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Prologue

 

I was born for this. I was born to fight battles. And this war, was particularly one that I wanted to win with everything I had. Which war was I in? A War of Words. A Battle of Wits. The enemy? Sansa Stark. The Princess from Music. Who was I? The Nerd from Theatre. I tried to woo her with cheesy lines from classic literature, while she would insult me in turn with cheeky lines from geeky movies, trying to get across our apparent "language barrier". Eventually, someone’s gotta give.

 


 

 

Jon

 

At first glance, I knew she was a classic. The one men would write about with reverence, one, women read about to emulate.

I almost walked towards her right away but one – I don’t normally do that. I was shit at talking to girls, especially one as beautiful as her. And two, the only line I could think about – if I could think at all at this point –  was a stupid ass cheesy line from Star Wars.

Talk about pathetic.

 “Are you an angel?”  I almost blurted out. And in my mind she’d say with an adorable pucker between those elegant arches, her baby blues shining with confusion, “What?”

 And I’d say that line about them being the most beautiful creatures in the universe from the planet of Iego and she’d go “You’re a funny little boy. How do you know so much?” And then we’d live happily ever after… in a galaxy far far away.

 Ugh.

 What did I say? Pathetic. And case in point with my first reason for not just going up to her.

She was absently toying with the rim of her mug with a long, delicate finger, before fishing out the tag that read she was having Earl Grey, bringing the mug up to her pink-red lips, her beautiful mouth puckering into an ‘o’ as she blew over the steaming tea before finally taking a sip, her eyes fluttering close as she hummed her approval, leaving me…

 …a quivering mess, eyes wide, mouth hung, throat dry.

 I burn! I pine! I perish!

 I blinked.

Now where did that come from? That was definitely Shakespeare.  From what play? I don’t remember right now when I had before. And quivering? I shuddered then cringed again for emphasis.

 Then I knew. Looking at her, all red and white and beautiful, she doesn’t deserve pathetic.

 She deserved, poetic.

 Just look at her.

 She had the sky in her eyes, the sun in her hair, and glowing stars on her skin.

 She’s a classic. I thought again.

 The way she held herself, how she dressed, how she had her cello in an elegant black case to her left, while she scanned sheet music from sheet music - everything. 

 A Music Major. That much was obvious. And it filled me with hope.

Being in the theatre program, I would be sure to see her in the same building. And then what Jon? Just casually bump into her? Say hi? Fuck, forget about channeling Anakin Skywalker. I’d probably just sound like fucking Chewbacca if I stood in front of her!

 I cursed inwardly. Theatre program and tongue tied. I was fearless on the stage but just plain sad in real life. Ugh.

 A tongue-tied Acting Major and all around film nerd.

Double Ugh. But then it hit me.

 “All the world’s a stage.”

 Why the hell not? Man up and do something Snow! For once in your life be the damn hero in real life.

Then as if possessed, I tore a piece of paper from my notebook, scribbled something in my most legible writing, and asked the barista to give it to her along with a vanilla cupcake telling her to be discreet.

I waited and watched as she looked up at the brunette barista who gave her my note and the cake with the most adorable confused expression that looked even better than what I imagined earlier. I ducked my head because I knew she would be looking around to see who could’ve sent her those and counted to five before carefully lifting my gaze back to her and saw that she was now reading my note.

I held my breath and broke into  a  smirk a little when I saw her cheeks turn as red as her hair.

 

 - Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!

For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night -

 

But my smirk vanished quickly as I saw her expression change from awe to…disgust. She sighed, frowning all the way towards the counter to approach that same brunette barista when suddenly her eyes lit up and her mouth curved upward slightly. I watched as she talked to the brunette who suddenly smirked before handing her a to-go cup and a marker. I watched as she wrote something on the cup and gave it back to the barista, exchanging a few words with her then walking with a blank expression back to her seat and her sheet music, vanilla cupcake untouched at the side.

“Ahem.”

I jumped at the voice and found the brunette – Margaery her name tag read, in front of me – holding a tray with three identical to-go cups.

She arched a brow at me before setting one down on my table without saying anything and proceeded to give out the other two to two more confused men.

Before I discreetly turned the cup to read, I saw that I had another message written on a napkin.

 

 - You owe me! – Barista M. - 

 

I looked at the cup and I knew this was the one she wrote on – the other two merely decoys.

So the decoys were care of Margaery to preserve my identity. Boy was she getting a huge tip from me.

I made a quick glance at the other two guys who were probably reading a random “Have a good day!” message on their free coffee before finally reading the message she wrote for me and I almost dropped the steaming cup as I read it.

 

Eyes wider, mouth hung lower, throat drier.

 

 - “I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand you warthog-faced bafoon.”

…Shakespeare is good, but I absolutely hate vanilla cupcakes. - 

 

I quoted Shakespeare for this classic beauty. And this same classic beauty just insulted me with The Princess Bride.

In that moment, I knew I was half in love with her already.

I snuck a glance at her and saw that she was eyeing the two other guys who received the same coffee as me. I recognized who they were right away.

 One was Doctor Tyrion Lannister from Philosophy who was busy grading papers. I watched as Sansa shook her head probably thinking that it couldn’t possibly be Dr. Tyrion. For one, he was happily married. Another, well, his foreign wife was a former decorated soldier from the Lyseni army, honorably dismissed of course but everyone knew she still carried a gun.

And the other guy was Loras-fucking-Tyrell. The Paris to my Romeo, the Lancelot to my King Arthur, and recently, the Fernand Mondego to my Edmond Dantes. Since freshman year we’ve been building a rivalry for parts, grades, sports, and… goddamit why was she looking at him like that?

My eyes twitched in annoyance as I eyed my princess, looking at the blonde Lothario with interest, maybe even approval.

I looked away and took a hasty sip of my coffee, savoring the bitterness. Of course she’d find him attractive.

Then I had a horrifying thought. What if she approached him? Oh Gods, he’d probably claim he did it. That’s just Loras for you. He’d do it. Anything to add to his conquests – no woman or man was safe when he’s determined to conquer. He wasn’t beneath getting his hands dirty. But then I realized I had to abandon that thought as she was now craning her head to look over my direction.

Then suddenly I felt like being watched.

And true enough when I raised my eyes I found myself staring into blue ones.

I tried to make it seem I was looking through her – staring at nothing in particular. Feigning absent-minded wandering. Mustering all the acting skills I had while trying not to be pulled by the magnet of her gaze, I decided to just simply take another sip of coffee and grabbed my phone.

From the corner of my eye I knew she was still staring and I was torn into giving myself away or keeping the charade. It would only take one tiny smile back at her or a show of my torn notebook.

 


 

Sansa

 

Day or Night.

It could only be one of them, the golden-haired one with the winning smile, or the black-haired and mysterious one with the brooding pout.

I blushed.

They were both very good-looking and one of them just sent me a note.

I blushed once more.

I’ve had drinks given to me, flowers and such before, some anonymously, but mostly straightforward. But a note…a hand written one at that, well, aside from the ones of numbers written on napkins or slipped in bills… I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten them.

At least not one like this.

I recognized the quote and my heart fluttered a bit. It wasn’t my favorite line. It wasn’t even my favorite play. But it was undeniably, Shakespeare.

And it started tugging at the girlhood fantasies – all the silly love songs I so desperately tried to hide away but then I saw the vanilla cupcake.

At the sight of it my mood soured.

A well-chosen famous line from a famous play and the daintiest looking dessert in the café… it all made sense.

I was seen as that girl again. No, not girl. Lady.

It’s not that I wasn’t anyway. A lady, I mean. But my love for manners and courtesies didn’t make up all of me.

I was more than just… someone you can bring home to your mom.

I was more than just a trophy… or a goddamn fucking challenge.  

I almost rolled my eyes as a montage of horrible exes invaded my consciousness.

Vanilla.

My frown deepened.

I was always vanilla.

I looked at the cupcake with both distaste and sadness. It was actually a pretty one, the white frosting made to look like petals while shiny pearl and gold sugar candies decorated the center.

Pretty, elegant, a time tested classic flavor.

I felt like Kimberly being told by Jules that crème brulee can never be jello in My Best Friend’s Wedding.  

That’s it.

It was time to be jello.

So I wracked my brain trying to find the wittiest, geekiest, line from one of the movies my older brother Robb forced me to watch every “RobSanDay Movie-slash-Series Marathon Night” since I was eight and tasked Margaery to play messenger again. If he gets the reference he’d either be really turned off that I knew about it and shatter all images of the mom-approved lady, or at the very least, he’d definitely reevaluate his image of me.  If he doesn’t then maybe he’ll just take it as it is, a diss.

But then of course, Margaery, the little sneak pulled that stunt with the three free coffee.

So far, neither Day or Night seemed to show any sign – no tiny clue to give either of them away.

The clink of a plate being set down on my table surprised me and I saw Margaery again, sliding a plate of cookies towards me while taking away the damn vanilla cupcake.

I raised my brows at her and she just shrugged and handed me another note.

“Just so you know… serving tables isn’t really part of my job. I’m just doing this for the generous tip I’m getting. So if you’re planning a reply, make it quick. Because someone is waiting to be served this gorgeous-yet-denied vanilla bean.”

My eyes narrowed. “Sure, then you’ll probably have time to get two more and give two lucky guys yet another freebie.”

She just shrugged and grinned innocently.

I groaned while I unfolded the piece of paper then and started reading.

 

 - She speaks;

O, speak again, bright angel! For thou art

As glorious to this night, being o’er my head

As is a winged messenger of heaven

(I apologize for the vanilla. Maybe peanut’s more your thing?) - 

 

Oh my God.

I looked at the plate of cookies. “Are these…?”

“Peanut butter oatmeal,” she nodded.

I didn’t know what to feel. He definitely got the reference… and judging from this note… he likes it.

It was disconcerting. I didn’t expect this.

“What’s wrong?”

I looked up at Margaery, my brows still scrunched together. “I don’t… he liked my reply?”

Margaery’s jaw dropped a little in disbelief before all out laughing while shaking her head.

I frowned.

She stopped then and smirked at me. “Oh sweetheart, what do you think?”

“I just dissed him!”

She nodded. “You did… but in a very very clever way that he obviously appreciated. Now he thinks you’re gorgeous, well-read, and…fun,” she winked.

I just stared at her, trying to process it.

She sat down across me and beamed, her eyes overly curious. “Sorry, I’m a very nosy person and it’s all terribly boring here. I know he sent you a Romeo quote. I’m still gushing over how utterly cute that was. But why did you send him that Wesley quote back?”

It was my turn to raise a brow at her. “You know the movie too?”

She snorted. “Please, I have two older brothers. One in drama, and the other in mass communications. I speak Monthy Python fluently too. The two movies are utter nonsense but they are hilarious. But boys are so incredibly easy to please. They eat those shit up.” Then she leaned closer and smirked. “And that’s why you got another letter.”

I was sure to be as red as my hair now, still I shook my head. “But…but he sent me vanilla.”

Her face puckered for a bit before her eyes lit up in understanding. “Oh. I see.”

I felt relieved. “Do you really?”

She giggled. “Well, you can’t blame him. The vanilla bean cake is the most pristine dessert in our café. We don't call it The Classic for nothing. He probably just wants to impress you. And you do look like a vanilla person.”

I cringed and almost let out a protest.

She laughed again. “Okay, maybe not. But he knows that now. You made it clear. In small words too. So…anybody want a peanut?”

I had to smile at that.

“There it is! Now how about that reply?”

I thought for a bit then sighed.

“Fine.”

But I won’t in any way make this easy on him. He may have swayed me a little I admit, but considering how exceedingly charming my exes were when they pursued me and how foolishly I fell for it each and every time only to regret it, I had to be guarded this time.

I took a blank sheet music and wrote my reply.

 


 

Jon

 

Margaery came back with the plate of the cursed vanilla after serving the other two the same complimentary dessert.

Compliments from me, as Margaery made it clear if I wish to preserve my anonymity. Why? I know she knows it’s either Loras or me and I don’t want to know if she would be disappointed if she finds out if it’s me. At least, not yet.

Damn fucking Loras.

And damn Margaery for choosing him as the other pansy.

“Hey, I don’t appreciate you glaring holes into my brother’s head,” she tsked.

I stared up at her with my mouth open. “What?”

She wrinkled her nose then lifted a corner of her mouth. “I thought you knew. He mentions you… a lot I might add. I’d have thought he would mention me.” Then she looked me over and full out smirked after. “Now I know why,” she purred.

I almost threw up.

She laughed. “Still, you better make good with your reply because Loras is starting to get suspicious and he did notice Red here. And I could tell he’ll want to try. Now imagine if he knew you thought the same too.”

My eyes widened in horror and I immediately started reading.

 

 - You seem a decent fellow… I hate to kill you.

(Good sir, first you dare insult me so with vanilla, now you attempt to poison me with peanut though I admit that was a better alternative in principle; if it was not your intention to kill me of course.) - 

 

If I was horrified before, now I was downright mortified.

“She’s allergic to peanuts.”

I glared at Margaery and felt my cheeks flare up. “I figured.” I snapped at her. Gods, I can figure things out of my own, woman. Do I look like someone who knows nothing?

She didn’t flinch, just merely cocked a brow at me. “Hurry up. I left poor Tommen manning the counter by himself. I’ll just go talk to Loras for the equal amount of time then I’ll come back to collect.”

 


 

Sansa

 

I bit my lip. Margaery took her time to talk to both guys and I still can’t figure out which one could’ve sent me the notes.

Both of them, Margaery commanded to write something down.

And finally, she came back now with a slice of s’mores pie and another note.

I ignored the pie and snatched the note at once.

 

 - Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide.

Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on

The dashing ricks thy seasick, weary bark.

Here’s to my love!

(Apologies once more, I did not know, and I know so little of you as it is. Yet I’d sooner die by your hand or mine than have you dead before I even learn so much as your name on my lips.) - 

 

I swear my knees almost gave out if I hadn’t been sitting all this time. This was Romeo's final words...

“I know right?”

My eyes shot up at Margaery who was fanning herself with her hand dramatically. “I’d swoon too, you lucky, lucky girl. Now give that guy a break and give him something.”

Damn it.

I refuse to give in but oh my.

Oh. My. God.

Without further prompting, I grabbed my pen again but then my phone rang.

Robb.

 “What’s up Robb?”

 


 

Jon

 

At the sight of her blushing all the way down to her swan-like alabaster neck, I almost groaned if I wasn’t already grinning madly from her reaction.

Fuck me.

She likes it.

But then I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to even as much as budge her but it was a start. I even expected that spark of determination in her eyes as she was probably thinking of another brilliant come back.

Then I saw her talking to someone on the phone, wrote hastily on a piece of paper, handed it to Margaery before going back to her phone and walking outside with it.

“She’s just making a call…”

I just frowned at Margaery then eyed the to-go bag she was giving.

I raised my brows at her.

“Your lady love needs to be somewhere after that phone call so she’s gonna have to take your reply to go as well,” she explained.

“What? Wait!”

I snatched the note and felt the floor leave me.

 

 - I just want you to feel you’re doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed.

(Before you die or anything, it’s Sansa). - 

 

Sansa.

 

I knew she had a lovely name to go with that lovely face. I grinned.

She told me her name.

“Come on, write now. She’ll be back soon and it’ll be too late to prepare two more to-go s’mores,” Margaery tapped her foot impatiently.

 

 


 

Sansa

 

When I went back to collect my things, Margaery was waiting for me.

She dangled a brown bag at me with a note stapled on top.

 

 - O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? - 

 

I rolled my eyes but I couldn’t keep the heat from flaring up my cheeks.

 “They’re lemon macarons this time,” Margaery she said in a sing-song voice as she dangled the bag in front of me.

I sucked in a breath.

Oh no.

Close. So close to nailing it.

I bit my lip then to keep from smiling like an idiot but bent down to write my final note. I suppose I should write my number now right?

Still…

He looks like a student here, an upperclassman most probably…

Well, although he’s already done a good job into making me want to swoon like an inane girl, I still can’t give in.

I eyed Day and Night again and I’d probably combust if either of them come up and whisper those lines in my ear right now. I mean, they were both ridiculously handsome!

But no, Sansa. You are stronger than this.

Joffrey was gorgeous. Harry too. Ramsay – mad as he was, had a jawline that could cut glass.

No.

I mean, I already gave my name! That was something already and he didn’t even have the decency to give his name or come up here himself.

No. He wanted to continue this game.

Then damn it, I’ll play.

I wrote on a napkin and grabbed the bag from Margaery before making my grand exit.

 


 

Jon

 

She left.

My heart was racing and half of me wanted to just fuck it and catch her but the other half wanted to see how long we could keep whatever this was up.

Insane, I have to admit but damn it if it didn’t spark something in me.

But of course it all depended on her reply if we are to continue this or not. So it depends on this little note if she ended it or not.

And suddenly I’m nervous.

“Come on, don’t be a pussy,” Margaery poked me.

I glared at her and read the note.

Moment of truth.

Did she or didn’t she?

 

  - The battle of wits has begun. When you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right…and who is dead. But for now, goodnight. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.  (It’s not my top choice, but it’s your one right choice today. Thanks for dessert). - 

 

I couldn’t keep from smiling then. She did allow this to continue! And I finally got her dessert right.

“She took the dessert, didn’t she?” I asked eagerly.

Margaery giggled as she nodded. “That, she did. And from that smile, she did so much more.”

She looked over my shoulder to read my note before shaking her head at me slowly. “Oh you are sooo in trouble. You have it baaaaad I can tell. And I bet she knows too.”

I swallowed.

“Better brush up on you literature, Romeo,” Margaery winked.

That I should.

Ah.

The course of true love never did run smooth.  

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Jon

 

"Sam! You've got to help me!"

 


 

Sansa

 

"Da-a-ny! You have to help me please!"

 


 

Jon

 

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down, tell me everything, Jon."

 


 

Sansa

 

"Sansa, you have got to calm your tits! And tell me everything. Tell me exactly what happened, who said or did what, where, and when. Spare no details. "

 


 

Jon

 

"Shhh!"

I shut up at once and tried not to glare at my best mate Sam who was clearly amused at my distress, trying his best not to laugh as he held a finger to his lips to shush me too.

As if I didn't get the message any clearer from Mr. Pycelle, the old, chronically cranky librarian.

When it was quiet enough, I let out a sigh and dropped my face on my hands.

"Why are you so stressed about this?"

I looked up at him and he clearly had a genuine look of confusion, as if everything was actually easy and he didn't know why I hadn't gotten it yet.

"It's been…three days. I haven't seen her around campus yet. And I've been back to Highgarden every day since," I admitted, and I wanted to slap myself for how whiny I sounded.

He looked at me with sympathy, but the amusement was still there. "Seven hells, you are keen."

"Okay, this was clearly a mistake. I'm going," I made to stand up but he hit my head with probably the latest Journal of Medicine.

"Pipe down, Jon. It's just…I've never seen you this way. Sit back down," he rolled his eyes. "Don't be such a drama queen." He smirked at his obviously bad taste joke.

I glared at him then relented, sitting back down and leaning back over my chair before letting out a deep breath, all the while rubbing my chin.

He gave me a moment before speaking. "So let's recap. In the middle of a coffee shop, you suddenly had the urge to just…send her Romeo quotes along with dessert you kept messing up. And she replied to each with lines from… The Princess Bride?"

I cringed. If he put it that way, it all sounded completely ridiculous. But I nodded anyway.

He blinked at me before all out laughing, earning a lot of hisses and shushes while I didn't hold back as I glared at him.

He bit his lip as he raised his hands up in surrender, shaking his head. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

I folded my arms across my chest, my mouth shut tight.

He clutched at his head and banged his fist silently against the table, trying to regain himself. "Oh Gods."

I raised a brow at him. "Are you done?"

He grinned at me and nodded. "Sorry, I shouldn't have laughed but you have to admit, that's pretty… unusual stuff."

I groaned then and drew a hand down my face. "I know, I know but it seemed…different that time. It seemed like a brilliant idea then."

Then I remembered her blushing face, eliciting one of my own.

"Although… I can admit it is sort of romantic."

My eyes shot up and he looked…proud of me even.

"Why Jon Snow. I didn't know you had it in you to be romantic," he smirked.

"I likely made an ass of myself, I realize now. But you don't have to be an ass about it, Sam."

He waved a hand in dismissal and kept his smirk. "I'm not. I'm actually proud of you. Was it hilarious? Yes. Did it have creeper feels? It does a little. But I do have to admit it was romantic. Truly."

I smiled a little. "Yeah?"

He nodded and punched my shoulder. "Well, your Juliet gave her name. Looks to me that she at least found you cute. And I have to give it to her to insult you with TPB lines. She sounds like fun."

I gave a half-smile. "She does." When she kept at it, I admit it kind of turned me on even.

"So what was her name again?"

My face lit up then. "Sansa."

At the mention of her name, Sam's face scrunched up and he was suddenly in deep thought.

"What?" I prodded.

He looked up and scratched his nose. "Does she…by any chance have long red hair?"

I gaped at him. "Yes."

His eyes widened then and looked at me briefly before he looked to his right, but still his face gave nothing away. It could still be a lucky guess. I held my breath all the same. "Does she…play the cello by any chance?"

My heart started picking up. "Well, yes! I mean, I think so? She did have one with her then."

He looked at me then and continued. "Blue eyes, porcelain skin, long, long legs?"

I was nodding strongly now, my body leaned closer. "Yes, yes, and yes!"

Sam was grinning madly now. "Well, she's behind you."

I almost fell off my chair when I jumped up and turned around. When I saw a glimpse of red hair outside the window, I darted behind the curtain and faced Sam, wide-eyed and slack-jawed.

Indeed, on the other side of the window, was Sansa, in all her red-headed glory.

Sam was trying and obviously failing at keeping himself from laughing as he covered his mouth with his hand, tears on his eyes.

"Sam!" I hissed at him. "Do you know her? And how long was she out there?"

He chuckled some more then coughed. "Well, she's in the ensemble with Talla, so I've met her. And she's been sitting on that bench, on her phone for maybe ten minutes already?"

I drew the curtain a bit and peered out.

It really is her.

She had her back turned to me but I'd recognize that long red hair anywhere. It was down today and flowing over one shoulder, exposing that alabaster neck and suddenly images of a creeping blush decorating that same neck flashed briefly over my consciousness. I pushed that base thought aside for now and focused.

She was indeed on the phone and whoever she was talking to, she was listening intently. And there it was, a glimpse of that adorable puckered brows when she turned her face slightly.

"Sooo…"

I jumped a bit and completely forgot I was with Sam.

Asshole was actually giggling.

I gave him a look.

"Hey now is that the way you get information from me?" He smirked.

I groaned and ran a hand down my face. He's right. He might be the bridge I needed.

"For starters, her name is Sansa Stark. She's what they call, a 'triple threat'." He said with air quotations and a shrug. Stark?  Triple threat?

Bloody fuck. If I'm right then, she's going to be even more out of my league. "You mean?"

He nodded. "Music, dance, and acting. But her focus would be her cello, according to my sister. And yes, she's one of the Stark Starks."

I let out a breath.

"Crazy smart too," he added. "Talla told me that rumor was, she turned down a Pre-Law scholarship in favor of the arts."

Well, damn.

He chuckled then rolled his eyes when he looked over my shoulder. "Typical."

"Huh?"

"I said, typical. The rare times you do get interested in women, they'd have to be smart redheads," he snickered.

But before I could process and retaliate, Sam's eyes widened. "Don't look now but your other best friend seems to share your type."

I turned around quickly and felt my blood boiling with irritation when I saw what Sam was talking about. Or rather, who he was talking about.

Goddammit.

 


Sansa

 

I bit my lip as I listened to my brother's fiancée on the phone, counting on her no-holds barred honest opinion after telling her everything.

"Answer me this first though." Oh no. I recognize that tone.

"Yeah?" I answered nervously.

"Was he hot at least?" she asked with that mischievous tone of hers before laughing.

"Dany!"

"Well?"

"Of course, I tell you my distress in detail and in length and the one thing you focus on is that," I whined.

"Aww, babe. Of course I listened and processed everything. I just wanted to know if the creeper shmoe that sent love notes to my Robb's darling baby sister was at the very least, fuckable for consideration." I could almost see the naughty grin on her face.

I sighed and said nothing. Thank the Seven I was on the phone so she wouldn't see how red I was.

"Come on, Princess. Give out the juice and I swear I'll give you my thoughts on the whole thing after," she pressed on, even using Robb's eternal nickname for me.

"Is it that important?" I sighed again.

"Of course it is. The future generation of the Starks depends on it. Robb and I will make beautiful babies, I'm just making sure you do too sweetie," she said dismissively. "Anyway, you did find out if it was Night or Day right?"

I bit my lip again and felt heat rising on my cheeks.

I did.

Accidentally anyway.

I remembered that I was halfway to my car after my grand exit when I realized I left my lucky pen behind. So I marched over back to Highgarden when I saw…him.

From the glass pane on the door, I saw Margaery poking a guy then pointing to his hand where he was holding…the napkin I wrote on.

I almost gasped out loud but I managed to muffle it as my hand shot up to my mouth. I gaped when I realized what I was seeing.

There with a momentary glare on his long handsome face that slowly melted into the most ridiculously attractive smile I've ever seen, dark grey eyes crinkling in the corners, long black curls out of place, clad in all black after reading my note, was…Night.

It was Night.

I didn't know why but the second he started looking up, I made a mad dash to my car, lucky pen be damned.

"Heel-llooo?" Dany's impatient voice broke me from the memory.

"Yes, I did," I admitted.

"So who was it? Damn it woman, do I have to wrestle every information from you? Day or Night?"

"Night, it was Night," I answered hastily. It wouldn't do to make Dany overly annoyed.

"Ooh. So…how'd you feel then?"

"Pardon?"

I heard her give an exasperated sigh from the other line. "How'd you feel when it was Night and not Day? Disappointed? Or Pleased? Did you have a preference before that?"

I didn't really think about it. Clearly from my past experiences, I wasn't really the best judge. Was I happy it was Night?

"I – I don't… I'm not – "Then suddenly all words left me when I saw someone making his way over.

At first it seemed like just a coincidence but when our eyes met, that same winning smile I saw before bloomed on his face and I knew he was making his way over here.

I blushed.

"Yes? Sansa? You were saying?" broke Dany's voice.

I jumped, my eyes never leaving his. "I'm – I'm going to have to call you back Dany. Something's…come up. Sorry, love you, bye!" I said hurriedly.

"What? NO! SANSA STARK, if YOU hang UP on me this second I'll –

I bit my lip and ended the call, sure enough to receive the dragon's wrath later. Oh Gods, I'll probably see her waiting in my room tonight I thought guiltily and maybe with a little fear.

I shut my eyes and internally groaned.

Then I felt someone in front of me. Oh Gods. I almost forgot.

I opened my eyes and almost gasped because right in front of me, in all his golden glory, with that bright big grin showing his pearly whites, his eyes a golden pair of ambers was no other than Day.

Now wasn't this a curious turn of events?

I mustered up a polite smile at him, trying to gain back my composure but this was all so very strange and he caught me in a weird confusing moment.

He ran a hand through his long fair hair, and gave a goofy smile. "Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt your call. But when I saw you I knew I've seen that beautiful face before and I just had to have a closer look and before I knew it, here I am."

I swear I felt tiny flutters at how smoothly he said that and how incredibly silky his voice was, but no Sansa. You've heard this all before.

I kept my smile but tilted my head at him. "And your verdict?"

His eyes brightened and for a second I thought I saw it flash with something but I didn't have time to process it when he suddenly leant forward, bending slightly to level his face with mine, his lips curled into a sharper smile and I realized he was close. Really, really close.

He shook his head, "Doesn't matter. Because looking at you from this close, I don't even remember my own name," he breathed.

I almost gasped but before I lost it all, I managed to lean back, cross my legs, arch a brow and fix him a smirk, never mind that I couldn't help the blush that I was likely sporting because…oh my stars! The old Sansa would've eaten that up and be all starry-eyed and swooning but no. I'm different now.

I said nothing, just kept looking up at him, even tilting my head to the side to wait for him to speak. If there was one thing I promised after getting out of Ramsay-fucking-Bolton's mad love, was that the next time I was really going to make them work for it. The next time, the I was going to have all the power.

That seemed to take him back a little but that sudden twinkle in his eye indicated he wasn't backing out.

Interesting.

He straightened up then and his face eased into an easy smile – the kind that probably charmed a whole cheerleading squad to spontaneously forget their routines and topple their pyramids. He chuckled and even his laugh sounded absurdly warm. "I do remember now though. I saw you in Highgarden Cafe a few days ago. Why I didn't do this then – just walk up and introduce myself there is an unpardonable slight. One I hope to rectify right now."

So he did see me then. Maybe I had it wrong? Maybe it wasn't Night after all? Maybe it wasn't my message he was reading?

I didn't know why I felt a tiny bit disappointed at that. Does that mean that deep down I actually hoped it was Night?

Taking advantage of my confusion, he started talking again. "There's no need to try and remember me when you don't," he chuckled. "Anyway, I'm Loras Tyrell," he held his hand out. Tyrell? Gods be good, they rule this damn place!

I shook my confusion away and reminded myself to be polite. "I'm Sansa St—" I made to shake his hand but he caught mine and kissed the back of it.

He was openly grinning at my clear surprise but before anyone can do anything, I saw my potential savior behind him approaching us.

 


 

Jon

 

Damn fucking Loras Tyrell!

I looked at Sam then, clutching at my hair, almost desperate. "What do I do, Sam? I can't just march over there!"

He looked at me at a loss for words then. I can't blame him. I was surprised at myself too. "Couldn't you?"

I looked back out the window and groaned when I saw him leaning too close to her then looked back at Sam helplessly.

"Hiya, brother!"

We both jumped at the sound of a high girly voice behind us.

When we turned to the voice, there standing in front of us, brown hair in a thick braid, clarinet in one hand was Sam's little sister.

At the sight of her, Sam and I shared a look before we both grinned at our would-be savior.

Her face scrunched up in confusion but her smile never left. "What? Why are you both looking at me like that?"

"Beloved sister of mine, the light in my life, the music to my ears – " Sam started.

Talla then grimaced, rolled her eyes, and folded her arms across her chest, minding her clarinet. "What do you want?"

"You know Sansa Stark right?" Sam asked.

 


 

Sansa

 

"Talla!" I exclaimed as I maneuvered away from Loras' looming stare and stood up to greet my friend.

Oh thank all the stars in the sky! Especially this one!

Talla grinned up at me as she hugged me back. "Hi Sansa! Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt," she eyed Loras then back at me all the while giving a too coy smile but her eyes said something else.

I almost snorted but that wasn't lady-like.

"No, no." Then back to my manners which I was losing steadily by the second, I made to introduce them.

"This is Talla, we're in the same program. And Talla, this is –

"Loras Tyrell," he interrupted then proceeded to kiss her hand too, earning a steady blush on Talla's face. I wanted to snort again.

But then a weird look came over Talla's features, almost as if she saw something in the distance that made her look back at me with a sneaky grin.

"Charmed," she said seemingly unimpressed after eyeing him up and down then sidling over to me, hooking her arm around mine. "I just need to borrow my friend for a sec. You don't mind, do you?" She looked up at him with deceptively wide innocent eyes.

I looked at Loras with a challenging brow and he shook his head slowly, unfazed at the slightest. "Go right ahead. I'm not going anywhere."

I turned around right away to hide as I swallowed and pulled at my friend until we were a little out of earshot.

I looked at her then and there it was. Plastered on her face was an evil look for someone incredibly small and dainty but I don't care. She saved me.

"My, my, Sansa. I am truly sorry for interrupting," she said measuring me.

I frowned and shook my head, letting out a breath. "If anything you saved me. But was that why you came? Was I in obvious need of saving?"

She laughed then and shook her head. "Hmm, well, not really. It depends anyway – but he's gorgeous! Why in the seven kingdoms would you want to be saved from that?"

I just stared at her and blinked at a loss then I repeated her words in my head. "Wait – what do you mean by depends?" I eyed her suspiciously. "And seven Kingdoms?"

Her smirk came back. "In a traditional sense, yes. Never mind. I came here actually not for you. I'm just playing messenger today," then she handed me…

…a page from a notebook.

My heart started picking up right away.

My hands shaking slightly from anticipation as I knew what to suspect what this was. So I took the letter from her, unfolded it, and began to read.

 

- I can listen no longer in silence.

I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.

You pierce my soul.

I am half agony, half hope .

Tell me not that I am too late… -

 

 

My mouth hung and I felt my whole body a-flush with heat, my knees going slightly weak. This – this confirms it.

It wasn't Day. Smooth-talker that he was, he wasn't this.

But wait.

Was this timing purely a coincidence?

And how did – does he know Talla or was that a coincidence too? Then I remembered the look Talla had a while ago.

Following my hunch, I trained my head towards the direction of her sight from before and my eyes narrowed at once at what I saw from the window of the library.

 


 

Jon

 

Panicking, I ducked right away below the window when I met her eyes.

Shit.

"Oh Gods," Sam exclaimed.

"Sam! Hide!" I hissed at him and kicked his chair.

He looked at me then only noticing now that I was on the floor, trying his damnedest to keep from laughing as he edged away from the window.

I glared at him.

"I think she knows…"

"No, shit, Sherlock," I shot at him. But he's right. She saw me. Now with Loras standing in front of her, it wouldn't be too hard to put two and two together. I meant for her to know it was me but I didn't mean for her to actually see me now. At this moment. Watching.

"Oh man, her eyes are narrowing at us and she does not look happy," Sam narrated.

I sunk on the floor and pressed my knuckles to my eyes and groaned. Now she most definitely would think I'm a fucking stalker when I meant to pass that note as a random, casual, thing.

Not an intervention from God damn Loras Tyrell. No matter that, that was what it really was.

"Why'd you have to signal to Talla? That's probably what gave it away. And fuck you, Sam! What would she think when I gave her an Austen quote? Why did you suggest that? Why did I listen? She must think I'm a pansy, all words and no balls" I grumbled.

"She was making eyes at him. I have to protect my sister too you know," he scoffed. "And so what if she knows? Now you can just walk over there and introduce yourself properly and convince her that you are not a stalker," he giggled again. "And Austen because you are desperate. And desperate times call for desperate measures and Austen is the key and – OH!"

"What?!"

"A gorgeous brunette is walking over towards Loras, could that be his current girlfriend?"

Brunette?

I got on my knees and took a peek and gasped.

"What?" Now it was Sam who was confused.

I couldn't answer him. Because this brunette could be my one true savior.

 


 

Sansa

 

I frowned.

How long was he… watching me?

I should be creeped out.

I should be very appalled.

Instead, I'm frowning because I wasn't.

Not really.

It actually… thrilled me.

A teensy, tiny, bit…

I bit my lip.

Still, it was very rude of him. Incredibly rude and incredibly flattering I have to admit. The audacity of him to interrupt whatever it was that I was having with Loras right now and with Jane Austen.

Jane Austen!

It was so very generic of me but I love Jane Austen. And Persuasion – boy did he really hit the nail on the head – Persuasion was my all-time favorite. And that line.

Why?

Why did he have to pick the one most romantic line in the history of classic literature?

When I looked up at Talla, she was curiously watching my every move. I'd have to interrogate her later but when I looked back at Loras, he was no longer alone.

Right in front of him was a frowning Margaery. Oh no. What if they're actually together? What if the reason she chose him as one of the three back at Highgarden was because he wouldn't question the free food she was giving him.

As if sensing my stare, Margaery faced me, looked down and saw me holding a piece of paper, and suddenly a knowing smile broke into her face.

She looped her arm around Loras' and pulled him towards us. I could only smile back unsure but I was suddenly nervous.

"Why isn't this wonderful! Sansa! I see you've met my brother, Loras," she greeted me with a half hug and a kiss on my cheek.

I hugged her back and pulled my face. "Brother?" Oh.

She laughed that tinkling laugh of hers and nodded. "Unfortunately. I hope he didn't have you fooled. Despite what others claim, I'm the charming Tyrell."

Loras rolled his eyes playfully and pinched his sister's cheek affectionately. "Now, now."

Margaery frowned at him and gave him a look that made Loras laugh and raise his hands in surrender.

I laughed politely and introduced her to Talla who was taking everything in.

Margaery shook hands with her then cut to the chase when she eyed the note I was still holding.

"Oh will you look at that. You got another one? So who would the well-compensated messenger be this time?" She gave a half smile while her eyes gleamed in mischief.

"That, would be me," Talla raised a hand.

I fidgeted while I looked at them both and then at Loras whose forehead was furrowed slightly while he looked back and forth from them.

"I'm missing something here," he chuckled.

Margaery raised a brow at me then. "Well?"

Well, the truth shall set you free. I sighed. "Yes, it's – it's one of those."

I had to step back a little when she suddenly clapped her hands together in glee. "Ooh!"

Then she looked at me, at Talla, then at a clearly confused Loras and her eyes widened even more as she probably figured out what happened here because that look that started growing on her face showed it all.

Eep.

She was trying to gauge me then as she looked at Loras and then at the note that I instinctively clutched tighter and farther away from her reach.

"Later brother. I think Sansa needs to be somewhere else but is just being polite, right Sansa?" she eyed me questioningly. "Or I could be mistaken and she's free right now…?"

I could hear the question in the air as my heart thudded madly in my chest like a ticking clock.

What's it gonna be?

I swallowed.

"Um," I started.

She looked at Talla then, "Talla, was I interrupting anything before I arrived?"

She shook her head, "Maybe?" she shrugged. "I just came up to give Sansa a message and meant to be off right away," she giggled.

Margaery was overly excited now. "You don't say. So in the middle of whatever these two were in, you just had to come in and give a message or was it just a coincidence?"

Talla's eyes lit up and she smirked at her. "Hmm, what do you think? And besides, I think Sansa has an idea too."

"Oh…?" Margaery beamed and looked at me then and I couldn't help frowning as they both confirmed what I was thinking before.

This note was meant to interrupt.

While it was flattering, truly, truly it was… what did he mean to happen? That his note would be enough to deter me from looking at Loras? Loras who had at least the guts to walk over and introduce himself?

And suddenly I regained myself.

Jane Austen be damned.

Persuasion.

Well, persuade me this.

I shook my head and gave my best smile and directed it to Loras' still confused one. "Actually, I was about to tell Loras my name when Talla came with a message of apparent urgent need – then you came over too."

With my free hand, I grasped Loras' and shook it. "Let me start over, please. I'm Sansa Stark, and I am sorry about the interruptions but I do have to reply to this message for just a second. Do you mind?" I asked sweetly, even tucking a strand of my hair behind my ear as I held his gaze.

He gaped at me in surprise but then smoothed into a cooler one. "Go ahead. Like I said, I'm not going anywhere right now. But maybe we could… later, I mean."

"OH!" Margaery clapped her hands again and we looked at her. "Marvelous idea! We could take her to see Grandma's roses after she makes her reply." She shot me a questioning look then while Loras briefly frowned at her but then composed himself into a smile as he nodded and waited for my answer expectantly.

My mouth almost dropped to the floor as I stared at her. So she was on his side. Why? Why was she so loyal to Night?

Talla snickered then and I looked at her.

"Is it really that urgent?" I asked her.

She bit her lip, thought for a while and nodded. "Desperately urgent," she beamed. "You should really reply soon."

I internally groaned. She was on Team Night too. Well, the upside is that, Talla, although we just met two weeks ago and we were starting to become great friends, I knew enough that she wouldn't feed me to the sharks. And Margaery chose him over her own brother so maybe I should forgive his offense and just be damn flattered.

I bit my lip and an idea bloomed in my mind. Well, he liked my disses earlier right?

I grabbed a post-it and started writing my reply.

 


 

Jon

 

"What's happening now?" I nudged Sam with my foot. He just narrated that the brunette obviously knew Loras though the nature of it, he couldn't tell, then he saw that she greeted Sansa as I expected. Should I tell Sam now that I know Margaery?

"She's writing," Sam answered and my heart sped up and my palms started to sweat with excitement, forgetting anything else but the anticipation.

"What's her expression? Is she smiling? Is she still mad?" I pressed.

"I don't know. Her back is turned to me… oh she just handed a note to Talla and she's – oh. Oh dear…"

"What?"

 


 

Sansa

 

I smiled at Margaery and Loras who were waiting for me, both carrying different expressions and I knew that one way or another, both of them would find a way to get me alone with one of them, and I had to bite my tongue to fight the cringe at thinking which was worse.

I shot a look back at the window and smirked as I saw and remembered why it came to this.

I was going to endure this.

I chanted all the while as the Tyrells each took an arm and flanked me with no means to escape.

It was all for another grand exit.

Your move...Night.

 


 

Jon

 

I snatched the note from Talla unapologetically. Too on edge to wait. And once again, as before, she scathes me so with her reply.

 

- Agony? Tis but a scratch. I've had worse . It's just a flesh wound. -

 

My jaw dropped and Sam burst out laughing when he read over my shoulder earning a round of shushes that he ignored.

"Monty – bloody – Python, oh Gods!" he said in between laughs.

Holy. Mother. Of. Dragons.

Then I looked out the window and froze when I caught her looking at me.

Our eyes met and held this time then after a beat she crooked a brow, and smirked at me before allowing herself to be towed away by Margaery and Loras to Gods know where.

Margaery looked back at me too and winked before giving me a thumbs up and a wave while nodding her head at Sansa.

I grinned.

All was not lost.

Margaery, bless her, for some reason, seemed to be on my side.

I'll make sure to double – triple even – her tips. Hell, Highgarden wouldn't need any other customer than me if this ended well.

But first…

There was no way in hell I'm losing to Loras Tyrell.

I turned to Talla then who was sitting down and smiling at me innocently but I saw the devilish look in her eyes – eyes that promised that she knows many many things – things that came with a price.

I had just promised her a new set of expensive hard to find reeds for agreeing to be the messenger. Now I fear what she would ask in exchange for everything she knew about Sansa Stark.

Well, if that's what it takes.

I looked back at her note and laughed.

The Black Knight always triumphs.

I smiled.

 

Chapter Text

Sansa

As discreetly as possible, I twisted my wrist a little to check the time and I almost frowned when I saw it was very late in the afternoon and I was still stuck with the Tyrells. 

Literally stuck as neither would budge with their hold on me.

It's not that bad. I thought. Margaery and Loras were lovely people.

…Never mind that they were very very openly flirting with me as we toured their famous garden which was every bit as enchanting as they said and they both kept me well entertained by making me guess what each flower symbolized. But as the afternoon progressed…so did the red on my face.

It started innocent enough with the lilies, the sunflowers and the different colored daisies. But then we got to the centerpiece – more of a garden on its own –  the famous Tyrell rose garden.

Loras plucked a rose with a coral shade and held it to my face. “Take a whiff. Don’t be shy,” he said so softly, his silky voice caressing his words that I automatically bent my face and sniffed.

I smiled as my eyes closed. It smelled sweet and wonderful. When I opened my eyes I had to hold back a gasp when Loras’ face was too close, his golden eyes matching the rows and rows of giant golden roses behind him.

But before he could speak, I felt a finger tugging my chin away to come face to face with another rose – peach this time. “I want you to smell mine too,” Margaery said with a pout.

This was really turning to be a rather stuffy and awkward afternoon.

“Please?” Margaery whined and I relented politely – awkward as hell.

When I opened my eyes I had the urge to back up and run. Both of them had let go of me but were now each holding out roses in front of me with expectant looks.

“Which one do you like better?” Loras prompted eagerly.

I looked back and forth between them, panicking. This was not what I signed up for.

Margaery looked me over and chuckled. “Oh dear. Look at her brother, we’ve scared her!”

Loras immediately offered an apology but his eyes held amusement. “Sorry. This wasn’t exactly the afternoon I had in mind for us. Us meaning sans my annoying sister.”

Margaery rolled her eyes and outright just decided to take out the thorns, cut the stem, and tuck the peach rose behind my ear. “Sorry brother. I guess we’ll just learn to share today,” she grinned.

“Fine,” Loras said with a long sigh before copying Margaery’s actions and soon enough, my other ear was adorned with the coral rose.

A shiver ran through my spine as this was getting…stranger by the second. I had to say something.

“The roses are so lovely. I’ve never seen any like these before and they smell amazing,” I tried to sway them back to neutral ground but looking at their faces, it looks as if every word I’ve said only fueled the mischief in their eyes.

Margaery reclaimed my arm with the biggest grin then. “Oh aren’t you a doll! I swear that by the time we’re done here, you’ll come out taking the smell of roses with you.”

I couldn’t help the gasp then.

Others take me. Did she just? Oh bloody hells.

I looked at Loras then and he nodded with a wink. That’s a Tyrell promise.” He then handed me another rose – a golden one this time.

“This, my lady, is the Tyrell rose,” Loras explained and I remembered that their coat of arms had this on it.

“Growing Strong,” I muttered reflexively, remembering the conditioning drills Septa Mordane had me go through relentlessly.

“Oh! She knows,” Margaery said gleefully.

I ducked my head but I felt fingers on my cheek again – Loras’ this time. “And yes. We are. Growing strong,” he licked his lips.

I bit my lip to keep from sucking in a breath then and looked at their knowing faces. I reigned myself in and tried to keep my face as passé but as polite as possible. “These two roses, I’ve never seen a shade like these two before and I’m afraid I’m coming up blank with guessing.”

“You’re so cute. If you stick around long enough, maybe I’ll tell you,” Margaery winked and somehow I got back some confidence as I looked up at Loras under my lashes.

“You’ll tell me, won’t you Loras?” I even added a little pout, my mind pumping fists in the air when he faltered a bit.

“Oh I’d like nothing more but I do want you to stick around a little longer,” he beamed.

I bit my lip again to keep from cringing a little at the prospect of staying a minute longer. Their flirting was a little too much. “Is it that bad?”

They just shared a look and gave tight-lipped smiles.

I’m in so much trouble.

I could understand Loras who was very direct from the start but Margaery... I knew what she was doing. What I was trying to figure out was why. 

"Beloved sister, aren't your services required at the cafe?"

I blinked and almost missed a step when I realized that we came to a stop. I looked at Loras who just spoke and his face was neutral, his golden eyes and that matching slight arch of his fair brow was willing his sister to take the hint.

I looked at Margaery then and she didn’t even flinch. With an elegant wave of her hand and a tinkling laugh she dismissed her brother.

“I took the night shift, dear brother. You won’t get rid of me until then,” she grinned again, her eyes shining with a challenge to her brother.

Before Loras could reply, Margaery suddenly pulled me and rested her head on my shoulder. “No way am I leaving you alone with Sansa. I saw her first.” She kissed my cheek and gave me another wink.

I gulped. I was sure to be as red as my hair for the nth time.

Loras stiffened for a second on my other side before leaning across me to tweak Margaery’s nose, his arm intentionally grazing my cheek while he laughed when she pulled herself away with a huff.

“Oh Marg, I was there too. I might have seen her first,” he grinned cockily while backing away slightly to avoid Margaery’s swipe.

Oh Gods be good! This ‘her’ is here! Right here!

I looked at them back and forth before deciding to speak up. “Um...”

Wow Sansa. ‘Um?!’

They both regained themselves and looked at me then, their flirty smiles back on like a switch. I gulped again.

Loras shifted his expression into one that was apologetic. “Do forgive our behavior, Sansa. We were being rude. We’re really not this boorish… If you’ll let me, I’ll try to convince you that I’m anything but. Not to brag or anything, but I have been called out for being very considerate. So what do you say I start with my mission over dinner?” he said smoothly, ending with that winning smile again that I knew the old Sansa would swoon at.

Not to be outdone, Margaery squeezed my arm to get my attention, tugging me so close that I stumbled slightly into her when I wasn’t fast enough to react. For someone shorter than me, she was strong. “Or…” she dragged out, “You let me convince you instead?” she batted her lashes at me.

Seven hells.

I felt another tug from the other direction and felt Loras’ hand rubbing at my arm as he unleashed the full effect of his gaze at me, raising goosebumps that I couldn’t figure out if it was the…pleasant kind or the exact horrifying opposite. “Thanks sis, but I think I’d do a better job.”

I was praying so hard for the ground to open and just swallow me and cursing myself at the same time for following these two just to spite Night. This was so not worth it. It’s terribly flattering but I knew Marg was purposefully doing this to get Loras off my case for damn Night.

Night. Damn Night.

And damn Margaery Tyrell for championing Night.

I didn’t know I was praying and cursing so bad for something to happen when I was finally rescued.

“Wolf-girl! Thank the Seven I found you!” came my knight in shining armor.

I pulled myself from the Tyrells, turned on my heel, and practically jumped into my savior’s waiting arms.

“Uncle Renly!” I hugged my favorite person in the world right now, holding on to him as he spun me around, kissing my cheek soundly before setting me down.

“For the love of the Stranger, do not call me that. You make me sound like an old man and I am not your uncle,” he faked a grimace before breaking into my favorite grin.

Renly Baratheon is the youngest brother of Uncle Robert Baratheon, who was my father’s law firm partner, each other’s biggest political supporters, and his best friend since childhood, and because of this Renly was a constant presence in our house. He was a year younger than Robb and they’ve developed a healthy rivalry over the years. They were close but he was my best friend and I was his.  

And he was also… the object of my childhood fantasies – a fantasy that still comes up once every Christmas to my complete embarrassment, care of my beloved family who never let me forget the day six-year old me asked him to marry me.

But who can blame me? He’s tall, dark, and handsome. Not to mention, extremely nice and also…extremely sexy.  

Too bad it would never work.

“Sorry! I’m just really, really happy to see you,” I added the last part in a whisper with a desperate look that he caught, his eyes twinkling with knowing.

He smirked at me then but before he could say anything, his eyes caught something – or rather – I almost sighed in knowing – at someone.

I guiltily looked back at Loras and Margaery, an apology at the ready, but – oh come on! – by the looks on their faces, a meteor could crash on my head and they wouldn’t notice.

Renly let go of me then and elegantly stepped forward, dragging a hand over his long midnight hair, his green eyes glinting as he eyed them, his mouth curving into that damn half-smile.

Gods. I’ll just make the introduction then drag Renly away before this gets… weirder.

“This is Renly Baratheon, my uncle in principle. Renly, this is –

“Margaery Tyrell,” she was faster, batting her eyes and slipping her hand effectively in a grip with Renly’s.

Gods.

“And I’m Loras Tyrell,” not to be outdone as he all but pushed Margaery’s hand away and replaced them with his.

Oh.

I caught myself from smirking as I saw the hot exchange of their eyes.

Maybe we can all win after all.

“My, my, you do rather keep beautiful company, my dear,” Renly raised his brow at me. “I do hope I wasn’t interrupting anything.”

“Of course not. The more the merrier,” Loras dismissed, his velvety voice coming back as he eyed us both. “My sister and I were just giving the most beautiful freshman a grand tour of our garden. A beautiful thing like her must always be surrounded with beautiful things,” he then gave him a once-over. “But I guess, she has it covered after all,” he smirked.

I snuck a glance at Margaery to avoid the two who were probably halfway done with their eye-fucking, and saw her contemplating something.

Then suddenly her eyes snapped at the two and back at me and her face broke into a naughty grin. Since the two were obviously busy, Margaery sidled up to me and easily pulled me away some distance.

I was about to call her out but she shushed me with a finger.

“Damn girl, that is one hot piece of ass! Before anything else, are you dating him?”

I quickly shook my head and held back a snort. “No. I’m not his…type, unfortunately.”

She caught it and sighed before shaking her head. “Seven hells.”

“What are you doing?” I blurted out.

She arched a brow. “What do you think?”

“Why are you helping…him?” I crossed my arms.

She smirked then leant her face so close to mine that I had to step back. “Oh, what makes you so sure I did it entirely for him? I might also think you’re a hot piece of ass too.”

I felt the blood rush to my cheeks then and shook my head. “Stop it.”

She laughed then gave me a cheeky grin. “It’s not that I don’t like the idea of you and Loras. You two would look ridiculously and nauseatingly adorable. But…” she shrugged. “But I think you should give the other bloke a chance. And I’d also like for someone to at least resist Loras. Make him humble a bit.”

I nodded my head at the preoccupied Loras and Renly. “I don’t think he’s thinking about me right this second.”

Her smirk deepened then. “Oh but he will. If you and your dashing…uncle are willing to share, he’ll think about you, and him, and both of you.”

Seeing my scandalized expression, she gave one last laugh before marching up to the two.

“Loras, we should probably leave this two to do their business. Grandmother would be expecting us now that we’ve come all this way,” Margaery looped her arm around Loras’.

Loras sighed and shook his head before looking at me and Renly who had somehow stepped back beside me. “I suppose we are expected. I do hope you can excuse us for now. But maybe I can catch the two of you later…? Or some other time? Or at least one of you?” his smile growing slowly on his face, eyes burning.

“Sansa will be around for school. And I…can be persuaded…just not now I’m afraid. I do have business with this Wolf-girl,” Renly winked.

I gave a fake laugh as sincere as I could while I took Renly’s hand and gripped it tight. “We’ll see you around guys. It was nice to meet you Loras and you do have the loveliest garden. Thank you both for showing me around,” I said with a smile.

“Anytime,” Margaery winked before steering her brother away who only left after giving my hand another kiss and a knowing look at Renly who winked back at him.

I gripped Renly’s hand tight enough to make him wince.

To his credit, he hid that through gritted teeth. But before he could reprimand me, Margaery shouted from her shoulder.

“Oh Sansa, coral means desire, and peach means desire and…enthusiasm.”

I gaped at their retreating backs then I heard Renly all out laughing beside me.

I smacked his chest and began to pull out the rose on my left ear, blushing all the way. I made to pull out the other but Renly took that one out and wrapped an arm around my shoulders.

“A hundred golden dragons say that they knew exactly how innocent you are,” he said, struggling not to laugh.

“I’m not that innocent,” I grumbled. “But what are you doing here?”

“Oh I think you know why,” he bent to tickle the tip of my nose with the rose he was holding – peach – I noticed but then I stilled when I realized I did know why he was here.

My mouth hung and dread crept up my body. “She-she’s in my apartment, isn’t she?”

He looked sympathetic then and nodded.

I groaned.

“You did bring this upon yourself you know. Hanging up on Lady Dragon? Tsk, tsk,” he teased. “That and not telling me first.”

I ignored his last statement as I dropped my face to my palms. “So she sent the balm before the burn.”

He laughed and brought my closer while he kissed my head. “Come now. You know I’ll be there during as well as after. But before that, how are things with you and your Romeo?”

I looked up at him then. “How much do you know? Did she tell you everything?”

His brows shot up and waited. Of course she did.

“Please have mercy. After an afternoon of enduring the Tyrells and their garden of innuendoes, and before I face the pyre, please please don’t – just don’t,” I pleaded.

 He looked at me and I gave him my saddest expression which quickly reverted to a happy one once I had him.

“Hey, you know I’m always on your side,” he winked. And he was. My brother and my father spoiled me to no end but Renly sided with me with everything – the good, and the bad. All my mischief started and ended with him. “So, how about we take the long path while you tell old uncle Renly about this boy you call Night.”

I sighed and nodded, my mouth quirking up when he called himself old and uncle. “Okay oh and by the way, Loras? He’s Day.”

His eyes perked up and he guffawed. “Are you sure it wasn’t Day who sent you those notes? Oh and by the way, good job, getting his attention. I mean, damn.

“Pretty sure. Because, Margaery? She’s the barista,” I grimaced.

His brows scrunched up before he cracked up and I couldn’t help but laugh with him.

“The plot thickens,” he shook his head.

I nudged him then. “You did okay yourself you know. Unleashing sexy Bambi on them.”

He grinned cockily accepting his pet name, but his cheeks colored briefly. “That’s nice Wolf-girl. But now’s not for me but for you and I think you better start from the beginning and maybe I’ll forgive you about not telling me first.”

 


 

Jon

My mind was still absorbing all that we’ve managed to extract from Talla’s iron-clad lips. I told Sam that if there was one Tarly that could match his father’s ruthlessness, it was her. She should be the one who inherits Heartsbane.

After a few hours in the library bribing, negotiating, and yes, maybe even some begging with Sam’s sister, we were able to learn something about Sansa Stark.

Most important of all the information we gathered was that she was single.

Single

Unattached.

Not engaged.

“But she did just get over a very bad breakup,” Talla said, her face perfectly unreadable.

“With whom? And how long?” Sam asked and Talla took a moment to study as both before giving the tiniest shrug, her lips sealed tight.

I groaned and spread my hands. “Come on Talla. You have to give us something more than that.”

She just blinked at me and raised a brow, her mouth forming into a frown. “You promised I didn’t have to tell something that’s personal. You told me you just wanted to know the basics.” She looked at me feigning a look of confusion and innocence. “You said, ‘the rest I’ll want to learn on your own’,” she said in a near perfect impression of me.

