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A goodbye

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"Are you ready?"

Sansa looked out of the window of her chambers. The snow had been falling for weeks. She had not witnessed real winter yet but she felt at peace somehow. This was her true nature. She was a winter's child. 

"No." she answered and turned to face Arya who stood near the closed door.

"No? What do you mean?"

Sansa sighed aloud and sat down on the edge of her bed. "I need to talk with him first. Privatly."

"Are you out of your mind?" Arya was furious and took some steps towards her. "He betrayed our family. He hired someome to murder Bran. He sold you to the Boltons, he tried to manipulate us. Over and over again. He needs to die."

"I know." Sansa sighed again, looking her sister right in the eyes. She could see nothing but hate and revenge in her and for a second she felt sorry for her. But also for herself and what they had become.

"But he also saved me from the Lannisters. He took care of me and brought me home. For a high price I guess, but we are here now, Arya. We are home. I kind of owe him."

"Owe him what?"

"A goodbye." My life and also the death of the girl I once was, she thought to herself.

"You can't be serious. He will try to lure you with his lies and manipulate you once again. He won't stop until he got everything. You know this better than anybody else." Arya tried to place her tiny hand on the shoulder of her big sister, but she did not dare to touch her. 

"I'm serious. I will never find justice and peace in this if I don't talk to him. I will always doubt this decision. I need to be sure."

"You aren't sure yet? Gods, what did he do to you? Do you love him or what?"

Arya's words cut like a knife through the cold air. Sansa looked at her in shock and tried to collect her thoughts.

"What in the seven hells, Sansa! You do love him." Arya said and laughed hysterically. "You are out of your mind!"

Sansa could not think straight and breathed heavily. "I don't."

"You don't what?"

"...love him. I guess. But he understands me in a way nobody else could. We are kind of the same in many regards."

"Ha, I doubt that." Arya said, crossing her arms in front of her body. "You heard what Bran remembered...or what he saw. You heard him. How can you even say you are kind of the same? You wouldn't do such things in a million years. Stop justifying his actions!"

Now it was Arya not being serious. She had already done such things. She willingly lied about aunt Lysa's death. She acted behind Jon's back, even if her motives were to save her family and Winterfell. She had even thought about letting him kiss her in the Godswood for a second. She was everything but the girl Arya once knew.

"You of all people should know that the mask you are wearing and the person behind it are entirely different from one another. Littlefinger deserves to die for what he did to our family but first I need to say goodbye to Lord Baelish. You don't know him as well as I do. You don't know his whole story, the real man behind the mask. In the end both will die but one might deserve it more than the other", Sansa tried to explain. 

Arya's eyes travelled to the floor, then back to Sansa. "Fine", she finally said. "But don't expect me to feel anything but hate for this monster. I don't care if you call him Littlefinger or Lord Baelish, for me he remains the same slimy bastard he always was."

Arya turned around and opened the door of Sansa's chambers. Outside Brienne was waiting patiently and taking care of any visitors who might disturb their conversation. "Brienne, please send someone to collect Lord Baelish. Sansa wants to speak with him. Alone", she said and looked over her shoulder at Sansa.

Brienne seemed to hesitate for a moment, then bowed in front of both ladies and left.

Arya turned around one last time. "Please don't trust him in any matter and take care."

Sansa nodded, then said "I only trust myself" before Arya closed the door and let her sister alone. Sansa, still sitting on her bed, led her eyes from the now closed door to the window and asked herself if this was the truth at all.

She breathed slowly to calm herself, then got up from the bed and left her chambers. This was not the right place to talk to Lord Baelish. She headed towards her little office some floors below. While walking the cold corridors she admitted to herself that Winterfell did not feel like home anymore. Too much had happened, too much had changed. She wondered if it would ever feel like home again or any place in general. Home was a long gone dream in a time where her parents, Robb and Rickon were still alive and the only problems she faced were her annoying little sister Arya and where she could find herself a handsome prince. Joffrey or Ramsey were only frightening monsters in a fairytale and not a violent and gut-wrenching reality. 

