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The Greatest of Fools.

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Sansa loves her brothers almost as much as she hates Cersei.

Jaime is wonderful – he is kind and funny and always sneaks her and Tyrion out so they can ride their ponies and he can ride his horse.

Cersei is cruel. Cersei says horrible things about Tyrion, about how he killed their mama and how he is ugly and evil, and she calls Sansa names and makes fun of her for not having golden Lannister hair.

Mama listens when Sansa tells her that Cersei is bullying Tyrion, but Papa never looks at Tyrion the way he looks at Sansa and the twins and he always tells Sansa not to bother Mama.

Sansa loves Tyrion more than anyone in the whole world, though, and so she keeps telling Mama when Cersei is cruel and braves Papa's wrath for Tyrion's sake, because even though she loves her father and knows he would not strike her, he can be quite frightening when he is angry, and he does get so angry with Tyrion.

Later, much later, Sansa will look back on this time and smile. Things were so simple then, before she and Cersei became more alike than she ever thought they could, and Jaime and Tyrion proved to have similar weaknesses.

She is just thankful that she and Tyrion were never as great of fools as Cersei and Jaime, as arrogant and wilful and plain idiotic as their golden brother and sister.

It has been a near miss more than once, of course, but they are careful. Tyrion has Father's cunning and care, Sansa her mother's intelligence, and with that they manage not to ruin themselves as Cersei and Jaime have.

They ruin themselves in other ways, of course, but they are more private in their devastation than their golden fools of siblings.

Sansa is three when Jaime is knighted, four years younger than Tyrion and twelve years younger than the twins. Tyrion is already her favourite, but she loves Jaime almost as much and is so excited at the news that he is coming home to the Rock for a visit that she makes herself sick and Mama nearly refuses to let her stand out to greet him.

She tries her best to behave – her hair, the same Tully red as Mama's even though she has Lannister eyes, is brushed and shining down her back, her gown a soft golden-yellow because Lannister crimson clashes so horribly with her hair, and she holds tight to Mama's hand as Jaime rides through the gates with Lord Crakehall and his friends – but as soon as Jaime jumps down from his saddle she runs as fast as her legs can carry her and throws herself into his waiting arms.

Jaime laughs and runs to meet her, scooping her up and spinning her around before hugging her close, laughing more as she kisses his cheeks and his nose and babbles frantically that she loves him, that she missed him, that he is very big now, and he balances her easily on his hip as he moves to greet Mama and Papa and Cersei and Tyrion, even managing to bow without releasing her.

"Father, my lady," he says, rubbing Sansa's back to sooth her as she gasps between words, desperate to say all the right things to make him stay because Cersei is so much nicer when he is at home. "You are well?"

"Excellent, Jaime," Mama says (Sansa, at three, has never been allowed to forget that Mama is only Papa's second wife, that Sansa is not the twins and Tyrion's full sister – Cersei has made certain of that), taking Sansa and pressing a kiss to Jaime's cheek in greeting. "And you? You certainly look well."

"Are you truly a knight now, Jaime?" Tyrion pipes up, ignoring Papa's frown and Cersei's glare to smile up at their brother. "Truly?"

Jaime grins in delight before crouching down in front of Tyrion and whispering something in his ear, something that makes Tyrion's whole face light up with glee as he nods.

Sansa loves her brothers so much she feels she might burst with it, even at three, and she weeps horribly when Jaime is called to King Aerys' Kingsguard because that means he cannot come home. She weeps harder when she learns that Papa and Cersei will be coming home from court for good, because she hates Cersei almost as much as Tyrion does, even though Mama says it is wrong to hate her sister.

(Later, Mama will agree that she was right all along to hate Cersei.)

Cersei talks constantly about how unfair it is that Prince Rhaegar married the Dornish princess, and then how cruel it is of the gods to have made him fall for the charms of the Stark girl.

Sansa asks Tyrion what the gods have to do with love and why it bothers Cersei so much that the prince loves someone else, and Tyrion tells her that Cersei had hoped to marry the prince and one day become queen, and that she thinks it unfair that she was not the one to entice Prince Rhaegar away from his wife.

Sansa asks Mama if that's not very silly, and Mama laughs tiredly (Mama always seems tired of late, tired and worried since word came that her father is riding to war against the King with Lord Baratheon and Lord Stark and Lord Arryn). Sansa is four now, near five, and try as she might she cannot quite understand why everyone is so frightened of the war.

