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Here We Stand

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She's no maid. Unlike the other houses in Westeros, the Mormonts have never attempted to contain their daughters; they are warriors, the ones who have held Bear Island for centuries, and if a woman wants to take a man to bed, no one raises a fuss over it. Dacey has not been a maid since she was five-and-ten, has shared her bed as she has seen fit, but Dacey does not mind sleeping alone. When they march to war, many of her fellow brothers-in-arms try to convince her to share their cots, but Dacey knows what will happen; the moment she beds down with one of the other soldiers, any and all respect she has earned from them will disappear, and they will look upon her the same way they do the camp followers.

Dacey shares a tent with her mother; that helps to remove the temptation.

They have won a victory against the Lannister forces the first night it happens. The Greatjon is leading a round of The Bear and the Maiden Fair, all of the men singing along; beer is flowing freely, and, though Dacey prefers wine, she still drinks the beer, lets it warm her blood and sour her mouth. She smiles when Robb Stark's voice joins in with the others'; he looks his age tonight, barely more than a boy with a beard, color high on his cheeks, his eyes shining with happiness. It's a pleasant change after the cloud of grief which has followed them all with Ned Stark's beheading. When Robb swings an arm around her shoulders, his face close to hers, Dacey can smell the beer on his breath, but she doesn't pull away; he is her king, after all.

“Aren't you going to sing, Dacey?”

“It'll be a much sweeter song if I don't lend my voice, your grace.”

Robb smiles languidly, and it is a man's voice which slips past his lips as he declares, “You're very pretty.”

It's a lie. Dacey knows she is too tall for most men, taller than Robb Stark even, and her features are too long for her face; she has been called handsome before but never pretty. “I believe you've had too much to drink, my king.”

He grins, startling Dacey as he leans forward and presses a wet kiss to her cheek. It catches her off-guard, makes a blush fill her cheeks as if she is one of her younger sisters. And then he rises from his seat and starts another song. Dacey stays seated, refills her mug, watches the men she fights alongside drink themselves silly and disappear out of the tent with camp followers; if she was smart, she'd return to her own tent, but everyone is drunk and Dacey feels a responsibility to make certain her king stays safe.

When only Dacey remains in the tent with Robb, she finally gets to her feet, prepared to leave the King in the North to his cot and the headache which will certainly greet him in the morning. But as she rises, Robb Stark's blue eyes fall on her, and Dacey freezes, caught by the heated expression on his face.

“Stay,” he requests, and it is not the commanding king from the battlefield who speaks; this is the boy of fifteen who has the world on his shoulders and not nearly enough pleasure, a boy Dacey suspects has never bedded a woman.

She knows if she objected, he would not make her stay; the Starks of Winterfell are the most honorable house in Westeros, and, drunk or not, Dacey does not believe Robb Stark would try to force himself upon her. Dacey knows she can say no, and he would not even hold it against her.

She is never quite sure why she stays. Perhaps it is because he didn't order her to; perhaps it is because he trembles when she touches his cheek and noisily sucks air through his nose. Perhaps it is because she is lonely and trusts that Robb Stark will not proudly announce to everyone how he got between her thighs.

But, whatever the reasons, she stays.

His touch is rough, his fingers unlearned; Dacey grabs his wrists, shows him how to touch her, whispers to go slower, that they have time. He moans loudly when she takes him in hand, stroking his cock, circling her thumb around the head; he is leaking, hard as Valyrian steel, and Dacey knows he is going to spend quickly. Robb's eyes are squeezed shut, canting his hips upwards in a desperate bid for more friction, and Dacey pushes his hips onto the cot as she draws her tongue up the length of him. Her mouth has barely closed around the tip, the tip of her tongue teasing the underside of the head, when Robb shouts, spilling himself down her throat. Dacey swallows quickly, her fingers stroking the thin skin of his hips as he comes down from his high; as she pulls away, Dacey sees that Robb is looking at her as if she is something miraculous, and it makes her blush.

“What about you?” he pants as she climbs off the cot, wiggles back into her breeches. She is wet, coiled with tension, but Dacey knows he is going to regret this in the morning and wants no part in deepening his shame.

“I don't need anything, your grace.”

“Robb,” he corrects as his eyes sag shut. “Call me Robb.”

In the morning, Robb does not meet her gaze, and Dacey assumes it will never happen again.

He summons her to his tent four days later.

Dacey assumes it is about the next battle; he has met with the Greatjon and Jason Mallister as well this night, and the last thing she expects when she enters the king's tent is a table set with supper, Arbor gold in the wine cups, and Dacey stills as Robb smiles shyly at her.