By the time she reached her office, Sansa's heart felt heavy and broken. She closed the wooden door behind her and lit the fireplace. The sound of the growing flames crashing the wooden pieces comforted her. While she was looking into the fire, her thoughts travelled to Petyr Baelish, the man who rescued and damned her at the same time, the one who always was a bit too close and at other, very dark, times not close enough. There was something deep inside of her that frightened her whenever Lord Baelish was nearby. She could not name it, but it was this utterly strange feeling deep down in her stomach. Affection, desire, hate, gratitude, curiosity - it was all this and so much more. Sansa knew that he was not only dangerous but also deadly. And she knew that he was manipulative, selfish and reckless when it came to his picture. The picture of him on the Iron Throne with her by his side, she thought and the devilish feeling of his hot breath against her skin came to her mind. She shook her head. It was tempting, of course, the idea of the power she could have. Though, was this what she wanted? It was his picture, not hers. Or was it? She shook her head again, realizing that she was not frightened of Lord Baelish but more of what he made her feel and desire, what she could be capable of. Still...she could not get rid of her mixed feelings towards him and his oh so pretty picture of them ruling over the ashes of their enemies.

The gentle knock on the door disturbed the chaos of her thoughts.

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Sansa walked towards her desk and sat down behind it. After taking a deep breath, she called: "Please come in."

Her heart skipped a beat when the door openend and Lord Baelish entered.

"Here you are. You wanted to see me, Lady Sansa?", he asked and closed the door behind him. His slender figure was hugged by a heavy, dark green coat, fastenend with a silver mockingbird pin. He was definitely not made for the relentless weather in the North. His grey temples stood in contrast to his clothing, his hands decorated with heavy rings.

Her eyes wandered from his hands to his mockingbird pin and up to his grey-green eyes. He looked at her curiously and with the well-known smirk he wore whenever he was near her. She feared he could hear her beating heart.

"Thank you for coming, Lord Baelish", she simply said and gestured to the chair in front of her desk.

He smiled at her and sat down. Though, his smile did not reach his eyes, as always when Littlefinger was talking to her.

Sansa sighed and let the silence between them sink in. Her hands were resting on top of each other on the dark wooden desk.

"What is it you wanted to talk about, my lady?" Lord Baelish asked her after a while. He leaned back and studied her.

She thought about letting him know everything Bran had told her. She also thought about slitting his throat right here and now to end her doubts and him forever.

"I need to be honest with you. I don't really know", she finally admitted, looking him straight in the eyes.

He shifted his weight in the chair, leaning forward, his slim fingers dangerously near Sansa's own hands. "You don't know why you wanted to talk to me?" He sounded amused and half-smirked at her. "I never thought you of all ladies would forget why you sent for someone."

She was annoyed at his words, rolling her eyes slightly. "Please stop, Lord Baelish."

"It's Petyr, my lady."

"What do you really want?" The question came out of her mouth and she cursed herself for asking it.

Petyr's mouth opened slightly. His eyes travelled down Sansa's braided auburn hair which framed her feminine face. Sadly it had turned to stone over the years of lies and abuse. She would never be the same again and honestly did not want to be. This was her now. Queen in the North in Jon's absense. Lady of Winterfell. Petyr Baelish's weak point.

His look made her shiver both from discomfort and desire.

"I already told you. In the Godswood", he then said. "I want everything with you by my side." His words came out of his mouth without hesitation. He took Sansa's hands into his own, his thumbs lightly caressing her porcelain skin.

"I can't possibly trust you. I can't."

Sansa suddenly withdrew her hands and stood up, walking around the table to the fireplace. She could not look at him or she feared she would give herself away. Her heartbeat ringed in her ears. The flames burnt bright now and she could see herself burn in them.

She felt his presence right behind her for he had already gotten up and now stood only a step away from her.

"How do you want me to prove it to you, sweetling?" Petyr's words, not Littlefinger's.

