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In Awe Of The Woman

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“Riverrun,” she said simply, sitting back in her chair demurely, to take a sip of her wine.

Robb sighed from his seat beside his sister, his closest confident, since his father’s head was taken and his mother, his dear, sweet mother, succumbed to fever during his campaign. So much had been lost on his journey to secure the North, the avenge his father’s death, and now they wanted Sansa.

They sat in her solar, in front of the hearth, as they did most evenings. Her name-day had not long since past, his beautiful sister was ten and seven, and he had only had her back for a few years.

 

 

He first laid his eyes on her on the morning after his wedding, when the Kingslayer and Lady Brienne rode furiously to the Twins with their Northern Princess between them, determined to fulfil their vow to Lady Catelyn, unknown to them she had since met her Gods.

Robb had been roused from his sleep, his pretty new wife still tangled amongst him, by Theon pounding on his door. Robb had run to the yard in his tunic and breeches and collided with his sweet sister, in a heap on the floor. Not very kingly, but he couldn’t give a damn.

Arya joined them, having returned to him just before his wedding, riding in with her hands bound with her vicious looking companion, “had to bind the little bitch, because she kept trying to escape,” the Hound had barked at him.

The three Starks, a king and his two princesses stayed locked together on the ground in a riot of grey and red. The howls of anguish and relief between them were soon joined by Greywind and his lonely brother Ghost, who lamented in the woods afar for Lady and Nymeria, who had not returned with his sisters. The sight in that muddy yard brought a tear to the eye of many a stoic Northerner that day, and Robb had loathed to let them out of his sight since.

Robb would be forever in the debt of their rescuers, the Hound, despite his prickly nature, had even tried to convince Sansa to leave the capital with him those moons ago. He offered them roles in his council and riches at his disposal as way of thanks, but all they wanted was to continue to serve and protect his sisters.

Jaime Lannister received a full pardon for his past crimes. This in itself was a feet of diplomacy. Lady Brienne and Sansa had stood in his defence at his trial, as he laid his sword at Sansa’s feet and swore himself to her for the end of his days. It was difficult for even the most disgruntled Northern Lord to argue with that. Brienne had followed shortly after.

The Hound swore no vows, but he remained all the same, training and chasing after Arya, railing and cursing savagely to anyone who so much as looked at him, all except Sansa, the poor fool, like so many others, seemed utterly tamed by the Rose of Winterfell.

The early days of his marriage had suffered, that first night he had left his Queen’s bed at the sound of Sansa’s screams. Jaime stood grimly at her door, hand on the pommel of his sword as he guarded her.

“How often, the nightmares?” Robb had asked with anguish, eyes fixed on the door.

“Every night,” Lannister replied.

Robb spend his remaining time at the Twins, sitting at the foot of her bed, Sansa and Arya sleeping together, hands clasped. His sweet wife Roslin, was understanding to a fault, but he didn’t know her then, and it took more time that needed. He was not free in his affections, for his sisters were his priority.

But it was different now. Time, as the tales say, is a great healer. Their kingdom was safe, and the North was free. They had returned to Winterfell after the taking of King’s Landing. His alliance, although tentative, with the Targaryen girl and her kin, had been fruitful.

He had little from them when Lord Varys, the odious man, and Tyrion Lannister had rode into the Twins not one week after Sansa’s return, except the decimation of Joffrey and his foul mother. He had little care for who sat on the wretched Southern chair. So, an accord was struck, he would join forces with the Dragon Queen and help her secure her prize, then he could return home, end the years of brutal war, as long as he had three things.

Robb demanded an annulment of the marriage between Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion, in Robb’s temporary council chambers, had the bravery to argue for two minutes that a marriage between the wolf and the lion might be fruitful for all, the Kingslayer had drawn his sword on his brother there and then, and Greywind has snarled. It was not mentioned again and the annulment, on the grounds of non-consummation was hastily arranged.

The second of his conditions, was that, should the opportunity arise, he would pass the sentence on Joffrey Baratheon himself. This was readily agreed.

The third, was that the North would remain and independent kingdom, as it had been for thousands of years, alongside the Vale and Riverrun, which had declared themselves in Robb’s cause. Together the three kingdoms would become one, under a new North. The Dragon queen could keep the rest. This took some contention. She would not be happy, the argued, to which he stoically replied it was that or nothing.

“It will not be the last we hear from her, even if she agrees to this Robb,” Sansa had told him, for a girl so young her political mind was fierce, another kind gift from her time in the South, “she will want something more, for cutting the kingdom she believes is hers in two, mark my words brother.”

Nevertheless, the peace treaty between the Dragon and the Wolf was signed.

The battle, some moons later, was bloody and fierce. Arya had stole away with him, in a baggage train, much to his chagrin, but Sansa had gone to Riverrun with Roslin, Ghost and Lady Brienne as their guard.

Robb had known magic, the blood of the First Men ran through his veins, he could even see through his direwolf’s eyes, but the first time he laid his eyes on a dragon had awed him completely. He could appreciate their strength and majesty, but he didn’t trust them, the three dragons, which Daenerys Targaryen hailed as her children unnerved him in a way he had never felt before.

The woman in question, their so called ‘mother’, although beautiful, was far less impressive than Varys and Tyrion had led him to believe, from what he could gleam, the slight woman had little mind for politics, but had amassed a loyal following, and he could not fault her fierceness on her dragon. His heart clenched for his lost brother’s, Bran and Rickon, who would have loved to have seen such a sight.

Her fellow dragon rider, her nephew and a cousin to the Starks, if the stories were led to be believed was another revelation. Jon Targaryen, who had shunned his Valerian name, to honour the one his own Lord father, Ned Stark had given him, had none of the features of his Southern heritage, there was little dragon in Lyanna’s son, except for his ability to ride and bond with his dragon.

The sacking of King’s Landing took three days. The dragons had destroyed the royal fleets and port. The Northerners had been adamant that the people within the city walls not be harmed, Sansa had led that particular argument. The dragons, all three of them had destroyed the most prominent gates into the city, a strategy of Robb’s, allowing the armies to pour in.

Robb fought where the fighting was thickest, as he always did, with Greywind and his fellow Northmen at his side. He had never felt such hatred in his bones than when he was the first to storm the throne room, his face covered in blood and filth, with his wolf at his side, he looked like a barbarian, as all the Southern tales told and he relished in the look of horror on the simpering Joffrey’s face as he cowered on his throne, the realisation of his defeat all too clear.

Robb had taken a moment as he came across the children, Tommen and Myrcella, who his siblings had played with once, as they lay dead in the arms of Cersei, the bottles of poison in shards at her feet. Jaime Lannister, overcome with grief and rage at the sight, took his sword to his own sister. He let him have this moment, he would never understand the Lannisters, who one moment could lay with one another and the next slay them, but he did not intervene. Jaime had been free from her clutches for long enough.

He took great pleasure in throwing Joffrey Baratheon from his ghastly throne, spitting on the ground where he lay as he ordered his men to see him in chains, “you will be dead come the dawn, for my father, for the scars you placed upon my sister, may your gods judge you,” he told him solemnly, he would speak no further words to him.

He took little interest in the Dragon Queen, who preened on her new throne once she made her way into their red castle, it was of little consequence to him, he kept to the rooms they had hastily arranged for him. He sat with his closest men, as they regaled their tales of battle. Robb sat silently in their company, sharpening his sword in preparation for the morn with Jon Targaryen at his side. It seemed the man had little care for the new Southern court, he had done his duty, that was all he wanted. Robb had attained a kinship with his cousin in the weeks they had spent together.

The following morning, on the steps where his father had met his end, after saying the old words, he took the head of Joffrey Baratheon, with thoughts of Eddard and Catelyn, and his brothers still lost to him in his mind.

“Have him burned,” he cautioned the Unsullied around him, “The North remembers.” Arya had repeated the words after, as she stood beside him.

The pretty Dragon Queen had requested he remain, to see the new age she would begin, that she said would be great and just. He politely declined, eager to return to his wife and Sansa in Riverrun, and finally make their way back to Winterfell, after so many years away.

He left, with his army and his wolf, the very same day, as the blood of the King who killed his father dried on his blade. Winter was coming, and he had no love of the South.

 

“Riverrun,” Sansa repeated. He tore his eyes from the flames of the hearth, leaving his memories of past events behind him as he returned to his sister, to the present.

“No, Sansa,” he said firmly, “I will not allow it, I will not have you taken from me, not at the request of a Targaryen.”

“You will, you must. You are a king, you have seen what lays beyond the wall, you have seen the dead men who still walk, one was brought into our very hall for our inspection. We have a kingdom to protect, and we need her Dragons and her dragon glass, if this is what it takes, if a marriage is what she asks for, then I will consider it.”

He smacked his hand to his leg in frustration, scrunching the scroll from Tyrion Lannister in his other palm, the meaning was quite clear. The South would aid them in their fight against the Night King if he gave them a Stark bride, another Lyanna. His Lyanna would be Sansa, his beloved, favourite sister who has not long returned to him.

“All women of my birth know such a fate Robb,” she said gently, “I will do what is required, Winter Is Coming, and the dead come with it, we shall do what we must to survive.”

He sighed in exasperation, the weight of his crown metaphorically heavy above him, to use his sister in trade of provisions, of fire, it made him sick to his stomach.

“And anyway,” Sansa continued, “I have only agreed to meet with him, with the council, to discuss it further…” she paused, “but I will not journey further than the Riverlands, I vowed to not step back in the South again, they must meet us there, we shall take Brienne, Sir Jaime, the Hound, and a few loyal nobles, and of course Ghost and Greywind, we will be back in time for the birth of your sweet babe, your heir.”

He reached across, bridging the gap between their chairs and clasped her hand in his, “everyday I curse myself that it was not I who saved you from them, I thank the gods for Ser Jaime and Lady Brienne, but I vowed to protect you until the end of my days, I will not give you lightly to someone you do not want…”

“My sweet king,” she teased, “your safe reign is the best protection I have, Roslin will give us a litter of Stark pups,” he grinned involuntarily at her as she continued, “and I will do my part too, I cannot swing a sword of dragon glass or command an army, but politics and alliances have a role to play too, besides, we couldn’t possibly subject the poor fool to Arya, Targaryen or not, it would be cruel,” she finished primly, turning back to the flames.

He barked a laugh once before releasing a deep breath, “does it not get tiresome, always being right?”

She removed her hand from his and smacked it off the arm of her chair in reply.

“Riverrun then, I will reply to their missive tomorrow. But, just to meet, to talk with them, I will promise nothing more, you are a Princess of the North, the Rose of Winterfell, no man will ever be worthy of you sister…”

She smiled at him sweetly, it was a true smile, but it didn’t reach all the way to her eyes, they never did anymore. Not after what she had seen, he imagined she hadn’t laughed freely or smiled from her toes to the tip of her copper tresses since the moment she watched their father die. The girl full of songs and tall tales was long gone, he hoped he would meet her again soon, but he would do everything in his power, as a king, as a brother, as a protector, to see her happy once more.

Chapter Text

“Read me the reply again, Lord Hand,” she asked from her chair, at the head of the council table. It was a hot day, as hot as they came in Kings Landing, despite the Maesters assurances that winter would soon be upon them. She always felt warm, heat hummed through her veins. She picked absentmindedly at her gauzy skirt, before focusing her attention on those loyal to her.

“Of course, your Grace,” Tyrion lowered his head slightly in reply, from his position next to her. She didn’t always attend meetings of the small council, but this matter had irked her for long enough, and a reply to her missive from the Young Wolf had warranted her attention.

Lannister, this Stark really doesn’t mince his niceties,” he grumbled, “the Princess Sansa and I have given your Queens request much thought. We propose a meeting, within the turn of a moon, at our families ancestral seat at Riverrun. The purpose of such a gathering is to discuss the matter in person. We will not travel any further South. My sister has enclosed a token of her esteem for your Queen. Robb Stark, King in the North.”

Daenerys thrummed her slim fingers on the table as she let the words wash over her again.

“The token, from the Princess?” Dany prompted.

Greyworm placed the small package in front of her, she unwrapped the linen carefully, unearthing a roll of fabric. She unfurled it in front of her, the fabric showing an embroidered tableaux, her three dragons fly across the top of it, with the streets of Kings Landing depicted below, the scene was bright, happy, full of colour and rich intricacies. It was beautiful, a fine piece to be sure.

“I didn’t realise they had such a high level of craftsmanship in the North, it rivals even the best at my disposal,” she said, it was as much as a compliment as she could muster at present.

Tyrion barked in laughter beside her, “Quite, your Grace, but this is her work, of that I am certain. Sansa Stark has all the refined talents of a Westerosi Lady.”

That was curious to her. She had never had such lessons as a child. She wondered how long it had taken the Princess, to create something so lovely, she wondered how she had the time. But then, many of the ladies in her court sat in little circles, drinking their tea and stitching, perhaps it was commonplace in the North too. She put the cloth aside for now, thinking back to the task at hand.

“He doesn’t give much away, does he, this Northern kind? I’m not used to such a lack of…” she paused, thinking on her words carefully, “courtly respect.”

Robb Stark was a great mystery to her, one she could not ignore.

“He is a King, in his own right, your Grace,” Jorah, her sweet bear, cautioned from behind her. She nodded kindly at him.

“Quite so,” she said softly, “thoughts, my Lords?”

“If my little birds are correct my Queen, such a request would not be out of the ordinary for the Young Wolf, since he took his three kingdoms, and returned to Winterfell, he has received weekly petitions for his sisters hand in marriage, near on hundreds, I would wager, she received her third from Petyr Baelish in as many moons not a sennight past, it seems the Protector of the Vale knows what a prize she would be.” Varys bowed his head as he concluded his speech, his network was invaluable to her and she would listen with great care to his words.

“Hundreds?” Dany laughed gently, “my, my, this Stark Princess must be quite the comely little thing,” she raised a silvery brow as she surveyed her council.

“She is… adequate looking,” Tyrion replied carefully, interesting. She knew Tyrion has been anxious to keep her, but the King in the North had snuffed out that idea without a second thought. Her advisors had all been in quite a fix when the idea was originally thought up. She had taken much pride in being the orchestrator of such a thing. Varys and Tyrion had cautioned her enough in the past for not thinking politically enough and she was eager to prove them wrong.

“I would recommend we tread carefully your Grace,” Tyrion continued, “the reply is quite clear, they only mean to discuss the matter at hand. Robb Stark will not part so easily with his sister, not after her last… visit to the South, we would have to convince her to want to live here after all, if she is to be the Princess of Dragonstone. Sansa Stark has not always been treated kindly…”

She frowned at that; she could quite understand. Her brother had never treated her with kindness, she was glad Sansa Stark at least had a brother who wasn’t willing to sell her for an army of horse riders.

“ I would not worry too much though my Queen, you hold the cards, you have what they want. Sansa Stark was always a quiet and nervous little thing, and her brother, although seasoned in battle, is young in his reign, I think we can bend them to your will easily enough, if we are shrewd, it should be an easy and fruitful negotiation for all. She would be an asset to you… my father had long called her ‘the key to the North’ your Grace,” Tyrion continued, “she was betrothed to Joffrey and felt his wrath for quite some time, I was glad to marry her in truth, she was a sweet little creature and at least I could show her some kindness, although it seems to have worked out well enough for you that I didn’t bed her,” he jested. She laughed slightly and a few chuckles rang out around the table.

“Yes, how very noble of you Lord Hand,” the dark rumble of her nephews voice tore her attention to his position at the window, staring out across the bay, a deep scowl etched on his face, he had been so quiet for so long she had forgotten he was even in the room.

“Jon,” she scolded.

“Thank the gods Lord Tyrion has the honour not to bed a child bride,” her nephew continued, his voice thick with sarcasm.

“I meant no harm, my Prince, a simple jest,” Tyrion countered.

Jon did not reply but continued with his glaring out the window.

“Leave him to his brooding, perhaps my nephew will go and battle seven hells out of Ser Arthur in the training yard, it might make him smile” she began, his behaviour of late had been insufferable, by his reaction, you would have thought he was being sent to the Wall, not that she was trying to match him with the most sought after woman in Westeros, “reply my Lord Hand. I am vexed, I must say, to travel as they demand, but my limited time with Robb Stark has proven he is not easily persuaded. We will meet them in the Trident, we shall take two of my children, Drogon and Rhaegal perhaps, they may need some… gentle persuasion. There is no risk of this being a trap, is there?” she cautioned.

“No my Queen,” Jorah shook his head, but she could already see Greyworm calculating a plan in his head, her protection always at the forefront of his mind, Ser Jorah leaned forward to gain her attention, “he may be stubborn, but a truer Northman you would not meet, he is Ned Stark’s son, if he says he will be there, he will be there. His halls will offer you assurances of your safety, it is the old way,” he said solemnly.

“The old way, the Northern way,” she scoffed, “you Northerners are all so strange to me, I look forward to spending more time with them.”

They had come too far, to let this opportunity slip her by. She had been a poor little orphan, passed from person to person as a child. She had never loved Viserys, it had been a mercy to kill him and be free of his tyranny, he would have been a terrible king, and Jon had no care for the throne. She had always loved Jon, who was more of a brother to her in truth. She thanked Arthur Dayne every day for saving him as a babe and bringing his into their lives. They had struggled together, the last of their family, and fought dragon tooth and claw to return to Westeros and claim her throne from the Baratheon usurpers. She had vowed to be a good Queen, a just Queen, to all of her people, so she needed this as part of that promise. She could not look back, only forward, and she needed a bride, one of worth.

“It is a long time coming that the North is allied closer with us, we shall offer them aid in this battle of the night, or what ever it is they speak of, it will make the proposition sweeter for them, but I mean to have a Northern bride become a Targaryen, and have her I will.”

Chapter Text

“We must let them rest Jon, you have been driving them too hard,” Dany said from Drogon’s side, stroking the scaly side of his black head gently.

He huffed in response. He was fed up of dallying. If she was making him go through with this farce of diplomacy, then he wanted to arrive in the Trident in haste. Dany had insisted that their flight include stops at each notable castle and vantage point along the way, it had been odious, Jon had no love of courtly niceties and loathed every Lord and their daughters being flung at him each night.

She wanted them to take notice, that he could understand, although none would stand against her dragons, her reign was still young, and she wanted to be seen by her people.

Jon had never travelled this far, having spent his young across the Narrow Sea. The Riverlands, could hardly be classed as north, but he longed to see more. The further north they travelled, the higher level of anticipation he felt. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew Rhaegal felt it too.

“We could have been there days ago if you hadn’t insisted on turning this into a royal progress,” he sighed, leaning lazily against a thick tree root, idly spinning his dagger in his hand.

“Anxious to meet your betrothed are you, my dear nephew?” Dany laughed, raising a brow pointedly at him.

“I have no bethrothed…” he began.

“Yet. Sansa Stark will be Sansa Targaryen before long, have no doubt,” she said quietly.

“Dany,” he sighed, knowing he was the only one permitted to call her that anymore, he ran a hand across his bearded face in frustration, “I just don’t understand it, what the point of it all is…”

“The point,” she interrupted, “is that you are the Prince of Dragonstone, you are my heir Jon. How many times must we have this discussion, your children will continue our dynasty.”

He turned his attention back towards her, looking at her with softer eyes, “Dany, you are young, we are the same age save a few moons… you can wed again, there is time to…”

“No Jon.” Dany paced the riverbank were they had settled, as Drogon and Rhaegal rolled and thrashed playfully with one another on the hillside, “you were there Jon,” she whispered, “when Drogo was taken from me, you know it cannot be,” she clutched her stomach, her eyes filled with anguish.

He went to her then, to his aunt who was more of a sister, wrapping his arms around her and drawing her tightly into an embrace. He didn’t say anything, he just held her, because in truth she was right, he had been there, he had seen what that woman had done to her, and held her when she wept for the child that would never be born to her.

“We have to disclose it Dany,” he said gently into her hair.

“No, I forbid it,” she replied sharply.

“We must, I could not keep such a thing from her, it changes things, this would no longer be a straight forward match, besides, her brother would have the skin from my back,” he tried to jest.

“If none of them mention the current line of succession, I see no need to bring it to their attention. These Northerners are not as smart as they think, and when did you become so politically inclined anyway, had enough of battle lust?” Dany deflected.

“I think you underestimate Robb Stark and his kin,” he said, releasing her and slipping back towards the tree.

 

He himself had not taken enough stock into the Young Wolf when they first met, he was just a man as far as he could gleam. The stories had made him out to be some sort of god, who transformed into his direwolf at whim, but Jon should have known not to believe the stories. As far as he could tell, Robb Stark was just, good and stern, a man, but one that impressed him. He was imposing and calm and… steady.

He had been presented to him around the command table in the Kings tent, those many moons ago when they began Dany’s campaign on the capital. Robb had raised his head when Varys had announced the Prince of Dragonstone, with Ser Arthur Dayne at his side, his near constant shadow. Robb glanced towards him before he straightened suddenly, a look of shock crossing his features. Jon noted, several gasps and muffled noises rang out from the Northern Lords around him. Robb had strode around the table and embraced him without a second thought, clapping him on the back and releasing him quickly before Jon could respond, addressing him simply with a nod and the word “cousin,” before returning to his place at the head of the table.

“You are the image of Ned Stark,” Ser Arthur whispered quietly beside him, by way of explanation. Jon did nothing to mask his own surprise at that. Dark haired and grey of eyes, he had never felt like the dragon they had claimed him to be, there was little of his father’s Valerian heritage in his features.

“He has the Stark look,” a little voice proclaimed, he had turned away from Arthur to the small girl in front of him, she did not even reach the top of his chest and she wondered how she wasn’t regularly trampled. He stared intently at her face and saw her eyes were the same as his. She was dressed like a squire, hair messed and pulled back from her sombre face.

“Arya, leave our cousin be,” The King told her, smiling as he surveyed a map from across the room with interest.

Ser Arthur stared sadly at the girl named Arya, shaking his head softly at her appearance before them. The girl had turned slightly, making out to walk away, he saw her plan her decision before she even moved, anticipating her attack, as she spun back round with a small knife in her hand, aiming for his neck. Jon grabbed her wrist, halting the movements and dragging her closer. Arthur had not even had time to move before the girl burst into frantic laughter.

“He’s quick too, like a wolf,” Arya smiled like a predator at him before the tent was filled with the rumbles of Northern laughter.

“I would say you get used to her, but you never really do. Come, Arya,” he gestured to the position beside him, “at least act the Princess you are for the duration of our meeting.”

 

 

“You are the Starks kin,” Dany sighed, demanding his attention once more, “half dragon, half wolf…”

“I suppose I am. I can feel it you know, the two halves of me. Sometimes I feel like they fight against one another…” he said somberly.

“That is what happens, to those born of great love,” she said, glancing at him warmly.

Jon did not reply, he had little to say, he had heard the tales, of course he had. Ser Arthur, always the first to tell him how much his father loved his mother, but he had never seen it for himself, he had never known such a love.

He looked across the bank of the river, his father had fallen somewhere in this very river, he had fought to the very death and took his last breath here, and he felt… nothing.

“I just don’t understand why I must marry Dany,” he sighed, “I have thought your wars and commanded your armies… surely you have asked enough of my, is my duty not done?”

“We all have a duty Jon, and it is never done, this is yours. Goodness, I could have you wed to that Tyrell wretch, you may actually like this one,” she said suggestively, raising her brows.

He shuddered in response at the thought of being wed to Maergery Tyrell and she laughed in response.

“Sansa Stark, by all accounts, may not be the worlds greatest beauty, but is comely enough, and submissive, of fertile stock, Gods Jon, she comes from the two most noble and ancient houses on the continent, the Starks have been here longer than any of us. She is the perfect choice, the only choice,” she emphasised.

Jon scowled. He cared deeply for his aunt but could not help struggling with her assessment of the Stark Princess. He huffed in exasperation. They had been having the same back and forth for moons now, it wouldn’t do, to rile her up on the banks of the Trident, mere hours before they were to meet their new hosts.

“Come,” he suggested, “if you are so set aunt, let us not delay.” The small council would have arrived there earlier this morning in their retinue, setting out weeks before. The sun was high in the sky above them and they would be expected by the King shortly.

He held his hand out, which Dany took, and he placed it in the crux of his elbow, making they way back to the dragons on the hillside.

“Into the wolfs den,” he sighed.

“Don’t be so melancholy nephew, we are dragons after all…”

Chapter Text

He appraised his sisters as they sat in front of the fire in Sansa’s rooms. He had given her their mothers chambers at Riverrun, one of the best in the castle. His Queen had remained in the North, as she grew heavy with child, so the honour of lady of the castle would pass to Sansa.

His sisters, both alive and safe, could not be any different in temperament or look. Arya, since her return, had become his shadow in matters of command. They had grown closer than they had even been as children, she was too young then, always running amuck and avoiding her lessons, and he was always with their father or Theon. He embraced the change in their relationship. She was interested in his armies and their men, in a different way to Sansa, who knew his Bannerman better than he did most of the times.

Arya sat in one chair, with her booted foot raised and kicked over one of the arms, her eyes closed in feigned boredom, although she was always listening, always analysing those around them, seeking any potential threat. Sansa sat straight on the floor in front of the flames, her beauty only enlarged by the glow of the hearth, as she ran a brush through Ghosts fur, as his head lay heavy on her lap.

“You will spoil him,” he tutted as he crossed the room and settled in the chair across from Arya, feeling the days tension ease from his shoulders.

“He deserves it,” Sansa replied softly, not lifting her head from the task, “don’t you, my sweet boy?”

