When the Red Lady shows up in his chamber, shortly after he sends Sam off with all the royal blood that he is aware of existing at Castle Black, Jon cannot help being terrified. He has heard the rumors about what really happened to Renly. He's frustrated her plans, and he knows it was the right thing to do, but he still isn't eager to die. Being made commander has put him right into the sort of power struggles that his bastard birth has always shielded him from. Now he is a target, just like his father, just like Robb. Wielding power means having something that others covet, and therefore wish to take away from you. A wise man, therefore, avoids such trophies. Jon knows all this, but he is also the son of Eddard Stark, bastard or not, and that means that the first thing he learned was duty and responsibility before all else. The mere fact that these things got his father killed does not negate the understanding that burdens must be shouldered, because it is right and honorable, and not because it is a boon to one's own fortune. So Jon cannot shrink away from his responsibility, even if it makes him hatred or envied. He likes to think that he is more reasonable in his standards; Ned's convictions came from ideals not practicality, but sometimes the distinction becomes irrelevant. The Red Lady had to be stopped, so Jon stopped her, and now he must face the consequences of his actions.
She is beautiful, Melisandre. Her beauty is the dangerous kind, both fortified by her power and enhancing the very power that feeds it. She has the conviction of one who truly believes in her cause so fervently that all obstacles seem evil regardless of their nature. Her actions are possibly less self interested than his, in fact, and thus concern for her own welfare cannot be used against her like it can with the average person. He does not doubt she'd slit her own throat, for his Lord of Light that she worships. She is truly the most terrifying creature he has ever encountered, including the Others. Where they are vacant she is overflowing, where they are freezing she burns, and Jon is a man of the North. The winter is coming, but it is no surprise. He steels himself, holding his breath for a moment, as she saunters into his room. It does not surprise him that she is here in theory, but the experience of it does.
"You have taken something from me, Lord Snow," She seems to glide forward effortlessly, and Jon wishes that there was a little more distance between them.
"They aren't Things, Melisandre. They are people, just like you and me."
Her abundant hair is free and she resembles a courtesan more than a priestess. The effect is intensified by the fact that she looks as though she is going to laugh. "Do you really see me as a person, like yourself, like your pathetic little protected souls? Do you think that you are the same as them?"
Her meaning is very clear. She is accusing him of believing himself to be superhuman, above others, because he believes his own conviction correct and that he is qualified to make decisions instead of others. He chooses to answer the other part of the question instead, for this reason. It is true that he thinks of her as something unnatural, but he will never give her the satisfaction of his awe and wonder.
"Sometimes it is hard to believe, but I know there has to be a woman there, under all the madness and zealotry."
She tosses him the seductive glance of a cheap whore and he knows she is still laughing at him. "A woman, and you are a man, Jon Snow… just like any other?" Every time she says his name is it like she is referencing the most hilarious joke in all the Seven Kingdoms.
"I hardly think you came here to discuss ethics." This conversation is doing nothing to calm his nerves. "Short of undoing what is done and over, what is it you want from me?"
"You are going to make it up to me, Jaehaerys."
She is close now, so close he can feel the heat radiating off of her body. She places her hand on his chest and it burns.
"It's Jon, and how is it that I would do that, if I wished to… which I do not."
Melisandre smiled, but it was the opposite of reassuring.
"You are going to give me a child of royal blood for the sacrifice…"
"Even if I knew where to find one, why would I do such a thing?"
He should grab his sword, should run her through and break her spell over Stannis, but then he might not have any sort of army to help him, and then the people who killed his family would win. He's a man of the Night's Watch and his old ties are not his own any more but it still rankles. Besides, if the rumors are at all accurate, he would only manage to die horribly in trying to destroy her, like Stannis' maester.
"You aren't going to find one; we are going to make one."
Her hands are at his clothes, he feels his body betray him even as realization hits and he falls back into his furs. Melisandre looks triumphant as she hikes her skirt up and crawls on top of him. He wants to push her away, wants to refuse to do her evil bidding and be complicit in her sick rituals, but instead he lays there, a plaything for the insane beauty and all her sick schemes.
It must be witchcraft that makes him comply; because even as he arches his body and gasps into her; he is praying for a way to defeat her.
