Words Are Wind

Chapter 3

Jon has been awake long before the early morning light began slipping through the gaps in the curtains that covered his bedroom windows, though he was still lying on his bed, unmoving - save for the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed - and staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars that dotted the whole of his room’s ceiling.

Even now, as the bright streaks of sunlight came pouring in to illuminate his dark room, the eerie green specks were still visible all over, albeit paler than they were when the sun hasn’t yet made its appearance. Still though, it made him feel as if he was lost and floating in space.

He basked in the transient stillness of the world. It’s times like this when he feels most in his element.

But then, just like in all his erstwhile mornings, his spacey mood was eventually broken... From downstairs, he could already hear the faint clatter of pots and pans and muffled voices mingling in the air with the smell of food which he couldn’t quite identify.

They’re already preparing breakfast, he figured. And so, he decided to get out of bed then.

Sluggishly, he stood up and stretched his stiff limbs, before traipsing to his bathroom for his morning routine, which was basically just splashing water on his face and brushing his teeth. Once he was finished with all those, he headed for the door, feeling ready to start his day.

As he stepped outside, he saw that his little cousin was already there waiting, holding her cuddly wolf toy by one of its ears and rubbing her eyes, which were still heavy with the hint of sleep, with her small fist.

“Good morning, Arya.” He greeted her as he put a hand over her sleep-tousled hair - one that was as dark as his own. He was greeted back with a cute and infectious yawn that had him yawning as well, in turn.

As always, her tiny fingers closed over the fabric of his shirt, clutching and wordlessly waiting for him to take the lead. To where, she didn’t quite know, but she trusted him wholly all the same.

“Are you hungry.” he asked.

She nodded, before letting out another yawn.

“Well then, time to go get breakfast...”

"Awya wants steak.” she mumbled sleepily, eyes slightly drooping.

She’s referring to herself in third person again - a quirk of hers that Jon was already used to. He’s well aware that he should be helping his little cousin fix her yet undeveloped speech, but he found her manner of speaking quite amusing and adorable, so he didn’t bother correcting her.

Well, she’ll learn that at school later on, anyway, he thought.

“I don’t think they will be preparing steak for breakfast, Arya. And with those little teeth of yours, you won’t be able to chew it properly, anyway.”

“But Awya wants to twy it! It’s Daddy’s favewit.” she mumbled, barely articulating her letter r’s the way most toddlers her age tend to do.

Jon shook his head and gave her an amused smile, before appeasing her with a response. “We’ll ask your mum then, okay?”

That had her nodding eagerly.

“Come on then. Let’s go look for her.” he beckoned, before both of them started ambling downstairs.

He had to do it slowly and carefully, placing both feet on each step the same way Arya does. She was murmuring numbers under her breath - counting, Jon figured - with every step she took.

One, two, thwee...

Jon could only sigh. Perhaps, by the time they finish descending, it would be time for dinner, he thought drolly. And Arya could actually have the steak that she so wanted.

Finally getting to the bottom of the stairs, he continued to the kitchen with his little cousin in tow, who was still holding onto his shirt and dragging her poor wolf toy’s haunches across the floor. When they got there, they saw that his Aunt Catelyn was already busy moving around the kitchen with a few of the house help assisting her, which struck him rather odd, because they weren’t usually this hectic in the mornings.

“Mummy!” Arya called.

At the sound of her voice, her mother immediately looked up from the task she was absorbed in. She smiled, her eyes lighting up at the sight of her youngest daughter.

“Oh, if it isn’t my little darling Arya.” she cooed. “Good morning, love. You’re up early today.”

“Awya is always up eawly!”

“Yes, yes, of course, but you’re earlier than usual.” she amended. “Come here, you.”

And so she did, letting go of Jon’s shirt and tottering towards her mother while Jon just stood there awkwardly, unnoticed. Or perhaps, his Aunt Cat was just deliberately ignoring him.

