This is not right, this is not fair, how have I sinned that the gods would do this to me, how?
The castle was always so cold, it almost reminded Sansa of Winterfell at times. But the chilly air of Dragonstone came more from its nature than the temperature, and she could not make herself truly at home here. But it was not her home, truly, it was Eddara’s. She wondered how long she would have to pretend: Daniel didn’t use a false name all of the time, but he was a Lord here - not King Joffrey’s fugitive bride. It would be too profitable for anyone to sell her out. And the punishment that would come to her saviors…Sansa grimaced at the thought.
Often, she tried to stay in her room to avoid being seen. She worried that her auburn hair was too distinctive. But she resented feeling so trapped, and now the castle was stirring…with rumors of the Targaryen Princess. Daniel hadn’t come to see her, so it was up to Sansa herself to satiate her curiosity. The Mother of Dragons, here? She was probably magnificent…beautiful, a true Queen…
Sansa made her way down the hall at a quick clip, searching for signs of anyone who could tell her what was going on.
Amalia smiled softly, listening to her remises about the past. Even if she had recognized the name or connected the dots between the red head and the Starks, Amalia would have nothing to do with such information and it wasn’t likely that she would if she did. No, Amalia didn’t make the connection she simply figured that Rickon was a younger relative or friend of Eddara’s. “Then I would most delighted to take you up on that very generous offer.” She chuckled, setting down the clothes she folded.
“I do not deny you to have hope, mi’lady,” Amalia shook her head,”for if we lack hope, what is it we have?” She asked rhetorically. “And this is where I am glad I lack noble blood in my veins, I do not have to worry about power. Food, and sometimes shelter but not someone poisoning me simply to get ahead.” She spoke mostly in reassurance to herself. “But never mind that, my days in the Vale are not something you want or need to hear about.” Amalia spoke quickly, a gentle smile forming on her lips.
“We all need someone, there is only so much time you can spend by yourself trapped behind stone walls before you go a bit crazy,” she chuckled, standing up and brushing off her skirts. “Now, how you would like to go out the gardens? They aren’t much but they are better than being stuck in here.”
Sansa nodded, her expression a bit grim. She’d always thought being a Lady was the best thing she could be. She’d always been so good at it, and it seemed wonderful and romantic…but Amalia was right. Not having noble blood was better. Sansa felt safer just pretending to be a bastard girl - although she allowed that she was not having to work as hard as this handmaiden to earn her keep. She raised a gentle eyebrow. “I do not think anyone’s story a waste of time, Amalia. I would be happy to hear about your life, if you wish to share. But I understand if you’d rather keep your life private, of course.”
Sansa smiled, letting out a little slip of a laugh in agreement. “Yes. Being alone inside a castle is little better than being a kept horse who is not allowed to run.” She finished off a piece of apple and nodded, pushing her plate aside. “I would like that indeed. It is true Dragonstone does not have a flourishing garden, but any nature is a comfort, I think.”
Amalia grinned slightly, noticing the way the younger girl flushed and shyly offered her services. “You sure you want to offer? I have been told that I am not the most keen when it comes to being taught. I could prove to be a difficult student,” she jested softly. It flattered Amalia that she would even offer to teach her, and if she was a more prideful woman she would have immediately brushed the very idea aside. However, Amalia could see the need for company in Eddara’s eyes and honestly she herself had a certain need for such a comfort. There is only so long you can be alone before it takes a toll on you.
Whatever the young woman had been through, Amalia knew it had been hard. The loneliness the pain, was masked behind a gentle voice and a bright smile. The handmaiden paused in her work as she listened to her soft, lyrical voice. “As were the men before them, and the men before them. All men think themselves strong and righteous. Though my word and knowledge might not mean much…,” she shook her head slightly, looking towards the copper haired girl. “Women are the stronger of the sexes, do not let anyone tell you otherwise. I fear a woman with her quick tongue much more than a man with a sharp sword. And I have met many of both.”
Amalia’s expression softened as she heard the girl’s nervous words. She smiled gently, kneeling before her, tentatively placing her hands over Eddara’s. “I would most certainly enjoy being your friend, do not doubt that for a second.”
“It is no matter, Rickon was always terribly inattentive and I managed to teach him his letters …” Sansa trailed off, realizing she’d spoken too personally. But it was not as if Amalia would recognize the name Rickon and connect it back to the Starks; hardly anyone knew her youngest brother. She smiled, forcing herself not to stumble awkwardly over her mistake. “Anyway, you can’t be any worse than a little boy.”
