Sansa first opened her eyes to the Lannister world of red and gold. Red, the blood still crusted to her lashes. Gold, the hair of her father, in whose arms she was laid.
"Blue eyes," Tywin Lannister commented.
"And hair with a touch of roses," Joanna said, her voice striving for joy.
Sansa blinked. Her father checked her over for defects, cooed just enough to fulfill expectations, and handed his newborn daughter back to the Septa. A second daughter, when his house needed sons. Still, a child was a child—he kissed his wife's brow to thank her for her gift to his household.
Much later, Cersei and Jaime were escorted in, all wild hair and big eyes. Jaime had wanted a brother, and so had Cersei; they looked down in surprise at the infant girl in the lion-headed crib.
"She's tiny," Jaime crowed in wonderment.
Cersei made a face. "What's wrong with her hair?"
"She'll grow out of the red," Joanna promised her twins. "It just makes her special for now."
"Special Sansa," said Jaime, with a bright grin.
Joanna laughed softly, but Cersei frowned and bit her lip.
Sansa merely slept and dreamt of food and sleep, the only concerns of an infant mind. The world was still new and sweet to her, and the reputation of her house had not yet settled on her shoulders. It would. It always did. But not yet.
Unlike his first two children, Tywin's third was unobtrusive. Her hair was gold with a hint of red, her eyes blue, but she didn't make a fuss. Were it not for how she clung to him or Joanna, he would have forgotten Sansa's existence.
Cersei, on the other hand, thought of little else. Her tiny sister, barely able to walk, had displaced her as princess of the household. Septas doted on the tiny girl. Knights gave her toys. Worst of all, Joanna and her ladies marveled over the babe's beauty.
Once it had been Cersei who held every eye. Beautiful as the dawn, they'd called her. Septas had once stroked her hair with awed cooing as they now did with Sansa's soft curls. And the most egregious insult was that Sansa smiled and laughed and patted the hands of everyone who showed her attention, high or low. Far too happy, Cersei decided, with a wrinkle of her nose. Lannisters were proud. Her sister needed lessons.
Jaime lived in a world of his own and caught no inkling of any conflict. Cersei was his eternal companion—and Sansa was baby sister. Sometimes she toddled across the nursery to give him a book, and he'd carefully pick out the words to show her how well he could read. Beyond that, he played with sticks and learned his arithmetic and planned adventures with Cersei. He had a feeling that he was the best big brother that Westeros had ever known.
Sansa, for her part, had no idea of the judgments and expectations laid on her tiny shoulders. She ate and slept and babbled incoherent sounds. They called her Special Sansa sometimes still, with fond amusement, but she didn't understand. She smiled anyway, because the nice people always liked that.
Joanna's white face, cold with death, floated before Tywin's eyes like a spirit. He didn't notice his children when walking past them, didn't hear the confused calls of 'Father?' The grief of a husband wiped all other thoughts from his mind and he left everything else behind.
"He's angry..." Cersei whispered once her father left, chewing her lip. "Maybe it's another girl." Septa Karla had told her that their mother had given birth.
"Would that make him angry?" Jaime asked, brow furrowing. He had always been infected with obliviousness to anything beyond his own world.
Sansa sat in a maid's arms and sucked her thumb, eyes wide with worry.
"Of course!" Cersei declared to her twin. Before she could explain further, however, a heavy-set Septa came with a grave look on her face.
The news was simply said. No flowery euphemisms for the children of Lannister, not even to Sansa as a babe of barely three: Joanna Lannister would now take her place in the crypt alongside her husband's kin.
Like her father, Cersei immediately wanted solitude, grief and rage at the universe threatening to tear her apart. All the resentment for the times when Cersei had felt robbed of her mother's affections by her father and even Sansa—it faded with a stab straight to the heart.
Jaime put his hand on Cersei's arm, wanting to cling to her for comfort. Cersei would want to be alone in her grief, but she would not turn him away. She never did.
"Your brother survived the birth. You should go see him." Lips pressed together, the Septa lifted Sansa from her nursemaid's arms and escorted the three children to the nursery.
