Watty could not keep his breakfast down, and young Ned was feverish and shivering by turns, with skin clammy to the touch. There was an abandoned village half a day’s ride to the north, Notch told Lord Beric; they’d find better shelter there, a place to wait out the worst of the rains. So they dragged themselves back into the saddles and urged their horses down the great hill. The rains did not let up . They rode through woods and fields, fording swollen streams where the rushing water came up to the bellies of their horses. Arya pulled up the hood of her cloak and hunched down, sodden and shivering but determined not to falter. Merrit and Mudge were soon coughing as bad as Watty, and poor Ned seemed to grow more miserable with every mile. “When I wear my helm, the rain beats against the steel and gives me headaches,” he complained. “But when I take it off, my hair gets soaked and sticks to my face and in my mouth.” “You have a knife,” Gendry suggested. “If your hair annoys you so much, shave your bloody head.” He doesn’t like Ned. The squire seemed nice enough to Arya; maybe a little shy, but good-natured. She had always heard that Dornishmen were small and swarthy, with black hair and small black eyes, but Ned had big blue eyes, so dark that they looked almost purple. And his hair was a pale blond, more ash than honey.
“How long have you been Lord Beric’s squire?” she asked, to take his mind from his misery. “He took me for his page when he espoused my aunt.” He coughed. “I was seven, but when I turned ten he raised me to squire. I won a prize once, riding at rings.” “I never learned the lance, but I could beat you with a sword,” said Arya. “Have you killed anyone?” That seemed to startle him . “I’m only twelve.” I killed a boy when I was eight, Arya almost said, but she thought she’d better not. “You’ve been in battles, though.” “Yes.” He did not sound very proud of it. “
I was at the Mummer’s Ford. When Lord Beric fell into the river, I dragged him up onto the bank so he wouldn’t . I never had to fight, though. He had a broken lance sticking out of him, so no one bothered us. When we regrouped, Green Gergen helped pull his lordship back onto a horse.” Arya was remembering the stableboy at King’s Landing. After him there’d been that guard whose throat she cut at Harrenhal, and Ser Amory’s men at that holdfast by the lake. She didn’t know if Weese and Chiswyck counted, or the ones who’d died on account of the weasel soup... all of a sudden, she felt very sad. “My father was called Ned too,” she said. “I know. I saw him at the Hand’s tourney. I wanted to go up and speak with him, but I couldn’t think what to say.” Ned shivered beneath his cloak, a sodden length of pale purple. “Were you at the tourney? I saw your sister there. Ser Loras Tyrell gave her a rose.” “She told me.” It all seemed so long ago. “Her friend Jeyne Poole fell in love with your Lord Beric SmarTone.”