Days past and mile upon mile of worn road fell beneath her carriage. Save for the guards and servants, she was alone. Uncle Willem was too busy with business, her mother was too batty to be seen in public and Madge, her little sister, was still recovering from a broken arm
Madge was always getting scraps and bruises; she’d race the village boys through the pier or along the scraggy shoreline. Adain gave up trying to stop her long ago and saved it for when she tried to anything truly stupid, like going cliff diving. Madge enjoyed dresses and singing as much as the next girl, she just didn’t see why she couldn’t do both. Adain had never been like that; she didn’t care for roughhousing or being ladylike as long as she was left alone to her books and pencils.
Drawing was the ultimate escape, if she couldn’t ever visit the gilded streets of Qarth…why not at least sketch them? She’d paw over books and traveller’s tales she heard in the inn then try to bring them to life. Sometimes, if she were particularly proud of a drawing, she’d spend hours painting it in. Adain couldn’t wait to draw Winterfell to add to her crude drawings of southron castles as a child. Sometimes though, she’d forsake grand cities and strongholds and instead just sit beneath the gnarled trees of the Godswood and sketch the raw beauty of the Northern landscape
The North was a wild land; you could march from Wall to Trident and never meet another’s eyes. The trees grew tall, the grasses hardy and every bush and bramble had primed thorns. To a visitor, it was difficult not to pity any poor soul doomed to live in a place so foreboding. But to Adain, any land less rough seemed servile.
The Reach was picturesque with gentle streams, prim hedgerows and wheat fields that shone as gold as the hair on a Lannister head. But it was all too easy to see man’s presence on the land, at least for her tastes. The land was craved up into patchwork fields and people could be seen practically everywhere, bustling like a flock of birds. It was as if all that was wild about the Reach only existed because man gave it leave to. The North, by contrast, seemed to reveal in its defiance to anyone or anything that sought to control it.
She’d been in the South with her uncle as he squirreled away making trade deals. The Rills, the home of House Ryswell, were the richest lands in the North due to the silver that laced the hills. They couldn’t compare to the wealth of the Lannisters or Hightowers but were still one of the richest Houses in the realm and her uncle intended to fill the family vault yet further. Adain didn’t pay undue attention to her him or the leagues of nobles he introduced her to.
She was far more interested in the scenery; the castles were stunning to see. The way the stone rose out of the land and challenged any passer-by not to gawk at its own particular brand of magnificence. The bleached walls of Highgarden encircled its elegant towers reminded Adain of reading dusty fairy tales as a child. Casterly Rock, by contrast, didn’t try to be scenic just intimidating. Everything from the jagged way it jut out of the mountain to the whispers you’d hear of gruesome dungeons was a warning; ‘Attack and you die. Slowly’
She’d made a promise to herself after the trip had ended; by the time she was old and decrepit she’d see every great stronghold in Westeros. In hindsight, it was a silly promise; she was a highborn and thus expected to sit in a keep birthing and raising children for most of her adult life. Still, years later and the promise still had some sway with Adain, Northern honour and curiosity demanded it.
One way or another she’d see it all from Pyke to Sunspear.
And so she dreamed and plotted, as vast tracks of Northern landscape passed her carriage by. Her uncle was sending her off to Winterfell; to wed her to the Stark heir. Oddly enough, she was more excited to see the castle than nervous to see her betrothed.
She had no real worries for her impending marriage; everything was predictable. She’d be greeted cordially by the Starks, spend a few months in Winterfell; waiting for her first blood, shed her House cloak and sleep with the Stark boy. Whether Robb Stark was fond of her was irrelevant, they’d wed anyway. Maybe, if she were to marry a Bolton or a Frey there would be cause for concern but a Stark would never mistreat their intended; it was too dishonourable for them. At worst, he’d ignore her when not carrying out his duty and discreetly slip away to whores from time to time.
Nothing she couldn’t handle.
