Sansa has never had to host an army before, let alone one of this magnitude. If the reports she's received are correct, her life was about to become much more stressful than she would care to admit aloud.
As they do their best to prepare for the arrival of Jon and the Targaryen Queen's armies, Sansa thinks over what little information she's heard of this foreign queen and how best to handle her.
She knows of course that she has three dragons, which is a phenomenal feat in itself. She's also aware that the Targaryen commands legions of warriors she brought with her from the east.
Samwell Tarly had told her how he remembers reading a raven to their former maester, who was her last surviving kin, about how she was fairing in the east. She had refused to leave Slaver's Bay and come to Westeros until the freedom of the former slaves was secure. That had intrigued Sansa quite a bit. It told her much and more about what mattered to this queen- the people. It was a fact that Sansa kept carefully tucked away and was ready to use should she feel the need.
She knows that she is very beautiful. Apparently, even more beautiful than Cersei.
Sansa can't deny that the feats this woman has achieved in such a short time is something to be greatly admired. But, that doesn't mean she will so willingly bow to her.
From the summons they had received, she knows that her first husband, Tyrion Lannister, rides with her as Hand of the Queen. Who knew he would disappear for so long after being accused of killing Joffrey only to come back at the side of a conqueror.
She gives a bemused smirk at the thought, wondering what it will be like to see him again.
The lords are anxious about the arrival of the Targaryen. Some are still outright opposed to it and have voiced their complaints. Loudly. And often. She finally had enough of their incessant squabbling when one of the lords accused Jon of falling prey to the Targaryen's beauty and is coming to help her conquer them. Arya had almost jumped across the table but Sansa stood up and slammed her goblet down, her face livid. The hall immediately fell deathly quiet. She reminded them what is coming for them all and she will not hear anymore of these absolutely ridiculous accusations about their king. That the Targaryen queen is coming to help them. That she let Jon take as much dragonglass as the ship could hold.
She rubs her temples at the memory. How did they expect to win against such an enemy by themselves? She's opposed to the idea of returning to the fold of the Iron Throne under a Southron ruler just as much as the next Northerner. But even she understands that the time for such prejudices has come to an end. Their Northern pride was going to get them all killed if they didn't put it aside. The North Remembers, yes. Sometimes too well to actually be able to move on to build a better future.
She hasn't told the other lords that Jon has bent the knee. With the way they reacted to hearing that Daenerys Stormborn's entire force and dragons are coming North, Sansa can't have them conspiring against Jon and decide to leave with their soldiers when the dead are coming for them all.
And honestly, she's not going to take the brunt of their anger for his rash decision that he didn't think to consult her or anyone else about before making. To bend the knee to a queen none of the Northerners have met was foolish. Besides, she wouldn't be able to answer their questions and accusations when she herself doesn't know anything.
She loves him, she really does. He, Arya, and Bran are the only family she has left. She knows he's good and honorable just like father. The fact that he's looking out for not only the North, but the entire realm for no reason other than wanting to save them all from the dead, is something no one else would do if there was nothing to gain for themselves.
But the way he constantly makes decisions based on his heart more than his head causes her to want to strangle him sometimes. She knows he must have a good reason to have bent the knee. He wouldn't simply do as this queen bid because she shot him a pretty smile. She just wishes he had waited and discussed it when he got back. But, she can't change what has already happened. She can simply control what could happen and be prepared for the other hundred possible outcomes. One of the lessons Littlefinger taught her that's actually useful.
And she will be heard by her brother on this matter before he carelessly blathers his decision to the lords.
She sighs and looks over at Arya and sees how her sister flips the dagger Bran gave her over and over as she stares blankly ahead.
"Arya," she says, waiting until those grey eyes so much like father's turn towards her. "I know you are not one for being a lady and following standard courtesies, but I'm asking you to please show some decorum when Jon arrives. At least bow before attacking him. Better yet, wait for him to come to you. We cannot give away anything that can be later used against us by the lords or this foreign queen. Especially when we must play this mummer's farce that Jon is still king." Her tone serious as she allows her sister to read the truth on her face.
She stares at Sansa for a moment before she huffs out a "Fine."
She regards Sansa a moment before saying, "I'm sure he had good reason for doing what he did." Her sister's boundless loyalty to Jon still somehow manages to surprise her at times.
