“In the beginning,” said Shella, “there is a ruin.”
“Once upon a time,” the girl, Pia, piped up, “there is doom.” She giggled. “M'lady Whent promised a good story.”
Shella kept on arranging her fruit bowl. In a little while she would be finished, with each lemon curve notched just right against each apple plumpness, and every pomegranate skin’s shine snug against the porcelain rim. And after all that, Shella would hasten to depart Harrenhal. She had lions nearing her gates.
In a little while.
For now, she would arrange her fruit bowl, like she always did after breakfast. She would talk to herself like she always did, and tolerate the girl, the fool, chattering away in the shadows.
“Once upon a time, I pricked myself with needles,” Pia went on. “Lots of times. Twas cause sometimes I get startled. I think I see some ghosts.” She was washing each fruit in a copper basin. Shella spared a thought to be glad that the girl was rather careful with drying the fruits before handing them to her. Pia did sew like each stitch was an afterthought.
“Once upon a time,” Shella told the pomegranate she was arranging, “Harrenhal was ruined. It all started there. It was ruined for the realm to be born.”
“No,” Minisa laughed, playfully sprinkling Shella’s face with the water for Minisa’s flowers. “No. Everything started with a beam of sunlight.”