(blood is one thing, family is another)
One of her earliest memories is of her sister, big brown eyes filled with tears, and the stinging pain after a blow to the face.
“Idiot child,” says their brother or cousin or uncle, the Twins fill to bursting with so many Freys she’s not sure how they are related, “Learn your place.”
The House of Frey is not a family, there is no kindness here: Carlin learns never to ask for something when taking is much more efficient.
Roslin is gentle and beautiful and, if not loved, then regarded fondly by others.
Carlin is the exact opposite: rough and loud and brash and only loved by her sister, but she is satisfied with that.
She’d rather be brave than kind, would rather fight than cry, would rather have only Roslin than the dozens of other Freys.
When she and Roslin are six, Carlin dresses in clothes stolen from a brother or a cousin or an uncle, and lines up alongside the boys of her family who are beginning to train in swords.
Beside herself, there are four other Freys of age; the master-at-arms too busy to check if she should even be there at all.
Carlin gets callouses on her palms and scrapes on her knuckles and couldn’t be happier.
Roslin doesn’t approve, but she doesn’t tell anyone else about it either–that early memory is one they share, after all–and she is distraction enough that no one thinks to borrow trouble in the form of Carlin.
As years pass, House Frey seems to forget that the lord’s sixth wife had two daughters, not just one.
… until it’s time for the newest generation of Freys to become squires.
This most recent blow to the face leaves her speechless not from pain–for she is a knight in training–but from shock.
Carlin thinks this is the first time Walder Frey has ever touched her, much less spoken to her.
Just like last time, she sees Roslin’s eyes fill with tears and Carlin learns a new lesson.
Think fast, talk faster, and maybe she can turn shame into glory.
If she were a terrible warrior, then that would be one thing, but she has been trained well and is skilled besides–this can still be salvaged.
If she fails, then that would only prove Lord Frey right, but if she succeeds…
Women warriors aren’t common in Westeros, but Carlin isn’t the first: there are the Sand Snakes of Dorne, the Maiden Knight of Tarth, and the Lady Bears of the North.
Surely one of them will be honored at the idea of a noble born squire?
Roslin helps her write the letters and, for the last time, acts as distraction so Carlin can seal and send them off.
Ideally the Mormonts, Carlin thinks to herself at night, listening to the soft breaths of her sleeping sister.
Brienne’s storyline intwines with the Baratheons and the Lannisters too closely for comfort.
And though the Sand Sisters would be good for her personally–the name Frey would not be a death sentence in Dorne regardless of the path their lord father chooses–Roslin deserves happiness; it wasn’t fair that she should be used as bait in a trap.
The whole of House Frey could burn to the ground and Carlin would be fine with that so long as Roslin were safe and happy.
Carlin presses a hand to her throat, remembering the fates of those brothers, cousins, nephews, whose only crime was to be named Frey.
Nevertheless, Carlin goes North: she doesn’t expect to be spared if it comes to that, she hopes to derail that future entirely.
A/N: I didn’t want to write about whether or not Carlin succeeds because… that’s not the point of this series…
Post Word Count: 607, Running Word Count: 7911