Remains of Winterfell Castle
Queen Sansa Stark
The flakes fell in thick clumps around her shaking form. The pristine white snow was stained red as soon as the flakes hit the ground, mixing where blood flowed freely. Blood and death surrounded her. She was no stranger to either concept. At the young age of twenty, she was already alone in the world.
Arya was long dead, killed in Braavos by one of her targets. Bran was a Child of the Forest, lost to the realm forever. Rickon was killed in a shipwreck on his way home from Skaggo’s. That had hurt the most. She had allowed herself to hope for a moment, only to have it cruelly ripped away. Her mother and eldest brother, Robb, were killed at the Red Wedding. Her father, beheaded right in front of her. And now Jon, her sweet, loving Jon.
The end of the battle today marked the last of her family’s passing. Her only remaining blood relation had succumbed to the same fate as the rest of their family. Her cousin, the bastard brother she had once disliked, lay dying and it made her shake. They had been more then cousins. He was a Targaryen after all. He was her lover, her best friend, her supposed to be husband. He was her Prince and he would join the rest of their families instead of staying with her. Taking back Winterfell was supposed to be the end of things. They were supposed to rule together. They were supposed to be together.
She was told of his injury barely a minute ago. Maege Mormont, the Lady of Bear Island, had come to her with a look on her face that left no uncertainty on what had happened. Jon was dead. She knew it.
“He’s fading fast, my Queen” Maege whispered.
“Where?” She was ready to run. She would run as fast as she could to him, no matter how unladylike it was.
“The Godswood” Maege told her. She chased after her when she took off running to him.
She hadn’t cried, she hadn’t even let a tear fall, but she shook. Her entire frame trembled as the large woman led her to the spot where her beloved lay dying. The trail of blood that led to his body, lying under the Heart tree, made her think that he had dragged himself there.
She fell to her knees as she approached his prone figure. Someone had had the decency to cover him with a cloak. It wasn’t his cloak though, she could tell. The clasp was wrong. He was wrapped up tightly to keep him from trembling, but he trembled from blood loss, not cold. She grabbed his hand from under the cloak, squeezing it softly.
“Sansa” Her name was like a prayer on his lips. His watery grey eyes were searching for her.
“Leave us,” She whispered, looking to Maege. She didn’t want her to see her break. She couldn’t handle it. She was supposed to be strong. She was the Queen of Ice and Snow, the Queen of the North and of Winter. She was supposed to be strong.
She had to be strong for Jon.
“As you wish” Maege murmured, leaving them. She had no doubt that Maege would stay outside the Godswood, waiting for her.
She reached out slowly to cup his bearded cheek.
He was so warm, so alive.
“Oh, Jon” She sighed, tears finally blurring her vision. She blinked them away, focusing on him again.
“Sansa” He repeated.
“You’ll be okay, Jon” She whispered, caressing his rough skin, “You’re going to be okay, I promise”
“Not this time, love” Jon coughed. Blood splattered his chin and dribbled down it. He was too weak to even wipe it away. She wiped at it with the pad of her thumb.
“We’ll find a maester”
“Got me in the stomach, Sans” He coughed again. She knew that the stomach was the worst place to it. She knew that it was almost always fatal. But it couldn’t be now, not with Jon.
“Don’t talk like that” She admonished him, “Save your strength”
“Saved my strength” He coughed, “To see you”
“You’re going to be fine, Jon” She whispered again.
“Love you, Sans” He told her, gripping her hand weakly. She had never had a nickname before Jon. She had never wanted nor needed one. Sansa was her given name, a name she quite liked. But when Jon called her Sans, she loved it.
“Don’t you dare say goodbye to me, Jon Snow” She felt the tears slipping down her cheeks now. Her vision blurred as she sobbed openly. She felt Jon weakly pulling at her hand, trying to pull her closer. She obliged him, wrapping her arms gently around him, “We were supposed to be married” She whispered against his neck.
