"May have found another one, Stark," a familiar voice speaks close to her ear, and Sansa lifts her head, blinks in surprise at the sight of Gendry Waters, standing in front of her desk with a file.
Gendry is a good kid. He's a probie from the Stormlands division, who, for some god awful reason, requested King's Landing as his base of operations for the next two years of his career. He arrived all of three months ago, and spends most of his time fetching coffee and being as helpful as an overeager puppy, but that's better than some of the probies who come through here, thinking that their work is beneath them and that their opinions should have merit with agents who have ten years' experience on them.
Though, Sansa supposes, she had also requested King's Landing, once upon a time. She supposes that to people who live outside of this city, it is the sought after location in terms of exciting work.
Sansa would give anything to be stationed somewhere in the boring North, these days. Or even in the Vale, where nothing is ever reported and the division there has the lowest success rate in Westeros because of the lack of cooperation.
Anything to escape King's Landing and the condescending obsession of her supervisor, Petyr Baelish.
Sansa blinks. "Sorry, what?"
Gendry holds a manila folder out to her, and Sansa takes it, flipping it open and grimacing at the gruesome picture inside.
She's gotten used to the sight of gruesome deaths over the years, working in the Violent Crimes division of one of the most violent cities in Westeros, but Sansa likes to think that some part of her is still unable to desensitize to the things she saw.
But there's something to be said for stab wounds that drag from the heart down the chest to the stomach, with all of the insides of a man falling out around him.
Sansa grimaces. "Another what?" she asks. This looks more like Brienne's case than her own.
Gendry gives her an odd look. "Another black widow," he says, and pulls out another file. Sansa's not entirely sure where he was hiding it. He hands it to her, and Sansa scans this one a little more carefully. Accounts cleaned out at the moment of his death, all went to an unnamed account but only the wife would have had access at the time, yes, it sounded like a possible black widow to her.
"Do we have a name?" she asks.
She hears Gendry's confusion in his voice before she looks up. "Your black widow."
Sansa glances up sharply. "What?"
"Your black widow," Gendry repeats, brows creasing now. "The Rose."
Sansa bites back a laugh, and then realizes he's serious.
"This isn't my black widow's usual MO," Sansa says, voice flat as she flips the page to another picture. "She's not usually this...violent with her victims."
It's true. As much as one can admire a woman who marries her victims and then sucks all of their money into an offshore account before leaving them dead and ruined, Sansa has always respected that at least this woman isn't cruel in her execution. She knows it's not something she should be admiring, but that doesn't stop her.
Knowing what's wrong doesn't seem to stop Sansa at all, these days, and she wonders whether that's a byproduct of this horrible town, this job, or if it's just the way the world is wheedling away at what was once a much more naive girl.
There are plenty of black widows whose cases have crossed Sansa's desk, because she's the unofficial agent on which all such cases are foisted since the first time she showed how dedicated (obsessed) she is over them, who are hardly so kind.
She's been following this woman for years, piecing together a story that she only has half the information for, but she knows this woman, somewhat, and she doesn't think her black widow gets off on the violence. Her marks are traditionally not the nicest of men, according to their family and friends, but Sansa doesn't think it's that, either. It's the money she's after, though Sansa thinks maybe it's the thrill of the hunt, as well. The perfect con.
Gendry shrugs. "Looks like her," he says. "I found a picture of the wife on my computer."
Sansa is on her feet in an instant. She can't breathe. There hasn't been a break in her case in months. "Show me," she says, and Gendry leads her back to his desk, at the far end of the room, where all of the probies are shoved together.
The photo sits, blown up, on Gendry's shitty computer, and Sansa doesn't have to squint to make the face of the woman walking arm in arm with her current mark, husband, whichever you prefer.
Sansa recognizes the man, despite the fact that his innards are still intact in this photo. He's smiling, too, which is a pleasant change, and Sansa tries not to think about the fact that the woman he's smiling at probably killed him.
Because Gendry is right, and this is the woman she's after. Margaery, whose smiling at her husband like she doesn't have a care in the world, isn't thinking about killing him the moment he has her name in his will.
"What's his name?" Sansa asks, still breathless.
"Renly Baratheon," Gendry informs her, picking up on her excitement. "This photo is eight years old, but that's her beside him, isn't it? Your black widow?"
Sansa nods. "That's her," she confirms. "That's Margaery."
They're told, in training, not to use the suspect's first names if they have a surname. Not to humanize them like that when there's a choice. It fucks with an agent's head, and it's better to just think of their suspect as a case.
Sansa started calling Margaery by her name the moment she had a name. She knows it's wrong, and she can't do a damn thing about it.
All of this swirls through Sansa's head, and that's why it takes her a moment to connect the dots.
"When did you say this was taken?" Sansa asks.
Gendry hands her the file again. "The photo is from their anniversary in Dorne, eight years ago," he tells her. "And Renly Baratheon turned up dead that week."
Sansa sucks in a breath.
"But that would make this her first mark," Sansa says, almost whispering, no longer looking at Gendry now, speaking mostly to herself. "Which might explain why she was so sloppy." They'd never found a photo of Margaery with any of her victims before. "And that she probably knew this one."
She looks up, eyes bright with excitement. Gendry grins back at her, slightly less excited, but mirroring hers well enough. It isn't his case, after all, but everyone at the office knows how invested in this case Sansa Stark is.
Elinor Tyrell is Margaery's longest standing relationship.
The Bureau only knows about her because Margaery wants them to know about her, Sansa writes in her reports, but this always goes unheeded, and she always finds herself knocking on Elinor's door after every break in the case, or even when there isn't a break, but Baelish wants Sansa to find one and thinks she would benefit from another interview with "Margaery's weakness."
But, as she writes in her reports, Elinor isn't a weakness. Because Elinor, no matter how many threats of aiding and abetting Sansa throws at her, but never follows through on because she doesn't have evidence even there (Margaery makes certain of that), won't divulge a single bit of information about her sometimes lover.
Sansa knows; the first time she met Elinor, it was when she was dragging her in for interrogation, and anyone who can survive 72 hours of interrogation under Ramsay Bolton, who terrifies Sansa on the best of days, isn't going to suddenly break and reveal every secret of her serial killer girlfriend.
Still, Sansa goes where Baelish tells her to go, and when he asks her to jump, she asks, "How high?" every time, no matter how many times Brienne shakes her head at this and tells Sansa that she should write him up for sexual harassment and get him the seven hells out of the Violent Crimes division.
She can't explain to Brienne why she doesn't, why, even though just the thought of Baelish makes her skin crawl, she will never write him up for anything, even if it means becoming an accessory to corruption, as she's slowly beginning to suspect might happen.
That is the sort of loyalty that can't be earned, and Sansa knocks on Elinor's door the day after they discover the newest break in Sansa's case.
Elinor lives in a shitty apartment in Flea Bottom. She couldn't afford better, with her minimum wage job in retail, but her family certainly could, and Sansa still doesn't understand why Elinor does not reach out to them.
Sansa wishes she could reach out to her parents, to her brother, but they're dead, and she still makes paltry attempts to reach out to the two of her siblings who remain. Bran isn't interested in communicating with anyone, too busy listening to the trees, a statement that Sansa has never tried to unpack, but at least she can have a civil conversation with Arya now.
She climbs up the stairs to Elinor's room because the elevator in her shitty apartment building doesn't work most days, and she's not in the mood to try it out; at least the long walk will give her time to think up new questions to ask, ones that she hasn't asked a thousand times.
When she knocks on Elinor's door, there's a long pause, and Sansa is almost relieved that Elinor is not there and she can go back to the office and call this a bust when the door opens.
Elinor peeks out, and then grins at her. Across the hall, Sansa eyes what she is pretty sure is a drug deal going down out in the open, but she doesn't bother to flash her badge until she has Elinor's attention. The drug deal quickly moves behind closed doors.
"Agent Stark," Elinor says, with that wide grin, as if she's actually happy to see Sansa. Sansa can't imagine why she would be. "Come to interrogate me again?"
Sansa gives her a look. "Just routine questions," she says smoothly.
Elinor opens her door wider. "You make it sound so sexy, Agent Stark," she says, and invites Sansa into her apartment.
Sansa raises an eyebrow at that. She's never been able to tell what to make of Elinor Tyrell. She doesn't know if the girl feels guilty about her association with a known serial killer, or if she's indifferent; she doesn't know if Elinor cares about Margaery's unfaithfulness, or if she's all right with the concept of her sometimes lover marrying and fucking everyone she comes into contact with.
Elinor never lets anything deeper than the shallow flirting she does with Sansa influence her face, never gives away more than the most complex of tells, and Sansa hates and admires that about her.
"Have a seat," Elinor says, gesturing to one of the two chairs in the room as she grabs herself a beer. She offers one to Sansa, who declines. "No drinking on the job?" Elinor asks, pouting.
Sansa glances around the room. It hasn't changed since the last time she was here. There's the picture of Elinor and her fiancé, grinning widely at the camera as they tour Sunspear; the fiancé left when she turned her back on the Tyrells, no longer interested in his future wife without her family backing her, but Elinor, the one time Sansa asked about this, didn't seem bothered by that fact.
No sign of Margaery enters Elinor's apartment, though Sansa suspects that she does come here, even if she can't prove it and can't get another warrant. (They did surveillance on this place for a month once and never found anything.)
"Something like that," Sansa says, hugging her knees as she leans forward and eyes Elinor.
Elinor sighs, takes a swig of her beer. "What can I do for you, Agent Stark?" she asks.
Sansa bites her lip, tracks Elinor tracking the motion, and flattens her lips. "Have you had any contact with Margaery lately, Elinor?" she asks the obligatory question.
Elinor smirks. "Nope." She pops the 'P' sound, and Sansa tries not to roll her eyes. She's not entirely sure she succeeds.
"Do you know where she is?"
"Why would I know where she is if I haven't had contact with her?" Elinor asks.
Sansa bites the inside of her cheek. "Do you know who her newest mark is?"
Elinor takes another swipe of her beer. "I don't know anything about Margaery's marks, Agent Stark."
Sansa sighs. "When was the last time you saw Margaery?"
Elinor shrugs. "Uh, it's been a while."
Sansa does roll her eyes, this time. "The past year?"
"Might have been longer."
Give Sansa a cold case any day. No, come to think of it; when this case came to her originally, it was a cold case.
Sansa sighs again. "Elinor, you do realize that if it comes to light that you have information about a wanted fugitive, you could serve time for it?"
Elinor smiles at her. "I doubt that, Agent Stark. I have a good lawyer."
"On minimum wage pay?" Sansa asks dubiously. Margaery's lawyer, maybe. She'll make a note to have Pod look into it. She knows they won't find anything, that there will be a random trust fund paying the lawyer, and nothing will come back to Margaery, but she has to try.
Elinor shrugs. "Is that all, Agent Stark?" she asks.
"You have somewhere to be?" Sansa asks.
"I don't want to miss my show," Elinor deadpans.
Sansa doubts she'd even get the name of it out of Elinor.
"Did Margaery break into my apartment two years ago?" she asks anyway.
Elinor eyes her. "I wouldn't know anything about that, Agent," she says amiably. "But I don't see why she would. That would be awfully risky."
Sansa thinks that means she did. She stands, smoothes down the skirt she wore to make herself look less threatening. She doesn't think Elinor ever saw her as threatening. It's infuriating.
"You should tell her, if you care about her at all, that she's in way over her head with Euron Greyjoy," Sansa warns, turning back from the door.
Elinor takes a rather long sip of her beer. She doesn't know it, but that's a tell, one of the few Sansa's ever gotten from her, and Sansa narrows her eyes in satisfaction that feels much more hollow than it should.
"Eur-who?" Elinor asks.
Sansa merely raises a brow.
Elinor shakes her head, looking...disappointed, almost. "What makes you think I'm still in contact with her?" she asks.
Sansa leans forward, peering at her. "You are," she says, and Elinor looks a little startled, and then grins.
"She talks about you a lot, you know," Elinor says, still grinning, and Sansa fights the urge to grind her teeth. There's nothing she can do about the fact that Elinor and Margaery speak; Margaery is smart enough not to say anything about where she is or anything else incriminating over a phone conversation, so there's no use in filing for a warrant to bug Elinor's phones.
She tried that, once, and got chewed out by Baelish for her trouble, for wasting the Bureau's resources for a week and gaining nothing from it. Elinor seemed to delight in spending that week on the phone with every customer service she could find.
"I'm sure," Sansa says dryly.
Elinor gives her a wounded look. "You don't believe me?"
Sansa eyes her. "What would she have to say about me?" she asks, even as her heart thuds at the prospect of getting an answer. Of finally figuring out what Margaery thinks of her.