A carved crib that had held every child of Lannister for hundreds of years, a fierce lion's head guarding every infant cradled within, now held another tiny bundle.
Cersei refused to draw close. Fingernails dug into Jaime's hand as she gripped it, knuckles white, and she knew it hurt him—but he didn't protest, just laid his cheek against the top of her head.
"Where's mama?" Sansa asked again, lip wibbling, certain this was just a cruel game.
"She's dead," Septa Karla repeated. When Sansa cringed, blue eyes welling up, the Septa made a hushing noise and set the girl down on the floor. It would do no good to encourage her grief, not in this household. "But your brother Tyrion is alive. You should meet him, and I will go fetch a wet nurse. Be strong, children."
She left them alone, then, and in confused sadness Sansa moved to the crib. Tyrion—the name was too big for her to wrap her mouth around, unlike the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. His face was red, wrinkled, mouth twisted and eyes squinted shut. Sansa had never seen a baby before, let alone a brother so small. Hesitantly, she reached out a couple fingers to pat him.
Pain turning to fury, Cersei crossed the room and slapped her sister's hand. "Don't touch him, he killed mother!"
Sansa's eyes overflowed tears from every type of pain. "No he didn't! Septa said she was sick!"
Jaime tried to step between them, but he still felt in shock and his movements were slow.
Cersei had nearly six years on her sister and towered over her, body trembling. "She was sick because of him." Her eyes stung as she declared it. "If it wasn't for him, she'd be alive."
"No..." Sansa could only weep, one hand gripping the cradle like a lifeline. Joanna had let Sansa pat her giant belly until her baby brother patted back, a tiny flutter of movement. He couldn't have killed her. Septa would have said something, and she hadn't.
Cersei wanted to slap Sansa again. Her sister was such a stupid baby and it hurt. Instead of the strike, though, she turned to Jaime and clung to him. Tears came unbidden and she bit her tongue to keep from sobbing. Lannisters didn't show their weakness. Lannisters were proud.
Tyrion woke in his cradle and started to wail, then the Septa returned with a wet nurse at her heels.
"Cece hit me," Sansa said in a wobbly voice.
Jaime grimaced, caught in the middle and not sure where his loyalties should lie.
"I was right, though," Cersei snapped at her sister. "That's why Father wouldn't even look at him." Before she could be chided again, eldest daughter of Lannister dragged Jaime with her and ran from the room, an empty ache starting to throb where her heart should have been. Her mother was dead.
Outside, clouds drew in and a gentle rain began to fall, mingling with the sound of Sansa's weeping. Once her eyes became red and her nose runny, Septa Karla shushed her and wiped her nose and informed her that she would end up looking like her new brother. Sansa nodded obediently, then demanded to see Tyrion again. She said please, but it was a demand nonetheless. Almost she had demanded their mother, but she knew what 'death' meant and wouldn't ask for impossible things. Septa Karla sighed, but let the girl sit on the nurse's lap while Tyrion was fed.
"Brother," Sansa whispered, lip still wibbling. Smaller than she expected, he was almost appealing when he wasn't flailing, in a baby kind of way. As the last thing mother had with her, that made Sansa feel like he was special. Special Tyrion.
Her tears began falling again as if they would never stop, and mother wasn't there with a handkerchief at hand.
By the time Sansa lost the uncoordinated limbs of youth upon reaching an elderly six years of age, Cersei had outpaced her in everything. A willowy twelve-year-old, she and Jaime whirled around the dance floor during their lessons and charmed the world. Sansa told herself that she would be that soon enough; her heart longed for a pretty gown.
She was too little for dancing, however, and furthermore did not want to join her sister. Their Septa had hoped that childish rivalries would fade along with the red in Sansa's hair. Yet she now sported naught but Lannister gold, and yet two sisters could not be more divided. With Cersei went Jaime, as had been since birth, and with Sansa went Tyrion since no one else would have him.
