Disclaimer: I own nothing from A Song of Ice and Fire. This is strictly based on the books and starts off right from the end of A Dance with Dragons and Jon Snow’s death at the hands of the Night’s Watch. It’s entirely from Sansa’s perspective and shows my view of how Jon and Sansa will be re-united. Enjoy!
stone and snow
by Ralph E. Silvering
Alayne Stone was called from sleep rather abruptly one night and ushered into her father’s study. The hour was late and the nights had grown bitterly cold. Even at the Gates of the Moon, the castle House Arryn used as its winter seat, the wind howled and moaned down from the north and the Mountains of the Moon. The past week had been especially cold, with snow falling throughout the night hours and the sun sending rays too weak to even melt the ice come day
Lady Myranda Royce, daughter of the Keeper of the Gates of the Moon, Lord Nestor Royce, said that winter had descended so abruptly that she had never seen the like. “There might even be snow in the Riverlands soon,” she had mused only the day before, as they sat together over their mending. “And them with the war still not ended and their fields all destroyed and smallfolk slaughtered.” She shook her head in a disapproving manner. “The best thing Lady Lysa could have done was keep the Vale out of the war. A move your father has continued. The North has lost over half of its people they say, the Riverlands has been utterly decimated and the Crownlands are not much better, the Westerlands and the Reach are being raided by the iron born under their new king, Euron Crow’s Eye, and even Dorne and the Stormlands have been drawn into the fray.”
She shook her head again and placed another stitch. “But the Vale of Arryn is still whole and untouched. Our harvests have been brought in and our men are hale and hearty. We had some trouble from the Mountain Clans, but they were dealt with rather quickly, and many of them marched off with that Lannister dwarf.”
“Lord Tyrion,” Alayne asked quietly, keeping her eyes cast down demurely and her stitching uninterrupted.
“Yes,” said Lady Myranda, shooting Alayne a sharp look. “Did you know him?”
Sansa Stark had known him; she had even been married to him for a time, although her father told her that that marriage was void as it had never been consummated.
Alayne Stone, however, had never seen Lord Tyrion Lannister, the Imp of Casterly Rock and the kin and kingslayer. Her father told her that Queen Cersei had placed a bounty so large on the dwarf’s head, that men from all over Essos and Westeros were killing dwarfs and travelling long distances just to attempt to claim it.
Her father had shook his head over such folly and waste. “The bounty is too large. And then I heard that she killed several of the men who brought her the wrong head. Now she has even less chance of having him found and brought to her.” He had stroked his little, pointed beard then. “She is driving herself into ruin even more quickly than expected. We might have to move up our timetable a little, sweetling.”
It had been that night that her father told her of his plans to marry her to Ser Harry Hardyng, Lord Robert’s cousin, and the heir to the Vale should the little lord die. “Which would be such a shame,” her father said, “but he is weak and sickly, and all the Lords know it. Harry the Heir is bold and dashing and a man grown. And he is fertile besides, why he already has a bastard daughter and another one on the way. I have spoken with Lady Waynwood, Ser Harry’s guardian, and she has agreed to betroth you to him in return for my paying of her debts. House Waynwood is quite shockingly default on several loans to the Iron Bank.” Her father shook his head at such foolishness.
“At your betrothal to him, we will announce to the Lords of the Vale who you truly are. When you come before them, dressed in white and grey, with your long, auburn hair unbound, and a direwolf on your cloak, there won’t be a knight there who won’t pledge you his service. Together, we will win you your birthright back, my sweet.”
He had smiled and kissed her then, but the smile had not reached his eyes and Alayne had shivered.
And soon after, little Lord Robert Arryn had called a tourney at the Gates of the Moon in honor of his favorite hero, the Winged Knight. It had been Alayne’s suggestion. She had noticed that the little lord was always comforted by tales of his brave and fearless ancestor, Ser Artys Arryn, the Winged Knight.
It had captured her attention then, the idea of sworn, gallant knights in armor protecting the Lord of the Eyrie. “King Tommen has his Kingsguard,” she told him, “and they are sworn to him and him alone. Why should my lord not have his own, Winged Knights? Seven,” she had suggested, for seven was a good number, a holy number.
