Jon might muss up her hair and call her “little sister.” She’d tell him, “I missed you,” and he’d say it too at the very same moment, the way they always used to say things together. She would have liked that. She would have liked that better than anything.
“Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He’ll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he’s copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at but not worth all that much at the end of the day.”
“Give me a man for every vow I’ve seen broken and the Wall will never lack for defenders.”
“They will garb your brother Robb in silks, satins, and velvets of a hundred different colors, while you live and die in black ringmail. He will wed some beautiful princess and father sons on her. You’ll have no wife, nor will you ever hold a child of your own blood in your arms. Robb will rule, you will serve. Men will call you a crow. Him they’ll call Your Grace. Singers will praise every little thing he does, while your greatest deeds all go unsung. Tell me that none of this troubles you, Jon . . . and I’ll name you a liar, and know I have the truth of it.”
“And if it did trouble me, what might I do, bastard as I am?”
“What will you do?” Mormont asked. “Bastard as you are?”
“Be troubled,” said Jon, “and keep my vows.”
“Bad enough when the dead come walking,” he said to Jon as they crossed the village, “now the Old Bear wants them talking as well? No good will come of that, I’ll warrant. And who’s to say the bones wouldn’t lie? Why should death make a man truthful, or even clever? The dead are likely dull fellows, full of tedious complaints—the ground’s too cold, my gravestone should be larger, why does he get more worms than I do . . .”
It’s always summer in the songs. In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.
“But so do dragonslayers.”
“She has the blood of a wolf.”
“And you have the wits of a goose.”
“You can’t talk to me that way. The king can do as he likes.”
“Aerys Targaryen did as he liked. Has your mother ever told you what happened to him?”
Ser Boros Blount harrumphed. “No man threatens His Grace in the presence of the Kingsguard.”
Tyrion Lannister raised an eyebrow. “I am not threatening the king, ser, I am educating my nephew. Bronn, Timett, the next time Ser Boros opens his mouth, kill him.” The dwarf smiled. “Now that was a threat, ser. See the difference?”
Fear cuts deeper than swords.
“Don’t you see the jest, Lord Varys?”
“Storm’s End is fallen and Stannis is coming with fire and steel and the gods alone know what dark powers, and the good folk don’t have Jaime to protect them, nor Robert nor Renly nor Rhaegar nor their precious Knight of Flowers. Only me, the one they hate.” He laughed again. “The dwarf, the evil counselor, the twisted little monkey demon. I’m all that stands between them and chaos.”
“There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don’t ever believe any different.”
“I’m honest. It’s the world that’s awful.”
“Wait until you birth a child, Sansa. A woman’s life is nine parts mess to one part magic, you’ll learn that soon enough . . . and the parts that look like magic often turn out to be messiest of all.”
Will holding it secret in your heart make it any less true? If you never tell, never speak of it, will it become only a dream, less than a dream, a nightmare half-remembered? Oh, if only the gods would be so good.
I have said it, gods forgive me. I have said it and made it true.
“If there are gods, why is the world so full of pain and injustice?”
“Because of men like you.”
“There are no men like me. There’s only me.”
“Oh, it’s truth you want? Be careful, my lady. Tyrion says that people often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”
I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.
“You little fool. Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs, and you’d best learn to use it. You’ll find men use their swords freely enough. Both kinds of swords.”
Is your sword sharp, Jon Snow?
- Dec 02 Tue 2008 10:54