The youngest Lannister had fussed excessively from birth, constantly making a mess, yet Sansa had latched onto him. Cersei scorned her for it, and even beloved Jaime thought she should have a puppy instead. Stalwart, Sansa clung to the bit of family that loved her like Mother had. Tyrion's mismatched eyes were disconcerting, yet he never gave her an empty or angry look.
Grief had faded over a matter of months. The Lannisters moved on and recovered their strength. Yet something still lingered, and so she never confessed any confidence except to Tyrion.
"Wait for me!"
On short, twisted legs, Tyrion could barely walk even at three years' old. He saw Sansa grimace, but she waited patiently all the same. "I'm going on a long walk," she informed him. "You needn't come if you can't make it."
"I can," her brother said stoutly. "I can walk as well as you."
"No, you can't," Sansa replied.
Tyrion made a face. He'd known it was a lie before he said it, but instead of admitting that he gave her a push. "Just go slow enough for me."
Since Cersei and Jaime made themselves the lord and lady of the Tower of the Hand, though of course in play while Father was still alive, Sansa had claimed the yard and the outdoors long ago. A defensive move, but she had yet to give it up. The grounds were well-kept, usually green and sunny and full of flowering plants. Sansa liked pretty things, especially when they did not come with her sister's teasing.
"What are you doing?" Tyrion hobbled at her side as hastily as he could. Half her age, he was also half her height. A dwarf, everyone said—but never in front of him.
"Walking," Sansa replied.
"You know what I meant," he protested, annoyed.
A bit of a cheeky smile touched her lips. "Yes, but I don't have to tell you. You'll see."
They walked past the gardens out to the meadow. Yellow-green grass dotted with wildflowers swished at the hem of Sansa's skirts, and looked like it might consume Tyrion. With deliberate dogged steps, however, he followed her.
As far as he knew, Sansa was the only sister he had. Once, when a Septa had explained what bastards were, he'd asked if that was what he and Sansa were. Quite a logical question, he still maintained. Shocked, the woman had dissuaded him most soundly. Yet she had not explained why his father and other siblings ignored them, when not required to do otherwise. He'd not asked further, but still wondered.
Sansa climbed up a large rock and turned to hold Tyrion's hand as she did so. Getting her skirts messy made Sansa cringe, but she was careful and did not fall. Once on top of the large boulder, she pointed north. "Look."
"Mountains?" Tyrion scratched his head.
"No, beyond the mountains." A breeze caught Sansa's golden hair, carrying it like a banner behind her. "The North. I'm going to go there someday."
"Septa Karla says it's full of monsters," Tyrion offered. "Like direwolves."
"If that was true then people wouldn't live there," Sansa pointed out, and shook her head. "I want to see real snow, and not have Cersei there to throw it in my hair."
Tyrion made a little noise. Last winter he'd fallen in a low drift and felt like he was going to drown. But maybe Sansa would keep him upright. "Father will hate it..."
Sansa didn't look at him. "I know."
He took a couple hesitant steps to stand with her, facing the breeze from the far North. "I want to come with you."
It was wrong to feel happy about a war, Sansa told herself. Robert's Rebellion, they were all calling it, but she secretly called it the War That Married Cersei Off. Jaime was part of the Kingsguard too, so that left her and Tyrion as the only children in the Tower of the Hand.
At ten years' old, Sansa thought she made a very fine lady of the castle. Her hair was not as long as Cersei's yet, but it fell past her hips in golden waves that had amber hues in direct sunlight. She had been hopeless at numbers, but Cersei's teasing pushed her to learn them better and now she was quite decent. Everyone double-checked her figures regardless, but at least they found only a handful of errors.
When Tyrion wasn't dragging her into trouble with the servants, making her giggle her apologies, she was quite good with the people as well. Willful, even if she'd learned to hold most of her passions in check. The Septas treated her as a daughter, which she accepted as long as they treated Tyrion like a son. The more Cersei and Father disapproved of her brother, the harder she fought for him. "A proper little lion," Septa Karla would say proudly—if Sansa had done all her sums and needlework and hadn't helped Tyrion drop pebbles on her head that morning.