“I want eight,” the Lord of the Eyrie had argued. “I should have one more than King Tommen.” And Alayne had seen no harm in that.
“But there must be a tourney,” she had said, “to prove who the best is; the bravest and the strongest. Only the most skilled should protect little lord.”
His own Kingsguard, to keep him safe and make him brave, she thought.
Her father had been quite taken with the idea as well and had personally sent the invitation off to Ser Harrold Hardyng. “When he is made one of the Winged Knights, that is when we shall announce your betrothal,” he had told her.
“I do not wish to be Sansa Stark, father,” Alayne had told him then, fearing the look in his eyes. But his lips had thinned then and his grey green eyes were so cold, that Alayne had run to him and kissed him and promised to be anyone he wanted her to be.
Now Alayne followed one of the servants down the dark and draughty hallways towards her father’s study. The Gates of the Moon was a stout, rather low and fat, castle with a moat, a gatehouse and a yard. It boasted of square towers and a fearsome moat, and was actually larger than the Eyrie, which towered high above it. During the day, Alayne could see the Eyrie shining white and cold high above them. From the Eyrie itself, the Gates of the Moon looked smaller than a pebble.
Most of the windows were tightly shuttered, but Alayne could see the moon shining bright and full and reflecting off the deep, still waters of the moat. Along the ramparts of the castle, torches and huge braziers were placed and they blazed bright and full. Beyond the red glow of the fire, Alayne could see the dark shadows of the forest which encroached upon the Gates of the Moon, and even the steep, stone-carved steeps of the Giant’s Lance which led up from the valley floor.
The silent servant led her to the Falcon’s tower and her father’s rooms, and there left her. Alayne knocked gently on the door and waited for her father’s softly voice ‘come in.’
Although the hour was late and the castle long since abed, Lord Petyr Baelish was awake and busy. A fire roared in the grate, the windows were unlatched and cold, biting air blew in, swirling around the room. Alayne’s father was a small, neat man with a carefully trimmed mustache and goatee and the clean, neat robes of a scribe. He was an accountant of sorts, he had told her, in King’s Landing. His eyes were grey green and there was a shrewd and sometimes playful look in them. Alayne sometimes thought of her father as two separate people; one of them she called Petyr, and he was playful and kind and protective of her. The other was Littlefinger; a bitter, mocking, harsh man, and Alayne was oftentimes afraid of him.
As she entered the room and curtseyed to him, she looked up through her lashes to see which man would meet her today.
“Daughter,” he greeted her. “Come and give your father a kiss.” His voice was curiously expressionless. Alayne dutifully crossed the room and kissed her father on the cheek. He grimaced and looked annoyed and Alayne thought that tonight there was Littlefinger.
“Sit, child. There is something I have to tell you.”
Alayne sat and carefully arranged her skirts. She thought about her father’s voice, the very cautious way he spoke and the way he watched her like a hawk. He was expecting something from her, but she did not know what yet.”
“We may speak openly tonight, Sansa. No one will disturb us and no one will overhear; I have made certain of that.”
Alayne’s hands, hidden under the folds of her skirts, bunched the fabric unseen. She stilled her breathing and then gently placed her hands on top of her lap, taking care to show that her fingers were relaxed. “Yes, father,” she said calmly.
“Petyr,” he corrected, almost harshly.
“Yes, Petyr,” she said, without hesitation.
He steeped his fingers upon the desk and watched her face carefully. “Your half-brother, the bastard Jon Snow, has been murdered. By his own men.” Littlefinger gave a short chuckle. “He was obviously very careless or very stupid.”
Alayne stopped breathing. For one, never-ending moment, she heard the wind howling through mountains again, as it had the day she and Robert had crossed the bridge on their way down from the Eyrie. A Ghost wolf, she had thought then, big as mountains.
Had that been Jon’s wolf? Howling across the distance and screaming to her of his death.
