King’s Landing 2015
By her end of her first year of teaching, Sansa had little hope for Parent/Teacher Night. The parents who did show up did not want to have an earnest conversation about their children; they wanted praise about what a prodigy and marvel their child is. A certain amount of that would be understandable, but she soon learned that anything less could get you fired for the Queen Mariah Primary School was a private school that lived off the funds of the exorbitantly wealthy of King’s Landing. The wealthy, it seemed, wanted praise for their children and an education with as little effort on their part as possible. The closest to concerned parents were the nannies who came the first night instead of parents. There had been one friend of the family who came with a list of well thought out questions. The lady, who said she was like an aunt to little Shireen, explained that the father was out of town on business and extended his apologies for missing such an important event. She also took notes on a tablet of all the answers Sansa gave her. Of course, this came from one student for whom she genuinely had nothing but praise.
This Parent/Teacher night was intended to give parents an idea whether their child is academically and emotionally ready to move on to the next grade come fall and what the parents might want to work with them on during the summer months. Her co-worker and friend, Jeyne Poole, who had been teaching for the past two years, reported that no one showed the previous year for her class. It was a foregone conclusion that everyone in the first two years whose tuitions were properly paid was moving on. Sansa was fortunate that she had no real problem children in her class at this age who she truly felt should be held back.
Forty-five minutes into the two-hour window, a man in a meticulously tailored black silk suit cautiously walked in the door and looked around. There was something familiar about him, although she could not name him or place where she might have seen him. It had to be that he resembled one of the children in her class. The man was not smiling or even wearing a neutral face; it was more of a scowl while not a fierce one . . . at least not at the moment. His eyes were narrowed as he looked around the classroom yet she could still see his eyes were a darker blue than her own blue eyes. The man had dark hair that was receding at the forehead, with longer hairs in the middle combed forward in a triangle. She would have guessed he was in his early forties.
“Please come in. I’m Ms. Stark.” Sansa invited. “If this is not your child’s class, I have a roster and can help you find the proper classroom.”
The man raised his eyes to her in a piercing gaze that she imagined worked for him in the office to intimidate subordinates or even gain an advantage in a negotiation. “Where are the other parents?” he asked, his voice a bit graveled.
“That is a very good question.” She realized she should not have said it the moment it was out.
Sansa couldn’t shake the fact that there was something about him that was familiar. “May I ask your name?”
He came closer into the room. “Stannis Baratheon.”
“Ahh! Shireen’s father! Please, do come in.” Based on what she had been thinking about his earlier interest at the beginning of the year, despite sending someone else, she realized she should not be surprised by his arrival. Sansa walked toward him and extended her hand. It was a firm handshake that sent an unexplainable jolt through her. “Shireen is truly a pleasure to have in class. She is bright and, most of all, she is eager. I have to work at not holding her back.”
This received a raised eyebrow, “What do you mean by holding her back?”
“Five year olds are normally learning to read and write in this class, and Shireen is reading books that are usually forced on children three years older than she is. I understand from her that you taught her to read.”
A curt nod was her reply. “So her overall progress is . . . would you say average or above average?”
“Well above average,” Sansa assured him. “She is a little reticent in some areas, but it is her natural shyness.”
Mr. Baratheon, once again, surveyed his surroundings. “In what areas is she reticent?”
This was not a man with whom you could be less than honest. “Other girls tried teasing her at the beginning of the year, mostly to find out if they had an easy mark due to her shyness.” Sansa did hold back what she had overheard and had to find ways to deal with. The poor girl heard remarks about her large ears and the discoloration of her face where she had had plastic surgery to remove greyscale scars. Neither could she tell him that privileged children seemed to be the worst at this sort of thing. “I have a no bullying policy in class and only heard about these incidents as happening after school. Once I did hear of it, I paid closer attention and learned that Shireen stood up to them and was backed by one of her closest friends, Edric Storm. Since she was not an easy mark, they stopped. However, it has made her avoid other girls in the class in general.”