I felt guilty then. I did tell her all that. But she can’t just drop a bomb like that and not expect us to –

“Listen, Talla,” Sam started.

Talla rolled her eyes and started to gather her things. “Fine. I won’t get into the details but she’s been single for months. The breakup has her hating men and she’s been saying no ever since. And I tell you, she’s said no too many times since I’ve met her. It was my first time to see her be nice to a boy today. And I can’t blame her. Loras Tyrell is one sha-“

Before she could finish that sentence, Sam leant over and clamped her mouth with his hand. “If you value my sanity, sweet sister of mine, you will not finish that sentence.

As I watched them bicker absently, my mind raced at what she said. If that’s true, then I really do have my work cut out. No wonder she kept with the rebuffs. So what did I learn?

Basically, she was a freshman, a music major, honors student since birth, recently single and apparently, had it out for male blood after a string of unfortunate exes.

And of course, being the daughter of Senator Catelyn Tully-Stark and equally formidable, ex-Governor Ned Stark who was also half of Stark & Baratheon Law wasn’t intimidating at all.

I was pulled from my thoughts when I heard Sam call my name.

He gave me a smirk before nodding at Talla who was giving me her best poker face, her hands fiddling with her clarinet.

“I said, we were about to head out. Are you coming with or staying?”

I thought about it and shook my head. “I think I’ll stay for a while.”

“See yah, Jon. Don’t forget my reeds and my shiny new stand. Anyway, if she doesn’t like you, it’s probably a compliment of some sort. I met her brother and he said she has the worst taste in men. Prolly doesn’t like good pretty boys,” Talla simpered over her shoulder, “But then again, that was her brother’s opinion,” she gave Sam a look, who in turn rolled his eyes to which she answered by sticking her tongue out before leaving.

Sam called out to his sister to wait for him outside, before looking at me sympathetically.

“Sorry, Jon. But in all fairness, we should’ve just tried google or facebook first,” he chuckled. He was right. Everything except the man-hating information, we could easily look up.

I sighed and grimaced. “It’s fine.”

He looked at me funny.

“What?”

His brows scrunched up. “Well, you’re really attracted to this one, huh?”

I managed a shrug as I brushed my hair back, barely managing to catch myself from smiling.

Sam shook his head and chuckled. “By that rather sheepish dopey look you have, no more words needed.”

Seven hells. Sheepish?

I cringed then waved him off. “Bye Sam.”

He laughed before finally setting out. “Seven blessings to you Jon.”

I looked out the window while I gathered my thoughts, staring holes at the bench Sansa sat on.

Attracted.

Yeah. I was definitely that. But attraction seems like such a… superficial thing from what I was feeling…

“Jon?”

I almost jumped out of my skin but quickly composed myself to face no other than Talla once more.

She smirked at me and mumbled an apology. “Didn’t mean to scare you, I just forgot my sheet music.” She said while waving the Filofax in the air.

Wait.

Was that even there before?

I looked up at her and raised a brow.

Her eyes glinted before raising a brow of her own in challenge.

She caved first with a laugh before turning around to walk away.

I rolled my eyes at her back. Either she would tell me or not.

“Behind all that ice is a hopeless romantic just like you,” she said over her shoulder.


“Pardon?”

She shrugged and sniffed in the air. “Or not… it’s just an observation. I’m just going by the songs she plays on her downtime… which is usually at night – by the balcony of her very posh and very exclusive townhouse.” She wrinkled her nose. “I could be wrong,” she shrugged. “Who knows?” She then glanced at me and winked before finally leaving.

My heart started to pick up as thoughts filled my head while I took all that was said.

And just like that my day turned up.

Thank the gods for Talla Tarley, my new favorite Tarley!

 


 

Sansa

As soon as I felt the cool night breeze hit my face as I stepped out my balcony, I started to relax. I shrugged off ny coat and let welcomed the cold as memories of blushing nonstop with the Tyrells and facing the dragon's wrath afterwards I badly needed the cool down.  

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, my arms braced against the railings, relishing the silence – or rather the absence of talking.

I frowned just as I felt my head throb a bit from the royal inquisition I got from Dany a few minutes ago. Thank goodness Renly was there to buffer! But then, now that I think about it, it wasn’t that bad.

Dany was just really really excited for me. For finally talking to a boy, or for holding my own – I wasn’t sure. Maybe both.

“I love this new side of you! Take charge, take control, and take what you want this time.”

She praised and encouraged me, to which Renly agreed to with his own appraisal. And it made me feel a little bad that the way they were very enthusiastic with how I handled things now – it made me think of how much I’ve neglected myself with my previous relationships.

But then…

“Of course we’re going to have to investigate Mr. Night,” Dany said while giving Renly a look.

Renly nodded at once and grinned. “Already on it.”

And before I knew it, the two of them left me to do their research with a promise to show the results by breakfast. Results that would likely involve everything about Night from his birthday…to his birthday suit.

I reddened. Shaking scandalous thoughts away, with a sigh I opened my eyes, scanning the night sky for some peace.

And of course, night sky – seven hells! We’re back again to adorable curls and dark eyes. Gods.  I rolled my eyes at myself then I chuckled when I remembered seeing him duck in panic when I caught him staring from the library.

Not as smooth as your words, aren’t you Night?

I smirked.

“So…you’ve met Day. And everyone including his sister is on Team Night. Now that we know that it was truly Night who was flirting with you with mysterious love notes, are you pleased? Disappointed?”

I bit my lip, unsure.

Loras was gorgeous and charming. But…

Every time Night is mentioned I kept going back to that day when I saw him first – all brooding and quiet in a corner of the café…but then that moment when his face broke into a grin as he laughed with Margaery while they discussed my note… I felt…something.

I shook my head and forced all of those thoughts away. If he was truly serious, he would have to prove it a lot more. I won’t stress myself over this. No. Not this time.

I blew some hair out of my face and rested my cheek on my palm while I leant against the railing.

I needed a distraction.

I checked my watch and smiled as I remembered my schedule.

I straightened up, retreated to my room and went back to the balcony with my cello.

 

 


 

Jon

Townhouse…posh... There was no other place but Oak Wood Villas…

I looked at the rows of widely spaced ostentatious detached townhouses and knew that this villa housed...the more privileged students and some professors. There were others but Oak Wood was the most ridiculously “exclusive” one.

 I knew because I lived in one of them – care of my suddenly very present father and my suddenly very accessible trust fund.

I rolled my eyes at that.

After being absent for more than two decades I didn’t need nor want anything from him but the man was damn persistent. Fine. I told him. I’ll use your guilt money then.

Well from the pleased grin he gave – my desired effect backfired on me.

“Please! Go right ahead. But do remember son, it’s just not my money I’m offering you.”

I fully frowned at that.

Yes, I’m using his money…from thousands of miles far far away from him.

Just as my mood soured, my ears perked up.

 

I stiffened and held my breath. Closing my eyes, I strained to concentrate.

 

I heard it again and my heart all but leapt from my chest as my eyes opened wide training upward.

 

Cello.

 

That was definitely a cello.

 

I almost ran half nervous and half excited as I followed the sound, my heart picking up as it got louder and clearer.

 

Bach.

 

This was Bach.

 

It could be anyone. The Reach did have an impressive music program…

 

But I have an unexplainable feeling that this music was hers.

 

I followed the music and my already racing heart faltered a bit when I passed by my own place.

 

Suddenly the music started to grow softer and slower.

 

I looked around praying that I haven’t lost my chance when I heard it again.

 

Wait.

 

I stopped dead in my tracks and thought when I finally saw it.

 

Nearly at the end of the block was the two story townhouse painted blue and grey bearing two banners – a grey direwolf and a silver trout. House Stark and House Tully. How have I missed this? How in the world? I mean, my own place was just across… so how? But I shook off that thought when I finally looked up and saw her.

 

She was breathtaking.

 

Her long red hair was loose and down, most of it cascading over her shoulder, some swaying with the midnight breeze only proving how silky they might feel to touch. Her fair skin glowed under the moonlight – my eyes could only drink so much of the sight when I was pulled to notice that I was seeing more than slivers of her opal skin – more as I traced from her long neck to her almost completely bare arms from the short sleeved yellow dress she wore under her large coat before, to her small hands and her delicate fingers working the strings of her instrument – I swallowed – her cello that was nestled in the cradle between her long white legs that were revealed by her hitched skirt as she accommodated the large instrument. The way she had her arms and legs around the suddenly obscene instrument, I had to look away in shame from my thoughts of wanting to take her cello’s place.

 

 But I couldn’t.

 

I couldn’t for the life of me, look away.

 

So I finally looked up her face – something I’ve been delaying because I knew that if I did – that was it.

 

And I was right.

 

If she was beautiful before, she was downright exquisite right now – if not divine. Her face was relaxed – serene – completely enraptured with her playing. Her eyes were closed, her full lips slightly parted.

 

I could see that she was playing but I couldn’t hear the music – couldn’t hear any sound – couldn’t even move – completely dumbstruck and fascinated.

 

She stopped playing then and opened her eyes. In a moment of panic, I pressed against the wall under her balcony.

 

I held my breath and counted, praying to the old gods and the new that she would go back to her room so I could sneak away but at that thought I felt my disappointment growing. I didn’t want to leave just yet.

 

And then I heard it again.

 

She started playing once more and from what she was playing, what Talla said suddenly made sense.

 

I closed my eyes as I listened with a smile on my face while I sang along in my mind.

 

There’s a saying old says that love is blind

Still were often told, seek and ye shall find

 

Talla was right. I was too with my first impression now that I think about it. Sansa was a romantic and this song said it all.

 

She just wants…

 

That’s it.

 

Feeling all sorts of compelled, I ran to my house and grabbed my guitar, and back under her balcony in record time just as her song ended.

 

Won’t you tell him please put on some speed?

Follow my lead, oh, how I need,

Someone to watch over me…

 

 


 

Sansa

 

As soon as I finished playing, I hugged my cello a little closer as I looked up at the moon. The moon was silver and full…and constant.

 

It didn’t take that long for me to make a habit of playing after hours. But it always made me a little happier to play when the moon was full. I shook my head and sighed at how silly I sounded but then again, maybe it was the wolf in me. I rolled my eyes. Father would love that. He always sought to find something of himself in me and often joked that I was completely my mother’s daughter. If only he knew how much I like silence as much as I like music too. Knew how much I loved the cold as much as I loved warmth too. I loved warmth but the best ones came from their embraces on a cold cold night.

 

Gods, I miss them.

 

I sighed and closed my eyes once more, plucking absently at my cello the chorus to Gershwin’s song – feeling like Julie Andrews in Star!

 

It was true.

 

I may not have the stellar record when it came to relationships but I gave myself to each one. I just wanted someone who wanted me for me and nothing else.

 

Not my body.

 

Not my name.

 

Not my image.

 

Not my –

 

I jumped at the sound and gasped, my eyes wide in alarm when I heard something.

 

I knew I was alone – I made sure of it. I even made sure to get the furthest house in this villa because I wanted to be able to play in peace!

 

My palms started to sweat as my heart threatened to leave my chest while I looked sideways but when I heard the music – guitar – it would seem, I calmed down a little when I recognized the tune.

 

Moon River.

 

I gaped and felt heat jolt up my face. Whoever this was – answered my song somewhat.

 

Moon River.

 

A song about the idea of romance.

 

As much as I hate to admit it but everything about this made me weak. Audrey Hepburn. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Night time serenade…

 

I bit my lip as nervousness and yes, some excitement I couldn’t deny it – shot through me when images of Night assaulted my thoughts. Night. Wait – it could be Loras – or any other but still – the possibility that it was him… as much as I was annoyed at him and the game we were playing… a tiny part of me wondered.

 

C-could this be?

 

I didn’t know what I should be feeling about that but the music – his playing was…sweet and endearing… and I just want to sit back and listen…or join in…

 

So after wringing my hand and biting my lip – taking one last look at the silver-blue moon and the winking stars –  I decided to take a leap of faith.

 

I let go of my cello and rested it on the ledge before scooting my chair closer to the railing and resting my elbows on it before I opened my mouth and decided to join in.

 


 

Jon

 

My hands were trembling slightly as I closed my eyes concentrating on playing while my body was leant on the wall under her terrace. It was a while since I’ve played. A really long while but I thanked the gods old and new that I at least knew this song.

 

Mother loved this song.

 

I always complained whenever she made me play this – which was almost every other day. But she always said that one day I’ll thank her for this when I find someone else who’d pester me to play this over and over too. And I would cringe at my mother all the time but play anyway while she laughed. My heart constricted at the memory but I pushed it away so I could focus on not embarrassing myself by making a mistake.

 

I almost stopped when I heard her gasp – probably alarmed at the intrusion but I kept on playing as well as I was able when finally I heard her sigh and then…

 

Two drifters, off to see the world…

 

I almost stopped again when I heard her singing – I gaped but then forced myself to recover quickly – and play with even more determination.

 

Seven hells, her voice!

 

And I thought sadly that it was a shame that this was such a short song.

 

Yet I couldn’t keep from grinning in victory.

 

Thank you mother! I’ll never doubt you again.

 

I strummed and gave it my all – half anxious, half excited at this development. What do I do next though? The song was about to end…

 

We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ‘round the bend

MY huckleberry friend, Moon River, and me…

 

 


 

 

Sansa

 

I opened my eyes as the silent pause filled the air when the song finally ended.

 

I felt…happy but now that there was silence that hung between us, some of the nerves came back steadily growing.

 

As the silence stretched on – thinking that he probably didn’t think things through about what to do next – my heart melted a little bit at the possibility that he heard me play…got caught up in the moment and…did something spontaneous…

 

Still it didn’t excuse the possibility that he was stalking me if he was who I thought he was…still…

 

Still it was too silent.

 

Ah.

 

I can’t bear it!

 

So I grabbed my cello once more and started to play again with a little smirk.

 


 

Jon

 

I realized that I let the silence stretch out too long. I mean, what did I expect would happen right? That she would know what to do next? I was lucky that she didn’t call security on me yet. I was about to play another song but came up with nothing but The Doors that I almost ended up singing Hello, I love you won’t you let me jump in your game?

 

But as always, she was the smart one in our game when I heard her playing. I had to grin and shake my head. Even with her playing she manages to give a good comeback.

 

I chuckled while I listened to her play The Sound of Silence.

 

And we’re back to our game.

 

So what do I do next?

 

I ruffled through my bag and fished out my notebook.

 

 


 

 

Sansa

 

Nothing?

 

I wrinkled my nose, trying to push away my disappointment when I finished the song and got nothing from him.

 

I sighed thinking he probably used this time to make his escape yet again. I mean really, what did I expect?

 

For him to climb the trellis up my balcony?

 

I felt my cheeks redden as I took a huff of annoyance at myself while I stood up. As I was about to turn around and walk back to my room I heard something.

 

I looked to where I heard the sound and my heart picked up at what I saw on the floor near the side of the railing…

 

A paper airplane.

 

I blushed again and couldn’t help the gasp that came out of me.

 

Slowly I knelt beside it and with shaky hands – from what? – I began to unfold it instructed on the wing.

 

It was Night.

 

It really was.

 

I’d know this messy handwriting anywhere now after reading and re-reading all his notes…

 

Once I was done unfolding I began to read.

 

 

But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and thou are the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief

That thou, her maid,

Art far more fair than she!

(Sansa, hello.)

 

It was a good thing that I was already on my knees because for sure it would give. And now we were back to Romeo.

 

I bit my lip and couldn’t help the giddiness of this moment. This kind of…stuff…don’t just…just happen… My heart was racing and a part of me wanted to cry a little bit at how this all felt like a dream after all the…things I’ve had to endure from my disastrous relationships.

 

No sooner than my head was spinning from his note when another paper plane landed near my feet.

 

The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again. (You left so suddenly that first time – and again this morning though I guess I deserved the second).

 

Oh.

I couldn’t help but feel a little…conflicted about that.

 

And yet another plane landed near me.

 

I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.

(What do you say?)

Jon

 

I held back a breath. Jon. He signed it this time. I struggled to remember that quote but I couldn’t place it but I knew it was more contemporary than his previous ones but that was beside the point.

 

He wrote his name.

 

What does it mean that he did?

 

I thought it over – fought my other thoughts to think this through – to focus. He wanted to end the game?

 

Was this how it ends?

 

If this was a movie, all that was left was for me to either lean down my balcony and meet his waiting gaze with a smile, or for me to go down and meet him by my door…

 

But then a wave of disappointment – more for myself than for him – washed over me. This was all completely romantic – but… I’ve been too – I shook my head – this was too good… too unreal…

 

When the more rational side of me took over, I remembered that Talla and her brother Sam were the only ones who knew I lived here.

 

And it was only Talla who knew I play late at night and that was only because she caught me.

 

And of all the messengers, why Talla of all people? How incredibly impossibly random was that?

 

I closed my eyesand focused on that moment – then I couldn’t help the irritation that came when I realized that beside…Jon at the window was Sam.

 

Now.

 

Now it all made sense.

 

Why Jon would be here at the right time and at the right moment…

 

But does it really matter Sansa? Even if it was – the man did make an effort, was that so bad?

 

I felt torn.

 

He did.

 

I still have butterflies in my stomach from how undeniably magical this night was but the fact that it was possible that he came at a moment when I had my mask off…

 

When I was vulnerable…

 

…because he knew I would be.

 

I can’t help but feel a bit betrayed.

 

It was one thing if this was a coincidence…another if it was planned.

 

I tried to shake it off – berate myself for asking too much – for expecting too much but the last time I let myself…

 

What do I do?

 

There was no denying it that despite my doubts, I was intrigued and I was this close to going down and meeting him. I bit my lip again. I still do.

 

But what if this was another lie?

 

I reread his last note and my heart wanted to just shut me up and just go with it but my troubled mind won’t let me.

 

He wanted to end this game we played and just…start.

 

I’m not all that surprised that most of me wanted it badly. Wanted this badly. But he has me at a disadvantage.

 

Even if I believe Talla didn’t give much. He still knows.

 

He still knows something about me. And now that he’s caught me playing for myself, he’s seen me.

 

Suddenly I feel so naked right now.

 

And the only thing I know about him is his name and not even the whole of it.

 

So no.

 

I can’t stop this game.

 

Not yet.

 

Getting a piece of paper, I started to write. When I was done,  I stood up and texted Renley and Dany.  

See you at breakfast and please tell me everything you can find out about Night,  who I just learned, is named Jon.  

 Sure enough as I've shut my balcony doors not two seconds ago,  my phone rang. 

Time for reinforcements of my own. 

 


 

Jon

 

I was ready to pull out my hair.

 

She was taking too long to answer.

 

Three messages including my name and still not a peep.

 

The sound of silence was never as deafening as now.

 

Did I go too far?

 

Did I say something wrong?

 

Was it obvious that I had to google that first quote from Dickens?

 

And then finally I saw a glimpse of something float down near my feet.

 

A paper plane made out of sheet music.

 

I almost tore the paper when I read it.

 

Jon,

 

You had me.

You have my attention, I admit, but you also have me at a great disadvantage. One I need to remedy before anything else. But yes, you had me. And you almost won. But it’s not over yet. I cannot meet you yet. So for now good night and…

 

“Auta miqula orqu.”

 

Sansa

 

My mouth hung and my body jumped when I heard the loud shut of her door. I had hoped that we would finally meet and end this game we started but clearly, she didn’t want to yet. And clearly, I did something wrong.

 

…because as I’ve google translated since it’s been ages since I’ve read the language,she just told me to go kiss an orc in Elvish.

 

Well, muk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Daenerys

 

“Okay, cousin Stag, what do we have so far?” I plopped down next to Renly on the sofa after setting down two steaming cups of tea that I may or may not have spiked with some Essosi…milk. I giggled. We were staying the night at Myrcella and her brother Tommen Baratheon’s place, Renly’s niece and nephew – well, I guess, mine too. The two were lovely as ever to allow us to crash for the night as we attempt to thoroughly research our best friend’s new suitor.

Renly leant back against the sofa and drummed his fingers against the arm. “Well, cousin Dragon, we don’t have a name. We just know that Night is a black haired student who may or may not know personally the heirs to the Highgarden Enterprise as well as Sansa’s friend and classmate, Talla Tarley.”

I took a sip and grumbled.

He laughed and shook his head. “I know. Not exactly a lot to go with.”

I sniffed. “But not impossible to crack.” We will hunt him down.

“My, my, aren’t you determined,” he grinned.

I smiled back, “Well, you’ve known Sansa the longest, you tell me if we should do this.”

He sighed. “Well, she’s a bit harder to read lately, considering.” 

Scowling, I hastily took another sip to stop from thinking murder and chaos and--

“Dany, you in there?” I saw a hand wave over my face that I collected myself giving Renly a sheepish grin.

“Sorry.”

He sighed again and brushed his dark hair away from his eyes. “Anyway, it’s been months and she’s iced out men for too long. Not that she needs men. But it’s been a while since I’ve seen her genuinely happy. And now I hear about her swapping love notes out of nowhere and I swear when she was talking to me about Night she was blushing all the way while she kept catching herself from smiling – it’s ridiculously adorable.” 

I smiled at that. “She likes him! I can feel it. I find their note-swapping incredibly cute – I can’t get over it!”

“I agree but though it is cute and romantic and shows potential, we still don’t know who Night is. But at least I got to see who Day was and if Sansa liked Night more than gorgeous Day then by all means we must know who he is!” Renly exclaimed, his eyes hinting something as they glazed over at the mention of Day. 

I pointed at him, “Ah-ha! You fancy Day!”

He blushed but licked his lips unapologetically. “That I do. You’ve met with the Tyrells before haven’t you?”

It was my turn to roll my eyes. “Of course I did.” Years ago, my father – bless his soul, along with the elderly Tyrells, wanted nothing more than to get Willas Tyrell and I to date. Fat chance of that. I was allergic to anything that follows the statement ‘You should.’ The more they press, the more I resist. I dismissed that thought away and focused. “Gold eyes and hair right? Day must be Loras.”

His smile grew wider. “Yes, he is." 

I raised my brows and whistked. “Good job, Sansa. I have to admit, Loras is the charming one. Smooth talker that one. I’ve heard…stories.” I wagged my brows at him. “Interested?”

“Another time,” Renly winked, though that knowing twinkle in his green eyes never left. “Sansa is the priority here.”

“Strange. She spent an afternoon with him and his sister and she still prefers Night? Doesn’t Loras look like Sansa’s type?” I wrinkled my nose.

He shrugged. “Yes, but we haven’t seen Night yet. And remember, the Bolton bastard was the anti-thesis to all her blonde exes – my horrific nephew included when it comes to looks, yet she still dated that monster for months.”

“Ugh. That was a disaster! But you know, I’ve always wondered, are you sure Joffrey wasn’t adopted? His siblings are good kids.”

He snorted. “He’s his mother’s son.” Okay, time to drop that subject. “Okay, so…garden of innuendoes as she called it?”

He burst out laughing at that and I joined in when I remembered how they both recalled the afternoon Sansa spent with the Tyrells.

Just then we heard someone enter.

“Hello uncle Renly, Aunt Dany.”

Tommen.

I cringed. I wasn’t that old and I saw Renly make a similar grimace. Tommen took in our expressions and laughed before placing a box on the coffee table. “I come bearing gifts your highnesses.” I was about to retort when I looked at his now opened box of pastries – macarons, yay!

That’s right, Tommen was working part time at a coffeeshop nearby – could it be…

Just then I felt my phone vibrate and noticed that Renly was taking his out too. That means this was probably Sansa!

True enough, it was a text from her. I read it quickly before immediately pressing call.

“Sansa! What does this mean? How’d you get his name?” I all but screamed at her, too excited.

A pause.

“Well, he told me.”

“What?! Hang on, I’m putting you on speaker!” I ordered while gesturing for Renly to come closer while Tommen disappeared inside the kitchen.

“What do you mean he told you? Did you see him? Did he visit you? What? Didn’t we leave you in your place? Did you go out?”

I felt Renly yank my hair a little causing me to glare at him. “Cut it out!” he mouthed at me while he matched my glare.

I huffed but kept my mouth shut.

“Thank you Renly. And yes, he was here but I didn’t see him...exactly…”

Gods be good how vague was that? “Sansa,” I hissed. “What –

But Renly clamped my mouth and yanked the phone away. “Go ahead Sans,” he said calmly.

“I’ll…well, I’m still confused about what happened. But we’re still kind of playing our game, only this time he signed his name, well, his first name.”

I wanted nothing more but to march up at the other end of the subdivision and demand that she tells her story whole but knowing Sansa, she’d only resist more so I have to draw up patience.

“Okay, so notes?” Renly followed up.

“Yeah.”

I sighed and I could see Renly frown a little. I guess we’ll have to wait until morning to get the whole story out.

“Okay. So…why the sudden interest with our research?”

I smiled at Renly. That’s true. She all but texted us a demand to know everything there is to know about him. Something juicy must have happened. Gods, I’m turning into one of those vapid gossping girls, I know, but this was different. This was my future sister’s love life we are talking about!

We heard her give an annoyed sigh. Renly and I shared a look. Okay, now I’m worried. Something definitely happened.

“Just wanted to make sure that if we do continue our game that I would win.”

My mouth hung. You could hear the ice cracking with her tone. This was iron Sansa. No. This was steel. Cold cold steel. She was back to being the Ice Queen man-hater.

“Sansa, do you need us to commit murder? Has he tried something?” I could feel my own ire growing when I heard Lord Renly’s commanding voice while we waited for her answer.

“No, no! It’s not that. I promise. I just want to at least be on equal footing with him. I believe he certainly knows some things about me while I don’t have anything of him. Just…Jon.”

We both relaxed then and nodded, yet it still wasn’t enough to allay the confusion.

“So what do you want to do with the information then? And what do you need? Do we find his dirtiest laundry? Is this a kill order?” I asked.

“NO!”

My brows furrowed. “So…you want to play the game and win but you don’t want to destroy him?”

“No, no. Gods, did it come out that way?”

It took a moment before I realized what she was trying to say when I let out a squeal and saw Renly grin across me. “Does this mean… you want us to carry on our research… so you know some things about him…what his deal is, his likes, dislikes – the whole shebang…and win what exactly?”

“Seven hells! This was a mistake –

“Oh no no, Sansa Stark. Do continue. What is it that you want to win?”

Silence.

“You like him. Don’t you? You want to continue this game to see if he’s serious but you’re not going to do this blind, aren’t you, smart girl? But you’re definitely interested in him, aren’t you?” I pressed.

Still more silence then a long sigh. “I – I…” she sighed and I could imagine her biting her lip. “Yeah. I think I do…”

Another squeal from me plus another yank of my hair by Renly but he was fighting his own excitement too.

“I’ll tell you more tomorrow, I promise. It’s just…I’m a little overwhelmed right now.”

“Fine. You go get your beauty sleep and leave it to Renly and me,” I shushed her as all sorts of ideas started forming in my mind.

“Thank you guys! Good night, see you in the morning.”

“Good night she-wolf. Pleasant…dreams,” Renly drawled and I snickered.

I put the phone down and looked at Renly. “Well, now we definitely have to do our work here.”

He nodded. “That we do.”

I bit my nails in frustration. “Ugh, what I wouldn’t give to know exactly what happened tonight.”

Renly laughed but caught himself midway as he eyed the box of macarons that Tommen left out. He leant forward and read the box cover and there it was I saw it too!

Highgarden Café.

“Tommen! Tommen get in here!” Renly all but shouted. Tommen ran, nearly tripping.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

I moved and patted the space between Renly and I, smiling at him. “Come sit with us for a minute.”

His brows shot up in suspicion but seeing as we were both grinning at him with no intention of letting him go anytime soon, he sniffed before cautiously sitting in between us.

“Tommen, you work part-time right?” I asked cheerily.

He wrinkled his nose in confusion before nodding. “Yes, I work in Highgarden’s flagship. Why?”

At the mention of Highgarden, Renly and I grinned wider. “How long?”

“I started just a week before school did. Again, why?” he narrowed his eyes at us.

“So that would mean you got to know a few regulars…right?” I said, fighting to keep from letting my excitement show.

“Uh, yeah. Okay, I think I know where this is going. Describe or tell me who it is you’re looking for?” he smirked.

Fine! Does the name Jon ring a bell?” I pressed.

He looked up and thought. “Hmm.”

“Black hair, gray eyes…at least that’s what they said.” Renly added.

His eyes lit up then and so did ours. “Oh! You must mean Jon Snow.”

“Jon Snow?” I repeated. Why was that name so familiar? Jon Snow. Jon Snow. Jon Snow…

I gasped, my hand flying to my mouth.

“What is it?” Renly hissed.

I ignored him and began firing up facebook and typing away on my laptop until finally, I pointed to a profile. “Is this him?”

Tommen leant closer and then nodded. “That’s him alright. Jon Snow. He’s a third year in Acting. Takes his coffee black. Why?”

I waited for Renly to look at me and when he did he mirrored my look. “Dany isn’t he – “

I didn’t wait for him to finish, just kept nodding.

Jon Snow.

Or rather, Jaehaerys Targaryen.

My long lost nephew.

 


 

Sam

 

“OW! Ow! O-o-ow! Bloody fuck!

“Will you please shut up and keep still?” I couldn’t help but yell at Edd. Honestly, the idiot deserves to feel pain after managing to get himself in yet another pub brawl. 

“Yeah, seriously Dolorous. Shut up and take it like a man,” Satin pointed at him before laughing, barely managing to hand him the ice pack.

Edd glared daggers at him but finally shut up, grabbing the pack and pressing it to his swollen cheek while I dabbed some antiseptic on his bloodied knuckles. The little finger looks sprained…

“Satin, hand me the bandages please,” I held my hand out to him while I applied a little Neosporin with my other.

“Bloody fuck Edd! Are you sure you didn’t break anything?” Satin whistled.

“Shut up,” Edd shouted then hissed in pain due to his busted lip.

“There, all done. And take two of these,” I handed him two Tylenols. “What happened anyway?”

Satin burst out laughing then barely managing to duck when Edd threw his shoe at him.

I raised a brow at him and he sighed. “I’m drunk, aight? All there is to it.”

“Yes, but the question is, why are you drunk? On a Monday night too?”

“It really wasn’t his fault, Sam. He got dared by Thorne and things went from bad to ridiculous when they were deep into their cups and Thorne made mention of Edd’s sister,” Satin explained.

I sighed ready to tell him off for getting sucked into Alliser Thorne’s machinations when my phone rang. “Who is it now?” Gods, if it was Grenn or Pyp I’ll kill them.

Jon.

Oh. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I answered. “Jon, to what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Sam! Seven hells, I likely made an ass of myself tonight and I completely ruined – Gods, I’m an idiot! She probably thinks I’m a psychotic stalker –

“Jon, Jon – JON! Calm down! Take a deep breath, and tell me what happened. Oh and just so you know, Satin and Edd are here – don’t ask,” I almost shouted. Gods, what did he do this time?

“They’re with you?” I could hear him gulp and saw the two move closer with curious demanding eyes.

“Yes. Again. Don’t ask. But I’m afraid you’d have to share now because you know they’ll know eventually. And it’s too late to keep this from them – not when you practically screeched in my ear. Now tell me what happened and you are now on speaker.”

I heard him sigh and mutter a curse before he began to tell us everything that happened since I left him in the library, muttering ‘later’ to the two who clearly had a million questions. I kicked their chairs to keep quiet earning frustrated glares and groans.

When Jon was done I did my best – my complete best not to laugh but a little snort came out.

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

  


 

Daenerys

 

“Uh, Tommen, you can go now,” Renly quickly shooed him away.

“Hey! Now wait just a minute – “ he began to protest but Renly all but shoved him to go up his room.

When he was out of sight, Renly sat beside me once more and raised his brows. “Have you…met him?”

I felt my chest lurch as I nodded at him sadly, remembering the day we met him. It wasn’t exactly a happy occasion and things just kept getting worse and worse. “It was only once but over the years my brother certainly tried but I wouldn’t blame Jaehaerys. This is the price my idiot brother has to pay for his mistake.”

He blew out a breath and shook his head. “Tough. How is your good-sister holding up though and the other dragons?”

“She’s mad of course – but not at Jaehaerys. She was the one who actually pushed my idiot brother to reach out to him, especially…Well, my niece and nephew share her sentiments. They’ve all been trying. I wanted to help too but I don’t want to overstep,” I explained.

Then Renly sat up, “Wait. So this means that Jaehaerys’ mother is—“

I bolted straight, “Oh gods, yes. That means they’re…Sansa and Jon are…”

“Cousins,” we both said at the same time.

I bit my lip. “Well, it’s not really a problem I think?”

Renly wrinkled his nose. “I guess not… really? I mean, it could be worse.” He winked at me and I shot him a dirty look before throwing one of the pillows at him.

“Does Robb know about him?” He peeked up from the pillow he caught.

I shook my head sadly. I didn’t like keeping secrets from my fiancé, but this wasn’t mine to give.

“Wait, how do you know about his mother?” I narrowed my eyes at him.

He smiled cheekily. “Everyone knows that my brother carried a torch for the woman. I made one carefully worded comment, and he all but confessed to me. He was there too you know.”

I nodded. It was true. That day, I came with my brother while Robert, Ned, and Benjen were there too.

“But as soon as he confessed, he pleaded for my silence. To my brother’s credit, it’s a secret he would guard with his life. He wouldn’t risk getting his first love’s reputation soiled. I even suspect that he had a hand in some of Jaehaery’s privacy. The Reach is impenetrable. No leaks of bad behavior or scandals or anything,” Renly smiled proudly.

I had to smile back. “Good ol Robert. Wait, does the –

“--first lady know?” he finished for me. He snorted while he shook his head. “Her royal bitchiness, doesn’t know, thank the gods but I’m sure she has her suspicions. Anyway, if she did know, she won’t do anything about it. If anything, feigning ignorance favors her image.”

“Good. I pity your brother actually for having to get hitched with that one. But it is sad that neither of our brothers got to be with who they really wanted. Still, let’s get back on track. I helped the baby dragons find out about him when they wanted to get to know their youngest brother. He grew up at Starfall with his mother, spent his high school as a Watcher on The Wall where my brother tracked him down and after… negotiations, he chose to study acting here in The Reach instead of King’s Landing to avoid my brother. Oh and he doesn’t want anything to do with Targaryens. He chose to take on the name his mother chose.” I said rather uneasily, not sure if I said too much.

Renly nodded and took in my unease. “Okay, how personal did you get? How about his dating history?” He tried segueing.

I scrunched up my face and then we heard the door again.

“Hey guys!”

“Hello my beautiful niece!” Renly smiled as he accepted a peck on his cheek from Myrcella. She turned to me and gave me a brief hug. “Hi aunt Dany!”

I returned her hug. “Hi Cella.”

I forgot that I still have Jaehaerys’ profile up when I saw Myrcella glance down. “Why are you looking at Jon’s profile? Aren’t you engaged to Sansa’s brother, aunt? Or is this for you Uncle?”

I gave Renly a panicked look and I could see him turning up blank.

Myrcella then sat in between us and popped a macaron in her mouth while she looked at my laptop. “I mean, if it is you’re wasting your time, uncle. Jon is straight. We asked.

I couldn’t help but laugh then. “Well, humor us anyway, Cella. What do you know of him?”

She ate another piece before answering. “Well, he’s a senior in our program and girls go bananas over him or Loras Tyrell. But he hasn’t dated anyone since he started here. But Ned told me that he dated two girls during his time at The Wall. One even lasted three years but it ended before he moved here and he’s been single since then.”

Interesting. “Two girls and none after….”

She nodded. “That’s what Ned says, and he grew up with him.” Right. Myrcella was dating Edric Dayne from Starfall, which was the seat of House Dayne. The world keeps getting smaller.

“But what’s he like? Have you met him?” Renly added.

“He’s a good egg. Straight A’s and everything. Nary a scratch on his record. He mostly keeps to himself, though he does have interesting friends. I don’t know if he’s shy or just indifferent. But he’s a gentleman. If he’s truly shy, he’s certainly not when on the stage anyway. I’ve seen him during workshops and he’s pretty good. He and Loras Tyrell are sort of rivals for their year. But I think it got worse when Jon rejected him, but that’s what the seniors have been saying anyway,” she giggled.

“Interesting,” I grinned after sharing a look with Renly. “Do you know where he stays?”

She thought for a while then shook her head. “I knew before but I forgot. Sorry.”

“That’s fine, thanks Cella. You can have the rest of these,” I pointed to the box.

She smiled and grabbed the box before standing up and heading upstairs. “Anyway, rumor is that he’ll eventually pledge his life back at The Wall after grad so that’s probably the reason why he’s not looking to date.”

I shared another look with Renly. Well, how the heart changes. “Well, we’ll see about that, won’t we?”

I looked at Renly and saw his eyes twinkle. “So, why don’t you call that brother of yours and we pay your dear nephew a visit?”

“On it!”

“Dany? What is it?”

“Nothing. Just wanted to know the progress you’re doing with your…son. You know, your other son.”

He sighed. “Well, at least he’s finally using his trust fund and allowed me to pay for his education and lodging. But other than that, he still hates me with the fire of a thousand suns of Dorne.”

“Well, in all fairness, you deserve that,” I pointed out.

He sighed again. “Why the sudden interest anyway, sister?”

Think fast. Think fast.

“Well, I’m here in Highgarden, visiting Sansa and I found out that your son has been studying here. I mean, I knew that before but I’m only realizing it now, but I just want to know where is he staying here?”

“Dany,” he started.

“What? Maybe he’ll welcome a visit from his aunt?”

“Just leave him alone. If he wants to meet the family, let him come on his own terms,” he said exasperatedly.

“What could it hurt?” I said innocently. “Maybe I’ll even convince him to come to my wedding?”

“I don’t know Dany. What if he thinks I sent you and he suddenly decides to enlist at The Wall for good? I don’t want that for him.”

My heart gave out to my brother. I guess it wasn’t entirely his fault. He only ever knew of his son three years ago. “But does he know that his…cousin is studying here too?”

“Cousin? Oh Sansa Stark. I wouldn’t think so,” he said unsure.

Renly shot me the same confused look I had. “I don’t understand, why wouldn’t he know? Sansa is publicly known. Surely he’ll get the connection at once.”

He sighed. “Jaehaerys – no – Jon, doesn’t know about his mother’s…family,” he admitted.

I was at a loss. I looked at Renly and saw his jaw drop. And suddenly I felt angry.

“Why didn’t you tell him?” I practically shouted at him. “Gods, why didn’t Ned or Robert? You were all there? And no one told him anything?”

I could almost hear him wince from the other line. “It’s not that none of us wanted to. We all wanted to. I tried to tell him but what can you say when the only thing your long lost son asks of you is to keep his mother’s name as she has chosen until the end? So you see? But I always remind him that whenever he wishes it, I’ll tell him all he needs to know to the best of my ability.”

He sounded tired and old, effectively melting away any trace of irritation or anger that I felt. My brother was nothing if not a loving husband and father – even to Viserys and I when we lost mother and father. If he knew I’m sure he would’ve come for them sooner and own up.

I struggled to look for words but none came.

He sighed again. “Dany, I’m not sure what you’re up to but I’ve always valued your decisions. So, do what you think is right. I’ve arranged for him to live in Oak Wood Villas. His townhouse is one of the most private ones there.”

Now I felt a stab of guilt. Here was my older brother, giving his complete trust to me and I had to keep that confidence in mind. “Thank you brother. That means…that really means a lot. I promise not to do anything rash.”

“I know you won’t.” I could make out the smile from the other line.

“So…tell me, who does know about it?”

“Our uncle Aemon, our brother, my children, my wife of course for our side. Ned, Cat, Benjen, and Brandon are the only ones who know from the Stark side, and of course, Robert and his brothers. As far as I know, their wives don’t know. And that’s it. It was a difficult decision, especially for the Starks, but it was Jon’s only request. He said that If she wanted to go home, she would’ve done years ago. How can we deny him?”

I could hear the grief in his voice along with the guilt. “Listen – it’s not your –

“Stop. Thank you Dany. But, no. What’s done is done. I only want my son to be happy. That’s enough for me. Sorry sister, I have to go.”

“Okay, thank you. Love you,” my voice cracked a bit. “You’ll – you’ll make it to my wedding won’t you?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I love you too Dany. Good bye.”

I put the phone down and felt the world on my shoulders. I felt Renly’s warm hand patting my shoulder. “That was a lot to take in.”

I groaned. “What do we do now?”

He let out a breath. “Well, we know that they both don’t know they’re cousins. And that they’re both into the arts. And clearly, they are attracted to each other enough to be cutesy with love notes. What could it hurt, really?”

I made a face at him. “Oh I don’t know, things like, what if he finds out the truth and that becomes a deal breaker and Sansa will be heart broken, and who do you think will have to pick up the pieces?” I threw my hands out. “And, he’ll get suspicious and he’ll put an even greater distance against my brother!” Ugh, what a mess!

Renly took that all in calmly and let me settle down before he spoke slowly. “Or…” He waved a hand at me.

“Or he ends up really in love with our girl despite knowing all that since he’ll know that she is innocent of it all, and because of that love, he might be even be…accepting and open to possibilities,” his smile growing as he spoke. “Think about it. They’re relationship could be the key to a happy family,” he grinned triumphantly.

I was speechless. That could happen too. If they got together, he’ll meet the Starks – and if things go well for the Starks whose to say he won’t be accepting of us too.

Still, it was a big big risk.

I bit my fingers. “That sounds good. It’s possible. Sansa doesn’t love halfway. And I have a feeling, my nephew is no better. Still… this is a potential disaster. And you know it!”

“But isn’t it worth it? Jae-ah what a mouthful – Jon and your brother are already as distanced as possible. The worst that could happen is that Jon would cut off ties for good but you know no matter what, we could always track him down – watch over him from a distance. If this blossoms, however, he has a lot to gain,” he pressed. “But of course, Sansa.” With that, he lowered his eyes.

We’d lose Sansa. I thought with dread. She’ll never forgive us. Well, she would but she won’t forget.

"I have a question though. He's always lived as Jon Snow. How did he become Jaehaerys Targaryen?"

I wrinkled my nose and sighed. "It was his mother's doing. From the beginning, he was named Jaehaerys Snow and all his birth papers read accordingly but as his mother explained in a letter, he was never called that. Only Jon. And she allowed him to just simply use Jon Snow in everything. But when she thought he was old enough, she told him who his father was. My brother, of course, was all but ready to claim him and legitimize him. He prepared everything - set it all up so his future is secure and more. He's in his will. He'll be able to have claims even if he never takes the Targaryen name. But that's a name that would always be his should he wish it."

"That sounds like your brother all right. But I'm sure his mother's family would welcome him as well," Renly added.

I nodded at him. The Starks were truly the best people. Which is why this could be good for them too. 

Suddenly, I had an idea.

“Grab your coat, cousin Stag. We’re going for a walk.”

  


 

Sam

 

“Laugh all you want. But I’m serious. What did I do wrong?”

I bit my lip and took a deep breath. “Jon, no matter how romantic it all looks, the fact is, you practically stalked her. And worse, on a particularly, private moment. And you know, you’re still a stranger to her.”

“Seven hells, you’re right! So what do I do?”

“Well, the most practical would be to just finally bloody introduce yourself to your neighbor and woo her just as you should’ve done in the first place,” I said matter-of-factly.

“But – “

I cut off his protest. “But I know, she said she can’t meet you yet. So you would have to continue your game. Only this time, why don’t you sneak in some things about you like your last name so at least she knows you have the balls and not hide behind anonymity.”

I heard him sigh and grumble.

“Seven hells! Snow, you hit the jackpot!”

My head snapped up at Satin and saw the two arses with their heads together while they scrolled through Satin’s phone.

Edd gave an appreciative nod while Satin’s whistled. “Well bugger me this, Snow you better hurry up! I’ve seen her perform and she’s hot – incredibly hot despite being labeled as the freshman ice queen with how she’s frozen out all those boys on her first week. You should hear what – OW!”

I threw my shoe at him this time and miraculously it hit his nose on the target.

“What? What have they been saying?” Uh oh. Rarely do you get to hear Jon get angry but his tone was downright deadly.

Satin caught on and looked sideways for an escape.

“Satin,” came Jon’s warning tone.

“You’d better start talking, Satin,” I warned him as well.

Resolved to his fate, he took a deep breath and spoke. “It’s just… she rejected so many, there’s a running pool going around lately. It’s gross, but I just heard…well, bungholes the lot of them, but they’re trying to find out who can make…’winter come.’”

I made a disgusted face that Edd mirrored.

It was silent on the other end. Another tell tale sign that Jon was raging.

“Names. I need names.”

“Calm the fuck down, Jon,” Edd snatched the phone. “It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, what matters is what you plan to do. Beating them bloody won’t do anyone good. They’re jes bloody idiot cunts hoping for a good lay.”   

“He’s right Jon. Just carry on and make her trust you. But I just have to ask, you’re really serious about this? This isn’t just some infatuation?”

I heard him make an annoyed sound. “You’ve always pointed out how serious I am. How can you change your mind about me now?”

I smiled at that. “It’s not that. I’m just asking the important questions. You do know who she is, don’t you? She’s not someone anyone can just date.”

“Political daughter,” Satin nudged at Edd who winced and shoved back before nodding.

“I’m aware. I know I’m practically a nobody when compared to that –

I almost retorted that he was far from a nobody if I look back at what he confessed to me, but that was dangerous territory to discuss.

“—But giving up is not an option. Not until she tells me to stop.”

After a moment of silence, the room was filled with hoots and cheers.

“Figures. Another redhead. We shoulda’ known,” Edd rolled his eyes.

“Get her something to go with the note, Snow. It’s time to resurrect whatever died in that cold heart of yours,” Satin suggested in a playful tone.

“That’s not bad.”

“Listen, to show I’m sorry for my insensitive remarks, I happen to have a bouquet’s worth of flowers freshly cut from the Tyrells. Interested?”

I eyed Satin suspiciously.

“How in the bloody fuck did you manage that? No wait. I think I know.” I heard him make a gagging sound and I burst out laughing when I realized.

Satin buffed his fingers on his chest and blew on them. “Oh, you’ll want to be spared from all the naughty details.” He looked up then and threw his long dark curly hair over his shoulders before crossing his arms. “So, what’ll it be, Snow?”

“Is it clean at least?”

Satin scoffed while Edd and I chuckled. “Yes, you bloody prick. It’s clean.”

“Then yeah, I’ll pick it up.”

“It’s in my trunk, just drive over to Sam’s.”

“Fuck. I have to face all of you now?”

We all burst out laughing then while Jon groaned.

  


 

Daenerys

 

“Here! Stop here!” I all but shouted in Renly’s ear, not caring if it was too loud while I held on to him for dear life. I wasn’t usually afraid of riding motorcycles, but Renly was a bloody madman when he rode.

He seemed to hear it well. We stopped near the gate to Old Oak’s and hid his bike behind a tree.

I took off my helmet and gave it to him, my glare never leaving. He was trying hard not to chuckle but I swear if we didn’t share best friend positions for Sansa, I’d throttle him.

Stashing our helmets away he raised his palms at me and grinned sheepishly. “I’m sorry. But we’re losing time here. I had to speed up.”

I stomped my foot and turned my back at him. “Fine. Now come on, let’s go find my nephew’s place.”

We breezed past the guard who took one look at us and let us in without issue but not after telling us where Jaehaerys – er – okay it was a mouthful – Jon lives. I’m guessing my brother did that.

We were counting houses and finally we reached his place. But as soon as we saw his number, Renly and I double checked and even called the guard again but this was really where he lived.

The only banner-less townhouse in vicinity, nestled at the end of the villa, was Jon’s townhouse.

Directly across Sansa’s.

“Seven hells!”

“Shhhh! Be quiet woman!” Renly shushed. Sansa can’t find out that we were here.

Before I could speak we heard a car approach – wait – no, this was a motorcycle – and quickly ducked behind the nearest shrub. On our knees, we peeked and saw a lone figure wearing a black helmet, pull up – to our horror – on Jon’s driveway.

Seven hells, it was him!

It’s been three years since I last saw him and even if we did plan to snoop around while he maybe slept, I realized I wasn’t all that prepared to see him.

Oh gods, what if he catches me – us!

I looked at Renly and he held my hand and gestured to just keep quiet and calm down. I brought his hands to cup my mouth, not trusting myself to keep quiet as my heart banged against my chest.

Hiding in the dark and in the bushes, did the only thing we could do, watch.

We watched as he got off his bike and took off his helmet. I almost gasped when I saw his messy black hair fly about while his face whipped out.

My nephew was extremely handsome. I was shocked to see how much he resembled Sansa’s father, leaving little of my brother in him. But I remembered his fiery dark eyes that hinted indigo like my brother’s when he told us to leave.

But right now his face held none of that ice or fire that he showed before. He was actually smiling and that caught me off guard. He never smiled – not once – not that he had a reason to. But right now, even if it was only half a smile, my chest tightened and I immediately wanted to tell my brother that his son can smile -  a nice smile too. Dark eyes, dark hair, and dark clothing. No wonder Sansa called him Night.

Jon then opened his bag and slowly took out something wrapped and again I almost squealed in excitement when I saw that he was now holding flowers.

I kept nudging at Renly who in turn shushed me as quietly as he could. We were, after all, only a few feet away.

I bit my lip and kept as still as possible, determined to see everything.

We watched as he carefully selected three stems of three completely different flowers. I strained my eyes against the darkness hoping to make them out. One of them was clearly a sunflower, another was a small white one, and another I couldn’t tell if it was violet or blue. He then wrapped the rest and tucked them under an arm, while the ones he selected he held in one hand as he sat down on his porch steps. He placed them beside him and began to take something from his bag again. And from what he took out, there was no doubt that he was indeed Night.

He tore a page from his notebook and began to write. And damn, the boy took his time that my legs were starting to cramp but we had no choice but to wait it out. I found it incredibly adorable that he wrote and struck out and crumbled at least four pages before he held one up with a satisfied look.

He then proceeded to roll the note and tie it to the three stems and Renly and I held our breath when he passed right by us to cross to the other side.

When he was far enough, we both eased up a little and watched as he made it in front of Sansa’s house where he suddenly stopped.

A minute has passed – I was counting – and he was still just standing there

Come on. Just do it! Do it and be done with it! Go, go, go!

I tried to mentally encourage him.

After running his hands probably out of nervousness over his hair, he took a deep breath and started walking closer.

That’s my boy!

But what happened next shocked us more.

Jon was almost at her porch when suddenly we heard a rustling sound and saw that Sansa was at her balcony with a very surprised look on her face and timed with the full moon in clear view, like a perfectly timed spot light.

Graddakh! Sīkudi Nopāzmi! qrugh!

Renly and I crouched lower, praying to the old gods and new and maybe even the great stallion that we wouldn’t be noticed.

I glanced at Jon and I just know that even with his back turned to us, that he probably didn’t expect this as well.

Time seems to stop at that moment, and I’m sure Renly’s eyes darted from Sansa to Jon and back like mine did, waiting for this moment to develop.

No one moved. The only sign that this wasn’t a dream – nor a frozen moment was the rise and fall of both their chests and shoulders – their breaths misting against the near freezing night air.

But to my pride, Jon mustered his courage and took a step forward – Sansa jumped a little but kept still.

Renly and I scrambled a bit and changed our positions as stealthily as we could so we could see his face but when we looked at them, we realized there was no need to be too quiet.

Jon had eyes only for Sansa as we could see and the same we could tell from Sansa too. We could dance the Macarena behind them and they won’t notice.

Then Jon raised the hand holding the flowers slightly before hurriedly disappearing under Sansa’s balcony, and then he placed his gift on her doorstep and started to walk back.

When he was once again within Sansa’s line of sight, we watched as Jon slowly raised his hand into a wave and dared the most endearing half-smile I’ve ever witnessed.

I wanted to shriek with giddiness so I bit my tongue and watched Sansa’s reaction.

You could see that she didn’t expect that as well as her brows drew together – the first chink of her armor as her neutral mask started to fade away into something softer. My heart went out for the poor girl for having conditioned herself to second guess sweet gestures like this.

Come on, Sans. It’s okay.

I wanted to urge her – I was completely tensed with how she would react. I didn’t know Jon and what he was like, if this was entirely new to him or not or if it was something that he was known to do, but I could tell he was tense too.

Then finally, I smiled in relief when Sansa finally reacted.

Sansa’s face softened and I could tell she was likely blushing. Slowly, she raised her hand briefly while she graced Jon with an unsure but grateful smile.

That’s my girl! I couldn’t help but grin.

I watched Jon then and saw him stiffen before his smile grew wider. He then coughed and rubbed at his neck, before giving one last wave before he turned around and started walking back to his house – clearly intending to let Sansa know that he was her neighbor across from her.

I couldn’t help but keep staring as Jon who was now sporting an identical blush now that he was close, was smiling all the way until he disappeared inside his house.

Now this.

This face, was all his father’s.

I looked back at Sansa and saw her hand fly up her mouth when she realized but then she shook her head and went inside. But it wasn’t too long before we saw her open her front door, crouch down and pick up Jon’s gift.

She looked curiously at the three different flowers before untying the note and reading it. What I wouldn’t give to read it right this moment! These two were too much!

We watched as her eyes were truly soft now and maybe even wistful, and the corners of her mouth started to quirk up.

His note made her smile.

She stood up then and looked across to Jon’s house and bit her lip as if clearly contemplating something.

My heart raced as fast as my mind conjured up different scenarios. Are you going to run over there? Should you run over there? What would happen? Oh gods. What do I think could happen? More importantly, should I – no – we – allow it to happen? Romantic as it was, it was probably too soon.

Sansa finally took a deep breath and shook her head but stole a wistful look back at Jon’s house before taking the flowers and note with her inside.

“Good girl,” I heard Renly whisper.

As soon as we deemed the coast was clear, Renly and I high tailed it until we stepped out the main gate, laughing in disbelief at what we’ve witnessed.

We grinned at each other and decided to leave right then and there.

We’ve seen all that we needed to see and more.

Operation Fire and Ice is now a go.

Fuck it. They both have too much to gain than lose.

I was about to hop in behind Renly when we heard something.

 


 

Sam

 

“Duck!”

“Wha – “ I barely let out when Satin all put pulled me to the floor of his car the moment he slipped inside through the driver’s side.

“Quiet! Someone might see us – I think I saw a girl and a boy hiding too – probably Sansa’s friends,” he hissed in my ear.

Now that was interesting. It seems we’re not the only ones who are concerned for their friend.

I chuckled earning a kick from Satin. We followed Jon when he rode back. I stayed behind while Satin slipped in and watched to make sure Jon didn’t back out. I thought back on the flowers he selected, and grinned when he finally chose after he made Satin explain what each flower meant. 

Lily of the Nile for love letters which we laughed at but nodded to how appropriate it was. Then there was the sunflower for opportunities and Y.O.L.O. and admiration. And lastly, was so Jon. Snow drop for the Lady of Winterfell, the delicate first flower of the year that blooms - symbolic of the beginning of something new. And of course, Jon's namesake. Even in flowers they were meant to be. I grinned. 

“Well, did he or didn’t he?” I whispered.

Satin grinned then. “Our boy did!”

We shared a fist bump and chuckled. We stilled when he heard the sound of a motorcycle nearby.

“I think the coast is clear,” he said after taking a peek.

We sat up and Satin then started the car.

We were chatting away at how this was actually good for our friend when suddenly, we noticed two persons on a motorcycle beside us.

It was too late to roll up the windows just as it was too late for them to push down the visors of their helmets. It was a boy and a girl – I glanced at Satin and his eyes lit up in surprise. It was too much of a coincidence.

We all shared a look and burst out laughing, the girl made a gesture of zipping her lips shut and we nodded before splitting into different directions.

This was going to be an interesting year.

“Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Highgarden, where we lay our scene…” Satin said dramatically before laughing once again.

I paused for a moment in surprise. Households – does Satin know as well? Maybe Jon told him too. Most likely, as they were older friends than we were.

And then I realized something.

House Stark.

House Targaryen.

Jon was –

Oh dear.

Chapter Text

Jon

 

"Why hello handsome, don't you look extra delicious, right now."

I almost gagged at the all too familiar and heavily accented purring of Arianne Martell, curious, I took a peek above the script I was holding and I almost laughed when I saw that it was indeed the Martell jewel, perched on no other than Loras Tyrell's lap.

Well, there go my eyes. 

I shifted to see who else were here backstage. It was only the three of us and Jaqen H'gar sprawled on the bench behind them with his script over his face while he napped.

I admit I was only pretending to go over the script while I was lost in thought about the exciting turn of events late last night…as well as this morning. I could feel the heat rush through me but I stopped myself and focused once more on the scene in front of me.

I couldn't help but smirk. Tyrell has been trying all summer to chase that but Arianne preferred me much to his complete dismay and my complete surprise. 