"She'd like to arrange a meeting," Elinor says, grinning at her somewhat impishly, and stands to her feet, walks over to Sansa, holds out a small, black card that materializes out of nowhere.
Sansa is not surprised at all to see the perfect calligraphy the invitation is written in, nor is she surprised to see an outline of a black rose around the lettering.
Sansa looks up without reading the words. "Why?" she asks suspiciously. If Margaery wants a meeting and went to the trouble of making this card, then she knew Sansa was coming to see Elinor soon. She wants this meeting to happen, and something about that makes Sansa want to get up and walk out of the dingy apartment Elinor lives in.
Elinor's smile dims, slightly. "She thinks it's about time."
Sansa doesn't know how to respond to that, for a moment. Then, because it's her job, because she's been obsessing over this woman for years and can't resist the temptation, because she has to, "Where and when?"
The first time the black widow's case file falls on Sansa's desk, she's been in King's Landing for three years and already closed one such case, and every other one which crossed her desk. She has one of the best records in the Violent Crimes division, and half a dozen other divisions are trying to steal her away.
She doesn't go. She says it's because she likes working in Violent Crimes, and doesn't think anyone believes her, even when she cites the many friends she has made here.
"They're like my family," she tells the head of Organized Crime, and ignores the snort the man gives when he sees the way Baelish leers at her not fifteen minutes later.
Brienne tosses it to her, begging for a trade, ("I'll take another domestic abuse off your hands, Agent Stark, I'm in the mood to beat down some asshole,") and because Sansa knows that Jaime Lannister left her (again) for his (other) lady friend, the one everyone whispered about but no one dared to name, she agrees.
Besides, her eyes are starting to bleed from how many cases of domestic violence she's looked at in the last week. There are times when she really hates her job.
She doesn't have a name, at the moment. The agents who find the cases like to give their suspects some moniker, but this one is empty of that. Just a thin file, without even a face to pin it to, and a small write up from some probie who no longer works in Violent Crimes about how the widow's two known marks, Joffrey Baratheon and Aegon Targaryen, had been found, as well as a psychological profile of their killer.
The write up claims that she's a sociopath who derives sexual pleasure from seducing weak willed, wealthy men and then murdering them. Sansa tosses it out before she's finished reading it, because she's dealt with cases where the black widow did get off from what she did to her victims, and those victims were usually mutilated.
This black widow leaves her victims strangled, with a black rose inside their open mouths, and blue rocks from Dorne on their eyes, and no DNA ever linking to a suspect. Sansa tries to figure out if there's any significance to the rocks, if this black widow is from Dorne, and is stonewalled by the Dornish Bureau despite every effort.
The Dornish are still pissed off that they are forced by tariffs and legalities to remain a part of Westeros, even though they haven't actively tried to break off in three hundred years.
She finally figures out that the rocks are just that, rocks, and can be found in the Reach and in the Iron Islands, as well. It's disappointing, but she's worked with less before, and Sansa likes a challenge.
She obsesses over the case. Her suspect, whoever she is, is interesting; unlike the suspects in the last three cases Sansa has been handed. She's almost surprised Baelish gave her a case like this, but then, she supposes, he can't keep throwing shit cases at her forever, or Brienne or Mya are going to walk straight into the Director's office and let Daenerys herself know about it.
She really does have something of a patchwork family here, Sansa is surprised to realize.
She figures out that her suspect seems to have no problem killing, and that leads her to believe that her suspect has probably killed more than the two they've connected to this "Black Rose," imaginative name, so far.
She wishes she'd come across this case before the idiot who had it last, because then at least she could give the Black Rose a more interesting name.
Whoever her suspect is, Sansa knows, she doesn't do this because she gets off on the killings, and that just makes her more fascinating, because Sansa can't understand her motives at all.
Perhaps it's the money, the stuff that is filtered into an offshore account, and then pushed through several more before it disappears altogether, but Sansa doesn't think that's it, either. The Rose went by two different names when she was married to Aegon and Joffrey, and there were no pictures at their weddings, and none of their relatives seem up to remembering the woman their family member was married to.
Sansa runs the names through a database, but Rosalyn Fairess and Kairen Madell are so obviously aliases that she knows she won't find anything on them. She's right; they don't exist from before the marriages, which technically means that the marriages didn't exist either, but Sansa supposes that doesn't matter now; the families certainly aren't getting their money back.
So maybe it is the money, but Sansa thinks it's the thrill of the con itself, motivating her black widow. Which is almost more disturbing than the thought that she gets off on the murders, because it means she's indifferent to human life completely.
Sansa shakes her head, runs through the files again. She's been chasing this girl for years, and is no closer to catching her than she's ever been.
Except now she has a half torn theater stub, and suddenly it's like she's struck gold. Because, written in pencil on the edge of the stub is the name Rosalyn Fairess.
It might be nothing, and she might be too late already, but Sansa is ecstatic. She doesn't notice the rest of her division packing up and heading home for the night. She doesn't notice anything, after calling the theater and asking if Ms. Fairess happened to claim her seat tonight, and if she would be there again the next night.
It might be a distraction, she reminds herself. Rosalyn, or Kairen, whatever her name truly is, is very good at those. She's lead Sansa on a merry chase these last few years, racketing up two more men to her list. Sansa both hates and admires her ability to spin circles around the Bureau, around Sansa.
Sansa's head jerks up from her computer screen, and she flushes a little at the leering look Petyr, her department supervisor, sends her from where he stands in front of her desk, a file in one hand and the keys to his private office dangling from the other.
It's dark in the office; everyone else is gone, and it's just the two of them left. Sansa hates this Black Rose a little for that.
"What were you so intent on, there?" he asks, sounding amused as he sits down on the edge of her desk and sets the coffee down next to his thigh.
Sansa bites her lip, belatedly realizing that only causes his leering look to grow more intense. "I think I may have finally found a lead on the Black Widow, sir."
"Really?" He leans over her shoulder, nose wrinkling when he reads what is on the screen. "A theater stub?"
She shrugs. "It's probably nothing," she admits. "But look at the corner."
He squints at the tiny lettering in the corner. "Rosalyn Fairess," he reads. Then, "Her alias when she killed Aegon Targaryen?"
Another reason why solving this case could mean everything for Sansa's career, another reason why she's so surprised that Baelish gave it to her. Aegon is the nephew of the Director of the Bureau, Daenerys Targaryen, and therefore the case holds special precedence with her.
Sansa even met her once, bumbling through an awkward meeting with the most powerful woman she knows. Daenerys is terrifying, and Sansa isn't going to fuck this case up, even if it means remaining in Violent Crimes, where she needs to be.
Sansa nods. "She must have burned her other ones," she muses, "or she can't get a new one." Which is all kinds of interesting, because she has never found a second case of the Black Rose using the same alias, which must mean that she doesn't make the identities herself and can't access her usual forger, or she wants to use the same one again.
Sansa can't think why she would, unless that initial report from years ago is correct and she is a sociopath, in it for the attention.
"The theater company said the second part of the production is going on this weekend, and it's likely that Ms. Fairess will return, as the ticket manager remembers the woman who signed the stub bought a ticket," Sansa rattles off.
Baelish's eyes widen. "Do they have cameras?"
Sansa shakes her head, a little despondent as she recalls the conversation. "No," she says, "and the ticket manager remembers her buying the ticket, but couldn't give an accurate description to a sketch artist."
"Damn," Baelish mutters, and Sansa doesn't think she's ever heard him swear before. He's a man in constant control of his emotions, his words; the one thing Sansa admires about him. She wishes she were that good at controlling her emotions to the outside world, though, she reflects, not if it means becoming the sort of person Petyr Baelish is.
"But if we could get someone in there this weekend, and she does return..." Sansa smirks. "We could collar her, finally."
He raises a brow. "Do you think she's predictable enough to come back a second time?"
Sansa shrugs. "It's worth a shot."
She thinks she is. The Black Rose is smart, but not as smart as she thinks she is, and she's a slave to the sensations of her own case in the same way that Sansa is, she's learned that much about this woman.
Besides, she can't resist the risk going back when the FBI might be after her will grant her, Sansa knows, and Sansa can't resist going to a place where her rose has been.
This is going to happen, either way.
Peter pauses, stroking his chin. Finally, "Good work, Agent Stark." He places a warm hand on her shoulder, and Sansa tries not to shrug it off, smiles instead, wonders if he knows how fake it is. He always seems so good at reading the emotions of everyone but her, and she doesn't know if that's self-delusion or if he's merely humoring her.
"Thank you, sir," she says. "Can I investigate it this weekend?"
Petyr gives her another one of his condescending smiles. He knew her mother, as he's fond of reminding her, and he hates putting her in the line of duty, or in any situation where she could prove her worth and get a promotion out of this hellhole of a job and out of his office. "I'm sure one of our junior agents can handle a bit of surveillance, Agent Stark," he tells her. "We needn't waste you on something that trivial."
Sansa feels her face fall at the words, though she's hardly surprised. He's never let her put herself in the line of danger when he can help it. Never let her put herself in the line of promotion, either.
"No offense, sir," she says, a paltry attempt, "but this is my collar."
Petyr smiles thinly at her. "This case belongs to everyone at the Bureau, Sansa," he reminds her. "Everyone has chipped in, in some way or another, over the years."
That's...not how the Bureau works, and they both know it.
"But it's my case," Sansa tries. "I..."
He reaches up, puts a finger to her lips. "Sansa."
It's both a warning and a prayer. Sansa wonders if he would fuck her here, in this office, in full view of the cameras watching them, if she stuck out her tongue and licked his finger. No, she decides, it's not worth finding out.
"You'll let Agent Stone handle this, is that understood?" he asks her, and Sansa sighs.
"Yes, sir," she says.
He nods, pleased, pulls his finger away from her lips. "I'm sure Mya will be happy to give you her wife beater case, in return."
Sansa thinks there's a message in his words, because Baelish never says one thing without meaning another, but she can't find it. She just nods, tiredly.
The sting goes horribly, and gives Sansa the chance to write up her boss, if she had a wish to. She doesn't, and Baelish doesn't question anything she does again for the next three months, fully aware of how thin the ice is he stands on. They don't catch the Black Rose. They don't get anything, not even the ticket stub for that performance. They lose the Rose before they even find her, but they find her date, a young woman named Elinor Tyrell, whom they detain for 72 hours under interrogation, but in the end they can't stick anything to her and can't scare her into giving anything up.
She maintains that she was not on a date, that she went to the theater alone and the beautiful woman with her tongue halfway down Elinor's throat during intermission was not someone she knew before she arrived there.
Sansa doesn't believe her, but she can't stick anything on her, so they let Elinor go with a warning. Elinor merely smirks and flirts her way out of the building.
But they do get a photograph, and that's more than Sansa has ever had before, and is worth a thousand times what the ticket stub was worth. The photo is shit, grainy and blurry and half in profile, taken from the cell phone of a man sitting behind the Rose and her not-date, but it brings up a match in the Bureau's facial recognition software anyway.
"Margaery Redwyne," Sansa breathes when the name comes up, disappointed when nothing else shows up with it, no priors, not even a parking ticket, and, worse than that, no official birth certificate and both hates and loves the way the name slides over her tongue.
She muses for a moment that this, too, is probably an alias, but she is too excited to let herself truly believe that.
She has a name, now. This case doesn't seem quite as impossible as it always has.
She's going to find this woman, and put her behind bars for a very long time.
"Jeyne?" Sansa calls softly, because it's late and Jeyne hasn't bothered to stay up to greet her the last four nights in a row. She was only up this late five months ago because her favorite show's finale was on.
Sansa tries to pretend it doesn't hurt her. She knows she has no right to be hurt by it; she's the one who chose this job, and the Bureau doesn't have a habit of sharing its agents. She knows how that's weighed on Jeyne, the last year. She was fine before that, claimed that she didn't mind Sansa's long hours as long as she did come home to her.
The change was a slow one; one night, Sansa came home to Jeyne sleeping. Tucked a blanket around her neck, smiled, kissed her forehead. Then, Jeyne started to complain. Asked if Sansa could ask for shorter hours, which Sansa refused to do, because she knew Baelish would agree, if she asked him. He'd be more than happy to.
And then Jeyne started taking sleeping pills, so that she didn't wake up when Sansa came home. Didn't ask Sansa about her day in the mornings, when Sansa left to go to work and Jeyne didn't.
Sansa knew this was coming, but she hasn't been paying enough attention. Hadn't realized that things were progressing so quickly.
When she walks into their apartment, Jeyne is sitting at the kitchen table, bags packed, hands clenched in her lap.
Sansa's ashamed that her breath doesn't even leave her at the sight.
Instead, she says, "You're leaving."
