts and a black T shirt which had the words Fire and Blood written on it in red above a picture of a three-headed dragon. Lyanna was making it clear who he belonged to now.

Everyone else scattered so they could change their clothes and clean themselves, so Cersei was the only one who witnessed the looks between Lyanna and Elia. When Elia woke up, her face fell. She had been probably dreaming of him and waking up to see Lyanna in that T shirt brought her back to reality, but neither said anything (much to Cersei's annoyance).

After everyone came back dressed, they all went to the kitchen, Catelyn started making breakfast – pancakes and toast – and soon her siblings and the other boy joined them. Her little brother sat next to Elia – offering to serve her juice or milk while talking to Lyanna about some videogame (probably where they had run off to last night). Her sister kept her eyes on the table trying to avoid Cersei's gaze but Petyr kept staring right at Cersei, like he was challenging her.

Catelyn finally finished baking and put the things on the table; the pancakes, the toast, but also cereals, fruit, cookies, cupcakes, yogurts, juice and milk. Cersei decided to try the pancakes and cupcakes – even if usually she didn't eat many sweets but they looked delicious and she would stay just a little longer in the gym. The only ones that didn't try them were Taena and Falyse. Everyone knew about the bulimia problem Falyse had last year - another of the school worst kept secrets. The breakfast was rather quiet; nobody had much to say other than Catelyn's younger brother and Lyanna.

A bit after breakfast, the party (could you really call it a party?) was dying down, and Cersei was ready to leave. Falyse and Taena bummed a ride from her, and out of good manners she asked both Elia and Ashara if they needed a ride – but they declined. They all left the house at the same time, but both Lyanna and Brienne stayed a little longer by the door talking to Catelyn – I think the problem of how to get rid of the redhead has been solved.

So Cersei and the two girls left in her white Porsche – it was Jaime's favourite of their three shared cars. He called it White Brother (it was a stupid name and she couldn't remember how he had come up with it, but his first choice had been Snow White). Cersei's favourite was the crimson Aston Martin, but she still loved driving Jaime's White Brother.


Finally, after a few hours drive, a quick lunch and leaving the girls in King's Landing, she arrived home. She screamed to check if anyone was home, but she got no response. She was alone…

She got to her room, threw her bag to the floor, went to the bathroom to take off her make-up and loosen her hair – her golden curls floating around her – her brother always said she looked more beautiful this way, just like mother. She got back to her room, lay down on the bed and ended up falling asleep.

She woke up with the noise of a knock on the door.

"Cers, are you there?"

"Yeah." She said while she rubbed her eyes, and Jaime walked him.

"Sleeping beauty, dinner is ready."

"What?" Cersei asked, not yet fully awake.

"Father is staying at the office until later. I picked up pizza."

"Did you…"

"Pepperoni, Margherita and Hawaii." Hawaii – pineapple and ham – was always her favourite, she was happy he remembered.

"Thanks."

"No problem. Downstairs, waiting for you." He left the room, so Cersei could change into more comfortable clothes and make her way downstairs.

When she got downstairs, both her brothers were sitting on the couch – Jaime had his feet on the coffee table and had a beer on his hand – the pizza was also spread on the coffee table, next to a glass of wine.

"Hurry up, Cersei. Dinner is freezing. I got you wine." When she was finally sitting next to Jaime, she nodded to the beer in his hand and then at Tyrion.

"Oh… please, Cers. He knows the drill, don't you, kid?"

"Sure. I won't tell dad about Jaime's beer or that you're drinking wine, big sis." Tyrion said with a smirk in his face – he infuriated her so much.

"See. Now, pick up your wine and pass me two slices of Pepperoni." She gave up and did what Jaime said, grabbing the remote from his hand and changing the channel.

"I was watching that." But Cersei ignored him a kept zapping.

The rest of the meal went without any hitch, Jaime had even got up to pick up another beer for him and refill her glass. The silence was broken, when the movie Cersei had finally settled on ended and Jaime turned to his younger brother and said.

"Tyrion, bed"

"I'm not tired! And if you two get to drink, why shouldn't I get to stay up late?" I knew trusting him was a stupid choice. But Jaime kneeled until he was eye-to-eye with Tyrion and said.

"Because tomorrow is Monday, and I'm the one who has to wake you up in the morning and get you out of the door and you are already cranky enough in the mornings" Tyrion stomped his foot and pouted. "And if you look at the clock, it's already past your bedtime. So, bed little munchkin." Tyrion knew he couldn't get around his older brother and walked to his room.

Cersei and Jaime cleaned the living room, putting the trash out – so their father wouldn't find out about the two bottles of beer or how Cersei finished the wine – and putting the plates and cups in the dishwasher.

"Go on. I'll meet you in your room. I'm just gonna check on Tyrion first."

Cersei turned off the television and walked up the stairs to her room. She was sitting on her bed, Indian style when he knocked; he entered after she gave permission and sat in front of her.

"So now tell me about the party? Any girl on girl action?" He said with a smirk in his face and she kicked him.

"Shut up, or I will never tell you anything again, virgin boy."

"Oh, shut up you too. Why do you keep throwing that in my face?"

"'Cause I don't believe you're still virgin. Do you not see how the girls look at you? And Melara follows you like she's a bitch in heat."

"Cersei! We are not having this conversation again. And it's not like I haven't done anything, I guarantee you I have had my fun."

"Okay. No details, asshole."

"Now tell me what happened?"

"Not much, no one exploded like I expected."

"But what did you find out?"

"Oh… Petyr…"

"Who?!"

"He goes by the name of Littlefinger."

"I don't know who would want that nickname. Continue."

"As I was saying he's fucking Lysa…"

"Who?!"

"Catelyn Tully's younger sister."

"Alright."

"He lives with them. And he totally wants Cat and he was her first kiss. Oh… And your friend? The girl from the football team."

"Brienne."

"Yeah… her. She's never been kissed. I'm sure you could pop that cherry." She said laughing at Jaime.

"Shut up."

"No!" She said, sticking her tongue to him.

"I hate you."

"No, you don't. I'm your Queen." She yelled, now standing on the bed, Jaime picked her up by her feet and threw her over his shoulder. "Put me down." She said punching his back. "Jaime, put me down." He was already halfway down the stairs. "Please, Jaime, just put me down."

"No." He left the house by the back door and stopped in front of the pool. Cersei could guess what he was going to do.

"No. Don't you dare!" But he just ignored her and threw her in the pool. "I hate you!" She yelled again, but Jaime only smirked, took of his shirt and jumped in the pool after her.

"Nah… You love me." He said before dunking her.

Cersei opened her eyes under the water. Before she pulled him under the water with her, she thought, I do love him, but I'm gonna kill that piece of shit! I don't care if he's my best friend and my brother!

Chapter Text

Ashara Dayne

Ashara woke up with someone banging on the door.

"WAKE UP! Or we're gonna be late." She heard Elia's voice through the door and groaned. After a few minutes and another knock, she got out of the bed, picked up her clothes and went to the bathroom.

After a quick shower, she got dressed and walked into the kitchen – Elia had left a yogurt and a few pieces of toast on the counter.

"Elia, where are you?"

"In your room, making your bed."

"Thanks, you're an angel." Elia came out of her roommate's room, holding Ashara's bag.

"Here's your bag, now let's go." Elia said, pushing Ashara out of the house.

"I don't even get a 'Good morning' from you."

"Good morning, Ash. Now, tell me where did you go last night?" Elia asked, and Ashara knew her best friend was disappointed with her. Sometimes she wanted to scream you're not my mother, but she didn't – she never did…

"I got a text."

"Who from? I got worried."

"It was just a boy." Boy – that's what she called him. How could I tell her that I don't even remember his name because of the shit load of pills I took yesterday?

"Where were you?"

"Elia" They finally arrived at the bus stop; she took Elia's hands in hers and looked her in the eye. "You don't need to worry about me… I promise…"

"But I still do…" Elia said. I know she does. They boarded the bus, sitting next to each other, when Elia said. "Try to sleep. We'll get you a cup of coffee when we get to school."

She woke up with Elia, shaking her awake. "Ash, we are here. Wake up."

Ashara couldn't help but stretch; they stood up, left the bus and started walking to school. They stopped at a small coffee house so Ashara could ask for a coffee; she took it with two aspirins (ignoring the looks Elia was giving her).

When she walked into school, she could feel Brandon watching her. She had been ignoring him since he broke up with Catelyn – she was not going to be with him while he was still mourning loosing his girlfriend (that first pity fuck after the break up didn't count…)

"So you're still not talking to him?"

"No. I've told you I'm not rebound material." They walked to their lockers and she asked. "Is he still looking?"

"Yeah."

So Ashara turned and flipped him the middle finger.

"Ash, don't do that. Someone could have seen it."

"That's the point, Els, so people know not to mess with me."

Elia shook her head, but she had to smile at Ashara. "Let's go on to the classroom."

They walked into the Biology class; the teacher, Qyburn, was already inside talking to the other students. Elia wanted to sit up front but Ashara convinced her to sit in the back.

The class was pretty boring, but the teacher was pretty cool. He had a habit of having a lot of practical classes, where people were really able to dissected animals. Elia hated it, she had ended up throwing up that time they saw a cow's heart.

While the teacher told them to work from their textbooks, Ashara took the chance to talk with Elia, but her friend wanted to finish her work first, so while Ashara talked, Elia kept working. When she finished, she asked.

"So do you wanna do something this afternoon?"

"Mr. Barristan is helping me with Portuguese."

"You're taking an extra-class?"

"Yes. I'm very clever." Ashara said, with a cheeky smile.

"Miss Martell, Miss Dayne, pay attention. I'm sure you haven't finished your work."

"Sorry, teacher. But I've already finished my work." Elia always did that, and Ashara couldn't believe the teachers hadn't learned yet.

"Very well, Miss Martell." He said while he walked to their table, so he could see what Elia had done, but before he picked up Elia's notebook, he turned to Ashara and said. "Miss Dayne, I'm sure you haven't finished your work." This always happens too…

It turned out that Elia hadn't missed a question, and then the teacher had the marvellous idea to take Elia's notebook, so Ashara wouldn't think about copying. And she ended up having to go to the board and do two of the exercises, up there, in front of everybody (and she couldn't get even one right).

After that, she tried to behave for the rest of the class and the ones that followed (it didn't turn out like she hoped… she always did something wrong…)

At lunch, Elia tried to convince her to go eat somewhere else, as they had done earlier in the week, but Cersei had insisted they eat with her and her minions today. Cersei was a bitch, but she always tried to be nice toAshara as they were both considered to be the most popular girls in school. Cersei thrived on it and was waiting to be number one, whileAshara didn't give a shit about it. She was so popular because she was beautiful and the sister of Arthur Dayne – Arthur had been the golden boy of the school and everybody still remembered him; his medals were still on display in the hall, teachers asked how he was doing and expected her to have the same straight A's he had… she could never do it…

After lunch, she left Elia at the bus stop and started walking back to the school to meet professor Barristan when her second favourite Stark sibling stopped her – he was a sweet boy, a better guy than Brandon – honest, intelligent and caring. Sometimes she regretted choosing the wrong one…

"Ashara!" He called out to her.

"Hi, Ned!"

"Sorry to bother you. But…" She interrupted him and said.

"Did Brandon put you up to this?"

"Ashara…"

"No. I've nothing against you. But tell your fucking brother to fuck off!"

"He just wants to speak with you." I think speaking has little to do with it.

"Tell him to fuck off and that I'll talk to him when I want." She said before leaving. She couldn't believe Brandon had asked his younger brother to do his dirty work. He remembered when Brandon came to talk to her in his brother's name – but she knew Ned hadn't asked his brother to do it.

She walked to the classroom where they had agreed to meet. He was resting against the doorframe. He was young, still in his twenties – he had told her that this was his first job teaching. If she was honest, he looked sexy in his shirt and vest, with his short hair and blue eyes; she couldn't help herself fixing her hair, putting it behind her ears and also adjusting her blouse – but he still didn't look at her cleavage, he never did…

"Sorry for the delay, Mr. Barristan."

"Good afternoon, Miss Dayne. No problem, I haven't been waiting for long."

"Hi, I'm glad. And call me Ashara – I'm sure I've told you before, at least in here." He smiled at her and while he let her pass, he said.

"Miss Dayne…" She ignored the name he used and entered the room; she pushed up a chair so she could sit by the teacher's table.

He pulled out his books and asked her what she had the most difficulty with in Portuguese, she answered "the verb tenses" – that language had so many and there were almost no rules to follow like in English.

He tried to explain to her but it wasn't working. He went through the present tense, but she was distracted because every time their hands touched, he blushed and pulled away immediately.

A little over an hour later, Ashara exclaimed.

"I can't do it anymore. I give up." He laughed and said.

"Maybe this is enough for today."

"Yes! No more verbs!"

"Okay." He smiled and asked. "Porquê que está a fazer esta disciplina?"

She couldn't understand, so she pouted at him until he would translate.

"I asked why you decided to take this class?"

"I want to go to Brazil… someday. Besides that, it looks good on an application. And usually I'm good with languages." She said with a smile.

"Where do you want to go for college?"

"I don't know, yet. Maybe I'll just follow Elia – but she's smart and she could get anywhere she wants… I can't…"

"You should go where you want."

"I don't know what I want. Did you?" She asked, while she was getting comfortable – she took off her shoes and put her feet under her butt.

"Yes."

"Did you always want to be a teacher?"

"Pretty much since I was 9. Before I wanted to be a knight, until someone told me they didn't exist anymore."

She couldn't help but laugh as she tried to picture her English and Portuguese teacher as a kid running around with a wooden sword.

"I think you would be a great knight." He smiled, but he quickly changed the subject back to Portuguese.

"What phrases do you want to learn for your trip to Brazil?" The only thing one her head was Do you have a condom? but she knew she could hardly ask him that. So she went with.

"How much does that cost?"

"Quanto é que custa?" He translated and by the sixth time she said it right – and made sure she wouldn't forget how to say it.

"Thank you. I'm sorry."

"Obrigada – because you're a girl – obrigado – if you were a guy. And desculpa." She repeated it and these ones were easier.

He kept teaching her new words and phrases – things that he didn't teach in his classes. In another hour and an half, he taught her a lot more. He shared a chocolate bar with her and by the end of it she knew how to properly thank him in Portuguese.

She walked him to his car, but when she was ready to leave him, he offered her a ride – so there she was sharing a ride with her young, hot and interesting teacher.

Ashara was lying down on the couch, only in a shirt and underwear, when the phone rang, she picked it up, recognizing the number as Arthur's.

"Hello, it's Arthur."

"Hi. How are you doing?"

"Well, really well. How is it going with you?"

"Not bad." She wasn't really happy, right now, but she wasn't sad either.

"Are you sure? You know you can tell me anything." She wished she could, like she used to do, but now… How could she tell her perfect brother about her failing grades, about the guys she couldn't remember and the two lines of coke she just did from a guy's abs… she just couldn't… he wouldn't understand.

"I'm sure. So what are you doing?"

"Getting ready to go out. You?"

"Relaxing on the couch." She said, feeling a couple fingers massaging her scalp.

"Alone?" He asked with his knowing voice.

"It's just Elia and me."

"Okay… I have to go, the guys just arrived. I'll call you soon."

"Goodbye." As he hung up, she couldn't help but miss the sound of his voice and feel bad for lying.

"Hey! So now I'm Elia?" The man lying beside her said with a smirk on his face and a cigarette in his hand. She took it from his hand, climbing on him, taking a puff.

"Nah… She way cooler and beautiful."

"But I bet she doesn't know how to use her tongue the way I do."

"How would you know?!" She said with a smirk that matched his, pulling him closer – she could feel his desire for her pulse through the thin fabric of his boxers.

He whispered in her ear. "I missed you."

I missed you too, she wanted to say but she only kissed her wild wolf.


Brienne of Tarth

It had been a little bit over a week since the sleepover at Catelyn's house, and the girl had come to spend more time with them as the days went by. Brienne liked her, while their likes and dislikes weren't alike, their personalities weren't that different. She was shy like Brienne, very smart and even if she usually wore dresses and acted more like a girl than Lyanna and Brienne did, Catelyn didn't like to have those long talks about make-up, hair and skirts – and Brienne was grateful for it.

Brienne, Lyanna and Catelyn were lunching in one of the tables, and today it was just the three of them. Rhaegar had to go home earlier because he needed to baby-sit his younger siblings, Jaime was eating with his sister, Brandon had stopped lunching with them since Cat joined in and if their male friends were missing the other boys didn't join either.

She was brought back to the conversation when Lyanna threw a French fry at her face, making Brienne exclaim.

"Hey! Lya! What's your problem?"

"I've been asking you the same thing for five minutes!" Brienne threw Lyanna a look and then looked at Catelyn, who whispered.

"More like fifty seconds, but you know how Lyanna gets when people are not listening to her."

"Hey, Cat! You know I'm right here?!"

"Sure." She said, sticking her tongue out at Lya.

"I hate how you two gang up on me. This is so unfair." Lyanna said pouting, and Brienne was sure that her favourite thing about having Catelyn in the group was that they get to mock Lyanna. But she still decided to change the subject.

"So what were you asking?"

"Do you wanna do something later? We can go down to the Blackwater Bay or something. Cat can't she has to baby-sit too."

"I'm sorry, I can't."

"Sorry, but you don't have any brothers or sisters." I do, they just died unlike yours. And just a few seconds after, Lyanna said. "I'm sorry… I shouldn't have…" No , you shouldn't… "You know… I sometimes just say what comes out of my mouth… I'm sorry…" Catelyn looked confused by their conversation and she remembered Cat may know about her mother's death, but she didn't know about her brother and sisters.

"It's okay, I know you didn't meant it. But I have plans with Jaime, but you can join if you want, I'm sure he's okay with it."

"No, thanks. I'm just gonna go and bother my brothers, but thanks for the offer."

"No problem."

"So what are you two doing?" Cat asked while she took another one of her fries. She always did that; it started two days after she joined their table, and they had asked her why she kept ordering salad if she wanted fries, but she only shrugged her shoulders and said I have yours.

"He wants to teach me how to play baseball, properly. So he's taking me to the baseball cages in Riverrun." Brienne had been really surprised when she found out how much she liked hanging out with the Lannister boy – after you got over his jackass attitude, he could be quite fun.

"That seems cool." Catelyn said, and both Lyanna and Brienne laughed since they both knew that would probably be the most boring hang out plan for her. "Why are you two laughing?"

"Really – it seems cool?!" Lyanna said still laughing.

"I didn't mean for me. But Brienne, and even you, like it, I was just trying to be nice." Brienne was pretty sure that Lyanna was still laughing as payback for earlier. When Catelyn got that Lya was messing with her, she joined in with their laughter; Brienne stopped when she felt someone dropping his arm over her shoulder.

"It's just me, Brienne. Are you ready? I've got the keys." Jaime said dropping them on the table, she didn't like when he acted like this in front of everyone, she couldn't help thinking that he was mocking her and she was just some kind of bet – he wouldn't be the first one to try it. He promised he didn't… And I really hope so…

"Yeah." She stood, put her bag over her shoulder, took three more fries and said. "The rest it's yours, Cat. Bye, girls."

She followed Jaime to his car. She still couldn't believe his father let him drive a Porsche at sixteen – and not only that, there were another two cars he shared with his sister. If Brienne ever dared to ask her father for one of those cars, he would laugh in her face and think she was joking and Brienne was a year older than Jaime. She still shared a car with her father – but he promised her that she would get his old car when she went away for college.

She sat in the passenger seat of his car, throwing her bag in the back, Jaime started driving.

"Are we still on for the baseball cages?"

"Of course. I'm going to teach you how to play correctly."

"I know how to play, Jaime."

"Of course you do. But I'm talking about playing well." Brienne snorted and just ignored Jaime, until they got off the Kingsroad highway and she felt Jaime start to speed up. Brienne started yelling for him to slow down, but that only made him go even faster, over the speed limit.

"Brienne, hold on!"

"Jaime, stop! What are you doing?! Are you crazy?!"

"Nah. This is gonna be fun."

"No, it won't. We could get caught! We could die!"

"Live a little!" And he kept racing down the road, ignoring Brienne's pleas to stop.

He eventually brought the Porsche to a screaming, gravel spraying stop at Brotherhood's baseball cages. Brienne couldn't get out of the car fast enough, running away from him.

"Hey! Hold on! Don't be mad." But she kept going, ignoring Jaime's yells.

The cages were owned by the Brotherhood, they owned all sort of things around Riverrun, the most lucrative was a small Irish Pub where the band Brotherhood Without Banners played. This band had been going for years, but the singers and musicians changed constantly – now the main singer was a kid still in middle school called Beric, and a guy from their school, Thoros, also played in the band. The band was always made up ofchildren, teenagers and young adults. Some of the members of this band had even gone on to make it big in the music world.

When Jaime caught up with Brienne, he apologized and promised he would never do it again.

"Promise?"

"I promise. I will only do it when I'm alone in the car."

"Jaime!" He just keeps acting like a kid, Brienne felt like she was babysitting him.

"You can't boss me around. I have Cersei for that." He said, dropping money on the table – enough to pay for both of them – and when she was about to protest he just threw her the bat and helmet.

Each one of them walked into their own cage. They started batting but after two rounds, Jaime walked into Brienne's.

"What are you doing?" Brienne asked.

"I was watching what you were doing and like I said, you can't hit properly. I think even Cersei does it better than you and she's afraid to break a nail!" Brienne just snorted again. "Don't! Now bend your knees, and hit higher." She tried, but Jaime was still not happy. "Okay, I know you're strong, but you're not trying to kill people, you're trying to hit a home run." She kept trying, and after a while they were screaming at each other in sheer frustration. "You're just so… Ahhh!" Brienne grumbled.

"You're not easy either." He shut her up by coming closer, fitting behind her, holding her arm, so they could throw together. She could feel his hot breath on her neck and although she couldn't help but be distracted when the ball came, this time with his help, she was able to hit what he called good, but not at my level, of course.

That was the last one, but before going back to the car, Brienne bought them a hot dog each, and Brienne couldn't help but make a huge stain on her t-shirt – ketchup and mustard.

"That's what happens when you eat like a pig." She blushed at his comment and answered back.

"Just shut up, Jaime."

While still eating their hot dogs, they walk back to the car.

"Don't get anything on my car. Do you hear me?"

"Yes." She answered, while he took the road to Evenfall. "You could just drop me at the bus stop. It's out of the way to your house."

"It's not a problem; you know I like driving. Besides, I need to ask you something."

"Okay."

"So, I have a play on the week before Christmas. It's nothing big, we are doing Sweeney Todd. Normally only Cersei comes; if I can convince her she may bring Tyrion, but I wanted to know if you want to come?"

"Sure. What's your part?"

"Not the lead. Judge Turpin. Do you know the story?"

"No."

"So, you'll definitely have fun." Seeing the look on his face, Brienne was scared. "And don't look it up or ask people about it."

"I promise I won't."

"Thank you." They kept talking, mainly about school and it didn't take long for them to reach her house. She took her bag from the back, said goodbye to Jaime and walked up to her house – it was small compared to the houses that belonged to other people from school, but of course she wasn't as rich as them.

She said hello to her dad and walked up the stairs to take a quick shower and change her clothes. When she walked back down her father was in the kitchen, making dinner. She set the table and then helped him prepare the salad.

They both sat at the table and told each other about their days – they did that every night at dinner. They had always been close, even before her siblings and mother's deaths, and she knew she could trust her father, she never had to hide anything from him; he just understood her…


Catelyn Tully

It was just another Wednesday and the sun was high in the sky. Brienne, Cat and Lyanna had decided to have lunch outside; Bree was resting against a tree, Lya against her, while Cat sat in front of them. Both Catelyn and Brienne had brought lunch from home (leftovers from yesterday's dinner) while Lya had bought an hot dog from the cafeteria, so Cat took advantage of it and ate some of Lyanna's fries - after a few days lunching and being with them at breaks, she had found that she could trust them, and besides that they were quite fun…

"Rhaegar is taking me to Dragonstone this afternoon. Just us in that giant house." Wasn't she mad at him?

"Weren't you mad at him?" Brienne asked what she had been thinking.

"Oh… Yes… I was mad because he won't tell me something, but now he'll have to."

"Can you really make him tell the truth?"

"Yes." Lyanna answered, and Catelyn wondered how she could be so sure, she had been sure about Brandon, but it turned out he was a lying asshole.

"So what you, girls, doing this afternoon? Please tell me it's not babysitting again, Cat. You need to have fun." Lyanna asked.

"Brienne has American Football's practice." Catelyn answered for Brienne.

"And you, Catelyn Tully?" And Lyanna kept pressuring Cat for answers.

"I'm not babysitting. I'm hanging out with your brother."

"You're back with Brandon?!" Brienne exclaimed.

"No way. I'm never going back to that pig. Sorry, Lya."

"Ned?!" Lyanna asked surprised.

"Yeah. We have a paper to do together."

"So you're working?!"

"Yes, but Ned and I have fun. I like working with him." Lyanna seemed to laugh at the notion of funny Ned – she knew he wasn't funny ha ha like Brandon, but he could be clever funny when he wanted to.

"What's the deadline for the paper?" Why is she asking that? That doesn't make sense.

"End of November." Lyanna laughed while Cat made a face that said why are you laughing?

"You and Ned must be perfect for each other. What kind of people start a paper more than a month early?" She had a point, probably no one in the class had started it, but Catelyn liked to start things early so she could spend plenty of time on it and Ned agreed with her – she really liked working with him. When Lyanna was about to say something else, Brienne elbowed Lya's ribs.

"Thank you, Bree. We just like starting it earlier. So just shut up, Lya."

"Okay, Catty." Lyanna said smiling. "I need to ask you something."

"Maybe you shouldn't have mocked me." Catelyn answered.

"It can go for either of you. I need one of you to cover for me; I may want to spend the night with Rhaegar. Just need to tell my dad I will sleep in one of yours, probably he won't call to check in but just to be sure." Both Catelyn and Brienne shared a look and neither of them said anything. "I would do the same for you." You're saying that, because we're both single and you don't need to. Cat looked at Brienne again and said.

"I can do it. My father is always late so he won't find out."

"Thank you. You're the best." Lyanna said throwing herself on Cat's arms and kissing her cheek. "Now, I've got to run." She stood up, said goodbye and ran to climb in Rhaegar's jeep.

After that both Brienne and Catelyn finished their lunch and followed their own path; Catelyn made her way back to the school to go look for Ned, but Varys caught her before entering the school.

"Catelyn, I need to talk with you."

"Hi, Varys." Varys was the student in charge of the school paper, which Cat was part of…

"How have you been?" ….he was also the biggest gossip in school. He used information as leverage to climb on the social ladder and manipulate other people to do what he wanted them to. So everyone knew they needed to be careful around him, but thanks to his nice personality people tended to forget.

"Good. You?"

"At my best, sweetie." He flashed her his best smile and continued. "I've been looking for you." She nodded, so he could ask what he needed. "I need you to cover the basketball game this weekend."

"Varys, I don't really know much about basket."

"I know, but I don't have anyone else. I usually have two students to cover sports, but one of them is sick and I need the other for football and baseball. Really you don't need to do much, just the scores and anything that you find important." What if I can't distinguish the important from the not important?

"Okay, I'll try my best."

"I promise next week you can choose whatever you want to work."

"Sure."

"Thank you so much, sweetheart." He kissed her cheek and left.

When Catelyn turned around, she saw Ned leaning against the school gates and made her way over to him,

"Hi! Sorry, Varys needed something…"

"Hey! No problem. But it seemed that you're not very happy with what he asked."

She couldn't believe he could read her this easily – she liked that… But she knew that reading Ned was much harder…"Varys wants me to cover the basketball game, which I know nothing about."

"Oh… If you want I can help you."

"Really?! Are you going to be at the game?"

"I'm on the team."

"Oh… I'm sorry." She looked to the ground, embarrassed. "I didn't know…"

"You don't need to apologize, I'm pretty sure, most people don't know. My brother is the star of the game." He's just a boy living in his brother's shadow… and his best friend's… But he didn't seem to mind. "So I can help you; what do you need to do?"

"The scores – I can do that. And he wants me to point out if anything out of the ordinary happens – that I'm not so sure I can do."

"Okay. I'll tell you if anything happens that I think you should write about."

"Thank you." She smiled and said, turning back towards the school. "Maybe we should get going."

"I asked Brandon for the car, I know you prefer the Citadel."

"Really?!" The Citadel was the best library in the state; it was a little over one hour drive from King's Landing (in the complete opposite direction to both of their houses). Most students wouldn't take the trouble – the school library had more than enough resource for the paper. But Catelyn loved the smell of old books, to see people walking around – professors and students from the next door college. Catelyn couldn't believe Ned remembered

"Don't you want to?"

"Yes, of course. Thank you so much, Ned." Cat followed him to his car, and sat in the passenger seat. She remembered how any times she sat in this same place with Brandon driving, but she felt safer now. Ned never drove too fast; he followed the speed limit relentless – unlike his brother. He kept the radio low so they could still talk over it – and on a news channel, not some pop/rock channel – Cat couldn't choose which channel she liked more…

Even with Ned taking the highway, Catelyn kept pointing out the places they passed, sharing the history of the place – if she knew it, which most times she did – and stories of her own. Ned would sometimes chime in with some of his own.

"Did you really go hunting? Did you catch anything?" She thought the act itself a barbaric thing; she understood sometimes it had to be done for food, but for sport she thought was an awful thing. But she still wanted to hear Ned's story. His face lit up when he talked about his family and best friend.

"Yes. We were spending the weekend at Storm's End in Robert's house, and his father invited Brandon, father and me to go hunting with them. Both Benjen and Lyanna insisted they wanted to go too; father gave up on Lya but not on Benjen, so dad stayed back with him, Robert's mother and his younger siblings." He stopped by the gas station and while Catelyn waited for him to fill the car and pay for gas, she imagined them in the middle of the forest; and right after he started driving, he returned to the story, but before he asked. "Did Brandon never tell you this story?" She liked that Ned didn't shy away from using her ex-boyfriend's name like most people did; but he shook his head, and wondered how many things did Brandon never bother to tell her?

"I wouldn't think so; it's not really a flattering story for him."

"Those are my favourites."

"So, on with the story… The first few hours were okay, Robert's father was able to catch two small ducks and Robert caught a rabbit. But Brandon, who also brought a gun hadn't been able to catch anything – you know, how impatient he gets."

"And you? Didn't you have a gun?"

"No. I didn't really want to shoot an animal, which made Brandon mock me. But Lyanna, being Lya, demanded a gun. Robert not being able to resist her charms gave her the shotgun. Robert's dad was already a few feet away from us, when both Lya and Brandon saw a stag, they reached for the shotguns and Lyanna shot first. She didn't get the stag, but the gun kicked back, and the stag ran away. Brandon, in the middle of everything gave the mostgirlish scream ever and ran all the way to the house – Robert wouldn't stop taking the piss out of him for the rest of the month, and sometimes he still mentions it."

Catelyn was laughing so hard now, she was pretty sure if it was her she would have screamed too and if it wasn't Brandon, she wouldn't be laughing this hard, but this was cocky, sure of himself Brandon.

"Thank you for telling me that story."

"No problem." Ned said and Cat couldn't help but ask for more stories.

And without noticing the time (and the traffic), they arrived at their destination. Ned got out of the car and opened the door for Catelyn. They entered the library and quickly found a table in the chemistry section. The library was pretty empty which, considering it was Wednesday and still early in the afternoon, was normal.

Quickly they both got to work, while Ned collected and started studying the books, Cat worked on the introduction to the theme. This was why she liked working with him, he actually worked, she never felt she was doing all the work like most people expected her to do – she suspected Ned liked that too, being partner with Robert, she was pretty sure Ned did most of the work most times. Secondly, they clicked, they knew how to work around each other, they didn't need words… looks and touches were enough for them to tell what would or not work. So since they had been randomly put together in health class, they had decided to work together in all the classes they could (which meant the classes Robert wasn't in) and it had paid off; all of their joint papers had got an A or A+.

For the next three hours they kept working; each of them taking notes and writing a text on one of the five issues they had to talk about, only pausing to go to the bathroom, then trading what they had so the other could read and make the little changes he or she thought it was necessary. By the end, they had an introduction and two of the points done; only taking home the work of writing it on the computer and the promise to meet another day.

Ned offered to pay for a coffee, but after they made their way to the Starbucks and ordered their drinks, Cat insisted on paying her half. While they sat, sipping their drinks, they kept talking and Cat noticed how his feet kept touching hers under their small table, making him blush (at least as much as Ned could blush). She couldn't help but really see him – even he wasn't as handsome as his older brother, with his plainer face, she had never thought him ugly but now she saw something else; his grey eyes lit upwhen he talked of things he cared about (she felt butterflies in her stomach knowing that sometimes his eyes lit up when he talked about her) and his smiles – fewer and smaller than his brother's – were only shown when he really meant it.

Ned led her back to his car, and started the drive back North, promising to take her home. Catelyn fell asleep against his window, only waking up when they were reaching her street. Ned stopped at the door, and when Cat was ready to get out, Ned reached for her hand – she could feel a spark between them before he quickly let go of her hand and said.

"I know it was a school paper and everything, but I really had fun this afternoon." She smiled at what he said and how his voice croaked when he said it.

"Me too, Ned. And remember we still have three issues and the conclusion to write." She said before walking to the door of her house, knowing that Ned was still making sure she got in safely (Brandon always sped away the moment she left the car).

That night she dreamed of the calm wolf who filled her stomach with butterflies the way the wild wolf never could…

Chapter Text

Rhaegar Targaryen

Everything was back to normal at home. His father hadn't had anymore attacks and his mother was finally able to leave the house without worrying about leaving his father alone.

Rhaegar was still trying to convince his mother to hire some help for around the house, but she didn't budge. She said that more people would scare dad.

So Rhaegar had been baby-sitting his siblings for a few days while his mom left to go to the supermarket or do some of her volunteering work (in other words, keep the press happy and keep them away from father). But today, his mother was able to come home earlier and he could finally spend some time with Lyanna.

He was taking her to his family's summer house, a huge mansion in Dragonstone and he would finally be able to tell her the truth about what was going on with his family. He couldn't hide it anymore; especially after he told Elia (Lya would kill him if she knew he told someone else first – especially if she knew he'd told Elia).

So after having lunch at home, he said goodbye to his parents, who thought he was going to Dragonstone to have peace and quiet so he could study better (knowing Lya, he wasn't going to have one minute of silence). Hetold his mother to call the house if she needed anything and he kissed little Daenerys' forehead. Finally leaving the house and driving back to school, right after parking the car, he saw her – she was talking with Brienne and Catelyn. When she saw him, she smiled at him – Rhaegar felt relieved, he didn't know how long had been since she smiled at him like that. After finishing saying something to the girls, she stood up and ran to him.

"Hi!" She said, standing on the tip of her toes, reaching out so she could kiss him.

He picked her up like he always did and deepened the kiss before putting her back on the ground. "Hi!" Rhaegar said, smiling at her, while he went around the car and opened the door for her.

"Thank you." Lya said happily. She hadn't looked that happy in a long time, so he tried to enjoy it. He drove down to Dragonstone, while Lyanna kept playing with the radio. When they finally arrived, he parked the car at the front, and Lyanna immediately ran off to the house – she loved running, it was where she felt at her best – she waited for him at the door.

He unlocked it for her and took her hand, leading her inside. He kicked the door shut behind them and pushed her against the wall, kissing her urgently, but she stopped him before he went too far.

"Please stop… You promised we could talk first."

"Okay." He sighed, taking her hand again. "Follow me." He led her to the porch and they sat next to each other.

"I'm here."

"You need to promise me not to tell anyone… ever."

"I do, Rhaegar. You can trust me."

"It's about my family. My dad has been having some problems… firstly, we thought it was nothing, but now it's getting worse…" He looked down, trying to forgethis father's screams Burn them all… Burn them all…

She reached for his other hand and asked. "Was that why you had to run last time?"

"He burned the kitchen, Lya… Daenerys was there, she could…" Rhaegar didn't try to hide the tears, and Lyanna pulled him closer to her. "I don't know what to do…" He whispered into her hair.

"You love him, you help him, you're there…" She told him.

"My mom doesn't let me call anyone."

"Maybe she knows what's best for him… she knows him the best." He couldn't answer her. He knew she might be right, but he didn't want to accept it.

He wrapped his arms around her and kept his face buried in her hair until he fell asleep with her hands playing with his silver hair.

It was already dark when he woke up. His head was resting on a pillow and a blanket covered him. He stood up, folded the blanket and brought it and the pillow inside. He smelled food and made his way to the kitchen. He was surprised to see Lyanna cooking, as far as he knew she didn't like cooking.

"Shit! Shit!" She cursed, before blowing on her finger,trying to soothe the burn. Rhaegar came closer to her quietly, but she turned before he could speak. He took her burned fingers and sucked them, trying to cool them and make her feel better. With her other hand she pushed a sliver lock of hair behind his ear and asked.

"Do you feel better?"

"A little bit. Thank you."

"Have you been sleeping?"

"Not much."

"You need to, Rhaegar."

"I know." He said, kissing the top of her head and said, trying to change the subject. "I didn't know you cooked."

"I don't like it, but I know how to do a few things." She turned back to the pan. "I thought it would be better than going out or ordering food." She did it, because she knew I wouldn't want to go out after… everything.

"Where did you get the food? Usually there's nothing but canned food here."

"I took your car and went to the supermarket. I got dinner and something for breakfast too." That was her way of telling him she was spending the night.

"You know how to drive?!"

She laughed like it was a stupid question, even if she was just fifteen.

"Brandon started teaching us from the moment he got his driving license." She had been twelve or thirteen when she started driving, but who was he to judge? Jon and Arthur started teaching him when he was young too.

"Do you need any help?"

"The hamburgers are almost done, I got chips, but if you prefer rice – I think there's some in the pantry…"

"Chips are good."

"Okay. I bought some lettuce too and there are tomatoes in the garden - you can make a salad."

"Okay." He went to pick some tomatoes from the garden his great-great-great-uncle Aemon had started. Uncle Aemon now lived in a nursing home up North, in the Wall, – in the same village Lyanna liked to visit.

Rhaegar came back to the kitchen and started preparing the salad. When he finished, he helped Lyanna bring everything to the living room.

They sat in the sofa – Rhaegar putted his feet on the coffee table (something he could never do at home) and Lyanna took off her sneakers, putting her feet under her butt – with their dinner in front of them. She turned the television to some random channel. They ate in silence and Rhaegar didn't even comment on the burnt hamburger. After they finished their meal, they washed the plates together (she cleaned, he dried) and Lyanna made her way to the fridge.

"I found some beer in the fridge. Do you want one?"

"No thanks." Rhaegar wasn't a big drinker and besides that, he preferred wine.

She jumped on the couch and opened her beer, leaning back on the arm chair. She threw her feet on his lap when he sat next to her. He changed the TV to some old baseball game – most girls would be bored watching the game, but Lyanna was screaming at the TV, even if it wasn't her team. While they watched he kept playing with her feet. She was so ticklish there, but not as much as on her belly...

So when he knew the game was ending, he drifted his hand higher, under her top, touching every part of her belly. That was enough to get her attention awayfrom the game. Her eyes locked onto his - grey on purple and she whispered.

"Come here..." But instead of kissing her lips, he kissed her bellybutton. He only tried to push up her top, but Lyanna took it off and threw it behind her. He stared at her. She looked beautiful wearing only jeans and a lacy black bra. He couldn't take his eyes from her for a few seconds but the weird look she gave him brought him back to earth. He kissed her bellybutton again, but this time he kept kissing higher. He kissed the valley between her breasts, biting a little like he knew she liked, making her moan, but before Lyanna could grasp his hair and keep him there, he climbed over her so he could kiss her lips. She took his bottom lip between her teeth and he was lost.

"I love you, Lya."

"I love you too."

He kissed her again and asked "Would you like to take this to the bedroom?"

She smiled and giggled, "Finally a good idea."

They both left the couch but not before he kissed her again. She stood up, took off her jeans out and ran up the stairs yelling "Come and catch me!"

He started running after her but then remembered to ask. "Don't you have to warn your father you're not going home?" She turned and shouted back.

"Don't be a mood killer, or you're sleeping on the couch."

It's an important question; I don't want to get her in trouble.

"And I called when you were sleeping. Now hurry up!" She took off running again, and Rhaegar wasn't far behind, discarding his shirt on his way up.


Next morning, Rhaegar woke up on the floor, looking into the bed he saw Lyanna lying spread on the bed with all the covers thrown back. She had probably thrown him on the floor, but even so, that had been one of his best sleeps in some time. He didn't wake up even once during the night.

He got up, took a quick shower and got dressed before he tried to wake up Lya.

"Lya, you need to wake up."

"Urgh... Leave me alone..." She mumbled to the pillow.

"We have classes."

"Urgh... Bring... School bag..." She mumbled again but made no move to get up. Rhaegar decided to let her be and went to get her bag. When he came back upstairs he could already hear the shower running.

He went to the kitchen and started preparing breakfast. She joined him and they both ate in the kitchen counter and soon they were out of the door, making their way to school, Rhaegar let Lyanna sleep a little bit more in the car, waking her up only after he parked.

Everyone looked at them getting out of the car together and most people could guess what happened – they would be the talk of the day – and soon her brothers were annoying her asking for explanations, but not before she mouthed Love you, and he knew he was happier than he had been in a while...


Brandon Stark

This is not my bed… was Brandon's first thought when he woke up. He wasn't really sure where he was, but then he felt an arm lying on his chest and looking down at the sleeping girl beside him,he remembered what happened… He tried to get up quietly so he wouldn't wake her, but he wasn't quiet enough.

"Good morning. Running away?"

"I have things to do. Sorry, I would love to stay but I really can't."

"I can drive you if you need. If you come back to bed, I can show you how to do it again." Right, I told her I was a virgin. Secondly I need to call Ned for a ride.

"Last night was great, you're perfect. But I just slipped; I promised I would keep myself pure until my wedding." That was the lie, right?!

"Oh…"

"Sorry." Brandon had already found his underwear, pants and shoes; he was now looking for his sweatshirt.

"You left in the living room. I can make you breakfast or something." She said trying to get up, but Brandon came closer.

"No need, beautiful. Sleep a little bit more, it's still early. I just need to use your phone, can I?" He asked before kissing her lips one more time, she tried to push him back to the bed, but Brandon held his ground. When she finally let go of him, she answered.

"Sure. Take my number, Brandon, in case you change your mind."

"Thank you."

Brandon left her room, spotted his sweatshirt thrown on the couch and finished getting dressed. He finally went to the phone and dialled his brother's phone number. Please, pick up! I can't call the house number.

"Ned Stark. Who is it?" Does he really answer the phone as a business man?!

"It's your brother; I need you to pick me up."

"Where?"

"Somewhere in the middle of Storm's End, I went out with Robert yesterday."

"You need to be more specific."

"Wait a second." Brandon went outside and checked the address and gave it to Ned.

"Okay, thanks. I'm leaving now; I'll leave Lyanna at the bus stop and call Robert to know if he wants a ride, I'll be there in an hour."

"Thanks. What did you tell dad?"

"You were at Greatjon's."

"Father could call him."

"I talked to Jon, I'm not stupid. See you later."

"Bye… No… wait… Bring me clothes, too."

"Sure, Brandon." And his brother hung up the phone.

Brandon needed something to do to pass the time, and he wasn't going to stay at that apartment one more minute. He needed to get out before the girl got up, he walked out the apartment and looking around he saw a little coffee house already opened, he entered and made his order, sitting in a corner table.

While he ate at the little coffee house and waited for Ned, another girl came to talk to him.

"Hi. Is this seat taken?" The coffee house had many free tables, but his charms didn't keep girls away.

"Yes, it's yours. I'm Brandon by the way…you?

"Mary." She answered drinking a milkshake, while he sipped his coffee and ate a muffin.

"I have never seen you around here before." Brandon, think of a good excuse, you can't say you sneaked out of some girl's apartment.

"Visiting my aunt, she broke a hip..." Stupid, you said aunt not grandmother... "... and I have been helping her around the house."

"Oh… so sweet…" The girl was now touching his arms, tracing little patterns, smiling at him. "So…"

"Number 10…" The woman in the counter screamed.

"Sorry, I've to go. I just came here to pick up some bread." But she took of a pen and wrote something in a napkin, and gave it to him, saying. "Call me." There it was in the piece of paper, her number and name; Mary picked up the bread, smiled at him and walked out.

Nobody else bothered Brandon during his stay at the coffee house and he ended up ordering one more muffin – this time blueberries. He saw Ned's car parking outside and he stood up and said goodbye to the woman working behind the counter.

He got in the car, and Ned started driving to Robert's house, still silent.

"So you're not talking to me." Brandon said. "I only wanted to have fun."

"You could have taken the car."

"Explain the difference to me! We only have one car for both of us, so you would still have to wake up early to take the bus."

"You could have come home."

"If I wanted to come home, I would have taken a fucking cab – I didn't." That will shut up Ned.

Ned kept driving until they reached the Baratheon's house and honked, Robert walked out and asked,

"Can Stannis come too?"

"Of course." Ned answered. "Do you need to bring Renly too?"

"Nahh. My mother can take him. Thanks." Robert went back to the house and yelled "Hurry up, Stannis! We don't have all day!"

Brandon kept looking at his brother, wondering why he didn't comment on Robert not saying Good Morning first – like he did to Brandon earlier, on the phone – how he didn't mind taking some else on the car but complained about taking his own brother.

"Hey, Brandon." Robert called for his attention, and Brandon noticed they were already onthe highway. "How was the girl you left with?" Brandon could see both Stannis and Ned rolling their eyes.

"Oh… God… I can't describe it… And she wasn't a girl, Robert, she was a woman." Robert laughed, patting him on the back with more strength than was needed and muttered "Lucky you."

"Hey, boy!"

Stannis looked quizzically at Brandon asking 'Whome?' pointing to himself.

"Yes, you! I heard you were fucking the red girl, is that true? That girl is hot, and crazy – more crazy than hot probably." Brandon had tried to fuck her last year, before she started burning things; probably she was into kinky stuff in bed, but Brandon didn't want to deal with her craziness – she would probably end up burning him alive. But after Robert laughed at the question, Brandon understood Stannis hadn't touched he girl.

"Her name is Melisandre." Stannis only said that, not answering Brandon's question and ignoring them for the rest of the trip to school.


It was finally lunch time. Brandon made his way to the canteen and wondered which table to sit at. He had been avoiding his table because Cat was now sitting there with Lya and Brienne – he usually didn't avoid ex-girlfriends, unless they were crazy and/or stalking him – but he didn't want to make things weird for Cat; he quite liked her. But today he decided to try his chance at that table. He approached them and asked, turning especially to Cat.

"Can I sit here?" All eyes turned to Cat, and she smiled.

"Of course." His sister answered. He took his usual place at the table and started eating. Catelyn seemed at ease around his sister and Brienne, more than she did in the girl's table. He looked behind to where Ashara was sitting with Cersei, Elia, etc and made a note to talk to her later.

"Does anyone know what they're doing for Halloween?" Jaime asked.

"I though your sister was throwing a party." Brandon said.

"She can't right now. Father is mad about something."

"I heard the Freys were throwing one." Someone else chipped in.

"Party party or boring party?" Brandon couldn't help but ask.

"They are usually good."

"Depends on which Frey, usually. I heard it from the one that plays in the football team – I can't remember his name." Another one of the football players said (nobody could ever remember the name of all the Freys – even if most of them were named Walder).

"If their parties are anything like their father's, they should be great." Cat said; he knew she didn't live far away from the Frey lot. "Their father is a wedding planner, they are always beautiful."

"Really?! Is he gay?" Jaime asked.

"No way, have you seen how many kids he has?!" Lyanna exclaimed. "I think he has been married eight times."

"Four wives, don't exaggerate, Lya." Cat said.

"So, you're saying that should be the party we are going to?" Brandon asked.

"I don't know if I'm going. But you should go I'm sure you would like." Cat didn't say it in a mocking tone and he knew she meant it when she smiled at him.

"Nah. You're coming, Cat, you're totally coming. And you too Brienne. Don't think about running." Lyanna said and Brandon couldn't help but say.

"Who said you could go?"

"I did. You're not my father, Brandon."

"But you'll have to deal with dad."

"I will be with you and Ned. What could happen?" Brandon laughed at the thought of try to convince Ned to come to the party too.

Brandon ignored the rest of the conversation while they discussed costumes. When the bell finally rang to go back to class, they all walked to their next one.


By the end of the day of school, Brandon was tired and just wanted to find Ashara and go somewhere quiet with her – she had somehow becomea close friend, someone he could trust and talk to – he just needed to check if she didn't have any dates tonight.

"Ash!" He called out for her, she turned and smiled.

"Hi, Brandon!"

"Do you have anything to do this afternoon?"

"Nah… Free as a bird."

"Good. Do you wanna go to the movies or something?"

"Movies sound great. But you know that your sister is racing Jaime Lannister this afternoon."

"Really?! Why?"

"A bet."

"I taught her driving and racing – don't tell Ned about the last part. So I hope she beats that Lannister boy and doesn't embarrass the Stark name."

She laughed and kept walking beside him, when she asked. "Are we taking the subway?"

"Yeah. I was leaving Ned the car, but as it seems Lyanna is probably taking it…"

It didn't take long until they were able to catch one and when they were sitting he asked her.

"So how was your date last night?"

"Good." But by her face, he knew she was lying.

"You're lying. Tell me the truth."

"The guy farted." She said, making Brandon laugh. Ashara started shoving him and telling him to stop, but he only laughed more and Ashara couldn't help but start laughing too.


Robert Baratheon

Last night his parents had not let him out of the house and his mother had found the bottle of whisky in his drawer(probably while she had been cleaning his room). So he tried to go to bed earlier but he couldn't fall sleep without having her pop up in his mind or feel her fingertips tracing patterns in his chest – that was why he never tried to fall asleep without drinking. So instead of drinking or sleeping, he tried to loose himself in a videogame, trying to kill them all (and sometimes they looked so much like Rhaegar Targaryen). He ended up falling asleep with the control on his hand and the TV on.

When Robert woke up this morning, he felt different – more pain – and he knew why he hated going to sleep without drinking, because normally the hangover covered the emptiness… but not today…

He turned off the game and threw the control into the corner next to the TV and stood up, making his way to the bathroom. When he got there he could hear Stannis banging on the door and yelling "I was here first. It was my turn."

And Robert shouted back "Fuck you!"

"I'm going to tell mom."

"I don't give a shit, momma's boy."

Robert was sick of this shit. He looked at himself on the mirror and he could barely see himself; he was only a shadow of his former self… The bags under his eyes, the beard that he just didn't take care of anymore, the pain and darkness inhis blue eyes – Why are they fucking blue?! Why does everything make me think of her?! I wanna be free!

He threw water in his face trying to push everything away one more time, but it wasn't enough, so he just punched the wall – he just didn't care that it made his knuckles bleed and hurt – that was better…

He got in the shower and turned on the cold water, freezing his entire body and calming himself… He got out of the shower, put a towel around his waist, looked himself in the mirror and was able to see the little scars made by Lyanna's nails (when he looked they all seemed to be Lyanna's and in his mind they all were… but in truth some of them belonged to the girls he met in bars).

When he left the bathroom, Stannis had his back to him, so Robert beckoned for Renly to run to him, letting him enter the bathroom and after thanking his older brother and giving him a high-five, he closed the door, making Stannis turn.

"What?!" He came closer to the door, knocking on it again. "Renly, it was my turn!"

"You snooze, you lose." Robert heard his brother yell from the other side of the door.

"It's all you fault, Robert." Stannis said turning to his older brother.

"What did I do? I was just trying to be a nice brother." Robert walked away from him laughing but he could still hear his brother whining,

"Mom! Renly and Robert stole the bathroom again."

"Robert, behave. You're the oldest."

"Yes, mom." Robert muttered back.

"Stannis, your father should be almost ready. You can use our bathroom."

Robert closed the door of his room, and finally stopped hearing his brother's grumblings. He took a clean pair of boxers from the drawer, picked up the closest jeans and started looking for a t-shirt. Normally they were on the floor, and he just had to smell them to find one that was still good to use again, but his mother had cleaned his room yesterday, so all his best t-shirts were in the washing machine - his only solution was to go look for something to wear in Stannis' room.

His brother's room was always tidy; he didn't have any posters or photos around the room. Robert made his way to his brother's closet and tried to find something larger that would fit him (while Robert was tall and big from working out, Stannis was shorter and leaner). Robert kept taking the clothes out of the closet and throwing them at the bed. What the fuck?! Why does he only have shirts?

"MOM!"

"Stannis, what did Robert do now?" His mother asked. Robert could hear his mother's steps coming up the stairs. Stannis stood dressed at the door, smirking – as much as he could smirk.

"Robert Baratheon, what are you doing?"

"I'm looking for a t-shirt. You put everything in the washing machine."

"They smelled, Robert. I'm not letting you walk around smelling like a pig. Now go look for something to wear in your father's closet." Robert left his brother's room and heard his mother yell. "Ask your father before you take it."

There were only shirts in his father's closet too. He couldn't find anything.

"Son, please don't make a mess of our closet." He heard his father say.

"Sorry, father. Do you have any t-shirts?"

"Look in the underwear drawer. You may like one of my sleep shirts." He looked around in his drawer and found a Simpson themed t-shirt that would do.

"Thanks, dad." Robert pulledon the t-shirt while he went back to his room, to get his sneakers and walked down the stairs for breakfast - a bowl of cereal (the last of the chocolate ones - he had to fight Renly for them) and a cup of coffee.

"Boys, I'm leaving. If you want a ride, hurry up." The boys put their bowls, plates and coffee cups in the dishwasher, and said goodbye to their mother. Their father did the same, kissing his wife's lips.

"See you at the office, Cass."

"You too."

The three Baratheon men walked to the car to make the drive north to King's Landing. Their dad stopped first at Renly's school and then drove the two boys to their high school. Immediately they said goodbye to their dad, both of them walked off in a different direction. Stannis went to meet Thoros' cousin – the crazy girl in red and the poor boy from Flea's Bottom, while Robert went to talk with Ned who was talking with his brother.

"Good morning, Starks."

"You seem to be in a good mood today." Brandon said and it was true, it seemed messing with Stannis made the day start brighter.

"I am. And our first class today is Jon's." Robert heard Ned grumble Professor Arryn, but choose to ignore it; especially when Brandon's hot ex-girlfriend walked by. Both Starks looked at her with longing, although Robert could tell with different kinds of longing.

Brandon only wanted her because she wasn't his anymore. But Ned had a crush on her for some time now. Even if at first Ned couldn't figure out what he was feeling; every time he got back from working with her, he couldn't shut up about her. Robert couldn't get why he didn't invite her to the Harrenhal dance last year, before Brandon asked Ashara in his brother's name.

"Hey, how are things going with the 'no dating' rule?"

"Rough, you know, man. Barbrey is being a pain in my ass, but at least I got Ashara back – that's always a wild ride." And from what Robert had heard in the showers - a bit of a used ride.

"Happy for you, bro." Robert said, slapping Brandon on the back. "We should head to class."

Robert walked to class with Ned, knowing that today was probably the best day of the week class wise, so the morning didn't take long to pass and soon it was lunch hour. The canteen got full quickly, especially because the lunch was finally something good. So after getting their plates filled, they walked to the back table where Jory and Howard were already seated (both boys came from the north and their families were friendly with the Starks).

Their conversation went from school to girls to sports to Halloween's plans (it seemed the Frey's party was the thing and Robert had finally convinced Ned to come too), but it stopped when Robert's eyes caught her

First he saw her feet; he remembered how she used to draw little faces on her toes and make them dance, does she still do that? Then her legs, smooth and white that always tasted like lemons; and then a dress… a dress?… what is she doing wearing a dress? Does he make her wear dress? She hates dresses, she would always fuss around them and try to get back into her shorts as quickly as she could – he'd seen her in a dress less than half a dozen times. He tried to get up, to confront Rhaegar and to stop him making Lyanna do things she doesn't like, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him.

"Ned! Let me go!" Robert snarled.

"It's not Ned!" He heard Brandon's voice. "It was part of a bet."

He kept looking at Lyanna and his eyes went higher; her blue dress that showed just the right amount of cleavage, her beautiful white skin, her wild dark hair and on the top of her head a crown made of flowers - just like the one from the dance. Is she mocking me? Trying to rub it in my face?

He stood up and Brandon tried to hold him down, but Robert was able to get free. He didn't go straight to Lya or Rhaegar, he only ran outside. He could feel people looking at him, Ned calling out for him, Brandon did too and even Lya – he could hear her voice calling for him until Rhaegar shouted her back. She didn't even have the courage to come after him.

Once he was outside he ran to the back of the school and punched the wall – for the second time that day – making his knuckles even more bloodied. He tried not to break down – he couldn't break down in the middle of the school, so he took deep breaths…

After he calmed himself, he was able to start walking needed to forget her. Being so lost in thought, he collided against someone, a girl… he knew her… but he couldn't remember her name…

"Hi! How are you?" He said automatically.

"Fine. You, Robert?"

"Yeah. Great." He ignored the look she gave him and he decided to go for it, asking. "Do you wanna go somewhere?"

"Do you remember my name?"

He couldn't even guess what it was.

She drew him a dirty look."Everyone saw what happened in there and you still think I'm going to let you fuck me so I can listen to you moan her name again?!" She hissed. With a flick of her hair she turned and walked away. He just stood and watched her go. He couldn't even remember her Goddamn name. Before she got too far she turned back and yelled at him "You need to sort your life out Robert Baratheon before you piss it all away!"

Chapter Text

Arthur Dayne

Arthur hadn't seen his sister since the summer when they had both spent time in Starfall with their mom, but Arthur still insisted in calling her more than once a week. But today he and Jon were driving to King's Landing to visit the city where they spent their high school years and reconnect with old friends.

Jon confided thathe was nervous about meeting Rhaegar again because Jon was gay. He had told Arthur at the beginning of his first college year – Arthur had to admit, it had freaked him out a bit in the beginning and even more when he caught Jon making out with some guy, but Jon was his best friend and so he got over it, had Jon spent time checking me out in the showers or something?! The worst part was that Jon had a crush (probably a little more than a crush) on Rhaegar, I feel a bit cheated that he chose Rhaegar over me. I'm sexier than Rhaegar!

They arrived at the Red Keep Apartments. Rhaegar had told them they could stay in one of the empty ones without paying rent. Arthur and Jon found the key under the pad where Rhaegar said it would be and Arthur dumped his things by the door. He walked up the stairs, to his sister's apartment and knocked on the door. After two minutes, he started yelling.

"Ash! Are you in there?! Elia! Ash!" He knocked and yelled for five minutes, before he gave up and walked down the stairs to the apartment he was sharing with Jon.

Jon was sitting on the couch with his feet on the coffee table, watching some game on the TV. Arthur sat next to him and they both sat silently watching the tennis match – Arthur loved the game, he used to play when he was a kid, when he was still living in Starfall.

"So are Ashara and Elia not home?" Jon asked, saying 'Elia' like he always said – only now did Arthur understand it was jealousy.

"Nahh… But we will see them later at the party. I've got my costume sorted; I'm going as Indiana Jones."

"Again?!"

"Is not like anyone will know I already used it and secondly, girls tell me it it's sexy as fuck. So what are you wearing?"

"I'm not dressing up."

"What?! You're gay! Aren't you suppose to love dressing up?!"

"I apologize if I don't love musicals or dressing up as woman."

"I never talked about dressing as a woman." Arthur said laughing. "I'm just saying that maybe you could make an effort and put on something."

"No."

"It doesn't need to be anything big. What about Jason's mask from Friday 13th?"

"Dayne…"

"It will be fun. I can go get it for you."

"Sure." Jon finally gave up and accepted Arthur's idea.

"Okay. I'll be back in a few."

It was already dark when they made their way to the party, Arthur was dressed as Indiana Jones and who wouldn't look sexy dressed as Harrison Ford? Jon was in jeans and a shirt, but still with the mask – even if he couldn't stop complaining.

They could only get parked well down the street and it looked it would be a full party. When they were both walking to the party, Arthur recognized Jon's old jeep; the one Jon had used to teach Rhaegar and him how to drive as Jon had got his license first.

"Check it out. He's still got your old jeep."

"I bet he has had sex with the new slut in there too."

"Don't call her that. You know nothing about the girl. And Elia was never a slut."

"If you say so."

They kept walking to the house in silence, and Arthur was trying to ignore what his friend said about Elia. She had always been his little sister's best friend – he had spent hours taking care of them, joining them at a tea parties or just playing house and then she started dating his best friend; Elia was like family to him.

"I'm gonna go get a drink." Jon said, making his way to the drinks table.

"Don't take off your mask." Arthur yelled after Jon, who muttered something he couldn't understand.

The house was full; people were dancing and drinking, trying to talk over the music, just happy… He thought he had never been to this particularly Frey House before, it was known that their father (Walder Frey, the wedding planner) bought houses for everyone of his kid's mothers (either ex-wives or not…) so he wouldn't have to pay any more child support – most of the women didn't get how disadvantageous this was to them and their children.

He looked around and saw the costumes hadn't changed much from the last Halloween party he had attended – the only differences were that that there were no girls dressed up as Princess Diana this year (he guessed that wasn't cool any more as she'd died so recently and unexpectedly) and that Men in Black and Matrix were the main references right now.

"What's your favourite scary movie?" He heard someone in a Scream mask ask, with Ghostface's voice and everything, Arthur turned to look at him but before he could answer Ghostface was already running after a girl dressed as Gale Weathers from the final scene of the first movie. Right after her, another girl dressed as Monica Geller from the London Episode of Friends ran past – and Arthur couldn't help thinking how weird that was.

He was making his way to the kitchen for a drink, when he heard a voice call out his name. He couldn't figure out who the voice belonged to - he just knew it was neither Rhaegar nor Jon. So he turned and found the Lannisters.

Jaime was dressed as a knight; a golden knight (Arthur had thought about coming as a knight too but decided the girls probably preferred Indiana Jones) - and on his arm was his sister. She was dressed in a beautiful golden gown (of course she would have to be a perfect match for her brother) with details in crimson. Her hair was arranged in some complicated way with a crown resting on top. Knowing the Lannisters, Arthur was sure that crown would be pure gold.

"Jaime! It's good to see you."

"You too, Arthur." The golden boy said, shaking Arthur's hand. "You remember my sister, Cersei?" Arthur did remember her. When Rhaegar's father was still Mayor and Tywin Lannister his chief of staff, those twins were always running through the hallways (sometimes pretending to be each other). Arthur remembered playing catch in the hall with Rhaegar and Jaime - sometimes even with a bat - and Cersei would always cheer for her brother, even if her girly crush on Rhaegar was obvious.

"Beautiful as ever, Your Grace." He said playing with her, kissing her hand and taking off his hat in a good old fashioned way.

"You too Arthur."

"It's Jones, Indiana Jones."

"Wrong movie." Jaime pointed out. Arthur just laughed.

"I'm gonna go, boys." Cersei said, walking off. "I'll see you later, Jaime and it was great seeing you again Arthur." Both Jaime and Arthur waved while she walked away to join a group of giggling girls.

"So how have you been?"

"Very good. I finally made the baseball team."

"And the drama? He asked ashe knew Jaime told just a few people about his hobby. Arthur was one the lucky people who had seen him act.

"Still doing it. Father doesn't know yet, of course. And how's college?"

"Good. And I joined a small baseball team near by."

"You were always a great player, better than Rhaegar. Have you decided whatyou want to do?" Jaime asked, while they helped themselves to drinks.

"I don't know yet." He said, but noticed that Jaime wasn't listening and was waiving to someone who was standing by the door, dressed in an American Football costume, complete with helmet.

"This is Brienne."

Arthur was confused for a minute as Brienne was a girl's name and then he suddenly remembered he had seen her before – she tried out for the American Football team every chance she got. Rhaegar told him she had finally made the team this year as a linebacker.

"And he's Arthur." Jamie continued smoothly.

"Hi! It's a pleasure to meet you."

"You too." She said shyly.

"And congratulations on making the team this year! If I remember correctly, you had a better try out than some of the guys who got in."

"Thank you. I'm happy to be part of the team."

Arthur hoped people were treating her nicely. He had voted for her to join last year, but there were too many votes against a girl, even if she could bench press more than most of the guys. Now he thought about it - maybe that's why they were against her.

"People are wai… I'm going to…" She tried to say while she walked away.

"It was a pleasure to meet you." Arthur yelled after her.

"I'm gonna go too, she can't be alone in a place like this. We'll talk later."

"See you." It was weird to see Jaime (the popular and handsome guy) with someone like that girl, Jaime wasn't much into relationships or girls – he always kept away from girls that went to their school, only dating the ones from Casterly Rock where he was from. If nothing had changed since the last time they talked - he was still a virgin.

Arthur mingled through the party and people kept approaching him, trying to introduce themselves or ask how he had been doing; but he was focused on finding his sister. He missed his little girl – they were very different, both physically and in personality; he had his pale blond hair (that made people confuse Rhaegar and him forbrothers) and she had her dark hair, but they both shared violet eyes.

Then from behind him he heard a voice that he hadn't heard in a very long time. He turned and found Elia. He quickly pulled her to his arms and spun her around. He was still holding her when he whispered.

"I missed you, Ells." Only he and his sister called her that – not even Rhaegar did.

"I haven't seen you since…" He waited for her to finish her sentence, but from the look on her face he could tell she didn't remember when.

"…Graduation party." He finally added.

"Right, how's college life?"

"Too much work. You'll do great." She laughed; she must be one of the smartest people he knew, right up there, next to Rhaegar.

"I hope so."

"So how have you been holding up?"

"Arthur, you don't need to…"

"I'm your friend I can ask. I love you, Ells; you are like my baby sister." She was really. She had spent a lot of her time in their house with Oberyn too. Her own brother was almost ten years older – so Arthur had become like an older brother to her as she and Ashara always shared everything. When they were younger, Arthur would look into Ashara's room and he could always see that half of the stuff there belonged to Elia. Often he had to catch a bus or walk to the Martell house because Ashara needed some particular shirt.

"I really don't know, I miss him, you know." Elia finally admitted, trusting him enough to tell him how she really feels.

He kissed the top of her head, and realized that he was again next to the drink table; he took a beer for himself and got her an orange juice since he knew she didn't drink alcohol. She quickly sipped on it trying to hide her sad eyes.

"I love your costume." He said changing the subject. She was wearing a Cleopatra costume, with every detail, including the hair, perfectly done. He wasn't sure if it was her own hair or a wig, but she certainly looked beautiful, like a true Queen.

"Your sister's suggestion. And I like yours too, but I think you have worn it before."

"Shhh… Don't tell anyone."

"Our secret."

"Pinkie promise?" Arthur suggested, and she agreed, still laughing.

"Pinkie promise." They said at the same time while they interlocked their pinkies - just like they did when they were kids. He couldn't remember how many promises he, Elia, Ashara, Rhaegar and Oberyn had locked this way and there was even a phase that he and the other boys made promises by spitting in their hands and shaking on it.

"And by the way, have you seen my sister?"

"She kind of disappeared after we arrive. Look for someone dressed as a Greek Goddess." Oh… please… tell me… she's not almost naked…

"Okay. Just so you know, Jon and I are staying at the Red Keep, you can join us for breakfast."

"I don't think Jon would like that." But maybe he would now. He was jealous of Elia, but they had broken up now, so maybe his mate and his ex-girlfriendcan be friends or at least he can be less rude to her. "Maybe you can join us for lunch; we don't have classes tomorrow morning."

That was the November 1st tradition – the school had agreed to close for class in the morning of that day for years now, since they realised most of the students either skipped classor showed up hung-over.

"Okay, call my cell phone when you want me to come up."

"Arthur!" They heard that familiar voice yell from the other side of the party.

"Oh… God... I'm keeping you back. Go see your friends."

"You are my friend."

"I'll see you tomorrow at lunch, Arthur." He looked back at Rhaegar, who looked ridiculous in a Spiderman suit, and kissed Elia's cheek.

"See you, tomorrow. And if you see my sister, tell her I'm looking for her."

"Sure." She said slipping away while Rhaegar approached. Jon was trying to squeeze himself between Rhaegar and the girl who Arthur supposed was the infamous Lyanna Stark – he couldn't believe he had never noticed how obvious Jon was before.

"The school isn't the same without you!" Rhaegar yelled, slapping Arthur on the back.

"I had to grow up some time, didn't I?" Rhaegar laughed.

"So what's up with your costume? Why didn't you come as Shakespeare?" asked Arthur.

Shakespeare was Rhaegar's favourite costume or anything to do with The Bard. Rhaegar and Elia had come as Romeo and Juliet, so many times.

Rhaegar didn't answer, but he carefully indicated with his eyes towards the girl, who screamed.

"Really, very mature, Rhaegar? That wasn't even the costume we had chosen, and if you didn't want it you could just say so!" She stormed off, but came back and said to Arthur. "And I'm Lyanna by the way." And this time she really disappeared.

"She's feisty."

"Very…" Rhaegar agreed, but with a smile in his face. "But she's kind of mad because we were supposed to come has a super-hero couple, but then I couldn't remember the name and asked for a red super-hero, they gave me this."

"Spiderman." Arthur could recognize, but he didn't have a clue who Lyanna was supposed to be dressed as…

"Right that. So any news since the last time we talked?" They still phoned each other at least every week, even if it was just to say hi.

"Nahh. Pretty much the same. You?"

"Me too. We need to do something before you go back. You need to talk to Lyanna just now. What about we meet up for lunch tomorrow?"

"Can't, I'm having lunch with El… I have plans."

"You guys are driving back tomorrow afternoon." Rhaegar said.

"Yeah." Jon said, feeling left out of the conversation, he was standing really close to Rhaegar now, who didn't seem to notice or care. "But I'm free for lunch."

"Okay, so you and I are going out for lunch tomorrow." Rhaegar agreed with Jon's proposition and then, pointing to Arthur, he said. "But come and find Lyanna and me later so you can properly meet her."

"I promise." Arthur thought about locking their pinkies like he just did with Elia, but decided against it as it was way too childish for Rhaegar. "And have you seen my sister, by the way?"

"I think she went upstairs."

"Thanks, I'm gonna go look for her." He said stepping away, patting Rhaegar's back.

Arthur walked up the stairs, bumping into a few people, and it seemed that in every corner was someone making out – Chewbacca with a Cabaret girl or Tinker Bell with Edward Scissorhands; couldn't decide which one was weirder – but still no Greek Goddess, until some girls told him, between giggles, that his sister was in the last room.

He started walking faster towards the door. He knocked and when he got no answer he tried the handle. Finding it wasn't locked, he walked in…

He wished he hadn't. His baby sister was on her knees, the guy was lying on the bed gripping her hair with his eyes closed. Arthur didn't know what to say, so he just slammed the door so loudly that both of them jumped. When they noticed him, the guy started pulling up his boxers and looking for his costume. His sister kept kneeling, wearingonly her panties, not knowing what to say.

Arthur looked around and noticed a joint resting in the bedside table and next to it a mirror, a rolled up bill and a credit card. He knew instantly what his baby sister had been doing – so he punched the guy, probably breaking his nose. Only after his fist connected did Arthur realise that the fucker was Brandon Stark.

What's fucking wrong with the Starks? Why do they have to keep messing with my "family"? Was what Arthur was thinking when he threw the next punch and the next, all the while trying to ignore his sister's screams.


Eddard "Ned" Stark

Robert was dancing with Cersei, the two of them looking like a perfect King and Queen. Lyanna was getting to know Jon, and Nedhadn't seen Brandon since he arrived. The music – someone had put on the 'N Sync – was giving him a headache, so he left the house through the back door, out into the yard. There were people drinking, dancing – even if the music was much quieter than inside – others had stripped to their underwear and jumped into the pool, even if it was almost November.

He looked around the yard and next to the kid's pool he saw the familiar auburn hair and made his way to her. When he got closer he could see she had taken off her socks and her ballerina shoes and was paddling her feet in the water.

"Hi…" He said shyly, while she looked at him surprised. "Can I sit?" He had the courage to ask.

"Good evening, Ned. And of course." He sat next to her, trying not to get his feet wet.

"What are you doing here? All alone?" He wondered.

"I don't really like parties, at least not this type."

"Me neither. Robert and Brandon made me come and now they've gone off to do their own things and 'N Sync was playing, I had to run from there."

She laughed at that, and said. "I used to really like 'N Sync, to the point I kind of ruined my CD, after hearing it so much. My sister still plays her CD everyday; I'm praying my brother smashes it soon. I'm going crazy."

"Imagine your dad; it's the second time he's going through that."

She laughed and giggled. "I should apologize to my dad, and make everyone a favour by breaking the CD myself."

"Probably."

"Didn't Lyanna ever go through that phase? I imagine with four men in the house, the CD wouldn't last long."

"Nah… We used to make fun of them all together. Sorry…"

"Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf." Someone said behind them and another whispered the wrong wolf…

"I hate my costume." Ned muttered.

"Why? It suits you."

"Aren't you scared I'm going to eat you?" She blushed at what he said, and Ned tried to apologize after he realised what he had just said.

"It fits you. You are a Stark after all."

Does she know the story? Did Brandon tell her? He never cared much for it. "How do you know that?"

She looked at the floor and whispered. "I'm a bit of a history buff."

"Really?!" Ned asked curiously.

"Mostly Westeros. It's just so unique." She said with real enthusiasm in her voice. "They never teach us enough in school."

"So tell me."

"What?!"

"Tell me what you know?"

"Okay." She smiled and started. "As I suppose you know, our state was the only one that didn't want a democracy or a president - we wanted a king." She said looking back to Rhaegar inside the house. "That why the Wall was built to protect us from everyone else trying to force us into democracy – today they have destroyed most of it, every part but that fragment that is still up in the North, I think it's in the same place your old school was." He nodded agreeing with her and said,

"That's what they teach us in school."

"I suppose so. Do you know it was a Stark who built the Wall, mostly to protect their own?"

"Brandon, the Builder."

"I suppose you know about the Starks."

"But keep talking…" Ned looked down, at her feet still playing on the water. "I like the way you tell it…"

She smiled and kept going. "So there were big families – the Starks being the ones living in the far North were easily attacked and they say that to defend themselves they would turn into wolves and fight the others."

"Really?!"

"You never heard this? That you may be descended from werewolves?!"

"Don't tell me you believe in werewolves." He laughed.

"Oh… Shut up, Ned… It's a legend, the reality is that there are wolves around Winterfell. They always attacked the others and the Starks never appeared…"

"Which it isn't hard to figure out. If there werewolves about, I wouldn't leave the house either."

"I know. But the wolves never tried to attack the Starks."

"Maybe we fed them?"

"Probably…"

"So what else do you know?"

"About what?"

"The other families."

"Are you really interested?" She asked, surprised.

"Of course." He liked to hear her talk, especially about things she loved.

"Point me to someone at the party, and I tell you something about them."

"Okay. Firstly, the Freys."

"They used to guard the river; they would decide who could pass – giving them an enormous amount of power."

"Couldn't they just build another bridge?" Catelyn laughed, but he didn't understand why. It was a fair question.

"It wasn't that easy. They would attack and kill who ever tried." He learned something new from her every time she talked. "Ask me another."

"You decide. Tell me something you would like me to know."

"Do you know the mountains in the Vale?" He nodded. "The Arryns used to rule it, as in Professor Arryn, right on the top there was castle. It wasbeautiful, at least from the drawings I've seen."

"I've been there. There's a summer camp up there now. That's where I met Robert. He and Lyanna used to climb those mountains; they would be gone for hours." He had even gone with them a few times; it had been fun but obviously not his favourite thing to do. Lya and Robert would run to the top, they knew that terrainas well as they knew the woods around Winterfell and Storm's End. "I think you would like it." Ned wanted to ask her if she would like to come with him but he hadn't the courage to ask her out.

"I hope I can see it someday. Can I tell you about the Martells next?"

"Please." She smiled at his answer, while a lock of hair fell in front of her eyes and he gently pushed it behind her ear. Ned felt a spark when his hand brushed her ear, but she immediately turned away from him. He watched as her face turned that beautiful shade of red. Then she cleared her throat and kept talking.

"So the Martells are the only family that are still directly descended from the Native Americans. When the colonists arrived, as you know, they expelled or killed everyone, but the Martells fought everyone and eventually they were able to keep their land if they behaved. That's why their words are Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken; they never gave up and fought for what was theirs." Catelyn's eyes lifted up when she talked about that family, feeling proud for what they had fought for.

"What was their emblem?"

"A gold spear piercing a red sun on an orange field. Because they only fought with spears against fire weapons, and the sun means nature."

"How do you know this stuff? If you don't mind me asking?"

"I read, I read a lot." She said smiling.

"Is that why you chose Little Red Riding Hood?"

She laughed again. "Nooo. It was your sister's suggestion."

It didn't make sense; Lyanna was never a fan of Little Red Riding Hood. He looked confused so Cat continued.

"I think Lyanna was expecting me to look sexy… like a mini skirt and huge cleavage kind of thing." Catelyn was wearing a simple dress that went to her knees with a little red cape over her shoulders; her hair was loose but for the red bow

"I think you look beautiful." Ned said, not looking her in the eye, but he knew her well enough to know that she was blushing; he could almost feel her hand in his. "I think you look beautiful everyday." Ned whispered, but he couldn't really believe he had said that.

Her hand was now fully over his and when he plucked up the ourage to look at her, her eyes were shining, her face now the same colour as her hood. She tilted her face closer, and as Ned brought his head down, he forgot everything; he forgot this would be his second kiss, he forgot she was his brother's ex-girlfriend; he forgot how nervous he was around girls… Her eyes were closed when their lips finally met. He had never felt anything like this; her lips tasted of the apple juice she had been nursing all night and he knew it felt right – he wasn't worrying about doing anything wrong – it was soft and simple, like them. Her hand squeezed his, but before he could return it, someone screamed and they automatically jumped away from each other.

"FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!"

People were screaming around them, leaving the pool and running into the house.

Someone yelled "Arthur is going to kick that Stark's ass!"

Fuck, my brother! Why now?

Ned looked at Catelyn, still blushing and biting her lip. She nodded and whispered, "Go on, Brandon may need you."

Her hand was still in his, so he squeezed it hard before striding into the house, he had to push through the crowd to where everyone was gathered around. When he got there, Arthur already had Brandon pinned against the wall, Ashara was trying to fix her costume – but everyone could see she was half naked – and when Ned looked around to the side both Rhaegar and Robert fighting (Ned couldn't know if Robert had needed to intervene or he just did it because he wanted to) – but he could hear his best friend's voice yelling "… she hates Spider-Man, she thinks he's just a horny teenage boy. I bet she said Daredevil…" between punches.

When Ned finally reached Brandon and Arthur, he could see that blood was streaming from his brother's, probably broken, nose. Brandon's Hercules' costume was ripped and his collarbone was either really swollen or broken. Ned took a deep breath and did what any good brother would do; he waded in and pulled Arthur off Brandon, punching Arthur as hard as he could, so he stumbled and fell to the ground.

"Ned!" He heard Lyanna scream, while she was trying to help Brandon up. Arthur staggered back to his feet and tried to punch Ned.

Ashara, screaming, flung herself between Ned and her brother. "Arthur, stop! Ned never did anything wrong, and neither did Brandon!"

"This piece of shit is using you!"

"Shut up! You know nothing about us! If he's using me, then I'm using him too. You can't just turn up here and think you can order me around!"

Ashara ran down the stairs as the crowd of people parted for her. Arthur ran after her.

With the Daynes gone, Ned helped Brandon up and then made his way to the kitchen, to look for some ice. While he had his head in the freezer, he heard a familiar soft voice behind him.

"I bet there are frozen peas on the bottom shelf."

Ned followed her suggestion and found some. As he sat on a stool she made her way over to him and started cleaning Arthur's blood from his knuckles. Then she helped apply the "ice".

"About earlier…" Ned started saying, but she interrupted him.

"We can talk some other time, maybe over coffee or something."

"Please help!"

Ned looked up to see Lyanna almost carrying Brandon in to the kitchen. She was also dressed all in red, but her costume was so different from Catelyn's. Lyanna's Elektra costume revealed far too much skin for Ned's liking. Catelyn went to help and together both girls managed to sit Brandon on the stool beside Ned.

"Can I have a drink please Red?" Brandon said to Catelyn. Ned felt kind of jealous at the way his brother could talk to her so easily. Cat passed him another bag of frozen food and a glass of whisky. "Thank you, Red. You were right - cool party."

"I'm just gonna go, now." Catelyn sighed. "And this time, see that you go to the hospital."

She walked out, after looking at Ned wistfully, but she was back in less than 2 minutes with Jaime. The two of them were carrying Robert between them. Jaime just threw Robert on another stool and left. The five of them were now alone in the kitchen.

They stayed there talking; Catelyn and Lyanna taking care of the three bloodied boys. Ned thought it was strange that his sister didn't once ask about Rhaegar and didn't seem to wonder if he was okay or not. She didn't even notice when her boyfriend stood in the doorway, watching her with sad eyes. Lyanna was too busy helping Robert put ice on his face and knuckles to notice Rhaegar.

Chapter Text

Lyanna Stark

"I need a favour." Lyanna said when she entered her brother's room without even knocking. Ned was resting in bed reading a book – The Perks of Being a Wallflower – she was sure she had seen Catelyn reading that book awhile ago.

He put the book aside while she threw herself on his bed, bringing her knees to her chest.

"What do you need, Lya?" Ned asked, and Lyanna wondered what would be the best way to ask what she wanted.

"I need you to ask Robert something for me."

