Mya Stone knows that Alayne wants to be sorry that Robert Arryn is dead, though she’s not quite sure why. What little she saw of the boy had not been encouraging. Though she’d pitied him for his frailty and his convulsions…well, lords have been frail and sickly before and remained lords worth following.
But Robert Arryn—she refuses to call the wretch “Sweetrobin,” for he was never sweet and has not become more so now that he’s dead—was useless as a lordling and would have been even worse as he got older. He had been cruel and spiteful and spoilt until salt wouldn’t save him. And there are more than enough lords in Westeros now who would smash the world if it would get them what they want.
She supposes that it comes down to Alayne being a lady by nature. Ladies are gentle and, Mya has heard, mourn the death of helpless innocent creatures.
Mya decides that she is forever marked as common, for she cannot see Robert Arryn as helpless or innocent. He might well have out-Joffreyed Joffrey if he’d lived—and Joffrey the Unlamented, as the smallfolk call him, was the Mad King reborn. Oh, yes, Joffrey tortured and mutilated his people and called it justice—but he was not begging his mother , from the time he could stammer a sentence, to let him order men flung off of a mountain.
She has seen the remains of several poor souls who’d suffered the commands of Lysa Arryn’s monstrous brat. One even managed to survive the fall…though all he could do afterwards was scream. A healer or a wise woman might have tried to save him—battling shattered bones with fire and tar , and watching helplessly as his arms and legs turned black and rotten with blood-poison—but Mya knew then and knows now about animals that are too badly broken to ever be free of pain, let alone move. And she had not wanted to think about what would happen to this screaming, bleeding lump of misery if the guards of the Eyrie learned that someone had survived little Lord Robert’s attempt to “make him fly.”
Three quick cuts with her knife—neck, arm and inner thigh. Then it was over.
Any muleteer in the Vale would have done the same; they bear knives for reasons, and this is only one of them. But just the same, Mya does not think she can tell Alayne about mule-driver mercy; either she would not understand at all or she would understand only too well. She has no desire to curse Alayne with worse dreams than she has now.
However, smallfolk are expected to mourn for their lords even when the lords do not deserve it. So, dressing herself in the grey and white of House Stark (for Mya remembers Catelyn Stark well, and it is not hard to see Catelyn’s features in Alayne’s face, whatever Lord Littlefinger thinks) she goes to the funeral.
She divides her time between struggling not to laugh at the septon’s eulogy (Robert Arryn was the best of children—kind, wise and merciful? Do septons think that the Seven believe such flattery?) and watching Alayne (Sansa) across the sept.
Alayne’s body is taut, her back rigid, and if she is not weeping, her face is a mask of controlled grief. Mya is not surprised. Alayne can play any part well, but she does not like doing so. She will mourn for her cousin-who-is-not-supposed-to-be-her-cousin because he is family and duty demands it. Both are as much a part of her as ice and rock are part of the Frostfang Mountains, far to the north. But she will not make a show of her feelings.
And that seems to be what Littlefinger does not understand, for he strokes her neck (and she pulls away) , takes her hand (and she lets her hand lie in his for a moment before clasping both hands to pray, and places a kiss of what Mya is sure Littlefinger would call “consolation” on Alayne’s pale cheek (and she gives him a dry and dutiful peck on his own before pulling further away).
He looks quite besotted, though Mya would swear he does not know it. Definitely the wrong expression to wear when supposedly gazing at his bastard-born daughter. Mya does not like that look at all. Nor does she like the bitter, hate-filled anger in Ser Harrold Hardyng’s eyes; the Young Falcon may be gallant and handsome, but Mya has heard gossip from his servants about how he resents his betrothal to Littlefinger’s by-blow as payment for his family’s debts.
Mya would think the better of him if his hatred were directed at Littlefinger—but no. Littlefinger does not merit so much as a glance; Ser Harrold’s rage is all for the girl fending him off.
It is a pity that magic does not exist, for Mya would cheerfully turn him into a mule for that. Even if he remained cantankerous and ill-tempered, no one expects much of a mule. Alayne deserves better.
The day after the funeral, Mya—who has not yet settled on what to do about this odious situation— receives an invitation to breakfast with Alayne. Sending the young maid back with her acceptance, she hurries to dress herself in something dark but not gloomy. The castle is still officially in mourning, and she will not risk a reprimand for wearing her oh-so-comfortable leathers. She settles on a gown of deep forest green that laces up the front and then scurries off to Alayne’s chambers.
Alayne greets her with relief, and for a while, they sit and talk carefully of every topic under the sun save the dead lordling, breaking their fast with small oat cakes, sharp white cheese, salted fish and mulled wine.
Then Alayne notices something. “Your gown. You’re wearing green.”
It sounds like an inane comment, but Mya knows the pathways that thoughts travel in Alayne’s mind by now. Green—even dark green—is not a color of mourning. It is the color of life, abundance, joy, hope and freedom.
Mya knows this because Alayne told her.
“Why, yes, my lady,” she says in a voice as dry and bland as one of these oat cakes. “I am.”
Alayne’s eyes brighten as she realizes that the message was deliberate, but she continues to speak in a grave tone. “I’m not a lady, Mya. I’m a bastard.”
“You’re more of a lady than I’ll ever be,” Mya retorts, telling no less than the truth.
And I wish you could be mine, she adds in her mind, wishing that she could speak these words aloud and knowing that—for now, at least—it would be wrong. Alayne would hear the insistent demands of Littlefinger, not words that come from Mya’s heart.
She settles for giving her friend’s hand a comforting squeeze...and Alayne in return gives her an astonished, watery smile.