Chapter Twenty Eight:: Storms

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The rest of the week went by quickly. Raina failed to do much in the passing days, and mostly spent her time in the company of Rodrik and Gared. Her brother's were otherwise preoccupied with their father, and their grief, and no Stark had been seen for days. In all honesty, the Forresters were the only ones Raina would have wanted to be with, during that time. They weren't family, and they weren't looking at her with an uncertain amount of betrayal in their eyes, they'd known all along, and had been at her side the entire time. She'd been close to them since she could walk, and here they were, still; it only seemed fitting that she spend the time with them. They knew Esme too, they'd grown up with her as they had with the other Glovers, and they had nothing but sympathy for Raina, and her family, despite how much she hated it. She didn't want people feeling sorry for her, it shouldn't have any bearing on them how she felt, or what had happened in her life, they were her problem to deal with, no one else's. Rodrik was good at not bringing it up; he didn't mention Esme, or Raina's family at all in the days they spent in each other's company, he even avoided talking of Robb when possible, just to make it easier on her. It didn't do a great deal and extinguishing her guilt, but it was comforting to know her close friend was at least being considerate of her situation. 

She wished she'd seen him in over the week, it probably would have made the scar burn more, but at least she'd be able to see how he was doing. With him not having shown his face, not even to his small council, in so long, it had everyone worrying about him, Raina more so than anyone else. She wondered if it was her fault, if maybe she'd upset him so much, betrayed him beyond repair, that he'd chosen solitary confinement rather than risking facing her anytime soon. She couldn't blame him for it if that was his mentality, as she'd very much considered the same thing - and probably would have enacted it had Rodrik not dragged her from her bed every morning since Robb found out. But she couldn't help but be concerned, she couldn't even tell if he was acting better than how he actually felt, because it had been so long since she'd seen him last, and spending so long without his presence was not helping the guilt that still waned on her through every moment that had passed. 

She hated it. The idea that when she would next see him, the pleasant acknowledgement that had been in his eyes for the past year would no longer be there, and instead she would be no more than a stranger to him. He didn't know if what had happened between them over however many months had been a lie, or whether some of it had truly been her; he didn't know anything. She wanted the chance to talk to him about it, to explain the situation and her reasons, but then again what was the point? Not even she could explain her lack of faith in him, and she knew no words she could come up with would heal the wound she'd made in him. Maybe things would just be better this way. 

A storm had been raging for some time now, and everyone hauled up within the safe confines of Riverrun, it's walls protecting them from the howling winds that beat away at everything in it's path. It was entertaining to watch, as banners flayed widely outside, and rain pelted the window like a flurry of arrows coming down at once. It was enough to at least preoccupy Raina in the passing hours, when she had nothing else to do but stare aimlessly at the landscape beyond the settlement. She was never one to really enjoy being cooped up all day, and so she began to get restless, wanting to do anything that wasn't sitting around, bored. She wanted to run, practice, anything that had her moving. She couldn't even walk around the building, in fear of encountering her father, or Robb. All that she could do was stay with the Forresters, and hope the storm passed quickly. 

"You used to love running in the rain," Rodrik mused, his presence now noticeably closer to Raina than it had been previously. "I suppose I've just grown up..." Raina sighed, bowing her head and finally diverting her gaze from the alluring window in front of her. Rodrik released a ragged breath too, shaking his head and placing a sensitive hand, reassuringly, on her shoulder. "You know, you haven't fucked everything up completely. You still have a life, Raina, don't get caught up in this," Rodrik exclaimed wisely, sounding very much like his father, "If I know Robb, he will soon forget this, and move past it. You are his friend, and you've been together since before you could walk, I doubt one explainable hitch will ruin your relationship forever," Raina couldn't help but hear some sense in his words, it didn't dismay the ever growing loss that stirred within her stomach, but it did help her to see how pathetic she was being by sulking like a child until Robb forgave her. She had grown up, and with age came responsibility and maturity. She needed to take control of her life, and accept the choices she's made as final, and move past them. She didn't tell Robb, it was a split second decision and from that moment on it became instinct, especially with her father being so close to the King at all times; there was nothing that could be done about all that now. If Rodrik was in fact right, the King would hopefully see that too. Soon. 

