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The Wolf Who Lived

Chapter Text

1999

 

Prophecies are often spoken of as infallible, yet, in truth, they only hold the power one gives them. If one believes in such things, upon hearing a prophecy they will unconsciously make decisions that ensure the prophecy's fulfillment. In setting store by a prophecy, a person makes its predictions come true.

And so it happens, that a dark wizard, twisted by acts of the utmost evil, at the height of his power, heard of a prophecy foretelling his doom. In choosing to act to prevent the future it foretold, He Who Must Not Be Named ensured his own destruction.

The prophecy was made one night in the Hog's Head, a dingy pub situated in Hogsmeade. Sybill Trelawney met Albus Dumbledore there in hopes of securing the post of Divination teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At first, to Dumbledore's disappointment, Sybill seemed to have little of the talent her grandmother Cassandra had as a Seer. However, Dumbledore soon found that though he is not often wrong, his first instincts were wrong concerning Sybill's abilities. Sybill fell into a trance and delivered a prophecy that would change the wizarding world forever:

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the eleventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark her as his equal, but she will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the eleventh month dies...."

Sybill remembered nothing after waking from her trance, but, unfortunately, Dumbledore was not alone in hearing the prophecy. Severus Snape, a known follower of Lord Voldemort, had heard much of what was said, and did not hesitate to tell the Dark Lord what he had learned.

The prophecy pointed to a girl, born at the end of November, whose parents had defied Voldemort three times.
Lord Voldemort concluded that the girl could only be the daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. Sansa Stark had not even reached her first birthday, but Lord Voldemort would not take any chances.

“The girl must die,” he proclaimed.

Among Voldemort's greatest threats, however, was Albus Dumbledore, an immensely powerful and clever wizard, and Dumbledore correctly predicted Voldemort's conclusion and immediately worked to protect the Starks.

Dumbledore recommended that the Starks take protection under the Fidelius Charm. Under the Fidelius Charm, the location of the Starks would be concealed as a secret held by one person (or more, though security naturally reduces with each person told), known as a Secret Keeper. Under the charm, the secret could only be revealed willingly by the Secret Keeper. And the Starks could remain in their own home, Winterfell, invisible to every other soul as long as their Secret Keeper kept the secret.

Unfortunately, Eddard and Catelyn decided to place their trust in Cat's brother, Edmure Tully. Always rather weak willed, arrogant, and ignorant (an unfortunate combination), Edmure could not help but be drawn into the fold of those known as Death Eaters, eager to share in the power Voldemort had gained. When he had been named as Secret Keeper, he had not yet joined Voldemort's ranks. Many months of fruitless searching for the Starks led Voldemort to send his followers after those close to Ned and Cat. It was then that Edmure first made contact with the Death Eaters. He foolishly believed they sought him out for his own merit rather than the secret he kept. As he had easily done to many people, Voldemort charmed Edmure into becoming a loyal follower.

Edmure did not know the truth of why the Starks had gone into hiding. Ned and Cat had told him only that Voldemort was after them. Edmure deduced that only Ned and Cat were in danger and decided to make a deal with Voldemort. While he had joined Voldemort’s cause, he truly did not wish any harm on his sister and her family. He willingly told of their location in exchange for the safety of Cat and her two children, Robb and Sansa, believing only Ned would die.

Had Edmure been of quicker wit, he might have known not to trust Voldemort, a wizard known for incredible cruelty. Had the Starks seen the truth of Edmure’s character, they might have chosen a more worthy Secret Keeper. But, he was not, and they did not. And so lives suffered the consequences of misplaced trust.

On Halloween, October 31st, 1999, Voldemort arrived at Winterfell. The Starks were unprepared, certain they could trust in Edmure. Ned Stark attempted to fight the Dark Lord while Cat fled with the children to Sansa’s room. She put Sansa in her crib and tried to barricade the door, her wand forgotten in the other room in her haste. Ned Stark was wandless as well, and had no chance against the casually cast killing curse thrown his way. The feeble attempt at barricading the door proved no obstacle for Voldemort, and Cat pushed young Robb behind her, standing in front of her children, arms thrown wide in hopes of shielding them somehow.

Cat was ordered to stand aside, but refused. She begged for her children’s lives.

“Take me instead!”

Voldemort laughed, the sound high and cruel. Robb whimpered in terror at the noise and tried to run away to hide, his mother screaming no, making a desperate attempt to grab him.

A flash of green light and her son was dead. Cat screamed in agony and pleaded with Voldemort again.

“No! Please! Take me instead! Not Sansa too! Please!”

Another flash of green light and Cat crumpled to the floor, lifeless.

Now free at last to look upon the girl prophesied to be his enemy, Voldemort regarded the wailing child without feeling. He could not imagine such a thing could ever hope to defeat him, he who has gone farther than any to defeat death, he who was the most feared wizard of all time. But, all the same. He raised his wand, coolly speaking the curse that would end whatever threat the girl held against him.

But something went wrong. A burst of green light, yet it backfired, rebounded upon Voldemort, ripping his soul from his body until he was less than the meanest ghost.

Sansa Stark sobbed in her crib, her mother, father, and brother dead. Her home destroyed. Her infant mind throbbing with terror and confusion. And her body unharmed, save for a lightning shaped cut marring the pale skin of her forehead.

Chapter Text

Nearly 16 years later. Tuesday, September 1st.

 

Sansa Stark woke to a sharp rapping on the door and a shrill voice insisting that she come out, that he knows she is in there. She groaned under her breath in frustration and annoyance, rubbing her eyes. She was uncomfortable and cramped, her muscles having seized up after being confined to such a small space for too long. She sat up, forgetting just where she was, and smacked her head on the low, angled ceiling. Tears sprung to her eyes and she could not bite back the curse that fell from her lips. Outside the cupboard, Robin crowed in delight.

“I knew you were in there! Sansa, come out!”

Sansa rubbed her head and silently cursed herself for her stupidity. Had she not forgotten where she was, he might have decided she was not inside after all, and left her alone. Now she was caught. Her cousin Robin was an incredibly obnoxious boy who often pestered her when he could not figure out something else to occupy his time. As he had a very poor imagination, Sansa often found herself at the boy’s mercy, stuck finding ways to entertain him or suffer the wrath of her Aunt Lysa.

Sansa often did what she could to prevent Robin from finding her in the first place, seeking out new places in her aunt’s mansion to find refuge in, hoping he might not think to look for her there. Today she had found solace in a cupboard under the stairs, reading one of her new school books in preparation for the new year at Hogwarts. But she had fallen asleep at some point, and he had found her somehow.

Sansa uncurled her stiff legs as Robin whined at her to come out, and opened the door, unfolding her tall frame as she came out from under the stairs.

“What were you doing in there? I have been looking everywhere for you.” Robin pouted, stamping his foot. He was far too old to act so childishly, at thirteen, but it wouldn’t do any good to tell him so. Any reprimand from Sansa and Lysa would swoop down on her and cast some random curse at her or lock her in the closest room. It was best to just go with it where Robin was concerned.

Sansa chose not to answer his question. “What did you need me for Sweetrobin?” She asked sweetly, though in her head the question was pitched in a far different tone.

“Mummy told me to come find you. She says people are here to see you.” He fiddled with a toy, not looking at her.
Sansa suddenly broke into a wide smile. She must have slept far longer than she had thought, if Arya was already here. No wonder her body ached so badly. She had retreated into the cupboard last night about eight oclock. And now it was the next morning.

Sansa felt the joy rush through her at the prospect of finally leaving her aunt’s house again for another school year. “Thank you, Robin. I should go get my trunk!” She began to walk away, but Robin grabbed her arm.

Robin scowled. “You were screaming in your sleep again. That’s how I found you.” He paused. “I don’t want you to go.” His face was crumpling in anguish and the way he was looking told Sansa another shaking fit wasn’t far off.

She was leaving within minutes though, out of range of her aunt’s influence, and, after months of dealing with Robin’s whiny attitude and calming him down from his tantrums to prevent his tremors, Sansa did not want to take the time to comfort him. She had had enough of this house and its inhabitants, and she wasn’t going to stay a second longer than she had to. Her pity for the boy was outbalanced by her need to keep her own sanity, so she simply hugged him and ran to her room to get her school things.

As she hurriedly packed the things she had not yet put into her school trunk, Sansa thought back to her dreams. Her nightmares. She never remembered much of them. Only the sound of laughter, strangely high and cold, and a burst of green light obscuring all else. She knew what the nightmares were about. Their deaths, so many years ago, on Halloween. The night she had lost everything. Her parents, Eddard and Catelyn Stark. Her older brother Robb, still only a child. Her house in devastation. The only living soul left a baby, not even a year old, an unusual lightning scar marking her forehead.

She was told at a young age by her uncle, Jon Arryn, that her parents were killed by a dark wizard whose name was feared across the wizarding world. That her parents had fought against him, that he had come for them at their home, Winterfell, killed Ned and Robb, and then Catelyn as she tried to shield Sansa from his wrath. And then he tried to kill Sansa as well, but somehow the curse went wrong. Instead of killing her, it killed the caster, Lord Voldemort.

And so Sansa was left alone, the last of her family. Her Uncle Edmure had betrayed her family to Voldemort, and so Sansa had no option but to stay with her Aunt Lysa and Lysa’s husband, Jon Arryn.

Sansa’s living arrangements had been decent enough while her Uncle Jon was still living. But after he died soon after Sansa turned twelve, she was left at the mercy of her unstable aunt and sickly, spoiled cousin. For the most part, her Aunt Lysa tended to ignore her, generally only lashing out when she perceived that Sansa was mistreating her son. Robin, however, had a strong attachment to Sansa and spent much of his free time pestering her whenever he managed to find her. Sansa was left to her own devices and the help of the Arryn family’s house elves when it came to food and other necessities, her aunt never giving a second thought to Sansa’s care and wellbeing.

When the time had finally come for Sansa to attend school, she was ecstatic to be accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Her Uncle Jon had still been alive at the time, for which Sansa had been exceptionally grateful. She had a feeling that had he died before she began to attend Hogwarts, her aunt might not have allowed her to go. Jon Arryn took her to Diagon Alley, where she got all of her school supplies, including a wand from Ollivander’s, fashioned from weirwood and phoenix feather.

She still remembered that day. How Ollivander had muttered “Curious, curious,” as he lovingly packaged her wand for her to take home. When she had asked him what he meant, he told her that the phoenix feather core of her wand was one of only two feathers donated from a particular phoenix. And that the other feather was the core of the wand previously owned by Voldemort.

The once happy day had felt as though all the color had been leached out of it. Sansa had felt so proud that a weirwood wand had chosen her, for it was said that only true Northerners were chosen by such wands. Sansa had not lived in the North for some time, but she still felt a deep connection with the land her father had lived in, where she was supposed to have spent a happy childhood roaming through the halls of Winterfell, praying in the Godswood, playing with her brother Robb. She had felt like the wand had chosen her to connect her with the family she had lost. Instead, the wand had chosen her to connect her with the man who had destroyed her family and home.

Jon Arryn was quite old, but he had known her father well, and loved him as a son. He was a busy man, prominent in the Ministry of Magic as a top adviser to Minister Tywin Lannister. But when he had the time, he treated Sansa with great care and love, making sure she had everything she needed, telling her stories of her father, mother, and Robb. Telling her of Winterfell. As they had left Ollivander’s, he could tell Sansa was distressed. And so he decided that he must do something to cheer her up.

Sansa’s uncle took her to the Magical Menagerie, and told her that she could choose any pet she wished, to take with her to Hogwarts. Sansa saw owls and cats of every size and color, sleek rats in cages, custard colored puffskeins, toads, even a rabbit that constantly changed itself into a top hat and back again. But she paid them little attention, drawn instead to a large pen near the back, where two tiny direwolf pups were squirming sleepily on a soft cushion.

A saleswitch came over to them. “Direwolf pups. Quite rare. We never have had them in before, only the owner found these pups, along with four others, beside their dead mother. They were so young that they couldn’t have survived out there alone, so we took them in.” She gave Sansa an appraising look. “I wouldn’t think on adopting one unless you are sure you can handle them though. They are known to be quite fearsome full grown in the wild.”

Jon Arryn had looked at Sansa. “The sigil of your house.”

Sansa nodded. She knew. “I want one.”

Her uncle smiled. “Then you shall have one.”

The saleswitch looked skeptical as Sansa approached the pen to take a closer look at the pups. “Are you sure?”

“She’s a Stark. It’s in her blood.”

The saleswitch’s eyes widened. She began to look more intently at Sansa, eyes searching her forehead for confirmation. Finally, she saw the lightning scar, half hidden by waves of red hair tumbling around Sansa’s face. “Of course! It is an honor to meet you, Sansa Stark!”

Sansa, now cuddling a small, female direwolf pup, spared the witch a smile before burying her face in the pup’s soft fur.

After they had left the shop, laden down with school supplies and the newly named Lady, Sansa thought to ask her uncle if she would be allowed to take her new pet to school.

“I will make sure of it.” her uncle had promised.

And just like that, her day was made right again. The old gods had brought her her very own direwolf, bringing her closer to the family she had never had the chance to get to know.

Chapter Text

When Sansa came downstairs, Lysa was standing with Arya and Lyanna Stark in the entryway. The awkwardness in the room was palpable, and when Lysa spotted her niece, she immediately scowled and snapped “About time.”

Lysa had two stages of appearance. On good days she caked on the makeup, teased up her hair, and dressed in ridiculously revealing outfits that were often far too tight. On bad days, her hair was ratty and tangled, eyes bloodshot and wild, and her clothes sometimes nonexistent. It wasn’t uncommon to see her in her underwear, or less, on those days. Lysa didn’t care. Neither did Robin, who breastfed far past the acceptable age (much to Sansa’s extreme discomfort). Today, fortunately, was a good day. Her clothes were far from flattering, but at least she was dressed.

“Sorry, Aunt Lysa. I had to finish packing.” Sansa set down her heavy trunk and flashed her friend, and cousin, Arya, a smile.

“Typical,” Lysa muttered. “You didn’t think to pack ahead instead of wasting everyone else’s time.”

Sansa chose to ignore that, giving Arya’s mom a hug. Lyanna Stark was her father’s sister. When Sansa had first met Arya at school and found out that they were related, she had begged her Aunt Lysa to let her move in with them instead. Her aunt had refused, confusing Sansa greatly. She had thought Lysa would be all too willing to get rid of her. It wasn’t until Sansa had asked Lyanna for help convincing Lysa that Sansa had learned the truth.

It was for Sansa’s own protection that she stayed with Lysa. Lyanna explained that Catelyn Stark had given her life to save Sansa, and that her sacrifice gave her protection even now. While Voldemort had been defeated, many of his followers were still at large, and it was always possible that they might seek revenge upon her. Lysa was Sansa’s mother’s only living relative left (except for Edmure, who was sent to Azkaban, the wizard prison, after he betrayed her parents), and Sansa was protected as long as her home was with those of her mother’s blood.

“Thank you for coming to get me!” Sansa told Lyanna and Arya.

“Of course!” Arya rolled her eyes. “Now, come on! We’re going to miss the train!”

“Just a sec, I just need to go find Lady.” Sansa said, “I’ll be right back.”

“Hurry up, then.” Lyanna said.

Sansa jogged through the house to the back door and opened it. “Lady,” she called, whistling for the direwolf.

The large white and grey direwolf bounded towards the door from deep in the gardens, graceful in her movements. Sansa patted the wolf’s head when she reached the door. “Come on, girl. We are heading back to school!” Sansa said, the excitement evident in her voice.

It was funny how it had worked out. Sansa never would have dreamed she would prefer school over time at home. Such things weren’t generally considered normal. But, when your home situation was deplorable, and the school in question taught magic, the feeling was only natural.

Back in the entryway, Sansa saw that only Arya and Lysa remained, both scowling at one another. Sansa was surprised that Robin had not joined them to say goodbye, but perhaps the boy was off sulking somewhere. Or, perhaps he had had another fit, after Sansa had neglected to calm him earlier. She hoped not. The boy could be obnoxious, but his fits could be quite dangerous, to himself and others, and she didn’t want any harm to come to him. After all, his behavior and sickness were only consequences from very poor parenting on his mother’s part.

“Mom went to the car. Your stuff’s already inside.” Arya said. “We REALLY need to go Sans.”

“Ok. Sansa looked at Lysa. “Bye, then.” She really didn’t know what else to say. She certainly wasn’t going to miss her aunt.

Lysa only sniffed, then turned and walked away without a word.

Arya rolled her eyes at Sansa, then grabbed her hand and dragged her out the front door, Lady padding along behind them. They piled into the car, Lyanna already in the driver’s seat of the van. Lady laid down comfortably in the third row of seats next to Arya’s own direwolf, Nymeria.

It had turned out that the four pups that had already been adopted from the Magical Menagerie when Sansa found Lady, were adopted by Arya, her older brother Jon, and her two younger brothers, Bran and Rickon. Sansa and Arya had both been delighted upon learning this, their bond of friendship strengthened. The last pup had been taken in by the gamekeeper at Hogwarts, Rubeus Hagrid. Grey Wind often roamed the grounds at Hogwarts with Lady and Nymeria.

Sansa settled back in her seat next to Arya for the drive to King’s Cross. Most witches and wizards knew nothing of cars, let alone how to drive, but her aunt Lyanna was an exception. She loved to drive, and never missed an opportunity to do so, much to Arya’s displeasure. Arya always hated the long journey to and from King’s Cross, complaining that most witches and wizards were practical and traveled quickly by Floo Powder or Apparition. Or, at the very least by broom. Her mother would just laugh and tell her that patience was virtue she had best learn.

Lyanna was fierce and strong willed, not one to settle for tradition for tradition’s sake. She had no qualms about broadening her horizons and challenging the status quo. Passionate and open minded, Lyanna was a proud advocate for feminist rights and adopting muggle technology, bringing the wizarding world out of the stone age, so to speak.

Lyanna had refused an arranged marriage with her brother’s close friend, Robert Baratheon, choosing love over family alliances. She ran away from her family in favor of Rhaegar Targaryen, beginning a passionate love affair that resulted in four children, but no marriage. The two were still happily in love, but Lyanna Stark refused to marry on principle, not wanting to enter into something that so many were often forced into. Both Arya and Jon identified as Starks rather than Targaryens, though their father didn’t mind in the slightest. Bran and Rickon were still known as Targaryens, as they were still young enough that they hadn’t thought about which name they would prefer to identify with.

Arya was much like her mother, both in looks and temperament. Both were made to be warriors, talented in hand to hand combat as well as magic, with a deep sense of justice, and passion that had a tendency to burst forth regardless of the consequences. Short in stature, with dark brown hair and grey eyes, their outward appearances were often a great advantage in making their enemy underestimate them. Lyanna was head of the Auror department at the Ministry, her son Jon in training, and Arya was likely to follow in their footsteps as well.

Ayra shifted in her seat. “I hope we make it. It would figure if I manage to get detention again before school even starts.” She mock scowled at Sansa. “Why weren’t you packed? That isn’t like you.”

Sansa sighed, toying with her wand. “I was mostly packed last night, but I heard Robin around the corner from my room and didn’t want to deal with him. So I bolted and found a place to hide, planning on reading for a bit until he hopefully decided to do something other than bother me. But, I guess I fell asleep, and didn’t wake up until Robin found me and told me you two were here to pick me up.”

Arya frowned. “Ugh, I don’t know how you put up with that kid. Or your aunt.” Arya’s face shifted into Lysa’s and she began to imitate her, her voice whiny and shrill.

“Stop that!” Sansa swatted at Arya. “I’ve only just escaped her, I shouldn’t be forced to see her face again so soon.”

Arya quickly changed her face back to normal. “Sorry.”

Arya was born a metamorphmagus, something Sansa, and pretty much everyone probably, was extremely jealous of. Metamorphmagi could change their appearances at will, choosing to look however they wished whenever they wished, with virtually no effort involved. Arya took advantage of such talents to amuse herself and others with imitations and silly faces, play pranks on her fellow students, and get herself into, and out of, plenty of trouble. Sansa would have been glad just to use such an ability to rid herself of her lightning scar.

As far as scars go, it wasn’t really very ugly. In fact, Sansa rather liked it. It was unusual and mysterious. What she didn’t like was the attention she got for having it. Every witch and wizard knew exactly who she was just from seeing her scar. And with that recognition came either looks of awe and admiration or looks of hatred, or even fear. She was judged before they even knew her beyond the story of Voldemort’s defeat. Sansa hated it. She often let her long red hair fall over her face, shielding the scar at least partially from view, even if it meant her vision was slightly impaired.

“We will make it in time, right?” Sansa asked Lyanna nervously.

Lyanna nodded. “The traffic is surprisingly much better than I expected. We should arrive in plenty of time.” She tapped the clock on the vehicle’s dashboard. Six thirty. The train wouldn’t leave until eleven. They had about a four hours drive to King’s Cross, where the Hogwarts Express was waiting to take them to school. Plenty of time.

Sansa sighed in relief. She didn’t know what would happen if they missed the train, but she certainly didn’t want to take any chances. There was no way she would risk being stuck at home if she couldn’t find another way to school.

“How is Jon doing in Auror training?” She asked.

Arya sat up straighter, eager to brag about her older brother. “Mom says he and Ghost are revolutionizing the way Auror’s are trained. They are thinking of including more animals as companions for Aurors. The way he and Ghost are bonded to each other helps give them an advantage.”

“He is also helping strengthen my case towards putting even more emphasis on physical combat training than we have before. The Aurors that set the training have been so set in the old ways that it has been difficult to convince them that the best Aurors should be proficient in all areas of combat, not just in magic dueling. Since Jon has been training in swordplay and martial arts from a young age, they can see the advantages he has from such experience while he completes the training.”

Arya scowled. “You would think they would have seen that when you went through training yourself.”

Lyanna sighed. “Yes, but you know it is often the case that seeing a man prove a point often has an easier chance of hitting home than seeing a woman prove a point. One day I hope the balance will even out.”

The car grew silent for a time, until Sansa thought to ask after Arya’s younger brothers, Bran and Rickon. Both were doing well, running around with their direwolves, Summer and Shaggydog, in tow, making odd things happen with their untrained magical abilities. Bran would be attending Hogwarts next year, but Rickon wouldn’t arrive at Hogwarts until after Sansa and Arya had already left.

They talked about the upcoming school year for much of the rest of the drive. Lyanna asked how Sansa did on her O.W.L.s, and, upon hearing that Sansa had received mostly Exceeds Expectations and one Outstanding in Potions, gave her the praise she had not yet received from anyone else.

Arya congratulated her as well, and grumbled when her mother mentioned that she hoped Arya’s N.E.W.T. scores would be better than her O.W.L.s. Arya wasn’t much for study, though she was quite smart, and her dislike of non practical coursework often caused her grades to suffer. However, her desire to be an Auror required that she receive at least Exceeds Expectations in Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, and Transfiguration to continue them for N.E.W.T.s.

Arya had worked hard last year and had managed to score high enough, including receiving an Outstanding in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Unfortunately, she also had been given a Troll in Astronomy, and a Dreadful in History of Magic. Her mother had been proud of her accomplishments, but she was also disappointed that her daughter had actually gotten a Troll.

Both girls would be continuing in Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms, and Herbology. Arya would also be trying out for the position of Beater on the Gryffindor Quidditch team this year, something she had been anxiously waiting for ever since she had first arrived at Hogwarts. Both Beater positions on the Gryffindor team had been filled up until this year by the Weasley twins, who had graduated last year.

Sansa was not involved in any clubs, preferring to spend free time with friends or on her own. Living with Lysa and Robin had left her very isolated, as neither of them ever left the house, and Sansa had grown used to keeping to herself much of the time.

When Sansa had first come to Hogwarts, she had not had much interaction with children her own age. For the most part, she was confined to the house and the surrounding grounds, even while Jon Arryn was still alive, as he was a very busy man. He had asked Lysa to take Sansa out sometimes, to the park, to visit what little family she had left, but she had never done so. And while Jon Arryn was a kind man, he did not have the time or the natural rapport with children that some possessed, so he often felt too awkward to spend too much time with her. Sansa was mainly raised by the Arryn family house elves, though even they kept their distance, having been reprimanded by Lysa for being too familiar with their masters.

This left her feeling intensely awkward when she was suddenly surrounded by kids her own age and older, teachers, ghosts, and magical pets. She had locked herself in her own compartment during her first journey on the Hogwart’s Express, overwhelmed by the sheer number of people. It didn’t help that many, after catching a glimpse of her lightning scar, tended to gawp at her as if she wasn’t human, but rather a popular attraction at the zoo.

When the train had arrived at Hogwarts, it only got worse, as she was forced to join the other first years in a journey across the Black Lake. And worse still when she was lined up with the other first years at the head of the Great Hall, waiting to be sorted. When Sansa’s name had been called, and she stepped forward to try on the Sorting Hat, the entire school went silent, save for the rustle of bodies as students craned their necks in hopes of getting a better look at The Wolf Who Lived. Sansa Stark was famous. Famous for the tragedy that had befallen her family. Famous for surviving an attack from an exceptionally powerful and dangerous wizard. Famous for defeating him.

Sansa had never known exactly how or why any of it had happened. Why Voldemort had wanted to kill her family in the first place. No one had told her anything other than what had happened. She didn’t even think anyone really knew how or why it had happened.

Spending much of her time alone at the Arryn’s, Sansa had never really experienced the consequences of fame either. The rare few times she had been noticed, it was only by one or two people at a time. Never more than that. Never an entire room full of hundreds of people.
And as bad as it was when Sansa first put on the hat, it only got worse. Much, much worse. The Sorting Hat had spoken in her ear, seemingly reading her mind and character, her very soul. It saw cunning. And ambition. Loyalty at all costs for the right people. Determination. And it spoke aloud to the room.

“Slytherin!”

A collective gasp reverberated throughout the room. And then, if the room was silent before, it was nothing compared to now. Sansa had never before known the meaning of the phrase “the silence was deafening,” until that moment. The absence of sound was so loud it hurt her ears.

She sat there, frozen in place, unsure what to do next. Why was everyone so quiet? What was wrong with being sorted into Slytherin? Sure, Lysa had been sorted into Slytherin, and Sansa knew that Voldemort had been as well, but surely not all Slytherins were bad. Her Uncle Jon had never told her to avoid Slytherin.

Eventually, the stern witch who had been assisting the sorting ceremony pulled the hat from her head. She patted Sansa’s shoulder. “Go ahead, my dear. Join your house.”

And Sansa walked numbly to sit at the Slytherin table, who suddenly broke into weak applause, as if they had been jerked from a reverie. The sorting finished with Blaise Zabini joining the Slytherins, and they soon enjoyed a great feast.

For weeks afterwards, whispers had followed Sansa wherever she went. It seemed that many students were shocked and afraid that she had been sorted into Slytherin. Both of Sansa’s parents, and most of her relatives, had been sorted into Gryffindor. Everyone had thought that Sansa would be a Gryffindor as well. That she had been sorted instead into Slytherin drove fear into their hearts. Slytherin apparently had a reputation for its students becoming seduced by the Dark Arts. And, with the mysterious circumstances surrounding Sansa’s improbable defeat of Voldemort, it seemed many were concerned that she was also a Dark wizard. Her sorting had only helped confirm their suspicions, rather than abate them.

Sansa was quite miserable at first. She was happy to be a Slytherin, but the way the other students kept their distance made her feel unwanted. She was no stranger to such feelings, as her Aunt Lysa had never taken care to hide her disdain for Sansa, but it was different when so many people, people who didn’t even know her, seemed to hate her, even fear her.

After a little over a month had passed, however, the wariness began to decrease. Sansa’s classmates and teachers had been watching her closely, and none had seen anything more than a polite and rather quiet girl. Arya Stark approached her during break one day, telling Sansa that they were cousins, and the two began a slow path to friendship, helped by the discovery that their direwolves were sisters.

And when Margaery Tyrell, a popular Hufflepuff first year, befriended Sansa after partnering with her in Transfiguration, the rest of the school became far friendlier still. And years passed, with nothing unusual happening to make them think Sansa was anything to fear.

Sansa was about to start her sixth year at Hogwarts, along with Arya and Margaery. She was looking forward to learning Apparition this year, and coming of age this November. While the Muggle world had determined that one became an adult at eighteen, members of the wizarding world were considered adults at seventeen. Once she was seventeen, she could perform magic outside of school and pass her Apparition test, allowing her to travel anywhere she wished instantly.

And, even more appealing than that, once she turned seventeen she no longer had any reason to return to the Arryns. The protection her mother’s sacrifice gave her only lasted until she was seventeen. Sansa was slightly concerned about the dangers she might face without it, but in truth, she was far more grateful to be free of Lysa and Robin. She had not told either of them that she wouldn’t be returning, as Lysa wouldn’t care, and Robin would throw a tantrum. Next summer, she was planning on staying with Arya’s family, their home reinforced with magical security measures, just in case.

Traffic increased slightly as they neared the train station, but they still managed to make it with ten minutes to spare. Arya and Sansa loaded their school trunks onto trolleys and made their way to the barrier leading to Platform 9 ¾, with Lyanna, Nymeria, and Lady. The entrance to the platform was hidden from Muggles, simply appearing as a barrier between platforms 9 and 10. They all casually passed through solid wall to the platform on the other side, joining the crowd of students and their parents saying goodbye before boarding the scarlet Hogwarts Express. Sansa waited while Arya hugged her mom goodbye, and then hugged Lyanna herself.

“You take care, Sansa, “ her aunt said, squeezing her tight.

“You too. I will miss you.” Sansa said. “Send my love to Uncle Rhaegar, Bran, and Rickon.”

“I will.” Lyanna promised. “You are, of course, welcome to join us for Christmas, like always.”

Another round of hugs ensued, and then Sansa and Arya boarded the train, lugging their heavy trunks behind them, the direwolves hot on their heels.

Chapter Text

The train was quite full already, as it was nearly time to depart, but they managed to find an empty compartment near the end of the train. Sansa, tired of hauling around things like a Muggle, used her wand to levitate and secure her and Arya’s trunks in the luggage racks, while Arya sprawled across the seat nearest the window, Nymeria’s head in her lap.

“Gods, I am starving!” she groaned, rubbing her stomach. “Where’s that trolley witch already?”

Sansa rolled her eyes as she took the seat across from Arya, Lady curling up beside her. “The train hasn’t even started moving yet. She won’t come by for another hour, probably… Besides, what are you complaining about. Your mom always makes a huge breakfast the morning before we leave for school.”

“So?” grumbled Arya. “That was about four thirty this morning. We did travel for an hour before we picked you up you know.”

Sansa wasn’t about to give in. “At least you ate breakfast.”

Arya frowned. “Right. Sorry.” She stared out the window, lost in thought.

Sansa followed her gaze, seeing the crowds of parents and younger siblings waving goodbye to departing family members, blips of motion here and there as some Apparated back home or to work. A jerk of the train compartment told her the train had begun to move at last, and she watched as the scenery passed by with ever increasing speed. They would be back at Hogwarts by nightfall. At last.

Sansa could feel the excitement mounting, at the thought of learning new spells and potions, at the familiar castle and grounds, the people. She had missed Hogwarts dearly.

Arya’s voice broke her from her thoughts. “Wonder where Margaery is. You’d think she would have found us by now.”

Sansa idly stroked Lady’s soft fur, the direwolf leaning into her touch. “She’s a Prefect, remember? They all spend the first few hours of the journey together, learning their new duties, common room passwords…”

“Right, I forgot. She just had to be a Prefect.” Arya’s tone was a bit annoyed, but there was no true malice to it. She and Margaery did not have much in common other than their friendship with Sansa, but they got along well for the most part. It helped, of course, that Margaery turned a blind eye to Arya’s rule breaking, within reason. Margaery was very kind, and not above breaking school rules, but she would not condone fighting. Anything that could potentially put another student at serious risk was unacceptable to her.

“Well, she was chosen for it. She didn’t choose it.” Sansa felt the need to point out.
Arya rolled her eyes. Rolling their eyes around each other occurred often enough that Sansa occasionally wondered if they might ultimately suffer some eye strain from it. Or if perhaps their eye muscles benefited from the exercise.

They chatted about the coming year, pondering about who would be their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher this year. The position was said to be cursed, as no teacher had lasted longer than a year for some time. There had been a new teacher for the post every year they had attended Hogwarts. The Weasley twins had run a betting pool every year, where students estimated how long the new teacher would last, and why they would end up leaving their post.

Their last teacher, James Potter, an Auror, and father to one of Sansa’s classmates, decided around the end of January that he would only teach for one school term, as he had just learned that his wife was expecting. This was a far happier circumstance than some of the previous teachers had dealt with, and was met with some disappointment by those betting for other outcomes.

Finally, to the joy of both Arya and Sansa’s stomachs, the trolley witch came by their compartment. They each stocked up on cauldron cakes, pumpkin pasties, pumpkin juice, and other assorted sweets and confections. As Lady and Nymeria both stared at them with pleading eyes, Sansa and Arya dug into their food, too hungry to spare any more time for words.

After they had eaten their fill, Arya slumped down in her seat. Her position was rather unladylike and undignified, but then, Arya never had cared for such things. She groaned. “I think I over did it.”

Sansa smirked at her, vanishing the wrappings from the meal with her wand. “More at the feast for me I guess.”

“You wish. I will be hungry again by then… Not that you really eat all that much anyway. Unless there’s lemon cakes.”

Sansa’s eyes brightened. “Oooh, I hope there’s lemon cakes!” She hadn’t had her favorite dessert since she had left Hogwarts at the end of last term. Her Aunt Lysa knew she liked them, and ordered the house elves never to prepare them.

Arya laughed at her, then groaned and clutched her stomach. “Don’t make me laugh. Its making my stomach hurt worse.”

“I hadn’t intended to.” Sansa commented, standing up so she could rummage around in her trunk.

Arya stuck her tongue out at her and readjusted herself on the seat, making Nymeria move off so she could lie down. “I think I am going to fall into a food coma for a bit.”

“Ok. Should I wake you when Marge gets here?”

“If you want.” Arya mumbled, arm thrown over her face to block the light.

Sansa retrieved her new Potions book and settled back into her seat to read until Margaery found them. Potions had quickly become her favorite subject at school when she had first arrived. The teacher, Horace Slughorn, was also the head of Slytherin house, but that wasn’t why she liked it so much. She had always been very creative as a child, always working on different art projects and sewing. When she arrived at Hogwarts, she had been highly disappointed to learn there would not be any classes centered around the arts. But when she attended her first Potions class, she had immediately seen the potential in it. Here was a class where one could create.

Potions was very much like cooking, in a way. There were recipes, each with lists of ingredients and instructions. But, much like cooking, it is often not enough to just follow the directions carefully. To brew a truly exceptional potion, one must have instinct. To know just when the ingredients should be slightly altered or the instructions tweaked just so.

Sansa immediately proved to have a natural talent in brewing potions, and was soon Professor Slughorn’s top student. (He naturally had tried to recruit her for his exclusive Slug Club (handpicked students he thought had the potential to do exceptionally well after school) due to this and her fame from being The Wolf Who Lived, but Sansa had politely declined.) She had progressed far enough in Potions that she was already working on concocting her own recipes in her spare time, though as of yet she has not attempted to brew any of her creations. Sansa had only started toying with the ideas this summer, and could not brew potions in the Eyrie, as underage wizards were not allowed to do magic outside of school.

When Margaery finally showed up at the compartment, Sansa was musing about the potion Felix Felicis, also known as liquid luck, wondering what it would be like to taste the effects of it. Margaery came to sit by Sansa with a sigh, throwing an amused look at Arya, who was snoring softly, her arm dangling over the edge of the seat, mouth open.

Sansa folded the corner of her page down and closed the book. “Everything ok?”

“Yeah. Just typical inter house drama. It really gets exhausting sometimes.” Margaery fiddled with her wand absently, sending bubbles out of the tip to float in the air.

“You would think Prefects would be less inclined to such drama.” Sansa said.

Margaery shook her head. “You would think, but no. Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter were sniping at each other again. The pair of them are already getting on each other about Quidditch and who is going to win the Cup this year.” She rolled her eyes.

Sansa looked at Arya. “I am surprised Arya didn’t wake when you said that. Lately she grabs any excuse she can to talk about Quidditch and her hopes of becoming a Beater.”

Margaery laughed, then covered her mouth, looking worriedly over at Arya.

Sansa smiled. “Don’t worry, she said I could wake her up when you got here.” She pointed her wand at one of the bubbles Margaery had made, and it ruptured with a loud pop. Arya jerked awake, flailing and falling off of her seat in alarm.

Margaery clapped her hand to her mouth in concern, then joined Sansa in giggling as Arya got to her feet, grumbling about how she was going to curse Sansa once she had woken up more.

“Nice nap?” asked Sansa innocently.

Margaery smothered a laugh. “You ok?”

Arya just glared at them, rubbing her arm.

Sansa pointed her wand at one of their leftover bottles of pumpkin juice, freezing it and tossing it to Arya.

Arya pressed it against her arm, still scowling. Finally, she relented. “Fine. Anything new we should know about?”

Margaery shook her head. “Nope. They didn’t tell us who the new DADA teacher would be, though that is nothing new. Just a rehash of the usual rules, passwords, schedules for patrols.”

They spent the rest of the train ride catching up with Margaery and speculating how the latest DADA teacher would leave his post. Arya was convinced that this year they would die and become Hogwart’s newest ghost, but she predicted that every year, and had yet to be right.

Margaery told them of her latest romantic exploits, and how her father was still pressuring her to date Joffrey Baratheon, the Minister of Magic’s grandson, hoping to join their families, and become more powerful for it. Margaery was still steadfastly refusing, not just because she was currently dating George Weasley, but because Joffrey was a rather unpleasant, even violent, boy.

Joffrey had been sorted into Gryffindor, though he far from exemplified the traits valued by the house. He was cruel and cowardly, hiding behind his family name when necessary. Partway through Sansa’s first year at Hogwarts, Joffrey had attempted to befriend her, but Sansa had heard of his reputation. He was a year above her and had already made a name for himself as a school bully. Her rejection had caused him to lash out at her whenever he got the chance, but luckily the Headmaster and teachers at Hogwarts kept a fairly close eye on him, hoping to protect the students from his cruelty. Had Joffrey not been the minister’s grandson, he would have been expelled long ago.

Eventually the train began to slow, and Sansa, Arya, and Margaery, all now wearing their school robes, stood and got ready to depart. They did not need to get their trunks, as they would be taken to the school separately. When the train pulled to a stop, they filed out into the hall with the other students, Lady and Nymeria in tow, and followed the crowd out onto the platform. Sansa and the other two girls climbed into a waiting carriage, the direwolves jumping in beside them.

The carriage immediately trundled off, despite looking as though nothing was pulling it. In truth, Sansa had learned in Care of Magical Creatures last year that the carriages were pulled by Thestrals, winged horses visible only to those who had seen death. Sansa had, of course seen her own mother and brother die, but she supposed she had been too young, as she could not see the Thestrals.

As they drew closer, Sansa leaned out the window, watching the familiar castle grow larger as they neared it, windows lit with thousands of candles. Arya bounced in her seat in anticipation, gabbing about the food she hoped would be served at the feast. She was nearly always starving, and now was no exception.

The night was cool, the dark sky clear enough to see the scattered stars, a light wind whipping the leaves of the trees and Sansa’s auburn hair. They reached the steps and climbed out of the carriage. Sansa patted Lady on the head, whispering goodbye for now, and the direwolf padded off with Nymeria to explore the grounds, possibly reuniting with their brother, Grey Wind. Sansa climbed the steps with the other students, through the opened enormous front doors, following the throng into the Great Hall.

Chapter Text

Sansa said goodbye to Margaery and Arya, and headed for the Slytherin table. The four houses each had their own long table traversing the expansive room, and, while students could mingle between tables, they sat with their own houses during the welcoming feast. Sansa took a seat beside Daphne Greengrass, a girl in her own year that she was quite friendly with. Daphne was deep in conversation with her sister, Astoria, so Sansa let her eyes wander over the familiar room.

The Great Hall was most distinguished by its ceiling, which was bewitched to look like the sky outside, making it seem as though there were no ceiling at all to guard them from the elements. Tonight the stars were twinkling brightly, their light adding to that of the thousands of candles that hung in midair throughout the room. Sansa enjoyed the view for a time, before her curiosity got the better of her and glanced at the head table, where the Headmaster and staff all sat during mealtimes. She was curious to get a look at the new DADA teacher.

Her eyes first fell upon the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, who sat in the center, his silver hair and beard both long enough to tuck into his belt. Beside him was Minerva McGonagall, the Transfiguration teacher, hair pulled back into a severe bun, square spectacles perched on her nose. The gamekeeper, and Care of Magical Creatures teacher, Rubeus Hagrid, generally sat to her right, but he always took the first years on their journey across the lake, and had apparently not returned from his duty yet.

On Dumbledore’s other side, sat rather familiar looking man, with golden hair and a toothy grin. Though in conversation with Dumbledore, he kept looking out at the crowd of students and winking. Looking around, Sansa noticed several instances of groups of girls whispering excitedly and shooting looks at the man. The buzz of voices seemed much louder than usual. She couldn’t understand why they were making such a fuss. Sure, he must be the new DADA teacher, but that didn’t usually merit such excitement. Though, from the blushes blooming on some of the girl’s faces, perhaps it was due to his looks. The man did look rather handsome, but Sansa wasn’t overly impressed. He definitely looked a bit full of himself, to be honest, the way he kept winking at everyone.

She rolled her eyes and cast her gaze to the next teacher, expecting to see Professor Slughorn. To her surprise, the man sitting there was new as well. His hair was dark, save for grey at his temples, his robes green and black, and, from what Sansa could tell, very expensive. He wasn’t speaking to anyone, simply sitting there observing the room quietly. Sansa had a feeling there wasn’t much this man missed, that he was not only observing the room, but cataloging what he learned, down to the last detail.

She found that she couldn’t keep her eyes off of him. There was something about him that drew her in. He wasn’t classically good looking, a man most women would fawn over obsessively like the blonde man sitting beside him, but he was far from unattractive. Sansa admired the curve of his jaw, peppered with stubble, the neatly trimmed beard and mustache, his carefully arranged hair. Though his temples were grey, he couldn’t have been older than mid thirties. And, rather than detract from his appearance, the grey only heightened his appeal.

Sansa licked her lips unconsciously, staring unabashedly at the man, the chaos of the room falling away until there was only him. His eyes, ever moving, suddenly flicked to her and she stiffened in her seat, eyes locked with his. He held her gaze for a moment, his mouth lifting in a smirk, before he looked away, his face impassive once again, and turned to listen as Filius Flitwick, the Charms teacher, said something beside him.

Sansa let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding, drawing air back in somewhat shakily. She continued to watch him, though more surreptitiously so, as the first years filed into the hall and the sorting began. One by one, hearing their names called by Professor McGonagall, the students stepped forward to try on the Sorting Hat, waiting to hear whether they would be sorted into Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw.

Sansa took no notice of any of it, not joining her fellow Slytherins as they clapped each time a new Slytherin was named, her attention never straying from the man until Dumbledore stood, and the room fell quickly into silence. Soon she would have answers.

“Welcome, new students and old! I trust you all have spent a wonderful summer emptying your heads before returning again to fill them!”

The students tittered in response.

“Wonderful. Now, before we begin our excellent feast, I do have a few quick announcements. This year, as with every year it seems, we found it necessary to search for a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. And, most fortunately for us, we found yet another willing applicant. I think many of you already recognize the man sitting next to me, Gilderoy Lockhart!”

The blonde man beside him stood, beaming and raising his arms as the students clapped, many girls cheering. “Thank you! Thank you!” He bowed, and seemed ready to make a speech, when Dumbledore spoke again.

“And, I regret to inform you that our Potions Master, Professor Slughorn, has decided to retire. In his place, I would like you all to welcome Petyr Baelish, a man prominent in the Ministry, who has kindly agreed to take the post. In addition to teaching, he will also be the new head of Slytherin house.”

The students clapped again, and Professor Baelish tilted his head in acknowledgement.

“And now, I will not delay you from nourishment any longer. Tuck in!” Dumbledore resumed his seat, and the chatter began again, as the golden plates on the tables suddenly filled with food.

Sansa tore her eyes away from the man she now knew as Petyr Baelish, and filled her plate, her hunger outweighing her strange attraction to the man. As she ate, she attempted to sort through her feelings. She had never felt so powerfully drawn to someone before. It was as though he had cast Accio on her, the pull was so strong. He had summoned her, and though her body had not moved, her soul had. And her body wanted to. She wanted to go to him.

Sansa shook her head, trying to physically shake some sense into herself. What was she thinking? She had only just seen him for the first time, only just learned his name. They had not spoken. She did not know him. And he was probably twice her age. And her teacher. This didn’t make any sense. Yes, he was undoubtedly good looking. But not so much that it would warrant such a reaction. Right?

The plates cleared when everyone seemed to have had their fill, replaced by a variety of desserts. Sansa was immensely pleased to see lemon cakes, and could not help but grab several. As she bit into one, her eyes flicked up to the man against her will. And she stilled, mid bite. He was looking at her.

Heart hammering, she stared back at him, unmoving, until she realized that she must look very stupid sitting there with her mouth full of lemon cake. Sansa flushed and finished the bite, lowering the cake to her plate and looking down. When she had gained the courage to look up again, he was no longer looking her way, instead talking with Lockhart, his expression amiable enough, but something told her he wasn’t impressed with the man.

Sansa had remembered why Lockhart looked familiar to her. He was famous. He had a series of best-selling books about dark creatures, and had received an Order of Merlin, Third Class. Her Aunt Lysa was obsessed with him. Lysa rarely left the house, but when she did, it usually was to go to one of his book signings.

Sansa had attempted to read his books over the summer, but found they provided much more information about the man himself than dealing with the dark arts. Sansa wouldn’t have bothered at all, but the books were all listed in the required items for school that year. Sansa had supposed the new teacher was just a big fan. It turned out she was right, in a way, as Lockhart certainly seemed to be his own biggest fan. The ego on the man was sizeable enough that she felt it odd that no one save her, and maybe Petyr Baelish, seemed to see it.

Sansa finished her lemon cakes, though, in truth, she found she didn’t enjoy them as much as usual, much too distracted to fully enjoy the taste that usually delighted her taste buds with their delicate balance of sweet and tart. The remaining food vanished soon after, leaving the golden plates and goblets sparkling clean in its absence.

Dumbledore stood once more and reminded the students of the usual school rules (no magic in the corridors between classes, the Forbidden Forest was out of bounds to students (hence the name), a list detailing the items banned from school was posted in Filch’s office, etc) before bidding them all goodnight.

As the students and teachers all around her got to their feet, Sansa stayed seated, reluctant to leave. She didn’t want to take her eyes off of the mysterious Petyr Baelish. But, he rose from his seat with the rest, responding when the other teachers wished him a goodnight. She half hoped he might turn her way again, despite her previous embarrassment, but before he could do so, Sansa felt a hand on her shoulder.

She jumped at the contact and heard someone laugh.

“Earth to Sansa!” The singsong voice of her fellow Slytherin, Jeyne Poole, sounded in her ear. “Why are you just sitting there? Nearly everyone has left.”

Sansa smiled at Jeyne sheepishly and shrugged. “I guess I was just lost in thought.”

Jeyne laughed again. She was always quick to laugh around Sansa. “Well, come on silly. Let’s head to the common room.”

Sansa nodded and got to her feet, starting after Jeyne, before pausing and looking back towards the teachers, hoping that he had not already left. She was in luck. He was standing with Dumbledore, deep in conversation. As she looked at him, his eyes darted to her briefly and his mouth twitched, as if he were holding back another smirk.

She waited a second longer, wondering if she had imagined it, wondering if he might glance her way again. But Jeyne called back to her and she reluctantly turned to follow the girl from the hall.

“Did you find out the password?” Sansa asked, as they began to descend the steps down near the dungeons.

Jeyne nodded, eagerly chattering about her summer as they walked. She and Sansa weren’t all that close, in truth, though not for the lack of trying on Jeyne’s part. Jeyne had sort of glommed onto her after the students at school had decided she wasn’t some evil witch intent on torturing them all. She had a tendency to fawn over Sansa, in awe over her fame, always eager to please her with a compliment or a favor. At first, Jeyne had peppered Sansa with questions, but the girl had soon realized that this made Sansa uncomfortable. Sansa never went out of her way to spend time with the girl, and didn’t attempt to offer much to any conversation with her, but Jeyne was only too happy to carry the conversation.

Jeyne was nice enough, to be sure, but she was a bit air-headed, naive, and silly. Jeyne’s focus was always centered either on boys or clothes, and she was always waxing on about her latest crushes or the latest in fashion. Sansa had never been entirely sure why Jeyne had been sorted into Slytherin, although, she had noticed once that Jeyne had a love potion in their dormitory. Sometime after, Jeyne had finally gotten a date with Draco Malfoy, but he had canceled before the day arrived. Perhaps there was cunning and ambition in her after all.

They arrived at a damp stretch of stone wall, and Jeyne said “Lacewing Flies.” A hidden door slid sideways, revealing the entrance, and Sansa and Jeyne stepped inside the Slytherin common room. The large room was still packed with students milling about and swapping stories of their summers.

The Slytherin common room and dormitories were actually situated under the Black Lake, giving the area a greenish glow. Its walls were of stone, and the Slytherin colors of green and silver were prominent among the decor. Sansa bid Jeyne goodnight and headed for the sixth year girls’ dormitory, wanting to be alone.

No one else was there yet as she stepped inside, for which she was grateful. After spending so much of her life in isolation, crowds had a tendency to drain her. Sansa made her way to her four poster bed, pulling aside the green velvet curtains. Her trunk rested at the foot of her bed, and Sansa set her wand on her night table and quickly got ready for bed, brushing her teeth in the adjoining bathroom and changing into pajamas. She climbed into bed with her Potions book, attempting to read a bit more before bed, but her mind kept wandering. Always to the same thoughts. Of the same man. Petyr Baelish.

Her fellow sixth years slowly trickled in to join her, each readying themselves for bed and turning in. Lady slipped in as well, and joined her in bed, curled up by her feet. And still, Sansa thought of him.

Finally, she gave up and set the book beside her wand, snuggling under the covers and closing her eyes, letting her mind conjure up an image of her new Potions master. He really was quite handsome. And, just like her, he must have a talent and interest in potion making. Sansa found herself hoping that luck was on her side, and that her new school schedule would include a Potions lesson tomorrow. She didn’t know how she could wait until tomorrow to see him again, let alone longer.

She buried her face in her pillow as she realized how quickly obsessed she was becoming. ‘He is your teacher,’ she reminded herself. ‘He is off limits. He is probably twice your age. No good can come of this.’ But, despite all she told herself, her mind failed to listen to her wisdom. Sansa spent awhile longer wondering about what kind of man Petyr Baelish was, her last thoughts before she fell asleep, ‘I am so screwed.’

Of course, even in her dreams, she could not escape her thoughts of the man. Sansa dreamed of private Potions lessons, forbidden kisses, a dark and passionate affair. She was screwed, indeed.

Chapter Text

Wednesday, September 2nd

 

Sansa woke the next day feeling rather restless. Her dreams had left her with a deep wanting that settled into her every being. She felt as though she had an itch that couldn’t be scratched, a feeling that she rarely felt. She lived in a dormitory with several other girls, however, and did not feel comfortable satisfying such urges with everyone around, and so she simply attempted to ignore the ache.

Sansa showered and dressed in her school uniform, the same one all students wore, though hers had the Slytherin colors of green and silver, like all students of her house. She chose the school skirt and button down blouse for today, with black leggings and black flats specked with silver. After dressing, she dried her hair with a charm, and styled it, curling the strands around her heated wand. When she was satisfied, she applied mascara and a touch of pale lip gloss.

Sansa didn’t normally take such pains in perfecting her appearance, usually foregoing makeup and letting her hair fall naturally. She had a natural beauty that didn’t require much enhancement, and she wasn’t particularly interested in attracting attention from the boys at school.

But, today… Today Sansa could not help but put in a little extra effort. It was foolish. And ridiculous. And downright scandalous. But, it wasn’t as if anything would truly come of it. Professor Baelish had barely looked at her. A few glances. That was it. And she may have imagined them anyway. So, what was the harm in looking nice? He probably wouldn’t even notice. If she even had class with him today.

By the time Sansa was satisfied with how she looked, her dormitory, and even the common room, had nearly completely emptied. Almost everyone had already left in search of breakfast. She meandered through the concealed door and ascended the stairs to the ground floor, her wand held loosely in her hand, just in case. It was never a good idea to wander around alone with Joffrey Baratheon still a student at Hogwart. Sansa could defend herself well enough, but to do so she needed her wand readily available.

Sansa was lost in thought, wondering whether Lady was finding her own breakfast in the Forbidden Forest, and whether she might catch a glimpse of Petyr Baelish at breakfast, as she reached the doors to the Great Hall. She had not been paying much attention to her surroundings as she walked, and so she was startled when she brushed against someone and heard a voice sound near her.

“After you.”

Sansa blushed as she realized she had nearly collided with someone. And blushed even more so when she realized that that someone had been the man who had dominated her thoughts as of late.

She mumbled a quick “sorry,” and hurried away, the smell of mint still lingering in her nostrils as she took her seat at the Slytherin table. Sansa couldn’t believe what had happened. She felt as if her entire body was inflamed from the embarrassment of it. She sneaked a glance at the head table and saw Professor Baelish taking his seat by Professor Lockhart. He looked unruffled. As if their encounter had not been anything of consequence.

Sansa wanted to bury her face in her hands, but stopped herself when she remembered her carefully applied makeup. She instead busied herself with breakfast, taking a bit of toast with butter and jam, and some bacon and orange juice. After she was finished, she pulled Advanced Potion Making from her bag and began to read, waiting for the schedules to be passed out.
She was so engrossed in reading about Amortentia, the most powerful love potion in the world, that she was quite startled when she heard her name.

“Sansa Stark?”

And there he was, standing just behind her. Sansa turned around and nodded, her voice caught in her throat. She hoped he hadn’t seen that she was reading about a love potion.

Professor Baelish scanned his clipboard and said, “It looks as if you have attained all of the necessary grades to continue in the classes you desire.”

He pulled out a fresh schedule and tapped it with his wand, handing it to her. As she took it, their fingers lightly brushed, sending a spark from her fingertips down through her body, as if lightning had struck. Professor Baelish walked away, seemingly undisturbed, heading for the next sixth year on his list. The smell of mint lingered in the air, and Sansa breathed it in, closing her eyes.

It took a moment for Sansa to remember herself, and she slowly turned in her seat to look at the schedule he had given her. Today was Wednesday, and she had DADA first with Lockhart, then a free period before lunch. And after lunch....

Double Potions.

Sansa was thrilled. She would have a double period of her favorite class today, with the man she was quickly becoming obsessed with. Though, as she scanned her schedule for the rest of the week, her happiness dampened. She only had Potions on Mondays and Wednesdays. Double Potions, but still. Only two days a week. And it was already Wednesday, so only one day this week.

She wasn’t sure whether she was more disappointed because it was her favorite subject or because that meant she only got to see Professor Baelish twice in a week. Before she could ponder on that thought, Arya plopped down on the bench next to her.

“Bad schedule?” She asked, taking the paper from her. Arya scanned it quickly. “Looks like we have DADA, Potions, Care of Magical Creatures, and Herbology together.” She studied Sansa’s face. “You’re disappointed you’ve only got Potions twice a week aren’t you?”

Sansa shrugged, trying to keep the heat from rising to her cheeks again. “Maybe.”

Arya shook her head in amusement. “Come on. You’ve got your books, don’t you?”

Sansa nodded. She had packed every book into her bag, not knowing which she would need today. It wasn’t hard, with a little magical assistance. She simply shrunk the books to make them fit, and then bewitched the bag to make it feather light.

Arya hadn’t gone to such trouble. She had her wand and a quill, and that was it. She hardly ever bothered to bring her books if she could help it, usually relying on fellow students for parchment, ink, and a peek at their books when necessary. Some teachers made sure to require her to bring the textbooks, but she always got away with coming unprepared on the first day.

Sansa walked with Arya to the DADA classroom, weaving through the crowds of students in the corridors. “Do you know if Margaery has Lockhart today too?” Students generally only had classes with their houses, occasionally two houses joining for some classes. But, for sixth years, not everyone took as many subjects as before, and as such, the classes were much smaller, and students from all four houses mingled.

Arya shook her head. “I didn’t get to talk to her. She was surrounded by a gaggle of Hufflepuffs and I wasn’t about to fight my way through. If she does, we will see her when we get there.”

They reached the classroom, which was rather packed. To Sansa’s disappointment, it looked as though only Gryffindors and Slytherins took this class. Arya dragged Sansa to the back of the classroom, snagging the pair of them seats together near the window. This wasn’t exceptionally hard, as nearly all of the girls in the class were clamoring over the seats closest to the front. Those already seated were carefully checking their hair and makeup, gossiping excitedly about the famous Gilderoy Lockhart.

Sansa realized that perhaps many might think she had taken special care in her appearance today for Lockhart as well. She found she greatly disliked that thought. As she glanced around the room, she noticed that the walls were covered with dozens of winking portraits of the man. She nudged Arya and nodded at the decor.

Arya snorted loudly. “Oh my gods.” She snickered. She began to say something more, but stopped short as the portrait Lockharts were joined by the man himself.

The girls in the classroom, and, even a boy or two, clapped at his entrance. Professor Lockhart beamed at them all and took a sweeping bow. “Thank you! Thank you!”

He preened a bit more before the easily pleased girls and then raised his hands for quiet. “Welcome, welcome! As all of you already know, I, am Gilderoy Lockhart. Your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, best selling author, Order of Merlin, Third Class, honorary member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award!”

Some of the girls in the class sighed in awe, fluttering their lashes at him. Arya made a soft gagging noise that only Sansa could hear. Sansa repressed a laugh. She was certainly right. The man was full of himself.

Lockhart continued, “Now, I am sure all of you have bought and read my books in preparation for this class?”

Most of the students nodded. Arya shook her head vehemently, holding her arms out as if to say, what books? Sansa elbowed her. Arya stuck her tongue out at her, her tongue forked like a snake’s, in response.

“Good, good! I am glad I have such well prepared, bright students!” He turned to his desk and picked up a sheaf of papers. “Now, I thought perhaps we might start today with a little quiz.”

A ripple of consternation went through the room. Their admiration of the man apparently didn’t extend to quizzes on the very first day. Many of the students looked less than pleased.

“Now, now. Not to worry. This is just to check and see how well you’ve read my books. I want to see how much you have learned, so that I may better teach you.” Lockhart tried to assure the students.

Some looked placated, but most still looked rather displeased. Still, they took the tests they were handed, and the room descended into silence as they began to work. Sansa took the test passed to her from the student in front of her, and took out her ink and quill (as well as some ink for Arya, who made actual puppy dog eyes at Sansa to get her to lend her some), knowing she wasn’t likely to do very well. She had attempted to read his books this summer, but couldn’t get past the man’s obvious infatuation with himself. It dripped throughout his writing, oozing from the page, making her feel unclean.

When she read the first question, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The first question asked what Lockhart’s favorite color was. Perhaps it was only a joke, or a gimme question, meant to be easy or silly, to put them at ease? But, no. Every question concerned Lockhart. And the test spanned three pages. Not one question mentioned anything to do with the Dark Arts or defense against them. Instead, they were expected to know Lockhart’s birthday and his ideal birthday present. The ego on this man was unbelievable.

Sansa glanced around the room, noting that she wasn’t the only one rather confused by this ‘test.’ Many students were shaking their heads in disbelief, though a few were working diligently. Arya was smirking as she scrawled answers on the paper. Sansa couldn’t help but peek at what she was writing. Beside the question asking about Lockhart’s dearest ambition, Arya had written ‘to marry himself.’

Sansa suppressed a giggle, and went to work on her own test, filling out random answers. Surely the quiz would have no bearing on their real grades. She didn’t even take care to read the questions, just writing down whatever came to mind at the time. She had to go back and redo a few answers though, when she suddenly realized that she had answered the last five questions with Petyr Baelish. Luckily she knew a charm to erase ink so she could change the answers without anyone suspecting what she had originally written.

When everyone had finished, Lockhart collected the papers and began to look through them, tutting with displeasure.

“It seems my students aren’t as careful in their reading as I had originally hoped. Hardly any of you remembered that my favorite color is lilac.” Lockhart continued to rifle through the quizzes. “And most of you have left much of the test blank.” He stopped at the last quiz, flipping through the pages, and beamed. “However, it looks as though one students has answered every question correctly! Where is Miss Hermione Granger?!”

A Gryffindor with bushy brown hair, seated near the front, between two boys, raised her hand, flushing bright red.

Lockhart grinned toothily at her. “Full marks! Wonderful, Miss Granger!”

Hermione squeaked out a thanks, to the disgust of the red-headed boy seated next to her. Lockhart began to prattle on, informing all of them of the correct answers to every question on the quiz. When the bell finally rang, everyone had gotten an earful of everything they had never wanted to know about Gilderoy Lockhart.

Sansa and Arya left, Arya shaking with the laughter she had been repressing for the whole class period. She was laughing so hard that she didn’t make a sound, and finally she was so overcome that she leaned against the wall, clutching her stomach.

“Breathe.” Sansa advised her.

Arya managed to calm down after a bit, her face red from silent laughter. “Gods. Class with him will certainly be interesting, won’t it.”

“I doubt we will actually learn anything of use though.” Sansa said regretfully.

“Eh, not like we need much help anyway. James Potter taught us past what we needed to know last year. Maybe we won’t be too badly off, so long as the DADA curse continues and Lockhart doesn’t teach for longer than a year…” She trailed off, deep in thought. “ I wonder how and when he might end up leaving?”

Sansa shrugged. “I don’t know. Couldn’t come soon enough though.”

“At least it will be a laugh.” Arya shook her head, a smile on her lips. “Well, I had better go. I’ve got class, unlike you.”

“See you at lunch?”

“Course.” Arya waved a goodbye as she headed off for her next lesson.

Sansa stood watching her go, unsure what to do for her free period. She finally decided to head back to the common room to while away the time before lunch. Lockhart hadn’t given them any homework, but she could keep reading her Potions book. She had never finished reading about Amortentia. Not that she had any plans to use a love potion. A love not returned freely wasn’t worth it to her. No, she wanted far more than that.

Chapter Text

Sansa lost track of time as she continued to learn about the Potions she would be attempting this year, and it wasn’t until Jeyne tapped her on the shoulder asking why she hadn’t seen her at lunch, that she realized how much time had passed.

“Shit, what time is it?” Sansa got up hurriedly, stuffing her book back into her bag. Jeyne blanched at the curse and told her. Sansa groaned and grabbed her bag, rushing off, not thanking the girl in her haste.

She was lucky she was in the Slytherin common room- it wasn’t all that far from the Potions classroom. Both were below the ground, in the lower levels of Hogwarts often referred to as the dungeons. She was already a few minutes late, but it wouldn’t take her too long to get there, thankfully. Sansa quickly darted through the slightly damp stone passageways until she reached the dungeon where Potions class was held. Way to make a great first impression, she chided herself, as she burst through the door, breathing hard.

Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and turned to look at her. Gods, why oh why had she not attempted to sneak in quietly? Arya was seated next to Margaery, looking highly amused at the situation, while Margaery looked sympathetic. The Gryffindor girl, Hermione Granger, looked annoyed, as if she had just been interrupted. Professor Baelish merely raised an eyebrow and indicated that she should take a seat.

Sansa mumbled a quick sorry to the room and rushed to take a seat at the same table with Arya and Margaery. Arya was shaking slightly with silent laughter, her face flashing to look like Sansa’s, beet red with embarrassment. Annoyed with her friend, Sansa flicked her wand, and a veil fell over Arya’s face. Arya promptly ripped it off, sticking her tongue out at her, face returned to normal. Sansa thought for a moment about using a spell to glue Arya’s tongue to the roof of her mouth, but decided against it.

“Miss Granger, you were saying?” Professor Baelish asked.

Hermione shot Sansa a look. Sansa and Hermione had never had much interaction, but Hermione was very studious and disliked anyone disrupting lessons. “The potion in the cauldron you indicated is known as Veritaserum, a colorless, odorless potion that forces the drinker to tell the truth.”

Professor Baelish nodded. “Correct. And this potion here?” He indicated another cauldron, the contents resembling thick, bubbling mud.

Now that she could breathe properly again, Sansa took in the surroundings, noticing that there were three large cauldrons, and a fourth, smaller cauldron, already simmering with different potions. The air was heady with the steam rising from them, and Sansa was suddenly distracted by a most alluring scent.

The cauldron situated between Sansa’s table and Hermione’s was letting off vapors that somehow smelled simultaneously of lemon cakes, the woodsy smell of the Godswood at Winterfell, and mint. The smell made her feel at ease, her embarrassment fading away as the fumes filled her lungs. Feeling brave once again, Sansa fixed her eyes on Professor Baelish, taking in his appearance now that they were much closer than usual. She could see the elegant details of the fabric of his clothes, the silver rings adorning his fingers, and a small silver mockingbird pinned to his tie.

His attire was more suited to that of a rich Muggle, than that of a wealthy wizard. Fashion in the wizarding world tended to be a bit outdated, especially for anyone older than school age. But, Professor Baelish clearly had kept in touch with the world beyond their own, at least in fashion. The suit he wore was dark and perfectly tailored to his form, a green button down underneath his suit jacket. Sansa’s fingers itched to reach out and feel the expensive fabric.

Once again, Hermione’s hand shot up to answer the question. “Its Polyjuice Potion, sir.”

“And what effect does Polyjuice Potion have on the drinker?” Professor Baelish asked, ignoring Hermione’s raised hand this time and calling on the red-haired boy seated next to her.

“It changes your looks so you look like whoever’s hair you put in it.” Ron Weasley said.

Hermione gave her friend a glowing look, pride in her eyes. His skin flushed to match his flaming hair. Nearly everyone knew Hermione liked her best friend, Ron, and sensed he felt the same way. But the boy had always been a bit clueless as to her affections for him. Apparently their relationship was changing now. Sansa imagined that once the pair began to date, it might become more than a little awkward for their other best friend, Harry Potter. He would be stuck as a third wheel to their romance, a situation that never boded well, according to the books Sansa used to read.

Several students wrinkled their noses in disgust upon hearing this. Potions often had some really unsavory components, but hair? Professor Baelish only nodded and then indicated the cauldron that smelled much like the mint Sansa had noticed earlier around him. “And this one? Sansa Stark?”

Sansa flushed. So, perhaps he had noticed her reading about it earlier. She had not raised her hand, but she knew what the potion was. Sansa had recognized it by the mother of pearl sheen and the unusual scent. “Amortentia. It’s a love potion. The most powerful love potion in existence.”

“And what is so distinctive about Amortentia?” He asked, coming closer to her table, his eyes locked with her own. She was close enough to see their color, a greyish green which seemed like a forest of endless depth.

Sansa swallowed. “The potion smells differently to each person, depending on what attracts them.”

Professor Baelish came closer still, stopping just before her, the corner of his mouth lifting in a smirk she was beginning to think was quite common for him. “And what does the potion smell like to you?”

Sansa stared back at him, lost in those eyes, yet unable to discern anything from her wanderings. “Lemon cakes.”

Professor Baelish turned from her to look at a Gryffindor boy with untidy hair and round glasses. “And you?”

The boy, Harry Potter, sat up straighter. “My broom.”

Arya choked back a laugh. “Attracted to desserts and brooms. The pair of you are nuts,” she whispered, though what she had said was easily heard in the quiet room. A ripple of laughter ran through the class.

Professor Baelish walked back to the front of the room, flicking his wand at the blackboard, instructions for brewing the Draught of Living Death appearing on its surface.

“Now that you have seen some examples of the potions you should be able to brew by the time you take your N.E.W.T.s, we will begin our lesson. Today, I would like you all to try your hand at brewing the Draught of Living Death. I am at a disadvantage as a new teacher, not knowing fully your experiences in Potions. So, before I teach you anything new, I would like to get an idea of your abilities, so that I may better prepare your lessons. Instructions are on the board, as well as in your textbooks. You may begin.” He made to retreat to his desk.

Ernie Macmillan, a Hufflepuff, raised his hand. “But, sir. The cauldron on your desk?”

Professor Baelish smirked, as though he had been waiting for someone to ask him about the final potion. Sansa turned her gaze to the cauldron mentioned, watching as the molten gold potion bubbled, golden drops arcing up from the surface as if it were a fountain.

“This? This is Felix Felicis, also known as?” Professor Baelish glanced around the room, seeing Hermione’s hand rise once more, and the light of recognition that had bloomed in Sansa’s eyes. His gaze fixed on Sansa once more, and she felt her hand rise as if of its own accord.

“Miss Stark?”

“Liquid Luck. It makes you lucky.” Sansa replied, a smile growing on her lips.

Everyone in the classroom looked as though Christmas had come, their interest piqued.

Professor Baelish rewarded Sansa with another smirk and nodded. “Yes. A most difficult potion to brew, but if brewed correctly, then the drinker will have luck so long as the effects last. Despite this, taking Felix Felicis in excess can lead to giddiness, recklessness, and overconfidence in one’s abilities. And, like with most things, it is highly toxic when ingested in large quantities.”

He removed a tiny bottle from his pocket and held it up to show the class. “In this bottle is enough Felix Felicis for twelve hours of luck. The student who brews the best Draught of the Living Death in the remaining time today will receive this as their reward. I suggest you all get to work.”

Professor Baelish walked to his desk and took a seat, as the class erupted in movement. Sansa immediately got to work, determined to win Felix Felicis, and Professor Baelish’s approval, though which was more important to her she could not say.

She prepped her potion ingredients, chopping valerian roots and crushing the sopophorous bean with a silver knife to release the juices, as per Professor Baelish’s instructions. Sansa remembered that the book had said to cut up the bean, but, having worked with sopophorous beans before, she knew his instructions would yield a better result. She heard Hermione Granger muttering to herself at the next table, clearly in agony over choosing whether to follow her teacher’s instructions or the book’s.

Sansa shook her head at the girl’s dilemma and continued to work on her own potion. The instructions Professor Baelish had provided said to stir counterclockwise for six turns, then clockwise for a seventh, repeating until the potion was as clear as water. The book had mentioned nothing of stirring clockwise, but as Sansa began to stir, she felt that it seemed right to stir clockwise at the seventh rotation. Seven was known to be the magic number, so to speak, and Sansa felt in tune enough with the potion she was creating to sense when to make adjustments.

This experience was entirely new to her. Horace Slughorn had always taught from the book. And though Sansa had often felt as though she should make adjustments to the potions she created, she had always squashed those feelings, imagining that the book was a higher authority on such things than herself. But today, today she fully gave into the feelings. She was still following instructions, of course, but she had a choice between two sets, and she chose to be guided by her own instincts rather than just blindly follow a book.

To Sansa’s great satisfaction, her potion was now clear enough that she could see the bottom of her cauldron. Happy with her results, she began to clean up the mess she had made while her potion simmered. No longer fully absorbed in what she was doing, she noticed Margaery feverishly stirring her potion, either forgetting the seventh clockwise stir or choosing to follow the book’s instructions. Arya was cursing beside her, stabbing at her sopophorous bean in anger, which skipped from the table and landed in another student’s cauldron with a soft plop.

Arya flinched as the Ravenclaw whose potion she had just ruined looked up at her with a murderous look in their eyes, then glared stubbornly back. “What? It’s not as if you had a chance anyway.”

The Ravenclaw boy began a furious retort, but was interrupted by Professor Baelish. “Time’s up.”

The students all stilled beside their cauldrons, many looking rather flustered from their efforts. Hermione Granger’s curly hair had grown even bushier than normal, and she looked a bit wild eyed as she stood anxiously by her potion. Professor Baelish walked around the room, checking the contents of each of their cauldrons. He said nothing as he walked, pausing at Sansa’s cauldron last. His eyes took in her potion, and that wonderful smirk returned.

Sansa’s heart leapt as his eyes found her own again. “And we have a winner,” he said.

Sansa couldn’t stop the smile that broke out across her features. She beamed at Professor Baelish, completely unguarded. He produced the tiny vial of Felix Felicis from his pocket once more, and she took it from his grasp. As the bottle was so small, the chance of their fingers making contact once again was inevitable, and the jolt that resulted from the gentle brush was white hot and electric, spreading to every extremity.

It felt as though that moment of contact lasted forever, freezing time, fingers slightly touching, eyes locked, breaths stilled. But the spell broke, as the bell signaling the end of of lessons sounded, and the students around her began to pack up their belongings, vanishing their failed efforts at winning a little luck. Sansa was left standing there with her hand raised, Felix Felicis clasped in her palm.

