She waits for Harry to show up.
The early April weather seems to know the mood of the day. A light icy sprinkle falls from the sky, soaking the ground around them. The pastor’s words are lost to the wind as he stands in front of her parents’ caskets, delivering the first handful of dirt as they are lowered into the ground.
Bran clings to Robb’s hand with both of his, hiding his tiny face in his sleeve. Robb gently detangles his hand from Bran’s and wraps his arm around the small boy’s shoulders, pulling him closer. Rickon is cradled in Arya’s embrace, head resting against her shoulder as he naps, oblivious to the pain around him. And maybe that was for the best.
Sansa looks towards the gates of the cemetery again, waiting to see that blue SUV pull up.
There’s a gentle touch on her hand and looking around, she sees Jon watching her worriedly. Sansa lets out a small sound, pushing her fingers through her hair that is already falling out of its ponytail. Raindrops cover the lenses of Jon’s glasses and she finds herself wondering how he can even see out of those things.
Where is Harry, she questions again. She sees Jeyne standing on the other side of Robb and Bran, her tiny frame taut with tension. Ygritte’s there too but to Sansa’s surprise, she’s not with Jon.
The ring on her left hand is heavy and slick, sliding up over her knuckle every time she slides her fingers together.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...”
Her parents would have hated this.
Fortunately, the services come to an end after that. The mourners begin to fill out and Sansa looks one last time for Harry’s blue SUV.
Brienne Tarth is suddenly standing there, looking as chic as ever in a fitted black suit. Her short blond hair is brushed back from her face, the blue of her eyes standing out against the dreariness of this horrible day.
“I’m so sorry,” their family lawyer and friend says. “I am so sorry to do this to you now but I need for you to come by my office. I have something really important to share with you.”
Robb looks around at Sansa, who looks around at Arya. Arya grunts, shifting Rickon’s still snoozing form in her arms and is rescued by Jon. “I’ll take the boys home. You three go.”
“Are you sure?” Robb asks.
Jon nods. Rickon stirs then, softly asking to get down. Robb leans over, whispering something in Bran’s ear that gets the six year old to take Jon’s extended hand without question. “We’ll see you soon, love.”
Jon starts talking, blathering on actually to the boys in what was an obvious effort to distract them from the fact that they had just buried their parents. Sansa’s name is called by Arya three times as she watches them go, before she turns to follow her sister and brother.
Brienne’s office is colder than usual.
Robb stands by the window, hands dug deep in his pockets as he stares out the frosted panes. Arya tinkers with the small space heater on the floor, her slight frame trembling and not from the chill in the air of the aged room.
Sansa remains seated, legs and arms crossed so tightly she doesn’t think she will ever be able to unlink them again.
Brienne walks in a moment later, carrying what seems to an enormous file tucked in a manila folder. The older woman apologizes again as Arya and Robb retake their seats, flipping the front of the folder open after letting it fall to the desk. “This is about Brandon and Rickon’s custody arrangement.”
“Custody arrangement?” Robb repeats.
“Wait, are they –“
Brienne shakes her head. “No, no, no.” She extends a long white finger, gesturing to the packet of papers. “Your parents have already appointed a guardian for your brothers in the event of their deaths. And now...now that that has come to pass, it’s time that this is brought to light.”
“Who did they appoint?” Arya asks.
Robb leans back in his chair after his gaze flits over the paper, letting out a small breath. “Me.”
Sansa’s eyebrows shoot to her hair. “You?”
“They also chose your great uncle Brynden Tully, in the event that Robb decided not to take the boys on,” Brienne says. “But, I’ve spoken to your uncle and he said he is willing to take them but would really rather not.”
The three Starks in front of her are silent.
“You have no living grandparents. And your aunt Lysa lives in New York City in a mental institution, obviously not fit to raise children.”
“It was really either me or Blackfish?” Robb’s already reaching for a pen. Brienne nods. “All right.”
“Robb, are you sure?” Sansa asks.
He nods, scribbling his name down on each spot that Brienne had highlighted. “Do you really think I’m going to send those boys to Chicago?”
“Well of course not but –“
“It doesn’t matter. Here you are, Brienne.” He hands her back the file and Brienne signs it herself. “Is it over?”