Bastard brave, she told herself and met Littlefinger’s eyes. “He was a bastard,” she said. That was all she said.
Littlefinger laughed abruptly. “You truly are Cat’s daughter,” he said, marveling. “It was an insult, what your father did, bringing that boy home with him. He insulted the honor of his own wife, and she never forgave him, from what I heard.”
Alayne remembered Robb and Jon fighting in the yards, summer snow falling into auburn hair and dark brown. “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Robb shouted. “And I am Aemon the Dragonknight,” Jon shouted back. Arya had laughed and cheered them on until Septa Mordane chased her back to her studies, and Bran had gotten underfoot until Jon had laughed and scooped him up on his shoulders. Then Bran waved his little wooden sword at Robb and Robb pretended he had received a mortal blow.
“Bran is the Lord of Winterfell now, brother,” Jon had smiled.
No, Sansa thought, they are all dead now, and all that is left of Winterfell is stone and snow.
That night Alayne threw open her shutter in her small room and let the cold, clear air blow over her. Icy and clean it was and when the light of the moon shone upon her face, it sparkled off of icy tears. And in the morning Maester Coleman found her to be fevered and flush. “I caught a chill,” she explained to her father, and indeed within a few days she was well again.
The tourney held for the Bortherhood of Winged Knights was a glorious affair. Sixty-four knights travelled from all across the Vale to compete for glory and test their prowess in competitions of jousting, single combat, and the melee held on the last day.
Alayne and Myranda Royce personally met the delegation from the Waynwoods went it arrived the afternoon before. The sun was setting behind the Mountains of the Moon, sending out fiery red and orange rays streaking across a darkening purple sky. Alayne thought it was beautiful and dramatic and she almost smiled.
“There,” said Lady Myranda in relief. “That is the first time I have seen you smile in weeks! You have been so quiet and oblivious to your surroundings that I was sure you were sickening for something.”
Alayne looked at the older girl in alarm. “You did?” Had her father noticed?”
Myranda’s gaze was shrewd. “Or someone,” she said as House Waynwood and its household knights rode into the yard. At their head was a tall, strong, golden-haired youth who swung down from his horse and swept a flourishing bow to the two women. Alayne felt herself turn red and Myranda laughed merrily.
“Ser Harry,” she greeted the youth, holding out her hand for him to kiss. “My father, Lord Nestor Royce, welcomes you and Lady Waynwood to the Tourney for the Brotherhood of Winged Knights,” she said formally. Her large bosom was shone to advantage in a tight, fashionable violet dress and her brown hair was elegant swept up into a knot at the back of her head.
Ser Harrold Hardying, Sweetrobin’s Heir Presumptive, had merry blue eyes and a reckless grin. Alayna had heard him called the Falcon Knight, which was very appropriate for a son of House Arryn. Even if he was only related through the mother’s line.
Ser Harry’s eyes fell upon her and she swept a graceful curtsey. “Ser Harrold and Lady Waynwood,” she said, as the older woman dismounted and came to stand behind her ward. “On behalf of my father, the Lord Protector of the Vale, I bid you welcome to the Gates of the Moon.”
Lady Waynwood smiled at her kindly but Ser Harry laughed. “Littlefinger’s bastard daughter?” he hooted. “My you are a pretty little thing, and lusty too as all bastards no doubt are. I’ll spread your legs before the tourney has finished, sweetling.” He turned away from her as if she didn’t matter at all, even as Alayne felt herself go white and then red with shame.
Bastards were treacherous and wanton, she knew. Bastard-brave she told herself desperately.
“Harry,” Lady Waynwood snapped.
Alayne heard herself say, “Lady Myranda will show you to your rooms.” Then she turned and walked back to her rooms. She opened her window and watched the evening fade to night, listening to the raucous shouting and merry laughter and the music coming up from the Great Hall. There would be dancing later, she knew. She leaned out of the window and breathed deep of the cold, winter air. The wind was still tonight; there were no wolves howling down, ghostly or otherwise.