"I do as well, Arya. But the fact remains that if he arrives and immediately tells the lords he's bent the knee, they will riot and then Jon will be lord of nothing. They chose him because he fights for them. And with hardly receiving any word from him all these moons, it's caused them to worry. You have seen how they've been, Arya. Even though Littlefinger is gone, he still managed to plant seeds of doubt in some of their minds," she says, the steel in her voice sharp as the dagger in her sister's hand.
"I know Jon is focusing on the threat of the dead more than the threat of the living and refuses to play the game of thrones, but father refused as well and look what happened," she says, the emotion clogging her throat as she looks sadly at her sister.
"And we cannot simply behead everyone who opposes us, as you wish to do. Otherwise, what kind of house would we be? We'd be just like the Lannisters," her eyes narrow slightly to emphasize her point.
"So we will play this wretched game until we have what we need in order for our pack to survive," she finishes sternly.
Arya looks at her, her face not giving anything away as she does. She finally smirks at her and nods her head in agreement.
"Alright. You know how to play it best, dear sister. This once, I will try to keep my more...unsavory ideas to myself, unless need be," she tells her slyly.
Sansa nods just as they hear the horns sound, signaling the arrival of Jon. She watches in bemusement as Arya bolts from her seat and runs to the gates. She shakes her head at her little sister and walks at a slower pace to stand at the entrance of Winterfell. Samwell Tarly walks behind her soon thereafter, pushing Bran.
The sight she sees makes her gasp and her eyes widen. She hears other respond in a similar manner, murmurs passing throughout the gathered company.
An approaching black mass swallows the landscape in front of them and she cannot see the end of it. Tens of thousands of riders and thousands more on foot. The sound of their combined footsteps pounding against the ground and the neighs of the horses strikes more fear into Sansa than any wars drums.
She looks to Arya and sees a matching expression of shock at the sheer number of warriors heading their way. She's suddenly glad that this horde is coming to them as allies and not as foes.
Then her breath completely leaves her when she hears a terrible roar from above that reverberates through her. All eyes look up to see a creature beyond measure drop down from the clouds. Its green scales glitter in the dim winter light like dull gems. Even from this distance, she knows it could easily swallow a horse whole. It's massive in size but the one that follows makes her heart almost stop. Never in her life has she even imagined seeing something the size of the beast she's witnessing now. The entire courtyard is eerily quiet as the people watch the dragons in the sky with terror.
A species that has been gone from the world for over one hundred years, come to battle a foe that hasn't been seen in thousands.
She's certain the black dragon could cover almost the entire keep. Even here so far north, she's heard the rumors of how this dragon is thought to be Balerion reborn. "The Winged Shadow", it's called. And she understands why when it flies over them, covering them all in total darkness until it passes over, releasing another monstrous cry that causes snow to fall from its placements on the walls. The answering call of the green one creates a terrible song.
Arya's eyes widen in wonder at the sight. She'd heard whispers about the infamous Queen of Meereen and her dragons while she was in Braavos, but to actually see the dragons is something else entirely. It's as though history has ripped itself out of the books she'd obsessively read as a child and come to life before her eyes. The very last of their kind. It's poignantly beautiful in a way.
The dragons fly around each other in an intricate dance, their screeches echoing down to the usual silence caused by the winter snows. The exhilaration she feels at witnessing such displays from the colossal creatures is more intense than she's ever felt before.
As she takes in every detail she can, she's able to see hints of red in the wings of the black one and she quickly looks at the smaller green one to see if it has any other colors. When it turns sideways in the air, she sees bronze intermingling among the scales. She briefly wonders if all dragons were actually two colors. No matter what she thinks of this queen, she knows she will never forget when the dragons came to the North. Her eyes frantically search for the third but oddly, it doesn't show.
She tears her eyes away from the dragons and watches the riders approach. She sees Jon riding next to a figure wearing a white and grey hooded cloak who could only be the queen. Behind them she can see a man with a greeting beard ride behind Jon, along with the queen's company. She makes out a small figure that can only be Tyrion Lannister. A woman with honey skin and a halo of spiraling dark brown hair rides next to Tyrion, her eyes taking in everything around her as the dwarf points around in obvious explanation. She sees an older Westerosi man riding right behind the queen and the bald head of what looks like Lord Varys. Behind them she sees the light blonde hair of Lady Brienne. But she's unable to see any of the other riders behind them.
