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Small Songs of Ice and Fire

Chapter Text

Title: Making Camp
Prompt: shelter
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Sansa Stark, Sandor Clegane
Rating & Warnings: PG, no warnings
Word Count: 235
Summary: She was still Sansa of Winterfell if only in the mind of one man.

Sansa looked at the lean to, which was only barely keeping out the snow as it drifted. She looked at it and imagined what she would have said when she was a girl if someone had told her in gruff tones to spread her cloak across this frozen ground.

Her face must have betrayed her thoughts, because his burnt face scowled at her from underneath his hood.

"Be glad you'll have something as a break against the wind, little bird." Sandor turned, yanking tightly on the ties securing the hide to the poles. "It might save our lives."

Perhaps, perhaps not. Winter was no longer coming. It was here.

Sansa of Winterfell would have been too finely bred to make camp in such a manner with the Hound pressed against her back. But she had lived as Alayne and escaped death more than once, and she was just pleased to know that the man who had once had a kiss from her was alive and that his first thought when the world fell apart had been to find her. So, they could freeze here together for all she cared, food for wolves, as long as he was by her side.

Sandor thought she was still Sansa of Winterfell, who dreamt of knights and ladies in towers, and she did not want him to know yet what she had survived, what she had become. Not yet.

Chapter Text

Title: The Lion Lives
Author: just_a_dram
Prompt: wildfire
Fandom: A Song of Ice and Fire
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Cersei Lannister
Rating & Warnings: R, descriptions of burning humans, hints at spoilers for A Feast for Crows
Word Count: 249
Summary: You don’t need a dragon to create fire.



She has never wanted to be anything but a lion. Her whole life she has prided herself on being a Lannister. Yes, the dragon was feared, but they are extinct, proving their weakness. The lion lives.

It is their fire she has envied and dreamt of in her fevered dreams.

But you don’t need a dragon to create fire.

Her hopes had been pinned on her twin, but her hopes were misplaced: she should have been Tywin Lannister’s son, for cocks have been wasted on both of her brothers. Now, with garments rent and golden hair matted, she places her hopes on fire. She has slipped the message through the bars of her cell. It is a promise only a lion could fulfill: gold, mountains of gold for the man who will set the city ablaze with wildfire.

She wants to hear them scream. She wants to watch the flesh of the people of King’s Landing sloth off in the flames. She wants them all to die—women, children, cripples, and beggars alike. She wants them to know as the wildfire consumes them with licking green tongues that Cersei Lannister cannot be bowed or beaten. That she will outlast them all. That an old woman telling fortunes was wrong all along.

Of course, the blaze may consume her as well. Wildfire does not discriminate. Lions burn as well as mice.

But she is not afraid. A Lannister always pays his debts, and to do that, she’ll have to survive.

Chapter Text

Title: Tarnished Gold
Prompt: Sonnet XVIII by William Shakespeare
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister
Rating & Warnings: PG-13, spoilers for A Feast for Crows
Word Count: 214
Summary: Winter approaches, but the golden boy has already faded.

He isn't what he once was. He's half a man now. Crippled. His golden luster tarnished, which means he was never really gold at all.

"Dear sister, we must speak of Tommen."

She glances at his golden hand and grimaces. She won't touch it. He was not born holding onto her ankle with that hand.

"Do you mean to lecture me, Jaime?"

"I mean to offer you some good advice. You haven't had a great deal of that, since you surround yourself with fools."

Like you, dear brother? "Tommen is a good boy. He will make a good king."

Jaime was the golden boy, who became the Kingslayer. Now he is nothing. He's quite nearly useless. To her or anyone else. She is the only true lion in the pride. The rest of them are as much lions as Tommen's mewling kittens. Jaime is nothing like their father; he would make a pitiful king.

"You mean you will make a good king."

The finest. She will certainly make a finer king than her drunkard husband. Yes, she will be resplendent. Unlike the other little queen, who must be dealt with promptly, but she cannot even count on her twin to do that much anymore.

His hand is hard, but he has gone soft. Pity.

Chapter Text

Title: Summer's Child
Prompt: Albert Camus quotation
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Sansa Stark, Jaime Lannister
Rating & Warnings: T for language and a little gore; hints at spoilers for series through ADWD
Word Count: 856
Summary: She once dreamt of a true knight rescuing her. Now that one has come, she does not know whether she cares to go with him.

She sits behind the body, which is not yet cold, and she stares at it wondering if it is her hand that has killed him, the man who had made her call him father. She cannot recall. Alayne is dead and seemingly half her memories have fled with her.

The hand on her shoulder that calls her back to the present is not rough. It is also not made of flesh and bone.

"We best not linger." It is the second time he has said as much, only his breath is less ragged now from the effort of killing left-handed than it was before. She has learned to watch and take note, so she is certain that losing his sword-hand has left the Kingslayer less dangerous with a blade than before, but it made little difference, as blood pools on the ground nonetheless.

She once dreamt of a true knight rescuing her. Now that one has come, she does not know whether she cares to go with him.

Fuck your 'sers'.

She looks up at him, his blond hair falling in sweaty hanks into his eyes, his cloak torn. It is neither Lannister gold, nor Kingsguard white. She does not know who he comes to her as. "I had not thought it would be you to come for me, ser."

He still manages to smirk as he wipes some bit of matter from his stubbled jaw line. "Who did you think it would be?"

Jaime would undoubtedly mock her if she confessed it and she will not share a piece of herself with a Lannister.

His good hand grabs her by the arm and wrenches her to her feet. She stumbles and catches herself on his breastplate. "You've good reasons to hate me. More than you know, Lady Sansa," he grinds out with an alarming lack of agitation so close to her face that she can count the fine lines that appear as he narrows his eyes at her. "But I'm your best hope to survive this winter with the dragons bearing down upon us."

"Perhaps I'll side with the Targaryen forces," she spits back.

He ignores her threat, and his eyes focus on her lips as he continues, "And you're my best hope to recover my long lost honor. It will make a pretty song. Don't you think?"

"I don't care for songs." She did once, but that was long ago.

"I made your mother a promise once."

He speaks more kindly, but practiced words mean nothing. He lets loose of her and she steps back, smoothing the sleeve he's left bloodied from his dirtied hand. She doesn't believe him for a moment. Her mother would not have treated with a Lannister.

Sansa straightens up, feeling herself emerge from Alayne's dead shell as she finds her voice. Winter need not defeat her. She is summer's child, which need not be a weakness, for her people are of snow. "I am a Stark, ser. I know winter better than you." Though she burns within, she sounds as hard as ice. Enough to almost make herself believe it to be true.

Jaime chuckles, his eyes skimming over her. "Perhaps I shouldn't remind you that you're a Lannister too, sweet sister."

He could not have said anything more provoking, which was no doubt his intent. Sansa balls her fists and she feels the color rise in her cheeks. She wonders what this true knight would do should she smack him across his cheek. She is tall enough that she could do it quite easily.

"Come," he says, gesturing towards the door. "Unless you would rather wait for the bodies to stink and bloat."

She shakes her head and gingerly steps over the body, since her slippers are wet with blood and floor is slick. She will go with him for now. She will wait. She will find her opportunity.

"Good. My sister and I have had a falling out, and I would rather it not be said I abandoned my brother's wife as well."

His taunt falls flat this time, as his mouth twitches at the mention of his sister. His mask is not as practiced as her own. It makes her bold. "My marriage to your brother was a farce. He never bedded me, and you are no kin of mine, ser."

She can see that he doesn't quite believe her, when he answers, "As you say, my lady."

"I was a girl." The Imp showed her some kindness in refusing to do what was commanded of him. She never could quite look him in the face either. She used to be afraid of all the wrong people.

She pauses, turning back to the corpse to lean down and unhook his purse. She knows the jingle inside is the sound of gold coins, and this will no doubt be just as useful as Jaime's left hand. If not more so.

He looks bemused by her cool composure as she tucks the purse in the folds of her skirt. "You were a girl, but you're not one anymore."

No, and she will be a pawn no longer.

Chapter Text

Rulers of the Seven Hells

Cersei lifts her head as the septa enters her cell.  Yes, head held high, for she is a Lannister and these dried up crones can’t take that from her.  No one can.

“Quite the heroic gesture that fool brother of yours attempted.”

Cersei’s eyes narrow.  The septas do not speak to her, they tell her nothing, and she mistrusts this break in the silence, as the septa slide the slop she is served towards her.  She wills herself not to believe what this jealous harpy would say to her, to close her ears to her poison.

But, her brother, her twin!  Surely that is of whom she speaks, and news of him makes her grit her jaw so hard it hurts.

“The gods took his hand as punishment for your shared sin.  Now they’ll take his head,” the woman says, looking up with a cruel smile that exposes teeth turning grey, rotting away like the rest of her, a waste of womanhood.

Cersei hears herself speak before she can stop herself.  “I believe a goat took his hand, sister.”  Recovering from her outburst, she schools her face, her lips quirking, as if she is amused by this conversation, as if nothing can unnerve her.

The woman snorts, “You’re a pair of abominations.  Born from the same sickened womb.

“And what peasant was raped to create you, pray?” Cersei inquires, her brows arching.

“It’ll be the seven hells for the both of you,” the septa snaps back.

Cersei controls her breath and keeps her gaze level until the woman has left her in peace.  As her shuffling steps recede, Cersei’s shoulders begin to shake.  Looking down into her lap, where her reddened hands with brittle, half-missing nails lay pillowed, she breathes through her nose, trying to control the sobs that threaten to break loose.

“You can’t do anything right,” she hisses under her breath, damning him for being half the man he once was.  The Jaime of their youth would have saved her from any threat, and she hates this man who masquerades as Jaime now, hates him for his age, for his stump, for his uselessness.

That’s what they want, however.  It is what everyone has always wanted.  To divide them.  To keep them apart.  Even now they are blamed for being one, when nothing could be more natural.

He can’t be far if he is to share her fate.  The thought calms her some, and her shoulders sag.

She might even catch sight of him if they are condemned on the same day.  She would pin her hopes on it if she didn’t have a new, more promising hope forming in her chest.  The septa’s news was no doubt meant to break her, but Cersei feels something other than defeat starting to spread through her frail limbs.

The seven hells.  Perhaps the septa is right.  If Jaime has been captured, if his attempt to rescue her has failed, and they are both to die for their so called sins, perhaps they will walk the afterlife together.

A smile cracks the chapped skin of her lips, causing blood to bloom there.  It is the first true smile she has smiled in months.  Together.  In which case, their deaths won’t be a punishment, not truly, when they can rule in the afterlife as they should have in this one.


Chapter Text

He Must Ride

Drogo chokes, grits his teeth against the sting in his eyes.

He had thought Father strong.

But Father lies where he fell.  The flies buzz around his face, and no one lends a hand.  No one should.  Drogo will not reach for him.

Father is not strong.  He is no man, and Drogo’s nostrils flare at the humiliation of Father dying like this, in the dirt, fallen from his horse like a slave.

Drogo clenches his fists.  Drogo is half a man, but he vows to the gods that his braid will grow long.  Father fell, but he must ride.

Chapter Text

Title: Little Lion Man
Character(s): Tyrion
Rating: T for images of violence
Word Count: 158

Tremble for yourself, my man,
You know that you have seen this all before
Tremble, little lion man,
You'll never settle any of your scores

The city of King’s Landing burns.  Spectacularly.  In shades of green and yellow and red and hot white.

Watching the city from his perch, all Tyrion can think is that it has all been so petty.  His hurts, the cuts and bruises he received, his little dramas were nothing compared to the damage they have wrought, the lives they have ended in the space of a few hours.  Dragons and wildfire have brought terror to Westeros.  Unleashed by the Mother of Dragons, the dragons have burnt away all the people he wanted vengeance against.

But the smallfolk paid the price too.  Bakers, tinkers, and tradesmen with wives and families will not wake to see another day.  They all burned—young and old, rich and poor, the weak and the powerful—spectacularly, and he realizes belatedly that whatever scores he sought to settle, they went up in flames before the dawn broke.

No one will thank them for it.

Chapter Text

Title: King of Anything
Character(s): Cersei, Robert
Rating: T for references to incest
Word Count: 176

Who died
And made you king of anything

Cersei watched him, holding back a sneer, as he broke his fast.  He should not even be up at this hour, having spent the night so deep in his cups that he had never stumbled back to her bed.  A blessing, for he was only king in name, and she deserved a real king—one fine and handsome like Rhaegar would have been—to warm her bed, not a bloated toad.  This man, who grew fatter with each passing name day, who whored and drank, paraded about as king.

Jaime had slain the Mad King and left them with a worthless oaf instead.

There was a drool of soft boiled egg in his beard, which made her stomach turn.  It did not take much to make her ill with the babe growing inside of her—Jaime’s, she thought with a slow smile, and that was a relief.  She had only to wait, because one day their golden son would be king.  Robert would be the one to die and her perfect prince the one to rise.

Chapter Text

Title: Cough Syrup
Character(s): Petyr, Sansa
Rating: K+
Word Count: 487

I'm losing my mind losing my mind losing control
These fishes in the sea they're staring at me oh oh
Oh oh oh oh
A wet world aches for a beat of a drum
If I could find a way to see this straight
I'd run away
To some fortune that I should have found by now
I'm waiting for this cough syrup to come down, come down

“Now, now,” she murmurs, when he attempts to turn his head away from the little bottle she holds to his lips.

He is certain that the medicine she gives him with her own delicate white hand makes him groggy, fogs his brain so that he cannot recall how long ago it was he watched her sit the Iron Throne, her shoulders draped in Stark grey, her red tresses crowned in gold.

“I would have you well, my love,” she says with a soft smile, smoothing her hand over his brow, which he realizes is covered in a fine sheen of sweat even though he is cold right through to his bones.


“With you here abed, Petyr, there is no one to whisper in my ear, to whisper instructions.”

Of course, he has trained her well, so that she barely needs him.  Her coronation was his triumph as much as hers, but he looked on with a measure of concern, thinking how assured she looked sitting the throne.  Too assured.  Did he not?  It is hard to recall.  The images of that day dance before his vision.  Was he sick that very night?  Did he manage to last through the dancing that marked the occasion?  Did he touch a single item on his trencher, as he sat at her right hand?

What kind of sickness is this that he feels afloat and lost in his own mind?

“There,” she says with a tone of satisfied accomplishment, as his lips part and the viscous liquid coats his tongue.

Her blue eyes swim hazy before his gaze, when she leans close enough that he can feel her breath against his lips.  He wonders if she means to kiss him.

“Cat?” he says, his voice cracking from disuse.  How long has he been closed behind sick doors?

“No, Petyr: Sansa.  Your own Alayne.  You must know me.  I am your own creation.”

Yes, of course.  Sansa, he thinks with relief, blinking away the little fish that swims into his vision.  His relief is brief, because it occurs to him that Sansa should be too busy to see to his care.  There is a kingdom to rule, one recently torn by war and besieged by the ravages of winter, which must require a queen’s attention.  A queen so newly minted could easily be torn from her throne, and she must take the greatest care to preserve his accomplishments.

He must have voiced his concerns, warned her against spending too much time at his sick bed, although he cannot recall speaking, because she whispers in his ear a gentle assurance, “I vowed long ago to take care of you first, Petyr.  Since my mother is not here to do it herself.”

His thoughts scatter, reform, and taunt him.  Little fishes swim through his veins, painfully snapping with sharpened teeth.  He thrashes, as the glass bottle is pressed to his lips once more.

Chapter Text

Title: Rolling in the Deep
Character(s): Jaime, Cersei
Rating: T for images of violence
Word Count: 244

The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can't help feeling
We could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)

Cersei isn’t anything like he remembers, but then, he thinks perhaps he never knew her at all.

She tears at her hair and it falls out in chunks, no sheen to the blond hanks that lie scattered on the stone floor.  The bones of her cheeks are sharp like knives beneath her ashen skin.  Her hands like claws.  She’s a wild, caged animal, ready to be put out of its misery, and watching her, he feels as if his lungs burn, unable to draw breath to see his sister brought so low.

He’s an ugly mirror of her, scarred by battle and torture and her fickle love.  Or maybe they were born ugly and their beauty merely masked what rot lay beneath.  Whatever the case they are as alike now as they were then, and yet she makes no show of concern for his appearance and he spares none for her.

Instead, she rages at him.  He wandered Westeros looking for the Stark girl, she spits, when he should have been at her side, when he assured her that the Starks were their enemies and that they were the only two that mattered in this world.  He has failed her.  He is stupid, worthless, and much too late.

“Not too late,” he hisses, as his hands find her neck and squeeze.

They came into this world a pair of ugly creatures, and he isn’t too late for them to leave it the same way.

Chapter Text

Title: Nothing
Character(s): Petyr
Rating: K+
Word Count: 187

Ohh, sometimes love's intoxicating
Ohh, you're coming down, your hands are shaking
When you realize there's no one waiting

Petry stares down at his shaking hands though his eyes do not seem to focus as they should and it looks as if he has a baker’s dozen fingers or maybe only seven.  If he has lost a finger or two in the fight, he should be panicking, but as his wits return to him, that is not the loss he is concerned about.

If Cat would only come to him, he knows he could say something to her that would make her change her mind.  He has a way with words, a way of making people listen, of bending them to his will, although he is not as strong or highborn as Brandon Stark.  He knows is she would only come to him, he could convince her to put aside family and duty and honor, so that she might be happy with him, as she can only be with him, her very own Petyr.

But she does not come.

They tell him he has lost.  The duel, he supposes they mean, but the only thing he has lost is Cat, and that leaves him with nothing.

Chapter Text

Title: Stolen
Character(s): Sansa, Jon
Rating: K+
Word Count: 533

And from the ballroom floor we are in celebration
One good stretch before our hibernation
Our dreams assured and we all, will sleep well

“It seems wrong,” Sansa says to him softly enough that he has to lean into her side to hear her over the musicians.

“What’s that, sister?” he asks, using the title he never dared when she was truly his sister to claim, but now the difference of parentage seems a small thing and the intimacy all the more important.

“It feels like dancing on the graves of the dead,” she says, nodding at the revelers.

The war has cost many lives, and aware of that, he did not look forward to this celebration with any great anticipation, but he is already accused by some of being too sullen, too serious, and in the end he was convinced that they should at least toast the end of the war if not the triumph of victory.  For his victory does not resonate with him as one, but as life stolen from the clutches of death.  It is mostly a relief to be done with the sword.

“I suppose I shouldn’t dare ask if you would like to dance then.”

“With you, Jon?” she asks, her hand finding his.

“Yes, the request of a king,” he teases gently, as his thumb traces her knuckles—another boldness he would have never tried when they were the bastard son and daughter of Eddard Stark.

“Oh, well, I’m sorry to say that I’ve danced with a king before.  That holds no appeal, I’m afraid.”

“Your brother then?” he attempts.

She is silent for a moment, her eyes traveling over him in a silent evaluation that he cannot read.  He would have known what Sansa Stark wanted, what she felt, he thinks.  He did not know her well, but he would have seen it on her open face.  That is no longer the case.  She is not the same girl any more than he is the same boy.  They have both been forged in fire.

“Have we danced before?  I can’t recall.”

“No.  Never.”  She always danced with Robb.  Arya was his partner, standing on the toes of his boots, so that her feet never touched the stone floor of Winterfell, because she could not be bothered to learn the steps.

“Then, I think we must,” she says, and he takes this as his cue to stand and offer her his arm.

When she entwines her arm in his and her skirts brush his legs, his heart skips against his chest.  She turns her cheek to give him a small smile, as if she has heard its beat, and her unbound hair falls over her shoulder.  Her hair is impossibly bright in the torchlight that illuminates the hall, impossibly red—kissed by fire—and it brings old, buried memories and images to his mind that heat his cheeks as if he is still a boy.

“And there is something to be said for dancing,” she murmurs, as his hand finds the small of her back and he can feel the heat of her beneath his fingers.

He cannot bring himself to ask her what that might be, but she does not keep him in suspense, when she speaks, her words low and full of promise, “We’ll all sleep well tonight.”

Chapter Text

Title: Secrets
Character(s): Sansa, Jaime
Rating: T for images of violence
Word Count: 538

Need something that I can confess
'Til all my sleeves are stained red
From all the truth that I've said

She is running down the halls, running so hard that she gasps for breath, her hands at her throat, when she feels someone catch her in their arms, and she looks up to see a face she knows well.

“Jaime Lannister,” she chokes, for a moment too shocked by seeing him here amongst the chaos that she hoped to take advantage of that nothing but his name can pass her lips.

She thought she had escaped from the last of her captors when she plunged the dagger in to the hilt, but here she is, back in the mouth of the lion.  The realization is enough to shake her awake, and she begins to struggle in his grasp, but he holds her fast, his good hand tight around her forearm and his golden one hard against her back.

“Who hurt you?” he demands, glaring down at her with a look that makes her stomach flip.

That is the wrong question.  He should only care how she has been hidden from their sight for so long.  How she has escaped capture.  That he knows who she is—for he clearly knows her for his brother’s escaped wife—sees her through the darkened hair and plain clothes is wrong too.  Petyr promised she would be safe if they all pretended.

“I won’t go back,” she sobs, as she thrashes against his plated chest.  She will not let Cersei put her in a cell or place her head on a stake the way they did her father.  She will not go back to the Red Keep.  Not ever.

She goes limp in his arms, sinking against him, panting with the effort of her mad dash through these halls and fighting to get free from Cersei’s twin.

“We can’t go anywhere with you bleeding like this.”

She shakes her head, trying to wordlessly convey that nothing is wrong with her, although she is fractured into several pieces that will never be knit together again.

He fists the sleeve of her gown, and she finally sees what it is that has drawn his horrified stare, what has caused him to think her injured.  They are stained red up to her elbows, so that her grey gown seems dipped in the deepest scarlet dye.

“What’s this then?  Come, girl, speak.”

“Petyr’s dead.”

She would rather tell the truth, bleeding the poisonous secrets from her like a leech pulls poison from the flesh even if the Kingslayer is the only one to hear her confession.

    “Well done, little wolf,” he says, and his smile is not the least bit cruel.

    “I’m Sansa Stark,” she whispers, as she looks up into his green eyes.  His hand tangles in her hair, pressing her against the cold metal covering his chest.  “Sansa Stark,” she confesses, “the heir of Winterfell.”

    Chapter Text

    Title: On the Ocean
    Character(s): Theon
    Rating: T for character death
    Word Count: 258

    On the ocean,
    Ten thousand leagues,
    I think I'm taking on water,
    Under the sea,
    The storm is on the way,
    Oh my God, what have you done?

    The problem is that he never really knew who he was.  Ramsay Bolton tried to teach him that you had to know your name, but a name is not everything, a name is not enough.

    Theon Greyjoy was born Ironborn, and as such he belonged to the Drowned God.  At the age of ten, after the Greyjoy Rebellion, he was sent to live with Eddard Stark as a hostage.  At Winterfell the Old Gods held sway, although Catelyn Stark gave her prayers to the Seven.  Neither the Seven nor the Old Gods thought to keep Theon safe, however, for he was not theirs just as he was never a son of Ned’s.  I will be embraced at home, he thought, embraced by family, the Ironborn, and the Drowned God, but when he returned to the Iron Islands, he found he was not wanted as a Greyjoy either.  The Drowned God turned his back on him as well.

    Otherwise, he never would have become Reek.  Surely.  No god would allow such a thing.

    Theon is a man of many names, a man without a kingdom, and a man no god would claim, and yet, as death finds him, it feels distinctly like drowning.  He chokes, swallowing blood or water—it matters not which—letting it fill his lung willingly, as he sinks under the weight of his own body, submerged in water, and he wonders with a last gasp of hope if in death he is to be taken by the God that would not have him in life.

    Chapter Text

    Title: Start a Fire
    Character(s): Petyr, Lysa
    Rating: T for adult concepts
    Word Count: 176

    I remember when you said your father's asleep
    I remember swimming as our clothes drifted off to sea.
    So wake up, wake up dreaming,
    And lie here with me,
    So wake up, wake up dreaming,
    And lie here with me.

    It is easy enough under the cover of darkness to pretend, to lie to himself that this pale imitation, who is pressed beneath his body, truly is his love, his exquisite Cat.  Lysa’s heated enthusiasm alone makes the whole thing a farce, which only the deepest denial can disguise.  She is only too eager to ignore her duty, to defy her father and welcome him into her body, and that is not his Cat.

    Her manner is wrong and she feels wrong beneath his hands.

    He has never touched Cat’s body like this, but he has kissed her, he has lain beside her, their shoulders touching, he has watched her swim, the water dripping from her body.  So while he has never touched her in this way, he has studied her and knows enough to know Lysa feels wrong.

    Only rough kisses that bank a fire within him can hope to disguise the fact that it is all wrong.  Only becoming the most practiced of liars will make him forget it was never Cat at all.

    Chapter Text

    Title: Paradise
    Character(s): Sansa
    Rating: K+
    Word Count: 177

    When she was just a girl
    She expected the world
    But it flew away from her reach
    So she ran away in her sleep
    Dreamed of para- para- paradise
    Para- para- paradise
    Para- para- paradise
    Every time she closed her eyes

    At night when Petyr closes her door, his kiss still lingering on her cheek, Sansa closes her eyes and dreams.  Not of blond princes.  Not of the South.  Not of fine gowns and southron hairstyles.  Not of the Red Keep.  Not of knights in shimmering white armor.  She dreams of snow, of Winterfell’s walls, of her lord father and lady mother, of her septa, of Jeyne, and her brothers and little sister.  They are all there, and it feels like paradise with the snow swirling around their feet but never touched by cold.

    She would fear that it was visions of ghosts that haunted her dreams, that these are nightmares sent to draw out her guilt in their deaths, but Jon Snow is there too.  Bastard brother, she always said, but in her dreams he is there amongst the rest, looking more a Stark than all but Arya and her lord father, and since he lives, she can hope in her waking hours to see him again, hope to apologize for never thinking to call him brother.

    Chapter Text

    I just thought maybe we could find a ways to fall apart
    But our friends are back
    So let's raise a toast
    Cause I found someone to carry me home


    It’s supposed to be a celebration, but Sansa thinks there’s a great deal too much fire in these Targaryen celebrations.  The easiest way to forget the fires and the dragons and everyone who is not here to celebrate with flames is the Arbor gold that Jaime Lannister is happy enough to press over and over into her waiting hands.

    Jon speaks.  She fixes her gaze on his lips and tries to listen to him, because it is good to see him, nearly as sweet as she thought it would be.  She does her best to make out what it is he seems so intent on saying, but it all seems nonsense to her.  So she smiles from behind her cup at him.  Men prefer smiles.

    “Sansa?” Jon says, his dark brows drawn together in what might be concern.

    A hiccup is her only reply, as she stretches out a hand for her cup to be refilled.

    “I think you’ve had enough.”

    She frowns at him and gives her cup a shake.  Discourteous, but Jaime doesn’t mind.

    Jaime leans forward, his cape dragging the floor as he looms over her shoulder, his teeth flashing in the firelight.  “Lady Stark won’t like you telling her what to do, Your Grace.”

    “She’ll need to be carried back to her solar at this rate.”

    Jaime pours more golden wine into her cup, and she tilts her head, smiling at him too.  They all like smiles.

    “Don’t worry about that.  It wouldn’t be the first time I carried her.”

    Chapter Text

    You said that you could let it go
    And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know


    During the day she isn’t his lover.  During the day she is Alayne, his dutiful, bastard daughter.  It is the name he calls out, when he wants her near.

    It’s always pretending—day or night.  At night she is someone else too.  So, she is happy enough when the night is over.

    She wants to be loved.  Wants to feel the ache of being with someone who longs for no one but her.

    He calls out a name in the dark, when he wants her.  A name she knows almost as well as her own, but never Sansa, never that.

    Chapter Text

    You made my heart melt yet I'm cold to the core
    But rumour has it I'm the one you're leaving her for


    “Sweet sister.”

    Cersei scowls back at her hideous brother.  She had wanted him back in King’s Landing as a head on a pike, not Hand to the Dragon Queen.  Life is a series of terrible disappointments.  If she had been Jaime, if she had been a man, the world wouldn’t be crumbling about her ears.

    “Do you mean to have me executed?”

    “I should think so.  Although, it is Daenerys who intends on separating your head from your shoulders.  I am just her humble servant.”

    “Jaime won’t allow it.”

    He disappointed her once, but he would never leave her to dragons.

    “Jaime isn’t exactly Daenerys’ favorite person either, sis.  There’s very little he can do to help you.”  He shifts on his awkwardly bowed little legs.  “Besides, he’s already gone to the North, where he’s more than occupied.”

    Winter is still upon them, making the North a dangerous place.  The Imp is misinformed. 

    “There is nothing for Jaime in the North.”

    “On the contrary.  There’s another queen to serve, and she’s half your age.  I dare say that’s part of the appeal.”

    Chapter Text

    When everybody talks babe
    Hey honey you could be my drug
    you could be my new prescription


    He hangs about her skirts, watching her rule Winterfell, as she was born to, and he is thankful that he never took what was not Stannis’ to give, for it is in the right hands.  She is capable and wise, and he says as much whenever he receives word from King’s Landing, requesting that he either come South or accept rule over the North.  That her loveliness keeps him there too goes without saying.

    He has made a fool of himself, made them both a subject of whispers.  The former Lord Commander and Lady Stark, once half-siblings, now something else, everyone whispers.