Powerful, daunting, old Winterfell had to be one of the most characterful castles she’d ever seen. 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. It was like Winterfell just was, it didn’t try to make a statement like all the other castles she’d visited, just sat and watched as eons flew by around it.
She was still recovering from her awe when her carriage ground to a halt. A servant flung the door open and Adain stepped out as gracefully as she was able. The courtyard was packed with people, all jostling to see the next Lady of Winterfell. She felt like some exotic beast brought from the East for display but she figured it was only natural for them to be curious.
There in front of her were seven sets of Stark eyes; blue and grey and swirling with anticipation.
“My Lord Stark” She curtsied low, careful to do exactly as she seen Southron ladies’ do from time to time. She noticed Lady Stark look pleased at the observance of etiquette
Lord Stark gestured for her to stand “Lady Ryswell, welcome to Winterfell” he was stern looking, long faced, dark haired and broad shouldered. He had a reserved smile across his face, to appear less intimidating, she guessed.
“You have a lovely home” That much was certainly true “my uncle sends his regrets he couldn’t come himself” I murmured apologetically
“It is no trouble My Lady, Lord Willem is infamous for being forever busy” Replied Lady Stark cordially but I was aware by uncle not being present was mildly impolite
Out of the corner of her eye, she spied Lord Stark not so discretely nudging his eldest son forward. That’s him, she thought, Robb Stark in the flesh.
He wasn’t what she’d been expecting, that isn’t saying much though, considering she avoided imagining any aspect of her impending marriage. He was tall with unruly red curls and a nervous smile that seemed out of place on his strong Stark features. She decided he was handsome, dashing even, and clearly didn’t know what to make of her or this whole situation
He found his voice however “My Lady” With that he dipped his head “It is a pleasure to meet you”
Lady Stark distantly nodded in approval while Adain decided she could do a lot worse in a husband
Adain was numb to the entire world as she smudged and shaded the paper in her sketchbook, slowly moulding the line to produce Winterfell on the page. She’d done many drawings of the castle since she arrived a week ago but this one was shaping up to be the best yet. They’d had a flurry of summer snow recently, the mains of which were still clinging to the battlements. The patches of white accented the blacks and greys of the stonework; it was even enough to tempt her out of the gates and onto a grassy knoll nearby. So engrossed was she that the muted sound of footsteps were lost on her.
“You’re a very skilled artist” Adain jumped and let out a loud squeak, before turning to her observer; her fiancé. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you” The apologetic look was too overshadowed by amusement to have the desired effect.
“I was just…uh…expressing my joy at the complement” Adain winced, both at the squeak and the really bad lie. Robb sat down close to her, his legs spreading out across the grass. It was weirdly nerve-wracking, as pathetic as it sounded she’d never been alone with a boy like this before.
Robb laughed, not unkindly, before gesturing to her page “I mean it though, I’ve seen Winterfell drawn lots of times but yours is the first not to just make it look gloomy”
“That’s high praise coming from someone born and raised here” Adain wasn’t used to complements, at least sincere ones, and was trying very hard not to blush. This was the first real conversation she’d had with Robb Stark, for a whole week they’d just made painfully polite small-talk and subtly skirted around each other. It was a nervous waltz of ‘I’m trying to see if you’re an all right person while not looking stupid’.
He seemed nice though; there was straightforwardness about him that she liked; you know if Robb Stark dislikes you, you know if Robb Stark is happy and you know if Robb Stark is offended. He nothing like the flattering nobles she’d met in the South, with all their plots, posturing and pomposity.
“How’d you know where I was anyway?”
It was his turn to feel awkward “I just guessed, you did say you wanted to draw the castle”.
