"Have my horse saddled and ready." Robb motioned to one of the squires.
"And you'll go into the Twins alone?" Greatjon Umber looked at him as though he were mad, "He'll sell you to the Lannisters as he likes!"
"Or throw you in the dungeons." Theon raised an eyebrow, grip not loosening from his bow as the Frey riders drew closer, "Or slit your throat."
"My father would do whatever it took to secure our crossing." Robb clenched his jaw slightly, imagining his father in the dungeons of that damned southern castle, "If I'm going to lead this army, I can't allow other men to do my bargaining for me."
His mother was quiet for a moment before she gave a small nod of her head, "I agree...I'll go."
Ser Rodrick and Lord Greatjon both protest at the same time, and he saw Theon's eyes widen. His mother began to speak over them when he held up and hand, shaking his head, "No. I'm acting as Lord in father's place. I will go."
"Robb, putting yourself into pointless danger will help no one." His mother's voice was hushed as she pulled him back away from the small group, "Let me go. I've know Lord Frey since I was a girl, he wouldn't hurt me."
"Mother, I have to. Would my father rely on others to do the work for him?" Robb shook his head slightly, "It has to be me."
"Then let me come." Her grip tightened on his arm, "And bring someone else as a guard, someone you trust. If you're going to do this, do not do it alone."
Robb nodded and waved the squire from earlier over, "Saddle three horses for my mother, Theon, and I."
The boy bowed slightly, "Yes, my Lord."
"Theon?" She hisses at him, "That's not what I-"
He knew plenty of her distrust for Theon. Something about Greyjoys being untrustworthy, keen for betrayal. He bypassed her and clapped Theon on the shoulder when his friend turned to give him a surprised look.
"If I'm going I need a guard, it'd better be you." He gave the other a wry smile, "Be sure to aim for their necks."
Theon grinned, pulling an arrow from the quiver strapped to his back and twirling in between his fingers with ease, "Oh, don't you worry."
Robb literally could not have imagined how decrepit Walder Frey looked. He pictured an old man, of course, but the Lord before him looked far too old to have such a young wife. Of course, Robb only knew that was his wife because Lord Frey had been groping her from the moment she came over to pour him wine. Robb had a realization and felt sick to his stomach. He sent a silent prayer to the Old Gods that she was his wife, else she was some poor serving girl being dishonored before their eyes.
"What do you want?" He croaked out, taking a swig from his goblet.
"It is a great pleasure to see you after so many years, my Lord." His mother took a step forward and smiled politely.
"Oh spare me pleasantries. So your boy had the balls to face me after all?" Walder looked straight at him, "Now, what am I supposed to do with any of you?"
"F-father, you forget yourself." An older looking man leaned closer to Frey from one of the high tables on either side of the room, "Lady Stark and her son-"
"Who asked you?" Frey grouched back at him, "You're not Lord Frey yet. Not until I die. Do I look dead to you?"
So a son. The fact that one of Frey's sons looked as old as his father was...impressive.
"Father, please-!" Another man burst out.
"I need lessons in courtesy from you, bastard?" Walder Frey snapped, "Your mother would still be a milkmaid if I hadn't squirted you into her belly!"
It was dead silent and Robb could practically sense Theon biting his lip so hard it bled to keep himself from laughing. His mother shared a glance with him, her expression telling him all he needed to know. She was quite uncomfortable in the spotlight, so Robb stepped up so he was a few inches in front of her.
"Lord Frey." Robb spoke up, the man's beady eyes darting to him, "Is there someplace we could talk?"
The lord blinked, "We're talking right now."
This time Theon let out a strangled noise as if he were being smothered, and Robb quite wanted to bash his head against those nice stone walls.
"I meant in private." Robb ground out, pursing his lips.
"Fine." The man heaved a sigh, "Out! All of you!"
The people at the high tables stood and filed out quickly until only the woman who'd been serving his wine remained at his side. He drew his hand back and gave her a sharp smack on her...bottom. Robb blinked, partially in shock and partially in offense.
"You too, get out." Frey grunted.
The woman scurried off without another word. Robb sincerely hoped that was his wife.
"You see her?" The old man stood, licking his lips, "15 she is, a little flower...and the honey's all mine."
Theon choked. Robb blinked.
His mother grimaced, "I'm sure she will give you...many sons."
