There was only one other person in the common room that afternoon. Headphones in, they didn’t so much as glance up at Bran when he walked in, but he didn’t care - he had a paper due in four hours and he hadn’t typed one of the required two thousand words, so the quieter the better. He supposed he could’ve gone anywhere on campus for quiet; nothing particularly exciting ever happened at Oldtown. An ordinary place. That was what he had told his mother when she had called that morning and asked if there was anything interesting going on. ‘No, not really. Just an ordinary day, with ordinary people, at an ordinary place’. Rickon had shouted from somewhere that it sounded boring, but it didn’t bother Bran too much. He liked Oldtown - he liked knowing that there was only a small chance his day to day routine would ever be disrupted. Sometimes, though, he wished that just one interesting thing would happen.
He sat on a barstool at a tall table near the back of the room, facing the door, and pulled out his laptop to stare at the blank document. Bran liked to write, really, but he liked facts, not speculation - he’d majored in history for a reason. For a moment he considered calling Sansa, as English had always been her strong suit, but decided against it. He knew he could bullshit it well enough to make decent marks, even with only a few hours to write. He’d been putting it off for over a week, and he was determined to sit there and write it with absolutely no distractions.
The universe, of course, had other ideas.
Bran had written two words - his name - when a distraction appeared in the form of a girl he didn’t know walking briskly into the common room. When he glanced up, she locked eyes with him and started towards where he was sitting, and he wondered for a moment if he should be intimidated by her.
(He was, but only a little.)
He got out of his chair, meaning to ask if she was okay, but she tossed her bag on the floor and gave him a nervous smile, then started talking.
“Hi. Listen, you don’t know me, but I need your help.” She was quite short; her head barely came above his shoulder. Her dark curls fell in her face and her eyes were green. Bran looked at them longer than he meant to.
“Great!” She said, and looped her arm through his so she was facing the door too. He turned his head and gave her a puzzled look. “Right. So, there’s a guy who is kind of following me around campus and he’s asked me out already and clearly didn’t care that I said no.”
“I really don’t think that I’m the person to ask if you need someone beaten up.”
“What? Oh, no, I could’ve done that. I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend.” If Bran had been drinking something, he would’ve choked on it. “Don’t freak, dude. Just for a few minutes so he’ll leave me alone. Then I’ll leave and you can get back to whatever you were doing.” Bran considered it for a moment. It would certainly be more exciting than his essay.
“Thank you,” she smiled. She had a nice smile, Bran thought. “There he is.”
The guy who walked through the door was at least three inches taller than Bran and gods only knew how much stronger. He walked up to where Bran and the girl were standing, his eyes glancing between the two of them.
“Hi, Styve,” the girl said. “What are you doing here?”
“I was calling after you,” Styve spoke in a higher voice than Bran had expected, and he willed himself not to laugh. “Must not have heard me.”
“Oh, sorry. Did you need something?”
“Actually, I was going to ask if you-”
“Oh, how rude of me!” She exclaimed, interrupting him. “I forgot to introduce you. Styve, this is my boyfriend-”
“-Bran,” he spoke up before she could make up a name or look to him for help. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her smile at him.
“Bran, this is Styve. He’s in my Westerosi History class.” Bran nodded at him, then took his arm from where the girl’s was looped with it and put it around her. They had to be convincing, after all. He did his best not to think about his hand resting on her hip and how his arm fit at the curve of her waist.
“I didn’t know you had a boyfriend,” Styve said. “Been together long?” Bran didn’t know why Styve was so curious, or why he wanted Styve to leave them alone so badly.
“A year,” he said, surprising himself.
“And a half,” the girl added, “a year and a half.”
“Well, congratulations,” Styve gave them a forced smile. “I was just going to see if you wanted to go get dinner or something tonight. Maybe we can talk about something besides wars and kings.”
“Y’know, I would, but we have plans tonight,” she nodded in Bran’s direction. “Our anniversary is this weekend but I’m gonna be home visiting family, so we’re celebrating early.” She put her arm around Bran’s waist and leaned into him, and Styve seemed to get the message.
“Alright. Well, uh, have fun. I should get going. Big test to study for.”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “See you in class, Styve.” She waited until he walked out of the common room to pull away from Bran. He was quite sure he’d never regain focus on the essay, but he sat back down nonetheless. The girl sat in the other chair and looked at him until he found it was too difficult to concentrate and closed his laptop. Slowly, she reached over and put her hand on his. “Thank you so much. He would’ve never stopped. I could’ve punched him, but this seemed easier.”
“Happy to help.” Bran said, smiling at her. She smiled back. After a moment, Bran glanced at their hands and back at her, and she pulled back suddenly, a hint of pink rising in her cheeks.
“Sorry,” she said. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looked back at him. Bran found himself looking at her eyes for too long again. “Anyways, I owe you big time for this. How many people would pretend to be in a serious relationship with a stranger just because?” Bran laughed. The girl hopped from her stool and picked her bag up from where she had dropped it on the floor. “Thanks again.”
“You’re welcome,” he said. She turned to leave, and had almost reached the door when he spoke up. “Hey, are you really visiting family this weekend?” She turned back around, smirking at him.
“Well,” Bran said, reaching for his notebook and ripping out a scrap of paper, “I thought you might like to get coffee. After all, we’ve been dating for a year and a half and I don’t even know your name.” He scribbled his phone number down on the paper and walked over to the door, offering it to her.
“Sure. I’d like that.” She grinned at him, and Bran felt his cheeks flush a little. “Saturday?”
“See you then.” She took the paper from him and put it into the front pocket of her jeans, then walked out the door. Bran stared after her for a moment, then shook his head, hoping to get even an ounce of inspiration to actually write his essay. He walked back to his seat and went to open his laptop when his phone lit up with a new message. He didn’t recognize the number, but opened it anyway, and smiled at the words on the screen.
My name is Meera, by the way.