Sansa was standing in front of the court, down in the center like she'd done so many times now. Her hands were laced in front of her, and though she kept her posture relaxed and her back straight, she knew how cruel Joffrey could be even with Margaery holding most of his impulses back.
"You've been very good to the crown during the war, Lady Stark," he said, clearly a line he'd had to memorize from someone else. The only ‘goodness’ she’d had to the crown was not betraying them, something no one had expected. "It is long since time you be married. As a reward for your loyalty, you may choose your husband from any of my unmarried knights or lords of the court. Name them now and it will be so." If the little smirk on his face hadn't given away that that wasn't part of the plan, the way Cersei clenched her jaw would have done it.
Sansa now had to choose one of Joffrey's sycophants to shackle herself too, and everyone that thrived under his command was either cruel, or smart and cruel (like Littlefinger). She wished she could refuse, but that would undo all the success she'd managed in recent years. Her eyes flitted around quickly, saying a mental prayer to the old gods asking for guidance. She glanced over the King's Guard, then shot back. The law prohibiting them from marrying had been lifted, and the Hound was still unwed. He looked out of place in his white and golden uniform with his scraggly hair and sword that had seen more action than the rest of the King's Guard combined. He was not handsome, but he no longer scared her. He was the only person in the capital to ever protect her. Perhaps it was from a sense of duty or an order that had been given to him, but he'd done it all the same. "If it pleases Your Grace," she said, dipping into a curtsy, "I would wed Ser Sandor Clegane."
A beat of pure silence.
Margaery set a light hand on Joffrey's arm and whispered something in his ear. When she leaned back, he appeared cooperative, though his thumb was rubbing against the ring on his first finger the way he did when things did not go his way. "Very well, Lady Stark. I find your request in order. Queen Margaery will oversee the details as a testament to your friendship, and of course, the Queen's generosity." He gave a nod to dismiss her, and Sansa curtsied again before walking to the side of the room where the other lords and ladies were loitering. Many of them were staring outright, and the others were looking with little more subtlety. She kept her head high and continued looking towards the throne like nothing had happened.
"The fuck are you playing at little bird," he growled.
Sansa startled, nearly pricking her finger on her sewing needle. "It's called needlepoint, surely you've seen women doing that before."
"Everyone in the damn capitol knows that the women I bed are paid for their time."
"Hm. I don't suppose I could talk you out of doing that once we're married? It seems the only husband I know of that refused was my father."
"I'm not going to stop fucking just to remind you of your damned father."
"Why in seven hells would you assume I want you to stop entirely?" she asked mildly, not looking up from what she was doing.
Sandor snorted harshly. "It's a good thing you're talking to me and not some other man, he'd think that was an invitation."
"It was, rather. Perhaps I'll work on being more direct with you so that there is no misunderstanding on our wedding night."
He stared at her in disbelief for a long moment, then turned around and left, his armor clanking loudly against the stone.
"To the bedding!"
"No," Sandor spit out, that vicious bite to his voice that often preceded someone's guts spilling out of them.
Joffrey was the king, and before that he'd been a spoilt prince-- he wasn't used to people telling him no; he came up short.
"Does anyone here really doubt that I'll do it?" The answer was a resounding no. Sansa was poking idly at the remains on her plate, not reacting to what was being said even though every person there could hear what was happening and they knew that she could as well, what with Sandor being directly at her side and all. He picked up his drink and downed the rest of it. "Come on," he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her with him as he stood up. Fortunately, she'd been expecting something like that so she didn't make a mess. She dropped her fork and was able to get her skirt out of the way of the chair. She wasn't quite an expert on navigating the way he man-handled her, but she was sure she'd master it before the year was out.
Despite Sandor's declaration that no one was going to watch them, there were a few brave stragglers that peeked around corners and tried to follow them as silently as possible. Their attempts hardly mattered though, because Sandor slammed a bar over their bedroom door before any of them were in spitting distance. He was practically shaking with rage, shoulders tight and expression twisted into a scowl.