"Heh." Frey teetered over to the fire, "Your father didn't come to the wedding."
"He is quite ill, my Lord." She responded as they all followed him over.
"Didn't come to the last one either. Or the one before that. Your family's always pissed on me."
"Lord Frey." Robb spoke over what the old man was beginning to say, "We have not come to discuss any perceived slights my mother's Lord father might have bestowed on you."
"Eh, the little lordling, huh? Playing at war while your father is away?" The man sneered at him.
Anger lit up in his chest, but Robb merely took a breath, "Lord Frey, we have come to seek passage across the Twins."
"Well, of course, you have. Why else would you be here? I'm not a damn fool, boy!" Walder turned around, looking him up and down, "I'll have conditions."
"Name them." Robb spoke coldly.
"My son, Olyvar, he'll be your squire."
The old man raised his eyebrow as if he didn't believe it'd be that easy, "My other son, Waldron, he's got to marry one of your sisters."
A sneer curled his lip. So far Robb has seen how Frey men treat their women, "Absolutely not."
"Excuse me?" Lord Frey turned to face him fully, brows furrowing in anger, "You come in here and demand things of me in my own home-!"
"You're the one demanding." Robb tilted his chin up, looking down on the old man, "I'll take Olyvar as a squire. Any other reasonable demands?"
"Marry one of my daughters."
He could see his mother tense out of the corner of his eye. Robb almost laughed. Walder Frey is just a small stepping stone on the path of getting his sisters back, and he'll need more allies later if he is to win this war. He cannot give up his chance for a truly advantageous marriage now, and with one of the Frey daughters to boot.
"Declined." Robb said simply, "I said reasonable."
"Listen here." Lord Frey bit out, "If you're going to pass, I'm marrying one of these shits off to you! They're piling up, I have sons and daughters to get rid of! I have several that might meet your tastes, too. Roslin, a pretty young thing, only seventeen. Best of the brood!"
Robb sent silent apologies to Bran, but he knew his brother could handle a meek wife better than his sisters could an abusive husband.
"I'll tell you what." Robb sighed slightly, pretending to think, "I'll agree to a marriage between Roslin and my brother, Bran."
"The cripple?" The man yelled, spittle flying, "You'd insult me and mine-!"
"My brother is next in line after me to become Lord of Winterfell." Robb's voice was dangerously quiet, "If you're attempting to broker marriage proposals, don't insult my family."
At the reminder of potential inheritance, the man calmed slightly, "Fine, fine. Marry her to the cripple. What else? If I'm committing treason by letting you through, you have to make it worthwhile, boy."
"Potential intermarrying between sworn vassal houses and your own." Robb crossed his arms, "I'll put in a good word for your sons and daughters. It's all I'll offer."
"Should they agree." Robb tries to think of Ramsey marrying any of his lot to one of the Freys and holds back a chuckle, "Do you accept?"
"You swear by this deal?" Walder eyes him suspiciously, "You'll have your brother marry Roslin and set my other children up for rich marriages?"
"I am the son of Eddard Stark. I would never dishonor him by betraying a sworn agreement."
The Frey grumbled but then clasped hands with Robb. His mother almost looked impressed as they exited the Towers, Theon keeping a careful eye behind them.
I made some aesthetic for the main couples (Robb/Marg, Jon/Dany, Sansa/Quentyn, Bran/Roslin, Arya/Gendry for now, probs gonna do more later like Brienne/Jamie and that sort) so if you wanna check those out, my tumblr is hopeyoustaynow because hopeyoustay was taken forever ago when I signed up. Enjoy!
Chapter 2: Sansa I
Warning: Sansa is beaten in this chapter and there are threats of non-con/rape. Nothing too graphic, but everyone has different thresholds. Tags have been updated accordingly.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The images that flashed behind her eyelids as she came to were horrible and bloody. Her father's head...rolling on the ground. The last things she saw before she fainted were his limp body, the bloody stump of his neck. The lifeless eyes, staring back at her. She didn't want to wake, keeps her eyes closed and hopes she can black out the world, keep reality from setting in. She cannot. The surface beneath her is cold and hard, and her neck aches horribly. Her cheeks are wet with tears; she'd been crying in her sleep. Her eyes open to the familiar ceiling of the Red Keep. This room, however, is not hers. She sat up slowly, her stomach rolling as the memory of her father's head being cut off played and replayed in her head.