She raised a brow. He averted his eyes. There was a long moment
“Fine, you caught me, I asked a stable boy if he’d seen you and he pointed this way” He relented
“Hodor? I didn’t see him, I bet he’s more sneaky than he lets on” She spoke conspiratorially. Robb laughed at the idea, ‘Hodor’ and ‘sneaky’ were two words utterly unfamiliar with each other. He had a nice laugh, Adain noted; deep and friendly. All of the sudden, she didn’t feel nervous or shy anymore, just comfortable.
“Why were you looking for me anyway?”
Robb shrugged, he seemed more relaxed now too “I figured you might want the company”
“You did or Lady Stark did?” He looked slightly surprised; she continued “Don’t think I can’t hear her whispering at you during dinner. Thank you, by the way, for not following all her advice, I think I’d explode from embarrassment”
Robb seemed disconcerted but nodded sympathetically anyway “Same, last Wednesday she even told me to recite poetry…” There was a long silence as the horror of that scenario washed over both of them
“You ever do that and I swear I’ll make you the largest daisy chain you’ve ever seen and she’ll make you wear it all day”
A spark of challenge lit in his eyes “Then next time I go hunting I’ll give you a boar hide in front of the whole castle”
“Hah, I’ll tell all the maids you act like a lovesick puppy, you’d be teased for weeks”
Robb groaned, “Not weeks, years, for that I’d so let Theon loose on you”
“Theon? What would he do?” She’d hardly seen the Greyjoy outside of mealtimes where he and Jon sat at the very end of the table
“Flirt mercilessly. I swear he knows more lines than there are women in the North”
“I’m sure there I could deal with it” That was a lie, she had zero experience when it came to men.
“They’re really bad pick-up lines, he thinks he’s subtle but I can promise you that’s not true”
The banter continued for until Adain was threatening write a declare her dying love for Robb via letter to every bannermen in the North
Robb scoffed “That would be worse for you than me, how about a truce?” He glanced at the sky “I’m hungry and Mother’s probably looking for us” He stood up and pulled her to her feet as they set off back to the castle.
It was odd; of all the things she expected from her fiancé, friendship was not one of them.
Northmen, as a rule, were not fans of festivities and the North had lacked the many public holidays that decorated the Southron calendar except for one event so prestigious that entire weeks were consumed in the preparation.
During the week of Brewfest it was an unspoken law that each Northman must get as drunk as possible as often as possible, then try to dance afterward. Of course, like everything in the North, it was steeped in history and tradition with specific events and songs that has been redone at Brewfest’s for millennia but only a liar or a fool would claim that was the main allure.
This would be her first ever Brewfest away from home, the thought shoot her with crippling homesickness. Her Mother was a foreigner and too out of it to enjoy the holiday anyway. Uncle Willam was hardly any better, he was too concerned with his appearance too Southron lords to engage in the ‘barbaric’ holiday. Her and Madge would go to the only tavern in their small town and get lost in the revelry
This year there was a big feast being held at Winterfell, all Northern bannermen within traveling distance would be there. It was also an opportunity for them to get to know their liege lord, many men just didn’t feel right pledging loyalty to a man they’d never had a drink with. Adain had gotten trussed up in her Brewfest finest, something washable, and not-too-expensive but still attractive.
“My, my, you have your father’s look” Lady Stark informed her as she was stewarded towards the main hall where a feast was apparently being prepared.
“That’s nice to hear, Lady Stark” Adain gave her smile, she had never met her father but people often commented on the resemblance
His portraits decorated her home in corpus amounts thanks to her grieving mother. For a while, you couldn’t lean on the walls without blaspheming on his memory but Uncle William eventually put his slender foot down and reined Mother in
Adain got most her features, including dark brown hair and green eyes, from her father and her perpetually doe-like wide eye shape from her mother. Apparently her stare was unfocused and glassy but that was probably more due to her than her looks.
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 evening’s highlight 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 counted the tankards of beer, constantly checking for signs of inebriation.
Number 18: slight word slurring, 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, this time, however, she knew better than to squawk. Robb Stark in all his redheaded glory was suddenly settled down beside her on the long wooden benches flanking the table.