It wasn't a question of attraction. The Princess of Dorne, the next-in-line to one of the only two remaining monarchies in Westeros was extremely attractive with the brains and the fierceness to match that beauty. But if you've known her from Adam and nothing's happened yet, then that is that. And as recent revelations have shown, we were… cousins.

And that’s just what I need, a step closer to my loving father. I thought bitterly. So, no thanks.

I stifled a sigh. I have no idea if she knew but for all I’ve known her, when it came to my origins, she never pried. She never does. It’s the Dornish way, I suppose. Labels and names were trite for them – well, us. Character was the only thing that mattered. Honor will come easy for the deserving – that’s why it was a blessing that I grew up in Dorne. I don’t know where my mother came from, but I know it wasn’t there. But it doesn’t matter, it never did.

I shook away those thoughts before the feelings follow. Anyway, if Arianne took my rejection bad, you wouldn't see it. Not Arianne Martell. She just simply shrugged and laughed in my face before taking Arys Oakheart by the balls that same day while still seeing Gerold Dayne on the side.

That, and the fact that Arianne was also engaged to my un--Arianne was engaged to Dragonstone councilor, Viserys Targaryen. That alone was almost enough to encourage her rebellious serial dating. I chuckled.

"What are you laughing at?"

Busted.

I put down my script and looked up at a highly amused Arianne and a... bored Loras? 

She crossed her arms against her chest and raised a brow, never leaving her spot on Loras' lap. “Well? If it’s jealousy, Jon Snow, I hate to tell you but you had your chance, lover,” she smirked.

I shook my head and smirked back. "It’s nothing. It's just that... this is a rather interesting change of heart." At that Loras scowled.

"The boy speaks the truth."

I looked behind me and saw Satin wagging his brows at Arianne as he walked up to them. "Bored with Knight one and two already?" he crouched in front of them with his hands clasped together on his back.

Arianne simply tossed her hair and looked sweetly down at Loras while she touched his face. "Oh, they keep me plenty occupied, but I always have time for more.”

Loras reddened but gently removed her hand from his cheek, before helping both of them up with a grace that could be envied. I almost gagged at him when he kissed that same hand and looked up at her apologetically.

“As much as I would love nothing but to keep you entertained, my lady, but I have to decline,” he said with a flick of his hair.

We all looked at him like he grew three heads. Even Jaqen was awake now and watching Loras curiously.

Arianne pursed her lips and looked at him suspiciously. “And why not?”

Satin touched Loras’ forehead and kept shaking his head at him. “Are you sick? Loras Tyrell saying no to a pretty thing?”

Loras stepped back and chuckled. “I’m afraid no, to the first. And I’m afraid, yes, to the second.”

“Oh I know this look,” Arianne poked him.

Satin raised his brows and grinned.

Oh bloody fuck. I know what this is.

Satin pushed Loras back to his chair and crossed his arms in front of him. Arianne followed. “Out with it, Loras. Who is the skirt or the pants here?”

Loras just grinned at them and gave a shrug.

Arianne’s eyes lit up and pointed at him. “I bet it’s a freshman. I bet it’s one of the famous two. I’d say three but the third would be your sister, unless it's her of course. But then again, I don't judge.” 

Satin grinned wider as he took in Arianne’s words, only wrinkling his nose at the last statement. “Oh you must mean the first daughter, or the senator’s,” he said while looking at me when he said the latter.

I gritted my teeth but kept my face disinterested. I should’ve just left minutes ago but I had to know.

Satin then looked at Jaqen, "Since you're up, what do you think?"

Jaqen usually had his poker face on but right now, he raised a brow and gave a rare half-smile. "A man does have two names to give," he said while raising two fingers. Gods, he was still talking in third person. 

"See? Even Jaqen knows who we're talking about. So come on, spill," Satin urged while he tapped his foot.

I looked at Loras and he sighed before nodding, raising his hands in surrender. “Fine, it’s the senator’s.”

Arianne rolled her eyes while Satin grinned like a cat who ate the canary while he looked at me but he wasn’t the only one who glanced my way. I felt another pair of eyes on me and knew that it was Jaqen. Seven hells, does he know? “My, my, my. Do tell us more. Spare no details. She must be quite the girl to make you suddenly monogamous,” Satin bellowed.

Arianne shook her head sharply. “Impossible. For you to be anything but monogamous, and for Sansa Stark to date someone who is not in the least bit, monogamous.”

Loras just smiled cockily and I fought the urge to hit that off him.

Arianne’s jaw dropped. “No! You got the Ice Queen to say yes to you?”

Ice Queen? I then remembered what Satin revealed last night and it still sent my blood to boil from thinking that they labeled Sansa as such without knowing she had reasons for being selective. 

Loras stood up and brushed his hair. “If you must know, I spent the afternoon yesterday, taking her on a grand tour around our family garden.” I wanted to stab him for the way he phrased that. Was that where they went? But, Margaery was with them. If I was ticked off before, now I was bordering on livid.

I was battling demons in my mind when Satin raised a questioning brow at him. “Well, from the way you gave me the same…tour last night makes me question a lot of things. Or maybe we got different...tour packages.

My rage melted as I bit the inside of my cheek from laughing. May the old gods bless you Satin Flowers. I shot him an appreciative look and he winked at me discreetly.

Arianne was laughing while Loras sulked a litte, glaring at Satin. “Well, well, well. That must’ve been a rather… short unsatisfying tour for you to accommodate another after.”

Loras huffed then put his cocky grin back. “Fine, it was really just a harmless tour – my sister was there the whole time, cock-blocking me on every turn for some reason, but then again, she does have a thing for sweet young things.”

I almost sighed in relief, taking note to give Margaery a huge tip next time. So she was a student here too. Interesting. Maybe I can gain an alliance…

“See? I stand by my statement. Give it up. She’ll not be looking for anything casual,” Arianne smirked.

Loras gave a mocking scoff, “You hurt me so. What if I tell you I’m turning over a new leaf?”

At that everyone burst out laughing. Even Jaqen couldn’t hold his laughter.

Loras snapped his head at me and glared. “What are you laughing at?” Then the smile was quickly back. “I apologize. I think I might learn a thing or two from you, Snow. After all, you are in a serious monogamous relationship with your hand, aren’t you?”

I stood up then and was ready to beat the crap out of him.

“Ooh, feisty. What are you going to do, teacher? Spank me?”

I bristled and took a step forward but before I could take another step, Arianne was holding me from behind, while Satin stood between Loras and I. Jaqen was standing as well, looking back and forth Loras and I, ready to intervene.

“Calm down, Jon. Loras was just dicking around. Come on, let’s take a walk,” he yanked at me.

I gave a huff and stomped away. “Fine.”

“And you, my beautiful asshole, stop laughing and get over yourself. And Arianne is right. You should just give up. Or, wait. No. Don’t give up. I’ll pay big money to see you get stabbed with ice,” Satin yelled over his shoulder.

When we were outside, I fished for my pack and lit one up. Gods, I was clean for weeks too.

“Gross, Jon. I thought you quit that,” Satin pinched his nose.

I gave him a look that shut him up, then offered the pack to him. Disgusted as he looked, he took one anyway.

“Well, it seems you have competition,” he said after taking a long drag. “Good thing his own sister is on your side.”

I kept silent, taking a long drag myself and stubbing it with my boot after. Picking it up and flicking it over the trash bin.

“What are you going to do?”

I looked up and remembered what happened late last night and a blush came over me.

“Ooh, I rather like that look on you. What happened anyway? Did you push through? Did you give the flowers?”

I couldn’t stop the grin then but kept silent, making a move to walk away.

“No –no – no, stop right there Jon Snow!” He yelled after me.

I stopped then and looked over my shoulder. “Yeah. Yeah I did.”

Suddenly, Arianne poked her head out the back door – cutting off whatever Satin wanted to say. “Sorry to interrupt your disgusting powwow. But break time is over. Get your cute asses back here.”

I shrugged and grinned at a very frustrated Satin before walking back in. He would, no doubt, pray for the rehearsal to finish fast to hound me with details. I’ve managed to avoid all of my nosy friends today but I won’t be able to back out later but there were a lot of things that happened that I wanted to keep between Sansa and I – something of ours. I grinned. Ours, I like the sound of that. It didn’t even last for a minute but that moment was ours. And the Others can take them, I was going to keep that moment sacred for my own.

Now just how much do I tell them?

 


 Sansa

 

“Sansa?”

I blinked and saw Talla waving her hand in front of my face. I blushed and looked at her sheepishly, tucking a strand behind my ear. Practice has just ended and we were packing up.

“Sorry, Talla. What was it you were saying?”

Talla sighed and repeated her question. “I was asking if you had plans tonight? My brother is taking me to the diner. You wanna come with?”

I bit my lip, “Can I take a raincheck? I was hoping to maybe just turn in tonight. Otherwise, I would love to come.”

She waved me off. “That’s fine,” then she looked at me knowingly. “You do look like you need more sleep. I do wonder what kept you up last night…”

I couldn’t keep from blushing then, so I kept my lips shut. She definitely knew that I was daydreaming about something. Well, if she knew what happened last night and this morning, she’d get it too. But that was something for the books. A very very secret set of books. I fought a smile.

She sighed. “Fine. Maybe next time,” she winked. 

I grinned at her then. “See you tomorrow, Talla.”

“Yeah, yeah. Hugs and kisses,” though her tone was sarcastic, it was all harmless. "You know, you can't avoid us forever. Marg and I are friends now. Even Renly texted me this morning."

Mother, Maiden, and Crone, I can certainly try.

I just gave her a flying kiss and a wave and she rolled her eyes, before waving back and leaving.

Carefully swinging the strap of my cello around me, I was about to leave when I heard Talla walking back and calling me.

I looked back at her and she grinned as she nodded her head towards the door to the other rehearsal theatre. “I think the theatre kids are starting their rehearsals back there.”

My heart started beating fast. I struggled to keep my face impassive. “Yeah? So?”

She shook her head and shrugged. “Just thought you might be interested. I just saw Loras and my brother's friend, you know, Jon Snow are over there…with their swords drawn out,” she smiled cheekily.

I turned beet red then and tried to shake my head at her insinuations. Gods. Do I have ‘maiden' written on my forehead? I knew it was a mistake to tell her about the afternoon with the Tyrells. But she knew I went with them and it was better to give her that than… than well…and she knew I figured out her connection with...him. 

“Bye, Sansa, don’t stay up too late,” she winked.

I sighed and waved her off.

I was about to follow her and walk out but I couldn’t help but look at the…other door. I bit my lip. I was curious, I admit. I wanted to see him-wait-no… No Sansa.

didn’t want to see him. I just wanted to see him act.

That’s it.

That’s all there is to it. It was only fair. He did see me play, it’s only fair that I get to watch him perform too. Then I remembered the letter I found, wedged inside my sheet music.

 

            I need the starshine of your eyes,

            After the day’s great sun.

(I hope to see you play again, though please, or at least just see...you.)

- Jon

 

I blushed again as I fiddled with that piece of paper inside my pocket. His letters were getting...bolder and he always signed with his name now. My heart swelled that he really wanted to gain my trust as he said last night...

Okay.

Finally, I took a deep breath and made my way over to Theatre two.

 


 

Jon

“Monte Cristo!”

“King’s to you, Fernand.” I replied haughtily to Loras. Thank the gods that we get to rehearse this scene! I would very much take pleasure in beating this prick up.

“Edmund? How did you…”

“How did I escape?” I walked slowly towards him, making sure I held his scared eyes. “With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure,” I grinned. That’s right you ass. With absolute great pleasure. This is for your rendezvous with my love. I thought forgetting myself. Right now, I am Edmund Dantes. And my revenge shall be complete.

“So you’ve taken Mercedes,” he said with disbelief.

“And everything else. Except your life.” I kept stalking towards him, keeping my face grim while he walked backwards my sword hand twitching at the side. Yes, that’s right. I have you where I want you.

“Why are you doing this?”

I paused, fighting a scoff and smirking instead while I kept on walking closer, never taking my eyes off him for a minute. “It’s complicated. Let’s just say it’s vengeance for the life that you stole from me.”

He drew his sword first but I was quick with mine too. He swung and I parried, his sword flew out of his grasp and into mine. I threw it away at once and pointed mine at his chest while he backed himself into a wall.

Vengeance is close. Vengeance is mine.

 I won’t let you take away Sansa from me.

 

 


 

Sansa

I held my hand to my lips as I watched, completely… enchanted.

There were no other words, I was enchanted.

I could feel his hate – his thirst for revenge, his lust for Loras' – no – Fernand Mondego’s blood.

Watching them fight brought a surprisingly pleasant thrill over me. The way he moved was like watching a dance. He was so graceful and precise as if the sword was a part of his arm. Yet the way his black oxfords tightened around his biceps – the way his chest rose and fell with every passionate deep breath as he delivered his lines - every movement was completely masculine and powerful. And…sexy.

Then Fernand’s son came – he was played by another handsome actor with long black hair. They were all good – even Loras, but my eyes only saw Jon Snow.

Jon Snow.

I knew his name now.

...And many other things.

I blushed.

“Cut!”

I jumped from my thoughts once more and saw the director motioning at them while he spoke.

I thought I saw the guy who played Albert look at me, panicking, I pressed myself to a corner against a wall, praying that the darkness would be enough to hide me. I started counting to a hundred when I heard the director bark his order again.

“Action!”

I breathed out a sigh of relief and started walking back out when I tripped and landed…on a hard chest and a set of arms.

My heart was going a mile a minute and I was almost too scared to look up – but it wasn’t like I had a choice anymore.

When I finally looked up, I was met with dark eyes.

 


 

Jon

I grabbed my water bottle and gulped down almost the lot of it. I let out a breath after and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand.

I checked my watch and sighed when I saw that it was nearly eleven. I won’t make it back in time to…

“Snow." 

Here we go. I groaned as I stood up and grabbed my bag. “Flowers.”  

He laughed at my expression. “Good job back there destroying Loras-er-Fernand. I mean, good job for the Count but I think that swordplay was all Lord Commander Snow.”

I chuckled while I shook my head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was merely acting.”

“Sure, sure,” he dismissed with a wave. He then placed his hands on his waist and eyed me.

I drew a hand down my face and huffed. “Can we do this some other time? I just want to take a shower and sleep.”

Satin let out a breath dramatically and nodded. “Fine. But you can’t keep all your ‘liaisons’ a secret for too long you know.”

“I can certainly try,” I challenged.

But he just gave me a confident look and raised his brow. “Is that so?”

I gave a nod. “Fraid so.” Then I turned my back at him, thinking that maybe if I sped up I might still catch her playing.

“Then I guess I would just have to open this love note and see for myself what naughty things you’ve been writing to each other.”

I whipped my head back and looked at him, daring him to make a joke.

His smile grew wider as he held up a folded note between his fingers. My heart sped up and I automatically reached out but at the last second, he snatched it away and stepped back.

I frowned at him then.

“Uh, no. You have to promise me first that you’ll tell us everything,” he grinned while using the note to fan himself.

I drew a hand down my face and gave a terse nod. “Fine, I’ll meet you lot before rehearsals tomorrow. I will answer questions, but not all.”

He gave a nod. “Good enough for me. Here you go.”

I snatched it from him before he changed his mind. “How’d you get it anyway?”

He grinned as he buffed his nails. “A man has many ways.” Great. He was either taking a cue from Jaqen or that Braavosi was in on it. Fine. I’ll just get it out of them later. There were more important things. I looked back down at the note and noticed that he was still standing beside me.

I looked at him then and recognized the expectant look in his eyes but there was no way I was reading my note here. Grinning, I tucked the letter inside my breast pocket earning a groan from him as I started walking out.

“You’re an ass, Jon Snow,” he yelled at me.

“An ass, you or Loras-fucking-Tyrell will never get,” I yelled back.

Please, brooding is not my type,” he scoffed.

"A man is too excited to care."

I whipped my head back and saw Jaqen raise his brows at me and smirked. Satin was all out laughing now. "Bye Romeo. Parting is such sweet sorrow."

For the love of the Stranger.

I grumbled and flipped them off as I made my way towards my bike, all the while the note was burning a hole in my pocket.

Once the coast was clear, I immediately took it out and read it, smiling stupidly. A man was right. A man was exci - fuck, that does catch on. I shook my head and focused on reading. 

 

 

I don’t know what dark plan lies within you. Nor do I know by what design we were asked to live without each other these years. But God has offered us a new beginning…

 

I stopped reading for a moment, my jaw dropping while a hand absently flew to my forehead. Did she just? This was – did she just use Mercèdes'? I sucked in a breath. Was she watching me rehearse? My brain was short circuiting but I forced myself to look back and continue reading.

 

(Bravo, Monsieur Snow, as you’ve revealed, or rather, Monsieur Dantes. My you are big on big reveals, aren't you? Anyway, Jon Snow, I meant what Mercedes meant. But even still, until you prove me wrong, you are, cute count or not, still a smeg head…monsieur).

  

From this point on, I pretty much lost my damn mind.

Because here in the middle of the parking lot, I was pumping my fist in the air and walking with a fucking skip.

Sure, she called me a smeg head, but one, she watched me perform and she liked it, two, she called me cute. And more than that, Gods, she hinted that she wanted this.

Now she’ll be all I see when Arianne delivers that line.

Seven hells. I was acting like a moon-eyed high green boy, but gods be good was I happy – positively mirthful.

Smeg head.

I grinned. 

I looked at my stupid expression reflected on my helmet.

A very happy smeg head, yeah?



~ Interlude ~

Voices in the Dark

 ???

“Sīkudi Nopāzmi! Nothing! We got nothing! And at one point I was this close to telling that we saw something that night.

          “Shhhhhh! Not so loud! Anyway. Not much luck either. We suspect he’s doing it as bloody revenge for always teasing             him that he knows nothing,” he whispered hurriedly.

“Well, they can’t have it both ways - Ouch!"

        "Sorry! It's the only place I can think off. Don't mind the branches."

"You sure picked a bloody spot . Anyway. Just that one day they both cracked and asked for help and now that something happened that definitely changed things for them, they’re as silent as the Silent Sisters! What the bloody fuck happened when we left?” she whispered back.

          “Hang on, while I share your frustration, I assume that you know.”

A sigh.

“Yes. But we decided it’s best not to tell.”

           Another sigh.

           “I agree mostly. I truly do.”

“But?”

          “You know why.”

“But it’s worth it, don’t you think?”

           “…”

“Well?”

          “It is. But high stakes. High wins. Devastating losses.”

“Then we’ll just have to make sure they both win. But are you sure your boy is good enough for our girl?”

       “Are you sure your girl is good enough for our boy?”

 

They grinned and with a nod, they walked out from the shadows.

 

Exit, stage left.



 

 

Sansa

I plopped face down on my bed as soon as I reached my bedroom, trying to stifle my cringing by burying my head under the pillows.

What have I done?

I rolled over and pressed the pillow over my eyes with one hand, while I pressed the back of my fist to my mouth. 

Why did I give in?

I wanted to scream at my panicked thoughts and I knew I was overthinking again. 

I only budged a little...

Then I remembered falling into the chest of a guy with dirty blonde hair streaked with white and red who spoke in third person. And behind him was the pretty guy who played Albert Mondego - what happened after that was even more humiliating.

Yes, they caught me and somehow, they knew what they caught me from but even more surprising was how they didn't give me a hard time about it. It was the guy I tripped on who broke the silence. His blue eyes weren't really dark as I thought they were - must be the shadows reflecting on his eyes that were actually very light - almost silver and they were neutral through it all as he spoke. "A girl must have a message to send."

I gaped at him and saw the other guy mirroring my look. Odd. 

I couldn't think of an excuse and I don't know if denying it was an option, but I wondered briefly if maybe Talla had a hand in this. And that got me thinking in turn if he had a hand in this. I mean, he asked Talla before.

"Is this the first time you've seen him?"

I blinked. It was the pretty one who spoke. "Sorry?"

He grinned. "I asked if this was the first time you've seen him," he repeated, “Act, of course,” he added and I could sense he was baiting me. 

I could feel my cheeks burning up but I couldn't answer. 

I remembered he stepped beside me and nodded at Jon who was practicing the duel scene. "He's not usually this...inspired."

He knows.

He then glanced down at me, "So, how can we be of assistance, my lady?"

I bit my lip then, I remembered scrambling my brain, thinking of what I should do. 

"I assure you, we won't say anything, you don't want to. We are at your disposal," he assured. I looked up at him then and saw the sincerity in his eyes. I looked at the other guy and he gave a quick nod. I realized then that at any given point, they could've outed me and left me to my humiliation but here they were, probably his friends, and definitely a stranger to me, giving me a chance. 

I remembered sighing and finally giving a nod and the rest we all know.

Suddenly, my phone began ringing. I gave a deep sigh and drew the covers over my head. 

I wanted to just ignore it but one, there was only so much Who run the world? verses I could take right now and two, it was Dany.

Groaning, I grabbed my phone and answered.

"Hey Dany, what's up?"

"Don't you what's up me, Sansa Stark and start telling me about your day. And if you're generous, you might want to spill on your lovely evening you’ve yet to divulge."

I pinched the skin between my brows and sighed. I decided that I would tell everything that happened last night except the part where I found him looking at me from below my balcony. Some things you just want to keep to yourself you know? 

"Dany, can we do this some other time? It's late," I tried to beg off.

"Sa-a-ans," she pleaded.

I sighed. "Dany...it's not that I'm keeping things from you. It's just that... I don't want to, you know, get ahead of myself should - I - well, it's just that..." I paused, struggling on what to say. "I just want to keep this - whatever it is, on a low profile for now, okay?" That and I don't want to gush about something that may not be, or keep my hopes up, or get ahead of my heart only to have it invested in something that's not going where I hope it would. I wanted to say so badly.

That and I...selfish as it was, I wanted to keep that moment - our moment - those forty-five seconds of something close to magical just...ours...if not, at least forty-five seconds of being perfectly...mine to keep. 

I wanted so badly to tell her everything - tell her and Renly how I'm starting to... I shook my head. I didn't want to get caught up in the same bad pattern. I wanted to feel some control this time and I couldn't do it by saying everything and let my friends pick apart every detail of what's happening. If I was going to learn another lesson, then I'll learn it by myself. It's not that I didn't trust them. I do. It's myself I had to learn how to trust more. I know it's pretty bad thinking considering my past relationships, but I still have to do it.

"It's not that I don't trust you guys or I don't feel comfortable enough to share-" I started but she cut me off.

"Oh baby girl. I think I understand now," she said with a sad tone. 

"Yeah?" I felt bad that she had to feel sympathy and maybe some pity just to understand. Though I expected that, neither of which I  wanted or needed.

"Listen, Sans. We know. And we trust you, we really do. Your elders are just worried about you but we old folks are excited too," she tried to joke and it did manage a small laugh from me. "We'll leave you to it but just know that we love you and we have your back."

I started to tear up, overwhelmed. "I know, I truly do," I said quickly. 

She laughed at the other end, "That's our girl. Oh and Sans? We won't pester you as much –key words being ‘as much’ which is pretty relative, but... Sans? We have a good feeling with this one."

My heart soared and I felt a queer mixture of both relief and terror. "I-I do too. But..."

"Ah, the 'but'. It's okay to feel scared sweetie. Because I have a feeling he's terrified as fuck too. More even. If not, I'm sure you'll show him where The Others can take him before we can even Dracarys his ass."

I laughed then.

"There it is. Anyway, I'll leave you to it. Again, I'll cut my inquisitions to a minimum yet expect to get many many texts. Renly and I made it our mission to provide you with many insults from films and books."

"Thanks Dany, I'll call you. Send my love to Robb and Renly."

“Will happily do the first, begrudgingly text the second.”

I cringed at the first statement, did not want that visual. “Well, it would be weird if you did the second and betrayed my poor brother.”

She cracked up at that. “As if that particular Stag will let me mount him. The Young Wolf though…”

“Okay, okay! Buh-bye.” I quickly hanged up on a still laughing Dany. You’d think walking in on them doing the nasty would shame them a little but no. It only got worse. They took that as a liberation from being cautious around me. I shuddered at the graphic images that flashed.

I got up from my bed, reached into my bag and took out my binder, opening it to see all the…notes I received today.

I took them and brought them to my dresser and I couldn’t help the smile that came when I saw and smelt the flowers he gave me. I decided to risk asking Margaery about the meaning of each one when I dropped by their café.

My stomach felt fluttery when I remembered each explanation. I smiled smugly when I remembered she asked why and I just grinned at her and took my coffee and lemon cake to go.

Yes. Some things you just want to keep to yourself. I thought as I laid out all the carefully folded notes.

There was Anna Karenina on a post-it, Stardust on a page from a notebook, The Last Unicorn on a napkin from Highgarden Café that came with a rose macaron, a Charles Hansen Towne poem, and the last was, a full paged letter with a Lord Byron poem.

Five.

I received five today. And they were very well thought out starting with a reference to last night, then a reference to the sun with a wish for a beautiful morning, and ended with a reference to stars. I would be a damned fool if I said I didn’t feel anything.

He was seriously taking on the challenge I gave him. Well, I did sneak into his room to give him that particular challenge. I grinned. Dany and the others would love to know about that.

Letters. Right. The longest one came with another stem of Snow drop on my balcony. The next one was a post-it that mysteriously appeared on my cello case during my second morning course. The third was waiting for me when I met Talla for lunch at the diner. The fourth was the one wedged inside my sheet music which I found just before practice. The last  found inside my mail box along with another snow drop.

They were all famous quotes that made me blush of course, but what he wrote beneath them was what truly mattered.

All of them, he signed with his name but he also left bits and pieces of information about him on most like he said he would with his very lengthy letter last night.

That letter.

Seven bless me.

He started by writing his name. I’m Jon Snow. He wrote. And he swore he only found out that we were neighbors. And he wanted to meet me but at my own terms.

But that wasn’t what made me fall for him a little.It was what he meant to do from then on. Every now and then, he promised, he would tell me something about himself in his letters.

So far I’ve learned, that he was Jon Snow, he was in the Acting program majoring in Acting and Scriptwriting. He hates Kanye West. He loves dogs. While he was well read he admitted that he turned to google twice to think of what to write.

I was in the middle of finally allowing myself to gush when I heard the sound of a motorcycle pulling up.

He was home.

My heart skipped a beat as I contemplated on what to do when I got an idea.

Time to use what I’ve learned.

I grabbed my cello and played near my open window, making sure to keep out of sight. I wasn’t brave enough to play out in the open…at least for him right now but I’m sure he could still hear me.

Knowledge is power.


 

Jon

I took off my helmet after parking my bike and at once I was greeted by the sound of her playing.

At first my heart started doing somersaults but when I heard what she was playing, I grimaced and couldn’t help uttering a curse and a groan.

Seven hells!”

Stronger.

She was playing fucking Kanye West.

I had to shake my head and laugh. I brought this upon myself. I looked up and felt a tiny bit disappointed when I didn’t see her in her balcony but I saw the lights were on and her window was open.

Others take me, she picked the bloody song I hated the most, yet the silver lining, I realized was, as much as I hated Yeezus, there was no denying it that right this moment, she was playing for me. I grinned. I’ll take it.

Oh, it would take more than masterful death threats, kissing orcs, being called a smeg head and other colorful insults, and even fucking Kanye West to keep me away, my lady.

I looked at her front door and chuckled again when I saw that the huge Gandalf poster was still on it. And I remembered of course, her warning and her challenge were taped to my bedroom window. I still can’t get over the fact that she was there.

In my bedroom.

While I was sleeping.

Seven bloody hells.

Thank the old gods and the new and Rh’ollor and even the drowned god, that I always woke up early to see every note she left as evidences of her break in. Yes, definitely not sharing that part to my friends and their perversions.

The song ended and I was half tempted to climb over to her balcony like I did this morning and meet her head on, or maybe shout out for her to bring down her hair and let me climb up her window or something equally stupid. But I promised we would meet on her own terms.

So I honked my bike horn twice and watched as she shut her window, but not before giving me a brief mischievous smile that stopped my heart.

Sam and the others would eat this up and harass me to no ends if they knew everything but I was right not to tell them too much – especially the events of last night.

Last night was magic.

I don’t want it to be tainted with conspiracies and lewdness and overanalyzing. It was what it was and it was, in that moment, perfect.

Those few seconds were the most terrifying, most nerve wracking, and most thrillingly – charged seconds of my life.

…and we haven’t even touched yet.

So I decided right then and there, the moment our eyes truly met for the first time, that whatever conditions, whatever challenges, whatever it takes, I’ll meet them all. I know she was being cautious. I know I had to win her trust. And from the looks of it, I’m slowly getting somewhere. She’s letting me in, little by little.

So, yes, we’re playing a game but it’s a game I’m willing to bet all. I’ve never done anything half assed and I’m not about to start.

I had just come through my door when my phone rang.

Sam.

I ran a hand down my face. Gods were they relentless. And bloody buggers sure know how to kill a mood.

Grumbling, I answered. “Sam.”

“Jon! How was your day?”

“Good. And no I will not elaborate until tomorrow before my rehearsals,” I retorted.

“Not even to your sworn brother, ey Lord Commander?”

I rolled my eyes. “Not even to my dog back in Starfall.” I miss my boy Ghost.

“Fine. Tomorrow then, Romeo. Or Edmond? Count? Dread Pirate Roberts?  Or how about Legolas? No, wait, are you Han Solo today?”

“Cute, Sam. But it’s smeg head today.”

He laughed from the other line. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

“Yes, and that’s the end. Good night Sam.”

I hung up before he could reply, chuckling, feeling only the tiniest bit guilty for that dick move.

I fished out all the letters I received and put them all – except the ones taped to my window as well as the last one I received, under lock and key inside my writing desk.

I dressed down to my boxers, flopped on my bed and reread her last note, and stared wistfully at the ceiling, planning how to woo her tomorrow so we can start our new beginning.

 

 

Chapter Text

~Figures in the Dark~

???

Present time

 

They meet in a dark alcove hidden in the gardens with nothing but two flashlights, and a large blanket over the grass.

“Do you have them?” the girl asks.

“I do,” the boy answers, taking out a packet of letters and notes and spreading them over the blanket. “You?”

The girl nods, placing her own set of papers in front of her. “Sorry if they’re blurry. It took a mother to take pictures but I brightened it up as best I could before I printed them.” These are the ones that were from that night.

“You have to be specific, that night or that bloody night?”

The girl sighs in frustration. “That night that we weren’t supposed to see.”

“Okay. Spread them. These were from the same night. Did you read the ones Night sent by ‘plane’ after he saw her play?” the boy asks.

The girl nods. “Yes, he wants them to start over.”

“Prolly asking permission to finally talk to Princess.”

“That seems okay, but you do know why she wrote her reply don’t you?” The girl prompts.

The boy sighs. “Yes. She figured out the connection. Only one person knew about her nightly routine, and that was found out by accident even. So, him being there would really be suspicious – maybe planned.”

“Was it?”

The boy sighs and nods. “In a way, yeah. He was given a hint of that.”

The girl ran a hand down her face. “Seven hells, so she was right. Anyway, he figured it out that’s why he wrote this letter,” she waved a folded piece. “This came with the three stems.” She holds the letter written on a page from a notebook out to him but snatches it back before he could grasp it, earning a raised brow from the boy. “It’s just… this one is really personal. I feel guilty reading it.”

The boy grimaces and raises a brow. “Getting them in the first place is the start of our charges. Why stop now?” he reaches for it again.

She bites her lip, the letter still clutched to her chest. “What are we doing again?”

“What we must. We have to know how deep they started, how deep it went, before that bloody night happened,” the boy insists. “And we have to know what lead to that bloody night! I’m already tempted to drug him or inebriate him to get the truth out.”

The girl lets out a breath and nods in defeat, surrendering the letter to the boy’s waiting hand who read it out loud.

 

Dear Sansa,

Watching you play seemed such a crime to intrude into something otherworldly beautiful yet deeply personal, knowing fully well your music wasn’t meant for ears other than yours. But I’d gladly pay the fine, because it’s seemed a bigger crime not to admire such a scene. And as they say, “Beauty awakens the soul to act1.”

Forgive me for my intrusion, and forgive me for many other things. I’m not a stalker, I hope you believe me. So, I’ll start by saying, my name is Jon Snow. I’m just Jon Snow. “No one of consequence2.” And I swear I didn’t know we were neighbors before this night. If I did, maybe you would’ve met me differently. I wanted so badly to go up and talk to you that day at Highgarden Café but I’m shit at talking to pretty girls. Always been. So, I remembered I was inspired I stole some Shakespeare and you caught me off guard with Westley’s line which was bloody brilliant. Sorry for this morning, you caught me again. If you let me, I’ll prove how serious I am. But if you won’t, I’ll stop but I very much wouldn’t like to stop. I don’t mean to hold you at a disadvantage as you say. And you have every right not to trust me, a stranger. So I’ll endeavor not to be one, and promise to win your trust if it’s okay. So, to give you some leverage, here are some things about me so you won’t think I’m hiding behind anonymity. By all means, verify. Jon Snow, my lady, from Dorne. Third year Acting and Scriptwriting. It sounds bad, I know. I’m training to play someone I’m not and to write stories, all the more reason as if you don’t have reasons enough to be suspicious of me but if anything, my friends can attest to my honesty especially with matters such as this. I also got all your clever references, so yes I’m a film geek. And I’m risking a lot by admitting this too, but I hate Kanye West. Random I know If you allow me to continue, I’ll keep writing things about me at the risk of sounding boring. What say you my lady? Will you let me?

Sincerely, Desperately,

Jon Snow

 

The girl swoons while the boy chuckles when he was done reading.

“Is he really all kinds of adorkable?” the girl asks.

“Well, he has his own bloody charm despite the brooding. He’s bloody honest and honorable to a fault, we can attest. But this – this is something new. I’ve never known him to know how to court. He’s goddamned shy as hell. But now he’s courting –  Seven hells, that’s what this is right?”

The girl giggles. “In a traditional sense.”

“Well, he is oddly old-fashioned. So, I’m not really surprised though it suits him. Courage in writing. He’s really shit at talking to girls. And that’s coming from me,” he smirks.

“But he’s so pretty!” the girl protests.

The boy chuckles. “Better not tell him that. He hates it. Poor guy doesn’t think too much of himself. Well, apart from his acting skills anyway. He’s also hardly the type to ask for anything. But when he wants something, he really works for it. The only time we ever saw him wanting, is when he auditions for parts he wants. And this here? He’s auditioning for her this time. And you should know, he’s a damn perfectionist. She’ll expect to be thoroughly courted. With permission, of course.”

The girl looks impressed. “Hmm. So did you get her reply? All we know is that she let it continue.”

The boy shows him something from his phone. “These two were taped on his bedroom window of all places. I asked them when that happened, he said it was that night and nothing more.”

 “Have fun stormin’ the castle3!”

 

“If you spend word for word with me, I shall make your wit bankrupt4.”

(Good luck, Jon Snow)

 

The boy and girl share a laugh.

“Gods, that girl. She couldn’t give him anything? Not even a little bit? There’s even a bloody Gandalf on her door.” The girl rolled her eyes.

“Well, I think there was one more letter but I wasn’t able to take a picture of the annotations on the second half of the paper. But here’s the first part. It’s from X-men, I think:

 

You know what happens when I touch somebody, you wanna end up in the hospital5?

 

“That’s a little…odd. End up in the hospital?” The boy asks.

The girl sighs. “Now that’s a little personal. One of her exes called her Rogue. Claiming that she sucks the life force out of any man with her ‘neediness’ and that she was a ‘tease’. But those are completely untrue. Very far from it. We think that he started the rumor because he got badly beat up by her brother and his friends when they found out how horrible he was to her.”

“What a dick,” the boy wrinkles his nose.

“She had horrible exes. One after the other. So now do you get it a little bit? Why she’s keeping him at arm’s length? Why all these warnings? It’s not because she doesn’t like him,” the girl explains. “If it was any other, she’d have stopped cold turkey, but no. She tries to push him away, but not once did she say no…at least, so far right?”

“Right. That’s something. And he’s not the type to really push, but he takes every in he can get. Do you have his reply to that?”

She nods and hands him five pieces of paper. She points to one. “This one was his immediate reply, I think. And I think this was left for her first thing in the morning. No quote on this. Just a very direct letter.” 

Dear Sansa,

  Good morning!

I won’t be able to see your radiance this morning, but I wanted to wish you a good day. I don’t know how you snuck inside my room, but it’s going to take more than a white wizard, a Spaniard, and a pirate to keep me from trying. And like Gambit said to Rogue when she warned her, ‘Maybe it’s worth it, you know?6’. Still, thank you for not calling the cops on me last night. And thank you for the smile that was brighter than the stars last night. That tiny beautiful smile would have to tide me over until I see you again. I hope you like the flowers. These first ones may be given in part in apology but the next ones won’t be. I swear it. I really am sorry for coming off as a stalker. But I’m not sorry I got to watch you play. You’re even more beautiful when you play.

  Sincerely,

Jon Snow

 

Realization dawns on the boy to which the girl shrugs and shakes her head. “She snuck inside his room?” the boy’s eyes widened.

“Apparently. We’re still wrapping our minds around that image,” the girl huffs while she crosses her arms.

The boy whistles. “Wow. But more importantly, he’s going in for the kill. And he answered her Rogue with Gambit!”

The girl softens and gushes. “I’m sure it was the exact thing she wanted to hear. Gods, he is keen!”

“I told you, never half-assed,” he beams while pointing a finger for emphasis but then shifts when he sees her smile fades away.

“What is it?”

“This was a good start, you know? And from what I saw from their 'secret balcony scene”' I swear they fell in love right then and there. Then that bloody night. Gods, if they were tight lipped before, they're practically Silent Sisters about that bloody night and what came after” she sighed.

“Let’s just keep going and try to piece things together,” he said as he read the rest of the notes.

“These other four, her classmate said kept popping up in unexpected places. Do you know how he could’ve done that?” she looks up at him.

He scrunches his face answering her while he goes over the papers. “Likely, he hired someone to do it. Certainly not one of us because nobody has a bloody clue… By the Seven! He sent her one for each time of the day. Just look at all of these… suns, stars…Oh she wrote where she found it.”

 

He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking7.

(Good morning! Have a great day. I'm an early riser but apparently, I sleep like the dead as you've proven.)

-Jon (second period on my chair)

 

Every lover is in his heart, a madman, and in his head, a minstrel8.

(Don’t ask, just wanted to remind you not to forget me.) -  Jon (Post it inside my cello case)

 

 

Your name is a golden bell hung in my heart. I would break my body to pieces to call you once by your name9.

(Maybe I’ll take part time at Highgarden. Maybe I’ll get your dessert right for once. Though I only know how to make black coffee. And I’m shit at baking)

-Jon (Diner, came with a Rose macaron from Highgarden)

 

  I need the starshine of your eyes,

            After the day’s great sun10.

(I hope to see you play again, though please, or at least just see you.)

- Jon (inside my sheet music before practice)

 

 

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies11.

(In case I don’t see you at all today. Know I’m praying for another magical night)

-Jon Snow (mailbox with a snowdrop)

 

 

“Gods, what a sap, right?” the girl beams up at him and giggles.

The boy blinks and blinks and wipes his forehead. “Seven hells, he’s overdoing it.”

“Morning, afternoon, and night. Such a curious thing. Wonder how he’ll react when he finds out she calls him Night,” the girl snickers.

The boy smirks, “Really? Well, Ser Night is clearly over the fucking moon. Gods, that he is capable of this cheesiness!”

“Oh come on, I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of girl but even I think he’s sweet. It’s probably a strategy. Kill her with overbearing romance as fiery as his princess’ unladylike comebacks,” the girl elbows him.

“Well, that’s a good point – but, nah, I changed my mind. I think he’s the type who knows when he knows. I think he’s always been ready for this all his life and was just waiting for the right time," the boy elbows her back.

The girl groans in frustration. “Then we really need to know! Seven hells, what the fuck happened that bloody night?"

I took a tiny step back and bit back the curse that almost came out when I heard the crunch below me.

“What the fuck was that?”

“Shhh!”

“Anybody there?”

Silence.

“That was probably nothing. Come on, let’s hurry up.”

I crouched lower and repositioned while I continued listening.


 The Night of the Opening Play: The Count of Monte Cristo, The night before present time…

Jon

 

I scanned the audience for the hundredth time, locking my eyes at one particular seat in front. My heart dropped to find it empty save for a bouquet of snowdrops and a single blue-violet orchid. So much for adding something new. Because of the curious selection of flowers, everyone assumed they came from Loras. I almost smirked each time I remember his annoyed face when he says no. He’s given her their famous Tyrell golden rose but she wouldn’t accept them. Well, she’d do so politely, but somehow I always see them ending up with one of her band mates to take home. I chose the orchid because they’re hard to get and it symbolizes a beautiful lady with the hint of purple for royalty because she’s my princess, and snow drops once more because before I knew it became a thing for me. With each bloom I give, my hope as it symbolizes go with it. Yet seeing them on that empty seat deflates it a little.

She’s not coming.

I sighed and went backstage to go to my dressing room. I checked my watch and saw that we had fifteen minutes til show time. Tonight, was the night of the opening play. It was tradition for incoming third years in our program to stage a production for the freshman for them to see what two years of being in the program can produce. No expense was spared. Nothing tops the opening play except for the year end production done by the graduating class. Start strong, end strong. This year, as we had been rehearsing since summer, was The Count of Monte Cristo. As per tradition it was always done on the third Friday night of the first month. So, by this day, it’s been three nights since the night Sansa saw me rehearse.

I allowed a small smile. Things were going well. Really well. We’ve yet to progress beyond paper but I thought that tonight would be the night.

Those three days, though I hadn’t really given out anything particularly interesting, I’ve laid my soul practically bare to her with bits and pieces – small as they were, they were more than I’ve ever shared with anyone else and done willingly so even.

And she responded to each, cleverly sassy, of course, yet still she was responding. The more I shared, the warmer and less snarky her replies were. She likes that I’m sharing. So, I thought what better way to show her who I am than to show her my passion? And that lead to me inviting her to watch.

I also asked that she watch where I can see her, front and center and to look for snow drops. That’s all. I thought when I sent it.

But it’s not. As I’ve realized later.

If she does it, it would imply many things. Our correspondence, we still carried on but I didn’t just send letters anymore.

With Loras’ admission of wanting to date her, him and scores more, I know it’s very cave man of me to piss on property – which she wasn’t, but I wanted to make a statement that I’m ready at any time to declare for her if she allows. So, I sent letters, and I also sent her flowers and dessert I still can’t perfect, according to her, the snow drops quickly becoming my only signature.

That way, everyone can see that she is being wooed. I know that we are still practically clandestine, and only my friends and I know that she responds. So, if she now sits here, front and center with a bouquet of snow drops, they’ll know she came for her secret admirer

They’ll know that she’s interested.

And they’ll figure out it’s one of us on the stage – maybe even know off the bat it’s one of the leads. I stupidly put her at an awkward position. And if she doesn’t come then that means she’s not ready yet or she’s not interested.

My face fell.

Have I ruined it?

“Jon!” Satin burst through my door, breaking me from my brooding.

“What?”

“We’re going to be delayed a little. We are down a guitar because of a stupid accident and everyone is freaking out and shouting superstitions and omens and labeling our batch to be a failure over one stupid broken fucking guitar – It’s madness!” He waved his arms.

Great.

“Don’t the music kids have extras?”

He scoffed. “You do remember that our arrogant twat batch representative did away with asking the ensemble to play for us saying that we have musicians too?”

I rubbed my forehead. Right. No way were the Music students going to help us now. “Well, I have one but it’s back in my place.”

He clapped my back hard and grinned. “Excellent, I’ll ask Samwell to get it. He’s in Old Oaks, fetching Gilly. I’m sure he’s still there.”

I wanted to protest because I didn’t want them to snoop around my stuff, most specifically Sansa’s letters but Satin was already out and gone.

I sighed. Well, Sam didn’t have time to snoop anyway. Right now, I don’t think it matters. Not if she doesn’t come anyway. For all I know, I probably ruined it all.

I dropped my head on the table and began banging against it.

Fucking idiot.


 

Sansa

 

I looked at my watch and bit my lip.

Did it start already?

Here I was, fully made up yet sitting miserably on the steps of my porch.

I even wore blue because he said he liked it.

I unfolded the note that I was gripping and began to read it again.

 

“I can no longer think of anything but you. In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me12.”

(If only in imagination, I do. But I’m still waiting for permission to just talk to you face to face. I’ll wait until you’re ready but please allow me in the meantime, to share with you my other passion. I’ll be playing Monte Cristo tonight, and I’d like you to come. Please. I’m dedicating my performance to you, and I promise to pour my whole heart in to it and I want you to see. And I want to see you watch me. Watch me perform and know that I’m performing my best only for you. Know that it’s your face I see when I face Mercédès. So please, it’s enough that you come, but it’s more if you take the seat I saved for you. You’ll know where it is, front and center, look for the snow drops.)

My heart clenched and I was blushing once more. I was incredibly touched by his courage. It’s not easy to share your passion – something you hold with a modicum of intimacy. It’s one thing to show you are passionate, another to admit to it. Behind this courage is his vulnerability. And another thing to ask to be watched.

He wants to talk to me. Touch me. Kiss me. But he’ll settle for me watching his play. Pretend it’s me he’s starring opposite with.

Before this, I was going to watch even if he didn’t ask me. But his reserving a seat for me is not a small thing. Because he started giving me snow drops in public, though anonymously, people are over their bloody minds on cracking the case of my secret admirer’s identity. One I’ve always brushed off nonchalantly, though my replies to him were nothing but. Our letters were for us and us alone. Never mind the jabs that people kept saying that the guy was too scared of getting stabbed by ice that he had to keep his distance. If only they knew how wrong they were.

But I couldn’t forget yesterday’s gesture. Yesterday definitely changed their opinion of me. in the middle of playing a solo I’ve been working on getting, he hired someone to give me a bouquet of snow drops and sunflowers while everyone kept cheering. I realized only then that I’ve been looking forward to receiving something from him because earlier on I never got a single letter for that day and this one great gesture made up for it. I’ve never played as well as I did then, imagining that he was watching though the letter said he couldn’t. He sent them one as an apology for neglecting his “wooing” as he called it due to his rehearsals, and two, as congratulations for getting a solo. Naturally, everyone went nuts when they saw me blushing and failing to keep from smiling. ‘Someone melted the Ice Queen’s heart!’ Now everyone knew that whoever my secret admirer was, he was winning me over.

So, if I do as he asks, it would be an admittance. To many things.

But would it really be so bad? For everyone to know? Here’s a guy who likes me and sends me love notes and flowers. He’s also the guy I’ve been, little by little, yielding to. No matter how acerbic my replies, I wanted to just quit and say yes and yield. I decided not long after that I would do it. Fuck it all, I’m taking the next step.

Before I left this morning, I left my note on his door step and added a small token. But when I went home to change, some excitement with me even, I felt crushed to see them still where I left them. I shook that off and thought that maybe he hasn’t gone home yet so he hasn’t seen it so I had hoped that by the time I was done getting ready, he would get it but he never came back.

And that got me thinking. And thinking and thinking.

Maybe it was a sign.

Maybe I shouldn’t go.

Maybe I wasn’t ready.

So here I was, still on the porch. Waiting for something to happen. I shook my head and stood up. Just then a car started pulling out in front of Jon’s house and I recognized it as Talla’s brother’s car.

I wanted to bolt inside but for some reason I stood frozen. I had no time to react when he got out of his car and looked at me in shock.

“Sansa? You’re still he- I mean – were you going somewhere?” He fumbled but I knew what he was about to say from the honest shock on his face at the beginning.

“I – I , uh, hi Sam,” I stammered while my heart was hammering away in panic.

I didn’t see the other person get out the car but saw her when she walked over to him. It was a petite pretty girl with brown hair. “Sam? We’re supposed to be in a hurry – oh, what’s that.”

I jumped when I saw her looking at my gift.

Sam turned to see what the girl was talking about and in my panic I took a step forward and cried out. “Wait!”

Sam and the girl turned to me with surprised looks and I retracted my hand that reached out but it was too late.

Sam glanced from my expression to the items on Jon’s door step and a look passed his eyes. I stayed frozen while he bent down to pick my note and my wrapped token up.

He whispered something to the girl who nodded, grabbed Jon’s house key under the fifth pot where I found them before, and went inside while Sam made his way to me.

“Is this for him?”

I hung my head and nodded.

“There’s some light dusting on it, has it been here since this morning?” he asked.

I bit my lip and nodded again, my hands wringing.

He sighed then and called my name that I had no choice but to meet his gaze. “Is this why you’re not coming?”

I said nothing, but kept his gaze, fighting back the urge to cry. This was so embarrassing.

“Sansa, Jon was kept from coming home since he left early this morning,” he said softly.

“I know. I mean, I just realized but it’s too late,” I admitted looking away.

“It’s not.”

I looked up again and saw him smiling.

“There’s been a little delay. He asked me to come get his guitar and they’re waiting for it. That’s why we’re here,” he explained.

“Sam? I have his guitar!” we turned to see the girl he came with holding up his guitar. “We need to go.”

“That’s my cue to leave. Do you want me to give this to him?” He nodded at the stuff he was still holding.

I looked down again. “If it’s no trouble.”

“None at all. So…need a ride?” he tested.

I looked at him again in confusion.

He chuckled. “You are coming, right? I mean you’re already dressed.”

I bit my lip. It’s not too late. It’s not too late.

“Well?” he prompted again so I decided.


Jon

 

For the last time, I peeked and again, my hope dying when I saw the seat still empty and when I looked at Satin, he gave me a curt shake of his head and a sad smile.

She’s not here.

“Okay, crisis averted! We’re starting in three minutes, people. Three minutes!” Sarella Sand, the stage manager bellowed.

Sam did it then.

I sighed. Well, the show must go-

“JON!”

Before I had the chance to completely turn around Satin grabbed at me and pushed me inside my dressing room and shoved something at my chest.

“She’s here but open this first! Quickly now! I’ll stay by the door,” he snapped at me.

My dead heart soared when his words sunk in and immediately I looked at what he shoved at me. It was a letter and a wrapped gift.

She’s here. She’s here. She’s here.

I opened the letter at once and grinned.

 

Do your worst, Jon Snow13.

(Also, a handkerchief… before you seek revenge, so you’ll be prepared to wipe the blood or something or maybe to wipe the tomato I might throw at you if you suck. The ribbon is for you to tie your shame after)

 

I unwrapped the small package and grinned wider when I saw a plain blue handkerchief inside, rolled up and tied with a ribbon of the same color. I pressed the cloth to my nose and it smelled like one of those lavender soaps my mother tried once and then I realized what this meant.

She gave me her favor.

I’ll never doubt traditional courting ever again.

“Jon, let’s go!” Satin hissed but I saw he was grinning at me then I remembered something and with no time to lose, I sprinted towards the curtains and my jaw dropped when I saw her.

Front and center, with my token flowers on her lap was my lady, my princess.

I swear I stopped breathing when I realized she was wearing blue just a day after admitting I liked the color. I took in her blushing nervous face and thought her too adorable and gorgeous for words. When I soaked in every little thing about her – how unbelievably gorgeous she looked, I realized she dressed up for me.

Everything, from the blue of her dress, to the way she let her glowing copper hair down and loose – everything, I commented on. Blue! Like the handkerchief she gave me. Seven hells, and to think I only said the color because of her eyes.

She was here for me!

And as if my she heard my thoughts, those beautiful sapphire eyes found mine. She reddened deeper but gave me a shy smile before cheekily showing me that she was holding a tomato.

I feigned a look of horror earning a laugh from her.

“What in the seven are you bloody doing Snow?”

Instantly, my mood soured but not enough to dampen my happiness.

I straightened and made to turn around when I felt Loras next to me. I froze when I saw what he was about to do.

“Now just who are you talking – wow! Gods be good, Sansa Stark is here and she is –

“-scorching hot!” Arianne whistled. Then she looked at me suspiciously. “So hot even Jon the Virtuous approves.”

Loras shot me a look then. “Well, glory be! You are straight!”

I took the path of least resistance and just plainly left with a raise of my brow, grinning the second I turned my back at them.

I stopped when I heard a cough and saw Satin leaning on the wall with a knowing smirk. “Heard that she left that on your doorstep this morning.”

I whipped my head at him at that.

“That’s why she almost didn’t come,” he added while he pushed himself off the wall to walk in front of me.

I stared at him with what I know would be a horrified expression when I realized what he was saying.

“Thank the seven someone got his guitar smashed, right?” he grinned and gave my shoulder a pat before disappearing further back stage.

I was stuck frozen.

Here I was moping about rejection when she probably thought the same.

I had to fix this.

“A girl expects a message, yes?”

Perfect timing!

“Just the man I need! Now, listen…”


 Sansa

 

I’m so nervous. And I’m not the one under a spotlight.

I glanced around and the seats beside me were empty and I had a feeling it wasn’t a coincidence.

I looked down at my lap and smiled at the bouquet of blue and white snow drops as he said there would be. There were blue ones mixed with white this time. And one curious beautiful orchid. I’d have to ask Marg what it meant.

Suddenly I had a feeling that I was being watched and when I looked up I saw him.

He had the look of complete surprise. Like he couldn’t believe I’d come. If only he knew… I spent the day planning what to wear and maybe just maybe… I might find courage to go up to him and congratulate his performance or something.

I even gave him a lady’s favor, for luck… medieval as it was, I thought he might like it. He often called me my lady in his letters so I figured he might appreciate it as much as I appreciate how he woos me as he said.

I was pulled from my thoughts when I felt someone sit on my right. I glanced and saw one of the actors who caught me – the pretty one who was playing Albert.

He looked at me sideways and took something from his coat pocket. “Express mail” he gave a lopsided smile while offering up a folded note to me.

Blushing I took it gently, fingering the edge while I muster up some courage to ask him. “Did he…” I started.

He cut me off with a nod. “He loves it. The hankie is in his breast pocket, while the blue ribbon he tied to his right arm for everyone to see.”

I gasped. Then I felt someone on my left this time and it was the other guy. He made a gesture for me to hold up my palm so I did and he placed something soft in it and left.

Before I could see what it was, I felt the other guy stand up and leave too. When I looked up at him, he gave me a wink. “Do wear that before reading.”

Wear?

Oh. Oh, it was a glove! White and made of cotton. Biting my lip, I pulled it on my right hand and noted that it was too big for my – oh Mother, Maiden, and Crone, this was his! And it was still warm. Or was it the room that was suddenly warmer? Or was it…me? I held it up and caught a whiff of pine soap and something else.

I sucked in a breath as thoughts swirled in my mind. Wear before reading… right. With shaky hands, I began unfolding the note and what I read made me blush even more.

 

Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand. That I might touch that cheek14!

(Thank you for granting me the honor of wearing your favor, my lady. But I know now I have wronged you earlier. Please, use my glove as you will. You can even slap me with it later for my crime.)

 

My hand flew to my mouth and I looked up at the side of the stage once more and saw him there. He held the curtain with one similar gloved hand while he waved with his other hand…his other ungloved hand. I tried to cover my face with my hand to hide my blushing and realized the texture was different and remembered that it was still the one wearing the glove – his glove – the one that just came from his hand.  I withdrew at once and bit my lip and reddened even more when I saw his mouth hung and his eyes intense. I looked down, I couldn’t look anymore.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please settle down. We are starting in a minute,” a voice interrupted while the lights went out.

Oh thank the old gods and the new!


Jon

 

Seven bloody hells.

She was wearing my glove. My glove was touching her hand – her lips – her face.

Fuck me.

And how bloody adorable was that look? That look when she realized it was my missing glove? Gods, you are perfect!

And fuck, I felt prepubescent that I was fucking jealous of my own fucking glove touching her when I can’t.

Gods.

Maybe I can persuade her to give that glove back to me on the next half. Gods.

“PLACES! Everyone, places!!!” Sarella was shouting. “Yes, the gorgeous Sansa Stark is watching, keep it in your pants every lot of you fucking Andals, First Men, Rhoynars, Valyrians and and every fucking else!  I will fucking shave all your fucking heads in your fucking sleep if this night becomes a fucking disaster! So help me!”

Shit.

 



 

~Interlude~

Voices in the Dark

Present Time

 

“Okay let’s focus now,” the boy leans his face on his hand while rubbing his eyes with the back of his fist.

The girl covers her mouth while she yawns and blinks away the sleepiness. “Okay, so we know for sure that the night of the balcony scene, they interacted like literally interacted for the first time and they found out they’re neighbors. He gives her flowers and a promise to meet her at her terms and she says they can keep playing their game until she trusts him. Then they keep going with their letters for a few more days until the bloody night.” the girl summarizes.

He nods. “Yes, that’s it in a nutshell. Hmm… there was a breakfast right? What exactly did you guys tell the princess? I assumed after snooping around even before she asked, you found out ‘the secret’ right?