She feels lightheaded, but crawls to her knees and uses the support of the bed to help her stand. It's smaller as well, and she realized no sunlight filters through the room as there are no windows. It's a bedroom, but Sansa recognizes it for what it truly is. A cell.
The door swings open. The Queen regent enters, followed by four Lannister guards. Sansa's legs gave way, her palms smacking against the stone floor hard, her breath heaving. She's to die, too, then. Her thoughts wandered to her sister. Was Arya already dead? Did they hold her captive as well? She hasn't seen her little sister in days, and hopefully, it stays that way. She didn't want to watch her die, too.
Cersei waved a hand at one of the guards. Cold metal grips her by both her arms, the Lannister guard grunting as he pulled her to her feet. He shoved her to be directly in front of the Queen, Cersei regarding her with concern.
"Gentle now." Cersei waved him off, stepping forward to stoke a hand down her cheek, "Not to worry, little dove. You won't die today. You're to marry Joffrey, be his queen."
"I..." Sansa bites back words of scorn, "I am not worthy of the honor, Your Grace."
"Of course you aren't." She snaps, dropping her hand, "Now, have you seen your sister? We're looking for her, to make certain she's safe."
More like dead. Sansa didn't believe a word that came out of the woman's mouth. They had promised her mercy and given her blood, promised her safety and shoved a dagger into her back.
"I have not seen her, Your Grace."
The Queen turns to a red cloak and nods. The same one that had grabbed her before takes both her arms in a bruising grip, forcing her to her knees. Tears dripped from her eyes as she stared at the ground, "Please, Your Grace, I don't know, I don't know! I haven't seen her in days, not since our father was arrested!"
"Father?" She looked up to see Cersei raise a brow, "You would claim the traitor as your family? I suppose what they say about traitor's blood is true."
Fear spiked through her heart as well as anger, "N-no, Your Grace, I'm sorry. It was a slip of tongue, nothing more, I'm sorry-!"
"Let her go."
The hands released her and she sagged to the ground, her forehead resting against the floor below her.
"You will join Joffrey for supper. He is eager to see you." Cersei began to turn.
Sansa jerked up, "Your Grace, I-I have fallen ill. My stomach has been turning and I-I wouldn't want to make the King ill."
The Queen frowned, "I'll tell Joffrey. He will be displeased."
Her breath choked, and they finally left. She sat in silence for a long time. No handmaidens entered and attended her as usual, all she heard were to occasional steps of the guard rotating outside her door. She prayed to the Maiden, to the Mother, to all of the Seven. She just wanted to be left alone. Well, no, that wasn't true. She wished Lady were here. Chained in the kennels, alone and in the dark, just like Sansa. Or she was dead, her head cut off just like they cut the head off her father.
"My Lady!" The door opened once more, and her blood became ice in her veins, "I come bearing you a gift! Mother said you were ill!"
Sansa leaped off the floor, taking several steps back. Joffrey looked around the room in disgust, a covered silver platter in his hands, "I'll have a word to Mother about your lodgings. You'll receive your rooms back come morning. No future Queen should live in squalor such as this."
"Yes, Your Grace. Thank you, Your Grace."
Red cloaks and one Kingsguard filed in behind him along with the hound.
Joffrey frowned, the glanced down at his hands and his expression brightened, "Please, sit. I've brought us supper. I'd like to dine with my wife-to-be."
She obediently sat at the small table, Joffrey taking the other chair and setting the platter down between them. A guard came behind her and held her chair in place. She could feel her face pale, and she stared at the King in terror.
"No need for fear, my Lady." Joffrey looked concerned, reaching forward to grip her hand tightly, "It's only supper. He's here to catch you if you faint again."
His smile turned cruel and he lifted the silver lid from the platter. Her father's head stared back at her, eyes white and filmed over, mouth open in death. Sansa screamed, trying to push her chair back, trying to stand, but the guard kept her in place.
"You don't like your gift?" Joffrey snapped, "How ungrateful. Ser Meryn, teach her some manners."
Ser Meryn Trant looked her in the eye and slapped her twice in the face, open palmed and then backhanded. Her lip was busted, she could feel the blood run down her chin but was numb to the pain. Numb to everything but her father's head, staring back at her.
"Now, look at it." Joffrey's nails dug into the skin of her hand, breaking it and making blood pool in the cuts, "Look at it!"
