Beric was in the dining hall when he heard the news. Winterfell had been taken by the Greyjoy's and Bran and Rickon were dead, with their bodies burnt beyond recognition, according to Varys' little birds and the ravens that had been sent.
"Why would he burn the bodies? How do they know the two boys are Rickon and Bran?" Thought Beric as he got his food, though he did not have much of an appetite. He didn't know how he would tell Sansa. She would be devastated. She already lost a father and a sister, now she lost her youngest brothers.
Just as he sat down to eat, he noticed Cersei Lannister walking towards him. Ever since he had been assigned to be Sansa's guard she had been practically obsessed with him. He was uncomfortable to say the least. She was increasingly agitated and snappy, even with Lancel's "companionship". He wondered if it had something to do with Jaime being gone. Ever since his abduction and the rumors regarding her children she had been on edge.
"Ser Beric, walk with me." she demanded.
"Yes, your Highness." he replied. As they walked into the Gardens she stopped.
"Do you know why I'm talking to you Ser Beric?"
"No, Your Grace."
"I want to learn more about you."
"What would you like to know?" Beric struggled hard not to cringe.
"How close were you with your sister?"
"If I recall, I mentioned we were fairly close as children during my reassignment. We did almost everything together."
"You know what I mean. Did you or your brother ever -".
"No." he responded. "We don't do that in Dorne."
"Really? What a shame. The three of you are connected by something more than family and none of you take advantage of it."
Beric shuffled uncomfortably. He had only now begun to smell the alcohol in her breath.
"Do you think we should really be discussing this here?"
"We will discuss this wherever and whenever I want it to be discussed. You judge me yet you served the Targaryens. The Targaryens wed brothers and sisters for three hundred years to keep bloodlines pure. Jaime and I are more than brother and sister; we shared a womb, came into this world together, we belong together."
At that moment he remembered having stumbled upon the Queen's brother climbing down an empty tower one night a few years ago, around when Tommen would have been conceived. Wanting to avoid a confrontation with the Kingslayer, he took a seldom used route and saw the Queen walk down his usual route a few minutes later. Beric had always sensed something unnatural about the relationship between the queen and her brother from the day he met them all those years ago. They were always too close to each other, even for twins, the way they looked at each other, talked about each other, and stood too close to each other, that made him uneasy, even before the truth hit him like a ton of bricks. What was even worse was the way he heard her attempt to justify it. Even so he made no effort to tell the usurper, as he would not hesitate to kill Cersei's babes and nail his wife and brother in law's heads on spikes. He did occasionally note how much Joffrey and his siblings looked like their mother in hopes someone would catch on, but people only began to act a little before Jon Arryn died. The King's brother, Stannis, was the first to acknowledge his hints, though he already had his suspicions according to the whispers of birds. Most of the Court suspected as well, but no one dared say anything. The only person who seemed unaware was the King himself. Tywin also seemed unaware, but Beric suspected deep down he knew. Tywin was incredibly intelligent, there was no way he couldn't have known.
"Why did he have to be captured?" she asked woefully.
"He is a powerful political pawn. The Starks will probably use him to get Sansa and Arya back."
"So everyone tells me. Why did it have to be Jamie, they already had that little beast hostage."
"Tyrion managed to get himsel-"
"Don't remind me."
"I'm sorry Your Grace."
Just as Cersei was about to say something, Tyrion appeared.
"What are you harassing Sansa's poor knight about, Sweet Sister?"
"It's none of your business. We were having a private conversation."
"It is my business when it comes to the safety of the people of King's Landing."
"Sansa is not a citizen of King's Landing, she is a traitor's daughter and a northern whore."
"That Northern Whore is currently going to marry your son. She is also the daughter of your late husband's best friend, who was the beloved ruler of the North. The same North in open rebellion against your son because he had the bright idea to kill said beloved ruler."
"You know damn well I tried to stop him."
"You tried, and you failed."
"It's not my fault, he won't listen to me anymore."
"Oh well, at least we have one of the Stark sisters. Though considering current events we may have to wait on hostage negotiations. "
"What do you mean?" Cersei looked surprised.
"You mean you haven't been told? Ned Stark's ward, the Greyjoy, took over Winterfell and killed the youngest Stark boys. He burned their bodies to a crisp."
Shock and anger washed over Cersei's face.
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Without their hold on Winterfell, it wouldn't be practical to send Sansa back. You don't want Sansa to fall into the hands of the Greyjoys, do you?"
"I don't care what happens to that Stark girl, I just want her gone."
"Gone like her little sister, Arya?"
"Arya wasn't my fault! It was the Goldcloaks'!"
"Did I blame you for her disappearance? No, but I am curious as to what happened that day."
Tyrion turned to Beric, wbo shifted uncomfortably. He was afraid of being asked this question.
"I was in my room when it happened. I was told minutes after she escaped and was asked to find her. I was working on another case at the time. By the time I got there she was long gone. My men and I searched everywhere but King's Landing is a big City. She could be anywhere." Beric lied. He had seen Arya running around the streets of King's Landing on many occasions, and on that day he had seen her on the statue of Baelor. When he went to its location she had already been grabbed by a man Eddard trusted. He witnessed the man cut her hair and join the criminals heading towards the Wall. When asked about Arya, he just said he guessed she snuck out of King's Landing when Sansa was captured.
"Hmm. It's a shame you weren't able to find her, she would have made a valuable bargaining chip."
"Why are you here Tyrion?"
"Oh right, I wanted to escort you to the Small Council Chamber."
"I can find my own way to the Small Council Chamber, and the meeting isn't until midday."
"Can you? I just thought it would save time. Also I wanted to free Beric so we won't lose another Stark."
"We won't lose Sansa, will we Ser Beric?"
"No your Grace."
"You are excused then, Ser Beric."
"Thank You, your Grace." he replied.
Beric left the scene as fast as he could without seeming like he was running. Lady Sansa would be finished changing and would likely be waiting for him in her room. He wasn't looking forward to this conversation. He had stopped by and got some lemon cakes from the castle baker, and headed to her room. When he got to her room, he knocked, and hoped no one had told her.
"Just a moment" he heard her say. He also heard scrambling and drawers shutting quickly. Suddenly the door opened.
"I am sorry for being late My Lady, The Queen wanted to talk to me."
"It's ok Ser Beric, I was working on my embroidery. Are those lemon cakes?" Sansa looked at him closer. "Something bad has happened hasn't it? Is it Robb?"
"It's Theon. He took over Winterfell. Bran and Rickon are dead, their bodies burned beyond recognition."
"Oh." Sansa was near tears.
"Sansa, the King will probably want to torment you with this information himself."
"Are you sure it's them? You said the bodies were burned beyond recognition."
Beric paused for a moment.
"...No. But either way two boys were killed."
Just as he whispered this, Varys walked up to them.
"Sorry for the intrusion, but the King would like Sansa to appear at the Small Council Meeting."
"Why are you telling her this and not one of the Kingsguard?" asked Beric.
"I was already heading to the council chamber when I heard. I wanted to be the one to tell you. And also to offer my condolences to Sansa before the King got around to telling her." Varys gave the two of them a knowing smile.