Robb smiled softly at the sight. Ghost, who had never had another half, not like him and Greywind, had claimed Sansa for his own when they had reunited all those moons ago. Arya was adamant that Nymeria still roamed free, too wild to be tamed in a castle, she did not need another in the way Sansa did, Arya still had her wolf somewhere, still part of her. It was like Ghost knew, Sansa had no one, and neither did he, so they would be one another’s. He can still remember the day Lady must have died, how Greywind howled for three nights straight in anguish for his sister, who was the best of them. It was how they all knew Shaggydog and Summer still lived somewhere, the wolves would feel it if anything ever did.

Sansa placed her brush on the floor, and dragged her hand through Ghosts fur, “well,” she said, glancing up at him, “shall we begin?”

Arya opened one eye, grinning down her sister.

“Let’s begin,” he said, nodding at her.

Sansa stood, smoothing her skirts as Ghost settled back on the rug, huffing at the interruption as she began to slowly walk a path around the solar. She clasped her hands in front of her, her head bowed as she walked, her brows pinched together in concentration.

“She’s got her thinking face on brother, should we be worried?” Arya mock whispered from her seat.

Robb shot his sister a grin before beginning, “they have settled in well, Lord Tyrion, the Spider, and the others, I was surprised she didn’t bring more of an armed presence, though I suppose the dragons are enough,” he sighed.

“Were there any comments about my absence?” Sansa asked.

Gods she was clever, always one step ahead of him, thinking of things he hadn’t.

“A few. I didn’t take stock in it at the time.”

“Septa Mordane would be appalled Princess,” Arya drawled, “the lady of the castle, not greeting her guests.”

“All intentional sister, I assure you, you don’t leave your best trinket on the table for anyone to snatch, you wear it on only the finest occasion,” Sansa smiled sweetly.

They had discussed it at length, Sansa would be absent to greet the high lords from the South who would be arriving ahead of the Queen and their cousin, on their dragons. Robb had also had an area of woodland cleared, close enough for the dragons to roam, but far away enough from Riverrun and the nearby villages and holdfasts, he would not have them running amuck amongst his people, this he had not budge on.

“And what of when the Dragon Queen arrives, will you be there then?” Arya queries.

Sansa shook her head in response.

“Are you sure they won’t take it as a slight, if you are not there to greet the Queen and the Prince?” Arya asked.

“Perhaps,” Sansa shrugged.

“And you mean to stoke her ire?” she asked, leaning forward, looking at Robb with concern.

“We must set a tone, they hold many of the cards Arya, so we need to show our power where we can. Yes, we need her dragons and her supplies, but Sansa is a Princess of Winterfell, the most eligible unwed woman on the continent,” he said reluctantly, he had heard the speech enough now from Sansa. He also knew if they had the chance, Tyrion and Varys would already be trying to whisper in her ear, to turn the tide in their favour.

Arya scowled, Robb and Sansa glanced anxiously at one another. They both knew their little sister was averse to having Sansa wed for an alliance.

“It is my idea, little one,” Sansa said, as she continued her pacing, “no one is forcing me, especially our King,” she continued, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder quickly as she passed, “I have my own conditions, as I am sure they do, but we must hear them…”

“Gods Sansa, do you not get tired of it all, the planning and plotting?” Arya slumped back ungracefully in her chair, resting her feet on Ghost who reluctantly did not complain.

“We have all had our journeys Arya, none of ours were easy,” she said sadly, his heart ached for his sisters, “but if we cannot use our lessons to our advantage then they were all for nothing, all the pain was for nothing. I do it for our kingdom,” she was nodding at herself as she walked, “just as you take up your blade, we all have a role to play.”

Arya huffed, Robb leant forward and ruffled her hair affectionately, “You never know,” he began, desperate to lighten the mood, “she may like him Arya, he is far prettier than even I,” he quipped.

Arya barked a laugh, “and better with a sword,” he picked up a roll of thread Sansa had left on the table and threw it Arya’s direction in response, which she artfully dodged.

Arya continued laughing whilst Sansa scolded them both, gathering her thread and righting the table, “surely no one is prettier than Robb,” Sansa scoffed.

“Only you sister,” he said, grinning easily.

He longed for these times more than any other. Tucked away in the evening with his family, away from grasping lords, talks of winter and the horrors that awaiting them in the moons to come. It was almost as if they were back in Winterfell, in their parents room years ago, before their father went South with the girls and everything changed. By the gods, who would ever want to be king? He would give it up for a simple life, with his family whole and happy.

That could never be. This was their life now. He was responsible for hundreds of thousands, and as his father had taught him, he would care for them all like they were his own children. It was the old way.

“When will our Princess finally make an appearance then?” Arya asked, focusing back on the topic at hand.

“The southern council will ride out to greet them, where their dragons are set to land, according to Lord Tyrion,” Robb began.

“It makes sense,” Sansa started, sitting back on the rug fluidly next to Ghost, who immediately settled his head back in her lap, she took up her reassuring strokes once more, “they likely think it will look more regal if they appear in a retinue, as opposed to just two people on horseback… like when King Robert came to Winterfell.”

Robb nodded sagely, “a united front, a Southern Court,”

“Exactly,” Sansa continued, “there will be a feast that night Arya, to welcome them, that is when they can meet me.”

Arya laughed again, “oh sister, I can already see the theatrics of it all now. You should walk in with your guard, Brienne, Ser Jaime certainly, that will really rile them up, maybe the Hound too, they have their dragons, we have our hound.”

“Oh no Arya,” she began, grinning down as she stroked Ghost behind his ears, “we do not need guards, or hounds, or dragons even, we have something much better…” she whispered, “it is high time these southerners know what it is to walk amongst the wolves.”

Chapter Text

They had left the dragons in a makeshift clearing, in the middle of a woodland, some ten leagues from Riverrun. He knew Dany was unhappy about it, she had continued to bristle at the demand they leave Drogon and Rhaegal, but there was little to be done about it, the King in the North had insisted.

They had been met by Ser Jorah, Greyworm, and fifty mixed outriders of Unsullied. Dany seemed placated to have Ser Jorah back at her side. They rode hard, at Dany’s insistence, the short way to Riverrun.

Jon had never seen such green landscapes before. It was beautiful. Lush woodlands made way for green fields and trees as tall as many Keeps. He thought the Riverlands a stunning place, so different from the hot, barren lands of his youth and the humidity of Kings Landing. It was like he could breath freely for the first time in years.

The castle of Riverrun itself, the seat of House Tully, was breath-taking. He had seen great castles before, Dragonstone, the Red Keep, but there was something mesmerising about the white stoned castle, nestled proudly in the largest moat of water he had ever seen as it came into view. Turrets rose high out of the water, making it appear as if it floated.

The imposing draw bridge was lowered in anticipation for their arrival. Ser Jorah led their party through the gates and into a large central courtyard. It was filled, he assumed, with Northmen and Rivermen alike. Robb Stark stood at the entrance to the main keep, his presence large and commanding in his furs, flanked either side by his younger cousin Arya and a large, imposing man on the other.

A few steps below the King in the North, and to the side, stood the members of Dany’s small council that had travelled with them, Lord Tyrion, Lord Varys, Missandei, Ser Arthur and the remaining members of the Unsullied and a few high ranking Dothraki. He sighed at their group as they sunk in to exaggerated low bows and curtsies as Dany’s horse approached and came to a halt in front of the King, none of the Northern delegation moved a muscle, he knew they would hear about that for many nights to come.

Jon vaulted smoothly from his horse, coming to Dany’s side and helping her down, she didn’t need the help of course, she was a wonderfully skilled rider, but it was the done thing and he didn’t want to look like some uneducated savage. He glimpsed Arthur nodding in encouragement at him from the corner of his eye, his reassurance always present. He took Dany’s hand in his and walked her towards the stone steps where their host awaited them.

Not a noise could be heard in the courtyard, it was then that he realised there was only one Stark Princess ahead of them. Arya grinned widely at him, raising her dark eyebrows at him knowingly as she caught him searching the dais. He had only moments to consider the significance of Sansa Stark’s absence when Missandei began her address.

“Before you stands Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the rightful Queen and Protector of the Realm in the South, Queen of Meereen, Khalessi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons…”

By the gods. What was she doing? He shot an imploring look towards Tyrion who seemed to be just as aghast as he was. Why hadn’t they discussed this? In the few short weeks he had spent with the King and his bannermen before the sacking of Kings Landing, he had learnt without a doubt that they had little amusement for such courtly frivolities. A sombre bowing of the head and courteous address was all that was expected in the presence of the King in the North. Despite his limited political inclination, he knew this wouldn’t go down well, Dany would appear the pampered Southern ruler, bragging of her titles and achievements.

The King maintained a neutral expression as they approached the bottom of the steps. He began his short decent and held his hand out towards Dany as he stopped in front of them. She smiled sweetly at him before placing her hand gently in his. Robb kissed it lightly.

“Welcome to Riverrun, may I present my Uncle, Ser Brynden Tully,” he said gesturing to the man who had been standing to his right.

“The hospitality of our castle is yours, I regret that my nephew, Lord Edmure is currently not well enough to greet you, following the recent wars,” he said, a sombre expression on his face. The Blackfish’s reputation as a military commander was legendary and Jon was pleased to meet him. He dipped his head in acknowledgement.

“Well met,” Dany said loudly, “Is your sister not amongst us?” she asked, feigning to look over the King’s shoulder.

“My sister, Arya,” he gestured with his head, “as I am sure you remember her, is just here. My sister Sansa, however, is currently indisposed.”

Jon frowned at the lack of explanation. On one hand he was pleased not to have to meet her in a muddy courtyard with a hundred people looking on, but he couldn’t say he wasn’t disappointed to not meet the woman his aunt wanted so desperately for him.

“A pity,” Dany replied simply.

“I am sure you are tired from your journey. Your Grace, my uncle shall show you to your chambers.”

The Blackfish stepped forward and held a hand out to Dany, “I knew your brother Your Grace, he had a terrible tolerance for Dornish wine, perhaps you would like to hear about it,” he said jovially as he began to walk her towards the main castle, and he was pleased that his aunt seemed to slip into animated chatter with the old man.

Robb then turned back to him and clapped him on the shoulder, “cousin, it’s good to see you again.”

“You too, Your Grace,” he said, as they embraced quickly.

“None of that nonsense, we are kin, just Robb,” he said easily.

“But you must call me Princess,” Arya jested as she sided up towards him, smiling sweetly at him, far too sweetly.

“It’s Underfoot or northing else I am afraid, and if you so much as draw any one of the four daggers you likely have on your person at me… I will throw you in the Trident,” he said as he ruffled her hair.

“Gods you’re boring, and it’s five daggers, actually.”

“Arya, show the Queen’s party to her rooms, I am sure they have need to speak,” he said nodding towards the Lords standing awkwardly to the side.

“At once, my King,” she said, bowing in exaggeration.

Robb sighed, gesturing for Jon to follow him towards the castle, “you will be pleased to know cousin, that not all Northern women are like Arya,” Jon coughed a laugh awkwardly, “I’m pleased you’re here, there is much more to the world than that rat hole you call home, come, let us get you settled.”

----------

Jon had remained in the company of the King in the North for much of the afternoon. It was a happy fact that he seemed to love Riverrun almost immediately. Ser Arthur had joined them, drinking strong Northern ale with Theon Greyjoy, who was even growing on him, as they reminisced about the Baratheon downfall some moons ago. Arya had even joined them, which was a surprise to him. The ladies at court would not normally be seen dead with a group of rowdy lords, a prince and a king as they drunk into the early evening.

They had spoke little of the other Northern Princess, other than one jest in which Greyjoy asked if he liked soft, dainty wolves, to which Arya had smacked him across the back of the head before running around the room as the Lord of the Iron Islands chased her. He liked it. It was natural and easy and lacked the posturing that usually suffocated him in the capital.

They had soon departed after that, to attend to their duties or begin preparations for the feast they were holding in their honour.

Jon left to find Dany’s rooms, knowing he would likely be scolded for leaving her this afternoon. As expected, he found her in a frustrated state.

“These are beautiful rooms my Queen,” Missandei told her as he crossed the fresh hold, “as I understand it, the once belonged to the Lady Lysa Tully, the Kings own aunt.”

“They are nice,” Dany replied, and they were. Riverrun was a beautiful castle, just as her rooms were, a balcony opened directly across the vast expanse of water, fresh fruits and cheeses had been laid out on a large wooden table, carved with fish, and silver trout’s were painted across the pale blue walls, to appear as dancing.

She turned and surveyed Jon, beckoning him in, “don’t you find it vexing Jon, no one has seen Sansa Stark, not even Tyrion, the slight of her not greeting us is not lost on me,” she said, turning back to the balcony, crossing her arms in frustration.

“Your Lord Hand has assured us all is well my Queen, perhaps these Northerners just run their Court differently to you,” Missandei said gently, coming to Dany’s side and taking her arm, “we must prepare you for the feast, you will be a vision and the whole castle will have to take notice,” the Naathian beauty whispered softly in Dany’s ear.

“The red and black gown,” Dany nodded.

“Yes,” Missandei agreed, “a true dragon my Queen.”

“I will go to prepare too,” Jon said, “I will return to escort you Dany,” he said, smiling at her reflection in the mirror.

“Thank you, nephew, we must be perfect, we must not show any weakness now,” she cocked a silver brow at him, “Targaryen colours, Jon.”

He sighed in response, nodding once before slipping back out of the door.

----------

Jon would always appease his aunt when he could. He loved her dearly, he did. She had saved him many times in their short lives, more than he could count. Just as he had saved her. It was what they did, they survived. She was Queen now, as she should be. Viserys was a spiteful bastard, Jon had never cared for him and he would have been a terrible King, no different to his grandfather in his eyes, and Jon, well, Jon found it difficult enough to be a prince, let alone a ruler. He could command an army and plan a battle, but he could never rule a kingdom. Jon was good at fighting; it really was a simple as that.

Despite his devotion to Daenerys, he was loathed to join the Targaryen parade, as he saw it. He was not a prized horse, to be sold off to the highest bidder, and he cursed as he laced himself into his black jerkin. In a small act of rebellion, it had only the smallest amount of red along the laces, but there was no mistaking the outline of the black dragon that had been embossed on the front. He swore out loud again.

“Peace, my Prince,” Jon jumped as he turned and saw Ser Arthur lazing against the frame of the large oak door, an easy grin on his face, “you are going to meet a Princess, you are not charging into battle, smile.”

“You’re a smug bastard, you know that,” he grumbled, as he finished pinning the Prince of Dragonstone emblem to his chest.

“You may be the smug one soon enough, friend,” Arthur replied, walking over to a table at the side of the room and pouring too small cups of ale, they had rather taken to the stuff of late. He handed one casually to Jon and he gratefully accepted.

“I’ve heard a rumour from a rather lovely little maid,” he continued.

“We’ve been here an afternoon and you’ve already found yourself a maid?” he cocked an eyebrow at his friend, the man he saw as a father figure.

“The Riverlands is a lush place Jon, there are treasures abundant to be discovered,” he said informally.

Jon laughed, “you’re an old man now Arthur, you really should slow down.”

“I am young yet,” he waved a hand absentmindedly, “and besides, you are not averse to a pretty woman yourself my Prince,” he said, bowing mockingly.

Jon shrugged, swigging his ale to bide his time, because the truth was that Ser Arthur was right. He had always liked woman, and from his past experience it was easy to say they had liked him. But he was not married, he had never had a great love and was mindful to not leave broken hearts in his wake, but he had discreetly enjoyed the company of women from time to time.

“Anyway, what was this rumour that your pretty maid whispered in your ear,” Jon prompted, eager for the diversion.

“Not so much of a rumour I suppose, but fact,” he said, “she said your Princess…”

“She’s not my Princess,” he interrupted in exasperation.

“Jon,” he sighed, “I did not mean to stoke your dragon fire, may I continue? I have been keeping my ears open son, my maid said, merely in passing I’m sure, how pleased she was to have the King and the Princesses in Riverrun, and how shocked the household had been to see Princess Sansa, for how much she looked like her mother, for how it was like seeing a ghost.”

“And this should mean something to me?” Jon asked in irritation.

Arthur rolled his eyes at him, “all I am saying is, I saw Catelyn Tully once, many, many years ago, she would have been about the same age as the Princess now, and well, she was…” Arthur paused, looking upwards as he appeared to contemplate his next words.

“You gossip more than a kitchen maid Arthur.”

Arthur sighed, “fine, never mind, we should go, best not to keep the Queen waiting,” he leaned forward and straightened Jon’s emblem for him, “there, you look prettier than the Princess I am sure, although your hair looks just as wild as the rest of the Starks.”

Jon pushed him away before punching him on the shoulder. Arthur laughed before throwing an arm around his shoulder, “come, your she-wolf awaits.”

----------

As feasts go, it isn’t the worst Jon had ever been. As far as feasts that he has been forced to back in Kings Landing, it is infinitely better, less ostentatious. This feast, hosted by the King in the North, had more of a family supper feel to it, well as much as a hall full of five hundred people can feel like a family gathering.

The great hall at Riverrun was large, likely almost the size of the Throne Room in the Red Keep, which had surprised him. There were several fireplaces, which imposingly ran each length of the room, all softly burning in the background, causing the room to glow warmly.

Garlands of vines of lush leaves dotted with white flowers had been strung, crossing backwards and forwards above their heads and made the air around them smell sweet and fresh, almost like water.

A group of players sat in one corner, playing their lutes and their harps softly, filling the air with gentle music.

Dany had seemed pleased, when he had led her in. The King had been stood in front of the high table, to meet them. The King had seated Dany next to him, to the right, a place of high honour according to Tyrion, and he had set next to Dany, on her other side. One high backed seat stood obviously empty to the left of the King.

Jon glanced repeatedly at the empty chair next to the King, foregoing the cup of wine in front of him, ignoring the conversation that flowed, albeit stiltedly amongst those nearest to him. He tugged awkwardly on the tight collar of his jerkin. He felt like an animal on show in his courtly garb.

“You look ill at ease cousin,” Robb said, his voice level. He turned to his cousin and saw the joy that had been in his eyes in his apartments earlier was somewhat absent. The Kings gaze was stoic and piercing. He had seen his face similar to this when they had planned their battles together, in cold tents, surrounded by battered men and maps.

Jon shifted uneasily in his chair as Robb held his stare.

“Perhaps I am nervous,” he conceded.

Dany scoffed, “nervous? You are a Targaryen, we do not know fear Jon,” she hissed, her eyes hard.

Robb took a long sip from his cup, before placing it back on the wooden table, smirking to himself. He gestured to the table below the dais, and Theon Greyjoy approached, standing below the King.

“Brother, it is time,” he said quietly, no one else in the hall would be able to hear them.

Theon bowed his head towards the King, “of course, your Grace,” before turning and walking resolutely down the length of the hall, stopping only when he came to the large entrance. Arya had approached the high table, dressed in forest green breeches, with her hair tied back, as he wore it sometimes.

Jon glimpsed at Dany, who was frowning, glancing down the dais towards her advisors, who were seated in places of honour, closest to the high table.

“Greywind,” Robb whispered, Jon turned his attention back to the King and saw him sitting with his eyes closed. Within moments, his great direwolf, taller than many horses, trotted slowly, with his head bowed into the hall, stopping before the high table. Robb held his gaze for a few short moments before nodding his head once at his wolf.

The animal jumped onto the high table, both Dany and Jon reared back in their seats. Jon had spent a short amount of time in the presence of his cousins direwolf, but never at this close of a distance. He couldn’t help but admire the wolfs beauty and fierceness. The wolf paced the length of the table once, whilst Robb and Arya sat still, unmoving in its company, before the wolf stopped in front of the King, turned to the room and released an almighty howl.

Dany shrieked, covering her ears as the wolf lamented to the room, all eyes firmly on the great beast.

“What on earth is he doing?” his aunt cried out as the wolfs howl came to an end.

“Calling for his Princess,” Robb said solemnly, “welcome to the new North, your Grace,” he said, before gesturing with his head in the direction of the entrance to the great hall.

Theon Greyjoy remained at his post, stepping forward and addressing the silent crowd before him.

“My King, honoured guests, may I present, the Princess of Winter, Sansa Stark.”

Jon sat, as every other lord and lady did, completely captivated by the two figures who had moved into the doorway at the other end of the hall.

It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.

The woman was the single most lovely creature he had laid his eyes on in his entire life. She was so beautiful he felt unworthy to look upon her. She was tall, willowy, dressed in a gown of the darkest blue he had ever seen, if midnight was a colour, it would be how he would describe the dress wrapped around her body. The skirt was large, billowing around her. Her waist was slight, and the bodice of her dress seemed to shimmer in the candlelight, adorned with tiny stones as dark as the fabric of her gown. Her skin was pale, like milk and water, he imagined it would be soft, like the petal of a flower. Her face was lovely, just lovely, but her hair, by gods her hair, hung like a curtain of copper flames, like the ones Rhaegal could conjure, rippling down her back. It was worn lose, a scandal in the Southern Court but one he knew he would love in an instant, all except for the delicate crown of winter roses around her head.

So, this was Sansa Stark.

Her companion, another direwolf, stood loyally at her side. He had not seen this wolf before, he had certainly not accompanied Robb south on their campaign. He was as white as snow, with bright red eyes, and just as large and imposing as Robb’s. He was a fearsome creature to behold.

The Princess sunk her hand into the wolfs side, burying her fingers in his fur, and together, like a winters storm, they slowly began to walk the length of the hall. The pair looked like a dream, every strange, fractured dream he had ever had of the North, or of his mother, of Queens of Love and Beauty, or the family he had never known in his youth, with her eyes downcast demurely, walked with the grace of a Queen towards him.

She had stopped below the high table, before she held both of her hands out delicately to her sides, facing her palms to the ceiling, and lowered herself into an elegant curtsey.

“My King,” she said, her voice carrying softly, as the Princess looked up through her eyelashes to address her brother.

“Sister,” Robb nodded, a small smile gracing his face.

Jon swallowed thickly. She was a wonder, beautiful, fierce and unknown and Jon Targaryen knew he was completely enraptured by her, and she hadn’t even looked at him yet.

“If you would do us the honour, sister…” Robb addressed her once more, gesturing casually with an arm towards Theon Greyjoy, who had stepped forward once more with a large oval plate in his arms.

“It would be my pleasure, your Grace,” her tinkling voice made him tense his shoulders. She turned to the white wolf beside her, leaning towards him and kissing him softly on his snout, the wolf didn’t move, completely content with her actions, and she seemed to hold little fear at having her face so close to such a creature, “thank you, Ghost,” she said. The great direwolf lowered his head slightly, before bounding back out of the hall, with Greywind close on his heels.

The Stark Princess took the plate from Theon’s hands, and he helped to guide her up the dais. Jon was captivated, following her movements with his eyes as she walked the length of the table, before coming a gentle pause in front of Dany, inches away from him.

He hadn’t noticed her eyes, not until this moment, not until she raised her heart shaped face to address his aunt. He’d never seen such blue eyes, brighter than the roses in her hair, like two sapphires, twinkling before him. He could drown in them, happily, he wondered briefly if he would ever get the chance to.

The Princess held the plate in front of her, offering it to Daenerys.

“Your Grace, as our honoured guest, may you and yours be welcome within our halls. I extend to you the King’s hospitality and protection, in the sight of gods and men,” she said, dipping her head respectfully.

Jon hadn’t had a moment to consider his aunts reaction to Sansa Stark, he had little time to wrap his head around his own, but the woman before them was not the comely little thing she had been made out to be, she was perhaps the most singular beauty in all of Westeros. Dany looked tense, her jaw set as it would when she was displeased. The room was eerily silent as they awaited her response.

“I thank you, Princess Sansa,” she said, “it is charming to meet you finally,” Jon groaned internally, as Dany said it in a way that sounded quite the opposite, “but I think we will wait for the feast,” she said, eyeing the platter suspiciously.

He noticed Ser Jorah stand from the corner of his eye, but Dany raised a hand to halt him.

The King rose also from his chair, but the Princess stopped him with a look.

“You misunderstand me, your Grace. This is the ceremony of offering Guest Rights, the sharing of bread and salt, it is the old way,” she said discreetly.

Jon pinched his eyes together in frustration. She had given her explanation with dignity, but he knew the damage was done. The King looked at them with still eyes. Jon rose sharply from his seat, the chair thundering across the stone floor, the Princess snapped her head towards the noise, looking upon him finally.

He held her gaze, feeling like a green boy under her inspection as he worked to save the situation as best he could.

“Princess,” he said, tipping his head towards her.

“My Prince,” she replied sweetly, looking at him from underneath her eyelashes. By the gods he was mesmerised by her.

“May I?” Jon asked, gesturing towards the plate.

“I would be honoured,” she whispered.

“Would you show me, Princess?” He swallowed thickly.

“Of course,” she offered him a small but warm smile. She set the plate in front of him on the table and took a small piece of bread between them, she dipped the bread into the bowl of salt, before slowly, painstakingly so, raising it to her mouth and placing it gently on her tongue. He watched her lips as she swallowed the bread and salt, chasing the movement down the column of her throat.

“Now it’s your turn,” she whispered. He realised he had been staring for far longer than polite and was sure he heard Robb’s cough further down the table. He tore his eyes back to the plate before copying her actions.

“Thank you, Princess,” he began, “an honourable custom, but not one I have received before,” he said, trying to remember every courtly lesson Dany and Tyrion had forced on him.

She surveyed him with her clear, blue eyes, taking him in from head to toe, before leaning towards the table just slightly, little enough that anyone else would barely notice it.

“It’s no matter my Prince,” Sansa Stark said gently, “you will find there are a great many new experiences to be had in the North.”