When it is over, though, King Aerys and Queen Rhaella (Sansa met the Queen once and thought she seemed very sad – Tyrion agreed) and Prince Rhaegar and Princess Elia are all dead, Princess Rhaenys (Sansa met Princess Rhaenys many times and liked her very much, and weeps that she is dead) and even Prince Aegon as well. Later, many years later, Sansa will learn that her beloved Papa gave the orders to kill Elia Martell and her children, but for now Sansa mourns her friend and is very careful not to make any mention of anyone else while they are in the capital for Cersei's wedding to the new King, who is very big and very loud and smiles all of the time.

Cersei looks very beautiful on her wedding day, dancing with the King and his new Hand, Lord Jon Arryn, and with Jaime and Papa and Grandfather – Sansa's grandfather, not Cersei's, and Sansa is very possessive of Hoster Tully – and with all manner of men Sansa does not know. Sansa sits with Tyrion, legs swinging because the benches are high enough for adults, not children, and they eat lemon cakes and giggle with the King's youngest brother, Renly, and with Sansa's uncle Edmure who isn't actually very much older than her at all, only a few years older than Tyrion.

Mama comes and lifts Tyrion and dances with him, and Papa lifts Sansa into his arms as if she weighs nothing and spins her around the floor, smiling the way Papa does – his mouth never moves, but his eyes are brighter than normal for just a moment – and Sansa is sure that there has never been a happier day in all her life.

Cersei is in a snit the next morning, for some reason. Sansa asks Tyrion if it might be because the King snores, and he very seriously agrees that that must be it.

(Later, Sansa will understand things like unrequited love, and she will not know whether she wants to laugh at Cersei for expecting the man who went to war for Lyanna Stark to overcome his love for the Northern woman so quickly, or if she pities her sister for expecting it.)

When Sansa is eight and Tyrion twelve, a party from Highgarden comes to visit Casterly Rock. Mama dresses Sansa in her finest gown, deep green velvet the colour of her eyes trimmed with Lannister gold (or at least, that is what Mama tells Sansa – Sansa will not think strange of her being presented to the Tyrells in Tyrell colours for some days yet), braids and twists her hair up in the styles Cersei likes to wear now that she is Queen, and Tyrion tells her that she is the prettiest girl to have ever lived.

Sansa understands a great many more things now than she had at three, at four, and she knows that Tyrion is a dwarf – although she does not really see why Father hates that so much, especially when Tyrion is so very clever – and that Cersei does not love the King at all, and that Father is very angry about a great many things. Father is nearly always angry, Sansa thinks, and it makes her sad that she cannot make him happy.

Willas is the eldest of Lord Tyrell's sons, of an age with Tyrion but tall and broad, with curly brown hair and golden-brown eyes that seem too big in his strong-boned face. Sansa blushes when he kisses her hand and smiles at her, and he blushes as well when he tells her that she looks very lovely in green.

Tyrion sulks that night when he comes to Sansa's rooms after dinner, because Sansa was put sitting with Willas Tyrell instead of beside him as she usually is, but Sansa begs him to read to her and falls asleep leaning against him as she usually does, and he doesn't seem to mind too much the next day when she is not allowed to sit by him at dinner again.

The night before the Tyrells leave, Father stands up and announces that Sansa is to marry Lord Willas in the future, and Sansa is so shocked that she cannot even summon a smile, despite Mama's encouraging prompts from Father's side.

Tyrion, sitting to her left as Willas sits to her right, takes her hand under the table, and it is her sole comfort.

(Later, she will hate herself for her reliance on Tyrion and wish that she could have taken to Willas instantly, the way ladies take to their beloved on sight in songs.)

Later that year, they all travel to King's Landing once more because Cersei has finally birthed a babe.

Tyrion chatters the whole way about how fine it will be to be an uncle, and even Father seems in a good mood – Jaime is to come home to the Rock with them for a time when they return from the capital, and Father is never so near to happy as he is when Jaime is nearby. Mama sits and smiles and, when she thinks Sansa and Tyrion are asleep she has stern words with Father about not forgetting that he has two other children aside from Cersei and Jaime.

Tyrion holds tight to Sansa's hand when they overhear Mama and Father fighting like that, whispers tales of dragons and far-away places that they will see together when he comes of age and before she goes to Highgarden to marry, and Sansa sleeps easily and dreams of riding a dragon with Tyrion and looking down on the Free Cities and the Dothraki Sea and all the other places he tells her of.

(Later, she will remember thinking such things, and it will seem like the cruellest jape of all, really.)

