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A Woman's Courage

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“They found her body in the river.”

The words rang hollow in Brienne’s ears. Jaime sounded far away when he spoke next, prompting the knight to tell the story further. Brienne looked away, grateful they were sitting already as her head spun and bile rose in her throat.

She did not know Robb Stark, but she knew Catelyn. She knew the woman’s bright red hair, the way a few strands always blew loose, giving her a fiery halo around her head. Her eyes, a blueish grey that shone fierce with her emotions. Her love for her children.

The men next to her continued speaking of the events as if they were nothing. As if weddings were often soaked in blood. Innocent blood.

Brienne’s eyes burned, but they were dry. She wondered numbly if she was capable of tears. Women are supposed to cry. Did Catelyn cry when she watched the blade explode through Robb’s heart? Or when she was told of her boys, Bran and Rickon? Her husband, Ned Stark? Did she cry for her girls, of unknown fate? Did the woman have any tears left to cry, before they took her life?

The questions made Brienne’s chest ache. She…she hadn’t even felt this way when King Renly died. When King Renly was murdered right before her very eyes. It had been Catelyn who had saved her then. Brienne had done the only thing she knew how to do, and pledged herself to the woman. She could sense Lady Stark was a woman of honor, and Brienne vowed her life to the woman. She had been lost, even for the mere days she’d been without Renly. Gracefully, warmly, Catelyn had accepted her.

Brienne clenched her fists. Jaime looked at her but she paid him no mind. Lady Stark was gone forever. Brienne had not liked being away from her lady, but her frustration was eased knowing that she was carrying out Catelyn’s wishes. She had been going to make Lady Stark happier than she’d been in ages - returning the Kingslayer and bringing back the young lady Starks, Arya and Sansa. Brienne wondered if the girls looked like their mother.

Now Catelyn would never see them again.

And Brienne would never see her lady truly smile. She had imagined what it would look like, to see happiness spread across Catelyn’s features. Brienne wondered if she too would have felt that happiness, just to be the catalyst of such joy.

So she shut herself down. She could not let them see her weak, even for a second. Even if she was capable of tears she would not let a single drop fall. She would finish her mission for Catelyn Stark, so her soul could rest easy, and she and her husband and her boys could smile down from heaven, knowing their daughters and sisters were safe.

She was Brienne of Tarth, Lady Catelyn’s sworn gaurd, and she would do that much for her.