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You Win or You Die

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It all started on a normal day in Winterfell.

I woke in the servant's quarters and got dressed before getting an apple for breakfast. Then, I went to Sansa's room to wake her for the day.

"My Lady...It's time to wake up" I cooed sweetly.

The redhead opened one eye to look up at me from her face down position on the bed. "Since when do you call me that, Y/N?" her muffled voice murmured into the pillows tiredly.

"Since I decided to be nice before I yank the covers off you. Now, get up, before I get a bucket" I threatened teasingly before going to the wooden table on the other side of the room to get the cup of tea from the tray I'd brought with me.

"Fine" She sighed as she turned over and forced herself to sit up, taking the cup of tea when I offered it to her.

"Did you sleep well?" I asked, eyeing the top of her head with a sly grin.

"Very. Why?" She asked after taking a sip, looking at me out the corner of her eye.

"Your hair answered that question before I thought to ask it" I teased with a quiet laugh.

Her eyes widened as she realized what I meant, her hand shot up to feel the ravens nest her beautiful red hair had turned to in the night. "Oh no, it's worse than yesterday" She groaned with a pout.

"Oh hush. It's nothing I haven't dealt with a hundred times with my own hair" I said scoffed with a small smirk, running a hand over the long H/C braid that rested on my shoulder.

"Sometimes I wish long hair wasn't considered Ladylike so I could cut it" she muttered, causing me to lift a brow.

"You would look very strange with short hair, Sansa" I said as I stood and went to to her vanity to get her hairbrush.

"Yes, but at least it wouldn't get in the way like this" She said, setting aside the cup of tea to come sit on the bench in front of her mirror.

"I love your hair just the way it is" I said as I started to gently work the knots and tangles out of each lock in my hands.

By the time I was done with Sansa's hair, pulling it back into a popular Northern style, breakfast was about to start. So, I followed her down to the Main Hall where the rest of her family was, standing off to the side in case I was needed for anything.

After that, it was time for Sansa and Arya's lessons and the like, so I went with them and listened as Septa Mordane taught them histories and edicate. Smiling softly at Arya as Septa complimented Sansa's sewing skills. I understood the girl's inclination for more boyish activities. I was, and still am, much the same. I just know how to hide it better.

It was when I heard the laughing of men and the swish of arrows outside that I went over to her.

"Go on. I'll cover for you" I whispered with a knowing smile.

She grinned. "Thank you, Y/N" she said before getting up and sneaking away.

Later Sansa and Arya were called by their father, Lord Eddard Stark, for something, he'd said it was a surprise. And a surprise it certainly was, when he presented the two girls with Direwolf pups, still small and yipping. I smiled widely at the two of them when they held the small, wiggling, creatures.

"They're wonderful, father!" Arya said happily as her pup licked her chin playfully.

"Adorable" Sansa giggled and she planted a soft kiss on the head of hers.

"What will you name them?" I asked as I watched the scene before me.

"Nymeria" Arya said decidedly.

"After The Queen of Dorne?" I asked, already knowing that I was right as Arya nodded happily.

"What about you Sansa?" Ned asked looking to his eldest daughter.

Sansa held up the pup to look at her properly. "Lady" she said quietly with a short nod.

"That's a lovely name" Catelyn Stark said as she entered the room. She clearly didn't approve of the chosen pets for her children but was letting it

"My Lady" I said curtsying lightly in her direction.

"Hello, Y/N" she said with a soft smile. She'd always liked me, I've never known why but I assumed it had something to do with out close I was with her daughters. Perhaps it was that I was a good example for both girls. But I never asked and she never said.

Later that day a raven came with a message. The King and Queen where coming to Winterfell with their three children and the Queens brothers, Jaime and Tyrion.

Sansa was ecstatic to get to meet Prince Joffrey, something about just hearing his name gave me a bad feeling in my gut, the Prince was bad news. But I didn't say so as I didn't want to bring down Sansa's excitement.