"I don't know", she said again, still looking into the flames. She was getting warmer by now, her black thick dress absorbing the heat of the fire. Though she did not know if it were only the flames or something entirely different too.

She felt his slim fingers in her hair as he played with one of her locks which had escaped her braid. She closed her eyes at this familiar gesture and thought back to her journey with him, to every little look, every light touch, the kiss in the Eyrie, their conversation in the crypts.

"I will give you everything you want", he whispered into her ear as he got closer.

All lies and Arbour gold, she thought, but still leaned into his touch a heartbeat too long.

His hand left her hair to pull gently on her shoulder. He turned her to face him.

"I will make sure nobody will ever harm you again. I will take your fear away and replace it with something much more desireable." He wet his lips, his eyes now as dark as his coat. "Power." He finally proclaimed, cupping her face with both hands.

Sansa dared not to move because she thought her legs would forsake her. His minty breath clouded her mind. He broke their distance with a chaste kiss on her lips and she lost herself completely in this brief encounter. How could she possible kill Littlefinger without killing Petyr Baelish too? She knew it had to be done, this was what honor demanded, though it was hard for her. Harder than she ever thought.

With Petyr's lips on her, she felt it all at once: the hurt, her fury, the disappointment, the betrayal, the affection, the exitement and so many more feelings which fought within her heart and mind. What was she doing? Why did she invite him? What in the name of the old Gods and the new was happening to her? She wanted to scream at him, to tear him apart, to kiss him again, to hold him, to slap him, yes, even to come undone. All of this frustated her and hurt her because she could not possibly decide what he was to her or what she would do or say right now. But most important of all, she had to hide her knowledge about his betrayal or else...

She rested her forehead against his after leaving his lips. "Show me, Petyr", she whispered.

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She noticed him capturing her beauty in the light of the flames. Her hair was set on fire, her lips slightly parted.

"Sansa", he called out in a low and almost warning tone.

She looked at him again, laying her hand flat on his chest just like weeks ago in the Godswood. Different to then she pressed her lips on his instead of pushing him away.

The sensation of her initiating the kiss took her over, forgotten were the boundaries she set for herself to protect her heart and her soul - or at least what remained of them.

"Show me, Petyr", she repeated after breaking the kiss. "Take care of me."

Petyr looked at her, surprised. She had never seen him so out of place as in this very moment.

He slowly put his arms around her to draw her in. Her hands travelled around his neck and their lips found each other again. This time, Petyr parted her lips with his tounge and gently deepend the kiss. Sansa moaned into his mouth as a response to his touch.

She opened her eyes when she felt him withdrawing from her, his eyes wide with desire.

He then took her hand and led her away from the fireplace back to the desk. His hands gripped her hips and he carefully sat her on top of it, followed by a look of disbelieve out of her eyes.

"What are you doing?", she asked, fear coating her voice.

"I will show you what power feels like. I want to make you feel like the queen you are." His voice was soft but low. He closed the distance by stepping in the space between her legs.

Sansa let out a little cry.

"Shh, don't be afraid, sweetling. I won't continue unless you want me to", he comforted her and cupped her face again. "I will never hurt you."

She studied him for a moment, searching for a lie in his eyes. When she found none, she nodded.

He kissed her again while his hands placed themselves on her thighs, slowly gripping the fabric of her dress and pulling it upwards.

Sansa hissed in his mouth as the cold air hit her skin.

Petyr broke their kiss and looked at her. She bit her lower lip as his fingers carefully travelled up her thigh under her clothes. She felt his fingers on her delicate skin and could not handle the sensation of it.

He stopped for a second, asking for her approval. She looked at him through her lashes, unable to say a word. She bravely nodded but felt all her insides turn at what might await her.

He continued and his fingers found her center. He pressed them lightly to her womanhood. She could feel her wetness soaking through her smallclothes.

The world crashed around her with his touch. His gentle kisses on her neck, his beard tickling her, his hand between her thighs - if she was not lost before, she would be now.

