Chapter Fourteen::Gared Tuttle

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Finn knew. And with that came a warm sense of security that accompanied family. They were siblings, yes, but before the war, before the business with Raina and her father and before the children grew up, they had also been friends. And now, after many years of being distanced from her brother, Raina had something that resembled their old relationship. She had a friend. A friend different to Rodrik, or the King, who knew very little about her compared to Finn, this was a friend that knew every tiny detail of her life from the moment she came into it. And now, forced out of hiding from him, Raina had that back. The familiar, weariness, that haunted her was still there, only now it remained dulled by her brother's presence; a brother who had vowed to protect her as he always had, even if that meant lying to his father and his King. Raina had not asked it of him, she had almost been prepared to turn herself in, but it was Finn whom argued for her safety, wanting her to enjoy her life, and not be married to a monster such as Ramsay Snow. This only amplifying the happiness Raina felt with her brother back at her side.

Today was, as any other in the North, gloomy and dull. The murky clouds tumbled overhead and blurred the sky with multiple shades of grey, casting a looming shadow over the land below. A land in which the King and his men had settled for a day's rest. They travelled to Storm's End, where Robb intended on making an alliance with King Renly. Storm's End, from what Raina had read, lined the coast and was now under the lordship, and rule, of Renly, younger brother of the deceased Robert Baratheon. He was not the only alleged King in Westeros at this time; there were five in total. Renly, his older brother Stannis, Balon Greyjoy, Joffrey, Robert's son and heir, and Robb. Raina had never been overly fussed about whom it was sat on the Iron Throne up until now, as it never bared any difference to those in the North, as long as House Stark were the wardens everything remained in check. When that started to falter, it brought with it untold chaos amongst the Northerns, and suddenly what happened in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms mattered a hell of a lot more. Robb, concerned for his family and his people, had thought an alliance with the more reasonable of the 4 other kings would spare those under his rule unnecessary harm and potentially the loss of their lives. It hadn't been his initial plan, but seeing what war had brought in the passing months, he had decided it would be the best option for them.

It had been so long since the King had spoke with Raina that it had almost begun to feel like she didn't know him at all, he was just fading back to the distant memory he had been up until now. They'd acknowledged each other rarely and with Raina's desperate need for evasion, spending time with the King had become a secondary priority. Not that that was what she wished for, if she could have it her way she'd be with him every moment she could, but it appeared this was how it would turn out. Her darting through gaps in tents, hoping she would not be seen by her father or his men, and the King stressing over battle plans and future arrangements, hardly ever socialising with those outside of his small council. Rodrik informed her of the happenings of the King, but those snippets of his life were hardly varied, only ever being a continuation of his ongoing stress or whatever news of battle he'd announced to his men. It was upsetting to think Raina had gotten so close, only now to have her father, yet again, get in the way of her newly recovered happiness. The only light shed on the whole scenario being her reformed bond with her brother and her old friends outside of the Starks. It was fair to say she's missed them dearly, but not nearly as much as she had missed Robb. Or rather how much she did miss Robb.

With the overcast weather damping the spirits of the men, Raina easily found her way through the muddied paths to where she presumed the Forresters, or at least her brother, would have been, without any interruptions or need for drastic exits. She arrived to a huddle of benches, that circled an open fire pit, one with a roaring flame that licked up at the sky and shed warmth on the surrounding cold. It was a refreshing warmth that Raina had missed on her long walk across the camp, though one she would soon forget. When approaching, the familiar boom of her brother's voice was non-diegetic, though she recognised it instantly, urging her closer. "Where is the godforsaken wine!" He'd yelled with an evidently irritated tone, his arm flailing widely in the arm, his calloused hands gripped a hold of an old, metal tankard. "Bit early for drinking?" Raina replied casually, stepping nearer to the slouched man, who's face brightened at the sight of his younger sister. "Never." He smirked in reply, sitting up straighter; "Tuttle!" He shouted after a pause, "the wine!" His tone grew more agitated, clearly in raged by the poor service and displaying the family trait of impatience. "Leave the poor boy go!" Raina exclaimed, only then noting the squire that of which her brother had been barking orders at for however long. "He's a Forrester." She added with a stubborn gaze, her obvious irritation now shared between the two siblings. At this her brother's shoulders fell in defeat, slumping backwards in his seat with an expression showing that of a moody child. "Raina!" Gared beamed, wandering closer to the pair with a jug of wine in hand, his smile growing at the sight of an old friend. Gared was adopted by his uncle when he was 15, to attend Lord Gregor. It had been then that him and Raina first met at Ironrath, and since had been good friends. "Gared!" Raina smiled back, jogging over to the squire for an embrace. He placed down the jug of wine and gladly shared a hug with his old friend.

"Don't you have some chores or training to do, Ray?" Her brother taunted, eyeing her cautiously. Turning to her brother, she spotted someone approaching over his shoulder, someone that was not the King. "Ah yes. Must be off, nice seeing you Gared." And with that she dashed off toward an unoccupied pathway where she could attempt an escape. Her brother had seen him first, their father, making his way across the camp with a gleeful step. This wasn't the first opportunity her brother had assisted her at, warning her of their new company at many different occasions, and sparing her the potential damage of reuniting with her father. He understood how far she'd come, and all that she'd done, to get to safety. And he wasn't going to be the one to ruin that.

Weaving through paths and tents, Raina glanced back, in hopes her brother had found an excuse for why Galbart should not follow the same route as her, or at least had managed to postpone his walk long enough for her to get a good distance away. It was only as she peered over her shoulder that her escape came to a brutal end, as her body collided with that of another.

She winced. Thinking of all the potential people that she might have run into. A guard perhaps, one with her father that would recognise the missing daughter on sight. "Ray!" They exclaimed, only advancing Raina's fears and uncertainty. The King. Of course it was Robb, it had to be, with Raina's streak of bad luck recently she was surprised she'd thought it to be anyone but the King. She opened her eyes, sparing the briefest of moments to marvel in awe of that handsome man towering over her, who's face she had not seen so close in some time. "Your grace, I'm so sorry i-" she stammered, dusting off her leathers in hopes she did not look a complete mess. "It's quite alright, Ray." The King chuckled, his smile resembling the same brightness of the setting sun on the horizon. She'd all but forgotten how astonishingly beautiful he was at such close range. "I haven't seen you in quite some time," he added, bowing his head as though the thought saddened him somewhat, "how have you been keeping?" The look of hope that sparked in his sea-blue eyes held Raina for a moment, as she merely thought over every feature of him that she fell for. "I've been well, thank you." She smiled sweetly, her gaze finally matching with King's as they paused for a moment, staring at one another with an anonymous expression. "And yourself?" She asked quickly, trying her best to look away from the man in front of her. "I've been well." He nodded, also diverting his gaze. "I've missed your company, perhaps we should fight again soon?" He challenged, a familiar smirk arising on his perfectly formed mouth. "I would like that, your grace." Raina bowed, trying to conceal the spreading grin and blush she presumed would soon appear on her face. For the briefest of moments her father meant nothing, she could've been caught in 5 minutes and she wouldn't have cared, her brother and friends all dissolved into noise, in the background, leaving space for this moment to be the best, and the only thing Raina wished to think of.

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