Bastard did me good, eh? But I...I paid him back in kind, Ned." The king's smile was as terrible as his wound, his teeth red. "Drove a knife right through his eye. Ask them if I didn't. Ask them."
Truly, Lord Renly murmured. "We brought the carcass back with us, at my brother's command."
For the feast, Robert whispered. "Now leave us. The lot of you. I need to speak with Ned."
Robert, my sweet lord... Cersei began.
I said leave, Robert insisted with a hint of his old fierceness. "What part of that don't you understand, woman?"
Cersei gathered up her skirts and her dignity and led the way to the door. Lord Renly and the others followed. Grand Maester Pycelle lingered, his hands shaking as he offered the king a cup of thick white liquid. "The milk of the poppy, Your Grace," he said. "Drink. For your pain."
Robert knocked the cup away with the back of his hand. "Away with you. I'll sleep soon enough, old fool. Get out."
Grand Maester Pycelle gave Ned a stricken look as he shuffled from the room.
Damn you, Robert, Ned said when they were alone. His leg was throbbing so badly he was almost blind with pain. Or perhaps it was grief that fogged his eyes. He lowered himself to the bed, beside his friend. "Why do you always have to be so headstrong?"