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Sisters

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Sansa screamed like Arya had made her eat the worm. She ran out of the godswood, leaving her stupid doll behind on the ground. Arya sat beside the doll and began rubbing its hair in the dirt, trying to distract herself from the funny feeling in her belly. The worm couldn't really be wriggling around inside her.

She contemplated burying the stupid doll and telling Sansa she hadn't seen it when she asked, and she even started to dig the hole with the doll's own feet, but she felt guilty and stopped. She wiped the doll clean on her skirt and carried it back with her.

Sansa wasn't even grateful. She was telling Mother about the worm and asking Mother to make Arya stop eating worms and playing in the mud. Arya thought Mother looked amused, but when Mother turned to Arya, she looked tired.

"Arya, you have mud on your gown."

Arya glowered at Sansa. Sansa never got mud on her clothes. Arya was convinced that if Sansa got dirty too people would stop telling Arya it wasn't befitting a lady. So she had once pushed her sister down into a puddle of mud to show her how much fun it could be, but Sansa had only cried and then Father had punished Arya.

"Please remember to dress appropriately. That was a new gown. Wear an old one next time."

That wasn't enough of a scolding for Sansa. She snatched her stupid doll back from Arya and began complaining to Mother. "Mother, look what she did to Jonquil! She's all dirty! Her clothes are ruined."

"It can be washed, Sansa," Mother said. To Arya, she said, "I'm sure you didn't damage your sister's toy on purpose, did you?"

"No," Arya lied, "It fell out of my hand."

"She's lying," Sansa said.

"I am not," Arya said indignantly. "Don't call me a liar, you stupid."

"Girls," Lady Catelyn said sharply. "Sisters should not fight like this."

"I'm sorry, Mother," Sansa said. Arya echoed her.

Mother sighed. "You must be friends. You may not think so now, but your sister is the truest friend you'll ever have."

It wasn't Arya's fault. Arya was willing to be friends with Sansa; it was Sansa who preferred to play with that stupid Jeyne Poole, the steward's daughter.

"Yes, Mother," Sansa said obediently.

Arya scowled at her. Sansa was always saying things that grown ups liked to hear, even when she didn't mean them.

Lady Catelyn caught Arya scowling. "Arya, this cannot go on. If you don't stop this fighting, you'll have to stay home when the rest of us go to Torrhen's Square." She frowned at Sansa, who'd started to smirk. "You too, Sansa."

"But I didn't do anything! Arya always starts it."

"I don't care who starts it. It will not happen for the next turn of the moon, or both of you will stay here and watch your brothers ride away with your father and I. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, lady mother," Sansa said.

Arya nodded. She was going to punch stupid Sansa for getting them into this. Only she couldn't or Mother would leave them home when Father took everyone to visit the Tallharts of Torrhen's Square.

"The two of you will be the best of friends for the next few weeks," Lady Catelyn said sternly. When both girls looked at the other sullenly, she added, "You may be surprised at how much you enjoy each other's company when you're not bickering."

Sansa wasn't entirely stupid. She'd come up with the idea that they could just stay away from each other and not talk and they'd be able to avoid fighting. The plan worked for two days, and then Father noticed that they hadn't spoken to each other once during dinner.

"Girls," he said. "I'll be sorry to leave you behind. You would have liked Torrhen's Square."

"No," Arya said, a little too loudly.

"We haven't been fighting," Sansa assured Lord Eddard. She explained her plan to him.

Father smiled. "It's nice that you two could cooperate, but this is not the agreement you made with your mother. Your mother and I want you to get along – that means speaking nicely to each other."

So Arya tried to talk to Sansa. But Sansa wasn't interested in hearing how many foals Hullen expected the mares to birth this year. And Arya wasn't interested in how Sansa felt it was unjust that no one had written any songs about some stupid princess Maester Luwin had told her about.

They had better luck the next day when they decided to act out their favorite stories. Sansa wanted to play 'Florian and Jonquil' while Arya preferred the story of Nymeria. Normally Arya would have just left Sansa and gone to play in the stables, but she remembered what her lady mother had threatened and agreed to play Sansa's game today if Sansa played hers tomorrow.