Tyrion held the opinion that Sansa was better than most everyone. So why she put that talent to being ladylike, he couldn't understand. There was no point in trying to please people; they either approved of you or they didn't, and your actions had nothing to do with it. Sansa said that was wrong, but only half-heartedly. Every time Father scolded him over-much, every time Cersei said something cruel, every time he'd overheard a commoner call him the bane of their mother, Tyrion had run straight into Sansa's arms. Or as straight as his legs would allow. She, who had been the only one to hold him from the cradle, would stroke his hair and tell him that it would be alright. Granted, sometimes she also told him that he'd deserved a little of it. She judged the entire world, his sister Sansa. But loved him, always loved, in a way that made him feel like they made their own little family amongst the Lannisters.
Jaime had once tried to bridge the gap. He was never as harsh as Cersei about anything, and had been rather fond of Sansa, at least when she'd been small. Before Tyrion was two years old, however, Cersei had informed him in no small words that Sansa and Tyrion were cruel and jealous and that was the end of it. Jaime loved his sister, and knew well enough that what she meant was: You must choose me, or them. It is time to pick sides. He'd chosen Cersei, and refused to feel regret.
Tywin, on the other hand, seemed not to care. His eldest daughter had become a queen. Jaime he'd disowned, and the other two were of no consequence. They were happy to remain so.
"I think I should be a mummer," Tyrion announced, finally achieving a perfect somersault across the table.
"Father wouldn't let you." Sansa tapped her lip with the tip of her quill, then added another curlicue to her drawing.
"I don't need his permission. He doesn't have me on puppet strings." Tyrion tried the roll again, and grinned when he repeated the action with near perfection.
"He'd just send all the mummers away forever," Sansa sighed. "Like he did with the pony."
Sansa had been eight, then. Tyrion had pleaded for days and days to ride her pony, and when she agreed to let him sit in front of her, they'd galloped through the yard. Sansa's hair had come undone, but Tyrion's chortles of glee had made her laugh.
Then Tyrion fell off into a pile of hay, and everything had been ruined. He hadn't been hurt, but Tywin came in a temper. Tyrion's well-being didn't even make it into his rant, Sansa noted, but only the fact that they were Lannisters and should be dignified. It was something he had not said to Jaime and Cersei when they cavorted around the castle.
Sansa had bit her lip to keep it from wibbling—she hated people being angry at her—but once Tywin was gone and had taken the pony away, she decided that she too could be mad.
"He takes away all our fun," Tyrion grumbled, as if he could read her thoughts.
"Well, once you are fifteen and a man, then you can do what you like," Sansa said with firm optimism.
Tyrion sat on the edge of the table. "But you'll be married by then, and will probably have a son."
Sansa smiled a little. "I hope so. But if I do, you'll just have to come visit my lord husband. He wouldn't turn away a Lord of Lannister, no matter who he is."
"You mean the Imp of Lannister," Tyrion mumbled.
His sister looked at him, blue eyes clear as summer sun. "But you are an Imp. Would you rather people lie to you?"
Tyrion considered his twisted limbs and squashed face, and his bag of a thousand tricks. The sullen look vanished. "No. No, I like the truth."
"Me too." Sansa smiled a bit. "That's why I like you."
"It's why we're a team," Tyrion corrected, confident in his seven manly years. He reached up to muss her hair and she squealed.
When she was in Jaime's arms, Cersei could forget that the Baratheon banner flew over King's Landing. The world had a sweet sense of rightness to it, here. This realm was theirs. She could forget Robert and his bitter drunken advances, and imagine that she and Jaime ruled.
Every time her father and siblings stopped by the Keep, they shattered that fantasy.
Her youngest brother ruined the regal reputation of their family, and her sister...well, she did as she always did. Cersei relished being the only Lannister of note in the city, the only one gossiped about. As soon as Sansa made an appearance at the palace, however, the gossip changed from envying Robert to wondering who would be Sansa's Robert. Cersei—married and not yet with child—was invisible once again.
It hurt, and more so because Sansa seemed oblivious. She stole everyone's love and didn't even gloat.