When the group is close enough to them, they stop and dismount from their horses. Stable hands go up to take the horses from them and Sansa is able to see just how short the queen is. For some reason, she expected her to be taller and more imposing from all the stories she's heard of her. Jon offers his arm and walks her to them. When he sees Arya and Bran, a huge grin breaks out but he doesn't say anything, deciding to hold himself until the formal introductions are taken care of.
When the queen stops in front of them, she removes the hood of her white cloak and Sansa sees the rumors of her are clearly true. The petite woman before her possesses such a heartbreaking loveliness that it almost hurts to look at her. Her silver hair is intricately braided, with loose strands around her face that hang down to her chest. Her delicate features could mislead a person into thinking she's a soft woman, until you look into those unsettling violet eyes and see the formidable strength and hardness in them. Her rosy cheeks and full pink lips stand out against her skin. With the surrounding white of winter blending in with her hair and cloak, she looks as though she's some sort of mythical figure made from the snow itself.
"May I present Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of her name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons," the honey skinned woman says to the assembled lords and ladies before she steps back behind the queen. While the woman lists the many titles of this queen, Jon gives the crowd a penetrating stare to show he will not accept any public intolerance from them. When they all bow accordingly, he turns to the queen with a small smile.
"Your Grace, I present the Lady of Winterfell and Lady Regent of the North, Sansa of House Stark. As well as Lady Arya, and Lord Bran of House Stark," Jon tells her, thankfully remembering his formalities.
The silver queen smiles and dips her head in greeting.
Sansa recalls all her teachings and curtsies low before them as befitting royalty.
"Welcome to Winterfell, Your Grace," she says to the petite woman.
"Thank you, Lady Sansa, for your hospitality in allowing us to stay," the queen replies, a small smile on her face. Even her voice has a unique quality to it, almost like bells.
Sansa then turns to Jon and says, "Welcome home, my king." She gives him a warning look to not say anything in front of the other lords. The Targaryen raises an eyebrow at that and side eyes Jon but stays silent.
After a brief hesitation, he takes her hint and nods. "Thank you for holding the North in my stead," he tells her before he wraps her in his usual tight hug.
"I've not told them yet," she whispers in his ear before releasing him and turning back to the queen.
"Your Grace, your men are welcomed to set camp here," she tells her.
"Thank you, Lady Sansa. I know there are many of them so I have made sure that we bring our own supplies and foods. I also offer twenty and two carts of foods for the North as a gesture of good will towards our alliance," she tells Sansa.
Not expecting the offering, Sansa bows her head in gratitude. "You're too kind, Your Grace. We graciously accept. As you can see, the winter is hard," she tells her, gesturing to the bitter cold landscape are them.
The woman turns to the small group behind her.
"May I introduce my small council," she says as she begins gesturing to each one.
"Missandei of Naath. My translator and one of my advisors," she says and the honey skinned woman bows her head in greeting.
"Captain of my Queensguard, Ser Jorah Mormont," she says.
The older knight bows as well. A gasp is heard from behind and his eyes dart to where Sansa assumes Lyanna is.
"The last of my advisors, Lord Varys."
The bald man bows and says, "A pleasure to see you well, Lady Sansa."
Keeping her formalities in check, Sansa dips her head in acknowledgment.
"You as well, my lord," she says politely.
"And Hand of the Queen, Tyrion Lannister," she finishes as she looks down at the small man immediately to her right.
He silently bows as he looks around at the reactions from the other lords.
The small queen turns to a dark skinned man with a shorn head and speaks to him a language that has a musical quality to it. Then she turns back to Sansa.
"Grey Worm is commander of my Unsullied," she says to her. He tips his head to Sansa then bows to the queen before he walks back to the armies and begins giving out orders.
"Jhogo is one of my blood riders for my Dothraki," she says as she introduces a tall, hard looking man with a long dark braid dressed in thick brown furs. She turns to him and speaks in a different language that's harsher and more guttural. He doesn't even look in their direction. He simply nods to small woman and begins shouting at the riders.