Robb’s out of the room before Sansa can say anything else, the heavy wooden door clattering shut behind him. “Sorry,” she gets to her feet, wiping the invisible dust off of her skirt. “He doesn’t mean to be –“
Brienne shakes her head. “Not at all. Please.” The blonde takes a surprised step back when Sansa throws her arms around her shoulders. “What’s this for?”
“Thank you for everything you have done for us in the last three years.” She’s mumbling like an idiot but Sansa had stopped caring a long time ago.
Brienne gently pats her elbow and pulls away to look ardently at the both of them. “If there is anything either of you need, you won’t hesitate to let me know, all right?”
Arya nods and thanks her softly before steering Sansa from the office. Robb’s waiting for them outside by his car and it is then Sansa notices that the rain has finally let up. A few rays of sunlight are attempting to break through the clouds, bathing them all in their warmth. Arya shrugs off her jacket and bites her lip hard enough to draw blood.
“I’m not coming home with you.”
Her eighteen year old sister shakes her head. “I’m going to go back to school. My bags are already packed and in the back of the car.” She gestures towards her beat up Jeep sitting parked by Robb’s car. “I can’t – I just –“
“It’s okay, Arya,” Robb grabs her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Don’t be a stranger though, all right? Come home every once in a while.” Robb stumbles back slightly as Arya throws her arms around him. He hugs her back, kissing her temple as she pulls away.
To Sansa’s surprise, Arya hugs her too. “I’ll call tomorrow once I get settled.”
“Drive safe,” is all Sansa can say before watching Arya turn away.
The two of them stand there as Arya pulls her Jeep from the parking lot and when Sansa looks down, she sees Robb reaching for her hand just as she is reaching for his. “She’ll be fine. She’s tough.”
“She sure is.” Robb manages a smile that is obviously fake. “Do you need to head home?”
Sansa shakes her head. “I’ll go with you. I wanna see the boys again.”
When they walk into the house that they had all lived in together for two years until Sansa had met Harry, the first thing that Sansa notices is the tantalizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Her stomach rumbles in hunger, so loud that Robb gives her a weird look as they walked into the kitchen.
“Are you playing housewife?”
Jon’s ears flush red before flipping Sansa the bird. “Very funny. Now eat.” He gestures to the food on the counter and walks over to the kitchen table to sit.
Robb grabs a half of a sandwich and looks around. “Where are the boys?”
“Passed out upstairs. Rickon slept the whole way home and Bran was about to fall over when we got back.”
“I’ll go check on them.” Robb disappears and Sansa pours herself a cup of coffee, snatching up a muffin from the plate that Jon had set out.
“Thank you for all of this,” she lifts the muffin in a half-toast and Jon smiles.
“Whatever you need.”
Sansa sinks into a chair across from him, leaning over to rest her elbows on the table. “Bran and Rickon okay?”
Jon shakes his head and Sansa’s heart aches. “I don’t think they’re going to be okay for a awhile.”
Sudden tears gather behind Sansa’s eyes. “How did you – I mean, how...”
Jon nods in understanding. He gently takes Sansa’s hand, giving it a light squeeze. “You take it day by day,” he says after a long while. “And it’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be a very long period of time where you wake up in the morning and you can’t even breathe. You’re just trying to get air.”
Jon leans back in his chair, eyes flickering towards the ceiling. Sansa sniffles, wiping at the tears that have started to fall down her cheeks. “But then there will be a day where you wake up and you can breathe. And you start to remember the good over the bad. You realize that they are there with you still and you just can’t see them anymore.”
Sansa manages a smile through her tears and Jon passes her a napkin. “Thanks. Not just for the napkin.”
Jon nods again, the corners of his mouth turning up. “Sansa, I meant it. Whatever you need, just let me know.”
Before Sansa can say anything else, Robb reappears. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah,” Sansa swipes the crumpled napkin across her face one last time, tossing it into the trashbin. “Everything’s fine. The boys all right?”
“They’re out cold,” Robb settles into the chair across from Jon with a weary sigh. “It’s been a long hellish day.” He lifts his gaze to Jon. “Jon, you don’t have to stay. I’m sure you want to get home to Ygritte.”
Jon clears his throat uncomfortably. “Um, actually, uh...”