She whimpered under his touch which was too much and not enough at the same time. She pressed herself more into his hand and heard him chuckle against her neck. Sansa had never thought that a man could make her feel this way, let alone get her this wet between her legs. Until this moment she had only known pain and dominance. His dedication however made her body ache for him.

This is wrong, she thought, while his lips nipped at her porcelain skin. I promised myself never to be so vulnerable again. Never to be touched by a man again because they only bring pain and death. Look at me now. The most dangerous man in Westeros who betrayed my family is making me go mad with desire I never knew existed. I will burn in hell for this.

"Sansa" his voice howled as he carefully dipped his slim fingers underneath her smallclothes and between her folds. She let out a loud moan while gripping the edge of the table. She quivered from the sensation of it.

"Be my queen, Sansa", Petyr whispered in her ear. "Let me bend the knee to you."

His fingers left her only to grip her smallclothes and pull them down her legs. He dropped to his knees while doing so before gently spreading her legs with his hands.

"Gods." Sansa looked down at him. It did not take long for her to figure out what he was doing as she suddenly felt his lips on her most private part. His tounge began circling around the bundle of nerves she knew brought a lot of pleasure to women. She nearly screamed his name under his kiss and got hold of his hair to steady herself and press him further against her body. He commented her motions by gently moaning into her which drove Sansa out of her mind even more. She could feel this unbelievably strong heat in herself build up. His skilled tongue was joint by two of his fingers slowling entering her. This was more than she could take. It only took a couple of thrusts to bring her to her peak. Her mind went completely blank as her orgasm hit her hard. She screamed his name, louder than she wanted and her legs trembled under his touch. Sansa breathed heavy, her hands still attached to the edge of the table and his hair, chuckles white.

He slowly withdrew himself from her center, bringing his lips to her mouth. She could taste herself on him and it felt sinful and arousing at the same time. As she came down from her high, still pressed to him, shame and guilt took her over. She had not only let him have her at her most vulnerable, she had also used him for her pleasure.

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His head was pressed into the crook of her neck, a smile on his lips.

"Petyr, I...", she tried to say but was silenced by his sudden look into her eyes.

"You taste devine."

His words made her blush.

"Thank you, I guess." Her voice was nothing but a light whisper, her thoughts going wild in her head. Her hair was disshevelled from their recent activities when he planted a soft kiss to her forehead. He then kneeled down again, his hands gripping her smallclothes to pull them up, fully the gentleman he was.

Sansa stopped him by putting her hands on his shoulders, guiding him up to face her.

He studied her curiously, his smirk in place, his eyes devouring her.

Her body was still enlighted by the gift he made her, the shame of her actions slowly disappeared out of her mind. This was her goodbye, it was all or nothing.

Her hands bravely travelled to the mockingbird pin on his coat. While she took it off and carefully placed it on the desk beside her, he drew in his breath. She never thought she would be like this, never dreamed of unmasking him by such simple gestures.

His heavy coat hit the floor only seconds later. Her hands rested on his chest, her eyes on his lips.

"Sansa...are you sure?" Petyr's voice was out of breath while his body seemed to be frozen.

"Yes."

This was the only encouragement he needed. His hands found the back of her neck, his lips crashed onto hers with passion and gentleness at the same time.

Sansa moaned and dragged him closer, her long legs pulled around his waist. She could feel him through his trousers. This was wrong but felt so right.

She asked herself why he was so different with her. The calcutated Lord Baelish seemed utterly out of place between her thighs. She had always thought he would be demanding and self-centered like all the other boys and men, even worse. She was used to be just a plaything for the men in her life (except Tyrion but this was another matter), a doll to be dragged around and used just like they wished. Petyr was none of it which surprised her. He was lust-driven, but still gentle, kind and caring. He made it impossible for Sansa to even think about all the bad things he had been involved with and possibly was involved even at this very moment. He was Petyr with her, not Littlefinger. At least not now.