The dragon queen turns and gives a small smile before looking around at the nervous reactions of the people when a shrill cry echoes in the air.
"My dragons will not harm any here, my lady," she tells Sansa even though she's looking at the gathered group. Her voice is louder so all can hear her as she looks around with a stern expression. "They will hunt away from us and will do nothing but occasionally fly over or help with my armies' fires should the wood be too wet. We have come to help the North. Please do not be afraid of them."
Her declaration that the dragons will stay away seems to be what the people needed to hear as some of the tension leaves those around them.
She looks at Sansa again and smiles kindly. "Lady Sansa, might I meet the other lords and ladies?," she asks. Once again, Sansa is slightly surprised by this conqueror of a woman. When they last had a royal family here, Robert went straight to the crypts and Cersei straight to her rooms.
Sansa glances at Jon to see him watching the queen, his face giving nothing away. However, she sees how his eyes are soft as he regards the woman.
"Of course, Your Grace," she says and leads her over to the group behind her to make introductions.
Sansa watches as she gives them kind, pleasant smiles even as they introduce themselves with hesitant, untrusting looks.
Arya, having enough of decorum, lunges at Jon, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck to the point of cutting off his air. He doesn't seem to mind as he laughs and spins her around, his arms hugging her just as tight.
"I've missed you little sister," he murmurs before releasing her and holding her at arm's length.
"Now, let me get a look at you," he says his eyes taking in every new detail of the young woman before him.
She does the same, noticing the scars around his eye and the hardened edges of his face. His curls are tied back away from his face and it reminds her of how father would always wear his hair.
No longer does she see the sullen, quiet boy that he used to be. Instead she sees a man who's been shaped by time, loss, and war. He stands tall and confident, not hiding away in the shadows as he did. There's an air around him now that commands respect, even though he's most likely unaware of it.
"You still have Needle," he exclaims in surprise, a huge grin at the fact that she continues to carry the sword he gave her.
"Of course I do," she tells him proudly. She then looks over at the dragon queen for a moment before turning back to Jon. She catches the look in his eye as he watches the petite woman greet the other lords but he seems to come back to himself and the look is gone as he smiles back down at her.
Curious, Arya thinks as her brother acts as though nothing happened. She makes a note to ask him about that when they're alone.
"You'll have to tell me what you've been up to since I last saw you once the queen settles in," he tells her.
"Same to you," she replies slyly.
He looks at her for a moment when his eyes land on Bran.
"Bran!," he happily exclaims as he bends down to hug him.
"Hello, Jon," Bran says with a neutral expression on his face.
"Where have you been?," Jon asks in wonder.
"Beyond the Wall," Bran replied calmly as he looks up at the older man.
Jon's eyes widen at that. "How....why?," he stutters.
"To become the Three- Eyed Raven," he replies.
Jon looks at him confused but takes it in stride and nods his head as he simply says, "Oh."
"He's like one of the Children," a voice from behind them says.
Jon's eyes nearly pop out of his head at the sight of his friend and a giant grin splits his face.
"Sam! What are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to be at the Citadel," he exclaims as he embraces his former brother.
"I was but I'm needed up here more. They won't believe any of the reports and I had had enough," Sam explains sheepishly.
Jon doesn't seem to mind as he pats his friend on the back.
As she stands off to the side, watching the queen, a throat clears behind her and Sansa turns to see Lord Tyrion looking up at her.
"My lady," he says politely.
"My lord," she replies.
"It does me good to see you back home where you belong," he says kindly, a small smile on his face.
She can't help the smile that graces her own face as she bends down to give her former husband a gentle hug.
"I'm glad to see that you're still alive and well, Tyrion," she says, remembering how he'd told her to call him that when they were married.
He chuckles as he releases her and looks at her face.
"You've grown to be as lovely and strong as your mother," he says gently.
Her throats tightens at the compliment. To know that this man she used to loathe when she had to marry him, can still be so kind to her is something she will always cherish. She gives him a grateful smile then stands back up.
"So, you're Hand of the Queen, I see," she says, glancing down at the broach.
"Yes, who would have thought," he says with a smile as he looks over at the silver woman who is still conversing with the other lords.
"You seem quite fond of her," she states, trying to get a read on this woman from her old husband.
