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Das Lied von Eis und Feuer
protego_maxima
The rooftops of Winterfell were Bran’s second home. His mother often said that Bran could climb before he could walk.

Lord Stark. There are five pups. One for each of the Stark children. The direwolf is the sigil of your house. They were meant to have them.

At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. “The heart tree,” Ned called it. The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle’s granite walls rise around them. It was said that the children of the forest had carved the faces in the trees during the dawn centuries before the coming of the First Men across the narrow sea.

I dreamt that the sea came to Winterfell. I saw waves crashing against the gates and the water came flowing over the walls…looded the castle. Drowned men were floating here in the yard. Ser Rodrik was one of them.

He missed his true brothers: little Rickon, bright eyes shining as he begged for a sweet; Robb, his rival and best friend and constant companion; Bran, stubborn and curious, always wanting to follow and join in whatever Jon and Robb were doing. He missed the girls too, even Sansa, who never called him anything but “my half brother” since she was old enough to understand what bastard meant. And Arya… he missed her even more than Robb, skinny little thing that she was, all scraped knees and tangled hair and torn clothes, so fierce and willful. Arya never seemed to fit, no more than he had… yet she could always make Jon smile. He would give anything to be with her now, to muss up her hair once more and watch her make a face, to hear her finish a sentence with him. - Jon III, A Game of Thrones

Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.

Fly, a voice whispered in the darkness, but Bran did not know how to fly, so all he could do was fall.

He wished Robb were with them now. I’d tell him I could fly, but he wouldn’t believe, so I’d have to show him. I bet that he could learn to fly too, him and Arya and Sansa, even baby Rickon and Jon Snow. We could all be ravens and live in Maester Luwin’s rookery.
-- Bran’s POV in A Dance with Dragons.

We'll be there one day, you and me. It will be an adventure.

The stone is strong, Bran told himself, the roots of the trees go deep, and under the ground the Kings of Winter sit their thrones. So long as those remained, Winterfell remained. It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I’m not dead either.

What was he now? Only Bran the broken boy, Brandon of House Stark, prince of a lost kingdom, lord of a burned castle, heir to ruins.

If he had been given a map, he wouldn’t be able to tell you where they were. They had wandered deep into the Wolfswood, Winterfell a distant memory. He could close his eyes and picture the towers, the crows that flew, the laughs that used to fill the hall. Now all it held were memories and bodies. Despair and ruin filled his home that he could no longer call home. He remembered so much from Winterfell, the stones and the halls he’d crawled through, and walked through and crawled away now kept away from him. He longed to sleep in his bed, and beside the small pond in the Godswood. The wind would blow the red leaves and Bran would look at the face in the tree and pray for Robb’s victory and for all his family would return to him and baby Rickon.

Though he wasn’t, and all the trees he had were normal trees, their bark was darker, their leaves not red but green. He couldn’t see the towers of Winterfell, and the smoke that they could see, the trail back home had been distanced from them. Though they were still trees, and everything was connected. Everything he knew. The roots ran beneath the earth, intertwining, linking the trees together. So, as long as he was by a tree, he could feel the spirit of his Gods, the Gods of his father, and wherever that was, he could be home. He grasped the handholds on the basket tighter giving himself something distract his mind. There wasn’t much else he could do. When they marched, he sat in the basket at Hodor’s back and didn’t speak much. Nothing could be said anyway, silence consumed them apart from Osha telling them that they could stop for a while to which Rickon always ran around the immediate vicinity Shaggydog on his heels.

There was nothing but monotony in their day to day marches. Beneath the cover of the trees, and only at day. Stopping at night was critical. Especially with Rickon prone to running off when the fancy struck him. More often than not Meera or Osha took off after him. It infuriated Bran. It was supposed to be his job to keep him safe, the only member of his family that remained with him. That remained safe. Though they were hardly safe, and Bran could hardly go running after him unless he told Hodor to. He told him every night not to run off, that he might get lost. The little boy would always reply tiredly, mummbling about Shaggy being with him.

At times they’d reach a clearing that they couldn’t walk through until Osha deemed it safe. It seemed as though they were getting deeper and deeper into the forest. Here the world was untouched, it was the wild country. The trees grew dense, and roots went unbidden. Once, Hodor had accidently tripped and Bran went sprawling out of the basket. Everyone had panicked checking Bran and making sure if he was okay. He all yelled at them to not worry, and make sure Hodor was the one that wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t. Osha stayed close by, they all did, Rickon’s hand was always in hers so he wouldn’t go running off. She’d said that Wildlings lived on this side of the wall and they could be nearby. The woods offered cover and safety. Luckily no encounters had occurred thus far, even so, tensions were high the farther north they went, and nights had gone quiet.

Jojen and Meera had even stopped talking aside from odd times when they stopped or at the end of a night’s march when they’d gather around a fire if it was safe. Bran wished that he could’ve done something more for all of his friends, for his family. Now there was nothing that could stop their mother and brother from recieving news. The worst kind of news. He wish he could fly, take Rickon with him, and well Meera and Jojen would follow behind on giant frogs. Okay, so that’d been a dream he had last night. It didn’t mean that he didn’t sincerly wish that they were going south.

He didn’t care if it was dangerous, they’d find Robb and he’d look after them, and they’d see their mother again. They’d win the war and Sansa would not have to marry Joffrey. And they’d find Arya. More than anything he just wanted his family together. He rested his head against Hodor’s back, Hodor let out a soft comforting, “Hodor.” as he continued to walk. The soft stomping of his feet, it was a sort of music, a lullaby that took Bran to where he could walk and fly and be a wolf.

Sometimes Old Nan would tell the same story she’d told before, but we never minded, if it was a good story. Old stories are like old friends, she used to say. You have to visit them from time to time.

“What are you staring at, boy, never seen a woman before?”

“I have so” Bran had bathed with his sisters hundred of times.

I have a hole where my heart should be, she thought, and nowhere else to go

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