During the preparations for their arrival I was sent to the Butchers to see what they had and what they would need, so the hunters and farmers could be contacted if necessary.

Of course, it was just my luck that one of the butchers also handled hair cuts and shaving for the men of Winterfell. And when I arrived I was met with the sight of Rob, Theon, and Jon, all shirtless and muttering about the royal family.

"I hear the Prince is a right royal prick" I heard rob say just before I walked through the door.

"Imagine all the Southern girls he gets to stab with his right royal prick" Theon said as I walked through the door.

"What a lovely thought, Theon" I said sarcastically as I handed the other butcher the list that Lady Catelyn wrote.

"Give you any ideas, Y/N?" the Greyjoy flirted shamelessly.

"Not with you it doesn't" I answered smugly, forcing myself not to look at Jon as I said it.

"One day I'll get you in my bed" Theon said like he was making a promise.

"Only in your dreams, Theon" I replied, now leaning back on the butchers table as Rob stood from the stool he'd gotten his face shaved on.

"Go on, Tommy, Sheer him good!" Rob said slapping Jon on the back as the Bastard went to sit where Rob had been. "He's never met a girl he likes
better than his own hair" The Stark continued as he and Theon started to laugh. I looked at Jon to find him looking at me, I looked away quickly, my
cheeks burning lightly.

I guess I should mention that I was hopelessly head over heels for Jon Snow. We'd grown up together and were best friends till we turned 14, then
we began to grow up and grew apart. Then he decided that he wanted to join the Nights Watch when he was older and I distanced myself even further from him, not wanting to get in the way of his dream.

After the Butcher wrote down what he had I went back to Lady Catelyn to give her the list before going to look for Sansa, who I spent the rest of the day with.

A week later we where all preparing for the King and his family to arrive. I was in Sansa's room helping her pick out a dress to wear and deciding what to do with her hair. "Sansa stop fidgeting! I can't tie this if you keep moving" I scolded as I tied the laces to the back of her under dress.

"I can't help it! I'm going to meet the King and his family! I want to make a good impression" She said, clearly nervous. Then she went quiet for a moment before murmuring. "What if they hate me?"

"Don't talk like that" I said firmly, turning her to face me so I could look her in the eye. "They'll love you. You're a right proper lady and anyone who doesn't like you is a fool, King or no" I said, maintaining my firm tone.

She smiled sweetly at me before wrapping her arms around me. Only 13 years old and already taller than not only me but most of the boys in Winterfell, but beautiful as well, prettiest girl in the North.

"Thank you, Y/N..." She said quietly.

"You're welcome, little wolf" I whispered back, using the nickname I gave her when she was born, though now she was almost a woman I still saw
her as the sweet little babe that I met when I was a small child. "Now. Let's get you ready to meet the Royal Family" I said as we turned to her

Shortly there after I stood behind Sansa, between Theon and Jon, as she stood in a line-up of her siblings and parents, all save for Arya, who I knew was outside the wall watching the solders ride by. Catelyn looked around for a moment.

"Where's Arya?" She asked before looking to Sansa. "Sansa, where's your sister?" She asked. Sansa shrugged before glancing over her shoulder at me, knowing that I knew, but I didn't say anything. One of the reasons Arya liked me so much was because I only ratted her out when I knew she could get hurt doing something, the rest of the time I let her do as she pleased, as it usually did no damage to anyone or anything.

The missing girl soon ran up, a too-large helmet on her head. Her father stopped her and took it off her head, asking why she had it before sending over to stand between Sansa and Bran, ordering Bran to move rather harshly as she did, I didn't approve of her sudden harshness but my opinion wasn't important and her attitude was a conversation for another time.

Just after that the Royal caravan trotted up, a few guards and Jaime Lannisterfirst, then Joffrey Baratheon with the Hound riding beside him, a snarling dog helmet on his head concealing his face. As the men on horses lined up I saw Sansa looking at the Prince with a smile, and when I looked at the Prince I saw him smiling back. I didn't trust the boy, no matter who his father was or what he would one day become.

