What else was there to do in the winter?
The days were short and the nights were long, encouraging all sorts of mischief. And there was nothing better to do. It was hard to go to town when the snowdrifts were twice as tall and you were, and just passing a window was enough to drain all warmth from your body. There was nothing growing outside, so you could no longer pick flowers and lavender and put them into your bath, pretending that you were a lady with how nice it smelled. You couldn’t even go out to look. Even in a place as familiar to you as Winterfell, spending too long outside, what with the white snow above and below and all around, could easily make one disoriented. It could make one wander off and die of exposure. So really, there was nothing better to do than spend all your time inside, with your favorite activity.
That is – what else was there to do in the winter but stalk your king?
It wasn’t like you were doing it maliciously. You loved him. What servant girl didn’t? So handsome, so quiet, so brave. A knockout. And he had rescued Winterfell and put it back in the rightful hands of the Starks, after all. Sheer luck had let you survive the other bastard’s regime, due in no small part to your incredible knack for hiding. And now that your savior had returned, named King in the North no less, you were more than willing to put your powers to good use this time.
Winter was not slowing you down any, even though it was your first. It just made you feel stir-crazy, made you go mad and reckless. In a good way, you reasoned. Because how could it be bad, following that handsome king around (you could have crowned him the King of Love and Beauty, you knew), close enough to where you could reach out and touch him, and he – simply had no idea that you were even there? Because even with your heavy furs and boots, no one, not even him, noticed you. Being a servant had its invisibility perks, after all. So when you had a free moment and did not feel like lounging back in your quarters, you delighted in following him around, admiring him, pretending you were his wife, following him back to his bedchambers, listening to him talk about his day in that downtrodden tone.
Of course, you didn’t have to be his wife. He was the king and could take anything he wanted from his servants, whenever he liked. You were actually rueful that you knew he was too virtuous to actually do so. The poor, noble man. You were certain that all he needed was a good, exhausting romp in bed and his mood would improve at least a little. Or make him get a good night’s sleep, warm him up.
After all – what else was there to do in the winter?
As you thought this – well – your prey was indeed suspicious of something, though he wasn’t yet sure of what.
As he walked through the halls of Winterfell, Jon Snow could have sworn someone was following him. Close enough to touch, even. But whenever he stopped and turned, no matter how abruptly, he always found himself alone. No shadow, no empty spaces where someone else should be. Just him.
It was somewhat unsettling, of course. He wondered if winter was making him go mad far too early. He was certain, so certain he was alone. And yet he could not help but feel that he had a companion, someone with a shadow that watched him all day. So it unsettled him – but he wondered if he should feel comforted, too.
…Nope. Just unsettled.
Before he could consider getting Ghost to follow alongside him, just to be sure he wasn’t going insane, he turned once more and caught an unusual bouquet of a scent. It smelled like flowers, lavender, a bizarre thing to smell in this dead season. The memory of it came automatically – before all of this madness started, he recalled some servant girl who would take baths with such things, letting them float all around her. He had seen it once by accident, had gotten so ashamedly embarrassed at the sight, and had figured that she was doing so to impress one of the boys, likely Robb.
It was an easy impulse to ignore, and yet he could not fathom why he went ahead anyway and called out your name, doubtfully, from the direction you should have been following him from.
Instead you startled him by appearing from an ostensibly impossible direction, directly in front of his path, your head bowed respectfully as you asked, “Yes, my king?”
…Admittedly, the look on his face was well worth the trouble it took to follow him so carefully.
But what else was there to do in the winter?