    But when he kisses her in her spring warmed solar, when he pulls her against his chest, his hands pressing into her back until she murmurs his name against his lips like a prayer to her gods—Jon, Jon, Jon—he can’t bring himself to care about the whispers.  They may wear their tongues out, wagging.  Let them talk.

    Chapter Text

    They left our bodies on the plains
    The vultures picked our bones
    So listen up, my Sonny boy
    Be ready for when they come


    She isn’t prepared for it, when she sees the shell of what was her home.  She dismounts and Winterfell brings her to her knees, the snow soaking through her woolen skirts to wet her stockinged legs.

    Though she has an army at her back, it is as if the world has gone silent and time has unwound.  She can see the bodies of her brothers, the bodies of their servants and friends, the death that was wrought here.  The death that was brought to Winterfell.

    She fists heavy snow in her hands, but tears do not fall, because she is much too angry, much too determined to give in to tears.  Greedy marauders will come again, she knows.  They will come from the South with dragons this time.  They’ll come to pick their bones.

    And it is a lion that lifts her up, sets her back on her feet, and kisses the melting snow from her palms, so that she might face them with steely strength when they do.

    Chapter Text

    Stuck in her daydream
    Been this way since 18
    But lately her face seems
    Slowly sinking, wasting
    Crumbling like pastries


    She isn’t herself.  He’s known Sansa since he found her—it would be hubris to say he saved her—just shy of her eighteenth name day, and as long as he’s known her she’s not been herself.  It’s a mystery to him who she might be, but he knows she’s trapped inside a character she’s created for herself.

    Jaime thought she would be better once they reached the North, but lately her pale face looks emptier than ever as snowflakes dance around her frizzy red curls.  Less and less real with every touch of his lips to her white ones.  Her screams echo through the broken rooms of Winterfell like a specter as terrifying as any they met on the road, her eyes just as icy blue.

    Who is he to help anyone find themselves?  He’s not himself either.  Never was.  He was Cersei until he wasn’t.

    This ragged girl with torn gloves and moth eaten gowns is who he cleaves to now, drains of whatever she might have to give, and that makes them nothing but a pair of crumbling relics of a lost age.

    Chapter Text

    From the first kiss
    Had your eyes wide open
    Why were they open?



    “Yes, Jon?”

    It’s her usual sweet smile.  Smooth, polished like ivory.

    “Where were you this evening?”

    She plies her needle and she lies, “The godswood.”

    A lie as smooth as her smile, as smooth as her skin under his touch.  And why does she lie to him?  Why does she persist in untruths, when he’s tried to be nothing but patient, nothing but kind?  His half-sister that always reminded him of his place without meaning to be cruel is not the same woman he married, but he is only just seeing her for the practiced creature she is.

    “I waited for you.”

    She reaches out a hand and places it over his hip, her thumb tracing the edge of his doublet.

    “Oh, Jon,” she sighs.  She sounds sorry.  “You shouldn’t have.”

    But he did, and he’ll continue to.  What else can he do?

    Chapter Text

    Just know you’re not alone
    Cause I’m going to make this place your home


    He shushes her softly, and Sansa closes her eyes.  The tent disappears.  The sounds of the camp fade.

    “Pretend we’re home,” he instructs, as she feels his hot breath against her thigh just above where her woolen stockings are held up by a satin ribbon.

    It’s incongruous, but it makes her feel pretty to have this bit of blue about her legs, and Jon doesn’t laugh at her love for beautiful things.  He loves beautiful things too, he tells her.  He loves her, doesn’t he and what could be more beautiful?  He might mean her, but she thinks his love for her is the real thing of beauty.

    She can shut out the demons when Jon speaks his love for her.  They don’t torment her when he is inside of her.  Any place is home with Jon.

    So she only has one request in return.

    “Hold on to me.”


    Chapter Text

    And there's no stopping us right now
    I feel so close to you right now


    “I’ve never been so proud,” he whispers, a step outside of the hall, where they will celebrate her coronation.

    He means it, she thinks.  He might actually love her now that she is queen, because she’s his triumph, his most clever accomplishment.  He thinks of this as his celebration.

    “No one can stop us, Sansa.”

    She quirks a brow, strokes his cheek.  “Your Grace.  You must call me, Your Grace.  Like everyone else or you will slip.”

    “Your Grace,” he repeats, as a smile blooms slowly on his face, for he is no doubt assured that he will call her something else in her bed.

    He’s so very pleased with himself.  It’s been like this every step of the way.  With every move she made towards the throne, she became dearer to him.

    “What is it you want, Petyr?”

    Hand to the Queen will not be enough, surely.  He will want a great deal more, a reward for his clever maneuvers.

    “Your hand, sweetling.”

    Of course.  He would be king.

    “Would that I could give it to you.”

    His self-satisfied smirk falters for just a moment, a crack only she might see.

    “But I’m afraid you’ve set me too high and I am forever out of reach.”

    A kiss to his cheek and she straightens her crown, ready to celebrate her greatest accomplishment.

    Chapter Text

    Sometimes the grass is greener
    And someone else's sugar,
    Someone else's sugar's


    Sansa belongs to someone else, but a woman like Sansa truly belongs to no man.  The way Harry looks sideways at him at table seems to indicate that her lord husband is well aware of this fact.

    Good.  He is fool enough to fuck serving girls, when he has as perfect a woman as Sansa for a wife, but perhaps he is not entirely blind if he can see that Sansa is a prize far beyond him.  No riches or titles or southron ceremonies could secure Sansa.

    No, Jon knows that if he wants Sansa, he’ll have to steal her.

    Chapter Text

    “I thought it was your favorite,” Jon says, reaching out to settle his hand over Sansa’s.

    He had meant to make her smile, but there are tears threatening to spill over onto her cheeks.

    “It was once.” She pulls her white fur tighter about her shoulders with her unengaged hand. “How did you get lemons, Jon?”

    “The entire world isn’t covered in ice.” Although it sometimes feels like it.

    “It’s an extravagance,” she says, though she wets her lips in what looks to Jon like guilty anticipation.

    “Yes, a terrible one. You might do me a favor by eating it; otherwise I’ll feel very foolish.”

    She picks up her fork, but holds it poised in the air above the lemoncake, unmoving, staring at it with shimmering eyes, and Jon begins to fear that he truly has done a foolish thing. It’s not only that the lemons came a very far distance, but also that their cook deals typically in dried meat and hard biscuits. It might not even taste right.

    Whatever her reservations, she finally presses the tines into the moist cake, breaking off a piece that seems to Jon much too monstrous for her mouth.

    For a moment he feels relieved that she will allow herself this little indulgence, when she lifts it to his lips instead.

    “You must take the first bite.”

    He begins to protest but she uses the opportunity to slide the fork between his lips. He frowns at her maneuver, but can’t help but groan as the sugary confection melts on his tongue.

    “It was supposed to be for you,” he speaks around the huge bite, belatedly realizing that it’s bad manners to do so.

    Sansa leans forward pressing her lips quickly to his. “We’ll have to share this until you tell me what your favorite is. I feel as if I should remember.”

    He swallows and slips his arm around her back, pulling her closer until he can kiss her again properly and make her moan as if she has only just tasted lemoncakes for the first time in countless moons.

    He whispers against her lips, pulling his hand through the curls of her unbound hair. “This is my favorite, Sansa. This.”

    Chapter Text

    “Sansa, please come with me. Leave this place.”

    Jon is desperate for her to come away with him, to leave the Vale and her pretend father, so that they might head further south, as far south as they can go to escape the cold and the death that comes with it. She seems oddly devoted to Littlefinger, and Jon fears she will not leave his side out of some misplaced affection or gratitude.

    She buries her face in his neck, her fingers twisting in his hair almost painfully, pulling his face down alongside hers until her lips are a hairsbreadth from his and she barely need whisper to be heard. “The walls have ears, Jon. You must be quiet.”

    “The monsters are real,” Jon whispers back, humoring her, for he fears the girl he once knew as a sister has grown paranoid. What he has to tell her surely won’t help. “Sansa, they’re every bit as real as Nan ever claimed them to be. And worse.” Much worse. Nan’s tales, though they scared them both as babes in Winterfell, could not quite capture the horrors that await her if she stays.

    She shakes in his arms, and Jon is unsure whether it is from the cold or from fear. He hates to scare her, but it is regretfully necessary that she be frightened. She must know the terrible danger she is in. She must come away with him.

    “Of course they’re real,” she murmurs, her fingers suddenly sliding soothingly through his hair. “I happen to be very well acquainted with monsters.” He holds her tighter. “If we mean to escape my monster, you’ll have to fight. I only hope you’ve brought your sword.”

    Chapter Text

    Sansa leans over him from where she sits behind him. Jaime’s eyes are closed, as he lies draped across the netted bed, but he can feel her breath ghost across his face. She presses something to his lips. When he takes it between his teeth, he catches the tip of her finger as well, nipping.

    She laughs, and it sounds like the tinkling of bells. It might be real, it might be false. She’s a good enough liar that he’ll never know for sure. Perhaps it should bother him that he doesn’t care either way. The illusion is all that matters.

    “Fig?” he guesses.

    She hums her assent.

    When she bends forward again, he can feel her soft breasts brush against his head. He opens his mouth without prompting for whatever she intends on giving him. It turns out to be rather harder to identify. Still sweet, but the texture can’t be fruit.

    She runs her index finger over his lips, asking, “Can you guess?”

    He tries, rolling it over his tongue, his brows knitting together at the unfamiliarity of the item. “I couldn’t say.”

    “Well, do you like it, ser?” she asks hopefully.

    They’ve been at this game for some time. It’s mindless, helping them pass the hours pleasantly enough, helping them both forget the horrors they’ve left behind in Westeros and the people they’ve lost. For a little while at least the smell of spices and the humid air slows the brain and he thinks of nothing but the next treat she will pop into his mouth, as she coos into his ear and scratches her nails through his curls.

    There are other ways he could wile away the hours with her, however.

    “It’s sweet,” he says, as he stretches his good hand back and catches her by the neck. “But you’re sweeter.”

    He means to pull her in for an upside down kiss and then divest her of what little gauzy clothing covers her youthful body, but she gasps—not at all pleasantly—at his hand closing about her neck and his eyes snap open at the sound, at her distress. There’s fear lurking in her blue eyes and he twists, pushing himself upright. He’s been too rough with her, startled her when she wasn’t prepared for it.

    Sansa is brave, but she can also be as nervous as a filly in need of gentling.

    “It’s delicious,” he soothes, as he slips an arm around her and tugs her up onto the bed with him. “Tell me what it was.”

    And he tries to care. He tries.

    Chapter Text

    Alayne holds the bottle behind her back, swaying slightly so that her skirts sweep the floor.

    Petyr smiles at her with an arch of one fine brow.

    “I have something for you, father.”

    “Do you?” he asks, as she brings the bottle out before her and sets it on the table with a demure smile.

    “What’s this, sweetling?”

    “A present.”

    He turns the bottle, letting the weak winter sun’s rays catch the liquid inside.

    “Where would you find a vintage such as this?”

    Alayne sits on the arm of his chair, her hip pressing into his shoulder. “I can’t share all my secrets. Let me give you this small thing. You deserve it.”

    He looks up at her, and for a moment she feels as if the black centers of his eyes have seen through her, but then he pulls the cork free and calls for a servant to fetch them both a goblet. He has become less careful with her, less cautious.

    As the goblets arrive and Petyr pours the amber liquid into first hers and then his, she watches the splash of it with fascination. You’d never know by looking at it, smelling it, or even tasting it. But it’s there: her little secret.

    She takes her goblet from his hand and clutches it to her chest, her brows raised in eager anticipation.

    “It’s my present to you. You must taste it and tell me if I have done well.”

    He brings the goblet to his lips, reaching up with his free hand to brush the crook of his finger over her cheek. She watches the roll of his throat as he swallows. Just one swallow is enough. It should only take a minute for her to see if she mixed it in the right proportions.

    “Is the vintage as fine as I was promised?”

    He pulls the goblet back, looking into the cup with an approving gaze. “Like nothing we’ve had in many moons, sweetling. You’re a good girl to go to such lengths for your father.”

    She hopes very much that this has made her at very last a good daughter, though the debt she repays comes too late to save any of her family.

    She bites the inside of her cheek to forestall a smile, when she observes Petyr’s brows crease and his face flush. His hand latches onto the table as he begins to sputter, and Sansa places a calm hand on his back, patting gently.

    “You’ve drunk too quickly. You should have been more careful. I could have told you I love my lord father very much.”

    Chapter Text

    Jorah regrets that he’s been given the assignment of seeing Dany home safe, as soon as the cab door closes behind him and she leans heavily into his side. It’s not just that he’s not a babysitter for drunken socialites, particularly not one whose brother never ceases to remind everyone that they’re royalty—Princess Dany of some godforsaken European country that either ceased to exist a century ago or didn’t care to be ruled by the likes of her bratty brother, Jorah can’t be bothered to find out which. But also that he has had a few drinks himself and he’d rather take her to his apartment than watch her climb the steps to her brownstone. But his boss is uncommonly fond of the petite blonde he calls niece, and Jorah can’t afford to lose his position at Barristan & Rakharo, so he does his best not to look down Dany’s blouse as she scrambles to slide over further on the bench seat and fails.

    The cab driver pulls into traffic, and the whip of the car causes her to grab onto his thigh to steady herself.

    “Careful there, princess,” he advises.

    She’s one of the prettiest women in Manhattan. He’d be lying if he said her hot little hand on his thigh doesn’t feel like the promise of heaven.

    She smiles up at him, her hand lingering, and in the evening light, her eyes look almost violet.

    “I like you.”

    She’s spent much of the evening at his side, biting olives off drink skewers and talking animatedly about social justice, while wearing Jimmy Choos. He’s afraid all he had to share with her in return was a fair dose of pessimism, but it didn’t seem to dampen her enthusiasm.

    She bumps his shoulder with hers purposefully this time, and her blue silk blouse slips, revealing more smooth skin. He squints at her, imagining what white haired Barristan might say about his choice of escort should he see them now. He supposes his boss thought him too old to be of interest to a woman as lovely as Dany. A safe choice. What Barristan doesn’t know is that Jorah has been known to make unwise decisions in his personal life, and what he is imagining at this moment doing to Dany is decidedly unwise.

    “You’re drunk.”

    “A little,” she shrugs. “But I like you, and if you insist on calling me princess, I’m going to make you one of my court.”

    “Is that right?”

    “Yes, you’ll be my guard, won’t you?” she asks, squeezing his thigh. “You’ll need a coat of arms for me to hang on my wall. A proper one,” she continues, though she didn't even pause long enough to let him accept or decline her offer.

    “I already have one.” Or rather, his father had one. It was probably the sort of thing you paid fifty bucks for and some fool threw together something to paste onto a plank of wood, but Jorah remembers it hanging proudly above his father’s desk. “House Mormont with a bear on it.”

    Dany bares her teeth, growls, and makes a claw with her free hand before dissolving into giggles that make her head roll forward.

    It was a stupid knick knack of his father’s but her mirth pricks his pride, so he clears his throat and looks out the window.

    “Don’t be cross,” she coos, as she paws at his shirtfront. “I like bears. A bear is just the sort of guard I need.”

    It’s hard to stay angry with her, when her breath is warm against his neck.

    He captures her hand in his, trapping it against his chest. “What is it you need guarding from?”

    “Unwanted advances.”

    She wets her lips and he can feel the outline of her soft breast against his bicep through his sports coat. Though the leaves have changed, she smells like summer, and he finds himself asking in a low voice, “Are my advances unwanted?”

    Her fingers curl around his tie, tugging until her lips brush his. “We’ll just have to see.”

    Chapter Text

    Sansa should be begging for her life, but she has him announced into her presence as if she herself is a queen. As Tyrion passes through the arch and she comes into view, however, he can’t help but think she looks every bit as much a queen as Daenerys with her streaming red hair and flowing white furs draped over her grey silks—Stark grey. She is not his little wife anymore: she is a lady grown and she sits with her head held high, as if she is afraid of no man.

    Perhaps especially a half man.

    “Lady Stark,” he says, sketching a bow.

    She is flanked by two armed men, who stare blankly ahead, though he knows she could snap her elegant fingers and they would come to life quickly enough.

    “Lady Hardyng,” she corrects, folding her hands in her lap.

    Tyrion shifts on his feet, reaching up to rub the place where his nose should be. “Ah, yes. The fact of your most recent marriage makes our meeting rather awkward.”

    “Does it?” she asks, one fine brow arching.

    “I think having two husbands might prove a thorny problem.” He grins wide enough to display his missing teeth. “Men are not very good at sharing. Particularly beautiful things.”

    Sansa narrows her eyes at his flippant remark, though he doesn’t think her entirely displeased. She must be accustomed to hearing men speak of her beauty.

    “Having two husbands would be two too many, my lord, but thankfully I have no husbands to speak of. Harry is dead if you had not yet heard and you and I were a farce, were we not?”

    “It proved an unconventional marriage.”

    “And I thank you for that,” she says with the first hint of softness in her voice, but it is gone just as quickly. “Come now,” she says gesturing impatiently. “You’ve been sent by your queen. I suppose you’re here to tell me my fate.”

    “I might be able to save you.”

    She shifts in her chair, angling against one of the wooden arms in so a casual manner that she looks almost leonine in her lazy confidence. He wonders briefly where she learned such unladylike posture.

    “You have that kind of authority, my lord? The Dragon Queen listens to you?”

    “She does, though she is not so eager to indulge me in the case of traitors.”

    Sansa leans forward, her fingers wrapping around the arms of the chair, parroting the line he heard her speak more than once when she was but a maid newly flowered, “It’s unfortunate then that I’m a traitor’s daughter.” But she sounds proud of that fact now, not remotely afraid, though her life is once more at stake. “I doubt very much your queen will allow the last Stark to live.”

    “But you are not a Stark, as you have reminded me.” She is his wife or she was once, and he might play upon that connection in convincing Daenerys to spare Sansa. It would not completely clear his family’s debt against the Starks, against Sansa, but it would be a start, and he rather likes the thought of using his new found power in the aid of his child bride. “I only need to know whether you were a traitor to me. Whether you meant for me to be blamed for Joffrey’s death. Never mind the rest.”

    In her current state of mind, Tyrion thinks she might boldly admit to it if she indeed plotted to leave him to Cersei’s wrath, freeing herself of both him and the rest of the Lannisters.

    Sansa shakes her head. “You greatly mistake Petyr if you think he would have told me anything of his plans. I was his pawn.” Her icy blue eyes sparkle. “Until I wasn’t.”

    He believes her, remembering with sudden clarity, when last he saw her, her sweet innocence, which is in stark contrast with her glittering self-possession now, but there’s one last thing. “And I need to know what you have done with my brother. Jaime.”

    A smile slowly quirks her rosy lips. “Ah, that my lord you might not like.”

    Chapter Text

    It’s the first night in the North, and it’s been a moon’s worth of travel through heavy snow and biting cold, nearly a moon’s worth of sleeping at her side. Every night Jon awakens to fingers grasping at his tunic and Sansa’s breath fast against his neck. Nightmares. Haunting nightmares trouble her sleep and have since the day he took her from the Vale. It is the nightmares that prompt her to ask him in a shaking voice that first night to stay with her.

    They’re not brother and sister, sharing a bed in the nursery; they’re a man and woman grown, who share no parent. But if Sansa finds nothing improper about curling into the side of her once brother, Jon can’t see why he should either. She knows better, and he lets her be his guide.

    She needs him and that it enough reason for him.

    On their first night in the North, however, he does not awaken to twisting fingers and terrified pants. He awakens to something else entirely.

    “Sansa?” he asks. Because it can’t be her. He is lost in a dream. Something from the past. Red hair and pale legs.

    “Yes, Jon?”


    She smiles. He can feel it against his skin, her blooming smile. “Not quite. Though it feels like it. Doesn’t it?”

    It most certainly feels like something. But this is Sansa. Sansa. Sansa.

    His heart beat quickens under her touch—more practiced than he thought it would be, and oh, he’s wondered and hated himself for wondering—and he doesn’t know what to say to stop her or urge her on.

    “We’re home,” she whispers, as her teeth scrape his collar bone.

    “Not yet.”

    “Almost. The air is different, isn’t it? When we’re this close to home?”

    Winterfell is still distant and they have hard travel ahead of them. Surely she knows that: she has seemed anything but optimistic since he found her. Fatalistic, more like. He’s promised her that Winterfell was hers and he would take her there, but up until this point she has always looked at him as if he cannot be believed. As if no one can be believed.

    His hands slip down her body, settling on her hips. He intends to still her movements, but doesn’t, not at all. “Are you quite awake?” One of them must be asleep.

    “Quite,” she assures him with a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

    She draws a groan from him and his fingers dig into her hips. “What are you doing?”

    “I’ll be Lady Stark of Winterfell, will I not?”

    Jon’s reaches up a hand, fisting her hair, pulling it free of her face so that he can see her better in the dark, forcing her to meet his gaze. He promises her once more. “Yes, Winterfell is yours.”

    She traces the length of his nose with her finger, smoothing her fingertips over his cheek bones and his brows, as if to memorize him or to recall something from his face that she’d lost. “We’ll go home, you and I, and I’ll make you a Stark.”

    He murmurs her name, trying to dissuade her of this madness, but she presses her fingers to his lips, silencing him.

    “Then it will be both of ours. Lord and Lady Stark.”

    It’s more tempting than Stannis’ offers ever were, and Jon is only a man, despite his rebirth. Perhaps he will awake in the morning to find that it was only a dream after all, but tonight he will let Sansa have her way. He’ll let her make him a Stark.

    Chapter Text

    In Sansa’s experience, there ain’t any good men on God’s green earth. Joff was no worse than any of the others. Men are quick to anger and quick to strike a woman for being too free with her opinion.

    She covers her split lip with the back of her freckled wrist, knowing she should have learnt her lesson long ago: keep mum, when he’s drunk and stumbling, knowing he hates it when she comes to fetch him from the bar to help with some trifling woman’s problem.

    Should have known better, but all the same, she’d nursed a secret wish that someone would ride into their dying mining town and put a bullet between Joff’s dirty ears, so she’d be free of him forever. Prayed for it even, and God above must have heard her rotten hearted prayers.

    She looks from her husband, blood spreading out from the middle of his chest, to the dark haired man whose gun laid him out. And though it stings, she smiles.

    Chapter Text

    Every time Jon watches one of his tributes die, he hates himself a little more for failing in his duties as mentor and for being made to aid in the slaughter of innocents. But when he watches delicate little Sansa Stark, the girl whose family took him in after his victory, when the rest of his family was killed by the Capitol, standing on her mark with the countdown clock booming out over the arena, he knows he can’t fail in his duty again. He has to make sure this is the year District 8 has another victor.

    She’s beautiful. That helps. Her beauty more than his tactics wins her sponsors.

    But he watches the light of innocence slowly fade from her ocean blue eyes as children die around her and she can do nothing to save them. If she lives, he tells himself, she’ll be able to visit the ocean. They’ll go there together.

    She’s injured on the third day, her back cut to ribbons by mutts, and Jon bares his teeth and rages at the screens until a fellow mentor sedates him with morphling.

    When he wakes, she’s not dead. It might have been better if she was.

    On the last day there are only three. Petyr, the short, crafty boy who’s eyed Sansa as if she was a prize to be won, kills the remaining career through cunning—poison—and Sansa kills him with a kiss and a knife in the side that Jon sent her in a package that cost him his dignity but saves her life. The girl he knew could have never done it.

    Sansa Stark the 70th victor of the Hunger Games and at what cost.

    Chapter Text

    Dany fans her cards, triumphantly laying them down on Mme. Mopatis’ table. But as her fellow players show their hands, she sees that she has lost. Again.

    Her third loss this evening is another reminder that life has been boring abroad, since the death of her husband. She longs to see England’s shores, but her brother insists on dipping into the deep pockets of her remaining friends here in Italy with the notion that it will help him rebuild their mouldering ancestral home. He fares more poorly at this game as she does, however.

    She is about to pretend to be overcome by the heat of the evening and flee to the cool of her rented rooms, when the English gentleman, who only joined their group some five days earlier saunters up to the table, placing his hand on the back of her chair and the empty one next to her.


    She feels his fingers brush the satin of her dress.

    “Sir,” she says, as a blush rises on her cheeks.

    “Might I join you?”

    She says yes. Not because she’s intrigued by his broad chest or full beard or a man’s touch after months of being alone, she assures herself, but because she can harry him with questions of home. But then, the way he leans into her, tilting his head to blow his smoke away from her, as he murmurs his responses, makes her think he wouldn’t mind giving her a great deal more than the latest news.

    Chapter Text

    Sansa’s done her best to politely ignore her father’s stepson since he came into her life four years ago. But her friends are miles away in Boston, and somehow she found herself alone with him more often than not over her break.

    He’s generally still sullen and serious, a perfect soldier, but tonight she’s lured him into an escalating game of Never Have I Ever over too strong eggnog that is making her restless. It’s making him different too. Bolder than she’d expect with the questions he poses to her. The last semester of college has been a rough one, her nevers have become a shortened list, and she’s not doing well at this game.

    She reaches up to drag her fingers through his shorn curls. “You looked more handsome before the military buzz.” The uniform, however, isn’t so bad. It’s an improvement over his old black band t-shirts and too tight jeans.

    She only means it as a distraction from this stupid game, but when her fingers graze his scalp, his grey eyes focus on her lips and she feels a pulse of heat that she might never answer if she was sober.

    “You’re not my brother,” she states in stupidly obvious drunken logic.

    “No,” he agrees with such sincerity that Sansa doesn’t know whether to laugh or crawl into his lap.

    “Come here,” she urges, standing up from the couch and tugging on his hand, pulling him towards the doorway, where a sprig of mistletoe dangles temptingly, daring her to see what it might be like to taste the inside of his mouth.

    He seems stunned into silence as she points above their heads and she thinks she’ll have to take the lead—stand up on her toes and pull Jon’s lips down to her—but that’s not so. Good son though he might be, Jon Snow kisses her before she can instruct him not to tell a soul.

    Chapter Text

    Jon holds Sansa’s babe to his chest, a smile pulling at his usually solemn face. Petyr’s son looks as natural there as she feels in Jon’s arms. Much more at home than she can imagine feeling in the arms of a husband.

    “Perhaps you should have a family, dear brother.”

    Jon bends down, his lips hovering near hers. “I have one, sis.” He brushes her nose with his own. “Are we three not a family?”

    Not for long. Their father has chosen another husband for her.

    “Besides, Father wouldn’t like it if I forsook my vows.”

    It is Jon’s duty to forswear flesh, just as it is Sansa’s to make an alliance that will bring them allies, gold, and land. And yet, she is weary of husbands who cuff and curse.

    “I fear what kind of man my new husband will be, Jon.” She fears he will be like Joffrey.

    “You needn’t worry,” he assures her, as she leans into him, resting her head against his shoulder. “One word from you, and I shall cut off his head. Husband or no, I am your true family.”

    Chapter Text

    The Beltane fires purify, but nothing can clean the stains from Jaime’s soul, not even the red haired girl that dances beyond the fray of merrymakers. She sways and the light catches the golden streaks in her hair, making her look aflame.

    He’s drawn to her like a moth and as he comes close, he recognizes her from court. Sansa’s hair is usually hidden beneath a white veil, but tonight it is unbound and uncovered in thick waves down her back.

    “My lady,” he says, as his hand closes over the girl’s narrow shoulder. “You’re alone.”

    Maybe there is something to fire and purity, for she looks perfectly unblemished and untouched by man, staring up at him with wide blue eyes and rosy cheeks. Not like his beautiful sister—now queen—who lies with his king on this night of rebirth.

    “Not anymore,” she says with a nervous little smile.

    He meant to refrain from wetting his cock tonight in a fit of chaste superiority inspired by jealousy and rage and Sansa does not look like she would take Beltane as an excuse for sexual exploit, but there is no wrinkled lady at hand to guard her honor and suddenly he wants to remember what it is to taste, take, and destroy such lovely innocence.

    He tells her, “I’d like to kiss you,” but he’ll wait to show her once they’re ensconced in darkness that he’d like to do much more.

    Chapter Text

    The boys always leave Sansa behind, but today is different. Of course, the reason Jon is not tramping around the woods with Robb is because he is abed with fever, but that only means he won’t run away, when Sansa crawls atop his bed with her dolls.

    “You can be the lord father,” she offers. Robb always refuses, but Jon picks up the dark haired doll without complaint. “I’m the lady,” she says, cradling the other doll like the good baby she wishes Arya would be.

    He’s too quiet. Either because he’s sick or has no practice at dolls, but after his doll doesn’t say anything of interest, she takes it back from him.

    “It’s time for the children to leave the lords and ladies to their evening,” she explains, arranging the dolls on the bed between them.

    “I can’t ever be a lord,” he mumbles, as he helps her draw the furs over the sleeping dolls.

    “Why?” He shrugs. “That’s silly.” Of course Jon will be a lord husband and have a lady wife and they’ll love each other very much. They’ll kiss and hold hands and have sweet babies Jon will help tuck into bed.

    She grasps his hands and presses a kiss to his lips the way her mother does their father, the way his lady wife will.

    He releases her hands, and Sansa looks over her shoulder at the sound of their door opening. It’s her mother and Sansa smiles up at her. “Morning, Mama.”

    She holds her hand out to Sansa. “Come away and leave Jon to rest.”

    And though she’d like to see their little game through, she slips from the bed like a good girl.