"I must admit, I didn't think you'd be so angry about this." She’d been stripped half naked and beaten in front of the entire court before, this was only a step further. Sansa had of course dreaded the event, but she had mentally prepared herself for it.
He glared at her. Once, it would have made her flinch. She used to be so terrified of him, but now it was difficult-- if not impossible-- to muster up that emotion. "Get on the fucking bed."
With a mental shrug, she started undoing the ties at the side of her dress. She doubted that he noticed the embroidered three hounds intermingling with Stark wolves, but she had made an effort.
In a quick motion, he was in front of her, so close she could smell the wine in his breath. His hand was like iron on hers, preventing her from continuing to take off her wedding gown. "What in seven hells are you doing."
"Getting undressed?" she said, raising an eyebrow. "I'm sure your usual bed mates keep their skirts on for ease, but I don't plan on leaving this room until morning so staying dressed seemed rather pointless."
He just stared at her incredulously.
Since it didn't look like he was going to let go of her hand so she could continue undressing, she leaned forward and kissed him. He jerked back, so shocked that he let go of her and actually took a step back like he was afraid of what she might do next. Figuring that she might as well take advantage of the situation, she went back to untying the side of her dress. She was glad she'd made it this way since clearly no one else was going to help her take it off. He didn't move again until after she finished, pushing the dress off so it fell to the floor in a heavy heap.
She felt nervous being so exposed in front of him. The only people that had seen her with so little on in this way had been either family or handmaidens, and Sandor was very clearly neither of those. She wanted him to think she was confident with herself and her body, so she continued to look at him the same as she'd done with her dress firmly on her shoulders. Nerves teased in her stomach though, a constant reminder that although she'd been briefly married to Lord Tyrion, they had never done what a wife and husband do. She tried to step forward, to take the next step for them, but he stopped her.
"What in seven hells do you think you're playing at, little bird?" he said, gripping one of her arms tightly, the arm held between them like a shield-- a shield that was about to bruise.
"It's called a wedding night, Sandor. Surely you've heard of it even though you've not been married before." When that didn't get a response, she added, "Consummation? We have sex so they can't split us up at a moment's notice?"
He ignored that. "You chose me. Why?"
"Who should I have picked instead?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Meryn Trant, who's beaten me and has interest in children? I'd rather slit my throat than entertain a single second of his time."
"Trant's a weak cunt, and he lost interest the moment it became clear you were a woman instead of a little girl," Sandor sneered, the very idea obviously bothering him.
"If not him, then who? Joffrey will still not let me return home to marry a northman. My choices were those in the hall that day, and I believe I chose the best." She was going to leave it there, but if there was ever a moment to be too honest, it might as well be when she was about to be naked in front of her new husband. Quietly, she added, "I would have chosen you all the same. Of all the men in Westeros, I would have picked you."
He scoffed, clear that he didn't believe her.
The sting of hurt was familiar, easy to swallow down like it didn't exist. "Does it really matter? We're here now. If you wanted to say no, you could have. You're on Joffrey's King's Guard, he would have given you that choice. So I think, if we're asking the question of 'why me', it should be you answering that."
"You're not blind."
"No, but you're acting like you are." She slid her small clothes off, and they landed atop her dress around her ankles. His eyes flickered down, then back up. Like she wasn't the least bit impressive to him. Like he'd seen better and could pay for better. She grit her teeth. "Fine." She turned around and stalked to the bed. It had been a while since she'd let herself get embarrassed. Surrounded by all these lions in the capitol, she'd done what she needed to, desensitized herself to the barbs and embarrassing words so she could survive. But now her face was flamed red, tears threatening to brim in her eyes. It had been presumptuous of her to assume that he would take no issue with this. She'd thought her fairy tale days were done, but here she was, assuming that Sandor would jump at the chance to be tied to her for the rest of his life-- or hers, whichever happened first. "You could have suffered through one night with me before you spent the rest of your time with the whores in this city, but I suppose I shouldn't have expected even that from you."
"Suffered?" Sandor repeated gruffly. There was something in his voice she couldn't describe, but it felt important.