She jerked herself from the trance she seemed to come under with each touch from the man, and finished getting her stuff together. Arya and Margaery were already done, giving her strange looks. Sansa smiled at them, acting as if she hadn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary, and began to leave, both of them following her out of the classroom. She made sure not to glance back at Professor Baelish as she left, knowing she was being watched. But in the pit of her stomach, dread was settling. Her efforts likely wouldn’t do any good. They had noticed.

Chapter Text

“Why do you look so moony eyed?” Margaery whispered, as they made their way up to the Great Hall for dinner.

“Moony eyed?” Sansa asked innocently.

Arya echoed the question. “Moony eyed? She looks as if she got hit by a rogue bludger.”

“Well, they’re both similar looks,” Margaery said. “Come on. Spill. What’s with you?”

“I’m just happy is all. I mean, I did win a bottle of liquid luck,” Sansa said. She wasn’t completely lying. She was happy that she had won. And very excited at the prospect of twelve hours of good luck. She just wasn’t letting on that there was more to it than that.

Margaery paused as they reached the doors to the Great Hall, and studied her face. She seemed to decide that Sansa was telling the truth, so she nodded and dropped the subject, and Arya followed suit. They walked inside, and parted for dinner, each going to sit with their own house.

Sansa had developed a talent for lying convincingly from growing up with Robin and Lysa. She was always bending the truth to keep Robin from his magic fits, or to buy herself some free time from him. Sansa had learned to control her emotions and actions when necessary, manipulating the boy with gentle nudges in this direction or that. She knew that the best lies always contained some truth to them, and used that to her advantage.

Lying didn’t help much when it came to Lysa, as she simply believed whatever she wanted to, no matter the evidence. But, with her aunt she had learned instead diplomacy. When to keep silent, when to speak, what to say, to keep her aunt’s rage at bay. It was a rather useful talent when it came to her current situation.

What bothered her, however, was how little in control of her emotions she was around Professor Baelish. A mere look from him and she lost control. And, clearly, her friends were starting to notice the effect he had on her already. Sansa would have to work to keep her reactions in check around Petyr Baelish. The last thing she wanted was for her friends to find out that she had a crush on him. And she certainly didn’t enjoy how embarrassed and foolish she often felt around him. She had only had contact with him four times, and every time she had embarrassed herself.

The night before he had caught her staring at him with lemon cake in her mouth. Then, she had nearly run into him this morning. And Sansa had been reading about a love potion, of all things, when he had given her her class schedule. Finally, she had capped it all off with arriving late to his class and making a scene, redeeming herself by brewing the best Draught of the Living Death, and then making a fool of herself by mooning over him after he handed her the bottle of liquid luck.

The endless chain of embarrassment ends here, Sansa decided, as she helped herself to roast chicken, carrots, and potatoes and dug in. She was starving, having missed lunch earlier, and her focus didn’t stray once from her food until she had finished. However, as soon as her stomach was satisfied, her eyes immediately sought Professor Baelish once more, watching him talk with Professor Flitwick as he ate his meal.

Sansa noticed the graceful movements of his hands as he cut his chicken, and reached for his goblet to take a sip. She saw the muscles of his throat move as he swallowed, the movement of his lips as he spoke, the quirk of eyebrows as he listened to the Charm’s teacher. Her attention was so fully focused on Professor Baelish that she jumped in alarm when Arya hopped onto the bench next to her and poked her in the side.

“What are you looking at?” Arya asked curiously.

Margaery slid onto the bench on Sansa’s other side. “I think she’s looking at someone at the head table.”

“Why would she do that?” Arya looked confused.

Margaery gave Sansa an appraising look. “You look rather nice today.”

Sansa pretended to be offended. “Are you saying I don’t usually look nice?” She wanted to distract her friends from the conclusion they were rapidly drawing to, and knew that a sure way to distract Margaery was to use her natural kindness against her.

Margaery bought it, blanching at the thought of hurting her friend.“No! I just meant that you seem to have taken even more care in your appearance than usual. That’s all.”

Sansa shrugged. “I just felt like it. New school year and all.”

Margaery stared at her skeptically. She wasn’t buying it. “You know, a lot of girls were more dressed up than usual today.”

“I did notice that,” Arya put in. “I haven’t figured out why though.”

“Oh, Arya. Its obvious. They all want to look nice for Professor Lockhart.” Margaery replied, patiently explaining the obvious to her romantically challenged friend.

“Ugh, why?” Arya looked disgusted.

“Well, he IS famous. And you can’t deny he’s pretty good-looking.” Margaery said.

Arya suddenly looked from Margaery to Sansa, horrified. “You can’t mean…? Sansa PLEASE tell me you don’t actually like that man?!”

Sansa, who had been attempting to pay attention to her friends and keep tabs on Professor Baelish at the same time, felt like laughing. The idea that she would have a crush on Professor Lockhart! She was about to vehemently deny it when she realized that perhaps it might be better to let them think she was into Professor Lockhart rather than Professor Baelish. She didn’t want them to know, and, though they would tease her about Lockhart, it would be far easier to bear than if they teased her about Professor Baelish. I was always much less embarrassing to be teased about something that wasn’t true.

In the end, though, she decided she couldn’t bear to have her friends think she had a crush on Lockhart. The thought was really quite appalling. However, her extended silence after Arya’s question was making them nervous. They were both looking at her with mixed expressions on their faces. Arya’s one of pity, horror, and disgust. Margaery’s one of sympathy, amusement, and knowing.

Sansa shook her head at them, laughing at their expressions. “Gods, no! Ew!”

Arya looked intensely relieved, but Margaery remained unconvinced. “I was watching you for a bit before I came over. You’ve been staring at the head table.”

“I wasn’t staring, Margaery,” Sansa protested. “I wasn’t looking at anything, or anyone. I was just lost in thought, looking without seeing.”

Margaery shook her head. “I had thought so at first. But when we came to sit with you, you kept sneaking glances at the head table.”

Arya suddenly looked at Sansa suspiciously. “You were!”

“Guys, I am NOT into Lockhart.” Sansa insisted.

“Ah, but you are into someone, aren’t you?” Margaery’s voice was laced with glee. Margaery loved romance, and as of yet had not had the opportunity to tease Sansa about any boys.

Sansa felt her face grow hot. Gods, no. Where was that perfect hold she usually held over her emotions? Why, oh why was everything to do with Petyr Baelish unraveling her so?

Margaery’s smile grew triumphant. “I knew it! Who?” She scanned the head table.

“It’s not Flitwick is it?” Arya asked, joking. “Or Dumbledore?”

Sansa couldn’t speak. She was screwed. There weren’t that many teachers at Hogwarts, and as few as the teachers were in number, that number lessened even more when you took into account the likelihood of a student having a crush on them. She should have let them think she was into Lockhart when she had the chance. Sansa silently cursed herself for her lack of forethought.

“No...” Margaery said, her eyes on Professor Baelish. She turned to look at Sansa. “I thought I noticed you acting odd during Potions.”

Arya followed Margaery’s gaze. “Sansa…” She shook her head in disbelief. “What are you doing crushing on the Potions teacher?”

“I’m not,” Sansa said weakly. She knew she had been beaten. But she couldn’t help but deny it all the same.

“Oh, Arya, lay off of her. It’s just a crush. Perfectly natural.” Margaery gently scolded.

“Oh, you would say that.” Arya rolled her eyes. “We all know you had a soft spot for Professor Potter. AND Professor Lupin.”

Margaery’s expression grew a bit dreamy. “I don’t care if he was a werewolf. I could have tamed him.”

Arya made a noise of disgust. “Come on, let’s get out of here. Sansa won’t pay any attention to us while we are still in the same room with him.”

“I’m paying attention to you guys.” Sansa protested, though in truth she had been sneaking looks at Professor Baelish again. They had already found out, so what was the use of pretending otherwise?

“Uh huh.” Arya said, getting up and grabbing her by the arm. She hauled Sansa to her feet and tugged her out of the Great Hall, Margaery trailing behind, still going on about Professor Lupin.

Arya led them out onto the grounds, the sun still shining for the moment, though its rays were weakening as the evening crept on.

“Where are we going?” Sansa asked, pulling her arm from Arya’s grasp.

“I kind of wanted to check up on Nymeria. She never came back to the Gryffindor girls’ dorm last night.” Arya was striding purposefully in the direction of the gamekeeper’s hut that stood along the edges of the Forbidden Forest. “Did Lady come to you?”

“Yes.” Sansa nodded. “Are you hoping she’s with Grey Wind at Hagrid’s?”

“Or somewhere nearby in the forest.” Arya said.

They reached the outskirts of the forest and Arya whistled, calling for her direwolf. Sansa joined in, calling for Lady, and Margaery added her voice to the calls as well. A few minutes of effort later, and Sansa heard the sounds of twigs snapping and leaves crunching underfoot, and three great forms bounded from the woods.

Nymeria jumped on Arya, bowling her over in her excitement, covering her face with sloppy kisses. Lady rubbed against Sansa’s side, humming with contentment as Sansa scratched her behind the ears. The third direwolf, Grey Wind, greeted Margaery, snuffling at her hand and giving it a casual lick. They stayed by the edge of the forest with the direwolves for a time, Arya roughhousing with Nymeria and Margaery and Sansa rubbing the furry bellies of the other two, lavishing attention on them.

When the sun began to set, they knew they should head back inside. They wouldn’t have to return to their common rooms yet, but they couldn’t stay outside any longer. Sansa gave Lady an affectionate pat, knowing the wolf would find her way to her bed sometime later that night, and ruffled the furs of Grey Wind and Nymeria in farewell.

As they walked back to the castle, Arya begged Sansa and Margaery to help her prepare for Quidditch tryouts, but gained no headway. Neither had any interest in Quidditch, nor any talent for the sport. Arya finally gave up, grumbling that she will have to ask Gendry Waters instead. Margaery took the opportunity to tease Arya about the Gryffindor seventh year, suggesting that the pair would just end up kissing instead of practicing, and Sansa couldn’t help but join in Margaery’s teasing.

“We are NOT interested in each other like that.” Arya snapped. “If you don’t stop bugging me about him I will be sure to send a bludger your way if I make the team.”

“I guess we won’t be attending any Quidditch games this year then.” Sansa said, with a wicked grin.

Arya scowled at her. “I wouldn’t be so cocky about teasing me if I were you.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Sansa said airily as they climbed the steps to the entrance of the school.

“You do.” Arya insisted. She began to push the door open. “I could tease you about liking-”

The words died on her lips as they pushed through the doors and nearly collided with Professor Baelish and Professor Dumbledore, who had been standing near the doors, probably waiting to make sure all students returned from the grounds. Sansa fought to keep the color from rising in her cheeks.

“Miss Stark. Miss Tyrell. Miss Stark.” Albus Dumbledore beamed at them. “I hope you’ve had a pleasant walk?”

“Oh, yes,” Margaery replied.

Dumbledore turned back to Professor Baelish. “I think that was the last of them. I had best retire to my office. No doubt there are several howlers waiting for my return. If I don’t open them soon, my office will be reduced to cinders!’ He smiled pleasantly at them all, and turned on his heel, purple cloak swishing with the movement.

Arya and Margaery glanced at each other, and then at Sansa. Margaery spoke first. “I think I will head back to my common room. Lots of homework!” She nudged Arya, who looked at her strangely.

“Wha-?”

“And you wanted to talk to Gendry tonight, right?” Margaery asked Arya pointedly.

Arya took the hint. “Right. I did. See you tomorrow, Sans.”

Sansa watched her friends walk away, parting as Margaery went down a corridor near the Great Hall, to the Hufflepuff common room, and Arya made her way to the stairs to trudge up to Gryffindor tower. She was now alone in the entrance hall with Professor Baelish. Sansa couldn’t believe their nerve, leaving her all alone with him. It wasn’t as if he was simply another student. They couldn’t encourage her to hang out with him, to be alone with him, to want him. What were they thinking?

Chapter Text

Sansa fiddled with her wand, and summoned up the courage to look at Professor Baelish. He was looking at her as well, expression unreadable. The silence felt thick, impenetrable. Sansa had no clue how to break it. To her relief, he spoke first.

“I was very impressed with your work in class today,” he said.

Sansa smiled humbly. “Thank you.” She ducked her head, trying to keep herself calm and in control. “The instructions on the blackboard. They were different from the ones in the textbook.” She brought her eyes to meet his, struggling not to fall into their mossy depths. “They were better.”

His lips quirked. “Yes. One can learn much from books. But not everything.”

Sansa wanted that fleeting smirk to return. “Professor Slughorn only ever taught from the book. I often felt as though the instructions given were imperfect, but I haven’t ever deviated from them before.”

Professor Baelish cocked his head slightly to the side. “And why did you today?”

“As I brewed my potion, your instructions just felt right, compared to the book’s.” Sansa admitted.

“And your instincts proved right,” he stated.

“Yes.”

“You should keep trusting your instincts. You are blessed with a clever mind. It won’t steer you wrong.” Professor Baelish said, his eyes holding hers.

Sansa felt as though she was being summoned again, magic drawing her irresistibly to him. She unintentionally took a step closer to where he stood.

“Thank you, Professor Baelish.”

He raised his hand, his fingers catching a lock of her soft red hair. “You have the Tully look,” he murmured.

Sansa’s breath caught in her throat at the unexpected contact. She desperately wished that she could better feel his fingers caressing the strands of her perfectly curled hair. “Sorry?”

Professor Baelish released the curl, and it sprung back into place. For a moment he looked as if he was attempting to compose himself. Then the mask returned, his expression once again unreadable. “I knew the Tullys once.”

Sansa tried to hide her disappointment at the loss of contact. “Oh?”

He nodded. “Yes. A long time ago. I was just a boy.”

“Did you go to school with my mother then? Or my aunt?” Sansa was intrigued.

“I did. And more than that. I lived with them once.” Professor Baelish was looking at her intently. “You look very much like your mother did when she was your age. Yet, different, as well.”

“You lived with them?” Sansa was shocked. She had never before heard his name until yesterday. But apparently he had grown up with her mother, with her aunt, and uncle, and grandparents. “Why?”

“I had nowhere else to go. They took me in,” he shrugged.

“So, you knew them well.” Sansa was having trouble processing this. She had never gotten the chance to know her mother. She only had the memories relayed to her from her Uncle Jon and Aunt Lyanna. But this man, this man she was so intensely drawn to, he had known her mother. And perhaps her father as well.

“I did,” Professor Baelish nodded, then reached out to touch her arm. “It is truly a shame that I had so much time with your mother, and you did not. I was very sad to hear of her passing.”

Sansa felt a conflicting mix of emotions. She was overjoyed at the touch of his hand on her arm, the warmth that spread from the point of contact throughout her entire body. And the frisson of excitement that also radiated with the warmth. But she also felt a deep ache, a sort of hollowness at the meaning of his words. She had never known her mother. And she never would. She stared down at the ground, studying his expensive leather shoes a couple of feet from her own.

In truth, the ache at having lost her parents and older brother had never caused her much turmoil. She had never known them, not really. Sansa wasn’t even a year old when they had all been murdered. Too young to truly feel the absence at the time. It wasn’t until many years had passed that she had learned why she was living with her aunt and uncle rather than her parents. And though she occasionally was struck by regret at never having known them, at the life she could have had, she did not feel their loss as oppressively as she would have had she actually known them. But she had been unexpectedly reminded of her mother at a time when she was already emotionally vulnerable due to her attraction to Professor Baelish, and it struck her far harder than it normally would have.

“Sansa?”

A thrill at the sound of her name on his lips cut through the pain of loss that was weighing her down. Sansa raised her eyes to meet his once again. His hand moved from her arm to her chin, thumb gently stroking the line of her jaw. Her eyes closed of their own accord, enjoying the soothing sensation of his touch.

“I am sorry my words have brought such pain to you, Miss Stark.” His voice was soft, barely audible.

She opened her eyes, giving him a weak smile. “I just know so little of my mother. My father.” Sansa paused. “But, you could tell me about them? Couldn’t you? At least my mother?”

Professor Baelish’s hand left her face. “I could.”

The loss of his hand was unbearable. “But will you?” Sansa asked, not hiding the note of pleading from her voice.

He studied her face, his gaze searching, as though he was seeing the thoughts that lay behind her bright blue eyes, and then nodded. “I will.”

The joy at his answer almost made up for the loss of his touch. “When?” Her voice was eager. Too eager. Sansa inwardly cringed. And before she could stop herself, she continued, “Now?”

He shook his head. “Not tonight. It is getting late. You should head back to your common room.”

“Curfew isn’t for a few more hours,” Sansa pointed out.

Professor Baelish’s mouth quirked in that signature smirk. Oh, how she loved that smirk. “Persistence.” He studied her for a moment, then nodded. “You’ve worn me down. Come to my office.”

Sansa followed him down the steps descending to the dungeons, to the room adjoining the Potions classroom, unable to contain the wide smile curving her lips. Professor Baelish flicked his wand and the room filled with light as the candles and fireplace ignited. His office had been extensively remodeled with magic, the damp stone walls replaced by rich, dark wood, with finely woven tapestries and expensive art hung here and there over the wood. Bookshelves stocked with books of every subject were lined against the wall, the wood the same as that of the walls, making the books appear as if they were floating in mid air.

A large desk dominated the left side of the room, black with silver filigree mockingbirds and vines adorning the edges and crawling up the four legs. Matching chairs with dark green silk cushioning were set behind and in front of the desk. The other half of the room featured an ornate fireplace of similar design, with a couch and two chairs situated in front of its warmth. The couch and chairs by the fireplace were made of exquisite black leather, and Sansa longed to feel the softness against her fingertips.

Professor Baelish walked over to the fireplace, sitting on one of the chairs, gesturing for Sansa to do the same. Sansa took the chair next to him, finding herself wishing he had chosen the couch, and chastising herself for the thought. They sat there in silence for what seemed like an eternity, his chin in his hand as he studied her. Sansa returned his gaze, unsure what to say.

Finally, he spoke. “What do you want to know?”

“Everything,” Sansa said truthfully.

He chuckled, and Sansa realised it was the first time she had heard him laugh. The sound was deep and raspy, much like his voice, and she felt it thrum through her body, her pulse taking on the same rhythm as his laugh. Professor Baelish paused in thought for a time, weighing how he should respond.

“I suppose I should tell you how I came to live with your mother’s family?” His fingers idly stroked his closely trimmed goatee, and she couldn’t help but watch, longing to replace his fingers with her own.

Sansa nodded. “Yes, please.” In truth, she certainly did want to learn more about her mother, but she was also most eager to learn more about him.

“My father and mother owned the house next to the Tullys before I was even born. Though they were muggles, my father and Hoster Tully struck up a friendship.”

“You’re a muggleborn?” Sansa asked, surprised, the words out before she could think better of it. It wasn’t often that muggleborns were sorted into Slytherin, though certainly not unheard of.

“Yes. I grew up playing with the Tully children, my family and myself completely unaware that our neighbors were witches and wizards. The Tullys, of course, suspected I might be like them, but never broached the subject. After my mother died, my father went into a deep depression. We lost everything, including our home. Your grandfather did what he could to help us, but my father was far too proud to accept much help, only acquiescing for my sake.

“When my father died, Hoster Tully, named as my godfather, took me in. I soon discovered the truth about the wizarding world, and that I was part of it. I was raised as nearly part of the family, and was very close with Catelyn, your mother.” Professor Baelish stopped talking, lost in thought.

“But, if you were so close to my mother, why have I never heard of you before now?” Sansa asked, confused. Surely her uncle might have mentioned him before if what Professor Baelish was telling her was true. Or her Aunt Lysa? She had grown up with him, after all.

He sighed. “It is a rather long and tragic story, sweetling. I do not wish to trouble you with such things.”

Sansa was temporarily derailed by the term of endearment. Sweetling? She had not heard him refer to her as such before, nor anyone else. What did he mean by it? Or was there no hidden meaning contained in the word? Did she want there to be? Oh yes. Yes, she did. But aside from the pleasure that one word gave her, she knew she must focus on the other words he had spoken. What had happened between him and the Tullys to warrant the word tragic?

“You promised to tell me about my mother.” Sansa reminded him, determined to find out more. “The story involves her, does it not?”

Professor Baelish raised an eyebrow at her. “You certainly are stubborn. That seems to be a Stark trait.”

Sansa just looked at him, her gaze unwavering.

He shook his head, his features etched with amusement. “Very well.”

Sansa beamed at him in triumph, shifting in her chair to angle her body more towards his. It didn’t fail to escape her notice that their knees were only an inch or two apart. A small adjustment and her knee could brush against his. She wasn’t sure if she could, or should (of course she shouldn’t), dare to do such a thing. But she might not have a choice, what with her body often acting of its own accord around him.

“When I attended school with your mother, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her,” he began.

Sansa froze her attempts to shift her knee slightly closer, her blood running cold. He had loved her mother?! No. No no no no no. NO!

Professor Baelish continued, seemingly not noticing her inner turmoil. “By her seventh year, your mother was engaged to your uncle, Brandon Stark, a match Hoster Tully had made with the Starks to cement an alliance between their families. It was a time of war and devastation, and many of the prominent wizarding families were entering similar alliances. I was about four years younger than your mother, and incredibly foolish and naive at the time. I mistakenly thought she returned my feelings, confusing her friendship for something more.

“When Brandon Stark came to visit her at Hogwarts one day, I decided to challenge him to a duel for her hand, believing that I would win and save Cat from an arranged marriage. I was confident in my dueling abilities, confident that I, as the underdog, would prevail, just as all the stories said. But, I had not anticipated that Brandon Stark preferred a sword over his wand. He struck me with his family’s cursed blade, Ice, nearly killing me.

“Afterwards, I spent a long time in St. Mungo’s, recovering. Hoster Tully was furious over the whole ordeal, upset that I might have destroyed their chance at an alliance with the Starks, destroyed his attempts at protecting his family. And so he cast me out of his home, and out of his family. And I haven’t had contact with any of them since,” he finished.

Sansa sat there, numb. He had loved her mother. He had nearly died for her mother. She had fallen for a man who was completely unattainable. Her voice broke as she asked, “Do you still love her?”

Professor Baelish looked surprised. “Cat? No. My love for her died that day, along with nearly every other part of me.”

Sansa didn’t know what to think of that. She was relieved to hear that he no longer loved her mother. But, what else of him had died that day? Was he only a shadow of the boy he once was? Or did he simply mean he had nearly died, his body shutting down, his soul released to wherever souls pass on to once no longer contained. She was unsure if she should ask. Unsure if she wanted to know the answer.

The flames of the fire crackled as Sansa absorbed what he had told her. She wasn’t sure if she truly felt much better knowing that he no longer loved her mother. The issue was that he had loved her mother at all. Her crush had been completely hopeless before she had learned that crucial bit of information. And now it seemed as though fate was laughing at her. He had once loved someone who looked much like she did, who might have even been similar in personality as well. And that someone was her mother. Sansa couldn’t begin to describe how much that hurt.

What was worse, she actually felt jealous of her mother. She resented her very own mother for having been loved, even more so that her mother had cast his love aside. Her mother hadn’t even wanted Petyr, and yet he had loved her all the same. Sansa felt sick at her own reaction. Her mother had died to save her. Her mother’s sacrifice protected her even now. And Sansa was resenting her over a man she barely knew, and the past her mother had shared with him.

The guilt she felt only seemed to compound the resentment, which in turn compounded the guilt. And on and on it went until Sansa felt as if she might go mad from the crushing weight of it all. She stared into the fire, not really seeing the flames in their artful dance of warmth and light. Professor Baelish did not speak, seeming to understand she was attempting to process everything.

Sansa tried to sort through her tangled mass of thought, but any attempts only seemed to add new knots and twists. Finally, she gave up, and simply tried to regain her composure, so that she might bid him goodnight and return to her dormitory. Perhaps she might have better luck sorting things out while not in his presence.

When Sansa had managed to push everything back to the corner of her mind for the time being, she raised her eyes to meet his. Her voice was soft, a mere whisper, only just audible despite the silence pervading the room. “I am so sorry for what you went through.”

Professor Baelish shook his head. “I am not. That experience opened my eyes to the true nature of the world. Life is not a song, sweetling.” He paused. “But, I think you have already learned that, to your sorrow.” His face held a tinge of sympathy in its features, grey-green eyes briefly reflecting the cast of his face for once.

Sansa smiled weakly. “Thank you for speaking with me.” She stood, somewhat shakily. “But, I think I should head back to my common room. I am feeling a little out of sorts.”

He nodded and stood as well. Professor Baelish walked her to the door of his office. “Goodnight, Sansa.”

“Goodnight, sir.” Sansa’s smile did not match her eyes, which were filled with inner conflict and sadness.

She walked slowly back to her common room, hearing the soft snap of the door closing behind her. At the sound, the measure of control she had managed to build suddenly shattered, and her eyes welled with tears, the wetness streaking her pale cheeks. Sansa quickened her steps and reached the concealed door, her throat constricting as she choked out the password. As the door slid sideways to reveal the entrance, she ducked her head so that her red hair tumbled around her face, concealing her anguish from view.

Sansa made it into her dormitory without anyone casting a second glance at her, much to her relief. She kicked off her shoes and crawled into bed, not bothering to undress, yanking the hangings shut around her. Using her wand, she cast a spell to soundproof the curtains, so that she might cry without worrying about anyone overhearing her. It was a spell she had learned from Margaery, who had often dealt with romantic heartbreak and preferred her privacy during such times.

She curled up on her side, the sobs wracking her body. Sansa clutched her pillow to her chest, wishing that Lady had returned already. She wanted to bury her face into the direwolf’s soft fur, smelling the earth and greenery from her travels in the forest. Unbelievably, as she thought of her, Lady’s nose suddenly poked through the hangings, and the wolf jumped up to join her. Sansa cuddled into her soft warmth, her sobs instantly quieting. It was as if Lady had sensed her master’s discomfort, and come immediately to her to lend support.

Soon, the tears no longer flowed, and her breathing evened out, the lull of the direwolf’s heartbeat soothing her. Sansa found her mind much clearer, as if everything toxic had left along with the tears she had shed. She found that with a bit of time, she now had more perspective, the shock having worn off somewhat. She decided that she had no reason to feel jealous of her mother, as Professor Baelish had said he no longer loved her. Of course, he might have been lying, but she sensed he had not been. And what reason would he have to lie to her about such things, anyway?

Sansa knew it would really be best to try and quash the feelings she had quickly developed for Petyr Baelish, but every aspect of her being recoiled at the thought. And she wasn’t sure she could really stop herself from liking him if she tried. It was incredibly foolish to allow her feelings to continue and develop, for they would only end in heartbreak. But, she found she did not care. It was better to love and have your heart broken than never to love at all. Not that she loved him, of course.

Besides, she would be turning seventeen in three months. She would be officially of age in the wizarding world. Of course, it was likely forbidden for teachers and students to pursue relationships with one another. Perhaps after she graduated next year… That is, if he even liked her as much as she did him.

He had called her sweetling. Several times. But, perhaps it was a term of endearment he commonly used with others? And, if he did like her, how could she be certain he liked her for her, and not for the memory of her mother?

Sansa groaned inwardly. A truly doomed crush. One that was beyond complicated and messy and unlikely to ever bring anything but misery. She must be a magnet for tragedy. Truly.

She finally drifted to sleep with the help of the gentle rhythmic rise and fall of Lady’s furry warmth . Sansa dreamt of a red haired woman, not much older than herself, crying out in horror as a man cut down a younger boy with a great, gleaming sword. She saw the boy dying as he lay there in the grass, the look on his face as if he had just had his whole world come crashing down. The red haired girl ran to his side, and it was Sansa, not her mother. Sansa smoothed the hair back from his forehead, telling him that everything would be okay, praying it would be.

The boy aged as she comforted him, grey lining his temples, stubble dotting his jaw, and he was Professor Baelish. He raised a hand to her face as she knelt next to him, cupping her cheek, bringing her lips down to meet his. When the kiss broke, Sansa saw he had healed from his mortal wound. As she stared down at him in wonder, he sat up, pulling her to him once again.

Chapter Text

Thursday, September 3rd 

 

When Sansa came upstairs for breakfast the next morning, Margaery and Arya were waiting for her beside the entrance to the Great Hall. Sansa pulled them aside and immediately scolded her friends for their actions.

Margaery laughed. “Oh, Sansa, really. There is nothing wrong with us leaving you two alone to talk.”

“But, there is.” Sansa hissed. “He is our teacher, not another student. You can’t just try to push us together like that.”

Margaery only smirked at her, a wicked gleam in her eyes. “Oh, don’t tell me you didn’t love being left alone with him.”

“Completely beside the point!” Sansa sputtered, face bright red to match her hair. She really needed to learn to control her emotions when it came to Professor Baelish. It seemed just talking about him could send her control flying, like a feather floating along at the mercy of the winds.

“Oh, Sansa. Live a little. Indulge. Go wild. Do something fun and crazy for once. Be impulsive.” Margaery said earnestly.

“Margaery, no good can come from this.” Sansa said, hoping her friend would just give it a rest. Sure, she certainly wanted to be with him, but it was one thing to want, and quite another thing to act. The risk at following through with her feelings was far too great. It was better to just fantasize about it. She just wanted to crush on him from afar until the timing was better. Sansa wasn’t a reckless person, and she was all too aware of the consequences of pursuing her professor.

“But it can, Sansa. You could open up that heart of yours and love a little.”

“I love plenty of people,” Sansa protested.

“Platonically. It is one thing to experience the love of friendship, of family, of owning a pet. And quite another to let yourself fall in love with someone. You are missing out, Sansa.” Margaery insisted. “This is the first time I have seen you show an interest in anyone. I can’t help but encourage it, even if it would be a rather problematic relationship.”

Sansa shook her head at her friend. “It is just really not a good idea. And I would rather you stopped pushing me. If it is to happen, it will happen without your help.”

Margaery broke out into a grin. “So, you are not completely against it, then.”

“No. But, I am not going to act recklessly or draw attention to it. And you pushing us together is bound to draw unwanted attention.” Sansa replied.

Arya finally interjected. “May I remind the two of you that Sansa is only 16? Forget the fact that he is her teacher, he is far too old for her. There are laws.”

Margaery waved her hand dismissively. “Sansa is turning seventeen in less than three months. She will be of age. Besides, since when do you care about the rules.”

Arya frowned. “I don’t. I guess I just don’t want to see Sansa get hurt. We don’t even know anything about this man.”

“Well, we will find out then.” Margaery proclaimed. “So, what happened after we left you guys alone?” She looked at Sansa expectantly.

Sansa quickly told them about their talk, voice low, eliciting squeals of delight from Margaery. She didn’t reveal everything, just enough to hopefully get Margaery off of her case.

“Oh, this is too delicious!” Margaery crowed.

Arya shook her head in disbelief. “The two of you are nuts.” She paused. “And I am so done with discussing your love life. Breakfast is calling for me and my stomach is in desperate need of eggs and bacon.”

 

Friday, September 4th

 

The rest of the school week passed by with little of note occurring. Sansa attended her Herbology, Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, and Charms lessons and soon had plenty homework to contend with in the evenings, despite the fact that the term had only just begun. As a N.E.W.T student, she was expected to deal with far more coursework than ever before, as she was supposed to preparing for her future career. Sansa had based her schedule around becoming a Potioneer, not knowing anything else she would rather do than spend her life making potions.

She only saw Professor Baelish at mealtimes, as her Potions classes were only on Mondays and Wednesdays. He never seemed to glance her way anymore, something which both confused and frustrated her. Unfortunately, or, perhaps fortunately, she found she didn’t have much time to dwell on this, dealing with class and schoolwork.

It was relief when she left Charms on Friday with the prospect of a free period to extend her weekend even further. Sansa decided that her homework could wait until later in the weekend, and headed out onto the grounds in search of Lady. The sunlight warmed her face, picking up the gold in her fiery red hair as she walked. Once her direwolf was by her side, she ambled around aimlessly, just enjoying the beautiful day, her thoughts often straying to her Potions teacher.

She didn’t understand why it seemed he was avoiding looking at her. Sure, she had been rather upset when they had parted Wednesday night, but she couldn’t see why that would cause him to act as if she didn’t exist. Did he perhaps suspect she had a crush on him? Was he trying to distance himself from a silly girl and her foolish affections, hoping to dissuade her? The thought made Sansa’s heart ache.

She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she did not notice the sky darkening, the clouds plump with rain waiting to fall. The cascade came fast and hard, drenching her before she had any time to react. Sansa cried out in surprise and dashed for cover, taking refuge under the trees by the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. She wasn’t worried about anything attacking her, not with Lady by her side.

Sansa was quite a distance from proper shelter at the castle, so she made her way along the edge of the forest, protected from the worst of the rain by the canopy of leaves the trees provided, heading for the greenhouses. Her clothes were soaked, clinging to her skin, her black flats squishing in the mud with each step she took. Lady kept shaking the water from her fur, and Sansa knew she would need to bathe after she returned to the castle- there was nothing worse than smelling like wet dog.

She neared the closest greenhouse and made a mad dash from the trees to the door, Lady bounding behind her. Sansa wrenched open the door and rushed inside, colliding with someone, her muddy flats sliding on the greenhouse floor. She braced her hands against the person’s chest, and they caught her by the arms, stopping her from falling.

“Thanks!” she gasped, looking up to see who had saved her from a nasty spill. Sansa’s heart stopped and skittered as she looked into Petyr Baelish’s eyes, her hands still on his chest. His hands remained fixed on her arms, holding her steady.

Time seemed to stop, as it so often did when it came to her and Petyr Baelish. Her breathing was harsh and ragged as she kept her eyes fixed on his. He was so close. He was holding her. And he wasn’t letting go.

His eyes held hers, then flicked down, taking in her appearance. Sansa followed his gaze to her soaked white blouse, the outline of her bra clearly visible beneath the fabric. Her eyes met his again, and she noticed the grey green had darkened noticeably. Neither of them moved from their positions as Sansa’s breaths slowly normalized, though her heart sped up considerably. Beneath her hands, through the fabric of his shirt, she could feel his heartbeat as well. It seemed nearly as fast as her own. And, was it her imagination? Or was his heart beating in time with her own, the tempo similarly erratic.

Before Sansa could decide if she was simply being delusional, his hands moved from her arms to cup her face, and his lips crashed down to meet her own. The jolt she felt at the contact had little to do with her shock at his actions, and everything to do with how the kiss made her feel. Her hands briefly clutched at his shirt, before smoothing up his chest as her arms curled around his neck. She could taste the mint that so often clung to him, feel the tickle of his closely cropped goatee and mustache against her skin.

The kiss was deep and passionate, and Sansa found herself pressing her whole body into him as his hands left her face and trailed down her arms to grab at her waist, pulling her even closer. She felt the pleasure of the kiss spread through her body, to every extremity, desire pooling below her stomach. Her fingers reached up, threading into the dark hair at the nape of his neck. His hair was silky to the touch as she worked her fingers through it, mussing up his careful efforts at styling it.

Sansa felt her breasts press against his chest through the wet fabric of her shirt, her nipples hardening at the contact, and she left out a soft moan. As her lips parted his tongue slid in to meet her own, sending an arc of pleasure through her. His right hand caressed her waist as his left ran up her back, her shirt becoming untucked with his movements. His left hand moved once again to cup her face, and he stepped forward, pushing her against the wall by the door, the rain still pouring outside, droplets whipping in through the still open door.

They clung to one another, and soon, with the wind blowing the rain into the greenhouse, Professor Baelish was nearly as soaked as she was. The kiss grew ever more feverish, and Sansa was beginning to feel lightheaded from the lack of air and the delicious sensation of it all. But there was no way she would ever seek to break the kiss and the spell that had come over them.

She had never been kissed before now, though it hadn’t been for the lack of offers. Sansa was grateful that she seemed to have gotten the hang of it rather quickly, since he wasn’t pushing her away, only kissing her harder with each moment that passed. With absolutely no space between the pair of them, she could easily feel the hardness of his growing erection as they pressed against each other. Though she should have been rather apprehensive at this, it instead produced a completely opposite effect. Her body drew him in even closer, their hold on each other fierce and unrelenting.

Professor Baelish (though surely she must call him Petyr now?) seemed to be a phenomenal kisser, his lips and tongue expertly moving against her own. Not that she had any other to compare him to, but she had heard much from Margaery on the subject of kisses. And Sansa felt that he must be good, to make her feel so amazing, the feeling only increasing as time passed.

She felt an urge to divest him of his clothes, peeling the sodden fabric from his skin and from her own, to let their bodies join together without barriers. But Sansa knew what might come after such things, and though she desperately wanted to, she wasn’t sure she was ready for such a big decision. And so she kept her hands from that which they itched to do, attempting to content herself with gentle tugs at his hair and the feeling of his lips against hers.

When her hands couldn’t help but roam, his body felt hard and compact, not an ounce of excess padding. She could feel the gently defined muscles of his arms and chest, the planes of his collar bone and hip bones. Petyr’s left hand wove into her hair as she explored, his right slowly rising up her side, thumb stroking. Sansa felt his hand graze the underside of her breast and gasped into his mouth, before kissing him with even more vigor. He took that as consent and pulled their bodies apart enough to cup her breast, thumb grazing over her nipple through her shirt and bra.

The sensation was glorious, and she pressed against his hand unconsciously. But before anything more could happen, Sansa heard Lady woof at someone in greeting, and Petyr broke the kiss at the sound. He pulled away from her quickly, his eyes searching through the rain in alarm. Sansa was struggling to catch her breath, still leaning against the wall, but she turned her head to look as well. Lady was sitting outside the door in the rain, wagging her tail as she watched a figure approaching the greenhouses. Sansa squinted, trying to make out who it was.

“Professor Sprout.” Petyr said, cursing under his breath as he fixed his clothes and hair hastily. He aimed his wand at the door, which snapped shut, then directed the wand as his clothes, which dried instantly. “Would you like some help?” He asked.

Sansa nodded, and he used his wand to dry her clothing as well, before grabbing her hand and pulling her gently after him through the greenhouse. They wove their way through the plants, sidestepping the curling tendrils of the Venomous Tentacula, until they reached a door at the other end. With a glance backwards at the room, Petyr opened the door, exposing the torrential rain outside. Holding his wand pointed upwards towards the sky, he ushered Sansa outside, hurrying her towards the school.

To her surprise, she didn’t feel the rain spattering so violently to the ground. Sansa looked up and could see an invisible barrier keeping the rain at bay. A spell was sheltering them from the rain as if an invisible umbrella had sprouted from the tip of his wand. He didn’t speak, and neither did she. She was feeling rather overwhelmed, still reeling from their passionate kiss, heart still pounding like the rhythmic beat of the rain against the ground. She still remembered how her pulse and his had seemed to align together, and with the insistent tapping against the glass panes of the greenhouse roof as he kissed her. As if the storm outside was within the both of them as well, begging for release.

Sansa wanted to say something. Say anything. But she couldn’t fight above the awkwardness and embarrassment that was drowning her. She had just had a passionate make out session with her teacher. And he had been her first kiss. He had clearly wanted her, though. Hadn’t he? He had kissed her first, pressed himself up against her, pushing her into the wall as his lips and hands sparked warmth and pleasure with their movements. She should say something. But what?

Petyr guided her to one of the lesser used entrances of Hogwarts and they took refuge inside, slightly out of breath from their brisk walk. Sansa had barely caught her breath when he nodded to her, his lips forming the phrase “Miss Stark,” before he turned on his heel and left her there, alone and confused.

Chapter Text

Friday, September 4th

 

Sansa:

Numb with shock, and cold from the chill the storm had brought, Sansa made her way back to her common room. She went straight to her girl’s dormitory and the adjoining bathroom, grabbing her shower things and a towel on the way. She couldn’t seem to process what had happened, but she knew she likely smelled like a wet dog, from running around with Lady in the rain. The color rose in her cheeks as she realized that Petyr had likely noticed the unpleasant smell.

Miserably, she stripped and stepped in under the hot press of the shower, closing her eyes as the warmth enveloped her. Why had he just left her like that? Without a word as to what had happened? Surely he could have said something. Discretion was of course imperative, but to simply say her name, her last name at that, and just leave? He couldn’t give her more than that? Did he regret his actions?

As Sansa washed, she felt the warm water slowly soothe her body and mind. She still felt terribly confused and upset, but it had lessened to a much more manageable level. One that she could tuck deep inside of herself, unseen to her fellow students, to her friends. She decided she wouldn’t tell her friends anything about what had happened. She trusted Margaery and Arya, but the less people who knew, the better. Even if nothing ever came from it. She didn’t want to get Professor Baelish fired. Or to gain a reputation at the school.

As she dried off and redressed in black leggings and an oversized t-shirt, Sansa pondered her next move. She was certain that he wanted her too. She had experienced a moment of self doubt after his quick departure, but she trusted her instincts. He wanted her badly. But, perhaps he hadn’t meant to kiss her. It must have been an impulse. If he regretted his actions, could she truly blame him? He was her teacher, she was his student. She was only sixteen. If they had been seen, the consequences would have been dire.

And perhaps he felt as though he had just taken advantage of her. Perhaps he was also giving her an out, letting her know that he wouldn’t force her into anything. Maybe her silence as they had walked made him think that she was regretting what had happened. Sansa couldn’t know for sure, but her thoughts seemed reasonable enough. She would wait and see how he treated her in the coming days before succumbing to misery.

After she had tied her wet hair back in a simple braid, Sansa piled her homework on her bedside table and crawled onto her bed. She found she had very little appetite, and no desire to join everyone in the Great Hall for dinner. Her nerves had calmed a great deal, but not so much that she was certain there would be no cracks in her façade. If she grew hungry later, she could always use a summoning charm to send some snacks from the kitchens her way.

She spent the night working through all of the homework she had already accumulated. Professor Baelish hadn’t assigned them any homework, nor had Lockhart or Hagrid, but McGonagall, Sprout and Flitwick had all generously made up for it. Sansa poured over her books, scratching out the assigned essays with her quill. She always dutifully completed her homework, putting forth her best effort. It wasn’t simply a desire to please, but a genuine interest in learning. She couldn’t understand why so many of her fellow students didn’t study with similar passion.

There was so much to learn, and all of it was so fascinating. Sansa liked Herbology for the connections it had with Potions, and Care of Magical Creatures because she had always been fond of animals and magical beasts were no exception. As for Charms, DADA, and Transfiguration, they were learning spells essential for living life (or at least spells that would help them learn enough to be able to perform more complicated spells). She loved each new spell she mastered, and eagerly sought to learn new ones from textbooks that weren’t covered in lessons.

Arya sometimes made fun of her for her persistence, but Sansa would simply fire one of her newly learned jinxes at her friend, and suddenly the comments would stop as Arya begged to learn the spell. Margaery never teased her over such things, as she was quite involved in her own studies as well. Margaery was quite bright, and had plans to become a Healer after she left Hogwarts. As such, Margaery had her head buried in her books as nearly as often as Sansa did, though her studies were less out of enjoyment and more out of necessity- the requirements for Healers were quite extensive.

Sansa managed to finish all of her homework that night as she diligently worked. As the evening wore on, she finally felt her stomach rumble in complaint, so she used her wand to summon some food from the kitchens, a small pie leftover from that night’s dinner whizzing to her side. After she finished her dinner and her schoolwork, she spent the rest of the night reading Advanced Potion Making, Lady curled up by her side.

When she went to bed that night, her bunkmates all sleeping peacefully in their own beds, Sansa finally let her thoughts drift back to Petyr Baelish. She could not help the grin that spread across her features as she remembered their kiss in vivid detail. He wanted her too.

 

Petyr:

Petyr Baelish was angry at himself. Angry at the major lapse in self control that had just occurred. He had just kissed Sansa Stark. In broad daylight. In a greenhouse constructed completely out of glass. With the door open, not that it really mattered, when the entire building was made of windows. They had been lucky Lady was there to warn them of Pomona Sprout’s approach. And lucky that the storm had blurred the view through the glass panes.

He did not understand the hold Sansa had over him. How just looking at her, soaked to the skin, and holding onto him for dear life, had broken him enough to succumb to such an ill advised impulse. And once their lips had met, he couldn’t stop. He didn’t want to stop.

As soon as he had heard her direwolf bark, Petyr had come back to his senses. He quickly did what he could to diffuse the situation and left her as soon as he could manage it. He knew she would be hurt and confused, but it was for the best. Nothing good would come from staying in her presence any longer than was necessary. A relationship with a student would jeopardize everything he had worked so hard for, and he wasn’t willing to risk that. Not even for her.

After he left her, he went straight back to his office, thoughts racing. Petyr decided it would be best to take a shower, to erase her touch from his skin and clothes and mind, as though it had never happened. He could still smell the scent of her gorgeous red hair, an intoxicating mix of pomegranate and lemon. Gods, what was this girl doing to him?

Petyr had come to Hogwarts in order to ingratiate himself with Albus Dumbledore and the other teachers at the school. He had already risen high enough in the Ministry that little happened that he wasn’t aware of, but his reach was sorely lacking at the school. Albus Dumbledore was a powerful and intelligent wizard, one who had defeated the dark wizard Grindelwald, even spearheaded the defense against Voldemort’s rise to power. Gaining his trust and confidence would go a long way towards achieving his plans for the wizarding world.

It was no accident that Horace Slughorn had chosen to retire that year. Petyr had been a member of Slughorn’s so-called Slug Club, and had kept in contact with him after school. Though Petyr had not initially been considered eligible to join, as an orphaned muggleborn, Slughorn had soon noticed his strong talent in Potions, as well as the potential in him that most others had a tendency to overlook. This summer, Petyr had paid a visit to his old teacher, expressing an interest in taking over as Potions Master, and insinuating that his retirement would be worth his while. Slughorn was a man prone to decadence and self-indulgence, and was only too happy to oblige.

When Petyr had attended the welcoming feast for his first year of teaching, he had expected to be overwhelmed with a wealth of new information. This was an entire new realm to conquer, and as such it would take some time before he was working with the same level of confidence he had attained in the Ministry. He had expected many revelations, as well as a large dose of the drama that hung around school aged children. What he had not expected, was Sansa Stark.

As soon as he laid eyes on her, he knew her instantly. This wasn’t surprising, as nearly everyone who saw the girl knew who she was. Sansa was known as ‘The Wolf Who Lived,’ among the wizarding community. The tragedy that had befallen her family and brought about Voldemort’s demise was famous. As was the lightning scar that slashed across her otherwise perfect skin.

But he also knew her for a far different reason. Petyr had thought at first that Cat was there, sitting at the Slytherin table instead of with the Gryffindors. With her vibrant hair of fire, Sansa had certainly looked much like her mother. He had flashed back to a simpler time, of a schoolboy’s hopeless crush on his childhood friend. Of the painful and life-threatening rejection that followed. But sense overtook his memories, and he realized that he was not looking at Cat, but at her daughter.

As he waited for the Sorting to begin, it did not escape his notice that Sansa could not seem to keep her eyes off of him. Petyr could not resist letting his eyes lock with hers as she watched him, rewarding the shocked expression on her face with a smirk. Intrigued by her reaction, he decided to use his skills in Legilimency to access her thoughts, curious at what he might find. It was difficult, with the crowded room, and the distance between them, but he finally managed to slip into her mind. To his surprise, her fascination with him seemed to be based in attraction.

As the night wore on, Petyr couldn’t resist experimenting with a few carefully placed glances, just to see their effect, listening all the while to her thoughts. By the time the feast had ended, he was thoroughly fascinated by what he had learned about Sansa Stark. The next morning. he could not help but delve into her mind again, greatly enjoying every thought he found there. He continued to listen to her mind every moment they were in each other's presence, including class, and could not help but find himself as drawn to her as she was to him.

After their conversation in his office, Petyr attempted to back off, realizing that he might be in danger of falling into a similar situation like what had happened with Cat. For, though Sansa was most certainly interested, he did not know enough of her character yet to tell if she was seriously entertaining the thought of being with him or simply driven by lust. And he was not willing to put himself in such a vulnerable position again.

Not to mention, Petyr needed to keep his focus on his plans. And, he did not want to jeopardize his position at Hogwarts by acting inappropriately with a student. So he resolved to avoid her, refraining from looking at her or entering her thoughts. He hoped with time her attraction to him would fade. This clearly had not produced the desired effect, judging by their most recent encounter. Forcing himself not to think of Sansa had only made him more vulnerable to impulse. He had not even gone a day and a half without succumbing to her.

Petyr knew he must try to push her away again. There was too much at stake. It would not do to get tangled up in a potentially disastrous affair. But she clearly wanted him desperately, and he could not help but want her too. Sansa was beautiful, yes, but what he had learned of her mind was even more bewitching to behold.

Sansa may have inherited much of her mother’s looks, but her mind had hidden depths that he was certain Cat had never possessed. Sansa had so much raw potential coiled within her, and the further he dug into her mind, the more he saw of himself in her. They seemed to be one and the same. Minds and souls cut from the same cloth only to be reunited once more and stitched together with unbreakable thread.

Petyr shook himself from his reverie, realizing that he had been showering long enough that the water had run cold. He could have simply turned the tap further, but he decided that he had spent long enough under the soothing spray. If her scent still clung to him now, it surely would never leave.

When he was dressed once again, he found himself thinking back to their first Potions lesson together. Petyr had been distracted during most of the lesson by the irresistible smell wafting from Amortentia. Parchment, mint, and lemon pomegranate shampoo. He had caught the scent of Sansa’s hair when he had been passing out schedules, and there was no mistaking that her shampoo was dominant in the scent Amortentia dispelled for him. It was then that he knew he must tread with caution.

Petyr sighed and decided to get some work done, hoping to distract himself. He found he could not concentrate on anything for long, and jumped from task to task as he struggled against his thoughts. He decided not to risk attending dinner in the Great Hall. It would be unwise to see her again so soon. If he had any hope of escaping from the hold she had on him, distance would be critical.

That night, he dreamed of Sansa, as he had done every night since he had first laid eyes upon her. He dreamed of her hair, the red hue like silky fire, tendrils of flame flowing around her pale face. And when he woke the next morning, he had an urge to create something new. A potion of liquid fire, so that if he could not have all of her, he could at least bottle some part of her to keep by his side.

Chapter Text

Saturday, September 5th

 

The next morning, Sansa awoke to find the dormitory still quiet, her fellow Slytherin sixth year girls all still slumbering, tangled up in their bedclothes. As it was Saturday, they were all enjoying a few extra hours of sleep. Sansa didn’t envy them. Her dreams last night had been tainted by the usual nightmares of green light and cold, cruel laughter. She could still feel it ringing in her ears, and had no wish to return to the mercy of her mind in slumber.

Lady had already left for her daily wanderings, to Sansa’s disappointment. She supposed she shouldn’t be surprised. Lady always spent a great deal of time roaming the grounds at Hogwarts, even more so when they first returned to the school. The school grounds were far more expansive than those at the Eyrie, and had the Forbidden Forest to endlessly explore. Lady was likely enjoying her newfound freedom, and being with her siblings again.

Sansa quickly dressed in jeans and a dark green, fitted tee, the neckline low enough to reveal a hint of cleavage, but modestly so. She stepped into chunky heeled black boots, and carefully wound her slightly kinked hair into an elegantly messy updo, securing it with chopsticks that looked like miniature wands. She wasn’t likely to have much contact with Professor Baelish, if at all, but she still added a touch of mascara and lip tint, just in case.

With one last look at herself in the mirror, Sansa stuck her wand in the pocket of her jeans (the pocket magically enhanced by her to perfectly and securely stow her wand) and left for the Great Hall. She found Arya and Margaery seated at the Gryffindor table, Arya shoveling down food with a determined look on her face.

Margaery looked over at Sansa with concern as she took her seat. “We didn’t see you at dinner last night.”

Sansa pulled a platter of pancakes towards herself and forked a couple onto her plate. “I wasn’t really hungry enough to justify leaving my bed.”

Arya stopped eating long enough to ask, “Is everything ok?”

“Yes. I just got caught out in the rain while out with Lady, and by the time I got back to my dormitory and got cleaned up, I was too exhausted to deal with coming to dinner.” Sansa added a bit of butter to her pancakes and doused them with syrup. “How are you feeling? Nervous?”

The Gryffindor Quidditch team’s tryouts were this morning. Arya would be trying for the position of Beater, something she had been desperately wanting since she was old enough to swing a Beater’s bat. She had not had a chance on the team as long as the Weasley twins, Fred and George, were still at school, as they were both exceptional players. Arya did not begrudge the twins for this though. In fact, Fred and George were practically her personal heroes, in more ways than one.

Fred and George were both incredibly funny and talented, in Quidditch and in getting into an absurd amount of trouble. They were always into some kind of mischief, and had left school last year with plans to start their own joke shop. Last year had been filled students making use of the twins’ various creations, from Canary Creams (pastries that, once consumed, turned the person into a giant canary), to the immensely popular Skiving Snackboxes (unique treats that make the student sick enough to get out of class, with an antidote provided so that students didn’t have to spend their newly earned free time with a fever or blood spurting from their nose). Ayra greatly admired the twins for their Quidditch skills and their antics, and, when Margaery began dating George, was actually pretty jealous for a time (though it wasn’t a jealously born of romantic intentions).

Arya shook her head in response, gulping down some juice. “Nah. I’ve got this. I know it. I have been training all summer. Jon helped me.”

Margaery cocked her head to the side, curious. “But Jon doesn’t play Quidditch.”

Arya snorted. “No. But he could fly around and try and dodge my bludgers. He’s a decent flyer. Only got beaned a few times.”

Sansa swallowed a bit of pancake and laughed. “Guess he is used to getting bruises though, going through Auror training.”

Arya nodded, pushing her empty plate away. “Hurry up and finish, Sans. I don’t want to be late.”

“Almost done.” Sansa finished the last few bites and took a drink from her goblet. “Ok.”

As she stood from the table with Margaery and Arya, Sansa could not help but let her eyes flit to the head table. To her disappointment, he wasn’t there. Feeling rather dejected, she followed her friends down to the Quidditch pitch, Arya with her broom in hand, chatting animatedly about who all might make the team this year.

Margaery and Sansa parted with Arya when they reached the gathering of students at the pitch, heading for the stands to watch the tryouts. The took seats about midway up the stands, apart from the other students that had come to cheer their classmates on.

“How are you and George doing, by the way?” Sansa asked, as the new Gryffindor Quidditch Captain, Harry Potter, called for quiet and began to organize the tryouts. It seemed he would be looking to fill the positions of Chasers first, so Sansa didn’t feel it necessary to pay attention.

Margaery frowned. “To be honest, it’s all become rather messy.”

Sansa quirked an eyebrow at her friend. “In what way?”

“Um, well… We spent quite a lot of time together this summer. At the Burrow. That’s what the Weasleys call their house. He and Fred have been hard at work with planning their joke shop, and when they aren’t working odd jobs to get some capital, they are busy developing their products. So whenever I would visit, I often spent time with both of them, helping.” Margaery paused. “Oh, Sansa, it’s all a horrible mess. I’ve gone and ruined everything!”

“What do you mean?” Sansa asked, confused.

“I think I am with the wrong twin…” Margaery said miserably.

“What?!” Sansa was horrified. “Margaery! Don’t tell me…”

She groaned and put her head in her hands. “I know! Gods, Sansa, I know. I screwed up. I loved George, I did. But after spending so much time with Fred as well this summer, I think maybe I might…”

“Marge, you can’t. This will destroy them.” The twins were close, more than brothers. They were rarely without one another, and Sansa wasn’t sure she had ever seen the pair of them fight. To have a girl come between them… Even the strongest of relationships had a hard time overcoming such things.

“I know. And the thing is, I don’t think my feelings are one sided, Sans. I really don’t.” Margaery looked at Sansa, her face distraught.

“Did something happen?” Sansa asked.

Margaery shook her head. “No. No, I can just tell from the way Fred looks at me. I can see it. But neither of us want to hurt George.” She looked desperately at Sansa. “I can’t come between them, I just can’t. I am going to have to just break up with George. And that’s it. I won’t hurt him by going after his brother.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“How long have I known? A little over a month.” Margaery bit her lip, looking as if she was trying not to cry.

Sansa couldn’t bear to see her friend so upset, and she pulled Margaery into a hug. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I don’t know. Because I’m ashamed. Because there is nothing you can do to help. I did this to myself.” Margaery’s voice cracked as she clung to Sansa.

Sansa pulled away from her friend, making sure Margaery was looking at her as she said firmly, “Hey. Stop. You cannot help who you love. You have done nothing wrong. You haven’t acted on your feelings. Your thoughts have only been what is best for George, and nothing can be more commendable than that. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Margaery was visibly blinking back tears now. “Ok. Thanks, Sansa.” She smiled weakly.

“Of course. I am here for you. Always.” Sansa hugged her friend again, breaking away when she heard that the Beater tryouts were next. It seemed Arya would be first, as she took to the air with a few of the already established members of the team.

Margaery quickly composed herself, wanting to show support for her friend, shouting “Go Arya!” through cupped hands.

They watched as Arya wielded her Beater’s bat to target bludgers against players, making it more difficult for the Chasers to score. Sansa didn’t know much when it came to Quidditch, only attending the games Arya dragged her to, but she thought Arya was doing quite well. When Arya flew back down to the ground, a few students clapped her on the back, including Gendry Waters, who was there in hopes of becoming a Chaser. Sansa and Margaery cheered once again, and Arya looked back at them and waved, flashing them a wide smile.

A few more students took to the skies in turn, trying their hand at whacking bludgers after the other players. Sansa and Margaery waited anxiously for the Beater tryouts to end, hoping their friend would make the team. To their joy, they saw Arya whoop in excitement and shoot off a Filibuster Firework in celebration, her hair flashing different colors like a disco ball.

The tryouts came to a close soon after, and Sansa and Margaery climbed down the stands to join Arya where she stood chatting excitedly with her new teammates. Gendry had also made the team, along with Harry Potter’s best friend, Ron Weasley, and Ron’s younger sister Ginny, both siblings of Fred and George. When Arya saw her friends she let off another firework with a prod from her wand, this one a Weasley twin invention from last year, which wrote swear words in mid air as it sparkled.

“Congrats!” Sansa exclaimed, pulling Arya in for a hug.

Arya squirmed away, laughing, too excited to stay put for long. “Thanks! We are all going back to the common room to celebrate!” Her smile faded. “I wish you two could come…”

“Nah, you don’t want a Hufflepuff and a Slytherin spoiling your good time.” Sansa said cheerfully.

“You have fun! I am so happy for you!” Margaery smiled at her friend, though her eyes still looked pained from her romantic troubles.

“Thanks! Gods, this is going to be so great! I actually get to play Quidditch this year!” Arya’s face glowed. “We might even win the cup!”

Sansa smiled. “I bet you will. Looks like a great team this year.”

Arya laughed. “You don’t know anything about Quidditch.”

“No, but Harry Potter was apparently the youngest Seeker in a century. And he has never lost a match. I would say that he knows enough about Quidditch to put together a great team.”

Arya raised her eyebrows. “How do you know all that about Harry?”

“From you. You’ve only told me all about him a million times. I do listen to you sometimes you know.” Sansa replied.

“Only sometimes, huh.”

“Well, sometimes I just have to tune you out.” Sansa teased. “Too much Quidditch talk melts my brain. But, I guess we will let you go celebrate!”

“Ok, thanks for coming to cheer me on! You two better come to my games.” Arya said, mock glaring at them.

“Of course.” Margaery said genuinely, before they bid Arya goodbye and made their way back up the sloping grounds to the school.

After lunch in the Great Hall, during which Professor Baelish was once again disappointingly absent, Sansa and Margaery found themselves in the library. Margaery was still feeling a bit down over her romantic troubles, and begged Sansa to stay with her for a little while, unwilling to pretend she was fine around her Hufflepuff friends. While Margaery worked on her homework, Sansa wandered through the bookshelves for a time before picking out a book on potions that she hadn’t yet perused.

She was quite absorbed in her readings on the benefits of harvesting ingredients during various phases of the moon, when Margaery threw down her quill in frustration.

“I can’t focus,” Margaery groaned.

Sansa gave her friend a sympathetic smile. “I wish I could do something to help you.”

“I know.” Margaery paused, thinking for a moment. “Can I have a Cheering Charm? I could really use a pick me up.”

Sansa well knew that Cheering Charms were best used sparingly, as they were more of a band-aid than a cure, and could cause more harm than good when overused. But she also knew Margaery rarely had need of such things. She was always such a cheerful person, easily seeing the good in everyone she met. “Ok,” she agreed.

After Sansa had charmed her friend, Margaery was soon acting much more like herself. A few of her Hufflepuff friends passed by their table soon after, and drew Margaery into a conversation about S.P.E.W., a club promoting better treatment for House Elves, started by Hermione Granger. Though Spew, as it was often jokingly called, had gotten off to a rather poor start initially, many Hufflepuffs had taken an interest in the club at the end of last year, and there was a meeting planned for that night after dinner.

Sansa was all for Elf Rights, but she wasn’t much of an activist, and grew bored of the conversation quickly. Confident that Margaery was in good hands with her fellow Hufflepuffs, Sansa took her leave, heading back underground where her common room was located. When she reached the blank expanse of stone concealing the entrance, though, she decided she didn’t want to go in just yet, and instead began wandering the dungeons underneath the school.

Her feet seemed to automatically take her to her Potions classroom, and as she passed the door, she heard the familiar bubble of potions brewing. Sansa paused, uncertain. Today was Saturday. There were no lessons. So, the only person who might be in there brewing a potion would be Professor Baelish himself. She badly wanted to knock on the door, to see if he might answer, or to simply enter, without announcing herself. The door was ajar very slightly, a sliver of light visible.

She simply couldn’t help herself. Sansa raised a hand, knocking lightly on the wooden door. Before she could think of a reason for her presence, she heard his husky voice call for her to come in. There was no turning back now. She pushed the door open and walked into the classroom.

Chapter Text

The classroom was empty, save for Professor Baelish, who sat at his desk, quill in hand, parchment and ink before him. A large cauldron stood nearby, its contents perfuming the air with a scent reminiscent of a crackling fire, smoke gently rising in curls of wispy grey. He did not glance up from his work.

“Yes?”

Sansa found she couldn’t bring herself to speak. Why had she knocked? Why had she come in? What was she thinking?

Hearing only silence to his question, Professor Baelish finally looked up, his eyes meeting her own, their gaze fixing her in place, as if she had been petrified. “Did you need something, Miss Stark?”

Her heart sank. He had used her last name. She had no idea what to say in response. This had been a very stupid idea. Sansa could only think to shake her head, drawing forward as the potion brewing caught her interest. Finally finding the words to speak, she asked, “What potion is this?”

He stood, his eyes appraising her as he walked over to the cauldron by her side. “You do not recognize it?”

Sansa shook her head. “I do not. It seems my knowledge in potions has its gaps, after all.”

This earned her the smirk she was beginning to love. “Perhaps.” Professor Baelish paused. “But I wouldn’t expect you to know this particular potion.”

“Why not?” Sansa’s brow crinkled in confusion.

“Because this is a potion of my own invention.”

Sansa’s eyes lit up in excitement. “Truly?”

He nodded. “I am still fine tuning it, but I think it is nearly there.” He moved closer to the cauldron, using a ladle to gently stir the bubbling liquid, brow furrowed in thought.

The potion was scarlet, with undertones of yellow and orange, and as Professor Baelish directed his wand at the flames heating its base, and the fire extinguished, Sansa could see the liquid slowly change into something like liquid fire. It was curious how the contents looked both like the flickering flames of a fire and like the liquid it supposedly was.

“What is it?” Sansa asked in awe, moving closer to better see the unusual effect.

“An experiment. I had been curious as to whether one could create fire using potion ingredients. There are so many instances where one can choose either a potion or a spell to create certain effects. But as of yet, no one has ever thought whether fire could be created other than by a spell or the muggle way. It is, of course, not a very practical method of creating fire, but worth trying, I think.”

“I think perhaps you have succeeded in your endeavors.” Sansa replied, holding her hands over the cauldron. She could feel the warmth radiating off of the liquid flames.

“Perhaps,” he acquiesced.

“What ingredients did you use?” Sansa asked, unable to contain her curiosity.

Professor Baelish smirked. “I’m afraid that will have to remain a mystery for the time being, sweetling.”

Sansa’s breath caught, and she looked up from the potion, her attention now fully on him. She suddenly noticed how close they were, as her eyes locked with his. Her mind immediately flashed to yesterday’s encounter, to the feel of his lips against her own. Oh, how she wanted him to kiss her again.

As she stared into his eyes, she unconsciously licked her lips, and his eyes briefly darted from her own to watch. Each of them shifted just slightly from where they stood, drawing closer, ever closer. Sansa swallowed, and spoke, suddenly feeling brave despite the pounding of her heart.

“But, isn’t it the duty of a teacher to answer the student’s questions, Professor?”

His eyes darkened as he drew even closer, their faces now close enough that the smallest movement would cause their lips to finally meet again. “Not, necessarily, Sansa. And please, call me Petyr.”

Sansa barely had time to register his words when his lips blissfully found her own again, and she twined herself into his arms, sighing against his mouth. The kiss was far gentler this time, less urgent, but no less intoxicating. Her body pressed flush against his own as their lips moved leisurely against each other, each of them content to take their time for the moment.

Petyr’s hands roamed to her back, sending tingles spreading through her from every place they touched. Her own hands fisted in his hair as the kiss grew steadily more urgent. His tongue breached the part of her lips, and soon battled her own. Sansa suddenly felt her back hit solid wall, and her eyes flicked open briefly in surprise. She had not noticed they had been slowly moving backwards through the room. They were leaning against the door to his office.

She heard him fumble blindly with the doorknob, and felt herself begin to fall backwards as the door swung open. Petyr’s strong arms caught her, pulling her back against him, and she curled into him in response, her kisses growing fervent. She heard the door slam closed, and the click of the lock, as they stumbled blindly into the room, too intent on their kiss to pay proper attention to where they were heading.

Petyr must have had a fairly good idea of the layout of his office, though, as they avoided all obstacles until Sansa felt the soft give of a cushion hit the back of her knees. She felt him urge her backwards, and she sank down onto the couch, pulling him down with her. Sansa was now laying on her back lengthwise on the couch, Petyr’s body covering her own. He was still close, but taking care not to crush her with his weight. She hooked her right leg around his waist, pulling him closer, and he willingly assented, his kiss deepening in response.

Sansa was utterly lost in him, lost in the feeling of his body against her own, the press of his lips, the taste of mint on his tongue. She could feel him there, hard against her hip, evidence that he was as lost as she was. Her hands slid around his back, trailing along his spine, and she could not help but shift her position so that that hardness was pressed against the part of her that was begging to be touched. She gasped at the contact, and heard a growl reverberate deep in Petyr’s throat, which only spurred her desire further.

To her disappointment and frustration, he broke the kiss, his once grey-green eyes now swallowed in black, staring into her blue ones. Their breaths were ragged, the air they took in and let out mingling. Petyr shifted his weight, freeing a hand to cup her face. Sansa couldn’t help but lean into his touch, her eyes fluttering closed.

“What have you done to me, sweetling?” His voice was far huskier than normal.

Sansa opened her eyes, gazing up at him through her lashes. “What have you done to me. Petyr?” Her voice was little more than a whisper.

His eyes darkened as his name passed her lips, and he leaned down again to kiss her, his lips trailing the line of her jaw and down her neck, stopping to suck the pulse point there. Sansa groaned and ran her hands down to his hips, pulling him closer, grinding against him as her desire spiked. Petyr abandoned her neck and pulled away slightly, kissing down her collarbone to the tops of her breasts, stopping at the neckline of her t-shirt. His silver ringed fingers moved to her right breast, and Sansa squirmed in pleasure as he found her hardened nipple through the layers of fabric.

His hand gently massaged her breast, teasing her, before leaving to trail down her side. Sansa whimpered at the loss of contact, but he gifted her with a smirk before fingering the hem of her shirt, a question in his gaze. She nodded her assent, and leaned forward and raised her arms up as he removed the unwanted barrier. Her bra was now the only thing left protecting her modesty, and Sansa hoped that it would soon follow her shirt to rest on the floor.

Petyr’s lips returned to her skin, kissing the soft flesh of her breast peeking out above her lacy black bra. His hand found its home once again, cupping her over her bra, and she couldn’t help but grab his hand and pull his fingers insistently to the edges of the fabric. He understood, peppering her skin with soft kisses as he released her right breast, his hand finally meeting bare skin.

Sansa couldn’t help the gasp that escaped at the sensation, and she writhed underneath him as his mouth moved to take her nipple. As he sucked at the tender flesh, she pulled at his hips, wrapping her legs around him. His free hand moved under her back, fingers moving deftly to release the catch of her bra, and soon she was completely bare from the waist up.

Craving for his lips again, Sansa tugged at his hair, pulling his face back up to her own. Her bare breasts brushed against his shirt, and she pawed at his clothes, anxious to feel his skin against her own. She leaned up, pushing him back so that she was sitting up, Petyr on his knees before her.

Sansa’s fingers clumsily unbuttoned his suit jacket, sliding it from his shoulders, loosening his tie, before she began to work on his shirt. Her lips left his as she slowly undid each button, kissing his chest at each newly revealed expanse of skin, passing his navel and kissing down the light trail of hair that disappeared under the waistband of his pants.

The last button done, Sansa kissed her way back up his chest, sliding her hands up to grab the edges of his shirt and pull it from his body. Her eyes flicked downward to finally see his bare chest, and widened as she saw the scar snaking across it, navel to collarbone. The wound he had nearly died from, all those years ago.

Sansa raised her fingers to the painful reminder of his past, feeling Petyr flinch as she touched him, as if he was still so affected by it, after all this time. She pressed her lips to the spot where she had touched, kissing down the scar, hoping to heal the wound that still festered in his soul, if not the flesh.

When she reached the end, she sat up to kiss his lips again, looking into his eyes. She thought that she had never seen him look so vulnerable, as though the mask had slipped for the moment, letting her in. Sansa took his hand, bringing his fingers to her forehead, where her lighting scar stood out, a jagged slash across her pale skin. Petyr’s eyes flashed in understanding. He knew what she was trying to say without words.

They were the same. Both marked with scars that had changed their lives forever, from wounds that should have killed them. But they had survived. And though they would never fully accept the tragedies that had befallen them, they were stronger due to their scars. Because just as scars formed on the skin were far tougher than the unblemished skin surrounding them, it was much the same with scars on the soul.

Petyr’s fingers trailed across her scar, fingers tracing the unusual lines forever etched on her skin, before they came down to cup her cheek. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her scar, much as she had done to his, as though he was trying to erase the hurt, just as she had for him. Sansa knew that if anything could take away that pain, or even just temper it, it would be his kiss. He could heal her as nothing else had, and perhaps she could heal him as well.

She pulled him back down to meet her lips, arms snaking around his shoulders to pull him close, finally reveling in the bliss of his bare chest against her own. The heat of his skin pressed flush against hers felt wonderful. Petyr leaned forward, gently urging her to rest her back against the couch cushions once more as they continued to devour one another, body and soul.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t until Sansa felt Petyr gently tugging at the waistband of her jeans that the enormity of the situation hit her. She knew that if they continued in their passions, she would soon be giving a part of herself to him that couldn’t be taken back. And while she knew without a doubt that she wanted him to be her first, she wasn’t sure if she was ready quite yet.

Her indecision was enough to give her pause, and she reluctantly pulled away, chest rising and falling rapidly from lack of air. Sansa studied his face, biting her lip as she desperately sought a compromise between her brain, her body, and her heart. In the end, it was two against one, her brain and her heart begging her to wait until she had gotten to know him better.

Petyr watched her, his breaths as ragged as her own. He seemed to know already the nature of the thoughts churning through her mind. Sansa struggled to find the words to tell him that she couldn’t, not yet, but was saved the trouble.

“Shh, sweetling. I know. You don’t have to do anything you are not ready for,” he soothed her.

Sansa looked into his eyes, startled to see kindness there. She did not doubt that he had the capacity for kindness, nor the sincerity of his words. But his usual mask of indifference had completely slipped for the first time, and she was surprised that, for once, his eyes matched the words falling from his lips.

Relief flooded through her, mixed with a pulse of desire as she faltered in her resolve to wait. Petyr had let his guard down further than ever before, and it made her want him all the more. Sansa had taken everything in about him that she could as she watched him from afar these past few days. She had been able to glean very little from her observations, other than the sense that he was a man who few truly knew. And now she was seeing beyond the veil as no one else had, and it had only been a few days since their first meeting. The joy she felt at this made her heart and mind tip further in the scales towards continuing where they had left off.

Sansa raised her lips in a tentative smile. “How is it that you always seem to know just what I am thinking?”