“If you’re referring to Kings’ Landings newest tax collection initiatives then yes I concur,” She said nonchalantly,
Robb seemed bemused “Your really weird to talk to sometimes, you know that?” Adain just shrugged “But one thing’s for sure, neither you nor I will never see Lord Mullen smashed”
“I doubt that’s even physically possible, he has to get drunk eventually”
“Maybe that’s true for most people but Lord Mullen’s never been normal”
“So you’re telling me 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, I think he has a grudge against the world”
Just then Brewmaiden walked past, sent them a reproachful glare and shoved a flagon of mead in each of their hands before marched on to assist more in the proper celebration of the holiday
Adain looked contemplatively at the drink in her hands “I bet I could finish this before you could”
Robb snorted but she knew he’d take the challenge; he could be passionately competitive sometimes.
“I can’t agree to that! It’d be way too easy, no honour in winning an easy competition”
“If you win I’ll convince your mother to let the wolf pups near the table when we sup” Truthfully, she’d try either way, the pups were hilarious and so adorable it was hard to believe what they’d grow into. She’d gotten over her jealousy fairly quickly after she realised how personal each pup was to the Starks. Besides she had her fair share of horses, her house signal, back at The Rills too.
“And if you win?”
“You promise to get Grey Wind to stop growling at me” Her and Robb’s wolf developed a love-hate relationship over the two weeks since he’d been here. He’d consent to the occasional stroke but make a sudden movement or monopolise Robb too much and he got all yippy
Robb rolled his eyes “He’s better with you most people but fine, you’re on”
With that they raised their tankards “On the count of three, one, two, three…go!” And with that they took off, both Robb and Adain checking each other out of the their eyes. In the beginning, Robb had the advantage but soon he started coughing and semi-choking and she raced ahead; technique honed by years of tavern Brewfests’ playing in her favour. Finally, Adain downed the last gulp and triumphantly smashed her tankard on the table.
Robb finished a few moments later and she couldn’t help the smug grin, a small crowd had of people had turned to watched the impromptu contest and cheered at the quintessentially Brewfest achievement. She tidied herself up again, patting down her hair and wiping mead from her lips
“You win, you win” Robb surrendered grudgingly, “I’ll try to get Grey Wind as nice as Lady to you from now on”
They continued to chit-chat until Adain started to notice his attention was grabbed by something to her left, subtly following his gaze, she saw Theon making frantic hand movements and mouthing gods-know-what. Afterwards, Robb started to act weird
“You know, your drawings could be twice as pretty if you drew yourself instead of the castle” His stare was intense and sent her grasping for hidden meaning behind his words. His words sounded oddly hollow, as if he was reciting them from memory
“I thought you liked what I did of Winterfell?” He seemed sincere when he said it but maybe not…
“Uh…that’s not what I meant…um, your eyes are like sapphires-“
“-Robb my eyes are green-”
“-Emeralds then and they sparkle in the sunlight,” Again everything sounded recited
“I think you’re drunk, Robb, besides are sparkling eyes a good thing? They sound bizarre to me but emeralds are supposed to be nice I guess” she shrugged, Robb looked put-out by this and glanced repeatedly at Theon
“You know, you can go talk to him if you like, I’ll survive”
The whorehouse was hardly a befitting venue for the future lady of Winterfell and Adain knew that but it was a peculiarly pretty building nonetheless. It was built for comfort and warm, the thick thatch roof dotted with chimneys attested to that. Long logs criss-crossed the side of the building; the wood dark and mottled with age, contrasting with the otherwise white walls of the building. Really the building was wasted on it’s patrons but not Adain.
She was determined to find the perfect angle to sketch it. Of course, the closely packed buildings of the lower town and need for secrecy made that difficult. Currently she was perched awkwardly on a half crumbling outpost wall in the entrance to a narrow alley between two buildings. Her cloak tightly shrouded her body with the hood pulled down as she bent over her sketchbook. In hindsight, a mysterious looking person carefully observing a whorehouse from a dark alleyway was not the most low-key disguise. She’d just started on the detailing on the roof when a familiar voice floated past.