“You sent for me, your grace?”

“I was hoping you'd sup with me.”

She nods, cautiously approaching the table and settling into her seat. “Thank you, your grace.”

“Robb.” Vulnerability flickers across his face as he entreats, “Please just call me Robb, like at Winterfell.”

She had not really known Robb at Winterfell; a handful of times she had come from Bear Island with her mother, but he was barely more than a child then and she is older than him by several years. At Winterfell, Robb Stark was just a little boy who would one day be her liege lord; in this tent, Robb Stark is a man-grown, her king, and Dacey forces herself not to flush at the memory of the taste of him.

They eat in silence for a few minutes before Dacey mentions the upcoming battle; to her surprise, Robb shakes his head and says he'd prefer not to discuss the war tonight. Dacey nods, sipping her wine, waiting for him to direct the conversation; she is stunned when he asks her about Bear Island, about her sisters, about what she likes to do. She answers his questions easily, and, when the meal is finished, she waits for him to say what she has been expecting for days.

“The other night,” he begins, and Dacey holds up her hand.

“You do no have to say anything, your grace. I have - “

He steps into her, a finger pressing against her lips; she stands several inches taller but he seems larger in that moment. “Robb. After what happened between us, you must call me Robb. Unless...” His features twist bitterly. “Unless you did what you did because I am your king. Is that it?”

“No,” she softly replies with a shake of her head. “That is not why.”

His mouth is less clumsy this time, his hands more certain; Dacey meets his kisses tentatively at first, and, when Robb moves his mouth to her neck, she whimpers. He cups her breast through her shirts, grasps her hip tightly, and Dacey knows this is a mistake, knows that this not going to end well at all.

“Do you want this?”

“Yes,” she says, sealing their fates.

He spends an inordinate amount of time kissing her, exploring her body; Dacey thinks of the men she has known of Bear Island, and none have taken this sort of time tending to her. She likes the feel of his tongue on her nipples, the way his fingers skim up and down her sides; for the rest of his life, he will always remember she was the first, and Dacey feels a peculiar sense of responsibility because of it.

Robb groans as he sinks inside her, his face twisting up in pleasure, and Dacey pushes her hips up to meet his; he strokes into her unevenly, unsure of a rhythm, and Dacey reaches down, grasps his ass, and hold him inside her.

“Wait, wait, wait,” she breathes, and Robb stills immediately; his arms are shaking as he holds himself above her, jaw tight with tension, and Dacey feel such a warm rush of affection for this poor, green boy, king or not.

He blinks in surprise as she urges him onto his back, and Dacey bends to kiss him, a long, slow kiss which makes Robb moan into her mouth. As she moves over him, sliding down on his cock, Dacey pants against his mouth, “I'll show you the way, I'll teach you,” and Robb just moans, tangles his fingers in her dark hair and nips at her mouth. Even going slow, trying to draw it out, Robb comes before she's found her pleasure, and Dacey doesn't think before grabbing his hand, pressing his fingertips against where she is neediest. He rubs inexpertly, but it is enough, and Dacey shudders as she peaks, collapsing against Robb's chest as she finishes.

Robb will take her twice more that night, will suck purple blooms on her breasts and the juncture where her neck meets her collarbone. Dacey leaves his tent while he still sleeps, and, when she returns to her own tent, Dacey deliberately ignores her mother's pointed look.

She starts to lose count of how many times it has happened.

During the days, during battles, she is just another soldier, a bannerman, a woman of House Mormont who has agreed to defend him, to fight for him. He treats her as courteously as he does every other person and never shows preference for her; during the days, when he speaks to her, she is Lady Mormont and he is King Robb, and their roles are clearly defined.

At night, she is Dacey and he is Robb; he pets her hair and nuzzles her breasts, pushes her thighs apart and tongues her cunt. The first time he does it, she grabs a pillow to muffle her cries, and Robb is merciless, fucking her with his tongue, lapping with the flat of his tongue, tantalizing nerve endings with the rasp of his beard. During their nights together, Dacey thinks nothing of manhandling him, pushing him around, telling him what to do; he likes it, ceding control to her, and Dacey always shivers when Robb wraps himself around her when they are finished.

Sometimes they talk, whisper stories or secrets; he asks Dacey about the man who took her maidenhead, and she tells him all about the boy who married another. Robb is very still when she gives him this bit of her history, and when he asks if she loved him, Dacey shrugs.