Chapter Text

The Prince of Dragonstone was not what she had expected. Sansa had purposefully tried to limit and ignore the small things Robb and Arya had disclosed over the past moons since they had met their cousin, she liked to make her own opinion when initially meeting someone, it helped her to better understand their motivators.

He was handsome, very much so. She hadn’t much liked dark-haired boys during her youth, but raven haired man standing in the halls of Riverrun looked more the Northern warrior than Targaryen Prince.

Yes, he was handsome, one of the handsomest men she had seen in a long time, but she had once thought Joffrey much the same, and where had that gotten her? No. Sansa Stark would not be taken in by a nice face and a low voice, no matter how much she had to work to supress a shiver when he had first addressed her.

His eyes though, simply could not be ignored. They were Stark eyes, just like Arya’s, just like her fathers. He looked a bit like Ned Stark had, she supposed, but younger, leaner. She wondered what he would like adorned with furs, stalking the Godswood.

He liked the look of her too she imagined. Most men did, the fools, easily taken in by a pretty face and a small waist, she had not missed the way his eyes had tracked her every movement. She congratulated herself on her dress, it really was a lovely thing, her fingers still hurt from stitching on the damn stones, but winter was coming, and it was a gown fit for a Princess of Winter.

She was pleased with the initial reception in the great hall. Sansa would admit, that even by her standards the crown of winter roses was maybe a tad too much, she hadn’t missed Theon’s knowing smirk when he led her up the dais or Arya’s eye roll. But needs must, and she needed these people to think her the Maiden made flesh.

Sansa had quickly taken in the gathered lords and ladies of significance, she has tutored her Great Uncle Brynden on the seating arrangements herself and saw Lord Varys and Tyrion below them, when Robb had finally guided her into her seat. She gave a small, seemingly polite nod in her once husband’s direction but nothing more, she was sure he would seek her out soon, when the cards were finally laid.

Sansa smiled gratefully to her brother when he passed her a cup of heavily watered wine, now was not a time to overindulge, but they offered no conversation besides that. Brienne and Sandor were ever present, standing behind the high table, within mere moments of her, but she had urged Ser Jaime to keep his distance this evening, suspected his presence would only aggravate some of their Targaryen guests.

“You have prepared a fine feast for us King Robb, I am thankful for your warm welcome,” The Queen of Dragons addressed her brother without meeting his eye.

“My sisters doing, I assure you, she is this castles Lady, but I agree, quite the feat with winter and the dead soon upon us.”

The Queen tipped her head in acknowledgement but offered no further comment.

She was a little thing; this was the first time Sansa had seen her too. She was shockingly beautiful, like a water goddess or something out of one of her childhood story books. Her skin and hair were of course mesmerising, she imagined this Queen had been told every day what a great beauty she was, but it was her purple eyes which were most captivating in Sansa’s opinion, they seemed to watch everything and everyone, moving so quickly and minutely that you could miss it altogether. She was a vision, the epitome of womanhood, but unmarried which Sansa found curious, despite her obvious eligibility. She would file that away for another time.

“Humour me with a dance, sister,” Robb asked, rising from his seat and offering her his hand. She nodded demurely, goodness, this little act would surely border on annoyance soon, nevertheless she rose from her chair, back perfectly straight, before chancing a small glance towards the Queen and Prince before following her brother to the floor.

Robb took Sansa in his arms as the players took up their instruments. The tune was pretty and not too fast as he began to twirl her and move her across the floor.

“You should have asked the Queen to dance Robb,” she tutted despite the small smile still gracing her face.

“But I didn’t want to,” he shrugged.

“That’s not the point,” she sighed, “it is the expected thing to do.”

“So is taking the bread and the salt,” he huffed, before spinning her in a small circle, causing her skirts to fan dramatic in a pool of deep blue around her.

“That was not something I had anticipated,” she said, trying hard not to frown, in truth it wasn’t, she hadn’t meant to cause their guests any embarrassment, she hadn’t expected them to not know the oldest and most common custom in many parts of Westeros, never the less, she now saw it as the opportunity it was. Her and Jon Targaryen had spoken with one another, sooner than she had thought they would, and he had gazed at her far longer that appropriate. He had watched her lips and spoke lowly with her, she may be a maid, but she knew the look of a man who was taken with a woman.

“I’m sure you can use it to our advantage sister. Now,” he paused, before lifting her by the waist and turning them once before putting her down, “you really are the prettiest dancer…” Robb grinned wolfishly, “and now your blushing, well done sister, our cousin is half in love with you already I am sure.”

“If we weren’t dancing, I would smack you about the head,” she smiled sarcastically at him, before pausing, “but are they watching?” she said slyly.

Robb turned them again so he could take in the high table, “well, the Queen appears to be whispering furiously in Lord Tyrion’s ear, your entrance seems to have ruffled a dragon scale or two, but Jon,” he craned his neck once more, “he seems to have left the table… ahh there he is, the brooding dragon, to your left, on the edge of the floor.”

“What is he doing Robb?” She sighed in exasperation, as she remained a step ahead of all of them.

“Well, he is standing with Ser Arthur, but all he is doing, dear sister, is watching you…”

Sansa smiled genuinely; it couldn’t be helped when she was dancing. She had once thought her time in the capital would be filled with dancing and music and songs, but how wrong she had been. She had never thought she would want to dance another step in her life, but here, in their mother’s birthplace and in her brother’s arms, despite their games and the players around them, she was happy to be twirled and spun by her brother.

She couldn’t help but wonder, what exactly Prince Jon thought of her as he watched her dance.

The song was coming to a close, as typical, she saw many lords standing on the fringes of the floor, no doubt ready to ask the king for his partner.

“Escort me over to them Robb,” she whispered, “to the Prince and Ser Arthur.”

He nodded once, bowing to her slightly as the dance finished, she slipped her arm into the crux of his elbow as he led them slowly to the edge of the room.

“Jon, Ser Arthur,” Robb greeted them both, “Ser, I am not sure if you have met my sister before,” he said gesturing to her, “The Princess Sansa, of House Stark.”

Ser Arthur dipped his head respectfully. He was a charming man to look upon, with a complexion blessed to many southerners and grey dusting his sandy hair.

“Princess,” he said as he took her hand and kissed the top of it.

“Ser Arthur, it is a pleasure to meet you,” she said genuinely, she clutched his hand as he went to lower it, “I spent many an evening during my childhood being regaled with stories about you by my father, he was very fond of you.”

He barked a laugh, “I was fond of the fact the sullen fool didn’t kill me when he had the chance.”

“As are we,” she said quickly, “for if he had, who would have secured the safety of our cousin?” She murmured, finally chancing a look at the man in question. Next to Ser Arthur, Jon looked taken a back by her statement and she smiled modestly at him.

“Don’t look so shocked Jon, we Starks protect the pack,” Robb said, playfully smacking their cousin on the shoulder and laughing.

Robb’s booming laughter, a contrast to his earlier sombreness caught the attention of others around them, including many of the Queens party, who herself was looking upon them with her sharp eyes, her face blank and unreadable, Sansa always felt uneasy when she could not interpret the emotions of someone.

“It was a pleasure in truth your Grace, to see Jon grow, he is a fine man…”

“Arthur…” The Prince began to caution.

“… But utterly shite with a sword,” Ser Arthur continued.

Even Sansa couldn’t help the small laugh that burst from her lips. She liked that the pair seemed so at ease with one another, like Robb and Theon were, like family. She knew her father would be glad of that at least.

“You fulfilled your vow with honour Ser Arthur, we could do with a man like yourself in the North, if you ever get fed up of all that sun,” she japed, feigning disgust at the thought of a summer’s day.

“I will keep that in mind my Princess, I can see there is much beauty to be seen in the North,” she bowed her head implying coyness, “although you may look like your mother Princess, you seem just as wise and honourable as Ned Stark.”

She turned to her brother in embarrassment, he smiled down at her warmly and flicked her on the nose, as he often did when they were children, much to her annoyance.

“Thank you Ser Arthur, there is no higher compliment you could pay me, they were wonderful people,” she said genuinely, feeling the usual ache grip her chest as it often did when she thought of the late Lord and Lady Stark.

The Knight smiled at her softly.

“I am sorry I didn’t get to meet them,” The Prince said suddenly, “especially Lord Stark, to… thank him… for all he did for me,” his eyes were drawn together, and his grey gaze flitted between her and Robb.

Sansa swallowed deeply. Did he mean it? He seemed to, he looked genuinely stricken. It was clear he wasn’t a man who filled his mouth with words unnecessarily, that she could certainly admire. She had no time for simpering lording’s who only said what they thought she wanted to hear.

“Thank you, cousin,” Robb replied after clearing his throat.

Sansa knew the conversation had reared dangerously off course, it was far too serious, and she had not meant to delve into topics so deep so soon. She hardly knew her cousin, they had one conversation together and he had already made her feel vulnerable. She had meant to come over and perhaps monopolise Ser Arthur, you can truly get to know someone by learning from those closest to them, or to perhaps flirt with the Prince a bit, like her once Tyrell friend had, all those years ago.

“You dance very well Princess,” Ser Arthur said. Yes, this was perfect, she could have kissed the man for the diversion.

“Thank you, Ser. Our mother gave us lessons as children, although thankfully, my brother steps on my toes a lot less now,” the three men in her audience chuckled in the right place, “although Robb does all the hard work, I assure you. He is the one that makes me look good.”

“I doubt that Princess,” The Prince of Dragonstone responded quietly, “you look well enough on your own,” he stared intently at her, but she could see the mirth buried deep in his crisp, wintery eyes. She didn’t have to fake a blush as she felt her cheeks heat under his stormy stare.

“Do you dance, my Prince?” Sansa asked, biting her bottom lip as she waited for his response.

“Not really Princess,” he said, she nearly missed the way his eyes flitted to her lips and back.

“A pity,” she said quietly, not taking her eyes from his.

“You must be a fool cousin, many a man in this room has offered me riches and armies for a dance with my sister, lucky for us all that I refuse them,” Robb jested.

The Prince did not respond but furrowed his brows at the news, seeming frustrated. Interesting, perhaps he was as opposed to the idea of her being sold off as her King was, even if it was to him. Or maybe she had read him wrong, maybe she wasn’t the type of lady he liked.

“Perhaps you would allow an old man like me the honour, Princess? It has been many years since I have danced with a Stark Lady,” he said fondly, “especially one in a crown of winter roses.”

She smiled warmly at the Knight; she had come to like him in the space of a conversation. He was genuine and lively, and she could see no deception in his eyes.

“It would be my pleasure Ser,” she said, taking his hand. On the morrow, she knew the discussions for her hand in marriage would begin, their places would be set and the game would begin, but for now, for just a little longer, she would allow herself a happy dance with a Knight from the songs.

“Do you mind, your Grace?” Sansa asked.

“I would never begrudge you, sweet sister, besides, I have yet to torment our cousin for a good few hours, and I promised Arya she could at least attempt to wield her knife on him before the night is out,” he said, clasping Jon on the shoulder, who still had not removed his eyes as they continually traced her face.

“Very well, but practice swords only Robb,” she scolded quietly. Ser Arthur chuckled and began to turn them towards the centre of the room. She made her skirts sweep out dramatically before turning back to the man vying for her affections, “oh and cousin, if it is skill you lack, I would be more than happy to give you a lesson in a dance or two,” she said coyly, smiling as his eyes widened, before turning and following Ser Arthur towards the dancers, amidst his and the Kings bellowing laughter.

Chapter Text

Daenerys was in a temper. She had been in such a state since yesterday, since that ghastly feast, if you could call it such a thing, since the wolf had howled in her face. Had they expected her to cower in fear? She was a dragon, she would do no such thing.

She had been in this mood since the Stark girl had glided into the hall, all pale beauty, softness, ice and roses. Comely. That was how Tyrion had described her. Olenna Tyrell had whispered in her ear back in the capital that she was meek. Why? More deception. More manipulation.

Jon hadn’t paid her any mind since he had laid his eyes on the Northern Princess. Men were so simple, having their heads turned by the thought of an innocent woman to fuck. She was only mildly disappointed in him, but he was still a man, so she should not have been surprised. Dany could not explain why she was so annoyed about how beautiful Sansa Stark appeared, it made no matter how lovely she was, as long and she gave her the heirs she wanted. She was a charming thing, but she still preened and simpered like most of the ladies in her court, yes, my Prince - of course, my King - thank you, Your Grace. It was nauseating. But she needed someone she could mould, she was perfect, that much Dany could see.

She could strangle Tyrion, and even Ser Jorah for that matter, the Northern fool. Bread and Salt. How could she have been so stupid? But a dragon did not show signs of weakness at the first hurdle, she would stand strong now.

She ached for Drogon. She had not seen him in a day, not a long time but he was her child and she longed to see him, strong and beautiful and ferocious, rivalled by no one else in history. Even Rhaegal, sweet thing, she loved him still, but their bond was not as strong as it was with Drogon, it hadn’t been since Rhaegal had chosen Jon to be his dragon rider.

“The Small Council is here to see you now, my Queen,” her loyal Missandei spoke softly from the doorway to her chambers. Dany nodded, prompting her to usher them in.

Lord Tyrion, led the charge as always, a usual cheerful grin irritatingly plastered on his face, followed by Lord Varys, Ser Jorah, Ser Arthur and her dear nephew, Jon.

“Good morning your Grace, you look particularly enchanting this morning…”

“Save your words Lord Hand,” Dany stopped him with a hard look, “we have little time, and there is much to discuss before we meet with the King to begin negotiations, be seated,” she said, gesturing to the chairs around her.

She smiled at her nephew as he came around the table to her, kissing her lightly on the cheek and taking the seat next to her. Dany reached for his hand on the table and gave it a quick squeeze to show her gratitude, he could always tell when she was at odds with something, her gentle brothers son.

“Last night was a resounding success, my Queen,” her Hand began.

“Is that so?” She queried, arching a harsh silver brow.

“Well there was no bloodshed your Grace,” Lord Varys, “that is an improvement on most Stark and Targaryen gatherings.”

Dany didn’t miss Jon’s eyeroll and heavy sigh beside her.

“Hmm, the bread and salt my Lords, I was disappointed that we had not discussed this beforehand.”

“The fault lies with me, my Queen,” Ser Jorah began, a wretched look about his aged face, “I should have spoken about it. The Starks are the oldest House in all of Westeros, older than mine, thousands of years old, they take their customs seriously and I apologies, my Queen,” he dipped his head in reverence.

“Yes, well… We must ensure they have nothing to use against us, Ser Jorah, I trust no one else on this matter,” she shot an angry glance to Tyrion, who at least appeared apologetic, “I would name you my Northern advisor, Ser Jorah, I expect a full briefing on the Starks, their histories and anything of relevance,” she finished.

“Of course, my Queen, I thank you.”

With the matter closed, Lord Varys stood from his position opposite, clasping his hands in his robes, “If I may, my Queen,” he began, she nodded in consent, “I believe it is important we do not underestimate the Starks, the presentation of the Princess to the court was… unexpected.”

Tyrion nodded in agreement, finally, she watched his mind working quickly.

“I agree, your Grace, the howling direwolves, her dress, the winter roses… I’m sure Ser Jorah will attest that the Northerners are not dramatic people, just look at his poor, miserable face,” he japed, “they do not do anything without reason, I am just as surprised by it as Lord Varys, someone is giving them such ideas, I am curious to see who it is.”

“I wasn’t aware there was another wolf, the white one,” Jon said suddenly, his voice somewhat distant.

“No, but you are now Jon, and tell us friend, what did you think of the Princess?” Ser Arthur asked, his voice thick with irony.

“Yes, yes,” Dany interrupted, “she is rather comely, is she not Lord Tyrion?” She asked suggestively.

Her Lord Hand had the decency to sigh, “she is much… changed, from the young girl I once knew.”

She observed Jon clench his hand into a fist, where is rested on his knee. She wondered if his eyes had flashed violet, as they did when he was truly rattled. How had he let this slip of a girl have an effect on him so soon?

He could be hot headed her nephew, acting first, thinking later, the perfect dragon, just like her.

“You will not attend today’s meeting nephew, it is not appropriate.”

He whipped his head towards her, oh yes, a flash of violet. He is not pleased. She arched an eyebrow at him in a silent challenge…

“Of course, aunt, as you say,” he said softly.

A small victory. It would be unseemly anyway, to have him there, discussing his own union. Dany would not let him risk this arrangement, by not thinking with his head. All Targaryen men where prone to passion, she was sure he was no different. This was duty, she expected him to make a match for the soul benefit of their house and her reign, the matter of him liking the girl was an entirely different question.

She raised her fingers to her chin, resting on them as she contemplated the night before.

“They have played their hand my Lords, we have seen their pretty Princess, their beasts have howled, I will not have us lose sight of our goal, my nephew does not seem opposed to such a woman, “she smirked to her side where Jon huffed once more, “but we hold the position of power here, I have the tools to defeat this army of dead things they speak of, all I want in return is a wife for my nephew, I think it will be rather simple, and we will be back in Kings Landing before a moons turn…”

----------

They have gathered in a chamber arranged by the King, around a large oak table, a woodland scene was carved beautifully onto the wood. There were pretty things abundant in the Riverlands. It still stung to have lost it, but four kingdoms were better than none, and she never would have defeated the usurpers without Robb Stark, she was not naive enough to know that.

Theon Greyjoy had escorted them in and led them to their seats, he stood back by the wall, behind two empty chairs and appraised them with his sea foam eyes.

Cups of ale and bread and honey had been set out for them. She disliked the harsh taste of the ale, but appreciated the gesture none the less.

The King entered, tall, broad and as imposing as always. He was quite lovely to look upon, with his riotous auburn curls and his strong Stark jaw, it was a pity he had pledged himself to his dreary little Frey wife, she imagined she could spend an evening or two enjoying his company.

All stood as the King approached the table, except for her of course. They were equals and she would not have it be seen different.

“Good morning, your Grace, my lords,” he nodded politely, moving over to his seat, the largest at the table, the arms intricately carved with dancing fish, “I hope there are not too many sore heads this morning.”

“Only me, I imagine my King,” Theon Greyjoy smirked.

“Well why change the habit of a lifetime brother,” the King bantered back. It was frustrating, who had time for these little games?

“Is your Hand not joining us?” She asked in an irritated tone, gesturing to the empty chair next to her.

The King barked a small laugh, “No, your Grace, the Kings of Winter do not have Hands.”

She raised her eyebrows in surprise, “then who advises you?” Dany asked in genuine interest.

“Anyone, everyone. The Northerners are loyal people, any one of my bannerman would obey any command I gave them if need be…” he paused, “Theon, open your veins for me,” he joked.

The Greyjoy boy quickly removed a knife and made to take it to his arm before the King quickly raised a hand to stop him, chucking softly.

“And my family of course, they are my greatest advisors… ah, speaking of…” he trailed off as Sansa Stark walked gracefully into the room.

She appeared to have just been laughing, cheeks flushed, in her dark grey dress, lined with fur around the neck and at the end of the fitted sleeves.

“My King, honoured guests, I apologise for the delay, the wolves each brought home a Stag from their nightly adventures and my attention was briefly needed in the kitchens. Good morning brother,” she kissed the Kings cheek before turning and smiling sweetly at the room. Theon Greyjoy stepped forward, bowing deeply to her and took her hand.

“You are as beautiful as a fresh frost, or a new winter snow, Princess, you blind us with your radiance,” the Greyjoy boy crooned at her before she swatted him away, he pressed a kiss to the back of Sansa Starks hand and led her to the vacant chair directly next to the King, who rolled his eyes at his friends antics.

Dany saw red.

“We were not expecting you, Princess Sansa,” she said, trying to keep her voice as level as possible, she could sense Tyrion bristle beside her and knew she had failed.

The King and his sister both looked somewhat shocked, or was it amused?

“Forgive me your Grace, I may not sit on a council and am the first to admit I could be naïve in the matters of the world, but as I understand it, we are here to discuss my potential marriage union, where else would you expect me to be?” She said, fixing her cold, blue eyes with hers.

“Such conversations will not take place without my sister present, if she wants to be, that is absolutely non-negotiable,” the King finished.

“Of course,” Tyrion interjected, “we are honoured to have your company Princess, and may I say, you are as lovely as ever.”

The Stark girl tipped her head. Gods how did these women ever get anything done when they spent their time so lost in the appeasement of men.

“Thank you, Lord Hand, Lord Varys,” she addressed them both, “I am glad we can meet in nicer circumstances this time.”

“Shall we begin?” Dany cut in, “time is of the essence, I believe…”

Sansa Stark turned back, first to Theon Greyjoy, and then to the King, smiling at them both before facing the table again.

“Yes, let’s proceed, shall we?”

Chapter Text

Robb Stark had learnt many things about his sister since she returned to his arms, all softness, fiery hair and a haunting beauty about her. One, is that she no longer sings, and he misses it, his soul misses it every day. Two, is that she is far too beautiful than any elder brother or King would want their sister to be. Three, is that she is much too clever for her own good, and he knows unequivocally that he will never be able to keep up with her, and he is quite happy with that. Four, is that despite the iciness that has crept its way into her veins, underneath the façade and the lessons that have been inflicted on her, his little sister, his sweet, charming, romantic little Sansa is still in there somewhere, it slips through the cracks sometimes, and he catches glimpses of it, and he longs for it. Lastly, and by no means least, in these chambers, deep within the castle, surrounded by the small council of the South, she thrives.

She was born for this, despite them never knowing it. Their Lady Mother had once said she was born to be a Queen, or to run a great keep for her Lord Husband one day, and give him a line of sons, but he thinks Catelyn Stark may have been wrong. His sister may have been a lady at three, but she was born to lead, to inspire, to have one of the sharpest minds in the known world. Robb was more than happy to sit back and watch her work.

“Would you like to begin, sister?”

The Dragon Queen did not like that. Sansa was teaching him to be more astute to the reactions of others during conversation, she had guessed it was just like a battle, he could read a man before he would strike with his sword, or parry a hit, and this was no different. She was a good teacher. He had rattled the Queen, by giving Sansa the floor, why? Because she ranked lower than the Queen? Perhaps the Queen just didn’t like her?

Sansa nodded sweetly at him, that one was genuine, that he could tell.

“Your Grace, my Lords, as I understand it, the King requested that you prepare a list of your… requests…”

Clever, to set the tone, t let them know they were just wishes, that demands would not be acceptable here.

“…regarding a potential betrothal between the Prince of Dragonstone and myself prior to this meeting.”

“I have them ready, Princess,” Lord Tyrion slide a roll of parchment into the table in front on him.

“Thank you, I have done the same,” Sansa replied, “Theon, perhaps you would oblige me,” Sansa asked, handing him her own parchment.

Theon took it without a word, making his way around the table and swapping it with Lord Tyrion’s parchment.

“Please, take a few moments to review it,” Sansa said quietly as she began to run her eyes over Tyrion’s neat writing. She looked at it for a few moments, he could tell she read it once, twice, thrice, before wordlessly passing it to him.

Robb looked over the parchment quickly, taking in the Queen and Lord Tyrion as they bent closely together to look at Sansa’s requests, he watched the Queen scoff before glancing down at the parchment in his hand.

Good gods.

“You are mad,” he seethed, “never.”

Sansa flicked her hand out, resting it on his forearm, “peace, brother,” she said softly.

The Queen sat back in her chair, clasping her palms together, and arching a haughty brow at him in challenge.

“Perhaps, we should go through each list in turn and discuss the relevant requests and start from there,” Sansa said, her voice level, betraying no emotion. He would never know how she did it, he could cut them all down where they sat for proposing such ridiculous and outright offensive notions.

“That sounds wise, Princess,” Tyrion said quietly, a deep frown marring his scared face. Even the Lannister man must see this was a folly, that they asked too much.

“Would you begin, Lord Tyrion, by reading the North’s thoughts…” Sansa asked, gesturing to the parchment on the opposite end of the table to them.

Tyrion sat straighter in his chair, unfurling the scroll and clearing his throat.

“In order to consent to the union between the Princess of Winter, Sansa of House Stark, and the Prince of Dragonstone, the King in the North, including the kingdoms of the Vale and Riverlands, makes a request for the following…” Lord Tyrion began.

“Point One – the North requests the aid of the South in the War against the Dead in the form of the following; The complete access to mine dragon glass on Dragonstone…”

“How do you even know there is dragon glass to be had there?” Dany interrupted.

“A Maester in Training, from Castle Black,” Robb said, waving his hand dismissively, still unable to mask his frustration.

“Point Two – The support of the Queen’s three dragons, and where appropriate, their dragon riders…”

Daenerys scoffed again, shaking her head, “is that really necessary, all three? It is an incredible risk.”

“You will either need to use them sooner, in the North, or once the Night King is through with us, he will come to your dear capital and you be found wanting. Make no mistake your Grace, this is not some Northern fancy, some tale we tell to scare our children, I have seen it, this threat, with my very own eyes, I am many things, but I am not a liar…” He said, lowering his head to catch her gaze, his face unmoving.

“If I may, my Queen,” Ser Jorah interjected, “if the King feels this threat is real enough, we should heed him.”

Robb surveyed the man, the man with a name nearly as old as the Stark’s, a man who had sold people and risked losing his head by returning to his very lands.

“They call you the Andal, is that correct Ser?”

“Some do, your Grace,” the man said solemnly.

“Then the moment you step pass the Neck, you will feel it, the threat of them, in your very bones, just as I do,” he replied, keeping his voice level and serious. The old Knight appraised him, searching his face for a few moments, before nodding once at him.

Sansa reached for his hand, clasping it gently. She knew how it plagued him, how his crown weighed heavy on his brow at the thought of protecting his people from the monsters North of the Wall.