Jeyne purses her lips, doesn't stand. "You noticed, did you?" she asks, smiling wryly.
Sansa bites her lip. "That isn't fair," she murmurs.
Jeyne snorts, unimpressed. "Isn't it?" she asks. "I've been leaving for months, Sansa, you just didn't notice or care."
"I do care," Sansa whispers.
Jeyne rolls her eyes. "What's my favorite wine, Sansa?" she asks.
Sansa stares at her. She thinks she probably knew the answer to that question when they first met, two Northern girls come to King's Landing to make it big, but both so overwhelmed by this huge city and the number of scumbags in it.
Jeyne wanted to be a fashion designer, Sansa recalls. She can't recall her favorite wine, though, even if she's seen Jeyne order it a thousand times at every restaurant they go to. Something fruity, and low on the alcohol, because she can't handle alcohol like Sansa can.
"You know the Black Rose's," Jeyne says, when the silence grows too prolonged. "You know that she likes Chardonnay with her meals, and Dornish Red with her steak. You know that she prefers blonds to brunettes, and that, given the chance, she'll always take a risk to play games. You even know what her favorite sexual positions are in bed." Jeyne snorts. "When was the last time we even had sex, Sansa?"
Sansa can't remember, either. She can't even feel the loss, though she admits she's spent enough nights fucking herself with her fingers in the bathroom while Jeyne slept in the other room to know it's been a while.
Jeyne gives her a disgusted look, stands.
"Jeyne, I do love you," Sansa tries. "But you knew when we started dating that this job is my life."
Brienne at the Bureau had even given Jeyne a few warnings, in the beginning. Agents in the Bureau didn't have social lives; they worked hard cases, they caught bad criminals, and they wrote paperwork long hours into the night. They knew more about how their partners handled a gun than how their lovers liked their steak.
Jaime Lannister had never been a very jealous lover, and had one of those of his own to keep him from getting too bothered by the amount of work Brienne did.
Jeyne was not Jaime Lannister. She had said she understood, in the beginning, but Sansa realizes she never did, and Sansa never should have put someone like Jeyne through something like this.
"I'm sorry," she tries, but Jeyne just grabs up her bags and heads towards the door. She pauses in the doorway, turns back to Sansa.
"I'll have someone come by to get the rest of my things," she tells Sansa.
Sansa just nods, rubbing the back of her neck awkwardly.
"I hope she makes you happy, Sansa, when you finally catch her," Jeyne tells her, and Sansa flinches.
Jeyne walks out the door.
"Jeyne!" Sansa calls after her, trying to infuse some desperation into her voice for the sheer sake of it.
She used to have so much invested in this relationship, she used to love Jeyne in the sort of way that led to a long engagement and an eventual happy marriage, or at least, she thought she did. It seems wrong not to fight for it now, even if Sansa is ashamed to realize that she feels very little about their relationship now one way or another.
But at the moment, she can barely bring herself to voice a token protest as Jeyne hauls her bags onto the trolley the building has kindly provided and disappears into the elevator.
Sansa pounds her fist on the table. She feels more anger toward her cases than she does sadness at the loss of her girlfriend of a year and a half, and she thinks there is something very wrong with that.
Sansa looks up, and Arya is standing in the doorway, one eyebrow raised. "I ran into Jeyne in the hallway," she says, in that monotonous tone she has taken to using now, the one that implies she doesn't care when they both know she's only burying everything deep.
Sansa rubs her forehead. She forgot that Arya was coming over to visit tonight. If she hadn't gotten off work early tonight, she would have missed her completely, would have missed Jeyne leaving, and Sansa almost wishes the Black Rose could have had better timing and left her a body tonight.
She flinches at that thought, sighs. "Hey, Arya."
It's been a while. Arya only visits on her own time, not Sansa's, and if Sansa isn't around to see her, she doesn't stick around and wait, like Jeyne.
Or, like Jeyne used to, Sansa supposes, with a small sigh.
"You guys done?" Arya asks, walking into the apartment and closing the door behind her. She takes a seat on the futon across from the couch where Sansa is curled up in a fetal position, already passed the stages of denial or bargaining.
Sansa supposes that should tell her everything she needs to know about Sansa and Jeyne's relationship, and Arya misses nothing.
"She said I care more about the Black Widow than I do about her," Sansa says, despondent in her bottle of sherry, halfway gone even though she just pulled it out of the fridge. She drinks straight from the bottle. Sherry, like she's a fucking lightweight who can't handle anything stronger without passing out.
Jeyne likes sherry. That's why it's stocked in their apartment instead of the vodka that no one at the office believes Sansa can hold. Because Jeyne lives here, and Sansa just visits in between cases at her work.
She sags a little on the couch, and Arya sniffs, expression almost disdainful.
Sometimes, Sansa doesn't recognize the little sister she grew up with at all. She's starting to think Arya isn't capable of an emotion that doesn't include sarcasm in some degree or another.
"Do you?" Arya asks.
Sansa blinks at her, thinks about it before she can respond with what should have been an obvious and emphatic, "of course not."
"I don't know," she mutters, and realizes that Jeyne was right to leave her. She's a horrible girlfriend, and a worse person, and Jeyne should have left her years ago. "She said I know more about the Black Widow than I do about her, and she's right." She shrugs.
Arya looks at her, gets up, walks into the kitchen and grimaces at the sherry in the fridge. "You fucked up," she says, taking a swig of the stuff and grimaces in disgust. "And you need some fucking alcohol in your apartment, sis."
Sis, the affectionate name Arya used to call her when they were children, before Sansa realized she was a girl and Arya realized she didn't like playing dress up. Before their parents were murdered like animals.
Sansa is surprised to hear Arya call her "sis" again.
She knows Arya hasn't forgiven her yet. Knows that Arya probably won't forgive her, ever, because, whether Sansa knew what she was doing or not, she was a foolish little girl who contributed to their parents' deaths.
But Arya is still here, and that means something, even if she's not sure Arya thinks it does.
Even if Arya is probably the last person Sansa would want to comfort her over a breakup.
Sansa sighs, takes another sip and grimaces, ignoring the bark of laughter from her younger sister. "I need a new apartment," she says. "This one smells like Jeyne."
Arya takes a whiff. "It smells like one of those fucking Christmas tree air fresheners," she says. "That's what Jeyne smells like?"
Sansa barks out a laugh and realizes she's crying. She wipes awkwardly at her eyes, pretends Arya doesn't see.
Arya doesn't comment. She's good like that, though most of the time Sansa finds herself wishing she wasn't. Wishing that she recognized at all the young woman sitting in front of her, could reconcile her at all with the little girl in her mind.
They talk. Sansa cries through most of it, telling Arya about Jeyne and about the Black Rose whom she cares about more than Jeyne, and about their parents, eventually, late into the night when she's somehow managed to get drunk on the amount of sherry they have in the apartment.
She supposes that explains the number of sleeping pills Jeyne has, and Sansa is absurdly relieved that Jeyne got away while she still could.
Sansa talks about watching their father die, and Arya talks about what it was like to kill someone, to watch the light fade from Walder Frey's eyes, one of those responsible for their parents' deaths.
Sansa pretends she doesn't hear that, or that she's too drunk to take it in, because she's an FBI agent, and she has no interest in arresting her little sister when she remembers the scandal it caused in the Riverlands, Walder Frey's death.
Arya fades into the shadows when she leaves, not making a sound, and Sansa wonders if she barely notices her sister's absence because she's drunk or because that's just what she expects now, from Arya.
Sansa is left alone in the dark. She dreams that night of a rose, blackened by soot, crawling out of her throat as she withers away at her desk at the Bureau. She wakes up in a cold sweat, and throws away the rest of the sherry.
"I found a link!" Mya Stone hurries into the conference room. "Renly Baratheon was Joffrey's uncle."
Sansa's forehead wrinkles. "Joffrey's a Lannister," she states the obvious.
The Lannisters are not exactly the sort of family who keep themselves in the shadows, like some of the wealthier King's Landing families preferred.
And everyone knows that Joffrey is the son of Cersei Lannister, and probably of her brother Jaime, which is why the children took their mother's last name and no one asks too many questions about the years' long affair that saw Cersei Lannister scuttled off to the Westerlands each time her belly grew round with similar looking children.
Mya senses the question in Sansa's words, and slaps a file down in front of her. Sansa's eyes are starting to bleed, from the number of files she's been forced to read lately. Her fingers itch to hold a gun, to get back out into the field.
But Margaery has been lying low since she killed Dickon Tarly, left him strangled in his crystal bath tub in the Tarly mansion, a black rose crawling out of his mouth and minus several million dollars.
Sansa hates that she's become the sort of agent who wishes death on some poor bastard just so that she can get back out into the field.
There are other cases, of course, that she works on besides just Margaery's, but none of them are exciting. They're mostly wives, beaten to death by husbands wealthy enough to afford good lawyers, and there's no challenge in that, no justice, just a sad sense of the inevitable. Once in a while, there's a good serial killer, but they all lack the finesse of Margaery's kills.
Sansa shudders, lifts her head, opens the folder.
"What am I reading?" she asks Mya, because Mya is practically vibrating.
"Cersei Lannister entered into a marriage with Robert Baratheon twenty five years ago," Mya tells her, and Sansa's eyebrows shoot up at that.
The Baratheons used to be the most powerful family in King's Landing, before they died out and the Lannisters took their place and Stannis, the last of them, barricaded himself back in his home in the Stormlands. She should know this sort of thing.
She also should have known about Renly Baratheon, but then, that death is still bothering her, because it's nothing like Margaery's kills at all. That's why she's had Mya digging into it for the past week.
Mya hasn't found anything linking Margaery to Renly's death - no DNA evidence, no witnesses, but then, Sansa wasn't expecting her to.
Still, it's a bit disheartening that Mya hasn't found anything at all. They can't even find the marriage certificate with whatever alias Margaery likely used for it; it was burned in a fire at the town hall in the Stormlands where Renly was married, conveniently, several years ago.
Something about that niggles at the back of Sansa's brain, because Margaery's never gone to the trouble of destroying her marriage certificates before. Sansa has always thought she enjoys flaunting them, letting the FBI know that nothing about them will ever link Margaery to the killings, or the FBI to Margaery.
Even the witnesses of these marriages, always suspiciously small and done in town halls instead of churches, are always the husband's friend, though in this case, they don't even have a witness' name.
Something about this is important, but Sansa can't figure out what, and it's bothering the hell out of her.
"Do you think it's a family thing?" Sansa asks tiredly, forcing some interest into her tone. She just wants to find this bitch and put her behind bars already. Is that so hard? "She's going through entire extended families, one member at a time?"
Mya shakes her head, gives Sansa a concerned look. "Dickon Tarly wasn't related to any of her other victims, and neither was Aegon Targaryen."
Sansa sighs, nods. "Right, right. Sorry, I..." she rubs at her forehead.
"Are you all right?" Mya asks her.
Sansa snorts. "Peachy. Sorry, it's been a long week."
That's an understatement. She's spent every night that she hasn't been in the office writing reports trying to get sloshed at the bars around town, a different one each night, and wishing simultaneously that she had less of a tolerance for alcohol and more game to at least get laid.
Mya nods, but she still looks concerned. "Right. Well, I did find something. I don't know if it's a link per se or not, but Joffrey Lannister wasn't the only one in his family with a suspicious marriage."
Sansa perks up. "You really think it could be a family thing?" she repeats. "She has it out for this one family, but she spaces out her attempts to get into it to keep us from catching on?"
Mya shrugs. "Could be. But hey, I said I didn't know for certain if this one's even important."
"Show me." She's invested now. It's the first time they've had a hint at a motive from Margaery, and she'll take what she can get.
She does. Tommen Lannister, younger brother to Joffrey, was married one year before him, at the tender age of eighteen, a marriage which was annulled eight months before Joffrey Lannister's own wedding.
There are no given reasons for the annulment; the marriage was consummated, as far as anyone could tell, and the happy couple parted amicably.
It shouldn't be suspicious at all. Just two young people, getting married and then realizing they've fucked up and don't really want to spend the rest of their lives together after all.
But Sansa keeps digging, because she's desperate, and because, if this is a motive, then she has to find something if she keeps digging into the Lannisters.
And, a little bit, because these are the Lannisters and Sansa is feeling petty.
So she digs, and she can't find the name of the wife in any mariage certificate, which is suspicious enough, and then she realizes that Cersei Lannister is responsible for that, that she bought someone down at the courthouse and managed to get the marriage certificate to disappear.
Sansa wonders why Cersei is the one who got rid of the marriage certificate, when Margaery is the criminal. Well, in most people's eyes.