She gives a nod, her eyes shifting uncomfortably.

“I know that we agreed that there were many gains than losses for this relationship. But what did you tell the princess.”

“Facebook stuff. His name, where he grew up, where he studied, his time at The Wall, you know, basic stuff. And of course, going through his friends’ pages to look for sexy pictures,” she tossed her hair and wagged her brows.

The boy snickers before turning serious once more. “You must be good actors for her not to suspect that you knew more than you let on.”

“Well, we did tell her that he grew up with a single mother and that there were no records of his father. Nothing the public doesn’t know.”

“Did she have anything to say about that?” he asks almost nervously.

She tilted her head. “Nothing bad. Wanna know what she said?”

He nods.

“She says that she’ll do with just the basics. There was no need to dig up more. She doesn’t want to hear about any dirty laundry and then reminded us that she dated ‘respectable’ guys who turn out to be monsters. None of that matters to her, at least not anymore,” she smiles.

The boy smiles back at her words. “While I feel sorry she had to go through unworthy boys, that’s a good sign for Night. Though if he embraces the secret, he’s far from being a commoner.” His face becomes suddenly serious. “But he can’t keep it a secret for long. What if he meets her family? If he does, he’ll eventually meet his family through them. Wait, was this what you were counting on?” he eyes her suspiciously.

She bites her lip. “I spoke about that too but the Stag thinks that if he grows to love her, everything will eventually fall into place and she’ll help him. Gods know she’ll help him through it. We know she will. Anyway...does he, talk about his father?”

The boy regards him before shaking his head. "No. Sorry."

The girl lets out a breath but nods in understanding, but doesn't hide the disappointment. 

The boy sighs. “I can’t help but think of the disaster that could happen. But then I can’t forget the changes I’ve seen. He’s happy, really happy.”

“I know, and she is too. And she hasn’t been. Not for a very long time.”

They remain silent for some time, both bent over the notes and letters, making comments and comparisons here and there before speaking again.

The girl leans back on her hands and looks up at the sky. “I don’t get it. I really don’t. Just look at these letters! They’re ga-ga over each other.”

The boy drops one letter after another and nods. “Truly. And that bloody night, they both were comfortable enough to make risks.”

The girl flops on her stomach and rests her chin on both hands as she looks over the letters once more. “She was really planning on watching – though in secret of course. And she embroidered a handkerchief with his initials to give days before but was too shy to do so. But then she called me in a panic to help her get ready because he asked her to watch. We picked the blue dress and everything! I mean, he was ready. She was ready. We were ready. So where did we go wrong?”

The boy grumbles. “It was a trying day. Everything almost went to shit before anything could happen. We helped him set up the seats and the flowers. And then she didn’t come when you guys swore she would," he looks pointedly at her.

“How was I to know that he didn’t go come to see her bloody gift?! All I got was a bloody text from her saying she’s home and she changed her mind and wouldn’t say anything more,” she bristles defensively.

“I know. The others were panicking when they saw Night getting depressed by the minute, checking the seat like it was going to grant him seven wishes. I don’t know how Sati-er-fuck-it I forgot his code name. I don’t know how Satin knew but he somehow managed to delay the play by staging an accident, one that would require me to swing by Night’s house after to get his guitar and before I knew it, I saw Princess looking glum by the stairs and the rest is history,” the boy explains.

“Yeah, and you were there right? Everything was going terrific?”

The boy answers.

 



 

 

Curtain call

 

Sansa

 

I stood up and applauded with the audience. It was an excellent performance by everyone… but as it was, my eyes were only drawn to Jon.

It was almost hard to watch him. Watch how…intimate and…loving he was with the female lead. And when he kissed her… that kiss and with someone so beautiful, I faltered. She was touching him. He was touching her. Touch. I didn’t know what I looked like but I had to school my face otherwise I might give us away. Get what away exactly Sansa? I bit my lip and shook the jealousy that was building. Jealous? Sure you have a right to that? I couldn’t help the frown then. I don’t know if he figured out my internal struggle because he reassured me. I know he did. He kept touching her with only his gloved hand, his other he kept ungloved and mostly on his sword. There was also the subtle way he kept raising his arm that had my blue ribbon tied around it, and I remember his words…

Know that it’s your face I see when I face Mercédès.

I flushed. Once the jealousy abated and the reassurances worked, I couldn’t help but imagine then how it would feel for him to hold me like he did, touch me like he showed, kiss me like he said he wanted to. I kept touching his glove that I was still wearing – the closest I could get to touching him right now. It was like he left his hand for me to hold.

Gods, that’s silly. But not as silly as watching Jon and Loras duel. Loras kept sneaking glances at me. Night and Day. The gods have a weird sense of humor.

My heart raced then when it was Jon’s turn to bow. The audience clapped and cheered louder for him and he graced everyone with a low bow but his eyes shot through mine as he lifted his head, raising a brow slightly while he held my eyes. I blinked forgetting myself for a moment when I remembered he was waiting for my judgment.

I raised a brow of my own, making a show of deliberating before giving him a nod, grinning while I applauded loudly.

The smile that slowly formed on his face, crinkling the corners of his gray eyes made me melt. And suddenly the world around us seemed to shift into nothing but blurs and sounds and it feels like we were alone and trapped with our gaze.

His mouth was parted while his eyes darkened, and I couldn’t look away, couldn’t speak, couldn’t move.

Until the only thing I saw was the rise and fall of his chest and the intensity of his eyes, while all I felt and heard was the pounding of my heart.

 


 

Jon

 

I was paralyzed.

When my eyes met with her bright blues and that lovely red lips that were smiling…smiling at me, my god.

The thundering applause seemed to get sucked into a soundless void apart from hers – the sound of a naked hand meeting with a covered one, the bright lights were almost blinding yet all I see is her.

Something shifted in the room.

She was no longer smiling, no longer clapping.

Her sapphire eyes now a midnight blue, her hands suspended in a clasp, while her full lips were slightly parted.

I wanted to kiss her.

I wanted to all night.

She was the perfect audience. Attentive and affected. It was a delight to see the many curious ways her face – her body showed her expressions and thought if I could ever find a way to incite such expressions for me.

But it was when I did my scenes with Arianne that I held on to the most. Yes, I touched Arianne. I kissed Arianne. In front of a very big audience, I did all those to the best of my ability to make it believable. Even Arianne was half-convinced that I finally liked her, so she kissed me back with great enthusiasm as was necessary. I groaned.

My enthusiasm, all that was for Sansa. I wanted to show her, not to make her jealous, no. I did my part well only because it was her face I saw. I wanted to show her that she’s who I wanted to touch, to kiss…badly. Because fuck me, the moment I tied her ribbon around my arm and refused to touch my co-star with my ungloved hand, I knew now that what I want is to be hers.

Like my glove on her hand right now was hers. I don’t even care if people suspect, if people can tell. Fuck them all, I only want what she wants. And seeing her fidget when I did my scenes with Arianne, I must admit that it feels good to see the tiniest hint of jealousy no matter how over my head I was to think that she would be. Maybe she wants this too. She came. She wore blue. She gave me her favor. She smiled at me.

I was about to do something crazy when suddenly all I could see was the solid red of the curtain as they drew it to a close, obstructing my view of the audience – of Sansa.

I looked around me in panic and saw my cast-mates clapping each other in the back and gathering their things, preparing to leave.

I responded robotically to all that congratulated me as I hurriedly made my way out the curtains, frantically searching for Sansa.

The theatre was emptying out but Sansa wasn’t at her seat, or walking through the door. I climbed down the stage and started walking to the exit hoping to catch a glimpse of her but there were too many people rushing and then I saw Sam and Gilly.

“Jon!” he looked at me startled when I clamped my hands on his shoulders.

“Sam! Have you seen – “ I started.

He looked at me sadly. “I saw her leave the theatre right after the curtain closed. Sorry, Jon.”

I let him go and sighed, running a hand down my face.

“You were great out there, and from what we saw of her, she seems to think so too. Right Gilly?”he looked at his girlfriend.

The brunette nodded and beamed at me. “And pretty sure she was jealous when you kissed your Mercèdés.”

Sam chuckled and I wanted to reply but all I could think of was that she left.

“What are your plans tonight? Want to go for a diner run? Or do you have an after party or something?” Sam asked.

I grumbled. “Aye, there’s an after party but I’m just gonna go home and sleep.”

“Sure you are,” Sam joked.

I rolled my eyes and settled for clapping his shoulder and offering a polite smile at Gilly. “Thanks for watching. Have a great night.”

Gilly smiled kindly, “It was our pleasure. Smile.  Like really smile. You did great tonight. The play and with you-know-who.” She winked.

I had to then. “Yeah?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “See you Jon.”

I smiled at the two of them and watched them leave. They’ve been seeing each other for two years now and I’m happy for them but now it only makes me miserable that I want something like theirs too.

Shaking my head, I started walking back to my dressing room.

 


 

Sansa

 

When they drew the curtains closed, I jumped and blinked, finding myself.

Now what?

I bit my lip as I gathered my purse and held my flowers.

Do I…?

Should I…?

For fuck’s sake!

I made my way over back stage without really thinking of a plan. It was a first for me to just make it up as I go along.

Thankfully, Satin, as he was introduced during the curtain call, saw me and waved me over to one of the dressing rooms, saving me from the weird looks or being apprehended by the cast and production.

He ushered me inside and closed the door. I opened my mouth and closed it unsure of what to say as he studied me. He sighed then and offered me a seat while he leant on the table beside me. “You don’t know what you’re doing, don’t you?”

I looked at him sheepishly. “Kind of.”

“But you do know what you want to do right?” he leant closer.

I wrung my hands on my lap and looked down. I did. “I don’t know…I don’t know how. I’m a little overwhelmed. And now I’m not sure if now’s a good time… I mean. We don’t even talk like really talk.”

“What do you mean? You write each other right?” he asked genuinely surprised making me surprised as well. “He doesn’t tell or show us anything really. All we know is how this started and that you guys are writing each other,” He scratched his nose.

So, he wanted to keep it private too. But the flowers…the invitation…

“Ah. Stop. I see I’m adding to your confusion. Listen, why don’t you give him a letter and wait for him. Let him come to you. That is, if that’s what you want,” he suggested.

I kept still. 

“Or, you could always just wait until the morning and keep at it – that game of yours. It doesn’t have to be tonight,” he said kindly. “He’ll understand.”

But that was it. I was the one who was keeping us this way. His privacy? That was for me too. He was ready.

Was I?

It’s only been less than a week and he’s still a stranger despite what we’ve shared, but I want more days. More of this. More of him.

I looked up at Satin with resolve. “Do you have paper and a pen I could borrow, please?”

He broke into a grin then. “Hang on.”

I thought of what to write and did so. When I was done, Satin pointed where Jon’s dressing room was and gave me a playful shove while he distracted the others. I bit my lip again and fiddled with the letter, feeling nervous as seven hells. I looked back at Satin who gave me a wink and mouthed ‘go’.

I took a deep breath and opened the door as quietly as I could. Praying that he was still in the shower as Satin said he usually was after taking the stage.

When I heard the shower running, I let out a breath and proceeded to sneak inside, placing my letter on the vanity table. Satisfied, I smiled and made to sneak back out when I collided into someone.

Shit.

I braved myself to look up, praying to the Seven, the old gods, and maybe even the Lord of Light that it was Satin or Jaqen but no.

No.

Staring down at me with a very amused look was Loras.

He took one look at me then at the table and I could see him put two and two together when he finally broke into a devilish grin.

Fuck.

I looked at him pleadingly, daring only to communicate with my eyes but he kept his hold on me, backing me towards the wall near the door.

“My, my, my. Would you look at that. So he’s your secret admirer. Holy bloody seven hells. Now it makes sense, why he’s so positively less brooding and more inspired of late. And oh by the old gods and new! You’re here for him! You dressed for him! You like him! He’s the one who invited you to watch! The special seat – the flowers – everything!” He pressed half-incredulous, half-annoyed but in a whisper.

“Loras, please,” I tried.

He raised a brow. “Please what? Oh, you want me to leave so you can kiss your secret boyfriend congratulations? Gods, how long has this been going on? Sneaky bastard.”

“It’s..it’s not like that. We’re not. I-I. Let me go, I’ll leave. I just wanted to give him a letter,” I tried to pull away. If I kneed him on the crotch, we’d make too much noise and I don’t know, cause chaos or something.

“Give him a - ? Oh for the love of the mother! That’s what this is. You have been exchanging letters. Oh how cute. And I know what the snow drops means. Gods, why didn’t I see this before? This is why you wouldn’t go out with me, isn’t it? Because you already like Snow. Seven hells, I should’ve seen this coming,” he started muttering.

I heard the sound of running water stop and looked at Loras in alarm. “I’m really sorry Loras. But please, please, let me go.”

He took in my panic and looked back at the direction of the shower and thought.

To my relief, the water came back on, buying me a little time. “Please Loras.”

He sighed and nodded, releasing his grip on my shoulder but he placed both his arms braced near the sides of my head, trapping me.

“Did he kiss you yet?” he asked.

I wanted to lie but I could sense he’d know so I shook my head.

“Ah. Him and his damned honor. Well, while I am an honorable man too, I’m prone to my own transgressions,” he crooned, bringing his hand down to tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear and taking my gloved hand, examining it knowingly, I shivered.

“I’m curious,” he said while he began rubbing the back of my hand with his thumb. “Will life imitate art?”

I kept still, trying not to think of him touching me while he talked. “I wonder what you felt when he took Mercèdés’ hand as so,” he switched my hands, “and when he brought it up his lips like this,” he kissed my bare hand. I reddened from embarrassment.

“I wonder…” he eyed my lips. “Did he in turn imagine it was your hand he kissed…or your lips?”

“Loras,” I managed with a firm shake of my head.

He sighed but then smiled again when he looked straight into my eyes. He was close. He was too close. I could smell the hint of mint and roses.

“Fine. I’ll let you go. I’ll even keep your secret,” he grinned as he kept his golden eyes on me.

“But?” I gulped, almost too afraid to ask.

His gaze lowered to my lips and up. “I’ll do it, for one kiss,” he placed his fingers on my chin.

I jerked it away from him and glared. But before I could retaliate, we heard the tap turning, the water stopping, as well as the glass door sliding open. I froze and felt my pulse at my ears.

Loras raised a brow at me, waiting for my answer.

I could hear rustling of garments and footsteps. Time was up.

So, I did the only thing I could do.

I hit the lights, and grabbed Loras by the collar roughly and brought his lips to mine.

 


 

Jon

 

What in the bloody hells?!

Just as I managed to pull my pants on and my button up on one arm when the lights went off. I hastily slipped on my other arm and buttoned a few up while I felt around the vanity, looking for its light switch.

At once the room was lit somewhat but I groaned at the image I saw reflected on the mirror.

Loras fucking Tyrell was making out with someone near the door. I turned away at once.

“Seven hells, Tyrell! That couldn’t wait until I left?” I shouted while I began stuffing my duffel bag quickly, disgusted by the sounds they were making.

Gods.

I don’t even want to find out who it was that was sucking face with him.

Fuck!

Something hit the back of my head so I wheeled around ready to punch him when I saw his arm outstretched and pointing to something on the table while he still carried on with his damn deed.

But once I saw what he was pointing out, everything melted away.

It was a letter.

I brightened. I snatched it up, tucked it inside the blue handkerchief and put them along with the blue ribbon and her other notes in my pocket.

I wanted to read it but not in here. Not while Tyrell was being gross. It would be too disrespectful.

Doing my best to ignore them, I squeezed out the door only to be greeted by Satin with a grin.

“Well?” he asked.

“I got another letter,” I said sheepishly.

He nodded but then a look of confusion crossed his face.

“What?”

He blinked and looked like he was searching for something behind me.

I rubbed my beard. “If you’re looking for Loras, he’s in there sucking face with a very unfortunate girl.”

Satin’s face had a look of horror in them, both his hands flying to his forehead.

“What? What is it?” I prompted, shocked at his expression.

“Did – did you see, I’m sorry, what?” his frantic gaze switched from the door to me and back.

“I said, Loras was in there making out with someone,” I repeated, confused at how he’s acting.

“Son of the Father, Smith and Bloody Warrior!” he spat. Then he looked at me with wide eyes. “Did you see who it was?”

Seven hells! Is he jealous? Is that what this is? Don’t tell me Satin still liked bloody Loras.

“No. And from the looks of it, it looked like they were going at it for some time. I wonder who Sansa sent to give her letter? Sam said she left right after. I ran out the stage at once and I didn’t see her,” I shrugged.

“But – but, a while? Kissing?” Satin was now pulling his hair.

“Others take me, what’s gotten into you Satin?”

He ignored me and kept on rambling something in low Valyrian.

I sighed and shook my head. “So, I’m leaving, okay?”

He jumped and looked at me then. “Wait, before you go, can you please uh, please take these to the props storage. Here are the keys. Just give them back tomorrow,” before I could say anything, he shoved the box of weapons and the keys and shooed me.

“Fine.”


 

Sansa

 

When Jon left I pulled away and shoved Loras off me hard that I didn’t care that he stumbled and almost lost his balance.

I wiped my mouth and tried to steady my breathing.

Seven hells that was too close!

My heart was still racing from embarrassment, from fear, from rage.

I looked up and glared at Loras’ fucking gloating.

That bloody bastard milked that kiss for what it’s worth. Gods, he used tongue. Gods!

He was panting and grinning at me like he fucking won an award. “Wow. He’s missing out. That was some kiss!” He moved closer then and leant in for another when I shoved him again and crossed the room.

I looked into the mirror and frowned at the mess I looked before fixing myself. Fuck.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy it even a little,” he needled as he snickered.

I fumed and let out a snort. “It was abysmal,” I said as cold as I could muster. Was it really? That little voice in my head said. Fine. He was a masterful kisser but he wasn’t the one I wanted to kiss.

“Whatever, baby. But I mean it, this one makes the top ten. Top three even. Hell, you’re number one,” he added.

I glared at him some more, daring him to continue.

He laughed and held up his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. Not to the lady’s liking. Ouch. Still, thank you, Madame.”

I crossed my arms against my chest. “Just fucking hold on to your end of the bargain, Loras.”

“Ooh, you do have some fire in you,” he whistled but took in my look. “Okay, I’ll stop. And yes, I’m a man of my word. I’ll keep your secret.”

“See that you do or I’ll shave your pretty golden curls in your sleep,” I hissed.

“Gods, what is with all the hair threats with you women!” He sighed dramatically.

Just then Satin burst into the room and looked between Loras and I. My irritation surging once more as I looked at him accusingly.

He jumped and immediately placed his hands on my shoulders with guilt and apology on his face. “Fuck, I’m sorry! I forgot that he shared with Loras! I thought he left with the others too. I mean shit, I really didn’t know the prick was still here!”

“That prick is still here you know,” Loras cut in.

“Shut up!” Satin yelled at him.

I glared at him too but then sighed and stepped out of Satin’s reach. “It’s fine,” I said tightly.

He looked at me guiltily before rounding Loras. “What the fuck, Loras?”

Loras chuckled. “Don’t look at me. I was just at the right place at the right time.”

“Jon told me you were making out with someone, was it – “

I sighed again. “Yes, it was us. Unfortunately. I had to buy his silence and there was no time to hide. It was the only bloody way,” I admitted through gritted teeth as I pinched the bridge of my nose.

Satin understood what I meant and started to march over to Loras then, ready to hit him when I jumped and held him back.

“How dare you take advantage, you - you slut!” Satin pointed at Loras.

Loras merely shrugged and crooked a brow. “Eh. We all know these two will have their happy ending. Fernand just wanted a taste of Edmond’s Mercèdés.”

“Why you –

“Stop, stop. It’s fine. I’m just going to leave,” I said, tightening my hold on him.

He relaxed then and eyed me before pointing Loras to the door. “Leave.”

Loras laughed then and winked at us. “I’ll be at Arianne’s for the party, in case one of you decide to look for me. Have fun kids. And, again, mi querida, gracias, gracias.”

Satin threw a brush at him but Loras quickly ducked behind the door and left laughing.

He turned to me then. “I’m really sorry.”

I softened. “It’s fine. You didn’t know. Anyway…Jon left?”

He straightened then. “Well, I sent him to the storage area before he leaves to buy me time to check on you...”

My face fell a little. He was leaving?

Satin saw that. “Sansa, did you ask him to meet you?”

I did. Sort of. I was hoping to wait for him outside. I bit my lip. “It’s fine, it’s no big deal,” I waved my hand for emphasis, also wondering if her realized he was calling me by my name for the first time.

“Sansa,” he started.

“Really!” I raised my hands.

“I had a feeling you wanted to meet him tonight but then when he went out without you and then he tells me he left Loras there making out, I figured you just wanted to give the letter and leave? But holy hells, you're still - " He shook his head and sighed exasperatedly. "Sansa, he’s probably going to read it when he gets home. He told me Sam saw you leave. Oh gods. When you went back stage, he went straight down the stage and you two missed each other,” he groaned.

Oh.

Gods, what a day. We keep missing each other. What does that mean? And oh Gods, he's right. He almost said I was still unsure, and maybe I am. Oh Gods. 

“Wait, wait, wait, baby girl. I know that look in your baby blues. It’s the same one I see in his gray ones when he’s overthinking," he placed a hand on my arm. "Look, tonight was probably not the smoothest of nights, but it’s still a good one. I mean, look at you two, doing impulsive romantic stuff. It’s not gonna end just because you didn’t get to meet meet,” he said gently.

I relaxed and smiled at him with appreciation. “You’re right. I’m being silly.”

He tapped my forehead softly with a knuckle and laughed. “Still, thank you for making the effort for my friend. You need to cut some slack off the poor guy.”

“Oh,” I bit my lip guiltily. Again. Am I being too hard on him?

I felt him tap my forehead again, this time I felt it. “You’re doing it again. I was just jesting.” He smiled crookedly and warm that it reminded me of Renly.

“Is he going to the after party? “I asked while rubbing my forehead.

He shook his head. “He’s heading home. Not much of a party person. How about you? It's a cast party but that's bull for a uni party. Lots of other uni people will go."

I waved a hand. “It’s a pass for me. Too much excitement for one day, you know,” I smiled sheepishly.

He laughed. “Okay. You need a ride? I know Sam drove you here.”

“It’s okay, thanks. I’ll walk. I need the fresh air,” I shrugged.

He looked at me concerned. “Are you sure? I could drop you off. It wouldn’t be a bother. It’s pretty late.”

I shook my head. “It’s really fine.” And knowing my mother, I’m sure there were hidden details around me though I’ve yet to call them out.

“Okay, but here’s my number, just in case, alright?” he started writing.

“Um,” I hesitated when he handed it to me.

He laughed again and squeezed my arm. “You are adorable and gorgeous and I swing both ways but…bros before hoes,” he said cheekily. “Though you are far from a hoe.” He winked.

I blushed and laughed with him. “Okay. Thank you Sa-er.”

He chuckled. “You are too cute. I think we’re familiar enough for you to call me Satin.” He then handed me my purse and the flowers Jon gave me.

“Thanks… Satin,” I said and started walking away.

“Hey, Sansa?”

I glanced at him through my shoulder. “Hm?”

He had a mischievous look in him. “You live in Old Oaks right? It’s better if you take the main road tonight.”

“O-okay, I will then.” Odd. Though I guess, that way has enough lights for tonight.

“Take care Sansa, and have a pleasant stroll.”

 


 

Jon

 

I locked up the storage and hefted my bag over my shoulder. Finally, I can go home.

“Jon?”

I looked back and saw Satin looking at me confused before something passed on his face and he was now grinning at me.

“Did you lock up?” he said as he held his palm up for the keys.

I threw them at him and he caught them. “Here.”

“Thanks, pal. So…you’re really not going to the party?” he tilted his head.

I shook my head firmly. “No.”

“Okay, well, I’m heading there. Just wanted to ask because you can ride with me. I know you left your bike at home,” he shrugged.

Shit. He’s right, he fetched me from Old Oaks this morning so we could buy last minute prod stuff before the final rehearsal.

“Can’t you drop me before you go?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Sorry Jon. I’m kind of going to fetch someone else on the way. And yours is far from it. It’s a beautiful evening for a walk anyway.”

I ran a hand down my face. I was really tired but maybe a walk would be a good idea. “Fine.”

“Excellent,” I heard him mutter.

“Sorry?”

He shook his head. “Nothing, nothing. Now run along and maybe you’ll reach home before midnight.”

I grumbled. “See you tomorrow.”

“Sure, sure. Oh Jon, I suggest you go by the main road. Heard it's a sight tonight.”

Sight? I just nodded at him and turned around.

I made it out the theatre and felt the autumn evening chill hit my face. Satin’s right, the night air is a good idea to clear my head.

What a day.

What a night.

And

Holy mother of dragons!

Was that who I thought it was?

Walking a little farther ahead of me, wrapped in a cream thick coat was Sansa.

Sansa.

It was undeniably her.

That long red hair, the blue of her gown peeking from her coat, the unmistakable bouquet of flowers I gave her nestled on her arm…

The gods are favoring me tonight!

I ran a hand over my hair to smoothen the mess a bit and thought on what to do – appealing to my more rational side.

Okay, one, this was Sansa.

Two, she was walking home. There’s no doubt.

Alone.

But why?

Then I remembered the look on Satin’s face. Fuck. Was this what he meant?

If I don’t take this opportunity, I’ll regret this for the rest of my life.

Because here she was. In front of me. My glove on her hand, my flowers on her arm.

I started walking faster until I was only a few paces behind her, my heart racing ahead.

She seemed to sense me then because she glanced my way and stopped with a surprised look in her face and a beautiful blush but there was something more to her look that I couldn’t name.

I stopped too and grasped for words. She did too.

Come on Jon, just like that time she caught you from her balcony, just give a damn wave. So I did.

She jerked a little in surprise before giving me a shy smile.

I smiled back at her and nodded my head at the road ahead and shrugged.

She bit her lip and I held back a groan. Once her eyes found mine again, she nodded then started walking, looking to the right as if waiting for me.

Immediately, I went to her right, still keeping a respectable distance, but fell into a step beside her.

What followed after was a strange tension and silence. I couldn’t help but sneak glances at her. Her face was red though if it was because of the cold or something else, I can’t tell. I can’t even tell if I was hot or cold. A lock of her hair kept escaping and I had the strangest urge to replace her fingers that keep putting it back and do it for her.

She never took my glove off.

I swallowed.

I had to say something, anything.

Hi, I’m Jon. But you already knew that. What a stupid thing to say. But I still want to meet you and can I please kiss you?

Gods. Pathetic.

No, not talking. Not until something intelligent comes up.

Besides, there was something about this silence. Something charged. Something was happening. And I didn’t want to ruin it.

We were nearing the crossing. And because it was Friday night, there were many cars. The nerves started coming back once we’ve stopped, the red light across us counting down forty-five seconds until we could cross.

This was the closest we’ve been. Side by side while we waited. I could smell her from where I’m standing, feel a bit of her warmth, see the tiny freckles on her nose. I only need to reach and her hand would be in mine. She looks so much better up close. I wanted to come closer. See how blue her eyes were, count the freckles on her nose, see if there were more... feel if her lips looked as soft as they looked... 

Then suddenly there were no more cars in front of us, only the green light signaling for us to cross. She walked first and I made to follow when I heard something fall from my bag.

What the –

I turned around and bent to pick up a boot that fell from my bag, only for my phone to spill from my pocket along with a pen I didn’t know was there rolled away.

Cursing while I picked up my stuff and to my horror, even the note, the ribbon, the handkerchief were scattered and flying on the floor.

By the time I picked everything up, there were cars again and I had to wait forty-five-NO-ninety  fucking seconds again to cross.

Of all the bloody luck!

I scanned the other side of the road, looking through the windows and spaces in and between the cars that separated us. Finally I managed to see Sansa standing there to my relief. Her back was turned then as if she heard my thoughts she turned again to face me with a look of surprise.

Her eyes then shifted to my hand and I remembered I was holding her gifts and her last letter. I didn’t know what compelled me to but I started unfolding it and read it.

 

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,

Which mannerly devotion shows in this;

For saints have hands that pilgrim’s hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss

(My hand was warm throughout the night thanks to you, and now I extend it, open it, to you)

 

My jaw dropped as I read her words, my heart pounding madly. As I straightened up at once and searched for her frantically while the cars kept moving between us.

Did she just? This was Juliet’s quote! Right before they kissed. Not an insult, not a mockery. Not this time. It was still a challenge, yet it was also an invitation.

I should’ve read this right away. No wonder she kept – I sucked in a breath – she was waiting for me! She never left. So that’s why she – oh gods that’s why she looked a mix of surprise and confusion and oh Gods she was expecting when she saw me walking towards her and I did nothing!

Nothing!

Now she was on the other side of the road, and through the passing cars I could see her eyes on me.

Eyes that were nervous as they darted from the note in my hand to my face.

She started walking then and I quickly followed from the other side, letting my bag and everything else drop to pavement.

I tried to hold her gaze as best as I could when we did, only breaking where the cars blocked her from me. We suddenly just stopped walking and waited. Waiting out the passing cars until they would clear out. 

We were so near yet the cars between us felt like waves and rip tides between oceans. Through the windows and the spaces, I tried to tell her everything with my look, urging her to wait.

I almost ran to her, danger be damned when the next window showed she had her back turned to me.

No!

Don’t go!

And finally, from red, we were bathed in green and I didn’t waste another second, running towards her, grabbing her arm, and pulling her flush against me, her eyes wide, her mouth parted, her hands trapped between our chests.

“Sansa.”

“Jon.”

A breath between us.

Eyes on eyes on hands on lips and eyes once more.

 

Oh then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do!

 

I kissed her.

I felt her drop everything, her hands on my hair as she kissed me back just as desperately. My own cradling her neck, the other supporting her back.

She gave as much as I took, and took as much as I gave but I was like a man starved, one kiss was not enough.

It’s never going to be enough.

Now that I had a taste, I’ll crave this all the time.

Thank the old gods and the new that I left The Wall and chose The Reach. I guess I have my bloody father to thank for that.

I tuned all that fucking crap out my mind and focused on kissing Sansa, my lady, my princess.

This is real.

This is happening.

I’m undone.

I am hers.

Completely hers.

There’s no turning back for me. It was probably too soon but it didn't feel like it was.

The only thing this felt was right.

Having her in my arms, her lips against mine, it felt right.

This bloody night started like the apocalypse approaching, but ended up a surprising revelation.

Finally.

 



 

~Voices in the Dark~

Present time

 

“Ouch, bloody branches, fucking trees!”

“Will you please be quiet you uncouth delinquent!”

“Oh gods, it’s the drag – er –the rag and the stag,” the girl snickers.

“It’s velvet, you blonde lizard Nancy Drew,” the new boy hisses.

“That’s dragon to you, you greasy haired Sherlock-wannabe!” the lady Dragon hisses back.

“Piss off, both of you, don’t start, someone might see us,” the Stag whispers before sitting beside Dragon. “Hello Maester, we managed to get some of the other letters.”

“Good, good. Now Velvet, if you’re mature enough, do tell us what happened after the play?” Maester looks at the rather still pissed off boy with an impatient look of his own.

He huffs in annoyance before answering,“I didn’t stick around to see but I lead them towards each other and if all was well, I’m sure they walked home together,” Velvet explains.

A collective gasp.

“You mean, they could’ve met face to face like face-to-face that bloody night?” Dragon’s hands flew to her mouth.

Velvet nods. “I’m pretty sure there’s no going around that. So, whatever it was, something definitely happened between them," he studies their faces before speaking again, "I think they fucked, he blurts out and that earns him kicks from three sides. “Ow!”

“She wouldn’t! Princess is a – “ suddenly Stag clamped his hand on Dragon’s mouth. “Shhh! But yes, I agree, she wouldn’t. Not like that. Not that fast. But something else happened.”

“That’s it then, that’s all you know?” Maester asks Velvet.

He nods. “I didn’t want to put any more pressure on the poor things so I left them to their own devices. Oh and Loras Tyrell knows. Sorry, Day knows.”

“How?”

Velvet buffs his nails on his chest and blew on them. “I guess he found out before he made out with her in the dressing room he shares with Night.”

A collective “WHAT?”

Dragon started spouting things in Valyrian and maybe some Dothraki while the Stag was at a loss for words. Maester shut them all up before rounding on Velvet who was looking smug.

“He caught her sneaking in a letter and bartered for his silence,” he explained, his voice laced with disgust.

“Why the two-faced cunt!” Dragon kept shaking her head.

“Never mind that now, there are more important things.”

So we see, Velvet, Maester, Stag and Dragon were at a loss for words as they start to sift through the clues and the letters, trying to piece the puzzles of their friends’ change of behavior here in the farthest depths of the tree gardens.

Whatever happened between Night and his Princess, only the two of them know.

And maybe one more.

 

 

Chapter Text

Robb

 

“Yes, yes, she’s here. Sandor dropped her off. And no, I don’t know why or what happened. She’s yet to tell me…I’m just giving her a little space,” I explained a little hurriedly to mother while pinching the bridge of my nose.

"I’ll leave you to it then son,” she sighed. “If anyone can reach her, it’s you. Your father will be there tomorrow. Until then, take care of your sister Robb.”

“Of course mother,” I reassured her.

“Thank you son. I’m worried. I still can’t believe it when Sandor called me to inform that my only daughter wanted to suddenly just use the jet and fly over to Riverrun in the middle of the night. It’s not like her. I thought she loved it at The Reach? We just talked last week and she’s the happiest I’ve ever seen her in months! Considering…”  

I winced. I knew she was talking about the Bolton bastard fiasco. My eyes started twitching, my jaw clenching as well at the memory of finding Sansa on my doorstep in the middle of the night in tears with a large bruise forming on her cheek, scratches on her skin, her wrecked car towed away.

Dread suddenly started to fill me when I realized that right now was all too familiar.

“Robb?”

I blinked and let out a breath. “She looks fine mother. She assured me that she’s fine physically that is but I’ll talk to her. I’m sure she’ll be back to The Reach bright and early on Monday. I’ll even go with her if Uncle Brynden lets me.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll give him a call in the morning. Well, I’ll let you get to it then. Tell Sansa to call me anytime. I wanted to right away but seeing as she flew straight to you, the message is fairly clear,” she sighed. “But if need be, I’ll be on the first flight back.”

“No, I’m sure father and I will be enough. You just got to Dragonstone. You can’t just leave, Senator,” I tried to jest. “You just have to trust me to hold court with Princess Sansa.”

“That’s all I ask darling. And you know better that family comes first. It’s the –

“– Tully way,” I finished with her earning a small laugh. “I know, I know. Good night mother.”

“Good night Robb. Give Sansa my love.”

I slipped my phone inside my pocket just as the microwave dinged, signaling that the hot chocolate I made was ready. Grabbing a mitten, I took out the mugs and placed them on the island to let them cool a bit while I grabbed a bag of lemon flavored marshmallows I always keep in case Sansa drops by. I don’t think she’ll share much tonight but it’s always better to start with something comforting.

When I got everything set, I made my way up my room where she was probably cuddling with my Siberian Husky, Grey Wind. That’s the only indication I got that she does want to talk, even a little. I swear to the old gods and the new though that if another fucker hurt my baby sister, I might just commit murder. I know enough to recognize the look Sansa has and I just feel it in my guts that this was over another boy. Gods. My sister was smart, beautiful and usually with a good head on her shoulders but she keeps dating crap. I know from Dany that she met a new guy who goes to the same uni. But Dany told me not to worry about this one no matter how much I begged her to tell me who the guy was so I could hire a P.I. or something.

I had half a mind to do it anyway, she doesn’t get that for every arse who made Sansa cry felt like a failure on my part. I was supposed to be the one who protects her from these jerks. But Dany insisted that this time, Sansa needs to handle this one on her own and that she and Renly were checking up on them.

And now, I took a deep breath. Okay Robb, relax. She came to you for a reason. If she wanted a scolding she would’ve gone straight to mother.

My door was half-open when I reached it. I snuck a peek and saw her wearing my old varsity sweater and my long socks while stroking a very contented Grey Wind, whose head was on her lap. Her eyes and her nose were still red but at least she was smiling a little. My chest tightened a bit to see her looking so young – younger than her eighteen years. I swallowed and shook my head. Time to rescue the princess from her tower.

I put on big smile and poked my head in. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, that I may climb the crimson stair!”

She lifted her head at me and gave me a bigger smile – still tiny, but this one reached her eyes. Good start.

“That smells so good! Do you have –

“– lemon marshmallows? ‘Course. What do you take me for?” I scoffed, shooing Grey Wind away before setting down the tray.

“Hey! You didn’t have to kick him out!” she pouted at me. I laughed.

“And here I thought you’d appreciate me rescuing the princess from the beast,” I tried to look hurt.

She narrowed her eyes at me and lifted her chin. “More like Gaston interrupting my time alone with the strangely wonderful beast. And you mixed up Rapunzel and Belle.”

“Why thank you for calling me a stud and a dumb ass at the same time,” I raised a brow at her. She threw me a pillow that I easily ducked. “Anyway, he’ll be back later. I come bearing chocolate, highness,” I mock bowed while handing her, her mug.

She sniffed and stifled a smile. “That’ll do, I guess.” I laughed as she haughtily blew on the mug and took a sip, her eyes lighting up as she gave an appreciative sound. I grinned, sitting beside her and leaning on the headrest, taking a sip of my own.

What followed was a comfortable silence, with only the sound of the heavy downpour outside and the occasional rumble of thunder.

“It’s like I’m five again,” she broke the silence. I looked down at her and smiled at her softly, ruffling her hair and earning a little yelp.

I chuckled. “Oh yes. You do have that habit of crawling to my bed whenever there’s a storm. Why you never run to mother or father, I’ll never know.”

She gave a small smile while she brought her knees closer to her chest, her hot chocolate on one hand, while her face rested on her arm that was wrapped around her knees. “I did, for a time but I don’t know, I felt like if I came to you, it’d make me less childish. Like going to a friend or something.”

My chest tightened again. Most siblings I know hated each other but Sansa and I mostly got along well save for the occasional bickering. “A friend,” I echoed. Not knowing what to say.

She nudged my shoulder with her own before resting her head on it. “My bestest best friend.”

I almost choked, bringing my arm around her shoulders instead. I didn’t realize how much I missed my sister. I felt guilty that I was mostly consumed with my wedding to call her more often about her first week as a college student. “Thanks princess.”

She sighed then and I heard her choke back a sob. I tensed. “Princess…” I started.

That did it then and I looked at her in alarm when it started. It was another choked up sob then a shiver and finally she was trembling in tears.

I quickly took her mug and mine, promptly putting them away before wrapping my arms around my baby sister, rocking her like she was five again and Theon Greyjoy scared the living daylights out of her with spiders.

“Shhh… it’s okay sweetheart. I have you. Robb the Slayer is here. Just give me a name and I’ll feed him to Grey Wind and maybe give what’s left to Lady once we get back to Winterfell,” I cooed at her while at the same time, tried to make her laugh…and maybe ease the panic that was welling in me too at the sight of my only sibling reduced to tears.

She looked up at me with that heartbreaking tear streaked face I know so well and tried wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. “How – how d-did you know it’s b-because of a guy?”

I know my eyes twitched at her confirmation and I swear there will be blood once I get a name and an address but I had to reign in my anger and plastered an understanding smile instead. It was already a good sign that she was on her way to talking. After Joffrey, she hid Harry and Ramsey’s poor treatment of her from shame and maybe pride. It was only when that fucker Bolton git shoved her so hard she hit her face on the steering wheel causing her to veer away, her car hitting a tree that would’ve killed her. It was only by the gods grace that she was able to jump out the car in time. Or so she said when she came to me months ago. I still think that he got violent when she said no to sex, pushed her off the car while he put the car on drive and let it crash while he fled. On that Renly and I agreed. That fucker never got that far though. We made sure of that.

“Princess, it’s the middle of the night and you’re miles away from where you’re supposed to be and there are only two reasons you’d go to your brother that way. Storm or boys. And it’s been what? Ten years since you’ve come to me because of a storm. And no, this one doesn't count. The storm came after you got settled here.”

Her eyes lowered and her face reddened in shame. “I didn’t realize…I’m so embarrassed.”

“Hey, hey. None of that. I’m glad you came to me. I’m not happy you’re sad of course, but sweetie, for my piece of mind, please, please tell me what happened? Is it that guy Dany’s talking about? The one that sends you letters?” I stroked her hair.

She sniffled. “She told you about…about him?”

I sighed at her evasion. “Nothing much. I don’t even get a name.”

She rubbed her eyes. “Probably because you’d P.I. him or something,” she muttered.

I raised my chin. “Of course I would. What kind of overbearing brother would I be if I don’t?”

She wrinkled her nose at me while her eyes narrowed before letting out a breath. “I guess I deserve that from my wonderful record.”

“Sansa,” I started.

She looked away then and tucked herself tighter.

“Did he hurt you?” Better get to the meat of this. But her immediate response startled me.

Without a moment to spare she looked up at me with frantic eyes, shaking her head no. “No. No, he didn’t! I swear he didn’t. I don’t think he’d ever. He doesn’t seem the type,” she protested.

My jaw tightened despite my eyes opening wide at her composure. I was about to retort when her face colored with something close to shame or embarrassment.

“It’s not his fault. It’s – it’s actually me this time,” she bit her lip.

I ran a hand through my hair. “You gotta be more specific Sans.”

She dropped her face on her hands. “I’m so embarrassed. I freaked out.” She looked up at me then held my gaze. “I think I made a mistake, Robb. I think I ruined it.”

My brows drew in confusion. “Sansa, what are you –

“I ran away Robb. I – I just – it was just – Robb, I ran,” she looked away once more and I could feel the complete distress in her.

Reigning in my frustration and confusion, I sighed and rubbed her back. “Maybe you should start by telling me what happened. Then we’ll figure out why you…ran. Together.”

“I ruined it. Oh, gods. I ruined it.” She kept muttering over and over as she pressed the back of her fists to her eyes. Ignoring my words.

I sighed and gently untangled her hands from her eyes and held them in mine. “Baby, you have to relax. Take deep breaths. That’s it. Come on, why don’t you lie back down and get some rest? It’s three in the morning. Whatever it is, it can wait –

“B-but – “

I shook my head and looked at her sternly. “We’ll figure it out after you get some sleep. I promise.”

She took another deep breath and looked up at me with her Bambi eyes, the one look father said could stop winter from coming. “C-can I stay here with you?”

I kissed the top of her head and squeezed her hand. “Of course. Just like old times, right?”

That brought a smile. “Thank you brother.”

“But don’t start making a habit out of this, missy. Unless you’re fine with climbing my bed with Dany in it. Fair warning, we usually sleep in the –” I tweaked her nose. “Well, not that you have a problem with that anyway considering you’ve already seen us -  

She covered her ears with her hands and made a look of disgust. “La la la la la. I’m not hearing this. La la la la.

I howled back in laughter then, bringing her to me when she finally joined in. I kissed her soundly and playfully on her cheek causing her to jerk away from me.

“Gross, Robb. Slobber much!” she complained while wiping her cheek with her sleeve, only making me laugh louder.

There she is. Now get over here,” I opened my arms at her. She looked at me defiantly when a particularly loud clap of thunder rolled through the walls, making her jump.

I raised my brows at her and tilted my head.

She pouted at me before launching herself in my arms and letting out a deep staggered breath. I wrapped my arms around her and laid us back.

I clapped her back. “It’s going to be okay, Sans.”

“I made a mess, brother,” she murmured into her hands that were pressed to my side.

I wiped my hand over her eyes and tapped her cheek. “We’ll clean it in the morning.”

She let out a tired breath. “It is morning.”

“Later then. Sweet dreams princess,” I pulled the comforter over her and within seconds, she was snoring lightly.

My eyes trained on the ceiling where my thoughts found me.

She was adamant that this was her fault. But then again, I’ve heard this speech before.

“It was my fault.”

“He didn’t mean it.”

“I probably deserve it.”

I gritted my teeth. Already, there were thousand countless scenarios going through my mind and I decided to call Dany and get to the bottom of this.

Looking over to Sansa, she was sleeping deeply, curled into herself like a tired kitten. I gently extracted my arm under her head, placed a pillow beside her that she snuggled into, pulled the covers up more and stroked her hair before getting off the bed.

I let Grey Wind inside and he happily jumped to take my place, snuggling close to Sansa who stirred only a little. Was she really eighteen? She looked so much like a kid right now and I guess, that’s how I’ll probably see her, no matter how much she grew up too fast.

Gathering our mugs, I walked down towards the kitchen, placed them on the sink before taking a seat on the stool and calling Dany.

She answered on the first ring.

“Robb! I heard she flew to Riverrun! She’s with you, right? Is she okay? Has she talked to you?” came her worried voice.

I let out a breath but didn’t hide my anger. “Dany.”

She shut up immediately, recognizing my tone. I usually let her get her way but not this time. “Dany, you’re the love of my life, my future wife in three months,” I started, wanting to reassure her first before anything else. “Yes, she’s here. She’s physically fine but tired as hell so I made her sleep, and we’ll talk after breakfast. But she admitted that this is about a boy. Know anything about that? And I know you’re not in Oldtown. Both you and Renly. Still I’d like to hear from you, yourself.”

She sighed. “We’re in Ashford. At the Baratheon’s.”

I huffed. I knew it. They were snooping around Ashford Academy where Sansa and Uncle Robert’s children studied. I counted to three before deeming myself calm enough to talk. “Dany, you told me that this one was different. I did what you asked – what you said Sansa asked. Not to interfere and just let it happen. Now here I am again, with an unexpected visit from Sansa in tears. And to make things worse, she says it’s her fault. You tell me what I’m supposed to think?” I said, not holding back, I knew Dany could take it.

“Wait, in tears?” she sounded in absolute surprise which made me falter a bit. And maybe a tad more irritated.

“What the hell happened Dany?” I demanded.

“I don’t know, Robb. We don’t. I mean, we had a feeling she bolted but not like what you’re thinking. Crying? Is she okay? Is she hurt?”

My brow drew in confusion. “She’s undamaged. It’s more of an emotional thing I guess?”

She let out a sigh of relief. “Listen Robb. I’m positive it’s not what you’re thinking. I know it’s not. The guy? He’s a good egg. I promise. I mean, they never even got past writing letters. At least until tonight.”

I gave a skeptical grunt. “Still doesn’t explain why she’s eight hundred miles away from her Old Oaks townhouse at two in the morning looking far from pristine. And this is Sansa. She’s always impeccable.

“Listen, I know you’re upset –

“Upset? Upset?”

“OKAY! Okay. Calm down for a minute, seven hells, Stark! Shut the bloody fuck for a second or you might wake her up and gods know where she’ll run off next,” she spat.

I pinched the bridge of my nose and willed myself to calm down and settled for letting her talk.

“Robb, I swear to the Seven and your Old Gods, hells, even to R’hllor if you want me too, there was nothing to worry about! Tonight, must’ve been their first time to meet and I don’t know what happened but I swear – his friends swear that he would never ever do whatever you’re thinking. We don’t know what happened yet, and the guy isn’t that much better. He’s miserable and he won’t talk. But I still don’t think that it’s fucking Ramsay bad. Not even Joffrey fucker, bad. My guess would be Sansa got caught off guard, wasn’t ready as she thought she was, then freaked,” she explained.

At that I remembered Sansa’s ramblings. “I freaked out,” she said.

I drummed my fingers on the counter while trying to digest what my fiancée said. “What do you mean ‘wasn’t ready’? Ready for what? Come on Targaryen, out with it.”

“A relationship? You should see how guarded she is about this one. But that’s only because she likes him. Like really likes him, Robb. Otherwise, she wouldn’t even bother. And this guy? He’s completely bonkers for her.”

I swallowed and relaxed a little. So, what happened? “Listen, I’m really trying here, okay? It’s just – I can’t help but think of the worst. After how many times I’ve failed her. I can’t.”

“Oh Robb. You know that’s not how she sees you,” she said soothingly.

I sighed. “I know. She’s taken the blame for everything. But still, you know where I’m coming from right? You have two brothers. I know she wants to be her own hero. I know she’s tired of being the rescued princess. Or the guarded princess. But she’s still my little princess. I mean, I helped change her diapers when we were younger! Changing bloody bandages is not the same as giving her a band aid followed by a lollipop for being a brave little girl.”

“I do understand. And I understand her too, being on the receiving end of helicopter brothers,” I could already picture her rolling her eyes on the other end. “I know Robb, and she knows. She holds her idiot brother in the highest regard.”

I softened slightly at that. Slightly. I snorted. “Well, you’re marrying her idiot brother. So, you must hold me in a high regard too, unless you’re an idiot too.”

She snorted too. “Maybe I am.”

“Hey!”

She giggled. “Listen Stark, we may be prone to idiocy here and there, but Sansa is not. She just has a very big heart that got broken too many times that she’s finally trying to guard better. But I’m telling you, she really likes this guy and the guy is as I’ve said, bananas over her, letting her dictate the pace.”

I blew through my nose. “Fine. Pretend I believe you. Ah, ah it’s my turn to speak Targaryen. What makes you so sure that he’s a good match for my sister? Why are you so keen that he’s a ‘good egg’?”

It was very soft but I heard her choke back a gasp before masking it as a cough and humming while she thought out her reply. She was nervous.

“Targaryen. What is it that you’re not telling me,” I started.

Silence. My heart started picking up as a bad feeling came over me. “Daenerys,” I said warningly.

She let out a sigh. “I can’t tell you. I want to, but I can’t. It’s not my place to tell you. I hate myself for doing this, but I can’t. Sorry Robb. Just know that he was raised well though he didn’t have the ideal family set up. None of which, was his fault. But he’s a really good guy. I did my own P.I. on him, don’t worry. Renly and I did a thorough. Just, just trust us on this for now okay?”

“Fine. But if I find out that he so much as touched a hair on my sister’s head without her permission, Winter is coming early to Ashford. That’s a bloody oath, Targaryen,” I said firmly.

“Great! Don’t worry, if I find out he did, I’ll dracarys his cock off personally – that or Renly would skewer him. Whichever goes first. Anyway, enough death threats, Stark. Just talk to her. I’m sure she wouldn’t fly all the way to you if she didn’t plan on it.”

I relaxed a little, still feeling a bit unsettled that she was keeping something – something big. But I’m going to let it slide this time because Dany may be impulsive at times, but she was a good judge of character. Far better than myself, even. “Okay. I trust you. You know I do. Still, I’m a little afraid of what I’ll find out. What if I say the wrong thing?” I admitted.

She tutted on the other line. “As much as I roll my eyes at it, your beloved sister puts you up there on a fucking pedestal. If there was anyone she listens to, it’s you. You can do no wrong in her eyes. And you may be a bloody dense moron at times, but when it comes down to it, you always do the right thing…eventually. You did pick me so I say you’re a good judge.”

I didn’t know whether to be insulted or flattered. She has a fucking way with words, this one. Still, way to pressure a guy. “I’ll try to lead her to the right path. Hells, maybe I can convince her to be a Septa. No more brother obligations!” I grinned.

She groaned. “Gods, why she sees you as anything but idiotic and childish, I’ll never know.”

“Aw. I love you too honey,” I crooned.

“Fuck you, Stark.” But I could already see her grinning on the other end.

“Then you should probably fly over here, hmmm?” I said in my most seductive voice.

She let out a very less than amused sound.  “Seven hells, what am I marrying into? Idiot. I’m an idiot. And my fiancé is a fucking horny man child,” she muttered.

“Hmm? Gotta speak more clearly, darling. All I heard was fiancé, horny and fucking. I plead guilty to the first two, while I beg you for the third.”

She sighed then giggled. “Anyway, my fucking darling husband-to-be, I’m going to hang up before this phone call gets its own rating. We both have a different mission today.”

I sighed dramatically. “Okay. Play nice there okay? Save all the naughty things for me when you get back.”

“Don’t I always, Stark?” she said. Wicked girl. Gods I love this woman.

“Not of late, Targaryen. You’ve been very naughty and not for my expense,” I challenged.

“Then I suppose you’ll just have to punish me later then,” she challenged back with that hot saucy tone of hers.

I held back a groan. “Okay this is getting out of hand and into the gutter. I’m planning on taking her on a boat ride after breakfast. Have some one-on-one with her before our father gets here.”

“Oh. Ned’s coming?” she said surprised.

“Yes. Something about a case he’s working on but we all know he’s here for Sansa. That and mom probably booked him before he found out,” I chuckled.

“That sounds about right. I’m an idiot for sounding surprised. Probably volunteered to go before Catelyn goes Mama Cat on her,” she snickered, though her tone was a little off as she tried to play it cool.

I decided to let it go for now because I was too tired to probe and if it was necessary, I’m sure Dany would tell me. “True. But for now, I’ll go brother Robb on her.”

“You do that. Give Sansa my love and tell her to call me anytime she’s ready. I won’t bother your time together. Go do your brotherly duty and don’t fuck up, okay?”

I snorted. “You’re really sweet, you know that right?”

“I do. And you love me for that. Anyway, see you Stark. I love you.”

“I love you too Targaryen-soon-to-be-Stark,” I grinned.

“Please, I’m keeping my name!”

“Whatever you say, love.”

“Oh Robb? Just… just keep an open mind over everything okay? Don’t be rash no matter what you find out, okay?”

Odd. But I agreed anyway. “So that means I’m not getting a name yet, am I?”

“Sorry. That depends totally on Sansa.”

“Fine. Bye sweetheart.”

“Later, lover.”

I hung up with a grin. But that was short lived as I focused on the task at hand. I walked over to my bedroom to check on Sansa and smiled a little when I saw her cuddling Grey Wind. Maybe I should ask good old dad to bring Lady here. She could do with her brown giant in her house to keep her company there and maybe…I don’t know… instill fear and trepidation on would be fuckers while at it.

I smiled wickedly.

Yep, better call father and Uncle Brynden to borrow his boat.

 


 

Arianne

 

Now that is a strange sight.

I stopped a few paces away in front of Jon Snow’s place, catching my breath and taking a swig of water.

Wiping the sweat away from my forehead, I squinted my eyes from the sun and saw what was, truly, Jon Snow asleep on his front porch.

Was he passed out drunk?

I didn’t see him last night. Satin told me he wasn’t coming so did he go home to drink by himself? Whatever for? Or did he sneak in, drank and left? I never knew him to be like this.

I was jogging away the buzz myself, fighting back with endorphins not that I lacked that with Arys who came to visit. I almost smirked at the memory. Still, I suppose it’s my civic duty to check on Jon.

I walked over in front of him and studied him. He was leaning on the banister, hair wild like he fought with a cat and lost and was deathly silent – I panicked a little.

Is he dead? No wait. His chest was moving. Oh, thank the Seven!

I looked around him and saw no sign of struggle, violence, or alcohol. I crouched a little and saw if he was holding a bottle or a syringe or anything but he was only clutching something blue – oh a handkerchief.

What in the seven hells?

I looked around but there was no sign of people. His phone kept blinking behind him, making the buzzing noise of vibrating as texts upon texts kept going. He shut the sound off.

I turned around and looked once more and I remembered that this was the more private sector of the villas. Mine was smack dab in the middle. Oh, wait, there was one more house here. Across his townhouse was another and when I saw the banners I smirked.

Oh.

My, my, my.

I walked back in front of Jon and nudged his leg with my foot.

Nothing.

I placed my hands on my hips and cleared my throat.

Still nothing.

Seven hells! Some things don’t change. He still sleeps like the dead. Then a wicked idea came over me. I walked up a step above him and bent close to his ear.

“Why good morning Sansa Stark! Don’t you look sexy today,” I said loud and clear, doing my best to keep from laughing my ass off when he bolted upright, eyes wide, arms flailing.

“Sansa!” he cried out as he looked around frantically.

I cleared my throat and crossed my arms against my chest.

He stiffened before turning around, his eyes shocked before hardening into a glare. I laughed then.

“Very funny. Now if you excuse me,” he grumbled, walking angrily past me to get to his door but there was that unmistakable blush on his face.

“Oh lighten up, Jonny. C’mon!”

He huffed and rubbed a hand on his face. “Don’t call me that. Annie.

Now that ticked me off. “Now here I was, jogging. Minding my own business when I saw you passed out looking like someone murdered you. So out of the goodness of my heart, I walked over to check on you. It’s not my fault you don’t like my method of waking you up,” I fumed.

He faltered and ran a hand on his hair. “Sorry. And thanks.”

I raised a brow at him. “Just like that?”

He looked up at me then and shrugged looking utterly tired and defeated.

I sighed and sat down on porch, patting the space beside me.

“I don’t really want to –

I shook my head at him and challenged him with my eyes. “Sit.”

He took a deep breath and obliged but sat two steps down from me, propping his cheek on one elbow.

“So…Sansa Stark huh?” I started.

He stiffened again and sighed.