“Yes…words can be much worse than any action.” Sansa agreed softly, pressing her lips together. “But you understand, I have to have faith in my friends. Even though you may be right…” She sighed. “Though in my experience, even strong women falter when they reach for power. And power is all that keeps anyone safe.”
She brightened slightly, tentatively, at Amalia’s assurance. “Thank you, Amalia.” Sansa said, genuinely grateful. “I…appreciate it. More than you know.”
Elijah was not a young man any longer, he had no dreams or idiolisations of weddings, if anything the thought filled him with dread; that much wine and ale around his brothers would not end well, and it would be Elijah that was responsible for their behavior.
He smiled though, it was clear even to Moon Boy that Sansa Stark did not want this marriage. And who could blame her? Joffery was a vile creature. “I suppose it should be a rather entertaining event. Fit for a King, quite.” Elijah gave a small smirk before her lead her outside of the keep, out into one of the open gardens, away where the walls had ears. “I’ve never been too fond of weddings myself,” in time it would be his own wedding, though he had to admit he would never be as unfortunate as Lady Sansa.
Finally he stopped to stand by a bush of autumn roses, he plucked one at the stem before handing it to Sansa with a soft, gentle smile. “You will made a gracious and beautiful Queen, My Lady. It is just unfortunate that you do not have such a King at your side.”
“They say the crown spares no expense on it. Though I imagine your family has quite a bit to do with that.” Sansa glanced at him. “I am honored by the generosity.” She paused, regarding him thoughtfully. “You are engaged my Lord, are you not? Perhaps your own wedding will be more thrilling to you. But I know many Lords are not fond of them…until the bedding ceremony, of course…” She grimaced, softly, but determined herself not to think of her own wedding night. She would not stay together if she dwelled on it.
Sansa blushed softly, and accepted the rose with a surprised smile. It reminded her of Ser Loras’s rose - she’d been filled with such hope that day, such pride in herself for having attracted the beautiful knight of flowers. She felt so naive looking back on it, and yet something in her still yearned for her knight, though it was not always Loras’s face she imagined. “My Lord, you are so kind to say so. I - I am certainly nervous, but wish to do my best for the people…” She cast her glance away for fear that he’d see how ardent her agreement was. Why were people always saying these things to her? They must know how she felt, and were trying to get her to falter. But she could not. “I will have the true King of Westeros by my side. No one else can say that.”
“I assume I would like to read, if I could that is,” she shrugged it off easily, her smile never lacking,”I did like listening to my mother tell me stories of the old world. Embellished history if anything.” Amalia tidied up the room slightly as she spoke, even if Eddara was a bastard, Amalia was still a handmaiden that served any of the guests of Dragonstone. No matter who they were at the time.
Amalia brushed a stray hair out of her eyes, shaking her head slightly at the idea of being tired of the quiet. “You should relish in the quiet now mi’lady, for after the quiet often comes the storm.” She offered gently, folding one of the girls discarded dresses and setting it upon a chest at the edge of the bed. “And with everything that has already happened, I do not think it will be getting any better. As unfortunate as it is to say things most usually become much worse before they dare start to change for the better.” Amalia knew that better than anyone, or at least she hoped that was the case. She didn’t want to think about it getting worse for her.
“I could not possibly, mi’lady,” Amalia shook her head, interlacing her fingers in front of her. “Even if you were just a girl, I am still a handmaiden. I am here to serve, but do believe me when I say. You are no cruel replacement.” She chuckled softly,”plus I do have other duties to attend to, unfortunately Lady Rebekah’s linens do change themselves.”
“Oh, I - of course.” Sansa looked a bit flustered, she had forgotten that very few maids outside of the castle read. Even within King’s Landing only the best lady’s maids read. “That sounds wonderful. If - if you like, I could teach you some…you could read some of your mother’s old stories…” She made the suggestion tentatively, knowing it was an odd one. But if she was pretending to be a baseborn girl, why should she not make friends of other baseborn girls? And really, one thing Sansa had learned during her time in King’s Landing was that noble blood did not make you noble.
“I may have already had the worst.” Sansa said quietly, staring down at her plate. After a moment, she shook her head and reached for a heel of bread, pasting a smile on. “Do not worry, Amalia. The men I’m with are strong, and righteous. They can handle anything.” Sansa prayed every night for their strength. She hoped it was enough.