"I suppose you are right," Raina smiled faintly, turning away from the window entirely, focusing her gaze on the dimly lit room in which the pair had curled up in. The room was sparse with furniture, and even the occasional object that did fill the room, was poorly crafted, and hardly what would be found elsewhere in the keep. They were in the barracks, a place the King would surely not 'accidently' run into Raina anytime soon, and the only possibility of being found was by her brothers, or Rodrik's father. Not even Lord Glover would venture this far below the keep. "I meant to tell you..." Raina began, reaching for the crumpled piece of parchment, still located in her pocket despite the trouble it had caused in the past. "I received this some weeks ago. I...I think you can guess who it's from," Raina spoke shyly, scared Rodrik would scold her for keeping this, especially when considering whom it was that had sent it to her in the first place. "Asher," Rodrik whispered, passing the coin through his calloused fingers, and staring intently at the initial, "You shouldn't have-" "I know. But I had to...You know I miss him, Rodrik, we all do. This was all I have of him now, and the only sign of him still being alive. It's the only hope of got, and I wasn't going to give that up, not now," Raina reached for the parchment once again, running her soft fingertips along the letter one final time, before returning it to whence it came. "I understand. Just don't let my father see that, or he'll burn it with everything else," Rodrik replied solemnly, a hint of disgust lurking in his tone when speaking of his brother and father's relationship. It had been a hideous ordeal, Asher's banishment, and despite Asher's tendencies to misbehave, his parents had never been as ruthless in punishment as they were on that day. All the Forresters, and Raina, had believed it to be a mercy, that he would only be banished and not executed -as had been requested by Ludd- but it was still traumatizing for them all, even to this day. 

"Rodrik! You are wanted upstairs!" Echoed a voice, which Raina recognised as one of Lord Umber's squires, coming from the entrance to the barracks. "Thank you," Rodrik nodded to the squire, who scuttled away just as quickly as he'd come. "Can I come?" Raina asked quickly, jolting to her feet before Rodrik had even inched in his seat. "Raina-" He challenged, though was too quickly cut off to voice his point. "I will come back immediately, I swear, I just need a walk. Please." She begged, desperate to go anywhere that wasn't so dank and disturbing as this place. She could not even sit outside, where no one would dare seek her out, she would be safe out there, somewhere in the vast stretch of land surrounding Riverrun, but that wasn't a possibility currently. "Fine." Rodrik gave in, a serious expression scarred onto his mature features, "Just behave." And with that added, he stalked towards the stairs, not bothering to slow down for the girl to catch up, only focusing on getting there as quickly as possible, so that she would not be at risk of being spotted by her father. 

Once in the corridors of Riverrun, the stone walls matching the murky grey that haunted the air outside, Raina matched Rodrik's pace, casting fleeting glances as she walked along cautiously. It was only when hearing the familiar voice of her brothers that she dared pause in her step, looking immediately to where they were speaking. "Raina?" Delvin whispered aggressively, all but running to her as quickly as he could, Finn trailing behind at the same speed, both looking severely annoyed at the young girl. "You need to leave," Finn snapped quickly, head whipping around to stare at the corner ahead of them. "What's wrong?" Rodrik was quick to ask, his eyes locking with Delvin's as they both shared a moment of panic. "It's-" Delvin began, his voice drowned out by the loud yelling that came from the corridor ahead. It was a voice that chilled the group to their bones, more so than anything they could have predicted. Raina, despite having the urge to flee, and hide, as always, merely froze. Awaiting the inevitable appearance of a familiar face, that was mere seconds away. 

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