Sansa cocks her head to the side. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong!” Jon insists quickly. “Really, nothing’s wrong. It’s just, uh, Ygritte and I split up.”
Robb gapes at their friend for a moment. “You what? Why?”
The tips of Jon’s ears flush red again. “About a month ago.”
“Hey, why didn’t you tell us?”
“Because,” Jon says stubbornly. “Everything happened. It really wasn’t important. She and I are fine, it was mutual and amicable.”
“But a whole month? Jon.”
“Don’t Jon me, Sansa. It’s fine.”
Sansa eyes him disbelievingly but doesn’t push anymore. Robb kicking her in the shin underneath the table definitely helped her drop the subject too.
“We realized it wasn’t working a long time ago but both of us were too stubborn to give in first. She moved out and is living across town in a big studio.”
“Is she going to go back to Scotland?” Robb asks.
“No, she’s still working at Wildlings and going to school.”
When Sansa had first met Ygritte, she had been a little taken aback by this wild haired woman. Jon had gone to Scotland for a trip through his schooling and returned home with this loud, ferocious wild woman on his arm. And she never left.
Sansa adored the other woman. She was funny, pushy, and one of the most interesting people she had ever met. To be honest though, she never thought that the relationship between her and Jon would last very long.
“...her at the services?”
Pulled from her thoughts, Sansa looks at Jon, who’s looking at Robb expectantly. Her brother is practically squirming in his seat and Sansa wonders what she just missed.
Robb hesitates for a moment. “Well as long as we are sharing, Jeyne just came to pay her respects before going home to North Carolina.”
“What do you mean, ‘before going home’?” Sansa asks. “Robb, what --?”
“The wedding’s called off, okay?”
Sansa opens her mouth to question more but Jon cuts her off. “How long has it been off? What? I wanna know if he’s been hiding it as long as I have,” he adds at the look on Sansa’s face.
Robb smirks, shaking his head. “Just a few days ago.”
“Jeyne called it off.”
“Surprising, I know,” Robb looks down at his hands that still grip the cold coffee cup in front of him. “She knew something I didn’t even know. I couldn’t commit fully, I wasn’t –“
“In love with her,” Jon finishes softly.
Before anything else can happen, the doorbell rings.
Robb turns in his seat, looking towards the living room. “Who could that be?”
“Probably another casserole from the neighbors,” Sansa says with a snort.
“I’ll get it.” Robb gets to his feet and walks out of the kitchen, trailing the short hallway to the living room. Through the curtained front window, he glimpses a shock of scarlet curls and quickly pulls the door open. “Ygritte?”
Gone are the funeral clothes, replaced by jeans and an oversized red sweater that drapes off one shoulder. Her hair is braided back and he glimpses a constellation tattoo traced on her skin. Robb pulls his eyes back up to the woman’s face, managing a smile. She suddenly thrusts a tupperware container at his chest that he almost drops. “For the boys,” she says. “I figured, since you probably have a fridge full of nasty casseroles that they would like something special for them.”
Robb cannot help but stare but Ygritte doesn’t seem to notice. “I’ll see you around, Robb. I hope you enjoy the food.”
And then she’s gone.
Robb pops the lid on the container and the most delicious aroma hits his nostrils as he sees at least two dozen obviously freshly baked chocolate macadamia cookies. Bran and Rickon’s favorite. Robb looks back up but Ygritte is long gone, the sound echoing in his ears of her rickety truck rattling down the road.
“Who was that?” Sansa asks as he walks back into the kitchen.
“That was –“ his gaze cuts to Jon for a moment. “Ygritte.” Jon’s brows rise but he says nothing. “She was dropping these off for Bran and Rickon.” He sets the tupperware down on the table and Sansa curiously pops the top.
“Oooh, chocolate and macadamia cookies? Ouch!” She shakes out her hand where Robb had just slapped it. “What was that for?”
“They’re for the boys, not you.”
Sansa sits back in her seat, her stomach suddenly heaving as the smell of chocolate and sugar tickles her nostrils. “You okay?” Sansa shakes her head, clamping a hand over her mouth as she gets to her feet and bolts from the kitchen. She barely makes it to the bathroom before vomiting up what little was in her stomach.