He did not seem surprised by this, nor did he chastise her for not being more involved. Sansa had chastised herself for not knowing of it sooner, even if it was after class. She was prepared to tell him all effort she went to in order to try to dissuade the children in her class from bullying each other, but he did not ask. “Shireen gets being solitary from me; however, she is far more agreeable and to those she is close to, she is extremely loyal.”
Sansa found it an odd way to describe a child, although she imagined the man before her did not speak in personal terms often. She did know that Shireen’s mother was no longer living and there was no stepmother.
While pondering this, a vague picture began to form that seemed to include the man before her, but at Winterfell. “I’m sorry, Mr. Baratheon, but have we met before? Were you ever up North at Winterfell?”
Mr. Baratheon took in a breath and let it out. “Your father and my brother were close friends once. I was a guest with him at Winterfell when you were a child.”
Memories came rushing back. This man’s brother was Robert Baratheon. He and father had been friends from their days in prep school through college. Robert had been engaged to her Aunt Lyanna and friendships ended over Aunt Lyanna running away with a then married Rhaegar Targaryen. The visit had been Robert visiting Lyanna and the younger brother was not happy about being there as she remembered. He was in his early twenties and she was about six years old. He took long walks around Winterfell; Mother had said it was to escape having to be social with anyone. She had followed him one day and a storm blew in. Sansa remembered the storm more than anything because she had never seen one as fierce as that one before in Winterfell and few of its intensity later. Sansa remembered watching him go into an old storage shed when the storm hit and she had had to go bang on the door for him to let her in once the rains started because it was too far to get back home. He hadn’t questioned why she had followed him or why she was there. He had merely taken the black jacket off that he wore and wrapped it around her. Sansa remembered the shed had not been the cleanest refuge, and normally she would have been leery of it, but at the time, it beat being out the in storm. A nearby loud clap of thunder frightened her to the point of tears coming to her eyes. The younger Stannis Baratheon sat on the floor of the shed, one leg outstretched and the other bent at the knee. He merely cocked his head to one side and she remembered easily taking it as an invitation to sit next to him. With the next clap of thunder that had sounded even louder, she leaned into his side. That was when he spoke. He assured her, in as few words as possible, that storms were frequent where he came from and this was nothing to fear. Sansa distinctly remembered how he had made her feel safe. She was sure all he did was sit there in silence and allow her to lean into him until it was over. With a slight blush, Sansa also remember how she had liked the smell of him. And when the storm was over, he walked back with her in to her home and retrieved his jacket when one of the servants took her to change her clothes. A few days later, he and his brother were gone.
Evidently, he saw the realization on her face. “Are you still afraid of storms?” The question could have been taken many different ways depending on the sound of the voice when asked or the facial expression that accompanied it. It could have been a flirty question or one reminding her that he still thought of her as a child despite her teaching his daughter. However, his gaze still the half scowl and there was no inflection in his voice to make it anything other than a question born of familiarity with a shared event.
Sansa smiled at him. “I haven’t been afraid of one since.”
Her smile wasn’t returned; she would not be surprised to learn that he didn’t smile at all. There was a brooding, smoldering quality about Stannis Baratheon that she hated to admit was of unusual appeal. He did, however, continue to observe her. “Are Ned and Catelyn well?”
“Very well, thank you. Father has retired and turned all of the business over to my brother, Robb.”
“Yes,” he replied, and she noted he did not ask to be remembered to them. “I have done business with your brother.”
Knowing from her refreshed memories of this man, more conversation along this line was not likely, she turned the subject back to Shireen. “Is there anything else you would like to ask me about Shireen’s progress in school? I can assure you she is more than ready to progress to the next grade. I would consider a suggestion that she advance to third, although I would worry about other children taking advantage of her smaller size. If her future teachers work with her to keep her engaged and learning ahead of the class she is in, this might be easier for her to do in a few years’ time.”
“I will take that under advisement. Would you suggest private tutoring in advance of such a transition?”