The time for the wedding is drawing ever closer. Harrold arrived a few days ago, handsome and young as promised. His eyes follow her wherever she goes, with the look of a wildcat, hunting its prey. Alayne declares that she is overwhelmed by his attentiveness. Petyr says they must have the marriage take place quickly, before Robert dies. Robert is sicklier than usual now; he will not be able to attend. He is right; Alayne must be married to Harrold before he inherits. It would not do for a bastard daughter, no matter how noble her parentage might be, to marry the Lord of the Vale. They cannot reveal Sansa's identity to the world, with the Lannisters still on the Iron Throne and hungry for her head. She has heard rumors, rumors about her bastard brother Jon, and if they are true she is not the only one who is shielded through the name of a natural born child. She has grown accustomed to it, accustomed to the difference of how people look at her. She is fortunate that his Lordship has arranged this marriage, which will protect her from her current nameless state. She is indebted to him for many things. Her life would long ago have ended without his attentive care.
Here he is, checking in on her as she finishes readying herself for her nuptials. Petyr presses a kiss to her forehead as she rises to embrace him as father. He looks at her, like she's still a Lady. He knows she is more than a Stone of the Vale. It makes her feel stronger.
"Harrold has no idea what a flower he is receiving," Petyr declares.
Sansa blushes prettily.
"I cannot complain, my lord has shown me every attention; which he doesn't need to do considering the status he has been told I was born into."
"You really have no idea what a gift you would be, even without all the status of your birth, my dear."
He says things like this often. She is aware that he means something particularly. It is not something a lady should think of though, so she pries no further. To be truly dignified is to be elegant of thought as well as action.
Petyr is still watching her, she does not mind though. She will miss the quiet times when the petty lords are gone and they spend simple evenings together. This man is the one person in the world she can count as friend or protector.
"Are you well?" He looks concerned and Sansa realizes that he cheeks are wet.
"Quite. I am merely overcome by the thought of our being separated. You have always been so good to me."
Petyr wipes her tears from her face, "I will always be here, dearest. Neither of us is going anywhere far away."
He looks as though he wishes to say something more. One of the servants chooses this moment to say that Harrold is here and they must start immediately.
Petyr pulls her close and kisses her the way that he does sometimes, when it's been a long day and there is no one about. He is warm and reassuring and Sansa lets herself melt into his arms for a brief moment before he pulls abruptly away and heads down to the celebration.
Sansa follows. Harrold is waiting and it is not a large task to repeat the words and navigate through the evening, answering everyone's questions politely. It is not unlike many other evenings, where Alayne sat beside her father and played hostess. Harrold keeps reaching for another glass of wine and when he is not looking she waters it down. She is now bound to this man and part of her duty is to keep him from embarrassment or misstep. It is easy, as if she has already been playing the part of his wife for a long while.
It is not long before Sansa finds herself being undressed by a legion of maids, despite her protests that she can do well enough by herself. Naked while she waits; Sansa recalls the misery of her first marriage and the subsequent relief. She has never felt more vulnerable. She can hear Harrold's heavy boots on the stair and she shivers, although it is not particularly cold.
He is tall and strong, even in his cups, and Sansa tries to fight her body's shaking as he sheds his wedding garb and crawls into the marriage bed.
"Gods how these last few days have dragged," Harrold proclaims as he looks at her exposed flesh, surveying as though not sure what to have first, "I've been itching to have you since I got here."
She does not know what to say, but he seems not to need a response as his mouth latches onto her skin, leaving angry red blotches where ever it goes. His face is rough, so unlike Petyr's as he kissed her earlier.
The exploration does not last long; within a few minutes, Harrold is pulling her legs apart. This is not something that virtuous maidens talk about, or even think of. Sansa tries to go over dinner arrangements and family trees, as it feels like her insides are being torn apart. She does not cry or even wince. She will be a good wife.
Harrold's hands are rough at her breasts as he works himself towards satisfaction. There will be finger marks there tomorrow. He is done before long though and rolls over to sleep.
Sansa lies awake for a long time, thighs sticky, body aching, and stares at he husband's back. How different he is from Petyr's small dark form, broad where Petyr is lithe, careless where Petyr is precise. She thinks of Petyr, down the corridor, and wonders things she blushes to think of.
Melisandre is sure that he knows she is coming, and this makes her knowledge that he cannot and will not do anything to stop it all the more potent. No one can stand against her, imbrued as she is with the power of Light. She is a living torch of truth. Her feet melt the snow and ice beneath her as she walks. He is filled with rage and wounded pride; she can feel it pulsing through the walls. That is fine. It's a power that will make the child grow stronger, fire to course up inside of her. Hatred is a fire that will bring to life the long slumbering beasts needed for victory. His resistance is an obstacle but not insurmountable. Faith, faith conquers all. She is purified by the holy light and none can stop what has been so sanctified.
