Merry as I was - Chapter 1


Modern AU/ Serious OOC/ Stannis x Davos / Robert  x Ned/ Renly x Loras/ Rickon x Shireen

(Mostly this was just me…imagining what would happen if Stannis was treated well by his family, while Davos was tortured by his life).


The tall hall of uncle Robert’s Red Keep was filled with noise.

Shireen heard the sound of wood cracking in the hearth, of footmen running back and fro with plates after plates in their hands, of dogs, of clinking glasses, and of the storm-like laughter of uncle Robert.

She sat quietly in her chair, feeling the warmth of the fire on her back. Unlike her father, she quite enjoyed a gathering like this. A little liveliness, a little joy, and even a little argument were totally welcome. This was how a big family was supposed to feel like, Shireen always believed. Noisy, yet welcoming.

She turned to look at her father, and he returned a glance, almost kindly.

It was Seven’s Eve after all.

Rickon Stark sat in a chair beside her, Shaggydog laid by his feet. Light of the hearth shone on his red hair, his freckles, and that goofy, silly smile she adored.

“Did anyone tell you what that mark of yours looked like?” The wild boy whispered, lips almost touching her ear.

“It sure did not look like anything to me. What idea have you now in your crazy little head?” She laughed a little at Rickon and rubbed his hand lightly.

“It looked like a map of Great Septania, Shireen. You’ll see it too when you look closely. Maybe one day you’ll be Queen! I’ll cheer for you on your coronation.”

“Nonsense Rickon. The Royal Family had no son, how am I to marry one and be queen.”

Even if there was a prince, she would not be the one chosen and she did not want to be. It did not matter, she was a Baratheon and she did not want to be anything else.

The boy gave her a bright witty grin. “Who said they had no son! One might be in this room right now, you never know.”

But there couldn’t be. Rickon was jesting, that was all. He always liked to tease her.

Shaggydog ran toward Nymeria. Rickon kissed Shireen’s hand, then slipped away to sit by Arya.

They looked so different, Shireen thought as she observed the room. Although none of the Stark children were Eddard’s own, it was still striking to realized how Arya was similar to her father, whereas Robb, Bran, and Rickon looked nothing like him.

The two elder Stark boys sat by their father next to uncle Robert. Sansa, with irritation written on her face, was stuck with Arya and Rickon on the other side of the hearth, just across from Shireen.

Arya pocked Rickon’s back and mocked at something. Shireen thought Rickon would start a usual fight with Arya, but to her surprise, he did not. He looked…queerly shy. Arya turned and shot Shireen a big warm smile.

Shireen sighed in her head. Rickon, as everyone knew, was wild. The only one who beat him easily on such matter could only be Arya, his sister who possessed a pair of piercing eyes that saw all. Their little quarrels at school became a part of Shireen’s everyday life, and it was good and comforting to see, especially when uncle Robert’s laugh and her own father’s growl were starting to make her a little worried.

Uncle Robert was having too good of a time with his beloved Stark at the middle of the table, so was uncle Renly with his beloved Tyrell on a pile of cushions in a corner of the room. Shireen couldn’t help but search for his father. Of course, he was utterly alone, sitting at the edge of the table filled with a great spread of dinner. For two years he was alone. Who was it that she expected to see with him? Shireen had no answer.

The fire of the hearth burned hot and high. Shireen looked at the scattered groups of people in this way too empty hall. No one really mingled, except the occasional stirring among the children. They were broken islands in a stormy sea, she thought, each little group of people was a little peek of rock, separated by the dark and raging voids in between.

What a loving family she had.

She expected nothing more to happen that night. Seven’s Eve had always ended that way, every year that she remembered. The gathering for festival always began with a loud feast that everyone talked to everyone. That was the part Shireen liked. She loved to soak herself in the stories of the adults and the small talks of the younger that made her feel warm and not lonely. However, this inclusive friendliness always faded away after the feast was done. A table of people scattered, looking just like a whole continent breaking apart. People liked to form little groups, Shireen knew, they did this at school too.

Shireen sat up straight and looked at her father. It was almost time. She was sure father would announce their leave very soon. Things happen in an ordinary pattern in normal years, and unlike the Seven’s Eve two years ago, this was a normal year, surely the patterns would repeat itself.