"Lya…" She felt bad, like she and Robert were a married couple getting divorced and Ned was the kid in the middle of the mess.

"I know, I shouldn't ask. But… Robert and I used to buy comics together, and he used to keep them all."

"You want me to ask him for the comics?! I've never seen them in his room."

"They are in the cave."

"Where?!" What?!" Ned doesn't know about the cave and he's his best friend. And then his voice said in her mind, it's ours, just mine and yours.

"You don't know…" She whispered surprised, Ned nodded his head and muttered.

"I guess not."

"It was his special place when he was a kid, and then it kind of started to become ours. I'm surprised he never told you."

"I think he talked about having it when we first met, but I never thought he still went there."

She remembered the rock that covered the entrance and the giant chest inside that was always locked (she was sure she still had the key he gave her years ago on a shelf full of crap – she never needed it, he was always there to open it), inside there were a million things; blankets, the comics, boring board games that they hadn't touched since they found more exciting things to pass the time, his Pokémon cards that they still played with from time to time and a box of condoms (frequently renewed).

"Can you please do me this favour?"

"Sure. But I don't know how he will react."

"Thanks." He needs to be okay with this, we shared the money. And it's just the comics, it's not like I'm asking for the CDs or even the mix tapes we did together – I just need some of the comics. "Brandon and Benjen are playing Grand Theft Auto 2. I'm joining them, do you want to come?"

"No, thanks. I promised... someone I would read this book."

"Okay, sure. See you what dinner." She jumped from her brother's bed and left his room, closing the door. She slid down the rail to the living room, where Brandon was screaming at the screen because he was getting his ass kicked.

"Fuck! I'm dead!" He yelled throwing the controller to the floor. Lyanna quickly picked it up and threw herself in the armchair.

She could easily get the cops off her tracks. She heard Benjen laughing and saying to Brandon that he was getting beaten by a girl.

"Shut up! Like you could do better. And I'm sure our sister is half boy anyway."

Lyanna, hearing this, threw the closest pillow at his head and yelled at him.

"Shut up, asshole."

They continued bickering, and after a while their father had to intervene.

"Guys, you're making to much noise. I'm trying to hear the news while I make your dinner."

"Sorry dad."

"And what have I told you about that game?! No playing in front of Benjen, I've said it a million times that he's too young to see such things."

"Sorry dad. Can I just finish this…?"

"No, Lya. Turn it off now and put on another game. Or you will all go to your rooms." Brandon was already turning off the consol and putting on FIFA 2000 (like GTA 2, they had only bought it last week). "And you Benjen, you're old enough to know that if your brother and sister were playing this game, you need to leave and find another thing to do."

"But, dad…"

"No, buts… Now try to make less noise, please. I'll call you when it's time for dinner." Father left to go to the kitchen and Brandon gave the remote to Benjen, ruffling his hair.

"Sorry, kid. You can play first." Benjen quickly fixed his hair and muttered something about not being a kid anymore.

Lyanna loved this game. Soccer wasn't a usual sport here and most people didn't care for this videogame because it didn't make sense to them. But their mother had come from England, from a family that treated their team's games as sacred events, so when they were little they would all sit and watch the games – neither of them could ever watch the games now, but nobody dared to move the Arsenal F.C. scarf from its place above the fireplace.

Benjen won the first game against Lya, but then lost against Brandon, in the final game Lyanna was able to beat Brandon.

"I WON! I WON!" She gloated at him, jumping in front of him, making their father have to appear again.

"Lyanna Stark, lower your voice."

"Sorry dad." She whispered.

"Benjen, go wash your hands and tell your brother that dinner is ready." Benjen skipped from his place on the couch and up the stairs. "You two turn off the game and set the table." While Brandon packed up the game, Lyanna set the table and helped dad bring the things to the table.

Father rarely cooked, and when he did it was usually the same – rice or pasta with something, tuna or mince – today, tuna rice. On the other days, the meal was normally made by a nice old lady who babysat for them a lot when they were younger called "Old" Nan. She lived with her grandson, a young boy of seven called Hodor who suffered from autism; nobody had heard him say anything else besides his name since his parents' accident. Old Nan insisted on taking no money for the meals, she said that it was what a good neighbour did, but father had also insisted and now he paid for Hodor's medical costs.

Everyone sat at the table (after father had to remind his teenage children to wash their hands), filled their plates and started eating. While they ate, they took the time to tell each other how the day went.

"Ned was called for the next game." Brandon said with his mouth full, talking about the basketball team. Basketball was the only sport that Ned played at school (obviously excluding PE classes) but even being a good player, it was always a matter of luck if he made the team, while Brandon was the star player, and never missed a game.

"That's very exciting, Eddard. Aren't you happy?" Dad asked, but Ned seemed distracted about something.

"What?! Sorry, I wasn't listening."

"The basketball game."

"Oh… yes. Sure."

"You, boys, can come train in the field behind my office." Dad purposed.

"We have practice tomorrow." Brandon said.

"The day after?"

"I have plans." Ned said. He rarely had plans besides school work or hanging out with Robert and usually he could always cancel if he needed to.

"Really?!" Dad asked surprised. "With Robert?" Ned shook his head.

"School work?" Their father suggested again.

"No. It's nothing important, dad. If you insist I'm sure I can reschedule."

"No. Go have fun, boy." He said to Ned and turned to his other children. "And, you two. Have you got any plans?"

"Tomorrow, I've got volleyball after school. And I'm probably going out with Rhaegar the day after tomorrow." Lyanna answered with her mouth full. Her father then turned to Brandon waiting for his answer.

"After tomorrow, I have baseball practice." He was lying, if Rhaegar was free so would Brandon be.

"Okay. Now, we have a problem, I have no one to pick up Benjen. I have to work late the rest of the week, I'm closing an important deal."

"I can take the bus." Benjen suggested. Their father rejected that suggestion. "But… they took the bus when they were my age."

"They weren't alone. They had each other, or friends. Do you know anyone that lives around here and takes the bus?"

"Nah…" Benjen shook his head.

They tried to work out a solution for the rest of dinner, but couldn't think of anything. They finished eating and cleaning the table, then each of them left for their own room.

Lyanna tried to do some of her homework, while listening to the new CD she had got last week, but gave up on homework rather soon and retired to bed.


It had been a few days since the party and Rhaegar had been acting unbelievably strangely. She couldn't understand why he had disappeared from the Frey's without saying goodbye. And then there was also Catelyn who has been mysterious about something. Lyanna asked Brienne if she knew where Catelyn had been before the fight, but Bree said she had been with Jaime the whole time and hadn't noticed anyone else.

Lyanna needed to leave the Catelyn mystery for another day; today she was spending the afternoon with Rhaegar (besides that, Catelyn was missing again).

So after lunch with Brienne, she made her way to his car and sat on the hood, while she pulled from a cigarette. She tried to smoke discreetly, trying not to get caught smoking in the school grounds.

She was so distracted by her thoughts and by watching the people doing laps in the football field, that she couldn't ear his footsteps on the gravel which usually was a dead giveaway from anyone trying to sneak up. She only looked up when a small stone was thrown her way.

"Hey! Stop!"

"You took long enough to notice me."

"Sorry… I was distracted, Rhaegar." She climbed off the hood and asked. "So where are we going?"

"I don't know. You got any ideas?"

"We can't go very far. Ned is giving me a lift home and I need to be back when he calls me."

"Mall?!" He suggested, Lyanna hated the mall, it was always full of giggling, screaming girls talking about stupid boys and buying fancy clothes, but if she didn't have another choice – it would have to do.

"Sure." She kissed him and climbed to the front seat, while Rhaegar took the wheel, and drove the ten minutes to the second biggest mall on the state that didn't even had a cinema – at least one with current movies. While he parked she whispered. "This totally sucks."

"I know." He said taking her hand, and with his puppy dog eyes suggested. "I can at least buy you an ice cream." She smiled and answered.

"I'm sold." As energetic as ever, she jumped from the car to the pavement, waiting for her boyfriend to take his place next to her. "Did Arthur and Jon drive safely back to college?"

"Yes."

"And did you like the party?" He dropped his hold on her hand and stepped a few steps away from her. She wanted to ask why…

"Yes. But you disappeared after the fight, I wondered where you were."

"I was in the kitchen with my brothers. After your friend attacked him… them…"

"Your brother was screwing Ashara, Arthur's sister. I don't know what I would do if I caught a guy with Daenerys."

"Daenerys is one…"

"You get what I meant. I waited for you."

"And I expected you to come look for me."

"I did, Lya. You were all touchy with Robert."

"Rhaegar…" She reached for him, touching his upper arm. "He's my friend, and you can't control it. I just don't wanna fight about this…"

"Me neither… I just…we always end up fighting." She and Robert did too, maybe it was her fault. Her fights with Robert were always more intense and always ended up in make up sex.

"Maybe we should learn more about each other."

"I like the idea." He said smiling, as they had already reached the ice cream parlour, he asked. "First question then - what's your favourite flavour?"

"Chocolate. Yours?"

"Caramel." He paid for the two ice cream cones; one chocolate, one caramel. They took a seat on a nearby bench.

"So, I would like you to read some of my favourite comics. At least Daredevil." Lyanna suggested.

"Okay. I agree with that, but you will also have to read a few books I suggest and watch movies with subtitles without complaining."

"But… Rhaegar…" He gave her a look and she closed her mouth immediately, agreeing with him.

"We should go to a museum." He said. "Maybe photography, I know you like it."

"I do." She smiled at the idea of going to a photography exhibit; she had never been able to drag Robert to one.

"So I know you love videogames, what kind?" He asked.

"I like the violent ones and the ones with soccer…"

"You like soccer?" She nodded. "I used to play when I was a kid."

"You need to come over and play with us. My mother loved Arsenal; we used to watch all the games." She was inviting him to join her family, something she had never done before.

"I'm not good at videogames, I do have a play station at home, but it's mostly my brother's."

"I was talking about really playing. But we can play console too."

"Okay. I like the idea."

They spent the rest of the afternoon talking, with her resting her long legs on his lap. She learned he loved painting, a hobby he had acquired from his mother; that his favourite place in the whole world was an old ruined family house in Summerhall and that when he was little he dreamed of turning into a dragon.

When Rhaegar drove her back to school, he promised he was going to try and watch some of the movies she suggested – most of them were with Steven Seagel or Jim Carrey – in return she would watch the Three Colors trilogy. They had found some common ground with films such as The Shining (even if he insisted the novel was better) and Forrest Gump that they promised to re-watch together.

When they arrived she could already see Ned waiting for her next to the car he had to share with his older brother and soon with her too; she kissed her boyfriend and made her way to her ride home.

"Hello, Ned!"

"Hi, Lya." He answered while he got inside the car, and she entered the passenger side. "We have to pick up Brandon first."

"From where?"

"Red Keep Apartments."

"Really?! You could have picked me up there too, that's next to Rhaegar's house."

"Sorry. He only called me a half an hour ago."

"No problem." She answered, while he started the car and got out of the parking spot."

"Ah… Robert gave me your things, they are in the back." She looked at the backseat and found a bag full of comics. She stretched and was able to pick up the bag in the back.

"Tell him I said thanks." She looked through the bag, besides the comics, there were some CDs and tapes, a few shirts and even a bra. She took of one of the comics, the Spiderman one. One Valentine's Day they had decided to have a competition to see who could give each other the shittier present. She gave him a dress (he ended up using it by giving it to his mother on Mother's Day) and he gave her this comic – a special collector's edition Spiderman. It read inside.

Happy super commercial, nauseating and lame Valentine's Day!

I hope this present sucks and you hate it

I'll make you read it… and then write a report on it

Knowing you, I'll have to read it too

So to you, 'Ana, I love you.

Forever Yours,

Robert

He had always been the only person to call me Ana – he had wanted a name that was just his (because of that, she had a never ending list of nicknames created by him). They had ended up reading the comic together in each other arms, and drawing moustaches, horns and unibrows in almost every man or woman (or not human creature) on every page of the comic – she smiled at the memory…


Cersei Lannister

Cersei hated Varys and his Spider blog. She had asked her father to take down the website, but he simply ignored her and told her it was just a child's play. People had tried to bring him down, but he always knew too much and easily blackmailed anyone who tried.

There had been a party yesterday. Although no one remembered seeing him there, he would know what had been going on. Everyone expected a lot of things to be exposed in the next few days.

Cersei didn't do anything she had to worry about; she had been a good girl. She didn't have sex at parties, controlled her drinking so she wouldn't act like a fool, but despite all her precautions, her name still showed up in the fucking website – she hadn't even checked the blog before leaving for school, being so confident that her name wouldn't appear. If anything interesting was in the blog, the girls would tell her. So when she got to school, she couldn't help but be surprised when Falyse asked her.

"Did you have sex with Robert Baratheon?"

"Who the fuck told you that?!" Cersei tried to ask calmly, but it was impossible.

"The Spider published it this morning."

"Fuck…" Cersei swore while she made her way to the library, where she would be able to use a computer, when she arrived she found all the computers being used, she turned to the one closer and said to the boy using it.

"Scoot. I need it."

"I need to finish this paper, Professor…"

"I didn't ask for your life story. I asked you to leave, so you leave." She said, and the freshman with pimples got out off the chair. Cersei sat on his place, while the boy pleaded.

"Can you please don't touch the word page…" But she ignored the boy, and closed the page, without saving.

"Oops…" The boy tried to say something else, but Cersei gave him a look that made the boy leave, muttering something to himself.

She opened the Spider blog, and immediately found what she was looking for. It was in the latest post.

There was a picture of Robert fucking a blond girl, while everyone could see Robert's face, that only thing visible about the girl was her blond hair and naked shoulders. Under the photo it read,

Another rebound for our quarterback (let's hope he didn't call out our blue rose girl's name again)… And it seems he's favouring blonds now, since he had been dancing with our beautiful golden queen all night…

And that was why she hated the Spider – he was smart. He didn't published lies – people had tried, leaving fake gossip in his locker, but he always made sure of their veracity. He left hints. People took from them the conclusions they wanted. She never slept with Robert and the Spider damn well knew that, but he had meant for everyone to think she had.

"We need to handle this and shut this down."

"We can't, you know that Cersei. Varys is untouchable."

"My father is Tywin Lannister! If I wanted I could make him throw the Spider in jail." Father wouldn't give a shit about this, she was sure, but they didn't know that. "I meant we find who the blond bitch is. Then we get the truth out there."

"Of course." They both answered but neither of them moved.

"What are you doing? I need the problem fixed. You can leave now, you should have already left!" Both girls disappeared as she ordered and left her alone. Cersei looked for the other posts from the party, but there was very little still, so she stood up and left the library.

Outside, she could see the looks people were giving her and she knew most people had seen the post or had been told. She needed to find Baratheon and ask him who did he fuck – she wondered if he would even remember.

He wasn't hard to find. She saw (and heard) her brother punching Robert. She didn't even know if she should or not stop it. Quickly weighing up the consequences of each course of actions, she decided to stop it. Robert was way bigger and stronger than her brother, Jaime could get smashed.

"Jaime! What the fuck are you doing?!" She yelled. Jaime turned to her, while Robert got himself up from the floor. Before either of them could say anything, she pushed both of them into the nearest classroom. One of the cleaning ladies tried to stop her, but Cersei just turned and snarled at her to mind her own business, throwing her a twenty bucks bill to make sure she would.

"God! Jaime! I thought you knew me well enough to know I wouldn't fuck Robert bloody Baratheon."

"Hey! I'm hot and I'm handsome, and anybody would like to fuck me!" Robert smirked.

"Shut up, Robert! Nobody should fuck you right now."

"All over the school people are saying you fucked him last night." Jaime said trying to end this pointless discussion.

"What?!" Robert asked surprised. She wondered how the hell he hadn't heard about it before.

"Varys. It's a lie and he just hinted at it. Everyone jumped to the conclusion he wanted them to reach. The truth is that you fucked some blond girl, and I need her name, Baratheon."

"For God's sake, Cersei. Do you know how much I drank yesterday? I'm pretty sure I fucked more than one girl. How do you expect me to remember her fucking name?"

"Fucking remember, asshole!" Cersei yelled at him.

"Why is it so bad for people to think we had sex? I'm sure you would have enjoyed it." He winked. "Everyone knows you're not a virgin." Before he had got all the words out, Jaime had him pinned against the wall.

"Say something else like that about my sister and I don't care if you're the fucking quarterback, you won't play for a while!" Jaime only let go after Cersei rested her hand on his shoulder and Robert choked out.

"Does the Spider at least say the hour of the photo? Pre-party or after-party?"

"No."

"So what do you want me to do?" Robert groaned, shrugging and rubbing his neck where Jaime had held him.

"I want you to fix this. Just find the damn slut, Robert." Cersei yelled at him, and then left him in the empty classroom.

Cersei hadn't liked how this month started; she hoped she could turn it around.


After a few days, they had been able to kill the rumour. The girl had turned out be some tart from Flea Bottom. Nobody was sure how she got into the party. Her last name was Waters apparently - a nobody. Cersei hadn't even bothered to remember her first name.

Cersei left the information in Varys' locker and told him to fix the lie. By the next morning the problem was fixed – even if there were still a few assholes spreading the lie, Cersei knew how to shut them. However, Cersei had a niggling feeling that something awful was about to happen.

When someone came out of the library whispering about something, she knew the Spider's revenge had come.

"Go find what they are talking about." She ordered one of the girls who sat next to her, two minutes later, the girl came back.

"People… they are saying your brother is dating Brienne of Tarth." Oh… no… the bloody beast… that's a lie for sure! What kind of information could he have got hold of and posted to insinuate this?

"You go find my brother and bring him to me." She ordered and then added. "Alone." While the girls did that, Cersei went to check the post herself. This time there were free computers and she immediately looked up the blog. And there it was. Her fool of a brother hugging the beast, helping it stand up, eating with it, but again nothing was directly said of their relationship status; everyone just jumped to conclusions like the damn Spider wanted and planned.

She left the library and found her brother outside, waiting for her.

"So, sweet sister, why did you have your slaves call for me?" She knew they couldn't have this conversation out in the open, so she pushed him through the closest door.

"People are saying you're dating your ugly beast."

"I have told you not to call her names, Cersei."

"You're not denying it?!" She asked, shocked.

"Of course, I'm denying it. But it's also nobody's damn business."

"I knew you wouldn't date such an ugly creature."

"Cersei, I never said it was because of her physical appearances."

"You can't date her! Even just your friendship ruins our image as Lannisters. Imagine what father would do if he found out you were friends with Brienne, the Beauty." They both knew father would forbid it; he would say there was no advantage in being friends with her.

"I don't feel that way for her, but she's one of the best friends I ever had and I am not giving her up, because of you or father!"

"I'm not asking you..." Even if she wanted too, Cersei was too scared he would choose the beast over her. It hurt even admit it to herself; she had always been his priority, his first choice. "I just want to fix the rumour."

"Do what ever you want. But don't shame Brienne."

"I won't." Cersei said, but Jaime was already leaving the room, mad at her – she hated when he acted this way.

Cersei left the classroom a few minutes after, and put herself to work. She knew she couldn't deny the photos - they were true. The only solution was to ask the best gossipers in school to deny it and find some better rumour to smother this one.

She looked up all the things she knew and took notice of; the things she stored up to be able to use later. She was quickly able to blackmail who she had to, so the rumours would stop, but she hadn't decided another rumour to start yet, until another girl came out of the library whispering – and this time it wasn't about her.

In the latest post, it read

Oh… Red… are you sure you want to shit on your own doorstep? Family feuds are never good

The Spider had left it at that, so everyone could only speculate who 'Red' was. Were they male or female? What relationship were they considering that would cause shit for their family? It gave everyone something else to gossip about and made them forget about the stupid rumour about Jaime and the beast.

Even Cersei also wondered who 'Red' was. There weren't many redheads at school. Her first thought was Melisandre, who seemed to like to burn everything, but she couldn't see how her family would be involved. If it wasn't Melisandre, suddenly it was obvious - the Tully girl… Catelyn's younger sister and their foster brother… Brother and sister involved (even if not by blood) could destroy any family, especially one like the Tullys…

Chapter Text

Catelyn Tully

Sarah McLachlan's first album was playing on the CD player. Catelyn was trying to calm her was trying to decide on her outfit for this afternoon. She wanted to be perfect, even if it was their fifth date. She wanted them to take a step further today and it seemed she needed to be the one to do it.

She and Ned had been on four dates now and he hadn't tried to kiss her since the party two weeks ago. She wondered if it was because he wasn't interested – but then she supposed if he wasn't, he would stop meeting with her. During their last date three days before, they had gone to the movies at the King's Landing's mall to see a screening of the 1994 hit, Four Weddings and a Funeral. They only held hands in the dark while other couples – are we even a couple? – around them made out intensively. Catelyn decided she would talk to Lyanna and ask her what she should do.

The conversation had been rather awkward. Initially, Lyanna had thought Catelyn was talking about Brandon, so she'd cursed her own brother and called Catelyn stupid to even reconsider dating Brandon again after what he did to her. Catelyn had felt a bit nervous when she finally said she meant her other brother… Lyanna had reacted rather well, better than most people at school would and said that after thinking about it they did made a good couple. Then, when Catelyn shared her fears about Ned not being really interested in her that way, Lyanna laughed and then said, "Oh… Cat… that's just Ned. If I know him, he's probably thinking the same thing. If you don't make the first move, you may wait forever.

Catelyn took a long time to think about Lya's words and decided that the best choice was to take a deep breath and just kiss him.

While her mind raced at a mile a minute, she looked through her closet, looking for something good to wear, a dress more specifically. But the problem wasn't finding a dress, dresses were probably all she had in her closet, the problem was finding one warm enough so she wouldn't freeze in the middle of November. She finally settled on a long sleeved fuchsia dress. It was warmer than the others, but still ended at her knees. So she had put some tights underneath, found a pair of boots (beneath all the ballerina shoes and sneakers) that would keep her legs warm. It reminded her she had a job to do when she got home – exchanging her summer wardrobe (and Edmure's, and dad's, and even Lysa's and Petyr's) for winter clothes that had been packed away during the summer.

She heard the doorbell ring and looked out of the window of her room. Seeing it was Ned, she ran downstairs, checking on Edmure, who was playing races with his toy cars, making Vroom… Vroom… sounds…and then she knocked on the door of her father's office before going in.

"Dad, I'm leaving now. I'll be home to prepare dinner, but if I'm late, there are some TV dinnersin the freezer."

"I know, little Cat. Now, come here and let me take a look at you." She walked to her father and gave him a twirl. He smiled, whispering. "You look beautiful, go and have fun…but not too much fun."

"Thank you, daddy." She said, kissing his cheek. "Don't worry about Edmure. He's in his room, playing with his toys."

When she finally left her father's solar, and opened the main door, to find Ned waiting on the other side.

"Hi, Ned. Sorry, you had to wait; I was saying goodbye to my dad and Edmure."

"No problem, Catelyn. I hope you're having a good day."

"I am." She smiled, closed the doorbehind her. Then they walked out onto the front porch.

"I'm sorry, but I couldn't bring the car."

"No problem…" She said. "We can walk. Maybe we can go to the small park, just a few blocks away."

"Sure."

She didn't know what to say. It wasn't like their silence was uncomfortable, but Ned always answered in such short answers that she wondered again if he was enjoying himself.

"Are you in the team for the next game?" She asked, trying to make conversation. She had seen him play in the last basketball game – she thought he played well, but maybe she just considered everyone who played better than her to be a good player. The last game hadn't turned out quite like they had hoped; it should have been easy to win, but they had lost.

"No. The coach said they needed the best players, after the last game." Ned looked to the floor, like he was ashamed for having lost, like it was his entire fault.

"Hey… you played well." She said, reaching for his arm. He didn't push away, so she let her hand stay on his upper arm for a while.

"Catelyn, you barely know the rules." He said smiling, almost laughing at her. She liked that face.

"Hey… I'll have you know that I'm a great basketball player." She said with a serious voice. Letting go of his arm, she stepped in front of him and started walking backwards.

"You know that I actually have P.E. with you, right? That I've seen you play?"

"That's on purpose; I don't want people to know how good I am."

"Oh… Okay… It's clearly working." He said, going along with her joke. "You're a true Globetrotter." She didn't have any idea what he was talking about, so she just ignored that comment, figuring it wasn't a compliment.

"Well, I can still kick your ass you…" She stopped mid-sentence when she knocked against someone. "Oh… I'm sorry. Are you feeling okay?" She asked, blushing. She had almost knocked the old man off his feet.

"I'm well. Thank you, miss. But maybe you should walk facing forward."

"Yes. I'm so sorry, sir." The man grumbled a bit, but walked away. Taking the man's advice, Cat and Ned continued on their way to the park side by side.

"Are you okay?" He asked.

"Yes. But you could have warned me there was someone behind me."

"Sorry, I didn't see him. He came out of nowhere."

"Apology not accepted." She answered, pretending to be mad. After a while, Ned could see past the charade.

When they had finally made it to the garden, he opened the gate and let her go in first. Besides the time of the year, the garden still looked beautiful, with just a few flowers and the path was covered with leaves – red, yellow, purple, brown… They walked through a small passage that led to the middle of the park, a huge space covered in grass. There was a playground and a basketball field over to one side. Before she could say anything, Ned disappeared.

She turned around to see him talking with three boys who had been shooting hoops. He beckoned her over.

"You said you wanted to prove how good you are? So, let's play." She wanted to say no, but she also didn't want to back down from a challenge.

"Sure. Game on!" They made up teams; Ned and one of the kids and Catelyn with the other two.

Both boys seemed to regret immediately that they had got Catelyn in their team. After a while, the boys in her own team shut her out of the game, making sure she never got her hands on the ball. She had been able to stop the boy in Ned's team from shooting, and then, finally she got the ball and scored two points. As soon as she started celebrating, one of her team mates turned to her and said.

"You know, we are still losing twenty to three?" How had Ned gotten twenty points in so little time?

"So how about we trade teams? Catelyn and me against you three?" Ned suggested.

"Sure." The boys snickered, knowing that they would win.

She pulled him aside and complained, "I can't play in these boots."

"Take them off then."

"My rip my tights on the ground."

"Okay." Ned started taking off his tennis shoes and then his socks." He handed his socks to her. "I promise they're clean. Just put them on over your tights." Ned put his tennis shoes on again and they both prepared for the game.

The three boys immediately covered Ned, leaving Cat wide open. When he was finally able to pass her the ball, she missed the shot…and the next one…and then the one after that. By the end of the game they had lost by miles.

Ned offered the boys some advice on their game while she put her boots back on. Then Catelyn took him by the hand to her favourite place in the garden, it had evergreen trees around the entire place, still with green leaves.

"Lie down with me?" She asked while she lay down on the grass. Ned looked warilyat her, but then gave up and lay down next to her.

From down there they could see everything; the sun still shone between the leaves and the different colors of the flowers that could still strive in the cold weather. Then there well the wonderful smells and also the sounds – some birds singing and the laughs from other people on the grass, just a few feet away.

"It's beautiful…" She whispered.

"How did you find this place?" Ned asked.

"I was walking around the park, and I just stumbled upon it…" She extended her hand, and a butterfly stopped in it for a few seconds, before flying away again. "Close your eyes." He did. "Just listen… the wind, the animals moving… the smell of wet grass, and perfumed flowers…"

They lay there for a good while, she liked the peace, but what she liked more was how Ned's hand had came to rest upon hers, none of them said anything, just stayed there… She wondered if this would be a good moment to finally kiss him, to tell him that she liked him, that…

"Ahhh…" She jumped surprised, when the sprinklers started working, Ned stood up quickly and extended his hand to help her up, pushing her out of there, she couldn't help but laugh of the ridiculousness of the situation. When they were finally in dry ground, Ned asked, pointing to the small diner in the outskirts of the park.

"Something to eat?" She nodded and followed him. When they arrived she immediately saw the WC sign.

"Find us a table, I just need to go to the bathroom." She tried to fix her hair in front of the bathroom mirror, which had gone all wild from the sprinklers. She ended up taking one of the hair elastics she kept on her wrist and putting her hair up in a ponytail.

Once she was out of the bathroom, she found Ned sitting at a table by the window, trying to fix his hair with his hands. He immediately stopped when he saw her.

"So what do you want to eat?"

"Maybe french fries? I don't think I can eat a whole lot though. Would you share with me? If you don't want, it's totally okay."

"Sure. To drink?"

"Strawberry milkshake."

"Okay. I'm going to order." He stood up and went to the counter; coming back a few minutes later.

They talked about anything and everything while they shared the french fries. They played the game they had learned to play so they could know each other better; they would ask any question and the other person would be obligated to answer, and then the other asked and so on – it was the perfect way to get to know each other.

Ned insisted on paying. Catelyn tried to argue, but his only answer was "you can pay next time". She smiled at the thought of spending time with him again.

As they walked back home, they played the word association game, starting with the word snail and ending, on her front porch, with the word windmill.

Ned led her to the door and they both stood in front of it, trying to say goodbye.

"So I guess I'll see you tomorrow at school, Cat."

"Yeah." Cat, it's your last chance, just do it. "So goodbye." But when Ned moved to kiss her cheek, Catelyn turned towards him and planted her lips on his. Ned froze immediately and she was scared she had done something wrong, until he pecked her lips, before pulling away.

"Ned…"

"Catelyn, let me speak." He said, gathering uphis courage. "I like you…I've like you since before, but I shouldn't if I'm honest with myself. I can't do this to Brandon, I can't do this…" He said pointing between them. "…without knowing that he's okay with it."

"So talk to him." She reached for his hand. "I like you, and I think we can make this work, really work, if you give us a chance. Even if I don't agree that we need permissionfrom your brother, you should talk to him if you believe that's the right thing to do."

"Okay. I will try to talk to him tonight."

She smiled at him, as he kissed her blushing cheek.

"So I guess I'll talk to you tomorrow. Good evening, Catelyn."

"Good luck, Ned." Catelyn said waving him off.


Catelyn and Brienne were in the school playground when Catelyn saw them park the car. Brienne was doing some last minute revision before her test in the first period while Catelyn was just resting against a rail, watching.

Lyanna was the first to get out of the car. She said something to her brothers, passed by Rhaegar who she waved to and skipped her way over to the girls. Catelyn kept her eyes fixed on the car, seeing both brothers walk out together. They both looked at her, Ned awhile longer, but he walked past her to meet Robert.

"He will talk to you. I'm sure he just doesn't want to do it in front of the entire school." Lyanna said, trying to comfort her friend.

"Do you know if they talked yesterday?" She had called Lyanna yesterday, after Ned had left.

"I think so… After dinner they spend a good time outside shooting hoops." Okay… please saythe conversation went well… "And Brandon seemed a bit moody, but not more than when he has a test he hasn't studied for."

"Is that good or bad news?"

"I really don't know, Cat."

"Tarth! Are you coming?!" Rhaegar yelled to Brienne since they both had the same class first. Brienne started packing up her books and notebooks and made her way to the boys, almost tripping on the stairs. As she stumbled, one of her books flew out of her hands to land at Ned's and Robert's feet. Robert picked it up and gave it to her. Brienne was blushing red by the time she joined Rhaegar to walk to class.

Lyanna and Catelyn walked together to their classes after Brienne, since their classrooms were close to each other. Catelyn went to her Foreign Literature class. It was one of the optional courses, they were only eight students. Ten had started the course, but two had already quit. The tables were arranged in a U-shape, so they could easily trade ideas.

For the past two weeks, they have been reading poetry written by a Portuguese poet named Fernando Pessoa. He had written not only as himself, but he also used other pen names, giving these other authors he created their own personalities, life stories and writing style. He had completely innovated modern literature, when he created these heteronyms, over 150.

Catelyn sat next to Elia, in her usually place. Catelyn really liked working with Elia. She would suggest the best books and always had interesting things to say about the characters, the story or just the way the writer wrote. For Fernando Pessoa's poetry, they had been told to compare the way the different heteronyms wrote and then give their opinion.

The class went by quickly. As they all filled out of the classroom, Elia and Catelyn were still deep in conversation.

"I still can't believe he could write that way. Being so many different people at the same time." Elia said.

"I know, sometimes I have a hard time knowing who am I." Elia smiled.

Catelyn was going to answer, but quickly said goodbye when she spied Lyanna waiting for her.

Catelyn walked over to Lya, but neither girl said anything for a while, until Lyanna broke the awkward silence.

"You're my friend, not my dog. I don't control who you are friends with. I don't want you to think I would mind you being friends with Elia."

"Thanks. I just... girls..."

"I know. Why do you think I usually hang out with guys instead of girls? I have no problem with you being friends with Elia."

Catelyn felt relieved, she liked Elia, but Lyanna and Brienne were probably her best friends, so she didn't like the idea of having to choose. She knew most girls would forbid their friends to be friends with their boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. She had heard of a few things Cersei had done to girls who didn't follow those rules.

They walked to Brienne's and Rhaegar's classroom. Rhaegar was already outside and he immediately pulled Lya to his arms. She rested against his chest while he kissed the top of her head. Catelyn felt like a third-wheel, but she knew they needed to wait for Brienne, most times she was the last one to hand over the test.

The teacher had started threatening that she would leave without the test if people didn't hand them over quickly. Brienne finally finished hers.

"So how did it go?" Rhaegar asked from behind Lyanna.

"I don't know. You?"

"Fine, I think. But question 4 was really tricky. By the end I was making stuff up."

"I know, I got stuck on it too."

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad Miss Tarth and Mr. Targaryen. Miss Stark - see you're not late for class today." The teacher snapped as she left the classroom.

"Hate her." Lyanna mouthed. "Always picking on me."

"I need to go to my locker." Brienne said. Catelyn offered to accompany her, while Rhaegar and Lyanna stayed in the same position, whispering to each other.

"Have you talked to Ned, yet?"

"No. But I have the next class with him... So I guess I'll see him then." She said smiling, she was hopeful about what he had to say.

When the break ended and she made her way to the class, she saw that Ned was already inside next to Robert. Ned gave her one of his rare smiles. She smiled back.

The class flew by. She was packing her things before leaving the classroom when Ned was by the door talking to Robert. When Robert saw her looking over, he patted Ned's back and walked away.

"Catelyn, can we talk?"

"Sure."

"Maybe, somewhere quieter." She agreed and they both walked around, until Catelyn pointed to an empty classroom, he followed behind her.

The classroom was almost pitch dark, with most curtains closed, neither of them made a move to turn on the lights, liking the room as it was. When she turned around, Ned was leaning against a table. She looked at him, he looked at her, neither of them knowing what to say.

"So..." She started.

"Right. Maybe I should go first." He said. "I talked to him, yesterday, and..."

"And?" Catelyn asked impatiently.

"He said he didn't mind."

She smiled at him.

"So, Catelyn Tully, would you like to be my girlfriend?" Ned asked looking at his feet, like they were the most interesting thing in the world. Catelyn was blushing as a red as a tomato when she approached him. She lifted his chin so he could see her smile lighting up all of her face. She kissed him, softly at first – like their first, or the one from the day before – but quickly deepened it. It was obvious he hadn't his brother expertise, especially when their noses bumped and then their teeth clashed awkwardly when Ned opened his mouth. They pulled apart and he muttered, "I'm sorry... I just..."

"Ned, don't feel embarrassed. Why did you... you know?!" She asked blushing again; he had been so eager this time, more than others. He looked too nervous to answer so she took his hand.

"I thought that was what you wanted. I was trying to do what Brandon does."

"Ned, I like you and I'm dating you, not Brandon. I liked how we kissed yesterday." He seemed to give a sigh of relief.

"I'm glad. Before you, I had only kissed Ashara Dayne; I don't know what I'm doing."

Ashara Dayne, she seems to follow me everywhere, Catelyn thought. And then she wondered how come he had never been kissed? He was handsome and smart, but then she remembered that he seemed to live in the shadow of his older brother and of his best friend.

"Just follow my lead." And she kissed him again, now standing between his legs as he sat on the table. She kissed him softly, and he followed her lead – there were no tongues or bites or anything else. She felt his hand on her hair, interlocking his fingers with the locks of her auburn hair; she liked the feeling, and in response she squeezed his other hand a bit tighter.

When they finally pulled away, Ned put a lock of her hair behind her ear and whispered, "I really like your hair."

She giggled at the compliment. "Thank you, Ned. I think..." But she was interrupted by the bell ringing. "Oh... No... We're late." She said, worried and already pulling away. She picking up her bag from a table near by, while Ned was already holding the door open for her.

"Thank you." They both walk in a fast pace to their next classroom. When they finally reached the class, the door was still open but the teacher was already inside.

Glancing at her before he knocked, Nedasked, "Can you have lunch with us, I mean at the table where I sit?" She nodded and he finally knocked on the door.

"We're sorry we're late, but may we come in?"

As the professor let them in, Catelyn noticed the knowing smirk on Robert's face when Ned sat beside him.

The professor didn't make any other comment on their delay, but Robert pretty much spent the entire class making innuendos and throwing paper balls at her. By the end of the class they were both waiting for her at the door, Robert immediately threw his arm around her shoulders.

"So, Neddy here told me you're eating with us."

"If I can." She asked him and he laughed.

"For sure. It's not everyday that Ned has a girlfriend."

"Robert..." Ned moaned from behind them.

"He's afraid I'm going to embarrass him." Robert whispered to her, standing really close. He pulled away very quickly, just before she heard Lya's voice – she asked herself how could he knew it was her, just by the smell or footsteps, and then she reached the conclusion that Lyanna must have been such a constant in his life, that she was almost like a part of himself.

"So, I guess it went well."

"Very. He asked me to eat with them. You don't mind, right?"

"Of course not. Have fun, that table is a riot." Lyanna said sarcastically. Catelyn didn't like the sound of that.

Catelyn bought a tuna salad and a soda, before apprehensively walking over to his table. The boy in front of Ned gave him a look, pointing at Catelyn. Ned stood up to introduce her.

"So... this is Catelyn Tully, guys."

"I apologize in advance if they are inappropriate. They aren't used to real ladies." Robert said winking at her. "Let her sit, man." He said, patting Ned on the back. Ned took the hint, holding her tray so she could sit and then sliding in next to her.

"I'm Howland Reed." The boy in front of Ned introduced himself, followed by the others,

"Jory."

"Vayon, but everybody calls me Vay."

"Harwin." She recognized that face from somewhere out with school.

"Sorry, but do you live in Riverrun?"

"No, Winterfell born and raised. But I have a part-time job at the Brotherhood Without Banners."

"Oh... That seems interesting." Catelyn said truthfully, and kept on asking him questions about his job and then what the other boys liked to do in their free time (which only led to three inappropriate comments – Catelyn had expected more). By the middle of lunch, they had begun telling embarrassing stories of Ned.

She understood what a close knit group they were. Robert was his best friend and the other three had grown up in the same town and schools as Ned.

"There was that time, when we were eight, he asked the teacher if going at it like rabbits meant hopping and eating carrots!"

"In my defence I didn't actually know what that meant back then."

She laughed at his innocence. She was sure she hadn't know what going at it like rabbits meant at eight either.

"The best one was..."

"Don't tell her that." Ned pleaded.

"No reprieve dude, this is the best one! So we were kids, and Lya was actually taller than most girls, and Ned hadn't grown yet, so they were both around the same height. Brandon had the bright idea of dressing him as a girl…"

"Robert..."

"Shut up Ned. This is hilarious. Cat, you want to hear it, right?"

All of them looked at her, waiting for an answer. Even the look of growing panic on Ned's face couldn't prevent her from wanting to hear this. So she smiled at Ned, taking his hand under the table, and turned to Robert saying, "Go on."

Robert cleared his throat and restarted the tale.

"So, on with the story. As you can guess, Lya wasn't big on girl's clothes, so we had to go to his mother's closet." Catelyn smiled at the idea of the three boys and a younger Lyanna going through a woman's closet. "We picked a dress, white... I think..."

Please tell me it wasn't his mother's wedding dress?

"It was grey." Jory said.

"Were you there too?" Jory tried to answer, but Robert stopped him.

"Don't tell her yet, that's the best part!"

She heard Ned mutter something. She quietly asked him if he wanted her to ask them to stop.

"If they don't tell you now, they'll only do it later. Let's just get it over with guys."

"Okay, we went all out, dress, high heels..."

"They were not high heels! They were boots with a very small heel." Ned said, finally joining in the telling of the story.

"...Lya did his hair and make up, jewellery. He was beautiful; I wanted to kiss him myself." Robert said, blowing his best friend a kiss. "Now the best part, do you want to do the honours, Ned?"

Ned shrugged his shoulders and continued, "So they lead me down the stairs, Brandon does a giant introduction."

"Miss Eddara Stark, the fairest maid in all Westeros." Jory said.

"I walk down the stairs and my Dad had to choose that night to have a business dinner."

Catelyn didn't mean to, but she laughed, she really laughed. Everyone could hear her. Ned let go of her hand so he could bury his face in his hands.

Scared that she had made him mad or sad, Catelyn pulled his hands away from his face and kissed him gently, forgetting the full canteen. She was so lost in the kiss, that she didn't realise people were hooting and whistling until she pulled away.

After awhile, Robert started a burping contest. That was a great excuse for Ned to finally take her away from their table.

"Sorry for the guys." He whispered when they were walking out off the canteen.

"It was fun." She said smiling. When they were outside, she took his hand. "So what are you doing until our P.E. class? I have the school paper."

"Maybe I can wait until you're done."

"I like the idea." She smiled at him again; she couldn't believe how happy she was.

After a while of sitting on the bleachers talking, she left to go to her meeting. It took longer than she thought and after that she started working on one of the articles. She couldn't concentrate and decided to take it outside to try and write it there. She sat down near where Ned was playing basket with Robert and Brandon, but she put it aside altogether when Brienne took a seat next to her.

"So you and Ned are official now?"

"I guess so." She knew Brienne was making an effort to make some girl talk. What are you doing here, today? I thought you didn't have classes."

"Extra-football practice." She still couldn't believe how she got to play with the boys. It was just a violent game, one she played really well.

"Tarth! Cover for Ned, and let the love birds go." Brandon said. Catelyn felt good, Brandon was giving his seal of approval to her relationship with Ned.

"So where to?" Ned asked, taking her hand.

"We have twenty minutes, before I need to get dressed."

"So what about, we just sit on the grass and talk."

"I like the idea."

They ended up not talking, and with Catelyn closing her eyes against his shoulder…

"Catelyn, class… we need to go."

"Sure…" She mumbled. They kissed before each of them went their way. The girls in the locker room were looking at her funny, until one of the girls who was always with Cersei made her way over and asked.

"Are you actually dating Ned Stark?"

"Yes." She answered, without wanting to talk about it with some random girl.

While she got dressed she heard the girls whispering, wondering why she could possibly choose Ned over Brandon, and suggesting she was just using Ned. The only person that was actually defending her or Ned, surprisingly, had been Ashara – she seemed to hold Ned in much higher esteem thanshe held Brandon. I just hope that doesn't mean anything more.

After they left the changing room, and ran the usual 8 minutes, the teacher told them to make teams. Ned was the first to choose, he called her name first – I have never been chosen first in PE class before – and she immediately blushed when Jaime Lannister whistled and sang Ned and Catelyn in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.


Brandon Stark

He was lying naked in the bed, his hand tracing her body like he had done a million times before. He kissed her shoulder and tried to pull her to him, but she rolled away, trying to get up.

"You should go."

"Why?!" He asked trying to reach for her again.

"Because you're needy right now."

"I'm not needy." He said sitting up in bed. She got out of bed, turning to him.

Oh… God… her body is glorious, the pale skin, the waves of black hair, the piercing violet eyes…

"Yes, you are. You're fucking needy, because Ned is dating your ex-girlfriend."

"Ash…"

"You know I don't care about what you feel about her or any of the other girls. But one of the things I'm not is your babysitter."

"For God's sake… Ashara…" But she was already getting dressed.

"Brandon, I'm just asking you to leave. You never had a problem with that before."

"Fuck…" He swore, mad at Ashara's attitude. He threw on his boxers, pants and sneakers before he left the house, putting his shirt on, while walking out of the door and crashing against someone – Elia Martell.

"Elia." He greeted Ashara's roommate.

"Hi, Brandon. I hope everything is good wit..." But he disappeared down the stairs before she could finish her sentence.

As he left the apartment building and walked the short distance to the bus station, he couldn't get her words out of his head, I'm not needy; I do not need someone...

But ten minutes later he was calling Barbrey, and thirty minutes after that, he had her against the wall of some tacky bar – where the only other people besides the bartender at four in the afternoon were drunks, losers and men regretting they ever got married.

After he came, he pulled away from her, threw the used condom in the trash, pulled his pants and boxers up from his knees and walked out of the stall. He threw a few bills to the bartender to pay for the beer he had ordered while he waited for Barbrey to arrive – it was still at the counter, getting warmer.

"Can I have it?" The man at the table by the door asked, Brandon wasn't sure if he meant the beer or the girl, but either way, he answered, "sure."

He walked out of the smoky bar and down the street, wanting to hit something, somebody…

"Brandon! Wait up!" He heard Barbrey yell.

"What do you want, Barbrey?"

"I thought we could spend some time together, today. A movie, dinner, spend the night at my place."

"I don't think your father would like the idea." Even if it sounded good to spend time with someone… for fuck's sake, Brandon, this is annoying, man up…

Barbrey took him by the hand to a back alley along the way and pushed him against the wall next to the garbage. She dropped to her knees, unzipped his jeans and took him in her mouth – but she didn't let him touch her even once and pulled away before he could shoot his load.

"Are you fucking kidding me?"

"Promise, you will go to the movies with me."

"What?"

"Come with me or I'll leave you hanging." She said with a strong voice, knowing how she should play him. So he nodded, feeling defeated, and said, "Just keep going."

This time he twisted his hands in her hair and made her do the job right. When she pulled away she smiled up at him, before carefully spiting out his cum. He zipped up his jeans and helped her up. Knowing he had been more of a jerk than usual, he decided to apologize.

"I'm sorry I was being such a cunt."

"No problem, but you better make me cum in the movies. "He laughed at her answer, and he remembered why he kept her number in his phone – she had one of the dirtiest mouths around Westeros and would do pretty much everything he asked if she receive something in return.

They walked to the mall in King's Landing and paid for the boring movie made two hundred years ago, that neither of them planned on watching, they made it to the last row, ignoring the old folks just five rows down, and in the moment the lights were down, he pulled her into his lap.


"Sir, Miss… Sorry…" He heard someone say, while being pushed on his shoulder, he opened his eyes, and saw a teenage boy with red hair and pimples trying to wake him, looking to his left side Barbrey was sleeping on his shoulder. "The movie is over, sir."

"You don't need to call me sir, I'm your age."

"They need to clean the room, if you and your girlfriend could leave."

"Sure, but she's not my girlfriend."

The boy left and Brandon stood up and noticed that he still had his pants unzipped. He fixed that problem and then tried to comb his hair before trying to wake Barbrey up – she was actually peaceful while sleeping. Thinking back, this was probably the first time they had fallen asleep together, after fucking for so long. Just another thing that confirmed maybe Ashara had been right and that left him pissed again. He took a deep breath to calm down and tried to wake her up.

"Barbrey… Barbrey… we need to go…"

"Just five more minutes, William." Oh… God… She is actually dating William Dustin… He was an old childhood friend of Brandon; they had pretty much grown up together.

"It's Brandon. We are at the movies; they need to clean the room."

"Right…" She said waking up. "How long have I been out?"

"I think just after we… you know."

"Right." She stood up, and fixed her dress and then made a weird face, coming closer to Brandon, she whispered in his ear. "I think you have my panties." He put his hand in his jacket's pocket and found them. He gave them to her and she put them on discreetly.

They walked out of the movies together and the boy was waiting at the exit.

"Thank you, man." Brandon said to him, giving him a tip for the bother.

"So, where are we going now?"

"I need to go home."

"But you promised dinner." She said.

"Sorry, but I really can't. Rain check?" Brandon said, trying not to make her awfully mad at him.

"Okay." They walked to the bus station and caught the same bus, since they both lived up north. They barely talked during the journey but he stayed awake until she got off first. Only then did he fall asleep for the rest of the trip home.

Brandon got home just in time for dinner. His siblings had ordered Chinese food, since father was out and Old Nan hadn't had the time to cook anything for them. He sat with them at the table, while Benjen was asking questions about Catelyn.

"You have already seen her; she used to be my girlfriend." Brandon said, trying to keep any resentment from his voice – because he was truly happy about Ned and Catelyn, no matter what fucking Ashara said.

"You bring a lot of girls over. I can't remember them all; especially since they never leave your room."

"Shut up, Ben. At least I have one."

"Brandon, he's 10." Ned said sounding scandalized. "He doesn't need one."

"Sure, he doesn't." He said with a mocking voice, winking his eye at Brandon.

Ned ended up ignoring them, especially when Brandon asked. "So how's having your first girlfriend?"

Ned kept his eyes down, playing with his food.

"Come on, Ned."

"It's amazing…" He whispered, and both Brandon and Lyanna laughed at his answer.

"Shut up!"

"Of course, lover boy." Brandon said, still laughing, getting back to his food. He thought, I like seeing Ned like this; Cat will do him good…


After dinner, Brandon was in his room, listening to Pink Floyd and looking through one of the magazines he kept on his bedside table (not porn!), when someone knocked on his door.

"Can I come in?" He heard his sister ask. He was the only one out of the brothers who she asked before entering their room, since she caught him in a rather compromising position.

"Sure." He said putting the magazine aside.

"Was that porn?!" She asked right after he entered.

"Lya!"

"It's not like I've never seen it, Robert has his share around his room, there were a few times that we..."

"Shut up, Lya... Way too much information!"

She ignored him and sat on his bed.

"So what brings you to my room?"

"I wanted to know how you're hanging with the fact that Ned is dating Catelyn."

"What?! I'm okay with it, I'm happy for them, thinking 'bout it, they make a great couple..."

"But…?"

"But I don't know. I think I'm a bit jealous..."

"Brandon, don't..."

"I know, Lya. I would never do that to Ned and I know that I would just end up hurting Red again - and I do want her to be happy. I'm pretty sure Ned can make her happy."

"Oh... So..."

"Can I tell you something someone told me today?"

"Sure." She said with curiosity.

"Ashara told me that right now, I was needy and she sent me away…"

"Okay…"

"I was sure I wasn't, but then I ended up calling Barbrey and spending the afternoon with her."

"You sent the afternoon with Barbrey Ryswell?!" She asked laughing.

"Shut up!" He said kicking her shin. "And I know it's not like I wanted…"

"It seems you did."

"Ash kicked me out, so…"

"And there weren't any other girls you could call?!"

If he thought about it, Ashara was the only one he'd been with since the beginning of the month.

"God?! Are you actually being exclusive with Ashara?! You know she might be sleeping with five or more other guys?"

"I guess I forgot my own rule not to date anyone."

"Give me your phone."

"What?!"

"Give me your phone." He threw it at her, and she lay back and started scrolling through his contacts, shouting out girl's names. But he had an answer for every one, along the lines of…

"She has a boyfriend."

"Caught me in bed with her sister."

"Caught me in bed with her best friend…and her worst enemy."

"Mary – bread girl?"

That was cute girl from the coffee house, the one he met the morning after he slept with the woman who thought he was a virgin – she was hot and flirty.

"I met her in a coffee house in the Stormlands."

His sister nodded and started to text. "What are you doing, Lya?"

"Getting you a date. So you don't need to be on a leash with either Ashara or Barbrey, especially since one of them is a slut and the other has a boyfriend."

"Ash is not a slut."

"She is as much of a slut as you."

Lya said, sticking her tongue out, while she kept texting. "So it's done. You have a date this weekend, her name is Mary Mertyns."

"Okay. So where are we going?"

"I'm not doing everything for you! You just need to pick her up at the coffee house where you met. Also, she asked if our aunt was better. I didn't even know she was sick." She said sarcastically.

"I told her I was staying with my aunt because she broke her hip."

Lyanna laughed and mouthed, "A-S-S." She picked up the phone when it rang again. "She says her parents are out this weekend, winky face." This was good, his expectations for the weekend soared – he was rather looking forward to it now.

"Thank you, Lya." He said with a smirk. "Now, scoot." He commanded.

"Why?!" She said lying down next to him. "Let me stay, please…" She pouted.

"Oh… Fuck it! Stay!"

"Yeah!" She said, throwing herself in the bed and lifting one of the magazines from his bedside table. "Please… not be porn…" She whispered and Brandon hit her shoulder.


It was Saturday, just a few days after the mess with Ashara (and Barbrey); Ashara had been ignoring him since, still standing by the notion she wouldn't be his babysitter, and he had safely kept away from Barbrey – now knowing that calling her had been a lapse of judgment.

So he was quite excited about tonight and had big expectations of the coffee house girl. He had talked to her on the phone and they had agreed to go to go nice restaurant called Griffin's Roost.

But there were still a few hours left before his date, so he was relaxing on the couch, zapping through the channels until he found something interesting to watch – it ended up being cartoons, Hey Arnold!, when the doorbell rang. He stood up, since nobody else was home besides Ned, who was still upstairs getting ready. On the other side of the door, a beautiful vision...

"I think you look more beautiful every time I see you."

"Flattery will get you nowhere, Brandon."

"I hope not, Red, since you're dating my baby brother." He smiled at her, and held the door open for her.

"Always the gentleman." She said, smiling back at him. "Really Brandon?…Hey Arnold!?"

"You know it?!" He asked surprised and then defended his choice. "It's fun."

"I have a kid brother."

"Right… How are they doing?" He didn't know how, but being in this room with just her was weird and not weird at the same time. He didn't know what to say and she didn't either, but none of that seemed to matter anymore. At least she looked happy.

"Good. But I wanted to speak to you. Can we sit?"

"Sure." He took his pace on the couch and she sat on the armchair.

"So I know Ned spoke with you, before we started officially dating, but I think I should have a word with you too."

"What, Cat?! I'm totally fine with it."

"Brandon, I think I know you a bit too well for that."

"Just ignore me, Cat. It's a bit weird, of course. But if I think about it, you and Ned make a much better couple that we did, and I mean it when I said you deserved better. Ned is the better you could have." He told her sincerely. "Don't tell him I said that."

"Thank you. You know I never meant to do this, that this wasn't planned…"

"Oh… Cat… For fuck's sake, do you ever think I would believe those stupid rumours? I know you would never hurt innocent people."

"And I would hurt others?!"

"Oh… Sure…" He said laughing. "You have that fierce fire inside you; you could gut someone alive if they messed with your family." She smiled, knowing it was true.

"So no hard feelings between us? And no impending fights between you and your brother?"

"Oh… no way. Besides that, Ned has already punched me." When he said that, she looked truly shocked.

"What?!"

"Do you remember that time I told you I was mugged?"

"Vaguely."

"It was Ned. I only figured out it was because of you a few days ago, but still…"

"Really?!"

"Really what?" Ned asked, coming down the stairs, still trying to dry his hair, messier than usually.

"You punched your brother." She said before kissing Ned's cheek.

"You know you can kiss him properly in front of me, right?!" Brandon said, and Ned decided to give her a quick peck on the lips, before shyly trying to put his arm around her waist.

"That was a long time ago."

"But Brandon just told me it was because of me."

"No." Ned said too quickly. It was obvious to both Catelyn and Brandon that he was lying.

"So I was talking about a date with some girl." Brandon said, but remembering who he was talking to, he gave her an apologetic look. "And Ned was bitching about me being unfaithful like he usually does, but it was the first time he hit me for it – so it was obvious this girl was different. He didn't want his crush to get hurt. So noble of him."

Ned looked away, feeling ashamed that his story had been revealed, but Catelyn stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. Brandon heard her whisper Thank you.

"So I think it's time for us to go." Ned said. "I just need to go hang up my towel."

"I can do that." Brandon offered. "Go have fun, boy." He said smirking to his brother.

"Thank you, for everything." Ned said.

"Don't mention it. And it was good to talk to you, Red."

"Likewise. Take care, Brandon." She said, smiling at him, before taking his brother by the arm.

He hung up the towel and then sat in the same chair he had sat inbefore, with his foot on the coffee table, and kept watching cartons, even after Hey Arnold! ended. When he saw time was getting short, he quickly got dressed and threw on some cologne, before locking the house and driving to the Stormlands to the sound of Guns N Roses, rather excited about his date.

He parked the car in front of the small coffee house that was already closed. As Mary hadn't arrived yet, he got out of the car, locked it and sat on one of the chairs the owner of the coffee shop had left outside. He pulled out his cell phone to play the Snake game, so time would pass quicker, until he heard someone clear their throat behind him, making him turn off the game and look around to see who it was.

When he turned he saw her, she looked amazing, so beautiful…, not that she hadn't looked it last time – he wouldn't have called her if she wasn't.

"I hope you haven't been waiting for long." She said nervously.

"Of course not." He stood up and led her to his car. "You look beautiful, by the way."

"You clean up nice too, Brandon." She said getting into the car. She fiddled with his radio, putting on some pop station.

"So where are you from?" She asked, trying to make conversation.

"Winterfell, but I go to King's Landing High School."

"Oh... You're one of those posh kids." He hated when they jumped to that conclusion based solely on the school he went to – the Lannisters are posh not me.

"I'm not fucking posh. My father just wanted me to get a better education."

"So you are pretty much calling me dumb." She yelled outraged, the fury on her face reminded him of Lyanna... or Ashara...

"For Fuck's sake, of course not." He didn't actually want to ruin the date and the chance of getting laid. "I didn't mean that, I'm sure you're smart, even smarter than me."

"How can I know that even means anything, you could be as daft as a bush! I don't even know you."

"I'm not daft!" He shouted back, but soon he was laughing, giving up the stupid fight.

"Can we please don't have this stupid fight?! I just wanted to make clear I'm not posh and you're not dumb."

"Okay, I think I can agree with that." She said, finally smiling at him again, and then she muttered. "Even if I still think you're a bit posh." In reply, he swatted her leg, exclaiming, "Hey! I heard that."

She gave him one of her cheeky smiles, and rested her hand on his upper thigh, but without moving it higher or lower, or even squeezing. He found her hand reassuring. "So tell me a bit about you." Brandon asked trying to make her more comfortable.

The girl could go on forever, she must have told him about her entire life – at least that was what it seemed – he had found out that her parents were still married, she had two older brothers away in college, her favourite animal was the owl, she loved the color grey and her best friends were named… Fuck, I can't remember.

When they finally arrived to the restaurant, it was completely full and he had a hard time finding a parking place.

"Sorry, Mary. But I think we need to park a block away."

"No problem. Walking one block, never killed anyone."

"I'm not so sure." He turned off the engine and they got out of the car and started to walk the distance to the restaurant.

"See, it wasn't that tiring." She said, while they entered the restaurant. Brandon gave the maitre d' his name and he led them to their table in the back, Brandon forgot to hold out the chair for Mary to sit, but luckily one of the waiters close by did, smiling at his date.

"This is beautiful…" She whispered looking around. "And now you've proved you're really rich." He didn't know how to answer that, so he changed the subject and they both looked at the restaurant's menus. She tried to guess what some of the dishes with weird names were, but soon she gave up and told him to choose for her.

He ended up choosing some of the simpler stuff. For her he chose something with chicken and he just chose the usual. They both chose sodas to drink, since Brandon knew perfectly well his fake I.D. wouldn't pass here.

"Is it any good? What've you ordered?"

"I think so. I hope you like yours. It's just chicken with greenstuff."

"Okay. Thanks. I'm not used to eat in places like this. Maybe, next time we can go somewhere else." She was trying to evaluate his plans for her. He didn't want to ruin his chances of getting laid tonight, but he didn't know how to answer without lying – he didn't plan to go out with her again, that would break the no dating rule he had just re-established. A single date was one thing, but two…

While he was thinking what to say, he felt her bare foot really high on his thigh, so close… Fuck it, it's my rule, I can change it to five dates tops.

"Sure. You choose." She smiled and dropped her foot back into her high heels, right before the waiter came to serve their drinks.

"So I talked the entire journey here, tell me something about you."

"I'm Brandon."

"I know that. I want more."

"I have three siblings, I'm the oldest." He didn't know what else to say, so she started asking.

"Age?"

"Eighteen." She looked surprised, he wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing.

"Future?"

"Not sure. But hoping I can have a career in basketball." Probably the only place I can have decent shot at a future.

"Wow. That's cool."

"Do you play any sports?" He asked. He wasn't a fan of answering personal questions about himself. He could talk for hours about anything, unless it was personal.

"Oh... No, sports, that's such a boy thing." She said with such certainty that he was sure that was exactly what she thought. He couldn't disagree more, remembering his sister who probably played every sport in the list, the way Catelyn's face lit up when she talked about dancing or swimming, or Barbrey playing soccer when she was younger, and Ashara who said she used to play tennis with her brother in Starfall, but most of all he remembered Brienne who was in their football team and could play better than most guys in the team – even me, if I had the guts to admit it.

"So about your future, what do you want to do?" He asked, not knowing what to say to her previous comment.

"I already told you in the car, don't you remember?"

Fuck! I'm fucked now. But luckily that was when the food was served, and then when they started eating the issue was forgotten.

They both ate in silence, with only a few comments between them about the food – luckily Mary had liked the dish he had chosen for her (more points for me!), and by the end they were both full, neither of them wanting desert (or coffee).

He paid for everything and he noticed that Mary didn't argue about it. He couldn't understand how that always happened in the movies. In all the dates he had been on, less than a handful of woman had ever offered to pay – Catelyn had been one of them (he wondered how Ned, always the gentleman, was dealing with that).

They left the restaurant and she took his arm and the walk to the car seemed longer than before, especially as her fingers kept squeezing his biceps, and she kept showing her flashy and flirty grin. They only let got of each other when they reached the car, but before she got in, she stood on her toes and kissed his lips. He tried to deepen it but she quickly pushed him away. Nobody mentioned the kiss while he drove her back home and he tried to figure out what she had decided to do tonight; he was sure of her choice when she said, "There's usually parking places around the back."

"Right. Thank you."

He parked the car, and they quickly got out. He followed her inside the building and then up the stairs, while she released the hair from her ponytail, smiling at him over her shoulder. Mary quickly unlocked the door of her apartment, Brandon looked around and it was empty like she promised, it was obviously a family apartment with family photos, drawings made by kids and small trophies on the shelves.

"My room is in the end of the hall." She said, taking his hand. When they entered she immediately closed the door, the only thing he noticed before her lips were planted on his were the yellow walls.

"God… Mary…" He whispered between kisses, and she was already ripping his clothes off, throwing him on the bed.

"Oh… Stark… We are going to have fun." She said climbing his body, straddling him with a smirk on her lips. What have I gotten myself into?!

Chapter Text

Elia Martell

I should be home already. But instead Elia was stuck at the Citadel library doing research for Ashara's part of their project work, with her bags next to her.

Before she left her apartment, she reminded Ashara of the importance of this project for their grade. They needed to finish it and the holiday would be the perfect opportunity. Elia finally learned that her friend hadn't even started her part of the project (which was a lot less than Elia's to begin with). Ashara said she would do it, that she was going to a college party, but she would leave earlier so she could go to the library – but Elia knew her best friend and was pretty sure she would forget it.

So there she was, looking through a few books and taking notes of important things related to Ashara's theme. She would then give them to Ash and ask her to write the essay about it, even if I have to re-read it and re-write parts of it. When she heard a laugh in the library, she looked up – besides being weird since people didn't usually laugh in there, she also thought she recognized the laugh – and saw Catelyn and Ned sitting right at the table behind her – they seemed to be working on their project as well.

Catelyn blushed when people had started looking at her after her laugh; it was then she noticed Elia and waved at her to come sit with them.

"Hi. I hope I'm not interrupting anything." Elia said, while she put her books down.

"Of course not." Catelyn said smiling, while both she and Ned stood up and helped her with her bags and the rest of the books. "Are you going somewhere?"

"Home. To spend Thanksgiving with my family."

"I hope you have fun. I can't imagine how it would be to live without seeing my family everyday."

"It's hard. But living with Ash helps, she's always been like a sister to me." Catelyn nodded her agreement before getting back to work. Elia found herself interrupting her own work many times to stop and watch the interactions between them. Catelyn was reading a book, while Eddard was reading and scrawling over an already written piece of paper, but she noticed how Cat kept her hand resting on the arm he wasn't using and seemed to lean a bit to his side. They looked good together. They reminded her of Rhaegar and herself and how they used to do that. Elia remembered being in his bed reading over the poetry he had written while he read another book and just resting against him, his hand comfortingly covering hers. She shook her head, trying to push those images away again. It was bad enough spending the weekend dealing with Oberyn telling her that he could hurt Rhaegar for her if she wished – she always said no, but sometimes she just wished she could say yes so much.

Elia kept working while still checking her watch every few minutes, not wanting to miss the afternoon bus to Sunspear. When she finally finished her research, she noticed she still had more than an half an hour until the bus was due. Looking up from her books, it seemed Eddard and Catelyn had finished too and were whispering something to each other.

"We are going out for a cup of coffee. Do you want to come with us?" Catelyn asked.

"I don't want to intrude or anything." Elia said, really meaning it.

"You aren't, I promise. We're friends, after all." Catelyn smiled and Elia agreed to go with them. They stowed the books away and Elia picked up her bag.

"I can take it." Eddard offered.

"It's no problem. It's mine I can carry it."

"I know. But let me anyway."

Elia looked at Catelyn for help.

"Just let him carry it. If you don't, he won't shut up." So Elia let him carry it.

"Thank you, Eddard."

"You can call me Ned." He told her.

"Thank you, Ned." Elia said to him. Catelyn walked beside her while they talked, with Ned a bit behind. When they arrived to the coffee shop, they dropped their things at a table near a window. Ned offered to go order their drinks.

"Congratulations to both of you." Elia said to Catelyn when Eddard… Ned left the table.

"Thank you." Catelyn said blushing and looking over at him – she seemed truly happy. From what Ashara had told her, he was a great guy; a much better man than his brother. Elia used to ask Ashara why wasn't she with Ned if she thought that. Ashara only answered, because I'm stupid. From what Elia knew of him, he seemed polite and intelligent.

"So did you get to finish your work?" Catelyn asked, trying to change the subject.

"Almost. But we will finish on time. You?"

"Same." She muttered, as Ned returned giving each of them their drink and sitting next to Catelyn, while they both thanked him.

They made small talk over coffee (or in Elia's case, tea), talking about school, and then what they planned to do in this mini-holidays – not much different thanher, just spending time with their family.

When it was finally time for her to catch the bus home, they accompanied her to the station and waited with her. When she could finally board, she wished them a good thanksgiving and found her seat in the big bus.

She pushed her feet under her butt and rested her head to the window, looking outside, seeing the familiar sights of Dorne – realising how much had she missed home. The drive was long and the bus uncomfortable but she knew it would be worth it.

When the bus finally arrived in Sunspear, the sun had already set. It was pitch dark, but she could see the outline of a boy leaning against the bus stop, smoking – what, she could only guess was – a spliff probably, with his sunglasses still on. While she stood up and got her bags, he put his spliff out, and quickly ran to her, lifting her in a hug.

"I missed you so much." He said.

"I missed you too, Oberyn." Her brother was only one year younger than her and they had always been close; mother said she was the one who kept him grounded.

He pulled away and set her carefully back on the ground. Then she really looked at him; he was now much taller than her, his black hair was shaggy and lustrous as ever. He was bare chested under his leather jacket.

"Aren't you cold?" She asked immediately.

"For fuck's sake, we are in Dorne." He yelled, and made his way to a motorcycle parked near by.

"Oberyn, you're not old enough to drive!"

"Are you sure?! I have a driving license that tells me the complete opposite." He said, climbing on the bike, offering her the helmet.

"Does mom know?"

"Yes! Now climb on."

"My bag?" She asked not knowing where to put it.

"Fuck." He muttered. "Just wait a second." He opened a pannier fastened to one side of his motorcycle. It was a big, fancy bike and she was sure it hadn't been cheap. Then she noticed the legend Harley Davidson stencilled in gold lettering on the tank. "A beauty, isn't she?" He asked, stroking his bike as if she was a lover. Now put the helmet on and let's go."

"Don't you have an extra one? You could get hurt."

"Nah… It's me." So she put his helmet on – beautifully customised with a red viper and climbed on behind him. She held him tight while he drove through the streets of her hometown.

He took the longer route, to avoid traffic, but finally she saw her family home, as grand as ever. He parked the bike at the entrance and she felt all of the happiness of her childhood coming back; running around with Oberyn, and the Dayne siblings.

"Missing home, sister? You know you're always welcome here." Oberyn said, while they got off the motorcycle. He grabbed her bag and took out his key from his pocket to open the door.

He had barely pushed it open when their mother was smothering her with a hug.

"Why do I never get this kind of welcome?!" Oberyn moaned. Her mother just swatted Oberyn on the back of his head.

"It's so good to have you home, Elia."

"I missed you too, mom."

"And me too. I hope." Oberyn said, before mother gave a sigh and pulled him into the middle of the family hug. When they finally moved away, his mother whispered.

"I sincerely don't know how to handle your brother."

"Hey! Mom, I'm your son too!" Oberyn exclaimed.

"Did you see what he rides now? Before I know it, he will be piercing his skin and getting tattoos." So, I guess he hasn't told her about the pierced nipple – I wonder how he hides it, it's almost visible under his leather jacket – and the three tattoos he already has.

"Keep talking like I'm not here."

"Sorry, Oberyn. Why don't you take your sister to her room?" Their mother suggested.

"Mom, I guess she still remembers where it is." Oberyn said, while he dropped onto the couch.

"I know. But it would be nice if, on your way up, you put on a shirt."

"Bummer." He said, before both teenagers went up to their own rooms. Her room looked exactly the same as when she was home last, just like before high school and before she moved to the capital.

She opened her closet to see what clothes she still had at home and quickly found herself facing something she didn't want to see – pairs of shirts, sweaters and jackets belonging to Rhaegar. She wondered what she should do. Maybe return the stuff; maybe clean out her closet, so it stopped smelling of Rhaegar? She knew she couldn't do it now, so she closed the door and just opened the bag on the floor. She was only here for the weekend; she could leave the clothes in the bag.

When she turned she saw blank spaces in the walls or just frames turned over – and she knew that they were more pictures of him. She picked up the one on her bedside table, next to one of her parents' wedding and another of a day where Doran took her, Oberyn and Ashara to the beach. It was from the summer week, Rhaegar had spent at Arthur's. He had his arms around her waist and was resting his head on her shoulder, whispering something in her ear, making her laugh; she traced his face with her finger, before putting it back again.

She heard a knock after a while of looking at space (or at least the imitation of it she had on her ceiling, covered with planets and stars, that glow in the dark), but she didn't see who it was until someone dropped in the bed next to her.

"Do you remember the mess we made putting that up there?" He pointed to the stars.

"We?… If I remember correctly you and Ashara were the ones who spilt the glue all over the floor and table and I was the one up the ladder doing all the work." Rhaegar, Arthur and I…

"Right… Why is it always my fault?"

"Have you met yourself, brother? And it's not always yours; sometimes it was Ashara's."

"Right?!" He said smiling. "Do you still like sharing an apartment with her?"

"Always an adventure, pretty much like living with you."

"About that…I have something to tell you."

"Kids! Dinner is ready!" Mom yelled from downstairs.

"Okay, I'll tell you later, Elia. Mom is making your favourite."

Mother had the table prepared in the kitchen and she could smell her mother's famous chilli.

"That smells so good." Oberyn said, while they both helped their mother set the rest of the table, her mother asked.

"How is your sugar level?"

"Mom…" Elia moaned. Her diabetes was something she didn't like talking about. While she lived here, everyone knew and they treated her differently – she was the sickly girl with all the allergies and that had to always check her blood. Now, in King's Landing, just Ashara and Rhaegar knew. They knew how to handle everything if something happened and she could trust them; but every time she came back home, her mom would want to control it, even if Elia had learned to deal with it over the years.

"Elia, I'm not letting you eat until you tell me."

"Mom, everything is fine. I check it regularly, like the doctor told me. I should be fine."

"Okay." Her mother said giving a deep breath. "And at P.E. classes?"

"I talked to my teacher, everything is working fine."

"Okay, what a relief. You know I worry about you, sweetie. Now pass me your plate." Mother served her, then Oberyn and finally herself, before asking. "So, Oberyn, are you taking your sister out?"

"Do you want to? We can paint the town red, big sister."

"I'm a bit tired today."

"What about Friday night? I can take you to the hottest clubs."

"Oberyn…" Their mom said with a warning voice, but her brother seemed to ignore it.

"Mom… I know how to behave." He said.

"Maybe." Elia said. She wasn't a big fan of clubs or parties; she had refused all of Ashara's invites, but maybe with her brother would be different. "And what are we doing tomorrow?" Elia asked.

"I'm making dinner, nothing special, but your bother…"

"No wait, I want to tell her." Oberyn interrupted. "Doran is bringing a girl for dinner."

"What?!" Elia said surprised, Doran was their older brother – almost ten years older than her – and in all that time, he had never brought a girl home.

"He says she's special, he met her in Essos – Norvos, I think." Elia was now excited to meet the girl who had won her brother's heart.

"Still can't believe she actually agreed to go out with him. He's so boring. I bet she's ugly."

"Oberyn! He's your brother, and I'm sure she's a nice girl. Behave, for Pete's sake."

"Sure, mom." The boy finished shoving his food down his throat, before standing up, cleaning his plate and going upstairs.

"You know, sweetie, Oberyn has missed you a lot."

"You could send in to King's Landing. I would look after him."

"Your brother is complicated and a ton of work. I need to make sure he stays in line, as far as possible. I knew you and Doran were too easy, too well behaved." Her mother went quiet after that, seemingly lost in memories, until Elia brought her back by asking.

"Will you need help tomorrow?"

"Not really. But I haven't decided what to do, maybe Doran's favourite." Doran's favourite food meant oven roasted fish with potatoes and vegetables – Oberyn wouldn't be happy with it. "Oh… I'm going to a prayer gathering in the cemetery for the lost Native American tribes in the morning, do you want to come?"

"Of course. Have you told Oberyn?"

"He said he would prefer to sleep." Mom answered.

Then Elia asked, "Doran's girlfriend, wouldn't she prefer to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family?"

"Doran told me that people in Essos rarely celebrate it, so she doesn't mind."

Nowadays their family saw this day as no different from others – the only difference was that they would start the day by paying their respects to the victims of the destroyed tribes. When they were still in elementary school, mom would go all out a make a big dinner with turkey and everything – even if their morning still belonged to the victims. After they turned ten, their parents didn't seem to think it made sense to celebrate it anymore and in the few years that followed, they even joined National Day of Mourning – the protest organised in New England

"You should go upstairs. Your brother must want to spend time with you." Elia offered to help her clean the table, but her mother just said she didn't need help.

Elia, curious about what her brother had wanted to tell her before dinner, immediately knocked on his door.

"Come in." Oberyn was lying in the bed, with his foot up the wall, and the window thrown open to scatter the cigarette's smoke (at least this time wasn't weed).

"Do you actually have to smoke in here?"

"I'm almost finished." Knowing how Elia didn't like the smell, he stood up to smoke by the window.

She took the chair by the desk and looked at the papers scattered in it – it was an absolute mess. He finished the smoke and lay down on the bed again.

"So what do you have to tell me?"

"Okay, this is serious." Oberyn said, and she wondered what he would say – the last time he said that he had broken their parents' special china that had been a wedding present.

"Okay, I'm listening."

"I… Me…"

"Just spill it out, Oberyn."

"Imayhavegottenagirlpregnant."

"What?!" She wasn't sure she understood it correctly.

"I got a girl pregnant."

"Oberyn! What do you mean by pregnant?!"

"I thought you knew how sex worked. So I insert…"

"For Pete's sake, stop. I know that, just how?! There are condoms, the pill, others…"

"The condom burst, it wasn't our fault."

"Of course not." She said sarcastically. "Couldn't the girl just take the morning-after pill?"

"I guess, she forgot."

"Who is she, by the way?" His brother looked to the floor and whispered.

"A stripper…"

"A stripper?! How can you be sure the baby is yours?"

"I said stripper, not hooker. And we did a paternity test; it's mine – 99.99% sure."

"Okay. What are you going to do?"

"I don't know. That's why I'm talking to you."

"I guess you haven't told mom."

"No."

"Start by doing that."

"Okay. She also told me, I'm supposed to take full responsibility for the baby."

"What does that mean?! Full custody?!"

"Yes."

"Does she know how old are you?"

"She may think I'm eighteen – I had to lie to fuck her." Elia took her hand to her aching head – and she wondered if she should laugh or cry.

"Okay, Oberyn, I'm sure we're going to work this out. But first step – talk to mom, she will know what to do."

"Thanks, big sister. I was sure I could count on you." Oberyn said, before they changed the subject to less preoccupying issues. It was past midnight, when mother came knocking, wishing them goodnight. A bit after that, she moved to her own room and fell asleep – dressed in one of the shirts Rhaegar had left behind. She hadn't been able to resist...


After the ceremony and picking some food on the way home, Elia decided to help her mother in the kitchen, since Oberyn quickly left after lunch.

"So, sweetling, how are things in King's Landing?"

"Good." She answered, but her mother kept looking at her, waiting for her. "Just say it, mom."

"What about Rhaegar?"

"Rhaegar is happy with Lyanna."

"And how do you feel?"

"Good."

"But you still slept in his shirt last night. That's not healthy."

"Mother… I can't get over him just like that."

"So maybe you should fight for him." Ashara has told me the same thing a million times, but I don't think I can. "You know, I had to fight for your father, and in the end I won. You're a Martell – unbowed, unbent, unbroken – own it."

"Mom. He's happy – and one thing I know is that when you love someone as much as I do, the important thing is to let him be happy."

"Oh… sweetie…" Her mother pulled her into her arms and she held herself so she wouldn't breakdown crying in her mother's arms. Her mother kissed the top of her head before letting go and getting back to dinner.

Mom ended up deciding to make Doran's favourite dish, but also grilled a burger on the side for Oberyn – to avoid his complaints.

Mother asked her to pull out the fancy china, wanting to impress her son's girlfriend. Elia prepared the table – liking the final result. Then she went to go get her clothes changed.

She was finishing the last touches when she heard the doorbell. She ran down the stairs and opened the door – her brother was whispering something in the girl's ear making her relax, at least until she saw her.

"Doran." She said hugging him; she had missed him too, even if they had never been as close as Oberyn and her.

"This is my sister Elia, and this is my girlfriend Mellario." He said introducing them.

"It's a pleasure to meet you." The girl said, followed by an awkwardness when they didn't know if they would handshake or trade two kisses in the cheek – they decided on the latter.

"It's an honour to meet you, too."

"Your brother talks a lot about you. Good things I swear." Mellario said with an easy smile. Elia was inclined to like the girl and see why Doran was so mesmerized with her.

"Thank you, Doran. Mother is still in the kitchen."

"Thank you." With his hand in Mellario's lower back, he led her to the kitchen, quickly she heard her mother's voice, excited to see her son and meet his girlfriend; Elia stepped outside, and looked at the time; Oberyn was supposed to be back already – she sat on the step waiting for him.

A half an hour later, she felt someone touching her shoulder – it was Mellario.

"No problem. But your mother said dinner was ready, and that your brother would appear soon."

"You're not bothering me. And I apologize for Oberyn's delay."

"Doran warned me about his brother reckless behaviour."

"Yes, but he shouldn't take long." They walked together to the dining room and Elia took the chair next to the girl.

It seemed the talk mother had before dinner wasn't enough, because it continued non-stop while they ate; how old was she? where was she from?, what did she want to do?, what did her parents do?... she seemed her mother wanted to know everything about this girl.

Suddenly they heard the door open, and their brother appeared.

"I'm so sorry I'm late. It was the traffic I promise." He said taking off his leather jacket and helmet, dropping them in a chair. "I'm just going to wash my hands; I'll be done in a minute." He came back, and shared a quickly hug with his brother and he looked actually surprised when he was introduced to Mellario.

"Wow… You're beautiful." He told her, Elia knew he didn't believe how his brother landed a girl like that.

"Thank you. Oberyn, right?"

"Yes, it's a pleasure." He said with a flirty grin that forced Elia to kick him, so he would stop. He seemed to get the message – for the rest of the meal he was less obviously staring at her.

After dinner, the couple stayed a bit longer, engaged in conversation with the Martell family members – mom even brought out the family albums. Mellario seemed happy to be making fun of Doran's baby photos – but Elia noticed that they kept their hands locked at all times.

It was later than they planned when they left to go back to Doran's apartment. He promised he would be back for a visit before the end of the weekend, so she could see him again. A few minutes after they left, their mom, after quietly thinking for a while, let out a breath and exclaimed,

"I like her…"


Lysa Tully

Lysa woke up to the sounds coming from the street, the rain hitting the windows made a soothing melody… She lay on the bed with her eyes still closed trying to appreciate the calm of the room, until she heard the almost silent snores then, with a smile on her face, she opened her eyes.

Next to her slept Petyr. He looked so peaceful, with his hair falling in front of his eyes. She cuddled closer to him and kissed the top of his chest exposed by a few of the buttons on his pyjama top being unfastened.

"Oh… Cat…" He whispered sleeping, and Lysa repeated to herself, it's just his nickname for me. Because I can be quiet and mysterious like a cat, or just wild. It's just a nickname… a nickname…

She kissed his lips, knowing he wouldn't talk then and when he woke up, they would be happy like always. She started softly, but he quickly responded, she opened her mouth carefully – not wanting to cut herself on his braces again – and he pushed her body above his, while his hands threaded through her auburn hair.

"Good morning, beautiful…" He whispered, kissing the top of her head.

"Hi, Petyr! Do you know what today is?"

"I'm sure I do. But can you remind me?"

