[THE RISE OF STARK]
They stood, staring, together for the first time in what felt like centuries. Sansa remembered very clearly the last time she had seen Bran, a thousand years ago. He had been sleeping still, his fall fresh, and she hadn’t had the heart to kiss him goodbye. She’d squeezed his hand and whispered her love, then escaped before Arya could see her cry. But he was different now, colder. He was not the curious, excited little brother he had been, but a dark man, with heavy eyes and bad habits. A dark heart.
Rickon was strange as ever, but there was wisdom in his eyes. He looked through Sansa, through the steel exterior and into her lionheart. It made her shiver; every secret she had ever had was plunged by his gaze, every depth was fathomed. She might as well have confessed every sin to him, the way he looked at her. He was strong, and wise and wild.
And Arya? She kept hands tightly to her sides, her face a mask of indifference, so much so that Sansa could have sworn she was as likely to kill them as to kiss them. The woman who stood before her - my sister, Sansa reminded herself - had a countenance that was darker than Bran’s, who was more of a curmudgeon than a villain, and the same wild nature as Rickon, but it ran deeper. She spoke with the voice of one who knew her own mind; moved in such a way that every action seemed premeditated. There was something in her step, in her presence, that set Sansa’s teeth on edge. The only other time she remembered feeling similarly was when she was alone with the Hound: Fear, but more than that: affection. Arya was her sister, but if Sansa was a lionheart, Bran a darkheart and Rickon a wildheart, it seemed Arya had no heart at all. There was no love in her eyes, no mirth in her smile and no gentleness in her touch. She simply was and was nothing.
He put Bran into bed, covered him with blankets, and blew out the candle. For a time Robb sat beside him in the dark. Bran wanted to talk to him, but he did not know what to say. “We’ll find a horse for you, I promise,” Robb whispered at last. “Are they ever coming back?” Bran asked him.
“Yes,” Robb said with such hope in his voice that Bran knew he was hearing his brother and not just Robb the Lord. “Mother will be home soon. Maybe we can ride out to meet her when she comes. Wouldn’t that surprise her, to see you ahorse?” Even in the dark room, Bran could feel his brother’s smile. “And afterward, we’ll ride north to see the Wall. We won’t even tell Jon we’re coming, we’ll just be there one day, you and me. It will be an adventure.”
“An adventure,” Bran repeated wistfully. He heard his brother sob. The room was so dark he could not see the tears on Robb’s face, so he reached out and found his hand. Their fingers twined together.
He heard his brother sob.