For a boy of only fourteen years, Renly Baratheon had shown a remarkable ease when it came to the matter of letting his new wife's brother live at Storm's End. Remarkable--and Tyrion, at first worried that he'd inadvertently asked too much of his sister, asked what Sansa'd had to do to convince him.
"Ask sweetly," she said, with a blink and then a crinkling of her brow. "What else could I have done?"
Tyrion's face had gone red with embarrassment at the pointed question. He was a man grown now, but his mind often wandered to the seedier parts of life.
"Renly is a good man," Sansa continued in a fiercely educational tone. "He is not like his brothers--he is kind to those who do not propose a challenge."
Crossing stubby arms over his chest, Tyrion opened his mouth to protest.
"No, don't even." Sansa raised a hand. "I won't have you duelling with my husband-to-be, verbally or otherwise. And Tysha would agree with me."
"Damn the both of you," Tyrion grumbled, but knew well enough that they were his only friends and he was lucky.
Until the marriage took place, he and his crofter's daughter of a wife barely saw each other. Sansa even had guards set on him to make sure he didn't give in to the temptation of sneaking off at night, and possibly attracting the attention of their father. She'd been right about that much, that his marriage put Tysha in danger. She loved him, but was no romantic fool to risk Tywin Lannister's wrath. So they waited for the wedding and for the distant safety of Storm's End.
Despite his generosity and Sansa's pushing, however, Renly and Tyrion avoided speaking to each other until the wedding night itself. As the second Lannister-Baratheon joining, the party was magnificently furnished as if Tywin and Robert sought to outdo each other in shows of wealth. Among such bounty, nearly all but Stannis found themselves spectacularly drunk. Sansa was older and not fond of wine, and though Renly was young and (Tyrion thought) slightly terrified of his older bride he avoided excess in wine, but even they turned to their cups when Robert outright had his way with a serving girl against a wall. Cersei at least had taken to her chambers by that point, but the newlyweds still drank to ease the humiliation.
By the time of the bedding, the crowd was beyond lively. Tyrion didn't bother joining in, being both too drunk to stand up straight and also not so drunk that he cared to see his sister naked. Eventually he stumbled his way to Tysha's cottage with wooing words on his lips, liquid courage making him ignore all danger.
The next day, as the sun rose on the family breakfast, Tyrion had found his way to the table and Sansa soon joined him with flushed cheeks and dark moons beneath her eyes.
"Pleasant night?" Tyrion teased. While Tysha had giggled over his hungover state, it had been an enjoyable morning and he found himself in a good mood.
"You're not to tease Renly about it," Sansa warned preemptively. "He was simply...too drunk."
He'd not been expecting that answer. Tyrion chortled and dodged the slap that Sansa sent half-heartedly in his direction. And despite her look, he announced, "Ah the newly made man," when Renly joined them.
Sansa gave him a disappointed look and Renly tried to laugh it off but ended up looking merely uncomfortable. While both were clearly awkward, it was hardly the first wedding night that had met with such issues. Tyrion thought no more of it, and brought flowers to Tysha in an attempt to make up for being a drunken ass the night before.
Tywin and the other Lannisters left Storm's End and life started to look up for Tyrion and Tysha. Though they were his benefactors, he paid little attention to Sansa and her new husband for a while. Only after a few weeks had passed, with Sansa growing quieter every day and failing to answer his japes, did he feel obligated to call on her one free morning.
She was her usual polite self until he crossed the room and took her hands, flipping them over to carefully examine her arms (both bared by Renly's gift, a daringly cut dress in the new fashion). "What are you doing?" she asked, confused.
"Has he abused you?" Tyrion demanded, with a firm stare that he hoped she could not avoid. Her quiet had unsettled him and he knew of Robert's reputation with Cersei.
"No!" Sansa answered quickly, and the look of shock in her eyes told him that it was a genuine answer. "Tyrion, he wouldn't. You should know that."
"Then what?" Tyrion continued, though more relieved than he could say. "You've been weeping."
"I haven't," she answered, looking almost offended. "And if I had, it would not be Renly's fault."
Tyrion furrowed his brow, at a loss. "You've looked sad..."
Sansa gently removed her wrists from his grasp and gave his hands a gentle squeeze. "Nothing that you can help, brother." Though soft as ever, her voice wavered at the end.