Sansa gave it the serious thought it deserved and he waited. “That would be an excellent idea as long as she is still allowed to be a little girl who has time at play rather than one who has to keep up with doing work for the grade she’s in and work with the tutors. I would not recommend all tutoring as I do think it’s important she continue to interact with other children.”
Mr. Baratheon seemed to take her observance in, but it made for an awkward silence after a minute. “I would be more than happy to show you some of her work.” Work for most five-year olds consisted of drawing, coloring, matching letters of the alphabet to pictures, number exercises, and finger-painting. What she cherished most was a Valentine’s Day card that sat in her desk, but she would be too embarrassed to show that too him. It was a paper folded in half with its crayon-drawn hearts on the page meant as a cover. Sansa knew the contents by heart: You have a pretty smile. You have pretty hair and eyes. You are mostly pretty because you are nice. Happy Valentine’s Day Shireen Baratheon.
“I review the items you send home in her backpack,” he broke into her thoughts and his scowl deepened. He must have realized her mind had wondered and took it as a lack of interest.
“I apologize, my thoughts did stray for a moment. I was remembering a card Shireen made for me. It was so very sweet.” She was sure she was visibly blushing now.
“The Valentine. She showed it to me before she gave it to you.” Sansa blushed even more when she realized he was looking at her hair, possibly in remembrance of the words in the card.
“Have you any recommendations or issues for me?” Stannis asked. It was odd how one remembrance made her mentally go from Mr. Baratheon to Stannis, especially when that memory was of a young man with a child. She didn’t feel like a child under the scrutiny of those dark blue eyes, yet she couldn’t be sure if it was because of how he was making her pulse quicken with that look or whether there was something to read in the way he was looking at her.
“Noting how very pleased I am that you came here tonight to even ask that question and beyond what we have discussed about how she might skip one grade in the future, my only recommendation is to continue to do as you have.”
With that, he seemed satisfied and nodded, “Then I will bid you good evening, Ms. Stark.”
“Good evening,” she had to stop herself from adding Stannis to that. What was wrong with her?
Sansa watched him begin his exit from the room and was already trying to think of a reason to request a parent / teacher conference when he turned back around in the doorway. “I have one more question and I would like your honest answer,” he announced, eyes meeting hers.
“It’s the only answer I try to give.”
His eyes left hers, looked at the ground, and then back up at hers. Finally, he spoke. “In two weeks when this school year is over . . . “ Stannis stopped there, his face reddening a bit while Sansa stopped herself from tugging at her bottom lip in anticipation. “I’m sorry. Have a good evening.” And with that, he was gone.
One nanny and one set of grandparents were the only others to show up by the end of the evening. Sansa went home and changed from her professional outfit of a white blouse and a navy blue pencil skirt with pearls and high heels to a pair of compression capris and a tee. It would be an hour earlier at Winterfell, so it wasn’t too late to video home. Her father answered the video call.
“Hello Kitten. How was Parent/Teacher night?”
“There was only one parent, although I supposed grandparents count. It was someone you know.”
Her father looked mildly interested, “The parents or the grandparents?”
“The parent. It was Stannis Baratheon.”
Now her father looked keenly interested as he leaned forward toward the laptop camera. Sansa hadn’t quite expected that, despite the fact that she realized as soon as she made the call that the purpose was to grill her father for information about him. “You met him once when you were a child. You probably don’t remember.”
“Actually, I do,” Sansa tried to sound blithe about it.
Papa shrugged and then ran a hand over his mouth before answering. “Stannis is hard to forget. He also forgets nothing so I’m sure he realized you were my daughter when he heard your name. Did he mention Robert?”
“I didn’t recognize him at first, although looking back at what I remember about him, I should have. He looks older, of course, and his forehead is a little more exposed than I remember.” The comb forward that was a little mussed and flared out at what used to be his hairline looked good on him. “When I asked him if we’d met before, he said you and his brother used to be friends and that he visited Winterfell, and then I knew he was Aunt Lyanna’s former fiance’s brother that visited with him once.” Sansa had no visual memory of Robert Baratheon; just a rather boisterous laugh. “That was all,” she added.
