The mood is surprisingly cheerful; laughter echoes through the darkness, and the space is full of spirits in small groups. They are waiting for news, as always, but there is more excitement than dread. While they wait, they find new ways to entertain each other and themselves.
Margaery: [so quietly she is almost whispering] If you ever call me sister again I’ll have you strangled in your sleep.
Robert: [guffawing] BRILLIANT! Do another one!
Margaery: How about this one… [this time her tone is breathless and gruff] Yessss Khaleeeeesssi
Robert: SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE HIM! Another!
Margaery: Shansha pleash… Oy love you Shansha…
Robert: [roars with laughter]
The raucous laughter of his brother draws Stannis’s attention.
Stannis: What in seven hells are you doing?
Robert: It’s bloody hilarious, brother. The Lady Margaery is a gifted mimic.
Margaery: [in a deep humourless voice] Actually, she’s Queen Margaery…
Stannis: Why was that funny? Who was that meant to be?
Margaery: Oh look! It’s starting!
Robert: GATHER ROUND, YOU LOT! We had it easy last time, just lots of talking. Maybe we’ll get some fire and blood this time, eh? [to Margaery] Who’s this? [In a ridiculous high pitched voice] Oooh, Jon, you’re so brave and surly. Let’s go for a ride on my dragons and burn some dead folk. Dracarys!
Stannis: When has she ever said anything remotely like that?
Robert: [still in a high pitched voice] When has she ever said anything remotely like that?
Renly: HAHAHAHAHAHA classic Stannis!
Stannis: I hate you both.
Olenna: Hush! I can’t hear anything. This is going to be horribly uncomfortable for Lord Tywin, and I don’t want to miss a single excruciating second.
Olenna: Come now, you don’t want to miss this either. Your pride and joy, finally facing some consequences for his actions? When the only people who can save him are [counting on her fingers] the son you are ashamed of and who murdered you — on the privy, lest we forget — and rest assured I never will — the woman whose father you deposed, and that marvellous woman he gave his sword to?
Robert: [leering and raising his eyebrows]
Olenna: His Valyrian steel sword, Robert. The one Lord Tywin had specially made, just for his precious golden boy.
Margaery: He has another sword though, doesn’t he grandmother?
Robert: [leering and raising his eyebrows]
Olenna: Widow’s Wail. [she rolls her eyes]
Robert: [looks disappointed]
Olenna: As if Joffrey needed a sword, anyway. When he wasn’t hiding behind his mother’s skirts, he only tormented the weak and powerless. He really was a c—-
Olenna: I might be dead, but I’m still too old to beat about the bush, my dear.
Olenna: [wearily] Yes, your Grace. And I’m sure Jaime’s special golden sword would love to pay Brienne a visit now that it’s no longer desperately poking at his sister’s—-
Olenna: …But we’re all forgetting just how uncomfortable Lord Tywin must be.
Olenna: He can purse his lips all he likes. We all know.
Olenna: Was that it?
Viserys: Just kill the Kingslayer, Dany! Ugh.
Ned and Cat join them.
Olenna: Very disappointing turn of events, there.
Cat: With Ser Jaime, it’s…complicated. Part of me hates him and wants him to die. But—
Ned: We stand by Sansa. She’s no fool.
Olenna: Lady Stark, I thought you had a heart of stone when it came to your enemies.
Cat: I did. That time has passed.
Olenna: And I don’t understand your odd son.
Ned: Nobody does.
Robert: Your daughter really likes the look of my boy!
Cat: [smiling] I can see why. He looks like he needs a bath though.
Ned: So does she, most of the time. [They smile at each other] Whatever makes her happy.
Cat: Thank the gods she never had to marry a Frey.
Margaery: [cooing] Jaime loves Brienne.
Cat: She deserves better. But she deserves happiness most of all.
Renly: I agree.
Ned: I’m glad you aren’t angry with her anymore.
Cat: Loving him was never a betrayal of me, or our family. Not really. My anger was…misplaced.
Renly: She has known so much unkindness and scorn. So few respected her.
Cat: You always did.
Renly: I know about the cruelty of unworthy men.
Cat: She loved you.
Renly: I didn’t deserve her love. Not really.
Cat: She told me you were kind to her. And then you valued her as a fighter.
Renly: She was the most honourable member of my Kingsguard. My heart belonged to another, but she had my respect.
Loras: Finally remembered me, did you?
Renly: You’re just angry that she beat you.
Olenna: Boys, boys, boys.
Margaery: That’s better. Sansa and Daenerys are making some progress now.
Margaery: Oof. Perhaps she should leave the very awkward questions until after the battle.
Ned: [To Cat] She reminds me so much of you.
Cat: Stubborn? Never letting anything go?
Ned: Beautiful. Intelligent. Fierce. Always right.
They smile at one another.
Olenna: There seems to be a lot of hugging going on. I’m sure we were never that…effusive.