“Listen, Jon? I know we haven’t been close, not since before you left for the Wall but you are my cousin and I do care about the boy who taught me how to knee a guy where the sun doesn’t shine,” I tried to soften the blow.

He looked up at me then with shock evident on his face. Well, I did drop the cousin bomb on him. I smiled at him sympathetically.

“How did you?” he shook his head. “How long?”

I twisted and untwisted the cap off my water bottle while I answered. “A while.”

“A while? But you – this summer,” he sputtered and I had to laugh a little.

“You’re handsome, sweet cousin, but I admit I only did that to see if you’d tell me. And even if you didn’t, not going out with me was confirmation enough,” I explained.

“Maybe you’re just not my type,” he smirked.

I simply tossed my pony tail and shrugged. “Maybe. Considering…” I stopped myself remembering.

“Considering what?”

Quick, think of a fucking excuse. “All your exes are redheads from the North.” He blushed and turned his head away. Hah! And thank the Seven! I almost said that considering Sansa Stark was his cousin as well but Aunt Elia told me that he didn’t know about his mother’s origins. Nor does he want to know.

“Well, it’s true, right? What was her name? The first one? Alys right? Then the one that lasted three years was Ygritte, right?”

“She’s not just another redhead from the North,” he said immediately.

I smiled. Now we’re getting somewhere.  “So it’s true then.”

“What’s true?” he reached down to grasp at the grass.

“You like Sansa Stark.”

He leant back on his arms and grimaced at me. “You always say the first thing on your mind.”

I tilted my head. “More than you, anyway.”

He simply moved his brows. I sighed and started to say something when I felt his phone vibrating beside me.

“You gonna ignore that all day?” I poked his back with my shoe.

“In case you haven’t got the hint, I’m not in a talking mood right now,” he muttered.

“Hmm…well, I don’t know. You may not be answering them, but you certainly haven’t told me to leave yet,” I pointed out.

He sighed.

“So…”

Nothing.

Gods.

“Were you secretly going out?”

Nothing.

“Did she dump you?”

Still nothing.

“She rejected you?”

He gave a disgruntled groan.

“What? We’ve established my bluntness. So, which is it?”

He pressed his face further into his hand. “You’re not going to let this go, aren’t you?”

“Well, I’m pretty much invested now since I’m pretty much the only one you’re still talking to right now,” I tried to make my tone as understanding as I could.

“You’d have to actually date before you get dumped,” he said finally.

“You mean, all that happened this past few days you weren’t dating yet?” I raised my brows.

He glanced up at me again in shock. “What do you mean ‘all that happened’?”

Seriously? “I see you sneak around theatre one as often as I see her sneak around theatre two. It’s not that hard to put two and two together. Both of you aren’t that subtle as you think. Though nice touch using Jaqen H’gar and Mya Stone as your middlemen.”

His jaw dropped as he blinked at me. “What? Tell me none of that’s untrue,” I pointed a finger at him.

He closed his mouth and sighed deeply, running a hand through his hair again.

“Come on, just tell me. Contrary to what people think, I’m actually a good listener and I’m crazy loyal to family. I promise I’ll keep a secret,” I urged him, emphasizing on family. I knew his situation and ever since I found out, I wanted to be there for him. Someone has to. His stupid father be damned. It’s not Jon’s fault. He has to have somebody.

“Okay, fine. I’ve been…courting her,” he mumbled.

I barely held back a laugh. “Excuse me?”

“I’ve been courting her,” he said through gritted teeth, completely red and embarrassed.

I couldn’t help it then and laughed.

He started standing up but I grabbed his arm and shook my head. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Okay, go on. I’m sorry.”

He sat back down and glared at me before sighing.

I cleared my throat. “So all the flowers she’s been receiving and notes. They were really from you right, Jon Snowdrops?” I teased.

He cringed but nodded. “Yes. I’m a sap, I get it. Get over it. And while I’ll admit to sneaking and using Jaqen – just to discreetly give her my letters and flowers, I have no idea about Mya and her own sneaking about.” He reddened.

“Okay, but then, she came to watch you. Clearly. You invited her right? Last night? And she came,” I pointed out.

He looked glum but hinted to be a little wistful. “Yes. I did, and yes, she did.”

I gasped then.

“What?” he narrowed his eyes at me.

“Did you guys go out after? Is that why you didn’t come to my party? Why she didn’t?” I looked at him.

He looked at me sadly and shook his head. “No. Well, not exactly.”

My brows furrowed. “What happened?” Half way through the play I started noticing the two of them giving longing glances at each other. They were clearly into each other. I already had a hunch that the moment Loras started going on about wanting to date Sansa Stark during rehearsal and saw the murderous looks Jon kept shooting his way. And everything made sense from then. And I did see that unmistakable flash of red hair sometimes during rehearsal. I just chose to keep silent about it. All that mattered was that my newly discovered cousin was on his way to being happy considering…my chest tightened. It was the least I could do.

He dropped his head on his hands. “I don’t know.”

I frowned and leant closer, patting his back and looking at the house across from him. “Is she home? That is her house, right?”

“I don’t know. I waited all night for her to come home. But I fell asleep…” he shook his head. “I don’t think she’s did. I mean, I don’t know how, but I’d know if she was.”

I looked behind me when I felt the buzz again. “Maybe you should at least check your messages. Just read them. Maybe your friends know.” Without waiting for his permission, I took his phone and held it to him.

He sighed before taking it from me.

“Do you want me to look?” I offered.

He blinked before huffing and handed it back to me after he unlocked it.

I scrolled through his messages. All were from Satin and Sam. One in particular grabbed at me so I opened that.

Jon, she’s safe at her brother’s. Call us. – Sam

I read that to him.

He visibly relaxed and thanked me.

“That means she’s in Riverrun,” I said out loud.

“Riverrun?”

I nodded. “Arys is interning with her brother, Robb Stark under their great uncle Brynden Tully. He said so last night.”

“Riverrun,” he repeated and I could see his mind was already going a mile a minute.

“Hey, you’re not thinking of following her there or anything, right?” I poked him.

He wrinkled his nose and looked away.

“Jon Snow!” I poked him again.

“Ow!” he rubbed his arm. “I just want to see her. Apologize for whatever it was I bloody did.”

“Jon,” I sighed exasperatedly. “She flew miles away. Do you think she’d want to talk?”

He sighed. “I just want to know what I did wrong. I didn’t mean for her to have to fly thousands of miles just to run from me. She just has to ask and I’ll not bother her ever again.”

I took a deep breath and gave him a sympathetic smile. “As smart as I am, I need to get a clearer picture Jon. And I don’t want to jump to conclusions. Nor am I the type to run in circles. So, either you tell me what exactly is it that happened and I do my best to help you, or you kick me out finally and I’ll go, no questions. What’s it gonna be?”

He rubbed his face again and looked at me. “When were you gonna tell me you knew? And technically, you’re not my cousin.”

My eyes softened. “I was giving you space. You know, when I found out I really wanted to. But you were clearly determined to keep it a secret so I respected that. And it’s just the same. Your siblings are my cousins. You don’t have to share blood to be family.”

He considered that and I counted his relaxing slightly as a victory. “Then why now?”

I placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “Because I think you could use a family right now.”

His started to blink rapidly, shaking his head once before looking back at me with gratitude in those kind grey eyes I’ve always known.

“Of course, just because you’re family, doesn’t mean I’m not going to call out your bull shit. I will string you by your balls if needed,” I dead panned.

He burst out laughing then and raised his hands in surrender. “I wouldn’t expect any less.”

I nodded indignantly. “Good. We have an understanding.”

“Thanks Arianne,” he gave a half-smile.

I rolled my eyes, smiling a little before looking at him pointedly. “Don’t thank me yet.” Then I had an idea.

“Listen, I am in dire need of a shower and carbs. Why don’t we go take a break too? Let’s go to Dorne,” I suggested but I wanted to take it back when I saw his face pale.

“When was the last time you went home?” I asked.

He looked away. “It’s not home anymore.”

My heart broke. Gods, he was going to make me cry and I never cry. I cleared my throat and drew on my determination. “Nonsense. Dorne will always welcome you as her son. Now come on.”

“Where in Dorne?” he said flippantly but I knew what he meant.

I bit my lip. “Maybe it’s time…you visit Starfall.” Time, you visit your mother, I almost said.

He looked devastated but I waited. He needed this.

“I can even just, you know, stay back and let you go alone if you prefer.”

He stood up then and sighed. “I don’t know…”

I was about to reply when my Apple watch kept blinking. Oberyn Martell, the screen showed. “Hold that thought, let me just get this quick.” I unzipped the pocket on my windbreaker and answered my uncle’s call.

He was at my place with Arthur Dayne, his bodyguard, and Sir Dayne’s nephew, Ned. Apparently, they planned a hiking trip to Red Mountain but since my cousins were too smashed from last night and I’m able, they were wondering if I wanted to go and just like that I had a brilliant idea.

“Uncle, do you mind if I bring a…friend?” I asked. Jon’s eyes shot up at me and I could already see the frown growing deeper on his face. I rolled my eyes at him and held up a hand. He huffed, turned around and crossed his arms.

“Oh. I hope it’s not one of your two lovers, Arianne. And here’s hoping it’s a girl this time?”

I chuckled but then my stomach gnawed at me from the nerves that were climbing. Everyone that were going knew about Jon’s…origins. 

“Arianne? I’m just kidding love. Bring anyone you like.”

“Jon Snow. I’m bringing Jon Snow.” I blurted. “That is if my cousin wants to.”

Jon scrubbed his face with one hand while mumbling incoherently into it.

A pause on the other line. Maybe this was a bad idea. Uncle Oberyn loved his sister dearly, and though he wasn’t one to judge bastards being a father to many, he still carried some anger for his good-brother’s betrayal of my aunt’s devotion. But my kind aunt, though hurt, opted to be ready to love the boy – love Jon Snow as if he were her own if he wanted too.

A sigh. “Go, bring him. I’d like to meet him. And Arthur would be happy to see him again. Maybe this will be good for him.”

I let out a breath. “I think so too. Thanks, uncle. I’ll see you.”

I looked back and saw Jon had a tight expression. I swallowed. “So that was my uncle Oberyn.”

He didn’t move.

“He asked me if you wanted to take a hike.” I chose to say carefully.

His eyes widened as he unfurled his arms and looked at me. “Excuse me?”

I chuckled and wanted to high five myself. “You know? Take a hike? Like go on a trail at the Red Mountain?”

He grumbled and glared at me. “Could’ve said that clearer.”

“Oh come on, I said that so I’ll know I’m not talking to a fucking gargoyle. Anyway, how about it? We can join them for one night, camped out, then we’ll come back tomorrow,” I explained.

“Just to be clear, we’re just hiking? This isn’t some plan to drag me back to Starfall?” he eyed me suspiciously.

For a second I felt guilty because that thought did occur to me. But I would never push. I shook my head. “We’ll just stick to a trail and not follow them if they go to Starfall or wherever. We can leave anytime. Come on. The Reach is beautiful but I’m a little suffocated by the potpourri stench here and the silliness.”

That triggered a tiny twitch on a corner of his mouth before he took a deep breath. “Who else is coming?”

Yes! “My uncle Oberyn, and of course, Arthur Dayne and Ned. That’s it,” I eyed him cautiously.

He scrubbed his face again. “Why the hell not?”

I grinned at him. “Really?”

He nodded. “I’m not going to Starfall though.”

“Of course,” I nodded at him.

He offered a hand and I took it as he helped me stand up. I gave him a squeeze before letting go. “It’s going to be okay, Jon. I don’t know what happened but I will tell you, for what it’s worth, I know she likes you too.”

He brightened a little. “Yeah?”

I nodded. “Truly. Otherwise, why in the seven would she keep your gross sweaty glove on through the night?”

He blushed before looking depressed and glanced wistful back at Sansa’s house.

“Come on, she’ll come back. And you’ll get back to whatever it is between you. But for now, you do you first.”

He nodded. “I hope so.” He rubbed the back of his neck.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” I was offering him an out.

He shook his head. “No, you’re right. A little heat and sand might do me good.”

 I smiled.

 Not bad, Martell. You’re a good…cousin.”

I tossed my hair. “I’m the best. Just ask the Sand Snakes.”

He rolled his eyes and grinned before going inside.

I started walking away when he called me back. I craned my neck towards him. He was fidgeting with the door knob while he looked down, nervous. “Arianne? While I appreciate this. I do. I’m not…ready to let the secret out.”

My chest tightened. “Of course.” Though I wish he could know my other cousins. I wish I could tell him that they asked me to look out for him. Look out for their brother.

Even my aunt wanted to know him.

Well, at least, this was a start.

But then there’s another nagging issue. I know he doesn’t know. But does she know?

I sighed and shook my head at the irony.

One step at a time for now though.

 


 

Robb

 I was flipping pancakes when I heard her come into the kitchen. “Good morning Sleeping Beauty! And here I thought I would have to grab Renly to come give you true love’s kiss to wake you.”

She wrinkled her nose at that before climbing on a stool and grinning at me, her elbows resting on the island table. “I already tried that when I was six, remember? He gave his true love’s kiss to Harald Karstark instead.”

I almost dropped the pancake I was flipping when I laughed at that.

She giggled and I smiled, pleased that she was feeling better.

“Is that what I think it is?”

I nodded. “Robb’s famous banana pancakes.”

“Wow! I feel so spoiled. You missed me that much?”

I grinned and glanced over my shoulder. “Maybe. Anyway, grab a plate. Can’t make it too easy on you little sister. You want to eat, you have to catch first.”

Her eyes lit up as she beamed at me, eagerly grabbing a plate and waiting for me.

I glanced over my shoulder to her. “Ready?”

She nodded. “Bring it on, bro.”

With a flick of my wrist, I flipped the pancake over my shoulder and waited for the sound of it either dropping on her plate or on the floor.

“Got it!” she cried happily.

I smiled and saw her doing a victory dance. I poured myself a cup of coffee before sitting on the stool across her where my own stack was waiting.

She got up and grabbed some juice for me and for herself before sitting back down. I passed her the caramel syrup and and watched her dig in.

“Mmm, I missed this!” And I couldn’t help the tugging feeling in my chest at what a mess she looked like last night compared to now. She still had shadows under her eyes but overall, she was freshly showered and wearing a dress again.

“Oh Robb. Don’t look at me like that, you’ll make me cry again.”

I looked up at her and saw her frowning at me, her lips quivering a little. I shook my head and offered a smile. “Princess, you up to taking a boat ride with me? The storm’s passed and the sun’s out.”

Her eyes brightened once more before faltering a little, followed by her mouth as I watched her face fall.

“Sans? What’s wrong?”

She reddened and I saw her twist her hands. “You don’t have to do this Robb.”

I sighed and leaned across, taking her small hand in mine. “Do what? Spend some quality time with my only sibling?”

Still not looking up at me she continued. “I appreciate it really Robb. But you don’t need to butter me up to talk. I flew all the way here without second thought. I’m going to tell you everything.”

My heart swelled and my throat constricted. I squeezed her hand and tapped her cheek to look at me. “Princess, I know that. But I want to. Come on, just humor me. Let me be the perfect older brother to raise your expectation for any guy?”

A corner of her mouth lifted. A tiny one. But baby steps. “You know daddy pretty much has the bar over the roof on that.”

I rolled my eyes. “Hmph. Anyway, are we going or not?”

She bit her lip then looked at me with an unsure smile. “If you’re sure you have time for that?”

I grinned and nodded at her. “It’s all set up.”

She looked back up with a hopeful smile. “Can we go swimming too?”

“Your wet suit and sunscreen are already laid out in your bedroom,” I smirked.

She rolled her eyes at me but her smile never left. “You thought of everything.”

I placed a hand on my chest and scoffed. “What do you take me for?”

“A bloody idiot,” she said with that devilish smile. “Taken verbatim from Dany’s lips.”

“One of the many many colorful things she calls me,” I shot back.

She made a disgusted face, her plan backfiring. I chuckled. “Now go on, eat up. I only had enough time to make us sandwiches for lunch.”

“Did you sleep at all?” she looked at me guiltily. I flicked her forehead. “Of course I did. My one rule today though is for this trip to be guilt-free.”

“Okay. I can’t wait to get on The Minisa,” she said excitedly.

I barked a laugh at her then.

Her face scrunched up. “What?”

“You thought this was going to be a joyride, princess? Sit back, relax and cruise? Well think again. It’ll just be me and you on the boat sis. You, and Captain Robb,” I chortled.

Realization dawned on her face. “Seven fucking hells,” she groaned.

I narrowed my eyes at her and pointed with my fork. “Oy, language. Now go eat. It’s going to be a long day, and I need my first mate in tip top shape.”

“Gods, I knew this was too good to be true. Ugh. Captain Robb is the worst,” she whined.

I snickered. “I hope you remember the drills, Sans. I don’t want to have to remind you where the port side is from the starboard.”

“How can I forget? It all came back screaming at me,” she grumbled.

“I’m not that bad.”

She shook her head and shot me look. “No, you’re the worst.”

I shook my head, “No. No one’s as bad as the Blackfish.”

She shuddered. “Yikes.”

I stood up, took my plate and clapped Sansa on the back. “Don’t worry. I’ll let you be the Skipper on the way back if you do a good job.”

Her eyes lit up. “You’d let me boss you around? Scrub the deck and all?”

“Now I wouldn’t go that far. But in case you haven’t noticed sis, you boss me around all the time Princess. Call this revenge,” I winked at her.

She rolled her eyes again. “Fine.”

“Okay. See you in exactly fifteen minutes, first mate,” I made a show of pointing on the clock.


 

Arianne

 

Jon was clearly nervous when we picked him up with my uncle’s jeep but was slowly getting into it when Sir Arthur and Ned greeted him. We were at the back with Ned in the middle – thank the Seven for him because he helped put Jon at ease. Now the two of them – the two of them were raised practically as cousins. Oh if only Jon knew who Edric was named after.

Sir Arthur was clearly pleased to see Jon, his only godson. And I knew Jon looked up to him ever since we were children. He was the closest father figure he has.

Oberyn though. My uncle was complicated. Torn between his loyalty to his sister’s honor, and his soft touch for…complicated children. But he was easy to warm. Especially when my usually soft spoken aunt suddenly raised her voice at him, hissing at him to watch over his new son while he was in Dorne.

“So Jon, Arianne tells us that you played Edmond Dantes just recently,” Uncle Oberyn looked over from the passenger seat.

Startled, he straightened up and nodded politely. “I did…your highness.”

My uncle barked a laugh and shook his head. “There are no prince or princesses here on this jeep, son. At least for this hiking trip. Call me Oberyn. Seven hells, is he really this polite Arthur?”

Sir Arthur nodded as he glanced at us from the mirror while he drove. “His mother raised him well,” he said proudly.

Just like solemn old Arthur Dayne to infect the room with his fucking solemnness as an uneasy silence stretched on after that. Even Ned who was usually chatty was quiet.

I cleared my throat. “He was a real star that night. One of the best I’ve seen him,” I tossed the map at him.

He shot me a look before smoothing out the map on his lap.

“Call us next time, and we’ll come watch,” Sir Arthur said to him.

Jon, clearly not used to attention, trained his eyes to the map, probably pretending to study it as he simply gave him a nod – but I could see his ears reddening. I giggled.

“Oh Jon doesn’t want people watching him,” Ned piped in.

“Oh really?” I gave Jon a knowing smirk and raised a brow.

He shot me another look, ordering me to drop it but I can’t. If there was one thing us Dornish can relate with, it’s passion and love. So naturally, if we’re not talking about his family life, we’ll be talking about his love life.

Ned looked at me then, his eyes curious while his lips turned into a suspicious smirk as he then looked back and forth between Jon and I. “It seems that I’m out of the loop with this one. Why? Did he invite someone to watch him?”

Jon now looked at me pleadingly but my smile grew wider. “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?”

“Well? Did you?” Ned elbowed Jon who looked about ready to kill me. I smirked.

Ned caught that. “You so did! Who was it? Well?”

At that I clamped a hand on Ned’s big mouth and tried to play it off but really if this goes on and the name Stark was set loose in this space, there wouldn’t be time enough for the men in front to react appropriately.

“Okay, I think Jon’s silence is an invitation to drop it,” I hissed at Ned.

He pulled away from my grasp and crossed his arms, glaring at me. “You brought it up.”

I raised a brow at him, not backing down. “And I’m ending it. Why don’t we talk about you fucking the first daughter instead?”

His eyes widened and his jaw dropped.

Jon’s lips turned up a little and he shot me a grateful look.

The uncles up front were clearly confused by the sudden topic change but I’m pretty sure they’ll thank me later when I tell them.

“What? Do you deny it? You are dating Myrcella Baratheon right?” I needled.

Ned stared straightaway, glaring while he gave a hard shake of his head. “We broke up. Something that I’m sure you’d be happy to do with your engagement.

I scowled at him. Gods be good, Arianne you are on fucking fire today! Seven hells. All the guilt and sympathy I was ready to give, turned to sand in my mouth at his low blow.

“Ah. I think we can start the trail here Arthur. Before our kids kill each other in the back,” Uncle Oberyn raised with a very amused expression.

Sir Arthur sighed. “This is why I joined single-blessedness.”

Uncle Oberyn laughed once more before leaning towards us with a deadly serious face. Uh oh. “Now, now, my children. Yes, you are all my children for this trip and you will address me as sir or big poppa. Now as my children, I expect all of you to be ready and alert at all times and most of all, compliant. Leave all thoughts about lovers and fuckers to your breaks. Understand?”

Silence.

He then whipped out his phone and showed us pictures. Baby pictures. Embarrassing naked baby pictures and embarrassing costumed ones. Of. All. Of. Us. “Now isn’t this interesting children? Big poppa is so proud of his children. So, proud that I just feel like sharing how proud I am on Instagram.”

Mother fucker!

He each looked at what I would think were identical horrified expressions while looking smug as fuck.

“I repeat. Do you understand?”

“Sir, yes, sir!” we chorused.

This was going to be a long day.

I snuck a glance at Jon and smiled a little. His horrified expression faded but there was a hint of a smile playing at the corner of his mouth.

I almost sighed in relief. This was going to be good for him. I just know it.

 


 

Robb

 

We stopped to swim and were now having lunch up at deck, enjoying the sun and the breeze while we cruised around the Blue Fork which had the clearest waters among the Trident. 

Sansa handed me a beer while she took a sip from hers.

"Oh no, it's time. You ready to sing Ariel?" I looked up at her.

"I was ready since this morning,” she smiled at me.

"Well, maybe you should ask me if I am,” I frowned.

She blinked, and bit her lip guiltily. "Are you?"

"Ready to beat a bloody prick up? Always. Ready to hear your boy troubles? Well, as ready as can be,” I sighed.

"Come on Robb, this is important,” she placed a hand on my shoulder.

"I know.” I took a large gulp, wanting more but one bottle is my limit for this ride. “Go, I’m ready."

She  nodded and the a blush crept on her face as she fiddled with the bottle she was holding. Others take me. Dany was right, it’s going to be one of those hearts and flowers stuff. "Okay. You see...I sort of met him in Highgarden Cafe..."

"Sort of?" I tilted my head at her.

"It's a real long story,” she looked up still blushing.

"Well, time is what we have.”

Then she started her story.


 

Arianne

“Well, fuck.”

“Well fuck? Well, fuck? That’s all you have to say? After everything I told you?” Jon looked at me clearly insulted.

I shook my head. “Give me a bloody minute to process!” Gods. I didn’t mean to belittle his confession but I just can’t picture it. That the brooding dark prince was damn fucking romantic as fuck. Gods.

We were sitting on two boulders overlooking a deep ravine, while we took a break from hiking. We were still halfway towards our camp site but the sun was too high and it was too hot to continue so we decided to have lunch first. We managed to find this small clearing away from the others and figured it was best he started talking now. Here he told me where he saw her first at the Tyrell’s coffee shop, the letters, the flowers, and the sneaking, and of course, the two of them not ever meeting or speaking beyond the freaking letters.

“You mean to tell me, not once. Not once did you speak face-to-face with a girl who lives like ten feet away from you?” I asked him incredulously.

He sighed. “I know. I wanted to. But she told me she’s not ready to meet me face to face yet. So we were going with the letters.”

I scrunched up my face. “I know she has it out for men but I don’t see you doing anything wrong? Did something happen? Did you even ask to meet?”

He looked at me guiltily then.

I eyed him. “Okay, what did you do?”

He rubbed the back of his neck. “I may have seen something I shouldn’t.”

I gaped at him. “Jon Snow, did you peep?”

He reddened as he shook his head furiously. “Of course not! I wouldn’t!”

“Then what?” I threw my hands in the air.

“I saw her playing… something her friend let slip to me that she does…privately,” he admitted. So?

“So? That’s not wicked.”

He sighed. “Anyway, that’s another long story that’s…private for us…” he was blushing again and I was about to urge him to go on but he stopped.

“But long story short, I asked that we meet right then and there and she told me that while she was moved, she’s not ready yet. And I won’t push. But I won’t stop either. Not until she tells me to. And she hasn’t yet,” he said all too fast.

“Okay, fine. But then…last night. You invited her didn’t you? And she came. Both of you weren’t at my party. Tell me nothing happened, I won’t believe you,” I pressed.

He took a deep breath and rubbed his beard, his eyes wistful and tinged with something like regret.  “It was all going well.”

I waited but after seeing him rub his face for the hundredth time and sighing miserably, I couldn’t anymore. “But?”

He leant back on his hands behind him and closed his eyes tight. “I messed up.”

Oh this was infuriating! Just tell me what fucking happened already!

“Jon –

“I saw her. After the show. Before I left, she was there. She gave me another letter. She – she was waiting for me,” he cut me off, talking in a tone that was so soft and tender it caught me off guard – that and the massive blush that he was sporting.

I blinked at him, my jaw dropping. Waiting on edge for him to please fucking hurry before I pull my hair off from anticipation.

“She was there – she was wearing my glove – she gave me a letter – she was just – she was so beautiful – she wore blue – and she was driving me crazy all night by just breathing – and then there was traffic – and we were close then far away and I just – I couldn't not kiss her!” he stammered while I tried to make sense from what the fuck he was blurting out. Blue? Glove? Close and far?

But there at the end before I almost grabbed him and shook him to calm the fuck down, I froze when I heard it.

Jon Snow kissed Sansa Stark.


 

Robb

 

While I wanted to cringe from the cheesiness of everything that Sansa told me, I also wanted to clap with joy and shake the boy’s hand – whoever it was to treat Sansa that way. The way she always dreamed of being treated. I was scrolling through the pictures of the letters he gave her through her phone, and damn. Even if I can’t make up the name he signed with – my sister effectively cut them from the frame, I could tell what’s-his-face was whipped.

This guy she calls Night was, without a doubt, treating her like a highborn lady from the stories she read. And the part where she sends him geeky insults cracked me up. Good girl!

“Okay, Sans. I still fail to see how this leads you to run to me. I mean, here’s a guy who practically calls you Queen even if you call him a warthog faced buffoon. Oh good touch by the way. And from the letters, I think if you ask him to throw himself in traffic, he would,” I looked at her.

She brought her arms around her knees and reddened. “I know. He’s too good to be true.”

Now I’m finally understanding a little.

I placed a hand on her shoulder. “Baby, maybe he is a good guy. Not all guys are demons, Sans.”

She looked at me then and gave a small smile, leaning her head on my shoulder. “I know, Robb. I have you, my brother. Seeing you and dad… makes me believe that’s still true. Still…you know I don’t exactly know how to pick them. I mean, Harry was charming. Joffrey was sweet. Ramsey was… well, he was passionate….until they weren’t…”

Hearing their names ignited the rage tick in me. And I get her point but if I know my sister, and I know her best, I know that it’s been a dream of hers to be swept off her feet by prince charming and be carried away with romance and chivalry, only for all of that to be thrown in her face by the aforementioned fuckers. And here was a guy who was ticking all the boxes she had just thrown out.

I sighed. “Princess…”

“Princess. Sometimes, I don’t want to be called that. I know how others see me. A prize. A trophy. A conquest. Sometimes I want to do crazy things – rebellious things just so they’d see me differently but I can’t. It’s not me. I like being a lady. I like being treated as one. But I am more than that. I’m not meek, or subserviently obedient without opinions or complaints,” she said slowly. “And now that I rejected some guys at uni, I’ve been labeled as the Ice Queen. A new challenge. ‘Who can make winter come?’ they said,” she added bitterly making my blood boil with rage of the nerve of them!

“What dicks. Winter will come. I’ll tell father and he’ll be sharpening Ice tonight, I promise,” I bristled.

She chuckled then. “Don’t bother. I can take care of myself. But I’ll make sure to call when I need someone to help me bury a body.”

I sighed and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Anyway, let’s get back to your guy. Has he done anything, anything at all to make you doubt him? Has he tried anything?”

She buried her face on her hands. “It was going so well. Everything was wonderful. But I messed up.”

“This has something to do with last night, right?” I said while giving her a squeeze.

“Yes,” she whimpered and I could tell she was on her way to crying again.

“Just one question before anything else.”

She blinked up at me, waiting.

“Sansa, do you like him?” Though I already knew her answer.

She bit her lip and I saw tears building on the corner of her eyes. And finally, she nodded. “I think – I think I’m falling for him, Robb. And it’s only been less than a week – and we barely talk – we touched just once. I mean, that’s crazy, right?”

And now I see clearly why she was acting like this.

She was scared.

So, they did have some contact. They touched. She just admitted it. They did something beyond letters. I brushed some of her hair back and smiled at her. “It is a little. But just because it looks crazy, doesn’t make it any less true or less real. It happens.”

She pursed her lips, skeptical.

“Why don’t you tell me what exactly was it that happened last night first? And then we’ll figure out the rest,” I directed.

She sighed before giving a nod.

“He asked me to watch his play,” she started. “And I did.”

I nodded at her to continue. If that happened, it certainly was a big step for them.

“And it happened after the show. On our way home,” she said so softly I almost didn’t hear.

“What happened?” I prodded.

She reddened deeply then and looked at me with stormy unreadable eyes. “We kissed.”

 



 

That bloody night

  Sansa

 

His lips are on me.

His hands are on me.

He was warm.

He smelled like pine and soap.

Is this real?

Is this happening?

I felt his grip tightening on my waist as he pulled me tighter – closer. As if we weren’t already welded together.

No, this wasn’t a dream.

And my own hands were really on the back of his neck – on his soft black hair. And I was kissing him back. Really kissing him back.

And Oh, Gods its wonderful! Being in his arms, his lips on mine – it was better than I imagined it.

I tilted my head more to give him deeper access, scratched at his neck to encourage him, and he groaned – Gods he groaned in my mouth that I answered with my own, opening my mouth to him that he eagerly explored but not before coaxing me to touch his tongue with my own as he licked almost too tenderly and reverently inside the walls of my mouth, his hands and arms bringing me closer still.

I never want this to end.

Why didn’t we do this earlier?

Why in the heavens did we wait?

I was running out of air but I didn’t want to stop. And I don’t think he does either with the way he was still kissing me and gripping at me like I would disappear if he let go.

I would never. I don’t think I can.

He’s been nothing but patient. And I was still wearing his glove. One minute we were walking side by side, the next we were looking across each other, the roving cars providing a chasm between us, and the next I was spinning around, crashing into him with my name, sweet on his lips, my own with his in my shock to answer.

And then…magic.

I wanted to cry with how romantic this was. A perfect end to an almost disastrous day of mishaps. But as images of the near-misses and misunderstandings today flashed through my mind, an image of me kissing Loras made me open my eyes and give out a gasp.

Jon groaned and mistook my gasp for something else as he started kissing my jaw and going lower. But my eyes wouldn’t close.

I still tried and focused on the feel of his lips nearing my neck before going up again and back to my lips. But traitorous thoughts and insecurities started pushing through.

Then I remembered his letter – his words.

 

I’m still waiting for permission to just talk to you face to face. I’ll wait until you’re ready…

 

I slowed from his actions until I stopped completely. He promised.

He promised.

 

I’ll wait until you’re ready…

Was I?

Wasn’t it time?

Wasn’t this perfect?

If it was then why am I conflicted?

I wanted to just stop myself from thinking, pushing away all those thoughts and just let it be – let this be. But it was too late.

The doubt was already there.

I looked at him and his eyes were closed as he kissed me, his hands rough but impossibly gently as he stroked my neck.

No, he didn’t mean to break that promise. By saying my name first, he asked. And by answering him with his, I gave him leave.

I was feeling my walls closing in. And I remember another hand gripping my arm the same, another gripping my neck before -  

No. He’s not them. Jon is different. This was passion. This was due. This was a forgone conclusion. I wanted this. I still want it. Oh, Gods, we won’t need the letters anymore. Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

We can be together now. No more games. No more longing looks. No more sneaking around. No more talking in riddles.

I can know him. He can know me.

This kiss is just our beginning.

We can finally talk and…

 

I froze.

 

What if it doesn’t get past this night?

What if this is where it ends?

What if. What if. What if.

I was panicking. I couldn’t fight all the conflicts in my mind anymore. This was too much. This was too fast. I’m not – I’m not ready.

I closed my eyes and swallowed, my hands lowering until they were on his chest.

Then I pushed.

 


 

Jon

 

Seven heavens.

She was taking me to seven heavens with just a kiss!

I never want this to end.

I was so lost in her, her lips, her gasps, her touch. That I didn’t feel it at first.

Didn’t realize that she slowed down – stopped. And then she pushed.

Immediately I stopped and looked down at her hands on my chest and her eyes looking away. Something in the way she looked made me want to both hold her tighter before I lose her forever, the other to let go at once. So, I settled on loosening my hold.

“Sansa?” I tried but warning bells started going off in my mind, ringing louder when she raised her eyes at me.

There it was. It could only be either a look of guilt or regret. I paled. I dropped my hand at once.

Tears were starting to well in her eyes that I instinctively reached out to wipe but once she recognized what it was I was about to do she sucked in a breath and took a step back, I froze.

Her eyes held conflict in them, with remorse adding another layer to her gaze.

Oh, Gods! I’ve ruined it! I took advantage! I forced myself on her! I thought with horror.

“I-I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have – I didn’t mean to – “I started but stopped when she looked up at me shaking her head rapidly.

“No – no. It’s not your fault. It’s me – I’m sorry,” she stammered back.

What?

I took a step towards her but she took two steps back. “I’m sorry. I have to go.”

Then she started running.

I wasted no time in running after her. “Wait, Sansa! Don’t go! Let’s talk!”

She glanced at me from her shoulder as she ran faster. “I’m sorry Jon. I really am.” And in a flash, I heard the roar of a motorcycle racing towards her, circling before stopping beside her.

Sansa seemed to recognize who it was and jumped immediately behind him giving me one last apologetic look before they sped away, leaving me in the middle of the road, the evidences of our impulsiveness scattered on the pavements on both sides of the street.

 

Chapter Text

 

Present time...

Jon

Old Oaks Villas, Ashford

 

This was a dream.

There was no other explanation.

Because right here, right now, this wasn’t possible.

This can’t be real.

There was no way I was this blessed.

No.

Sansa Stark can’t possibly be on my door step at three in the morning looking like the blazing sun at high noon.

But she is.

All bundled up in an oversized coat hiding…I swallowed… well, she looked like she just got out of bed and threw a coat on while leaving her long fiery hair in a messy braid – my fingers twitching ever so slightly at the memory of discovering how soft and silky they were.

I was too afraid to see her face but being taller than her, I had no choice and – Seven hells, how can someone be this beautiful? I was greeted with her sapphire eyes as she looked shyly from below her impossibly long lashes – lashes that just that once, fluttered against my cheek as her eyes closed.

She's here.

And I was prepared to grovel for even just a glimpse, prepared to beg for her not to close her door to me, prepared to do anything for her to just talk to me. 

But she's here. 

I think I stopped breathing when my eyes ventured lower and saw that adorable blush blooming on cheeks that never failed to drive me mad… her full lower lip caught between her white pearly teeth – I almost groaned knowing how that feels – how soft they felt on my own – on my mouth, between my teeth, under my tongue… I didn’t know if I licked my too dry lips just now but I couldn’t help picturing that one time I was well acquainted with those damned lips.

How can I forget when it’s all I ever think about every damned second?

I knew I had to say something – do something – anything but I was paralyzed. I don’t think I was even blinking, too afraid that she might disappear if I do. My carefully folded letter that I was about to leave on her doorstep, still clutched in my hand felt so useless right now.

It didn’t even register right away that she was the brave one tonight, because one minute I was staring at her a foot or two away from me, the next we were inches apart. I was staring at her yet I didn’t see her move closer.

This wasn’t a dream.

I could smell lavender and something citrusy, and I could feel her cold breath misting in the still autumn air, teasing my neck sending shivers to my suddenly overheated body.

Sansa Stark was here.

In front of me.

Two days. Two days without her and now she’s here.

At three in the fucking Monday morning

A hand on my arm.

I inhaled deeply.

A letter on her other hand.

My heart started racing.

“Jon.”



 

Saturday, Two days before…

 

 Arianne

Red Mountain, Dorne

 

“She left?” I blurted out in disbelief. What in the heavens for? If it was me I’d be pushed up against a tree or a lamp post by then.

He groaned into his palms as he nodded. “I shouldn’t have grabbed at her like a craven fool. I shouldn’t have kissed her.”

Craven? Fool? What era are we? I blinked rapidly, trying to make sense from this. “Wait, didn’t she kiss you back?”

He grunted. “What does it matter? She pushed me away. Gods, I’m such an ass.”

I pursed my lip before standing beside him and giving his head a pat. “Jon, it matters. Because for all of what? Thirty seconds or something, she was willing. And if she really didn’t want to, she’d have pushed you away the moment you kissed her, but she didn’t.”

He kept still, completely unmoved, turning into a blasted gargoyle again.

I sighed and crossed my arms in front of his miserable form while I nudged his shin with my shoe. “So did she?”

He looked up at me with agony in his stormy eyes. “She did and she even – “ he paused as another blush crept his cheeks.

Oh.

Lady Sansa liked it.

I fought a smirk. “Where were her hands?”

He blinked at me. “Huh?”

I uncrossed my arms and spread out my hands. “Hands, Jon. Where were hers?”

A tight line formed on his mouth and he furrowed his brows at me.

I rolled my eyes and sighed in frustration. “Gods, I’m not one of your Neanderthal guy friends, so I won’t fucking ask if you ‘got happy,’” I air quoted, “or if you ‘copped a feel’. Nor am I a vapid bitch who’ll braid your pubes and paint your nails while I ooh and ah at how fucking romantic that effing kiss was. I’m just trying to understand body language here,” I snapped at him. “Mother and Smith!”

I placed my hands on my hips and glowered at him. We’ll be old and gray before he tells me everything at this rate.

He in turn had his jaw to his feet, his eyes wide and open at my outburst. Good. I sniffed.

Then suddenly, he broke into a laugh. Like a head rolling back, stomach clutching, laugh. And I couldn’t help but thaw and laugh with him.

After the high came down, we were wiping tears and settling to silent chuckles when he finally let out a breath and relaxed, before giving me a half-smile. “One on the back of my neck and the other on my hair,” he simply said while he bent over to retie his laces, his ears and the back of his neck as red as my house sigil.

I smirked at him then and elbowed him. “See? She wanted that as bad as you, lover boy.”

He sighed but the tell-tale redness was now spread permanently on his face. “Then why would she suddenly stop and push me away?”

I let out a breath on my own as I sat beside him again, swinging my legs about as I leant back on my palms. “I don’t know. Maybe she realized you suck at kissing?”

He looked at me then and gave a smug raise of his brow.

I rolled my eyes and punched him. “You weren’t that good – Ow!” Motherfucker’s arm was hard as rocks.

Bastard simply smirked but his eyes were still cloudy.

“I don’t know, Jon. I don’t know why she ran,” I finally said. “But she probably has a good reason.”

He grumbled. “To make things worse, she said it’s her fault. ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’, she said but I can’t help but feel damn guilty.”

I perked up at that. “She said she was sorry?”

“Yes,” he answered while he idly picked at his shorts. “Sorry for what though? For kissing me back? For giving me the best kiss I’ve ever had and it didn’t even last that long?” he said bitterly. “Nothing she did that night, wronged me. Not in the slightest. She was perfect. Until she pushed me away, that is.”

I looked him over and gasped. I was about to comment how he’s so into her, how whipped he was, when I realized that it was probably more than that. “You’re in love with her.”

His jaw dropped as he looked at me. And from the way his stormy eyes brightened and darkened and brightened once more as if the realization was beginning to hit him, the storm has passed and the sky was clear as day. Seven hells he just realized it!

“Or at least you’re starting to? You’re falling for her?” I amended, waving a hand in front of his frozen face.

He blinked then and covered his mouth as he looked away, deep in thought, his eyes wavering.

“Or you’re not. You’re just really really attracted to her?” I was starting to panic. Gods, I really need to work on subtlety some more. “Jon, say something, damn it!” I nudged him.

He let out a deep breath and shook his head slowly. “Seven hells,” he muttered each word slowly. Then he looked at me with his brows furrowed again. “But… we haven’t… haven’t talked. It’s been less than a week?”

I raised a brow at him. “Haven’t talked? What were those letters then? Knock knock jokes?”

He shot me a dirty look before shaking his head again, his eyes still wide and disbelieving. I sighed and held out my hand. “Show me the letters.”

He looked away and shook his head sharply. “No.”

Gods, why was he acting like bratty baby?! 

I huffed. “You want my help or not?”

“Why do you need to see them?” he shot back.

“Because you won’t give me a damn clear picture!” I threw my hands up  in exasperation.

With one long sigh he gave a curt nod before taking out his phone and handing it to me. And there it was in one folder, pictures of Sansa’s letters written in elegant cursive. Figures.

As I began to thumb through the photos, I peeked at him. “You do know that in today’s day and age, we have what we call, texting and emailing…there’s even Viber or messenger… a shiny little thing called a smartphone…this – this here, you’re not using it properly.”

“Shut up and read. I’ll tell you what I replied,” he grumbled.

“You think you’re the one giving out favors here –

He cut me off with a tired sigh. “I’m sorry. I’m asking you, Oh wise one, to please, please invade my personal life and help me sort my fucking mess,” he said sarcastically but I could tell he didn’t put on too much heart on it. Frankly, he just looked tired.

I shut up and wrinkled my nose before starting with the oldest letter.

 


 

 

Robb

Green Fork River, Riverlands

 

I blinked at her, finding words to comfort my sister who was currently cringing into her palm, completely red from embarrassment and regret.

So... they kissed.

“Uh…okay. Okay. So you two... kissed...” I recited. “That’s – that’s not so bad.” Gods. These are moments I wished I had a brother instead. Or I was a sister to her. Whatever. I don’t have a flying clue on how to deal with this! I mean, I want to punch anyone who makes moon eyes at my sister knowing most had crude intentions, but how was I to react to this? We were discussing my little princess – my baby sisterand her – ugh. This is what I’m marrying Dany for! And this is also why I tolerate Renly fucking Baratheon in her life! Fucking get a grip, Robb!  She turned to you!

She cringed again. “Then I ran away, Robb. I pushed him then I ran away. Gods!”

I snapped back as a flash of anger and confusion went through me. “Why’d you push him away? Did he – fuck – how do I say this? - did he touch you?”

She ignored me and now it was the rage taking over. “Sansa if you won’t answer me, I’ll assume it’s a yes, and I’ll assume it’s the worst and if it is then I’m marching over there – so help me!”

She jumped then and grabbed at my arm while shaking her head. “No – no! I just – it was wonderful. I wanted it. Everything. I kissed him back.”

I almost cringed again when her words registered. I calmed down enough to be confused at her action. “Then why?”

She bit her lip and hung her head in shame. “I panicked. Then my mind kept bringing up things that tainted it. And I couldn’t fight them away. It was too much, too fast. Maybe I wasn’t ready… When I pulled away, he stopped immediately and didn’t push. He waited. Then when I couldn’t answer he started apologizing! Telling me he should not have done that. Gods! I just know he probably felt that he forced himself on me when he didn’t but I left anyway after I told him sorry. After I told him it was my fault. I left and I saw his face…So now you see? See what a mess I made? I ruined it!”

I shook her shoulders a little. “Okay, okay! I’m getting a little picture here. You… kissed. Then you panicked. Then you left him.” It wasn’t really that... complicated? A panicked mind wasn’t the best at decision making.

She started tearing up then. “It was a beautiful moment and then I had to ruin it. What must he think of me? I’m a horrible person.”

I sighed and resisted the urge to rub at my forehead. “Sweetheart, okay let’s analyze. Can you tell me what triggered your panic?”

She kept her eyes down and reddened some more. “I was really enjoying the moment, you know? But that day wasn’t exactly a smooth-sailing one. We had a lot of near-misses before that kiss happened. I kept thinking how every one of those road bumps were so worth it if they lead to that moment. But then – I did something I didn’t have to do out of my uncertainty.”

Okay, ‘near-misses’? Maybe these ‘near-misses’ may have led to the… buildup. “Why don’t you tell me all about them?” I prodded.

She looked at me then. “Promise you won’t get mad or say anything until I’m done?”

I searched her troubled blue eyes, eyes that were so like my own and nodded.

Smiling briefly, she started telling me she woke up and found another letter in her mailbox that came with a snow drop. I read that letter and that was the one that had an invitation to watch his play.

“By that time, most people already knew that there was someone who fancied me. Giving me the same snow drops here and there so if I went and saw me with snow drops again, they’d know. They’d know I was interested. And they could guess that it was one of the actors,” she bit her lip.

He knew what he was doing. “He’s ready,” I said as I took in her words. Got to hand it to him, he was subtle.

Subtly pissing over his property that is.  I almost smirked.

She nodded and looked down guiltily. “He is.”

“Were you?” I asked not missing a beat.

She fiddled with her braid and gave me a quick unsure glance. “I wanted to be. I was even excited. I was really going to watch even before he invited me, though I planned to go… a lot less…obvious,” she shook her head. “But then that morning, I just figured that he’s been so patient and he didn’t give me any impression that he was pressuring me, always willing to let me give the pace. We were neighbors, he could go up and talk to me at any time but he gives me space. So I thought, maybe I should do it. I called Dany then to help me prepare. I even embroidered him a handkerchief for luck – you know like one of those –

“Medieval favors,” I finished for her.

She smiled.

“Years of playing Ser Robb the Slayer, Princess,” I winked at her. Her eyes twinkled shortly before turning serious again.

She then told me how she meant to give her favor a day before but lacked the courage so when his invitation came, that was her opportunity to be brave. She continued to tell me the rest until that moment she stayed on her porch, fully made up, but decided not to go.

“Doubt started kicking in. Lately the doubts come easy Robb, and my mind runs quick with second guessing over the tiniest things…” she frowned and I saw her wringing her hands again.

I snatched a hand, squeezed it once, and then with my other hand, I tapped her cheek until she looked up at me. “Baby,” I started and the look she gave me shot straight to my gut. “Baby,” I repeated. “I understand, but it’s not your fault your walls come quick,” I said gently.  

She faltered a bit but then shook her head, unconvinced. “I had no reason to doubt him. He gave me none. Truly, Robb. He was nothing but patient,” she said softly while I continued stroking her hair.

“Then his friend came and he convinced me to come and watch. He even offered to hand him my tokens backstage. And when I went there, he went all out. I was front and center with two seats empty beside me, save for flowers again. And when I saw him look at me…he was genuinely surprised. If only he knew I really wanted to be there. I really wanted to see him. I was just so nervous to take the next step. And then he had his friends give me another note…and this,” she fished out something from her bag and placed it on my hand.

It was a glove. I blinked, and I didn’t know what to make of it when she continued. I watched as she lightly traced the glove as I held it, her cheeks impossibly flushed and her eyes incredibly soft. “Straight from his hand. It was still warm when I wore it. It came with a Romeo quote – the one with the glove passage. And my favor was on his breast pocket, my ribbon on his right arm. He never touched his opposite with his ungloved hand – yes, he kept on with the play with only one gloved hand. And when he looks at me… I can’t describe it,” she kept on, her voice a soft adoring almost whisper.

I’ve never seen her like this before. I knew Sansa was quick to love – quick to see the good, quick to appreciate the tiniest things. But this was new.

This was more.

Sansa was always a perfectionist. Always eager to please. But she never craved attention though who could ever not see her and not be enamored with her? It wasn’t even affirmation she sought.

What she craved was affection. For she gives that all too easily.

She was the sweetest, most caring, most sincere person I’ve ever known. Quick to love and quick to forgive. That big heart built into one beautiful package – that same big heart is all too easily coaxed to love…and to manipulate.

That’s why I could understand her hesitation now. With her previous relationships, all show of affection wasn’t all that sincere. And none were particularly exceptional gestures. If anything, the things they gave her, did for her, told her? They were fucking rewards for her in their eyes. A privilege that she earned. And she accepted them all as if they were mana from heaven. Each trinket, a victory. Each praise, a recompense.  Making them excuses for their atrocities. She just wants to be loved. And they threw that to her face as a weakness. A small show of affection, that was all she wanted and here was someone who wanted to shower her with it. This was something she wasn’t used to thanks to the sons of bitches before this guy.

“Life is not a song…” I remember she told me that, almost a month after her last breakup. It took months…that and flying her all the way to Volantis from Winterfell to see her old music teacher and a new bow of the finest material and craftsmanship to replace the broken one and make her play again and rekindle her first love which was music. With her return to music, she slowly became herself again, a haven from all that she endured.  

And now to see her like this.  It breaks my heart. She doesn’t deserve this – second guessing every nice thing done for her as if she was unworthy of them or that they came with a price. Yet now from all that she told me of this new guy so far, his efforts were commendable. Not one of the dumb fucks she dated before ever made such efforts and she was with them for months! The things this guy was doing, they weren’t tiny things, especially where Sansa’s been pushing him away. And the pushing away, this was a first for her. Despite that, I can see in her eyes how much she wants this to be real. That's why she's guarding her heart so much with this one. She knew how hard it would break if this was another...disappointment.

She sighed then continued. “He was really good Robb. And I have to admit that throughout the night I wanted more. I wanted to talk to him. Really talk to him. When I saw how he was with his on-stage partner, I wanted to be held like that – kissed like that. I decided right then and there to go up to him. Without any plan, I simply went backstage. His friend who I’ve told you about, the one who caught me watching him saw me again and brought me to his dressing room. When he asked me what I planned to do, I suddenly had cold feet. He then assured me that there was no pressure. That I could simply just leave the night as it is, or maybe send a letter. So I did. This is what I wrote him,” she showed me a picture of her letter.

I read it and looked at her astonishingly. “Sansa, this means…”

She nodded. “Yes. But then when I snuck in and left the letter… that’s when… oh Gods.” She buried her face in her hands again.

“Tell me.”

“Day…Day was there and he caught me and even if I rejected him many times, he still did his best to flirt with me. And that night – when he caught me there he knew. He figured it all out and he knew that I was desperate to keep it a secret so he gave me an offer,” she said, tearing up.

I didn’t like this feeling. And I could guess what it was. But I kept my mouth shut.

“He told me he’d keep it a secret and let me go if I kissed him,” she finally admitted. And now the pieces started to fall into place as I realized what she was saying.

“Sansa, you didn’t,” Whoever Day was, was a dead man. But if she did what I think she did, she’s not innocent too.

She sobbed. “I did.”

I fumed. Yet another dickhead took advantage of her.

“Again, I panicked. I could hear the shower going off – I was going to get caught. I didn’t realize that time that I didn’t have to do what Loras wanted –

“Loras?” I spat. Then my eyes widened. “Loras Tyrell?”

She looked up at me, panicking again and holding on to my hands, begging with her eyes for me to calm down.

I knew about Loras Tyrell. The youngest Tyrell son – the prettiest son as Renly said, with the longest list of lovers who he claims, never complained – this I got from Dany. So underneath all that gentleman crap was a fucking prick.

I let out a frustrated breath and looked at Sansa with a little disappointment but made sure I still looked understanding. “Why didn’t you just let yourself be caught? Night would’ve understood and would probably be over the moon that you’re there. And you wanted to meet him right? You meant that in your letter.” That and if my raw opinion of Night was true, he’d kill that flower bastard and shove a golden rose where it can grow strong – preferably with thorns.

She hung her head low as her lower lip trembled. Guilt. “I know. I know that now. Believe me, it’s all I’ve thought about on the plane. It was this incident that triggered my panic when Night was kissing me. I honestly don’t know why I was still unsure that time. Why right? Why, when I wrote that I wanted the next step in my letter?  I was ready. I really was.  But that time when Loras pushed, I felt the walls. And I caved and took the only protection that was offered.”

I pulled a hand away and placed it on her cheek. “Protection from what? From Night?”

She shut her eyes as tears started rolling down. “I realized that all along…I was terrified of facing him.”

There it was.

I sighed and brought her to me, my hand stroking her drying hair as she sobbed in my chest. “It’s stupid. I know, but I got scared.” She then continued in between sobs that his friend came back for her and apologized, told Tyrell off and then almost called her out on being unsure. Then she talked about seeing him and walking with him and everything that lead to their kiss.

I kept silent and continued soothing her as she let it all out. Gods.

“It only took one small thought. One tiny doubt. One. And it opened a door to let in all my insecurities, my confusion, my guilt. And I couldn’t fight them. Then I saw other hands, other faces…and that’s when I knew that as much as I wanted to fight them all. As much as I wanted nothing but to kiss him and be with him and know him. As much as it was an enchantment – all of it…I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for him to know me,” she said, her voice raw and heartbreaking. She suddenly looked up at me. “What’s wrong with me Robb?”

I pressed my forehead to hers and closed my eyes. “Sans, nothing is wrong with you. You just weren’t ready. It’s really as simple as that.”

She shook her head but I cupped her face in place and looked at her. “Sans, you weren’t ready. You’re scared. And it’s because of all the shitheads that mistreated you. Okay, you made mistakes that night. In your panic, you made them. It happens. But you don’t get to apologize for not being ready –

She started protesting anyway but I quickly shook my head firmly at her. “No. No matter how much you want something. If your mind says no with just the most trivial reason, no is no. It’s not about what he deserves, sweetheart. Yes, it was a shitty thing to do to lead him on and pull away but it’s not for you to reward him for being patient and being on his good behavior either. Even if his behavior was best you’ve had, I know baby, but it doesn’t work that way. There shouldn’t be rewards, or punishments,” I eyed her carefully before continuing.

“And that kiss may be wanted by both of you. Maybe it was even a long time coming. And that’s okay. But you only give what you are ready to give. And if he is as wonderful as you claim, he’d get it. And even if you gave your consent though it was barely one from my opinion, and yes, you kissed him back, he should’ve known better than to let you two get caught up in the moment. It was too fast, too soon. No matter how fucking romantic it all was. He should’ve done more to make you sure. I’m not taking away that moment for you because for all I know it was fucking magic and right for all ten seconds but Sansa… you two are still practically strangers. Do you understand?”

She relaxed a little and gave me a small nod.

"That kiss was still special and it could still mean a lot to you both though maybe the timing could've been better. Anyway, not all beginnings are perfect. It is what it is. A beginning. It's a catalyst. Not the conclusion. Unless you make it one."

She sniffled, and nodded again.

I sighed and hugged her. “Now tell me what it is you’re really scared of.”

“You’re right. It’s so easy to get caught up in…the moment and pass it off as romance or destiny or something silly..." she started. 

I wanted to tell her that those were still possible. Those could still be true. I knew the stories she read and loved. I read them to her after all. But she needed to ground them with reality too. 

"But we are… sort of strangers still. He…he only knows me on paper. And it’s not like they were all personal words. I’m afraid…afraid to find out if… what if he only likes me on paper?” she muttered so softly and nervously that I almost didn’t understand but I did and it only brought me a flash of irritation.

I snorted. “Princess, that is – “ I paused, almost saying complete bullshit but amended with “ridiculous.”

“Is it?” she said not in the slightest convinced.

I let out a huff and made her face me again. “You are the most beautiful girl in the world and I’m not just saying that because we look alike,” that earned a tiny laugh from her.

“Kidding aside, Sansa, you are beautiful. But more than that, you are clever, talented, and you have the biggest heart in the world. Why in seven hells wouldn’t he like you?” I searched her eyes and she still doesn’t seem swayed as she bit her lip and looked away. “What if it was only our game he was interested in? When it ends, will we end too? I don’t want to be a conquest. I don’t want to be a trophy… or a distraction.”

I studied her words carefully and knew that I had to choose my own well too. As much as her grounds for worry were valid, and much as I wanted to shield her from the risk of a monumental heartbreak, she owed it to herself to find out if she’s wrong. And I pray to all the gods that she was because Sansa deserves to be with someone who treats her as she ought to be.

“What if it’s not? What if it won’t?” I challenged her. “What if he genuinely likes you maybe even more than you do him? These are a lot of ‘what ifs’, Sans.”

