He doesn’t, Lester decides. He doesn’t want to help, not at all. He just wants to destroy and he’s right. Anything Lester can possibly do is futile. He’s not even the Minister, when it comes down to it, Florent give the orders in this building. And even if he was, there is still no one he can talk to, no one he can convince that would believe him, that would believe the Home Secretary would be capable of something like this. And my friend betrayed me.
He can’t help but take it personally. That Varys would become involved with a cause like this. But then, he thinks, Varys is a spy. He probably never cared about me one way or another in any case. No one cares about catching the Brotherhood as much as he does. Nobody will help. And there’s nothing he can possibly do to catch them alone. He just has to make certain the problem does not worsen.
“Get out.” He doesn’t even sound angry anymore, and that amazes him. His voice is so soft and it’s unexpected. ”Get out of my office, please. Go back wherever you came from. Just leave.” He sits, leans back in his chair so it sinks, and covers his eyes. He’s been far to tired lately. He feels throbbing, from the top of his head to the bottom of his neck.
He doesn’t move. A part of him wonders if it is normal that he isn’t quite reacting to the other’s words. They don’t make much of an impression. He blinks at his initial question before smiling. “They think it is useful”, Beric replies, there is harmony in his tone, a delicate one, and a soften melodious charm that doesn’t quite try to veil the condescension beneath the layers of dirt that cover this particular conversation.
He never sets his eyes away from the man, he doesn’t have to. For a moment he wonders if Morrigen can be called a prey but if Beric is to catch him, he doesn’t plan to feast on him, he doesn’t like this kind of meat and it won’t bring any pleasure or benefit. He is just here to prove a point and to let his anger suffice.
He supposes that anger he holds against those who prevented him from getting Shae out is irrational in itself and useless. But what kind of leader would he be if he doesn’t allow himself to dwell in the purity of revenge, that has become an essential part of the Brotherhood’s objectives. If he is to hold onto something, that will be the Brotherhood and its members and nothing more, to preserve their legacy and their ideals. To hope that one day, when all of this is over, his initial drafts with Shae will be there for someone to recite to the new world.
Protecting that, holding onto the bounds of brotherhood they have, that is something he means to do, that is something he wants to treasure. And the pleasure of seeing people fall because of it is surely gratifying. This man is a pawn in the game, but pawns fall the same as kings.
Not so long ago, he would have stop to think about his actions, had someone pointed them out to his face like this man is doing; he would have stopped to think about what his people is feeling and thinking. Now he doesn’t care for he knows what he must do. Results, to achieve what he has promised and nothing more. He doesn’t intend to gain their love, to have his conscience clean, to make sure that others know his true intensions, none of that will gain him anything at all. That much has been cleared up for him so far.
But this will, the fear of the undersecretary will. To know that he has another thread to pull from whenever is needed, this will help. And perhaps a bit of revenge is in order, if only indirectly as it is. He is an hypocrite, he won’t deny that. He takes pride in his position, he worked hard to get where he is and more to keep it under the pretence of good will and love the government. America was founded by slave owners who informed generations to come that all men are created equal.
There has never been a trull selfless rebel, he wants immorality too and he won’t be an unconscious hypocrite, for it will be the same as being a conscious one. So let immorality guide his way through, if one day he can claim to have informed that peace can be achieved, even if it was through intimidation and violence and lies.
He doesn’t bother telling him this, however. Beric merely smiles as he raises from his chair and walks around the other’s desk, standing behind the window, “Make me”, he said after a moment and keeping the same tone. “Tell them to force the Home Secretary to leave this building and see how that works out for you, see the fatality of your weakness”. He is already afraid, Beric thinks. And this game is about to be over.
Arya let out an exaggerated sigh, one she knew that Beric would be able to hear through the phone. Good, she thought. He should know how bloody frustrated she was with constantly being treated like a child. He could call her a kid all he wanted, but that wouldn’t return her to the carefree state of mind she’d once known. Maybe all of his lies and maneuvers would have worked a few months ago, when she was still with her family, but she was an entirely different person now. Her opinions weren’t just the rambling of a little, innocent girl, and she knew better than to let him push her down with talk of politics that she didn’t understand.