Cersei does not let Sansa hold her son, much less Tyrion, and seems reluctant to let Mama touch him, but she all but throws the babe – Joffrey, the King booms, swinging Sansa up and kissing her cheek in greeting, patting Tyrion on the head and holding Mama too close for too long, Joffrey is the prince's name.

Sansa sneaks into the nursery with Renly, the King's brother who is so very nice, and they lean over the edge of Joffrey's cradle and look down at their new nephew together.

"He looks very like your sister," Renly complains, and it's true – Joffrey has golden Lannister curls, golden-pale Lannister skin and, when he opens them, brilliant green Lannister eyes.

"Mayhaps he takes his eyes from you," Sansa offers, because Renly's eyes are a lovely dark green, and Sansa thinks that Renly will grow to be quite as handsome as Jaime.

Renly shakes his head.

"My eyes are too dark, see?" he says, lifting Joffrey carefully and holding their faces close together. "And now," he adds, laying the babe back in the cradle, "we must run away before your sister comes else she will scream at us both!"

They giggle as they sprint away down the corridors of the Red Keep hand in hand, and Sansa wonders why it is she's never really had a friend aside from Tyrion.

(Later, she will realise that Tyrion never let her have any other friends, that he hoarded her company greedily for himself, but she will not be able to resent him for that.)

She spends almost the whole of the next day sitting on Jaime's knee or clinging to his back, staying as close to her brother as she can. Tyrion is with them too, toddling along at his own comfortable pace, because Jaime automatically shortens his long strides to account for the length of Tyrion's legs. It is a lovely day, and Jaime teases Sansa constantly about her betrothal to Willas Tyrell.

"If I must marry someone, I should like to marry Tyrion," she announces in a huff.

Tyrion laughs, says "Would that we were Targaryens, little sister," and laughs some more before passing her a plate of lemon cakes, but Jaime says nothing and laughs only a little.

(Later, she will look back on that moment and sigh, but for now she is eight and happy to be with her brothers, the two people she loves most in the whole world.)

Sansa is nine during Jaime's stay, which lasts two moons longer than the King initially wanted to allow but nobody says no to Father, and Tyrion turns three-and-ten.

Something terrible happens, she knows it does even though nobody will tell her what it is, because Tyrion goes missing for a time and when he comes back he is angry and his eyes are dark and he tells Sansa to leave him alone when she asks him to read to her.

She creeps into his chambers and finds him crying two nights after he comes home, and she curls herself around him – she is tall, like Mama and Cersei, and she is already nearly taller than him – and he does not push her away.

(Later, Tyrion will tell Sansa the truth of what happened while Jaime was visiting and while he disappeared, but not yet.)

Sansa and Tyrion go to King's Landing to stay at court when Tyrion is sixteen and Sansa twelve, at the King's request rather than Cersei's, and Sansa is delighted to find that even though Joffrey is Cersei through and through, Myrcella is very like Tyrion and Tommen is quite like Jaime, but not as fierce. They are only three and two, but Sansa spends hours every day with her little niece and her littler nephew because Cersei seems only to care about horrid little Joff.

Tyrion loves Myrcella and Tommen too, and so does Renly – Sansa wrote to him while she was at the Rock, and she considers him a friend now – and so the three of them often spend whole days in the nursery until Renly is knighted and the King sends him back to Storm's End to rule the Stormlands.

Sansa misses him only a little, because she has Tyrion and she has never really needed anyone else.

(Later, Sansa will wonder if she and Renly grew so close because everyone else would think that there was something wrong with them if they knew the truth of who Sansa loved and who Renly loved.)

Three days before her thirteenth nameday, Sansa wakes up with a horrible ache in her belly and her lower back, and when she throws back her covers she is horrified to find her nightgown and sheets are bloody.

She knows what moon blood is – Mama was careful to explain it to her – but the reality is much more frightening than the theory, and so she screams and screams and does not stop screaming until Cersei is summoned.

It is the only time Sansa can ever remember her sister being sisterly, being soft and tender and gentle, and she leans gratefully into Cersei's embrace and lets her sister stroke her hair and make soothing noises.

"We will not tell Father about this just yet," she whispers. "You are young yet to be married, little sister."

(Later, Sansa will wonder if Cersei thought herself too young to marry because she was married to Robert Baratheon, and she will feel sorry for her sister in that regard alone).

Eventually, they must tell Mama and Father that Sansa is a woman now, and so Sansa steels herself and writes the letter and sends it off to Casterly Rock with Tyrion when he goes home to visit.

