Jewel Of The North
Her hand touched his.
Her warmth fusing with his cold, like fresh-forged steel being dipped into chilled water. He smiled at her as he helped draw her from the carriage she had come so accustomed to. Rodrick Stark’s smile was her favourite thing about him. It was far from glistening white, and his breath was not often the most flowered but … she loved that smile. The smile also carried with it words. Words she had been so desperately longing to hear. They had finally arrived at Summerhall.
“Oh. They eagerly await us, do they?” She said,
Leaving the carriage.
The bright grey sunlight was a smack to her sight. The air was cool, but bitter. Her nostrils were ravaged on all sides by the stench of horses and sweat … combined with the smell of nature. The fallen leaves and the dew of the forest. The mud and the shit and the recently set-up campfires. Rodrick helped her down from her comfort.
Her heeled boots landing softly in thick wet muck. She rolled her eyes, “I’ll stretch my legs, my love. As long as said stretching is on hard rock or tile.”
She looked down.
The ends of her dress were soiled slightly. The green and silver of the fabric had now been painted with splashes of disgusting brown.
“This is …”
She stopped herself, looking up at her husband. The hand she owned - the one not still holding his - found itself cupping his cheek. The hairs of his beard brushing against her skin. She used her thumb to caress his scarred eye.
In case the thing somehow still hurt the man. “You think we’d cause a scandal if you simply … carried me in your arms into Summerhall” She made jest, while she still touched his face. She let out a light giggle. Oh,
How she would love for him to do such a thing.
This trip meant business. There was no time to be loving and to be affectionate. Not when The Iron Throne laid bare and a king had to be chosen.
Her hand slid from his cheek, sliding against the bristles of hair on his face. She smiled warmly at him before saying, “Don’t forget our dear daughter. She’s terrified.” Sybell let go of his hand and touched the edges of her dress … lifting it up slightly.
She’d be damned if she got one more little splotch of mud on her gown. Damned. She began walking or more so trudging towards the castle and the camps and the rest of their retinue they’d brought with them. She looked back briefly to see Rodrick lifting their youngest daughter out of the carriage. Cerelle.
Named for Sybell’s mother who had passed a year before the girl’s birth. Cerelle was soon celebrating her ninth nameday. They always grew up equally too fast and not fast enough. When Rodrick put the girl down onto the ground,
Jogging towards Sybell and clutching the back of her gown. “Cerelle, whatever is the matter?” Sybell asked as she faced down at the little girl.
She was a shy one.
Sybell was shy too when she was a girl. Green and unknowing. An unripe fruit. Those days were long gone and ... long lost. She had lived through a civil war, and through an invasion upon her and her husband’s lands. She was no longer green.
She was a woman.
Sybell let go of the sides of her gown and bent down so that she and her daughter were at eye level. The dress - very ungracefully - plopped back down into the dirt. Into the mud. She wanted to scream in anguish or let loose a defeated groan, but she couldn’t.
Her daughter needed her.
“I told you, my sweet.” Sybell Stark started, “There is nothing to be afraid of and nothing to worry over. We are far from home, yes … but … we are safe. Aren’t we the safest we’ve ever been?” She looked up at Rodrick, who watched the two.
His youngest daughter.
“Your father will protect you. His men will protect you. Your brothers and your sister and … me. We will all keep you away from harm, sweetling. Do not fret.”
Sybell planted a faint kiss upon the girl’s forehead.
“Keep your chin up and smile.” Sybell’s fingers found themselves at the child’s arms, tickling. Cerelle entered a sudden fit of giggling.
“Stop it, mother!”
She cried through the laughter.
Sybell stopped and then smiled at her baby girl, before she rose from her stance. She patted Cerelle’s head and the girl began walking with the pride of any Stark. Of any wolf. Big or small. She watched as the girl triumphed.
A conquerer of fear.
“I hope Brandon and Erena did not have … similar reactions to being in the south.” Sybell laughed, dryly.
Looking at Rodrick. She placed her hand against his bicep,
“Come. Show them your jewel, my lovely lord.”