“Gather around! Gather around the Fire!” A booming voice made Shireen jump to her feet.

For a second there, she did not know what to do.

What was this? Nothing like this happened before.

Shireen looked around and saw that she was not the only one confused. Uncle Robert, with his hands on Mr. Stark’s lean waist, walked toward the fire and sat on the carpet. The Stark boys followed them like cubs following the head wolf. Sansa walked gracefully behind, almost alongside Stannis, stiff as always. Rickon and Arya ran toward her, each taking one of her hands, and they sat in a huddle by the fire. The last to arrive was uncle Renly and Mr. Loras. They rose reluctantly from their soft pile of pillows and walked slowly to the hearth with hands held together.

Shireen almost wanted to protest. We all know you are in love, she wanted to say. There was no point to show off like that.

Maybe her discomfort was too obvious, Arya and Rickon each whispered in her year, making a strange echoing effect.

“Love needs to be expressed, Shireen.” A girls voice said.

“Or else no one will know it exists.” A boys voice this time.

“I have always wondered how are you not afraid of your father.”

“Not everyone can see unspoken love like you do, Baratheon.”

They giggled and removed their lips from her ears.

Uncle Robert clicked a spoon again his cut wine glass, and the room fell silent.

“I’ve decided to do something different this year. Ned said in Winterfell they used to share stories with the family on Seven’s Eve.” He paused, took a sip from his glass, and put a strong arm on Mr. Stark’s shoulder. “ Well then, story time, starting this year, with the family.”

Shireen couldn’t help but cheer.

She has always loved stories. She read well, she rented movies to watch, and she tried to dig personal stories out of his father. Unfortunately, the latter was always unsuccessful. Tonight she was offered a great chance, she thought, to get to know more about her relatives.


It was Stannis who spoke. Uncle Robert squinted his eyes and looked at him.


“It is late, and Storm’s End is far. Shireen and I are to leave.”

Uncle Robert furrowed his brow in displeasure, but before he could say a word, Mr. Stark waved his hand and silence him.

“Mr. Stannis,” the Quiet Wolf spoke in a soft low voice.  “It is already dark outside, unsuitable for driving. Stay, please, until the morning. We all want you and Shireen safe. My Arya and Rickon certainly want to stay longer with Shireen, they are very fond of her.”

Stannis’s face was unreadable, and he did not say a word.

Arya and Rickon popped their heads up and looked at Stannis. “Please,” their eyes seemed to say.

Stannis nodded finally.

Eddard Stark looked at Robert, then gazed back at Stannis, his grey eyes gleaming in the shimmer of fire. “Thank you. We promise that we will not force you to tell a story, good sir.”

It was a joke, Shireen knew, to ease the nerves of her father. However, Stannis took it seriously.

“I will share.” He said, curt as ever. “To not spoil the fun, as Robert would accuse me of.”

Shireen saw uncle Renly and Mr. Tyrell laugh silently after hearing this. She did not like it.

“Starks are so bloody good with people.” Uncle Robert muttered.

No one spoke for a moment. The air turned solid.

“Mr. Loras,” suddenly the eldest Stark girl broke in, saving everyone from the awkward silence in the hall. “Would you please start with a story?”

“Of course, fair Sansa. Renly and I are happy to start.”

Shireen looked at them closely. She hasn’t done so in a long time.

The two young men seemed to give off a light when sat in front of the fire. Lustrous honey hair intertwined with raven dark, their eyes locked as their fingers tangled. A very fair pair, at least appearance wise. No wonder so many girls and boys swooned over their movies, Shireen thought, even some of her classmates were their fans.

She never liked uncle Renly particularly much, not as much as she liked uncle Robert or Mr. Stark. There was something about him that made Shireen feel like he was different. Maybe it was his stature, too slim. Maybe it was his face, too soft. Maybe it was…Shireen did not know how to describe it. Uncle Renly did not look like a Baratheon, that was her best way to put it. It was that dense, stormlike power that both uncle Robert and her father had that she did not see in him.

“We met eleven years ago, didn’t we?” As Loras spoke, Renly nodded at him.