    Chapter Text

    The other women huddle hidden as best they can, when the village erupts in panic. Vikings. But Sansa thinks it might be better for her life to end than to live another day here as the king’s unwanted wife. The king’s mother grabs her woolen sleeve, trying to drag her away, hissing, fool, when Sansa refuses to give way, and disappearing with all the rest.

    Sansa sits boldly in the chair her husband has designated hers in a place of dishonor at his table below the lowliest of his kinsman. She’ll fight their Norsemen’s grasping hands and lecherous intent and for her trouble, they’ll kill her.

    When the door is finally thrown open, it’s a tall man, dark of hair, with a scar running down his cheek, and a beard her fair haired husband couldn’t hope to grow. Around his shoulders is draped what looks like a wolfskin and he holds a sword in his hand. His grey eyes rake over her and then around the room.

    “I’m alone,” she says. She might spare the others with her lie.

    He stalks towards her and she stands, summoning her dignity. “I am a free, Christian woman. I am the queen.”

    He frowns, as he reaches up an oddly roughened hand to her face and brushes her cheek, where it is raised from a blow delivered by the back of the king’s hand. She should quake at his touch, but she is strangely unafraid now that he stands before her.

    “You let a man do this?” he asks, his accent thick but his meaning clear.

    “He is the king, he does as he pleases.”

    “Not anymore. Your king is dead.”

    And on that day, Sansa doesn’t die along with her king, on that day, she is saved. Not by God in all his glory, but by a Viking.

    Chapter Text

    Her leg is silky and firm with youth. The feel of it conjures up a ripple of a memory and with his whole arm, his left hand, lightly teasing over the length of her thigh and hitching it up over his own, he can almost pretend, but the pale of her skin is a striking contrast to his tanned arm, spoiling the effect.

    That’s for the best, perhaps, for when he’s had enough wine to dull the senses or she’s especially cross with him and gives him a stern look upon his entry into her chambers, he sometimes pretends quite well. Those nights always ends up in angry taunts on his end—angry with himself for not giving her what she wants and angry with her for not being exactly what is inscribed upon his bones to desire—and a door closed to him for weeks on hers.

    Too rough. He’s too rough when he forgets not so much himself but her, forgets who she’s not.

    She always forgives and they are condemned to repeat themselves, taking what comfort they can from each other in the meantime. This little bit of footwork works well enough that it saw them through the ravages of winter until suddenly the long awaited buds of spring were upon them.

    If he wants to have her bowed beneath him, humming in pleasure and disregarding her troubles and his family name, he knows how to achieve it. Sansa prefers a soft touch, and it is no wonder, considering the hash marks upon her back. Those make him angry too, stirring his blood in a way not so different from the thought of her warm cunt. He might sometimes be too rough, but he would never leave a lasting mark. She is not Cersei, but she is perfection, and that there were men who sought to mar her perfection is an affront to the gods that they both know don’t exist.

    There is no one left to kill for it. They’ve outlived them all, which means it is a debt he can’t repay, and that might irk him most of all.

    “I told my ladies to leave me to my own devices tomorrow morning, that I had every intention of sleeping until half the day was spent.”

    “Did you?” he purrs, dropping a kiss to the crook of her neck. “And why is that?”

    “I want you.”

    “Do you?” he asks with false ease even as his hand grabs her arse and squeezes.

    They have been traveling for days, making their way back from a royal progress to visit the houses of the north, Sansa’s bannermen. His muscles ache from days in the saddle; hers must bother her all the more, for she is unaccustomed to the strain, and yet, by the way she arches her body against him, bringing them together so that she might tease him with her wetness, he thinks that is not the cause of her issued command.

    “It’s been too long since we were alone, ser.” She punctuates her statement with a tilt of her hips that slips the head of his cock through her slippery folds.

    “Fuck,” he hisses, grabbing her hip to end the teasing and bury himself inside of her.

    It has been moons. While the servants of Winterfell know the Lord Commander spends nights between their queen’s thighs, most men of the North would not take kindly to a lion twisted up in the shewolf’s furs. It would have been unwise to flaunt their trysts before their hosts, a fact that Sansa was forced to remind him of on more than one occasion, for while he has gained in years, he has not gained in caution.

    “I have every intention of having my fill of you,” she says with a sly little smile that quirks her pink lips, when she grabs hold of him and guides him to the spot to ease his suffering.

    He presses into her and she is warm and wet and tight. He is not just himself in this moment, he is something more, something greater, and he has barely thrust into her, when he draws back to drive into her again, chasing that elusive feeling of union.

    Slower, slower, he schools himself, as he attempts to focus his thoughts not on her cunt but on the tender stroke of her hands over his beard and through his hair and her sweet kisses. However, the part of him that wants to win, that wants to take, so that he knows she is his and he is hers and they are not so different and not forever damned, snaps his hips fast against her pliant body and makes his good hand ball the linens beside her red hair. Until he is nipping at her taut, rosy nipples and growling against her wet flesh and he spills inside of her without her ever finding her release.

    Propped on his forearms, he rests his forehead between her breasts, the sweat of his brow mingling with the blush of her arousal, kindled but not sated, and blows out a heavy breath. His gut clenches with a sickening mix of triumph and disappointment and he begins to soften inside of her, leaving his seed to slip out onto the bed.

    Still her fingers card through his hair. Still her legs wrap around him on a soft sigh. Still she persists.

    “Jaime,” she whispers. He is full of anger and still she pours her gentleness into him, as smoothly as honey sweetened milk. “We have all night.”

    More than that, for Sansa will persist. She is a survivor. Chosen by the queen for reasons he can’t bring himself to examine, Jaime Lannister survives too by the force of her will, by the brush of her hand over his cheek, and by their crooked dance of comfort.

    Chapter Text


    He knows he shouldn’t—he’s the Lord Commander, she’s the Lady Stark, and they were raised together as brother and sister, all things that should keep her from his thoughts—but he can’t seem to help himself, when the spring snows thaw and her letter arrives on black wings.


    Just one word written in her own elegant hand: come.


    He knows what she meant. She asked him not to absent himself from Winterfell for too long, when he rode away from her last, her fiery hair blowing on winter winds, but he has kept away, overcome by his duties at the Wall and simmering guilt over the line he had crossed.


    But her wish for him to visit once more is not where his mind strays, when he rolls onto his stomach and groans into his pillow. He thinks of that word said, not written. He thinks of her head tucked into his shoulder, her breath ghosting over his skin, her hand hot on his flesh, and her voice commanding him, Come.


    Chapter Text

    Brown hair slicked back in two victory rolls. Ruby red lips and heavily lined eyes. Heels making her already considerable height slightly imposing. Make her gams look damn good too. Every officer in the room’s eyes follow Senior Sister Alayne Stone around the room, jealous of her attentions. Her presence in their ranks is as welcome as the beer they serve. She’s a proper piece of cheesecake.

    Might be her beauty, might be the way she drags on her cigarette, or maybe it’s the way she touches your shoulder when she smiles, but she inevitably makes you think she could be yours, when she blinks her baby blues. She’ll talk your ear off about anything and she’s one helluva Jitterbug dancer, but it’s the way she listens—even to the geezers—to the latest dope with a wide eyed rapture that makes the men’s tongues wag, making them all look like a bunch of jerks.

    Every man except Jon, who she avoids so politely that he almost didn’t notice her reluctance to chat him up the way she does every other G.I. that passes through her ward. It shouldn’t, but it’s begun to rankle.

    The Dear John letter he got from his girl, Val, back home still stings and focusing on duty is lonely, and though there are plenty of snazzy nurses who’d be happy to go out for a night on the town, he wants something he can’t have—something from home.

    There’s something about her, something that makes Jon feel as if he knows her, as if she’s straight from Cedar Falls, which should be impossible, because he’d never met an English girl in his life before this war started. Her accent is clipped, her slang sometimes incomprehensible and a little shocking in a face that young and pretty, and her style isn’t like the girls’ at home. And yet, she’s so familiar.

    So familiar that he finds himself lying awake at night despite bones heavy with exhaustion, thinking about just what he’d like to do with Alayne Stone. He’d like to get familiar with those curves, barely hidden by navy rayon and seamed silk, like to take one of his Ropeyard Sundays and forget duty in favor of seeing if she tastes like home as much as she reminds him of it. Like to show her just what a boy from Cedar Falls knows.

    Chapter Text

    Jon never liked Sansa’s choice of a Lord Commander and the feeling increased with every quarterly visit he made to Winterfell. Although, he would never question Lady Stark’s wisdom in keeping the Kingslayer in her household or his elevation to such a vital post, for she is mistress of Winterfell and manages exceptionally well without his input. Only when she seeks his opinion does he give it and she has never questioned him on the subject of Jaime Lannister.

    That doesn’t stop him from scowling, when he enters Sansa’s bedchamber before anyone has yet to break their fast only to find the man has beaten him there and sits lounging in an arm chair with one leg lazily stretched out before him.

    Sansa requested Jon come to her on the morn, so they might talk when he is freshly rested after the journey from the Wall, having only arrived late last night. That is his excuse for entering at such a questionable hour, but he doesn’t see how the Kingslayer has any business being here this early or looking quite so at home.

    “Lord Commander Lannister.”


    Jon would happily remove that smug grin from his face if throttling her Lord Commander wouldn’t anger Sansa. Unfortunately it would. She sits there so companionably across from the man with streaks of grey in his blond hair, their feet nearly touching. They look downright cozy, despite the fact that he isn’t fit to lick Sansa’s boots.

    “Jon,” Sansa says, extending her hand to him as if to be kissed.

    The way she says his name is so different from the way she once did; not just the words, but the tone and inflection, lifting at the end like a softly spoken question, as if she wants to be sure of him. He never tires of it.

    When he strides towards her and places his hand in hers, she smiles up at him. She is beatific. She is the southroners’ Maiden or Mother. Her smile warm enough to melt ice. He is so undeniably drawn to her that instead of her hand, he bends to press a kiss to her cheek, a gesture usually saved for his arrivals and departures from Winterfell.

    The familiarity might be unexpected, but apparently not unwelcome, for she rests her free hand against his beard and hums, “Morning,” just as his lips brush her soft skin, heated from a scented bath, judging by the smell of juniper that lingers on her.

    A cleared throat from the Kingslayer’s corner is enough to make Jon certain that they have succeeded in making him as uncomfortable as Jon was upon intruding on this unanticipated scene of comfortable domesticity.


    Sansa, however, seems entirely at ease. She apparently thinks nothing of having the Kingslayer at her side with her hair damp and darkened, trailing over her shoulder, drying in the heat from the fire, and a dressing gown pulled tightly closed over what must be naught but a shift—all of which hints at the bath she must have emerged from not long before the Kingslayer found his way inside.

    Surely she wouldn’t have let him in before or during.

    “Shall I have our cooked oats and fruit brought here?” she asks, leaning forward to grasp a pewter bell—a motion that makes her gown gap and Jon flush.

    The Kingslayer stands, his good hand at his hip and his head tilted just enough that it is clear how amused he is by their display of affection or Jon’s sudden stiff limbed embarrassment. Moving between Jon and Sansa, he blocks Jon’s view of Sansa’s outstretched, creamy arm or the curve of her…

    “None for me, Sansa, though I’ll take my supper with you if the offer can be postponed until later.”

    Jon misses whatever silent sign she gives in response, and he is ready to rejoice in his victory, for the Kingslayer is not always so easily driven away—the man’s infernal presence too often limits the time Jon gets to spend alone with Sansa during his brief visits—but his inner triumph is short lived.

    The Kingslayer gets no further than the door, when he leans against the frame and announces, “Unless of course your brother takes pride of place.”

    Jon doesn’t want to hear Sansa’s answer, for fear he does not. They were next to nothing to each other once, not even close enough to warrant a goodbye, when first they parted—he for the Wall, she for King’s Landing—but they have grown closer and she certainly holds a place in his heart that outranks all others. Nevertheless, he has never sought confirmation that she feels similarly about him. For all he knows Jaime Lannister ranks higher, for he is here day in and day out; his duty keeps Sansa within reach, while Jon’s keeps them apart.

    He is spared her answer, when her Lord Commander continues, “I won’t be hurt. That’s the way it always worked in our house: siblings first.”

    Spared rejection, but not spared the burning shame of the filthy man’s insinuations, Jon knows with one blow he has likely ruined their morning alone, as Jon glances down to see Sansa’s ivory skin grown pink. She is affronted and rightfully so. He is too.

    And perhaps the jape wouldn’t sting quite so much if at night in his loneliest moments he didn’t want it to be true.

    Chapter Text

    Sansa long wished for revenge against the Lannisters, the family she blames for so many of the losses in her life. Jaime might be the only Lannister left, and he proved an easy enough target, having come right to her door a broken man. Gold of hair and riding a horse called Honor, he came to her in the Vale on a quest fit for song, seeking to fulfill a vow to her lady mother. Or so he claimed.

    It isn’t as if she could ask her lady mother whether or not Jaime Lannister was to be trusted. Because whatever was left of her died at his left hand, when Lady Stoneheart tried to have Brienne hung from a tree by a traitor’s rope. The Maid of Tarth admitted as much to Sansa, when they arrived at the Gates of the Moon, moaning her confession with her ugly, scarred face scrunched up in what looked like sincere regret for the action for which she took equal blame. Sansa received Brienne’s confession and Jaime’s unapologetic statement of purpose with composure, but she made a vow too. They’ll live to regret what they’ve done.

    Sansa could have dispatched them both right then and there, the way she did Petyr. When dinner was laid before them that first night, it could have been served with a side of poison. It would have been justice, but Stark justice isn’t quite as sweet as what she longs for. Revenge is better when it is drawn out and savored. So she went with them, allowed them to take her into the North, and carefully built the stage upon which she would play the mummer.

    It doesn’t take long to learn their weaknesses. Brienne is easy to read. The woman loves the one man who could never love her back even if she was not so very unattractive and massive. His inability has nothing to do with Brienne and everything to do with his own weakness—Cersei. Jaime Lannister never speaks of his dead sister, but Petyr spilled their perverse secrets into her ear and Sansa suspects the former queen is as much a phantom as his missing hand. He is a shell of a man and incapable of love, and though he cares about Brienne, admires her, even stares rather pointedly at her, when she isn’t looking, he does not love her. He never will, since she is not his twin.

    In plotting her revenge on these two, there is one thing decidedly in Sansa’s favor: she is a very fine mimic. She knows how to bring Cersei back to life through word, gesture, and deed, because she once wanted to be like the golden queen. She watched and envied her, and she only had to call upon those memories to recast herself as someone so like his twin that Jaime can’t help himself. She wants him to betray the memory of his sister, his one love, and hate himself for it. And she wants Brienne to know it and weep.

    Sansa is haughty, impatient, and willful. She is quick to anger. She doesn’t shy away from making demands of her one handed escort, and while she rewards him when he follows her instructions without error, she reacts poorly when disappointed. It is the sort of temperament most men would find distasteful, but she echoes the purr as well as the steely edge of Cersei’s voice and takes advantage of the way fire lights her hair until it shines like gold, and she can see the confusion in Jaime’s green eyes, when she pets his arm, her nails trailing over him with deliberate threat and promise.

    By the time his eyes follow her wherever she goes, Brienne can’t look either of them in the eye, Sansa feels invincible in her triumph, and when they reach the frozen shell of Winterfell, there is only one thing left to do to crown her glory.

    The great tragedy Sansa finds is not in revenge untasted, for Jaime’s face is tortured as much by pleasure as self loathing with each thrust of his cock between her legs, as he presses her wrists into the cold of the stone walls. There is no question that he despises his own weakness. No question he will come to her again, furtive in his need to bury himself inside of her and growling in disgust as he spills his seed on her thigh. There is no chance that Brienne will miss the change in him, and it will make her miserable. That is all how Sansa planned it.

    The tragedy is that her nature is all wrong for her purpose. Her need to love, to gentle and soothe betrays her. She is not made by the gods for revenge, however well trained by man in deception and cunning. Though the world has tried to break her, tried to remake her into something cruel and hard, some terrible, insistent core won’t let her hate and revel in the pain of either Jaime or the Maid. Brienne has been a devoted protector, proven herself good and true, and repaying her unkindly will bring Sansa no pleasure. Fucking Jaime gives her no pleasure either, although it is not only his punishing pace that prevents the coils of desire from winding tight in her belly.

    She cups his bearded cheek and smooths back his tangled golden locks, trying to ease the pain from his face with a kiss to his straining neck, as he moves towards completion. It is her attempt to calm and touch him anywhere but where their pelvises meet in the sloppy sound of congress that makes him pin her arms to the wall, one hand on either side of her head, one cold and smooth, the other warm and rough. He won’t allow her any gestures of affection, won’t allow himself to be coddled like a lover or a child, but she finds she can’t rein in her racing heart or her girlish thoughts. Though he holds her fast, she imagines tracing his side, tucking her head into the space between his head and shoulder, straddling his hips, her body canting with a much slower motion than these frenzied movements.

    “Jaime,” she whispers, trying to catch his feverish green eyes, but he looks away at the dusty floor, to the side, but never at her.

    She knew it not long after their travels began—he will never love another—and she meant to use that knowledge against him. But when he gasps his sister’s name as he withdraws from her body and empties hotly on her hitched up thigh, she is left hollowed out and empty. Empty of him, her chest echoing with the certainty that it is not only Brienne who will live with the pain of love unreturned. In a hell of her own creation, she has played her role too well and fooled herself. Revenge should be sweet, but it is the sweetness of love she craves.

    Chapter Text

    Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell. He is her Lord Commander, and that is all Jaime has ever been to her, save for one night, when she imbibed too much and he took comfort in the mummer’s show she performed for them both. Knight and lady. Pure of heart and body. Whole and good. She played at innocence and affection with such conviction that he could almost believe he was the first and not merely the one for the night. The only hint of deception was the sour taste of wine on her lips and the tears that streaked her cheeks, when he slumped over her in exhausted completion.

    Her lips are sour now too and her eyes are red from crying, when she stands on her toes in the lonely vestibule of her haunted keep and presses a chaste kiss to his chapped lips. His hand—the only one left to him—grasps her in surprise at this unexpected turn, and he can feel it in the thickness of her waist before she ever makes her confession.

    "I am with child."

    Chapter Text

    "It’s mundane."

    "Mundane?" Jorah parrots back, crossing his arms over his chest, as his editor frowns at his manuscript and flips her platinum blond hair over her shoulder.

    "Not your best work, I’m afraid."

    It’s his writing Dany’s critiquing, but it might as well be his manhood, for how it makes his insides twist.

    She catches him staring and raises her brows at him. “You need to prove to me that you can do better.”

    All he’s done is try to prove himself to her, since she was assigned to him as his new editor.

    "You looked like you were enjoying the first part," he says, pointing at the papers she’s already pushed off to the side of her desk.

    "Did I?"

    "You were smiling." Enough that he began to think maybe he was finally getting somewhere with her.

    "I was thinking about a preposterous book proposal that came across my desk earlier."

    He doesn’t believe her, but with his next book deal on the line, he’s in no position to argue.

    Chapter Text

    Jon lifts his beer in salute, as she looks from her seating card to the table number stuck in the floral arrangement and back again. Table nine is eight kids from Arya’s footballer team, Jon, and the bride’s sister.

    Arya apparently has a really bad sense of humor. It’s hard enough that her little sister is getting married, while Sansa is coming off a broken engagement without her sister sticking her at the kid’s table with Arya’s football mate, who looks like he’s going to trip over his feet anytime Sansa speaks to him.

    She’s used to him being in stained, smelly football kit. The tuxedo is a decided improvement, she thinks, sticking out a hip and giving him her most winning smile. He’s almost handsome with his curls slicked back. Might even make this kind of fun.

    "Looks like we’re at the kid’s table," she says, sliding her clutch onto the table.

    "Looks like."

    Handsome, but still hopelessly quiet. It’s a good thing she doesn’t need him to speak to her to piss off her sister.

    "We could get out of here."

    "You and me?"

    "You and me. Care to join me for a smoke?"

    Chapter Text

    Jon’s never been a big talker. He’s more action than words, which is why it’s surprising while they’re apart over summer break that he’s such an enthusiastic sexter.

    I’ve been thinking about being between your thighs all day. You taste so good.

    The little grey bubble of text makes her cheeks flush. She thinks of all the spring nights in his apartment, when he made her come with his hands and mouth and dick, and she tries to think of something to say back, her finger hovering over the screen. But Sansa can’t bring herself to type dirty things for her boyfriend to read late at night, when her parents are asleep two rooms over and Jon’s in a bunk, home from the oil fields.


    It doesn’t seem to bother him though.

    Thank you. And you’re welcome. Call me in the morning, sweetheart, will ya?

    He accepts her for who she is. Even if that means he’s left holding an awkward one way conversation. She’ll make it up to him—in the fall.

    Chapter Text

    Her speech is a little slurred by the time she slips around the corner of the rundown house where the party has been raging for two hours, and runs smack into Jaime Lannister.

    She hasn’t seen him since she was in foster care, and his bitch of a sister took her in for the meager support paycheck from the state that Sansa never saw a dime of. He was always nice if kind of aloof. Always totally hot too.

    "Hey, there," he says, catching her by the arm, as she pretends her knees go out from underneath her, making him play shining white knight to her damsel in distress. "Little tipsy?"

    She realizes when she looks up into his green eyes that they’re dull, completely void of recognition. He doesn’t remember her. But she’d been a redhead then and underage. Not any more.

    Chapter Text

    Sansa’s only been working in Baelish’s cathouse for a week to pay off the debt she incurred from being brought out here to escape her bastard of a fiancé, when Mya comes to her and announces in that brash voice of hers that there’s a shy gentleman downstairs looking for a girl with red hair.

    "Seems sweet. Widower, he says. Not a bad way to spend the evening if you got to spend it on your back."

    Baelish says Sansa’s nothing more than a lick and a promise. Doesn’t know her trade properly. He’s right.

    Sansa leans towards the mirror that’s badly in need of resilvering. Everything in this place is rundown, including the girls. She examines her reflection, turning her head from side to side, while Mya taps her heeled boot against the floor. I’ll be worn out too soon enough, she thinks, grabbing for the rouge pot. But at least she’ll never be addle-headed from those little balls of opium Baelish offers the girls. She knows better than to fall into that trap.

    "Send him up, I guess," she says, dabbing on two spots of red, one on either cheek.

    It was hardest the first time. Less so with each passing day. Sweet might be nice for a change. Might not even have to skip her evening meal to keep from chucking it up afterward.

    She hears his heavy tread in the doorway and looks up to see the man’s reflection in the mirror, too indistinct to make out, and swivels on the bench, letting the strap of her corset slip from her shoulder with a delicate shrug.

    "Christ Almighty. Sansa Stark."

    "Good Lord," Sansa says, covering up her exposed bosom with a shaking hand. It’s her brother in-law. The one they all counted dead back home. "Jon Snow."

    Chapter Text

    The only guys who have ever asked Sansa out were assholes. Nothing like Jon, who will totally hold your hair back while you puke, even though you’re not going to have sex with him after the party. Not because you don’t want to, but because he’s your best friend’s boyfriend. Off limits.

    "You okay?" he asks, as she sits up, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. "You want some water?"

    He’s just so damn nice.

    The last person in the world Sansa ever intended to fall for was her best friend’s boyfriend. She knows better. Chicks before dicks as Dany would say. An easy enough mantra for her friend to subscribe to, when every guy in the tri-state area wants to get in her panties.

    Strike that. Dany doesn’t wear panties. Jon probably loves that about her. Probably loves how uninhibited and confident her friend is. Guys find that stuff sexy. They do not find drunk, puking girls, who need constant reassurance to be sexy. Sober Sansa knows that. Even while she sways on the backs of her heels, sobriety a memory several wine coolers ago, she knows she shouldn’t ask him.

    "Do you think I’m pretty?"

    Chapter Text

    Sansa Stark was the kind of person Jon had no reason to talk to in high school. Didn’t mean he didn’t notice her. She always landed the leads in the school musicals, made her own dresses for prom, and she used to go to every single hockey game, despite the fact that she was a basketball not hockey cheerleader.

    He remembers her well enough, but it never occurred to him to look forward to seeing her again at their ten year reunion—the one Sam and Satin dragged him to practically kicking and screaming. But when he sees her coming over to their table, he’s not the least bit sorry the seat next to him is empty. She’s as pretty as he remembers. Prettier.

    He’s certain she’s going to peek at his name tag, when she sits down. It would be an easy enough cheat to cover for the fact that she doesn’t remember him. But she looks him straight in the eye without relying on the name scrawled in black sharpie and says his name all soft like she’s beyond pleased to see him again.

    Satin digs him in the ribs. Both his friends find somewhere else to be when she starts peppering him with questions.

    How are you?

    Can you believe it’s been ten years?

    What have you been up to?

    Where are you living now?

    Are you going to be around over the holidays?

    He does his best to answer, to keep her interest, so she doesn’t get up and walk away to talk with someone she actually knows properly.

    "Do you still play hockey?"

    "Uh, yeah, actually. Just a beer league. I wouldn’t think you’d remember that."

    "Course I do," she says, placing her hand on his forearm. If she moved her hand an inch to the left or right, she’d be touching his thigh. "You got a scholarship to play, didn’t you?"

    It’s like she’s mistaken him for someone else, someone she was friends with. Except, that can’t be, because he’s the only one to have come out of their program with a hockey scholarship. “Yeah, I kind of did.”

    "You deserved it. I came to every game, you know."

    He tips his beer back, finishing the bottle in one long draw, and sets it back down on the table. “I did know that.”

    "Did you ever think to wonder why?"

    Chapter Text

    Sansa isn’t sure why eHarmony thinks she and this Jon Snow character are a match. Looking through his profile, it doesn’t appear they have anything in common—he’s outdoorsy and in need of a fashion upgrade—but she’s sick of meeting losers in bars, so she takes a chance and he’s respectful in their online correspondence. A few days of trading messages back and forth and she’s comfortable agreeing to meet him.

    Their first date—a coffee shop mid afternoon with Jeyne’s number ready to go if he turns out to be awful and she needs an exit strategy—goes so well that she doesn’t wait for him to ask her out again. She makes the next move.

    "This has been fun. Would you want to do dinner? Next week maybe?"

    "Tonight if you like. I have absolutely nothing going on. No life. You should know that going in," he says, awkwardly rubbing at the back of his neck in a way she wouldn’t have thought to find attractive.

    As she closes the door to her car and calls Jeyne from the parking lot, she can’t help hoping she’ll be his new someone, so neither of them will need an eHarmony profile any more. It’s why when her friend asks her how it went, the first thing she thinks to ask is, “Do you think meeting online would be embarrassing to have to tell your kids about?”

    Chapter Text

    Jon asked her to stay inside with winter bringing the first heavy snows since their short summer showed signs of coming to a close. They said their goodbyes inside the walls of Winterfell in bed with her astride him, the only way that feels comfortable with her belly rounded with a babe—their first—that will be born while he is gone. But Jon learned not long after his aunt sent him to the North to marry his former sister that while Sansa is a good lady wife, she is also surprisingly stubborn.

    Her furs no longer fit her, refusing to close in the front. They have been put aside for his, and as she walks over the snow, made icy by the day’s high sun, it drags, leaving a trail swept clean behind her.

    "You could fall," he says, as he tightens the girth of his saddle.

    His squire never gets it quite tight enough and Sansa has told him she’ll never forgive him if he dies. It wouldn’t do to break his promise to return to her in one piece ten feet from the gates of Winterfell by falling from his horse.

    She ignores his grumbled concern and covers his hand with her own. There is affection between them. Real affection that has slowly shifted from something awkwardly familial to something more appropriate for a man and his wife to feel for each other. He didn’t choose Sansa—she was chosen for him for political reasons—but he would choose her now over all the women in the realm. Still, they are never affectionate before their household, keeping what they feel for each other within the confines of her chambers, making even this small gesture a novelty.

    "I hate her," she says, her leather clad, narrow fingers curling over his. "You can tell her that when you get to King’s Landing."

    "She’ll be pleased to hear from you," he says with a sigh.

    "If I would have known she would have brought another war to our shores, I would have seen to it she ended up as dead as Petyr."

    "Sansa," he warns, for though they harbor no traitors within their household, tempting the gods in this manner is never good.

    "I hate her for taking you away."

    "It’s the last time," he swears. The last war. The last time he will risk his life in someone else’s conflict. The last time he will ride away from her.

    Even as he swears it, he knows it’s as flimsy a vow as the one he made to her, while feeling his babe move under his hand.

    I won’t die.

    Every vow he ever made finally succumbed to the vagaries of life. Except one the that he made to her before the heart tree. That has only grown stronger and more real.

    It isn’t them—or hasn’t been up until now—but he inclines his head to kiss her brow, though his men stand around them, pretending not to watch. “I love you. Six moons, no more. I’ll be back.”

    Chapter Text

    It’s a cosmic joke that Jaime only ever agreed to have kids with Cersei because she wanted them, and now she’s gone and he’s left to raise them on his own. He doesn’t last a week before hiring a nanny.

    "Just remember she’s there to care for your children, not be your wife," Brienne says over the phone after he tells her about the girl he hired—straight out of college, sweet without being cloying, really good with the kids.

    It’s an outrageous warning, because he never had a roving eye. That was Cersei’s problem, not his.

    "She’s not my type," he says. Pretty, but not his type.

    "I know how you get, Jaime."

    "How do I get?"

    "Confused. You mistake one thing for another."

    He mistook Brienne’s friendship for something else once, but he was fresh from a divorce. He couldn’t be held responsible for that mess.