"Your sister's blossoming," Robert announced over breakfast, once Sansa and Tyrion excused themselves.
"Yes, why don't you find a match for her?" Cersei cut her morning trout with an angry stroke of her knife. "Don't you have brothers?"
Robert snorted. "Stannis refuses my advice and Renly's a boy."
"Betroth them now, save the trouble later." Maybe then the commonfolk would ignore Sansa as well. What was a woman to the people if she was neither a free maid nor a mother of sons? Or a whore, but Cersei was not so cruel as to wish that on family.
Robert ignored her as always, but her father cocked his head. That was all she needed to succeed.
A few days later, she was rid of them all. Robert and Tywin went on a hunt, and as soon as they were gone Cersei ordered the nursemaids to have the children play together. Renly was just like his brother, so Cersei had been told. She could only hope he'd cause Sansa as much grief as Robert had caused her.
"Look at me!" Renly cried, darting through the halls with his makeshift red cape flying behind him.
"Not so fast!" Tyrion's call was a whine as he walked beside Sansa.
He was not any happier than his eldest sister about his presence in King's Landing. Despite never going anywhere without Sansa, people still looked past her beauty to see him. They'd point, giggle—and worse, look pityingly at him. Whenever Sansa went to town, he'd excuse himself to go read. Sadly, that was not an option in this situation.
"He doesn't listen to you," Sansa pointed out, keeping her paces slow so as not to tire her brother. "His Grace says he doesn't listen to anyone."
Though only just barely eight, Tyrion had already mastered the art of the throaty grumble. He glared after the other small boy, all black hair and blue eyes, who ran on sprightly legs without a care in the world. His own would ache if he even tried a run. "Why can't we go to the stables? Renly Barathe-brat can play with imaginary friends or something."
"Tyrion!" Though horrified, Sansa's protest sounded like half a laugh. Her propriety had limits, he'd seen to that. "We're supposed to keep him company, and you're supposed to play with him."
"I can't," Tyrion muttered, arms crossed over his chest. "I'm a dwarf."
"Now you just sound like Father," his sister replied, a smooth swift jab that went straight through his glower.
He glared at her. "Well I am!"
"That didn't stop you from making Septa Karla's life a mess with your games," Sansa said with an eyeroll.
Tyrion grinned. "Well maybe..."
Renly, apparently bored, ran back to them. "Let's play a game!" he announced brightly. Though an orphan of only five years, he had all the freshness of innocent youth. Sansa found it endearing, and Tyrion envied it. "I'm the dreaded troll-killer with my magic cape and shining sword. Sansa can be the beautiful maiden!"
"And what am I, your sidekick?" Tyrion grumped.
"You're the troll," Renly announced decidedly, and grinned.
"Hey!" Growling, Tyrion made to hit the other boy.
Despite Sansa's valiant attempt to reach for his arm, the boys ended up in a heap of flailing limbs. Renly had more energy—and dexterity—than the older boy on top of him, and before long was straddling Tyrion's waist and giggling hysterically as he pounded his chest. For his part, Tyrion had gone beet red.
"Boys," Sansa declared loudly, and walked past them.
"Your beautiful maiden doesn't like you," Tyrion said smugly.
"I don't care," Renly said, even as he got off Tyrion and adjusted his cape. "I don't need a beautiful maiden. And I don't want one."
"Good, 'cause Sansa's mine." Tyrion gave the Baratheon boy a little shove, but nothing too provocative, and hurried after his sister.
"Wait for me," Renly called desperately after them, taking a moment to polish his wooden sword before darting off.
As soon as he was at her side, Sansa ruffled Tyrion's hair. "Stupid. I thought you were better than that. You know they don't stop no matter how hard you hit them."
"I know," Tyrion mumbled. Then, changing the subject, "Can I ride on your back and then we can run to the stables? Renly couldn't keep up, then."
Sansa glanced back at their companion, who had paused to pick a couple daisies. "We're not supposed to..."
"He was mean."
"Well you do look the most troll-like of us," Sansa had to admit, for truth's sake. "And he probably said it on purpose just to make you upset—"
"And ladies don't carry their brothers around," Tyrion finished for her, and sighed.