Ser Meryn grabbed her by the chin, forcing her head forward. She would have bruises on her shoulders and her face by the end of the night. Cuts on her hand and her lip. She turned her eyes to the head and held back a whimper, silently begging the Mother for mercy. She had none, apparently, as Joffrey brought out a knife. Ser Meryn let go of her face and grabbed her shoulders once more.
"Would you like some of your supper? I'll cut you a piece." He sneered at her.
She shook her head as well as she could, frantic and doing more harm than good, "No, no, please, Your Grace. I'm very ill, I...I-!"
"Fine. Leave it here." He smiled, "Know that this is what happens to traitors. When I catch your traitor brother, I'll cut off his head and give it to you as well!"
Robb. No, not Robb, never Robb. Anger gripped her, a cool fire lit beneath her, and she'd never hated someone so much, "Or maybe he'll give me yours."
Joffrey froze from where he watched her, mouth twisting in fury before his expression cleared, became one of sadistic satisfaction, "A King should never hit his Lady. That's why I had Ser Meryn teach you your manners earlier, and why he will continue to do so. Ser Meryn, leave the rest of her face. I do love her pretty."
The Kingsguard, who still had a grip of her shoulders, threw her to the floor and tore her gown open. She screamed, "No, Your Grace, please!"
"Traitors blood...Pycelle was right earlier, you know. He warned me about you, told me to break our betrothal and my oath to you. Should I, Lady Sansa? Should I do it right here, before all these men, and leave? Let them have you in whatever way they like?"
"No, Your Grace, I'm sorry! I'll never say such things again, I'm sorry, I condemn my traitorous family, I do not claim them, he is no brother of mine!"
Ser Meryn raised his hand, and the hit came down across her back. She choked on a sob, tears filling her eyes, and she barely saw Joffrey raise his hand, "I'll give you one more chance, Lady Sansa. If you prove me too merciful, I may have your head decorating my walls as well. Leave the head, let it serve as a reminder."
She sobbed as they left, pulling her ripped gown back together the best she could. She pulled a blanket from the bed and draped it around her shoulders, the red of it bright against her light blue gown. She sat on the bed for what felt like hours, not looking at anything but the door. The metallic stench of blood filled the air, both her own and her fathers, though perhaps it was more the stench of death and decay than anything. The guards rotated outside her door, the times growing longer. It must be past midnight, in the early morning hours. The guards were slower then, lazy and tired.
She counted the seconds between each one. Between forty-nine and fifty-eight was how long it took for a new guard's footsteps to echo down the corridor. She knows she cannot stay in King's Landing; they cut off her father's head and plan to use her as a hostage against Robb. Her stupidity had gotten her father killed, she would not let it claim her brother. With Arya missing, they would have no one to hostage. She worried about leaving, what if her sister returned to the palace? No, Arya has never been as idiotic as Sansa herself. She must know of their father's execution and, with Lannister's crawling everywhere, if she hasn't been found she's either escaped or dead. Sansa's prayers were never answered by the Seven, not once, so even though she was not before a weirwood, she sent a prayer to the Old Gods for it the be the former. House Stark was the blood of the first men; hopefully, they would answer.
Trembling, she approached the door and waited for the guard to pass before quietly easing it open. Luckily they'd moved her from the Tower of the Hand, where she would have to go down countless stairs to escape. This was the serving quarters, the best exit from the Red Keep she could've asked for. Close to the Royal Kennels, and close the Flea Bottom. She kept the blanket pulled tight around her as she rushed from her rooms, no other soul in sight.
Running faster than she could ever remember moving, her shoes barely made a noise as she kept count in her head. She ducked into a corridor right as she reached forty-five and hid in the shadows as a guard passed, talking to himself about roasted boar and the teats of the barmaid down in River Row. When he saw out of sight she ducked out, rushing for the servant's entrance of the castle.
She froze, trembling, turning to see no one but the Hound standing before her.
"I-I just wanted some air, I felt faintish and clautrophobic...I'll return to-" Sansa ducked her head and prepared to go scurrying back to bed, tail between her legs, but the Hound gripped her shoulder tightly. She flinched at the pressing of her bruises and his grip fell away.
She blinked, wide-eyed, "What?"
"Run while you still can." The Hound sneered, "The world's full of monsters, but if you stay here you'll die."
"I'm a hostage."
