For most people, Friday the thirteenth was bad luck. Brienne learned how true that was. Brienne was thirteen years old, on Friday the thirteenth, when she learned what she was. She was being teased constantly at school for being too large for a girl, too freckled, too flat-chested, too ugly. Brienne avoided the bullies mostly. Nasty words and being tripped in the school corridors was nothing, and they could never catch her to follow her home. They weren’t fast enough. If there was one thing Brienne Tarth was good at, it was running. One day, she was kept behind to speak to a teacher about her coursework. It was the only time Brienne had ever stayed late at school, and she soon learned that it was the wrong thing to do. When she walked out of the school gates, she was surrounded. A group of boys, all of them from the rugby team, all of them big, even if they weren’t all bigger then her, had been waiting to catch her off guard. She was trapped and surrounded.
“It’s time to see what it hides under those baggy clothes!” One of the boys exclaimed.
“Probably a dick. There’s no way that’s a girl!” Another boy yelled. Brienne recognised Ron Connington and Hyle Hunt among them. She knew them, they had been acquaintances when she was a small child. Their fathers were all friends, and Brienne had been forced to spend time with them. They had never shown her kindness. Hyle had. Last year, he had started to be friendly towards her. He’d tried to convince her that he was growing up and he was starting to see what a great personality she had. She found out the truth before it went too far. He had made a bet with Ron and some of the other boys that he could take her virginity, and Brienne hated them all for it. But she refused to let them drag her down. She stayed quiet and out of trouble. If she rose to their taunts then she would be no better.
“You gonna do the honours Beastly Brienne? Or would you rather we do it? It’ll be the only time men ever strip you.” Ron stated coldly. Brienne glared at them all.
“You’re not men. You’re a bunch of little boys.” Brienne stated angrily. Two of them grabbed hold of her arms then, and started trying to yank off her jeans. Brienne screamed and kicked out. That was when two other boys had pulled her legs and held them down. Brienne screamed even more loudly as she started to see the skin on her legs being exposed to the world.
“It don’t look like she’s got one Ron!” One boy said.
“We should pull down those panties and make sure.” Another one said. As Ron and Hyle touched the skin on Brienne’s legs, so close to her underwear that Brienne really thought they might succeed in pulling it off, they both fell away from her, holding hands over their faces. Ron and Hyle both had blood streaming from their noses, their eyes, their ears and their mouths. They started to convulse and fell to the ground and Brienne was horrified. The other boys let her go and ran. She pulled herself up and then yanked up her jeans. She could still see the boys convulsing on the pavement, and so, even though she hated them, she ran into the school and asked for a teacher and an ambulance.
Brienne had to speak to the police. Ron and Hyle both died. The doctors said they both suffered fatal brain aneurisms, but they couldn’t understand where all the blood had come from. Brienne could only think that this had happened when they touched her skin. Of course the police got the security camera footage from outside the school gates, and they saw everything that happened. The other boys were found and charged with assaulting her, even though they didn’t manage to succeed in their endeavour. Ron and Hyle’s fathers both thanked Brienne for her kindness in still trying to get them help even after what they had done to her. Brienne couldn’t help wondering if it was her fault somehow. She sat with her father, who had gone to the funerals. He looked at her carefully.
“Brienne, is it true that Hyle and Ron only started to... convulse after touching your skin?” Her father asked her. Brienne couldn’t lie to her father, and so she nodded. He sighed as he looked at her.
“I didn’t mean for them to die.” Brienne said sadly.
“This wasn’t your fault Brienne. I should have told you years ago. Before anything like this... I couldn’t have foreseen this.” Her father said. Brienne was confused. “Brienne, your mother and her mother before her, and hers before her, they were all witches Brienne. The magic manifests in different ways. Your magic is... your gift manifested in this way, that your body will kill anyone who touches your skin. It’s happened before. Your mother told me about it. I... I’m so sorry Brienne.” Her father said.
“What do you mean Dad? What are you sorry for?” Brienne asked. She was extremely confused when two men stepped into the room with one woman. Brienne jumped out of her seat, frightened and not knowing what to do. “Dad? Who are these people? Dad! What’s going on? What are you doing? Dad!” Brienne screamed. She was terrified.
“I’m so sorry Brienne, but these people can help you learn to control your gift. They’ll be able to take care of you properly. I can’t give you the guidance you need now.” Her father said. The two men were stern and didn’t speak as they grabbed hold of her. Brienne screamed and struggled. That was when she felt a pinprick in the back of her neck. Her world careened into blackness and she knew no more.
Brienne found herself in a strange room. There was a girl with curly brown hair sat beside the bed she was lying on.
“Who are you?” Brienne whispered. The girl smiled.