It takes a week and a half to figure out where Margaery and Tommen were married, a tiny little church beside the harbor of King's Landing called the Sept of Baelor. Sansa thinks it sounds familiar, then remembers that it was where Margaery and Joffrey were married as well.
She wonders how Margaery picks her marks, if it really does have something to do with the family they belong to. But surely, people as smart as the Lannisters would have picked up on that, would have remembered her.
Perhaps she uses disguises, Sansa muses, as she and Mya pull up in front of the little church on a Saturday afternoon and hope that someone will answer. They sent out several emails to the address listed on the site and got nothing in response, and Sansa is desperate to close this case.
"Hello, Father," Mya says smoothly, when the side door opens under their pounding and a hobbled little man squints out at them in a priest's frock. "We're from the Bureau's Violent Crimes Division. We were wondering if we could have a word with you on a marriage that you might have officiated over a decade ago?"
This is the problem with cases that were once deemed cold cases and then dug out because, after a decade's worth of time, they're relevant again. People don't remember, even with some of the most violent of crimes.
But the priest remembers Tommen Lannister, because, as he says, "his bride had the widest smile I'd ever seen. She seemed so happy. I was surprised to hear that not long after, the marriage was annulled."
Sansa tries for sympathetic. "It's quite sad, young people marrying and not realizing what it means." She thinks of her older brother and his wife of only a few short months.
Except Margaery isn't dead; she's alive, and killing her husbands besides. The situations aren't the same at all, and she can't allow herself to think like that again.
"Yes," the old man agrees, and then shrugs. "Well, this way." And he leads them into a back room, where he keeps handwritten records that Cersei Lannister apparently didn't see the point of destroying.
He flips back to a decade ago, the words faded and probably not able to hold up in court, Sansa thinks with disappointment, but if she squints, also unmistakable.
Marriage between Tommen Lannister and Margaery Redwyne officiated, Nov. 4.
"She fucked up," Mya says, grinning.
Sansa finds herself grinning as well, because this is the first time she's believed that her suspect isn't some impossible creature.
Tommen Lannister is still alive, after all.
Margaery likes to leave calling cards to let Sansa know when she is getting close, but never close enough, of course.
She's been doing it ever since Sansa found out about Renly, and Brienne thinks it's because she was impressed that Sansa found out about Renly in the first place, even if that was Gendry and not Sansa.
Still, Margaery hasn't stopped leaving the calling cards. She leaves them when Sansa is getting closer, and at Christmas, and every year, without fail, on Sansa's birthday.
She leaves the first one in Sansa's mailbox, a stag, which Sansa doesn't understand the importance of until she realizes the Baratheons hunted deer like some people drink water, the second in the P.O. Box Sansa got when she realized a criminal knew where she lived, a snarky 'Happy Christmas, and can I call you Sansa now, instead of Agent Stark? I feel we're familiar enough for that,' the third was delivered to Sansa at the office on her next birthday, and the fourth was a single black rose, hand delivered to Sansa's apartment when Jeyne is home and Sansa is not.
Sansa insists on Jeyne learning how to use a gun, after that. She doesn't think they are in any danger, because she thinks Margaery enjoys the thrill of being chased, the challenge of it, and Jeyne isn't Margaery's type of victim, anyway, but she'll be damned if she lets her girlfriend walk around unprotected while a serial killer knew where they lived.
Jeyne gripes about it, but does as she's told, and Sansa wishes she could actually be there to help Jeyne learn how to fire the gun, but she's too busy at work chasing Margaery, and Jeyne doesn't want to talk about it when Sansa gets home in the middle of the night.
Sansa comes home from work one day, no further into solving this damn case, when she sees the files left out on the island in their kitchen.
She calls out to Jeyne, who is sound asleep and doesn't answer beyond a slight moan, and moves into the kitchen with one hand on her gun, because she knows Jeyne wouldn't go through her case files on Baelish and the Lannisters, because she understands that Sansa's work is important to her and she can't talk about it.
But Sansa didn't leave those case files on the kitchen island herself, which means someone else did.
And Sansa can only think of one other person who would have the motive to break into Sansa's apartment and dig through the case files she doesn't leave at the Bureau, now. Sansa has solved all of her other currently assigned cases, after all.
Sansa flips through them, but doesn't think anything has been stolen, and her attention is caught by the note on the fridge that wasn't there when Sansa left this morning, letting her know that her girlfriend is "pretty cute."
Sansa flushes, but this time it's with anger. Margaery isn't here. But she broke into Sansa's apartment and saw Jeyne sleeping in the bedroom, and she's a serial killer.
And then she realizes that nothing has been stolen from the case files, but something has been added to it.
Or rather, several somethings.
Sansa squints, turns on the lights in the kitchen to get a better look. And what she finds are names: Oberyn Martell, Melisandre, Lancel Lannister, Lysa Arryn, and Sansa is startled to see her own aunt's name written there, frightened, as she wonders if this is a hit list.
And then she sees the word scribbled beneath these names: witnesses.
Another list: Elia Martell, Renly Baratheon, and Sansa wonders why that name is there, Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn, the uncle Sansa doesn't really remember at all, Loras Tyrell, and Sansa wonders what these names mean, because there is no footnote beneath them, no explanation for their presence.
She doesn't understand them, but they are a challenge, and she has a feeling that if she types them into her computer at the office tomorrow, she'll find something linking them to Petyr Baelish and the Lannisters.
Something more concrete than a song played at a wedding that happens to be a favorite of Tywin Lannister's.
And Sansa...doesn't get it. Doesn't get why Margaery would contribute those names to the files Sansa is secretly keeping on Baelish and the Lannisters. Doesn't get why a serial killer she is chasing is trying to help her.
"Margaery?" Sansa whispers into the darkness, but there is no answer. She doesn't expect one, but something in her still sinks when none is forthcoming. She tries not to think too hard about it.
Incest was once less of a taboo topic than it was now, Sansa knows. Once upon a time, back when Westeros had kings instead of bewildering democratic systems, brothers married sisters and first cousins married one another. It was all to "preserve the bloodlines" and only happened in noble families, but Sansa was a history minor in school, and finds the whole topic marginally less fascinating than she finds feudal law.
But incest is very much a taboo topic nowadays, and everyone knows why Tywin Lannister undergoes the humiliation of having three bastard grandchildren, rather than forcing his wayward, socialite daughter to marry.
Again, apparently. Even if Renly was only Joffrey's uncle by Cersei's marriage to Robert, for the timeline doesn't match at all for any of Cersei's children to belong to Robert, Sansa is still having a hard time wrapping her head around the knowledge that Renly and Joffrey had such a huge connection, that the black widow must have known about it if she married them both, and that Sansa never knew about it before yesterday.
So Sansa doesn't hold a lot of hope that a house visit to the infamous Casterly Rock, ancestral home of the Lannisters, moved in name if not in deed to King's Landing now that the Lannisters have the entire capitol city in their clutches, is going to provide her with much more information than she already has. But she has to give it a try, just in case.
She takes a cab, knocks on the door.
This isn't where Cersei Lannister stays; she prefers to live closer to the action, closer to the city, and, probably, closer to where she can keep an eye on her twin brother, than where Casterly Rock is, and Sansa has never questioned the woman's conniving motives until now.
She knows how controlling Cersei is, how manipulative. Alongside her father and the brother actually interested in politics, she controls the city.
But now, led into the room that Tommen Lannister hasn't left in ten years, Sansa wonders if there isn't another reason why Cersei Lannister prefers not to stay at Casterly Rock.
Tommen Lannister is bedridden. Sansa's first thought once she has put two and two together is that perhaps Margaery really did try to kill him, and failed. Perhaps she cut off his air supply long enough to leave lasting brain damage, and didn't realize that she hadn't killed him.
He's sitting up in his bed when Sansa arrives, flashing her badge at the maid and reminding the woman that she has an appointment, but the maid and her disdainful look is only the first hurdle Sansa has to go through.
Because, while Tyrion, Tywin, Cersei, and Jaime Lannister all live in the city, Tommen lives with his sister Myrcella at the Rock and, according to the maid, no one gets in to see Tommen except with his sister's consent.
Myrcella is rumored to be a beautiful young woman, but she is just as much of a recluse as her brother Tommen.
His sister is very protective, it seems. Sansa wonders if she is as protective as Cersei is of Jaime Lannister, and feels a bit dirty at the thought. Myrcella and Tommen are close to her own age.
She wonders how old Margaery is. She's been playing this horrible game for over a decade, but she doesn't look any older in the picture of her with Renly than she did in the surveillance photograph from their failed sting. She wonders if Margaery is near her own age, or possesses the same sort of ageless beauty that Cersei Lannister seems to.
Myrcella sneers at Sansa as she walks into the parlor where Sansa has been left waiting for close to forty-five minutes. "I'm told you have an appointment with my brother Tommen?" she asks coolly.
"Yes," Sansa says, "And I'm on the Bureau's time, so please, waste more of it."
Myrcella cocks her head, and then grins. "Pleasure to meet you, Agent...?"
Sansa extends her hand. "Stark. Sansa Stark."
The smile on Myrcella's face fades. "Stark. I...I'm sorry about what happened to your family, Agent Stark."
She sounds sincere, too, which is more than Sansa has ever expected to recieve from a Lannister. She dips her head. "Thank you."
Myrcella considers for a moment, and then, "If you'll follow me, my brother Tommen has been taking his afternoon nap, but he'll be happy to answer any questions you have."
Sansa wonders if that is because he's terribly lonely out here in this old house, or because she's a Stark. She doesn't ask.
Tommen's smile fades the same way Myrcella's had when Sansa introduces herself, and he too apologizes for what happened to her parents, shooting a guilty look in Myrcella's direction.
Sansa gets right down to business, because she can't linger on what happened to her parents. Not on the job.
"I'm chasing a woman who has been implicated in a number of deaths in the past decade, and have reason to believe you might know her Do you recognize her?" Sansa asks, showing the photograph from the theater to him, then the one of Margaery standing beside Renly, just in case the first is too blurry.
Tommen squints at it, and then grins, which is not the reaction Sansa is expecting. "Margaery," he says, and his smile is almost fond.
Sansa raises a brow. "I understand the two of you were married?"
Tommen glances sideways at Myrcella, where she stands skulking in the back of the room, and then nods. "Yes, for a little while. She wanted an annulment, though. No hard feelings," he grins again.
Sansa wonders if he lives under a rock, but then remembers that the information they've dug up lately about Margaery hasn't been sent out to the public yet. The media still calls her the Black Rose, and doesn't have a name yet.
"Margaery has been implicated in a number of deaths," Sansa repeats, and Tommen's grin fades. "Murders. They have all been of men that she was married to, and I was just wondering..."
Tommen flinches, twitches a little where he lies. "You're wondering if she made a mistake with me," he says, but there is no rancor in his voice. He's nothing like his mother, who can switch between sweetness and hate in a moment.
Sansa hesitates, and then nods. "Anything you can tell me, Mr. Lannister..."
Tommen bites his lip, glances at Myrcella again. "She was always kind to me," he informs Sansa. "Always. Kinder than I deserved, given how cruel the rest of my family was to her. After...after my uncle Renly's death, well, I knew that the marriage was an arranged one, protection for her against my uncle Stannis, but she was always so kind to me. And we parted amiably, if that's what you're asking. She didn't try to hurt me."
Sansa pauses. "Then how...?" she gestures to the tubes connecting him to his bed, hesitant to voice the question she badly needs to know the answer to.
Tommen flinches. Myrcella notices and steps forward.
"I think you should go, Agent Stark," Myrcella says quickly. "My brother tires easily, these days."
Sansa forces down her disappointment and stands to her feet. "Of course," she agrees, and turns to Tommen. "I'm sorry to have disturbed you, Mr. Lannister, or brought up any unpleasant memories. I know this woman has caused your family a lot of harm. If you remember anything else, please give me a call."
Myrcella clears her throat pointedly. Tommen bobs his head.
"Of course," he says. "I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help." And then the morphine drip has his eyes slipping shut, and Myrcella guides Sansa out of the house.
Myrcella is livid; Sansa can tell by how taut her muscles are as she walks Sansa to the door. Sansa tries to apologize, but Myrcella won't hear it.
"I know what they say about Margaery Tyrell," Myrcella says, voice low as she practically tosses Sansa out the door, "but she isn't like they say she is. Or, she wasn't when she married my brother."
Sansa blinks at her. "What do you mean?" she asks, heart racing.
Myrcella gives her a placid smile. Sansa recognizes it as the sort she's constantly giving Baelish, the sort she used back when the deaths of her parents and brother were still so fresh and people offered their sympathy.