His back is turned when she enters and she waits for him to turn around, wants to see the look of powerlessness on his face when he sees that she has indeed come, and he cannot stop her. He does not turn though, and she begins to think he is ignoring her so that she cannot see his reaction, like he knows.
"Strip," he commands without turning. His voice is hard, and it sends shivers down her spine. He's changing the terms and the challenge issued therein excites her.
She starts to undress; she knows her movements are graceful and her form divine, and it irritates her that he is not even watching. Power, it is all about power and she knows she has the final say, the last laugh, but the little bumps in her way are fire starting, get her blood pumping faster.
At last he turns, runs his hand across her bare skin, lazily pinching one of her nipples before trailing his fingers down.
"You really want this, don't you?" a single finger presses up inside, coming away glistening, and leaving her thighs shaking in anticipation, "You are just dying to be fucked like the hypocritical little whore you really are."
He steps back, and her body aches; the raw power of his anger and disgust go straight to her core.
"Earn it, then. Make it worth my while," he almost growls and she thinks of the direwolf crouching in the corner that could tear her throat out in an instant.
She shudders as he shoves her roughly down onto her knees unlacing his breeches and pulling her by the hair towards him. She gets the hint, opens her mouth and shows Jon just how pleasing she can be. She'd started this wanting the end result, but suddenly it's a pleasure all on its own, a tactile echo of the faint sense of being taken over by a power greater than herself that she feels at all times. Jon is not her God; he is too weak to even stop her, but the conditions he has changed and she's quivering in reaction. It's reminiscent of her original spiritual awakening, and how she felt more alive than she'd ever thought possible before.
When he finally presses her to the cold stone floor and slams into her forcefully, Melisandre is beyond aroused, she's moaning like the whore he's called her as he holds her down and uses her every bit as much as she's been planning on using him. There will be dark bruises from this, bruises everyone will be afraid to ask about but she will know are a reminder that he is not as helpless as she's tempted him to believe.
He stands up directly afterwards, putting his clothes back in place, and turns his back to her once more, like she doesn't exist. She knows that all of this is what she has wrought for the True Purpose, but it feels like he is in charge and it is a deliciously addictive feeling, something that she can touch and see and fight and yet give in to.
He, too, is a child of prophecy, though he doesn't know it yet. This power is something that comes unknown to him, a strength he does not guess the source of. It is probably best; if he did, he would want use it for righteousness sake, and he is too unenlightened to understand the truth of things. They will fight in the end, on opposite sides. But it is more important that the opportunity of that right exists, than that she stack the deck for it when doing so may prevent its happening.
Her thoughts are traitorous, they show to be her unclean. She went to Jon to do the Lord's work and yet what she accomplished there is carnal in a way it was not to have been. Her body is for the Cause. It is not for her personal enjoyment and so she has misused what was anointed. She has desecrated the temple she dedicated to R'hllor. The ice burns her toes and she struggles to make her way back to her chambers. She is smoldering; her guilt seems to be written in letters ten measures high.
It takes longer than usual to light a fire when she arrives. It as if the very branches are trying to send her a message of disapproval, but she overcomes their resistance. She must be purified; it cannot do to be so defiled by her own failure to adhere. Her hands go first as she sinks her arms father and farther into the flames.
Let me have absolution. I went into temptation in Your Name, for Your Glory.
She can feel her cheeks burning, and yet there is no scent of charred skin or hair. The familiar touch of divine power is strong and heady, as she steps completely into the flames to be born anew, once more.
Sansa does not hear him enter as she is instructing the cook on how dinner is to be prepared. Petyr smiles to hear her, every inch lady of the house. She would be as regal on a throne or in the smallest hamlet. He likes to think he had quite a bit to do with her blossoming into this power, but he knows that it is also a gift of her blood. Her mother was always so very charming. However, Petyr remarks to himself; Catelyn never used her grace as deliberately as her daughter now does, and that is his doing. He looks at her and sees not an inch of the dour Starks. She is every inch of Catelyn's beauty and grace, combined with his resourcefulness.