“I’m Margaery. Margaery Tyrell. I’m a sixth generation witch. My grandmother Olenna is one and she’s the headmistress here. We have a lot of power over plants. What brought you here?” Margaery asked. Brienne blinked.
“I don’t know where here is.” Brienne replied.
“This is Madam Tremeaire’s School for Gifted Young Students. Also know as a school for witches to our kind.” Margaery replied.
“Our kind?” Brienne asked. She was so confused.
“Witches. Did you only just find out that you’re a witch?” Margaery asked. Brienne noticed the girl was holding her hand then. She jumped up, terrified that Margaery would start to convulse, to bleed and die as Hyle and Ron had done. “It’s alright Brienne. You’re... gift... doesn’t affect us. We’ve got witch blood like you. There are few people who can do what you do.” Margaery said.
“What I can do? I killed two boys!” Brienne yelled.
“Not on purpose Brienne. It was an accident and it wasn’t your fault. What they did to you, what they would have done to you if they hadn’t been struck down by your gift, doesn’t bare thinking about.” Margaery and Brienne both looked to see a red haired woman standing in the doorway. “I’m Catelyn Stark. I’m a teacher here. I was also a friend of your mother’s.” Catelyn said kindly. Brienne was very confused. She felt sick and the world was spinning around her. “Here, you should eat. You’ve been out cold since yesterday morning. You’re probably feeling sick from lack of food.” Catelyn said. She placed a bowl of something on top of a dresser in the room and moved forward, gently pressing Brienne to sit back down on the bed. Then she went and took the bowl from the dresser and handed it to Brienne. Brienne looked at it. “It’s just soup dear. Everything is going to be alright.” Catelyn said.
“My father just...” Brienne wanted to cry. Her father had sent her away. He hadn’t even spoken to her properly. He’d just tossed her aside. “He threw me away. I’m defective and he got rid of me.” Brienne said sadly. She felt a lone tear fall down her cheek.
“You are not defective Brienne. Once you learn to control your gifts everything will be fine. A lot of witches don’t discover their gifts until they turn thirteen.” Catelyn said gently. Brienne took note that Catelyn hadn’t bothered correcting her about her father.
“Gifts? I kill anyone that touches my skin!” Brienne exclaimed. Catelyn gave Brienne a kind smile.
“That can be controlled. It will take time, but you will be able to control your reaction to people eventually. Your great grandmother also had the same problem with her magic. She learned to control it. You will too.” Catelyn said gently. “You should try and eat. I heard you put up a fight to come here. They had to dose you with St John’s Wort.” Catelyn said softly. Brienne blinked.
“I didn’t know where I was going, who they were, what they wanted with me? Why shouldn’t I have fought? My father didn’t tell me anything! He just said ‘I’m sorry Brienne’ and let some men take me away!” Brienne yelled. Catelyn sat beside her and gently stroked a few haphazard locks of Brienne’s straw coloured hair from her face.
“He was trying to do what was best for you Brienne. It may not seem that way now, and maybe he didn’t go about it the right way, but he really was just trying to do the right thing by you.” Catelyn said softly. Brienne nodded, not really wanting to argue about it.
“This is going to be your room. You can decorate it however you want!” Margaery exclaimed. Brienne nodded and looked around. It was a simple room, though it was large. She sat on a double bed, there was a dresser, wardrobe, desk and chair, and in one corner were a suitcase and a few bags. Her father had packed her up and shipped her away. Brienne wasn’t sure if she could ever forgive him for that. For the moment, she tried to eat and she listened to Catelyn and Margaery speak about the school.
“There are twenty five students here, including yourself. You’ll meet them all at dinner, hopefully. Margaery is one student. There are boys and girls here. Witch blood runs from mothers to their children, so boys can also be witches. It’s rare for men to pass on the genes though.” Catelyn replied.
“So you’re saying that not only am I an ugly teenage girl, but I’m an ugly teenage girl who can’t touch anyone with her skin except for someone who carries witch blood? The narrow pool of any guy that might have had a small amount of interest has just gone down like... ninety percent.” Brienne said. She wasn’t sure exactly how much this bothered her. But she knew enough about life to know that if she ever wanted a family of her own one day, she would need a man to provide certain things. That meant one would have to be interested in her, and so few boys had ever shown her any interest. Catelyn sighed.
“Brienne, as you get older you’ll be able to control it better. Besides, you are not just some ugly teenage girl. You are a witch of the Evenfall line. Your mother was the last and that makes you the heir to the Evenfall legacy.” Catelyn said. Brienne blinked.
“I have a legacy?” Brienne asked. She was so confused. No one had ever told her any of this. She felt a deep surge of resentment towards her father then. He had never spoken to her, never told her anything to prepare her for this.