It wasn’t something new to him. Jon was, in truth, quite used to his aunt’s aloofness and it was something he has deliberately tried to ignore as well.

With her blazing red hair and clear blue eyes that mirrored a bright sunny sky, some would say that she’s the exact embodiment of a Southern summer, but for all her warm appearance, her attitude, particularly towards Jon, was as cold as the Northern winter.

Nevertheless, Jon still greeted her. “Good morning, Aunt Cat.”

A terse nod and a taut smile were all he got for a reply.

That was good enough for him, he thought. At least, she didn’t completely ignore him this time.

In that same moment, his other two cousins came bounding in the kitchen - Robb, loud as usual and skipping about as if his feet had springs attached to them; and Sansa, still in her pink sleeping dress and matching pink fluffy slippers, walking in with a soft and whimsical gait. Her auburn hair was already combed neatly, a stark contrast to the disheveled state of both Robb and Arya’s.

“Hey, Jon! Good morning!” Robb greeted him first with sincere warmth and zeal that was enough to compensate for his mother’s frigidity.

Jon smiled in return.

Sansa greeted him as well. And although the greeting was a bit more reserved than her brother’s, it was nonetheless better than her mother’s.

Catelyn’s taut smile turned into a genuine one upon seeing the rest of her children. She bent down to pick Arya, who was already standing beside her, and balanced her on her hip, before bending down again to let Robb and Sansa greet her good morning with a kiss on her cheek.

“Good morning, my little darlings.” she beamed at each of them.

All the while, Jon was just quietly observing on the sidelines, watching the exchange between mother and children... But in his mind, he pictured another woman... A woman with raven hair and deep blue eyes, fussing around the kitchen to make him heart-shaped pancakes; a woman who’s as radiant as a star and as warm as a Dornish summer, beaming with a bright smile that was all for him.

The floral garden of the Stark estate is a picturesque place made even more beautiful by the bright morning light.

The vivid green leaves and lush grasses, which were still misty with dewdrops, glistened under the bright rays of the sun. Countless blooms showered the whole place in different vibrant colours: pinks, reds, purples, yellows and oranges. The sky was a serene blue and little birds, perched on tree branches, chirped happily around them.

It’s almost like a painting with its idyllic splendor.

And just like most of their mornings, the Stark family has opted to have their breakfast out in that very patch of paradise.

Lyarra Stark loves this part of their home and would even go so far as to state that this is the most beautiful place in all the Seven Cities of Westeros - even more beautiful than the renowned gardens of the Tyrells.

She had made it a point to always have their first meal of the day here in this particular slice of the estate, because she believes that its relaxing ambience puts everyone in a good mood and a bright aura. And how right she was, for one certainly can’t help but feel blissful in this place.

Right at the heart of the garden, under the quaint and vine-twisted pergola, a white table had been set up and laden with arrays of food that smelled so delicious, it made Jon’s mouth water.

At the head of the table, his grandfather sat, perusing a newspaper, while he absently sipped his tea - or coffee? Jon wasn’t sure which. Beside him, on his right, Grandma Lyarra was nibbling on scones. Next to her was Uncle Brandon, whispering something in Aunt Catelyn’s ear that had earned him a light smack on the arm. Jon would’ve thought that they were having an argument had it not been for the wide grin that stretched his uncle’s lips and the shy blush that bloomed on his aunt’s cheeks. Beside her, sat his young Uncle Benjen who was passionately wolfing down the heap of eggs and sausages on his plate.

On his grandfather’s left, sat Robb who was busily drowning his stack of heart-shaped pancakes with maple syrup; followed by himself, and then Arya, who was perched on her high chair, being fed with fruits and porridge by her Nanny Mordane. She keeps on throwing pieces of fruits at her nanny, much to the old woman’s exasperation. Next to her was Sansa, quietly minding her food, ever the proper little lady that she is.