Harrold is out hunting. Harrold spends at least a few days per week hunting. Petyr does not doubt that Sansa knows exactly where her husband is, but she seems not to be the slightest bit perturbed. As long as he is discreet, she does not care if he should father a dozen bastards. Petyr enjoys watching her in her element of command. She has chosen a deep blue dress that suits her coloring perfectly, without seeming ostentatious and the servants show no signs of remembering that she might be anything but their mistress. Petyr notices that there is no trace of her husband's indiscretions within the keep. He is not sure whether the two have come to some sort of agreement, or whether Sansa merely watches closely and gets rid of any girl who dares to be a threat. Either way he approves. It does not do to let the help question one's supremacy.
Petyr approaches only after she has dismissed the cook. A smile spreads over her lovely face as she sees him. He'd imagined her mother giving him that smile a thousand times, but the reality of her bestowing it is indeed as sweet as any fancy.
"Father!" She says; there are appearances to keep up.
"How is my pride and joy?" he asks, taking her arm.
She tells him trivial details until they are safely out of hearing. He could not admire her more than he does now. Gone is the frightened little bird he'd rescued, and in her place is a consort fit for a king.
She kneels to collect a flower and her carefully coiffed hair falls to the side. Peeping out, he sees a discoloration on her neck, purple bruises in the shape of fingers.
Immediately he bends and sweeps the hair aside. There is no question where the bruises are from. Sansa tries ineffectively to cover them back up.
"It is nothing," she insists.
"A man who beats his wife is a monster. I had no idea…"
He watches her face flush, "He doesn't beat me… he's just enthusiastic."
She does not elaborate how, but he understands anyway. He'd known Harrold had some unseemly proclivities when he'd married Sansa to the boy, but he hadn't had any idea about this one. She's hidden it well; where it not for the chance of this moment he might never have learned. He is torn between pride in her and anger with her husband. One such as she was not to be manhandled. He can only hope that in the process the brute had gotten her pregnant and can be disposed of as soon as the heir was certain. It would not do to go through all of this, only to throw it away in a fit of rage. Petyr is smarter than that, which is why he is now one of the more powerful Lords instead of the nobody that he was born.
He takes Sansa's hands and guides her up from where she is still kneeling on the grass.
"You are truly a priceless jewel, my love. I am sorry to hear of his ill treatment of you, but proud of your strength and grace in bearing it."
"I only seek to do my wifely duties with honor."
The statement, however tactful, makes Petyr think about what she withstands for the sake of propriety. Instead of dwelling on the unsavory factor; he finds himself pondering the waste. She is so lovely, so talented; he yearns for her constantly.
She gets no pleasure out of her time with Harrold; that much is clear. Petyr can see her so clearly, lying patiently below the scoundrel as she anticipates the moment it is over. Her chastity has been broken, but she is still ignorant to the pleasures of the flesh.
Petyr wants to show her. He stays his own desire with thoughts of prudence, but he cannot help wondering if there would really be any harm in it now.
"These things are not meant to be a burden."
Sansa blushes like a virgin, and Petyr draws her close, resting their heads together. She is almost as tall as he is now. He can feel he curves against his body and the way she leans into him. She may not even understand her desire but it is there. Petyr forces himself to remain still, while every impulse cries out to give in to the desire of sweet caresses.
"Let us go inside, sweetling. You have not yet shown me how you're redone your library but I hear its praises sung wherever I go."
Sansa steps away somewhat hesitantly, and arm in arm they go. The library is exquisite, refined and yet welcoming. Sansa has completely transformed it from the oppressive cave it was when she arrived. Rich fabrics make the windowless room seem a sanctuary rather than a prison.
Petyr bolts the door behind them.
Sansa seats herself on an exotic looking couch, and he sits down beside her. She does not shy away as he runs a hand slowly up her leg, past brocade and silk. Her lips are parted and receptive as he leans in, closing the distance between them. She is as soft and perfect as he's always imagined and the sharp little intake of breath when his mouth finds the pulse at her neck tells him this is not just another trail she's enduring. He takes his time; what has waited for years can surely wait the space of the hour. She shudders beneath him as feathery light touches hint of what's to come and surely contrast from everything she's ever known. He supposes he should be grateful to Harrold for being such a brute. If Harrold was as tender as he is handsome, Sansa might have grown to love him. As it is, she looks at Petyr with all the adoration and trust left in her soul.