“Why is it so difficult? She’s not ugly, hell, I’d love those lips wrapped arou-“
“-Theon, that’s not helping” She dared a peak around the lip of the alleyway; ward and heir of Winterfell were strolling past with Jon in toe. Robb looked troubled, Jon looked thoughtful and Theon just looked amused, although Theon always looked amused so that wasn’t saying much. By their side Ghost and Grey Wind trod loyalty taking nips at each other as they went.
“He does have a point Robb, as weird as that is, she’d pretty enough and not bad company. That’s more than most heirs get, what’s the problem?” Jon puzzled; she always liked Jon
“That’s the problem! She’s like a friend, you know? I can’t imagine actually being married to her, it’s like she’s a guy”
“A guy with tits and a tight little cunt” Adain flushed violently
Robb winced then glared at Theon “What am I thinking? Anything female is fair game to you” Then back to both of them “I know she is a girl alright she just doesn’t seem like one”
Jon nodded; trying to be sympathetic, “If it really bothers you, you can try asking your parents to break off the engagement” Before Adain could really process that Robb cut back in, looking pained.
“No, no, its not that bad besides what would I say? ‘Sorry Father, I really like the girl you found I just can’t imagine fucking her?’”
“Then you’re stuck with the bird, just suck it in and act lovey for Lady Stark” Theon and his way with words
Robb hung his head and they trod on.
Adain was still as she processed the conversation. Surprisingly enough, under the embarrassment she mainly felt relieved; she’d never bothered to properly examine how she felt for the young Stark beyond ‘he isn’t a bad guy’. But, really, she didn’t like him romantically either. She didn’t get the butterfly feeling in her stomach the poets wrote about, especially after that first week, and she didn’t want to kiss him or anything either. Anyway, she still wanted to marry him, he was the best company she’d ever found in a highborn, and maybe they could talk about it later?
She also felt a rush of fondness for Jon; he was a rare combination of thoroughly nice and sensible. The kind of guy you knew you could trust. And he called her pretty, her feminine vanity insisted, well ‘pretty enough’. She’d make more of an effort to talk to him, maybe invite him along with her and Robb.
She approached him after dinner, pulling him away from Theon and Jon.
“What’s so urgent?”
“I needed to talk to you in private and gods know when Jon and Theon were planning on leaving you alone” He looked expectant “I heard you with Theon and Jon earlier, outside the whorehouse”
It was quite interesting, watching his face morph as he took in what she said, his brow furrowed, then his eyes widened and mouth fell open in a gape, finally, his eyes resolved and he got defensive “Why were you there? Doing a little work on the side”
Adain knew better than to get offended “C’mon Robb seriously? I’d be the worst whore ever; I’m about as seductive as a dying Elk” He cracked a smile at that “I was drawing the building, I swear, after the castle itself it’s the prettiest building in Winterfell. The hay thatching goes amazing wit-“ She caught herself “this is really off-topic. I just want to know I heard what you said an-“
“-Sorry Adain, you weren’t supposed to hear that, I’m just not entirely sure I like you like that yet-“ He mumbled and she decided to put him out of his misery
“-Yeah, I agree I don’t feel that way about you either” Robb seemed to freeze at what she said and instead of relieved he looked at little…perturbed? Sad? Hurt? It was too vague for her to put a finger on
“We could call the whole thing off if you like, my parents would understand” He was very tense
“No!” She exclaimed startling him a bit “Robb out of all the people my Uncle has proposed to me you are by far my favourite. I get it though, if there’s somebody else…”
“No there’s no one else” He had relaxed considerably although he still looked a little off
Adain pulled him into a hug “Thanks Robb, there’s seriously no one else in the world I would rather marry-“ He smiled at that and looked about to say something “-Being best friends with my husband is a dream come true” Unnoticed by her his smile dropped
There was a heavy silence before Adain scampered off, leaving Robb shocked in her wake.