“I think we should continue,” the Hand of the Queen began, “the war against the Dead will be led under the complete command of the King in the North,” The Lannister’s voice trailed off weakly at the end, Sansa sensed it, sitting straighter in her chair, just as he had.

“You mean to command my dragons…” Daenerys hissed, “you deem yourself worthy?”

“Your Grace, the King deems himself worthy of nothing, not his crown, not this very castle, not even our home, but it is his, he has been chosen, by his people, to take the responsibility of rulership. If I may, only someone who wants anything but the duty that has been given to them is worthy of such a thing,” his sister said passionately. She rarely expressed such emotion. He turned to her and smiled softly at her, as her eyes sparkled beautifully after such a speech. Robb leaned over and swiped her nose affectionately.

The Queen glared furiously at them, perhaps they had overstepped, but it was unlike Sansa, she would have a reason, everything she did held some form of justification.

“I am the Queen,” Daenerys railed through gritted teeth, as if every word caused her pain.

Sansa laughed then, a light tinkling sound, all eyes in the room were drawn to the sound.

“Forgive me, I just had a memory,” she glanced at Robb in way of explanation, “you see, your Grace, I once knew a boy who loved to tell people he was the King… Tell me Lord Tyrion, what was it your Lord Father would say about a man who must state he is a King…” Sansa asked innocently.

Tyrion visibly grimaced as the Queen shot her head to her Hand accusingly.

Robb sighed, rubbing his fingers across the bridge of his nose, “you must understand, I do mean to seek command to undermine you, your Grace. You do not know the land, the North is like no place you would have experienced in either Westeros or across the Narrow Sea. The land is hostile, as can its people be. My armies, from the North, the Vale and the Riverlands double yours in numbers, we just need the resources you have available to arm them, they would not follow you, and I don’t mean that as a slight, it is simple fact. I would aim to set up a War Council, I would expect you to sit on it, alongside the commanders of your Unsullied and Dothraki, you would have representation and I would listen to your views,” he stressed, “it is the way things are done here…”

Sansa smiled at him, he became aware of Theon approaching the table, standing directly behind him, a united front, his sister, and his brother in all but name at his side.

The Queen across the table from him nodded once, that would be her only response it seemed. A small victory, perhaps.

“Very honourable, King in the North, your father once showed such honour, to his detriment,” Lord Varys said, his voice laced with sympathy despite his words.

“You forget yourself my Lord,” Theon said suddenly, “the honour of the Stark’s is the reason their family has reigned on this continent for thousands of years, it is the reason they are loved, across their lands, it is the reason I would open my veins for them, should they ask it of me… how many other Houses can say the same…” he seethed with anger, he could sense it radiating off Theon from behind him, he turned to him and threw him a cautionary glance, Sansa nodded her head minutely at him at the gesture in thanks.

“Finally, we come to Point Four,” Lord Tyrion continued, “the Princess requests that following any marriage to the Prince of Dragonstone, six moons of each year thereafter, are spent living in the North, at a location of her choosing.”

“Absolutely not,” Dany leant closely towards the table, smacking her hand sharply on her thigh, her silvery braids dancing around her. Her eyes seemed to glow, he had seen many things, but he had never seen a woman so angry, and he was raised around the skirts of a Tully.

“We should renegotiate the matter of residence perhaps,” Lord Varys added.

“Perhaps we could explain,” Robb raised his hand in a peaceful gesture, “As it currently stands, my sister is the heir to three kingdoms.” He watched as the Queens eyes danced around the room as she processed his proclamation. “My wife is with child, that is known, but currently, until the time a son is born to me, and reaches the age of six and ten, my sister is the heir to the North, the Riverlands and the Vale, it was decreed just last night, in the hour of the wolf, I spilt my blood before a heart tree and said the words to my gods, it is done.”

This had been his own doing, he had brought the idea to Sansa, as they sat before the hearth in his solar not three nights past. They could not demand his heir leave the North completely. When he had finished telling her his idea, she had launched herself from her chair and into his embrace, all arms and legs and copper hair, thanking him for his brilliance, as she had put it.

In truth he could not bare the thought of losing, for six moons or six nights, but if she insisted on going ahead with this, it was the best compromise he could think of.

“My, my, Sansa Stark, much has changed since your time as a prisoner of Joffrey Baratheon,” Tyrion whispered.

“Indeed, it has, my Lord,” she smiled sweetly.

“Jon is my heir too!” The Queen said sharply.

“You are young yet, your Grace, I am sure you are anxious to marry and have heirs of your own, just as my brother has. It is my greatest wish that my good-sister gives my brother a litter of healthy Stark pups, I am sure you have the same wishes…” Sansa said, as if she were addressing one of her companions at her sewing circle. Clever girl.

“Of course,” the Queen smiled, but it was stilted, like it hurt her to do so. He watched as Sansa cocked her head in his peripheral vision. She had noticed too it seemed, something to be discussed later, when they were alone.

“You should know, your Grace, I once swore I would never set foot in the South again, but I know deep down, that any marriage between myself and the Prince would result in me having to spend time in either King Landing or at Dragonstone. This would be a great sacrifice to myself, but I would be willing to compromise for the sake of a true union.”

“But he is still my heir, as it stands,” she reiterated.

“That is why… I believe it to be the perfect solution your Grace, the Prince is currently the heir to the Iron Throne, and I am the heir to the North and all it’s kingdoms, this way, neither the North nor the South would lose us, it would simply gain a Prince or a Princess,” Sansa said sagely, taking a small sip of her ale. He nearly laughed as he watched her try to swallow it without a grimace. She nearly succeeded.

The Dragon Queen glanced at her Hand, then Lord Varys, neither of them offering an opinion.

“I neither consent nor dismiss this request, it needs more thought, and private council.” Daenerys argued, looking to her advisors.

“That is the last point, my Queen,” Lord Tyrion concluded.

“So, on reflection, all requests are agreeable, not including the decision of residence, which will be discussed at a later date after some thought,” Sansa surmised.

The Queen nodded once in agreement, thrumming her fingers on the surface of the table.

Sansa seemed pleased. It hadn’t been as hard as he had thought, but then he had read the parchment that had been written in Tyrion Lannister’s hand, at the request of his Queen, he had let her demands sink into his bones and cause a shiver to run up his spine. They disgusted him. This was surely were Sansa’s work would begin.

“Theon, if you would…” Sansa began, raising the parchment just above her shoulder, “could you read the requests from the Southern delegation?”

“Anything for you, my Princess,” Theon replied, taking the missive from her hands. Dear gods, was she sure? He couldn’t comprehend how his sister appeared so calm. His wolfs-blood still sang in rage from reading it himself, and Theon was always the quicker to violence out of all of them, he couldn’t guarantee to control his brother in the same way he had schooled himself.

“Point One,” Theon began, “Queen Daenerys expects a true marriage, between the Prince of Dragonstone and Sansa Stark, in exchange for her just and loyal support in the War Against the Dead.”

Sansa nodded once, ignoring the slight at the lack of her proper title, “please continue, my sweet friend.”

Theon read the parchment, his eyes skimming the parchment several times, he threw a glance quickly at Robb and could see the anger there.

“Point Two – The Queen demands an inspection of the Princesses maidenhead… are you fucking insane?” he slammed his hand on the table.

Robb felt himself tense in anger. Hearing it read aloud made him see red with rage. He closed his eyes and lowered his head, trying to think of peace, of Roslin in their bed, of his sisters, happy and safe. He heard Greywind howl in the distance, he could smell the earth around him, sensing his loyal wolf was in the forest close by, but Greywind could feel his distress.

He had not noticed the eyes of the small council from the South darting cautiously to the window as Greywind continued to lament his song of pain.

“Robb,” Sansa, pulled him from his thoughts, “it’s ok,” she said gently. He looked at her eyes and saw nothing but kindness there as Greywind’s howling stopped.

Sansa turned back to the table.

“No.” Sansa said simply.

Tyrion looked pained, that much was clear to him. Ser Jorah had the decency to stare into his lap and Lord Varys looked to the Hand for support.

“Excuse me?” The Queen replied, raising her eyebrow at her. Did she not get tired, the constant up and down of her frown?

“I said no,” Sansa replied, waving a hand across her, “Lord Hand, why was our marriage annulled?” Sansa asked, directing her eyes towards her once husband.

“At the request of your brother, Princess… on the grounds of non-consummation.” Tyrion had no choice but to reply, the ink had only been dry on the degree for less than twelve moons.

“Just so, do you think me a whore?” She looked directly at the Queen, “do you think me a woman who would take any man of my choosing into my bed?”

The Queen exhaled deeply, with utter rage etched on her beautiful face. Sansa had slighted her, that was clear to him, perhaps the Queen took companions into her bed, if she did, he cared little, she could do as she pleased.

“If you think I will lay on this very table for this inspection, you are quite mistaken, your Grace, the two most important things to my personal safety are my family, and my maidenhead, I am no longer so frivolous with my personal safety” Sansa said the words so sweetly, as if she were a maiden in a song, but her demeanour rattled with silent anger, “should we be married, you may ask my husband on the morn after our wedding how he found me.”

Theon stepped forward and placed a hand on her shoulder, as Sansa reached up and clasped it tightly, he watched as her already pale skin blanched at the force of her grip.

The two women, a Princess and a Queen, stared one another down for several moments, as the men around them looked on, too fearful to interject.

“It is non-negotiable, your Grace, I advise you accept it,” Robb prompted.

“Fine, I will have to take her word for it, but I will have no scandal regarding the birth of my nephews children Princess, of that you can be sure, I will expect his report, should you be married.”

Sansa nearly grimaced, he could see her lips draw in, just like her mother’s would when the wolf pups would drag mud and filth into the great hall, or when she would fight with Arya to wear a dress when they had guests. She nearly did, but Sansa schooled her features just enough. She tipped her head to the side in acknowledgement, but nothing more.

This woman, may the gods curse her. If they didn’t need her dragon fire and her weapons he would happily leave her in the South where she belonged, Jon’s aunt or not, he despised her, but he supposed much would be different if one hundred thousand dead men did not descend on his people.

“Theon, prey continue,” Sansa asked coolly.

“The final point, my King, my Princess, the Queen commands that the union be fruitful, and should children be born to the Princess, they be raised in Kings Landing, under her guardianship.”

No one spoke. Sansa took a slow sip of the ale she hated, looking over her cup at the people before her.

“Why?” She asked simply.

The Dragon Queen appraised them, speaking after a long deliberation, “because they will be family… they will be Targaryen’s…”

Robb scoffed, “we have yet to discuss the matter of family names.” He couldn’t resist riling her up further.

Daenerys grinned at him, an unnerving sight on her pretty features.

“I expect my family to remain close. I will need them, the children. They will be part of a dynasty that will last a millennium. They will need my tutelage and love, in the capital.”

“Forgive me, your Grace… for what I say, I do not mean to cause you pain,” his sister started, he chanced a look at her and could see genuine concern on her face. This was the real Sansa, the one who cried the first time Lady had a thorn stuck in her paw, “as I understand it, you did not get a chance to know your mother, and for that I am sorry. I have been blessed enough, although for shorter than I would have liked, to know a mother’s love. I am the person I am today because of my mother, make no mistake. I was born to be a queen, or a great lady, and birth children, just as my mother did before me. I am a Tully and a Stark, I would not fail in my duty, but I would never birth a child I could not love and raise myself. Any child born to me would be loved and raised by me, and my Lord husband. I trust you will feel the same about any children you will have…” Sansa finished.

Sansa sighed deeply as she finished, “surely you must see, you ask too much of me…”

The Queen studied the room for a few moments, drinking her ale, glancing to her Lords.

“Princess, I cannot move on this. I cannot explain why, but it just would mean a lot to me,” she said quietly.

“You cannot explain it? I’m sorry your Grace, but that just isn’t good enough,” he bristled, “you are asking my sister to marry your heir, give him children and then leave them for you to raise. This is a folly. It is unreasonable. No woman could ask this of another,” he finished.

They stared one another down, a Stark King and Targaryen Queen. In his heart, he knew he needed her, her dragons, her resources, but he couldn’t cause his sister such pain to obtain them. Sansa was too good, for all of them, deep down, his little sister, with her pure heart and her idealism, lay buried deep. He could no sooner tear her own children from her arms that kill her himself.

He knew in that moment, as a Queen looked upon him with distain, that he would do anything to see his sister happy. They would find a way, together, the Starks of Winterfell, to give her everything she wanted, and everything she deserved.

“Perhaps we should all take some time. There is clearly much to think on,” he said, his tone deep and commanding.

“Yes, please enjoy all the Riverlands have to offer in the meantime,” Sansa said, rising from the table in tandem with him, “…Oh your Grace, I feel it would be prudent for the Prince to attend next time, it is his life, after all.”

Chapter Text

Jon had spent much of the morning in a foul mood, frustrated at Dany for excluding him from the discussions in Robb’s council chambers, and angry at his apparent lack of understanding as to why his aunt felt he wasn’t needed. He had taken to the training yard, where Arthur had scolded him for being distracted and sullen, he wasn’t too ashamed to say he gave his friend a good clout with the flat of his sword before stalking off to get some space.

Jon took to walking when he wanted some escapism, he did it often in Kings Landing, when the Red Keep became too much, and he felt too trapped. Under the ruse of being with Rhaegal, he would slink off to the Kingswood on the back of the beast and wander in the woods till he felt a sense of freeness thrumming in his veins once more.

He had spent the rest of the morning with Rhaegal and Drogon, just sitting close to them. He would not risk taking flight, he didn’t know the land and would not want to disappoint Robb in anyway by risking it. The sun told him it was late afternoon by the time he thought he better return to the castle. Although Dany entertained his flighty nature in Kings Landing, he knew it wouldn’t be long before she sent a guard out looking for him, making him feel like a child evading their lessons.

Without a mount or guide, he soon found it difficult to follow the path he had taken earlier in the day. He followed the large swathes of smoke above the tree lines which signalled the location of Riverrun. He knew he wasn’t far but would likely never hear the end of it from Robb or Arya if he got lost.

It would be an easy place to lose oneself in; the Riverlands, because it was so beautiful. Unless you knew it for certain, you would have little clue that winter was coming, sooner rather than later. In the Riverlands the vegetation and forests were still lush and green with the Trident feeding the landscape.

Jon turned sharply on the path, his instincts reacting involuntarily at the sound of a twig snapping behind him. He was automatically drawn to the bright, red eyes of the white direwolf, that stood silently and resolutely in front of him, staring him down.

For some reason, unknown to him, Jon felt himself automatically relax from his tense, battle ready stance.

“What are you doing out here, boy?” He asked the wolf.

The direwolf appraised him, tipping his head to the side, panting gently, before slowly approaching him after a few moments. Jon froze. This was different than being near the dragons, he had been around them since they had been born in the flames and Dany had carried them out, but these wolves, no less magical and mysterious, did not know him, and he did not know them.

The wolf padded over to him slowly, his huge head at the same height as his own. He felt as if his heart would explode from his chest at the closeness between them. Jon maintained eye contact but couldn’t help his face breaking into a smile.

“You like to get away too, don’t you?” He said softly. The wolf made no gesture of response, before gently bumping his snout against Jon’s shoulder, causing Jon to stumble back a few paces. The wolf turned suddenly and started a gentle trot, deeper into the trees.

“Where are you going?” He shouted, before cursing and following him quickly. The wolf turned back and tilted his head and he took in Jon’s pursuit, seemingly pleased, the wolf turned back and continued his journey.

The wolf led them into a clearing. It was surely one of the most wonderous places he had ever been. Vast and varied types of wildflowers bloomed around the edges of the trees, the floor was grassy and thick. A tree like one he had never seen before stood proudly in it’s centre, its bark white and its leaves blood red. A Weirwood tree. It was larger than any other he had seen that day, nothing like the poor imitation of one that was in the Red Keep. The tree had a faced carved into it, a sad thing, it made his chest ache, it was heart breaking and wonderful in equal measure.

The clearing was magnificent, but nothing compared to the beautiful woman that knelt in front of the tree.

She had turned at the sound of their arrival, in her grey dress, her cheeks flushed from the fresh air, and her hair whipping around her, like a waterfall of fire.

“There you are, Ghost,” she said, with a smile that could knock him from his feet, “and you’ve brought a friend with you, I see…” she continued, raising a lovely eyebrow at him delicately.

He cleared his throat, “Princess,” he could have cursed himself for his voice coming out so weakly.

“My Prince, welcome to the Godswood,” she said, gesturing around her, still on her knees.

“I’ve never seen one before, not properly, not like this,” he said looking around him, “there is one in Kings Landing but…”

“Goodness, is it still there?” She turned back to the tree, “I wasn’t sure if Joffrey would have had it destroyed. It was once the only place I could be alone during my time there,” she said woodenly, her mind far away.

“I go there sometimes,” he shrugged, “but this place is…”

“…beautiful,” she volunteered, turning back to him, her blue eyes sparkling once more. He would happily spend the rest of his days just staring at her eyes.

“Yes, quite beautiful,” he said softly as his eyes stole across her face. He cleared his throat again, taking a few steps further into the clearing, “you shouldn’t be out here alone, Princess,” he offered.

She laughed brightly at him, “I’m not alone, am I Ghost?” He watched transfixed as the wolf paced over to her, turning around her as she remained kneeling on the floor before walking back off towards the treeline, “he is always close by,” she said.

She rose from her knees, smoothing out her skirts and turning to face him, “besides, this is the New North, my Prince, I am perfectly safe. In fact…” her eyes twinkled with mischief, he felt completely at her mercy, “I could walk naked as a babe, all the way back to the castle and no one would lay a hand on me, that is the kind of land my brother rules,” she laughed at the startled expression on his face, “but lucky for me, I have no desire to test that theory today.”

“A tragedy,” he countered, he couldn’t let he have all the fun. She looked a bit surprised at that if the pretty blush spreading over her cheeks was anything to go by.

“There are not many true Godswoods left south of the Neck. This one is lovely, but it does not compare to the one at Winterfell…”

His chest ached as she mentioned his mother’s childhood home. He hadn’t realised he had leant forward, moving a step closer, “what is it like?”

She smiled at hime again, “It’s about five times the size of this. The Heart Tree is the largest south of The Wall, it’s face weeps, but it isn’t sad to me, it feels like home,” she sighed, “it feels like my father…” She looked wistfully back towards the Weirwood and he followed her gaze.

“Is it blood? Coming from the face?” He asked curiously.

“Yes and no,” she shrugged daintily. “Northerners used to make sacrifices to the Gods in front of the Weirwood’s. It’s less… bloody now, but not always, some of what you see is mine and Robb’s.”

“What!”

“Peace, my Prince, just a scratch,” she held up a finger and he could see a small cut there, clean and thin, “we swore a promise to the Gods last night, Robb names me his heir and we swore it in our blood, it is the old way.”

He released a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. The thought of her hurt in anyway made his blood heat and his eyes flash. But she looked happy, he considered that for a moment. Not years passed she had been a prisoner, she had watched as her father lost his head, and now she was safe, with her family, and heir to her family’s kingdom. It was quite the thing for a woman of seven and ten.

She was brave. She was passionate. She was lovely.

“Shall we walk back together?” She asked.

“Nothing would please me more, Princess,” he said, offering her his arm. She closed the gap between them, tucking her hand into his elbow gingerly. He led her slowly towards the entrance to the Godswood, finding Ghost to be already waiting for them, leading the way.

“He likes you, at least,” she said, gesturing ahead to the wolf, “when one of the Karstarks tried to take my hand at the end of the feast the other night sweet Ghost nearly had his arm off.” She said it so casually that he couldn’t help but laugh at her.

“Well that’s reassuring. I’ve seen Greywind on a battlefield after all.”

She hummed in agreement, he could see she was trying to supress a smile yet failing.

“They interest you, don’t they? The direwolves… I can tell,” she said knowingly, appraising him with her watery eyes.

He nodded in agreement, lost in her stare.

“Ghost and I, well… we are different, to Robb and Greywind,” she frowned.

He brought them to a pause and turned to face her, “how so?”

She sighed deeply, “it is a long tale. Robb and Greywind, they were born for one another, that’s how we see it. Arya and Nymeria were born for one another too, they are still two halves, but both of them are too wild to chain themselves to anything. A wolf is not a slave. But Ghost, well, he was our little mystery, he seemed to have no one for a time. Theon tried to claim him, but he has no wolfsblood, the fool is lucky to still have his limbs, he is family but he isn’t like the rest of us, there is no wolf in his…” she smiled at him, running her eyes up and down him slowly, he couldn’t help but stand a little straighter under her gaze, “I was born for a direwolf once, and she was born for me. I named her Lady,” she grimaced and looked sadly over his shoulder, off into the distance.

He could explain why it hurt him to, to see her in such obvious pain.

“I told a lie to a cruel queen once, and for my sins she was taken from me…” she whispered.

He was captivated by her, in her grief she was haunting and beautiful, and she reminded him of one of his dreams again, a dream he knew he had seen but could not place. He wanted to draw her into his arms, to hold her and tell her all would be well again, but he didn’t, he couldn’t, so he did the only thing he could think of, and reached up to tuck a copper tendril of hair that whipped loosely around her face behind her pale ear.

He heard her breath hitch in her throat at his touch. He could have cursed himself for his familiarity, but he hadn’t been able to stop himself. He looked down quickly and took another step back. She cleared her throat delicately, avoiding his gaze as she continued.

“When Ser Jaime and Lady Brienne saved me, and brought me back to Robb, Ghost just… claimed me, I suppose. It was like he knew we both had no one. He had always loved Lady, she was the softest and sweetest of them all, and he was always the quietest. Now I think we both just keep one another steady. I feel free with him, I know he loves me, for me, not for anything he can take from me,” she said softly, “I’m sorry, I’m rambling, it probably makes no sense at all…”

“No,” he said suddenly, “it makes complete sense. Maybe you make him feel like he belongs. Maybe he didn’t feel like he had a place before…”

She looked up at him again then, underneath her eyelashes, frowning at him as she ran her eyes over his face, searching for something, but for what he wasn’t sure.

He wanted to remember her like this, with a blush on her cheeks and her hair blowing softly. Gods he wanted to kiss her. She had bewitched him completely, in a few single days. She had shared something so private with him, so treasured, yet he felt like he wanted to strip back everything about her and learn it all anew.

She shook her head softly and turned back to the path.

“I was surprised, that you were not present this morning,” she began as they took up their walk again.

“You were there?” Jon asked, failing to mask his surprise.

The Princess let out one of her delicate and tinkling laughs that he had come to enjoy so quickly, “of course. My first betrothal was commanded by King Robert, my father could hardly refuse. My unfortunate marriage to Lord Tyrion was enforced whilst I was a prisoner of war, held hostage for my claim to a kingdom. Should I marry again, I demand much more involvement,” she said it fiercely but with a smile to her pretty, plush little lips.

“I didn’t know if we would talk about it…” he said awkwardly.

“Talk about what, our potential betrothal? Seems silly not to if you ask me, we all know why we are all here. It is not an unusual notion for someone like me, a Princess, I was raised to believe I might be a Queen one day. My parents own marriage was negotiated to solidify alliances on the eve of war. I know my duty and I would do anything for Robb and our people, if it is the right thing to do,” she raised her eyebrows at him, “I think you should attend the negotiations though my Prince, you must ensure you have a voice,” she said much softer, almost on a whisper, placing a hand on his forearm. He could feel the coolness of her touch resonate all the way in his spine.

He swallowed thickly, nodding at her. He opened his mouth to ask if she would tell him about the discussions this morning, to see if maybe, just maybe, there may be a chance he would marry this mystery of a woman one day, when he was distracted by a dark figure approaching them, further up the path.

“Someone’s coming,” he murmured, moving to place himself in front of her.

“At ease, Commander,” she japed, “it is only Sandor”

He turned back to her questioningly, wondering how on earth she would know this giant of a man, armour clad and heavily scared. He was a monster of a man in truth.

“Sandor?” He prompted, his voice demanding, he would question his overprotectiveness of her who he had known only for a day or so at a later time, when he was alone in his rooms.

“He is one of my three Sworn Shields,” she said, gesturing towards the approaching man by way of explanation.

“Three?” he laughed.

She laughed with him, causing him to grin further, “I know, for some reason, people just keep laying their swords at my feet,” she teased, her eyes dancing.

“Yes, I’m sure we can’t imagine why Princess,” he lowered his voice deeply and whispered to her.

She pursed her lips, as she glanced at him coyly. She was a temptress, all innocence and wild winter winds.

“There you are Little Bird,” Sandor almost growled, “Riders have arrived…”

Sansa turned to face her Shield, her brows furrowing suddenly, “Riders? Do they display a sigil?”

“Aye Little Bird, the King asked for me to fetch you, says he wants you close.”

“Of course, the sigil Sandor?” She prompted again.

“You won’t like it, Little Bird…” the man said, almost softly for someone as ferocious as he.

She crossed her arms over her chest, staring down the great man frostily, looking every inch a Winter Queen and waited, and waited.

Sandor glanced once at Jon; it was a look that for some reason made him know that he wouldn’t like the next bit of information.

“A Falcon, Little Bird, of House Arryn.”

“Baelish…”

Chapter Text

“Leave Lord Baelish and his companions in the antechamber, until Sansa arrives, we will greet them in the Great Hall,” he said, his hand flexing towards his empty sword belt, he would never carry a broad sword in his own halls, it wasn’t their fathers way, but now his hand ached for it.