The carriage that I assumed contained the Queen, Prince Tommen, Princess Myrcella, and all the queen's handmaidens came to a stop, then came King Robert on a horse, surrounded by solders.

We all knelt as he rode his horse closer before stopping and climbing off. We all knelt and he strode toward where Ned was with an expression that looked almost angry, for a moment I was scared that something was wrong, then he gestured for for Ned to stand up and we all followed suit, I found I couldn't stop looking at the King, I'd never been so close to such as important person before. I mean sure, I was practically raised by the great Stark's of Winterfell but that was different than seeing the King of all Westeros in front of me.

"Your Grace" Ned said with a slow nod, being respectful despite the fact that the two men were basically bestfriends.

King Robert looked at Ned for a moment before he spoke. "You got fat" He said, sounding dead serious.

Ned glanced at the Kings rather 'out there' gut before looking back a his face. The Kings expression didn't change for a moment before he burst into laughter, Ned joining him as they hugged like the old buddies they were.

Then he looked to Catelyn. "Cat!" He said happily as he pulled the woman into a hug. She managed a polite 'Your Grace' before he released her.

The King ruffled Rickon's hair before moving back to Ned. "Nine years. I haven't seen you? Where the Hell have you been?" He asked good-naturedly.

"Guarding the North for you, Your Grace" Ned answered happily.

That was when I noticed the Queen stepping out of her carriage with her Handmaidens. They all wore such bright colors and had such pretty hair that I found I was a bit jealous of them, but at the same time they looked very cold in their thin Southern dresses and I found I was happy that I was used to the cold of the North.

Arya looked to Sansa. "Where's the Imp?" She asked, looking genuinely curious.

"Would you shut up?" Sansa said with the same harshness that Arya had when speaking to her brother a moment before, I made a mental note to speak the the redhead about it later.

I leaned down so I could whisper to Arya. "I hear that he's a lecherous one. He may be off doing what men like him do with women of low stature" I said quietly before standing up again, making myself unnoticed as I was meant to be.

The King approached Rob and shook his hand as he spoke. "What have we here? You must be Rob" Then he walked by Sansa. "My, you're a pretty one" He said before looking down at Arya. "And your name is?" He asked.

She looked up at him. "Arya" She answered simply.

Then he looked at Bran. "Oh, show us your muscles" He said and Bran smiled before 'flexing' the muscles in his arms. The King gave a little laugh.
"You'll be a solder" He said, sounding half like he was just trying to make Bran smile and half like he was serious. Either way I smiled at the little display as I watched it.

Then Arya noticed Jaime Lannister taking off his helmet, letting loose his long blond hair. "That's Jaime Lannister, the Queens twin brother" She said quietly.

"Would you please shut up" Sansa all but whined at Arya. I had to roll my eyes as her. As much as I loved Sansa she could really get on my nerves sometimes.

That was when Queen Cersei approached Ned and lifted a hand. Ned took it on his own before kissing her knuckled lightly. "My Queen" He said before Catelyn gave a curtsy.

"My Queen" She said. The Queen gave a small tired smile before King Robert spoke again.

"Take me to your crypt. I wanna pay my respects" He said looking to Ned.

"We've been riding for a month, my love. Surely the dead can wait" The Queen said, sounding as if she were spitting a curse when calling the King her 'love'.

"Ned" Was all the King said before walking off, Ned followed after sending the Queen an apologetic look.

Then I saw Arya look to Sansa. "Where's the Imp?" She asked, probably thinking that she was being quiet.

The Queen looked in her direction before going back to where her twin was. "Where is our brother? Go and find the little beast" She said with distaste.

After that I assisted in taking the Royal Families things to their rooms, I may have been Sansa's handmaiden but there were only so many servant's in Winterfell.