"My mother is...well, she is not a nice woman," Myrcella tells her, which Sansa already knew, but she nods anyway, because she can tell this is going somewhere. "She loves us children very much, but sometimes we disappoint her. You know how...overbearing parents can be."
Sansa's brow furrows. "I don't understand," she finally admits.
"My mother hurt Tommen," Myrcella says bluntly. "Because he was young, and weaker than my brother, and not as controllable as Joffrey was. She did it for years, gave him something that weakened him to the point of making him bedridden, until he was completely dependent on her." She shrugs, ignoring Sansa's horrified look. Really, Sansa shouldn't be surprised. Not after Cersei orchestrated her parents' deaths, her brother's death. "When Margaery and Tommen were engaged, people who didn't know the arrangement was to protect Margaery and give our family a lot of money that we desperately needed thought that she was taking pity on him, because he couldn't walk or do things most boys his age could. But she was nicer to him than our mother has ever been, and she would never have hurt him." She hesitates, worrying her lower lip. "She tried to help him, but my mother is...very persistent."
Sansa thinks of how it was Cersei who destroyed the marriage certificate. "Is that why the marriage was annulled?"
Myrcella shrugs. "You'd have to ask Margaery."
"I'm getting that a lot lately," Sansa says bitterly.
Myrcella gives her a sad look. "I really am sorry about your parents, Agent Stark. Now, if you'll excuse me, I really should be getting back to my brother."
"She was your granddaughter?" Sansa asks incredulously. The old woman's face pales, and it takes Sansa a moment to realize why. "I mean, uh, is your granddaughter," she corrects hastily.
The old woman nods tiredly. "The rose of my world," she says. "My Margaery."
Margaery. After so long without a name, it blooms in her mind, and Sansa finds herself mouthing the name before she even realizes what she was doing.
When her eyes flit up to Olenna's face again, the old woman is smiling. Sansa gets the impression, from her smooth, tanned skin, that she doesn't do it often.
She's a bit surprised, given this information, that Olenna approached them at all, but now she wants to sink her teeth into the old woman who called her at her office at nine o'clock that morning, offering information on the "Black Rose," she's been hunting, and demanding, when Sansa asked if she could come in to give a statement, to instead meet Sansa at this little coffee shop.
To be fair, this place has the best Italian Roast Sansa has ever drank.
"We thought her name was Margaery Redwyne, not Tyrell," Sansa says, feeling foolish. They've been using that name for months now, ever since they put a name to a face. No wonder they couldn't find anything from before Margaery decided to go on a stint of marrying men and then killing them.
Olenna gives her a patient smile, takes another sip of her coffee. "That's my maiden name," she says. "I'm so old now, no one remembers it."
Sansa can't believe no one caught that. Can't believe she didn't catch that, the moment she had a name. Can't believe that the first time she's hearing about it is from the woman who called her up of her own volition, promising information.
And this woman is Margaery's grandmother, which means Margaery must know this meeting is happening.
Sansa stiffens a little where she sits, regards Olenna with a new look.
"Why did you call me, ma'am?" Sansa asks.
Olenna smiles at her. "Because my granddaughter is out of control, breaking the law, murdering people, and someone needs to bring her in," she recites the words like they're a grocery order, and Sansa looks into her eyes and doesn't believe a word of them.
So. Margaery wanted this meeting to happen, facilitated it even, maybe.
"What do you know about her last location?" Sansa asks, sighing.
Olenna looks mildly surprised by something, but speaks anyway. "I know that she's not in King's Landing, if that's what you're asking. She's smart enough to know there's too much heat for her, here."
Sansa nods. "When was the last time you saw your granddaughter, Olenna?"
Olenna eyes her. "After Joffrey Lannister's tragic death, but before she married Aegon Targaryen," she says, and Sansa digs out her recorder and sets it up.
"Do you know why she does what she does?" Sansa asks, then clarifies, "why she marries men and then kills them? Your family, pardon me, is hardly in need of the funds."
"And yet," Olenna says, "she's made more money in the last ten years than Cersei Lannister or my bumbling son Mace will see in a lifetime."
Sansa is very glad she turned on the recorder. "Yes, close to a billion or more, by our estimate," Sansa tells her, disturbed that Olenna sounds almost proud of her granddaughter, "but it's not her making the money. She's murdering people and stealing it."
Olenna shrugs, leans forward. "How do you think the Lannisters made their fortune, Agent Stark?"
Sansa closes her eyes and tries very hard not to think of her family, lying dead in pools of their own blood.
"I'm sorry," Olenna says suddenly, and Sansa opens her eyes, watches as a waiter comes forward to refill Olenna's cup. "That was cruel of me to say."
Sansa shrugs. "What information do you have for me, ma'am?" she asks again.
"Oh, I don't have anything," Olenna says, taking another sip of her drink, and Sansa stares at her. Olenna leans forward, pulling a pad of notebook paper and a pen out of her purse. "I'm afraid this is all a bit too exciting for me."
Sansa opens her mouth to tell the old woman off for wasting her time, for wasting the Bureau's time, but doesn't manage it in time.
"There is, however, someone else you could gain some information from, Agent Stark," Olenna says. "Here, let me write down an address for you."
She meets the girl at a bar, after draining a bottle of vodka with crackers. The girl slides into the booth beside her, takes in her forlorn expression, and presses close.
Like a spider, taking in her prey before the attack, Sansa can't help but think, and wonders if there's a rhyme or reason to how Margaery chooses her marks, or if she's just going after every rich man she comes across.
They're not all from King's Landing. They're not all at the forefront of a Fortune 500 company. They're not shy recluses, easy prey in the eyes of many black widows. They're not even all blond. There's literally nothing to connect them with each other, beyond that they have a significant amount of money.
And Sansa...doesn't get it. Doesn't understand why Margaery goes after these men in the first place, what it is that attracts her to them or decides that they should live or die.
She blinks, shakes her head, realizes the girl has her head on Sansa's shoulder and is batting her eyelashes at Sansa invitingly.
She's pretty, and Sansa hasn't gotten laid in such a long time, and it doesn't take long at all for the girl to drag her back to her apartment for a hook up.
The sex is boring, but it's something, which is more than Sansa can say about her sex life of the last few months. Still, she finds herself wondering if this is what Margaery does, or if she's more refined, if she wines and dines her marks before seducing them out of their money and their lives.
Then she comes.
She isn't expecting to say anything when she comes; she usually doesn't, and that makes for less awkward hook ups than she imagines most people have, but this isn't like those times.
Sansa is embarrassed when, in the midst of this girl she met at the bar sucking her off, Sansa whispers out Margaery's name.
The moment the name passes her lips, Sansa flushes, wants to scream at herself, and can only lay there as the rest of her orgasm sweeps over her, as the girl eating her out pauses a beat before continuing to lap Sansa through it.
They lay there in silence that Sansa thinks is awkward until the sweat and come dry on the sheets, and then Sansa remembers that she isn't in her own apartment and she doesn't want to shower in this girl's apartment, after fucking her with another woman in her mind the entire time.
For that's where Margaery was, all of the time, much as Sansa tried to be rid of her after office hours.
She sits up, sees the girl beside her rolling onto her side and regarding Sansa with such a careful expression that she feels like breaking.
She's a federal agent, Sansa reminds herself. Something is wrong with her, but she's not a pussy.
"I'm sorry," Sansa apologizes, twisting her fingers in the sheets. "About that, earlier..."
The girl smiles, reaches out to pat Sansa's hand. She has pink hair, and Sansa didn't notice that at the bar. Didn't notice anything about her, except that she was available and interested. "It's all right," she reassures Sansa. "It's fine. That sort of thing happens."
Sansa doubts it's fine, but she's grateful that the girl isn't showing her anger on her face. Sansa had enough of that when she was in a real relationship, and this is just a hook up from a bar, and they don't know each other.
She tries to tell herself that, over and over, as she slips into her jeans and shirt and shoes, the opposite of how she took them off, and stumbles out of the girl's apartment, very carefully not making eye contact.
She makes it out into the hallway before she can make it no further, turning around and leaning against the wall with a loud groan.
She's fucked. She knows what this is. It happens to agents, sometimes, where the obsession with closing a case turns into obsession with their suspects. It ends with agents being reassigned or demoted, and it is not happening to Sansa Stark.
This sort of thing happened to other agents, not to her.
Her thoughts wander to Brienne, and she hates herself for it. Brienne managed this, her thoughts whisper traitorously. Brienne fell in love with a suspect, and it didn't ruin her career.
But Jaime Lannister's only crime was killing a madman intent on blowing up the city, years ago, and while the statute of limitations didn't protect him from a few generous years of prison for manslaughter, he wasn't cut from the same cloth as Margaery.
He wasn't a serial killer with a penchant for leaving families ruined, for all that his father enjoys ruining his opponents in the same monetary way.
No. Brienne and Jaime live their lives in secret, secret from the Bureau, though everyone at the office knows about it, secret from his father, who would never approve of such a lowly match, and secret from his sister, who would probably resort to murder if she discovered it.
And Jaime wasn't even a fugitive serial killer.
Sansa sighs, lifts her head from the wall and decides to leave before someone reports her to the Super of this building. She doesn't have her badge with her, and that could get awkward.
She can't keep doing this. She can't think about Margaery like this again, can't let the woman keep infiltrating her life, even in her most private moments.
She can't allow it. She has the job she does because of her own merits, but she's not going to keep this job because she fucked up and owes a favor to Petyr Fucking Baelish.
Now it's personal, and she's going to drag Margaery down with her if she has to.
The address Olenna Tyrell gave her leads to a cemetery.
Sansa takes a deep breath as the cab pulls up in front of it, ignores the sympathetic look the cabbie sends her, and climbs out, telling him not to wait for her.
She doesn't know what she's looking for until she finds it, three rows in, sitting on fresh, bluegreen grass, and surrounded by flowers. More upkept than any of the other gravestones around it, and Sansa feels a slight pang as she thinks of her parents, of their gravestones, and how it's been far too long since she bothered to visit them.
She shakes her head. She's on the job now, after all, and the name on the gravestone is one she thinks she ought to be paying attention to.
Loras Tyrell. Obviously a relation, but she doesn't recognize the name immediately.
Sansa gets another cab, which takes a ridiculously long time outside of the city and in a cemetery, and heads back to the office. She tells Mya to look up Loras Tyrell when she can't find a criminal history, and spends her afternoon digging through Olenna Tyrell's past until she can find something that sticks.
She doesn't find anything. Either the woman's never committed a crime or gotten so much as a parking ticket and shares nothing in common with her granddaughter, or she's very good at making things disappear.
Sansa wonders if she shares that in common with her granddaughter. They've traced the money from Margaery's oldest account, the one she got from Renly Baratheon, to an offshore account before it disappeared completely, but they've never been able to trace the rest of the money once it left Margaery's victims' accounts.
"He was murdered," Mya tells her, while Sansa's watching a video in which the last mayor of King's Landing thanked Olenna for all of her unnamed contributions, walking into Sansa's office without preamble.
Sansa likes Mya. She likes that Mya also works in Violent Crimes, and knows the long hours and other demands of the job. She likes that sometimes, when she's really desperate to get laid, Mya is around, and just as frustrated as she is.
It doesn't happen often, because Mya is a bit boring in bed and prefers men, even if she settles for Sansa.
But Sansa hasn't gotten laid in a very long time, since that girl she met in the bar after she and Jeyne broke things off, and she should be focusing on the job right now, not thinking about what Mya looks like in satin sheets.
She groans, rubbing at her temples.
"Are you all right?" Mya asks.
Sansa shrugs. "Who was murdered?"
Mya gives her a knowing look, and then slaps a file down in front of her. "Loras Tyrell. Burned alive, along with about twenty other men who were believed to belong to the Sparrow Cult a few years ago. No known suspects."
More than a few years, Sansa remembers. That was before she ever came to King's Landing, before her parents came to King's Landing and were killed because they couldn't play the games here.
She flinches at that thought, forces herself to reorient on the topic at hand. She used to be much better at compartmentalizing than she is now.
She wants to blame that on her black widow, but she doesn't think she can.
The Sparrows were a cult led by an old man whose name was never discovered, who never wore shoes and who advocated communism the way some people advocated drinking water.
They were a peaceful group at first, until they started going after the wealthier families of King's Landing as a statement of their discontent.
"What was a little rich boy doing with them, anyway?" Mya voices the question running through Sansa's head at exactly the same moment, and she pinches the bridge of her nose, flipping through the file.
He was burned alive. Sansa knows that, because everyone knows what happened to the Sparrows, even if their killer was never apprehended. It's the sort of disturbing death that sometimes comes through Violent Crimes, but somehow, Sansa finds it worse than seeing pictures of victims bludgeoned to death.
