When they had come, Catelyn hadn’t panicked; she had been teaching in the classroom, her little collection of students gathered around them as she helped them with their mathematics, and if she had panicked it would only have spread to them and so she had strived to keep calm, though fear gripped her heart and she could think only of her own little ones, of Rickon and Bran and Sansa. All that remained to her. But she had taken the children, followed protocol as though it were a fire evacuation and nothing more…but once the fighting had really begun, all had fallen to chaos.
She had thought to help, to fight as she had when their had been the rebel attacks and the Walkers had returned. But she had made a promise to Rickon; she had promised him that she would never leave to fight again, that it would not be like it had been on the outside, where she would come back bloody and tired, all so that they could survive. That she would stay at home, that she would never leave him, that even as Daddy thought, she would still be there…and she would not break her promise to her little boy, not for all the world. And so once, she had found them, she had taken Rickon in her arms, with Bran and Sansa beside her as they had rushed back to their home…she had barred the doors and windows and ordered they stay down.
All the time praying for Ned, praying he survive, praying he come home, praying she had not left him to die.
But Ned never came. Even when the fighting was done he didn’t come. Even when an eerie silence fell over Nirvana and she could hear the dull thud of boots, of solider-types who were not Ned’s men, marching, checking, watching, and the sound of glass and shattered homes cleared away….even then he didn’t come. But she didn’t leave…she couldn’t leave Rickon, not when she had promised.
But time ebbed away and Ned still didn’t come. Catelyn wept and she fumed, and she never knew which would win out, and Rickon’s questions, so innocent and heartbreaking, only cause her fear to increase, her worry, her anger….was he dead? Or the person who had led the attacks…had they taken him? Were they keeping him from her? Or was Ned being the hero, protecting others and not coming home?
She didn’t know and that made it so much the worse; she kicked at the sofa and when that didn’t help, she kicked the lamp, she kicked the table. And when that did not ease her either, she threw the things from the small desk, pulled at her hair and she cried out in pain, an agonising cry of an animal wounded, screaming it into her pillow so her children would not hear.
And then, when it felt as if the worry was too much, the fear, the anger, and numbness threatened, as she began to realise that Ned was likely gone…she heard the door. And saw him.
“Ned” She gasped, before running across the room towards him, bare feet skipping over the mess, until she collided into him hard, wrapping her arms about him, tears running down her cheeks. “Where were you?”