Then I went to Sansa's room, where I found both her and her mother. Catelyn was fixing her hair and I walked in just in time to hear her ask her mother a question. "Do you think Joffrey will like me? What if he thinks I'm ugly?" She asked worriedly.

"Then he is the stupidest prince that every lived" I answered, making my presence known. Sansa lifted the mirror in her hands to look at herself.

"He's so handsome. When would we be married? Soon or do we have to wait?" She asked excitedly, whether the question was to me or her mother I wasn't sure, but it was her mother that answered.

"Hush now. Your father hasn't even said yes" She said.

"Why would he say no? He'd be the second most powerful man in the Kingdoms" Sansa said, sounding genuinely curious as to why her father might refuse the offer to be the Hand of The King.

"He'd have to leave home. He'd have to leave me" She said, looking like that thought was only just occurring to her before snapping out of it and continuing with Sansa's hair. "And so would you" She continued.

I hadn't thought about what Sansa marrying Joffrey would mean for her living situation. The girl would go to live in Kings Landing and I would remain in Winterfell. I'd probably never see her again. I was saddened by the thought but didn't let it show.

"You left your home to come here. And I'd be Queen someday" Then her expression turned to one of realization and she turned to look at her mother. "Please make father say yes" She begged.

Her mother began to say her name in a placating manner only to interrupted by Sansa. "Please, please. It's the only thing I ever wanted" She pleaded. I couldn't resist rolling my eyes, only thing she ever wanted my ass. I have been her confidante since she was born and I happen to know that there are plenty of things she's wanted, she just never begged quite like this for them.

Catelyn looked down at Sansa before looking to me, as if asking for help. I sent her a look that told her that I didn't know what to say.

We all finished getting ready for the feast and went to the Main Hall, where many tables had been set up and there was music playing. Even though I have no noble blood I was seated with Sansa, but I soon found that the rowdy atmosphere of the Hall was a bit too much for me and excused myself.

I walked outside just in time to hear Jon ask Benjin Stark to convince Ned to let him take the Black and become a Brother of the Nights Watch.

I was about to make my presence known when another voice spoke and I chose to stay hidden to hear what the Imp had to say to Jon.

"Your uncle's in the Nights Watch" He said as he left the shadows, a wine skin in his hand.

"What are you doing back there?" Jon asked suspiciously.

"Preparing for a night with your family" He said before taking a drink, walking closer to Jon. "I've always wanted to see the Wall" He said leaning back against a small column for a chain barrier.

"You're Tyrion Lannister. The Queens brother" Jon stated.

"My greatest accomplishment" Tyion said sounding disappointed that that was how people knew him. Then he looked to Jon and I got a bad feeling, like Tyion was about to insult Jon. "And you, you're Ned Stark's Bastard aren't you?" He said, sounding more like a statement than a question.

Jon looked down at him, clearly irritated but didn't say anything as he turned to go back to his sword and practice dummy.

"Did I offend you? Sorry" Tyrion said, much too quickly for it to be real as he followed Jon. "You are the Bastard though" He said.

"Lord Eddard Stark is my father" Jon confirmed.

"And Lady Stark is not your mother. Making you, The Bastard" Tyrion summarized. Jon looked away with an irritated blink. "Let me give you some advice, Bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you" He said before
turning to walk away.

That was when Jon decided to stop playing the mute. "The Hell do you know about being a Bastard?" He asked incredulously.

Tyrion turned and looked at Jon. "All dwarfs are Bastards in their fathers eyes" He said before walking away, taking another swig from his wine skin.

Jon went back to his sword and laid into the practice dummy angrily.

I slowly walked over to where Jon was, staying far enough back to be out of reach of his blade. "He knows nothing" I said surely.

Jon turned to look at me. "You heard that?" He asked, barely looking at me.

I nodded. "I heard everything from when you asked Benjin to take you to the Wall" I said as I leaned against a pillar to the wall-less structure that the dummy was set up under.

"What do you think?" He asked, looking down at his sword, or anywhere that wasn't me to be honest.