Petyr smirked, still propped on his elbows above her. “I happen to be a very perceptive man. Haven’t you noticed?”

Sansa felt her cheeks color. “I don’t know what you mean,” she said, stuttering slightly.

“You do,” he murmured, brushing a lock of hair from her face. “I’ve seen you watching me at mealtimes.”

Her flush deepened and he chuckled. “Don’t despair, sweetling. I have been watching you too.”

“You have? I haven’t seen you…” Sansa couldn’t help the smile that formed on her lips.

“No, you wouldn’t have. I am much better at keeping an eye on others without being noticed.”

“So you make a habit of spying on people then? Or just on me?” Sansa teased him.

“Not just you.” Petyr said, grinning back at her.

Sansa mock pouted and he laughed. “Rest assured, I have never enjoyed watching someone more.”

Petyr pulled her to him, shifting them both so that his back now rested along the seat of the couch, and she laid curled against him. Sansa rested her cheek against his chest, feeling the thrum of his heartbeat, her right arm and leg wrapped around him. His arm slipped around her shoulders and she felt him kiss the top of her head. Her chest was still bare, but she found she didn’t care. She felt oddly comfortable around him.

“Who do you usually spy on though. And why?” Sansa was far too curious not to ask.

“Everyone. Knowledge is power, Sansa.”

Sansa shifted so that she could better see his face. “But to what end do you use this information?”

Petyr regarded her seriously. “How much do you know of me, sweetling?”

“Very little,” Sansa admitted.

He smirked. “Not for a lack of trying, I imagine.”

She swatted his chest lightly. “I will have you know that I did nothing more than stare at you every chance I got. It is not as if I am some obsessed school girl pouring over every book in the library hoping to find out everything about you.”

“No?”

Sansa mock glared at him. “No.”

Petyr chuckled again, and she could feel the vibrations tickle her where she was pressed against him. “You know, at least, that I work at the Ministry, yes?”

Sansa nodded. Dumbledore had mentioned that when he had introduced Petyr as their new Potions Master.

“Well, I am quite prominent in the Ministry. I hold a position in the Minister of Magic’s council of advisors.”

“You work with Tywin Lannister?” Sansa was surprised. She had not known he was such a powerful man.

“Yes.” Petyr ran a hand up and down her arm absently,

“What do you do for the Minister?”

“Officially, I am Master of Coin. I work as a liaison between the Ministry and Gringotts, balancing the budget and working with the goblins to keep everything running smoothly.”

Sansa had to ask, “Does that mean you can speak Gobbledegook?” Gobbledegook was the language of the goblins. As goblins ran the wizarding bank for the wizards under the rule of the Ministry of Magic, it was likely necessary for Petyr to learn the language.

“Yes. Not as fluently as some, but luckily most goblins are bilingual.”

She smiled, picturing him speaking the strange, guttural language with a goblin, piles of Galleons, Sickles and Knuts littering the table where they were seated. “Ok, but you said ‘officially’ you are Master of Coin. That must mean there is more to your job than just managing finances.”

“You caught that, huh? I had a feeling you weren’t one to miss much.” Petyr smiled at her, and she could tell it was genuine from the look in his eyes. “Do you remember the start of our conversation?”

Sansa thought back. “I asked you who you were spying on, and why.”

He smirked, and the realization dawned on her. “You are spying for the Ministry? For the Minister?”

“To their knowledge, yes.”

She pondered his words. “So you have your own agenda, then.”

Petyr said nothing in response, but his silence told her the truth anyway. Sansa moved her face closer to his, looking down at him. “What do you want?”

“Everything.”

And with that, he pulled her down to capture her lips with his. They settled in to each other, kisses sweet and languid, without any sense of urgency. When they broke apart again, Sansa asked, “Am I part of everything?”

His smile was still unguarded. “You are now.”

Her heart swelled. “Then I want to know everything.” Sansa replied.

Petyr’s grey-green eyes met her own brilliant blues. “And you will.” He paused and sighed. “I had hoped to keep myself from this. A relationship such as this is not wise. But, truly, I cannot regret yielding to your pull.”

Sansa might have felt a bit offended had she not been struggling with the very same issue as well. She knew as well as he did that their actions were incredibly risky. But, she thought being with him worth the risk, and it seemed he agreed.

“Am I to understand that our times together will continue then?” Sansa asked, just to be sure.

“Undoubtedly so.”

They kissed again and Sansa returned her head to his chest. The gentle rise and fall combined with the warmth of his smooth skin slowly lulled her into a state of complete contentment. They laid there together in silence for a time, before her eyes were drawn to his scar, and she gently traced the toughened skin with the pads of her fingers.

“Petyr?”

“Hmm?” He sounded sleepy, as if he had been close to drifting off.

“Why weren’t they able to heal you enough so that you didn’t scar?” Sansa knew it was a sensitive subject, but she wanted to know everything about him.

Petyr sighed. “Even magic has its limits. The blade Brandon Stark used, Ice, was no ordinary sword.” He paused. “You must know of Ice. The blade passed to your father after Brandon was killed by Death Eaters, and I imagine it is in your Aunt Lyanna’s possession now.”

Sansa considered for a moment. Her thoughts went to her times at Winterfell with her aunt and Arya. She remembered seeing a great sword hung on the wall in the dining hall, behind the seat of honor at the dinner table. Lyanna had once spoken of the sword, mentioning that it was a Stark family heirloom, but nothing else beyond that.

“I know of the sword, but I don’t see why a wound from it might be difficult to heal.”

Petyr frowned. “I suppose your aunt thought it best not to tell you. Ice is a sword that has been passed down through many generations of Starks. It is famous for the curse that was imbibed into the valarian steel used to forge it. I am sure you know the words your house is famous for?”

She nodded. Many of the great wizarding families had mottos they swore by, along with their sigils. The Stark words were both simple and powerful: Winter is coming.

“The curse on the blade is tied to those words. It is an ancient and powerful curse, one that gave the blade its name, and inspired the phrase, ‘Winter is coming.’ All who have been pierced by the sword Ice are wounded gravely, even if the cut is merely a scratch. Ice steals into the veins whenever it has drawn blood, slowly freezing the victim one blood cell at a time, from the inside out. Those who have been unlucky enough to feel the sting of Ice, are often victim to a fate far worse than death. If the curse is left untreated, it will change the victim, freezing them, soul and body.

“The victim is forever suspended between life and death, and their mind deteriorates, until there is nothing left of the person they once were. All that remains is a shell of vengeance and easy suggestibility to the Dark Arts. And that, Sansa, is the origin behind the words your family is known for. Those wielding the sword used those words as a threat, telling their enemies that Winter was coming for them, threatening to turn their enemies into unrecognizable beings that came to be known as White Walkers.

“The earliest generations of your house took pride in turning their enemies to mindless warriors for their own armies of defense. With time, your ancestors began to do away with the practice, deeming it unsavory. By the time Brandon Stark used it against me, the sword had not been used in hundreds of years. I have never been certain whether he knew the damage the sword would inflict, nor how he had come to carry the sword in the first place. Ice is an immensely deadly weapon in the wrong hands, and it seems there was a remarkable lack of judgement in your family when they allowed Brandon Stark to take it.”

Sansa was shocked. She felt sick, hearing such things about her family. She had always been taught to be proud of her name, of her family, of her house. But the atrocities they had committed were unbearable to listen to.

“But, you survived. How?” Her voice was shaky.

“I was lucky. Madame Pomfrey has always been an exceptional Healer, and she was able to contain the curse before it spread too far. But those lucky enough to survive the curse are maimed forever. The damage was so great that I was forever changed by the experience, both of the mind and the body. Ice had already stolen enough into my veins to reach my brain and my heart. And the curse changed me, irreparably. I no longer was the same boy after that day, and it wasn’t only due to the harsh lesson life had dealt me.”

Sansa trembled. “But you’re safe now. Right? The curse won’t…” She trailed off, terrified.

Petyr pulled her closer, rubbing her back. “I am no longer in any danger. So long as I am not put at the mercy of Ice again, I have no chance of the curse spreading. They may not have been able to fully repair the damage, but they did manage to lift the curse to save me.”

Tears were springing to her eyes as she clutched him tighter. “I am so sorry,” she whispered.

He reached over and tilted her chin up so that she could see his face. “You are not responsible for your family’s actions. Don’t fret on it, sweetling. What’s done is done. You have had enough sorrow in your life that you don’t need to feel guilt over a past you had nothing to do with.”

Sansa smiled in spite of herself. “There you go again, reading my mind.”

His eyes flickered, almost imperceptibly so, but she noticed it. And suddenly today had yet another revelation. Her previous emotions vanished, and she sat up and narrowed her eyes at him. “Petyr.”

Petyr raised himself up and smirked. “Yes?”

“You’re a Legilimens.” Sansa was sure of it. How had she not realized it before now?

Once again, he said nothing, and once again his silence spoke the truth in volumes. Sansa glared at him, partly in jest. She chose not to speak, simply letting her thoughts speak for her.

He chuckled. “Oh, sweetling, I am sorry. I could not help it. Your mind is of a depth I could never resist falling into.”

Sansa continued her mental assault a bit longer, venting her embarrassment. How much had he heard of her thoughts over these past few days? Was nothing safe from him? But her rancor didn’t last long, as flattery settled in. He enjoyed listening to her thoughts! Am I truly that fascinating?

“Yes,” Petyr answered.

Are you always going to be in my head? She thought at him, somewhat enjoying communicating without words, despite the lack of privacy.

“Yes,” he said again.

Sansa glared at him but he only laughed.

“Sweetling, I can read all of your thoughts. I know you don’t truly mind.”

“How is that fair though? You have access to everything about me. And I only have what little you have told me.” Sansa protested.

“Well, Legilimency is a skill one can always learn.”

Sansa brightened at that. “Could you teach me?”

“So you can read my mind?” Petyr teased.

“Among other things,” she said coyly.

He nodded. “I could.” He paused, then smirked at her. “Even if you become an exceptional Legilimens, I can always use Occlumency.”

She scowled at him and he relented. “Alright, I give.”

Satisfied, Sansa let her mind wander back to kissing and he took the hint, his lips soft against hers, the taste of mint still tangible on his tongue.

Chapter Text

To Sansa’s disappointment, the kiss did not last long, as he broke apart, resting his forehead against her own.

“Are you certain you want this, Sansa?” Petyr’s eyes were no longer swallowed in darkness, but clear, despite their smoky green hue. “You cannot be more than sixteen. I am nearly twice your age. And your teacher.”

Sansa nuzzled her nose against his. “I will be of age at the end of November. And, you said you were three years younger than my mother. That would make you about thirty-two?”

“Almost,” he agreed.

She kissed him again. “Yes, I want this. I know the risks. I don’t care. So long as you want me, I am yours.”

His mouth quirked and Sansa couldn’t help but kiss the smirk from his lips. Petyr chuckled. “And what if I never stop wanting you?”

Sansa smiled. “Then we shall never part.”

“Metaphorically speaking, of course,” he mused, a playful grin shaping his lips. “As your teacher I cannot spend every waking moment with you.”

She groaned. “Well it was a rather romantic moment until you ruined it.”

“Just like in those tales of happily ever after?”

“Maybe.” Sansa could not believe how comfortable she already was around Petyr. Here they were, only a few days after first laying eyes on one another, and their banter came so easily.

“And that is exactly why I chose to ruin it. As much as it would be nice if life were a fairy tale, the world has other plans. Life by my side won’t be easy, sweetling. The game I play is highly dangerous.” Petyr’s tone was serious, meant to impress upon her the importance of his words.

Sansa raised her hand to run her fingers through his hair, admiring how adorable he looked with it so rumpled. She smirked at him. “Does that mean you will spoil every romantic moment, or was it merely done to make a point?”

He only looked at her.

She sighed. “It would be easier to take your words seriously if I knew more of your life. I cannot hope to make an informed decision with so little information.”

Petyr nodded. “You have a point. I will seek to remedy that in time. And should you ever feel that you cannot handle anything, you only need let me know. I will not keep you.”

“And if I chose to stay?”

“Then we will have everything. With our wits, and your beauty, the world will be ours.” Petyr’s eyes locked onto her own, and Sansa could see he truly meant it.

Her lips formed the words, “Teach me,” before they once again collided with his. It seemed that theirs was to be a relationship of words and passion intermingling. They clung to one another as they kissed, only breaking apart when Sansa’s stomach rumbled loudly.

She flushed. “I guess I am hungry.”

Petyr smirked at her and checked his watch. “Dinner has long since passed, I’m afraid.”

“No wonder,” Sansa frowned. “I did not realize so much time had passed.”

He shifted away from her, moving his feet to the floor, and stood, stretching lightly. “You shouldn’t stay much longer.”

Sansa stood as well, falling into his embrace, burying her head in his chest. “Why not?”

“You really must ask a question I know you already know the answer to?”

“Yes,” she mumbled into his chest. She didn’t want to leave him.

Petyr kissed the top of her head. “You must be back in your common room before curfew. But you may stay until then.”

Sansa raised her head and kissed him, smiling against his mouth.

His lips mirrored her own, smiling with the soft press before he pulled away. “Would you like some dinner?”

She nodded. “We could summon something from the kitchens.”

He raised his eyebrows at her. “Is this something you do frequently?”

Sansa shrugged, arms still looped around his shoulders. “Maybe.”

“I have to imagine that’s against school rules,” Petyr teased.

She raised a hand to caress the line of his jaw, the stubble rough against her fingertips. “So is making out with a teacher.” Sansa pointed out.

“Touche,” he laughed, pulling away from her. He picked his shirt up off of the floor and pulled it on, walking towards a door situated behind his desk. “Come,” he beckoned.

Sansa stared at him, biting her lip at how sexy he looked standing there, shirt open and collar popped. She picked up her own shirt and put it on, foregoing her bra, and followed him through the door into what must have been his private quarters at Hogwarts. Candles flickered to life as they entered, bathing the room in a gentle glow.

The room was decorated much like his office, everything inside tasteful, elegant, and very expensive. A large bed dominated one corner, looking exquisitely inviting with its dark hangings, crisp white sheets, and luxurious looking comforter. She could see a door that likely led to his private washroom and several fully stocked bookshelves. There was another fireplace situated along one wall, a couch and two chairs arranged in front of it, much like the setup in his office.

A small kitchen was tucked at the opposite end of the room, complete with a stove and icebox. The wizarding world was far behind the Muggle world when it came to amenities. While nearly all Muggle homes were fully equipped with electricity for their lighting, cooking, and entertainment needs, Muggle technology and magic weren’t exceptionally compatible. As such, places with higher quantities of magic, such as schools, were always badly lacking in modern amenities. The most recent advancement found in Hogwarts was its plumbing system, something Sansa was very grateful to have.

Many wizarding homes were in a similar state, though not all. A few, like her Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Rhaegar, had adapted to the modern world, wiring their homes with electricity, despite the fact that any excess of magic would cause the power to go out. Lyanna had always been interested in such things, and Rhaegar was similarly fascinated, perhaps even more so. They were always adopting the latest in Muggle technology, just to try it out. Neither were very proficient in handling their new finds, but they enjoyed it all the same. They found it funny when their new game systems and smartphones malfunctioned whenever they used magic near them. Sansa very much enjoyed trying out the bizarre devices they had on hand whenever she visited Winterfell for winter break.

Petyr led her into the kitchen, gesturing for her to sit at the small table while he checked the icebox. He frowned and glanced back at her. “It seems I am not yet well stocked. Perhaps you had the right idea in summoning something from the kitchens.” He paused, thinking. “Or, better yet… I could summon a house elf and ask them to prepare something.”

“Or just ask them for leftovers from dinner.” Sansa agreed. “But I will have to hide. I doubt the house elves would say anything, but...”

“Better not to test it. You can step into the washroom over there while I take care of it. Is there anything in particular you would like?” He looked at her expectantly.

Sansa shook her head. “No. Whatever they have is fine.” She smiled at him and couldn’t resist giving him a peck on the lips before she walked to the bathroom and stepped inside, closing the door behind her.

The bathroom was very spacious, all gleaming tile and chrome, with both a shower and a large, sunken tub, complete with more taps than was strictly necessary. Sansa vaguely wondered what they all might be for, and whether she might have the chance to try them sometime.

She took the opportunity to quickly use the facilities, suddenly realizing she hadn’t visited the restroom in quite some time. After she washed her hands, she looked up at her reflection in the mirror, hoping she didn’t look too terrible. Her eye makeup was miraculously untouched, but she groaned inwardly at the state of her hair. Sansa had put her hair up in a messy bun this morning, but it had apparently come loose during their long makeout session. She fussed with her hair, using her fingers to tame her fiery curls back into place, though she left it down. Petyr seemed to like her hair loose about her shoulders.

Finally satisfied with her hair, she stared at herself, noticing her swollen lips and the slightly reddened skin surrounding her mouth. Sansa brought her hand up to touch it, and winced slightly when she made contact with the tender skin. She supposed it must be from his facial hair brushing against her as they kissed. Margaery had once told her of the so called ‘beard burn.’ Perhaps Petyr had something to soothe the inflamed skin. It would not do for anyone to see her in such a state.

It suddenly struck her that they were about to have dinner with each other. Did this count as a date, then? The idea made Sansa feel somewhat giddy. Even after spending hours in his arms, kissing him, talking with him, feeling the press of his body against hers, she still was a bit awestruck at the turn of events. And despite everything she had already shared with him, she suddenly felt a bit nervous at the prospect of sharing a meal with him.

She was so intent on her own reflection that she didn’t notice the door open, or realize that she was being watched, until he spoke.

“I might have something for that.”

Sansa glanced away from the mirror, her hand falling to her side as she saw him standing there, leaning casually against the doorframe. Suddenly feeling a bit shy, she hugged herself, all too aware that she was not currently wearing a bra.

Petyr smiled and raised a hand to gently touch her face where the skin had reddened around her mouth. “In time this shouldn’t happen. But I could always shave if you would prefer it.”

Sansa shook her head vehemently, and leaned into his touch, despite her sensitive skin. “No. I like it.” She flushed. “Your facial hair, I mean.”

His mouth twitched, eyes showing amusement. “Then I suppose your skin will have to grow accustomed to it.” Petyr’s hand left her face, running down her arm to take her own. “Come, while the food is still hot.”

Chapter Text

Sansa followed him back to the kitchen, marveling at how she had somehow broken through his carefully constructed walls. She wasn’t sure how or why it had happened, but she was truly grateful that he had decided to let her in so quickly. She had a feeling that he wasn’t someone who truly revealed himself to anyone. And yet, here they were. Perhaps he was as irresistibly drawn to her as she was to him.

She took the chair he offered, smiling as he sat opposite her. The small table was laden with food, beef stew with homemade biscuits and cornbread, fresh butter, frosted mugs of Butterbeer, rhubarb crumble, and lemon cakes. Sansa was overjoyed to see her favorite dessert, not only because it was her favorite, but because its presence meant he had asked for them specifically, just for her.

Petyr ladled out stew for both of them, and they began to eat, hunger overtaking their need for conversation. After a few bites, when the ache in her stomach had somewhat subsided, Sansa spoke.

“Do you like lemon cakes?” She wanted to confirm that he had remembered.

“Not as much as you, but yes,” he replied, taking a sip of Butterbeer.

Once again, a smile tugged at her lips. It seemed as if she couldn’t stop smiling today. He had remembered.

“I think maybe a bit of essence of murtlap might soothe your skin. I should have some in my private stores.” Petyr said, taking a biscuit and buttering it.

“Will it make the redness less noticeable?” Sansa asked, a bit worried about her friends and fellow Slytherins noticing.

“It should reduce the inflammation, yes. If you apply it after we finish eating, your skin should return to normal before you head back to your common room.”

“Ok.” Sansa finished her stew and reached for a piece of cornbread.

They ate in silence for a time, each sampling the rhubarb crumble and lemon cakes. Sansa was unable to stop herself from indulging in more than one lemon cake, despite not wanting to overeat in front of Petyr. When they had finished, Sansa ducked back into the bathroom while he summoned a house elf to take the leftovers back to the kitchens. She quickly made sure there weren’t any crumbs on her face or clothes, and checked her teeth. Spying a tube of toothpaste on the counter by the sink, she squeezed a bit onto her finger and hastily brushed her teeth, using her index finger as an improvised toothbrush. When she had finished, she heard him call out:

“You can come back out, sweetling.”

Sansa left the bathroom to find the room empty. Glancing around for Petyr, she noticed the lemon cakes were still on the table, now packaged in a small glass container. Had she not just brushed her teeth, she might not have been able to resist the temptation to sneak another one. Unsure what to do in his absence, she sat back down at the table, twirling a lock of hair around her finger as she wondered where he had gone off to.

She didn’t have long to wait, as he soon re-entered the room through the door that connected to his office. Petyr had a small vial in his hand as he walked back to her side, and as he neared, she stood to meet him.

“We are in luck,” he said, holding the vial up to show her. “This is the last of it. I shall make sure to procure some more as soon as possible. You shouldn’t need to use it for long, but it is always best to keep some on hand.”

Petyr took her hand and led her over to the couch by the fire, gesturing for her to sit. He settled in next to her, and uncorked the vial, pouring a bit of essence of murtlap onto a handkerchief before dabbing it gently onto her reddened skin. The effect was instantly cooling, and Sansa closed her eyes as he tended to her. When he finished, he recorked the bottle and set it on a side table with the sodden handkerchief.

“Better?” he asked.

Sansa nodded. “Thank you.”

Petyr studied her face. “It is hardly noticeable now.”

“But for how long?” Sansa asked, leaning into him, her mind already wandering to certain activities.

He smirked at her. “It should protect your skin should there be any repeats of earlier actions. At least for tonight.”

“That’s good,” Sansa mused, her eyes on his lips.

Petyr leaned back against the back of the couch, and she shifted back as well, her body angled toward his, face inches from his own. He reached up to cup her cheek, before gently pulling her to him, their lips meeting in a fleeting kiss.

He chuckled. “You taste of lemon and mint, sweetling.”

She blushed. “I stole some of your toothpaste.”

“Tsk, tsk. You shouldn’t take things that aren’t yours.” Petyr chided.

“I’m not sure I can give it back,” she breathed, watching as his eyes darkened with lust.

“Its no matter. I am sure you can make it up to me in other ways,” he mused, drawing her close once again, his kiss far more urgent than before.

Sansa sighed into him, clutching at his shirt as the kiss grew more fervid. She pressed herself up against him, shifting onto her knees as she tried to get more comfortable. Petyr’s hands went to her waist, gently tugging her closer, until she suddenly found herself straddling his lap. Her surprise was eclipsed by the delicious sensation of his hardness pressed up against her apex, and she instinctively swiveled her hips and ground against him.

Petyr groaned into her mouth, and the sound sent a jolt through her, the rush causing a wetness to pool between her thighs. Sansa inwardly cursed her decision to wear jeans today, as the barrier was far more cumbersome than it would have been had she worn a skirt, or anything other than jeans, really. Her hands went to his shoulders, as his stayed on her hips, helping her keep her balance as she moved against him, tentatively at first, but steadily gaining in confidence.

Their kiss never broke, and the throbbing inside of her grew ever more insistent. Sansa continued to move until she hit that blinding high, her bliss overtaking everything else. She clung to him, shaking, breaths harsh, as she came down, her eyes locked with his. He gently rubbed her back as her heartbeat returned to normal, and her breaths evened out, eyes never leaving hers. Though she had brought herself to such highs before, it had never before hit her so powerfully. Sansa wondered if maybe it might be even better still should they go even farther.

She could still feel him hard against her sex, Petyr had not come as she had. The thought brought the thrum deep inside her back again, but her body still felt too exhausted to move. Sansa settled against him, forehead pressed against his, her eyes fluttering closed. He kissed her lips softly, rubbing her back. Finally she mustered up the energy to speak.

“You didn’t come.”

“No,” he agreed.

“Don’t you want to?”

Petyr pulled his face away from her own. “Yes.”

Sansa fought for the courage to ask it. “Do you want my help?”

He raised his arm to glance at his watch, and kissed her again. “I would, but you really must get going, sweetling. Curfew goes into effect in a few minutes.”

The disappointment must have shown on her face, because he chuckled. “Don’t fret. We will see each other again soon.”

Sansa brightened. “Tomorrow?”

Petyr frowned. “If only I could. Unfortunately I have duties outside of Hogwarts to attend to tomorrow.”

Her face fell. “All day?”

He nodded. “Until late tomorrow evening.” Petyr paused. “I am unsure when I will return exactly, or I would suggest that you meet me at my office. But perhaps you might stay after class on Monday. We could arrange an excuse for you to stay. Advanced potions lessons, maybe.”

Sansa grinned at the prospect. “It would be an apt excuse. I am meant to go into a career in Potions. I had thought on taking Alchemy, but there weren’t enough students interested to justify a class.”

Petyr considered it for a moment. “An excellent idea, sweetling. The perfect excuse for frequent meetings.” He paused. “Were any other students interested in Alchemy, besides you?”

Sansa thought back on it, then shook her head. “No, I think I was the only one, now that I think about it.”

He nodded. “I think maybe, even if there are, we could get around that by stressing that the classes aren’t intended for taking the N.E.W.T.s, but rather a way to broaden your Potions abilities. No other students would want to take Alchemy simply for the theory.”

“Hermione Granger might,” Sansa said, wrinkling her nose in worry.

Petyr smiled at her. “I will think on it. Don’t worry.” He gave her another kiss, then gently pushed her from his lap, and they stood, Sansa rising rather reluctantly.

He retrieved her bra from where it lay discarded on the floor, and Sansa quickly put it back on, before smoothing her t-shirt back into place. She could still see some evidence of his erection, and couldn’t stop herself from asking if he was sure he didn’t want help.

“I will take care of it,” he assured her, taking her through his office to the door of the Potions classroom that led out into the corridor.

Petyr pulled Sansa against him for one last lingering kiss, leaving her breathless as he cracked open the door to check for passerby. Satisfied it was safe, he bid her goodnight and ushered her out the door.

“I will see you Monday.”

“Goodnight,” Sansa said wistfully, as he gave her one last smirk, and closed the door, separating the two of them for the night.

She didn’t want to go back to her common room, but she knew it would be foolish for her to stay, and so she trailed her steps to the hidden entrance, giving the necessary password to gain admittance. The common room was still packed with students enjoying their Saturday night, girls and boys chattering in small groups, discussing their classes or their fellow classmates. Sansa avoided them all to return to her dormitory, never one to mingle much with the other Slytherins.

Once she was safely inside her dormitory, which was thankfully still empty, she went to the bathroom to clean up for bed. She checked her face in the mirror and was grateful to see the essence of murtlap had kept his facial hair from further irritating her skin. Her hair was still quite tousled from their exploits, however, and she spent a fair amount of time detangling it before she braided it for bed.

When Sansa finally left the bathroom, she was pleasantly surprised to see Lady waiting for her, lolling on her bed covers. She grabbed a book on Alchemy she had picked up over the summer, and crawled into bed beside her direwolf. Lady gave her cheek a friendly lick and snuggled into her side as she began to read.

Unfortunately, Sansa found her mind was far too full with the day’s events to concentrate on what she was reading. After rereading the same paragraph several times, she finally gave up and set her book on the bedside table, pulling her bed hangings shut. Her mind wandered to her time with Petyr, and she blushed in the dark as she remembered everything they had done.

She still couldn’t believe that they had kissed, let alone that things had escalated much further than kisses. It really seemed as though she and Petyr were about to begin a forbidden affair, throwing all caution to the winds as they gave in to their attraction for one another. The prospect was both exciting and terrifying, but Sansa knew that she had never wanted anything more in her life, and she sensed he felt the same way.

Her time at Hogwarts was about to change drastically, and it was likely that Petyr was about to bring her down a very dark path. Not only because were they about to become involved in an incredibly scandalous and complicated relationship, but because she had only just begun to realize the hidden depths that lay behind those grey-green eyes. He was a dangerous man. Sansa still didn’t know much about him, but what she had learned so far had already impressed that upon her.

Despite that, she knew he wouldn’t ever harm her. And she trusted him. Perhaps it was foolish for her to do so, but she trusted him all the same. Sansa only hoped that he felt the same way. She was somewhat worried that he was only drawn to her due to the memory of her mother. It might have only been her insecurities getting the better of her, but she still resolved to ask him sometime soon. Just in case.

As the night wore on, and her fellow roommates trickled in to crawl into their own beds and get some rest, Sansa let her mind travel where it wished, enjoying the graphic fantasies it concocted as she slowly drifted off to sleep. Her dreams took on the same color as her waking thoughts, and in them she gave herself fully to Petyr, over and over, crying out in ecstasy as he took her.

Chapter Text

Sunday, September 6th

 

Petyr:

Petyr rose early Sunday morning, having slept far better last night than he had since coming to Hogwarts. After Sansa had left for the night, he had stepped into the shower to relieve the tension still coiled within him from her attentions. He had wanted to say yes when she offered to help, but his rational mind overcame his need, and he found himself urging her to leave and make curfew instead. Standing under the spray, hand braced against the wall, he quickly brought himself to the peak he had earlier denied himself, before showering as usual, and spending the next few hours grading papers.

He was grateful that he slept well, as the day promised to be tediously long, and devoid of enjoyment. After eating a quick breakfast provided by the house elves, Petyr carefully packed his briefcase and stepped over to his fireplace, taking a pinch of Floo Powder from a dish on the mantle. He highly disliked traveling by Floo Powder (of all of the methods of wizarding travel, it was probably his least favorite. Hell, he would rather fly one of the old school brooms, a thestral or hippogriff, even drive a car or walk. If it weren’t for time constraints, he certainly would have chosen any of those above Floo Powder) but, as it was impossible to apparate out of Hogwarts, he had little choice in the matter. He could, of course, choose to walk down to Hogsmeade and apparate from there, but it would waste valuable time, time better spent doing far more desirable things, and so he decided just to grin and bear it.

Petyr sprinkled the powder in the flames, and stepped into the fire, speaking as clearly as he could without swallowing hot ash, “Ministry of Magic. London,”

The trip was as undignified as ever, and he spun in the flames until he found the right grate and stepped out into the atrium, joining the other Ministry employees as they hurried to their offices. Petyr made his way to his office on Level One, which housed the Minister for Magic and his council of advisers, and stepped inside to his attached washroom to clean the soot from his clothes. One of the more inconvenient aspects of traveling by Floo Powder was the unavoidable mess. It was rare to step out of a fireplace and not show some sign of having done so.

Once satisfied with his appearance again, he addressed some of the memos darting around his office. The Ministry had previously used owls to send interdepartmental memos, but found it nearly impossible to keep the place free from owl droppings. Instead, they had decided to take inspiration from Muggles, recording their memos on parchment and enchanting them into paper airplanes that fly on their own to their recipients. Petyr caught the pale violet airplanes and opened them, quickly reading their contents.

The Minister for Magic wanted to see him as soon as possible, no surprises there. A council meeting at eleven. And Varys had sent a few cryptic sentences that he suspected were little more than gibberish. Varys enjoyed messing with him from time to time, taking pleasure from their rivalry. Petyr crumpled the memos and tossed them in the bin, before heading to Tywin’s office, already wishing he was back at Hogwarts. His time at his old school had proved to be a breath of fresh air from the often stifling pureblood mentality he encountered at the Ministry.

Oh, wizards claimed they had grown past such things, that half-bloods and muggleborns were on equal standing with those born purebloods, but one didn’t have to look too far before encountering inconsistencies with this stance. The oldest and proudest wizarding families were nearly always situated in places of honor, despite having done little to deserve it. To succeed in the wizarding world, one only needed the right name, the right blood status, to open every door without even needing to turn the handle.

The Lannisters were proof of that, as were the Malfoys, the Baratheons, the Targaryens, even the Starks. Tywin Lannister certainly had talent, but Petyr knew part of his charm was that old family name he was so proud of. And his children had all risen high, helped by their birth, their father, and intermarriage with other old wizarding families. Jaime Lannister worked as an Auror in the Department of Magical Defense, and had held the position of Head Auror until he lost his hand and decided to step down from his post. These days, Jaime seemed an entirely different man, less arrogant, and less infatuated with his twin sister, Cersei, with whom he had been in an incestuous relationship for years.

Petyr knew the story behind his loss, though he was one of the few that did. After Cersei’s husband, the late Robert Baratheon, former Minister for Magic, had ‘mysteriously’ died while on holiday at a dragon reservation (the tale was that he had stumbled out of his tent in a drunken stupor, past the barriers and straight into a waiting Peruvian Vipertooth’s mouth, but Petyr knew his death wasn’t as innocent as it seemed. Cersei had never held much love for her dear husband, and had taken advantage of his drunken state, using the imperius curse to lead her husband to his death.) Tywin had discovered the twins together. He sent Jaime away to the Americas, hoping to keep the secret from destroying his political career.

While Jaime was away, Cersei had turned to others for comfort, notably her own cousin, Lancel Lannister. Believing they were meant to be, Lancel was most upset when he found Jaime and Cersei together one night, and lashed out, the resulting duel costing Lancel his life, and Jaime his hand. Of course, the whole matter had been covered up, the public learning instead that Lancel had attacked Tywin under the influence of an Imperius Curse, a victim of some long lost Death Eater’s poorly executed plot to overthrow the Ministry, and Jaime had come to his father’s defense. Afterwards, the twins’ relationship had been fractured, seemingly beyond repair, much to Tywin’s relief. Jaime continued to resist Cersei’s advances, and as of late seemed to be growing close with Brienne Tarth, another Auror.

Cersei held a place on the Minister’s council of advisers, but, of all of Tywin’s children, she was the least deserving of the appointment. She had not inherited her father’s good sense, and her temper was far too rash and unpredictable. What was even worse, was her infallible confidence in her abilities. Cersei always felt she was among the cleverest in the room, if not the cleverest, and often demonstrated the dangers that overconfident lackwits posed.

Tywin’s youngest son, Tyrion, actually outpaced his father in intelligence and judgement, but lacked his father’s favor. He had been born with dwarfism, his mother dying in childbirth, and Tywin had taken both as slights to the family name and honor. Tyrion had grown into a clever young man, but had a tendency to turn to the drink as a means of coping with his father’s judging gaze. He had further angered his father by marrying a Muggle, a woman named Shae. Tyrion was on the council of advisers as well, though as of late, his position was precarious at best.

Petyr stopped outside Tywin’s office, rapping his knuckles against the door to announce his presence. Upon hearing the Minister grant him admittance, he stepped inside, closing the door behind him.

“Littlefinger,” the Minister said, gesturing for him to sit.

Petyr rankled at the term, but didn’t allow himself to show his discomfort, only greeting the Minister cordially before taking a seat. He had considered the use of Professor Baelish over Littlefinger to be one of the many perks of teaching at Hogwarts. The name Edmure Tully had given him as boy had unfortunately carried with him as he attended school, and made a name for himself at the Ministry, much to his displeasure. Most of those of pureblood status enjoyed using the nickname to put him in his place, remind him that as a muggleborn he could never hope to achieve a status similar to their own.

He didn’t ever let on that it bothered him, choosing to embrace the name publicly, so that it held less power to control him. They used the name to get under his skin, and when they realized it had little effect, had to scramble to find other ways of dominating him. This made for a far more interesting playing field, and Petyr enjoyed catching them off their guard, slipping into their minds as they sought other methods. He learned far more that way.

“I trust you have had a most informative first week?” Tywin asked, surveying him from behind his desk.

“More than most, I suppose,” Petyr replied. “It will take some time before I learn anything of use.”

Tywin raised his eyebrows. “Perhaps I should have delegated the task to Varys. I still can, if you feel you are not up to the task,” he mused.

“Feel free to ask him. But I imagine he won’t achieve results any faster than I might. His methods are far different from my own.”

“Then find me what I need,” Tywin ordered. “I know it’s hidden at the school.”

Petyr nodded. “I have learned that much. I need time to build trust with Dumbledore and the others. Dumbledore is a skilled Occlumens, as are many of the other teachers. I cannot simply invade their minds to discern the stone’s location.”

“Then do what you need to. But work quickly. The years have not been kind to my family’s fortune. Cersei has done more damage than I might have thought possible. And despite your best efforts, you haven’t yet salvaged the mess Baratheon left of the Ministry treasury. We are going under, and quickly.”

Petyr relaxed back in his seat. “Such things take time, Minister. I have stopped things from getting any worse, and repaired your relations with the goblins. They are no longer as bloodthirsty as they once were, and have extended the deadline. Be grateful for that much. Goblins are not a forgiving folk.”

Tywin cursed under his breath. “My daughter and her husband have doomed the Ministry with their foolish incompetence. Thank the gods the bastard had the decency to become dragon feed.”

Petyr said nothing, choosing not to point out that Robert Baratheon’s untimely demise was not an act of the gods. A pale violet paper airplane zoomed in through a slot in the door, heading for the Minister. Tywin caught it and unfolded it, groaning in exasperation.

“You may go, Littlefinger,” he said, waving a hand at the door.

Once outside, Petyr deliberated for a moment before deciding to head down to the Goblin Liaison Office on Level Four. In addition to his position of Master of Coin, he was also the head of the Goblin Liaison department, which was only natural considering his work dealt with the goblins of Gringotts. He had actually begun his work at the Ministry in that department, working his way to the top before moving to the finance department, retaining the other post as he rose through its ranks. There were only two employees under him in the Goblin Liaison Office, as the goblins kept to themselves for the most part, and both employees were competent enough to run the office in his absence. He only needed to check on them once every couple of weeks, taking care of the few administrative duties that required his attention.

The rest of the morning passed by easily enough, as he finished everything of importance regarding the goblins, and returned to his office on Level One to work on the Ministry budget. In truth, Petyr could easily have fixed the mess he had inherited from the previous Master of Coin, but he preferred to keep the Ministry in its precarious state. The Ministry’s financial uncertainty would work to his advantage in the long run.

At 11, Petyr reluctantly rose from his desk to meet with the other advisers, hoping the meeting would run smoothly, so that he might be able to finish his work, and return to Hogwarts sooner rather than later. Perhaps, if he pushed himself, he might make it back in time for dinner. And maybe his red wolf might decide to pay him a visit afterwards. It seemed that wherever he went, she would willingly follow. And, if he was being honest, the same could be said in reverse. He would follow her anywhere. Oh, the things he would do for her…

Chapter Text

Sunday, September 6th

 

Sansa woke the next morning to find her bunkmates grouped together and giggling as they whispered to one another.

Pansy Parkinson smirked at her as she grabbed her shower things, and asked, “Nice dream?”

The other girls burst into fits of laughter, even Jeyne, though she at least had the grace to try and cover her mouth to contain it.

“What?” Sansa asked, unsure what Pansy was getting at.

“You were moaning.” Millicent Bulstrode managed to gasp out.

Sansa flushed, and quickly finished gathering everything she needed to get ready, ducking past them into the bathroom, laughter ringing in her ears as she shut the door and deadlocked it. She didn’t care if the others needed to get in. Still burning with embarrassment, she disrobed and stepped into the shower.

She remembered now. Her dreams had been quite racy last night. As she showered, Sansa resolved to put a permanent soundproofing charm on her bed hangings. She didn’t want to suffer their teasing anymore than she had to. Hopefully they would all forget her behavior soon. Preferably before she finished getting ready for the day. If only it weren’t forbidden to use memory charms on her fellow students…

Sunday promised to be a lazy day, with no set plans or homework to occupy her time. Sansa dressed in black jeans and a navy spaghetti strap tank top with lace detailing around the neckline and hem. She dried her hair, letting it fall naturally in fiery waves around her pale face, foregoing makeup. Petyr had said that he would be gone all day, and without him to see her, she didn’t feel like putting in any extra effort in looking nice.

Sansa lingered in the bathroom longer than was strictly necessary, hoping to avoid Jeyne and the rest of the girls. They had all already been dressed, so she hoped that maybe they might all just head up to breakfast instead of staying to torture her. When she finally made herself leave the refuge of the bathroom, she was relieved to see that the dorm was abandoned. She slipped on a pair of black flip flops and grabbed her wand and purse, before heading out.

Not wanting to sit with the other female sixth years of her house, Sansa decided to join Margaery at the Hufflepuff table. Margaery was alone at the far end of the long table, which was fairly unusual for her. Margaery had always been a bit of a social butterfly. It was clear that the situation with the Weasley twins was greatly bothering her.

“You ok?” Sansa asked, though she already knew what Margaery’s answer would be.

Margaery smiled sadly at her. “Not really.” She had a plate full of eggs in front of her, but she had barely touched it, only prodding the eggs here and there as they slowly cooled.

Sansa put her arm around her friend’s shoulders, pulling her in for a side hug. “It will be okay. Heartbreak isn’t the end of the world.”

“Says the girl who has never had her heart broken,” Margaery pointed out.

Sansa relented. “True. But still, there are worst things. George will be ok. And so will you.” She paused. “And Fred.”

Margaery let out a shaky laugh. “If you say so…”

Deciding she should change the subject, Sansa asked about the S.P.E.W. meeting. As Margaery told her about the progress the group was making on house elf rights, Sansa helped herself to eggs and sausage links. She couldn’t help stealing a quick glance at the head table, just in case he might not have left yet. But Petyr was conspicuously absent. It was for the best, really. Margaery needed her right now, and if Petyr had been at the head table, she wouldn’t have been able to resist watching him.

As Margaery talked, she slowly seemed to fall back into her old, cheerful self, and actually took a few bites of her breakfast. Sansa noticed Arya at the Gryffindor table, sitting next to Ginny Weasley, a Gryffindor fifth year who had also made the Quidditch team. Ginny Weasley was the younger sister of Ron Weasley, and the girlfriend of Harry Potter. She was wickedly funny and seemed to take after her older brothers, Fred and George. If Arya and Ginny became good friends, Sansa wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest. They were both very similar in personality.

The ceiling of the Great Hall was a brilliant blue today, the sun shining brightly down upon them all, unhindered by any clouds. Sansa and Margaery decided that the weather was far too gorgeous for them to stay indoors, and that when they finished their breakfast they would head out onto the grounds to wile away the morning. It seemed many of their fellow students had the same idea, judging from the excited chatter in the room.

Before they had finished eating, Arya joined them, Ginny Weasley by her side. She hopped on the bench next to Margaery, stealing a bit of her uneaten toast, and Ginny settled in beside her.

“Have you guys met Ginny?” Arya asked, mouth still full of toast.

Margaery gave Arya a mock scowl before turning to smile at Ginny. “Obviously, since I am dating her brother. I heard from George that you and Harry Potter are dating now?”

Ginny grinned. “Yup. Took him long enough to finally ask me. He had to go through a whole mess with Cho first before he finally realized he liked me.”

Arya groaned. “Gods, Margaery, does every conversation have to revolve around relationships with you? Ginny also made it on the Gryffindor Quidditch team this year. She’s a Chaser.”

Margaery used her wand to vanish the remainder of her toast from Arya’s hand. “No, but I have no interest in Quidditch. Don’t criticize my interests.”

Arya opened her mouth to retaliate, looking outraged.

Before she could say anything, Sansa spoke. “Congratulations,” she said to Ginny, hoping to derail the potential squabble.

“Thanks. A lot of people are kind of upset about it. What with Ron making the team as well. They think Harry is playing favorites.” Ginny said, realizing as Sansa did that Margaery and Arya needed a distraction.

Arya took the bait. “Well they can stuff it. Cormac McLaggen in particular.”

“Cormac McLaggen can stuff it in general.” Margaery said, and they all looked at her in surprise. It wasn’t often that Margaery spoke ill of anyone. “What? He spent much of last year hounding me endlessly to go out with him. He wouldn’t even stop when I started dating George.”

Sansa laughed. “I’ve heard about him. Supposedly he’s all hands.”

Ginny nodded. “It’s easy enough to see that when you spot him with whatever poor girl he is attempting to date at the moment.”

Arya stood up abruptly. “Enough relationship talk. Let’s go outside.”

Sansa and Margaery exchanged a look, stifling a laugh at Arya’s discomfort, and followed Arya and Ginny out into the bright sunshine. They ambled down to the Black Lake, sitting on the dock that extended out over the water. It was unusually warm for September at Hogwarts, and the girls all kicked off their shoes and rolled up their pant legs, dangling their feet in the cool water.

Ginny and Arya immediately got involved in a conversation about Quidditch tactics, tickling the tentacles of the giant squid as it basked in the shallows. Sansa and Margaery just sat in silence for a time, taking in the view of the sunlight reflecting off of the water, and watching as the gentle ripples their feet created spread across the lake. Sansa closed her eyes, reveling in the warmth of the sun’s rays, tilting her head back so that the light shone through the delicate skin of her eyelids. Margaery eventually dug a book out of her bag, and began to read, not feeling the need to talk at the moment. Sansa was grateful for the time to just sit and reflect, enjoying how the beautiful weather erased the embarrassment she had suffered this morning.

Her thoughts drifted to Petyr, and what they had begun last night. She knew that she couldn’t tell Margaery or Arya what had happened, despite how much she felt she might burst at keeping her joy from them. Her relationship with Petyr, whatever it might come to be, and she suspected it might be more than she could ever dream of, must be kept between the two of them only. Sansa trusted Arya and Margaery, but this was far too risky for them to know about, even if they didn’t disapprove.

The problem was, that they already knew of her infatuation with him. And Margaery, at least, would be sure to ask her about it often. Once they knew of her private lessons with Petyr, they would suspect something for sure. Or, at the very least, Margaery would continue to beg for details of every lesson. She honestly didn’t know what to do to protect the secret. Sansa decided maybe she should discuss it with Petyr before resolving how to best handle her friends.

As the morning slipped by, the day grew hotter, and Sansa was grateful she had dressed in a tank top. She had luckily thought to bring some sun lotion with her, knowing her pale skin was likely to burn. Ginny and Arya eventually left, talking about getting some Quidditch practice in, but Margaery stayed, engrossed in her Herbology textbook. Sansa pulled her sketchbook out of her purse, and began to draw, the lines of her quill shaping Petyr’s features. She spent a great deal of time trying to get his eyes just right, knowing that of all his features, his eyes were everything.

When lunchtime came, Sansa and Margaery returned to the cool shade of the castle, enjoying bacon sandwiches, fresh fruit, and crisps with the other students. Afterwards, Margaery was drawn into a group of Hufflepuffs, and, with Arya nowhere to be found, Sansa was left to her own devices. She didn’t mind, used to solitude from growing up at the Eyrie, but she wished that she could have spent the free time with Petyr. Sansa debated about dropping by his office, but figured it was unlikely he would return so early, so she made her way to the library.

She wanted to return to her dormitory, but she was afraid to see the other girls, knowing that they were unlikely to have forgotten already. Sansa didn’t have any homework left to do, having finished it all Friday night, but she thought she might look for some books on Legilimency. The library was deserted, most everyone outside enjoying the fine weather, and she found the lack of other people made her feel more at ease.

Sansa strolled along the bookshelves, choosing a few books that looked promising before heading to a secluded corner and sinking into an ancient looking armchair. She knew very little of Legilimency other than the fact that it was a skill that allowed witches and wizards to read each other’s minds, and if she was to learn it with Petyr, she wanted to prepare so that she might not embarrass herself.

It would probably be best to ask him to teach her Occlumency first, so that she could keep him from reading her thoughts all of the time, but she found she really didn’t mind the intrusion. Not from him, anyway. If anyone was to read her mind, Sansa wanted it to be Petyr. She wanted to share everything with him.

And, if she wanted to know his thoughts as well, what better way than learning Legilimency? He could, of course use Occlumency against her, but oh how she would love to see inside his mind. Sansa had a feeling that she would get lost in his thoughts and never want to leave, if she succeeded in learning the skill. And what a delicious wandering that would be.

As she began to read, Sansa realized that there was a lot more to Legilimency than simply reading another’s thoughts. It seemed that a skilled Legilimens could see into another’s memories, even plant thoughts or control their victims. She wondered if Petyr had ever done such a thing, and whether she might as well, given the option. She realized that he could have done so with her, but instinct told her that wasn’t the case. He had attempted to avoid her, to dissuade her attraction. Had her attraction to him been of his own making, he would not have bothered with such actions.

Sansa read until dinner time, absorbed in what she was learning. When she arrived at the Great Hall for dinner, she was overcome with joy at seeing Petyr among the teachers at the head table. Her eyes met his as she made her way over to the Slytherin table, and he rewarded her with a smirk. Heart thumping more rapidly, she bolted down her dinner, not even paying attention to what she was eating. She saw Petyr excuse himself and leave the Great Hall and had to stop herself from following him immediately.

After waiting for five agonizingly long minutes (she probably should have waited even longer, but found she just couldn’t), Sansa made her way back down to the dungeons, walking straight to the Potions classroom. She decided not to knock, and slipped right into the still darkened room, letting the door close softly behind her.

Chapter Text

A form pressed against her from behind, and Sansa startled for a second before catching the familiar scent of mint. She leaned back against Petyr briefly, before his hands went to her shoulders and spun her around. His lips met her own, and she curled against him, sighing into his mouth. The kiss quickly deepened as they pressed against each other in the dark, and his hands ran down to her thighs, applying gentle pressure underneath them.

Sansa instinctively knew what he wanted, and braced her arms around his neck, letting him lift her up so she could wrap her legs around his waist. Petyr carried them into his office, and she heard the door slam shut and lock as they sank down onto the couch. Their movements became steadily more frantic as they tugged at their clothes, and soon they were both bare from the waist up.

Petyr’s lips left hers, and a word of protest formed on her swollen lips before he latched onto her neck, sucking the tender skin. Sansa moaned and curled her arms around him, bringing his chest against her hardened nipples. He stopped his attentions and lifted his gaze to hers, his normally smoky green eyes eclipsed with lust.

“Gods, I missed you,” he breathed, before lowering his mouth to hers once again.

Sansa could not reply out loud, so she simply thought it, and the low groan issuing from his chest told her that he had heard her thoughts. She smoothed her hands along his back, moving her hips to press against the hardness growing between them as they kissed. Petyr broke the kiss once more, peppering kisses down her jaw and neck, down to her breasts, his mouth taking a pert nipple as his hand caressed the other breast.

As he sucked, Sansa squirmed underneath him, the throbbing at her apex becoming unbearable. Petyr shifted so that his knee pressed against her sex as he continued his attentions on her breasts, and she gasped at the contact. When his kisses trailed down her stomach, to just above the waistband of her jeans, she reached out to pull him back up. She wasn’t ready, not yet.

If he was upset at her decision, he didn’t show it, only resuming their kissing with the same passion. As their tongues danced Sansa felt her hands drift down to his waist, and she couldn’t help but brush against his hardened length. Petyr groaned into her mouth at her touch, spurring her further. She pushed him away a bit so that she could fumble blindly with his belt, before undoing the button and zipper of his pants. Her hand ran along his skin, feeling the smoothness contrasted with the slightly coarse hair that ran from his navel to below his waistband, before she tugged his pants from his hips.

They stopped kissing as Petyr kicked off his shoes and the offending fabric, and though the room was still enveloped in darkness, Sansa’s eyes had adjusted enough that she could see he was wearing black boxer briefs. She ran her hands over him, only separated from him by one layer of fabric, debating about whether or not she wanted to continue. Sansa knew she wasn’t ready for sex yet, or even to take her own pants off, but she had such a strong urge to touch him, to feel him.

Petyr seemed to sense her hesitation. “Don’t do anything you’re not ready for, sweetling.”

Sansa nodded, palming his cheek and guiding his lips back to her own. As the kiss spurred her desire, she let her hands slowly make their way back to his waist, rubbing her thumbs along the line where the fabric met skin. Her fingers skimmed underneath the fabric, before she slipped her hand inside, finally making contact with his hardened cock.

Petyr broke away as she touched him, a hiss escaping through his teeth, eyes so very dark as they stared down at her. Sansa gently stroked the length of him, feeling the weight against her palm, unsure exactly what to do. He reached down and guided her movements, showing her just what to do before letting her try again on her own. They began to kiss again as she stroked him, his hips slowly thrusting in time with her hand.

When he suddenly reached to halt her movements, she pulled away, confused. Petyr only chuckled softly and pressed a kiss to her reddened lips.

“Not yet,” he said.

Sansa bit her lip. “Petyr, I don’t think I am ready for anything more than this.”

Petyr stared down at her, face serious. “I suspected as much.” He paused. “To be clear, you aren’t ready to lose your virginity?”

She considered for a moment, then nodded.

He repositioned himself more comfortably above her, reaching up to rest his hand against her cheek. “I can wait. As long as it takes. But, there are other things we can do, in the meantime. If you are comfortable.”

Sansa furrowed her brow, thinking. She hadn’t considered anything else before. But he was right, there were other options than simply kissing or grinding against each other. She wasn’t completely naive. The question was, was she ready for such things?

She knew he was listening to her thoughts, and when she came to her decision, there was no need for her to tell him of it in words. Their lips melded together once more, before Petyr trailed kisses back down to her breasts, toying with them using his fingers and mouth in tandem until the throbbing between her thighs grew increasingly insistent. When his attentions made their way once again to her waist, she didn’t move to stop him this time. He undid the button of her jeans, tugging them down the gentle curves of her hips and thighs, before discarding them on the floor.

Petyr’s lips kissed along her hipbone, down her thigh as he pushed her legs further apart, moving closer and closer to her sex. Sansa could feel her arousal soaking her lacy underwear, and when his lips kissed her through the fabric, her hips jerked upwards in response. He chuckled and thumbed the waistband, sliding the lace down her legs and off, so that she was bare before him. His lips met the juncture of her thigh and pelvis, kissing along the line until his tongue licked the length of her sex, causing her to gasp at the intense sensation.

His lips and tongue moved expertly against her, working her sensitive nub as she writhed against his mouth. Sansa squirmed impatiently, overwhelmed at the way he was making her feel, knowing she was building to that high, and helpless because of it. Petyr only increased his assault, firmly holding her hips down as they tried to buck against him, working until she finally broke, deliciously shattering as she fell. He did not stop, tongue and lips carrying her through her orgasm, slowly piecing her back together until her trembling subsided.

When Petyr moved back up to kiss her, she could taste herself on his lips, feel the wetness clinging to the hairs of his goatee and mustache. As the length of his body pressed up against her once more, she felt the thrum of desire start its rhythm again. Pleasure spiked as she felt his bare length against her sex, and she reached down to tug his boxer briefs fully off before wrapping her legs around his waist.

Their kiss grew more urgent as he moved his hips to slide his length along her folds. Sansa briefly thought about urging him to just take her right then, but found she couldn’t. As though he knew the direction of her thoughts (of course he did), he pulled away, breaths heavy from their heated kiss. Petyr shifted onto his knees, and raised himself up, pulling her with him and moving until they both were sitting upright against the back of the couch, bodies still pressed close.

Sansa leaned against him, the feel of his skin wonderful against hers. Her eyes trained down to his cock, still hard with arousal, and she suddenly thought maybe she should return the favor. Petyr said nothing, though she knew he must have known her thoughts judging by the hitch she heard in his breathing.

She reached down to take him in her hand, still toying with the idea, before shifting onto her stomach, resolved. Sansa tentatively leaned forward, kissing the tip, before letting her tongue poke through her parted lips to taste him. Petyr groaned, hand reaching to weave in her hair, emboldening her to take him into her mouth. She gently sucked, using her tongue to tease him, experimenting and changing her methods as she learned what he liked best.

When his hand reached to grip her shoulder, she stopped, eyes meeting his.

“Unless you are up for the task, it might be best to finish with only your hand, sweetling,” he managed, as she continued to work him with her hand.

Sansa nodded, and built up a rhythm using only her hand, not sure she was up to letting him come in her mouth. It wasn’t long before her movements gave him release, cum spurting out over her hand and onto his stomach. As he came down from his high, she curled up against his side, raining kisses on his shoulder, up along his jaw to his lips, slow, sweet presses of contentment.

When his heartbeat steadied once more, Petyr stood, taking her hand in his, and leading her into his private quarters, through to the bathroom. He guided her down into the large sunken tub, and pulled her to sit down next to him, turning on a tap to rinse her hand before washing his stomach. Sansa watched as he twisted a knob to stop the tub, before settling back, gesturing for her to try out the taps.

She tested the one closest to her, watching as hot water gushed out, large bubbles occasionally forming. It looked as though the tap was blowing bubbles, like Sansa had seen muggle children do with those tiny plastic wands with hoops. She reached out to pop one with her finger, surprised when it resisted her touch, floating away. The next tap shot out ice white foam that ricocheted off the surface of the quickly rising water.

Sansa laughed. “Why do you have these in your bathroom.”

Petyr shrugged. “I modeled this tub after the one in the Prefects bathroom. I don’t usually make use of those taps though.”

An image of Petyr taking a bubble bath flashed in her mind’s eye, greatly amusing her. Clearly still paying attention to her thoughts, he turned the second tap on again, sending the jet of foam in her direction, splashing her. Sansa sputtered and reached to turn on another tap, hoping to retaliate. To her dismay, white clouds puffed from the tap to drift lazily along the surface of the water and he chuckled, pulling her close.

“Are you planning on making those little clouds rain on me, sweetling?”

She tried to look unaffected. “Maybe.”

Petyr raised an eyebrow at her, “Mhmm.”

Sansa saw that characteristic smirk forming, and leaned into him to feel the curve of it against her lips. But the feeling was fleeting, as the smirk changed quickly to a genuine smile before both were lost to the kiss. She pressed up against him, sliding onto his lap, the water sloshing with her movements. Petyr pulled away and she made a noise of discontentment.

He reached over and turned off the taps, chuckling. “Do you wish to flood my bathroom?”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Nothing a spell couldn’t fix.”

“Just because magic can easily remedy the situation, doesn’t mean we should be careless,” Petyr chided.

“I know,” Sansa frowned, feeling like a scolded child. “I only meant…” She trailed off, unsure how to finish the thought.

He smiled at her. “You were just being contrary for the sake of it?”

Sansa nodded, and he gently pushed her to turn so that she rested with her back against his chest. She leaned back into his embrace, letting her head fall back as he kissed the curve of her neck down to her shoulder. The water felt wonderful, steam softly rising as the heat soothed her muscles.

“You know, Muggles have baths with massage jets that agitate the water,” Petyr mused.

“They do?” Sansa asked, mind slightly hazy from the steam.

“Yes.”

He was quiet for a time, before Sansa suddenly felt the water churn around them and jerked into alertness. The water was bubbling as if they were sitting in boiling water. She turned to look at him.

“How did you do that?” she demanded.

“I just needed to think of the right spell. It wasn’t hard,” he replied.

“You don’t have your wand,” Sansa pointed out.

Petyr chuckled. “You don’t necessarily need a wand to perform magic, sweetling.”

She turned to face him completely, wrapping her arms around his neck. Now that he mentioned it, she knew that she hadn’t always needed a wand to do magic. Wizard children often performed magic without meaning to before they went to school. Wands were a means to learning to channel and control their magic, but not strictly necessary. The more skilled the wizard, the more likely it was that they could perform wandless magic.

“You are a very talented man, Professor Baelish,” she said, a smirk playing on her lips.

His lips mirrored hers before kissing her again, and when the kiss broke, she settled in his arms with her head resting in the crook of his neck. Her mind was buzzing with unanswered questions. She still knew so little of the man that was holding her in his arms.

They sat there in silence for a time, enjoying the pulse of the water around them, before Sansa finally got up the nerve to ask something that had been bothering her.

“Petyr? Are you only drawn to me because I look like my mother?”

His body stiffened underneath her briefly, before he relaxed again. When he spoke, his voice was soft, but sincere. “No. In truth, your resemblance and history were what first caught my eye, but when you kept stealing glances at me that first night, I couldn't help but delve into your mind. And once I started listening to your thoughts, I found I couldn't stop.” Petyr reached down to tilt her chin so that their eyes met. “It was your brilliant and convoluted mind that bewitched me, body and soul.”

Sansa’s breath caught, heart swelling with unadulterated joy. She knew the truth in his words, felt it resonate deep within her. He saw past her looks and into the deepest recesses of her mind, and what he had found there had made him want her. And she wanted to know him just as he knew her.

Petyr answered her thoughts. “You will.”

“Everything?” she asked.

“Everything,” he agreed. “In time, you shall know everything.”

She leaned up to kiss him, loving the press of his mouth against hers. He was hers, and she was his. And nothing would part them.

When they finally left the tub, their skin was puckered and pruny from the lengthy exposure to water. They redressed and settled on the couch by the fire, Sansa curled against him as he sat upright next to her.

She reluctantly told him that Arya and Margaery knew of her crush on him, hoping to glean some advice on how to deal with her friends concerning their relationship. Having frequented her mind over the past several days. Petyr wasn’t surprised. He told her to just pretend as though her crush was still unrequited, knowing that Sansa was unlikely to stop unintentionally showing her attraction to him in public. In time, her friends might find out, but he didn’t seem all that worried about the prospect. She wondered if maybe he had slipped into their minds as well, checking on their character to assure himself of their trustworthiness.

Sansa trusted her friends, but she also knew Arya had a tendency to speak without thinking. She only hoped that if Arya were to find out, she would have better control over her words. At worst, she supposed a Memory Charm might be necessary, if there were no other options. Not on Arya, but on whoever she might accidentally tell.

Before they fell to kissing again, Petyr told her he had a meeting with the Headmaster tomorrow morning to discuss her private lessons with him in Alchemy. He seemed confident that their lessons would be approved, and thought their first lesson might be Monday after dinner. Sansa asked if she would actually be learning anything during these lessons, half hoping he would say no.

He chuckled. “I thought you wanted to learn Legilimency.”

“I do,” Sansa ran her hand along his chest, toying with the opening of his half unbuttoned shirt. She raised her eyes to his. “I want to learn to read that wicked mind of yours.”

“No one else’s?” he asked.

“Perhaps in time,” she agreed. “But first I want to right the imbalance between us. I wish to know you as you know me.”

“And what if you don’t like what you find there?”

Sansa brushed her lips against his. “Won’t I?”

“I honestly don’t know.” Petyr replied, resting his forehead against hers.

“Only one way to find out,” she breathed, kissing him harder as she pulled him closer.

It was with great reluctance that they parted for the night, Sansa armed with some essence of murtlap to soothe her skin from the irritation his facial hair had caused again. She cursed the communal dormitories all students were forced to live in, knowing that her absence would be too easily noticed. But the prospect of double Potions and a private lesson with Petyr tomorrow kept her spirits from dropping too low.

When Sansa returned to her dormitory, it was empty save for her direwolf, and she was grateful she did not have to deal with the teasing again from this morning. The girls were all probably hurrying to finish their homework before going to bed. As she curled up with Lady that night in her four poster bed, she wondered how long it would be before she could know his thoughts as he did hers. ‘I want to know everything about you, Petyr Baelish,’ she thought, before sleep finally took her, mind descending into dreams of wandering through a deep forest at dusk, following a mockingbird as it darted through the trees.

Chapter Text

Monday, September 7th

 

The next morning Sansa made sure to wake up extra early, in hopes of avoiding being at the mercy of Pansy Parkinson and anyone else that might have plans to tease her about her obvious sex dreams from Saturday night. Her bed hangings had been charmed to ensure no one would hear her if her dreams turned erotic again, so she was at least confident that nothing new would happen to incite further ridicule.

Sansa quickly showered and dressed in her school uniform, donning green thigh high stockings to match her Slytherin colors, and slipping into silver flats. Her hair was left loose to tumble in soft curls around her shoulders, and she played up her blue eyes with a touch of mascara and eyeliner before adding a bit of gloss to her lips. She checked her appearance one last time in the mirror before she left to pack her school bag, anticipating a lovely reaction from Petyr once he saw her attire.

Potions was likely to be even more interesting than usual, and Sansa wasn’t sure how she was going to get through the class without jumping into Petyr’s arms and kissing him. She had not thought far enough ahead concerning their relationship to plan out how she was going to manage to act as if they were still merely a teacher and his student. In the end, it seemed as if it really was a good thing that Margaery and Arya already knew she had a crush on him, seeing as they were the ones most likely to notice her strange behavior. Sansa could just blame any odd behavior on her infatuation, trusting that Petyr had far better control over himself than she did, and would not give away that the feeling was mutual.

When Sansa arrived at the Great Hall for breakfast, it was mostly deserted. It was still pretty early, and most students were recovering from their first weekend back at Hogwarts. She helped herself to some porridge and fresh fruit, reading from her Herbology textbook as she ate. Students and staff slowly trickled in to fill the tables, yawning and grumbling as they grabbed a bite to eat before their first lesson. She saw Margaery come in with a group of her Hufflepuff friends, looking tired but cheerful enough, and Arya stumbled in with only fifteen minutes left until lessons would start, short brown hair still tousled from sleep.

Petyr was not present at the head table, nor was Professor Dumbledore. Sansa supposed maybe they were together, perhaps discussing her private Alchemy lessons. With only five minutes until class started, she stood and walked over to where Arya was sitting at the Gryffindor table, stuffing her face with gusto. Nearly everyone had already left, but Arya would always choose food over punctuality.

“Almost done,” Arya told her around a mouthful of toast, hurriedly taking a few more bites and gulping down some orange juice before getting to her feet.

They rushed up stairs and through the halls to their DADA classroom, making it just in time. Slightly winded, they dropped into their seats, listening to Lockhart call roll. Apparently he had a notion to actually teach today. He called Arya’s name and she grew a duck bill and quacked in response, most of the boys in the class snickering. The girls, in general, were less appreciative, many of them shooting Arya dark looks from carefully made up faces.

Lockhart only chuckled, not aware that her actions had any underlying meaning, and called Sansa’s name next, eyes widening with recognition. “Great Scott! Sansa Stark?!”

Sansa raised her hand, and Lockhart beamed at her.

“The Wolf Who Lived! In my class! Alas, this would have been a perfect photo op had the press only been here to document my lessons as I have suggested countless times. But, no matter! All of you have been witness to this momentous occasion, and I am sure you will be only too happy to remember it should any reporters wish for an account.” He walked towards Sansa and extended his hand, hoping to shake hers.

She flushed as everyone turned in their seats to look at her, and reluctantly shook his hand.

Lockhart flashed her a toothy grin. “Wonderful! Just wonderful! Now, Sansa, as someone who has had much experience in the spotlight, I am perfectly happy to share my expertise with you on the subject. Though you might not be as famous as me, you surely have dealt with your own share of the difficulties that come with fame, and if you ever need any tips I will be glad to lend a hand.” He peered down at her earnestly as he made this pronouncement, looking as though he had just bestowed upon her a most precious gift.

Sansa bit back a look of incredulity and forced herself to smile up at him. “Thank you, sir. I will keep that in mind.”

Lockhart continued to stare down at her, as though hoping for a much more exuberant reaction. Upon finding that she wasn’t planning on saying anything further, his face flashed briefly with disappointment before he clapped his hands and strode back to the front on the class. Roll forgotten, he addressed the class earnestly, “Right! So, in this class I have been tasked with helping all of you to learn to face your darkest fears. You will encounter much that is frightening during our lessons, but, never fear, for while you are with me, nothing will harm you.”

Several of the girls sighed at his words, though a few boys and girls looked a little skeptical.

“I have been informed of the general guidelines necessary for sixth years for this class, and I can assure you that you will no doubt be fully prepared for your N.E.W.T.s under my instruction.” Lockhart continued. “We will start by going through your textbooks, all written by yours truly, and I will be choosing some of you to act out any important scenes we come across.”

Hermione Granger raised her hand. “But, sir. We are supposed to be working on nonverbal spells first. I heard Professor McGonagall discussing that with you last week.”

“Yes, yes. Well, we will get to that in time, Miss Granger.” Lockhart blustered.

“But-”

Arya interrupted her. “Hermione, we already worked on nonverbal spells last year.”

Hermione turned to look at Arya. “Yes, but we weren’t supposed to learn them until our sixth year. And most of us still need practice.”

“Miss Granger, I think I know just a touch more about teaching this class than you.” Lockhart said.

Hermione turned red, clearly holding back a retort, her ingrained respect for all teachers working against her need to be right.

They spent the rest of the lesson listening to Lockhart read passages from his books, calling on students to act out different parts. He kept looking to Sansa every time he asked for a volunteer, looking disappointed when she never offered. She suspected he might not give her the option in future classes, and simply force her to participate.

When DADA mercifully came to a close, Arya and Sansa headed outside for Care of Magical Creatures. Care of Magical Creatures was taught by Rubeus Hagrid, who also held the position of gamekeeper at the school. Sansa suspected Hagrid might be at least part giant, due to his enormous size, but if he was, he inherited none of the vicious temperament so often associated with giants. Though Hagrid had a penchant for ferocious creatures, he was an unfailingly kind and gentle hearted man.

Sansa had heard that Hagrid had been expelled during his third year at Hogwarts, which would explain why she had never seen him perform magic, as his wand would have been snapped. This normally would have made him ineligible to teach at Hogwarts, but Care of Magical Creatures required very little in the way of magic, relying more on working with your hands than anything else. And Hagrid was very knowledgeable in magical beasts, having a great interest in the subject, and experience taking care of the many creatures that lived on the grounds of Hogwarts. So, when the post opened up just before Sansa’s third year, Hagrid was offered the post, and little opposition was formed against his appointment.

Hagrid was a decent teacher overall, but sadly only Sansa, Arya, and Margaery had chosen to continue his class for their N.E.W.T.s. Sansa had been surprised that Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger had not chosen to continue, as they were all close with Hagrid, but she supposed they had other priorities for their lessons. With only three students, their first lesson last Thursday had been very relaxed, though Hagrid had looked pretty dejected at the lack of attendance.

In truth, none of the girls had needed to take Care of Magical Creatures for their chosen fields, but they had all decided to take it nonetheless. Arya normally would have resisted any extra schoolwork, but she liked Hagrid, and her bond with Nymeria made her enjoy learning about magical creatures. Sansa had chosen to take the class for similar reasons, and Margaery was the type of person who enjoyed taking care of others, and animals were no exception.

Hagrid was in better spirits today than he had been at their last lesson, and they all joked as they learned about some of the beasts they wouldn’t ever get to encounter in a real class, due to the extreme danger they posed. As Hagrid talked, they prepped food for some of the creatures that he regularly tended to as gamekeeper, including Thestrals, Hippogriffs, and a bowtruckle recovering from a nearly fatal wound.

When they returned to the castle, they all headed straight for a bathroom to wash their hands before lunch. Thestrals dined on raw meat, and Hippogriffs were fond of dead ferrets, so proper hygiene was a must. Sansa and Arya joined Margaery at the Hufflepuff table to eat, filling her in on their DADA lesson. Margaery looked appalled as she listened, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Why would Professor Dumbledore hire him? How are we supposed to pass our N.E.W.T.s with him for a teacher?”

Sansa sighed. “Who knows. Maybe he couldn’t find anyone else. No one ever lasts more than a year.”

“Well, we must be scraping at the bottom of the barrel then,” Arya put in.

Sansa was inclined to agree. The more she learned of Lockhart, the more it became apparent that the man was all talk and no substance. She wasn’t sure how he had managed to attain such success in life, but it was clear the man was ruled by his impressive ego. One could only hope his lessons wouldn’t impact their N.E.W.T. scores too badly….

Chapter Text

After lunch, Sansa dragged her friends to a bathroom to check herself in the mirror real quick, Arya rolling her eyes and Margaery giving her knowing looks, before they headed down to Potions. Petyr had not been at lunch either, and she was determined to look her best when he saw her for the first time. They filed into the classroom and took their seats together at the same table as before. Sansa immediately looked around for Petyr, holding back a sigh of frustration when she found he wasn’t in the room.

When the bell signaling the start of class rang, the door to Petyr’s office opened, and the chatter immediately quieted. Sansa locked eyes with him as he entered the room, before he looked away, face impassive. She couldn’t help but feel a rush of insecurity at his lack of acknowledgement, despite knowing he must only be keeping up appearances.

Directing his wand at the blackboard, Petyr talked them through the instructions for a Hiccoughing Solution, explaining that though his directions differed from the books, they were likely to achieve better results with his. He emphasized that Potions was an imperfect art, always capable of improving, and that to truly excel in Potions, one must learn to trust their instincts. To illustrate his point, he had them all divide into pairs, instructing them to work together to brew both versions available to them of the Hiccoughing Solution.

“I want you to pay attention to the differences in preparations, estimating which method will produce superior results as you work. Before completing each step, think about what might happen, using your previous knowledge in potions as well as your instincts, to predict the effects. If your theory is correct, build on it. If you are mistaken, learn from it. And repeat. Once you have finished both versions, compare them and determine which matches the description provided in the book better. Please record your findings for your homework. Twelve inches.”

