Tree, tree, tree, patch of snowy grass, tree, tree, tr-aww a rabbit!, tree….
More or less, this had been the thought pattern of Adain throughout the last 12 hours. Couch rides were rarely enjoyable, if not for the bumpy ride but for the total and utter lack of entertainment. That said, she did have fun imagining a giant rabbit conspiracy was gripping the North and her marriage was actually a plot on behalf of the rabbits to show off how adorable they were, because she would accept an evil overlord as long as he had a fluffy coat and a tail…
Just imagine it “hello Adain, we’ve been expecting you” *nibbles carrot*
Her blatant disregard in the face of an impending marriage, even though she’d only been betrothed about 6 days prior said a lot about Adian. Impractical, irresponsible, harebrained, whimsical were just a few of the many words used to describe her rather absentee mentality and while she didn’t really care much about the more…unsympathetic…comments she did begrudge the fact that people would never let her near milk of poppy seed, for fear it would exacerbate her ‘delusions’.
‘Milk of poppy seed’ how do you milk a plant? I can see it now a field of mooing poppies…I wonder what it tastes like? Maybe the Starks will have an unattended poppy-barn nearby! She thought hopefully, proving all those who’d been reluctant to let her near a hallucinogenic drug correct.
As for the marriage, she’d been groomed for marrying someone since she could barely hold a far-off stare. That was the life of a high-born woman; they were born, they grew up and they were betrothed
But not necessarily in that order
After all her sister had been betrothed for 13 years…and she was 12.
The Starks were said to be good people and more importantly, Winterfell was famous for its occasionally bizarre architecture that offer a myriad of hidy-holes and abandoned tunnels. She’d also heard good things about her husband-to-be’s facial hair, she’d always been fascinated with auburn hair and beards and he apparently collected them in a super-auburnybeard. She could picture herself forcing him to grow it then spending days on end grooming it to perfection – perfectly normal wifely-duties.
To be perfectly honest, she wasn’t expecting much other than facial hair from her fiancée, the marriage had only been proposed after a monstrously large gold-mine had been discovered in the north of their holdings, catapulting Houses Ryswell from random vassal house to a hot topic. Sure enough, marriage proposals had come in their dozens within a month and while personally Adain had wanted to marry the Unicorn herder from Skagos alas her uncle had stood in that way of that charming match.
It was about 3 days ride to Winterfell from The Rills, her families’ lands, so she had another 2 and half days of sore-arses, bunny plots and beard fantasies ahead of her…what joy.
The word rang in her head, freedom sighted on the horizon. It has been a test of extreme endurance on behalf of both her and her Gluteus Maximus but she had triumphed and a soft bed cushions, pillows and rabbits were hopefully awaiting her.
When Adain’s carriage had passed through the ever-so-slightly menacing gates of Winterfell she got a look at the hold itself, it was a rather cumbersome place and clearly had been standing for many years. If the hold were a person she’d say he was a grumpy grandfather who constantly regaled children with tales of ‘the war’ between chasing them angrily off his lawn but truly hid a heart of gold underneath a gruff exterior.
The carriage ground to a halt and the door was flung open -by a knight who, by the way, had very large ears and probably super-sonic hearing abilities- and she got her first proper look at the Starks. To her delight, they were a veritable field of auburn hair, save the smallest girl and the man she presumed to be Lord Stark.
Introductions were brief. As with every aspect of ‘etiquette’ they were laced with a sneaky suspicion that your partner was trying to be as moderately friendly as possible; never too smiley, never too tense but the perfect mix of I-don’t-hate-you and you-have-yet-to-prove-yourself. Adain played along of course, she might defy social decorum from time to time but even she understood the importance of first impressions.
She’d been warned about the wolves but seeing them made a distressing thought occur to her; had any measures been taken to protect the local rabbits? Conspiring evil fur balls they may be but direwolf resistant they were not!
“My, my, you look just like your father” Lady Stark informed her as she was stewarded towards the main hall where a feast was apparently being prepared.
“It’s nice to hear that, Lady Stark, I like the idea that I look like him” Adain gave her a warm smile, she had never met her father but she was aware of the resemblance.
