As he opened his eyes, he could feel the sudden bloom of a headache unfurling itself in his head, crashing about, unrelenting in its destruction, making his groan a whimper as he screwed his eyes shut again. What on god’s green earth had happened?
Think, Steve. Come on.
Eyes still closed, he assessed what he could, as quiet as he could. He was in civilian clothes, that much he knew right off the bat, a finger brushing against the leather of his bomber jacket. He was lying out in the grass-behind Bruce’s house? No, Bruce keeps his lawn immaculate, and these blades were uneven, soft from the morning dew. Bruce also didn’t have a fountain in his back yard, so that trickling nearby would be a...river, he decides.
The air smells crisp, cold even, clear in his lungs.
“I’m not in Kansas anymore,” he mumbles to himself, wishing he could laugh without the pounding in his head. What had happened...? There was a green light, he was taken unawares, and that laughter-
“Loki,” he grumbles, clenching his jaw, his fists, and it’s all he can do but wonder how many chances Thor would give his brother, the trickster god, a constant source of absolutely no amusement, he thinks.
Deep breath, Steve. At least you’re not waking up loosing 70-odd years on your life. His eyes snap open at the thought, suddenly petrified that maybe he has lost time again, that this is what Earth has been reduced to...to...to trees, green grass, rolling hills and a black shadow bounding towards him. Considering what could have happened, as Clint likes to allude to, this apocalyptic future they’re all looking forward to, Steve tries to be positive-it could be much worse, he thinks, sitting up.
Wait a second-and suddenly he’s shoved back to the ground, air knocked out of him, a wolf-no, it can’t be a wolf, he’s never seen a wolf this size before-with its paws on his chest, bright green eyes meeting his, teeth barred, sharp and striking amongst the black fur of the beast. He gulps.
“There there, uh, boy...” he attempts, eyes wide and short of breath. This, this beast is heavy, and super soldier or no, Steve isn’t quite sure how much longer he can bare being pinned down by it. He’s sure any attempt to dominate the creature could work, but he’s always had a soft spot for animals, great (really great) and small, and those sharp teeth are far too close to his neck, that he doesn’t even want to move.
Another wolf bounds up, this one with hues of grey and brown decorating its fur, yellow eyes gleaming as it growled at its pack mate, who was slowly backing off of him now, and Steve took the opportunity to sick back up again, up onto his knees in submission, hands up in surrender, when-
Oh, great. Who even carries a sword around these days?
“State your name and what you’re doing on Stark lands.” The voice behind him is commanding and firm. So much so that the wolves both sit obediently and look towards it, tails wagging happily.
Steve’s eyes widen, and he can’t help but let out a little whoop of delight, wary of the blade at his neck.
“Stark? Is Tony here? Or Miss Pepper?” he asks, hopeful.
There’s silence behind him, and he can feel the blade tighten in the person’s hand every so slightly. That may have been the wrong thing to say, he supposes.
“I’m uh, I’m Steve Rogers,” he amends hastily, “And I just woke up here-I’m not sure how I got here, actually.”
The voice behinds him chuckles and the blade is withdrawn. Steve turns around and rises up to his feet, and finds himself face to face with a...with a little girl? She’s smiling up at him slightly, suspicion still lacing her grey eyes as she looks him up and down.
He’d do the same, but there isn’t much to look at. She’s tiny! Maybe around...his best guess is twelve, but he also used to be tiny-even when he was eighteen, so he doesn’t guess her age out loud, remembers how small you could feel on the inside as well.
“Where are you from, Steve Rogers?” she asks, and he notices her peculiar accent. Like those Brits he met in London, but maybe from a different area? So he’s in England, he decides. No wait, the United Kingdom, he mentally corrects himself.
“I’m from America, little lady.” she scowls at the name he gives her, and he quickly adds in “Ma’am, I mean. Sorry miss.” he finishes sheepishly. While he can certainly overpower her, she’s the one with a sword in her hands, and-is that an axe?-two wolves at her command. She also knows what’s going on, and where they are, so he decides to follow her lead.
