Jeyne I: 301 AC
Jeyne sat upright in her bedroll, studying the features of the once-broken man who lay not a foot from her.
Theon was ironborn. And iron would break before it bent.
He had been saying that of late. That, accompanied with mantras of “Theon of House Greyjoy,” and sometimes simply “Theon.” She did not know if it did more harm than good with his already fragile mindset, but she was in no position to say as much.
There was an air of tragic beauty about the man. She both admired and pitied him, yet thought him the bravest man she had ever known.
Jeyne did not romanticize the things he had done, nor did she vilify them. She simply observed.
She saw the youngest son that had been raised in the greenland as a hostage. She saw an older sister, groomed to claim his birth right. She saw a son's attempt to prove his loyalty and ability to his father. A desperate attempt to make good on a threat. She saw a desperate man. She saw a man broken, beaten, tortured and starved into madness. She saw a man who saved her with a lie. A man who risked everything to save her. And she saw a hated man, dubbed Kinslayer and Turncloak, abhorred by all the North.
Not by me, not me.
"I don't hate you." She expected no response from the sleeping man and got none.
Theon was not a Northman. He’d been there, as a ward, since the age of nine, and had been taught those ways and customs, but the sea was in his eyes. You cannot freeze the sea.
Her own eyes were red and dry, and her lids threatened to remain closed every time she blinked. No. Please no. When she slept, she was back in Winterfell, back with her husband.
"Husband." She spat the word. Because of him, she would wake screaming and crying, oft with Theon's fingers laced between her own, once even running them through her hair. She smiled plaintively at the thought.
Theon I: 301 AC
"Where about did you say you was from, old man?" The man spoke the words in the common tongue of Westeros with a heavy Bravosii accent. The last two stung, but he paid them no mind. Words are wind.
"White 'arbor, ser." The best lies have a bit of truth in them. Who was it that said those very words to him once before?
He had spent most of his life in the North and his speech would give him away as a northerner to any Westerosi. The big fisherman eyed him before shoving a small sack of crabs and a smaller coin purse into his arms, ushering him off the fishing ship. The Bearded Clam was her name, and every time he looked at the hull and read it, he wanted to laugh at the crudeness of it. But William of White Harbor could not read.
He quickened his pace once off the ship. Slipping the flat purse into an inner pocket of his salt caked cloak, he loosed the dirk he had hidden beneath his small clothes. He tossed the small sack of deepwater king crabs over one shoulder, looking up and squinting at the low sun. I will not make it before dark. It had taken them nearly an extra fortnight to return to Braavos than had been originally anticipated. He had watched the storm take four men with it back into the depths of the shivering sea. He wondered if Jeyne thought him dead. Likely.
He walked in the deep blue of the young night. It gave him no stars; only a waxing moon, casting a dim path upon the water of the canals. He felt eyes upon him, unnerving him. Theon did not dare reach for his hidden dirk, and instead thanked the gods he kept a dagger in his sleeve. He increased his pace and escaped back into his thoughts.
He thought of his sister, Asha. He wondered what had become of her. She was a cunt but she was of my blood. Or is, for that matter. He grinned inwardly, she is the reason we are here, and he could never repay her for that.
He thought of Westeros, of the war.
He thought about these dragons he'd heard so much about.
And of Bran and Rickon. May the gods protect them both, new gods and old. Drowned God and Lord of Light. All of them. In his experience –of which he had much– there must always be a Stark in Winterfell. It cannot work any other way.
And Jeyne. He thought of her most of all.
His boots padded on the earthen ground as he leapt over a small, one-foot-wide cannel. The people outside and in the streets were growing more sparse, and the store fronts were growing dark. He fixated on getting home. If you can even call it a home. It was a hovel, and Theon had no intention of spending winter in it.
He contemplated dropping the crabs, but decided against it. He passed a fat man with thin legs that he thought he had seen before, and when he past him a third time, the man tackled him, throwing him into an alley. Theon stumbled and fell, struggling to get to his feet. The man drew a cheap, crudely made steel short sword, tossing it from hand to hand, brandishing it like some showman as he approached.
"You yell, you die."
The man spoke Bravosii, a tongue Theon had been forced to take up quickly in his line of work. He did not plan on yelling or dying, and played the part of the frightened old man well.
"P-please," he whispered in halting Bravosi, "T-take anything, d-don't hurt me, I beg you."
But the big Bravosi did not have mercy for the weak. He bent down to Theon’s level, making to pick up the bag of crabs, Theon thought. But the hilt of the man's short sword cracked across his face, breaking his nose. Theon gasped, swallowing his screams. He looked up at the man through teary eyes. The man was smiling. "Your purse."
Feigning terror, he stood on shaky legs, fumbling with the inside of his tunic where the purse was. For a moment his fingers glanced across the hilt of the dirk hidden there, but he thought better and wrapped his fingers around the deflated bit of cloth. Wordless, the fat man held out his left hand, sword raised in the right. Simply by how he held it, Theon knew he did not know how to wield it properly. Good, he thought, he will die tonight. And I will be the one to kill him.
Quick as an eel, Theon lashed out at the man, punching him in the eye with the hilt of the hunting dagger he’d removed from his sleeve. The man screamed and fell back hard on his arse. His eye was gone. Theon straddled his fat girth and gave him a red smile, silencing him quickly. He could hear his own heart, loud as war drums. He heard himself saying "Theon Greyjoy, son of Pyke, ironborn. Theon Greyjoy, son of Pyke, ironborn, Theon Greyjoy, son of Pyke, ironborn. Ironborn ironborn ironborn ironborn" He silenced himself. Stop, stop. It frightened Jeyne when he did that. And himself a bit too, he supposed. He heard dogs barking off in the distance. Gathering his wits, he searched the man and found two flat money purses and silver ring worn on the thief's pinky that would have been too large for Theon's thumb. He kicked the body into the nearest cannel, picked up the short sword and crabs, and ran.
Jeyne II: 302 AC
Perspiring from concentration, she pushed her hair back, tucking it into the ribbon she wore about her dark tangles every day. It seemed so out of place amongst the mattes and snarls. Perhaps that was why she liked it so much.
Jeyne didn't know the name of the woman who payed for her needlework, she was known simply as The Black Pearl. And until she saw the amount of rich merchants and traders that passed in and out of her bed chambers, Jeyne had simply thought a courtesan to be a beautiful noble woman. In truth, she was a whore. An exclusive whore. I am a whore's seamstress. She grinned at the thought, though she did not know why.
She'd grown to dislike needlework, doing nothing but for near twelve hours a day, it was not surprising. She neglected the repairs desperately needed on her own clothes, still having yet to mend the tears she had made during her short period of mourning for a man not actually dead.
The stubborn strand of hair landed beside her nose once more. She placed the half finished embroidery on the wooden table and strode off towards the servant's quarters, wherein a small, oval mirror was hung at face level. She looked the part she was playing, all except for the ribbon. She tugged the end of it and her knotty deep chestnut locks spilled down, framing her white neck. She held the ribbon of silk in her hands, studying it. It was the exact shade of the blue plate of her House sigil. It was likely the most expensive thing she owned now. Theon had given it to her, with no explanation as to how he got it or why he had given it to her. "You deserve it," was all he had said.
She tore her gaze from from the silk and raised her eyes to her reflection. She was no longer pretty, not that it mattered any more. The tip of her nose was flat and scarred from where she she was forced to cut it off due to frost bite. Her eyes were large, deep and sunken, like a tired fish that had come to land and sprouted legs... Her cheeks were not high, but they were defined, though more from weight than from bone structure. She combed her hair back with her fingers as best she could, pinning it in place and wrapping the ribbon about it. She gave a small smile to the reflection and felt a strange feeling she hadn't felt since before Littlefinger had taken her five years ago. A lack of sadness. Not true happiness, but not sadness. Content, she thought, tightening the bow, I am content.
She kicked loose gravel with leather clad feet, making her way back to the hovel she shared with Theon Greyjoy. She walked past the girl calling out "Cockles, clams, fresh oysters! Cockles!" And wove between the tumult of Braavosi sailors that poured from one brothel or another. She had no coin on her, so she needn't worry about being pick pocketed by any of them. She passed The House of Black and White and passed the boulders that acted as walls against storms. She passed the alley where Theon had killed a mugger, and leapt over the cannel he had disposed of him in. The thought of anyone trying to harm the man in any way made her feel oddly and fiercely protective of him.
Theon II: 302 AC
He sat at the table, wrapping the fine twine around both shaft and fletch, making sure everything was balanced. He wasn't usually one to make an arrow, though he knew how. With wood, not damned reeds. The lack of trees posed a problem, he wasn't exceedingly skilled at the craft with wood, and it was exponentially more difficult with the relatively light weight of the thick reeds that grew in the channels near the Purple Harbor.
He'd been forbidden by Jeyne to return to his work as a fisherman, and she had sought out one of few people in Braavos that knew who the two truly were; Tycho Nestoris. She embellished his skill with a bow, claiming him to have been the best bowman in the North, and the best bowman of Braavos– seven fingers and all. The gaunt banker had a friend whose son wished to learn archery, so it happened. As with all things in life it seemed, the banker had his conditions. He wanted a demonstration prior to recommending Theon to his associate. Though he possessed a bow– a very nice one, in truth– he had no arrows with which he could loose. So here I sit. Crafting piss poor arrows in a hovel in Braavos. Who'd have thought I'd be here five years ago? He squinted and leaned closer to his work, thinking about the past five years. Though mostly about the past two. Specifically the past eight months. A thought passed his consciousness, and it almost made him grin.
“But why should I change mine too, Theon?” She wretched and spilled the contents of her stomach into the sea.
He could not see them, but he knew the fish were there, feasting on her vomit. She pulled back from the rail and put her back to it, gripping its bars. She wiped her mouth on her sleeve, then stuck out her tongue and used the other to wipe that off as well. He could barely see her face at this hour, he guessed it to be the hour of the wolf. It was quiet on deck and the sea was smooth, yet she still managed to wretch up all she'd eaten in the past three days.
“You-you-you said that banker knows who I am. No one cares, that Jeyne is the next thing to a…to a whore, remember?”
He meant no hurt to her. It was for her own good, and his. “Jeyne, I didn’t mean it in that way. I mean it,” how had he meant it? No, no I did mean it in that way, I did. But the girl was so weak now, so fragile. He could not tell her that. “I-I was afraid, Jeyne. I am sorry. I simply mean that it is best for continuity. If I must take the guise of another, it is best you do as well.” That was the truth as well. “Who are you going to be, then?”
"Beth,” her voice was forlorn and distant, as though the wind had caught it and taken much of it away. “A seamstress from Sisterton."
"Will hails from White Harbor. How did the two meet?"
She eyed at him sidelong through thick black lashes, "The best lies often have a grain of truth to them." She studied his face with doe eyes; almost searching for something. "But I do not think this one will." He gave her a small, sheepish grin. If one could so much as even call it that. A twitch of the lips, more like.
"Beth was a whore forced into working in a brothel in Sisterton–“
"What was its name?" Theon interrupted.
"The brothel. Its name.“
"It doesn't matter."
"Yes it does. You have to know it, in case anyone were to ask." You have to know the name.
She ignored him and continued with her faux history. "But a fishing ship that was blown off course came to port, and a fisherman named William rescued her, and the two found refuge upon a smugglers ship bound for Braavos."
He nearly asked her what he would have rescued her from. Why a whore would need rescuing. Theon looked at her for a long moment before saying "But neither of use have ever been to the Sisters, let alone Sisterton. We won't know the streets if we're asked.”
"Fine. Beth. Brothel whore of White Harbor."
She had said the lie would have no truth to it, yet it did. All of it, she changed everything, but kept it the same.
Jeyne didn't say anything after that, and the darkness masked any sign of expression he could have hoped to read. He left her there, on the deck, below the red comet and gibbous moon, but before he could, he turned around and called out to her.
“And why would William rescue Beth, then? You would have had to tell people that too, Jeyne."
There was a brief pause before her cryptic response."Why did you rescue me?"
Because I had to. Because I wanted to. Because she needed it. Because I needed it. Because it was my fault she was even there. My fault she ended up in Winterfell.
Theon would never tell her this. He knew what she would say. He placed the extra twine into the blade of the small knife with the fleshy pad of his thumb. He pressed it hard, too hard. A red droplet began to form at the fingertip. He sat there, studying it as the dome spilt over the edge of his left thumb. He never took my thumbs, he thought, he was never so cruel as to take them.
Jeyne III: 302 AC
Her mother told her once that memories were like hair. You had to trim the old to make way for the new. That even if you don't want to, you forget. You forget and replace them with new ones. She couldn't remember her mother's face anymore. She'd died when Jeyne was very young. Uncanny that the single memory she still had of her was about memory. She sat at the table and held the broken comb in her hands. Her scalp still hurt where the matt had snapped it in two. Jeyne opened the small hand mirror that had been a gift from The Black Pearl, and looking at herself, began to weep.
Her hair was the one thing she had left to remind her of her family. Of her father. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the feeling of his hands running through it. She wept louder when she realized she couldn't. She had lost the memory to the scissors of time, which would eventually claim more cherished memories of her once life, until they were gone. And nothing but blurred fragments remained.