There were corpus amounts of portraits of him decorating her home, courtesy of her grieving mother. You couldn’t lean on the walls without blaspheming on his memory for a while but they reined her mother in after she suggested the stable boy’s quarters be like-wise decorated…
Adain got most her features, including dark brown hair and earthy green eyes, from her father and her perpetually doe-like wide eyes from her mother. Those same eyes made her stare look glassy and unfocused.
Though to be fair, her eyes generally were glassy and unfocused the shape of them just made it more obvious.
The feasting was fun; it was lively, the ale was flowing and everyone was far to busy taking advantage of both to be unfriendly
The highlight of the evening however was one man around the table who seemed to be able to drink forever and never get drunk. It was quite fun actually, she would mentally count the tankards of beer then check for any signs of inhibition.
Number 18: slight slurring of the word ‘indubitably’, Number 19: subtle shaking of the rump at a bard’s song, Number 20: Passionate insistence that h-
“It’s not gunna work” Observed a mysterious disembodied voice, with a small squawk unbefitting of a lady she whipped her head round
To her surprise, Robb Stark (and his hair) was the perpetrator of her bamboozling and what’s worse he was chuckling at her squawk.
“If you’re referring to Kings’ Landings newest tax collection initiatives then yes I concur” She said diligently
Smooth recovery she thought, though the entirety of the previous sentence was made up…
Robb shot her a bemused look before realising her ploy
“Maybe it isn’t” He shot her a small smile. ”But one thing’s for sure, neither you nor I will never see Lord Mullen smashed” He settled down beside her on the long wooden benches flanking the table.
“I doubt that’s even physically possible, he has to get drunk eventually” Incredulity ruled her tone
“Maybe that’s true for most people but Lord Mullen’s a bit of a freak of nature” An easy tone settled into his voice and he lean ever-so-slightly towards her, Adain, deciding this leaning could only be the result of a past injury troubling his side didn’t comment out of politeness.
“So you’re telling me that that-” she gestured to Lord Mullen who seemed insistent on destroying his tankard by banging it repeatedly on the table
“-is normal day-to-day behaviour?”
“Pretty much, Lord Mullen is a jester, a lord and King Robert all rolled into one” She laughed but quickly regained herself and forced a mock-reprimanding look
“You do realise insulting a king is generally not a wise course of action?” She said with not a hint of seriousness in her tone
“Perhaps, but it’s worth it to hear M’lady laugh” To any but Adain, his husky tone and slightly hooded eyes would have been immediately recognisable as flirting, but alas, it was Adain the flirtation flew soundly over her head
“If you’re sure about that” She replied with a warm but purely friendly smile.”So what’s his record?”
This time it was Adain’s turn to do the bamboozling as her question seemed to reach Robb while his mind was distracted
“Hum?” He replied absentmindedly.
“Why the gallant Lord Mullen of course, I only got up to 20 tankards before I was forced into conversation about tax initiatives” She may not be a dwarf but her voice was defiantly impish
“Well, me and Jon once got to 41 but at that point the ale ran out, it’s a shame too, he looked almost ready to crack and pass out” Robb regained his stride and pressed on
“Jon?” Adain inquired after all she hadn’t met a Jon so far. It may well have been a trick of the light but she thought she saw him stiffen; maybe Jon was his imaginary friend that he was ashamed of having exposed.
Probably She assured herself it was the only possible explanation
“My brother” His tone was light but slightly tense
She didn’t pry. The boy had it bad enough, not only an imaginary friend but an imaginary brother; no wonder he was touchy.
The evening carried on in much the same way, they bantered, he flirted, it flew over her head and he got confused, it was a cycle that repeated in that order. By the time the feast was through they’d discussed everything from Joffrey Baratheon’s bedtime to whether or not Ser Tallhart intended to shape his beard into an upside-down anchor.
Robb Stark (and his hair), was a friendly, if occasionally weird companion. Adain didn’t really have anyone near her age in The Rills so friendship-making was never really a priority, never mind the fact that those she did talk to normally found her a twee-bit odd. So finding a friend the first day of being in Winterfell was lovely indeed…
That said, he did have many odd habits like spontaneous, painless eyebrow cramps that caused his brow to sometimes arch, these cramps were always followed by an accidental batting of the eyelashes reminiscent of a wink. That injury troubling his side got worse as the night went on till he practically in her ear he was so leaned, she choose not to comment though. He also seemed to be somewhat of a anthropology buff as he repeatedly commented on her figure, face or voice. All and all he was one odd fiancé.