Worried, though not quite as urgently as before, Tyrion dragged over a footstool and sat himself at her feet. "Tell me."
His sister only turned pink and said nothing, her lips in a tight line and her focus on the stitchery in her lap. The siblings sat in the strained silence for some time, as Tyrion watched her face and waited. They shared everything, they always had; surely whatever was gone wrong, he could know. Though it had hardly been arranged for him, he knew that Sansa had accepted her betrothal at least partly so they might escape Father--and she never would have been at odds with him if had not been for Tyrion. They were the black lions of the family because of him. Any sadness she bore because of it...
"He does not find me even the least bit attractive," Sansa finally blurted out, as if she was a girl again and they were sharing secrets while hiding from Tywin's wrath in the crypts of Casterley Rock.
Tyrion's brow furrowed deeper, guilt forgotten for a second. "Renly?"
"Yes," she confirmed, mouth twisting uncomfortably. "He has no desire for me. He does not say it, but I believe I even repulse him." The way her voice wavered on the word, Tyrion had a sudden fear that Sansa might start to weep.
"But..." The very notion didn't make sense to him. "But you're beautiful."
She laughed a little and shook her head, mouth still taut.
"No, you are," Tyrion insisted, still confused. "Has he gone blind in the past weeks? Are you just reading it all wrong? Gods, maybe he's just impotent and doesn't want to admit it."
"Tyrion!" Sansa hushed him, blinking hard as if to hold back tears. "No, it's not that." She dropped her head, golden curls curtaining her face, voice low. "He shuddered when I touched him. Clearly I repulse him and...and I did so want not to be a disappointment. Sometimes he does not even look at me anymore unless there's no other option."
Tyrion stared at her for a long second. Though still bewildered, he knew that Sansa was not so foolish as to create a problem where there was none. Something was wrong with Renly and she, of course, took the guilt on herself. A wife's duty is to please her husband, Tysha had said once, and though she half-teased he knew the sentiment was common. But not with his sister, not with Sansa. She was the one who deserved to be pleased, and Tyrion's outrage on her behalf started to burn in his chest. "He's not worthy of you," he declared, resting a hand on her knee. "Don't cry, Sansa, it is not your fault. You are the jewel of the Lannisters even if no one will say it, and if Renly makes you cry in any way I will kick him in the shins. Hard."
Sansa laughed truly that time, for the first time since the wedding, and leaned down to wrap him in a hug. "Dear brother..."
It had only been half a jape--but Tyrion knew she knew that. They'd spent their lives together and hardly needed words. He embraced her tightly. "See, I will make myself of use here after all. I will protect you from your idiot husband."
"I hope that won't be necessary," Sansa said, after breathing deeply and then letting it out, freeing him from the hug and regaining her ladylike posture. "He is a good man and has not treated me ungently."
Tyrion shrugged. "Whatever must be done. It could be he's like the other brother, Stannis, and would rather go into battle than to bed with a woman...though in Renly's case, unless it's a battle of badly fitted coats, the analogy doesn't quite apply."
Sansa only shook her head and gave him a look. "Be nice."
"Always," Tyrion said with a grin that belied his innocent tone. "To you, anyways."
For what it was worth, she smiled at that, and the smile stayed for some time as they talked of less-pressing things.
And later when he bared all to Tysha, head resting between her breasts, his wife kissed his forehead and said, "It is worth much, my Tyrion. She is a good woman, your sister."
"The best other than you," Tyrion murmured. "The only, rather."
Tysha sighed. "Tyrion..."
He grunted. "I should not say such things, I know. Don't hate me, Tysha. I will learn to be less vindictive of your sex, I swear."
"I am sure you will," she said, and kissed the top of his head. "For otherwise, I shall become Sansa's handmaid and we both shall never speak to you again."
Tyrion made a penitent sound. Yet for all that he japed--his life, sometimes, seemed to require one jape after another to endure--there was no worse fate she could have offered. Wife and sister both were owed everything he had and more. With Tysha, he was slowly learning to make her happy. So far he'd done little to help his sister, but there was time. A lifetime, and one without his father's presence.
With such circumstances, Tyrion could not help but believe in happy endings for them all. Even if they involved kicking Renly in the shins.