“He was never mine to love; he belonged to her. I was just a way to pass the time.”

Robb holds her tighter, pressing a kiss to her shoulder. “You are so much more than that.”

They never discuss the girl at the Twins waiting to wed him.

Robb is going to the Crag, and she is not.

Dacey does not like being left behind, does not like the idea of Robb riding into battle without her, but she cannot object because he is the king and she is not the queen.

“I know you're angry you aren't coming with me,” Robb says as they still lie entangled in his bed, sweat drying on their skin, Robb's seed on her thighs. He strokes his fingers across her belly, presses lazy kisses to the curve of her breast, almost as if he is not ready to stop touching her, and Dacey thinks, in some ways, he is still very much a young man unused to having a woman in his bed.

“Not angry,” she corrects, carding her fingers through his messy curls. “I just worry.”

“For your king?”

“You're a bit more than my king, are you not?”

Robb lifts his head from her breast, gently turning her face so she is looking at him. He leans in, kisses her deeply, the sort of slow, leisurely kiss they rarely share, before resting his forehead against hers. “Would you still be here if I wasn't the king, if I was just Robb Stark again?”

Dacey knows what he is truly asking, and, what's more, she knows she should play dumb. But there is something about the Young Wolf which steals her sense, and so she vows, “I would love you no matter who you were.”

He takes her once more, holding her tightly as their hips meet; as Dacey peaks, gasping his name as she scratches down his back, Robb chants against her ear, “I love you, Dacey, I love you, I love you.”

Dacey understands men well enough to know you can hardly trust what they say as they spill their seed.

But, as Robb rides for the Crag, Dacey likes to think he meant what he said.

He returns from the Westerlands with another victory and a pretty Westerling wife. Dacey thinks the only person more shocked by the turn of events is Catelyn Stark.

Jeyne Westerling is everything Dacey is not: slight, slender, and beautiful. She sees the girl smile at Robb as if he hangs the moon, and Dacey wishes she could hate her but she can't. None of this is Jeyne Westerling's fault; there is only person responsible for this situation, and it is Robb Stark, the boy-king of the North.

He avoids her at first, and Dacey is grateful for it. She knows her mother is watching her carefully, trying to gauge what is going on inside of her, but Dacey refuses to fall apart. It is not as if she did not know she was going to lose Robb Stark to a wife; Westerling or Frey, Robb was never hers, and Dacey is not going to be broken by something she always knew was coming.

Robb finds her in the godswood one afternoon as she hunts for herbs, Grey Wind bumping the flat of his head against her thigh. She bends to ruffle his ears, allowing the direwolf to lick her chin, and Robb looks bothered by the affection his wolf has for her; Grey Wind has been spending time in a pen so as not to scare Robb's good-family, and Dacey suspects Grey Wind is trying to understand the changes in his world the way she is.

“Did you need something, your grace?” she asks as she draws herself to full height. She stands half of a foot taller than Jeyne Westerling, and today, dressed in men's garb with her bound tightly against the back of her head, Dacey knows she does not look particularly feminine.

Robb seems pained by the detachment in her voice. “Dacey...”

She doesn't want him to apologize or rationalize; he is not the first man to declare his love and then leave her. If anything, she wants him to leave her alone, leave her to the sweet memories she has of Robb Stark, the man who loves to use his mouth on her, who likes to watch her breasts bounce as she rides him, who snuggles up against her in his sleep as he buries his face in her throat. Robb Stark and King Robb have always been separate people in her life, and Dacey has no desire to merge them now.

But he is still a Stark of Winterfell, still too honorable for his own good, and so Robb offers, “I never meant to hurt you. You must believe that.”

“I do.”

“I meant everything I said,” he continues. “But I could not – I did not wish - “

“I understand, your grace. She's a young girl; her honor is important.”

Dacey has never much cared what others have thought of her; she knows what honor is and no Mormont has ever considered their honor held between their legs. Robb flushes with shame at her words, and she feels a peculiar sense of pride in it; let him be ashamed at bedding her a hundred times and never once caring for her honor because she had not come to his bed a maid but rushing to wed Jeyne Westerling after having her once. He should feel shame, not for wedding but for being so much like every other man Dacey has ever known.

She leaves him in the godswood, takes the herbs to her chambers and sets about making the tansy tea. The babe in her belly is only three moons gone; if she drinks it now, it will be a messy, painful affair for a few days, but it will certainly be less messy and painful than bringing Robb Stark's bastard into the world. It is not as if she has not cast an unwanted child from her womb before; it takes less time to brew the tea than it does to conceive.