    Surely it’s not confusion though that tightens his gut, when he watches Sansa sing a song she’s made up about Tommen, the knight of kittens, while strumming her guitar and giving him that glossy lipped smile over his towheaded toddler’s head.

    Chapter Text

    Jon wishes he hadn’t just witnessed the scene between Sansa and her boyfriend, but he did. It leaves him feeling uncomfortably compelled to say something, because that’s not the way things should be between a guy and his girlfriend.

    He watches her from his perch on the dock, completely ignored fishing pole in hand. Instead, he’s focused on the in and out dip of her toe in the water. She pulls the red popsicle from her mouth and turns to face him, leaning back on one hand that extends behind her.

    "He’s got low self esteem," she says, using her popsicle to gesture towards the house, where Sandor has stomped off. "That’s why he acts that way."

    "You know what I was going to say then."

    She twists her hand to lick a melting drip of red that runs towards her wrist. Jon looks back over the water. He can’t afford to stare. It’s hard to hide anything in these swim trunks.

    "That I could do better?" she says, as she slips into the water, keeping the popsicle carefully held above the water as she pulls her way along the dock towards him. "Or that he’s too old for me?"

    She’s propped right by his feet by the time she stops and looks up at him with her popsicle held over her eyes like a sun shade. “Jon?”

    "You deserve someone who is nice to you."

    "Who would you suggest?"

    Jon tugs on the line, pretending there’s something there. It’s a successful tactic until her hand snakes up and closes around his bare ankle.

    "Who would you suggest?" she repeats. "You?"

    Chapter Text

    It’s been fifteen years. There have been spouses and girlfriends and even a kid in between the last time Jon saw Sansa Stark with her hair in a high ponytail and cotton candy stuck to her index finger and tonight, when he walked into a bar alone and walked out with his high school girlfriend.

    It’s hard to remember at the moment why they broke up. Teenage bullshit probably. That air of superiority that was so in conflict with her generous nature. Their mutual immaturity. His lack of self esteem.

    "God, you were always so good at this," she pants, as his mouth closes on one dusky red nipple.

    They’re darker than they used to be, when she was all peach and pink and carelessly cruel. But his dick doesn’t feel any different moving inside of her with her clawing at his back and pulling at his hair. That’s the best kind of familiar. All that shit that happened between them couldn’t have been worth giving this up.

    "Fuck," he curses, as her hips rise to meet his.

    She shushes him softly on a breathy laugh. “Eddie’s in the next room asleep.”

    "Kids sleep like the dead, right?" he asks, flipping her over and drawing her hair over her shoulder, gathering it into his fist. Not to tug. Sansa doesn’t like it rough and he’d rather be gentle. He just wants to feel it slip through his hand all cool and silky.

    "But not through a headboard knocking into their wall all night."

    All night. That’s exactly what he wants. Even her five year old doesn’t feel like a good reason not to stay for breakfast.

    Chapter Text

    "Jeans, really? Couldn’t you have tried a little bit?" Sansa asks, leaning into the door, as Jon shoulders through without so much as a hello.

    "Robb here?"

    She points toward the kitchen, where half a dozen people are putting on airs, talking politics.

    "This is supposed to be a nice party," she calls after him.

    And it is a nice party, once Jon’s stuck a chair under the doorknob of the pantry to keep anyone from interrupting them.

    "Don’t you think you’re laying it on kind of thick?" he asks, fingers crooked inside of her, making her pant.

    "What?" she asks, clinging to his neck so she doesn’t slide down the wall of preserves her mother cans every fall.

    His fingers slip out and she groans in frustration. She was close.

    "They assumed we didn’t like each other, when you ignored me," he says, kneeling down on the floor, her skirt fisted in his hands. "You probably don’t have to act like you actively hate me for them not to catch on."

    Chapter Text

    Sansa has no choice but to go back to work after Harry leaves. Bills have to be paid, and that unfortunately means finding someone else to care for her children. She thinks she’s prepared herself for it, but the first morning of her new job, she comes back through the door three times, explaining more for her benefit than theirs that she will be coming back and mommy loves them very much.

    The fourth time, she gets all the way to the car before coming back, and Jon stops her at the door. “I just got them set up to paint rocks.”

    "Rocks?" Sansa says, peering over his shoulder.

    Caitlin and Lisa pick through a pile of smooth rocks, turning them over in their chubby little hands.

    "Yeah, we’re going to have a lot of fun today."

    Sansa gives Jon a tight smile. Jeyne said not to hire a male nanny. She said there was something creepy about it, but Sansa felt safe with him the moment he showed up to interview for the job. The girls picked him too, when she asked them what they thought. They chose him more for the big white Samoyed he’d be bringing along, but Sansa knows they’ll end up loving Jon too.

    "I’m just going to give them one last kiss."

    "Hey," he says, reaching out to touch her shoulder. "You’re going to be fine, and when you get home, you can tell us all about it."

    Chapter Text

    It seems like the safe choice, when she chooses him for a lord husband. Sansa knows Jaime Lannister is in love with a dead woman and too consumed by his own personal tragedies than to interfere with the way she wants to rule her kingdom. He will make no claims on her body, unless she invites him, and he will certainly make no claims on her heart.

    It also handily puts an end to the pressure from her people to marry and produce an heir, and stops the endless line of suitors, who marched through her door, spilling lies as sticky sweet as honey.

    It’s only when he gives her an heir, one that looks so much like a Lannister that it should make her skin crawl, that things stop feeling safe. She loves her boy, who she gives a good Northern name, despite his southron blond hair and bright blue eyes. There is nothing in Sansa’s nature that could make her be anything less than violently in love with her child. That he resembles his handsome father does nothing to alter her natural feelings. Not in regards to the babe.

    Jaime still plays at being the gallant if distracted husband, when the need arises to put on a show before others, but his playacting suddenly hurts. That he takes no interest in their child cuts her. His impersonal touch makes her curl into herself after he’s left her bed.

    She looks at Beron, sucking his thumb as she bounces him on her knee in the nursery, and she sees Jaime. She looks up from her porridge, as she breaks her fast opposite her husband, and in the lines of his face she sees Beron. Her love for Beron grows like a vine, creeping from the plot where it took root to spread where she would not have it.

    It is the wrong solution to her dilemma, but she suggests it all the same in a vain attempt to fill the hole that grows within her with each passing day. “I would have another child, Ser. For the good of the family.”

    He doesn’t even bother to look her in the eye. "As you wish."

    Chapter Text

    They’ve all had too much to drink. Weekends at the Stark ski cabin tend to involve cider and games and outrageous dares until half of them are passed out.

    That’s what Jon is hoping to do, when he leaves the hall bath to stumble back to the room he shares with Robb. Inebriation and forgetting his glasses on the bedside table back at home make it impossible with his contacts out to actually find which room is his, however. They all look the same and they’re all shut. Counting back from the bathroom doesn’t work, because he gets confused past five every time he lifts his hands to count off the doors.

    So he knocks. Just to be safe. Although he’s almost sure he’s got the right one. He closes one eye too and holds on to the wall to keep everything from spinning, while he waits for Robb to open the door and ask him why the hell he’s knocking.

    Sansa must be expecting someone else. Otherwise she wouldn’t turn so pink in such interesting places, when she opens the door and stares back at him naked as the day she was born. He’s thought about those places before—not that he’d want Robb knowing that—but he’s never actually seen them. She’s got a boyfriend. Joff. Total dick. Really bad at flip cup if tonight is anything to go by.

    Jon means to close both eyes as he stutters an apology, but when one eye closes, the other pops open, reversing his pirate stare. The door closes in his face with a slam, and he stumbles back.

    Right girl. Wrong door

    Chapter Text

    Sansa lets out a shaky breath, as Jon puts distance between them and the angry crowd, pressing the pedal to the floor and shifting into a higher gear as they take a corner too fast and she’s forced to grab for the door.

    Sansa has a rather low opinion of humanity in general, and the spread of the fascist movement has a good deal to do with that. The vast majority of men might be a blight upon this earth, but Jon’s the real thing: a knight in shining armor masquerading as a chauffeur.

    By driving the car up onto the pavement, when the Blackshirts appeared outside the dress shop, where she was being measured for her new gown, by getting out of the family’s car to push those angry men aside and get her safely away, he put himself at risk. He calls himself Jon, which is short for Yonatan, and with his inky black curls and fake surname—Snow—it’s an open secret in the Stark family that their chauffeur is a Jew.

    Sansa’s ashamed to admit that once made her act rather differently toward him. She wasn’t as friendly with him as she was the other of servants in case anyone might take note. She realized several months ago that she shouldn’t care so very much about horrible people’s opinions. She certainly doesn’t want to be anything like those hateful men with batons in their hideous uniforms.

    But the damage is surely already done, which makes her oddly ill at ease, when she traces with her eyes his collar and the way his hair curls over it in the back. Jon is always quiet around her. The only reason he made such a heroic effort to ensure her safety was because he’s a genuinely upstanding man, not because of any personal attachment he harbors for her.

    "Are you all right, Miss Stark?"

    "Sansa. Call me Sansa, please."

    It’s the third time this week she has reminded him.

    His grey eyes cut to hers in the rear-view mirror, and they look so very sad to her. She’s sad too. Sad to think of what they’re coming to as a nation, when men like that rule the streets.

    "And yes, I’m fine. Thank you. You quite saved the day."

    "I’m just sorry your day was spoiled," he says, eyes focused on the road once more.

    "Don’t even think to mention that."

    "Is there somewhere else I can take you?"

    What she wants to ask is how far they’d have to drive to go somewhere no one would look twice to see them sitting at tea together, but she knows the answer.

    "Just home, please."

    Chapter Text

    Sansa leans across the table, strewn with business for the reconstituted Night’s Watch. Dany sent him here to keep him away from the Iron Throne. As if he’d ever want it. She’s sent orders for Sansa now too. Perhaps whispers of what goes on between the queen’s nephew and Sansa Stark during the Lord Commander’s visits to Winterfell reached her ears. Dragons have excellent hearing.

    She’ll hear of Sansa’s flight to the Wall as well.

    Sansa’s hand grasps his with the sort of strength he didn’t believe her capable of when they were children. He squeezes back, though his first words when she came here weren’t welcoming.

    "Come with me, Jon. To the East."

    "That will never work. You know it won’t."

    Daenerys has a tenacity that verges on frightening. If they ran, she would follow.

    "We can disappear."

    Sansa could, she’s done as much before underneath the noses of half of Westeros. But the two of them together? He is not an unknown commodity any longer. Men still insist upon calling him Azor Ahai. It’s as troubling a title as he once found Ned Stark’s bastard to be.

    "My duty is here," he says, as she digs her nails into the palm of his hand.

    "Would you have me do mine as well then?" Daenerys has chosen a lord husband for Sansa. Rickon is of age and she is no longer needed at Winterfell. "Marry Willas Tyrell?"

    It costs him to say it, but he manages around the lump in his throat. “They say he’s a good man.” It could be worse. He won’t have to worry about her with Willas Tyrell. He’ll only have to mourn the loss of her. But his former sister was never his to have.

    She yanks back her hand, jerking his arm in the socket. He grimaces at his shoulder. It aches sometimes—a war wound.

    "Shall I thank her for it then?"

    "Of course not," he says with a roll of his shoulder. Daenerys means it as no great kindness. She’s sending Sansa as far away from Jon as possible, so there are no dark haired, bastard babies to make claims on her throne. Claims that might be seized upon by the North or the Riverlands or even the Vale. "But it isn’t thanks she requires." Just compliance. When they wouldn’t love her, Daenerys accepted a kingdom full of those weary of war and winter and their respective threats, who bent the knee as much out of fear of her dragons as consent for her rule.

    "I’ll die in the South."

    Sansa isn’t so weak as that, and they both know it. Neither of them will die if she goes. It will only feel like it. Familiarity with death makes it no more pleasant a prospect.

    "You’ll go and you’ll live." Give Willas a house full of beautiful babes and love them even if she doesn’t come to love Willas, which she no doubt will. That’s what she is built to do. Her loving Jon is proof enough of that.

    Sansa trails a finger over the edge of his desk, blue eyes fixed upon him. “They say Arya is in the East.”

    He frowns back at her. It’s a manipulation. A well played one, and from the slight quirk of her lips, she knows it. Before he fell in love with Sansa, he considered defying his aunt by refusing to return to the Wall. He came close to boarding a ship to look for the sister dearest to him. He wanted to forget about Others and thrones and dragons and be with his family.

    He ended up with Sansa instead. In her bed. In the man’s chambers they both called father.

    "Come away. Do it for Arya," she says, her voice grown softer.

    It isn’t the prospect of being united with Arya that has him considering how quickly the pair of them could ride for White Harbor and whether he has anything that isn't black in his trunks to dress the pair of them in, so they might pass as something other than two men from the Night’s Watch. No, it is the realization that Sansa believes the only way to sway him is to promise him something better. Something other than herself.

    Chapter Text

    "What in the devil are you doing here?"

    Sansa doesn’t care to say what brought her to Petyr’s establishment or what she’s been through since. She’ll take a tone with him. One made to make him feel the full weight of his wickedness. “I think you ought to tell me first what you’re doing here.”

    Letting her hand drop away from her breast, she turns her nose up at him.

    Jon was always ace-high. Not the sort you’d find consorting in a cathouse. Mother didn’t like it when he married Arya, and Sansa’s didn’t much like it either. But not because he wasthat sort of man. The sort of man he was would feel right bad about being caught someplace like this.

    Scrubbing his beard, he clears his throat. “Looking for a lady.”

    "So I heard," Sansa says, standing up from the dirty velvet dressing table bench. "One with red hair."

    As she twists a curl around her index finger, he turns as red as her rouge pot and holds a roughened palm out to stop her. “No, I’m looking for someone I thought might be here.”

    Jon Snow searching cathouses for some whore. He’s as sweet as Mya claimed by the fumbling look of him. Not quite the man he was before though. Sansa wonders whether Jon met his redheaded whore before Arya died. Most likely after. Whatever has become of him, he loved her sister.

    Arya was no powdered, perfumed strumpet. If he suspected his lady might be here, his tastes have changed. Loneliness does strange things to them all. Otherwise Sansa wouldn’t feel thrilled to the bone to see him.

    "You’ve found me instead. Disappointed?" she asks, settling her weight into the curve of one corseted hip.

    His eyes follow the action and then dart back up. Her playful jawing has worked: she’s the whore but he’s the one who looks guilty. Petyr keeps reminding her how terrible she is at whoring, but she’s not without some skills.

    "Yes, I’m terribly disappointed, Miss Stark, but not like you think," he says, looking over his shoulder at the still half open door. "You’ve no business here."

    "And yet, here I am."

    His lovely full mouth sets in that straight line she remembers so well from back when. “I can’t leave you here.”


    She’s all slow blinks and false disinterest, her eyes skimming the room as if there isn’t one sorry inch she hasn’t already committed to memory. There’s been no one to help since Dontos, and after that she’d given up hope. And as much as seeing Jon—Jon of all people!—sparks something in her chest, she can’t let it show.

    Jon isn’t one to tease—she’s unaware of him having any sense of humor at all—but when the difficulty of the situation is made plain and he decides it’s best not to get involved, she doesn’t want to have appeared overeager about leaving with him. Yes, she’s desperate, but a sliver of pride is all she has left.

    "I couldn’t look at myself straight on if I left you."

    If he means to get her out, it isn’t due to any fondness for her. She wasn’t all that nice, when Arya brought him around their house on Winterfell. But maybe that doesn’t much matter to this new Jon Snow.

    "How very honorable," she says with a sway of her hips and a pout. "But you do know girls don’t just walk out of these establishments." Certainly not as easily as they walk in. Petyr won’t want to let her go.

    Jon didn’t find who he came looking for, but if red hair is his poison, all the better for Sansa. She can even play at being Arya if she puts her mind to it. She can be who he needs. She can ensure he’s as desperate as she is. Desperate enough to risk everything.

    Her little show is wasted, however. He’s fixated on the door. Leaning, he peers over the threshold towards the drunken antics below. “I figured.”

    "Do you have something in mind?"

    His hand pats his side, where a holster bulges beneath his heavy leather coat. “No, but I am heeled.”

    A holster. A gun. Of course. Sansa smiles to herself. She’s seen blood flow before, but never on her account.

    "Best be ready to make use of it then."

    Chapter Text

    Sansa draws her finger down the ridge of his broken nose. With the crook, it doesn’t look entirely like Cersei’s. Or Joffrey’s. If she squints in the firelight, she can pretend his hair is a shade darker too. Closer to sand and not spun gold. The flush from the cold on his cheeks makes him look almost Northern. Pale skin, high color, dark hair.

    That’s asking too much perhaps, she thinks, tucking herself into his side. Not a Northerner, but a good man. A hero like the songs of old.

    He moans at the slight jostling of his body. He hasn’t slept right since the blow he took to the head. Nothing is right about him. He doesn’t even remember who he is, and Sansa supposes since her knight in shining armor can’t hold a sword and can’t mount a horse, they’ll both die here. Either when another bandit comes along and takes them unaware during the night or when dragons catch up to them.

    The dragons will be here soon, she thinks, rubbing her nose in the furs she’s wrapped him in. It makes no difference. They were never going to make it to the North. He was the silly one, thinking he might deliver her to her half-brother.

    Whatever time they have left, she might as well spend it lost in her head. He’s lost in his after all. Doesn’t even know his name.

    Jack, she told him, thinking of the Age of Heroes, of Nine-Fingered Jack from the Riverlands, though the Kingslayer only has five. He wouldn’t appreciate the comparison. He scowls every time he looks down at his stump.

    When she was sure Jaime wasn’t about to die, she scurried away to toss the wretched golden hand in the river. She stood there, watching it sink below the icy waters with a smile on her chapped lips. They’re better without it. It was as useless as he always claimed and too likely to jar some memory Sansa would prefer lost forever.

    Before she was torn—hating him for what he was and loving him for stealing her away from the Vale and all that awaited her there. There’s no struggle now.

    She couldn’t love a Lannister. Not even one that swore he came at her mother’s behest. You can’t trust Lannisters. She learned that lesson at the price of her lord father’s head. But this tawny haired knight with the broken nose doesn’t know he’s a Lannister, and she can forget.

    Chapter Text

    Jon’s been watching the pretty girl at the other end of the bar for the last fifteen minutes. It’s the red hair. His heart always gives that painful throb, when he spots some girl with hair like Ygritte’s. This one’s too dark. More like Robb’s. Close enough to keep drawing his gaze back though. But it’s when he sees the tall guy with the heavy scarring on one side of his face grab her wrist that Jon finally stands up, leaving his mostly empty beer behind.

    "Hey, sweetheart," he says, sliding in beside her. "Did you order me something?" he asks, draping his arm over the back of her bar stool.

    The guy is scrutinizing Jon and misses the look of confusion that passes over her face. Sizing him up, Jon thinks, readying himself for something. He’s huge and Jon isn’t looking for a fight, but he’s also not going to stand by and watch this girl get intimidated. Jon’s mother taught him better than that.

    "Can I help you?" Jon demands, giving the guy the once over.

    "He was just leaving," the girl says, and as if on cue, the man lets go of her wrist.

    "Sorry, man."

    Jon gives him one more healthy scowl, as the guy turns to walk away, relief that he isn’t going to end up with a broken jaw deflating his chest. "Sorry about that," Jon says, pulling back his arm.

    "What are you apologizing for?” she asks.

    "I don’t know," he admits, feeling suddenly stupid. "Seems like someone should apologize to you and not your fake husband though."

    "Oh, husband is it? Well, that was a rather well timed act of make-believe."

    He scrubs at the back of his neck. “It was nothing. I’ll um, I’ll leave you alone in a sec, soon as that guy clears out.”

    "No rush. I’ll buy you that drink you wanted, sweetheart.” She smiles. It’s the brightest, most perfect smile he’s ever seen that wasn’t on a movie screen. “Unless you’re waiting for someone.”

    No, his someone is gone and he’s as lonely as most of the people in this hotel bar. “You sure?”

    She pats the empty stool next to her. “Course I am. At least one drink for the hero of the night.”

    Chapter Text

    "Do you think we’re the last three people left?" Sansa asks, shrugging the too big coat they found in the abandoned car tighter around herself.

    Jon pokes at the ground, drawing figures in the dirt with a stick. “Dunno.”

    She scoots closer to him, leaning into his side with her knees pulled up to her chest. For warmth. Sometimes all three of them—Jon, Sansa, and Jaime—sleep crammed together in some dusty corner, trying not to freeze. Jon is careful about where he puts his hands on those nights. Jaime is not.

    "I hate to think it, you know? That we’re all alone."

    If they are—and they very well might be for how long they’ve wandered without encountering another living soul—he wishes the virus had taken one more measly life. He’d happily be the last man left on Earth if it meant being rid of Jaime.

    Jaime pulled her out of that hospital, when the government started locking people up, sick or not. When Jaime got to her, Jon was still on a bent bike, trying to get back to Winterfell, so he could get Sansa’s siblings out of their schools, which were quickly becoming involuntary quarantine stations. Didn’t make it in time either. Didn’t get them and didn’t get Sansa. Jaime is the one who managed that.

    She’d lose her mind if something happened to Jaime. That’s why Jon has been keeping an eye on Jaime's hand. Or where his hand used to be before that nasty incident with the automatic door. Jon will have to cut it off at the elbow if it starts showing signs of infection. He’ll have to save the son of a bitch. For Sansa.

    They’re all hungry, but Jaime looks at Sansa like he wants to make a meal of her. He did. At least once, while they were scavenging a Texaco station. Neither of them know Jon saw, but he got a prime view through the smashed out front window of the station. The image of the two of them in the convenience food aisle, opened packages scattered on the tile floor around their feet, and Jaime’s one hand fisted deep in Sansa’s hair is seared on the backs of Jon’s eyelids, waiting for him every time he closes his eyes.

    "There have got to be others," he says, tossing the stick away.

    Because it’s one thing to be the last man on Earth, and another to be the second to last one.

    Chapter Text

    Jon keeps muttering, “Oh God,” to himself, and with their bodies bent over on the park bench and their wrists handcuffed together, Sansa can feel his panted exhalations as much as she can hear the desperation in his exclamations.

    "Please calm down. You’re not helping."

    "Sansa, your dad is going to literally kill me for getting you arrested."

    "Not literally. Metaphorically maybe.”

    He groans.

    "Don’t worry. I’m going to think of something," she tells him. Of course, crying didn’t work. The cop only looked annoyed with her, when the fat tears started rolling down her cheeks, and that usually works on older guys. Unfortunately, with alcohol and Jon’s new kisses fogging her mind, very little else in terms of a plan seems to be coming to her.

    "Maybe they’ll let us go. With a warning or something. Cops do that, right?" Feel sorry for kids and let them go with a warning for underage drinking?

    "No, they’d don’t. They definitely don’t."

    "Then we’ll go to jail."

    Sansa has never been in trouble, not even so much as a detention on her school record, but she’s having a hard time feeling too upset about the prospect. She might feel differently about that in the sober light of day, but she’s not going to feel differently about Jon. Not after she’s gone through a heap of bad guys. She knows a good one when she sees one. Even if he’s handcuffed at the moment.

    "Fuck," he hisses. "Your dad is never going to let me go out with you now."

    Sansa smiles and rattles the cuffs between them. “Are you asking me out, Jon?”

    He twists to look at her. She can smell the beer on his breath. “Is that really what you’re worried about right now?”


    It’s not quite a smile, but Sansa thinks that little twitch of his lip means that underneath his pale white panic, he’s as happy as she is.

    Chapter Text

    "Truth or dare," Sansa says, her bare toes curling over his dashboard.

    They haven’t spoken in over an hour, and to fill the space, Jon’s been switching from one radio station to the other as they fade in and out. There’s not much choice out here. All country, which neither of them like.

    "What?" he asks, grabbing for the knob.

    She points one foot. To keep the car on the road, he’s avoided staring at her long, freckled legs, but he can’t help looking, when her toes wiggle against the cracked plastic of the dash.

    "Truth or dare."

    He’s never played a game with Sansa in his life. Anytime he screws around with Robb or Arya, Sansa can’t be bothered to join in. She prefers to sit off to the side and whisper behind her hand with her friend Jeyne. He’s dropped more than one football, knowing the pair of them were staring.

    "Jon, I’m trying to make the time go by. Are you going to play?"

    He’s more of a dare guy, but there are no dares he could possibly do from behind the wheel of his beat up Chevy. “Truth,” he says, reaching for the Big Gulp in the console. It’s mostly ice and he taps it against his lips, knocking back a couple of cubes.

    "Truth," she muses, touching her first two fingers to her lips. "Okay. Why Ygritte?"

    Jon chokes, sputtering watered down Dr. Pepper and slivers of ice. With one hand on the wheel, he beats his chest with his fist, trying to stop the repulsive display.

    Sansa seems largely unaffected. She bends forward, letting her feet slip back down to the floor, and pops open his glove box to fish around for the fast food napkins she shoved in there two stops ago.

    "Thanks," he gurgles, taking the grease spotted napkin from the tips of her perfectly manicured fingernails.

    "You okay?"

    He wipes his mouth, takes a deep breath, and nods. “You know Ygritte?”

    "I don’t know her, but I know about her. About you two.”

    Which is surprising, because they’ve kept it a secret.

    He crumples up the napkin and lets it fall in his lap. “Robb doesn’t even know.” If he was going to tell anyone, it would have been Robb. Not Sansa. They’re not remotely close. He mostly keeps out of her way. The only reason they’re in this car together is that her aunt died and he’s her ride back to Wisconsin from school.

    "I know everything," she says, and when he glances quickly sideways at her, she’s wearing an almost silly grin.

    "Not really," she says with a flutter of her hand. "Ygritte told me."

    Jon clears his throat, fighting back another cough.

    "That weird you out?"

    "Kind of." He can’t imagine why Ygritte would confide in Sansa of all people.

    "We’re supposed to be playing a game, Jon," she says, putting her feet back up.

    "Right. Uh…" Jon drums his hands against the steering wheel.

    "I mean, is it because she reminds you of Arya?"

    "Woah. No," he says, cutting her off. Ygritte does remind him of Arya, but Sansa won’t understand how that doesn’t mean he wants her sister. She’ll go running back to Jeyne—or worse, her mother—and everything will be ruined for him with the Starks. "It’s not that at all."

    "Okay." She drags her hand through her ponytail, flipping it over her shoulder until it covers the strap of her top in a wide swatch of red. "She remind you of me?"

    The wheel jerks in his hand, and she laughs. “Sorry. Just curious, ‘cause Ygritte said a funny thing to me.”

    Jon’s mouth has gone dry and he wishes he still had some soda left. He doesn’t though and his bladder is full to bursting.


    "She said I should stay away from you. On this trip. She’s not thrilled we’re going to be alone like this."

    "I don’t know why she would say something like that. I never talk about you. It’s…that’s nonsense." He’s babbling, he knows he is, but his heart has sped up and he’s sweating and they’re in this little car together, where she’s already witnessed him spewing soda and spit and now he’s going to smell like flop sweat.

    "Course it’s ridiculous. Stupid, right?"

    Except Ygritte isn’t stupid. He’s convinced he knows almost nothing, but Ygritte is always eerily right. That’s what freaks him out the most.

    Chapter Text

    "Someone didn’t want her," Jon says, peering over the bundle Sansa holds pressed to her chest.

    He knows it wasn’t like this with him—unwanted and abandoned to the elements—but the bastard boy in him feels as angry looking at the little wrinkled face as Sansa looks happy.

    She gently traces the curve of the babe’s cheek. Jon would like to touch the babe as well, but he keeps his hands at his side. They make an odd tableau with the babe here between them—Lady Stark and Prince Targaryen, the lady’s former brother and the heir to the throne, who finds it impossible to heed his aunt’s calls to come south. Sansa doesn’t sense the oddness, because to her he is just her kindly brother come to stay and help with the rebuilding of Winterfell. Somehow he fears if he touches the babe, it will become clear to Sansa what keeps him here, what he wants, and how this little babe reminds him of it, and she will urge him to leave with more vehemence than the Mother of Dragons ever has.

    "It isn’t always about wanting. Whoever it was might not have been able to care for her. Some village girl perhaps."

    "I expect you’re right."

    There’s no one for miles outside the winter town beyond Winterfell’s walls, everyone having drawn close after winter ended and began yet again in less than one name day’s passing.

    "She did her best. She knew we would find her," Sansa says, more easily forgiving than Jon can find it in himself to be.

    Sansa isn’t wrong. There must have been some intention in leaving the babe where the mother did—at the gates of Winterfell.

    The men discovered the babe in a basket nearly blue with the cold. The fire and Sansa’s arms have warmed the babe, but it will need more than warmth soon enough. The little one is already starting to stir in Sansa’s arms, turning into the breast of the maiden Lady of Winterfell.

    "She’ll need a wet nurse. Elayna perhaps."

    The slip of a serving girl not yet fifteen has a babe young enough that he is still at the breast. Jon knows of it, because he has special interest in the girl and her fatherless child. She grew thick with child not long after Jon arrived back in the North, and when she would not give up the father’s name, Jon felt duty bound to step in. He is the one who suggested to Sansa that Elayna work lighter kitchen duty in the second half of her pregnancy. He saw to it that the maester attended her, rather than one of the women in winter town. And when the babe was brought into the world, he made a practice of visiting the dark haired little boy to ensure that his needs were being met. He doesn’t have a father, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the boy: he’s hale and hearty and always has a gummy smile for Jon. No doubt due to Elayna’s attentive care.