Unfortunately, Tyrion sees right through her and smirks. "It's hard not to be. Even cynics like myself have found that she inspires a great deal of loyalty to her," he says honestly.
Sansa raises an eyebrow at that and hums in response.
Tyrion regards her with a calculating look then. "I assure you my lady, she is not like the rulers we've known. She is not my sister," he tells her.
"We shall see, won't we my lord?," she responds before she sees the head of Lord Varys across the yard.
"It seems Lord Varys has changed sides as well," she observes. Tyrion looks over at the eunuch before nodding his head and meeting her eyes again.
"He too believes that Queen Daenerys can change this world for the better," he responds.
Sansa looks down at Tyrion then, her gaze piercing his own as she asks, "Do you truly believe that? That she's good and not mad like her father?" She truly wants to know what this woman is like.
The almost devote admiration that flashes for a moment in his eyes surprises her as he says, "I do. She has her flaws like all of us. She has a Targaryen ruthlessness that is terrifying to behold and she can be impulsive. But, she wants what's good for the people, not just herself."
She regards him carefully for a moment.
"I hope you're right, my lord. I truly do," she sighs before giving him a polite smile.
He nods in response then makes his way towards his queen when he sees that their company has reached Lyanna Mormont.
Sansa watches how Jorah Mormont went stiff as a board as the young lady scrutinizes him.
"Lady Mormont," Daenerys says, "it is a pleasure to meet the head of the strong house of Bear Island."
The young lady takes her eyes away from Jorah and gives the queen a hard look.
"And yet you feel comfortable enough to bring a disgraced member of our house as you tell me your...pleasantries," Lyanna says.
Sansa looks nervously at the silver queen and then at her guards who have now directed their entire attention on the girl who would dare speak to their queen in such open hostility.
Daenerys raises her brow at the young woman as her smile fades and gives her an equally hard stare as she replies, "I have no intention of dishonoring your house, my lady. That is not why I am here. I am here to aid in fighting the army of the dead that has come for us all. I understand the nature of Ser Jorah's past actions. That being said, I will also not turn away a man who has been my advisor since I was little older than yourself and has shown me unending loyalty."
The queen's tone is sharp as a blade and causes the entire courtyard to quiet. The surrounding lords tense as they watch the two before them. Sansa sees Jon watching the queen intently, as though waiting to step in if need be.
Ser Jorah clears his throat and Lyanna's eyes snap to him as he steps up and bows in supplication to his young cousin.
"My lady, I am not here to cause any strife in our house. House Mormont is yours and always will be. I am here to serve my queen and assist in fighting in this war against the dead. And should we all survive, I will go south with Queen Daenerys and never darken the North again," he says fervently.
The queen's gaze softens as she looks upon her knight before she turns to look back at Lady Lyanna.
The young girl looks from the queen to the bowing man for a moment before she gives a sharp nod.
"Very well," she says at last. Ser Jorah rises and steps back.
The breath Sansa was holding slowly releases as she sees the rigid posture of the queen relax slightly.
Lady Lyanna looks at Daenerys and gives her nod as well. "I will accept your pleasantries then, as well as your help...Your Grace," she says, showing the queen the respect of addressing her title.
Daenerys smirks at the young bear and tips her head. "I thank you, my lady." Then she moves on to the next lord.
She sees Jon's shoulders relax slightly as he watches the queen a moment longer before turning back to Samwell.
Sansa gives a silent sigh as she sees just how much work they have before them to get the Northern lords to see what this foreign queen is offering them all.
She sees Brienne and motions her over. The female knight bows once she approaches.
"My lady," she says respectfully to Sansa.
"I'm glad to see you returned safely, Lady Brienne," she says as she gives the tall woman a kind smile.
"Thank you, my lady," her sworn shield responds.
"I assume all went well?," she asks, keeping an eye on the crowd around her.
"Yes, my lady. Cersei Lannister has sworn her forces to our cause and will begin preparations to send them to the North," Brienne says solemnly.
Sansa finds that extremely hard to believe from what she remembers from her time with the golden queen. But, perhaps they convinced her and she now understands that they're all facing a greater war.
As she continues to watch Jon talk to Sam, Arya hears footsteps approach.