She glanced back at him, and this time desire was obvious on his face. When he saw her looking, he couldn't change his expression fast enough to hide it. “Suffered,” she confirmed. “Because either you take me now, or you leave to have someone else.”
Margaery had taken her for a walk, the gardens filled with wintertime flowers since summer was still a ways off. Instead of having tea outside at the center table, they circled around until they were back inside, sitting in a little room that only had the one door. Privacy as much as the Queen could get, her guards standing outside that door but unable to hear them now. "So tell me," Margaery said conversationally, "how big is his cock?"
Sansa snorted, covering her mouth as she descended into laughter. When she composed herself, she said, still chuckling, "Satisfactory."
"Even better." She leaned forward, arms crossed in front of her on the table. "Now that you are living in wedded bliss, why the Hound? He's hardly the most handsome option that was available to you. I know that Joffrey did not allow you much time to pick," she said, expression twisting sympathetically, "but my brother was right there. We'd always talked about you joining my family."
"True, but I wanted a husband that would be more than inconvenienced by me. Loras is rather handsome, but we both know that he has no interest in me."
"A husband with no interest in you but you look good together, is better than most noble ladies receive."
"Yes, but now I have a husband with ample interest in me. I think I prefer it this way."
Margaery looked at her for a moment, then grinned. "You love him. Good for you. I always worried about your happiness when you're so far south. If um, you should find his attention wandering, let me know? I have a few tips I'm sure would be useful for you."
"I'll keep that in mind." She'd probably need the help. Getting Sandor to sleep with her even the once had been much more difficult than she'd anticipated.
"Do you like children?" she asked.
"No," he said shortly.
She didn't let that bother her. "Have you ever thought about having them?"
He looked at her, saw where the conversation was going and said, "You're a crazy cunt."
"And you're the only one that's ever wanted to so I never considered it."
"Would you like to?"
"Will you get me pregnant so that at least I can enjoy having children?"
"The fuck's to enjoy. Kids are annoying and loud."
"You don't have to tell me. Arya and I picked on each other so much I'm surprised one of us did not accidentally perish."
"All the more reason not to have them."
"If I don't have children to worry over, I'll worry over you instead." He'd gotten a taste of what that had been like in the time they'd been married, and she was willing to bet he wanted to avoid it getting worse. "Is that what you want to look forward to?"
"You're manipulating me," he said, glaring at her. It wasn't playful; he was upset with her for even trying it. "Don't."
"Fine, I want to bear our children. Give them to me. I don't care if you don't, I do. Either you give them to me, or you refuse to fuck me so that you don't have to risk it. That is your choice."
"You're a bitch."
"And you're an arse. I suppose you can think on it as long as you need because it would be the same as refusing." That didn't mean she was above trying to get him to see it her way. Or, more accurately, she wasn't above reminding him how much he'd grown to like sex with her. After their first week together-- where he kept refusing her so she was trying to seduce him every night with questionable success-- they'd had something of a normal marriage. She joined Margaery or the other ladies of the court during the days, and at night he'd make her feel good. She had never known there could be satisfaction in bruises on her body, but the reminder of him gripping her hips was welcome.
When it came time to sleep, she stripped all the way down instead of changing into night clothes. Sandor gave her a withering look as if to say she wasn't fooling him, but he didn't say anything aloud. He took off his armor, the padding, and the soiled underclothes, then pulled on a clean set of underpants, not that it would do him much good from feeling her. He laid down, she pulled the covers up over them, and then she snuggled close, resting her head on his chest.
"What are you doing?"
She could feel the words rumbling inside his chest as he spoke them. It would be too strange to ask for him to keep talking so she could keep feeling it, but she wished that she could. "Getting comfortable."
He looked at her suspiciously, but when she didn't make a move to get more on top of him, he sighed and put an arm around her waist. He closed his eyes to go to sleep, but that only made him more aware of her. Despite all the times they'd had sex now, they didn't exactly cuddle. Normally they'd fuck, she'd get cleaned up, and by the time they were back in their clothes, they got to their sides of the bed and fell asleep. He was too awake to go straight to sleep, which meant that he was awfully aware of every inch of Sansa that was pressed against him. He slid his hand down to grip her arse, and he could feel her smile against his skin. "This doesn't mean you win," he said, rolling over so that he was on top of her.
