"Winterfell…" she whispers, but even the word home itself sounds strange on her lips.
"Winterfell is nothing more than a dream, Ser" she tells him, remembering the tales she has picked up over the years. She knows all men who tried to take Winterfell died. She knows it was burned to the ground. She knows there are no Starks left. She knows the man who holds it eats his own men to save himself from starvation. She knows the snows are ten feet deep at best. She knows death surrounds the place…… even the kind that is still moving. She knows these are the kind of tales that are true. The worst ones always are.
Her voice hardens while she shakes her head. “Winterfell will never be mine.”
"Winterfell has always been yours," he responds with a grim look on his face. "You can’t get rid of it, not even if you want to. Everywhere you go this castle will follow and mock you for not being there when it was most needed. You’re the heir and nothing will change that"
"I’m just a girl."
But of course she is much more than that. She’s standing fiercely in the morning snow, pretending to be much stronger than her sixteen years, her head up high and her auburn hair blowing in waves around her face by the cold winter wind. A porcelain doll in wolf’s clothes, he thinks. It’s almost convincing.
But he knows better. She cries in her sleep, trashing and turning, one hand at her throat and the other clutching his arm, digging her nails into his flesh, like she’s telling him he is the only one that can save her. When she does, he pulls her closer and holds her, her nightmares fading away quickly with his arms aorund her in a strong grip and the steady rhythm of his heartbeat against her ear. He strokes her back through the linen of her night gown, not letting go until she falls into dreamless sleep again and her tears turn to salt on her cheeks, But she doesn’t know about that.
"Casterly Rock", he says hoarsely, not fully realizing what he is doing until the words escape his lips. "I have Casterly Rock. Take it. The Rock has never fallen. You’ll be safe there. There’s gold, Lots of gold. Let people know you’re alive, strengthen your forces-
"So I can show the world how grateful I am the mighty Jaime of House Lannister saved my life? You mistake me for a fool," she snaps. "I don’t fight for the Lannisters."
He shrugs. “Fight as a Stark then. Wave your flags. Let the wolf howl over Lannisport. Raise your armies, train them, make them strong. Feed the weak, tell them stories, give them hope, be the saint. Make allies. Rule. Unite the Westerlands and bind them to your cause. Prepare for battle. Take Winterfell when the moment is right and be the queen you always wanted to be.”
She eyes him suspiciously, startled by the weight of his words. “Why would your people accept me?”
"My people?" he laughs bitterly as he takes a step closer to her and spreads out his arms, gesturing at the endless gray snowy lands behind him. "All of us, you mean?"
She hears the desperation is his voice. He’s depending on me, she realizes suddenly. I’m the last thing he has left. The thought sends a shiver down her spine, When his hand squeezes her shoulder she clutches the dagger on her hip in reflex with trembling hands. Then she looks up, her bright Tully blue eyes defiantly boring into the green of his own and she accepts his offer.
"To do justice to the ones who wronged us." she whispers and he nodds in understanding.
Memories of her family flash before her eyes. Bran, laying broken in his bed, her father’s eyes just before Joffrey claimed his head, the absence of her sister, her mother and Robb, supposed to save her and take her home. Lady. She forces herself to smile at him. Know what a man wants, a voice echoes through her head. She leans forward and brushes her lips against his in a flutter, hoping he will make fun of her for this. But before she can finish her thought he kisses her back with such force she bites his lip in shock and gasps for air while he invades her mouth. His blood tastes like war on her tongue.