Theon nodded stiffly, he had heard the tales from Sansa’s own lips, just as Robb had, when they had first reunited, and she spent night after night, sparing no detail, no matter how unpleasant as she regaled her journey back to them. He wanted it, every disgusting and hurtful fact, he wanted her pain imbedded in his skin, as a marker of his failure as a brother.

“Where is our sister?” Arya half shouted as she barged her way quickly into his chambers.

“I have sent Clegane to fetch her, Ser Jaime said she was praying in the Godswood, with Ghost.”

Arya looked rattled. How could one man cause such a feeling amongst them, a man he had never met? Sansa had told him Lord Baelish was one of the mist dangerous players of the game that she had ever met, he wouldn’t start to ignore his sister now.

“I don’t like it Robb,” Arya began, “There can be no dalliances to the Godswood without her Shields now that Littlefinger has crawled his way into our castle.” She had crossed her arms behind her back, standing resolutely in the doorway.

“I understand,” he nodded.

“No, you must really listen to me Robb. You were not there, in Kings Landing,” he winced, and her eyes softened at the sight, “I don’t say that to hurt you brother. What I mean, is that you never saw him with her, with our sister. He looks at her like she is a meal to be devoured. It’s disgusting,” she shivered visibly. Arya was rarely so flighty with her displays of emotions, she was clearly as rattled as he.

“I know little sister, come, walk with me to the Great Hall,” he bent down to her and put a hand on her little shoulder, “The North Remembers, sister,” he whispered.

“Aye,” she nodded, smirking wickedly at him, “we remember.”

----------

Robb paced the dais as Arya sat lazily at the high table, with her booted feet flung onto the chair next to her as she twirled the little dagger that he had given her on her last name day.

The tell-tale clatter of armour drew their attention to the door, Sansa walked, ever gracefully into the room, with her arm linked in Jon’s. He smirked to himself at the sight. They looked bloody good together, ice and moon, dragon and wolf. They were closely followed by Sandor, Lady Brienne and Ser Jaime.

“Well isn’t this a happy picture, she will be sewing your tunics before you know it Jon if you aren’t careful Jon,” Arya chortled.

Sansa lifted her head primly, “The Prince happened upon Ghost and I near the Heart Tree.”

He threw a glance at Jon, who, respectfully avoided his gaze.

“No more Sansa,” he began, and she frowned at him, “no more walks in the Godswood, I know you have Ghost, but I want your guard with you at all times.”

She had the grace not to scold him in their present company, and for that he was thankful, although he could tell her sharp retort was on the tip of her tongue.

“We will see that it is done, your Grace,” Ser Jaime volunteered, nodding grimly once. If any man knew of Sansa’s treatment and time in the capital, it was Ser Jaime, “we will keep a close eye on the little wolf whilst Littlefinger is here,” Ser Jaime paused, turning to look at Sansa and addressing her directly, “perhaps, Princess, it would be wise to try and bring Lord Varys into the fold?”

Robb looked at Jon as his cousin furrowed his brow, his hand resting on top of Sansa’s, which remained in the crux of his elbow.

“I had already thought of much the same, Ser Jaime,” she smiled.

“Clever little wolf…”

“Clever little lion,” she japed back.

Hear – me – roar,” he drawled sarcastically, “besides, I am certainly the biggest lion.”

Robb had never had the pleasure of Lord Baelish’s company. He had remained in his impregnable fortress in the Eyrie for much of the war, only sending Knights of the Vale to Kings Landing alongside the Northern Army when a missive from Robb called into question the honour of the order and noted their absence thus far. They had finally relented, and Lord Baelish had sworn fealty by proxy.

“Let’s get this over with,” he began, “you may stay cousin, if you wish…” he glanced over to Jon.

“Perhaps the Prince should not make his presence known though, my King, I have a feeling I know why Lord Baelish has suddenly decided to pay homage…” Sansa said, her face remaining impassive.

“Sister, we are thinking along the same lines, I assure you.”

----------

“I cannot express how good it is to finally meet you, your Grace.”

Lord Baelish was not a man of much consequence to look upon. His clothing certainly indicated he was a man of standing, but he was slight, heavily perfumed and his hair was thickly oiled. His doublet was purple, garish and ostentatious. He couldn’t look more the Southern fool if he tried. He had eyes like a snake, Robb had observed them as soon as his party had been announced into the hall.

Sansa had made it clear in her stories that she believed Littlefinger to be a controlling, manipulating and powerful figure, who had been obsessed with their mother, and in turn Sansa in her own way.

He despised him on sight.

“Rise, my Lords,” Robb gestured tersely.

He sat in the middle of the dais, in a large wooden chair, carved with the fish of his mother’s house. Sansa stood to his left, just to the side of him, her hand resting delicately on the arm of the chair. Arya had skipped away, standing in the shadows on the edge of the hall, next to Jon no doubt.

Prior to the entrance of the Lord Protector and his Knights, Sansa had whispered for her three Shield’s to position themselves in front of the dais, they made an intimidating sight he presumed.

“It is such a pleasure to return to Riverrun, my childhood was such a happy one here, especially to be surrounded by so many friends, I did not know this would be such a reunion of sorts,” he smiled thinly and gestured to Ser Jaime and Clegane, Robb knew the man to be uncomfortable, he could pick Sansa up and twirl her around for her cleverness at keeping them so close.

“The Princess Sansa has been blessed to acquire such loyal Shields, my Lord,” Robb smiled, tipping one corner of his mouth, a wolf he could be indeed.

“It is such a joy to see you safe and well, my sweet Sansa,” he whispered, almost silently.

“You forget yourself, my Lord,” he said, his voice level and unnerving. Arya hated when he did this, she said it reminded her of their father, who could scold you and make you fear for your life in equal measure without raising his voice an octave. “You are addressing a Princess.”

“Of course, my King, many apologies, it is just the Princess and I were such good friends in the capital, were we not Princess?” he turned his head minutely in her direction. Robb could feel her tense slightly beside him. He longed to reach out to her, but he would never hear the end of it if he displayed any weakness now.

“I had so many, many friends in Kings Landing my Lord,” she smiled sweetly at the man. Baelish tipped his head in honour despite the lie Robb could hear from Sansa’s tongue.

“What brings you to my castle, my Lord, so far from your falcon’s nest?” Robb challenged.

“I have come to serve my King, in any capacity my Lord. Your cousin, Lord Robin, is too ill and sensitive to travel, so I am here in his stead. He remains safely in the Eyrie, under the tutelage of Lord Royce. We have… sent you many ravens my King, some have not been answered,” Baelish simpered.

“I answer missives when the occasion requires it my Lord, I am a busy man,” he stated with finality.

“As is your right, my King. Perhaps I could request a private audience with you, to discuss matters of great importance in the Vale, we serve our king loyally.”

Robb paused, refusing to answer the man straight away. He had rather enjoyed these little lessons from Sansa. She had told him once you could find out much about a man by making him wait.

“Of course, my Lord. The Vale and its people mean a great deal to me,” he said eventually.

Baelish seemed to release a deep breath, standing up straighter, pride oozing from his irritating features. But of course, he appeared little satisfied.

“I heard a troubling rumour on my journey here, my King,” Baelish began.

Here we go. Let us see card he means to lay.

“Prey tell me, my Lord,” he said taking the bait.

“Well you see, my King, it was most strange news. There were reports of a Targaryen delegation having left the South, and that they were staying in these very halls. Surely it is nonsense…” the man smiled arrogantly at him.

Robb chuckled, “no rumour my Lord, my sisters and I are hosting Queen Daenerys. We are negotiating a new alliance ahead of the wars to come, winter is coming, and new friends must be made, not all of us have the benefit of a falcon’s fortress to hide away from, my people need protection and safety and I will see that it is done, in any way my family and I see fit,” Robb raised a challenging eyebrow at his Bannerman.

He did not miss the slight twitch to Littlefinger’s eye as his gaze drifted to Sansa.

“My, my, how times have changed my King, most revolutionary of you, if I must say,” his saccharine smile was infuriating. Robb hadn’t felt this angry since he had seen Joffrey’s smug, vile face in Kings Landing, before he had taken it from his shoulders with a swing of his sword. “It is no doubt democratic of you, my King, should you need an experienced man at your side, I would be more than happy to…”

“We will keep that in mind my Lord,” Sansa interrupted. He could feel her patience waning.

At that Robb’s attention was drawn to the entrance to the hall, where Ghost began pacing gently towards the dais. He could have kissed the damn beast at the sight he made, as he strode in, hackles raised and muzzle bloodied and his latest kill still hanging from his jaws.

He was sure he heard his cousins dark chuckle from the corner of the room and couldn’t resist the smirk that took over his face.

“Oh Ghost!” Sansa exclaimed so sweetly, “Ser Jaime, if you would?” The Knight turned to her immediately, taking her hand and leading her down the steps towards the centre of the hall.

She came to a stop a few yards in front of Baelish and his gathered Valeman.

“What have you got for me, my sweet boy?” She was a formidable thing, his sister, he couldn’t fault her performance as she almost sang her praise to her beloved companion. The wolf padded loyally to her side, stopping in front of their guests. Robb noted the determined set of his Lord Baelish’s jaw as he tried and failed to remain an expression of indifference at the direwolf in front of him, whose once white fur was coated in dark, sticky blood. Ghost dropped his prey in front of Sansa, was it a hare? It was different to tell in its mangled state.

Robb was forever in awe of Sansa’s ability to shock him, as she lowered herself demurely to the ground and picked up the bloody catch in her dainty little fingers, coating them immediately in muck. She brought herself back up to her height and lifted the animal up before her for her inspection, she smiled at is sweetly, like it was a flower, or a plate of lemon cakes.

“Poor thing,” she lamented as she ran her eyes down the carcass Ghost had gifted her, “it obviously wandered too far into the wolfs den.”

Her watched her turn her head back to Lord Baelish and appraise him.

“I will arrange rooms for you all my Lords, you are most welcome at Riverrun,” she turned back towards him, “if you will excuse me, my King,” she curtsied softly, “I will settle in our esteemed guests.”

He rose from his chair, “of course sister, Lady Brienne and Sandor will accompany you also,” he nodded to the pair as they acknowledged his command.

“Of course, your Grace, my Lords, if you would follow me.”

Sansa began to walk the length of the hall, dead animal still in hand as Ghost followed her, trying to nip and tug if from her. Robb observed as Littlefinger’s eyes chased after her before following behind with his party. He wondered how long it would take the man to seek out a private audience with him, no doubt he knew the topic of conversation would be his sister. He would lose his crown and his head before he ever allowed that man to take her.

He waited for them to leave before speaking.

“Ser Jaime, could you summon Lord Varys to my Solar… discreetly,” he added. He knew the Knight would do anything for Sansa, he had spent enough time in the South to know he didn’t want Baelish being made aware of it, “And then find the Princess and ask her to join us.”

The Knight merely grinned at him, it would be an unnerving sight to some, feline and feral and calculating, before he turned and walked quickly from the room.

“The rest of you, please be at ease, and return to your day,” he said, watching some depart and nodding towards Arya and Jon, as they ambled into the room, Jon ruffling Arya’s messy tresses.

“She took that animal carcass with her,” Jon said quietly, almost reverently, his eyes trained still on the doorway Sansa had just left from, “She’s walking around the bloody castle with it, like it’s a doll,” he laughed in shock, shaking his head gently from side to side.

“And another man loses his head to the Rose of Winterfell,” Robb barked, punching his cousin in the arm.

Jon had the grace to at least look somewhat rebuffed, rubbing his shoulder as he avoided Robb’s eyes.

“Do shut up, the pair of you, I still don’t like this Robb…” she trailed off, looking at him with concern, “it will be worse again… at night… it was when the Imp and the Spider arrived, it’s no different, no matter who it is that comes back from her past,” she crossed her arms in frustration and turned her back on them, marching out of the room, cursing under her breath as she went.

Robb sighed, running his hand across his beard. He found it a trial enough to be an elder brother, let along a king.

“I’m sorry about that Jon… it seemed we interrupted a nice little afternoon for you, you’re just lucky Ghost was with you, or I would have your head,” he joked.

“Very funny, you’re not as quick as me, just remember that,” Jon paused, frowning and swallowing thickly, “what did Arya mean, about the Princess, and her nights?”

He knew Arya had said too much. He wanted to tell her so the very moment her concerns had tumbled from her mouth, but he couldn’t reprimand her, she had become close with Jon, and in truth, the thought of him perhaps becoming his good-brother gave him nothing but pleasure, but still, Sansa wouldn’t like something she deemed as her weakness to be so readily discussed, although he would never describe it as such.

“She has nightmares Jon, bad ones, she has since my father was killed in front of her very eyes, since… well, I’m sure you know, but she wasn’t treated as she should have been in the capital. She wears her wounds unseen, despite the good show she puts on. It’s worse sometimes, when certain memories are rekindled…” he huffed again, “she wont like you knowing that, not yet anyway, but Arya has never tended to think before opening that mouth of hers.”

Jon hadn’t offered a reply, he turned his head to the door and scowled at it, his eyes flashing in fury. There’s the dragon then, the one he keeps so carefully guarded, the one that is so clearly half mad for his sister already.

“I don’t like that fucking prick from the Vale either, whatever his name is,” his cousin glared.

“Trust me, neither do I, we have it handled Jon.” He appraised the man before him, the man he had come to care for without effort, because he was just good. In truth, he would be a good match for Sansa, and he was loathed to part with her for anyone who would not kill for her.

“You care for her, don’t you?” He continued, “this isn’t just about an alliance for you, or creating heirs?”

“I do,” he seemed to say almost reluctantly, as if showing this part of him was a great risk, “that isn’t me Robb, whatever it is that my aunt wants, that is her prerogative, but I don’t know how to explain it… the moment I saw her, it was just…” he paused, “look, do we have to talk about this?” He argued awkwardly.

Robb huffed a laugh, “if you ever want to deem yourself worthy of her in my eyes, you will do more to prove it than mutter a few useless words to me cousin…” He couldn’t help but laugh at the poor fool, he really was no good at this.

“Just a tip though, don’t be so bloody over-protective of her, she wont like it, and she is a lot stronger than she looks…”

“You don’t think I know that?” he scowled, “and you’re a bloody fine one to talk, taking heads for her and having wolves howl when she walks into a room. It isn’t fair.” Jon grumbled at him.

Robb’s answering grin was met with a smack to his shoulder and Jon looking indecently smug as the hit landed.

“You bastard,” he cursed.

Robb took a moment, looking his cousin in the eyes, searching for and observing the sincerity he found in his Stark features, in the face that was so much like his father’s, making his decision at once, consequences be damned.

“Jon, if this is more for you… more than southern games…” he began.

“It is Robb,” Jon interrupted him fiercely.

“… then I think perhaps, there is something you should see…” Robb sighed, reaching into his jerkin and removing the piece of parchment he had been keeping there. The parchment that was written in Tyrion Lannister’s hand, but had the commands Queen Daenerys words had listed there, and he handed it smoothly to his cousin.

Chapter Text

Her poor brother had a pained expression upon his lovely, Tully features as she crossed the threshold to his Solar, with Ser Jaime at her side. Robb was useless at small talk, he always had been, he was much like their father in that way, despite his more jovial nature and she estimated he had been alone in Lord Varys’ company for a good ten minutes, which was more like an hour in Robb’s inpatient eyes.

“Forgive me your Grace,” she curtsied softly, she wouldn’t normally, were they alone, but present company demanded it, “Lord Varys, I trust your Queen is well?”

“Very well, Princess, it seems the fresh air is much relief to all of us, it doesn’t do any harm to leave the city smog from time to time,” Lord Varys tipped his head to the side slightly, as she had seen him do many times in her years in the capital.

The Queen’s Master of Whispers, who had served King Joffrey, King Robert and King Aerys beforehand was much unchanged. He still adorned himself in his simple Essosi garb and kept his hands clasped about himself, his small round eyes ever watching. She had seen him in action during his short time in the Riverlands, keeping to the edge of rooms, absorbing everything around him like a drying cloth. She had even heard talk from the servants of him trying to recruit them, trying being the operative word.

“Well you are in luck, fresh air is in its abundance in the Riverlands, my Lord,” Sansa said sweetly.

Lord Varys smiled at her, before turning back to the room, “to what do I owe this pleasure your Grace, one would be a fool to refuse an invitation from Ser Jaime, but I must admit myself intrigued…”

“Sister, perhaps you would like to address Lord Varys.” Robb asked her politely, his eyes forever grateful for her presence when they met hers.

“Of course,” she said, Ser Jaime stepped around her and pulled a chair out for her to sit, which she did so, folding her hands, which still had small stains of blood on them from Ghost’s gift, she found she didn’t mind the red tinge to them at all, “Thank you Ser Jaime, perhaps you will stay? I am sure you may have some insight to share with us.”

“It would be an honour, Princess,” Jaime grinned at her mischievously, she didn’t like that grin one bit. It was the one he usually wore when he teased her and japed with her to wed and bed Jon as quickly as she could so she could steal the thrown from the Queen and he could return with her somewhere that was bloody warmer than Winterfell. A treasonous jape to be sure, and one he wouldn’t dare mutter outside her rooms for risk of causing her any problems.

Sansa turned back to Lord Varys, “You may not be aware, that we have had a visitor arrive to our castle this day my Lord.”

“I admit I am not, it is a strange thing Princess, there are few whispers to be had in this castle,” he said, almost respectfully.

“I am quite glad to hear it my Lord, people are loyal in our North, you will find there are few orphans who will be turned by a promise of a lemon cake or a penny, we look after such orphans from here to Last Hearth,” she said proudly.

“A noble cause Princess. I have found in my short time here that the Starks serve the realm. It is a different realm to mine now, but you serve it all the same, just as I do.”

He thinks he serves the realm. Does he? Is that all he cares for? All men want something, Cersei had taught her that much, but Lord Varys had always treated her somewhat differently. Kinder perhaps, maybe not kinder, but softer certainly. Even on the wretched day Cersei had forced her to write that scroll to Robb, branding her father a traitor and begging he swear fealty to Joffrey, even then Varys had spoken to her.

She could see trust in his eyes. And Sansa knew what his one weakness was – his dislike for Littlefinger.

“May I say Princess,” he began again, “it gives me nothing but happiness to see you, a woman grown, the little girl I once knew has much changed, we have underestimated you yet, to our own detriment.”

She kept her face impassive and unyielding, but she could have screamed. Screamed in joy, for no longer being seen as Joffrey’s toy, as Cersei’s to torment. Screamed in sorrow, for those who had made that little girl no more, who had obliterated her into dust. But here she was, beating heart and spine of steel, there was something to be said of that.

“Our guest is someone who I believe may interest you…” Sansa narrowed her sapphire eyes and trained them on Lord Varys, searching him for a sign of any reaction.

“Who, my Princess?”

“Someone who I believe we share a mutual desire to see fall from power, someone who turned lion against wolf,” she said, turning towards Ser Jaime, “someone who causes chaos where ever they go, someone who coverts those who do not belong to him, and chairs that should never be his… Lord Baelish.”

----------

Her meeting with Lord Varys had been most informative, more so than she could have imagined. She had pondered the information he had relayed to them well into the night, till she had fell into a fitful sleep where she dreamed of Mockingbirds pecking at the catch she was trapped in, of ungallant Knights with painful swords and lions chasing her through the Red Keep. She had awoken for the third night in a row to Theon smoothing her hair from his chair next to her, and gently wiping her tears. Her dear, sweetheart, Theon, who had slept in a chair for her for gods only know how many nights since they returned to one another, just as Robb did. She urged and begged and screamed bloody murder at them not too, but no matter how much she tried, she would always wake to one of them there.

Fitful sleep or not, it was no matter to her, a new day had dawned, and many hours of negotiations had been planned for this morning. She wondered if she would be a betrothed woman by the evening. She wondered if Jon would be there? She had begun to call him Jon in her head, not Prince, she knew it was foolish, but it was easy for her to feel familiar with someone who was just so familiar, with someone so handsome, with someone who sought her out in every room.

Maybe she was just a silly girl still. Head turned by a nice face, a deep and warm voice, and skin than ran red hot when she rested her arm in the crux of his elbow. It had taken her a time to realise, that during their short escape alone together in to Godswood, she hadn’t once felt unnerved, or on her guard. It was such a simple thing, but it had been a long time since she had felt any level of security in the company of someone who wasn’t her family, but he was, in his own way, she supposed.

She had picked her dress carefully, in hopes that maybe the Prince would be amongst them this morning. Her gown was deep green, it reminded her of the Godswood, of the earth and the steadiness of the Riverlands. I reminded her of his touch, of the way his curls blew, she couldn’t fathom why, but it did.

Lady Brienne escorted her today. It was still too much of a risk to allow Ser Jaime too close to the Queen, he had killed her father after all, no matter how justified, his presence hardly screamed alliance to their guests.

She arrived before Robb, everyone else was already seated, Ser Jorah, Lord Tyrion and Lord Varys rose in greeting and Sansa nodded her head politely to the Queen. The Prince was notably absent. She could not feign that she was not disappointed, she had tried to make it clear how important she felt it was that he have an involvement, but the extra chair she had requested be arranged for him was resolutely empty.

“I hope your stay remains comfortable your Grace, should you have need of anything, please do let me know,” she spoke by way of hello.

“Thank you, Princess, I explored much of the lands yesterday, with my children, it is a beautiful place. I have had little chance to see much of the continent yet, so I am grateful.”

An olive branch perhaps, or a way to sweeten her to them prior to the next round of negotiations.

Greywind padded softly into the room first, signalling Robb’s imminent arrival. He strolled over to her and rested his great head onto her shoulder, which he had to bend to do as she was seated. She allowed him to nuzzle her neck as she reached up and scratched his head tenderly, cooing to him quietly and telling him what a sweet boy he was.

“You Starks,” Tyrion laughed, “I will never understand how you could call such a beast a ‘sweet boy’ Princess.”

Sansa grinned at the wolf, “You forget my Lord, us Starks have the blood of the First Men in our veins, we are of the earth and the sky in the North, just as the Direwolves are. Besides, he is a sweet boy despite his snarl and his bite, it’s the boys who look far too sweet that you have to look out for, in my experience.”

“You will spoil him sister, how many times must I say?” Robb sighed in mock exasperation from where he stood in the doorway with the Prince at his side. She felt her pulse thrum at the sight of him, clad all in black, with his hair pulled back in a tie at the nape of his neck, just as Arya wore it. She buried her hand reflexively all the deeper into Greywind’s fur.

“Your Grace,” she rose, swatting Greywind from her shoulder and sinking into a curtsey as low as the chair behind her would allow, “you do not spoil him enough, so I must take up the mantle,” she said demurely, the Prince had yet to meet her eye, he was caught between a match of glares between himself and the Queen. She had never seen such fury in two single sets of eyes.

“He will be useless to me should we ever be at war again if he is too bust running around your skirts,” Robb grumbled, walking into the room and swiping both her and Greywind on the nose affectionately.

“Then I am glad I prey for our continued peace everyday brother,” she grinned at him in victory, “go run with Ghost sweet one, he is getting too lazy,” she whispered to the wolf. She watched as Robb closed his eyes and willed him away before Greywind padded quickly out of the room, but not before rubbing his side against the Prince.

“Good morning my Prince,” she said softly.

He finally tore his gaze to her from the doorway and took her in, she watched as his eyes ran over her. His stare was intense and dark, in a way she had not seen yet. She felt herself breath deeply, her chest straining against the fabric of her gown under his inspection, smiling coyly and raising an eyebrow at him to let him know she had caught him staring.

“Good morning Princess,” he said huskily.

“Are you joining us?” Sansa asked.

He nodded and began walking around the table to the empty chair, directly across from her.

“Jon!” Daenerys barked. “What are you doing? This isn’t proper,” she hissed, whilst staring at Sansa in a rage.

“This,” he began, before flinging a piece of parchment onto the table, “is what I am doing here, aunt.”

Gods. What had happened?

She had seen anger before, angry men, pawing, clawing, angry woman and children, starved and hungry, angry kings who wanted her head, but she had never seen such rage than that the crossed the features of the two Targaryen’s in front of her.

Fire and Blood.

“You did this!” It took a moment in her shock for Sansa to compose herself, putting her mask firmly back on before she realised the Queen was speaking to her. Oh. It’s her requests from the first meeting. She knew Jon hadn’t known about them, she just had, deep in her bones, but he had them in his very hands just a moment ago. The distance and harsh way he held himself confirmed he had not known.

What was it that irked him? The inspection of her maidenhead, that was a low blow she had thought. She had wondered how Tyrion had even entertained it. The Clever Lion seemed clever no more. Or perhaps it was the issue of any children they may have, being taken from her. She knew herself she would never agree alone. She would not have her babes torn from her arms, only for her to go mad with grief, but the reason behind it still bothered her, whatever it was.

“Sansa did not do this,” Robb sad sharply from beside her. Their party watched transfixed, Sansa and the gathered lords, as her brother, Jon and the Queen glared at one another.

“I gave it to him,” Robb continued, “he had a right to know. He is a man, you want him to be a father, he should know what he is signing himself up for…”

Daenerys released a deep breath, resolutely not looking towards any of her advisors. It was clear she rarely heeded their advice anyway.

Sansa was still in shock. Of course, the Prince should know, but she was surprised Robb had delivered him the knowledge himself, without discussing it with her, she looked at him, frowning, accusation in her eyes.

“I’m sorry sister,” he whispered, cupping her cheek with his hand, “but it needed to be done, as a brother, not a king, I needed to protect your future happiness.”

She felt her throat thicken, she would not wilt here, she would thank him properly later, she would tell him she had faith in him always and was on his side. So, she nodded, blinking rapidly as she leaned her cheek further into his hand.