No, not all of them. No matter how old she got, she would always remember parts of her childhood. She smiled through the tears. Her mother was wrong about that.
There were always moments she could recall perfectly. Day to day memories– the sort of which seemed so trite. There were always those memories one never had the intention of remembering in full clarity, but stuck with her anyway. She’d always thought she was alone in this, that no one else had the same outré ability as she, that she was special. But on their way to court, Sansa had mused about the very same thing.
The first clear day-to-day memory Jeyne could recall was when she was six. As a child, Jeyne had liked insects*. Worms*, beetles, spiders*, all of them. Even Sansa hadn’t minded them. She remembered it raining for two days straight, so that all the worms came out from beneath the cracks of the flagstone road. They spent two hours saving worms from being run over by passing carriages, stopping only when Old Nan caught them, telling them off for being unladylike. It wasn’t an interesting memory, boring one, in truth. She hadn’t the faintest notion why her mind had decided to keep it in such pristine condition, to hold onto it, but it had.
She tucked the small mirror into a pocket beneath her apron. The backs of her fingers brushed against cold steel. The dagger. Not entirely sure why, she wrapped her fingers around the hilt of the thing and withdrew it from the folds of her dress. She stared at it. It was not large, not a hunting knife her father or Lord Eddard would have used, but small. Not used for piercing skin, but for cutting rope or chopping fruits. But that did not mean that it couldn't pierce flesh. Jeyne closed her eyes.
"Memories are like hair, sweet Jeyne,"
There was no figure to the voice, no voice at all, really. She no longer could recall her mother's voice. The memory seemed to come to her in the form of a book or letter, as if she were reading it.
"No they're not. They're not at all like hair." She imagined a beautiful woman combing her younger selfs hair, as her mother had been.
"Yes they are. New ones sprout up," She combed a few fingers through Jeyne's roots, "And grow and grow and grow, until they become old." She pulled her fingers the entire length of the girl's hair. "And they begin to split, and are no longer whole." She pinched a few strands between her thumb and forefinger and placed them between Jeyne's eyes.
"And you must cut off the old," She dropped the strands, "So the new can grow healthy and strong."
Jeyne didn't realize how hard she'd been clutching the knife in her hand. Her knuckles were white and when she opened her palm, her fingers were a pinkish red.
She unsheathed the blade, not bothering with the mirror, she raised it to her dirty, snarled hair and began to hack away at it.
A clump fell and landed in her lap. Watching Lord Beric die at the Tourney of the Hand.
Another clump. Father's death.
And another. Watching Lord Stark beheaded on the steps of the Great Sept.
And another. The nights spent crying in the red keep afterwords.
Roose, and Ramsey, and the wedding, and the bedding, and the deaths, and the rapes, and the beatings, and the dog, and–
She didn't realize he had come home until he was next to her. She was in hysterics now, mucus caked the bottom of her nose and her eyes hurt, everything was blurred. She looked at him, expecting to see unease or curiosity written upon his face, but she saw nothing. He gently prod the knife from her hand and wrapped his arms around her shoulders without a word. Jeyne clutched at his chest, grabbing two fistfuls of his tunic and sobbed.
Theon ran three fingers through the inch of hair she had left. She pulled away from him, looking up into his tar black eyes. She found herself studying his face. He looked different than from when she had first glimpsed the white haired skeleton beside Ramsey. He looked better. She half wished she could say the same for herself. She tried to look away but couldn’t. She absently ran her fingers through the stubby hair atop her head. The hair she had left had known Braavos and Theon. No horrid other memories clung to it. The hair had never seen Westeros. Never met Sansa. Had never known war. Had never–
"Don't cry," His eyes are like tar, “it's over.”
A callused thumb wiped fresh tears from her eyes and took her hand. The once signature smile of Theon Greyjoy threatened to rear its head as she looked at him. She wanted to say that it's never over. That it will never end. That no matter how far you run, it would catch up.
But she didn't. Instead she wiped mucus on the back of her sleeve and leaned her head on his shoulder.
*Worms (earthworms) are Annelids. As far as spiders, let’s just say I’m talking about Arthropods.
Theon III: 302 AC
Someone was prodding him. Pushing the small of his back. Go away. He curled his body up as small and tight as he could, ignoring it.
The prodding continued, more insistent, with more strength and increased vigor. He groaned. A thin hand took his shoulder and turned him over onto his back.
"Theon, we're going to be too late."
His eyes snapped open, meeting a dimly lit face of slight vexation. He blinked hard and let his eyes adjust. "What in seven hells are you wearing?" He croaked.
The lithe seamstress was holding a wooden bath pail and had donned a pair of old brown britches, a black tunic, and the squirrel pelt cloak she had arrived in the city with. On her feet she wore tall leather riding boots that he had never seen before, and decided not to ask how she’d acquired them. He noticed a splash of blue at her neck, and saw that she was wearing the silk ribbon there, tied in a bow at the back.
"It is easier to transverse in this city as a man, I think. Particularly at night."
Theon laughed humorlessly, "You look nothing like a man!"
She was beginning to remind him of Arya.
No, not Arya. Jeyne is Jeyne. She has changed. But into what, he was not entirely sure yet. But it was a good change. Not just how she looked, but who she was. Not intrepid, not yet. But…something.
She narrowed her eyes and said defensively, crossing her arms, "I haven't got much to show for teats and I've short hair. Maybe not a man, but a boy at the least."
He heard himself indignantly argue back before he could catch himself. "Boys aren't beautiful."
"I was pretty. I was never beautiful like Sansa, but they all said I was pretty."
It seemed so unimportant at the time, compared to all else. But he remembered it. And it followed him all the way to Braavos. He needed to passively and ambiguously ...do...something.
It sat heavy on his conscious and he hadn't the slightest idea why.
He touched a piece of lace through gloved hands.
Because no one should ever tell a child, a girl, that her best friend is beautiful, while she is only pretty.
He tutted aloud and passed a roll of fabric that he was not familiar with. It was soft looking, and he removed a glove and ran thumb and forefinger down the length of the deep blue strip of fabric. It felt like thick peach fuzz. His eye caught another, a purple one, and he turned it back and forth, catching the rays of sunlight the poured in thought the windows and open door. He eyed white gossamer and black chiffon before turning to the silks. They were what he had come in for. They sat next to the black, white and cream rolls of lace he had been admiring before. He had gone to three different fabric shoppes in search of the correct shade of silk.
'A blue plate on a white field with a grey tressure.'
It had to be the exact blue. He wanted her to know the moment she saw it that it was hers.
He removed the glove once more and ran his fingers down the grain of the fabric. He turned to the the dark thin woman who had been dogging his every step since he had entered her store. He must have looked an oddity, completely out of place in such a setting. Curling his lips over his teeth, he asked in his best Braavosi accent, "How much for sixteen inches of this?"
She eyed him sidelong for what seemed like an hour before she replied "Three silvers."
He had known she would increase the price, simply because of how he looked, but the Myrish silk was from Essos, it should not have been nearly as expensive as it was in Westeros. Three silver pieces was nearly a week’s worth of pay. He did not say anything, and the thin woman took that as his response. She sneered.
"I suggest you show yourself out."
She looked him up and down and made a face. Before she turned her back to him, he heard himself reply, "Then I will take it. Please cut it at an angle so to prevent fraying, and if you would be so kind to melt and not burn the edges when sealing it. I do not want my Lady to be scratched."
His word choice was much more Theon Greyjoy than Will of White Harbor. And she heard it.
Her lips pursed, and in heavily accented common Westerosi, she said "You dress in rags and yet you speak like one who is King. Tell me, are you King of Westeros?"
Run, run, run, run, forget the silk, RUN "No, m'lady." He ducked his head and dug out three silver pieces, quickly snatched away by long clawed fingers. She then bit each piece in turn, insulting him further.
He walked out of the store ten minuets later with the ribbon curled up in one of his breast pockets. He turned around to face the shop once more, glancing for the last time at the silk and lace.
Lace is pretty, but silk is beautiful.
He looked down at the blue ribbon that he did not remember removing from his pocket and couldn't help but think of her deep brown eyes and small nose with the pock mark on the tip of it. And the thin lips that she bit the dead and cracked skin off of so often that they were red and puffy. He thought of how thin her wrists were and how white her skin was. He thought of how she'd recognized him as Theon the second she saw him. And how she knew what he had done but had not once called him Turncloak or Kinslayer. She never did explain why.
Jeyne was a skittish child, easy to frighten, easy to weep. But now she was a survivor of war, she was what war made her. Like him.
Lace is pretty but silk is beautiful, like Jeyne.
She did not say anything about the comment, just looked at him queerly then threw him his seal skin cloak.
AN: At one point, Theon actually calls Sansa “pretty” and not beautiful: “Arya Underfoot, he almost said. Arya Horseface. Robb’s younger sister, brown-haired, long-faced, skinny as a stick, always dirty. Sansa was the pretty one. He remembered a time when he had thought that Lord Eddard Stark might marry him to Sansa and claim him for a son, but that had only been a child’s fancy.”
Jeyne IV: 302 AC
She had her arm looped through his, the same as the day he gave her away to Ramsey. She closed her eyes and shook her head at the thought, grimacing.
She pulled him along the back roads of the city, and together they watched the sunlight skip across the canal water, making it look as though it were on fire, and skimmed the rooftops of small dilapidated houses. None of its rays fell on the pair as they walked through the cool, rain slick streets of south-western Braavos.
To his credit, Theon hadn't asked where she was leading them yet. But from how tight he held her arm and the stiffness of his face, it would be soon.
"We're nearly there," She smiled and let her left hand find his gloved right, lacing their fingers together. And for a moment, they ran. And she was Jeyne Poole of Winterfell again, and she was running in the godswood, and her father was there, and she was telling him how much she loved him and he was telling her how proud of her he was.
The illusion was over when Theon let go of her, and looked down at his feet, forlorn. In a small voice, she heard him croak out "Jeyne…I,”
And she remembered. His toes. The bastard took his toes too. Waves of unwanted pity swept over her, she ignored it. No one wants pity. Most of all him. Jeyne closed the space between them. She slipped her hand once more in his, tilting his chin up with the other. He refused to meet her eyes.
He had been so proud once.
"You hide it so well, I forget." When that failed to place a sly grin across his face, she squeezed his hand and promised "You will enjoy this. I swear it."
Theon IV: 302 AC
The houses were growing more and more sparse as they hopped over two canals, and passed at least half a dozen fish wives. They were in a small pinewood now, Theon stood next to a mossy, ancient looking carved soapstone grotto.
"Jeyne, look at–“
She impatiently took his arm, “come."
He wondered why he let himself be pushed around by such a little thing. He turned to look over his shoulder, catching a final glimpse of the antediluvian structure before his vision was overtaken by the giant pines. "I want to stop there on the way back."
It seemed that only seconds passed before he smelt the air and saw the boulders at the parting of pines. I know where we are. "Why are–“
She turned around and looked at him for half a second before turning back around. "Hush! You will see!"
Jeyne climbed simian-like down the steep rock face. He followed with no where near the amount of sure footedness. Once at the bottom, she smiled and held out her hand, offering him assistance. His pride did not let him take it, and instead he shot her look of contempt and dropped the two yards between him and the ground. I should be sleeping. We’ve yet to even break fast.
She smirked at him. He wondered who she'd picked that up from.
"Do you trust me?"
He looked at her, slightly taken aback.
She repeated herself "Do you trust me?"
"Good." She began to untie the silk ribbon from her neck, "Now turn round and close your eyes."
Hesitantly, he obliged and felt the ribbon blindfold his eyes.
"Jeyne, what are you doing? Why are we here? What is all this?”
"Hush up.” She took his hand and led him closer to the shoreline. He could hear the wooden pail knock her shins with every other stride she took, and the roar of salt water became increasingly louder. "Now sit."
"On what? Where?" The annoyance in his voice was notable.
"The sand." She said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Groping for the ground with one hand and holding hers in the other, he sat in the cool winter sand. Soon she was tugging at at one of his boots.
"Stop, stop stop. What is all this? What are we doing here?" He tugged the boot out of her grasp and made to lift the ribbon from his eyes. Abandoning the boot, she grabbed both his wrists and pinned them to the ground.
She sounded angry now. And a little hurt. "Seven bloody fucking hells! Do you you or do you not trust me, Theon Grey-“ she caught herself “Do you trust me or not?”
He had never heard her swear that...fluently. Nor had he ever gotten her angry enough to call him by his surname. He immediately regretted resisting. "Yes,” he nearly shouted his response.
"Then let me do this." She removed both boots and instructed him to stand, he obeyed, the cold slightly damp sand sinking between his toes as he did so.
He felt two cool hands lace through what was left of his fingers and tug him forward. He walked blindly for ten yards, occasionally being told to take larger steps to avoid crushed and jagged shells. Then, once he felt the icy waters of the junction of the Narrow and Shivering, a voice softer than air whispered "Are your eyes closed?"
"Yes." His voice was scratchy and deep, yet just as soft and quiet as hers.
She held his disfigured, three fingered left hand in both of hers, "Do you know where you are?"
He was confused then. "Braavos' shore line. The Narrow Sea."