Ser Harry distinguished himself during the jousting competition and that evening, the second night of the tourney, she felt his eyes on her during the feast. Alayne knew she looked particularly fetching in a golden brown dress with blue stones woven into her dark, brown hair. She had been asked to dance three times already and each of her partners had complimented her on her beauty and her dancing skills.
Even her father had danced with her, whirling slowly and intimately around the room. Petyr had smiled then and Alayne had allowed herself to relax. “You look especially beautiful tonight, sweetling,” he told her and Alayne had thanked him prettily.
When Ser Harry approached her place on the dais, seated next to Lord Robert, he bowed gallantly over her hand. “I beg forgiveness for any offence I may have caused you, yesterday,” he offered. Alayne looked up into his bright, shining face and realized that even a year ago, she would have thought him handsome and fallen in love with him. He reminded her of Ser Waymar Royce, who had stopped at Winterfell on his way north to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch. He was sure of himself, she realized and calmly withdrew her hand.
“I’m sure a knight as noble as you are, my lord, would never intend to cause offense to a young woman of good repute,” she told him. It was true that for all she was a bastard, no one could accuse her of being less than virtuous in her conduct.
He looked uncomfortable.
“I’m sure it was all a misunderstanding,” she said, sweetly, and assented when he asked her to dance.
When he asked for her favor to wear in the single combat on the next day, Alayne regretfully told him that her favor had already been bestowed upon another. And, indeed, the next day the inverted colors of House Baelish were worn by Ser Lothor Brune. Alayne noticed with interest that Mya Stone came and stood with the commoners and cheered Ser Lothar on.
When Ser Harry won the single combat, he presented Alayne’s favor back to her from the vanquished Ser Lothor. “Thank you, my lord,” she told him, “but would you do me the great honor of wearing my favor on the morrow during the melee?” And he had assented.
The Falcon Knight was the undisputed champion of the tourney and was cheered by the assembled lords and smallfolk when he was presented with the victory garland by his cousin, Lord Robert. Ser Harry was made the Lord Commander of the Brotherhood of Winged Knights, and at the last day of feasting, a fortnight after the tourney’s conclusion, he announced his betrothal to Lord Petyr Baelish’s natural daughter, Lady Alayne Stone.
Lord Baelish had called her to his study that morning. He was surrounded by his own personal knights; Ser Lothor called Apple-Eater, Ser Shadrich the Mad Mouse, Ser Byron the Beautiful, Ser Morgarth the Merry, and Ser Targon the Halfwild.
“Daughter,” he greeted her as she entered the room and curtseyed to the knights. “There has been news from the North.” Lord Baelish looked uncertain for the briefest of moments.
“There are conflicting reports,” he said, at last. “The Bastard of Winterfell did not die at the hands of the Night’s Watch,” some had told me. “He was murdered and brought back to like by Stannis Baratheon’s Red Witch,” others have told me, and still others have told me that he jumped from his body and into his direwolf when he was stabbed, and that he jumped back in after the Red Priestess’ fires warmed his body back up.”
As soon as Petyr started speaking, Alayne had dropped her eyes to the floor. Her hands were damp and her heart was pounding. “That is strange and unusual, father,” she said carefully, when it looked like he was finished. “How does that affect us?”
She could feel his eyes upon her. “The one thing all the reports agree upon, is that Jon Snow has gathered an army, made up of wildlings and mountain clansmen and men from Stannis Baratheon’s former army. And he marches on Winterfell.”
Alayne’s throat was dry. “Stannis Baratheon has fallen?” Littlefinger had said that Stannis would take back Torrhen Square from the Ironborn, that his experience was no match for either of the Boltons, father or son.
Littlefinger frowned. “It seems so. It also seems that the girl, Arya Stark, has been wedded to Lord Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay. Jon Snow apparently sent men to rescue the girl, but they failed, and now the Boltons have declared war against the Night’s Watch.”
There was silence then, for a long moment, while the fire crackled and the wind howled and Alayne Stone thought furiously. But all she could remember was Arya’s face the last time she had seen her. She had thought Arya dead, long dead. But she wasn’t. Petyr had told her that Ramsay Snow was a monster, and Arya had been given to him as a prize.