Jon had moved closer to his aunt, sinking to his knees in front of her, clutching her hand. His jaw was still set, the tension palpable in the room, but his eyes were softer, kinder.

“Dany please, we can’t do this… we cannot ask this. What you want is too much. I won’t do it Dany, you must see that, there must be a way.”

Sansa watched transfixed as he ran soothing circles in the back of her hand, like her father had done many times to her when she was in a temper as a girl. He was trying to calm her, to make her see reason, he had obviously done this many times before.

The Queen stared down at her nephew. Her eyes looked heavy with emotion. She was a true beauty in her pain, whatever this agony was that she kept locked away.

“Please Dany, I beg you. We must tell them, I won’t enter a marriage under falsehood, I will never agree unless we tell her, she has a right to know the life she is choosing,” he whispered quietly but fiercely.

Gods.

How could she have missed it.

“Leave us!” Sansa said sharply, standing abruptly, causing her chair to scrap noisily on the stone flooring. “Everyone, please, save the King, the Queen, and the Prince,” she ordered.

Robb was staring at her intently, but she kept her eyes trained on the Queen, Jon had risen also, still standing as he leant with both hands heavily on her table, realising a deep sigh, before lifting his eyes to meet her gaze.

His eyes looked almost violet in the light, as they burned into her as she was only somewhat aware of the small council shuffling out of the room nervously. She couldn’t understand, how he could be seething with anger towards his aunt in one moment, and then look upon her like he wanted to rip Sansa’s dress from her body the next.

Jon knows she knows their secret. She knows, and she still wants him, and he still wants her. If only it were that simple.

“Are you quite sure I should leave Princess?” Brienne asked, her face marred with concern.

She didn’t have the strength to turn answer, still caught up in the heated gaze from the man before her and the game altering information she had just learnt.

The Prince wretched a dagger from his belt, before slamming it into the table, burying the blade into the wood, “I would sooner carve out my own heart than allow any harm befall your Princess, my Lady,” he said softly.

“It’s quite alright Brienne,” Sansa replied, without turning her head to address her friend, “brother, bar the door.”

She waited until she heard the door secure behind her. She waited some more. Sansa began pacing along the side of the room, wringing her hands together as she thought, trying to work out each scenario in her head.

“Will someone tell me what is going on?” Robb seethed.

“For fuck sake Dany,” Jon shouted, banging his fist on the table. Sansa startled at the noise and she watched as Jon automatically noted her reaction, he regretted his outburst, sitting himself down into his chair in a huff of frustration.

No one spoke, the Queen was nearly purple, her beautiful skin blotched with rage, or sadness, she wasn’t sure.

Fine. It looked like it fell to her.

“You are unmarried,” Sansa said, addressing the Queen.

“I am.”

“You have no intention to remarry, do you?” She said gently, although she did not remove the accusation from her voice. She didn’t allow the Queen a chance to answer this, “and you didn’t disclose this… Why?” Sansa asked the room but did not need an answer.

“I have been married before,” Daenerys said defensively, “and I loved him, but he was taken from me.”

Sansa nodded reassuringly at her, “I am sure, and you are lucky your Grace, to have known true love,” her tone was wistful and heavy, “but that’s not the reason. It’s not the reason you wish to never remarry, it’s not the reason you seek a bride for your nephew who is of equal rank and of the strongest and most noble bloodline left in Westeros, it is not why you want to take my children from me, and raise them as your own…”

She looked to the Prince then, who nodded at her sadly.

“You cannot have children, can you, your Grace?”

She said it genuinely, gently, as gently as one could say to a rival. She may not be her Queen or her kin, but Sansa was still a woman, if you stripped it all back, that’s all either of them were. Two woman who had both lived through pain and hardship. Sansa could imagine what it would be like, to feel as the Queen did, as she furiously wiped away a traitorous tear that fell from her violet eye.

“I cannot,” the Queen conceded finally.

“Why did you not tell us this?” Robb demanded. He had not so clearly masked his emotions.

“Peace, brother,” Sansa said, placing a reassuring hand on his arm, “it is not something a woman would sing and dance about, not women like us,” she said, endeavouring to show the Queen she related, that she could understand, if only she would trust her.

“How could you do this to me Jon, how could you demand this of me?” The Queen ignored Sansa and directed her anger to her nephew.

“Demand? Dany, I have done everything you have ever asked of me, my whole life… I have agreed with you, I have gone with you wherever you have wanted, I know my duty, I do, but I won’t do this. Should I ever have children, they will not be taken from me, from their mother. Should you try and force it of me, mark my words, you will break my heart. I will take Rhaegal and I will go, I will fly as far west as west goes and you will lose your heir and your only family.”

During his speech Jon had been wiping away the Queen’s tears as he cradled her cheeks. Despite his voice being full of distain and anger, his actions were nothing but gentle. She watched as the Queen nodded dejectedly, finally abandoning her quest to raise another’s child as her own.

“You are my heir Jon, you are my only family…” she whispered.

“Wait.”

All eyes returned to Sansa, she had stopped her pacing, realisation washing over. Gods she was stupid. A stupid little girl who never learnt.

“The Prince is your heir,” she breathed, “there will never be another…”

Robb turned to look at her with confusion.

“Which means, if he outlives you, he will be the King. And I… I would be…”

“The Queen,” Robb stammered, dropping his head into his hands, “The Queen in the South.”

Cersei

Joffrey

Ser Ilyn

Meryn Trant

Ser Boros

Pain, death, lions, a little bird in a cage, Starks who never return Norther, a throne of swords, no father, no Lady, nothing.

She had never felt so hot, as her nightmares washed over her like a storm of blood, as her potential future burned into her vision. She pulled at the collar of her dress as her breathing quickened.

“Sansa stop, its ok, shh,” Robb tried to grab her arms, but she pushed him away.

“No, Robb, let me go… Apologies, your Grace, I will give my answer to your proposal to the Prince directly, once I have decided,” and with that, feeling less wolf that she ever had, Sansa picked up her skirts and fled from the room.

Chapter Text

Jon hadn’t seen the Princess in two days. It had been agony. He had known it already, but this short absence had more than confirmed it, there would be no other woman for him for as long as he would live, that would compare to Sansa Stark.

I had nearly killed him, to watch her run away from the council chambers in panic. He had seen the fear reflected in her eyes. And now he understood.

He had taken Dany, who was lost in her own grief to Missandei. He was torn, at being absolutely enraged by his aunt and heart broken for her. Nevertheless, despite her motives, it would take him sometime to get over what she had tried to put Jon and the Princess through.

Once his aunt was in the care of his friend, and Robb has sent Arya and the wolves to Sansa’s chambers, his cousin and he sat down in his Solar, with a large pitcher of strong ale, and Robb told him Sansa’s story. Every beating, every false person, every lie, every manipulation. No one could blame her. Who would ever want to be Queen of such a kingdom, a place where she had been stripped and beaten in front of the very throne he may one day need to sit upon?

He could not have thanked Robb enough for taking Joffrey’s head from his shoulders, but even that would not be enough to make up for the wrongs she had suffered. His sweet Sansa.

A part of him was distraught for himself too. How could she ever want him now? How could she sit at his side, in a place she had vowed never to return to? He couldn’t help but mourn the possible loss of her. Of the small giggles she tried to supress, and her sparkling blue eyes when she flirted with him, of how she had drunk him in, going toe to toe with him under his gaze in the council chambers.

He wanted her. And she wanted him, well… she had at least.

Jon had pestered Robb about her whereabouts and her wellbeing for two days straight.

“She is resting Jon,” he would tell her, “the wolves have not left her side, just give her time,” he would reassure him, but little reassurance did it provide.

His cousin, despite having a kingdom quite larger than Dany’s to run, ended up trying to entertain him and distract him from his ‘incessant brooding’ as Arya had so delicately put it. They had taken to the training yard daily, in one of the central courtyards in the castle, with anyone who wanted to join them, normally one of the Princesses Shield’s, or Arya, but this morning, much to his chagrin, Arthur had joined him and Robb.

“You’re dropping your shoulder Jon,” Ser Arthur snapped from the edge of the yard they were using. He never used any titles when they were training, for there were no kings and princes on the battlefield, he had told him as a boy, only men, only your enemies.

“No, I’m bloody not,” he barked back.

Robb merely laughed, before lunging towards him, nicking his neck with his blade.

“Yes, you are cousin, see,” he smiled, blocking Jon’s hit, once, then twice.

“For fucks sake,” he cursed.

“You’re letting your emotions distract you Jon,” Arthur cautioned.

Jon turned, parried a strike from Robb before landing a blow on Robb’s chest. Robb dropped to his knees, half winded and half full of laughter.

“Robb Stark!”

“Shit,” Rob cursed, scrambling to his feet.

She was beautiful. She always was, but even more so now.

The Princess flew down the stone steps, her copper hair blowing around her head as she scowled at the scene in front of her.

“My sweet sister,” Robb greeted her brightly.

She raised a hand in front of her, stopping him in his tracks as she came to Ser Arthur’s side.

“Save your niceties Robb, I – said – no – live – steel! You are a king! For goodness sake!” She railed a him, causing more than one passer by to stop and watch.

“It is just some light-hearted sparring, cousin to cousin,” Robb said jovially, clapping Jon on the shoulder, there was strength in numbers it seemed.

“Light-hearted? You are bleeding Robb!” She gestured to his chest, where a stain of blood had soaked into his tunic, “and so is the Prince,” she groaned, crossing her arms across her chest as she looked at him.

He couldn’t help but grin at her. She looked beautiful, free and alive. Her eyes were wild, and her cheeks were flushed so prettily, and in her pale blue dress, as soft as silk, her hair shone brighter.

“It is just a nick, Princess,” Jon said softly, unable to help his grin as she continued to rage at them, she was magnificent.

“Just a nick? Do explain that to your aunt when she asks how you nearly lost your godforsaken head and your dragon comes to eat us all alive,” she drawled, her voice thick with sarcasm.

“Ahh,” Ser Arthur chuckled, “there is that famous Tully temper.”

“I would hold your tongue also, Ser, you should be ensuring they use practice swords,” she turned on the Knight. Jon chanced a glance at Robb who grinned at the sight, raising his eyebrows as his sister moved her attention on someone else.

“I am your humble servant, my Princess,” the fool bowed lowly, before swiping her hand and placing a quick kiss to the back of it.

“Your flattery will not get you anywhere, Ser,” she huffed, although Jon could see her trying to fight a smile as her twinkling eyes gave her away.

Her smile disappeared immediately when she turned back to Robb and Jon, she appraised them like they had been caught trying to sneak cakes from the kitchen.

“If you insist in acting like children, and not men with kingdoms to run, then you will be treated as such,” she arched her pretty auburn brow in challenge, when she received none she continued, “those wounds will need seeing to, my Solar now, the both of you,” she said, glaring between them, before picking up her skirts and turning on her heel.

“Gods be good,” Ser Arthur, “She does make a pretty sight, your little wolf, Jon.”

Jon just blinked between his two companions, utterly perplexed at the girl he had longed for, these past days, as she whirled in and out of the training yard like a winters storm.

“Some advice for you Jon, whatever you do, always do as she says,” Robb sighed as if he was long suffering, “she was raised by Catelyn Tully, you wont want to know what happens when you disobey.”

----------

Jon followed Robb sheepishly into Sansa’s Solar, after greeting the Hound, who stood outside the chambers as he laughed in their faces at the sight of them.

The Princess was moving a basket to her desk, removing cloths and thread in a flustered and determined state. Ghost lay in front of the hearth, ignoring their arrival completely. Robb sat down at her desk, in he assumed the chair that usually belonged to his sister. He kicked his feet up and grinned at her smugly.

“You will wipe that look off your face Robb Stark, King or not, I will tell your lady wife you have been using live steel, your unborn son could be a king before he is even born!” She cast an appraising eye over him before he rolled his eyes and sighed.

“Fine, sister, I apologise. Let’s get on with it, shall we?”

She smiled at him then, a genuine one. He wondered if she had smiled so in the last few days, judging by the expression on Robb’s face, he doubted she had been this free with her affection in a while.

“Thank you, Robb,” she smiled sweetly at him, “Tunic off, and please make the Prince take a seat before he wears a hole in my floor,” he asked, without casting him a look.

Jon sighed and took a seat opposite the table. Robb disposed of his tunic, tossing it carelessly on the floor. He had a cut on the right side of his chest, it did look slightly deep and he grimaced at being so careless when they were training.

“Sorry Robb,” he muttered.

“He occasionally needs some sense whacking into him,” the Princess spoke under her breath as she inspected Robb’s chest.

“Well…” she said straightening, “it will need stitches.”

Robb groaned in reply.

“Shall I send for the Maester?” Jon asked.

They both turned and laughed at him simultaneously, two wolves in unison. Sansa turned back and began collecting items from her basket, needles, thread, cloths.

“You see this scar, cousin,” Robb said, gesturing to a long, puckered mark on his forearm, “I took this at the Whispering Wood, it was tended by a Maester,” he gestured to his shoulder to a white scar that was slim and pale, “and this one, a kind gift from Arya, was stitched by my fair sister. So, if you want the Maester, by all means send for the butcher, but I will only be tended by my sister,” he smiled at her and she rolled her eyes at him as she heated her needle over a candle flame.

She floored him, time after time. It was one thing to stitch one of her dresses, or gifts for the Queen, which was a fine talent in itself, but to sew a man’s skin was something quite different.

“The Princess is a woman of many, many talents it would seem,” Jon murmured. He watched as a flush spread up her cheeks as she continued to ignore him.

She had finished cleaning Robb’s wound and had began making her stitches, Robb flinched at the contact.

“Do you need our cousin to hold your hand, brother?” She teased. Gods she was a vixen. He wanted to kiss the grin straight from her lips.

Robb resolutely ignored her as she continued to add stitch after delicate stitch to his skin, with her nimble fingers. She cut off the thread neatly, close to the wound.

“There, all done,” she smiled, surveying her work with the dip of her head. Satisfied, he watched as she twirled about the room, pulling some fabric from her basket before placing it on the desk in front of Robb, “you are lucky I have just finished this, now put it on before you send the maids into quite the fix.”

“Thank you, sister.” Robb rose and kissed her on the top of the head, before shrugging on the tunic, “this is very fine, Sansa,” he said quietly, as his fingers ran over the embroidery of a wolfs head with a crown above it, which lay over where Robb’s heart sat. He mused it must be quite the thing, to have someone give you something that they had poured their genuine love and care into, as opposed to the gifts that were thrust upon him so often in the capital, by grasping lords and those seeking some favour.

The Princess continued blushing under the praise and he couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight.

“I don’t know what is making you look so cheerful, my Prince… you’re next,” she grinned wickedly at him. “You look far too happy sitting over there, switch seats please,” she gestured between them.

“There really isn’t the need Princess…”

“Don’t fight her Jon, you will only lose,” Robb sighed.

They turned at the sound of a knock on the door, and Lady Brienne entering, “forgive the intrusion, your Grace, Princess, but I thought it best you know. The Princess Arya has just challenge one of the Knights of a Vale to a duel, Ser Jaime is currently trying to stop the farce from beginning, he is likely to join her in time I imagine, it is only a matter of time…”

“Before the she-wolf starts a war,” Robb huffed, “she’s been in one place for too long, it was bound to happen.”

“You best go Robb, I can tend to the Prince…” The Princess murmured softly.

Robb raised a questioning brow to her, which she pointedly ignored.

“Oh for goodness sake Robb, leave the door open, Sandor will stand by it if you are worried for my honour, and Ghost is here besides,” the beast lifted his head at the sound of her voice and let out a small rumbling growl, “see, I am quite well protected, I assure you. Now please, before Arya loses you one of your kingdoms…”

“Fine,” he huffed before turning to Jon, “Dragon or not, I will cut off your fingers if anything happens to her,” he pointed an accusing finger at him.

“You look like Greywind when you get all flustered cousin,” Jon laughed as Robb strolled out of the room after Lady Brienne.

The Princess turned back to him and began her task of assessing his wound. He sat at her desk, in the same tunic, ties undone around the chest, that he had worn in the training yard and his breeches. He followed her eyes as they travelled done the exposed top part of his chest. She raised a hand towards his neck, not missing the slight shake in her hand.

“Are you well, Princess?” He whispered, aware of the trained killer she called a Shield standing on the other side of the open door.

“I am better, thank you,” she whispered back. He felt her hand lightly ghost his neck as her touch heated his skin, and she lowered her head, cocking it slightly to the side. His gaze was drawn to her lips, as she bit into the bottom in concentration.

“I’ve missed seeing you, these past days,” he continued, even quieter than before.

“You shouldn’t say such things,” she blinked at him, meeting his gaze finally.

“Why not, Princess? It’s true, I’m not used to saying things I do not mean…”

“I know,” she sighed, “I can see that about you…” She quickly moved to change the conversation, “it does seem to be a nick after all, it will not need stitches, just a good cleaning.”

He hummed at her assessment, his eyes tracking her as she fetched a small basin of water from the table. He sat transfixed as she dipped the cloth into the water, wringing it out in her little hands, before moving closer to him and resting herself so she was somewhat seated on the arm of the chair.

Jon sat back as she brought a hand to his chin, touching it gently and tipping his head back so his neck was more exposed to her. He watched her through hooded eyes as she dabbed at the wound gently as she breathed in and out deeply, her chest rising and falling before him in her damnable pretty blue dress.

Gods he wanted to throw the cloth aside, pull her into his lap and kiss her until she was breathless, until they both were, until she looked as wrecked as she made him feel.

“Done,” she breathed.

He brought his hand up to quickly catch her wrist before she had a chance to pull it away. He caught her sharp intake of breath as he turned his head and placed a kiss to her wrist, where her pulse beat, “thank you, Princess,” he whispered.

She swallowed before she nodded shyly but did not remove herself from the arm of his chair.

“Can we talk, Princess?” he said under his breath.

“Not here, not now…” she breathed huskily.

“When? I’ve been worried for you,” he said, toying with the edge of her skirt, slowly drawing his hand up and up before he rested his palm on her waist, the pretty satin fabric straining against her as she breathed.

“Tomorrow, there is a feast tonight, for the Lords of the Vale, so tomorrow, in the Godswood, after everyone breaks their fast,” she murmured, so quietly he nearly didn’t hear her.

“Thank you,” he released a breath he didn’t realise he had been holding, splaying his hand against her waist and running his thumb across the side of her gown. “You shouldn’t bite that pretty lip of yours, Princess, it will leave a mark,” he whispered, before standing, kissing the back of her hand and leaving her to her needles and thread.

Chapter Text

Sansa had managed to cobble together a hastily arranged feast to welcome and honour the Knights of the Vale and their Lord Protectors arrival. He didn’t know how she did it really. It was purposefully not as grand as the one that had been held for the Dragon Queen, but it was still enough not to cause offense.

Said Queen, had thankfully declined the invitation, feigning tiredness, but he knew she was hiding herself away after their disastrous last round of negotiations. This also meant most of her advisors had stayed away also, Lord Varys’ absence intentional. Jon had thankfully not made himself scarce since the revelations in his council chambers. He had been a near constant present, with Robb or Arya, he had even seen the Hound crack a smile at him in the Training Yard just this morning.

He wondered if anyone had asked Jon how he felt about it all, Robb, Arya, Theon and her Shields had overwhelmed her with offers of support and council about what her future may hold. She had of course, resolutely asked them all the leave her be, rather politely he might add, but he was doubtful Jon had received the same from his aunt, but then he supposed they were just as much his family as the Dragon Queen was, but Sansa must come first, above all others, always.

“Tell me, my King, how go your discussions with the Targaryen Queen,” Lord Baelish simpered from his seat beside Sansa. Robb had sat tensely all evening after the seating arrangements had been revealed to him, but he knew honour demanded the odious man be seated next to the Lady of the Castle.

A seat sat empty beside him for Jon. She was a clever woman, his sister.

“Well enough, I thank you,” he said, with great effort.

“One wonders… what prize the Dragon Queen asks for, in exchange for her aid in the wars to come?” Littlefinger continued, his eyebrow cocked in question. Robb felt Sansa sit straighter beside him, the insinuation in his words was obviously not lost on either of them.

“I am sure you have a great many wonders, my Lord.”

Robb glanced up as Jon walked purposefully into the hall, with Ghost by his side as they approached the high table. He bowed briefly with his head, keeping his hands clasped behind his back.

“Forgive my lateness, your Grace,” he began, despite addressing him his eyes did not stray from Sansa, “I got lost in the woods once more, thankfully my friend here stumbled across me again,” he grinned mischievously.

“It’s no matter cousin, is it sister?”

“No matter at all, although I do take great offense at you trying to steal my wolf, my Prince,” she teased. Jon smiled properly at that, with teeth and everything.

“He was merely helping me find my way back to you Princess, I assure you,” Jon continued.

“Jon,” Robb gestured to Littlefinger, their introduction already dangerously late by all measure of decorum, “may I introduce you to Lord Baelish, Lord Protector of the Vale, my Lord, this is our cousin, the Prince of Dragonstone…”

“An honour, I am sure,” Lord Baelish tipped his head respectfully.

Jon stood silently before them, appraising the man intently, before humming his agreement and nodding his head, but he offered no other courtesy. He couldn’t help but grin at his cousin, who would have to learn much better to mask his disdain if Sansa had anything to do with it.

“For you, Princess,” Jon said as he pulled a hand from behind his back, presenting her with a white flower. Robb rolled his eyes at the sight, Gods his cousin was under the Maiden’s spell. Sansa lowered her head shyly, biting her bottom lip as Jon jumped up onto the dais, foregoing the stairs completely. He walked his way around the table and came behind their chairs, positioning himself between Sansa and Lord Baelish, his back turned to the Lord Protector, essentially blocking his view completely.

“Allow me,” he said, lowering his hand to Sansa’s thick, copper hair, and began threading the flower into the braid that ran across her crown, as the rest of her hair tumbled down around it.

Robb recognised the flower, bright white, like a large daisy. He had seen them growing amongst the wildflowers in the Godswood.

“Thank you, my Prince,” Sansa said softly, looking up at him as he finished her task and reaching up to lightly run her fingers across her hair. Jon smiled down at her before moving to the empty seat next to Robb.

“Cousin,” he grinned, taking his seat.

“Jon,” Robb nodded, “are you quite finished?” He couldn’t help but smile at the fool.

“I have no idea what you mean…” Jon drawled as he grabbed his cup and sat back lazily in his chair.

Robb offered him only a hum in acknowledgement before signalling for the players to take up their positions. He had already welcomed the Lord Protector, albeit begrudgingly in an earlier speech and he was anxious for the evening to be underway.

Ghost had happily settled himself under the table, near Sansa’s feet.

“A pretty bloom, I am sure,” Robb heard Baelish addressing his sister.

“Thank you, my Lord,” Sansa answered him in her placid, monotone voice she used when she wasn’t really interested. It was curious to Robb, how she wasn’t even trying with Baelish, despite what they now knew of him, he thought she would still use her pretty words on him and play her little games, despite their cogs already being set in motion, but she seemed quite distracted as she brought her hand up to her head again and lightly touched the flower imbedded in her braid.

“Nearly as pretty as you, Princess. I must say, my sweet Sansa, you have bloomed into a fine woman,” despite Baelish’s oily whisper, the suggestive tone of his voice was not lost on Robb, nor Jon apparently. Robb turned to his cousin and saw the tight set of his jaw, and they way his knuckles whitened as he tightened his grip on his cup. Their eyes met, sharing words unspoken before Robb nodded his head in silent permission once.

Jon rose from his chair, closing the space between Sansa’s chair in two short strides.

“Dance with me, Princess,” Jon didn’t ask, he held his hand out over her shoulder, his tone as commanding as the one Robb used when talking to his men.

Sansa twisted in her chair to look up at him, “I thought you couldn’t dance, my Prince?” She raised an eyebrow at him and appraised him haughtily, making reference to when she had questioned his inclination for dancing at the feast where they first met.

“I didn’t say I couldn’t, just that I didn’t tend to, I hope to remedy that Princess,” he arched his eyebrow, lifting the corner of his mouth in retaliation. Gods they were as bad as each other.

Sansa continued to stare at him for a few moments before resting her hand in his as he helped her out of her chair, “excuse me, my King,” she said softly, not sparing Lord Baelish another glance as she walked away, her hand in Jon’s as they took to the floor.

Robb sat back in his chair as he watched Jon take his sister in his arms as he led her in the dance. He really wasn’t telling any falsehood, he could dance, but then Robb wasn’t surprised, Jon was the greatest Swordsman he had ever come across, besting himself certainly and even Ser Arthur or Ser Jaime.

He had come to admire his cousin greatly. He cared for him like a brother and he knew deep down if this all went to hell, he would miss having him from his life.

He knew Sansa was close to her decision. When she had asked him to disclose the stories from her time in Kings Landing to Jon, he knew it wouldn’t be long before she decided what path she would take, and in turn the path they would all take. It made him ache how this decision came down to her and her potential happiness. He had promised to protect her, and perhaps he would fail her again.

Sansa could say no. She could turn down the offer and not marry the Prince of Dragonstone. This would enrage the Queen no doubt. She would take her dragons and her dragon glass and return South, leaving them to the Night King. The Northerners would still fight them, he would be seven times damned before he hid away in his castle, but they would likely be obliterated, of that he was sure.

Sansa could say yes. She could marry a good man, someone who was brave and gentle and strong, just as their father had promised her. But then then she would need to return to the place of her nightmares, where she would one day potentially sit the throne with her husband, and even if she didn’t, their children and their children’s children certainly would.