"How do you know?"
He made a face "Because we're in Braavos. And we've been to this shoreline before."
"But you don't know for sure, do you? It could be any beach. Just listen and smell. You don't have to be in Braavos. Where else could you be?"
Theon immediately realized what she was doing and wanted to rip his heart from his chest before it broke. "Pyke." His voice cracked. In truth he doubted he would ever go back there. But...he wanted to see his mother. He needed a mother.
"What's it look like?"
He didn't know why she was doing this, and couldn't decide if he liked it or not. "Nice. Ships. Fishing ships, not war galleys. Sloops mostly. No one else is there. Just you and I."
He saw Jeyne and himself on the beach, holding hands. He looked like the old Theon, and Jeyne bore no scars of abuse. They were eating lemon cakes because Jeyne had insisted on it. She was talking about how beautiful everything was on the island. He was boasting that the small island had been the home of krakens once, and that the powerful creatures on his sigil were the very same ones. Jeyne was unimpressed, and proceeded to tell him of the meaning of her family sigil.
Her house was not a ruling house. Not even a noble house, but a knightly house. Centuries back, they had not even been a house, but a family of craftsmen, specializing in ceramics. Her 10 times over great grand father had saved Lord Theon Stark from an arrow loosed by a Bolton when the two houses still fought.
Centuries had made the line between truth and fiction blur, it was both said that he threw the plate and hit the archer in the neck, killing him before the arrow could loose, and that he jumped in front of Lord Theon, blocking arrow.
He smiled at her and told her that it was funny how history repeats itself. She smirked that charming way she had become so taken with recently and said that history never repeats itself. It simply "Re-tests us until we get the answer right."
He asked her, half serious, if she thought that they got it right.
She laughed and said they got it right the first time.
He told her none of that. "My mother is on Harlaw. I've never been there."
"Well then we must go there some day." She patted his cheek before kissing it, then the other. Looping her arm once more through his, she said “Happy twenty-second name-day, brave kraken.”
Stiffening, he pulled the ribbon down and looked at her in shock, "Name-day?"
"The 129th day of the year. Your name-day."
Theon hadn’t even remembered his own name-day. But Jeyne did. He eyed her almost surreptitiously "How did you know?"
She reddened at her ears "I...grew up with you."
He was painfully aware that he had no idea when hers was. Theon embraced her tight, lifting her off the ground and spinning with her, causing her to drop the pail. "Thank you, sweet Jeyne. Thank you. Thank you."
He felt her facial muscles curl up into a smile against his cheek as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "You're welcome."
He placed her down and she smirked up at him again, then looked around at the people that were starting to come to the waterline, digging for clams.
She looked concernedly at the dropped wooden pail, and said more to herself than him "Damn. I wanted to look for shells." Picking up the pail, she gave a sharp look at the nearest woman.
Theon felt a stab of guilt at his earlier protests.
Pulling the ribbon from his neck, he tugged the knot out and walked up behind Jeyne, placing it at the flat of her throat. She stood up straight, placing a sandy hand to her neck, but she did not turn around. It took him a while. His remaining fingers seemed to have forgotten how to do something so simple. When he did finish, she turned around and patted the bow, making it lay flat.
She waited for him to put his boots back on, and walked the length of the beach in silence with her.
Why did you save me?
She had asked him that on the boat. How long ago was that? It couldn't be much over year if this was his twenty-second name-day. She knows my name-day. He wondered if she was still fifteen, or if she’d had her name-day already since they’d arrived in Essos.
It began to snow. He looked over at Jeyne and watched it kiss her face, cling to her black eyelashes and settle in her two inches of chestnut hair– melting, and turning the dark strands black.
It wasn't until then that he finally knew exactly why she had been worth risking everything for. Jeyne began a slow poising process of Reek the first time she saw him, for she had called him Theon. Never Reek, even when he begged it of her. With her, it was as if Reek had never existed.
I would die for her. Even if I had everything I ever wanted and I was happy, I would give my life if she asked it of me.
He wasn't sure if that was love or devotion. Loyalty, perhaps. In the end, it all came down to the same basic components: care and protection. And gods knew she was the only one he felt that for anymore.
When had he grown to care so much for her? He thought perhaps at Stannis' camp. Or maybe during the time spent in the woods with Tycho, when Jeyne curled up into his gaunt, concave chest and cried for hours. Or maybe before that, even. He knew it was before they arrived in Braavos. It was when she asked why I saved her.
A large white conch still inhabited by the creature was in her hands. She looked at him pointedly. "Do you know how to cook these?"
Jeyne V: 303 AC
Wanderlust, that was what it was called, wanderlust; traveling for the sake of travel.
No particular destination in mind, Jeyne let her mind roam as she walked along Braavos' shoreline. Clad in a cuffed pair Theon's britches and an old cloak, she combed the damp sand for opalescent shells large enough to be made into buttons.
Jeyne closed her eyes and thought of her father. How he'd go into the godswood to think, telling her "It is easier to think when you weren't in your own home." Then she thought of what Theon had said in his sleep the first night in Braavos, and wished she hadn't.
"I am not in my own mind."
She stopped, crouching down to inspect what looked to be a small piece of abalone shell. Deciding it was large enough to be made into a tiny button, she scooped it up and placed it in her wooden wash bucket. Jeyne stood and paused for a moment, looking out to sea, keeping her eyes open against the eastern wind, letting them tear over.
She had come here by sea. With Theon. She sighed and let her eyes trail a gull as it darted between sand and shore.
All coast lines look the same. Sand, water and stone. She smiled at the thought. Theon would have shot that notion down as soon as it left her mouth.
Theon and the sea. They went hand in hand. You can't think of one without thinking of the other.
But that wasn't quite true. Theon was Theon, with or without the sea. But for her... The sea is Theon. A destroyer. A refuge. An escape. Jeyne tore her eyes from the gull and looked out to the receding surf. The embodiment of strength.
There was always a seed of noncompliance in him, at his best and at his worst. And Jeyne had known both. He never really did give up. She watched as in the distance, a tiny sloop bobbed among the waves. Even when he thought he had. He never did. Not really.
But she had. No one had saved her from the pains of Littlefinger. After she left his brothel, it simply got worse. Winterfell was truly the innermost layer of hell.
"No one will go to the rescue of a drowning man if his cries are feeble."
She could not remember where she heard the line. A bard, Old Nan, father, perhaps even Theon himself, though she doubted it.
She had asked, begged, pleaded for his help. First on her wedding night, and every night after.
"Please," she had begged, "please help me." And he had been silent. Never saying a word. He would just plead with her to be Arya. And to always do as Lord Ramsey bid her to do. Then he would wash her in silence, his taciturnity only unnerving her further. Save for one day.
She sobbed as he poured the warm water down her back, splashing it over the sides of the wash basin. He began gently massaging soapy circles into her back with a cloth, ignoring her tears. When he emptied the next pale on her head, she looked up and watched the steam rise to the stone ceiling. Jeyne swallowed hard attempting to stifle her tears, if only for a moment.
"Theon?" expecting no reply and getting none, she continued, "If you ever get out, don't leave me. Please."
She turned and looked at him. He was on his knees next to the basin as always, but his head was down and he wasn't moving.
"I would never." he looked up at her with his tar black eyes. Everything about this Theon was white except the eyes. They stood out among his features like a flame in a cave, “You must know, my Lady, I can not help you,” his features grew dark, “but if one day I am granted freedom, I will not leave you with…him.”
His features dropped back into the terrified features of the broken Theon Greyjoy. But she’d seen them light up. If only for a moment, she saw the old Theon.
And Jeyne thought she heard him mutter “You should know as much.”
Even a broken man is still a man.
Jeyne took one more look at the sea, and turned around.
Theon V: 303 AC
"No, it's not the brace, it's your grip," Theon did his best not to sound impatient but his composure was waning. "It should be loose, loose like...like you're holding a baby bird."
The little nobleman pouted, puffing his cheeks and turning round to his father, as if the fat banker could do something about his arrow’s increasing inclination to gravitate left.
Theon sighed and knelt down beside the little eight year old "Ran, do you remember what we learned earlier this week?"
The swart young nobleman nodded his head.
"And what was it we learned?"
Oranos Coso lolled his head lugubriously to the side, staring at all the quivers broken on the cyclopian walls of the servant’s quarters.
Theon hated those walls. Hated looking at them. He closed his eyes hard, smothering the latent memories that threatened to rear their horned heads.
Theon smiled as warmly as he could without revealing the fragmented remains of teeth he had left.
He had done that once. Smiled big when the boy had clapped and hooted when he shot five tomatoes the boy'd thrown into the air, the arrows lodging themselves into the trunk of the single tree on the Coso’s land. He had been begging Theon to teach him, asking who had taught him, telling him how talented he was. And he'd smiled. And the boy's servile smile faded into a look of odious repulsion.
He didn't like to think about it.
Theon nodded "What about it?"
"'Tight grip won't hit.’”
Theon smirked, "That's right. 'The bow will twist, and you will miss'"
Ran pursed his lips, making a 'mmmmm' sound. Ran was tenacious, inpatient and most of all outré. He did strange things time to time, reciting the same repertoires every time Theon came to tutor him; stomping in place before picking up a bow, humming all the time, doing everything in threes. He'd grown quite fond of the little boy.
Theon stood up, placed his hands on either side of the boy's shoulders and nodded. He watched as Ran picked up an arrow, notching it with ease. He heard the wood hum and creek, and the string draw, heard the boy take a deep breath.
The arrow grazed the edge hay wheel, struck the cyclopian wall, and snapped in two. Theon inhaled sharply and the boy huffed and curled his lips in around his teeth.
Suddenly, breaking his hour of placid silence, Vicel Coso heaved his rotund purple clad figure out of the groaning chair and languidly stood, rolling from the ball of his foot to its heel, groaning louder than the chair.
"Well done Oranos, well done. Improving by the day it seems. You'll be an excellent archer one day. Well done."
He nodded at Theon, who inclined his head in turn.
All this for ten coppers and a silver.
Not that he didn't enjoy it. He simply resented the fact that if his true name and identity were known, he'd of earned ten times the amount.
Or be killed on sight. One or the other.
He pursed his lips and frowned slightly. He hated this part, after the lesson. Cleanup. All of Ran's misses, misfires and marks unmet were by the wall.
Something touched his foot.
"Theon..." his head lolled from one side to the other as fingertips brushed against the rotting fabric of his boot. His shoulders were on fire and his back was rubbed raw. Cool air stung as he opened his eyes and gazed down, meeting large brown ones.
Jeyne. Her name is Jeyne. It rhymes with wane.
A guard stood next to the girl, glowering at him, torch in hand.
"Lady Arya," Jeyne gave him a small forlorn smile, placing her other hand lightly on his ankle. His feet were two yards from the ground and was surprised she could even reach his foot.
"Theon. I must leave soon. For my half brother. Lord Snow."
The swart Liddle took half a step back and the flame of his torch now backlit Jeyne's figure, throwing every stray strand of hair into high contrast, every minute detail became illuminated against the dancing yellow flame.
"I...wish you safe passage, my Lady. I am sure you will be met with great...hospitality,"
When he sees you, he will know you. He will have no forewarning of who your truly are. What we've done is treason. You must go east. East with that banker. To Braavos.
Theon thought back to all the times he'd spent with Jon and Robb. How Robb always sided with Jon, and how Theon, who was older than both, was stung by it. He hid it behind sardonic smiles and derisive comments. All at Jon's expense. He regretted it. But he regretted many things of late.
The implication went unnoticed by the guard, but was heard, he was sure, by the girl who had been Jeyne Poole. She turned to her escort, "Leave us, please. Let me bid my last farewell in peace."
The burly man eyed Theon once more, decided he posed no threat, handed the torch to the girl, and turned round. She waited for the oaken door to shut behind him before she said anything.
"I owe you my life."
"You owe me nothing."
Tears were falling down her cheeks silently when she spoke staggeringly, "They'll kill you,"
He didn't care. Death would be a boon at this point. There was no hope for him now, and wished only for it to end soon. Death was not the worst thing that could happen to men. He had learned as much by personal experience.
She reached up, stretching her body as long as she could and brushed her fingers just above his ankle. She was small.
"You saved me," it came out as a sob "...I want to save you."
He wanted to tell her that it was alright, that he didn't want to be saved, that surely, death was far more appealing than living life how he looked and felt. Even if he was free. He was half dead already.
Theon shook his head. "I'm not worth saving." He grimaced, the cyclopean walls cutting deep into his back
"My presence will put any man who harbors or helps me in danger."
He launched into a fit of coughs.
More than half dead.
"You must be Arya Stark, and you must flee east. You must convince them you will be safer in Essos. Run. Run as far away from this place as you can. If you're not Arya, you're as good as a whore. Run."
He hoped the harsh words would hurt her into leaving. Hurt her enough to knock some sense into her.
Jeyne, Jeyne it rhymes with inane.
Theon could not remember what had happened in between Jeyne visiting him and following event. He assumed he had passed out from the pain or the cold or the exhaustion or all three. It didn't matter at all, really.
A gloved hand clasped over his mouth and nose, reflexively, he made to pry it from his face, only to be restrained by the chains from which he hung.