He returns two moons later with a letter of congratulations from Mama, full of advice and gentle warnings and ways to help with the horrible, crippling cramps that leave her bedridden for anything up to a week every month, and a letter of instruction from Father – he has written to Lord Tyrell, it would seem, and she is to have new gowns made in anticipation of an invitation to stay at Highgarden in the near future.

She panics that night, away from Cersei and from Jaime, when it is just her and Tyrion in her rooms near Cersei's.

"I do not want to marry yet," she tells him, kneeling on the floor with her head in his lap while he sits in the big chair by her hearth. "I do not want to marry him, Tyrion – surely Papa will not make me?"

"Who do you wish to marry, Sansa?" Tyrion asks, at a loss as to how to comfort her. "Renly?"

"Renly is practically my brother," she says, shaking her head. "Or at least, I think of him as one. As I think of Jaime."

"Not as you think of me?"

And it makes sense, in a horrible sort of way, because Sansa has never thought of Jaime and Tyrion the same way and she wonders if there is something wrong in her for that.

"You are my best friend," she says miserably. "Would you marry me, Tyrion?"

She knows him so well that even the minute flash of longing in his mismatched eyes does not escape her, and she likes it as much as she is shocked by it.

But he is Tyrion, and there is something good in him, regardless of what Father thinks, and so he kisses her brow and sighs.

"In a heartbeat, were we Targaryens," he teases half-heartedly. "But we are Lannisters, and such things are not allowed, little sister."

(Later, Sansa will wonder if things might have been different were she as brave as Jaime, as fierce as Cersei, but she is not and she and Tyrion remain brother and sister, the closest of friends, and she convinces herself that it is enough. It never will be.)

The invitation to Highgarden comes, and Sansa almost cries with relief when she reads that it is extended to Tyrion as well as to herself – Lord Willas wrote himself, saying that he knows how close she is to Tyrion and would not wish to separate them.

Things have not been right between her and Tyrion since that night, but she hunts him down and demands that he allow her to apologise when Willas' letter comes.

He kisses her instead, and then looks horrified with himself until she leans in and kisses him as something more than his little sister, his favourite sister, for a second time.

Oddly enough, it is Mama's wrath she fears more than Father's when she lies sleeping in Tyrion's arms that night, his seed still sticky on her hand and her pleasure tacky on his fingers.

(Later, she wonders if mayhaps the Targaryens were not so mad as everyone whispers they were.)

Willas is charming and sweet and kind and so very, very handsome, and he does his best to ensure that his bad leg does not inconvenience them when they talk walks around Highgarden's stunningly beautiful, seemingly endless gardens. He forgets, she thinks, that she is used to walking at a slower pace to accommodate for Tyrion, but she says nothing and links her arm through his and allows him to court her as Mama told her he would, as Father told her to expect because she is a Lannister of Casterly Rock and the idea of him not wanting her, long-standing betrothal aside, is ludicrous.

He is charming and sweet and kind and so very, very handsome, but he is not Tyrion and Sansa hurts somewhere small and secret that she will never truly be able to love her husband as she should because so much of her heart belongs to Tyrion.

She whispers as much to Tyrion when they sit together in the solar that is his for the duration of his stay late one night when she cannot sleep – Tyrion does not sleep much, his legs pain him more than he would ever admit, he always japes that someone so little as him must not need much sleep – and he looks at her with such agony in his eyes before kissing her again, over and over and over and she thinks she might die with how good it all feels, but he sends her back to her rooms far too soon and she lies in bed, lonely and sad and aching for something she may never have.

(Later, that will be what she will hate Cersei for most: that Cersei had the courage to take what she wanted, to do what Sansa never would. It will be the only thing she will ever hate Tyrion for, that he was not so brave as Jaime).

She returns alone to Casterly Rock, Tyrion going to King's Landing because he simply cannot bear to be near her anymore. He leaves Highgarden before she does, and she wishes more than anything that she could make things right with him.

She has two weeks in Highgarden then, with kind Willas and funny Garlan and bothersome Loras and sweet, scheming Margaery, who Sansa thinks Father would approve of very much.

Sansa likes Margaery until she overhears her making some scathing comment about Tyrion to Loras, and she decides then and there that she will never like the girl who is to be her goodsister.