    The smile Sansa has worn since he came to her solar to see the babe disappears in a purse of her rosy lips. “If you like.”

    "She’s a good mother," Jon adds, tilting his head to watch the yawn that stretches the babe’s mouth wide.

    "I’m sure she is. You would know better than I."

    Sansa turns and he can no longer see her face or the babe’s.

    "I didn’t mean to overstep." Sansa is the mistress of Winterfell and he should not have presumed to act in concert with her, as if he is the lord to her lady. This is the awkwardness he felt, unfurling in his blood, making him speak out of turn. It is the babe. The sweet smell of it and the soft voice Sansa speaks in with her head bent over the little girl. It is the babe and the three of them alone here together like he has sometimes let himself dream of in the dark of his room. "It’s your choice of course."

    When he first came, Sansa looked at him as if he had come to steal everything away from her. As an outsider, an interloper with a crown on his head that gave him the power to take whatever he wanted. Her voice is as frosty now as it ever was then, when she says, “How good of you to remember.” And the illusion of their family rebuilt within these walls is dashed as quickly as it took root in his heart.

    The babe gives a thin little cry.

    Sansa rocks it and softly shushes her, but the cry gains in strength until Sansa says, “You’ll know where to find her. Won’t you?”

    He hates to have to ask. "Elayna?"

    Sansa gives no response, and Jon turns towards the door. “I’ll have her sent to you, my lady.”

    Chapter Text

    "Quit wiggling," Jaime says, placing his good hand on Sansa’s hip and holding her away from the cradle of his, where she keeps relentlessly rolling back into him.


    "You know bloody well why," he says, and he digs the tips of his fingers into her flesh for good measure, the way he’s tempted to dig them into the thickness of her arse.

    Even if she left Petyr’s household a maid, she did not leave it the innocent she was when Jaime first saw the Stark girl in the halls of Winterfell. She knows what she is about. What he can’t figure is why she’s about it.

    "The mattress is lumpy."

    "Only feathers for you, is that it?" he asks, canting his hips back to the edge of the inn’s musty straw mattress. Any farther, and he’ll topple to the ground.

    She hums and rocks back again, bringing the plumpness of her rump against his hard cock in a tempting press. It churns his gut, feeling a pull towards anyone but his sister.

    "Knock me off this mattress and I’m taking you with me," he warns. Not that it would be proper punishment. She’d end up atop him and things would truly go south.

    "You wouldn’t," she says, with another roll of her hips.

    He considers smacking her bottom like a wayward child, but from the way his cock twitches as his mind spools out that image, it would only make things worse.

    "Your bark is worse than your bite," she says, twisting atop the bed to face him.

    His intention is to tell her little girls shouldn’t tempt lions, but his words are cut short. Sharp teeth bite into his chapped lips, drawing blood that’s as much a relief to him as the drag of her thigh between his legs. Sex, blood—they’re the only things that ever made sense to him. Perhaps a little wolf can understand.

    Chapter Text

    "Who are you?"

    "Jon Snow," he tells her, his heart hammering in his chest, as he looks down at her.

    Sansa has been unconscious for days, and while her eyes are unfocused and glassy with fever, he can feel nothing but happiness at the sight of the blue of them. He sat watch here, pressing a rag soaked in melted snow to her lips and praying to his gods and Sansa’s that she would wake. Someone heard his prayers. Nothing else matters.

    "I don’t remember," she says, her legs fussing beneath the furs he covered her with, though it left him without.

    "You hit your head."

    The boulder was hidden by the snows, and when she tripped over its edge, she fell too fast for him to catch her. The gash on her head is red, an angry slash against the white of her brow, and she moves to touch it only to realize his fingers are wrapped tight around hers. She winces and their hands fall back to her side.

    "You’re my husband?"

    No. Sister. Cousin. There is a lengthy explanation he could give her of their intertwined past that makes such a relation impossible, no matter what they’ve come to feel for each other as they fought Others and snow to come this far. His mind revolts at the confusion, but a baser part of him doesn’t mind it. He doesn’t confirm her supposition, but he doesn’t deny it either. “You’ve had an accident, Sansa, but you’re going to be all right. I’ll see to it that you’re all right,” he assures her, brushing the falling snow from her hair. “A few days rest is all you need.”

    "Jon Snow."


    "I’m sorry I don’t remember."

    "It’s all right," he says, giving her hand a squeeze. "You don’t have to be afraid."

    "Sansa Snow," she says, as if testing out the sound of it.

    He pauses, giving himself time to squash this now and return them both to the unhappiness of honorable restraint. “Yes. Sansa Snow.”

    Chapter Text

    There are only three to mark the occasion of the completion of Winterfell’s defenses: Jon, Sansa, and Rickon, Lord of Winterfell. Lannister gold rebuilds, but it can not repeople.

    There are no singers, no feasting, no quick Northern jigs, nor bawdy toasts. It is just the three of them, heads tilted back and breath fogging the cool spring morning.

    The sight is not a new one to Jon, for Sansa, who rules here until Rickon reaches majority, placed him in charge of rebuilding efforts. He guided each step of this long process, and knows the stone as well as the men who placed them there.

    Sansa could have managed herself. Even when she asked Jon to stay and help, he knew he was not so much required as wanted. A distinction he appreciated. It was a far better offer than the one his aunt in the South made him, and he happily accepted. He hopes he has been helpful, for they have come to mean everything to him.

    Sometimes he forgets there is anything beyond the walls of this place, beyond the reach of the small family that remains to him. That is a happy kind of forgetting.

    News comes to them like small ripples on a pond, licking at the shore, making no real difference to the every day concerns of Winterfell. Dorne is in revolt. The harvest was poor in the Riverlands. Disease in the East. None of it matters. What matters is beside him, gazing up at the work he helped see through to completion. Not for himself, though he is happy to be home, but for the two true Starks left.

    Jon was summoned in the early morning hours to survey the stonemasons’ final touches, and he has already had his private moment of reflection on this momentous occasion. Seeing it through their eyes, however, it is new once more. Tully blue eyes, eyes like Robb’s, catch the bright spring sun and sparkle with a mixture of awe and pride.

    Jon would pick the boy up and swing him around, but Rickon recently placed a moratorium on childish play. Perhaps for the best, for the last time Jon attempted it he felt a twinge in his back that made him worry he missed a name day or two during the course of the war.

    "This is yours," Sansa says, her voice choked with emotion, as she slides her fingers through Rickon’s coppery hair. "Your birthright."

    "Oh, Jon," she says, grabbing his hand, as Rickon darts forward to peer up the height of the towering walls. "Did you ever think?"

    All the impossible things he never thought unravel out before him. What has happened thus far and what still might be. Jon’s chest swells. He feels tight and light enough to float away. It’s too much happiness and sadness and relief all at once.


    "Neither did I."

    He bends his head, speaking the words close to her ear, so that Rickon might not hear. “May I kiss you?”

    Blinking, she looks away from where Rickon pats the walls, as if they are a well loved pet come home. She stares up at Jon with a confused smile crookedly pulling at her lips. “What?”

    "I’d like to kiss you," he says, and his eyes settle on her mouth, so she might know it is no brotherly kiss he requests. "I’d like to kiss you," he says once more, as she draws their clasped hands up to her breast. "And I’d like to stay."

    "With the building finished, did you think of leaving?" she asks, slipping into the circle of his arms.

    "No." He couldn’t. If she ordered him away, he thinks he would get no farther than the abandoned winter town before asking to be taken back.

    "Then you may kiss me."

    Her kiss is sweet and soft. It’s the promise of a lifetime of impossible things.

    Chapter Text

    Sansa wanted to be no Lannister’s wife. Sister, she begged, when they came to the East and were in need of new identities, but Jaime thought it best if Sansa posed as his wife. There was no resemblance, he argued, and too large an age difference for a brother and sister of humble backgrounds. In truth, having only lost his sister to the flames of the Dragon Bitch, the thought of playacting with Sansa Stark in that way made him want to walk into the ocean to never walk back out.

    Jaime won the day through what he was proud to think was expert and mostly gentle negotiations. He vowed that he only wanted to keep her safe. She would be his wife only in name, a new name, so that she was no Lannister’s wife.

    He congratulated himself that she took to the new role with great alacrity. They pretend to be married in a new place with new clothes and no possessions and simple stories to paper over their pasts. If they are not quite happy, they are not miserable either. Sometimes a good portion of the day goes by where he forgets he did not marry the pretty girl who hums while she mends his shirts and keeps a pet bird he bought for her from a merchant’s stall.

    He forgets and so does she. Indeed, she disappears inside the new role with alarming determination, although he doesn’t notice the transformation until she strips the color from her hair. From the nut brown forced on her to hide the Tully red, she strips it to a pale gold only a shade lighter than his own.

    "It isn’t quite the color I wanted," she frets over supper, reclining as she eats a fig.

    "It’s lovely," he assures her.

    For it is. Watching the way she pulls it over her shoulder before bed, brushing it over and over and over until it gleams and he feels hypnotized by the stroke of her brush, Jaime concedes his was no victory at all.

    He did not want a sister. A wife, he thought, would be safe. With a wife he could keep to his vows, for it was only his sister that ever tempted him. Now he has a wife—a rather sweet one, who he is too fond of by now to think of her as anything but. And in the dim light of the moon that pretty wife could be mistaken for his sister.

    Chapter Text

    "You might as well climb in. It’s plain foolish to sleep there on the floor like a dog," Sansa says, tucking her hands under the pillow.

    Jon frowns up at her from the floor. “Wouldn’t be right, Miss Stark.”

    "No? You too gentleman like to sleep next to a whore?"

    That gets him heaving himself up on creaking knees and dusty palms.

    "You know that isn’t it," he says, standing over her, scowl as fierce as ever, as he brushes off his hands on his trousers.

    "Then get in."

    She’s squeezed her eyes shut tight, but she can feel the shift of the mattress underneath her, when Jon gives in to her demand.

    "Better?" she prompts.

    He grunts in response, and she twists to look back at him, where he stares up at the ceiling, arms folded over his chest.

    Part of her wants Jon to settle in close behind her, wrap an arm around her middle, and kiss the curve of her neck. She’s been waiting for him to do more than gape at her since they left Colorado. Fearing it and hoping for it in equal measure, because every time a man’s touched her, it’s been nothing but a trial. As sweet as Jon is, she’s not sure spreading your legs for a man can be anything more than something to be endured. To have that confirmed for her with Jon would be yet another disappointment heaped on the pile. She hoped for something different, when she was a girl, dreaming of gentle husbands and whatever took place with them in the privacy of one’s bedroom.

    Jon rustles the bedsheet, stretching his arm out for something. His coat, she realizes, as he draws it up and begins to roll it tight.

    "What are you about?"

    "I’m putting this betwixt us," he says, jamming the impromptu roll between them. It smells of leather, sweat, and horses. "So I don’t forget myself in the night."

    She can see the flush on his cheeks even in the dark of the room, and Sansa smiles. There’s little chance she would feel much like Arya. They were always as different in appearance as they were in action. But a sleepy man is an unsophisticated beast.

    Despite the narrowness of the bed, with the roll between them, the only parts that touch are their ankles. She might draw hers up, toe over the length of his leg until he draws up the courage to give her that kiss, but she keeps still. Because part of her wants Jon, but the better part of her likes it that he takes such care arranging himself next to her but not touching. No one has treated her like a real lady in some time. That Jon still thinks to is worth something to her.

    "Thank you, Jon," she whispers.

    But he’s already drifted off to sleep, and the only sound is the soft snuffle of his snore.

    Chapter Text

    Her lord husband never showed interest in their firstborn, Beron, but their second, Berena is a different story. It is not as if Jaime suddenly becomes an attentive father, for that is hardly the case. There is a marked difference, however.

    Sansa would have thought Jaime might feel more warmly towards a son, someone to train in the yard and teach to sit a horse. As Beron grows older those things might come to matter more. For now, it is their daughter that he favors.

    Neither of the children have a Northern look to them. In loving Beron, Sansa came to love her husband, unwillingly at first, knowing the danger of such love. Beron is all Jaime save for the blue of his mother’s eyes. Berena takes after Sansa with wispy auburn curls, a rosy mouth, and eyes like the heavens.

    Watching Jaime hold Berena stiff armed over her cradle, the way he never thought to lift up Beron, when he visited his lady wife’s chamber, gives Sansa pause. The babe’s mouth moves as if to eat in her sleep, as Sansa approaches them both and lays a hand against his arm. Could his affection for Berena—the spitting image of her mother—mean he might be compelled to feel more for his lady wife? Sansa might invite him more often to share her bed. She might even act more enthusiastically when they’re in it, despite the disinterest that makes her shrink, if she thought it might make a difference.

    "When you look at her," Sansa says, rubbing her thumb over the linen of his tunic, "what do you see?"

    "You," he says without glancing up from the sleeping babe.

    Sansa feels a warm curl of hope sliding through her veins, more intoxicating than the strongest wine. More arousing too. Her heart skips and she leans into his side, resting her head against his shoulder. “Does that please you?”

    "You are very fine to look at."

    Normally his compliments have very little effect on Sansa, for she knows his gallantry is as hollow and useless as an empty suit of armor. Tonight it sends a thrill along her spine, as she presses a kiss to his shoulder and slips her arm around his back. Perhaps the transformation in their marriage has already taken place, while she was mourning what she thought missing.

    He is not entirely comfortable with Berena in his arms, but he is careful, which is evident as he places her back inside her cradle and turns to Sansa. Gentleness is never something she thought to find in a Lannister. She never thought to find love either.

    She invited him here for this purpose, so it is not surprising when he bears her to the furs and slides her shift up over her hips and then her head. Knowing that something has changed between them brings pleasure that is a revelation of the most welcome kind. He feels thick and heavy in her hand, and having him inside of her stirs a pulse low in her belly that usually only comes from his mouth upon her. His encouragements hot against her ear, as her body arches up into his and clenches around him, is what being wanted must feel like. The twist of his face as he finds his release in her is the look of a man who cares.

    When he moves to roll off of her, she locks her ankles, holding him in place.

    "I’m heavy."

    "Yes, I know, but I do not break so easy."

    Drawing lazy circles over the muscles in his back, she tilts her mouth to be kissed, and finally he gives in to her ministrations with a sigh.

    The babe stirs. Sansa knows that the first sounds of wakefulness will give way soon enough to a hearty wail if she does not respond quickly, but it is Jaime who heaves himself from the bed with a soft, “Stay put,” and brings the babe to her. Tucking her into Sansa’s arms, he hovers at the edge of the bed as she helps the babe find her breast.

    The pleasant weariness of satisfaction, the relief of the babe at her breast, and Jaime’s continued presence here, when he might have already left her, makes her smile up at him.

    "They make me happy, our children," she says, and what she hopes is that they will make him happy too. That she and the children will fill the empty place his sister left behind.

    "Happy?" he asks with a tilt of his head, following the turn of the babe’s. "She reminds me of you," he says, disturbing a curl on Berena’s head with one large, calloused finger. "Or rather, I imagine she is like what you were once. Before you were spoiled. And I cannot help but admire it."

    It is an odd kind of compliment. Not as plain spoken as his usual flattery.

    "Spoiled?" She was indulged and not as sensitive as a child as she might have been, but it isn’t an accusation that has been leveled at her in countless moons.

    "Ruined," he corrects with a frown.

    That is no compliment at all, Sansa realizes with a sinking sensation. “Is that what you think of me?”

    "It’s what I think of us both."

    Chapter Text

    The fresh rushes crunch under Jon’s feet, as he rocks back and forth, holding the babe Sansa named Breana to his shoulder, where her little mouth hangs open in milky content. It must be the sound under foot that obscures Sansa’s approach, for though she is quiet enough, normally he would have roused to the sound of the heavy nursery door.

    "You dance better than I remember, Jon."

    Jon turns to see her outlined by the dim sun of late afternoon, hair catching the light like a winter aurora. He is happy to see her, even happier to hear the soft way she says his name, all formality temporarily aside, but she has not come to see him. It is the babe she’s come for. He twists further to let her see the babe’s face pressed against him.

    "It only looks it, because my partner as of yet can not be trod upon while dancing."

    Closing the distance between them, Sansa smooths the babe’s fair whorl of hair with one delicate finger. She is endlessly tracing that curl, and Jon has fallen asleep more than once, watching her do it before the hearth in her room. His fingers flex against the babe, itching to cover her hand with his own.

    "Still as awkward, then?" she asks.


    "Well, I would not mind you as a heavy footed partner."

    "The next time we shall dance together then," he promises, though when that will be he does not know. There is no dancing at Winterfell. Sansa does not care for singers as she once did and there has been little cause for merriment.

    Those impediments might be removed, but another raven came filled with threats rather than entreaties. His time here is coming to an end. At least for the present, until he can convince his aunt there is need of him in the North once more.

    "I would collect on that promise and ask for a dance now, but it seems a shame to separate you from your beautiful partner."

    Breana is a beautiful babe. At least they all find her to be so, which is why Jon knows what Sansa truly wants is not a dance. With a shrug, he moves to hand Breana into Sansa’s empty arms. The babe is fast enough asleep that she is unaware of the jostling she receives or Jon’s softly voiced, “Beautiful,” as he watches Sansa’s face settle into such lovely serenity, as she bends to kiss the babe’s brow.

    She ought to be a mother. She wants that above all things, he knows, and he wants to be the one to give her a household full of smiling children. Knowing he cannot reawakens the ache in Jon’s chest that he has failed to bury with the passing weeks.

    "She ate well," he says, turning to the safety of particulars.

    He will miss knowing the minutia of the babe’s day—how she ate, slept, and whether her linens were soiled twice before being put down. He wonders whether Sansa will consider it worthwhile to preserve the day to day dealings of an infant that is not his in the content of her letters, when he is gone. If she writes at all.

    Those are things to mourn in the future, however. At least for now she takes great interest in sharing these details with him, or Jon assumed she did until she frowns.

    "You spoke with Elayna?"

    "Yes." She gave him an account of Breana’s progress, when he came to the nursery some time earlier. "Before she went back to the kitchens."

    Sansa readjusts the blanket about the babe’s shoulders. “It’s good of you to stay with Breana even when Elayna is called away.”

    He came to see the babe, just as Sansa did. They both hurry to the nursery whenever they can. It pricks him that Sansa doesn’t see he cares for Breana as she does. It is a misunderstanding he can’t let go.

    "I came to see Breana."

    Looking up, the smile Sansa gives him is not a happy one. He’s seen it before, and it only makes him wish for the Sansa of old, the Sansa he rarely has reason to regret now that she is something else to him.

    "You are very attentive. A good…" She does not finish, presumably unable to settle on what to call him. The confusion is one they share. He is not the babe’s father. She is not the mother. They are not parents, and what this babe shall be here in the castle is not yet set.

    By the time he returns, he imagines all will be sorted and he will no longer be a complicating factor. The child will not remember him.

    "A raven came for me today."

    "I know it." Secrets are not well kept in Winterfell, and after all the intrigue Sansa endured, Jon thinks the lady prefers it that way. "Will you be going to King’s Landing alone?"

    Jon never raised the specter of his leaving, though this is not the first of his aunt’s commands. Preserving the illusion of permanence was more for his benefit than hers, but reading over today’s message, he indulged himself in thinking that she might ask him to stay. What good that would have done, he doesn’t know.

    Her response, however, is nothing but matter of fact. Her words cool and her face as untouched as ever.

    "I wouldn’t think to take any of your men if that concerns you."

    The safety of Sansa and Winterfell is paramount.

    "You can if you have need of them, though that isn’t who I meant."

    Sansa would never go South, and she is the only one he would ever ask to accompany him.

    Who would I take? It is on the tip of his tongue, as she gathers up her skirts in one hand and turns toward the door. “I have things to attend to, but you will tell me if you mean to take any of my people, won’t you? You are the prince, but I am the lady of this place.”

    Chapter Text

    There are many lost along the way to their escape, but it is the babe they find crying in a half burnt little cottage that makes Sansa refuse to take another step.

    "Put it down," he urges, for every moment they dally here is another they might be discovered.

    "How can I? He’s been abandoned, poor babe."

    The parents are either dead—burnt by dragon fire like most of their village—or fled the flames without their babe in tow. A babe will slow anyone down. But that isn’t what Jaime tells her, when he sees tears welling up in her eyes, ready to make ivory tracks through the ashes that have darkened both their features with half of Westeros aflame.

    "Someone could be coming for him now." Someone who might recognize a blonde knight with a golden hand and a girl with ruddy roots showing beneath her hood.

    "You don’t know that."

    No, there is likely no one to claim the babe. Which is why Jaime expects the greatest kindness would be to end its life, so it doesn’t suffer a protracted death from starvation or exposure, but he can’t manage to suggest that either.

    "There must be smallfolk about, kin, who will come. Leave the babe to them."

    "Please," she says, her fingers tightening around the bundle of soiled linens with an angry red face peeking out. "Don’t make me leave him."

    He never touches her unnecessarily, but now he does, grasping her arm. “We don’t have any way to feed him.”

    "We could find a woman."

    She tucks the babe into her chest, and it ceases its cries for a moment. It’s a relief to him not to listen to its misery, but her success at comforting the babe only makes Sansa’s shoulders shake harder with silent heaving sobs.

    He wants to yell. To berate her for her innocence and relentless kindness. She begged for her little cousin too, the one that was too ill to raise his head up, and now she would take along a babe that will wail for food when there is none to be had and alert anyone within earshot to their presence. It will be difficult enough to find passage on a ship, when the shores have been burnt up. It would be doubly difficult to find a wet nurse, trusting of two fugitives.

    She asks the impossible, but she also looks at him as if he might give it to her, for he saved her and what else couldn’t he do? He is a hero again. A god.

    "Wrap it tight and keep it quiet. Do you understand?"

    "Yes, ser."

    Chapter Text

    “I’m with child,” Sansa admits, because she’s too weary to conjure up a lie to feed Jon, as she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand.

    He looks up from the yellow bile filled vessel he managed to grab just in time to prevent sick from splattering her skirts. It isn’t the first time this has happened, but it is the first time she has failed to escape company and betray herself so flagrantly. Shock parts his lips and widens his grey eyes, as he lowers the vessel and sets it off to the side.

    “Is it one of my men?”

    “Does it matter?” she asks, slumping back in the camp chair in an inelegant display more at home on Alayne’s untutored frame than her own.

    Comical confusion pulls at his dark brows, as he attempts to work through the best answer to her question. The effort is so monumental that Sansa almost manages a smile before putting him out of his misery. “Don’t ask, Jon. Some things are better left unsaid.”

    “Very well,” he says, his fingers wrapping around the arms of his chair. “I only asked, so that I might help…”

    She sighs, hoping that there is nothing left in her stomach to bring up, for the smell of her own sick is making her nostrils flare. “All I ask is you not speak of this to anyone. Not even your friend Sam. He might be a maester, but I’d rather he not know. Let it be our secret until it’s too plain to hide any longer.”

    “Of course. Anything, Sansa.”

    She reaches for his hand and gives it a squeeze through the thick leather. She is hot enough that she doesn’t require gloves. Yet another strange development in these early stages of her pregnancy. “And if you would, get that sick out of here before I embarrass myself further. The smell of it,” she says, scrunching up her nose.

    He gives a half smile and is on his feet with enough speed that she suspects he is eager to be away from her, his despoiled cousin. The relief of Jon being the one to learn her secret is replaced by regret. She believed he might be understanding, perhaps even glad of the promise of some future happiness, a Stark unblemished by war if this upcoming battle is as decisive as Jon claims it will be.

    She is ready to dismiss any hope of sympathy  as the flap on the tent closes behind him, when it opens again, revealing Jon’s dark silhouette. He stands at the entrance, feet set shoulder width and his head tilted down. His eyes fix somewhere in the middle of the tent, where there is nothing but an old map spread across his table and a half drunken skin of wine.

    “Jon?” she prompts, when he remains there in silence, neither moving to join her nor taking his leave.

    He pulls himself together with a deep inhale and takes two shortened strides to stand before her. The clasp of his hands before him reminds her of their father and how he would stand at attention. “Marry me?”

    It is Sansa’s turn to feel the unsettling rush of confusion. His offer is unexpected and should be unwanted, but there is a pulse in her gut that Sansa knows well enough to recognize it for what it is. “Gods, Jon. Why?”

    “For your sake. For the babe’s. So he’ll have a father.”

    There is no reason for Sansa to doubt that it is kindly meant, for Jon has been nothing but kind to her since their reunion, despite their unspectacular past. Nevertheless, the implication pricks her pride, when only a moment earlier her blood began to sing in her veins.

    “It’s a boy now, is it? Do you have some untold skill I know nothing about, Commander?” Her tone is clipped, accusatory, and the look he gives her is not so different from the way he used to stare back at her mother, when she was less than kind.

    “I was thinking of myself as a boy, as a bastard. That is all. It might as easily be a girl, I know. A girl without the protection of a father.”

    “Don’t trouble yourself,” Sansa says, her eyes shutting out his grimace, as another wave of nausea sweeps over her. “I can protect myself and the babe.”

    Her declarations cow him enough that he speaks nothing further until she opens her eyes and rests her head on her propped arm.

    He runs his gloved hand over his thick beard, the one which makes him look old before his time, since it is shot full of grey left there from years of fighting, and lets his hand fall back to his side. “I’ve asked all wrong.”

    “It isn’t the manner that is wrong. It’s the asking. No one would ask you to marry your sister.”

    “You’re not my sister. We know that.”

    “Close enough.” Close enough that his offer is only honorably meant, and she has nothing to feel but shame for her physical reaction to it.

    “No one need ask me to marry you,” he says, collapsing into the chair with so little care that Sansa is worried the wobbly camp chair will give out from underneath him, sending their Promised Prince tumbling to the frozen ground. “I want to marry you, but we need not speak about it if you know your answer to be no.”

    Her attempt to swallow around the lump in her throat brings saliva up in her mouth, awakening the taste of bile and she holds her hand up to her lips, aware of his eyes on her.

    “Can I do anything for you, Sansa? Fetch you something to make you more comfortable?”

    Is it truly the offer itself that is unthinkable or only the lack of sweet nothings that made her quick to answer? Is she still so childish as to want more?

    “Time, Jon. Just give me a little time.”

    “As much as you need.”

    Chapter Text

    “Have you lost your damn mind?” Jaime demands as Sansa Stark leans in towards him with her eyes closed and her lips pursed like a maid.

    “No, ser,” she says, sitting back, contrition pulling the corners of her rosy lips downward.

    “Then don’t try that again.”

    “You made me think you would like it.”

    Did he? No. He watches her, because he has to keep a constant eye on her for fear he will lose his charge. She nearly went missing before the ship departed Westeros’ shores, and he has never forgotten the terror that shot through him, when he couldn’t find that false brown head of hair among the smallfolk on the wharf.

    “I wouldn’t,” he says, and that should be the end of it, but now that’s she tried in her childish, inexpert way, he keeps imagining throughout their humble supper that she means to try again.

    Each brush of her sleeve against his wrist, as she brings her spoon down into her bowl and back up to her mouth, seems like a move to touch him. When she clears her throat, he waits for her to make a fruitless attempt at seduction, only for her to dab her mouth with her napkin. The shifting on the winged bench seems to him a silent signal for him to act. To shift closer himself and bring their hips together, their chests, their mouths hot with Eastern spices.

    “Damn you,” he spits, dropping his spoon into his bowl.


    “You’ve spoiled the meal.”

    “Have I?” she asks in the bright, chirpy voice that used to grate before he became accustomed to the comfort that voice could give in a rocking ship, while she sang them both to sleep. It might sound even breathier, even higher under different circumstances. “The mad ruin everything, I suppose.”

    “At least you admit as much.” One of them ought to be honest.

    Chapter Text

    “Please, don’t leave,” Dany says in a voice softer than Jorah has heard her speak in for moons. He stands at the door of her cabin, his back to her, as she reminds him, “Decide now, Ser Jorah. A queen doesn’t ask twice.”

    “Does a khaleesi?”

    She might have dragons flying behind their sails, poised to take Westeros and the Iron Throne to become Queen Daenerys Stormborn, but she will always be his khaleesi. She is the girl he watched become a woman and a leader, and the girl he agreed to spy on before the brave heart of a woman stole his soul.

    “Is that what you would prefer I be?”

    “You have a khalasar at your disposal. One that takes to the waves for you, so you might conquer the world. What does that make you?”

    “A khaleesi. However, it was a khaleesi who cast you off,” she says. “You might have better odds with a queen.”

    With his face branded forever, Jorah’s pride is a fragile beast, quick to take offense. Despite her reference to their last parting, where she sent him away forever for his crimes against her, there is no offense intended. No real malice. There is no room for it in her tone, thick with the womanly promise of which he dreamed on his darkest days.

    This time he has a choice, and while a queen doesn’t ask twice, he does’t need a second breathy plea to decide.

    Chapter Text

    I hope you don’t mind the Accidental Baby Acquisition ‘verse. I’m feeling a little mini arc for that at the moment and this fits beautifully.

    Most of Jon’s things have been packed, but there are some small treasures he puts away himself, preferring that his be the only hands that touch them. The embroidered handkerchief Sansa brings to his chamber, as he is tucking away the last of his possessions, immediately becomes one such treasure.

    “Thank you,” he says, turning the square of linen in his hand to better see the direwolves she has worked with delicate stitches and fine silk thread.