He unlaces her tenderly, kissing and caressing every ivory inch. By the time his finger tips brush lightly between her thighs, he can feel how very ready she is. He watches carefully, for any fear or pain in her expression as he lowers himself down into her. But there is only relief as he slides easily inside. He supposes that's another thing he should thank Harrold for. The memory of pain is rarely an aphrodisiac.
He continues to run his hands over her body, his mouth finding hers once more. She moans silently into his mouth as he, presumably, pushes buttons she wasn't aware existed. She is a vision of loveliness, auburn hair spread out on the couch beneath her and pale perfect breasts heaving. And she is his.
His name is on her lips and it has never tasted so sweet.
Jon is comforted by the knowledge that Melisandre will never raise a dragon with Stark blood. Desperation must have made her lose perspective, seeing only what she wishes. So, degrading as these trysts may be, Jon has the solace of knowing that they will never give the Red Lady what she wants. It makes it easier to be resigned, to submit to what he cannot prevent. He also starts to enjoy it, laughing at her mistake. It's somewhat diverting to think of how pointless the whole exercise has become. So he stops fighting, starts going along with what she thinks she wants, because he knows it will never yield the results she is waiting for.
She seems excited by this shift in his behavior, by the fact that he's playing along instead of staring in wide eyed terror as he lies placidly beneath her. This makes him angry and he shoves her roughly against the nearest wall. He is as aroused as he is enraged while he yanks her legs apart and thrusts into her. She's wet and inviting, like she's getting off on his violent disdain, but it's too late for him to care.
"That's right. Sluts like you are made to be taken like this. It is all you are really good for and it's the only way to get you to shut up."
Melisandre moans, rocking her hips back against him. The more aroused she gets the more pissed off he feels and he withdraws, unable to actually stop but wanting to subjugate her more. He needs to take back the sense of dignity she's stolen from him, the fact that he cannot look his comrades in the eye without feeling a liar and a traitor. The desire he cannot confess is stronger than the urge to leave her there and walk away, that is her weapon. He flings her facedown onto the bed, slamming back inside as he covers her mouth with one of his hands to keep her from saying anything else. The other one yanks her head back with that long fired tipped hair, he is both in control and completely out of it as he pounds her into the cold stone floor. He swears she's laughing as well as enjoying this too much, but the feeling of power over what he most feared overwhelms it and he finds himself spilling inside of her, spent.
He gets up and throws he clothes at her. She's grinning, way too satisfied.
"What's so funny?" he snaps irritably.
"I never thought this would be so entertaining. You always seemed so serious, like you didn't know how to have any fun."
He's not sure why he has to justify this to her, when he loathes everything she stands for. It's an irritating quality and, now that it's over, the scene he just made is causing him to feel filthy and he wishes she would just go and leave him well enough alone. It was bad enough being a passive victim, complicit in her scheme but not having taken an active role in it, now he feels like a traitor to his own cause, though he knows nothing can come of this and his feeling of doom is inaccurate.
"It won't work, you know." The game has gone on too long and it was time to lay his cards on the table.
"What? Goading you into a passion?" She seems so human, so normal in this moment, but he knows it is a trick.
"What you are trying to do. You'll never get a Targaryen dragon using Stark blood," There, he's said it. Now this will come to an end and she will take revenge or not, but either way he will be free.
Melisandre only laughs. "Do you really think I am that foolish, Jaehaerys?"
This reaction surprises and frightens him. "What else am I to think? Unless, you've just developed an appetite for our little trysts, as well as calling me false names."
She pauses a moment but when she speaks there is no hesitance in her voice. "It's not a false name, calling you Jon is the falsehood. Look at yourself, you are not the ever proper Eddard Stark's one mistake; you are so much more. Jaehaerys Targaryen, you are the child of Ice and Fire. Your line was all but extinguished to bring you into the world as your mother and your father's families destroyed each other."
This is greater madness than Jon even imagined Melisandre capable of. It seems her desire to have her prophesies come true is stronger than her sanity. How can claims such as these even be considered for legitimacy? His father had been one of the leaders of the revolution, after his brother and father were killed and his sister was abducted. There is no way he would ever sully his name and make Lady Catelyn so unhappy to shelter one of his enemy's children. Besides, everyone had always commented on his strong Stark features, bastard that he was. Melisandre was grasping at straws that did not even exist. Who on earth was she even claiming his parents were?