Petyr's feverish kisses brought her back to reality. His hands undid the laces at the back of her dress. As his fingers touched the bare skin on her back, she shuddered. Why do all the sinful things feel so tempting? How is it possible that I let him do this after all I have been through? After all he put me trough? What is wrong with me?

He gently pulled the dress over her shoulders and down both of her arms to leave her only with her undergarment. Sansa stood up from the edge of the desk to gracefully step out of her heavy dress and her smallclothes. She then pulled her undergarment over her head in one swift motion and exposed hersef completely. She bit her lower lip as Petyr's hungry eyes devoured each inch of her skin.

"Gods, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen", he mumbled, not daring to touch the goddess with her flaming her in front of him.

She blushed instantly. "I believe you have seen a lot of them over the years."

He smirked, his eyes still fixed on her pale skin.

"I may have but it doesn't matter. You do."

She stepped closer, instantly drawn in by his words. She knew she should not play with fire but he was too good in what he did and she should be damned if he did not owe her.

"I do, you are right. And because of this you should get out of your clothes too. All of them." Her voice was nearly a whisper but her words were spoken with force.

He seemed to think about it for a moment, then undid his tunic and pulled it over his head.

Sansa drew in her breath as he exposed the long scar that she had heard of a couple of times. It was an ugly thing, going from collarbone to navel but still, it suited him in a very attractive way. The rest of his chest was lean and defined, sprinkled with some dark and grey hair.

Petyr looked at her like the boy he once was. Gone was all his self-confidence. His smirk was gone too, replaced by a shy smile, his eyes wandering to the floor. His sudden change of behavior gave her strength and sweet revenge, if whe was honest. She had never seen him this vulnerable and enjoyed it. For a second she felt sorry for him but she shook it off.

She took another step forward and another until she could feel his hot breath on the tip of her nose. Her right hand wandered to the scar on his body. As her fingers touched the flesh, he shuddered and his eyes met hers.

"You do risk everything for what you really want, don't you?", she whispered and traced the scar from top to bottom. Petyr did not answer her.

She licked her lips, empowered by her own boldness, and brought them to the top of his scare. She felt him shiver under her kiss, his hands wandered to the back of her head.

"Don't", he said with little resistence.

Sansa looked up at him before bringing herself face to face with him again.

"It doesn't scare me. We both wear our scars." With that said, she gently kissed him on his lips.

He brought her closer to him, enchanted by her words. He seemed to become more comfortable around her and pressed her flat against his heated body. She wondered if it was because of his arousel or how ashamed he felt for his scar.

Petyr gripped her hips and put her on the edge of the desk again, never leaving her mouth. She moaned when the cold wood hit her warm skin and shivered. Her head was clouded by his touches and the unbelievable feeling between her legs which seemed to return once again.

Her fingers found his breeches and she bravely undid them, not sure whether it was desire which drove her or her curiosity. He panted when her fingers pulled the material down and freed him from the last of his clothes.

For a long moment both stopped kissing while looking at each other. Sansa's hands travelled lazily through his hair, his thumb caressed her hot cheek.

"Is this what you really want?", he asked, his words nothing more than a whisper. She could read him like a book in this moment, he was driven mad by his lust but still made sure she was alright. She could feel his hardened member on her inner thigh. Her answer came surprisingly natural to her when she gently took him into her hand, driving the most primal and low sound out of his throat.

She had never done this before and looked down at her hand in pure disbelieve and desire all the same. It started moving slowly around him. Sansa was not sure what she should do or how it was done properly but her inexperienced fingers seemed to do just the right thing for he closed his eyes and cursed. His hands went into her hair and onto her hip.

"Gods...", he hungrily claimed her mouth and bucked his hips towards her hand. "I can't wait any longer, sweetling. Forgive me my impatience."

He wrapped his hand around hers and guided his member to her entrance. She let go and put her arms around his neck. Despite the cold she could feel delicate beats of sweat form on her skin.

