The news comes by way of raven, dark wings bearing dark words. Ashara is in Elia's solar, hidden away from court while mother's stomach cripples her, and Elia's beautiful face is ashen when she enters. For a moment Ashara thinks something has happened to Arthur but quickly dismisses it; no one can best her brother with a blade.
"What is it?" she asks, wiping at her mouth with a handkerchief, her anxiety only increasing as Elia's face folds into abject pity.
Tears rise in her throat, and Ashara curses them; she has never been a weeping woman and she will start now. "Elia, what has happened?"
"It is Ned," the princess begins, and Ashara tries not to think how odd it is to hear Elia say her beloved's name. Elia knows of Ned only through whispered stories and secrets and, like when they were girls, Ashara has only ever found support in Elia's presence.
"Has he...Is he...Was there a battle?"
"No," Elia manages. Clasping her hand over Ashara's, her brown eyes wet with sympathetic tears, she reveals, "Ned Stark wed Catelyn Tully a fortnight ago. He honored his brother's betrothal."
For a moment Ashara goes completely numb, unable to feel anything, her hearing and vision gone as the words sink in. Ned, her Ned, has wed Hoster Tully's daughter, is someone else's husband now; there will be no wedding for them, no life after Rhaegar puts down the rebellion and the world is right again. Now, when the war is done, Ned will return to Winterfell with his Tully wife, and she will be sent back to Starfall with their bastard.
"Ashara," Elia whispers, softly brushing Ashara's dark hair from her clammy forehead, but Ashara only shakes her head, a silent assurance she is will fine, she will be live. She is not the first woman who has lost the man she loves to another, not the first woman who will bear a child with the name "Sand."
She rises from her chair, crossing to the window and staring out at King's Landing. Ashara rests her hands on her stomach, already gently swelling beneath her gown, and the child she considered her wolf cub has now become a star. A bastard he may be, but with the blood of Houses Stark and Dayne in his veins, Ashara knows her son will grow to be someone great.
"I think I shall return home," Ashara states matter-of-factly.
She travels by ship to Starfall, stopping at the Water Gardens to bring news of Elia to Doran and Oberyn, and, as the warm winds scatter her hair, Ashara feels the child inside her stir.
I would not have liked the North anyway, she decides, staring out at all the beauty Dorne has to offer.