How had they found her? How did they know it was her? Did Cersei Lannister have Arya the whole time and sold her to the Boltons? Why hadn’t the queen just killed Arya then, to make sure that only Sansa had claim to the North?
“Are we sure that the girl married to Ramsay Snow is really Arya Stark?” she asked at last, her voice a dry croak.
And Littlefinger smiled at her. “That’s my clever daughter. As clever as she is beautiful,” he boasted to his assembled knights. He looked at Alayne. “What matters is that the North believe she is Arya Stark,” he told her. “Now is the time. We will let this bastard take the brunt of the Boltons and their allies. And then we will sweep in and claim victory at Winterfell.”
Alayne stood before the assembled Lords of the Vale, clad in white and grey, with the dye washed out of her auburn hair and a direwolf embroidered across her chest. Ser Harrold Hardyng held her hand tightly in his as the lords cheered and pledged their swords.
Alayne told her father that she was still ‘Alayne Stone,’ until Winterfell was taken and every night as the knights of the Vale rode west towards the Neck, she dreamed of a small, sweetly-singing, bird in a golden cage. She died her hair brown again, and she rode sedately by Lord Baelish’s side in muted browns and greys, like a bastard daughter should.
Silently, she watched her father speak with Lord Howland Reed, and answered the crannogman when he spoke with her privately. “It is my wish that you let the Knights of the Vale pass,” she told him, as Petyr had told her to say. Lord Howland looked at her sadly but he and his men stood aside.
Alayne could see the crows circling high overhead long before the forests gave way to rolling hills and Winterfell loomed into sight. Ser Harry rode beside her in the right, and her father on her left. The sky was overcast and grey but no snow fell. Snow covered the mountains to the north and a light dusting coated the hard, packed earth, and the air was sharp and bitter and frigid. It was colder than Alayne could ever remember it being, and there was a stillness to the air, a quiet feel that only ever really happened in winter. Her hands tightened on her reins. She wanted to gallop forward as fast as she could, cheeks reddening and her hair flying behind her.
The outriders came cantering back. “The Bolton army has not bothered to set sentries,” one of them told Lord Baelish as he reined up in a shower of cold snow and mud. “But this Jon Snow has.”
Alayne watched Littlefinger’s lips tighten. “Battle has been engaged, surely,” he said.
“Yes, my lord, and so Lord Snow is unavailable.” The man hesitated. “I saw him, in the heart of the fighting, my lord, and a great, white wolf fighting alongside him. The Northmen scream for him and chant ‘The White Wolf,’ as they throw themselves after him.”
They call your brother, The Young Wolf, Lord Tyrion had told her once, about Robb.
A second sentry pulled up and began speaking to her father. Alayne knew that Lord Baelish meant to delay their arrival at Winterfell as long as possible. “We are unused to fighting in the cold,” he told her, and “We must allow the archers to deplete as many arrows as possible in order for our mounted cavalry to be most effective.”
Alayne knew that he hoped Jon Snow would be dead by then, and most of the northern army, on both sides, depleted. She turned to Ser Harry while her father conferred with the other sentry and then rode out towards the back of their line. He was frowning at the crest of the hill, which hid Winterfell from their sight.
“This bastard brother of yours seeks to take Winterfell before we even arrive.” She could see the rising fury and battlelust in him.
“My mother, Lady Catelyn, always feared that he would make that attempt,” she told him.
Ser Harry’s mount moved restlessly underneath him. “The longer we delay, the more likely we will have to starve this up-jumped bastard out of Winterfell itself!”
Alayne looked up at the crows. The wildlings called the Night’s Watch, ‘crows,’ she knew.
“Winterfell’s walls are thick and strong, and her greenhouses are fed by underwater springs,” she told Ser Harrold Hardyng of the Vale. “Jon Snow would be capable of withstanding a siege all winter, while the Knights of the Vale freeze before its walls.”