But when Dacey lifts the cup to her lips, she cannot make herself drink it, cannot shed the child she made with Robb as easily as she shed the two who-never-were before it.

Her mother finds her crying over the tea, hot, angry tears coursing down her cheeks. Maege Mormont has never been the type of mother who coddles, who tells sweet lies to spare feelings, and Dacey is grateful for that; the matter-of-fact way about Maege Mormont is comforting in a way sweetness never is.

“It's the king's?”

Dacey nods.

Maege dips her finger into the tea, feels how cold it is. She sighs heavily, sinking into the chair before pronouncing, “Then you need to return to Bear Island.”

“The Ironborn - “

“We will find a way,” is all Maege says with a wave of her hand, and Dacey believes it. She has never heard her mother say anything that she does not fully believe.

Dacey is summoned to join the council meeting, and she expects to be asked about troop movements or opinions about how to best take back Winterfell.

Robb's back is to her when she enters, but Dacey quickly identifies those who are present: Edmure Tully, Greatjon, Jason Mallister, Galbart Glover, and her mother. She is confused for a moment, trying to figure out what her role is to be, when Lord Tully declares, “We hear you are breeding, Lady Mormont.”

Dacey instantly tenses, her eyes flicking angrily towards her mother, who meets her gaze without hesitation. After a moment, she manages, “Yes.”

“You'll be accompanying Lord Glover and Lord Mallister to Seagard. From there, you will sail for the Neck and Greywater Watch.”

Dacey blinks in confusion. “What? I don't understand.”

“You can hardly march on Moat Cailin in your condition,” Lord Tully explains, “and we need someone to carry the king's will safely to Lord Reed. That will be your duty to your king.”

Robb still has his back to her, and it angers her. But she is still a loyal subject to her king, so she nods. “If that is what the king commands, then I am happy to serve.”

There is judgment in all of the men's eyes, silent accusations and disdain, and it only serves to fuel the fire inside of her; she certainly did not climb on top of herself and get pregnant, but Dacey knows, when the whispers start, it will she who will be called “whore,” who will now never make a marriage. House Mormont has no funds for a dowry, and no man is going to want to raise the king's bastard child.

“We leave in the morn,” Jason Mallister informs her, and Dacey knows this is her dismissal. It does not matter how many times she has saved their lives in battle; now she is nothing more than the king's bed warmer.

Robb finally turns then, looks at the others and orders them to leave. Dacey feels their eyes on her, but she keeps her spine straight, refuses to act ashamed. Here I stand, she thinks sardonically as Robb comes around the table, a storm brewing in his eyes. Dacey expects him to snap at her for getting pregnant, to snap at her for hiding her pregnancy, to lash out in frustration; his temper is shorter than hers, and she once teased him about his wolf blood.

She doesn't anticipate his hand settling over her stomach, which is only just beginning to expand.

“We made a child.”

“Yes, your grace.”

Robb flinches, withdrawing his hand. “Dacey - “

“Please - “

Listen,” he interrupts, gently taking her by the shoulders. When he sees she is not going to argue, he explains, “You'll sail to Greywater Watch and deliver my will to Howland Reed. After Edmure's wedding, when we take back Moat Cailin and Winterfell, it will be safe for you to return to Bear Island. But should something happen to me, if I cannot get a child on Jeyne, then the child you carry is my heir.”

“A bastard cannot inherit.”

Robb picks up to sealed scrolls from his desk. “This is a decree which legitimizes the child you bear. It will be a Stark of Winterfell. If the worst happens, I need an heir, and there is no one left. Arya, Bran, Rickon...they're gone. Sansa is married to the Imp and Jon is a man of the Night's Watch. Until such time as Jeyne produces an heir, your child is the heir to Winterfell and the Northern throne.” Robb smiles. “But I do not plan on dying, so it is of no true concern.”

Dacey's hands shake as she accepts the scrolls. “Thank you, your grace.”

He cups her face, his thumbs caressing her cheekbones. “How many times must I tell you to call me Robb?”

His mouth tastes like wine, and Dacey allows herself to savor the slide of his tongue against hers, the familiar pressure of his lips; she knows this is likely the last kiss they will ever share, that once emotions have cooled, Robb's honor and respect for Jeyne will not allow for him to kiss her again. Dacey feels warmth begin to unfurl in her stomach as Robb's hand slips beneath her shirt, cupping her breast; she can feel his cock straining against his laces, and Dacey knows it would be unbearably easy to fuck Robb Stark while his bannermen wait outside.

