CHAPTER 03 | MOONLIGHT

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Sometimes, all you can do is lie in bed, and hope to fall asleep before you fall apart.

Sometimes, all you can do is lie in bed, and hope to fall asleep before you fall apart

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CHAPTER 03 | MOONLIGHT

Ella wasn't allowed to go to the feast. She wasn't allowed to leave her cupboard of a room. And she wasn't allowed to speak to any of the Starks. These commands were all ordered by Cersei, and attached to those commands was a threat laced with malice.

She was sure her mother hated her, because she was left throughout the night without dinner, and left to listen to the boisterous talking that came from the banquet hall, the smell of roasted meat and vegetables wafting through the crack window.

The room was cold, rendering her fingertips frozen like ice and her cheeks scorned red. There was no light, besides the small window that shined through with silver and purple, evanescent moonlight. Ella paced in a continuous circle, reaching one side of the room and then the other, and then repeating herself. There was nothing to do. She was bored, hungry, and alone. She had never felt so useless. She was sure Cersei had just brought her along to show her that she would never be anything more than a handmaid.

Her mind drifted back to what happened earlier today. Her hands slightly ached underneath the bandages Robb had helped wrap around her wounds. She tried not to move them too much, in fear that she would split open a cut and be graced with warm, sticky blood.

His parting words were echoing faintly inside her head like a whisper, taunting her. She was to meet him at midnight at the hidden bench, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. She couldn't do it because if Cersei found out, she would surely find her head on a spike, and meeting in the dark with an heir to the Northern throne? She would look like a gold digger, power hungry, and if all went sideways; a whore.

Ella shook her head, deeply sighing as she saw her breath crystallize in the air. Taking a seat on the uncomfortable mattress that was supplied for her, Ella ran a hand through her unruly, blonde curls. "Just go to sleep, maybe he forgot all about you," she tried telling herself.

She fell back against the mattress, sinking through it to the floor almost immediately. So much for a comfortable night, she thought grimly to herself.

Staring up at the ceiling, Ella pictured the rotting wood transforming into the sky, full of stars and the illuminating moon. She pictured the tops of burly pine trees and miles of rivers and lakes carving away into the barren landscape of Winterfell. She pictured a better life, one where she was someone else, a happier version of herself. She lived on a farm, maybe a tavern, where she tended to the horses and baked in the kitchen. She made her new family happy, and they were grateful that she was theirs. And along the way, she fell in love. She was finally happy, she was warm and loved and everything she wasn't now.

But it was all a dream. A long, forgotten dream full of lies.

* * *

"Next time, aim when Mum isn't looking," a voice rattled through the walls of her room, waking Ella slowly into consciousness.

"It was funny though, wasn't it?" A smaller voice confided to the other, a smile on their face. Laughter passed her room, and a faint response drifted down the hall.

Ella pushed herself up, groaning as she felt her back ache tremendously. Her hair fell in a blonde sheet of curls, and her eyelids were drooping as she staggered to her feet. She acted as though she was being woken after a thousand-year slumber. Her hands grappled at the doorknob, and surprisingly, it wasn't locked.

She stepped out into the hallway, the floorboards unforgivingly creaking under her feet. A torch was lit at the very end of the hall, and the door was propped open, where the two voices must have resided. Ella stood there for a moment, waiting, watching for something to happen. But nothing did, and she was left looking like a drunken fool. She turned back to her room, which she noticed now was actually a closet with a mattress shoved into it. Ella sighed.

"Who's there?" She heard a door shut, and footsteps nearing closer and closer to her.

She spun around, and her lips parted and her hands twitched under the bandages. Robb, her mind murmured.

His hair fell over his forehead and his eyebrows were knitted into confusion as he stepped into the light coming from a blazing torch. "You? What are you doing here?" He asked, confused and with accusation on the tip of his tongue.

Ella glanced behind him and then behind herself; they were alone. Her eyes met his. "Ella, my name is Ella," she whispered. She watched for a second as his face morphed into one of relief, but the confusion still lingered.

"Why are you here, Ella?" Her name rolling off his tongue was like smoke curling away from a blow out candle, surrounding her and filling up her lungs. It was dangerously intoxicating.

Her eyes darted to the closet. "I sleep here."

Robb looked into the crammed space, where her trunk full of clothes sat against a mattress that looked to be a hundred years old. He grimaced as he saw a spider falling from the ceiling on a silver string. "You. . . sleep there?" He looked more confused than ever, and Ella saw him look more like his father than himself in that moment. "But why? Didn't you come with the King?"

Ella nodded. She had to choose her words carefully, because if she let her mouth take control of her mind she would be swimming in deep waters. "I'm Cersei – Queen Cersei's handmaid, and this is where I am to sleep."

Robb frowned, "maids are supposed to sleep in the east wing."

"I'm a special kind of maid," she laughed to herself, finding the joke amusing.

Robb shook his head, "you can't sleep here." He thought for a moment before grabbing her wrist and tugging her along, "I shouldn't be doing this, but I can't leave you in there."

"What are talking about? Where are you taking me?" She asked, nervously glancing around to see if any of the Baratheon children were mucking around the halls. She was most particularly worried about Joffrey seeing her.

"I'm taking you to my room." Robb looked over to Ella to see her face struck with worry. He smiled. "Don't worry, I'm not going to pull anything on you. You're one of the few company I enjoy."

Ella nodded silently, letting Robb lead the way to his quarters. She felt exposed, like a nerve, and she wasn't sure how long it would be until Cersei found her missing.

A/N: it's been awhile, but I've managed to post this, so yay me. It's not very interesting, but I've got to build up Robb and Ella's relationship, so thanks to those of you who are still reading this story ahah. I promise the story will pick up the pace, but I just need to get everything into place before shit hits the fan.

important note*: as stated in the beginning of this story, there will be vague sexual content, swearing, graphic violence, and adult content. this is just another warning, to those of you who skipped or missed something in the beginning.

thank you for reading, I'll be seeing you all soon enough! xx

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