He was halfway done with the snowman who he heard footsteps from behind him and saw two boys coming toward him and looking at him and the snowball curiously.
"Domeric." The red haired boy said with a nod of his head and the black haired boy behind him followed his lead and bowed to him as well.
"Robb Stark." He said with a nod and then went back to putting snow on the ball "How may I help you?"
"What are you doing?" Robb asked curiously as he moved forward to glace at the white ball that he was now moving around the courtyard to make it larger.
A simple look in his mind showed that Lady Stark had just reminded him to have a proper friendship with him as his house one of the strongest ones in the North after their own.
She did not know that Rob Stark already looked up to him as an older brother figure due to all the loyalty charms he placed on the boy.
He still felt bad for doing so as Robb Stark was a decent sort of boy who followed after his father's footsteps in being honorable and kind hearted. But he didn't want there to be any enmity between the two houses for no reason so a small sacrifice of his morality was a small price to pay.
"I'm making a snow man." He replied with a gentle smile as he continued to roll around the ball and both Robb and Jon looked at him in confusion.
"What's a Snow man." Jon asked with a frown and when he raised an eyebrow at him Jon's eyes widened in shock and he instantly bowed to him.
"I meant no disrespect my lord." Jon said quickly with his bowed head and Robb frowned at Jon with a sad expression on his face.
Reading his mind told him that Robb was frustrated because he considered Jon to be his brother and felt bad when other lords and ladies looked down on Jon Snow because of his birth.
Not that he cared about bastards as he believed that the lords who fucks other women outside wedlock should be the one to be blamed rather than their innocent children.
"No disrespect taken." He said with a smile and then went ahead to explain the concept of a Snow man to the two boys.
By the end of the hour, they had created two Snow men and he had made a decent sort of friendship with the boys when one of the Stark guards came up to him and told him that Lord Stark was expecting him in his Solar.
He bid Robb and Jon goodbye and went to meet Lord Stark in order to talk with him about the betrothal.
"Lord Bolton." The stoic man said with a nod.
"My lord." He replied with a nod.
"Please take a seat Lord Bolton." Ned Stark said as he pointed at the chair and he nodded at sat down.
"Call me Domeric my lord." He said "There's no need for formalities when there's only two of us."
Ned Stark looked a bit taken aback at his words and frowned in confusion for a moment before he slowly gave a cautious nod.
"Very well. Then you can call me Ned as well." He paused and then continued "In private."
"Alright. Then let's get straight to the point Ned. What do want with me?" his directness surprised Ned Stark who wanted to start the conversation by praising him for leading his people to prosperity despite becoming a lord at such a young age so as to put him at ease before talking about the betrothal. But his directness left Ned Stark fumbling over what he should say next even though none of his emotions showed in his stoic face.
After a moment, Ned Stark started "You're a clever lad Domeric. Your recent inventions of Printing Press, Paper Mill, Frost Steel making device, the dozens of iron mines being opened in your lands and the immense amount of increase in the amount of food that your people produce. All these things have made your house far more powerful in the recent years. Such power imbalance usually lead to a civil war. So we can't allow you to gain any more power. Not unless something is done about this whole situation."
"And by something, you mean my betrothal to your daughter Sansa Stark?" he stated without any preamble and Ned's eyes slightly widened in surprise before he took control of his emotions once again.
"How did you know about it?" Ned asked cautiously and he gave a shrug.
"I didn't." He replied "But my aunt guessed that you would ask for such a thing on my visit here because of the new wealth that my house had accumulated. And I agreed with her in that regard."
Ned gave a stoic no of understanding but I his mind, he was relieved that he didn't find this bit of information from any spy that he might have planted in Winterfell.
"Yes, Sansa is only 7 namedays old at the moment and won't marry you until she is of age. And to tell you the truth, I don't want to promise her hand to someone just yet. But given the circumstances, I have no other choice. So what do you say. Do you agree to this betrothal?" Ned asked but within his mind, Ned already believed that he would not disagree with this match.
If Ned Stark thought so, then he had something else coming for him.
"I'll like to meet your daughter Sansa Stark before I make my decision Lord Stark." He said and Ned looked a bit surprised for a moment but then he gave a nod of understanding.
"That's perfectly understandable. You have my permission to court my daughter during your stay here in Winter fell." He said with gritted teeth. Clearly, he didn't like the idea of anyone courting his daughter at such a young age "But I want your answer before you leave Domeric."
He gave a nod "If there's nothing else Lord Stark?" he asked and upon Ned Stark's nod, he left the solar.
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