But without Tyrion there, it is almost easier to laugh at Willas' quiet, dry wit, to share his shy smiles, to become interested in his beautiful horses and hounds and his wicked hawks – Sansa has never been hawking before, and Willas insists that she come to visit again during game season to hawk with him, insists that she will love it, and she finds herself truly enthusiastic about spending time with him.

He says that she should bring Tyrion, because her brother and her betrothed got along better than she could have hoped, and her heart falls. She knows that Tyrion will never come to Highgarden unless he absolutely must ever again.

(Later, she is thankful for that, because it gives her some peace.)

Sansa marries Willas Tyrell a little over three moons after her sixteenth nameday. The two years between her first visit to Highgarden and her wedding are spent trying not to miss Tyrion, who spends his time in Casterly Rock when she is in King's Landing with Cersei and Jaime and her nephews and niece, and in King's Landing when she is at the Rock with Mama and Father.

Even without the strangeness between them, Sansa misses him because he is her best friend, for so long her only friend, and Renly and Jaime are her only comforts when she misses Tyrion by a single day during her last visit to King's Landing before the wedding.

"He will not speak to me," she sobs into Jaime's chest, clutching him tight and trying to stop the foolish tears. "He will not even write to me, Jaime, and I hate it!"

Jaime strokes her hair and rocks her as he did when she was small and Cersei had been cruel, and then he dips his head so his mouth is at her ear.

"He told me, little duck," he whispers, and the shock of that dries her tears instantly.

"I- I don't-"

"He is afraid, Sansa," Jaime tells her, taking her face in his hands and wiping away the tear-tracks on her cheeks with his thumbs. "Afraid of what he feels, afraid of what you feel – he only wants you to be happy. He thinks you could be very happy at Highgarden."

"But he is my Tyrion," she insists, and she wonders if that may be the problem. She cannot see how she is supposed to function properly without Tyrion, who has been at her side almost constantly for all of her life. "Jaime-"

"I understand, Sansa," he sighs, pulling her close again and pressing a kiss to her hair. "Trust me, little duck, I understand."

(Later, she will learn the truth of Jaime and Cersei's relationship, and she will think that yes, Jaime truly does understand – just as Cersei led her and Jaime's relationship, Tyrion guided his and Sansa's.)

The wedding is extravagant and exquisite and all sorts of things, and Sansa finds it almost easy to forget that Tyrion has barely spoken to her all day when Willas is so beautifully lovely and Jaime and even Father spin her around the floor until she is laughing and dizzy and everything is so wonderful.

Even the bedding is not so bad as Cersei told her it would be, as Mama warned her it might be, because Jaime scowls at drunken Garth Tyrell and frightens him and anyone else who might think to be too familiar with her away, much to Father's obvious approval, before throwing her over his shoulder with a bawdy jape and carrying her all the way up to the bridal chamber, depositing her inside with a kiss to her hair and a promise to kill Willas "if he hurts my little duck."

Jaime has always called her his little duck, and she kisses his cheek before he swishes out of the way to allow the women to push Willas in the door in just his smallclothes and a queer leather and steel brace around his bad knee.

It takes him a few moments to catch his balance and find his cane, but he is so obviously embarrassed by his disability that Sansa cannot find it in herself to be afraid of the pain that Cersei warned her will follow and instead kneels at his feet to help him remove the brace when he sits on the edge of the bed, turns her face up to his and kisses him first, pushes him back against the pillows and resolutely does not think of how different this experience might have been had Tyrion not said no to her.

(Later, after the truth of everything comes to light, she will almost be glad that Tyrion said no. Almost, but not quite.)

It is easy to fall in love with her husband, and she does her best to do just that – but then Tyrion finally writes back to her, and her whole body seems to light up with happiness just to see his writing on a page, and she knows that he still owns her completely and that she will never truly belong to Willas Tyrell, regardless of how much she wishes she could, because that would be so much easier.

It takes six moons to convince Tyrion to visit, six moons of being torn between wishing she could have married her brother and trying to find true happiness in her marriage (and Willas makes it so easy, tries so hard to please her and is so very good at it), but Tyrion does come to Highgarden and Sansa holds him close and whispers that he is never to leave her again, not ever.

He is careful not to be alone with her for the first two weeks of his stay, but when he discovers that she is with child (she hopes that this babe will be as lovely as Cersei's were, will grow to be as sweet as Myrcella and Tommen, but she prays that there will be nothing of Joffrey in it) he seems to breathe easier.

"You are happy here?" he asks her when they walk in the gardens, gesturing expansively to the beauty surrounding them.

"Very," she admits, feeling guilty for it, but adding "I have missed you most dreadfully, though."