Everyone was in particularly good spirits, it seems. And Jon can’t help but smile as he observed his family and surroundings.

It really is a beautiful day. Would that his father and Aunt Lyanna were here, this day would have been perfect.

But alas, that was not to be, because they were both quite far away. One was across the Narrow Sea and the other at the Vale.

About a year ago, at the behest of Grandpa Rickard, his Aunt Lyanna was sent to the Vale to study at The Eyrie Academy, much to Jon’s dismay.

Lyanna Stark had been Jon’s closest confidante and the closest thing he has to a mother, despite her being only eleven years older than him. She had been his very first teacher. From simply tying his shoelaces to counting numbers and memorizing the alphabet, it had been her who taught him all those things. She also used to read him bedtime stories all the time and Jon misses that terribly... Well, he misses her. As simple as that.

His father, on the other hand, had left to take care of business again, as what his Grandpa Rickard had said. He’s currently in some place called Myr in Essos.

Jon had been still deeply asleep when he left almost a week ago, so he wasn’t even able to say a simple goodbye or wish him a safe trip. While Ned, not wanting to disturb his son’s peaceful slumber, had merely planted a kiss on his forehead before leaving. When he had woken up that morning, looking for his father, they only told him that he has left and won’t be back for a few days or a week at most.

He was used to his father’s business trips, by now, but that doesn’t mean that he no longer felt sad over his absence. He still misses him everytime he’s away.

Jon shook those thoughts away before they could further dampen the bright mood he was in and focused on finishing the food on his plate, instead.

As he did so, his grandfather gruffly cleared his throat, thus promptly catching his attention. He looked up to see him pensively rubbing his thickly bearded chin as he continued to peruse the morning papers.

His grandfather has quite an imposing appearance, Jon observed; a formidable figure that radiated an air of command. But for all that, he’s a rather warm and, at times, boisterous man.

He started folding his newspaper then and insouciantly placed it on the table, before pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his aquiline nose.

“Robb, exchange seats with Jon, please.” he said suddenly, causing everyone at the table to look up at him; the clinking of silver cutleries on porcelain plates, stopping abruptly for but a second before eventually returning. Jon didn’t know why, but he found that pause oddly amusing.

Robb obliged without question, hopping down from his chair and waiting for Jon to do the same. He slid down from his own chair then and took the one that his cousin has just vacated.

Jon ignored it, but he certainly didn’t miss the harsh glint that flitted over his aunt’s gaze as he did so.

When they were both finally settled, his grandfather reached over to put a hand on his shoulder, clasping lightly as a fond smile lit his face. “So, lad, what would you like for your birthday? It is tomorrow, is it not?”

His eyes widened a tad and he merely muttered a barely audible “Oh”, only realizing what day it is. His birthday is tomorrow. He had forgotten about that.

Or maybe, he’s just deliberately trying to forget...

“Ah, how time flies. It seems only yesterday when you were still but a wee bundle I used to carry in my arms.” his Grandma Lyarra reminisced, smiling wistfully at him. “And tomorrow you’ll be another year older.”

“You’ll be eight, Jon!” It seems that Robb was way more excited than Jon felt. With the way he had said that, one would think that he was the one turning eight.

“Awya wants to be eight!” the little girl suddenly yelled, catching everyone’s attention.

Catelyn opened her mouth, about to chide her youngest daughter for her manners, or lack thereof, but Sansa beat her to it.

“It’s impolite to yell, Arya, especially while we’re eating.” she said haughtily, uncannily sounding so much like her mother, despite her tiny, squeaky voice.

Arya, in an act of childish defiance, impertinently crossed her arms over her chest as she blew raspberries at her older sister.

“Arya.” her mother said with a warning tone, making the little girl pout and sulk deeper into her high chair with her shoulders hunched exaggeratedly. She had even topped the look off with an unrepentant glare.

Brandon only shook his head, grinning amusedly at his youngest daughter’s penchant for the dramatics.