"You are full of lies, Melisandre," he said in a level voice. "I would appreciate it if you'd leave, if you are going to insist of spouting nonsense."
He feels a rush of energy as he challenges her. She does not seem perturbed at all, though.
"Believe what you will. I have what I came for; it will not be long before you will see that I was right. Accept your fate, it will find you whether you do or not. You have a role to play in the battle to come; the only question is which side you will play it on."
"I will protect the kingdom, as I have sworn to do. I will protect it by whatever means necessary. Right now that means letting you roam about this place, but I would just as certainly slit your throat to eliminate you as a threat."
He is not sure where this reckless bravery is coming from, but he is tired of hiding and retreating. If she truly believes what she is saying; he has nothing to fear from her. She will not harm him if she thinks him relevant to her plans.
Harrold stays away longer and longer as her body expands to fit what is growing inside of it. Sansa can't say she minds. She is busy handling his affairs, and spending time with Alayne's father. For the past 6 months, they have been spending their time alone in ways that it makes her blush to think about and yet she cannot get enough of.
Today she is eager to have her husband arrive home, though.
It is a feast night, and she looks radiant. Her face is shining, with anticipation. Her swollen belly seems a sign of bounty and no one suspects the vial digging into her palms as she clutches it.
Harrold is unexpectedly early… catching her just as she is dressing for dinner. She smiles the smile of a courtier. He smells of stale ale and barmaids.
"Shall I run you a bath my lord?" she smiles prettily.
"Let the servants take care of that, Alayne. We've been apart for too long."
She is surprised to hear the note of lust in his voice. Her pregnancy has not exactly made him desirous of her so far.
He is undressing though, sitting down naked on the bed and beckoning for her to join him.
"My lord I…"
"Come climb on top of me, wife. I cannot wait all these months to have you again."
"Of course, I would never deny you."
Sansa feels awkward, as she tries to position herself in such a way that her current state is not in the way. Harrold has never left room for her to need to initiate anything in their wedding bed. She closes her eyes and imagines that it is not Harrold as she moves herself down onto him. It seems easier somehow.
Harrold thrusts up to meet her; it is impossible to imagine that his rapid jerky movements are that of the other. So she opens her eyes and remembers that it will not last long.
This is different though, the change of position means that Harrold is inadvertently rubbing where Petyr knows she enjoys and Sansa finds herself a little short of breath by the time he finally collapses beneath her.
She climbs off and go to wash, but Harrold stops her saying, "I fear in my desire to treat you like a lady, I have neglected to consider that you are still a woman like other women."
Sansa isn't sure what that means but she thinks it is an attempt to offer an olive branch.
"I have no cause for complaint," She tells him, "You have treated me very fairly."
Harrold looks as if he wants to say something else, but he pauses and Sansa escapes to clean herself.
At the feast, she watches Harrold take a sip of wine and collapse into his soup. She cries out and falls to her knees in front of his limp form like a devoted and loving wife in grief. She feels a little sorry that he had to die, but more relieved as those around her begin to assume just the things that she and Petyr discussed they would.
It is easy to fall faint and be carried to her chambers, avoiding the mess of panic and anger until another day. Petyr's looks of concern are equally well taken, as she does not have to wait long for him to arrive.
He covers her in kisses, whispering words of praise and reassurance and all Sansa can think is that the lies are almost over.
His arousal presses into her as he embraces her from behind, hands cupping her increasingly full breasts. His breath is warm on her neck and his touch is familiar as he reaches down between her thighs and gets her panting hard. He kneels down before her, mouth servicing where fingers are not.
Her whole body shakes and Sansa recalls how overwhelmed she was the first time Petyr brought her to climax. Pleasure was something she'd never thought was appropriate for someone of her birth.
As her body begins to recover; he guides her carefully to the bed, placing her on the very edge and laying her down gently. More kisses dot her skin as he stands above her and finally takes her.
Afterwards he curls against her and whispers world of love and adoration into her hair. She knows everything will be alright. After the baby is born, her true identity will be revealed and they can finally be together once the myth that he is her father ends. It will be a cease to conquering kingdoms through marriage, but she will be happy. They will be happy. It is worth all the deceit and foolish Harrold's death, which Petyr claims was strategic but Sansa knows was really about how much Petyr couldn't stand Harrold touching her. It makes her feel protected and valuable to know the truth.