“Please - I’m not a lady here - you don’t need to…” Sansa paused, sighing. “What I mean is, I should like for us to be friends. I…there isn’t anyone else my age, really, except Lady Rebekah and…” She bit her lower lip. “I must sound very desperate. I apologize. I know you have work to do, but it’s been so long since I met anyone decent.”
A gentle smile crossed her lips as the young red head addressed her. Even if she had reason or want to, Amalia knew that she could never be cruel to the girl. She saw a bit of herself in Eddara, a younger more timid version if anything. Her boots padded across the stone floors, before she easily set the tray on the table, wipping her hands on the skirt of her dress. “Good morning.” She nodded slightly, her eyes falling to the book the girl had clutched in her grasp. “I see you have started a new book, and what is that one about?” She asked curiously.
Amalia couldn’t read, well she could manage to read letters and such but when it came to full books the words and letters seemed to jumble up into a mass she couldn’t understand. It wasn’t uncommon considering she was a bastard and grew up mostly scrounging. It certainly did not leave her much time to practice her articulation. That was the very reason she would ask Eddara about her books. It’s also how she knew that perhaps Eddara was hiding something. What she was hiding was still very much a mystery but the girl seemed to regal, held herself a certain way, and spoke with much more articulation. Of course, Amalia could simply blame the differences on her own bad upbringing.
Then there were the circumstances the red headed young woman had come to Dragonstone. Amalia had decided against questioning it, everyone had something to hide and reason to hide it. She had no interest in putting the girl in any danger, if anything she would probably protect when it came down to it. Simply because that was the type of person Amalia was, that hadn’t changed simply because she was inside some stone castle walls.
“I found it inside what must have been Lady Shireen’s room - it is a simple book, probably stories meant for children.” Sansa half-smiled, shaking her head lightly and setting the book down. “Just something to pass the time.” She glanced up at Amalia, with a curious gaze equal to the girl’s own. “Do you like to read? I find it very relaxing, although I am growing a bit tired of all the quiet around here lately.”
She sat herself down at the table and reached out for a piece of fruit on the tray. She ate with the same manners trained into her, oblivious to how foolish she was being not to take steps to hide her true identity. The Lord Rhaegar and the Lady Rebekah, her rescuers, had not taught her much about how to act. Sansa had been told to pick a new name, but she hadn’t thought much further, too relieved to be safe at last. And free…free from Joffrey. She couldn’t help but smile at the thought.
“Thank you for breakfast, Amalia.” Sansa said, and gestured to the seat across from her. “Would you like to join me? There’s more than enough, and I don’t want you to think I’m some sort of cruel replacement for your former masters…really, I’m just a girl.”
Though Amalia would rather have her throat slit by wildlings than ever admit it, she knew she was lucky. She could have ended up more like her mother, a serving wench at one of the many taverns in the Vale. The young woman had gotten herself pregnant with a charming man’s child, granted the man was already quite married with enough children of his own. Amalia was raised by her mother, for fifteen years until she became ill. Unfortunately they lacked money, and no money meant no medicine. Close to her sixteenth birthday, Amalia’s mother perished leaving the young girl nothing more than a pouch full of silver stags. It was hardly enough to scrap by for six months, but unlikely most women in her predicament Amalia rose to the occasion. While others would go to become whores in the pleasure houses, Amalia began to teach herself how to steal. It was nothing noble of her, she always made sure never to steal more than she needed or more than what would be noticed. She learned how to defend herself if she needed, as some men did not know the meaning of no quite like others did.
Surviving like this for almost four years before she was chosen by a low Lord to serve his household. It was not an easy job by any standards, she was simply glad that she only attended to his daughter and did not get the most of the beatings he tended to deal out. To protect herself, she learned exactly when her voice was necessary and if she dared to forget the jagged scar down the side of ribcage would remind her. When she was taken to serve at Dragonstone she held her tongue, because at least it meant she would no longer be stuck in the Vale with all of its reminders. Perhaps she could start herself a new life.
“Amalia!” Another maid yelled, knocking the brunette out of her reveries. Amalia smiled tightly, nodding her head slightly at the older woman before brushing past her. If only things were different. But they weren’t and Amalia had decided long ago not to dwell on the past. If you dwelt to much on the past than you missed out on what was going on in the present. That in itself could become dangerous.
Her fingers curled around the tray she held in her hands, knuckles turning white. Do not dwell, she told herself sternly, her steps faltering slightly. She cursed underneath her breath, regaining her balance and composure making sure nothing on her tray was out of place. She would make due with what she had at the moment. Even if it was just being a handmaiden in Dragonstone. It would have to do.