But she liked him anyway.
Robb (Lord of Hair) POV
Alone in his chambers, Robb contemplated his day before he slept -something he often did-but not often did it take quite as long as it did today
Completely and unashamedly bizarre was all he could make of his first meeting with his wife-to-be. He’d been expecting a blushing virgin bride all giggles and winks, that was what his father had prepared him for…Instead he’d received a girl so thoroughly indifferent to their impending marriage that he’d started to question if she knew they were getting married…
Did she? It seemed silly but she’d shown no signs that she knew she was about to be married. Perhaps she just had odd reactions; she’d proven immune to his masterful flirtation techniques despite their lack of subtlety.
He’d even used the advanced quirked eyebrow-wink manoeuvre!
However, he had noticed some reaction when he shook his head rigorously; he filed that piece of information away for future use…
Wonder what Qohor is like this time of year…
Alas, she could nought but wonder because all she really knew about the city was that it was somewhere on Essos and they made nice tapestries. In any case, the prospect of being doomed to speculate was one that Adain had grown accustomed to, as anyone does if there mind is too curious.
At the present time –mid spring-, she imagined Qohor was lush with hardy desert flowers and bathed in a seemingly omnipotent sun. Or maybe, it was an oasis of a city that was overflowing with water and built its holding around canals, so in spring the people would be flouting in crops…
Everything from Dornish shoe styles to grass had occupied her mind for the past few days and, though she would be loath to admit it, recent news on her marriage was to blame.
Adain wasn’t as acquainted with reality as most people but, contrary to popular belief, this was more out of choice than natural disposition.
She didn’t want to live in reality…
She didn’t want to face the world…
She didn’t want to think inevitabilities…
Like being a wife and Lady of Winterfell at that, sinking in to daydreams was far more rewarding. Lord and Lady Stark seemed to want to thwart that plan, however, for they’d covertly decided to stall the wedding by a whole year.
To clarify, Adain wasn’t disappointed by the announcement just…unprepared…she’d been unconsciously steeling herself for the wedding, the wedding night and all the children and responsibilities thereafter but the Starks had reduced her into the uncertain mess she’d been two weeks ago.
“On the other hand” She thought aloud to the Godswood “melons are nice”
“More of a pear person myself” Came a voice from behind her, she refused on principle to squeal, as that was what she’d done last week at the feast when he’d surprised her
“Some people might say spying on someone mediating is rude” She observed wistfully
“Aye and I would agree with them” He crouched down to her side by the pond
“And by my honour I was about to leave you to your soul-searching for all this holy but then it turned out to be soul-searching for all thing melon-related” He bantered slipping into the role he’d grown accustomed to in the last week with her
“Still soul-searching, for all you know I could be intrinsically linked with the life force of melons” She replied with mock-pomposity, falling into the banter right behind Robb
“Nah, if your soul-linked with anything I’d say it would be a auburn rabbit” His know-it-all-tone made the words all the more powerful as if he’d discovered some great aspect of her being
Adain gasped “So I’ve been discovered…”
Robb laughed at that “I hardly ’discovered’ anything, you do realise it’s a bit abnormal to slip rabbits into every conversation”
She looked sheepish and mumbled “I don’t mention them in ‘every conversation’ only the important ones”
“Your logic never ceases to amaze me. And as for the ‘auburn’ thing, don’t think I haven’t noticed your eyes straying to my families’ hair at opportunity have you?” The sheepish look returned but she couldn’t help herself for ogling the beard now it had been mentioned
“You’re doing it now.” He said, incredulous
“It is not my fault” She flailed her arms in a semi-explanatory fashion hiding her embracing at being touted for her hairy-crush “It’s just so…so…” No words she could find adequately describe its brilliance “auburn…and the auburn-beard combo should be outlawed” she accused in righteous defence of her obsession
“Why? Can’t you handle it?” The Voice! There it was the low purring tone he sometimes used when talking to her -only to her-. She had multiple theories about ‘The Voice’, her best one so far was that it was a throat sickness that only activated in her presence.