Melisandre blames the child in her womb for the dreams she's been having lately. It does not kick; it burns, in her belly, and that must be the source of the feverish, sordid dreams. His child is inside of her body and his image is inside of her dreams. Melisandre finds it strange that attempting to do what is required for what must come has made her so unclean. She tells herself that it is a test, and soon it will be over. She will emerge stronger.
She was greater than carnal lust; it was a tool she used. This is different though; she's been taken over and not by the familiar Light, but by something scorching and freezing, too young to know what it wants. Her body is not her own and it poisons her mind. It will be over soon though. She will be free again and see the glory of her sacrifice. This is not punishment, it is a trial given so that she can attain greater heights. This is not because she was wrong. She has never misread the signs. Melisandre is not motivated by selfish desires and so she does not make the mistakes that others do. That is why she is being tested; if she was too weak to withstand she would not be given this burden. Those stories of men driven mad are not for her; she is a true believer.
He shows up one evening, as she's sitting by the fire. She has not approached him since the night of the child's conception. She has not approached him since she told him the truth. He has been cold and distant as ever, his eyes give an icy burn. Here he is though, seeking her out, and Melisandre begins to wonder if this madness is not just a test but a necessary part of God's plan. He is here, so he must be bound to her, like she is to him. There is strong magic in this sort of incubation. It has not just produced a sacrifice; it has tied his life to hers and thus to the Cause.
"If you really believe I have dragon blood, why go through all this? Why not just use me as the sacrifice?" His voice betrays that this has been on his mind for quite a while.
He is really asking, Do you love me?. She knows it.
"If I kill the last Targaryen on the continent, who will ride the beast once it rises? They do not take to others." Better not to let him know quite yet, let him think he's the only one that's grown fond, until the right time, until it's useful.
"What about your Chosen One? Doesn't Stannis have enough Targaryen blood diluted down in his veins?" This is a test. He is on the brink of trusting her. He is already besotted and needs just the right touch to push him completely into her grasp.
Melisandre leans into him. "You are Chosen. Don't you know that by now?"
"By the Lord of Light… by me."
She adds that last part because it is what he needs to hear. He needs to think she'd die for him, so that he will do whatever she wants. His loyalty is of paramount importance.
She cannot press her body again him now, swollen as she is, but she places his hands over her stomach so he can feel the power pulsing within. He kneels down in front of her, witnessing the miracle. He is hers now. She can tell as he rises back to his feet and her lips meet his, gentle and reassuring. She cannot let him run now.
This is nothing like their previous encounters; there is no violence, no struggle for dominance or regretful submission. Things work in mysterious ways and Melisandre feels a comfort in this experience. Clearly this must be part of the Plan as there is an easiness about it that mirrors the sensation that she's only had when following the Lord's will. Now she understands why the dreams have been there. She was not being punished; she was being shown.
The chill of steel against her throat is unexpected and disorienting. She looks up at him, confused.
"Why?" She asks, hoping that if she does not act guilty he will not spill her blood.
"Because, what if you actually turn out to be right? I told you I'd slit your throat rather than let you endanger this kingdom," There is no hint of conflict in his voice.
"Surely you will not kill your own unborn child," She begs.
"It is far less despicable than to let you birth and then murder him."
He knows that it is a boy. How does he know? He cannot really be planning on killing them. It is just a scare tactic, a way of getting more of what he wants.
"Is that what this is about? We can talk about it. Maybe there's another way."
He is unmoved. "Do you really want those to be your last words? Say goodbye to this world, Melisandre; prepare yourself."
In any other man that would have been a mistake. All this arguing would have only served to give her a chance to turn the tables, but she's left herself helpless and the truth hits her as the blade slices through her skin. This is not what she was meant to do. She let herself be led astray by her mortal body and this is her punishment. She has lost all protections, because she's betrayed her oaths. Melisandre has failed. He does not love her; he has merely been biding his time to undo her, and she was foolish and weak enough to let him.
Weak indulgence is never rewarded. Melisandre's own words come flooding back to her with the piercing pain of the steel.
The path of R'hllor is that of greatness, but beware those of weak or tainted spirit. For he is a taxing God. He will demand of you as much as her offers. Those who fail him can expect no clemency, such as they might find from one of your weak and false deities who offer nothing and ask nothing.
She did not see this coming. It has taken her by surprise, just as it did those whose fates she has served as a vehicle for. His justice is swift and final.
