if anyone’s on, I’m in the chatzy. :)
Jon shivered under his black coat (inadequately serving its purpose to keep him warm) as he stood scrubbing tables in the heavy, cold air that filled the Dining Hall. Thick, curly locks of raven hair fell into his face as he hunched over, stroking away at the nasty old planks of wood with a tattered, raggedy cloth; scraping bits away from a rancid coalition of gunk that coated the table. It included everything from last week’s meal; to decaying teeth - knocked out during the occasional argument at supper. Gods know what else he scraped from that horrendous blanket of bacteria glued to the tables; it was almost as terrible as the floors.
When his hopes of being a Ranger had been dashed at Lord Mormont’s command and he had been claimed a Steward, Jon fell into a place where sorrow and anger coincided. He had been given a position that he knew he did not deserve. This cloth that he now held in dry, cracked hands had been slung at him by aging Stewards, forced to train fresh recruits dubbed ‘unsuitable’ for intensive duties that only belonged to the likes of Rangers. He scrubbed with such anger, such fervor - so strong that it almost made him forget the sour taste in his mouth. He held the most skill (as far as swordplay went) out of all of these recruits; and he thought that he had adequately revealed his skill in the training yard. All he could think about now were his currently wasted abilities and the stench wafting through the air.
A knock on the large wooden door and Jon’s head was up in a snap, watching as a boy, not too much younger than himself, entered the dimly-lit room. “Raven fer’ ..Sn..Snow”, the young man with acne across his face and greasy hair tucked behind cold, red ears called out hesitantly. It was clear that he did not know how to read. Jon left his rag on the table and walked towards the boy, rubbing dirty hands on his black pants before retrieving the letter. Although he did not recognize the sigil, the young man eagerly broke the seal and read the note as the carrier saw himself out.
Jon scratched his head as re-read the note; flattered by it’s contents. He grew a little giddy as his childlike curiosity caused his wild imagination to idly wander. He imagined how the writer looked, envisioning a beautiful girl with soft, dark red hair and deep green eyes that any man couldn’t help but sink into. Then, his thoughts wandered to other, more realistic things. Had Robb set this up? He began to wonder why a performer would write to him, and what motives she might have secretly been holding by doing so. His thoughts were interrupted by the First Steward, Bowen Marsh, as he heard a distinctive clearing of the throat before him. The wrinkled man shot him an inquisitive look, which made Jon’s dark eyes flick back to the dirty cloth, still awaiting for his return on the nasty table. Remembering his duties, Jon folded the parchment and stuck it in his back pocket—delighted that the letter had pulled him away from his hardships for at least a little while.
Even though it had long ago grown dark; and his duties for the day were finished, Jon anxiously sat down in a secluded corner of the dining hall that he had designated as private enough to write in. Jon picked at the place behind his trimmed nails where he swore to feel pieces of dirt and grime hiding, although he’d already scrubbed and washed his hands with lye soap several times. The words quickly flowed from his mind, as he’d been thinking of what to write all afternoon. He began:
I wish to thank you for expressing interest in writing me, as it can be quite lonely on the Wall; and hearing from a woman is truly refreshing. I cannot help but inquire; however, how you came to meet Lady Catelyn and my dear brother; and how you were acquainted with them. Are they doing well? I have not heard much word and it always reaches us late on the Wall, anyway. Have they given you Word of my sisters and brothers?
We’ve just been given our posts, and while I am an experienced swordsman - and was hopeful to be a Ranger - I was sadly appointed to the position of Steward. My preconceptions of life as a Man of the Night’s Watch have proven to be false, for I find myself first servant to Lord Mormont, which, although an honor, is very disappointing. Emptying chamber pots and changing bed linens were not exactly what I had hoped to be doing here. I dreamed of bravely fighting off wildlings and exploring the Northern territory; and having to relinquish these desires has brought me great melancholia. I hope to hear from you soon, and, with hope, you are faring better than I. I am delighted that you have written to me, and look forward to our correspondence.
Before anyone around him could read it, the man folded up the sentiment and poured Black Wax atop. He deeply pressed the emblem of a Crow into the melted wax as he sealed away his thoughts with the letter.
The raven locks of Lyanna’s hair fanned out around her as she picked up the pewter cast hairbrush in the leather sack she carried with her. It used to be her mothers, as almost everything she owned now had been. While the bristles of the brush work to comb the tangles for her hair, Lyanna hummed softly and thought of her mother. The only family she’d ever had.