Adain decided to test her theory “Do you like mulberry juice?”
It was bait; she knew for a face that maesters prescribed mulberry juice for sore throat (from personal experience) and she also knew that mulberry juice was a thoroughly vile concoction made to torture more than heal (unfortunately also from hellish personal experience). Therefore, should he answer yes he’d most defiantly no had the drink
Robb, as uncomprehending of the brilliance of the question as she’d planned, looked baffled.
“Yes? Wait…no?” He stuttered “I don’t know I’ve never had it” He exclaimed both confused and frustrated for some reason.
“I see, I see” Perhaps, he hadn’t seen the maester yet? “Do you enjoy the maesters’ knew haircut” If he’d seen the maester recently he would know that no such haircut has occurred. Her diabolical plan was foolproof, Muahahahaha.
“Again, I really wouldn’t know” She would concede that he did look cute when confused with his prominent brow scrunched and his nose slightly wrinkled…
“In any case” Adain proclaimed after she sensed the conversation drawing to a close “My soul searching, be it for melons or myself, is done and-“She cast a glance skyward”the sun tells me I should be learning to knit or some other ‘womanly duty’ right about now” with this she sprung to her feet.
“Good luck with that” He was distracted, and glared into space rather than meeting her eyes when he spoke. Rather than intrudes on his apparent mental argument Adain slipped quietly away through the Godswood.
Robb (Count of keratin) POV
“Theon, help please” Robb said bluntly, never one to needlessly mince words. Robb had found him in the stables about to go for a ride and unceremoniously invited himself to join him
“Oh I am honoured my liege” Theon replied sarcastically “But however can I assist? You’re Robb Stark and greatness follows in your wake.” The Greyjoy paused and impressively wiggled his eyebrows “unless of course it’s in the female department…”
“You’re one to talk! Bet you’ve never slept with a woman you didn’t pay in your life” Robb glowered
“Touchy touchy” Theon sang dropping the servile act “Let me your new fiancé wasn’t as supple to your advances as anticipated? Or maybe you did succeed and your wife-to-be was disappointed with the results”
“Neither” Robb said, his pride talking
“…Okay, possibly the former” He admitted “She’s not rejecting me she’s just the most painfully oblivious girl I’ve ever met”
Theon clapped an sympathetic hand on his shoulder “Hate to tell you this my friend women are never as naïve as they pretend to be”
“Trust me Theon, she doesn’t get it” The womaniser-extraordinaire looked sceptic “She started talking about bloody mulberry juice last time I tried!”
“An act” The Greyjoy chucked “I bet you I could get her going. Besides why do you even care? Gods know you’re gonna be married whether she likes you or not”
“That’s just the point, we’re going to be married I don’t want to end up being in a marriage where the only time we bother to see each other is to make children” Robb refused to admit that he may of slightly found her company more-than-bearable or that the thought of her responding to his advances made his stomach flip
“Doesn’t sound so bad to me…”
Robb groaned in exasperation “Never mind, I just want to know whether I’m the issue or she’s just oblivious”
Theon fell quiet for a moment (a rare thing indeed) before his eyes lit up “I have an idea”
Robbs eyebrow quirked “Let’s hear this then”
“I go over to your little fiancé, work my magic, then after she melts into my arms, I’ll teach you how it’s done” Arrogance thy name is Theon Greyjoy
Jealousy briefly crossed Robb’s eyes before the promise of a challenge consumed it
“Fine but when she misses the point and starts talking about door frames or something don’t say I didn’t warn you” The main reason jealousy wasn’t eating him up at the thought of Theon schmoosing his betrothed was his complete confidence the lady’s man would fail laughably
“You’re on” Challenge danced across his eyes, Theon was constantly trying to prove himself to everyone and anyone who cared challenge him, directed his horse to turn back towards the keep “No time like the present, let’s go find M’lady”
Robb couldn’t say he enjoyed the way he caressed the ‘M’lady’ and briefly wondered if this was really a wise idea…before putting the notion to rest. If she was unaffected and he would bet on all Severn Kingdoms that she would be then there would be no harm done, right?