He couldn't see anything in the dark, but the voice was hard and commanding.
And muffled. Making both its age and sex indeterminate. Theon nodded his head vigorously and the hand pulled away.
Theon gasped loudly, initiating one of his increasingly common coughing fits. bile and blood pooled at the back of his throat as his whole body convulsed with each muscle spasm.
"I am going to release you, you are going to fall and you will not make a noise."
Before he had time to even nod or even recover, his left restraint was released, causing him to swing right wildly, hitting his head on every stone outcrop and putting all his weight on his right wrist. Theon bit his lip as tears began to swell in his sunken eyes. Without warning, the right restraint was released, and the pain in his shoulders spread down to his spine as he hit the floor. He gasped, tears obscured his vision of the pitch dark room as his savior stepped down off a wooden block, stood in front of him, and looked down. This close, Theon could see a slender built man in Liddle garb, wearing a whole helm with light armor.
"Can you stand?"
He kicked him, "Don't speak."
The tears began to pour over against his will. He gave a curt nod.
"Get up and put these on."
The svelte man threw Liddle garb down at him. Momentarily, Theon looked up, gaping in awe.
Why? Why the Liddles? Had he done something to gain their favor? His instincts told him otherwise.
Legs weak from both torture and disuse, he tentatively stood and began stripping out of his rags.
"Quickly,” the voice hissed.
Leaning against the wall, Theon shoved rank feet through wool breeches and into leather boots as simultaneously the Liddle shoved his head and arms through first the tunic then the leather jerkin. He tugged the cloak over his shoulders as the man removed his own helm and placed in on Theon's head. The tears obscured the little vision the helm offered.
Why am I still crying?
He felt the Liddle take him by his elbow and was led him outside.
Blinking rapidly in the glare of the dusk light reflecting off the snow, he thought he could make out the rudimentary hybrid tent/cabins of Stannis' eclectic army.
They will all die. Ramsy will kill all of them.
Then, without a word, his rescuer was in front of him, moving at a fast pace and making his way towards a decadent garbed man on a chestnut mare. The banker, that’s the banker.
Theon concentrated solely on walking without any hint of lameness, and ignoring the pain that shot throughout his mangled body.
The Liddle and the banker began conversing and between the pain and the helm, Theon heard only bits.
One hundred thousand, blood, dead, Iron Isles, Braavos, Seastone Chair.
"You are a wanted man in Westeros, are you not?"
It took Theon by surprise. The banker looked down at him expectantly, "Wanted...man?" he parroted stupidly.
"I will be taking you with me. You will be provided with a...humble home. No one knows or cares who you are in Braavos. We leave..." he looked up at the setting sun, "now."
Theon didn't say anything. Couldn't say anything. His breath caught in his chest, "I..."
The lithe Liddle grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around to face her. Her.
"You are of my blood. My brother. The only one I have left. I will not lose you to a false King." She turned to the Braavosi.
"I will take the Seastone Chair. I am Asha Greyjoy, the only daughter of Balon Greyjoy, and the rightful heiress to the Iron Isles. I will pay my debt to Braavos for taking my brother.”
Theon felt his chest tighten. "Come with us! They'll kill you! You must...!"
Asha smirked "If I come I cannot claim what is mine. Stannis would launch attack the ironborn as retaliation. You must go, little brother."
"Stannis will die before the battle is over, sister, you must come with me!"
Then she said so faintly that he was not entirely sure he heard it, "What is dead can never die but rises again, harder and stronger. And you are half dead already, little brother. Now rise."
Jeyne VI: 304 AC
Jeyne faced the wind, masking her tears. It blew down her hood and pulled loose the ends of the blue ribbon she wore round her neck, stealing them into a sort of dance; waving and twisting, intertwining one into another. Her chestnut hair whipped round her face, joining the ribbons in their dance.
She could bury them, dig their grave—but they would not die. They will never die, she closed her eyes tight, so long as I live. Jeyne let out a choked sob, thinking of her mother, and her talk of memories. If only it were true.
It happened every so often. Her hiding from Theon. She needed to be alone. Not only for her sake, but for his. Jeyne cared for him, cared enough that she refused cause him any more strife than was already his. Bringing her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms about them, she bowed her head.
Jeyne let out a soft, muffled noise that sounded somewhere between a moan and a gasp. Why must I be so weak? She breathed deep in an attempt to gather herself.
"Stay close to me," Theon's voice cracked into her ear "do not leave my side, bow your head and speak not a word."
Jeyne's only reply was a soft sob of understanding.
"Good." She watched as in her periphery, Theon raised his own hood.
Jeyne understood why they needn't wait until nightfall to dock. Ragman's Harbor was a place where none would bat an eye at the sight of a beaten girl clinging to the arm of a foul old man.
She felt a loud wail threaten to loose itself from her chest at the realization of what she looked like. What they looked like. A whore. A whore and her man. An ugly, beaten, whore.
"I believe we have chosen our roles quite well," Jeyne felt Theon take his other hand and place it atop the one that gripped his bony arm in an attempt to bring her comfort. She paid him no mind.
Is it worth it? Is it all truly worth it? Living out the rest of her "life" in Braavos? She wasn't Jeyne Poole. She wasn't pretty. Not a maiden. Nothing. I am nothing.
Jeyne bore her eyes into the sun, willing it to blind her. I should have filled my skirts with stones before I boarded that ship and flung myself from the railing. Let Theon's Drowned God take me. I should have done it ages ago. How long had it been since she'd been at peace? Since she'd been truly safe? How is it that I live when so many better than I have perished? How is it–
"Here." Theon had stopped abruptly looking into the darkest and dirtiest alleyway she'd ever seen in her life. She squeezed Theon's arm even tighter and watched her knuckles drain of all color as she stepped into the narrow, dank gap which seemed to her indicative of the innermost layer of hell. On her third step, she felt something soft and slick burst beneath her foot with the faintest echoing of what sounded like the snapping of thin twigs. Jeyne looked down to see her boot covered in the viscera of a dead, bloated, rat. The viscous soup of innards had covered her boot ankle deep.
"I can't. I can't I can't I can't," Jeyne felt faint, felt tears pouring down her face and tasted the salty mixture of mucus and tears on her tongue. "I can't. I can't," she launched into a fit of sobs.
"You can," Theon wouldn't let her stop. Wouldn't let her sink to her knees and never get up. "I know you can." He dragged her on, the third door on the left. Producing a key, he un-hinged the rust covered lock and pushed the dank and rotting thin wooden door inward.
Theon VI: 304 AC
"It is queer, isn't it?" Met with one of Jeyne's occasional bouts of taciturnity, he opened his mouth to elaborate, only to close it again.
But it was strange. If anyone had told him six years ago that in the not-too-distant future, he would be living with Jeyne Poole under a different identity with white hair and the face of an old man in Braavos... he didn't know what he would have said. Likely something rude.
“No, I don’t think it’s odd at all. I don't think life ever turns out as one imagines it. Not for anyone."
Theon was silent for a moment before replying, "Had you imagined...this, do you think it would have never happened?"
Theon could see her breath dissipate into the open air of Ragman's Harbor. Even with the hordes of others waiting on trade ships for food, it was still winter.
She gave him a look of puzzlement, “I don't think anyone could say, really. It just seems that no one ever ends up where they once thought they might."
The Starks. Every one of them. None would have ever thought... Theon detached his arm from hers and wrapped it around her back, drawing her in close.
She leaned into him and sighed, “I think,” she mused, half to herself and half to him, “that life is planned out for us,” she looked up to the sky, “and that it’s a river,” a serene look of acceptance and peace lay upon her face, “and that we may change the course, but it will always reach the sea.”
For a woman near eighteen, Jeyne had the perception of one of eighty. She would say things like that quite often. Initally he simply thought her a learned child, one with a love of famous prose. As it turned out, most things of beautiful eloquence she spoke of were her own words.
She turned from the sky and looked at him with far away eyes, “Though the course my change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea.”
Gods, this woman could be the Hand of the King. She is far too wise to be stuck here with me.
"What is dead can never die but rises again, harder and stronger. And you are half dead already, little brother. Now rise." The look on Asha’s face was one of both pride and heartbreak, and when she embraced him for the last time, he could feel her cold tears against his cheek. She released him, and was gone.
“No,” Theon said aloud, not realizing it, “leave me. I must stay with my Lady, I cannot, I can’t, I–“
“The Stark girl is none of your concern. She will be save with her brother, not you.”
No. No, she will be safe. Safe in Braavos, I must keep her safe. I must. But he did not know how. There was no way. Perhaps in another life, he could have saved Jeyne. But he had saved Arya, and Arya was not Jeyne.
He thought back to what he’d been made to watch her do. Thought back to when he promised her that he would never leave her with the bastard if he were ever granted freedom. I promised Jeyne freedom, not Arya.
He turned round and ran as fast as the snow and his toes would allow, the seamen calling after him. I must find her, I must bring her.
Shoving the whole helm back on, he prayed to every god there ever was to smile upon him. Just do what you once did, he told himself, you were so good at things like this, once.
Don’t save Arya. Save Jeyne.
Changing the subject, he asked "Do you know where they're coming in from? The trade ships, I mean?"
"Shouldn't it be obvious? Planky Town."
When he continued to stare at her with a look of ignorant placidity, she elaborated, “Dorne. Sugar, lemons, oranges, olives, pomegranates, wine, everything exotic. That's why so many people are here."
Dornish wine. The thought alone warmed his belly. How long had it been since he had had good wine?
The horde of fishwives, commoners and servants throbbed as the Dornish trade ship docked. He laced his fingers through hers and shouted over the din, "Go buy what we need," he placed a coin purse in her other hand "wait for me."
Without question or protest, Jeyne gave a curt nod "I will find you," she let go of his hand and let the crowd carry her to the trade ship.
He had been saving for a room in a cleaner part of the city, in a real building and not a shack. Winter had come, and their hovel did little to keep the cold at bay. He had two gold dragons and fifteen stags at home. But he'd been saving them for her return to Westeros. Theon loosed his dirk and started towards the Dornish ship.
Jeyne VII: 304 AC
"Whatever pull Westeros once had on me has withered down to utter repulsion."
The cart sped abruptly, threatening to toss her face down into the half frozen dirt road. She tightened her grip on the cart's railing and pushed herself farther back, her legs now parallel to the ground rather than swinging free with Theon's.
Jeyne watched the receding squalor of what had once been their home and added tentatively, "And I wouldn't leave without you."
She felt his eyes on her and blushed, never tearing hers from the ever shrinking slum.
She heard him sigh and watched in her periphery as he leaned back, resting on a burlap sack. She looked back at him, studying the man as he picked off a piece of rye bread and put it in his mouth, letting it soften for a while before slowly masticating it with broken teeth.
He is my home. Theon is.
"You should know as much.” Jeyne added, not sure if he heard.
Jeyne watched as the skeletal Liddle spoke heatedly with the purple-clad Braavosi. The feather of a man was pointing violently, first to her, then the ship. The banker shook his head and began ushering him to board, but the other man would not yield, and in one swift movement, the Liddle grabbed the banker’s cloak and pinned him to the nearest tree. The purple-clad banker looked as shocked as he did angry. But when the Liddle whispered something in his ear, the foreign man’s face fell. The banker gave a curt nod, and was released.
Walking over to her, he spoke with his heavy accent, “Come, my dear,” he wore a smile as false as she was, “we will take you to Braavos.” Nodding to the Liddle, “He will protect you.” He took her hand, escorting her to the ship, Liddle in tow.
Jeyne complied, holding the banker’s hand, boarding the ship. But why? Why Braavos? Why had they not taken her to The Wall?
Jeyne spun round, studying the other man, realizing she had tears running down her cheeks. When? When did I start to cry?
“Please, my Lady. Don’t cry. You will be safe here, with me. I promise.” He removed his helm, revealing a look upon his face of serene exhaustion.
Jeyne knew at once why the banker had not addressed her as “Lady.”
"You," breathless, she looked at the man clad in the green and brown colors of House Liddle, “it was you this whole time." It wasn't a question. It came out more as a half-hearted accusation.
Theon was looking at her, holding his helm with both hands at his chest, tired eyes wide as saucers. "I will never redeem myself in the eyes of the gods. For what I have done, there is no hope for absolution."
He unsheathed his short sword and lay it on the ship’s deck at her feet, kneeling before her. "But I may yet redeem myself in yours, Lady. I swear to you by the old gods and the new, by the Drowned God and R'hllor," he paused, as if reconsidering his words, "by all gods of our world, that I will never let harm befall your person, and protect you with my life. I am your man, my Lady."
She was staring at him now, leaning against the sack, and studying his breath as it floated away, disappearing into the sky.
Some might look at his past and see three different men, but for her, it was just one. Just him. Just Theon. She'd become irrevocably attached to him, and he to her, in a sort of emotional symbiosis that, if broken, promised an inexorable whirlwind of emotional repercussions.