Sansa and Arya decided to work together, while Margaery paired with Terry Boot, a Ravenclaw. They began to work, prepping their ingredients while Petyr returned to his desk, focused on whatever he was writing. Arya was grumbling about having to brew two of the same potion, insisting that the differences in the instructions weren’t great enough to affect the potions that much. Sansa ignored her, doing as Petyr had asked, and thinking about which step would achieve a better result with each line of instructions. Having already brewed the Draught of Living Death successfully with his directions, she was confident that the book’s version of the Hiccoughing Solution would pale in comparison to Petyr’s, but she still wanted to hone her own instincts.

She had worried that she might have trouble focusing in class, but her fondness for Potions, and her desire to impress Petyr, kept her on task. Once she had set to work, she didn’t find her eyes wandering to Petyr once, and barely had time to indulge in any insecurities his lack of attention brought. Sansa lost herself in the process, measuring and chopping ingredients before adding them to the potions with perfect precision, stirring or adjusting the heat when necessary, preventing Arya from mixing up the steps from the two sets of instructions. Everything came so naturally to her, and she almost felt as if she might be in a state of heightened awareness as she brewed both potions.

When the class had nearly drawn to a close, Sansa was unsurprised to see Petyr’s method had outpaced the book’s, and not just in the potions she and Arya had brewed. As they cleaned up and packed their belongings, Petyr stood from his desk and checked their cauldrons, making comments here and there before vanishing the contents. He praised Sansa and Arya’s work, his mouth quirking with a smirk that matched his eyes as he looked at her.

When the bell rang, and the students grabbed their things and began to leave, he called out over the din, “Oh, Miss Stark. If you could stay behind for a moment. I have something I wish to discuss with you.”

Margaery and Arya both shot Sansa curious looks.

“Go ahead,” Sansa told them. “I will see you at dinner.”

They nodded and left, leaving only Sansa, Draco Malfoy, and Petyr in the room. Sansa watched as Draco slowly packed his bag, before getting up to leave. To her surprise, he paused at her table, looking nervous.

“Hey, Sansa.”

“Hey,” she smiled at him, unsure why he wanted to talk to her. And now, of all times.

Draco shifted on his feet, fiddling with the strap of his bag. “I, um. I’ve been wanting to talk to you. But I can never seem to catch you alone.”

Sansa nodded, thinking maybe he wanted to ask her for help in Potions, or chide her for barely making curfew. Draco was a Slytherin Prefect, after all. “Ok.”

He smiled hesitantly. “There’s a Hogsmeade weekend coming up. Are you going to go?”

She furrowed her brow. “Yeah, I guess. First one of the year. I could use a trip to Honeydukes.”

“I was thinking….” Draco ducked his head, not meeting her eyes. “I thought maybe we could go together.”

“Oh,” Sansa colored. “Um…” She had no idea what to say. He was asking her out. And in front of Petyr, no less.

Draco stared at her hopefully, eyes earnest, shaded by the silvery blonde hair falling across his forehead. Sansa swallowed, flicking her eyes over to where Petyr was standing. He looked amused. She wanted to glare at him, shame him for taking amusement in her discomfort. As she thought this, his expression changed, his look one of feigned innocence. ‘Bastard’, she thought, watching his eyes dance, before turning her attention back to Draco.

“I’m sorry, Draco. I’m not interested in dating anyone right now,” Sansa tried to let him down gently.

“Oh… Sorry to have bothered you then,” he mumbled, looking crestfallen.

Sansa watched Draco leave, feeling horrible at having to reject him. She wasn’t interested in the slightest, even if Petyr had not been in the picture, but she didn’t like hurting people. Especially when they didn’t deserve it.

Petyr cleared his throat. “If you could follow me into my office…” He walked over to the door and opened it, gesturing for her to go inside.

She stood, and walked past him into the familiar room, and he followed her inside, closing the door behind him. Sansa heard the lock click into place before he pulled her back against his chest, brushing her hair aside to kiss her neck. She leaned into his touch, pressing her backside against him as his kisses trailed up to her jaw, turning in his arms as their lips met.

“Did you want to say yes to that boy?” he asked, voice a low growl.

“You know I didn’t,” she murmured against his mouth.

“Good.”

Petyr kissed her hard, backing her into the room until she bumped against his desk. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he lifted her up onto the desk, parchment crinkling beneath her as she settled on its surface. Sansa bit his lip, tugging gently as his hands roamed. Her legs locked around his waist, pulling him closer, and he groaned against her mouth and pulled away, kissing her neck.

“I did have other reasons for calling you into my office, you know,” he said, his breath tickling the side of her neck.

Sansa shifted so that his lips once again connected with her skin, but he pulled away again, this time releasing himself from her hold completely, and chuckled.

“This concerns your education, sweetling. And as much as I want to teach you such things, I am afraid Hogwarts doesn’t offer lessons of that particular nature.”

She raised her eyebrows at him. “Like you were actually planning on teaching me Alchemy.”

“No, but we had discussed focusing on Legilimency. And I had thought you were quite eager to learn the skill,” Petyr said, lips quirking.

“I am,” she agreed. “But our lesson doesn’t start until after dinner, no?”

“You speak as if you already know our lessons have been approved,” he mused.

Sansa smirked. “If only I had come to such a conclusion by slipping into your mind. Alas, it was simply my powers of deduction.”

“I would be more impressed if it wasn’t so glaringly obvious that was the case,” he teased.

She scowled at him, though only in jest, and reached out to grab the edges of his suit jacket, tugging him closer. Petyr kissed her, and pulled away again, causing Sansa to groan in frustration.

“Your friends are waiting for you, sweetling. Go on up to dinner. I will see you afterwards. Meet me here.”

Sansa reluctantly hopped down from his desk, checking her reflection in the mirror before she left. He did not follow her out, and she supposed he thought it better not to be seen walking to the Great Hall with her. When she reached the Great Hall, she saw both Arya and Margaery seated with their own houses, and decided to take a seat at the less crowded end of the Slytherin table, near a group of giggling first years.

Today’s meal consisted of roast beef, with buttery mashed potatoes and roasted carrots, and she took helpings of each as she fought to contain her excitement. She had obviously spent longer than she had originally thought down in Petyr’s office, as most of the students seemed to be nearly finished eating. Sansa had only taken a few bites when she noticed the hall had cleared considerably. It wasn’t long after that Margaery and Arya joined her, sliding onto the bench on either side of her.

“What did Professor Baelish want?” Arya asked curiously.

Sansa swallowed a bite of mashed potato. “I didn’t tell you before, but when I spoke with him the other night, the subject of taking private lessons came up. Remember how I had originally wanted to take Alchemy, but there weren’t enough students interested to justify creating the class?”

Margaery nodded. “Yes, you were really disappointed, So, he offered to teach you Alchemy?”

“Mhmm. We were talking about my interest in Potions and becoming a Potioneer, and I told him I was unhappy about not being able to learn Alchemy. He told me that if I was still interested, he could ask the Headmaster about private lessons. And, of course I said yes.”

“And your interest in private lessons with Professor Baelish were purely academic, of course.” Margaery waggled her eyebrows at Sansa.

Sansa shrugged, attempting nonchalance. “It won’t be for a N.E.W.T. in Alchemy though. He is apparently a very busy man, and doesn’t have enough time to devote to teaching me everything necessary in the subject for a passing grade. It will only be a way to broaden my knowledge of Potions. Alchemy is actually touched on in our Potions textbook, but I am not sure if he plans on including it in his curriculum for Potions or not. Regardless, he has promised to teach me what he can on the subject.”

“Uh huh. You’re avoiding what I just said, though,” Margaery pointed out.

Sansa looked at her, exasperated. “Yes, ok. I am looking forward to our private lessons for more than one reason. Happy?”

Margaery looked smug. “Yes.”

Arya shook her head. “Just don’t do anything stupid. As far as I can tell, he seems nice enough, but he is still your teacher.”

“Don’t worry. I doubt he has any intentions other than teaching me Alchemy,” Sansa assured her, keeping her expression neutral to avoid being caught in a lie.

“So, when do you start?” Margaery asked.

“Tonight. After dinner.”

Arya looked disappointed, “My first practice with the team is tonight. I was hoping you’d come.”

Sansa frowned. “I’m sorry.” She paused. “I suppose I could ask him to reschedule…” It was a gamble to say such things, but she assumed Arya wouldn’t take her up on it.

Arya shook her head. “No. No, it’s fine. Just make sure to come to all of my games, ok? I know you don’t like Quidditch, but I really want you to be there.”

“I will,” Sansa promised, feeling relieved.

She finished the last of her food, and said goodbye to her friends, wishing Arya good luck. On her way back to Petyr’s office, she made a quick stop at her dormitory to brush her teeth and check her hair, conscious of the garlic used to season the beef. Excitement was fizzing in her veins. Perhaps tonight she might see inside the mockingbird’s mind.

Chapter Text

The door to the Potions classroom was left slightly ajar, and she walked in, heading straight for his office. Sansa debated about knocking for a moment, before she heard Petyr’s voice sound from behind the door.

“You can come in.”

“How did you know I was there?” Sansa asked curiously as she entered the room.

“I heard the creak of the classroom door. And footsteps. It was a natural conclusion,” Petyr said. He was seated behind his desk, scrawling something on a bit of parchment that seemed to contain more ink than blank space.

Sansa watched as he used his quill to scratch out the remainder of his sentence and returned it to the ink well, before glancing up at her. He smiled.

“You may sit.” Petyr indicated one of the chairs set before his desk.

She smiled back, moving past the chair and around his desk to stand beside him. Petyr turned to watch her progress, angling his body out and away from the desk as he shifted in his chair. Sansa was surprised at her own boldness as she sat sideways in his lap, grinning cheekily at him.

Petyr raised an eyebrow at her, and reached for his wand, directing it at the door. The lock clicked into place, preventing unwanted intrusions.

“I meant for you to sit in a chair, sweetling,” he said amusement coloring his raspy voice

“I am sitting in a chair,” she replied. “Technically.”

He smirked. “I suppose you are.”

Sansa smirked back. “So, what is our lesson plan for today, Professor?”

Petyr fingered a lock of her hair. “If you’ve been a good student, then those wicked thoughts of yours may just come to fruition. But first, I think it is imperative to actually attempt to learn something, don’t you?”

Though her body was dead set on ignoring anything but satisfying its urges, her mind was far too curious and excited about learning Legilimency. Sansa didn’t have any illusions that she would immediately be able to listen to Petyr’s thoughts, but the sooner she began, the sooner she could do so. “Ok,” she agreed. “But I think I will stay here. I’m quite comfortable.”

Petyr shook his head, holding back a smile. “What do you know of Legilimency?”

Sansa thought back to the reading she had done yesterday. “I know that it involves reading minds, but it is far more complicated than that. A skilled Legilimens can sift through a person’s memories, see everything, even plant false thoughts or memories.”

“Correct. I see you have done your research,” he praised. “Legilimency can also be used to sense another’s emotions and determine if the person is lying. The most proficient have also been known to use their skills to control people, both through influence and possession. Such practices are, of course, against the law.”

“And are you proficient enough to do such things?” she asked.

Petyr studied her face, debating on how to answer. “Yes.”

“And have you done such things?” Sansa suspected she already knew the answer, but she wanted him to verify it.

“Yes. There are aspects of my job that require playing on another’s suggestibility. When one deals with money, it helps to have such an advantage. I have not ever attempted possession. But sometimes when dealing with monetary matters, I find it necessary to influence a client’s cooperation. Goblins are not known for their forgiving nature. To work with them you must learn to achieve results by any means necessary.”

Sansa considered this. “And have you ever used the skill outside of work?”

“Yes. I have interests beyond my line of work. Plans that I am working towards. Sometimes I find it necessary to use Legilimency to influence others.” Petyr looked at her seriously. “But, I have not ever used such skills in my personal life. Nor will I.”

Sansa raised a hand to his face, tracing the line of his jaw, feeling the prickle of stubble against her fingertips. “I know. I trust you.”

He leaned into her touch, catching her fingers with his own, and dropping a kiss on her palm. “You shouldn’t give your trust away so easily, sweetling.”

“I don’t, usually,” she admitted. “But I cannot help but trust you.”

“Were you anyone else, I would advise you against trusting me.” Petyr said. “But I don’t have the will or want to ever betray you. In the short time I have known you, I have learned that much. If we can trust anyone, we can trust each other,”

Sansa rested her forehead against his, eyes fluttering closed as she felt the gentle press of his lips. The kiss deepened for a moment before she pulled away. She wanted so badly to continue, but once she gave in to her desire, all hopes of learning anymore would be futile. “Teach me,” she breathed, thoughts drifting back to another moment, so similar to this one, where she had uttered those same words. The memory threatened to steal her resolve to learn, but she determinedly pushed her body’s needs aside for the moment.

Grey-green stared into icy blue. “For beginners, eye contact is essential to perform Legilimency. And even for those highly skilled, maintaining eye contact always makes the process far easier. Novices also must make use of their wands, and the incantation Legilimens. With time, it is possible to perform the spell nonverbally and without a wand.

“But before you can attempt anything, you must first understand the complexity of the mind. You cannot simply slip into another’s mind and hear their thoughts. First, you must navigate to the proper place. Different areas of the brain have different functions, and before you attempt anything, it is essential that you learn the anatomy first.”

Sansa frowned. “But how can you navigate someone else’s mind?”

“It is simple, in theory. To do so you must extend your consciousness, using the spell. Once extended, you direct your consciousness into the other person’s mind, and look around at leisure. Looking into the person’s eyes helps you focus your consciousness into theirs. It is something like stepping outside of yourself.” Petyr explained.

“But not completely.” she said, trying to wrap her head around the concept.

“No, not completely. You are expanding your consciousness beyond the normal boundaries.” He shifted his chair back towards his desk, and pulled a blank bit of parchment towards him, grabbing his quill.

Sansa watched him make a rough sketch of the human brain, labeling the different parts.

“The human brain is made up of five different sections, each with their own functions, though overlap does happen. To start with, you should take note of the frontal lobe, located here.” Petyr indicated the front part of the brain, which would rest behind the forehead. “The frontal lobe deals most with cognitive functions, so if you wish to know another’s thoughts, there’s no better place. Short term memories can also be found here.”

Sansa frowned. “But how will I know the difference.”

“Thoughts will be more easily accessible. In truth, listening to someone’s thoughts is one of the easier aspects of Legilimency. To access memories, you will need to move past the surface thoughts and search for what you want. This is not an exact science, and unfortunately only trial and error will help you learn how to best sift through another’s memories.

“Now, for longer term memories, you must find the temporal lobe, located here.” He pointed to a section of the brain that started at the bottom, behind the frontal lobe, and extended into the middle of the brain. “For now, we will deal with just these two sections, though I do want you to memorize the rest, including the functions associated with them. In time, you might find it useful, should you wish to further your skills as a Legilimens.”

Petyr finished jotting down a few notes, then rolled up the parchment for her and set it aside. Sansa bit her lip, staring at him, fiddling with her hands in her lap as she leaned against the arm of his chair. His left arm was snaked around her waist, helping her keep her perch in his lap.

Finally, she spoke. “Are we going to try today?”

“We could,” he said. “It will be difficult. But do not get discouraged if it takes some time before you manage to breach my mind. The first time is always the hardest.”

“How did you learn?” Sansa asked curiously.

“Self-taught,” he paused. “Perhaps once you have learned to access memories, you can try to see if you can find my memories concerning learning Legilimency.”

Sansa nodded eagerly. “Ok.” She straightened, and looked determinedly at him. “I’m ready.”

“You will need your wand,” Petyr reminded her.

“Right,” Sansa flushed and pulled her wand from her pocket.

“Now, I want you to relax. Clear your mind, and breathe. Imagine that your mind is without barriers, that your consciousness cannot be contained, that it might wander from your body. When you are ready, lock eyes with me and speak the incantation aloud, using your wand, just so.” Petyr demonstrated with his own wand, raising it and giving it a flick, as though attempting to dislodge dust from the tip. “If you succeed, your surroundings will likely change, and you will be in the part of my brain that houses my thoughts. If at any point you want to leave, simply draw yourself back in.”

Sansa nodded in understanding, and shifted in his lap, turning so that she could look into his eyes, gripping his shoulder with one hand to keep herself steady. His own hands wrapped around her waist, and she relaxed in his grip, secure in the knowledge that she wouldn’t fall. Her eyes latched onto his as she slowed her breathing, imagining that she might be able to slip from her own body to step into that forest misted in grey.

She let her focus tunnel so that his eyes were all that she could see, letting herself drift as his gaze pulled her in. The pull was so strong, so inviting, so irresistible. So why should she resist any longer? Sansa flicked her wand as she said “Legilimens,” her voice confident, yet somehow sounding so far away.

And suddenly it was as though the forest had swallowed her whole. She was in amongst the trees, shrouded in mist. She ambled lazily through the trees, content to just wander for a time, enjoying the surroundings. Though the scenery might have been quite spooky in other circumstances, she felt oddly comfortable. As though she belonged there. Movement caught her eye and she turned to see a bird take flight from a tree branch not far from where she stood. Sansa decided to follow it, weaving through the trees after the bird as it flew, darting through the haze.

The mockingbird took her to a denser part of the forest, trees abundant and close set, roots and branches intertwining as they grew. The mist had nearly dissipated, and she could see moss and ivy crawling up the trees, obscuring the bark completely in some places. The trees had grown so thick that the walk was increasingly more difficult as time went on, and she had to squeeze through gaps and climb over roots as she continued on her way.

Sansa followed the mockingbird to a towering tree in the center of it all, from which all other trees seemed to branch off. The bird flitted through the branches to a hollow nearly halfway up, disappearing inside, and she struggled over to the trunk, resting her palm against it so as not to lose her balance. And then she heard it. Her name.

She jerked her hand away, shocked. Something invisible tugged at her body, urging her to leave, but Sansa resisted. She reached out again to touch the tree, and she heard it again. Petyr’s voice. And yet, not. It sounded different. Much like one's inner thoughts sounded far different than the voice they spoke out loud with. She heard him, clear as day.

‘Sansa? Have you managed it, sweetling?’

She heard it, over and over, almost like a prayer. Was he thinking the same thing, over and over, in hopes of helping her? Or was he concerned. Concerned that she was lost, that something had gone wrong. Perhaps he found he couldn’t think of anything else in that moment, anxious that he couldn’t hear her own thoughts for once.

Sansa smiled, and leaned against the tree, embracing it, her cheek resting against the rough bark. The repetition faltered. She sensed hesitation, felt the forest shift under her feet for a moment before it stilled again.

‘Sorry. I am not used to keeping my mind open. Knowing someone else was there made reflex kick in for a moment. I did not mean to try to shut you out.’

A pause. She sensed curiosity. Wondering.

‘You’re still there? You must be. I am impressed, sweetling. You must have a natural talent for Legilimency. I most certainly didn’t achieve such results during my first attempt. Though my attempts weren’t made on a willing victim…’

Sansa felt a wind pick up, rustling the leaves of the trees, the gust strong enough that it might carry her away should she let go. And then it died down as quickly as it came, the leaves returning to an almost unnatural stillness.

‘I am not sure what might have just occurred for you, but if you felt as though something was pulling you in another direction, do not be alarmed. It is different for every mind you enter, but when you are accessing someone’s thoughts, and they remember something, you can find yourself swept in the direction of those thoughts, heading to their memories. You can choose to go, or stay, in those instances. I suppose, if you didn’t let yourself be taken there, the best way for you to find my memories would be for me to access them myself, to show you the path. But, for the moment, you need to come back to yourself, Sansa.’

Sansa didn’t particularly want to leave. She felt so comfortable here, his voice surrounding her, filling her. But she knew it would be best for her to follow his instructions. She tried to distance herself from her surroundings, drawing herself back inwards, and there was a tug, and the forest vanished, the light of the room suddenly blinding her as she came back into awareness.

Her eyes snapped shut immediately, warding off the light, and Sansa felt her body fall back a bit before Petyr steadied her. She leaned forward, blindly wrapping her arms around his torso, nuzzling into his neck. His hands ran up and down her back in gentle, soothing motions.

“Coming back for the first time is always hard,” he said. “It will get easier.”

Sansa opened her eyes slightly, feeling the strain. They felt so dry and tired, as though she hadn’t slept in days. “You said eye contact isn’t always necessary?”

“Correct. And with such an exceptional start, I cannot imagine it will be long before you will have little need of it.” Petyr said, kissing her forehead.

She smiled at the touch of his lips, shifting so that she could kiss him. “Good. My eyes feel terrible.”

“Not blinking tends to have that effect,” he murmured against her mouth, kissing her again.

‘Shut up,’ she thought, feeling him shake with repressed laughter as their lips moved.

Petyr broke away, breathless. “You truly are remarkable.” He raised a hand to cup her cheek. “But I think lessons are done for tonight.”

Sansa thought for a moment that he meant she had to go, but his mouth found hers again, and she eagerly reciprocated. Then Petyr’s lips left hers to whisper in her ear, “Such a good student ought to be rewarded, don’t you think?”

Chapter Text

Their kiss grew more heated by the moment, and when Petyr pulled away again, Sansa’s pulse was pounding rapidly, skin flushed. He gently pushed her from his lap, and stood, pulling her through the door to his private quarters. Once in the room, they fell together again, feet carrying them to the bed.

Petyr yanked the hangings aside as they kissed, and Sansa sank into the mattress, pulling him after her. She loosened his tie and tossed it aside, before scrambling to undo the buttons of his shirt, cursing and ripping it in her frustration. He made a noise of discontent at this, pulling away slightly, but stopped when she promised him in her mind that she would fix it later. Soon they were free of all constraints, bodies pressed close, so very close, mouths urgent and hands wandering freely.

She felt his hard length brush against her sex as they moved and stiffened, mind whirring. Her body wanted to, so desperately, but her mind still seemed to have other ideas. Sansa wasn’t sure when she might be ready, but unfortunately that day was not today. Petyr tore his lips away from hers, staring down at her, chest rising and falling far more rapidly than usual.

“I told you before, sweetling. I won’t push you into anything. Until you let me know that you are ready, sex is off the table.”

Sansa smiled up at him, running her hands through his hair so that it stood on end. “Does that mean that once I’m ready, we’ll make use of your kitchen table?”

He raised his eyebrows. “A truly terrible joke.”

She shrugged her shoulders and laughed. “The best ones always are.”

“That’s contradictory,” Petyr commented.

“Still true.” Sansa pulled him back down, kissing him before he could make a retort.

Their movements picked up where they had left off previously, and soon Petyr’s lips left hers to take her breasts in turn, before finding their home between her thighs. He quickly brought her to a gasping high, lips and tongue working in tandem to break her so sweetly. As she recovered, he slowly moved back up her body, licking and nipping at her flushed skin as he went, before finally covering her lips with his own.

Sansa lazily moved her mouth against his, blissfully spent, letting her hand trail down his chest to wrap around his length. She slowly moved her hand a few pumps, before rubbing his cock against her wet sex, coating him in her arousal. Petyr bit back a groan as she resumed her movements, and began to thrust against her hand, pace quickening until she heard him gasp out her name as he came.

Unable to keep himself positioned above Sansa without crushing her, he collapsed to the side, rolling onto his back. She curled into his side, head resting on his chest, hearing the thump of his heart as it slowed to a normal pace.

“Petyr?”

“Hmm?”

“When I was listening to your thoughts earlier, it was as if I had left my body completely, and I was lost inside your mind. But, it can’t always be like that. You seem to know my thoughts without any effort or sign that you are anywhere but in the moment.” Sansa idly traced the path of his scar as she spoke, and to her surprise, he didn’t flinch away from her touch as he had once done.

“In time you will learn to extend your consciousness while staying present. At first it is hard enough just to penetrate another’s mind let alone do so without losing yourself. Only those with incredible innate talent can easily read someone’s thoughts the first time and remain present. That you have already managed to access my mind, and even resist when I unintentionally employed Occlumency against you, is quite an accomplishment. I imagine it won’t be too long before Legilimency becomes effortless for you.” As Petyr spoke, his hand ran the length of her bare back, leaving goosebumps in its wake.

Sansa shivered slightly and moved closer, and he chuckled, shifting with her so that they could take refuge under the blankets. She snuggled against him, breathing in his musky scent, as she recalled her experience in Petyr’s mind. From the diagram he had drawn for her, she had expected something far different than what had occurred, imagining making her way through a mass of tissue, blood and nerve.

“Why did you show me the anatomy of the brain? I didn't see anything like that while I was inside your mind.”

“Because it helps you to navigate. Each mind you explore will be different, but the layout is always the same. Thoughts and short term memories will always be accessible first, and you must travel deeper to access long term memories or to manipulate basic functions.” Petyr paused. “What did you see?”

Sansa shifted to look into his eyes. “I was in a forest, a grey mist clinging to the trees that grew in number the farther I walked. I followed a mockingbird through the forest until I reached a large tree, from which all other trees seemed to originate. And when I touched it, I heard you.”

He stared up at her, expression thoughtful. “I have always wondered.”

“And what do you see when you are in my mind?”

Petyr cupped her cheek, seeming to leave himself for a moment as he stared into her eyes. Finally, he spoke. “When I step into your mind, I am consumed by flames. It is difficult to navigate with ease, just as a true fire would be, my vision obscured by the ever changing movement, no steady landmarks to help me in my wanderings. But, like you, I had help. It seems that when your mind is open to the other person’s intrusion, you unconsciously find a way to guide them. I followed a red wolf into the heart of the flames, to the source of the fire, a column of flame, wild and untameable as it reached untold heights. To know your mind, I only needed to join the fire.”

Sansa looked down at him in wonderment. “We both let each other in? Is that common?”

He shook his head. “No. I have never before encountered such a thing. So, in truth, what I said concerning it is only conjecture. But I sense that I am correct. I was opening my mind to you earlier, hoping to guide you in your attempts. And, I think, your attraction to me must have made you unconsciously guide me into your mind that first night.”

She bit her lip. “So, it really wasn’t so much my skill as your own, that led to my success tonight.”

“I didn’t say that,” Petyr protested. “I may have helped guide you, but you brought yourself in. My first attempt at Legilimency had no such success. Nor did my second. I never went beyond staring those first few times.”

“How did you learn?” Sansa couldn’t contain her curiosity. “And why?”

“I taught myself as a boy,” he paused. “Children with magical abilities often show signs of magic when very young, but it is nearly always completely uncontrolled and unpredictable. When I was five, I heard thoughts that weren’t my own, one day on the playground. Not knowing there was anything odd about such things, I didn’t think anything of it at the time. And perhaps that might not have even been the first time. But it was the first instance I can remember.

“As time passed, it happened more and more often. Soon I realized what was happening, though I couldn’t figure out how or why. And when I discovered what I was, I thought maybe everyone else like me could do it too. I was wrong. When I revealed that I could sometimes hear other people’s thoughts, your Uncle Edmure was terrified. I had never heard much of his mind, but it was clear from his reaction that he had things he would rather keep private. He informed his parents, and I was scolded for invading the privacy of others. Your grandparents warned me to stop, insisting that such skills were frowned upon.

“And I tried to. But it wasn’t something I knowingly did. I kept hearing the thoughts of others at random, and if I could not figure out how or why I was hearing their thoughts, I couldn’t hope to stop it. When I finally was of age to attend Hogwarts, I researched my predicament in the library. Armed with what I had learned, I managed to stop myself from accidentally hearing anyone’s thoughts, realizing that emotions seemed to be tied to the ability. If I was emotional, or if anyone around me was, the chances were far more likely that I would hear their thoughts.

“But when I nearly died, and was cast out of the Tully household, I decided not to restrain my abilities any longer. I taught myself to access the minds of others at will, learning everything I could of the skill, and of those whose minds I entered. There are a few whose minds I cannot penetrate, due to their skill in Occlumency, but I have discovered ways to find out what I need regardless.” Petyr finished speaking, eyes looking far away, as though his mind had traveled back in time to his difficulties as a boy.

Sansa kissed him gently, bringing him back. “So you were born with the gift. But you said you struggled the first few times you tried.”

“I did. When I attempted to slip into someone else’s mind on purpose, it took time before I had any success. I had to learn how to control it.” Petyr pulled her in for another kiss before sitting up. “You need to get going, sweetling.”

She reluctantly followed him off of the bed, finding her clothes and getting dressed again. Before she left, she ducked into the bathroom to run a brush through her hair and make sure she looked presentable. Petyr led her back to the door of the Potions classroom, and handed her the diagram of the brain he had drawn earlier, before saying goodnight, his kiss reigniting the fire she had felt earlier that night. When he tried to pull away, Sansa only pulled him closer, kissing him harder. He yielded for a moment before firmly detaching himself from her grasp.

“You must hurry,” he advised.

She sighed. “I know…” Her hands wove into his hair as she fought to regain some control over her impulses.

Petyr studied her. “We cannot risk it, unfortunately. No matter what we want.”

“How is this so easy for you?” Sansa grumbled.

He shook his head, a smile curving his lips. “It’s not. Years spent in maintaining careful control over every aspect of my life have clearly given you a far different impression. Very little is keeping me from asking you to stay.”

“Oh?” Sansa wondered what might convince him to go against his better judgement.

“Do not attempt it, Sansa. It would not be to our advantage,” Petyr warned.

She gave up. “Will I see you tomorrow?”

“Best not. I have a full day tomorrow, and plenty of work that should have been finished tonight. And you likely have schoolwork.” Seeing her expression, he continued. “We will have another private lesson on Wednesday, after dinner.”

Sansa nodded, leaning into him as he kissed her again. “Goodnight,” she said, stepping out into the corridor.

“Goodnight, sweetling.”

Chapter Text

Tuesday, September 8th

 

The next morning Sansa found Margaery and Arya waiting for her outside the Great Hall, eager for details. Or, at least Margaery was. Arya seemed to be there against her better judgement. They all found seats at the Hufflepuff table, Margaery begging for her to talk as they served themselves helpings of eggs and bacon. Sansa decided that it would be best to avoid looking at Petyr, as it would only fuel her friend’s desire to learn more.

“It was fine,” Sansa said, digging into her food. She felt far more ravenous than usual, which was likely due to not having much time at dinner yesterday.

Margaery stared at her in disbelief. “Uh huh. Spill it.”

“It was,” Sansa insisted. “I learned quite a lot.” She thought it best not to elaborate. The less she said of her lessons, the less likely she was to make a mistake and reveal something better left unsaid.

“That’s all you’re going to say?” Margaery asked, looking disappointed.

Arya groaned. “What do you expect her to say, Marge? That she and Professor Baelish decided ‘why learn Alchemy when we can just break a million rules and suck face’? He is her teacher! Even if he was attracted to her, he doesn’t seem like he would be stupid enough to make a move on her.”

Margaery pursed her lips, thinking. “True. I have been watching him whenever I get the chance, hoping to find out more about him, for Sansa’s sake. I haven’t managed to find out much. He is very hard to read. But you are right, he likely wouldn’t act on it if he did like her.”

Sansa wasn’t sure what to say, and settled for only rolling her eyes and continuing to eat, as though the conversation hadn’t set her nerves skittering. Sometimes it was best just to say nothing and act as though you were completely unaffected, rather than say something and risk it being misconstrued.

“Exactly. And I know you just want Sansa to be happy, but I think it’s best if we just let the matter drop. If she wants to talk about it, then she will. And if not, well, no one likes being hounded about who they like. Especially when it’s not likely to ever happen.” Arya said, helping herself to more food.

Margaery looked abashed. “I didn’t realize I was being pushy. I’m sorry, Sansa.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Sansa replied, smiling at her to show she meant it, no harm done.

“How do you like Alchemy, then?” Margaery asked, tentatively, as though she thought Arya might scold her for asking.

Sansa took a sip of orange juice. “It’s fascinating. I am really looking forward to learning more Wednesday night.”

“Do you think you’ll become an Alchemist?” Arya asked, curiously.

Sansa shook her head. “Probably not. These classes aren’t for N.E.W.T.s, remember? Professor Baelish doesn’t have the time to devote to teaching me everything needed for the tests, let alone a career. I will just stick with becoming a Potioneer.”

“Good point,” Margaery agreed. “Still, it would be cool to be an Alchemist. Imagine if you were able to create the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, like Nicholas Flamel.”

“The what?” Arya asked, brow creasing.

“Shows how much you pay attention in class,” Sansa japed. “We learned about it in History of Magic at one point.”

“Oh, like you honestly remember everything Professor Binns says. You only remember it because of your interest in Alchemy.” Arya grumbled.

“Margaery remembered it too,” Sansa pointed out.

“Well, you’re both eggheads, so that’s not surprising. Now, could you please answer my question.” Arya demanded.

“It turns any metal into pure gold, and produces the Elixir of Life, which makes you immortal,” Margaery said.

Arya stared at them, mouth agape. “Really? Gods, Sansa, why don’t you want to go into Alchemy then? You could be richer than the Lannisters, and outlive everyone. You could watch Joffrey turn as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside, see him die, and dance on his grave afterwards!”

“And outlive everyone I love, as well,” Sansa said.

“What, you wouldn’t share?”

Sansa rolled her eyes. “Kind of a moot point, as I am not making a Philosopher’s Stone.” She got up from the table, glancing up at Petyr briefly as she stood. “Come on, or we will be late for Herbology.”

They left the Great Hall, parting ways with Margaery, who had DADA instead. Arya continued to pester her about the Philosopher’s Stone as they made their way outside to the greenhouses where they had Herbology. Sansa just ignored her, which always drove Arya nuts, but she wasn’t in the mood to deal with hypotheticals. She hated that she wouldn’t be able to see Petyr today. Her attachment to him had grown so much in such a short time, that she felt an ache settle in her stomach at being apart from him, even for a day.

She wanted so badly to be with him, to touch him, kiss the smirk from his lips, weave her fingers into his hair. Even to just be in the same room with him, to see him, to speak his name aloud. It was funny how even the name tasted great on her tongue. The four syllables. The way it felt like kissing as she said it. And his last name, ending in 'lish,' causing the same movement of the lips and tongue as when one started to say delicious. Sansa smiled as she thought that perhaps Baelicious suited him even more, holding back a giggle as she imagined the expression on his face if she ever dared to call him that.

They worked on retrieving Snargaluff pods in Herbology, pairing up with two Gryffindor boys to work, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan. Plants in the magical world were far wilder than those of the Muggle world, and it took a combined effort to wrestle the pods from the seemingly innocuous looking stump. By the time the lesson had ended, everyone was more than a little breathless and sweaty, and Arya had thankfully forgotten all about the Philosopher’s Stone.

They trudged wearily back up to the castle, Arya heading for Charms, and Sansa for Transfiguration with Margaery. Professor McGonagall was most unhappy upon hearing that Lockhart had not deemed it necessary to teach them nonverbal spells, and took it upon herself to teach them. She was pleasantly surprised that many of the students already had some skill in the area, having practiced a bit under their previous DADA teacher at the end of last term, but she still insisted on devoting the next few lessons to it.

“It is essential that you all learn to cast nonverbal spells. Not only does the practice enable you a greater advantage in duels, should you ever find yourself in such a situation, but soon all of your lessons will require it. There are many spells that can only be cast nonverbally, and the further you are in your studies, the more you will encounter them.” Professor McGonagall said, ignoring their protestations.

They divided up into pairs to practice disarming each other nonverbally, some students achieving success, and others turning red from their failed efforts. Sansa successfully disarmed Margaery without speaking a word, catching her friend’s wand as it sailed from her hand. Professor McGonagall rewarded her with a rare smile, before stopping to admonish Draco Malfoy.

“Mr. Malfoy, you are whispering the spell, rather than casting it nonverbally. Try again.”

Sansa watched as Draco attempted to cast Expelliarmus on Gregory Goyle, flushing when nothing happened. His face colored further when he noticed Sansa was looking at him, and he lost his concentration, spitting out the incantation with unintentional venom and causing his friend to crash against the opposite wall from the force of the spell. The room fell into silence as everyone stopped what they were doing to look at Goyle slumped unconscious on the ground. Draco turned pale as McGonagall fixed him with a piercing gaze.

“That was recklessly done, Mr. Malfoy. 10 points from Slytherin,” McGonagall said crisply, stooping to check on Goyle. She revived him with a spell, directing Vincent Crabbe to escort him to the hospital wing.

Draco managed to say, “Sorry, Professor,” before he returned to his desk, putting his head in his hands.

Sansa watched him for a moment, feeling bad for him. She suspected that he might not have had such a hard time if she hadn’t been paying attention. In truth, she had forgotten that he had asked her out yesterday. Her mind had been too full with thoughts of Petyr to really process what had happened. She vowed not to pay Draco any more attention than was strictly necessary from now on, hoping to spare him further embarrassment.

The rest of the class passed by without incident, and, after assigning them essays on the various advantages and applications of nonverbal spells, McGonagall dismissed them for lunch. Sansa left Margaery with a group of her Hufflepuff friends and sat at the Slytherin table, enjoying a small break from socialization to recharge. As she ate, she read the Alchemy book she had picked up that summer, wanting to be prepared should her friends ask her questions about her lessons with Petyr. He wasn’t present in the Great Hall, and she supposed he must have decided to work through lunch.

The rest of the day was taken up by DADA, and then Charms. Lockhart chose to spend the class reenacting scenes from his books once again, ignoring Hermione when she asked him when they might be working on nonverbal spells. He picked some of the more eager students to help him, having them act the parts of different creatures and magical beings. Sansa was relieved that so many of the students wanted to help him, since every time he decided to ask for help, his eyes went straight to her, reflecting disappointment when she didn’t volunteer and he was forced to accept a more willing participant. She knew that once his more fervent fanbase calmed down, she wouldn’t be so lucky.

Charms was much more enjoyable, though Flitwick set them all more homework than she thought was strictly necessary on the concept of turning vinegar into wine. Sansa suspected that might be due to the fact that several students had attempted to sneak sips of their newly fermented drinks, and was grateful she and Arya didn’t have Charms together, assuming Arya wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation. By the time she returned to the Great Hall for dinner, she was fairly exhausted, and craving some alone time. To her credit, Margaery seemed to notice, and she told Sansa that she wanted to eat alone and get a head start on her homework. Sansa smiled back at her gratefully, and spent dinner absorbed in her work, scratching out notes for her essays as she ate.

If she had hoped to see Petyr at dinner, she was sorely disappointed. Sansa kept glancing up at the head table in vain, staying in the hall well after she had finished eating, before finally giving up. As she made her way back to her common room, she badly wanted to direct her steps to Potions, but she knew it wouldn’t be wise. He clearly was busy, and they needed to be careful not to spend too much time together. Even with private lessons, spending more than two nights a week together was probably pushing it.

She spent the evening sitting up in bed, Lady beside her, working through all of the homework she had already accrued, knowing that she wouldn’t have the chance tomorrow night. Even if Petyr had no intention of spending the entire evening together tomorrow, Sansa was certain she could convince him otherwise. It was probably foolish for her to stay with him until curfew again, but she didn’t care. The lessons had been approved, and as long as she returned to her common room in time, no one could truly protest. Unless of course they found out the nature of their lessons…

Chapter Text

Wednesday, September 9th

 

Sansa woke the next day in far better mood. Double Potions, and a private lesson with Petyr after dinner. Wednesdays were highly likely to become her favorite days of the week if this continued. The thought occurred to her that after tonight she might have to wait until Monday to see him again, but she pushed it out of her mind. There was no use worrying about it. He might suggest another lesson on Friday. Or Saturday. Or both. The likelihood for both was doubtful, but a girl could dream.

She dressed in her school uniform, choosing the skirt and blouse, and black flats. Sansa briefly considered wearing heels, but she was afraid she might be taller than Petyr if she did. As it was, they were nearly of the same height, and she wasn’t sure if he would be bothered if she was taller. She applied some mascara and styled her hair, letting it tumble around her shoulders in loose waves, before adding a bit of color to her lips.

The morning passed uneventfully enough, Lockhart teaching his class with his enormous ego to guide him. Sansa spent her free period working in the library on the essay he assigned, writing about her ‘favorite’ moment from his books as he had asked. She joined the girls afterwards for lunch, listening to Arya gab excitedly about her Quidditch practice that evening, and the upcoming game. Petyr wasn’t present for lunch, nor had he been at breakfast, and she found herself worrying that he might have left the castle on some business for the Ministry. But, surely they would have been informed by now if class was cancelled. Unless they found a replacement….

When lunch was finally over, Sansa joined her friends in their trek down into the dungeons, dread building in the pit of her stomach. If he wasn’t there, then she might not get a chance to see him again until next Monday. But her fears were proven unwarranted as they entered the classroom and she saw Petyr seated at his desk, working intently. She settled in at her usual table with Arya and Margaery, struggling to keep from staring at him openly, as she half listened to Arya’s excited talk of Quidditch tactics.

When the bell signaled the start of class, Petyr set down his quill and stood, and the chatter immediately quieted. He asked them to get out their homework, using his wand to direct the scrolls into a pile on his desk, before pointing it at the blackboard. A line appeared, dividing it into two equal halves, and two sets of instructions soon followed. Both seemed to be for the same potion, Elixir to Induce Euphoria, though upon closer inspection, weren’t completely identical. The differences were small, but enough so that it was likely that each set of instructions might yield a slightly different result.

“In our last lesson, I had all of you prepare two separate potions, one following the book, and one following my own instructions. I asked you to pay careful attention to the individual results, and record your findings. Today, we will try a different approach.

“On the blackboard, you will see two sets of instructions for an Elixir to Induce Euphoria. Both have the same number of steps, and each step is similar, though not identical, to the other with the corresponding number. I want each of you to closely examine both sets, and brew your potions, choosing between both instructions with each step. Use your instincts and previous experiences to help guide you. Make note of any successes and failures, and record your findings for Monday.” Petyr returned to his desk, steepling his fingers as he watched them set to work.

Sansa briefly let her eyes lock with his before gathering the necessary ingredients and beginning her potion. She did as he suggested, deciding on the best course of action between the two options which each step. Arya was grumbling beside her about the task, not understanding why it was really necessary to do all of this extra work, when they usually just had to follow the recipe as is. Sansa didn’t feel like pointing out that Petyr was trying to teach them to do more than just follow instructions. The book wasn’t always guaranteed to be right, and it would be to their benefit to learn when to follow instructions, and when to make adjustments.

Margaery was quiet, working diligently, chewing on her lip as she concentrated on her potion. She seemed to be having much more success than Arya, who never had much luck or patience for potions. Arya had needed plenty of extra help last year from Sansa, to manage the Exceeds Expectations O.W.L. required for a career as an Auror. Margaery hadn’t needed any assistance; she didn’t have the natural talent for potions that Sansa did, but she was more than competent.

As the time passed, Petyr rose from his desk to check on their progress, making comments and suggestions here and there as he made his way around the room. When he paused to check on the contents of Sansa’s cauldron, arm brushing against hers, she fought to keep her composure, stiffening at the contact. She determinedly avoided the looks Margaery was giving her, focusing on finishing her potion. For the first time, she felt as though the end of Potions couldn’t come soon enough.

But when class finally ended, she realized that she still had longer to wait until she could be alone with Petyr. Sansa packed up her potion supplies and her carefully taken notes, and reluctantly left with Margaery and Arya, her eyes drifting to Petyr before she departed, a silent acknowledgement that they would see each other after dinner. They trudged up the stairs to the Great Hall, and, to Sansa’s joy, both her friends were immediately swept away by other members of their houses. She willingly let them take their leave, promising to eat breakfast with them tomorrow, before quickly bolting down her dinner.

Petyr had chosen not to attend dinner either, so when Sansa finished eating, she left, stopping by the common room to drop off her school things (save for the Alchemy book and some parchment and ink, just in case, for pretense sake) and check her appearance. Satisfied, she left and walked back to the Potions classroom, entering without bothering to knock. Finding the room empty, she made her way over to his office, and let herself inside. To her surprise, he wasn’t in his office either. She stood still for a moment, unsure what to do, before hesitantly walking to the door leading to his private quarters. A twist of the doorknob told her it was locked.

Sansa debated for a moment about using Alohomora to unlock the door, just to check and see if he was inside, but thought better of it. She didn’t want to invade his privacy. Instead, she knocked, waiting in vain for the sound of footsteps. Hearing no response, she huffed in frustration. Where was he? Perhaps he had gone to the Great Hall for dinner after all?

Not knowing what else to do, Sansa took a seat in front of his desk, fidgeting slightly. She glanced idly around the room, not truly seeing anything, mind preoccupied, until the scent of smoke caught her senses. Her gaze immediately went to the fireplace, but it wasn’t lit. She didn’t think it was from the candles- it smelled almost like burning parchment. Startled, she searched for the source, and found it sitting there on his desk, a scarlet letter smoldering gently.

Sansa knew what it was immediately. It was a Howler. They were fairly common at Hogwarts, parents sending them to their kids whenever they were displeased with their behavior. She bit her lip, unsure what to do. If left alone, the Howler had the potential to set fire to it’s surroundings when it finally exploded. But if she opened it, Petyr might be angry that she had done so.

She was about to get up and knock on his door again, when green flames erupted in the fireplace, and Petyr appeared. He stepped out of the fireplace with more grace than she had ever managed after traveling by Floo Powder, and walked over to where she was sitting by his desk. His eyes flicked from her to the Howler, and back again, features briefly showing his surprise before returning to normal.

“Sorry, sweetling. I was called to the Ministry for a quick meeting,” he said, brushing the soot from his clothes. He frowned at the mess, glancing at his blackened fingers, and sighed. “I think I need to change. I hate traveling by Floo Powder.”

“Is everything ok?” Sansa asked.

“Yes. If it hadn’t been, I likely wouldn’t have been able to return for our ‘lesson,’” Petyr smirked at her as he emphasized the last word.

“I’m glad,” she said. “You, um, have a Howler.” Sansa gestured at his desk, feeling as though she was stating the obvious.

“I do,” he agreed. “I suppose I had better open it.” He picked up the smoking envelope and broke the seal.

Sansa clapped her hands over her ears as the letter began to scream, the sender shouting obscenities and insults at incredible volume. To her shock, she recognized the voice as her Aunt Lysa’s. Lysa Arryn was shrieking about how she was tired of being ignored, that she had done so much for him, that he owed her everything, and she wasn’t going to wait any longer for what was rightfully hers. Petyr walked over to the fireplace and tossed the letter in, face unreadable. When the noise finally stopped, the letter burst into flames, quickly reduced to ash.

Petyr walked back to his desk and sat down, watching her carefully. Sansa could still feel her ears ringing from the assault. She stared at him, and finally managed to speak, unable to keep her tone from sounding accusatory. “That was my Aunt Lysa. I thought you said you haven’t had any contact with my mother’s family since my grandfather cast you out.”

“I haven’t,” he replied.

Sansa scoffed, “Sure sounds like you have.”

Petyr shook his head. “Howlers don’t count. Nor do the countless letters your aunt has sent me over the years.”

“And how do you figure that?” Sansa asked, incredulously.

“It’s simple. The correspondence is completely one-sided. I haven’t once taken the time to respond. Which I think is fairly evident from what you just heard,” he said smoothly.

“Not necessarily. The Howler might only mean that you have been ignoring her for a short time. My aunt isn’t known for her stability. For all I know, you only took a day too long to respond.” Sansa glared at him.

He sighed. “I suppose you could argue that, but I assure you that isn’t the case. Sansa, your aunt…” Petyr paused, debating how to continue. “You live with your aunt, right?”

“Yes.”

“Do the two of you have a good relationship?” he asked.

“No,” Sansa said, suspecting his train of thought.

“And do you trust your aunt over me?”

“No,” she begrudgingly admitted. “But she said she had helped you. That you were hers.” Sansa felt sick to her stomach at that thought.

“In her mind, she has helped me. In her mind, I owe her. But your aunt isn’t quite in her right mind. I am sure you’ve noticed.” Petyr said cautiously.

“She’s not. But she doesn’t just make things up for no reason, either. If she thinks she has helped you, she must have some reason to think so.” Sansa said, not willing to let him off the hook so easily.

“She thinks I owe my career to her,” he said bluntly. “But in truth, that isn’t the case. When I started working at the Ministry, as a menial employee, Lysa knew. She had always been attached to me when we were children, an attachment that quickly turned to obsession when your grandfather cast me out, and forbade his children from having contact with me. Lysa kept sending me letters, tried to visit me at St. Mungo’s, but I always refused her. I wanted nothing more to do with any of the Tullys.

“Despite the lack of response, she never stopped attempting to contact me. When I began to rise within the Ministry, Jon Arryn must have noticed me, and mentioned it to Lysa. She begged him to help me, writing countless letters informing me of her intent. She hoped that if she helped me achieve greatness, I might decide to return her affections. Though I think Jon Arryn did take more notice of me after that, he didn’t make any moves towards granting his wife’s wishes. I advanced in the Ministry based on my own merit, promoted by my overseers until I attained the highest position in the financial department. You can choose, as Lysa does, to believe otherwise, but I think I can safely take credit for my own successes.”

Sansa studied his face, mulling it over. Petyr had let the mask slip as he spoke, allowing her to read him better. She knew that was a calculated move, that by letting her see him unguarded, she was far more likely to believe him, but she appreciated it all the same. She stood, and walked around the desk, and he swiveled his chair to face her, expression open.

“You have never answered her? Not once?”

“Not once,” he said, his grey-green eyes meeting hers.

“And you don’t want my aunt?” Sansa asked.

Petyr laughed. “Gods, no.”

“Ok,” she said simply, drawing closer, reaching out to brush the soot from his shoulders.

His hands went to her waist, pulling her down onto his lap. Sansa slipped arms around his neck and kissed him, enjoying the familiar taste of mint on his lips. When she pulled away, Petyr brought a hand to her cheek, then winced.

“Sorry,” he said. “I need to wash off the soot before I touch you anymore.”

Sansa laughed, and ran her fingers through his hair, showing her darkened hand to him. “I think you might need a shower.”

Petyr sighed. “Clearly I need to ask the house elves to take more care with my fireplace. I usually don’t get this filthy traveling by Floo Powder.” He urged her off of his lap and stood, opening the door to his private quarters.

Sansa followed him, despite not having an explicit invitation to do so. She watched as he loosened his tie and shrugged off his suit jacket, before stepping forward to help him undo the buttons of his dress shirt. Her soot blackened fingers left smudges on the white fabric, but he didn’t say anything in protest. When she slid the shirt from his shoulders and reached for his belt, he stopped her, pulling her close for a kiss.

“Are you planning on joining me, sweetling?” Petyr asked. “I’m afraid you might have to.” He glanced at the marks on her white blouse. “At the very least, your clothes need laundered.”

“Hmm, and what might I wear in the meantime?” she asked, grinning wickedly.

“I’m afraid I don’t have any spare school uniforms lying around, so I suppose you’ll just have to make do.” Petyr smirked at her, and kissed her again, pulling her flush against him.

They made quick work of their clothes, and stepped into the shower together, spending far more time kissing than actually bathing. Once they had rinsed off all of the soot, they tumbled into Petyr’s bed, unable to keep their hands off of one another. He brought her to ecstasy once more using only his mouth, and she returned the favor gladly, before curling into his side to rest. Sansa still wasn’t ready for anything more, and he didn’t push her.

Petyr stroked her arm. “I will have to take care of your shirt soon, unless you just wait to get it washed with your other belongings. I cannot ask a house elf for assistance in this case. They would certainly wonder why I had some girl’s school clothes.”

“Probably,” Sansa mused. “I think they can wait until later. The marks aren’t too noticeable. I only need to make it back to the dorm before anyone sees.”

“Do you still want to practice Legilimency tonight?”

She nodded. “Yes, I do.”

Petyr moved away from her, sitting up. “Then we had best get started.” He rose from the bed and rummaged around in his wardrobe, pulling out a clean shirt and pants, underwear and socks.

Sansa watched him dress, only moving from the bed when he retrieved her clothes and tossed them to her. Her skirt seemed to be soot free, but her shirt had several visible sooty fingerprints in questionable places. Petyr stared at the evidence with amusement, before ducking into the bathroom and returning with a damp cloth to try and lessen the damage. By the time he was done, the shirt was still in desperate need of laundering, but no fingerprints were easily discernible.

They moved to sit by the fire, Sansa sitting closest to the flames to let the warmth dry her shirt. Petyr directed her through the same process as last time, and soon she was wandering through the forest of Petyr’s thoughts. As he was teaching her how to access his mind, she wasn’t able to glean much of anything other than his suggestions concerning Legilimency, but she knew that in time that wouldn’t be the case. He had her leave his mind and return several times until she was able to do both with ease, before working with her on remaining present in the moment.

This proved a far harder task, and soon she was more than a little frustrated at her lack of progress. Sansa knew that she was being too hard on herself, that her skills were already remarkable considering the short amount of practice, but she was frustrated just the same. When Petyr suggested they stop for the night, hoping to derail her increasingly foul temper, she only glared at him.

“Sweetling, this is only your second lesson. You are letting your impatience get the better of you,” he tried to soothe her.

“I know that,” she snapped. “And, I know you know I know that. I’m still frustrated.”

Petyr sighed. “If you insist on continuing the lesson, perhaps we might change tactics for bit. Take a break for the moment and focus on something else. When you try again afterwards, you might find it comes more easily to you. Let me take you into my memories.”

Sansa was torn between her need to accomplish her previous goal, and her urge to learn more about him. In the end, though, the choice seemed easy. He was right. And the chance to see his memories was a temptation she couldn’t resist.

“What will you show me?” she asked.

He studied her, thinking. “What do you want to see?”

“Anything. Everything,” she admitted.

Petyr laughed. “I’m afraid we haven’t the time for everything.”

Sansa bit her lip, considering her options. She thought back to Saturday night, and everything she had learned. Her first instinct was to ask him to show her the memory of his ill-fated duel with her uncle, but she decided against it. She wanted to see her mother, and uncle, maybe even her father, but she didn’t want to ask him to show her such a painful memory. Not yet, anyway. Maybe in time, if he was willing.

Finally, she decided. She wanted to see something he hadn’t spoken of yet- what had happened after her grandfather had broken ties with him. Sansa wanted to know how he had managed to find his way again after being orphaned for a second time. Where had he lived? Had he returned to Hogwarts, to finish his schooling? “I want to know what happened after you left St. Mungo’s.”

Petyr had clearly been following her thoughts as she debated, and so he wasn’t in the least bit surprised by her choice. He shifted on the couch, crossing his legs. “We don’t have a lot of time left, but I can show you enough to give you a general idea.”

Sansa smiled at him, before gently urging him to uncross his legs, so that she could slip onto his lap. She kissed him softly, before raising her wand and casting Legilimens, losing herself in his gaze once again. When she was back in his mind, embracing his thoughts, she felt the wind pick up around her, stirring the leaves and tugging at her clothes.

‘Let go, sweetling,’ Petyr urged, his thoughts somehow simultaneously within her and without.

Sansa released her grip on the tree, feeling herself get swept away, riding the current through the trees, into the thickening mist.

Chapter Text

Sansa was carried through the trees, their number growing sparser the further she traveled, until there was nothing left but darkened sky and swirling mist. Soon, she couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of her, with the almost oppressive blackness of the night, and the smoky mist curling around her body, obscuring everything. But, in truth, there wasn’t much to see, anyway, save for dark smudges blotting the thick mist here and there. The wind carried her over to one, and she thought it looked much like a dark stormcloud, pulsing in the mist, flashes of people and places flickering in and out of view. Urged closer by the current, she passed into the cloud, and suddenly the mist dissipated, revealing a dark alleyway, overflowing bins crowded in the narrow space.

Sansa glanced around, confused. The ground was damp, rain pooling in the dips of the uneven pavement. She saw water dripping from the roofs of the buildings on either side of her, a few drops pinging as they connected with the metal bins. It had clearly just finished raining, wherever she was. She thought about leaving the alley, to try and ascertain where she might be, but before she could take more than a few steps, she heard footsteps pounding towards her.

Whirling around, Sansa only just managed to move out of the way as a slight boy raced past her. He didn’t pay her any notice, as though she wasn’t even there, and she called out in outrage, yelling for him to watch where he was going. She watched as he slipped on wet newspaper, skidding into the brick wall, cursing as he fell. As he scrambled to his feet again, she caught sight of his face, dark hair wild, and gasped. It was Petyr.

Chiding herself for not realizing it sooner (she was, after all, supposed to be seeing his memories), she ran after him, following as he zigzagged through streets and alleys, dodging passerby. Sansa wondered what, or who, he was running from. From time to time, he glanced back, as though he knew she was following him, but she supposed he was checking for his pursuers. As she ran, she vaguely noted how fast he was, and thought that were she not in someone else’s memory, she would likely be unable to keep up.

Finally, he skittered into another dark alleyway, seemingly indistinguishable from the first, crouching behind a dumpster to catch his breath. Petyr looked exhausted, his cheekbones prominent, skin stretched as though he hadn’t had a proper meal in ages, dark shadows under his eyes. His jeans and t-shirt were ripped and muddied, sodden from the rain, and as he sank to the ground and leaned against the wall, she could see him shivering from the cold. He drew in a few shaky breaths, muttering under his breath that he mustn’t rest long, that they would find him if he wasn’t careful.

But it seemed as though he couldn’t get himself to get up again. Petyr looked tired, so tired, and Sansa’s heart ached for him. She wanted to sink down next to him and hold him close, give him the warmth he so desperately needed. He looked maybe twelve, though she wasn’t sure. She suspected he was small for his age, which wouldn’t be surprising from his current malnourished state, and his slight build as an adult.

Suddenly, she heard voices and footsteps, the sounds coming steadily closer. Petyr’s eyes snapped open and he grabbed his wand from his jeans, fear etched on his face. He looked wildly around for some place to hide, face falling as he realized he would have to make a run for it again. Any move to hide in the dumpster would be heard, and it wouldn’t prove to be a particularly clever place for concealment anyway- the dumpster was likely the first place anyone would look if they were searching for someone. Scrambling to his feet, he darted away again, stopping abruptly as he nearly ran into someone and changing course, before halting again at the approach of two others. Goblins.

Sansa heard one of them cackle, before calling out, “Give it up, boy. You’re surrounded.”

Petyr raised his wand. “No,” he spat. “I don’t have your money. And I have no means to repay you. So you can just leave.”

“Ah, if only it were that simple, boy,” another said, taking a step closer. “But, you see, if you cannot pay your debt, then we will have to resort to other measures.”

The third grinned widely. “Hmm, I bet the dementors of Azkaban would just love you.”

“And what good would that do for you?” Petyr scoffed. “I might be punished, but you still wouldn’t have your money.”

The second goblin considered this. “The boy speaks sense.”

“Don’t listen to the boy,” the first scolded. “He is only trying to weasel his way out of punishment. Wizarding law dictates that if he cannot pay, he must be taken to the Ministry.”

“And since when do we follow wizarding law? We are goblins, or had you somehow forgotten?” The second snapped. “We make our own rules.”

“He is manipulating you,” the first hissed, switching to Gobbledegook, and arguing with the other two furiously.

“If you think I’m so clever, then make use of me,” Petyr said, and though his voice was quiet, the goblins heard it nonetheless.

“What did you say?” the third demanded.

Petyr visibly paled. “Nothing.”

The first goblin stepped closer to Petyr, the look on his face menacing. “Do you know Gobbledegook, boy?”

Petyr backed away, his back hitting the damp brick wall, as the goblins cornered him. He looked as though he was fighting with himself on how to answer. Finally, he muttered, “No.”

“No? Then how did you know what we were talking about?” the third goblin asked, his expression cold.

“I didn’t. I only knew what he was thinking.” Petyr indicated the second goblin.

The first goblin’s eyes flashed with recognition. “Legilimens,” he breathed.

The other two stared at him, then looked at Petyr with renewed interest. The second spoke again, a calculating look in his eyes.

“I told you this one would be useful.”

The goblins slipped back into Gobbledegook, their discussion hurried, making sure to block Petyr from any escape as they conferred. Finally, they reverted back to English.

“You said you have no means to repay your debt. What if we supplied the means?” the second goblin asked.

Petyr studied them. “And the catch?”

The third chuckled darkly. “You have little choice here, boy. Either accept our generous offer, or fall into the mercy of the Ministry. I doubt you would last long in Azkaban.”

“I want to know the terms,” Petyr insisted.

“It’s simple. You come to work for us at Gringotts. You work off your debt, including room and board. If you prove useful, perhaps our arrangement can continue to our mutual benefit once your debt is paid,” the second goblin said.

Sansa watched Petyr think it over, knowing as he did that he really had little choice in the matter. The goblins were giving him a rare opportunity, and who knew what awaited him if he was taken to the Ministry. She had no idea what wizarding law called for when debts were unpaid, and, while she imagined that Azkaban would be far too extreme for such cases, it still might be a possibility. Times were bad when Petyr was a boy, the wizarding world a place of darkness and turmoil as You Know Who rose in power. The Ministry had likely been infiltrated, and maybe the Death Eaters would enjoy sending a boy to the dementors. Especially considering Petyr’s muggleborn status. It was a miracle that he had not already run afoul of the Death Eaters on the streets of London.

“What about school?” he finally asked. “I’m meant to return to Hogwarts in a month.”

“And how did you expect to do that without any gold to your name?” the first laughed.

“Hogwarts is free to attend. I thought I might help the caretaker to earn money for my books,” Petyr said hesitantly.

“We will discuss it. If we find your work satisfactory,” the second promised.

Petyr glanced up at the darkened sky, as though searching for some answer, before replying resignedly, “Alright.”

“Excellent. Come, boy. We have much to discuss,” the first said gleefully, grasping Petyr’s arm, and tugging him to follow the other goblins as they left the alley.

Sansa made to follow them, but a fog was settling around her, thickening until she found herself outside of the memory again, lost in swirling mist. She could see the dark memory cloud hovering before her, snippets of what she had just seen flitting in and out of focus. Unsure how to make her way back to Petyr’s thoughts again, she concentrated on pulling herself back to her own body, and jerked slightly as her eyes registered the room again.

Petyr’s face resolved back into focus, and Sansa immediately brought her hands to his cheeks, kissing him hard. He stiffened in surprise for a moment before relaxing, kissing her back with equal passion until she broke away.

“So that’s how you came to work with the goblins. And learned Gobbledegook,” she said.

He nodded, toying with her hair absently.

“The debt. Was it from your time at St. Mungo’s?” Sansa asked.

“Yes.”

Sansa frowned. “But.., My grandfather, he didn’t pay? Or my uncle? None of the Starks?”

Petyr laughed bitterly. “I had jeopardized their alliance, initiating a duel for a girl’s hand that I shouldn’t have presumed to win. In their eyes, I was the party at fault. No matter that Brandon had used a cursed sword instead of a wand, or that I hadn’t been of age. A wizard’s duel is to the death. It was wizarding politics at its finest. The Tullys were praised for casting out the Slytherin boy who had poorly repaid their charity. The wizarding world was plagued by war and uncertainty, and people were not looked down on for doing what was necessary to protect their families. I was a liability, nothing more.”

Sansa felt herself grow angry at his words, angry that her own family, both on her mother’s side, and her father’s side, had treated Petyr with so little kindness. Her uncle had nearly killed him, and yet they hadn’t seen fit to make any reparations, too set on their notions of blood status and family to act like decent human beings. They had left him homeless and swallowed in debt, alone in a world where muggleborns were perfect sport for Death Eaters. She found herself thinking gratefully of the three goblins that had taken him in. What did it say of humanity that the only ones to help Petyr weren’t even human? Sure, it wasn’t merely a kindness that led them to help him, but it was certainly more than anyone else had done.

She wanted to go back in time and shake some human decency into her grandparents. Sansa had always been taught that the Starks were honorable, but apparently standing by their own had taken precedence over doing the right thing all those years ago. She wondered whether her father had willingly agreed to acting as though his older brother had done nothing wrong. Whether her mother had protested her father’s decision. She was so caught up in her thoughts, that when Petyr cupped her cheek, she was visibly startled.

“Sweetling, I did not show you this memory to sow discord in your heart. Everything I have told you, is twisted by my own perception of things. Every story is different depending on who tells it. Your grandparents had their own reasons for the actions they took. And, in their eyes, they thought they were doing the right thing, at least by their own families. Listen to what I have to tell you, and learn from it, but remember that nothing is ever simply a case of right and wrong. The world is not meant for such clear cut definition; it is pure chaos, and at any moment anything can be redefined.” Petyr said.

Sansa sighed, leaning into his touch. “But, I cannot help but be angry at their choices.”

“And what good does that anger do? The past is dead and gone. And so, unfortunately, are those that were involved. Do not let my view of the past change the love you hold for your family.”

Sansa met his gaze. “You cannot tell me you’re not bitter over such injustice.”

“No, I cannot,” he relented. “But, I am doing my best to move past it. I have hopes of changing this world for the better, so that others might not have to suffer as I have.”

“So, it’s a revolution you want?”

“In a sense, yes. By the time I am done, the wizarding world will be entirely unrecognizable. Too long have we been stagnant. It is time for us to grow, or perish as we continue to cling to outdated ideals.” Petyr watched her reaction carefully as he spoke, as if worried his words might bring her pause.

Sansa smiled. “You sound like my Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Rhaegar.” She kissed him softly, and whispered, “Where can I sign up?”

Chapter Text

Saturday, September 12th

 

The next few days were difficult. Sansa had no more lessons with Petyr, whether for Potions or otherwise, for the rest of the week, and he had warned her that he would likely be eating his meals in his private quarters. He had many duties to attend to other than those he held at Hogwarts, and it was often easier to work through meal times, eating as he read through letters and documents, and made the necessary replies. So she not only had no contact with him, but also had no chance to even be in the same room with him.

The separation was agonizing, and Sansa felt her mood increasingly sour with each day that passed without his presence. By midday Saturday, Margaery and Arya were fed up with her foul temper, and, tired of being unable to pry just what exactly was wrong from her, left her to her own devices. Already finished with all of her homework for the coming week, she decided to find Lady and talk a walk around the grounds, enjoying the sunshine before autumn turned the weather cold and drizzly. She ambled around aimlessly, laughing as Lady chased falling leaves, trying to catch them in her mouth, until a familiar figure approached, sending dread spreading through her veins.

Sansa gripped her wand tightly in her hand, calling Lady closer to where she stood, as Joffrey Baratheon stalked towards her, a cruel grin shaping his lips.

“All alone today, Sansa?” he called, stopping a few yard away, wary of her direwolf. “I haven’t seen much of you since school started. One might think you were avoiding me.”

“Always,” she replied.

Joffrey’s mouth twisted in anger, and he took a few steps closer, stopping when Lady snarled in warning. He pulled out his wand. “Your wolf can’t protect you from everything you know. I could curse you from here.”

Sansa raised her wand as well, a steely glint in her eyes. “I would like to see you try.”

He sneered at her. “Don’t tempt me, Stark. Even if you block my curse, you cannot protect both yourself and your wolf.”

Lady bared her teeth, ears flat as she growled. Sansa heard the crunch of fallen leaves being trodden on from behind her, but didn’t take her eyes off of Joffrey.

“I would lower your wand if I were you, Baratheon,” a voice called out.

Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger stepped into view, wands raised. Sansa’s shoulders relaxed in relief. She likely could have handled herself on her own well enough, especially with Lady, but she liked these odds far better.

“Four against one. I think you’re outnumbered,” Hermione said confidently.

Joffrey scowled at her. “This is none of your business, mudblood.”

Ron gave a roar of outrage, moving forward as though he meant to tackle Joffrey, but Harry held him back.

“You’re a disgrace to your house, you know that?” Harry said, disgust clear in his voice.

Joffrey laughed, before Ron spat out, “If anyone’s got dirty blood, it’s you, LANNISTER.”

The mirth slipped from Joffrey’s face as quickly as it had come. “You watch your mouth, blood-traitor. I am the Minister’s grandson, and the son of the previous Minister. No one has more noble blood than I.”

Ron chortled. “Keep believing that. We’ve all heard the rumors. Some nasty skeletons in your family’s closets.”

Joffrey slashed his wand, a curse forming on his lips, but he wasn’t quick enough for four other armed witches and wizards. His wand left his grip, sailing into Harry’s outstretched hand, and he fell to the ground with a resounding thud, scattering leaves into the air. They all stood in silence for a time, wands still raised, waiting to see for sure that he was incapacitated, before walking over to assess the damage. His body was stiff as a board, legs and arms clamped together and to his sides. Sansa had used Petrificus Totalus on him, also known as the Full-Body Binding spell.

There were boils popping up all over his exposed skin, some rupturing a yellowish green pus that soaked into his clothes and hair, leaving an unpleasant smell in the air. Joffrey’s eyes darted between them, their gaze murderous, and if he could have spoken, Sansa knew his words would be littered with obscenities.

“Who used the Body Bind Curse?” Ron asked, sounding impressed.

“I did,” Sansa and Hermione spoke at the same time, glancing at each other with startled looks before sharing a smile.

“I suppose that means you’re responsible for those repulsive boils?” Harry asked Ron, prodding one on Joffrey’s arm with the toe of his trainer. The boil burst, and Harry leapt back in disgust, before wiping his shoe clean on the grass.

Ron grinned, “Guilty. Outside matches the inside now, at least.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Boys,” she huffed, before magicking Joffrey onto a stretcher. Harry and Ron cast her incredulous looks, and she scowled at them. “What? We can’t just leave him here. We’re prefects, Ronald. Or have you forgotten?”

Harry laughed as Ron groaned, “Can’t we just leave him for the wolves?”

“Absolutely not,” Sansa spoke up. “I wouldn’t dream of feeding Lady such a distasteful meal.”

The boys laughed as Hermione fought to contain a smile. “Well, regardless of our feelings, we have a responsibility to bring him to the hospital wing,” she insisted.

“And you don’t think they’ll wonder why he’s in such a state?” Harry said, skeptically.

“We will tell them the truth,” Hermione said, beginning to walk, the stretcher holding Joffrey drifting along beside her.

Ron and Harry hurried after her, arguing, and Sansa decided she might as well follow. She patted Lady on the head and caught up to the trio, just as Hermione let out an exasperated sigh.

“Honestly, you two. You know Joffrey has a reputation. All of us prefects are always warned at the start of school to keep an eye on him, to protect other students from his cruelty. The portraits never take their eyes off of him inside the school, and I am certain Dumbledore has house elves trailing him in hopes of preventing any further incidents.” Hermione stopped abruptly, and Ron ran into the stretcher carrying Joffrey, and kicked it, cursing.

“Why’d you stop?” Ron grumbled.

“Joffrey was alone. If Dumbledore does have house elves tailing him, then what if he found out and…” Hermione bit her lip, looking upset. “Maybe we should go back and look.”

Harry shook his head. “If Joffrey did find a house elf watching him, there’s no telling where it might have happened. Better to just bring Joffrey to the hospital wing, and let the teachers sort it out.”

Hermione nodded reluctantly. “I suppose you’re right.” She started walking again, a blazing look in her eyes. “But, if he did hurt a house elf, he will have me to answer to.”

They reached the school and walked to the hospital wing, students casting them curious looks as they spied Joffrey unconscious and covered in boils drifting along beside them. Madame Pomfrey only gave them a tired look when they traipsed into the ward, ordering them to stay put before disappearing into her office.

Sansa exchanged nervous looks with the other three as they waited. She cleared her throat. “Thanks for the help back there.”

Hermione smiled warmly at her. “No problem. We couldn’t just leave you alone with Joffrey.”

Ron and Harry nodded in agreement, and Sansa smiled thankfully at them. She had never had much contact with them before now, but they seemed quite nice. Clearly the natural enmity between Gryffindor and Slytherin didn’t extend to leaving anyone at the mercy of Joffrey.

When Madame Pomfrey came back, shuffling around and fussing over Joffrey, she told them Professor Dumbledore was on his way to speak with them, just as the man himself walked through the doors. Dumbledore listened to their story with a calm expression, before nodding gently at them and dismissing them, reassuring Hermione that they weren’t in any trouble.

Sansa parted ways with the three Gryffindors and went back to her common room, wanting to relax with a book before dinner. The common room was far too crowded for her liking, so she made her way to her dormitory, heading for her school trunk. She rummaged through its contents, looking for the few books she had packed that weren’t school related. Her mood hadn’t improved much from earlier, especially considering the near miss she had just had with Joffrey, and she wanted the escape that only a good book could provide.

Unfortunately, it seemed that she had packed her wizarding fiction at the bottom of her trunk, so she had to unpack much of the trunk in order to find them, piling schoolbooks, spare quills, winter clothes, and other odds and ends on her bed as she searched. When Sansa finally found the books, she set them on her bedside table, scowling at the mess she had created. Heaving a sigh, she decided she might as well repack the trunk properly, and slowly organized the mess, folding the clothes and stacking them on one side, throwing the rubbish away, before replacing the books in alphabetical order.

To her surprise, she found a diary among her books that she was certain wasn’t hers. A quick examination confirmed Sansa’s suspicions. The diary was old and a bit worn, and belonged to someone named Tom Riddle. Creasing her brow, she wondered how Tom’s diary had somehow made it into her trunk. Had some other student’s belongings gotten mixed up with her own?