It took a good hour to locate her -mainly because she was found to be in a long discussion with the tailor of all people- but once they did Theon gestured to Robb to hide alone the side of the house, allowing him to hear but not be seen by Adain
Once Robb was in position Theon strode confidently up to Adain stopping just in front of her blocking her between his body and the tailor’s house
“M’lady” He dipped his head cordially
Adain gave him a small smile and a slight curtsy in return “Lord Greyjoy I believe? It’s nice to finally speak to you”
“Now, now just Theon will suffice, after all, I expect we’ll be close in future” We that he bent down and planted a kiss on her hand.
“That would be nice, the more friends the merrier I always say” She replied, blissfully innocuous. Theon’s brows creased imperceptibly and from his vantage Robb couldn’t help but smirk
“I quite agree but some friends make be merrier than others” If he had to spell it out for her then by Aegon he would!
She cocked her head to the side in confusion
“Let’s just say some make me warmer than others” He made his eyes smoulder in a way known to make women go crazy
“Well I suppose that is useful in Winterfell…” Her expression was thoughtful and for a second Theon thought he might of succeeded “-personally I’ve be trying to find a cubby person to be friends with, they make for warmer hugs you see” Theon’s jaw went slack
Meanwhile, the young lord Stark was barely containing his laughter
“Let me put it this way you make me warm and I assure you, your body is physical perfection” Theon pressed on becoming increasingly less subtle
“Really? That’s surprising, Gods know I should get out of the house more-“She paused and her eyes widened in something akin to realisation, Theon felt his heart leap in triumph before he was cruelly crushed by her next words
“Are you ill? Oh no, this is terrible, I probably kept you outside in this frigid air haven’t I? I’ll go get the maester immediately!” With great urgency she rushed off to towards the keep with Theon helpless to stop her
The sound of poorly contained laughter reverberated around him and with great reluctance Theon poked his head around the side of the house. Robb was holding his sides as he laughed at the spectacle
“Yeah, yeah laugh it up you’re the one with the idiot for a betrothed” He spat bitterly with a deep pout
“Your just angry your ‘charms’ failed you and you better come up with a story because she’s going to come back with a baffled maester any minute now” Robb had managed to stop laughing but this point though a smirk seemed etched onto his face “and she isn’t an idiot about most things just anything remotely romantic” Robb felt the need to defend Adain’s dopiness, of course because it wouldn’t reflect well on him to have a stupid wife…
“Or maybe she has interests of…another…persuasion” the implication was not lost on Robb and his head shot up in alertness
“Wha?” Robb was successfully stumped by the idea
“Come on Robb; think about it, any woman who isn’t ‘aware’ of the two of us just ain’t normal” This idea seemed to suit Theon quite well as it appeared to salvage his manly pride
Robb despite his iron pride and manly constitution couldn’t stop of mental image of Adain and Ros from forming in his head, and what an image it was
As if reading his mind Theon cut in “How about on my next trip to the brothel I take your little fiancé with and see if someone doesn’t catch her eye” The sheer amount of eyebrow wigging going on was preposterous
“No fucking wa-“ Robb started
“Theon!” They both turned around to see Adain coming towards them pulling a reluctant maester in tow
It was this sight that clenched it for Robb, lesbian or no, he had to know
“Let’s do it then” He gravely whispered, he could practically feel Greyjoy smirk in triumph, but he refused to think about the fact he was sending the niece of one of the now-richest men in Westeros, a lady and his future-wife into a whore-house.
How can one so fat run so fast?
“Marlin, please, I just want to hug youuuuu-“Adain wailed, spurring her chubby query to run faster
Now to say the a chase of plump boy by an overly-affectionate girl through the busy market of Winterfell just raised eyebrows was inaccurate…
It raised the eyebrows, eyes and then finally the head of almost everyone the convoy of two ran past.
The spawning of the pursuit came when Adain admitted to herself that Winterfell was colder than her home, at this she realised the only solution to her chilly dilemma was to find a nice round friend to hug…
Marlin, a bakers’ son of no more than 12 had been out and about, enjoying the fresh air and blue sky when a monster appeared; the girly, cold and over-energetic kind
“Hug me; I beg you, hug me!” The monster roared
Poor’O Marlin did what any confused and not-particularly-brave 12 year-old would do at this point
He ran like hell