Catelyn has never had the same romantic nature that Lysa has, she’s far too practical to dream of a man sweeping her off her feet. And is very aware as her status as heiress. Her poor mother passed in the birthing bed, taking with her the babe.
Her father’s lords begin to make proposals. Second sons only, so that she may choose who will be her husband; she’s not spoiled for choice. All of them noble, but she knows that it will be her father who ultimately will decide for her, even if he asks for her opinion.
Much to her surprise, House Dayne makes a proposal. And for none other than Ser Arthur Dayne.
Of course she has heard of Ser Arthur, the Sword of the Morning, whom many consider the finest sword to grace the Seven Kingdoms. A dear friend to the Prince of Dragonstone, a former playmate to Princess Elia and brother to Lady Ashara, Princess Elia’s lady-in-waiting. So, out of curiosity, she asks her father to extend an invitation.
Ser Arthur comes, with a small retinue of friends and she is there to welcome him to Riverrun alongside her father and Lysa. He is handsome, she decides. Tall and pale and deep purple eyes, his smile comes easy to his face, making him all the more attractive. Has impeccable manners and is always respectful.
She takes her time, she wants to get to know him. She shows him her home, and he is inquisitive and curious; asks questions and listens to her answers. In turn, he tells her of Dorne, of King’s Landing and Dragonstone, jokes and makes her laugh, dances with her during the feast her father throws to end a feud between Blackwoods and Brackens.
And she begins to realize just how different he is. She’s always know he is a second son, and that in Dorne, a woman has a place in the succession without having to be behind her brothers. Ser Arthur is not fazed at her being the heiress, he is not fazed at the thought of following a woman’s command, after all, there’s a princess ruling Dorne.
Out of curiosity, one day she asks. “Does it bother you, Ser, that you must defer to a woman?”
“No, my lady,” he answers easily enough, lips quirking upwards in a faint smile. “Why should it? A woman can rule just as any man, and you my lady, seem to have been well prepared for rulership. Deferring to you would not be a hardship. I could be your sword, but the rest would be your work.”
She feels a deep sense of relief at hearing that, what is more, she know he means it. His eyes are clear and hold her gaze, there is no lies hiding in them. He speaks honestly, has never been one to mince words, even if his words have come with care, there is no deceit behind them. And she understands why Prince Rhaegar and Princess Elia hold him in such high regard.
He woos her the best he is able. Gives her flowers, dances with her, recites her poetry and – on occasion – sings to her, not before apologizing for not being as good a singer as Prince Rhaegar. She simply smiles and is thankful.
And she comes to see, that he actually likes her. And that she likes him too. And she realizes that her heart is making little flutters, which startles her, she has always been too practical for romance, she’s not as sweet as Lysa. She has been groomed to take over Riverrun and as such, she needs to be levelheaded and careful. But there is a small, child-like part of her that is happy.
There is a part of her that appreciates being romanced.
In the end, she goes to her father. She explains that if he will allow it, she would have Ser Arthur Dayne as husband. Her father’s gaze is deep and would be unnerving under other circumstances, but she stands tall and looks at her father right back. Then he nods, “I will write to his father, Little Cat. He will make a good husband, your uncle likes him well enough.”
That’s a relief to know. Brynden has always been protective, and to know that her uncle has deemed Arthur worthy, is a good thing. At least, he will not antagonize Arthur when they wed.
Ravens fly between Riverrun and Starfall, until the betrothal is ready. She allows a moment of child-like joy when her father tells her it is done. Much later, Arthur sweeps her off her feet in his arms, spins her around and laughter bubbles up from her.
They walk arm-in-arm together to the hall, Arthur is seated at her left as her father stands and announces their betrothal to the people of Riverrun and some other Lords her father’s hosting. A round of cheers goes off and she bows her head in acknowledgment. Some will question her choice, but she knows in her heart that she has made a good one.
Marriage preparations go ahead, she begins to sew her maiden cloak. Her father’s seamstress will make her dress. Arthur leaves for Dragonstone, and she is sad to watch him go, but she knows he will return and he will remain at her side.
“I will return as soon as I can,” he says and they walk around Riverrun. “It’s only the Prince who wishes to speak to me, perhaps he might even come to our wedding.”
She would be honored to have the Prince of Dragonstone at her marriage. “I hope so, I would be most honored if Prince Rhaegar and Princess Elia could come.”
The smile that Arthur gives her is one of gratitude. “Let us hope so, Ashara is also quite eager to know you, don’t be surprised if she brings plenty of gifts.”
“I wish to know her too, you speak highly of her and I feel like I know Lady Ashara.”
“She will love you,” He says with certainty.
Arthur is gone for months, all the while the marriage preparations have gone ahead. And he has send her letters, full of kind thoughts, inquiries and some poetry. She finds herself happy to be in his thoughts, that he is doing his best to show her that she is in his mind, even if he’s far away.
She has had the chance to finish her maiden cloak, her wedding gown is ready too. And when Arthur returns, with him come Prince Rhaegar, Princess Elia and Lady Ashara and an escort. It falls to her to provide accommodations, and she is glad to be reunited with Arthur.
Lady Ashara hugs her like a sister. “It’s good to meet the woman my brother loves,” she says, bright purple eyes shining with joy. Her smile and face are kind, gentle and there’s a softness to Ashara that she appreciates.
“And I am glad to meet his beloved sister,” she says. And Ashara simply smiles and hugs her again.
The morning of her wedding, Lysa and some other maids tend to her. Her dress is deep blue silk, red velvet trim and silver trouts embroidered around the neck and the sleeves. Her father gives her some of her mother’s jewels to wear, and Lysa places flowers in her hair, cooing at how lovely she is, and with the Tully cloak upon her shoulders, she makes makes to the Sept on the arm of her father.
Arthur looks quite dashing in purple and silver, he smiles when he sees her. And she feels her heart speed up and her breath catch in her throat. They recite their vows and exchange cloaks.
“With this kiss, I pledge my love,” he says.
“With this kiss, I pledge my love,” she answers looking in his eyes. And cheers erupt around them.
And she knows that she has found her match, she has found a good man who will not begrudge her her authority, a man who will counsel her without expecting his words to be final. A man who will follow wherever she may lead. One who is gentle and kind, one that makes her believe in songs and romance. And one that is worth more than thousands.
Perhaps their story will be one for the ages, but if not, then that is fine. So long as it is strong enough for the two of them, she’ll be happy. And when she looks at Arthur, and sees his eyes full of love and devotion, she knows it will be. Because she can see herself reflected on those deep eyes, and she sees her own happy face looking back at her.
She doesn’t have the same romantic nature as Lysa. But looking at her now husband’s eyes, his gentle smile as he takes her hand and leads her out of the Sept, she realizes, she just might allow herself to be, now and ever.
If only, in the privacy of his arms.