But no, Sansa searched her mind, and couldn’t ever remember having heard the name before. She was certain he wasn’t a student at the school. Though she didn’t spend much time mingling with her fellow students, she never forgot a name, or a face, and she was confident she knew everyone currently at Hogwarts. She flipped through the diary, hoping to ascertain something from its contents, but all of the pages were blank. It seemed Tom Riddle had bought a diary, and never had the chance to use it.

As Sansa puzzled over the mysterious diary, she heard the door to the dormitory open, and Jeyne Poole walked in, heading for her wardrobe. Jeyne’s bed and belongings were next to Sansa’s, and so it was unsurprising that she saw Sansa standing there with the diary, and came over to take a look.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, peering at the worn diary.

Sansa glanced up at the girl briefly before focusing on the diary once more. “This isn’t mine,” she said.

Jeyne wrinkled her brow. “Then why do you have it?”

“It was in my trunk,” Sansa said slowly, turning over the diary to inspect it more closely. It seemed to have been purchased from a Muggle shop, over fifty years ago. How in the name of Merlin’s beard…

“And you have no idea how it got there?” Jeyne asked curiously.

Sansa shook her head. She flipped through the diary again, but gleaned nothing new, her frustration mounting. Finally, she decided to just chuck it. It was over fifty years old. Tom Riddle was clearly not a student at Hogwarts, and she would know if he was a teacher. Perhaps it had somehow gotten mixed up with her purchases as Diagon Alley this summer. At any rate, she had no use for it, and she doubted anyone would come forward to claim an old, unused diary. She made to toss it in the rubbish bin, but Jeyne stopped her.

“Wait!”

Sansa paused, looking at the girl in confusion. “What?”

Jeyne took the diary from her, fingering the leather cover. “If you don’t want it, can I have it?”

Sansa stared at her doubtfully. “You want it? Why?”

Jeyne shrugged. “I like writing in diaries. I just filled my latest one, and I don’t want to have to wait until a Hogsmeade weekend to get a new one.”

‘Well, why not?’ Sansa thought. ‘I was going to throw it in the trash anyway.’ “Ok. If you really want it, it’s all yours.”

Jeyne grinned at her and gave her a hug, seeming not to notice as Sansa stiffened in her arms. She wasn’t a huge fan of anyone other than close friends and family touching her. Other than Petyr. Years spent with Robin and Lysa could do that to a person.

“Thanks!” Jeyne exclaimed happily, before stepping over to her wardrobe to change for dinner. Jeyne liked to change outfits several times on weekends, making up for the lack of wardrobe choice the school uniforms allowed.

Unhappy that she hadn’t gotten the chance to read before dinner, Sansa grabbed one of the books and made her way to the Great Hall, hoping that Petyr might actually be in attendance for dinner. If she could catch his eyes, and think of how she wanted so desperately to see him, maybe he might give her some sign that they could meet once they finished eating. He had said Wednesday night that it was possible they might see each other over the weekend.

Her mood darkened when she couldn’t find him among the other teachers at the head table, and she ignored Margaery’s gestures for her to join her at the Hufflepuff table, and took a seat with the other Slytherins. Sansa served herself some ham, mixed vegetables, and a baked potato, adding some butter before opening her book, reading as she ate. She was nearly done eating, when something told her to check the head table again, heart leaping as her eyes locked with a familiar pair of grey-greens.

Chapter Text

Sansa’s heart skipped a beat before thrumming far more rapidly than before, her eyes drifting down to catch the smirk playing about his lips before settling back on his eyes. She desperately wanted to know his thoughts as she stared at him, so focused on Petyr that for all she knew, there was no one else present in the room. And suddenly, she heard him, clear as day, even as she saw him sitting there, across the room. She saw him flinch, nearly imperceptibly so, before he gazed at her more intently.

‘Are you in my mind, sweetling?’ he asked, and Sansa heard him speak as though he was seated next to her, whispering in her ear.

She nodded, and sensed amusement color his thoughts.

‘Clever girl. And from a decent distance no less. Clearly you’ve an exceptional talent.’

Sansa listened as he considered whether it would be best to meet her tonight, before finally giving in to what he wanted.

‘Not that I really need to tell you, but if you wish, you can meet me at my office once you finish your meal. Make sure you aren’t followed. It is just lucky there are no portraits in the dungeons.’

Sansa nodded to let him know she understood, and Petyr looked away. With that, she lost her grasp on his mind, and the chatter of the other students filled her ears instead. She was unable to contain the grin that spread across her face as she finished eating. Two lessons in, and she had made remarkable progress in Legilimency. To hear his thoughts in a crowded room, across such distance, without losing herself entirely, was truly incredible in such a short time. She wondered if maybe the fact that it was Petyr might make it easier. If she attempted to breach anyone else’s mind, she suspected it might be far more difficult. There was an undeniable connection between the two of them, and she suspected their minds were more open to one another because of it.

She didn’t linger long after she saw Petyr leave the Great Hall. Her plate had long since been emptied, but he clearly hadn’t had as much time to eat as she had, and so she had to wait awhile as he finished his meal. Sansa ducked into a bathroom on the way, checking her reflection carefully before heading to the Potions classroom, making sure no one noticed her before she stepped inside.

The classroom was dimly lit, his office door slightly ajar, and Sansa decided that must be an invitation of sorts, and chose to enter without knocking. Petyr was seated behind his desk, feet propped up on the edge as he leaned back in his chair, a glass of amber liquid in his hand. He was reading the Evening Prophet, but lowered it as she entered, moving his feet to the floor and sitting up, before setting his glass down on his desk. The door to his office snapped shut, lock clicking into place.

Petyr beckoned her forward, and Sansa went to him, sinking onto his lap and leaning into his kiss. They clung to each other for a moment, lips moving urgently, their separation for the last two days exacerbating their need for one another. When he pulled away for air, she whimpered discontentedly, and kissed him once more, her hands rising to his face to keep him from moving apart from her again. He didn’t resist, kissing her harder, tongue moving in tandem with hers, drawing her closer.

Sansa moved to straddle his lap, but found the arms of the chair would not allow it, and broke away as she huffed in frustration. Petyr’s eyes danced with amusement as he urged her off of his lap and pulled her close again. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing against him as her mouth moved against his, feeling that lovely heat sing in her veins, settling in her groin. Every touch, every movement, fed the fire, flames licking every inch of her body until she knew she must remove her clothes, or risk having them reduced to cinders.

Knowing her thoughts, as he always did, Petyr quickly granted her wish, and she tugged at his clothes to free him of the same burden, until there was nothing left to separate them any longer. They were still in his office, standing together by his desk, clothes pooled at their feet, hands roaming and lips urgent, when an owl flew in and dropped a letter on their heads, startling them.

Petyr cursed, grabbing the scarlet letter and glaring at the owl as it departed from where it had come, making use of the chimney. Sansa could see it was another Howler, and she had a strong suspicion that it was from her Aunt Lysa. She watched as he gritted his teeth and opened the letter, deciding it was best just to get it over with.

To Sansa’s surprise, it was not Lysa’s voice that sounded from the letter, but another woman’s, magically magnified so that the walls seemed to shake with the force of her screams.

“WHAT IS THIS I HEAR ABOUT MY SON WINDING UP IN THE HOSPITAL WING, LITTLEFINGER! I RECEIVED NOTICE THIS EVENING FROM JOFFREY DETAILING AN UNPROVOKED ATTACK BY FOUR OTHER STUDENTS, ONE OF WHICH WAS IN YOUR HOUSE! I WILL NOT SIT BACK AND WATCH AS MY SON IS BULLIED AND IF YOU DO NOT TAKE STEPS TO PUNISH THE STUDENTS INVOLVED YOU CAN BE ASSURED I WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE A LIVING HELL. DO NOT FORGET THAT MY FAMILY CAN RUIN YOU IF YOU DISPLEASE US. THE MINISTER OF MAGIC WILL BE INFORMED OF THIS, AND IF I HEAR OF ANY FURTHER HARM CAUSED TO MY SON, I WILL DO FAR WORSE THAN SEND A HOWLER. FIND OUT WHO DID THIS, AND MAKE THEM PAY.”

Petyr dropped the letter as it burst into flames, fingers only just reprieved from being burnt. The Howler fell to the ground, burning itself into ash as it dropped, until nothing else was left. Sansa stared at the pile of ash, thinking. It sounded as though the sender was Joffrey’s mother, which could only mean she had just heard Cersei Baratheon, the Minister of Magic’s daughter, chew out Petyr for something that, in part, was her fault. She raised her eyes to meet his gaze, knowing he must have heard her thoughts.

He laughed. “It’s alright, sweetling. I already knew. Professor Dumbledore informed me after he dealt with the situation, knowing that we were both likely to receive Howlers from Cersei tonight, once Joffrey recovered enough to contact his mother. I don’t blame you in the slightest. Joffrey is known to be a nasty piece of work, and I have no doubt that he deserved it. Neither you, nor the Gryffindors involved, are known for attacking others unprovoked.”

Sansa smiled at him gratefully, falling into his embrace. “I am sorry that you got a Howler because of me, though.”

Petyr laughed again, ruefully. “Believe me, I am used to it. But, tell me, does Joffrey make a habit of seeking you out?”

“Less frequently than he used to. The staff and the prefects work hard to keep him in line. I can handle myself well enough when it does happen.”

He looked down at her in concern. “I am confident that you can. But let me know if he becomes a problem. We can always find a way to prevent future attacks.”

Comforted by his words, she snuggled closer, replaying the Howler in her mind. What was it Cersei had called him? Littlefinger? Sansa opened her mouth to ask him about it but the words were lost as he kissed her again. She melted into him, feeling the tattoo of his heart beat in time with her own, lost to its rhythm as it settled between her thighs, pulse magnifying with every moment that passed.

Petyr pulled away briefly to tug her into his private quarters, and over to his bed, yanking the hangings aside before they tumbled onto the covers. Their movements were quick and insistent, mouths never parting as they used their hands to bring each other to such great heights, each falling, only to be caught in the other’s embrace as they came back down to earth.

Sansa lay curled against his side, listening as his heart thrummed slowly back to its familiar pace, feeling truly content for the first time since they had parted Wednesday night. She had missed him greatly, and knew that her mood had suffered for it over the past few days. It likely wouldn’t always be so hard. Everything was still so new, and thrilling, and with time, she might not find such a brief separation so unbearable. They were still in what she had heard Margaery once call the honeymoon phase. Where they couldn’t seem to get enough of one another, fights were nonexistent, and every moment apart was pure agony.

No, it wouldn’t always be like this. As time continued its never ending trek, their relationship would change. And though Sansa loved every moment of their current relationship, she did not dread the changes time would inevitably bring. She suspected their need for one another would always be insatiable, and looked forward to the increased closeness and comfort that would come. And yes, there would be fighting. Such things were unavoidable. But she felt it would be worth it. Perhaps she was getting ahead of herself slightly. Thinking of forever when it had only been a few days. But Sansa couldn’t help it. She had never thought it would be possible to fall so quickly for someone. And yet here she was.

They didn’t speak for awhile, each lost in their own thoughts. Or rather, Sansa suspected, both lost in her thoughts. Nothing was safe in her mind from Petyr when they were together. She wondered what he thought of her musings, and smiled wickedly as a notion drifted to the forefront of her mind, her lips moving against his chest as they curved. Maybe she should take a look?

Knowing Petyr likely knew her intentions, she didn’t ask for permission before reaching out. Sansa decided to try and enter his mind without looking into his eyes, though she gave herself fully, stepping apart from herself and into the trees. She followed the mockingbird once more, easily climbing over roots and ducking under branches on her way to the tree in the very center. The more often she stepped into his mind, the easier it was to navigate, as though she was coming to know the twists and turns of his thoughts as well as she knew her own.

Sansa reached the tree and perched on one of the roots, leaning against the trunk. She rested her cheek against the moss covered bark, closing her eyes, feeling his thoughts fill her once again. Frustration and amusement, affection and tenderness rushed over her, and she couldn’t hold back a laugh at the combination.

‘Ah, laughing at my pain, are we? Such insensitivity,’ he teased. ‘I was enjoying listening to your thoughts, sweetling. I regret that I cannot stay in your mind while you are in mine. At least, I assume I cannot. I wonder…’

Petyr’s mind drifted, thoughts moving so fast that Sansa had trouble following, but she caught the general idea. He had never before had the want or need to listen to someone’s thoughts while they listened to his, and so he hadn’t ever attempted such a thing. But there was always a chance.

‘I don’t think it’s possible when you are in my mind fully, as you are now, but maybe in other circumstances? Sansa, would you mind? Unintentional pun there… But, try to leave and come back, and stay present, as you did in the Great Hall earlier.’

Sansa moved away from the tree and brought herself back to her own body, feeling the warm press of Petyr’s skin against her own. She shifted to look at him, letting her mind expand rather than wander, and his thoughts filled her once again, though she could still see him before her.

‘You can hear me?’ he asked.

‘Yes.’

She felt excitement that wasn’t her own flood through her, and couldn’t contain her amusement, laughing lightly as she stared down at him. Sansa realized she had never seen him show such wonder before, and the thought made her smile. Petyr was acting as if something truly amazing had just occurred.

‘But it has, sweetling! Don’t you see? If we can hear each other’s thoughts whenever we are in each other’s presence, just imagine the possibilities. You were just thinking about how hard it was to be apart these past few days. But, now…’

Sansa broke into a wide grin and kissed him, excitement suddenly matching his own. His hands wove into her hair as he kissed her back, and, though their lips never parted, their conversation continued.

‘You better start attending meal times,’ she insisted.

‘I will try.’

Sansa started to pull away, but he sat up as she did so, and the kiss didn’t break.

‘I will attend at least one meal every day, unless I am called away on business,’ he relented.

‘At least.’ she warned.

‘At least,’ Petyr agreed.

Satisfied, Sansa stopped resisting. They attempted to continue talking without speaking, but it kept starting and stopping, thoughts unfinished as they kept losing themselves to the kiss. Finally, they gave up, but neither retreated, and as their hands wandered, they each felt the other’s emotions. When Petyr’s lips left hers to trail down to her breasts, and finally to her sex, tongue and lips working expertly against her sensitive skin, she was surprised to learn that he seemed to enjoy it nearly as much as she did. His pleasure combined with her own, exquisitely shattering her like never before, and when she came down from her high, she was eager to give him a similar experience.

She took him in hand, running her tongue along his length, nervous that she might hear frustration or disappointment at her inexperience. But her apprehension proved unfounded, and Sansa only heard thoughts of approval. His reaction only spurred her on, and she found she was far more comfortable than ever before, now that she was positive Petyr was enjoying himself. She decided she liked taking him in her mouth, and smiled around his cock when she felt his rush of desire at that thought.

When he came, the force hit her as well, and somehow it felt so much more intimate than it did without their shared thoughts. Sansa was with him through every moment, and it was nearly as if she had come as well, the intensity shocking through her body in such a similar fashion. Petyr pulled her gently back into his arms, laying on his side and turning her so that her back was against his chest.

Still connected to his thoughts, and he to hers, he noticed when she suddenly remembered the question she had been about to ask earlier. When Petyr’s thoughts were suspiciously devoid of any reaction, Sansa realized he must have kissed her earlier to distract her. She wasn’t going to let it rest though.

‘Petyr, I know you can hear me. If you don’t answer me, I will ask it out loud.’

Sansa felt him sigh deeply, his chest expanding behind her.

‘Sweetling, it’s not something I like talking about. But I suppose I cannot let you into my life without explaining the name Littlefinger.’

She could feel anger, resentment, resignation, and more tied to the name. What could the name mean to cause him so much hurt?

‘It’s a cruel nickname. Given to me when I was a child by your Uncle Edmure. Before my family moved next to the Tullys, we lived in the Fingers, a series of tiny juts of land that resemble fingers reaching out to sea. But the land was mostly inhospitable, nothing of note other than rocks and sheep. Those that live there are isolated, and rougher around the edges than most. My mother was sick, and doctors weren’t easy to come by in the Fingers, so we moved. And I grew up next to your mother and her siblings.

‘But though we were friends, and our parents were close, it was always apparent that our social standings were far different. The Tullys were wealthy, and refined, if eccentric, and my family was struggling to keep afloat with the medical bills my mother’s illness incurred, and more used to hard work than high society. I had been quite small for my age as a boy, and Edmure, a boy brought up in privilege, and prone to bullying, didn’t like it when I came to live with them after both of my parents died. I was inferior, both in wealth and in blood status. He called me Littlefinger to put me in my place, to remind me that though I lived with them, I would never truly be a part of their family. That I could never hope to be considered their equal.’

Sansa was shocked once again at the cruelty of her relatives. Although, in truth, she should have suspected such things of Edmure. After all, his betrayal had cost her parents and her brother their lives. In retrospect, the nickname he had given Petyr paled in comparison. But she still felt angry all the same.

‘But why would Cersei call you that, then?’

‘Because the name followed me to Hogwarts. And beyond. Edmure continued to use the nickname at school against me, and it easily caught on. As hard as I know it might be sometimes to be in Slytherin now, it was far worse when I was in school. Voldemort had once been in Slytherin, and many Death Eaters originated from the house as well. Several of my fellow Slytherins had hopes of joining their ranks. This vilified Slytherins in the eyes of the other houses, and even the teachers, and it was no surprise that once Edmure used the nickname, others joined in. Even other Slytherins sometimes used it against me. As a muggleborn, I wasn’t exceptionally popular in my own house, which, more than any other house, prized those of pureblood status.’

Sansa flinched slightly at the use of You Know Who’s name, though she hated herself for it. She had grown up being taught never to say the name, but she was trying to break herself of that habitual reaction. To be afraid of the name gave the man who murdered her family power over her that she wasn’t willing to relinquish. She hoped one day to say and think the name with ease, but it hadn’t come yet.

Petyr noticed her discomfort, and acknowledged it, showing his approval of her resolve, before continuing, ‘And, even now, others still use the name Littlefinger against me. They use it as a way to remind me of my place. Remind me that not only do I not come from one of the old wizarding families, but that I am muggleborn, and therefore less worthy. Many in our world claim that such prejudices no longer exist, but I can assure you they do. In time I simply decided to embrace the name, knowing that the more I fought against it, the more power it would hold over me. Nearly everyone at the Ministry refers to me as Littlefinger, though most use it now more out of habit than anything, after using it failed to bring the reaction they wished.’

Sansa frowned. ‘But they don’t call you that here, do they?’

‘No. It wouldn’t be prudent or professional for my students to learn of the nickname. Something I am grateful for. It is far easier to bear than it once was, but I still dislike the name.’ Petyr pulled her closer and dropped a kiss on her shoulder, before speaking aloud. “You likely need to head back to your common room soon.”

She groaned and turned in his arms. “Isn’t there some spell I can use that mimics my presence.”

“Hmm, tell you what. You find out a way to stay without your absence being noticed, and you may stay.”

Sansa scowled at him. “Surely you could figure out a way much faster than I might.”

Petyr laughed. “You are likely right. But I do not have the time to devote to such things. If I happen to think of anything, I will be sure to let you know.”

She huffed in frustration as he pulled away and rose from the bed, walking to the other side to lift her into his arms when she refused to move. He carried her back into his office and set her down, grabbing her clothes and handing them to her before getting dressed. Sansa listened to his amusement as she pulled on her clothes, noting that he seemed to be battling with himself on whether he should urge her to leave or act recklessly and beg her to stay. Knowing that he wanted her to stay just as much as she did made her feel better. If Petyr could put aside his desires to keep their relationship from being discovered, then she could as well.

Once dressed and satisfied with the state of her hair, Sansa asked him what he would be doing tomorrow.

“I’m afraid I have to step out to the Ministry tomorrow, and Gringotts as well. But I hope to return by dinner,” Petyr replied.

“And if you don’t?”

“Then we will see each other Monday. At least one meal, Potions, and private lessons,” he reassured her.

She nodded reluctantly, hoping that she wouldn’t have to wait that long, but accepting that Monday would be sufficient enough to make up for it if she didn’t see him. Petyr kissed her goodnight, and when the door closed behind her, she felt their mental link break.

Feeling strangely empty without his thoughts to accompany her own, Sansa headed back for her common room, and bed. She wondered if maybe there might be a way to always stay connected with one another. That they needn’t be in the same room to share thoughts, but could be separated by great distances and still be together. She resolved to look further into it, and ask Petyr next the chance that arose. If such a thing were possible, she couldn’t imagine anything she wanted more.

Chapter Text

Sunday, September 13th

 

Sansa slept late the following morning, and when she finally awoke, her dormitory was deserted. Groggy from oversleeping, it took her longer than it should have to find the part in her bed hangings, and when she finally managed to climb out of bed, she struggled to stand without wavering. Yawning deeply, she raised her arms above her head and stretched, hoping to bring some life back into her limbs.

A loud crack punctured the silence, rudely startling Sansa into full awareness, and she quickly snatched her wand from her bedside table before whirling around in search of its source. At the foot of her bed was a house elf, head bowed submissively in her direction. A quick once over told her that the house elf likely wasn’t employed by Hogwarts. Instead of the tea towel stamped with the Hogwarts crest that Hogwarts house elves all wore toga style, this elf was wearing an old pillowcase, with holes allowing for his head and arms.

The elf slowly raised his eyes to meet hers, trembling slightly, and spoke, voice squeaky, but unmistakably male, tone reverent. “The Wolf Who Lived. Such an honor!” He bowed so low to the ground that his long nose nearly touched the stone, before rising again, smile wide.

Sansa didn’t know what to say in response, dumbstruck by the unusual situation. What was this strange house elf doing here in the sixth year girls’ dormitory? The elf stared at her, adoration plain in his tennis ball sized eyes, and she fought for something to say, finally managing, “Sorry?”

The elf beamed at her. “Dobby has heard tales of your greatness, Sansa Stark. The girl who stopped He Who Must Not Be Named.”

She flushed. “I was only an infant. It was my mother’s sacrifice that saved me and defeated the Dark Lord.”

“And so humble!” the elf praised, peering up at her in admiration. “The tales have not done you justice!”

Sansa stared at him, floundering for words. She wasn’t used to such open adoration, having spent much of her life holed up at the Eyrie. Even the response she’d had when she first came to Hogwarts paled in comparison. Of course many of the students were afraid of her then, but still. “I’m sorry, but who are you?”

“Dobby, miss,” the elf proclaimed squeakily, bowing again, his nose actually brushing the floor this time. “Dobby the house elf.”

“And why are you here?” she asked, tired of being confused, but working to keep the frustration from her voice.

Dobby looked at her gravely. “Dobby has come with a warning, miss.”

Sansa stiffened. Was he threatening her? “What?”

“Dobby knows things. The Wolf Who Lived must be careful!” he insisted.

“But why? What do you know?” she demanded, taking a step closer to the elf.

Dobby backed away, shaking his head vehemently. “No, no! Do not ask, Sansa Stark! Dobby cannot speak of such things. You must trust Dobby!”

Sansa bit back an exasperated groan, trying to speak calmly. “Has someone sent you to speak to me?” Perhaps Petyr had sent the elf?

The elf shook his head again. “No, Dobby comes here of his own accord. Dobby shouldn’t have come, but he could not sit back and let anything happen to The Wolf Who Lived. He will have to iron his ears once he returns home.”

Sansa was horrified. “What? Iron your ears?”

Dobby nodded. “A punishment, miss. Dobby is used to them.”

“That’s awful!” The elf’s tone was so matter of fact that it broke her heart. Perhaps she should join Spew after all. Sansa hadn’t known house elves could be treated so brutally. She didn’t think even her aunt had ever ordered such a cruel punishment. “Who has asked you to do such things?”

Dobby started to speak, then froze. She watched as the elf’s eyes bulged, before he grabbed onto her bed post and began bashing his head against the wood. Shocked, Sansa darted forward and tried to restrain the elf, struggling to take hold of his tiny limbs without hurting him further. Finally, the elf slackened in her arms, and she released him, stepping back warily.

“Do not ask Dobby such things, Sansa Stark. Dobby cannot tell you. Promise, Dobby. Promise to be careful.” The elf peered up at her anxiously, eyes swimming with unshed tears.

Sansa bit her lip, thinking. It was clear that she wasn’t going to find out anything further from the elf. She suspected that any further questions would only cause Dobby to harm himself, and she wasn’t willing to take such a risk. It was possible Petyr might have some insight on the matter. She thought about trying to slip into the elf’s mind to see what she might find, but thought better of it. An elf’s mind was likely different than that of a human’s, and she only had ever entered Petyr’s mind. She decided it would be unwise to try it. Who knew what might go wrong. “I promise.”

To her surprise, Dobby sprang forward and hugged her, before pulling back, his face openly showing his gratitude as tears trailed down his cheeks. “Be safe, Sansa Stark,” he said, bowing one last time before disappearing with another loud crack.

Feeling somewhat dazed, Sansa got ready for the day, showering and dressing in a short black skirt and dark green top. She hadn’t lied to the elf. It had been such a simple promise to make. She would be careful- she nearly always was. When you went to school with the likes of Joffrey Baratheon, you had to be constantly on your guard. And, when you began an affair with your professor, careful thought to the consequences of one’s actions applied even more so.

If the opportunity arose for Sansa to spend time with Petyr again tonight, she would make sure to ask him about Dobby. Perhaps he might know who the elf’s owners were, and from there they could determine why Dobby had come to warn her.

Once dressed, Sansa grabbed her purse and wand and went up to the Great Hall for breakfast. The hall wasn’t nearly as busy as usual, only a few stragglers left, lazily enjoying their meal or chatting with friends. Arya and Margaery were alone at the Gryffindor table, Arya still stuffing her face as Margaery read. Arya noticed her walk in and waved her over, nudging Margaery to look up from her book.

Sansa joined her friends and helped herself to bacon, fried potatoes, and eggs. “Good morning.”

Margaery smiled. “Sleep well?”

Arya snorted. “She certainly slept long enough.”

Margaery shot Arya a look, and Sansa laughed. “I did,” she admitted. “I guess I was really tired.”

“Being grumpy all day probably wore you out,” Arya said loftily, before folding bacon into her mouth and chewing with a dreamy expression on her face.

Sansa smiled apologetically at them. “Yeah, sorry about that. I know I wasn’t exactly easy to be around yesterday. Just one of those days.”

“It’s ok,” Margaery said soothingly. “We were worried about you though. I thought maybe you just needed some space.”

Sansa swallowed a bit of fried potato and nodded. “You were right. I’m much better now.”

Arya stopped eating long enough to say. “We heard rumors this morning that something happened with you and Joffrey yesterday. Are you ok?”

“I completely forgot about that. Did he hurt you?” Margaery looked upset that she hadn’t asked earlier.

“No,” Sansa replied. “I had Lady with me, and then Harry, Ron, and Hermione showed up. Joffrey tried to curse us, but didn’t get the chance. We brought him to the hospital wing covered in boils and still in a Full-Body Bind.”

Arya choked on her eggs, sputtering as Margaery urged her to take a drink of orange juice. When she finally recovered, eyes still streaming slightly, she had a wide grin on her face. “Gods, what I would have given to see that!” she crowed.

“You didn’t get in trouble, did you?” Margaery asked, looking worried.

Sansa shook her head, reaching for her goblet of orange juice. “No. Professor Dumbledore seemed to believe us when we said that we were acting in self defense. I am sure Joffrey told a far different tale once he woke up, but Dumbledore likely won’t fall for it. We all know Joffrey’s hanging by a thin thread as it is. Only the Minister’s influence has kept him from getting expelled.” She paused. “Hermione thinks house elves are tailing him. To make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Margaery nodded, “We’ve discussed that in S.P.E.W. before. All of the prefects have been urged to keep an eye on him, as we are every year. And I know the portraits keep tabs on him as well. It’s harder when it comes to the grounds, so we thought maybe Dumbledore asked the house elves to help. Hermione was torn between the danger it posed house elves, and the thought that their help might protect other students.”

“I don’t see why Dumbledore doesn’t just chuck him out,” Arya grumbled. “Screw what the Minister wants.”

“Arya!” Margaery scolded. “It’s not that simple. Dumbledore can’t just do whatever he wants.”

“Neither can the Minister,” Arya insisted. “Joffrey has done enough to be expelled several times over. If it weren’t for his family connections, he would have been gone his first year.”

Sansa put down her fork, exasperated. “But you’ve just explained exactly why Joffrey’s still here, Arya. If Dumbledore does expel him, can you imagine the backlash? The Lannisters are one of the most powerful wizarding families. They control the Ministry of Magic, and, for the most part, the wizarding community in this part of the world. Dumbledore is a powerful man, but he would likely not remain headmaster for long if he decided to expel Joffrey. And you can bet that anyone else appointed in his place would allow Joffrey to attend, even turn a blind eye to his cruelty. It is better that he doesn’t, and keeps his job, so that he can ensure Joffrey won’t hurt anyone else.”

“Fine,” Arya relented, focusing on her food once more. “I hate politics.”

They lapsed into silence, Arya intent on her food, Margaery staring out the window, eyes slightly unfocused, and Sansa pondering whether to tell them about Dobby as she finished her breakfast. She decided not to say anything, in the end. If she did, and then later Petyr gave her some insight into the situation, then she would have to figure out a way to tell them what she had learned without revealing how she had learned it. Lies would breed lies, and soon she would have trouble keeping all of it straight. It was better to simply omit telling them. She hated that she was hiding things from them, but it was necessary. Given the choice between staying with Petyr or having no secrets from her friends, she easily chose Petyr. This knowledge made her feel like a terrible friend, but she supposed there was no helping that.

The three of them passed the rest of the day enjoyably enough, walking around the grounds with the direwolves, and laughing as Arya roughhoused with them, leaves crunching under foot and paw. When the sky darkened, clouds threatening rain, they retreated inside for a late lunch, before holing up in the library. Arya had left all of her homework until Sunday, as usual, and Margaery still had a few essays to finish up. Sansa had already dutifully completed all of her work, but she agreed to help the other two finish up, rereading the Tales of Beedle the Bard for fun whenever she wasn’t needed.

Her heart sank when Petyr didn’t show up for dinner in the Great Hall, and she dejectedly made her way back to the common room afterwards, trying not to show her distress to her friends as they parted for the night. Sansa tried to remind herself that she had seen him only yesterday, and that Monday promised plenty of alone time together, but she struggled to keep her spirits afloat. She took a shower, and when she came out of the bathroom, she was comforted when she found Lady stretched out on her bed. The drizzle outside had likely brought the direwolf inside earlier than usual, and for once Sansa found herself grateful for rain.

Through all of her time at the Eyrie after her uncle had passed, Lady had been there for her. When Lysa lashed out at her for ridiculous reasons, or Robin refused to leave her alone, Sansa had always been able to find comfort in her direwolf. She suspected Lysa would have insisted she get rid of Lady after her uncle had died, had her Aunt Lyanna not intervened. Lysa had never liked Lady, and was terrified that she might hurt her son, but Jon Arryn had held firm that the direwolf was there to stay.

Lady had also been her only source of comfort for a time when she first started at Hogwarts. Sansa had been alone and friendless at the start of her first year, most of the school afraid of her after she had been sorted into Slytherin. But her direwolf was always there for her, unfailingly. It was as though her parents had sent her Lady, a protector to watch over her when they could not, a way to connect with family, both living and dead. Lady’s siblings had gone to her cousins, and that connection had strengthened her bond with Arya, Jon, Bran, and Rickon. She may not get to see most of them very often, but she felt a part of the Targaryen-Stark family. And Winterfell was like a second home, the first being Hogwarts. The Eyrie had never truly felt like home, even when her Uncle Jon had been alive. It was hard for a place to feel like home when certain people did everything they could to make her feel unwanted.

Sansa spent the night pouring over old photobooks her Aunt Lyanna had given her, smiling wistfully at the moving photographs of her mum and dad, sketching the memories she found there, adding herself to those moments. She felt the ache of her family’s loss settle in her throat and chest as she drew, lost to what never could be. Her father’s hair would never grey, her mother would never wrinkle, and her brother, her brother would never grow into the handsome man she knew he should have become. And she would never join them at the dinner table, listening to her father drone on about work, her brother praise her mother’s cooking, the laughter of younger siblings that might have been.

She didn’t often wallow in such thoughts, but when she was feeling her lowest, she had a tendency to turn to what little she had that remained of her family. In her trunk, there was a box filled with sketches of her family, scenarios both imagined and real. Sansa’s room at Winterfell (her aunt and uncle had given Sansa her own room the first time she had visited, insisting that it would always be hers) was papered with even more, many colored and even framed. Though it hurt to think of the lost possibilities, she always felt comfort in remembering her family.

It occurred to Sansa that her parents would likely disapprove of her relationship with Petyr, and the thought that they might be watching somehow from their place with the gods made her uncomfortable. She hoped that wasn’t the case. While she didn’t regret anything, the idea that her parents might know about them caused dread to settle in her stomach. Would they be ashamed of her? There was no way of knowing. And it didn’t change her mind regardless. But it was still a discomfiting notion.

When Sansa finally drifted off to sleep, she was plagued by nightmares, both familiar and new. Her parents were murdered before her eyes, green light sapping the life from their bodies as cold laughter rang in the room. And ghostly specters of Ned and Catelyn Stark glared disapprovingly at her as she introduced them to Petyr, Ned unsheathing Ice and slashing it across Petyr’s chest before he could raise his wand. Sansa cried out in anguish, holding Petyr close as he turned into a White Walker before her eyes. She screamed at her father, who only watched her with a resigned expression, her mother shaking her head in disbelief, mouth forming the words, ‘Why, Sansa? Why him?’

Chapter Text

Monday, September 14th

 

Sansa woke early the next morning, trembling from her nightmares. Everyone else was still sleeping when she rose, but she couldn’t imagine going back to sleep again. Without really thinking, she quickly dressed, running a brush through her hair haphazardly before grabbing her purse and wand from her nightstand and departing, making her way directly to the Potions classroom. The door was closed, but a turn of the handle told her it was unlocked, and she let herself in, heading for Petyr’s office.

Unfortunately, his office door was locked, and Sansa bit her lip, close to tears. She knew it was unwise to visit him so early in the morning. He might not be awake yet, or he could be meeting with someone. But she needed him in this moment, desperately. She raised a fist and knocked lightly, hoping he was awake. Hoping he would hear her. Nothing. She knocked again, slightly harder. She didn’t want to wake him. Only to alert him of her presence if he was already awake.

To her relief, she heard a door open, and footsteps tapping towards her. The door opened, and Petyr was there, and Sansa sank into his arms, shaking. He held her for a moment before pulling her inside, closing the door and locking it before leading her to the couch in his office.

“Sansa? What’s wrong?”

She said nothing, burying her face in his neck as he held her, the soothing scent of mint filling her nostrils. Tears were pricking at her closed eyelids, but his presence was helping keep them at bay. Sansa felt their minds join again, and let him find what was wrong, passively observing his reaction to her nightmares. He did not chide her for being silly or show any amusement that she had been so bothered by dreams. Instead, she only observed thoughts of worry and sympathy before he attempted to comfort her.

‘It’s over now, sweetling. You are awake, and I am here.’ Petyr pulled her closer, rubbing her back.

Though his words were meant to soothe her, the tears she had been holding back found their way through her gated eyelids, soaking the collar of his dress shirt. Sometimes comfort brought pain to the surface rather than tempering it, as though the mind decided instinctively to unburden itself when others might be there to help. Sansa clung to Petyr, hands gripping the back of his shirt as she attempted to regain control of herself. He said nothing out loud, but kept a steady stream of encouragement going in his mind, words slowly tamping the steady flow of tears until they finally stopped.

Petyr dropped a kiss on her forehead and she found herself smiling against his neck at the affectionate gesture. Sansa raised her head to look at him, lips curving again as he moved his hands to cup her face, wiping stray tears from her skin with his thumbs. He kissed her forehead again, and both cheeks, then the tip of her nose, before pressing his lips against hers. When he pulled away, she leaned her forehead against his, letting their noses brush, lips barely parted.

‘Which nightmare bothered you most?’ he asked, thoughts hesitant.

‘The one with you. I’m mostly used to the other one. I have it so frequently…’ Sansa tried to quash the memories that rose unbidden in her mind.

‘You have a recurring dream of your parents’ deaths?’ Petyr’s thoughts sounded strained.

Sansa stared into the misted forest of his eyes, watching them change with every thought, unfiltered around her, and her alone. ‘Yes.’

‘Sansa…’ Petyr seemed unable to articulate what he wanted to say for the first time since she had met him. His thoughts stuttered and fragmented, flitting along one path for a moment before being discarded in favor for another, and though Sansa found it difficult to follow, she grasped the overall idea. Sometimes life brought tragedies that couldn’t be defined with words. And every attempt to capture the grief, to show the sorrow, sympathy, or compassion that one felt in such situations, paled in comparison. Try as we might, there are some things words cannot express.

Hearing her own thoughts, he stopped searching, settling for two simple, yet powerful words instead, the words leaving his lips in a soft whisper, “I’m sorry.”

Sansa’s lips curved in a sad smile, and she shrugged, unable to hold back the reaction that she always seemed to have without fail, whenever anyone said those words. People always meant well when they said them, and she was grateful for the well meaning gesture, but she was never quite sure how to react whenever she heard them. She couldn’t say, ‘it’s ok.’ Because it wasn’t. And saying thank you wasn’t quite right either. Nothing was quite right. There was no good way to handle it. And maybe there shouldn’t be. Life was messy and unpredictable and unfair, and nothing could ever be perfect, and if it was, then it wasn’t a true representation of life.

Despite this, Petyr’s words still meant everything to her. Sansa had listened to his thoughts as he sought to define the undefinable, before he settled for the typical response, and she knew how much was behind those words, and that made all the difference. So much of what goes on in our minds goes unsaid, but sometimes the filter does us an injustice rather than a benefit. Sometimes the struggle reveals more than the result ever could.

Wanting to feel something other than the oppressive anxiety and despair her nightmares had brought, Sansa slid her arms around Petyr’s neck and kissed him hard. He hesitated for only a moment before reciprocating, making no move to stop her as she straddled his lap, skirt bunching around her hips. Slowly the pain faded, as desire overshadowed everything else, and she moved her hips against his growing erection, craving friction. One of his hands crept beneath her skirt, pushing her underwear aside to give her some assistance. He teased her clit until she felt she might go mad with the overwhelming need pulsing inside of her, before moving a finger to her entrance, pausing.

Sansa begged him to continue in her mind, and he smiled against her mouth before continuing. Petyr deftly moved his finger inside of her in practiced motions, before adding a second, curling them just so, finding a spot she hadn’t known was there, and she whimpered, grinding down on his hand. His fingers worked faster, driving her closer and closer, and when his thumb found her clit again, she finally peaked, crying out, his name leaving her lips like a call for salvation.

Her head dropped onto his shoulder as she slumped against him, content. Petyr’s arms wound around her waist, holding her close as she enjoyed the blissful silence that had followed her orgasm. Sansa was dimly aware of his thoughts, but they seemed farther away than normal, as though her connection to his mind had weakened for the moment. When her mind had resumed its normal activity, his thoughts became clearer again, and she smiled into his shoulder as she listened to him war with himself over whether he should urge her to leave so that she might make breakfast, or give into lust.

“Feeling better, sweetling?”

Sansa was so used to communicating with Petyr through thoughts alone, that she was somewhat startled when he spoke aloud, voice at normal volume. She raised her head from his shoulder and smiled at him, kissing him lightly before sliding off of his lap to stand before him, fixing her clothes. “Much.”

Petyr’s mouth lifted in a smirk, “Good.” He stood and walked her to his office door. “We will talk more after Potions, alright? I will make sure to be in the Great Hall for lunch, to check on you. If I didn’t have a class to teach, I wouldn’t think of sending you away.”

“I know. Thank you,” Sansa leaned into him briefly, brushing her lips against his.

“I will see you soon,” he promised, opening the door to let her out. “Breakfast is only halfway over, so no one should be waiting outside yet. But, just in case, I think it would be best if I did not walk you out. If anyone happens to notice you leave, I’m sure you can come up with a satisfactory excuse.”

“And if I cannot?” she asked.

Petyr reached out to toy with a lock of her hair, mouth slanting lopsidedly. “I have faith in you.”

Her eyes darted to the door to the Potions classroom, ensuring that it was closed, before she stepped forward and kissed him again, unable to help herself. Petyr acquiesced for a moment before stepping away, eyes dark, thoughts urging her to go. Sansa fought for control, attempting to rein in her lust, and managed to turn away, forcing her feet to take her out of the classroom, and back to the Slytherin common room.

Sansa quickly packed her school bag and checked her reflection in the bathroom mirror, frowning at the dark circles under her eyes. Knowing she had very little time left, and that Petyr had already seen them anyway, she heaved a sigh and decided not to bother with cover up, before trudging out of the girl’s dormitory. Though she felt much better than she had when she woke up this morning, she still felt out of sorts. Petyr had done wonders to her mood, as she knew he would, but the effect was fading fast now that she had been forced to leave him. Her stomach was groaning from the lack of food, and her head was starting to ache from crying earlier.

When Sansa finally made it into the Great Hall, she had only just enough time to grab a muffin before Arya appeared at her side, looking concerned.

“You look awful,” she said bluntly, looping her arm with Sansa’s as they made their way to their DADA lesson.

“Thanks,” Sansa said sarcastically, biting into her muffin.

“Everything ok?”

Sansa nodded, mouth too full to speak. When she finished swallowing, she said, “Tell you later. I need to eat.”

“Ok,” Arya replied, understanding Sansa’s current predicament from vast experience, and giving her a reprieve for the moment, despite her natural impatience. Arya was often late to breakfast, used to staying up late getting into endless amounts of mischief, and she frequently had to eat on the run to compensate.

They reached the DADA classroom just as Sansa finished her muffin, and when they took their seats, she vanished the wrapper. Her head was feeling much better now that she had eaten, but, as it was DADA with Lockhart, that wasn’t likely to last. She only hoped that Lockhart would still have plenty of volunteers as he ‘taught’ today’s lesson.

To her relief, she lucked out. Some of the girl’s in their class were obviously completely infatuated with Lockhart, and seemed to volunteer every time without fail. Sansa wanted to laugh and roll her eyes along with Arya at the display, but felt wrong doing so. After all, she knew all too well what it was like to be attracted to a teacher. And, while she certainly thought their taste was more than a little lacking, she supposed she shouldn’t judge them. She only hoped that she didn’t make as big of a fool of herself as these girls, when she had Potions with Petyr.

Sansa told both Margaery and Arya of her nightmares last night during Care of Magical Creatures, though she omitted the one about Petyr. Margaery was sympathetic, giving her a hug and offering to give her a Cheering Charm to raise her spirits, while Arya kept trying to find ways to make her laugh. When Hagrid overheard their conversation and learned that Sansa hadn’t had much of anything for breakfast, he generously offered her some of his homemade rock cakes, but she graciously declined, reminding him that the lesson was nearly over and lunch was next. She was grateful when he accepted this excuse; Hagrid’s cooking was not known to be particularly appetizing.

When they arrived for lunch, Sansa’s mood instantly brightened when she saw Petyr seated at the head table. She parted with her friends, insisting that she was far too hungry to talk anyway, and sat at the end of the Slytherin table closest to the teachers, hoping that being in closer proximity would make it easier for their minds to join. Before serving herself, she turned to look at him, reaching out, and when his thoughts filled her mind, the tension that had building again all morning suddenly left her.

‘How are you feeling?’

Four words, just four little words, and yet they comforted her far beyond anything her friends had tried. In truth, from the first word, Sansa had felt better again. Every moment apart today had been agony, though she had fought hard not to show it. ‘Better with you again,’ she thought. ‘I missed you.’ There wasn’t any point in denying it. She couldn’t exactly play coy when he was listening to every thought she had.

Sansa listened to Petyr’s thoughts as he reacted with pleasure at her admission, and fought against showing her that he missed her too. She helped herself to steak and kidney pie, trying to contain her amusement, knowing that his instinct to withhold his feelings were born from past rejection, and an attempt to guard his heart. His internal struggle couldn’t be helped, and it would be cruel to poke fun at such things, even though the struggle was quite silly considering she heard every word.

Finally, Petyr stopped resisting, remembering that their minds were linked, and it was with amusement at his own folly that he admitted he missed her too. Sansa glanced up to smile at him, openly showing her joy, before she suddenly remembered what had happened yesterday.

‘Sansa? What did you just remember?’

Sansa frowned down at her plate, hunger forgotten. ‘Did you see my memory?’

‘No. I didn’t want to be carried from your thoughts. Is it important?’ Petyr sounded curious.

‘Actually, yes. Something weird happened yesterday.’

‘Can you show me? Just remember what happened, and your mind will take me there. We will both see the memory, and I will be here when it’s over,’ he promised.

‘Ok,’ Sansa thought back to yesterday morning, when Dobby had tried to warn her against some mysterious danger, and suddenly it was as though she was reliving the experience. The entire conversation with Dobby replayed in her mind, everything so vivid it felt as though she had fallen back in time. When she came back to herself, she was just sitting there, staring down at the food on her plate, the students around her chattering and stuffing their faces as if nothing unusual had happened.

Petyr’s thoughts filled her once more, concern evident. Sansa waited while he absorbed the information, thinking quickly, feeling an occasional tug as he searched his memories. The name Varys popped up several times, and, after several minutes of frustration, he seemed to give up.

‘I’m afraid I don’t recognize the house elf, but I know someone who might. I will contact him during dinner.’ Petyr’s thoughts drifted on another tangent for a moment before focusing on her again. ‘Once I know who the elf works for, I might have a better idea about the reason for his visit. I suspect the elf wasn’t acting of his own accord.’

Sansa frowned down at her uneaten lunch. ‘But he seemed so genuine in his concern for me.’

‘And yet it was clear that the elf was allowed to do very little without his master’s knowledge, or risk punishment. The elf might mean you no harm, but he likely had little choice but to do as his master wished. It is my hope that it was simply a joke. The other alternative, that you are truly in danger, is obviously far less desirable.’ His thoughts suddenly became stern. ‘But, I want you to be on your guard, just in case. I will keep an eye on you when I can, but I unfortunately have obligations that take me away from Hogwarts from time to time.’

‘I suppose you are right,’ she acquiesced. ‘I will be careful.’

‘Good. Now, focus on your lunch, sweetling. You don’t have much time left.’

Chapter Text

Petyr left the Great Hall about ten minutes before lunch ended, needing time to think before his Potions lesson this afternoon. Sansa had been extremely reluctant to let him go, but didn’t push the matter, knowing they would see each other again soon. He actually found he was grateful that she knew his thoughts, something he never thought possible. When it came to Sansa Stark, it seemed all of the rules he had sought to live by crumbled at her touch, her smile, her words. And he didn’t even mind. She would be both his ruin, and his salvation. His muse and his worst distraction. His fire and ice. A girl that somehow brought harmony to so many contradictions. And she was his.

But something was threatening that harmony. Petyr wasn’t sure whether to take the house elf’s warning seriously, but felt it better not to risk leaving the matter uninvestigated. He wished Sansa had told him of it this morning, so that he might have spent lunch in search of answers, but her mind had clearly been otherwise occupied at the time. Those nightmares had been truly frightening, and he didn’t blame her for getting so upset. To relive your parents’ deaths over and over again would be unimaginably painful. And her other dream had been similarly unsettling. The thought of being kissed by the cold steel of Ice again, and succumbing to its curse, gripped his heart like a vice, despite the fact that the likelihood of such things was next to nothing.

When Petyr reached his office, he sent a message to Varys using his patronus, hoping the eunuch would be available to talk during dinner. If he didn’t receive a reply before then, he resolved to track him down anyway. He would prefer not to travel tonight if he could help it, but it likely would be necessary. Varys had a habit of ignoring him in an attempt to gain leverage, and usually Petyr chose to find out what he needed without the eunuch’s help rather than seek him out. But it couldn’t be helped tonight. He needed answers fast, and if anyone knew who the house elf served, it would be Varys. Varys had always had a strange kinship with house elves, and Petyr knew that he used that connection to ferret out information that he could put to his own agendas. There was little that went on in the wizarding world of the United Kingdom that Varys didn’t know of. Varys’ knowledge even surpassed Petyr’s on many occasions, a fact which Varys never failed to remind him of.

Petyr heard the sounds of students filing into the Potions classroom through his office door and sighed, wishing he didn’t have a class to teach. He suspected Sansa might reach out to join his mind again when he entered the classroom, but knew he must block her for the duration of the lesson. She needed to focus on learning, and he had to think about what he would tell Varys in a few hours.

The class settled into silence when Petyr entered the room, listening intently as he encouraged them to look through their Potions books and choose one of the recipes to attempt today on their own, using what they had learned in previous lessons.

“Pay attention to your instincts as you work, and if they nudge you in a direction that is slightly different from the book’s, follow them, and see what happens. Please use your judgement in such cases, and do not deviate too far from the recipe without asking me first. And refrain from sampling your completed potions. While you are still experimenting with what works, it is unwise to test the potion’s effects unless you are sure it has been brewed correctly. I do have plenty of bezoars in case of accidental poisonings, but I would rather not have to use one.”

As Petyr finished speaking, and made to return to his desk, he felt Sansa’s familiar presence in his mind. He had not been listening to her thoughts for once, and had avoided looking at her, hoping to resist the temptation. But when she accessed his mind, he reached out to touch hers again instinctively.

‘Petyr?’ Sansa sounded hurt.

He immediately felt guilty, but knew he must remain resolved. ‘Sweetling, I need time to think. I sent a message to a contact at the Ministry concerning the house elf, and if I am able to meet him during dinner, it is necessary to prepare. It is better if we do not listen to one another’s thoughts for the moment. I must focus.’

‘Ok. I understand.’ Sansa raised her head to look up at him from her potions book, a small smile shaping her lips, before she lowered her gaze again.

Petyr wished her good luck before severing the connection, and she retreated as well. The classroom filled with the sounds of students prepping their various potions; fires crackling, knives chopping assorted ingredients, liquids bubbling and churning in their cauldrons, and the rustle of parchment as some consulted their books. He pondered the problem at hand as he watched them work, noting their progress when his current train of thought reached a road block.

It was difficult to concentrate with so much activity occurring around him, but at last he reached a satisfactory solution. Petyr might have managed it far sooner had Sansa not been among his students; it was nearly impossible to keep his eyes from fixing on her as she brewed her potion. She kept biting her lip and furrowing her brow in a way that was somehow intoxicating to him, and it took every ounce of self control he had to prevent himself from slipping into her mind to learn what vexed her so.

When the class ended, Petyr assured Sansa that he would return for their lesson, and stepped back into his office. Finding no signs of a response, he cursed and headed over to the fireplace, using the Floo Network to travel to the Ministry. Pressed for time, he chose not to bother with brushing the soot that had accumulated on his clothes in the journey, and walked quickly to the lifts. He only hoped that Varys was in his office on Level One, rather than in the Department of Mysteries. Only Unspeakables were allowed in that department, and the journey would be for naught if Varys refused to leave its mysterious depths. Petyr hated the Department of Mysteries, and the Unspeakables that worked within. The whole lot of them were most intolerable. Varys most of all.

Oh, Petyr still found a way to learn much of went on behind those doors, but it was annoyingly difficult. And the smugness of the Unspeakables was even more grating. But, he knew that in his case, at least, their smug looks weren’t entirely warranted. His knowledge was far more expansive than he ever cared to let on. Only Varys suspected the truth of his character. But, seeing as Petyr knew as much of the eunuch as the eunuch knew of him, they remained at an uneasy truce, never trusting one another, or relying on the other without extreme need, but never betraying the other entirely either.

Varys had a troubled past that actually outpaced Petyr’s, born in a foreign land torn apart by war, his father murdered soon after his conception, and his mother dying in childbirth. When Varys was about six years old, a Dark warlock visited his orphanage, drawn by the strange tales surrounding the boy. Like any other child born with magical abilities, Varys seemed a magnet for peculiar happenings, and it was even whispered that the boy could read minds. The orphanage was nearly destitute, barely staying afloat, and scared of the boy’s unnatural tendencies. Despite the warning bells that rang in their minds concerning the warlock’s character, they were desperate to rid themselves of Varys, and willingly relinquished the boy into his care. No matter that Varys was quiet, and well behaved, a model orphan in nearly all respects. He was different than most, and nothing scared people more than differences, no matter how trivial they might actually be in the scope of things.

Unfortunately for young Varys, the warlock had no intention of raising him as his own. He had chosen Varys specifically for his magical talents, and the boy was subjected that very night to a ritual born of some of the darkest magics known to wizardkind. The warlock castrated Varys, and nearly succeeded in his dark purpose that night, until a miscalculation caused the magic to backfire on the caster. Varys used his own ingenuity and natural talent to escape that night from the horrors that claimed the Dark warlock, and began life on the run, searching everywhere for clues of the magical world. He watched everyone and everything from the shadows, using his innate talent for Legilimency to absorb secrets that he might trade for life’s necessities. Eventually, Varys crossed paths with the Targaryens during their travels, who noted the boy’s worth, and took him in, using his talents when they were prominent in the Ministry. Varys became a permanent fixture in the Ministry’s upper levels, remaining long after the Targaryens left, his wealth of information indispensable despite questionable loyalties.

Petyr reached Varys’ office and knocked once before letting himself in, not willing to wait for permission. The bald man looked up from his work with a simpering smile and sat back in his seat, readjusting his flamboyant silks.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” Varys asked, expression smug.

“I would appreciate a response in the future. I cannot imagine that a eunuch has much to occupy his time, other than work, that would keep him from replying to urgent requests,” Petyr said, taking a seat.

“Oh, it wasn’t lack of time. I felt there wasn’t any need to reply. I knew you would come regardless of my answer.”

Petyr fought to keep his expression neutral, taking care to ensure his mind was impenetrable. Occlumency was an essential around one such as Varys. It wouldn’t do for the eunuch to know his mind at any time, let alone now. “I am flattered. Such a conclusion could only be drawn if you had taken the time to get to know me.”

“Don’t be. You are not unique, Littlefinger. I make sure I know everyone well of any importance.” Varys clasped his hands in his lap, clearly enjoying their banter.

“You wound me. But, I have little time to indulge in our usual battle of wits tonight. I must return to Hogwarts as soon as possible. I have a private lesson to attend to.”

Varys giggled. “Enjoying teaching that much, are you? My, you are a busy man. But, for you to visit me tonight, leaving Hogwarts expressly for the purpose, the matter must be of great importance.”

Petyr bit back his frustration. “Yes. As I’m sure you know, I am head of Slytherin house, and my students occasionally come to me with problems. Most are simple matters of bullying or late homework, but a student came to me today with something far more unusual. A house elf has visited her with cryptic warnings, and the student is afraid for her personal safety. As the head of her house, I am obligated to investigate such things, to see if the warnings have any merit. Since you refused to answer my correspondence, I was forced to come to you.”

“I find your concern for the student touching. However I don't see why it necessitated immediate action. In all likelihood it is merely a prank.”

“Were it any other student, I would be inclined to agree. But the student in question has reason to be concerned for her safety,” Petyr replied, tone not conveying his unease at revealing enough information for Varys to ascertain the student’s identity. If possible, he had hoped to conceal Sansa’s involvement, but it seemed it couldn’t be helped.

The eunuch’s eyes lit up. “Ah, so we are speaking of Sansa Stark? She is in Slytherin, is she not? You suspect Death Eaters are making further attempts at the girl's life?”

“It is possible. I felt it best to investigate nonetheless.”

“And your interests in protecting the girl have nothing to do with any lingering feelings for her mother?” Varys’ features betrayed his amusement at the thought.

Petyr kept his face impassive as he replied, “If I knowingly put The Wolf Who Lived in danger, I can hardly expect to keep my post at Hogwarts. Nor my positions here at the Ministry.”

Varys gave him a knowing look. “Deflection at its finest. Very well. I suppose you are hoping I might know where this mysterious house elf works? Unable to find the information on your own this time?”

Petyr chose to ignore the jibe. “The house elf is called Dobby.”

Varys’ eyes flickered in surprise. “The Malfoys.”

“He works for the Malfoys?” Petyr sat up straighter, feeling relieved. It would make sense. The Malfoy boy had asked Sansa out a few days ago, only to be rejected. He likely sent his house elf to toy with her, in retaliation for the hurt she had caused him.

“Yes. Quite an unfortunate situation. The Malfoys are quite cruel to Dobby. I never learn much from our meetings. The poor creature has been conditioned to punish himself whenever he disobeys his masters,” Varys mused.

Petyr stood and walked to the door, knowing he likely had little time left before Sansa arrived at his office. “Your cooperation would be appreciated in the future. My students’ wellbeing surely falls into a similar category as your sympathy for the innocent. I do not have the time to make unscheduled visits to the Ministry.”

“Am I to assume that all of our future dealings will concern your students then?” Varys asked, tone disbelieving.

Petyr chose not to reply, and left, heading for the lift. When he stepped from the grate in his office back at Hogwarts, he was unsurprised to see Sansa curled up on his couch, fast asleep, a book clutched to her chest. Either she had left dinner early, or he had spent far more time than he had meant to at the Ministry. He didn’t blame her for falling asleep, knowing how badly she must have slept last night, and only hoped that her dreams had not turned nightmarish again.

Taking a seat on the floor next to where she lay on the couch, he ran a hand through her soft hair, admiring the glints of gold the candlelight brought out in the fiery strands. He wasn’t sure if he should wake her or simply let her sleep, torn between her rancor at missing their ‘lesson’ and the rest he knew she needed. But when he wasn’t able to resist tucking the errant strands of hair that had fallen across her face behind her ear, her eyes fluttered open, and his internal struggle was proven unnecessary.

Sansa caught his hand, linking her fingers with his, smiling sleepily at him. “You’re back.”

“Yes.” Petyr checked his watch. “I am sorry I kept you waiting, sweetling.”

She sat up, tugging on his hand so that he would rise and join her on the couch, snuggling into him when he acquiesced. “Did you find out what you needed?”

“I did.” Petyr dropped a kiss on the top of her head, breathing in her lemon and pomegranate scented shampoo. “Our fears are likely unfounded. Dobby works for the Malfoys.”

Sansa rubbed the sleep from her eyes and yawned. “The Malfoys?” Her brow scrunched as she thought it over. “So Draco sent him? Because I didn’t want to go out with him?”

He nodded. “That was my assumption as well.”

She scowled, shaking her head. “Boys. Like I wanted to hurt him. I didn’t intentionally make him like me.”

Petyr chuckled. “No, but can you blame the boy? Who could resist your charms. As for his reaction, he is young. People do foolish things when they are in love, and youth only adds to their reckless behavior.”

“He and I are the same age, and I would never punish someone for rejecting me,” Sansa insisted.

“It is said that girls mature faster than boys,” he mused. “Though his reaction is likely born more of character than a lack of maturity.”

She studied his face, pondering his words, and he realized that he hadn’t slipped into her mind again, and quickly remedied that mistake, smiling when he heard her grumbling about the immaturity of boys her own age. When Sansa noticed his presence in her mind, she reached out to his, and their conversation continued without words.

‘I suppose in this instance our age difference has its advantages then,’ Petyr pointed out.

She laughed. ‘Somehow I don’t think you were ever as ridiculous as the boys I go to school with.’

‘You forget that I once nearly died for unrequited love.’

Sansa sobered. ‘True. I suppose everyone has been young and foolish at one point in their life. And I might be living proof of that in this very moment.’

Petyr shook his head and leaned forward to kiss her. ‘Young you may be. But you are far from foolish.’

‘No? I have fallen for a man nearly twice my age. What is that, if not incredibly stupid on my part?’ She smiled against his mouth, her amusement at her own predicament softening the blow of her words.

‘If this were a contest, I would surely win it uncontested, a fact you are well aware of. This relationship is ill-advised on both of our parts, but as long as we both want it, I cannot bring myself to care. Besides, matters of the heart are not exceptional measures of a person’s mental acuity. You have so much potential, Sansa. Do not sell yourself short.’

Sansa chose not respond, only kissing him harder, pressing herself closer, her thoughts singular in their want. And Petyr lost himself to the feel of her soft lips, her smooth skin brushing against his, her hands roaming his body as they succumbed again to desire. And though he was not a spiritual man, he thanked whatever higher power had brought the red wolf to him. He had spent many years chasing after what he wanted, only to have that need unexpectedly filled from the most unlikely of places. And while his ambition had not faltered, he knew that without her by his side, no goal would ever be as sweet. She was his equal in every aspect, and together, they would accomplish far more than he ever could have dreamed. Together, they would have everything.

Chapter Text

Tuesday, September 15th-mid October

 

Tuesday dawned into a chilly and windswept day, as autumn made its presence known. Sansa dressed more warmly than usual, adding a sweater to her school uniform and thick tights, conscious of the trek she would have to make this morning through the grounds to Herbology. As she readied herself for the day, she thought back to the conversation she’d had with Petyr last night, mood turning glum. She had asked him if he knew of any way to join their minds permanently, so that they might stay connected despite distance, but he hadn’t known of any methods to accomplish it. He had reassured her that he would look into it, but she knew he had little time to devote to researching such things. It would likely fall to her to take initiative and scour the library for answers.

It brought Sansa some comfort that Petyr signed a note for her, giving her permission to search the Restricted Section at leisure, under the guise of her Alchemy lessons. If she failed to find what she wanted in the rest of the library, perhaps she might find something of use there. After her lessons, she made camp in a deserted corner of the library and pulled several books on Legilimency from the shelves to peruse, but by the time Madame Pince came to usher her out for the night, she hadn’t made any headway.

Frustrated, and feeling a headache building, Sansa returned to her dormitory and attempted to work through some of the homework she had neglected earlier, before finally giving it up as a lost cause and turning in for the night. As she drifted off to sleep, she thought she heard a strange voice whispering softly, but assumed she must be imagining things in her weariness, and thought no more of it.

When Sansa woke the next morning she felt more well rested than she usually did whenever she was separated from Petyr. He had attended lunch yesterday, so that they could share their thoughts as they ate, which certainly helped, but she also suspected that keeping busy had prevented her mood from souring, as it had a tendency to do when they had little contact. Perhaps it was boon that she had something to occupy her time other than schoolwork and friends. If she managed to find what she was looking for soon, then maybe it would be best to join some clubs to keep her spirits from lowering. There was always Spew. Margaery was quite passionate about it, and it might be nice to get to know Hermione a little better. Though she would have to remember to call it S.P.E.W. and not Spew. Most of the members (well, Hermione anyway) hated it when you referred to their name that way.

The days settled into a routine of sorts, traditional lessons, time with friends and her direwolf, homework, Legilimency research, and more unorthodox lessons with Petyr every Monday and Wednesday after dinner, and the occasional Saturday or Sunday as well. Sansa was progressing rapidly in her Legilimency skills, and was soon able to navigate easily to his memories and sift through them at her leisure, though he never let her see more than one memory per lesson. She had even learned the pathways to the other areas of the brain, and was working on determining the truth from falsehoods, in preparation for real world applications. Petyr had also encouraged her to start trying to slip into the minds of her fellow students, but as of yet she had refrained from doing so. She knew that his mind was far easier for her to penetrate than anyone else’s, because he was willingly letting her in, and that to truly develop her abilities she must broaden her subjects, but she felt uncomfortable invading other people’s privacy. Soon, her curiosity and determination to hone her skills would likely get the better of her, but for now she would wait.

Sansa’s research into joining their minds had culminated in multiple dead ends, and eventually she gave it up as a lost cause for the moment, hoping Petyr would find something whenever he had the chance to look into it. So, instead, she decided to join Margaery at a Spew meeting, hoping to distract herself from how much she missed Petyr on days when they couldn’t meet. Her experience with Dobby the house elf had touched her deeply, and she had always liked the house elves employed at the Arryn household. They had practically raised her, after all, with her uncle leaving the bulk of her care to Lysa, due to his duties at the Ministry, and Lysa passing her off to the help. Unfortunately, she had never managed to get too close to her caretakers, as her aunt forbade her any more contact with the house elves than was strictly necessary, but they had always been there for her nonetheless, unseen and unheard, but there.

At the meetings Sansa had the chance to get to know more of her fellow students, notably Hermione, who had started Spew (no, S.P.E.W., she must remember. No matter that Ron and most of the school referred to it as Spew, Hermione always was quick with a dark look if anyone dared mention the name), Ron and Harry, who Hermione had strong armed into joining, and Ginny Weasley, who had joined in part to spend more time with Harry after they began dating. Luna Lovegood (a fifth year Ravenclaw often called Loony Lovegood due to her eccentricities, and her belief in Nargles, and the Rotfang Conspiracy, among other things), Neville Longbottom (an accident prone sixth year Gryffindor with a talent for Herbology), Hannah Abbott (a sixth year Hufflepuff who clearly had a massive crush on Neville), Ernie MacMillan (a slightly pompous, but well meaning sixth year Hufflepuff who liked Hannah), and Susan Bones (a sixth year Hufflepuff close to Hannah and Margaery) were also in the club. They welcomed her into the fold generously, responding with outrage when she informed them of her aunt’s treatment of their house elves. However, she refrained from mentioning Dobby to them, knowing that revealing her encounter with him, and what she had learned from it, would only lead to trouble and unwanted questions.

As Spew (Hermione be damned, it took far too much time to say it properly) often met on Saturday evenings, it gave Sansa the perfect distraction whenever Petyr was forced to head to the Ministry on the weekends. Instead of wallowing in self pity, she could spend the time with new friends, working towards a cause she was growing passionate about. She and Margaery had attempted to get Arya to join as well, but Arya refused. Arya hated politics and couldn’t understand why it was necessary to use subtlety and finesse to accomplish a goal when it was much faster to just use brute force. Beyond that, she was quickly falling behind in her studies due to frequent Quidditch practices and a bad habit of procrastination, always choosing goofing off rather than working on schoolwork.

Sansa didn’t entirely blame Arya for not joining Spew; the homework had only increased as September turned into October, and though she was diligent in completing it as soon as she could, it took more and more time to finish everything her teachers assigned. Lockhart kept asking them to write essays depicting his heroic acts, offering signed copies of his books or photographs for the best ones, and McGonagall and Flitwick were now insisting that they perform all spells nonverbally and assigned extra reading for each new spell they were set to learn. Even Hagrid had been adding to their workload; he had begun teaching them about dragons and had actually managed to gain permission from the school to hatch a dragon egg under the supervision of two former students who worked at a dragon reservation in Romania. In preparation for the two week long visit that was scheduled for early December, he had insisted they read what was probably the entire selection of books available at the Hogwarts library.

And Potions had grown increasingly difficult as well. They were now learning how to brew their own antidotes to poisons, using the concept of Golpalott’s Third Law. Many of the students were struggling, despite the fact that Sansa felt Petyr had prepared them well, each lesson slowly guiding them towards doing more than simply following a recipe in a book. Even she had to work harder than normal to achieve the results she wanted, but it wasn’t due to poor instruction but rather the difficult concept. Their lessons had reached a tipping point where creation had reached the forefront, and not everyone had the skill to apply what they learned effectively.

With each success Sansa had, whether from Potions or Legilimency, she was rewarded with the smirk she had fallen in love with. She wasn’t sure when it had happened, perhaps it might have been one of those love at first sight instances she had always read about, but she knew it was true. They hadn’t said the words yet, but she sensed Petyr felt the same way, if only from the way he sometimes carefully guarded his thoughts when they were alone together. She didn’t mind, as she was doing the same thing. Just as she was still reluctant to go all the way physically, she wasn’t ready to do the same emotionally. But with each day that passed, that barrier that kept her from giving herself fully slowly melted from the flames he had sparked within her.

The day that Sansa decided she was finally ready, ready to give herself fully to Petyr in every possible way, started innocently enough. It was a Wednesday, midway through October, and they had just finished her Legilimency lesson before ridding themselves of their cumbersome clothes and giving in to their desire, stopping just short of the final act as usual, using hands and mouths instead to satisfy their urges. She lay draped across his body afterwards, contentedly listening to the thrum of his heart, when she heard a strange disembodied voice speak.

So hungry, for so long… Let me rip, tear, kill….

Sansa jerked upright, glancing wildly around. “Who’s there?”

Petyr sat up as well, looking confused. “What?”

She continued to glance around the room, frowning as she strained to hear the voice again. But there was nothing. “I heard someone say something.”

“I didn’t hear anything.” He moved off of the bed and pulled on his clothes, looking concerned. “What did they say?”

Sansa bit her lip, feeling uneasy as she told him what she had heard.

Petyr sat back down on the bed next to her. “Not a student then, I’d imagine.” He furrowed his brow, and she followed his thoughts as he worked through the possibilities. “I didn’t hear anything, so perhaps you tapped into someone else’s mind. But unless the school is keeping prisoners and refusing to feed them, I cannot imagine who it might be.”

She stared down at the sheets pooling in her lap, twisting her hands, stiffening as she recalled a night nearly a month ago, when she had heard the voice before. But that had only been a dream…

Following her thoughts as usual, Petyr reached out to pull her close. “Are you certain you weren’t dreaming just a moment ago?”

Sansa shook her head. “I’m certain. You would have noticed, anyway.”

“I was rather lost in my own thoughts, but I suppose I would have. A pity, as it would have easily explained everything… Maybe you heard Filch or something. Sounds like something he might say.”

She laughed in spite of herself. “I don’t think he is that uncivilized.”

“Then you’ve clearly not had much contact with the man. The man takes pleasure in torturing students. He has been at the school since before I was a student, and the rumors that he used to hang students by their ankles and wrists from the ceiling are not unfounded. I am sure your friend Arya can tell you that he often grumbles that Dumbledore won’t let him use those punishments anymore,” Petyr replied.

Sansa was horrified. “You can’t be serious.”

“I wish I was joking.” Petyr shook his head in disgust. “But I hope it was him that you heard tonight. Maybe he’s lurking about in the dungeons, cleaning. Let me know if you hear the voice again, just in case. I will keep watch for anything unusual happening around the school, as always.”

She kissed him, grateful for his reassurance. “It probably was Filch. Maybe he missed dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at mealtimes, so he probably hunts for his own food in the forest or something.”

He chuckled. “Maybe.”

They sat there for a moment in silence, Sansa leaning against Petyr’s chest as she toyed absently with his open shirt. Her eyes traced his scar, and she remembered when she had first laid eyes upon the jagged memento of his past. So much had happened that first night. They had decided to give in to their attraction for one another, consequences be damned. He had asked her if she was sure she wanted this, reminded her that he was nearly twice her age. Nearly 32, he had said.

“Petyr?” she raised her eyes to meet his as a thought suddenly occurred to her. “When’s your birthday?”

Petyr raised his eyebrow at the question before answering, hesitation clear in his voice, “Halloween.”

Sansa froze, a lump forming in her throat at the unsuspected reminder of painful events. Halloween. A holiday that had always been so difficult for her. The anniversary of the night her family had been nearly obliterated. When she finally spoke, her voice was small and deflated, all excitement at learning the date vanished. “Oh.”

His hands reached to cup her face as he kissed her brow, before pulling her into his embrace, her head dropping onto his shoulder. “I’m sorry, my love.”

Despite the ache that had settled in her from the memory, Sansa suddenly felt joy like never before, filling her completely until it eclipsed all else. She smiled into his shoulder as Petyr realized what he had just said, and warred with himself over the repercussions of speaking without thinking, thoughts rampant with insecurity. Not wanting him to suffer a moment longer than she had to, she raised her head and kissed him hard, repeating three little words over and over again in her mind as she did so. ‘I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.’

His joy matched her own, and they clung to one another, mouths hungry, pulses throbbing. Sansa reached for the edges of his shirt, intent on sliding the material from his shoulders, when he pulled away with a groan.

“Unless you have a plan to explain your absence tonight, I’m afraid you need to head back to your common room.”

Sansa matched his groan, unable to contain her frustration. She was finally ready and curfew had reared its ugly head. Expletives littered her thoughts as she found her clothes and dressed, Petyr watching her with amusement, resignation and worthy attempts at self restraint coloring his thoughts.

They parted with a change to their usual goodbyes, the pleasure of their whispered ‘I love you’s’ helping assuage their dissatisfaction at having to separate. When Sansa returned to the Slytherin common room, her eyes caught a notice on the bulletin board, noting that their first Hogsmeade weekend was to be Saturday, October 31st. Halloween. So, Petyr’s birthday was a Saturday…

She got ready for bed, mind working overtime. Halloween had always been difficult to bear, for as long as she could remember. Everyone else spent the day celebrating the holiday, carving jack-o-lanterns, decking out their properties in shades of orange and black, dressing up, gorging themselves on sweets. But, try as she might, she never could fully enjoy the festivities. Sansa had never known her parents, or her brother, not truly, so the pain she felt was more a reminder of what might have been than anything, but that didn’t make it any easier to handle.