She looked just as smug as he'd thought she would. "I don't need you to agree with me, Sandor. I just need you to get me pregnant."
"Why do you want children?" he asked, honestly confused as to why anyone would them, but especially Sansa with him.
"Why don't you?"
"Loud." He wound his fingers through her hair, letting some of his weight drop so she felt covered. "And annoying. They always need something."
"And I like to be needed. Besides, children have so little guile. They think they do, but when they lie, it's a harmless game. I prefer that to the lies adults tell me. And what can I say, I'm hoping for some sons."
"Sons," he repeated incredulously.
"You told me once, that my sons would be killers. My father was a killer, and my brothers would be, and my husband would be, and my sons will be. My father was, my brothers are now, my husband is. Is it wrong to want to prove you right?"
"It's not something to look forward to."
"My children will either be killers like their father, or victims like their mother. I'd rather they be killers."
"You feel like a victim with me little bird?" he asked, almost teasing instead of accusatory.
She curled her hands around his back, spread her legs just a little so he fit better in between them. "In bed, with you, I'm free. Out there, I'm a wolf without a pack, and the lone wolf dies." Something her father had said, trying to stress that they needed to stay together. As soon as they'd started going their separate ways, they'd started dropping like flies. Father, Mother, and Robb were dead. Jon probably was, and Theon was a traitor. Arya was likely dead for many years, Bran had survived originally but probably was dead now. Without any of the rest of them, what chance did little Rickon have? That left her, alone, with a hound for company and a rose with the sharpest thorns in the seven kingdoms. It wasn't a replacement for pack though. She knew that. With everyone else dead or missing and presumed dead, all she had for family was herself and the option of creating more family. "I want a family. I don't expect for you to be as involved in their lives as my father was in ours. All I ask is that you let me do this."
Sandor kissed her, and in the morning, he didn't ask where her usual foul smelling cup of tea was. She smiled, going about the rest of her day with a bounce in her step.
"Oh, by the gods, look at you!" Margaery beamed. She was standing across from Sansa, holding her hands in a joyous grip. "You're positively glowing. I think motherhood will suit you quite well if pregnancy makes you look so radiant."
Sansa laughed, easily falling into step next to her as they turned and Margaery looped their arms together. "I'm pleased you think so. I expect I'll be relying on you quite a bit. Sandor acts like I'll have two at once if he spends too much time with me."
"Men are like that," she said, rolling her eyes. "Give him some time, I'm sure he'll come around. If not, I hear there's a tavern that serves half price drinks to knights. Maybe that will pick his mood up."
"I doubt it." She was pretty sure that he didn't drink much anymore. Some wine, certainly, but he never dipped into anything harder these days. Mostly he joked that she was the reason he was drinking with all her prattling about babies, and that had been before she knew she was pregnant. Now that she did know, he'd probably be even more cross with her in their daily life. "But then, it can't hurt."
"That's the attitude that makes you so delightful," Margaery said, smiling kindly at her. If someone had told Sansa that her best friend would be Joffrey's wife, she would have thought them a liar. Margaery had been a gift from the gods as far as Sansa was concerned, saving her from either death or a marriage of torture with Joffrey. She managed to control most of his sadistic urges, though Sansa worried with the turn the war had taken, that there would be no holding him back before he died-- not that Sansa knew much of anything about the state of the war, but she did hear things sometimes. "Any idea what you're going to name them?"
"I only found out I was pregnant a few days ago, I haven't had time to think of names yet."
"Isn't Jon a good northern name? How about Jon?"
"Jon is also the name of my bastard brother that I treated rather poorly my entire life. The name is good, but I'm afraid the gods would sense a lack of humility."