Arya had spoken to neither of them in two days. Utterly distressed at the thought of their sweet sister returning to the place she had been prisoner for so long, the place where they had watched their father die before their very eyes.

He sat and continued to watch Jon hold her and spin her, the most beautiful girl in all the Seven Kingdoms. A Princess of Winter. The Rose of Winterfell. She was lovely, in her dark green dress, with her copper hair flying about her, adorned with flowers as she should always be. Her cheeks were flushed as Jon whispered in her ear, her eyes bluer that the waters of the Trident.

And now he finally knew, what his sister looked like when she was falling in love.

Robb hadn’t doubted the strengths of Jon’s feelings for her. He had known since their first meeting, in this very hall at another feast. Since Sansa had returned to Robb, he had seen the reaction men had to his sister, but Jon’s wasn’t one of lust or coveting. It was one of awe.

Sansa was good at hiding her feelings, much better now than she had been as a child, it was one of her fine gifts from her time spent in the capital around master manipulators and schemers. But she couldn’t hide the look in her eye, the look of a woman falling in love. He wondered if this would make her decision easier. He doubted it. She wouldn’t be able to remove the emotion from the game this time, as she often counselled him to do. Only time would tell.

“My King, I am pleased to have to opportunity to converse with you alone,” Baelish interrupted Robb from his musings as he moved himself to the empty seat next to him without invitation, “I have some matters of importance I wish to discuss with you.”

“Is that so my Lord, do you not wish to enjoy the feast?” Robb said uninterestingly.

“There is no time like the present your Grace, although a fine feast it is…”

“My sister is remarkable at her duty,” Robb said proudly, as he smiled down at the spinning pair before him.

“Ahh yes,” he preened, “it is in fact the Princess I wished to discuss my King.”

Robb turned to look him in the face finally, he offered no reply. Wait him out, Sansa would say, he’ll give you more.

“She was a pretty and accomplished young girl, when I last saw her… but now, I don’t think there is a woman in all of Westeros that could rival her beauty and grace. I begged her you know, my King, to leave Kings Landing with me, but of course she was ever hopeful of your rescue…” He was a brave man, this Lord, to wish to wound him so harshly to his face, his aim to unnerve him he suspected, “should she have left with me she never would have been forced to marry the Imp, or to put her trust in someone as unseemly as the Kingslayer…”

Robb has been rewarded by his silence. Littlefinger blames her. He thinks she owes him.

Littlefinger is a fool.

“You may recall my many ravens… there will be talk my King, after her marriage to the Imp. I have always cared for her wellbeing…” he put his hand on his chest to emphasis just what a caring bastard he thought he was, “…what she needs is stability, to reassure her position…”

“Step carefully my Lord. My sister is the Princess of Winter, her position is secure through my position,” His façade had slipped, Robb was not as deft at this as Sansa and he clenched his fists tightly under the table to temper his self-control.

“Quite so, my King. For that reason, she needs a good match. This Targaryen boy…” he gestured with distain towards Sansa and Jon, who were happily and obliviously dancing before them, “…someone of such tainted blood is surely not worthy of such a rose.”

Robb could have laughed in his face. Of any man Robb had ever met, perhaps Jon alone had the honour and kindness and obvious devotion to be worthy of his sister.

“I will not warn you again, my Lord, that Targaryen you speak of shares my blood, eight thousand years of Stark blood…”

“Of course, of course, but we must not dismiss the Targaryen madness we know lurks beneath the surface,” he appraised Jon with careful, tight eyes, “he is surely not good enough for our sweet Princess…”

“Then who is my Lord? What is your council? Another man perhaps, a man from the Reach? A Northman? Perhaps an Umber? Perhaps a Wildling King,” he paused, play the game, find out what he wants, “…perhaps you?”

Petyr Baelish had the audacity to look shocked at his King’s suggestion, he sat back, eyes widening as he absorbed the words, the exact words he had been hoping to hear. Robb’s jaw clenched, Sansa was right, she always was, he was perhaps the most dangerous player he had encountered. He was a threat, to his sister, to his family, to his throne.

“My King, I am shocked and humbled you would consider me. I have suggested the matter in my missives to you, I am sure you recall, but I never thought you had considered me myself. As you know, it has not been long since your dear aunt Lysa met her gods, but I would consider carefully any request my king made of me. You know how deeply I cared for your mother, I’m sure such a match would have caused her great comfort, knowing there was someone who was able to care for the Princess, and keep her safe.”

Robb felt before he heard Greywind’s angry howl from the woods beyond the castle, he felt it rumble in his chest before it filled the air around him. Two halves they were, in life and death and his wolf could sense his rage from beyond the trees.

The howl of a wolf was not unheard of in the company of the King in the North. Many no longer even turned their head, to any Northman or Southerner it sounded like any other howl, but a Stark would no the difference. Ghost was already on his hackles in front of the high table and Sansa’s eyes caught his as Jon continued to spin her, her head chasing the movements to hold his gaze.

She could sense the anger in the wolfsong. She would know, above all others that something was amiss.

Robb turned away from his sister and stood slowly, towering over the Lord Protector of the Vale threateningly.

“My Lord let me be entirely clear with you…” Robb spoke, his voice low and deep, “Princess she may be, but my sister is not a toy to be passed to which ever nobleman deems himself worthy of her. Should my sister ever marry again, it will be of her own choosing. Should she decide to enter a match for an alliance, or to secure the safety of my kingdom, it will be of her own choosing, and I will happily squeeze the life out of any man who thinks differently with my bare hands.”

Robb did not wait for Baelish’s reaction as he stormed from the hall, in search of a sword and a tree to take his frustrations out on.

Perhaps Jon was not the only one who needed to learn to better school his emotions when it came to his sister.

Chapter Text

Sansa did not consider herself a devious person. Maybe she was, when duty called. She was selective with her words certainly, curious, outwardly calm even if she were screaming inside, icy, and did nothing that would cause a potential risk to her family or herself. Except perhaps this morning.

After breaking her fast in the Great Hall with her siblings and many of their guests, she now found herself walking the meandering path, deep in the trees towards Riverrun’s Godswood.

Her deception had come in the form of her lack of protection. Robb had specifically told her that her little jaunts without her Sworn Shields were no longer allowed. Despite the initial frustration this had caused her to feel, she understood his concern, especially following the arrival of Littlefinger. Hence why she felt somewhat guilty that her only companion as she made her way to meet the Targaryen Prince was of course, her dear, sweet Ghost.

It had been quite simple to orchestrate really. Brienne was sleeping, having stood outside her chambers all night. She had told Ser Jaime that the Hound was accompanying her on a walk. She had told Sandor that Ser Jaime had the honour today. She knew she would pay for it later, Ser Jaime would be livid and would likely never let her out of his sight again. But she couldn’t bring herself to care.

In fact, she would happily admit she rather liked sneaking around.

It was an exciting thought, to spend some time alone with Jon once again. They had mere moments together, yesterday in her Solar as she had tended to his wounds, and Sandor had been at the door! What had been even more exciting was the way he had made her feel, when he had spoken to her quietly in that deep, shiver inducing voice of his, when he had toyed with her skirt and taken a hold of her waist, his touch burning into her as he had ran his fingers across her stomach.

She had skirted dangerously close to impropriety. Her reputation was everything, but it had mattered little at the time. She understood it now, how people could succumb to such passion and risk everything for someone they… for someone.

But she wasn’t people. She was a princess with a kingdom. Family. Duty. Honour.

She had never felt this way about another man, not even when she had fancied herself in love with Joffrey. When she thought back to Joffrey forcing kisses on her with his wormy, pale lips it made her skin crawl and bile rise in her throat. But when she thought of the Prince, gods she wanted him to kiss her, for him to claim her lips with his. She had sat on the arm of his chair, tending to the wound on his neck and felt the heat from his body pour from him. She had been unable to take her eyes from the small patch of his chest she could see from the unlaced top of his tunic. She knew women wanted men, she was seven and ten, not dead, but she had never felt this… ache herself before.

To make matters worse, he had whirled into the feast last night, dressed all in black, like the night sky in her dreams, with his smouldering gaze and Ghost at his side with a flower behind his back, a flower he had then thread into her hair before demanding she dance with him. Sansa knew why he had done it, he had heard Littlefinger talking to her, his words still made her want to scrub her skin clean. Sansa liked to think she could handle herself, but there was something oddly reassuring about Jon’s behaviour. Was it jealously? Was it his cousinly duty?

She had practically skipped back to her chambers that night, with Sandor at her side. When she had been a girl at Winterfell, before they had even gone South, she had dreamed of a night like that night, where a handsome Prince would dance with her. She had felt… light, and young, younger than she had felt in years. Sandor had laughed at her, well it was more of an affectionate huff than a genuine laugh, but it was the best her growly Hound could muster, and he had told her she looked like a little bird he once knew and tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear like her father might have done once, and she could have cried with there and then.

She hadn’t felt so happy in such a while, especially not recently, when all she had wanted to do, and all she had done was cry.

Sansa was not accustomed to allowing herself long moments of weakness and emotional self-indulgence. She hadn’t been that way in some time. But since the confrontation with Daenerys she had made to sequester herself away, and in truth she had felt rather sorry for silly little Sansa.

It wouldn’t do. Her time railing at the injustice of the gods and crying in Arya’s arms was done. It wouldn’t change a thing. It was the most heroic thing she could do, to look the truth in the face.

Daenerys couldn’t have children. It was a cruel fact. No matter if Jon outlived the Dragon Queen or not, their children would succeed that ghastly, corrupting Southern throne of swords. If she wanted to secure everything they needed to defeat the Army of the Dead, or at least have a chance against them, this was the price.

The mere thought of returning to Kings Landing had brought on a wave of panic she had not since she had been reunited with Robb and Arya. What would the practicality of having to return there bring? She wasn’t a fool, she knew if she went through with this there had always been a chance she would have to return, but would the Prince want them to be there all the time? Would the Queen demand it?

Could she walk the steps of the Sept of Baelor again, where she had watched her dear father lose his head? Could she stand beside her husband one day, as he sat his throne, the very throne she had been stripped and beaten in front of?

Sansa recognised the irony of it all. She could picture herself married to Jon, if she was being honest, she had pictured things a true marriage between them would have when she had been alone in her chambers at night. The only man aside from her father and brother who had ever made her feel safe and wanted would have to return her to the place she had felt most in danger to be able to have her. She had never wanted Joffrey, not in the end anyway, she had never wanted Tyrion, that had almost made it much easier than this. That had been her duty, it was what was required of her for her safety or for the safety of her family. Things were often easier when feelings were removed from it.

She supposed this was her penance. She had been a fickle and selfish young girl, who thought she was destined to be a Queen, who had been desperate to leave the North and live the life of a Southern Lady, now perhaps she would get that wish.

Her time in the South had made her feel worthless, she hadn’t felt like a person in the end, not in her own right. She had been Sansa Stark, the Key to the North. Nothing more. She had been an opportunity, a chance at power. It was how Lord Baelish still viewed her when he drank her in with his hungry and grasping eyes. She had longed to be her own person and she had worked hard to make it so when she had escaped Kings Landing, Robb had enabled her more than most, as he did now. It would be her decision to make, no matter his kingdom, he would never hold it against her whatever she decided. The responsibility alone made her ache for someone to bloody tell her what to do again. She really was a fickle thing.

She had never thought about what she had, only what she wanted.

Deep down, she knew that flighty girl with her head in the songs still existed, no matter how hard she had tried to bury the tattered thing Cersei and Joffrey had left behind. For a few moments, she had believed maybe she could be happy, maybe she could have it all. She should never have been so naive. Women like her, born to great houses, from a line of the Kings of Winter that went back eight thousand years, well… women like her did not get the song. Women like her married for alliances, for their houses. Her mother and father had built their love, stone by stone, strong like the walls of Winterfell, most were not so lucky.

Ghost huffed and snuffled beside her, bumping himself into her side. It made her stumble a little on the path. She knew he was worried for her, he had been for days and he could likely sense her mind had been wandering to impossible decisions and wars and memories that were still so raw.

“It’s ok sweet one,” she whispered, dragging a hand through his fur as they walked. She had been looking forward to this, talking properly with Jon had been long overdue.

A small niggling part of her wondered how much Jon had known about the Queen’s plans for them. Sansa knew how to play the game better than most, was he part of it? The thought made her irrevocably sad.

She knew she would have to decide soon. War would come again, and it would bring Winter with it, whether they liked it or not. It would do no harm to seek the answers she craved now and she anxiously picked up her skirts and walked more determinedly into the woods.

She had worn her hair lose, albeit the two small braids that wrapped from behind her ears to the back of her head. Some of the strands flew wildly around her and snagged on a branch or bit of thicket here and there, but she didn’t care. She had worn a dress of deep purple, a heavy satin she could still wear despite the weather being chillier of late. The skirt was heavy and impractical for walking, but she liked it and hadn’t long finished it. The deep colour of the fabric made her skin look like porcelain and Robb had smiled fondly at the silver wolves she had embroidered into the cuffs at her wrists.

She felt feminine, and confident, well… as confident as woman who didn’t really have much idea what she was doing could feel.

Sansa and Ghost approached the entrance to the Godswood silently. She gave him a gentle push with her hand in silent permission and he padded happily into the clearing. It was much the same as it had always been. She had found herself taking a walk out to the Heart Tree most days since they had arrived. It wasn’t as large as the Godswood at Winterfell, the tree, although still giant in its stature was laughable compared to the one that graced her home. There was no pool where her father would have sat pensively at, there was no snow covering the ground. She loved the flowers though, which grew wild and free and mismatched around the end of the Godswood, she loved the greenness of it all, she loved the freshness of the air, which was almost sweet. Today, it looked no different than it had every other day she had come here to prey, except for the man who lay in the middle of the clearing, on a bed of thick grass, his head tilted up at the sky with his eyes closed and his hands behind his head.

He was remarkable. She had thought so since the moment she met him.

Sansa stood silently and appraised him for a few moments. He hadn’t noticed her arrival and he remained with his eyes closed, breathing steadily in and out. He looked content and happy. Gone was the anger he had held in his jaw last night in Lord Baelish’s presence, or the anguish in his eyes when he had confronted his aunt the other day. He just looked like… Jon.

She thought he might even be asleep as she began to approach him. She crept as quietly as she could, the lush grass silencing her foot fall. She sat gingerly on the ground next to him. She looked down at him and drank him in. He had such lovely hair, wild and lose and dark around his face, she resisted the urge to reach out and brush it from his forehead. He wore black breeches again and a dark grey doublet. There were no markings or sigils on it, he could be a normal man at first look, nothing setting him off as the Targaryen Prince the world had made him become.

She lay back on the grass and stared up at the opening in the canopy of the tress. The sky was blue, whipped with clouds that fluttered by. It was rather peaceful. She wondered how long they could get away with just laying here.

“I know you are there Princess.”

Sansa startled, she would have whacked him if it had been Robb or Theon to scare her like that. She turned her head a little and saw him smiling, his eyes still closed.

“I thought you were sleeping!” She whispered to him, she wasn’t sure why.

“I heard you coming a league away, you would make a terrible assassin,” he chuckled softly. His voice was hoarse from lack of use.

“I will endeavour not to join the Faceless Men then, my Prince,” she drawled sarcastically. She watched as one of his eyes cracked open and he tilted his head towards her.

“Now that’s a pretty smile,” he said softly.

Sansa felt herself blush and she returned her eyes back to the sky above them. She felt him turn on his side, propping himself up on an elbow so he could look down at her.

“I’m glad you came,” he murmured.

“I said I would,” she couldn’t help but smile.

“Are you well, Princess?” he looked at her in concern, she knew he wasn’t just asking out of courtesy. They hadn’t spoken about the confrontation in the council chambers with Daenerys, not during the heavy exchange in her solar with their lingering glances, not when he twirled her in his arms last night.

“I’m better, I think,” she settled simply.

“Will you be honest with me, Princess? Will you tell me what your thinking?”

It was an unusual situation as it stood, but even stranger still to have a Southerner so determined to have honestly between them. She wasn’t sure what he had kept from her early on, but she could understand, she had kept herself private enough when they were merely strangers. Could she be honest with him? Could she just be herself, no games, no tricks?

“There is a lot to consider, I suppose,” she swallowed thickly, continuing to stare up at the clouds, “Since I was old enough to remember I knew I would marry a Lord, or a Prince, so the notion of alliances and marriages is not an unusual one for me,” she sighed, “but I just panicked, once I realised… the thought of that Southern throne is not a pleasant one for me,” she tried to mask her grimace and failed, “I hated that place, I hated the things that were done to me there.”

“Robb told me…”

“I know,” she nodded to herself, “I asked him to,” she whispered.

She turned to face him then, he looked down at her with sadness in his kind, grey eyes. She wanted to smooth away the crease between his eyebrows with the pad of her thumb, which twitched anxiously at her side.

“If I could… if there was some way I could take all of that away, everything that happened to you…”

“But you can’t,” she said gently, offering him a small smile, “Robb lets it eat away at him, his misplaced guilt, but it won’t change anything. I am alive and I am safe for now… but it was important for me that you knew, all of it,” she said determinedly.

“Why?”

She sighed deeply, meeting his eyes once more, “because now you know… this is me,” she shrugged against the glass, “a beautiful disaster…”

He looked down at her like she was mad, utterly insane. It was almost laughable, not quite, but almost. He shook his head, almost to himself and reached down to gently touch a strand of her hair.

“Just beautiful, I think.”

She bit her lip and turned back to the sky.

“How much did you know, about your aunt? About all of it?”

She didn’t move to make out his reaction. She didn’t want to analyse why she wasn’t concerned with documenting every action, every word in her mind like she normally would, should they be another person, but she could sense him tensing beside her and he didn’t respond immediately.

“I didn’t know about the list of demands. I swear it to you, Princess. I didn’t know about the… examination,” he seemed to spit the word out when he mentioned the Queen’s wish to inspect her maidenhead, like it personally harmed him, “I didn’t know about her wanting to take any children we might have had, I would never tolerate something like that. I need you to believe me.”

“I do, I do believe you,” she said, because in that she did. There was no denying how much this discovery had upset him, how it had caused a rift between him and his aunt.

“But…” he began again, “I did know that Dany believed she could not bare children. I suppose I always doubted it, I would tell her all the time that she was young, and she could try again. I’m not an expert on such things,” he sighed, running a hand through his unruly hair, “maybe it was because I didn’t want to believe her. I don’t want to be a bloody King, but I knew… the moment I saw the list of her demands. For her to ask such things and for her advisors to allow it, for her to want to go to such lengths to secure her line…”

They lay there silently for a few moments. She did not offer a reply. She wasn’t too angry, she supposed. She knew what it was to want to believe something, to bury one’s head in the sand, she had done it enough. I want to marry Joffrey, and be his Queen, and have his babes. She had told many a lie before. She’d believed people were good and kind when deep down she knew they were not. Its easier to lie to yourself than to others.

He chuckled then to himself, he kept laughing for a few moments and she arched an eyebrow at him, “what’s so funny?”

“I was just thinking about how I didn’t want to come here, how I never wanted to get married. I just wanted to command our armies in peace and be with my men…”

“And now?” She asked.

He looked down at her again, his eyes boring into hers, “and now I never want to leave. I want to go further north, I want to feel the cold like never before, I want to see where my mother grew up, I want to see this Heart Tree you talk of, with bark as pale as your skin and leaves as bright as your hair… I want to never be apart from you Princess,” he swallowed thickly, releasing a deep breath, “I want to marry you,” he finished gently.

She couldn’t help the moisture that stung her eyes. She pressed her eyelids together to stay her tears and kept them closed, for fear of looking at him.

“Why?” She breathed.

She could just make out his heavy breathing beside her and the silence suffocated her.

“Please, I need to hear why you want to marry me…” she whispered again.

Sansa heard him huff a great breath next to her.

“Because I’ve never met anyone like you, I never wanted to wed and yet I met you and you made me want it anyway. You are kind to your bones, even when you pretend not to be, but I want that iciness you wear so well too, I covet it. You are witty and so, so damned clever it drives me insane. You’re a mystery to me, and I want to unravel every single thing you hide behind those pretty blue eyes of yours. I want you because you could have a crown, but you don’t want it, and that’s why you should have one. Because you look like a nymph of the forest, or a goddess, in your purple dress, lying on the grass like you are now. I want your pretty courtesies one minute and then I want your wildness and passion the next. I would happily have you shout at me till the end of my days. I want your laughter and your lips and your hair and… everything… anything you would give me…”

He sucked in the air around him and she could no longer resist her eyes from fluttering open and meeting his beautiful grey eyes, eyes that looked like winter but made her burn.

“That’s why,” he whispered, “not because you are a Northern Princess, not because of your claim or your title. People will always want to take from you, but I promise you I never will. I want you for you, just you, because when I look at you and Ghost I feel like I am home,” he leaned down closer to her and brushed a tear from her cheek with his thumb, “Because your eyes make me feel like I’m drowning and you are more beautiful that the world deserves. I’d marry you this very moment Princess, because I know you hate that people don’t see you, not really, only what your name can do for them, but despite all of that, despite how much it breaks your heart to be reduced to nothing but a name, you would consider marrying me for the safety it could bring your people, and your family… my family…”

He continued running his thumb back and forth across her cheek, capturing the little tears that fell there, as the revelation hit her that he knew her better than any other person, save her siblings. He had seen her, the real her, because he had wanted to, and he had looked hard enough.

“But gods,” Jon laughed bitterly, “whatever you do, don’t say yes because of dragons, or alliances, or thrones you despise, or my aunt, or your brother… I couldn’t bare it. Say yes in spite of all of that. Say yes only if it’s what you want…”

Sansa let her head fall back further into the pillow of grass and smiled, truly and freely like a girl who had not seen any of the horrors the world held as the Prince leaned just over her, still perched on one elbow at her side, with his over hand clutching at her cheek.

It was a rather lovely sensation she supposed, falling.

“Yes,” she mouthed, uttering the word near silently, like a prayer to the gods.

“What?” His eyes searched across her face, begging for her truth, as his hand disappeared into her hair.

“I said yes,” she laughed breathlessly, “yes, yes, yes.”

In years to come Sansa would never be able to say for certain who reached for who first. All she knew if that he buried his hand further into her copper hair, she pulled him close, fisting the fabric against his chest in her hand as their lips met and he kissed her. He – just – kissed – her. Just like she had always wanted, just like she had dreamed about long ago, about now nameless Knights and all those that had come before that no longer mattered.

Only he mattered. Just Jon.

He was real, as was the gentle touch of his lips against hers, and the heat of his mouth as he nipped at her lip, under the pressure of his blissful body pressing into hers, as his hand clutched at the locks of her hair like it was liquid gold. She had sighed into his mouth and felt the dizzying softness of his tongue against hers and knew she would never again want another to kiss her till the end of her days, there was only him.

“Sansa,” he whispered into her mouth and she felt his smile against her lips, “my Sansa,” he sighed, pressing their foreheads together as they caught their breath.

“I’ve never heard you say my name before…” She spoke shyly as she ghosted her nose against his.

“I haven’t felt worthy, not until now… I’ll spend my days trying to be worthy of you.”

She reached her hand up and ran it through his curls, just like she had always wanted to, and she felt him relax into her touch. He looked down at her like she was something rare and fragile and frightening and imagined she was looking at him in much the same way.

“Ghost is happy for us, I think,” Jon whispered gently as he stroked her hair. She followed his gaze and watched as the direwolf ran and rolled in the grass, playing like she hadn’t seen him play since he had been a pup in Winterfell.

Sansa laughed freely, throwing her head back happily into the grass once more as her Prince leant down to kiss her gently on the lips, once, twice, thrice.

“Marry me, my Sansa…” he said against her lips, “be my wife… Tell me yes once more, so I know I’m not dreaming…”

She bit her lip and closed her eyes once more, titling her head up towards the sky as the breeze danced lazily around them in the Godswood, their Godswood…

“Yes.”

Chapter Text

Missandei has been lacing her into her long coat. She had adorned her white thick breeches in anticipation of riding out to see her children. Daenerys had taken to her chambers, so annoyingly gifted by the King and his sister for the last few days and ached for freedom, feeling tamed and coddled by the castle walls.

Dragons were prone to melancholy. Her brother, Rhaegal had been known to slip into periods of soberness and reflection, just like Jon, and her mood in the last few days had been no different.

Her original anger at her own short-sightedness had waned. Now she just felt sad and trapped and she longed to climb Drogon’s back and take to the skies for the relief it may cause her.

Dany, despite the warnings from Lord Varys and her Lord Hand, had grossly underestimated the Starks of the North. She had not anticipated just how much a brother could care for a sister. What had Sansa Stark done to inspire such devotion and protection from Robb Stark? Viserys had sold her for an army of Dothraki once, yet here they remain, trapped in this gods forsaken damp land full of nothing but rivers whilst she was made to wait… to wait for the Princess Sansa to decide the future fate of her dynasty.

She had been half inclined to demand Jon leave with her immediately, once she had finally admitted that she could never bare a babe of her own, and order him to marry some simpering, Southern wretch that would come to heel.

Dany knew however, now more than ever that could never be. In her blindness she had not anticipated perhaps the most important factor of all. Jon had fallen for his Northern Maiden.

Jon, who had never so much as courted a woman before was half mad with love and lust. Jon who had secreted the occasional woman into his chambers like it was a great sin, like his Targaryen passion was something that should not be worn as a badge of honour.

