Ned had a bitter taste in his mouth. He recalled the two fair-haired boys Robert had sent chasing after a breastplate stretcher. The king had told everyone the tale that night at the feast, laughing until he shook. "Which squire?"
The elder, said Sir Barristan. "Lancel."
I know the lad well, said Varys. "A stalwart boy, Sir Kevan Lannister's son, nephew to Lord Tywin and cousin to the queen. I hope the dear sweet lad does not blame himself. Children are so vulnerable in the innocence of their youth, how well do I remember."
Certainly Varys had once been young. Ned doubted that he had ever been innocent. "You mention children. Robert had a change of heart concerning Daenerys Targaryen. Whatever arrangements you made, I want unmade. At once."
Alas, said Varys. "At once may be too late. I fear those birds have flown. But I shall do what I can, my lord. With your leave." He bowed and vanished down the steps, his soft-soled slippers whispering against the stone as he made his descent.
Cayn and Tomard were helping Ned across the bridge when Lord Renly emerged from Maegor's Holdfast. "Lord Eddard," he called after Ned, "a moment, if you would be so kind."
Ned stopped. "As you wish."