How easily her image came back into the girl’s mind. A woman of astounding beauty. Lyanna often envied her mother red tresses as a child. She would talk about how it looked like fire, those red curls, and how Lyanna wanted them too. ‘No, my sweet,’ Her mother Meryll would whisper softly as she laid her down to sleep, ‘Fire can be put out. The flames will dim in time, but you have the blessing of the Children of the Forest.’ She would ran a hand through the thick black hair on Lyanna’s head. “It is the color of the Dragonglass they fought with; it is the color of the dark lakes in the Godswood where they worshiped, as we do; it is the color of the night sky, our eternal protection.’ Meryll kissed the little one’s forehead and pulled her blanket up to her chin. ‘One day, my little princess, men will battle for a simple lock of your blessed hair.’ With a kind stroke from temple to chin of Lyanna’s pale face, her mother rose and made her way out of the room the two shared.
Lyanna did not want men to battle for her hair though. Even at such a young age, Lyanna knew she did not want men to be a large part of her life. They were cruel. They were mean and disrespectful. They did not treat her mother like the queen she should have been, instead they called her foul things that brought tears to her eyes when she was alone. No. Men may fight for the lock of Lyanna, but that was all they’d be able to have; her hair.
Much later, when Lyanna was fast asleep, her mother would come back in from working a hard days worth. It brought a tear to the eye of the girl now, knowing how hard her mother had worked in her life just to keep a roof over her head, and food in her stomach every night. Suddenly, she was jolted from her reverie by a cough at the opening of her tent. Her blue eyes snapped to the face of a tiny, dirty boy. He had chestnut colored hair and was missing one of his front teeth.
"Missus Snow. There’s a letter here for you."
The boys words sparked excitement within her. Jon! Who else would be writing her or know her whereabouts? She leapt from the cot she’d found herself sitting on and reached into her lather bag once more, pulling a small copper coin from it. "Thank you kindly, Ser." With a gracious smile, she handed the money to the boy and took the letter. The boy’s face lit up at the sight of the coin and he bustled back out of her tent with a call of gratitude.
Quickly, she sat down at her table and pulled the lit candle there nearer. Her finger were deft in opening the letter which was indeed sealed with the Black Crow of the Night’s Watch. As her eyes took in all that he said, a smile grew on her face and she immediately grabbed her ink, quill, and parchment, eager to respond.
May I begin by telling you how relieved that I am to have received your letter. I was quite afraid that you would not write me back.
I am a traveling performing throughout Westeros and some of the Stark’s army men came across me in a tavern. They invited me back to this camp in order to perform for the soldiers and leaders. Lady Stark pulled me away from the fire one day to speak with me, and I have spoken several time with His Grace in passing, but he has become quite a busy man; running a war and recently being wed and all that. He seems happy though, and there are rumors that Bran, Rickon, and Arya are on their way to Riverrun as well. I wish I were more informed in the matters so that I could tell you, but sadly, I am not.
From what His Grace Robb, who speaks fondly of you often, tells you are quite the fighter. I find it hard to imagine that those in charge of the Night’s Watch intend to keep you in a steward’s position long. At least this way, though, I won’t have to worry as much about you gallivanting straight into danger. I’d hate to lose someone I’ve only just begun to know.
I find myself staying here at Riverrun a bit longer than I had originally intended, but the company and the money are almost too good to give up. Although some of the soldiers are a bit too handsy, overall the atmosphere has been most relaxing. Ironic, no? I find a war camp relaxing. Tonight, though, I found myself in a grievous state of mind. Before the little lad delivered your letter to me, I found myself thinking deeply of my mother. You see, my mother was the one parent I knew in my life. She passed away some time ago, and I miss her whole-heartedly. Do you know anything of your mother, Jon? If you don’t, it was not a question meant to make you saddened. Could you tell me of your father?
I pray this finds you warm and happier,
Her eyes scanned her familiar pattern of dips and curls for any errors. Without spotting any, she sealed the letter again by pressing her necklace into the hot green wax. This time, she’d decided to omit the surname they shared. It bothered her to have to look at it, and there was no doubt in her mind that he was no fonder of the name than she. Wrapping a light robe around her to cover her nightgown, she left her tent to find the closest raven.