“So, does the birthday boy have any particular request?” His grandfather asked again, rousing everyone from the momentary distraction.

What did he want?

Nothing that can possibly be given to him, he thought miserably. Unless one of them can bring back a person that has long been dead...

“Grandma Lyarra’s lemon cakes would be nice.” he said instead, ever polite and beaming with a smile that was as bright as it was feigned.

He appreciated his family’s thoughtfulness, he really did, and he was grateful for it, but he’s just never seen his birthday as a cause for celebration. Truth be told, he’d much rather be left alone in his room or at the Godswood Cemetery to talk to his mother (or to her tombstone, at least). After all, it wasn’t just his birthday; it was also the anniversary of her death.

Quite ironic, really. It was a day where one life was given yet another was taken. He wondered what his father truly thought of it. Would he rather celebrate or mourn the day? Make merry or grieve?...

Perhaps, both? And since it was that, then maybe they just cancel out the significance of each other, making it nothing but an ordinary day. Regular just like all the rest. So, there isn’t really any reason for any kind of commemoration - neither happy nor sad.

His melancholy thoughts were doused when he heard Sansa’s squeaky voice, agreeing with him enthusiastically as she bounced in her seat. “Yes, yes, lemon cakes!”

“Then I’ll make plenty of lemon cakes for tomorrow.” Grandma Lyarra acquiesced. “What else?”

“Awya wants steak!” Arya’s little voice chimed in, inadvertently making her father laugh.

“Aye, I second that!” Brandon agreed. “But not for Jon’s birthday, Arya. It would be pretty odd to serve steak at a kid’s party. Later for dinner, maybe?”

“Like father, like daughter.” Grandma Lyarra remarked with mirth as she shook her head.

“As the little lady wishes, we’ll have steak for dinner.” Grandpa Rickard announced blithely.

“But Awya is not a lady!” Arya protested in that adorably petulant way of hers, her little arms still crossed over her chest.

“Oh? And what would you rather be called then, little one?” Their grandfather asked, playing along.

“A brat?” Robb teased.

“No!” she said, huffing and frowning.

“A street urchin?” her brother goaded further.

She shook her head vehemently. “NO!”

“Oh, I know! A horse!”

“No! Awya is a dwywolf!” she growled and howled, much to everyone’s amusement.

“Ah, of course, Arya the direwolf pup.” their grandmother fondly agreed, chuckling lightly.

“You’re just as spirited as your Aunt Lyanna, child.” their grandfather remarked with a wistful tone, before turning his attention back to Jon and putting a hand on his shoulder once more.

His previously cheerful countenance had dropped slightly then and turned into a more sympathetic one as he leaned closer to Jon and said in a placid voice, “I’m sorry your father isn’t yet back.”

Jon could only nod in response.

“But I’m certain that he’ll make it in time for your birthday celebration tomorrow, so you need not fret.”

“I’m not fretting, Grandpa.” He said, knowing that that wasn’t exactly true.

“Ah, but you’re starting to have that broody look on your face again.” His grandfather grumbled lightheartedly. “Then again, don’t all Starks look that way.” He added as an afterthought and Jon concurred with a smile.

“We’ll give him a call later, if you want...”

His smile grew wider at that, showing how delighted he is with his grandfather’s suggestion. His grandfather’s mien, however, only grew slightly serious.

“You do understand that your father needs to take care of the business first, do you not?” He asked.

“Yes, I understand, Grandpa.” He answered politely.

“It’s a taxing job, what your father does.” he said, pausing thoughtfully before continuing, “But he’s a very dedicated man. You’re a lot like your father when he was your age - quiet and pensive, that boy. It’s like being thrown in the past and seeing your father as a little lad again, every time I look at you.”

Then, gazing at his eldest grandson with discerning eyes, Rickard Stark said without reluctance, “I am confident that you will be as dedicated as he is once you take over the company, Jon.”