The ascent of the Dragon Queen has not been really included in Petyr's calculations. He is somewhat frustrated with himself for not accounting for the possibility. Sansa's position as a Stark is mud, given the fact that the dragons and the wolves ripped each other apart around the time of their new monarch's birth. His status is less directly problematic but all of his holdings were given to him by Lannisters or through other hated families and he cannot be sure of anything with this new queen. Petyr stares at the letter with foreboding before turning back to look at Sansa, sleeping in blissful ignorance. It is then that the seal at the bottom catches his eye. Tyrion Lannister is the author, and his signature proclaims him to be the Queen's Hand. Tyrion holds no love for Littlefinger, but it is reassuring to see that blood is not all to this new queen. Somewhat reassured, Petyr's mind seems to wake from a drowsy stupor and the wheels begin turning. It does not take him long to remember that Tyrion is legally married to Sansa, and that the dwarf seems to have some sense of chivalry towards her, as he respected her chastity when given the opportunity to deflower her legitimately. Petyr knows of Tyrion's whores, so it does not seem he is disinterested.
It takes less time than one would think to draft a letter to the dwarf Petyr had framed for murdering his own nephew, which will forever bind the woman he loves best to the half man. Then again, Petyr has always exceeded expectations. He knows that Tyrion is Sansa's, and through her his, best hope of success in the new regime. A raven is sent off with Sansa still sleeping; as it flies away Petyr slips back between the sheets to awaken her with kisses that start at her thighs and end at her lips. Sansa smiles at him as she opens her eyes, suspecting nothing.
"Good morning, my darling."
Her response is a wet mouth. This is a vision of domesticity that he doubts he would ever tire of.
Truth be told, it is very close to a fantasy he had as a youth, although Sansa's features are a bit stronger than Catelyn's ever were and she's cleverer than he'd imagined either of them could ever be.
He's lavishing attention of her breasts, knowing Tyrion is too clever to be deceived and if he is to be on their side Petyr will have to give all this up. It's a shift of plans, he'd hoped to marry Sansa and make himself King in the North, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Her hands wander more now than they used to. Petyr supposes that it is a sign of her increasing comfort with her own sexuality. He is proud to have been the one to bring it out. No one can say he didn't leave her better than she was when he got her. She is smarter, more tactful, more practical, and all together more enjoyable.
Sansa is slim as she was before the pregnancy, no unseemly lumps or residual heaviness. Petyr buries his face in her stomach, feeling how smooth it is against his face. He supposes that maybe they shouldn't mention the child, or the marriage to Harrold at all. No one will be the wiser thanks to the cover of her identity as his bastard daughter. Perhaps Alayne will have an accident at the lake to explain her disappearance.
Success requires sacrifice, that is what Petyr reminds himself as he thinks about how he will be losing the sensation of her body pressed against his and the way she presses around him. Neither admirers nor whores can substitute. The first are too desperate, the second too blasé. Sansa has grown up, under his guidance, to be his perfect woman.
And she loves him. She loves him in the way he loved Catelyn before the revolution. She was supposed to be his reward for everything he's had to do over the years to make himself worthy. And all the planning and scheming worked, but it's a bitter pill to gain paradise only to be forced to give it away for one's own survival.
He will not go back to being nobody and having nothing.
The servant's knock at the door solidifies the whole thing somehow, though he knows it is too soon for a reply.
The note is for Sansa and she darts out of bed at it.
"What is the news, my bird?" He asks. It is better to let her think he does not already know.
"It's from my half brother, Jon Snow."
"And what does your bastard brother say? I thought he was at the Wall."
"Apparently he's been released from duties there and is coming here to get me. Gods know how he knew where I was."
This is not expected. Petyr hates being taken by surprise, and now it has happened twice in one morning.
"He'll be here by noon." Sansa adds, "He says he has important and fortuitous news."
Petyr has never gotten the impression that Sansa was at all fond of her bastard brother, but he feels threatened unaccountably by his sudden arrival. His dismay at Jon's awareness of Sansa's whereabouts is far greater, and more understandable.
When Jon arrives, snow in his coal black hair and tells of his being revealed as Sansa's cousin, son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Petyr knows that they are saved. He also knows, from the look in the newly found relations' eyes, that he has lost Sansa more profoundly than he ever could have to schemes and machinations.
Jon looks like Brandon Stark, that arrogant lordling, and Petyr wishes him nothing but ill.
He smiles graciously and toasts to his long life. Royalty is often worth stomaching.