2 Try To Forget
When I got back to my room that night there was a tiny black ribbon tied around my new rose scented perfume bottle, it was me and Jon's sign to meet in the woods. My handmaidens helped me undress and get into my sleeping clothes. I waited till I was sure everyone was gone before I snuck out to meet him. He was in our spot under the thick coverage of the trees. I could barely see him in the dark and I was beginning to wish I had brought a candle.
"There you are," he said turning to face me. His eyes looked sad and the smile he gave me was barely there.
"What's wrong?" I asked him. I noticed he was still wearing his clothes from earlier that day. "Haven't you gotten changed yet?"
"I've been packing." Something sounded off about his voice. It was hollow like someone had carved out all his feeling.
"Packing? Are you going somewhere?" He was quiet and I bounced on my heels getting more and more anxious. "Jon, what's going on?"
"I'm leaving Winterfell."
"What?" I asked going hoping I'd heard him wrong.
"I'm going with my uncle back to the Wall."
"The Wall," I said no longer comprehending anything. All I could think about was losing Jon, the one thing left in this place that truly meant anything to me. Sure these people were the only family I had ever known but, no matter how hard, I tried I'd never belong with them, not really. Not like how I belong with Jon.
"I'm going to join the Night Watch," he told me. His voice still had that strange sound and I couldn't believe his words. If this was a joke it was a terrible one, but he just needed to stop talking like that and I'd forgive him in an instant.
"No." It was all I could manage and it didn't begin to cover how I felt.
"There's nothing left for me here, Ami." His voice cracked when he used my nickname and he sounded like himself again. It was at that moment I realized that this wasn't some cruel joke; he was going to leave me.
I managed to shake myself out of my head and I grabbed his hands. "I'm here!"
"You heard Ned, wedding preparations will begin soon. Before you know it you'll be married to Robb and you'll have things to take care of, duties to attend to. Catelyn will be preparing for when you have to take your title."
"I don't care about any of that!"
"And what you'll be married to him and be with me? The bastard son produces more bastards?"
"I won't marry Robb, we can run away together!" I was on the verge of tears but I didn't want to cry, I didn't want to let him see me breakdown. I needed to be strong.
"You don't know what it's like out there, you've lived in this world too long. I'm trying to protect you," he said shaking his head.
"I don't need to be protected! I want something more than this, I can't stand to be locked up in this world forever you know that. Please Jon, I love you."
"I love you too, that's why I'm doing this. Marry Robb, be happy. You deserve to be happy."
"I'll never be happy without you, you know that!" I couldn't hold back the tears anymore and they began streaming down my cheeks. I wiped at my face furiously hoping they'd stop but it seemed that once they started there was no stopping them. Jon reached up and wiped my face with his thumb. He held my head in his hand and I put my hand on his. "Please don't go." He kissed me and I wrapped my arms around his neck vowing to never let him go. It was childish, but I thought that if I held on to him and refused to remove myself he'd have to stay. There was an urgency in his kisses I'd never felt before, like he was trying to commit every single detail to memory. Like he would never see me again.
I should've taken the time to do the same, to memorize his face and his eyes and the ways his kiss made me feel but I didn't want to remember him like this. I wanted to remember the happy, seemingly carefree boy he was just this morning. I wanted to remember the way his eyes would light up when he smiled and the way he'd bite his lip when he was trying not to laugh at me. I wanted to remember rolling around in the trees giggling and fighting and smiling, the way he look at me with the half pout when I had done something silly. There were so many things I wanted to remember. No, there were so many things I never wanted to forget. I never wanted there to even be a possibility that I would ever forget them but if he left…
"I have to go," he whispered. He held me then, just the two of us standing in the most beautiful part of the woods. Me with tears streaming down my face and him with no light left in his eyes. We were quite a pair at that moment, two heartbroken vulnerable people wishing that they would never have to let the moment end. Then he stepped away from me. He didn't look back till he was almost out of the woods and he mouthed something I could barely distinguish in the dark "I love you." I sank down against the tree behind me and cried until I didn't have any tears left to cry, until the sun came up and I heard the horses and the carriages pulling away. I didn't move there was nothing else to say, I'd already said my goodbyes.
I didn't think about it till later but that night there wasn't a single star in the sky. It was as empty and dark as Jon's eyes. It was fitting in a sad way like even the skies were in mourning.
I read the last page over again, my finger tracing over the letters in my little leather bound book. The page was a bit puckered from my tears falling on it when I'd written the words. It was silly that I hadn't opened it since that night. There wasn't one single word in here about the war, or what happened to Ned and the girls. I hadn't cried since that night either, despite everything. I had become this sturdy rock for everyone else. That's why I was here now on the front lines of battle, instead of safe at home in Winterfell. Robb had finally realized I wasn't as fragile as he had thought but it was too late.
If I couldn't be happy the least I could do was be free. I'd take it one day at a time, starting with King Joffrey and the whole Lannister family.
Like I said, I'm strong. It's in my blood and it's in my upbringing. I took out a pen and begin to write, skipping straight to what was going on right now. If there were going to be stories told about me at least they ought to be the good ones and I wouldn't exactly consider anything from the last two months good.