Sansa took the role of Jonquil, leaving Arya to play the part of the homely fool knight Florian. Arya didn't mind. She'd much rather run around with a nice stick pretending to slay monsters - they'd tried to get Bran to play the monster but lately he preferred to follow Jon and Robb rather than play with his sisters - than sit around looking sad and singing songs and saying silly things about love. Though she had to say silly love stuff at the end too. Sansa was as unwilling to kiss her as she was to kiss Sansa so they agreed to leave out that part.

Things didn't go as smoothly the next day. Sansa was hopeless as one of Nymeria's warriors. She looked like she was sweeping with a broom when she pretended to row an oar on one of Nymeria's ten thousand ships. She was even worse in the battle; she couldn't give a good bloodcurdling war cry at all. And at the end she wanted Queen Nymeria to award her a castle.

"No." Arya shook her head. "You were terrible. I'm giving the spoils to better warriors."

"There aren't any other warriors!"

"If they were, they'd have all been better fighters than you."

Usually Sansa would have kept arguing and started insulting Arya, but she didn't want to be left home either. She only said, "It's just a silly game anyway."

Somehow they managed to get along for two whole weeks. Arya picked flowers one day in exchange for Sansa going riding the next. Arya thought flowers were boring because they were pretty but you couldn't do anything with them. She discovered that just gathering them was fun. And Sansa was happy when Arya let her have the flowers she'd collected. She wove them into crowns and gave one to Arya. It was nice. Arya wore it for a while, but she made sure to take it off before anyone else saw it and teased her.

Sansa didn't like riding and Arya knew she'd have preferred to just ride around the bailey, but that was boring. Riding to the winter town was much more fun. The best part was usually spurring her horse as fast as she could, making the guards hurry to keep up with her on their own horses. This time she went slowly for Sansa's sake. But on their way back to Winterfell she got bored. "Want to race?"

She didn't expect Sansa to agree, but Sansa did. She even seemed to enjoy it; Arya heard her squeal with excitement. Afterward she complained that she hurt, but Arya just told her she needed to do it more often and she'd get used to it.

There were only five days until the Starks left for Torrhen's Square when Sansa nearly ruined everything. She said Jeyne was sad because Sansa had been playing so much with Arya instead of her so they had to include her in their games from now. Arya hated Jeyne. It was Jeyne who'd first called her Arya Horseface and while Arya could tolerate having her lack of ladylike courtesies criticized by Sansa, who was a lady, she hated being criticized by the steward's daughter.

"No. Mother and Father said I had to play with you; they didn't say I had to play with Jeyne."

"I won't play with you if you don't let Jeyne play too."

Arya nearly shoved her. "You'll make us both get left home."

"Not if you play with Jeyne."

"Fine," Arya said. She had let Sansa brush and braid her hair yesterday - which she thought was a weird game but Sansa liked it - so it was her turn to decide what they played today. "Jeyne can play."

Arya called the game she proposed 'who can muck the most dung out of the stable.' Sansa tried to argue that it wasn't a game, but Arya retorted that if playing with hair was a game, then cleaning the stables was one too.

"It is not! It's a chore; one for stableboys!"

"Well, brushing my hair is a chore too. That's not any fun."

"I won't do it. It's filthy and smelly."

"You promised," Arya reminded her. "You said you'd play my games if I played your games." She remembered something Septa Mordane had told them. "Ladies keep their promises. Aren't you a lady?"

Sansa was determined to be a lady, even if it meant shoveling horse manure. She changed into her oldest dress - which was still in better shape than most of Arya's clothes - and followed Arya to the stables. Jeyne trailed behind them, looking like she was sorry she'd stuck her stupid nose between them.

Arya told Sansa that the fresh dung was easier to shovel, but Sansa didn't want anyone to see her so she insisted on going into a stall way in the back that hadn't been used in a long time. Arya had done this before and the smell didn't bother her. She was winning the game too. She'd nearly finished her stall while Sansa had only managed to clear a small spot.

Jeyne stood around the stable just watching them before she decided she didn't want to play with them after all. When she had gone, Arya took pity on her sister and decided they could play 'groom the horses' instead. Still, Sansa took a very long bath that afternoon.

It was such a relief when they were finally on the road to Torrhen's Square. Arya didn't want to risk Father sending them back home, though, so she continued to be nice to Sansa and Sansa must have feared the same thing because she was nice to Arya too.