CHAPTER 02 | HAILSTONE

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She was just ice, trapped and cold, fending the warmth to save her soul.

CHAPTER 02 | HAILSTONE

Winterfell was a barren place full of low temperatures and forests. From what Ella could see through the window cut into the wall of her carriage, it was full of dark green hills, tall pines and in the distance, a strong castle stood surrounded by walls. Majestic it was, with gray walls and blue flags with the head of a Dire Wolf rumbling against the wind.

She mentally prepared herself for what was to happen next. She was left in the dark as to why she was to truly go to Winterfell, and she knew it wasn't just to be Cersei's handmaiden. With Cersei, nothing was ever exact, not when everything in that woman's head was twisted with power and pleasure for only herself. Ella couldn't trust Cersei with her life, especially not when the woman was the one holding it on a silver string with a pair of scissors in her hand.

The wheels of the carriage slid in the mud as the carriage turned swiftly toward the entrance of the castle, pulling Ella from the window as she rubbed her red nose from the wind. Her heart raced in her chest as she thought back to Tiana and what she would do. But Tiana wasn't there, which meant Ella had to trust her instincts.

Ella spread her hands on the wrinkles bent into the fabric of her dress. It was her favorite dress, but not the best for the cold, and she knew that if she didn't look presentable for the Starks, Cersei would later punish her for it by doing a preposterous task that involved cleaning for hours on end.

Ella shivered as the carriage pulled through the tall walls of the castle, where she saw the Stark family in line and already greeting the Lannister's. Ella waited inside her carriage until they were done with the formalities and her carriage door opened, not caring much for where she stepped as she got out of the confined space with her small amount of luggage waiting for her. In her worn out shoes, Ella's nails gripped at the skin of her palms as she rested her foot on the last step, fully knowing that she wasn't going to be able to hold her own balance without falling on her ass.

Her left foot twisted as it hit the slippery ground, ripping an audible gasp from her throat as she hit the ground, scraping her hands and knees in the process. She turned her head into the dirt to see a shadow of a kid climbing up the side of a wall, and then dark leather boots that blocked her vision. Ella sucked in a harsh breath of air as she saw who was hovering over her.

Tall and undeniably attractive, Lord Robb Stark was trying to bite back a grin as he stared down at Ella. She wanted to curl up into a frozen ball of blonde curls and freeze to death then and there, but Robb had other ideas in mind as he grabbed her from under her arms and lifted her up like a rag doll. Ella could feel her hands stinging and coated red with her blood. Robb broke out into a smile at her befuddled state.

"Quite a fall you took there," he commented, looking down to her hands to see that they were dripping blood into the ground at their feet. "You're hurt," he frowned, "come with me, I know the way to the healers."

He started to drag Ella away from the carriage as the guard who had stood by and opened the door for her was watching in surprise, his eyes searching over the connection he assumed Ella had with the heir to Winterfell. Yet Ella was just as shocked as he.

She could feel Robb's grip against her the thin fabric of her dress and around the flesh of her exposed wrist. Her hands stung with a numbing pain but the way Robb was mindlessly touching her took away from the cuts for just a moment. He brought her down to a part of the castle where a sign hung under the door; 'healer'. Ella tried to wrack her brain to figure out how she was going to repay a Lord for helping her out and nothing came to mind. She owned nothing but the clothes on her back and the minuscule amount of luggage she brought.

Robb was talking to the older woman behind the counter and retrieved a few medical equipment and afterward pushing Ella outside and leading her down another winding path to a bench underneath a walkway attached to the upper level. He breathed out in relief as Ella warily sat down on the slab of wood. He opened a bottle of alcohol and took her left hand, spreading her hand open to expose the fresh wounds.

Ella furrowed her brow at his kind actions. "What are you doing?"

He chuckled, "cleaning your wound, what does it look like?"

She shook her head, letting go a frustrated sigh as she felt the alcohol being poured into her cuts. She groaned at the sting it left, her fingers tempted to close into a fist. "I meant to say, why are you helping me?"

Robb looked up from his task, the bandages resting in his hands. He looked down at her attire for a second to notice that she was wearing servant clothes and she wasn't the cleanest woman he had ever seen. He doubted himself, but then he met her eyes and he knew what he was doing was right. "You're hurt, anyone would've helped you if they had a brain."

"Well," Ella let him take her other hand, cradling her bandaged one to her stomach. "Thank you."

He nodded silently, a passive expression crossing his face. He poured the alcohol and she flinched at the abrupt contact. His hand gripped hers tighter. "Okay?" He asked.

She nodded, her eyes not able to meet his. "Fine."

"You know," he grabbed the bandages again, "most girls I know would be crying during all of this."

Ella felt the corners of her lips turn upward, "you must not know a lot of girls then."

Robb smiled, "no, not girls like you, I suppose."

She looked away, her eyes finding everything interesting but the figure in front of her. He's a stranger, she reminded herself. Hell, he's going to be the Warden of the North once his father steps down, so why was he helping her? She was nothing but a maid, close to the bottom of the social ladder. And that meant she would never be anything more than that. But he, he would go on to marry a princess or an actual lady.

Once he was finished, Ella stood up and he followed right after. "I really have to go, I'm probably being looked for," she explained.

Robb nodded understandingly, "of course." She turned to leave, "but do I not get to know your name before you go?"

She bit her lip, debating whether or not she should tell him. If Cersei found out she was with him. . . . "I'm sorry," she backed away, "I really must leave. Goodbye, Lord Stark." She bowed her head and began moving away from him at a much faster pace.

"Meet me here at Midnight, tonight." Was his only response back as she left him at the bench.

Ella felt her heart grip in her chest as she pulled her arms tighter around her body. Robb Stark was on her consciousness and she didn't know what turmoil he would bring to her and the others around them. She couldn't see him again, for the sake of her life and what it would do in the long run.

A/N: I'm so sorry for taking so long to update this story, school has been such a bitch lately. hopefully this chapter makes up for it. also, I can't believe this story is almost at 1k, that's incredible! thank you to all who are reading this, it means a whole lot to me!

ps. if you want more got stories, go read my Jon Snow fic that's in my profile! xx

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