Sansa had not thought to expect servants and a fully functioning castle when she’d been spirited away into the night. She’d stealed herself instead for a rougher life, a life running from the monsters that would surely come after her and Daniel. Sometimes she cursed her “important” last name. Sometimes she wished she was someone else, someone not so noteworthy. But in the end, she was proud. Even so, she’d had to give up the Stark name all the same when they took up residence at Dragonstone, for safety. Though they’d captured the place, they still could trust few people there. So Sansa took up a bastard’s name - Eddara, in honor of her father. Eddara Waters.
Even with a bastard’s name, she was still a friend to the conquerors of Dragonstone, and so she received excellent treatment from the servants. They were even more courteous to her than those at King’s Landing, who had been under the Queen’s employ and had no special wish to serve “the Stark girl”. But her maid here was kind, with an honest expression that Sansa trusted.
True, she didn’t know the girl well. But she still smiled as the door opened to admit Amalia with a tray of food. She was happy to be free, but Sansa had grown lonely with Daniel so changed and no one else very keen to talk to her. Amalia was a brightness to her day. “Good morning, Amalia.” She greeted, closing the book on her lap and standing to move towards the small dining table.
He smiled and held his arm out for to take at her acceptance. She surely was the perfect image of a lady, courteous, sweet, and so very elegant, just as ladies were in the songs, what a shame it was for her that the knights in songs did not exist. Life was not a song, he wondered how long it had taken her to be in south before she had realised that too.
Elijah could not help but smirk at her mention of the weather. Winter is Coming; he wondered how hard it was for her to resist saying her families words. He wondered how hard it would be to deny your own family so. “The weather is… nice, yes.” Elijah cared little to talk of the weather, there were always more pressing concerns than a slight breeze or drizzle of rain. “Are you hoping for such weather for your wedding, my lady?”
With a pleasant and appreciative smile, Sansa took his offered arm. It was nice of him to treat her as a true Lady, as she’d been born. Even since flowering she was treated half-Lady, half-traitor…or all prisoner, depending on who she was speaking too. The Lannisters never let her forget her place, and it was exhausting. But the Mikaelsons could be different, she’d found. Although Kol and Rebekah both made her nervous with their boldness, and Klaus with his dangerous tongue. Elijah was better, easier.
Sansa’s expression faltered slightly, and she forced her eyes away. “I hope for whatever would most pleased my beloved King, of course.” She said, voice nearly hallow, but pleasant enough. “Although I believe the Queen means for the ceremony to take place within the Sept, and thus weather will not be a concern.” She glanced back at Elijah. “Are you looking forward to the celebrations, my Lord? I have heard they are ordering quite a feasting. It is…humbling, although of course only appropriate for the King.”
Rebekah sat beside her, her eyes studying the far seas before turning to face the Stark. They had never gotten the chance to know one another during their stay in the capital, but somehow she knew she’d like her. “There’s no need to thank me, Sansa,” she smiled at her. “It’s the Lord Rhaegar you need to thank. He gave us all a shot at freedom.” And now she was a traitor. All of them were. Traitors. She could just imagine what her father would say. He’s probably disowned her by now, cursing her.
She couldn’t help but smile a little wider. “It was foolish, what I did. I didn’t have to escape. My family supplies the crown with half of its force and I could have had anything I ever wanted. And now I’m a traitor.” She looked down at her hands, sighing silently. “But I guess love makes a fool of us all.”
“When I have a chance, I shall thank him indeed.” Sansa said, a small smile on her face. She’d seen glimpses of Rhaegar Whiteash, but little more. He was a big man, intimidating, but she’d seen him interacting with Daniel and knew he had a gentleness, too. Still, she was somewhat nervous to speak to him. Her gratitude was great, but it was also wary. “Freedom is not something I had thought to have again so soon.”
She paused, lips pressing gently together. “Not just love, Lady Rebekah.” Sansa said, careful and quiet. “The need to be loved. I think it is a more powerful thing by far. For your heart can love so many, but what it truly needs is for someone to return that love as deeply as it is given.” Sansa shrugged, and looked away. She didn’t want to be imprudent, or imply that Rebekah’s family had not loved her. Surely they had, but they’d failed to show that to the Lady, that was also clear. “You did not want for money or jewels, my Lady. It is no shame to want something deeper, I hope.” Sansa reached out, tentatively touching Rebekah’s arm.