The thought struck her that it had been Petyr’s birthday when his childhood love had been murdered, and she wondered how he had managed to overcome such sorrow. He had told her that he had stopped loving her mother the day he had nearly died, but her death must have hurt him nonetheless. Perhaps the day was hard for him as well. But, Sansa didn’t want it to be that way. Halloween was supposed to be a celebration, a day where the boundaries between the magical and Muggle worlds were blurred, and anyone could be anything.

It was time to remake Halloween in her life. October 31st would no longer stand out to her as a day of tragedy. Instead, Sansa would celebrate Petyr’s birthday with him, and finally give herself fully to the man she loved. It would be a day of firsts, of beginnings, of commitment and love and everything right with the world. While every other student was enjoying the delights of Hogsmeade, she would be indulging in something far more carnal and wicked. She had a feeling it would be a treat.

Chapter Text

 

mid October to October 21st

 

Sansa spent the next few days agonizing over what to get Petyr for his birthday. Her first instinct was to paint his portrait and frame it, but she had no place to work that wouldn’t draw unwanted questions. She wished that Hogsmeade weekends were far more frequent, so that she could search the shops in the little village for inspiration, but she supposed he wouldn’t want sweets or anything you might find in a joke shop. A book would likely work, but she hadn’t the faintest clue as to what he liked, and anyway, his collection was so large that in all likelihood he would already have whatever she picked out.

Frustration mounting at her predicament, her mood was not improved when she realized that she would have to be careful not to think of gift ideas whenever Petyr was nearby. She could simply ask him not to listen to her thoughts, but then he would likely suspect her reasons for wanting privacy, and who knew if he would actually heed her wishes or snoop anyway. Sansa trusted him, but she was sure he wouldn’t be able to resist when it came to something like this. She knew she was already acting somewhat oddly when they joined minds during mealtimes, carefully controlling her thoughts whenever they sought to wander, and that it hadn’t escaped his notice. But she planned on asking if they could spend the day together on Halloween soon, and hoped that he would think that was the only reason her thoughts were more guarded than usual.

Petyr had started attending to his duties at the Ministry on Saturdays, knowing she would be busy at her weekly Spew meetings with friends, freeing up Sunday evenings for the occasional rendezvous. But this weekend he was far too busy to spare any time to meet, and for once Sansa didn’t mind. She needed time to figure out his gift, and Halloween was fast approaching, the month already halfway over. She wished she could ask Margaery’s advice on the matter. Margaery was the queen of thoughtful gifts, and had plenty of experience in finding gifts for significant others. But, of course, Margaery wasn’t supposed to know about her relationship with Petyr. Being unable to confide in her friends and ask for advice was one of the many unfortunate drawbacks of having an affair with her professor. She couldn’t wait until she graduated and there was no longer any need for secrecy.

After Sansa finished all of her homework on Friday, she picked up one of the discarded Daily Prophets in the library and flipped through it, hoping for inspiration. She mostly ignored the articles, choosing instead to study the ads. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans… No. Quality Quidditch Supplies… She doubted Petyr had any interest in Quidditch. Ollivander’s… Well, he already had a wand, though, come to think of it, she had never really gotten a good look at it. Making a mental note to ask him about his wand next time she was alone with him, she continued scanning the paper. Perhaps she should find some catalogues instead. A luxury quill might fit the bill, if she found the right one. She knew mockingbird feathers would likely be far too small for a quill, but perhaps if the feather was magically enlarged it might suit. Maybe she could find a shop to commission a custom made quill from.

As she pondered her options, she noticed Jeyne sitting at a nearby table, bent over what looked like the old diary Sansa had given her weeks ago. The girl was looking a bit worse for wear, clothes rumpled, hair hanging limply, dark shadows under her eyes. Sansa wondered if maybe the increased workload of their classes was getting to Jeyne. She remembered the girl breaking down a few times last year when they were all preparing for their O.W.L.s. Just as she was thinking about going over to check on Jeyne, Joffrey entered the library, and all thoughts of the girl’s well-being fled from her mind.

Sansa quickly gathered her things and ducked out of sight before Joffrey had the chance to notice her, making her way to the closest exit. She had no idea why Joffrey would be in the library, she doubted he had ever so much as cracked a book in his life, let alone attempted any homework, but she wasn’t willing to stick around to find out. Dinner was only an hour or so away, so she returned to the Slytherin common room to deposit her school things, and set to work on a few letters to popular wizarding shops.

First, Sansa wrote to Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop in Hogsmeade, to inquire whether they filled any custom orders, detailing exactly what she wanted and offering a price range they could work within. She was slightly worried that they might deduce the recipient from the nature of her order, and wonder why she was giving her teacher a gift, but she thought she could explain it as a thank you gift for her extra lessons if anyone took the time to ask about it. Next, she jotted down a letter to Twilfitt and Tattings in Diagon Alley, requesting their catalogue. Perhaps a scarf or tie might work if she failed to find someone to make the quill. She could always hand embroider the material with mockingbirds taking flight. Finally, she wrote to Honeydukes, and ordered some Toothflossing Stringmints. She wasn’t certain, but her memories of the sweet seemed to match up with the mint she always tasted whenever she kissed Petyr, and she thought he would appreciate the gesture, even if they weren’t the source.

After the letters were finished, Sansa sealed them with the direwolf of her house and set off for the Owlery. The trek was long and arduous, but at least she didn’t have to head there too frequently, having very few people to write to. Her Aunt Lysa certainly wouldn’t want mail from her, and anytime Sansa wanted to talk to her Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Rhaegar, she simply helped Arya respond to their letters (though Arya rarely wrote to them unless Sansa insisted. Arya wasn’t much for writing letters). She selected three of the school owls and tied a scroll to each of their legs before sending them off on their journeys and heading back down to the Great Hall for dinner.

The room was already bustling with activity when Sansa arrived, students and teachers eating their fill of roast chicken, salad, yams, and freshly baked bread. Arya and Margaery waved at her from the Hufflepuff table, and she joined them gladly, slipping in between them on the bench. Arya was too busy eating to say much, but Margaery greeted Sansa cheerfully as she served herself and began to eat. Despite her relationship troubles, Margaery had been in better spirits lately, in part because she was throwing herself into the work she was doing for Spew. She and Hermione had started visiting the kitchens regularly to talk with the house elves, hoping to gain their trust enough so that they would reveal any grievances they had about their working conditions. It seemed Margaery was happiest when she was taking care of others, focusing on their plights rather than her own. The distraction probably didn’t hurt either.

Once Arya had finally stopped eating, long after the other two girls had finished (“What, I’ve been training hard!” she insisted), they all retreated to the library to work and talk until curfew separated them for the night. Sansa spent the rest of the evening experimenting with various mockingbird designs in her sketchbook before turning in for the night, grateful for Lady’s warmth in the chill autumn had brought.

She was pleasantly surprised Sunday morning at breakfast when she received a letter back from the owner of Scrivenshaft’s, assuring her they were able to complete her request with no problem. They had included their price estimate, a sum far more agreeable than she had expected, and informed her that the order would arrive in a week’s time, so long as her payment was prompt. Sansa quickly wrote back a response and pulled the necessary funds from her purse, sending both back with the owl that had delivered the letter.

The catalogue from the clothing shop arrived Monday morning, and when she perused it during lunch, she found the most exquisite scarf that she felt would be perfect. The dark green was woven with threads of silver, and she thought it only wanted the addition of a few silvery mockingbirds at the ends. She knew that the quill and the Toothflossing Stringmints were more than enough, but she couldn’t help it. Her vault at Gringotts was overflowing with coin, the majority of her inheritance from her parents untouched. Sansa could afford to splurge on Petyr’s birthday gift, and then some.

The scarf was ordered that night, along with silver embroidery thread, and she only hoped it would arrive quickly. She didn’t have as much time as she would have liked to embellish the scarf, and she could only hope the result would match the vision she had in her mind. The only snag in her plan for Halloween left was whether or not Petyr would want to spend the day with her. As Halloween was a Saturday, it was very possible that he might be working despite the fact that it was his birthday. Sansa knew she should have asked him as soon as the idea had come to her, but she was worried he would say no, and that she would have to press the issue and spoil the significance of the night she hoped for in the process.

She finally gained the courage that Wednesday, with a little over a week left before Halloween. Their Legilimency lessons had already finished for the night, and they had celebrated her accomplishments in the usual fashion, Sansa struggling in her resolve to wait until the 31st for her first time. Afterwards she curled on her side, her back to Petyr’s chest, smiling as he rained kisses along her neck.

His movements halted as she fought to keep her thoughts from betraying her, and she felt a chuckle reverberate in his chest, tickling her back. “I suppose I should put you out of your misery?” he asked.

Sansa turned in his arms, frowning. “What?”

Petyr smiled at her, shaking his head. “You’ve made a noble effort, but I’m afraid I’ve caught on, sweetling. I’ve already requested the day off.”

She scowled at him. “And why didn’t you say something before?”

“You didn’t want me to know. I wasn’t planning on saying anything, but you seemed to be struggling to ask me. It was done out of kindness.”

Sansa rolled her eyes. “Uh huh. That’s completely evident from the smug look on your face and the fact that you were just laughing at my predicament.”

Petyr feigned a look of hurt. “You doubt me?”

She shook her head, smiling in spite of herself. “I don’t doubt that you were attempting to be kind, but your execution was definitely lacking. Maybe try not to be so smug next time. Or is that even possible for you?” she teased.

“Anything’s possible,” he smirked.

“So, how much do you know then?” Sansa asked, trying hard to keep her thoughts from revealing anything else.

Petyr looked at her for a moment, debating. She had retreated from his mind earlier that night, too intent on her own thoughts to listen to his, but she reached out again as he studied her.

‘Do you really want to know?’ he asked, sensing she was listening.

She considered it for a moment. ‘Maybe not.’

‘You know, if you want to shield me from certain thoughts in the future, I could always teach you Occlumency. I imagine you would pick it up as easily as you have done Legilimency.’

‘Or you could just butt out occasionally,’ she pointed out.

He laughed at that. ‘I would have if you had asked me, sweetling.’

Sansa raised her eyebrows at him disbelievingly, and then regretted it when a look of hurt flashed across his features.

‘I suppose I deserve that. You didn’t exactly invite me into your mind initially. But I would respect your privacy if you asked it of me.’ Petyr sounded far more vulnerable in this moment than Sansa was used to.

“Ok,” she said simply, before reaching to thread her fingers in his hair and pulling him to her until their lips met. When they parted she spoke again. “So we can spend Halloween together?”

Petyr nodded. “Yes. However, I think it’s best if we return for the feast, as our absence will be noticed. Your friends will likely want you to go to Hogsmeade though.”

“I thought maybe I could pretend to have a headache or something,” Sansa said. “Margaery and Arya know I sometimes sleep badly. It wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary, and they wouldn’t insist that I go to the hospital wing to get checked out.”
“That could work,” he mused. “Best send one of the other Slytherins to inform them though. Otherwise they might insist on staying behind with you.”

Sansa knew he was right. “Ok. What will we do? Stay here?”

“We could,” he agreed. “Or I could take you to my place in London. The Floo Network connects the fireplace in my office here to the one in my home, as well as the Ministry. It’s not my preferred method of travel, but you can’t apparate directly in or out of Hogwarts.”

She grinned at him, unable to hold back her excitement. “I would love to see your home.”

Petyr matched her expression and kissed her, pulling her close. When they parted that night, Sansa felt positively giddy with the prospect of visiting his home, and redefining what Halloween meant to the both of them in a manner most wicked indeed.

Chapter Text

October 22nd to October 31st

 

The days leading up to Halloween were nearly unbearable for Sansa, as she bemoaned the wait that seemed far longer than it really was. The sweets from Honeydukes arrived first, and then the scarf, and she spent much of her free time putting the finishing touches on the mockingbird accents she had added. She was grateful for the distraction the project provided, as the closer the day became, the more her nerves seemed to be getting the best of her. Sure, she had already done so much with Petyr, practically everything but the final deed that was essential to losing her virginity, and each act had come quite easily to her, but she couldn’t assuade her worries regardless.

Sansa wished yet again that she could confide in her friends, or Margaery at the very least. Arya would likely be of little help on the subject. But Sansa knew that Margaery had slept with George sometime at the beginning of last summer, before she had fallen for his twin brother. It would be wonderful to talk about her concerns with Margaery, and gain reassurance. But, she knew she couldn’t. Even knowing that Margaery clearly supported the idea of the two of them together, it would be unwise for Sansa to reveal her relationship with Petyr. She almost found herself wishing that the girl had already found out about the affair, as that would give her an excuse to come clean.

The thought gave Sansa the resolve to try using Legilimency on someone other than Petyr, but, to her intense frustration, it was far harder to slip into someone else’s mind when they weren’t opening themselves to the intrusion. She tried, time and time again, to gain access to Margaery’s mind, desperate to find out if her friend already knew of their secret, but every attempt failed miserably. Sansa suspected that her anxiety over the situation wasn’t helping matters. Sometimes the more effort you put into something, the more success resisted.

With only two days left before Halloween, the quill she had ordered finally arrived. When she opened the box to take a look at her custom order, she was thrilled. It had turned out far better than she could have imagined, the mockingbird feather magically enlarged and expertly crafted into a luxury quill of the highest standard. Glowing with triumph at her choice, Sansa carefully set it back in its wrappings and replaced the lid, before putting it in her trunk beside the mints and the box that contained the scarf.

October 31st finally dawned after one of the most fitful nights of sleep Sansa had ever had, her excitement and trepidation preventing her rest. She fought against her impulse to rise while the other girls were still sleeping, knowing that she must wait to get ready until after everyone had already left for Hogsmeade. Both Margaery and Arya would be most disappointed that she wouldn’t be joining them for the day, but she knew that they wouldn’t be angry at her either. They knew that she sometimes had terrible nightmares that kept her up at night, and only ever responded to her difficulties with sympathy and well meaning attempts to cheer her up. The girls also knew that sometimes Sansa just needed alone time to recuperate, and that her unwillingness to come down and inform them of her sleep deprived woes would signify such a need.

It felt nearly like an eternity before the other girls in her dormitory finally began to wake up and get ready for the day, chatting amiably about their plans in Hogsmeade. As it was the first weekend they were allowed to visit the village this school year, everyone would be taking advantage of the opportunity to get some fresh air and enjoy the change of scenery. Sansa stayed curled up in her four poster bed, stroking Lady’s soft fur, listening carefully, waiting. When several of the girls had already departed, Pansy Parkinson among them, Sansa heard Jeyne tell Daphne Greengrass that she would be along shortly, the sounds of the girl rummaging through her bureau evident through her bed hangings.

Sansa patted Lady on the head, dismissing her, and left the confines of her bed, carefully arranging her features into an expression of anguish. In truth, it wasn’t all too hard to pretend as though she had had a terrible night. She hadn’t exactly managed to get much sleep, and it likely showed.

“Jeyne?” she called out, making her voice waver as she spoke, tinting the name with a hint of uncertainty.

The girl paused in her movements, turning around as Sansa approached her. “Sansa? You look terrible!”

Sansa bit back her shock when she saw Jeyne. The girl looked nearly as awful as Sansa was pretending to feel. She thought about asking after Jeyne’s health, but it wouldn’t do to get into that now. Later, she resolved. “Yeah,” she said, giving a shaky laugh. “I imagine so. I didn’t have the best night.”

“Are you ok?” Jeyne asked, concerned.

“I will be. But I’m afraid I can’t make it to Hogsmeade today. My head is pounding terribly at the moment. Can you do me a favor? You’re going to Hogsmeade, right?”

Jeyne nodded. “Sure. What do you need?”

Sweet Jeyne. Always so eager to help. Even when she clearly needed help herself…. “Thanks. It isn’t much. I just need you to tell Arya and Margaery that I am not feeling well enough to come to Hogsmeade with them, and that they should head on without me,” Sansa said, rubbing her forehead and giving Jeyne a grateful smile.

“Of course,” the girl said, smiling back. “I do hope you feel better! Such a shame to be sick on Halloween. Hopefully you can still make the feast tonight.”

“Thanks. Have fun today.” Sansa gave Jeyne a little wave before returning to her bed, pulling the hangings shut around her again so that she wouldn’t have to keep up the pretense of being sick.

It thankfully wasn’t long before Jeyne and the rest of the girls filed out, off for a day of sweets and adventure, and once Sansa was sure the coast was clear, she gathered her shower things and headed for the bathroom. As she showered, she took particular care in shaving her legs and underarms, making sure she vanquished every stray hair. Afterwards, she dried off and wrapped herself in a towel before she left the bathroom to get dressed in the outfit she had planned out several days ago, a soft, deep blue fitted sweater with a neckline that fringed on the border of modesty and revealing more cleavage than was strictly necessary, and a short black skirt.

Once her hair and makeup were done to her satisfaction, Sansa packed the gifts in one of her larger handbags and slipped on a pair of blue flats that matched her sweater, before shrugging on a cloak. She carefully covered her hair with the hood, and ducked out of the girl’s dormitory and into the common room, keeping her head lowered and hastening her steps to the exit, hoping no one would notice her leave. Most everyone that could was likely on their way to Hogsmeade by now, and the rest were probably still lingering over breakfast or wandering about the castle and grounds, so only a few students were in the common room, but it was better to be careful anyway.

To her relief, Sansa encountered no one on the way to the Potions classroom, and she paused at the door to listen for a moment before letting herself inside. The door to Petyr’s office was slightly ajar, but she couldn’t hear any evidence of someone else’s presence, and when she pushed the door open, it was empty. Closing the door softly behind her, she walked over to the door to his private quarters and knocked, before trying the handle. To her surprise, it was unlocked, and she hesitated for a second before boldly opening it and stepping inside.

Petyr was seated at the table in his kitchen, brow furrowed as he read the Daily Prophet, a cup of coffee steaming beside him. As Sansa entered the room, he glanced up at her and smiled, before setting aside the paper and beckoning her to come closer. She closed the door and walked quickly over to where he sat, dropping her purse on the empty chair across from him on her way.

He reached out to take her hand, tugging her gently to rest on his lap, capturing her lips in a kiss. “Good morning, sweetling.”

Sansa grinned at him, excitement and nerves warring within her, each helping to temper the other whenever they threatened to overwhelm her. “Happy Birthday.”

“Happy Halloween,” he replied, matching her grin with one of his own.

“Very fitting that you born on Halloween,” Sansa mused. “That Muggles tradition called trick or treat about sums you up, I think.”

Petyr laughed. “Is that so? So anyone that refuses to give me a treat…”

“Receives a trick,” she supplied. “I may still have a lot to learn about you, but I think the description is apt.” Sansa paused, then amended, “Save for a few exceptions, of course.”

“Hmm, but my revenge goes far beyond redecorating someone’s home with lavatory paper and eggs,” he teased.

“I don’t doubt it, you wicked man.” Sansa laughed and kissed him.

Petyr kissed her back for a moment then pulled away. “Speaking of eggs, you must be hungry. Shall we go?”

Sansa nodded and slid off of his lap, grabbing her purse before following him back into his office. Petyr led her to the fireplace and sprinkled some Floo Powder into the flames, which turned a violent shade of green, before gesturing for her to join the fire. When she stepped into the hearth, the flames leaving her unharmed, he spoke, and she only caught fragments of an address before the flames whisked her away. She spun in the fire, tucking her elbows in so as not to bang them in travel, and closing her eyes and mouth to keep the ash away. Her revolutions began to slow, signaling that she was close to her destination, and she squinted through her eyelids, hoping that she would exit more gracefully than she usually did when traveling by Floo Powder, At least he would arrive after her. So if she did fall on her face, he wasn’t likely to know, if she picked herself up fast enough.

Finally, Sansa reached the right grate, and the spinning stopped, allowing her to stumble from the fire. She straightened up, coughing slightly, smoothing her skirt and her hair as she waited for Petyr to join her. Her wait wasn’t long, and she marveled at the grace with which he stepped from the fireplace, fixing his clothes as he gifted her with a smirk.

“Well?” he asked, eyes flicking around the room for a moment before resting on her, entreating.

Sansa was briefly confused before she remembered that this was the first time she had ever seen his house. In the chaos of traveling by Floo Powder, she had somehow forgotten where she had been traveling to. At his inquiry, she stopped fussing about her appearance and glanced around the room, taking in her surroundings. The room looked to be nearly an exact replica of the one she had just left behind, and she couldn’t contain the laughter that bubbled up in her chest.

“Did we actually leave Hogwarts, or are you putting me on?” she teased.

Petyr chuckled. “This is just my office, Sansa. I modeled my office at Hogwarts after this one. Though, if you look a bit closer, I think you will notice some key differences.”

She swept her gaze around the room again, taking in the details of the room better, and realized he was right. Rather than quill and parchment littering the desk, an object she recognized as a computer was prominent, along with several other Muggle inventions that she thought she had seen before but couldn’t place. Electric lamps and light fixtures took the place of candles, though they weren’t lit, as more than enough light poured in through the windows (another feature his office at Hogwarts was sorely lacking). There was even a large, flatscreen television hung above the fireplace.

“Muggle technology,” she said, wandering over to examine the computer.

“Yes.”

“But it never works right around magic. My Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Rhaegar love testing out Muggle inventions, but it is more of a novelty for them than anything. Magic makes the devices far too unreliable for anything more,” Sansa said, picking up a small device she thought she remembered, playing with the little wheel that spun. She couldn’t remember its name though. Something to do with a rodent. A rabbit?

“Usually that is the case. But I’ve always felt there must be a way around that little problem. It honestly didn’t take much time for me to find a way to make Muggle technology and magic coexist in perfect harmony,” Petyr said, slipping behind her to take a seat at his desk.

He took the object whose name eluded her at the moment (was it a rabbit? She couldn’t remember what Muggles called the damned thing) from her grasp and pressed a button on the computer, and she watched as the machine sprung to life. Petyr used the small device (screw it, she’d just call it a rabbit until he told her otherwise) to operate the computer, and she watched as a small arrow darted around, somehow following the movements of his hand clutching the rabbit, until the image on the computer changed. Sansa watched in awe as he wrote letters on the screen using something she was certain was called a keyboard, and the screen changed again, before he used the rabbit again to click on something.

Sansa started as the sounds of wolves howling filled her ears, matching the scene that played out in front of her of a wolf pack on the hunt. She hadn’t seen anything like this when she visited Winterfell. Her Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Rhaegar did little more than play with the buttons on the Muggle technology they acquired, and anything that happened was due to a happy accident rather than proficiency. Petyr took out his wand and cast silencio, and the noise stopped, though the wolves continued to frolic about.

“How did you do it?” she asked.

“It was simply a matter of finding the right spell. Or rather, creating the right spell. Once cast on any object that requires electricity, the spell shields the object from excess magical interference. Muggle technology works just fine until it comes into contact with a certain level of magical activity. The spell prevents that threshold from being reached. I’ve also been experimenting with spells that erase the limit entirely, but as of yet have been unsuccessful,” Petyr replied.

She shook her head at him in wonder. “Brilliant.”

He smirked at her and rose from his chair, a flick of his wand causing the computer to fall back into an inactive state, before he took her hand. “Would you like to see the rest of the house?”

Sansa nodded eagerly, a wide grin on her face. “I would.”

Chapter Text

October 31st

 

If Sansa had been expecting his house to be similar to his private quarters at Hogwarts, she was sorely mistaken. Though the decor was similar in many respects, it was of a much grander scale, in both expense and size, and mixed with Muggle influences in nearly every room. Everything was sleek and pristine, modern furnishings mixed with Muggle paintings that she suspected were from a different era than their own. The kitchen was packed with modern amenities, including a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, trash compactor, and about a zillion other devices that Sansa didn’t get a chance to ask about. Everywhere she looked she saw magic and technology intermingling, and though she had never before seen its like, somehow it worked.

Most of the basement was devoted to potion making, endless shelves packed with common and rare potion ingredients, cauldrons of various materials and sizes, cupboards filled with finished solutions, elixirs, and draughts. Sansa could have happily spent the rest of her days in that room, brewing to her heart’s content. It was with great reluctance that she left, Petyr reassuring her that she would be able to come back at some point to explore further.

The attic was unfurnished save for what was likely hundreds of wizarding paintings covering the walls, and before Sansa could follow Petyr into the room, he waved his wand and black coverings covered each of the portraits. Many of their subjects cried out in outrage or alarm, but he waved his wand again and the room went quiet. He held a finger to his lips and gestured for her to look around, before drawing her from the room again and closing the door.

As he lead them back downstairs, the tour finished, Sansa spoke, confused. “Why didn’t you want me to talk back there? And why do you have so many portraits if you are just going to cover them?”

“Let’s make some breakfast first,” he said, taking her back to the kitchen.

She frowned at him as he opened the fridge and grabbed a carton of eggs, some bacon, chopped green pepper and onions, and cheese. “Surely we can talk and make breakfast.”

Petyr chuckled as he picked up two potatoes and set them on a cutting board before grabbing two pans and placing them on the stove. “A fair point. Take a seat.” He gestured at the table, moving to sit beside her when she did so, placing her purse in one of the other empty chairs.

Sansa watched as the bacon drifted into the pan, and the potatoes skinned themselves, knives coming to chop them, seemingly of their own accord, before tearing her eyes from the scene to meet his.

“Tell me, Sansa. How much do you know of magical portraits?” he asked, still lazily directing the food to cook itself.

She furrowed her brow, thinking. “Well, the result depends on the skill of the painter, both in painting and enchantment. As well as the time and effort the subject puts into teaching their likeness. Some magical paintings fairly accurately reflect their living counterpart, both in appearance and manner. The portraits of former headmasters in Professor Dumbledore’s office are supposed to be very good representations, and even give advice to the current headmaster.”

Petyr nodded, “Go on.” On the counter beside them, a whisk was beating eggs in a large bowl, and the bacon was beginning to sizzle in the pan.

Sansa chewed her lip, smiling inwardly when he couldn’t help but watch, the whisk stuttering in its movements briefly before resuming its rapid tempo. “Er... “ She trailed off, wracking her brain for the information she sought, before brightening. “The subjects aren’t bound to their paintings. They can travel to others nearby, and, if copies of the painting exist elsewhere, they can travel to those locations as well. So, if the same painting is in Hogwarts and in the Ministry of Magic, the subject can visit both places.”

“Very good,” he said. “Now, why might I have such a collection of magical portraits in my house, if not to look at?”

She sat up straighter in her chair, realization flooding through her. “Those paintings have copies elsewhere.”

“And?” Both pans were now sizzling, two spatulas working effortlessly to prepare the food inside, directed by Petyr.

“And the subjects of those paintings must know quite a bit about what goes on wherever they are situated. An enterprising man might wish to take advantage of such things,” Sansa supplied.

“Wits and beauty,” he praised, eyes shining with pride.

“But, of course, it wouldn’t do for the subjects to learn anything of your household,” Sansa continued, flushing slightly at the compliment. “So you keep them in the attic, and covered them so they wouldn’t know I was there.”

One of the cupboards situated above the counter opened, and two plates soared out to rest in front of them, cutlery joining them in the proper places. The fridge opened once more to release a pitcher of orange juice, which tipped to fill the two glasses that had arrived on the table, before returning to its frosty home. Both pans joined the fray to serve them each portions of eggs and bacon, retreating to the sink to wash themselves after they had been emptied.

“Correct,” Petyr smirked at her as he lifted his fork.

She grinned at him and took a bite of her breakfast, suddenly ravenous. The food was excellent. Apparently Petyr was a man of endless talent, though she supposed that cooking and Potions weren’t all that different, and his talent for both wasn’t altogether unreasonable. They ate in silence for a time before her hunger had subsided enough for her to ask, “And who might you be spying on, with so many portraits? Every prominent figure in the wizarding world?”

“Nearly,” he admitted. “With a few exceptions.”

“Do you have any portraits from the Eyrie? Or Winterfell?” Sansa asked curiously.

Petyr took a sip from his glass of orange juice before replying, “Yes.”

“To what end?” she couldn’t see what he might learn from her Aunt Lysa.

“Jon Arryn used to be one of the Minister’s top advisers, before he died. And your Aunt Lyanna is head of the Auror office. Admittedly, I learn very little from the portrait keeping watch over the Eyrie. But I keep the connection just the same. You never know when something of import might happen there,” he said, finishing his eggs and sending his empty plate to the sink.

Sansa toyed with her last strip of bacon, tearing off a piece and popping it into her mouth, chewing thoughtfully. When she swallowed, she spoke, eyes slightly narrowed at Petyr, “And were you ever seeking information about a certain girl with a lightning scar?”

“No,” he replied, his voice honest. “I have worked hard, up until now, to separate myself from the past. Keeping watch over your relations was necessary to remain informed of everything happening in our world, but I never paid any information concerning you particular attention. Something I find myself regretting, now. I had no idea the daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark would be so alluring, in mind and body.”

She felt a heat rise in her cheeks and pool somewhere much lower, and, letting her leftover bacon fall to the plate, forgotten, she stared at him, licking her lips slightly. Petyr’s eyes darkened as he followed her train of thought, and he rose from the table and took her hand, guiding her out of the kitchen and upstairs. Heart pounding in a mix of excitement, anticipation, nerves, and arousal, Sansa followed him into his bedroom. He casually flicked a switch on the wall to turn on the lights before facing her, beckoning her closer with the curve of a finger. Her feet brought her to him, almost of their own accord, and their mouths met, a spark igniting within her that traveled straight to her core.

Petyr’s arms slid around her waist, pulling her closer, and she pressed against him as her own arms wound around his neck. The kiss deepened, their lips parting, unleashing their tongues, which tangled together fiercely. One of his hands slipped under sweater as the other cupped her bum, squeezing gently, causing her to press even closer, fisting her hands in his hair, crushing her mouth against his, urgent in her need for him. He fingered the hem of her sweater, tugging it upwards, and she pulled away, raising her arms as he slid the material up and off of her. Sansa brought his mouth back to hers, kissing him as her hands blindly worked the buttons of his shirt until she could finally remove the offending fabric.

His hands found the zip of her skirt, dragging it down until the skirt fell to the floor easily, and she stepped out of it before kicking off her shoes, undoing his belt as she did so. When his pants fell from his narrow hips, Petyr toed off his shoes and stepped free of the fabric pooling around his ankles, before pulling her to the king sized bed. Sansa sat on the edge, wrapping her arms around him as her mouth found his again, shifting and scooting back on the mattress so that he could join her. The feel of his skin against hers was deliciously sinful, but there were still three barriers separating them, and she felt that they couldn’t be removed soon enough.

Knowing her thoughts, as he always did, Petyr’s mouth left hers to latch onto her neck, his hands working deftly to free the catch of her bra. He tossed the garment aside and left her neck to lavish attention on her breasts, a hand toying with the one not gifted with his lips and tongue. Sansa squirmed underneath him, her hands roaming his back, rubbing against his hard length in search of friction, until she couldn’t bear it any longer and begged him in her mind to continue south. He willingly obliged, trailing kisses down her stomach, teasing her through the soaked fabric of her underwear before sliding the material off her long, pale legs.

When his tongue and lips began their assault, Sansa bucked against his mouth, her hands weaving into his hair, pulling him closer against her sex. As she writhed underneath him, he brought a finger to her entrance, and then a second, his combined efforts driving the heat to unbearable heights until she finally broke, gasping his name. Petyr carried her through her orgasm, never faltering, sending lovely aftershocks through her, until she tugged him back up.

Their mouths met again, the kiss reigniting that insatiable need, and Sansa tugged his boxer briefs from his hips, craving him. She reached out and joined his mind, hooking a leg around his waist to pull him closer, for once showing no hesitation as their sexes brushed. Petyr noticed the change, and paused his movements, uncertain. But she pulled away just enough to reach between them, taking him in hand, positing him at her entrance.

His thoughts became muddled, lust overcoming his normally sharp mind. ‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes. Oh, gods yes. Please,’ she urged him.

Petyr needed no further encouragement, his mouth finding hers again as he slowly began to fill her. Sansa faltered slightly at the increasing discomfort, but she knew it was natural for the first time, that it wouldn’t always be like this, and was determined to persevere. She felt a sharp pain as he continued, tears pricking her eyes, and broke the kiss, whimpering softly.

Petyr reached up to cup her cheek, “Shh, I know. Just relax, my love.”

She nodded, and he kept going until he was sheathed completely, waiting for a moment for her to adjust before gently moving his hips. The pain slowly subsided, eclipsed by something else, a pleasureful burning sensation that began to build the more he moved, and soon she found herself moving her hips in time with his. Petyr kissed her again, mouth hard against hers, his tongue dancing with hers to the same rhythm as his thrusts. Sansa felt the heat coiling inside of her, tightening as he quickened his pace, her thrusts matching his with equal abandon.

When his cock left her completely only to slam into her again, she groaned against his mouth, begging him to do it again. Petyr complied with her request, his hips moving more forcefully, driving deeper into her than before, and as he adjusted the angle, he hit the spot he usually found so easily with his fingers, and she cried out. He redoubled his efforts, pounding into her, bringing her closer to the edge with every moment until she soared over the precipice, his name rent from her lips, mingling with her own as he followed her.

Their joined minds made their near simultaneous orgasms almost agonizingly overwhelming, as the combined shock waves of their own pleasure and the other’s washed over each of them. Petyr kept moving his hips to carry them both through their ecstasy, before rolling off of her, chest heaving. Sansa turned to watch him as he struggled to catch his breath again, reveling in her current bliss, a smile curving her lips. He ran a hand over his face as his breathing steadied, and glanced at her with a wry grin, sliding an arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. She snuggled against him, kissing him softly, loving the feel of his lips against hers, loving the feel of his body against hers, loving him.

“I love you,” she said softly, a whisper against his lips.

“I love you too,” Petyr said, voice uncharacteristically raw with emotion.

“Happy Birthday, Petyr,” Sansa grinned down at him for a moment, before lowering her mouth to his again with renewed passion.

Halloween would never be the same for her again.

Chapter Text

Sansa and Petyr spend the rest of the day lost to the whims of their bodies, breaking occasionally to talk, or attempt to fill the time less lustily, but always falling back into each other's arms. The pull that he had on her was only growing stronger, and she had no inclination to resist. She loved him, and she was willing to give every part of herself possible to him, her mind, her body, her heart, her soul. He had once told her that he wanted everything, and she knew she was a part of that now. Her frequent wanderings in his mind told her that. The way he looked at her, and spoke to her, and treated her with such reverence, told her that.

Sansa didn’t regret her decision for even a fraction of a second. It had been quite painful at first, but Petyr had helped her through it, and in the end the experience had been everything she had hoped it would be, and more. And now that she’d finally fully given herself, she was finding it hard to keep her hands off of him. There was still a slight ache between her legs, from the barrier that had been broken, the blood spilled the sweetest she’d ever relinquished, but she found that any discomfort soon faded, overcome by much stronger emotions. She also had several love bites peppered about her pale skin, but Petyr had long ago given her a salve that vanished bruises on contact. Until she had to remove them, however, she would wear them with pride.

When they returned to the kitchen for a late lunch, she noticed her purse sitting abandoned on a kitchen chair, and shyly presented her gifts to him. His reaction was everything she had hoped it to be, and she was thrilled that she had been right in suspecting that the freshness of his breath was due to the Toothflossing Stringmints found in Honeydukes. Though it wasn’t nearly cold enough to warrant a scarf yet, Sansa draped it around his neck, anxious to see how it looked. Despite the fact that Petyr was wearing an unfastened white button down at the moment, and the absurdity of wearing a scarf with an open shirt was not lost on her, she thought it looked quite good, and couldn’t resist tugging the ends of it gently to draw him closer for a kiss. He didn’t take it off again until they both lost their clothes to lust sometime later.

But his clear approval of the quill she had made especially for him was what made all of the anxiety over finding the perfect gift worth it. He had even asked her the details of the quill’s craftsmanship, expressing interest in ordering more of its kind so that he might be able to use one wherever he chose to work. Of course, he assured her that he would keep the one she made him in his office at Hogwarts, more for display purposes than anything, in order to keep it as perfect as it was when he first received it.

After they finished their lunch, a grilled cheese apiece with bowls of tomato soup, Sansa’s eyes trained on Petyr’s wand, and she finally remembered to ask about it. She felt she might be somewhat biased, but his wand looked particularly attractive, rich, dark wood veined with real silver and a matching polished silver handle.

“Vine and dragon heartstring. Yours is weirwood, is it not?”

“Yes, and phoenix feather,” Sansa replied, admiring the little mockingbirds etched into the handle of his wand.

Petyr looked surprised. “Phoenix feather cores are exceedingly rare. Though I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked. It’s a very fitting wand for The Wolf Who Lived.”

He took her wand and examined it, smiling as he found the small face knotted into the wood at the point of the handle. Just like all weirwood trees, every wand made of their wood contained a face. The faces adorning the trees usually had less than pleasant expressions, but wands were different. Sansa’s wand had a face settled in peaceful contentment for the moment, but it always changed to match her mood, reflecting her sadness, anger, and joy right along with her. It wasn’t an especially helpful feature, but it brought her closer to the old gods, the North, and her family, and for that she treasured it.

As the day continued, far more quickly than Sansa would have liked, and the prospect of the Halloween feast loomed ahead, it was with some difficulty that they made preparations to return to Hogwarts. She spent some time fixing her hair, which had become quite wild during their various exploits, fighting back a grin as she listened to Petyr muse about messing it up again. Before they left, he took her back down into the basement and drew her over to the cupboards that contained finished potions.

“What are you looking for?” she asked curiously, watching him peruse the contents with a keen eye.

Petyr grabbed a small vial filled with dark liquid and closed the cupboard, before turning to her. “This.” He showed her the vial, allowing her to read the label.

Sansa read the label aloud. “Contraception Tonic.” She flushed as she realized why he had taken care to find the vial before they left.

“It’s completely safe, and one hundred percent effective, so long as you take it within twenty four hours of the act. Given our situation, it is essential that you drink this each time,” he spoke his words with care, as if worried she would take offense at what he was saying, despite its good sense.

She reached out and took the vial. It was quite small. Only enough liquid inside for a swallow or two. “How much?”

“All of it. I have more back at Hogwarts, in my private stores, kept away from prying eyes. When we began seeing each other, I decided to brew some, not wanting to be caught unprepared. There are a few more vials here as well.”

Sansa uncorked the bottle and downed the contents, noting the bitter taste as it washed over her tongue. When she had finished, she smiled at him gratefully. “I hadn’t considered the repercussions before,” she admitted.

Petyr pulled her close again, mouth meeting hers, and for a moment they were lost, lips and tongues colliding with increasing urgency, hands clutching at hips and back, before he broke away with a groan. “We must leave. Our absence will be noticed.”

She reluctantly agreed, and followed him back to his office, letting the Floo Network whisk her back to Hogwarts, and stepping from the fireplace somewhat disorientedly. Petyr appeared shortly after, and they took some time fixing their somewhat disheveled appearances (the house elves had clearly been taking care to pay extra mind to his fireplace, as the presence of soot was quite minimal) before departing. Sansa left first, making her way directly to the Great Hall, where the feast was already in progress.

Hundreds of lit jack o lanterns hung in midair along with the floating candles, the air thick with laughter and merriment, as the students and staff gorged themselves on the sumptuous feast the house elves had provided. No one seemed to notice her late arrival, save for Margaery and Arya who beamed up at her when she slid in between them at the Hufflepuff table.

“You made it!” Arya grinned at her around a mouthful of fried potato.

“We missed you today,” Margaery said. “How are you feeling?”

Sansa piled some food on her plate and began to eat. “Better. I managed to get some more sleep to make up for last night, and then spent the rest of the day enjoying a good book. I was so absorbed in my reading that I guess I lost track of time.”

“Maybe you should ask Madame Pomfrey for one of those potions for dreamless sleep.” Margaery suggested.

Sansa shook her head. “Nah, I’m ok. It usually isn’t quite as bad as it was last night. I probably ate too much or something.”

Arya laughed. “Better slow down then,” she teased.

“Rude,” Margaery admonished Arya with a frown.

Arya only shrugged, continuing to shovel food in her mouth far more rapidly than Sansa had ever done. Soon, the remnants of dinner vanished, replaced by a wide variety of sugary confections that exemplified the decadence the holiday so often represented. Afterwards, the night’s entertainment was provided by the Headless Hunt, a troop of beheaded ghosts that paraded around comically, their gags relying heavily on their severed heads. As the ghosts began playing keep away with their own heads, Sansa glanced up at Petyr, rolling her eyes at the performance when he caught her looking at him.

The show was halted when the Gryffindor ghost, Nearly Headless Nick, rose from his table and made to depart, drawing the attention of the performers, who asked if the show wasn’t to his liking. Nick curtly replied that he had better things to do, prompting a retort from a member of the troop that reminded him that he was dead, and therefore had unlimited time, and little obligation. The head (no pun intended) of the troop then recognized Nick, and proclaimed that Nick was just sour because they had rejected his application, a comment that led to an all out ghost brawl that fortunately led to no destruction of property, due to the fact that they were ghosts and simply passed through objects and people.

The crowd watched in fascination as the teachers attempted to placate the ghosts, but after awhile Sansa grew bored of the commotion, and decided to leave. Margaery chose to leave with her, but Arya was adamant on remaining behind, eagerly egging on the opponents. When Sansa stepped out from the crowded room and the doors closed behind her, dampening the raucous noise, she sighed in relief.

Margaery gave her a sympathetic look, and they began to walk, steps trailing away from the activity until they could barely hear it anymore.

Sansa asked about their day at Hogsmeade, and Margaery filled her in, detailing their visits to Honeydukes, Zonko’s Joke Shop, and The Three Broomsticks. They were laughing about Arya’s mishap with a bit of Cockroach Cluster when Sansa heard that strange, unsettling voice again, and stopped, shushing her friend.

“What is it?” Margaery asked.

“Do you hear that?” Sansa asked, glancing around in worry.

A faint whisper that curdled her blood reached her ears. ‘Yes. Let me rip, tear, kill.’

“There it is again!” Sansa whirled around, searching for the source.

“What?” Margaery looked alarmed. “I don’t hear anything.”

‘Blood. I smell blood! So close.’

“This way.” Sansa insisted, running down the corridor, certain the voice was coming from that direction.

Margaery followed her. “Sansa? What’s going on? I don’t hear anything,” she said, sounding confused.

Sansa didn’t stop, intent on figuring out who was speaking. It sounded as though whoever it was meant to kill someone. And she doubted Filch would ever go so far. She had no idea what she might do if she actually encountered whoever was speaking, but she was determined to find out regardless. They rounded into another corridor, footsteps kicking up water, and Sansa halted, glancing down at the floor. Shallow puddles stretched across the stone, slowly deepening, the source coming from a nearby bathroom.

Suddenly, Margaery grabbed her arm. “Sansa, we need to go. We need to find someone, quick.”

Sansa glanced back at her friend, noting how pale she looked, before following her gaze. A normally blank expanse of wall was now slashed with red paint, or perhaps blood, words shining damply against the stone: The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware. And next to the message, dangling from a lit torch, was a cat.

“Mrs. Norris,” Sansa breathed, shock freezing her limbs. Filch’s cat.

“Sansa, we need to find help,” Margaery said, voice trembling as she tugged on Sansa’s arm.

Sansa nodded numbly, and they turned to leave, steps halting when they heard the sounds of the other students finally leaving the Great Hall. Too late, they realized they had nowhere to go, and the crowd descended on them, shuffling around them before noticing the scene before them, and stopping in their tracks. Sansa and Margaery were left slightly apart from the others, their fellow students regarding them with suspicion. The corridor fell deathly silent for a moment, before Joffrey Baratheon cackled in delight, pointing at Mrs. Norris and then at the message gleaming on the wall.

“Enemies of the heir, beware? It’s that filthy Squib’s cat! You’ll be next, mudbloods,” he sneered.

“Enough,” a voice called out, and Albus Dumbledore strode through the crowd. “What is the meaning of this?” When he saw the writing and Mrs. Norris, his expression darkened. “Prefects, escort your houses back to their common rooms. Now.”

Sansa and Margaery made to leave as well, but Dumbledore spoke again. “Not you two.”

Chapter Text

Sansa and Margaery exchanged anxious looks but did as they were told. Arya attempted to fight through the crowd to join them, but was prevented by Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley, much to her displeasure. As the students filed out, several teachers took their place, including Professor McGonagall, Professor Sprout, and Petyr. Sansa immediately felt better with Petyr’s presence, and reached out to touch his mind, spirits falling again when she couldn’t gain access.

Desperate, she locked eyes with Petyr, and noticed him shake his head almost imperceptibly, before glancing at the other teachers. Sansa understood immediately. Not right now, he was trying to tell her. It wasn’t wise for him to open his mind at the moment, not with the Headmaster around, and an impending investigation into whatever had happened here tonight.

Dumbledore gently detangled the cat from the torch, examining the animal’s stiff body. The other teachers watched solemnly as he worked, before Professor McGonagall spoke.

“Is she dead, Albus?”

The Headmaster shook his head. “No. She has been Petrified.”

“But who?” Professor Sprout whispered, horrified. “A student couldn’t have done this.”

Dumbledore looked up from the Petrified cat, eyes fixing Margaery and Sansa with a piercing gaze. “No. This sort of magic is far beyond any student. Tell me, Miss Tyrell, Miss Stark. What brought you to this corridor before the others?”

Sansa bit her lip, unsure what to say. Should she tell them about the voice she had heard? Her eyes sought Petyr’s, hoping for answers, for reassurance, for anything, but he avoided her gaze. Margaery remained silent beside her, kindly leaving it up to her to decide whether or not she wanted to reveal why they had come here.

Finally, she spoke, voice trembling slightly. “We were just walking. I just wanted to get away from all of the noise. I have been suffering from headaches all day, and when the fight broke out I couldn’t stand it. Margaery and I just wanted to talk, since I felt too poorly to come to Hogsmeade today. When we saw Mrs. Norris, and what was written on the wall, we were about to come find help, but we didn’t get the chance.”

Dumbledore studied her for a moment, before nodding, opening his mouth to speak. Before he could say anything, however, Gilderoy Lockhart happened upon them, mouth falling open comically.

“Great Scott!” he cried. “What happened?”

“That’s what we are attempting to figure out,” Petyr said dryly.

“That’s the caretaker’s cat, is it not?” Lockhart blustered. “A pity I wasn’t here sooner. I am certain I could have saved her.”

“Luckily for the cat, she has only been Petrified,” Petyr said, voice thinly veiling his contempt for the other teacher.

“Petrified? How curious! Rest assured, I will find the culprit responsible.” Lockhart beamed at them.

Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows. “I’m sure you will.”

Dumbledore gestured for McGonagall to take the cat. “Minerva, kindly take Mrs. Norris to the hospital wing, and inform Argus of his cat’s condition.” As Professor McGonagall departed, he turned to Professor Sprout. “Pomona, if you would, increase your attentions to your Mandrake crop, and hasten their maturation if possible. We will have need of them to restore her.”

Professor Sprout nodded. “I will keep you abreast of their progress.”

“Oh! For a Mandrake Restorative Draught, no doubt? I’ll make it. I must have made it a hundred times,” Lockhart butted in.

“But surely you have far more important matters to attend to than taking on the duties of the Potions Master?” Petyr asked mockingly.

Lockhart missed the intended meaning. “Oh, quite right. Good sport.”

Professor Sprout shook her head. “Come, Miss Tyrell, let me escort you back to your common room.”

Margaery waved goodbye to Sansa before following her head of house out of sight, leaving her alone with Professor Dumbledore, Lockhart, and Petyr.

“Gilderoy, please inform the house elves of the situation. They will have quite the mess to deal with. I imagine Mr. Filch is in no fit state to attend to his duties at the moment,” Dumbledore said.

Lockhart grinned toothily at them. “Will do!”

Sansa watched the man depart, shaking her head in disgust at his cavalier attitude before turning her attention back to the other two, who were both watching her carefully.

“I wish you better health, Miss Stark,” Dumbledore said finally. “Perhaps Professor Baelish might have a headache remedy for you among his stores.” Dumbledore turned to Petyr, addressing him directly. “Be sure to acquire everything you need in abundance for the draught. When all is said and done, we might need it for more than just restoring the caretaker’s cat.”

“You think perhaps history is repeating itself then?” Petyr asked, expression inscrutable.

Dumbledore sighed. “I think we must be prepared for anything. I can only hope that I am mistaken.”

Sansa stared at them, wide eyed, wondering what they meant.

Dumbledore smiled sadly at her. “Get some rest, Miss Stark. Professor Baelish, see that she gets back to her common room safely. I think it unwise for her to be wandering the corridors alone given the current situation.”

Petyr turned to leave, gesturing for her to follow, and they quietly made their way to the dungeons. Sansa was somewhat surprised when he led them to his office rather than her common room, ushering her inside before closing the door and locking it. He pulled her into a tight embrace and she buried her face in his neck, shaking slightly. They didn’t speak for a moment, just drawing silent comfort from the contact, before joining minds.

‘You heard the voice again.’ It wasn’t a question.

‘It’s not Filch.’ Sansa was sure of it. Filch was an incredibly unpleasant person, but he loved that cat.

‘No, it’s not,’ Petyr agreed.

She shuddered, remembering the scene again in vivid detail, the Petrified body of that poor cat. ‘Then who? And what did you mean about history repeating itself?’

‘There was a time, about seventy years ago, when an outbreak of attacks similar to this one, happened at Hogwarts,’ he responded hesitantly.

Sansa pulled away, startled, speaking aloud again. “What?”

Petyr sighed and took her hand, leading her to the couch in his office and taking a seat, pulling her down next to him. “It is unclear whether the attacks are related. But the Headmaster was right, no student would have the skills to Petrify Mrs. Norris.”

“But what happened last time? Did they catch the culprit?” she asked, pondering his words. Her first thought would have been Joffrey, as he had clearly taken pleasure in the macabre scene, but he didn’t have the magical talent to accomplish anything of his own year, let alone something beyond any student.

“It’s complicated, my love.” He looked troubled, and she wondered what he must be thinking, regretting that she had already retreated from his mind.

When Sansa simply waited patiently for him to continue, he sighed again. “I’m afraid you’re not going to like what I have to say. Someone was punished for the attacks, expelled in their third year. But the evidence convicting the student was flimsy at best. Many, myself included, suspect that whoever orchestrated the attacks is still at large, but little has been done to investigate the matter further.”

Expelled in their third year. But that must mean…. She shook her head vehemently. “No,” she insisted, “it can’t be him. It wasn’t.” Tears were stinging her eyes and she blinked them back angrily, glaring at Petyr. “Hagrid would never.”

“I agree,” he said soothingly. “The man might have some rather questionable judgement when it comes to magical creatures, but he would never knowingly put anyone, or anything, in danger. The Ministry, and Headmaster Dippet believed that the acromantula Hagrid was keeping concealed in the school was acting of its own accord and attacking students, unbeknownst to its owner. Despite believing Hagrid had no intent to harm his fellow students, a girl had died, and they felt they had no choice but to expel him. Dumbledore was working at the school at the time, and urged Dippet to take on Hagrid as gamekeeper, persistent in his belief that Hagrid was innocent.

“But as intelligent as our Headmaster is, even he has not found a better explanation for what happened. I have done research into the matter myself, but though the evidence supporting Hagrid’s guilt is lacking, the true nature of the attacks continues to escape me. The message written on the wall tonight, do you remember it?”

Sansa nodded. “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware,” she recited. “But what is the Chamber of Secrets?”

“That, sweetling, is the question that continues to defy those of us that question Hagrid’s guilt. The castle of Hogwarts is such that one might spend a lifetime within its walls, and still fail to learn all of its secrets. The best and brightest of wizardkind have searched for such a Chamber, and come up empty handed, time and time again. All we have to guide us is legend. One that concerns the founder of our house,” Petyr said.

“Salazar Slytherin?” she frowned. “I don’t remember hearing anything about Slytherin building a secret chamber in the school.”

“It’s not a widely known legend, though it is briefly mentioned in Hogwarts, A History,” he answered. “The legend tells of a secret chamber that houses a monster, one that the heir of Slytherin could use to purge the school of all who were unworthy to attend.”

Sansa was horrified. “You don’t mean Muggleborns?” She had known that Salazar Slytherin was famous for his notions concerning blood purity, his disdain for those who were born into Muggle families part of what drove him apart from the other founders, but she had never imagined his hatred would amount to murder.

Petyr nodded, mouth tightening. “Oh yes. Despite my affinity for our house, our founder was quite deplorable in certain respects. His obsession with blood purity is distasteful enough without the legend of the Chamber of Secrets.”

“But the monster… Could that be what attacked Mrs. Norris? I can’t imagine another acromantula is wandering about the school, even if one was responsible for the attacks seventy years ago.” She frowned. “You don’t think they will blame Hagrid again, will they?”

“Unfortunately, I think it’s very likely. But I imagine that he is safe for the moment. A Petrified cat is unlikely to stir the Ministry into action. As for what the monster might be, I am certain that it’s not an acromantula, but beyond that…” He trailed off, shaking his head.

“And the heir of Slytherin?” Sansa asked.

Petyr laughed bitterly. “An even more elusive figure. Much of Slytherin’s bloodline died out long ago, partly due to their persistence in procreating only with other purebloods, which often led to inbreeding, resulting in mental and physical instability. No one has claimed to have Slytherin ancestry in quite some time, and I believe the last known descendants died many years ago. If there is an heir lurking about, they haven’t made their presence known.”

“So it could be anyone,” she said, feeling hopeless.

He reached out and took ahold of her chin, lifting it so that their eyes met. “This is all merely speculation, my love. Be on your guard, but do not despair just yet. If history is indeed repeating itself, I will do everything in my power to shield you from harm.”

Sansa shifted closer, slipping into his lap before kissing him. When they broke apart, she whispered, “But what does it mean that I’m hearing voices, with everything that’s going on?”

“I wish I knew, sweetling.” Petyr rested his forehead against hers, closing his eyes. “Perhaps you have gained access to the heir’s mind, though how you’ve done so is less certain. I will do my best to search for the heir, and stop the attacks. And if you hear anything more, I want you to tell me straight away. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Comforted, her own eyelids fluttered closed, and she leaned into him, craving the safety that his arms provided. They stayed like that until curfew demanded their separation, and Sansa never wanted to leave the safety of his arms less than in that moment. She silently begged him to let her stay, eyes pleading, and he groaned.

“Sansa, think about what you are asking of me. I cannot protect you if I’m sacked for dating a student.”

She felt her lip tremble and bit it to halt its movements. “I know.” She attempted a rueful smile. “We are lucky you always let good sense guide you.”

Petyr chuckled. “Not always.” He kissed her softly, caressing her cheek. “You will be fine tonight. I will even send you back with a potion for dreamless sleep if you wish.”

“Ok,” Sansa smiled at him, appreciating the gesture. “But if you don’t figure out a way for us to spend the night together soon, then I will be far less agreeable, Petyr Baelish.”

“Noted,” he replied, smirking.

When Sansa returned to the common room that night, it was still in uproar, the students all awake gossiping about Mrs. Norris and the mysterious message, many wondering if wasn’t just some stunt by Peeves to celebrate Halloween. No one noticed her in all of the commotion, a fact which she was most grateful for, and she went immediately to bed, drinking the potion Petyr had supplied her with before curling up with Lady and a book to distract her mind while she waited for it to take effect. It wasn’t long before sleep carried her off, the potion keeping her mind blissfully blank throughout the night, a welcome respite from the terrors that so often haunted her.

Chapter Text

Sunday, November 1st

 

When Sansa came upstairs for breakfast the next morning, gossip was still rampant concerning last night’s unusual events. Arya and Margaery were waiting by the doors for her, and together they all sat down at the Slytherin table to eat. Despite her ravenous appetite, Arya did not immediately reach for anything, intent on learning what had happened in her absence last night. Margaery had clearly been waiting to fill her in until Sansa joined them, and Arya’s impatience was getting the better of her. Sansa quickly relayed everything to Arya, clarifying a few things to Margaery along the way, and by the time she was finished, both girls were staring at her, mouths agape.

“So you’ve heard the voice before?” Margaery asked, sounding worried.

“A few times,” Sansa said hesitantly. “I actually heard it once during my Alchemy lessons, and when Professor Baelish couldn’t hear anything, I knew something was wrong. But I haven’t the faintest clue who, or what, I’m hearing.”

Arya lost her restraint and began pulling dishes of food towards her, ladling generous portions on her plate. “I suppose whatever you heard is what attacked Filch’s cat.”

Sansa nodded. “That’s what I figured, but considering the Headmaster and the other teachers didn’t seem to have a clue what Petrified Mrs. Norris last night, that doesn’t give me much to go on. If they don’t know, then the answer is likely out of our reach.”

“Possibly,” Margaery agreed. “But it couldn’t hurt to look into it. It might have to do with the message written on the wall.”

“The Chamber of Secrecy?” Arya asked between rapid bites of breakfast.

“Secrets,” Sansa corrected. “I don’t know. Judging from the chatter, no one has a clue what the Chamber of Secrets is.”

Margaery’s gaze drifted over to the Gryffindor table. “We could always ask Hermione. If anyone knows anything, it will be her.”

After they finished eating, Sansa and her friends made their way over to the Gryffindor table, catching Hermione as she rose from her seat with her two best friends. Apparently they weren’t the only ones with the idea to ask the brightest student in sixth year, as many other of their fellow students clambered over eagerly as wall, including nearly everyone from Spew. Exasperated, Hermione ushered them all to an empty classroom, pulling out a copy of Hogwarts, A History, and reading a passage to them. When she had finished, the quiet awe that had settled into the room as she read quickly erupted in excited conversation, as everyone debated just what Slytherin’s famed monster might be, and whether or not the tale had any merit to it.

The rest of the day passed in similar fashion, any attempts to get any schoolwork done failing miserable as the topic of the Chamber of Secrets inevitably came up again, as though the monster was a virus that had infected the entire school, whipping the students into a frenzy where they could think of nothing else. As the only cure for such things, like any virus, was time, many students gave up productivity as a lost cause for the day, and Sansa and her friends were no exception.

After dinner, Arya and Ginny decided to throw a Chamber Pot of Secrets party in the Gryffindor common room, convinced that the Chamber of Secrets was actually just an old toilet, and whoever wrote the message had simply forgotten the ‘Pot.’ The party centered around bathroom puns and humor, and various Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes products that Fred and George had sent Ginny recently. Everyone had been encouraged to conjure and decorate their own chamber pot hats, and Ron and Harry were working on making a fake toilet that could be used for bobbing apples, or other, less appetizing (in appearance at least) things. Arya and Ginny had even attempted to invite Moaning Myrtle, the ghost who haunted a girl’s toilet in the bathroom near the place Mrs. Norris had been found, but only succeeded in riling up the ghost into flooding the bathroom again. As no one was allowed in the Gryffindor common room but Gryffindors, Margaery and Sansa were unable to attend, much to their relief.

Instead, Margaery retreated to the Hufflepuff common room to attempt to get some work done and write a letter to George, while Sansa made her way to Petyr’s office, having contacted him during dinner. He had apparently left for the Ministry immediately after they parted last night, informing the Minister of the present situation after Dumbledore sent him a letter requesting that he do so. Once there, he had been caught up in meetings until the early hours of the morning, as the council and the Minister debated on courses of action, finally returning around lunch, exhausted. He then met with the other teachers to inform them of the Ministry’s position, and caught some sleep for a few hours before attending dinner to check on Sansa.

When she stepped into his office, she was immediately struck by how tired he looked as he reclined on the couch, slipping into his lap with a few sympathetic words before kissing him. Petyr filled her in on the basics, though despite the length of their meetings, it seemed that not much had been accomplished. In the end, he had been right. The Ministry would not act against Hagrid when only a cat had suffered any harm. As for the staff of Hogwarts, they had only decided to keep a tighter watch on the school and its students, and to make preparations to revive Mrs. Norris.

“But they’re not trying to figure out the Chamber’s location? Or if it even exists? Or who did it?” Sansa asked, puzzled.

“I’m sure they are, or at least Dumbledore is. But I am not yet privy to such conversations. Not only am I newly employed here, but I also have ties to the Ministry. Dumbledore has always been wary of the Ministry’s involvement in this school, and it is remarkable that he even decided to hire me, let alone trust me with anything of import. In time, I hope to remedy that, but for now, I remain an outsider,” Petyr replied.

She shook her head, frowning as something occurred to her. “Petyr?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “Yes?”

“You work with the Lannisters at the Ministry. You work for the Lannisters. And though I haven’t had much experience with them other than Joffrey, his behavior and their blatant attempts to cover it up or just ignore it have given me a less than favorable opinion of them. And, that is without taking into account the rumors I have heard concerning Joffrey’s parentage.”

“Your question being?” he asked, a mischievous smile playing about his lips.

Sansa toyed with the collar of his shirt nervously. “Where do your loyalties lie?”

Petyr tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “With myself. And with you.”

“No one else?” She wasn’t sure how she felt about his response. Sure, she was relieved he wasn’t in league with the Lannisters, and feeling rather foolish that the notion hadn’t occurred to her before. But she had always greatly respected Professor Dumbledore. She didn’t like the implication that Petyr might betray him at some point.

“No one else. That doesn’t mean I have plans to betray everyone I meet. Only that that besides myself, there is only one other person who can claim my complete loyalty. If circumstances arise in which I find it necessary, I can and will betray anyone but you.”

Sansa pondered his words. She had known instinctively from the start that Petyr was a dangerous man. But it was one thing to know such things, and quite another to experience the reality of them. She wondered what she might do when she came to experience that side of him first hand. Would she be there by his side, creating chaos, watching everyone else burn around them? Or would she try to rein him in, appealing to his better nature? “And if I ask you not to? If it’s someone I love, or if I ask you to find another way?”

“Then I will do my best to oblige by your wishes. But make no mistake, if I must make the choice between keeping you safe or letting harm befall someone you love, I will not hesitate to protect you. Success means nothing without you,” Petyr’s grey green eyes locked on to hers as he spoke.

“Ok.” She wasn’t entirely happy with what he had said, but she understood. “But I want to be kept informed, especially when it concerns family and friends. I don’t want there to be any secrets between us. Whatever you are planning, whatever thoughts are running through your mind, I want to know them. I want to be your partner, your equal, in everything. Not a bystander who has little control over what happens.”

He studied her face, mulling over her words. “It will take time. There is so much you don’t know, and we have so little opportunity to speak of such things.”

Sansa chose not to say anything, letting her silence encourage him to make the response she wanted.

“Ok,” Petyr said finally. “But, I cannot promise full disclosure immediately. Time constraints will prevent it, as will your general ignorance-” She opened her mouth in protest and he held up a hand to stop her, “of the workings of the Ministry. Sweetling, you may be exceptionally bright, but you are sixteen and have lived a fairly sheltered life. Even the majority of adult wizards have little knowledge of the darker aspects of the Ministry and wizarding politics. Not to mention, the Lannisters are positively swimming in scandal, and only Tywin’s careful maneuvering has kept their darkest secrets from leaking to the general public.”

“So, my suspicions are right concerning the Lannisters,” she said triumphantly.

“Joffrey’s brutality is just the tip of the iceberg, my love.”

“Tell me,” Sansa urged.

Petyr grinned wickedly. “Perhaps I need convincing first.”

She felt a jolt of heat shock through her at his suggestion, a dull throb beginning in her core, and moved her hips without meaning to, shifting in his lap. His eyes darkened, but she halted her movements, determined not to be distracted. “No. I don’t think you do. If you are so inclined towards sex tonight, then I suppose you’ll have to answer my questions.”

“Is that so?” he asked, leaning forward to kiss her, and chuckling when she pulled away. “Then perhaps we are at an impasse, my dear. If neither of us is willing to give in, then I’m afraid we will both be dissatisfied tonight.”

Sansa narrowed her eyes at him. “You promised to tell me.”

“I did,” he agreed. “I also told you it would take time for me to reveal everything to you.”

“A technicality,” she insisted. “Besides, wouldn’t it be easier just to tell me, so that you can get what you want?”

Petyr laughed. “And wouldn’t it be easier for you to just give me what I want, so that you can learn all of the Lannister secrets?”

“A compromise then,” Sansa suggested. “We do both. At the same time.”

He shook his head. “I’m afraid talking about the Lannisters is guaranteed to ruin the mood.”

“Oh?”

Petyr groaned. “You’re not going to trick me, Sansa. But, if we have any hopes of fucking tonight, it is imperative that it happens before we discuss the Lannisters. Not after.”

Sansa was positively burning with curiosity, but she suspected he was right. Those rumors concerning Joffrey’s parentage were enough to turn anyone’s stomach, and she was starting to think they were true. “You’ll tell me after?”

He nodded, and when he leaned in to kiss her again, this time she did not resist, her lips moving with his with increasing urgency. Sansa shifted to straddle him, skirt bunching around her hips, moaning into his mouth as bare skin brushed against the bulge forming under his trousers. Petyr’s hands slid to her waist, slipping beneath her skirt to cup her bum, his lips forming into a smirk against hers when he found no further barriers from her smooth skin. Anxious to relive yesterday’s fulfilment, she undid his zipper and drew out his hardened length, hand working deftly in a few quick strokes before rubbing the tip against her sex, and positioning him at her entrance. Slowly, she sank down, reveling in the way he fit so perfectly inside of her, sheathing him completely, before beginning to move.

At first, her movements were quite tentative and unpracticed, her hips struggling to find the right rhythm, but Petyr’s hands firmly gripped her hips, guiding her until she moved with more ease. Yesterday he had always been in control, but Sansa had wanted to try something different today, eager to take charge for once. As her hips moved less experimentally and more confidently, he picked up the pace, hips rising to meet her with increased force. She gladly followed, mouth breaking from his as her breathing quickened, hands fisting in the fabric of his dress shirt as she chased release. One of his hands left her hips to burrow beneath her skirt, teasing her clit, as the frequency of his thrusts spiked, the combined effort sending that lovely thrill pulsing through her, his name stretched out impossibly long in the moan that left her lips. His peak crested moments after, and the feel of him coming inside of her sent pleasant aftershocks thrumming through her as they both stilled.

Sansa slumped against Petyr’s chest, face buried in his neck, breaths ragged from exertion. She could feel his heart thumping rapidly in time with her own, repeating what she already knew with every beat: mine. He twisted his head to drop a kiss on her sweaty forehead, smoothing her hair from her face and tucking it behind her ear. The thoughts running through his mind were singular in nature, all of her, and the love that she had somehow inspired from his frozen heart.

She kissed the juncture of his neck and shoulder before lifting her head so that she could meet his eyes. “I love you.” It could be said an infinite amount of times, and yet she felt it wouldn’t be enough.

He responded in his mind, lips curving in a genuine smile.

“I love you,” she whispered again, wanting him to say it back aloud.

Petyr leaned forward and kissed her gently, pulling back a hair’s breadth to say it, lips brushing against hers as he spoke the words, “I love you too, Sansa.”

She grinned and pressed her mouth against his, mind wandering back to illicit activities. But her lips wouldn’t relinquish their smile in favor of kissing, and Petyr chuckled in amusement at her predicament, pulling away.

“I’m afraid that if I am to hold up my end of our bargain, we cannot indulge again anyway, sweetling.”

Sansa groaned, her need for information warring with baser urges. “You planned this,” she accused.

Petyr laughed. “Perhaps. But I assure you, I wasn’t lying when I told you that talking about the Lannisters would ruin the mood. Though, I honestly expect that you won’t be deterred from learning about them tonight. If I am correct, at least it was a valiant effort.”

“And you still got what you wanted,” she pointed out, moving off of his lap and making her way over to the door to his private quarters.

“Indeed.” He stood, tucking himself back in his pants before joining her.

Sansa made her way to his bathroom to clean up, and when she came back out, Petyr was waiting for her by the fire with another vial of Contraception Tonic, an unusual carved stone basin on the table beside him.

“What’s that?” she asked, downing the tonic and placing the empty vial on the table beside the curious object.

“A penseive,” he replied. “It’s device for storing memories, when one finds their mind is far too crowded for their liking. Or, in my case, a place for examining the stolen, or willingly given, memories of others.”

She bent to examine the penseive more closely, noting the strange runes carved into the stone, before pondering the shallow basin’s contents, which were a shimmery silver in color, but otherwise almost indescribable in nature. As if the memories swirling inside were neither liquid, nor gas, or solid, but something completely foreign altogether. Sansa wondered what it might feel like should she venture to touch the strange substance. When she had explored Petyr’s memories before, she had been inside his mind, slipping into a storm cloud to see his past. But she knew that not everyone’s memories would be represented the same way, if the differences between their own two minds were any indication. And, apparently, memories removed from the confines of the mind took on another form entirely.

Petyr stood, prodding the memories with his wand, and Sansa watched as they shifted, the miniature whirlpool picking up pace for a moment before suddenly calming, the surface as smooth as glass. There in the penseive, a room resolved into focus, an older man working alone in a large office, quill scratching across parchment.

“Touch the memory, and you will be able to experience it, much as you did when I showed you the night I began to work for the goblins of Gringotts. No one will notice your presence, and nothing you do will affect the memory’s progress. You are simply observing what has already come to pass,” Petyr said, nodding encouragingly at her as she lifted a tentative hand, fingers gliding over smooth stone before making contact with the placid surface.

Chapter Text

Sansa felt her body pitch forward, feet leaving the floor as she swan dived into the memory, tumbling head over feet before touching solid ground again. When the vertigo subsided, she found herself standing upright in the older man’s office. A quick glance around the room told her that wherever she was, she wasn’t in Hogwarts any longer, though she was certain the room belonged to wizarding kind, as the portraits were full of life, unlike Muggle paintings. Unable to glean anything further from her surroundings, she studied the man working at his desk, a small gasp leaving her lips as she recognized him. Tywin Lannister, the Minister of Magic, was sitting in front of her. He looked a bit younger than any recent pictures she had seen of him, but she was certain it was him.

As she watched the leader of Britain’s magical community work, she crept closer, wondering what he might be writing, startling when she felt a hand touch her arm.

Petyr chuckled. “It’s just me, my love.” He reached down to take her hand, pulling her over to two chairs set off to the side, gesturing for her to sit.

“How did you-?” Sansa began, trailing off as the door opened, and two people entered, a man and a woman, both golden haired and strikingly beautiful.

Tywin looked up, face settling into a grim expression at their arrival. He lowered his quill, sweeping aside his work, before scooting forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his desk, hands clasped together as he regarded them. “Sit,” he commanded.

Sansa watched as the man and woman took hesitant steps forward, heads bowed slightly as they each took a seat in the chairs set before his desk. The Minister’s knuckles were turning blotchy, whitening and then coloring again, as though he was repeatedly clenching his hands and relaxing them. When he spoke again, his voice was tinged with barely concealed rage. “Do the two of you have any idea of the ramifications your reckless and indecent behavior has brought about? Do you even care that in a single night, you might very well have destroyed our family legacy beyond repair?”

The young man opened his mouth to speak, raising a hand as though to shield himself from the older man’s fury, but then thought better of it. Sansa’s eyes widened as she noticed his hand was formed from gold rather than flesh and bone. The young man was Jaime Lannister, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and former head of the Auror office. And Tywin Lannister’s son. But that must mean…

Beside Jaime, his twin sister shifted in her chair, scowling. “And yet our reputation remains intact. No harm has been done. The masses have eagerly accepted the story you released to the Prophet, and have been showering us with sympathy for the attempt on your life, and the loss of Lancel,” Cersei stated smugly.

Tywin glowered at his children, Jaime quailing under his gaze, Cersei staring back defiantly. “No harm done, you say. You are clearly a greater fool than I had previously thought. Your cousin is dead. Jaime has lost his hand. The scandal surrounding your incestuous relationship and the parentage of your three bastard children was almost given indisputable proof. Our public image and the positions of power we hold were almost ruined because the two of you have committed one of the most unspeakable acts known to man, and continue to do so. And yet you think no harm has been done.

“I will suffer your insolence no further. Between this, killing Robert without my consent, and making a mess of the Ministry’s finances, you are on thin ice, Cersei. Only my ingenuity has kept this family afloat in the wake of your countless mistakes. If you persist in defying me, and destroying everything I have achieved, then I will take action against you, no matter if you are my daughter. You are quickly becoming a liability to this family, and if you do not redeem yourself soon, drastic measures may be necessary. Do I make myself clear?” Tywin’s voice was deadly cold, the venom of his words slipping into Sansa’s veins and chilling them, despite the fact that they weren’t directed at her.

