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10 November 2012 @ 10:44 pm
last of the ladies - (Jaime/Brienne, Game of Thrones)  
Title: last of the ladies
Characters/Pairings: Jaime/Brienne, Sansa/Sandor, Sansa/Petyr, Sansa/Myranda
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~10,700
Warnings: Some very mild sexual content.
Summary: "She was tired, so tired, of her feelings and thoughts being deemed irrelevant while the lords made their matches and won their thrones and castles." Alayne Stone makes some new friends at the Gates of the Moon.
Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me, and neither does the world they inhabit.
A/N: This is part of the Made of Steel series, but can be read as a stand-alone fic. And I still haven't read A Dance With Dragons yet, so my apologies if there are any inconsistencies.

Spoilers ahead for all of the books.

(also at AO3)




Alayne Stone was nervous and annoyed and nibbling on the last lemon cake left. She was nervous because the wedding to Harry the Heir was mere weeks away and she wasn't ready, she was annoyed because Harry had once again made several comments to her about how she should cut down on the sweets or she would get fat, and she was nibbling on the last lemon cake because... well, because she could and she wanted to. And it was to be the very last lemon cake for some time. Winter had come to the Gates of the Moon, and lemons were in short supply now. She didn't know when she would get another chance to have her favorite dessert... one of the few remnants of her old life left.

She'd hidden herself in the kitchens for the present. Down here, she didn't have to listen to ladies fussing about her, congratulating her, staring at her enviously, dubiously, asking if she was excited, giving her the side-eye and whispering “bastard” behind their hands. Their song will change at the wedding, once who I truly am is revealed, she would tell herself, but that didn't make it any easier. If anything, she dreaded it. The fake sweetness and niceties turning into just-as-fake declarations of loyalty and sisterhood.

The prospect of marrying Harry was daunting as well. He was certainly a good-looking man, but not especially kind, although he did not appear to have Joffrey's cruelty. Many times he had attempted to bed her before the wedding, with charming words and sultry looks, and she could see how he had fathered two bastards already. Harry was silk and velvet and an underlying layer of something else that she couldn't name, but made her ill at ease.

Alayne had tried voicing her concerns to her father, who had waved them away carelessly. “You'll come to like him enough, in time,” he'd said. “And nothing in this world is permanent, my sweet.” She didn't know what to take from that, but she was tired, so tired, of her feelings and thoughts being deemed irrelevant while the lords made their matches and won their thrones and castles.

If only there was another way for me to go home, she thought, but what choice did she have? She had no other ideas – none, at least, that would give her as much power as Petyr was offering her.

“My lady?”

She was startled out of her reverie by the ugliest woman she had ever seen in her entire life. Her jaw, hips, and shoulders were broad and masculine, her lips wide and swollen, and a mass of freckles covered her face, which had a large bandage covering one cheek. The woman's nose clearly had been broken numerous times, and her teeth were crooked and sticking out at odd angles. She couldn't help but pull away slightly in revulsion. Gods, what a grotesque creature. How hard her life must be. “Yes, what do you want?”

The kitchen wench was impossibly tall and large in addition to being ugly, and stood over Alayne like a mountain, although she strangely did not feel threatened by her imposing presence. She was staring down at the top of Alayne's head, which she began to touch self-consciously. “What?” she asked again, annoyed.

“N-nothing, I just – do you favor lemon cakes, my lady?”

“Um... yes, I enjoy them, I suppose,” Alayne said carefully.

The kitchen wench glanced around, then knelt to Alayne's level where she sat on the barrel. “If you like, I could make you more lemon cakes,” she whispered. “Whenever you want them.”

“But how? There aren't any lemons.”

“I bought an extra bag before the snows came,” the kitchen wench said. She was so unpleasantly featured that Alayne could hardly bear to look at her, so she stared at her feet instead of her face. But even her feet were freakish.

“Why would you do that for me?” she asked.

A pause. “No sense letting them go to waste.”

Alayne suddenly felt guilty, and made herself look at the ugly woman's face. She was surprised by how pretty her eyes were – big, with long lashes, and an incredible shade of cobalt blue that you could almost swim in.

“I thank you,” she said. “You're very kind to do that for a stranger. Those lemons must have been very expensive.”

She shrugged, and a red blush crept up her neck. She's hiding something, Alayne thought, but for some reason didn't feel too troubled by it. “What's your name?”