When his tip touched her damp center for the first time, she cursed too. He slowly pushed forward and entered her. Her nails dug into his scalp, her eyes wide. For a second she panicked and stopped breathing. Petyr seemed to notice and stilled within her.

"Breath, sweetling, breath", he encouraged her, his fingers gently caressing her flushed cheeks.

Sansa let out a loud breath which she had been holding in and adjusted herself to the feeling of him inside of her. She looked into his dark green eyes, nodding.

Petyr kissed her while pushing himself into her until he filled her completely. Both moaned and broke their kiss to look at each other.

"Sansa, I...", his voice broke when she kissed him again, deeply.

He slowly began to move within her, back and forth. Back and forth again. She was surprised by how it felt. How he felt. It did not hurt at all. She wrapped her legs around him to bring him closer to her, to intensify the incredible feeling deep inside of her body.

"Petyr...please...", she moaned. Her hands grabbed everything they could find. His shoulders, his hair, his arms.

He seemed to understand her beg and increased the pace. She could only guess that to him she felt as incredible as he felt to her. His smooth hands found her breasts. When his fingers teased her nipples and the his cold rings touched her skin, she threw back her head.

With each thrust he erased one bad memory of what Ramsay did to her. With each thrust she could understand why both women and men enjoyed sex so much. With each thrust her heart beat a bit faster, her breathing became more urgent, her hands dug into his flesh furiously. She could feel that heat again which built up inside of her.

"Don't stop...don't stop...don't..." Sansa lost her voice when he drove himself into her with more force and the air out of her lungs. She did not last long around him. The world came crashing down for her, stars and lights of all forms and colors danced in front of her closed eyelids as Petyr pumped himself in and out of her furiously. His lips found her mouth before nipping at her neck and slightly biting down at her shoulder. She was still too drawn in by her orgasm to even care or wonder if it might leave a mark.

It took only seconds, then Petyr followed her. He screamed her name as he came, his voice low and raw. She had never heard him praise her this way which made her proud and feel complete at the same time. She did this to him. He did this to her. In this moment, when he was still inside of her, still catching his breath, still kissing her from heartbeat to heartbeat, she could have died in his arms. She would have died happily.

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The magical moment was gone in just an eyeblink. The cold, hard reality hit Sansa when Petyr retreaded himself and gave her some space she did not wish for. His eyes still travelled her body, but the loss of contact made her feel all alone again.

Also at a loss for words, she got up and collected her clothes which were scattered nearby on the stone floor. The silence cut in deep between them. She got into her clothes while he did the same, wordlessly still. When she put her heavy dress on and asked herself how she would look like when they left this room, he suddenly stood behind her, his fingers busy with closing her dress. After he was finished, she turned around and looked at him. His eyes were warm, yet she could catch a glimpse of something else. She was not able to name it though. Her fingers found the mockingbird pin on the wooden desk. She carefully took it and fastened his coat with it.

"Thank you." His raw voice filled the silence.

"Thank you too", she replied, letting her lips wander to his. The kiss which followed was full of promises she could never keep. It left her heart broken and she asked herself how she could have been so stupid. This should have been a goodbye but it felt like a beginning coming to an end way too soon and way too violently.

Petyr deepend the kiss, his tounge entering her mouth while his hands wandered into her hair.

It was like he lifted her off the ground and straight into heaven, though she knew she was already in hell, all hopes lost.

They broke the kiss, but their bodies remained interwined with one another.

"Sansa, I..." Petyr was disturbed by a loud knock on the door.

Sansa backed away, suddenly fully aware of what had happened and how it may look for the person outside the door. She smoothed her dress and tried to fix her hair as fast as possible. With red cheeks she called: "Come in."

Petyr smiled at her then and she noticed how his trained mask slipped into place for his eyes seemed colder now.

As soon as Brienne entered, Littlefinger was back.

"My lady, I'm sorry to interrupt. The lords have gathered in the great hall. It's time." Brienne's eyes wandered over to Petyr, her look cold and distant.