You really do think I’m stupid, don’t you? Of course I didn’t tell him who I was. Although he had seen through her fake name easily enough, Arya was fairly certain that he hadn’t recognized her either. He was too straight forward of a person; if he’d known she was a Stark, he would have told her. And you’re going to want to meet this kid. I wouldn’t just bring you any random idiot off the street. He’s good. And when I bring him around tomorrow, you’ll see it. She didn’t leave room for argument. Arya slipped down another street, now only a few blocks from Westminster. She’d have to be careful around those streets, they tended to have the most police surveillance, but it was nothing that she hadn’t done before.
I’m busy, Beric replied too quickly for his own taste. Was this girl ordering him around?. He blinked twice before frowning, slowly going back to his place behind his desk. Terrorists, Tywin Lannister, Stannis Baratheon - he had stood his ground with all of them and this teenage girl was trying to impose something on him?.
He didn’t want to glare at nothing in particular in the darkness of the office, yet he did, maybe when I am not - busy - sometime in the future, if I can. He continued, he didn’t want to be petty - yet he was being that and more but he shrugged.
It wasn’t a lie anyway, he truly had no time, he had to find a way to free Shae, and he wasn’t meeting new members anymore ever since the complications started. Why would this kid even try to make him (him, the leader of the Anonymous Brotherhood, the Home Secretary), do anything at all in the first place?
Lock the door, he muttered before hanging up. He knew his agents were guarding his flat anyway, no need for Arya to concern herself with matters of security, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say.
If Allyria would take him back someday, he had to make a mental to convince her that children were not, without a doubt, the sine qua non of life.
She could hear brooding in his long, calculated silences and Arya had the sudden urge to hang up on him. It was only the promise of a warm bed, a shower, and a nice meal at his flat that kept her from it. He was spending those silences trying to find ways to manipulate her, she knew, just like everyone else always had, but now she knew better. She might be a Stark, used to the luxuries of life, and prouder than anyone had a right to be, but that didn’t mean she didn’t know when someone was trying to trick her. Her training with Syrio, along with that month on the streets, had taught her that.
I was doing just fine before Sharma picked me up, actually. You’re lucky that I’m staying with you. But as much as Arya didn’t want to admit it, there was some truth in his words. She could just imagine the look on her mother’s face, if she could have seen the way that Arya had been living these last few weeks. Even if she was certain that she could have lasted longer on the streets, and survived just fine without outside help, she had to recognize that she was operating on a very thin line. Her own safety hadn’t mattered much to her then, nor did it now, no matter what her name was.
She picked up on the suspicion in Beric’s voice, and a little smile crossed her face. Yeah, a boy. He’s eighteen, maybe nineteen, and good at fighting. He’s the one who helped me. And before you start telling me off, I didn’t tell him what the brotherhood was, just that I had an opportunity for him. He knows the streets well, he’s a good fighter, and he’s got that idealistic strain. He’d fit right in. She neglected to add that this was nonnegotiable, but she figured that he would pick up the tone in her voice. They’d only known each other for two days now, and yet Beric seemed to already understand how stubborn she could be.
Our group is not to be taken that frivolously, he said in a low voice, we are not recruiting strays with no skills whatsoever and we do not need simple minded fists. Our people are idealists with a true desire for revolution.
Beric pursed his lips. The Brotherhood was in constant expansion and new members were coming along, plenty of new members, people, young people mostly who felt like being part of a rebellious movement. And there were plenty who truly wanted to help and do something worth doing because they understood their fight, that this wasn’t just an act of terrorism and simplistic uprising; those who knew what the Brotherhood truly meant.
That was the type of people who were meant to stay. Details about the organisation were never at reach of the larger external groups, so no one could betray them or know about Beric, Thoros, Anguy, Cersei, Sam and the rest of the main group - or about the Founder’s Arms.
