(little things can have magic of their own. so can little people)
Hodor finds her one day, a naked thing wandering the woods. They are opposites–he, so tall and large and pale, she, so small and slight and brown. Harmless and helpless, and so Lord Stark allows her into Winterfell.
For the first few weeks she does not make a sound, following after Hodor like a living, breathing shadow. Master Luwen is not even sure she can speak, though she can hear well enough–turning her head to look when people speak, startling at sudden, loud noises–but maybe it is merely a lack of knowledge, not a lack of ability. They leave her with Old Nan, who these days does nothing but talk and tell stories, in hopes that the girl with absorb words of her own.
She does not. But, as months pass, Winterfell becomes accustomed to her. She becomes known as Young Nan.
Winterfell is a machine, constantly moving with every person playing a part to ensure survival–The North is cold and harsh, one cannot be lazy here. Young Nan, too, is given chores once she is deemed old enough and capable enough.
Like herself, it starts small, nothing too difficult helping the laundresses in their duties. Laundering is hard work, strong work, and many of the bedclothes when wet are heavier than she is, but she can still fetch and carry and fold. In time, they add more responsibilities, including darning, until someone remarks on how much thread is missing.
Young Nan is skilled with a needle; she is in trouble until, suddenly, she is not. With discarded scraps of cloth and the extra thread she had worked on a project of her own–a quilt as complex and beautiful as any of the tapestries hanging on the walls.
A gift, she did not say, but gestured well enough, for Lady Stark’s soon to be born child. Beneath the paws of a black wolf in a forest are the letters for the name Rickon, embroidered carefully along the edge. Or perhaps it is just a trick of the light–the pattern of leaves forming a shape. After all, Young Nan doesn’t speak, surely she can’t read.
Three weeks later, Lady Stark gives birth to a boy. A boy that they name Rickon.
Young Nan is moved from the charge of the laundress to the seamstress.
No one knows how old Young Nan is, how old she might be. As the years pass, she remains the same, and even the less superstitious wonder–could she be one of the forest children from Old Nan’s stories.
It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t get into trouble, continues to make beautiful works of art out of cloth and thread, and still says nothing.
But that doesn’t prevent her from communicating. Or at least trying to.
For Bran, she makes a doublet and cape–grey and white with small details of blue and red–simple enough. But it grows as he does, never fades or wears down, and on the under side of the cape is set of wings; so long as he wears it, he will never fall.
For Arya, she makes a cloak with a fur-lined hood. From far away, the pattern may look like flowers, albeit in grey and black, but up close it is swords–sabers with thin blades and ornate handles. Arya is already fond of it, even without knowing that it protects her from more than just the cold.
But not all of the Starks look at her gifts as such.
Young Nan is working on the second of a series of handkerchiefs for Sansa, each with a barely visible cream colored wolf in the corner, when Jeyne Poole drops the tattered remains of the first in front of her, sneering. Sansa’s expression is not quite as harsh, but there is no reprimand on her lips. Young Nan does not finish.
By now, everyone is expecting her to present something to Robb and it’s true that she is working on something–but it’s difficult. Wisdom in warfare is easy to depict, not that the future Young Wolf needs any help from her for that. But wisdom in peace, in politics? How could she possibly articulate that in cloth and thread?
Young Nan enjoys her inordinately high position mostly because of Lady Stark. Young Nan is not ungrateful.
She will make whatever the lady commissions, no mistake there, but she never makes Lady Stark something out of her own volition. Not like she does for the lady’s children.
But that is well enough–she never makes anything for Jon Snow either, well aware of Lady Stark’s dislike of the bastard son.
But she does make something for Lord Stark–and if he happens to pass it down, then that is the matter between highborn people.
The day she gives it to him is the same she disappears–the same day he finds a litter of direwolf pups and gives them to his children.
The gift is small and, perhaps, not even a gift–a warning, a message. A tiny tapestry, smaller than a shield, showing a split scene. On one side, a forest at night, and a white wolf howling to the moon. On the other side, a desert in the day–the sun blotted out by something serpentine and large. And bisecting the sky? A tower.
She’s done what she could, tried her best. Gave them what they need to improve their fates.
The rest is up to them.
A/N: Here’s a series of A Song of Ice and Fire SI!OCs that nobody asked for. Next installment will be about someone else; so goodbye, Young Nan.