    “Was I wrong to make them direwolves?”

    “You know you weren’t,” he says, folding it with what feels like clumsy fingers.

    “In the South, they might prefer you wipe your brow with dragons.”

    “I believe my aunt is well appraised of my fondness for this place after refusing her summons for moons,” Jon says, tucking the handkerchief into his doublet, where it will remain close even as the distance grows between them with every pace of his mount. “She won’t be shocked to find the vestiges of direwolves about me.”

    “Good,” Sansa says, moving to sit, though she has not been invited.

    He should have invited her. She has never been in his chamber. It has always been he that came to her. The difference in their relative positions tonight brought about a momentary lapse, which she is good enough to ignore. Perhaps she is accustomed to ignoring his transgressions. They are likely more numerous than he is aware, since his manners have never been as refined as hers.

    There is only one seat now occupied by the stiff backed lady of this place and with nowhere else to sit, his choice is to remain standing or climb atop the bed. A knot forms in his chest when he looks from the tidily made bed to Sansa’s pale face half in shadows in the dim candlelight of a moonless night.

    “We will miss you here,” she says before he has chance to decide what to do with himself.

    Her face is composed, her tone even. If he didn’t know her better, he would assume she spoke merely out of courtesy, a meaningless expression of unfelt affection to send him on his way. But the more carefully Sansa constructs her words and aspect, the more she conceals.

    Jon does not want to leave here. He dreaded the prospect almost as soon as he arrived. Even when Sansa looked upon him as a threat, an interloper ready to take what was hers, he hated the thought of being turned away from the halls of Winterfell and his former sister. If she feels half what he does, while he readies himself to ride the next morning for King’s Landing, there is good reason for her to speak with measured care.

    “And I shall miss you.”

    “Breana will not understand,” she says, giving unnatural emphasis to the babe’s name.

    Sansa folds her hands in her skirts, waiting his response. The babe is so little that he doubts she will notice he has disappeared from her circumscribed life that is made up of feedings and changings. It is only he who will feel that loss.

    He could not bring himself to request it previously, but the moment presents itself and he makes himself speak. “I’d be grateful if you wrote to me of her.”

    “Certainly, and I shall bundle her up myself on the morrow, so she might see you off. Hers will be the last red face you see here.”

    “You wrap her tighter than any of the other women manage,” he says with a thin smile. Swaddling the babe is no mean feat, for Breana has become quite a strong babe, and she can be free of her swaddling clothes as quick as the kingdom’s most adept prison escapee.

    Sansa glances down at her hands. “Elayna can be counted on to wrap her tight enough. Breana sleeps well on Elayna’s watch. She is, as you once reminded me, a good mother.” Her mouth hooks up on one side. “Young, but a good mother.”

    Jon hopes Sansa’s continued presence here means she intends on spending the duration of the evening with him. He would like nothing better. In which case, he ought to find himself a seat or resign himself to making himself comfortable on the bed without flushing as red as a beet. But as his eyes skim the room for an additional chair he knows he will not spy, he hears a catch in Sansa’s breath that freezes him in place.

    “If I have been unkind or… ungenerous, I beg you forgive me, Jon. I do try to be glad of other’s happiness, but I sometimes fail.”

    Sansa is kindness and generosity itself, so long as she does not feel threatened like she did when he first arrived here. They are sometimes awkward together, and that is to be expected. He has never blamed her in those moments. Her apology baffles him, and he shakes his head, ready to tell her forgiveness is unnecessary, when she stands, hands still clasped before her and eyes fixed not on his but somewhere in the middle of his leather doublet.

    “I’m afraid I gave the impression of not wanting you to speed away any of my people, but if you would like to take Elayna and her babe with you, I can arrange for another wet nurse for Breana. A wheelhouse could be fetched for their comfort on the journey. It would not take long.”

    He is fond of the boy, but he would never dream of uprooting the child and his mother to satisfy his longing for Winterfell. “This is their home, Sansa.”

    She inclines her head, her fingers knotting, so that even in the flickering light he can see them whiten. “Please, don’t leave.”

    He takes a step towards her, something inside of him unwinding like an over tightened crank as he holds out a hand to her, which after a moment’s heightened pause, she takes and holds fast.

    “As a servant, she might not feel free to ask it of you, but the Lady of Winterfell might make entreaties of a prince, might she not?”

    “You might ask anything,” he begins but there is more she needs to say, and her words spill forth, quick and artificially bright. “I’ll own I ask for my benefit too. I can no longer imagine this place without you, and I would accept… whatever arrangements you felt appropriate within these walls, so long as you stayed.”

    Half her words make no sense to him, but it doesn’t matter. It is the stuff of his most deluded dreams, and still he must refuse her.

    “The queen has made threats or I would never leave.”

    She hums and gives a small nod. Her hand slips free of his. “I wouldn’t have been able to sleep this night if I did not at least ask it.”

    Another nod and she glides towards his door too quick for him to tell her that he will not be sleeping regardless or that he will hurry back as soon as Daenerys seems unlikely to burn him or her or the North for it.

    “Good night, Jon.”

    “Good night, Sansa.”

    Chapter Text

    Two name days have passed and despite her long letters, Jon has felt the full weight of the time he spent away from Winterfell and its lady. A weight that is almost forgotten, when he sits at her side again with her people feasting about them.

    “You did all of this in honor of my return?” he asks, tankard in hand, as he looks over the merriment in the hall.

    There has been no real cause for celebration here, even with the successful rebuilding of a good portion of the castle. That his return is marked by the first feast in the rebuilt halls warms him like nothing else could. The last feast he attended in Winterfell, he was still an untested boy bound for the Wall. He ran out of this very hall, overcome by tears, since he was set apart from the rest of siblings, singled out as not good enough to share space with a king and queen. Now he sits in a place of honor, welcomed by the woman he loves most in this reordered world.

    Time and distance has not changed that.

    “I wish I could have done more, but we must be careful with our harvest in case this summer is as short as the last.”

    “It won’t be,” he says, putting aside the usual gloominess of the Stark house words to place his hope in happier times ahead. After all, Daenerys has allowed him to come here and she has sent him with tacit approval of a match that would bring him the greatest joy.

    “Gods be good,” Sansa says, setting her wine cup down.

    “And there’s nothing lacking,” he adds. “It is much more than I expected.”

    Jon hoped Sansa would welcome him with a long evening spent in her solar. He expected a wine skin and a game of cyvasse and pleasant conversation about the every day workings of the castle that he has missed. Nothing like this.

    “That is because we are glad of you, my prince, and mean to show it. But as glad of you as we are, I still intend on reminding you of your promises. I shan’t let you escape them.”

    Jon draws heavily from the fresh, crisp brew, and though at two cups in he still has his wits about him, he fails to recall the promise to which Sansa alludes.

    “An awkward dance,” she supplies, when he sits dumbly, tankard held out before him. “You swore we would dance the next time there was good cause. Tonight is the reason, and you might trod upon my toes as much as you like.”

    Having set his own cup down, Jon grips his knees under the table with unsteady hands, for his heart has begun to hammer as it did when the sight of Winterfell made itself plain over the horizon and he pictured the red headed lady inside, awaiting his arrival with as much anticipation as she expressed in her last letter. Then he had time to gain control over his emotions, but now Sansa is before him with her brows arched in suspense of his response. He fears his voice will waiver should he speak or he shall say more than he intends on this first night, when they should be relearning each other.

    “Unless you would prefer your first dance to be with your old partner, Breana. I must warn you, now that she walks, she too has toes you might trample.”

    All he manages is a gruff ‘no’ by way of response, which could be easily mistaken for a refusal to dance with her if he did not also brusquely push back his chair and extend his hand to her. Indeed, momentary confusion flickers in her eyes, as she gives him her hand and stands, but it disappears as he leads her around the tables and towards the open space by the players.

    “Have your skills improved in King’s Landing?” Sansa asks, as he squares one arm before her, scarred palm held out awaiting the press of hers to it.

    “Not at all.”

    The minstrels take heed of their pose and the music comes to life to match the dance he means to lead her in. A simple dance. A Northern dance. One that will hopefully not be such a disaster that she vows to never repeat it, for he hopes to spend years leading her in one dance or another.

    “I don’t entirely believe you,” she says, leaning in towards him as they turn, so that her words can reach his ears over the bright pipe of the music. “I imagine the queen availed herself of your presence as an appropriate partner with great regularity. It’s nothing to dance with a lady after taking the floor with a queen.”

    “No, it’s everything.”

    Chapter Text

    “You lied to me,” Jon pants, swinging his legs over the side of her narrow bed and sinking his head into his hands.

    “I lie to everyone,” Sansa says, pulling the linens up to her cover her breasts.

    A moment ago, it didn’t feel wrong. It felt so right, so real that she could not help but confess who she was to him, as he pressed his brow to hers in pleasant exhaustion. Now her shame crawls along her bare skin, as Jon’s reaction to what she’s done to them is made plain by the frustrated curses he mumbles into his hands.

    “I lie even to myself,” she says by way of explanation, but how do you explain why seducing your former brother seemed acceptable? It wasn’t Sansa who plied him with drink and bestowed sweet words on him until leading him to her bed. It was Alayne. Sansa was hidden away deep inside, hoping duty would convince him to take her away from here. It was Alayne who did the dirty work, which turned out to be such a sharp pleasure.

    “Gods, Sansa,” he says, giving her the most miserable look over his shoulder. “What will we do?”

    “Leave. That’s all I wanted. It’s why I did this.”

    “And you couldn’t conceive of a better way to tell me?”

    Alayne does not cry and even Sansa saves her tears for when she alone, but whoever she is at this moment, she feels them stinging the corners of her eyes, threatening to fall. She has no one to blame but herself and no right to cry crocodile tears. Jon coming here could have been her salvation, and instead, she has ruined everything with poorly conceived deceits.

    “I’ve been alone in this world for too long.”

    It’s as if her words have not reached him, when he asks, “Or at least a better time? Before I…” He huffs out an exhalation that curls his strong shoulders forward. They were so much narrower the last time she saw him.

    “Please take me away from here, and we’ll never speak of what’s happened here again. It will be as if it never happened. We shall be brother and sister and I won’t give you cause to regret taking me with you.”

    He brushes a sweaty curl from his brow with the back of his hand, his eyes skimming over the hem of the linens clutched to her breastbone. “Sansa, I’ll never be able to forget this.”

    Chapter Text

    “Teach me,” Sansa says, as she sits opposite Petyr at the cyvasse board, her glossy black pieces untouched, though she has trailed her index finger over them more than once, while he watches with narrowed eyes.

    “You already know how to play. You play quite well. It’s your move,” he says, gesturing with an open palm.

    “Anyone can play. I don’t want to play, I want to win.”

    She looks up through her lashes at him, bats them slowly, and the smile that tugs at the corners of his lips mirrors her own.

    “That I can teach you, sweetling.”

    Chapter Text

    “I almost lost you,” Jaime says, gripping the girl by her narrow shoulders and giving her a sharp shake.

    Her eyes blink in a silent show of terror, as her head jerks back from the force of the shake. He has never been rough with her and Sansa Stark hasn’t looked this terrified in his company since the first few days after he took her from the Vale, when in spite of his promises to bring her to safety, she insisted on believing he was only awaiting an opportunity to slit her throat. He’s frightening her, nearly as much as she frightened him, when she disappeared as the ship’s cargo was being loaded.

    She should be frightened. If he lost her and someone else found her, her life would be forfeit. He would be left without purpose. His life might as well be forfeit too. Their escape onboard this ship is their only hope.

    “Where were you?” he demands, grabbing her arm with his left hand and roughly pulling her along the dock.

    “I saw that child and I had the hard roll to share. I thought…”

    “You didn’t think. Never do that again,” he grits through clenched teeth. “Do you understand? You stay close. Always.”

    Chapter Text

    Jorah hoped Dany would take him back. His plan was to win the queen’s approval by bringing her the dwarf. Then he imagined if he proved himself in her hour of need, she would find it in her heart to welcome him among her guard once more. Even in his most hopeful moments–which have been few and far between since being cast off–he did not expect to be so quickly invited into her private company. And yet, here he is.

    Either the queen has no one else to turn to or she has realized that Jorah’s initial betrayal has no bearing on his devotion to her now.

    “Come and sit,” she commands him, but when she gestures to the empty spot alongside her on the bench, he hesitates.

    The last thing Jorah wants is to overstep his boundaries with her so soon after their reunion. He doubts a second misstep will be forgiven.

    “Come,” she repeats, patting the ivory and ebony mosaic surface over which her silken gown spills.

    There are signs of sickness still about her. The fine bones in her hand stand out underneath her skin, and as he moves to her side and sits, leaving a generous space between them just in case, he can see how the healthy glow on her face is false. It is the work of one of her maids, who has rubbed her with scented oil and some other womanly arts to give the appearance of health where it is lacking.

    She is still the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, however, and it is impossible not to respond, when her hand reaches up to touch his face. His brand. She traces its edge, and he winces.

    “Oh, ser. To think I almost lost you.

    Chapter Text

    Their afternoon training session has deteriorated rather rapidly, Jon realizes, as Rickon goes running off to towards the stables, shrieking as his feet smack the snow packed ground. Jon tosses his shield and his wooden sword off to the side and with his hands on his hips smiles after the leggy boy. The time Rickon was allowed to be a child was too short. Let him run and hide and chase after their direwolves, training can wait for another fair day.

    It is the sound of another, softer pair of feet meeting the ground that draws Jon’s attention, his head swiveling to his left. Picking her way with great care over the frozen ground and bundled up in her new winter furs, Sansa makes her way across the yard toward him.

    “Where is Rickon?” she calls out.

    “Hiding from me,” Jon admits, sweeping his furs to the side and meeting her halfway with a few long strides.

    Normally her stride is nearly as long as his own, but now her steps are shortened. It is one of the many things he counts as changed about Sansa since she told him the news.

    “Are you warm enough?” he asks, his hand coming to rest over the thick of her furs, where her waist hides.

    “Plenty,” she says with a reassuring smile.

    No matter what she claims, her cheeks are rosy, and Jon worries it is the cold that put the bloom there. “I’ll fetch him and we can all go inside for the day.”

    “That might not be so easy,” she says, and though Sansa can be unreadable when she wants to be, he does not miss how her eyes dart to something behind him, over his shoulder. “He’ll assume we mean to make him practice his sums.”

    “A lord needs to know his sums,” Jon threatens, raising his voice for the boy’s benefit, who he imagines is lurking somewhere behind him.

    “If we tell Rickon that, he will make himself scarce until nightfall.”

    “I’ll get him in, my lady.”

    It’s an empty boast, for Sansa is the only one to have any real success at cajoling Rickon into doing the things he would rather not. At first, even Sansa could make no headway with him. They are all happier now that they understand each other better in this new world they survive in.

    “How will you manage it?” she asks, taking a step to her right.

    “We can lure him in with fig tarts,” he says, fighting a smile.

    He can see that she does the same, but her blue eyes can not conceal her merriment.

    He twists around to see what mischief is in store for him. He is not quick enough to stop Rickon, who is terrible with a sword but has other ways of causing injury. No, Jon is not quick enough to avoid what is meant for him. Only quick enough to be hit square in the face with it.

    “Don’t you dare throw that other snowba–” he splutters, as the next hits him in the chin. “Gods,” he curses, while Sansa laughs high and hard not two feet away.

    The snowballs are icy, made from wet, heavy snow, the kind that takes your breath away.

    “Don’t you encourage him,” he commands with false sternness.

    While Rickon’s aim is true, Jon’s attempt to cow his pretty wife misses its mark, for as he turns to scowl at her, his chest shaking with laughter that demands to be loosed, she tosses a fistful of snow at his throat.

    This one is not so well packed, and the snow crumbles down his chest, as he snags her about the waist and pulls her in close. “I’ve known wildlings better behaved than you two.”

    “What are you about, Jon?” she asks, swatting at his chest, while he peppers her cool brow with kisses.

    He lifts her off her feet and spins her towards her hooting brother, her feet swinging like the clanger of a bell. “Ensuring my own safety.”

    “Am I your shield, you brute?”

    “Aye, my lady.”

    Chapter Text

    Jaime rouses to the feel of something cool and wet on his brow. He brings up a hand to test the sensation, managing only to knock himself with the gold mockery.


    He cranes his neck, triggering a blinding pain in his head that shuts his eyes against whoever it is that holds him.

    “Stay still,” the voice warns. “You fainted.”

    Jaime Lannister does not faint. Barely ever.

    He groans, lifting his left hand now that he is aware enough of who he is. The former Lord Commanders know better than to make the same mistake with his right. It’s gone. It’s been gone for long enough that he’s someone else entirely now.

    Someone holds a wet cloth to his head, but when he forces his eyes open and pulls his hand away, he sees that it is wet with blood.

    “Yes, you’ve lost a good deal of blood. A very manly way to faint,” the voice says, and if it is impossible to hear a smile, he does, when she speaks.

    Squinting through the burn of blood and sweat that drips into his eyes, he stares up at the voice that seems to come from dark, shadowy place in his mind he is almost afraid to confront. Some creature of his own creation, lovely and frightening in equal measure.

    It is Sansa Stark, looking half like herself and half like Alayne, the girl spawned by Littlefinger’s machinations, with her partly grown out red hair and torn, simple gown. For a moment he doesn’t know why he hesitated to see her for who she is. It is only Catelyn Stark’s eldest girl, the one he swore to restore to her family, who doesn’t know how to hold a sword or protect herself with a knife. She’s hardly what one would call a threatening figure, expect at the bat of her blue eyes, it rushes through him, the feelings that buoyed him up during his desperate fight with the sellsword that recognized them both.

    And it truly terrifies him.

    He fought for her, not just for honor or the thrill of blood spilling, but for her. He fought for the woman he’s come to know, the way he came to know and respect Brienne. That never ends well. Not for him. It’s never something he will understand, feeling something, anything for someone other than his twin.

    “Did you catch me?” he manages to ask through a jaw clenched with pain.

    It’s a sad attempt at a joke, but she plays along, smiling down at him as she brushes lank hair from his face.

    “I broke your fall. A rather painful way to gain my attention, ser.”

    He has no real memory of it; nonetheless, he sees himself swooning, crashing into her like a giant babe on new legs. He lost the ability to differentiate what is real and what is not long before this moment. It’s why he is lulled by her promises, her entreaties, and forgets himself, allowing himself to believe.

    “You did well, ser,” she swears. “You did well.”

    Chapter Text

    “Just once,” Sansa says, as her fingers pleat the skirt of her worn dress.

    Aegon will dress her in fine Myrish silks, but she will never look so pretty as she did the first day she was free of Littlefinger. The girl couldn’t stop looking up to the sky like a bird uncaged. She was all long, curving white neck and wide blue eyes, hands griping her reins with eagerness to fly fast from her prison.

    In Jaime’s memory of that day, she is far prettier than this uncertain creature perched on the edge of his bed.

    “Don’t ask it of me, for I shall have to say no, and you know how I hate to be ungallant.”

    “Who else would you suggest?” she asks with enough pique to gain some in his assessment. Her hands tremble, but her head is held high and her eyes are sharp, cutting through him to the rot inside. The rot she knows or suspects and must accept to make such a plea.

    “Someone who isn’t a dead man walking.“

    Aegon will have his head. If there was reason to flee, it would be best to be far from here, but Sansa is safe if unhappy with the prospect of a marriage to the Targaryen prince and Cersei is dead. He is stripped of purpose, his tether to this terrible place severed. He is already dead.

    “Perhaps I prefer it that way,” she says, sidling up the bed.

    He barks out a laugh. “Inexperience. The dead make terrible lovers. Find a warmer man to warm your bed, my lady.”

    The Stark girl is not cruel, but she is shattered into pieces, some of which play act well enough that she could have a future with the finest mummers group. That is only the surface, the face she shows to keep herself safe, however. For all she has been through, there is a gentleness about her, an inherent kindness that is foreign to him. It makes it impossible for him to guess at her next move, and she has repeatedly surprised him on their travels. She would make a good player if she chose to play the game, but she swears all she wants is to go home, making Littlefinger’s efforts to shape her into a weapon wholly wasted.

    Propositioning him in the early morning, when his body is only too willing to oblige, is one of her more surprising moves and one Littlefinger would no doubt dislike.

    “And what will fucking me accomplish?” he asks, pushing himself upright.

    Her eyes skim his torso, as the sheets pool in his lap. He’s still lean despite his years. Hunger and mistreatment and constant flight is strangely preserving. Although the grey in his beard tells the story of his age better than any paunch born of happy ease.

    “He will want a maid for his queen.”

    “Will he?” Jaime asks, as he settles against the headboard with his arms crossed over his chest, fingers digging in to cool the heat that builds in his gut at the smell of her and the warm press of her arse against his thigh.

    “You know he will,” she says, turning her head to the side in a dismissive sneer that curls her rosy mouth. “They’re all the same, wanting something unspoiled to mark upon.”

    She is already marked, though in a different way. He saw at the river once, as she washed away weeks of grime, silvery white stripes along her shoulders, the mark of man.

    Her eyes fix upon him again, and it is as if she has pinned him to the carved walnut with her unblinking stare. “Your brother is dead. There is no reason to preserve my maidenhead any longer. Not when used goods might be sent North after I pledge myself to his throne. What threat is an abused woman, alone in the world?”

    She can play at being helpless too, and a moment ago, she truly looked it, but as she gathers the fraying edges of her dignity, turning on the full power of her persuasion, Jaime knows the truth. Sansa is dangerous. She leans over him, tipping forward with a spill of creamy breasts, close enough to catch in a hungry mouth. Her hands frame either side of his legs beneath the sheets and she wets her lips with a slow lick that betrays only a peek of pink.

    If he wanted to escape, he would need to knock her aside, brushing her off in a show of force. That does not hold to the spirit of his vow to Catelyn Stark. Neither would fucking the girl.

    “Maids are tiresome. Ply your innocence elsewhere. It holds no charms for me.”

    It’s a bluff. A bad one at that, for while she is an innocent, she is not so untutored that she does not understand the meaning of the cock-stand between them. Otherwise she would not press into it, a sly smile bringing dimples to her cheeks, as he twitches against her middle.

    “Let me practice upon you, ser. It might be your last act of gallantry before the dragons take your life.”

    Chapter Text

    The eye wrinkling wince Jon makes at the slide of her needle undermines his assertion, “You’re the only one I trust to do this,” making Sansa frown in sympathy.

    Poor Jon. So brave in the face of an army of the undead, and so vulnerable under her touch.

    “Sam would do a tidy job,” she says, piercing his angry skin once more with the curved needle.

    “He always looks as if he is about to be sick, while stitching up the men. Doesn’t breed confidence.”

    “Come now, be fair,” she says, raising her brows at him. “You have all the confidence in the world in him, Commander Snow. I know that very well.”

    “I have all the confidence in the world in you.”

    She hums at the unexpected avowal, made with downcast eyes and a roughened voice. It’s too much, and they both know it. “In my needlework,” she says, tying off the thread.

    “Well, it’s always been fine.”

    “If less bloody,” she says, as she snips the thread and gives him a pat on the arm to indicate that the torture is through.

    “Handsome work,” he says, scowling at the wound before rolling down the arm of his tunic.

    “Oh, yes. Very elegant.”

    He shifts on the camp bed, rubbing at his beard. The loudness of his thoughts is worrisome enough that she fears what he means to say, when he clears his throat. “There’s room for both, you know.”

    “What’s that?” she asks, gathering up the bloody linens into a messy pile.

    “To trust you both.”

    A tight smile is all she can give him. “That I will allow, Jon.” But more she is not ready for.

    Chapter Text

    They meet in the air conditioned tunnel that leads up to the park, Sansa showing her handler a toothy smile to make sure there’s no Snow White red lipstick on her teeth, Jon stumbling along, looking about half dead with a Goofy head tucked under his arm.

    She gives him a quick hello, using her character voice, because she thinks it will make him laugh, and he looks like he could use a laugh. But he doesn’t.

    The sullen stare he gives her is definitely not what she expects from one of her fellow castmates. They are not hired to be somber and moody. The Mouse encourages, nay, enforces happiness, and while dropping character past the public line is expected, most of the people she works with are outgoing, cheerful people by nature. It’s why she’s been so happy working here. It’s the perfect place to forget your problems.

    She doesn’t see him again for a week, and when she does, his dark curls are plastered to his forehead and he’s wearing that same frown. She can’t imagine him up above, putting his arm around tourists and acting… goofy.

    “He’s so grumpy,” she whispers to Sam, as they pass by.

    “Is that a Snow White joke?”

    Sometimes Sam nervously laughs when he shouldn’t. Sometimes he misses the joke entirely. His awkwardness is endearing, and Sansa likes how sweet he is with the kids. They became fast friends once he got over being afraid to speak to her.

    She shakes her head. “No, it’s an observation.”

    “He’s having a hard time of it,” Sam informs her, lowering his voice as if to indicate he’s sharing some terrible secret. “But he’s a nice guy.”

    Sansa doesn’t know what Sam means by that and she doesn’t press him for details. She’s had a hard time of it too. Not here. Hundreds of miles away from Petyr, things are good. But her troubles are not so distant that she doesn’t begin to feel a kinship with the Goofy character, who can’t work up even the barest semblance of happiness in the Happiest Place on Earth.

    It changes her opinion of him enough that the next time they pass each other, she’s ready. It only took carrying around an iced coffee to each of her appearances for three days, but finally the timing is right and she’s able to press a iced coffee into his hand, while he stares back at her, looking completely dumbfounded.

    “What’s this?”

    “Something to wet your whistle,” she says, pressing her hands together in her best Snow impression.

    “Do you always talk like that?” he asks, gesturing with the cup.

    “He means thank you,” Sam says.

    “He’s right. Sorry. I’m really hot.”

    “I know,” Sansa agrees, taking in his flushed cheeks.

    “I’m Sansa.”

    Her hands want to clasp at her waist, but she forces them to hang more naturally at her side, cognizant of his stare.

    “Jon,” he says, lifting the cup up to his mouth.

    His upper lip is beaded with sweat. If she kissed him now, he’d taste of salt. It’s a very un-Snow like thought. Her false lashes beat against her cheeks, as she draws in a slow breath.

    “We have to get topside,” Sam says, nervously looking around Sansa towards the exit.

    “This was nice of you,” Jon says after a great gasp of relief that makes her smile her real smile, not the one she’s learned to fake as Snow. “Thank you.”

    Making people feel better is one of her favorite things, and the glow she feels is better than the one she gets from a ride on it’s a small world. “Find me at dinner, Jon. We’ll talk tricks on keeping cool.”

    “Unless you can transport us to Canada, I don’t know what good it’ll do,” he calls after her, as Sam motions her forward, clucking under his breath like a mother hen.

    She looks back over her shoulder, reveling in the way his features have smoothed out into something like contented neutral thanks to her little gesture. Oh, she can show him lots of ways to learn to be happy.

    “I can!” she calls back. “Have you heard of Epcot?”

    Chapter Text

    Sansa introduced herself to the brooding, dark haired man at table ten, hoping to make friends with someone at this wedding, but so far all he’s done is tear up cocktail napkins and scowl. She’s decided he’s not much of a conversationalist, when he says about the most interesting thing she’s heard all night, and she almost misses it because of the way he mumbles it into his glass.

    “She said she didn’t want to get married.”

    “You’re a friend of Val’s?” she presses, all innocent, wide eyes, hoping to draw him in.

    “Ex,” he says, setting the glass back down.

    “Oooh, that’s brave to invite the ex.”

    “It’s not like that.” If it’s not, he’s making a good show of it, looking so forlorn. “She knows I’ll behave.”

    “I’m a friend of Val’s too. Or colleague, I guess. We work together at…”

    “Medieval Times. I used to work there too,” he says, nudging at the little pile of shredded napkins he’s made by his salad plate with his left middle finger.

    No ring, Sansa notices. He’s got nice hands. Not too big, nicely boned.

    “What role?” she asks, toeing at the leg of his white chair with her patent heel.

    “Green knight.”

    Sansa coos again. That’s kind of a big deal. It must have been how he met Val, who does stable work. “I’m the princess.”

    “I know. Val told me she was putting me at your table.” The raucous best man’s speech may have turned her ears pink, but his throw away comment turns Jon’s cheeks beet red. “Gotta behave for royalty, right?” he says with a grimace.

    “Is that what she told you?” Val teases her about acting like a princess both in and out of costume. This guy is cute. Sansa would rather Val not have told tales on her.

    His long lashes dip against his cheek, as he looks down and shifts in his chair, stretching one long leg out under the table. “She razzed me about you until I sent in my RSVP card.”

    Not being prompt with your RSVP is rude, but men can be worthless about that sort of thing.

    “She didn’t mention you at all.”

    His twitchy frown is a dead give away that she’s said the wrong thing. “I’m not going to hit on you.”

    “Oh,” Sansa says, smoothing her napkin across her lap. “Shame.”

    His brows draw together in a look that she could easily misread if it wasn’t for the dark blush that still heats his face.

    She winks at him. “So tell me your sad story, Jon. Val wouldn’t marry you? She professed to be a singleton forever and then ran off with the king?” He’s got what looks like a nice body under his suit, but she doesn’t want to flirt with someone who is in love with someone else.

    “Oh, uh,” he reaches up and fiddles with the back of his collar like he’s unaccustomed to being gussied up in a suit. “No, it was never that serious. We weren’t in love or whatever.”