Regardless, they had been quite careless in the past, he knew he had been. The group was already in a precarious situation, in risk of setting their feet above the wrong spot. Shae was arrested, if he needed more proof of those risks he only needed to look at the fact of their reality.
This - boy, could very well be part of another could be member, of those who came and went, like the dozens that joined them via external channels of communication, those who joined after they were invited by another person, another person who knew nothing of importance, it wasn’t odd - the problem, Beric knew, was that this boy had contact with the Stark girl. And that was, without a doubt, too much information already.
Does he know who you are? Who you truly are?, Beric asked patiently.
I’m not stupid, you know. Don’t try to feed me bullshit, I know what a political hostage looks like. And I’m not a kid, she said. The blood drying under her fingernails was a testament to that. He could threaten her all he wanted, but Arya knew that if he meant to hand her over to the Lannisters, he would have already done it. It was an empty threat, over the phone, when she was streets away and perfectly capable of not returning to his flat if she didn’t want to. She could stay out on the streets, she had a full belly and plenty of no how to stay in the shadows for weeks.
I know how to fight. My father gave me lessons. Although, after the uncertainty of tonight and the taste of panic still very much on her tongue, Arya thought that perhaps she ought to take him up on his offer. Syrio had warned her to never be too arrogant about her abilities, especially when someone was offering her help. But I had some help this time. Which reminds me, I got you someone.
Not stupid, indeed. Beric thought. But too young to understand the delicacies of war, specially of their kind of war. And he was too tired to explain them now, tired and with little to no time at all to waste. He supposed it would do no good to disregard her like this, but he couldn’t think of a good reason to keep confronting her. Instead he shrugged in his place and absently looked in the distance, at the remains of the Olympic Stadium.
You recognise your importance and yet you insist on living like it doesn’t matter. You are lucky we found you. He said quietly. He imagined what it would be like if one day she decided to run away. Well it wouldn’t really matter, Anguy could find her in a blink and then he’d have to restring her into his house or the Founder’s Arms. She would hate him, but he’s already hated by many. A girl, wouldn’t make a difference and Scotland is still on the loose.
Beric frowned when he heard her voice and what she said. Someone?, he asked tentatively, silently praying for wisdom in a 16 year old, wisdom to restrain her from speaking about the Brotherhood to strangers. He didn’t have much hope.
She could practically hear his frustration through the phone, in his heavy, exaggerated sigh. And even though he was technically her captor, and technically no better than bloody Cersei Lannister who had her sister caged up on Lannister street, Arya felt her smile widen. At least she could bother him, at any rate, and he hadn’t shouted at her about getting into a fight. If she had come home to Winterfell, soaking in blood and with scratches on her face, her mother would have grounded her for a month - but Beric didn’t so much as scold her.
I suppose I could get used to that, she thought, taking a quick turn into an alleyway when she spotted someone walking down Pratt street. If you’re going to insist on keeping me as a political prisoner, you’ll have to treat me like a Stark. And that includes buying me new clothes, she said, though her tone was light. She wondered what it was about that boy, that made her feel bolder than she had even a few hours ago.
Beric chuckled softly into the phone. There was a simplicity in dealing with this kid, while she defied him in a childish way, there was no danger involved, no lives at risk. He didn’t have to worry. His entire concern was to keep her with him.
And indulging in her tantrums wouldn’t do good either.
Kid, he began, softer than before. The phone he used with the Brotherhood worked under an encryption software, he could say anything he wanted but he had to be careful to not provoke her to say something too loudly while she was on the street. You are not a political hostage, you would need to have more credentials than that and I haven’t tied you to my basement, have I?. And besides, your family are no enemies of mine.
He said and tried not to count the lies he had just spoken and he wondered if he could have her tied up, if not to his basement, to somewhere safe.
The Starks were enemies, of course, like anyone else in power, like anyone else who threatened the people. Simple as that. Yet the girl had done nothing wrong, only having been born a Stark.