And that is why Dacey breaks away, breathing hard as she looks upon Robb with his flushed cheeks and bright eyes.

“I shall see you after you take back the North, your grace.”

Robb nods, a shadow falling over his face. “Safe journey, Lady Mormont.”

It is the last time she ever sees Robb Stark.

Ravens cannot find Greywater Watch, and so it is nearly two moons before word reaches of the Red Wedding. Dacey is so heavy with child, she cannot see her feet, and, when Jyana Reed tells her that her mother is dead, that nearly all the Northern bannermen are dead, that Catelyn Stark's throat was slit and her body thrown into the river, Dacey feels the world start to spin. It is only when she learns of what has been done to Robb and Grey Wind that Dacey finally allows herself to cry, angrily sobbing and wailing as her child beat against her insides.

More news begins to trickle in: Joffrey Baratheon is dead, Tywin Lannister has been murdered by Tyrion Lannister, Sansa Stark has disappeared and is presumed dead, there is a siege at Riverrun, the Wall has been attacked by wildlings, Stannis Baratheon has gained control of Deepwood Motte and is marching for Winterfell. The news trickles in, but none of it seems particularly real at Greywater Watch, which is like nowhere else on earth.

Her son enters the world with a ferocious growl, part-wolf and part-bear; Dacey looks at his cap of russet curls and Tully blue eyes, and all she can see is the boy-king she loved and lost.

“You are the last wolf,” she whispers as he sleeps against her breast.

She calls him Brandon, a good Stark name for the last Stark, and hopes the world will be kinder to her son than it has been to her.

War and winter make it impossible for Dacey and little Brandon to leave Greywater Watch, and so Dacey becomes accustomed to its strangeness. She feels like a giant amongst the small crannogmen, but they are unbearably kind to her. Jyana makes a blanket for Brandon, calls him the little prince, and Dacey knows her own children went missing after Winterfell burned. Some nights, when grief gnaws at Dacey, she and Jyana share stories of the people who were taken. Dacey tells her of Maege Mormont's effortless strength and Robb's preference for the sour apples which grow in the Riverlands, and Jyana offers tales of Meera's skill with a frog spear and Jojen's gifts. She thinks Brandon's presence helps Jyana as much as it helps her, and Dacey doesn't mind so much when Lady Reed spends her days carrying Brandon as if he is her own child.

Dacey often thinks of her sisters, of Alysane who likely thinks she is now the Lady of Bear Island, of Lyra and Jorelle who are likely running wild without their mother to temper them, of little Lyanna who had been so jealous she couldn't go off to war. She misses her home, misses the scent of pine and salt, misses a place she knew which such certainty she did not even have to open her eyes to navigate her way. These past few years have been spent in camps and castles and strange holdfasts, and Dacey wants a home again, wants Brandon to know a home.

She isn't even sure anymore if it matters who wins the war. Little Tommen Baratheon is harmless enough, but he is surrounded by men and women who will call for the death of her son; Stannis Baratheon will never cede the North if he wins the throne. The Greyjoys will be beaten down; Dacey does not doubt that. But Winterfell is a ruin, her fellow soldiers are dead, and all that is left now is Brandon, who is the heir to a legacy which has not a sword left to fight for it.

Howland comes to her shortly after Brandon's first name day and announces they can get her safely to White Harbor. Dacey does not understand why the crannogman is insisting upon her going to Lord Manderly, but she bundles Brandon against her chest and makes the hard journey east. By the time they arrive in White Harbor, Dacey is sore, Brandon has caught a cold, and the last thing she wants is to listen to Lord Manderly chatter. But as they enter the dining hall, Dacey is stunned to see what remains of the Northern lords assembled; Howland Reed crosses the room to fat Lord Manderly and hands him the sealed scrolls Dacey took from Robb nearly two years earlier.

“Welcome to White Harbor, Lady Mormont.” Lord Manderly smiles, gestures to Brandon who is now wide awake and alert, staring at all the strange people. “This must be the little lord. What do you call him?”


“A good name.” As she unravels the bindings which keep Brandon against her, the boy moving his limbs gratefully, Lord Manderly adds, “My, he does look like his father, doesn't he?”

Dacey says nothing.