"I see you're still alive," a gravelly voice says behind her.
Arya turns to look up at the face of the Hound.
Her eyebrows raise slightly as she takes in his appearance. His beard is thicker and longer and his hair seems to have grown out. He looks worn down but still just as menacing.
"What are you doing here?," she asks curiously.
"I've come to be your new maester," he replies sarcastically. "What do you think I'm doing? I've come to fucking fight," he replies with a look of exasperation.
She smirks at his callousness. Yes, this is the Hound she remembers riding with.
"Speaking of fighting, I hear you're quite the fighter now. No more of that pansy water dancing, I take it?," he asks as he looks over the weapons on her person.
"Worried I'll come to take you off my list, Hound?," she asks sweetly.
He lets out a harsh laugh and shakes his head. "I'm not planning on gettin' in your way, girl," he tells her.
She purses her lips at that and gives him a nod.
"So I take it you know what we're fighting then?," she asks.
He gives a grim nod, "Aye, I've seen 'em. Let's hope your new skills work. You'll need them." Then he turns away without further explanation.
Her eyebrow raises at that but she suddenly sees Ghost out of the corner of her eye.
He happily greets Jon with licks and prods as his tail whipping eagerly. Jon laughs at the reception and murmurs softly to his wolf before the wolf turns his red eyes to the strangers.
The great direwolf approaches the new arrivals. Everyone but the queen and her Hand give the giant wolf hesitant stares and take a small step back. Tyrion, on the other hand, grins up at the beast.
"Ah, Ghost. You've grown since last I saw you," he says as he extends his hand towards him, but leaves it in the air to make sure it's alright. He remembers what happened the last time he tried to pet the direwolf in this courtyard and he almost bit his hand off.
The direwolf stares at Tyrion with his red eyes for moment then drops low so his head can be scratched by the dwarf. Once done, he turns to Daenerys.
The petite woman gives a small smile up at the great wolf before her, her hands casually folded in front of her.
"Hello," she murmurs to him, making his tail wag slightly. "My, you are an absolutely magnificent creature, aren't you?" The wonder in her voice clearly evident as she takes in the wolf before her. But, if she rides dragons and calls them her children, then Arya supposes a direwolf is nothing for her to fear.
Ghost's ears prick all the way forward as he cocks his head to the side, which causes the queen's smile to widen, showing the dimples in her cheeks, and her amethyst eyes to dance at the sight.
Arya notices all the stunned looks from the men at the sight of the beautiful queen's smile as she interacts with the direwolf and mentally rolls her eyes. No wonder this queen has so many devoted followers.
She turns her head back to Ghost as he leans down to sniff the silver queen's offered hand. When he makes no move against her, she slowly raises it to scratch him behind the ear. All the while, he silently watches her with interest.
As she looks upon the two, she can't help but grudgingly see the appeal of the woman. The combination of the queen's silver hair with her white and grey furs as she pets the white wolf is an almost unearthly beautiful scene with the snow falling around them. It's reminiscent of something out of a fantasy.
"You have eyes like my Drogon," she murmurs as she stares directly at the silent wolf. "But where his are more akin to the liquid flame found deep in the earth, yours shine like polished garnets." She looks over the wolf's face before she continues. "You have the look of the North in your fur, but a fire in your eyes, don't you?" His tail wags side to side as she compliments him.
She then strokes along his muzzle and traces his eye as she keeps eye contact with him, a contemplative look on her face. The two stare at each other for a moment as if in a silent conversation before the queen breaks out another one of her lovely smiles.
Ghost puts his nose against the side of her neck and takes a deep breath, as though taking in her scent to associate her for future encounters. He then huffs, his hot breath making the loose strands of her hair lift slightly and tickle her neck. The queen lets out a small, tinkling laugh at the gesture. He steps back and turns his great head to lightly lick her hand before he steps away, seemingly satisfied with her.
"He approves," Jon says with a small affectionate smile, knowing the sight of the queen and his wolf will be forever burned into his memory.
Arya's eyes narrow slightly as she sees the way her brother looks at the queen. And how, in turn, the queen gives Jon a pleased smile, her eyes shining with happiness. But, then her expression immediately turns polite and pleasant as she continues on.
Again, Arya stores that interaction to be looked at later.