    Sansa never heard Val say she’d never marry, but it was a surprise to everyone when she and the actor who plays the king in their show announced that they were getting married. Val teases her about being a princess, and she teases Sansa about her dreams of a knight in shining armor too. Val’s just not a romantic.

    “Did you want it to be serious?”

    “Are you a therapist?”

    Sansa rolls her eyes, reaching for her water glass. “Okay, mister. Be that way.”

    She slowly sips her water, watching him fidget in his chair out of the corner of her eye. She hasn’t finished swallowing, when he turns towards her and leans forward into her personal space.

    “You want to dance?”

    It’s the oddest transition. One minute he seemed put out by her questioning, the next he seeks out increased intimacy with her, which by the looks of his white knuckled grip on the table has set his nerves on edge.

    But she does want to dance. It’s her favorite thing about weddings. That and a good slice of wedding cake. So she smiles brightly at him and puts her hand over his.

    “With nosy old me?”

    “Well, I’m a terrible dancer, so you’ll be getting the worst of it. I mean, shit,” he says, pulling back his hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. “You’re lovely, I mean,” he shakes his head. “I’m shit at this. Val is really screwing you over by trying to set us up.”

    “Is that what she’s doing?” Sansa asks, as she stands and holds out her hand to him.

    “You still want to dance?” he asks, looking owlishly up at her.

    “I do. We can’t let Val’s hard work go to waste. Just try not to step on my toes.”

    Chapter Text

    “Excuse me,” says the redhead who appears out of nowhere at Jon’s right elbow, her hand trailing down his bicep. “Excuse me, but you look really cold.”

    It’s much colder than he expected it to be today. Which is why he’s got his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans and his shoulders pulled up to his ears.

    She’s dressed warmly in a matching hat and scarf and what looks like wool tights peeking out from underneath her preppy green pea coat.

    “I’m okay,” he says, frowning at her pouty look of sympathy. “I don’t have a long walk.”

    “I’m Sansa. Where do you work… ?”

    “Jon. At The Wall police station. A couple of blocks away.”

    Her eyes dart up and down, taking in his ill-informed clothing choice. Settling on something, she grabs for the edge of her scarf and begins to unwind it. “You know what, I’m going to give you my scarf.”

    It might be cold, but his hands jerk free of his pockets, holding them up to stop her, as she stretches out the scarf, making to lift it over his head.

    “You look miserable. No one should be that cold. Especially not those who serve and protect.”

    The determination on her face, the way her pink tongue sticks in the corner of her mouth and her bright blue eyes narrow confuses him into ducking his head, so she can drape her decidedly feminine scarf around his neck, as he mumbles.

    “You need a coat,” she says, her finely arched brows drawing together, while taking a ridiculous amount of care.

    The brush of her knuckles against his neck makes his mouth twitch. “I’ve got a coat,” he hurriedly tells her in case she thinks to unbutton hers. “It’s just at home.”

    “That’s a bad place for it,” she says with a smile and tilt of her head that reminds him of the gentle scoldings of a Kindergarten teacher.

    “Is this expensive?” he asks, looking down at the soft blue scarf, suddenly concerned that it’s not only going to earn him a ribbing from the guys at work, but cheat this big-hearted girl out of a nice scarf.

    “Oh, no,” she says with a flap of her hands. “That old thing? I was going to donate it to Goodwill anyway.”

    “And the hat too?”

    “You’re not going to get my hat, Jon. I like this hat.”

    She should. It suits her.

    “You gotta let me buy you a coffee,” he says, jamming his hands back in his pockets and swallowing thickly around the bundle of nerves that tighten his chest. “To thank you.”

    “Does that mean it isn’t a date?” Sansa asks, pulling her hat farther down around her ears. “A girl gives you her scarf and she can’t even get a date?”

    He hasn’t asked anyone out since Ygritte, and even that was more like falling into something than speaking up to ask her if she wanted to get dinner. Sam isn’t going to believe this.

    “It could uh…” He scratches at the underside of his chin, as the wind whips around the corner, cutting through his Henley. “It could be a date.”

    She holds out her hand. “Do you have your phone with you? Or did you leave that at home with your coat?”

    He huffs out a cloudy laugh, slipping his phone out. “No, that I’ve got.”

    “Good,” she says, watching him fumble, as he unlocks it, opens his contacts, and hands it over.

    She taps her number into the phone and hands it back. She’s gone with a wave, jay-walking across the street as bold as day. He frowns and looks down at her info. First name, last left blank, cell number, and a note in the comments section: Wear the scarf. I’d like to see it again.

    Chapter Text

    “Weren’t you a Boy Scout?”

    “What?” Jon asks, as the wet nylon of the two person tent slips through his hands to collapse into the puddle growing around their feet.

    Sansa screws up her nose at the way her sandals squish. Jon said it would be fun, and she convinced herself it would be romantic. It would be the first opportunity to show off the new, spontaneous, try anything Sansa!

    He sits back on his heels and almost topples over, but Sansa doesn’t offer him a hand. Since they got out of his truck, he has been stubbornly insistent aboutdoing this himself, which means he can save himself from getting a muddy rump all on his own too.

    Sansa takes a step to the left, looking up at the canopy above her that shimmers under the rain. The spread of the branches here slows the fall of giant raindrops a little, but her hair is shot already. So much for her blowout. Long, poker straight hair was supposed to make her look like one of those hippie girls Jon used to hang around, the kind that are always up for camping and don’t pack curling irons. Make her look like she was low maintenance and one with nature.

    This is too much nature.

    “Don’t they teach you how to put up a tent in the Boy Scouts?”

    He squints up at her through lashes clumped together with rain. Dark lashes, the kind that don’t require squirreling away mascara in a backpack.

    “Scouts was like twenty years ago.”

    “Well,” she says, waving at the deflated tent, “make it do its thing, so we can get out of this rain.”

    Jon scrambles to his feet and kicks at the tent. He whiffs, missing the jumbled mass of poles and nylon entirely. Sansa bites back a smile. She’s not good at this rainy, outdoorsy thing, but Jon doesn’t seem much better at it. He was in a crazy rush to get the tent put up long before the rain started to fall like he didn’t want to be outside for any longer than necessary.

    He stumbles over to her, his sneakers slipping in the mud. “There’s a Holiday Inn fifteen miles back on the highway.”

    “Are you suggesting something?” she asks, as he forces a smile and pulls a wet hank of her hair over her shoulder.

    “Yeah, I’m suggesting we go do our thing out of the rain. On a bed. If you don’t mind doing that sort of thing with a failed Boy Scout.”

    Sansa’s not as new and improved as she sometimes like to think, but that doesn’t matter if Jon likes the Sansa who brought face cream camping.

    Rocking onto her toes, she presses a quick kiss to his lips. “Yeah, you look better in your shorts than I remember you looking in that scouting get up anyway.”

    Chapter Text

    Sansa never leaves the little cottage she shares with Jaime without his shadow a step behind hers, the thump of his feet a heavy accompaniment to the soft slap of her laced sandals. She doesn’t even to go to the marketplace alone. The name Stark still comes with a hefty reward for the man crafty enough to bag her head, and though Jaime is without his sword hand, he has proven himself time and again in defense of her.

    She went to the coast without escort, however, a trip of some length and considerable danger, drawn by whispers that her sister could be found there. It was a trip she wouldn’t allow Jaime to join her on. If she appeared with the Kingslayer at her side, Sansa knew that Arya would never make herself known to her. He had to be left behind.

    He hated it from the start, though he expressed his unease through barked insults she bore in stony silence. Not just insults: he made love to her the night before she left, holding tight enough that she forgot where he ended and she began in the press of hot flesh and scraping teeth.

    A sweetness that stings the corners of her eyes as much as it makes her smile creeps over her as she rounds the bend to their cottage. He won’t sulk for long now that’s she’s home.

    It doesn’t take long to see that their home is not quite as she left it. Sansa slows at the beginning of the path to their cottage, cocking her head, as she picks her way over discarded scraps of wood and uneven stones. In her absence, he has kept himself busy. The path has been reset. Badly. The eastern wall is patched in a place Sansa does not recall requiring any attention. The flowers she planted under the window trampled, the victim of the wall repair or whatever was perpetrated on the roof. It’s in a sorry state, half thatched and half covered in heavy tan cloth. What thatching he’s done, is uneven at best. It won’t keep the rain out any better than the old roof did.

    The door won’t be bothered by the damp anymore, however. As she nudges it open with the back of her hand, she notices that it is presently too short to meet the threshold, where it used to stick when it rained. Mice will happily scamper under this new, abbreviated door he’s fashioned. Rain will run right under too.

    “Jaime?” she calls around the door, alerting him to her presence, so he does not press a knife to her throat.

    She need not fear a blade. It’s a hammer he holds in his left fist, aimed at a crooked nail in their table. She draws breath when he misses and nearly knocks over the vase she haggled for like a proper peasant wife, prettying up the place where they sit down to sup. It’s painted with cornflower blue flowers and though she hardly cries anymore, she thinks if it shattered, there would be no holding back her tears today.

    Jaime said it wouldn’t be Arya. He roared at her that she was risking her fair neck for nothing. For nothing more than a childish wish like to get her captured. He was right.

    There is no more Sansa or Arya Stark. There is only Jeyne of flaxen hair and her husband Thom, who lost his hand in an accident on his father’s farm, and they live here in this cottage, playing at something they sometimes forget was never real.

    The hammer clatters to the table, and he twists on his stool to stare up at her, his nostrils flared in anger or frustration or some other unpleasant feeling she wishes she could erase so that everything would be as sweet as it should be.

    “It wasn’t her,” she says, chancing a look down as she moves towards him. At least his handiwork has not disturbed their earthen floor.

    “I’ve made a mess,” he admits, scuffing his too warm boot against the floor.

    “You have. It will take me days to set things straight,” she says, taking his bearded face in her hands. So like his son’s that it sometimes twists her gut.

    “I’ll fix the roof.”

    She tips his head up. “You were not made for hammer and nails.”

    “Nor you a cottage.”

    “And yet we both manage.”

    Chapter Text

    “You’ve never even watched before,” Jon insists, as he flips her beneath him on the suddenly too narrow couch.

    She shushes him with a finger to her lips. Wouldn’t do for her mama or daddy to wake up and find Robb’s friend in the living room with their daughter’s sweater hiked up over her bra, Star Wars playing muted in the background. They don’t know about the two of them. No one does.

    “I’ve watched this stupid movie more times than you. I have three brothers.” Who each can quote the lines by heart. Rickon was a tiny wookie on Halloween for his fifth birthday.

    Jon’s mouth hovers by the lacy cup of her bra, the one she bought with Jeyne, while Mama was in Ann Taylor, and crooks one horrified brow at her. “Stupid movie? It’s about heroes and princesses and good prevailing over evil. That’s exactly the kind of stuff you like.”

    She used to kind of like Luke if she had to pick a favorite character. But after multiple viewings, she’s decided he’s sort of boring. Han and Leia get all the romantic parts her brothers pretend not to like.

    “Han shoots back. Heroes don’t shoot first,” she says with a tug to Jon’s waistband.

    “So you think Han is a hero?”

    “I don’t know,” she shrugs beneath him. “Who cares? Why are we talking about this again?”

    He wets his lips–she wishes she could at least tell Jeyne how soft they are–and smiles. She used to think her brother’s best friend was gloomy, too serious, and a bad dresser. He’s still a bad dresser, but it turns out, he’s pretty cute when he smiles.

    “I won’t tell,” he whispers, sliding up her body to whisper against her ear.

    “Tell what?” She wriggles against him, so he might feel as tortured as she does, trapped like this underneath him without his mouth on her.

    “That you’re in love with Han Solo.”

    Chapter Text

    Jon could have easily fallen back asleep if he rolled to put his back to her pale, expectant face, but he likes it when his lady wife wakes him. It usually means good things: as of yet, she’s never roused him to argue.

    “I’m hungry,” she says prodding him in the ribs.

    It might be the second time she has said it. The world is still bleary, as Jon rubs his eyes with his fists. “Come again?”

    “I haven’t had a lemon cake since we left Winterfell. I would give anything for one right now. They’re my favorite, you know.”

    He didn’t know. Lemon cakes were served on the day of their wedding, but so were any number of other things she barely touched. Although, thinking back on it, she did finish the sugared dessert. At least, he thinks he remembers that little detail correctly, despite having had more wine than usual.

    “Will you come down to the kitchens with me?” she asks, holding the furs to her breast as she snatches up her shift from where he tossed it earlier. “It’s dark.”

    Jon frowns, wondering whether she means to admit she’s afraid of mice or ghosts or just dark stairwells. “If you like. You want me to wake the kitchen maid?”

    “It would be dreadfully selfish, wouldn’t it? She’s probably asleep.” As quiet as the holdfast is, Jon suspects everyone save themselves is asleep. “I think I can manage on my own.”

    It’s quite a scheme for someone, who he swears has never heated water, but she seems fixed on it. He’s as naked as his name day, when he sits up, but Sansa doesn’t even feign embarrassment, as she slides from their bed, her shift back in place on her narrow shoulders. Nor does she chide him when he pulls his breeches loose around his hips and leaves his shift behind to follow her down the spiraling steps.

    “Do we have lemons?” he asks, once they’ve reached the kitchens, where the embers of the supper’s fire still glow.

    “I may have had some sent from Dorne.”

    Without his knowing it. That sort of thing would annoy his Uncle Viserys, who doesn’t much appreciate any independence in spirit, when it comes to women. It doesn’t bother Jon, but he does wonder who his sheltered wife knows with connections in Dorne. Of course, she makes friends easily, so she may have befriended a peddler for all he knows. After all, he is not always here–a sticking point between them. 

    She’ll need him to get the fire going again, for she never lights her own. He puts himself to work, while she lights one torch after another, illuminating the small space in dim light paired with dancing shadows. It’s only when they’ve all been lit that she comes to stand beside the oven with him and he turns to see the golden filter of the torches throwing her form into relief through her shift. She holds it up, creating a cradle for a handful of lemons she has pulled from her hidden stash, exposing the long line of her legs. The tips of her breasts and the red curls between her thighs might be hidden from him, but the hint is there. All would be revealed if only she would hike her shift up an inch or so more.

    But a hint is all it takes. It couldn’t be more than two hours or so since last he touched her, but he has to adjust himself with the palm of his hand. He itches to seize her waist and draw her to where his cock twitches against his stomach.

    “Excuse me,” he stupidly says, when he feels her eyes upon him, cheeks pink despite the still cool fire.

    “You should kiss me,” she murmurs, her shift sagging, as she steps into him.

    He does, sending lemons tumbling from her shift and rolling across the floor, and though it was visions of sweets that woke her, there are other ways to while the late night hours.

    Chapter Text

    Sansa does not want to fight with Jon in front of Robb. That would be embarrassing and unpleasant for everyone. But the panic she feels as the two of them wrap his hideous black couch around the doorway of their cute new apartment threatens to make her lose her cool, which is already stretched thin by the sickening humidity.

    “We already have a sofa, Jon.”

    “That little thing?” Jon says, as he and Robb let the cracked leather monstrosity thud to the floor. The neighbors below them will think elephants have moved in.

    Her sofa is a nice little love seat. It matches the hooked rug she made after taking a Saturday class with Jeyne. It goes perfectly with her pink velvet stuffed chair and the pretty painting of the kissing couple she got at the antique shop. It’s a look. A good one, she congratulates herself.

    Jon’s couch doesn’t match anything but his game console, which is sitting atop her grandmother’s coffee table, instead of the vase of flowers and stack of hardbound books she kept there at her apartment.

    “I couldn’t stretch out on it,” Jon says, straightening up, as he wipes the back of his hand over his sweaty brow. Dark locks of hair stick to his skin in wet half-moons. He needs a shower. Robb does too. “And I’d feel funny putting my feet up on it. Looks too nice.”

    “It is too nice for that. That’s what the bed is for,” she says, attempting to infuse some flirt into what she fears is a manic smile.

    Robb groans and flops to the floor, a pile of boneless exhaustion. “Could you two not get into the cohabitation particulars while I’m present? Or I’ll have to kick Jon’s ass again.”

    “Did you think we were going to sleep in twin beds?” she asks, kicking at her brother’s outstretched leg. He could be such a big brother sometimes.


    Robb was less than thrilled when he walked in on the two of them at the Stark vacation house over the fourth. They’d been keeping this thing a secret for almost six months, and they’d gotten a little careless. They probably shouldn’t have used an unlocked laundry room for a rendezvous. But after three days of not feeling his hands on her waist, hauling her in close, Sansa was more reckless than usual and Jon’s surprisingly easy to lead into mischief for the guy she always thought was the most serious of Robb’s friends. He puts up only the bare minimum of protestation.

    “You couldn’t throw a punch after hauling this couch up those stairs,” Jon says, sitting down on the couch, though it’s in the middle of the room, blocking the pretty, tufted sofa she saved up for six months on her music teacher’s salary to afford. He pats the space next to him, where he has enterprisingly used silver duct tape to patch a hole in the crappy leather.

    She crosses her arms over her chest and gives her head a quick shake. “You could have saved yourself the trouble, since we already have a nice sofa right here.”

    “I could slap you around maybe,” Robb says, ignoring her comment, as he lies flat back on the rug with his eyes shut.

    His hair is as sweaty as Jon’s and Sansa wants to demand he get off the rug, but she also wants to push Jon’s old couch right back out the door and maybe toss his dresser with the one missing drawer front out the window too. She wants Jon, but she doesn’t want all his horrible stuff. It’s messing everything up.

    “Dude, get over it. You gonna give me a black eye on our wedding night too?” Jon asks, patting the couch again, a worn out smile pulling at the corners of his mouth.

    “C’mere,” he adds, when she stares back at him, her lips parted in shock.

    Did he hear himself?

    Sansa broke her own rules, when she was the one to suggest to Jon that they move in together. Normally she would have let the guy set the speed of their relationship, but all her rules seem so pointless with Jon. Everything feels so strangely natural. So familiar, when it should be strange to be moving in with Robb’s badly dressed, shy friend, who already made a nice habit of hiking her thigh over his shoulder, when she spent the night at his place.

    Everything with Jon is so comfortable, so good that she found herself breaking rules and sticking her neck out without thinking twice about it, without fear that her heart would be broken again.

    Robb raises his head off the floor, grimacing. “On your wedding night? Christ, man.”

    “No black eyes. It’d ruin the pictures,” she finally manages, stepping over Robb’s body to take the spot next to Jon.

    “Great. I’ll hit your boyfriend where it won’t show,” Robb promises.

    Jon’s stuff isn’t too bad. There’s a throw she could put over the arm of the couch, which would kind of tie it all together. Sort of. And having a second dresser means there’s more room for both their clothes, even if Jon’s wardrobe consists entirely of his uniform and the denim and t-shirts he wears when he’s not at work.

    He’d look so handsome in a tuxedo.

    He wraps an arm around her shoulder and slides her across the couch until she’s pressed against him.

    His wet t-shirt is gross, but if they can get rid of her brother, she can strip him of it and push him into the shower. Join him too. She’s got some conditioner she wouldn’t mind trying on him.

    Chapter Text

    Neither of them are really hot weather people, but Jon’s been especially whiny since the AC went out. Nothing cheers him up. Not even the popsicle Sansa brought him an hour ago. He took root beer–his favorite–and Sansa wondered not for the first time how root beer becomes someone’s favorite flavor, when there’s cherry or grape to choose from.

    “Suck on an ice cube,” she says, padding into their bedroom on bare feet with a big, already sweating glass filled to the rim with cubes.

    Jon cracks open an eye from where he lies spread out on top of the comforter in his boxer briefs and squints at her as if the effort pains him.

    “Might help,” she offers, holding out the glass.

    He grunts and closes his eyes again without reaching for the glass. So dramatic. She rolls her eyes as she sits down on the edge of the bed and fishes a cube out to pop in her mouth. Ice and the overhead fan here in the bedroom whirring around on its highest speed are their only options for keeping cool until the repairman arrives.

    Cold showers work too, but they’ve taken two a piece and Jon is passionate about water conservation, so when she suggested he take another fifteen minutes ago, he gave her that disapproving head shake of his. He makes a ridiculous martyr, stomping around in his underwear.

    It’s been an hour since the last cold shower either of them took, but while the relief has passed, they still look as if they just climbed out. Neither of their hair has dried since the last go round. The fan doesn’t even stir the hair stuck to his forehead, as she stares down at him, rolling the cube around in her mouth.

    He looks so miserable, mouth turned down in a permanent frown and brows drawn together. It makes Sansa wants to laugh. This is exactly what she thought living with Jon must be like before she found out what a good kisser he is and then stumbled into learning all about the rest of him. She and Jeyne used to giggle about how Ygritte must put up with endless moody silences and dark looks.

    His funk is amusing to a point, but she wouldn’t mind shaking him from it, so she can have her boyfriend back. Jon responds well to a little teasing now and then, and she knows his sensitive spots. The ice she scoops from the glass doesn’t travel more than two inches up his abdomen before his muscles contract and a hand wraps tight around her wrist.

    “Christ, Sansa,” he says, jerking her hand away.

    The tendons in his neck stand out in relief and his nostrils flare, and all she can do is laugh.

    “Doesn’t that feel good?” she gasps, struggling to free her hand and reapply the dripping ice cube to some other tender place, so he might jerk under her touch again. She’s the one that usually loses all control underneath his ministrations. It’s amusing to see him equally thrown.

    He widens the gap between her hand and his body, holding her arm aloft, and gives her a particularly stern look, when she rattles the glass of ice in her other hand. It’s hard to take him seriously though, when his eyes dip to the cups of her pink bra. It’s probably the girliest bra and panty set she owns, and definitely her favorite, but it doesn’t lay right under her clothing thanks to the eyelet trim at the cups and legs. Today there’s been no need for clothes, however, and it’s not the first time she caught Jon staring.

    “It’s too hot for this,” Jon says, bringing his eyes back up to hers, her arm still held in his grip above their heads.

    “Too hot for what?”

    “You prancing around in that,” he says, lifting his chin at her, “and rubbing ice cubes on me.”

    “I’m not prancing and the ice cube was supposed to help you.”

    “Oh it helped all right,” he says, and Sansa bites her lip as he lets her arm drop and tugs on the waistband of his briefs, adjusting himself. “But it didn’t cool me down.”


    “You read that in Cosmo?”

    “I don’t read Cosmo, Jon. I just like the way you twitch when I touch you.”

    “Fuck,” he says loud enough that their neighbors might have heard. She’ll have to save some cookies for them the next time she bakes a batch. Sometimes she and Jon are embarrassingly loud and there’s just nothing for it. “You would act all naughty today, wouldn’t you?”

    “Is it too hot for that too?” she asks, stretching across him to set the glass down on the bedside table.

    “Yeah, ’cause it’s too damn hot to fuck you the way I’ve been dying to all afternoon.”

    “Shame. I think I’d like that,” she says with a pout.


    The elderly neighbors will have definitely heard that, but Sansa doesn’t much care, when he sits up and hauls her into his lap. His skin is sticky, when she loops her arms around his neck, his upper lip has the tang of salt, when he presses his lips to hers, and it might be her favorite lingerie set, but she’s happy to feel him unlatch her bra and slide his hand down the back of her panties, cupping her ass before pulling her to her feet. She wants all of it off. Her skin exposed to the hot air and his mouth. Now.

    “Shower,” he mumbles against her neck, punctuating his statement with a scrape of his teeth.

    “I thought you were upset about our water usage,” Sansa says, swallowing back a smile.

    “I’ll walk to work for the next two weeks.”

    “That’s not how it works,” she squeaks, giving her legs a feeble kick for show, as he lifts her onto his shoulder.

    “I’ll buy more carbon usage credits” he says with a smack to her ass. “I’ll say ten Hail Marys and four Our Fathers, I’ll volunteer an extra day at the co-op, but we’re getting in that shower.”

    “I prefer the bed,” she sighs theatrically, as he pushes open the bathroom door, one hand still holding fast to her thigh.

    “As soon as the AC is on, we’ll do it there too. You think you can stand it if I go down on you here first?” he asks, setting her down on the bathmat and shoving the shower curtain back with enough urgency that he nearly pops one of the rings free.

    Sansa reaches for the faucet, turning it to cool with a perky little shrug that makes Jon groan. “If you insist.”

    Chapter Text

    Jaime swore it was a Targaryen cloaked rider, skulking around the marketplace, as Sansa wound through stalls, picking up items and putting then down again without enough coin to buy much of anything. This far east it would be surprising to find themselves hunted, but they are both traitors and the Dragon Queen’s reach is long.

    When the man’s eyes find him again, Jaime grabs Sansa’s elbow beneath her cloak. He says nothing, as he leads her back through the stalls, circling twice to throw off whoever might be following, and then darting across the alley, when a large hay wagon rumbles through the street, providing cover.

    “What is this about?” she asks, her voice thin and trembling, as he jerks her behind a crooked addition that should hide them from the view of the street. “Did you see someone?”

    He shushes her and presses her into the wall, flattening them both against the daubed mud. Both of them wear hats over their golden hair–hers lightened by chemicals that burn the nose and his shot full of grey–which should save them from the golden sun’s rays above drawing attention to their presence here. Unless the rider is truly sent by the Queen, and then, he doesn’t think even the darkest alley could save them. It would hurt now to fight and lose, to know in his last moments that he failed to protect her.

    At first he found himself annoyed by the Stark girl. She was supposed to be the remaking of him–an honorable man once more, who fulfills his vows rather than breaks them–but a real flesh and blood girl is a great deal of trouble, which made their efforts to head North nigh on impossible. Even escaping Westeros, once the winter became too harsh to attempt to travel to her bastard brother, was a trial. She was seasick on the voyage and her fair skin burned under the eastern sun and though she didn’t complain, her misery was his own.

    She is not so young as when he led her from the crumbling kingdom of Westeros, however. She’s a woman grown, who despite her high birth, has taken to caring for him as much as he initially was forced to see to her survival. She mends his tunics, cooks him almost passable meals that are laden with spice, and when he injures himself, as he is wont to do with only one hand, she binds his wounds and makes poultices that smell like shit but prevent him from turning to rot.

    She’s also very beautiful. He notices her beauty more with every passing day, as news of a war with dragons above and icy creatures below filters to them like a terrifying hero’s song from another age. One which he might have heard while sitting at table, but in which he plays no role. He forgets who he was or that he knew some of the boys they name, when they speak of the heroics of winter’s war. But was that not the plan, when he sought the Stark girl out? To become someone else completely, and thus, forget his pain?

    His twin needed nothing to strip her hair to gold.

    He could forget with Sansa if only for a moment. Especially in the shadow of these walls. She is sweet and soft, and pushed against her here with her chest rising and falling in silent panic, he can do naught but stare down at her rosy mouth. He took pride once in his devotion, in his single-minded dedication to loving only one woman, bedding only one woman.

    But that is another life almost forgotten, and the thing he takes pride in now is here clutched in his good hand and gold, alive and out of the hands of monsters, because he thought to free her.

    Into the hands of another monster, who has her tight by the shoulders with one thigh between her long, lean legs. One of the most famed monsters of all–the Kingslayer–he thinks, as he draws his nose along the line of her cheek. She turns into him, letting their mouths brush, and his hand spasms over her simple homespun gown’s sleeve.

    He pulls back, tucking his chin down. “We best get home.”

    “Is he gone? The man from the market?”

    He used to think she was stupid as well as annoying, but she sees more and understands more than she lets on.

    He doesn’t answer her, because he doesn’t know. The stranger could be just beyond the end of the alley, waiting with a sword. “We’ll stay to the side streets. Pull your shawl over your head.”

    She nods, dutifully tucking her head underneath the grey of her shawl and drawing it about her face. Poorly dressed, golden of hair, half a head taller, and more rounded out than last anyone saw her, she looks nothing like Sansa Stark. Save for the Tully blue of her eyes that cut sideways to fix on his mouth, as she puts out her hand for his, trusting him to protect her.

    Either they’ll be safer enclosed within their four small walls, where Jaime could mount a stand if need be, or Jaime will finally prove that she isn’t safe anywhere anymore alone with him.

    Chapter Text

    “How’d you like your letters, Jon?” Jeyne asks, smiling over the lemonade Mrs. Stark has brought them on the porch.

    It’s surreal, sitting here on the swing with Sansa Stark, while Jeyne prattles away and Mrs. Stark brings drinks and baked goods out to them on trays. Surreal not to be in a foxhole and surreal that Robb didn’t come home with him. Jon went off to war thinking he’d be a hero, and by the end of it, the only thing keeping him alive was a dented helmet and those letters he got from back home.

    He didn’t have a sweetheart to write him the way the way most the fellas did. A sweetheart was a name to whisper, a picture to clutch, and letters full of warm promises. A letter could be a damn lifesaver, but he went the first few months with nothing but poorly penned reports from Arya about her job in the munitions factory that were half blacked out, because they contained things she wasn’t supposed to write about.

    Then Robb died and the letters started arriving. In a big, loopy feminine hand, they were never signed. The guys in his division had a pool going on who the likely culprit was. He hadn’t thought of Jeyne. She was always sweet on Theon, which meant someone like Jon was not her type of fella.

    “You wrote me those letters?” he asks, lowering his sweating glass of lemonade to rest on the white arm of the swing.

    The last letter he received finished with one of those promises the boys on the front like best, the kind you wouldn’t repeat to your mama. But then, there were a good deal of hastily made marriages and bad decision making with life on the line. Girls got themselves in trouble, following through on those promises. He didn’t think Jeyne was the type to be that bold, however. She’s pretty though, and it’s flattering. He just wishes he hadn’t found out with Sansa sitting right next to him, since he can see out of the corner of his eye that she is anything but pleased with this line of conversation.