Not that it was something to pity her for, she had lived in luxury but the Brotherhood was not about that and it wasn’t about giving anyone whatever they wanted only because they had a famous name,
You are a guest in my house, you are welcome to go find another house who wants to welcome you - you should try No. 10 or Lannister Street and see if they are kind enough to allow you to stain their floors with blood.
He stood up from his seat, got closer to the window, the city seemed almost - like it should seemed, at peace. Did you at least give them a good fight or should I call someone to teach you how to punch?, he thought of Mudge and he didn’t suppose that was such a bad idea.
Regardless of the circumstances, the day had been rather uneventful, at least under his own standards and in comparison to the latest weeks. His standards were made of danger and of a life constantly on the edge. He remembered a time when he was able to prevent every turn, back in the day when he thought he didn’t like surprises. Those days were gone and now he had to find ways to get his people out of jail and keep the rest safe.
That included the Stark daughter he had collected not long ago. Arya Stark was a price that could very well safe him plenty of trouble or cause the trouble he wanted to cause. Beric sighed, the dim light of the lamps standing inside his office at Thames House illuminated the mess of documents he had. He rubbed his temples and decided to take a minute from his attempts of rescue, as he laid back on the seat and turned around; the large windows offering him the nocturnal sight of London.
Arya Stark was a little wild card. Just a girl, but he didn’t want to act like the Lannisters and make a show of his possessions, like they were doing with the sister (and he couldn’t, anyway, not just yet), and while he didn’t truly care if she was happy or not, it was better if she remained with him willingly. He did have the best interests at heart, he had no desire to hurt her or do her wrong (her family, however, was a completely different matter), but the country came first and Scotland was playing an important piece in the board of Revolution.
There were benefits to being the leader of the Anonymous Brotherhood and there was detriment. He didn’t know where the limit laid, wherever one became the other. For now he was content on being perfectly aware of the movements of the girl. He preferred to let her see the reality with her own eyes and come back every time she fancied running away. It was a risk Beric was willing to take. Of course he wouldn’t dare to lose her at the end of the day, but so far she hadn’t come that far.
He smiled to himself and picked up the phone he used to communicate with the Brotherhood, he had to be particularly careful when it came to stabilising contact with the missing Stark kid; but there he was, in the centre of Thames House and if he had power, he had it now.
When he heard the sound of the other line picking up he spoke softly, he didn’t want to show her resentment or anger; he wasn’t angry anyway, he was amused and silently worried every time she chose to make a display of defiance,
So did you have fun tonight?.
Infidelity was her bread and butter, but this was unlike any cheating she’s had part in before. Shae’s not foolish enough to think the jilted woman here is Ms. Allyria Dayne. For all that she and Beric have shared kisses, that’s not what she is to him, and that’s not what Beric is to her. He’s much more than a job, than a client. This isn’t one of her games; Shae has no intention of getting caught with her legs in the air, her bare back creasing with temporary wrinkles from an afghan knitted by a dutiful wife. Especially not when Beric Dondarrion’s wife is Mother England herself.
An icy wind whistles through the grove, and Shae shrugs Beric’s jacket closer around her. Her dress was chosen for the skin it displayed, her client was very specific, and Shae’s smooth skin is exposed from neck to the small of her back. It slides against the black satin lining of Beric’s dinner jacket, her slim arms dwarfed by his bigger sleeves.
Taking Beric’s hands in her own slim ones, Shae giggles. ”You know no one in their right mind will think I’m your sister, right? The difference in our coloring? Half the party will think you’re stepping out on her by midnight.”
And yet Shae makes no motion to leave. Despite the cold of the air, she’s warmed by Beric’s presence, by their shared purpose. It’s enough for her, enough for him too, she should hope, to know they want the same things.