She clutched at my shirt. “Still… I don’t want to get hurt again, Robb. I know that’s stupid. But I don’t want to ever feel that way again. Helpless. And I keep thinking that yes, we can be happy but what if I do something he doesn’t like? What if I disappoint him? And I keep making mistakes and panic easily already.”

I stroked her hair before untangling her from me. “Sansa, nothing is perfect. I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. He’s not perfect. That’s why we’re human. We are prone to mistakes. But we are built to learn and live as long as we draw breath, we are fashioned to live until we die.”

I gently took her hand and put the glove that was too big on her delicate hand and held it in both of mine and smiled at her. “And Sansa…what if it’s worth it?”

The shadows in her eyes gave way to bring out the brightness in them once more as she took in my words, a ghost of a smile dancing on her lips.

“So now my question is, do you want it?”

She blinked a few times before nodding over and over at me with a desperate gleam in her eyes now that she accepted the truth.

“Come on princess, how about I hear you say it? I should be warding you off boys until you’re thirty. Dad’s going to kill me for convincing you to give a guy a chance. Especially one that sent you flying like a bat out of a cave,” I managed a frown.

“I do,” she choked out. “Will you help me brother?” she said so softly partnered with that damned Bambi eyes damned Renly taught her to do.

“Seven hells, enough with that look, oy!” I rubbed my face but then broke into a grin, spreading my arms for her which she immediately went to, her long arms around my middle. I wrapped my arms around her and patted her hair.

“Help me brother. I want to make things right again with Jon,” she breathed against my chest.

Jon? Finally a name. I’d still need a last name but I’ll let her tell me more later.

“That’s my girl. Now, it’s time we clean up this mess,” I wiped her cheeks and gave her nose a pinch, grinning. “Shall we begin, first mate?”

She giggled as she rubbed her nose then gave me a salute. “Aye, aye, Captain!”

 


 

Arianne

 

Seven fucking hells.

These two were bloody idiots.

Idiots but fucking adorable and yes, romantic as fuck.

I can’t believe that Lady Sansa had a funny mind but damn it if she wasn’t creative. I mean I knew there was more to her but this I didn’t expect.

“Would you just laugh and get it over it?” Jon cried out, miffed and embarrassed as hell.

So I did, earning me an eye roll and a grimace as deep as this ravine.

“Well, it serves you right,” I pointed a finger at him.

“What does?” his brow twitched.

I hopped off the boulder and smirked at him. “You gave her a vanilla cupcake. That’s your first offense.”

He scrubbed his face and grumbled before eyeing me. “What the fuck is with that? I really don’t get it. It’s the prettiest and most expensive damned cake in that damned coffee shop. What the hell is wrong with it?”

I smirked wider and shook my head slowly and ignored his question while I ticked off his mistakes with my fingers. “Second, you gave her a lovey dovey Romeo quote.”

He was about to retort but I cut him off, raising a third finger and waving them at him. “Third, you did it all, unsigned.”

He turned his back at me and kicked some dirt on the ground and grumbled. “I thought it was romantic.”

I giggled. “I didn’t say it wasn’t. But look at her. With that face, she probably gets cat called all the time. How is this different? And the vanilla? I get you’re trying to impress her but that just sends a different message for some people. That she can be bought. So, yeah, serves you right to get called a warthog faced buffoon on the first impression.”

He turned and looked back at me with horror. “I didn’t – I – that wasn’t my intention! I just saw how out of my league she was so I did what I thought would impress her!”

I raised my palms at him, holding myself from laughing. “Chill! I know that. Gods! And it probably would’ve worked if she didn’t have it out for men. Still, her responses… wow, she’s my kinda woman,” I winked at him. “Most guys won’t appreciate it. But you… you like it, don’t you?”

He relaxed and smiled a bit.

“You like that she’s a lady and you like that she has a secret wicked wit – something she only shares with you,” I elbowed him, poking him on his sides until he cracked a smile.

“Okay, okay, fine. It’s just… I just want to know her more. What she likes, what makes her laugh, what –

“-makes her panties drop?” I mocked him and earned another serving of scowling that was in no way intimidating – not with that massive blush so I continued, backing away in case he does something crazy. “What makes her moan… what makes her come…”

That was it.

I took off with a sprint with him hot on my heels as I ran towards the others laughing my head off. “O-oh Jo-o-on! Yess – yes, yes! Faster! Faa-aass-ter!”

“Oy! Get back here!”

I ran and knocked into someone, falling hard on my ass. And all too soon I was greeted by my uncle, arms crossed over his chest, a brow raised, and a frown. But his eyes were soft and amused.

“I thought I told you children to play nice,” he crooned as he stared me down.

Yikes.

I watched as his gaze shifted to Jon and followed it. Uh oh. He was red-faced and panting, glaring daggers at me.

I also saw Ned and Arthur look back and forth the three of us with identical confused faces.

Finally, uncle Oberyn shook his head and sighed at me before holding out his hand. I took it and looked away guiltily. I didn’t mean to make fun of Jon. I just wanted to make it seem like it was no big deal. Based on the letters and their interactions, I knew this was just a misunderstanding. They were crazy for each other.

Uncle Oberyn eyed me down and then as if he somehow understood, he pinched his forehead before nodding his head over to a trail.

“We shall split here and meet at the big clearing where the paths converge near the river. That’s where we will set camp for the night. You go with the boy and make peace with him. Play nice. It’s your final warning,” he commanded.

Jon wanted to object, clearly wanting to be rid of my presence but the look my uncle showed him left him no other option.

I gave him a sheepish smile but he simply sighed and started walking towards the trail while I struggled to keep up with his long strides.

“Hey.”

Silence.

“Come on.”

Still silence.

“Okay, I was a dick! Get the fuck over it and listen to me for a second!” My hands were on my hips and I couldn’t help stomping like a petulant child.

He whipped his head around me and glared but he stopped and waited.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m sorry. It was wrong to make fun of you. But seriously, this thing between you and Sansa? There is nothing to worry about. You’re both good.”

His brow furrowed in confusion and disbelief.

I placed a hand on his arm and sighed. “You guys are shit crazy over each other. That much is obvious. But your girl here is guarding herself. Why she’s guarding herself for dear life, only she herself can tell you why but she is. Still, she likes you. And she’s probably just getting comfortable enough to make sense of your sincerity. In her last letter? That was clearly an invitation for the next step.”

He softened and rubbed the back of his neck.  

“Did she ever ask you to stop?” I asked.

He shook his head, unsure. “She gave warnings…” he started walking again, slower and calmer this time that it was easier to match his pace. He ducked against a branch and held it up for me to pass. 

“Warnings are warnings. But not a stoplight,” I answered him before passing under.

“Still… she pushed me away,” he pointed out again sadly, letting go of the branch and watching it spring back into place almost wistfully.

 

I got my knife out and started slashing away at some of the large leaves that were in the way. We were on the only forested part of the Reds which wasn't much but there was greenery enough as we went nearer to the river. We were close to the campsite as we could hear the Torrentine below. I was fighting the urge to hit him on the head or push him off the cliff. Why was he so convinced that he ruined everything?

“I know. Maybe she needed a second. Maybe a little space? You did just kiss her out of the blue. She extended her hand, not her lips,” I pointed out.

“But,” he started but faltered, muttering about a passage. I barely made out what he was mumbling about when I heard it. “Let lips do what hands do.”

Oh.

I smacked my forehead. “Well, serves you right for skipping a few lines.”

He took out his knife and helped me clear the path, a glance at his face saw that he was red again. “I know.”

“Still, does she ‘kiss by the book’?” I wagged my brows at him.

Well, hello, the red is now on his ears. He didn’t need to answer.

“Why would she need to go so far away? I’d have given her space.” he asked as he hacked away half-heartedly.

“I know you would. But you guys are neighbors. Maybe she needs more physical space…and I may be going out on a limb here but maybe part of it is so she wouldn’t be tempted,” I shrugged.

He stopped walking while his eyes widened at me, jumping back in time before a branch hit him. “Tempted?”

I grinned at him. “Yeah. I think this space and time is more important to her than we think. I think she has some issues to sort out and she can’t do them if she sees you and caves before she’s ready.”

There’s that blush again. I could see he wanted to protest because he still doesn’t believe that Sansa was on board with the idea of them. He said nothing and started walking again.

“Listen, just focus on you here and I’m sure we’ll see her on Monday. She’s a smart girl, she won’t drop out just because of this,” I said, matching his stride.

His shoulders straightened a bit before drooping again slightly. “What do I do then when she gets back?”

I smiled at him and looked at him like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “What you two do best. Write, to her.”

He chortled a laugh and shook his head. “Seven hells, now why didn’t I think of that?” There he is. Good old sarcastic Jon.

“Oh and since the cat is out of the bag and your lips have been acquainted with each other already… I think you can do with the niceties and go for the more…bolder ones,” I winked at him.

He looked at me disapprovingly. “Won’t that scare her off more?”

I nodded once. “It could. But you don’t really regret that kiss, do you?”

He looked away and flushed again. I smirked.

“You said it was the best kiss you ever had,” I pointed out him.

He threw his head back in frustration and grumbled. “Alright. I don’t want to regret it. But if I really did go too far, I am allowed to apologize for that.”

“But you’re not going to apologize for wanting to do it and liking it, are you?” I pushed.

His mouth was a tight line.

I rolled my eyes. “See? You can’t deny it. And that’s okay, Jon. Better and easier to be honest with yourself.”

He sighed. “Nothing felt more right when we were…” he sighed for the love of the hundred once more.

“Then tell her that,” I said exasperatedly.

His eyes shifted, unsure.

I stopped and placed both hands on his shoulder, making him look at me. “Jon, tell me honestly and tell it straight, did that kiss feel like just a moment thing?”

Immediately he shook his head. “No. It wasn’t!”

I gave a nod. “Good. Because I know it was one of those kisses. Like one of those that come with a jolt of electricity, earthquake, and fireworks and stars in your eyes, over the moon ones. And for all of ten or twenty seconds or even a damned minute, maybe she felt and saw the same too. Only, she had to pull away. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t feel it. She kissed you back. From what you told me, you both wanted it. Both felt it. I guarantee it. Now you have to tell her that. Make her believe that that kiss meant something more than just a moment thing. Make her believe that that kiss was more. Make her believe that it wasn’t a mistake. Don’t give her any room to doubt it. You have to fight for that kiss,” I said as sincerely and as encouragingly as I could, shaking him by the shoulders with every emphasis I had to make. “Don’t let her push you away.”

He looked back at me in shock but I saw that I got through to him. Even if just a little. I sighed and released him, saw him sway a little, but his eyes were still wide open as his mouth.

I softened. “Jon, I know that you’ve been patient and understanding and completely considerate of her, giving her all the control. She knows that. That’s why when she left you hanging, she said it herself. It’s her fault. So you see? Something’s clearly up with her but it’s not you. Give her time to sort it out but now more than ever, she needs you to reassure her that you are serious. I mean, you are serious right?”

That made him snap back to the present as he jerked and snapped at me. “Of course I am.”

I nodded and smirked at him. “Just making sure, cousin dear. It’s not a game too, right?”

He glared then before giving it up and frowning. “It never was.”

I grinned and nodded again, placing my hands on my hips. “Good. Then tell her that. Tell her everything.”

He softened and kept shaking his head at me, a ghost of a smile forming on his face. “Seven hells, you’re so bossy.”

I sniffed haughtily and tossed my hair. “You forget who you’re talking to, sir.”

He laughed then. “Come on then, your highness. Let’s hit camp and get this shit over with so we can climb back down tomorrow. Apparently, I have a mission to accomplish.”

I linked my arm with his and dragged him to match my pace. “True. But your mission right now is to put our conversation and your brooding inside a box, open it in Ashford, and just live in the moment for once in your pathetic brooding life. You’re making my hiking trip depressing. Gods, you think some time under the sun would lighten you up –

“Arianne!”

I gave him a nasty side eye for interrupting me but that lasted for all two seconds when I saw him with a dopey look on his face – grinning and grateful. Gods. I wanted to cringe. This was a job for maybe Margaery Tyrell or Tyene or any other girly girls. Boy needs a softer sister for this.

“What?”

“Thanks,” he said simply before looking back ahead of us.

I rolled my eyes at him but couldn’t keep from smiling.

“Who would’ve thought that Arianne Martell understood romance?”

Just like that irritation surged through me again and I wanted to cringe some more. “I may not be a girl girl. But I still have a fucking vagina,” he cringed at that and I almost laughed in his face. “And women are more intuitive about these kinds of things while you lesser sex, cave man your way through everything.”

I expected him to retaliate but instead he sighed and even looked amused. “Well, at least I’m trying to be the more evolved form, don’t you think?”

I snorted. “Just because you can read, write, and wipe your own shit.”

He shrugged as he chuckled.

And that was how we spent our time as we walked towards the camp site. Bickering and might as well say it, bonding.

It was nice. I’ve always been close with my cousins and us Martells were big with family values and love. Jon may not be my aunt’s son, but he was a Targaryen whose blood had drops of Martell in it too. And he was born in Dorne and raised in Dorne.

He’ll always have family. 

Now if only he would accept that.


 

 Robb

 

We were headed back to Riverrun and I was standing beside Sansa who now had her turn at the steering wheel.

“Skipper?”

“Hmm?”

“Do I get a name now?” I tried. “Or will you just leave me with ‘Jon’?

She glanced at me briefly and thought. “Do you promise not to interfere?”

I raised my hand. “I promise not to interfere… unless the prick deserves a proper beating.”

She wrinkled her nose before sighing and giving a nod. “Fair enough.”

I looked at her expectantly then.

A blush rose on her freckled face. “His name is Jon Snow.”

Jon Snow? I blinked. Why was that name so familiar?

“Robb?” she glanced at me and raised a brow.

“I haven’t met a Jon Snow yet. But his name is so familiar. I can’t place him,” I rubbed my beard.

“Well, he’s your age. Well, a year younger –“ she started hesitatingly.

I made a face but held my tongue.

“And he spent his high school at The Wall,” she continued.

Oh. Now I remember. Uncle Benjen may have mentioned him to dad. He was going on about how a Dornish boy looked and acted more Northern than most. Skilled with the sword and had good leadership skills. Good lad. He remarked. I told Sansa this.

“Really? Well that’s good right? Uncle Benjen…approves of him,” she said a little nervously.

I laughed and nodded. “I suppose it is. Still, if he looks northern, then he’s not one of your blonde blue eyed princes.”

Her smile fell and her eyes flashed. “No, he’s different. He’s better.”

I chuckled. “I’m sure. I didn’t mean to mock you. I mean, we Northern men are a devastatingly handsome bunch. Nothing like Northern ruggedness, ey?”

She snorted before a sly smile emerged. “Yes, certainly. Young Trout –er – young wolf.”

I couldn’t help but choke out a laugh at that. It was true, both of us favored our Southern mom more in looks. “Nice comeback,” I had to hand it to her.

A corner of her lips lifted. “Anyway, he was born in Dorne and raised there… but come to think of it, he does kind of remind me of Uncle Brandon, if only in looks.”

“Maybe one of his parents is from the North,” I shrugged.

There was a look that passed her face but it was gone just as fast as it came. I decided not to press it. “I suppose.”

I simply gave a nod at that, pushing my sunglasses higher.

“Robb?”

I looked at her and noted that she was suddenly serious. “Yes?”

“I’m… a little nervous for tomorrow,” she admitted, biting her lip. I sighed. We talked about how she should just try and talk to him. And not just through a letter this time.

“Baby, from his letters, he adores you. The guy sends you flowers that are not completely in season for gods' sake. You two just need to talk it out. Set boundaries. I won’t interfere, but I’ll be there. If you two are good, then I’ll be gone before you know it. If he turns out to be a dick, well, then I’ll just have to be a bigger dick to him or make him dickless, whichever you prefer.” I crossed my arms against my chest and raised my chin.

She let out a breath and nodded. “I don’t think that’s necessary, but thanks for the offer. You’re so sweet,” she rolled her eyes and giggled.

I grinned. “I try.” I gripped the railing and leant forward when I was starting to make out that we were near. “Hey, we’re near.”

We could see the docks of the Tully’s ancestral castle, Riverrun.

“Is that daddy?”

I squinted my eye and true enough, father and our great-uncle the Blackfish were standing by the docks and waiting.

I looked at Sansa. “The one and only. Ready for another one-on-one?”

She didn’t even bat a lash. “Please, daddy’s easy. I’m his favored child.”

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever helps you sleep at night, princess.”

I felt a hand on top of mine then and I looked at her but she was looking straight ahead.

“Thank you Ser Robb the Slayer,” she snuck a glance at me while beaming genuinely this time. “I mean it. Thank you, Robb,” she said as she reached to kiss my cheek before continuing her navigating.

My heart caught and I turned her hand so I could grip it in my own. “Anytime, princess.”

Never again.

If I can help it, I’ll never allow her to give herself to another unworthy bastard. My sister will have her happy ending, I swear it. After all that she did for Dany and I, I want her to be happy too.

Though I was still not a hundred percent sure about this Jon Snow guy, Sansa really likes him and her best friend and my fiancée who were both just as bad as I was in nit picking her choices in men, vouch for him, there is that, I should go with that for now.

Jon Snow.

I guess I’ll have to call Dany to tell her that I know now and maybe she’ll tell me more. If not then there’s always Uncle Ben, or maybe even dad. And maybe a quick call to… okay, they were right. I’m going to P.I. this guy one way or another if uncle Ben or dad can’t tell me much.

Speaking of which, I saw our dad smiling and waving us over as Sansa started docking the boat. Once we’ve secured the boat, Sansa jumped and ran down to dad’s waiting arms who caught her and spun her around like she was seven again.

I looked at the Blackfish and also noted his usually stern face go soft for a minute as he watched the exchange.

Smirking, I shook my head, accepting once again that Sansa had us all wrapped in her long dainty finger – worse now that she was still a bit vulnerable and in need of comfort.

“There’s my girl. There’s my sunshine,” he crooned as he kept his arms around her. “I missed you sweetling.”

“I missed you too daddy. I’m so happy to see you,” she whispered against our father’s chest where her face was buried and I saw the slight tremble of her shoulders.

Dad then tightened his hold, placing his chin on top of her head while singing softly in old tongue while he rocked her, making me want to tear up too.

He looked up at me then first in greeting then in question.

I gave him a reassuring smile and a nod that made him release a breath, his shoulders relaxing a bit.

Sansa pulled away and wiped her eyes as she started apologizing.

Dad simply gave her a look that stopped her, placing a hand on the back of her head, brushing a tear under her eye before placing a kiss on her brow. “What matters is you’re safe. Though next time, a little warning, love, before you jump on the next fastest moving vehicle? Nearly gave your mother and I a heart attack.”

“Though you made the Hound very happy. Took him out of his boredom, grand-niece,” The Blackfish winked at her.

Sansa stepped out of dad’s arms after giving her promise, then gave our great-uncle a hug and peck on the cheek too. “Where is he anyway?”

The Blackfish guffawed and gave her back a playful clap. “Where he’s supposed to be. And my, my, Sansa. What a report he gave.”

I laughed at her cringing embarrassed face. Uncle Brynden was not only a fearsome litigator, he was also the covert head of security for our family, being one of the primary shareholders of Silver Trout Security Inc., thus, Sandor Clegane reported directly to him, so naturally, he knows.

“Maybe we can compare notes, uncle. I also got an interesting report.” I grinned at him and he laughed again while Sansa glared at me. Dad turning serious again as he studied each of us.

Great-uncle Brynden wrinkled his nose and shook his head. “Oh, I’d rather not know the full details.” He then eyed Sansa and I. “Though, one of you should probably report something to Ned here before a body mysteriously washes up on the Trident or vanishes beyond the Wall. Be thankful Ice is tucked away in your castle.”

Sansa paled then and looked frantically at him then at dad who looked…solemn. “No, it’s nothing like that, daddy!”

Dad stood silent for a moment, raising a brow in question before looking at me for confirmation.

“It’s all good, dad,” I gave him a thumb’s up making him relax a bit. “At least…for now.” I added much to Sansa’s growing horror.

I laughed again before pushing her gently towards father. “Anyway, we’ll let Sansa do the honors and report to you directly, Lord Father.”

Dad let out a breath and smiled encouragingly at Sansa, offering his hand to her.

Sansa took a deep breath, shot me a sharp look then smiled back slightly as she turned to dad and took his hand, following him as he started walking towards the keep.

I watched as he squeezed her hand and gave her a tender smile. “You don’t need to tell me everything, sunshine. I’m sure Robb was the perfect ear already. Oh but before anything, there’s someone whose been impatient to see you.”

Dad gave me a smile I returned conspiratorially. He gave a whistle and two two-toned pounds of fur shot out from the gate.

Sansa practically glowed in happiness as she caught her brown and white husky as it jumped her, eagerly licking her face as she hugged her dog's neck. “Lady! I missed you girl!”

I felt a tail brush against my leg and saw Greywind with his tongue out, looking up at me expectantly. I bent and scratched behind his ear but kept my eyes on Sansa and Lady. It took a lot of convincing for mom to let her come but dad won her over. She won’t be able to bring her to Ashford but at least they have this time.

“Thanks for bringing her daddy,” she beamed at him, making him smile wider. “Thank your brother,” he nodded his head at me. She looked at me and I winked at her, earning me a very pleased grin. “Thanks,” she mouthed, I mouthed “welcome” back. 

Dad then wrapped an arm around Sansa’s shoulder and told her they should go inside. Sansa stood up and nodded, her smile still plastered on. “Anyway, are you hungry, love? How’s school? I heard that you got to play a solo? Did you play Brahms or something more modern?”

I continued watching as they disappeared into the east gate, Lady silently at her side. Finally, I let out a sigh of relief.

“Kissing then running off in the middle of a street, jumping on motorcycles, flying in the middle of the night…”

I looked behind me and saw the Blackfish shaking his head in disbelief but there was amusement in his eyes.

He looked at me then and gave me a smirk. “Are you sure this is my dutiful Cat’s lady Sansa? Or Honorable Ned’s?”

I smirked back. “Oh she very much is, uncle. But I guess as she’s coming into her own, some of the other…family traits are manifesting. You don’t suppose you know where she could’ve inherited the rebellious streak, do you?”

He snorted, “There’s only one black fish in the family and that title’s taken.”

I laughed, shaking my head. “Well, we could call her the ‘black wolf’ but when this is all over, she’ll be the perfect image of the Maiden again. Though, hmm… What was it again that triggered your own insurrection, uncle?”

He waved that off as we started walking back to the keep as well. “Please, it would take a lot more to be called rebellious. She’s not even close. She hopped on the back of her bodyguard’s motorcycle, flew on your fiancée’s airline, and into her brother’s waiting arms. Yes, it was an impulsive move but it was done ridiculously responsibly.”

“Wow,” I whistled.  “If you put it that way.” I shook my head in disbelief. “Seven hells.”

“I believe your sister has never done anything insensible in her life. Well, except date bloody cunts.” he spat. “Why we let those bastards slip through the cracks, I’ll never know.”

I winced. “Sansa is exceptionally talented in seeing saints in demons.”

“Har! That, and that Stark stubbornness you all have, wanting to save every damned oppressed thing,” he bellowed.

I had to nod at that. “Well, we’re one track compassionate minds.”

“So tell me, is this Jon Snow another saint?” he cut through directly. “I haven’t checked his profile yet but Sandor told me he’s clean as a whistle. But we all know that’s not enough. ”

I blinked. “I’m not completely sure but Dany and Renly vouch for him and Sansa really likes this one. Regardless, I’ll try and meet the guy when I see Sansa to Ashford. You are letting me stay there until Monday night, right?”

“Of course. ‘Family, duty – well, you know, son,” he said gruffly. He scanned his boat then nodded at me to follow him. “Since you’ll be gone for a day, might as well start your make up hours now,” he smirked at me.

I groaned. “Don’t I get to have some time with my dad too?” I tried, knowing it was futile.

He clapped my back and chortled. “You know he’s here for your sister, right?”

“Can’t blame me for trying,” I shrugged, smiling sheepishly.

“Let them be for now and let’s go see to the Freys.”

I groaned again, louder this time. “Freys? Again?Gods, if only I can announce my engagement already. Three more months, Robb. Three more months!

He laughed then. “Maybe this lot will have someone who looks…agreeable.” Gods, how many more daughters will they parade around this time?

“Then maybe you should marry one of them,” I grumbled.

“Don’t worry, Edmure will, eventually. For both our sakes,” he said sardonically.

I had to laugh at that and nod. “I guess he’ll have to.”

“So…three months is it?” he eyed me.

I nodded.

“Your father and your girl’s brother…?” he trailed off.

I sighed. “They’re…civil. Especially after what Dany’s brother did for Sansa. All is well. At least, definitely better.”

He seemed to accept that answer, nodding once.

I sighed again. Sansa wasn’t alone in falling in love with the ‘wrong’ people. I almost rolled my eyes. Thank the gods Dany and I were able to keep the peace and get their blessings. Or else…well, there’s always Essos.

I smirked.

“Hm. Now that look could overthrow my namesake,” The Blackfish raised an amused brow at me as if he read my thoughts completely.

Shaking my head I walked faster, calling Greywind to me.

“Ah, to be young again,” I looked back and saw the Blackfish rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

 


 

Arianne

 

I sat on the log beside Ned who was stoking the camp fire some more while my uncle was taking a nap inside his tent.

Jon was… out there talking to his godfather who approached him with the pretense of gathering more wood.

“What’s he like?” I blurted out.

Ned turned to look at me, his pretty blue-violet eyes regarded me with confusion. “What?”

I leant back and crossed my legs. “What’s Jon like when he dates?”

“Oh,” he blinked and stared back at the fire. “He mostly just follows his girlfriends around. But if you’ve met his exes, you’d understand,” he let out a laugh.

I frowned and started braiding my hair. “Can’t say that I have. I only saw the pictures. But you went to the Wall too, right?”

He gave a nod. “Only two years. I couldn’t stand the cold. But yeah, I met Alys and Ygritte. They were both on Jon’s level. No wait, Ygritte was a year ahead. He dated Alys first, but that didn’t last long. I think it started because they were partners. But you know, if I didn’t see them on a date one time, I would never have known they were dating. They stayed mostly under the radar – more study partners if anything. They were both…broody and too serious. So yeah, I think they just stuck to each other so they wouldn’t need to socialize that much. But with the few times they let me hang out with them, I could see they genuinely cared for each other. Just, on a more platonic level.”

I couldn’t help but snort at that. “So he basically found a brooding partner. That’s not surprising at all. Tell me about Ygritte.”

It was his turn to make an undignified sound. “You should’ve seen it. Ygritte all but marched up to him and demanded he take her out to dinner. Poor Jon was too nice to say no. But I guess that worked out fine in the end. They did get close to three years. He was even less broody that time. Maybe even happy. Hmmm… yes, definitely less broody then. Oh but she did boss him around so much but I don’t think he minded. He loved doing things for her, but they drove each other nuts too. When they fought, I think you can hear it from the top of the Wall and beyond. But gods they made out just as mad after so we just called it fucking passionate or something.”

I nodded at him and tried to picture it. “So why did they end it? And wait, I thought they lasted three years? They didn’t?”

He looked up and searched around to see if Jon and his uncle were back before answering. “I’m not really sure but Jon told me that while it was good while it lasted, they wanted different things in the end. And yes, close to three. Technically, they ended it at two years but remained friends and default dates for Jon's last year at The Wall. Ygritte stayed and enlisted.”

I blinked and nodded at him again. “Hmmm.”

“What are you thinking about?” he asked.

Propping my chin on my knee I looked back at him. “I guess… among the girls he’s attracted to, they don’t really fall on a certain…type. Well, aside from the red hair and the geographic anyway.”

A knowing smile grew on his face but he just nodded. “Oh yes. Both from the North. Both redheads. And both on the honors list. One more academic, the other on the technical. Alys was closer to Jon’s personality. Honestly, they’re both so shy and dense it’s really no surprise that nothing really happened with that. I’d wager it took weeks before they acknowledged each other’s interest. And gods, I don’t know how they converse! Those two speak so little. But when they moved, they synced perfectly.”

I giggled. “Side-by-side brooding then. And Ygritte is one fireball isn’t she?”

He laughed then. “Yes. She’s a wild child, that one. One of those, can’t-hold-me-down, restless, renegades. It was honestly funny to see them together but you know, that time, I guess, opposites attract. She does get the credit of pulling him out of his shell though.”

“Well then, thank the gods for Ygritte,” I smirked.

“But I think we need to thank the gods more for Sansa Stark,” he smirked back.

“How did you – ?”

His eyes lit up and he pointed his finger at me. “Ah-hah! That was a guess, and you just confirmed it! Awesome.”

I smacked my face for falling for that. “What clued you in?”

“You said redhead and geographic. There can only be one in Ashford that fits the redhead from the North,” he pointed out.

Fuck. Really gave myself away for that one. I waved him off. “Fine.”

“But yes, Sansa Stark is definitely different from Alys or Ygritte. So maybe it’s safe to say that Jon doesn’t have a type other than, well, the hair maybe but that could just be a coincidence,” he shrugged.

I shook my head. “Or, he does have a type. You told me he liked doing things for his exes and stuff. I think he’s always been a fucking loony romantic. It was probably romantic for him to find a kindred soul in Alys, and he probably thought Ygritte’s forwardness was a romantic declaration. But those two weren’t actually romantic, thus, didn’t last. And well, Sansa is a romantic. And he’s finally allowed to be romantic and foolish and sweet – allowed to finally treat someone like a queen.

He raised his brows. “Seven hells.”

“Yes, seven hells indeed,” I agreed.

“Still, what’s going to happen when he finds out about, you know? Or she does?” he looked at me then.

I sighed. “Well, I don’t know. But I don’t have the heart to stop him now. And if he really likes her, it doesn’t have to be a problem.”

“You really believe that?” Ned said skeptically. “He hasn’t been to Starfall for three years, not even for holiday breaks. Not since…”

I frowned. “How’re your parents then?”

His shoulders slumped. “They’re still waiting. We’re all giving him space and he does keep constant contact with all of us back home through calls and emails. But we understand why he just wants to move on with his life. But our door’s always open. Uncle Arthur even approached him, wanted to make him more than just a godson but Jon politely declined. Won’t give away the name his mother gave him, for anything.”

“And he has the right of it.”

Ned and I jumped from the sudden voice behind us.

Uncle Oberyn sat between us and gave a deep sigh.

“He has the right to make decisions for himself, including who he wants to date,” he said. “And it’s better if no one interferes,” he eyed each of us, his gaze longer with me.

“Let them be. Let them learn the truth on their own and let them decide. But until then, let them enjoy each other without the added pressure from family.” he continued. “And let’s pray for the best.”

“I really hope so, uncle. I think my cousin loves her already. Can it really be that fast?”

“Yes, love. Yes, it can really be that fast. Some take years, some, only a moment – one right moment and you’re held captive of it forever,” he said without any hesitation whatsoever.

Before anyone can say anything, Jon and Arthur came back and from the look in Jon’s face, he’d been crying but there was a weight lifted off his shoulders.

 


 

 

Robb

Dad and I were walking the dogs while Sansa talked to mom on the phone.

“Son?”

I looked up at dad and he had that worried look again. “Yeah?”

“Sansa told me she had a misunderstanding with a boy that was mostly her fault, she needed space, so that’s why she’s here,” he started.

“Well, that’s the summary. I guess.”

“But is it…”

I gave him a reassuring smile and a shake of my head. “It’s not like the others, dad. This guy actually wants to treat her like a queen.”

“Do you know of him?” he asked, still unconvinced. Hell, I wouldn’t be too if whatever happened drove my daughter to fly a region away.

I shook my head. “No, but Dany and Renly said he’s a good guy.”

“And you think they are the best judge?”

I wrinkled my nose and considered it. Both of them were the free spirits in their family, marching to their own drums, making lots of questionable decisions. They may argue with their family the most and give them headaches, but they were fiercely loyal and protective with their loved ones, making them trustworthy where it matters most. “Well, they both love Sansa like family.”

“Okay,” he said after a while, likely thinking the same as I. “I won’t ask what happened. But she’s okay now? You’re sure?”

I nodded. “She’s…well, dad she doesn’t trust herself that she’s letting someone who is actually nice into her life again.”

He frowned deeply then. “I still blame myself for encouraging her to date Robert’s son and your mother blames herself for encouraging her to date the damned Hardyng after. Both little shites. And then that Bolton bastard had to come all pitiful and hurt, luring in our Sansa’s too gentle heart, hiding what a little shite he was too.”

I almost smiled when I heard dad calling Sansa’s pathetic exes little shites, the Northern accent heavy and thick. “Bet you wish that Renly would change his ways and be Sansa’s prince charming once and for all.”

Dad let out a chuckle then and shook his head, I laughed with him. Seven hells would freeze over before that happens.

“Dad, Sansa never told you the name of the guy right?” I asked him.

“No. But she told you right? It’s okay if you don’t tell me. I’m sure you’ll…investigate on your own if Renly and your Dany left anything for you to investigate,” he smiled knowingly. I almost smiled when he said your Dany, knowing the emotions and implications he gave. Dany won them over and they loved her already, her brothers be damned. But I still had to snort at his statement. “Dad, I know you’ll let us handle this but I’ll tell you his name anyway. She says his name is Jon Snow –

I was rambling on about how he was from Dorne, had high school at the Wall and maybe he remembered Uncle Ben mentioning him and so on and on and I realized he was silent.

I stopped and looked at him and what I saw surprised me.

Dad, ex-Governor Eddard Stark and Lord Paramount of the North, was pale. Pale as the winter snow that comes with our family words.

His mouth was a firm grim line etched on his long face while his grey eyes were vacant and haunted – like he saw a ghost.

“Dad?”

He blinked then and regained himself, placing a hand on his beard and rubbing it. “Sorry son, you say his name is…Jon Snow?”

I scrunched up my brows and nodded. “Uh, yes. I was thinking maybe you remember him? Uncle Ben mentioned him before?”

He blinked and nodded suddenly but his eyes were still faraway. “Yes, he was a good lad, he said. Looked like your uncle Brandon when he was young. A northman in all but birthplace…”

I was really concerned now because it’s rare to see dad…flustered. “Is everything alright, dad? And I’ve seen his picture, he really does look like uncle Bran. Come to think of it, he looks like you too.”

He looked at me then for a time and then let out a deep breath. “This…Jon Snow… Sansa likes him?”

Why? Is there something we should know? I wanted to ask. Because clearly, dad knew something. “It’s probably too early to say, but I think she’s fallen for him. Or is at least, with great potential, falling for him. And dad, I only have what I’ve been told and what I’ve read from his letters to Sansa but I think he likes her just as much.” So now tell me dad, tell me if we should do something – like, right now before they truly fall too deep and stopping them then would be far too cruel. And oh gods, she rides like a champ, she can sail a boat – and she knew what Dany and I almost did when we were against all odds – seven hells. Scenarios upon scenarios played in my mind. Others take me, did the Blackfish and I speak too soon?

He scrubbed his face then and I could see he was clearly debating with himself before looking at me fully and what I saw in his face unnerved me. Somewhere between uncertainty and concern, there was fear or maybe something close – definitely along the line of anxiety. “Dad, what is it?”

He sighed then and motioned for me to follow him. “There’s something… you should know. Do you remember my stories about…having an aunt? About…my sister?”

And suddenly, it hit me. I don’t know how or why but I remember with surprising clarity how uncle Ben told dad about this Dornish boy who looked northern, all talk about their long lost sister that we’re never allowed to discuss ever or ask about, their sudden departure for weeks almost a month to Dorne three years ago… the colossal fight before that trip that dad and his brothers had with Dany’s brothers – the Baratheon brothers in the middle along with the Martells… it was chaos. Pure chaos! Dany and I barely kept the peace and we truly feared that time that we would have to elope if we ever wanted to be together. But mother and Dany followed them to Dorne and somehow they tempered things because when they all came back, there was peace – or in the very least, a truce was made but there was no hiding the haunted looks in their eyes that lingered for months.

I asked my parents and Dany about what happened, but mom and Dany said it was dad’s story to tell, so I asked him again, the look he gave me made me hold my tongue. His words even more so.

“Son, I’ve never asked for much from you. You know how proud I am of you and how much I trust and respect you. I cannot ask for a more perfect son. But this… forgive me, you cannot ask for. If the time is right, you’ll know but until then, please just let it be.”

I’ve had my suspicions of course but dad asked this of me and Sansa as well when she realized something was amiss too so we never tried. Sansa and I agreed that they’ll tell us eventually and we didn’t want to break their trust. Sansa and I didn't even discuss it with each other. 

So when I nodded my answer to my dad who looked like he aged ten years at this moment, I knew the next words he was going to say.

And when he did, though I half expected it already, I never expected the anger to come. There were so many things going through my mind and I wanted, for the first time in my life, wanted to yell at my father. Hit my father. Though I understood why they did what they did, truly I did, it still felt wrong. More than that it felt like they didn’t even try. I was mad at Dany and Renly too because they were both right and wrong with their decision to conceal, yet encourage.

A flash of red in the corner, followed by the sound of feminine laughter brought me back and centered me, my eyes filling suddenly with worry and dread but as I saw my sister’s smile I was regretting ever letting my dad know about Jon Snow.

Before Sansa can see us, I quickly pulled dad towards an empty hallway, shooing Greywind and Lady, praying to all the gods they understood my command of distracting Sansa and leading her away before she asks them to lead her to us.

With a frustrated breath I forced calmness and looked at dad with determination. “We can’t tell Sansa,” I all but commanded or pleaded whichever worked with my dad. “We can’t.”

 


 

Arianne

 

“Hey Jon, I think I know what quote you’ll give her,” I said in greeting as he sat down next to me.

“I thought you said to ‘use my words’ this time,” he wrinkled his nose.

“What’s this about quotes?” Ned piqued up, his violet eyes shining ridiculously prettily with mischief.

“Oh is our young actor here sending love notes to his lady love?” Uncle Oberyn added.

Jon buried his face on his palms and groaned but not before shooting me a deadly glare.

“My godson is courting a very lovely young lady,” Arthur added with an almost smile on his usually serious face. Oh Gods, he knew. And he’s probably keeping the secret too. Thank the gods! Or else, oh my gods.

“Oh, my, my, my. Big poppa is very impressed. There is no shame in that. But now I am curious, what have you been writing your…lovely lady Sansa?” he crooned and it was my turn to hide my face in embarrassment knowing which direction this was going.

Jon didn’t look up and kept muttering what I would guess, were the many ways he could kill me or kill himself right this moment.

Gods, I’m sorry! I only wanted to diffuse the tension with Jon! But damn Edric Dayne for having big ass ears! But there was no way they were letting this go so I had to answer for Jon and rationalize in my mind that this was a better topic to talk about rather than what we all knew what Jon and Arthur were discussing before.

“Romantic quotes. Romeo quotes most of all. Wooing ones.”

“Whoa,” Ned elbowed Jon. “Nice.”

Arthur smiled the smallest yet most sincere smile at Jon but said nothing.

Uncle Oberyn, of course, leaned closer and grinned wider, his dark eyes…naughty. “And were they received well?”

I couldn’t help the snort there, try as I might to cover it with my hand and a cough.

Jon looked at me and his eyes just screamed. Why, Arianne, Why?

“Never mind that. I was about to give him a quote about a kiss. But maybe you guys have something better,” I suggested.

Now Jon was glaring daggers at me, his eyes screaming Et tu Arianne?

I grinned. I didn’t want to put him on the spot but now that he and his godfather were able to have that much needed overdue one-on-one about his mother and how he has family in Dorne, it was time for said family – ahem –  to help him with his more present problem.

Getting his happy ending.

Uncle Oberyn practically bounced over his seat before deciding to edge Ned off his seat to take his place on Jon’s left and whisper something in his ear.

Whatever raunchy – yes –  definitely filthy words he whispered made Jon as red as the sun on the Martell sigil. He sat as far away from my uncle, nearly pushing me off my own seat in the process as he kept shaking his head with disgust.

“No!”

Everyone laughed except Arthur who, we all knew, was just holding his. “Oberyn,” he warned. “Something more…appropriate please, for a sweet lady.”

Uncle Oberyn crossed his arms and legs, arching a brow. “What? Panties would drop for one of Pablo Neruda’s.”

I giggled then. “Hmm, maybe I need reminding.”

Uncle Oberyn then put his flirtiest look on and licked his lips ever so slowly. “I want to eat your skin like a whole almond. I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your loveliness…”

I reddened. Ugh. Oh my, my. I fanned myself and nodded at him. “Oh. My. Gods.” I looked at Jon then. “Jon, you should use this!”

Jon reddened some more while Ned snickered. Arthur quietly just shook his head at us but his eyes betrayed his amusement.

Ned then shook his head after examining Jon’s visible distress. “Nah, something a bit tamer for Jon’s lady. His lady is the ladiest lady I’ve ever seen.” But before Jon could thank him, Ned opened his big mouth again. “But better write that down for the future, hm?” he wagged his brows at him earning another hot glare.

“She might just reply to that with a ‘lost poem’ of her own but not by Neruda but Dorothy Parker,” and they all collectively groaned because I worshiped the woman’s wit.

“I require only three things of a man. He must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid,” I grinned, putting up a finger for each and bringing them down one by one, starting with my thumb, then my index finger, and saved the middle finger for the last. 

They all shot me looks and I smirked at them.

“You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.”

We all had whiplash, our eyes shooting towards Arthur who was sipping quietly on his canteen.

It took a moment of shock but it was Ned who reacted first by throwing a tiny rock at him that bounced off of him easily. “Boo!”

Uncle Oberyn laughed heartily then and clapped Arthur on the back but I looked at Jon and saw him…considering.

Figures. He would so go for those types. “Wanna use that, Rhett?”

He crossed his arms and smirked. “I’m not dignifying any responses. I am invoking my right to silence in all this.”

“Oh no you’re not! So come on, I’m sure you already thought of a killer to give her. As an opening to your love sick words of course,” I arched a brow at him.

Everyone looked at him expectantly then and we didn’t actually expect him to answer but after a sigh and another delightful blush, he did. It was short. It was heavy. But it was so…ugh. Fucking panty dropping. And it wasn’t in the least bit filthy too.

“Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.”

Silence.

“Percy Bysshe Shelley,” he coughed. “From Prometheus Unbound,” he scratched the back of his neck awkwardly.

And suddenly he was surrounded with cheers and jeers and approval and an onslaught of un-toasted marshmallows.

And somewhere in the middle of our teasing, praising and yes, even some harassment, Jon Snow was smiling.

 


 

Robb

 

After that…talk with dad, there were so many things going through my mind. There were still decisions to be made and a phone call to Dany to ring, but at least dad and I were able to decide on one.

I know I told Sansa to talk to him personally and set boundaries. I’m still for that and will support her through it all when we go to Ashford but I had to put the brake for a minute. They can’t go too fast. At least, not until I get a feel of my – our… cousin.

I wasn’t against that. Dad’s parents were cousins. Dany’s were even more complicated. It was a weird world we live in. It’s just that… Jon Targaryen only knew about that half of his heritage. And dad was clearly devastated that he didn’t know about the other half. Not a thing. And Jon was clearly fine with that. I’m so afraid of how it would affect his relationship with Sansa. So I’m going to see for myself if this was worth pursuing. If not, I’ll be the bad cop and put an end to it. This will kill both Sansa and I and maybe Jon Snow too, but there were no other people Sansa and I trust most in the world but each other. Because even if he doesn’t find out about his Stark side, he could still end it with Sansa once he finds out that one of her best friends is a Targaryen and more than that, her brother is marrying a Targaryen – a Targaryen who actually met him and knew of him. To be with Sansa was to be with the dragons too.

And he’d get suspicious as hell.

So the only way to avoid that is for Sansa to be completely in the dark. She’ll have to convince him that she didn’t know and I pray to all the gods that he’d suck it up and stick by her still.

But what happens if he promises to endure seeing his father if Sansa manages to get him to come with her to my wedding? He’d take one look at dad and his brothers and figure it out. What’ll happen then?

Dad promised not to interfere. Dany promised not to involve anyone other than her and Renly too. And I know we would all warn everyone else from saying anything.

This was giving me a tremendous headache.

But as much as everyone was thinking of Jon Snow’s feelings and the possibility of him accepting that he had family. I was much more concerned with Sansa’s.

She’d feel used.

A pawn to get Jon back to House Stark and House Targaryen.

It wasn’t fair for her either.

She’d understand though and she’d do her best to make him understand too but she’ll blame herself and let him go and lose all trust in anyone for that matter.

So it’s going to be me who’ll tell him the truth. When he arrives at Winterfell for my wedding, I’ll tell him and make him realize what matters most and that’s Sansa, beg even. Or force him to at least endure the whole ordeal and not cause a scene and end it cleanly with Sansa after. She does not deserve to be humiliated.  

The only way I could think of to make sure that they weren’t going to fast was for her to still keep at their game a little. Not keep at it, just... do it once in a while. I’d still make her talk to him, but I’d still encourage their…banter. Because the gods know, once they fall, they’ll dive in fast and unstoppable.

“Hey Sans, I think I know the perfect insult to write to your Night,” I grinned at her, making it as genuine as possible.

She cocked a brow elegantly as she took a sip of her tea. “Hmm? I thought I wasn’t going to do that anymore.”

I shook my head. “Changed my mind. Sure, give him nicer words but give him insults too. Remember, you’re going to be setting boundaries. And it’s best you keep things slow a bit. Kind of like your uh, yellow light. If it gets to be too fast, you pull this on him. So you better make sure you’re not without your armament of insults at the ready to hurl at him. Keep him controlled.”

She only looked more confused, her brows furrowing, her eyes narrowing at me, but before she could speak, dad came in.

“Whose giving insults to whom?”

I snickered while Sansa cringed into her tea as dad sat beside her, whiskey on his hand.

“You see dad, Sansa’s…knight in shining armor, gives his lady love letters. Oh, don’t worry dad, no lewd ones or else I would’ve marched over there to knight him personally,” I smirked.

Dad raised his brows slightly at Sansa, with mild amusement on his eyes.

Sansa blushed in answer and failed to hide it with another sip of her tea. Dad then narrowed his eyes at me. “That’s nice honey. But I hope son, that you’re not teaching your sister to reply…rudely.”

I choked on the red bull I was drinking and couldn’t help but laugh against the choking while I looked at Sansa’s comical expression.

Dad looked between my laughing and Sansa’s guilty and embarrassed face and I knew he caught on. “Sansa,” he started.

“At first, I thought it was just another guy just hitting on me, dad! I swear!” Sansa explained.

He cocked a brow. “At… first?”

Ooh.

“He called her a bright angel, she called him a warthog-faced buffoon. And so on and on and on.” I added. And somewhere in the middle, they fell in love, I fought from gagging if I wasn’t happy for Sansa’s potential at great happiness.

Sansa looked at me like she wanted to hit me but dad just raised his brow in disbelief and then after some silence he spoke.

“Have you tried…you look like a blueberry.”

It took a few seconds and a lot of jaw dropping but as soon as our wits came back we were all suddenly laughing our asses off.

I wiped the tears in my eyes and clutched my stomach. “Since when – or rather why – no – how, how dad did you ever watch Anchorman? Seven hells! Blueberry? Really dad? All the insults in the world and you suggest blueberry?”

He simply shrugged and took another sip of his whiskey, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

“You eunuch jelly thou.”

We all jumped at the rough voice behind us and saw the Blackfish pulling a chair for himself before pulling from his own shot of whiskey. “That was what he wanted to say but was too polite to.”

Everyone started laughing then. “Now that’s more like it,” I grinned at great-uncle Bryn. “Something from one of the most genius ultraviolent film in history. Not Anchorman, for gods’ sake!”

Blackfish smiled smugly and shook his head. “I don’t know, I was going to say, ‘limp noodle’ too.”

Sansa cracked up at that and explained that it was a line from Mulan. “Oh,” I said before laughing myself. “I’m not even gonna ask anymore.”

“Plenty more where that came from,” he winked at Sansa. “You forget I practically raised your mother and your aunt Lysa. That meant countless hours of indulging them too with princess crap, though I’ve upgraded when you came into this life, princess.”

She smiled brightly at him and shook her head. “Thanks but I’m pretty sure I can come up with my own. And maybe… I wouldn’t need them anymore.” she blushed.

I snorted. “No, you have to hand them out from time to time, Sans. Keep him on his toes. Show him you’re still the boss. Besides, he likes it.”

She blushed deeper but said nothing.

“I’ll give you a list,” Blackfish clapped her back causing her to yelp. “None of these blueberry crap, of course.”

Dad sighed and then started looking seriously at Sansa again. “But this… boy of yours, he’s good to you?”

Sansa reddened some more as if it was even possible anymore, her skin blending the same shade as our hair. “We haven’t really…” she shook her head. “We’re just starting to get to know each other. We haven’t even gone out yet dad but he’s…patient, sweet, and respectful.”

I almost snorted at respectful, knowing he was all of those but he did just grabbed her and kissed her.

Dad nodded and the Blackfish tried to look bored but I knew he was listening intently.

“Well, I’ll be the judge of that when I meet him,” I declared causing Sansa to sigh deeply while dad and my great-uncle nodded at me.

“Then send him to me,” The Blackfish smirked. “Gods know what blueberry crap Ned here will use to scare the lad. Give him to me and I’ll make him a eunuch if I as much as smell the faintest hint of bad intentions.”

“Hmm… I haven’t sharpened Ice in a long time,” Dad said as deadpan as he could, ignoring Blackfish completely.

Sansa stood up then, collected her mug and eyed each of us. “My heroes,” we could hear the sarcasm dripping from her words. But the hint of a smile was tugging at the corners of her lips as she put her mug on the sink while she checked on the lemon cakes she was baking.

And suddenly I couldn’t help the guilt that crept in my bones and once I looked up at dad’s eyes and great-uncle’s frown, they felt it too.

We couldn’t save her from the three monsters that hurt her, only dealt punishments. We failed her then, we can’t fail her now. And we can’t fail Jon Snow too for all that he lost, and all that he stands to gain. Both of them could get hurt but we owe it to them to let them try and find happiness with each other - and if they could weather the storm together, there was so much that they could gain from this. Dad and Jon's dad could simply invoke the archaic wedding pact at them as was legally their right but with so much bad history, they would never do that and were close to banning that. So the two of them would have to reach out to each other on their own.

I looked at Sansa again and she was humming then all out singing happily as she took out the lemon cakes from the oven, preparing mom's old three-tiered cupcake stand to put them on.

I noticed dad looking at Sansa softly, likely noting that this was the first time we heard her singing happily after a long time.

I swallowed.

There was only one solution.

Jon Snow would simply have to love Sansa unconditionally.

But only if I, the appointed devil’s advocate, can’t find anything that would say he wouldn’t.

And I pray to all the gods in existence that I don't find anything.



 Present time... 

Sansa

Old Oaks Villas, Ashford

I waited until Robb was fast asleep before sneaking out and crossing towards Jon’s house, my letter clutched in my hand.

We arrived really late and giving him this letter was all I thought about that whole time since we left Riverrun.

And… it’s only been two days but I can’t believe how much I missed him – missed a guy I barely knew but after that kiss – that kiss felt so natural – so right despite my doubts and insecurities overshadowing it. With that kiss, it didn’t feel like kissing a stranger.

It felt like every little thing that was still left unsaid, spoken loud and clear and in volumes upon volumes.

It felt like a promise.

Like an old promise that was fulfilled and yet at the same time, a promise of more.

If only my defensive thoughts weren’t louder that night.

But Robb was right, I needed time. Time to put things in perspective. Time to let out my demons and free myself from them before I go after what I want.

And I do.

I do want him.

Robb talked about going slow and setting boundaries and I will. That’s why I was leaving this letter as invitation for him to talk to me over breakfast this morning because I just know I won’t be able to navigate through the day with so much hanging between us not when he was only a few feet away from me.

But most of all I have to set things right first and apologize for leaving him hanging.

I was going to do it face-to-face.

And I will.

But I didn’t realize that I was going to do it at the freezing and dark hours of three in the morning with my brother’s oversized coat over my sleepwear without a smidge of makeup on.

Because just as I was about to leave my letter on his doorstep, his door swung open and there he was, warm grey eyes wide, mouth open, he was looking as disheveled as I am yet incredibly handsome still right in front of me, his hand clutching a tell-tale letter of his own.

I wanted to both laugh and cry at how comical this all was but all laughter died in my throat once our eyes found each other and locked.

At this moment, I didn’t think about going slow or setting boundaries. I would. I promised Robb and myself I would.

But not right now.

Because as I searched his eyes I could see shock – no – disbelief that this was happening.  And I also saw that his eyes were brimming with apology, relief, guilt, and…desire. I knew because mine did too. But I didn’t need his apology, didn’t need his guilt nor his relief though they made me flutter with giddiness and touched my heart so.

I only want him to look at me again the way he did that night.

I only hope that he could see that I was looking at him right now exactly like he was then.

There was only one way to give him my apology.

There was only one way to make him believe that our first kiss mattered – our first kiss was above all things – insecurities and bad memories aside, wanted.

There was only one way to tell him everything I wanted to say and feel at this moment.

We’ll talk once the sun rises and what a talk we will have but right now we won’t.

I wanted to give him back the moment I took from him. Give him what he wanted to both take and give to me that night.

I touched his arm and he sucked in a breath.

I whispered his name and bated my breath for his reply.

“Sansa,” he breathed just as quickly, his eyes impossibly tender, and that was my undoing. As soon as my name escaped his lips, I got up on my toes and kissed him.

Kissed him how I should’ve kissed him that night.

Kissed him because unlike that night, now I was ready.

I felt it too.

I wanted to tell him.

I felt it too.

Fireworks. Earthquake. Electricity.

I felt them all then and I’m feeling them all now.

And I knew he felt it now too, it was all over the way he kissed me back with only a split-second moment’s notice that felt like hours but he made up with ardor right away.

His kiss wasn’t one that took or one that conquered.

It was there in the gentle way he cupped the back of my neck, the too tender brushing of his thumb on my cheek, the way he bent down to meet me and steadied me with a sure hand to the small of my back, firm enough to press closer, but spread open enough to let go immediately, it was in every touch of his full lips on mine, stroking ever gently, following whichever way I led, yet touching them firm enough to let me know he wanted it, it was in every caress of his tongue that felt like worship, always testing, testing, testing before taking the dive.

He lets me take but I wasn’t taking either.

I was giving too.

Giving as much as I could give so he wouldn’t doubt.

It was slow.

It was tender.

But his momentary gripping at my neck and on the fabric, that covered my back that left as fast as they came, carefully told me how much he was restraining himself from losing control and made me want to weep at how much he considered me.

I knew because I gripped his shirt with one hand, while the other hand steadying myself on his arm kept squeezing, testing, controlling myself as well before I lose myself and do something more that I wasn’t prepared for again and I couldn’t – wouldn’t leave him like that again.

And this seemed to be enough.

Enough for now.

We pulled away breathless anyway, our foreheads touching while our body trembled, our fingers kept on touching – anchors to the reality of this moment.

This was only a dream before, but now it wasn’t.

I braved myself once more because I was done with being afraid. I looked up into his eyes, gave him a small smile and my insides fluttered when I saw the corners of his dark eyes that shone with hints of indigo in them started to crinkle as he gave me a breathless smile of his own. It was only a slight smile, tiny corner lifts almost covered by his stubble that felt nice and rough on my face just seconds ago, but it was impossibly genuine.

“Hi,” I half-whispered, half-panted, my face overheating some more under his intense gaze.

He let out a chuckle, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear and breathing, “Hey,” himself, his own cheeks reddening.

We stood there grinning shyly despite what we just did but neither taking our eyes or hands off of each other.

I could tell he wanted to say something but I placed a finger on his lips and shook my head slowly, but I kept my smile, his eyes shone and his brows quirked in response.

Gingerly, I covered the hand that was still cupping my face with my own before pulling it away and pressing my letter against his palm and stepping away reluctantly from him, his other hand falling away from my back quickly but not before one panicked grip, and my heart impossibly fluttered helplessly with that.

He looked down at the letter in his hand and back at me and nodded his understanding. Slowly he reached out and softly took my own hand in his and placed his own letter, his large calloused hand closing over my own around the letter before he let go, his eyes boring into my own.

We stood there staring at each other for a few more moments before I tilted my head towards my house across from his, biting my lip and looking at him apologetically.

His eyes warmed and softened before he sighed, half-smiled and nodded at me to go.

I glanced at my house before looking back at him again and tentatively stepping closer – just a step and I saw him move forward slightly before stopping himself.

After a moment, he sighed, shook his head then held out an arm for me and I arched a brow at him, but his expression just told me to go with it, so I did. I took his arm and let him lead me to my door, blushing all the way as I felt his strong arm under my hand.