Ser Harry breathed out sharply through his nose, wheeled his horse around, and drew his greatsword. “Knights and brothers of the Vale,” he roared, drawing every eye. Her father was too far down the line to return in time, and none of the Valemen would listen to him while the splendid Falcon Knight reared on his horse before them.
“Battle has been joined! House Arryn has been close with House Stark for hundreds of years. Ned Stark was fostered beneath the walls of the Eyrie itself. Today, we honor that alliance. Today we take back the North in his daughter’s name!”
“The Falcon!” roared the Knights of the Vale as Ser Harry wheeled around again and charged. His knights charged with him.
Alayne reached the crest of the rise overlooking Winterfell just in time to see the Knights of the Vale attack the Boltons’ unprotected flank. The horns of the Vale sounded as they charged and the drums of the northmen pounded in response. She knew nothing of warfare, but she could easily tell that the Knights of the Vale decimated the Bolton infantry, with their huge, interlocking shields.
Alayne’s eyes widened when she saw the giants, and even Lord Baelish caught his breath at the sight of half a dozen of them storming the gates of Winterfell itself.
Alayne looked out over a field of the dead and dying, screaming men and horses, bleeding, broken and lost. Blood was every, mixed with mud and slush and snow. She saw men with their stomachs torn open, men with limbs chopped off, men with eyes gouged out and chunks of skin torn out of them. Men screamed for their mothers and their wives and their gods, prayed for mercy and for death. She thought that the two were interchangeable for them.
And then she saw him, riding out of the fray and towards the opened gates of Winterfell with Ghost at his heels – Jon Snow.
He was dressed all in black, a long, gleaming sword held in one hand, and his dark hair was long and blew in the wind. He disappeared through Winterfell’s gates, giants and wildlings and northmen following at his heels.
Alayne urged her horse down the rise. “Alayne!” her father shouted after her, but she did not stop and she heard him curse as he came after her.
As she reached Winterfell, she saw Lord Roose Bolton and a man who must have been his son, forced to their knees before Jon Snow. There was a girl with them too, but it was not Arya. Alayne knew this girl though, and with a start she recognized Jeyne Poole, her childhood friend. Littlefinger must have recognized her too, from the low oath he uttered by her side.
Alayne heard Jon’s quiet, cold voice but could not make out any words. She was still so far away. She moved closer until she reached the gates. Jon Snow, dressed all in black, with red blood upon his sword, turned towards her as Ghost howled. He was handsome, a black prince come down from the North to wreck vengeance against those who had murdered and destroyed his family. He was a big brother who had stormed the castle to rescue the little sister inside. He was a knight of the Wall who had ridden south to battle monsters.
Sansa did not even feel her feet hit the ground. Suddenly she was running, running as fast as she could, jumping over the dead and ignoring Littlefinger’s and Ser Harry’s shouts behind her. Her brown hair tumbled out of its neat braid and streamed behind her.
She saw fear and a terrible sort of hope cross Jon Snow’s face, and then he swung off his horse, his sword dropping into the mud. He took three long strides towards her and caught her tight in his arms as Sansa launched herself at him.
She realized that she was crying.
Jon Snow swung her around and he laughed. “Thank you,” he whispered, to whom she did not know. “Thank you.” And he pressed his cold lips against her temple.
Sansa tightened her arms around her brother. She felt Ghost nudging at her leg. “Little sister,” Jon called her and Sansa’s breathing evened. She closed her eyes and felt his heart pounding against her own.
She heard the murmurs of the Northmen, the neighing of the horses, the horns of the Knights of the Vale still sounding on the plain before Winterfell. She heard the soft whisper of new snow falling down around her and Jon, felt the ancient stones of Winterfell singing around them both.
Stone and snow, she thought and she smiled. Just like her and Jon.
Sansa Stark was finally home.
What did you think? I might add some more if the muse strikes me. Flesh out the battle before Winterfell a bit more. This scene, Jon and Sansa’s reunion, is what I am most looking forward to in The Winds of Winter. I am firmly convinced that the two of them will take back Winterfell, just like they did in the show, even if the manner of how they do it is different.