For a person so well accounted with a public display of opinions and shared views, Beric didn’t pay much attention to everything that didn’t concern his job, his projects, his people. He didn’t lack empathy nor sympathy, or so he wanted to believe. He was well adjusted to understanding other people and to catching the delicacy of their details, their moves, their words; whenever he couldn’t predict them, he was comforted by the fact that he, at least, could understand them.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like people, all the contrary, he loved people perhaps too much - and because of that, he was constantly trying to avoid paying too much attention on the general scale of perception. Rumours and criticism were to be expected and he didn’t want to partake nor succumb to them.
Yes, I know - he wanted to reply. He knew how she might look like, the thought crossed his mind for an instant when Beric got her in his car the day they met. But he realised, curiously, that it hadn’t crossed his mind this time, even when the setting was too tempting to speculation.
He supposed that he didn’t care. He knew the importance of a public image and of what they were saying behind his back, that played in politics too and played a big role; but it was different when it wasn’t sustained by facts and this wasn’t. He liked to believe that facts and the truth were above rumours, and that sensationalism was meant to be overshadowed by that supreme verity.
And the verity was that he enjoyed Shae’s presence in a comforting way, he found solace in her support and he needed support more than anything. And that was it, they were meant to be brothers. But he couldn’t tell that to others, not just yet. He thought of a time when they would have others like themselves around and they could create a true brotherhood of ideals, and of people who could understand the divinity of their proclamation.
“I don’t care what they think”, he sighed. He pursed his lips at the mention of her. And in total discordance, he knew that he cared what she thought. But - “We are distant these days”, Beric confessed, not entirely sure why he was doing it now. “I enjoy your company and I expect the people who know me, know me well and enough to trust me”. Or perhaps it was a testament that he wanted to prove, perhaps he wanted to push Allyria a bit further, because he needed to know that they weren’t that fragile.
He pictured the scene in resignation. Someone whispering in her ear, describing the kiss he had just shared with the girl in vivid colours for his fiance, and to his own bitter disappointment, he couldn’t imagine her reaction, he couldn’t predict her, her of all people, the person he wanted to know the best, he just couldn’t visualise her thoughts, or the words that could come out of her mouth. It was supposed to be their year, his and Shae’s and he couldn’t feel anything coming for him and Allyria.
And suddenly he wanted it to happen, that whispering, if only to be sure, to know. The uncertainty was killing him. He supposed he had his test, even without it being real, he didn’t need it to happen to know it would fail. He supposed he should go to Allyria soon afterwards and break the lie for once but he knew he would be breaking himself in the process. Living inside an illusion seemed better than giving up any hope he had for his own future, that future that meant her and only her.
Projecting the future of the country on all of the plans he had been making was proving to be fruitful but he had deliberately set aside his own future, thinking it was arranged already, set in stone with the name of Allyria engraved on it. Realising he was wrong, understanding the fatality of their lie, that terrified him greatly but he took a deep breath and tried not to display.
He didn’t want to sink into dejection with Shae there, he didn’t want to be that open to her, to be that human, that much of a man. Their relationship was to be kept symbolic, even her kiss felt like a monument to their bond of fellowship, their hopes of Brotherhood. He wanted to retore that she was indeed his sister and be damned the rest.
Beric shrugged before smiling softly, squeezing her hand in affection, “Does it worry you, scare you, perhaps? To get too close to me?”.
Back in America he had had plenty of interests, each one of them morphing into something different every month, sometimes every week. It was and continued to be the way of the young mind and heart. His particular young mind (if he tried hard to avoid speaking of the heart) had a couple of facts defining his trail of thoughts. For instance, he was living in a foreign country while his motherland was undergoing so many changes even above the political facades. Human changes.
He was the only son of a family that had suffered through the dictatorship (if he dared to make a contemptible use of the term) of Aerys Targaryen. And he wanted desperately to make a change, to prove that he could help. This vague desire was shared with almost 95% of the rest of the matriculation at the University of Harvard and 98% of University of Yale. What eventually made him undeniably different from the rest of that generation was the course of action that such desires had taken.
