Tyrion swirled the contents of his goblet and stared out the window at the ruins of Kings Landing below. The war was over now, and the snows within the city were melted by the fire that had rained down upon it. Tyrion was just thankful that they had successfully managed to evacuate the residents before Cersei unleashed the wildfire. He had hoped very much that it would not come to this. Everyone had lost too much already, and he himself lost a great deal that day.
He was sitting in the Tower of the Hand, the quarters which he had inhabited once before when he had been Hand of the King to Joffrey. Now he held the very same office for the new King and Queen to be of the seven kingdoms – Aegon and Daenerys Targaryen. Tyrion smiled wryly to himself, remembering the sullen curly-haired Jon Snow he had met in Winterfell all those years ago. The boy who believed in the honor and glory that came with being a brother of the Night's Watch. He'd come a long way since then. Even Varys would never have predicted something like this, he mused. As for Daenerys – she had lived up to her name of Stormborn. Wild and unpredictable as she could be, he was so proud of what she had achieved. He was glad they had found each other.
A knock on the door interrupted him from his thoughts.
“Come in,” he called out.
The door opened, and he turned to look at her. She stood as tall and beautiful as she had the day they wed. The evening sun that filtered through the blinds set her hair aflame. It was done in a way similar to how Catelyn Stark has done hers. They did look exceptionally alike. My lady wife, he thought to himself fondly. I'm more proud of you than anyone. She had married and almost certainly bedded by Ramsay Bolton since then of course, but he was now dead, leaving the two of them in a strange position - something he was hoping to change.
“Lord Tyrion,” Sansa said, without a trace of the timidity she used to have in her voice when she addressed him. “You wished to see me?”
“Sansa,” he smiled, and then gestured to the second goblet he had waiting by the wine jug. “Would you care for a drink?”
Tyrion filled the goblet and walked over to the door to hand it to her. Their fingers brushed lightly as she took it from him. She watched him as he went to settle himself down in an armchair.
“Take a seat if you like”.
Sansa sat down opposite him and took a sip of wine.
“I'm sorry for your loss,” she said after a few moments of silence. “If it's any consolation... I know how you feel.”
Tyrion lowered his eyes and let out a rueful chuckle, reminded of the time he had said a similar thing to her. He still remembered her bitter response.
“I doubt that very much my lady.”
There was a momentary glint in Sansa's eye that showed him she remembered too - but it was gone as quickly as it came. She held her wine goblet between her knees and watched him, her face genuinely sympathetic.
“My sister was a deeply unpleasant person,” Tyrion said stiffly. “You knew that as well as I do. I certainly did not love her, and she utterly despised me. She has wanted me dead my whole life, but still when the chance presented itself, she chose not to say the world... It is hard to believe she is truly gone.” He took a long drink.
“..and Ser Jaime?”
His brother's name cut through him like a knife. Jaime had been the only member of his family who had ever truly loved him. He had always stuck up for him, even when he used to side with Cersei on most matters. But he was gone now too. Tyrion's siblings had entered and exited this world together, as they always said they would. He was just glad that Jaime had seen their sister for what she was before the end.
“I'm sorry,” she said quickly when he did not reply. “I understand if you don't want to talk about it.”
“He set me free,” Tyrion said quietly. “He saved my life so I could murder our father, and fail to save his in return. I can't even go and bring myself to see their- to see them lying in the throne room.”
“My protector, Lady Brienne - she refuses to leave his side. She has stood guard by his body the last night and day. She hasn't slept a wink and she has barely eats anything we bring her. I trust her with my life, so if she cared for him that much I believe she must have good reason. The gods will protect him, I'm sure of it.”
Tyrion smiled sadly and downed the rest of his wine.
“What did you want to see me for my lord?”
Tyrion set his goblet down on the small table beside his chair and got to his feet. He stretched his fingers and started to pace, as he always did when he was nervous. He had thought long and hard about what he was going to say to her, but now she was here, everything he had rehearsed sounded stupid in his head.