“Marry me,” He whispered, “Marry me, now” He coughed again.
“That’s not very romantic for a proposal” She tried to laugh but it was more of a pained sob.
“Need witness” He managed to tell her.
“Maege! Maege!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. The woman came running in, sword drawn.
“My Queen?” She questioned in confusion.
“We want you to witness our marriage” She told her breathlessly, “Please, Lady Mormont”
“Of course” The woman seemed startled, but she nodded. She took a step back, gesturing for them to continue.
“In the eyes of the Old Gods and our ancestors, I” His words were cut off as he coughed again, “I, Jon Snow, son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, do hereby swear myself to you. I promise to love, honor, and cherish for the rest of our life. I will love you forever, Sansa Stark, no matter where you are or where I go, I will always love you” He finished, coughing. He shook against her. He managed to untie the leather cord around his wrist, tying it weakly to her own. He always wore it for luck.
“In the eyes of the Old Gods and our ancestors” She began, pausing to take a breath to keep herself from sobbing, “I, Sansa Stark, daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, do hereby swear myself to you. I promise to love” She bit back her sob, “Honor, and cherish you for the rest of our life. There will be no other. I will love you forever, Jon Snow” She finished.
They just had to seal their marriage pact with a kiss. She turned from where she had buried her face against his chest, and pulled herself up to kiss his clammy lips. He was growing cold. He was leaving her.
He found the strength to lift his arm to tangle in her hair, holding her face closer to his as she kissed him softly. She tasted blood on her lips, but she didn’t care.
“I love you, Jon,” She whispered, pulling away to look into his grey eyes.
‘I love you more, wife” His lips quirked up in a pained half smile, and then his eyes seemed to fade. The light left them. His hand went slack, falling from her face.
“Jon?” She whispered, shaking his chest, “Jon, wake up”
But he wasn’t asleep. There was no breath from his chapped pink lips, nor did his heart beat beneath her palm. He was gone.
“Jon!” She screamed his name, “Jon, please!” She begged, “Please” She sobbed, collapsing against his still chest.
“Jon” She trembled, clutching his tunic in her hands.
“He’s gone, your Grace” Lady Mormont laid a heavy hand on her shoulder, “I am so sorry,”
“I know,” She whispered, reaching out to close his unseeing eyes. She would never see those eyes again, the Stark grey eyes that had belonged to Arya, her father, and Jon, “Everyone I love dies, Lady Mormont”
Hours later, when the enemies were finally all gone, she sat in her father’s old solar, staring into the burning fire. It licked at the logs, consuming everything she fed into it. Her guards stood vigil outside the door.
She was wrapped in Jon’s cloak. A guard had found it near the Great Hall. He must have discarded it during the fight. It was blood free, though it was soaked from lying in the snow all day. It was dry now, and it smelt of him, faintly. There was an essence of him, mixed with the scent of fire and snow.
Ghost hadn’t been seen since his death. She suspected that he would never return, that she would never see him again either, just as the dragons disappeared with his Aunt.
“Your Grace?” A guard poked his head in, “The Red Woman wishes to speak to you”
The Red Woman was a priestess of the god of fire, or something of the sort. She preached about light and R’hllor. Jon never put much stalk in it, neither had she. But the Red Woman had saved him from his brothers, so Jon had been in her debt. She had mostly stayed around Stannis, but that King had died moons ago from the cold.
The woman, dressed in red and seemingly glowing, slowly glided into the room. She always seemed to glide. She was like a shadow, slowly creeping in and blending into the room.
“My Queen” The woman bowed her head, “Apologies on your loss. I wish I could have saved him again”
“Thank you, Lady Melisandre,” She murmured, “But that is not why you are here” To the Red Woman, Jon’s death was a good thing. She would consider it the will of her god, the will of R’hllor, and it made Sansa sick.