But gods, there's much more to it than that. She bit her bottom lip, looking sidelong at the silver-white haired man. It’d lost the straw-like texture, and hung now at the bottom of his neck, never letting it quite reach his shoulders. He’d never allowed his beard to grow back in full, even in the cold, though not fully clean-shaven. He was no longer thin, but lean, and he'd built up muscle tone by walking everywhere and teaching that banker's boy archery. His face aged him, but no more than seven years, and his eyes still looked young. And most notably, the olive tint had begun to return to his skin. You are so much more than you seem, brave kraken. You always have been.
"Is it one of those?" They had piled the few possessions they had onto a back of a mule cart that belonged to Theon's employer. The servant who drove it spoke not a lick of Westerossi and had thus far remained silent their entire move.
Theon didn't speak, but simply nodded. She continued to scrutinize the compartmentalized buildings as she felt eyes on her. She turned, looking at him. "What?"
“Nothing,” he replied, a thin smile playing on his closed lips. “Nothing at all, sweet Lady Jeyne.”
Theon VII: 305 AC
“What gods do you place your faith in?”
He tore his eyes from the setting sun, turning to her “Why?”
“When last I prayed a true prayer, it was not to any one god.” It had been to all of them.
“What did you pray for?”
Don’t ask me that, he thought, do not start down this path, Jeyne. “I…” he closed his eyes, unable to meet hers. “When I was granted passage to Braavos,” Jeyne took his hand, lacing her fingers between those he had left, and he felt the stumps tingle.
“Jeyne, don’t ask this of me. Please.” He opened his eyes, though could not bring himself to meet hers. She does not need to know what I did that night. She must never know those sins. Though he did not regret what he had done, nor would he ever.
Jeyne turned her gaze out to sea, no longer pursuing the particular line of questioning, though not abandoning it in full. “What about before? Before everything? Seven years ago, before…” she trailed off. “You are ironborn. But you grew up in the greenlands,” she turned back to him, “which gods were yours?” When he did not answer straight away, she said “I read something, once. About ironmen. It reminds me of you, save the very last part.”
You may dress an ironman in silks and velvets, teach him to read and write and give him books, instruct him in chivalry and courtesy and the mysteries of the Faith, but when you look into his eyes, the sea will still be there,
“‘Cold and grey and cruel.’” He finished for her. “Have I still the sea in my eyes, then?” He smiled at her for half a second, though not with his teeth. Never with his teeth, not anymore, never again.
“Yes,” she replied, “a sea of…” she seemed to be searching for the correct words, or debating on saying them. Her hair was pulled from her face into a low plait. She’d taken to either wearing it as such, or simply letting it remain loose and free. She was beautiful either way, though he rather enjoyed it plaited, if only to see the entirety of her face.
“What…” she started, blushing “What are you smiling about, kraken?”
You. Avoiding the question, he replied “What are my eyes like? You said they’re a sea. What are they a sea of?”
“Tar. A sea of tar. They trap you, hold you there, so that you can’t look away,” her voice was fragile and distant, though her eyes bore into his. “And you realize… you don’t want to.”
Not entirely sure if there was some latent message in her words, “‘A sea of tar.’” He repeated, “I like that.”
Jeyne tilted her head, resting it on his shoulder. “Good. I thought you might not. Tar is not cold or grey. And you are not cruel.”
Theon wanted to laugh at that. And you are not cruel. But he could not. He wanted to cry. He was cruel. He’d killed children. How many lives had ended simply at his word? How many had ended at his hand, at his bow? Children, I murdered two of them. Both innocent. He’d lost toes, fingers, teeth. He’d gone half mad in a dungeon and eaten live rats. He’d been made to roll in his own shite. Was only half a man.
And in the godswood, I did not pray for Jeyne. I prayed for myself.
I deserve what’s happened to me, I deserve all of it.
And the three men he’d killed that night. They had done nothing wrong. He’d waited for one of her escorts to make water and killed him. The next came to check on him, and Theon had killed him too, and the third. Then he’d lied to her. Told her Stannis thought she’d be safer in Braavos. And she’d believed him.
Theon closed his eyes and felt tears roll down his cheeks. Salt water, he thought, true ironborn have salt water in their veins. He let out a noise somewhere between a scoff and a sob. How is it that the gods have let me live?
He opened his eyes when he felt warm lips on his cheek. He turned to her; he’d never hidden his tears from her, nor she from him. She placed her free hand on his cheek, “It is the future that matters, brave kraken, not the past.” Her eyes dug into his as she spoke the next words in earnest “And few men would kill to save a low born daughter of a steward.”
She kissed his forehead. “You are Theon Greyjoy of Braavos, and for the past four years, you have been the kindest, bravest and most loyal man I’ve ever known.”
He wanted to kiss her. To kiss her and tell her that he was in love with her and tell her that he finally understood singers when they sang of love. To tell her that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. To tell her that when he was with her, it wasn’t as bad. And that he could almost forget who he was, and feel like someone else, someone good.
But he didn’t.
Jeyne VIII: 305 AC
He had been inconsolable for nearly a fortnight, nothing Jeyne said or did could lessen his self loathing. It had been her doing. She’d brought up the topic. Asked him the questions that had caused him to weep.
I did this to him. She placed her work down and turned her head to the window with the bronze tracery. What have I done?
She looked down in her lap at the embroidery, a white filigreed dove with fine silver thread accenting the wings. It was quite pretty. Not beautiful, but pretty.
Seven stinking hells. She stood, placing her work on the obsidian table, “I am departing early today,” she said looking at the old woman she sat beside. “If I am not given coin for my half-days work, so be it.” Jeyne fastened her cloak, pulling up the hood and leaving before the woman could respond.
The air was not so frigid as it had been upon her leaving their home, though it still stung. And the tip of her nose would always be sensitive to the cold. I was pretty, once. But that was years ago, in another land, and another life. Theon was handsome, not her.
Lost in her thoughts, Jeyne did not realize she’d reached their home until her hand touched the handle. Opening it, she called out “Theon?”
He’d closed the shuttered on both windows, three candles lit the small room.
“Theon?” Where has he gone? Has he picked up a day with that Banker’s boy?
Then she saw him. Twelve abandoned wooden arrow shafts lay on his crafting bench, an empty cup of wine next to them. He lay hunched over, arms crossed and asleep on a book.
I am putting an end to this.
“Theon.” She slid beside him on the bench and patted his cheek. He snorted, jumping a bit. “Jeyne?” he looked at her, bemusement thick on his features, “What hour is it? How long have–“
She brushed the question away “I left before the day was done.” She took his hand, lacing their fingers.
“Brave kraken, I cannot do this without you,” she started, “I need you, Theon.” She kissed his cheek. “Endure, you’ve endured a worse thing even than this.”
She reached a hand to his stubbly cheek, “You’re my man, remember? You’re my brave kraken. And what’s sweet Jeyne without her brave kraken?”
“I– Jeyne. Let me tell you. Please, just listen, don’t say anything, not until the end. I want you to know why. I need you to know.”
“Naturally,” she gave him a small grin and a reassuring squeeze to his hand. “Of course I’ll listen.”
Theon took a deep breath, eyes already beginning to tear over. “I grew up in Winterfell. I was nine when I came. I– you don’t need to know this, but I want you to know anyway– my grandfather, he supported King Robert, in the rebellion, I mean. I don’t remember him. I’d only seen three name-days when he died. And-and when my father was Lord after him,” Theon jerked his head up taking her by surprise, “He hated Robert. He thought him a usurper, and” he scoffed, “and he thought he could defeat him by sea,” he smiled bitterly, exposing broken teeth. “He failed. Miserably. My two brothers died. You know of my sister,” he let go of one of her hands and wiped a tear away, “what she did. I can never thank her.” He sniffed, “I know mine own blood less than I do you, sweet Jeyne.”
Guilt shot through her heart at that.
“And…I don’t mind it. As…as awful as it is.” His eyes looked more like fire than tar, as he kept on, “I know they didn’t love me. I knew Robb to be my closest friend, and I knew Lord Eddard was fond of me, and I was awful to Jon, and I hated that Robb always sided with him. And to Arya as well, if only because of Jon’s fondness of her.” He closed his eyes, his voice cracking, “And Sansa…I dreamed one day Ned would wed me to her.”
Jeyne’s heart sank.
“Not because of her. Because of them. I wanted…I wanted to be part of their family. I wanted to finally be… be a Stark, partly.” Jeyne reached up and caressed his cheek. “I was told, when I told others I was a ward, I was mocked. Told I was a captive. But I was happy, I’d get angry when I was mocked, yes, but I was loyal to them. I was, I swear I was, once.
“And when I went back– back ho-“ he cut himself off, “back to Pyke, I was a jape. I was ridiculed, and mocked and I was treated like dirt, I did not belong there. And I told my…father about Robb, about the ships…I– I had to choose, Jeyne, I had to choose, my blood or my…” Theon was sobbing now, “and I… and I murdered those boys. I would have never killed Bran and Rickon. I would have kept them as hostages, had they not run. I’ve killed so many Jeyne, so many that I can’t even count anymore. There must be hundreds that have died at my word alone. And I killed children, Jeyne, innocent children. Just…just to, I wanted their approval so much, and their respect, they’d have laughed at me. I killed children so that I wouldn’t be mocked. That is all. The only reason. And I was so alone in Winterfell, so alone. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I hid it with cruelty and that stupid smile, and fucking every woman I met.” Jeyne blushed.
“I deserved it Jeyne. I deserve everything that happened. I deserved to go mad and eat live rats in the dungeon. I deserved to lose my fingers, my toes, my skin… half my cock, and-and and my teeth and to look like the vile creature I am, and– the evil,”
Jeyne broke her word and leaned in, kissing his cheek and letting her lips linger there longer than they should have. “It is only a fool who trips on what is behind him.” She pushed his hair back, “And you know I would never be so fond as I am of you if you were evil.” She grinned at him, “Nor are you a fool, brave kraken.” Jeyne scoffed, “I could not live with a fool.”
“Why are you so kind?”
“How can you…be the way you are?”
Jeyne looked at him, not quite comprehending what he meant. “It’s not kindness, Theon. It’s insight.” She furrowed her brow, “When I look at you, I see the youngest son that was raised in the greenland as a hostage. An older sister, groomed to claim his birth right. A son's attempt to prove his loyalty and ability to his father. A desperate attempt to make good on a threat, a desperate man. I see a man who was broken, beaten, tortured and starved. A man who someone tried to drive mad.” Her other hand rose to his jaw, “ But failed. A man who kept his wits. And I see a man who rose from the ashes like a Phoenix. A man who saved me with a lie. A man who risked everything to save me. Twice over.” She gave him a lopsided grin, “That is not kindness, Theon. That is logic.”
“You truly think like that? Like a scholar?” He looked at her, skepticism rich in his face, “You think that of me?”
Jeyne nodded. His face was doubtful, and she continued, “Have I ever lied to you? Ever?”
Theon's features softened into gratification. “Thank you, sweet Jeyne.”
“You are most welcome,” she kissed his cheek once more, lips just brushing the side of his mouth for half a second, “brave kraken.”
And Jeyne, looking into Theon's eyes of tar, realized she was in love with him.
She loved the way he spoke. The way he fought. The grin that played on his lips so often now. Simply being with him.
Life is not a song, she reminded herself, a beautiful Lady is not rescued by a handsome knight, Jeyne closed her eyes, ignoring the world around her. And they do not fall in love or marry. There is no beauty to our song. And it is one that best remain unsung.
She lay awake all that night, Theon consuming her mind. She bit the inside of her cheek. When had it started? I did not love him before Braavos. She’d cared for him, yes, but she hadn’t loved him. She thought of the ship. Remembered how thoughts alone of what the bastard had done to her –not Theon– had made her sob.
It was not about Theon, then. But Theon had not let her suffer alone. Theon was not weak, Theon was not like her. I was five-and-ten, she reminded herself, five-and-ten. He is six years my senior.
She paused in her thoughts; but that’s not all true, not really. She had been there, had been there for him and held him, she had been strong for him. The day they'd arrived. The day she'd stepped in the rat. The day he'd held her so tight and hadn't let go.
He was so proud, once.
Jeyne turned her back to him– be it out of respect or pity, she did not know. She had seen him nude before, though not by choice– never by choice, and if she could grant him what little privacy she could, she would. He was bathing. For the first time since she’d met him again, Theon was bathing. The water was hot enough to fill the small hovel with not warmth, but heat, enough of it to make her sweat.
It could not have been over a minute before Jeyne heard him begin to cry. Tentatively, she turned round, attempting to hide any hint of consternation on her face that was sure to be there. He sat in the small basin, knees pulled to his chest, head down, with long white hair obscuring his face, the very tips dipped in the hot water.
He had been so proud.
"Theon…” Jeyne hadn’t realized that she was kneeling next to the basin until he spoke.
“What’s my name? Tell me my name. Tell me, tell me, please,”
Jeyne felt as though someone had stolen her breath and slapped her cross the face with it. He was shivering violently, “Theon,” she managed, “your name is Theon. Theon of House Greyjoy. You are ironborn, a son of Pyke.” Her voice broke, and she felt her chest begin to fill with what felt like lead. “Theon. Theon, look at me, please.” His head shifted a fraction of an inch, and she saw black eyes study her from behind the straw-like white hair. “You have never been anyone else.”