“Daema, my lady. Shall I make the lemon cakes for you?”

“Not now. Some other time.” She stood up, and Daema the kitchen wench did the same.

“May I ask your name, my lady? If I may be so bold.”

“Of course. I'm Alayne Stone.”

Daema raised her eyebrows. “You're to marry Harrold Hardyng. He's just inherited the Eyrie.”

“Yes.” She felt her stomach turn, and went to leave. “Well, it was nice meeting you, Daema.”

“Likewise, my lady.” And she did look very pleased – almost too much so. This gave Alayne some pause, but she highly doubted Cersei Lannister would have sent a woman – especially such a woman as this Daema – to drag her back to King's Landing. Besides, there was something about her that was oddly... reassuring.

* * *


When Alayne was examining herself in her mirror later that night, she noticed that her red roots were showing again. Oh no. She had used the last of the black dye only two weeks ago, and the wedding wasn't to be for another month. She frantically ran her palms down her scalp. Would anyone notice? Or had they noticed already?

The door creaked open, and Lady Myranda Royce's face peered in. “Alayne?”

She jumped back, and her hands fell to her sides. “Myranda! Hi. What – what is it?”

“I was wondering if you'd like to sleep in my chambers tonight,” she said, her fingernails tapping against the oak door in a steady rhythm. “We can talk about the wedding.”

“I'd rather not, if it's all the same.” She was unable to keep the venom out of her voice. “But I'll come sleep beside you anyway,” she added, more gently this time.

Myranda quirked an eyebrow, and shimmied inside, closing the door behind her. “So everything isn't peaches and roses in your fairytale engagement to our Young Falcon, hmm?”

“I... no, that's not what I meant. I'm quite happy. I'm excited.”

“You're certainly very convincing.”

Alayne sighed. “I'm just tired. It's been a long day.”

Myranda pursed her lips, and seemed to be deep in thought. “On second thought, I'll sleep here tonight instead.”

“No, don't trouble yourself – ”

“Nonsense. I've had a long day too.” She collapsed backwards onto Alayne's bed, her arms spread out. “And your bed is so comfortable, I may fall asleep in mere moments.”

“What was your day like?” Alayne sat in front of her mirror and began brushing her hair. She couldn't keep her eyes away from her roots. Please don't let her see...

“Gods, don't even get me started,” she groaned, and sat up, leaning on her elbows. “Everything that could possibly go wrong! I've been trying so hard to make sure your wedding is going to be beautiful and perfect, but everyone else is making it impossible. I swear, I'll never host another wedding again as long as I live. Well, except my own.”

“I'm so sorry your problems are because of me.”

“Oh, it's not you, my dear. Unless you conspired with the Malloy twins to break half the strings off of the finest harp we have.”

Alayne laughed. The little Malloy boys had arrived at the castle around the same time she had, and had left destruction in their wake nearly every day.

“Here, let me brush your hair while you tell me of your trying day, sweetling,” said Myranda, standing up and reaching for the brush that was still in her hand.

Alayne flinched away instinctively. “Oh, you don't have to...”

“No, but I'd like to.” Myranda extended her hand, and Alayne reluctantly gave her the brush. Please, please don't let her see the red. “Tell me what happened with Harry.”

“Nothing happened with Harry.”

“Alayne. What did he do?”

“He... he just said I needed to stop eating so much or I would get fat.”

Myranda scoffed as she ran the soft bristles through Alayne's hair. “What an ass.”

“He's probably right.” No, he isn't. He is an ass. He drinks and he's a scoundrel and I don't want to marry him. I don't want to marry anyone at all.

“Don't let him get in your head like that. Trust me. You don't want to spend the rest of your life feeling inferior and subservient to Harrold Hardyng. The man may be charming and handsome, but underneath that is slime and an insatiable lust you alone will not be able to satisfy. Though I suppose I shouldn't speak of him that way to his future wife, but it's true all the same. And don't think I'm telling you this because I still want him for myself – believe me, I most assuredly do not – but you need to be prepared.”

She wasn't telling her anything she hadn't already sussed out herself, but she felt grateful for Myranda's honesty. It was such a rare quality.

“Please don't take it the wrong way, dear,” Myranda said soothingly, mistaking Alayne's silence for sullenness. “You're extremely beautiful, and lovely, and graceful, and by the Seven he does not deserve you.”

“Thank you.”