"It's Thanksgiving." Lysa said happily, she loved this holiday; the food, the family and the shopping on the next day… Or not… I'm still not talking to Catelyn… Lysa missed her sister so much, she missed talking all night long, she missed having her hair brushed by her, she missed laughing and giggling with her.

"What's wrong?" Petyr asked brushing away a lock of hair that had fallen in front of her eyes.

"Nothing. We should get up, it's…" She picked his clock on the bedside table and read "…almost 10." He pulled her on top of him, knowing that she liked the feeling of her small breasts on his chest and put his hand under her shirt, tickling her lower back. She giggled, with her face buried in the crook of his neck and murmured. "I really need to go…"

"So do." But he kept his hand on her lower back, stroking her with his small, delicate fingers that her body knew so well. Knowing she couldn't stay, she quickly kissed his lips, rolled off his body and left the bed, making her way to the door.

"Bye." She said, while she tried to figure out if the corridor was clear. Seeing it was, she smiled at him one last time and ran quietly to her room.

Her room was cosy. The things from her childhood were all still there – the princess castle, the dolls, the teddy bears on the end of her bed… She picked her favourite – Robin – and hugged him to her chest, throwing herself on her bed. She turned and looked at the photo of Petyr on her bedside table with his arms around her and Catelyn. The picture frame sat on top of her favourite book – an old one that she had taken from her mother's library, filled with classic fairytales.

She closed he eyes, and imagined the day she would finally marry Petyr, how he would only have eyes for her, how he would take her in his arms, how he would worship her body that night, how he would whisper I love you into her skin…

With the image of him in her head she ended up falling asleep again, having sweet dreams, but reality seemed even better when he came and woke her with his hand on her breast.

"Lysa… You fell asleep…"

"Hmm… Oh… That feels good…" She opened her eyes when she started missing his hand on her chest. "Petyr…"

"I know, sweetie. I would love to continue, but your father and sister are downstairs waiting for you." She finally opened her eyes, and stretched.

"Bath. I'll be down in 15." He kissed her lips and left.

She took a quick shower, even if the thing she wanted the most was to soak in the bathtub. Then she dressed in a matching baby pink bra and panties that she knew Petyr loved, with equally baby pink knee socks, a denim skirt and a long sleeve shirt.

Now dressed, but with no shoes on, she skipped down the stairs and grabbed a yogurt from the fridge, trying to ignore Catelyn moving around the kitchen, when father came in, already in his suit and kissed the top of her head.

"I need to go to the office."

"But, dad…" Lysa moaned. "It's Thanksgiving…"

"I know, sweetling. I'll try to be quick." He said, but Lysa still sulked. "Cat…"

"I know, dad. I'll keep things going." Catelyn answered, while he kissed her cheek and then Lysa's.

"You help your sister by keeping the peace." He told her, before leaving the house.

"Hey, Lys… He'll come back before dinner. I'm sure." But even as she said that, Catelyn didn't seem so sure.

Lysa nodded and began making some toast. While she sat eating it, she looked at Catelyn, preparing the stuffing for the turkey. She looked so much like mom when she was cooking, using all of their mother's recipes.

"Lysa! Cat!" They heard Edmure yelling, while he ran down the stairs, naked and dripping water all over the place. After a few seconds Petyr ran down calling out his name.

"Edmure Tully, what are you doing here?" Catelyn told him.

"He jumped out the tub, Cat." Petyr explained. He would be such a good father someday, Lysa knew by the way he tried to take care of their brother.

Catelyn knelt to Edmure's eye level and said.

"Eddie, I need you to go to your room with Petyr and put on some clothes. Can you do that?" He looked confused by her question. "Like a big boy."

"I am a big boy." He said smiling, standing up and pulling Petyr with him.

Both sisters smiled at the image, before each went back to doing their own thing. Lysa finished eating, and put the things in the dishwasher. Then she pondered whether to go to her room or to find Petyr, but she grabbed an apron and joined her sister at the counter.

"Do you need help?" Lysa asked, and she could see her sister smiling.

"Sure. You wanna finish the stuffing while I start on the pie." Lysa nodded and got to work.

The cooking went quickly when they both helped, like they had every year before, but this time instead of laughing like they had in previous years, they were awfully quiet, even though they worked perfectly together and their actions complemented each other.

For a while Edmure came in and sat on the kitchen floor playing with his cars, and then trying to help – he ended dropping most of the flour on the floor, and on their clothes.

"Sorry…"

"Just go play on the living room, please…" The boy pouted for awhile, but he ended up leaving to go to the bathroom.

Catelyn tried to shake off the flour from her hair and dress, while Lysa did the same.

"Come here." Catelyn said, and Lysa looked surprised at her. "You have something on your back.

"Right…" She felt her sister trying to clean her up, when she was done she pulled away and Lysa thanked her.

After a while it was almost time to put the turkey in the oven, so Catelyn instructed Lysa to make something for lunch while she finished preparing dinner. By the time Catelyn was putting the stuffed bird in the oven, Lysa was calling the boys down for lunch.

They all sat at the kitchen table eating while Edmure told him what he had been doing – most of his food ended up on him rather than in his mouth – the boy was always too electric… After they finished eating, and Catelyn had to repeat five times that Edmure couldn't have cake now, they cleared the table and put the dishwasher on.

"Cat, do you need any help?" Petyr asked, looking directly into the older sister's eyes.

"Not now. But, thank you." Catelyn said turning back to the food, Lysa took her place next to her and they started working on the rest of the food – the mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie…

Like before, they didn't talk, and Lysa missed her sister's laughter so much, especially after she heard her on the phone with the Stark brood – they are the ones who took Catelyn away, she chose the cheating bastard over us… And now Catelyn had to settle for the badly behaved girl as her new best friend and the less handsome boy as her boyfriend…

They were still cooking when they heard the doorbell, and then their uncle's voice. He came into the kitchen and took Catelyn in his arms, immediately lifting her off the floor. Always the favourite.

"Little Cat!"

"Uncle Brynden!"

"I missed you, my sweet girl…"

"Me too." She said, after he put her down.

"So, where's your father?"

"Work, he should be back before dinner."

"Damn him!" He shouted, while Catelyn put a reassuring hand on his arm. "You should got to the living room, the Dallas Cowboys game is about to start. Edmure would love the company, I'm sure."

"Thank you, little Cat." He said, before going over and whishing Lysa a happy Thanksgiving.

It was 5.30 pm when dad finally got back from work. He and uncle started fighting the moment he got through the door, as always they fought about things that made no sense to Lysa. But soon he sat with his son and brother to watch the game, not bothering to check on dinner.

"I'm going to tell dad that dinner is almost ready. Can you get Petyr to set the table?"

"Sure." Lysa said smiling, regretting being able to spend so little time with him that day. She walked up the stairs, and knocked on his bedroom door before entering. He was lying in the bed and he looked so beautiful, working on their Math homework.

"Does Cat need anything?" He asked, putting the books aside.

"The table."

"Sure. I'll do it, right now." He said standing up and running down the stairs, ignoring her all the way. It hurts… so much… but she will ignore it, because he still chose her in the night, which must mean something.

When she finally walked into the kitchen, she saw him and Edmure laying the table. She stood watching for a while, before helping Catelyn bring the food to the table. Everyone took their seat, the older Tully men at either end of the table; they held hands and Catelyn led her family in prayer.

After they finished praying, Edmure was the first to attack the food, trying to reach for the turkey, with their father hitting his hand away so he could start by carving the bird; Lysa could see out of the corner of her eye that Catelyn still looked deep in thought, and she knew she was praying to the New Gods – an old religion that Catelyn had learned about in those books of hers.

Most of the chatting during the meal was done by Edmure, who had been mesmerized by the football game he had watched before dinner. He only stopped talking when it was time for desert. But before they could bring it out, father, as in every previous Thanksgiving, asked for everyone to say something they are greatful for.

"The youngest first. Edmure…"

"I'm great full for…"

"Grateful, kiddo." Uncle Brynden corected him.

"I'm grate…ful for my sisters that made me a choc cake." They laughed at his response and Lysa, who was sitting next to him, kissed the top of his red curls.

"I'm grateful that you took me home, and took care of me." Petyr said like every year before, he looked at Catelyn – sitting next to him – but Lysa knew he means me…

She felt a kick on her shin from her boy, who sat opposite, so she continued.

"I'm grateful to have people who love me."

"I'm grateful for my family and friends." Catelyn said, looking at her sister, trying to apologize.

"I'm grateful for having you as my family." Uncle said, but they could hear their father mutter "you could have a family of your own if you just went on a damn blind date."

"Dad!" Catelyn warned him.

"I'm sorry, Cat. I'm grateful for you, girls, helping around the house. And for still having you around."

All of them nodded at him, sharing the pain of losing mother. All of them said a silent prayer for her before they stood up and brought the desert to the table.

Both Lysa and Catelyn hadn't even sat down yet, and Edmure was already yelling for someone to cut him a piece of each cake.

"Bigger, dad. No, bigger, bigger…" He kept repeating, until Lysa pushed him to her lap and whispered, tickling his belly.

"Do you want to be fatter than Santa?"

"Yes!" He answered excited, making everyone at the table laugh.

"I don't think that is such a good idea, son. What if I cut you a slice now, and then if you want more you can ask?" The boy agreed to the proposition, and they finished their Thanksgiving dinner.

They all helped clear the table putting the leftovers in boxes to be packed away in the fridge, before retiring to the living room. Petyr sat in the armchair, with Lysa at his feet, uncle Brynden in the other armchair, while Edmure cuddled with Catelyn on the couch, with his father on the other side, getting ready to watch a family movie; A Bug's Life.

After that one, with Edmure already sleeping, they all agreed on one of the movies on TV, some romantic comedy – Petyr, her father and her uncle had said goodnight by the middle of the movie. Petyr whispered in her ear as he said goodnight that they would meet up later.

Each of the girls sat, still not talking, until the movie ended. Then they each got ready for bed.

After Lysa washed her teeth and changed into her pyjama; she left her room and stopped at Petyr's door, preparing to knock; until she decided to knock on a different door.

"Yes?"

"Can I come in?" Lysa asked.

"Lysa?! Yes, of course." Catelyn finished a phone call while Lysa looked at her feet and played with her fingers.

"Who was it? Can I ask?"

"Brienne." The beast of a girl, right?! Who always hangs out with Jaime – that Jaime Lannister. "Come sit, please." Lysa sat on her sister's bed and whispered.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm the one who's sorry, Lysa."

"No… I should never have asked you to choose between us." It had been a rush decision for both of them, Lysa should have had more sense that ask her to choose between her boyfriend and her family, Catelyn had been young enough to think Brandon could be her new family…

"Brandon punched Petyr; you had a right to be mad. And you're right when you said he would end up hurting me."

"I'm sorry, I wasn't there for you." Lysa said sincerely, and Catelyn pulled her in for a hug.

"I got through it." She said smiling, before pulling away and asking. "Do you still wanna go shopping tomorrow?"

"Aren't you going to go with your friends?"

"They aren't into shopping."

"I'm in." Lysa said smiling. They were back and they were fulfilling their Black Friday tradition.

"I'll ask father for the car." That would be amazing, not having to wake unbelievably early for the holidays, just to catch the bus. "Do you want to stay?" Catelyn asked. Lysa thought about what she had promised Petyr, but she ended up climbing under the blankets with her sister.

They hugged and told each other their most important news, Catelyn talked about Ned, Lyanna, and Brienne; and Lysa ached for not being able to tell her about how much in love she was with Petyr Baelish.


Rhaegar Targaryen

Rhaegar could easily hate his jeep right now, since he was driving through The Neck and he was freezing. He still loved it, of course, because it had been Jon's and it was the one he had learned to drive in. But the jeep had an open top, the only thing he could do protect himself from the cold and rain was to put a cover over the roll cage, and in King's Landing that had been enough, but now driving to The Wall, he knew he should have at least brought another jacket.

The thermometer in his car read 28.4º F (-2º C) and the temperature kept dropping the further north he went.

When he arrived, he parked the jeep as close he could to the bar. It was small and rustic, like most houses in the village, and was called Night's Watch. As he pushed the door open, a bell rang announcing his entrance and he heard a voice from inside.

"We are still closed."

"I didn't come here for drinking." He said, while the owner of the bar, a man in his thirties looked up from behind the counter.

"Rhaegar!" He exclaimed. "So how have you been doing?"

"Good, thank you. You, Mr. Mormont?"

"The same. I heard you were dating Lyanna now." Rhaegar felt nervous, like this was another older brother he had to explain himself to. "And I've told you to call me Jeor."

"Yes."

"I hope you treat her right."

"I hope so too, sir."

"Oh... I guess you came to pick up your great, great uncle." He nodded. "He's upstairs, in his room, with Jonah – please bring him down too."

So Rhaegar walked through the back bar so he could go to the private floor where his uncle lived. Uncle Aeon had studied to be a doctor, detaching himself from the political ambitions of the rest of their family. After he qualified, he decided to not to join the big hospitals or private practices in the South and to open a small practice (that provided a lot of free community care services) in The Wall, so he could serve these people that lived alone. After he retired a few years back, he decided to stay instead of going back South. Joer Mormont made sure his uncle wasn't missing a thing.

Rhaegar knocked on the apartment's door, and soon a small child, a few years older than Viserys, hugged his waist fiercely. Rhaegar ruffled his hair.

"Hi, Jorah. It's good to see you again."

"Hello." The kid said.

"Rhaegar..." His great, great uncle murmured.

"Uncle. How are you?"

"Fine, son. Is your father any better?" He asked, knowing of his father's problem, and how his family had a history of mental health problems; Rhaegar only shook his head.

His uncle looked sad, but soon he was trying to stand up and both younger gentlemen helped him up. Jorah ran to get a jacket for him. After Aemon put it on, he turned to his nephew and said.

"Son, you must be freezing outside. Grab a jacket for yourself."

"Thank you." He was really thankful for that, since he had been wondering how he would actually survive another trip through the cold north.

They made their way down the stairs slowly, with Aemon always leaning on him, while Jorah walked in front, leading the way to his father's bar.

"Joer, Jorah, happy thanksgiving to you." His uncle said when it was time to say goodbye.

"To you too, Aemon." Mr. Mormont said while his son hugged uncle Aemon. "And you, boy, see you take good care of Lyanna - the Starks are like family to us."

"Of course, sir." Rhaegar answered truthfully, before leaving the small bar – now warmer, wearing his uncle's jacket – and made his way to his jeep. When Uncle Aemon climbed in the car, with Rhaegar's help of course, he said.

"Still the same old car, you must be freezing in here, this isn't a good car for the north."

"I've learned - the hard way." His uncle smiled at him, and they kept quiet while he drove south, until they drove by Winterfell, and his uncle asked.

"So how are things going with Lyanna?"

"Good." I hope...

"Really?!"

"Yes. I just sometimes don't know how she feels about some things."

"Why can't you just talk to her?"

"She doesn't tell me anything."

"Do you?"

"What?!"

"Tell her things about you?" His uncle Aemon asked.

"No… not really…"

"So maybe you should, son. You used to tell everything to Elia, right?!" His uncle had made a good point. "Maybe she misses someone she can tell everything too. I know she used to date a boy who comes to the bar."

"Yes. Robert Baratheon."

"They always seemed close, son. And by what I saw of her, she seemed different to you."

"She is, very different. But I still love her."

"So work it out. It's never easy to love someone." His uncle said finally. Rhaegar wondered if his uncle had ever loved someone.

When they were reaching the Neck, his uncle gave up and fell asleep, while Rhaegar kept driving, listening to a mixtape Elia had given him last year, tapping the steering wheel to the rhythm.

The journey to Dragonstone was long and slow, especially the last few miles. It was in a distant, hidden place, only reachable by narrow, curvy and old roads; and the bumps in it were enough to wake uncle Aemon.

When they drove through the big gateway to the main building, Rhaegar saw his little brother running out of the house to come and wait for them.

"The boy doesn't stop growing." He muttered.

"I know."

Viserys came closer and held the door open for their uncle, while he yelled excited.

"Uncle Aemon! Welcome!"

"Thank you, son. Happy thanksgiving to you, Viserys."

"I'm not your son, uncle." Viserys said confused, but his uncle only laughed at his great-great-nephew.

"No, you're not, sweetboy." He heard his mother say, coming down the stairs to the entrance. She had her silver hair tied up and had her apron on, probably still cooking – but there was a little girl in her arms, demanding attention, trying to reach and see everything around her.

"Is this little Daenerys?" His uncle asked. "She's looking more beautiful everyday." He said looking and playing with the little girl's fingers. She made happy, giggling sounds. "You look beautiful too, Rhaella." He said, kissing her cheek. "And thanks for having me."

"Always, Aemon. Now should we go inside." Rhaegar took his uncle's arm, to help him climb the stairs into the house.

Inside, he couldn't see his father in the living room. He looked questioningly at his mother. She understood his concern.

"Viserys, why don't you go play a bit in your room?"

"But I want to hear uncle's stories."

"Viserys…" His mom warned, the boy stamped his foot and sulked, kicking the armchair before leaving.

"Your father is resting upstairs for awhile. Today will be a tiring day, and I thought he should rest before the confusion."

"Is he any better, darling?" Uncle asked Rhaella.

"He didn't have any other attack since… that one." She told him, but she didn't mention the nights he woke up screaming, the marks that led her to massage her wrists when she talked about this.

"You know, I can ask a friend of mine to see him – I know a few psychiatrists, they would be discrete."

"No, I promise I can handle it, Aemon."

"Okay. But if you need anything, just call me."

"Thank you." She said gratefully, before turning to Rhaegar. "Darling, can you take your sister and go check on your brother?"

"Of course, mom." He took Daenerys from her arms, and the girl immediately tried pulling his hair, something she had been enjoying doing for a few weeks now. The two of them took the stairs to his brother's room.

Viserys sat on the floor in deep thought, trying to solve a puzzle that had been bothering him for a few months now, but he always gave up too easily.

"Do you want any help?" Rhaegar asked, but his brother only shrugged his shoulders. Rhaegar took a few pillows from the bed, to make some sort of bed (and cage) for Dany and sat in front of his brother. Unlike his brother, puzzles were something Rhaegar had always loved doing, so with his help; his brother quickly finished the puzzle he had been trying to do for so long.

"Can we go downstairs, now, Rhaegar?" Viserys asked, dancing from one foot to the other.

"Sure. Let me just get Daenerys." He said while he picked her up, but Viserys had already run down the stairs.

When he finally got to the living room, Viserys was on their father's lap, asking uncle Aemon for stories, Rhaegar decided to leave them and went to his mother who was in the kitchen cooking dinner. He sat in one of the chairs, with Dany in his lap.

"Son, pull the knives away from where you're sitting." She said, without even looking behind her. He did as she said.

"Do you need any help, mom?"

"You looking after your sister is help enough."

"I miss spending time with her and Viserys."

"You're busy with school, and your friends. By the way, how is Lara?"

"Lyanna, mom."

"Yes, Lyanna, sorry."

"She's good. She's excited with the snow."

"She lives up north, right?"

"Yes. Mr. Mormont knows her family."

"Oh… Alright… You should take some of the cookies I'm making for him; he has a son, right?"

"Jorah. Just a few years older than Viserys."

"We should invite him to come over someday." She said, seeming to be already making plans on her head. "Oh… And how's Elia? Is she going home? I feel bad if she has to spend Thanksgiving alone?" His mother always liked Elia, thought she was a responsible and sweet girl.

"I'm not sure, mother." He said, pushing a lock of her hair behind Dany's ear. "Don't you think you should give Dany a hair cut?" He asked trying to change the subject.

"No. I like her hair like this, but I normally braid it."

"I can do it."

"So if you're already doing that, check if her diaper needs changing and change her to the little dress I laid on the bed. And tell your brother to change too, and maybe you should too. Dinner is almost ready."

"It's just us, mom, why do we need to…"

"Because I want to, son, now be a good boy." He picked up Dany, rocking her on his hip, taking her into the living room where everyone was still in the same position, but now watching TV - some movie, unlike most people who would be watching the game (he was sure Lyanna was…)

"Son, come sit with us." His father called when he saw him.

"Sorry, father. But mother told me to go get ready and take Viserys with me."

"But…" Viserys moaned, but father stepped in.

"Now do what your mother says." He said, while he put the kid on the floor, and tapped him gently on the bottom to get him going. When they were all upstairs, outside their bedrooms, Rhaegar said,

"Wear what mom left on your bed." Viserys ignored him and kept walking. Rhaegar ignored him and got to work on his sister. He changed her diaper and changed her into a purple dress and braided her hair – if he was honest it didn't turn out that well. Then he changed his own sweater for a clean shirt.

Downstairs, his father was already helping his uncle move to the table, and Viserys was jumping around, while mother told him to please be quiet or they would trip over him and someone could get hurt.

Rhaegar put his sister on the highchair next to his mom's seat, and took his own place, while his mom brought the food to the table. When everyone was seated, his mother started carving the food – it had always been father before, handling the carving knife and not mother, but nobody mentioned the change. She served each of them two slices of the turkey and passed the mash potatoes around. While they were eating everything seemed all right, they made small talk, and Viserys chatted non-stop about school and everything he was learning. Until, his father asked,

"So how's the dornish girl?" Father had never been a big fan of Elia, not particularly liking people from Dorne.

"Her name is Elia, dad. We are not together anymore." His father ignored him, and kept speaking.

"She never comes over anymore."

"No, father. We broke up."

"No!" His father said confused, and Rhaegar was getting worried about what was happening, so he looked at his mother in desperation.

"Why don't you go watch TV for awhile?" Mother suggested, standing up, picking up Dany and passing her to Rhaegar.

"No! No!" Father repeated

"But I haven't finished eating." Viserys said, refusing to leave, while Rhaegar and Aemon were already standing up.

"No! They took her too!" Father exclaimed.

"Rhaegar, take your siblings." She said in her firmest voice. "Viserys, sweetie, you can eat in front of the TV, how does that sound?! Good, right?!" Making her voice soothing again.

"Come on, Viserys. I can tell you more stories about the Wall." Uncle said, trying to help, so Viserys picked up his plate and left the room.

"No! They took her too!" Father was yelling now and waving his arms – his hands still holding his fork and knife. Mother knelt in front of him, resting her forehead next to his and whispering something Rhaegar couldn't hear. His father was still yelling in fear and desperation, but he at least calmed down enough for mother to take the silverware away.

"I told you to go." She hissed at Rhaegar, when Dany babbled something and she noticed he was still there. "And close the door behind."

"But, mom…" His voice sounded weak, defeated and sad. But her look made him move and he left the room, joining his brother and uncle in the living room. His brother seemed distracted eating and watching cartoons. His uncle whispered.

"He doesn't seem better."

"He isn't. Most nights, I can hear him wake up crying and screaming for help. Mom tries to hide it from us." He said bouncing Dany in his knee; Aemon sent him a sad look, before reaching for the little girl.

"And how is my little girl doing?" He said, tickling her, and changing the subject from his father to his baby sister. They kept playing with her, until mother called them back.

He saw his mother trying to wipe tears from her eyes, still puffy and red, while she said.

"Viserys, bring your plate." He came back and asked, "Where's father?"

She kneeled to his eye level and answered in her sweetest voice.

"He was a bit tired, he needed to lie down."

"Can I kiss him goodnight?"

"Maybe a bit later. Okay?!" He nodded and sat at the table waiting for desert.

They ate quietly, nobody bringing up what had happened before. After they finished eating, they all did their best in helping mother clean up the table and clean the kitchen – it was finished quickly with three and a half pairs of hands.

"I'm going to bed too. I had a long day." His uncle said, saying farewell to everyone and making mom promise to wake him up if she needed anything.

"Do you need help, uncle?" Rhaegar asked.

"No, thank you. I can manage it." They had moved his room downstairs a few years ago.

"And you Viserys aren't you tired?"

"No." He said while trying to cover a yawn.

"Right, darling. Bed."

"Can I kiss father goodnight at least?"

"Of course. I'll go with you. Rhaegar, give me Daenerys I'll put her down too." While they all went upstairs, he waited on the couch wanting to speak with his mother before going to sleep.

After a half a hour, she came back and they both sat in the kitchen table.

"Mom, what happened?"

"Nothing."

"It wasn't nothing. We need to take him to a professional."

"You know your father won't trust them."

"This is about him getting better. Getting this under control." He said, but his mother didn't seem willing to even consider it, "Who are these they he talked about?"

"I'm not sure. Aliens, maybe?! I only know he believes he can fight them with fire."

"Mother, he could start another fire, because of this. We need to take him to a doctor."

"No! I'm your mother, I make the decisions in here." His mother said, and Rhaegar just stormed out, saying.

"Someday, someone it's going to get seriously hurt."

He quickly got to his room, deciding to take a cold shower trying to clear his mind. With his hair still dripping water, he got into his pyjamas, washed his teeth and got in bed. He tried to fall asleep, but he ended up just rolling from one side to the other, for over an hour. He tried to read, but he just couldn't concentrate, so he ended up reaching for his phone, quickly finding the number he was looking for and made the call.

"Yes!" He heard someone grumbling from the other side. "Who, for fuck's sake, is calling me at this hour?"

"Sorry… I will just…"

"No… wait… Rhaegar… What's going on?!" She asked, while he heard her moving, he could only suppose she was trying to sit up.

"It's nothing."

"For you to be calling me at this hour, must me important. So speak." He didn't know what to say, so he just waited for awhile, listening to her breathing, while he decided what to say.

"Father…"

"Is he okay?"

"He had another attack, during dinner."

"Why?!" She asked, but he wasn't really comfortable with telling her that Elia had been the reason for the discussion.

"He seemed to think someone wanted to take him – us. Mom got him to calm down."

"And a doctor?"

"She still believes it's not for the best."

"You need to work harder to try and convince her."

"I know." He said. I try; I know I've tried… "Just please tell me about your day." Take me away…

"Okay… So, we started by playing in the snow, Benjen and I against Ned and Brand…" So he spent the next few hours just listening to her. Her voice calmed him, and made him feel happy. In the middle of the night, her voice was the only way to block out his father's screams…

Chapter Text

Lyanna Stark

Lyanna had talked their father into letting her have a sleepover. It would be just Catelyn and Brienne – she promised him they would just watch movies and gorge on sweets, ice cream, chips and other fast-foods. The first thing he asked was since when was she friends with other girls? So she told him about them. He quickly understood why she would like Brienne, but Cat... not so much, until she told him that Catelyn was dating Ned.

That was how she and Brandon ended up kneeling against the door of their father's office, holding a glass against the door, trying to hear what her father was saying to Ned.

"I can't hear anything. What is he saying?"

"Something about respect and shit like that." Brandon answered.

"Shhh… I think I hear something." So Lyanna listened at the door, laughing at Ned finally getting his first serious talk. Of course dad had talked to him when he reached his pre-teenager years, but now he had his first girlfriend, father was taking it seriously. It made Lyanna remember hers, dad only talked to her about this when she was 13, already dating Robert, it must have been the weirdest moment of her life.

She had expected him to tell her that she should be locked in a tower until she was thirty and that it was important she would stay a maiden until marriage. He did say that, but then he laughed and said, but I know you, my girl. And you probably are not going to do that. So he told her if she believed she was ready to take that step – really ready, she should never give in to pressure – she needed to use protection, so he told her he would take her to the ladies' doctor, and they would put her on the pill if she needed it.

Then father apologized, apologized for not knowing more, for being the one to have this talk to her and not her mother. But he also made sure she understood she could always come to him – just like when she got her first period. When that happened, father had run to Nan asking for help, while Ned and Brandon tried calling Maege Mormont to come and help.

When Lyanna finally left his office, he kissed the top of her head and whispered, I trust you. And although it seems weird, I seem to trust Robert as well.

But now she was hearing her father say something completely different to her brother. Father was telling him to be careful and always to be respectful of girls – of everyone really – Ned agreed and promised that he would be.

"Hey! I respect the women!" Brandon exclaimed in a loud whisper when their father started throwing his name into the conversation.

"Shh… quiet. And you do not. Just ask Catelyn." And they kept listening at the door and to their father's speech. Lyanna could imagine Ned's face as he listened to this talk.

"Lya… Lya… I can't hear them anymore. I think they are…" But before Brandon could finish his sentence, their father opened the door, sending Lyanna, who had been leaning against the door, sprawling at her father's feet. He gave her a very disapproving look.

"Brandon, don't bother trying to hide. I can see you too." Their father said before turning to Lyanna who was looking at him with puppy eyes. They didn't deceive dad. They knew that before she and Brandon could question (and mock) Ned about his talk, they would have to listen to their father's lecture.

Later in the evening, when they were all sitting at the table, still eating the final leftovers from Thanksgiving, Lyanna decided to approach the subject again.

"So dad, have you made a decision about what I asked you?"

"Yes, Lyanna. I'm letting you throw your sleepover, if you promise not to make much noise and behave. I've already talked to your brother and just the same as when Robert slept here, Ned and your friend are not allowed to sleep together in the same room." Father said, while Ned looked down. Lyanna was sure if father mentioned this while Catelyn was here, Cat would turn as red as a tomato. Father was way too naïve to believe she and Robert didn't have sex when he slept in the house, but she was sure Ned and Cat wouldn't.

"Of course, dad. I'm sure, Catelyn knows that."

"But maybe you should remind her." Brandon chipped in, earning him a kick on the shins.

"Also, Lyanna, I remembered something, I think you should invite your boyfriend to dinner someday, maybe when the holidays start. It's about time I met this boy." Rhaegar here?! Father loved Robert, thought he was a great friend to Ned and trusted him with his only daughter. If father didn't like Rhaegar, their relationship would be much harder to maintain.

"Of course, dad."

"No need to be nervous. If you like him, I'm sure he's a good boy." Right, he's polite (more polite than Robert, that's for sure), he also has better manners when he eats – he is the perfect boy to present to your parents. But he isn't Ned's best friend, he isn't the boy dad had to clean cuts and scrapes for, or make hot chocolate for, or give dry clothes to because he decided to roll in the snow in his pyjamas, she said to herself, making her even more nervous.


The idea of Rhaegar in her house with her father and brothers continued to haunt her thoughts, leading her to never approach the subject with Rhaegar, especially in the state he was in. It seemed that things hadn't got much better after the holidays in his house; his father still had attacks, making his mother confine her husband to their bedroom. Rhaegar's schedule had become home-school-home – having to handle his siblings while mother took care of his father – leaving Lyanna and him with no time for themselves.

It was already Wednesday, so during lunch time Lyanna decided to invite her friends for the sleep over. Catelyn was sitting with them today; Brienne was in front of her, next to Jaime who was engrossed in conversation with Rhaegar.

"So… please… I know that you only have one test next week and it's on Friday, Brienne. Cat, you only have the project with Ned and that's almost done."

"I need to talk to my father. But I think it's okay, I think his business trip is only next week." Catelyn said.

"I just need to check with my dad too."

"Thanks, it will be fun. We can watch movies and eat crap all night and day."

"Seems like a good plan. Ain't I invited?" Jaime asked. "Or my sister?! You love her."

"Shut up, Jaime. Lannisters are not invited." Lyanna snapped. "Never."

"You will see. I can sneak in." He said with a smirk. "And I will finally see two girls kissing."

"Really?! Where?!" Brandon asked, appearing from behind Catelyn, resting his hands on her shoulder – she didn't flinch like she was prone to do before, now, it seemed they had sat down and talked and reached an understanding.

"Don't be an ass, Brandon." Lyanna scolded her brother, while he took a seat next to his ex-girlfriend.

"So, can you come Red?! You know if you and Ned need my room, you just need to ask… and maybe give me a kiss." He said with a wink, making Catelyn blush red as a tomato.

"Leave her alone." Lyanna told him, trying to help Catelyn.

"Sorry. But I hope you come." He said snickering, and Lyanna sent him another look and he apologized again, before whispering. "But really just ask…"

"Shut up." Catelyn mouthed at him.

"So, Tully, but how are things really going with the frozen Stark?"

"Hey! Lannister hold your tongue!" Brandon yelled in defence of his brother and Lyanna jumped in too with,

"Yeah! Don't be a cunt or you're out of this table, asshole."

"Sorry, guys, don't need to be all offended." Jaime apologized, but everyone still seemed to want to kill him. They were distracted when Catelyn answered his question.

"Ned and I are great, Jaime." She said, emphasizing her boyfriend's name. "And I think I'll go and see him now." She made her move to stand up, saying. "I will talk to you later, Lya, Bree."

While the others got engrossed in some other conversation, Lyanna watched Catelyn. After she put her tray in its place, she moved to his table, the seat next to Ned was free and she quickly took it, resting her hand on his shoulder. He looked up and seemed to smile at her. Lyanna noticed that, when Catelyn sat beside him, her hand stroked down Ned's arm, reaching under the table, to where his hand was.

After that, Lyanna could clearly hear Robert's laugh, and see him push Catelyn for a hug. Sometimes after Catelyn spent time with them, she came back smelling like Robert – the cologne Lyanna gave him mixed with cigarette smoke – it made her jealous, she didn't even know why. Robert had always loved hugging people and he seemed to be really excited that his best friend finally had a girlfriend. He also seemed to like Catelyn (and not be tremendously jealous that someone may be stealing his Ned).

"Lya… Lya…Lyanna…" She heard someone calling for her, before she got a kick from her brother. When she was about to yell at him for that, she heard Rhaegar say, "Lya… Can you hear me?" Lyanna turned towards him.

"Sorry. Distracted."

"Obviously. He had called you about 10 times, now." Jaime said, annoying as ever.

"I just wanted to tell you that I've got to go."

"Don't you have practice this afternoon?"

"I talked to the coach, I just can't go."

"Oh… okay. I'll walk you to your car."

"Thanks." He said standing up and saying his goodbyes, while Lyanna told them she would be back in a few. After they cleared their trays, Rhaegar took her hand, while she looked over her shoulder one more time to the table where Catelyn was sitting, and her eyes met with Robert's and she could only see the pain behind his blue eyes.

They made their way to the parking lot. After Rhaegar got his things from his locker, they walked quietly to his jeep. He got in and turned on the engine, while Lyanna rested her elbows on the window. He leant out the window and kissed her lips softly. When he tried to break their kiss, she put her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. She opened her mouth to him, letting their tongues touch in their practiced way, while she felt his fingers stroking her cheek.

"Love…" He said when they finally pulled apart.

"Sorry… I just miss you that's all." Lyanna whispered to him.

"Sorry… It's just… you know…"

"Shh… I know, Rhaegar… it's okay, go take care of your family. Love you."

"Love you too, Lya." He said before driving away, and leaving her to go back to their table in the cafetaria.


It was finally Friday afternoon and her brothers had driven her from school. Father had already picked up Benjen and they were all home to welcome both girls when they arrived for the sleepver. Now they were all outside playing basketball, all except Catelyn. Father had amiably let her choose a book from the library and she sat in the grass more interested in the book than in their game.

Lya was in a team with her father and Brienne. They were up against her three brothers and even with Brienne being the same height as Brandon, the boys ended up winning (like always). When the game ended, Catelyn – still engrossed in her book – stayed, while the rest of them went inside so they could wash of the sweat of the game (especially the boys). When Lyanna came back down, Catelyn was still outside, so Lya went and sat beside her.

"So are you coming inside?" Lyanna asked.

"Oh… sorry… sure…" Catelyn said blushing, she didn't seem to have even noticed everyone else had left.

"The others?!"

"Getting changed. We finished the game awhile ago."

"I was distracted, it seems."

"It's okay. Come on."

They went inside to find Brandon making a sandwich and their father saying,

"You're going to ruin your appetite."

"No. I'm not and I'm starving!" Yeah, that's probably right. Brandon could eat like a pig.

"So, what are you doing for dinner?"

"Not sure yet. Maybe, pasta."

Do they like it? Are they on some diet?" She laughed looking at dad's face as he wondered how to feed three teenage girls.

"No, dad. Anything you make is okay." Lyanna said.

"I can help, Mr. Stark. If you need." Catelyn said, coming to the room with Ned – Lyanna noticed how her brother quickly droped his hand from her lower back.

"There's no need. I can handle it myself."

"It's the least I can do. And I truly don't mind, I'm used to cooking."

"Are you sure?" His father asked nervously and Catelyn nodded. "Okay, in that case everyone helps - unless your other friend wants to do anything else. If she does then you can go with her Lyanna."

"But… dad…" Brandon moaned, but with no success. He shot Catelyn an evil look.

When Brienne came downstairs, she quickly said she would like to help and that she cooked dinner with her father almost every night.

While they all worked, their father kept asking the girls questions. They had taken over the kitchen, with Catelyn making one of her favorite dishes.

Brienne talked about her father's job as a jeweler in Tarth and her being on the football team. Catelyn tried to teach Ned how to cut the vegetables without cutting his fingers while she talked about her siblings and how she loved to swim. Brienne checked on the boiling pasta and Brandon made innapropriatte comments until father had to tell him to behave and lay the table.

Without Brandon, they were able to finish preparing dinner in peace and soon they were all in the living room eating. Father continued talking with both girls, insisting into getting to know them better. Lyanna was glad neither of them seemed bored.

The pasta they made was amazing; it was probably one of the best things Lyanna had eaten in a long time. She was so distracted, marvelling in the bites she took, she barely heard her father's question.

"Can you repeat the question, please?" She asked him.

"What are you girls going to do?"

"Maybe watch a movie…"

"Which one?" Her youngest brother asked excited.

"We don't know yet, Benjen."

"Can I watch it too?" He asked, and Lyanna looked at her friends, who nodded.

"Sure, if you want." She said and the boy cheered.

"You can stay here and use the big TV. I'm going to bed."

"Thanks, dad." She said politely, wondering why would their father go to bed so early.

"Are you okay?" Ned asked, taking the words out of her mouth.

"Yes, of course, don't worry. Just tired kids. You all have fun, but not too much fun."

"Of course not, and if you want we can clear the table."

"Okay. Thank you. Good night, kids." Their father said, being followed by good nights coming from her, her siblings and friends as he went up the stairs.

"Why did you offer to clean up the table?" Brandon moaned after father left.

"For fuck's sake, stop being an asshole. If you want you can go and choose a movie, if you guys want to say downstairs too."

"Sweet!" Brandon exclaimed. Just before he left the dining room, she remembered something.

"Choose something everyone would like, including Catelyn. That means no Die Hard."

"That blows." Brandon said, dissapearing into the living room. While the others cleaned the table and brought the things to the kitchen.

"Where do you want me to put the plates?"

"Just give them to me and I'll put them in the dishwasher. Sorry about you girls having to do this."

"Neither of us mind." Brienne said, smiling at her, while Catelyn nodded in agreement.

"Thanks, you're the best. Can you help Benjen with the chips and popcorn?" And while she and Ned filled the dishwasher, Benjen, Brienne and Catelyn carried the drinks, candies and chips to the living room.

When Lyanna and Ned finally joined them in the living room, Brandon was helping himself to a drink from their father's booze cabinet.

"Does anyone else want one?"

"Brandon, you're not suppose to go in there." Ned warned him.

"Dad's asleep. Relax, live a little. So anyone?" His question was answered by shaking of heads. While Lyanna kind of wanted a beer, she decided she could wait until later. "No even you, Lya?" He asked reading her mind.

"Later." She mouthed to him, not wanting to say it out loud as she was afraid they would judge her. She knew they wouldn't. They were her friends and family, it's the same with Rhaegar and he is my boyfriend, but they were goody-two-shoes, unlike her and Brandon (or Robert).

"Sure." Brandon said, sprawling himself on the armchair, with the drink in his hands, while the others took their places. Benjen sat on the floor against the couch, where the girls sat, with Lyanna in the middle. Ned took the other armchair.

"So, brother, what have you chosen for us?"

"Titanic. People die, so it can be that bad, even if that Celine Dion song is fucking annoying."

"Do everyone agree?" Lyanna asked, turned to both girls. "Have either of you seen it?"

"Yeah, but no problem. I don't mind watching it again." Catelyn answered while Brienne shook her head.

"Great." She put the tape on and threw herself back on the couch, while the trailers for other movies played, she asked.

"So who wants what?"

"Chips." Brandon said. She threw him a bag.

"Popcorn." Benjen said.

"You can share with us," Lyanna said, ruffling his hair. "Ned?"

"Nothing right now."

"But if you want something later, you have to get it yourself" Lyanna told him, she wasn't going to stand up just to give him stuff during the middle of the movie.

"Sure."

The movie went well until Kate Winslet's topless scene, Brandon sounded like a fucking child in a candy shop. Ned tried to hide that he was looking at someone else's boobs while being in the same room as his girlfriend and Lyanna was pretty sure Benjen's jaw touched the floor (and that maybe he was drooling a bit).

After that scene, both Brandon and Benjen had their eyes glued to the screen, wishing for more of her, while Ned finally regained the courage to look up, but not daring to look at Catelyn. Ignoring Brandon's complains for the lack of breasts, they kept watching the movie until the last scene.

The credits were rolling while Lyanna tried to wipe away her tears so her brothers wouldn't mock her, like they (okay, mostly Brandon) did when she cried.

"This is bullshit. This movie was the fucking lamest thing I ever watched. I got trapped into this." Brandon said when the movie ended, and Lyanna just wanted to slap him. "The only good part was seeing that chick's tits."

"Asshole." Lya mouthed to him.

"Of course, I'm the asshole. I'm going to bed, see you tomorrow." Brandon said storming off.

"Enjoy, jacking off to the girl's tits." Lyanna shouted back.

"I will." He only said with his usual smirk.

"For fuck's sake. I'm so glad you broke up with him, Cat."

"Me too." She said smiling, turning to Ned who had fallen asleep in the armchair.

"I can't believe he fell asleep." Benjen said, standing up from the floor, and despite his comment about Ned, he yawned too.

"He did. And it seems you need to go to bed, too."

"But, Lya…" He moaned after yawning again. "Okay… Maybe… I should. Good night, Lya." He said kissing her goodnight, and before going to his room, he wished all of her friends goodnight too.

"Sweet dreams." They relied. "So what are we doing? I'm not in the mood to to bed, yet."

"I agree. Brienne?" Lyanna agreed with Catelyn and waited for Brienne's response.

"Seems good to me." Brienne said smilling.

"But lets change clothes first." Lyanna said, and the others nodded. "Just need to wake up Ned."

Her brother, always a light sleeper, easily woke up and feeling tired (obviously) agreed he would go to bed too.

The girls went to Lyanna's room and changed into their pajamas while discussing what they would do next. Even though Catelyn didn't like videogames, they chose that option, since she said she didn't mind.

After they all changed – surprisingly Lyanna slept in leggings and a t-shirt, even in the winter - while both the other girls had brought their winter pajamas. Lyanna and Brienne went back to the living room and started playing, while Catelyn went to wish Ned goodnight.

A few minutes later, Catelyn was back, sitting in the armchair, snacking from the chips bowl and drinking another Coke. Both Lyanna and Brienne were distracted by the game. Much to Lyanna's disgust, she didn't win all the games. It was obvious that Lya was better at the violent ones, while Brienne won at the sport and races ones.

Lyanna was complaning at losing for the third consecutive time, when they were interupted by a mobile phone pinging. They looked at each other.

"Sorry. I think it's mine, must be my dad." Brienne answered, pausing the game.

"Wait, I'll go. Keep playing." Catelyn said standing up and picking the phone. "It's a text. Can I open it?"

"Sure."

"It's from Jaime. He's asking if… oh…" Catelyn blushed and continued, choking on the words. "…if there's been any girl on girl action." Brienne blushed too, but Lyanna just laughed and asked for the phone.

"Do you mind if I answer? I'll make sure he knows it's me I promise, Bree." Lyanna asked and Brienne didn't seem to know what to say. "Please…"

"Okay…" She whispered.

"Thanks."

Of course, we have even eaten each other cunts, too. ASSHOLE – Brienne

Lyanna wrote, and both girls gasped and Catelyn said.

"You can't say that."

"Why not?!" She asked and clicked send, and they waited a few seconds for a response.

Oh… sweet, Lya… Do you suck Rhaegar with that dirty mouth?! – Lannister

Lyanna pondered on what to reply, but before she could think of a witty text to send back, the phone pinged again.

Can't talk? Is your mouth full? – Lannister

Fuck you! – Brienne

You wish! Tell the Beast good night for me, and that I want details – Lannister

Jaime was just so fucking annoying. He was probably the rudest and most innapropriate person she knew – she still didn't understand how an innocent like Brienne had became such close friends with him, unless… But her thoughts were interrupted by the phone ringing again. She read the message and ignored it.

Your head between Tully's red hair, I bet your brothers are watching ;) – Lannister

Lyanna gave the phone back to Brienne, and told her.

"You know, your friend is a complete asshole." Brienne didn't know what to say and they sat in an awkward silence until Lyanna decided to ask something they had never talked about before - but aren't sleepover for girly talk? "Can I ask you something, Bree? If you don't want to answer you can?"

"Sure." Brienne mumbled nervously.

"At Cat's party, you said you haven't kissed anyone… Aren't you almost eighteen?" Brienne immediately blushed and hugged her kness to her chest – making her look so small. Lyanna worried that she shouldn't have asked.

"I'm… I'm me… I'm the Beast, Lya. No one would want to kiss me…" She whispered.

"I'm sure…"

"The only guy who tried to kiss me was because of some stupid bet. I'm not beautiful like you girls, I've learned to live with that."

"Why? Why should you need to learn to live with it?! Fuck it, you know! You're Brienne, you're my best friend, you're one of the coolest girl I know!" Lyanna told her, and meant every word. She couldn't watch Brienne be miserable – she was Brienne, the strongest girl she knew. "And you're beautiful." She told her truthfully, hugging her.

"Thank you, Lya." She murmured, still with her arms around Brienne, she looked at Catelyn and extended her arm so she could join in the hug – they stayed like that for awhile, in silence. Lyanna wondered when the last time had been when she felt this safe in someone's arms.

When they pulled back, they were all sitting on the couch. Lyanna reached for the remote control so she could turn off the TV, before turning to Catelyn asking.

"So you're the girly girl here. What do girls talk about on sleepovers?"

"Clothes." Lyanna gagged, making Catelyn laugh. "Also boys."

"Okay, boys. I think we can go with that. So, Brienne, do you like someone?" Lyanna asked her and this time she blushed even more, and Lyanna was sure she would say yes.

"No… But… howdoyouknowyoulikesomeone?" She mumbled so quickly, neither of them could understand.

"What?"

"Can I trust you?" She said closing her fist, and playing with her fingers.

"Of course, you can, Bree." Catelyn said.

"Sure."

"I've never liked anyone that way, at least that I know of, you know."

Lyanna wondered how could that be? She couldn't remember the time before she had her crush on Robert (even if they were just children in the beginning). "And I wonder what if I just didn't notice, and how would I know to find something in me that I've never felt before. And what if I can't feel love?"

"You feel love. You love your father… and your mother and siblings…" Catelyn said, all of them knew that to be true, by the way Brienne talked about her family.

"And so, you haven't fallen in love yet. You – we are young, still, someday, Brienne… someday…" Lyanna said, thinking that Brienne had been spared much heartbreak so far (but then she remembered her friend's family tragedy and knew that wasn't true). "Also can I ask another question?" Brienne nodded, so Lyanna continued, trying to think how to form this question the best way possible. "Are you… Do you like…"

"So you heard the rumours?" Brienne asked, looking down at the floor; people weren't nice to her at school and they would always try to make her life even harder, inventing rumours. "No, I don't think I'm gay, but what do I know about love? I think boys are…" She stopped trying to think of a word to best described it so Catelyn and Lyanna helped her.

"Handsome."

"Hot and fuckable."

"…yes… handsome in a way that I don't think girls are." She whispered.

"Okay." Lyanna said cheerfully. "But you know you can always tell us anything."

"Thank you. But can we change the subject, now?" Brienne asked.

"Sure." Lyanna answered, before turning to Catelyn with a smile in her face. "So… how are things with you and Ned?"

Catelyn immediatelly smiled and answered.

"Really good. It's completelly different from what I had with Brandon."

"They are different." Lyanna said as a matter of fact, fearing that her friend's interest on Ned wasn't because he was Ned, but because he was Brandon's brother.

"I know that, Lya. They are nothing alike, I'm grateful for that. But Brandon had been my only real boyfriend before, so… Don't you happen to compare Robert and Rhaegar sometimes?"

More than you could think, Lyanna thought with pain in her heart.

"Sometimes."

"That doesn't mean you still have feelings for him, and it doesn't mean I still have feelings for Brandon either." Catelyn said. Lyanna knew she was telling the truth, at least the last part about herself, about myself I'm not so sure. "I really like being with Ned, he makes me feel safe and special – and it's easy and simple, without complications or drama." Catelyn told her still smiling (and blushing).

"I'm glad my brother is treating you nicely. Do you want time alone with him? You can use my room if you want."

"No… me and Ned are… we are not… we…" Catelyn mumbled between blushes and bitting her lower lip.

"I know. I didn't mean that. I just thought to talk or something."

"Oh… right…" Catelyn agreed looking down. "Thank you for offering, but I think we can manage."

"Okay. I didn't want to make you nervous, Cat."

"I'm not." Lyanna was about to retort, when they heard a yawn, they both turned to Brienne, who was almost sleeping in the couch.

"Bree, don't fall asleep." Lyanna said, nudging her awake.

"I'm not sleeping." She mumbled, before yawning again and sitting straight.

"I think it's time for us to go up." Lyanna said and they all agreed

Neither of them was in the mood to blow up the airbed, so Lyanna suggested they could all just sleep in the bed.

"We won't fit." Brienne said.

"Yes, we will. Robert and I fitted and he's bigger than you, and there was still some space left. And you know you don't wanna have to blow up that thing."

"Okay. But you stay in the middle."

"Why me?!" Lyanna retorted.

"Because, you're smaller than either of us." Lyanna wanted to deny it, but it was true. Brienne was obviously taller and broader than both of them and Catelyn was at least a few inches taller than Lya.

So they all got into the bed, squeezed together, but warm and wished each other good night and sweet dreams, before nodding off to dream land.


The next morning, Lyanna woke up to find her alone in bed. As usual, she was the last to wake up. She dragged herself out of the bed, rubbing her eyes and stretching. When she was finally awake enough to look around, she noticed that one of towels she had left on the chair for Brienne and Catelyn was missing – so she supposed that one of them was taking a bath or a shower.

In the living room, she found her brother watching some cartoons on TV, and took a seat besides him on the couch, putting her feet on the coffee table, before asking.

"Have you seen Brienne or Catelyn?" Benjen nodded his head towards the backdoor. She looked out into the garden to see Catelyn sitting with Ned outside on the bench, talking quietly to each other.

"Have they been there long?" Lyanna asked him.

"Not long. When I came down Catelyn was already outside – I think she was playing with the snow. And when Ned came down, he went to sit with her."

Lyanna looked outside again, Ned had his arm around Catelyn's back and they were whispering and laughing to each other, not wanting to intrude in their moment, she turned back to the cartoons.

After fifteen minutes, she heard steps nearing the living room, looking up she found Brienne already dressed and finishing drying her short hair with the towel.

"Good morning, Lya, Benjen."

"Hi. Did you sleep well?" Lyanna asked her, while Benjen mumbled a good morning.

"Yeah." Brienne said, and after standing there for a few seconds awkwardly not knowing what to do, asked. "Where should I put the towel?"

"Give it to me I'll do it." Lyanna stood up, took the towel from her friend and opened the back door to the yard – now covered by snow that had fallen during the night and was starting to melt – intruding on her brother and her friend's own little world.

"Good morning, love birds." She said while she moved the covered part of the balcony, so she could hung up the towel, and keep it from the humidity, the best way she could since their dryer wasn't working and she didn't have any other choice.

"Good morning." They both said. Ned stood up and helped Catelyn up.

"You don't need to come inside, if you don't want to."

"It's getting late, maybe it's time for breakfast. I was thinking we could make pancakes or waffles." Ned suggested and Lyanna, giddy as a schoolgirl agreed.

Both of them followed her to the kitchen, and soon Benjen and Brienne joined them. They all prepared breakfast together – Lyanna had insisted on a big feast, so by the end there were pancakes, waffles, sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs on the table.

"Is Brandon coming down?" Brienne asked.

"I don't think so. He usually sleeps late. It's a miracle Lyanna is up at this hour."

"Hey!" Lyanna said slapping the back of her brother's head.

"You know it's true." The youngest brother said, laughing and jumping around the kitchen so Lya wouldn't hit him, too; but he was caught by surprised when their father came to the kitchen and picked Benjen up.

"How many times I've told you two to not run in the kitchen?! Especially when someone is cooking, you will get hurt." He said putting his youngest son down, and ruffling his hair, before kissing the top of Lyanna's head and patting Ned's back. "Good morning. Did you, girls, sleep well?"

"Yes, Mr. Stark. Thank you again for letting us stay over." Brienne said, surprisingly not choking on the words.

"No problem. I feel that I am not being a good host, making you all cook again." He said, seeing all the food on the table, knowing neither of his kids could do that alone.

"We like it, Mr. Stark. And it's the least we can do after occupying your house." Catelyn told him.

"Okay, thank you for breakfast. I hope my kids were helpful."

"Dad…" Lyanna moaned, it's not like we're useless – okay, maybe Brandon.

"Sorry." His father said laughing. "So what are you girls doing today?" He asked while everyone sat around the kitchen counter.

"I don't know. We haven't decided yet." Lyanna answered, trading a look with her friends.

"Okay. I'm going to the office after I drop off Benjen at his swimming lesson; but if you need anything just call the office."

"Thanks, dad. I'm sure we can fend for ourselves."

The rest of the meal was eaten in (almost) silence, at least until dad told Benjen he couldn't eat more because of the swimming lessons – her younger brother didn't agree at first, father had to tell him he could bring some of the pancakes to eat after class, with that the boy ran to his room.

When dad left to get his things and see if Benjen was ready to go, Lyanna suggested.

"Why don't we do nothing today?"

"What do you mean?" Neither of her friends seemed knowledgeable about the act of doing nothing.

"Just get into comfy clothes with blankets and watch stupid Christmas movies on TV."

"I didn't bring any "comfy" clothes." Catelyn said.

"Me neither."

"I can lend you some, Cat. Brienne, if you don't mind, Ned must have something that fits you." Lyanna said, eyeing Ned.

"Sure." Ned agreed.

"Okay. I like the idea." Catelyn said and Brienne quickly agreed.

After they finished eating, tyding up and had said goodbye to her father and younger brother, they all (except Brienne) took a bath, and changed into comfy clothes. Then Lyanna convinced them to come and play for a bit in the snow – she just loved doing this, even if the snow wasn't deep. Both of her friends were blown away by the snow, there was never much in the south especially not so early in december. They finally went inside when she noticed that her friends' fingers were turning blue from the cold.

Inside, Lyanna got the blankets and turned on the heater, while her friends took their places on the couch and looked for something to watch on the TV. Not finding anything they fancied, they got to talking and laughing. Lyanna was throwing a pillow to Brienne's face when they heard the footsteps coming down the stairs.

"I'm going out." She heard Ned say.

"Where?!" Lyanna asked.

"I'm going down to Howland's with Jory. Tell Brandon, he can come down if he wants or if he's bothering you – I'm not taking the car."

"Okay. Thanks. Also can you bring dinner from that place down…?"

"Sure. Brienne, what do you like…?"

"I can eat anything."

"Good." Ned turned to Catelyn, but stopped himself before he asked her anything, maybe remembering the fact that he actually knew Catelyn's favorite dish. "Bye. I'll see you later, girls." He said, waving to Brienne, ruffling Lyanna's hair, before aproaching Catelyn. Neither of them seemed to know what to do – until she reached for his hand and pulled him towards her. "You're wearing my sweater." Lyanna heard him whisper. Catelyn blushed, before she wrapped her arms around his neck and they shared a kiss – it was soft and sweet. Then they pulled away and Ned kissed her cheek again.

"Bye…" He said to her and then to the rest of the girls, before walking out, Catelyn followed him with her eyes and Lyanna threw a pillow at her.

"Hey, Lya! Don't do that!"

"Stop mooning…" Lyanna said. Catelyn threw the pillow back, making them all laugh.


Ashara Dayne

Ashara had missed having Elia around; the holidays had felt too long without Elia here. She just couldn't go home, she wasn't talking to Arthur since what he pulled at Halloween and she just knew he would be going home.

She spent her holidays at some frat party in the city's college – it had been fun and somehow the craziness was pretty much the same she would have endured if she had gone home.

But having Elia back meant she had to apologize for not doing the work she had promised to do – I had a good reason, firstly the boy from Braavos came for a visit and then I missed the earlier bus to college, that would give me time to work before the party, and then I just forgot... Probably because of the pills, that was good shit! But somehow, and leaving Ashara a bit insulted, Elia had already expected that and dropped a few papers on the table.

"Sure, Ash. Just please pick up this and write a coherent text using the research I did."

"I will. I'm sorry, Elia. I didn't want to..."

"Sure, you didn't. I'm going to my room, and I'm not in the mood for dinner." Elia left her alone in the middle of their living room, wondering what was going on – she had never been this cold to Ashara, so trying to get in her good graces again, she started working.

It wasn't easy to stay focused on the work, when she could hear the music coming from their neighbour's apartment, knowing she could be watching on TV, and especially with the screen of her cellphone lighting every few minutes. But she ignored it all and kept working. She re-read over Elia's notes and even got her book to check what some of the things she was writing about were. Ashara knew she was just starting – she really wanted to do a good job and show Elia she could be good at this – when the house phone rang, wanting to let Elia rest, she stood up and went to get the phone.
Ashara didn't recognize the number, but she answered it anyway.

"Sorry. Is this Ashara Dayne's house?"

"Yes. It's she."

"Oh... Ash, I've been texting for like a half hour. It's Ellaria from the party."

"I remember. I've been trying to do school work."

"Sure. I just wanted to know if you wanted to go out with us tonight. We are leaving in a half hour."

"Can't, I really need to do this." Elia will kill me if I blow it again.

"Oh... okay... I just thought it was your thing. I won't keep you from your homework any longer." Ellaria said in a condescending voice. Don't give in, Ashara Dayne, you already failed Elia's promise once. "I've got to go, we are just waiting for the guy with the weed to arrive – have you ever smoked the one that grows in Highgarden? Fuck it's the best you will ever have." Fuck! Fuck it! Brandon had told her that Highgarden's weed could get you the best highs and fucking while high on that weed was the best feeling ever. Really fuck it!

"You know what?! Where are you going?!"

"To an abandoned house near our school and then to the Street of Silk."

"Can I meet you guys later? I fucking need to do this, but I can work on it fast, I'll be done by tonight."

"Okay." Ellaria said gleefully. "Just text me when you arrive at the Street of Silk, I'll come pick you up."

"Thanks. See you later."

"Bye, Ash. Don't forget your fake I.D." Ellaria said, turning off the call.

Ashara, now with plans for tonight, moved faster to her room to finish the work. She worked non-stop, just trying to do it as quickly as she could – ending up with more typos than she wanted – and completely forgetting Elia's mood and how she wanted to talk to her and find out what was bothering her.

After she finally wrote the last sentence, she changed to a pair of lacy black underwear, under a long sleeved purple blouse with some cleavage showing and black skinny jeans, with some light make-up that she only used to highlight her already beautiful features. After she was dressed, she picked a couple of cookies from the shelf (knowing she couldn't drink on an empty stomach), left her work on the kitchen counter and left the house running (as much as she could in her heels) so she could reach the bus stop in time.

The trip was quicker than she thought it would be, and when she arrived at the start of the street, she called Ellaria, knowing that she would probably not hear a text in a crowded bar.

"I've arrived." She said when she heard Ellaria pick up the phone.

"Wait a second. I can't hear anything," she said, and Ashara could tell she was trying to make her way out of the building. "Sorry, I'm outside now," she said over the quieter noise.

"I've arrived."

Oh... Cool... Walk until, like, the middle of the street, I'll meet you there." Ashara kept walking down the street, trying to ignore all the cat calls, but she turned when she heard a whistle and then her name, and saw Ellaria running to her. She pulled Ashara into a hug, before kissing her lips – Ellaria's lips were unbelievably sweet, tasting like vodka and strawberries.

"Come on," she said pushing Ashara by her hand, to a bar nearby but before Ashara could stop her to go get a drink by the counter, they kept moving until they were out by the back door, moving down a small flight of stairs.

"She's with me." Ellaria told the bouncer standing at the entrance, who let them in.

Ashara couldn't believe where she was. The lights were almost dark with shades of purple and dark red, most occupants were men – most in suits, having what seemed like business meetings – all types of women walked around, almost naked, only in their lacy underwear, some of them without a bra even, and there were the poles up there with two beautiful women dancing on them – she knew where Ellaria had brought her to, she had brought her to a fucking strip club.

"Chataya, bring me two shots of tequila. And your best girl, this one here is a virgin." Ellaria yelled to the girl behind the counter, dropping an arm around Ashara, while they moved to some seats in the back with a few people she recognized from the party. But there was another thing on Ashara's mind, that it was the first time in a long time someone called her some kind of a virgin.

"He, guys. You remember Ash from Thanksgiving." They all smiled and nodded making space for her and Ellaria to sit.

"You know I'm not a lesbian, right?!" Ashara whispered to Ellaria, who said:

"Who needs labels? We're young, just enjoy while we can." She smiled, before kissing Ashara's lips again, this time longer, and Ashara kissed her back and found it wasn't that different from kissing boys – there were just softer and sweeter. When they pulled away, and Ellaria took a drag from the joint someone had given her during their kiss, and passed it to Ashara, who took a drag.

"Fuck… This is good."

"I told you Highgarden does this good." Ellaria said, before adding like a true Dornish: "About the only thing they can do right."

"You're fucking right." Ashara agreed, before taking another drag.

"Stop hogging the joint." One of the boys said, so she passed it to them just in time to see one girl come closer with two shot glasses. She recognized her as the girl at the counter when they came in.

"Here they are, two shots of tequila for the ladies. And myself for the new girl."

"What?!" Ellaria asked outraged. "She gets the owner?! I'm outraged!" She exclaimed.

"I'm Chataya, by the way. Since your dear friend didn't introduce us. Anything special, it's your pick, girl – it's on the house." The girl… no… woman climbed in her lap, while Ashara downed the shot. "The only rules are no touching. Anything else, sweetie, it's fair game."

"Sure." Ashara laid back, and felt the older woman's body move above hers, she light movements of her pelvis – almost touching her, but never really doing it – her arms thrown around her neck, whispering certain things in her ear and the sweetness of her dark skin so close to her lips – she had to contain herself not to kiss it. Surprisingly, Ashara was enjoying this much more than she first thought she would, and she was actually sad when Chataya stopped by hearing one of her co-workers yelling that one of the regulars had arrived and was asking for her.

"Sorry, have to go." She said climbing out of her lap. "If any of you need anything, just call." Chataya told their table.

Ashara watched Chataya's body while she walked away, and didn't even notice Ellaria moving closer to her, whispering.

"It was fun, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

"Glad you liked it. Maybe later, you and I can go up to the pole. Chataya lets me do it, normally, she just needs the business dinners to be over. Then she will let us go for a round." Ashara didn't care how much the idea seemed to scare her; it would be fun, so she just said:

"Sure."

"Good. Now bottle up." She said giving her a drink. "Pills?"

"Why not?!" Ashara took a few that she wasn't sure what they were, and between that, the weed and the booze, the night was soon just a blur.


There was a pounding in her head, mixed with the car noise and the light coming from outside. What?! Light Outside?! Fuck! Ashara quickly reached for her cell phone, and looked at the time. Fuck! Fuck! Did Elia oversleep? She wondered while looking for that magical pill for hangovers that Brandon had sold to her. Finding it she went to the bathroom to swallow the pill.

Then she knocked on Elia's door. Not hearing an answer, she peeked inside and found it empty. What!? Elia went without me?! Ashara still couldn't believe it, so she, as usual, ignored the thought and got dressed the quicker she could, stacking the few singles she found in her bra (it seemed Ellaria had actually led her to the pole) in her bedside table. After getting dressed she ran to the bus, knowing there would be one that passed near the school in a few minutes and if she caught it, she wouldn't actually miss the entire first class.

"Can I come in? I'm sorry I'm late." She asked, between deep breaths – after she had to run all the way from the bust stop.

"Of course, Miss Dayne." Professor Barristan told her. Her usual place next to Elia was occupied by Catelyn – fucking Catelyn Tully – Ashara noticed that Elia didn't even dare to look at her, so Ashara ignored her as well and took the only free desk, in the front row.

She spent the entire class so distracted by Elia's behaviour and wondering why she was acting this way – Ashara hadn't done anything wrong, at least, different from what she had always done – that she didn't even hear the bell. Suddenly noticing everyone packing up around her, she did the same, until she heard the teacher.

"Miss Dayne, I would like to talk to you before you go."

"Of course." She said, and she waited that everyone left the classroom before approaching the teacher.

"Sorry I was late, Mr. Barristan."

"Most students use this time to promise they won't do it again."

"Most students lie," she said. He laughed quietly and Ashara added "I can try."

"That's good enough for me. But actually that wasn't the reason I called you, Miss Dayne," he said turning serious again. "You didn't hand over the paper I asked as holiday's homework."

Fuck! Double fuck! I knew I had something important to do.

"Half your grade depends on that paper. I was clear about that."

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Barristan, there's no excuse."

"I thought so." He came closer and rested his hands on her shoulders. "I'm going to give you a second chance; you can deliver the assignment until the last period on Friday. But you have to promise me you'll do it."

"Yes, Mr. Barristan. Thank you for this chance."

"Do not let me down, Miss Dayne. And I hope you understand your paper will suffer a reduction of your grade – I haven't decided if it will be 50% or less."

"I understand," she said making for the door, knowing the conversation was over. "Thank you for the chance, Mr. Barristan." She said leaving the classroom.

The rest of the classes passed quickly. Neither of them were with Elia and she didn't even try to talk to her during breaks. Ashara didn't know what she would do if she really lost Elia – she was Elia, one of the most important people in her life, the one that made her feel unique and special, like she could actually do something with her life, like she wasn't a complete loser with no future.

Ashara skipped lunch not wanting to be in school for even one more second, and was lucky enough to catch the first bus that stopped by to take her home. When she finally arrived at her apartment she took off her clothes and threw herself in her bathtub, trying to calm her nerves and clean her body from all the things she did the night before. She ended up falling asleep in her bath for an half an hour.

With her energy recharged, she prepared a quick lunch – scrambled eggs and a sandwich – and brought her notebook to the counter, so she could start on her paper. She was able to start it, but she just didn't know what to say. A million things and nothing were going through her head, and no idea stuck. She tried putting on music or just pacing the room while talking to herself – nothing worked. Her mind was still stuck on Elia's behaviour.

Ashara knew she couldn't do anything without relaxing for a bit, so she picked her cellphone and dialled the number she had been ignoring for so long. His voice when he first answered made her feel something that she would always try to believe it was just heartburn.

"Hi, Ash."

"Brandon…" she said, followed by an awkward silence.

"You called me," he said, breaking the silence.

"Right…" she whispered.

"…So what do you want?"

"I was wondering if we could meet somewhere."

"You don't think I'm going through a phase anymore?"

"It's complicated."

"So, you still think I'm mooning over Cat. But you're still calling me. You must be really desperate."

"Fuck, Brandon! I just need…" she said, exasperated.

"Okay, Ash. I understand. Where do you want to meet?"

"I don't know. My apartment is out of the question."

"My house too."

"Do you know the small bar on the main street, where we used to go?"

"Sure. I can meet you there in forty minutes."

"Okay, that sounds cool," she answered him.

"Oh… wait… I can pick you up if you want."

"Yes, please. That might work better."

"Okay, see you later, babe."

"See you later, Brandon."

After ending the call, Ashara still tried to work a bit longer on the paper. She was able to write at least one more paragraph, before quitting and going to her room. In her room, she tried to decide what clothes to wear. Not being in the mood to go all out, since it was only Brandon, she chose a pair of black jeans and a simple violet turtleneck, and applied a bit of make-up while she waited for him.

Out of nowhere, she heard a honk coming from one of the cars outside, and looking though the window she recognized the Starks' car. She got her bag, and got out of the house, walking downstairs (slowly, just to piss Brandon off). When she finally left the building, the car was parked right in front of the door (blocking the way for any other car, luckily at this hour there wasn't much traficc), Brandon's hand was out of the car window, with a half smoked cigarette between his fingers. His eyes were closed and he seemed to be far away, not noticing Ashara until she opened the car door.

"Hi," she said, while Brandon finished smoking and threw the cigarette out of the window before turning and kissing her lips. She could still taste the smoke in his mouth, making her crave a smoke herself.

"Good to see you, Ash. Do you want one?" He asked extending his pack of cigarettes, like he could read her mind and know all of her wishes.

"Thank you." She said, taking one, and he lighted it for her before they drove away.

"So where are we going?" He asked, while she rolled down the window and blew the smoke out onto the street.

"Don't know. But I'm not really in the mood to go to a place with people."

"How about I stop at the liquor store, buy something and then we can go to the Dragonpit at Rhaenys' hill?"

"I like the idea." So after agreeing on their plans, Brandon drove to the closest liquor store, parked the car, took his fake I.D. from the glove compartment and disappeared inside the store.

Ashara was biting her nails while she waited – a habit she thought she had ended years ago – hoping his I.D. was good enough (it had been all the times before). She couldn't have been more relieved when she saw Brandon come out of the store with a bag and a smirk on his face. He put it in the backseat before starting the car's engine.

The drive to the top of Rhaenys' hill was quicker than she thought, and while Brandon found a good place to park the car inside the Dragonpit – an old park, that had been neglected for years, and was empty most of the time – Ashara reached for the bag, and took out the items inside, there was a case of beer and chips (and the receipt – she tried to ignore the phone number scribbled in it).

"Sorry, I didn't get anything stronger. I'm not really in the mood, especially if I still have to drive back to Winterfell."

"Right, no problem." She said lying, she did want something stronger, she would even like some cocaine right now – but she knew Brandon's rules. He only did it on special occasions, never more than one time in like two months.

He took the beers and opened one bottle for each of them, they sat quietly nursing on their own beer and sharing the chips, when Brandon interrupted the silence to ask.

"So why did you call me?"

"I don't know." She really didn't know… She was confused… She just needed… "I think I just needed a familiar face."

"I thought we didn't do shit like that," he said with a smirk on his face, and it was true when they started doing this – whatever this is – the deal was just sex, but somehow over those couple of months they had gotten to know each other, and now… she couldn't understand what this was anymore…

"Elia is not talking to me, and I don't have a fucking clue why. And I can't call my brother since what he did at the Frey party."

"Right… Sorry about that."

"If I remember right, I was more than willing when you took me that night," she told him, and he laughed.

"Not that, I'm not gonna apologize for fucking you. But maybe, I could have locked the door or handled the shit with your brother a bit better."

"Yeah… My brother caught me blowing you, I don't think he could have reacted in a better way," she told him, laughing. "But maybe next time, locking the door would be a good idea."

"So there's gonna be a second time?!" He said, smirking at her, and he was just too damn irresistible.

"If you're a good boy," she said, turning fully to him, her eyes on his, fully aware of what they both wanted to do.

"And if I'm a bad boy?" He asked, his voice getting lower. Ashara knew what to do; she put her beer aside and moved his chair down so he was lying down, before taking his beer too.

"I may have to punish you," she whispered in his ear, while she climbed on top of his body. Brandon brought her lips down for a hungry kiss, while his hand ventured under her sweater, creating goosebumps all over her skin, and she moved her hips, making slight contact with his. It was enough for him to moan, while she pulled back and took off her sweater.

"I fucking missed this, Ash…"

Me too…


She was lying on top of Brandon; just barely covered in a blanket (she tried not to wonder why he had a blanket in his car), trying to protect herself from the cold that came through the little bit of the window that was opened. His right hand rested on her ass, while his other hand held the cigarette they were sharing – they both loved smoking after sex, and that had become a kind of tradition for them. She rested her chin in his chest and lightly kissed his lips, which had the distinct taste of smoke… and herself.

"Can you pass me the beer?" Brandon asked her, Ashara extended her arm and got the closest bottle, took a swig and gave it to him. "Thanks," he said, taking his hand from her butt, pulling the chair a bit higher, and took a few gulps of his beer.

"What's the time?" she asked, while she sat, and started looking for her bra, somewhere on the floor.

"Late. I need to think about going home." She looked behind her, and saw the time, knowing he was right.

"Agreed." She said, climbing out of his lap.

"Don't." He said, pushing her for another kiss, almost burning her hair, as she felt the cigarette way too close to her skin.

"Fuck! Brandon, my skin!" She said, this time, finally climbing from his lap trying to check for cigarette burns.

"Sorry…" he said guiltily. He stubbed out the cigarette before throwing it out of the window and looked at Ashara's mostly-naked body, since she had only her bra on.

"Stop looking at me like that. We've established we don't have any more time."

"Right," he said, while they both got dressed, still eyeing each other. And after three more pleas from Brandon to do it again, and Ashara telling him no, he started driving her back home, and her fear of having to face Elia came back, and she wished she had taken Brandon up on his offer.

She didn't even notice when he parked, too distracted by her trembling hands.

"Ash, are you okay?" Brandon asked, resting his hand on her shoulder.

"Sure. Sorry, just a bit nervous."

"It's Elia. It's you and Elia, you will work it out." He said reassuringly, before saying goodbye and driving away.

Ashara slowly walked to her floor, trying to delay the inevitable, and when she was finally in front of the door, she took a few deep breaths before finally opening it.

Inside, the smell of a freshly-cooked meal filled the air, and she noticed Elia, with her hair up, wearing an apron in front of the stove.

"Hi, Ash." Elia said not seeming even a bit mad. Ashara wondered what was going on.

"Hello, Elia." She said, taking a place at the counter. "Do you need any help?"

"I don't think so, but thank you. I'm making your favourite, to compensate for the fact that you couldn't go home during the holidays. And then I thought I could help you with your paper and then maybe we could watch a movie."

"Really?! You're not mad." Ashara asked, surprised. Her voice sounded like a little kid's.

"Why would I be mad?"

"You didn't wake me up this morning."

"I thought you should sleep. You got home late."

"Right… I'm sorry about that."

"You don't need to be sorry, I'm proud you finished doing your work first – it was quite good."

"I'm glad. I'm sorry I didn't help more."

Elia didn't answer. She just turned back to the food and Ashara was just so relieved that everything was going to be okay. While Elia finished preparing the food, Ashara set the table.

"Leave it, we can talk while we eat." Elia said, when she saw Ashara packing the book and notebook she had left on the counter this afternoon before leaving.

"Are you sure? You don't need to help, if you don't want to." Yes, you do... I can't do this alone...

"I don't mind helping, that's what friends are for." Elia said while she brought the food to the table, and served each of them.

"So can I ask where were you this afternoon?"

"With Brandon."

"So you're okay now?"

"Not really. It was weird today; it seemed deeper than the normal stuff for us. I think he's still a bit messed up because of the Catelyn Tully and Ned thing."

"So why did you call him? I know you could have called others."

"I thought you were mad at me..." Ashara confessed with her eyes on the floor. "And I needed a familiar face."

"Oh... Ash... I can get mad at you once in awhile, but that never means we won't work out our problems. You know, it's you and I until the end. You can always trust me."

"Thank you."

They ate in silence for a few minutes, before they started working on Ashara's school paper. To help her, Elia asked her questions that she knew would help Ashara explore the book further; they talked about the book for the rest of the meal and for a bit after they finished eating too.

"Okay, I think that's enough ideas to write a good essay. Now, you only need to put everything together." Elia said when they finally finished working.

"Okay, thank you." Ashara told her, relieved that they had finally finished it. "Do you wanna watch a movie now? I'm sure you brought some from your mother's, and I'm not in the mood to continue this right now."

"Okay. But keep working while I put the movie on. You can re-read what you already have done."

So Ashara did what Elia told her to do, while she heard her roommate move around the room, preparing her things.

"We're ready." Elia said from the couch. So Ashara dropped the pencil and jumped next to her, laying her head on Elia's shoulder. Before the film started, Ashara took the chance to tell Elia something important.

"I have something very interesting to tell you."

"Me too."

"Really?!" Ashara inquired, and Elia nodded. "Okay on three we both say it."

"One..."

"...two..."

"...three."

"I made out with a girl... on Thanksgiving and again last night."

"I'm going to be an aunt. Oberyn got a girl pregnant, she's a stripper."

They both said it at the same time, ending up with both of them looking at each other, not being able to tell which of them was more shocked.

Chapter Text

Davos Seaworth

Davos' life wasn't like any of his colleagues at school. He didn't have a rich mommy and daddy, and for sure, he didn't have a trust fund. Everything he got was because he worked hard.

He got into the best school in the state, a private school, because the school thought it looked good to have a student from Flea Bottom, that somehow that would show they gave a crap about the poor – they don't…

They paid for school but nothing more, he was supposed to pay for the expensive books, how he was supposed to have every paper typewritten or how to scrape enough money to pay for the public transport to get to school, and when he couldn't he had to walk everyday (or run if he had the morning shifts at the coffee house).

But Davos still got the scholarship in his last year of middle school, and he actually thought everything would be better, that they would accept him. The truth was that most people, either mocked him – the second hand clothes, the non existent cellphone and mostly because he had to work, two jobs to actually feed himself and his father – or were afraid of him, believing that everyone from Flea Bottom was a thief like the ones on the news.

So he wondered why after doing a double shift at the car shop, and having been at the coffee house before school, he was going back to that hellhole that was his school to go to some stupid dance. The answer was rather simple: because Marya deserved something nice, to have fun once in a while.

So after work, he walked home, taking a short-cut he knew – since it wasn't dark enough to be dangerous – the door of the building was opened again, luckily it didn't look forced, and he made sure he closed it properly, before unlocking the four locks to his apartment in the first floor. It was a small apartment, with just one bedroom, leaving Davos to sleep on the couch in the living room. When he entered he immediately heard his father's voice.

"Son!" He followed the voice and found his father in the living room, watching TV. His father was a good man, a soldier – in the real sense of the world – he had been discharged when he lost both his left leg and right arm on the front lines. At the hospital where he had been taken he met Davos' mother – a nurse. Soon after, they moved back to the states, to Westeros. His mother took a job at the King's Landing Hospital but dad couldn't find a job (the capital was over-populated and everyone was looking for a job, and why would someone hire a man who couldn't walk or write?). His father taught himself how to write with his other hand and took care of Davos until he started school (and sometimes other children, from neighbours or friends, joined them). And they lived well, they had enough money, there were enough food and other essentials. Even if he knew he couldn't have many toys, he was happy, but then in one night everything changed. His mother was killed in a mugging on her way home from the hospital. That was over three years ago, and since then Davos had to get a second job (sometimes even a third). Nobody would hire his father still so they lived off the money Davos earned.

"Good afternoon, Dad. How was your day?"

"Good. School?"

"Fine, happy the term is finally over. Also they asked me to work full days during the holidays at the coffee house, so we may get a little more money."

"Davos, maybe you should take the holidays to relax or something?" Father said with a worried tone.

"We need the money…"

"I know… but still… I just don't want you to look back and think you wasted your youth."

"I won't. I'll have the nights and I guess a few hours a day, dad. It will be okay." He told him, knowing his father couldn't change his mind.

"If you say so, son," his father said without looking convinced. "The school thing is tonight, right?" Davos nodded. "Good, I took off the suit out of the closet; it's hanging on my bedroom's door."

"Thank you, dad." Father was letting him use the suit he had worn on his wedding day. "I'm going to shower and change. I'll be back in half an hour."

Davos got out of the bathroom twenty minutes later, shaved, already in his suit, but still struggling with the tie.

"Someone smells nice," his father told him, knowing that his son had put on the cologne he kept for special occasions. "Come here, I'll help you with the tie." Davos got on his knees so he would be at the same height as his dad.

"Are you staying at Marya's tonight?" his father asked and seeing Davos' reaction he quickly added, "You know, son, I'm not stupid, I know perfectly well what you two get up to. If you remember I did have the talk with you, and I suppose you two are careful, especially because she already has that brood of hers." Davos looked at his feet, trying to think of something to say.

"Yes, sir."

"How many times have I told you to look people in the eye?! Also I can't fix your tie if you're looking down." Davos did as his father said and looked up, while his father started over on the tie. "So are you coming home?"

"If you don't mind, I would like to stay with Marya."

"Okay. Now, stand up, I want to see how you look," he said, patting his son's chest, looking proudly at him. "Such a handsome boy, your mother would be proud."

"Thanks, dad."

"No problem, now get going, you don't want to leave your lady waiting."

"Right." Davos took his wallet and keys from his school bag, and went to the door, but before he could walk out he turned to his father and said. "Dad, if you need anything, the numb..."

"In the fridge, I know. Both your school's number and the coffee place in front of Marya's place, I know."

"Okay but..."

"Food in the fridge too. I know. Just go, son."

Davos said goodbye, and finally left the apartment and the building – double checking if both doors were properly locked – and started walking in direction to Marya's house, pondering if he should or should not buy her flowers. Along the way he was accompanied by whistles and cat-calls, between insults as usual. If life wasn't hard enough at school among all the rich people, it wasn't any easier here since he started going to a private school, with people calling him a rich kid and saying that he thought he was too good for them now that he was friends with their bosses' kids. If they only knew how it really was for him to be there – that just like them he needed to work to sustain his family.

He reached Marya's building and prepared to knock on the first floor window, knowing that the bell wouldn't work. Luckily one of her neighbours was leaving the building.

"Good afternoon, Davos."

"Hello, Mrs. M," he said, holding the door for her, before entering the building himself. He went up the stairs to the second floor, and knocked on the door, he could hear some movement behind the door, and he could see someone looking through the peephole, before the door was opened.