The heavy scent of blood was already dispersing in the air. It smelled like molten metal, like the forging that he loved more than anything, and would quickly attract any strays looking to fill their bellies if he didn’t move. Luckily, he had Lyanna, whom wasted no time tending to him. Quick as a whip she’d bandaged him the best she could (although it was clear she was no nurse), and had lead him back to camp by the wrist. All the while she cursed, chiding him like an overprotective mother, and Gendry couldn’t help but feel a rush of goodwill towards the girl. She seemed genuinely concerned for his welfare, which he had to admit was a first. Master Mott had been good enough to him, but had felt no shame in turning him on the streets once the coin stopped flowing. Hot Pie could barely keep himself, let alone worry for Gendry, and Arya…well, she had more than enough to deal with than a lowborn blacksmith.
He wondered how ‘lady Arya’ would react to his wounds, and had to smile. She’d curse, call him a stupid bull, and tell him to take it like a man. She’d probably shriek for the wolf’s safety, as she was considered one herself. She certainly wouldn’t have treated him as gallant as Lyanna had. Lyanna had said that the Starks had personally accepted her into their pack, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
She led him past the sentries, now drunk at their post, and through a maze of turns. He saw the stables and their armored horses, and the lush garrisons of the Stark’s most trusted lords, before she dropped his hand in front of a tent that looked much worsein comparison. It was a small thing, only wide enough to host a few cots and a repository bursting with herbs - though Robb Stark could undoubtedly afford rich medicines, the Northmen seemed to rely on home remedies - and it was full of patients. The nurse, a gap-toothed woman with familiar yellow hair, led him to sit by one.
With the chains around her wrists and exposed legs, the girl, who was not much younger than himself, was obviously a whore. Gendry gave her a tentative smile as the nurse set him beside her, but the girl did not return it. Although her dark eyes were trained on his, it was as if she couldn’t see him at all. When he took into account her stick arms and the first signs of fatness around her belly, he understood why. The moon tea that another, uglier nurse gave her only confirmed his suspicions, and, embarrassed, he turned away from her.
Lyanna was standing at the front of the tent, where she’d retreated after telling the nurse what had happened. The girl was avoiding his wound, and, should things become too nauseating, she was well positioned to flee outside. Her mouth was grim, worried though she’d only just met him, and Gendry called for her in the hopes of raising her spirits. “At least I’ve all my fingers!” He joked, blue eyes alight with amusement, but Lyanna only made a face. He laughed at it still, and was still smiling when the nurse looked to his wounds.
She took his hand in hers, and at the touch his fingers seized once more. He yelped, but the woman continued to peel back Lyanna’s makeshift bandage. At the sight of the carnage, she clucked her tongue and busied herself with getting fresh bandages and a jar of odorous white paste. “Hells boy, what made you bother with wolves?” she scolded. Lyanna had asked the same thing, and Gendry found himself repeating his answer.
“Just curious, miss. The dog looked dead to me.” In retrospect, it had been something of a thick thing to do, but he was too bullheaded to admit his mistake. “It’s strange - who’d kill a wolf amongst the Starks? Are the men really that bored?”
Like Lyanna, the woman had no answer, so instead she stuck a wad of leafy green herbs into his mouth. He nearly swallowed in surprise. “Chew this, lad,” said the woman.
“What for?” Gendry asked, mumbling through the mouthful.
“This,” she said casually, before rubbing the paste into his open wounds with her wrinkled fingers. It stung with a pain worse than the wolf’s bite and left his skin burning and puckering. Gendry clenched his jaw, turning from the both of them, as the open flesh of his arm dried and fell to the floor in bloody clumps. Whatever the herbs were supposed to do, alleviate the pain or distract him, it didn’t work, but the nurse peeled off the paste, which had hardened in the air, after a minute. He found that he liked her much less now.
“Oh, a strong boy like you, you’ll be fine.” She said, giving him a bowl to spit the green pulp into. She cleaned the last of his blood off his clenched fingers and dressed them. The wolf had shredded him, and without the skin his hands were red and incredibly painful. The woman assured him that he’d be back to normal within a fortnight provided he wear a glove and take herbs. Gendry was more than a little skeptical.
“…Right,” He said shakily, and rose to his feet. The bloodied remains of his skin littered the floor. They’d probably feed it too the dogs, he though morbidly. He cursed himself for acting so foolishly - he’d be useless for work, and the pain would worsen his already spotty sleep. But as he went to Lyanna, he tried to act in good spirits.
“Should we continue, miss?” His voice was steady once more.
“At least I’ve all my fingers!”