Sansa thinks about that, wonders what Loras Tyrell joining a cult has to do with Margaery Tyrell going around killing rich men for their money. She wonders if the Tyrells are simply prone to murdering other members of the elite, or if there is some other reason Olenna Tyrell led her to this.
For Olenna had to know that setting Sansa on the path of Loras Tyrell would end with her investigating the man. And she strikes Sansa as a woman with a purpose for everything she does. So there must be a reason for this, as well.
Sansa blanches when she sees the name of the agent who handled the case file, years ago.
She can't say she is surprised, Sansa thinks sardonically, as she reads over the case notes Petyr left behind. She remembers, suddenly, that Margaery gave Sansa this name a while ago, Loras’. That she’s known about it since Margaery broke into her house and left that name, she just hasn’t gotten to it yet, in between interviewing Oberyn Martell and Lancel Lannister.
Victim member of violent cult with many enemies, she reads in Baelish’s old notes. No known suspects at this time. Known homosexual. Might have enemies within the cult from that.
She flinches at those words, because King's Landing isn't very accepting now and certainly wasn't years ago, when this happened. She wonders if Petyr knows about her own orientation, wonders if he hates her for that, or if he just doesn't care because he's going to have her either way.
She shivers at that thought, glances back up at Mya.
"I'll go and have a word with Baelish," she says, and Mya gives her a sympathetic look. Everyone in the office knows about the game of cat and mouse Sansa and Baelish have been playing since she arrived here.
Well, everyone except maybe Gendry, but only because he's so new here.
Sansa sighs, walks up to Baelish's office and knocks on the door.
He is, as always, delighted to see her. He doesn't know anything about the Tyrell case more than he put in the case file, he says, voice dripping with sympathy and that tad of condescension which is always there, and Sansa forces herself to smile and thank him anyway.
"But," he says, "I'm wondering, Sansa," and he leans forward, until she can feel his breath on her neck, "what are you digging through this old case for?"
Sansa forces herself not to react to how hot his breath feels on her skin. "My black widow case," she says, gritting her teeth. "Margaery Tyrell is Loras' brother. I was just trying to find a connection."
She can't be sure, but she thinks Baelish pales at her words. "Did you find one?" he asks her.
Sansa forces herself to smile. "Not yet, sir."
"Petyr, Sansa, we've been over this."
Sansa smiles, twirls her hair like she's a silly girl who just forgot. "Right. Petyr. Sorry, Petyr."
"Your mother was a woman of unparalleled goodness," Baelish is saying, and Sansa barely hears the words beyond the roaring in her ears.
Her mother is dead. Her father is dead. Her brother, his wife, and their unborn child are all dead.
And all of this is Sansa's fault, because Sansa sent a letter to Cersei Lannister, a woman she wanted desperately to work for, and told her something she shouldn't have. She can barely remember the emotions she'd felt writing the letter, knowing that Cersei Lannister, the most powerful woman in King's Landing, and, some said, Westeros, wanted Sansa Stark to leave the North and come to work for her.
"You...you knew her?" Sansa asks, because her mother never mentioned Petyr Baelish to her, and Sansa thinks that a name like that would ring a bell, if she had.
But her mother is dead, now.
Baelish nods, face twisting in what Sansa is sure is a parody of sympathy. She can't say why, exactly, but she doesn't think Baelish is capable of true emotions, the kind that show on your face.
"I knew her quite well, when we were young," he says. Oh. Sansa takes a long sip of her coffee, enjoying the way it burns down, too hot, and wishing it was something stronger.
She's going to be so busy soon. She'll have to deal with the funeral arrangements, paying off the last of her parents debts, selling the family home because Sansa can't bear the thought of living in it, all alone.
"Your father stole her from me, actually," Baelish says, giving Sansa a tight smile, sipping at his tea. "No hard feelings, of course."
Sansa blushes, not certain why. "She must have been very beautiful, when she was young."
She was always beautiful, Sansa thinks, and hates herself for even this small betrayal, but there is something niggling at the back of her mind, something that has been there since the moment she sat down to coffee with Mr. Baelish, and she can't abandon the thought now.
Baelish gives her a considering look. "She looked much like you do, Miss Stark," he tells her, and Sansa doesn't like the way he says her name. Miss Stark.
People are going to be calling her that, now.
"What do you do for a living, Mr. Baelish?" she asks.
"Please, Sansa, Petyr," he corrects her, and Sansa just smiles, wan, and nods. She isn't going to be calling this man, 'Petyr,' anytime soon.
"I work for the Federal Bureau," he tells her. "Violent Crimes Division, in King's Landing. When I heard about what happened to your mother, I had to come here and offer my condolences."
Her mother had died in King's Landing, alongside her father, her brother, her sister-in-law. Baelish had been closer to all of them than Sansa, but he had felt the need to travel all of the way out to Winterfell to offer his condolences to her in person.
She wondered if that was guilt or cunning.
"That was very kind of you," she says, because she knows it is expected of her, in this moment.
She thinks about stabbing him with the bread knife inches away from her fingers. Decides that wouldn't be good enough.
Arya might do something like that, but she isn't Arya.
Baelish's cheek twitches. "What are you going to do with yourself, after things are taken care of here?" he asks. "It won't be good for you, stuck alone in this big house, with your grief."
She wonders if he thinks he's being subtle. "I have a job offer from Cersei Lannister, as her personal assistant," she says, and can barely grit out the words, because Cersei Fucking Lannister left that offer open after Sansa's parents' deaths, as if she had nothing to do with them.
Baelish's eye twitches. "I've heard that she can be...quite a handful, as a boss," he says, and Sansa smiles because she has heard the rumors and knows that is what she is supposed to do.
"I'm actually thinking about law school," Sansa says, the words hollow, and she looks up, meets Baelish's unreadable eyes.
He smiles. It doesn't reach his eyes. "You want to be a lawyer?" he asks, but there's no inflection in the words. He already knows the answer to the question he's asking, and Sansa hates people who do that.
"I was thinking more along the lines of what you do, actually," she says. "Working for the Bureau?" She says it like a question.
Baelish smiles, genuine, for the first time since Sansa met him. "If you ever need a good word, just let me know."
Sansa's smile is less genuine, and she doesn't know if it's the mourning or something else influencing her, but she knows what this man is, right now, and it takes everything in her not to pour her scalding coffee in his face.
Slow and steady wins the race.
"I might take you up on that," she says. "I've always wanted to go to King's Landing."
The Iron Islands has the strangest clubs Sansa has ever seen. They're all right by the water, and all named for strange, monstrous sea creatures, and there aren't a lot of stripping girls in any of them, just darkened halls and craggy men speaking in low tones.
The one Sansa is supposed to meet Yara Greyjoy outside of is called, "The Kracken," and stinks like dead fish. Sansa sighs and checks her watch again, because Yara is late and she's a little worried, in a city with the reputation of the Iron Islands.
She talked to Yara over the phone, but hasn't actually met her in person. She took a plane out here from King's Landing the moment she heard what Yara had to say, and Yara had only called her when she arrived in the Islands, letting her know to come to the Kracken at eight o'clock.
She doesn't have to wait much longer, however, before Yara walks up to her, flashing her badge and extending her hand for Sansa to shake.
Yara Greyjoy is the sort of woman Sansa expects to work in Organized Crime. She's smart, built like a man, and doesn't take shit from anyone, even the bartender mixing her drink, once they're inside the club.
She also swears like a sailor, and looks Sansa up and down appreciatively after her second drink, but she's hardly a walking stereotype.
After all, her uncle is in the mob.
"So you decided to become an FBI agent?" Sansa asks her incredulously, because even people in King's Landing have heard of the infamous Euron Greyjoy, a mob boss who's unafraid to get his hands dirty.
Yara shrugs. "I was supposed to inherit my father's mob, and Euron took it from me instead, because I have a pair of tits instead of a cock," she tells Sansa bluntly, and Sansa flushes, but only a little. She knows a bit of what that's like, after all. "So I decided to take it from him and make sure it stayed out of his hands."
"By becoming an agent and hunting him down," Sansa finishes dryly. Yara shrugs.
"I've heard that you work for Petyr Baelish in your division," Yara says, instead of responding to Sansa's unspoken question. "I hardly think you have room to judge.
Maybe she's right there, Sansa thinks.
"Right. So he's supposed to be here tonight?"
Yara jerks her thumb in the direction of an enclosed booth halfway across the club. "He's over there."
Sansa's eyes widen. "You didn't say anything," she hisses.
Yara grins at her. "Oh, didn't I? This is his club, Agent Stark. He'll let me come in for drinks, because he's a motherfucker, but he won't let me near him. So you'll have to go and do the honors, and either you're my sidepiece or another agent, so you've been introduced already just by talking to me."
Sansa glares at her, and stands to her feet. Yara hands her a wire and a microphone, and Sansa heads off to the bathroom to tape it on, ignores the leering looks of the men she passes as she makes her way over to Euron's table.
"Mr. Greyjoy," Sansa steps forward when there's a lull in the conversation between Euron and one of his cronies, flashes her badge at the man as he leans back in the booth and ogles her. "Agent Stark, FBI."
Euron Greyjoy doesn't look like what Sansa would expect a hardened mob boss to look like. He looks more like a wannabe greaser, complete with the leather ensemble and slicked back hair.
He looks bored at her introduction. "What can I do for you, Agent Stark?" he asks. "And can I see that badge? I know Yara likes to role play, and we did just see the two of you talking together."
Sansa sighs, hands it over, lets him glare at it for a moment before she's flapping her fingers impatiently to get it back. He gives it back.
"We have reason to believe that you are in immediate danger, Mr. Greyjoy," she tells him, holds up a picture of Margaery. "Do you recognize this woman?"
He squints at it. "Can't say that I do," he says, almost amiably.
Sansa tries not to roll her eyes. "Are you sure? Look again."
He does. She's fully expecting him to deny it, again, so she's rather surprised when he laughs and answers, "Oh, I can't believe I didn't see it at first. This must be an old photo, Agent."
Sansa nods. "Eight years."
"What sort of danger do you believe I'm in from my fiancé?" he asks. "Because the only place she's been dangerous so far is the bedroom, and let me tell you..."
Sansa cuts him off, because she really doesn't want to hear about their activities in the bedroom. She doesn't know if that's her prudishness because she hasn't been laid since she fucked a girl and whispered Margaery's name, or because she's jealous.
She'd rather not think about it.
"This woman is under investigation for several deaths, and is believed to be a black widow," Sansa says, and, when he doesn't look suitably shocked, "a woman who marries men for their money and then kills them when she doesn't feel like sharing it."
He blinks at her. He still doesn't look surprised. "You're joking."
Sansa shakes her head. "I'm afraid not, sir. Can you tell me when you last saw your fiancé?"
He nods, but it's a careful, thoughtful nod. Sansa has a moment of worry, then. She might have just made a terrible mistake. Euron is dangerous, maybe more so than Margaery, because he enjoys the killings, and he might just kill his fiancé for this before he turns her over to the authorities.
Before Sansa can make the arrest she's been waiting to make for months. She can't let that happen. She can't let Margaery Tyrell slip through her fingers only to find her body washed up on a beach in the Iron Islands.
Sansa doesn't let herself examine why she feels so strongly about that.
"Last night," he says, coolly now. "We had a nice dinner and then I fucked her up the arse. She liked it, and she passed out. She's out shopping now, with some of the new friends she's made in this city."
"Then you know she's from out of town," Sansa leads, but it's shaky now, her voice is shaky, because Euron might have already killed his black widow. He knows what she is, and he's an insane mob boss.
She should have been prepared for that, but at least it means that she'll have him for murder, if she can't have Margaery.
"Of course," he says. "That's what I like about her."
Sansa nods. "I see. Well, if you see her again, please give us a call. We're concerned, as I said about your safety in this. This woman is very dangerous."
Euron grins. "I'll let you know if I see her again, Agent Stark," he says. "But in the mean time, I doubt she'd mind sharing me. Considering she's only with me for my money." He gives her a long, obvious look that has Sansa blushing even when Baelish can't make her do so.
"I'll pass," Sansa tells him, and goes over to the bar, blows into the headset into which Yara Greyjoy is grinding her teeth so hard they might snap to let her know Euron is no longer close enough to hear.
"Any eyes on Margaery?" Yara asks. She's no longer in the club, Sansa doesn't think, but she did tell Sansa that they have half a dozen squad cars outside, with SWAT teams packed in them and ready to box Euron and Margaery in and make the arrest, if need be.
Sansa looks around. "I haven't seen her, and Euron looks pretty comfortable over in the booths," she reports.
Yara swears under her breath. "You promised me Euron, Agent Stark," she reminds Sansa. "I want him."