That’s the second time she’s thrown up today. After it had happened this morning after attempting to make eggs for breakfast, Sansa had chalked it up to nerves but now –
Sansa flips open the medicine cabinet and her eyes fall on the box of tampons that Arya had left behind.
She stops at the store on the way home, picking up a pizza (which thankfully doesn’t make her want to barf) and two home pregnancy tests. Harry still wasn’t picking up the phone and Sansa was starting to get worried.
The keys jangle in her hand as she unlocks the door to her apartment, and Lady suddenly starts to bark like crazy. Sansa nearly drops the pizza box, shifting and tripping over her dog as she staggers to the right and lets the box fall onto the kitchen counter. “Lady what the hell is –“ She pushes her hair from her eyes and notices something is quite wrong.
Her malamute blinks rapidly as the light pools across the floor of the apartment. “Harry?”
Her fiancee doesn’t make an appearance. He doesn’t come out of the bedroom, blinking sleep from his eyes or from the bathroom, shaking water out of the hair. He’s not –
Lady barks again and Sansa notices her dog is practically vibrating. “Shit, you didn’t get your walk, did you?”
“All right, let’s go.”
They just make it to the sidewalk before Lady squats and relieves herself. Sansa coaxes her around to the back parking lot (she had parked in front today) where Harry usually left his SUV and sees it gone.
“I don’t –“
Lady makes a noise from her side, and Sansa’s fingers search the air, coming to rest on Lady’s soft ears. The malamute pushes her head into Sansa’s hand, the mere movement a comfort.
When they go back upstairs, Sansa notices something white on the floor that must have gotten knocked to the floor when she put the pizza there. Leaning down, she picks the paper up off the floor and turns it over. There’s a silver key taped to it, with two words scrawled on in Harry’s chicken scratch.
Sansa sinks to the floor, her back to the counter. Lady kneels beside her and Sansa knows the poor pup is probably hungry. She makes to get up, to keep trying and her knees just won’t work. Lady whines again but nuzzles her wet nose against Sansa’s cheek, her sandpaper like tongue giving her kisses. Or wiping away her tears, she’s not sure.
Sansa brushes her fingers against Lady’s neck, wrapping her arms around the dog’s body as her tears turn into great heaving sobs. Lady patiently rests her head against Sansa’s shoulder as she weeps, the dog whining just a bit and for a moment, Sansa thinks her beloved dog is crying with her.
She’s all cried out. There’s nothing left in her to let go.
Sansa climbs to her feet and shakily walks over to the cabinet where Lady’s food is kept. “Are you hungry, girl?”
Her phone rests on the side of the bathroom sink, the numbers of the timer ticking backward as she waits.
The pregnancy tests rest on the closed toilet and Sansa avoids looking at them even after the timer goes off on her phone. She already knows what the answer is going to be and frankly, she’s not ready for it.
Don’t be an idiot. Yeah that little voice sounds an awful lot like Arya.
With a sigh, Sansa gets up from the side of the bathtub and stands over the toilet lid, letting her gaze blur for just a moment.
Positive. Both of the tests were positive.
Sansa isn’t really sure what she was expecting. Even now, with the proof in her hand the father of her child nowhere to be found, it still doesn’t feel real.
She wonders if it ever will.
She wants her mother. She wants someone here to hold her hand and tell her everything will be okay.
Her phone is ringing.
Sansa’s fingers are shaking as she reaches for it, her trembling hand knocking it to the linoleum floor. When she finally grasps the small device, Jon’s name blinks back at her on the caller id. Jon, Jon, Jon...
“Hey Sansa – what’s wrong?”
Those damn tears are falling again. Sansa licks one off of her lip, her voice coming out in a croak. “Can you come? I n-need you right now.”
Jon’s quiet on the other end for a moment. “I’ll be there in five minutes.”
And he is.
OOOOHHHHHHH MMMMMMYYYYYY GOSSSSHHHHH.
Guys, I am so excited to bring this story back. I really love you all so much for being so patient and I hope ya’ll picked up my little teases here and there. And yes I know about the plot holes. Don't worry, those are gonna get filled in as we go. Please do leave me your thoughts in the box below, especially if you would like another installment. Thank you all so so so much.