The room settled into an ugly silence, and Sansa felt sick as she pondered the implications of the Minister’s words. The dark whispers of the Lannister twins passed around in pubs with morbid delight were apparently not mere rumors, but fact, a thought too horrible to begin to comprehend. Three bastard children. Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella. All born of Jaime and Cersei, and not Robert Baratheon. And Cersei had killed the former Minister of Magic, a far worse crime than infidelity. Though Sansa felt far more disgusted by the thought that brother and sister were having sex, than by the murder.

Perhaps that revealed more about her character than she wanted to admit. Was taking a life really more acceptable to her than two people finding love in an incredibly unorthodox way? Her own relationship with Petyr was questionable, of course, she knew that, though she felt there wasn’t any comparison of it to the monstrosity of a relationship the Lannister twins had. She was nearly of age in the wizarding world, whereas sexual relations between family members were a crime against nature. At any rate, the prospect of murder was far more palatable to Sansa than the thought of being in a relationship with someone she was related to.

Cersei visibly paled at her father’s words, and shakily rose from her seat to pour herself a glass of elf made wine from the Minister’s private selection. Wine spattered slightly onto her dress as her hands trembled, barely showing against the red fabric, but she didn’t take much notice as she downed the contents of one glass, then a second, before turning to face her father again. “And what action might you take against your own daughter, you who prize family and reputation above all else?” she asked, voice resolute, taking courage from the alcohol singing in her bloodstream.

“If I must, I am prepared to make any sacrifice. Do not tempt me. I have quite enough to deal with, running the wizarding world, without having to keep my own family in line. Joffrey continues to try me with his antics at Hogwarts, and only is able to continue his education due to careful observation and control enacted by Albus Dumbledore. This is a favor that I know is not done simply out of the kindness of his heart, that will likely need repayment once he graduates. Tyrion married that Muggle against my wishes, bringing scorn upon us from notable families, which I have had to take special care in treating with in order to maintain my position. The Lannister fortune has suffered greatly over the years, due in part to your gross mishandlings in keeping Robert Baratheon in check.

“In addition, you slept with your own cousin in Jaime’s absence, causing a brawl between the two of them that lost Lancel his life and Jaime his hand. And your brother has let this mishap get the best of him as of late, and has stepped down as head of the Auror office, against my wishes. His replacement, Lyanna Stark, has been a thorn in my side ever since. Thank the gods Myrcella, Tommen, and your Uncle Kevan seem to have more sense than the rest of you put together. If I find it necessary, I will do what is needed to preserve the rest of my family, safeguarding them from your foolish attempts at gaining power.”

Jaime made a noise of discontent deep in his throat, shaking his head, but did not speak. Cersei reddened, slamming down her wine glass, the remaining liquid sloshing over the rim. “I have spent years suffering under the arrangements you have made in your own quest for power. I married a man who had no love for me, who preferred whores and ale over my company, simply because you asked it of me.”

“Dear daughter, I recall you were most willing to wed Robert at the time. The chance to become the newly elected Minister’s wife was not one you were eager to pass by, if my memory does not fail me,” Tywin scoffed.

“I did everything you asked,” Cersei insisted. “I tried to gain his love and trust, to rule beside him. And when that failed, I placed the Imperius Curse on the bastard, and ruled myself. All the while following your instructions.”

“If only that were true. Had you truly done exactly as I had asked, the Ministry would not have fallen so far into debt. The goblins would not have needed placating. The Minister would still be alive.” Tywin’s eyes flashed menacingly, at odds with his voice’s even temper.

“Like you didn’t have plans to end his life and take over the position yourself anyway,” Cersei sneered.

Tywin stood from his desk. “Enough! Out. The both of you. Now.”

Cersei snatched the bottle of elf wine up, which was already halfway empty, and made her way to the door, heels clacking angrily against the floor. Jaime followed her, far more subdued than his twin sister. Before they left, Tywin spoke again, “Any more mistakes on either of your parts, and you might rue our family words. A Lannister always pays his debts, this is true. Whether willingly or not. You will not like what happens if I must collect repayment for your continued disloyalty.”

The twins halted their movements, pausing to absorb the threat, before leaving, Jaime quietly closing the door behind him. Sansa watched as Tywin glowered down at his desk for a moment, fists clenched, before sitting back down, pulling his unfinished work close and grasping his quill, picking up where he had left off. Petyr stood, tugging gently on her elbow, and they both rose upward, leaving the memory and returning to Hogwarts once more.

Sansa sat down on the couch, putting her head in her hands. She felt Petyr sit next to her, his hand rubbing her back soothingly as she struggled to come to terms with everything she had seen and heard. It was clear now, why he had said learning Lannister secrets would remove any lust she might have been feeling. Her stomach was churning at the idea of Jaime and Cersei locked in a passionate embrace similar to the one she had shared with Petyr earlier.

“I wish I hadn’t asked,” she groaned.

Petyr was quiet beside her, and Sansa raised her head to look at him when he didn’t respond. He sighed. “I did try to warn you.”

She wrinkled her nose in disgust. “I had heard rumors concerning Joffrey’s parents, but I had never seriously entertained whether they might actually be true.” She shook her head, running her palms up and down her legs and taking a few deep breaths, staring at the floor in hopes of erasing that bit of knowledge from her mind. It didn’t work, but the breaths helped calm her nonetheless, and when she felt better, she spoke again. “Cersei killed Robert Baratheon.”

“Yes.”

“And the Lannisters controlled the Ministry even before Tywin took office.” If Cersei had used the Imperius Curse on the Minister, then she could make him do anything she wished. Any decision Robert Baratheon made was not his own, while he was under the Imperius Curse. Unless he fought the effects….

Petyr nodded, still rubbing her back as she thought through everything. “But didn’t anyone notice? Jon Arryn? My father? I’ve been told that my father and Robert were almost like brothers at one time,” Sansa asked.

“If some did notice, they didn’t stay alive long enough to reveal what they knew. As for your father, Cersei didn’t place Robert under the Imperius Curse until after your father died. And Jon Arryn wasn’t one to question authority. He was a sharp man, but gaining in years, bogged down by an insane wife, a sick son, and protecting The Wolf Who Lived. Had he more time, and less to stress his mind, he might have suspected Robert wasn’t acting quite right. But in truth, even if he did, perhaps he preferred the change. Robert was never the most competent of Ministers, and after your father died, he indulged heavily in all manners of depravity. Without Cersei’s guidance, overseen by Tywin, the Ministry would likely be in far worse shape than it is today.”

Sansa shook her head in disbelief. “The Imperius Curse is an Unforgivable Curse. That, along with murder, the Minister of Magic’s murder no less, would earn them all lifetime sentences in Azkaban. Why haven’t you told anyone?”

“Lack of proof, for one,” he said.

She laughed. “And the memory you just showed me isn’t proof?”

“I hardly obtained that memory through legal means, Sansa,” Petyr said, quirking an eyebrow at her. “Besides, there is no higher authority than the Minister. And Lannisters control much of the rest of the Ministry. Not to mention, it suits my purpose to keep them in power. For the moment, anyway.”

“How? And how did you get that memory?” Sansa was getting frustrated, though whether it was directed at Petyr or the situation, she wasn’t sure.

“A friend of mine works closely with the Lannisters. She is gifted in Legilimency and sometimes shares the Minister’s bed, gaining valuably intel from him after he passes out in her arms. While Tywin sleeps, she invades his mind and pulls any crucial memories for me to peruse at my own leisure. We return some, so he doesn’t notice their absence, but others, like this one, are far too valuable.”

She glossed over that information in her mind quickly, refusing to imagine yet another Lannister’s sex life. “And why keep the Lannisters in power. What exactly are you working towards?” Sansa sat up, looking him directly in the eyes, determined to find out.

“You saw my home yesterday. How I’ve adapted Muggle technology to work in conjunction with magic,” Petyr began hesitantly.

“Yes…” she said, wondering where he was going with this.

“And you know of my past. How my birth and blood status have worked against me for my entire life. In family, where I was never quite accepted by the pureblood wizards who took me in. In school, where I, a Muggleborn, was sorted into the house that most prized blood purity. In love, where I was nearly killed, and made homeless, for daring to fall for a pureblood witch. And in my career, where every day I am called a nickname by those seeking to remind me of my low birth. I refuse to continue to suffer these injustices. I refuse to let the magical world continue as it stands.” His words were passionate, torn from his lips and colored with all of the pain he had dealt with for thirty two years, from a boy shunned and forgotten, to a man still struggling despite everything he had achieved.

“And what do you plan to do about it?” she whispered, heart thumping in her chest, stirred by his words.

“I have kept in touch with the Muggle world. I have seen the effect technology has had on them. How it drives them, consumes them, even manipulates them. I have solved the disparities that have kept Muggle technology and magic at odds for so long. And soon, when the time is right, I will introduce the magical world to the wonders of Muggle technology. They will be hesitant at first, but I will start at the most easily influenced, the most adaptable, the most likely to take to smartphones and the internet and set the trend for the rest of the world. They will become dependent on their new gadgets and methods of communication, and crave more. And I will give it to them.

“The wizarding world will adapt, and the lines between the magical and Muggle worlds will be further blurred, as wizards slowly see Muggles and their culture as less foreign and more relatable. Our reliance on technology developed by Muggles will help wizard see their worth, and soon blood status will no longer be of any consequence. As the one who introduced this new technology, I will eventually be elected as Minister of Magic, where I can better guide the magical community towards progress,” Petyr finished his speech with a faraway look in his eyes, as though he could already see himself at the helm of the revolution he hoped to spark.

Sansa was speechless. He had said before that he wanted everything. But she had never imagined the scope of his dreams to be so incredible. His plans were ambitious, almost impossibly so. And yet she didn’t doubt that he would accomplish his heart’s desire. “Is this why you decided to teach here at Hogwarts?” she asked, finally finding her words. “Are your students to be your test market?”

His eyes gleamed with pride as he smirked at her, “Oh, you are a clever girl.”

“But you don’t wish to reveal the magical world to Muggles, do you?” she said, concerned. Surely it would be folly to do something so drastic.

Petyr shook his head. “No. Only to make wizards more aware of the world around them. We have done ourselves a great disservice in isolation. It is one thing to hide to protect our secret. But to fail to keep up with the world beyond our own is a grave mistake. Once we start opening our eyes to what the non-magical community has to offer, we will make advancements in every field imaginable, and the benefits we reap will help usher in the social progress I covet most.”

Sansa was reassured. She didn’t trust that the Muggles wouldn’t take up witch hunts again if they learned about the magical world. At the very least, they would likely attempt to take advantage of the magical community, insisting on magical solutions to their problems, effectively enslaving them to their whims in the most extreme scenarios. The fickleness of human nature would prevent the revelation of the magical community. It was strange how humans could have such strong capacities for love, and still contain wickedness in equal measure. “And when do you intend on introducing this technology to Hogwarts?”

“The start of your seventh year,” he supplied confidently.

“That’s quite a ways away,” she said disappointedly. “Why wait so long?”

Petyr laughed. “Things take time, my love. I have spent years carefully developing my plans and setting them in motion. I do not have the means or skills to simply storm in and get what I want by brute force, an army rallying behind me. Instead I must use the strengths I do possess, and though it might take longer to accomplish my goals, I think using one’s wits rather than brawn, to be the superior method. There’s a certain elegance to playing the long game, as you will come to learn.”

“Where do the Lannisters fit into all of this? Are you just keeping them in power so that when you try for the post of Minister, their incompetence will make your victory that much easier?” Sansa asked, suspecting she was right, but wanting confirmation regardless.

His smirk told her she was exactly on the mark, and she couldn’t help but return it. Petyr’s plans, now so much clearer to her than before (though she didn’t fool herself into thinking she knew everything yet), were glorious. Simultaneously demolishing the outdated wizarding ideals of blood purity and ushering in a new age of enlightenment, he would set the magical world ablaze until only ash remained, while igniting a rebirth worthy of a phoenix. This man was as wicked as he was clever, and he was hers. Sansa had the opportunity to make a name for herself by his side beyond The Wolf Who Lived. A way to be remembered for something more than tragedy. And she would take it.

Chapter Text

November 2nd to Saturday, November 21st

 

As November plodded on, the excitement Halloween had brought slowly dampened, with the days that followed proving as mundane as they had been before that fateful night. A chill swept through the castle, helped along by frequent torrents of rain, and heavy gusts of wind, paired occasionally with thunder and lightning. Sansa spent Mondays and Wednesdays taking comfort in the warmth of the potions they brewed in class, and in the searing heat of Petyr’s attentions after dinner. She did not envy Arya’s ever increasing number of Quidditch practices, which took place regardless of the nasty weather, leaving the players soaked to the bone and spattered with mud, the bane of the caretaker’s existence. No, she was happy to fill her free time instead with lessons in Legilimency, politics, and intrigue, before giving into baser urges and developing her skills in a far more carnal art.

Sansa had finally begun to broaden her Legilimency skills outside of her lessons with Petyr, practicing slipping into the minds of others whenever she had a free moment. He had suggested that she start with Margaery and Arya, as their minds would likely prove easier to read, due to their close friendship. But she found she wasn’t willing to rob her friends of their privacy (her earlier, somewhat desperate attempts at gaining access to Margaery’s mind, in hopes of learning that her friend already knew she was seeing Petyr, notwithstanding. That had been a moment of weakness she wasn’t planning on repeating), and so instead she preyed upon students she wasn’t very close to. She felt far less guilty pawing through the thoughts of people who had little connection to her, and the pangs she did feel quickly subsided, eclipsed by everything she was learning about her fellow students.

At first it was quite difficult to step into a mind other than Petyr’s, hindered as she was by two important distinctions: he always willingly let her into his mind, and when she had first attempted to breach his defenses, she had done so by keeping eye contact. But maintaining eye contact wasn’t exactly possible when you didn’t want to alert your victim that you were prying into their thoughts. It would hardly go unnoticed if Sansa started staring intently at Seamus Finnigan, refusing to break his gaze. Not to mention, he wasn’t likely to cooperate and keep their eyes locked unless she specifically asked him to. No, she had to make do without eye contact, and step into his mind without invitation or awareness.

In time, she managed it, and she kept trying until she could penetrate Seamus’ mind with ease, spending every DADA lesson listening to his thoughts rather than paying attention to Lockhart’s pathetic attempts at teaching. Their teacher was still filling lessons with reenactments from his books, mostly covering topics they had already been over years ago, a fact Hermione once brought up, only to be completely ignored. When Sansa felt she had a decent grasp of Seamus’ mind, she moved on to Lavender Brown, another Gryffindor, and then to Parvati Patil, steadily working her way through the Gryffindors in the class.

Her efforts weren’t limited to DADA lessons, though they did afford the best opportunity for Legilimency practice. She also used spare time during meals or breaks to wander freely through the minds of others, disregarding most of what she learned, though occasionally she couldn’t help but dig a little deeper in search of school gossip. Pansy Parkinson apparently had eyes for Draco, who, as far as Sansa could tell (she refused to listen to his thoughts, not wanting to accidentally encourage his crush on her by forgetting herself and staring at him) was completely oblivious, too caught up in his feelings for Sansa. Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan, best friends, both had feelings of a much stronger nature for each other, though were too shy to broach the subject. And despite Arya’s insistence that she and Gendry Waters were just friends, when it came to him, at least, Sansa knew those feelings were beyond friendship.

Petyr was most pleased by her progress, rewarding her with kisses and vital information. She learned more than she truly wanted to know (actually she had reached that particular threshold the moment she found out about Jaime and Cersei) about the Lannisters, begrudging the fact that their power in the wizarding world made it necessary for her. The particulars surrounding Robert Baratheon’s death were explained (a bit too much drink, a little encouragement in the form of the Imperius Curse, and the poor former Minister had stumbled willingly into the maw of a Peruvian Vipertooth), as was the night Jaime had lost his hand.

That Cersei had slept with her own cousin in her brother’s absence, spurring Lancel’s love for her so that he was distraught enough to try and duel Jaime to the death after catching them together, was an event Sansa dearly wished she could forget. The woman clearly had very specific tastes in men…. Thankfully, Petyr had not shown her a memory from that particular night. Perhaps he didn’t have one, or perhaps his stomach turned, as hers did, at the thought of even acquiring such a memory, let alone viewing it.

Instead, he wove the tales to her as they lay tangled in each other’s arms, basking in the warmth of the fire. Sansa was content to listen to him talk about nearly anything, his gravely voice soothing her nearly as much as his touch did, tempering her disgust at the subject matter. When they weren’t discussing politics or locked in each other’s embrace, kisses frantic and heated, Petyr taught her more about discerning truth from lies using Legilimency. This proved a difficult task, as she couldn’t imagine anyone with more talent for lying than Petyr Baelish, but she was slowly gaining confidence in detecting the subtle nuances of his mind and correctly interpreting her findings. She knew that once she mastered his mind, all others would be child’s play in comparison.

He had also brought up the notion of teaching her Occlumency, so that she might be able to guard her mind from others, but she was too intent on learning Legilimency to give it much thought. Sansa knew it would be wise for her to learn Occlumency at some point, but she didn’t feel it was entirely necessary just yet. She was still in school, and in all likelihood there would be few, if any, other Legilimens on the premises. Petyr had even said that the only other Legilimens he was certain of was the Headmaster, and she believed him when he said that Dumbledore wasn’t a man to invade his students’ privacy without just cause.

She had no intentions of warranting the Headmaster’s invasion into her mind, and she doubted that he would pry too far in any case. If necessary, she would simply have to keep her thoughts from straying to anything incriminating. Petyr had chided her for persisting in taking such a risk, but didn’t force the issue, not yet anyway. For the moment, it wasn’t imperative for her to learn it, but he advised her against waiting too long.

A November waned, the highly anticipated Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin finally arrived. Sansa woke far earlier than she would have liked that Saturday morning, dressing in jeans and an emerald sweater (which she charmed scarlet and gold, in support of Arya), before heading upstairs for breakfast. The Great Hall was mostly deserted, save for the members of the Quidditch teams from both houses, and Margaery, who sat next to Arya, an amused expression on her face as she watched her friend shoveling down her food. Sansa joined them, helping herself to waffles and sausage links, dousing both in maple syrup.

“Nervous?” she asked.

Arya rolled her eyes. “Hardly. I’ve got this.”

“I see that. Nice hair by the way.” Sansa grinned appreciatively at Arya’s shock of scarlet hair with thick, shimmery golden stripes arcing through it.

“Gotta rep for the team,” Arya said, gulping down orange juice and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

Margaery giggled. “You’re on the team, Arya. I think they know you support them.”

Arya rolled her eyes but didn’t think it worth the trouble to respond. The Great Hall slowly filled with students, and soon the other members of the team rose from the table, and Arya left with them to get ready for the game. Sansa and Margaery didn’t linger at the table, conscious of the looks Joffrey Baratheon was shooting them, and decided to make their way down to the Quidditch pitch early. They managed to find prime seats in the section usually crowded with Hufflepuffs (as Sansa would be supporting Arya on the Gryffindor team, she couldn’t very well sit with the Slytherins), chatting about trivial matters while they waited for the match to begin.

Before long, the stands were packed, students decked out in either scarlet and gold, or emerald and silver. Sansa watched with Margaery as Arya and the Gryffindor team trooped onto the field, brooms in hand, expressions fiercely determined, their opponents staring stonily back at them. Madame Hooch joined them, the crate containing the Quaffle, Bludgers, and Golden Snitch tucked under her arm. She released the Bludgers, which immediately rocketed around the pitch, and then the tiny, and wickedly fast, Golden Snitch, which disappeared almost instantaneously. Both teams rose into the air at Madame Hooch’s whistle, the Quaffle was tossed into play, and the game began.

Sansa leaned forward in her seat eagerly, watching Arya zoom around the other players, Beater bat in hand, sending Bludgers at the Slytherin players with ferocious thwacks that were at odds with her small form. She normally had little interest in the game, but when it came to supporting her friends, she was happy to watch, cheering Arya on whenever she thought she was doing particularly well. As the game picked up, Sansa’s focused slipped slightly, and she became more aware of the noise around her, the chatter of the commentator filling her ears.

“And there goes Ginny Weasley. I quite like her. She casts the most marvelous Bat-Bogey Hex…” the magically magnified voice said dreamily.

Sansa laughed when she recognized the voice. So Luna Lovegood was trying her hand at commenting. Previously, the post had always been taken by Lee Jordan, a Gryffindor with close ties to the Weasley twins, but he had graduated last year. Sansa had always found his commentating, interspersed with frequent arguments with Professor McGonagall, to be the highlight of the games. But, she suspected she might like Luna’s efforts even more. The quirky Ravenclaw always made the most unusual, and startlingly perceptive, observations, and Sansa was certain Luna wouldn’t disappoint as commentator. A quick glance at the girl told her that Luna was even wearing her lion headdress in support of Gryffindor, which occasionally belted out realistic roars for the crowd.

Arya smacked a Bludger in the path of a Slytherin Chaser, forcing him to dodge and drop the Quaffle right into Katie Bell’s waiting arms.

“Arya Stark is sporting the loveliest new hairdo today, I do hope she keeps the color.”

The Quaffle passed to Gendry Waters (“Such a calming name, Waters.”), who managed to get past the Slytherin Keeper and score. The crowd erupted in cheers, punctuated by moans from Slytherin supporters, which only increased in volume as Ron Weasley blocked their team’s attempts to score. Luna began to talk about a cloud that she thought looked like Ravenclaw’s lost diadem, ruminating on the crown’s attributes until a collective gasp reverberated throughout the crowd. Harry Potter, Gryffindor’s Seeker, had just dipped in a spectacular dive, followed closely by Draco, the Slytherin Seeker.

Sansa stood with the other students, grasping Margaery’s hand as they waited anxiously for the Snitch’s capture. Once the Snitch was caught, the game would be over, the winning Seeker earning his team an extra one hundred and fifty points, so this moment was absolutely pivotal. Draco was gaining on Harry, but Arya sent a well timed Bludger that spun him off course, and Harry triumphed, rising in the air once more with the Snitch clutched tightly in his fist.

The sound was deafening as the Gryffindors roared in approval, sounding much like the lions they were, and Sansa and Margaery rushed onto the field with the others to congratulate Arya and her teammates. Both Arya and Harry were lifted into the air, followed by their teammates, and Sansa watched as they were carried away, Arya’s face flushed with pride over winning her first game. Sansa and Margaery followed the Gryffindors back to the school at a slower pace, chatting animatedly about Arya’s accomplishments, the rest of their classmates crowded around them.

When they reached the school doors closest to the pitch, however, they found the way barred, packed with students inexplicably refusing to enter. The students closest to the doors were all grouped together in a hushed silence, which quickly swallowed up the merriment of the approaching crowd. Sansa stood on tiptoes along with Margaery, trying to figure out just what exactly was wrong, as Professor McGonagall ordered the students to make room for her passage and swept through the doors. McGonagall’s face went white, and her voice trembled as she ordered the prefects to escort their houses back to their common rooms via other entrances, with due haste.

Several students gasped, but did as their teacher bid them. Sansa and Margaery exchanged startled looks, before Margaery was forced to attend to her duties, leading the other Hufflepuffs away to a door near the entrance hall, and the kitchens. Feeling slightly sick, Sansa followed the other Slytherins, led by Draco and Daphne Greengrass, on a path that took them directly to the dungeons, her mind whirring with possibilities. She suspected that whatever had attacked Mrs. Norris that night had struck again, and judging by the expression on McGonagall’s face, the victim wasn’t an animal this time.

The Slytherins packed into their common room, faces glum, though whether they were simply upset over the result of today’s game, or worried about whatever had happened, wasn’t easily discernable. For once, Sansa didn’t immediately head for her dormitory. She knew that whenever possible, someone would come to give them further instruction. As head of Slytherin, Petyr should technically be the one to do so, but considering he had stepped out to the Ministry, she wondered if that would be the case today. Would he return to help?

Sansa tucked herself into a corner, sinking down on the floor to wait, since there weren’t enough chairs to seat them all. The room slipped into an uneasy silence, no one willing to, or perhaps knowing how to, shatter it. The wait was painfully long, but finally the door to the common room slid open, admitting Petyr. She felt her heart leap when she saw him, and struggled to keep herself from doing the same, right into his arms, instead rising slowly to her feet.

His expression was bleak as he addressed them all, tone sober. “There has been another attack. Gryffindor Colin Creevey was found Petrified in the entrance hall, and has been taken to the hospital wing. No one is permitted to leave their common rooms until further notice. Lunch will be provided shortly. If anyone has any information pertaining to the attacks, the Headmaster urges you to come forward.”

No one spoke, though several had exclaimed in horror when they heard about Colin. Sansa reached out to Petyr in her mind, touching his thoughts as his gaze swept over his students, look calculating. He was searching their minds, she realized, looking for anything that might reveal the culprit.

Petyr shook his head, looking resigned. “I will return soon. If anyone dares to leave the common room without my express permission, the consequences will be dire.”

With that, he turned to leave, his thoughts suddenly clear to Sansa as he stepped from the room. ‘Be safe, my love.’

Chapter Text

Sunday, November 22nd

 

Sansa:

The students of Hogwarts weren’t able to leave their common rooms again until the following morning, after the staff finally decided the danger had passed. When Sansa was finally free to leave her common room, she had never felt so relieved. Packed in with all of her fellow Slytherins, the common room and her dormitory had become less of a safe space, and the constant presence of countless others had quickly grated on her nerves. She chose a seat at the Slytherin table closest to the head table, keeping as far away from the other students as she could. If she could have, she wouldn’t have come to the Great Hall for breakfast all, craving much needed solitude, but alas, her stomach wouldn’t allow it.

Petyr was there, seated so very close to her, and yet still so far away, and though she needed time alone, his presence was always welcome to her. Sansa joined minds with him again eagerly, hoping to learn more about what had happened to Colin. She didn’t know the Gryffindor fifth year very well, but he had always seemed like a nice boy, if a bit annoying with his Muggle made camera his near constant companion. He had even asked her for a signed picture back when he was a first year, and she was in her second year, and she had begrudgingly granted his request.

‘Hello, sweetling.’

Sansa’s heart instantly lightened as his voice filled her mind. ‘Oh Petyr, I’ve missed you.’

‘I’ve missed you too. Yesterday was a most trying day. Today likely won’t be much better.’ As he spoke in her mind, he focused on his breakfast, acting as though he wasn’t carrying on a secret conversation without speaking a word aloud.

‘Do they have any idea who might be behind this?’ Sansa worked through her own plate of food, too hungry not to eat the deliciously fragrant ham and egg frittata available today.

‘No. There is little question that the Chamber of Secrets has been opened, and that Slytherin’s heir is the culprit. But as to who that might be, or where the Chamber is….’

‘But Colin. He’s not dead?’

‘Not dead. Petrified. He was found with his camera, apparently in the middle of snapping a picture at the time. The camera, along with the roll of film, was destroyed in the attack, so if he did happen to capture a still of the culprit, it was all for naught. The foolish boy should have run when he had the opportunity.’ Petyr sounded tired and frustrated, and Sansa could hardly blame him. He had likely spent all of yesterday investigating the matter, before attempting to take care of the work he had planned on doing that day. That Colin might have taken a picture of his attacker, only for the film to be destroyed, was rotten luck, though she supposed not completely unexpected. Whoever had Petrified Colin wouldn’t want any evidence concerning his identity found.

‘When will the mandrakes be ready?’ Sansa asked, knowing the magical plant was essential to the potion which would restore victims of Petrification.

‘Sometime around May. April at the earliest.’

‘That long? But he will miss the whole school year!’ She was somewhat alarmed and more than a little confused about the wait. ‘Surely there must be other crops that have properly matured.’

‘I’m afraid not. We’ve already looked into it. Our crop is the furthest along. Professor Sprout is doing what she can to speed along the process, but there isn’t much she can do. Besides, if the attacks continue, I imagine the school won’t remain open for long. Not unless the culprit is caught,’ Petyr replied, finishing the last few bites of his breakfast and rising from the table. ‘I have to go, my love. We will talk more on Monday.’

Sansa couldn’t restrain the sigh that escaped her lungs when she heard this, but didn’t protest. ‘Alright. I love you. Please be careful.’

He locked eyes with her and flashed her a brief but genuine smile. ‘I love you too. Be on your guard.’

------------------------------------------------

Petyr:

Petyr returned to his office after breakfast and sat down, putting his head in his hands. A headache was quickly building, an insistent throb that was robbing him of what little clarity he had left after a sleepless night. Normally he reveled in the Chaos life brought, but this seemed a bit much.

Even before the attacks had started, his workload had been almost overwhelming. He was maintaining his duties at the Ministry, as Master of Coin, and liaison to the goblins, while teaching Potions to every year at Hogwarts, and overseeing the students of his house. Add to that Legilimency lessons with Sansa, and keeping their relationship under wraps, finding out the Philosopher’s Stone’s whereabouts, and furthering his own schemes for power, and he was finding himself nearly stretched to the breaking point. Being pulled in so many directions was likely to backfire on him at some point, but he sure as hell wasn’t willing to sacrifice any of it. If only Slytherin’s heir hadn’t decided to make a most unwelcome appearance….

In truth, Petyr hadn’t done much in regards to the Philosopher’s Stone. Nothing that was worth reporting to Tywin anyway. Every teacher, with the exception of Lockhart, who didn’t have anything worth knowing rattling around his brain anyway, was skilled enough in Occlumency to keep out unwanted intrusions. With time and care, he might have been able to get around their efforts, but he really couldn’t be bothered. It wasn’t worth the time and effort. Instead, he was slowly ingratiating himself with the staff, lending a helping hand when necessary, gaining trust in his future allies.

Tywin, of course, was anxious to have the Stone, but Petyr managed to calm his fears, ‘unexpectedly’ finding money here or there to slowly rebuild the Lannister fortune, or fixing small things in the Ministry budget, to mollify him. If he played his cards right, he could string Tywin along for as long as necessary, before finally making his move. In the meantime, the Stone’s location, and the various protections the teachers had given it, weren’t a top priority.

The Ministry’s finances weren’t exceptionally difficult either, as he was purposely keeping them in debt, and it would only hurt his plans to do anything other than make minor adjustments towards progress. Petyr needed the Ministry finances in disarray, he had, in fact, helped make them that way. Just as he had brought the Lannisters into debt.

Both actions had been necessary in order to increase Tywin’s desperation, making the man flounder for a quick fix, that of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. As Petyr had predicted, Tywin had sent his goons after it, who failed due to Petyr’s anonymous tip to Nicholas Flamel. The Stone was then moved to Hogwarts six years ago, as he had known it would, since Dumbledore and Flamel were old friends and alchemical partners.

Tywin had given up the Stone then as a lost cause, until Petyr brought it back to the forefront of the Minister’s mind, using his influence with the goblins to increase the pressure on Tywin. At the same time, Petyr had paid a visit to his old teacher, Horace Slughorn, and convinced him to retire, before applying for the newly vacated position of Potions Master. Dumbledore hadn’t especially wanted to hire him, but since the school year was nearly upon them, he’d had little choice. And so, when Tywin again set his sights on the Stone, Petyr was in a prime position to search for it, just as he had planned.

But now, now it was a matter of waiting. Waiting and getting closer to the Hogwarts staff, gaining their trust, and keeping Tywin satisfied with just enough information, until the time was right. Keeping both the Ministry budget exactly as needed, and the Minster happy, was a delicate balance to be sure, but he managed it all the same. It luckily didn’t require too much of his attention, but any mistakes he made would be disastrous. So it was essential that he kept his wits about him, something that was becoming increasingly difficult as the days slipped by.

It wasn’t his position as goblin liaison, no that required very little work indeed. Nor was it his attempts at bringing Muggle technology into the wizarding world. No, it was his work here at Hogwarts. And Sansa. His little red wolf, a girl he had never planned for, who had somehow become his. Dealing with adolescents every day, teaching Potions to everyone from aged eleven to seventeen, was a harder task than he could ever have imagined. Even without having an affair with one of his sixth years.

But it was necessary. Petyr needed to find out about his students, to know their thoughts and dreams and fears, in order to better market the Muggle technology. But to slip into their minds was exhausting. Every mind except for Sansa’s was incredibly grating to his nerves; he had forgotten how suffocating the drama of teenagers could be, how much they felt every ‘tragedy’ that befell them. Though, in truth, he often felt that the drama of schoolchildren never left many adults, only ripening with age. It certainly was true with the Lannisters.

He knew, of course, that the excess of emotions he now experienced from his students on a daily basis wouldn’t be as jarring if he hadn’t been suppressing said emotions for years. And perhaps that was part of the reason he had so easily fallen for Sansa. The environment he was now living in was a madhouse of hormones and mood swings, and by tapping into the minds of others, he was absorbing everything tenfold until he regressed back into his teenaged self.

But, Petyr knew it was certainly more than that. He loved her, loved her so intensely that he was willing to risk everything to be with her, loved her more than he thought was even possible, considering the ice within his heart. The fire of her mind was steadily engulfing the forest of his, and instead of running from the flames, he had stayed, and would until she completely consumed him, burning him to ash.

And, if all of that hadn’t been nearly enough for one man, history was repeating itself. The Chamber of Secrets had been opened up again, and Slytherin’s heir was attacking students. Everything was quickly falling apart. If he could not find the culprit and stop the attacks, the school would close, and not only would he be separated from Sansa, but he would lose everything he had worked so hard for. Years of plans, dashed in an instant. He always planned for every contingency, but how on earth could he have predicted this? Chaos had thrown him for a loop that he wasn’t certain of catching. The next rung on the ladder had to be there, but it was eluding him. And if he could not climb? What then? Would he fall? Or would he remain stagnant? And which was preferable?

It wasn’t long before his musings were rudely interrupted by an owl with a summons to the Ministry. Petyr wasn’t surprised, but all the same was less than thrilled as he got up and grabbed his briefcase before traveling via the always detestable Floo Network. He had been at the Ministry yesterday when he received an urgent request for his return, the school in a panic after Colin Creevey’s Petrified form had been found. Tywin had let him go, warning him that the meeting would continue the following day, with or without him. Petyr rather wished the school was still in a state of emergency, so that he might have a viable excuse for not attending. But, alas, the search through the castle and grounds had yielded no clues of further danger, decidedly refusing to cooperate with his wishes.

Petyr stepped from the grate and returned to his office to grab a few files and brush away any soot lingering on his clothes from the journey, before heading to the meeting. When he arrived, he was unsurprised to see everyone else already seated, chatting amongst themselves:

Tywin was at the head of the table, with his three children, Cersei (head of the Department of Magical Transportation), Jaime (head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement), and Tyrion (head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation). In addition to the Lannisters, there was also Varys (head of the Department of Mysteries), Renly Baratheon (head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures), Stannis Baratheon (head of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes), and Ros (senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic). The only department that wasn’t represented was the Department of Magical Games and Sports, Ludo Bagman at its helm, but that hardly mattered. Ludo rarely attended the meetings, as it wasn’t absolutely essential for a man knowledgeable about Quidditch and the like to provide input in governing the magical world.

As Petyr took the only vacant seat, situated the furthest from the Minister, and therefore least desirable, Cersei shot him a smug look. “Too busy grading papers to be punctual?” she asked, voice a low purr reminiscent of the lion she was, lips stained red, as though she had recently feasted on a fresh kill.

“I left as soon I received the summons. My apologies for any inconveniences you might have suffered due to my tardiness. I would send for a bottle of wine to make up for it, but I see you’ve already indulged quite enough despite the fact that it’s mid morning,” Petyr replied, too tired to simply let her remarks slide today.

Tyrion snorted into his own full goblet of wine, prompting a scathing look from his older sister before she opened her mouth to make a retort. Before she could say anything, Tywin spoke, paying no mind to their bickering. “Do you have anything new to report regarding the current situation at Hogwarts?” Next to him, Ros, a red haired beauty in her twenties, the seemingly faithful secretary and lover to the Minister of Magic, readied her quill and parchment, waiting to take diligent notes of the meeting.

Petyr shook his head. “My last letter told you everything of import. The boy, and the cat, are both still alive, but unfortunately are not likely to be revived until April or May. The school has been searched extensively, but the Chamber remains as elusive as ever. And the culprit is still very much at large.”

Stannis Baratheon leaned forward, mouth set in a firm line. “And Albus still thinks it’s wise to keep the school open?”

“For the time being, yes. He doesn’t want to rob his students of a proper education. Security has been tightened. The portraits and resident ghosts are on high alert, as are the house elves that flit about unseen. Little happens at the school that the Headmaster isn’t aware of,” Petyr said, using his wand to summon his own glass of elf made wine and taking a sip, hoping to ward off the stress headache brewing at his temples.

Cersei snorted in derision. “Clearly his scope is lacking, if he hasn’t the faintest clue as to who might be behind the attacks.”

“The man isn’t omniscient, nor did I imply as such. You are welcome to search the school yourself, if you are so inclined,” Petyr said curtly. He really had little patience left to deal with the Lannister woman today.

“That won’t be necessary,” Tywin interjected, cutting off Cersei’s reply. “I am confident in Dumbledore’s abilities. We will give him more time before we decide to step in.”

“I don’t see why we don’t just act now,” Cersei snapped. “That half-breed giant is still at the school. He’s likely responsible. Joffrey tells me he’s even teaching Care of Magical Creatures.”

Tyrion scowled at his sister. “Hagrid’s only crime is that he has the audacity to be different. The man is no more guilty of Petrifying students than I am. If you had any sense, dear sister, you would know that the Ministry only declared his guilt when any other answer eluded them. The poor kid was simply a scapegoat, taking the blame while the true culprit dances out of our reach.”

Renly Baratheon frowned. “If what you say is true, then perhaps whoever attacked the students over seventy years ago has returned.”

“It’s very possible. Though, if need be, we might find it necessary to repeat our predecessors’ actions. If the attacks continue, and word gets out, we will take Hagrid into custody, if only to give an appearance of maintaining control over the situation,” Tywin said.

“I will take no part in such deception,” Tyrion declared. “The man has done nothing to deserve a trip to Azkaban.”

“If we must sacrifice Hagrid’s mental health in order to placate the masses, I have no qualms doing so. There may be little other options available,” Tywin told his son, voice edged with warning.

At that Cersei rose from her seat, her knuckles white as she clenched her wineglass. “And what about the students! Might I remind you that your grandchildren are at Hogwarts? They are in danger, and yet you insist on doing nothing?”

Varys spoke, his voice quiet and even, but still easily audible in the room that had stilled from Cersei’s outburst. “If history is indeed repeating itself, you have little to worry about. The victims were all Muggleborns during the first incident. And if I am not mistaken, Mr. Creevey is of the same blood status.”

Cersei looked momentarily placated, before she turned to Petyr, lip curling, eyes triumphant as she pounced on a prime opportunity to ridicule him. “I suppose you’d best watch your back then, Littlefinger.”

“Enough,” Tywin growled. “We have work to do. Stannis, progress report.”

Chapter Text

Monday, November 23rd to Sunday, November 29th

 

On Monday Sansa could tell the teachers were all on edge, shoulders and mouths tight, eyes ever watchful, as if they were certain another attack wasn’t far off. But as the week dragged on, and no students or animals were put in any danger (any more than usual anyway, accidents tended to happen quite often in a school for underage wizards) their postures visibly relaxed, though their demeanor was still a far cry from normalcy. Only Lockhart remained as jovial as ever, re-enacting his heroic moments with extreme bravado, and chiding them when they didn’t act as impressed as he wanted them to.

Sansa was eagerly waiting for the week to end, and the next week to begin. Her seventeenth birthday was on Monday the 30th, and she would be spending all day Sunday in Petyr’s arms, celebrating. And, of course, they would have their usual private lessons on Monday, after dinner, to celebrate again. She couldn’t wait. He had sworn to make the day memorable, making plans to whisk her off to his home on Sunday so that they could do as they wished, undisturbed.

Saturday the 28th promised to be a treat as well, with another opportunity to visit Hogsmeade waiting for her. Since Petyr would be spending the day swamped with work, Sansa would be enjoying the various charms of the little village with her two best friends. She was looking forward to wandering the shops with Margaery and Arya, and indulging in foaming tankards of hot Butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks. Her friends had decided they would spoil her on the trip, celebrating the fact that she would officially be of age on Monday. In addition, since they would be spending all day Saturday together, Sansa knew her friends wouldn’t question her absence on Sunday, which was another lovely little perk.

When the weekend finally came, Sansa woke early Saturday morning with a wide smile stretching her lips, and got ready for the trip into Hogsmeade without it wavering once. She dressed warmly in black jeans and a soft, cream colored sweater, and headed up to the Great Hall for breakfast with a bounce in her step. Margaery was seated alone at the Hufflepuff table, yawning into a bowl of sugary cereal, as Sansa climbed onto the bench next to her. Before long, Arya joined them, and they all tucked into their meals, chatting excitedly about what they wanted to do once they got to the village.

Once they finished eating, they joined the queue waiting to leave for Hogsmeade, Filch fastidiously checking that their names were on the list of students who were approved to visit the village, before allowing them to pass. When they reached their destination, Arya dragged them into Zonko’s Joke Shop, where they spent a great deal of time testing out the merchandise. Margaery fell victim to a nose-biting teacup that Arya had filled with water when her friend had complained of thirst. In retaliation, Margaery had offered Arya a pair of seemingly innocuous gloves, which proceeded to make Arya slap herself across the face when she took them and put them on.

When they found a large bowl of candies that promised to alter their voices in countless ways, they bought a generous helping, and left the store, helping themselves to the sweets as they made a trip to the infamous Shrieking Shack. Arya chose the first sweet, voice dipping several octaves as she said, “Mmmm, butterscotch.”

The girls dissolved into giggles. “You sound almost like Hagrid,” Margaery said, reaching into the bag to try one for herself. When she spoke again, her voice was high and nasal-y, and almost unmistakably like Lysa Arryn’s.

“Ugh, no Marge, try another sweet. You sound like my aunt,” Sansa begged, grabbing two sweets from the bag and giving Margaery one before eating the other.

“Better?” Margaery asked, voice reminiscent of Rickon’s when he was a toddler.

Sansa giggled, or at least she tried to. It came out more like a bark. Her friends burst out laughing as she tried to speak, and only succeeded in barking excitedly at them, her howls of laughter indistinguishable from her words.

“Fang!” Arya cried, sounding so much like Hagrid as she threw her arms around Sansa. “You know better than to bark,” she scolded, trying to maintain a serious expression.

Sansa stuck her tongue out at her friend and grabbed the bag of sweets, popping another in her mouth. “Very funny,” she said, voice sounding as if she was speaking from under water.

They continued to try the candies until the bag was empty, voices turning squeaky and hyper, low and gravelly, sensuous and demure. Arya tried one that made her oink and squeal, and had to fight hard to gain her breath back as her own laughter kept spurring her on in a vicious cycle. Margaery found another that made her purr and meow, and even hiss, and when Arya found another sweet like the one Sansa had tried, she chased her friend around, barking madly, Margaery yowling in complaint.

Sansa particularly enjoyed one that turned her voice into one that almost exactly matched Petyr’s, refusing to try another one for awhile as she had fun saying silly things that normally wouldn’t leave his lips. Arya had no clue why she favored that particular voice, but Margaery did, and kept shooting Sansa knowing looks. Sansa didn’t bother to address it, or discourage Margaery’s playful looks. She almost wanted her friend to find out. If Margaery, at least, knew, then she’d have someone she could go to for advice, or just to gush over Petyr with. The fact that she was so happy, and couldn’t confide in her best friends about it, was starting to get to her.

They stopped at The Three Broomsticks for lunch, sipping on Butterbeer and chowing down on fried chicken and chips. After they finished eating, they visited Honeydukes and acquired several bulging bags of sweets, before dropping in Scrivenshaft’s and a few other shops, idly browsing their wares as they chatted. When they had exhausted all options available in the village, they returned to Hogwarts and ambled around the grounds for a bit with Lady, Nymeria and Grey Wind, taking a break for dinner, before taking refuge in a back corner of the library, away from Madame Pince’s prying eyes.

As they indulged in the sweets they had purchased from Honeydukes, Margaery and Arya produced several wrapped packages from their bags, all addressed to Sansa. Grinning widely, Sansa opened her gifts, crying out in delight at the contents. Margaery had given her a charm bracelet, complete with a direwolf pendant that actually opened its mouth in a silent howl, a weirwood tree charm whose leaves rustled in a nonexistent breeze, a cauldron with soft vapors rising from its depths, a tiny dress that slowly embroidered itself with intricate designs, and a heart shaped pendant that slowly beat in time to her own.

Arya’s gift was less elaborate, but no less treasured: a mokeskin bag that prevented the theft of its contents-only Sansa could ever retrieve anything from inside. The last package was from Sansa’s Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Rhaegar (and from Bran and Rickon, in name at least): a large box packed with various art and sewing supplies, and a book of rare and unusual potion recipes.

Sansa hugged her friends gratefully, thanking them profusely for such thoughtful gifts, and they spent the rest of the evening goofing off until Madame Pince found them and chased them out of the library. Forced to return to her common room, Sansa lazed around in her bed reading her new Potions book until she was too tired to stay up any longer, finally succumbing to sleep with Lady curled up at her feet.

Her dreams were ridiculous rather than scary, for once, centering around her teachers accidentally ingesting those sweets from Zonko’s. Lockhart and Petyr got into a shouting match, Lockhart shrieking like an indignant monkey as Petyr chirped back mockingly, while Professor Dumbledore buzzed angrily over them, and Professor Flitwick mooed mournfully in the corner. She woke the next morning in a fit of giggles, which kept erupting out of her, refusing to subside as she got ready for the day.

Petyr hadn’t told her what they would be doing today, but she wanted to look her best regardless, even if she spent the majority of the day wearing nothing at all. She showered and shaved, dressing in a form fitting, long sleeved, emerald green dress with lace detailing, black leggings, and matching emerald flats (they hadn’t been quite the right shade initially but with a bit of magic the color deepened beautifully to go with her dress). Afterwards, Sansa used her wand to curl sections of her hair once she had dried it, leaving her long locks loose and tousled, and applied a bit of makeup.

That finished, she returned to the trunk by her bed and quietly dug out what she wanted (she had risen earlier than normal, at least for a Sunday, and many of the other sixth years were still fast asleep). The charm bracelet Margaery had gifted her was promptly fastened around her wrist, and, once she found the tiny potion bottle hidden at the bottom of her trunk, Felix Felicis found a new home in her brand new mokeskin bag, which she tucked carefully into her handbag. Sansa hadn’t forgotten the potion she had won during her very first lesson with Petyr, but in truth she hadn’t found much need for it yet. She already felt so incredibly lucky, with her two best friends, Lady, and Petyr by her side. But that didn’t mean she might never have use for its effects. Perhaps she might take a sip today or tomorrow, just to make her birthday truly extraordinary. Or maybe she would wait until just the right moment, when she was in an extreme need of good luck.

She swept her best winter cloak around her shoulders and left, heading straight for Petyr’s office, making sure no one noticed as she tread the familiar path. Just as it had been the last time she’d met Petyr for a day out, his office door was unlocked, as well as the door to his private quarters. They hadn’t specified a time, but she knew he was likely to be awake already. He never did get much sleep. When Sansa stepped inside, he was slipping on his shoes, nearly ready for the day in his usual suit and tie, his mockingbird pin already in place.

Petyr stood, his shoes tying themselves as he took in her appearance. “You look lovely, as always.”

Sansa grinned, closing the door behind her and meeting him halfway. “I might say the same about you,” she said, smoothing her hands up his chest to his shoulders, smiling as he kissed her good morning.

“Happy almost Birthday,” he replied. “Soon I will have one less reason to feel guilty at night.”

“You don’t feel guilty about anything,” she teased.

“Hmm, you may be right about that,” Petyr mused. “At least, where most things are concerned. I most certainly would feel guilty if I ever brought harm to you, intentionally or otherwise.”

Sansa shook her head. “You’re hopeless. But at least you’ve got one redeemable trait,” she said, still teasing him.

He smirked at her. “Oh? Only one? Pray, enlighten me. What is this one redeemable trait you speak of?”

“That you love me,” she replied, eyes dancing.

Petyr nodded. “A most desirable trait indeed. But hardly something I am alone in. Perhaps you’d rather be with the Malfoy boy, if that’s all that’s keeping you by my side,” he said loftily.

She mock glared at him. “You’re fishing for compliments. And it’s my birthday. You’re hardly winning my favor at the moment, being so self absorbed.”

He laughed. “Oh, I promise you sweetling. Today will more than make up for it.”

“Mmm, I hope so. Because I’m rather cross with my ridiculously sexy Potions Master at the moment.” She smirked at him, and then kissed him, because in all honesty she wasn’t simply flattering his ego with playful banter. She was probably biased, but he was completely irresistible to her.

“You need to work a bit on your lying skills where I am concerned,” Petyr said. “You’re most certainly not upset with me in the slightest.”

“And you’re just being an ass,” Sansa pointed out, rolling her eyes. “You know full well we were just toying with each other.”

Petyr shrugged. “I don’t deny it. Nor that I am still doing it. You love me anyway.”

She raised an eyebrow. “For how long though, if you keep insisting on vexing me so?”

“Alright, alright, I’ll stop,” he promised, kissing her again. “You ready to go?”

“Yup,” Sansa said, feeling positively giddy with excitement over whatever Petyr had planned for their day together. She hoped that maybe he might let her play around with his store of rare potions supplies, or maybe cook her a meal of all of her favorite things (the information likely stolen from her mind during multiple wanderings). Or maybe he’d just spend the day worshipping her between the sheets. She honestly couldn’t decide which of the three she wanted more. Perhaps they could brew potions and then give into their lust while they simmered, indulging in food whenever they were in desperate need of extra energy. Were there any potions that had aphrodisiac-like effects?

Petyr led her over to the fireplace, trying not to laugh as he listened to her thoughts, which were unguarded around him as always. Sansa only shot him a look of defiance, refusing to feel embarrassed by her musings, and he quickly schooled his features so that they didn’t betray his thoughts, as he sprinkled a bit of Floo Powder into the flames. She stepped into the fire, purposely not joining his mind, because if she did she knew she’d want to smack him for teasing her so much. He spoke, words barely intelligible over the crackle of the fire filling her ears, and she was whisked away, spinning rapidly through the network of grates until she finally reached the right one. Her revolutions stopped and she stepped from the fireplace, legs slightly unsteady from the disorienting travel.

Chapter Text

Sansa was once again in Petyr’s home office, and though this was only her second time there, she felt completely at home. After all, the place was an extension of the man she loved, the man she was beginning to know almost as well as herself. She wandered over to his desk, sitting in the chair and picking up what she now knew was called a computer mouse, or just a mouse, for short.

She really hadn’t the faintest clue why it was called that. There wasn’t any resemblance to the furry rodents that commonly scurried about homes, evading housecats and stealing crumbs from their unsuspecting hosts, but she didn’t pretend to understand Muggles. Maybe, in time, she would, since Petyr still very much held on to his Muggle origins. She played idly with the little wheel set into the top as she studied the room, taking in details that had previously escaped her notice, from the Muggle paintings hung on the walls, to the shelves packed with thick volumes and the occasional figurine.

She had little time to take everything in, however, as soon Petyr appeared in the flames, stepping out from their warmth seemingly completely unaffected by the fact that he had just been spinning like a cyclone through the Floo Network. He adjusted his tie, which was slightly askew from the trip, and walked over to where she was sitting, taking her hands and pulling her gently to her feet.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

Sansa’s stomach audibly growled in response, and they both laughed. Before, she might have felt mortified at such things, but it had been over two months now, and she wasn’t bothered in the least that her body was showing its hunger. “Apparently,” she replied.

“Would you like some breakfast then? I had my house elves pick up everything needed for waffles.” As he spoke, he guided her from the room, heading towards the kitchen.

“You have house elves?” Sansa hadn’t seen any when she had been here last time. Though it was said that the mark of a good house elf was that you never noticed their presence….

“I have two. I sent them away for the day last time, and this time as well. It would not do for them to know you’ve been visiting. Someone I know at the Ministry gets all of his intel from his dealings with house elves, and though they profess loyalty, they cannot shield their minds from this man. The elves are forbidden from entering the attic, which is sealed so that only I may enter it, and anytime I want privacy, I send them on errands.”

They reached the kitchen and took seats opposite each other at the kitchen table. Petyr continued talking even as the kitchen sprung to life under his direction, waffle batter mixing in a bowl while a waffle iron waited nearby, heating to the correct temperature. “I know you’ve joined that club that’s become quite popular at the school as of late. If you are worried about the treatment of my house elves, I can assure you they live quite comfortably. Much like the house elves that work at Hogwarts, in fact.”

Sansa believed him. She could tell he wasn’t lying, from the skills she had developed as a Legilimens, but it was more than that. Petyr wasn’t a good man, but he wasn’t needlessly cruel. He wouldn’t benefit from treating his house elves poorly. The species was bred with a conviction that they were only happy if they were serving wizardkind. They lived and breathed for their masters, and were only too eager to do anything they asked, unfailingly loyal. There wasn’t any need for cruelty to keep them in line, a fact which made the Malfoys’ treatment of Dobby that much worse. “Ok,” she said simply, watching as the the batter poured itself into the crevices set into the waffle iron with precision, and the lid closed.

Soon, stacks of waffles were piled onto two plates, topped with fruit tossed in the most delicious lemony syrup. Sansa eagerly ate every bite that was served her, not caring if she looked as if she was over-indulging. It was too good, and she hardly thought Petyr cared if she ate like an actual person; she knew some men looked down on women for such things, but Petyr wasn’t like that. She could act naturally around him, knowing he wouldn’t judge her. He wasn’t nearly as unguarded as she was, not yet, but with time he was slowly letting her in.

When Sansa finished her breakfast, she was actually pretty disappointed that it was all gone, and that she was far too full to beg him to make more. He smirked at her as the dishes and waffle iron cleaned themselves. “I promise I will make those waffles for you again, sweetling. Cheer up, there’s more to this day than food.”

“Oh?” Sansa rose from the table as he did, standing still as he walked up to her, fingering a lock of her hair.

“Of course. But first, we must do something about your hair. And that memorable scar of yours. It would not do for anyone to recognize you when we leave.” Petyr’s eyes glinted mischievously as he removed his wand from his pocket, one hand still toying with a fiery ringlet.

“We’re leaving the house?” she asked, excitement flooding through her.

Petyr nodded, concentrating on her hair still, and Sansa looked down to see the strands darken, turning a rich shade of dark brown. He let the curl spring from his grasp and reached for her forehead, smoothing a thumb over her lightning scar, and she felt the skin there heat as he made contact. “I think that will do,” he murmured, stepping back to examine his handiwork.

“How do I look?” she asked curiously.

“Here, let me show you,” he said, taking her arm and guiding her to a nearby bathroom.

Sansa peered in the mirror, shocked at the girl staring back at her. No longer was her pale face framed by fire, but by earth, and where her scar should have been was only smooth skin. Her scar and her hair had always been such a big part of who she was. They defined her, in a way. To see herself without them was startling, to say the least. “I look almost like Arya. Like my Aunt Lyanna,” she said, brushing her hair back over her shoulder as she frowned at her reflection. “I don’t look like me.”

“No,” he agreed. “But that’s the point. Don’t worry, it’s only for a couple of hours.”

“Where are we going?” Sansa asked, following him back to the kitchen.

Petyr swung his cloak around his shoulders before helping her with her own. “Out,” he said smugly.

“If you are trying to annoy me, it’s working,” she said, rolling her eyes.

He chuckled. “Have patience, my love. You will know soon enough. It’s meant to be a surprise.”

“Fine.” Sansa made a point of sighing over-dramatically, not really all that bothered, but enjoying their banter.

They walked to the front door, but before they stepped outside, Petyr paused. “It would be best if you used a different name today. In case we happen upon anyone I know.”

She pondered this, searching for a name that would provide her with the anonymity she needed. It had to be something that wouldn’t draw any attention, or give any clue as to her true identity. The problem was, that she had never before found the want or need to adopt another name. She loved her name. It suited her, and it connected her to her parents, and it was pretty, besides. “Do you have any ideas?” she asked finally, unable to come up with anything suitable.

Petyr stroked his chin, thinking. “How about Alayne? It was my mother’s name, though few would know that. Alayne Stone?”

Sansa nodded, smiling at the gift of another small glimpse of Petyr’s past. “It’s perfect.”

“Alright then, Alayne. Let’s say you’re my niece. You’ve already graduated, and have decided to visit your uncle in hopes of securing a job at Gringotts.”

“Ok,” she said, filing that away in her mind in case she needed it later.

He opened the door and they stepped outside. Sansa stood on the porch and glanced around, taking in their surroundings. They hadn’t left the house at all last time, not even to explore the grounds, and she was only just now realizing that he lived in what was likely a very posh neighborhood, with gorgeous sprawling homes everywhere she looked and perfectly manicured lawns. Each house, or rather mansion, had expansive grounds, all surrounded with fencing that was both decorative and functional.

Petyr took her hand and they walked down the front steps, taking a walkway to what Sansa knew (from her time at Winterfell with her Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Rhaegar, who both drove) was a driveway. The driveway extended behind the house, ending in another building with a large door, but Petyr turned the opposite direction, heading towards the gate set at the end, and the street beyond.

“This is a Muggle neighborhood,” she said, somewhat surprised. Wizard didn’t normally live quite so near to other Muggles. It was too hard to keep their magic a secret with so many prying eyes around.

“Yes,” Petyr said, opening a door set into one of the two larger doors that barred the driveway and waving her through.

Sansa obliged, staring through the gate at the driveway as he closed the door and locked it with a tap of his wand. “Do you have a car?” While she wasn’t too fond of the fact that her Aunt Lyanna insisted on driving them long distances, and the Targaryen-Stark van wasn’t exactly anything special, she had a feeling that Petyr’s car would be much cooler. If he had one, of course.

“Yes,” he smirked at her. “But we won’t be using it today. Much faster just to Apparate where we need to go.”

“Petyr,” she said, somewhat exasperated. “I don’t know how to Apparate yet. I don’t even turn seventeen until tomorrow, even if I did know how,” she reminded him.

“Yes, I know. I can take you via Side-Along Apparition. As long as you hold tightly to my arm, you’ll come with me,” Petyr said, holding out his arm expectantly.

Sansa looked around. The street was still quite a distance away, the driveway nestled between towering wrought iron fences wound with crawling ivy. No one would see them disappear into thin air. She slipped her arm into his, gripping his hand firmly.

Petyr squeezed her hand gently, giving her a sideways glance. “Ready?”

She nodded, and he twisted, and suddenly she felt the air leave her lungs, as some external force pressed into her from every angle and they whisked away into impenetrable darkness. It wasn’t painful, but highly uncomfortable, for the brief moment that it lasted, and when whatever had gripped her like a vice lessened its hold, and they appeared in an alleyway, she was visibly relieved, eagerly taking in the oxygen that had been sapped from her seconds before. Her arm was still tucked into Petyr’s, his hand still holding hers securely, and she leaned into him gratefully as she fought to recover from the sensation.

“It gets easier,” he reassured her, pulling her close for a hug and dropping a kiss on her forehead.

“That’s almost worse than traveling by Floo Powder,” she said weakly.

“You think so? I much prefer Apparition. Faster. Less mess.”

Sansa giggled. “Gods forbid you get soot on your fancy clothes.”

“Hey now, is that any way to speak to your uncle?” Petyr teased, stepping away from her.

“No, I suppose not,” she smirked at him, and lowered her voice. “But I wasn’t speaking to my uncle just then.”

He shook his head, but a smirk quirked his lips as he did so. “Come on, Alayne. If you would just behave, then maybe we can get to what I’ve planned for today.”

Sansa stuck her tongue out at him, hoping to goad him with the immature act.

“I’d keep that tongue inside your mouth if I were you,” he said loftily, walking away from her. “Someone might bite it off, and then the world would be robbed of your sweet voice.”

“Who?” she challenged, falling into step beside him.

“Keep it up and you might find out,” Petyr warned.

“Maybe I will,” Sansa replied obstinately, enjoying the role she was playing as an apparently very bratty niece. A wicked thought occurred to her and she couldn’t help but voice it. “I’m certain you would feel the loss nearly as much as me,” she said slyly.

He chuckled and then spoke out of the corner of his mouth. “Maybe so. But perhaps such thoughts might be better left unsaid. At least out loud, hmm?”

She smiled, and joined minds with him, engaging in a battle of words that only the two of them could hear, which kept turning quite filthy as they continued walking, finally stopping just outside a shop. Petyr opened the door for her and ushered her inside, before following her in. Sansa stared around for a moment, wide eyed, before turning to look at him. “What are we doing here?”

“I thought you might like a new dress. What you are wearing is beautiful, but I had always planned to take you here, to prepare you for later events, so I thought we could stop in anyway. See if anything catches your eye.”

She nodded, and smiled, gesturing towards a rack of lingerie as they walked through the store. “Anything?” she tested, grabbing a see-through nightie and holding it up for him to see.

He smirked at her. “I think you might be a bit cold, but sure.” His eyes glinted wickedly as he continued, “I could always put some sort of glamour over you, so that only I will see what you’re really wearing.”

“Hmm, maybe next time,” Sansa mused, making a beeline for the evening dresses when she spotted them in the back.

The next hour was quickly lost as she made her way through the selection of dresses, picking out her favorites, and heading into the dressing room to try them on. She had no idea what he was planning, but she assumed she’d need something similar to what she was already wearing, possibly a bit fancier. Petyr made no complaint as she deliberated over her choices, offering his opinion when she asked for it, and showing no signs of wanting to leave or for her to hurry up. Either he didn’t mind shopping, or he was very good at hiding his distaste (a quick glance in his mind told her that he was enjoying helping her, which made her smile. She loved clothes shopping, and had little opportunity to do so, and it gladdened her heart to find something else in common with him).

When nothing seemed to be quite right for the occasion, and she came out of the dressing room dejectedly, he met her at the entrance with a black dress slung over his arm. Sansa took it from him curiously and went back inside to try it on. The dress was floor length and long-sleeved, made of a stretchy black crêpe material. When she wriggled into it, it hugged every curve, with a cutout in the back to show a ‘V’ of pale skin that extended to her waist, the skirt ending in a fishtail that brushed the floor. She stared at her reflection in the mirror, the dark fabric of the dress contrasting beautifully with her blue eyes and ivory complexion. Had her hair still been its usual fiery shade, she would have looked absolutely stunning. As it was, her dark locks looked lovely, somehow richer and more lustrous as they tumbled around her shoulders and bared back. The dress was absolutely perfect.

Sansa reached out in her mind, calling for him, and he came to her, ignoring the rules against men entering the women’s dressing room, slipping into her stall wordlessly. She didn’t turn around, instead watching his reflection in the mirror. The look on his face when he saw her made heat shoot straight to her core, and when he stepped up behind her, dropping a kiss on her exposed shoulder, she fell back against him, a sigh escaping her lips.

“I take it you like it?” Petyr murmured, trailing kisses up her neck and along her jaw.

She turned in his arms as their lips met, sliding her own arms around his neck as he kissed her. “I love it,” she said, when the kiss broke. “And I love you.”

 

This is the dress Sansa originally wears, only I decided I wanted it to be emerald green

And this is the dress Petyr buys for her!

Chapter Text

When Sansa found out how much the dress Petyr had picked out for her cost, her joy lessened considerably. She wasn’t sure of the conversion rates between Muggle money and Galleons, but she felt certain that over a thousand pounds was an awful lot for a dress. But Petyr assured her that he could afford it, that he had more money than anyone would ever know what to do with, and that it would make him happy to buy it for her. So, in the end, she relented. The dress was beautiful, and she looked incredible wearing it, and he had been the one to pick it out, after all. Not to mention, it was her birthday celebration.

The price still bothered her a bit, but in truth, it wasn’t so much how expensive it was, but the fact that she couldn’t buy him equally extravagant gifts. Well, she could, but then she’d quickly run out of the fortune her parents left her. But hopefully that wouldn’t always be the case. Petyr had highly ambitious plans for his future, for their future. And if he was successful, if she was there, right by his side through all of it, they likely would never want for money. She could match his gifts for her, or even top them if she wished. The future only wanted for patience, and she could give it that.

After the dress was paid for, they ambled around London, stopping in shops that caught their eyes as they passed them by. Sansa found that she loved wandering around the Muggle part of London. It was so much different than Diagon Alley, or Hogwarts, or Hogsmeade. Muggles dressed differently, and acted differently, many of them clutching various bits of Muggle technology as they went about their days.

They stopped in a few more clothing stores (“just to look,” Sansa had insisted, though she wound up getting a few things anyway. Nothing as expensive as her dress, though, and though Petyr paid for all of it, since she didn’t have any Muggle money with her, she insisted that she would pay him back), a bookstore (they spent quite a long time in there. She had fun browsing in the fantasy section, curious as to what Muggles thought of the magical world, and Petyr told her about some of the ones he remembered as a boy, that his mother used to read to him. She bought them too, looking forward to getting another glimpse into his life.), and even a pet store, where she cooed over the puppies and kittens, the hamsters and brightly colored birds. Everything they bought was sent back to his home with a spell, so that they didn’t have to lug their bags around as they enjoyed their day.

When lunchtime arrived, he let her choose, and she decided on a small coffee shop, where they ate sandwiches and crisps, ending the meal with something from the bakery (a lemon and cherry tart for her, a cheese danish for him). Afterwards, Sansa dragged Petyr into a shop packed with Christmas decorations, delighted at the way Muggles made up for the lack of magic with twinkling lights and artistry, humming along to the holiday music piped over the speakers. Christmas was still a month away, but she had always loved the holiday.

Even before she had attended Hogwarts, Christmas had always been the best day of the year. Before her Uncle Jon had died, he always made sure to be home that day, spending the day with his family. Aunt Lysa had little choice but to be nice to her when Jon Arryn was around, and when Robin was born, even he was better behaved around his father. The day was always far more peaceful, and when her uncle would tell her stories of her mother and father, the Eyrie almost felt like home.

And, of course, once Sansa had gone to Hogwarts, Christmas had become even better. Arya had invited her to visit Winterfell that first year, with promptings from her parents, and Sansa had accepted, eager to see the house that might have been her home. It had been both painful and wonderful to see Winterfell, and her first Christmas there would always hold a place in her heart. She fell in love with the snowy godswood, the stone building with hot springs underneath, the catacombs where her ancestors rested, great stone statues depicting their likenesses. And the Targaryen-Starks made her a part of their family. She had returned to Winterfell every Christmas since, though, for the first time, she wasn’t nearly as excited to go. Leaving Hogwarts would mean spending Christmas away from Petyr. What would be there first Christmas together, would be spent apart. She couldn’t imagine not returning to Winterfell for Christmas, but neither could she imagine not spending the day with him.

As her mood drifted downwards (she would say south, but in truth, it had drifted north. North to Winterfell), Petyr clearly noticed, and knew why, but he didn’t say anything. He knew she would have to work it out on her own, and anything he might say would only make the decision harder. Instead, he slipped an arm around her shoulders and led her outside, suggesting they take a walk. Sansa leaned into him as he guided them towards a park, knowing the affectionate gesture wasn’t exactly proper if they were supposed to be uncle and niece, but not caring.

As they walked, her mood lifted as the sunshine warmed her skin, and a gentle breeze played with her hair, stirring the fallen leaves on the ground. The air was chilly, but not unbearably so, and they strolled along a pathway that wound through the trees, and around a medium size pond. Nearby, a bunch of Muggle men were playing some sort of sport with a curiously shaped ball, and children were dashing around in a game of tag.

Sansa started to shiver a bit as the sun lowered in the sky, and Petyr stopped at a stand to buy them both hot chocolates. The drink warmed her up quite well, though not nearly as much as when they stopped to rest on a bench by the water, and she snuggled into his side as they talked about everything and nothing. When he told her they needed to head back to his house, so that they could get changed, she almost didn’t want to get up, but her curiosity helped her to her feet. He walked her into the trees, until they were sufficiently shielded from sight, and Apparated them back to his home.

She slipped back into the dress Petyr had bought for her, fixing her hair so that it tumbled in shiny curls around her shoulders, and touching up her makeup. They had stopped in a shoe store after finding her dress, and the resulting purchases (a pair of simple black heels that gave her a small height advantage over Petyr, though he didn’t seem to care) went well with the dress, even if you couldn’t really see them. Once Sansa had finished getting ready, she stepped from the bathroom and smiled when she him standing at the mirror, carefully knotting his tie. He was dressed in a suit, as usual, though it was of an even finer quality than normal, his silk tie a deep green, his silver mockingbird pin and cufflinks gleaming.

Petyr turned around as she approached, his eyes sweeping over her form appraisingly. “You look stunning, my love.”

“Thank you,” she said, lowering her gaze as his eyes sought hers, suddenly feeling a bit shy. “You look very handsome tonight.”

“Only tonight?” he queried, tone teasing, an attempt to draw her back out.

Sansa raised her head, smiling. “No, but you look especially handsome right now,” she amended.

Petyr stepped closer, moving around behind her, and brushing her hair to the side. She felt the slide of cool metal against her skin as he fastened something around her neck. When he finished, he pressed a kiss to her shoulder before moving her hair back into place, and guiding her over to to the mirror, with a hand at the small of her back. Sansa stared at her reflection, sighting the delicate silver chain dangling from her neck, a large, brilliantly blue square cut sapphire nestled just above her breasts.

“It matches your eyes quite well, I think,” he said, still behind her, hands rubbing her shoulders. “Of course, this piece is not merely functional. The gem has a powerful protection charm placed on it. So long as you wear the necklace, you will be shielded from nearly every jinx, hex, or curse anyone might attempt to cast on you. Save for the big three. But little can be done to stop the Unforgivable Curses in the way of protection charms.”

She fingered the gem, staring at its reflection in awe. It was breathtaking. And it would protect her, in case she found herself wandless and friendless, should Joffrey, or someone worse, ever seek to harm her. Petyr wanted to make sure she was safe, no matter the circumstances, and that, that made her feel so wanted, so important, so loved, and she was almost overwhelmed as the feeling washed over her. Sansa knew he cared, she knew he loved her, she didn’t doubt it for a moment, but here was tangible evidence of that fact, and that was even more precious to her than the precious jewel might have been without the charm. She turned around and kissed him fiercely, unable to articulate her emotions with words, and choosing action instead. He responded eagerly, tugging her closer with his hands firmly on her hips.

Sansa kissed him until she was certain he got the message, until she knew if she continued they would never make it out the door, until she managed to gain enough control to stop, before finally pulling away. Her lipstick had rubbed off onto his lips, staining them red, and she smiled as she used her thumb to wipe it away. She didn’t bother to re-apply it, suspecting she’d only wind up losing it to kisses again as the night wore on. Petyr led her back downstairs, helping her into her coat before they stepped outside.

It was nearly dark already, the season dictating that the sun went to bed far earlier than it was wont to do in the summertime. They went beyond the gate once more, and Apparated, reappearing in a dark alleyway. Petyr took her hand, walking her briskly back out to the busy sidewalk, and they joined the throng of people out enjoying their Sunday night.

“So, are you going to tell me where we are going now?” Sansa asked, glancing around in hopes of a clue as to their destination.

“We’re nearly there,” he assured her.

Petyr kept walking until they reached a large building with a ticket booth set next to the entrance, a sign overhead with the words ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber presents The Phantom of the Opera,’ followed by a few names Sansa didn’t know. People were lined up at the ticket booth, purchasing tickets for what Sansa assumed must be a show, but Petyr went to the doors instead, showing a pair of tickets to the man standing outside them. The man nodded and let them inside, and Sansa followed Petyr as he guided them through the crowd of people, feeling nervous. She’d never been to a show before, let alone a Muggle one. Unless you counted the demonstrations they sometimes had at Hogwarts for holidays, which she didn’t.

They joined a queue waiting outside another set of doors, a group of men all dressed in matching suits guiding the people in line to their seats. Sansa gripped Petyr’s hand tightly as one of the men led them upstairs to private balcony, only a few seats in addition to their own. She stared over the rail as Petyr helped her with her coat, her eyes sweeping over the seemingly endless rows of seats, packed with Muggles, the room ending in an enormous stage with a red velvet curtain drawn across it.

“What is this place?” she asked, sitting down next to Petyr in one of the ornate plush chairs.

“It’s a theater,” he replied, taking her hand, rubbing her knuckles gently with the pad of his thumb. “I thought maybe you might like to see a show. I know that you love stories.”

“I do,” Sansa said, smiling at how thoughtful he could be. “What are we going to see?”

“It’s called The Phantom of the Opera. I went to see it once, when I was young. My father surprised my mother with tickets one night, and she insisted that I come along. I was only five at the time, but it’s one of my fondest memories. For that night, at least, we forgot that she was sick, and just got lost in the story, in the music.” Petyr smiled at her. “It’s a bit of a tragic tale, but I think you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.”