He reared his head, studying her with the full intensity of those eyes, though remained silent. She took a deep breath, exhaling as she wiped the wetness from his eyes. His eyes are like tar, she thought, black pits from which one cannot escape. And she found herself, strangely enough, not wanting to.
"Your name is Theon.”
“Theon,” he parroted, “son of Pyke. Ironborn.” He was looking at her, though his eyes were unfocused, and he was away in his own mind, somewhere else.
"That’s right. You’re a kraken, you remember? A golden kraken. Strong and relentless. Just like you.”
His eyes snapped into focus and he gazed at her with not a look of relief, but one of wary suspicion. “Am I dead?”
Jeyne was taken aback at that “No,” she said, “no, Theon, you are not dead.” She smiled as best she could. His eyes became unfocused once more “‘What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger,’” he muttered “I am half dead already.”
She hadn’t the slightest notion of how to respond to that. Of the seven ruling Houses, the kingdom’s rule over the Greyjoys had always been a turbulent one at best. Disobedient, bellicose and imps of the perverse were the Greyjoys. In another life, she’d of laughed at that. But Beth, the brothel whore of White Harbor, could not so much as even grin.
"Then rise, Theon,” His eyes snapped once more into focus, his entire face the embodiment of shock. “Be harder,” emboldened by his expression, she reached out and tucked a lock of hair behind the ear with the missing lobe, “and be stronger.”
Jeyne did not withdraw her hand, shifting it instead to his cheek, she held it there. She watched as the look of shock melted into one of forlorn gratitude. He placed a wet, soapy hand atop hers, closing his eyes and leaning into it.
"I am glad that you are here with me, sweet Jeyne.”
That had been the first time he’d called her that. Called her sweet Jeyne. She had not been called that in ten years until he'd done as much. There was no conceivable way that he could know what that name meant to her, no way that he could have known who had first called her that. Who had been the only one to ever call her that. Theon said he'd heard a song about a beautiful Lady named Jeyne. He'd sang it, once. Though she could not recall so much as the tune.
AN: Theon never goes mad. He got pretty jacked up, but never mad. And that is, I think, one of the reasons I am so fond of his character.
"I must not let him drive me mad. He can take my fingers and my toes, he can put out my eyes and slice my ears off, but he cannot take my wits unless I let him."
Theon VIII: 306 AC
“Why do you call me that?”
“Call you what?”
“‘Brave kraken,’” He looked at her sidelong, “Why?”
Taken aback, looking almost offended, Jeyne replied “Because that’s what you are. You’re a kraken. And you’re brave,” she shrugged, “it makes sense, Theon.” She paused for half a beat, “If you don’t want me to, I won’t. I don’t mean to insult you at all or,” she trailed off.
“Oh, no, it’s not insulting, not an insult of any sort. I was just curious, that’s all.” When had she started calling him that? My name-day. The first I had here, my twenty-second name-day.
“Yes, but why that? Why not… something else?”
“If you’d prefer I call you by another name of endearment, brave kraken, I will.” She grinned at him, looking slightly amused by his somewhat uncomfortable position.
He reddened, “No, I was just asking why.”
“Because you’re the bravest man I’ve ever known. And you’re strong and powerful. And, had I never seen you as you are with my own eyes, I’d think you a myth. I wouldn’t think someone like you could ever exist.” She blushed minutely and looked away so that he could not read her face.
“You say you think with logic, sweet Jeyne, but you do not give yourself enough credit for your kindness.” He watched the side of her face go from pink to red and smiled.
“Go teach that little boy archery, Theon.”
“What’s her name? The woman who watches us sometimes? Is she your wife?” Ran asked, ignoring Theon’s directions to nock the arrow.
“Her name is Beth,” he replied, “and she is not my wife.”
“Is she your intended?” The boy continued, still refusing to nock.
“No, Ran,” he sighed, “now nock the arrow, little Lord.” Theon gave a closed-lipped grin. Though the boy had yet to fully master the long distance stationary target, he demanded lessons in shooting moving targets from the air, just as Theon had demonstrated once. To his utter shock, Ran had proven more talented in it than he was with stationary targets.
Continuing to ignore his direction, the eleven year old tilted his head, “She would be pretty if not that scar on her nose.”
“She is beautiful.” Theon corrected, his voice inadvertently harbored a slight tone of indignation.
“How many name-days has she seen?”
“She will be twenty this year.” Theon was becoming irritated, and he heard it in his voice.
“Do you love her?”
Theon was taken off guard by that, and looked at the boy with slight incredulity. Very much. And for a quite some time.
I love her, aye, but little good that does. He had nothing to give her. Could not truly keep her safe. Could not give her a castle. Could not make love to her or give her what she deserved. He could have, once. He could have given her all those things and more. But he'd been a different person then. And he'd had no interest in marrying a steward's daughter.
"Nock the arrow, please.”
The boy obliged, though did not drop the subject. “Are you friends, then?”
Theon tossed the rotten worm filled apple into the air, watching Ran’s arrow graze the its bottom. “Better. You have been practicing."
The boy nodded, though it seemed he’d become taken with making Theon uncomfortable, thus he continued to pester him with questions about Jeyne.
Theon began to walk towards the spot of ground where the target had landed in a vain attempt to avoid further questions on the subject, though he knew there were more to come.
“Is she your woman, your whore?”
Theon stopped dead in his tracks.
If we ran away, I could be your wife, or your…your whore…whatever you wanted. You could be my man.
Turning round slowly, attempting to conceal the full-blown fury he knew was sure to have manifested upon his features, he spoke “No.” He must have done a poor job of masking his anger, for the boy’s face was the embodiment of fear. “She is not a whore. And she belongs to no one.”
By all gods of our world, I swear to never let harm befall your person, and protect you with my life. I am your man, my Lady.
“I am her man.”
Oranos remained silent the remainder of his lesson. Good, Theon thought, I might have smacked him had he spoken another word of her.
Collecting his pay, he turned to leave, but was stopped by the swart young nobleman. “I apologize, William,” it was the first time Theon had ever heard him speak Westerosi and was taken aback by both the tongue and his words. “When next she comes to watch you,” Ran looked at him earnestly “I promise not to tell her you are in love with her.”
Walking home, Theon thought harder than he'd ever thought in his entire twenty-six years of life.
He wondered if she already knew. If a child had surmised as much after a five minute interrogation, it would be foolish to think that Jeyne would be so blind to it, although his heart told him otherwise. No, he mused, she knows nothing of it.
Theon slowed his pace, catching his breath. I should tell her, tell her everything, he thought. Tell her before it’s too late, before she falls for another. The thought cut deep.
A distant memory came to mind, one of the first times he’d ever comforted her.
Theon woke to the quotidian sound of sobs. He looked at his hands, the hands of an old man. It is a terrible feeling, he thought, to wake up one day and realize you've become old after being young your entire life.
He looked up through the porthole, a starless night and gibbous moon shone a dull light through the clouds. Foreboding, he thought, and it is well past the hour of the wolf. There will be no chance of sleep now. He looked over at Jeyne. She had migrated from his side to a corner and had covered herself in blankets. Not unlike how we found her. He wanted to tell her to stop thinking about it. To do something else, to think something else and that no amount of tears can change the past, nor could they help her now.
Instead, he left the comfort (little that it was) of his bedroll and made his way over to the poor girl. He sat beside her, touching her knee. Her head jerked up, looking first at him, then the door, then back at him.
"Theon?” He watched as her face fell, and dissolved once more into tears. Theon repositioned himself in front of Jeyne, wrapping his arms around her, muffling her loud laments into his chest. He thought of how great her pains must be, to cling to an old man that stank of shit in hopes of finding comfort…
Don't think about it, girl. Think of something else. Anything else.
"Jeyne. Do you remember the swings in the Wolfswood? There were two, remember? Did you like the one that you sat in, or the one you stood on?”
Jeyne was quiet; listening to him, not sobbing. "...The standing one."
Theon actually smirked, and he heard it in his voice. "Spoken like a true Lady." He put his cheek against the top of her head and closed his eyes. "Did you know Robb and I played on those swings when we were little? But I was older than him, and so when it wasn't my turn on the sit-down swing, I'd push him so high that I could have sworn he went all the way round the branch at least once." Jeyne made a noise that sounded somewhere between a laugh and cry.
"I remember, he had to be no older than seven, I told him that, when he was at the highest that the swing could go, its apex," Theon snorted at the memory, "I told him to jump off." He could feel Jeyne too chortle into his chest.
"And he did it. I remember thinking time had slowed as I watched it happen, this seven year old just soaring through the air, beautifully–gracefully even, then," Theon clapped his hands together, "Right into a tree," he smiled at the memory of his ten year old self, "He got a bloody nose, lost a tooth and was covered in bruises. We were told off by Lady Catelyn, but I remember Ned grinning beside her." He paused, "And then, we did it another four or five times. Never with me, though. I always convinced him that he was lighter and would fly farther."
Theon knew she was at least grinning, despite not being able to see her face. She looked up at him with red eyes, and Theon could not help but think of a rabbit's eyes. But there was anguish in hers.
"Jeyne. Look at where you are." He gestured around them, "Look at who you're with." He gave a broken, grotesque smile. "You've seen worse. And I know you've been through worse." He put on the most lighthearted tone he'd used in years, "And if you can get through that– and you have –and continue living, put all that shit behind you...there is no singer that, if your story was told to him, would not sing of you, Jeyne.”
Theon was being perfectly honest. A song of a false Lady, tortured. Rescued by Wildlings and a Turncloak in the dead of winter, running off to Essos with the rightful Lord of the Iron Isles. It would be a good song, I imagine. A sorrowful song.
Suddenly, he thought of a different song. A song about a different Lady Jeyne.
Jeyne closed her eyes and leaned against him, and Theon, throwing all inhibitions to the wind, sang to her.
My sweet Lady Jeyne, when I see you again, your servant am I, and will humbly remain. Just heed this plea my love, on bended knees my love, I pledge myself to Lady Jeyne.
Theon stifled a cry and took a sharp inhale as a phantom pain shot through the stump that had once been his little finger. He clenched his fist, bringing it to his chest and slowing his pace to a hobble as his missing toes began to burn in turn. He made his way to the side of the street and leaned against a stone wall.
Theon squeezed his eyes shut tight, fighting back tears and hissing in air with every breath. The colder it became, the more they pained him. His fingers stung, but his toes burned. The wind blew a frigid gust through his silver hair as it pushed down his hood, his tears, too, yielded to the force of nature and spilled down his cheeks.
He rubbed his damp cheeks with a gloved palm and pulled his hood up once more as he concentrated on his breathing, a somewhat half-hearted attempt to ignore the phantom pains.
What, if anything, could he offer her but for a life of hiding, lying and fear? He'd already given her that. It is my fault she is here, Theon reminded himself. It had been unintentional, though it had been his actions that facilitated the atrocities she'd been made to endure.
What could he give her? I could hold her, Theon stepped away from the wall and began to make his way back into the throng on the street. Tell her I love her every night and every morn, he thought, let her know how beautiful she is. Or… Theon ran his tongue over the remnants of his teeth and hesitated in his own thoughts, or kiss her.
He thought of kissing her and feeling her smile against his mouth. Theon felt a small grin tug at the corners of his lips.
He'd once thought she was about to kiss him. Last year, the day I told her all that I've done.
Jeyne had kissed the corner of his mouth, called him a brave kraken, and stared at him. Her cheeks turned pink as her thin lips parted. Her eyes were large as he'd ever seen them and full of longing. Theon remembered hearing his heart beating in his ears loud as war drums as he met her gaze. Then he'd blinked, and when he opened his eyes once more, what he thought was longing had melted into pain and sadness.
Perhaps it was never there. Jeyne had said to him once before that people see things that they want to see, regardless of whether or not it's actually there.
Theon stood in the threshold of their home, staring at Jeyne, her back to him.
"I love you,"
Jeyne turned round and stared at him.
"I love you," he repeated unapologetically "I have for years," Theon took a step toward her, "whenever we're apart I count the hours to when I'll see you again," he could see a smile begin to manifest across her lips, "and every time I look at you I never want to look away."
He swallowed the pain that wracked his body as he forced himself to walk as he once had, when he'd had all ten toes.
Theon watched as Jeyne absently ran her fingers across the blue silken ribbon at her neck. He remembered buying it, remembered why he'd bought it.
He stood not six inches from her before he realized her eyes had begun to water, though the smile she wore could've been seen for leagues. He cupped her cheek and smiled back, broken teeth and all.
"You're so beautiful," it was hardly a whisper, but he knew she'd heard him. He watched her tears spill over and felt their wetness on his hand. It was only when he tasted salt that he realized he'd done the same thing.
He let out a raspy chortle, "I'm…" he laughed again, unable to articulate his feelings into words, "you saved me," he croaked out.
Jeyne, never breaking eye contact, gingerly took his free hand in hers, pulling it to her lips as she began to laugh through tears.
Theon let out a ragged laugh in turn, "May I kiss you?"
Jeyne nodded emphatically. He wasted no time and kissed her full on the lips. He watched her through his lashes, watched her close her eyes and felt her snake a hand round the back of his neck and deepen their kiss. He tasted salt and honey as he closed his eyes and burned the moment into his memory.
