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Snow in our Bones

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-296 AC-

"I'll save you, princess!" shouts Robb, hoisting his wooden sword in the air, hitting it against Bran’s until he can tap the boy on the shoulder with it. Bran dramatically falls, and Robb rushes over to the tree behind him, pulling Sansa from the makeshift tower and into his arms.

"Thank you, kind ser!" Sansa says affectionately, leaning into her brother and wrapping her arms around his neck.

“I fear I have nothing with which to thank you. Nothing but a kiss,” she giggles as he sets her on her feet.

“Why, Princess, that’s quite sufficient,” Robb replies haughtily and accepts a gentle touch of Sansa’s lips on his own. It lasts longer than expected - until Robb’s tongue sweeps against Sansa’s lips - and she shivers as she pulls away from him again. They’re thankful for the cold wind picking up around them, as it conceals from their siblings their flushing cheeks.

“You don’t always have to kiss her, you know,” Jon says, rolling his eyes as he pushes himself up off the ground, pulling Arya and Bran up after him by their little, gloved hands.

“Of course he does, Jon! That’s how all the songs go!” whines Sansa, and Jon raises his arms in acceptance. She truly was the family’s Princess, and if Robb wished to humor her, then so be it.

“It’s okay, Jon. They can kiss as much as they want, as long as I don’t have to watch,” declares Arya, and she, Jon, and Bran laugh. Sansa sticks out her tongue at her sister, and Arya returns the gesture with a smirk.

“Come, it’s getting dark. We should go inside,” quiets Robb, heading towards the castle, and his siblings follow suit, though somewhat reluctantly. Sansa slips her hand into his as they walk, and he squeezes it tight, smiling weakly over at her.

***

-298 AC-

Sansa startles at the knock at her chamber door, wondering who would come to visit her so late. She’s less surprised when she opens the door to find Robb standing nervously on the other side. She clears her throat.

“Yes?”

“Sansa, we have to talk. You’ve been avoiding me.”

I’ve been avoiding you? You’ve been avoiding me!”

“Only because I was unsure what to say.”

“Are you sure now?”

Her voice is bitter, acerbic. Tears are gathering in her eyes. Robb gulps.

“No, but I know I have to say something.”

Sansa’s expression softens, but only a little, and she fiddles nervously with her hands. Robb reaches for her, but she moves away, back to her bedside. She ignores him for a moment as she folds another dress and puts it into her case. He closes the door behind himself, and her breathing hitches.

“So, speak,” she demands shakily.

“We’ve been foolish, Sansa. We should have stopped this long ago. It’s not right.”

“It’s not wrong, either.”

She glares up at him.

“The Targaryens wedded brother to sister for centuries, what makes it so wrong now?”

“We are not Targaryens, sister. We are Starks. It is…it’s better this way, okay? It’s just…better.”

“You were so much more fun before you cared for politics,” Sansa sneers.

“Do you think I have a choice?” Robb growls, and Sansa bites her lip, sighing.

“I know you do not. I just…wish this was all…”

“Different.”

“Yes.”

Robb grabs the last dress laid on the bed, holding it delicately. It’s a short, thin pink slip with embroidered flowers, and he remembers that he was almost stunned the first time she wore it, nearly a whole year past. Jon had been more than willing to drink with him, and Robb had been unspeakably grateful for that. Sansa allows him to hold it for a minute, watching with bated breath as he runs his fingers over the embroidery on the bodice before she reaches out for it, likely thinking, too, about those days before Jon had left them for the Wall.

“I will miss you, Robb.”

She takes a deep breath as she lays the dress on top of the others in her case.

“You will have Arya, and Lady, and Father.”

“You know what I mean.”

Tears form behind her eyelids again, and as she blinks to force them back, one falls. Instinctually, Robb reaches for her cheek, rubbing away the tear with his thumb. His fingers curl tenderly around to her neck.

“What of Joffrey? You seem fond of him.”

“It’s not the same, Robb.”

“I know…I know.”

For what Robb knows will be the last time for much too long, he leans in towards her, his eyes fixed on her pale lips. Her breath is shaky, and he pauses, but she puts a hand on his cheek and pulls him closer, kissing him, gently at first. Slowly, their embrace deepens, their lips pressing harshly against each other and tongues swirling together. Robb’s hands come to rest at Sansa’s hips, and her arms wrap around his neck, pulling his body flush against hers. Another tear drips down her cheek, and Robb pulls away.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers. “That- that was wrong of me.”

“No, no, stop saying that, please. Just…stop saying that.”

“Sansa, I must. We both must. This has been child’s play, but now we must move on.”

“And if I cannot?”

“You will.”

“And if I do not? What if Joffrey is not who I hope he is? Father says I should be matched with someone brave and gentle and strong, what if he is not that? What if he does not like me?”

“He will love you, I am sure. Anyone who could meet you and not love you is a fool, a damned fool.”

“What if he’s a fool, Robb?”

“You should not have so much doubt, sister…but I swear to you, if he is a fool, if he is craven, if he is cruel…I will come for you. Father will protect you, but if he cannot, I will come for you.”

“Do you promise?”

“On all our lives, Sansa. I promise.”

He kisses her hand, and she trembles.