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07/07/2017

still the blows kept falling, one after

 said Robb. “It was never my wish to sow enmity between us.”  “Nor mine to be the cause of it,” said Queen Jeyne.  Lothar Frey smiled. “I understand, as does my lord father. He instructed me to say that he was young once, and well remembers what it is like to lose one’s heart to beauty.”  Catelyn doubted very much that Lord Walder had said any such thing, or that he had ever lost his heart to beauty. The Lord of the Crossing had outlived seven wives and was now wed to his eighth, but he spoke of them only as bedwarmers and brood mares. Still, the words were fairly spoken, and she could scarce object to the compliment. Nor did Robb. “Your father is most gracious,” he said.

“I shall look forward to our talk.”  Lothar bowed, kissed the queen’s hand, and withdrew. By then a dozen others had gathered for a word. Robb spoke with them each, giving a thanks here, a smile there, as needed. Only when the last of them was done did he turn back to Catelyn. “There is something we must speak of. Will you walk with me?”  “As you command, Your Grace.”  “That wasn’t a command, Mother.”  “It will be my pleasure, then.” Her son had treated her kindly enough since returning to Riverrun, yet he seldom sought her out. If he was more comfortable with his young queen, she could scarcely blame him. Jeyne makes him smile, and I have nothing to share with him but grief. He seemed to enjoy the company of his bride’s brothers, as well; young Rollam his squire and Ser Raynald his standard-bearer. They are standing in the boots of those he’s lost,

Catelyn realized when she watched them together. Rollam has taken Bran’s place, and Raynald is part Theon and part Jon Snow only with the Westerlings did she see Robb smile, or hear him laugh like the boy he was. To the others he was always the King in the North, head bowed beneath the weight of the crown even when his brows were bare.  Robb kissed his wife gently, promised to see her in their chambers, and went off with his lady mother. His steps led them toward the godswood. “Lothar seemed amiable, that’s a hopeful sign. We need the Freys.” 

“That does not mean we shall have them.”  He nodded, and there was glumness to his face and a slope to his shoulders that made her heart go out to him. The crown is crushing him, she thought. He wants so much to be a good king, to be brave and honorable and clever, but the weight is too much for a boy to bear. Robb was doing all he could, yet  the other, relentless. When they brought him word of the battle at Duskendale, where Lord Randyll Tarly had shattered Robett Glover and Ser Helman Tallhart, he might have been expected to rage. Instead he’d stared in dumb disbelief and said, “Duskendale, on the narrow sea? Why would they go to Duskendale?” He’d shook his head, bewildered. “A third of my foot, lost for Duskendale?”  “The ironmen have my castle and now the Lannisters hold my brother,” Galbart Glover said, in a voice thick with despair. Robett Glover had survived the battle, but had been captured near the kingsroad not long after.  “Not for long,” her son promised.

11/12/2018

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