“It’s time we started looking for a match for Robb” Murmured Catelyn Stark against her husbands chest one brusque evening.
“He’d just a boy Cat, marriage will come in time”
“I know, I know, I’m not suggesting we march him to a Godswood now” She reassured him “but we need plan, suitable brides don’t fall from the sky”
The Warden of the North went quiet at that; his wife had a point. But still, his son had barely passed the age where kissing girls was thought gross. He gave a morose sigh, remembering pudgy hands and eyes impossibly wide and naïve. Robb would have to wed eventually; he may as well be prepared.
“It ought be a Northerner”
He stroked her arm, and spoke carefully “The bannermen hold little love for Southron folk, Cat, to have 3 Southron Lady’s of Winterfell in a row is asking for trouble”
Cat paused to look at him, as if deciding whether to take offence, she decided against it and lay her head back down; he spoke the truth after all
“I forget your mother was of the Vale” She smiled wistfully “I remember the first I saw of her; all wrapped up in furs and stern smiles…I thought she was quite the Northern Lady”
“Aye, she was” Ned had a far-off look
“We’re in no hurry on this at least, we’ll find a match in time”
“How about a Mormont girl?”
“Are you certain, my Lord? Many still recall Jorah Mormont’s transgressions” Protested Maester Luwin
“Lady Mormont should not be held accountable for actions she played no part in. Besides the matter has long been settled,” The Lord of Winterfell said firmly
“Not so settled, my lord, Mormont has yet to answer for his crimes” Cat pressed on “Besides, is a marriage with Bear Island really is our best interests? Their holdings are meagre at best and we would stand to gain little”
Ned sent her a look; it never sat well with him to think in gains and losses, it seemed underhand in some way but he conceded she did have a point. Robb had no particular fondness for any lady and given that the heir to House Stark would have the pick of Northern brides, they ought to choose wisely
He sighed, “Fine, fine…any other suggestions?”
As it turned out, more effort went into finding eligible brides than he expected. They needed a highborn Northern lady around Robb’s age who was not already promised. Only a handful of girls in all Westeros fit that description and Catelyn’s lofty standards thinned their number still.
He considered, maybe a Southron lady wouldn’t be so bad…before remembering the scowls and stony congratulations of his none-too-tactful bannermen at his wedding.
There was silence for a long moment before Cat broke in “I’ve got it!” Ned and Maester Luwin started at the usually reserved Lady Stark before looking expectant
“How about the Ryswell girl?”
Both men were pleasantly stumped by the suggestion. The previous Lady Ryswell had kept her daughters under lock and key after the death of her husband, according to rumours she’d gone mad with grief. As a result, the existence of Ryswell daughters was little talked about; some even forgot they existed.
“The Ryswell’s are the richest vassal house in the North, with time and investment in their gold fields they could even be rich enough to hold a candle to the Lannisters” Seeing Ned was unmoved by talk on money, Cat changed tactic “Ned, they’ve served us well these past years, I heard the previous Lord laid down his life during the Ironborn Rebellion”
This argument did affect him
Maester Luwin continued, “The girl is of the right age and there are whispers that the current Lord Rywell, her uncle, cannot conceive. If this is true, she would be heiress to the Rills”
Catelyn’s fervour in support of the match seemed to increase and Ned accepted the match made sense but one more factor had to be considered
“What of the girl herself, do we know of her character?” He inquired, Robb’s happiness and the good of the north in mind; the old Lady Ryswell was infamous as a madwoman…
“The Ryswell daughters are reclusive, my lord, I cannot speak for their manner but there have been no rumours of anything remiss” Supplied the Maester.
While this seemed good enough for Catelyn, Ned was more apprehensive until his wife assuaged his fears “We can send for her to come to Winterfell, if her and Robb object to the match we can always call it off, I’m sure Lord Ryswell would understand”
Ned was cautious as ever but supposed the idea posed no harm. Gods knew she was the best option they’d come across so far.
“Fine, I’ll send word to the Rills but all this may be for nought if the girl already has an intended” He cautioned a triumphant looking Cat