"Hi, Davos."

"Good afternoon, Iris. How are you?" he asked, ruffling the nine year old girl's hair.

"Hurry up! I'm sure that's time to send whoever it was away." Her oldest sister yelled.

"I'm coming!" Little Iris yelled back, and pushed Davos' arm. "Come on, Marya is in the kitchen."

In the kitchen, Nadia, a girl of eleven – almost twelve, like she always insisted on adding – quickly pushed Iris back to the chair and the books at the table, while Davos made his way to the other side of the table, where Marya was feeding the younger girl – just shy of one year.

"Hi, kid!" He told Nadia as he ruffled her hair, the girl immediately fixed her hair before smiling at him and getting back to work.

Davos moved to greet Marya, bending down so he could kiss her lips and touch the little baby's nose, making her giggle at him and spit out some food she had in her mouth. Marya cleaned the girl's mouth, and turned to Davos.

"You look handsome, you know," she smiled and added. "I'm sorry, I'm not ready yet, but Annabelle is not cooperating today."

"No problem. If you need we can..."

"No. We're going, you just need to wait for a bit. Maybe in the meantime you can help the girls with Iris' homework."

"Sure." He sat with them and started looking at the math problems – they should know how to do this by now, but that school had never been the best (immediately after he started High School, Davos understood he hadn't learned half of the things his classmates learned during middle school).

He explained the problem more than once, trying to make sure they understood, but he wasn't sure they did. But he had found out that Iris groaned in misery the same way as Marya, and Nadia crumpled her forehead just as Marya did when he tried to help her with math – most times they would give up and end up making out in her bed or his couch.

Finished with their homework, he went to their money drawer and added to it some of the money he had made that day. He had been doing that for about three months now, since her parents left – without even saying goodbye, just a letter saying they had gone to look for some jobs or better places to live and that they would send money, but there was still no money or news from them. Marya had quit school and was working three jobs, while Nadia had taken her first job – but even then he knew the money coming in wasn't enough, so he helped them.

"Davos." He heard Marya calling for him. "Can you please finish feeding Annabelle? I need to go get dressed."

"Sure. Go," he said taking her place in front of the worn out baby chair. He finished feeding the smashed banana to Annabelle, who seemed to be cooperating with him much better than with her sister, and took her to the small living room, where Iris had joined both her younger sisters – one girl of five and another of six – playing on the floor with old dolls.

"Where's Nadia?" He asked then, not finding her anywhere.

"She's helping Marya into the dress."

"Oh... okay."

"You look weird dressed like that." The five year old said, climbing onto the couch so she could sit next to Davos.

"No, he doesn't. He looks like a prince," the six year old said, dropping the doll on the floor and joining them on the couch.

"Oh... he does," the five year old finally agreed, before asking. "Where are you taking sis?"

"A school dance." Davos answered them, but before either could ask anything else, Nadia came to the living room.

"Come on, Marya is ready, you've got to see her." Davos picked up Annabelle and led the other girls to the hallway leading to the oldest girl room, while Nadia went back inside the room for just a few seconds. "Okay. I'm here to announce Princess Marya, the fairest lady of all the land." She said smiling, while her younger sisters jumped with enthusiasm.

The door slowly opened, Marya walked out just as slowly, taking all the thoughts from Davos's mind. She looked breathtaking, her dark curly hair falling over her shoulders, her body covered in a green dress, and he couldn't help but smile at her.

"Go get her. I can hold Annabelle." Iris told him, and pushed him forward. Davos, joining her sister's game, bent his knee in front of Marya, and took her hand, kissing her knuckles.

"M'lady…" He smiled at her and she smiled right back, pulling him back up. "You do look beautiful, Marya."

"Of course I do, I think I haven't been in a classy dress for years. You just see me in clothes covered in food,… or vomit. I'm still too fat, and my nose is still too…" Marya complained and rambled on, but before she could complain anymore, Davos pushed her to him, kissing her lips passionately. She melted in his arms and brought her arms around his neck. Behind them they could hear a few aww and others eww, making them pull away. Davos left his arm around her waist, kissed the top of her curls and whispered.

"I like you everyday, Marya. Even when you have food in your hair or Annabelle has thrown up on you – or other things that are even worse. I love you at your best and worst." She smiled so hard at that, that he couldn't help but kiss her lips again.

"Love you too," she said, before detangling herself from his arms to go pick the young girl from the nine-year-old girl.

"I'm going to go get you your lipstick, Davos kissed it all off." Nadia said running back inside, sending an I will kill you look to Davos – so like her sister's – why bother?! I will just kiss it off again, Davos thought.

Nadia came back and gave her sister the lipstick, who applied it before packing it in her own bag, while Nadia held Annabelle.

"Okay, girls, Davos and I are going now. You know the rules. Nadia is in charge, there's no going out or inviting people over…" Marya noticed that her six-year-old sister was going to say something, "…no, not even, the Waters from across the street. You know where the phone numbers are if you need anything, Nadia, Nadia, can run across the street to call – look both sides before crossing the street – you ask for Davos on the phone, okay?" Nadia nodded, and Davos noticed Iris nodding too. "Also I asked Mrs. M to look after you, you can ask her for help if you need. Also dinner is in the fridge, you just need to put it in the microwave."

"Sure," Nadia said happily. "Go have fun, sis, you deserve it."

"Are you sure you have everything?" Marya asked, always the mother hen.

"Yesss…" Nadia said, exasperating.

"Okay." Marya said, going to kiss each of the girls' cheeks, asking them once again to behave, while Davos ruffled their hair and kissed the top of their heads, promising to make pancakes the next morning.

After that, they finally made the walk to the door, but when Marya was closing the door, she remembered.

"And don't open the door for strangers." She said to her sisters inside.

"Is that all?" Davos asked making their way down the stairs.

"Yes. I think so. I'm just worried about leaving them alone."

"We can stay, if you want," he told her, knowing he would do anything Marya wanted.

"No need. We haven't had time for just us for so long, I wasn't kidding when I said I hadn't been in a dress – at least like that, for something not work related – in so many years."

"You really look good. I don't think I have seen it before."

"It's new. It's nothing, I found it in Walmart a few days ago."

"It looks really good on you."

"Oh… sure…" she said sarcastically, "The girls at your school will have dress costing more than what I make in a month." A month… only if you're counting both our wages.

"You're still the most beautiful there." He said, while they took a sit on the bus stop.

"Flatterer…" she accused him, resting her head on his shoulder. "And I thought we were walking there."

"If some girls are getting a limousine, I think I can pay for the bus ride."

"Sure you can, rich man. But really, limousines?!"

"I may be exaggerating a bit."

"Just a bit…" she giggled, and continued resting her head on his shoulder until the bus finally arrived, and they took a place in the back.

"Is the bag also new?" Davos wondered while playing with her fingers.

"Do you actually know my entire wardrobe?"

"No." Probably, I've helped you pack it enough times.

"If you say so," she said, not convinced. "I borrowed it from a co-worker, I reached the conclusion that all my bags are enormous, so they can fit dolls, and colouring books, and pencils, and diapers, and food, and… I don't know what else."

"I imagine. Do you have any news from your parents?"

"No. Still no phone-call or letter, or anything, the girls are getting worried and have been asking for them – I don't know what to tell them anymore," Marya said sadly, pulling him closer.

"And social services?" A few weeks ago, Marya had called crying, scared that they would come and take her sisters away.

"Luckily, nobody appeared. You have to thank your dad again for going to the girls' school again."

"No problem, he didn't mind. And he told me to tell you if you need anything like that for him, just ask. He also offered to babysit."

"I'm afraid the girls would be a bit too much for him."

"He took care of me and the kids on the block when I was a kid."

"Okay, thank him for the offer." Davos heard her say, before seeing her close her eyes. He thought she had fallen asleep, until he heard her say. "Thank you, Davos."

"For what?!"

"Do you think I didn't see you put in the money? You need it."

"Dad and I are doing well, I got both my wages and his pension. You, girls, need it more."

"But it's not your job."

"It's not my job. But you're my family too, and if I can I will help take care of you."

"Thank you, babe. Thank you very much," she said with her eyes still closed. He let her rest her eyes for a bit longer until he knew they were reaching his school.

"Marya, we're here."

She opened her eyes, stretched a bit – having actually fallen asleep, even if she wouldn't admit it – and they made their way to the school.

And it seemed he hadn't exaggerated. There were limos at the front, he couldn't recognize some of the students, just the ones coming out from the longest and most extravagant limo – a pair of blond hair, the boy in a suit that fit him perfectly (not like the one Davos was wearing, that was a bit loose and secondhanded) and girl draped in a red dress, adorned in jewels and wearing a tiara.

"Fuck, who are they?" Marya whispered.

"Cersei and Jaime Lannister."

"Lannister! As in Tywin Lannister?" Davos nodded. "Wow… Sometimes I still can't believe you go to school with these people." Me neither. "Fuck, what am I doing here, Davos? I can't compare to any of those girls… I…"

Davos reached with his hands to hold her face in front of his, and told her seriously:

"Of course, you don't compare to them… You're so much better – you're real. You're Marya." He kissed her lips and she rested in his warm embrace, before tugging on his hand and telling him:

"Come on, I wanna meet Stannis. You haven't shut up about him since you met each other." As always, he followed her inside the school, and when she realized she didn't know where to go, Davos took the lead and lead her to an enormous gym. It was decorated, and there wasn't a single trace of the sweaty girls and boys that had run inside that afternoon.

"It looks beautiful," she said with her eyes shinning; and Davos had to admit she was right. Whoever was on the committee for this party deserved a round of applause.

Davos looked around trying to look for Stannis, who would be sitting at some of the tables since he was sure he wouldn't be caught dancing, but he couldn't find him (or his brother), so he supposed neither had arrived.

Davos started guiding Marya to one of the tables, in a far corner away from everybody, so they wouldn't be bothered, when he heard that dreaded voice calling for him.

"Seaworth!"

"Melisandre," he said turning around, Stannis' friend was wearing a long red dress – the same color as her hair or the necklace she always wore – with a low neckline that almost reached her belly button, with her pale skin glowing, with her… His thoughts were cut short when he felt Marya stepping on his foot to call for attention.

"Aren't you going to introduce me?" she asked him, with the same face she used when one of her sisters broke a plate.

"Yes. Of course. Melisandre, this is Marya," he said kissing the top of her head, trying to get back in her good graces – she didn't pull away, so that was a good sign. "Marya, this is Melisandre."

"Meli, please," she said, going for two kisses on each of Marya's cheeks and catching her by surprise. "Davos talks a lot about you."

"All good things, I hope."

"Oh… certainly. There's no doubt this boy worships the floor you walk on." This was able to put a smile back on Marya's face – and Davos wasn't ashamed to admit it was completely true. "Oh. I think I can hear Stannis coming in, before he gets scared by the people smiling and dancing. Save a seat for us," she said, before walking… no… sliding away.

"Please tell me she doesn't dress like that everyday, or that at least you don't drool everyday," Marya asked sitting down in one of the chairs, while Davos took the chair next to her.

"No… of course. That was poorly done…" he said, feeling guilty.

"Oh… Davos… I trust you, love. You know, look, don't touch. It's not like I don't look."

"What?!" He said outraged by her confession. "Who?!"

"I'm not telling you," she told him, crossing her arms in front of her, so he decided to used the infallible way to get things out of her – other than my mad skills in bed, of course.

"No, please don't," she begged while he pushed her to his lap and started tickling her, "No, please no… stop…"

"Tell me."

"No. No… please…" They couldn't stop laughing, and Marya kicked him trying to get out. "Okay, okay, I'll tell you."

"So…"

"Salladhor Saan." No…My childhood friend. "He works out in front of the shop, without a shirt and… those abs…" she said, smirking at him, and he tickled her again, now kissing her neck while she laughed, until they heard someone clearing their throat behind them.

Marya immediately stood up, probably thinking it was a teacher. Davos knew perfectly well it was Stannis.

"Davos," he said nodding to him, and then extending his hand to Marya. "You must be Marya."

"Yes." Davos could feel that Marya had a sir on the tip of her tongue. "It's a pleasure to meet you," she said, taking his hand.

"Likewise."

Davos looked between them nervously; he wanted them to get on okay. Stannis was the best friend he had in this place – the only one that didn't give a shit about his background. But what did he plan to do?

"So why don't we sit?" Melisandre asked, interrupting the awkward silence.

They nibbled on the food present at all the tables, while they talked. The girls kept most of the conversation going. Melisandre insisted on questioning Marya about her life – so in half an hour, she had told her about her sisters, how she had met Davos, and even about her parents (having squeezed Davos' hand hard in that moment). But Davos also noticed that as usual, Melisandre didn't share much about her own life.

But now it was just him, Marya and Stannis at the table (Melisandre had left to meet her cousin, and had already been traded by at least two different pair of man's arms), and Marya was trying to make conversation.

"So, Davos told me you were a freshman."

"Yes," Stannis responded. Marya waited for him to say something else. After about a minute later, he finally seemed to get it. "Yes. Davos told me you dropped out of school." Okay, most people wouldn't say that. Davos knew Stannis didn't mean that as an insult or some kind of scorn; he had just decided to tell her what he knew. Davos also knew Stannis wouldn't realize that this could sound a bit rude.

"Right. My family needed to be taken care of." She told him in a hard and cold voice – that somehow resembled Stannis' usual tone – and Davos squeezed her leg, trying to prevent her from going into full rant mode. "Davos, please, would you take me to the dance floor?" Understanding her need to get away, he took her hand and led her to the dance floor, leaving Stannis alone at the table.

"Stannis didn't mean that, he was just…"

"Right… Davos, what I need right now is not you defending the guy, who I just met, pointing out I'm a high school dropout. Just dance with me."

Davos couldn't help but agree. He put his hands around her waist, while she circled her arms around his neck, resting her head on his shoulder. "You know I like this, it's peaceful. I thank you again for taking me out of the house, we should do this more." She was saying this now, but he knew that she dreaded leaving the girls alone in the house.

They slow danced for more two songs and an half, until Davos decided to call it quits – he had already stepped on Marya's feet too much.

"So how about I go get you something to drink?"

"Sure. Also bring me caviar, they have it, right? I wanna know what the big deal is. I will make my way to the table."

"Are you calm enough?"

"Yes…" she told him smiling, reassuring him.

At the food and drinks table, Davos was surprised by everything they were serving – Marya had been right and there was caviar (it doesn't look any good… but if she wants it). He got two glasses of punch and then took what he thought it was a enough caviar.

He turned back to the dance floor and then to the table where they had been sitting, but he couldn't find Marya anywhere. He walked for a bit, trying to recognize faces and bodies. Finally a few steps away he found her at another table – the Stark table.

Davos didn't know them really well. He knew that Brandon could be a bit of a smug asshole and there was the whole mess with Lyanna and Rhaegar – but they seemed like good people, at least not like they were trying to hurt Marya – so he made his way to them.

"Lyanna." He called out to her first, since of the people at the table, she was the only one he had actually talked to. After all, they were in the same year, and happened to share a couple of classes.

"Oh… Davos. Sorry for taking your girlfriend away, but some of those vipers were messing with her."

"Are you okay, Marya?" He asked her, worried.

"Of course," she answered him smiling. "Lyn?... Sorry, didn't catch your name," she said, turning to Lyanna.

"Lyanna."

"Right, thank you," she said to Lyanna, before turning back to Davos. "Lyanna just wanted to make sure I was okay. Now, give me my drink." He did as she said, and put himself behind the chair she was sitting on.

"So it seems your boyfriend isn't going tointroduce the table." Maybe I don't know them. "Right, maybe you haven't met them either," Lyanna said before starting the introductions. "So the asshole who winked at you is my brother, Brandon." The older boy took Marya's hand, kissed her knuckles and smirked at her, and Davos couldn't help but say that he felt unease at that interaction.

"It's a pleasure to meet…" Brandon started saying.

"Oh… ignore him. He flirts with everybody," Lyanna said, knocking her brother in the head. "So next to him, is my friend Brienne." The older girl Davos had seen play on the football team, waved at the couple and smiled shyly. "Next to her is msy other brother, Ned, and his girlfriend, Catelyn."

"Hi. It's a pleasure to meet you," the redhead said, smiling, extending her arm over the table to shake Marya's hand.

"You too. Your school is beautiful," she told them, and Davos knew she felt awkward trying to make conversation.

"Oh… thank you. Actually I was on the committee that put everything together," Catelyn said, smiling proudly.

"So really great job. Looks like something taken from a fairytale," Marya said again, before looking back to Davos, not knowing what else to say – this time Melisandre wasn't there to save them from the awkward silence.

"Maybe, we'll get going back to our table," Davos offered, and Marya agreed, standing up, saying goodbye to them and following Davos to their table. "So you're really okay?"

"Yes, it wasn't anything special, nothing I haven't heard before."

"Okay, but just so you know they were lying."

"No, everything was lies. For sure that my dress cost a lot less than hers."

"Yes, that. But I'm sure neither of them has such a handsome gentleman to take it off tonight as you do."

"Of course not. You're introducing me to Jaime Lannister later in the night, right?! Or Rhaegar Targaryen, maybe?!"

"Right, that's exactly what I meant," he said, while slapping her ass, away from everybody's eyes; she just laughed and swatted his hand.

While they walked back to the table where Stannis was sitting talking to Melisandre, he couldn't be happier to have Marya here with him, and wished she was always here – she made him feel loved and accepted, and like he'd stopped being the weird and poor kid.

Marya was everything, he was sure – Marya was part of his family as much as his father was. Marya was love.


Selwyn Tarth

Selwyn could hear the laughs from upstairs, it wasn't every day that his daughter had people over – he knew she had a hard time making friends, keeping to herself, especially since Galladon died.

But this year seemed to be a bit better, she was happy, she was finally part of the football team, she had told him that some of the boys still mocked her, but at least some of them, defended her – and no one tried to pull a stunt like the one the other boys did a few years ago. He remembered how Brienne came home heartbroken. The students ended up being suspended – even though he would have preferred if they had been expelled. But Brienne hadn't wanted to fight or go through more trouble, so she gave up and let it go, and so did Selwyn – what he could do.

Selwyn often wondered if he was a good father. Raising her alone wasn't easy, without the support and teachings of a woman. He wondered if that was why Brienne was so… so like herself… he still loved her of course, but he wondered if things would be easier if her mother had still been alive.

So he couldn't help but be surprised when she told him she was inviting a couple of girls over – she had never had invited girls over, anyone really – especially when she told him it was to prepare for a ball at school.

The girls had been upstairs since the redheaded girl arrived, holding a dress in a plastic bag. Only the black haired girl had come down since, looking for food to take upstairs, until he heard footsteps walking down the stairs and someone whispering.

"I can't walk in this." He was sure it was his daughter who said it. Some of the others replied, before the three of them appeared in the living room door. The youngest one – the one with dark hair – was wearing a grey knee-length dress (he didn't knew how the girl wouldn't freeze in that – but then he noticed the sweater in her arms), her hair was free and falling over her back and she was wearing sneakers from that brand that Brienne always wanted but never fit her feet perfectly… What's the name? Whole-Sun?! No... that's not it... Whole-Star... No, I got it – All-Star! – that's it. The other looked more girly – she actually remember him of Brienne's mother or the woman he usually dated. She had her hair up, in some complicated arrangement, her dress was longer and its colour was one of those with weird names, but similar to purple. But his daughter was the one who surprised him. She was dressed in a dress. Her father could remember perfectly the last time she had wore a dress – in a less happy time, it had been her mother's funeral, but she had looked nothing like today; then she had looked awkward in the dress, too constrained, but today she was different; the dress was baggy and long and fit her better; none of her features would be accentuated and the dress wouldn't leave her feeling trapped. Her hair was also different; instead of closing around her face, or tied up in a bun, the girls had convinced Brienne to use a headband, and her hair also shined more than usual.

"You all look great," he told them, before asking. "Are you girls ready?"

"Yes, dad, and thank you," Brienne said blushing, while both guests also thanked him.

He led the three girls outside to his car, and the youngest threw a sweater over her head – even Selwyn could tell that ruined the entire wardrobe – while the redhead hugged herself trying to keep warm.

The trip was rather quiet, but Selwyn could easily read how scared his daughter was and how uncomfortable she still felt, by the way she was tapping her left foot.

"Brienne, are you okay? You don't need to go to the party if you don't want." Selwyn told his daughter again.

"I want to, father. I'm just nervous, I'm not a big fan of parties." With that, Selwyn wondered again why was she going. He feared that it was all part of a plan to embarrass her. That was the main reason he had volunteered to be one of the parents chaperoning – to make sure nobody tried to hurt his daughter.

"Dad, can I turn on the radio?" Brienne asked, interrupting his thoughts.

"Sure," he said and Brienne immediately turned on a pop station and that, he noticed, helped her relax.

It took them almost an hour to get to school. He parked the car in the parking lot, noticing that there were limos parked in front. What kind of parents let their children use a limo for a school dance?! It was in these moments that he wondered if he hadn't done better by putting his daughter in a normal school, instead of one with a bunch of rich and spoiled kids.

The girls thanked him and moved out of the car. While Selwyn moved slower, so he could make sure she got safely into the school, before going to meet the other parents and teachers who were watching over the dance.

He could perfectly recognize that one of them was Aerys Targaryen's son (he had the same silver hair). That was the one who kissed that younger girl Lyanna – that's her name, right?! – in a way that wasn't proper for kids their age. In a public space, too. Those were the kind of kisses he shared with women he went out with when they finally reached her living room or were on the way to her bedroom.

The other girl – Catelyn, he believed – only pecked the lips of the boy who was like the male version of Lyanna; soon he saw his daughter blushing and he guessed they had complimented her – oh... please... let it be true, and let no one bemocking her, he thought before moving to meet the other adults chaperoning.


They were finally done with the warnings – keep an eye on the drinks, the doors to the showers and bathrooms should be watched so no boy and girl went in together, among others. Finally moving to the ballroom, the first thought was how much of what he paid went to this, and not to his daughter's education, and why do high school students need a ball so badly?

The parents and teachers scattered, and Selwyn found a quiet place against the wall. He quickly spotted his daughter. Her table was making way too much noise. Aside from the boys that greeted the girls at the door, there was another table the loudest by far, with another male version of Lyanna, but this time a bit more handsome.

Brienne seemed to be having fun, so he relaxed a bit, and moved his eyes to the other students. Everything seemed normal, but he had been warned that the later it got, the worse their behaviour was.

Teachers came to talk to him. The one in front of him right now taught history, and was telling him how good a student his daughter was, always listening and doing the homework everyday; other teachers also came to congratulate him, before Selwyn got back to what he should have been doing.

Soon he caught in his daughter with someone who didn't seem like the best company. He was another one of the kids Selwyn could recognize. With his Lannister look, in a suit obviously made by a designer, Selwyn was sure that just like his father he would look down on people like Brienne. Selwyn wanted to intervene but he didn't know what he could say to him so he would go away.

The boy was too close to Brienne for his liking, and his smirk made Selwyn cringe, so he kept his eyes on them. The boy kept his arm lazily around his daughter's shoulder, while he talked to the boys at the table (he was even louder than the one who looked liked Lyanna), until he surprisingly led Brienne to the dance floor. He wondered what had the boy said so she would dance – is it some kind of blackmail?!

Selwyn couldn't help but dislike the way the boy was putting his hands on his daughter and whispering in her ear, making her blush. Selwyn knew he had enough when he saw Brienne pushing him away, and made his way to the dance floor, but the pair was interrupted by another girl – tall, with golden hair, and with a dress that looked like something those Hollywood people wore to the Oscars. She made the perfect pair with the boy dancing with his daughter. When the boy lead the girl away and took the dance floor it seemed everyone stopped to look at them and in the light they seemed to shine.

But Selwyn ignored them, and still decided to ask his daughter for a dance – if she said yes to the boy, I'm sure she can say yes to me. She tried to deny him but he did finally convince her. They weren't very graceful while dancing, and he couldn't help but be reminded of how much taller than him Brienne was.

"So who's that boy?"

"Dad..." she said blushing.

"I don't like him, Brienne. He's not good news, too smug... and too full of himself."

"You don't know him, Dad. And I know how he looks, but I've spoken about him before and you never said anything."

"What?! You talked about him?!"

"Yes. He's Jaime." Jaime?! Every time his daughter had talked about him, he had imagined a normal and nice boy, from a good family – not the Lannisters. From what he knew his mother had been some beautiful actress, which was no job to have while raising kids. His father was in politics... and that said it all.

"Really?!"

"Dad, please... don't be like that. You don't really know him. He's better than you give him credit for."

He wasn't very convinced, but he let it go... for now. He let his daughter go as well, since the music had ended, and took a place on the sidelines of the room. Brienne had gone back to the table where only the Stark boy (the quieter one) sat, and they talked while looking at the redhead laughing on the dance floor while being lifted by a huge guy (taller than Brienne) with black hair and a big laugh.

But his attention was called somewhere else when he saw the loud Stark boy making his way to the showers with a girl with dark hair and a dress that was way too revealing for a school dance, and made his way quickly to them.

"Hey, you two, get going. I don't see why either of you would need help in the bathroom. Scoot, or I'll call a teacher."

"Fuck." the girl whispered, turning back to the dance floor and dancing with the boy in a way that was completely inappropriate for school – they were too damn close and it was freaking Selwyn out that she kept her purple eyes locked with his, even when she was whispering things in the boy's ear.

"Oh... I'm so sorry", said a woman, beautiful, with long hair tied in a braid falling over her shoulder and in a black dress, who was running to him. If it wasn't for the ring in her finger she would be even more perfect. "I should have been keeping my eye on the showers, I just took my eye off of them for a second to check on my son."

"No problem. I'm Selwyn."

"Cassana, it's a pleasure to meet you."

"So who's your son?" He asked resting against the wall, with her following his lead.

"Two, three really. But the youngest is still ten. Robert is the oldest, do you see the table over there?" She said, pointing to the table where his daughter was sitting. He nodded. "He's the one trying to push Ned onto the dance floor," she said. Selwyn could perfectly see that the quietest one of Lyanna's brothers was trying to resist the idea of dancing. Nearby, the redhead was smiling at him and saying something he couldn't understand. He turned back to Cassana, who was still talking, "I guess that redhead is his girlfriend, Robert as mentioned it, I think."

"Yes, it is."

"How do you know?"

"Do you see the girl sitting next to that boy, Ned? She's my daughter, they are close friends."

"Oh... she's new on the football team, right? Robert only has good things to say about her and I've seen her play. An amazing daughter you have."

He thanked her. There were few other people, especially women, who congratulated him and his daughter on playing such a sport.

"My other son is over there, she said pointing to a table closer by. "Do you see the girl all in red? He's sitting next to her." There were two guys next to the red girl. "The one without a girl on his lap," she said smiling. This boy had nothing to do with looked nothing like the other – he was strong, taller, bigger and happier – while the second one was skinnier and more serious. "Oh... I know my boys look nothing to alike, if it wasn't for their blues eyes and back hair – my husband's genetics is what that is," she said proudly.

The woman kept talking, sharing one story after another, until they heard a scream nearby. Selwyn turned and found Lyanna arguing with the girl who had been dancing with Jaime after he had left Brienne.

"I need to go..." But Cassana held him back.

"I can handle this one," she said already moving to the fight area. She quickly talked them out of whatever they were taking about. The blond one moved away followed by a couple of girls, and the people who he had joined to watch had scattered away, until only Lyanna and Cassana stayed, eyes looking straight at each other. The younger face seemed like from someone who had seen a ghost and was scared of what would happen next. Selwyn was sure he saw wrong, but the girl seemed to whisper I'm so sorry – before turning back and running to the silver-haired boy who had called for her only a few seconds before, while the woman called for Lyanna and tried to reach for her. Cassana didn't come back to stand next to him, so Selwyn stopped having anyone to talk too.

Nothing much to call his attention happened in the next half hour. Brienne stayed at the table and was joined by Lyanna, who after her encounter with Cassana seemed quieter, like she was thinking about something. On the dance floor, it seemed Cassana's older son had finally convinced Ned to dance. Not that he danced very well, with his eyes fixed on the floor and trying not to step on his feet (or his partner's, who was the redhead who was friends with Brienne) and keeping a respectful distance from the girl. Selwyn turned his eyes again and found the oldest of Cassana's boys again, dancing with Jaime's pair. His mother didn't seem happy. She knows that the Lannisters are bad news, Selwyn thought, agreeing. Further away in the room, he saw the girl from the bathroom again. This time she was dancing with an older man – a teacher, probably. Selwyn didn't like the idea of a student dancing with a teacher, but at least she knew the difference between dancing with a teacher and her friend, even if he still didn't feel comfortable how the teacher's hands were touching her naked body (it couldn't be avoided, with her completely naked back).

He was almost convinced the trouble was over, that maybe the ball was almost over and he could finally go home, when one of the teachers came through the door, asking:

"Who spiked the punch this time?!"

Chapter Text

Jaime Lannister

Today was a good day, following a good week. First at the school ball he had made five hundred bucks by winning the bet they made to see who could spike the punch first, or at least the first bowl to be noticed. Brandon hadn't wanted to give up one hundred bucks, but he still wasn't quick enough, and Robert was pissed because, when Jaime's victory was announced, Robert had just spiked his own bowl, but the other boys had totally chicken out. Luckily, nobody at the school found out it was him, having put the blame on some other kid – a freshman, even – that had brought a bottle of liquor.

But today would be even better – if everything went okay, of course. Jaime had rehearsed for this for months, he knew his lines and what he needed to do in the play; he was backstage, waiting nervously (no… not nervous… he's Jaime Lannister, no reason to be nervous…) for the show to start, when he heard someone calling his name. Looking up he saw his sister under a cloak, since she wasn't supposed to be back here – but she did this every play.

"Just came to wish you g… Break a leg! Sorry, forgot for a second," she told him.

"Thanks."

"Also brought you a Snickers" she said, handing out the chocolate. That was another of their traditions; she always brought him some kind of chocolate before he went on stage. Last time had been After Eights.

"Is Tyrion…"

"Yes. Your brother is sitting next to me." He is your brother too, he wanted to say, but he wasn't in the mood to get on a fight with Cersei right now. "And so is your beast of a friend – I still don't understand why you had to invite her."

Is she jealous? Jaime wondered. He didn't want Cersei to feel bad, he just wanted to show his work to someone else. He was about to say something, when they heard the stage manager call:

"The show is starting in five minutes!"

"You need to go, break a leg, Jaime," she said, kissing his cheek and leaving the backstage.

So Jaime ate his chocolate in peace, while mentally preparing to enter the stage when it was finally time for Judge Turpin to come into the play.


The play was finally over, everything had gone as they expected, nobody messed up their lines, nobody got off tone (at least not too badly, to the point that everyone would notice, but he could see by the look on Cersei's face that she had noticed). They were now making the final thanks on stage, and he could see his siblings and Brienne in the front row – Tyrion had stood up on the chair and was whistling between claps and shouting "Go, Jaime".

Jaime smiled at his brother's behaviour, and winked at him before leaving the stage. All the actors were backstage congratulating each other; even the director and the playwright seemed happy, and that rarely happened. Someone brought out a bottle of champagne, nobody caring that most of them were actually under 21.

The girls took off their long dresses, and the actors cleaned the fake blood and the make-up from their clothes and bodies; one of the girls – the one that had been flirting since the beginning and was playing Johanna – appeared behind him and helped get the wig off.

"Do you think people liked it?"

"It's Sweeney Todd, what is there not to like? Cannibalism, murder,…" Jaime answered her. He couldn't wait to see Brienne's reaction. He had told her not to look up the subject of the play – it wouldn't be so damn fun if she knew what was going to happen. It was a shame he couldn't expect this from his siblings, since Tyrion had read the book it was based on, and he had rehearsed his lines with Cersei, as always.

"Do you think people were surprised?" The girl asked again.

"Probably, everyone is way too lazy to read the summary." I know I am, he thought. But before he could say anything else, he felt her drop lower, her breasts pressed against his back, while her arms reached around his neck to start untangling the costume.

"Leave him alone, I think he brought his girlfriend!" Another girl yelled, while she took off her dress, and stayed only in her underwear. "Stop staring, Jaime! I'm in a hurry and our main start is hogging the bathroom, again," she yelled behind her back.

"Girlfriend?!" The girl behind him wondered, taking her hands off his chest, but he could still fell her breasts against him.

"It's just his sister as always."

"No, there's some other girl. She's a girl, right?"

"Ohh… it's just Brienne," he told them calmly. He regretted it soon after when the girl stayed all over him.

After awhile he was able to get the girl off him – thank the Gods, her sort of boyfriend appeared. He finished changing into jeans and a shirt, and cleaning all of his make-up off, before finally making it outside the backstage, moving to where he knew his siblings and Brienne would be. Before he could reach them, he was intercepted by a few people congratulating him, but Jaime moved quicker, and finally saw them.

Tyrion was telling something to Brienne, and she was actually laughing at whatever he said. But Cersei was another case. She stood next to them but clearly ignoring everything they were saying. She was beautiful as ever, and he could clearly see she was making eyes at one of the boys in the other side of the room. Jaime recognized him, but he had a bit of a hard time placing his face, until he did and couldn't help but grin. Quietly he made his way to her, catching her by the waist, and lifted her up, whispering in her ear.

"You can quit now, sweet sister. He's gay."

"Oh… fuck… another. Are all the handsome guys in your plays gay?!" She said to him when he put her down, and he smirked and told her:

"He's the same from last time."

"Oh… shit." She said. "Oh… well… moving on, you did great, Jaime," she said, smiling at him, kissing his cheek and smoothing his hair.

"Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it," he said, dropping his arm over her shoulders, before turning to his younger brother. "So what did you think, Tyrion?"

"Really good. You're good as Judge Turpin, even if you're a bit too pretty and young – but the make up was good enough. Also, great singing voice."

"Thanks, munchkin," he ruffled his brother's hair. "And you, Brienne?"

"You could have warned me what it was about, Jaime?"

"What?! And miss your surprised face?! You must be kidding," he told her. "But really what did you think?"

"It was good. I didn't know you could sing."

"Yeah… I guess not, but I'm more than a baseball player," he said smugly.

"I already knew that, Jaime. But you were really good, I'm officially amazed."

"Thank you, Bree."

"You should feel special, you know. You are the first person Jaime brought to watch his play that isn't Cersei or me. He didn't even bring Arthur and he knew about the acting stuff," Tyrion said, nudging his brother.

"Come on, Tyrion, don't let all my sweet secrets out."

"I have more. Relax," Tyrion said smirking, so Jaime slapped him over the head.

"Now come on, let's eat something, my treat," Jaime suggested.

"Father's treat, you mean?!" Tyrion said sarcastically.

"Shut up," Jaime told his younger brother. "Do you wanna come with us, Brienne?"

"I should go home, and…"

"Come on, we won't take long. Just give your father a call," Jaime told her, taking his phone from his pocket and giving it to her. "Use mine."

Brienne took it, and looked for a more isolated place to make the phone call. Jaime turned to Cersei.

"Don't say anything, Cers," he whispered to her, giving her a warning glance.

"But really, who does not have a cell phone in this day and age?" She asked him. "And why did you have to invite her?"

"She's my friend," he told her, and Cersei made a disgusted face, before turning away and checking her phone for texts.

"I like Brienne, she's cool," Tyrion told him. "But fuck my neck hurts; she's even taller than you."

"Language, Tyrion," Jaime said, even knowing that nowadays would make no difference to him.

"Sorry. Hey, do you think that I can bring Tysha with me for the next play?"

"Sure, if it's age appropriate."

"This wasn't and I got in."

"Yeah, I paid for it…" Jaime said, but before he could continue, Tyrion spoke again.

"I can pay for Tysha's!" He said excitedly. Jaime liked seeing his younger brother this happy. "Father can hate me, but at least he doesn't let a Lannister go without money," Tyrion argued, and Jaime didn't even have the courage anymore to lie and say that father did love Tyrion.

"Yes, that's not my problem, Tyrion. Her father wouldn't probably like his young daughter to see a play not appropriate for her age."

"So star in one that is… Come on, Jaime, Tysha would love it. And it would be fun, and after we could…"

"Oh… please… shut up! You're giving me a headache," Cersei said, and Tyrion gave her an evil look and did as she said. Jaime couldn't help but notice how his look had been so similar to Father's and to Cersei's.

"Evil bitch," Tyrion whispered just a bit after, just loud enough so he knew Cersei would hear, but before she could respond, Jaime put himself between them and Brienne arrived.

"Okay, I can go," she said, not seeming to have noticed the tension around his siblings.

They walked outside together. Tyrion kept talking with Brienne – this time about some book that sounded boring for sure, while he tried to keep Cersei from exploding at their little brother.

"So where do you wanna go?"

"I don't know, burgers or something…" Cersei answered, and Jaime was a bit perplexed with his twin's response. Most times Cersei chose some place with what she called real food (even if the portions never let them eat enough).

"Are you sure? We could go to the Westerling's, you always love their filet mignon."

"Yes, Jaime, just choose whatever is cheapest," Cersei told him, before starting to walk faster to the car, leaving them behind.

"What's wrong with her this time?" Tyrion asked.

"Nothing," he answered. "So where do you wanna go?"

"Mac!" Tyrion exclaimed excited. "Come on, Jaime. We never go to Mc Donalds, and you won't order from them either. Come on," Tyrion said, and looked at Brienne, waiting to see if she would disagree. She said nothing, so he assumed she agreed.

Already in his car, Cersei sat in the front with him, while Tyrion and Brienne were in the back, still talking surprisingly. Brienne was usually too shy around new people.

"Cers, we are going to McDonalds, that's okay, right?"

"Sure, Jaime."

"Come on, Cersei, just tell me what's going on," he pleaded.

"It's nothing really, let's just enjoy dinner – I'm not in the mood to go home."

"Me neither. What if after I drop Brienne and Tyrion off, we hit the pubs in the Reach," he suggested, knowing she loved the pubs in the Reach.

"You're still taking her home?!"

"Yeah. But do you want or not?"

"Yes, but maybe the Casterly Rock bars. Every time we go to the Reach we find those Tyrells, and I'm not in the mood for that today."

"Sounds good," he told her, and after that Cersei seemed more at ease and happy with him.

At dinner, things didn't go as badly as Jaime had thought they would, he was able to keep Tyrion and Cersei from insulting each other, and Cersei from making not so nice comments to Brienne.

He quietly talked to his sister, while she ate her salad and stole his fries and Tyrion and Brienne continued their talk about books, until Jaime heard his brother ask:

"How can you be friends with my brother? I don't think he has ever read anything." Brienne blushed, and looked down. Jaime couldn't help but be a bit hurt that she didn't have an answer.

"I'm not that bad. And she plays sports too."

"Not that bad?! What was the last book you read?" Tyrion asked, and when Jaime was about to answer, Tyrion added. "With no drawings. And school books don't count."

"Shut up," Jaime said, making Tyrion laugh – and even Cersei and Brienne. "Brienne, can I stop by your house tomorrow?" he asked, wanting to change the subject.

"Sure, I don't see any problem with that."

After she agreed, each of them finished their burgers (and Cersei her salad) and left the restaurant. Quickly and clearly over the speed-limit, he drove Brienne to Tarth, before dropping Tyrion back home (after protesting that he wanted to go out too).

Jaime and Cersei headed to the Clegane bar, since neither of them was looking for too much confusion and noise. He was absolutely tired, but he didn't want to ruin Cersei's fun, so he said nothing. They talked the whole night, until a boy approached them and asked Cersei for a dance, and so she went. She flirted freely with the guy, and let him pay for two drinks; when she came back, she had his phone number in hand.

"He's cute," Jaime said.

"Yeah. And it seems I have a date after tomorrow, and he's taking me to the new place in Lannisport, which can only mean he has money."

"You don't know. Maybe he was talking about the grand-opening of some corner food stand," Jaime said sarcastically.

"Ohh… shut up. And go pay for our drinks and let's go home. I think I saw you take a nap at the table while I was dancing."

"Sorry," he said. "If you want to stay…"

"Go on, Jaime, let's go home."

"Thanks," he said kissing her cheek, before leaving to pay and to finally go home and rest.


The next day, Jaime had made it very early to Brienne's house. He had been coming around for a while now, at least since the dance, and she wanted to show her father that he wasn't a complete asshole – which of course, I'm not.

"It's me, Brienne," Jaime yelled from her yard, as he had done every time he came over, and kept calling until she walked down.

"Jaime, do you do that just to annoy my dad?" She asked, when she finally opened the door.

"No. Why would I want to annoy your father?! I want to annoy you," he stated smirking, and Brienne rolled her eyes, before going back inside, probably to say goodbye to her father.

"I'm ready," she said, coming out of her house, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. Jaime started making his way to his car, when Brienne stopped him. "Do we really need to take your car today? Can't we just go somewhere around here? I told Dad I wouldn't go far or take long today."

"Bummer, but sure. Where?"

"Don't know," Brienne said; he knew she didn't like to be the one to choose the place, not wanting to disappoint.

"Come on, this is your home, not mine," Jaime told her, but she still didn't have an answer. "Fuck it. Let's just go to the coast and get this over with."

They walked to the coast near her house. Jaime hadn't gone there yet, he had only passed by in his car when he was dropping Brienne off. He was about to ask her something about the sea, when he noticed that she was rather quiet.

"What's going on?"

"Nothing, just have a lot on my mind," she answered him, starting to move faster, and it was harder for him to keep up with her.

When they finally reached the coast, Jaime was surprised from how different it was from the strong waves that rocked against the cliffs of Casterly Rock. The water was calm, but still with no sand, no beach, which made him wonder how could that be.

"The water may seem calm, but it's not that safe. Most people don't really come here," she said sadly. "Or at least they shouldn't."

They both sat by the water, and Jaime was feeling frustrated since Brienne was talking even less than usual.

"Fuck it," he said standing up and starting to strip his clothes off. It was clear it wasn't really the weather to go for a dive, but Jaime was going crazy just standing there.

"What are you doing, Jaime?"

"What do you think?! I'm bored, I'm going for a swim."

"Didn't you hear what I said?"

"Sure, but I'm still bored. And I'm a good swimmer," he said, already shirtless, and reaching to unbutton his jeans, making Brienne blush even more and look away. After recomposing herself, she kept talking. "You're going to get sick. The water is probably freezing."

Jaime ignored her and jumped into the water, it was so different from jumping from the cliffs – there was no rush here – but Brienne had been right about one thing, the water was freezing. He didn't care at the moment; he just wanted to be free for awhile.

Unlike what Brienne said, the water was easy to swim in, so he did a few laps, not going too far from where she was, until he noticed a small wood board near the rocks. He looked at Brienne before swimming there – but she seemed to have stood up and had walked a bit further away. Near the rocks, he was able to stand without getting submerged by the water, so he carefully moved closer and read.

In memory of Galladon of Tarth, twelve years old boy , who lost his life in this sea in the afternoon of May 26 th of 1990.

He immediately turned to her. She was still turned away from the coast, looking nowhere. He swam the fastest he could to the coast and got out of the water.

"Brienne… Bree..." he called for her, but she didn't turn; Jaime quickly picked his clothes up, even if he couldn't put them on when he was still this wet, and he was finally able to feel the real cold.

"Brienne…" he said, dropping his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, I didn't know, maybe I should have trusted your advice," he told her, knowing how hard it was for him to admit he had been wrong.

When she turned he was surprised to see her eyes bloodshot. She quickly tried cleaning her tears with the back of her hand, so he couldn't see them, so Jaime decided not to mention it. After calming herself for a bit, she finally noticed that Jaime was still only in his boxers, which were still wet from the water, not leaving much to the imagination, so she quickly turned on her back again, and Jaime reached for her again, hand on her shoulder – and that was how her father found them.

"Brienne!" Jaime heard a man's voice call, just before she pulled away immediately.

"Father," she said surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"A letter arrived," he said, giving a disapproving look to Jaime, who moved closer to his clothes and tried to dry himself. "It's from Oxford, Brienne."

"It's early?!"

"Not too early for the first acceptance letters."

"Do you think…?" Brienne asked nervously, and Jaime was still lost in the conversation, so already with his jeans and shirt on, he scrubbed his hair with his jacket.

"What's going on?"

"Lad, maybe you should go home," her father said.

"He can stay, Dad. Do you have the letter with you?"

"Yes," he said pulling it from his back and giving to her. Brienne's hands were trembling; she could barely hold the paper without dropping it. Jaime took a seat where they had been sitting before, looking at her and her father.

Her father put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer, which somehow looked rather weird since she was taller than him. She opened the letter carefully and slowly, unlike Jaime, who would just rip it open.

"Come on, Brienne," Jaime said, wanting to hear the news.

He looked while Brienne opened the letter, this time quicker than before, and pulled the papers out. She scanned through the first page, before her lips turned to a smile before turning to hug her father tightly and whispering, just loud enough so Jaime could hear.

"I got in, Dad. I got in. Full scholarship."

"Congratulations, darling," her father said, kissing her cheek. "I'm cooking tonight, whatever you want," her father told her with his eyes shining with pride – I wonder if Father would ever look like that at us.

"Good going, Bree," Jaime said, when he thought she and her father had had enough time to celebrate alone.

"Thank you, Jaime," she said, while Jaime stood up, holding his jacket, now completely damp, and moved to hug Brienne.

"I'm sure you deserve it." Only from talking to her this year, he knew she worked really hard to have her grades. She didn't just work harder than him and Cersei, but she worked harder than Rhaegar, and didn't even have grades as good as his.

"She does," her father said. "Now, let's go home," he said, before asking. "Do you want to eat with us?"

"Thanks, but I need to go home," he answered, knowing that Father would be home for dinner tonight, and that he couldn't leave Tyrion alone with him.

Jaime walked behind them, and he could see how much happier Brienne was after this letter, talking to her father about having to call Lyanna and Catelyn to tell them the news. Jaime still was surprised that they be that close. They were all so different. Jaime's best friend was his twin, who could I be more similar to?

They finally made it to their house, and Jaime said goodbye to Brienne and wished them a merry Christmas, since he wouldn't see Brienne (or her father) before Christmas finally arrived, and walked to his car.

Jaime sped up out of their backyard in direction of home, and unexpectedly the image of Brienne's father filled with pride burned in his head. Jaime knew that his choice would disappoint Father, like the fact that he was only on the baseball team (and couldn't even beat Aerys' son). Turning on the radio, he tried to clear his head, but he knew only one thing would make him feel better now – and that was Cersei…


Jaime had been rolling from the left side of the bed to the right side since he lay down a few hours ago, but his head didn't seem to clear enough for him to fall asleep, something that rarely happened. He tried to read one of those boring school books, and tried other more fun activities to relax himself, but it didn't work either.

His mind was full of Brienne, and the talk they had had today. She was moving on, she was going to college next year, and he was staying behind – but that wasn't what worried him; surprisingly, he was worrying about his own future.

Giving up on trying to fall asleep, he stood up and left his room. At two in the morning the house was silent, and not wanting to wake up Father at this hour, he tried to move quietly through the halls until he was in front of his sister's room. He knocked on the door and got no answer, but luckily the door wasn't locked, so he got in.

Cersei was sleeping under her covers. He could see she had her long hair in a ponytail, and was wearing one of those stupid things to cover your eyes. Not wanting to leave again just because she was asleep, he pulled the covers up and got in. Cersei moved but didn't seem to wake, so he just lay there, until he fell asleep, which was much more simple to do here than in his room.

It had not been that long since Jaime had fallen asleep, so he wasn't that happy when he felt a kick in the shin, and then heard someone say groggily:

"What are you doing here?"

"Sleeping," he stated rather obviously.

"Yeah, I can see that. I meant why," she stated rather obviously, but still half-asleep.

"Couldn't sleep. Too much shit in my head," he told her, and Cersei looked at him like he had said something completely crazy.

"About what?" She said sitting up in the bed, making space for him to do the same, and taking the stupid band off of her eyes.

"About college," he said sitting up. "Brienne got her acceptance letter today – she got into Oxford," he told her. His sister seemed to have something on the tip of her tongue but held back, instead asking:

"And what does that have to do with you?"

"I still need to tell Father that I don't plan to go into business. That I want to follow Mother's footsteps."

"And I still need to tell him that we don't live in the world where I need to be married for political and business deals."

"He knows that."

"Does he, Jaime?" Cersei asked him too seriously.

"Aunt Genna studied business..."

"And then had to abandon her job when she had kids. Sure, she still has a seat on the board," Cersei told him, before taking a deep breath and saying. "But you know I don't just want that."

"I know, Cersei."

"What do you want to apply for?" Cersei asked, and Jaime couldn't help but tell her his biggest fear.

"I'm thinking California – UCLA or USC. But... but I wonder what I'm gonna do without you. Sure, there's always NYU, at least it's on the East Coast; you're still applying to the schools, right?"

"All the Ivy Leagues, I'm sorry, Jaime. You should go where you like, there are people who dream of Broadway – and you're a great singer, so maybe you could make it…but you always dreamed of Hollywood." Jaime pictured himself on the same studios and streets his mother had walked on. "And I'll always be a phone call away," Cersei told him. He knew it was true, he and Cersei were like one – when they were little they had tried to talk through their minds many times. I think Cersei just did it to humour me.

"Thanks, but I'm still nervous. Maybe I can apply to an Ivy League too, the Yale drama programme is supposed to be really good."

While he said that, he knew perfectly well he wouldn't get in. He didn't have the grades or the extracurricular activities, he only had baseball. He had tried drama at school, but Father didn't like the idea; and classes had always been hard. Many teachers since elementary school had said that he might have dyslexia and that he should have an evaluation done, but his father ignored the advices and just made him work harder. Jaime knew he couldn't have done it without Cersei, and recently with Tyrion's help in English. That kid read at high school level.

"Apply to that too, it may make Father happier since it's an Ivy League university," Cersei told him, but for the first time, he couldn't believe her, he thought, between yawns. "Maybe getting back to sleep would be a good idea."

"Do I need to leave?" Jaime asked.

"Of course not," Cersei said lying down, pulling her brother with her, and throwing her arms possessively over his chest. "Good night, Jaime."

"Good night, Cersei," he said, pulling her closer, and while his mind was still clouded about his future, he felt a bit better and calmer after having the chance to talk with Cersei.


Rhaegar Targaryen

Rhaegar woke up in the middle of the night – it was already 3 a.m. – to the sound of his mother and father yelling at each other. His father was yelling about fire and someone that was there to take him again; Mother just tried to calm him but nothing seemed to work.

The screams lasted for a half hour until they subsided; Rhaegar finally stood up and left his room, following the light to the bathroom.

He knocked on the door, but didn't wait for an answer before pushing the half-closed door open.

"Mother…" he was shocked by what he saw, there was blood all over her right arms, scarred with nails marks, "Mother… what happened?"

"Rhaegar, just please go…" she whispered, between sobs, he ignored it and entered the bathroom, sitting in front of her.

"Shh… it's going to be okay," he told her taking the first aid kit from her left hand, and starting to clean the wound.

"Thank you," she looked up at him, and her eyes were filled with tears, and she had a huge bruise forming around her neck.

"You need to put some ice there," he said pointing to her face, "Can you wait for a bit, while I go get some ice to the kitchen?" She nodded, and Rhaegar ran to the kitchen, getting a pack of ice and glass of water to try to calm her nerves.

When he came back, his mother was still in the same position, looking at the scars, he gave her the glass of water, while he held the pack of ice to her neck – she finished the water and took the ice from him.

"Thank you, Rhaegar," she said, while he continued cleaning the wounds in her arm, while she tried not to shown him how it burned.

"Mother, this is really bad, maybe we should go to the hospital," he suggested even if he already knew what her answer would be.

"There's no need, son," she said, flinching again. "It will pass."

So Rhaegar did as his mother asked, and cleaned the wounds in silent – some of the cuts looked more profound, and he guessed that those ones weren't made by his father's nails, he was wrapping his mother's arm in gaze when he asked her.

"What was it this time?"

"You know I don't know, son, he just gets scared."

"Scared is not a justification to what he did to your arm."

"He gets confused, that's it, Rhaegar, just please let me handle your father."

"And your neck? Anything broken?"

"It's nothing," she told him, ending the conversation. "Are you done?"

"Yes, you can go. I can take the glass, and if you need anything else…"

"I know," she said, standing up and leaving the bathroom. He noticed she was limping.

"I'll get you ice for your leg. Do you need it for anyplace else?" Rhaegar asked her, trying to keep the bitterness from his voice, and he wondered why his mother couldn't just call a doctor to help father.

"My lower back," she whispered ashamed, of having to be treated as a child.

"I'll take it to your room." Rhaegar said, wanting to see father as well.

Rhaegar ran to the kitchen again where he left the empty glass. He got two new packs of ice, and then made his way to his parents' room; he couldn't hear anything inside, so he entered. His mother was lying against the headboard with her scarred arm in Father's hair. He looked calm, like he hadn't just hurt his wife; and Rhaegar felt a rage growing in him. He looked at the bedside table and found an opened pack of sedatives.

"He just took one," Mother said, noticing where he was looking. "It's just so he can sleep without any episodes."

Rhaegar nodded, but said nothing. He moved closer to his mom, and helped her put the pack of ice on her lower back, and the other on her leg. Nothing seemed as bad as her arm.

"Can you clean your father's side of the bed, please?" His mother asked, and he did as she said. On his side of the bed he found broken glass – probably from the lamp missing from the bedside table – and he now knew how the deeper cuts had appeared. He mentioned nothing to his mother and just picked up the pieces, kissed his mother's forehead and left the room.

After dropping the glass on the garbage, he went to Daenerys' room to check on her. Her room was painted in purple and she slept in a beautiful, classic, white crib. Above her there hung a mobile – with three dragons – and she slept peacefully under it.

He kissed her small fingers before leaving the room to go to their brother's. Viserys was a different case. Just like his sister's room, his had a dragon theme, but the kid inside didn't sleep peacefully at all. He had a pillow over his head, and he was holding it tight. Rhaegar was sure his brother had woken up from the screams and had gotten scared, like had happened in the past couple of days.

"Viserys, are you awake?" Rhaegar asked, taking a seat on the bed next to his brother. He took the pillow from him and put it under Viserys' head again, and prepared to leave the bed, since his brother seemed to be sleeping, when he felt a fist pulling on his pajama pants. So Rhaegar stayed; his brother hadn't opened his eyes, but he cuddled against his older brother.

"It's going to be okay, Viserys." He felt his brother nod against his chest, and Rhaegar fell asleep in his brother's bed.


When Rhaegar woke up the next morning, his brother was still peacefully sleeping, so he quietly detangled himself from him, taking a last look at Viserys before finally leaving the room. The rest of the house was still quiet, so he decided it was better for him to get ready before anyone else needed the bathroom.

He got his clothes from his room, and then went to the bathroom. The first aid kit was still on the floor, and the garbage was filled with bloodied cotton. He packed everything else and took off his clothes before turning on the water to the highest temperature, and when he felt the water was hot enough, he got in.

After a ten minute long shower and shaving his beard with the razor hidden behind his mother's stuff in the cupboard (since they knew his father wouldn't be looking there) he left to go back to his room and get dressed.

In the exact moment he finished buttoning his shirt, his he could hear his sister starting to cry. Wanting to let his mom sleep a bit longer, he went to her room. She was trying to stand, something she had learned not that long ago, and trying to reach the dragons.

"Shh… Dany, your brother is here." He picked her up, but instead of trying to grab his hair, as she usually did, she went straight for the dragons, almost jumping from his arms. "Hold on." He held her closer and she started pushing on the black dragon. "Be careful, Dany."

He let her play for a little while before he knew he really needed to pull her away, so he could change her diaper. She immediately started screaming when he took her away from the dragons, so right after he lay her down on the diaper changing table, he went to pick up one of her dragon plushies and she smiled and pulled it to her at the second she got it. With her distracted by the toy, Rhaegar could finally change her diaper and get his sister clean.

"You didn't need to," his mother said from the door of the room.

"I was already up, and she was crying," Rhaegar told his mother. "How's your arm? And your back? Leg?"

"Better, the arm doesn't hurt and neither does my back. It's just a bit hard to walk."

"I'll clean your arm after breakfast," he told her, while she moved closer to take Daenerys from his arms.

"I can bring her to the kitchen, I'm sure Viserys is hungry as well." His mother left the room, while Rhaegar went to wash his hands, before stopping by his bedroom to check his phone. There were no messages, but he guessed it would be too early for Lyanna to be awake during the holidays.

In the kitchen, Viserys was already eating a bowl of cereal, going on talking about some kids' show he had been watching, not seeming to remember anything that had happened the night before. Rhaegar ruffled his hair before going to prepare breakfast for himself.

"Hey, I was thinking that maybe you two could go pick a Christmas tree today," mother suggested.

"Is father coming too?" Viserys asked immediately. Getting a Christmas tree had always been something the three of them did together, father and sons.

"No, Father can't go, son," their mother said.

"Maybe we can wait and go tomorrow," Viserys suggested.

"I'm sorry, son, but it will have to be just the two of you."

"Come on, Viserys, it will be fun, I'll buy you a cake after," Rhaegar told him, trying to make him forget the issue.

"NO!" Viserys said, stomping his foot on the floor. "I want Father," he said, before running away, Rhaegar tried to go after him, but mother stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

"I'll go talk to him. Can you finish giving Daenerys her breakfast?" He nodded while he took his baby sister.

He finished feeding her with great difficulty since she wouldn't put her dragon down, and from the amount of kisses she gave it, the dragon had food all over him.

"You do really love that dragon, don't you?" He asked her, cleaning her mouth and the dragon with a napkin.

Moving to the living room, he sat in the armchair, took one of the kid's books from the shelf, sat Dany firmly on his leg and against his chest, and started reading her the story – about dragons, of course…

He was almost finished when Viserys came to join them, taking his other knee. He seemed better now, and was also out of his pajamas and in clothes ready to go outside. It seemed Mother had convinced him. She looked at them from the door with a nostalgic look.

When Rhaegar finally finished the story, his mother finally spoke up, still at the doorframe.

"So can you take Viserys?" She asked Rhaegar. "Also be back by lunch, I need you to say at home with Viserys and Father during the afternoon; I need to go shopping. I can take Dany."

"I have the dinner at the Starks tonight, I can't be late." He needed to make a good impression; he wanted her father to like him.

"I won't take long, you'll have time, I promise," his mother promised, so Rhaegar couldn't do anything but agree.

Soon after, Rhaegar was bringing the child safety seat from his mother's car to his own, so Viserys could sit. And after a few minutes of arguing because he didn't wanted to use a baby seat (as he called it), Rhaegar was able to convince him to get in.

Rhaegar was driving south, like always they would do to go to the Reach (it had the best gardens, and so they grew the best pine trees) they were in complete silence, until Viserys said:

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Rhaegar said, not thinking of anything he couldn't answer.

"Will you promise not to lie?"

"Viserys…" If Viserys was asking for this it must be serious…

"Please… I'm old enough…" his six-year-old brother said, and Rhaegar just nodded. "What happened to Mom's arm?"

Rhaegar was surprised by the question, also remembering that he had forgotten to clean his mother's arm before leaving. He couldn't forget to do it before Mother left for the afternoon. Also, his mother had been careful enough to wear a shirt that covered her arm. "When she was helping me get dressed, I could see it. What happened?" His brother still got helped when he got dressed, so how could Rhaegar tell him the truth?

"It's nothing, Viserys. Just small cuts, she just… fell…" It wasn't a complete lie. So many years ago, she had fallen for that man, who was now hurting her.

"But she's gonna be okay?" Rhaegar nodded, but truly, he wasn't so sure, "And the leg was from the fall too?"

"Yes, Viserys. Mother will be okay." She's strong, she needs to be okay… Rhaegar thought, and wanting to change the subject, asked: "So have you written your letter to Santa, yet?"

"Yes, I have. I really hope he brings me that game, it's so cool, it can…" And Viserys rambled on while Rhaegar continued thinking about his mother. She was now alone in the house with Father; what if he tries something again? Mother still thought she could control him, but the truth was that every day that passed his father's fears were engulfing the father he had always known even more.

"Rhaegar!" His brother yelled, calling for his attention again.

"Yes, brother?"

"When will we meet your new girlfriend?" What?! Where did this question come from? "And does she have brothers? Oberyn had promised he would give me a ride on his bike the next time we went to Dorne."

"Three brothers, one of them is not that far from your age – so you might get along okay."

"Are they cool? Do they have a bike?"

"No, neither of them has a bike," Rhaegar answered him, and Viserys seemed to get disappointed.

"Oh… Will we ever go to Dorne again?" Viserys asked. "I like the sun and the Water Gardens. I miss Dorne."

"Maybe we can go to Starfall – you remember Arthur, right?" Arthur had always been a frequent presence in their home, until he left for college. "But the Water Gardens are the Martells' property…"

"Why did you and Elia break up? She was nice, I liked her."

"You're too young to understand…"

"I'm always too young for everything." Viserys mumbled, before crossing his arms, and turning away from his brother, picking up the toys he had brought from the house. They were both warriors, and Viserys seemed to pretend they were fighting. Rhaegar wanted to laugh at what his toys were saying, but he kept himself from doing it, not wanting to insult his brother again.

Viserys didn't ask any more uncomfortable question for the rest of the trip, having been distracted with his toys and imagination, so when Rhaegar finally parked the car in the parking lot of the shop they had gone to every year – it belonged to the Tyrells, who had always founded his father's campaigns.

"Viserys, we're here," he told his brother, who took off his seat belt, and tried to open the door even though he already knew it was locked from inside. Rhaegar got out of the car and opened Viserys' door. His younger sibling immediately jumped from the car and ran into the garden. Rhaegar followed soon after and was received by Garth Tyrell.

"It's a pleasure to have you here again, Rhaegar. Is Mr. Targaryen coming?" He asked, obviously trying to look behind Rhaegar to catch sight of him.

"Thank you for your hospitality. And my father seems to think I'm old enough, so the responsibility passes down to me," Rhaegar answered, trying to hide the real reason.

"Of course. If you need anything call me," Garth said, before walking away, while Rhaegar joined his brother, who was jumping around the trees.

"Have you seen anything you like?" Rhaegar asked him.

"That one," Viserys said, pointing to the biggest one

"Isn't that a bit too big? What about that one?" Rhaegar suggested, pointed to another that even if it was still big, the size was a bit more reasonable.

"But mom said I could get the one I wanted," Viserys protested. "You can call her if you want."

Rhaegar was sure Mother had said that, even if it was just so Viserys would stop asking questions she couldn't answer.

"Okay, we'll take that one," Rhaegar said, giving in and calling for Mr. Tyrell.

While Viserys ran a bit more around the shop, Rhaegar arranged for the tree to be delivered to their house the next day, in the afternoon and paid for everything, including a beautiful bouquet of blue roses for Lyanna, since he knew those were her favourite flowers.

After finally getting Viserys out of the shop and into the car, the drive was quicker. At least it seemed so with the vehicle much quieter since his younger brother was sleeping, with his thumb in his mouth even (something that Viserys would deny, of course).

He parked the car and woke up Viserys. That took a bit of work before he could move inside. The first thing that he noticed was that his father was up. He was in the kitchen helping Mother, like everything was normal.

"You're back already!" Mother exclaimed, surprised.

"Yes, it wasn't that hard to pick out a tree."

"It's huge, Father, so Santa won't miss it," Viserys told their father, who picked up his son, and Rhaegar's heart couldn't help but stop beating for a second before sharing a look with his mother. It's okay, she mouthed, he's okay; but Rhaegar didn't believe it and Mother knew.

"Aerys, can you finish putting the table while I talk to our son?"

"Of course, Rhae," he answered, and Rhaella smiled brightly before taking Rhaegar from the room.

"Mother, we can't leave Father in the kitchen alone, there are knives and the oven is on and the kids are there."

"Don't you see he's okay?"

"He is now, what makes us think he won't be back to how he was last night in a few seconds? He doesn't have an off switch," he told his mother.

"Okay, son, but he's fine now," she said with certainty before going back to the kitchen, while Rhaegar remembered he still needed to clean her wound. He needed to find a way to do it, and not leave Father alone.

He followed his mother to the kitchen, helping her bring the things to the living room where Father sat with Viserys, who kept telling him about the tree, while Daenerys sat in her high chair still hugging her dragon.

They ate in peace, but the only thing that Rhaegar seemed to be able to do was look at his father's hand, especially the one holding the knife, waiting for him to attack someone, waiting for him to yell. But nothing came. He spoke calmly with Mother and Viserys, and even tried to talk to Rhaegar but he wasn't in the mood – but still, nothing happened.

After lunch, Father said he was tired and went to take a nap. Rhaegar knew it was the perfect opportunity to clean his mother's wound, so he helped his mother in the kitchen, while Viserys ran to his room to play.

"Keep an eye in your brother and father while I go shopping."

"I will."

"Your father will probably sleep for awhile, since he's usually tired and he didn't sleep very well last night."

"I know," he told her. "And speaking of last night, let me clean your arm again."

"Okay, let me just finish with the kitchen."

"Sure. How's your back and leg?"

"Better, I put the ice on it as you said," Mother said again, sounding more like a child than a parent.

Rhaegar finished helping her in the kitchen, while they heard the little sounds Daenerys kept making from her chair, while she played with her small dragon. When they were done Rhaella picked up her daughter and they moved to the bathroom, and while she bounced Daenerys on her knee, Rhaegar got to look to his mother's arm. The cuts were still as deep as before, but all the bleeding had stopped.

"I'm going to clean them now, try not to move," Rhaegar asked, and she did as he said. He applied the alcohol to the cuts, so it wouldn't get infected, and then bandaged it again. "It's done, Mother, you can go," he said.

So his mother left to get herself and Daenerys ready, while Rhaegar looked down at what he'd just had to do, and thought about the reason why. He knew he needed to work harder at convincing Mother that Father needed some kind of help.

He packed everything up, and when he finally left the bathroom his mother and sister were leaving, so Rhaegar went to play with his brother. They ended up deciding to play a board game, one they hadn't played in a long time. When Father knocked on the door and asked to play with them, Rhaegar didn't know what to say, but Viserys obviously said yes.

And somehow, it ended up being a very good afternoon, nothing happened, Father played with them, board game after board game and everything was okay and happy and Rhaegar was able to forget the problem… Until – because with them there's always an until – just before Mother came home, his father called him aside and asked him what had happened to Mother's arm. He didn't have a clue about what had happened. Rhaegar lied and said he didn't know, because he wondered; how could he look into his father's worried eyes and say it was him?


After a long drive north, with the heating in the car barely doing its job, leaving Rhaegar feeling like he would freeze, he finally arrived at Winterfell. Having dropped off and picked up Lyanna enough times, he knew where her house was. H parked his car a few houses down and walked up to her house, and just before ringing the bell, he straightened his tie for the last time.

From inside he could hear some yells, and then a loud noise followed by someone cursing, and then Lyanna opened the door, holding onto her leg – he supposed she had crashed against something – before jumping on him, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his lips. He kissed her back before pulling her back down.

She looked him over from top to bottom, and made a face at his choice of clothes, but said nothing. While Lyanna wore jeans, a sweatshirt and walked with her feet bare, Rhaegar was dressed in one of his most casual suits. He had thought that his clothes would win some points with her father.

"Lyanna, stop sucking face", Brandon yelled from the house.

"Shut up, asshole", Lyanna yelled, and Rhaegar wondered how she used that kind of language at home.

"It's dad who's calling", he yelled again; and with that Lyanna wrapped her hand around his and pushed him into the house.

"Come on, I want you to meet Dad and Benjen," she said excitedly. She pushed him through what seemed like the living room, where he saw Brandon and a younger boy – Benjen, he supposed – watching TV.

When they finally made it to the kitchen, the smell overwhelmed him – it was pizza, obviously, Lyanna's favourite food – but only after recognizing the smell did he notice the older man with his back turned to them.

"Dad," Lyanna said, pacing from foot to foot, while waiting for her father to turn. Her father was an older gentleman, but younger than Rhaegar's father by the looks of it. His hair was starting to fall out, but there weren't too many white or grey hairs. He was dressed in a pullover and pants – very casual, making Rhaegar once again question his choice of clothes – and had an apron over his clothes. "Dad, I want you to meet Rhaegar," Lyanna said smiling and pushing Rhaegar forward. "And Rhaegar, this is my dad, Rickard Stark."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, sir," Rhaegar said, stretching out his hand. "I have only heard good things from your daughter."

Mr. Stark cleaned his hands on the apron, and took Rhaegar's hand in his in a firm handshake. Rhaegar's father had always told him that you could tell what kind of man a person was by the way they shook hands.

"Likewise, Rhaegar," he told him, pulling away at the second the timer rang. "Sorry, I need to get the food."

"Of course."

"I hope you like pizza," he said, while taking one from the oven, and putting another. "Lyarra, my wife, was the cook in the family. And most days, Old Nan, our neighbour helps around the house. So pizza and pasta is almost everything I can do."

"It seems good, sir. I can eat almost anything."

"Oh… I forgot to ask, no allergies, right?"

"Yes, no allergies."

"Good, I'm sure Lya wouldn't even remember to tell me," her father said with a smile.

"Hey!" Lyanna protested, making both men (or man and boy) laugh.

"The food will take awhile, so Lya, if you want to show Rhaegar around the house…"

"Yes, let's go," Lyanna said, taking him by the hand again, but before they could leave, Lyanna's father told them:

"And leave your bedroom's door open."

"Yes, Dad," Lyanna said, just a bit annoyed.

Before going through the hall that he knew led to Lyanna's bedroom, they stepped into the living room.

"Come on, I want you to meet Benjen," she told him, before calling for her brother. "Benjen, come here." The younger boy jumped from the couch, and went to stand next to his sister, while their older brother only looked from the couch.

"Hey, man."

"Hi," Rhaegar told him, before turning his full attention to the younger brother.

"Hi, I'm Benjen."

"Rhaegar, it's good to meet you."

"You really look like your father," the kid told him innocently. Rhaegar couldn't help but feel a ping of sadness. "I saw him in the news and all."

"Thanks. I guess silver hair is rare. But you Starks do all look alike too," he told the boy, who laughed and agreed before going back to the couch.

Rhaegar and Lyanna walked down the hall to the door with the letters to Lyanna's name on the door. She opened the door for him, and Rhaegar entered. His first thought was that her room was the perfect fit for her; the walls were light blue, covered with some band posters – rock, of course, none of those boy bands – and photos of family and friends were stuck to the wall. He noticed that some seemed more recent, especially of Brienne, Catelyn and Lyanna, and even of himself.

"Those look really great," he told her. "Did you take all of them?"

"Thanks. And I told you I love photography. I'll show you more after dinner," she told him excitedly.

Rhaegar kept looking around her room, ignoring the clothes on the floor while she started picking them up and throwing them in the back of a chair, and found an old turntable with a bunch of vinyl records next to it.

"It was my parents'. Dad gave it to me. Since Brandon likes CDs better, and Ned doesn't care that much about music, they let me have it."

"Can I put one on?"

"Sure. Do you know how to work it?"

"Yes, we used to have one at home but it broke a few years back," he told her, while looking through the vinyl records, settling on one of The Beatles' early albums.

"Good choice," she told him, moving closer to him, standing in her tiptoes so she could kiss the corner of his mouth. "Come on," she said, pushing him closer to the bed, and standing in front of him. She started loosening his tie.

"Lyanna…" he said in tone of warning.

"God, Rhaegar, my dad told me to keep the door opened, you must be sure I'm not having sex with you right now," she hissed at him. "Now let me just take off your blazer and tie, so you look a bit more comfortable."

"Do you think your father thought I was some posh kid? I just thought I should wear a suit, that it was the right thing," he told her sincerely. That was what he always did when he went to other people's houses for dinner or received guests at home.

"I don't know. It's just my father isn't used to teens wearing a suit if it isn't a funeral or something like that – he just didn't know how to react. He just wears a suit for work, and that's because he's obligated to," Lyanna told him, while getting the tie and blazer off, but also taking his shirt from his pants. She couldn't help but put her hand under his shirt to touch his belly button, while kissing him again. "Perfect," she said, looking back at him. "Also does that mean if I meet your parents I need to wear a dress and everything?"

"Lya… You know I would love for you to meet them, but maybe now's not the best time," he told her calmly. He didn't want her to freak out, but he didn't trust bringing her home to his father.

"Ohh… Rhaegar… I didn't want to pressure or anything, I was joking," she told him, before jumping on the bed, resting against the wall and patting the place next to her. "Did something else happen?" She asked him when he was next her.

"They have been fighting every night, and last night he ended up hurting her real badly – I'm just worried about everything."

"Haven't you made any progress in convincing your mother that your dad needs professional help?"

"She keeps being scared it will be worse, with him not trusting people and all… so I just don't know…"

"Maybe you should…," but before she could finish her sentence, Brandon's yelling and his footsteps interrupted them.

"Come on, love birds, it's time for dinner. And hurry up, I'm hungry. Or I'll tell Dad you were in bed together."

"We were just talking," Rhaegar said, but Brandon shrugged his shoulders. Lyanna threw a pillow at him and caught Brandon by surprise.

"Just shut up, Brandon," she said, catching the pillow when Brandon threw it back, before moving away. "Sorry about my brother. We'll continue talking after dinner," she told him before leading him down to the kitchen. Then he remembered about washing his hands; she rolled her eyes and took him to the bathroom.

After washing their hands, they went back toward the kitchen, where Lyanna started helping her father bring the things to the table. Rhaegar tried to help, but Mr. Stark told him to sit down.

"Ned is coming, Dad," Benjen said entering the room.

"What's keeping your brother so busy upstairs?"

"I think he was reading."

"Or talking to Catelyn," Lyanna muttered.

"Good evening, Rhaegar," Ned said, coming down and immediately helping to put the rest of the things on the table. "Sorry for not coming down earlier, I didn't know you had arrived."

"No problem, Ned. It's good to see you."

"Likewise."

They all finished putting the things one the table, and then Mr. Stark took one side of the table, while Brandon took the other, Lyanna sat next to Rhaegar, with Benjen in front of her and Ned next of him and in front of Rhaegar. Quickly they were all served, salad and a slice of pizza – Mr. Stark had done four different types of pizza, but all the siblings seemed to attack one of them first.

"Try this one first, it's the second best, we leave the best for the end," Lyanna told him, putting the slice on its plate.

Rhaegar couldn't help but notice how Brandon, Lyanna and Benjen seemed to got to pick the pizza with their hands before their father gave them a look and they stopped to pick up the fork and knife.

"This is really good, Mr. Stark," Rhaegar told him honestly.

"Thank you. So, Lyanna told me you're a senior."

"Yes. I have a few classes with Brandon."

"Are you a good student? Grades?"

"Yes, I think I am."

"Come on," Lyanna said. "He's being modest, Dad. He was top of his year, last year, and this trimester, too, right?"

"Wow, that's really good, son. I'm sure you have a bright future. You're also on the three sports teams, right? Like my Brandon here, I think I've seen you in the games I've been able to catch." Mr. Stark kept talking, looking proudly at his son when he talked about him. "Obviously baseball is your strong suit. My Brandon is basketball, and of course nobody can beat Robert at football, he was already that strong when he was little, towering over Ned, and Lyanna, ohh… I was not happy with the idea of them…"

"Dad!" Lyanna exclaimed, trying to stop him from talking. And Rhaegar understood something. He would always have to fight with Robert's image. There were photos of him around the house; he and Ned were best friends since they were kids. Mr. Stark probably had to clean bruises, prepare food and send Robert to bed – how could I compete with that?

"Ohh… Sorry. Please, Rhaegar, don't take that the wrong way."

"I haven't, sir."

"Right. Now going back to baseball, Derek Jeter seems to be having another great season this year," her father said, and Rhaegar just didn't know what to say. He knew nothing about this. Sure, he had heard the name, but nothing more.

"Dad, Rhaegar is not really into sports," Lyanna said, and her father seemed immediately disappointed – Rhaegar 0 – 1 Robert would be the score if this was a game. Please, don't ask me why I play? Please don't.

"So why do you choose to be on the three teams?" Mr. Stark did ask, and before Rhaegar could think of an answer that wasn't actually the truth, Brandon spoke up.

"Dad, you know, extracurricular activities look good on applications, especially if they are in different areas." Mr. Stark didn't seem to like that answer very much.

"So what are you interested in?" Mr. Stark asked, while people at the table went for the third slice of pizza.

"Politics," Brandon said, with his mouth full.

"Don't talk with your mouth full, Brandon," Mr. Stark said, before turning back to Rhaegar. "Right, your father was the mayor."

"Yes, sir."

"Do you plan to follow in his footsteps?"

"I don't know yet."

"All I know is that we need some new faces. This thing with that woman, Lewinsky. Clinton should have left presidency in the moment he admitted it, or even when he was accused. How are we supposed to trust that man to run our country if he isn't even faithful to his wife?"

"If it's all right, sir. It was private business, between President Clinton, the First Lady and Monica Lewinsky – the media had no right to do what it did. And the country has no right to speculate, or ask for him to be taken from office."

"So, are you telling me cheating is right?" This is not the discussion you want to have with your girlfriend's father.

"No, sir. I'm just saying that it's private business."

"That man lied in court. How can we trust him now? I just ask for someone honest, and now for the first time in my life I'm wondering if it's wise to vote for the Democrats. For sure, I'm hoping Bradley gets the Democratic nomination instead of Al Gore. Because we all know I'm not going to vote for any Republicans," Mr. Stark finished saying. Even though he spoke calmly, it was clear this was a heated subject for him. But most of all, what was going through his head was that he had never voted for my father, either. Rhaegar wanted to defend his father, his family and his party, but Lyanna stopped him. She took his hand in hers and made an effort to change the subject, which Ned immediately helped with.

Rhaegar kept himself from conversation the rest of dinner, not wanting to say anything else uncomfortable. Lyanna kept looking over at him, and he smiled back, trying to reassure her that it was okay. When they finished the pizza, Lyanna asked for both of them to be excused.

"I made dessert, Lyanna. Don't you want some? Or you, Rhaegar?"

"I'm sorry, sir. But I feel too full. The pizza was great."

"I'll eat later, Dad," she said. "I'm showing Rhaegar the basement." She took his hand and kept walking, and when they were finally out of earshot, she said. "I'm sorry about my dad."

"That's the reason I don't like to discuss politics. And that wasn't even politics, just the president's personal life," he told her. "But what do you want me to show me in the basement?"

"The photos I promised you. Come on," she said, pushing him down the stairs. Most of the room had just boxes or shelves, but he noticed another door, which she led him through.

"Dad, made me a darkroom. So I can take care of my photos alone. I'll just tidy a few things before letting you in. I have most of my photo albums down here, you can look through them," she said, pointing to the shelf next to the door.

She got in, and Rhaegar started looking. The first one he took out had Winnie the Pooh on the cover. Opening it, he just found childhood photos – Lyanna looked so cute as a kid. In one of the first ones she must have been around two or three with her hands covered in paint, trying to catch Brandon (or Ned, he couldn't say).

He put that one aside and took out another one. Opening it, he only found landscapes; she did an amazing job with the light and angles. He moved to sit down and look at it better and found that he had let an envelope fall out. He couldn't help but open it, but he wished he hadn't just a few seconds later. He didn't want to know that Lyanna still kept naked photos of Robert (he didn't have any of Elia – the memories had always been enough). He closed it and put it back on the shelf, just before Lyanna called for him.

"Come on, and be careful," she said, carefully turning on the light, since she had put away everything that could be ruined. Rhaegar was immediately amazed by it, it looked so much better than the one at school.

"Wow… Lyanna… this is amazing. And I saw your photos, the landscapes – the light, and the colour, Lya… I had no idea you could do that," he told her. It was another thing he didn't know about her.

"I'll show you my favourites," she said, leaving the darkroom, picking up the album and leading him to a corner of the room. She let him sit first, while she lay down against him, pointing out her favourite photos, and her favourite places. He smiled at how excited and happy she seemed with it.

He listened her talk until he looked down at his wristwatch, noticing the hour. He knew he had to leave.

"Lya, I think it's time for me to go. I still need to drive home."

"Ohh… okay," she said. It was obvious she didn't want him to go and that he didn't want to leave either. "Come on."

They both moved upstairs, to her room so he could get his stuff. He put his jacket back on, and his tie in his pocket, before heading down the hall, where her father and siblings were watching TV. They all turned when he came in.

"Thanks for having me, Mr. Stark," he said while her father stood.

"It was a pleasure to have you. And I apologize if I was rude at dinner. I didn't mean to be."

"I understand, sir, and even if I don't agree, I think I can hear other opinions"

"Yes. You seem like a mature kid, Rhaegar. Have a good drive home," Mr. Stark finished saying.

And Rhaegar moved to say goodbye to her brothers. He wished them a merry Christmas, and told the younger brother that he hoped to see him again, before heading out the door with Lyanna, who walked him to the car.

"So it wasn't all bad."

"No, it wasn't, Lya. I really liked meeting your family."

"You don't need to lie, but okay," she said, kissing him. "Have a safe drive, and if you need anything call me."

"I will," he said, already inside the car, pulling her head down for a quick kiss, before driving away from her neighbourhood.

Chapter Text

Lyanna Stark

Christmas morning was probably the only time during the holidays that Lyanna didn't mind waking up earlier. She looked up to her bedside table, and picked up her phone, noticing it was only 7:30 am, before noticing two unread messages. She erased Robert's before even reading it, and then smiled at Rhaegar's, and texted him back, wishing him Merry Christmas.

She moved through the halls until she was in front of Brandon's room. She knew he would still be asleep. She opened the door. Brandon was lying face down on the bed, with his covers thrown off, when she jumped on his back.

"Argh! For fuck's sake, Lya!" He said, half asleep.