“I am certain I will,” she said, grinning at him, excitement mounting. Not only was she about to see a show, but it was a musical. And one that was a part of Petyr’s past. Her heart ached for him when he talked about his parents, she hadn’t known much before of them, only that they had both died when he was young. He wasn’t exactly prone to talking much about his own past, and she didn’t want to push him, despite how curious she was. She knew that he would tell her in his own time, and her patience was rewarded with occasional facts and stories that she filed away for future reference. Today, he had opened up to her even more than usual, yet another of his gifts to her for her special day.

No one else joined them in their little alcove, though Sansa could see that everywhere else was packed, not another empty seat to be found. She suspected that Petyr had bought the other seats to give them more privacy, once again struck by how much care he put into his plans. In a pit set in front of the stage, a group of people with strange items gathered, and soon she could hear bits of music over the noise of the crowd. Petyr informed her that they were the pit orchestra, and those seated there would be playing musical instruments to accompany the show, though right now they were only warming up. The lights dimmed and the chatter faded away, the crowd hushing into silence as a man walked to a podium in the pit orchestra and raised what Sansa at first mistook to be a wand. The pit orchestra began to play under the man’s direction, and the lights dimmed further, the curtain on the stage parting to reveal the scene behind them.

The musical started, and Sansa watched in fascination as the story unfolded, a tale of a mysterious phantom lurking beneath a theater much like this one, bewitching a young girl with the most gorgeous voice, teaching her to sing, to flourish, to achieve her dreams. The music was beautiful and haunting, much like the story, and Sansa was enchanted by the costumes and the actors, the scenery, the way the Muggles had managed to produce magic without having it humming through their blood. The girl on stage, Christine, was drawn to the man who taught her, but her affections faltered when she realized the depravity he was capable of, and she soon fell for another man, despite everything the Phantom had done for her. Sansa sat forward in her seat, holding her breath as the story came to its climax, and the Phantom let the love of his life go, Christine finding happiness with her childhood love while the Phantom was left alone and heartbroken.

She wondered if maybe something must be wrong with her, that she had empathized so much with the Phantom, who had murdered so many people, hanging whoever dared to cross him or get in his way. It wasn’t so much that she felt she had much in common with the Phantom, though, rather that she wanted Christine to love him regardless, to be with the man who loved her so much that he would do anything and everything for her. The Phantom might not have been a good man, but he had loved Christine, and surely, after having such a tragic life, he deserved to be loved in return.

The parallels between the musical and her own life didn’t escape Sansa. She knew that Petyr was like her own Phantom in a way. He wasn’t a good man, though in all honesty she wasn’t sure if he had ever killed anyone in his quest for power. But even if he had… She wasn’t sure if even that would keep her from him. The difference between her story, and The Phantom of the Opera, was that she had fallen for the Phantom, only he was a Mockingbird, and unlike Christine, she would never stop needing him, never stop wanting him, never stop loving him. Her Mockingbird would have a happy ending.

And perhaps that was another reason Petyr had chosen to show her this musical. It was a test of her love for him. Petyr knew the connections wouldn’t go unnoticed. He wanted her to see another story, much like theirs, and how it played out, to show her his soul, in case she might decide it was best not to continue their relationship. But, if anything, the tale had only deepened her feelings for him. Petyr was a smart man, he knew that there would be two possible outcomes, and either one would be a boon to them. Either things would end before Sansa realized too late that she didn’t want this, or their bond would be strengthened.

She smiled, knowing he was listening to her thoughts, and not the activity on stage as the play ended, and the curtain closed, the lights gradually brightening to reveal the room. Petyr still had her hand in his grasp, the movements of his thumb stuttering occasionally as he followed her internal musings. Sansa gently squeezed his hand in reassurance as she repeated three words several times in her mind to soothe him, before finally speaking aloud. “It’s not going to change, my Mockingbird.”

After they left the theater, Petyr led Sansa to another quiet alcove and they Apparated to a different part of the city. They walked a short distance to an elegant looking restaurant, immediately securing a secluded table despite the lack of reservation (Sansa knew Petyr had used a bit of magical persuasion for that feat, and it didn’t bother her in the slightest. Rather, it had quite the opposite effect. If she hadn’t been so hungry she might have suggested they forgo dinner). He had asked her what her preferences were regarding dinner earlier that day, so she wasn’t surprised when she learned that the restaurant specialized in Italian food.

The food was superb, to say the least, though Sansa wasn’t exactly used to going out to eat, let alone to ones with what Petyr referred to as Michelin Stars. Petyr ordered a cheese plate for them to share as an appetizer, and she had fun sampling the different types of cheeses, along with figs, dates, and crostini. Sansa was a bit tentative to try anything too adventurous, eventually deciding on fettuccine alfredo, though Petyr got something called gnocchi, which she ended up liking nearly as much as her own meal. For dessert, she couldn’t decide between several different options, so he ordered each of them, despite her protestations that she wouldn’t ever be able to finish them all. Still, when they arrived, she dug in happily enough, urging him to help her eat them.

Naturally, they had plenty leftover by the time they decided they couldn’t eat another bite, and not just of dessert. Petyr had the waiter pack up the remaining food, informing her that he’d bring the containers to Hogwarts, and she’d be able to finish her food tomorrow, during their private lesson. Feeling a bit overstuffed, but still practically delirious with happiness, Sansa took Petyr’s arm once more as he Apparated them back to his home. Once inside, and back in his bedroom, he flicked on the lights, turning to her with that loveable smirk playing about his lips.

Petyr reached out, taking a dark curl between his fingers, and Sansa watched as her hair lightened, turning back to its natural shade. “That’s better,” he murmured, stepping back to look at her.

For a moment, he seemed almost spellbound, and Sansa couldn’t help grinning at him. Petyr smiled back at her, and it lit up his eyes in way that brought joy to her heart. He took her hand and led her over to a mirror, clearly at a loss for words for the moment. Sansa stared at her reflection, watching as her lightning scar shimmered back onto her forehead, her pale face framed once more by vivid red curls. She felt like a goddess, there in his arms, draped in midnight black, haloed by fire, with eyes of ice. And Petyr stood behind her, gaze worshipful, as if she truly was a divinity. His divinity.

“I would love to capture this moment, forever,” she said, sighing softly.

“We can, in a way,” he replied. “Would you like a photo?”

Sansa nodded, and Petyr used his wand to summon a camera. Stepping away from her, he gestured for her to turn around, and snapped a few pictures of her. She smiled happily for him, striking a few poses just for fun, before begging him to take a few with her. He relented to her wishes, bringing her back to the mirror so he could use the mirror’s reflection to capture a photo of them together.

As the camera flashed for the third time, Sansa turned in Petyr’s arms and kissed him. He accidentally triggered the button once more as he responded, before he set the camera down on the table in front of them, and she wondered if, and hoped that, the camera had caught the moment. Resolving to check later, she melted into his arms, kissing him with the passion that had been building inside of her all day long. Petyr’s lips moved against hers with equal intensity, and soon they were tugging at each other’s clothes.

Her expensive new dress fell to the floor, leaving her completely bare in his arms, save for the necklace he had gifted her earlier. Sansa hadn’t bothered with underwear tonight, deciding she didn’t want any lines ruining the drape of her new dress as it hugged her curves. Petyr’s eyes turned impossibly dark as they raked the length of her body. He picked her up and tossed her on the bed, looming over her for a moment with the look of a man lost. Lost to desire, and love. And her.

As he bent to kiss her again, her whispered softly, “You’re my Queen. My Queen of Love and Beauty. Of Wits and Love and Beauty.”

Sansa moaned against his mouth, though she couldn’t help reminding him that the wizarding world didn’t have queens. Or kings for that matter. He only chuckled. “Now who’s ruining a romantic moment?”

She smiled, remembering the night he had prompted a similar phrase from her. It seemed like only yesterday, and at the same time, a lifetime ago. “Payback, I guess,” she said, her laugh turning into a groan as his mouth found that lovely spot on her neck, shivers coursing through her body.

Petyr’s mouth traced every inch of her body, before finally finding its home between her legs, nipping and sucking, flicking and swirling his tongue expertly until she was trembling underneath him. His fingers joined the fray, toying with that sensitive spot inside of her until she came, crying out as the rush flooded her senses. Before she had fully come back to herself, he was on top of her, mouth capturing hers as their bodies melded together. His length slid inside of her, and they began to move, working together with perfect harmony, creating their own song, one that only they would ever understand.

Their pace quickened, and Petyr kept hitting that spot that drove the heat inside of her to blistering heights. The fire sparked and crackled, flames soaring higher, heat intensifying until Sansa was consumed completely, burned into nothing but ash, before rising from the flames reborn anew, better and stronger and one with the man she loved. She clutched him tightly in her arms as their breathing normalized, still wrapped around him in every way possible. How wonderful love was, to destroy you so, to unmake your soul and rebuild it, intertwining it with the one you loved. Each coupling strengthening that bond, a little death that forged another link between them. It was glorious. And terrifying. And it felt so right.

Before they returned to Hogwarts, Petyr gave Sansa one final gift. It was a small mirror, set into a frame of carved weirwood, a direwolf at the bottom.

“It’s a two way mirror,” he explained. “I have the other. Whenever you wish to speak with me, say my name, and I will be there. There’s an unbreakable charm on the glass, and you can use magic to resize it based on your needs.”

Sansa stared down at her gift, speechless for a moment. He was always so thoughtful. When she regained her speech, she asked, “So I can say goodnight to you? Every night?”

Petyr smiled. “Yes. So long as you do so without any chance of being overheard.”

It wasn’t nearly as good as staying the night with him, but it was definitely the next best thing. Sansa kissed him in thanks, before drawing away, remembering the musical. “Are you the angel in my mirror then?” she teased.

“Maybe you’re the angel in mine,” he teased back.

Sansa laughed. “Right, I’m the one leading you into temptation.”

“Aren’t you?” Petyr asked, raising an eyebrow.

And maybe he was right, in a way. They were both so entranced by each other, following their love willingly into the darkness. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chapter Text

Monday, November 30th

 

Sansa woke up earlier than usual on her seventeenth birthday, too excited to get much sleep. She’d already received her gifts from Petyr and her friends, but the day would still be special regardless. After all, she was now officially considered of age in the wizarding world, even if she hadn’t left school yet. If she wanted to (and had prepared for it) she could try for her Apparition license. Or order alcoholic drinks from wizarding establishments.

But, best of all, her seventeenth birthday had two additional perks to it. She officially no longer had any reason to return to the Eyrie (save to visit Aunt Lysa, and Robin, if ever she was so inclined, which she probably wouldn’t be), since the magical protection born from staying with her mother’s blood ended once she turned of age. And, though her relationship with Petyr would still be frowned upon, considering he was her teacher, her age would no longer be an issue.

Those happy thoughts kept her in good spirits as she got ready for the day, dressing in her school uniform and styling her hair, her new necklace tucked underneath her shirt, another secret she’d happily keep safe. Though Sansa wanted nothing more than to show off the gift, she thought it better not to wear it openly. The sapphire was large enough to attract questions concerning the the price of the necklace, and she didn’t want to have to lie any more than was strictly necessary. She slipped her charm bracelet on her wrist though, in clear view, knowing Margaery would take pleasure from her wearing it.

Before Sansa left for breakfast, she tucked her new mirror inside of her mokeskin bag (after shrinking the mirror a bit) and returned the tiny bag to her purse, slinging both that and her school bag over her shoulder. She ate breakfast with Margaery and Arya at the Hufflepuff table, steadfastly avoiding Joffrey, who kept glowering at her from the Gryffindor table. Over the last few months, she had been spotting Joffrey around far more often lately, but every time he appeared, she quickly made herself scarce, easily losing him in the large castle.

Hermione, Ron, and Harry had all reported similar sightings, though they didn't seem worried. Joffrey was clearly hoping to exact revenge on them for his failed attack, but he was so closely watched by staff, prefects, school ghosts, and portraits (and possibly house elves too) that even when he did get near enough to them to do anything, he'd quickly be stopped. Sansa wasn't too worried either. Years of living with Lysa and Robin meant that she was an exceptional escape artist. And she knew Hogwarts nearly as well as she knew the Eyrie, so evading Joffrey wasn't too hard. Still, it was definitely a bit of a pain.

Her day passed pleasantly enough, her lessons all rather ordinary (Lockhart’s fans were quickly diminishing, but he still had a few regular volunteers that spared her from being forced to act out his heroic feats), her friends cheerful and somewhat anxious for their own birthdays to arrive (Arya was set on raiding the school kitchens for some firewhiskey when she turned seventeen, not that she hadn’t already had some). Sansa didn’t eat much for dinner, claiming that she was still full from lunch when her friends were curious, wanting to save room for her leftovers from yesterday night. When she had eaten enough to keep her friends from getting too suspicious, she told them goodbye, and rose to head off to her private lesson with Petyr.

“He’s making you come on your birthday?” Arya asked, horrified.

Sansa fought hard to keep her expression neutral (he’d certainly be making her come later, though not in the way Arya meant). “He’s not making me do anything. And our lessons aren’t any different than my other lessons. I didn’t get to skip out on Lockhart’s class just because today’s my birthday.”

“Still…” Arya pulled a face, still perplexed as to why Sansa would want private lessons anyway.

Margaery laughed. “Even if he offered to give her the day off, she wouldn’t take it. Sansa’s probably happy that she gets to spend her birthday all alone with Professor Baelish.”

Sansa acted as if she hadn’t heard Margaery. “I’ll see you two tomorrow!” she called, leaving before Margaery could tease her any further.

Petyr had left his office door slightly ajar, as he was wont to do when they had their regularly scheduled private lessons. Inside, he was sitting at his desk, writing with the quill she had gifted him for his birthday. Sansa closed the door behind her, sliding the deadbolt home, and leaned against the wall, smiling as she watched him finish his sentence and set the quill carefully aside. He rose from his chair and walked over to where she stood, not saying a word as he leaned in and kissed her, a greeting as well as a hint of the evening’s entertainment.

When he pulled away, Sansa was breathless, her pulse skipping along rather feverously. She threaded her fingers in his hair and brought his mouth back to hers, suddenly lost to everything save for lust. Petyr knew her thoughts, as he always did, and she groaned as she listened to him tease her in his mind while they kissed, finally pulling the birthday girl card to get him to stop pretending he wouldn’t give in. He responded by picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder, carrying her into his bedroom and tossing her on the bed. Petyr stalked towards her as if he was the wolf, and she was the prey, perhaps the mockingbird, the animals associated with their surnames reversed.

The laughter that had started when he picked her up, died on her lips as she stared up at him, and for once the prey begged to be devoured. Petyr was on her in an instant, tearing away her clothes, nipping at exposed skin, driving her wild as he focused everywhere but the place she needed him most. Sansa let out a growl of frustration as his mouth dipped so close to her center before retreating once again, and she gripped his shoulders, pushing him down firmly until he finally relented, his tongue hot against her sensitive skin. He didn’t stop, too consumed in his task to tease her any longer, until she came, shuddering against his mouth, a low keening moan torn from her lips.

When she’d recovered, she divested him of his clothes, and pushed him onto his back, sinking slowly down on his length until he was completely sheathed. She started out slow, pace building quickly to a frenzy, riding him until sweat sheened on her skin. Petyr thrust up inside her as she moved, teasing her clit with one hand, but try as she might, she couldn’t quite get there. Sensing that she was tiring, he flipped them over, kissing her hard as he pounded into her relentlessly.

Sansa moaned against his mouth, his name incoherent as it left her lips, a plea for him to go harder, faster, and he obliged, slamming into her, striking gold with each thrust, until that pressure finally broke, the wave carrying her out into the black abyss, pinpricks of stars dancing behind her eyelids. Petyr gave a few more frantic thrusts before spilling himself inside of her, her name wrenched from his lips in a strangled gasp. He dropped down on top of her, utterly spent, and she hugged him close, kissing the sweat from his brow, her own skin sliding damply against his.

Afterwards, they both decided they were in need of a wash, and lazed about in the bath for awhile. Sansa played around with the bubble bath a bit, testing the taps, and, when she found that she could make little sculptures with the ice white foam from one tap, she dumped a glob on Petyr’s head and fashioned him a bubble crown. He indulged her, sitting still as she worked, his amusement clear. She didn’t stop there, however, deciding to give him a forked pink beard from another tap, which he promptly scooped off and threw at her, despite her hopes that she could get a picture of him first.

Still giggling from how goofy Petyr had looked, Sansa rinsed off and let him wrap her in an enormous fluffy white towel, snuggling into his arms for a moment before remembering the food waiting for her in the kitchen. Too hungry to delay any longer, she redressed (magically mending her blouse, which he had torn in his haste) and wandered over to the kitchen table, taking a seat while she waited for him to get another Contraception Tonic. When Petyr returned, she swallowed the contents of the small vial while he retrieved a few boxes from the icebox.

To her delight, he had purchased more gnocchi for her without her knowledge, and they both ate their fill before finishing the desserts from yesterday, with the addition of a few lemon cakes he’d swiped from the school kitchens. Comfortably sated, they retreated to the couch by the fireplace, Sansa laying with her head in Petyr’s lap.

When her thoughts weren’t so clouded by the heavy meal, she spoke. “Petyr?”

“Hmm?” Petyr was combing his fingers through her wet hair absentmindedly.

“Were we going to work on Legilimency tonight?”

“I hadn’t planned on it. I figured you might like the night off,” he replied.

Sansa considered this. “Perhaps,” she said slowly, still thinking it over.

“We can if you want to, sweetling. It’s your birthday.”

She turned onto her back, staring up at him. “Can we maybe…” she trailed off, tentative to ask him what she really wanted. As much as she already knew about Petyr, there were still large gaps in her knowledge of his past.

Petyr knew her thoughts, as always, and decided to help her along. “What memories did you have in mind?”

“I’m not sure. I was thinking maybe about when you were a boy. When you were living with my mother’s family. Or your time in Hogwarts?” Sansa said, choosing her words carefully.

“So you want to see your mother? Perhaps your father as well?” he asked, knowing exactly what she wanted, and not willing to beat around the bush. Even if he hadn’t had access to her mind, she wasn’t exactly doing the best job of hiding her intentions.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” she said quickly. “And of course, I’m not going to ask for the memory of that particular day. Just, an ordinary memory will do.”

Petyr stared down at her thoughtfully, still toying with her hair. “I will show you whatever you want to see, my love,” he said finally. “Though I think it would be best to reserve the memory of the day I met your Uncle Brandon until another time.”

Sansa sat up, turning on the couch so she could curl into his side. “Ok,” she said, kissing him softly. “Show me anything but that, then.”

Petyr kissed her back, then got up from the couch. She watched in confusion as he went to a cabinet by his bed and unlocked it, retrieving the pensieve and a small, corked vial, and bringing both over to the end table.

“I thought you might ask me for memories of your parents at some point,” he explained, uncorking the vial and tipping the contents into the shallow stone basin. “So I extracted a few so that we could view them together, using the pensieve.”

Sansa’s heart swelled at that. Really, he was just so incredibly thoughtful. She rose from the couch, suddenly nervous, and turned to the pensieve. When she didn’t make a move to touch the silvery thoughts swirling within, Petyr spoke, voice encouraging. “It’s ok, my love. I will join you in a moment.”

Steeling her resolve, she plunged her hand into the memories, and tipped back into the past. Sansa touched down in the Hogwarts Express, of all places, in one of the train compartments. A small boy with dark hair was seated on one side, two red headed girls seated across from him. Petyr drifted down next to Sansa, and together they sat down on the same side as the boy, keeping some distance between them.

The boy looked tense, and very young, his school uniform pristine in a way that showed it was brand new. He wasn’t wearing any of the usual accessories that denoted a student’s house, and Sansa assumed that meant he had yet to be sorted. She recognized Petyr, eleven years old and on his very first journey to Hogwarts. He looked a few years younger than the memory she’d glimpsed of him a few months ago, that night he’d been taken in by the goblins of Gringotts. As Sansa watched, clutching the hand of the man that boy would become, Petyr stared tensely out the window, face pale, until one of the girls sitting across from him spoke.

“You don’t need to be so nervous. The sorting isn’t all that bad. I mean, ok, everyone is watching you try on the hat, but it’s all over quick enough,” the older of the two girls assured him.

Sansa had been so busy studying Petyr that she hadn’t paid much attention at all to the others in the compartment. But when the girl spoke, Sansa turned to face her, and felt a tug on her heartstrings. The girl looked so much like her, red hair and blue eyes, and she was even about Sansa’s age, give or take a year. But the girl’s uniform bore the telltale signs of a Gryffindor, her hair was a slightly different shade, and the lines of her face were slightly altered from Sansa’s. Similar and yet still so different. Her mother. Catelyn Stark, or Tully, as she had been before marrying Sansa’s father.

Sansa’s chest constricted, her breathing staggering, and Petyr squeezed her hand reassuringly. She squeezed it back, shaking her head to clear it, urging herself to get a grip. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t known she’d see her mother. That was the whole point of this journey into the penseive. Petyr was going to show her his memories of her mother. And possibly her father as well.

The younger of the two girls spoke then, and Sansa realized with a start that it was her Aunt Lysa. “You still think you’ll be sorted into Slytherin?” Lysa asked, looking nearly as nervous as Petyr did. Sansa noticed that Lysa was wearing an emerald and silver tie with her uniform. So her aunt had already been sorted, though she didn’t look that much older than Petyr.

“Yes,” Petyr said, and though he still looked a bit pale, his voice was confident.

“Good,” Lysa said. “You belong in Slytherin with me. No matter what mother and father say.”

Petyr turned towards her, frowning. “I’m not joining Slytherin to be with you. If I were choosing a house solely because of one person, I’d ask the sorting hat to place me in Gryffindor.”

Lysa looked affronted. “Of course. Because who would choose to be with me, when they could be with Cat,” she snapped, getting up and flouncing off, slamming the compartment door shut with more force than necessary, so that the window pane rattled.

Cat sighed and shot Petyr a look. “That was hardly necessary.”

“She was getting on my nerves,” Petyr mumbled, not looking at her. “She never seems to leave me alone anymore.”

“She obviously likes you,” Cat said. “You shouldn’t have kissed her.”

Petyr rolled his eyes. “We were kids. I kissed you too, and you haven’t been following me around everywhere.” His voice sounded a bit wistful, as if he had been hoping for just that. “I’m not sure what else I can do to discourage her. I tried letting her down gently but it didn’t work.”

“So you’re hoping that if you’re rude to her, she’ll back off?” Cat looked skeptical.

Petyr shrugged. “Worth a shot. I’m tired of making nice with her anyway.”

“Well that’s stupid,” Cat told him. “You still have to live with us during the summers. And you know Lysa, she holds a grudge like no one else. If you think she’s a pain now, just because she has a crush on you, imagine how it will be if she hates you.”

Petyr groaned and put his head in his hands. “Can we not talk about your sister? I’m getting a headache.”

Cat sighed and they sat in silence for awhile, before she finally spoke again. “They won’t be happy if you are sorted into Slytherin, you know,” she said quietly. “They’re already upset because-”

“Because they think it’s my fault Lysa was sorted there. Yes, I know,” Petyr said wearily.

“Just saying,” Cat said, frowning at him. “I’m not sure it’s such a good idea for you to be sorted there either. They aren’t exactly all too accepting of Muggleborns.”

“I’ll deal with it,” Petyr promised her. “I’ve been through worse.”

“True,” Cat agreed. “Still. Be careful, ok? You’re like a brother to me. I want you to have a good experience at Hogwarts. Things might not be so rosy once we all leave school, what with You Know Who and all.”

Petyr looked pained when Cat referred to him as her brother, but didn’t comment on it. “You shouldn’t be so scared to say his name. It’s not like he’s here, listening in on the conversation of school children.”

Cat gave him a look. “Don’t you dare say it. Just because you didn’t grow up fearing the name and everything it stands for, doesn’t mean that the threat is any less significant.”

Petyr held up his hands. “Alright, I’m sorry. I won’t say it. Not around you.” He looked as if he meant it.

“Speaking of which,” Cat began hesitantly. “You do know that You Know Who gains a lot of his followers from Slytherin, right? Not everyone in Slytherin falls into the Dark Arts, but there are groups of them in every year. Of students planning to join You Know Who’s ranks.”

Petyr raised his eyebrows at her. “Are you asking me if I’m planning on joining them? Because I’d hardly think they’d accept me, considering my blood status. They wouldn’t dream of including a mudblood.”

“Don’t call yourself that,” Cat scolded him. “And no, I’m just making sure you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into.”

Petyr smiled at her. “I’m aware. But thanks for looking out for me.”

The memory faded, dissolving into another one. It was spring and Petyr was seated alone, reading under the shade of a tree by the Black Lake. He glanced up as Cat made her way over to him, dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt, both typical fashions of the Muggle world in the nineties. Cat joined him in the grass, pulling the book from his grasp. She studied the title with a frown, then whapped him with it.

“What are you reading about Legilimency for, hmm? Planning on snooping into everyone’s thoughts? Are you that interested in school gossip, or do you just want to steal the test answers from smart kids so you don’t have to study?” Cat asked him playfully.

Petyr took the book back from her, shaking his head, though he was smiling. “Nope. Just interested in the theory.”

“Uh huh. And that’s why you stole a book from the Restricted Section?” Cat said, smirking at him.

“I didn’t steal it, I borrowed it,” Petyr corrected.

“Without permission,” Cat said.

Petyr shrugged. “Semantics.”

Cat suddenly looked serious. “You could do it when you were younger though. I haven’t forgotten that. You’re not trying to regain the skill are you? Or did you continue listening to other people’s thoughts, even when my parents warned you against it?”

“It’s not something I consciously did, Cat,” Petyr insisted. “And no, I’m not trying to learn how to do it, I’m trying to figure out how to stop it.” He put the book back in his bookbag and scowled, gaze fixed away from the girl who would become Sansa’s mother.

Cat stared down at her hands, twisting them in her lap much like Sansa did when she was anxious. “I’m sorry,” Cat said. “I shouldn’t have accused you of…” She trailed off.

“It’s fine,” Petyr said, but it was clear from his tone that it wasn’t.

They lapsed into silence for a moment before a shadow fell over them, and they both glanced up. A burly seventh year towered over Petyr and Cat, longish dark brown hair framing his face. When he spoke, his voice was quiet and somewhat gruff. “My brother sent a letter back with me. After Easter,” he said, holding a letter out to Cat.

Cat took it, looking surprised. “Thanks, Ned,” she said. “I’ll be sure to write a prompt reply.”

Sansa stared at the seventh year, suddenly feeling a bit wobbly on her legs. Petyr (of the present, not the past) slid his arm around her waist and pulled her close, keeping her steady. Her father only nodded at her mother, looking awkward, before he turned and left, not saying another word.

Cat stared at the letter, looking as if she held something vile in her hands rather than a bit of parchment. Petyr was scowling at it with similar distaste. Finally, he spoke. “Well, aren’t you going to open it? Your future husband awaits your eager response, no doubt,” he said, voice laced with sarcasm.

Cat glared at him. “Don’t you start,” she snapped, folding the letter and tucking it into her pocket.

“I’m only repeating what you just said,” Petyr said innocently.

“Yeah, well you’re not helping matters. Your feelings aside, I’m not exactly happy about the situation either. In this day and age, you’d think I’d have a choice about who I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with,” Cat said, wringing her hands again.

Petyr stared at the ground. “And who might you pick, if you weren’t already tied to Brandon Stark?”

Cat shrugged. “I don’t know. Someone I loved. Whoever that might be.” She sighed. “It doesn’t matter anyway. I don’t get to choose who I marry. Family alliances are more important than marrying for love, in times of war.”

“But that’s stupid, Cat,” Petyr insisted. “You don’t need a marriage to seal an alliance. We’re not in medieval times anymore. The Tullys could find another way to join with the Starks for protection that doesn’t involve signing your life away.”

“Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I will do what my father thinks is best. You know the words of our house.”

“Family, duty, honor,” Petyr said dully. “None of that means anything if you’re miserable.”

“You don’t know that that will be the case,” Cat said. “People can grow to love one another. And Brandon seems nice enough.”

Petyr sighed. “It’s your life, I suppose. But there are people that love you. That would do anything to make you happy.”

“I know that,” Cat said quietly. “But it’s not meant to be.” She stood up and brushed the grass off of her jeans. “I’ve got to go. I’ll see you around, ok?”

Cat left, and Sansa watched the younger version of Petyr stare after her, looking miserable, though he hadn’t allowed the emotion to overtake his features until Cat had turned away. The Petyr of the present, her Petyr, was watching her carefully, his gaze never straying to her mother. Sansa turned to him, at a loss for words, and he pulled her in for a hug before drawing away and giving her elbow a tug.

They rose up through the pensieve and returned to the present, and the sudden change of scenery was more than a little jarring. Sansa burrowed back into Petyr’s arms, feeling more than a little vulnerable as she reached out to touch his mind. To her surprise, his thoughts were in a similar state, though the raw nature of them was born from bearing his past to her, rather than of emotions tied to his recollections. He was no longer in love with her mother, but it had still been hard for him to show her that memory, in part because he was worried about her reaction.

Sansa reassured him in her mind, and in turn he did his best to comfort her. She wasn’t devastated, but the glimpses she had gained of her mother and father were more overwhelming than she could have imagined. This had been the very first time Sansa had seen her mother, other than in wizarding photographs, and the very first time she’d heard her voice (at least in recent memory. She’d been far too young when they had died. Not old enough to remember anything). And she’d barely caught a glimpse of her father, but already she treasured the few words he had spoken.

The ache that was always present inside of her, only dulling and increasing as she went about her life, never vanishing, had risen to almost unbearable heights. Sansa felt much as she had when she’d had the nightmare where her father had turned Petyr into a white walker. Only it wasn’t fear of loss that was driving her this time, it was the pain of never having known her parents. It was a reminder of the great big gaping hole in her life, where Cat and Ned should have been.

Remembering how she had fought through the agony after that terrible nightmare, Sansa once again sought to comfort herself with physical pleasure. Petyr didn’t resist when she kissed him, understanding what she needed, and it was with great care and love that he lavished his attention on her that night. They took their time, movements slow and purposeful as they made themselves ever more vulnerable to one another, joining again and again until they were one, invulnerable together, their cries of rapture sealing their impenetrable union. As one they turned from porcelain, to ivory, and finally to steel. Valyrian steel, forged with great care into a most formidable weapon, flawed in its very nature, but so much stronger than the rest.

Chapter Text

Tuesday, December 1st to Tuesday, December 22nd

 

As December made its chilly entrance, Sansa began to turn her mind towards the impending holiday. Usually she would spend winter break with Arya and her family at Winterfell, but for the first time since she’d started at Hogwarts, she had no wish to leave the castle walls for what would have been her home, had her parents lived. She didn’t want to leave Petyr, not when he didn’t have any family to spend Christmas with, not when it was their first Christmas together. And not when she couldn’t bear the thought of being apart from him for a day, let alone longer.

Sansa wasn’t sure what to do. Arya and her family would wonder why she didn’t want to come this year. They would be hurt, and disappointed, and she wouldn’t be able to give them a satisfactory answer as to why she didn’t want to leave Hogwarts. She couldn’t exactly tell them that she didn’t want to leave her teacher because she’d been carrying on a clandestine relationship with him for months. That definitely wouldn’t go over well.

She could, of course, pretend that she was dating someone else, and that they were the reason she wanted to stay. But Arya would know that she was lying, and she’d have to figure out a lie that would satisfy her friend too. Of course, Sansa could say that she wanted to stay at Hogwarts for her studies, but Arya would definitely not see that as a reasonable excuse, and just hound her until she finally caved. No, that wouldn’t do at all.

Frustrated, Sansa turned her thoughts to gift ideas, not only for Petyr, but for Margaery and Arya, and each of the Targaryen-Starks. Even if she got her way, and spent Christmas in Hogwarts with Petyr, she still wanted to give her second family presents. She’d done so since she’d spent her very first winter break with them at Winterfell. But even thinking of gift ideas seemed to give her a headache, and this only continued as the week dragged on, her temper only worsening with time.

Petyr had assured her Wednesday night, after dinner, that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she went to Winterfell for the holidays. He’d spent many Christmases on his own, and it wouldn’t bother him in the slightest. Sansa had been somewhat affronted by this, and he had laughed, informing her that she was being a bit impossible at the moment (‘Of course, I would rather spend Christmas with you, my love. But if you think the day really has any significance to me anymore, you are quite mistaken. It’s just another day for me now.’). His assurances hadn’t really helped though. The fact that Christmas didn’t mean anything to him anymore just made her sad, and all the more determined to change that for him. He could tell it hadn’t worked, and simply stopped trying, instead deciding to distract her in a manner most pleasing (and that did work, for a little while).

Things didn’t take a turn for the better until Thursday, when Sansa, Arya, and Margaery made their way to their last lesson of the day, Care of Magical Creatures. In spite of her predicament, Sansa was actually very excited for their lesson today. Hagrid had been preparing them for ages for their hands on unit with dragons, and today all of that hard work would finally pay off. Two people from a dragon reservation in Romania were visiting the school at special invitation, a dragon egg in tow. The visitors would stay for two weeks (originally they were supposed to come this Tuesday, but apparently there had been a mishap at the reservation and they’d had to delay), and Sansa, Arya and Margaery would be making extra trips to Hagrid’s hut during that time, as they hatched, and then cared for, a baby dragon.

When Sansa and her friends arrived at Hagrid’s hut, situated on the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest, Hagrid was outside, talking to two people (a red haired man, and a woman with striking silver hair), looking positively ecstatic. They stood by a fire, a large egg nestled in its depths, heedless of the flames kissing its shell. Hagrid turned as Sansa, Margaery and Arya approached, beaming at them.

“There yeh are!” Hagrid called out. “Isn’t it beautiful?” he asked, gesturing to the fire. Sansa assumed he meant the dragon egg.

“Is this all?” the man asked, frowning. He was stocky, with long, shiny burns peppering his skin. “When I went to Hogwarts I remember the class was quite packed.”

“Yes, well, yeh know. Kids can be a bit fickle,” Hagrid said, looking a bit crestfallen.

“I’m sure it’s nothing to do with your teaching skills,” the woman said, laying a hand on Hagrid’s massive forearm. Closer, Sansa could see that her eyes were a startling shade of violet. Unlike the man, the woman was free of burns, her skin clear and unblemished.

“No, no of course not,” the man said, realizing his mistake. “Daenerys is always telling me what a great teacher you were,” he said helpfully.

Arya gasped. “I knew it! I thought I recognized you!”

Daenerys turned to her, and grinned. “My, you have grown!”

Arya rolled her eyes. “You’re not that much older than me.”

“Old enough,” Daenerys said, pulling Arya in for a hug.

When Arya broke away, she turned to Sansa and Margaery. “Guys, this is my Aunt Daenerys. Daenerys, this is Sansa and Margaery.”

Daenerys smiled at them. “Nice to meet you. This is Charlie Weasley. You might know some of his siblings.” She gestured at the red haired man.

Margaery laughed. “Quite well actually. How are you doing Charlie? Are you going to visit your family at all while you’re here?”

Charlie’s eyes crinkled as he smiled. “I thought I recognized you. You’re dating Fred, right?”

Margaery flushed. “Uh, no. George, actually.”

“Right, sorry. I’m not good with remembering romantic entanglements. I knew you were dating one of my brothers, at least.” Charlie grinned good naturedly at her.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” Arya demanded of Daenerys.

“I did. Well, I told your mother and father. I’m actually going to stay at Winterfell with them for a bit, before we all head out to Romania for the wedding,” Daenerys said.

“Wait, what?” Arya nearly screeched. “Who’s going to Romania?”

Daenerys frowned. “Oh, dear. I thought… Well I’d just assumed they’d told you.”

Sansa was suddenly very interested in the conversation. Even more so than before. “You’re getting married?” she asked, unable to help herself.

Daenerys nodded, a wide smile gracing her features. “Yes. Right before Christmas. I invited my brother and his family to come stay with Jorah and me in Romania, so that they could attend the wedding.”

Arya looked dumbstruck. “Well no one told me,” she said indignantly. Then she brightened. “We’re going to Romania? To your dragon reservation?”

“Yes, it’s all set. You’re spending winter break with us in Romania. Christmas too.” Daenerys frowned. “I do hope my brother won’t be upset that I’ve told you.”

Before they could say anymore, Hagrid decided he couldn’t wait to start the lesson anymore, and called them over to the fire. The egg was carefully removed from the flames, and cooled so that Sansa and her friends could examine it, their first task being identification. Sansa could hardly focus on determining what breed might come from the egg though, too caught up with the new information she’d just learned.

It seemed as if the Targaryen-Starks would be spending Christmas out of the country. And though it was possible that they might invite her along with them, it would only be too easy to refuse, explaining that she couldn’t possibly impose on their hospitality like that. She might very well have just been given the perfect excuse to stay at Hogwarts. Thank the gods for Daenerys Targaryen and her impending nuptials!

Together, Sansa and her friends determined that the dragon egg belonged to the rare Norwegian Ridgeback, and they spent the rest of the evening observing the egg from its perch in the flames, while listening to Daenerys and Charlie talk about life on the dragon reservation. To Sansa’s surprise, Daenerys had a special kinship with dragons, one similar to the connection Starks had with direwolves. Only it grew deeper than that for the Targaryen girl. Over the years, she had raised three orphan dragons, all hatched at different times, from different mothers and species, and all entirely devoted to her. Her three children, as she liked to call them, were still wild and ferocious, but they followed her direction unquestioningly, as though they had some strange bond to the silver haired girl. Daenerys had even taken to riding the largest of the three, Drogon, a feat which before had been deemed inconceivable.

Sansa and her friends left their lesson with instructions to return again Friday, and to come straight away whenever they received news that the dragon was hatching (Hagrid assuring them that he’d already fixed it with Dumbledore that they could skip out on their lessons or even break curfew (if the hour wasn’t too unreasonable and they were escorted) so they wouldn’t miss the big event)). After the dragon was born, they’d attempt to care for it, under the supervision of Hagrid, Daenerys and Charlie.

“I can’t believe I’m going to Romania!” crowed Arya, an unmistakable bounce in her step.

“And to a wedding, don’t forget that,” Sansa teased her.

“Eh, it’ll be worth it to visit the dragon reservation,” Arya replied. “I wonder if Daenerys will let me ride Drogon with her,” she said wistfully.

Margaery was unusually quiet as they made their way back to the castle, heading straight to the Great Hall for dinner. Sansa suddenly remembered Margaery’s brief conversation with Charlie earlier, and chided herself for being so wrapped up in her own problems that she hadn’t realized its effect on her friend.

“You ok?” she asked Margaery, trying to get a good look at her downturned face.

Margaery shrugged. “No. Not really.”

Arya stopped babbling about Romania and turned to look at her friend as they all took seats at the Slytherin table. “What’s wrong?”

Margaery didn’t say anything, biting her her lip and staring down at her empty plate.

“I think she’s upset about Charlie’s mistake earlier,” Sansa said quietly.

Arya frowned. “What? Why? It’s not like people don’t mix up the twins all the time,” she joked.

Margaery let out a strangled laugh. “Not helpful, Arya.”

Arya looked at Sansa, confused. “I don’t understand.”

Sansa glanced at Margaery for permission, before speaking. “Margaery is dating George, but last summer she realized that she was in love with someone else,” Sansa said hesitantly.

“Ok, but…” Arya trailed off before her eyes lit up in realization. “Oh!” She turned to Margaery and gave her a hug, which Margaery returned, eyes widened in surprise. Arya wasn’t exactly known for tenderness and sympathy, especially when it came to romantic plights. “I’m sorry, Marge. That really sucks,” Arya said.

Margaery smiled at her friend, though it wavered slightly. “I’m not sure what to do,” she said, voice almost a whisper.

Arya helped herself to some food and took a bite, chewing thoughtfully for a moment. When she spoke, her tone was surprisingly gentle, words perceptive. “You will. When the time is right. And when that time comes, everything will be okay.”

“I hope so,” Margaery said.

“I know so,” Sansa said, serving Margaery and herself. “Now come on, eat before it gets cold. You’ll feel even worse if you don’t get anything in your stomach.”

They ate the rest of their meal in relative silence, Margaery looking miserable about what had happened, and resisting her friends’ attempts to cheer her up, and Arya chewing with a dreamy expression on her face as she imagined all of the trouble she could get into in Romania. Sansa probably had a similar expression, as she daydreamed of spending the holiday with Petyr, indulging in far more wicked activities than Arya had dancing around in her mind. She couldn’t wait to tell Petyr that she’d be staying, even though the fact wasn’t completely set in stone yet.

The next day, Arya received a letter at breakfast, having apparently contacted her parents last night about their impending trip out of the country. Arya quickly read through the contents and handed the letter to Sansa, whose heart sank as she skimmed through it. Lyanna and Rhaegar had invited her to go along with them. Sansa passed the parchment back to her friend, who couldn’t help but notice her strange reaction.

“What’s wrong?” Arya asked. “I thought you’d be happy.”

Sansa wished she’d thought ahead of time what her response would be in this situation. Unfortunately, she’d been so consumed with happiness about the prospect of staying with Petyr for Christmas, that she’d made an error in judgement. Now she’d have to scramble for an excuse.

“I’m very grateful that your family wants to include me,” she said carefully. “But I don’t want to impose. It’s one thing to stay at your house for the holidays, and quite another to tag along on your family vacation.”

“Nonsense. You’re family,” Arya insisted. “And we’ll be staying with Daenerys. So it’s not like it’ll be expensive. You have to come.”

“No, I couldn’t,” Sansa said. “It’s not just that, anyway. I’ve been working so hard this year, and I was looking forward to a nice, quiet Christmas. And I’ve never been at Hogwarts over the holidays. I’ve heard it’s wonderful.”

Margaery gave her a searching look, one that made Sansa suspect that her friend knew the real reason she wanted to stay at Hogwarts, but didn’t say anything. Arya, however, looked a bit confused and hurt. “But you always spend Christmas with us. Since we first met, anyway.”

“Next year,” Sansa promised. “And I’ll write, and you can tell me all about it. Please, I really would love to come with you, but the stress of preparing for the N.E.W.T.s is really getting to me lately, especially with my private lessons.”

“But you’ll be all alone. Unless Margaery is staying?” Arya turned to look at Margaery.

Margaery shook her head. “Nope. I’m spending break with family and the Weasleys.”

“I’ll be fine,” Sansa assured Arya. “I like having alone time. And not everyone will leave the castle. Some students stay, along with the staff.”

At that Margaery really looked as if she wanted to say something, but she held her tongue. She and Arya shared a brief look before Arya turned back to Sansa, looking resigned. Arya knew Sansa could be just as stubborn as she was, and apparently decided she didn’t want to spend days fighting a losing battle with her friend. “Alright. But if you change your mind, the offer still stands. We’ll miss you.”

Sansa smiled at Arya. “I’ll miss you too. And everyone else. And don’t worry, you’ll all still get presents from me.”

Arya mock pouted. “Damn, I was hoping that the silver lining to you not coming with us meant that I didn’t have to get you anything,” she teased.

Sansa laughed and elbowed her before finishing up her breakfast. Her heart had lightened again now that she’d successfully wormed out of going to Romania, and she couldn’t wait to tell Petyr later. Lessons went by in a blur, as her mind turned to gift ideas, and fantasies of making love by a roaring fire, among other things. She hoped that maybe she could spend Christmas at Petyr’s home, that she could convince him to decorate that day. Or even, spend a few days shopping beforehand, purchasing a beautiful tree, ornaments and lights, holly and wreaths, and anything else that caught her fancy. The more she thought about it, the more excited she became.

Petyr was happy to hear the news that she would be staying, and even agreed that they could do whatever she wished over the holiday, though he was firm that they would always have to make sure she was back in her dormitory over night. Unless of course they lucked out and none of the sixth year girls stayed behind for the holidays. Then he’d promised she could actually stay the night a few times, something she was looking forward to more than anything.

Sansa was so thrilled by the turn of events, that when she returned to the common room that night, and saw a sign on the notice board concerning Apparition lessons, the excitement of finally learning the skill paled in comparison to what she was already feeling. She signed up for the class the next day, paying the required fee for the class that would start sometime in January, and then didn’t give it a second thought, too caught up in the cheer of the season.

The next few weeks went by in a bit of a blur. The dragon hatched, and was lovingly christened as Norbert by Hagrid, and Sansa, Arya, and Margaery learned quite a bit about caring for the infant, though not without the occasional burn or flesh wound (Arya wound up with part of her hair singed off, but as a metamorphmagus she could just make it grow back. However, she decided to change her hair to a purple mohawk, which Sansa didn’t think looked much better).

Lessons were normal, if a bit more difficult than usual, though none of their teachers were too hard on them with the impending holidays. Joffrey kept popping up in unusual places, only to slink off again when he found Sansa surrounded by her fellow students (the more he tried, the more she made sure to always be with at least a few other people present, only keeping to herself when she was safe in her common room).

Sansa was hard at work, determined to finish all of her homework before the holidays began, and somewhat consumed in finding the perfect gift for everyone on her list. Once again, she struggled to find something for Petyr, though the rest were a great deal easier. She bought her aunt and uncle each a copy of a book called Technology for Dummies, a suggestion Petyr had made in jest one night, but she thought maybe it was time for them to actually know how to work the devices they bought. When the books came, she changed the title from Dummies to Wizards, and did the same thing anytime the word was mentioned in the text, so Lyanna and Rhaegar wouldn’t take offense.

Next, she bought Rickon and Bran some of those sweets she’d found in Zonko’s during her birthday weekend with Arya and Margaery, knowing they would love changing their voices to silly things. She supplemented the sweets with a screaming yo yo for Rickon, and a fanged frisbee for Bran, knowing their parents wouldn’t particularly like either, but that the boys would be happy. For Arya, she purchased some dungbombs, and a figurine of Viktor Krum, who was her favorite Quidditch player, which zoomed around on a tiny broom, searching for an invisible Snitch, unless kept trapped in its box. And Jon had a brand new sneakoscope with his name on it, one of the highest quality in lie detection that she could find, to supplement him in his career as an auror.

Next was Margaery, and Sansa was quite proud of the gift she’d thought up for her: a gorgeous black and white beaded handbag with an undetectable extension charm that Petyr had helped her with one night before they fell back on their usual habits. After they had finished with Margaery’s purse, she was so pleased with the result, and somewhat disappointed that she’d have to give it away, that Petyr replicated the purse while she was otherwise occupied, changing the colors of the copy to silver and green and adding a few other helpful charms besides. She’d been thrilled, of course, and expressed that appreciation for the rest of their time together that night.

The gift for her Aunt Lysa was easy enough, since Lockhart was currently her teacher, and her aunt was more than a little obsessed with him. Sansa simply asked for a signed photo (cheap and very little effort involved, though in truth her aunt deserved far less), and though she repeatedly told him that it was for her aunt and not herself, Lockhart kept winking cheerfully at her after that day, seemingly convinced that they were newfound friends. It was a most regrettable decision to get the signed photo, in hindsight. Getting a gift for her Aunt Lysa certainly wasn’t worth the extra attention Lockhart was giving her, but hopefully he’d give up soon enough. The man couldn’t be that dense. Or so she hoped.

Lastly, there was Robin, and though she’d always quickly tired of the boy and his whiny attitude and temper tantrums, she still wanted to get him something. Especially since she wasn’t planning on returning to the Eyrie any time soon, now that she wasn’t required to. Sansa felt bad for the child. She was certain that he would have been far better off without his smothering, unstable mother. If Lysa had only allowed him to go to Hogwarts, he might have had a chance at growing into a well adjusted adult, but perhaps that was why Lysa hadn’t let him.

Lysa claimed that Robin was sick, but the only signs Sansa ever saw that proved this assertion had nothing to do with physical health. Robin was prone to releasing bursts of magic whenever he was upset, wreaking havoc in any room he happened to be in, but Sansa figured that was because he’d never learned to control it, since Lysa refused to let him attend school. Regardless, she decided to get Robin a toy falcon that really flew, even acting like a hunting falcon and fetching him small items on command. He’d always liked flying toys, and the falcon was the sigil of house Arryn, so it seemed the perfect choice.

That only left Petyr, and of course the gift that was the most important was always the most difficult to figure out. When another Hogsmeade weekend came up, just before winter break, Sansa dragged her friends through all of the different shops in the village, trying desperately to get some inspiration. Margaery kept getting a knowing look on her face, though Arya seemed clueless as ever, complaining that she was cold and wanted to go back to The Three Broomsticks and drown herself in Butterbeer. Sansa ignored them both, and kept searching in vain, until school rules dictated that they return.

Her mood turned foul again as the days left until break steadily dwindled, until finally, finally she made a breakthrough. During breakfast of their last day of lessons before the term ended, Sansa was flipping through one of the catalogues she’d sent away for, when she saw it: a full page ad, depicting custom made musical clockwork creatures, made of goblin wrought metals and meticulously crafted. Not only that, but they actually told the time, their tiny innards all containing a minuscule working clock where the heart should be. It was perfect. She quickly ripped out the order form and filled it in, requesting a mockingbird, life sized, made of silver. It would be expensive, but she didn’t care. He was worth it. She only hoped that it would arrive in time.

Chapter Text

Wednesday, December 23rd

 

Sansa was overjoyed when she woke up Wednesday morning and realized that all of the girls in her dormitory were heading home for the holidays. Their absence meant that she could probably spend every night of break with Petyr and no one would be the wiser. The room was a flurry of activity, as all of the sixth year girls save for Sansa packed up their trunks, chatting excitedly about what they would do during their much needed break. Sansa saw Jeyne, looking as worn out and wan as the last time she’d paid attention to the girl, and hoped that she’d look better when she returned from break. If not, she resolved to talk to Jeyne, see if there was anything she could do to help. She felt bad that she kept forgetting to follow through with her concern so far, too distracted with Petyr and her own schoolwork.

She went up to breakfast, and ate with Arya and Margaery before saying goodbye to them both. They both looked far more upset about leaving than Sansa would have liked, Arya still unhappy that Sansa wouldn’t be coming to Romania, and Margaery dreading visiting with the Weasleys. Margaery had been increasingly miserable ever since Charlie Weasley had thought she was dating Fred rather than George, and she’d finally decided she’d have to get up the nerve to break up with him soon. Of course, Margaery was determined not to do so before Christmas, but she was still all worked up about having to pretend everything was fine around George and his entire family. Sansa hugged them both fiercely, and promised that she’d respond to any owls lickety split, but even Arya looked a bit tearful when they parted.

Once everyone had departed for the Hogwarts Express, the castle was startlingly empty, her footsteps echoing off the corridor walls as she made her way back to the dungeons, but Sansa didn’t mind. Joffrey had gone home with nearly everyone else (very few had decided to stay this year, though it was hardly surprising, considering the attacks) and she no longer had any reason to worry about her safety. Unless the heir of Slytherin struck again, of course. But Petyr had told her that last time the attacks had only been on Muggleborns, and, since Colin Creevey was a Muggleborn, it seemed that that might be the case once again.

Last night, before she’d gone to sleep, Sansa had pulled out her two way mirror to say goodnight to Petyr, as always, and he’d promised her that they would spend the day together, taking advantage of their newfound freedom while it lasted. So, with that in mind, she skipped right down to his office, and, once she was certain that no one was inside, opened the door. Petyr was seated behind his desk, answering an owl that waited patiently for his reply, and Sansa wandered over to peer over his shoulder as he wrote, knowing that he wouldn’t mind.

It seemed Cersei had written him a scathing letter for giving Joffrey detention last week, insisting that her ‘sweet boy’ would never intentionally try to poison another student, and that it clearly had been just a misunderstanding. Since Joffrey wasn’t taking Potions this year, Sansa wondered how Cersei could possibly think her son had ‘accidentally’ poisoned someone, but apparently Cersei was willing to turn a blind eye when it came to her children. According to Petyr, Cersei’s unconditional love for her children was one of her few redeemable qualities.

Petyr finished his reply, which refused to make amends for the detention while simultaneously flattering the lioness into submission, so as not to provoke further ire, and quickly sealed the letter before attaching it to the owl’s leg. The owl gave a baleful hoot before disappearing, somehow intuitively knowing the letter’s recipient and their present location. Sansa slid her arms around Petyr’s neck from behind, and nipped at his earlobe, watching the smirk grow before he finally stood, turning to crash his mouth to hers.

Sansa distantly heard the lock to his office door click, before she lost herself, kissing him back with fierce passion, her blood singing in her veins as her heart chased a rhythm of pounding want. The kiss had absolutely nothing gentle about it. Their couplings had moved beyond such tenderness, though occasionally they still reverted back to those moments, depending on their mood. Instead they pawed at each other lately with almost animalistic abandon, their desire for one another only increased by their frequent forced separations.

They didn’t manage to remove all of their clothing, or even to make it to the couch or bed. Instead, she bent over his desk, as Petyr entered her from behind, the pace quick and brutal, each slap of skin against skin only heightening her pleasure. His hands dug into her hips as she lay splayed across his beautiful desk, the wood cool against her heated skin, her hands gripping the edge. She cried out as she came, Petyr’s name mingling with another shout, a voice that wasn’t Petyr’s at all, but someone else’s.

The shrieks continued, high pitched and hysterical. Petyr jerked away from Sansa, and despite the danger, she couldn’t stop herself from whimpering as his length left her, still reeling from her orgasm. She struggled to stand up, knowing that something was very wrong, and heard Petyr use a spell to silence the intruder, the deafening noise vanishing as quickly as it had come. Sansa fixed her skirt, dread coursing through her veins as she turned to face their visitor.

Lysa Arryn was standing by the fireplace, mouth still working furiously, as though she had no idea that Petyr had used a spell to rob her of her voice. When Lysa recognized Sansa, her face turned a horrible, blotchy red, and she whipped out her wand, sending objects flying in their direction.

Petyr pulled Sansa out of the way, and quickly disarmed Lysa, catching her wand as it sailed through the air. “Enough,” he snapped. He cast another spell that wove rope around Lysa’s body, confining her movements.

Lysa glowered angrily at them, mouth still silently firing obscenities and curses at them, though she clearly didn’t have an aptitude for wandless magic. Sansa stared at her aunt, horrified. What in the name of Merlin’s beard was she doing here? And what was she wearing? Her aunt’s lumpy body had been jammed into a kind of leather catsuit, form fitting to a fault, and extremely unflattering. Lysa had also done her hair and makeup, both done to excess, and if Lysa had anything attractive about her before, it was now hidden under vast amounts of hairspray and rouge, and false eyelashes.

Sansa watched as Petyr stalked over to her aunt, expression murderous. “What,” he asked icily, “are you doing here? How did you find me?”

Lysa stopped yelling soundlessly and gave Petyr what she must have thought was a winning smile, fluttering her eyelashes. He scowled at her and raised his wand. “If you raise your voice above a normal level, I’ll make sure you never speak again. Is that clear?”

Lysa nodded emphatically, and Petyr lifted the spell. “Oh, Petyr! At last, I’ve found you,” she simpered, trying to reach for him with a bound hand.

Petyr backed away from her. “How?” he demanded.

Lysa’s gaze darkened. “How about I ask what you’re doing with my niece?”

“No,” Petyr said, using his wand to tighten Lysa’s bonds. “You are not in a position to ask questions. Answer me now.”

Lysa raised her chin defiantly. “I have my ways. And if you send me away, I’ll only find my way back to you again. I’m sure Dumbledore wouldn’t be too happy to learn you’re fucking one of your students.” She glared at Sansa. “I always knew you were a whore. Make no mistake, little girl. Petyr’s mine, and he always has been. You’re just a poor substitute for me. Or maybe your mother.”

Sansa gaped at her. “You’re delusional,” she said.

Lysa let out a high pitched giggle. “The Wolf Who Lived, the pure innocent girl that the wizarding world just adores. Can’t imagine they’d love you so much if they knew what a slut you were. I’ll bet Petyr wasn’t your first by a long shot. You’ve probably been with half the staff.”

Petyr sighed, and waved his wand again, silencing Lysa once more. “What do you want to do with her,” he asked Sansa, turning to face her.

Sansa bit her lip, staring at the floor. “We can’t just let her go,” she said finally.

“No, we can’t,” he agreed. “If it were up to me, I’d simply dispose of her. She’s been a thorn in my side for far too long. And your cousin would only benefit from crawling out of her suffocating embrace.”

Sansa frowned, shaking her head. “No,” she said. “No, I can’t do that. Something’s wrong with her. I’m not sure if she’s always been like this, but she’s not in her right mind.”

Petyr sighed again. “Sansa, this woman was hardly good to you. I’ve seen some of your memories of growing up at the Eyrie. It is remarkable that you’re as well adjusted as you are, considering your upbringing.”

“I just can’t.... Petyr, she’s one of the few family members I have left. Even if she’s completely horrible. Even if the world is better off without her. Don’t make me a murderer. Not today. Not with Christmas so close. Not of my own family,” Sansa insisted, tears springing to her eyes.

Petyr walked over to where she stood, enveloping her in a hug. “Shhh,” he whispered. “I’m sorry. I won’t push you into doing anything you don’t want to. We’ll wipe her memory and send her back home.”

Sansa raised her head from his chest, looking into his eyes through her own watery blues. “Ok,” she agreed, before kissing him softly. “Thank you.”

He kissed her again, and there was loud thud. They broke apart, turning to find Lysa face down on the floor, struggling against her bonds like a mad woman. Sansa couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her lips, and Petyr smirked at her as he bent to flip Lysa over. Lysa tried to spit on him, but missed, and he promptly used a spell to fuse her lips together. Laughter continued to bubble through Sansa, though it wasn’t sorely born from amusement, but from stress, anxiety, and a complete lack of knowing how to handle the situation appropriately.

“Obliviate,” Petyr said, directing his wand at Lysa in careful concentration.

A dreamy expression settled over Lysa’s features, and Petyr removed the spells silencing her and keeping her mouth closed. Lysa stared up at them both, slightly slack jawed, eyes glassy. Petyr vanished the ropes binding Lysa, and stood back, allowing her to get to her feet.

“Go home, Lysa,” he ordered. “Don’t return here again.”

Lysa nodded and returned to the fireplace, using a pinch of Floo Powder and stepping into the flames, before whirling out of sight. Sansa stared after her aunt, frowning. “Did you use Legilimency just then? Or the Imperius Curse?”

“The Imperius Curse. I’d rather not spend any more time wandering through Lysa’s mind than necessary. The connection will break when she returns to the Eyrie, but I placed a very powerful memory charm on her, so she isn’t likely to remember anything from the last few days. I also planted an idea in her head to take a potion that will put her to sleep right when she gets back. She’ll probably be passed out for the next day or so.”

“And what if the memory charm didn’t work? Or wears off?” Sansa asked anxiously.

“I’ll keep an eye on her,” Petyr assured her. “I have portraits at the Eyrie. They’ll tell me everything I need to know.”

Sansa nodded, but she still felt dread in the pit of her stomach over what had just happened. What if Lysa regained her memory? What if she told someone what she had seen? What would they do? Would Sansa really be able to do what was necessary if the time came, silencing her aunt permanently? And what kind of person did that make her?

Chapter Text

After the incident with Lysa, their lust had considerably waned, and Sansa’s excitement and joy had as well. It would figure that her aunt would find a way to ruin her Christmas even when she was at Hogwarts and supposed to be free from ever seeing the crazy bitch again. Petyr kept trying to console her, but nothing seemed to work, until he decided that maybe it would be nice to get outside for a bit. He sent her to go get her coat and when she came back he was dressed warmly, in a very handsome black cloak with the scarf she had given him for his birthday wound around his neck.

They used the Floo Network to travel to his home on the outskirts of London, though they didn’t stay long. Petyr used magic to turn her back into Alayne Stone, darkening her hair and shielding her scar from view, and they Apparated into a quiet alley in the heart of one of London’s shopping districts. Once there, he brought Sansa to the Christmas shop they’d stopped in while celebrating her birthday, and told her to pick out anything she wanted.

Lost in the magic that only the holidays could bring, Sansa had soon filled a cart with anything that caught her fancy. She was, of course, a bit anxious about spending his money again, but far less so than when he had bought her a dress worth over a thousand pounds. And he insisted on buying everything for her anyway, even adding a few things to the cart that she clearly wanted, but had decided against since she’d already gone overboard. It was hard to resist, really, when he seemed to take such pleasure in buying things for her. And anyway, it wasn’t just for her, but for him. For their first Christmas together.

They stopped in several more shops after that, acquiring more Christmas paraphernalia than anyone had the right to have, before Apparating to a Christmas tree farm to pick out a tree. In a fit of Christmas spirit, the weather turned to snow just as they arrived, fat flakes spiraling down from the sky as they wandered through the forest of freshly cut varieties of pines. By then, Sansa had fully regained her good mood, the events of earlier all but vanished from her mind as she hummed along to the holiday music piped into the air, breathing in the woodsy pine scent that screamed of Christmas.

Petyr told her to pick any tree she wanted, though he would draw the line at a Charlie Brown imitation, laughing at her confused expression when she had no idea what that meant. Sansa wove through the trees, carefully examining them before finally stopping at the most gorgeous blue spruce. It was quite tall, and thick, not a bare spot to be found, and so perfectly shaped that she marveled at the magic that nature could create all on her own.

They found a salesman, and made their purchase, gaining befuddled looks from the man when Petyr told him that he wouldn’t need any help getting the tree home. When the salesman had finally turned his back, heading to get them some twine he’d assured them they would need, Petyr gave her a smirk before offering his arm. When she took it, they vanished with the tree, appearing again just in front of his house. Sansa erupted in giggles at the thought of the man returning only to find they’d simply disappeared, somehow taking the towering tree with them despite all odds.

Petyr levitated the tree into his house, using magic to set it up in the tree stand they’d purchased earlier that day. Then, since it was lunch time, they decided to order a pizza, unpacking their abundant purchases while they waited for the food to arrive. At Sansa’s insistence, they turned the radio to a Christmas station, and she sang along with her favorites while they pulled the tags and wrappings from all of the decorations they’d acquired, ignoring his amused expression.

Just before the pizza arrived, Sansa thought to ask Petyr what on earth he’d meant by a Charlie Brown tree, and when he explained that it was from a show, she insisted on watching it. He looked a bit pained, but turned on his tv and somehow bought the show, starting the film so that she could watch it while he paid the delivery person. It turned out to be a story acted out by what appeared to be hand drawn figures, with a bunch of young children, a dog, and a bird all learning lessons about what Christmas meant. She kept watching while they ate their food, though Petyr barely paid attention, and when it finished he looked more than a little relieved.

The rest of the afternoon was lost to decorating, and by the time Sansa had finished (Petyr helped, though he wasn’t nearly as into it as she was) the house was transformed, bursting with festivity. Every room, with the exception of the attic and the basement, was decked out in so much holiday cheer that it looked almost as if they’d entered Father Christmas’ workshop, had the magical old man actually been real. Petyr even bewitched the ceilings into releasing light snow falls, and though the flakes evaporated into nothing before they reached the ground, it was still absolutely perfect in every way. The lights were all dimmed save for the twinkling fairy lights they’d found in the Muggle shops, and the real fairies Petyr had summoned with magic, and it gave the entire house the sort of magical quality that only came from the holiday season, one of warmth and miracles, joy and comfort.

Sansa was reluctant to leave, but Petyr insisted they had better return to Hogwarts for dinner, since she was one of the few students to stay behind, and if she didn’t attend the occasional mealtime it would look suspicious. Only the fact that she would be returning as soon as they finished eating gave her the will to travel back to school. She ate quickly, not really tasting anything, shooting furtive looks his way when he got caught talking to Lockhart for a few minutes and couldn’t leave just when she wanted.

When they finally made it back, they settled down in the sitting room, on the couch by their beautiful new Christmas tree, with a fire dancing merrily in the hearth. Christmas music played softly in the background, though they didn’t hear much of it, instead journeying through memories of past holidays using the pensieve. Sansa showed Petyr one of her better memories of Christmas at the Eyrie, one where her Uncle Jon had still been alive. In the memory, her Uncle Jon had spent the day filling her head with stories of her mother and father while her Aunt Lysa took care of a squalling infant Robin in the background.

And of course, she took him to Winterfell as well, showing him the heart tree in the godswood, all of the Targaryen-Starks in their rowdy glory, the carols they would sing, the snowball fights, and how loved she felt around them. Petyr gave her more glimpses of her mother (and Lysa too, unfortunately), this time at Riverrun, showcasing the Christmases he’d had there from eight years old until he’d been cast out of the Tully household. Sansa loved seeing her mother as a girl, watching her twirl around in the snow singing Christmas songs, or stringing popcorn to hang on the family Christmas tree, which actually outshone the one she’d just purchased with Petyr that day heightwise. She even laughed when a young Petyr, already able to control his magic quite well, even before he’d gone to school, sent snowballs after Lysa when she wouldn’t stop pestering him, and only felt a small tug of jealousy when he wound up kissing both girls under the mistletoe.

Heavy with nostalgia, they came back from the last memory and just sat on the couch, both lost in the past and the feelings it had evoked. Sansa laid curled next him, her legs tucked underneath her, and her head on his shoulder, watching the fire, and the snow swirling through the air, with a contented smile curving her lips. She missed her mother and father, and Robb, missed the family they might have been. And she missed Arya, and all of the Targaryen-Starks, and Margaery too, the second family they had all become for her. But here and now, with only Petyr by her side, she was happy. The kind of happiness that could only be found from being with the person you were absolutely and completely, undeniably and irrevocably in love with. The kind of love that brought passion and security, growth and comfort. The kind you’d live for, and die for, and everything in between.

Sansa wasn’t sure how long they sat together like that, contentedly silent, both smiling softly off in the distance as they pondered the past, and the future as well. Their minds weren’t joined, but she knew what Petyr was thinking regardless. Over these last few months together, she’d come to know him so well, how the minute shifts of his facial features reflected his emotions so subtly, not giving anything away to anyone but her, since she alone knew the thoughts running through his mind during those shifts. It wasn’t as an exact science as reading his thoughts, but it suited well enough during those rare moments he kept her out, something he only ever did when it was necessary.

The fire slowly died in the hearth, reduced to glowing embers, though she didn’t really mind. She was warm enough, cuddled against Petyr with a newly purchased holiday patterned blanket draped over them, and as the room darkened, it only looked more beautiful, the fairy lights looking more like stars in the night sky. It felt cozy, and romantic, and breathtaking all at once, and when Petyr dropped a kiss on her forehead, she hummed contentedly, snuggling closer and turning her face so she could look into his eyes. The hundreds of tiny lights in the room were reflected in his gaze, which seemed more green than she’d ever seen before, and she raised her head from his shoulder so she could study their depths more clearly, wander into that forest filled with flickering fireflies, just for a moment.

Sansa slipped into his mind, letting herself drift completely, and to her surprise, that usual forest, shrouded in mist was different this time. The mist had cleared considerably, the foliage startlingly vibrant, and there were embers dancing through the air, thousands of little sparks of fire that refused to die, bringing light into the darkness. The embers swirled around her, gathering close, as if she were a magnet, or perhaps the source of the flame that birthed them, and she gave a little twirl, laughing in delight as the sparks shimmered around her. It had been quite awhile since she’d wandered along the forest paths of his mind, and she wondered when it had changed, if perhaps she was the reason for it.

She might have stayed there forever, wrapped in the comfort of Petyr’s mind, but a pressure to her lips brought her back to herself once more. He’d kissed her, a gentle press to ground her back in the moment, and she smiled against his mouth before deepening it, entirely different embers sparking in her veins. They moved slowly tonight, caresses unhurried and full of worshipful intent. Starting with the kiss, lips moving together softly, sweetly, and oh so exquisitely, their tongues waiting far longer than usual before they touched, breaching the part of their lips when they both sighed, breaths mingling.

When the kiss broke, and Petyr dropped kisses along her jawline, his lips taking in her earlobe instead, Sansa’s lips were swollen and pulsing from his attentions, yet still eager for more. But seeing as he was doing such a lovely number on her ear, she couldn’t find the will to drag his mouth back, instead letting out a breathy gasp as he sucked and nipped, swirling his tongue just so. His next home was the base of her neck, each of his hands palming her breasts, tweaking her nipples through her shirt, and she let her head fall backwards as he worked his mouth against her skin, her mouth hanging slack as she panted, nearly already undone from his efforts.

She squirmed beside him, her hands gripping his shoulders. needing to shift so that she could straddle his lap, or to fall onto her back with him on top of her, anything to get the friction that she craved, but he halted her movements, his hands leaving her breasts to grip her waist. Sansa let out a small whimper of protest, then raised her arms above her head as he tugged her shirt up and off. Petyr’s mouth found hers again as he released the catch of her bra, and as he tossed the garment aside he pressed close, urging her onto her back as his clothed chest brushed against her bare skin. She shivered at the contact, whining softly as his lips trailed down to take one of her nipples, tongue and teeth teasing the already hard peak, one hand caressing her other breast, while the other slipped under her skirt, skimming over her soaked underwear.

Her hips bucked up against his fingers, and he let go of her nipple with a soft pop, before running his tongue down her stomach, his hands tugging her skirt and underwear from her hips as he continued his descent. Those kisses rained down past her hips, past her throbbing apex, down her right thigh and calf as he slowly removed the last of her clothes. Petyr planted a kiss at her ankle before switching to the other leg, mouth hot against her flushed skin, steadily making his way back to her center, until finally, finally, his tongue slipped between her folds. Sansa shuddered underneath him, weaving her fingers into his hair as that wicked tongue circled her clit, and he slid two fingers inside of her, slowly building a lovely rhythm that had her hips jerking against his ministrations.

As was his wont, he continued until she shattered, fragmenting into an infinite number of pieces like some porcelain doll, the destruction so completely, achingly sweet, carrying her through until she slowly came back together, whole once more, and stronger at every part that had fractured. Sansa let out a little moan of contentment as his mouth trailed back up along her body, kissing all of the tiny invisible fissures he had just torn and healed, sealing the bonds with love and tenderness, until his lips met hers once more. She wrapped her arms and legs around him, his hard length still clothed as it brushed against her swollen sex, yet it stoked the fire inside of her once more all the same.

She was newly shattered, the fire too much for the porcelain from which she was crafted, but he had brought her back together before, and he would do so again, and again, and again. The fire was all consuming, destroying everything in its path, but not without the promise of renewal. Scorching heat could turn everything to ash, and yet it could also create some of the most beautiful things in existence, if one only knew how to control it. And so it was with the passion they shared.

Sansa sat up, pushing Petyr gently into a sitting position so she could remove his shirt. Her hands skillfully worked the buttons as they kissed, movements now practiced and sure, even when she couldn’t see what she was doing. When she’d finished, she slowly got to her feet, tugging on his hand so that he would follow her up, their kiss never breaking. His pants and underwear soon followed, and when they were both bare, he picked her up in his arms and carried her upstairs to his room, setting her carefully on his bed. She sat on the edge, staring up at him with a gaze that spoke only of love, until he leaned down and kissed her again, urging her to move backwards onto the bed and following after, covering her body with his.

The feel of his bare skin against hers never failed to flood her senses, and as their mouths collided she felt heady with near overstimulation. She reached between them to palm his cock, stroking along the shaft until she tore a groan from his lips. Petyr directed his hips so that his length slid against her folds, the head of his cock teasing her nub for a moment before he changed tack and sunk into her. They both gasped, their names mingling together as each called out to the other, and when he began to move, they locked lips again, craving the closeness.

His thrusts started slow, the tempo increasing somewhat as he swiveled his hips, moving just the right way to maximize her pleasure, hitting that wonderful spot over and over with perfect precision. Sansa met his rhythm easily, her body so in tune with his that her hips rose and fell without any hesitation or thought on her part. Everything was mere instinct now, her muscles working to drive her back to that beautiful annihilation, and as he drove into her with an increasing frenzy she felt it coming. The heat turned from red to blue to blinding white, and she cried out his name in exhilaration as it broke her, the shocks only heightened when he came only seconds later, choking out her name on a strangled breath.

Petyr collapsed down onto her, and she clutched him back, her mouth greedily finding his as they reformed, melding back to themselves, to each other. The kisses didn’t stop until Sansa started drifting off to sleep, and he chuckled, rolling off of her and pulling her into his side. She curled against him with her head resting on his chest, his arm curved around her waist, and felt so happy that for once, she wouldn’t have to part from him for the night. Instead, she could stay right where she wanted, falling asleep in his arms, cradled against him until they woke the next morning. She couldn’t imagine a better Christmas gift.

Before she fell asleep, he spoke, voice thick with exhaustion. “I love you.”

Sansa had been on the very edge of consciousness, but at his words she raised her head, seeking a kiss. When his mouth had found hers again, she sighed in contentment and whispered, “I love you too. Goodnight.”

“Sleep well, sweetling.”