“No” She shook her head, “I have come to offer you something. I have seen you in my flames, Queen Sansa, and I have seen what will become of you now that the Prince is gone. I have come to offer you a chance at happiness”
“By sacrificing me to your gods?” She bit back sarcastically. She did not want to die, not yet at least. She still had a duty to the men and women she had dragged up here, her people still needed her. She still needed to avenge Jon. The man who slayed him would have to be put to her sword.
“No” The woman shook her head, “But you will sacrifice yourself soon, and it will not be to any good use,” She sighed, “What I am about to offer you now will come with a price, but the price, I believe, is worth it”
“What is it?” She questioned, curiosity getting the better of her.
“A second chance”
“At life” The woman smiled, “I can rewrite it, I can fix the wrongs that have twisted this realm into never ending suffering. The White Walkers approach, my Queen, and we will fall with them. The entire realm will fall with them. It is too late for this life,”
“What do you mean?”
“The dragons were supposed to destroy the White Walkers. They were supposed to be the saviors,”
“Jon would be alive?” She whispered, not daring to believe it yet. It was too good to be true.
“And your family as well” The Red Woman nodded, “Tell me, your Grace, when did the realm begin to fail? What royal caused all of this pain?”
Her first thought was to King Robert, who had dragged them from their Northern castle and to the city. He was the beginning for her suffering though, not the entire realms. King Joffrey obviously was a terror, but the realm was long suffering before that.
“Prince Rhaegar” She spoke Jon’s father’s name quietly. He had run away with her Aunt, which led to Jon’s birth. He had caused the entire rebellion by stealing her like a wildling.
“Close” The Red Woman whispered, “But Prince Rhaegar was not the problem. He would have married your Aunt, a second bride, but someone stopped him. Someone acted rashly”
“King Aerys” She whispered. The Mad King had started it. He burned her grandfather and uncle alive, roasting them in their armor. He was the start of it all.
‘Yes, King Aerys” The Red Woman nodded, “And how do you suppose I could fix the past without altering too much of the future, your Grace?” The Red Woman was testing her, seeing if she was truly worthy of such great sacrifice.
She thought back to her lessons in history, to the battles and the political happenings just before the war began. She knew that Lyanna Stark met Prince Rhaegar at the Harrenhal tourney. She knew that a few months later, Lyanna was gone, Prince Rhaegar accused of kidnapping. She had to think back further though. What was said to have caused King Aerys to go insane?
“Duskendale” She sighed, “He would have to die at Duskendale or shortly after,”
“Between Duskendale and Harrenhal, yes. Good girl” The Red Woman cooed, “So, are you ready, my Queen? Will you accept this offer?”
“At what price?” She questioned softly.
“You will remember this life, Queen Sansa. You will remember all of it. But no one else will. By changing the past, your future will be changed. There will be no going back. There is no promise that this new place will be better. There is no promise that you will even exist, should your parents not marry. There is no guarantee that your Prince will” She hesitated, her eyes uncharacteristically gentle.
“Love me” She whispered, realizing what the Red Woman was getting at. A life without Jon would be devastating but a world where Jon loved someone else would be worse. But she had to do it. Because he would be alive at least. She didn’t have to have him, he just had to have his life intact, “He might not love me”
“I don’t care” She whispered, “He’ll be alive, as will the rest of them” She would forsake her love of Jon for the rest of her family. They had sacrificed so much for her, she could sacrifice this, or at least, she could try.
“There will be no going back, your Grace. You will wake up and life will be different. I will not be there to offer you any assistance at all”
“Where will you be?”
“My magic fades, Queen Sansa. After this, I will return to my creator,”
“Fades?” She questioned in surprise, “What do you mean?”
“Most of my power was given to save your husband from death at the hands of his brothers. Since then, it has only dwindled as I used it more and more. Magic always comes with a price, my Queen. Just as this magic will. I will give you until tomorrow to make your final decision”
And with that, the Red Woman swept out of the room, her red skirts billowing behind her.