"How do you know it's me? It could be one of your girlfriends," Lyanna said, sitting up on his back.

"You know, they don't usually jump on me. At least not like that," he said, taking his head from the pillow.

"Don't be a jerk. And come on, they're probably waiting for us to open the presents," she said.

"Okay, okay, just get out. I'll be down in five."

"Thanks," she said, jumping from the bed, and walking out of his room and into the kitchen.

"Merry Christmas," she told her brothers and father.

"Merry Christmas, Lya," her brothers and father said.

"We're making breakfast. How long before Brandon gets up?" Benjen asked. "I want to open the presents."

"He said he would be down in five. Now what do you need help for?"

"Can you please take everything to the living room?" Ned suggested, and she picked up what she could carry and put it in front of the Christmas tree. They had always eaten and opened presents at the same time on Christmas morning.

Lyanna stayed quiet for a bit, looking at the tree, Mom had always insisted they decorate with homemade decorations. They used to spend days making decorations. Now, while it was all still homemade, each of them just added one new decoration to the old ones.

"It looks beautiful, doesn't?" Dad said, dropping his arm around her shoulder, after putting the food down. "You know Lyarra made the angel the first Christmas with Brandon." She knew – Dad told them every year – but she never minded. And on the first Christmas without Mother, Brandon had been the one to cut a picture of her face to put on the angel's face and say, now she can look over us.

"It does look beautiful. I just wish Mom was here."

"Me too…" he said sadly, before hearing Brandon coming to the living room, and shaking himself okay again.

"Merry Christmas, Dad," Brandon yelled, pulling him closer for a hug.

"Merry Christmas to you, too. And it's good to see you out of bed. Now go help your brothers."

Brandon did as Father said, and then they all sat around the tree, sipping on the hot chocolate and nibbling on the pancakes.

"Come on, you know the rules. Each of you opens a present alone while the rest of us pay attention. And only after everyone has opened one you can attack the rest of the gifts," Dad reminded them, like he had done every year since they were kids.

As always Benjen was the first one, since he was the youngest. He immediately took the biggest box with his name, and Lyanna couldn't help but notice the smile on Brandon's face.

Is it yours? she mouthed to her older brother, and he just nodded. Benjen looked excitedly at the present, and she was excited to know what Brandon had done. Quickly the smile on Benjen's face fell after opening the computer box too quickly and finding it empty. He turned his death glare, which she had to admit was quite good, to Lyanna.

"What?! It wasn't me," she exclaimed, looking at Brandon.

"Yes, throw me under the bus like that," Brandon told Lyanna, before turning to Benjen. "It's a learning present, so you won't be so greedy next year."

"Dad…" Benjen complained. "Brandon can't do that."

"I'm sure he has something else for you," Dad said giving an inquiring look to Brandon, who seemed to want to answer no, but when seeing Father's face decided to go with the truth.

"Yes, but I still think this present was better."

"You didn't think so when Mom got you a huge empty box, either," Ned said.

"Mom did this?" Benjen asked curiously.

"Yes, she did. It was all Lyarra's idea, I just voted no presents," Dad told his youngest son, ruffling his hair. And Lyanna immediately remembered opening that gift shaped like a bike, which had nothing but pens and pencils inside, and her heart breaking a little bit.

"Now it's my turn!" Lyanna exclaimed, and no one protested. She took a small package, shaped like a book or a movie – a safe choice.

She opened it and found a new videogame, one of the soccer games that had just came out, with a Christmas card – so it could only be Ned's. She read the message he wrote, which was sweet even though he was never good with words, and stood up to hug him.

"Thank you, Ned."

"I'm glad you like it."

"I bet your present is better than mine," Brandon complained, again, so Lyanna picked up one of her pancakes and threw it at his face. "Hey!" He exclaimed, before picking it up and taking a bite out of it.

"Moving on, it's Ned's turn. And Brandon, behave, one more, and we go another entire turn without you opening a present," Dad threatened, which prompted Brandon to immediately say when Ned picked his chosen present:

"Maybe you shouldn't open that now."

"Maybe you should," Dad said. "At least your brother can't make any comments now."

Ned wasn't sure, but he ended up unwrapping the gift, and Lyanna knew immediately what box it was, and couldn't help but giggle, while Brandon murmured, "Don't tell me I didn't warn you."

Ned picked it up and almost choked on the sip of what he was drinking, while Lyanna decided to say what she was sure Brandon wanted to say.

"I'm sure Brandon just wants you to be safe. Dad won't want to be a granddad this young," she said laughing, high-fiving her oldest brother.

"I don't know which of you is worst," Dad said, resting his head in his hands. "Lya, pass me one of my presents."

"Dad… but it was Lya, not me," Brandon complained.

"But you high-fived her. Now give me a present." Lyanna took one from the pile and gave it to Dad.

"Ohh… let me see," he said, starting to shake the present, trying to see if it made any noise. Dad always did this, but it seemed today he was taking a special time just to piss Brandon off.

"Come on, Dad. You've been trying to guess it for five minutes, just open it," Brandon pleaded.

"Ohhh… I also ate between shakes," Dad said, and Lyanna, Benjen and Ned laughed at Brandon's face, who just gave up and threw himself on the couch.

"Wake me up when he's done."

"Come on, son," Dad said pushing on his shirt. "I'll stop messing with you."

Brandon went back to his seat, and Dad opened it. It was Benjen's present. It was a picture of Lya and her brothers at the beach, probably from last summer, and Lyanna smiled at her brother's choice. Neither of them ever looked good at the beach – Brandon was the only one with even a bit of tan (I bet he uses tanning cream), Ned looked like he was dying under the sun (probably because he didn't even take his shirt off) and Lyanna and Benjen were having fun building sandcastles.

"This is great, Benjen. I'll put it in my office," Dad said, pulling his youngest for a hug. "And Ned, you could have at least smiled in the picture. With a southern girlfriend, you may need to get used to the beach," Dad told Ned, making his kids laugh.

"You know Cat loves swimming," Lyanna said, before Brandon added:

"She did drag me to the beach last summer," Brandon said, before realizing what he had said. "Sorry, I forgot and…"

Before he said anything else, Lyanna put a cupcake in Brandon's mouth. While Ned and Brandon had talked about Catelyn, it still wasn't the best conversation topic.

"Come on, Brandon, it's your turn," Dad said, trying to change the subject.

Brandon took one of the presents from his pile, and Lyanna could immediately see it was her present to him, and he noticed too, because he smiled at her, before ripping the paper

"This is awesome, Lya, thanks. Now I can smell good for the ladies," he said, giving her a kiss.

"Yes, but it was mostly a personal investment. You stink so much sometimes, that I have a hard time staying in the room," she told him, laughing, and he decided to pick up a glass of water, take a sip and throw the rest at her face.

"Kids…" Dad said again. "You two are worse than toddlers," he made an exasperated face again, before saying. "Now, feel free to attack."

Benjen and Brandon were the first ones to pick presents. Ned usually waited for the confusion to stop, while Dad still liked to watch them like they were all still kids, and Lyanna used the smarter approach, pulling her own presents onto her own pile on the couch.

She started with the bigger box. She just hadn't picked it up before because of Brandon's prank, but she read that it was from Father (and Mother) – and she immediately knew what it was. Every Christmas or birthday, he would give her some piece of clothing that had belonged to Mother. Sometimes she liked and wore them, others were dresses (that she especially got on her birthdays) that she never liked to wear, even if they were beautiful. Maybe she could lend some to Catelyn, she would probably like them – she'll be family someday, Lyanna was sure. Today, she didn't find a dress, but a pair of heels; she immediately looked at her father.

"I don't remember ever seeing Mother wearing heels, at least not as tall as these," she told him.

"She didn't after having Brandon, she said her feet got too fat for heels –which of course they didn't. But those were the only ones she kept. I know you don't like that stuff, so I put a t-shirt you might love in there, your mother used it to sleep in, but I think it's more of your type of everyday t-shirt."

Lyanna looked under the shoes, and found a shirt with a UK flag.

"It's really from the UK, it was something she brought when she came to live in the States. Lyarra loved it, she told me it still smelled like tea – even after all these years. It still reminded her of home," Dad said, with a sad look in his eyes, Lyanna thought that she knew that they had become home to Mom as well…

She then reached for the next present, and opened the box. When she saw what it was, she stood up and went to punch him in the gut.

"I guess you like it?" He asked her sarcastically.

"Where did you go Christmas shopping?" Lyanna asked him.

"I'm eighteen, I went to a sex shop, what do you think? I wouldn't just get any condoms; those are the good ones – exciting ones. I thought about getting you a box too, but then the lady told me those were very good – It comes with battery and all…" he said smirking, and she slapped him over the head again.

"Dad… Benjen… please tell me…"

"I got dad a porn magazine from the UK…"

"Fuck, Brandon!"

"We talked about Father dating, I thought it was a good first step. But relax, I got him an old and regular book too. And no I didn't gave Benjen his first porno – I did think about it, but went with no," she told him She was mildly less worried, and tried to forget the thought of her father with a porn magazine.

Lyanna left Brandon and went back to her pile to see Benjen going through it.

"Hey, this one is mine."

"But I'm already done with mine," he complained.

"So eat," she said, before turning back to the pile.

"Wait, there's a envelope with your name on it," Benjen said giving it to her. She opened it and couldn't believe what she found inside – it was two tickets to a concert at the start of the next month, of one of her favourite bands. The tickets had sold out last June (when she had already been saving for another concert); she looked around the room, asking who gave it to her. Brandon and Benjen shook their heads. Dad denied it too, but Ned looked at her, shaking his head. She immediately realized who it was. God… Robert… she had complained about not being able to buy them for so long, and he had gotten them for her. She wondered if that was what the SMS she got from him was about, or maybe he was just wishing her Merry Christmas. She knew he opened his presents last night.

He gave this to you, she mouthed to Ned, and he stood up and sat next to her.

"He said he wouldn't do anything with the tickets. He knew you would want to see them."

"Tell him thanks for me, okay?"

"Okay."

Lyanna knew it was a bit cruel that she couldn't say thank you herself, but sometimes she was afraid of her own actions.

She turned to her presents, now wondering who she could take with her to the concert. She picked the next present, knowing immediately it was Benjen's, and found her youngest brother looking happily at her. Inside the badly wrapped box she found a necklace; it was simple and beautiful, probably handmade. She put it on and asked how it looked.

"It does make your face look better," Brandon said, while the others just went with great, beautiful or pretty.

She entertained herself opening the last present, one from Father – a book. Even if she didn't like reading that much, her dad always got her the best one. She lifted her head from the book to thank Father, when she noticed he wasn't there anymore.

"He went to get the other ones," Ned said. Dad always did the same, he put some of his gifts under the tree, and then brought more that he insisted that they opened all together, so the kids started doing the same. They each put their individual present under the tree, and then now they gave him their big joint present – which Brandon had run up to get it from Lyanna's room.


 

It was mid-afternoon, and all the Stark kids were outside sitting on the snow trying to decide what to do, since Father had left to get their super ultra special dinner.

"Come on, you can think of something else to do!"

"You think, Brandon, you're the oldest," Lyanna complained, and lay down on the snow, delighting in the cold feeling of snow between her fingers.

"What if we play Truth or Dare?" Benjen suggested. Benjen!,and Lyanna attention immediately turned to him. "What?! I don't mean with any kissing dares, just, I don't know – something stupid."

"But the kissing dares are the best ones," Brandon complained.

"Okay, someone can dare him to kiss a tree or something," Ned said.

"Oh… a tree… such a beautiful creature," Brandon whispered, before his three siblings hit him. "Don't hit me. But sure, truth or dare is okay for me. Bottle?"

"We are four, do we really need a bottle?" Ned asked, and they all agreed that a bottle wouldn't be needed.

"If anyone is too chicken to answer or do the dare, you need to throw snow down your sweater – touching the skin. And yes, Ned, we can get sick, so you better not quit," Lyanna said, and they all agreed, letting Benjen be the one to go first.

"Ned, truth or dare?"

"Truth."

"Ned always chooses truth," Brandon whispered, but Lyanna knew it was a lie. Robert had told her of a funny dare story that now led Ned to never choose dare again.

"Since when did you like Catelyn?"

Ned looked at him, not being sure if he heard the question correctly.

"What? I've been wondering. It was kind of obvious you liked her since the first times Brandon brought her home."

"Obvious?!" Both her older brothers exclaimed.

"Come on, just answer, Ned. Unless you want freezing snow down your shirt."

"I don't know, that's the honest answer. Last year, we started to work together, and I liked her, but I didn't know that I like liked her until I knew you were cheating on her – everything got confused then. If that makes sense," Ned said.

"It does," Lyanna answered. She could understand what he meant, and how confusing some feelings could be. "It's your turn," she told him, looking at Brandon putting his hand on his brother's shoulder.

"Lya, truth or dare?"

"Dare." She wasn't risking a question about Robert – ohhh… and Ned gives soft dares.

"I dare you to go knock on someone's door, without pants or a shirt on, you decide,"

"Hey…" she protested.

"Hey, if it was me, I wouldn't give you a choice," Brandon said.

"I don't even have my legs shaved – so it's not actually a choice."

"Shut up, you get to choose the door."

"If no one is home…"

"You look for another one," Brandon immediately said.

"That's no fair," she complained.

"You two still remember it's my dare, right? So if it's you choosing the house, and no one is home, you need to knock on another; if it's us choosing and nobody opens the door, it counts as the dare done." After the rules said, both her and Brandon started protesting.

"Just choose," Benjen said.

"Okay. Just choose the damn house," she said while she took of her clothes from the waist up, keeping just her sports bar on.

"You choose, Benjen," Ned said, and Lyanna was relieved that at least wasn't Brandon choosing.

"The last house on the block."

"Nobody is ever home there, Ben," Brandon protested.

"They're home, and they don't know us," he told both Brandon and Lyanna, for the benefit of both of them. "Now come on."

Lyanna put the sweater around her, and followed her brothers to the chosen house. Brandon took the sweater from her and gave her a push.

She was trembling more from nervousness than the cold, which was weird given the weather. She gave them one last look and knocked on the door. Ned told her she needed to stay there for one minute (if they didn't open the door before), and she rang the bell again at 40 seconds. So she rang and stayed there, counting to herself, first ten seconds – nothing; next 20 nothing too. She knew that in another 10 she would have to ring again, so she did. She could hear people inside then but no one around the door, until she saw a boy at the window knocking and then seeming to yell something inside. Soon enough, he was joined by three other boys.

Ohhh… nooo… 10 more seconds please… she prayed, and she was already running from the front porch when she heard someone yell, "Perv! Those are kids!"

When she reached her brothers, they were all laughing and she took the time to punch each one of them.

"You're so stupid. Now, give me my sweater – I did it," Lyanna yelled, storming off back to her house. After putting another shirt on under her sweater, she sat on the snow again, waiting for her brothers. "Hurry up!" She waited for them to sit, before going.

"You're fucked, Brandon."

"Ned was the one to dare you."

"So truth or dare, Brandon?"

"Dare."

"I dare you to take off your clothes, and make out with that tree for five minutes."

"Can I at least put my clothes on the tree? It will make this challenge more interesting," he asked smirking, and she nodded.

She and her brothers sat looking at Brandon, who took off his clothes and put them on the tree, before he bowed to the tree.

"M'lady, will you do the honor of letting me kiss you?"

"Of course, sir," Benjen said in a woman's voice.

For the first minute, Brandon was doing okay, and he was laughing himself too, but it was when they were nearing the second minute that he started to freak out.

"No way, continue, Brandon. And I don't see your lips kissing the tree," Lyanna told him, and continued laughing. Benjen couldn't stop and already had tears on his eyes, and Ned laughed too, even if tried to hide it.

"Can you go get my camera? It's still in the living room from this morning," she whispered to Ned, who nodded and got up; just a few seconds later, he was back with the camera. She started filming Brandon. The camera wasn't that good, but she could catch his ridiculous face. He noticed after a while and protested, but really there was nothing he could do – and Lyanna would just have to get ready for retribution.

"NEVER AGAIN!" Brandon told her after the five minutes had finally passed, and she just looked at him with a smug smile, while her brothers fell down laughing at their oldest, who was putting his clothes back on.

"Now, we're on, Lya! Truth or Dare?"

"Truth." She wouldn't like it, but it was better than anything he could dare her to do.

"How many times have you thought of Robert while you were with Rhaegar?" He asked, and she knew what he meant by were. She looked at Ned, and saw him looking down, but she could see he was curious about her answer. "Come on, you can answer this, Lya. You don't cheat, right?"

"Thinking is not cheating."

"And I think we have our answer."

"This was supposed to be fun," Lyanna whispered to herself, and she immediately heard Brandon coming closer, and feeling guilty, he whispered.

"Sorry. I was mad, maybe I shouldn't ask that."

"No, I just shouldn't feel guilty about the question, that's all."

"I'll ask another thing. Where's the weirdest thing you've done drunk?"

"I never get drunk," she answered, pointing her head at Benjen.

"I know you drink," Benjen said in his know-it-all voice.

"Okay. One time I got so drunk, that I actually forgot where I was and walked two miles through the woods in just panties and a t-shirt."

"What were you doing in the woods?" Brandon asked.

"One question per person, Brandon. Now Benjen, truth or dare?"

"Truth."

"Okay, who do you have a crush on?"

"No one," Benjen said, and she actually believed him; he wasn't that good at lying. "It's my turn. Truth or dare, Ned?"

"It's always truth with you, isn't it?" Brandon mocked, so Ned took a risk.

"Dare."

"I dare you to jump from the roof," Benjen said, immediately adding to Brandon and Lyanna. "It's not dangerous, right? You two have done it."

"Yes, I think Ned would be okay," Lyanna said. "But the second highest maybe."

"Okay. How do I get up there?" Ned asked, taking off his jacket so he could move more easily.

"You climb," Brandon went around the house, and found his favorite bindweed. "So you hold onto the plant, and support your feet on the rocks, okay?"

"Okay," Ned said, taking a deep breath and talking himself into doing it.

So they stayed there looking at Ned while he climbed up the house. He stopped for less than ten seconds and she had her heart in her throat, fearing he would fall, but he kept climbing.

"So now I just jump?"

"Yes. On three. One… Two… Three…" they all counted, and Ned jumped.

"I can't believe you did it!" Benjen exclaimed, while they helped Ned up.

"You dared me. And now I'm going inside to change, because my clothes are all wet," he said, leaving the backyard.

They stayed outside, playing a few more rounds, and asking one question that even led Brandon to forfeit and drop snow under his shirt. But Lyanna was getting a bit bored with the game, so she asked:

"What do you think Ned is doing?"

"I think I heard the phone," Benjen said. "And if he's still on the phone, it means it's Catelyn."

"Ohhh…" Brandon said, standing up. "This will be good." He tiptoed to the living room where Ned was using the house phone, and quietly he walked up to the phone and yelled, "MERRY CHRISTMAS, CATELYN!"

"MERRY CHRISTMAS, CAT!" Lyanna yelled next.

"Sorry," Ned whispered. "But as you can guess that was Lya and Brandon," he said to the phone, and after a while. "She wishes you a happy Christmas too."

"Tell her I send hebest wishes too," Benjen said, and Ned did as Benjen asked.

"Going to my room. Tell her bye," Lyanna said, going to the kitchen to grab some fries and then back to her room. She lay down on the bed, and while munching on chips, she dialled Rhaegar's number.

"Hello," he said on the other side.

"Hi, it's me. Merry Christmas. Are you busy right now, or can we talk?"

"I'm free," he said, and she seemed to hear him close the door of his room. "And merry Christmas to you too. How was your day?"

"Great. Ned threw himself from the roof."

"What?!"

"It was a dare, don't worry. Is it snowing there?"

"No. It just rained."

"Ohhh… poor you… Snow is so much fun," she said happily taking a few more chips, before turning to a more serious subject. "How was your dad?"

"Father was a bit weird. Firstly he didn't even understand the concept of Christmas. And then Santa coming during the night, it scared my father, he wanted to check to see if the presents were bombs or if the food hadn't been poisoned," he told her and she felt so sad for him. "I don't think the kids saw anything. I got them out, while Mother took him back to bed – he didn't hurt her, so that was good. We opened the presents, just us, Mother and Uncle Aemon; and then when Father came down for lunch he was better, calmer and making more sense. I tried to keep Viserys's chatter to a minimum so it wouldn't bother him."

"I'm sorry, Rhaegar. How is he now?"

"Mother told him to take a nap, since Viserys is too distracted with his new toys and Daenerys is sleeping."

"Did you get what you wanted?"

"Yes, books mostly. And a CD, I was going to listen to it, before you called," he told her, while she looked at the bag where his present was. She had bought him a shirt, and a new, and funny, tie. "You?"

"Yes, a few things…" she said, while she started to ramble on about the presents she had gotten, before Rhaegar put on the CD. She listened to it with him, while they both read in their own homes, her with her new BD and Rhaegar probably with a classic – but she liked the peace, the melody of his CD and his steady breath.


 Gerion Lannister

Gerion hadn't been home since last Christmas, and the more he travelled, the smaller Westeros seemed. He had finished high school two and half years ago, and was in his third gap year, much to his oldest brother's disdain. That first summer after high school, he had gone as far as Essos with a few friends who then went back to start college. For the following two years he had been all over Europe and now for the past nine months he had been staying in Africa.

Gerion walked through the airport, and everything was so different from what he found in Africa: so many people around him, so many different noises, too many people coming back for the holidays. He waited for his bag by the baggage carousel; he picked up his backpack, and walked outside, taking a cigarette and lighting it while he took everything in.

He never knew how to feel when he came home; while he had missed his family (some more than others), he missed being on the road, meeting new people all over the world, meeting new cultures and lifestyles. He knew his oldest brother would insist that he take off the stretcher he had put on in one of the tribes he stayed with. Maybe he wouldn't notice – it was a little thing compared to the ones he had seen – but Tywin wouldn't like it. Taking his hand to his now mid-back length hair that he knew that Tywin would want that cut too.

When he finally finished his cigarette, he called for a cab, and told the driver to take him to the Lannister Manor on Casterly Rock. The man immediately knew where it was – everyone knew.

The drive was quicker than he thought, and after a few banknotes he was in the house where he had been raised. He couldn't even remember his parents, but Tywin and his wife had raised him. He paid the cab driver, threw his backpack behind his back, and rang the bell, knowing he wouldn't be able to find the damn key in his bag.

"Lannister residence. How may I help you?" One of the maids said opening the door surprised. It was one of the new ones clearly, since she couldn't recognize him.

"I live… at least I used to live here. I'm Gerion Lannister."

"I need to get someone, sir," she said, before closing the door in his face.

While he waited, he lit up another cigarette. Tywin wouldn't probably let him smoke inside the house. It took three more minutes before someone opened the door.

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Lannister. It was a new girl and…"

"…And she didn't expect that Tywin Lannister's younger brother looked liked this," he told her, and the woman gave him an apologetic look. "And you know I don't like being called Mr. Lannister. Just Gerion, please."

"Of course, sir – Gerion. You can come in."

"I'll just finish this," he said pointing to the cigarette in his hand. "Is my room still in the same place?"

"Yes. Mrs. Frey has guaranteed it was kept the same," the maid said before going inside. He couldn't help but think that when he first heard the name, he didn't think it was his sister – sometimes he liked to forget Genna was already married, with kids.

He stubbed out his cigarette on the steps, before kicking it into the plants, so he didn't have to hear Tywin complain later on. He entered the house, and found out it still had the same cold feeling that it had since he left, the silence, the empty walls that he remembered Joanna had decorated with photos and flowers.

He moved to his room, and dropped his bags on the bed. It was exactly the same: the photos of his long dead parents on the dresser, his map with blue push pins marking the places he wanted to visit, and red ones marking the ones he had (he knew that he would be able to substitute some of them now). There were some photos as well, and looking on his bedside table he found two things – his stack of porn magazines which got him through middle school and high school – and then a box filled with the photos he had brought and left last Christmas when he was home.

He was going through his bag, putting all his clothes aside to be washed with that expensive (and as he learned through the last few months, unnecessarily expensive) detergent, and taking out the few souvenirs he had. He never bought much stuff, but he liked to keep pictures from where he had been, and who he had met.

"Uncle!" He heard when someone threw the door open. "You're finally home!"

"Hi, Tyrion," he said to the youngest (and shortest) of his oldest brother's kids. "How you've been doing?"

"Good," the kid while he climbed on the bed with some difficulty. "I got a girlfriend now."

"Really?!"

"Yes, her name is Tysha, and she's in school with me."

"So tell me about her," Gerion couldn't believe his little nephew had a girlfriend.

"She's pretty, just a bit taller than me, with dark hair. I bought her a book, she likes reading, but she doesn't have that much money, so I lend her a lot. And she's smart, really smart."

"She seems cool."

"More than cool. Did you meet anyone on your trips?" Many, he thought.

"Some, Tyrion. Everyone with their own story. I'll tell you all about it at dinner," Gerion said, trying to get Tyrion out of his room so he could shower.

"Okay, I see you want me out."

"You've always been clever, Tyrion. I'll see you later."

After his nephew left, he took off his clothes and added them to the pile of clothes to be washed, leaving them up by the door on the way out – some maid would take them. After that, he went to look for a clean towel, but got a bit lost, looking around.

"Ohhh… sir…" he heard a voice say, and looked up to a young woman blushing.

"Sorry, sometimes I forget I'm not alone," he said, looking down at his semi-nude state. "But maybe you can help me. Can you tell me where the towels are?"

"In the closet next to the bathroom in the guest wing, sir."

"Thank you. Also, I left a pile of clothes on the door of my room to be cleaned – if you can do that…"

"Of course," she said before continuing on her way, while he turned left to the guest wing.

Quickly he found the clean towels (and two more maids blushing at his naked chest) until he finally made it to the bathroom, where he finally took off his boxers.

He turned on the hot water, and as it selfish it seemed to him, he let the tub fill with water, before stepping in, in the middle of rich bath soaps. And just like that, Gerion felt like a Lannister again – powerful and with everything at his feet – as though his baths for the last months hadn't been by the river, that the water he found was more for drinking or helping people in need. Gerion wondered how it was fair for him to be here, wasting water, while he had experienced the lack of water in other places.


 Tired as he was, he fell asleep, only to wake up when someone knocked and banged on the door.

"Uncle! Are you in there?" He heard Tyrion yell. "Uncle! It's Tyrion, please open up."

"Sorry," Gerion yelled back. "I'm here, I fell asleep."

"You're about to go to dinner. The servants are out since it's Christmas Eve, but Jaime ordered food."

He couldn't believe his brother couldn't even come home today.

"Of course. I'll be down in a few minutes," he yelled back, while standing up and getting under the water again to get out the rest of the soap.

He got out of the shower, and pulled the towel around his waist, and looked at himself in the mirror. He knew that his brother would make him shave off his beard, and make his hair presentable – but maybe he could be himself for one more day.

He left the bathroom, with only a towel around his waist. Reaching his bedroom, he found that the clothes he had left in the door had been taken – he hoped he still had some clean clothes in his closet. While he couldn't find any clean underwear, he did find an old pair of jeans, and a lot of shirts (some of them didn't even seem to belong to him).

He walked down the stairs to the dining room, and then to the kitchen but couldn't find them, until he heard voices from the living room.

"Good evening, nephews, niece," he said entering the room. Cersei immediately stood to welcome him, and while she kept her space he pulled her in for a hug, just before doing the same with Jaime. "How are you?"

"Very good, uncle," Jaime said, and Cersei only smiled her cryptic smile as always. He had missed them. "We don't actually know what your favourite pizza is, but we have a lot – pepperoni, Hawaiian, margherita…"

"Really, Jaime, I'll eat anything – I haven't eaten pizza in months," he told them before sitting on the couch with them and taking a slice from the boxes.

"There's beer," Cersei said, taking her glass of wine. "We won't tell Father, if you don't either," Gerion took them up on their offer. Living in Europe he had gotten used to drinking rather regularly (since in most countries you only needed to be 18 or 16), but he remembered that back at home, he wasn't old enough to drink.

He expected for them to ask him about his trips, but everyone was too distracted by the Christmas movie on TV, and their dinner.

"Is it always like this? Does Tywin never come home?" Gerion remembered eating many meals just with the kids and the maids, since Joanna died and his brother stopped having someone insisting that he come home early, but Christmas Eve seemed a bit too much.

"Yes," Cersei was the one to answer. "After all, we are Lannisters, and Father is the best lawyer in the city. Besides, with the family business – if we want to be as powerful as we always have been, we need to work."

"You're still his kids," Gerion said, and heard Tyrion scoff.

"But he doesn't care."

"Of course not. You killed Mother, why should we care?!" Cersei said with venom, but surprising Tyrion didn't seemed affected (not like the last time he had heard Cersei make comments like this).

"Cers, stop. Not now," Jaime said, before she stood up and stormed out. "She will get over it," Jaime said sadly, before looking up to his uncle, and shaking off Cersei's behaviour. The twins had always been so close, he knew that sometimes they would get jealous when one of them asked Gerion to join their games – as they grew he decided to start refusing (really, getting food poisoning from Cersei once, and having a ball thrown right at your balls by Jaime, can change your mind). "So how were your trips?"

"Good. I was in Africa for the last nine months – Ghana, Zambia, Angola, and this last month I've been in São Tomé and Príncipe. And I can tell you, Portuguese class was actually useful." This was something he had never thought before. "But really meeting those people, talking with the children, playing soccer and telling stories… well, some parts were awfully hard. I talked to so many victims of violence – Angola is still in a civil war, of course…" But before he could continue Jaime interrupted him.

"Please, tell me about Europe. We all know how the third world is," Jaime said. Gerion wanted to contradict him. Without being there you couldn't actually have an idea how some people lived – how much need they have for basic needs.

"Sure. What do you wanna know?"

"I don't know, something."

"Ohhh… your father will kill me. But I read Marx and Lenin, and to your father's horror, I lived with a communist community for awhile in Albania…"

"Albania?"

"It's a small country, next to Greece, you know where that is, right?"

"Greece – yeahh… Gods and stuff."

"Right. Well, Albania has not been communist since the fall of the Berlin Wall." Jaime looked at him like he didn't even know what he was talking about, but Gerion continued. "But overall, I met some people there, and I now wonder why people make communism sound so evil." But he did understand why his brother did – he wouldn't give his life up for equality.

"Don't you have more interesting stories?"

"I lived in France – close to Paris – for almost six months, sharing a small apartment with a beautiful French girl called Aimée. It was quite fun, and the longest relationship I ever had."

"Why did you leave?"

"We parted on good terms, but she knew I wanted to continue my trips and she wanted to continue her studies and couldn't follow me. I'm supposed to send her something from the States, maybe someday I'll move there or she'll move here – I don't know, but we stayed friends," he finished telling his nephew. Aimeé was still able to put a smile on his face. He could still smell her shampoo, and hear her laugh while they tried to teach each other a little bit more about each others' languages.

"So what about you, any ladies? Or are you still a virgin?" He asked, making Tyrion laugh from the end of the couch, reminding them that he was there. Not that it would stop their conversation. "I do hear your younger brother has a girlfriend, now."

"Still single."

"And a virgin?"

"Yes, I'm single and have been single."

"Yes, I forget about your womanly notions sometimes."

Gerion always laughed when Jaime talked about love and marriage and waiting for the right person. He seemed to have not grown up and still believed in fairytales; not even his sister held this notion that love and sex shouldn't be separate.

"Shut up!" Jaime protested, before Tyrion interrupted them.

"But he does have a girlfriend now. Her name is Brienne, she's taller than him. If you look at her from behind you would think she's a man. She's blonde too."

Gerion arched his eyebrow at Jaime. His nephew had always been self-centred and too proud of his looks to date an ugly woman.

"We're not dating, for sure," Jaime said. "But she's a friend, since Arthur is no longer here, and Cersei has things to do – I needed someone new."

"Still, someone beautiful would be good."

"For dating, sure. I'm not risking the possibility of kids with someone that looks like…"

"Especially with dwarf genes already in the family," Tyrion said.

"Right," Jaime said ruffling his hair. "But she's a good friend."

"Her height may counteract the dwarf genes," his younger brother joked.

"Shut up," Jaime said, punching his brother and then throwing him the remote. "You can change the channel now, the movie is over."


 Gerion ended up falling asleep on the couch again, to wake up to some show host yelling on the TV. Finding the couch empty, he turned off the TV and stood up, stretching his back.

He looked out of the window, and noticed that his brother's car was already parked. He knew his brother would have to pass through the living room to reach the stairs, and Gerion couldn't help but think on the fact that Tywin didn't even bother waking up the brother he hadn't seen in a year. But after all Gerion wasn't in the mood to go look for him either.

He walked to the kids' rooms. He stopped at Tyrion's first, finding him asleep, before going to check the twins' respective rooms and finding them both empty. Wanting to look for them, he tried to remember what they usually did – if it was summer they would be by the pool, of course. Then he remembered Jaime telling him that Tywin had finally put an indoor pool in the house, so he turned back to Jaime's room to steal some of his bathing suits, since he had put all his clothes in the wash. He changed while still in his nephew's room, and made sure to remember to pick up his clothes later (and maybe grab a pair of clean underwear).

He made his way outside the house, knowing that his brother would have constructed the pools in one of the two guest houses. Joanna had always wanted to put a jacuzzi there; he had heard them talk about it many times, but she had died before they could do that, and his brother had called off every plan.

He wondered which of the houses would have the pool. He took his chance on the smaller one, and quickly heard laughter from inside. He tried to open the door, but couldn't so he just knocked.

"For fuck's sake, you two, open the door. I'm freezing outside in my bathing suit."

"Sorry," Jaime said, opening the door. "Are those my shorts?" Gerion ignored him and walked in.

"Hi, Cersei! I hope I'm not bothering you."

"Not much," she said. "Why didn't you come through the tunnel?"

"Tunnel?!"

"Yes, it's no weather to be outside."

"We'll lead you when we go back," Jaime said jumping into the pool, and Gerion followed soon after. Cersei looked from the jacuzzi.

He and Jaime raced in the water. Sadly, Jaime won most of the races – he probably swam everyday.

"I need to stop," Gerion said, sitting in the edge of the pool. "So are you guys applying for college this year?"

"Of course. You kind of fucked up our lives. Because of you, Father would never let us take a gap year," Cersei said. "I'm applying to the Ivy Leagues – just those, I need to get into one. I want to take business, maybe some political science, I'm not sure." Cersei said. Jaime was still very quiet. "Come on, Jaime, you probably told your pig friend, you can tell your family."

"Cersei, don't."

"Okay, you probably told the girl, you can tell your uncle."

"I want to go to Hollywood – for acting." Fuck…

"Fuck…"

"I know. UCLA or USC, probably," Jaime said.

Gerion still didn't know how to react to that, and ohhh… he and Cersei will be away from each other.

"Have you told your father?"

"No," they both answered. Both seemed to dread the question.

"You're looking at me, asking why shouldn't I tell him?" Cersei asked. "He will want me to throw my studies away sometime, like aunt Genna – and I don't plan on doing that. I'm going to make a name for myself." And Gerion knew this was true. Her father would want to marry her to his partners. He had gone on dates with daughters of partners – he could imagine how bad this would be for Cersei, a girl and his daughter.

"So what are you going to do?"

"No idea," Jaime said, while Cersei stood up in her crimson bikini and dived into the water. When she finally emerged, she asked.

"What do you suggest?"


 The next morning, the moment Gerion had dreaded came. He was called to his brother's office. Knowing it wouldn't do any good making him wait, he threw on a pair of jeans and a shirt, and left his room.

It was hardly possible to see it was Christmas morning. He was sure that in most houses children were running in the morning, Gerion could only remember that from his brother's marriage with Joanna, since his father died soon after his conception and his mother died soon after giving birth to him.

He knocked on his brother's office's door, and waited for an answer.

"Please come in."

"Hello, brother," Gerion said.

"Welcome back to the US," Tywin said without looking up, still filling some papers.

"Still working on Christmas morning?"

"Some people need to. So when do you plan to stop with this nonsense?"

"It's not nonsense, Tywin, I'm helping people."

"Spending money is not helping me or our family. And you'll put ideas in my children's heads." If he only knew…

"I plan on starting school next year, in Essos, if you want to know. I'm spending the next months in Asia, I got some volunteering work there."

"Okay. Next year and no excuses. And at least volunteering looks good on a resume," he said before standing and packing his papers. Only after that did he look up to his brother. "Family is coming today. That beard and hair are not acceptable."

It wasn't like Gerion hadn't been expecting that, but he still protested.

"Why?! It's perfectly good – I like it that way."

"It's not proper for a Lannister. You look like you're from Flea Bottom – and we're not those kinds of people. Do it now, I want you presentable to receive Kevan, Genna, their respective families, and Tygett." Gerion couldn't fight, so he gave up.

"Okay, I will." Tywin didn't answer, and knowing the talk was over, Gerion left Tywin's office. He made it back to his room and got under his covers knowing he needed to sleep some more if he was going to survive the Christmas lunch with the family.


 He knew that when the doorbell finally rang, it was time for him to walk down the stairs, now dressed in one of Jaime's suits with his beard shaved and hair cut.

"Come here, Gerion," he heard his sister yell as soon as she saw him. She looked the same as last year; she towered over her husband, who looked extremely uncomfortable being there.

"Hi, Genna. It's so good to see you," he said hugging her.

"You need to tell me all about your trip," she told him, pulling away from him and looking at him. "You got skinner, don't they feed you in the rest of the world? I'll be sure to get you a bit fatter before you go again. Also you need to stop by the house. I remodeled, I needed to hire someone, since my husband can't do anything," she said, ignoring the fact that her husband was right next to her.

"Welcome back, Gerion," her husband said.

"It's good to be back,… Frey," he said since he couldn't remember his actual name.

"Emmon. I'm going to see how Cleos and Lyonel are doing," he said before disappearing into the dining room, joining the others, while Gerion accompanied Genna to the closest room, that appeared empty.

"How are the kids?"

"Good. They've been growing, they are probably showing their new toys to Tyrion. But how have your trips been? And where are you going next?"

"Next is Asia, Nepal, I think that's my first stop, I made a few friends from there."

"That's cold, isn't it? You better buy new clothes and…"

"Gerion!" Another voice yelled, that he recognized as his older brother – Tygett.

"Why do you always have to come like you just came out of the field?" Genna commented, looking at their brother dressed like a Air Force pilot.

"Mind you, I actually do something, unlike you," he answered pulling Gerion into a headlock. "So how have been the girls in Europe?"

"I was actually in Africa doing volunteer work."

"Actually helping – maybe you're more like me than I thought."

"I'll leave you two to talk. I need to get something from the car that I'm sure my idiot husband forgot," Genna said, before going away.

"I think I've never heard her say one good thing about her husband."

"You should hear her talk about his family. I think he suggested that they spend Christmas with the Freys, and she almost cut his head off," Tygett said, making Gerion laugh.

"Seems true enough. So, how long have you been home?"

"Two months, now. But they're calling me back in May, which isn't sitting well with Darlessa."

"Tywin keeps insisting you marry her?"

"Kevan too, now. I probably will when I get back from my next tour. When are you coming back for good?"

"I promised Tywin that I would be back next year, but I told him I'm going to school in Essos."

"Good one."

"The table is ready," said one of the maids, calling for them.

"Thank you," Gerion said. "I can't believe he makes the maids come on Christmas."

"He wouldn't let anyone else host dinner, and Cersei can't cook yet."

They left for the dining room, as the maid asked them too, and that was when they crossed paths with their older brother.

"Kevan, it's so good to see you," Gerion said.

"Likewise, Gerion – it seems you've grown since last time. And Tygett, you're looking sharp in that suit."

"Thanks."

"I would advise you to not enter the room, the kids are trying to convince Tywin to open the presents before lunch."

"Ohhh… that won't go well."

"That seems likely."

"We'll just have sulking kids at the table," Gerion said.

"Great. Just tell them they can't change Tywin's mind," Tygett said, while they walked into the dining room. It seemed someone had already told them that, because everyone was already seated. Kevan took the place next to his wife, while Tygett and Gerion took the other two free places, closer to the children than the adults. Tywin, sat at the head of the table, and he stood up to make his speech, welcoming them to their home.

Lunch was served. Gerion hadn't seem so much food in one table in so long. Everyone looked at the food waiting for Tywin to say they could start, since as the host he would be the one to cut the turkey, and while he did that, the passed around the side dishes.

Lunch went without a hitch. Gerion kept his conversation mostly with the kids, or Tygett – they asked for stories, and he tried to tell the appropriate ones. He talked about learning to play soccer, about those tourist places everyone talked about – like the Eiffel Tower, which prompted Tyrion to say:

"They opened an Eiffel Tower in Vegas now."

"Okay, kid. I'm sure it's not the same deal as the one in Paris."

He talked about Italy, visiting Pompeii, which made Tyrion quite excited since he liked history, and Rome, the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa – but people were more interested in knowing if the food was as it good as everyone said. (It was).

Soon after, the others started sharing their stories as well. Kevan and Dorna were expecting again; Tywin talked about the company, trying to get Tygett and Gerion to join him and Kevan at the company after they had figure out everything else. Genna talked about the kids. He noticed Cersei rolling her eyes and asking her aunt if she ever thought about going to work again, before Tywin told her to not ask stupid questions.

When the meal was almost over, the kids could no longer be quiet at their places, and wanted to leave without dessert, but when they heard Tywin threatening that if they left now, they wouldn't be allowed to eat dessert later, they stayed.

It was more than a half hour before they were in front of the tree surrounded by presents. Everyone was excited to open them (even the adults). Since there was no order, people just went to the tree look for their presents so they could exchange them. Genna was the first one to give him something. Tearing the paper off, he found a few shirts, t-shirt, sweats and two pairs of pants.

"If I had known you were going to Nepal – I would have put less t-shirts and more sweats, but I hope this helps."

"It does. Thanks, Genna," he said before she disappeared to continue opening and giving presents; the next one to come to him was Tygett.

"So you've been in Europe, you're old enough there – so go on," he said, before presenting him an old bottle of whisky.

"Thanks, brother," he said pulling him in for a hug.

"He's not old enough, Tygett."

"Don't be such a mood killer, Kev," he said before moving away.

"Be careful with that," he said, before presenting him with a present of his own – a cellphone.

"Thank you. You didn't need to."

"You know, we all miss you. I hope this helps you keep in touch."

"I will."

After that he sat around and looked at the kids opening their presents. The younger boys got cars, puzzles and games. Looking at the twins, Cersei held a new phone too and also quite a lot of clothes, while Jaime, besides clothes, as always he had gotten signed balls (baseball, football and even soccer) as always, and then money.

He could hear Genna apologizing to Dorna for not getting anything for the new baby, when his attention to the conversation was interrupted.

"Hi, uncle. There's Father's present for you," Tyrion said, presenting him with a beautiful wrapped gift, opening he found a briefcase with his initials carved – G. L. – he looked for his brother around the room, and when his eyes found him, he nodded to him as a thanks.

"Thanks, Tyrion. So what did you get?"

"Books, mostly. I got yours – thanks – I'm excited to read both versions," Tyrion said. Gerion had got him Les Misérables – both the original in French, and a translation. And only then, Gerion got that he had forgotten to distribute his presents, to distracted in getting them – he hoped everyone found his in the pile.

"I hope that makes you listen in class."

"It will. Jaime also got me glasses like Harry Potter. They're very cool! I don't have any idea how he got them. It would be so cool if they made a movie – I could have so many things, I'm sure they would be popular."

"And your sister? Father?" He asked, curiously, soon wishing he hadn't.

"Cersei never gets me anything. And Father – I better not say, I won't even open it, knowing what it is."

"What?" The curiosity got the better of him.

"You know how sometimes parents threaten their kids with putting coal in their stocking?" Gerion nodded. "Father takes it literally," Tyrion said before walking away, to go join Jaime, who had now left Cersei's side.

And Gerion thought, like he had many times, Joanna's death had really fucked up that family.


 Robert Baratheon

The clock read 12:24, on the morning of December 24th, when the oldest Baratheon boy was first awoken by a punch at the door, and the voice of the youngest boy.

"Get up, Robert!"

Robert only rumbled and threw his pillow against the door, going back to sleep – it seemed to be what he did most days anyway… that and drinking...

Less than 10 minutes later, another person opened the door, making his way to the other side of the room and opening the blinds.

"God... Renly go away," he muttered, trying to reach for a pillow he no longer had to cover his head from the sun. He ended up happy with just pulling up the covers, and turning away from the light.

"I'm not Renly, Robert," he heard his mother say, while she yanked the covers off, and slapped him on the back. "Now get up, my lazy boy."

"Mom..." he complained, while scratching his belly.

"Come on. Or I'll call your dad, and you know it just takes him a few seconds to fill the bucket with freezing water."

"Argh," he grunted and finally, taking the threat seriously, seemed to open his eyes, barely catching his mother leaving the room and closing the door behind her.

But it didn't take long for Robert to shake himself awake, and make his way to the bathroom, surprised to find both of the other rooms empty. While Stannis woke up with the sun, Renly liked to sleep late as much as Robert did. In the bathroom, he quickly threw water on his face, noticing how uneven his beard was becoming (he hadn't touched it since classes had ended), and relieved himself before walking into the kitchen, scratching his navel under his shirt and behind his neck while reaching for the bowl on the cupboard and reaching his hands inside the cereal box.

"Please, wash your hands first," Stannis said, and Robert at least this time did as he said, not in the mood to fight with his brother. "And you should already be dressed, usually we're out by midday."

"Out, where?!" Robert asked, finishing filling the bowl with cereal, and drinking from the milk pack.

"Just out," Stannis said.

"So for fuck's sake, Stannis, if you wanna go out, go out. Who the fuck cares?" Robert said, not understanding what he wanted. "Now leave me alone, I just woke up and I'm tired."

"Sure, you only think about yourself," Stannis grumbled before leaving the kitchen.

Robert shrugged his shoulders, and walked to the living room, ready to crash on the couch, but was surprised to find the small table by the window – that only sat two people – prepared for a meal, with candles and roses as well. Wondering what was going on, he walked upstairs to look for Renly (maybe he wouldn't be as much of a jerk as Stannis) but he stopped when he heard his name from the bathroom.

His mother was resting against the doorjamb – but what was surprising to him was that she was in a dress and with her hair up – while Father, already in a suit, was shaving his beard. Robert still wondered why they were dressed that way when he heard them talk.

"Maybe we shouldn't do it this year?"

"Cass..."

"God, you saw Robert, how can I ask him to leave the house when he can barely hold himself up?"

"Maybe we should do something, you were up until 5 a.m. last night making sure he got home in one piece, we shouldn't have to worry this much," Dad said, and Robert felt guilty for putting his mother through that.

"What do you suggest? Rehab?"

"Maybe, if nothing else works," his father said sadly, and Robert felt scared about that option. "But today it's Christmas, and we should enjoy it, and we should enjoy our date. You know it will probably be the only time we have time to ourselves until next year," Steffon said smiling at his wife, while reaching for his tie, which actually matched his wife's dress.

"And where will we send him? You know he didn't want to go the Starks this year, I asked him. I'm sure Ned invited him and that Rickard wouldn't mind."

Since Robert could remember, he would spend the Christmas' Eve's Eve at the Starks, and then after lunch on the 24th he would come home. It was true, Ned had invited him, but for the first time he had said no, making up some excuse.

"He can spend time with his brothers. He's almost an adult, and he needs to understand his mother can't fix every damn problem. He needs to take the bull by the horns – everyone has had their heart broken."

"Really? Who was that minx?" His mother asked, hugging her husband from behind, and Robert knew he had seen too much, and had made a decision.

He knocked at Stannis's door, before opening and saying while munching on his cereal:

"I'm just going to change, I'll be done in five minutes."

Robert went to his room, and put the bowl on the dresser, and while he tried to finish eating – dripping a bit of milk down his shirt – he took off his pants, and looked for jeans he had left at the foot of his bed and put them on. Finally, he finished his breakfast, leaving the bowl on the top of the dresser and getting a sweater to put over his pyjama's shirt and some sneakers for his feet.

Getting out of his room, he knocked on both his brothers' door's rooms.

"I'm ready."

"You're coming?!" Renly asked excited.

"Sure, kid."

"I'm not a kid anymore."

"Sure, you're not. Get a ball from the garage, maybe we can play something."

He made it downstairs, while Renly ran in front of him, and found his mom in the kitchen, still at the stove.

"You look beautiful, Mom."

"Thanks, son."

"We're going out," he said, and before his mother could say anything else, Dad appeared, like he had been waiting for his cue.

"Here's money. Don't go throwing it away, but it should be enough to keep you entertained for a few hours," he said, putting the money and the car keys in Robert's hand.

"Thanks, Dad," Robert said, trying to forget the awful thought (accompanied with a very disturbing image) of what his parents planned to do with so much free time.

"Steffon, please look after the food, while I say goodbye to the boys," Dad seemed to think about protesting but stopped himself – it was never a good idea to argue with Mother.

She walked out of the kitchen and seeing her other two boys, she went to kiss each of them on the cheek. Squatting to Renly's height, she told him to listen to Stannis, and her youngest answered her by smiling and telling her that her dress was beautiful, and looked great with her eyes, and that her hair looked really good up.

"Already knowing how to talk to the ladies."

"Robert, you behave. No getting your brothers into trouble, you understand?"

"Yes, Mother," he told her and she smiled, kissing his cheek.

"Ohhh... you should shave your beard, it's itchy."

"It's manly, Mom."

"Of course. Now go on, son," she said, waving goodbye to them from the window before closing the door.


 After a quick ride, with Stannis trying to tell him how to drive and how to park – the kid doesn't even have his drivers license yet – he finally parked the car by the park Mom and Dad used to take him to when he was younger.

They got out of the car, and walked deeper into the woods. Once again Stannis decided to lead them and stopped when he found a place where he could sit.

"Come on, Stannis, come play with us," Renly pleaded to his older brother.

"I'm not good at sports."

"Neither is Ren, but he's still playing," Robert said, ruffling Renly's hair.

"Hey!" The youngest brother protested.

"I'm just going to read for awhile," Stannis said, taking a seat on a bench nearby.

"So what kind of sports do you want to play?"

"I brought the baseball and the football."

"Okay, let's just play football. Let's see how quick you are at catching the ball. Take off your jacket, Renly, you can't move properly like that." Robert waited while his brother took off his jacket. "Okay, good. Now, run," Robert ordered, while he threw the ball the longest he could. He watched his brother run. He was only half way through the trajectory when the ball touched the ground. When Renly finally caught it, Robert signed to him to throw the ball again, and because of lack of strength, the ball ended up halfway back to him.

"You need to strengthen those legs," Robert told him when Renly came back. "What do you say to a race?" Renly immediately agreed, and they marked a trajectory, to the other side of the park and back.

"Three… Two… One… Go!"

When Robert started running, he was doing well. Quickly he was able to pass Renly, but it was when he reached the other side that the pain started. He pushed through it and kept running slower; he was less than halfway there, and his chest was hurting, and was becoming harder for him to breathe.

"Robert…" he could hear Renly saying. "What's going on?"

But Robert couldn't answer. "Let me help you to Stannis." Renly said, throwing Robert's arm over his shoulder. "You need to help me."

It wasn't that far, so Robert was able to walk to Stannis's bench, and with the help of both brothers, he got to sit.

"Hey, Renly why don't you go play with those boys over there?" Stannis said.

"But, Robert…"

"I'll look after him."

Robert heard Renly walking away, and then a voice.

"Try taking deep breaths," Stannis said, and Robert did as his brother said. After a few minutes he calmed himself.

"What was this?"

"In case you don't know, alcohol and cigarettes aren't good for your lungs and heart – for your health in general."

"I've always drank and smoked," Robert said between breaths.

"Not this much, Robert. Do you think we don't notice? You came home drunk almost every night this holiday."

"I…" But he didn't know what to do because it was true. "This doesn't happen in practice or games."

"You've been running slower."

"How do you know? You don't even come to the games."

"People talk," Stannis said, and Robert gave him a look wondering since when did he talk to people? "Melisandre and her cousin set fires to ask God for good luck in all your games – she told me."

"Your girlfriend told you?"

"She's not my girlfriend. She's my colleague, but yes, she told me. Maybe you should slow down with the drinking and smoking. If you get thrown off the team, no college will want you."

"Fuck off," Robert yelled at him, and tried to stand up, but quickly figured out he couldn't even stand on his feet. Robert sat back down, and stayed there silently while he kept reading, but it took him less than five minutes to lose his patience and talks.

"So what was going on with Mom and Dad?"

"It's their anniversary," Stannis said like it was obvious.

"Isn't that in May?" Robert asked; he had been sure it was.

"That's their wedding anniversary. Today is the anniversary of the first time they met," Stannis spoke again like it was obvious. "Haven't you heard the story?"

"I don't think so," Robert couldn't remember.

"Mom tells us every year. So Mom forgot to buy some Christmas presents, so she had to go shopping on Christmas Eve, and Dad was working that day; since she was trying to hurry up, she broke a perfume, I think – they say different things sometimes – and ruined her clothes. She only had brought enough money for the presents, so Dad had to pay for the perfume, and he also gave her his own sweatshirt," Stannis said, and Robert thought that it seemed something from one of those lame romantic movies.

"It doesn't sound real," Robert commented.

"I know but they say it is."

"So they do this every year?"

"Yeah, you always spend the morning and afternoon at the Starks, so before Mom would leave us with the neighbours. Now she just gives us money to go out."

Robert smiled at his parents' relationship, and how they still fucked when they were that old, that was the kind of relationship he envisioned with Lyanna.

Fuck! No thinking of Lya today…

"Hey! Do you wanna throw a baseball ball around? Just us three," Robert asked, feeling bad for not spending any time with his brothers. "Come on, I promise I won't go hard on you. I can't even if I wanted to."

"Okay. I'm sure Renly would like that," Stannis said, going up to call for Renly. And Robert looked at them, thinking that maybe brothers weren't such a bad thing – you better get used to that, do you think Ned will keep choosing you over Lya? The day that he'll have to choose will come, and you're out…

"Can't we play after lunch?" Renly asked, thankfully interrupting his thoughts.

"Sure," Robert said picking the football ball and throwing an arm around Renly's shoulder, while Stannis picked up his book and their brother's jacket. "Where to?"


 It was almost dinner time when they finally got home, making sure to ring the bell in case his parents hadn't recuperated from their afternoon activities, before unlocking the door. His dad was on the couch watching a movie, and Renly immediately ran to sit next to him, and Robert could hear him tell Dad that his older brothers had played with him and shared stories and that he had the most fun – surprisingly Robert agreed.

Robert moved along seeing his mother in the kitchen working on the final touches for Christmas Eve dinner. She was now dressed in jeans and a Christmas themed shirt and seemed to hear him pass.

"Robert, we're going to eat in a few minutes."

"Can I just take a quick shower before?" He asked her, and she told him to go on but be really quick about it.

Robert dropped his dirty clothes in the hamper in the bathroom, and entered the shower. Somehow instead of the cleansing effect the water normally had on him, it made him remember that he used to spend the day with the Starks, and he was filled with rage again.

"Why?! Fuck you, God," Robert yelled, knowing it was the only way to let the rage go and hoping that no one heard him. He wanted to yell more, and ask why he always remembered, why he couldn't go a day without thinking about her, even though he'd fucking had fun with Renly, and even Stannis. So he ended up doing what he always did: he punched the wall, just before rinsing off soap. Getting out of the shower, he put the towel around his waist and walked to his room.

He tried to look for a bottle of something – anything that would take the edge off – but his room was clean, so he just took a cigarette from the pack he kept inside his school case, and opened the window so the smoke wouldn't get inside.

"Son, dinner is ready," his dad said, opening the door. Robert tried to hide the cigarette but it was too late. "If you're in the living room in less than three and a half minutes, I won't tell your mother," his dad said before closing the door, and Robert just stubbed out his cigarette and threw it out of the window. He picked a new pair of jeans from his closet, and decided to go with the Christmas shirt his mother had left at the foot of his bed.

Everyone was already helping Mother bringing the things to the table, when he came down, and his father sent him a look to tell him to hurry up, so he helped his mother and siblings.

They sat around the table, and heard Renly recount his entire day – thankfully he didn't mentioned Robert's shortness of breath; he didn't really need to worry Mom even more. His mom smiled at him, happy that her sons had actually spent some time together. In the middle of the meal, when his parents told the story of how they met, it seemed Stannis was wrong. Mom mentioned a lava lamp, and Dad agreed.

"So what did you think of your day, Robert?" His mother asked.

"It was fun. And I'm sorry I slept late, I didn't know you had plans and all," he apologized.

"That's okay," Dad said, clapping him on the back.

"Did you have more fun with us than with your friends?" Renly asked.

That's a bold question, and he didn't have an answer. Of course, he wouldn't have survived this year, with Lya there, without doing something stupid, but all the other years had been great. But feeling someone stepping on his foot, and seeing his parents' looks, he knew what to answer.

"Of course, you're funnier, Ren. Now, I couldn't say the same thing about your brother," he said, turning to Stannis.

"Boys, be nice," Mom threatened, before either of them could do anything else.

And so the rest of dinner didn't go badly. They ate calmly, and Robert helped his mom bring dessert to the table. The boys also drank hot cocoa, while their parents shared a cup of whisky. But it was almost midnight when Robert noticed Dad escaping, (not that incognito, since his brothers noticed as well), looking up to Mother.

"Just go along with it, it's Dad's favorite part of Christmas," Mom said, and they all nodded.

So they waited for Dad to come out, because unlike most American families they opened their presents on Christmas Eve by midnight. Since Robert could remember his dad dressed up as Santa – even if Renly stopped believing in Santa a few years back.

"Ohh… Ohhh…" They heard Dad trying to imitate Santa's laugh.

"Ohh… darn, it's seems you can't meet our dad this year either," Robert said when Santa came into view, trying not to laugh.

His father had a full costume on, including a pillow to make his belly larger and a white beard.

"So, Santa, what do you bring for us?" Mom asked.

"A lot of good things. I've heard your husband has been a particularly good husband this year," Santa said winking at Mom.

"I don't think my dad would like you flirting with my mom."

"You know, boy, I can still take your presents away," Dad threatened.

"Okay, Santa, you can flirt with Mother," Robert said, rolling his eyes.

"Now can someone tell me the time?"

"It's already midnight," Stannis said, while Renly yelled:

"IT'S PRESENTS TIME!"

"Okay," Santa said. He looked for something inside the bag, coming out with a very small box and giving it to mother.

"Ohh… it's beautiful…" she whispered looking at the necklace. "Boys, close your eyes," she told them, but they ignored her and were honoured with the image of Mom kissing Dad in a Santa suit.

"Dad won't like that," Renly said, making their parents pull away.

"Your sons are insufferable, my lady. I think I should just leave you with your presents and go away."

"Excellent idea," Mom agreed, which made Renly protest immediately and then finally apologize.

Santa looked inside the bag again, and took three things, giving each of the boys a gift, which strangely made Mom cough. The boys took a while to turn and look, so she just said.

"Stannis, sweetheart, trade your present with Robert. Santa must be tired."

They traded, and Robert opened his gift, finding tickets for seven games this season – all double tickets.

"I'm sure your father would like to keep you company," Santa explained. "It was on his Christmas list too, after all."

"But you can take whoever you want – Ned, Brandon, your brothers – your choice."

"But your father…" Santa said again, before Mom kicked him in the shins. Robert looked around and saw that Stannis had gotten another book, while Renly got another Action Man. And a few moments later, Santa had left, leaving the bag full of presents in the room. They waited for Dad to come back.

"Hey, Dad. You missed Santa again. Was there something wrong with your belly again?" Robert asked.

"I'm fine, I promise I'm fine," Dad said. "Now let's open some presents, before I decided to call Santa to come and take them back."

Robert passed his presents along, while he continued working on his pile. Happily he seemed to get every game he asked for, and even some clothes.

"So did you like it, boys?" Mother asked, and they all nodded. "So it's time for bed."

Renly protested, wanting to stay up and play, but Mom didn't let him get away with it. Less than ten minutes later, all the boys were put in bed.

But once again Robert couldn't fall asleep. The day had been good – he couldn't deny it – he had laughed with his family, and mostly forgotten about his problems. But once again he missed her. Since he'd known her they would call each other before he fell asleep on Christmas' Eve (and in later years they'd do a little bit more than speak). He tried to push her out of his mind, but nothing happened – his brother's laugh would turn to hers, his father dressed as Santa tonight would become Lyanna and that time last Christmas she was in nothing but a Santa hat...

So he gave up, and picked his phone, and decided to go for it – after all, it was Christmas and he deserved a wish. He looked for her number and texted her.

I still miss you, Lya. Come back to me – Robert

He touched send, and reached for her photo on the shelf in his bedside table, and while she smiled at him with her stormy grey eyes, he grabbed the lube.

Chapter Text

Catelyn Tully

It was the 26th, a day after Christmas, and as promised Uncle Brynden had taken Edmure for a ride on his new bike, while Lysa had convinced Petyr to take her to the park. As always Father had business to deal with. But besides the empty house, Catelyn was nervous. She had invited Ned over. She hadn't seen him that much during the break and now she was both excited and nervous to exchange presents. She had asked Lyanna for help, but she hadn't been that useful, saying that Ned had always been hard to shop for.

She was waiting for him, pacing in the entry hall and trying to stop herself from biting her nails. She stopped to look in the mirror, and she couldn't help but feel she looked ridiculous – she was wearing a red dress with a Christmas theme, knee socks and huge fuzzy slippers – but she felt giddy that she knew she didn't feel that embarrassed to be like this in front of Ned. She could trust him not to mock her.

"I'm coming," she yelled when the doorbell rang, arranging her hair into a bun.

She opened the door, and found Ned on the other side. He was in jeans, a shirt and a pullover. She immediately pulled him inside the house, giving him a quick peck on his lips, not wanting the neighbours to witness it.

"I hope you had a good Christmas," he told her, taking her hand in his and rubbing it with his thumb.

"Yes, it was very fun. I love having Uncle Brynden around the house. Yours?"

"Good too. The Mormonts and the Umbers are coming over tonight, so it's not over yet."

"I hope you have fun," she told him, before pushing him up the stairs.

"About that. Do you have plans for New Years?" He asked, and Catelyn's heart did a little jump at the prospects of spending New Year with him. She had never celebrated it away from her family, but she didn't think her father would oppose it – thank the Gods, Father doesn't believe the ludicrous idea that the world will end just because the millennium is coming.

"No, not really," she answered him, opening the door of her room for him – she feared it would look a bit childish to him, but he mentioned nothing.

"Ohhh… So would you like to come with me to Castle Black at the Wall?" He asked her, and knowing him, she knew it wouldn't be just them.

"Who else is going?"

"So it's me, Robert and Brandon, and then Maege, Greatjon and Galbart."

"Wouldn't your friends mind?"

"No, of course not. They are kind of dying to meet you."

"Isn't your sister going?"

"She usually comes, but with Robert and the break-up, she decided not to go this year."

"Okay. Also how would I get home?"

"I was wondering if you would like to sleep there with us."

Catelyn knew she immediately blushed at the question, and Ned got nervous immediately, understanding how it sounded, and started scratching his head. "No… I don't mean that. I mean… we usually sleep in the apartment above the bar; it's owned by Maege's brother. The boys and I usually sleep in the living room, and Jeor has his son sleep with him, so Maege and Lyanna can sleep in Jorah's room. You could sleep there instead of Lya, with Maege."

So if she said yes, she would sleep in a room with a complete stranger, at least to her.

"Or I can drive you down if you prefer," he told her, turning to her on the bed.

"I'm not sure, Ned. I need to talk to my dad. But I would like to," she said, honestly, smiling at him, and he pulled her close for a hug and kissed the top of her head.

"You know you can sit next to me." And he did. He still held her hand and played with her fingers, while Catelyn tried to think of the best approach before he interrupted her.

"So what do you want to do today? It's your house after all."

"I was thinking that maybe we could watch a movie or something," she suggested. He agreed, but the movie wasn't fifteen minutes in before Catelyn took the plunge.

Catelyn kissed him, and Ned responded quicker than she thought. His lips felt good against hers, and she could feel he was getting more at ease as they continued, so she decided to move from her side of the bed to his lap, and with that Ned pulled away.

"Cat…" he whispered, bringing his hand to her hair, releasing the bun. "I… don't know…"

"Follow my lead," she whispered before kissing him again. She put her hands around his neck, pulling on the small hairs he had there, and Ned moved one of his hands to her waist, taking that as a good sign. She opened her mouth, and tried to coach Ned to do the same. He squeezed her waist a bit tighter, and let himself open his mouth. Slowly, their tongues touched, and moved together. This time was much better than the first time. Ned let her lead him, and while it couldn't compare to Brandon's experienced kisses, she felt safer in his embrace.

Ned's hand moved to her face, holding her closer, while his other hand still played with the tips of her hair. Soon after, Ned pulled away without moving his hands, just looking her in the eyes, and Catelyn could tell her face was all red.

"You're blushing…" he whispered, and she blushed even more, hiding her face in his shoulder.

"Shut up…" she said as he hugged her closer.

"So… this was… unexpected," she heard him say into her hair.

"Was it okay?" Catelyn asked, still blushing.

"Yeah, I think so – I wasn't so bad this time, was I?"

"Of course not. I like this, Ned – I like trying new things with you, learning with you," she finally said, taking her face from his shoulder.

"I'm glad. I'm sorry, I'm not as experienced as Brandon was, and…" Ned started saying, but she stopped him by kissing him again.

"You need to stop comparing yourself to Brandon." She looked into his eyes. "I like you, Ned, you – not your brother. And I trust you, and just so you know, your brother never made it to my bedroom," she whispered into his ear, and he actually laughed.

"So why do I have this privilege with you? Even with my lack of skills…"

"Shut up, Ned," she said, slapping his chest pulling him closer, kissing him again. Ned quickly responded and moved his hands to her hair. After a bit of kissing, she heard Ned groaning, so she pulled away, biting his lip. She finally left his lap, sitting next to him again, and looking away while he fixed his pants – after all, he might not be Brandon, but he was still a teenage boy.

After a while of looking at the movie she had put on before the makeout session, she felt Ned's hand over hers again, and smiling, she decided it was time for the second part of their date.

"So it was Christmas… and I got you something, I'm not sure if you'll like it or not… but…"

"I'm sure I'll like it, Cat. I got you something too, and to be honest I had to ask Lyanna for a bit of help."

"Me too, but she wasn't that useful. She said you were hard to shop for."

"Really?!" He asked, surprised.

"Yes. Not because you don't like the things people give you, but because you never go around saying what you want, so people have to guess."

"I'm sure I'll like anything you give me."

"Thanks for the comforting words," she said sarcastically, pretty sure Ned didn't get it and stood up, getting what she needed from the closet, while Ned got the bag he had brought with him from the floor. She took a seat on the bed in front of him, sitting Indian style and pausing the movie

"So I go first," she said, giving him her gift. She looked at Ned while he opened it. She couldn't tell what he was thinking, but she hoped he liked it. "I hope it's your size," she said as he took the shirt out of the package.

"I think so. Thank you, Catelyn. It's a good shirt – I like the pattern and the colour."

"I know it's simple, but I know you like things like that," she said.

"I do. Thank you, Cat," he said, stepping forward and pecking her lips sweetly. "Here's mine." He gave her his own gift; it was shaped like a book. "I hope you like it."

She shook the gift before opening it, ripping the paper and finding an old book inside – The Story of the Starks' Wolves.

"I found it in my dad's office, I thought you would like it. After all, we talked about this at our first party, and I know you already have a ton of these old books."

"Are you sure I can have this book?" She confirmed with Ned. After all this wasn't a cheap book, but a family book, for sure.

"Of course, I talked to my dad. It's better in your hands," he told her. "And then tell me what it says – I want to hear about the wolf stories you talked about."

"I will. I'm really excited to read it," she said honestly. She was really proud Ned remembered her love for Westeros history.

"Look inside the book. I had help from Lyanna with that one, before finding the book," Ned told her, and Catelyn looked inside, where she found two tickets to a dance recital. "I hope it's a good one, the lady at the counter said that it was – but neither Lyanna nor I were sure."

"I think it is," she said, looking down at the tickets. "Two tickets," she commented, wanting to know what he planned to do with those.

"I thought you wouldn't want to go alone, you can invite whoever you want – friends, family…"

"You…" she whispered, before asking. "Would you come with me if I asked? I know it's not probably your thing. But I think it could be fun and…" she said trying to think of more reasons.

"Of course I would go, Cat," Ned said, and Catelyn kissed him, finally sitting next to him again.

"Thank you for everything Ned. Your present was perfect, nothing compared to mine," she said, and she felt bad. After all Ned's present was more personal than the shirt she gave him – she hoped he didn't think badly of her.

"I really like the shirt, Catelyn – it's great."

"I do really hope you think that," she whispered, and sat next to him. "So do you want me to rewind the movie?" She asked. After all, they had missed the entire first part.

"No need for me. I've watched it before. But if you want…"

"It's okay for me like this," she said, resting against the headboard, with Ned sitting just a few spaces away from her, and turned her attention back to the movie she had seen a million times.

But Catelyn found herself distracted by the feeling of Ned's hand on top of hers. It made her feel safe, cared for. Discreetly she tried looking at him, without him noticing it, but she soon found out that she didn't need to be that careful, since his eyes were closed. He looked well rested that way, without the worry lines he shouldn't have, so she pulled herself safely closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder, and he squeezed her hand.

"Just resting my eyes," he mumbled, and she smiled at the thought of how at ease his voice had been. It was the one she still rarely heard him use with her, he was mostly nervous with her, but it was normal with his siblings and Robert. She turned her eyes back to the Christmas movie on the TV, and focused on the movie, while trying to ignore Ned's snores.

They stayed like that, even when the movie ended. Not wanting to wake up Ned, she decided to pick up the book he gave her.

Just by holding the book, she could tell without a doubt that it was an old book, that probably had sat on the shelves for a long time – a book she knew that to buy, she would have to spend her entire savings.

She started opening the cover, when she heard the front door open, and then immediately after her uncle's voice, and then footsteps – small footsteps with no sense of boundaries.

"Cat," her brother yelled, pushing the door open. "Why is a boy sleeping on your bed?" He asked, rather loudly – ohhh... I'm sure Uncle heard him, please... don't come in with your shotgun, Catelyn prayed.

The noise seemed to wake up Ned, especially when her uncle entered the room.

"Ned, can you stand up? My uncle and brother are home," she asked him, and he opened his eyes, rubbing them.

"Sorry, I fell asleep. I didn't mean to."

"No problem, Ned," she said, still smiling and forgetting about the other people in the room, until her uncle cleared his throat. "Sorry," she said turning to the older man.

"Catelyn, I thought you told me broke up with the Stark boy." Ohhh... noooo...

"Uncle, I told you about Ned, I even asked you for help with his present."

"Oh…Sorry, Cat. But he reminds me of your old boyfriend."

"Uncle..." she said before Ned intervened.

"I'm Ned Stark, sir. Brandon is my brother."

"Ahhh… Ned, it's a pleasure to meet you. Catelyn has talked about you. So what are you doing here?" Her uncle asked, going straight to the subject and not even apologizing for mistaking him for his brother.

"I came to wish Catelyn a Merry Christmas, and spent some time together," he answered honestly. "Merry Christmas to you too, sir, and to you too, Edmure," he said, ruffling her brother's hair, making Catelyn smile at his attempts to connect with her family.

"Thank you, Ned. Maybe we should go talk in the living room," her uncle suggested. Not that it was really a suggestion; luckily he walked in front with Edmure, letting her have some time alone with Ned.

"Maybe I should just leave," Ned protested.

"Don't, don't leave yet. Do you still have time?"

"Yes, not long, but at least 45 minutes."

"So stay. My uncle will only think you're running away."

"I'm not, Catelyn. I just wanted to make things easier."

"I know, Ned. But come on, before my uncle thinks we got up to something," Catelyn said, taking his hand and leading him to the living room.

"That took you a while," her uncle said, and Catelyn shot him another look, so he ended with, "Just enough time for me to get you some yogurts, and the rest of the cake you and Lysa made yesterday."

"Thank you, Uncle," she said taking her place next to Edmure, with Ned on the other side, while Uncle Brynden sat in the armchair. "Do you want anything, Ned?"

"Try the cake, it's really good," Edmure said, stuffing his mouth with it.

"Okay, I'll take a slice."

"Yogurt?"

"No, thanks," he said, while she cut two slices and opened a yogurt for herself.

"So boy, you know what your brother did to my niece? You understand why I don't trust you,"

"Uncle…"

"Little Cat, I'm talking. If your boyfriend doesn't like what I'm saying he can leave," he said, looking at Ned, who only nodded, letting her uncle continue. "I would like to make sure my niece doesn't get hurt like that again. If it was up to me, I wouldn't let her date until she's thirty, but I understand and respect her wishes, so I let her. And the least I can do is make sure she makes the right decisions."

"Sir, I understand that what my brother did was wrong, and I would never plan on doing the same. We share the same blood and name, but we're not the same person – Brandon and I are different, and I'm not here to prove my brother's innocence. I'm here because I care for your niece," Ned said, and Catelyn was surprised to hear him talk so much.

"Okay, boy. So tell me why should I let you see my niece?"

"Uncle…" Catelyn tried to stop him once again.

"I like her a lot, sir, and I want to make her happy. She's beautiful, smart and fun to spend time with," he told her uncle, looking down at the floor, while she blushed, especially when Edmure started making kissing sounds on her ear.

"I'm giving you a chance, boy, because I do believe you're telling the truth. I hope you treat her with respect."

"Thank you, sir."

"Ohhh… Don't forget, I'm just her uncle, you still have to deal with her father."

"Uncle," she complained again, before turning to Ned smiling. "Daddy will like you too."

"So you go to school with Catelyn, I suppose. What year?"

"He's a junior too, Uncle, and before you ask he's a responsible and good student."

"I'm talking to him, not you, Little Cat. Sports?"

"I'm on the basketball team, but I'm not that good. I like fencing too, I had classes when I was younger. Now I just spar with my brother or sister," he told her uncle, and Catelyn was surprised she didn't know this yet, but she decided to comment on it later, when they were alone.

"Interesting. I always liked basketball, and if you're on the team, you can't be that bad. But I've always been more of a football man."

"I like watching football too, and soccer sometimes."

"Soccer – that's not a big game here."

"My mother was from the UK, she always loved it."

"Was…" her uncle said sadly.

"She died a few years ago – cancer…"

"I'm sorry."

"My mom died too," Edmure said, sitting on her other side, and a bit left out of the majority of the conversation.

"I'm sorry, Edmure," Ned said, while Catelyn pulled her brother onto her lap, and kissed the top of his curls.

"I don't remember her very well…" her brother whispered. "Do you remember your mother?"

"Yes, luckily I do. I got to spend a lot of time with her before she got sick. But I'm sure you know stories about your mother, right?" Ned asked, sharing a look with Catelyn to make sure this wasn't a bad question.

"Dad doesn't talk a lot about her," the boy said again, playing with his fingers. "But Cat does, she says that we usually ate outside by the river, like a picnic. And that we would go swimming, Cat says Mom taught me how to swim when I was this tiny," he said, showing how little he had been with his hands.

"I'm sure she did a good job."

"I think so. But Cat is the best swimmer in the WHOLE world," he said happily, before turning to Catelyn and quickly to Ned again. "Maybe when it's sunny again, you could come and swim with us. I could help Cat teach you if you don't know how," he offered.

"I may take you up on that offer. But I do know how to swim, not as well as you, I'm sure, maybe you can teach me."

"Yes! Yes!" Edmure said nodding enthusiastically, before running off and coming back with a console game. "Do you want to play?"

"Ohhh… I would like to, but it's getting a bit late and I need to go," Ned said looking down at his watch, and Edmure's face immediately fell. "But I promise I'll play with you some other time."

"Edmure…" Catelyn murmured, wanting to keep him from throwing a tantrum.

"Okay," her brother said, still sad. "But you promised."

"I did and I will, Edmure – I promise," he told the young boy. "But I have a family dinner tonight, so I really need to go."

Edmure nodded, showing he understood, and got out of Catelyn's lap and went to get another piece of cake, while Catelyn remembered she needed to get Ned's present.

"I'll go get your gift, Ned. I'll be back in a minute," she said, leaving Ned alone with her family, hoping that nothing bad would happen. When she came back, everything seemed okay. Ned was saying goodbye to her uncle, shaking hands. "Hey, Ned, here you have it," she said giving him the bag. "I'll take you to the car, don't bother protesting," she told him. Ned smiled and wished happy holidays to her family for the last time before walking out of the house.

"Thank you for having me, Cat," Ned said. "I had a lot of fun. And even if I didn't plan it like this, I'm glad I met your brother and uncle."

"Thank you for having patience with them."

"I understand where your uncle is coming from," he said, and after some silence, he finally said. "I meant what I said, you know?"

"I know, Ned," she said, pecking his lips before he got into the car. "And I'll see if I can talk to my dad tonight about the New Year's party, I'll call you when I know if I can or not go."

"Okay. I hope you can come. And if your father needs to talk to Maege about making sure you sleep with her, he can."

"I'm not eight years old, I'm sure my dad can trust me to tell him the truth. I hope to see you then."

"I hope so too. Talk to you soon, Catelyn."

"Bye, Ned," she said before he drove away. She made it back to the house to find her uncle still waiting for her.

"I like him, Little Cat. And I don't say this lightly. Honest boy, he seems. But if he turns out like his brother, I'll cut him down."

"I don't think you'll need to, Uncle," Catelyn told him honestly; she had a feeling she and Ned were in this for the long haul.


Oberyn Martell

The Dornish sun set after a long day, and the last rays of sun shone through the curtains of Oberyn's room, making it in a beautiful shade of orange and red. He held a pair of legs tight against him, making the final thrusts to climax, while the girl bit his neck, almost drawing blood.

"Ahhh..." he grunted having finally spent after giving her a second orgasm. She lay down on top of Oberyn with him still inside her, while he played with her dark hair.

"God... I like the new biting stuff, it comes from lying with wolves, doesn't it?" He asked her, but she didn't answer, only laughed and kissed the marks he was sure she'd left on his neck. "Also you were telling me about some girl before your speech was impaired."

"Right," she said, finally looking up, and before continuing talking she moved just enough for him to pull out of her and put the condom in the bin next to the bed. He kept it there for this kind of occasion (which was more common than someone might think).

"So… her name is Ellaria," she said sitting with her elbows on his chest, looking at him with her purple eyes. "She's beautiful, not like the usual type, but still beautiful, when she walks into a crowd, you are immediately drawn to her."

"She seems great."

"Ohhh... you would love her, Oberyn. Really, she's your perfect woman."

"Isn't she gay?"

"Bi, I suppose."

"Have you fucked her yet? Because I've been dying to introduce you to a few girls, because while I do love our threesomes with Daemon and that other guy, a few more boobs would be good," he told her grinning, and she made sure to rest her elbow on his pierced nipple and ask.

"Are you telling me mine aren't good enough?"

"Of course not, love," he said, kissing each of her breasts, and biting her left one.

"And answering your question, we just kissed. I'm not sure I'm ready for more, she does make me feel good..."

"…But you like cock too much," he told her laughing, but she just ignored him. "And talking about cocks, I thought I was your only permanent lover."

"Are you jealous?" She asked him, tracing his pierced nipple – he knew how much she loved it, she had been so excited when he told her he had gotten it pierced.

"No, if I'm still the better on." He quickly noticed her guilty face. "What?! What does that face mean?!" He asked her looking straight into her eyes. "Didn't I just make you come twice?!"

"Yes. And you, Oberyn, you're still the best at almost everything."

"Almost?! I don't like the sound of that."

"Brandon is better at oral. It's not your fault, he's better at it than everyone I've been with, and you know how good Braavosi guys are?!"

"Yes, I know. But I still don't like it… is he better than Daemon?" He asked and she laughed.

"God... Oberyn... almost everyone is better than Daemon," she said still laughing. "Just because he knows how to go down on a guy, doesn't mean he actually knows how to do it with a girl – he's fucking awful at it. Haven't you noticed I always push him away, before I get more turned off?!"

Oberyn laughed with her before kissing her lips, and whispering in her ear.

"I'm gonna eat you so good, that son of a bitch will have nothing on it. You tell him it's a message from the Red Viper." She giggled just as beautifully as always while he showered her body with kisses. "And you can tell that bastard he can come visit me, if he wants to know how to properly fuck someone," he told her just before kissing her inner thighs.


"Ashara! Ashara!" Oberyn heard someone yell, waking him up, and not five seconds later, the door was thrown open, forcing him to open his eyes. At the door was the person he probably least wanted to see in this moment – Arthur, Ash's brother.

"Who the fuck is calling my name?!" She muttered while cuddling closer to Oberyn.

"Your brother is in the room," he told her, still not looking Arthur in the eyes. Oberyn hated to admit it but Arthur scared him, he was much bigger (and stronger) than him, and Ashara had told him how he had punched Brandon Stark.

"For fuck's sake, Arthur. I'm starting to think you like seeing me with other guys," she said, while reaching for her panties on the floor – throwing Oberyn his boxers in the process – and finding one of his t-shirts to cover herself before standing up. "What are you doing here? Please tell me you aren't here to beat up Oberyn's ass too, can I just remind you he is your friend?"

"I'm here to take you home," Arthur said seriously. "It's Christmas, it's not the time for you to be fucking around, but the time to be home."

"I was home at Christmas."

"You left without explanation."

"Without explanation?! You're kidding, right? I'll give you one right now. You punched Brandon for no good reason."

"No good reason?!"

"Yes, no reason. I don't see you hitting Oberyn right now."

"And you don't need to," Oberyn protested, but neither of the Dayne siblings heard him.