"Thank you for letting me know. I will be there in short time", Sansa replied, not sure if her voice gave away what she tried to hide. Her heart pounded heavily in her chest, her face felt aflame.

Brienne eyed her and Sansa realized that she knew. Had she heard them or felt the heated air in the room? It did not matter much. Someday she would explain everything to her.

"Please inform the lords, Brienne", she said and watched her bow and leave. The door remained open.

"I have to go. Will you be at my side when I meet the lords?" Sansa's words felt like coming from another person, yet it was her own voice filling the silence.

"Of course, my lady." He stepped forward and took Sansa's hand into his own. His fingers caressed her knuckles, then he turned her hand and placed a light kiss to the pulse point on her wrist. He smiled but Sansa knew that he did not mean it. Beneath his mask lay something else, though she could not grasp what exactly.

He carefully let go of her hand, bowed deeply and left. Her heart began to ache while she was watching him disappear in the cold corridors of Winterfell.

xxxx

The great hall was crowded with the lords of the North and the guards of Winterfell. Bran was already there, sitting behind the large table in front of the fireplace which brought some warmth into the cold hall. He looked at her with empty eyes and Sansa wished he was the Bran she remembered, the Bran who was full of life and adventure. But he had changed. They all had.

She took her place next to him, her eyes wandered around and spotted Petyr nearby in the shadows. His eyes were fixed on her, his expression unreadable. She still felt him all over her body, though the pain in her heart was stronger than anything else. She should be filled with anger and disgust - and she kind of was - but her conflicted feelings for him got the best of her. Stupid little girl, have you learned anything at all?

"Bring her in", she said after some moments and braced herself with what was to come.

The guards brought in Arya. Her sister's eyes scanned the hall, then she looked at Sansa.

It took her several seconds to collect her thoughts and feelings, the inner struggle made her naucious. Her outter appearance remained stone-cold, just as Petyr had taught her.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Arya's voice was steady, her face seemed unaffected.

"It's not what I want, it's what honor demands", Sansa exclaimed. She began to sweat, her heart pounded relentless in her chest.

"Then get on with it."

She tried to shut her feelings down as best as possible before she started to speak.

"You stand accused of treason. You stand accused of murder. How do you answer these charges...Lord Baelish?" Sansa's eyes as well as those of every person in the room travelled to Petyr. He seemed to be surprised for a brief heartbeat but she knew better. Her heart grew heavy with the sudden truth of it all. He had known. He had known all along, but was still here. You stupid idiot. How could you? Why didn't you leave as long as there had been time? Why are you still here? How could we be so stupid and think you would not figure it all out?

"My lady, I don't think I understand", he replied, his mask in place, stepping out of the shadows in her direction.

"I bet you do, asshole. Now answer my sister," Arya said.

He turned around to briefly look at Arya, then back into Sansa's eyes. She could swear that her anger and grief were written all over her face only readable for him.

"I did what had to be done in order to assure the safety of the North" he said after a while, his face did not give him away.

"Of course you did, Lord Baelish. And I assume you were concerned of the safety of Kings Landing when you betrayed our father. And you surely were concerned about the Vale when you murdered our aunt", Arya spat out in fury.

Sansa remained silent while the accusations dripped out of her sisters mouth. It was true, he did all this and so much more, only to serve himself. She felt the rage boil in her veins, the hatred deep down. But she did not only hate him for his doings, she hated this world. She hated what it made of people. She hated herself for her feelings, for her decisions. She hated everything in this very moment.

"As I said, my lady, I did what I thought best. If this is what makes me guilty, then so be it. But don't be fooled. I bet all of you mighty lords and ladies have their own past. We're all players or pieces in this game of thrones. Whatever role you play, you all are guilty in one way or the other. This is how this world works. If you don't play by your own rules and trust yourself, you are lost."

Petyr's words let the low whispers in the cold hall disappear. Silence fell upon everyone and Sansa shuddered. He was right. She was not innocent as well nor were her siblings or anyone in this cruel world.