"I'm not sure the gods care that terribly about your affairs, but then, the seven are different from the old gods. Perhaps you're right," she teased, "and they'll turn you into a toad for your horrible, horrible crime."
"Maybe not a toad," Sansa allowed with a laugh. "I suppose you have a suggestion for names?"
"Have you ever considered Margaery for a little girl's name?"
Sansa snorted so loudly she hurt her nose. She had basically recovered when Cersei Lannister showed up, flanked by two guards in Lannister red.
"Queen Margaery," she said, giving the barest incline of her head.
"Queen Mother," Margaery said, smiling widely as if she were delighted to see her. She let go of Sansa to give Cersei a hug that was not returned before going back to Sansa's side. "So wonderful to see you today, I had worried about your health after the state of the wine last night. Perhaps it was a bad batch, I shall have the royal stores inspected to ensure we never have an incident like that again."
"You are too kind," Cersei said with a tense smile. It was always her smile when Margaery was around. "Fortunately, you both look to be in good health. Good humor as well, I could hear Lady Sansa laughing from the other side of the castle."
"Pardon, Queen Regent," Sansa said, giving her a curtsy. "I learned last night that I am pregnant. I've been laughing near all morning, my mood is so good."
"Congratulations. Your first?" she asked, though she knew full well that this was the first time Sansa had gotten pregnant. She probably knew that Sandor was the first person she'd had sex with too, but Cersei was wrong on occasion.
"The first of many, I hope."
"I take it Ser Sandor is most pleased?"
"Indeed, your grace. He is not so obsessed with his legacy as I expected him to be though, he mostly seems to be happy that I am excited."
"He sounds like an ideal husband. I am pleased you've finally made your home here, Lady Sansa." She inclined her head towards Margaery again, then left, brushing past them.
Sansa wished there was someone around that she could ask what in seven hells was going on! Sandor was busy guarding that cunt of a king they had, and Margaery was dealing with business around the city, last Sansa had seen. The fact that no one in this city cared to share secrets with her anymore did not help. That being said, she would take not knowing what was going on over dealing with Little Finger any day.
The room was packed, more so than any other day when Joffrey held court. Every little lord or lady had shown up for this meeting and whatever it would entail. If it was an execution, Sansa wished someone would say it now and spare her that realization and experience since once had been quite enough for her life-- it didn't matter that most executions were held outside since Joffrey was breaking rules all the time and would certainly delight in making the servants scrub the floors until they were numb.
When the doors opened and men wearing not only northern armor but Stark branded armor walked in, she felt faint. There was a pillar at her side and she leaned into it heavily as the procession came all the way in. In the center was Jon. He was taller than she remembered, but maybe that was the great sword strapped to his side. His hair was longer, the top half of it tied back like Father used to do so it was out of his face. There was a neatly trimmed beard covering the bottom half of his face, but most importantly, there was a confidence to the way he held himself that had never been hinted at when they were children. Robb had had it, but Jon was the bastard of the family. He'd sunk into the background when possible, hunched in on himself when not. At his side and slightly behind, was Arya. She looked... like Jon. Taller and definitely older, all traces of baby fat gone from her face. Her hair wasn't as curly as Jon's but it was the same length and styled the same way. Instead of a great sword, she had a thin little thing at her waist, and Sansa didn't doubt it was sharp. Arya had never mastered how to walk like a lady, it had always been like she was running somewhere. She had the confidence of someone that knew how to protect themselves, and Sansa prayed she hadn't been hurt too much to learn that.
"Your Grace," Jon said respectfully, giving a small bow. Arya did not follow suit.
Joffrey was looking down at them, an expression on his face that meant if this didn't go well, he was going to have a temper tantrum. "Are we here to discuss the terms of your surrender?"
"You misunderstand, your grace. I'm here for two things, and you agreed to discuss them. It was my understanding that we would discuss them in private, not in front of your entire court."
Joffrey grit his teeth. "Speak or I will throw you out."
"Very well. I want you to relinquish the Iron Throne's claim to the north so we can be our own kingdom. We'll stop our attack, and you don't try to bring us under your control again."