"Of what?" I asked, unsure if he was asking about the Wall or what Tyion said.

"Of me wanting to be a Brother of the Nights Watch" He clarified, now looking at me.

I was quiet for a few moments as I thought. I didn't like it. If Sansa went to Kings Landing and Jon went to the Wall I would be left alone. Sure, I
would still have Catelyn, Arya, Rob, Bran, and Rickon. But I was far closer to Jon and Sansa and without them I'd, for all intents and purposes, be alone.

But it wasn't my life, and it wasn't my decision to make. "I don't know" I said. "I know that you're young and shouldn't go making vows before you truly know what you want in life. You could want to have a family one day and you won't be able to if you take that vow" I said slowly, thinking over every word I said.

Jon seemed to think about my words for a moment. "I know what I want" He said decidedly. "And what I want is to take the Black and become a
Brother of the Nights Watch" He said standing straight and looking me in the eye.

I gave a quiet sigh. "You know nothing, Jon Snow. I hope you're happy with it 10 years from now" I said before turning and walking back to the Main Hall.

I took my seat next to Sansa and put a smile on my face so as not to worry the girl with my personal problems. Then another servant came over, saying that the Queen wanted to speak with Sansa. She smiled and stood, taking my hand as she went. I looked at her confusedly but followed her lead as she went and stood before the Queen, I stopped a few feet behind her, like a good handmaiden should.

"Hello, Little Dove, but you are a beauty. How old are you?" She asked, sounding very friendly, but I didn't trust it. No one who reaches her level of power gets there the honorable way, her husband didn't, though I'm told that it was for the best.

"13, Your Grace" She answered, sounding proud. That pride brought a smile to my face.

"You're tall. Still growing?" The Queen asked. And my smile dropped. Oh dear...That's never a good question coming from a woman like her.

"I think so, Your Grace" Sansa answered, sounding only slightly less proud.

"And have you bled yet?" She asked. I could see the nerves suddenly take over Sansa and I wanted to pull her away. But I couldn't.

I watched as Sansa looked to her mother before looking back at the Queen. She shook her head slowly. "No, Your Grace" She answered.

Then the Queen seemed to jump tracks. "And your dress, did you make it?" She asked, sounding sweet again.

I saw the pride light up Sansa again as she nodded. The Queen smiled. "Such a talent. You must make something for me" She said, the way she spoke made it sound like a kind request and not an order, for that I was happy.

Sansa started to walk back to our seats, grabbing my hand again as she went. "Did you hear what she said?" Sansa asked excitedly.

"Yes, I did. She seems to like you" I said as we sat. I sipped at the wine in my cup as we chatted with the other girls at the table.

Then she looked toward Joffrey, I looked as well and found that he was watching her. "He's looking at me" She whispered to me.

I nodded. "That he is" I said as I eyed him carefully.

Then my attention was pulled back to Sansa as a spoon full of food hit her face, launched at her by Arya. The redhead gasped and started to whine at Arya for being annoying and for ruining her favorite dress. I helped her clean up as Rob came and whisked Arya away, stating that it was bedtime.

Hours later I was helping Sansa get ready for bed. Brushing her hair before braiding it so it wouldn't knot up in her sleep. "Are you sure this will work?" She asked impatiently as I tied off the braid.

I chuckled. "Yes, I'm sure. It's what I do every night. And even during the day. Keeps the hair out of the way so I can work. And it keeps your hair in one place so it would be a ravens nest when you wake up" I answered, lightly teasing her as I let the braid rest against her back.

"Now, you best get to sleep, My Lady. Long day tomorrow and you'll want to look nice for the Royal Family" I said as I went to take my leave.

"Good night, Y/N" Sansa said as she laid down on her bed.

"Good night, Sansa" I said as I closed the door.

I made my way back to the servant's quarters and prepared for bed before laying down and letting myself drift off, wondering what was to come of all the things that seemed to be falling into place.