Her name is Arya Stark, she tells him, and at his blank look, she seems almost disappointed. She’s seven and ten, a woman grown, and a master swordswoman to boot. ‘Seven and ten’? Steve’s sure he’s got the geography correct, but he didn’t think the Brits spoke this differently to him, but he figures, he’s been sleeping for so long, so who knows?
She lives in this, what can only be described as an estate called Winterfell, and even though he is her ‘prisoner’ she continues to pepper him with questions. Mainly about how he got to be so large, so strong, and how she bets he couldn’t best her with a sword, but she’d like to see him try anyway, and mayhaps (mayhaps? Really?) she can have one made for him and he fight for her family, and was he a knight? Oh, well, apparently he should become one soon, because he certainly looks and acts like a knight.
Steve feels almost close to blushing at the attentions this small girl is giving him, when suddenly she’s behind him, kicking his knees out from under him, and he’s kneeling before what he can only think of as the prettiest girl in the world. Her hair is red, eyes and dress the same shade of blue, and golly, she’s just so dang beautiful, he wishes he had his notepad so he could draw her, make a proper study of her beautiful face.
“Arya,” she says tone weary, “who is this and why are they here?”
Arya, who stands shorter than him even while on his knees, perks up at her name and answers obediently. He is Steve Rogers, and he is from the land of A-mary-kah. No, she doesn’t know where it is, but Arya says she will vouch for him because he is strong and Nymeria and Shaggydog didn’t kill him outright, and isn’t he strong? We could use more strong hands around here, Sansa, and if he turns out craven, we can send him to the wall, Jon would appreciate that.
Arya Stark talks a lot, Steve realises, and even if she isn’t somehow related to Tony, she could be.
The look on Sansa Stark’s face tells him she would probably agree with him, if she knew who he was talking about, that is.
It’s been a little over a week since he’s been welcomed into Winterfell, and three days since he’s been properly accepted. In that time, Steve’s not quite sure what’s been going on, but then again, he never really understood the monarchy system. He knows he’s not in the United Kingdom, probably not even in his own universe, and he most certainly knows that his longing glances towards Sansa Stark have not gone unnoticed-but then again, Steve’s never been one for subtlety.
Arya punishes him for it a little, in the training yard. He’s not quite sure how she managed to get the drop on him, but he’s crying out ‘yield!’ anyway, and she smirks at him.
“I see you watching her, you know.” and suddenly Steve is reminded of when he woke up in the forest, of Shaggydog perched upon his chest, much like Arya is, but instead of her teeth barred, it is a small dagger in her hand.
“I-well gee, I-I didn’t mean any disrespect by it, Arya. I’m sorry.” he fumbles over his words, stammers and flushes as Arya sheaths her blade safely away, yet remains sitting on his chest. She’s a lethal little thing, and Steve keeps telling himself not to underestimate her, but her size keeps distracting him.
She barks out a laugh at him, gives him a smile-like the one in the forest, he remembers.
“It’s ok. She looks at you, too. And I know they don’t have royalty in Eh-mere-kah,” he’s so close to getting them to pronounce it correctly, Steve can taste it, “but she is the Queen Regent, and life hasn’t been kind to us Starks.” She pauses, her eyes softening, and Steve thinks back on the Stark he knows, of Tony and his strained relationship with his own father, his constant battle with his inner demons masked by quips and biting sarcasm.
In any universe, it seems, it’s difficult being a Stark, he muses.
He looks up to the small girl, glances at the blacksmith behind her, watching them from his forge, and Arya looks back with him, and hastily scrambles off of him, finally allowing him to rise.
“Does he bother you, Arya?” Steve asks. The man is large-not as large as Steve, but he looks strong, and though he knows not to doubt Arya, not to doubt her strength, he knows that women should be offered protection whenever needed.