Her dear, kind, brave nephew looked at Sansa Stark in the same way she had come to look at Drogo, like she was the sun and the stars. Jon was the last constant in Dany’s life. Everyone else had found them along their way, knowing that she was deserving, and she would save them, and they would love her. Others had left them along their journey back to the shores of Westeros, Viserys, Drogo, her unborn babe. Gone. But Jon had never left her, he had stood by her side always and now he couldn’t even bare to look at her.

She should have known. Her brother had gone to war for a Stark girl once. Why should his son be any different?

She would have to come to love her, the Stark Princess, if she agreed to the union that is, if she had agreed to what was best for them all, the Targaryen’s, noble and pure and worthy. Dany had taken two days to realise that should she make him chose between Jon’s devotion to her and his perfect, pale, demure little lady, she could very well lose. How? It was still laughable to her. Dany and Jon were family, he was blood of her blood, bound together by the magic of Old Valyria. They were dragons. The last dragons. The Stark girl could only pale in comparison to that, she should have been a means to an end, a wife, a duty, nothing more.

But she could see it clearer now, how the two halves of Jon battled against one another. The Dragon and the Wolf. Two creatures who had no right to be in one another’s company. Jon had always had fire in him, just like her, he just tempered it where she embraced it, but he had always been quite too, observant and loyal beyond belief. A wolf in waiting. She could see how the Dragon and the Wolf butted heads, fighting for dominance in him. She could see it in the way he would automatically turn himself towards the Starks when they were in the same room. She could see it in the way he would sit silently, but reverently when Ser Arthur had recounted tales of Eddard and Lyanna and honour and god’s in trees throughout their childhood. The wolf was winning… and it made her sick.

She had overplayed her hand. Dany had listened and been manipulated by words like comely enough, and submissive, and weak. Sansa Stark was none of those things. Dany would never let her so called wretched advisors lead her astray again. No, a Dragon had their senses, she would use hers.

She knew she would never have the children she wanted, to raise as she wanted. The Stark girl had said no, and now her bewitched nephew would never agree. His goodness riled her at times, and she loved it the next.

Dany had missed him these last few days. She had not sought him out and he had not come to her, not like he normally would, just like her sweet Jorah he would always be there to comfort her in times of trouble, his absence had disappointed her and was just another reminder that she would need to work hard to rebuild his trust and bring him back to her side. Dany would need to keep him closer than ever. Perhaps if they were happy enough in Kings Landing their children would be near enough to be under her influence, to learn their own greatness, to become the Dragons they were destined to be.

All of this of course, depended on the head of the Princess of Winter. Winter. Gods she hated the word. The coolness of the air seeped into her bones more and more each day, the longer they stayed here. She could only imagine what is was like in Winterfell. She would be damned if any heirs of hers were subjected to such misery.

“All done, your Grace,” Missandei said softly as she tied the final lace of her long coat.

“Thank you my friend, I think I might seek out Jon, to see if he will come to see my children with me, it has been some time for him, I would imagine,” she furrowed her brow.

A knock of her chamber door stalled her from continuing and Missandei fluttered towards it.

“It is the King, your Grace, he would like to speak with you.”

Dany nodded her consent once. She had half been expected a visit to her chambers from the King in the North, many men had sought entry to her chambers and her bed over the years, but never a King and it made her wonder how he would compare, and he may have been a king, but he was still just a man. She would have let him of course, he was handsome without doubt and she wanted to know if she could strip the seriousness from his face, but one look at his furrowed brow and the stern set of his features confirmed he was not in anyway here for such a thing, this was not the face of a man seeking her bed and her fire.

“Your Grace,” he nodded to her, hands clasped behind his back, standing like a soldier, broad and commanding.

“Your Grace, to what do I owe the pleasure? I was just about to go and see my children,” she was a Queen, the wants and wishes of others were not of consequence to her.

“I am afraid you may need to delay your visit to your… to the dragons, your Grace. We have been summoned…” he began dryly.

“Summoned?” She couldn’t help but laugh, “and who had summoned both a King and a Queen?”

“Would you like to guess?” He was smiling. Such a lovely smile. But she knew it wasn’t for her. He wasn’t even looking at her, but smiling softly, his eyes rich in fondness towards the ceiling, where fish danced and jumped happily in the ornate carvings.

She hummed, “your sister, one could only imagine,” she had once again failed to keep the distain from her face and the bark from her lips.

“Yes, your Grace. Take no offence, she has been summoning me to her side since her third name day, and we have been asked to my own solar, no less,” he said brightly. She merely raised a brow in response before she watched his features sharped once more, the seriousness returning to the set of his jaw and he stood a little straighter, “I believe she has something of great importance to discuss with us, something that I am sure will matter deeply to both of our kingdoms,” he sighed deeply, his eyes flicking back once more to the fish decorating the rooms.

“Very well,” she admitted in defeat.

He seemed to misunderstand her tone and mood, “who would ever want a crown, your Grace?”

“I was born to be a Queen, it was my destiny,” she bit back, almost like a reflex. She had used it to defend herself too much over the years.

The King merely shrugged before her, like her birth right was nothing of consequence, “and I was chosen, we all have our burdens… come, your Grace, I will escort you myself.”

She took his proffered arm. If he felt the warm from her burning touch, he made no mention of it. Disappointing. She felt so very small next to him as he led her through the wide halls of Riverrun.

“It seems your sister has great power, your Grace,” she said, as they reached the final hall leading to his solar.

“How so?” He asked, he looked genuinely curious.

“It seems her decision whether to wed my nephew or not has the power to change the fate of kingdoms.”

“Aye, it does, and it breaks my heart that it is so…” he whispered to the walls around them.

The King nodded once to the Northern guards that flanked either side of his chamber door and pushed his way in. Sansa Stark was seated in front of the King’s desk with her hands clasped softly in her lap.

She went to rise from her seat, but her brother waved her off, she smiled softly at him and smoothed her skirts. The Northern Princess was a lovely thing, only a fool would deny it, but it was the blush gracing her cheeks and the brightness in her blue eyes that made her beautiful. Where Dany’s beauty was fierce and intimidating, the Stark girl was soft, delicate and snow kissed.

“Brother,” she said quietly before turning her head in the Queen’s direction, “your Grace,” she offered in greeting, “thank you for coming…”

“It appeared I had little choice,” Dany couldn’t help but bristle, “it has been many years since I have been summoned anywhere…”

Dany heard Jon’s deep sigh from the back of the room. She hadn’t even noticed him, so lost in the Stark Princess when she had first arrived in the room. He was standing by the window, watching the rain fall outside and tracing wistful patterns in the condensation on the glass.

Jon turned to meet her gaze, they hadn’t spoken in days, but one look in his eyes and she knew without a doubt why she was here.

She whipped her head back to the King in the North, who in her distraction had taken his seat at his desk and was smiling ruefully at his sister, who was resolutely looking at her lap, a small smile gracing her lips.

“Do you have something to tell us, my sweet sister?”

“I do,” she said simply, Dany tracked Jon’s movements as he left his vantage point from the window and came to stand just behind the Stark girls chair, “this morning, the Prince asked me to marry him… and I said yes.”

Dany’s eyes remained locked on her nephew as she had spoken, observing the way his thumb skirted soothingly across the back of the Princesses dress. He had asked her? No, it was Dany who had wanted this union and Dany who had demanded it.

The King offered no comment. He sat straighter in his chair, his eyes flicking between his sister and Jon, who met his gaze sombrely.

“And this is what you want? You are certain?” He whispered quietly, only to his sister.

Sansa stood slowly from her chair, walking around the desk and coming to stand next to her brother, taking his hand in hers as she looked down at him, “very much so, my King.”

The King stood quickly, pushing back his chair with sudden force and pulled the Princess into his arms, lifting her from the floor. He laughed in abandonment as he swung her around. To Dany, they looked like children, young and carefree and happy. Had she even considered such an occasion would be anything more than a pact of mutual political benefit to them?

He released her gently before leading her by the hand back towards Jon and embracing him in a similar fashion, so free and easy with their affections as they slapped one another on their backs. The King pulled back and looked at Jon at arm’s length, “you are my cousin, you are my family, but I will be glad to call you brother.”

Dany railed back in shock as the party before her continued to forget her presence. It was a funny thing, to be a Queen and to be ignored.

Jon nodded his head quickly, his brow furrowed as he addressed the King, “I would do anything for her,” he said lowly, “it’s important that you know that, I will keep her safe and care for her and give her anything she wanted…”

“Aye, I know you will Jon. You don’t need it, but you have my blessing,” he said as he released him and turned back to the Princess who was observing them with a small smile on her lips.

Dany felt her frustration bubble over. Blessing? Care? Want? Brother?

“I’m very happy for you sister, if this is what you truly want, you know I will always support you…”

“This isn’t about what anyone wants,” Dany interrupted with a bark.

“Be happy for me aunt, please,” Jon whispered, finally coming to her side where he belonged and he took her hand, kissing the back of it gently, “this is what you wanted…”

“What I wanted was an alliance with the North, there are still discussions to be had regarding that. Once our position is finalised, we can celebrate, personal happiness will always come after our Dynasty Jon, you know that.”

Jon dropped her hand as his eyes flashed, grey flecked with indigo for just a second as his features darkened.

“My Prince,” the Princess whispered gently, like a caress, “the Queen may be right on one matter… we should formalise the…” she paused and seemed to struggle with the word, “terms… of the alliance our marriage will bring.”

She turned back to the King and took her seat once more. The King gestured to the seat next to the Princess, but Dany waved him off in irritation and began pacing the room, “let us begin then.”

“The Prince and I do have some counter-conditions that are not negotiable,” the Stark girl said innocently.

“More conditions? Not negotiable?” Dany seethed, “I have been more than reasonable with my requests, if you wish to wed my nephew at all…”

“Your original requests were completely unreasonable your Grace, hence why we are all still here,” The King said with an annoyed flourish of his hand.

“If that is the case, perhaps I should take my dragons and return to my throne, let me know how you fare against these dead creatures you fear so much.”

“Dany,” Jon chuckled darkly, “should anyone try and stop me from making the Princess my wife… have no mistake, I will take her, and Rhaegal and fly as far North as North goes, I will take her beyond the Wall and…” he paused, glancing down at the Princess in her chair, “what is it called again Princess?”

“Steal,” she replied haughtily as the King barked out a laugh.

“Clever girl, that’s right, I will steal her away like one of those Wildlings.” He didn’t even have the courtesy to meet Dany’s eye any longer as his gaze lingered on the woman in her pretty purple dress and her copper hair.

“Which… I might add,” the Princess began, “would be awfully inconvenient, because I am quite accustomed to my castles, and my brother will be forced to march on the Wall to avenge my honour, if Arya doesn’t get the Prince first… and you, your Grace, would be without your nephew and a dragon.”

How could they jape and jest with her? Did they not know she was a dragon, one of only two remaining Targaryen’s in the world?

“What – do tell me – are your conditions…” Dany managed to speak through gritted teeth.

“The original terms of the alliance still stand, I will marry the Prince to secure your full support and aid in the war to come. Any children we have, and subsequent heirs, will be under our care. We of course, will listen to advice from our family, that includes all of you,” she looked directly at Daenerys, “my family has always been an important part of my life, your Grace, and I would not seek to keep my children from any of their kin, but they will be ours to raise as we see fit. We will also not make a decision regarding how we will share our time between each kingdom or where we will live until after the War for the Dawn, there is too much as stake and much to be done, I will be needed in the North for a time, to aid my brother and his people,” she saw the Stark girl register to look of disdain Dany knew she was failing to mask, “I do, however, recognise, that as the heir, the Prince, and myself by extension, will need to spend time in the South and on occasion Kings Landing, this will be a great hardship for me but I understand it will not be avoidable.” The Princess came to a pause and slowly turned to each person assembled before her.

“I take no issue with anything you have discussed sister,” the King nodded from his seat.

“You will marry as soon as possible,” Dany countered, she had delayed long enough. She wanted out of this dreary place that was too green and too new, “I have been here longer than I thought, and I wish to return to my kingdom before the war.”

“That is fair your Grace, perhaps we could wed here my King?” She turned back to her brother again, “I wish for us to be first married in a Godswood, before the Old Gods. Ideally, I would have preferred this to be in Winterfell, but it will take to long to organise and move everyone there. When we return South, I am more than happy to have another ceremony in a Sept in the Southern fashion, it may appease some of your Southern Lords, if it is the Prince’s wish…”

“I have my wish,” he whispered simply.

Robb shock his head with a smile on his face, “very well, the Godswood at Riverrun. We shall prepare a wedding as quickly as we can. I will have a treaty drawn up and you and your advisors can of course examine it…”

“Well then, it seems I have little choice,” Dany breathed.

She would agree for now, and celebrate in private that she had what she wanted in park, a Stark Princess as a bride, who would be bound to a Targaryen, who was also heir to the Northern kingdom at this moment, who would soon be her subject by marriage and under her influence, who would soon see that she was kind and just and only hoped to break the wheel, who would give her heir after heir, dragon after dragon. Yes, if she bid her time, she might soon have it all.

Chapter Text

On the whole, Jon supposed being betrothed was rather nice. He was quite happy it would be a short one, the King had tasked his Princess with arranging their wedding to take place just a sennight after their betrothal. She had gladfully and confidently accepted his command, getting to work immediately, most surprisingly, with Theon Greyjoy as her brother in arms, so to speak.

It was also rather frustrating, although he was most grateful to know that in several short days the Princess would be his wife and in his bed, the lack of build up made her suddenly even more busy than normal, which had made it difficult to spend anytime with her, and certainly not alone.

They had not been alone since they had lain amongst the flowers in the Godswood, since he had asked her to be his lady wife, since she had said yes, and since he had kissed her.

I was no small thing, kissing Sansa Stark, in fact, he was quite certain he would never know anything like having her small body pressed against his, with his hands tunnelling in the perfection they called hair, whilst he worshipped her lips. His Princess had kissed him back and he had begged her to be his.

For the rest of his days there would never be another like her. His Princess. His Sansa.

She had remained the constant host in the days since he was last alone with her, as she flitted around the castle at Riverrun, organising the festivities for when they would be wed. There had been no stolen moments in the time since, much to his chagrin. He was grateful on one hand, he would have no one question her honour, but by the gods he wanted her.

He had been quite busy himself, dodging his aunt’s steps and attempts to lecture him on what kind of wife he should instruct the Princess to be, for his aunt was adamant they would make a Targaryen out of his Northern bride. He had laughed in her face before Ser Arthur had dragged him away. He doubted she would ever be a Targaryen, his wife to be was all Stark, and he adored her for it.

In the days leading up to their wedding he had also contended with accepting advice and instructions from many of the Princesses staunch followers, and when he said advice, he really meant clearly expressed threats.

The Lady Brienne had glared at him with approach as she told him he had a look of honour about him, but if he ever made her doubt it, he would be damned to all seven hells, and she would see to it personally. He had taken her warning with as much grace as possible, he would come to admire anyone who would swear themselves to the lady he would soon call wife. The Hound’s warning had been somewhat more colourful and involved a rather detailed description about how he would slowly remove his entrails whilst he still breathed before letting the Direwolves eat them before his very eyes if he ever hurt his little bird. After some initial bristling Jon had declared he would happily consent to such treatment if he ever caused the Princess any harm, that had earned him a grunt and a sharp nod of the head from the scarred man.

Another such warning was on the horizon, and this one was perhaps the realest of them all.

“Jon,” his small companion made herself known after sneaking up on him yet again as he stood on the battlements, watching Rhaegal appear like a dot on the skyline from his great distance.

“Arya Underfoot, do you never make any noise?” Jon grumbled as his heart settled back to a somewhat normal rate.

“No,” she shrugged simply, hands clasped behind her back as she observed the horizon with him, “it is much easier to find the truth in someone when they do not know you are watching,” she said sagely, her voice thick with the wisdom of a girl who spoke with far too much maturity for one so young, he supposed that is what happened when you are forced to flee a city alone after watching your father lose his head.

He sighed, “so tell me cousin, what is your assessment of me?”

He watched out of the corner of her eye as she grinned at him and she bumped his arm with hers.

“I think you are good Jon, and kind, and I think you seem happy here…” he furrowed his brow as she continued, “I think you worry for your aunt, and that you think she will not love for you if you displease her… but the love of family should be unconditional Jon, should you displease her, she should love you all the more in spite of that. That is what family does…”

“That may be what the Starks do,” he couldn’t help but interrupted.

“You’re a Stark too,” he scowled at him, “and don’t bloody forget it. Half Stark, and soon you will be my brother, mine and Robb’s, although it feels as though you already are,” Jon whipped his head as he heard her respond with conviction, her grey eyes so much like his were heavy with sincerity.

“You mean that, don’t you,” he said as he put his hand on her shoulder.

“Aye, stupid, I mean it. You are part of our pack now Jon… but,” she paused, swallowing thickly, as if the words caused her pain, “I know you are kind, and good, but I have known men who thought themselves the same, Sansa has known them even more so…”

He drew her closer to him, resting his hands on the tops of her little arms.

“… If you ever cause her any pain, even by accident, know that not only would I repay that pain ten-fold, you would also break my heart,” she looked down at the floor for a beat before raising her watery eyes to his, “and Robb’s too. We are trusting you with the most precious thing we have, and we have faith in you, Robb would not agree to such a match if we did not believe in you and how much you care for her, but more importantly, you would never forgive yourself if you hurt her, it would break your own heart too.”

He had let her finish, she could have her moment to say what she needed to say. He leant forward and kissed her forehead gently.

“Little sister,” he grinned, “I know you are fierce, I know you are loyal and you protect your pack, I know you could kill me no quicker than you could look at me, Robb too, and Lady Brienne, the Hound, Ser Jaime, any Northman who breathed air, not to mention the bloody Direwolves she coos so sweetly over… but I vow to you, I will worship the ground she walks on till my dying day… and I would sooner carve out my own heart and offer it to the tree she preys too before I would hurt her.”

She appraised him for a while, it could have been minutes as she stared solemnly into his eyes, before her face split into a wolfish grin and she smacked him across his crown.

“Alright, you bloody idiot, no need to go on about it. She’ll make a Northern fool of you yet, you’re so wrapped around her pretty little finger already,” she sighed, “you’ll never know a moments peace again, you know that don’t you?” she smiled at him.

“I bloody hope so,” he laughed, her mood infectious.

“and you can call me little sister,” she continued, although much shyer that her previous bravado, “I quite like it, and I much prefer it to Underfoot,” she said, pulling him into a quick, fierce hug before pushing him back.

“Whatever you say, Underfoot.”

“Right that’s it, Training Yard, ten minutes, daggers only, your stance needs work,” she barked.

“As you command, sweet sister,” he said bowing theatrically as she scowled at him, “let me return to my chambers to fetch my dagger, I cannot hope to be a Northern fool with such a terrible stance.”

Jon slunk off quickly into the depths of the castle, tracking his way back to his chambers with an irritating grin on his face, he knew he looked the fool, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Sansa Stark had agreed to be his wife, a woman beyond his own imaginings, the Maiden reborn. And now Robb and Arya had proclaimed him brother.

He was a lucky man indeed, to know the love of the Starks.

As Jon trudged back to his chambers, his good luck appeared to continue to increase as he came upon Ser Jaime trailing behind the woman who had turned his dreams into flashes of milky skin and flaming hair. His Sansa.

“Princess,” he spoke softly, unable to fight the grin and she startled at his sudden appearance, a rosy blush staining her cheeks.

“My Prince,” she replied breathily, “I did not expect to see you,” she said shyly, looking up at him through her eyelashes, she could bring him to his knees in a moments notice if she commanded it.

“Gods, how many years has it been since a lady greeted me so sweetly?” Ser Jaime sighed sarcastically from the lazy position he had taken up against the stone wall, in all honestly Jon had quite forgotten he was there.

It was a funny thing, to be in the presence of the man who had slain his grandfather. It had taken Jon all of a moment after Ser Arthur had first introduced him to know he did not care. Ser Arthur and the Lannister had embraced like brothers the first time they reunited, and the man had taken care to remain at a distance, especially when Dany was nearby. He could only assume his lack of emotion about the Lannister’s actions was for two reasons, the first in that he could not find sympathy for the grandfather he had never known that courted madness and cruelty, and the second reason, being that the man was clearly completely and utterly devoted to his Princess and her safety.

Ser Jaime’s irritated cough brought them back to themselves, as he realised they had been staring at one another heatedly for a few moments.

“Gods this is painful,” the Knight grumbled, “must I do everything myself?” He released a long suffering sigh as he turned to his charge, “Princess, it appears I have left my cloak back in your Solar, silly me, I must return and collect it at once, save the Hound steals it away from me, there is only room enough for one dashing Knight in the Winter Roses Guard,” he grinned like a feline at both of them, “you have two minutes,” he winked before turning on his heal and paced back down the length of the hallway.

Before Jon was able to register this change of events and plan a way of paying homage to Ser Jaime Lannister of all people, for affording them these moments alone, his Princess had grabbed him by the front of his jerkin, pulling him towards her as her back rested against the stone wall.

“What are you doing?” Jon whispered as he ghosted his knuckle against her cheek, fighting for some semblance of self-control.

“What does it look like? I have need of your lips, my Prince…”

He swallowed the rest of her reply as he cupped the side of her face and dragged her lips to his, kissing her passionately, far more so than their tender, almost reverent kisses in the Godswood. She did not seem to mind as she surrendered to him, fisting his front as her warm, soft curves relaxed into him.

Gods she was perfect.

“I wish you would call me Jon,” he murmured against her mouth, swollen and dark from his bruising kiss.

“That would be most improper my Prince,” she challenged, raising an eyebrow at him coyly.

“Oh, and this isn’t?” He teased, splaying a hand on the small of her back and dragging her closer by way of demonstration of their current state, not that he was really complaining.

“We can stop if you want,” she suggested, although there was little conviction in her tone, and he would likely never stop unless she asked him to, not if the castle was under siege and crumbling around them.

“Never,” he sighed, kissing the corner of her mouth.

“Right answer, my Prince…”

“…Jon,” he corrected her whilst running his nose against hers and resting one hand on her waist. She shook her head at him and smiled teasingly, “…I will just have to convince you then, sweet girl.”

She shivered at the endearment. There would be plenty more of those once they were wed, he would call her anything she wanted as long as she sighed breathily and smiled as she did in his arms. He continued his path of slow, gentle kisses along her jaw, towards her neck.

“My, my…” A small voice sounded behind them as Jon released her quickly and turned towards the noise. Of course, fucking Baelish. Jon positioned himself slightly in front of Sansa and stared down the man.

He couldn’t explain it, but the moment he had first laid eyes on the man he hadn’t trusted him. The way his small eyes seem to follow the Princess whenever they were in the same room unsettled him. Lord Baelish looked at her the way Daenerys had first looked at the Iron Throne, like it was something to be taken, to be conquered.

He hated the man.

“Lord Baelish,” Jon nodded, his voice cold.

“A happy day,” he greeted, “young love… you know, you quite remind me of your father, my Prince. He was quite enamoured with a Stark girl out of his reach once, I forget how that ended up…” he said, placing a thoughtful hand to his chin.

“You bastard…”

“My Lord,” Sansa interrupted, and Jon registered a calming hand on his arm, “The Prince was just escorting me to my Uncle Brynden, we mustn’t keep him waiting,” she said sweetly. Jon felt himself relax under her touch.

“I am sure, he is a fine escort, but… perhaps it may be more appropriate for me to escort you Princess, as a dear friend of your Mother’s, it would be more… seemly,” he said, as his eyes ran up and down the pair in front of him, “I have been most desperate for us to catch up my dear, it has been too long, but I have been unable to get you alone for even a moment…”

“I am afraid that will not change…” Jon took a step closer to them man.

“My Prince,” Sansa whispered, her grip tightening on his arm.

“Baelish!” Ser Jaime’s armour clattered and clanged as he paced in long strides back up the hallway, returning to them as promised.

“Ser Jaime,” Littlefinger tipped his head towards him, “it has been years.”

“Indeed, it has, Mockingbirds live longer than most, it would seem…” Jon felt Ser Jaime’s hand clap down on his shoulder, “you will have to excuse us, we are needed elsewhere… I believe one of your Knights of the Vale is looking for you in the Great Hall,” Ser Jaime lied easily.

“Of course, excuse me,” he paused as he walked by Sansa, “think on what I said, sweetling, it would be so nice for us to catch up on old times.” Jon felt the hand on his shoulder pull him back as he meant to move towards Sansa.

“Good day, Lord Baelish,” Sansa said, before stepping back to allow him to pass her by.

“Calm down, son,” Jaime whispered as they waited for Littlefinger’s figure to retreat. Once he was out of sight Sansa sighed and rubbed her temples.

“You need to learn to school your emotions better, my Prince,” she said haughtily.

“I was fine,” he grumbled.

Ser Jaime barked out a laugh, “if you say so Dragon Prince, you looked like that beast that is named for your father,” he released his shoulder and turned to his Princess, “I don’t like it thought, little wolf, Baelish grows more brazen by the day, I wont be able to leave you alone anymore, not even for a minute to whisper sweet nothings to your Prince here…”

She crossed her arms and huffed, a delicious pout gracing her lips, it would be funny if it wasn’t so arousing.

“I suppose you are right,” she sighed, “he has been worse since our betrothal was announced,” she said quietly, turning to Jon.

“If he touches you….”

“Then I will kill him myself,” Ser Jaime interrupted, “there will be quite the queue of people waiting to see that wretch fed to the wolves, nothing will happen to your Princess, you have my word.”

Jon nodded in return, although he still wasn’t thrilled. The sooner they were wed, and he could be by her side always, the better.

“Don’t worry yourself my Prince,” Sansa said, slipping her hand into his, “Winter is coming for Lord Baelish, and it will be here soon enough.”