The wedding was scheduled for a few days before the royal party departed and Mother, Madge and Uncle Willem were already on their way. Adain was apprehensive about the wedding, as most bride-to-be’s are but she was mainly worried about her mother. She’d be in Winterfell; with Robb, the Starks and, worst of all, the royal family.
Adain’s mother, Adishi Ryswell, had lived a very eccentric life, even without the madness. She was born to a Lyseni Trade prince, Ralum Aeris, and even as a child she didn’t fit in. Adishi laughed at things no one else found funny, she walked off in the middle of conversations and would spend hours organising everything and anything. At first, people just assumed she was stupid but then she developed an almost obsessive interest in ships; their structure, their construction, everything.
The Lyseni respected ships and shipwrights and she was soon categorised as just ‘unsociable’. Adain’s grandfather was overjoyed but she was too lost in a world of masts and sails to pay the development much notice. One day, however, a visitor arrived in Lys who she did notice, Byron Ryswell her father.
Apparently Mother was the first person her Father met in Lys. He literally stepped on her as he got off the boat; she was too distracted by the design of his ‘foreign’ ship. Despite the odd introduction, language barrier and her mother’s mind, her parents fell in love. She remembers her father saying that you could see all there was to see and meet all there were to meet and still find Adishi one of a kind.
Her mother was equally taken with him. She always had difficulty-understanding people; why they said what they said, why they got offended random things, why she couldn’t make friends. But her father was ‘special’; he took her innocuous rudeness in his stride. Within a month they had married, with her grandfathers none the wiser. Ralum was overjoyed, he had long given up hope of finding a highborn match for Adishi but her father’s father was furious. He demanded the couple be separated and, after untold back room dealings, Adishi was sent to King’s Landing to serve as the Queen’s handmaiden while Byron ‘rethought’ the marriage.
That’s how, a few months later, Adishi found herself stranded on Dragonstone, in the midst of a storm, trying to help her Lady birth the second-last Targaryen. The events of the rebellion had driven her madness to new heights and she still got jitters during storms. It was only her father, now Lord Ryswell, which stopped Mother being beheaded along with the other Targaryen loyalists, when Stannis Baratheon finally arrived at Dragonstone. The Ryswells had proven staunch supporters of Robert’s cause and fact that saved Mother’s life; Father argued she was too unhinged to be responsible for her actions.
Still, Adain remembered her being a good mother when she was young. She was raised thinking her mother was normal and everyone else was odd, only later did she rethink this. Sometimes her Mother would take her down to the docks and spend hours telling her about all the ships. Adain vaguely remembered falling asleep to the sound of her voice.
Then Father died in the Greyjoy Rebellion and everything changed. It was as if the last strands keeping Mother lucid had been cut. She took Adain into her room and started chanting ‘Byron, Byron’ over and over into her hair, a hysterical prayer. Eventually Uncle Willem and the maids forced open the door, Adain could still remember the screaming as she was torn from her frantic mother’s arms.
Two months later, Madge was born. The midwife decided against placing her in Adishi’s arms. It was sad, she thought, to be just born and already an orphan.
She was terrified of how Mother would react to King Robert, she still thought of him as a usurper and the one that murdered her Queen, fact and reality had become mixed. The King was probably none too fond of her either; gods knew he still kept the Tyrells at a distance.
House Ryswell took pride in their horses, it had been their sigal long before the silver had been found or the port had been established. Apparently some ancient female ancestor of hers founded the house with a horseman during the Age of Heroes, opinion was divided on whether the man was a avid rider or half-man-half-horse like some bards told.