“So you teach his little girl. You didn’t tell me you had a Baratheon in your class,” her father remarked. There was no mistaking the sadness in his eyes.
“Shireen is my favorite actually, although I know I shouldn’t have a favorite. I’ve so long forgotten the association of Aunt Lyanna with the name Baratheon, I didn’t think to mention it. I’m sorry Papa.”
“No problem, Kitten.”
She knew she should change the subject, but she wanted to ask one more question before she stopped. “I know from records that Shireen’s mother passed away. What from and how long ago?”
Her father wasn’t one for gossip or telling people’s personal lives. Sansa was a bit shocked when she didn’t have to coax him to do more than tell her to mind her own business, and most particularly that he told more than she asked. “Robert forced Stannis into that marriage just to exercise power over him. Selyse was not exactly easy on the eyes and while that would not have been bad in and of itself if she were a nicer person, she was shrewish and a R’hllor fanatic. Her father let Robert and Stannis build one of their factories on his land, which allowed Baratheon Industries to undercut Lannister prices due to location, if one of them married his daughter. I can’t quite think Stannis was bullied into it totally by Robert when they could have sweetened the pot to make Florent agree to the deal. Stannis isn’t a Yes man, so I never fully understand why he went along with it. I do think he made one of the only bad business deals he’s ever made. Perhaps he felt sorry for her, thinking her as unloved as he is. The two apparently didn’t manage to love each other. They were famous for barely speaking to each other. She died in childbirth about three years ago, I think. She had several miscarriages.”
“Why do you say he was unloved?” Sansa asked a little too emphatically. It caught her father’s attention as he looked questioningly into the camera, so she attempted a feeble explanation of her reaction. “I hate to hear of anyone unloved. Are you saying his parents didn’t care for him either?”
Sansa had never seen her father so forthcoming. “Robert and Stannis were in the backseat of the car wreck that killed their parents. Robert was about twelve years old, so Stannis was six. Robert ignored Stannis and doted on the younger brother, Renly. Renly saw Robert as his benefactor and Stannis as his rival. Robert knows how to be cruel and Stannis, with is rather rigid personality, made for an easy mark.”
“He seems like a good father,” she spoke up, trying to mask the sadness of hearing about Stannis Baratheon’s life. She did mentally note that his marriage couldn’t have been too cold if there were several pregnancies involved.
Her mother appeared behind her father’s shoulder in camera view. “He would be. Stannis has a strong sense of duty, so I could see him taking parenting very seriously, especially with Selyse gone.”
“Selyse?” her mother inquired, sitting down next to Papa. “The only Selyse I know of was Selyse Baratheon?”
“Turns out Stannis’ daughter is in Sansa’s class this year,” her father remarked, looking sideways at her mother.
“Now there’s a cold fish; Stannis, I mean,” Mother observed.
“I quite liked him!” It was out before she realized she was saying it aloud.
“He was the only parent that showed up for Parent/Teacher night,” Ned offered his wife as an explanation for what they both seemed to think was an unusual phenomenon of someone finding Stannis likeable.
Her mother shrugged into the camera. “I could see him being a dutiful parent, but not a very affectionate one.”
Sansa wanted to remark that no one accused Ned Stark of being overly affectionate and yet his children adored him, but she held her tongue. Her mother began to ask her questions about the rest of the evening and what her plans were for the week. After another half hour, she signed off and prepared for bed. As she drifted off to sleep, she remembered the young man in the shed and compared him to the father that attended Parent/Teacher night. Most of all, she debated whether he had started to ask her if she would go out with him once the school year was over in two weeks. Had he asked, Sansa was afraid of how fast she would have said yes.