Sansa bit her lip, and glanced to Tyrion. Her eyes, that had never turned green like her siblings', flashed. "I'm not a lady, I'm a Lannister. Renly was mean to you, and a Lannister always pays their debts."
Tyrion grinned, and soon he was whooping aloud as Sansa ran to the stables with him on her back. Renly wailed his protest, but wasn't fast enough to catch up. There was one good thing about being a Lannister, after all.
Tyrion's grin always looked less like a grimace when it was genuine, Sansa thought. Her brother would never be handsome like Jaime, but then again he would never be a Kingslayer. "Tyrion, I almost poked my thumb with a needle..."
"Never mind your needlework." Tyrion grabbed her hands and pulled her up, spinning her around in half a circle. For a boy—almost a man—who could not quite grasp dancing, he managed not to stumble now. "I've a secret to tell you."
Sansa eyed him suspiciously. "Do I want to know?"
"You always expect the worst of me," he said, affecting a pout, and then the grin returned. "Do you remember that girl in the woods, the one being chased by rapers?"
She frowned and nodded. "Why do you look so happy? They could have killed us."
The day had been fine, the sunlight dappling the forest green, when the half-clothed girl had crashed through the brush ahead of their horses. Sansa's horse had started, and then a man had grabbed her bridle. "Two for the price of one," he'd hissed, with darkness in his eyes.
But Tyrion, though only thirteen and strapped into a custom saddle, had then whipped out a blade and charged right at the man, crying "Lannister!" Apparently that was enough to fool the men into thinking he was Jaime. Sansa gave a cry, and so did the girl huddling by a tree—the men rushed off as if the devil was on their heels, and that was that.
"You saved me," Sansa and the girl had said at once, eyes on Tyrion where he sat, breathing hard despite not having had to fight. Sansa's voice was full of surprise and affection, the other girl's full of fierce gratitude.
The day was a few weeks passed, though, and Sansa didn't like to be reminded of how the man had looked at her, like a piece of meat.
"Not that day, the girl!" Tyrion had a giddy look about his face. "Tysha, the crofter's daughter."
Sansa shook her head. "You're not making any sense yet, Tyrion."
"I married her!"
Caught off guard, Sansa found herself gaping like a fish. Since his birth Tyrion had been so small, so young; she'd guarded him, but never given thought to his future. As far as Sansa knew, he would always be no more than her little brother, her favorite companion. Though small, in this moment he looked like a man, proud and full of joy. His face was young and bright, if misshapen, but he knew the meaning of the words he spoke.
And what words they were... "You can't!" Sansa said, at a loss for other words.
"But I did," Tyrion declared again, giving her hands a squeeze. "We have a cabin in the woods and I sneak out to visit her at nights. She loves me, Sansa, and I love her."
Again, Sansa failed to find words, mouth opening and closing twice before she tugged her hands from his. "You can't, Tyrion! You're a Lannister, you must marry high-born."
"As if one would ever care to have me," Tyrion scoffed, though there was true bitterness there even as he shrugged the notion off. He could see, however, that Sansa was truly struck aback. "Aren't you happy for me, though?"
Looking as though her world had turned upside down, Sansa shook her head. "Oh little brother..."
Those words made his stomach twist. "I thought you at least—"
"You don't know what you're doing!" she snapped, before he could finish. "Father isn't a fool, he'll find out. This will be an insult on his honor, and since you're his son he'll take it out on her—on Tysha." Sansa gripped his hand, looking down to meet his eyes. "Don't you know him at all?"
Tyrion swallowed hard, and wanted to yell back at her. He was a man, would inherit Casterley Rock someday, he wasn't just a prop to be wed off as Lord Tywin chose. Sansa had always cared too much about rules and making sure they were followed. A true Lannister would—well, merely pretend to follow them. He was about to snap back with scorn and disappointment when he caught the look of fear in her eyes.
