The grand hall of Harrenhal rings with laughter and boasts and no one laughs louder or boasts more boisterously than Lyanna’s betrothed, Robert Baratheon. He’ll find the Knight of the Laughing Tree before any of these fools, he declares, and he’ll wager anything on it. Many take that bet, including her brother Brandon, and all those fools set themselves to the task of unmasking their mysterious knight.
I’m right here, Lyanna thinks. But she won’t reveal herself and the only man that could has chosen to announce his failure instead of her name.
So she sits and listens to her legend grow. She’s a fame seeking hedge knight then an outlaw already drenched in bloody infamy. She sprouts to six feet tall, she gains twice her weight and thrice her age and then shrinks back again to her true size as those not too deep in their cups remember something of her actual appearance.
Robert cares neither one way or another. He knows he’ll find the knight, a good sort he’s sure. Why else would the tree be laughing? They’ll be the greatest of friends and they’ll find ale to drink and women to fuck and then they’ll get more of both.
“But what if the knight is a woman?” Lyanna shouts, a bite of anger carrying her voice further than she intended.
A moment of quiet falls as Robert looks her way for the first time since they sat for this meal. It’s little more than a glance, and then he turns back to his friends. He laughs his loudest yet and slaps his hands against the table. None of his mirth is for her. “What strange japes your sister makes, Ned!” he says through a wide grin. “A woman!”
What a strange jape Father made, Lyanna thinks. She keeps her secret still. She knows her place today as a daughter of Winterfell and the betrothed of the Storm Lord. As the din rises once more, she thinks of the man who did not laugh, who needed no embellishment to admire her deeds.
Lyanna knows her place today, just as certainly as she knows it will not be her place tomorrow.