Kings are not supposed to have mothers, it would seem, and I tell him things he does not want to hear.
Great or small, we must do our duty. (dedicated to the fantastic joanna on her birthday!!)
Even her tears she hoards to herself. He had expected anguish and anger when he told her of her brother’s death, but Sansa’s face had remained so still that for a moment he feared she had not understood. It was only later, with a heavy oaken door between them, that he heard her sobbing. She had lost her home, her place in the world, and everyone she had ever loved or trusted. Winter is coming, warned the Stark words, and truly it had come for them with a vengeance.
I don’t want any Lannister, she wanted to say. I want Willas, I want Highgarden and the puppies and the barge, and sons named Eddard and Bran and Rickon. But then she remembered what Dontos had told her in the godswood. Tyrell or Lannister, it makes no matter, it’s not me they want, only my claim.
In which I reflect upon Stannis’s religious views
One thing that I firmly believe about Stannis is that he believes in Melisandre’s powers because he’s seen them and has experienced them but this doesn’t mean he believes in her God.
Stannis strikes me as being the ultimate cynic in the real sense of the term. A blackguard who sees things as they are and not as they ought to be. That’s why he’s bitter and perfectly aware that he’s despised by everyone, that’s why he has no illusions regarding his difficulties (As I believe Asha’s chapter demonstrates). This why the death of his parents showed him that there are no Gods. Any Gods. Not just the Seven, all of them. Melisandre has power we all know that. As Thoros of Myr has too. Stannis believes in those powers but Melisandre herself says that he doesn’t worship her God. His only God is Duty as is Snow’s.
Everything Stannis does is because he’s dutiful, because he believes he must do it. He doesn’t do it out of the sake or belief for any God. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in powers or magic or prophecies (since most people in Westeros do). It might be that he fancies himself to be the savior of Westeros. But if he does, it’s not because he’s God’s chosen but because it’s his duty. This a paradox of a sort but it is present in Stannis. Stannis doesn’t preach to any God, Stannis doesn’t endorse Melisandre’s speech on the Red God (or Davos’s speech on the Seven by that matter) he doesn’t believe there is a God(s). Stannis believes in what he sees. And what he sees is Melisandre’s power, what he sees is that there is a threat coming from the North and he is in the right place at the right time to do something about it. And he must, because it’s his duty: the foe he was born to fight.
Martin himself says so. When Martin says clearly that Stannis was the only who understood that the real threat came from the North and that makes him different than other “Kings” and then he has Stannis saying clearly: “Lord Seaworth reminded me of my duty when all I could think of was my rights. I had the cart before the horses, Davos said.”Melisandre herself says this. Melisandre herself is aware of this and doesn’t really seem very concerned: “He does not love me, [Jon Snow] will never love me, but he will make use of me. Well and good. Melisandre had danced the same dance with Stannis Baratheon (…) Both men were unbelievers by nature, mistrustful, suspicious. The only gods they truly worshiped were honour and Duty”.
GoT 3.09 Rains of Castamere | Grey Worm