“I am now not only an orphan, but also an only child. Both my parents are dead because of me, and my brother and sister may also still be alive if not for me. I guess you could say that the name of Lannister is well and truly disgraced. I still have a couple of living cousins, but with the passing of my siblings, my noble and ancient house is as good as dead. I am twice married already, and getting past my prime. I was never a handsome man, but these past years have added further horrors to my appearance. Thanks to my dear sister, the name of Lannister is as unpopular with lords of the realm as it has ever been. I think it's safe to say that the chances of me securing another marriage with any of their daughters at this stage are next to none. The world has been repeatedly unkind to me for my whole life. When I was younger I foolishly believed that I may find true love one day. I believed in a beautiful lady who would worship me and want me, and not just for my gold and title. But time has made me a cynic, and this no longer something I aspire to.”
He paused, thinking of Tysha. Thinking of Shae. Two beautiful women who had stolen his heart, before tearing it apart. He could still see Shae's glassy, lifeless eyes staring up at him, frozen with fear as she lay on his father's bed, strangled by chains by his own hands. His blood ran cold at the memory. He would have to confess it to Sansa one day, but he couldn't face that conversation now. He looked into her grey eyes for a sign that she realised what he was hinting at, but her face remained perfectly controlled. She had always been such an excellent actress, he thought ruefully. It's what had kept her alive for so long. That and the tendency others had for underestimating her intelligence. He approached her chair and reached out for her hand. She didn't pull slap him away – a positive sign.
“ I am a broken man. I do not expect you to love me the kind of youthful passion that our new rulers share, and I admit I am getting past that myself. I can offer you nothing but wit and wine and a promise to treat you with respect until as long as we both shall live. I admire you Sansa, and you already know that I would never force myself into your bed unless you desired it... What I'm trying to say, what I mean, at least, is that I would like to redeem my house if possible, and turn the name of Lannister into one that inspires hope and respect once more, and if the wolf could see it inside herself to join once again with the lion-”
“I know what you must be thinking – I'm hideous and you're still young, and exceptionally beautiful. Your cousin the King can no doubt still make you a good match with an honourable knight or lord even if you are no longer a maid. It's foolish for me to assume-”
“-Tyrion,” she cut him off, curling her fingers around his. He looked up at her, wide eyed. Her own expression was warm. “I won't deny that the same thought has crossed my mind a few times. I no longer believe in love the way I used to either. When I think of how stupid I was about Joffrey... Let's just say that I have realised there is more to life than making pretty babies. I am very grateful for how you treated me. I was too frightened at the time to appreciate it, and I'm sorry I didn't trust you. I can't promise that I can bear you children-” her face flushed awkwardly. “-The thought of lying with anyone after the way Ramsay used my body fills me with dread – but if that ever changes... I would gladly take up my duty to you again as your wife.”
Tyrion smiled as relief washed over him, and she smiled back at him, her eyes twinkling.
“I think maybe marriage is best when based on trust and friendship anyway. I could learn to love you Tyrion Lannister, and I honestly believe I would be as with you as my husband as any other man three times better looking.”
Her smile widened into an impish grin as he chucked bashfully. There were very few moments in Tyrion's life in which he had felt as touched as he did then. He was sure it was written all over his face as it had been the day Daenerys had named him her hand.
“Well perhaps we should start by becoming good friends?” He said, closing his fingers around hers and tugging her to her feet. “Come, walk with me in the garden and tell me stories of all the naughty things you did growing up in Winterfell, and then we can come back here and drink ourselves silly with even more wine.”
“I never did anything naughty!” Sansa cried, pretending to take offense. “I was a perfect young lady. Arya was always the naughty one.”
“That does not surprise me in the slightest,” Tyrion laughed. “But it is important for us to be honest with each other-” He pushed Shae from his mind as he opened the door and guided Sansa through, “'-and I distinctly recall you telling me a story one time about sheep shift and mattresses...”