“Of course you do. Your great, great grandmother was the High Sorceress of Ireland, and even further back, the first Evenfall Witch was a druidic High Priestess who helped to invent the code that all witches are now supposed to live by.” Margaery said. Brienne shook her head in confusion.
“No one ever told me any of this. I had an older brother once. He... he drowned when I was nine, and my mother died in childbirth with my little sister. I don’t understand any of this.” Brienne said sadly. Margaery looked confused. Catelyn looked unhappy.
“Margaery, go and tell your grandmother that Brienne is awake and see if Old Nan knows when dinner will be ready.” Catelyn said to the girl. Margaery nodded and was gone. Brienne tried to eat the soup that Catelyn had bought to her, but she found herself sorely lacking in appetite as she thought on how her father had betrayed her.
“Brienne, I had no idea your father hadn’t told you about any of this. He... he gave no indication when he called us that you didn’t know about your heritage. Your brother...” Catelyn trailed off, her voice filled with sadness. Brienne was shaking and wondering what she meant about her brother. “You need to eat. You may not feel hungry but you will feel better once you’ve eaten. You’re just in shock and recovering from the St John’s Wort that you were dosed with.” Catelyn added. Brienne sighed and she tried to eat. Once she concentrated fully on the food, she found she was starving and wolfed it down as fast as she could. Catelyn smiled at her. Once Brienne was finished, and Catelyn moved the bowl. She sat beside Brienne again. “Do you feel better now?” Catelyn asked.
“I could still eat a horse I think.” Brienne said. She felt a hot blush rise to her cheeks then.
“Don’t worry Brienne. I’ll explain all I know to you. I’m sure Headmistress Olenna knows more too.” Catelyn said gently.
“My father betrayed me. He did. He never told me anything. Then he threw me away as soon as I showed any sign of being different. I... I always thought my Dad would love me no matter what.” Brienne said. She was still so young. She felt Catelyn’s arms around her, and she cried for what felt like the first time in forever, and once she had finished, she felt better. That was when Margaery arrived back.
“Old Nan will be serving dinner in fifteen minutes Mrs Stark.” Margaery said. Catelyn nodded and looked at Brienne.
“Brienne, wash your face and then Margaery will show you to our dining room. You’ll meet your fellow students and witches there.” Catelyn said. Brienne nodded her agreement and Catelyn smiled and left the room.
“Where’s the bathroom?” Brienne asked.
“You’ve got one in here.” Margaery replied. She walked over to a door that Brienne had assumed was a closet, but it opened into a medium sized bathroom. Brienne went in and washed her face with cold water.
“Are you ready to go Brienne?” Margaery asked. Brienne looked at Margaery and nodded. She was ready. This was a new day and a new life for Brienne Tarth, the last Evenfall Witch.
Brienne was led to a great dining room, where there was a great rectangular table. Many students were already sat down. Brienne noticed that three of the students had red hair like Catelyn, and there was a boy who looked like Margaery.
“Hey everyone!” Margaery called out. The table fell silent. “This is Brienne Tarth, she’s one of us now.” Margaery stated. Brienne was awestruck as each student stood up one by one and said their names. The three red heads were Robb, Sansa and Bran Stark. A dark haired girl beside them was Arya Stark, and another dark haired boy, Jon Snow, was their cousin, who held a red haired child on his lap, who was introduced as five year old Rickon Stark. The brown haired boy who looked like Margaery, introduced himself as her brother, Loras Tyrell. Five, tanned girls introduced themselves as Arianne Martell, and her four cousins, Obara, Nymeria or Nym as she preferred, Tyene and Sarella Martell. A dark, short haired girl, introduced herself as Asha Greyjoy, and her brother Theon, introduced himself beside her. A silver haired girl introduced herself as Daenerys Targaryen. A girl with chestnut hair introduced herself as Jeyne Westerling, and a dark haired girl introduced herself as Jeyne Poole. Another girl with fire red hair introduced herself simply as Ygritte. A gruff teenage boy, who was older and bigger than Brienne, introduced himself as Sandor Clegane. A younger boy introduced himself as Podrick Payne. A girl with coal black hair and storm blue eyes, introduced herself as Mya Stone, and a boy, who was sat near Arya, introduced himself as Gendry Waters. Brienne had thought that Mya and Gendry were brother and sister, with their extremely similar looks, but she didn’t ask any questions. The last one, Brienne couldn’t help recognising as soon as her eyes fell on him. She gasped in shock as he stood up and was taller than her.
“Galladon?” Brienne asked in shock. Galladon grinned back at her.
“Brienne! You’ve got the gift too?” Galladon asked. Brienne felt lost as she looked at her older brother, who was supposed to be dead. She’d been told he was dead. How many betrayals could one girl take from her own father?