Theon felt her smile into their kiss as he looped his arm around the small of her back, drawing her flush with his body.
"I love you," she whispered against his lips before pulling away. Taking his face in her hands and staring into his eyes, Jeyne repeated herself: "I love you Theon Greyjoy," she kissed him kindly and he watched as her eyes began to water anew as she started to laugh. Jeyne wiped the tears away and kissed him once more, a gentle airy kiss before pulling him into a warm embrace.
He slid one hand around her back as he ran his fingers through her hair with the other. He smiled, closing his eyes as he rested a cheek atop her head.
Jeyne loved him. Jeyne loved him and nothing else in the world mattered, because Jeyne Poole loved him for everything he was and everything he wasn't. She knew his every wretched sin, every treacherous act– and loved him nonetheless.
Theon felt the ribbon as he continued to comb his remaining fingers through her hair. He wondered what she'd say if he were to ask for her hand and smiled.
Theon IX: 306 AC
Theon lay on his side grinning at the woman who lay beside him.
They’d been in Bravos for five full years now. I think I loved her the whole time.
“What?” She asked, tugging the blankets tighter ‘round her chest, “What are you smiling about, Greyjoy?”
“Nothing.” He squeezed her hand, reaching over with his other and pulling her close, “Simply admiring your beauty.”
Jeyne scoffed, dismissing his comment.
She unlaced her fingers from his and cupped his cheek. Their noses nearly touching, and he could feel her hot breath on his face. “You are a beautiful work of art, Theon Greyjoy.”
He cackled at that, “That statement has to be as far from true as…” he paused for a moment, in search of the best simile, “as the Iron Isles are from Qarth.”
She furrowed her brow, thought for a moment, then sat up and straddled his waist, looking down at him with a slight frown. “You’re wrong. All art has meaning.” Cautiously lifting up his tunic, slow enough that he could stop her, she slid a finger across one of many scars that littered his chest and midriff. She stroked her finger back and forth, like an artist priming a canvas.
“This one. This one proves you’re resilient.” She moved her finger to another, once more wielding her finger like a brush. “This one proves you’re bold.” And another, “This one proves you’re brave.” She lifted his tunic further, revealing a missing nipple. She dragged her thumb across the raised pink skin, a forlorn look on her face.
“And what’s that one say, then?” It came out as a breathy, hoarse whisper.
“This one proves you have a good heart,” she met his eyes for only a moment before looking back at his chest, “but not everyone sees it.”
Theon gave a small, sad laugh. “Maybe now, but never before, Jeyne. You know that.”
In a split second, her face was three inches from his. “Theon Greyjoy, everything you have done in the past five years has been selfless.” She took his head in her hands so that he could not look away, “I told you, didn’t I? I told you why you’re a brave kraken, my brave kraken,” she placed a light kiss on his forehead, “if I had never seen you with mine own eyes, known you for who you truly are,” she smiled down at him with warmth, “I’d think you a myth.”
“Lions, wolves, stags, fish, birds, dragons– those are all real, Theon. But you…” she kissed him, “you are a thing of legend.”
Amused, he switched their positions, gently moving her onto her back, straddling her. She hid a grin as he smiled down at her, the way he smiled now: the way Theon of Braavos smiled. He kissed her mouth, and he could feel dexterous fingers slip beneath his tunic and trace invisible lines and patterns all over his back and chest. His hands slid beneath her own tunic, and he felt the smooth curves and valleys of torso and chest.
She almost instantaneously removed her hands from beneath his tunic and pushed him off. Theon thought he’d done something wrong, that he’d overstepped. But before he could apologize, she pulled the oversized tunic she wore as a nightgown over her head and threw it off.
He’d seen her nude before, but not by choice. This was for him. She wanted him to see her.
Jeyne pulled him abruptly back on top of her. He kissed her collar-bone, working up to her jaw and mouth as cold fingers danced down his chest, finally stopping at his britches. When he felt them begin to unlace, he stopped her.
“I don’t care. I don’t care what it looks like, Theon. It’s part of you. And I love you,” she reached up and tucked a piece of hair behind an ear, “all of you.”
“It’s not just that,” he could not meet her eyes, “I…I don’t know if I even can…” he trailed off.
Jeyne quickly removed her hands from Theon’s britches, crossing her arms over her breasts as she turned away. “I apologize. I should have never assumed you’d– we don’t have to– not ever. Never. I didn’t mean,” she rolled to her side, out from beneath him, still looking away.
“Jeyne, no. It’s not that I don’t want to– of course I do,” I have for a very long time, “I would, I truly would.”
Jeyne rolled back over to face him, still embarrassed. Theon scoffed and gestured towards the bulge in his britches, “I just…don’t know if it would work,” the last part came out as one word, “and…in all earnestness, it shames me.” He looked away from her, “as…” as a man.
Comprehension donned on Jeyne’s face as she placed a finger to his lips, “I understand, Theon. You don’t have to say any more.”
Those words and the serene look of understanding on the woman’s face gave him a change of heart. He closed his eyes and kissed her full on the lips. Jeyne responded at once, removing her hands from her chest, cupping his left cheek with one and rolling him back on top of her with the other. She opened her eyes and stared at him. Big, beautiful, brown doe eyes. My favorite eyes. “Are you certain? We really don’t have to, truly.”
“Yes,” he whispered into her lips.
She kissed him, hard and vehemently, opening her mouth to his. He caressed her small breasts and kissed her jaw. He heard her moan and felt himself stiffen against her body. He worked his way down her neck– to her collarbone, to her breasts, to her stiff pink nipples.
He felt her hands finish unlacing his britches, pulling down his smallclothes, felt his hot cock in her hand as he let out a gasp of pleasure. He kicked them off himself the rest of the way as Jeyne pulled off his tunic.
He trailed kisses down her chest and stomach. The candles were still lit, the scented wax filled the air as he kissed her sweet cunt. He almost hadn’t done it, almost thought it’d remind it them of the first time he’d done it. The only time he’d done it. On her wedding night. But that was years ago now. And he had been Reek, and not Theon Greyjoy, just as she had been Arya Stark, and not Jeyne Poole. And Arya did not call his name, nor did Reek write poems with his tongue.
When he felt her spasm, he reared his head to look at her, flushed and smiling, her hands stroked his hair.
His eyes begged the question of her certainty, and her only reply was a small grin. He slowly inched back up to her level, kissing her as he slowly entered her for the first time. A soft sigh escaped both their lips as Jeyne wrapped her legs around his, pulling him in deeper.
Her beauty caught the moonlight and he could see her face in full luminosity, thrown into a beautiful chiaroscuro. Her eyes were closed, their thick black lashes lay on her pink cheeks. Her thin lips were parted only slightly, and her head was thrown back in pleasure; because of me, he thought, I am doing this, I am making her feel this.
Theon could not remember the last time he had felt pleasure of this sort. Seven, perhaps eight years? And never like this. Before it was fucking. Nothing more. Emotionless fucking. But this, gods, this is… making love. He’d never done that before. Had never been in love before. Had never so much as loved a woman before.
He kissed her neck lightly as he quickened his pace, his breath growing ragged, as he kept in sync with her bucks. She gasped, grabbing his hips and drawing him in deeper as he let out a loud moan.
With one final thrust, he spilled his seed in her, arching his back and letting out a sharp breath. He rolled off of her, wrapping his arms round her and taking her with.
They lay in silence for a moment, both catching their breath.
“That was the second best feeling I’ve ever felt.”
“Second?” Theon’s heart fell. He’d been damn fantastic at this, once.
“The first time we kissed,” Jeyne’s eyes were closed, “I had been waiting for that for years.”
Had his face not been flushed from exertion, it would have turned pink with slight embarrassment. “I love you.You’ve made me a better man. And there is nothing I can do to thank you for saving me.”
Jeyne opened her eyes and laced their fingers together. “Stay with me. I don’t want anything else. I want you. I want to be yours until the end of my days. Stay with me. I don’t care where it is we go, just promise me we’ll be together. Be mine, and let me be yours, until our days are done, brave kraken.”
“Yes,” he brushed her hair from her face with his free hand, “I am sorry that it is not safe for our marriage here– or-or anywhere, to be Theon Greyjoy or Jeyne Greyjoy– I-I don’t want it to be William and Beth, we’ve had enough names. And once the war is over, once my sister sits the Seastone Chair…”
Jeyne squeezed his hand, a look of consternation on her face, “But where would we go? You said… you told me what it was like there…”
“Wherever you want,” he kissed her.
AN: Okay, I suck at established relationship stuff. So read at your own caution.
Epilog: Jeyne I: 306 AC
She couldn't stop staring at the fire pit. We'll catch fire. We'll be dead before the day is done.
"Who brings this woman to be wed?"
"I do," Tycho boomed, "Tycho Nestoris. Now comes Jeyne of House Poole, a woman grown and flowered." He let go of her hand and stepped back.
"Who comes forth to claim this woman?" The fire priest's eyes left hers, shifting to Theon's.
"I do. Theon of House Greyjoy." He added no title. No pomp or flair. Not Prince Theon, not rightful Lord of the Iron Isles. Just Theon.
"Theon, will you share your fire with Jeyne, and warm her when the night is dark and full of terrors?"
“I swear it.” Jeyne saw him swell, straightening to his full height. The ironborn prayer leapt into her mind at the sight of him; What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger. "I swear it by salt and iron, I swear it by steel and stone."
"Jeyne, do you swear to share your fire with Theon, and warm him when the night is dark and full of terrors?"
“On my life, I swear it, until my days are done.”
"Then come to me and be as one." The priest's voice reverberated off the walls of the stone temple, echoing the words back at them, as if to emphasize their worth.
Jeyne watched as the flame behind him leapt higher, threatening to scorch the ceiling.
Theon took her hand as they leapt the fire pit, the flames licking at her boots and clawing to catch hold of her skirts.
"Two went into the flames. One emerges." The priest's skin seemed to radiate heat as he spoke, "What fire joins, none may put asunder."
"What fire joins, none may put asunder." Tycho parroted.
Theon spun her round and kissed her.
She sat on their bed and reverently removed the black and gold cloak she'd spent so much time on and traced the kraken's tentacles with a white finger.
She'd used and cut a single piece of golden wool and had painstakingly embroidered each suction cup.
She could never wear it. No one was to know who he was. Yes, the war was over, but he was a hated man. She stood up and pulled it over her shoulders, fastening the steel clasp. They owned a single mirror only large enough to see one’s face in. Jeyne climbed back onto the bed, standing this time, trying to see her whole body in the silver glass.
She gasped, half out of embarrassment and half out of surprise. She sat down on the bed, turning towards him, attempting to hide the cloak. "Yes?"
He paused, as if not understanding what was happening, "You made a wedding cloak."
Jeyne stood up and removed it, gently folding it in half, holding it out for him to inspect. "I...know I can't–can never wear it." Theon looked up at her and she dropped her voice, looking away. "I just didn't want to have the other one, and that one alone. I'm a Greyjoy,” she said, defiance in her voice.
Not a Snow.
Theon tilted her chin up and kissed her languidly, his other three fingers tucking her hair behind her ear. He pulled away and made his way to a dresser, vigorously pulling out drawers and emptying them on the ground.
Stopping, he turned round– holding the squirrel pelt cloak he'd rescued her in. A knife of emotion shot through her. Five years ago. It was five years ago. It is over and done.
Theon walked over to her and pulled the garment around her neck, not bothering to tie the laces.
He took her hand and lead her to the hearth, kneeling before her. "Jeyne of House Poole, do you take this man, Theon of House Greyjoy as your husband?"
Jeyne wanted to cry. No, no I will not cry. I must not cry. But her inner pleas were in vain. Jeyne's vision began to blur as she blinked away the tears. She knelt down beside him, taking his hand, she spoke, "Gladly." She paused, "Theon of House Greyjoy, do you take this woman, Jeyne of House Poole as your wife?"
"I would love nothing more."
Theon stood and removed the dirty old cloak, replacing it with the black and gold kraken Jeyne had made.
Kneeling once more, he cast the old into the flames. Theon dropped down onto his ass and looked over at Jeyne who had done the same, legs bent on either side of her, fanning out like wings. She stared into the flames, watching them engulf the one thing she'd kept from Westeros. They sat in silence for a time, listening to the flames eat away at the fabric of their past.
Never letting her eyes leave the flames she mused aloud, "I love you."
“I am honored to have you as my wife." A log shifted, spewing embers into the air. "And proud."
Epilog: Theon I: 306 AC
She wanted them so much, more than she wanted anything.
How could I tell a child who their father is? What their father did? How he was hated in Westeros, and how he'd fled for his life to Braavos. How could he tell them that he murdered innocent children, innocent people who he'd known most of his life? How could he explain the missing fingers and toes, all the scars left by battle and torture? I can't. Any child would hate their father after learning that.
“Please, Theon,” she’d plead, “just one.”
"If we ever did...have...a child..." he swallowed hard and forced himself to meet her eyes. "How would I ever tell them? How could I explain what what I did, what I've done?" He looked away again, closing his eyes. "I would hate my father if he told me that."
Jeyne took his hand, "Look at me. Theon, you would be a loving father. A wonderful father. And when they're old enough, you could tell them. They won't hate you. They may be upset with you for a bit, but they could never hate you. Not if you were a good father."