All this was why the horses ridden by her Uncle and pulling Mothers carriage made the greeting parties’ eyes goggle. They were the biggest horses most in attendance had ever seen, a good 6ft at the shoulder. King Robert openly admired her uncle’s stallion, Adain imagined that, to him, bigger was inherently better. The Queen and her brood hadn’t bothered to stand in the square of her families’ arrival; apparently a vessel house like hers was too lowly for the courtesy. In her defence, they probably were, the King just made an extra effort when it came to Lord Stark.
Uncle Willem dismounted clumsily; bracing his knees as he dropped from the saddle although on a horse that big it was hard not to. He was an unimpressive looking man, at least in frame, but his perpetually smiling faced and ever-charming way with words made most forget that.
“My King, Lord Stark, it is an honour to be in your presence” He said formally bowing low to the ground. The King disinterestedly gestured for him to stand and gave him a firm handshake. My Uncle was barely a man when the Rebellion started but rushed to Lord Starks call like all the other Northern bannermen. The King, a solder rather than a leader, decided that earned him respect (although Adain imagined Uncle Willem avoided the fighting as much as humanly possible).
Uncle Willem’s wife, her aunt, Lady Morgana, emerged from the carriage. Morgana was a pleasant enough woman; she was never openly unkind to her or Madge. But Adain knew she resented them a little, her own marriage had yet proven childless as a result he acted even more distant than Uncle Willem did, so Adain couldn’t claim to know the woman very well. Morgana repeated her husband’s courtesies, a little star-stuck by the King.
There was then a tense silence and the whole square looked expectantly at the carriage; Adains mother had yet to appear. Uncle Willem and Lady Morgana shared a worried look and Adain prayed to the Gods that Mother wouldn’t cause a scene, not already. Finally, Madge hopped out pulling out blank-faced Lady Ryswell.
Madge walked primly up to the King and gave a perfect curtsy “Your Grace, My Lord” She said in her singsong voice.
At that moment Uncle Wllem, Lady Morgana and Adain all thought the same thing ‘thank god for Madge’. Her sister was looked and acted perfectly endearing; with her blond Lyseni hair and bright hazel eyes. Madge was a clever girl; she knew to be as polite as possible to ease the sting of Mothers inevitable disrespect.
Mother was everything they’d feared. After the King gave Madge a gruff nod, with a small smile as well, he turned expectantly to Mother.
She just stared at him; the doe-like Adain inherited inspecting him with dazed curiosity. She didn’t bow, curtsy or even offer a ‘My Liege’. Adain realised this was the first time she’d actually seen the King and grudgingly acknowledged her reaction could have been worse.
The whole crowd looked scandalised until an unfazed King Robert just waved them off and started talking to Uncle Willem again. Thank gods Queen Cersei wasn’t here; she’d throw a hissy fit at the disrespect.
As the onlookers dispersed and the party moved back to the castle, Adain went to greet her family from her place beside the Starks.
“Lady Morgana” She acknowledged with a small curtsy that her aunt returned before turning to catch up with her husband and the King.
“Hello Mother, was the trip here unpleasant?”
Adishi replied by bringing up her hand to stroke Adain’s hair, something she was used to. Ever since Father died, Mother loved stroking her hair. On her ‘good days’ she was brush Adain’s hair while she read before bed.
Madge pulled at her dress “Where’s my hug?”
“Why aren’t you needy” She mocked before sweeping up her sister into an embrace. Madge was heavier than she remembered and Adain grunted slightly at the effort “Someone’s gotten fat”
“I have not! I bet you’re just more weedy”
“You’re a denial”
“That doesn’t even make sense”
“You don’t make sense”
“I give up, I missed you” Adain mock-surrendered and Madge grinned in reply, pleased with herself. He heard a laugh behind her; Robb must have been watching the exchange.