He walked me up my door and let me go, taking a step back and giving me some space.

I saw his hands twitch before disappearing inside his pockets as he looked at me so intently. And I knew like me, he didn’t want to end this moment just yet…or ever.

I bit my lip again knowing he was leaving the choice to me again. So I did.

I walked just one step closer, touched his face with a finger that made his breath hitch, then I closed my eyes and gave him a quick peck on his cheek and moved away quickly but not quick enough that he was able to hold my hand in place and looked into my eyes again, and down, and back up, my breathing coming fast and close as I waited with a nod for him to kiss me again and he did.

After a few breaths, I felt him lean down and kiss me on my forehead before letting me go.

I opened my eyes at him in surprise and I could tell he knew it wasn’t the kiss we both thought we would’ve wanted again, but it was the right one to end this moment – it was enough for now, now that there was possibility for more later on.

Finally he gave a quick smile before whispering, “Sleep well…Sansa.”

My whole body shivered at how pleasant my name rolled out from his tongue that I immediately beamed at him, pressing his letter closer to my chest and glancing at it quickly before returning to his eyes. “See you in the morning…Jon.”

I saw him swallow then before giving me another quick smile, a knowing pat for my letter inside his pants pocket, and a nod.

And finally I turned around while I still could and without looking back, I went inside and slid against my door, touching my fingers to my lips.

It was done.

I was his.

Everything else was circumstance and technicalities, but I was his.

If he wants me, I was his.

In the morning I would explain to him that if he wants this, he wants us, we were going to take our time because I still needed it despite our second spontaneous moment. I would ask him for patience but I would show him how much I want this. And I knew he would believe me, and I knew he was going to give this to me.

It was all there there, in this kiss.

I opened his letter and my heart fluttered madly once his words confirmed what I hoped for.

Our first kiss was the enchantment.

Our second kiss was a promise.

 

 

Chapter Text

2 Weeks Later...

 

Jon

 “Well, well, well, is that a new spring in your step? Or are you feeling all post-coital Tom Hansen? Shall we bring out Hall and Oates and call the troupe?” Satin announced excitedly the moment I stepped inside the classroom.

I was too happy to be annoyed first thing in the morning and he did hit the nail on the head…well, almost but I wasn’t going to tell him that. Instead, I shrugged. If anything, the ridiculous smile I can’t keep off my face was his answer. Hells, maybe I should bring out Hall and Oates and dance obnoxiously.

Satin, of course, wouldn’t drop it. Nor did I expect him to.  

He stood in front of me with his arms crossed and a brow arched high as he waited for an explanation, though from the smile that was threatening to break out, I could tell he knew that I knew that he knew.

So how else do I respond than just to just keep smiling like an idiot while in my head, I was already knocking it out of the park and being hoisted up while my arms were raised in victory. Damn you Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

“So you did?” His eyes almost bulged out.

I shook my head and made a face but I couldn’t get rid of my smile. I can’t help it. Sue me. “No. We didn’t.” Yet, anyway.

He grinned that shit-eating grin then and waved that off as if he expected it. “But you two are…?he prompted excitedly.

I gave a cheeky nod and reached inside my bag to bring out the orange muffin that magically appeared on my doorstep this morning - same way as other breakfast food started magically appearing every morning in greeting. Fuck, it smells amazing.

Fuck, yeah, it tastes even better. 

He threw his hands in the air. “Well, seven hells!” He practically shouted in glee earning looks from the rest of the class that he paid no attention whatsoever to before he  sat down next to me, angling his body, eager for more information. 

“Well, don’t just shut up there, grinning like a bloody fool and tell me everything! I mean, we all know that you two were being naughty ever since she came back, sneaking around when you think no one’s looking,” he wagged his finger at me. "And what the fuck is that you're inhaling?"

"Orange chocolate chip muffin." I chuckled, licked my lips, and shrugged again before taking another bite. Sure, I was a bit red but I didn’t want to divulge everything. I mean, I had just gotten Sansa to agree to actually go out with me. 

Before that, we only had… well, her balcony and… hidden letters. And these past two weeks of just talking and getting to know each other with only the stars as witnesses were glorious. Though I wanted to publicly declare that she’s mine, I also wanted to keep what we have private purely as a selfish disposition. I took a bigger chunk annoying Satin more. And I don't want anyone else tasting her amazing baked goods. Especially stuff she makes just for me. For all that she claimed she wasn't great at cooking, she didn't say anything about not knowing how to bake. Just one of the things I've discovered. 

Sensing that I was going to keep mum about this, Satin huffed and frowned. “Oh come on, Jon Snow! Give me something! I mean, we all gave you space because we knew you guys had stuff to sort out but we’re dying here! Stop eating that muffin like it's a cunt!"

I stopped eating then, wiping my mouth - my face likely red as my lady's glorious hair. Glaring at him, I shook my head. “Nope,” popping the ‘p’. Not the least bit sorry while I put away the half-eaten muffin I would never see with innocent eyes ever again. 

His brows disappeared into his hair that was almost like my own only less unruly. “Why the ever-living fire of R’hollor, not?”

I smirked at him and nodded my head at the door where Professor Crane had just walked in.

He glared at me then, his hands on his hips. “This isn’t over, Snow.”

I placed my index finger over my mouth. “Shhh… class is about to start.”

He rolled his eyes and grumbled as he sat down while Professor Crane called the attention of the class.

I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing and cracked open my notebook. I was about to attempt to start taking down notes, despite knowing how futile my concentration on 20th Century Essosi Theatre would be once I think of Sansa again, when the forgone conclusion was confirmed right away. There inside my notebook was a folded note - a sight of which never failed to ignite the anticipation.

My face heated up quickly as did the rest of my body when I read that it was one of those letters. And just like that I was tugging on my collar, the room a hundred degrees warmer and stuffier than it should be.

I willed myself to calm down and tried to remember the morning after our second kiss. Which, then made me think of that kiss. Which, was a bad idea when you want to calm down. Because, damn it, our second kiss has got to be the one of the most perfect, most romantic, and okay, hottest kiss I’ve ever gotten from Sansa.

Well, it’s the hottest, period in the history of kisses. All because it was the only one Sansa initiated so far.

I shook my head and tried to remember the breakfast we had. It started out awkward what with everything starting out backwards and that being the first time we would even hold a conversation after days of fencing around behind literature and movie lines. But as we started to become more comfortable with each other, I never wanted that moment to end. 

I still can't believe that I went from admiring her through stolen glances and pieces of paper, to holding her hand and hearing her voice.  

By the end of the breakfast, I just confirmed what I've known the moment she called me a warthog-faced buffoon.

I was irrevocably fucked for life. 

But the best and not to mention, wickedly delightful part of this all was the knowledge of how no one prepared me for what all those days of old school courtship would mean in the end.

I looked down, reread her note, and licked my lips.

There was another reason we haven’t gone public yet.

My eyes shifted at the sides before looking down at Sansa’s letter once more and felt my lips curl up.

It was because we started a new game. 

Something much more...fun. 

I looked up and thought for a moment before tearing up a sheet from my notebook to write out my reply.

 


The morning after their second kiss…

Jon

 

My heart was well on racing and I wiped my hands on my pants, making sure they were dry before I started my first task of winning my lady love.

Climbing up her balcony.

I found another note taped to my door with a modified Juliet quote.

 

The orchard walls are high and hard to climb, and the place death, if my brother finds thee here. Balcony. 6 AM.

 

I swallowed at the thought that of course she won’t be coming back to Ashford alone. Of course, her brother – the famous Robb Stark would make sure to personally kill the ponce that made his sister fly hundreds of miles in tears, straight to his protection. While I had my military training at The Wall, Robb Stark, the heir to Winterfell, had his at the Eyrie with the renowned Winged Knights. I served only four years, while Robb Stark was already a lieutenant and had the ticket to becoming captain once he becomes a full-fledged lawyer. A reserve officer or not, it was also a well-kept secret of the North that the Young Wolf of Winterfell truly earned the fangs of his title at underground fight clubs.

So yeah, Lieutenant Robb Stark could kill me.

I hesitated at the bottom of Sansa’s balcony, contemplating my options. From her note, she clearly wanted me to avoid her brother. While at this point, I’d jump a cliff for her if she asks, a part of me didn’t want to make a bad first impression for her brother too.

I groaned and smacked my forehead at the realization that at this point, that was already moot and ridiculous.

"Hi. I’m Jon Snow. The guy that made your little sister jump on a guy’s motorcycle and take the next flight in the middle of the morning. I was about to climb your sister’s balcony but thought to meet you at her door first to show I respect her and you. How do you do?”

I sighed, shook my head at the internal cringe moment and decided to just follow Sansa’s lead. At least this way, I get to talk to her for the first and maybe last time before I get fed to the wolves as they say they kept as pets. I gulped.

I looked up again, pushing away everything but my given task. Breathe Snow. You can do it. Placing a hand and a foot up the wall trellis that carried jasmines, I started. The scent momentarily broke my concentration when I remembered smelling this on her last night, making me completely unprepared to react to suddenly seeing her face staring back at me from the top.

My foot slipped but I caught myself from falling by gripping the iron bars firmly. I cursed and took a deep breath to calm that jolt of adrenaline before losing my heart to its race once more when I looked back up at her.

Seven hells, she was beautiful.

Her blue eyes were a mix of concern and a tiny hint of amusement, while strands of her long glorious red hair tumbled down from over her shoulders to the ledge she was peeking from. I attempted a smile that I was sure came out more of a grimace.

The answering smile though, that slowly grew on that face knocked the breath out of my lungs.

I groaned involuntarily.

Gods. Pull yourself together Snow!

She tucked some of that beautiful hair behind her ear and placed a finger to her mouth telling me to be quiet, while a pretty red spread over her cheeks. She then tapped her watch, and nodded her head over her shoulder before stepping back a little.

“Come on up and hurry,” she whispered and I all but flew at her request.

When I was near enough, a pale small hand appeared near my face and there she was, leaning over the handrail with one hand, while she extended her other towards me. My sight slipped down a little but I quickly ordered them up once I realized what I was doing but seven hells I wasn't a maester! 

I took her offered hand and once I was almost sure she didn't notice my depravity, I focused instead on how easily my hand dwarfed the softest and daintiest hand I’ve ever touched that it felt treacherous to tighten my hold fearing it would break, but at the same time, I wanted to keep it there – mine to hold.

I was breathing hard when I was finally at the threshold but not once did I think it was from the exertion.

Not with her standing there looking like a dream all for me.

The sun wasn’t up yet but it might as well have with her standing radiant in a soft yellow dress and a white long sweater sporting another smile -  it was the brightest yet I’ve seen with a touch of shyness. How was it that this smile was different from the others I’ve seen so far? Just how many smiles does she have? And what would it take to see them all?

I cleared my thoughts once I realized we just stood there, barely six inches apart, just looking at each other and fidgeting.

She was clutching at her elbow, her head bowed a bit while she looked at me from under her lashes adorably. And she was probably waiting for me to say something.

And what I said was this.

“Wow.”

Fuck.

She turned a lovely shade of red and bit her bottom lip again before composing herself and looking back up at me, a corner of her lips quirking up.

I coughed and rubbed the back of my neck. “I mean, good morning…Sansa,” testing her name on my lips.

She reddened more if it was possible. Her eyes brightened as she finally dropped her elbow, losing some of the tension on her shoulders. “Good morning…Jon.”

I almost choked a breath at how pleasant my name rolled out her tongue. I didn’t know what I should do next. Should I get closer? What do I say? And then I cursed my life once more when I remembered something.

I reached inside my coat pocket and produced a large snow drop. It suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time I’m personally handing her one of these.

Seeing her redden some more and her eyes somehow…shimmering Gods I’m such a sap – I finally found my balls and stepped closer. It was only then that I realized we were still holding hands.

This was all becoming too much again but I can only move forward while I still had my courage. Feeling suddenly inspired, instead of handing her the flower, I moved closer with the hand still holding the flower, hovering near her ear. “May I?”

She blinked several times before giving a soft nod, trying to avert her gaze, tilting her head at me as she waited.

I swallowed before reaching out, tucking a few strands of her hair first – they were as soft as ever –  fighting the urge to grin when I saw her shiver from the graze of my fingers on her ear and neck as I placed the snow drop behind her ear.

It was definitely something to see that I had some effect on her too.

Once I was done, I didn’t immediately step back because the way she looked at me stopped me for a moment, unconsciously I inched closer instead, and she seemed to do the same.

It was the soft ding of her phone that made us jump apart. She quickly checked it before slipping it back her sweater pocket while I frowned at the sudden emptiness in my hand and the longer space between us.

It was probably for the best because while I was ready for kiss number three, I knew it was too soon and that this was an important talk.

She laughed softly and the lilt of it sounded so pleasant and sweet while she gestured for me to take a seat and there I noticed that she already had a spread on her white round patio table. There were two stacks of pancakes, a tray of assorted fruits, and a plate of bacon. I looked at her in awe and she blushed again.

“I didn’t know what you like so I went with my brother’s favorite. Though he makes pancakes better than me – do you want something else? I have eggs too but I don’t know how you like them -

“Hey – hey! Stop – I mean, this is fine – no – perfect!”

She blinked at me before giving a small smile and a nod. “Sit down, please. And I’ll just go and fetch our coffee.”

“You don’t have to –

She giggled and unconsciously placed a hand on my arm where my eyes shot at once before looking back up at her as she continued talking. “I invited you. Just make yourself comfortable. I’ll be back in sec.” She let go and disappeared behind the glass double doors that lead to her bedroom, my arm still tingling from where she touched me.

I took that moment to sit down on one of the Venetian chairs and took in her balcony, ignoring the urge to peek inside her bedroom and trying to calm myself. But damn it, how can I if she keeps touching me! No matter how innocent... 

I forced myself to look at the view. The sky was already showing signs of a yellow gradient peeking underneath the blue and the morning chill was just the right amount of comfortable cold that certainly helped settle me down some. 

“Sorry to keep you waiting."

I almost jumped my skin when I felt her really close behind me while she leaned down to set a mug next to my plate, while her other hand was holding on to the back of my chair - her knuckles grazing me. I also felt the tips of her hair brushing against my arm while the combination of jasmine, lemons, and something else filled my nose.

I cleared my throat and mumbled something close to “You didn’t." while I tried to distract myself from her by looking at the small coffee cart she wheeled in.

It was her giggling that brought my focus again, forcing me to look up at her. She was fighting a smirk and she had a brow raised, making me realize that she asked a question.

I blinked and coughed again. “Sorry, what was it again?”

Her smile softened and she didn’t laugh this time or took pity. She simply smiled and repeated her question. “I’d say black, but I’ll ask anyway…how do you like your coffee?”

Coffee. It was only about coffee. “Black," I blurted out. 

Her eyes lit up as she held a pleased look, a look that I wanted to explore so I gathered courage again. Come on, Jon.

I smiled at her and added, “How’d you know?”

I caught her blush before she turned to get the pot of coffee. “It’s what…I saw you drinking at Highgarden,” she shrugged.

Seven hells. Was she…? I mean, people don’t just notice let alone remember what you’re drinking at random!

I scrambled my brain, trying to remember what she had but my memory was only filled with how I kept thinking of how to get her attention then and… I was also distracted by her face – her hair, her legs for days…

Shit.

I almost jumped again when I felt her shoulder graze mine when she leaned down once more to pour coffee for me.

I swear I didn’t breathe until she was done. Too distracted by this entirely new view of her – my eyes tracing her profile, her long lashes, her straight elegant nose, that beautiful line of her swan like neck that was exposed while on the other side, a curtain of red, shiny hair…and seven hells, she must feel my eyes on her with the way a blush crept from her cheeks, then down her neck and lower. 

I looked away at once and discreetly breathed out a sigh of relief when I heard her finish and take the seat across from me, bringing the cart with her.

The table wasn’t that big that I could feel whispers of her legs and feet under it so very near my own.

Come on, speak!

I looked up at her and saw that she was nervous again – with that tell-tale lip biting she was doing and that little hunch of her shoulders that I noticed earlier. That won’t do. Do something for fuck's sake Jon Snow! You can't both be scared. Come on!

“I’m sorry, I’m can’t remember what you ordered,” I was what came out.

She stopped mid pour of cream on her coffee, blinking, before breaking into an amused smile. “It’s fine. I tend to switch it up some,” she shrugged. “Though I do prefer mine with lots of cream,” she lifted the pint she was holding.

I knew she was saying it completely innocently and literally as how it’s meant but the green boy in me took her words completely askew.

“I’-I’ll make sure to remember that,” I tried, clearing my throat from the sudden dryness.

She looked at me confused at my reaction and then for some reason she blushed, blinked, and then bit her lip again before giving a small smirk. And I just knew she knew. I was about to say that this was the part where she runs away from a craven but she surprised me by smoothening her expression into a calm one.

“I also like my eggs over hard,” she said as if reciting the weather, while she started spreading butter over her pancakes but the tiny lift in the corner of her mouth told me she knew what she was saying. “Just to stay on topic of course.” She peeked at me, waiting for my answer.

Seven. Bloody. Hells. This was one of those women traps! Here is my first judgment!

I could already feel Satin smacking the back of my head and yelling at me to get my balls back up and get the blood flowing up to my head in the North rather than the one in the South and use that one to think with this time.  

I decided then to copy her as I started on my own stack. “Duly noted. I prefer mine sunny and runny enough to dip my toast on,” I said as casually as I could.

I heard her make a choking sound and my eyes shot at her and saw that I just made Sansa Stark choke on her coffee.

Immediately I stood up to help her but she held a hand up at me to say she was fine. I didn't sit down, ready to assist her but stayed in my place, feeling like an asshole for the tiny bit of pride I felt.

When she finally calmed down after a deep breath, I was about to ask her if she was truly okay, when suddenly we were both laughing.

And just like that, we’ve finally overcome the nervousness.

“We’re doing this all wrong,” she shook her head but kept her smile.

I nodded. “We’re doing it backwards,” I leant back against my seat and ran a hand through my hair.

“Yes. But I can’t say I mind that much,” she said with a tiny shrug that made me smile.

“I don’t either, but, we have to do this.”

She sighed dramatically before smiling back at me, her eyes narrowing playfully as she pointed her fork at me. “I know, now go eat your pancakes.”

I chuckled again. “Five minutes in and you’re already bossing me around.” Again. Something I don't mind at all. 

That earned a louder laugh from her that I liked better than her giggles. “Well, you better get used to it. My brother doesn’t call me a princess for nothing.” But you don't, don't you Jon Snow. You want to call her Queen. Your Queen. I pushed those thoughts away when I remembered she mentioned brother. 

“Speaking of your brother – oh Gods! This is good!” I said before shoveling more of the pancakes she made, in my mouth, forgetting what I was about to say. I’d have been more well-mannered but mother always said that it was better to show how much you enjoy food prepared for you.

She didn’t say anything so I looked up at her and saw her blushing again while she sipped her coffee.

I grabbed a paper napkin and wiped my mouth while reminding myself that, appreciate or not, the fact that there were napkins prepared, I was still in the presence of a lady. I smiled sheepishly at her. “Sorry, it’s just – it’s been a while since I’ve had a proper homemade breakfast.” I said, trying not to let that sudden latch in my chest once I realized what I said, dampen the mood.

She noticed from the way her brows puckered a bit but thankfully, she didn’t pry. Instead, she smiled brightly and waved her hand and shrugged. “I don’t mind at all.” She looked down to take another sip before adding in a softer voice. “It’s actually nice to see you like it.”

That made me pause. And like an idiot, I said the wrong thing again. “Who wouldn’t?”

She just smiled up at me and shrugged but I saw some tinge of sadness reach her eyes.

I fought back a growl or a snort, remembering what Talla said about Sansa having shit boyfriends.

I didn’t want to believe at first because it always failed to make sense how anyone could ever treat someone like Sansa badly. I mean, it was easier to assume that she was the one who did the dumping. But then, mother was a beautiful woman - the best and the strongest woman and yet all it took was one fucking prick to turn her world upside down.

I pushed away those thoughts and refocused on the gorgeous woman in front of me. The fact is, beautiful Sansa Stark had someone or rather a string of unworthy shits treat her less than she deserved. Looking at her more closely, I was struck with how blind I was not to have seen it before. She wasn’t just shy or simply nervous… she was insecure. Seven hells,

It was there with the way she bit her lip, the way she would hesitate, the way her eyes searched and her brow puckered – looking for any sign that I would run. And now her feints and parries with the geeky insults made sense.

It seems I have so much to make up for.

I smiled widely at her and made sure to hold her pretty blue eyes while I shoved another forkful of food in my mouth and hummed appreciatively. “So good.”

She blinked before cracking a half smile, tilting her head at me making her impossibly cute. “It’s really not a big deal. And that’s a ready-mix, I have to admit.”

I shrugged and kept eating. It was still good and she still took time to prepare this. Feels like a big deal to me.

She chuckled then. “I shudder to think about what you’ve been eating for breakfast if something this simple is good for you” she said while sliding a glass of milk towards me.

I took it and drank it all in one go. “Easy. Nothing.” I almost wiped my mouth with the back of my hand but remembered myself, taking the napkin again.

Her mouth was slack when I looked up at her. “Um, come again?"

I shrugged again, confused at her reaction. “I don’t really eat breakfast. Pretty sure just a banana or an apple to go doesn’t count,” I tried to chuckle.

Her nose wrinkled but her eyes were strangely amused. “No. It doesn’t.” And then her eyes widened and I saw her look sideways before narrowing back at me. “You don’t know how to cook, do you?”

“I can too,” I pouted and then cringed at how whiny and defensive it was.

“No, you can’t,” she pressed, the corners of her mouth lifting slightly.

“Fine, I can’t cook anything that doesn’t end up black and burnt,” I admitted and strangely enough, I felt comfortable doing so despite the heat I felt on my face.

She didn’t laugh at me the way I would usually expect, instead she smiled at me softly, ducking her face and tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear again while another blush graced her cheeks. “I just recently learned how to cook. Just a few months before I moved here. I’m not that good, but I suppose I’m not terrible at it.”

I don’t understand why that would embarrass her. At least she made an effort to learn whereas I just gave up on that a long time ago, resigning myself to diner food and canned goods. That and how Ned, every month would make sure to force me to accept a cooler filled with his mum’s cooking no matter how much I told the Daynes that it wasn’t necessary. But then again, Mrs. Dayne knew my culinary expertise or lack of it.

“You don’t see me complaining,” I tried.

She looked up at me and smiled again. “Breakfast is easy with Mr. Pillsburry and a French Press. You won’t be saying that when I attempt anything more.”

I chuckled. “Well, we’ll just have to see, won’t we?” I bit my lip hoping it was okay. I was shit at flirting. Was this even that? One thing was for sure, I swear I’ve never put in so much effort at this than now.

She seemed to mirror me, biting her own lip, dragging over it slowly making me almost deaf to what she said. “Hmm… Maybe on the third or fourth date, when I change my mind about you and poison you by dessert time in case you survive my entrée.”

I almost laughed out loud but I wanted to tease her back. “So there is a third and fourth date? And when is our second?” I raised my brows at her. 

She covered her face with her hands, blushing deeper and laughed. “I’m sorry, I can’t anymore.”

I laughed with her and shook my head.

She tried to gather herself and look serious but kept failing adorably. “I’m serious. We’ve got to stop this and talk.”

I grinned at her after taking a large gulp of air. “Alright, alright.”

I leant back and drank some water.

“I’m sorry.”

I almost dropped the glass and looked at her and that has got to be the cutest most apologetic look I’ve ever seen. She’d have murdered someone and I’d still forgive her and maybe take her out for ice cream if she gave me this look. “For what?”

She pouted. “I’m serious. I’m sorry for running away.”

I wanted to reach out and take her hand which was only a few inches away from mine. “Hey, it’s okay. You weren’t ready.”

She didn’t deny it but she still looked guilty for it.

“If anything, I’m the one whose sorry. I just grabbed you and kissed you. I don’t have the right to do that. I hope you learn to believe me that I would never force you to do anything you don’t want to do. That night – I was impulsive. And I’m never impulsive. I’m really sorry. There’s no excuse. I really, really, wanted to kiss you. I’m sorry I scared you. It won’t happen again, I promise,” I started saying quickly, holding her gaze the whole time.

I was about to say more when she grabbed my hand and kept shaking her head. “I don’t know if you noticed but I kissed you back. I wanted that kiss too. I just – it’s true that I got scared, but it’s not from you, I promise. It’s just… I kept remembering…” she shook her head. “I – it’s not you, I swear, not when you’ve been nothing but patient. And that kiss was amazing… I guess… I’m just… not used to…” she trailed off and I could see tears gathering in the corner of her eyes. "And you called my name before you did- I knew what you were going to do - I wanted it...until I didn't. But not because - "she struggled.

Immediately I tightened my grip on her hand and placed my other around it, encasing her hand in both of mine. Ignoring the joy that she said our kiss was amazing for a moment while a bit of rage started creeping up at the thought that there was more to what she went through with her exes than just being unappreciative dicks. I just pray that it wasn’t too – I tried to bite back the bile – because if it was truly bad, I don’t think I’d mind going to jail for murder.

“Sansa,” I tried and it was a heady thing to be able to say her name. She looked at me then and I heard her breath hitch, making me feel things at the pit of my stomach.

“Sansa,” I repeated while rubbing the back of her hand with my thumbs. “I just want you to know that with me you can always say no. No matter what. I want you to feel safe with me. I mean it.”

She nodded softly but I knew there was still uncertainty in her eyes. She must’ve heard this all before and got betrayed anyway. I knew now that it was going to take more than words to make her believe in me.

“I really want to get to know you. I’m not asking for much, just a chance to try,” I added. “But if you want me to stop, I’ll do it. Though I really hope you give me a chance.”

She wiped her eyes and smiled at me sweetly. “I invited you for breakfast, didn’t I?”

I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot then. Yes. “You did.”

"And...and last night... Last night kissed you." She reached over and placed her other hand on top of ours. “I want to try too, Jon. Don’t get me wrong, I want to know you too and I even want to reach over and give you another kiss right now…but I need us to slow down more. I need a little bit more time,” she said softly while leaning closer. "This is all...this is all somewhat new to me... but Jon, I want to keep trying," she said, her voice just slightly above a whisper while her slender fingers traced patterns on the back of my hand.

Fuck. She almost lost me at kiss but that didn’t matter. What matters most is that she was saying yes not to try but to keep trying. I leant closer too. “That’s all I ask.”

She beamed.

And suddenly we both noticed that we could feel each other’s breaths on our face with how close we actually were at that moment.

“Princess?”

We jumped apart quickly.

Sansa stood up at once and motioned for me to wait while she quickly disappeared inside.

I dropped my face in my hands and grumbled. Damn it. I almost forgot that her perfect older brother was here in the house, awake and ready to kill me maybe.

Just when we were having a moment too.

I leant back and sat straight, trying to keep from fidgeting as I waited.

I could hear muffled voices that meant they were probably talking downstairs. Sansa’s voice sounded like pleading while her brother’s was gruff and curt.

Sansa must’ve won though because she came back out alone.

She sat back down across from me and looked sheepishly. “Sorry about that. I almost forgot Robb was here.”

“Maybe I should’ve introduced myself first…”

She looked at me guiltily. “I know but…how? We haven’t been… introduced properly as it is.”

I chuckled. She’s right. “Damn, we really should start doing things properly.”

She burst out laughing then.

 



 ~Interlude~

Voices Behind a Door

 

Behind the door of one of the dressing rooms, one can make out voices. Two of them. One, a well known female voice, the other, a rarely heard around here but also impressionable, male voice.

 

When do we tell them?” said the girl in her lyrical accent. “I’m so anxious the longer we let this go on and then there’s the wedding…”

“Aye, but I can’t yet,” came the other accented voice.

“Are you sure you can even tell him?” pressed the other.

 

A pause.

 

“I can. I must – I will. I promise.”

“See that you do, Wolf.”

 

 A grunt.

 

“Aye, I said I will. And I always keep my word. But tell me, how are they?”

 

“To those who aren’t inner circle, no one suspects a thing. Even Loras is keeping his big mouth shut as he fucking promised her. Gods, I still have half the mind to shave his curls off –

“Oi, Red Sun. Focus, please,” Wolf prompted. “Not that I don’t think the same but…

“Fine, fine. As I’ve said, no one knows but I’m sure their meddling friends are as aware as I am that though they’re keeping up their image of being strangers at uni, they’re doing something. And I mean something more than their nightly talks on her balcony,” Red Sun huffed.

“Wait, what do you mean nightly talks?”

 

A snort.

 

“Calm your tits, Wolfy. Don’t go all alpha on your pack. He never stays. They just talk. Honestly, it’s pretty dull considering you can cut the sexual tension with a  -

“Okay, stopping you there. Something doesn’t add up. Why haven’t they gone public yet? I mean, I gave my blessing and all that. Fuck, maybe they are doing something. If that prick defiles my baby –

“Shhhh!!! Cut it out, remember I am in my dressing room!”

“Then for the love of –“

 

A loud labored breath was heard.

 

“Red Sun, what if someone barges in?” Wolf said in a strained but calmer voice.

 

A sigh.

 

“I simply shut my laptop and tell them I’m having webcam sex.”

“Ugh. You’re sick.”

She cackled. “But it would’ve worked, Wolfy. Don’t deny it. I got the idea from my lovely aunt. She does have the most wicked stories.”

“Not another word on that or I’m ending this call. Seven hells, Sun.”

“The door’s locked if it helps, Wolf.”

 

A series of unintelligible irritated mumbling.

 

“Lighten up, Wolfy. My cousin and your baby sister are the only ones who don’t need to know about our…alliance.” She made a disgusted sound. “And if anything, maybe they’re not doing anything we would do. Oh don’t look at me like that. Not when I’ve heard so much about you and – okay, okay! ANYway, as I was saying. Maybe they’re just really taking it slow.”

“Fine. That seems more likely, I did make her promise to take baby steps.” He grumbled. “Damn it, I’m going to have to put up with this for a year, won’t I? This… alliance?”

She laughed loudly. “Yes if we intend to survive being dragon brides, roomie.”

“I am not a dragon bride!”

“Keep telling yourself that. We all know she’s got you wrapped around her –

“FOCUS! Okay. I don’t doubt that they’re seeing each other. I saw first hand how they seem to orbit around each other. Seven hells, the way they look at each other –  Just update me if there’s any change in their relationship and I’ll make sure to tell him once he somehow agrees to come to the wedding with her.”

“While I think he’ll suck it up and suffer seeing his father for her, I’m still afraid of the moment he finds out about his other family,” she said, her voice small and shaky. “How is it that he doesn’t know? Didn’t they go to – you know?”

 

A deep breath. 

 

"They did. But he never saw them. He refused. He only spoke with his father. He didn’t even speak with Dan-he didn’t interact with anyone but his father. I thought my fiancee met him but she said I misunderstood. They all had a glimpse of him. From afar.”

“I see. Gods. I hope he loves her enough.”

“I’m more afraid of her loving him too much.”

 

Silence.

 

“Well, if everything’s going to go well, she’ll be the third dragon bride.”

“No. He is his mother’s son. He is a wolf.”

   

“What are you still doing here?”

 

I jumped at the voice behind me, hoisting up a garment bag in answer.

“Hurry up, I need you back on stage. Why do you have that? I don’t remember assigning that to you.”

I shrugged and began knocking on the door that I’ve been standing in front of for fifteen minutes.

With a roll of her eyes, the stage manager left muttering curses as she barked orders left and right.

“Just a second,” came the female voice inside followed by unintelligible mumbling and the sound of something snapping shut.

Instead of waiting for the door to open, I hooked the garment bag on the knob and walked away.

 

 


 

Present time…

 

Sansa

I hid away in the corner at the library that I found almost immediately when I started here, fifth floor at the Geography and map reading section, just one of the least frequented by people in the age of Waze and Google map.  

The tables were long and the lamps here were the best knowing that they were made so for map reading. Really, it was the perfect place to do some uninterrupted reading and composing. And the best part was no one would even think to look for me here when I wanted to hide.

And right now, I wanted nothing but to hide.

I hastily took out a map at random and spread them over the inclined reading table, securing it with the clips to distract myself before I started overanalyzing again.

It was a map of the Summer Isles.

Looking at it made me think of sailing.

Sailing made me think of my recent boat ride with Robb.

And thinking about that reminded me why I sailed with Robb in the first place.

I bit my lip and skimmed my fingers across the map instead, trying to remember each of the main islands’ names when I saw a drawing of a temple fashioned with a giant effigy of a woman with – I counted – sixteen teats.

Immediately I blushed. This was the Temple of Love.

And of course, my mind made me cringe some more when I remembered the letter I slipped in Jon’s notebook last night before he left, knowing that he’ll likely see it this morning if he hasn’t already.

I don’t know what possessed me to do it. Wait. I do know.

I went through my denial and wanted to blame him because of his maddeningly pouty lips I wanted to ravage and in turn, wanted him to ravage me with.

But I started this new game like last time.

Wait.

I frowned.

And scoffed.

No, I didn’t. I saw my scowl reflected on the magnifier.

He did.

When he sent me the note about… kissing I wanted to tease him back and sent him…

And then things started to get out of hand…

I mean, we haven’t yet. Not more than a kiss anyway. And not even that again. Not since the night I came back.

I shook my head, and felt around my pocket to take out my pen when I felt something.

I hitched a breath knowing that – this wasn’t there before. My heart raced knowing what this was and who it was from already and I couldn’t stop the smile spreading on my face when I pulled out an origami lily made from a page from the same notebook I slipped my letter in. How though? I shook my head. It was probably his friend Jaqen.

I studied the pretty lily that I didn’t want to ruin, but written on the petals were instructions to “UNRAVEL ME.”

My fingers trembled as I carefully unfolded it, smoothening it once I was done. I leant against a shelf when I should’ve sat down because I nearly fainted from what I read.

Oh Gods. I brought a hand to my mouth as my knees nearly gave.

This was certainly bold and I knew he was holding back for my sake but I never expected to open Pandora’s Box and unleash… this. I turned around and steadied myself against the shelf and re-read the letter.

How am I going to survive this?

Simple. The voice in my head said.

You don’t.

Because unlike with the other guys, with Jon I never felt the need to…submit.

He only ever made me feel safe and even if it was already unfair for him, he always lets me decide the pace.

But being with him was an all different kind of surrender.

One you knew from the beginning that even though you yield, he’d make you feel you’ve won something greater.

He made sure to promise me this from the beginning – from that breakfast. That I would be safe with him. That I would feel more than just safety from him.

It was clear now.

I don’t need to survive Jon Snow.

I needed to reach every ends with him.

 


  Two weeks earlier…

 

Sansa

 

I felt warm.

And hearing Jon’s laugh was very comforting. I could tell he was nervous about Robb and it was very endearing that despite feeling maybe terrified of Robb, he was still willing to meet with him.

Robb of course, was furious with me. Likely cross downstairs while he ate the breakfast I prepared for him. But I told him that I had to talk to Jon first. Like really talk to him first before I let Robb harass him – something I could only stall and not prevent. Robb will talk to Jon whether I like it or not. I should at least prepare Jon a bit. And it’s not like Sandor wasn’t anywhere near. Despite asking Jon to sneak up my balcony, we were pretty much literally out in the open.

“I’m sorry about that,” I bit my lip.

He sighed and waved a hand in dismissal though I knew he was still nervous and it made me feel weirdly good to know that it wasn’t because of me because throughout this breakfast, he was the one who tried to make things easier. He knew I was nervous and he pushed his own anxieties and tried at the risk of sounding foolish. “It’s okay, he’s just doing his job.”

I nodded at him. “He won’t bother us right now, I made him promise.”

He half-smiled and started eating again. “Well thank him for at least giving me time to eat my last supper before he ends me.”

I couldn’t help but crack a laugh at that but I caught myself again. He grinned. He’s funny. “I won’t let that happen.”

“You should if I deserve it,” he shrugged but something in his eyes told me that he meant it and that made me happier for some reason. My exes always complained about Robb hovering. And sadly, I let them. I learned how to hide and evade Robb with my relationships. A note that I would never do again.

“Until when is he staying here?”

I blinked and tried smiling at him but he was looking at me with that same intense one again and I knew he caught me once more. I’m grateful he didn’t pry.

“He’ll be leaving tonight.”

He nodded, took a deep breath and lifted a corner of his mouth. “Listen, I really don’t mind talking to your brother. I actually want to make things clear with him. If he wants to kill me, I’m sure it’s because I deserve it.”

I frowned. “Jon…” I bit my lip, not knowing if it was okay to call him familiarly. He didn’t seem to mind before. I watched as his smile grew the tiniest bit before he nodded at me to continue. He likes it. My heart fluttered.

“Jon,” I said much more confidently. “Please stop thinking that you did something wrong. Robb knows why I ran. And it’s not because of you. It’s because…” I sighed finding the next words difficult. I trust you. It's myself I don't. 

He leaned forward then and I swear he almost took my hands but thought against it. “Sansa,” he said so softly and the sound of it made me flush from head to toe. “You don’t owe me an explanation. What matters is that we’re here now. And we want to start something. We’ll take our time. You dictate the pace, it’s fine. I’m not going anywhere.”

I pouted and looked at him in awe. “Why are you so nice?” I found myself asking out loud. And I'm not going anywhere too. I won't run away again. If anything, the only place I wanted to be was simply...closer. 

He leant back then and stiffened. He looked at me incredulously and then a hint of – was that anger? – flashed in his eyes that I visibly flinched.

“No, no!” His expression melting quickly into that of alarm as he bared his hands at me. “It’s just –“ He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “I don’t know what shit you went through with the losers you dated but being surprised with kindness isn’t something you should be surprised about. I still fail to see how anyone can treat you badly.”

Oh. I looked down as my heart sank. Does he truly not know? Was he just sparing me? I glanced up briefly to search his eyes and though I saw no trace of pity Iooked down and said anyway, “You hardly know me,” I whispered.

Silence.

“I know you like your coffee with lots of cream and you like eggs over hard, you play the cello beautifully no matter if it’s classical music or a pop cover and that you prefer to practice at night, you appreciate classic literature, and you know a gamut of nerdy insults.”

My eyes shot up and he was smiling at me tenderly. “Oh and you hate vanilla cupcakes and you’re allergic to peanuts,” he added while holding up a finger.

I couldn’t help but smile at that while my heart grew and grew. 

He grinned then and leant forward  once more, picked up the snow drop that I didn’t know fell from my hair and then gingerly put it back in place, his knuckle brushed briefly against my cheek after. “See? I’m a fast learner. And I want to learn more about you and I really want to take you out on a date,” he said before retreating. “Scratch that. I want to take you out on many dates.”

I blushed for the hundredth time this morning and looked down. “I’d like that too.”

“Yeah?”

I looked up at him and his expression made me grin. “Yes.”

“I’d say tonight but I want to talk to your brother first before he leaves.”

My heart felt like bursting. “You don’t have to.” Though I'd never admit it but I kind of wanted to get Robb’s approval.

“I know I don’t,” he searched my eyes. “But I want to.”

I felt like crying but not from sadness. I wanted to tell him how much that means to me.

“I’ll tell him.”

He nodded.

I looked at him for a moment before deciding.

"Go have your talk with him...But I want you to sneak back up here after," I tilted my head.

That surprised him but his gray eyes lit up - showing flecks of violet that drew me closer. "Yeah?"

I nodded. "Just to...just to talk," I sputtered. 

The smile that grew, forming one one side before the other side caught up was so tender and filled with everything but the disappointment my insecurity stupidly expected.

He didn't lean forward or move from his place. Instead his eyes bore through mine.

"As you wish."

 

 


 Present time…

 

J on

 

She was still here in the academy somewhere. Her car was still were she parked it, but she wasn’t in the music hall, or the study hall, the theatre, or even at the gardens. So that only left the library.

“Hey Jon.”

I whipped my head back and saw Sam’s little sister. “Hello Talls.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Don’t call me that.”

I chuckled. “Sorry.”

She accepted the apology flippantly while she narrowed her eyes at me then grinned her evil grin. “You’re looking for Sansa, aren’t you?”

“I was about to go to the library,” I dodged.

She pursed her lips then raised her brows high. “Same thing.”

My eyes lit up. I was right. She was there. “If you say so. I’ll see you –

She rolled her eyes before walking away and muttering. "Too easy."

I shrugged but then I heard her mutter something. “Back in the old days, you used maps to find people.”

My face furrowed and she simply smiled deceptively sweetly at me from her shoulder before giving me a wink.

Oh.

I cupped my hands over my mouth and called out. “You’re really my favorite Tarly, Talla Tarly! Heartsbane belongs to you!”

She laughed then and shouted back. “I'd rather have more reeds!”

I gave her a thumbs up before speeding towards the library, climbing the stairs two at a time towards the Cartography section while reciting part of Sansa's letter in my head containing her one request I was only eager to fulfill.

 

"I want"—it pleaded—All its life—
I want—was chief it said
When Skill entreated it—the last—
And when so newly dead—

I could not deem it late—to hear
That single—steadfast sigh—
The lips had placed as with a "Please"
Toward Eternity—

 


Present time…

 

Sansa

Before I could fully digest Jon’s letter, all the hairs at the back of my neck stood up when I felt someone behind me.

My breath came in short breaths while my pulse raced knowing whose face I’d see once I turn around.

I never got the chance to when I felt a breath on my neck, whispers of hands hovering near my arm, and the scent of pine and soap and the feel of warmth enveloped me fully to him while he hasn’t even done what I’ve asked him to yet.

I felt a hand move slowly, his sleeve grazing mine as he slowly grasped his letter and pulled it from my grasp, letting it drop to the floor, that same hand bracing himself on the almost upright drafting table I placed the map on, trapping me without touching me – at least not completely.

And then he started reciting his letter that contained only the male lines of e.e. cumming’s poem, leaving the space for the female’s answers blank for me to answer.

“May I feel?”

I shivered at the huskiness of his voice, quiet yet firm. As I clutched at my wrists, I had to remind myself that I invited this and that I know the answers by heart.

“I-I’ll squeal…” I swallowed before I whispered. 

I felt his fast huffs of air behind me, warm and shaky followed by a swallow too but he kept still.

“Just once?” he said, his voice low and rough too near my ear.

“It’s…fun?” I shivered again but it wasn’t from fear.

He moved closer and I could feel the line of his torso an inch from my back, while his lips also as near, hovered over my ear as I watched his splayed fingers on the map twitch ever slightly before tracing the Smiling Sea written in golden script on the map. 

“May I touch?” he asked again and the gruffness of his voice sent heat coursing down my body, making me swallow back the whimpers that wanted to escape.

I almost faltered with my answer knowing that even though I invited this – asked for this, I didn’t know how much I could handle but I knew how much I wanted it all.  

“H-how much?”

He gave a breathy chuckle and even though I knew his next line, hearing him say it made me finally whimper from anticipation, earning another heady laugh from him.

“A lot,” he answered more confidently.

Now it was down to this. The reply.

I bit my lip, gathered my courage and turned around to face him. I swear with the way he was looking right now – I swear everything from me would drop.

Everything.

His pupils were blown and his gray eyes were smoldering black points as they bore at me, his mouth parted and his fingers twitched but he was waiting… waiting… waiting…always waiting. I held his gaze and broke the last of my walls and answered in a clear steady voice.

“Why not?”

And that was all he needed to trap me further, my breath hitching when my back hit the table, folding as my body followed the incline while he moved closer, his other hand braced just slightly above my head completing the cage his arms made around me. He was so close, his nose grazed my temple while his breath caressed my face. But he didn’t touch me yet.

He ducked down so I could meet his eyes filled with reassurance despite being drowned in want before he said the next line. “Let’s go?”

I didn’t realize I was gripping at my front until I felt the fast thrumming of my heart leaping from my chest. It was only then that I realized my limits despite my own desire as I took weight in the reply he was expecting,

“N-not too far” I looked him straight in the eyes, hoping he’d know.

Despite the strain he was trying to mask for my sake, at my words his expression turned tender. His eyes told me first before he nodded that he did know. He half-smiled when he recited his next line in a gentler voice.

“What’s too far?”

I looked down, released my grip on my top and pressed my palms flat on his chest where I felt the muscles stiffen under my touch but still he didn’t move closer – not an inch. I pushed him slightly so he’ll know I mean not too close, but I gripped at the fabric just as quick to tell him but not too far before I looked up at him with the next line. “Where you are.”

Two beats and two almost shared breaths, he nodded at me. “May. I. Stay?” he said through controlled grunts.

“Which way?” I lifted my face and tilted.

He mirrored me while he leaned his face lower, his breath tickling my face. “Like this.”

This was it.

I closed my eyes and barely whispered the next line. “If you ki –

Wasting no time he bridged the gap and I could hardly contain the moan as soon as our lips touched and everywhere ran cold and hot when I heard him too.

We stayed that way, our lips – our tongues and teeth the only haptic bridge between us. My hands fisting his shirt and the material of his sleeves and pants brushing mine the next best thing. 

Days of bolder letters, teasing each other with hints of our desire without ever acting on them, effectively built this up – another game we ended up playing in the day – our little secret while we pretended not to be…involved. But as much as it made us… eager for our nights, our desires were kept low and small as a candle flame – flickering gently and slowly building as we used our nights to learn each other through our talks on my balcony, one candle more at a time and sometimes – one tiny touch more. And every night, before we part, we each leave with more embers, ready to be stoked in the morning then light again at night.

We do this, keep our nights chaste and our days in secret because I was too used to the cold and too unaccustomed to get too close to the flame. The last time we kissed was the night I came back. But Jon makes me feel nothing but safe. He only ever allows me to to feel the warmth and see the light even as his eyes show me he is doused in fire - burning for the both of us until I'm ready to accept the flames. 

And right now I wanted it.

Not all of it.

Not yet.

Just a taste.

Just a kiss. 

And one more. And another. And another. But nothing more.

I wanted to be kissed by fire the way he always says I am.

We kissed and kissed until I was almost reclined against the drafting table while his mouth and tongue mapped with and against mine.The map of the Summer Isles with its Smiling Sea, its Singing Stones, and its Temple of Love with their sixteen-teated deity slid down the floor.Tracing and dipping, but not conquering, he didn't stop kissing me and I didn't stop kissing him back. His kiss was only for discovery as he promised, even if I was only ever eager to be explored and to explore him too.  

He doesn't know it yet and I can't let him know it now either, but he doesn't need to conquer me anymore. 


 

Two weeks earlier…

 

Jon

 

We were getting too close again. Not that I minded at all too much. Seven hells, she was miles away from where I want her closer but this wasn't the time. 

Trying not to look reluctant, I leant back slowly, my heart still racing and my head incredibly full as I studied her surprised yet pleased expression when I dropped that Westley line on her. She even giggled and rolled her eyes at me though her blush never left. 

I hope it wasn't too much. I knew what that phrase truly meant and while we are in no way ready for that true meaning, I wanted to say it anyway. Partly, because I knew it would make her laugh and partly because it was where I knew this was heading to in the long run.

At least for me.

"But it depends on your brother's time, of course, if he ever lets me out of his sight for the night," I shrugged but some of the nerves came back when I met a guy he beat up. And that guy, Endrew Tarth was a large man with impressive skills too. He was an upperclassman at the Watch. And if Robb took him down...

I rubbed the back of my head. "Your brother... he didn't bring a gun or a sword or anything right?

 

“I don’t need a gun to kill you.”

There he was, Robb Stark.

 I’ve seen him on the news before but I had to admit, he was definitely intimidating in person. He was taller than me and had a bigger built but other than that, he and Sansa could pass as twins. They had the same red hair, blue eyes, and even the same grin. Though he looked the model of ease, there was steel in those eyes that commanded respect as they probed at me.

 I immediately stood up, took a step closer and extended my hand when Sansa shot in between us and chucked an apple at him. "Robb you promised!"

Robb raised his hands in surrender before composing himself in a smirk.

 “It’s okay – “ I started but Sansa ignored me and I received an amused look from Robb before he looked back softly at his incensed sister.

“I was just about to tell you I was heading out unless you need a ride first,” he shrugged again.

“I’m perfectly capable of driving myself to school,” Sansa sniffed and I almost laughed at how cute she looked even when annoyed.

Robb laughed and placed a hand on her shoulder that Sansa glared at but didn’t shake off. He rubbed at that shoulder, bending slightly until she looked up at him. “I know, my baby girl," he emphasized to Sansa's annoyance. " Just thought to offer,” he patted her cheek. I wanted to look away, feeling like an intruder from Robb’s brotherly show of affection. He clearly adored his sister. Being an only child, I had no experience with being either an older brother or younger brother. But I just knew that if I had a younger sister, I’d look at her the same way Robb did Sansa.

Putty in her hands but a wild beast to her enemies. 

Sansa softened then and sighed. “I’ll be fine, Robb.”

Robb then stepped back and nodded at her. “Well, I’m going. I can pick you up from school. I’m sure Jon can drive you there for now.”

I sucked in a breath the same time as Sansa gasped.

He looked at me then and raised a brow in challenge.

“Robb!” Sansa started protesting.

I cleared my throat. “It’s no problem.”

He looked back at Sansa and laughed. “See? Now why don’t you give your favorite brother one for the road?” He opened his arms.

“Fine.” Sansa sighed then wrapped her arms around her brother’s middle. Robb in turn, enveloped Sansa inside his massive arms while shooting me an icy look of warning.

There it was.  

Now I know how they got their house words.

I raised my palms and gave a nod at him, never breaking eye contact.

His face broke into a grin so fast as if that was the answer he was looking for. He gave Sansa a sloppy kiss on the cheek before leaving.

Without hesitating, I made my way over and stood in front of him. He raised a brow again but waited.

“I’m Jon –

He cut me off with a relaxed grin before extending a hand. His grip was curt, strong and crushing but his eyes were kind. “Jon Snow. Relax. I know of you.  And I know you know of me too. You can call me Robb. Now go on, Jon.”

At his ease, I relaxed a little. “I know you know that Sansa and I… well, what we’ve been doing is…different… but now that she agreed to go out with me on a date at least,” I cleared my throat and thankfully he didn’t look at me mockingly. He was patient even. “I wanted a chance to talk to you before you leave first.”

“That all?”

I nodded.

He grinned then and clapped my back. “Sure. Let’s grab drinks tonight. Or if you have beer in your house, I’ll come over. I have to go to Old Town tomorrow morning so I won’t be leaving tonight at least. We can have a very thorough discussion.”

“I have beer,” I blurted. Better to die in your own house with your favorite beer. 

He nodded. “Good. So I’ll see you then.”

I nodded back just as Sansa shooed him away with a shove but there’s no mistaking the grin she was sporting. Robb stopped and whispered something in her ear before he left and whatever it was, it made her smile softly.

When he was gone, Sansa turned to me and I wasn’t prepared for that look in her eye that was something closed to awe.

“You really didn't have to, you know,” she said while walking towards me.

I pushed my hands inside my pockets and smiled. “I know. But I wanted to. ”

She sighed and reddened. “You’re just one sweet guy, aren’t you? I’m so not used to this.”

I groaned and that confused her.

“What?”

I slid my hand over my face in a fake show of annoyance. “Now you can’t say things like that to me.”

She looked up at me with wide innocent eyes that were genuinely confused. “Like what? That you’re nice and sweet? Because you are, so far. And honestly, these past days and the things you’ve done so far were the nicest - ”

It was my turn to let out a breath. “Please don’t finish that.”

She didn’t but I just knew she was preparing herself to apologize.

I huffed another breath and pushed my hair back then shook my head. “It seems I have so much to make up for.”

“Huh?”

“Sansa, I’m telling you now as a warning. You better get used to it soon because it’s only going to get worse. I’m going to woo you with everything I’ve got –

She raised her palms at while she tried to protest but she couldn’t hide her blushing. “That’s completely unnecessary –

I ignored her as I stalked forward until I’ve had her backed in a corner, my arms bracing her as one grabbed at the hand rail and the other was pressed on the wall. “It is. I don’t know how it was with the others, but with me you will be treated how you should be treated. As promised, I’m going to start slow. I won’t overwhelm you just yet and we’ll take our time, but just so you know what you’re getting into, I don’t do things half-assed. As long as you keep saying yes, I’ll keep proving to you how I’ll make myself deserving of you. And I’m telling you now that you don’t just deserve kindness, you should expect it. You deserve to be cherished, adored, cared for and more importantly, everyone should know that being with you is a privilege, not a price.”

She looked up at me with her mouth slack and her eyes wide but there was something gentle that broke inside her big blue eyes.

I softened my gaze and though I itched to touch her, I didn’t. Choosing to touch the flower that was still on her head. “Can you try to believe me?” I said gently.

I knew she wanted to cry but she held it back and smiled at me slightly before nodding.  “I don’t need to try.”

I grinned and stepped back before I do something premature and kiss her.

I didn’t want to get ahead of myself but was that disappointment buried under gratitude in her eyes?

Oh my sweetling, if only you knew. I held my hand out to her anyway just so she knows that I wanted what she wanted if I wasn’t mistaken but I’m not taking anything she didn’t give permission to give.

I know that she may want some things and she may feel like giving in maybe for her, or for me. She was a pleaser. I know that now. So more than ever, I'm going to give her what I think she needed back the most. 

Power. Control. Choice. 

Not that she had to try so hard to have them, not when I'm completely powerless against her. But she had to believe she could have them. She had to believe that she's always had them. So for now, I'll take my cues from her until she learns to trust me completely. 

 

She glanced at my hand in surprise before looking up and there I saw the brightest smile she’s ever given me – one that reached her eyes before she placed her hand in mine and allowed me to lead her back to the spot that we would soon call ours for many days as we learned each other. 

There was one more thing that I knew she both needed and wanted. It was clear as day to me now that I have finally met her. 

It's been barely an hour but it was clear as day.

Love.

She wanted to be loved. 

I don't know if I'm the right man for the job but I will certainly die trying to give her this too.

I'm too scared it's too soon to say that I was in love with her already but I know enough that it's the only clear path to follow. 

I squinted just as a flash of light bounced on my face. It was only when I tried to shield my eyes with my hand that for the second time this morning, I forgot that I never let go of her hand.

 

She noticed too but instead of feeling self-conscious or scared, she smiled quietly at me and gave my hand a squeeze.

Completely ignoring the rising sun in the background. I squeezed back and returned her smile. Nothing was brighter than this moment and the promise that it was only a start.

Finally.

We can begin.

Chapter Text

Jon

 

Two weeks. 

How was I able to manage without this? 

How was I able to ever go without having the taste of her mouth on mine? 

How was I able to go on without having the feel of this softness, this sweetness, this heat?

And now she was the one who was asking. 

Silly girl. 

If she lets me, this would be all that I would be doing, anywhere and anytime she wishes. 

So how?

Same way that my hands stayed twitching in place on the table behind her, my body an inch from her warmth with only our clothes, her hands on my shirt, our lips and tongue touching. 

Because this was all she allowed. 

And I was only ever to eager to give her anything she wanted.

Even space.

I refuse to close my eyes even as hers shut tight. I watched as the drafting table bent as she did, my palms on either side of her. I watched as her beautiful face moved against mine, watched as small delicate sounds escaped from the tastiest lips, watched as her grip on the fabric tightened then released only to be grabbed at again, pulling me closer but not as close as I wanted. 

It was the longest kiss - only our third and it hasn't ended yet. The first I stole. The second she gave. This one she asked and was a whole lot hotter and sweeter for it.

We started fast and unrelenting. Maybe she wanted this for some time too. Now as if we've resurfaced from the water, we were slowing down yet dragging the tactility of it. Our lips and tongues pressing and tasting firmer and longer with each languorous drag of touch. 

I wanted more

Even just a little more. 

I would never press. 

But I can try and ask. 

I pulled away then, catching my breath before I did. My forehead pressed against hers before quickly kissing her everything my lips could reach but skipped her lips for now. I could hear her panting and other tiny barely controlled sounds, spurring me on, and I was only too pleased that she didn't pull away yet.

"Sansa...I want to touch you. But only if you want to," I tried, barely able to keep the words out. 

She didn't stiffen but she pulled away to look up at me with blown pupils enhancing the midnight shade that took over her baby blues.  

I expected it so my disappointment wasn't evident, only nodding right away and ducking down to kiss her again. She said no but her pupils were blown, enhancing her darkened eyes.

She pulled away before I could and looked at me again, now with a rueful look about her. "want to touch you. But only if you want to," she repeated my words to me. 

I found myself nodding furiously before I could register fully what it was she just asked me while my heart pounded double time with excitement and surprise. 

She straightened up and proceeded to back me until I felt the back of my knees hit a chair where she bid me sit, all the while, her eyes never strayed from mine. All coherent thoughts and even my breathing stopped when she straddled me. 