Arya looks at him, a funny look on her face, and shakes her head vigorously. Good, he thinks. She’s only seventeen, and though this world seems all sorts of backwards to his own, Steve doesn’t want any bullies on her case. Or boys, even. Because she’s seventeen, and she just seems so young.
She brings him out of his thoughts with a punch to his arm. He rubs it, feeling sore.
“Today? Was not an accident, you get that, Steve Rogers? I’ve been well trained, and if you treat Sansa with anything but the kindness she deserves, no one will be able to figure out how you died of old age while so young.”
His eyes widen at the threat, and Arya just strolls away, flipping her dagger in the air at the same time.
“Yes, ma’am,” he mutters, and with that threat, he never forgets to not underestimate Arya Stark again.
There have been feasts for the past three nights he’s been at Winterfell, and Steve can’t quite tell why. He knows that he is now Steve Snow to any who don’t know him outside of Winterfell, and Rickon had told him to be as quiet as possible to hide his strange accent. When he attempted to mimic Rickon’s accent however, all he got was tackled to the ground by Shaggydog and a wincing Rickon shielding his ears.
So Steve sits where he’s told, keeps his mouth as full as possible to avoid talking too much, watches as the people around him take to the dance floor, and tries not to be too obvious in his affections towards Sansa Stark. (he’s still not sure what to call her other than her name-Lady Sansa? Queen Sansa? he mainly just shrugs and calls her ‘Miss’ or ‘Ma’am’, and hopes this doesn’t offend her too much, hopes that his foreign home excuses any rudeness)
It’s only on the second night that she joins the dance floor, and she looks utterly beautiful. Her red hair flying out behind her, a flush high on her cheeks, her blue eyes dancing as much as her feet are. She looks happy, he thinks, and based on what he’s been able to find out from Rickon (the most candid Stark, he comes to realise), there hasn’t been much cause for happiness amongst his sisters recently, and the life in her eyes makes Steve smile widely at her.
Until, that is, Arya slips into the seat next to him and elbows him sharply in the gut.
“Ask her to dance,” she grits out, angling her head towards her sister who is now making her way back to her throne.
“But I-I have two left feet, Arya.” he mutters softly. “I’m a terrible dancer back home, and these dances look beyond what I’d ever be able to do.”
Beside him, he can hear her sigh, and can almost feel her roll her eyes in annoyance. And the next day, he finds himself being lead to the empty hall, being pulled through various moves Arya can’t seem to complete herself, let alone teach him.
It is only when she storms out, muttering about stupid Ah-mare-cannes (so close, he thinks), and he is left alone that he sees her.
“Miss Sansa?” he asks-at least, he thinks it’s her, lurking in the shadows by the door.
She walks forward, and smiles at him-it doesn’t quite reach her eyes, but Steve feels his heart skip a beat despite it all.
“My-ser-I-Steve,” she’s not quite sure what to call him, either. Arya and Rickon call him whatever they want, and other people around Winterfell have taken to calling him Rogers or Snow. But Sansa, he’s noticed, likes to cling to propriety, her manners impeccable, except when around him. She hasn’t quite settled on a name for him yet.
“Was that my sister teaching you to dance?” she asks, voice full of amused disbelief.
Steve nods, and can’t help laughing softly.
“Yes ma’am. I imagine we looked quite the pair, right off the funny farm.”
She scrunches her nose at his words, but she lets out a giggle.
“‘Funny farm’?” she asks, full of mirth. “Based on your accent and mannerisms, I suppose any farm where you are from, must be quite amusing.”
And Steve can’t help it, he blushes and feels utterly charmed by this woman before him, the two of them so separated by class and culture, and he wonders if that is all there is to this attraction, but as he looks into her eyes again, he thinks no. No, this is more than a quaint new foreign language that makes the girls at home swoon.