When she searches the remaining company, her eyes stop on a face that she never expected to see again.
His hair's shorter but everything else is the same as she remembers him. She slowly approaches him, when he sees her, a smile takes over his face and he watches her until she's right in front of him.
"Hello Arry," he says, "is it too late to take you up on that offer?"
"You..," she stutters, not believing her old friend is actually here.
"You stupid bull," she says, smacking him on the chest, "what are you doing here?"
"I've come to help," he tells her seriously, his smile dropping.
She shakes her head at him then stands on her toes to wrap her arms around his neck. He's still for a moment and she knows he's reacting to all the eyes that must be on them, but she doesn't care. She never thought she'd see her friend again and they can all burn in the hells. He finally wraps his arm around her in a one armed hug.
"I'm sorry I left you, Arry," he murmurs.
She takes the opportunity to whack him upside the back of his head and steps out of the embrace.
"Ow!," he exclaims, rubbing the back of his head and staring at her in shock.
"Don't do that again," she tells him sternly.
"Whatever you say, my lady," he says with a smirk.
She hits him again.
"Don't call me that," she says, trying to hide the smile that wants to break free at the memory of this exact conversation all those years ago.
"What have you even been doing? I thought the red woman took you," she says.
"She did, but Davos managed to help me escape. I've been working in King's Landing since. Luckily, Davos came for me again so I left with him. And now I'm helping your brother," he replies.
She wrinkles her nose in disgust at him having to go back to King's Landing but says nothing about it.
"Glad you got out," she says instead.
He gives her a smile at that. "Me too. But it's cold here," he replies honestly.
She can't help but laugh at his sour expression as he looks at the snowy landscape with disdain.
When she sees Sansa looking at her curiously, she knows she'll have to explain her behavior. She gives a mental sigh at the prospect.
But thankfully, it won't be right now because someone else catches her sister's eye as a surprised look crosses her sister's pretty face.
Sansa is beyond surprised to see Sandor Clegane among the crowd of arrivals as he approaches her.
"Ser Sandor," she says with a nod of her as she takes in the face of her surly former protector.
He sighs and shakes his head. "I still ain't no damn knight, little bird," he says as he looks at Sansa, taking in the woman she's become since he last saw her. She smiles slightly at his use of the nickname she hasn't heard in years.
"Although," he says thoughtfully, "I guess you're no longer a little bird. Looks like you finally stopped singing your pretty songs and got out of your cage."
"I did," she agrees with a nod.
"You're here with the queen?," she asks curiously after a moment.
He snorts at that. "No. It's as I told the she wolf. I'm here to fight."
Her brow raises at that but before she can say anything else, she sees how the arriving group begins to slowly try to make their inside out of the cold.
She turns back to Sandor saying, "Clegane, please excuse me. I will have you all shown to your rooms." Then she turns and begins having the servants round up the guests to escort them inside.
She makes her way to the group surrounding the queen and sees that Jon has returned to her side and sees the two speaking quietly to each other. They cease their discussion when she stops in front of them. She looks at Jon a moment before turning to the silver woman.
She dips her head and says, "Your Grace, the servants will show you and your company to the rooms we have prepared. I pray you forgive me but I must speak to the king." Her tone brooking no argument for any other option.
"Of course, Lady Sansa," the queen says as her purple gaze looks over Sansa. "Perhaps we may speak before the evening meal." It's obvious that, while the queen's tone may be kind, she is not requesting. She is demanding.
"That will be fine, Your Grace," Sansa replies. "We will be in the king's solar."
The queen nods and turns to smile politely at the young servant girl. She and her group follow the girl to their assigned rooms while the Northern lords depart to their own.
"Shall we?," she asks as she turns to Jon.
"Of course," he replies, smiling at Arya as she comes to stand next to them.
He turns to Sam and claps him on the back again. "I'll come find you and you can tell me what you've been up to," he says to his friend.
"Yes, you've much to tell me as well," Sam says. He smiles at Jon then turns to make his way to the library.
The siblings begin to head inside as well, Jon pushing Bran's chair while the sisters were on either side, when a particularly hard gust of wind blows up their cloaks and causes the snow to swirl around them.
It was going to be a long winter indeed...
But the pack survives.