He smiles at that, and all the awkwardness is forgotten as he teases her about how soon, she will waddle as badly as he does to accommodate for the babe.

(Later, she will be grateful for the return of their sibling relationship so that she can honestly deny the accusations leveled at them.)

Leyton is born while Tyrion is still at Highgarden, having extended his stay at Willas' invitation so he might see his nephew or niece.

Sansa watches her husband hold their son, the pair near identical save for the bright Lannister green of Leyton's eyes, and for the first time she is not saddened by how slim a chance there is that her children will be golden-haired like Cersei's, because Leyton is the most perfect thing she has ever seen.

Willas sits by her side on the bed, Leyton is his arms, and when he kisses her she will not for a moment regret that she is married to this sweet man.

(Later, when all is done and House Lannister broken, she will weep for him as she weeps for everyone else because he deserves so much more than she can give him.)

Sansa is near nineteen and not long after giving birth to her second child, a girl she and Willas agree to call Minisa for her grandmother as they named Leyton for Willas' grandfather, when Jon Arryn dies.

Cersei writes and begs her to come to Winterfell, pleading that she will need something approaching decent company if she is to venture into the wilderness that is the North, and it is not until she says that Tyrion is going to be a member of the party, that Jaime will be going as Kingsguard, that she begins to consider it. She has not had time with both of her brothers together in so long, since just after Leyton was born, and she misses them both so…

But in the end she does not go, hears of Bran Stark's fall only when Jaime writes to her on their return to court to tell her of Tyrion's decision to visit the Wall, of proud Ned Stark and his beautiful Dornish wife, the Lady Ashara, of the girl who is to marry Joff, a child still but with her mother's beauty.

Sansa pities little Elia Stark, because she detests her nephew.

(Later, Sansa will regret not speaking out against the match, but by then it will be too late.)

The King dies and Joffrey assumes the throne, and suddenly Stannis Baratheon is writing to every keep in the realm to denounce Cersei and Jaime as monsters, to declare Joff and Myrcella and sweet little Tommen as bastards, and when the letter arrives at Highgarden Sansa is sick.

She cannot say if it is horror or jealousy that turns her stomach, though, because she is torn between the two. Willas, innocent dear that he is, assigns it to her mother's stomach, and she lets him believe that. To tell him otherwise would break his heart, and he is too good to deserve her cruelty.

(Later, she will be glad that Tyrion was not so brave as Jaime, and that will confuse her more than anything else in the world.)

Renly declares himself king although he has no right to the throne, regardless of Joff's illegitimacy, and Sansa is not long in telling him so. Olenna supports her, stands with her when she marches right into Renly's tent with her belly curving her spine and tells him to his face that he is a fool, that he should be supporting Stannis if he insists on playing traitor to the rightful king.

His face softens when he sees how genuine her distress is, and he banishes everyone, even Loras, and bids her to sit in his chair so he may crouch before her and hold her hands.

"Have you ever seen any of my brother's bastards, Sansa?" he asks, eyes pleading. "Dark of hair and blue of eye to a one, and even those without the blue eyes have the Baratheon face – your nephews and niece, the children, they're not Baratheons, Sansa."

"But Cersei wouldn't," she insists, hoping against hope that Cersei wouldn't be foolish enough, arrogant enough for this.

"She admitted to Ned Stark that she did," Renly tells her gently.

It makes sense now, she supposes, that Jaime understood what her and Tyrion were going through, and it is that as much as Renly's gentleness that makes her break down and sob.

Renly dies, whether at Brienne of Tarth's hand or that of a shadow - it matters not, and Sansa is so distraught that even Willas' comfort cannot ease her pain. Renly was her only friend aside from her brothers for so long, and now he is lost to her because of his own foolishness, because of Cersei's pig-headed arrogance, and it makes so much sense to hate her sister and blame Cersei for all of this.

But a letter arrives from Father only days after Renly's death, so rapidly Sansa can hardly believe that word might have reached the Rock already, ordering that she demand Willas convince his father to throw the support of the Reach behind Joff's cause against Stannis.

Sansa passes the letter to Willas over dinner that night and he sighs, resting his head in his hands and shutting his eyes tight.

"Father already intends on doing so, my love," he tells her when at last he lifts his head. His eyes flicker from her belly to the door of the nursery – neither of them like being away from the children, so they moved rooms to accommodate both Leyton and Minisa – and he sighs again. "I know that they are your brother and sister, Sansa, but if what Stannis Baratheon is saying of them is true, if Joffrey truly is your nephew twice over, we are doing wrong in supporting them. You know that as well as I do."

