A/N: Written for the Seven Heavenly Virtues challenge on livejournal, this was the first thing that came to mind and I could not get it to go away. It is one of very few moments I could imagine him humbled.
He has been many men. He has been a son, farmer, an outlaw, a lieutenant; a friend, a lover, a hero and a general. He is a husband, a teyrn, a leader. Some of the things of the past have fallen by the wayside, and he tucks them in their places, safe from the harsh lights of day which threaten to make his memories less than they are.
Now, now he is this. For all the things he may have imagined about himself, this one...was never quite on the playing field. If he had ever entertained such ideas, he would have pushed them away as silly, indistinct dreamings. He has deserved little in this life, and taken much. Rarely has he been given.
Her lips are pressed together, smushed and plump like a rosebud. It seems cliché, he has heard them spoken of this way before, but the more he looks, the more the description fits. She has made her hands into fists, as though she holds on to something in her sleep she cannot bear to let go. She is strong, and this makes him proud. She is a warm, heavy weight, cradled in the crook of an arm, eyes softly shut in exhaustion. It has, after all, been a difficult week for her.
His wife slumbers as well, still weakened from the ordeal, and he enjoys this quiet time he has with her, with his daughter.
It seems inconceivable that he is allowed this. Maker, he's made mistakes, he's not...been a good person. He has betrayed and been betrayed, he has enjoyed the sight of blood dripping down his sword, enjoyed the feel of a bow in his hands, knowing it will be his arrows that takes a life. He has called for death and given it without apology. (He has regretted.) And yet. And yet.
Walking to the window with her, he lets the sun shine on her pink skin, on the wisps of blonde that are her mother's. He...is glad she does not look like him. He never thought himself to have appealing looks, and he would not wish his nose (though it exists now having been broken twice), his brow - none of these on a daughter. He wishes she would open her eyes, the blue-grey of steel so like his own, that the midwife insists all bairns have. He hopes they will not change as the midwife asserts they will. That is one thing he would like of himself in her. He dares touch her, one fingertip gently laid upon her tiny nose. She wrinkles her face, brushes at the contact with hands no longer in fists, but fingers stretching apart as far as they will go. She lets out a sigh, and he holds his breath, wondering if he has trespassed, waiting to see if she wakes. She does not, exhaling again, and his body relaxes, having not committed the crime of disturbing her. He dares again, the back of the same finger, stroking down a soft, downy cheek. At this she smacks her lips together, and makes a noise. He does not want to wake her, not really, but he cannot help touching her, assuring himself she is real. Her little pink tongue protrudes for a moment, and the muscles of his cheek twitch in what might be the predecessor to a smile.
Her eyes flutter, and he holds his breath. She blinks rapidly, shoving her hands across her face again, and he has only a glimpse of her eyes, still blue, before she settles again, exhaling rather loudly for such a small pair of lungs. Once he is sure she has found the Fade again, he begins to walk, his heavily booted feet somehow falling ever so quietly against the stone floor. He has not forgotten stealth, and he finds it useful once again.
"You are not what I expected," he informs her quietly. "I must be very good to your mother," he assures her, "she has done a wonderful thing with you."
Her chest rises and falls rapidly, short, shallow breaths that fill her tiny lungs. He has been told by many that he will change his tune when he becomes a father - it is not something he had planned, particularly. It is something other men do. It is not a way he would have defined himself before this moment, not a role he would have stepped into had someone presented him with any sort of choice in the matter.
He had married, as was expected of him, to a woman who asks few questions and yet seems to understand him, even after so little time together. She does not want him to be something he is not, and he had to bite his tongue more than once to avoid telling her that this role she was forcing him into was one of those things. He watched her belly swell with suspicion - it had happened so quickly, perhaps she had already been with child when she agreed to be his wife? He had not...approached the courting and asking the way he understood young women may have wanted. What little romance he may have had in his soul has been driven out. He...does not appreciate such frivolity. She still appears not to hold it against him, and...still she gives him this.
The words of those who clapped him on the back ("quick work there, Ser!") in congratulations and regaled him with stories of their own bairns when he had more important things to do ("I remember when my wee lad was born! Proudest day of my life! Makes you really think, don't it?") come back to him, and he admits that yes, yes he is in awe of her, of being allowed to have her, of her mere existence. He is afraid, for the first time in his life, of the mistakes he knows he will make. He is worried, as he has never cared before, that she will think poorly of him, of the decisions he has made, of the person he is. He cannot even imagine what comes after this - it is so unfamiliar to permit himself to think of...happiness. He thinks that yes, perhaps this is a second chance, this is something he has been charged with that he cannot allow himself to do poorly. He considers how many ways he can fail her, and decides, right then, that he will not. He doesn't know how he will do this thing, but he no longer feels he must with only obligatory disdain. No, he must because she deserves everything he can give, and he will go to bended knee for her happiness.
He makes a promise to himself - for her, he will do anything.
And all through these promises, she sleeps.