Jon was still too young to fully grasp the heft of what his grandfather was telling him. In fact, it had him a bit confused, but he, nevertheless, gave his grandfather a faint smile and a small nod.

Rickard Stark ruffled his grandson’s tumble of dark curls affectionately, saying, “But, well, it would still be quite a long time before that happens. I only wish that I’m still alive when it finally does.” The old man smiled, making the corners of his eyes crinkle.

From across the table, Catelyn Stark sat rigid, intently listening to their conversation and upon hearing what her good-father had said, her eyes immediately flickered meaningfully over to her husband.

Brandon, also overhearing the conversation and noticing the look his wife was giving him, stiffened in response. He threw back a sideways glance, along with a surreptitious shake of his head which clearly implies dismissal. Most likely, he was telling her through those discreet signals that she should just drop it - a silent communication between husband and wife.

All the other children were completely oblivious to the tension that permeated the air after that furtive exchange. Benjen went on with his eager chewing and Sansa gingerly poked at the food on her plate. Robb as well minded his food, while Arya played with hers.

Even Rickard and Lyarra, whose attention was still on their grandchild who was about to celebrate his birthday, seem to be unaware.

But Jon regarded everything with keen eyes.

He’s always been an observant child and he notices the littlest of things around him. Just like how he noticed the way his aunt’s lips pursed and the awkwardness that tinged his uncle’s throat-clearing. The implications of their movements, subtle as they may be, were there to see and Jon watched it all with curious interest.

He easily surmised that his grandfather’s blatant and seemingly final declaration earlier has everything to do with the sudden unease that settled over their heads like dark, looming clouds.

The sudden shift in the atmosphere unnerved him...

But then, Benjen, the Seven bless him, broke the tension when he suddenly choked on the food he unreservedly kept on shoving in his mouth, making him spew spittle and masticated food bits all over Sansa’s face.

“Ew, Uncle Benjen! Ew!” she cried shrilly while squeamishly wiping at her face.

That had sent Arya into a fit of giggles, while both Robb and Jon had their hands pressed against their mouth to stifle their chortles.

“Sorry, Sans!” Benjen managed to say in between his coughing. By that time, Nanny Mordane was already beside Sansa, helping her wipe her face and clicking her tongue as she did so.

“Oh, Ben, how many times do I have to tell you to eat slowly?” Lyarra chided. “It’s like the Others are always after you when you’re eating.”

Benjen could only mutter a sheepish apology.

“Sorry, mum...” He had said, to which Lyarra merely shook her head.

She sighed and then, with a nonchalant wave of her hand, dismissed the interruption entirely. “Anyway, back to Jon’s birthday...”

“Do we really have to celebrate it?” Jon cut in timidly.

His grandmother turned to him, a small frown creasing her forehead. “Of course, dear. We’ve always had.”

But it was the day Mum died, he had wanted to say then, but he gave her a small smile, instead, as he mumbled a quiet “Okay.”

“You don’t look too happy...” his grandmother noted with obvious concern.

“No, I am. It’s just... I just wish Dad and Aunt Lya were here.” That was true enough.

“We could always give your aunt a call,” she said, giving him an assuring smile. “And your father will be here, don’t worry. He won’t miss your birthday. I’m sure he’ll make it in time for the party.”

He could only nod meekly. At least, that was something he could look forward to.

“It will be a small one, with just the whole family and some of your friends, maybe... if that’s another one of your concerns?” she added with a knowing smile.

Before he could say anything, however, Sansa suddenly chimed in, “Can I invite my friends, too?”

“Yeah, yeah, and mine!” Robb interjected, his head bobbing in agreement.

“Ask Jon. It’s his party.” their grandmother said, making his cousins turn to him with expectant eyes.

Jon didn’t have friends outside the family, so he didn’t have anyone to invite, anyway. He supposed that Robb and Sansa could invite anyone to their heart’s content...