"Do you want me to hit Oberyn now?! It's always about you, isn't it?! You always think that the world revolves around you," Arthur shot back, and Oberyn immediately could see how much that hit Ashara. He knew, she always felt lesser compared to her brother, even after Oberyn and Elia told her it wasn't true.

"No. I want you to leave me alone, and not go around beating people. It's my damn body, Arthur, I can do whatever I want with it," she protested. "But I'm still wondering, why are you okay with Oberyn and not Brandon?"

"He's a fucking Stark, Ash," Arthur said, in a lower tone now, looking at his feet. As always things came down to Elia. "I love Rhaegar, Ash, he's my best friend. But I still want to smack his face against the wall for what he did to Elia. I can't like that Stark girl, because I need to hate her – she ruined Elia, she ruined our group," Arthur continued, and Oberyn remembered that only last year, they had all been hanging out in Elia's room. "I don't want you with the Stark, because it must hurt Elia."

"I asked her, Arthur, I promise I did, and she never said she minded."

"Ashara, you know Elia better than me. So answer me this, would she ever say no, when your happiness is at stake?" Ashara had no answer, they all knew Elia would put them before her without a second thought. "Just think about it. And come home, we want to spend time as a family," he said, before leaving the room.

Ashara stayed frozen in place until she heard the front door close, and then whispered.

"He's right, Oberyn. What if I've been hurting her?" She said, looking at him, with her eyes filled with pain, and tears almost falling. "I can't do that, I could never forgive myself. I cannot lose her – she's everything to me."

"You won't lose her, you could never lose her, Ash."

"Are you sure?" She asked, with the tears threatening to fall.

"Of course. You love Elia too much and she loves you too much," he told her, pulling her down with him. She laid her head on his chest again. "But maybe you should go home. Spend time with your parents and brother – I'll still be here, and Elia too, if you need it."

"Can I stay here a bit longer?"

"You can stay as long as you want," he told her, as she tried to fall asleep again, against him. Ashara was the one of the few girls he actually felt good doing this with, he wasn't a fuck-and-skip kind of guy, but he always feared that cuddling with some of the girls could mean he wanted more. Of course, Ashara meant more than a fuck, but still nothing more than friends with benefits, and she knew it.

He lay in the bed playing snake on his phone for a while, but he could never be still in the same place for long, so he took Ash's arm from his chest, kissed her hair and left the room, going to the kitchen to look for something to eat.

"Good morning, Oberyn," Elia said as he entered the kitchen.

"Hi, Elia. Did you sleep well?"

"Well enough, but I did wake up to yelling."

"Sorry… I had no idea Arthur would burst through the house. Really whose idea was it to give him a key?"

"Yours, if you remember we have ones for the Daynes as well," she said. She sipped on her tea, and Oberyn went around the kitchen to make some French toast for him.

"Did you hear it?" Oberyn asked, after an awkward pause.

"Part of it. I need to go talk to Arthur, it seems. I actually can't believe he can't understand Ashara – she's insecure, and he's breaking her spirit by telling her that," Elia said, pausing to think.

"Do you really don't mind?"

"That what?! That Ashara has sex with Brandon?! No, of course not, I would never judge her for that. She has already has too many people judging her, she doesn't need me too. She isn't as careless as Arthur thinks, she did ask before ever being with him, or with you for that matter."

"She asked you?!"

"Of course. And I said yes, I always thought you two were carved from the same stone," she told him, smiling and squeezing his hand. "And while I'm not Lyanna's biggest fan, neither she nor I control our friends' lives, she doesn't stop her best friend from talking to me…"

"Is that wise?" He said, he couldn't help but suspect the girl's ulterior motives.

"Why not?! Catelyn is a good friend, and I can discuss books or movies with her, the ones Ash doesn't like, that I used to talk about with him."

"You can call me, you know. I've liked every book you've given me to read, and I don't see that changing."

"You live so far away, Oberyn…"

"You could convince Mom to let me go live with you."

"Maybe if you didn't get in so much trouble, she would let you. But with the baby on the way, it's a bit hard to convince her."

"Ohhh… the baby… shit," he swore. "Time?"

"11 am. Why?"

"Fuck. Need to go. The ultrasound is today, and I promised to pick up Vanessa."

"Vanessa? Is that her name? Maybe you could invite her over."

"I'm actually not sure if Vanessa is her real name, or not. And honestly I don't think she would like to come over." he said standing up. "I'll bring you a photo of my baby girl."

"It's a girl?"

"I think so," he said, smiling, before running to the bathroom so he could shower quickly.

When he was done with a towel around his waist and walking to his room, he remembered that Ashara was still sleeping, so he tried to be the quietest he could be.

He dropped the towel at the end of the bed, before looking for clean underwear, jeans and a sweatshirt, and then sat on the bed, still carefully enough not to wake her, to put on his shoes.

"Sleep well," he whispered to her, considering whether he should leave a note or not, and ending up by going with no and just reminding his sister of her sleeping best friend in his room.

As Oberyn got on his motorcycle, he couldn't help but wonder if he should start asking Mother to borrow the car. He didn't have a clue if a bike could cause damage to the baby – okay, add it to the list of the things to ask, he thought. Crossing the next curve to Vanessa's neighbourhood, he could see her at the door already, and she looked pissed. It seemed to him that any good mood she had, she kept it for the clients at the club (all clients but him…)

"You're late, Oberyn. You were the one that insisted on this doctor, I was happy with my old one."

Oberyn ignored Vanessa's complaining, and just waited for her to sit comfortably behind him, before starting to drive to the new doctor's office. After he told his mother about the baby, she had insisted he look for the best OB/GYN in the field, the one who had handled both of his mother's late pregnancies.

After parking the car, and entering the building, Oberyn saw a reason to not like this office that much. Every person looked at him and Vanessa sideways, judging them not just on the fact that they were this young, but also his leather pants and jacket, and her shirt that rose up just enough to show her bump (and her belly button ring).

"Take a seat. I'll get us checked in," he told her, going up to the desk. The woman behind it wasn't that much nicer, looking him up and down.

"How can I help you?" She asked.

"We have an appointment with Doctor Ebrose, it's under the name Martell," he told her, and the woman's face seemed to change immediately. His family name could still hold some power around here.

"Someone will call you, when the doctor is ready," the lady said, and Oberyn made it back to Vanessa who was flipping through a magazine.

Five minutes passed when the secretary called for them. Oberyn rested his hand on Vanessa's back. while they followed the lady to the doctor's office.

"Hello, I'm Doctor Ebrose," the doctor told them, reaching to shake their hands. "You must be Oberyn, and Vanessa, right?"

"Yes, thank you for seeing us on such short notice."

"No problem. Vanessa, if I can ask you to lie down?"

Vanessa did as the doctor said.

"So how far along are you?"

"Four months, I think. Or almost four. Give or take."

"Okay. This will be a bit cold," the doctor warned before putting the sticky blue liquid on her belly, and then the small device. Vanessa grabbed for his hand, and they both looked at the screen, and Oberyn couldn't believe what he was seeing, and hearing. It was the first time he had come with Vanessa, and what he was seeing was… unbelievable.

"That's her heart…" he whispered.

"It's still too early to tell the sex," the doctor said, but Vanessa cut her off.

"He's convinced it's a girl."

"Okay. So you can clearly see the head, now," the doctor said. After looking around a bit more, she concluded. "Everything looks well."

"Could you get us a video of the ultrasound? I would like to show my sister."

"Of course, a video and a photo."

"Two photos, please," Vanessa said, surprisingly. While she hadn't said anything against her initial full custody idea, Oberyn knew she was getting much more attached to the child.

"Of course. Do you have any questions?"

"I have a motorcycle, is it dangerous for the baby if Vanessa rides with me?"

"It's not harmful; the most dangerous part is the chance of an accident. But while for now there's no difference, probably when you're far along in your pregnancy, it'll become too uncomfortable to ride a bike."

"And the piercing?" Vanessa asked.

"It's always different. If you feel any distress I do advise you to take it off – it can be dangerous because of infections," Vanessa nodded, looking down at her piercing. "Any more questions?"

"Pole dancing?"

"What do you mean?" The doctor asked.

"I work as a stripper. And I suppose that when I'm huge I won't be able to do it. But while I can, is it dangerous for the baby?"

"No, I suppose not. But if you feel nauseous, stop – and don't overdo it."

"Okay. Thank you."

"So everything seems okay with you, I would suggest a cream to prevent stretch marks, I don't know if you get them easily or not, but it's better to prevent them, if you can." Vanessa nodded. "The morning sickness must be passing by now..."

"I never had much," Vanessa admitted.

"I have patients who would kill for that," the doctor said laughing. "Okay, in your second trimester you may also experience an increase in your libido – it's normal, and sex is not dangerous to the baby. And of course, even if you're pregnant and there's no risk of getting pregnant, STDs are still a possibility," the doctor told them, and while Oberyn knew she was only trying to be helpful, he also knew that she probably wouldn't say this if they were a thirtysomething married couple.

"I know," Vanessa said with conviction.

"Of course. Could you please go change into this gown, so I can examine you?" Vanessa took the gown and went behind the partition to change. The doctor turned to Oberyn and said, "If you want, you can wait outside. Vanessa will be out in just a few minutes."

Oberyn did as the doctor suggested, and turning to the door, she said, "It was a pleasure seeing you, Oberyn. You were a newborn the last time I saw you. Send my best regards to your mother."

"Of course."

Out in the waiting room, Oberyn decided to pay the bill, it was expensive, that was for sure, but money had never been a problem, and he wanted the best for his child.

"Thank you," the woman said happily. It seemed just a bit of money could change someone's opinion. He sat back down in the chair, waiting for Vanessa, and struck up a conversation with a young man sitting next to him. The conversation went on nicely. The guy was obviously flirting with him (which seemed weird because who would come to an OB/GYN office to flirt with men?), but he did get a weird but familiar feeling from him. He didn't think he knew the guy, but immediately understood when a woman came closer and took his hand (with that Oberyn noticed just the discomfort, the ease he had before was gone).

"Hi. What has my husband been telling you?"

"Nothing much," he guaranteed, sending a look to the man – he really shouldn't hide this from his wife; one day she would find out and her heart would be broken.

"Oberyn, I'm ready to go," Vanessa said, approaching them, and he stood and took off with her.

"It was good meeting you. I wish you the best," he told the couple, leaving the office. "So how was everything?"

"My pussy is in good health, thanks for asking."

"Did you like the doctor?"

"I'm sad to admit that yes. I hate to give in to you money people. But she does know more than my old doctor."

"I'm glad. Do you want to go somewhere?"

"No, thanks. Just take me to the club – I'm taking the girls out for lunch," she told him, while she sat behind him. "Ohh… I have the video and photo for you in my bag."

"Thanks… So you asked for a photo for yourself?" he said, asking himself if this was the right moment to mention this.

"I'm carrying this child for nine months, giving up many things I like to do, Oberyn. I may need a photo to tell me why I'm doing this."

"I'm not questioning your choice to ask for it."

"So what are you saying? Are you asking if I've changed my mind?"

"Vanessa, I just want to know if…"

"You're giving your future away alone," she said. "There's a clear difference between you and I. And you may hang out with people from the lower classes, but if you go home you still have money, and what seems like a family to support you with the baby. I don't have that, Oberyn – so choosing this child can take away every chance I ever had. I need to think," she said, and he nodded at her words. "Just drive now," she said hugging him tighter.

He dropped her off at the club, and they shared no more words than goodbye, even as she gave him the photo and the video. Looking down at his child, he smiled and drove home.

He parked the motorcycle in the garage, gathered his stuff and headed to the house. He looked around for his family, finding Elia in the living room.

"Is Mother back yet?"

"No, still at the office."

"And Ashara?"

"I talked to her, she's feeling better. But she decided to go home. I'll go by sometime tomorrow, to see her family and see if I can talk to Arthur."

"Okay, I hope she's feeling better. Arthur left her in a really bad state."

"I know. There's food for you in the fridge. Hurry up, I want you to tell me how it went."

"Is the food…"

"It's mac 'n cheese," she said, but he couldn't trust her. She shouldn't be eating that, it was bad for her diabetes. "Shut up, you're not Mom. And I found a recipe that's supposed to be diabetes-friendly," she said, making a disgusted face at the expression. He knew she hated it.

He took the mac 'n cheese from the fridge and reheated it in the microwave. While looking for cutlery in the clean dishwasher, the buzz from the microwave rang. He quickly took the plate and took a bite. Luckily it tasted good, not like some of the diabetes-friendly food his mom sometimes cooked.

"This is actually good, Elia," he said coming to the kitchen and sitting next to her.

"Thanks, see that you finish it. Mom doesn't believe I can look after myself." Oberyn sent her a look that said you-what-about-me? "Ohhh… shut up, she has a reason with you. With me it's just because of my health, like I need babysitting. If I need help Ashara will help me."

"You know Mom trusted Rhaegar more to look after your health problems than Ash – she knows Ash is just like me, while Rhaegar was responsible like you."

"Ohh… shut up and just finish it, before I have to explain to Mom why this is good mac n' cheese." He did as she said, and kept eating, while his older sister looked attentively at him, ignoring the TV on the background.

"Just ask, damn it, Elia."

"How did it go?"

"The baby is well. I could hear the heartbeat and everything, and the head is forming, you can see it," he said. "Hold on this," he said as he gave her his plate. He went to retrieve the photo and put the video on; he gave her the photo and took the plate.

"Ohhh… this is my baby nephew or niece…" she said smiling. "I always thought my first nephew would be Doran's."

"I suppose it made sense. But I was never one to do things in order."

"Are you happy? Are you scared?"

"I'm happy, and excited, but I'm fucking terrified, Ells," he said laughing, putting the finished plate aside and lying down. "That will be my responsible, maybe Vanessa's too, but she isn't even sure yet. Fuck, it's so much harder for her. I have the money and the support, she doesn't, but I think she's warming up to the idea of the baby."

"I can talk to her."

"Maybe. But for now, she needs her time," he said, thinking about Vanessa's face when they looked at the picture of their baby. "Do you want to see the video?"

"Yes, please," she said, and Oberyn clicked play, and the baby's heartbeat filled the room. They both watched the baby make just small movements in this mother's womb. "Woww… this is so beautiful, Oberyn. I know this is may be too early for you to be a father, but congratulations – she or he will be lucky to have you."

"Thanks." They stayed like that for five minutes, replaying the video when it ended, until Elia stood up, and wiping her eyes, she said:

"Come on, Oberyn, I need help emptying the dishwasher."

"Why me?" He asked, standing up and following her to the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Maege Mormont

 Maege couldn't believe how nervous she was; after all she had already told her brother, but now as she waited for them in a bench near the Night's Watch bar, she could feel her legs trembling and the sweat on the back of her neck, while she was biting her nails off.

Jon had called the bar fifteen minutes ago at his last stop before arriving, this time for gas – he still didn't own a cellphone, saying he didn't need one. Galbart was coming with him, but the Stark brothers would take a bit longer, having to pick up both Robert and Ned's first girlfriend. She was dying to meet her, and at least Maege wouldn't be the only girl, as she had thought after Lyanna told her she wasn’t coming.

She was trying to figure out what she was going to say. Every word sounded wrong; she couldn’t imagine how she would tell them. And she was so distracted that she didn’t hear Jon and Galbart coming in.

“Hey!! There you are!!” Jon exclaimed, coming up to her and picking her up, without showing any discomfort. He had never had trouble picking her up, that was one of the things she liked the most when they were in high school and dating – she was never too tall or too big for him, she would always be smaller than him even if just by a nudge.

“Hi, Jon!!” she said, giving him a sloppy kiss on his cheek, before pulling away to hug Galbart as well. “Galbart!!”

“Hi, Maege!! I missed you.”

“You!! We’ve missed you, Galbart. Always with your books. You haven’t gone out a single night with me and Jon,” Maege told him. “And you know perfectly well that Jon can be impossible to handle by myself.”

“You never had a problem handling me before,” Jon said, with his mischievous smirk.

“Shut up!!” Maege said, slapping his chest with the back of her hand.

“So have any of you met Ned’s girlfriend?” Galbart asked, interrupting the moment. He had always been great at that. While she and Jon had broken up in good graces, and both knew that getting together wasn’t a good idea, they got nostalgic sometimes, and Galbart had always been good at mediating. Maege thanked him with a smile, before answering.

“No, I haven’t. I still can’t believe baby Ned is dating.”

“Lyanna is younger, and she’s been dating Robert for I don’t know how long,” Jon argued.

“Yeah… but Ned is Ned… Fuck, you know him… and you know Lya.”

“Still don’t get why she isn’t coming?”

“Because she has a new beau, Jon. And she wants to spend New Year’s Eve with him. And after all Robert is still coming.”

“Have you met him? I don’t like him, is the Mayor’s son… can’t be good news.” Jon argued.

“Yeah – let’s not lie,” Maege said, laughing. “You don’t like him, because he’s not a northerner. You wanted Lyanna to dump Robert for that same reason.”

“Hey… I like Robert, he’s fun and he can drink like a northerner. The Targaryen is a bag of bones.”

“Shut up,” she said, pushing him into the house, with Galbart following with the bags. “Jeor has met him; he said he’s nice and polite.”

“Lyanna doesn’t like nice and polite,” Jon said, and Galbart agreed. “And what did he want from her? This is not a place for pretty boys.”

“He’s Aemon’s – the old man who lives upstairs – great-grandnephew or something like that. He came over to pick him up on Thanksgiving.”

“Maybe nice would be good for her,” Galbart thought out loud.

“Grover, don’t go soft. Southern people don’t belong here.”

“Hey!! I want you to behave in front of Ned’s girlfriend. This is his first, she matters to him. None of that South Sucks talk!!”

“Okay… just because he’s Ned. Unless the girl isn’t good enough for him, if that’s the case – south doesn’t belong here.” Ohhh… if she isn’t good enough for little Ned, I will be the first one to kick her out, she thought but not daring to say it out loud in Jon’s earshot.

She finally opened the door to Jeor’s apartment’s door. Jorah looked up from his drawing, while Jeor got up, coming to shake Jon and Galbart’s hand. “How you’ve been doing, boys? How’s college and everything?”

“Great,” Galbart answered. “Thank you for letting us crash here for one more year.”

“Just pay for your drinks, boys. Since you can finally legally do it,” he said, clapping them on the back. “You can drop your bags on the corner as usual. I haven’t pulled the couch out, or brought the mattresses to the living room, but we’ll do that before I need to go down and open the bar.”

“Thanks, Jeor,” Jon said.

“No problem. Make yourselves at home,” he said, before going back to his son.

The three of them sat at the counter. Each of them shared stories of another year at college. Maege hadn’t seen them in so long, especially Galbart – the last time was when they met in White Harbour with Ned (at least before the Starks’ Christmas party, last week, but that was filled with adults – real adults – so that didn’t count). But soon they were interrupted by a knock downstairs. Jon was the first up, and downstairs. Maege and Galbart followed him.

Outside, there it was, the Starks’ car, only Brandon was already by the door, hugging Jon, but Maege was trying to see who else was there. She couldn’t see her, but she noticed the red hair, and the obviously female hand on Ned’s arm .

“Hurry up, Ned. We want to meet your girl,” Jon yelled, and Ned stepped aside. The girl’s cheeks were absolutely red as she took Ned’s hand and moved closer to them.

“Okay, so everyone… this is Catelyn, my girlfriend,” Ned said, with a smile that he rarely showed. “This is Jon, Galbart and Maege.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Catelyn said. Her voice was so sweet; she had nothing of the hardness of the North. Maege noticed that neither of the boys was making a move to answer her, so she took the lead.

“Likewise, Catelyn. Welcome to Night’s Watch, I hope you have fun tonight.”

“Thank you, I hope so too.”

“And if any of the boys gives you any trouble, come to me.”

“Thank you for the offer.”

“No problem,” Maege said, smiling at the girl. “Come on, I’ll introduce you. So the big, tall one is Jon – if you call him Greatjon, he’ll love you. The nicer one is Galbart.” The girl smiled at her. “Come on, boys, say something.”

“Welcome to the party, Catelyn.”

“Thank you, Galbart.”

“From which part of the bloody South are you?”

“Hey!! Don’t insult the South!!” Robert exclaimed, throwing his arms around Catelyn.

“Ohhh… Ned!! Bringing Southerns all the time!!” Jon exclaimed.

“I’m from Riverrun, Greatjon. Born and raised, with as much pride as you have for your North.”

“She’s got spice, Ned. I like it!!” Jon said, clapping Catelyn’s back. “Come on, I’ll lead you to the house.” Maege watched as Jon lead Catelyn inside, and she moved to Ned.

“Hi, Ned. She looks great.”

“Thanks, I really like her,” he admitted, carrying her bags upstairs.

“She seems to really like you too,” Maege told him, and he took a deep breath. When they got to her brother’s apartment, Catelyn was already talking to her brother, and holding Maege’s nephew in her arms. “She looks great with kids,” Maege whispered, and Brandon immediately added:

“You better be careful.”

Soon after, her brother noticed them, and came closer to welcome Ned and Robert. Maege moved closer to Catelyn. Jorah was still with her, so she ruffled her nephew’s hair.

“Catelyn, I can show you to the room you’ll be sleeping in tonight.”

“It’s my room,” Jorah protested.

“Jorah… your dad talked to you,” Maege said, but the boy was still pouting. So Catelyn kneeled so she was at the same height as Jorah and said:

“Wow… You’re a real gentleman, for giving your room to two girls. Thank you very much.”

With that Jorah smiled, and when Catelyn added, “On the way to becoming a true knight,” the kid kissed Catelyn’s hand and then Maege’s.

“You’re really talented with kids,” Maege said enviously. Now she wished she could keep Catelyn with her.

“I have a younger brother,” she said, as it was enough to explain her skills. “Let me just get my bag from Ned.”

Catelyn ran over to her boyfriend, who immediately gave the bag to her. “Ready. I brought a dress to change into, I wasn’t sure what to wear, and Ned wasn’t any help in the department.”

“What you’re wearing now seems fine,” Maege said, looking at Catelyn’s jeans and wool turtleneck sweater.

“Thanks,” and with that Catelyn blushed again.

“I hope you don’t mind sharing,” Maege said opening the door to her nephew’s room. “Lyanna and I usually share the bed. But if you want we can steal one of the boys’ mattresses – they can sleep on the floor for one night.”

“No, I think this is okay,” Catelyn said looking around and putting her bag on the bed.

“Also I’m sorry you and Ned can’t… you know… But if you want, we can work something out.”

“No, no, noo. You don’t need to.” Now Catelyn’s face was redder than Maege ever thought possible.

“Really, it’s not problem. Robert and Lyanna always did it.”

“No, Ned and I are not. We haven’t… we’re not… that…”

“Ohh… sorry… I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”

“It’s okay,” she whispered.

“Do you want to go back out?” Maege asked.

“I think my face is still too red,” she said sitting on the bed. “I’ll wait a bit. But if you want you can go on.”

“No need, I’ll wait with you. After all your face is my fault,” Maege said, sitting next to her. “So is this your first time at the Wall?”

“Yes, Ned had planned to bring me here earlier, but school got a bit crazy, and he didn’t have that much time during the holidays.”

“I’m sorry, but I think you can’t go to the top today, or tomorrow.”

“Yeah, Ned said the same. We’ll come here some other day,” she stated, before an unwanted silence.

“Your face isn’t red anymore.”

“Ahhh… okay. That’s good,” Catelyn said, getting up from the bed. “Ohhh… Maege, wait… Are the parties too crazy?”

“Sometimes a bit. I’m not in the mood for that tonight, so you can stand with me. And Ned doesn’t get into that either, so you’ll have company. And if you want to come up, the key is in the kitchen, I’ll show it to you – but talk to Brandon first. He normally brings girls upstairs, it’s better than the alley.”

“Okay, thanks for letting me know.”

“Now, come on.” They left the room. Brandon was the first one to speak.

“You must have been scaring her away from Ned.”

“Just girl talk, Brandon. Nothing of your business,” she said. “So, how’s your sister?”

“She’s fine, she’s hap---”

“I’m going out for a smoke,” Robert said, getting upfrom the couch, and Maege’s stare followed him out of the house.

“As I was saying, Lyanna is okay, she’s happy, but I think she’s a bit confused,” Brandon said.

“She would like you to stop by, for sure,” Ned said. “She was sad she couldn’t come, I know she wanted to…”

“But she also wanted to be with Rhaegar. And he had a business commitment, so she went with him,” Catelyn said.

“Tell her I’ll stop by on the second day of January. I need to talk to her,” she said, before taking a deep breath, meeting eyes with her brother and finally taking the plunge. “And I need to talk to you as well – it’s important.”

“Son, why don’t you go to your room?” her brother suggested (without suggesting) to his son.

“But Dad… I’m painting.”

“Why don’t you show me your toys, Jorah? I saw a lot of cool stuff in your room.” Maege felt she should protest Catelyn’s request, after all she liked the girl and didn’t mind if she listened to what she had to say.

“Catelyn…”

“Come on, Jorah,” Catelyn said again, after giving Maege a reassuring smile, and leading him to his room.

So now Maege was left alone with the room with the four boys, and her brother was now standing near her for support.

“You should sit down, guys,” Jeor said. Galbart and Ned did as she said, but Jon was the first one to speak.

“What’s wrong?! Are you sick, Maege?” he said, coming closer and looking into her eyes. “Just tell us, we can fucking take it.”

“Yeah,” Brandon said, and the other two boys nodded behind.

“It’s not that. I’m healthy. Just sit, like I told you to.” And they did. The couch was full, so Jeor pulled up a chair for her, and stood behind her. “So something happened at school, and I found out just a few weeks ago. I told Jeor at Christmas, and now it’s time to tell you.”

“Just tell us,” Galbart said impatiently.

“Okay. Hold your horses, please. I just want to make sure neither of you starts yelling, I don’t want to explain this to Jorah yet. So you’ve got to promise.”

“We do,” Brandon said, and the others nodded – even with that she was sure that some of them wouldn’t oblige by it.

“I’m pregnant.”

“WHAT?! WHO THE FUCK DID THIS TO YOU?!” Jon yelled immediately – I knew it, she thought.

“Jon, please don’t yell. You promised.”

“Sorry. But who’s the fucking father?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“That means the asshole is not planning on supporting you.”

“For God’s sake, Jon, you’ve always known I’m an independent woman. I’m not going to start needing a man just because I’m pregnant.”

“Are you keeping it?” Brandon asked, before Jon could say anything else. And Maege immediately rested her hand on her belly protectively.

“I am. I was hoping you would support me. Not because I need it,” she said, giving Jon a look. “Because I wanted it. Because you’re my family.”

“Congratulations, Maege,” Galbart said standing up, and she immediately pulled him in for a hug.

“Thank you, darling.”

“Yes, congratulations, Maege,” Ned said, and she moved from Galbart to him.

“Thanks, sweetie,” she whispered to him. “And you, Brandon, Jon, do you have anything to say?”

“Yes, of course, congratulations!” Brandon exclaimed. “Sorry for the question, you know.”

“No problem. A valid question, Bran. Thanks,” she told him, still waiting for Jon. “Jon… are you going to say anything?”

“Can I teach the little rugrat how to play ball?

“I can teach him or her to play, but you can help,” she said, before Jon picked her up and spun her.

“I’m sorry…” he whispered.

“Just don’t be an asshole, next time.”

“Next time?!” he asked, pulling away.

“Okay, Maege, I need to go start getting things ready,” her brother interrupted.

“We'll go help,” Maege said, still with Jon's arm around her. “I just need to get Catelyn.”

“I'll do that,” Ned offered.

“Thanks,” she said, and they followed her brother downstairs. Jon was right on her steps and she heard him whisper I'm sorry in her ear, and she squeezed his hand, more tightly than needed as an answer.

“So what do you need us to do?” Galbart asked, rubbing his hands together, ready for work.

“I have some decorations, so Maege, you could do that.”

“Catelyn can help with that,” Brandon suggested.

“I don't want to make anyone work.”

“She won't mind. And after all she's in the committee that organizes stuff at school so she'll be good at that. So now what do you need the men to do?”

“Move a few chairs – I need to bring some from storage.”

“Okay, I'll get Robert, he’s the strongest of us,” Brandon said, and Jon cleared his throat. “Of course, I wasn't including you – you're Greatjon after all.”

“I'll go get Robert,” Maege offered. She walked through the door and found him against the wall, with a cigarette in hand.

“Is that your second?” she asked, giving the butts on the floor a look.

“Yeah... wasn't sure if you were done talking or not.”

“We were. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked.”

“You should. She's your friend, you're probably the only girl she got along with. Before Catelyn, and Brienne – you would like Brienne, she did what you couldn't, she joined the football team and she's great at it.”

“Now you know girls can play as well as you!”

“Hey! I voted YES when you wanted to join, but I was nothing but a freshman.”

“Thanks for the vote.”

“No problem. Thanks for letting me come.”

“You’re always welcome.”

“But that was when Lyanna and I were an item. You should just all take her side.”

“This is not a war. And don't ask me what would have happened if she wanted to come too – I'm not sure.”

“There are some nice bars in the capital.”

“Nobody should spend New Years alone. And don't let Greatjon hear you say that,” she said, finally getting a smile out of him.

“God, please no. I can't survive another talk about how much better the North is.”

“Sorry, about that. But he does that because he cares for you. And you he still cares for me, and I for him,” she admitted. “Maybe you and Lyanna can have something like that someday.”

“You two broke up on amicable terms, we didn't. She's dating him.”

“And you screw around; don't even pretend you don't. You just have to give it time. Maybe, it won't be as easy as Jon and I, but it's possible, because you both still care.” He didn't answer, but she knew he was thinking about it. “Let's go inside – they need your help moving some tables and chairs around.”

Robert followed her inside, and they entered at the same moment Jorah ran in, yelling.

“Cat is really cool. She actually played with me. She helped me build the Wall, and drew the Oldtown lighthouse for me. So I can do it later.”

“I may be able to help you tomorrow.” They heard Catelyn’s voice, coming from upstairs, and immediately she heard Brandon whistling – only then did he notice her walking down the stairs. She had changed into a dress, and was holding onto Ned’s arm. She had put her hair up.

“What a fox…” she heard Brandon say, and Catelyn’s face turned scarlet.

“You look hot, Cat,” was Robert’s comment. But the girl ignored him; you could say she hadn’t even heard them if she wasn’t blushing so much.

With that Maege left to get the decorations, and soon Catelyn joined her.

“Hey, your brother told me to help you,” Catelyn offered, and they both got to work on decorating her brother’s bar. Maege made small talk with her, and learned more about her – she liked the girl, she seemed fun and smart, and perfect for Ned.

It didn’t take that long for the bar to be ready. Her brother opened it up at 6 o’clock, and people started coming in around 8 o’clock. Two hours later she was helping her brother behind the counter. Robert was completely plastered already, Brandon was on his way, and Greatjon would be just as plastered as Robert if he couldn’t hold his liquor as well as he did. Ned had sat at the counter all night; he was on his second beer, which he had been sharing with Catelyn. She had spent a big part of the night with Ned, talking and laughing, but she accepted a few invites from the few people they knew to dance.

Once again, another guy came to invite Catelyn to dance, but before she could say something, Maege intervened.

“Mance, Mance, is that you?” If it was Mance, he looked different, older and more wild, but still beardless.

“Maege!!” he yelled, and then looked at Ned, behind Catelyn. “And little Ned!!”

“Hello, Mance,” Ned said, standing up and resting his arm around Catelyn’s waist – more protective than most times. “And just Ned, please.”

“Of course. How old are you now?” he asked, before asking another thing. “She’s your girlfriend, right?! That doesn’t seem like Lyanna to me.”

“Yes, I’m Catelyn.”

“Mance, here, went to school with this lot.”

“Before migrating over the Wall,” Jon said appearing behind them and clapping him on the back, followed by Brandon and Galbart.

“You would like it I’m sure,” Mance said, pulling Jon for a hug.

“Mance Rayder!! You told me it was just one dance. I’ve been left alone for awhile, Mance Rayder.”

“Sorry, Dalla. Come and meet my friends.”

“Mance Rayder’s friends, pleasure to meet you,” said a woman with long blond hair.

“This is my wife,” Wife?! He’s no older than us, Maege thought. “They all went to school with me, all but the redhead. Galbart, Maege and Greatjon were in my year,” she stopped him, by pulling on his sleeve, and then he whispered something in her ear; it seemed like their last names. “The Stark brothers – Brandon, the oldest, and then little Ned… sorry… just Ned, now. And the lady is…”

“Catelyn Tully.”

“Tullys from the South,” Mance concluded.

“Yes. Riverrun.”

“A pleasure to meet you. I’m Dalla, just Dalla, I’ve lived beyond the Wall all my life,” she said with a strong accent that made it harder to understand what she was saying. Now it was noticeable that Mance had a few traces of it in his speech too. “And now, Mance Rayder has joined me.”

“How long have you been living there now, Mance?” Galbart asked.

“Full time – two years. But on and off for four years. Haven’t been South of the Wall for very long. It was hard to convince Dalla to come here for New Years.”

“Mance Rayder, I’ve told you, we’re not entering the New Year here. We’re going back before midnight; your fancy watch must be worth something.”

“Of course, my dear…”

“It will be disrespectful to the Gods if we stay.”

“More like disrespectful to your clan.”

“Mance Rayder, give it time,” Dalla said, smiling at her husband.

“Why are you calling him by his full name?” Jon asked the question that had been in Maege’s mind.

“Why don’t you tell them, Mance Rayder?” she said with a hearty laugh.

“It’s a reminder that I’m not from North of the Wall – everyone calls me by my last name. It’s good to be just Mance, for awhile.”

“Hey!” Dalla said, slapping him across the head, and he immediately turned to her and kissed her deeply on the lips, enough to turn Catelyn’s face scarlet once again.

Maege was immediately called by another costumer, and went back to work serving the drinks, only seeing Mance again, when he came to say goodbye to her.

“It was good to see you, Maege.”

“Likewise. If you can come North, give me a call, I’ll pass it on.”

“We don’t have phones up there. But I’ll visit your brother or something.”

“Hope to see you soon, Mance.”

“You too,” he said, catching Dalla’s hand and walking out of the bar. Maege checked the clock over the shelf, and it still read 10:52 pm.

She kept serving drinks, ignoring the few boys and men that tried to flirt with her; her brother had to break up three fights, expelling five guys and two girls before midnight.

“It’s five minutes to midnight,” her brother announced, turning on the TV. “I don’t care if you think the world is ending tomorrow, no crazy shit in my bar.”

“Does anyone really believe the world is ending?” Maege commented to Ned and Catelyn.

“I hope not. If my father did he wouldn’t have let me spend the New Year with you,” Catelyn answered.

“I know a few people in Winterfell that were scared of the end,” Ned added.

“And some girl at school was throwing an End of the World party.”

“What’s an End of the World party?”

“It’s a party where you drink whatever you want, fuck whoever wants to fuck and smoke, sniff or shoot whichever drug you get your hands on,” Brandon answered. “And you should know I chose to spend New Year with you losers, instead of that party, where I could actually have an orgy and make the eight.”

“Maege, I’m kissing you at midnight!!” Jon yelled seconds after. “And Galbart is kissing you after – he couldn’t get any other girl to kiss him.”

“You don’t need to…” Galbart said.

“Friends are worth something. Brandon? Robert?”

“I got a girl,” they both said at the same time.

“Let’s hope it’s not the same one.”

“It’s not.”

“10!!” someone called. Maege started moving around the counter, and her brother did the same with Jorah on his shoulders.

“9!!” Everyone was smiling and yelling now.

“8!!” Maege tried to get through the crowd, to reach her friends.

“7!!” Ned was standing up, hugging Robert and then Brandon, before they both disappeared searching for the girls they had promised to kiss.

“6!!” Ned already had one arm over Catelyn’s shoulder, and Jon was stepping closer to Maege.

And the next five seconds went in a flash; she could only hear the numbers being counted down and see her nephew’s smile.

“5!!”

“4!!”

“3!!”

“2!!”

“1!!”

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!!”

Jon picked her up and kissed her on the lips, trying to search for a little tongue, before she kicked him in the leg, and he put her down. She turned to Galbart and they shared a quick peck on the lips. Her brother and nephew immediately came up to her and Jorah kissed her all over her face.

“Happy New Year, sister.”

“Happy New Year, brother. Happy New Year, Jorah,” she said picking up her nephew, and reminding herself to make her most important New Year resolution and wish – to be a good mother and for everything to be okay with the baby.

“Happy New Year, aunt Maege.”

“So now it’s time to say goodbye, because I need to get you to bed.”

“I can put him to bed. I’m thinking about heading up already, if you don’t need me. I’m tired and I know I’ll be up early tomorrow,” Maege offered.

“Galbart and I can help your brother,” Jon offered. “Sleep well, Maege,” he said kissing her cheek. “Happy New Year, darling.”

She said goodbye to her brother and Galbart as well, before moving on to Catelyn and Ned, who had finally pulled away from each other. And Brandon was coming over with his cellphone.

“Maege, come here. It’s Lya, she will want to talk to you too,” Brandon said, putting the phone on speaker.

“Happy New Year!!” Lyanna yelled, and they replied with the same wishes. “I miss you, guys. This party blows.”

“Where’s Rhaegar?”

“Don’t know I left him to make the call. But he’s been talking business all night.”

“Sorry, sweetie,” Catelyn said.

“Are you enjoying yourselves at least?”

“Very much,” Brandon answered. “And you kind of called me in a bad time – I was about to get it on with a girl.”

“Okay, I’ll let you go. Either way, Rhaegar is calling for me. Bye…” Lyanna hung up and Brandon ran off to meet the girl he was kissing awhile ago who was already being approached by another guy.

“I’m going to sleep, guys. I need to get Jorah to bed. You two have fun. And Catelyn, if you need anything from the room, you can wake me up.”

“Thank you, Maege. And goodnight and happy New Year.”

“To you too.”

“Sleep well, Maege,” Ned said. Maege left them and went to get her nephew from her brother.

“Okay, if he becomes too grumpy about brushing his teeth, just ignore it and put him to bed – one day without brushing his teeth won’t kill him,” Jeor said, giving her sleeping Jorah. She left the bar and walked upstairs to the apartment, shifting him to her other hip so she could get the key. She made to the bathroom.

“Kiddo,” she said trying to open his eyes. “Do you think you can brush your teeth? No,” she said and he shook his head. “And peeing, do you need to pee?”

“No, papa made me go.”

“Okay,” she said moving him to Jeor’s room; Jorah’s pyjamas were already there and with a bit of work she changed him and put him under the blankets. “Sleep well, Jorah,” she said turning off the light. She couldn’t help but picturing herself doing this with her own kid.

She quickly changed into her own pyjamas and brushed her teeth, before going to bed, making sure she left enough space for when Catelyn came to bed.

The next morning she woke up with that disgusting feeling in her throat. She held a hand to her mouth and tried to make it to the bathroom, the fastest she could without kicking, tripping or waking up any of the boys. When she finally got into the bathroom, she immediately kneeled in front of the toilet and spilled the contents of her stomach into the bowl.

At the same time she tried to hold her hair up. She failed as always, but then she felt something else: a hand holding her hair, and rubbing her back. She felt long hair on her back, so she knew it could only be Catelyn.

“Sorry I woke you,” Maege said, when she finally stopped throwing up.

“No problem. Do you think you’re ready to stand?”

“No, I’m sure I’m not done.”

“Okay,” Catelyn said adopting a more comfortable position.

“You don’t need to stay,” Maege protested, but Catelyn just ignored her. They stayed like that, and Catelyn held her hair back again when the urge to puke came back.

“I think I can go now,” Maege said when she finally felt better. “You don’t mind if I go lie down again, right…”

“No problem.”

“You can sleep a bit more too if you want.”

“I can’t, I’m already up. Thinking about doing something for breakfast – do you think your brother would mind?”

“No, I don’t think so. Everyone is always ready to eat in this house. Good luck with that.”

“Do you want something to eat before going back to bed?”

“No thanks. I just going to drink a cup of water, normally after sleeping a bit more, I can actually eat some real food.”

So Maege left Catelyn alone, and went back to bed and to sleep. When she woke up again, Catelyn was already cooking and Maege couldn’t be more grateful that the smells weren’t causing her nausea. Jorah was sitting on the counter and they were both talking, while Ned took something from the fridge and said:

“The moment I put the bacon on the frying pan, everyone will wake up. I tell you Brandon and Robert have a sensor for bacon.”

“Jon and Galbart too,” Maege said from the door.

“Ohh… you’re up. How are you feeling?” Catelyn asked, while Jorah jumped from the counter and went to hug his aunt.

“I’m better now.”

“Were you not feeling well?” Jorah asked with a worried face that resembled his father’s.

“No, I’m fine,” she reassured him.

“Does the smell…” Catelyn started.

“No, smells don’t bother me, much. I don’t think I’ll be able to eat bacon, but I’ll be okay with some pancakes.”

“Why can’t you eat bacon?” Jorah asked.

“Nothing important, sweetie. Why don’t you go get your father?!” And he ran off to his father’s bedroom while Ned put the bacon on the pan. It took very little time for the smell to spread around the room.

“Is that bacon…” they heard Brandon say with his eyes still closed.

“Yes, brother,” Ned said, and before they knew it, Brandon was up, followed by the other boys, and then her family came out of the bedroom, and they could start the first real meal of 2000.


Mace Tyrell

 “Is the bump noticeable in this dress?” Alerie asked, looking at herself in the mirror.

“No, you’re still just a few weeks pregnant, it’s not showing yet.”

“But I’m already bigger than I was with Willas, or Garlan,” she said looking down to her belly.

“No, you’re not,” Mace lied. “You still look beautiful, my love. And do you think we can tell my mother and sisters?!”

“Your mother already knows, Mace.”

“What?! How does she know?” he asked surprised.

“How does your mother know anything? I don’t have any idea,” she said, coming up to him so he could close her necklace. “But she told me this morning that I could only have a small glass of champagne because of the baby. I thought you had told her for a second.”

“I didn’t…”

“I know, Mace. It’s your mother, I’ve stopped wondering by now,” she said, putting the final touches on her make-up. “Now we should go back downstairs, because I don’t want your mother scaring off the cook or the waitress for the party.”

“I’ll go get the kids.”

“Don’t bother Garlan – he’s taking a nap. He wants to be awake at midnight tonight.”

“Okay, but I’ll check on him. And tell Willas it’s time to get dressed. And yes, I’ve had put his clothes to the side.” Alerie said, before leaving the master bedroom.

Mace followed her out of the room, but turned to the right, instead of following her to the stairs. Garlan’s room was two doors down, and Mace found his four year-old son still sleeping. He kissed his son’s curls but he didn’t move, so he let him sleep.

Three doors down and on the opposite side of the hall was the room of his eight year-old son. Willas didn’t even notice him at the door.

“Hi, son,” Mace said, coming up closer to him.

“Hi, Dad. I’m almost done with the puzzle uncle Gormon gave me.”

“Wasn’t that 500 pieces?” Mace asked. He had been surprised when his uncle gave it to his son, saying it was too complicated for someone his age; his uncle only answered that he was doing it at that age, and that he had offered all his nephews when they were kids. But only Leo had liked them. Actually, Leo still loved puzzles.

“Yes, Dad. But it’s fun,” Willas said smiling.

“I’m glad you like it. But you need to get dressed and go to the hall – the family is already arriving.”

“Is grandmother here yet?” he asked excitedly, getting up from the floor.

“Yes, she is. So you must hurry. Your mother left your clothes on the bed. Come downstairs when you’re ready,” Mace said, already leaving the room.

“What about Garlan?”

“Let him sleep, he’s trying to make it to midnight this year,” and with that Willas nodded and got his clothes.

Mace left his kid’s room, and moved downstairs, he could already hear his mother shouting orders in the kitchen, and even if he didn’t want to, he made his way to that room of the house.

“That tie doesn’t go with your shirt,” his mother said, right after he entered the room, pulling something from her bag – another tie – and moving over to him.

“Good afternoon, Mother,” he said, and she took off the tie he had on, and tied the knot in the one she brought.

“The one I gave you for Christmas would be great, or even the one Mina bought – I did help her after all.”

“Willas and Garlan gave me this one for Father’s Day.”

“And I’m sure there are other opportunities to wear it. Now do as I say, Mace, I need to go back to the cooks. You go say hi to your sisters.”

So with that he left his mother alone, to look for Janna and Mina. They were both younger than him, still in high school, studying in a private academy in Highgarden. Mother hadn’t wanted them as far as King’s Landing, even if that school was the best in the state. Alerie had gone there and she had nothing but good memories; sometimes Mace was pretty jealous of the stories she had – the environment seemed better in her old school.

Janna and Mina were both standing together, welcoming uncles and cousins alike into Mace’s house; when they saw him, they waved.

“Hi!!” he said, waving back.

“Mace!!” Mina exclaimed happily, running to his side, before she remembered she was a teenager and it probably wasn't proper. Janna walked behind her, very composed, and very tall. He realized why she was so tall: looking at her feet, he noticed high heels he had never seen her wear before.

“Hello, Mace,” she said.

“Hi, Janna, Mina. You both look beautiful.”

“Thanks, brother,” Janna, the older of the two, spoke again, but this time he could tell that she wanted something.

“What's going on?”

“What, brother? Nothing is going on,” Mina said, with an angelic voice that told him she was lying.

“Tell me,” he insisted.

“Is it true Jaime Lannister and Rhaegar Targaryen are coming?” Janna asked.

“Yes, it is. We have to talk business, at least with Rhaegar – that’s what his father promised when he refused our invite. Jaime is still a kid.”

“And they're single, right?” Mina asked. “I heard Rhaegar broke up with the Martell girl – not that she would come either way.”

“He's bringing someone else,” said Mace.

“Who?”

“A Stark, I think...”

“Think?!” Janna exclaimed. “This is important. I'm going to ask Mother – she has to know.” With that Janna disappeared into the kitchen, while Mina continued with that look which made him know she had something planned.

“Jaime is still single, right?”

“He's not bringing anyone. Besides isn't the younger brother closer to your age?”

“I'm thirteen!! I can't date a 10 year-old, besides he's not pretty like Jaime.”

“Of course not, Mina,” Mace said before kissing her on the head and moving to greet other family members.

The first one to notice him was his cousin Luthor. He was the one closest to Mace’s age and had a girl holding onto his left arm.

“Mace, it’s great to see you,” Luthor said.

“Likewise. I was sad not to see you at Christmas.”

“Sorry, that’s my fault. We spent it with my family,” the girl said.

“Mace, this is Elyn Norridge,” Luthor said.

“Soon to be Tyrell,” she said showing off her hand, and her beautiful ring.

“We’re telling your mother tonight.”

“I still don’t get why are you more scared to tell his mother, than you were about telling your father and brother.”

“That’s because you’ve never met Olenna,” Luthor said, and Mace couldn’t help but agree.

“Yeah… good luck with that.”

“Thanks. I need to go look for my little brother. I promised my father I would keep an eye on Leo,” and with that they said goodbye and went their different paths.

Mace noticed his uncle Garth on the other side of the room, with his two sons, and Mace decided to go over to him, when he was stopped by someone calling him.

“Dad, I need you to help me with my tie.”

“Sure, kid,” he said, squatting to be the same height as Willas. “All done, son,” he said, but it did look a bit crooked – he could never tie a proper knot.

“Here are my boys,” Alerie said, coming to him with Garlan in her arms, who was still half asleep. “I’m going to try to find your sisters to look after him.”

“Yes, do that. Keep them busy.”

“Why?” she asked smiling.

“Some crazy plan about Rhaegar and Jaime.”

“They are both very handsome boys,” she told him, before kissing his cheek and disappearing with both his sons.

“Son, come on – we have business to discuss,” his mother appeared behind him, and almost pulled him along with her. “So you’re meeting with Rhaegar – he shouldn’t have much to say. Business shouldn’t be done with people who still use diapers. I’ll try to get that deal with Tywin.”

“Maybe I could help.”

“I can handle it. Just try to give Rhaegar the impression that we still need them, and that we’re listening.”

“Mother, but I could help with Tywin. It’s my job, I’m at the company five days a week.”

“And I’ve been there since before you were born. Do what I ask you, Mace,” his mother insisted, before she moved away to deal with something else.

Mace, Alerie, his sisters and cousins were in charge of receiving every guest; so Mace and his family did the rounds with their usual business partners, the people that had been working for the Tyrells for years. Mace immediately went to talk with Randyll Tarly, who was still in college but was already causing quite an impression in the Reach, Mace wanted to make sure he would be on his good side – Randyll had the reputation of being quite ruthless.

“You know you could come work with us after you finish college,” Mace suggested.

“I’m starting my own business. But we can still deal together, if it will be beneficial for both of us,” Randyll said. “I promised to speak with some other people. See you soon, Tyrell.”

And with that Mace was alone again; he looked around trying to see anyone worth striking up a conversation with. He noticed Mina talking with the Florent girl in one side of the room – he was glad she was making friends, and maybe they would be able to strike a deal with the Florents, if Mina became friends with the girl (he had heard rumours that she didn’t have many friends). But what worried him was what he saw his other sister doing on the other side of the room. She was flirting with the Hightower boy, and he seemed to be flirting back (unlike when she had tried with the Lannister twin) – he was ready to intervene, to stop them, when he felt a hand on his arm.

“Let her have fun, Mace. They’re just talking,”

“They’re flirting,” he insisted.

“So what?? Jana just wants a midnight kiss. Now go on, Rhaegar is not talking to anyone – it’s your chance.” Alerie said, letting him go with a kiss on the cheek.

“Welcome to the party, Rhaegar,” Mace greeted when he approached Rhaegar and the girl with him.

“It's great to see you again. The house looks great,” Rhaegar complimented him.

“Thank you. But you should compliment my wife, not me.”

“I'll be sure to tell her the same,” Rhaegar said, politely. “And this is my girlfriend, Lyanna Stark – Rickard Stark's only daughter, I'm sure you've heard of him.”

Of course, Mace knew who Rickard Stark was – the Starks were one of the oldest families in Westeros, and there was power associated with that.

“Welcome to the party,” Mace said.

“Yeah... thanks. Nice to meet you,” the Stark girl told him, not sounding very convinced.

“Sorry, is something wrong?” he asked.

“Nah... everything is great.”

“I'm glad to hear it,” he answered, even if the girl still sounded fake. “So Rhaegar, I was hoping to have a chance to talk to you about a possible deal.”

“Yes, I was hoping the same,” he said, before turning to his girlfriend. “Lya, do you mind?” She shrugged her shoulders and asked:

“Can you tell me the way to the gardens?”

“Of course, just after that door.”

“Thanks,” she said as she started moving in that direction.

“I'll come find you after,” Rhaegar promised.

“Sure.”

“Is something wrong with her?” Mace couldn't help but ask when she was out of earshot.

“She never spent New Year's away from her brothers, I think she's just missing them.”

“They could have come, if they wanted.” He was sure Mother wouldn't mind; they could not have real business to talk with them, but they were still a very rich family.

“They already had plans, but some other time. I'm sure they would be pleased,” Rhaegar said.

“Do you want to drink anything before we start?”

“There's no need,” he said. And Mace started to look for a quiet place where they could speak. Since he knew his mother would want his office to meet with Tywin Lannister, Mace had to lead him to another room. He chose the media room – Rhaegar was still a teenager so maybe he would like to talk through some kind of game.

“Are you okay with playing a bit of pool as we talk?”

“I think that would be okay, but I haven't played in a long time. Eight-ball?”

“Yes.”

While they got the cue sticks and the balls to prepare the game, Mace asked after his father.

“I'm sad your father couldn't make it. I hope everything is well with him – there has been a nasty cold going around.”

“My father is fine. But my sister is still very young, and my parents didn't want to leave her with a babysitter, or spend New Year's apart from each other, so they both stayed home.”

“Ohhh... I understand. I wouldn't want to spend it apart from either my wife or my children.”

“Yes... I don't think I have met the youngest. I know your oldest is just a bit younger than my brother – William is his name, right?”

“Close, Willas.”

“Sorry...” Rhaegar apologized as he broke the game – since he was the guest.

“No problem. I can't remember your siblings' names either. I know the boy's name starts with V and it's a family name.”

“Viserys. And yes, a family name. My little sister is called Daenerys, a family name as well.”

“My youngest is Garlan,” Mace said taking his shot, and without being able to pocket any ball, it was Rhaegar's turn.

The game went on, even if it did take a while for the game to heat up, and with that, so did the conversation. Mace liked what Rhaegar was saying; he seemed more mature and inside the business than Mace first thought. During the second game, the conversation moved on to numbers; after all, if this went through the Targaryens would have to invest with their own money.

“I think we would like to meet with your father before signing the papers, to work out other stuff,” Mace said as he put a solid ball in one of the corners.

“I'm here to make the deal today. You agree right now, or the proposal is off the table.”

Mace didn't know what to think of this. He knew his mother would want to check out the deal herself. But looking at the boy in front of him who actually had his father's trust to make the choices in his name, and was around the same age as Janna, Mace made his decision.

“We'll sign tonight,” Mace said, shaking Rhaegar’s hand. He would make Mother proud and prove to her that he could strike a deal as good as this one. “After midnight, what do you think?”

“Do you still need to talk to your mother?”

“No, of course not. We can do it right now.”

“I'll sign in my father's name, but of course the official document will be signed by my father.”

Mace agreed and started writing the main agreements done during the meeting; Rhaegar read over it and added what he thought was necessary before they both signed.

“I'll have our lawyers draw up the real contract and we'll send it to your father's office, so he can sign.”

“Thank you. It was a pleasure doing business with you.”

“Likewise. And the game too,” Mace said as he started putting the game away.

“Me too. Also would you mind if I bring Lyanna here a bit later? I know she has a pool table at home – so it will probably make her happy”

“Sure. I just ask you to be careful. I really don't want the house destroyed.”

“I'll be careful and thanks. Happy New Year!!” Rhaegar said, leaving the room before Mace could return the same wishes.

After he cleaned up the room he left it and tried to look for his mother. He needed to tell her what he had done; this was a great deal. He knew the Lannisters were richer, but the Targaryens were stronger. Rhaegar had said that his father still had a lot of contacts from out of state, and even with some of his contacts in Washington, he could help to have that law passed that had been preventing them from moving with their business forward. And if his mother could still get the Lannisters, there would be even more money. He noticed his mother still talking to Tywin Lannister, leaving the office, and he decided to approach her – it was probably better to talk to her before she promised Tywin anything.

“Mother,” he called to her.

“Not now, Mace,” she said, barely looking at him. “Mr. Tywin and I are speaking.”

Mace wanted to say something else, but he had no power over this situation, so he just tried to look for something to do that it would make him look less ridiculous than he looked right now. The first thing he noticed was someone who seemed to be following his mother and Tywin. She was wearing a red dress and had blonde hair, and looked pretty suspicious.

“Sorry, do you need any help?”

“Yes, for you to leave me alone.”

“Why are you following…?” he started to ask, before he was interrupted.

“I’m a Lannister – I can do whatever I want,” she said, so she is Tywin’s daughter.

“Please, I just ask you to leave them alone.”

“Fuck you…” he heard her whisper, before disappearing to meet a guy as blond as her, probably her twin.

“So how did it go with Rhaegar?” he heard Alerie whisper, as she wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed his shoulder.

“Well, very well, indeed,” he said, turning to her. “We struck a deal…”

“Shouldn’t you talk with your mother first?”

“Alerie… I’m old enough to make decisions.”

“I know that, and I know you want the responsibility. But I’m not sure your mother will think the same.”

“It’s almost midnight,” he said, changing the issue. “Why don’t we get Willas and Garlan? Is he still awake?”

“He fell asleep for a bit, a while ago. But he seems to be wide awake now,” she told him. “Hey… do you think we can get them and just go to the garden – just the four of us.”

“Of course,” he said, and then whispered in her ear. “The five.” And she smiled and rested her hand on top of his, resting on her belly.

“I’ll go get Garlan from your sisters, while you look for Willas. I think he disappeared to his room, after Luthor gave him his present.”

“Ohhh… talking about Luthor. Has he talked…?”

“Talked to your mother? No, not yet. She’s been busy with Tywin Lannister all night,” she answered. “Elyn wants him to man up and just announce it after midnight.”

“He won’t do it,” Mace said with complete certainty.

“Yeahhh… he won’t. I was lucky that your mother already knew me. If she didn’t, we would have been in the same situation.” No, we wouldn’t, Mace wanted to say, but it was obviously a lie.

“Come on, it’s a quarter to midnight and I still need to find Willas. Meet you by the doors.”

“Okay,” she said, kissing his cheek.

Mace went upstairs immediately, making his way to Willas’ room, and knocked on the door.

“Willas, are you in there?”

“Come in, Dad,” he said, and Mace entered the room. Willas was sitting at his table, looking through a book. “Look at what uncle Luthor and aunt Elyn gave me. It’s about horses – do you know horses can’t vomit?”

“No. I did not know that,” he told his son, looking over his shoulder and seeing some horse pictures in the book. “Hey… it’s almost midnight, kid. Mom and Garlan are waiting for us downstairs.”

“Do we have to stay at the party?”

“No, we’re going outside to the garden.”

“To see the fireworks?”

“Just the four of us before the fireworks. We’ll get our own place, okay?”

“Okay.” he said smiling. “Can I take my book?”

“Sure. But Mom won’t let you read in the dark.”

“I know,” Willas told him, standing up and leaving the room, with Mace following.

“Hurry up, Mace,” his wife said. “It’s eight minutes to midnight. I still want to make it to the middle of the maze.”

Mace and the children followed his wife. The labyrinth had always been her favorite part of the garden, of the house, really… – she said she fell in love with the maze before she fell in love with him, and she knew it like the palm of her hand. They found a good bench in the middle of it. Willas sat on Mace’s left knee, Garlan sat on both his and Alerie’s knees, and she rested her head on Mace’s shoulder.

“How much time left now?” she asked.

“Under three minutes.”

They sat in silence for almost all that time, quietly listening to the sound of the wind and the plants and flowers swinging, until they could hear the sound of the countdown starting.

“It’s starting, Mom,” Garlan whispered; and Mace heard the boys starting to count down from 10… to 9… to 8… to 7… to 6… to 5… to 4… to 3… to 2… to 1…

“Happy New Year!!” Alerie exclaimed, pulling both Garlan and Willas in for a hug. “And happy New Year to you too, love…” she whispered, kissing his cheek.

“To you too. And to you too, boys,” he said, hugging them, before they all looked up and saw the fireworks light up the sky of Highgarden.

Chapter Text

Stannis Baratheon

 

Stannis was the middle child of the Baratheon family – a rather rich family, and for that reason he shouldn’t complain. He had food on his table everyday, the best education he could hope for, and even caring parents. But he was still the middle child; his older brother was known by everybody – in school he had never been treated as anything other than Robert Baratheon’s younger brother; and then there was Renly – he was still their parents’ baby – and with Robert’s problems, even Renly got overshadowed as well.

He thought he shouldn’t expect recognition for things you’re supposed to do, and that was how he always lived. But his brothers got recognition for cleaning their rooms, changing clothes or putting things in the dishwasher. Stannis did all the same things all the time, he went shopping if things were missing from the house, and he cleaned places that weren’t just his room – but nobody said anything.

So today he wasn’t in the mood to go home and hear his father congratulate Robert again on the school team making it to the finals, so after classes he dared himself to enter Flea Bottom, he tried to remember the way Davos had showed him. He was walking alone, like he had never done there before, so he couldn’t help but jump when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Didn’t mean to scare you, Stan.”

“I’ve told you to not call me Stan, Melisandre.”

“And I told you to call me Meli. Are you going to Davos’ job?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Okay, I’ll keep you company.”

Davos and Melisandre were the closest thing he ever had to friends, and they were quite a strange trio. Firstly Davos and Melisandre hated each other, and they spent most their time fighting; they were older than Stannis and from very different backgrounds. They weren’t just middle class, they were actually poor. Davos got into the school in a scholarship and as for Melisandre, he wasn’t sure, but he thought it was something to do with her religion paying for it or something.

“So you don’t wanna go home?” Don’t want to go home? he mentally corrected. “Are your parents still obsessed with the game?”

“Yes, they are still obsessed. It won’t go away until either they lose or win.”

“We loose or win. It’s your school too, Stannis,” she said, reminding him that yes, this year he couldn’t escape from going to see it. “We’re here. I’ll enter with you, if you buy me something to drink.”

“I can do that,” he said, holding the door for her. They took their seats at the counter, and waited for someone to serve them.

“Davos, your friends are here,” a girl said, waving at them and going into the kitchen.

“Hi, Stannis!! Melisandre,” he said only nodding at her. “What are you doing here?”

“I thought this would be a place as good as any to do my homework,” he answered. Just a few months ago he would think about doing his homework somewhere else besides his bedroom or the library.

“Sounds good to me. So what do you want?”

“A glass of milk,” Stannis asked. “You, Melisandre?”

“A strawberry juice. Thanks,” she answered. And Stannis started to rummage through his school bag, taking out his dossier, his math book and school case to look for his pencil, pen and eraser. “So what’s your homework?”

“Some math problems – nothing much. Don’t you have homework?”

“Not for tomorrow.”

“If you get them done now, you won’t have to worry later.”

“Sure, Stannis. Just do your homework,” she said, kissing him on the cheek, before disappearing to join some boys at another table.

“Here you have your milk, Stannis,” Davos said putting it in front of him. “Where did she go this time?” he asked, and Stannis pointed to a table in the back of the room, where she sat with four boys.

Stannis turned his eyes back to his work, while he could hear Davos walking around the room, taking orders and working behind the counter.

“You know if they are looking for extra help?” Stannis asked Davos as he prepared a sandwich in front of him.

“What do you mean? Like a job?”

“Yes.”

“I thought rich people didn’t work.”

“Both my parents have jobs.”

“I mean as kids – you have more things to worry about. Focus on school and everything.”

“I think it would be good to have my own money. And I like working, it would be good for me,” Stannis answered. A job meant responsibility, being able to take of himself and being independent.

“I can ask around. But I don’t think Flea Bottom would be the place for you. You’re still a Baratheon, Stannis – that name caries some legacy, that people here don’t like that much.”

“My family is not even from King’s Landing,” Stannis said truthfully. Very few of his ancestors had ever lived here, and none had left a big impact.

“All big houses have the same meaning here. You all want to screw us over, I’m sorry to say, but they won’t hire you knowing money is nothing to you.”

“It’s not nothing. My parents rebuilt our business together.”

“It’s not the same. They had the money to do it. And I know you, I know your parents don’t just buy you whatever you want because they have money – you do have a notion of money that I haven’t seen in most kids at our school, but you’re still one of them.”

“Can’t you talk to someone?”

“Sorry, I’m already being judged for going to our school. I could get fired for even asking. There must be jobs where you live, Stannis. Can’t you be an assistant at your parents’ office? Getting them coffee, taking copies and stuff,” Davos asked him, before he had to leave, being called by another client. “Wait a second.”

Stannis got to back to his work. He liked math – he liked that you were right or wrong, that every problem had a logical result. Stannis worked through an entire page of exercises, while Davos moved around him, preparing whatever the clients asked him for. He never once had the time to speak again.

“I’m going now. See you tomorrow in class,” Melisandre said, appearing next to him and catching him by surprise.

“Where are you going?”

“They invited me over to their house, so I’m going there. And then I have prayer in one hour.”

“Who are they?”

“A group of very nice boys. Now, see you tomorrow, Stan.

“Goodbye, Melisandre,” he answered as she left the coffee house. Stannis finished the last exercises he had to do, before taking a book from his bag. This time Stannis was reading a biography about Churchill. He preferred non-fiction, to fiction; he had read a lot of biographies, of all types of people and from very different places in the world.

His father was always asking him what he liked in those books, and telling him to put it down and pick up any fiction book, or better yet, his father’s favorite, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Stannis had always ignored him and kept his non-fiction books, and some of his mother’s historical romances. Not a lot, some of them were really awful. He hated when they changed things from reality (but his mother said that it was the best thing).

“Sorry, sir,” someone said, pulling Stannis away from the book. He looked up and noticed another one of the waiters.

“Yes?”

“Do you want to order something else?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he said before opening his book again, and continuing reading.

“You scared the girl, Stannis,” Davos said stopping next to him.

“What girl?”

“The one who asked if you wanted anything else. The manager told her to ask, you’ve been here for awhile.”

“Why didn’t she say that?”

Davos didn’t bother answering Stannis’ question, and left him again with his book. And he ordered another cup of milk from the same girl who had intercepted him before.

The book was good, he had only started it two days ago, and with the start of school, he hadn’t had much time to read. He was still reading about Churchill’s military service, still far away from his politics that marked the World War II. He read through three chapters before Davos stopped by again.

“My shift is over. Going to change, you’re leaving now too, right?!”

Stannis looked over at the clock above the door to the kitchen. It was getting late. So he nodded, and packed up his things, as he waited for Davos to pass by.

A few minutes later, Davos came back from the service bathroom, having changed from his apron to the same shirt he had wore to school that morning, and with his backpack over his shoulder.

“Have everything, Stannis?” Davos asked.

“Yes,” he answered, as he got up and they left the diner.

“Are you catching the bus home?”

“Yes. I’m going to my parents’ office actually.”

“Cool. So that’s the one of the Street of Flour, right?”

“Yes.”

“Thank Gods. That would work best for me. I need to pick up two of Marya’s sisters, before going home.”

“Are you going to work more tonight?”

“For school. I still need to do the last touches on that essay, the one my English teacher set for the holidays. It’s due by Friday, and working over time during the holidays, I didn’t have that much time.”

“I can take a look at it before you hand it in.”

“Really?! I’ll get you everything I have by tomorrow, just look over what you can – I need it back on Thursday, I have the afternoon off and I’ve talked the librarian into letting me use the computer then. The teacher is not letting me hand it in if it isn’t typed and on a diskette as well.”

“I’m sorry. But technology is taking over the world. When we enter the business world it will be what we most. They just want us to prepare for the best.”

“It’s not as easy when I don’t have a computer at home.”

“That’s why the library has them.”

“Right,” Davos answered, and Stannis sensed he hadn’t liked his answers very much, especially when Davos changed the subject.

So for the last few minutes, they didn’t talk about anything related to school, focusing on retelling some stories from their holidays; Davos was in the middle of telling something about his father’s visit to the Veteran Home, when they reached the bus station. Unfortunately he couldn’t finish his story, because Stannis boarded the bus in seconds after they got there.

Stannis took his book out of his bag, and continued his reading until the bus reached the Stormlands. Knowing he needed to pay attention to know where to get out, he put his book back in his bag. He almost fell asleep, but being able to keep his eyes open, he saw the bus stop just a few minutes away from the Baratheon Company.

The building wasn’t that big, at least he didn’t think so. The capital was full of much bigger buildings, but he really liked his parents’ office. While it was a successful company, his parents had tried to create a close environment.

“Good evening, Stannis,” the receptionist greeted him as he entered. “Are you going up?”

“No, I can wait here. Can you just let them know I’ve arrived?”

“Of course. Your mother or father?”

“Both. I’m not sure who’s supposed to take me home,” he told the lady, before sitting down, and taking his book out of his bag again.

“Darling,” he heard his mother’s voice a few pages later. “Your father is still caught up going after a few papers for our trip, but I can take you. But I need to stop at the supermarket, I’m too tired to cook right now. I’m thinking fried chicken for dinner.”

Robert would love that, he always loved when Mom brought them junk food. “Ohhh… nooo… I still need to run lines with Renly – I forgot that,” she said, putting her hand to her head.

“Is Renly auditioning again?” Stannis asked.

“Yes. The auditions are on Friday, if you want to come.”

“I have to study,” he said.

“But you’re coming to the game. It’s your brother’s big game – your school is in the finals.”

“Mom…”

“No complaints. It’s your duty as a brother – you go to Robert’s games and Renly’s plays.”

“Yes, after all you make me go even when Renly isn’t in the play.”

“You know your brother likes the backstage as well as the stage – he likes it better when he can do both,” Mom said. She had always supported her sons’ dreams, and she always ran lines with Renly, and celebrated with him when he got the parts he wanted. The times he didn’t, she comforted him. “I think he will get this one; it’s a good part, something to do with him.”

“What is it?” he asked.

“Ask him. You three should talk more,” she said, before leaving the car to run to the supermarket. He knew his mother was right, but he and his brothers were too different, and their parents had always been the bridge between them. That moment at Christmas was probably the longest time they had spent together for a long time.

“The food is ready. Let’s go home,” his mother said, entering the car. “Your father texted me; he’s left the office. Maybe he’ll even get there before we do.”

His mother started driving home. He couldn’t help but notice that she put her foot on the accelerator. His mother always liked doing this, and he just knew she was trying to get home before Dad did.

They were at the intersection before their house, she had stopped on the red lights, and they both noticed father in another line, and when the light turned green, his mother accelerated just enough to get home before father.

“I won,” she told Father, as he got out of the car.

“We weren’t racing, Cass.”

“Only saying that, because you came in last. And you know it, Steff. I saw you speeding.” His father made a face that clearly said she was right. “I decided to go with chicken for dinner.”

“Good for me. How are you, son?”

“Good, Dad.”

“Did you hand in your Italian homework?”

“I did.”

“Tomorrow is your French and chemistry work, right?”

“Yes, Dad.”

“Good. Now go shower. Check if your brothers have showered too. Mom will have the chicken and rice ready in just a few minutes,” he told him, as he got the tablecloth from the drawer.

Stannis went upstairs. The first room was Renly’s, so Stannis knocked and entered it.

“Stannis!! What are you doing?! I’m rehearsing.”

“Father sent me, he wants to know if you have showered.”

“I did. Is Mom home yet?”

“Yes, she’s making dinner. She said she would help you after dinner.”

“Okay. Now leave!!” Renly ordered him out, and Stannis wasn’t in the mood to argue. He knocked on Robert’s door. It was locked when he tried to open it, so he knocked again.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me – Stannis.”

“What do you want?”

“Mom is wondering if you’ve showered.”

“After practice,” Robert yelled. Stannis immediately left the room, and got his pyjamas and underwear from his room before going to the bathroom. He took a quick shower, and put on his pyjamas, dropped his pants in his room, and went downstairs. The table was already set, and the moment his mother saw him she told him to go get his brothers.

They ate as a family like they did every night. Robert stayed grumpy at one end of the table, while Renly babbled on about the play he was auditioning for, and insisting that Mother eat faster so they could have more time to run lines.

Stannis just talked with his dad about how his classes had been going, and the work he wanted to get started already, so he wouldn’t have to worry when he was busier. As always his father offered to help, even though Stannis knew it would be a bit impossible now, since his parents were pretty focused on their trip this weekend.

They were going very early on Saturday, after Robert’s game on Friday night. They were pretty excited about this trip, they were looking into some very interesting proposes in Essos. They would be gone for the entire week, and the three brothers would be left alone – with some support from their neighbours (Stannis was pretty sure Mom just asked them to be sure Robert didn’t decided to invite the entire school over).

After dinner, Stannis, Robert and their father cleared up the table, as they heard Renly and Mom from the kitchen; Stannis offered to put everything in the washing machine, as Robert went outside and threw the football around with Dad.


 

As Stannis had foreseen, his first week was completely full, with teachers wanting to get the students back on track, after the holidays. Luckily for Stannis, he was never one to forget everything during his time away from school.

It was Friday, and game day. Most teachers had dismissed them from class. Davos had tried to catch an extra shift at the coffee house, or find some time to spend with Marya; and Melisandre had disappeared to prepare her prayers for the game tonight. So Stannis decided he was best to stay in the library, working on some math exercises, and even reading a bit.

Everything was going perfectly. The library was in complete silence; he couldn’t even hear the few students on the computers. Then, someone entered and called for his name, and he couldn’t recognize the voice.

“Are you Stannis Baratheon? Robert’s brother?”

“Yes,” he answered. “And you are?”

“Ashara Dayne.” He was sure he had heard her name before, but he didn’t remember when. “I need your help.”

“Why should I help you? I don’t know you.”

“Okay. So I went to hand in my paper today, and my teacher looked at it, and told me to look over it again, and that I had until lunch break,” she said very quickly. “Elia – my roommate – normally goes over it, and helps me – I think my teacher knows and he noticed it was lacking her touch...”

“So why don’t you ask her?”

“I did. But she can’t leave the committee, they are preparing everything for tonight. And I’m already skipping my cheerleading practice to finish this.”

“Why are you asking me?”

“I tried doing it alone, but I couldn’t fix much. Because he told me to look again, and I told him Elia was busy, he told me you could help.”

“I’m a freshman, I’m pretty sure you’re not.”

“I’m a junior. But please… I can’t fuck up again… he has given me so many chances. Fuck… I’ll pay you – money – or if you prefer I’ll go on a date with you, or fix you up. Or I could even blow you – no sex is worth this paper – but I could go for a handjob or blowjob, or I don’t know…”

“Please stop,” he told the girl. He couldn’t believe she actually offered sex for a paper. “You know that what you just said is against the law?! I could even consider part of that solicitation for prostitution.”

“Fuck…” she whispered again. “Come on, just help me, Stannis. I haven’t got any other chance. My paper’s not that good, if the grammatical stuff is shit, I’m gonna flunk.”

“Who’s your teacher?”

“Selmy.”

“Who?” Did this girl actually call a teacher by the first name?

“Professor Barristan. Sorry.”

“And he knows that you’ve got this help.”

“Of course, he allows help. He just doesn’t want anything plagiarized.”

“Okay. What’s this paper about?”

“It’s a descriptive piece – we were supposed to choose something we felt confident in, that way would be easier to write about.”

“Okay, it seems easy enough. How many pages long is it?”

“Two pages of my handwriting, which is quite small… but legible, I promise.”

He took the sheet she gave him, and she was telling the truth – the letters were small, but would be much easier to read that Davos’ scribbles.

“So you’ll take it?”

“Yes, I think I can do it,” he said, putting aside his stuff and taking his pencil in his hand. Ashara sat next to him, biting her nails and pulling her knees up. He was about to reprimand her for putting her feet on the chair, when he actually got the theme of her project. Sex. Sex was the theme of the project, this girl had described things he had never wanted to read. While he didn’t personally care about this girl’s intimate life, and he believed she could do what she wanted, people shouldn’t write something like this, especially for school.

“Ohhh… please… don’t let the subject bother you,” she said, and Stannis felt disappointed for letting his face show emotion. And he did as she asked. He couldn’t be bothered by petty issues, so he ignored the meaning of her words, and tried to focus on the grammatical side of everything.

He had already read over a page, and had written notes on every two, three lines. There were a few sentences he couldn’t understand the meaning of, but he didn’t want to ask. He could hear her breathing louder than he was comfortable with, and he could feel her eyes on him, and her feet stomping the floor.

“Could you please stop? I can’t concentrate with you making so much noise.”

“Sorry… How is it going?”

He didn’t answer her; he couldn’t help but think that some of these mistakes were not the ones a junior should make.

“Where did you go to school?”

“What?”

“Your school before coming here?”

“What does it matter?” she asked back, getting a bit defensive. So Stannis ignored her, and finished the paper. He read over it one more time before giving it back.

“So here you have it. There are notes in it, read over and fix what you think you should. I would also advise you to rewrite this on a new page.”

“Thanks, Stannis,” she said happily, standing up. “I own you one,” she said leaving his table, but she came back only a few seconds after. “Do you have any clean paper?”

“Ask the librarian.”

“Okay, I’ll do. Thanks again.” She disappeared from the library, and he was left in almost silence once again, and picking up his book, he restarted reading.


By the time, he left the library, he had finished the Churchill biography. He still felt he could learn more about him, and he hoped he could find the time. The moment he opened the door, his ears were filled with noise, and people were yelling and running everywhere.

He went to look for his parents; he knew they would arrive a bit earlier so they could look for Robert and wish him good luck before practice. The ambience outside was even worse; the people from the opposing school had started to arrive, all painted in their school’s colours, just like his classmates were.

“Aren’t you going to paint your face?” his father joked when he found him, and while he knew his son wouldn’t do it, Steffon was wearing the school colours and even had his face painted. “Your mom is looking for your brother. And Renly is with her,” he informed Stannis, before asking, “How was your day?”

“Good. Finished the Churchill book.”

“Awesome, you’ve got tell me the most interesting things on the way home.”

“I think you would like it, if you wanted to read it.”

“I would take Churchill fighting aliens over that,” his father answered, before adding. “Let’s go look for your mother and brothers.” Stannis fell into step with his father, following him, figuring he knew where Mother had gone.

“How did Renly’s audition go?”

“They think it went well. But he won’t know the results till Monday, you guys have to call the second you know, okay?”

“Of course, Dad. I’m sure Renly will remind us.”

“No. If he doesn’t get in. Don’t forget to ask him?”

Stannis nodded at his father’s request. “Do you know if Robert can pick Renly up next week?”

“He can most days. One of Renly’s friends’ mothers is bringing him home on one of the days, and I’m picking him up Friday; we’ll take the bus home together.”

“Okay. And food – has Mom gone over everything with you?”

“Yes, with the three of us. It’ll be okay – it’s not the first time you’ve gone on a business trip.”

“We haven’t gone just the two of us in a long time, and before, you slept over somewhere. But your mom and I think you’re too old for that now,” he said. “I’m still allowed to be worried,” he added, before Stannis could protest. “Ohhh… come on, I think I can see your mom on the field.”

Stannis saw her too; she was wearing Dad’s old team jersey from high school over her work clothes. Dad had never been the quarterback like Robert – Dad had been skinny like Stannis was now, never had the muscle and force Robert had – but he had been on the team, so mother now wore his old jersey with Baratheon on the back.

“Hi, Stannis,” she greeted him. “Steff, wait here, one of the cheerleaders offered to paint my face.”

“I offered. You said no.”

“You’re probably going to paint my face like yours – I don’t want each half of my face painted in a different colour. They’re going to do something tasteful. I’ll come back in a few minutes. Robert, don’t you dare go away before I wish you good luck again.”

“Of course, Mom,” he answered before she disappeared with the cheerleader. “Hi, Dad!! I see you’ve come prepared for the game.”

“I have. Good luck, son!! I’m already proud you’ve made it to the finals. My team never made it there.”

“Thanks, Dad. I really hope we can win – it would be so awesome!!”

“I believe you, Robert. Just give them your best.”

“Robert!!” Another of the players yelled. “Hurry up!! We need you for the practice!!”

“Wait a minute!!” Robert yelled back. “Where did mom go?” he asked dad again.

“Cheerleaders.”

“Right,” he muttered, noticing Mom with the girls. “Enjoy the game!! I’ll see you after!!”

“So what do we do now?” Renly asked. “The game doesn’t start for an hour and a half.”

“You need to enjoy the pre-game stuff – practicing, cheerleaders, mascots and all of that.”

“Dad, that still doesn’t start for a while,” Renly said, having come to enough games to know.

“This is the final game, it does start earlier. But first we need to go to the car. Your mother brought food, andsince we were in a hurry to catch Robert, we didn’t get it out.”

“Okay,” Renly answered, like he was still waiting for something else to be said.

“If you want we can show you around school or something,” Dad offered, and Renly smiled.

“Robert has gone in,” Mother said, joining them with two lines in the school colours, on each of her cheeks. “He’s really nervous, he’s feeling like he has the weight of the entire team on his shoulders.” She started leading them away from the field, as Dad took his place next to her, while Stannis stayed behind with Renly. He could still catch a few things from what they were saying. “I’m worried about what will happen if they lose.”

“What do you mean?”

“You must know that your son is not in the best state of mind.”

“Didn’t you say that he didn’t drink this week?!”

“I don’t think so, but how hard will he go tonight, if they lose. I’m staying back if they lose.”

“Cass… I need you,” his father whispered, and while Stannis couldn’t hear it, he could read it on his lips. “If it’s this bad, maybe we should talk about a shrink or something…”

“You know Robert – he would go for that as much as you would.” She took a deep breath. “Now, come on, let’s brighten up – we’ll deal with it if it gets there,” she finished before turning back. “Are you ready for the game, kids?” They both nodded. “You should be wearing more colours – we can’t forget that next time. Now help carry the food,” she said, opening both Renly and Stannis’ backpacks and feeling it with drinks (three covered beer bottles and a few juices boxes) and the other with snacks (chips and crispy peanuts).

“You shouldn’t bring beer, Mother.”

“No one will know if nobody tells. Now you and your dad go save a good seat for us, while I go show the drama department to Renly,” she said, giving them Renly’s backpack with the snacks while they took off.

Dad kept looking at her for a while, until Stannis pulled him back to reality and they made it to the stands. Dad chose the place, and they sat down. While they waited for the infernal game to start, Stannis started by getting his father caught up on all the important things Winston Churchill had done in life.


 Brienne of Tarth

 

Brienne couldn’t believe this was happening; she had been lifted by her teammates. Robert, on the right side, was yelling Brienne’s name louder than everyone else. But Brienne’s insecurities couldn’t help but kick in – she feared that they were just mocking her, that someone would end up humiliating her, letting her fall, so she kept yelling to be put down

“Bree!!!” Lyanna yelled. “You won!!! You won!!!” she kept exclaiming, jumping around them, after running onto the football field.

“I didn’t win alone,” Brienne answered.

“Couldn’t hear you,” Lyanna said, pulling on Robert’s sleeve. “Put her down, Robert. You know, she must hate being up there.” The moment her feet touched the ground, Lyanna jumped into her arms, hugging her tightly. “You won!! You won, Bree!!”

“The team won,” she argued.

“Shut up,” Lyanna said. “You got the final point – the team won the final because of you.”

“Agreed,” Brandon said coming up to her with Rhaegar, who took his chance picking up Lyanna.

