Of late Sansa has been thinking about Arya. When they were girls her sister was the one who pestered their father with endless questions: why can't girls be knights? Why can't girls join the Nights Watch? Why can't girls be kings? Why can't, why can't, why can't...
Arya hasn't been seen since that awful day in King's Landing when Joffrey took their father's head, she's doubtless dead, but sometimes Sansa wonders what she'd make of this world, this world that's been torn asunder by dragons and white walkers and put back together slightly differently. This world where Sansa is Sansa of House Stark, Queen in the North, Queen of the Trident and the Lady of Winter, where once a year she travels to King's Landing to bend the knee to High Queen Daenerys Targaryen, and where the finest knight she knows is Brienne of Tarth.
"You look troubled, your grace," says Brienne, she's standing by the door with her hand resting on the hilt of her sword. Who she thinks Sansa is in danger from inside her own rooms is something of a mystery, but Brienne has always taken her role as Sansa's protector seriously.
"Just thinking, Brienne."
"About Lord Harold?"
"About my sister, but I suppose that Harry will be here shortly."
Sansa and her husband lead largely separate lives, Harry has never really forgiven her for refusing to acknowledge him as her lord and king and return with him to the Vale, but Sansa is a Stark and there must always be a Stark in Winterfell.
Anyway, if she learned nothing else from Petyr Baelish she learned never to let anyone else make you play the game by their rules.
Sansa is almost sure that Dany would set aside her marriage by royal decree if Sansa asked - after all, Harry the Heir married Alayne Stone not Sansa Stark - but Sansa is a queen now, and a queen needs must have heirs. And judging by the number of new Stones in the mountains, if nothing else Harry is capable of providing Sansa with one.
Harry may never be a king himself, but he will be father to one, which is why he's braving the autumn storms to visit his wife at Winterfell.
Her husband may be capable but Sansa finds no joy in his arms. Their encounters are brief, dutiful and - if Sansa doesn't take steps to prepare herself - somewhat painful.
She stamps the final document on her desk with the seal of the queen in the north, stands and walks towards her bed. "I should prepare for myself for Harry. Assist me, if you wouldn't mind, Brienne?"
"I would be honoured, your grace. But are you sure you wouldn't prefer me to fetch someone else, a handmaiden or one of your knights?"
Sansa is a young woman still and keeps a young and lively court about her, and Brienne never quite believes that she wouldn't prefer someone else to carry out this duty. But Sansa does not want anyone else, does not trust them as she trusts her perfect knight, to take only what's offered and nothing else.
"You are one of my knights, Brienne," Sansa says, sitting on the edge of her bed.
"As you say, your grace," says Brienne, kneeling before her.
Sansa doubts that Brienne's face has ever been attractive, even before the addition of the knot of scar tissue on her cheek courtesy of a bite from a sellsword, or the ragged scar that bisects her face which she gained saving Sansa from a faceless man. But Sansa has never lost the ingrained courtesy of her childhood that insists she try to find something beautiful in everyone, and she has always noticed her knight's bright, intelligent blue eyes.
But it's not just that Brienne's eyes are lovely, it's that at moments like this, or when she stands as Sansa's champion in tourneys, they are filled with something that looks like what, in her youth, Sansa imagined courtly love would look like.
Brienne has slipped off one of Sansa's slippers and her callused hand caresses the arch of her foot. Brienne has large hands, one of which she uses to encircle Sansa's ankle before sliding it up her calf and pushing her gown aside.
Like this, all Sansa can see are Brienne's broad shoulders and long back, and all she can feel are Brienne's strong hands and her breath on her inner thigh. She looks like the perfect portrait of a knight kneeling in supplication before his lady.
With the first long swipe of Brienne's tongue between her legs Sansa thinks: Yes. This. This is how it was always supposed to be. She wriggles closer to the edge of the bed because Brienne always overestimates just how breakable Sansa is and Brienne's next lick is firmer and hits that spot that sends jolts of pleasure straight to her belly.
"Yes. There. Harder"
Brienne always obeys her queen's instructions and before long Sansa's eyes are screwed shut, her hands are fisted in the bedclothes and the knot of pleasure in her belly is getting tighter and tighter and--
There's the thunder of hooves in the yard and a servant knocking at the door to tell the queen that Lord Harold has arrived. Seven hells.
Brienne looks up at Sansa. "Will that be sufficient, your grace?"
Sansa catches her breath and swallows her frustration. "Perfectly sufficient. Thank you, Brienne."
Brienne slips Sansa's shoe back on and Sansa straightens and smoothes down her gown. "Walk with me?"
"Of course, your grace," says Brienne and offers Sansa her arm; the perfect courtly knight.