    “Me? Not hardly. Ask Sansa who wrote you.”

    “Jeyne Poole,” Sansa says, hissing at her best friend and neighbor.

    “Someone needed to tell him,” Jeyne says with a shrug. “You’d have left him wondering forever, which seems a shame, when he’s here, looking so handsome in his uniform, and on his best behavior.”

    Sansa reaches across to take the lemonade from his hand, though he isn’t finished. “Ignore her. Jeyne has forgotten how to be civilized.”

    He can feel his pulse in his hands, the same way he would when the shelling would stop. Except now he’s not staring into the muddy water of his trench, he’s staring at Robb’s little sister. Her hair the same copper as his friend’s, cheeks flushed, and hands clenched around his glass in the lap of her pretty blue dress, she uncrosses and crosses her legs again at the ankle, gently swaying the swing they share. She’s not the little girl he and Robb left behind.

    “Did you write me?” he asks, transfixed by the rub of her finger up and down the glass, leaving a streak in the condensation.

    She looks up at him sideways, a flash of blue that’s curtained just as quickly again by the fall of her lashes. “Someone had to. Robb had Jeyne Westerling and well, it didn’t seem right, I suppose, thinking of you alone over there.”

    “She wrote you nearly every day,” Jeyne adds. “Did you receive them all?”

    “I think one or two might have gone astray,” he says, as he reaches out for his glass. Not because he wants more lemonade, but just to brush her hand with his own. He’d take hold of it, but he doesn’t want to be too bold.

    He doesn’t know whether she meant any of what she wrote–or where she learned some of the things she spoke of to him, acting like a woman and not a girl fresh out in society–but maybe it doesn’t matter. All he knows is, he owes her his life.

    Chapter Text

    Jon only asked her to be nice. She looked miserable, sitting at the round for eight, alternatively trying to pretend she was absorbed in watching everyone else dance or sipping from her punch. From the looks of it, she was abandoned by her date, and though Jon was dragged here against his will, so Robb would have backup, he couldn’t watch Robb’s little sister look miserable for another second.

    Jon is a terrible dancer. This is an established fact that he’s known since his cotillion days. Sansa has probably been witness to Robb’s ribbing of him, recounting how the girls would purposefully head for the bathroom rather than be the next in line to be his partner. She still said yes. She looked up at him, when he came over the table like he was a goddamn hero, coming to save the day.

    But it’s one thing to kind of bop dumbly around to “Take on Me” and another to slow dance. The music fades into a Whitney Houston song, and Jon looks around the dance floor, as couples move into each other’s arms. His hang limply at his side, as Sansa shifts on her pink heels and bites the corner of her lip.

    “Do you, uh, want to?” he begins, meaning to ask whether she wants to get more punch or if she’d like to go sit down–he can keep her company until one of her friends can come sit by her or Joffrey comes back from whatever hole he occupies–when she nods and steps into his space.

    Toe to toe, she takes his right hand in hers, threading them together.

    Oh shit. We’re gonna dance.

    Like the other people on the dance floor in taffeta and badly fitting tuxes who are actually dating and have risque plans for tonight after prom is over. His tux doesn’t fit right and his boutonniere is squashed from when he went to the restroom and bumped into the door, but the rest of it doesn’t fit him and Sansa. They aren’t an item. He’s just trying to help out a girl he’s known since he was five. A super pretty girl.

    At least his hands aren’t sweaty, when he presses one over the satin bow at her waist. He’d leave a mark, and he’s fairly certain that Robb wouldn’t like that. It’s bad enough that Joffrey invited Sansa to their senior prom, but Robb would take it as an assault from within if Jon left a paw print on his little sister.

    “Sorry. I’m no good at this,” he says, when she rocks left and he moves in the opposite direction, throwing off their already awkward timing.

    “You’re the best partner I’ve had all night.”

    He wants to say it’s hardly a compliment comparing him to Joffrey, but the way she smiles up at him, all white teeth and rosy lips, he doesn’t want to spoil the moment. For now, he’s going to pretend Robb probably isn’t lurking in one of the gym’s corners, planning on rearranging his face, and content himself with thinking about other ways he might make her smile.

    Chapter Text

    There’s been a battle won and another and a revelation of Jon’s parentage being not what they thought, and through it all, they’ve been closer than they ever were as children. Fought more too, argued over political decisions the way Jon would have never argued with Sansa when he was her older, half-brother. Either he was too good to fight with a younger sister or he feared she would run to Catelyn Stark. Both are equally possible.

    Closeness has meant an alteration in their old roles, however, and she never feared that his disagreeing with her over diplomacy and armies indicated a lack of affection on his part or a lack of trust or respect. It is now in the watery light of early morning, pressed together in his camp bed, that she feels a spike of fear for their relationship. All because there is something about seeing him like this, bleary eyed and hair a muss, which makes her belly twinge.

    She could kiss him, she thinks. She would like to. Lean forward into him, clutch his shoulder, and see if his kisses could make her heart thud the way the songs of old promised. They might, knowing he would never hurt her.

    Jon brought her into his tent several moons ago after she confessed that sleep alluded her with so many men about. There were always two camp beds. One for him and one for her. But last night the tent was not fitted with the second narrow bed, someone or something having gone astray, and rather than rouse his squire and make complaint, Sansa insisted that one would do. It would be cramped, but it was cold and she trusted him.

    If he left before she woke as he is accustomed to doing, she wouldn’t be feeling these wholly inappropriate feelings, as his hand closes over the furs draped over them and pulls them up closer to her chin.

    “Morning,” he murmurs, voice rough from sleep, and she forces her lips to mimic a smile.

    “You’ve slept late.”

    “I slept well,” he says, shifting, turning halfway onto his back, as his eyes slip closed.

    Any farther and he will roll right out of this small bed. Her hand snakes under the furs to grip his elbow, as if she might hold him fast, as if she does not simply want an excuse to touch him.

    “As did I,” she confesses.

    Having thought such twisted things, having noticed the way his throat rolls when he stretches or the way his legs move the furs against her body, Sansa is certain she will never sleep so well again with Jon so close by. Unless a darker confession would be welcome to him.

    Chapter Text

    The tent flap opens and Sansa comes inside in a blur of skirts and unbound hair. He would stand, but his legs only barely supported him, when he was led to this chair, his wounds freshly bound. The best he can do is lift his head. And receive her slap.

    His hand touches his cheek where he can feel her fingers. He didn’t think Sansa capable of violence of any sort, let alone that sort of sting.

    “You’ve hit me.”

    “You almost died,” she says, towering over him. She is one of the loveliest girls he’s ever seen, but in this moment, her face is pinched with fury.

    He shakes his head. He’s weak from the blood loss and her words make little sense to him.

    “I’ll do worse than that to you if you think to scare me like that again, Jon Snow.”

    Jon licks his dry lips. “What exactly would you do to a dead man?”

    She huffs in exasperation at him and her hand clenches at her side as if the next time she hits him it will be with a closed fist. He doesn’t think he could catch her hand if she attempted it.

    “I know you told that Red priestess not to bring you back. Deny it.”

    Jon’s cheeks would heat if he had enough blood to show a maidenly blush. The Red woman and he have had private moments together he would rather Sansa know nothing about.

    “I can’t.”

    Ever since he was told of his parentage and Davos suggested a marriage might forge a stronger Northern alliance, Jon has felt awkward in Sansa’s company. Fearful she will see his weakness has always been his wish for Winterfell to be his. A wife. Children. Babes with his name held close to his breast.

    “How selfish are you to insist on dying?” she demands, dropping to her knees so that he must look down at her instead of up.

    “I did not wish to die. I merely dreaded being brought back.”

    Her face softens and she places her hand on his knee. “I would have you brought back one hundred times, Jon. Don’t you know that?”

    “Not if you knew,” he says, though his hand betrays him and covers her own. “Not if you knew the things I sometimes desired.”

    “We all have things we conceal, Jon. But there is nothing you desire that I haven’t wished for too.”

    Chapter Text

    Sansa forbid Robb to pull over for the hitchhiker in the band t-shirt with his guitar slung over his back. They had to get home and shouldn’t be wasting time. The lanky looking twenty-something with floppy dark curls could be a murderer. He could rob them. Steal their car, while they were making a pit stop at the rest area.

    But Robb never listens to her. He pulled over, rolled down her window, and asked where the guy was headed. It had to be Boston. Not somewhere along the way, somewhere close to where they picked him up. No, Boston. They have to ride all the way home with this wannabe rocker, and Robb has the nerve to smile at her in the rear view mirror, when he says they’ll come see this Jon person at his next gig in the city.

    Robb also very much doesn’t care that she’s been riding in the backseat with Bran for the last four hours, playing I spy and license plate bingo, because she couldn’t very well let a stranger ride alongside their brother. Jon at least has the good sense to apologize about it: once when she originally flounced out of the car to switch seats and a second time while standing in line for McDonald’s.

    “You really don’t have to ride in the back. I’ll switch you for the rest of the way.”

    “And have my little brother sit with a total stranger? Yeah, no.”

    He squints his eyes–they’re lined in lashes so dark it looks like he’s wearing liner. “Don’t blame you there. I promise I’m not a creep though. I’ll even buy you some fries.”

    “You have fry money?” she asks, wondering if he really could afford a bus ticket but enjoys annoying strangers.

    He pulls his hand out of the front pocket of his tight jeans and opens his palm to show a scattering of change. “Just enough.”

    “A small maybe, and then what would you eat?”

    “S’okay. You guys have been really cool.”

    That makes her feel marginally bad after thinking any number of mean, uncool things at the back of his head. When they get to the front of the line, she ends up chipping in some extra change, so he can get a cheeseburger too. Despite a lot of awkward protesting about her gesture, he follows her out to the car to wait for Robb and Bran with two bags in hand–his and Robb and Bran’s. Setting them on top of the hood of the car, he unrolls the smaller of the two and pulls out the fries. He holds the golden arch emblazoned envelope out to her.

    “You gotta take at least one.”

    “Thanks.” She doesn’t eat McDonald’s, but she takes one–to be nice–and he watches her eat it, his short boot scuffing the parking lot pavement. “It’s good,” she adds to fill the space.

    He nods and digs in the bag again, retrieving his cheeseburger. “You have a uh- nice singing voice.”

    For a second she doesn’t know where the compliment comes from, but then remembers her singing 99 Bottles of Beer with Bran for an especially boring stretch through Iowa. Hardly her finest performance. Her cheeks heat.

    “I feel like I should tell you I sing things other than 99 Bottles of Beer.”

    “I can tell. Rootbeer though, that was a nice touch. I’d never heard that version. Very wholesome.”

    Sansa shrugs, as he tips the envelope her way again. Despite herself, she takes another. They’re salty and hot and kind of delicious.

    “I worked at a church summer camp. I know all sorts of cleaned up versions of songs you never thought to consider inappropriate.”

    “Cool. Cool.” He one-handedly unwraps the cheeseburger, the tendons rippling along the back of his hand, and takes a monstrous large bite that halfway obscures his next question. “Are you willing to sing inappropriate stuff?”


    “Oh- I meant. Shit,” he says, swallowing hard. “Nothing weird. My band lost its lead singer. She moved to Toronto six months ago and we’ve been floundering ever since. I can’t sing for shit and Sam–Sam’s our bassist–hates to sing in front of a crowd.”


    “You’d be great is all.”

    It’s a ridiculous proposition. She’s leaning against the car in a floral sundress with her toenails painted pink in her gold sandals and she sings in the church choir every Sunday. She’s not some rocker chick. The place he named that he plays at? She’s never even heard of it. Sansa Stark doesn’t go places like that, let alone perform in them. To do something like that, she’d have to be a totally different person.

    It would be like playing dress up at a Halloween sorority party, where the theme is questionable. Except she’s always kind of loved Halloween. Could do without most of the candy, but the dressing up is pretty awesome. Even when the theme is slutty vampires or whatever.

    With the rounded nail of her index finger, Sansa swipes salt from the corner of her mouth, where she feels it stuck in her gloss. His eyes linger on her mouth, after she pulls her hand away to lick her lips.

    “Do you ask every pretty girl to audition for your band?” she asks, reaching for the back passenger side door handle.

    “No. Just the ones that pick me up along I-80.”

    Robb didn’t listen to her when she told him not to pull over, he was unaffected by her moving into the backseat, and took actual delight in making promises to see drag her to some dingy bar to watch Jon’s band. If she tells her brother that the pretty boy they picked up is hitting on her, however, 10 to 1 he’ll care.

    “Get in. Robb’s got Bran,” she says, nodding at her brothers shouldering through McDonald’s door.

    Robb would kick Jon to the curb right now if he knew. But what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

    Chapter Text

    Sansa sniffs, leaning into her stretch to avoid feeling his sulky stare upon her. Jon Snow is a member of the Corps de Ballet. He should not be running through the duet with her, a last minute gamble suggested by the creative director born of desperation, since Willas tore his hamstring. Jon is not an appropriate choice to replace Willas, who is as elegant and precise as she is, a true professional with a long history of critically acclaimed roles under his belt. Jon hasn’t earned the chance to audition to dance alongside her for the company’s inaugural performance of Tristan und Isolde, a ballet Petyr pronounces during her warm up “all about thwarted desire.”

    She reminds Jon of the temporary nature of this little endeavor, as the pianist strikes the first chord, the whole company’s eyes unnervingly upon them. “Don’t get too comfortable.”

    All he gives her is that sad smile she dreads when they all go out for drinks after a performance and she catches him staring, his gaggle of Corps dancers huddled around him, getting drunk and pretending not to care whether the principals speak to them.

    She and Jon grew up at the same studio. It’s an impossible coincidence that they’d ended up in the same company on the opposite coast, both of them without a family member left to attend a performance. She hates for it to come up, especially when tied to her triumphs in the dance world, but her first performance as Second Soloist, a critic recounted the tragic death of her family in his write up, a story he must have gotten from one of the other company members. She never read it herself, was warned off of it by Margaery. Marg might have told her to skip the review, but she knows it was Jon who tore down all the copies that were pasted around the studio per tradition.

    It’s that kind of kindness that Sansa doesn’t know what to do with. She just wishes he’d put the same effort into his company classes as he does moping around the dressing rooms, reminding her of the past.

    They’ll choose Oberyn–not her favorite partner, she’ll always prefer Willas–once they see what a disaster pairing them together is. Childhood familiarity cannot make up for everything Jon is lacking. He may have been with them for two years, but you can hardly see any improvement. His technique is sloppy. He relies too much on natural ability, on his strength, on unbridled emotion–Sansa herself was once accused of being an overly emotional dancer, when she was doing her time in the Corps, so she can spot the flaw in someone else easily enough.

    She doesn’t dance on raw emotion anymore, which makes the rapid thrum of her heart as Jon’s hand finds the small of her back, steadying her for the pirouette that ends in his chest pressed tight to hers all the more confusing. It’s not a physically demanding duet. Not like the Grand Pas Des Deux from the Nutcracker, which she danced over and over at the beginning of the season. She should not be out of breath, as Jon lifts her far more easily than Willas ever has, and her cheeks should not be flushed red as they fold into each other and rotate away again as the piano reaches crescendo.

    No, dancing with Willas has never been like this. She forgets for a moment where they are, who they are, the music buoys her along, driving her hard against him and stretching her beyond her usual limits. Their bodies are inexplicably in concert. When she pulls the beat further than Petyr choreographed, extending the arabesque as her body and the music and the emotion demands, he follows so naturally that even Petyr doesn’t frown at the imperfection in his vision.

    She can’t open her eyes for a full beat, as the final chord fades and the company claps more than politely. Someone hoots and Sansa sucks in a sharp breath. Margaery will be smirking at her, amused at how Sansa allowed herself to be carried away in a rehearsal audition with Jon Snow, forgetting everything she’s learned in her three years here.

    “I think we have our Tristan,” Petyr says, letting his cane hit the sprung floor in a rapid succession that vibrates the floor beneath her cheek.

    Jon pats her shoulder, forcing her from her private embarrassment, and she looks up from her repose, waiting for him to reply saucily to her earlier warning. Jon can be sarcastic and smart. She remembers it from when they were junior company members back at home, just kids messing around in ill-fitting, musty costumes. But instead, he offers her his hand to haul her up from the floor. She doesn’t need his help, but she takes it anyway.

    Chapter Text

    The dream fills his sleeping hours.

    A melting layer of snow crunches beneath Jon’s feet, as he walks behind the ruins of Winterfell, approaching the spring that fills the late winter air with steam. The woods part and he sees her. She is turned away from him, bathing in the spring up to the small of her back, so that all he sees is a curtain of red hair darkened by dampness. Until she raises a hand and pulls her hair over her shoulder, exposing the curve of her neck and the narrow of her waist, where he would like to grip her and pull her towards him.

    And he doesn’t turn away, though he knows it would be the honorable thing to do. He doesn’t give her the privacy she deserves. He stands—his breath caught in his throat—and watches as beads of glistening water roll over faded marks that he hopes are only the fevered imaginings of his mind. But what he wants to do is lick the water from her as her body arches under his touch. What he wants is to whisper her name—Sansa, Sansa, Sansa—against her skin as he moves above her.

    The dream haunts his waking hours.

    He wakes from it and hates himself. He douses his face in water cold enough to cool his arousal. He thinks of it throughout the day, when he stands atop the Wall, looking south towards home, towards her. He grows hard, and hates himself as much as he loves her in his sleep. He reminds himself that it is nothing but a dream. Sansa would never bathe in the hot springs. She is as dignified and careful as she is beautiful and gentle. Nor would she want him; not the way she does in the dream, when she glances over her shoulder, her eyes smiling with pleasure at the sight of him before she beckons him closer with a tilt of her head, her rosy lip dimpled by her teeth.

    And he delays his visit to Winterfell, though the Lady of Winterfell has sent three missives each so sweetly worded that only a fool would deny her. But every last one is signed your loving sister and another brother he cannot take from her, when as Lord Commander he has nothing lasting to offer her in return.

    Chapter Text

    “You wanted to see me?” Sansa asks, her furs sweeping the rushes, as she comes to stand before Jon.

    “I did,” he says, pushing himself to his feet from where he was seated, pouring over a map and trying to focus on battle plans with Dickon’s words playing over in his head. “I had an interesting meeting with Dickon Tarly this morning.”

    Her eyes dart to the floor and back up again. “Interesting how?”

    “He asked permission to marry you.” He waits for her distress, as she clasps her hands before her, but her expression remains unchanged. “You don’t seem surprised.”

    “I’m not.” He catches the swallow of her throat above the silver clasp holding her furs about her shoulders. “What was your answer?”

    “I’d need to speak to you first. I’m not sure I believed him that you wanted to be wed. Do you?”


    His face contorts. “You hardly know him, Sansa.”

    “You’re one to talk,” she says with a purse of her lips.

    Jon has heard plenty from the Northern lords about his alliance with Daenerys, but if Sansa means to chide him, it will be the first time she has voiced her displeasure aloud. Her greeting upon his return was full of nothing but relief, and her support, while accompanied by strongly voiced criticism at times, has helped sustain him.

    “You’re the one that brought them north and told me, told all the lords to trust these Southron lords and their followers. And I have tried my best to do so, for the good of Westeros. Is that not right?”

    With an almost innocent smile, she mimics one of his well-worn appeals, and perhaps it sounds as thin to his ears and it does to theirs, when there is a romance complicating his high-minded pleas for unity. He huffs, turning towards the window that faces south, towards where Dickon and the rest of the men he brought with him hale. Leave it to Sansa to turn his own words against him for her own benefit. She’s as clever as Tyrion suspected and then some.

    “Lord Tarly was not a good man. Nothing I know of him was good, Sansa.”

    “He is not his father, and you have nothing but praise for his brother.”

    Jon can only hope Sam and Dickon are more alike in temperament if his sister has formed an attachment to the new lord of Horn Hill. Of the men that Daenerys burned, Randyll Tarly is the one that Jon cannot summon any sympathy for, any more than he mourned the death of Ramsay Bolton. Lord Tarly’s intention was for his son to die at the Wall: he wanted that for his own blood.

    “Why not wait?”

    “Until after the wights have come for us? Is that your brotherly suggestion?”

    “That’s the cause of your rush to wed?”

    It’s a depressing thought, that his sister is driven by the certainty of impending death.

    Her height somehow increases with her hardening glare. “What, do you imagine he seeks to claim the North like every other man wed to me?”

    “No,” he says, clenching his right fist. While he doesn’t know the full measure of Sam’s brother, thirst for power didn’t appear to fuel the resolve in the young man’s voice. “There might not be much to claim soon.” It’s so cold now that even in their fire warmed chambers, his heavy exhale mists. “And you have more to offer a man than a claim to a throne.”

    “I would wed. Immediately. Please, Jon.”

    At the softening of her voice, he stretches out his hand to clasp hers. “We have the dragons. There is some small hope, and you can wed whomever you choose when this is over. Under happier circumstances.”

    She squeezes his hand. “There is cause for urgency. I’m with child.” Jon stares back at her, trying to absorb the words, while attempting not to let his gaze flick down to her waist. “I know how it was for you. How I was. How people were. I wouldn’t have that for my child. For any child.”

    She continues, her words running together, eyes glistening, but there is no need. “Of course,” he says, cutting her off.

    She blinks. “Yes?”

    “I’ll say… ” He reaches up to scrub his mouth. “I’ll say it’s to strengthen our alliances. No one will suspect.”

    She rolls her eyes, “If you mean to appease the lords on my behalf, don’t bother. They all hate you save Lyanna Mormont.” She raises her other hand to touch his cheek, no doubt seeing the pain that their distrust knifes through him as surely as the knives of his brothers in black. “They’ll forgive you when you save us.”

    He nods against the cool palm of her hand as she whispers her thanks and turns to leave him, but he stops her before she reaches the door. “You love him?”

    The smile she flashes him over her shoulder is as expectant as the ones she wore as a girl. “Yes.”

    Chapter Text

    Sansa Stark is good at noticing.

    She notices the awkward reunion between Sam and Dickon Tarly, as awkward as the reunions she had with her own younger siblings. It is familiar to her, the way they don’t seem to know what to say to each other. The way they try in spite of everything.

    She sees the way the younger brother treats Gilly with the respect most men deny women. She hasn’t seen him be disrespectful yet. Not with anyone. From serving girls on up.

    She notices how Dickon Tarly is always the first at training and how he has accepted Jon as his leader, whereas some of the Southron men grumble behind his back, when Jon’s instruction becomes demanding, driven by heated desperation. They’re cold and they’re dubious of the truth of an army of dead men marching towards them. They long to go home. Their loyalty is a fleeting, fragile thing.

    Wherever Dickon would prefer to be—for surely only Sansa and her siblings are content here as the snows pile up around Winterfell—he believes they are all in peril. He believes Jon and he means to fight for the North, for Westeros, for all of them, even if the cause is futile. He is as courageous as he is respectful. Like a true knight.

    She notices that he is less sure of Daenerys. But then, she burnt his father, and while Jon tells Sansa that Lord Tarly was not a good man, Sansa knows the inner turmoil of watching a bad man die and wishing it didn’t have to be.

    She sees how he looks at the great scaled beasts, screaming in the snow, his back straight and body unflinching but eyes wide with terror. She knows the feeling. The dragons might be the key to victory, but Sansa fears them as others fear Ghost, when he stalks at Jon’s side.

    She notes the line of his jaw. The lines that form between his brows, when his mouth pulls down in concentration. How broad he is in his Southron armor. And she can almost hear the chatter of his teeth, when she approaches him in the yard.

    He lowers his training sword at the sound of his name. “Lord Tarly. You are cold.” She holds up the boiled leather vest, the one which when draped over his plate armor will provide some protection from the cold of the ever-increasing darkness. “It spoils the beauty of your fine breastplate, I suppose, but it will keep you warm.”

    Sheathing his sword, he ducks his head, mumbling something the wind whips away.


    “You must think me very arrogant, Lady Stark,” he says more distinctly. “To refuse your Northern armor.”

    “Are you? Arrogant?”

    “Once. Life has taken care of that.”

    She understands that too.

    He nods at the armor she grips tight “There wasn’t enough boiled leather to go around. I said I’d wait until more was made.” He almost smiles. “I have more meat on my bones than some.”

    “Careful, Lord Tarly: that smacks of arrogance. Especially when I can see you shiver,” she says, lifting the chest piece higher. “There are buckles,” she says with a glance at his heavy gloves. “You won’t be able to work them with those on.”

    He bites his lower lip, the one she observed was split red from the frigid air, as he tugs off first the left glove and then the next. Folding them together, he tucks them in his sword belt and reaches to take the boiled leather from her grasp. Their hands brush, hers cold, his rough but still warm from his gloves.

    She wonders how they would feel, curling over her hip, sliding up her side, cupping her cheek. She wonders how the blood on his lip would taste pressed to her tongue. If he would ask permission before he tilted her chin up to meet his kiss. Or be shocked by her allowing him to do so.

    They stand there, both holding the leather, as he stares at her with eyes she’s appraised to be as blue as the skies of summer, and she shivers too.

    Whether Dickon is as good at noticing things, Sansa couldn’t say, but his voice is as thick as his fingers would be trailing over her spine. “Thank you, Lady Sansa.”

    “I would rather you didn’t freeze just yet.” She pulls her cloak tighter. “Remember your gloves, when you’re finished.”

    Chapter Text

    Meera won’t sit, despite his offer. She stands before Bran’s chair, a scowl pulling down the corners of her mouth, no trace of friendship lighting her eyes. She’s ready to leave this room should what he say not please her. It is not what even he would call a warm reunion. Still, his heart beats faster in his chest at the sight of her, whether she feels the same or no.

    “Sansa said you wouldn’t want to come.”

    “I didn’t want to.”

    People’s inner thoughts are closed off to him. So, while he knew Sansa was wrong and he knows Meera has not smuggled a dagger in to slam into his chest, he can’t say why she answered the raven. Either she assumed it was a summons she couldn’t refuse or some part of her entertains the possibility of being glad of him too.

    He could ask which it is, but he doubts she’d tell it true.

    “Was I awful?”

    “Oh.” She purses her lips. “You don’t remember?”

    He remembers, but sometimes these different versions of himself—from the past, in the future—feel like players from a mummer’s farce.

    “You were awful and ungrateful and cold, and I was never so relieved to leave a place.”

    “I’m sure I was. Sansa says I was.”

    “She has the right of it again.”

    Her words are clipped and color rises high on her cheeks. There’s something she’s holding back. Perhaps this is why she ends this day in tears. He’s seen that vision with her cheek pressed to a wet pillow. More knowledge he wishes he didn’t possess.

    He wants to reassure her that if she would think to be his friend again, it would be different. Explaining what that means isn’t easy, and whatever he is now might not be enough. But, he brought her here for this reason. Selfish though it might be.

    “I’m more myself now. Since they’re all dead.”

    At least, Sansa and Arya tell him he is more Bran and less the three-eyed raven. Sansa even suggests from time to time that he take up the mantle of Lord of Winterfell, but some things are beyond him now.

    He doesn’t want Meera to be one of them.

    “There are a great many dead. Who do you mean?”

    “The White Walkers.” They still come to him from the past like ice spreading across a lake, but it’s not the same as before. They take up a smaller share of his consciousness. “You don’t know what it was like, seeing everything at once: the beginning, the end, everything in between. I can control it better now. I’m more here than anywhere else.”

    “Jojen is still dead. And Hodor. Did you bring me all this way to tell me I don’t understand? That I already knew well enough.”

    Bran runs his hand over the fur draped over his legs. The sun has returned, but he’s cold no matter how the fireplaces roar. The long night stole the warmth from his bones forever.

    The fur moves with the path of his hand like a living thing, each hair striving to return to form. That’s how it is, when he forces his way into the past.

    “I think about going back and changing things. So they don’t. Die.”

    He hates the flat quality his voice has. He’s better at giving the appearance of normality, sounding normal, when he isn’t feeling quite so much as he does now, thinking of them.

    “Would you do it for me? Go back and save him?”

    He forces himself to look up from his lap and meet her glistening stare. “No, I’m sorry. Somehow things would only end up worse.”

    “I don’t see how.”

    “The world could lose you too.”

    Meera shakes her head and twists a quarter turn towards the western window, where the orange light of the dying day illuminates her slim silhouette. She glances down at her mud coated boots and squeezes her eyes shut. “You didn’t care before.”


    She turns on him and stalks close, then grabs the chair she refused and drags it over, feet screeching on stone. She collapses into it with a sigh. “When I left Winterfell, you didn’t care that they died. You didn’t care I was leaving. Didn’t even look me in the eye.”

    “I wasn’t Bran.”

    She leans forward, bracing herself on her knees. Her eyes skim over him. “Who are you now?”

    “I’m not sure. But I still love you, I think.” Her brows furrow, and Bran realizes this is a revelation to her if not him. “I never told you.”

    “No.” Her voice has grown so quiet that Bran is tempted to lean forward too to better make out the rest. “I’m not sure I want to hear it.”

    Her words keep him in place. “I won’t mention it again if you prefer.”

    “Not yet. We’ve a ways to go before that.”

    An ember kindles in his stomach, a tease of warmth. “You’ll stay?”

    Her lips press together in some semblance of a sad smile. He knows that looks He’s seen it on his sisters.

    “Aye, I’ll stay. No use in going home tonight.”