“We’ll tell a story of how we met. It was quite dramatic actually.”

Mr. Loras was a Tyrell after all. The Tyrells were known to have voices sweet as honey and smooth as silk.

“We were little boys by them, no more than fourteen I believe. There was a school party that day, and we met on a poolside. Renly had a fruit punch, and I stole a sip from it. I never asked his name, nor did he mine. We just talked…” Loras paused, and looked at Renly, with a mysterious smile on his face.

Renly picked up where Loras trailed off.

“I remember him wearing a mask. We still own that mask now, for the memory that is.”

“We still do,’ Loras echoed.

“I am sure all of you know Shakespeare? Well, the time we met our families were having a little crisis, just like the two families in Fair Verona did. We danced the night we met, and well…” Renly blushed and hid his wet lips behind his hand.

“We kissed, twice, before we learned who one another was.”

Shireen heard her father grinding his teeth in anger. He had told her about that crisis eleven years ago. It was grave, Stannis used to say, I would have died if not for that man.

Shireen never asked what man. Stannis would not say anything if he did not want to, no matter how you nag him.

And now, Loras and Renly were saying it was a “little” crisis like it did not matter at all.

“A year after, we decided to get together. By that time, our names did not matter anymore. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet is it not.” Loras concluded their tale that was making Shireen uneasy, mostly because of her father. It was poorly told, Shireen won’t even call it a proper story, but she clapped nonetheless.

“It is your turn now, Mr. Stark.” Stannis broke in, apparently relieved from the voice of Loras. He did his best to not hate the Tyrells,  but still, it was impossible for him to be fond of one.

“I’ll take it.” Roared uncle Robert.

Shireen’s eardrum hurt from his booming volume. Uncle Robert was always jolly, his blue eyes, unlike her father’s were hard and cold, burnt with passion, and his dark hair formed loose curls that dangled over his ear and forehead in a manner that charmed the whole country. He looked the perfect President, tall, lengthy legs, broad shoulders and strong arms. His presence was strong enough for him to fill an entire room all by himself. Shireen must admit, uncle Robert was the first handsome in the whole family. But he drank and ate too much, Shireen thought, he would grow fat easily when age caught up with him.

Eddard Stark, on the other hand, did not have such a strong presence.  He was leaner and shorter than Robert, with facial expressions reserved to the point it looked almost solemn. And his eyes…Arya had his eyes, Shireen realized. Those frozen grey eyes, their gleams change as the owner’s moods change, shifting from soft as fog to hard as stone.

Now the ice has melted and those eyes were warm.

“No, I will tell. Go drink your wine, Mr. President.” He said in a low voice, soft like how one whispered goodnight to children.

The warmth of the fire was on Shireen’s back, and Mr. Stark spoke about the age of the Heroes…

Stannis once told Shireen in a mocking tone that uncle Robert befriended a strange man who took mythology aside from economics when Robert was in Boarding school. It was Mr.Stark, the realization suddenly came to her. She also heard that the old Headmaster Jon Arryn became a father figure to them…and people say Eddard Stark was more Arryn then Stark…

Mr. Stark talked about the Pack, the Dragons, the Long Night…Many things that she did not know before. The firewood cracked, and Shireen drifted into her own thoughts.

She thought about Devan, her best friend. What was he doing now? Was his family happy? She did not know. She never met his family. Devan once hinted that he was not allowed to talk about them. He always used “I was told” instead of “my father told me…”

Shireen fell asleep, and she dreamt of fog.

Thick fogs blown from the sea wove between the trees in the wood in front of the school, the chilliness of the night lingered in the air. She waved goodbye to the driver and saw Devan amongst the mist of the morning.

This was how they met. On the first day of elementary school, very early in the morning.

Devan was still short and a little chubby by then, but his good looks already started to show. As he walked out of the wood, Shireen saw his chocolate coloured hair and amber eyes. There was a man dressed in earthy tone walking behind Devan, and they looked nothing alike. They walked to the edge of the wood, the man tied Devan’s shoelaces for him and melted away in the chilling fog.

The cold woke her up. She was in bed right now, the hearth was burning hot and strong, but still, she shivered.


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