“Congratulations,” Lyanna told him as he threw an arm around her shoulder.

“Brienne,” she heard another voice yell, and she looked up to the source of the sound and noticed Jaime running up to her, and picking her up as well. “You won the game!!”

“I didn’t…” she started protesting again, but she stopped when Lyanna complained for her to shut up. Jaime finally let her go from the embrace when Robert said:

“Come on, Brienne. It’s time to change, and wash off the sweat smell.”

“And then party!!” Brandon exclaimed. Brienne didn’t like that idea; she really didn’t want to go to any party – the Halloween party had been enough for her.

“Ohhh… please, Bree, come on. Come with us. It will be fun!!” Lyanna pleaded, noticing her face.

“Lya, don’t pressure her,” Rhaegar said coming in her defence, and pushing her by the arm to the showers. She made her way to the empty girl showers; she preferred them this way. She hated when the other girls looked at her and started whispering about her not having her legs always shaved – sorry, if it takes too long to do everything every week, and that having shaved legs wasn’t worth the back pain. Besides, they pointed out her flat chest and her pale skin that had weird spots.

Brienne took off her clothes, picked up the soap from her bag, and walked into the showers with her towel. Only then did she take off her underwear. Now she started washing herself – body and hair – to take off the smell of sweat. She was almost finished scrubbing when she heard the door open. Brienne almost jumped back scared, but she recognized Lyanna’s voice immediately.

“Hey, Bree. Are you in there? Came to keep you company – my brother and Cat are being disgustingly sweet.”

“I’m taking a shower,” she said like it was the most obvious thing ever.

“I’ll keep my eyes closed – I know you’re afraid of naked people.”

“It’s not that,” she said, coming out of the showers with a towel around her body. “Turn around,” she said as she put on her underwear.

“So why aren’t you coming to the party?”

“You know I don’t like that stuff,” Brienne told her as she put on her jeans.

“Why?!” Lyanna asked turning on the bench to look at her.

“I just don’t, Lya. I just want to go home and celebrate with my father.”

“But that’s lame,” Lyanna said. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that,” she immediately corrected. “It’s just we won the championship, that doesn’t happen every year. And for fuck’s sake, you were the hero of the game, Bree, people will want to celebrate with you.”

“Lya… just…”

“Okay, but I’ll only shut up just this once.”

Brienne didn’t like that proposal, but it was better than nothing. She really didn’t want to do go to this party – she hated the noise, and the people around her, always judging and leaving her out of everything. “That’s the sweater I got you for Christmas.”

“Yeah… thanks for that.” It had been the first time in a long time that someone besides her father got her something for Christmas. It had been Catelyn’s idea, and Brienne had to venture out looking for presents for the two of them, and she even ended up buying something for Jaime, luckily it had ended up going okay.

“Brienne, you should be jumping around,” Lyanna said. “You won the championship!! Come on, dance with me!!” Lyanna grabbed her hand, and sang out of tune, and started dancing; Brienne could feel her bare feet on the floor and she tried to protest, thinking about the diseases she could catch, but she let herself be pushed by her friend. “See this was fun,” Lyanna said, finally sitting down. “Now you better get dressed. Your father was waiting outside, with the amazing couple.”

So Brienne put on her socks and shoes, finished putting her clothes in the bag and left the locker room with Lyanna. She noticed her father nearby immediately, talking to Ned, and she made her way directly to him.

“Dad, you’re here!!”

“Of course I’m here, kid. You were amazing!! I’m so proud!!”

“Thanks, Dad,” she said, pulling back.

“Yeahh… you won, great game,” Catelyn said with a smile, and Ned nodded and congratulated her as well.

“Cat!! Ned!! You’re coming to the party, right?! Can you convince Brienne? If you’re going she won’t be the only sober person,” Lya said, coming closer. “Ohhh… Hi, Mr. Tarth!! I was kidding about sober, everyone is sober. Can your daughter come, please?”

“If she wants to and if she can sleep in any of you girls’ houses – I can’t pick her up, and I wouldn’t like her to go home so late.”

“See, your father is letting you come. Come on, Lya!!”

“I’ve told you, I don’t want to go!!”

“But you need to celebrate!! Come on, tell her, Catelyn.”

“Lya, neither I nor your brother are thinking of going.”

“Why??”

“Because I’m tired, and I’ve a good movie and a cup of hot chocolate waiting for me at home.”

“That’s boring… Just come with us,” Lyanna repeated, pleading to Brienne, Ned and Catelyn. “We need to celebrate Brienne’s victory.”

“Okay, if this is about celebrating Brienne and the team’s victory, why don’t we do something tomorrow? Us, your brothers, Rhaegar, Jaime, Robert – if you don’t mind him, Lya.”

“No, it was his game as well.”

“What do you think, Bree?”

“I like the idea,” she answered.

“Why don’t you come over to our house? We can prepare a barbecue or something,” her father suggested.

“YEAH!! That’s cool!! But in the afternoon, like 3 p.m. or something – I’ll be a bit tired from the party.”

“I can make dessert – two of them if you want,” Catelyn suggested.

“I can make a salad or something,” Ned said.

“Yeah, it’s the Stark thing to do,” Lya told her. “Come on, what do you say Brienne?”

“Okay, but just you guys. Make sure neither Brandon nor Robert decide to invite more people.”

“Thank you!! Thank you!!” Lyanna said, jumping into Brienne’s arms. “Thank you!! I’ll be there tomorrow around 3 p.m. Now I need to go, Rhaegar is waiting for more so we can go,” she said as she walked away, joining Rhaegar, and got into his car.

“So are you sure you don’t want to go to the party?”

“No, Dad. Home is fine.”

“Okay, but we’re going to celebrate your victory.”

“Thanks, Dad,” she said, before Catelyn and Ned were ready to say goodbye, since it was getting late, and neither of their houses was close.

“It was truly a great game, Brienne. See you tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Cat. Goodbye, Ned.”

“Bye, Brienne.”

Brienne and her father stayed where they were, watching Ned and Catelyn enter Brandon’s car.

“I like your friends,” he told her. “I hope you don’t mind that I invited myself to the barbecue.”

“You don’t mind having my friends over, do you?”

“Of course not, Brienne. You deserve a celebration.”

They drove home to the sound of the radio, and them going over the plays from the game. Her father had always been honest, and she couldn’t be happier that he was so proud of her. When they got home, they sat down on the sofa, her father gave her the tape he had made of the game, and she put it on while he went to the kitchen.

“Here you have it, girl, your first beer,” he said giving her a bottle. “At least your official beer with me. Also remind me to buy more beers tomorrow too. Your friends drink, right?”

“Dad!!”

“I won’t let them get drunk. But a great grilled meat goes great with a fresh beer.”

They both sat down. She started the video, while they shared snacks, and Brienne took a first gulp of the beer. It did not taste good, so she ended up putting it away.

“Not a fan, sweetie?”

“Not really. Sorry, Dad.”

“No problem. Do you want anything else?”

She shook her head, and kept watching the game, studying her plays during the game – what she and the team could have done better. She felt disappointed that this had been her only year to play football.

They watched the entire recording; at least, she did. Her father ended up falling asleep before the end. When Brienne finished watching the video, she cleaned up the living room, took the empty bottles and the bowl to the kitchen, and put the bottles in the trash, and the bowl in the sink. Before going upstairs, she stopped to give her father a kiss on the forehead, and cover him with a blanket


 

The next morning, Brienne was disappointed to see it was raining outside, and that their plans of a barbecue were ruined. She thought about calling her friends, but she knew it was still to early for most of them to be awake.

But her father didn’t think the rain would ruin her plans; he told her that they could just put the grill in the porch, under the roof, and they could just eat in the living room. There would be music and everything.

So after eating something light, keeping their stomachs still empty enough for the barbecue later in the afternoon, they left for the market to buy fruits and veggies, since her father thought it would be good to fry some bananas and maybe even make a fruit salad (it would go well with Catelyn’s desserts), and of course, grill some peppers, and maybe tomatoes.

After that they left the market, and drove to the supermarket to buy the rest of the things for the party. While her father was in charge of the meat, she went to buy chips, appetizers and even some cookies, pastries and bread. They met again in the drinks aisle, where she picked out some sodas, while her father picked up some beers and a bottle of whisky and wine (not for the party, but for himself). He put the bottles in the cart, and looking inside he said.

“Put that back, Brienne. We’ll go by a real pastry shop before going home; you can buy the bread and pastries there.”

She took his advice, and she put the stuff back on the shelves, even after her father said that she could just leave it there. He paid for the things, and she helped him carry the bags to the car.

He let her drive the car to the pastry shop. She parked in the second row, while he went inside, running from the rain (which unfortunately was back again), and five minutes later he came back with two bags.

When they got home, her father helped her prepare the house. Brienne had never had a party; the only time she had ever had friends over was when Lyanna and Catelyn came to help her get ready for the dance, but her father had been popular as a kid and he let her on the little secret that he used to throw enormous raves as a teenager. Of course, neither of them planed or wanted to throw a rave, so they only cleaned up the house a bit, and filled the table with the snacks, drinks, and in another corner the plates, cups and cutlery.

It was getting closer to the time they had agreed on, and Brienne decided to go change. She looked in her closet for a while; she normally didn’t care much about what she was wearing but today it felt special. After some consideration, she picked up a pair of jeans and a large blue sweatshirt. She looked herself in the mirror, and again she didn’t like what she saw, her face full of freckles and some scars left by old pimples she scratched out, and her hair that she kept short because it was easier, but that she never liked either. In the end, she shrugged her shoulders, knowing that she would never be as pretty as either Catelyn or Lyanna. Maybe she could be happy that she was faster than the two of them.

Less than fifteen minutes later, the bell rang. On the other side was Robert – she would never think he would be the first to arrive. She’d expected Catelyn or Ned.

“Hi, Brienne!!” he said pulling her in for a hug immediately. “Am I the first one here?”

“Yes, and welcome to my house, Robert.”

“I had no idea we lived so close. After all, the Stormlands is not that big.”

“I guess you’re right. How was the party last night?”

“Fun as shit. People asked about you!! Last night’s game was fucking awesome – I still can’t believe we won the championship. We wouldn’t have done it without you!!” he exclaimed, as her father came in.

“You sure wouldn’t have won without my girl. You’re Baratheon, right? The quarterback?”

“That’s me. Good to meet you. I just wish they had let her join the team earlier.”

“I like you,” her father said, before they continued talking about the game and then just football in general.

Her father and Robert were arguing about his play that almost threw the cup out of reach. While Robert spent his time blaming Rhaegar’s pass, her father kept saying it was Robert’s fault, and that he shouldn’t blame other people for his mistakes.

“You sound like Ned,” he said, at the same time that the doorbell rang once again. Brienne pulled away from the conversation, and answered it.

“Bree,” Catelyn said, giving her a quick hug and a kiss in each cheek, and then Ned greeted her as well, holding two bags.

“Come in. Robert is already inside, Ned; he’s going over the game with my dad.”

“Cool, I think I’ll join them. Where can I put the bags?”

“Just leave them here. I just need to put everything on the table. And thanks for bringing it.”

“Most of it is Catelyn’s. So you better thank her.” He left them, and they could hear Robert yelling Ned’s name.

“Thank you, Catelyn.”

“You don’t even know what I brought yet,” she said, laughing and picking up the bags, and Brienne led Catelyn to the table. They both took the things from the bags. First was the salad that Ned and his father prepared, while Catelyn hadbaked a chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting and strawberries, and then made a pumpkin mousse.

“The table looks great. And I love your house,” Catelyn complemented, looking over the walls, a lot of which were covered in sports memorabilia her father had collect over the years. Brienne remembered that they had much less when mother was alive, but now her father had become a collector.

“Brienne, do you want to put some meat on the grill?” her father asked from the kitchen. She shared a look with Catelyn. Brienne wasn’t particularly hungry yet, but since Catelyn nodded, she answered her father. “Okay, turn on the grill, while I prepare the meat.”

“No, let me do it,” Robert said, coming from the kitchen. “I’m really good at it.” She led them outside, where the rain was still falling hard. They took shelter under the roof, and she started to explain how the grill worked.

“I got it,” Robert said when they heard the door, she went to open it.

“Sorry I’m late. I had to wait for Cersei to get back from the mall, I only had the convertible and the news said it was raining. I’m pretty sure she took longer than she needed just because she was pissed she hasn’t been invited. Yeah, thanks for inviting me, even if it was Lyanna sharing the invite.”

“We only decided to do this yesterday.”

“Spontaneous, good for you, Brienne. Have some fun. And congrats on the game!! Now can I come in?”

She blushed, noticing she had left him standing in the rain, and gave a step back to let him pass. “Who’s here?”

“Robert, Ned and Catelyn.”

“The boring couple and the drunk, okay. Who’s coming?”

“Lya, Brandon and Rhaegar.”

“Rhaegar and Robert, that might spice stuff up a bit.”

“Don’t provoke them.”

“Hey!! It was you who decided to invite both of them,” he told her, smirking, and she knew that she needed to keep an eye on him to make sure he wouldn’t mess up with any of the two – she really didn’t want a fight. “Good afternoon, Mr. Tarth.”

“Jaime,” her father nodded to him.

“Your father still doesn’t seem to like me very much. I can’t imagine why – I’m a delight.”

Brienne ignored him, and he left her to join Ned who was coming from the kitchen with another plate full of meat, Jaime met him along the way, and while it was almost unreadable, she could recognized a bit of exasperation in Ned’s features.

Brienne thought about saving Ned from Jaime, but that was when the doorbell rang again, more than once. She knew it would be Lyanna.

“I’m coming,” she said, and when she opened the door, Lya entered the house wet from head to toe, just like her brother. Rhaegar seemed to be the one mildly dry, since he had brought a rain coat.

“Do you have any clothes I can borrow?” Lyanna pleaded. “For Brandon too, please.”

“Of course, follow me,” she told both Starks, before turning to Rhaegar. “Everyone is on the porch, through that door,” she pointed.

Brandon and Lyanna followed her upstairs to her room. She looked for some sweaters that might fit Brandon too. She finally found some and turning around, she found both siblings down to their underwear.

“You don’t need to blush, Bree. Just enjoy my glorious nakedness,” Brandon said, winking at her. Already used to Jaime, she just ignored him (even if she couldn’t help but blush).

“You can have two sweaters. For pants I’ll need to look in my father’s closet, wait here. Lya, you have my sweatpants there.” She pointed to a drawer. “They’re probably the only thing that’ll fit you.”

“Thanks, Bree,” she said as she started to look through the drawer. Brienne went to her father’s room, and quickly found the drawer with his elastic pants and then something Brandon could use. Coming back to her own room, she picked up their clothes and put them in the clothes dryer, while they joined everyone downstairs. And not even three minutes after, Brienne met them in the living room. Everyone was sitting around. Rhaegar was on the couch with Lyanna wrapped in his lap, Brandon sat on the other side of the sofa with Jaime, and Catelyn and Ned sat on the floor. From her place, Brienne could see they were holding hands even though they kept them hidden behind their backs. Her father sat on the armchair, sharing stories.

“Brienne was never one to get into trouble, but she was running along very early. Her brother was a bit older and started teaching her all kind of sports since she could walk.”

“Brother?” Brandon was the one to ask, and she remembered she had never told him, and he wouldn’t think there was a reason behind that.

“Galladon was my older brother,” Brienne answered. “He drowned, almost ten years ago.”

“Sorry, shouldn’t have asked.”

“You didn’t know,” Brienne answered honestly as she sat in another armchair.

“Don’t worry about it, boy,” he father said. Trying to put him at ease, he asked, “So how long have you been playing?”

“I made the team my freshman year. I played a bit during P.E. in middle school. At home, we’ve always been soccer people, our mom had British background and she loved the sport. Even if she spent most of her time insulting my father for calling it soccer, and not by its proper name.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever played soccer. Keeping track of my feet would be a bit hard.”

“It’s not hard. You just need to pass the ball, and run with it.”

“You say that because you haven’t seen Cat play,” Lyanna said, laughing.

“Hey!!” she exclaimed.

“Don’t tell me it isn’t true. I could show you the bruises on my ankles. It’s like she aims for your ankles.”

“I don’t. I aim for the ball; it’s not my fault you move too fast,” Catelyn told everyone, with one of her serious faces, before sweetly turning to Brienne’s father and saying, “Mr Tarth, but don’t follow my judgment. There are very few sports I can actually play. Gymnastics and dance save my P.E. grade.”

“Ohhh… girl, don’t worry. Maybe when there’s a better day we can throw a proper barbecue and you will teach me to play.”

“It’s on, Mr Tarth.”

“The first meat is ready!!” Robert warned from the porch. Brienne hadn’t even noticed he wasn’t inside with them.

As everyone stood up to get their meat, Brienne went to the table to get the plates and cutlery; she looked at the cups and drinks, trying to decide if she should or not take them, when she heard Rhaegar’s voice behind her.

“I can get everyone’s drinks. Don’t worry.”

Brienne helped Robert get the meat on the plates. He seemed to be having fun choosing which piece everyone got – he only let her father pick. He was almost done when Rhaegar came in and asked what everyone wanted to drink. And while she didn’t understand it at first, since it had to be Jaime to point out the obvious to her, Rhaegar and Robert were fighting about who could be more helpful – a stupid thing to fight about if you ask me, Jaime told her.

But everyone did get their drinks and meat without any problems, while Brienne got the sauces and the salad to go with it. Everyone took a place on the porch, no one wanting to go outside, especially now that the rain had finally stopped. Lyanna seemed to be going off to sit on the ground, but luckily remembered that those weren’t her pants she was wearing.

“Bummer,” she whispered, taking a seat on the porch floor, attacking the meat with her hands. Both Brienne and Catelyn took spots next to her – Catelyn didn’t sit, but stood next to her – keeping Rhaegar or Robert from fighting for a place next to Lyanna.

“Thanks for inviting us over.”

“It was my dad, if you remember correctly.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t mind.”

“Girls, do you want more meat?” Brandon asked from the grill, and they all nodded, saying what they wanted, while their plates got passed around the porch to get new pieces of meat and vegetables. Sadly they weren’t even mid-way through their seconds when it started raining. Catelyn let a little squeal, and jumped forward.

“You okay?”

“Water down my back,” she answered Rhaegar, as she helped both Lyanna, and then Brienne from the floor, and they went back inside.

“Robert, you don’t need to keep managing the grill.”

“I don’t mind.” With that, Robert stayed outside, with Ned keeping him company this time, while they went back to the living room.

“Can I turn it on?” Brandon asked with the remote in hand. Brienne nodded, and a fight between everyone erupted, they tried to decide which channel to watch. Brienne noticed Catelyn rolling her eyes at their behaviour, and they ended up moving to the table. Brienne got a deck of cards, and started shuffling it, while the boys fought over the remote and Ned and Robert were still playing with the grill outside.

Brienne was happy. She had always had a dad, but now she had another kind of family as well – she just hoped that she wouldn’t lose them, that time and distances wouldn’t pull them away.

Chapter Text

Lyanna Stark

 

“They are so disgusting,” Lyanna complained, dropping down next to Jory again, while he peeked behind, through the gap between the chairs.

“Disgusting?!” Jory exclaimed, turning back to her. “She’s resting her head on his shoulder and Ned is reading something,” he answered, like it was nothing weird. “At least they don’t spend the entire journey sucking face.”

“I don’t do that!!”

“Last year, journey to the HighgardenBotanic garden… or the chemistry school trip,” he answered, and she kicked him.

“That hurt, Lya!!”

“Don’t kick him, Lya!!”

“Shut up, Ned,” she said, kneeling on her chair again, standing to look at the chairs behind them.

“Miss Stark, you need to sit down and put your seat belt on,” one of the teachers said, and she sat back down again.

“Wanna play cards, Jory?” Lyanna asked him, and he shrugged his shoulders. She turned to Ned behind her again. “Can you give me the cards? I put them in your bag this morning.”

“Wait a second,” he heard Ned say. “Ohhh… sorry, Cat. I just need my bag. No, we’re not there yet.”

“Hurry up, Ned!!” she said impatiently.

“You could just bring your own bag, Lya.”

“There needs to be some advantage to having my brother coming on a school trip with me.”

“You packed your lunch here too?”

“Yeah. I also put some cookies and my bottle of water in Catelyn’s bag. And you know your girlfriend is nicer, she didn’t complain.”

“Lya, you…” Ned started to say something, but he stopped and just gave her the cards.

Lyanna took them from the box, and started shuffling them; she asked:

“So what do you wanna play?”

“Go fish.”

“Really?!”

“Come on, it’s cool. We can play something else after that.” She shrugged her shoulders and dealt the cards.

They ended up playing three games, before they changed to a game she wanted. They played through most of the trip. A bit afterwards, Lyanna woke up Catelyn because she wanted the cookies kept in her bag. She shared them with Jory, before falling asleep.

She woke up with Ned shaking her and telling her, “We’re finally here.” She sat up, and prepared to get out of the bus, when she noticed that she had drooled on Jory’s shirt.

Sophomores and juniors got out of the bus together, and the teachers started to separate them by year; Lyanna and Jory said goodbye and moved into their line.

“So as you must know we’re not only here so you can get some fresh air,” the teacher started. “It is expected of you to form groups of two to four – no more than four – and do a report about the visit. It will be given to you a guidebook. If you answer these questions, it will be easier for you to do the paper.”

“Do you wanna pair up? It could be fun, at least it’s easier to meet up. We can play videogames after we’re done,” Lyanna asked Jory.

“Sure, anyone else?” he asked, and Lyanna started looking around, to find someone worth working with.

“What about Davos? Have you ever worked with him?”

“Not really – I don’t even know him. He doesn’t talk much in class, and he’s always with Robert’s brother.”

“Stannis,” Lyanna remembered. “But he’s not here, he’s still a freshman.”

“What about the redheaded girl? I don’t particularly trust the girl, she gives me the creeps me out,” Jory said.

“Yeah, don’t be a pussy. And I don’t think she’s pairing up with him,” Lyanna said, pointing out to the redheaded girl talking to a couple of other girls in their year. “I’m gonna go talk with Davos, he’s all alone over there.”

Lyanna walked up to him, with Jory following her.

“Hey!! Do you wanna join us on the group work? I promise we’ll work – we could meet at my house, if you can like drive North.”

“Thanks... but I do not have much free time. I wouldn’t mind working with you, but the North would be a bit hard for me. I don’t have a car or anything, and I’ve got a few jobs after school.”

“We could work out something, if you would still help,” Lyanna suggested.

“Yeah, of course – I’ll do my best. I wouldn’t slack or anything.”

“So sure, work with us.” Lyanna said, pulling him by the arm.

The three of them did the guided visit together, with Davos filling up the guidebook and Lyanna taking some notes on things she thought they could use for their paper. But more than two hours after, everyone was dying to stop for lunch, Lyanna was now regretting leaving her food with Catelyn. Luckily Davos ended up offering her some of his snacks, and she accepted immediately.

“Okay, we will move out to the gardens after lunch. There’s a one hour break; please don’t get too far and be back on time.” The teacher seemed to want to say something else, but the students were already walking away.

“We’re going to sit with my brother – do you wanna sit with us?” Lyanna asked,

“Yes, that would be cool. I brought my food from home.”

“I did too, so did my brother and his girlfriend.”

“I need to go get my food,” Jory said.

“Okay, can you find us after?”

“Yeah, it won’t be that hard,” Jory moved away. And Lyanna and Davos looked for her brother.

“So how’s your girlfriend? Maya, right?”

“Marya, actually. She’s okay. She really liked meeting you, you know.”

“You should invite her around, or something. She could stop by when we’re working.”

“She… she doesn’t have a lot of free time either, Lyanna,” he said, scratching the back of his head. “She works full time, and then a few more jobs.”

“Ohhh… sorry, Davos,” she said – she was always sticking her foot in her mouth. “It must be hard for your relationship or something.” She couldn’t imagine, since it was already hard for her and Rhaegar and they saw each other almost everyday.

“We make do,” he answered.

“Stop making googly eyes at Catelyn,” Lyanna said, reaching her brother’s table, slapping him over the head, and taking a seat next to him.

“He’s not making that, Lya. Stop making fun of your brother.”

“So now your girlfriend has to defend you,” Lyanna joked with her brother, before apologizing. “Ohhh… you remember Davos from the dance, right?” she asked, as she reached for her lunch, still inside Ned’s backpack.

“Yes, how’s Marya doing?” Catelyn asked.

“She’s doing okay. Thanks for asking.”

“Send her a hello for me.”

“Davos is doing the work with me and Jory.”

“If you need my help ask,” Catelyn suggested, and Lyanna was very tempted to take her up on that offer.

“Hey!! Stop offering your help to other people. Ned and I need you,” Robert said, dropping down next to Ned on the other side of the table. “Do you want to come over to my house? My parents are out of town.” Lyanna remembered the time when she came over when his parents were out of town; she remembered Stannis being even worse than his parents about leaving the door open.

“I think I can come over. But you’ve got to work, Robert,” Catelyn warned him.

“I will. Ask Ned, I’m not that hopeless,” Robert said. Lyanna noticed that they continued talking about their work, and she couldn’t help but always hear Robert’s voice. But Davos and Jory kept her distracted, trying to decide about their own work.

“I can do it on Saturday morning if you can. I only start my shift at two in the afternoon. But I don’t have a computer in my house or anything.”

“We could start working on it. I don’t bother typing it in,” Lyanna suggested. “I’ve gotten quite good at it.”

“I can still type a bit at school,” Davos answered.

“And I’m sure my uncle will let me use his computer, when he’s not using it for work.”

“Okay, so maybe we can divide it. I will still get the bigger part – it’s only fair.”

“If you’re sure you don’t mind,” Davos made sure to ask again, and Lyanna reassured him again.

“I can come over, and we’ll do it together,” Jory suggested. “I can read it out loud to you.”

“Okay, I’ll take you up on that offer. You can stay for dinner if you want. Play some videogames.”

“Sure.”

“Hey, Ned!!” she said immediately calling for her brother, who pulled away from his conversation with Robert. “Jory is coming over on Saturday, for work.”

“That’s cool. You can stay over if you want. I’m sure Father won’t mind,” Ned suggested.

“Cool, I’ll talk with my dad about it. I’m sure he’ll be okay with it.”

Lyanna was sure his father would say yes. The Starks always had a few neighbours over – and Jory had been a common face around. Maege was who Lyanna missed the most, she used to come with Greatjon and Glover, and Maege would end up staying over in her room, while the two boys stayed with Brandon or Ned.

She had last seen her when she came over with her brothers on January 1st, and Lyanna still couldn’t believe she was pregnant (and she was mad that her brothers found out first, but luckily being chosen as “godmother” would make up for it).

“We need to get going, Catelyn,” Ned said, looking at his watch. “We’re supposed to be by the door in five minutes.”

“Okay, we’ll get going,” Catelyn said, getting up and picking up her own trash, but also Robert and Ned’s. “Are you coming, Lya?”

“Our teacher gave us fifteen more minutes,” Jory said checking his watch.

“Okay, see you at the bus,” Ned said, stepping away from them, with Catelyn and Robert.

“Cat, wait. Can you give me back my cookies?” Lyanna asked, and Catelyn opened her bag and gave Lyanna her own cookies.

After that they left, Davos, Jory and Lyanna kept talking until it was time to go back. And as they made their way back to the gardens, Lyanna realized she had forgotten to consider that now she had to carry her pack of cookies and the empty boxes in her hand.

“I can take your food,” Davos offered.

“Thanks,” she said, helping him put the things in his backpack, and taking his out his guidebook as well, giving him his pencil.

“It’s the gardens, now. There won’t be as many notes to take probably,” Lyanna said. “At least I hope.”

Lyanna had been right, they walked through the gardens and the guide told them a few things, but nothing she deemed too important and interesting. But Davos kept taking a lot of notes. She already knew the name of most of the plants he pointed to; she was even able to correct the guide one time.

They heard of the tragic love story lived in these gardens. She knew the story already. After all, it was the reason the junior English class had come – they were studying some novel about these star crossed lovers – and Catelyn had made sure to tell her everything. While Lyanna’s History of Art class had come for the castle’s architecture, and also the history of the people who had it built.

“Does anyone have any questions?” the guide asked, stopping near a river; nobody said anything, so he finished. “Okay, so that finishes the tour. I hope you enjoyed your visit, and you’re always welcome to visit again.” He stepped back, to talk to the teachers, before leaving them alone in the gardens.

“You can explore for a bit if you want. The visit in the castle will be done in about twenty minutes.”

Lyanna immediately knew what she wanted to do. She followed the river until a part where the teachers couldn’t see her, and took off her sneakers and dipped her feet into the water. Only after, she noticed that Jory and Davos had followed her.

“What are you doing? The water must be freezing.”

“Northern blood, my dear,” she answered. It felt good to let the tip of her fingers touch the water, throwing small drops into the air. She would dip her entire foot, and then just a few fingers, or just the tip, or the ankle; she tried to draw patterns in the water. And after a while, she realized Davos and Jory had started skipping stones as well.

She reached for Davos’ bag, and took out her cookies, and started munching on them; distracted by the water and the cookies she didn’t hear the new pair of feet stepping closer.

“Miss Stark!! What are you doing?”

“Just washing my feet,” she answered. “Nobody said anything about not being allowed.”

“We didn’t think anyone would try it. Get out of the water, Miss, and go dry your feet.”

Without any other choice she did as the teacher told her to do, laying on the grass, and sticking her feet into the air, still biting on cookies. “Five minutes,” the teacher warned before leaving. The minutes passed quickly, and she ended up putting her sneakers back on.

They walked back to the group, before it was time to take their seats on the bus. Davos went back to his seat and sat nowhere close to them. Lyanna ran to her place so she could take the window seat, and tired, she rested her head against it and closed her eyes.

And while waiting to get to school, so she could see her boyfriend just for a few minutes before having to get in the car with Brandon; she fell asleep to the sound of Catelyn and Ned talking about the visit.


Varys

 

Another note from his mysterious tipper appeared on his locker. Varys couldn’t stop thinking who this person was – he couldn’t even tell if it was a girl or a boy.

The handwriting was neutral enough, not too pretty that he would think that it was a girl or too ugly to probably be a boy’s handwriting (not that this system was foolproof), so he didn’t have any clue. The paper was clean too, no watermarking or anything, and always the same kind of paper. And the tips were always good too.

The tips were good, and it didn’t seem to be tracking a specific person, or a specific type of gossip. Certainly, with that type of skills, this person couldn’t be just anyone.

He picked up the new note and put it in the inside pocket of his coat. He would read it later when he found himself alone. Not having more classes for the day, he moved to the room reserved for the school paper.

The room wasn’t too big, but they had two photocopy machines, two cameras and three computers. Against one of the room’s walls were shelves filled with previous editions of the paper.

Varys sat at the computer that was now better known as his, and opened his email account, hoping to have something back from his friend.

Luckily there it was, a new email from Illyrio (now going with the surname Mopatis). They had been together in Essos, sent around the Free Cities, until Varys was mysteriously sent to the continent, and enrolled into this school.

According, to the email, Illyrio was with a new foster family in Pentos. They treated him better than the last one. He said that he was fitting in at his new school, having made the track team. Unfortunately, he still had no news about the real reason why Varys had been sent away.

He quickly answered, saying that he was happy for him and glad that his friend had been progressing in his social life. While Varys didn’t hold a big place in his school, he had enough power – knowing what people didn’t want him to know was very useful.

He liked his place here, and these kids had many more secrets than the ones he knew from Essos. But he missed the island. No one there seemed to care much for the law; he at least was freer there. Nobody ever remembered that Essos was even American, so far into the Pacific that was closer to Asia than America. Here, while Westeros wasn’t the most American state, it was close enough, and the president’s voice still held power here.

“Good afternoon, Varys,” Catelyn Tully said coming in. She was a pretty girl. One that had gone her first two years without having many social relevance – always very involved in the school, but always in the background. This year she had started out well, dating the basketball team star, and then breaking up with him for his less important brother. Varys’ mysterious tipper had sent some information on her – some he had used, other he still kept for maybe future use. “I sent you the article you asked for, last night. Did you get it?” She happened to be hardworking too, always good for the team.

“I did,” he said, looking through the list of new emails. “I’ll read over it right now.”

“Okay. I’m planning to look through the photos we have for that article. I also asked Lyanna Stark for some. I hope you don’t mind.”

Lyanna Stark… someone could write a book about her. You have to work, Varys – it’s not really the best time to go thinking about her.

“I don’t.”

Her writing was very good; she was attentive to detail and she had a subtle way to add her opinion when it was asked for (not like other people that when asked to report something, do everything but that, sharing only their views). Varys moved a few sentences and paragraphs around, but nothing much.

“This is really good, Catelyn. We can use everything, I changed a few things around, if you want to check,” he said standing from his chair, and trading places with her. “Where are the pictures you’re thinking about using?”

“The pile closer to the edge,” she answered starting to read her article.

Varys picked up the photos. He counted seven and he knew he would need to cut it down to three – that would work for the two pages he was giving her. He could easily tell which ones were Lyanna’s, and he ended up choosing one of hers and then two more from the students who were part of the school paper.

“It seems good. And you’re right, it really works best as one of the final paragraphs.”

“I’m glad. I’ve chosen a few photos,” he said, stepping closer again and giving them to her. “What do you think? Any others you would prefer?”

“No, those are good. What else do you need from me?”

“No article as of now. I’ll see what happens from now on. But I need you to do something else for the paper.”

“Of course – what do you need?”

“If you could talk to Brienne about talking to the paper. The article about the game is ready, but I would really like to have a few words from her.”

“Ohhh… I can talk to her, but I’m not sure she will say yes.”

“Just try to convince her – it would look great in the paper. She was the hero of the game, after all.”

“I’ll tell her. And if you don’t need anything else, I’ll get going,” Catelyn Tully said, and Varys gave her leave.

Varys kept working of the articles he had received the previous nights. He made a few changes to some of them, and tried to go over a few pictures for the articles. And he started working on the editorial about the start of the New Year for everyone and a new term for the students; he had gotten a few tips and lines on Elia Martell’s email, and he was sure he could use some of that.

Nobody appeared for the rest of time he spent working in the room; then noticing the hour on the computer, he knew he had to leave. He turned off the computer, made sure he still had the note in his jacket, and left the room; he stopped by his locker, and got his algebra textbook, knowing he had some homework.

He left the school and walked to the bus stop, catching the bus to the city centre. From there he walked to his place of work. He had taken a job in a technology store. He was good with that, and the owner let him use the computer and other material after work or during breaks. That was the way way he had gotten his phone, fixed something that someone brought to the store to exchange for a new one.

In the bathroom, he changed from his clothes to his work uniform. His clothes were probably more expensive than they should be, but unlike the only other student from Flea’s Bottom – Davos Seaworth, he had seen him around here – he needed to fit in and for that he would need clothes that wouldn’t make him seem like he was from here, without no family or home.

Now in his work clothes, he stood behind the counter, waiting for a new costumer, while he waited he tried to see what was wrong with a cellphone someone had dropped by at the beginning of the week.

He worked until it was closing time, then his boss’ son – Tobho Mott, not that much older than Varys, who was learning the ropes so someday he could take over his father’s business – left the office. As usual, he left the key with Varys who would close up the shop.

Varys cleaned up everything in the front, pulled down the grids in the windows, locked the door, and made sure nothing was left lying around on the counter, before emptying the cash register and locking the money in the safe. Only after all this, Varys moved to the back and turned on the computer, and quickly signed in into his blog and opened his Spyder account.

At the Spyder account, he tried to look for something concerning the sophomore and junior trip – most school trips always brought good gossip. He couldn’t help but smile when he noticed Lyanna Stark’s name in the subject. He crossed his fingers that something had happened between her and Robert that would be too good to be true.

It ended up being a trashy gossip. Someone was pointing out that she paired up with Jory and Davos; with an added photo of her sleeping on Jory’s shoulder. Nobody would care about that, they did that all the time (he could twist it, of course, but he would need to be too desperate to do that). And Davos… Flea Bottom wasn’t that big, and everyone knew that he was as good as married to Marya (the girl with a thousand sisters whose parents left in the beginning of the school year).

There were a few other messages that were complete trash, but he found two other from the trip he could use – so he started writing the articles, even using photos in one of them (but he put them on queue, they weren’t to be published yet).

Now, he started writing the new article. Jaime Lannister was dating someone. He still couldn’t say who, but it seemed to be some girl from Casterly Rock. They had only been on two dates but that was some kind of record for him, and according to his sources, he would have another this Saturday. (Varya would be able to catch her name now – he had already talked to one of the restaurant’s waiters).

The girl was probably one of his sister’s friends from home, and he knew that after this was published the girls at school would be dying of envy for not being the chosen one, including Cersei Lannister’s “friends”.

Feeling pleased with the article, he clicked publish and logged off from both his blog and email accounts, before turning off the computer. Checking the store one more time, before switching off the lights, Varys left the establishment through the back door, and started walking to the orphanage where he lived.

Varys entered the home, and made his way to the kitchen. As usual he found that most people had already eaten. Only the boys that worked late like him were filling their plates with the leftovers from dinner. He got on queue, and finally served his meal, before taking a seat at the end of the table. Some of the boys talked, but everyone seemed too tired to say much.

After putting his plate in the washstand, he left for his room, knowing that he wasn’t on washing duty today. He entered his room, trying to make the least noise possible, knowing that since he shared it with three younger kids, they would be sleeping by now. And while sometimes he could not like sharing this with three noisy and loud kids, he was glad this was one of the few rooms with an incorporated bathroom – he was pretty sure that was the reason this one was given to him.

He had been mocked enough his entire life, but somehow since he got to Westeros he had been good enough at keeping it a secret. He didn’t know what happened; he just knew that when he got dropped at the orphanage just a few months old, he was already like this. Varys had made peace with it; there wasn’t much he could do. Maybe someday it would be possible to have plastic surgery or something. Not now. But he still didn’t like to look at it. So he quickly changed into his pyjamas and did everything else he needed in the bathroom before getting into bed, taking his algebra book and the note in his jacket with him.

Turning off the bedside lamp, he did his homework, before putting the book away; and finally looking at the note. As he knew since the beginning it was from his mysterious tipper, and he couldn’t believe what he was reading inside.

Someone else was entering the dating life again; he knew he really needed to check the truth behind this. Because Elia Martell might have a date this Saturday…

Chapter Text

Elia Martell

Elia was getting ready for her date, and while she wasn’t too excited about the date itself, she liked going through the ritual of getting reading. Right now, Ashara was fixing her hair – she was doing a traditional Dornish braid.

“I still think you should go with the jeans I picked up for you. They will make your ass look great.”

“I don’t particularly need my ass to look great. And I like my jeans.”

“You said you were giving this guy a chance.”

“I told my mom that, not you. I don’t even know his name, he’s just a family friend.”

“But he could be great. You could finally move on.”

“If he’s so great, I won’t need to enhance my ass.”

“Good point. But you could enhance your ass, for you… or me. I quite like your ass.”

“Shut up,” Elia told her smiling, used to her joking. “What are you doing tonight by the way?”

“I invited Ellaria over to watch a movie, she said she would bring over food.”

“Are you trying to take advantage of me being out? I can stay out longer if you want.”

“No, no need. Please come home,” Ashara told her immediately. “But no need to come earlier either. Just come when you’re ready.”

“So you’re not dating or anything...”

“No. We make out some times, but nothing more. I think she wants to do more, but she won’t pressure me.” Ashara had already told her about that; she always came to Elia’s room after she came from spending time with her “girlfriend”. They would lie in her bed, and Ashara would speak. Elia hadn’t actually seen her this nervous about her love life for years; she had been confident in her love life and sexuality for years, so this was new. “Will you make out with your date tonight?”

“Probably not. First date, with a guy I don’t even know,” Elia answered. “I know there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s not my way.”

“Yeah. I know you don’t judge me,” Ashara said, smiling. “Stand up, darling,” she said, extending her hand. Elia took her hand, and looked at herself in the mirror, and quite liked how she looked – sophisticated, beautiful, but still herself. “He won’t be able to resist you.”

I hope he does, she thought. She really wasn’t ready to have a guy all over her. And once again, she second guessed her choice to agree to go on this date. She just wanted to put on her pyjamas, and watch a movie, or she could even stay in her room and read a book, so Ashara and her friend could have privacy.

“I’ll walk you to the taxi row,” Ashara suggested, and Elia gave up on the idea of staying home, and took Ashara’s proposal, picking up her bag. Ashara gave her a kiss before she got in the cab.

She gave the cab driver the address of the restaurant that her mother had given her; it was in the Westerlands, near Casterly Rock. The drive was silent as she looked out the window. She tried to go over all the families her mother knew, that had boys around her age, but she came up with very few names.

“Lady, we’re here,” the driver called. She immediately paid him, and left the bus. And taking a deep breath, she walked up to the restaurant; she noticed a boy about her age, took another deep breath and walked up to him.

“I’m Elia Martell. Are you…?”

“Yes. Baelor Hightower. My family knows yours, my mother thought this would be a good idea,” he said, giving her passage to enter the restaurant first.


Elia was never going to trust her mother to fix her up with anyone again – this was the worst date she had ever gone on, and an awful way to re-enter the dating world. It wasn’t like Baelor was ugly or anything, and he was nice too – polite and everything – but just a bit too much into himself (and not to mention that she was sure he had farted during the main meal, covering the noise, with a laugh out of context).

They barely could find common ground. She had hoped her date would be Dornish. She missed her home and it would be good to talk about it with someone who knew it, but he was from Oldtown, in the Reach. Finally they found some topic, so she spent the second half of her date, after he had talked enough about himself, talking about Arthur.

Baelor seemed to know him from the tennis team, and she couldn’t remember her life before Arthur. She hadn’t talked to him in quite a long time now, since Ashara was still pissed at his behaviour. Elia had thought that maybe she should talk to him and reassure him that she didn’t have a problem with Ashara dating a Stark (or that he was still friends with Rhaegar).

So they mostly shared stories about Arthur, which wasn’t what she had hoped. Thinking about Arthur made her mind quickly drift to Rhaegar – how he usually played with her fingers as they talked, or how when they went on dates, paper towels always ended up ruined in restaurants, with them doodling and playing noughts and crosses.

“You haven’t told me how you met him.”

“Ohhh… we go back years. I have known him since I was a child. He didn’t live far from my house, and I was in the same class as his sister. Actually, I’m currently living with his sister.”

“So you live without any adults?”

“I do.”

“Ohhh… my parents wouldn’t have trusted me to live alone when I was your age.”

“My mother does, and Ashara’s mother trusts us too,” she told him. Elia knew that Ashara’s mother had only let her move because she trusted Elia to look after her.

“Wait… Ashara… I know that name.”

“Maybe Arthur has mentioned it.”

“No… I think I went on a date with her a few months back. I gave her my number, but she never called back. Didn’t she mention me?” Elia couldn’t remember names, but Ashara had actually mentioned an awful date with a guy that only talked about him, and that had farted, possibly the same person.

“No, don’t think so,” she lied, actually not really lying – she didn’t know the name. Baelor’s face fell.

“Ohhh… please don’t tell Arthur I went out with his sister.”

“I won’t.”

“So do you want to do something after dinner? Maybe the movies, or a drink?” he suggested.

“Sorry, I can’t. I promised my roommate I would come home quickly.” She didn’t think she could handle more time with him.

“Ohhh. Are you sure? Maybe we can meet up next time I’m in town.”

“Maybe…” she said not wanting to commit to that, before turning back to her plate – at least the food was good.

Once again after they had exhausted the topic of Arthur Dayne, he started talking about himself again, and she wanted to pull her hair out – not that she would do it, or even mention that he should talk about him a little less.

Elia quickly finished her meal, and excused herself to the bathroom. Resting against the wall, she dialled the house number, and waited for Ashara to pick up.

“Hello.”

“It’s me, Ash.”

“Ells, why are you doing calling me? Is the date that bad? Or it went so well, that you’re calling me to tell me you’re not coming home.”

“First option. Actually, you went on a date with him too.”

“Ohhh… please tell me I’m not at fault for you awful date?” Ashara asked, and she could hear the guilt in her voice.

“No, it was already awful, before we realized that piece of information.”

“Elia, you know that not every guy can be Rhaegar.”

“It’s not about that, Ash. He just didn’t shut up about himself, he barely asked me anything.”

“That doesn’t shorten the options. What’s his name?”

“Baelor Hightower.”

“Ohhh… Gods… Baelor…” she said laughing. “I told your brother about him, actually. He came up with a nickname for him – Baelor Breakwind.” Why? Elia heard a voice ask on the other side of the phone. “He farted during the date, more than once.”

“Shut up!! He did now too…” she said laughing. “Shut up, I still need to face him again.”

“Breakwind!! Breakwind!!” Ashara chanted from the phone, and then she could hear another voice as well.

“Please stop, Ash. I still need to go back out there.”

“Okay… Do you want me to call you with an emergency?” she asked. “I would get you out of there.”

“No need. Dinner is almost over, and I already said that I’m not doing anything after dinner.”

“Sure, if you come home quickly – you can still catch the movie with me and Ellaria.” But Elia didn’t plan to interrupt their date, and she knew the taxi would take a while to get home.

“Have fun, Ash. I’ll see you back home.”

“Bye, love. Enjoy Breakwind.” Elia laughed again, turned off the phone, and put it back on her pocket.

“Ohhh… I was getting worried,” Baelor said when she came back. “You took a while.”

“Sorry I got a call while I was in the bathroom.” It was close enough to the truth.

They finished dinner quickly enough, Elia denied his offer of dessert, so he ordered the bill, and paid. She offered to pay her half, but he didn’t let her, saying that since he invited her, he would pay.

They walked out of the restaurant, and he offered to drive her home – in a way that she knew he expected and wanted her to say no, which was expected, since it would be completely out of the way.

“No need, thank you. I’ll just call for a taxi,” she told him.

“Are you sure?” he asked, and she nodded. “Can I get your number?”

“I…” she wanted to say no, but she didn’t think it would be appropriate; after all he had been nice, even if she didn’t plan to go on a date with him again. “Okay, I think so. But I’m not sure if I have the time to go out again. School… and school paper… Maybe I could get your number and call if I have the time?” she suggested.

“Ohhh… sure…” he said, and she took outher phone and gave it to him. He dialled it quickly, before giving it back and she saved the number, almost writing Breakwind instead of Hightower.

She walked him to the car, and saw him get into the car and leave. Since there was still enough light out, she started walking to the taxi row nearby; but something stopped her – she noticed an ice cream shop, and since it was a rather warm January night, she walked in.

The store was really small, and cosy, and she wondered how they still kept doing business in the winter.

“Good evening. Do you need any help?” the lady behind the counter asked, as Elia looked at the listing high on the wall.

“I would like a scoop of ice cream, please.”

“We have fewer flavours right now, but you can choose.” Elia looked over the flavours. Some were too sweet, and she heard her mother’s voice telling her they had too much sugar.

“Raspberry, please.”

“Sure. Cone or cup?”

“Cup, please.” The girl took a scoop, and put it in a simple cup; Elia paid, and sat in a table by the window. While she ate, a couple entered took a seat at a table further away from the door, and shared a bowl of ice cream and drank hot chocolate. She was looking at them, absent-mindedly, when she heard a voice she knew.

“I thought you had a date tonight. What happened? Did he found out you were the ex-sweetheart of the ex-mayor’s son?”

“No, he didn’t. And didn’t you have a date too?” she asked him back, knowing the news from the Spyder blog.

“Sure did. Just dropped the girl off at home.”

“How did it go?!

“I think I need to get ice cream for myself too, before I go into that, if you don’t mind me joining you.”

“You can join me, Jaime, but only if your date was bad. I do not want to hear about uplifting dates.”

“It wasn’t, I promise you. Just getting ice cream,” Jaime told her, going to the counter, and getting a cup with three scoops.

“Three, really?! Was it that bad?”

“Was that bad?! What was theworst about yours?” he asked, taking a seat in front of her.

“The guy kept talking about himself, and…”

“The girl kept talking about my sister,” he interrupted her. “Really, this is why I don’t date. Fuck, every girl I go out with just wants to talk about my sister.”

Elia had a hard time believing that, after all Jaime was a handsome man – he reminded her of Rhaegar, actually; he was lean, tall and had light hair. “She thought this would help her feature in my sister’s gang.” Who would want to be part of Cersei’s group? she wondered. “Are you wondering who would like to be with Cersei?”

“Was it that obvious?”

“I know you don’t like my sister. Not sure if it’s because of Ashara, or not… But you know my sister is not that bad, I don’t get why people hate her.”

“It’s more like people fear her.”

“And you don’t?”

“I have Ashara behind me,” she said smiling. The conflict between Cersei and Ashara was notorious, and Elia couldn’t help but think that Cersei always made it more than it was.

“Ahhh… really?! I do have to communicate that to my sister, you know…”

“Family, first. Building an army, are you?” she said, and he laughed, before adding.

“Somehow, we ended up talking about my sister again.”

“Ohhh… sorry about that. So what do you want to talk about, then?”

“How was your date? You were going to say something, before I stepped in.” So Elia told him all about her date, as he added a few details about his own, and after a while she was laughing about her own date, and she did feel better.

“So what would you like to have talked about on your date?” Elia asked, pulling her feet up against the chair, holding her knees close, before remembering she wasn’t home and looking at the waitress, who only gave her a nod. Jaime seemed deep in thought, and she took three spoonfuls of ice cream, one of each flavour, before answering.

“Not sure. Normal stuff, like what I talk about with Brienne – she’s not hot or anything, so I won’t date her. But she’s good to talk to, you know. We may not always agree, but she fights me, and likes most things I do.”

“You shouldn’t judge only by her looks.”

“I don’t. I consider her my friend, after all.”

“So what do you talk about?”

“Sports, mostly, but I’m sure that doesn’t interest you.” It doesn’t, but she didn’t like people to make assumptions about her. “I like theatre, actually – nobody talks to me about it… besides my little brother.”

“That’s really cool. I never acted, I don’t think I would like to be in front of a crowd. But I read plays.”

“I did Sweeney Todd for Christmas. And we’re still trying to decide the one we’re going to do next.”

“Ohhh… Sweeney Todd – that story is awful. Who did you play?”

“Judge Turpin.”

“Really?! You’re too young, and…”

“… handsome,” he said, flashing her a grin. “Yeah… my brother said the same. But we’re mostly teens, so there weren’t many choices.”

“What would you like to do something?”

“Shakespeare. It’s not like I’ve read any, but they are classics and it would be so good for my application if I had that to put in.”

“They’re great. Not just Romeo and Juliet either.”

“I know. I think I would like to do Anthony and Cleopatra. I saw the movie years ago – my sister loves that kind of movie. It reminds her… yeah, she likes them.” Jaime added the last part so quickly, she almost didn’t catch it.

“Are you talking about the Elizabeth Taylor one? That’s not actually an adaptation from the play. You do have someone – there was one by BBC around the time we were born.”

“My brother said that too, but I chose to ignore him.”

“How old is your brother?”

“Ten.”

“And he reads Shakespeare?!” she said surprised; only Rhaegar started reading Shakespeare that early as well.

“He doesn’t do much besides reading.”

“But he does seem like an interesting boy.”

“He is. He’s…” Jaime was about to say something, when the ice cream lady interrupted them.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but we’re about to close.”

“Ohhh… of course,” Elia said immediately, embarrassed that she had forgotten what time it was. They left the ice cream shop, and the night was still quite warm for January, nothing compared to what would be in Dorne, but still… Somehow, once again distracted by their conversation, she followed him to his car.

“Do you wanna ride home?”

“Jaime, you live here. It would be completely out of the way.”

“You know you should take the offer, I’m never this nice.”

“I don’t want to bother you.”

“I’m having fun, aren’t you?” The truth was that yes, she was having fun, like she hadn’t in a while, at least with the male gender.

“Yes.”

“So we’ll keep talking in the car. Get in,” he insisted, entering the car and waiting for her – she followed suit.

The drive was comfortable. He kept her talking most of the time; sometimes mostly he talked, since she was getting rather tired. When they finally made it to King’s Landing, the topic changed to school, which Jaime didn’t seem to like very much, since he was trying to changed it back again. Before she knew it, he was parking at the front of the Red Keep apartments, but she didn’t leave the car, turning to him.

“So we’re here,” Jaime pointed out the obvious.

“I had fun tonight,” she admitted, and Jaime was looking at her weirdly. She wished she could read his mind. Not sure what to do, and not wanting to leave, she unbuckled her seat belt, still looking at him. Before she realized what was happening, Jaime had fully turned to her and moved in to kiss her, and she leaned in as well.

She had never kissed anyone besides Rhaegar, and this wasn’t the same; Jaime wasn’t as gentle, and less experienced, but it still felt good. She had never admitted it, but she missed kissing someone, feeling someone’s touch (his hands firmly around her waist).

“Why did you do that?” she asked, when they pulled back.

“It’s not like you stopped me. You kissed me back,” he said, getting defensive.

“I know,” she said calmly. “I just wanted to know why you did it.”

“I had a good night, tonight – fun, with a girl that cared about more than my sister’s position, or money. And you’re sexy.”

People didn’t call her sexy, Rhaegar called her beautiful, but not sexy.

“My situation is complicated…”

“Because of the star boy.”

“Rhaegar…”

“Rhaegar is with Lyanna Stark,” Jaime said, but he sounded surprisingly like Ashara.

“I know. What if tomorrow afternoon, you come over for lunch with Ashara and I?”

“A threesome, or something,” he said laughing.

“Just lunch.” And maybe some kissing, she thought.

“Okay. I think I can do that. I’ll text if something comes up.”

“I’ll cook Dornish food.” Jaime gave her a disgusted look. “There’s no chance for this to work out if you don’t give Dornish food a chance.” He smiled at that. “Your sister is not invited,” she told him.

“Yeah. Speaking of her, I’m sure Cersei is wondering where I am.”

“Ashara too. So see you tomorrow.” Once again she didn’t know what to do, but he leaned forward and kissed her, and she kissed him back. “Tomorrow…” she whispered when she pulled back, and got out of the car. She walked to her building and entered, going up the stairs, until she reached her floor, and unlocked the door.

The room was dark, the only light coming from the TV. She came closer to the couch, and noticed two bodies sleeping – she supposed the other girl was Ellaria – and she turned off the TV.

“I was watching that,” Ashara whispered, opening her eyes.

“You’re awake?!”

“Waiting for you. Ellaria was keeping me company; she must have fallen asleep,” she said, getting up from the couch, being careful with Ellaria’s head that had been on her lap. “You took longer than expected. Did the date turned out better after the phone call?”

“No,” she answered as they went into the kitchen, and Ashara got herself a cup of water.

“So what made you take so long? I was getting worried.”

“I went out for ice cream, and kind of ran into Jaime Lannister.”

“Lannister?!”

“Yes. We got to talking…”

“Right…”

“…And we kissed outside…”

“You kissed Jaime Lannister?!” she exclaimed rather loudly, before dropping her voice. “Jaime Lannister?!

“Yes. And I invited him for lunch tomorrow.”

“You invited Jaime Lannister for lunch?!”

“Are you going to repeat everything I say?”

“Am I going to repeat everything you say?” she said, with a cocky smile. “But really I’m serious. Jaime Lannister?!”

“Yes. And Ellaria can come for lunch too. Double date?!”

“So it’s a date…” Ashara said, before picking up her hand immediately. “Okay, we need a sleepover. Put on your pyjamas, I’ll be in your room when I’m ready.”

“And Ellaria?” Elia asked, and Ashara pulled out a piece of paper and a pen.

“Two minutes.”

Elia got into her room and changed into her pyjamas, and sat on her bed, ready to tell everything that happened tonight to her best friend, and maybe, just maybe, figure out the mess her mind was right now.


Robert Baratheon

Robert hadn’t been on a real date for a very long time; most of his meetings with girls during the last months had been finding someone in a bar and then disappearing into the bathroom.

He regretted agreeing to this date by now. This was nothing like it was with Lyanna; he never had to take her to a fancy restaurant (actually she would punch him if he did that). This girl kept up a rather forced conversation with him, talking about nothing that could ever be interesting.

He thought about leaving the damn restaurant while the girl was in the bathroom. He just didn't do it, because Catelyn had arranged it, and he didn't want to make her mad.

Really, it was fully Catelyn’s fault that he was here. She had arranged this date, and she was the one that made him want to go in this stupid date in the first place.

He had been okay with just meeting the girls at bars, and fucking them in the nearest place available – it was better than powering through the entirety of this dinner and still not getting sex in the end. But Catelyn told him she knew this great girl that thought he was handsome; he should have guessed that her friend wouldn't put out. Catelyn and Ned had been dating for two months and he knew his friend was not getting any.

But he missed Lyanna, and it hadn't been just sex with her. They would talk and do tons of stuff together that didn't involve sex, like running, sports, fighting with sticks and playing games (sometimes they did that naked). And for a while Ned filled part of that void. He talked with Ned as easily as he talked with Lyanna, and they hung out – sure, it's not like he and Ned read comics in each other’s arms, but it was enough of a substitute. And then Catelyn came into play – sure, he was happy his friend finally had a girlfriend, but Ned stopped spending as much time with him, and more with her, and now Robert didn't have anyone to talk to.

So it was Catelyn's fault that he tried to find someone else to talk to. But he knew he wouldn't ever find someone like Lyanna – there were no girls like her. So he would get sex while he waited to get her back – because she would be back, she would realize the silver haired shit didn't care for her like he did.

So that's why he managed a smile when the girl joined him at the table again. Complaining she was full, while her plate still had food on it – Lyanna would have eaten everything, he wanted to say. Lyanna always ate as much as he did, and she barely gained weight. Even when she did, she didn't mind (neither did Robert) but she would burn it off quickly – she would bring him along and they would run. Running helped keep Robert in shape too, something he only noticed after she left; he was gaining weight now, not enough to be considered fat, but still something. Some girl had mentioned it when they were making out, and he pushed her off the bed and told her to get out – only after, he realized that it was her home, and he left instead.

“Robert,” he heard her call, and his attention was back on the girl in front of him. “Are you listening to me?”

“Of course, but could you repeat that?” The girl giggled at that, and asked him about what he planned to do after high school. It was an annoying question; he didn't like to think about this. But he would probably do business or law, some job that would help with his parents' company, and that was what he told her.

“Ohhh... a family man – I see why Catelyn likes you. Any brothers?”

“Two younger brothers.” And neither does much, he thought.

“I wish I had siblings. Catelyn seems to have so much fun with hers. How old are they?”

“One is one year younger than me, and the youngest ten.”

“You must be close with the middle one. That’s a small age difference.”

“Not really,” he answered. She seemed to want him to develop his answer, but he didn’t really want to.

“And your parents?”

“They are my parents. They have been away for the week in Essos, coming back tonight.”

“Shouldn’t you be there to welcome them back?!”

“We had already agreed on the date. They were actually supposed to get back yesterday, but the plane had problems, so they are travelling in today. My brothers are there, I’ll see them when I get home.”

“Are you sure that’s okay? If you had explained that, I wouldn’t have minded postponing for next week.” Really, maybe he should have done that, not that it was that big of a thing to wait for them. He used to do that when he was younger, but not anymore. He would get home and see them, at breakfast tomorrow morning or before.

“Catelyn had planned this.”

“Right, Catelyn. She has high hopes for this.” Ohhh… Catelyn… why are you giving this girl false hopes?

“Catelyn – I don’t think she actually told me how you know each other.”

“I’ve already told you,” she answered, a bit annoyed. “Same neighbourhood, same school as kids.”

“Sorry. Slipped my mind. Where do you go to school?”

“At the Riverlands. Public school. You played against my school sometime before Christmas.”

“We won, hopefully.”

“Yeah… my friends are calling me a traitor for agreeing to go on this date.”

“So why did you?”

“You look very good, Robert. And I found out Catelyn knew you personally. So one thing led to the other.” He smiled at her. From the way she was talking, he considered that she may have sex with him tonight, but all the other signs said the opposite – her clothes and appearance, her gestures, but her voice gave him hope.

“You look good too. Pretty, very pretty.” But he still liked Lyanna better – her toned body, her short height and long hair in a ponytail. But the girl didn’t look bad, with dark hair too, but taller than Lyanna and with a bigger chest. Robert was trying to think of anything else to say when his phone rang.

“Sorry,” he said, taking it out of his pocket. Not recognizing the number, he rejected the call.

“Maybe you should take it,” she told him after the third consecutive ring.

“No, it’s an unknown number. Probably publicity or something,” he answered, but the phone rang again. This time it had caller ID – his brother, Stannis. “Okay, maybe I’ll take it. It’s my brother.” Robert couldn’t remember, when was the last time they had called each other? He accepted the call, turning his head from his date.

“What do you need, Stannis?” he whispered. “I’m in the middle of a date.”

“Robert…” He heard his youngest brother’s voice.

“Renly?! What are you doing with Stannis’ phone?”

“You need to come here…” Renly said, before he heard some kind of noise, like dropping something.

“Sorry, are you Robert Baratheon? Oldest son of Cassana and Steffon Baratheon?” a female voice he didn’t recognize asked.

“Yes, I am,” he said confused, trying to muster a smile for the girl in front of him, looking worried.

“This is King’s LandingHospital. You should come here.”

“Why?! What happened?”

“We’d prefer to talk in person.” The woman didn’t seem to budge, and luckily Robert was in King’s Landing so it wasn’t far.

“I’ll be there in 20 minutes,” he told the lady, before disconnecting the call. “I’m sorry, but I need to go,” he told his date, while taking a few bills from his wallet. “I need to go to the hospital, something has happened.”

“Do you need company?” she asked, standing up as well.

“No. Finish your meal,” he said, pulling on his coat before walking to his car.

He entered his car quickly and started it. Maybe because he was too nervous, he couldn’t get his car working on his first try, only on his third. He got out of the parking lot, and drove to the hospital, following signs since he didn’t know the way by heart. Parking was hard when he arrived, but he finally found a place before running inside.

“My name is Robert Baratheon – I got a call saying to come here,” he said when he reached the hospital entrance. The receptionist looked over some papers before telling him which floor he should go to, and that someone there would explain what happened.

He paced in the small elevator while an elderly couple holding a pair of balloons looked at him strangely; at the same time, neither the doctor nor the nurse spared him a look. When he got out of the elevator, he looked around, and noticing what looked like a table where he could ask for information, he went in that direction before he felt a pair of arms bump against him and circle his waist.

He looked down, and instinctively rested his hand on his head. Then he noticed it was his youngest brother; and looking up, he noticed Stannis coming over to him, looking grimmer than usual.

“What happened? Why is Renly…?”

“Didn’t you see the news?” Stannis asked.

“I was on a date, Stannis. The restaurant had a TV, but it was on some movie.”

“Come with me,” Stannis said, and started walking. Robert followed him, still holding onto Renly, who was having trouble walking, and Robert could now hear hiccups.

“Come on, Stannis. Tell me what’s going on? Renly is crying for God’s sake.” And before he knew it, he was in a waiting room full of people, some pacing or holding each other, and sitting with their heads in their hands. And then Robert noticed the TV – Breaking News: plane from Pentos crashes at the King’s LandingAirport. There were images of the accident; there seemed to be firemen everywhere trying to put the fire out. “That was Mom and Dad’s plane…”

Renly, hugging him tighter, gave him the answer.

“Yes, it was. Mother is under operation.”

“And Dad?”

“I was told he died on impact. They didn’t take him out of the plane before it went up in flames.”

Robert couldn’t believe it. He looked over the closest place to sit – he needed to sit down. All the places were taken, so he dropped onto the floor, resting against the closest wall.

His dad was dead… Dad was dead… Robert didn’t know how to process that… only last week he had been with his dad. Only last week, his parents were being disgusringly sweet together. Robert wasn’t supposed to lose his father this early. His parents were only supposed to be gone after he was an adult and had his life figured out – not now.

And thinking that Mom could die too…He wanted to ask Stannis if he knew anything about her state, but he wasn’t brave enough to ask. Renly was next to him again, holding onto his arm, and he whispered something but Robert couldn’t understand. Stannis was still up, against the wall as well.

Robert stayed in the same place, waiting for news. He saw the doctors come in, some people crying relieved for the safety of their family, and then other families crying for the loss of their loved ones. Robert was getting more scared at the notion that there wouldn’t be good news for his mother either.

He had lost part of his family today, probably losing another; and he needed family to hold onto. He looked at Renly and Stannis, but they couldn’t do it; it wasn’t them he needed, so he took his phone and called Ned. But Ned’s phone was turned off. Robert still tried calling two more times, but nothing changed – Ned was still not there.

So he held onto Renly, as it was the second best option (actually the fifth – but one didn’t answer the phone, another died, another was lying on the operation table, and the other hadn’t had a real talk with him since the summer). Stannis looked absently at the screen and the people around, but the three looked up when someone entered the waiting room, calling:

“Cassana Estermont Baratheon.”

Robert and Renly stood, while Stannis started walking to the doctor, and Robert followed, resting his hand on Renly’s shoulder.

“We are her children,” Stannis said.

“Is any of you eighteen? I should…”

“There’s no one,” Robert intervened roughly. “Just tell us.”

“I’m sorry…” the doctor started. “We were too late to be able to save her. She died on the operating table of…”

Robert couldn’t hear anything else. Renly was fully crying now, hugging his waist, and he took him away, while Stannis stayed and finished listening to the doctor.

The people in the waiting room were now looking at them, some people close by gave up their seats for them; Robert helped Renly sat down, and then looked down to the chair next to it – one look, two looks and a third look, before turning his head to the door.

“Please, don’t go,” Renly whispered, holding onto his wrist as Robert turned to the door. But he couldn’t stay… his mother was dead somewhere in these halls, and he couldn’t deal with that right now. So he shook off Renly and walked out of the waiting room.

“Where are you going?” Stannis asked him, stopping him. “You should take us home. It will make Renly good to sleep home – give him some normalcy.”

“There’s no normalcy, Stannis. They’re gone.”

“I know, but we should still go home.”

“I’ll be here in the morning to pick you up, and we’ll go home then,” Robert said, and left his brothers at the hospital, with the promise to come for them in the morning.

Out of the hospital soon enough, he made it to his car. This time it took even more tries to get it opened and working – not being able to see in the state he was in.

King’s Landing was full of bars, places where he could get drunk, but instead of looking for the closest one, he drove closer to the airport. There was still smoke coming from the lanes, and he noticed a bar. He parked the car, and entered the bar. Most people were talking about the accident, some seemed to be workers at the airport, and they asked him if he was one too; he ignored the question, and started by ordering a beer.

But while he started with a beer, he ordered more and more, especially as more people came in, still talking about the accident and how they were now taking the unrecognizable bodies off the plane. That was when Robert started asking for hard liquor as well, having to show his fake ID to get his vodka, whisky and tequila. But today that was numbing nothing – he needed something to hold onto.

He tried to dial Ned once again, to avoid doing anything he would regret, but Ned’s phone was still dead, and he got no answer. So Robert wanted to behave tonight, make his parents proud for tonight – they could probably see him now from heaven. What would they say about him leaving his brothers alone? And drinking this much? Maybe he just should stood up and go to his brothers. But the girl taking a seat next to him stopped those thoughts.

“Have you seen the accident? Of course, you have. Who hasn’t? I had a friend in there, you know?”

“Okay…”

“Fuck. It makes you really wonder about your life. We could die at any moment, you know. I get on one of those planes every day.”

“Do you wanna feel alive?” Robert asked, not looking up from his drink. ‘

The girl smiled at him, and said, “This bathroom doesn’t work for that.”

“My car is just outside…”

“Great,” she said, before turning to the bartender. “We’ll be back in a few. Keep our seats.”

“You know, if the boy runs – you’re paying for him,” the bartender warned, but he didn’t give her too much attention – probably, the girl had done this before.

They didn’t take long in the car, it didn’t take him long to cum, but the girl insisted that he get her off too. But sex wasn’t enough today, he didn’t feel better or anything – he still missed his father and mom, and those weren’t really the thoughts he wanted to have when he was fucking someone.

“Thanks for that,” the girl said. “I really needed to feel alive.” The problem was that Robert didn’t feel alive – he felt dead, like he didn’t belong here anymore.

As he left the car, and went back to the bar, ordering another double whisky, he dialled Ned again.

“Come on… pick up…” he pleaded, but nothing came though. He tried two more times, before he absent-mindedly looked through his phone. A contact called his attention. He had ever used it, but he had gotten it from Brandon, and he knew it was safe – Brandon had used it a ton of times. So he called that instead.

“Yes??”

“I got this number from Brandon Stark. I’m a friend – Robert Baratheon.”

“The Baratheon boy, I know who you are. Great game last week.”

“Thanks. I was wondering if you have any shit to sell.”

“Firstly, my stuff is not shit. And I do have some weed, just got a new batch from Highgarden.”

“I was looking for something stronger,” Something that would give him a rush – just what he needed.

“I have pills and I still have coke – but not the stuff Brandon normally gets.” Robert had never tried coke with Brandon, he knew he normally did that with Ash Dayne.

“Do you have any heroin?”

“I do. But that will be more expensive.”

“I can pay.”

“Yeah, old money – no shit.”

“I don’t carry that around, but I’ll get it. Are you in King’s Landing? I can go meet you, if not, move your ass to the capital.”

“I’m in a bar near the airport.”

“I think I know it. Have the money ready in half an hour,” the man said, before turning off the money.

“Is there an ATM nearby?” Robert asked the bartender.

“Sure. Five doors up.”

“Thanks,” he said, dropping at the table enough money to cover his drinks.

He left the bar and walked up the street as he had been told, and found the promised ATM machine, and easily got the money he needed. He went back to wait at his car. Once there, he tried Ned again – knowing it was the right thing. He would stop if Ned picked up the call and just call off the deal. But he still didn’t pick up.

A half an hour later, he saw a car stop, so he got out, and the men approached him, calling him by name.

“I brought you a clean needle too, it’s an extra thirty for that.”

“Sure.”

“Do you know how to shoot, or should I do it?”

“I know,” Robert lied. Sure, he could do it, after watching all those movies.

“Okay, if you say so.” The man gave him a bag, and Robert gave him the money. “Thanks,” he said, after counting it. “It was a pleasure doing business with you. You have my number if you ever need anything else.”

Robert got back to his car, and locked the doors. Looking inside the bag, he found a spoon too, besides what the dealer had already told him about. He knew how this went. He took the lighter from the glove compartment, he put a bunch of the heroin in the spoon and let it melt. After that, he tried to find a way to put it back in the syringe. He remembered seeing someone use cotton in a movie, so he tried looking inside the bag again and found some. It took him quite a long time to get everything ready.

Robert had pushed his sleeve up, tied his shoe laces around his arm to make the veins pop, and was now looking at the full needle. Before he did it, he gave God one more chance – if he wasn’t to do it, He would stop him – so Robert called Ned again, who once again didn’t answer, and then he gave God one more chance, and dialled Lyanna. He hoped she would pick up. She was better than this, and it would be a sign from God, that he had a chance; but she didn’t pick up, and he could tell she had turned off the call.

So he put the needle into his vein, and pushed down the plunger, and he saw it go in. The feeling was instantaneous, and he felt so good, he had never felt this good, not once in his life. He felt like he was on the top of the world, that nothing bad could ever happen in the past, present and future, he felt warm… He just felt capable of falling asleep.

Chapter Text

Eddard “Ned” Stark

 

“Ned... Ned...” Ned heard a voice call. He turned a few times, but the voice persisted. “Ned, you need to get up.”

“Dad… what’s going on?” Ned said sleepily, opening his eyes. “It’s…” he said, trying to read the clock.

“I know, son,” his father said, sitting on the bed. “But I got a call. Can you get dressed really quickly?”

“Yes, I think so,” Ned said, rubbing his eyes.

“Okay, meet me downstairs. I need to get dressed too.” Ned said, getting up; his father was still in his pyjamas too.

“Don’t turn on the lights, please.”

“Okay, son.”

“Dad, is anything serious?”

“Just get dressed, son.”

“Is Brandon…”

“He’s in his bed, Ned. Just get dressed.”

Ned was still worried. If Brandon was in his room… but Ned hadn’t asked about Lyanna – what if it was her?? Ned knew his father would tell him when he got dressed. Ned took his jeans from the end of the bed, and looked for a sweater in his wardrobe. He finally found something that didn’t feel bad.

“Dad,” he said, leaving his room, his eyes still semi-closed because of the light in the hall.

“In here, son. Do you want something to eat?”

“No, thanks. What happened?”

“I’ll tell you in the car. Or maybe you can sleep for a bit… Maybe that’s better.”

Dad wrote down a note for his siblings, Ned read over it. It said to call his cell phone when they woke up, confirming that him and Ned would still be gone in the morning.

“Dad, please just tell me what’s going on?”

“Maybe you should sleep for a bit in the car.”

“Dad, I won’t be able to. I’m stressing about what’s going on.”

“Okay, son. If you think that’s better. But we should start going. We still have a long way to go.”

“Where are we going?”

“King’s Landing.”

Ned listened to his father’s answer and tried to figure out, what could be in King’s Landing at this time of the night. Maybe it wasn’t bad. They could be picking up someone from the airport – like Mom’s family. With the time difference between here and England, maybe they could get in this late. But his father didn’t look happy, though this could be because he had barely met Mom’s relatives when she was alive.

Ned walked to the car, and got into the passenger seat. He could see his father’s hands trembling.

“Do you want me to drive?” Ned asked.

“No.”

“You don’t seem okay, Dad.”

“Ned…” his father started, turning on the car and backing away from the front of their house. They hadleft the street before he continued to speak. “Ned, I got a phone call tonight, I picked up on the third call, and I wish I had picked it up earlier.”

“Who called, Dad?”

“It was from the King’s LandingHospital.”

“But you said Brandon was home. Is it Lyanna? I thought she didn’t go out yesterday.”

“It’s not them.”

“Benjen?! He’s home, right?!”

“Your siblings are okay. It’s not them.” Dad took another deep breath. “They were calling on behalf of Renly – he asked them to call.”

“Renly?!”

“Did you talk to Robert tonight?”

“No. I had my phone turned off when I was with Catelyn. I had a bunch of missed calls, and I tried calling him back and I texted him, but I got no answer.” Ned was confused by this, like he had been about Robert’s calls; he knew Robert had the date with Catelyn’s friend last night.

“Did you see the news?”

“Yes, we caught it after the movie. The accident was awful.”

“Robert’s parents were on that plane.”

“Are his parents…?” Ned started. He needed to get to King’s Landing, he needed to be there for Robert, right now. It was already bad enough that he hadn’t picked up his phone earlier – he should have been there, and he had been closer then.

“I didn’t get a call because of his parents, Ned,” his father said, not letting him know if Mr and Mrs Baratheon were alive or not. “Robert had a drug overdose last night, Ned. They found him quickly enough, and took him to the hospital, but there was still no news about his state when I got the call.”

“Robert is…” Ned couldn’t believe it. He had missed a lot of calls from Robert. If he had picked up, Robert could still be here. “Do you think he will be okay?”

“I don’t know, Ned. I hope so…”

“Is it my fault, Dad? He called me a million times and I didn’t pick up.”

“Hey… it’s not your fault. Robert just needs you to be there now, in case he wakes up.” In case he wakes up, his father said, not when he wakes up. What if he didn’t wake up? Ned couldn’t imagine a world without him, and he didn’t want to imagine or live in that world.

“What can I do to help him, Dad?” Ned whispered. He really didn’t want to cry right now.

“I don’t know, Ned. Let’s just go to the hospital,” his father said, turning back to the road.

Ned turned his eyes to the window. They were still in the North and the roads here were awful – it would take them a while to get out of the North, and only then could they have a smooth ride. Ned feared that something would happen to Robert while he was in the car.

“Are they going to call you if anything changes?”

“The nurse didn’t say anything about that. They found our home number in the yellow pages after Renly gave her my name.”

“Ohhh…” Ned said, taking his phone out of his pocket and looking for Stannis’ number. He made the call. The phone was disconnected, but Ned still left a voice mail, asking him to call back or send a message with updates on Robert. He didn’t put it down after the call, but looked at the missing calls – Robert had called him so many times, and Ned hadn’t picked up even once. He had failed. He could have just turned on his phone after the movie, and then he would have picked up, and Robert wouldn’t have had an OD.

Ned still didn’t know what he took. His friend didn’t do hard drugs – he just smoked weed. Ned knew Brandon did coke with Ashara a few times; maybe Robert did that too. But a hard drug, alone, enough to overdose – it worried Ned. Maybe Robert would actually do something now – stop drinking as much, and smoking, and go out less. His parents would request it probably. He knew his mother was worried, but Ned wasn’t even sure what state his parents were in after the accident.

Do you have the number of the girl Robert went out with? Ned texted Catelyn. Maybe the girl would have some information about Robert and what happened.

“Ned,” his father called, putting his hand on his shoulder. “Do you need anything?”

Ned didn’t answer him; he just kept looking at his phone, hoping that Catelyn would answer, only then remembering that it was the middle of the night and she was sleeping. He could call her and wake her up…

“Should I call Catelyn to ask her for Robert’s date’s phone number? It may help.”

“We should get to the hospital first. She probably knows nothing. Let Catelyn sleep.” He listened to his father, so he put his phone in his pocket again, and laid his head against the window. He alternated between looking at the road and the clock. The time went slowly, slower than he wanted. They spent more than half of the time just in the north, and when they entered the Riverlands region, the roads were much better.

The sound of the radio filled the car as they approached the city after hours of travelling. His father had to stop to look for directions to the hospital, which was hard at this time of night. But they finally found someone who helped them to the hospital.

After they parked the car, Ned didn’t wait for his father. He just left the car and quickly walked into the hospital.

“Hey, sorry. You called my father about Robert Baratheon,” he said to the man behind the front counter.

“Stark, right. Rickard Stark.”

“Yes,” his father said, coming into the building and resting his hand on his son’s shoulder.

“Robert Baratheon is on the third floor, room 326.”

Ned made it to the elevator with his dad, and rode until they reached the floor. When they found the room, Ned took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. Inside, the two youngest Baratheon brothers turned their head to him.

“Ned,” Renly called.

“How is he?”

“He hasn’t woken up. The doctor doesn’t know when he will,” Renly answered. “You can sit with us.”

Ned took another look at his father, who sat outside.

“I’ll be here if you need anything,” his father told him.

Ned took his seat next to Renly, resting his hand on Robert’s leg.

“The accident… your parents?” Ned asked them, and this time Stannis spoke for the first time.

“They died. Our father in the crash, and mother on the operation table. Your friend was irresponsible as always, and left us alone after the news, to go out drinking as always,” Stannis said firmly.

“Stannis, please…” Renly said, looking down at the floor and playing with the sheet.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Ned said. He would miss them too. He came over so often to their house; their parents had become like family to him and his siblings too.

“Thank you, Ned,” Renly said, pulling his legs up to his chair.

“Don’t do that,” Stannis said, but Renly ignored him, and kept hugging his legs.

“Do you think he will wake up?” Renly asked Ned, and he turned to look at Robert, who had an IV connected to his arm. Ned felt scared, but he was the oldest one.

“I really hope so, Renly. I know he’s trying to wake up – he wouldn’t leave you, especially after what happened.”

“You know that’s not true, right? He doesn’t care about us. He has been depressed since your sister broke up with him.”

“This was not Lyanna’s fault, Stannis,” Ned told him. But Ned knew part of it was right. Robert had been drinking much more since Lyanna broke up with him, but it wasn’t his sister’s fault. But it could be his. If he had picked up the phone, he would have stopped him. “And Robert does care for you,” Ned said, turning to Renly – the kid needed this today. “Both of you.”

“Thanks, Ned,” Renly said, pulling back again, hugging his legs, and letting his head fall to the side, before picking it up again. Renly’s eyes were almost closed too, and then they would open again, still fighting sleep.

“You can sleep for a bit, Renly,” Ned suggested.

“But something could happen.”

“Your brother and I are okay. We would wake you up.”

“Stannis should sleep too…”

“I don’t need to sleep. Someone needs to be responsible here.”

“You can sleep, Stannis. I’ll still be here, and I would wake you both.”

“There’s no need for that.”

Ned didn’t push Stannis anymore, and just turned to Renly.

“Okay, but you can sleep; as you see, there will be two of us awake. Do you want me to ask the nurse to bring a cot into the room?”

“No… I can sleep in the chair.”

“Okay,” Ned agreed as Renly found a comfortable position to sleep in. He ended up lying his head on Ned’s lap.

With Renly asleep, there was nothing to do but look at Robert lying on the bed. Ned tried to reach for his information at the end of the bed, but he couldn’t without waking up Renly.

“Can you pass me Robert’s information?”

“We’re not supposed to read that,” Stannis answered.

“I just want to know what’s going on,” he whispered.

“You can ask,” Stannis said strongly, and Ned waited for him to say something else.

“So can you tell me anything about Robert’s state?”

“No. There isn’t any news about it. They pumped his stomach, and now we have to wait until he wakes up,” Stannis said. “You know he tried to call you, right? Right after we got the news about Mother and Father. Where were you? He has told me enough times that you’re a better brother than I.”

“I was on a date with Catelyn – I had turned off my phone,” he admitted. “And I know I should have been there, Stannis… and Robert does care for you.”

Stannis didn’t even give indication that he heard what Ned had said, and continued doing nothing. And Ned laid back, his hand was on Renly’s arm (much like he did with Benjen when he fell asleep). Renly looked a lot like young Robert, when he first met him, even if Robert had been younger then than Renly was now.

Ned asked himself again how it had come to this. How did jolly, brave and energetic Robert end up in a hospital bed? How did it end with Robert alone, and Ned with a girl? The world had turned around and Ned couldn’t process it, not anymore.