"I pleaged myself to House Stark and have the highest respect for the Lady of Winterfell. I will not disappoint the North again", he proclaimed in front of everyone. His spoken words were a weak attempt to show his loyality. He knew there was no mercy for him. Sansa saw the truth of it all in his grey-green pools. She drowned in them and what they really had to say.

I'm sorry, sweetling. For all that you had to go through. I should have known better. But I'm not a good man and I'm not sorry for where it all led me: into your arms and as high as I could climb. The climb is all there is and I nearly reached the top, with you by my side. I gambled and lost. There is only win or lose in this world, no in between. Win all or lose everything. I understand what you have to do and I won't stop you. I won't beg for my life. Looking at you during my last breath is more than I deserve and I will gladly die at your command.

"Yet you betrayed me. Yet you betrayed all of us only for your own gain. We have suffered long enough. It's our time to protect the North and our family and to make justice. That's what you told me, isn't it? There is no justice in this world unless we make it. Kneel down." Her words cut through the cold air, a single tear travelling down her hot cheek. She had to fight down the urge to get up and throw her arms around him for the last time.

I'm sorry too. I believe you but you betrayed us, all of us. The North can't forgive you. My family can't forgive you. I can't forgive you. There is no way for me to rule and share my life with you. Maybe in another world we would have had a chance but we don't live in this world.

"Thank you for your many lessons, Petyr. I will never forget them."

At the sound of his name out of her mouth with everyone to hear, he drew in his breath and gently smiled at her. Only with his eyes. Only for her to see.

He died almost silently when Arya stepped forward and cut his throat in one swift motion. His hands travelled to his deadly wound, trying to hold all the blood in. His eyes never left hers. Petyr Baelish's truth only belonged to her.

Sansa, I love you. I love you. I love you. I...

He dropped to the floor, dead, his blood still flowing. She could not look away. Her body stiffened with the realization of her actions, her heart ached. There was no satisfaction in his death, no relief. Only this all consuming black hole which ate her alive.

I love you too, Petyr. I love you too.

××××

Sansa returned to the hall at midnight when everyone had left and Petyr's cold body had been carried away. Her knees were weak and her eyes flooded with tears as soon as she saw all the blood on the floor. She could still smell his presence, mint mixed with the iron taste of his blood. She could still feel his gentle hands on her body, his lips on her neck. Her stomach began to turn. She had to fight the urge to throw up.

She knelt down where he had stood, tears travelling down her cheeks. Her cries turned into sobs, her sobs into silent prayers. She had stopped praying a long time ago but she felt like she needed to. When she openend her eyes again, she spotted his silver mockingbird pin which was covered in his blood. She picked it up, looking at it through her tears. This was all she had left of him. This and all of his lessons. She had learned a lot from him over the years but he always had been two steps ahead of her. For how long had he known which fate awaited him? Had she given herself away the moment she kissed him? Was it when Arya had returned home? Or when Bran did? Why had he not left after he knew? What had been his plan? Did he want to die? She could not tell and she could not ask him. The uncertainty of it drove her mad. They had been naive the whole time. Nobody had been able to outsmart the master of lies and words. Not even his best student or her brother who now was the Three Eyed Raven.

"You did the right thing."

Sansa turned around and saw Arya who came closer and knelt down beside her.

"I know." Sansa's voice was shaking.

Both sisters silently stared at the floor for a while.

"He loved me. In his own way, but he did. And I kind of loved him too." She looked at Arya, scared of her reaction.

"I know", she replied and took Sansa's hand into hers.

They looked at each other for a long time. Her sister's touch comforted Sansa. The mockingbird pin in her other hand felt hot and cold at the same time, a reminder of what lay behind her and what had to be done in order to assure the future of her family, the future of the North.

I will never forget, she thought. She whiped her tears away and got up. Arya did the same, her hand still interwined with her sister's. Both left the great hall and the ugly pool of blood behind. When the door closed, Sansa put the pin into her pocket, a treasure she would keep for the rest of her life.