He could feel tears begin to well up in his eyes but made no move to wipe them away. "I'm so sorry Jeyne." He shook his head, "I...I could never burden a child with the knowledge of who their father is." What their father is.
"Was. It is the past. You've changed, you and I both know that." She gave him a sheepish grin, "You're still the man I used to watch in the yard when I was young. You're still witty and charming. You're no longer arrogant, and are nowhere near as cocksure as you used to be. You're kind and patient. You're well-read and intelligent, and without a doubt, the best bowman in the city."
Epilog: Jeyne II: 306 AC
"William of White Harbor?" The man at the door bore the sickle of Harlow across his doublet and upon recognizing it, he is of Theon’s kin.
“He is not in. May I take a message, ser?”
“No, I must speak with him. I will wait.”
“You will wait outside,” Jeyne replied, eyes narrowed. He is not here for William. This is for Theon.
Surreptitiously, Jeyne stared sidelong out the window at the man. Don’t wait in the front of our home with that doublet. She was about to say as much when she saw Theon and the man exchange words, and–
Theon flung open the door, dragging the man inside and throwing him against the wall. He removed the small knife he kept up his sleeve and pressed it to the man’s neck as a thin trickle of blood stained his black tunic. "Who are you and what do you want?"
“I am Zadock of House Harlaw. I come on behalf of Asha Greyjoy, Queen of the Iron Isles." He fumbled in his pocket and removed a rolled piece of parchment, sealed with the kraken of House Greyjoy.
So she does sit the Seastone Chair, Jeyne thought, watching as Theon snatched it out of the man's hand, breaking the seal and unrolling it. Good. A woman like her deserves no less.
Theon let out a long breath, looking up to Zadock, “Leave.”
The man did not need to be told twice and was gone within a moment. Jeyne had learned it was best for Theon to share things of personal worth in his own time, and not to ask him of it. But Theon held the parchment out for Jeyne to inspect.
I bring dark news. Our mother has passed and now feasts with the Drowned God below the waves. After many attempts at bringing an heir into the world, I've failed. The maesters say that I am barren, and will never bear children. You must produce an heir, else the lordship will be given to a cousin. Base-born or legitimate, I beg of you to produce a child. If you do, I invite you to Pyke, guaranteeing you and your Lady wife safety, as well as any children you produce. I wish you well, little brother, and count on you to do what is needed.
Asha Greyjoy, ruling Queen of the Iron Isles
"I'm so sorry. I know how much it meant to you. To see her again. I–"
"It doesn't matter anymore," she heard the air of false apathy, "she's gone and there's nothing I can do." Tone swinging drastically, he said “I had the chance. I had the chance to see her once more all those years ago. Before I left for Winterfell. But I didn't. I didn't care."
"Everyone has their regrets, Theon. You're no different from anyone."
He let out a small laugh that sounded more like a sob, "I hardly knew her. Yet she loved me."
She pulled him into her chest, stroking his hair. "That's what mothers do. Love their children unconditionally." She gripped him tight, as if trying to squeeze all the sadness out of him.
They broke fast in silence the next morning. She knew what he was thinking. The part of the letter they hadn't even acknowledged. An heir. He looked up at her and met her eyes over the brim of her cup. “Jeyne...there's something we need to address."
She paused in her chewing, swallowing hard and dabbing her lips with a napkin. "She needs an heir." Jeyne wanted to grin as wide as she ever had in her entire life.
Theon took a deep breath, "She already has one. Barnibus. A young cousin of ours. The Greyjoy blood runs thin in him." He stood and faced the hearth, turning his back to her. "I just...what if he's cruel or mad? What if Asha dies today and the Lordship is passed to a bellicose child? What if he brings back the old ways? What do you feel about this? Your unbiased opinion, please." He took her hand and gave it an encouraging squeeze.
"I would love noting more than a miniature version of you to dote on."
Theon scoffed and gave a small laugh, turning back to the fire.
"Though I think you're correct in worrying about any distant cousins. You know nothing of them, if they will be a peaceful Lord or one that will lead another failed rebellion that will cost the lives of thousands."
"At the risk of sounding self-serving, I think you should try. At least you know your child will be raised to be a kind and strong leader, and we can teach him all we know." She took his hand and stepped in front of him. His eyes are like tar. He pushed a few strands of loose hair from her face. "Alright, sweet Lady Jeyne."
Epilog: Theon II: 307 AC
Theon watched as she cradled the babe in her arms, gently rocking him back and forth. "I thought of something today."
"Hum?" She didn't look up from her three month old son, smiling down and making faces at him.
"It's been nine years since it all began." He stood and walked over to her and their child.
"And is this the end then?"
He has my eyes and hair. And my smile. If it weren't for the fair skin, one could build a strong case against the boy's maternal legitimacy.
“I hope not.”
She lay beside him, staring at the grey stone ceiling.
"I still don't know how I'll ever tell him. Tell him that his father is a Turncloak and a murderer."
She took his hand and squeezed. "That's years away. He's three months old. You needn't worry about that now."
He groaned and rolled onto his side, back towards her. Gods. How can I tell her? Tell her we must leave?
As if on cue, Jeyne asked “That's not all, is it? What's wrong?"
He flipped over onto his back once more, "We have to go back. We have to go to the Isles. If we don't, and he's raised here, they will never respect him. Like they did me."
Theon heard the unease and almost fear in her voice, “But...you told me how horrible it was. How cruel and...would you want your child raised there? A land with–"
“A land without morals. A land ruled by violence?”
Jeyne blushed, “I didn’t mean it like that, I meant…your Lord father treated you–"
"Asha is not my father. Do you not remember what she did for me? I would be dead if not for her."
Jeyne reddened. "Prove to me that our child will be safe. Tell me why it is better for his well being to live in the isles rather than Braavos. Promise me he will be educated. Promise me he will not learn to be cruel and callous. Promise to help me point him down the right path, Theon. I want Robb to be safe"
Epilog: Jeyne III: 307 AC
She sighed and looked down at her son "Do you want to be raised a Greyjoy? Would you like to live on Pyke?"
He giggled and reached up to pull her hair.
She heard Theon's footsteps ascending the stairs, but made no move to shift from her spot on the ground to face him.
"Jeyne?" his voice was low and fatigued.
"Humm?" She glanced up to see an exhausted looking Theon. "What's wrong?" She stood and placed Robb back in his crib, "Are you hurt?" She shoved his hand away from a cheek, revealing a shallow wound that looked more like a scrape than anything. She narrowed her eyes, "What happened to you?"
Theon half laughed, fingers fumbling to remove a burr covered doublet. "I took Ran on his first hunt today." He snaked out of his doublet and tunic and began unlacing his britches. "He's younger than I am. And has all ten toes." He gave her a half grin.
Jeyne began to pick the twigs out of his hair.
When down to his small-clothes, he sat placidly on the edge of their bed, eyeing her with black eyes. "I've word from Asha." He held out a rolled piece of parchment with an already broken seal of a kraken. "She congratulates us on the birth of our son." Theon watched her as her eyes moved down the letter. "And offers to give us safe passage to Pyke. She will provide tutors and a maester to serve our household. She says it's safer for no one to know who I am, or who our son is until he becomes the lord."
Jeyne looked up at him, jaw set hard in tenacious defiance. "I'll do it. Though I refuse to live on Pyke. I don't want to be by the capital. Harlaw."
Theon grinned wide "Harlaw."
He is returning to the Isles. “As it was, then again it will be.”
She did not realize she had said as much aloud until Theon replied: “‘And though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea.’”
Jeyne tilted her head, “That is very apropos, Theon. Eloquent.”
Her husband guffawed, snorting.
"What? Why are you laughing?"
Theon smiled and shook his head. "Nothing. Nothing at all."
Epilog: Theon III: 308 AC
They had been there but a month, and spring had started mayhaps two months ago, but Theon watched as Jeyne hiked her britches up and waded in the cool waters of Ironman’s Bay, Robb at her hip, speaking to him of sweet nothings.
She’d cut her hair shorter again– not like before, but in the style of the women of the Isles– four inches give or take, and had never quite let the salt water leave it, so that it was almost curly rather than wavy.
She never spoke to their son as though he were a babe. Never babbled back at him or repeated the nonsensical noises he made. Theon liked that, that she refused to belittle their son and act as though he were a fool.
The wind shifted and he could hear her soliloquy; “Do you know what this is, Robb? This is a conch. On your father’s twenty-second name-day, I found one and attempted to cook it. Though I must have done it wrong because he grew quite Ill for a day and a half and would not stop vomiting.” She smiled, “He still refuses to admit he knew it was my fault.” She kissed him on the cheek. “Your father is iron, sweetling. And do you know what iron does?” She turned to Theon, as if knowing he was there all along. “Iron will break before it bends. And if it does, it is reforged to be stronger than it ever was before. Stronger than all other unbroken iron blades.”
Epilog: Jeyne IV: 309 AC
“You are my little brother’s wife?” Asha looked at her appraisingly, judging her by looks alone. She is a strong woman. Tenacious. But she has yet to know me.
“He is mine,” Jeyne replied, raising a hand to the ribbon at her neck, an inadvertent air of slight noncompliance in her tone, “and I am his.”
Asha gave her an expectant look. What? What do you want? Then she remembered; “My Lady.”
Jeyne knew she was out of character and hadn’t the faintest notion why. Analytically, she should harbor nothing but respect for the woman. Theon had said it was because she was with child, and she had wanted to hit him for that.
Asha Greyjoy, she thought, when her brother was taken as a hostage, she was all her father had left. He groomed her to be his heir, as any parent would. She felt entitled to treat Theon as much as she had. She’d been nurtured to do so. The Isles is not a place of kindness. Yet…yet she saved him. Risked her life for him. She could have died, she could have gone to Braavos instead. But she is strong. And she did what she must to take what was hers. Vicariously, she had saved me as well. She is kind. Strong and kind. And Jeyne respected that. Though one needn’t be fond of those they respect.
Jeyne unconsciously made a noise of annoyance that sounded somewhere between a baby watarlizard and a creaking ship.
Asha smirked at her, the way Theon had smirked all those years ago.
“Queen,” Asha corrected her. Queen of the Isles, yes, Jeyne thought, though not the realm.
Theon looked at her, pleadingly “Queen,” Jeyne parroted. It gave her a slight perverse pleasure to see him so uncomfortable.
She thinks me low born, that I am not fit to be her brother’s wife. And it stung. She was not noble, not even of the isles. A knightly House of the North.
“And my brother? He saved you, then? Tell me.”
Jeyne watched Robb in her periphery, picking at the sheepskin rug. “Why ask questions you know the answers to? Save for when in the practice of Occam’s razor?”
She heard Theon groan beside her. She already hates me, Theon, before we even met, she did, Jeyne thought, let me give her a reason to.
Asha smiled at her. Not smirked sardonically, she smiled.
Epilog: Jeyne V: 310 AC
“None of them look anything like me at all,” it came out as a childish whine, and she cringed at it, “not that it’s bad, I just…”
All boys. “Do you think they’ll be the sort where they look the same?”
Robb was now three, and could not be more elated to have not one, but two brothers.
“Oh, gods, I hope not. You remember those two sisters? On that village right off the King’s Rode?”
Theon looked away, reconsidering his train of thought, “They would play tricks on Robb. Pretend to be the other.”
Tricks on you, you mean. So you would fuck them both. She gave him a little wink as he blushed. Robb looked up at the mention of his name, “Not you, Robb. A different Robb.”
“Oh. When will they be old enough to play with?” The child grabbed the side of the crib, attempting to look inside at his brother Mordecai.
Jeyne had wanted to name them traditional Greyjoy names, but Theon had replied “Jeyne, if you can find one single Lord Reaper of Pyke that was not a complete cock at some point, I will gladly oblige.”
Jeyne had failed to find a non-cock Greyjoy. Save his sister. Though she was more a cunt than a cock.
She had always liked that name, Mordecai. She’d heard it only once, and she could not remember where, but it resonated with her, and she had not forgotten it.
“Be patient, Robb.”
Theon walked over to the other crib and picked up Obed. She’d wanted Theon to choose his name alone. For Obed looked the spitting image of his father. Dark hair, eyes of tar, olive skin, his nose, his lips. Everything.
They all have his eyes. All of them. Though…Mordecai resembled her in his own subtle ways, although she could not pinpoint any of them.
“They look so much like you, Theon.” Jeyne inclined her head towards Obed, “And he is you.”
“We can keep trying until we have one like you. If you wanted to.”
Jeyne smiled softly, walking over to him, she kissed him. “No. I love my small krakens. And my brave kraken.”
A few things: I am trash and used song lyrics a few times.
Lady Jane by The Rolling Stones, Perfect Day by Lou Reed, Sweet Jane by The Velvet Underground, Ten Years Gone by Led Zeppelin and The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin.
Agatha Christie, Jean De La Fontaine, Shakespeare and Homer’s Odyssey.
Oh, yeah. And the Greyjoys and Iron Isles culture has HUGE nods to H.P. Lovecraft, so I used some of his names for random ironborn characters I had to make up.
Okay, well that was awful, goodbye.