If this had been a few years ago, Joffrey would have tried to order his men to kill them all. He still didn't have much in the way of restraint, so it was obvious that he was angry when he said, "What was your second request?"
"Sansa Stark," he said, and Sansa felt her heart stop then start again, double time. "She belongs in the north, we're here to take her home." Jon had phrased the first term more openly. He was requesting that the Iron Throne release them. This one he stated like they wouldn't be leaving the room without her.
"There is no Sansa Stark here," he said, eyes narrowing.
Arya looked over the masses, eyes finding Sansa easily. She quirked an eyebrow at her, and Sansa grinned. She glanced at Joffrey, then shrugged. It's not like Sansa could yell from her position that technically she was Sansa Clegane now, so she settled for that.
"We know that she is," Jon said, voice like steel. The two siblings that Sansa had always treated like grime, and here they were, come to save her. The truth was, if they hadn't come here for her, all they had to do was pull their troops back to Northern land and declare themselves free. The last person to successfully march on the north had had dragons, and for many generations, they had been loyal to the crown. They came here for her, and they weren't leaving without her. Sansa wondered if Joffrey even noticed that, or if he was too busy being offended at them trying to take a piece of 'his' kingdom.
"I'll think on it. Why don't you go back out to your little camp while I make my decision."
Jon bowed again before leaving, but this time, he kept his eyes straight on Joffrey, a clear challenge to his authority despite the subservient gesture. Arya winked at Sansa, then joined their brother and all the guards as they exited the hall, heads held high.
Sansa could feel people stare at her as soon as the doors closed, but she didn't care. She wasn't smiling now, and instead of staring at the doors with longing, she turned to watch her husband. Joffrey stomped off the throne and into the room behind it where they had their small council meetings. Sandor had to follow him, and with them gone, the crowd started to shuffle like leaves on a tree when the wind blew. Some of them left, and others stayed to see Margaery continue with business. Sansa stayed to the end like she always did when Margaery was sitting on the throne, and Margaery joined her as they left the building to take a short walk.
"How does your pregnancy find you? Any morning sickness?"
"Not today, and not in the past weeks either. I believe it is behind me, now. Thank the gods, I could hardly keep any food down."
They chatted idly until they had more privacy, and Margaery dropped her voice so it wouldn't carry past where they could see. "I have no intention of forcing your brother's hand," she said, tone more serious than Sansa had ever heard. "Tomorrow, we will welcome them into the city and discuss the situation as allies."
"You can convince Joffrey of that?" Sansa asked, voice equally low.
"I will take care of the king if you take care of his mother."
"I- Margaery- I don't know if I can-"
"I believe in you, Sansa." Margaery pressed a little vial into her hands. "It need not be messy. Cersei drinks more than a soldier, visit her with a plea to get her son to listen her or something, and then you are done."
"I'm not sure I can kill her."
"If you cannot, I need you to tell me now so I can make other arrangements." Margaery was always kind with Sansa. So kind and all she asked in return was Sansa's company.
Sansa had never killed anyone, had never even hurt someone. She thought of Cersei's claw around her arm, telling her to drink, saying vile things about sex, and standing there without lifting a finger when Father had been murdered. All of it made her angry, but only one of those was a good enough reason to do anything to her. Trying to kill Bran, mothering only bastard children to her brother instead of the king, and killing Ned Stark when he found out about it, those were reasons. If Margaery was telling her about this now, it meant that trial and imprisonment wasn't an option. Cersei was going to die tonight, and given the options, she knew what she had to do. Sansa stared at the bottle for a long moment, then tucked it in her dress.
In one hand, Sansa had a small bottle of milk of the poppy, and in the other, a dagger. Valyrian steel, though all Sansa knew about it was that it was more expensive than regular steel. "You know you will not make it out of this room alive." She held her hands up, displaying the items. "For all your choices have ruined my family, I respect you. You don't deserve to be dragged through the streets tomorrow like a victory boar. You can have one, and we can avoid all of that."
