That morning, Stannis had been woken up from his restless sleep by the unfamiliar sound of the streets below. He wasn’t used to such noise. He wasn’t used to London. Wearing his Navy uniform, with the sea-salt laundered from the stitches, the city air already taking its place, it gave Stannis pause when he stepped out of his house and onto the streets.
Sailors weren’t meant for dry land, next to passers by in their blue suits and their mobiles stuck to their ears. Walking alongside them, he’d gained some curious stares. A sailor in the heart of London; it was as if the tide had reached far beyond the shore and left him there, driftwood that had yet to dry and put to good use.
He arrived at Downing Street some time later, refusing to admit to himself that hey may have made a wrong turn along the way. Or several. From the street outside, as he closed his car door, he was already hearing the raucous celebration within No10, the party spilling out the front steps until it felt like No10 had evolved from the one building and into the entire block.
The celebration was infectious, and Stannis felt that he should’ve caught some of it, but even as he walked through the doors, shouldering past Labour’s (victorious) MPs and Robert’s (victorious) cohorts, he felt as sober in their merriment as he could’ve in their defeat.
Five minutes in and he still hadn’t caught sight of Robert, but some boisterous cheering upstairs pointed him in the right direction. He didn’t go up; he would talk to Robert another time. Instead, he wandered off towards the conference room, where some of the older Labour backbenchers created a makeshift cigar room out of the windowless room. The smoke was thick, almost suffocating, but it was considerably less noisy inside so Stannis stayed, an untouched glass of champagne in his hands.