She nods miserably, stomach twisting again (Cersei carried three of Jaime's babes and I have carried none of Tyrion's because he would not allow himself to ruin me. How is that fair? How is that just? Why should Cersei get what she wants when she is so terrible?) and pushes aside her plate.

Mama comes to stay at Highgarden when the Riverlands are truly scourged.

"Your father swore to me that the Riverlands would be safe," she fumes, striding up and down the nursery with Minisa in her arms. Sansa's daughter has the Tully look, complete with the blue eyes Sansa herself lacks, but she has that same curly brown hair as Willas. "But because he cannot see wrong of Joanna's children-"

Sansa nudges Leyton into the next room, takes Minisa from Mama and passes her to her nurse, and then forces Mama to sit down long enough to take a breath.


"Your father has ordered my homeland to be pillaged, Sansa," Mama snaps. "Do not try to excuse him of this. You excuse him of almost as much as you do Tyrion, but I will not allow you to excuse him this."

"I was not going to excuse him of anything," Sansa snaps in return. "I was going to ask if there was any way to convince him to clear the Riverlands and to offer gold to Grandfather in reparation, or to find some match for Uncle Edmure that might bind House Tully closer to the crown. Surely he cannot mean to allow them to truly ally themselves with Lord Stannis?"

Mama shakes her head, hugging her arms around herself tight.

"Your father would as much part with Jaime as he would his gold," she sighs at last, leaning her head on Sansa's shoulder. "And who is there to marry to Edmure? Gerion's bastard, who is only a child? Cersei? I never thought he would break his word, but it seems there is little your father would not do to protect your brother and sister."

The North marches, old alliances with Tullys and Baratheons called up afresh in defence of the Riverlands and to aid Stannis' campaign, and Sansa wonders how Father can possibly keep up the charade of believing Cersei's lies.

Stannis attacks King's Landing while the Starks are busy helping clear the Riverlands, and Garlan leads the attack that shatters his forces.

Sansa, six moons gone with child, finds herself summoned to the capital to celebrate her nephew's victory, and even her insistence that she is not well enough, that she cannot be away from Willas and the children for long, is discounted because Lady Olenna wants to make a queen of Margaery, and she thinks Sansa's influence over Cersei will help in her quest.

So Sansa kisses Leyton and Minisa and last of all Willas goodbye, and it is only when she is on the roseroad heading north that anyone thinks to mention how grievously injured Tyrion was in the battle.

Suddenly, she cannot get to King's Landing quickly enough.

It is improper, she knows, but the first thing Sansa does after greeting her sister and her nephew is ask where Tyrion is.

Father, it seems, has removed Tyrion from the Tower of the Hand, and Sansa gives orders (You are a Lannister of Casterly Rock, she remembers Father saying, you need never request anything – your orders should always be followed) that he be brought to her rooms.

He is, and she weeps and clutches his hand and strokes his hair back from his poor ruined face with trembling fingers.

He breathes her name when he wakes fully, watching her with wondering eyes.

"Is it true?" she whispers. "Cersei and Jaime – is it true?"

He nods, and she knows that he would have shaken his head unless he knew it to be true, and she wails in maddened jealousy and buries her face in the crook of his neck.

Elia Stark is even more beautiful than Sansa expected, more beautiful than Ashara Dayne is in Sansa's dim memories, but she is battered and bruised so that her wonderful strength is hidden under manners and courtesies. Tyrion has a soft spot for the girl, Sansa can see that, and he tells her tales of Elia's treatment at Joffrey's hands that make Sansa's blood boil, that make her fear for her goodsister's safety.

Stannis is regrouping in the North, they say, the Starks and Tullys are fighting the Greyjoys along the western coast, and all seems to be at peace for now.

Then comes Joffrey's wedding.

As soon as it happens, Sansa knows that Olenna is behind it.

There can be none other guilty of it, although Sansa is relieved at least that Margaery's surprise and horror seem genuine.

Sansa is not horrified. She is relieved beyond measure that Joffrey's blight is gone from the world, surely a punishment from the gods for Cersei and Jaime lying together (a punishment Sansa wishes she and Tyrion had been brave enough to risk), especially after the mummer's farce he forced Tyrion into during the feast.