Tentatively, Sansa approaches him and takes his hands in hers. They’re very large, she thinks, yet they seem safe as well. Gentle, much like Arya described their owner to be when she first found him surrendering to Nymeria and Shaggywolf in the forest. She places one large hand on her waist, her small hand resting on his broad shoulder, and takes his other in her right hand, quickly ducking to pick up her skirts.
“Now-I’m going to lead you, but when you ask me to dance tonight, we can pretend you’re leading me. Ok?”
Sansa can feel the heat in her cheeks, can see it mirrored in his own flushed face, and for a second feels the sting of rejection, feels as though she has pushed too far, presumed too much, until he gives her a bright, toothy smile, and barring his utter handsomeness, she can fairly feel the goodness shining through him, feels as though she can see his gentle heart beating in his chest.
Slowly, bit by bit, she guides him through the steps, and though he still stumbles a bit, soon he is able to at least pretend.
“I will ask the minstrels to play it slower than normal.” she says, smiling, and he can’t help but hold her for that extra second too long, can’t help but feel the heat of her skin through the layers of her dress, her soft hand in his, and as she looks up at him, eyes defiant, he is reminded that she is a queen, and he is...something else altogether.
Evening has fallen again, and with it, the feast starts to great excitement. Halfway through, and Steve is anxious, not entirely sure of when he should have the pleasure of asking Sansa Stark her hand to dance. Arya slips in next to him, except this time, her hair is messier than usual, her cheeks bright pink, and she’s barely able to keep a blinding smile off her face as she nods to him, his signal to ask her sister to dance. As he stands, he spots the burly blacksmith walk in, casual as you please, and though he still considers her too young, as Arya mouths the word ‘fondue’ to him, he gives her a small grin, and shakes his head in memory of the day she cornered him and demanded he divulge all of his love life. She had walked away dejected, disappointed even, but was fascinated at the word he had blurted out when he had finally figured out what she was trying to find out.
Come on, Rogers, he thinks to himself, ignoring the kick to his backside from who he can only presume is Arya, in attempt to get him to move.
Sansa looks swell in her dress tonight, and he tells her as much with a kiss to her hand. He’s sure he’s seen this done in the previous nights, sure he’s seen it at the flicks, and when she thanks him graciously, nods towards the minstrels for a slower tune, Steve smiles wide, carefully leading her to the floor.
The first few steps he is sure everyone can tell he is trailing behind her, but as he avoids stepping on her feet not once, but twice, Steve feels more confident, and drops all pretenses of being the lead, enjoying following her instead, and he thinks he might just follow her anywhere if she asked him to.
It is only much later that night, when he is sitting in the godswood with Shaggydog, when he sees her again. He stands to greet her, does a half bow, while she dips a small curtsey, and they both laugh at the absurdity of it.
“Miss Sansa,” he says, nodding his head.
And instead of saying his name, she just gives him a look that he can’t decipher, can’t tell the true meaning of, but he finds he really quite enjoys the smile she’s giving him, the sly look in her eye.
He knows things are different here, but he really would quite like to kiss her right now.
And much to his chagrin, realises much to late that he says this out loud.
Instead of nodding her approval, Sansa closes the gap between them, for she is Queen she thinks, and if she can rule the North, she should be able to initiate a kiss from this lovely, kind man. And though she is tall, she still has to pull his mouth down to meet hers, a chaste kiss turning into a song, singing in the godswood.
When they pull apart, chests heaving, he looks shyly at her, and from what she’s gleaned from Arya, she thinks it might just be true, that she was a first kiss. It is a heady feeling, but she won’t ask him if it’s true, for even she cannot quite believe a man as good as him could get this far in life without women throwing themselves at him.
“Miss Sansa, would-” he starts, but there is a sudden flash of green light, almost blinding, and when it’s gone and she looks back to where he was standing, all she sees is Shaggydog, prowling around the godswood, Steve Rogers no longer in sight.
“-you like to dance?” he finishes, looking around him. He is back where he started, and it is only the strange clothes on his back that tell him that Miss Sansa wasn’t just a dream.