Here's hoping to change that.
"Darling, could you take some water to our prisoner?" Catelyn asked coming into my tent. She patted me on the shoulder obviously distracted by something.
"Of course Catelyn." I walked out of the tent and went to fetch some water before heading to the outskirts of camp where we were keeping Jamie Lannister. I nodded to the guards and they let me pass.
"If it isn't the Queen of The North herself," Jamie said. How he managed to stay his ever charming self despite being tied to a post was beyond me. "Oh I forgot, you haven't actually married him yet have you?"
"There have been quite a few things to take care of, not the least of which is the funeral of Eddard Stark. Your son did chop off his head."
"You make it sound like it's my fault," he said with mock hurt.
"Do you want this water or not?" I asked trying to refrain from doing something that I'd claim to regret later, though if I hit him he'd deserve it.
"Why haven't you married him yet? He loves you, does he not?"
"I'm not getting married on the front lines of a war. What do you know about love anyways?" I asked skeptically.
"I know more than you think, young queen."
"You honestly expect me to believe you love Cersei?"
"Believe what you want," he shrugged. "Are you going to let me drink or are you just going to hold it?"
I lowered the cup to his lips but before he took a sip he launched into another sentence causing me to spill water down his shirt, I scowled at him. "You know someone else could steal you away, if Robb were to lose a battle. I could do it. I just might, you'd hate that even more than you hate that you have to marry Robb."
"I don't hate-" I started to protest.
"There's another man isn't there?"
"Honestly, Jamie! Are you going to drink this or-"
"Hmm let's see if I had to take a guess…Let me think back to when I visited Winterfell. I'd have to say the bastard."
"I don't have to prove anything to you."
He laughed. "Right on the first guess!" I turned to leave, tired of being made fun of by someone who was quite obviously not worth my time. "Lots of other men would die to marry you. If they knew who you really were there'd be a line a mile long."
"What do you know about that?" I asked carefully, instantly on my guard.
"I hear talk, my father liked to talk."
"I'm sure he did but I've never cared much for talk. Drink this," I said. I shoved the cup in his face again managing to get a bit in his mouth but a good deal just sloshed out on his face.
"I'm surprised my father let you live, but I guess he was sure the Starks weren't raising you to take over the throne. Though it's funny, in a way they did." I turned to leave tossing the cup at him. "You aren't the only one."
I stopped in my tracks. Could he be telling the truth? Jamie made a life out of being terribly charming, pulling people in with a lopsided smile and then lying through his teeth. I couldn't let myself believe something as outrageous as that, especially coming from a pretty mouth like his.
I sat in my tent brushing my hair. Even with the color I had to put in it at least once a month it was still long and healthy and shiny. I imagined that my hair would be even more beautiful if I was allowed to let the brown fade out to snowy white. The closest it had ever gotten was a dull tan.
I had run away from Winterfell again, one of the at least six times, and was sleeping in the woods. I washed my hair with fresh spring water at least twice every day and it was becoming very light. I just wanted to see my true hair color once, unfortunately it wasn't possible. I was only in the woods for a week maybe two before they found me. I was chided of course but they were more worried about me than angry. I never actually planned on running away permanently of course; I only wanted to have some time to myself. Catelyn tended to go easy on me. I'd even say I was possibly her favorite daughter and I wasn't even related by blood.
"Constantly disappearing," Robb said his mouth close to my ear. I could feel his breath on my neck and I got the chills. He wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed the side of my head.
"You know I like to have time to myself," I said looking in the mirror. We did make the perfect couple, they'd done a good job pairing us up in the looks department, our children would be stunning.
"You spend too much time alone," he teased. He turned me to face him.
"Would you rather me spend my time flirting with the soldiers? You know that's what Sansa would be doing." It was a little joke at his sister and I remembered to late exactly why Sansa wasn't with us. "I'm sorry, I try to forget."
"I know, I do too. I wish we didn't have to forget, she and Arya should be with us."
"If they were we wouldn't be fighting this war anyways," I said, smiling sadly.
"You're right. I would've married you by now." He kissed me lightly and then smiled at me. His smiles never touched his eyes but I understood why, I was sure my eyes looked just as empty as his. This family wasn't complete, we were stretched too thin.
"Of course," I murmured. The war wasn't the only reason I continued to put off our wedding but it was the most prevalent one. He kissed me again and this time I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him back.
"Ami," he whispered. I pushed him back quickly.
"Don't call me that."
"I'm sorry, I know. You've had that nickname since we were little kids. Jon used to call you that all the time. It just slipped out."
"I need to go, Catelyn wanted me," I walked towards the tent flaps.
"Amina, I'm sorry," he tried one more time. I could hear how sorry he was in his voice, I didn't think he knew why it bothered me so much but he knew that it did. He hated when he hurt me, even on accident.
"I know. I'll see you at supper," I said as I exited. I walked around the back of the tent all the way to the edge of camp, the opposite side of Jamie's prison. I leaned against a tree, noting the guards that kept a watchful eye on me, the future Queen of the North. I took a deep breath and tried not to cry, but it was no use. No matter how much I tried I couldn't forget.