Sansa might fuss, and she might poke and prod at him and be an annoying wet blanket, but she did love him. Blindness to his love for Tysha was not the cause of her objection—all she wanted was to keep him from harm. Tywin, they both knew too well, could tear his children's lives apart without remorse.
Anger left him, and despair remained. "But I love her..."
Such simple words and they made Sansa pause. No one had told Sansa love stories as a child, certainly not Septa Karla. Jaime and Cersei had heard a few, to be sure. Not the younger two. That would have made them, already Tywin's least favorites, even more of an object of scorn. No sentimentality for Lannisters. Naught but power, wealth, and practicality. And justice, of a kind. That was what Tywin would be looking for, and that was what Septa Karla taught her youngest charges. While Cersei was dreaming of a golden future with Rhaegar or Jaime, Sansa was wanting a family. Karla knew the child's needs, and trained her in everything necessary to be a proper lady. The sooner she was married and could forge a family of her own, the happier she would be.
Tyrion, though, was ever more a child of passion. Now, with the rawness of it writ across his face as vibrant as stained glass, she wondered. What was her father to take away something that could make Tyrion so happy?
Sansa was a serious girl of sixteen, and her brow furrowed as Tyrion stood and waited for he knew not what. She was his sister—perhaps he merely hoped for approval.
"Father knows he can't force you to unmarry her," she finally said, "but he can force her away. Or worse. You know he cares too much for the family honor."
"Then he must never find out," Tyrion swore, hand clenching into a fist. Tysha was his wife. He would protect her as he did the day she ran disheveled from the forest.
Sansa shook her head. "Don't be stupid, you can't hide her forever. The only way is for you both to leave his range of sight. You can't go back to Casterley Rock...but maybe Storm's End."
It was Tyrion's turn to furrow his brow. "The Baratheon seat?"
Sansa tucked a golden curl behind one ear. "I'm to marry Renly Baratheon in two years. Father made the betrothal only a few days ago."
His jaw dropped. "Renly?" he blurted out. "That little twat?"
She gave him a scolding look.
"Sansa, how could you agree to that? He calls me a troll!"
"Once, when he was five." Sansa crossed her arms over her chest. "Are you a man or a baby, Tyrion?"
"Do you love him?" Tyrion demanded.
A queer look passed over Sansa's face, but she merely shook her head in the end. "He's my lord, though, or will be when he is of age. And he can dance well, and speak well. That's all..." She swallowed. "That's all I ask of a husband. I think we'll be happy." Then she took his hand, and smiled, like a bit of sunshine come to earth. "You will be too, Tyrion. You can come live with us, you and Tysha. Renly is no more fond of Father than we are, he'll keep your secret. I'm sure he will."
He couldn't help a grimace, however. "It's not a horrible plan..."
Sansa laughed like a bird. "No, it's not, silly brother." She touched his cheek. "As long as I have you, I'll have family. No Cersei, no Jaime, no father. It'll be an adventure."
He pondered that for a moment, weighing it. Tyrion cared too much, Sansa noted as she had so many times, but she couldn't condemn him for it. Finally he said, "What about our plan to go North?"
The North. Cold, freedom, and a strange deep-seated honor that roused her curiosity. Sansa's thoughts flew up there immediately, and she breathed out, "Maybe we can go there still, someday. Renly seems like he'd like an adventure, don't you think?"
Her brother grumbled. "It was our adventure."
Sansa shrugged. "As long as we get there somehow."
"Will you let me throw a snowball at your lord husband?"
She tried very hard to bite back a smirk in answer to his. "I suppose..."
Then suddenly his arms were around her, stunted but not weak. "Thank you, Sansa." It was not for the permission to throw snowballs.
"I love you, brother," she said, embracing him back. Her twisted impish dwarf of a brother, who was yet the cleverest and kindest man she knew. What kind of life would she have had without him? "We're the black sheep of the Lannisters, aren't we."
Tyrion pulled back, gave a half grin. "Black lions, sister."
She nodded, and clasped his hand. Whatever life held for them, alone in the world but for each other—and perhaps Renly and Tysha—she knew one thing for certain and said it with a bit of a smile. "And we'll make sure they hear us roar."