"For now, until the King gets tired of his broken toy. Fly away, little bird. Now."
She didn't give him a chance to change his mind. She turned a practically flew down the hallway just as instructed, sprinting to the stairs of the kennel. The servants were gone, as was the Kennel Master, and she eased the gate open and slipped inside. The dogs, used to strangers, didn't pay her any mind. She found Lady chained to the wall in the very back, not even caged. She had blood in the fur around her neck and jaws, and tears flushed Sansa's eyes. She'd tried to escape, to come and save her and her family. Kneeling down, not minding the muck but wrinkling her nose at the scent and sight of dog feces, she pulled at the iron collar around the direwolf's neck. Lady whimpered and licked her on the cheek, so tall she reached Sansa's waist on four legs by now.
"No key." She muttered, looking around.
The Kennel Master's ax was in the corner, used for butchering the old and useless dogs. It was heavy when she tried to pick it up, still stained with old blood and Gods know what else. She raised it, small arms trembling, and brought it feebly down on the chain in a place she wouldn't accidentally hit Lady. The direwolf sat obediently, yellow eyes nearly glowing as they watched her closely. She grunted, the blanket falling from her shoulders as she brought the ax down again and again. Sweat dripped from her forehead and after what felt like a hundred hits, the chain gave way under the sharpened blade. Sansa collapsed to her knees, Lady leaping into her arms and smother her in wet kisses. She felt like crying, pressing her face into the dirty and matted grey fur.
"What the fuck is going on down here?"
Heavy footsteps came down the stairs, but by the time Sansa had stood, one of the gold cloaks was before her, glaring. The City Watch.
"Hey, you're the Stark bitch!" He reached forward as she tried to dark away, grabbing her by the hair delicately styled on top of her head, pulling her down.
She cried out, trying to push him off, but she didn't stand a chance. She was weak and already exhausted from the ax, and could just let tears run down her face as the guard pulled at her hair once more.
"I'll probably get a hefty reward for you." He smirked, "On your feet now."
He jerked her by her hair, and she had no choice but to follow. He reached for his sword, moving to hold it against her neck as he took her back to the Red Keep, but Lady moved faster. One moment she was growling dangerously, the next she had her jaws locked around the man's wrist. He released Sansa and she fell against the wall as Lady tore the hand clean off. He screamed, loudly, but she cut it show by going for his throat. A torn out mess of blood was all the remained when she was through. The direwolf turned to Sansa, sitting down and tilting her head as if asking if she'd done well.
Sansa sobbed, reaching to put her arms around her direwolf, "My girl, my good girl."
She stood again, hair now a mess and fallen around her shoulders. The intricate plates had already been damaged by her faint and Ser Meryn's earlier treatment, but now they were demolished. She picked up her dirty blanket and righted her torn dress, walking up the stairs slowly. She glanced around the streets, Lady close behind her. There was no one. She heading into Flea Bottom from there, knowing her best bet was the Iron Gate that led out to Rosby Road. There were City Watch barracks by Dragon Gate near the Hill of Rhaenys and the Gate of the Gods down in Cobbler Square, so those were out of the question. If she fled to Rosby Road, she could go around the town of Rosby and head northwest past Buckwell.
She visualized the map her Septa had used in their lessons. If she could make past Buckwell, she'd reach Harrenhall where her great-grandaunt, Shella Whent, resided. House Whent was a sworn vassal of House Tully; Lady Shella could have her escorted to her grandfather Lord Hoster Tully and granduncle Lord Brynden Tully. They would see her safe until her mother and Robb could come and retrieve her.
She winded through the roads of Flea Bottom, avoiding the taverns and whore houses on her way to the Iron Gate. Rosby Road was much smaller than the King's Road, so the Iron Gate was left unguarded at night, unlike the Lion Gate. She slid right through, most of the people out this late that weren't guards too drunk to even notice her. Lady followed silently, both of them trying to get as much ground between them and the Lannisters as possible. It wasn't like she was inconspicuous; a redheaded girl with a direwolf was fairly noticeable. She'd have to stay out of the larger towns for now, just pass outside of Rosby and make it to Harrenhall before she let her guard down.
Lady is alive, and Sansa is trying desperately to keep the both of them that way. Hope you all enjoyed this chapter! Obviously, my Sansa is going to be a bit more...risk-taking than canon Sansa.