Gendry’s jovial voice called out to her, and she looked up from her spot at the exit of the tent. He had a cheerful demeanor still, but Lyanna crinkled her nose, furrowed her brow, and gave her best ‘you’re damn lucky to have them too’ look. It all struck her as very strange. Never before in her life had Lyanna took it upon herself to worry about the welfare of others, aside from her mother that is. She had just learned to fend for herself. Gendry’s laugh echoed through the all too quiet tent, and it brought a small smile to the Northern girl’s face only to be cut off by his audible wince. Feeling a tad nauseous, Lyanna turned from the scene to look out into the dark night again.
A chilled breeze struck her, and she shivered. It came to her attention that she was still clad in her performance dress, which was also ripped now. Not that it was much for coverage anyway. The thin fabric was made for her to be able to move freely in and to flatter her body, not for comfort. When her eyes looked up, she noted a man walking by leering at her as she attempted to cover herself. Suddenly feeling unsafe in the open like that, she turned and went back into the tent. The nurse was wrapping his hand up. 'Thanks the Gods.' She thought. She wasn’t sure how much more of the open wound she could stomach.
The tall boy, now looking a little worse for wear, came strolling up to her. “Should we continue, miss?” His deep voice did not betray him though. It was as steady and the vague smirk that lingered in the corner of his mouth. Then again, Lyanna found herself wondering why so much about him seemed familiar. Why did she feel connected to him in this inconceivable way? Then the thought struck her.
How was she even going to ask about this? She despised when people questioned her on her heritage. How could she morally go about and ask him on his? The frustration built up in her until a small pout pursed her lips. Without thought, she began to walk towards her tent. Perhaps it was the growing chill that made her turn that way and a want to change into her regular gear, or maybe it was that she knew it was a private place where she could discuss the epiphany she’d just had. "Are you sure that you wouldn’t prefer to just go rest? You’ve had quite the interesting evening." He may very well be too tired after his bout with the dead wolf to delve into his past this night, and she wouldn’t be ardently opposed to setting it aside for a day.
"I’m sure we can find you a nice soft place to lay your head for the night." Her blue eyes turned to gaze at him for perhaps the thousandth time that day. It was definitely possible. The eyes were the first thing she noted, of course. The eyes as blue as sky on a cloudless day, and they shared the black hair too. He was much taller than she, but well, her father was said to have been a large warrior, a lovely sight to behold. She could even tell in the way they carried their mouths. The smirks, laughs, and quick teasing. It was impossible, and yet, here he was.
All my lovely people, please do not let me miss a para from you! I’m terribly sorry I wasn’t on today and won’t be tonight. I’ve been awake for over 24 hours and 12 of them were spent at an amusement park. I’m wore out, and am going to get some sleep. Just message me anything I need to see or know. All my love! xo- Alexa
ooc: If only Jon could reply to this….ugghhh.
ooc: Jon couldpass as a woman ;) ;)
ooc: Do you think it’s the hair?
ooc: omg i’ll never be the same
The future Ana and I came up with.
Prince Gendry, the Hand of the King, and Princess Arya
King Jon and Queen Lyanna
The blacksmith felt his face grow hot at her remark. He had not meant to imply anything vulgar, and he tried to explain that with a stuttering apology. “Oh, no miss, I didn’t…I just…” He shifted his gaze from the ground to her face, and was surprised at her reaction. She was looking up at him from under long lashes, her head crooked like an expectant child, and a smirk was playing at her lips. She was japing him, and at the sight his entire demeanor changed.
“Nothing bad, I promise,” the boy answered with a broad smile, “just that I’ve never met a lowborn,” and he assumed her status from her lack of titles or surname, “so…refined, I suppose? You’re more a lady than some I know.”
The walk was pleasant, and Gendry found himself enjoying the girl’s company more than he expected. If anything could have tainted it is was the war prisoners, and they did try. Despite being only a fraction of Robb Stark’s detainees, they crowded their copper cages completely and had to be guarded by ten men. The prisoners looked as bored as the guards, and seemed happy at the chance to insult the passing duo. The ones pressed against the bars began to sing slurs, at Lyanna in particular. The guards, who were unhappy at missing the festivities, looked almost grateful for the distraction and moved before Gendry could. They drew their swords in subdue the lot, but the prisoners would not be hurt badly. Robb Stark was a sympathetic captor, and too kind for his own good.
Gendry turned from the ugly sight and took up after Lyanna once more. It was a name strange to his ears, but perhaps it was a common one in the north. Or perhaps she had been named to curry favor with a noble, like the surges of baby Joffreys named after the old king got himself killed. The girl certainly was a mystery to him; while she had inferred his occupation before he had spoke, and now knew that he was as lowborn as they could come, Gendry knew little of her.