Lady Stark approached from behind smiling at Madge “It’s a pleasure to meet you, I’m Lady Catelyn Stark” The last part was addressed to her mother as well “Did you enjoy your journey?” She inquired politely to Mother but you could tell she was weary about talking to her
Lady Stark was taken aback but tried to smile through it anyway. “How unfortunate…” That awkward silence descended like it always did when strangers met Adishi Ryswell.
Adain cut in “-I’m sure Mother is just tired, Lady Stark, perhaps a servant could escort her to her rooms?”
Lady Stark smiled at her gratefully for the interruption “Yes, of course” A young serving girl appeared and gently took her Mother away.
“I expect Mother will want to stay in her rooms while she’s here Lady Stark” You could tell the woman tried not to look relieved but it was obvious.
That day was her best in weeks, Adain hadn’t realised how much she missed Madge. The way everybody found something to relate to in her personality was amazing; Sansa liked her politeness, Arya liked her cheek but oddly enough Bran was the one she got on best with, she imagined Sansa and Arya were too old for Madge. She was so engrossed with her new friend that it was nearly dinner by the time she skipped over
“Heeellloo, me and Bran were talking and he said you’re weird sometimes, so I told him his face was weird then he told me my everything was weird so I said his everything and his puppy was weird, he got annoyed so I decided to find you” She spoke so quickly it was hard to make out what she was saying but Adain gathered Madge insulted Bran’s unnamed wolf at some point.
“You shouldn’t tease the Starks about their wolves” Adain warned
“Because one day those ‘puppys’ will be big enough to swallow you whole” She made an exaggerated snapping motion and Madge’s eyes widened
“Really? That’s soooo great, can I get one?”
“You’re supposed to be terrified”
“Nah, cause I can swim and-“ She noticed something over my shoulder, I turned following her eyes “-that’s Robb Stark right? That guy you’re marrying?”
Adain nodded “Do you want to meet him?”
Her little sister looked at Robb wearily “Is he nice?” Adain nodded “Do I have to curtsy and stuff?” Madge wrinkled her nose
“Not really, Lady Stark and Uncle Willem aren’t around”
They were Robb was across the hall, bantering with Jon and Theon as always as they waited to be called to dinner. It was decided that the Starks and Ryswells, minus Mother, should eat together if they were going to be family soon
Both of them approached the trio
“My lords” She greeted, she tried to be more proper when around Theon and Jon “You haven’t met my sister yet, Madge, this is Robb, Jon and Theon”
“Hello, you have a really ni-“Madge got distracted, she did that a lot, she was staring openly at Ghost, who was standing uninterestedly by his master’s legs “Why is he white? And why does he have red eyes?”
Jon laughed, “Ghost’s an albino, it’s normal”
“Does he see in red all the time?”
Adain answered that one “If I don’t see in green and you don’t see in yellow, why would Ghost see in red?”
Madge shrugged “I don’t know and my eyes are hazel not yellow, the Maester Rowin said so” She turned to Theon “Lord Theon? I’m a horse and I’ve got a horse and those two” She pointed to Jon and Robb “are wolves and they have wolves, apparently you’re a squid, you have pet squid right? Where is he?
It took Theon a while to piece together what she meant, “I’m a kraken not a squid,” He said indignantly
“Where’s your kraken then?”
“Don’t be silly Madge, I heard a sailor once say krakens are so big they can sink a fishing boat with a single tentacle”
The 7-year-old looked annoyed “I want to change my animal-thing, everyone else’s’ is so amazing…I know! My one can be Hodor!”
Just Hodor as a coat-of-arms…All four of them laughed
“You can’t have a specific person as a sigal or as a pet” Robb explained through his chortles
“Says who? Maester Rowan says it’s not a rule unless the King says so”
“The King does say so, you aren’t allowed to own a person” The young Stark countered
“Fine then! I’ll have a dragon as my ‘siggel’, they’re scary!”
“That one’s taken” Sniggered Theon
Madge pouted “Fine then, I’m leaving, Bran will know a good ‘siggel’ animal” With that she scampered off.