I feared breaking from her gaze, feeling that if I do the spell would break. So I only felt and not saw when she placed her hands over mine and guided them to hold on to the back of the seat. She bent so close to me that I felt the line of her briefly pressed against me as she whispered near my ear. "Will you keep your hands here?"

I nodded.

She pulled away then and what I saw was only determination as she studied me. But from her rapid breathing and the evident pulse on her neck, I knew there was some nervousness to her too.

"If I ask you to close your eyes and keep them closed, can you do it?"

"Yes," I answered, obeying immediately, my body trying to keep still at her mercy. 

I heard her take a deep breath before I felt her touch again. 

There they were. Light tiny points on my face as her fingers traced everything, my breaths coming out embarrassingly staggered. She was touching me. From my eye lids to my lips that were still slightly parted as I took in air by gulps. Her fingers on my lips was almost unbearable as they ghosted, feather light that I barely needed to move to suck on one but I didn't. One hand cupped my cheek, caressed, and slid low on my neck until it found purchase on my shoulder while the other went back up to brush the hair from my face, played with my hair lightly, before she raked her hand on my scalp making me groan while my head leant in to her touch - my nose and lips turning to her palm while she went lower, gripping at the back of my neck. She stilled and I wanted so badly to do the opposite. 

I wasn't beneath begging not when she continued to touch me like this everywhere else. But I knew this was something she needed to do. Something I can try to give her. And seven hells, I'll try! 

I felt her breath faintly on my neck as she scooted closer, brushing against my lap that I couldn't stop another groan.

I was sure my knuckles were already white as they gripped the chair - the only thing I was allowed to hold when I felt her move again. 

Her hands slid down my chest until they reach my heart where she splayed her palms over before fully leaning her body against me, making me gasp. She adjusted so her cheek was against mine, while one hand stayed over my heart while the other reached down to cover my hand.

I knew she closed her eyes when I felt her lashes tickle against my cheek and I felt her hot breath on me as she sighed. There were still no words, only our breathing. Hers calm and steady. Mine deep and fast. One hand clutched at my shirt while one traced my arm. Something's changed. I know she just wants to be held but not really held. But the overwhelming need to hold her was painfully too much as I twitched and swallowed. And all these heightened with my still closed eyes. I was almost sure that she would leave me like this, still and blinded, before she made another grand exit but instead she lifted herself from me, kept her hand on mine before holding it completely and gave the barest brush of her lips on mine before she touched my eyes. 

"You can open your eyes now."

I opened my eyes and I sucked in a breath that she was still here in front of me, holding my hand, and smiling gloriously at me.  

She tugged at my hand so I stood up and just stared at her, not quite sure what just happened. But the look she gave was meaningful as a blush crept on her face. "Thank you Jon," she whispered, her eyes speaking volumes as if I had just given her the moon that I could only answer uselessly. 

"Always," I cleared my dry throat. "Anytime." I gripped her hand. "Anything," I said almost pleadingly, hoping she knows I truly meant it 

Sansa faced me again with something I can't name before she gave relieved laugh. She tilted her head, her lips caught between her teeth once more. "Same time, same place tonight?"

I grinned. "Wild horses couldn't stop me." 

She laughed much more lighter this time and I laughed with her. 

We shared a look when I felt something nudge at my feet when I moved closer. I felt my ears turn red when I saw that it was the map that fell when we...

I bent down and smoothed it over the drafting table, clipping it back. When I found Sansa here. I was momentarily struck with the fact that I actually found her and that no matter how many times I've seen her, she still manages to steal the wind out of me. It was a good thing that I didn't approach right away. She was absently looking over the map while she slipped a hand inside her pocket and that's when I knew she hadn't read my message yet so I had to wait. 

My palms started to sweat while my heart pumped half scared and half excited when she blushed a deep red. The moment she looked up still with that beautiful flush, I knew it was my cue to swoop in. 

Pushing all those thoughts away before I get carried away again, I decided to check out the map she was looking at and I was fairly surprised that she chose to look at the Summer Isles. My heart sped up again but this time, a wave of happiness, relief, and something else slowly spread over me when I started to understand finally what this time in the library meant while my hand traced the map and found something that confirmed it. That's why even if I knew the answer already, I still wanted to hear it from her own lips. 

I looked at her briefly and turned a corner of my mouth up when I saw that she was blushing. "Did I get your message right? Did I overstep?"

A smile crept up those loved lips made red as she gripped the hand I forgot once more that I was still holding. I couldn't help it. Holding her hand felt so natural. She went closer and used her free hand and placed it on top of mine that was still on the map. "You read it right," she said as our hands twined over the drawing of a golden temple, its script bearing the Temple of Love. 


 

Two weeks ago, Night time at Jon's living room...

Robb

 

My fingers tapped against the arm of one of Jon Snow's leather arm chairs, as I surveyed the rest of Jon Snow's living room while Jon Snow himself went to his kitchen to retrieve our drinks. 

Jon Snow. Jon Snow. Jon Snow.

I had to remind myself to meet Jon Snow. Not Jaeharys Targaryen. And especially not Jaeharys 'Jon' Stark Targaryen.

No.

Jon Snow.

I made a quick sweep. While the basic architecture was the same as Sansa's as well as everyone else's at Oakwood, it seems that even Jon Snow has his own aesthetic however minimal it was. Everything was either black or gray, wood or leather and had its function. Did he really not know he was a Stark? Nope. No wolves or anything so far. While everything was tidy, books that did not fit the standard wall to ceiling bookshelf on the east wall, were stacked here and there. Old and new, classics and some modern thrillers, and - I rolled my eyes - a worn copy of Shakespeare. There were also playbills and bound scripts, and other traces of who Jon Snow is and only those. Nothing too...personal of his. No framed pictures or albums of family, friends, not even of himself. 

No wolves, then maybe dragons? None? Not a smidge of red - 

Ah. I think I spoke to soon. 

The only thing that could pass as truly decorative was the writing desk made from the unmistakeable white of the weirwood tree, on the corner beside the standard bookshelf. The lone white against the blacks and grays.  

I stood up and took a closer look, tracing the carvings I knew I would find there. 

Runes. 

Runes of the First Men. 

Runes and Swords. 

Bronze knobs and tooling.

I bent down and traced the red carvings of branches and leaves until it reached all the way down the left hind leg where I saw what I was looking for. 

 

*

"What do you see Robb?"

"A wolf?"

"A Direwolf, Robb."

"Our sigil."

"That's right. This table has been passed down for ages where every important letter was read and written, and soon, you will too."

"It's beautiful father. Though Sansa might get jealous."

"It used...to have a twin, many years ago. The right wolf for the Warden of the North, the left wolf for the sister or daughter."

"Who had it last?"

*

 

"Sorry to keep you waiting - oh."

I jumped slightly before righting myself and continued to admire the desk instead of looking up at him. It was unmistakable. This was my aunt's. The last known owner. Maybe Jon Snow knows more than we think. If he does, what does it mean? What was he doing?

"It's a beautiful piece of work." I  offered while I eyed him then, not knowing what to expect, but most of my suspicions faded away when all I saw was sadness.

He was a good actor - but the way his jaw tightened the slightest bit before disappearing gave him away. His mouth twitched up slightly before he walked closer and handed me a bottle. "I suppose that would interest you."

My brow quirked before I remembered to smoothen my expression. Why would you suppose would take an interest? "Hmm?" I settled saying while I took the bottle he offered. 

He took a swig and shrugged and there I saw the tightness on his shoulders. "I understand it's something familiar. You and Sansa are from the North after all."

Was it really just that, Jon Snow? "Yes. We are." 

We stood there for a moment, taking sips while the tension rises. I watched as he grew more and more uncomfortable. But years of learning how to read people made me know that none of that was from guilt. 

Only sadness.

As much as I wanted to probe more, I decided to give the guy a break. 

I plopped myself back on his black leather sofa, making myself at home. "Well, we can discuss furniture or we can discuss your undying love for my sister," I grinned. 

Poor guy looked from a kicked puppy to a guy headed straight for the gallows. 

I laughed loudly and then patted the space next to me. "Come on Jon Snow. I don't bite."

He eyed me before choking out a scoff as he sat down, some of the tension rolling off. "Says the man they call the Young Wolf."

I threw my head back laughing before looking at him and grinning, making sure to show all my teeth.

He gulped then and took a long pull before sitting ram rod straight. 

I leant back and draped an arm at the back of the couch. "Okay, let me just switch to big bro mode and get this over with." I leant forward, made my face neutral and spoke in my Robb the Lord voice as Sansa called it. "What are your intentions with my Princess Sansa, the light of my life, the sunshine to my cloudy days, my baby sister? My only baby sister?" My lips twitched a bit in an almost smile that quickly fell when I saw his expression. 

I meant to tease him to get him to loosen up but Jon Snow here meant business. 

Without blinking or stuttering, he answered. "I intend to do many things, Robb Stark. But its all the same. I want your sister to be happy. And I want to be one of the reasons. That simple."

My jaw almost dropped from the shock of it if I wasn't used to getting unexpected responses during hearings. Instead I looked him straight in the eye - eyes that were so much like father's and Uncle Benjen's and Uncle Brandon's - eyes that were a sombre grey with steel and ice. Stark eyes.

And just like every Stark, not once did they flinch. 

At that I broke character, smiled, and clapped him loudly on the back. He stared at me in shock. I laughed. 

"Good man." At least, good enough for now. I'm still not sure if he's hiding the fact that maybe he knows we are related, but what I could tell was how into Sansa he was. Who knows, maybe he has a plan. We'll see but I think I know now how to get him to talk to me. 

I drank to give him time to collect himself and heard him release a relieved breath. 

"See? Now that wasn't so hard was it?" I smirked at him. 

He shook his head and took a sip too. "You can't blame me. I met Endrew Tarth. I know you can kill me, sir."

I laughed again and shrugged. "Well, thank you for choosing to be brave anyway."

He half-smiled half-grimaced while his eyes softened. "Sansa chose me. The rest is easy."

My brows shot up and I knew I wasn't able to mask my surprise no matter how good at it I was. I didn't say anything, taking the time to absorb his words. I should feel relief especially with what's coming for their future. But when I think about what's coming, I prayed that he'd still say those words as he meant it now. 

The rest is easy. 

What are you telling me Jon?

I was so tempted to ask some more but these were questions better reserved for another day. Instead of making him elaborate on what the "rest" was, I decided another approach. "So you're saying that you're someone that's hard for her to choose?"

He looked down the bottle he was holding, studying it mindlessly while his faced tinged with embarrassment. "I meant, I am not ideal. Especially for someone like Sansa." 

I opened my mouth to protest but he cut me off with a look and with a wave of his hand. "Please let me finish." After I nodded, he did. 

"I can only offer myself as I am. As myself, I don't have a title other than one I am making for myself. I don't have a permanent home or a family... like yours. I was raised completely by my mother who raised me as best as she could and not once did I ever feel shame in that, only great pride. She wasn't perfect, but I have always felt perfectly loved," he paused and had a wistful smile. 

My throat dried and I felt the heaviness in my chest - a bit from guilt, and a bit from sympathy from knowing what he wanted me to know without revealing the specifics...and from actually knowing exactly what those specifics are. A part of me wanted to just blurt out that I knew. But I can't. 

Not yet.

I focused instead in studying his words as objectively as I could. In his pause, I learned that he chose his words well. A title of himself - what he says its true. But if he chooses either or both his mother's or his father's name...

He drew in a breath and half smiled as he looked at me, his eyes holding complete sincerity. "Point is, as I am now, in the eyes of many, I'm simply not worthy of her. But as long as she keeps choosing me, I won't stop trying to be."  

I let out a breath and focused on relaxing my composure. Pulling a corner of my mouth up, I waved a hand. "Well then, it's very clear. It doesn't matter what I say. It all boils down to Sansa right?"

He chuckled and nodded. "Yes, it does. But I still wanted to talk to you so both you and your sister would know that I'm serious. And - " he looked down, completely flustered as he rubbed the back of his neck. 

"And?" I prompted.

"The only permission I need is hers, but it seems only right to get yours too," he muttered.

I blinked before all out laughing. 

He gaped at me and continued doing so until I calmed down. 

I thumped at my chest before huffing out and settling. "Sorry."

He just looked at me, waiting. 

I ran a hand through my hair. "Listen Jon. I do appreciate it. Truly. You're earning some respect points from me. I can tell you're a decent guy and my gut feeling tells me to believe you. So I do." I leant forward by my elbows then. "I want you in turn, to know that I am not the enemy. If anything, I can be the greatest supporter of my sister's happiness unless you give me a reason not to. I know you're a nice guy but I made a promise to myself, the old gods and the new, to keep my sister from little shites who take advantage of her, or hurt as much as a hair on her very stubborn head. Consider this meeting, both my blessing, and my warning," I grinned before leaning back once more, letting him absorb all that.

He perked up then. "So that means?"

I nodded. "That means, I'm okay with you dating her but if you hurt her, I'll kill you. And believe me, if I fail, there's a line who'll finish the job for me. My princess is well-loved. You do know our mother's words don't you?"

He nodded but was still sporting that goofy smile despite answering with a gulp. "Family, honor, duty."

"That's right. It's the Tully way to drop everything and anything for family first. And you do know our other words right?" I tested him.

"That's easy," he grinned innocently before schooling his features into a cold serious one, his voice dropping an octave. "Winter is coming."

It was haunting. 

Though he looked and sounded so much like my father and his brothers when he said our words, this confirmed it. 

Jon Snow knows nothing.

Nothing about him being a Stark.

"My mother is a northerner," he explained casually while my eyes shot up. "Though I was born and raised in Dorne, my mother kept with the Old Gods and the North ways. I learned the old tongue before I even knew the common tongue."

I was at a loss. But I had to say something. "Explains the accent," I tried not to say to hollowly. 

"Aye," he chuckled. Even the way he laughs is like father. "Though my mother chose to move to Dorne, I could tell she holds the North fondly."

"Well, 'the North remembers' after all," I cleared my throat and took a swig.

He barked a laugh while he shook his head but there was that pained look in his face again. One day he's going to need to get that all out. 

"Well, it seems you share a fondness for the North," I raised a brow at him, trying to ease some of the tension. "One Northerner in particular."

He flushed again and looked at me sheepishly. 

"Hey, Jon. Do you really like Sansa? This...this isn't just a game to you or something like that?" 

He about jumped to his feet to protest but I raised my hands to calm him. "Easy, I just want to make sure. One last time. Sansa she...my sister has the biggest heart in the world. As you've seen, she's all walled up." I frowned. "She wasn't always like this."

His eyes darkened and I knew he understood. 

I leant forward again. "You'll be true to her Jon?"

He answered right away. "Yes."

"No matter what you learn?" I followed up quickly.

He leant forward then, his eyes flashing purple then steeling grey. "Yes."

I took him in, and saw his eyes filled with resolve. I wanted to shake him by the shoulders. Do you really mean that Jon? Do you? Even if it means that we're cousins? That you're half-Stark, half-Targaryen? 

I knew he meant it but not for the same reason. He probably took it to mean he would accept whatever it was Sansa would tell him about her issues. 

"Robb, I really like Sansa. And to be honest, 'like' is too light a word to describe it. But just as I've seen traces of who she is - how every new little thing I learn only draws me closer to her, I feel traces of what my feelings could lead to, grow more and more as well," he admitted, saying without saying that he's well on his way to falling head over heels in love with Sansa but apprehensive to name it because it was still too soon and they knew too little. "It doesn't matter what I find out. What matters is who we are now and what we can be."

My heart was racing, trying to keep up with my thoughts.

This is it Robb. Your last chance to cut the tie.

I set my bottle down the coffee table and looked at him. "I hope you remember that. All that you've said."

He placed a hand on his heart and nodded. "I will."

I let out a deep breath then and gave a soft nod while extending a finger at him. It was done.

I won't cut their tie. 

"You can't forget. You are, after all, one of us too," I decided, knowing it was the closest that I could get to confessing what I knew. 

His jaw dropped slightly before closing and then opening his mouth again, taking in my words. "It doesn't matter where you were born. You have the blood of the North in your veins."

He offered a quick smile. "Well, I certainly tried. I did choose to go to the Wall before I moved here."

"I think you met one of my uncles there. Benjen Stark."

He nodded. "I did. Come to think of it. I didn't see him much because he was assigned to Hardhome for most of my stay there, but I was able to meet him. He was very admirable. I wanted so badly to be put under his service."

I swallowed, feeling more and more uneasy. Father said that Uncle Ben took note of this Jon Snow who was as serious as father but as easily handsome like Uncle Brandon. None of them knew that they were directly and indirectly training their nephew then. How could they not know then? How could they not have suspected?

"Well, if it was indeed you they met, then you already have an outstanding recommendation from him," I smirked. Taking a mental note to ask father about Jon Snow's time at the Wall.

He was red then. "Anyway." He cleared his throat. "Thanks. I mean." He chuckled nervously. "I try, ok? I really do try at everything. I like the Brotherhood there. They take everyone and treat everyone the same. I learned that we don't choose the name we are born with, but we can choose how to be remembered."

I had to smile at that but only briefly because of the nagging conflicted feeling at the back of my head. Here was a guy who just wanted to pave his own way in the world based on his own merits. He still wants that despite knowing just half of his legacy - a legacy he easily gave up. The other half, he gave up without even knowing what it was. But how would he feel when he knows that to be with my sister was to live alongside the very two names he gave up? 

I must've taken too long to answer that he worried. 

"Seven hells, I hope you don't think that it was an insult to you or your family! I understand that having a powerful name is both a privilege and a - a source of immense pressure," he rattled on.

I stopped him. "It's okay, Jon. I get it. I wasn't offended at all. And I do agree with you. In the end, we work on how we want to be remembered. If you have the name, you work twice as hard to be worthy of it. If you don't, you work twice as hard to make yours worthy."

He let out a breath of relief and nodded. 

"Okay, I think we're done with the third degree," I plastered on a comforting grin. "So... aside from my... extracurricular activity that you mentioned, I also do legitimate ones. I played ice hockey for the Vale too. And my friends at the Night's Watch told me all about this one broody bloke they called 'King Crow'..."

He chuckled, running a hand on his hair in embarrassment. 

"It's not the same as breaking ice, but next time I'm here we should play field hockey sometime. Or whatever," I shrugged. 

"As long as it's not the fighting pit," he gulped.

I laughed and he joined in.

It was supposed to be like this. It was always supposed to be like this. 

As I finally watched him truly relax this time, I held on to my faith in my decision.

It can still be like this.



~ Interlude ~

Spies in the Garden

 

Ashford, though not as lustrous as Highgarden, still boasted of their fair share of greenery with the famed mazing shrubbery that lasted until the middle of autumn as with most of the cities at the Reach.

They say that if one wishes to hold clandestine meetings for romantic affairs, or trade secrets, the Reach was the place to go.

One just needs to find a garden. Any garden. And for every tree, hedge, leaf and flower, a secret is kept. The dynamism and ephemerality of the greenery made sure they stayed hidden. The only bugs are the real bugs that come and go, furthering the thrive. Every whispered secret are masked by the rustle of the leaves, the brush of the branches, and withers away from the wind. The hedges were tall and wide enough to form walls or shields from exposure. The blooms, colorful and fragrant enough to be distracting. And for every seed and sapling, was a purpose. 

And behind an eight-foot hedge were two spies. 

"Ugh. Nothing's happening!" The curly haired one grasped at his hair.

His older companion with dark hair too simply sighed without breaking from his spying. "Yet. Nothing's happening yet," he said patiently though there was a twitch in his eyebrow. 

The younger one gaped at him before going back to his task. "You seem awfully calm, friend Stag. Are you sure you don't know anything?"

Stag's jaw clenched the tiniest bit while he gave him a quick glance and a shake of his head. "I already told you, I don't. But maybe you do, Velvet. With the way you're fidgeting about, you're clearly expecting something I don't know. And I'm calm, because I'm always calm," he explained indeed, calmly, his mouth curling into amusement.

Velvet sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Sorry. But look at them. How can they act like there's nothing? I mean, you can cut the sexual tension with a knife! I know they're sneaking around. I just know it."

Stag half-smiled. "I don't doubt that. Though I haven't caught them actually sneaking around. What I want to know is why."

Silence. 

Following their line of sight, we see the subjects themselves.

There by the fountain was Sansa who looked like she was tuning her cello cradled in between her thighs. While not too far away, was Jon, partially hidden, leaning on a tree while holding up a script, his mouth moving - probably rehearsing his lines. 

More time passed and not once did they even as much as glance at each other. 

"What are you - " 

Looking back at the spies, Velvet was looking at Stag like he grew three heads and on his knee was Stag's hand. 

"You kept bouncing your knee. Will you please relax?" Stag said so smoothly matched with an interesting toothy grin that brought a flush to Velvet's face. 

Velvet in turn, moved away quickly, nodding curtly before watching again, the blush spreading to his ears.

Stag stifled a laugh before watching too. "Have some faith. They are clearly ignoring each other. Even the most innocent would glance at one point. They are both aware of each other. And - oh. Oh! Look! She's found something in her pocket!"

"Seven hells! It must be a note!" 

"It is! 

"She's blushing! By the Mother, it's from him I know it!"

"Shhh! Look! He's looking at her!"

Indeed Sansa was blushing prettily while she read a note while on the other side, Jon was peeking up from his script, his mouth curling into a smirk while their stalkers kept whispering excitedly through their narration.

"Is it always like this? It's my first time to see this! And she looks so happy."

"Oh friend Stag, yes in the most frustrating sense of way! I've been the middleman and these two fools are too much. Look, my fool of a friend is looking too pleased with himself."

"Wait. She's done. And oh - my little she-wolf is upto something!"

Sansa adjusted her hold on her cello before reaching back and letting her hair loose and tumble, shaking it out as she pulled the hair tie, her red locks almost golden as they caught the sun. And on the other side Jon was outright gaping, trying hard to hide behind his script, his jaw dropping when the distinct sound of cello playing permeated the air. 

"Wow. Are you sure your girl is truly a wolf and not a fox?"

"I am as shocked as you are, Velvet. I mean, John Legend is one thing but - 

" - P.D.A. is another! Hot damn!"

"Look at your boy! His jaw is to the floor!"

"Seven hells! Wait, he's shaking his head - he's grinning! Oh. My. Gods. This isn't something new to them- Mother, Maiden, and Crone! They are definitely doing it!"

"No - no they're not - NO!"

"Get over yourself! Your little girl is not a little girl any more! Seven hells! They are so doing it -" Velvet pressed, positively gleeful.

"Shut up! Seven hells!" Stag was white, his calm obliterated while his hands were at his hair.

"Just look at him! If that's not eyefucking, I don't know what it is! Jon Snow knows something!"

"No! They're no - Sansa Minisa Stark! Why in the seven hells are you eyefucking him back? You stop that this instant young lady!" 

Velvet's cackling was bordering on too loud while he cupped his mouth to control it. "Come on Stag. You told me you're always calm. That's young love and all. Fuck, I told you I think they fucked already that bloody night."

"I had an idea they were lovey dovey but this is too much! I have half a mind to march over there and save my best friend's honor," he said while poised to stand up.

Velvet grabbed his arm and Stag raised a brow at him. Velvet blushed but kept his grip firm. "Sit down. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they're just teasing."

Stag took a deep breath and crouched back down. "Fine. Now that I think about it, she won't - she won't do it yet. That entails a deep level of trust from her part. She'll likely talk to Dany first. But I do agree that something's going on. But why - why are they hiding?"

"I don't know - Oh my. She just smirked at him. She's raising a brow at him. She's leaving."

"Look at your boy! He's counting. No. Jon Snow you are not following my she-wolf!" 

"Aaand he's off  - Where are you going?!"

"What do you think?! I'm following them! Let me go!"

"Calm down! My boy will never hurt her! He won't take what isn't freely given! Leave them be."

"No. Let go!"

Velvet tightened his grip and raised his brows. "I let you go, you follow them, and then what?"

"I'll - I'll - "

"Yes? Does your she-wolf even know that you're here?"

"Ugh. Fine."

"Lovers' quarrel gentlemen?"

Both jumped at the sudden voice behind them while I scampered away to hide, unable to see the intruders' faces. 

"Look who we have here brother dear," a girl purred. "Two handsome naughty boys. A Reachman, and a Stormlander. My oh my."

"Well, well, if you two wished to...frolic in a garden, you should've gone to ours," came a familiar male voice. "My sister and I would be more than happy to show you our secret rose garden."

As I've said, the Reach was the most clandestine place to be. No secret escapes the gardens.

No one but the gardener. 

"Loras."

"Margaery."

No one but the Tyrells. 

Eventually. 

Maybe they even knew beforehand that Sansa and Jon were indeed sneaking around and continued their secret correspondence. 



Sansa

I had to bite my lip from giggling while I wrote on Jon's mirror here in his dressing room. The shower was still running and this time I made sure that Loras wasn't going to barge in.

Using the red lipstick I used when we first kissed, I wrote my answer to Jon's naughty note this morning. Gods, I could feel my face heating up again. He gave me another Cummings poem. 

I looked around and figured I'd have a little time to reread his note. Very quickly I took it out of my pocket and read it. 

 

Lady, I will touch you with my mind.
Touch you and touch and touch
until you give
me suddenly a smile, shyly obscene...

Gods. 

I heard the water stop and knew I had little time left. So I hastily stuffed the note back in my pocket, took out two more items and rearranged them on top of Jon's dresser, stepped back and admired my handiwork. 

On his dresser I placed a pair of my freshly baked cinnamon rolls and a retractable light up lightsaber - Kylo Ren's of course because he looks ridiculously like Jon - well, at least the pouty look and the beautiful hair. I snickered. 

I heard the water shut close and knew it was my cue to leave. 

Giving one last look at my lipstick message, I smirked then slinked out, giving my accomplice a wink and a thumbs up to which he rolled his eyes and waved me off. 

Do or do not, Jon Snow. There is no try. 

:-*


Jon

 

I caught my breath for a moment before I proceeded. Unlike tonight, I couldn't use the ladder I bought to climb her balcony every night for the past three weeks. No, using that would make too much noise. 

So now in the middle of the night, I had to climb up the old way - and that was through the damn trellis that gave me a dozen ant bites the second time I climbed that way. But this was going to be worth it. 

After one big gulp of air, I straightened up and craned my neck for any sign that Sansa was awake. I was, after all, only a few feet away from her bedroom. 

The coast was clear so I put down my bag very gently and extracted my latest surprise. 

I had to bribe Ned and swear him to secrecy so he could ask his mom to let me buy one of those potted trees she sold. Mrs. Dayne, no matter how much I protested, was only happy to give it to me for free and sent it right away. I felt incredibly touched that I sent her a dozen sunflowers right after. She was, after all, as close to a second mother as I'll ever have. 

I shook my head before I began to acknowledge all those feelings and focused on my task. 

In the middle of her balcony, I placed the small cherry tree I chose with a red pot that I - to the best of my writing ability - painted on the words to Pablo Neruda's "Everyday we play" in its entirety. 

When I was done, I stepped back and reassessed. 

In its entirety, there was the L-bomb. I hesitated, not because I wasn't sure I had those feelings, but because I wasn't sure if it was okay to say so this time. But the point of our game was to be bolder. It's a risk I'm going to take. Though I promise I won't mention it to her unless she asks. I know she won't yet. But I want to do this gesture to tell her how serious I am. I know she won't accept my heart yet no matter how much I've offered it to her piece by piece. So if she won't accept my heart now, she has no choice but to accept this damn tree instead.

We've come so far. 

We've shared so much.

I can see she feels the same. But I also know she still has to put down some more of her walls. I can wait because I know it's going to be worth it.

Because truly nothing is more lovely. It is truly a beautiful thing to watch, to see her unravel - to see the walls going down, one by one, little by little, showing more and more of herself. And the best thing was, she was showing herself to me. 

It gives a sense of pride and bliss that I am doing something right to make her smile. I can't help but do my best because she makes me happy too. 

Everyday she grows more and more beautiful, and I can't stop watching and trying to contribute so I could watch again. 

I traced at the last line of the poem and smiled. 

"I want
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees."


 

Flashback to the day after Sansa returns to Ashford...

 

Arianne

 

"Where the bloody hell are all the women?" I can't find Jeyne, Mya or Myranda anywhere and we were going do to costumes! 

I spotted Jaqen leaning on the post. "Hey have you seen - " I froze once I saw exactly why the women were away. Or who to be exact. "Never mind."

I rolled my eyes and walked straight to the band of giggling girls crowding a grinning red head. 

"Ladies, dispense. This boy is already taken. Go on, shoo!" I waved them off before standing in between them and the boy I've made an unholy alliance with as we were both going to wed the last two pure Targaryens and live in the dragon den for at least a year.

"Taken! By who?" Myranda pouted. 

I stuck my chin up and dismissed them. "Whom. But none of your business. And no, it's not me. He wishes. But I have business with him. Now go."

They pouted and simpered but they knew better than to fight me. 

Behind me, the Young Wolf of Winterfell was chuckling.

I turned around and glared at him. 

"You didn't have to do that you know. I would've told them to go much more politely," Robb grinned his shit-eating grin.

"What are you doing here anyway? Oh wait! You came with Sansa."

He nodded. "Of course I did. It's not everyday your sister jumps a plane and - 

"Okay, okay! I know, you don't have to tell me! I had to take Jon to the mountains lest he jumps on a plane to chase her," I sighed. My head already preparing to hurt from all the stress of Jon's love life. I didn't need to hear it again, especially not from Robb Stark.

He blinked then frowned. "So I take it he knows you know?"

I blinked at him in turn and mirrored his frown. "Wait, does this mean she knows you know too?" I spat instead of answering.

"Wait, I think this is a discussion we need to have in private. I was actually here to pick up my sister but I went to the wrong theatre," he said sheepishly.

"You did. She's on the other one. Anyway, follow me." I lead him up the control room by grabbing at his sleeve, making sure that everything but a small light was open. 

"Cozy," Stark waggled his brows. "While I'm flattered, Martell, I'd rather not have my cock dracarys-offed. And your aunt and I rather love my- "

I faked belched. "In your wet dreams, Stark. I'm sure. I'd rather not have dragon leftovers. If there's going to be any leftovers. Lets just get this bloody over with Stark. What do you know?" I poked his chest.

He chuckled before turning serious. "My baby girl doesn't know anything and I plan to keep it that way. But I do know that your good-cousin is my cousin too."

I sighed and nodded. "My good-cousin knows about us and anything related to the dragon family. He knows that the Daynes know too. But he is completely oblivious to his icy heritage. That and he doesn't know that his beloved will be good-sister to a dragon and not just any dragon - his father's sister!"

He ran a hand through his hair and frowned. "I know. It's all messed up." He looked at me then. "You're a dragon bride. How does he feel about that?"

"Nothing. We're not close enough that he'd be obligated to come. But I think he'll stomach it if I ask. Our time at the Reds gave us mutual respect for each other and our complicated positions in our lives. So I know that he'd make it at least for the ceremony. No reception for him. But that's a whole different thing. You know Sansa will invite him to your wedding. And that's in Winterfell! What do we do?"I looked up at him while my hands dug against my hips. 

He let out a deep breath. "My family already knows that Sansa is dating Jon Snow. They promise not to say a thing unless he himself asks and promised they won't be weird. I mean, hells, I only knew because I told my father that Sansa was dating a Jon Snow. And he admitted that he was who he is. We both decided to tell my mom and my uncles so they would have time to prepare not to be weird if he does come. As for Dany's side, we're still keeping her brothers and her niece and nephew in the dark. Who knows what they'll do if they found out that my sister is the key! I don't want Jon to feel played, and I certainly don't want my sister to feel used," he said frustrated.

I nodded. If the Starks promised silence, they'll keep it. But my cousins and my uncles however... "So what's your plan? Your wedding is in three months! Three months!" I held up three fingers to his face.

"I know," he gritted his teeth. "I'm going to talk to him, see if he really is serious with my sister - 

"I can already tell you now that he is. He is butt-crazy, over the moon, in love with her! Next!

"My sister is no better," he said while he ran a hand down his face, ignoring my prompt.

"I will tell you this. He absolutely does not want anything from his father and he isn't even the slightest bit curious about his mother's family. But I think, I think she matters more than his pride about that," I offered.

"I hope you're right. My plan is when Sansa invites him, I'm going to tell him if he doesn't know already and beg him to stick it out with Sansa for the whole wedding. I have to convince him that she doesn't know zilch. And that's easy if she truly doesn't know zilch. And then, we win him over," he huffed.

I bit my nails. "That's risky. What if he breaks up with her after the wedding?"

"Then I break his bones - 

I swatted him. "Robb! Be serious. Even if you kill my cousin - good luck with that by the way - he'll already be dead inside. If he feels the tiniest bit played, he'll be crushed! Like really crushed."

"And you think my sister won't be equally devastated?" He rounded at me. "This will kill her and she won't have anyone she would feel she could trust enough to run to!" 

I felt guilty then. Dany didn't tell me the specifics, but I knew Sansa had serious trust issues. "Seven hells, they have so much riding on this relationship! Is it even worth it? I mean, maybe it's not to late to..." I bit my lip knowing the answer.

Robb look pained and turned away slightly. "Sansa is singing again. And I haven't heard her sing in a long time," he said slowly.

I leant back and sighed. "We may not know each other much but I know enough to tell that I haven't seen Jon smile that much in a long time. Not since," I looked up at him letting the words fall knowing he got it. 

He looked back and smiled sadly. "If only he knew already."

I shot up straight.

"What? What is it?"

"What if he does? What if he finds out before the wedding?"

His eyes lit up a little as he considered it.

"Think, maybe we can like drop hints or something. I mean, little clues for him to piece," I continued.

He nodded once before he looked stricken again and shook his head. "We can't."

"Why not?" I huffed.

"Because I think that's going to be more cruel. We're going with an ending where he might possibly break up with her before the wedding."

"And? That's better than letting him go on pretending while at the wedding," I raised my brows at him.

He nearly pulled his hair off the way he grabbed at them. But to his credit, he took deep breaths before talking. "Listen. That may sound more logical. But you've met my family right? They won't ever ask more from Jon. If anything, they just want to meet him. If he goes to the wedding, he gets the chance to meet them."

"And then what? He'll fall in love with your family? Is that it?"

He had the decency to look sheepish. "Yes, in a sense. Or at least see what he could be a part of if he truly likes my sister. Who knows? Maybe if he sees how everyone is, maybe he'll be more accepting. I don't know. I'm almost at my wits end."

"It's such a gamble. Jon can be so stubborn. He gets it both sides," I rolled my eyes.

"Well, if he breaks up with her before or after the wedding then it's simple. He doesn't like her enough to stay either way. So I'm still for the deceit at least until he lands in Winterfell. At least maybe he'll try to be happy, if only for Sansa. If what I think of him is who he is," he sighed.

I thought it through. "He'll do as much. I think. He'd be too honorable to leave her high and dry. And he'll...he'll give her a chance to explain. He'll give her that much. And that's the only chance we need to hold on to."

He nodded. "I hope you're right." He sighed through his nose. "Anyway, I"m going to talk to him tonight. Maybe I can think some more after."

"Let me know how it goes?"

He eyed me. "Why not? I know their friends are snooping behind their backs. Wanna team up for this too?" He cocked a brow.

I almost smiled. "What the hell. This'll give some purpose to our existing alliance."

"Well, first rule is clear. We keep this between us. The second is - 

"To keep Sansa in the dark at all cost," I completed. "Let's figure out the rest after your talk. Maybe I'll go introduce myself to your sister too."

"Deal?" He extended his hand.

I grabbed it and shook. "Deal."


 

Present time, three weeks after...

Sansa

 

I couldn't stop giggling in between his kisses and I felt him smiling against my lips and skin when he gave light pecks behind my ear and down my neck. 

"Stop laughing," he muttered and tugged me closer that I was practically on his lap.

"I can't help it, your beard - it tickles."

He kissed back up and lingered on my lips before he pulled away. "Do you want me to shave it off?"

"No!" I protested to quickly, earning a curious smirk from him but he waited.

Blushing, I hid my face by pressing my forehead against his, bringing a finger to trace his beard. "I mean. It tickles and it's... it's a little weird to feel but it looks good on you," I whispered shyly.

"Sansa Stark. Is that your way of saying I'm handsome?"

I blushed deeper. "You know you're handsome. I don't need to say it," I frowned.

I felt him chuckle before he tipped my face to meet him. "Well I'm still happy to hear the most beautiful woman in the world thinks I'm handsome," he grinned, his eyes filled with happiness and mischief.

I couldn't help but smile a little. "Most beautiful?"

He nodded and started kissing all over my face again. "Beautiful. Inside. And. Out."

My heart swelled and felt like bursting that I almost said things I couldn't take back there and then. 

Instead I cupped his face and kissed his lips over and over again. 

We were on my balcony again as we've taken to every night since we first truly talked - even if it was just for an hour for some. He even bought a steel ladder so he could have something to climb on other than the trellis that gave him nasty ant bites. 

I told him I'd let him go through the inside of my house but he was adamant that unless we were ready to go public, he won't go inside my house.

Such a gentleman and yet for the past week since our time in the library, we've ended our nights making out. 

It was only recently that I let him touch me. Nothing more than second base and always over clothes of course. Though I burned for him to touch everywhere, I like having this...control. 

I like that at any time, he'd stop if I wish to. He'd say okay right away and control himself for me and it always brings me near tears that he lets me do this to him even if it was clear that he wanted more.

But he never took more than what was given. And this is what makes me trust him.

"Hey, sweetheart, what's wrong?"

I blinked at him and furrowed my brows. "Hm?"

His eyes looked at me concerned and alarmed while I felt his fingers wiping at my face. "Sweetheart, why are you crying?"

I sucked in a breath and felt my cheeks that were wet and my eyes started to blur. I was crying. 

He must have caught on that I just realized it because he wordlessly pulled me to his lap, tucked my head under his chin, and held me close to him. "Shhh... I got you. You don't have to explain."

I wrapped my arms around his neck then and I started with short sniffling before turning into sobs. 

He knew enough about me that this time I didn't want him to pull away.

And I sobbed even harder that he could now tell that I wanted him to hold me closer.

What was wrong with me? One minute I was bubbling with giddiness, the next I was a sobbing wreck. 

I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself and surrendered to his comfort. 

When I was calm enough I pulled away to look at him. He wiped the last of my tears with his thumb before clearing my face from some loose hair. "Feeling better?" he attempted a smile though the worry never left his eyes.

I shook my head.

He cupped my cheek then. "What can I do?"

I bit my lip but before I could hesitate longer I knew it was time. Here was a guy who did nothing but try an earn my trust and make me happy. It was time to lay down the last of my walls. 

"I need to tell you something."

He nodded encouragingly. "You can tell me anything."

I took a deep breath and started telling him everything. How Joffrey Baratheon verbally abused me after promising me the world - how he was trying to make me do things to be worthy of that world. How Harry Hardying promised to undo everything Joffrey made me feel by treating me like his most prized possession but taking his pleasure everywhere else. He even made me choose what to wear, where to go, never did anything to control me but it was only too late that I realized he was manipulating me subtly. I didn't realize that every one of my decision even if he agreed to each one, felt like a test. That I had to guess what he wanted. That I was too consumed with pleasing him as a sign of my gratitude. I told him how they paraded me on their arms and showed me off while they treated me so cheaply in their own ways when there were no eyes. How I lost myself in trying to mold me into what they wanted me to be. How they made me pull away from my family. How they taught me to hide and deceive. Everything. 

Every time Joffrey yelled at me, the next day I'd receive a bauble and a heartfelt apology. 

Every time I caught Harry with some one else, he'd come crawling back to me, telling me that he respected me too much to take liberties from me, so he sated his needs from nameless women rather than pressure me. 

I looked down and started playing with the hem of my dress. "I tried to break up with him whenever I caught him, but he told me he loved me and confessed that he... he had an addiction."

I felt his body beneath me stiffen, his hands clenching the slightest where he held me. I knew that if I moved away from his lap, he'd hold me tighter before he'd let me go if I asked him. I almost asked him because I felt like perishing in shame from what I was going to say next, but in his arms I felt safe. 

I bit my lip and hid behind my hair as I ducked low. "I thought that when I gave myself to him...he'd stop. He did for awhile. But I wasn't...I wasn't enough."

I heard him take a pained breath and felt him shake - probably with rage. I kept my eyes closed even as I felt the tears forming. "I only gave myself to him once. I swear it was voluntary. There were other ways...He didn't... he didn't hurt me at least never that way and I thought... I thought that it was going well. We were happier. It's true. But... he still strayed."

I felt his control fraying and I thought about how Robb and Renly felt when they found out. A close family friend of mine I haven't introduced yet, beat Robb in getting to Harry, almost getting himself arrested. But he spared Robb from it. Robb was already sent of with a warning when he punched Joffrey. Everyone was shocked when they found out. Harry was a great actor. Everyone approved of him, and that was what made it worse to cut him off my life when everyone liked him. He was a piece of work, but he wasn't the worse. I told him all of that too.

Suddenly, I felt a hand that was so gentle, leading my head to rest on his neck, while his other wrapped around my middle more securely. He started stroking my hair as I sniffled a little. "Sansa I - before I say anything, why do I have a feeling there's more?"

So lastly, I told him about the black haired boy with eyes that were more white than blue who came looking like he wanted to be saved but was actually the predator in disguise. 

"Ramsey...he was different. He didn't swoop in like a prince or acted like a hero. He wasn't even the kind that got himself in trouble just for the sake of it. Mostly, I thought him misunderstood. At first, I just wanted to try to be a friend to him. Oh he rejected me a lot, that prideful person. He didn't accept any help I offered until eventually I wore him down. It was really just friendship at first, and then he started becoming...charming..." I swallowed bitterly.

Jon kept nodding but I knew he had an idea where this was going. I didn't want to tell him, having an idea how he would react but I had to. I had to show him all of me.

"Things were fine and I knew Robb hated him and warned me. Everyone warned me. But I had already fallen to his charms and I thought that he wouldn't hurt me, not when I've been nothing but kind and patient with him. And I thought that this time, it would be different because everything was different from my previous relationship. But that was until..." I stopped and my hands gripped at my knees. 

"Until?"

I shut my eyes. "Until he started asking for...more."

He made me look at him then, his body rigid but his hands gently holding my face as if the slightest touch would break me. His eyes filled with emotions I didn't want to see. Pity. Anger. Sadness. He will never look at me the same way before he knew all of these. 

"Sansa, did he - " he struggled.

I shook my head. "No one since Harry. No one since that one time. I wasn't ready. I told him that. He got mad - really mad. It was the first time I saw his fury. We were... we were parked in the middle of a forest... we were fooling around then but before that he promised me we won't go further than what I wanted. He even let me drive so I'd believe him that I had the control. But then he asked for more and I said no. He tried to - he tried... I fought him. I swear I did, and then I felt my head hit the steering wheel. I got dizzy that I didn't notice him start the car, put in in drive, and pressed the accelerator before he jumped off and ran. I - I barely had time to jump out myself before the car crashed against a tree. I was too shocked and scared. Next thing I knew, I ran and ran until I hitched a ride to go to my brother's."

I didn't wait for his reaction and started sobbing against him then, taking comfort in his arms and his gentle kisses to my hair. He didn't say anything and I was grateful because I didn't want to hear reassurances or promises of revenge. He seemed to understand what I needed and I was so so grateful. Maybe the gods took pity on me finally. I kept waiting for him to leave me. Too afraid to give him anything that I couldn't take back. Too afraid to break and shatter when I was starting to feel whole again. I tried to push him away. Gods, did I try even if I wanted nothing but for him to come closer. 

This was the last of them - the last thing I kept from him. I was afraid to share this, fearing that this would be too much for him. I didn't know his whole story, but I knew. It was in the way his eyes held something tightly. Something deep. He was going through something himself. Would he have enough space in himself for me and my own baggage? When I reversed the question, for me it wasn't a point of deliberation. I would welcome him. I wanted to help him too. I wanted him to feel even a fraction of what he makes me feel and more. I wanted him to feel everything too. He makes me so happy, I want to make him happy too. 

But he was still here. 

And he didn't pull away - only held me closer.

And then he started talking. 

"My mother died three years ago," he started. 

I looked up at him then and saw him smiling at me sadly as he played with my hair, his other hand resting gently on my neck. "She ran away from home heavy with me and sought refuge with the Daynes in Starfall," he continued.  "I don't know why they were loyal to my mother but they kept her secret," he shrugged. "My mother chose to name us Snow, you know what that meant before right? There where you're from?"

My heart clenched as I nodded sadly. Bastard from the North. He chuckled softly and brushed his thumb to the furrow in my brow. "Don't. It was her secret joke. Tasteless I know but it was hers. I had an idea that my mother was raised like a noblewoman, or at least she was from a family that were above average. Anyway, she told me as much that she was from the North and she raised me how she was raised despite trading snow for sand. It was her way of truly starting a new life without letting go of who she was - at least the core of it. She also said... it was better to think that we were the bastard family of some house in the North because a powerful name could be as much a curse as a blessing. And she wanted me to experience freedom."

I nodded and didn't try to look too offended which wasn't hard because there was some truth to that. 

He laughed again and sighed. "Sorry. I meant no offense."

"None taken."

He sighed. "She had her reasons and though she promised to tell me if I asked, I never did."

"No?" I looked at him confused.

He traced my cheek with the back of his finger while he shook his head. "My mother never gave me a reason not to trust her. And to the best of her ability, she made sure that I was never left wanting. She loved me so much to shield me away from something. Who was I to question the life she chose for us? I only wanted to make things easier for her always. I never felt that I was missing much, not when you have a mother like my mother was. Even if I only met my father the day she died."

I felt like crying for him or be angry for him. But he wasn't done yet and looking at him I saw that his walls were falling too. 

He looked away then but one of his hands slipped against mine, twining his fingers with my own, his thumb caressing the back of my hand as if I was the one that needed reassuring. 

"Jon," I whispered, my other hand clutching at his chest. He faced me then, his eyes intense but his smile was warm and wide. He leaned up and kissed me once. 

"I never knew my father. And...to his credit, he didn't know about me. But when we fetched my mother's body from the hospital, we shared something. We both grieved for my mother. It was only a day but I saw that he loved my mother even if I found out that they weren't allowed to be in love. He was married when they met. They fell in love. And then she left. She even faked her own death," he rolled his eyes. "It was so my mother. Reckless. Stubborn. But willing to sacrifice for the greater honor - well, other's honor. I never found out her full reason but she must have had a good reason." He sighed then looked back at me and for the first time I saw pain. 

I brought my hand to his cheek and he closed his eyes, bringing a hand up to keep it there. "There was only one time I asked my mother where my father was. I was six then. She told me that my father was alive but he didn't know about us. I asked her why and she admitted because she kept us a secret. Again, she promised me then that she would tell me everything I wanted to know - she would never keep me from wanting to know every truth, I only just needed to ask. But before she would answer my questions, she told me to trust her that she has very good reasons even if they were part selfish but she wanted me to know that they were all borne out of love," he paused and took a deep staggered breath. 

"But then I saw her eyes were very sad and though I didn't understand fully well at that time, I understood enough that talking about it made her sad. So I got up, hugged her, told her that I love her and that she was all I needed. And I never asked again."

I kissed his cheek. "You were very sweet even when you were so so young. I know your mother was very proud of you - what you did, it would make her know that she raised you right."

He blushed under my palm and kissed me back. "Yeah?"

I smiled at him and nodded fervently. "Yes. Look at you. You're brave. gentle. strong," I said in between small kisses across his face. "Everything my father always wanted for me. Your mother did a wonderful job."

He pulled away and cradled my face with both of his hands and the look he gave me was so powerful that I could only stare back at him. "What about you? You're not just beautiful on the outside. In fact it's who you are on the inside that's achingly beautiful that it bleeds out and makes you damn radiant on the outside. You're..." he shudders. "You're amazing, Sansa. Really, you are. I could go on and on about your many qualities but it would be easier to get a thesaurus and hand all the pages that had positive adjectives." 

I ducked down feeling embarrassed. "Your'e just being nice."

He wouldn't have that. He tilted my head back up and made me face him. His thumb caressed my cheek as one hand slid down to cradle the back of my neck. "Sansa, I don't know how to make you believe me. If I could turn back time and prevent you from meeting little shites who can't see you for who you are I would. I still find it unbelievable that they can't see how lucky they were to have someone like you." He scoffed. "Or maybe they do see you and they're scared of the day you find out that you are too good for them so they made you feel small and worthless while they could. Bloody fuckers," he cussed.

My mouth quirked a little. "Jon," I admonished.

He smiled at me sheepishly. "Sorry. But damn it, Sansa don't deny it. They are shites. Your brother says so too." 

I frowned and looked away. "And I'm the fool who fell for them anyway. Everyone saw them for who they are. But I couldn't."

He tutted. "Sansa, it's because you have a big heart. You see the good before the bad. That's not a bad thing."

I bit my lip. 

He sighed and made me face him again, leaning his forehead against mine. "Sansa, I know that what they did to you made you guard your heart so closely. I don't blame you. I want to hunt them all down and make them pay for every tear you shed for them but I know that your family already made sure they won't so much as look at you. I know you think they took so much from you but sweetheart, though what they got from you were probably the best they could ever hope to have, they were only fractions of what you can still offer." 

He leant back and grinned at me, his eyes showing nothing but admiration. "Sansa, from the moment we first wrote each other, I knew I wanted to see you. And every day, every little new thing that you allow me to see only makes you more beautiful in my eyes as if that was still possible to happen. And I know what you were doing. You were trying so hard to make me run away but sweet girl," he paused to bring my hands over his heart and keep them pressed there with his. "The fact that you were willing to bring down your walls one by one no matter how slowly, to let me see you makes me feel so honored. So very honored to have the privilege of meeting someone as brave, gentle, and strong and lovely in all the ways lovely can be. Everything, my mother wanted me to have."

The tears fell quick then and he kissed each one but he wasn't done yet. How could there be more? I don't think my heart could be filled any more. 

"Sansa," he said so softly. "I'm so flattered that you think I am what your father wants for you. But even now, even if I believe you for your word, I still don't feel I deserve you." 

I opened my mouth to protest and shook my head briskly but he steadied my face and kissed me once. "Sansa... when my mother died, she left two letters. One for my father and that's how he found us. And another had a note attached saying that the letter contained every answer I didn't ask to have. What I'm saying is that, my father may be someone important in the world, I know, and my mother may be someone important too - that I never found out. But the day I asked my mother when I was six, I already made peace with living the life my mother gave me - living the life as a Snow. I was born a Snow, and I will die a Snow. I never needed anything from my father, and my mother gave me everything I could ever need and want on her own. Point is, I never felt the need to open the letter. I don't need to think about the life I could've had or could have. But..."

He leant back and took something out of his pocket, opened my palm and I only had a moment to realize what he was doing. 

"Jon no - "

But he pressed his mother's letter in my hand and wrapped both of his hands over mine, trapping it. "If this is one way to make me a little closer to what is deserving of you, I'll open it. I'll reach out to my mother's family and see if they'll accept me. I'll even reach out to my father if that's what it takes," he looked at me so desperately that I was on the verge of panicking as he was. 

And just like that it was all suddenly clear to me. 

He loves me.

No games or simple acts of infatuation. 

Every hint in all his notes and actions passed as casual were only for my benefit. 

He truly meant it all.

Every word. 

He loves me. 

Even now that I laid my heart and soul out bare to him, he still wants me.

The night sky cracked a blinding white followed by the rolling thunder, momentarily shielding me from his pleading eyes, shocking me to action.

Another flash came and then I knew I love him too.

Without breaking his gaze, I gently pulled away from him, feeling the ache of losing the tiniest feel of him but I had to do this. Though I wanted to return his letter right away, I knew he wouldn't take it back - at least not yet. So I kept it in one hand, before my other hand moved to my left dress pocket - the pocket I always kept empty until recently where I tried to hide something as inconspicuously as possible.  

I stood in front of him and saw that he was so tense - so very tense as he observed every little thing I was doing.

I felt like trembling but I had to be brave. Brave as he said I was. So I stepped closer and it was my turn to open his palm. 

First I bent down to kiss his palm making his breath hitch. Next I placed his mother's letter which he started protesting but I shook my head and he relented. Lastly, I spread out one letter on top of it and looked up at him again. 

His eyes flew wide open when he realized what it was and then his confusion came next. 

I placed another letter and spread it on top of the other and some realization flickered in his eyes and they softened. 

I made another step closer, our noses almost touching as I ducked down and traced over the letter and pointed to the almost fading letters, starting to wear out from being read and reread too many times. The first letter carried the first time he signed with his first name. The second, when he finally signed with his full name. 

Jon.

Jon Snow.

"This. This is the name of the guy I've been saying yes to. The very same guy I am and will continue saying yes to. No one else," I looked up at him. 

Another crack and rumble tore through the air and sky and the next thing I knew I was whisked in his arms and was being kissed wonderfully mercilessly, and I did all that I could to keep up as desperately as I felt too. 

I was too busy consuming and being consumed by him to distinguish if the wetness I felt dripping on my face and neck were from tears or if it was finally raining. 

But he was more aware of his presence as he suddenly hitched me up by my knees, my legs wrapping around his waist as he quickly pressed me on the wall of my little alcove in the balcony to shield us from the heavy downpour. 

The first rain of autumn.

We pulled away just enough to see our faces, our hair was splattered everywhere while tears or water ran down our face and body. But despite that, we were smiling so ridiculously wide and unaffected whatsover. 

I wanted to tell him right then and there that I love him and I could tell he wanted it too. But before we could say anything, another big flash and the loudest and longest thunder interrupted and the lights went off. 

Instead, we found ourselves laughing, our arms tightening as we held each other close, the wetness not withstanding. While the lights flickered back on.


Jon

 

As if Sansa couldn't surprise me any more, she did the impossible. 

Now that she was in my arms and I was holding her the way I wanted to hold her for so long, I never want to let go.

I was ready - ready to be a Targaryen if that's what it took. 

Ready to be whoever my mother was, if it would make me even remotely close up her league. 

It's not that I thought her shallow. 

She never, not once, made me feel less about myself or showed that things like those mattered to her. 

But once upon a time, she was filled with nothing but stories, and songs,  and dreams of princes and happily ever afters in castles. But time and time again, she was betrayed to the point that she had to keep these desires tucked away in the dark and kept her expectations low.

It wasn't because I felt that any of this would matter to her in the end. It wasn't even because of my self-pity. I was proud of my upbringing. Proud of my name. Proud of what I'm doing. 

It's just that... with Sansa... being with her makes me strive for more and more and more. I had an idea that her exes took things away from her but I never knew how much they took until now.

And seven hells, I didn't just want to give her back what she lost. No. I wanted to give her everything.

The moon. 

The stars.

The world.

Everything.

Even if she doesn't ask for anything more than time and a little control, I was desperate. Desperate to keep her. 

And my heart was full when she put down all her walls finally and let me in - let me know her secrets - her reasons for guarding her heart. That was when I knew that little by little, she was giving me her heart, piece by beautiful piece. 

And it was only right that I force her to finally take mine too as it was ready for her to simply take for so long, maybe even from the beginning. So I gave her another thing that I've never given anyone ever. 

I told her about my mother. And once again, I offered her my heart on a silver platter with my mother's secrets so she'd know that I don't want to keep anything more from her. It was only right because she was doing the same, yes, but more because I simply want her to. 

I already felt that she loves me.

But selfishly, I wanted more. 

I wanted her to love all of me. Even the lives I could've lived but denied to claim.

And by placing my letters, worn out and in her person for gods know how long all along, I knew, I knew. 

Sansa Stark loves me.

All of me.

I held her tighter and burrowed my face in her neck and I noticed that Sansa smelled impossibly better in the rain. 

And suddenly my eyes shot open when I smelled something new. "You smell like cherries."

She pulled away slightly and made to move down so I let her. 

With her came the letters tumbling almost to the floor but she caught them before they reached it - miraculously they were only slightly damp. I felt like crying again that she busied herself with worrying about them only because they were my letters. 

And then when she reached for my hand and looked up at me with a look I couldn't name I knew I spoke to soon in saying that she couldn't surprise me more.

Without breaking eye contact with me, she walked backwards only slightly, my hand still held tightly by hers, and then all the air left my lungs in one sharp intake as she pushed her balcony doors open and moved until one foot was inside her bedroom where the sudden waft of her new scent came strong - its source I could see the outline of beside her bed - held by the distinct red pot that bore my handwriting glaring at me from my periphery.

My heart started picking up when I realized what she was asking. 

I searched her eyes, trying to see if this was what she really wanted - if there was any sign of doubt but all I saw were yesses. 

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

I wanted to say I love her but I knew we could do better than words and I knew she thought the same.

She tugged at my hand and asked again with her eyes but she already knew my answer even weeks ago. I just wanted to make sure she was truly ready.

And right now, she was. 

So when she took another sure step backwards - this time, I followed.