We don’t get to see what Catelyn does to parent a kid who is neither perfect or beloved like Sansa and Bran nor forced on her by circumstance and her husband like Jon because some days have gone by and we’re back with Bran.
Robert, Ned, and the older boys, except Jon, are off hunting. Bran thinks Jon is being prickly and unapproachable, which he doesn’t understand because he’s seven and the Wall in the north is every bit as cool as the Court in the south, so what’s Jon got to be angry about? Bran can’t wait to be off on his adventure. He idolizes knights, as seven year old boys are wont to do, and wants to be one of the Kingsguard.
The Kingsguard is a kind of counterpoint to the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch serve the realm, the Kingsguard… guard the king. The men wear all black and all white respectively, and both groups require them to take a vow of celibacy. Criminals often choose the Night’s Watch as an alternative to punishment while noble sons vie for the honour of being in the Kingsguard. The man whose sister was rumoured to be Jon’s mother, the man who was killed by Ned in the war, was one. There are two Kingsguard knights with Robert right now: Ser Boros and Ser Meryn. Jaime Lannister is of the Kingsguard too, and he was one for Aeryn Targaryen before Robert, but he killed the king he was supposed to guard, earning himself the nickname Kingslayer and Ned’s everlasting scorn. Says a lot about Ned, doesn’t it, that he despises a man who killed the king he was rebelling against for killing his father and brother, because it was that man’s sworn duty to die for this homicidal mad king. The Lord Commander of this merry band of men is Ser Barristan Selmy.
Bran is supposed to be using this last day home to say goodbye to people, but unsurprisingly, the thought of actually having to leave people behind in order to go on his adventure upsets him so he runs off to cry in the godswood. He’s lucky his father can’t catch him at it, if Ned was displeased little Rickon was hesitating about the direwolf, how would he feel about a boy who’s a whole seven years old crying like a baby? I bet Ned doesn’t even think babies should cry. He can’t afford for people to be born crybabies! Winter is coming!
Bran’s the only one who hasn’t named his direwolf yet. Robb name his Grey Wind, but it’s Rickon who wins the name your wolf something awesome competition for naming his Shaggydog. Why even bother coming up with a name, Bran? You can’t hope to come up something half as amazing as that. Bran, who Catelyn mentioned is a climber, decides that climbing will take his mind off things, so he leaves his wolf waiting at the base of a tree near the armoury and starts making his way up. The nameless wolf is not happy about it, but Bran hasn’t had a magical wolf long enough to know that you’re supposed to listen to their surprisingly prescient warnings. Then again, would it be a fantasy epic if a magical animal’s prescient warnings weren’t being ignored?
Bran loves climbing. You think Tyrion was a ninja somersaulting off some ledge? Ha! Bran scales castle walls in his sleep. Bran knows secret passages that the builders didn’t even know they built. Bran can bend time and space by coming out of the northern gates two minutes before he climbed up the southern tower. I may be exaggerating that last one a teensy bit. The point is, climbing is what Bran does, even though Catelyn worries that he’ll break his neck one day. Catelyn tried to get Ned to forbid it, but Ned doesn’t like to restrict his children’s true nature. Old Nan’s stories of crows pecking out a climbing boy’s eyes do nothing to scare Bran, the crow whisperer. Maester Luwin used a clay doll to demonstrate the jump-push-fall principle (not really, he just dropped a doll out a window to scare Bran with its shattering), but Bran found it irrelevant because he doesn’t fall and didn’t plan to jump. Guards chasing him became a reenactment of that scene in Disney’s Aladdin when the guards chase Aladdin through the market in the beginning. Except, presumably, the singing.
Bran makes his monkey way towards his favourite spot and gets distracted by voices on the way, coming from a part of the castle that’s usually empty. The players are: (a) the Woman; (b) the Man.
Woman: The honour of wiping when the king shits should be yours.
Man: And I would want that… why?
Woman: Because Robert loves Ned in a brotherly, but not incestual, fashion.
Man: Robert hates his brother (Stannis and Renly), does that mean he hates Ned?
Woman: Being an asshole is not constructive.
Man: I can think of something constructive we could do. wink wink
Woman: Ned Stark suspects us of something vague and unspecified!
Man: Ned Stark worships at the altar of Duty. Or possibly he just wants to ditch his wife and enjoy all the melons that the south has to offer.
Woman: Speaking of his wife, her sister is the dead man’s wife and is suspicious of us in an indistinct but ominous way.
Man: If she knew anything, she would’ve said something to someone.
Woman: Not if she understands that our invitation to foster her child (wait a minute, didn’t Tywin Lannister offer to foster Robert Arryn? Does that mean that these two are…) is really a threat to hold her child hostage.
Man: It doesn’t matter if she does know anything since she can’t prove what she might know.
Woman: The king doesn’t love me, so he’d believe anything anybody said about me.
Man: “And whose fault is that, sweet sister?” (Viserys called Danny “sweet sister” too, is that some sort of incest convention?)
Bran still doesn’t recognize the speakers, but the dialogue has become transparent about it being Cersei and Jaime. Jaime isn’t worried about Ned because he thinks all honour-bound men are easy to read, but Cersei is nervous that if Ned overthrew one king, he can do another as soon as his friend is off the throne and her kid is on it. Bran has to hug a gargoyle with his legs and hang upside down from it to look inside. (Is it me or is GRRM really into acrobatics?) He processes the two having sex through a seven-year-old filter and finally recognizes them, which causes him to make a noise and get found out. He loses his grip on the gargoyle and falls, catching himself on the side of the wall. Jaime pulls him up onto the window’s ledge, asks him how old he is…
Bran doesn’t fall and didn’t plan to jump. Bran was pushed.