But then Cersei is screaming at Tyrion, screaming that he is to blame, that he murdered Joff, and Sansa rises as quickly as she can with her belly weighing her down so and slaps Cersei's hands away from Tyrion, stands between her beautiful, evil sister and her ugly, wonderful brother, and orders Cersei to stop her madness.

To everyone's surprise, Cersei stops, turning instead to cradle Joff's body and sob over her son.

Father though, Father seems to have agreed with her, and he takes Sansa firmly by the arm and gives order for Tyrion to be taken away.

Sansa screams protests of his innocence, but Father all but throws her at Garlan and orders him to keep her in her rooms. Her goodbrother is forced to carry her up the stairs, and she kicks and screams all the way.

Her behaviour, she learns, was assigned to mother's temper and the sight of her nephew dying so horribly, but it was nothing of the sort. It was knowing the Tyrion will be killed if they can find a way to prove him guilty, and Sansa has no doubt that they will.

Elia Stark disappears from King's Landing in the aftermath of Joffrey's death, and Cersei rages and screams and blames the poor girl for Joff's murder.

Sansa slaps her sister before court and is carried away once more, despite her most vehement protests.

Father sends her a note ordering her to stay abed until she overcomes her temper, and it is only after she negotiates the right to visit Tyrion that she agrees not to come to court.

Prince Oberyn is leaving Tyrion's cell when Sansa arrives.

She knows the prince quite well thanks to his friendship with Willas, and he stops to offer her congratulations on her pregnancy, condolences on her nephew's death (although she knows that she is the only Lannister Oberyn Martell would ever be likely to mourn, and only because of the pain her death would cause Willas) and to ask if she truly believes Tyrion to be innocent.

"Without a doubt," she replies instantly, and there is something she mislikes in Oberyn's eyes when he bows and takes his leave.

"Be gone, Sansa," Tyrion snaps, curled up in the far corner of his cell with his back to her. "I do not wish to see you."


"If Cersei knows that you have visited me, she will name you my accomplice," he snaps. "Leave. Now."

She leaves, but she weeps as she goes.

The night before Tyrion's trial, Sansa does not sleep. The babe in her belly tumbles restlessly, as if sensing her distress, and when morning comes and Cersei arrives in Sansa's rooms to help her dress, to hurry her along, it is all Sansa can do not to lash out at her sister and demand that she be left alone.

She is fond of Oberyn, has seen him fight, knows his strength. But she has been terrified of Gregor Clegane her whole life, and she cannot see how Oberyn might topple the Mountain.

He does, but he dies too, and so Cersei screeches in delight and calls for Tyrion's head.

Sansa turns away in disgust, in horror, in agony at the thought of Tyrion, her Tyrion, losing his life, and the Spider catches her eye.

Sansa has always hated spiders, but she can see the use of this one, she supposes.

Tyrion looks up at her when he emerges from his cell, and there is such anger in his eyes that she steps back from him.

"You sat with Cersei," he accuses. "Clearly you despise her-"

"She did not give me a choice!"

"Go back to your cripple, Sansa," he spits. "A craven like you deserves him."

She slaps him so hard that he falls, but he is on his feet in a moment and they are shouting at one another, cruel accusations that they would usually reserve for Cersei and Father and, when he was being a particular arse, Jaime.


"Do you remember when I disappeared, Sansa? After Joff was born? Do you want to know where I went?"

"What has this to do with anything-"

"I married a girl then," he tells her, fists tight at his sides. "You remind me of her. Do you know what that means, Sansa? Do you?!"

Her anger falters.

"No," she breathes, backing away from him. "No, you don't mean-"

"I never regarded you as anything more than a sister," he hisses, grabbing her by the hand and pulling her face down to his. "Never. You- reminded me- of her."

Sansa returns to Highgarden the same day Father's bones are sent west, unable to watch Cersei's descent into madness, unable to watch Uncle Kevan taking Father's place, unable to watch her family and her goodfamily fight over poor sweet Tommen, unable to stay in a place that has so many reminders of Tyrion.

She births Edmyn three weeks after her return, Edmyn with his short legs and his too-big head, and were it not for the thick crop of chestnut Tyrell curls the tumble over his forehead, she would think him her brother given to her anew.

She laughs hysterically when the midwives present him to her, and then she sobs into Willas' chest because now she will never, ever escape Tyrion, not when he is smiling up at her from her son's face.

Later he will come back.

Later he will be the Hand to the Queen who will destroy their family.

Later so much will happen that Sansa will hate him as once she hated Cersei.

(He will never tell her, but Tysha reminded him of Sansa, not the other way around.)