Sansa nods, remembers that Yara can't see her. "The moment I see her, I'm moving in," she tells her. She needs probable cause, after all, without a warrant, and Euron Greyjoy has very good lawyers.
And then she sees it, the reason why Margaery led her here. She was never intending to meet with Sansa at all, she realizes.
Margaery led her to Tommen, to what his mother has been doing to him for years. Led her to Loras, who was killed by Cersei.
And now, she's led her to Euron Greyjoy, who is ballsy, Sansa will give him that, to pick up laundered money hidden in a briefcase in front of a federal agent.
The man had walked up to him while Sansa walked away, had been whispering to him. This was a planned meeting, obviously.
Sansa walks back over, flashing her badge again. "Mr. Greyjoy," she says, ignoring his leer, "I wonder if you wouldn't mind opening that briefcase for me and consenting to an examination of whatever is inside."
Euron smirks at her. "You won't find anything, sweetheart," he tells her. "I have very good lawyers, and it won't stick, if you do."
Sansa smiles thinly at him. "Unfortunately for you, Mr. Greyjoy, while my colleagues and I couldn't get a warrant on you, we're here looking for Margaery Tyrell, who is known to have dabbled in laundering money in the past, when she needed to convince a mark to trust her. And I do have a warrant to slam down on any suspicious activities concerning Margaery here in the Iron Islands, you can bet your ass."
Euron looks annoyed, but not desperate. Not until Yara steps back into the club surrounded by two dozen SWATs, a smirk on her face and gun raised to take him down, if necessary. She looks like she might enjoy it.
Sansa thinks about Petyr, and can't find it within her to blame the other woman.
"Agent Stark?" Yara says, when Sansa doesn't pull out her cuffs just yet.
"You've been sitting on him long enough, Agent Greyjoy," Sansa says, with a small smile. "Why don't you do the honors."
Euron grinds his teeth as Yara walks over with the cuffs, a grim smile on her face. She cinches the cuffs on a little too tight, pushes him a little too hard into a wall, but Sansa says nothing, and Euron only glares at her.
They lead him out to a squad car, taking care to package up the laundered money for evidence, as well.
"I'm sorry you didn't find your girl," Yara says, bumping her shoulder as someone asks if she wants to be in the car with her uncle. She nods, says she doesn't trust anyone else with him.
Sansa shrugs. "I will," she says, because Margaery led her here and a part of her wasn't expecting to find Margaery here at all.
Yara glances at her. "You seem pretty confident," she observes.
Sansa shrugs. "Every criminal fucks up at some point, Agent Greyjoy," she reminds her. "Overconfidence, pride, stupidity. Something gets to all of them, and one of those things will get to Margaery eventually."
Yara weighs this, glances at the empty space where the car that carted off Euron Greyjoy was a moment ago. "I guess you're right," she says, and starts to walk away.
Sansa can't let her go. "What are you going to do now?" she asks, and Yara glances back at her.
"Now that you've finally caught him," Sansa clarifies. "What are you going to do?"
Yara thinks about this for a moment, shrugs. "Onto the next case," she says, grinning, and Sansa wishes the grin was infectious. "What about you?"
Sansa glances back at the bar. Greyjoy might have owned it, but it's still open even after he's been arrested and carted off. "Have another drink," she admits, shoving her hands into her pockets, and Yara laughs.
"Petyr Baelish," Sansa says, with a pleasant smile, "You're under arrest for conspiracy, corruption, and murder."
He gives her a disapproving look as she cinches his cuffs too tightly. "Sansa..."
She doesn't have to listen to anything he has to say anymore. She's been waiting for this for a long time. She came to King's Landing for this, stayed for this, through all of the shitty years of black widows and sexual harassment from a boss more than twice her age.
And she has Margaery to thank for it. Margaery, who gave her the confession she could use to give Margaery a better deal, if she ever catches her, but who also sent her file upon file of cases that Baelish had fucked up, including Elia Martell's, Loras', and half a dozen others that unfortunately didn't belong to Sansa's parents, but then, Margaery can't be expected to be impossible. Margaery, who also sent her to witnesses like Olenna, like Elinor, who could speak out about Loras, like Oberyn Martell, who could speak out for his sister, and Myrcella Lannister, whose been pushed by her mother just enough to speak out against her, and Tyrion Lannister, who just killed his father and is in desperate need of a bargain, and hates his family enough to utilize one.
Something about the fact that Margaery is a better Fed than Sansa makes the victory seem hollow, but Sansa is determined to feel satisfaction over it anyway.
"Something to say, Petyr?" she asks, cruel now because she can be, and because she doesn't like the thought of owing this victory to a woman she has been chasing for years. Hates it, actually.
She wonders if this is all a game to Margaery, or if what she said in the hotel outside that bar in the Iron Islands was actually true, and this has all been an elaborate ploy to finally get her revenge.
Sansa doubts a woman like Margaery Tyrell, who delights in conning rich men out of their money and possibly their lives, she isn't certain on that front anymore, would care to get revenge the legal way when there are other options open to her.
She wonders if Margaery chose that way anyway because of her, or out of pure stubbornness.
Petyr gives her a long, knowing look. "You've played a good game, Agent Stark," he tells her, and she thinks it is the first time he's called her that without the condescending sneer that usually accompanies it.
She lifts her chin in response. "You taught me the best of it, sir," she tells him, and he gives her a proud smile. She wants to take back the words and slug him, but she doesn't, merely pushes him toward the squad car.
He looks at her. "This won't bring back your parents," he tells her, and this time, she does hit him.
"Agent Stark!" someone calls out a warning, but Sansa doesn't feel guilty about it for a moment. Baelish merely smirks at her.
"I know that," Sansa leans close to hiss in his ear. "But it feels damn good, anyway."
He stares at her. "How long have you known?" he asks, and she is surprised by that, surprised that he hasn't already pieced it together, the way he does.
"Since before you came to Winterfell," she tells him. "My sister, Arya? She's good at digging up information when she needs to."
She should have been an agent, Sansa thinks wistfully. Instead, she went the other direction, which is probably for the best, where Arya is concerned.
Petyr eyes her, smiles, and bends to climb into the squad car. Sansa slams the door behind him, and heads back to the office with a strange feeling pooling in her gut.
This case has just made Sansa's career, she knows. It's the sort of case that would get her to King's Landing, if she weren't already here, and that could get her Baelish's job.
She thinks about that. She might like Baelish's job.
The office watches on the news as Cersei Lannister is carted off to prison by Brienne Tarth on reruns, watches as Sansa carts off Baelish much more quietly. Brienne blushes through the whole thing, acts like they don't all see it on the television when Jaime Lannister touches Brienne's arm like a lover. Sansa just sits against her desk, silent, and no one bothers to tease her the way they tease Brienne.
But Sansa still isn't happy, despite the promotion she receives before five o'clock, despite the Director of the FBI herself, Daenerys Targaryen, sending her a memo letting her know how good of a job she did.
Because Cersei and Petyr are going down for the murder of Loras Tyrell and twenty other cult members, as well as abusing the system and a half dozen other charges, but they aren't going down for the murder of Sansa's parents.
She couldn't quite manage that, and it rankles her, how badly she failed at that, after spending years under Petyr's thumb for that express reason.
But she has brought him down for what he did to the Tyrells, who were hurt by his being in Cersei Lannister's pocket long before Sansa's family was, and that has to count for something, even if half of the Tyrells are criminals.
She's done her job, the one that has become so important to her over recent years, and that's what matters.
She tells herself that as she cleans up her desk and hails a cab to head back to her apartment. Tells herself that as her phone lights up with Arya's familiar picture.
"You did good, Sansa," Arya says over the phone, voice quiet. "I'm proud of you."
Sansa swallows, throat unexpectedly tight. "Th-thanks, Arya," she says, ignoring the look the cabbie sends her, the praise meaning more to her than the congratulations of any FBI Director.
Click. Sansa tries not to be bothered when Arya hangs up abruptly. Arya has never been good at expressing her emotions, and that only got worse after their parents died.
Still, it feels like closure, and Sansa is glad that something went right, here.
She pays the cabbie double because she's feeling generous today and because she'll soon be able to afford it, and climbs the many stairs up to the apartment that she bought three days after Jeyne moved out, because she couldn't stand staying in an apartment that had always belonged to Jeyne more than it had to her.
There's a card sitting on the island in the kitchen, and Sansa starts at the sight of it, but decides that she shouldn't be surprised, at this point.
She opens it.
It reads, in simple, elegant letters, "Thank you, Agent Stark."
Sansa doesn't have to guess who it’s from.
"I'm sorry for the deception," the musical voice says, and Sansa's eyelids flutter. She moans at the headache burgeoning up her neck and into her skull. "I couldn't think of another way to meet privately with you."
"I thought the club was private enough," Sansa mutters.
She tries to think about where she is, about the last thing she remembers. Ah, that's it. She'd told Yara Greyjoy she was going to have another drink in Euron Greyjoy's bar, and she'd gone back in, had a few shots.
Nothing that should have made her pass out. Her one most admirable trait is how well she can hold her liquor, but here she is.
Which means she was drugged, and Sansa can think of only one person with the motive.
Evidently, Margaery really did want to meet with her.
The same voice laughs. Margaery Tyrell has a beautiful laugh.
Sansa's eyes fly open.
Margaery is sitting in front of her, on a twin bed that is far too close to Sansa's own twin bed for comfort. She's wearing a lingerie top with her black slacks. Sansa tries not to think about why. It only gives her more of a headache.
"The vodka..." Sansa whispers.
Margaery purses her lips. "A necessary evil," she promises. "No lasting effects."
They remain in silence for a moment. Sansa tries to sit up, because she doesn't like being this vulnerable in front of a serial killer, even if Margaery has never had a female victim that Sansa knows of, moans at how painful that is.
"Don't try to move," Margaery tells her. She moves forward, a needle in her hands, and Sansa jerks, tries to pull away, and realizes she can't move.
Whatever it is Margaery injects her with doesn't kill her, but if Margaery went to the trouble of drugging her and waiting for her to wake up in some strange hotel room, she isn't planning on killing her. Yet.
"For reasons I'm sure you understand, you've been injected with a slow acting sedative," Margaery says, and Sansa grimaces, realizing why her head feels so fuzzy. At least it isn't poison. "You'll be asleep before this conversation is over, and when you wake, you'll be miles away from here. And I'll," she gives Sansa a shark's smile, "be far away from you."
Sansa pouts. "Or, you could stick around without a fight until I wake up and arrest you."
Margaery laughs again. "I'm sure you'd like that very much, Agent Stark."
Sansa gives her a look. "Why are you here, then?"
She doesn't want to trade quips with the woman she's been hunting for years now. She just wants answers, and she's tired and cranky enough to demand them.
"I wanted to talk," Margaery reminds her.
Sansa gives her an unimpressed look. "So talk."
A pause, and Sansa's worried for a moment that she's scared her fugitive off, that Margaery's going to get up and leave and Sansa won't be able to do a damn thing about it.
But she doesn't leave, and Sansa breathes a sigh of relief when she opens her mouth to speak again, not even caring that Margaery can hear it. Perhaps that's the drugs talking.
"I was framed," Margaery says. Sansa bites back a snort, and Margaery holds up a hand. "You said you would listen to my story, Agent Stark."
Sansa sighs. "You're right," she agrees, all too aware that this woman is a ruthless killer. "I'm sorry, I did promise to listen."
Margaery's smile dips, at that, her eyes dimming. "The first time."
Sansa squints, surprised the woman isn't trying to convince her that she has been framed for the entire killing spree. Perhaps she knows that isn't believable. "Renly?"
Margaery nods. "I married him when I was very young, you understand. I didn't know how the world really worked back then, but I thought I did."
Sansa groans, tries to reach up to rub at her forehead, and the ache slowly settling there.
"Stannis Baratheon put out a hit on him," Margaery says, realizing that Sansa isn't interested in her rationalization.
Sansa's head jerks up. "Stannis? His brother?" she asks incredulously.
Margaery's smile is pained. "When I married Renly," she explains, "Our...inclinations weren't widely accepted. If he was going to steal Robert Baratheon's company out from under Stannis Baratheon's nose, he was going to need a wife skilled in politics, and business that involves family is nothing but."
Sansa squints at her.
"But Stannis knew what he was up to, and he sent a hit man after him," Margaery says. "I was there when he died, at the exact moment that the Baratheon company transferred its funds over to Renly. It all went to me, and suddenly there was motive, and I was there when he died." She gives Sansa an unimpressed look. "You suits rather lack in imagination, after all."
"Then why'd you burn the town hall where your marriage certificate was being kept?" Sansa asks her.
