~Eddard | The Bastard~

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The brisk morning air fell over Winterfell making everything look dreary and ominous. The only sign that the place wasn't abandoned were the children happily fighting with wooden staffs. Why children were so excited to fight wars were lost on Ed. His lady sat a few feet away smiling fondly at him. Eddard stood from his chair and walked briskly to his lady, not wasting a moment before pressing his lips passionately to hers. The kiss was shortlived when a knock disrupted his peace with the love of his life.

"My Lord." A knight's presence broke the couple apart.

"What is it?" Eddard asked aggravated.

"Lord Cerwyn is here and requires your attention immediately. It's an emergency, My Lord." The knight said with a bow of allegiance.

The Lord turned to his Lady and gave her a parting smile before following Ser Elayne out of the room and through the halls of Winterfell.

"So what's this about exactly?" Ned asked impatiently.

"Lord Cerwyn was ambushed by men on his way here. He's in a lot of pain but the maester is doing his best. Even his best is not enough to save him and Maester Luwin suspects that he will be dead come nightfall." The two men left Lady Catelyn alone in the room as they briskly walked through the halls.

"Do we know who?" Ed turned to the knight.

"We suspect the Umbers, My Lord." The two men pushed open the doors to the maester's chambers.

Beyond the doors lied a weak man, breathing heavy and coughing. Ned looked at the man and to the maester who shook his head sadly to bind a secret conversation between the two. Ned stalked to Lord Cerwyn and looked the dying man in the eyes.

"Promise me, Ned. Promise me that you'll take care of her?" The man's words were filled with distraught.

"What's he speaking about?" Ed looked up at the knight.

A feeling of recognition washed over him when his dear friend spoke those words.

"My Lord." Ser Ryes' voice filled the silent room.

Ned turned to see the guard holding a bundled blanket in his arms. He held it with care almost which drawed Ned closer to see a sleeping child. She looked to be about no more than four years old and she was still very small, malnourished almost. Just like her father. The pair must've gone days without food and it was enough to show.

"Promise. Promise me, Ned."

"I-I promise."

The breaths of a once proud and loyal Lord was ceased forever after Ed spoke those words.

This same scenario seemed to have happened only a few years ago. Ned looked at the dead man before taking the babe out of the guards hands. Her breathing was rigid and unsteady.

"Let me see one of the arrows, Maester Luwin."

The old man handed the broken arrow to Ned. The Lord of Winterfell held the arrow in his hand and inspected the careful engravings and design.

"This is no Umber arrow. It's the Bolton's." Ed threw the arrow to the ground in exasperation.

"Different houses in the North are declaring war with each other now, is it?" Eddard asked rhetorically.

"What would you like us to do about this, My Lord?"

"Nothing for now. Let's let it settle for a few days. No fuss is needed right now, especially for the child." Eddard felt as if he couldn't handle this crippling stress anymore.

All of a sudden, a new responsibility was brought into his life wrapped up in a wool blanket and a wolf's pelt. His dear friend had just died and the responsibility of a Lord seemed too much at this time. With those thoughts, Ned left the room with the child in his arms. She was beginning to stir so Ned quickened his pace and soon made it to his and his wife's chambers.

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