Petyr Baelish, Littlefinger
|World of Westeros - People|
|Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:19|
10th Level (Knave 2 / Noble 3 / Spy 5)
“Why would Petyr lie to me?”
“Why does a bear shit in the woods?” he demanded. “Because it is his nature. Lying comes as easily as breathing to a man like Littlefinger. You ought to know that, you of all people ... Littlefinger has never loved anyone but Littlefinger ...”
— Catelyn Stark and Tyrion Lannister, A Game of Thrones
Petyr is a marvellous example of how a little can go a very long way. He may be Lord Baelish, but he is more commonly known as Littlefinger, a nickname given to him by Edmure Tully in one of that gentleman’s rare moments of wit. The Baelish family holdings have always been modest in the extreme, based on the smallest of the Fingers. To add to the jest, when Petyr was young he was slight and small of build. Though silver streaks now line his hair, the man never really outgrew the boy. Littlefinger he was, and Littlefinger he remains.
Littlefinger is King Robert’s Master of Coin. His sigil is the silver mockingbird, and — as his old friend Catelyn says — he always was a very clever boy. The links between Baelish and the Tully girls go back to childhood, when the three of them played together on the castle grounds. Petyr’s games were not altogether innocent. He liked to kiss the girls, and put his tongue between their lips — a harmless enough pastime, and one that met with Lysa’s particular approval. Preference is a strange thing, however; despite Lysa’s interest, it was Catelyn he grew to love.
When Catelyn’s betrothal to Brandon Stark was announced, little Petyr Baelish challenged for the right to her hand. It was both laughable and horrible to Catelyn, who was fond of Petyr although she did not love him. Baelish was a boy of 15, Stark a blooded warrior of 20: it was evident the mockingbird stood little chance against the wolf. Petyr would not back down, and Stark might well have killed him outright had Catelyn not begged him to let Petyr live. Out of respect for her, Brandon let the boy off with a deep scar and the matter was ended. Even then, he did not quite give up. On Brandon’s death, he sent Catelyn a letter, which she burned without reading. Her duty was to marry Eddard Stark, and Petyr’s hopes had to die.
Whether his hopes were ever hers is a moot point. Where Petyr is concerned, there may be a touch of “what if...” buried in the back of Catelyn’s mind, but she never shows anything more than heartfelt, almost sisterly affection for him. There is no indication that she really desired Petyr, but she certainly feels gratitude for his ardour. It may have been a youthful dream of love, but he was ready to die for it, and Catelyn does not forget such devotion quickly. What she does not realise is that the passionate boy is long gone, his place taken by a cunning, if occasionally sentimental, politician.
Petyr is the first to admit that he is not to be trusted. Conventional wisdom suggests that no dishonest man admits his shortcomings. Others would say that a good way to make people think you are an honest rogue is to draw attention to your own faults. At best it will disarm them, at worst it will confuse them — and Petyr delights in inconsistency.
He assists and derides Eddard by turn, his manner insolent, but his help too useful to disregard. Regarding the knife borne by Bran’s would-be assassin, Petyr gives the Starks’ suspicions more shape and substance. He doesn’t accuse, he insinuates; having rolled a conjecture around long enough for the Starks to treat it as fact, he suggests for their own good that they drop the issue while knowing full well they won’t. On a personal level, Petyr is undoubtedly one of the most adept manipulators to be found in all of Westeros.
Betrayal’s colour is seldom black or white, but instead clothes itself in many shades of grey. People are fooled by his light laughter and flippant ways, but Littlefinger does not forget or forgive. After he lost his challenge, he had no scruples about smearing Catelyn’s reputation, claiming he had taken the maidenheads of both Tully girls. Ardent he may have been, but he was also a sore loser. If he could be ungallant about the woman he loved, he is not likely to behave honourably towards his rival. Petyr is constantly berating Eddard for his lack of brains, with such pithy comments as, “Do you Starks have nought but snow between your ears?” On at least three occasions, he warns Eddard against himself. He knows he is a betrayer. The question is, how long can he play the game so blithely right under the nose of the wolf? This is a fight he can win. It is at least as deadly as the battle with Brandon Stark, but this time his wits are his weapons. Under those conditions, the hummingbird can take on any wolf that dares to face him.
Petyr Baelish is extremely subtle and capable of putting long-term plans to one side temporarily, adapting to current circumstances with ease. Littlefinger’s loyalty lasts a long time, but he gives it rarely; when it’s gone, it is gone forever despite eloquent promises to the contrary. The mockingbird is capable of mixing lies with truth to such an extent as to confuse an issue beyond recognition. Come love or hate, Littlefinger works only for Littlefinger.
|Last Updated on Friday, 15 April 2011 20:34|