She had led him past the prisoners, past the scourges of sick and wounded, and out of the camp itself. Robb Stark, or most likely his mother, had chosen the camp’s location well. It was bordered by crag and sheepbacks older than the Andals, and anything approaching would be straight in the line of fire. Tall grass grew to his knees, and weedy flowers lay drowned in the muck. There was little wind, but something had the grass shuddering just a small ways off.
Gendry pulled Lyanna back, perhaps too roughly for a girl, before slipping his calloused hands from her arm and crouching. Within moments he had found the trouble. It was a large wolf, still and pooling in it’s own blood by an arrow. The wound itself was infected, and Gendry was about to rise with the conclusion that it had been shot days ago and had died painfully, before he caught the creature’s eye twitching. Too late, he snatched back his hands, and the beast spasmed and sunk it’s teeth deep into the fingers of his dominant hand.
The boy drew back, and with a final blow to the beast’s temple the deed was done. Gendry leaned back and let out a string of curses under his breath before sneaking a glance at Lyanna. He was glad to see that she was not crying or panicking.
“Ah, mind showing me to your medic, miss?” He held up his hand, and wished he hadn’t. It looked worse in the moonlight.
"Yes, Lyanna the lowborn lady. Has quite a ring to it, don’t you think?" The girl laughed. A real laugh too, not the one she reserved for her audience or for the terribly boring jokes of the highborns she’s encountered. "I’m afraid that’s just what I am. No more than a girl trying to make her way. I was actually performing at an inn a few miles south of here, when the Stark men saw me and invited me here to perform." She shrugged and tucked a loose lock of black hair behind her ear. "And since the Starks have been so kind to me, I’ve just stuck around for a time. I’ll be having to move on again soon." She knew better than to stay in one place for too long. Lyanna could easily get attached, and then she might start to tell her secrets. Secrets are what kept this girl alive.
"Whore!" The calls through the gate made her gut clench. "Hey Whore! Set me free, and I’ll give you a real fuck." "I hear you’re a bastard whore." It wasn’t anything she hadn’t grown accustomed to over the years, but that never made it hurt any less. She cut her eyes away from the gate, and looked down at the ground attempting to hurry past them before she barked something at them that she would regret. It had taken too many years for her to learn to bite her tongue to look foolish now. Believe it or not, as a child, Lyanna had been very forthcoming in her thoughts. She’d sling slurs with the best of them. It wasn’t until her mother taught her the consequences of what may happen to a girl like her that she finally learned to silence herself.
When the guards had finally settled the prisoners, and the two had passed them along, Lyanna opened her mouth to begin to say something before being pulled back abruptly. She lost her footing in the tug and landed squarely on her backside. "What the-" Lyanna cut herself off with a gasp as she saw the poor wolf, crimson in the moonlight. Then, before she could do anything to stop it, the wolf flashed it’s teeth and spread the crimson to Gendry hands. The strong boy had no problem ending the wolf’s life, but in the process he’d procured a nasty wound. He held it up in the light, and she could see the ragged edges of skin, and the blood that now freely flowed down his arm. "Oh, seven hells!" She cursed quickly as she tore the hem of her dress off and grabbed his wrist.
As she stood to drag him to the nearest nurse, she wrapped the cloth tightly around the wound. Lyanna didn’t know much about nursing or healing or any of that, but she did know enough to know not to let it go on bleeding and the faster they got help, the better. With a tight grasp now on his wrist, she dragged the lumbering boy behind her. "By the gods, Gendry! What would make you want to touch that thing anyway!" Her voice had developed a nice sharp quality to it as they passed the gated prisoners again. Not because she was mad at Gendry, but because she’d, in their brief time, had become a mite protective of him. "You don’t just go grabbing at dead animals, you dolt!"
When they came upon the tent that Lyanna had remembered to be where a couple of the field nurses stayed, she finally let go of his wrist and pointed at him. "Do not move," and with that, she was in the tent asking one of the ladies to come and have a look at her friends hand. She gave little explanation aside from that. Lyanna had become a girl that allowed society to assume what they would about her. She didn’t divulge any more information than necessary. Finally, a woman with yellow hair followed her out of the tent to have a look. The blue-eyed girl kept her distance back. She did not want to see that wound again.
If anyone’s online, I’m all alone in the chatzy. Come join me.
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