Beric carefully placed the digital camera in its case and turned every phone off except the one he used to communicate with the Brotherhood and its allies. Something told him that it would take Sam a little bit more than she said to reach the place they were supposed to meet at.
He thought of sending her one last text, no need to take so long to get ready, it’s not that fancy of a place, I assure you. But in bigger terms, it was true that he intended her to be introduced to the people from the Yard and the people from the SOCA, not to mention the MI5. Beric needed Sam to be known and known for working with the British government, so that their next move could have the desired impact and more. Nobody would care for a CIA agent stuck in England, but a CIA agent making a statement of support to the policies that have been introduced in the country since Robert Baratheon died?. A CIA agent supporting a country under martial law and working with the Home Secretary and the SOCA?.
Beric smiled to himself and took the rest of his stuff to the back of his car. He left his apartment by himself, careful not to wake the kids. He had no desire to give unnecessary explanations and he was living with two of the most stubborn persons he had ever met.
When he was twenty four Beric went to do some research on the Homeland Department, he found it rather fascinating and silently expected to work there one day. Only silently, of course, he was british and he had promised himself to go back and meet Robert Baratheon and repaid his debts to society.
And yet he really wanted to be part of the DHS, in the same fashion that he wanted to tell his linguistics professor every curse word he knew. It was an outburst of desire.
Maybe it was Sam’s confessions which influenced him in the first place to choose that particular department for that particular project, he couldn’t remember now how that project ended but he never got very bad notes, not that he remembered.
In their post 9/11 world, anyone thought of any possible mistakes, the mistakes that had been made on homeland security and on the vitality of protecting the nation (his nation, sometimes he would think and correct himself only several seconds afterwards). Mistakes of omission, we are simple not doing enough, the undersecretary told him that day. The DHS had been created in response to the attacks, Beric would think even today, and wondered if they could truly assume full primary responsibility.
The day was cold and the streets were rather empty, day and night started to reflect each other: people were afraid to leave their houses at non rushed hours. He drove the Jaguar Sentinel himself, he would have to meet his bunch of s01 at the Strand, even if his presence at Temple Bar was already - scheduled. He found the need of announcing his desire to go there rather annoying, he was the responsible officer for the SOCA and indirectly for the MET. Why did he even ask for permission? He shook his head. Getting too arrogant all of a sudden, Beric. He said, imitating Thoros’ voice for his own amusement.
He wondered if back then, back when he visited the DHS, he could have had imagined that one day he would end up in charge of the arguably equivalent UK department. He reached St Mary le Strand soon enough, deliberately avoiding any time for pondering. The church had been his family’s preferred back in the day and while they weren’t extremely devoted people, his parents did remember to pay a visit every sunday now and then. He couldn’t remember those days very clearly at all but he did remember falling asleep more than once and being scolded afterwards.
He had no desire to linger there, nor see the place again. But the spot was close to Temple Bar and he knew it would be easy for Sam to reach it. He arrived and to his surprise, his friend was already there. Interesting. He thought. She kept her 30 mins word, he stood corrected. Beric smiled as he opened the safe locks and lowered the window. “Get in and turn your phone off while you are at it”, he raised his voice.
The preliminary description of the scene was painted as a clear picture and he knew it was the work of one of their friends. He knew details of the scene too and they weren’t hard to imagine even when there was a certain fear of seeing the scene himself. He had helped putting this in motion, he was afraid, he couldn’t deny that. Afraid of seeing the effects of his actions. This alliance proved to be working for their benefits, so it seemed. And according to said description, it might prove to work more for his own benefit than for anyone else’s.
A number in blood, a coin (he still kept his, he tried not to laugh at the reminder), a number of symbolisms. All very theatrical, they did not disappoint.
Even amid his own fear of himself and of the reality of that course of action that he decided to take all those years ago after visiting the DHS, amid his imagination painting the blood and the ashes of the dead; even then when the fear seemed to flicker across the Strand like an osprey’s shadow, even then he knew the opportunities that this presented, an opportunity to lay the first blow and he welcomed it with open arms and all fear washed away and it was all anticipation and excitement what must have greeted Sam in that moment.