Margaery sighs. "That came later. Needed to cover my tracks. My brother Loras was the only witness to our marriage, and I didn't want Cersei..." she pauses. "I'm getting ahead of myself."
Sansa licks her lips. "But...Joffrey, Aegon. You killed them. I know it."
Margaery shrugs. "I changed my name," she agrees placidly. "Started going by my grandmother's maiden name, because everyone who knew me knew about the scandal. I married Tommen Lannister, because the Lannisters are the most powerful family in King's Landing and could offer me a fresh start."
"But you didn't kill him, or steal his fortune," Sansa says, still bemused by that. In fact, according to Tommen and Myrcella, Margaery was nothing but good to them. She doesn't...get that.
"No," Margaery agrees, smiling. "I figured out that the Lannisters were all crazy, and I annulled the marriage in a few short months, because I like my head firmly on my shoulders."
Sansa thinks about what Myrcella Lannister had told her, how Margaery had attempted to help Tommen, how Cersei had forced the annulment. She realizes that Margaery isn't telling her the full truth, but she knew that already. The question is whether or not it is the truth at all.
"But then you married Joffrey." That, out of everything, Sansa doesn't understand. Why Margaery went back to the Lannisters, why she married Joffrey after leaving his brother.
Margaery gives her a long, considering look, like she's gauging how much of this Sansa is actually believing. "That was on the request of my grandmother," she says. "My brother Loras had...been press ganged into joining a cult. Cersei Lannister was responsible for their mass murder, when they chose her as the newest target of their vitriol." Her eyes darken as she speaks of her brother's murder, and Sansa thinks of the tombstone, how well kept it was. She wonders if Margaery has had anything to do with that. "My grandmother had gone to the authorities, and they were doing nothing."
"So you decided to take matters into your own hands," Sansa says, tiredly.
Margaery frowns. "I decided to find proof that she was involved, and I found some, more than. But Special Agent Baelish? He didn't want to hear it."
Sansa can almost believe that, and she hates that what Margaery's saying could be true. Hates it, because it means she's been completely wrong about the case that has consumed her entire life for so long.
"I'm sorry about your brother," Sansa says, and is surprised by how much she means it, as she thinks about her own brother's death, "But that didn't give you the right to turn into a serial killer."
"Joffrey was a pig," Margaery says, without pity. "His mother is a cold hearted bitch. I didn't feel badly about siphoning off his money into a private account."
"Or murdering him," Sansa says, more brightly than she should be able to manage, with the drugs in her system. She's feeling sleepy, already. She doesn't think she will make it through the rest of this conversation, just like Margaery warned her.
"He was a pig," Margaery repeats. "And he...wasn't a kind husband, nor a good man, to me or any of his other victims. But I didn't mean to kill him. He attacked me, one night, when I told him I wasn't interested." She shrugs. "I pushed him away from me, and he...fell." She pauses. "He deserved what I did to him, believe me."
Sansa flinches. "And the rest of them?"
Margaery shrugs, completely without remorse as she says, "Cersei wasn't pleased that I killed her baby boy. She didn't care to hear my excuses for it. I might have served some time anyway, but I'll never leave prison now, if she has her way." She shrugs. "I married Aegon, because he's from a wealthy family and I wanted his protection. She had him killed because she wanted revenge, hated the thought that I could move on with a nice, cushioned life." She shrugs.
"So you took his money and ran."
"I earned that money, believe me," Margaery says. Then, "Dickon found out I was scamming him for all of his money. He wasn't pleased."
"So you decided to do the same to any other wealthy, cruel men who came along," Sansa says. She isn't certain whether to be disgusted or shocked by the admission, gotten so easily.
For a moment, Margaery does look guilty, but it passes quickly. "Dickon wasn't cruel," she says. "I was just going to scam him out of his fortune. But he figured out what I was doing, discovered me in his vault, and he had a gun. His family was into big game hunting. I had to defend myself."
Sansa snorts. She had everything wrong about this woman. She'd thought it was about the money, because the victims were never brutalized, but it wasn't at all, it never was. "Or you could have given up the hunt."
Why is the money so important to you? Sansa wants to ask. You come from a wealthy family. You don't need it.
The words won't come. Her tongue feels wooden.
Margaery smiles at her. "I knew you'd understand, Agent Stark."
"I want you to know that I don't regret what has happened," Margaery tells her, as Sansa's eyelids begin to droop. "And that I'm not trying to justify my actions, any of them. I just wanted to set the record straight." She smiles, and the image of it sears behind Sansa's eyelids. "You ought to know who you're chasing, after all."
Sansa blinks at her, foggy. "Is that why you wanted to meet?" she asks. "To see who's chasing you?"
Margaery smiles. "Who says I'm not chasing you?"
Sansa squints at her. "So you're saying all of this has just been some cons and accidents," Sansa says dryly.
Margaery grins at her. "If you like."
"But you knew Cersei was coming after you," Sansa continues. "With Aegon. And you still kept going after these men, endangering them."
Margaery frowns. "I loved my brother very much, Agent Stark."
Sansa can't seem to stop squinting at her. "Are you telling me the truth?"
Margaery bites her lip, then smiles and repeats, "If you like."
Sansa frowns. "If you think information you gave me after drugging and kidnapping me is going to cut you any sort of deal..."
Margaery tells her, "I know it can't." Sansa frowns, but Margaery continues before she can question that. "But I think someone should be told, anyway. And besides," she leans forward, and she smells faintly of rosewater. "You want to hear this. And you deserve to, for being so...diligent, all of these years."
It's true. Sansa hates that it's true.
If she says anything else, Sansa doesn't hear it. She doesn't know what to believe.
When Sansa wakes, she is lying in the bed of a suite belonging to a much nicer hotel than the one she checked into the day before.
"I still have to arrest you," Sansa says, voice gentle.
In the end, it all goes down in a hotel room. Sansa supposes there is something ironic about that, but doesn't give Margaery the chance to make a quip when she busts down the door and finds the fugitive in her underclothes.
She trains her gun on Margaery, but the words Margaery spoke to her did get to her, and Sansa's hands are shaking in a way they haven't since she first held a gun at the Wall.
Margaery doesn't call her out on it, merely backs up, her hands up after Sansa shouts for her to put them up. Sansa marches her over to the wall and shoves her into it, doesn't think about how this is the first time they've touched since Sansa started chasing her, years ago.
Margaery's skin is very soft. Sansa almost feels guilty, cinching the cuffs around her wrists.
Margaery lifts her chin. "Or you could let me go," she says, turning her head to the side and giving Sansa a hopeful smile.
Sansa frowns disapprovingly at her. Margaery mentions, the moment Sansa has the cuffs on her, their talk, asks Sansa if it hadn't changed her mind.
It hasn't. It doesn't matter that Sansa doesn't know the full story, because it's not her job to decide right and wrong; that's for the courts to decide, not her, and the courts are no longer owned by the Lannisters.
Sansa tries to tell herself that they aren't owned by the millions of dollars that Margaery has collected in her years as a fugitive, none of it recovered when she is arrested, either.
In any case, she doesn't insist on an investigation on the money, when Margaery tells them oh so sweetly during her interrogation that she's spent it all.
Margaery has herself to thank for Cersei's lifes long sentence more than Sansa, and Sansa hates that they both know it even as she slaps the cuffs on her collar.
"I'll go with you," Margaery announces when Sansa has her gun trained on her, is waiting and dreading for her to make a move, and Sansa narrows her eyes even as she can't believe her luck and reaches for the cuffs. "As long as you promise to visit me."
Sansa hesitates. She doesn't want to visit Margaery in prison. She knows that Margaery doesn't just mean this as a one time thing. She knows that if she does, she will never be able to get Margaery out of her mind.
She'll be screwed, and for the rest of her life.
Still, that doesn't stop her from saying, "Yes, I'll visit you."
It sounds like a promise of something more final than that, and Sansa forces herself not to read more into it as she frog marches Margaery down the elevator of the hotel and out to the squad car.
A few months go by. She gets her promotion, Baelish's job, which is all kinds of ironic, though no one else seems to think so. She hates it. It's much more money but too much desk work, when she's used to being in the field, now. Or maybe the problem is that she only decided on this career choice in the first place to get justice for her parents and her brother, and now that she has it, she doesn't see much of a reason to remain in a career of long hours and little attachments.
She wishes she had Arya's determination, but she's beginning to think that Arya didn't just choose the job she did because of their parents.
More months go by. Margaery sends her a Christmas card from prison, and Sansa hangs it on her wall next to the three other Christmas cards she gets, and purposely doesn't think about why she isn't throwing it away. Then New Years, alone at a bar, and Sansa fucks a stranger but has the presence of mind not to whisper Margaery's name when she comes, which is only because the sex is so boring, though her partner doesn't seem to realize it.
And then she gets the call that Sansa has been waiting for from the moment she slapped cuffs on Margaery Tyrell.
"Margaery Tyrell has escaped prison," Mya walks into Sansa's office and tells her, and Sansa freezes up, frowning, because she realizes this is her responsibility and might cost her promotion if she can't find Margaery again, and then remembers that she hates her job, and only manages not to smile until Mya leaves the room.
They'll give the case to her, whether or not she's now a supervisor with a much glorified but much less glorifying position, Sansa knows, as long as she asks for it. It was her case, and it's what got her this job, besides the luck of collaring Baelish and the Lannisters.
And she wants it, Sansa just doubts she'll be able to remain objective if she takes it.
Margaery's trial was the sensation of King's Landing, in the months after her arrest. It was almost as dramatic as Cersei's, though Sansa suspects nothing will ever be quite as dramatic as the trial of a century, as many have taken to calling Cersei Lannister's trial.
The Lannisters don't have the same amount of power they used to. They didn't own the judge who looked down her nose at Cersei throughout her trial, and the woman was not impressed with Cersei's elite problems or mental issues.
She got two consecutive life sentences.
Margaery, in comparison, was let off lightly. She batted her eyelashes at the jury, at the judge, and at the prosecution. She even batted them at Sansa, when Sansa was called up to the witness stand and forced to recount the night of her drugging, when Margaery had confessed to her, and whether or not she thought this confession had merit.
(Sansa is embarrassed by how easily she folded to the defense, still. The prosecution was not impressed, and it almost cost her job.)
Margaery got fifteen years, because she did kill Dickon Tarly in self defense, did kill Joffrey in self defense. It was a lot better than Sansa was expecting, a lot better than the Tyrells were expecting, Sansa thinks, too.
The Tyrells are now the most powerful family in King's Landing. The Lannisters are at a fraction of their former power, with Cersei arrested, Tywin killed by his youngest son, who was also arrested, and Jaime Lannister engaged to a Fed.
At least Margaery got the fair trial she wanted for Cersei Lannister, though Sansa wonders how much consolation that is to her in prison.
Well, she isn't in prison any longer, and Sansa shivers at the realization. She thinks back to how Margaery acted during her trial, and wonders if she was ever planning on submitting to authority and remaining in prison, even if Sansa went back on her word and didn't visit her there once.
She doesn't feel guilty about it. Well, she feels guilty about the guards Margaery gave bad headaches to when she escaped.
Sansa grabs her coat and walks out of her office, finds her agents all gathered around a laptop screen, squinting at it, and wonders when she's going to develop the sort of voice that they listen to.
Then she sees the tagline of the video they're watching on some news site: Tyrells welcome wayward daughter home.
Sansa freezes, sees that Mya isn't among the group watching, and edges closer.
"Which daughter?" Sansa asks Pod, where he stands with arms folded, watching with much more interest than the situation warrants. Sansa supposes she has no room to judge; the Tyrells are all very pretty, and she's heard that Willas Tyrell is entering politics, despite his family's tradition of manipulating politics from the sidelines.
"Elinor," he tells her, brows furrowed, and she thinks about the many nights they spent in this office, trying to track down Elinor Tyrell the moment they realized she meant something to Margaery, before they even knew that Margaery was a Tyrell herself.
"Elinor Tyrell?" Sansa asks incredulously, leaning forward to watch the screen, to watch the young woman throwing her arms around Olenna Tyrell and clinging to her with all of the fervor of a-
Well, of a much closer relative than Elinor has ever given Sansa the impression of being with her family.
Someone like a granddaughter whom Olenna Tyrell adores, judging by the way she is squeezing the girl back.
Sansa is impressed. The girl hugging Olenna is so similar in looks to Elinor that she almost believes it is her, that, if she hadn't visited Elinor a thousand times trying to track down Margaery, and knows that the girl would never reconcile with her family, she would believe it.
But it's not Elinor, and Sansa's blood is pumping. She doesn't know if it's because she's ready to get back into the hunt or because she's a damn fool who has been steadily falling for her suspect for years, but it does promise some higher level of excitement than she's been getting from her job for months.