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At the Gate

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They said Stannis Baratheon never smiled, but Shireen remembered the day her father landed at Dragon Stone. She was too young to know the shape of the burden on her father’s shoulders, yet she saw him trying to hold it up. But he was the king’s brother, that she already knew in her young years, demanded her father’s loyal services.
In a helpless attempt to comfort him she freed herself from her mother’s hand and ran towards her father. The men around him stepped back. Stannis looked stern, watching her as if he was unsure if her unladylike movement. But then he bent his knee, stretched out his arms, to catch his daughter.
“Father”, she yelped, laughing being held up so high “How glad I am to welcome you here.”
She felt her father’s beard scratching at her cheek but never had his tone been warmer. Warm like a smile.
“At least there is one good reason to return to this place.” he murmured. Stannis Baratheon had never been a man of smiles or great words but for Shireen he couldn’t have said anything more loving.