He shrugged offhandedly. “That’s okay. You could invite your friends...” With the exception of Theon Greyjoy, he had almost added, but thought better of it.

At that, his two cousins beamed brightly, promptly reciting the names of the friends they plan to invite to Jon’s party, before their grandmother’s voice, once more, rang clear over their excited gushing.

“Since it will be a small party, preparation will be fairly easy. I’d still need all the help I could get, though.” She said indicatively.

Robb was the first to raise his hand, ever eager and bursting with energy. “I will help!”

“Me too!” seconded Sansa, who appears to have completely gotten over the whole incident with his young uncle earlier.

And then lastly, Arya, wanting to follow the example of her older siblings, chirped excitedly, “Me! Me! Me!” Everyone was quite certain that she didn’t even have a single idea about what she was agreeing to.

“I’d like to help, too, Grandma.” Jon voiced.

But Grandma Lyarra shook her head. “It’s your birthday. Let us do all the work, dear.”

“But I’d really like to help. I have nothing else to do anyway.” He insisted.

A small sigh left her lips as she looked at Jon thoughtfully, before she finally conceded. “Ah, it’s your birthday. How can I say no?”

Clasping her hands together and smiling warmly at her grandchildren, she then concluded, “Very well, all four of you will help me make the lemon cakes.”

That had been the end of that discussion, much to Jon’s relief, and they all finished their breakfast fairly uneventfully thereafter.

Later that morning, Jon decided to pay his mother a visit. It could be said that it has always been his tradition to do so and that before going, he would always first gather a bunch of flowers from his Grandma Lyarra’s garden to offer to his mother’s grave.

He looked for the star-shaped magenta blooms that he knew was his mother’s favourite. His father had told him that once when they came to pick flowers for her together one day.

Finally finding those pretty and fragrant blooms, he delicately clipped eight of them along with a few other kinds, and then tied them altogether into a simple bouquet with a violet ribbon. It was her favourite colour. His father had also told him that.

And so, finished with all those, he then went on his way.

He took the path he had accidentally discovered one day when he went exploring in the vast woods of the Stark estate. It was a longer one, but he preferred taking that particular route to the cemetery, mostly because of the place’s utter beauty.

He loved the rich verdant foliage and the thick smell of damp earth mingling with the cool wind that welcomed him when he got to the forest. Beams of sunlight peeked through the copious assemblage of leaves. Overhead, they look like a myriad of perforations sparkling golden and appearing as though they were stars amidst a sky of green. A bed of soft moss covered the entire forest floor and some clung onto massive tree trunks and protruding roots.

He took in the wild splendor of the whole place with wonder-filled eyes and thought that wandering through the Stark woodlands truly is an enthralling and mystical experience.

After a while of traversing the dense cluster of trees, he came upon a tall and ornate wrought iron fence that skirted a vast clearing. His lips lifted into a satisfied grin, knowing that he has finally reached his destination.

From a few steps ahead, a missing rail from the fence has left a gap wide enough for him to pass through. He crouched and squeezed through the small space until he finally stepped foot into the Godswood Cemetery. Then, after dusting off the dirt that clung to his shirt, he proceeded to head to the direction of his mother’s grave, passing gloomy dark grey stone tablets that dotted the whole place along the way.

When he got there, he immediately put the bundle of flowers in her tombstone vase and then, with his legs crossed, he finally sat down on the grass, facing his mother’s headstone.

He started plucking the grass beside him absently as he spoke. “Hey, mum...” he began.

“It’s my birthday tomorrow.”

… And the anniversary of your death, he added silently. For some reason, he can’t bring himself to say that out loud.

“I decided to come earlier. We’re probably going to be really busy with the party Grandma’s planning for tomorrow, so I’m not sure if I’d be able to visit you then.” He explained, and then paused as though he’s waiting for a reply, or perhaps, just letting the wind carry his words and hoping that they would be delivered to wherever his mother is.