While Wyman Manderly begins to read Robb's words, Dacey looks at the men who swore their allegiance to Robb Stark, the men who stand the best chance at winning back the North. They still look at her as if she is something odd, but Dacey knows one day, when they tell the tale of Robb Stark, it is not her name they will villify. Poor Jeyne Westerling will always bear the brunt of Nothern rage, as if she was some evil seductress whom Robb was powerless to resist; they'll never say Robb was just a boy playing at being king, just a boy with a sweet heart who wanted to live up to his father's idea of honor. Dacey thinks of Jeyne Westerling often; she is the only other person who can possibly understand what it felt like to have known Robb and lost Robb the way they did.

She hears clicking on stone floors, and, as she twists her head around, she sees a direwolf: large, black, ferocious looking. Dacey knows the normal response would be fear, but all she can think as a little boy with auburn hair chases after the wolf is, for the first time since the Red Wedding, the North may stand a chance after all.

The wolves were not gone after all, simply hiding.

When the fighting is done, when the dragons have returned and the Seven Kingdoms are once again separate kingdoms, after the Wall has fallen and the others pushed back, Jon Snow insists she and Brandon come to Winterfell. Alysane is holding Bear Island, but, like it or not, her son is the King in the North and Winterfell is his seat.

Robb had named Catelyn the regent in the event of his death, but, with Catelyn gone as well, Jon has taken over the rebuilding and ruling of the North until Brandon is of age. Rickon is fond of his nephew, takes him under his wing and lets him play with Shaggydog; Osha, the wildling woman who has spent years caring for the youngest Stark, tells her that Brandon will be a great man. Dacey smiles indulgently, but she does not need this woman's predictions to know it.

Sansa comes first, escorted by Hardyngs from the Vale; she stays close to her brothers and dotes upon Brandon. When Arya arrives with a motley crew of men a few moons later, she has the armorer make Dacey a new ax, and Dacey is not sure how to take the gesture until Jon Snow assures her that it is Arya's way of saying thank you.

For what? Dacey wants to ask. Robb is still dead, Catelyn is still dead, Winterfell is still in ruin; Dacey is not sure what she has possibly done which deserves any sort of gratitude from the Starks.

“You gave us back Robb,” Sansa explains one evening as Brandon squeals with delight as Rickon chases him around the room.

Bran never returns. Neither do Jyana's children.

Jeyne Westerling arrives at Winterfell after the first snow melt, an invited guest of House Stark. She is still Robb's queen, and, when she arrives, Dacey makes certain she and Brandon stay out of view. Dacey does not know if Robb ever told Jeyne of the relationship they once had, if he told her that his loyal guard was pregnant with his child; Dacey does not much about Robb's time with Jeyne.

Jeyne finds her on the second day of her stay. She is as beautiful as she ever was, but, like all of them, war has aged her; the brightness in her eyes is gone, replaced by weariness and uncertainty. Dacey has heard the rumors that Jeyne's mother played a role in the Red Wedding, but Dacey does not believe for a moment Jeyne Westerling played a part in Robb's death.

Dacey stands when Jeyne enters the room, offering a curtsy as she murmurs, “Your grace.”

Jeyne recoils from the title. “Jeyne is fine, Dacey.” She hesitates for a moment. “Do you mind if I call you Dacey?”

She shakes her head, returning her attention to the yard where Brandon is attempting to mount Shaggydog like a pony. “You may call me whatever you like.”

Jeyne comes to stand beside her, watching Brandon romp. After a moment, she says, “Robb would be so proud of him.”

Dacey can hear the tears in her voice. She knows she should apologize for bearing Robb's son, but she doesn't; Brandon was conceived before Robb even knew Jeyne Westerling existed, and it is not Dacey's fault Jeyne did not have a child during her brief marriage. “I like to hope so.”

They stand in silence watching her son for several minutes before Jeyne blurts out, “Did you love him?”

Dacey does not know how to quantify what she felt for Robb Stark, how to explain the complicated emotions she felt and continues to feel for the boy-king who died before his time. Finally, she decides just to offer the simplest answer, sparing Jeyne the complicated details of it all.


Jeyne nods, wrapping her arms around herself. “Me, too.”

When Brandon comes inside, flinging himself against her legs, his auburn curls sticking to his forehead with sweat as he grins up at her, all Dacey can see is Robb as she prefers to remember him: young, energetic, and playful. Dacey bends, scooping the King of the North into her arms and kissing his ruddy cheek.

Some day she will tell Brandon about his father, tell him of his bravery and strength, the kindness he showed his people and the many victories he won. Some day she will explain to him why it is important to love the North and its people.

But Dacey hopes he never asks why, when they tell tales of the Young Wolf, they never mention his love for Dacey Mormont, the Lady of Bear Island.