Cersei sneered at her. "Avoid it? Don't you remember when Stannis was attacking the capitol? I told you that a noble woman's fate at the end of a city under siege was always... unpleasant. Your little show here doesn't change that."
"It's your choice," Sansa said quietly.
"Perhaps my choices are not so limited as you think," Cersei said. Even now, Sansa was scared of her. Cersei was backed into a corner-- figuratively, not quite literally, not yet-- dressed only in her small clothes, and she still looked as poised and in control as she did when she was sitting atop the Iron Throne.
"You're right. I could always tell Sandor that you threatened to gut me like a deer. I imagine whatever he can think up would be much more painful than either of these."
"Do you think yourself a wolf, little dove?" It had been so long since Cersei had called her that. It used to fit her, but no longer. Maybe she wasn't a wolf yet either, but she was closer than she ever had been before. "Trying to show your teeth? You couldn't get your hands dirty if your life depended on it."
Sansa paused for a moment, then dropped her hands down to her side. "You're right. I don't know how to use this," she said, turning the knife to a less threatening position. She took a couple steps back and knocked on the door. She stepped to the side, and it opened. Sansa held the knife out to her, knowing that Arya was there wearing her own face. She wanted Cersei to know exactly who was doing this to her and why. "She does."
Arya was confident, every step the walk of a person that had killed foes twice as threatening as the former queen in front of them that had killed as many as Sansa herself. "Eddard Stark's legacy lives on. Who will remember you?" Arya asked. “I, Arya Stark, blood of the First Men and daughter of Eddard Stark, sentence you to die by order of Jon Stark, the King in the North, for unjust murder of our father.” She flipped the knife in her hand, and with one quick motion, a line of red across Cersei's throat. Blood stained the white fabric, and she died quickly, a hand at her throat as if she could stop it. There was a look of surprise on her face to the very end, like she couldn't believe all her games and shows of power hadn't been enough to save her in the end. Arya wiped the blood off on the bed's blanket, then snapped it back into place on her belt. "You're pregnant," she said, looking at Sansa. She’d noticed before, but it hadn’t been the time to talk about it.
"I am," she said numbly, looking at the still bleeding corpse. Cersei was certainly dead, but blood was still seeping out. She hadn't been expecting that for some reason. Cersei’s hair had always been golden and well groomed, but now the blood was streaming along it and making the colour impure. "Married, as well."
"I guessed as much." She gently took Sansa's arm and led her out of the room, closing the door behind her. "You look good. I was afraid they'd have you locked away in the dungeons dying from infection over the years."
"They never threw me in the dungeons. Joffrey always thought I was too entertaining for that, then he was married to Margaery and she convinced me to play nice as she mitigated his damages."
Sansa couldn't help but look at her doubtfully.
"Used to be that you would accuse me of liking it here and betraying our family."
"I used to be an idiot. So did you. Neither of us are who we used to be. Who's the father?"
"The very same."
Arya didn't miss a step as they walked through the halls towards the entrance where they'd met up at the beginning of the night. "I can get rid of him for you."
"Don't. By the gods, Arya, do not."
"Er, okay? Feeling fond of dogs now? I know I said a lot changed, but I didn't think it had been this much."
"Believe it or not, I chose him. It was my idea to have a baby, as well. If you'd like to talk to him about it, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to complain about how mean I am to him with someone that could appreciate it."
"He can't complain to anyone else?"
"The only one it would be safe to complain to is Margaery, and her and Sandor don't exactly sit down for afternoon tea every day." The very thought was laughable, though entertaining.
"Do they ever talk?"
"Not as far as I know."
"I can't believe you finally did it," Arya said, shaking her head but a smile on her face. At Sansa's quizzical look, she elaborated, "Marry a high lord and have his beautiful children. It's not how I imagined it happening, but here you are."
"Not how I imagined it either; this is much better."
"I'll say. I hope you don't take this as a personal offence, but you're looking chubby around the edges, not just in your stomach."
"And you still look happier than I've ever seen you. You're fucking glowing, it's disgusting."