Ned didn’t sleep properly that night, drifting in and out of nightmares. He would wake up to Robert screaming, only to open his eyes and still find him quietly sleeping. Stannis must not have slept either; every time Ned opened his eyes, he could see Stannis’ dark blue eyes. He was properly awoken when his father came into the room.

“Your brother just called me,” his father told him, and looking at the clock, Ned knew that a call this early could only be Benjen. “He’s going to wake up Brandon and Lyanna to bring them here.”

“You’ve been outside this entire time.”

“I have,” he said, resting his hand on Ned’s shoulder.

“I’m really sorry for your loss, Stannis. Your parents were great people. Anything my family can do, don’t be afraid to ask.”

“Thank you,” he said, shaking Rickard’s hand. “Now that you’re awake, I’ll go get something to eat, and use the bathroom.” Stannis stood and left the room after that.

“Do you want anything to eat?” his father asked, taking Stannis’ seat.

“Do you think he will wake up?” Ned asked, ignoring his father’s question

“I certainly wished this was as easy to fix as his scratches, or the bruises. But he’s a strong boy, Ned, he will wake up.”

“Did any doctors come by?”

“No, but I can go ask.”

“Thank you, Dad.”

“Food?”

“Not now.” His father left after that. And Ned sat with Renly, since the other Baratheon brother was still gone.

His father stopped by a few minutes later, telling him that they wouldn’t talk to a non-family member, and that they would need an adult Baratheon family member or social services was coming.

It was one hour before Stannis came back. He was wearing his jacket. Ned hadn’t even noticed him taking it.

“Where’s your father?”

“I don’t know. He should be outside, but if not probably in the cafeteria or the bathroom.”

“I need to talk to him.”

“Just wait, he should be back soon.”

“How do you know he will be back soon if you don’t know where he went?”

“I suppose he will be back soon. He would have warned me if he planned to take longer.”

“Okay,” he said, sitting down back on his chair, and standing up immediately moments after when Ned’s father came in, with food for Ned and Renly.

“Sir, can I speak with you?”

“Of course. About what?” But Stannis didn’t answer until they were outside, and they stayed there for a while.

It was while he still waited that his phone rang, telling him he had a new message. He was able to get it from his pocket without waking up Renly, and saw that the new message was from Catelyn.

I do. Why do you need it?

Forget I asked, Cat. Talk to you tomorrow

Are you okay? He could tell she was getting worried, but he didn’t want her to.

Of course. Just tired. Talk tomorrow. He turned off his phone, thinking he couldn’t talk to her anymore without feeling guilty. He did not blame her, she had let no one down, but Ned had because he had been with her.

Ned opened one of the sandwiches Dad had left, and the yogurt too, and started eating, letting a few crumbs fall into Renly’s hair. The kid was still sleeping, but he moved more now, and once in awhile Ned would think he was finally waking up. But that didn’t happen until mid-morning, when the rest of the Stark siblings entered the room.

Ned heard running outside the room, and when it stopped he looked up and saw Lyanna frozen by the door, tears quickly coming to her eyes. And instead of going to Robert, she went to Ned first, yelling.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?! Why wasn’t I here earlier?”

“What’s your relation to Robert? I see here his brothers, and his best friend,” Stannis stated. Lyanna ignored him, and moved towards Robert. She sat on his bed, held her forehead and whispered something. And at the same time, Renly finally sat up, awoken by Lyanna’s yells.

“Good morning, Renly.”

“How is he?”

“The same,” Ned let him know. “You have food there if you want.”

“Bathroom first.”

“Yeah, me too.” Ned stood with Renly and they left the room to use the bathroom. Ned noticed Benjen and Brandon coming into the hall.

They found the bathroom, and they did what they needed to do quickly enough, and after washing their hands, they went back to the room.

Renly immediately went to pick up his food, but Ned looked at the picture. Lyanna didn’t seem to have moved, except for her hand, which washolding Robert’s very tightly. Brandon stood behind her, his hand on her back, and Benjen had now moved to sit next to Renly, both of them quietly talking.

“Ned,” Brandon called, looking at him at the door, and Ned made a sign to follow him outside. “I’m so sorry, Ned. I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” Brandon told him.

“I didn’t pick up the phone last night when he called me.”

“It’s not your fault, Ned. You need to know that,” Brandon said.

“I wanted to talk to you about something else, actually.” Brandon nodded. “He overdosed last night, and it’s not like he had very contacts in that type of world. And I know you sometimes do stuff – did you ever give him the number?”

“I did.”

“Can you give him a call? Ask him what Robert bought, and stuff like that.”

“I’m not supposed to ask those questions. He’s not supposed to talk about other clients, and with an overdose involved…”

“Just try, please. I can give you money to pay him if you need.”

“Okay. But I can’t promise anything.”

“I understand. Thank you, Brandon,” he said, giving his brother a quick hug before leaving him alone to make the call.

Back in the room, nobody had moved Lyanna away from Robert, and Stannis still looked at her disapprovingly, but never said anything else. His father had left again, and Ned saw him calling numbers on a long list. Benjen still sat with Renly, and it was obvious that they were making each other feel better.

“Did you eat anything before leaving the house, Benjen?”

“I did. But neither Lya norBrandon ate anything – wait… Brandon took a yogurt, but he’s probably still hungry.”

“I’ll go pick up some food for them,” he told his brother, before eyeing his sister. Benjen nodded, getting the message that he should look after her.

So in the cafeteria he got two sandwiches, two sodas, and at the vending machines he got two bags of chips and three chocolate bars – that should be enough to hold them for a while, he thought. Back in the room, he traded looks with Brandon as he gave him the food, and Brandon shook his head and whispered.

“He couldn’t tell me anything. He didn’t even confirm if he was the seller or not. Sorry, Ned, I really tried.”

“I understand. It was a long shot. But still, thanks…” Ned thanked him, and leaned onto the arm of the chair Brandon was on. “How is she?”

“She hasn’t moved. She’s just been there whispering things to him. Stannis seems a bit pissed about her staying here.”

“I know. But I don’t want to move her yet. You know she will move away when she’s ready.”

“Or she will get hungry in the meantime and leave the bed.” Ned hoped that it would happen sometime soon.

It didn’t happen soon, but it did happen about an hour later; she got out of the bed, after kissing Robert’s forehead, and whispering something else in his ear.

“I heard you had food,” she said, finally acknowledging the other people in the room and rubbing her bloodshot eyes. Ned pointed to where he had left it; there was only a sandwich that Ned had been able to save from Brandon and a half empty bottle of water. She opened the bottle and sat down next to Renly took a gulp and a bite of the sandwich. “I haven’t seen you in a long time,” she told him.

“I know. You never come over anymore.”

“Sorry, kiddo. Your brother and I…”

“I know… adult stuff...” he complained, and Lyanna pulled him closer, ruffling his hair, making Renly laugh.

“Ohhh… where are your parents?” she asked, looking around. Ned had thought his father had told Benjen; Ned looked at his father and the other people in the room. “What’s going on?” Lyanna asked, noticing the looks everyone was trading. Nobody was brave enough to speak, until Stannis spoke.

“They both died last night in the plane accident.”

“Mr and Mrs B…” she whispered, standing up. “Really?! I’m so sorry…” she whispered again, leaving the room. Ned followed her, but didn’t step closer, as he saw her taking her phone from her pocket and dialling a number. “Rhae, it’s me.” He heard her say. “Can you come to the hospital?” Another silence. “No, I’m okay, I promise. I just really need you right now,” she said, holding the tears in. “Thank you.”

She turned off the phone and turned back to the room, and noticing Ned, she ran to him, once again crying.

“I’m so sorry, Ned… It’s my fault.”

“Hey, it’s not your fault, Lya. Sure, he was sad and heartbroken, but you didn’t inject the drugs into him.”

“But I…” Ned picked up her head, so she looked at him.

“Not your fault, Lya. Do you understand – NOT YOUR FAULT?” he said carefully, highlighting every word – she needed to understand this.

“But…”

“No buts, Lya…” he said, and she hugged him closer.

“Thank you.”

They went back to Robert’s room. Lyanna sat on Brandon, and Ned on his chair’s arm. Father was talking to Stannis, so they listened in on the conversation.

“You have a few family members on your mother’s side who said they could take turns with you. But there was a better answer. The professor in Oldtown said he could take you – Cressen, you didn’t mention the family relation.”

“He was either my mom or father’s godfather, not sure.”

“Okay – that would be a good option. You like him?”

“He’s good – responsible and educated.” Father nodded at that and continued, while Ned looked at Renly, and the boy shrugged his shoulders at the name Cressen.

“He offered to move to your house, but he can’t do it until mid-February. He has a break from school then.”

“Okay. What should we do until then? Do we need to contact child services?” Stannis asked.

“I thought you could stay with us. We have extra rooms and beds in our house,” Dad offered.

“If it isn’t too much of a bother.”

“Of course, it isn’t. Like I said, we would do anything for your family.”

“Thank you,” Stannis said, shaking Father’s hand.

“Yes, thank you, sir,” Renly said from where he was sitting with Benjen.

“You can sleep in my room,” Benjen suggested. And Ned knew that they would just spend the night talking more than sleeping.

They all stayed in the room, even when the nurse came in to tell them that there shouldn’t be seven people in a hospital room. They did shifts when it was lunch time, and other times when someone was hungry – Dad would pick up some snacks.

Lyanna left for about one hour too, during mid-afternoon. When she came back, she looked a bit better, more at peace, (and smelling like Rhaegar). Ned didn’t particularly like Lyanna coming from Rhaegar with Robert lying on the bed, but he said nothing.

“Why aren’t you calling Catelyn?” she asked when she came in and sat close to him.

“I turned off my phone.”

“Stupid, she’s worried. You didn’t even tell her about Robert.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Ned admitted, and Lyanna slapped him over the head.

“You call her before you go to bed or you’re in trouble,” she threatened.

Ned took notice of her threat, so while he didn’t think he was ready to talk to her, he made every intention to text her tonight.

It was 6 pm when another nurse came in and said that visiting hours were almost over, and that they could only let two people stay. The nurse looked at both Baratheon siblings when he said this.

“I’m not staying,” Stannis said. “I should go to school tomorrow. Trying to go on as normal. I also have to start arranging the funerals.”

“I can do that,” Father offered.

“I’ll do it,” Stannis said, standing up. “You can stay, Renly.”

“I will.”

“Do you want to stay, Ned? I was already going to suggest that you came here tomorrow morning – you can miss one day of classes.”

“Really?! Can I come too?” Brandon asked.

“No.”

“And me?” Lyanna asked.

“And I,” Stannis muttered, correcting her.

“No. Only Ned is staying – you two, three are going to school,” Father gave the final word. “So are you staying, Ned?”

“Yes, I will stay with Renly.”

“Okay. Good. You’re coming with us tonight, Stannis. Would you prefer to go get some of your clothes at home? Or do you think you can use Ned’s for tomorrow? Your sizes don’t differ that much.”

“That would be acceptable.”

It was 6.30 pm when they finally left. Everyone said their goodbyes, and Lyanna made Ned promise to call Catelyn before the night ended. And of course, that they would call if Robert’s state changed.

Renly and Ned were now alone in the room with Robert. A nurse came in and offered them a cot (he couldn’t get them too); each of them sat on each side. Ned left to get food for them, and they both ate in peace, with Robert still sleeping, but it wasn’t for long.

Robert first opened his eyes a few minutes after they had finished eating. He didn’t speak, but he moved his hand, and called to both boys’ attention.

“Robert!!” Ned exclaimed, immediately touching the button that called for the nurse.

“Brother!!” Robert tried to answer, but wasn’t able to.

“His throat may be a bit dry,” the nurse said, coming in with a cup of water, and trying to feed it to Robert, who took it carefully. “How do you feel, Robert?” she asked. “You’ve got a full house during most of the day.”

“Better,” he answered, with a hoarse voice still. “What happened?”

“Do you want me to explain, or you can do it?” she asked, turning to Ned. “Patients usually prefer hearing these things from family and friends.”

“I can do it. Will the cops…”

“Tomorrow morning. He should rest a bit more today. I’ll bring some food for him,” the nurse finished, before leaving.

“You overdosed last night, Robert.”

“After we heard about Mom and Dad,” Renly said. “Do you remember?” Robert nodded, sadly.

“I’m sorry I didn’t pick up the phone,” Ned admitted, and Robert reached for his hand.

“Not your fault,” Robert told him, like Ned had told Lyanna much earlier. “My fault. I’m sorry… Sorry, Renly…” And Renly took the moment to hug his brother, disconnecting his IV without meaning to.

“Ohhh… I…” he said holding the IV. At that moment another nurse came in, and connected it again.

“Don’t worry about it, boy. Just be more careful next time. Your brother shouldn’t need it much longer,” he told Renly, before putting a tray in front of Robert. “Robert, you can try to eat now.”

“Sure, I’m hungry.”

“He never had any problem eating,” Ned said. And Robert started eating – it was mostly soft foods, that wouldn’t hurt his throat or stomach.

“Okay, you finish eating. And then you must still be tired, so you should sleep a bit more. Tomorrow will be a long day for you.”

Robert ate in silence, and his mind seemed to be working, probably wondering about tomorrow and what awaited him. The nurse came in to take his tray and told Robert that he should sleep. Robert was honestly tired, so it wasn’t hard for him to fall asleep, but before he asked.

“You’ll be here in the morning, right?”

“Of course. We’re spending the night here, and we’ll be here in the morning.”

Robert closed his eyes, and Renly did the same soon after, taking the cot, but Ned was still awake. He found a good position in his chair, and turned on his phone again. Lyanna had been right. He had multiple missed calls from Catelyn, and some text messages (she did know about Robert). He still didn’t know what to say to her, so he didn’t call her, but texted her instead.

Robert is okay. I’m sorry I didn’t call, he texted, and a few seconds after that he texted again. I was stupid.

After this message he realized he forgot to call his family and Stannis, so he called home. It was past bed time, but Father still picked up the phone.

“Stark house. Rickard speaking.”

“Hi, Dad. Just wanted to let you know that Robert woke up.”

“How was he?”

“Okay. He has a notion that he shouldn’t have done this, and he ate and everything. He’s now asleep again.”

“Ahhh… that must be good. I’ll tell your siblings and Stannis if any of them is still awake.”

“Do that. The police are coming tomorrow. Do you think he needs a lawyer or anything?”

“No, I don’t think so. But we’ll see. Just call me if you think it would be advised.”

“Okay. Thank you, Dad. And good night.”

“Sleep well, son.”

Ending the call, Ned found his place on the chair again, to get ready to sleep for a bit, but there was an alert for a new message in his phone, so he opened it.

Don’t be stupid again. Kiss Robert for me. We’ll talk tomorrow

He did not kiss Robert for her, but he patted his hand, and told him that Catelyn sent her love, before closing his eyes for a restless sleep.

Like the previous night, he didn’t fully sleep, closing his eyes here and there, but the sounds in the hospital kept him awake, and also the fear of Robert getting worse. Ned fully woke up and got up at 6 am. Knowing how both Baratheon brothers liked to sleep late, he took his time to go to the bathroom and buy some food at the cafeteria and vending machines, before going back to his room.

He ate in peace, leaving the rest for Renly, and waited for them to wake up. The nurse stopped by a few times, asking if the patient was awake yet. It was a new nurse, he hadn’t seen her over the weekend. She warned him if he didn’t wake up soon, she would have to wake him up – the police were coming soon.

“You have thirty minutes,” she said, before leaving the room. Ned waited twenty minutes before waking up Robert.

“Robert, wake up,” Ned said, shaking him a bit.

“Ned… what’s going on?” he said, opening his eyes.

“You’re in the hospital, don’t you rememb…”

“I do. Sorry, forgot for a few seconds.”

“How did you sleep?”

“Okay, I guess. But I’m kind of hungry right now.”

“The police are coming. Do you want to eat before they get here?”

“Nah… I think I can wait. They won’t take long, right? Will I be in trouble?”

“I don’t know,” Ned answered honestly; he had no idea what they wanted with him. “I should wake up your brother. We must leave before the cops are here.”

“Okay. Thanks for staying, and looking after him,” Robert thanked him.

“No problem. Just worry about getting back on your feet,” Ned said, standing up and going to the cot where Renly was sleeping. “Renly… you need to wake up.”

“Mom, just a few more seconds…”

Ned laughed before remembering that he could never get his mom’s honest answer to that anymore.

“It’s Ned, Renly. Wake up,” he said, shaking him again. Renly opened his eyes, and looked up at them.

“Ned… what time is it?”

“Time to wake up, little brother,” Robert said from the bed.

“Robert!!” he exclaimed, getting up and running to his brother. “You’re still awake. I thought it had been a dream.”

“Nahh… I’m up, kid. But you need to go with Ned, now.”

“Ohhh… okay,” he said, leaving Robert.

“Do you want to go to the cafeteria to eat? I bought food, but we can eat that later.”

“Cafeteria sounds okay,” Renly said. “Bye, Robert. We’ll be back in a few.”

“I’ll be here, kid. Ned.” Ned left the room with Renly, and noticed the cops already outside.

“We’re going down to the cafeteria for awhile. Do you know how long the police will take?” Ned asked the nurse, the same one that had come to the room earlier.

“Not sure, but I think the doctors want to talk to him too. So maybe take one hour, just to be safe.”

“If something happens…”

“We’ll call immediately,” she promised him.

Ned took Renly to the cafeteria and they stayed there for a while. The room had quite a few people: not so many doctors or nurses, but more people like him. Ned ordered toast and a bottle of chocolate milk for Renly, and they took their places together at the table.

Mid-meal, someone approached Renly. It was an older woman staying at the hospital for her son and daughter-in-law. She had noticed Renly and his brothers the previous night while they all waited for news about the accident.

“I’m sorry about your parents, son.”

“Thank you,” Renly said.

“We wish the best for your son and daughter-in-law,” Ned added.

“They’ve always been strong.” The lady left after that, and Renly went back to eating his breakfast.

“What do you think can happen to Robert now?”

“I don’t know. We will see… but nothing too bad I’m sure.” Ned wasn’t that sure, but he didn’t want to worry Renly even more.

While they dragged out breakfast the most they could, after half an hour none of them could stand being in the cafeteria anymore, so they went for a bit of air outside. They didn’t go very far away from the hospital; they just walked the grounds so they could stretch their legs, and look at the sky.

It had been a bit over 50 minutes when they decided to go back inside the hospital. They already knew the way to the room, so they moved freely without having to ask for directions until they got closer to the room and asked the nurse if the room was free to enter.

“Yes, the doctor and cops already talked to him.”

“Has he eaten?”

“Yes. I took out his IV already – he seems to be hydrated now.”

“Thank you,” Ned said, before entering the room. Robert was still in bed, laying against the wall, with a few flyers in his hands. “So how did it go?”

“Good news. I’ll be able to pee alone soon – they are taking out the caterer and the bags and stuff.”

“And the cops?” Renly asked.

“They asked a few questions. But I’ll probably only have to pay a fine or do some community work.”

“So nothing too bad…” Ned tried to reassure him, and Robert nodded. “And those flyers…”

“Renly, would you mind waiting a bit outside while I talk to Ned? It’s nothing bad, I just want to discuss it with him first, I’ll talk to you right after.” Renly looked down, nodded sadly,and moved out of the room, to sit in the chairs outside.

“What’s going on?” Ned asked, and Robert motioned for him to sit closer and gave him the flyers. Ned looked down and saw they were mostly for rehab centers.

“After the police were here. The doctors came and they brought a shrink with them. Since I had an overdose, they had to check on my background and stuff. I totally didn’t mean to kill myself; I was trying to numb the pain, and since I never did that before – I messed up the doses.”

“Okay – I’m really sorry I didn’t…”

“Not your fault. Don’t worry,” Robert told him again. “We talked a bit more. While we totally reached the conclusion I’m not addicted to drugs, drinking was another thing. I’ve not been that good these past months, and this was just the final straw.”

“But you’re young…”

“It doesn’t mean that it’s forever. But like, they advised me to stop for awhile, and that it would be better to check in into one of these things.”

“You want to do this?”

“You know, Mom and Dad would want this. I know they are… were worried about me and the drinking. Mom sometimes took the bottles out of my room, but I always got new ones.”

“You need to do this for yourself.”

“I am. And since I have the money it would be good to do this with professional help. I would be doing a 20 days plan in the institution, and then AA. I still need to talk to the school, to see if I can do it and not lose a year.”

“I’ll bring you notes and stuff, and you can study in your free time. And then Catelyn and I can catch you up in anything else you need.”

“Thanks.” Ned quickly hugged Robert after that. “You should call Renly back in. I need to tell him the news.”

Robert told him about his plans to register for rehab, and Renly took it rather well.

“Where are you staying? Can we go visit you?”

“Sure, I think I have the right to visitations. I’m thinking Oldtown, it’s the best place in Westeros, and I don’t really wanna leave the state.”

“Please don’t. Oldtown is good. Professor Cressen lives there.”

“Cressen?”

“Ohhh…” Renly said, realizing nobody had told him. “He’s coming to look after us. Ned’s father and Stannis called a few family members, and he was the only one that could, even if it’s just in February.”

“Where are you staying until then?”

“With Ned,” Renly said smiling.

“So my brothers get to live with the Starks and I don’t,” Robert complained. “You’ll do good there,” he told Renly. “Your father, as my honorary guardian, should inform the school, shouldn’t he?”

“Professor Cressen probably has to give the final conformation, but they will trust my dad. And there will be paperwork to handle too, about your guardian.”

Ned took out his phone to text his father about this new information and to call the school; Father immediately promised to do that, and gave his best wishes for Robert’s treatment and for him not to worry about this side of things.

The nurse came in a few moments after, asking if she could take a few of the wires, including the catheter and the bags.

“Do you want to leave?”

“They can stay,” Robert answered.

“Okay, just go to the other side of Robert.” They moved. “This may hurt.” She started pulling something, and Ned could tell it hurt by Robert’s face, even though he was trying to distract himself.

“So you like what you see?” Robert asked, grinning.

“Kid, I’m very happily married. With two kids and one kid on the way.”

“You’re pregnant?!” Renly exclaimed excited. “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“We don’t know yet.”

“Do you have any preference?” Ned asked

“We have two boys already, so a girl would be good, but we wouldn’t mind a boy either.”

“Ohhh… two boys – you don’t seem old enough to have two kids,” Robert commented, Ned prepared to knock him on the leg, but the nurse stopped him.

“Don’t do that. Keep it for later,” she said. “My husband and I married early and we have two beautiful boys.”

“Can I feel your belly?” Renly asked.

“Good move,” Robert said, winking, while Renly blushed.

“You can just after I finish with your brother.” She continued working on Robert under the sheet. She quickly finished and put everything away, including her gloves. “You should try the bathroom now.”

“I’ll help,” Ned offered, and helped Robert stand while Renly touched the nurse’s belly.

“I can’t feel much.”

“It’s still too small. Willas and Garlan say the same – those are my kids.”

“Funny names. How big will your belly get?”

She showed him the size using her hands. Renly asked something else after that, but Ned had already left the room.

Ned helped Robert into the bathroom, but once there, Robert made sure to do the rest alone without any major problems; and when they moved back into the room, Renly was already alone in there waiting.

Robert got back into the bed, and they sat around, they continued talking and laughing. Ned felt like Robert wanted to get some conversation in before going to the rehab center.

The psychiatrist that had been with Robert before came in and took some information so he could sign in into rehab. He chose the Oldtown place and agreed to leave tomorrow.

Renly and Ned left them alone, so they could get more food. They took it up with the rest they already had, and ate with Robert and his hospital food.

“Robert, it seems you have another visitor,” the nurse said, coming into the room. “She’s not the same girl as yesterday, according to the other people on the floor. How many girls do you have?” she asked smiling.

“Just a friend of his,” a very familiar voice said. And Catelyn entered the room. “Hi, everybody!!”

“How are you feeling?” Catelyn asked Robert, kissing him on the cheek.

“Better. Have you met my youngest brother? Renly, Catelyn.”

“Ned’s girlfriend,” Renly said.

“I guess the word about me got around,” she said laughing and hugging the youngest kid before finally going to Ned.

“Hi.”

“Hi. I’m sorry about yesterday,” he apologized.

“We will talk about that later,” she said, sitting on the arm of his chair and kissing the top of his head. “I brought my notes from class.”

“Thanks. But shouldn’t you be in class?”

“The teacher excused us, and I talked to Varys about skipping the paper today.”

“So people know about my problem?”

“Yeah, but you may be upstaged.”

“What upstages an overdose?”

“Elia and Jaime started dating.”

“What?! Elia Martell and Jaime Lannister!!” Robert exclaimed.

“Yeah. So you see why people are not paying as much attention to you. But a few people are coming over – Lyanna is arranging a group.”

“I don’t… Can you ask Lyanna not to come?” Robert asked.

“Are you sure?” Ned asked. The way she was yesterday, she was really hurting. She would want to see him breathing and alive.

“Yeah. If I need to heal, I should do it properly. I don’t blame your sister, but she’s one of the causes I’m hurting.”

“Okay, I’ll text Lyanna,” Catelyn said taking out her phone. “Healing?? What do you mean?”

“I’m going to rehab for twenty days. For alcohol, not drugs. Ned promised that you would help me catch up if needed.”

“I will,” Catelyn smiled. “Are you coming to class tomorrow?”

“Mid-morning. I’ll see Robert off first.”

“Okay,” she said smiling, before softly dropping into Ned’s lap and pointing to her legs and Robert’s bed.

“Sure,” he nodded; and she put her legs on top of his bed.

“So Renly, how’s school going?” Catelyn asked, and the youngest Baratheon brother started speaking.

They stayed like that for a while. Renly was doing most of the speaking, but everyone seemed happy about that. Catelyn felt good and safe in his arms, and Robert smiled.

Soon it would be time for the rest of the Starks to arrive, and the friends to come as well; Catelyn could stay no longer, so she said goodbye to everyone, kissing Ned on the lips, and hugging Robert, who whispered something to her. Ned didn’t know what he said, only that it ended with:

“Look after him. He has the tendency to worry.”

Chapter Text

Rhaella Targaryen

Rhaella woke up as she did every morning around 6.00 am, relieved that her husband's hand was still safely on hers, and that he looked peaceful sleeping, like nothing haunted his mind. But Rhaella started to notice other small things as well, like how long he had let his hair grow, by his chest now, and that it lacked the silver beauty of before (not that hers had kept that young beauty either); and since Aerys didn't trust anyone with a scissor or nail clipper close to him, and she couldn't trust him to not get hurt if she gave him one, so now he also had longer nails than the normal lenght.

She pulled his hand to her lips, kissing the back of it before getting up. Looking one last time at his peacefully sleeping form before the reality sunk in.

As it did, she took the baby monitor from her bedside table, turned it on, and put it on the highest shelf, high enough that he wouldn't notice, but it still picked up sound. It was the best solution – the only way for her to keep an ear on him as she showered. Most times he wouldn't wake up this early, but since last week – … it's better to be safe than sorry.

She picked the other end of the monitor and left their room; firstly she looked into her youngest children who were still sleeping. Only after that she walked outside to turn on the gas in the house – they had decided to turn off the source every night, since Aerys seemed to have a fascination with gas and fire.

Only last week, Aerys had woken up as she showered, and tried to make breakfast – Rhaegar found his father with his hand on the stove (luckily only minor burns, nothing serious). So the night after that event, she took the baby monitor from Daenerys' room, and started using it in theirs. She still left the nursery door open , but she was a quiet baby – not as quiet as Rhaegar (but no baby could be as quiet as him) and not as noisy as Viserys (the reason for getting the baby monitor in the first place – a good middle term between her other two children).

Finally in the bathroom, she turned on the water and let it warm up until it was hotter than it should. Climbing into the bathtub, the scalding water burned her skin, she closed her eyes and let the water wash over her face and hair – cut short now, since Aerys liked to pull on her hair, which used to hurt her. She stepped out of the jet of water, but still letting the water run, and washed herself with soap before stepping herself under the water again – washing reality away for a little while.

Stepping out of the tub, she looked at herself in the mirror – she didn't like how she looked. It wasn't the marks of age that bothered that much, or made her body unpleasant to her (certainly she didn't like them either), but it was the marks of the husband and life she had lost – the scars and bruises on her arms and chest had replaced what used to be a fair skin that sometimes had love marks from Aerys' sweet caresses.

She heard the ruffle of the sheets, and then small noises as she was tracing one of the newer bruises on her body. The noise brought her out of her haze, and she immediately pulled her robe over her back.

Aerys was not properly woken up when she got into their room, but he already had his eyes half opened. She changed into her clothes, getting her underwear and a simple pair of jeans and a blouse.

"Hello, love," she whispered, taking a seat next to him on the bed, and holding his hand. He fully opened his eyes, to the sound of her voice.

"Rhaella…" he's okay, he remembers me…

"Hey, it's me. I was thinking of getting breakfast ready – what do you want?"

"Hot…?" he asked.

"Toast?" she suggested, and he nodded. Aerys left their bed, and still dressed in his pyjamas – sweatpants and a shirt – something he would never get caught on before he was in this state. He would always shower and change to a suit or something equally formal before breakfast.

They moved downstairs to the kitchen, and she started on preparing the toast; Aerys sat quietly at the table, he murmured to himself about something she couldn't hear – but as long as he wasn't hurting himself or others, she didn't worry.

"I'm making Viserys' toast with chocolate. What do you prefer with your toast?" Aerys didn't answer; he didn't even acknowledge the question. "Your oldest likes jam and butter better. What do you think Daenerys will like better?" No answer. "Surely chocolate when she's younger, but maybe white chocolate instead. Even jam, but sweeter than Rhaegar's favorite – maybe she'll like strawberry or cherry – you used to like those, maybe I can check if there's some in the fridge." Rhaella put slices of bread in the toaster again and went to check the fridge for more only found Rhaegar's jam – tomato – and an orange jam that Elia had offered it to them over the Summer, when she came over after spending a few weeks at her home, in Dorne.

"I don't have sweet jam. Only Rhaegar's," she said, going back to the counter, and taking these slices of bread from the toaster and putting in two new ones. "So do you know what you want?"

"Butter," he answered.

"Okay. Butter, it is." She prepared her coffee – she liked it with milk and sugar – and then Viserys' milk with a spoonful of chocolate powder, and Aerys' with a spoonful of honey, while the three mugs were heating up in the microwave, she poured milk in a another mug for Rhaegar.

Everything was ready when Rhaegar came downstairs dressed and holding both his siblings.

"Good morning, Mom," he said, kissing her cheek, after putting his sister on her chair at the table, and Viserys letting go of his hand. "How's Dad?"

"He doesn't seem too bad today. He actually answered me when we were talking about breakfast."

"That's good." He smiled and moved away from her, taking his place at the table.

Rhaella joined soon after, bringing all the toast she had prepared, including the jam, butter and Nutella from the fridge. It seemed like a normal breakfast, Viserys sat next to Aerys, and he was more responsive than other times, sure sometimes his answers didn't quite fit the questions, but at least he was talking, interacting with someone that was actually there.

"Are you sure you don't want me to stop by during lunch to pick up Viserys?" Rhaegar asked her mid-way through breakfast.

"There's no need, I can take him." Viserys only had a half school day today, since something was happening with the fourth graders and the other grades got the morning off, so Rhaegar was excused from driving him to school this morning. "If anything comes up, I'll call you."

"Okay, Mother. If you can't reach me on my phone, call the school."

"Yes, son. Now finish your breakfast," as she told Rhaegar, she fed Daenerys her bottle; and made sure that Viserys didn't make too much of a mess of himself.

After a rather good and healthy meal, with a kiss on his mother's cheek and also his father's, Rhaegar was out the door.

Rhaella worked on getting everyone ready: changed Daenerys' diaper and dressed her ina new onesie; she wasn't dumb enough to dress Viserys already with his school clothes so a nice sweatshirt and sweats were good enough; and Aerys in a long-sleeved shirt, but still keeping his pyjama bottoms.

Today, after she got him dressed, he didn't need to sleep more, or need anymore of the pills Rhaegar had gotten for him; so Aerys did what he did on his good days, and went to his home office (free of any harmful objects and the door no longer had a lock – you never know when his good days turn bad.)

So Rhaella went to the kitchen, thinking that today would be a good day to bake a cake, and after it was in the oven, she sat down on the kitchen's floor to play with Viserys. He had the blue car, while she had the red one and they raced around the table (a number infinite of turns).

"Be careful," she warned Viserys for the thousand time as he raced past his sister, sitting in her play pen.

Rhaella was a bit behind on the race and took another turn looking into the chocolate cake in the oven.

"Mom! You're getting behind."

"Sorry... I'm coming, son." She smiled and ran after him. Two more turns and the house bell rang. "Stay here, Viserys," she warned him. She left the kitchen and walked to the main door, hearing another knock.

"I'm coming," she murmured to herself as she was near. Finally she pulled the door opened; on the other side there was a woman in her mid-twenties holding hands with a toddler, she immediately recognised her as one of her tenants from the Red Keep Apartments.

"Mrs Targaryen, if I could please speak with you." It wasn't the first time this same lady was here, and she already knew she didn't need to request Mr Targaryen.

"Yes, please, Mrs Clegane. Why don't we leave young Sandor with my children." The child was young, but nobody could name him small – younger than Viserys, but clearly bigger. She took Mrs Clegane to the kitchen, where she dropped of her child with Viserys and Daenerys.

"Viserys, stay here. And call me if your father leaves the office," she asked her son, who nodded.

Rhaella usually took her tenants to the office, but since Aerys was in there, she took her to the living room, they sat across from each other, and then Mrs Clegane spoke.

"I'm so sorry of having to ask this again, Mrs Targaryen. But we can't make the rent in time this month. My husband got less money this month, and my son – not Sandor – Gregor broke a few things at school, so we had to pay for it. And it's been hard… and there was Christmas, and we got something special for our children – not counting how bad this month has been, so we don't have many savings. And…"

"And, you can pay me when you have the money." They didn't open these exceptions many times, but she trusted the Cleganes – they always paid; and the first time she asked to pay the rent later, Tywin Lannister backed them up, saying they were trustworthy.

"Thank you so much, Mrs Targaryen, and to your husband as well."

"No, problem. I don't want you to worry. And food, do you have…"

"Ohh… we do. Without paying the full rent this month we can afford the food we need."

"That's good. Worry about feeding your children, and yourself first – you can always come to us."

"Thank you so much, Mrs Targaryen. I don't know what to say."

"Don't worry, girl," she reassured her again. The young woman always reacted like this, surprised that they were helping her one more time.

"Does it smell weird?" the woman on the other side of the table asked curiously, and stood up; and then Rhaella smelled it too – her heart started beating faster, as she took off running into the kitchen. Please, let it just be the cake burning, it has been in the overn for too long… just the cake…

It was partly the cake. Only partly.

Viserys wasn't there – she thought she caught a glance of him running in the hallway. Daenerys and Sandor Clegane were still in the kitchen, and so was Aerys. He was not looking like he did before; he was talking, and waving his arms, touching the fire like it was nothing.

Rhaella ran inside the room, she yelled for the younger woman to stay behind. She wanted to run to her own child and husband first – but Daenerys seemed okay, and Aerys would take longer; so she went to the boy.

The boy wasn't crying, but his hands were burned – he must have touched something (but with so many things burning she couldn't say exactly what); she took him to his mother and told her to call 911. She pulled Daenerys away from the kitchen as well, quickly checking her and not seeing anything wrong with her – probably just smoke inhalation.

And then she faced him. Aerys was in the middle of the fire, the cake was thrown on the floor, the oven was still on – the flame high; and his shirt burning as he waved his arms, inadvertently setting more things on fire.

"Love, can you come to the sink?" she said with a soothing voice, not wanting to provoke him.

"No! Fire is protecting me! Fire protects me!" he yelled. "They're going to hurt me. Fire is power."

"Nobody is hurting you," she said, eyeing the sink – she was close, and there were cups in the dryer rack. She moved as carefully as she could, even if she wanted to run. Aerys was still talking to himself, or at least to something that wasn't there – yelling about the people or things that were coming to take him; so with his back to her she filled a cup with water and threw it in his direction.

"No! Fire is my protection," he yelled. "No! You bitch," he yelled again, as she threw water over all the places burning. And then he jumped on her.

Things were still burning behind them, but they weren't close enough to hurt him even more. And while she was safe from the fire, she wasn't safe from him. His nails were strong enough to leave marks on her face, and she tried to hold his face in place, trying to make him look into hers, to see if he could recognize her, and come to his senses.

But he didn't, he kept fighting her – she would have scratches, and bald spots from all the hair he as pulling, and more bruises in the morning. Just when she thought if he didn't stop soon there could be some permanent damage, he fell on her.

The paramedics had sedated him. They helped her up, and when she left the kitchen Viserys rushed to her. Daenerys was being checked and they told her that she should be okay, but that they would still run a few tests when they got to the hospital, just to be sure.

The crying woman held her son, as the paramedics looked at her son's hands that looked like raw meat.

She climbed in the ambulance with her children still with her, and she held Aerys' hand tightly, as he lay unconscious. She ignored every request to clean her scratches and concentrated all her strength on him.

It was going to be hard, and soon everyone would know that their former mayor had problems – she could hear the people say that he belonged in a loony bin; people questioning his years served as mayor…

As they arrived at the hospital, they took him away immediately to treat his burns, and Daenerys to screen her lungs to search for any damages done by smoke inhalation. And then she was left alone in the waiting room with Mrs Clegane, who had her face in her hands, as her quiet sobs wracked her body from head to toe. Rhaella filled herself with courage and went to sit next to her.

"I won't sue or anything if that's what you're worried about," she whispered.

"No, I wasn't…" Rhaella hadn't even thought of that, with so many other things in her head. "And I can pay for all medic bills. And the rent-"

"We can pay rent, just not now. I don't want you to pay me to stay quiet," the woman said finally looking up. "But you shouldn't have stayed quiet. Your children were in that house, and that man could have killed them or you. Your children should come first." You're a bad mother were the words that Mrs Clegane actually wanted to say; as a mother, Rhaella should have put her children first; but as a wife and a lover, she had put her husband first, wanting to protect him from the world.

"I thought I could handle it…"

"Yeah… I won't make the same mistake…" Mrs Clegane whispered to herself, and Rhaella couldn't understand what she could mean.

Rhaella didn't stay there long enough to find out, and moved to finally call her oldest son. He should be on his lunch break now, and he picked up on her first try.

"Hi, Mom. It's a bit late, but I can still pick up Viserys and drop him off… if I leave now, and step on the accelerator."

"You don't need to. Viserys isn't going to school today."

"Why?!"

"Your father had an attack."

"Are Dany and Viserys okay? What about you?"

"We're okay. They're testing Daenerys for any smoke damage to her lungs…"

"Smoke?! Mom! I'm coming," he said, and she could hear him moved. "I need to see if she's okay. And you?"

"I'm okay."

"Mother…" he asked again.

"Just a few scratches and bruises. But your dad, he has burns…"

"Is he alive?"

"Yes, but…"

"That's all I care. Now I'm worrying about Dany and you," he told her. "I'm getting in my car. And Viserys?"

"He wasn't in the room. But…"

"But… did he see anything?"

"Not really. Mrs Clegane was there, she didn't let him see it. But her son was there too."

"Gregor or Sandor?"

"Sandor. He was in the kitchen with father – his hands, Rhaegar…"

"Is she going to press charges?" Rhaegar asked immediately, much like his father – he thought of political consequences.

"No, she isn't. But we're paying her medical bills."

"Okay. I'll see you soon." He turned off the call, without waiting for even a goodbye.

After a while, they told she could go sit with Daenerys for awhile, while they waited for the test results to come back. But everything seemed normal – her breathing was normal, and by the sound of it, her lungs seemed clean.

They were seated in a private room, and they told her that Aerys would be brought here too, after they finished cleaning his burns. She waited, playing with Daenerys' little fingers and she sat on the hospital bed while Viserys slept for a bit after the nurses brought him some food.

Aerys was brought to the room, at the same time Rhaegar walked in. Her husband had bandages all over his arms, where it had burned the most, the top of his legs weren't as bad, but they had burned a bit too.

"The burns aren't that bad," the doctor said. "He got lucky about that. The child in the room wasn't as lucky."

"When can he go home?" she asked.

"We're calling for a psychological consult. And we need the name of the meds you said he was on."

"I can get you that," Rhaegar said, following the doctor outside. She stayed and held Aerys' hand, laying their children next to him.

"You're going to be okay, Aerys," she whispered; she wanted to pull his hand to her to kiss it and keep it close to her chest, but they had tied him to the bed. "Is it really necessary to keep him restrained?" she asked as the nurse came in, but her oldest son answered.

"Yes. We don't know how he'll react when he wakes up." Rhaegar took a seat on the other side of the bed, he kissed Viserys on the top of his head, and rested his hand on his father's leg. "I'll stay with them, Mom. Go ask someone to clean your scratches and ice for your bruises."

"I don't need to. I'm okay."

"Come with me," the nurse said. "It won't take long."

Without any choice, Rhaella left with the nurse, in a small and quiet room, the lady cleaned her cuts, and gave her an ice pack for the bruises. The silence was judging her, she knew that the people were wondering how she could have stayed with a man who hurt her – after all the charities she had helped, to protect women, to fight domestic abuse.

She went back to her husband's room, his eyes were open, even if he was still sedated.

The psych consult came later that night, they had to leave the room, and the doctor stayed alone with her husband, who had held her hand tightly, asking her to stay. The first diagnosis was quick, and then words she didn't know were used to brand her husband.

"With this type of disease, it would be good for him to have permanent help. We can give you the name of some facilities that may help him."

"No. You can't take him. I can take care of him."

"No, you can't, Mom. I've believed you, but today was proof that you can't. There are people who can help him, Mother. A better place for him, with better care, prescribed medication and a therapist."

"He won't trust other people," she argued.

"Please, just give me the flyers," Rhaegar asked.

"We can give you the flyers. But since your father is not in a position to sign himself in, and you're still a minor – your mother needs to approve."

"Mother, please. It will be the best for him."

Rhaella looked at the room where her husband was sleeping, and to the waiting room where the children were – she needed to make a choice.

"You're not betraying him, Mom. You're helping him," Rhaegar whispered.

"Are there any places in the state? Good ones?"

"Yes, there's a big facility in Oldtown – very good. For now they don't have permanent openings, but your husband could stay three months, maybe a bit more."

"Visits?"

"You can come and visit him anytime. It will be good for him to have visits."

She looked again at Rhaegar, her son looked hopeful, and took her hand in his. And so she accepted the proposal.

"That will be for the best. We can talk a bit more tomorrow," the doctor said. "Also visiting hours are almost at its end – you should get ready to leave."

"Can I say goodbye?"

"Of course." Rhaella stepped back into her husband's room, while Rhaegar got his siblings.

"I'm going to leave for the night, okay? I'll be back tomorrow to come and see you." He didn't answer her, but he did squeeze her hand back. Viserys came and hugged him goodbye, while Rhaegar held Daenerys' tall enough for her to kiss Aerys, and then Rhaegar kissed him on the head too.

They left the building together, and drove home; Rhaegar took charge of dinner, and Rhaella retired to her room – their room. She missed her husband, it was hard sleeping alone – it wasn't the first time, of course, he travelled a lot when he was a mayor, but now it would be permanent – it wasn't like he was coming home in two nights.

She lay in bed, the smell of the sheets calmed her, but she still felt empty when she tried to look for his hand and found nothing. And she didn't fall asleep until Rhaegar thought it would be a good idea to lay Viserys and Daenerys with her.


She was driving down to Oldtown, Aerys had moved there yesterday afternoon after spending the night at the hospital, and the journalist had followed him there, the news was out. Paparazzi had followed Aerys' move yesterday, they had been ready in Oldtown to receive him with flashes and questions.

The place in Oldtown was huge, they had different buildings, dealing with multiple situations, and everything looked good – new and clean. Part of the place was run by members of the church, mostly septas and septons from the old state religion.

She parked the car, and left it, holding her daughter close to her chest; the paparazzi seemed to have camped out at the front of the building, and she was showered with questions immediately. Once again, she didn't answer any and entered the building, greeting the receptionist and moving up to the floor where her husband was.

It was the last floor – the fourth one – there were people everywhere; nurses walked from place to place, checking if anyone needed help, and then there were the patients.

They had told her the day before that she just needed to search for her husband, he would be on this floor. The first place she looked was his room, everyone here had to share their room (even if you had been the mayor) – the place was full and they weren't giving away single rooms (if she wanted that, she would have to leave the state, they had told her); and then each room was coded with a symbol at the door – her husband was one of the first rooms, marked with a tree.

At this hour, the three beds were empty, so she left the room to check the rest of the floor.

"Do you need any help?" a nurse asked her.

"I'm looking for my husband, Aerys."

"He must be in the media room. Have you checked there?"

"No. Thank you," she said, stepping away, before going back. "How did he sleep?"

"Not very well, but that's normal for a first night. We had to sedate him, he wasn't falling asleep and he couldn't let his roommates sleep either."

"Ohhh… okay. And the meds?"

"He took them well this morning, with breakfast. And he ate lunch by himself too."

"That's good. I'll go see him now." Rhaella stepped away from the nurse and went to the media room, where she found him – he was probably the youngest patient in the room – she walked his way, avoiding passing between the other patients and the TV. Luckily he had an empty seat next to him, so she took it, holding Daenerys on her lap.

"Hi, love," she greeted him, as their daughter tried to reach for him. "Do you want to hold her?"

He didn't oppose, and took his daughter carefully in his arms, Rhaella kept her eyes on him, making sure he didn't get distracted and let her go. Maybe someday, he could play with her again; if he got the right meds and therapy he needed maybe he could come back home, and talk with them, and be her husband and the father he used to be.

Aerys was still unresponsive, and she supposed it could still be the meds they had given him last night so he could sleep still having their effect. So they didn't converse but, she tried to tell him things about his daughter.

"Do you want to go for a little walk?" Aerys stood, and that was enough as an answer, she immediately took Daenerys from his arms. Firstly, she thought they could go outside, walk a bit through the garden, but she quickly changed her mind, thinking that maybe it wasn't the best for a first day; so they took at walking the floor.

It was a selfish thought, but the fact that her husband could still walk made her feel better. She saw the people sitting in their chairs, without being able to move, having to be helped to eat, but not her husband, his legs and arms were still strong and he walked easily.

She thought it did him good to walk like that As the afternoon passed, Aerys talked more, he still didn't make much sense, but he took to commenting about the other patients (Aerys had always been a bit judgemental).

For five minutes, Aerys commented on the woman lying on a bed, being pushed around by a man, who Rhaella assumed was the woman's husband. Without a filter, he mentioned the way her eyes were dead, and the way her head wasn't straight – she wanted to stop him from talking, before they heard him, but if she was too hard, he could… he could not react well.

She moved faster with him, so the man wouldn't hear him, and then they walked the rest of the floor; at least, until Daenerys started crying.

"I need to change her. I'll find you soon," she warned Aerys, before going to ask for directions to the quickly changed her daughter's diaper, and went to meet Aerys again.

She knew she would have to leave soon, since it still took a few hours to get to King's Landing, and since he was distracted again with the TV – it seemed he was actually watching, not just seeing – she kissed him goodbye, and promised to come tomorrow, and that in the weekend she would bring the boys.

When she left the building, there seemed to be even more journalists than when she arrived, they shouted questions, and strangely she heard Tywin Lannister's name as well. But she ignored the questions, and entered the car.

She had to stop mid-way, so she could feed her child, but after a longer time than she was used to driving, she got home. Rhaegar's car was parked in the garage, so she knew that he would have started dinner.

"How was Dad?" Viserys asked immediately when she entered, running to her.

"He's good."

"Can he come home now?"

"No, sweetie. You know he has to stay there."

"But I miss him!"

"We're going over on the weekend – so you can see him," she told him, before putting her things down. "Now take me to your brother. It smells like mac and cheese to me."

"It is! I convinced him to do it."

Rhaella walked into the kitchen, Rhaegar had his back to her when he greeted her.

"Thanks for making dinner. Do you think I still have time to give Viserys and Daenerys their baths?"

"Of course," he answered at the same time Viserys exclaimed, "I don't want to."

Rhaella was used to this, Viserys always complained, but once he got in the tub of hot water, he stopped complaining; then it was getting him out of the bathtub that was the problem, but the promise of mac and cheese was pretty much enough to get Viserys out.

Rhaella changed into more comfortable clothes, before coming down for dinner, and to finally saw her oldest son's face. Rhaegar's face wasn't pretty and clean as it usually was, he had a huge bruise forming on his eye.

"What happened?!" she exclaimed. "Did you get into a fight?"

"Mom, don't worry. I handled it."

"Was it Robert?" Steffon's son had been Rhaegar's girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, she could see the tension. Tywin Lannister had punched her own husband when Aerys had a temporary crush on Joanna

"No. Jaime Lannister."

"Tywin's son – why?"

"Mom, haven't you seen the news today?"

"No. I really don't want to see them talk about your father, telling lies."

"And they did lie, Mom. Tywin just got some extra points from the public, by pretty much saying he did all the work when Dad was Mayor," Rhaegar told her, at the same time he filled Viserys' plate with his mac and cheese.

"What?!"

"He said Father was already like that – not in so many words; but the journalists picked it up."

"Aerys left office before anything got like that. He never… he worked... for Pete's sake!"

"I know. So I punched the Lannister."

"Was he taunting you?"

"No, his sister was."

"So why did you hit him? I know you couldn't hit Cersei, but you could have talked with her. Did you?"

"No."

"So you just hit Jaime Lannister for no reason."

"I had a reason," Rhaegar argued again, before taking a bite out of the food on his place. Rhaella sent him a look, telling him this wasn't over and started feeding Daenerys.

They didn't have the time to talk again that night, and the next morning she got a call from a school that she needed to go see the principal – which she thought was ridiculous, since her son was almost eighteen – next Monday.

She got another phonecall on that same day, caller ID read Princess and she knew immediately who it was; she made sure her daughter was taking her mid-morning nap, and answered the call, moving to the living room.

"Hi."

"Hi, sweetie. How are you doing?" She had been saying that she was doing well to most people – after all people ask, but they don't really want to know – but this was different, this was her best friend (her still alive best friend, the only person that would listen to her).

"Bad… Worried. Everything seems to be happening at once."

"Do you want me to come up? We can have a sleepover like old times." There weren't old times anymore, they weren't young, and one third of the sleepover party was dead.

"No need. You have your own problems to deal with. How's Oberyn's little bundle of joy?"

"The baby is doing okay – healthy, and everything on track. And the baby's mama is nice too," she said. "So I'm free to come up if you want."

"No need, princess. Just stay on the phone a bit longer."

"Of course, Rhae. How are the boys taking it? And does Dany even notice that her father is gone?"

"Dany is still seeing him everyday, she comes with me to Oldtown. The boys are not so good – Viserys keeps asking about him. And I know Rhaegar wanted me to do this, but he actually got into a fight yesterday – he has never gotten into a fight before. I'm afraid it will set a bad example for Viserys."

"A fight with Jaime, right?"

"How do you know that?"

"Heard it from Oberyn, if I'm right it seems my daughter is dating him now."

"Jo's son?"

"Yes."

"Rhaegar told me it was about Tywin's speech."

"I'm sure it was. That was an asshole move, if Jo was still alive…"

"I know… I miss her, Princess. If she were here, everything would be easier." And before she knew it she was crying.

"Rhae… please… I will come to you."

"I miss him so much."

"I know. But he's still breathing, and he's getting help, right?"

"Yes, but…"

"Maybe he can come home, and you can be together again and be as nauseating as you used to be."

"Not as much as Tywin and Joanna…" she whispered between giggles, and Princess laughed too.

"Yeah… not as much as them. Now come on, I'll stay on the phone with you. And then if I think it's necessary, I'll come up."

"You should be there for Valentine's – keep an eye on Oberyn."

"It's not like he's going to get another girl pregnant; and maybe I could give Elia the talk."

"You already have. You know she and my son were already having sex too."

"Ohhh… shut up! You know I don't want to hear that." Rhaella laughed again.

"Thanks for making me laugh, Princess."

"Anything, Rhae. Not tell me about little Dany, and every new little things she's been doing."

And with that Rhaella started talking about her little daughter; her friend had been asking about her girl more and more lately, Rhaella knew she was a bit excited to be a grandmother (if not for the title, for the new baby in the house).

After all her kids were all grown up right now, since she had been the first to have kids (even if was the last to meet the father of her children, and not even the first to get married).

Rhaella couldn't ignore what she had told her either; it seemed that Rhaella's first grandchild would no longer be Princess' too, but maybe it would be hers and Joanna's – she would have like that, they always had an healthy competition between them. And she knew she needed to talk with Rhaegar about his, even if he didn't want to – she could understand his conflicted feelings about Elia and Lyanna.

They stayed on the phone through the entire morning, even while Rhaella made lunch, and at the same time, her friend sending away people from her office on the other side. In the end, they said goodbye when Rhaella knew it was time to drive to Oldtown again.

In Oldtown, things were pretty much like the day before. He still slept badly, but the nurse said that was normal. He still didn't look like he heard her, but he still walked with her. The man still pushed his wife on her wheelchair from one side to the other of the floor.

They sat together, and she tried to make conversation; but he was talking about cars, and something he had seen on the news; and then talking about danger again – nothing too serious, no aliens or fire, just danger.

And then they had a surprise visit – the Princess' daughter, her son's ex-girlfriend, Elia Martell.

"Hello, Mrs Targaryen."

"Elia!" she exclaimed surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"I just wanted to see how you were doing, and Mr Targaryen," she said, reaching to touch Daenerys' little nose.

"As well as it can be expected. But thank you for stopping by. I was just talking to your mother this morning."

"She's still doing okay?" she asked, as at the same time asked her if she could take Daenerys.

"Yes, she is. When was the last time you talked?"

"Not long. Monday, I think… I just worry sometimes."

"You're a good daughter," Rhaella told her with a smile. "And you'll be a good mother," she said looking at her child in her arms. "And I guess congratulations are in order, you're dating Jaime Lannister."

"Ohhh… yes. I did try to stop the fight just so you know, I never wanted any of them to get hurt."

"I believe you. If they are anything like their parents, they will get over it."

"I know, my mom has told me enough stories about you and them." Rhaella laughed, taking Aerys' hand. She remembered how Elia used to talk about the stories she knew when they first met, the only one she didn't know was the reason behind the name Princess. Rhaella told her that it came from the fact that every stranger thought Rhaella and Joanna looked like princesses, and they weren't shy about saying it, and then their friend had been sad, because she couldn't be a princess, and wasn't beautiful with her darker skin, and wild hair, and only a wild native – they made sure she knew she was beautiful and a real princess (she wished this Pocahontas movie had come out earlier).

Rhaella looked at her playing with her daughter, with a smile on her face – she would be a great aunt to Oberyn's child – and she realized she had missed the girl around her house.

"Can I take her for a walk? I promise I'll take good care of her."

"Of course."

And then Rhaella was alone with Aerys. He asked about his daughter, about where she had gone, and she smiled as she told him. After that there were some racist slurs about Elia and the dornish; Rhaella ignored it, knowing it wasn't really him saying those things. There wasn't much more worthy talk that day, and after awhile Elia came back with Daenerys.

"I think she's getting hungry."

"Ohhh… okay," she said, taking her. "Do you want a ride home?"

"I also came to visit someone else, so… I'm not leaving now."

"Ohhh… you can check here later to see, if I'm still around, I'll give you a ride home"

"Thank you. I won't take long, I think…"

"No problem. I'll still be here for awhile."

Elia left her, and like she had said, she wasn't gone for long; leaving Rhaella would only time to feed her daughter and have a few more minutes with him. They left the building together, and she was sure the paparazzi snapped a few photos of them together; Elia joined her on ignoring the questions, before taking the passenger seat in the car.

The car ride was good, with Elia spending a lot of it, looking at the back, making faces at Daenerys; and they both arrived home at the same time, since she lived in the Red Keep Apartments. Rhaella excused herself when Elia invited her over for dinner, but thanked her for the company.

"You'll be a good aunt to Oberyn's baby."

"I hope so."

"Have a good day, and give my love to Ashara."

"Likewise. And send my love to Viserys." Rhaella nodded in agreement, acknowledging the unsaid, and moving inside her house.

Viserys ran to her again, asking about his father and she kneeled to kiss him, and promised that today he would have time to play in his bath.

"Now go on, and go get ready. I'll be up in a few minutes."

Her other son was in the kitchen, once again cooking dinner – something healthier this time.

"Your eye is looking worse," she said, once he turned to her.

"Good evening to you too, Mom."

"Sorry, good evening. And I had an interesting conversation with Elia today – she came to see your father. Was your fight with Jaime Lannister about something more than Tywin's speech?!"

"Mom…" he complained, and she had one more reason to believe it hadn't been that simple.

"Okay, I'll go and give Viserys and Daenerys their bath now."

As she had promised, Viserys got to spend awhile in the bath, and since Daenerys didn't want to leave, Rhaella had to sit by the bathtub, making sure her youngest didn't get hurt.

Rhaegar's dinner was great, but he ignored any conversation about Elia and Jaime; he talked about Lyanna, and they still seemed to be doing okay, even with his punching.

"Maybe we should invite her over. We were postponing it because of Father's behaviour. But now…"

"Okay. She would like that," Rhaegar said, and Rhaella promised him they would do it soon, just wait until they got into this new routine.

As it was obvious the rest of the week wasn't going to be a good time for Lyanna to come, so they put it off for further in the month. And they spent the rest of the week trying to get used to this new chaotic routine – with Rhaella visiting her husband every afternoon, and Rhaegar cooking dinner every night.


At last, it was Saturday, and Viserys was finally going to visit his father, he was jumping around the house.

"We're gonna see Dad!"

"Yes, we are," she told her son. "But you can't make this much noise there, okay? There are a lot of people there who want silence and peace."

"Okay. But can he play with me?"

"I don't know, son."

"Come on, Viserys," Rhaegar came forward trying to stop his questions. "Let's pick a toy for you to play in the car."

"Is the trip long?" she heard him ask his older brother as they left the room.

Rhaella was trying to get them ready so they could leave immediately after lunch – this time a meal cooked by her. She hoped the meal would be enough to make Viserys and Daenerys tired and sleepy.

It didn't. Viserys asked how far it was multiple, but really multiple times during the trip, and would sometimes kick her seat, even Daenerys cried a few times, and Rhaella was obligated to stop the car.

Today, there were less paparazzi at the entrance, but she knew that when it came out that her kids were coming too, the place would fill out again.

"The place looks great – big and clean," Rhaegar said as the place came into the view.

Rhaegar took his younger's brother's hand and they walked in; people recognized her from the times she had visited before (maybe from the news too), and greeted her. A nurse, they met in the elevator, admired her children, and asked how her husband was doing.

When the elevator's door opened, she immediately saw the same man walking his wife around the floor, and she was immediately asked by Viserys what was wrong with that lady (and then he asked a few more times about other people too). They found her husband by the window (that didn't open, of course), Viserys ran to him, surprising Aerys, but he didn't take it too badly; they sat around the table with him.

He was doing a bit better today, more responsive, and according to the nurse he had slept better the night before. So after awhile together, Viserys was getting a bit reckless, and her daughter was hungry, they all decided to go to the cafeteria, before Rhaegar took his father for a walk outside.

"Rhaella, darling," she heard a familiar voice call.

"Aemon," she said surprised, as Viserys jumped from the table to hug him.

"I came to see my grandnephew, but they told me Rhaegar took him for a walk."

"He did, but he must be coming back soon – I told him not to go too far," she told him, before asking. "Did you take the bus here?"

"My neighbour was nice enough to drive me. Jeor Mormont, and his son, Jorah", he introduced her to them. "This is my grandnephew's wife Rhaella, and two of their kids Viserys and Daenerys."

"Thank you for doing this."

"It's good to get out a bit, we barely leave the North," Jeor replied

The man got something for his son to eat, before they all went upstairs to wait for Aerys and Rhaegar. The children quickly grew found of each other, even Daenerys joined the boys, the man's son seemed to be fond of her daughter – and careful so she wouldn't get hurt.

"He's going to have a cousin soon, so he has been asking about babies a lot lately," the man told her, as they both looked at their children. The man, Jeor Mormont, shared a bit about his son, and Rhaella liked talking about her kids as well.

When Aerys came back with Rhaegar, he seemed better, especially when he saw Aemon there, and they sat together.

"How was he?" she asked her son, after he greeted everybody.

"He was good. He walked easily, we talked. The medication is doing him good." It was big thing having Rhaegar tell her that, he had been the one who insisted that father was institutionalized. "I'm glad you agreed to bring him here."

Aerys did very good with Aemon; his granduncle was a good talker, and Aerys seemed to listen, and respond to it; and Rhaegar and Rhaella even joined the conversation, while Jeor kept an eye on the children.

They stayed with him until it was time for the patients to be taken for dinner, they kissed him goodbye, and told him that they would see him soon. Leaving the building, they said goodbye to the northerners, with Jorah insisting to give her daughter a big kiss, and asking to see them again.

The Targaryens got back into the car, and this time her youngest children fell asleep, while Rhaegar rested quietly against the window, and started planning for Lyanna's dinner at their home – the weekend after Valentine's Day.


Robert Baratheon

Rehab was different. He had his entire day planned, everyday; sometimes he thought it did him good to have a schedule like this one. But not everything in it was good, the withdrawal process for starters – sure his problem was alcohol and not drugs, but the process was still hard. The people who had been doing this for years told him that he would always crave again.

He was now also allowed visits; only Ned had come by, bringing some school notes, and letting him know about some news – including that Elia and Jaime had started dating, which had shadowed his sign in into the rehab center – and his brothers had called, Stannis had been able to arrange the memorial for their parents only after he was out, but it would still be impossible for Robert to attend the funeral.

He mostly hung out with the other younger people at rehab – he had realized that most of them had been put here by their parents, and some were not really doing it with the objective of staying clean. On the other hand, Robert wanted to stay clean, and he knew he needed help – he knew how much he wanted to drink now, trying to cover the loss of his parents.

His parents' death hit him hard, and it was the biggest issue he talked about in therapy. His doctor told him to deal with that first, before going back to all the problems he had before – mostly Lyanna… his doctor knew about her, but he was easing Robert into the issue.

Robert did talk about Lyanna in the group meetings. He hated that some people started insulting her on his behalf, he tried to defend her but they ignored him; and then some other people told him that it was immature of him to blame his problems on a single break up.

Those people were right. He understood now, it was his choice to pick up the bottle, and drink every night, just like it had been his choice to use heroin (especially when he didn't even know how to shoot). His therapist told him, he needed a healthier way to handle his problems – Robert was thinking the gym would do.

The rehab center did have a gym, and that was where he spent most of his free time, and that was where he was now. He liked the punching bag, the sound it made when he hit it, the rage and anger it helped him release; but since he had a partner today – a New Yorker in his mid-forties, with a coke addiction (Robert supposed he must have been someone important, to come as far as Westeros to deal with his problem) – so he knew it was a good day to do some weight lifting, since they already knew that they were good spotters to each other.

Robert was lifting more weight than it was recommended, but it was still going okay, without any problems; his spotter would be there if he needed. Robert knew he only had a few more lifts before he had to change places with the guy.

"Robert, are you in here?" one of the assistants at the rehab asked, entering the gym. "You have a girl visiting." The woman caught Robert by surprise, and an accident almost happened – and that's why you need a good spotter. Robert wondered who the girl could be… would Lyanna actually come? And did he even want to see her? It could be Catelyn coming with Ned.

"Who is she?" he asked, sitting up.

"She gave the name Elia." Elia Martell… what could she be doing here? "She's waiting in the garden."

"Okay," Robert stood, reaching for a towel and cleaning his sweat from his face and chest. "I'll meet you here soon. Don't try lifting without me."

"I'll be in my room. Stop by when you're done," his friend told him. They left the gym together, and Robert moved away to the garden.

He recognized Elia, even if she was sitting with her back to him; Robert took a deep breath and went to join her.

"Hello?" he questioned her, not sure how to even greet her.

"Robert. I hope you don't mind I stopped by. I was in the area."

"In the area?"

"Don't you get the news around here?!"

"I've never been one to watch the news," he said, taking the empty seat next to her, keeping a respectable distance. "Ned lets me know if anything big happens."

"Ohhh… he probably hasn't had the time. But there's a big figure in the hospital, paparazzi outside and everything."

"Right… I heard some noise, but I didn't even acknowledge it," he answered, and after that they both quieted, both probably pondering about what to say. Luckily, Robert had always been straight forward, so he asked her what she was actually doing here.

"I thought we could talk," she started. "You know you were not the only dumped that summer."

"Yes. But you never tried to talk to me before."

"I never thought I needed."

"And now you do, because I'm a fuck up who tried to kill himself, which I didn't by the way. It was an accident."

"There's a risk to doing drugs, and you took it…"

"And if you've come here to give me a sermon, you can go. Ned has already done it. Also you could start by your friend – the number was from one of her friends."

"I'm not here for a sermon. I'm here to help, maybe give you another perspective."

"You think you're an expert, just because you're dating the Lannister now."

"So you know that, but not about Mayor Targaryen," she complained. "And haven't you been with a ton of girls?! By that logic, you should be the expert."

"It was just sex," Robert argued. "Lya was…"

"We have different views of sex, Robert. Sex is not just sex to me… And I'm just dating Jaime, not just… but it's dating. I'm getting to know him."

"So for you dating is the same as sex to me," Robert concluded. "So that means you're thinking of Rhaegar while you're with Jaime."

"No. Or at least I try not to. And that's the point, Robert, you can't live a fantasy – it's not healthy. You have to try to really move on. Do not close your eyes."

"But she always comes back."

"I know. But you can't let them in. You open your eyes and you focus on Jaime again."

"Jaime?!" he asked with a smile at her slip up. "But does it work?"

"It does. Even if I look a bit weird making out with my eyes opened. Making out is always the confusing part – they're similar there, they're both soft, and clean… if it's just talking, going on dates – I can tell the difference. But kissing…"

"All the women were different from Lyanna. Lya is hard, her body is muscle, but she's small, and I fucking knew she was different – I sometimes picked big breasted blondes because they were different. But I would still close my eyes, and…"

"You can't. And you can't, even alone," Elia insisted. "If you want to think about her, you call me," she said, writing down her cellphone and home number. "Think of me as your Lyanna sponsor. Call me, especially when you think it's something you can't talk about with Ned."

"You can call me too if you have asshole problems," he offered.

"I normally have Ash. But if I ever need someone to talk trash about him, I know who to call."

"I can do that," he agreed. Talking shit about Rhaegar was always a good way to spend time. "Thank you for coming."

"You're welcome. Just make sure to call me if you need," she said, before saying goodbye and exiting the room. Robert took a deep breath and looked down at her number, maybe this was a good thing, especially when he left rehab – maybe he had just made a new acquaintance.


If Elia Martell's visit had been a weird and unexpected one just a few days before, today's was nerve-racking – he had famiily therapy, with his brother Stannis, Ned and Lyanna (she was the worst part); Renly was supposed to come, but Stannis thought he was too young, and Rickard Stark agreed (he barely allowed for Lyanna to come – Ned told him she insisted on coming).

"Big family therapy today," many of his companions told him, some resting their hands on his back with a comforting smile, knowing that this could be particularly hard for some people.

I thought Ned would arrive earlier, and they would hang out in the rec room, while Lyanna and Stannis would only arrive before the meeting. And Robert was only looking forward to seeing Ned, since he didn't visit the last two days – school work.

Ned came in after lunch and found him in the gym, this time working the punching bag.

"Who's face are you picturing?" Ned asked, coming in.

"Nobody's actually…" Robert answered honestly, before pulling Ned for a hug, ignoring the sweat. "So how are things at school?"

"Good…" Ned answered, before looking down, and Robert knew that Ned wanted to say something else, but also that he wouldn't if he was being pressured into it.

"If you say so," Robert said, shrugging his shoulders. "Pass me the towel," he said, pointing to the one hanging from the hook. "Now what about some games in the rec room?!"

The rehab center being the richest one in the state came equipped with a gaming console and some games – none of them violent, of course – from which Robert preferred the race car games. When they got into the room, someone was already watching television, but Robert's eyes must have pressured the guy to leave, because it took only five minutes for Robert and Ned to take the couch and start racing.

"You're getting better," Robert commented.

"Renly really likes to play this game. We've been playing everyday after class."

"So he's doing okay?"

"Yeah. But I don't think he and Benjen are sleeping a lot – I think they just spent their nights talking and playing games. Dad found a bunch of candy wrappers in Ben's room."

"When is Cressen getting here?"

"First week of February, he thinks."

"That's good."

"Will you be out by then?" Ned asked.

"You know I won't. Midway through February."

"On time of the dance…" Ned whispered.

"Valentine's?! Nahhh… don't think so." Ned was still acting weird. "Is there something special happening on Valentine's Day?"

"I'm going with Catelyn," Ned started.

"I supposed, Ned. You've been dating for months…"

"And we've been talking, and we're thinking of getting a room."

"Ohhh…" Robert finally realized why Ned was acting so weird. "So you're gonna have sex?!" he asked, putting the controller on the couch.

"Yeah… maybe," Ned admitted scratching the back of his head.

"So you want some advice?!" Robert asked with a cocky smile.

"No… I just thought you should know or something…"

"Yeah… just remember the first time hurts to the girl – so don't just start hammering."

"Hammering…" Ned muttered.

"Ohhh… boy. You and Cat are going to enjoy it – don't worry. Anything you need just call. And call me the next morning, I wanna congratulate you on becoming a man," Robert said, picking up the controller again, and starting a new race, since the last one was already over with their cars standing still in the middle of a lap.

"Don't forget the condoms," Robert remembered two races later. "Also try to get her on the pill. Condom free is the real shit - it feels so fucking good..."

"Please tell me your not talking about my sister..." Ned asked.

"Sorry, bro," Robert apologized with a pat on the back.

They played a few more games, without the issue coming to question again, and then someone finally called them in for the therapy session.

"Are you ready, Robert?" Ned asked him.

"As ready as I will ever be," he answered, leading Ned to the group therapy room.

Seeing Lyanna again was weird, she was resting against a wall, looking down at her worn out shoes, while pulling on her sweatshirt – she looked like she wanted to be anywhere but here; Stannis looked like he felt like that too, even if he held himself straight and was completely clean.

"You must be Eddard Stark," the therapist told him, offering her hand; it was the same therapist that normally held the group counselling.

"Ned, please."

"So if you're all here you can enter." As always the chairs were in a circle, and she waited for everyone to take their seats, like she was studying their choices – Robert took the first seat, Ned next to him, and then Lya, and finally Stannis, leaving an empty seat for the therapist between Stannis and Robert. "I would like to start by having you introduce yourselves."

Robert was used to this, affirming who he was, reminding himself of what the therapists had said. The others didn't see the purpose of this, Stannis wanted to object, but they went on with that.

But Stannis did object every time the woman directed any questions towards him, and she reminded him that he lost his parents that night too.

"I know. But what does that have to do with my brother? He already had problems before."

"And why do you think is that?" And Stannis looked at Lyanna, who still hadn't looked up during the entire time. The therapist followed his gaze, "What was that?"

"Lyanna broke up with him."

"And how does that make you feel?"

"Nothing."

"Why?"

"Because it's Robert's life," Stannis said it like it was something obvious.

"And Robert, how does that make you feel?"

"Nothing," he already knew this wasn't the answer she wanted. "Really, it's my life. I don't expect Stannis to care or worry."

"Do you expect Ned to?"

"Yes, sure. Lya is his sister."

"Do you expect him to care for your feelings?"

"I do."

"And why do you expect it from Ned and not Stannis?" She already knew the answer to this, they had talked many times about Ned and Robert's brothers.

"He's my best friend. He's like a brother to me," Robert said, reaching his arm to Ned's shoulder.

"But you do have a brother."

"Two. And I know that."

"So Ned… how did you react when Robert and Lyanna broke up?"

"I was worried," Ned started. "For both of them," he said, trading looks between Robert and Lyanna. "I wanted to make sure they were okay, to take care of them."

"Do you usually take care of people?" she asked, and Robert laughed a bit, and he heard Lyanna do the same.

"I worry."

"And you have a girlfriend, am I correct?" Ned immediately looked at Robert, arching his eyebrow.

"I do."

"And you've spent more time with her…-"

"Don't. Please don't," Robert told the therapist. He couldn't let Ned blame himself, it was Robert's turn to protect him now. "Just don't. There's patient-doctor confidentiality, right?"

"Yes, of course. I apologize."

She continued asking questions to Ned, but changed her focus, nothing that he thought was too bad, or Ned couldn't handle. Everything would be okay as long as he didn't let Ned blame himself, Robert couldn't let him ruin his relationship with Catelyn, especially now that he was about to stop being the virgin boy.

Things were worst when he finally turned to Lyanna, Robert wondered if he should spare her feelings as well, she didn't have Ned's awful habit of blaming herself for everything, but she could still blame herself a bit.

"You've been rather quiet this afternoon," she said. "I know you were the one who insisted to come. Your father didn't want you to."

"I wanted to help Robert," she said, still looking down, but with a defensive voice.

"Why?"

"Why?! That's a stupid question. Because he's my friend, and my brother's best friend, and I want to help."

"Your friend?"

"Just because we broke up, it doesn't mean that I stopped caring for him," she almost yelled, talking to the therapist like she was stupid.

"Were you the one to break up with him?"

"This is not couples therapy. And you already know the answer."

"Do you drink?"

"I'm still a minor, so of course not."

"You're not taking this seriously," the therapist argued.

"I want to help, but I don't see the point of this."

"So what would be the point?"

Lyanna spoke. She wanted to help arrange a coping mechanism for Robert; she wanted to show him that she was there to help him if it was needed. But she also knew that the blame couldn't be hers – she never put the drinks and the drugs in his hands (a lie, but that had been the past, and the context of those drinks and spliffs were completely different).

"It wasn't your fault, Lya," Robert said, turning to her. "I never want you to feel like that," he wanted her to look at him, even as she started to protest, she still looked down. "I know you just said… but I also know how you think. And you're more like than Ned than you think."

"Rationally, I know that I'm not to blame, but I also know I'm a reason that drove you there."

"The choice was still mine, Lya. Just like it was your choice to come, which I thank you for."

"We haven't done much," she said, looking at him with a smile.

"This is progress. This helps," he said, pointing between the two of them. "Talking to you helps."

"You can always talk to me. No matter how awkward it is, we can talk; we can invite Ned to be a buffer."

"Thanks," Robert said.

"No problem. And for what it's worth, I'm sorry."

"Thank you," he said. "I'm sorry for worrying you," and while Robert said this looking at Lyanna, he then looked at everyone else in the room.

"Okay, I think this is a good time to stop," the therapist announced. "We'll see how Robert's treatment goes, and if I think another meeting like this will be beneficial or not," she said, shaking everyone's hand. "Until then keep visiting," she said, looking at Ned.

Robert said goodbye to Stannis and Lyanna at the door, sending his best wishes to Renly.

"Ned, are you coming?" Lyanna asked.

"I'm catching the next train. I'll see you both at home – tell Dad that I may be a bit late for dinner."

Ned and Robert moved back into the facility again, this time to Robert's room that at this time of the day was empty.

"What was she going to ask?" Ned asked him.

"That has been in your head all this time?!"

"Don't change the issue. Are you mad about Cat or something?"

"Noo! Of course not, Ned, I love Cat – okay, not 'love' love, but you get the point."

"So why did she bring up Cat? Why does she know about Cat?"

"It's nothing. It's me being stupid, and the therapist pushing deep into everything."

"You should tell me. It helped when you talked with Lya."

"I don't have problems with you. Or Cat."

"She actually wants to come and visit you. Could she?"

"Of course, I would love to see her. And I'm sure she will bring me even more homework than you."

"Have you been doing it? Catelyn and I have been trying to arrange a team to help you get back up to speed when you get back to class."

"So I'm studying on my first week back," Robert said with a laugh.

"Probably…" Ned said, before going silent again, and asking. "Are you sure that you're okay with me? Is it because I didn't answer the phonecalls? I feel awful about it, I'm really really sorry…" Ned had already apologized a million times for that already.

"I am okay with you. And you don't need to apologize. Ned, you finally have dates and a girlfriend – you can not pick up your phone."

"I'm only muting it now, and checking it often. And you can text me 911 if you need me."

"I know. You've already told me. Stop worrying…"

"Are you sure?"

"Do you need a kiss to prove you how much I still love you?!" Robert said, making kissing sounds and trying to reach for Ned.

"Shut up," Ned said with a smile, and almost falling from the bed, trying to get away; and both laughed harder when Ned actually fell down onto the floor.

"Thanks for coming around, but you totally should get going, Ned. It's getting late and it's a very long journey home."

"What about a game?"

"What game?"

"Hoops, outside."

"Sure. First to get 24 points wins," Robert said, getting up from his bed. They went to the gardens, stopping by the gym so they could get a ball.

Of course, the game itself wasn't that long – it's Ned against him, and while basketball is Ned's best sport, it's still Robert who has been working out at the gym everyday. So Robert kicked ass, and he finally got Ned out the rehab centre, after he promised to stop by soon, and bring Catelyn with him.

Robert joined the rest of the people in the rec room, but only at dinner did someone mention his therapy – he told them that it had been okay; and then others decided to share some of their stories – some people weren't as lucky as him.

"Are you having anymore meets?" someone asked.

"Not sure. The shrink said she would decide later."

"That's a good sign. The first time I was here she insisted in five meets or something. I ended up losing my dad's money for awhile."

"It seems you got it back now," someone else answered – everyone knew the girl was loaded.

"Thank God. As long as I get through this, I'll have the money."

Robert ignored the rest of them during dinner, only joining them when they all when to the rec room again, to watch some TV before bed. When it was time, he got ready for bed quickly, getting into his room before anybody else; he reached for the picture on his bedside table – a reminder of the reason behind what he was doing – it was a photo taken on his birthday many years ago – Robert had an arm over Ned's shoulders, on his other side stood Stannis, looking straight into the camera, and behind them his parents stood, Dad with an arm around Mom's waist, while she held Renly and made goofy faces at him.

Under the photo there was something else, Elia's number… Robert still wasn't sure what to do with it, he hadn't even told Ned about her visit. But there was something that made sense to him now, he needed to move on. And to move on, he needed to stop pretending. So Robert Baratheon was not going to be dating. (At least not until he could close his eyes without Lyanna being there).

Chapter Text

Cersei Lannister

It was Valentine's Day, and the school was even throwing a dance today – even if it was a Monday; the school had given them this afternoon and the next morning off. But, Cersei just took the entire day. Valentine's dance would be the perfect place to start gossip, and to make a good impression.

Cersei thought about going solo, to show how independent she could be. But since Ashara called that first, it was off the table (Cersei was sure that Ashara was supposed to go with Elia, but she got a date last minute and, Ashara wasn't able to find a date on such short notice, so she was going alone).

While Cersei had many men fighting for her, she was now down to three options – one of the three Kettleback brothers. They would meet her at the school entrance – Jaime was driving her to the dance – and she would make her choice then. She needed someone that would complement her, but would not out stage her.

However, outstaging her would be hard. Cersei had made sure she would look amazing tonight. Her hair was pulled up in an intricate hairdo, for which she had paid quite a bit; her make up was rather subtle with the exception of her red lipstick. Her dress was crimson and long; Cersei quite hated the sleeves but the weather asked for it. And then her mother's emerald necklace complemented everything – it also made her green eyes pop. Cersei looked like beauty itself, and she didn't doubt it for one second.

After two more minutes of looking at herself in the mirror, she went to look for her brother. A few steps out of her room and she heard him, swearing and cursing about his hair.

Cersei found him in the bathroom, in front of the mirror, messing with his hair. He seemed to just make it worse, so Cersei asked him if he needed help.

"I'm trying to go for a Beckham look," he told her, and Cersei laughed.

"Sure. Do you really want to go with the gel?"

"Yes. It makes me look hot."

"Wash your hands," she told him, and she washed, and then cleaned the gel in his hair with one of the hand towels. Then she scooped some gel in her hands and fixed his hair.

"I think this is it," she said, washing her hands, looking at Jaime through the mirror. "The make-up is still holding," she told him. She had been helping him cover the bruises he got when fighting Rhaegar – if Cersei had been the one fighting, she would have won and got zero bruises.

Her brother looked good. He was going for a casual look, he wore a shirt without a tie or a bowtie, and left the buttons on the top undone; his trousers didn't look too formal either, and he finished it off with the only pair of All Stars he owned.

"It looks good," he said, with a smirk, and throwing his hand through his hair. "Better than Brad Pitt?!"

"Yes, you look good," she said, looking at her brother. "Are you sure you really want to waste your night with Elia?"

"Stop being awful to her, Cersei. You can't hate her forever."

"Are you sure about that?" Cersei didn't think Elia was good enough for Jaime – she couldn't understand how both Rhaegar and Jaime fell under her claws. "We should get going. This is the right time for us to arrive fashionably late, especially if we still have to pick them up."

"Okay, okay. I'm just gonna check if Tyrion has everything he needs for the night."

"I'm sure he has. He probably just needs a stupid book and he will be done."

"Just need to make sure he has dinner," Jaime told her.

"Father is home, he can worry about Tyrion," Cersei told him, knowing that just like her, their father knew the true nature of her brother.

Cersei went back to her room, and got her clutch, before going to her father's office to say goodbye.

"Can I come in, Father?"

"I'm working, Cersei," she heard him say from the other side of the door.

"I just wanted to tell you that Jaime and I are leaving."

"Your brother is driving, right?"

"Yes, Father. But I can drive too."

"It's safer if your brother drives." No, it isn't, Cersei wanted to argue, she was the better driver – she