They would try to start their subtle exposing today, and this scene was gift-wrapped. This alliance was indeed giving the expected results, their friends were meticulous, theatrical, chaotic, fascinating.
And perfect, too perfect to live for long.
“I’m impressed -, you are on time”, he joked as he turned the motor off. “The area ahead has already been secured, no civilians are allowed in”, he said looking ahead through the windscreen. “There has been a homicide”, Beric turned to look at her, “By our friends - i mean my friends…”, he corrected with a sour smile, “Though no one knows that, not even the Brotherhood and I hope to keep it that way”.
“I don’t think she trusts anyone. On one side, she trusts me enough to have marked an appointment with me for this afternoon, and I could see that many of the things she told me, about herself and the death of her son, were true. But she doesn’t trust me enough to let me go without a big amount of money to ensure my silence.” The check still sat inside the drawer of her nightstand, waiting for Esther to pick it up the next morning and take it to the bank.
She finished the glass of water and gave him a smirk. “Beric you truly believe I’m capable of refusing any of your requests?” Esther had cared for him as a boy, looked after him in his highs and lows, had joined his brotherhood. He had her loyalty, and Esther would do whatever was in her reach to help him. “I would ask you ‘what have Cersei and the Lannisters done’, but truly, what haven’t they done?”
He never met Aerys. He barely remembered that fearful Aerys Targaryen he saw on the telly back when he was a boy and didn’t understand half of the things that were happening all around, by now he only knew about the man he read in the books and recounts, that figure that was part of the history of the country, as a cautionary tale.
However he wasn’t entertained by the concept nor the figure of the man. He had no interest, no intension of meeting Aerys either or of knowing more of him. He and his family were done, he reckoned. Soon to be joined by the Baratheons and the Lannisters.
He shrugged the topic off, he would prefer to focus on Cersei Lannister, they were the true enemy for now and any weakness was very much welcomed. He wondered if he should feel commiseration, even pity for what she must be going through, she was, after all, still mourning the death of her son. That didn’t make her the enemy, it made her human. Beric didn’t like the thought of Tywin Lannister’s daughter as nothing but a mother in pain. He rather not.
He wondered if the lions needed or wanted the pity of what they surely considered a lesser being like himself, what was he anyway?. He couldn’t think of anything in particular, any beast, any symbol, only a blank page. Perhaps that was it, what he meant to be, in that blank layer of life, of the history they were making, perhaps he was meant to be a strike of light or perhaps dark. Only time could tell now.
“The Lannisters only trust their pockets”, Beric said, “I’m not surprised”. Yet they don’t owe favours that easily, he thought, Cersei might not trust anyone either but if she had already allowed a stranger into the darkness of her mind and emotional stability, they could have a door opened for them. It might become useful, in the future. He decided to keep it in mind.
He licked his lips and broke eye contact at Esther’s comment. Maybe that was his talent, his main talent, to provoke loyalty in others. He had always tried to act from his heart, and that had served him with that loyalty from those that were on his side. Now he was trying to act from his head and he had to wonder if that would make him lose something as precious as that fidelity.
He feared disloyalty as much as he feared failure, perhaps because they were always together, links between each other, a consequence of the other. Disloyalty would mark him as less than dirt from the earth, and bring him the despise he deserved. He didn’t want to face such reality.
He nodded and struggled so smile faintly, “You can refuse me any time - if I go against your principles”, he raised his gaze and stepped closer to his friend, reaching her side, kneeling besides her and squeezing her hand softly. He smiled sincerely, this time, “But I thank you for trusting me now”.
After all this time. He sighed. Beric kissed Esther’s hand before standing up. “I’ve taken too much of your time already, I should leave now”. He was tired too, of trying to reach out for help when perhaps the answer was that he didn’t need help at all.