It was the dreams she had just before waking that Sansa remembered. Often, she knew she was dreaming and, if they were pleasant, she didn’t try to wake up. There were times when she could even control parts of the dream, or so she thought . . . that may have been her imagination. Sansa knew it was a dream when, at the age she is now, her white blouse and pencil skirt are soaked and sticking to her as she walks into the storage shed and finds the older version of Stannis Baratheon seated on the shed floor in a starched white shirt and silk black suit pants she had seen him in her classroom. Even though she knew she was dreaming, Sansa was surprised at how vivid the dream was, despite anachronisms like knowing she was supposed to be soaked from the rain and at Winterfell, but feeling no chill.
Instead of signaling for her to sit next to him, Dream Stannis stood. The scowl is there, but the eyes look at her like he’s a predator and she’s something to be devoured. He unbuttoned his shirt, one button after another, and then freed the shirt from the waistband, exposing a well-muscled chest with sparse dark hair along his pecs. Dream Stannis moved closer, stopping when he stood before her with only the barest of space separating them. Her dream self took a step back, but his arm shot out to take hold of her around the waist and pull her to him. The other hand came up to cradle her face. Dream Stannis stared down at her, slowly, so very slowly, lowering his face until his lips touched hers. Her senses were flooded with a smell from deep in her memory . . . lemon and a unique musk.
As she leaned into him, the kiss started out soft, his lips moving gently against her own until her lips parted to allow him entrance. The second their tongues met, it was as if someone flipped a switch and softness was replaced by flaming desire and raw hunger. Dream Stannis explored her mouth while she strained against him. Feeling his erection against her thigh, she shifted until she was able to grind against it and both seemed to swallow simultaneous moans.
Dream Sansa, with eyes closed, made a protesting sound when he pulled away from her and began opening unbuttoning her shirt. She opened her eyes and he held them as he unbuttoned each of the tiny buttons, and after he was done, slipping the blouse off her shoulders and down her arms until it pooled at her feet. Dream Sansa continued to watch his face as he cradled her lace covered breasts in his hands. Those same hands snaked around until they met at the clasp of her bra and deftly unfastened it, pulling it forward and off her shoulders until she was able to let the bra fall down her arms and join the blouse on the floor. She leaned back slightly as if to issue an invitation, and Dream Stannis took it, eagerly sucking and lathing one breast while a hand fondled the other. He continued this as his free hand moved behind her and pulled at the zipper of her pencil skirt. His hand then slipped underneath the satiny panties she wore to caress her backside and urge it back to where the front of her could grind against him again. Dream or not, Sansa deliciously felt that grind to her very core.
Somehow, in the dream, she was now laying in what was meant to be the floor of the shed, but it was soft and warm, not a hardwood shed floor or the cold ground around Winterfell. It was no longer daylight darkened by a storm, but the darkness of night with all the sounds of a violent thunderstorm with pouring rain around them and yet, there was a soft illumination in the shed. Dream Stannis loomed over her framed in this illumination. She could see his face and knew they were both undressed, but she couldn’t see him distinctly. His fingers began at her outer thigh as light fingertips traced along her side as he lower his head to kiss her again. The word devouring came to mind again. Dream Stannis left her mouth and began further exploration down her body, using both lips and tongue as she writhed underneath him. The moment his tongue touched her center, she arched straight up and nearly screamed in her pleasure.
Dream Stannis showed no mercy, nor was it wanted, in his quest to send her to the heavens. His fingers joined the act, probing inside her . . . pumping . . . spreading. Writhing no longer seemed like an accurate description of how the lower half of her body involuntarily moved to his ministrations, and while she knew if this weren’t a dream, she would try to be considerate and not buck so against his face, Dream Sansa had no such compunction. Release came with a scream and bucking strong enough to make him pull up and move back to fully looming over her again.
“Inside me now,” Dream Sansa begged and saw the hint of a satisfied smirk on Dream Stannis’ face as he moved to position himself between her thighs. The first thrust was slow and he made a grunting sound as he pushed himself into her.