Sansa laughed, shoving her shoulder. "Do you think Jon would let me name my son after him?"
"You'd want to?" she asked, disbelief clear in her voice.
"I was always horrible to him when we were children and I regret it, but he's one of the strongest people I know. You are as well, but I don't think I'd like the justice the gods would give me for having a daughter named after you."
"Too wild for you?"
"Exactly. With Sandor as a father, I'm sure they won't need any help."
"'Sandor', gods Sansa I wonder if I'm ever going to get used to this."
"I hope so, I'd like for us to keep in touch when everything settles."
"Keep in touch? You mean you're not coming home?"
"I want to. I suppose it depends on how long all of this takes though. Could I-" she stopped, swallowing thickly. "Do you think Jon would want to see me?"
"I know he would."
"Could you... take me to him?"
"Too dangerous tonight. Unless you have another major secret for me, you're not any good at fighting."
Sansa made a face. "I think the first time I held a weapon was earlier tonight."
Arya nodded since that was what she'd expected. Sansa was strong, but she wasn't violent or aggressive. She was... like Mother, actually. Strong and poised in a way Arya had no hope of achieving; it just wasn't her, and trying to be that way had made her miserable when they were younger. "I'll talk to Jon, but you'll see him tomorrow."
"Sansa?" Jon asked. He seemed to be in a state of disbelief, like this was everything he'd wanted but didn't know how to deal with it now that it was happening.
"Jon!" Sansa ran, tackling him in a hug. She was bigger than him now. For some reason, she hadn't expected that, but she'd been taller than every other woman she'd met since she finished and they had no idea how tall his mother had been so she probably should have known. "It is so good to see you. I thought you'd been killed when the Bolton's were trying to take over Winterfell."
"Turns out Stark's are harder to kill than the rest of Westeros wants us to be," he said, hugging her back tightly. There was no way he didn't feel the swell of her stomach through the dress, and when they split apart, he looked down then back up at her face and raised an eyebrow.
Sansa couldn't help but grin. "You remember the Hound, right?"
"Tell me you're joking."
"I don't think she is," Arya chimed in. "I heard someone refer to her as Lady Clegane, and who else would marry him?"
"Sandor happens to be wonderful."
Arya snorted. "'Sandor is wonderful'," she said in high pitched voice meant to imitate her sister. "I'm sure he is, but seven hells, Sansa, couldn't you have made him change his name to Stark instead of the other way around? Going from a wolf to a hound is downgrading, no matter how great he is."
"I don't think I... can do that?" She glanced at Jon. "Could I?"
He shrugged. Not to make fun of him, but he looked kind of awkward now that he wasn't bursting with happiness. "I don't see why not. Assuming he'd go for it, that is."
"I get the feeling that if we give them one night alone, he'll be convinced."
"Arya," Jon chided, blushing.
"Oh please, you're fucking a wildling who's twice your size, we all know what's going on in your bed."
Sandor, who had seen them and started getting closer, slowed to a stop when he heard the last sentence, looking at the group like he wished he didn't know them simply because it would make his life easier. Sansa saw her husband and beamed, waving him over. "Sandor! Come meet my family."
After that, he didn't really have a choice but to finish walking to them, settling into place at Sansa's side. "We've met," he said shortly.
"Well you can meet them again as a member of the family instead of a part of the King's entourage. Oh that reminds me, how do you like Jon for a name for the baby?"
Jon's eyes went wide. "Please don't," he muttered.
At the same time, Sandor said, "I don't give a fuck."
Instead of being downtrodden by his lack of interest like Jon and Arya expected, Sansa brightened even further. "Good, that's settled."
"Don't I get a say," Jon said faintly, fully aware that no, he did not. At least, not one that mattered.
"You want to move up north," Sandor stated, and Sansa nodded.
"But we can talk about it later tonight."
Arya gave Jon a look as if to say 'I told you so'.
Sandor grumbled, "I hate the cold," like he too, knew exactly how that conversation was going to go.
Sansa just looped an arm through his and leaned into him. Everything had turned out... perfectly. That was a nice change.