Margaery: Maybe things would have played out differently if you were?
Olenna: Hugging is for the young.
Far from the main group, an excited cry is heard, followed by some howling.
Robert: Here come the Night’s Watch.
Stannis: Time for a War Council!
Olenna: I do enjoy a big map.
Robert: [sighing] I can’t stand this bloody waiting. So much talking about fighting. Get to the fighting!
Olenna: These things never go according to plan either. All those clever, clever men. They always get something wrong.
Stannis: The people around that table have outsmarted each other before. Maybe together they stand a chance.
Olenna: I suspect we will have some new guests joining us soon.
They murmur in agreement.
Cat: Oh, Samwell.
Ned: Death isn’t forgetting, or being forgotten.
Renly: It’s not the end. It’s the start of forever.
Margaery: All that is important, you take with you.
Loras: Or meet again.
Margaery: Or wait for…
Cat: Everything else? You can let go.
Olenna: You can stay and watch for as long as you like.
Loras: And when you’re ready….
Stannis: When you have made your peace…
They smile at each other, in a rare moment of unity.
Robert: What in seven hells are you all talking about? Being dead is so BORING.
Oberyn: I agree. It is no place for men like us.
Cat: There are seven. This is the first. Perhaps the next one is more to your liking. When it is time.
Oberyn: Perhaps we will feel the joys of our flesh once more. [He winks at Margaery]
Stannis: Seeking refuge in the crypts seems rather foolish when your foe can raise the dead.
Olenna: Oh good, more awkwardness for Tywin. How does it feel to have your sons defending Winterfell? Let me see your face.
Margaery: I suppose you could see it as a move that benefits the family.
Olenna: Of course!
Margaery: If they win, then they will have secured a favourable position in the new order. And Jaime is keeping his word.
Olenna: Absolutely! I’m sure that is how you see it, Lord Tywin!
Margaery: [pensively] If Tyrion’s whoremongering days are over, does that mean he is in love?
Olenna: He’s been making cow eyes at the Dragon Queen, so it wouldn’t surprise me. Knowing her luck, he’ll turn out to be another relative.
Robert: Come to think of it, there was that rumour…
Tywin storms off. Robert and Olenna chuckle.
Olenna: That is what death really is. Your secrets laid bare. Nowhere to hide any more. For some, that is a nightmare. For those who always told the brutal truth, it’s nothing to fear. Perhaps it’s just sport.
Margaery: Look at them, trying to impress Brienne.
Robert: He did WHAT to a giant?
Olenna: Guzzling from a giant horn. Very subtle.
Olenna: They really are miserable old shits, aren’t they?
Ned: Oh my.
Robert: LOOK AWAY, NED!
Ned: I’m not sure any of us need to watch this.
The ghosts turn their backs, looking uncomfortable. Margaery is the first to peep again.
Margaery: It’s alright, we’re back to the Great Hall.
Cat: She deserves this.
Renly: I should have done that long ago.
Margaery: She has such a beautiful smile!
Robert: [sniffing] Is there going to be any fighting or what?
Ned: Are you—-
Robert: Impatient? Bored? YES
Robert: IT’S ALL SHE EVER WANTED, OF COURSE I’M CRYING. AND NOW SHE’S CLEARLY GOING TO DIE.
Olenna: That marvellous little Lyanna Mormont is all decked out for battle as well.
Robert: NOT HER TOO! I CAN’T BEAR IT.
Stannis: Ha! Bear! Nice one!
Robert: THIS ISN’T THE TIME FOR YOU TO SUDDENLY START MAKING JOKES.
Renly: Brother! Look! Sam is giving Heartsbane to Ser Jorah!
Robert: [sniffs] The Tarly boy?
Renly: That’s the one. You know how the Tarlys always cheer you up.
In the shadows, a short distance away, the ghost of a young man sighs heavily.
Dickon: Could have picked literally anything else as my name. But no. Thanks, parents. Thanks a bunch.
Back at the main group, the ghosts fall silent as they listen to a familiar song.
Ned: Do they know we’re watching?
Cat: Sometimes I wonder.
Ned: I hope they do.
Cat: We will always be here for them.
They huddle together, and voices across the dark expanse begin to join the song. Slowly at first, then one by one, more voices join them. When Pod falls quiet below, they continue without him.
High in the halls of the kings who are gone,
Jenny would dance with her ghosts.
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most.
The ones who’d been gone for so very long
She couldn’t remember their names
They spun her around on the damp old stone
Spun away all her sorrow and pain.
And she never wanted to leave.
Viserys: Look! Jon’s telling Dany about—
Ned: Not now, Viserys.
Never wanted to leave.
Viserys: But this is—
Cat: It’s not the time.
Never wanted to leave.
Viserys: The Night’s King is here!
Never wanted to leave.
Header Image Source: HBO