Her body already highly sensitized reveled in the feel of him inside and her dream accommodated him thrusting faster just as Dream Sansa was about to verbalize the request. His mouth found hers again as she wrapped her legs around him and danced this dance with him, his throaty groans being met with her intense moans.
In a swift move that only a dream could orchestrate and make fluid, he sat up with her, his legs now wrapped around her as she became the one controlling their movement. Her breasts bounced against his chest as she moved forward and back, each move sent waves through her of ever increasing intensity. She tightened her walls around him in response to that passion nearing its peak and they both cried out in release.
Sansa awoke drenched in both sweat and the all-telling embarrassingly large amount of sticky fluid between her thighs. She had wet dreams before, but this could be classified as a flood. Peering at the clock, her alarm would go off in two minutes. It took her longer to get out of bed than it normally did.
For the next few days, Sansa tried to forget her dream and get over her desire to find some way to see, call, or contact Stannis Baratheon. Only the desire was made stronger every time she looked at Shireen in class and saw a miniature of his dark blue eyes. The countenance of the face they were in may be entirely different, but those eyes were very much the same.
She told herself that being with the real Stannis could not possibly be as erotic as that dream, and yet it didn’t matter. He was not in any way the type of man she’d been attracted to before, but she couldn’t shake the desire to explore why she couldn’t get him off her mind. Sansa also couldn’t shake the idea that he had been about to ask her out and thought better of it for any number of reasons . . .Shireen, their age difference, his brother’s reaction. Still, she wanted to let him know, somehow, if he did want to ask, she would accept.
Closing her eyes as she sat on the couch in her apartment, Sansa remembered him saying he looked at all the work Sansa placed in Shireen’s backpack. An idea began to form and she worked it through until the only thing that remained was to decide whether she would actually do it.
The piece of paper that said, “Ask” followed by her phone number sat on her desk as her students stood in line as they did every Friday so that she could put that week’s work in their backpack. From there, the students would go out into the hall and line up to await the school staffer who took them to the covered entrance where cars pulled up and the staffer would assure a properly approved person was there to take each child away from school. Sansa briefly wondered who picked up Shireen.
She was only two children away and Sansa had to make up her mind. She smiled at little Billy Foxglove as she pulled the zipper to close his backpack. It was now or never. Sansa made her decision and quickly shoved the piece of paper in the middle of the stack. “What are you doing this weekend, Shireen?” Sansa asked as he put the bundle of papers in to her backpack.
“I spend Saturdays with my Uncle Davos and Aunt Marya playing with the boys, but after he finishes work, Daddy takes me out for Dornish pizza.”
Sansa had no idea who her aunt and uncle were, possibly relatives of her late mother, but there was no mistaking that this little girl lived for that pizza date with her father. Sansa returned the little girl’s wide smile and closed the backpack. “Have a great time,” she said. It was done.
For the rest of the day, Sansa went back and forth about the insanity of what she’d done. She could always say it was a paper meant for someone else if he calls and doesn’t get the significance of its meaning, which would also mean he had no intention of asking her out just before he left the schoolroom that evening. Of course, he would probably know she was lying and she hated lying. Sansa ended that evening certain she had just made a complete fool of herself.
The next day, she tried to keep as busy as possible, doing all her laundry, cleaning her apartment, having lunch and going shopping with Jeyne. She began to think that Stannis Baratheon probably overstated his assertion that he looked at what was sent home in his daughter’s backpack and, at worst, Shireen may ask her about it. By dinner, Sansa was totally convinced nothing would happen and that was for the best. Well, she knew that last part was her lying to herself, but it beat lying to him if he did call and ask her what the piece of paper meant.
It was late evening when her mobile began to play the tune she designated for incoming calls. Caller ID showed a number she didn’t recognize rather than a name from her contacts. It was a King’s Landing number. Biting her lower lip, Sansa swiped the image of an old phone handset to answer the call. “Hello?” Her nervous voice came out as a husky whisper.
The person on the other end didn’t speak for a full second and then she heard him. “It’s Stannis Baratheon . . . I got your note.”