“It’s solely their idea.” He spoke again after a while. “I didn’t really want a party... Or any kind of celebration, really.”

“Parties only make me feel... uncomfortable.” He mumbled, looking down at the piece of grass he was picking at with his fingers. “You already know why. I’ve already told you before. But it’s nice of them to plan it, I guess. It only means that they care, right?”

He paused again, staring at one of the dates engraved on his mother’s gravestone - that date - and just wallowing in the silence, before he decided to break it once more.

“Anyway, I brought you your favourite flowers.” He said, a small smile now lighting his face. “Aunt Lya would probably scold me for picking and ‘killing’ those flowers if she were here... Well, you’ve met her. You probably know how she is.” He can’t help but let the smile on his face grow bigger as he thought of his Aunt Lya with all her endearing quirks.

“I really miss her though. Just like how I miss you.”

It’s rather strange, really - missing someone who you haven’t even met once in your life. But he felt it all the same. The absence of his mother was so palpable in his life, it’s almost like he’s actually missing a part of himself; like a tangible feeling deep within him - a hollow pit in his gut.

“Oh, by the way, Daddy wasn’t able to come today. He’s in Essos dealing with business stuff again... but Grandpa and Grandma said that he’ll be back tomorrow. Maybe we could visit again when he gets back.”

After that first time, and with the memory of that departing promise he made to his mother’s grave, it had become so much easier to face her. Not that they actually face each other. It was just her grave, but nevertheless, he could almost feel her presence every time he visited.

He went on talking to his mother about everything and anything - from the most remarkable to the most mundane of things; he laughed when he told her about how his Uncle Ben spat his food all over Sansa’s face earlier and then waved his hands about with animated gusto as he recounted all of his adventures and explorations in his newly discovered forest.

He babbled on until he can no longer think of anything else to say. Sighing and smiling dreamily, he leant back with his elbows propped behind him; his eyes drifting close as he inhaled the soothing breeze that surrounded him. He was just about to recline farther onto the grass when he suddenly heard a cry echoing from a distance. His eyes snapped open at the sound and he jolted up.

It didn’t sound like a cry of distress, or that of terror. In fact, it sounded more like a defiant battle cry, so it wasn’t really any cause for alarm... well, no, not exactly... but Jon, nonetheless, found himself slowly standing up and warily walking towards the direction of the noise, if only to sate his curiosity.

A flash of silver weaving through the sparse cluster of trees up ahead caught his attention. Walking closer, he saw that the flash of silver was actually a girl.

She was roaring and shouting.

Dracarys!... Slay all the White Walkers!... Fire and blood!...

The things she was saying and doing didn’t make much sense to Jon, but even so, he stood transfixed, staring at the strange little girl with a bemused frown.

He was still a few feet away from her, so he remained thus far unnoticed...

He observed that the white cotton dress she was wearing had been heavily wrinkled and streaked with grass stains (from her wild frolicking, Jon surmised). Her feet, clad in muddy red sneakers, bounced against the soft bed of dewy grass as she ran about with springing steps. A pair of crooked and tattered black wings, dangling on her back, flapped awkwardly along with her movements as she swung a thin branch around like a sword. Her hair, a tangled mess of spun silk, billowed behind her like a rippling silver banner as a gust of wind brushed by. And her eyes... they were of the most unusual colour. It made him think of his box of crayons, or rather, one of the colours in that box. Periwinkle, was it? He wasn’t sure to which hue it leaned more into. Blue or purple?

Busy contemplating the colour of her eyes, Jon failed to notice that the girl has stopped moving. And so, with a start, he realized that she now stood stock still; those periwinkle orbs of hers gazing straight into his grey ones as a faint trace of scarlet danced on her cheeks.

They just stood there, engaged in a staring match for who knows how long, when the corners of her lips slowly lifted into a hesitant smile that showed a lovely dent on her right cheek...

And it’s weird, but upon seeing that smile, Jon could have sworn that his heart just flipped.

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