Myranda had stopped brushing her hair, and was now gazing curiously at the top of her head. Alayne's heart quickened. Oh no, no, please no –

“Ah,” Myranda said, her index finger tracing the red roots of Alayne's hair. “I knew it.”

“Knew – what?”

“You're Sansa Stark,” she said simply.

“Who?” Just play dumb, deny it, she can't prove it, she can't, she can't do anything, she can't tell anyone, no one will believe her, don't say it, don't tell her, she can't prove it if you don't say anything, deny deny deny.

Myranda rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “How else could you know the name Jon Snow? And why else would you dye your hair black when it's Tully red? And Lord Petyr Baelish suddenly shows up weeks after Sansa Stark's disappearance with a bastard daughter no one has ever heard about? Not to mention it explains why Harry is marrying you. Yes, he'll be very powerful indeed. Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale, and the Lord of Winterfell to boot. A very nice, big slice of the pie. The two of you will be ruling over half of the Seven Kingdoms before long. It's quite genius, really. Your... 'father' is a very smart man.”

She had stood up and hadn't even realized it. Every inch of her was shivering. It was like someone had just thrown a bucket of ice on her, and the cold water was settling deep into her skin. Myranda knew. She knew and there was nothing she could do to convince her otherwise.

...It was actually a relief.

“You can't tell anyone,” she said, so quietly she almost couldn't hear herself.

Tell? And miss out on all the fun?” Myranda grinned at her. “Besides, I've gotten too many headaches preparing your wedding to give you up.” She squeezed her shoulder. “I like you, Sansa Stark. You should get your home back.”

* * *


Over the next week, Sansa – Alayne, she was still Alayne, for now – had gone to the kitchens every night after supper, where Daema the kitchen wench and a small lemon cake on a silver plate would be waiting for her. Daema would put a dollop of whipped cream with just a hint of lemon zest on top, and Alayne would gobble it up with gusto. They were some of the best lemon cakes she had ever eaten, and when she complimented Daema on her baking skills one evening, she had smiled shyly and said, “It's nothing, my lady, but thank you.”

After eating her lemon cake and bidding Daema a good night, she would return to her chambers, where Myranda was usually already in her bedclothes. They would sit and talk for a few hours – mostly chatterings of everyday things, but sometimes Myranda would probe her about her past, her time in King's Landing, or what stupid thing had Harry done that day, and while Alayne didn't tell her everything she wanted to know, it was a comfort to be able to confide in someone that wasn't Lord Baelish.

She still felt somewhat distrustful of Myranda, though, but whether it was a real concern or it was Petyr's seeds of misgivings, she couldn't say. In her time at the Gates of the Moon, she had been spending less and less time with him and more time with others, which she could tell was displeasing to him.

He wants me to depend on him and him alone, she thought to herself one day after the look he had given her when he'd seen her in Myranda and Mya Stone's company. He wants me to have no true friends except for himself. And even then he wasn't a true friend, not really. Yes, he had saved her, and yes, he was trying to get her back home, but Sansa – Alayne – knew that Littlefinger, in the end, was only interested in Littlefinger. The problem was, she didn't know how his plan to wed her to Harry the Heir benefitted him.

It was this line of thought that led her to ask Daema what she thought of Harrold Hardyng.

“I'm afraid I don't know him,” Daema said, looking bewildered at having been asked. “You would know better than I do.”

“You're a servant, though. You must hear things,” she said, taking a bite of cake. The tang of the lemon left a delightful zing on her tongue.

“I don't leave the kitchens much, my lady.”

“Do you leave the kitchens ever?” She had never seen Daema outside of this room.

She flushed slightly. “No, I do not. Except to sleep, of course. In the servants' quarters.”

“Why?”

“I don't think the lords and ladies would appreciate looking upon such a face as mine.”

Alayne frowned. It was true enough, she supposed, but something about this answer felt incomplete. “I don't think they would care. You're a kitchen woman, not a highborn lady. No one expects you to be beautiful.”

Daema bristled, and she abruptly stood up and went over to the sinks, where she began washing dishes with large, callused hands that reminded her of her father's – her real and dead father, not her fake and living one.

“I'm... I'm sorry if I offended you,” said Alayne, but Daema waved her hand dismissively and kept scrubbing.

“You didn't offend me,” she said, but her voice sounded a little fragile.

They were in silence for a while, as Alayne continued eating and Daema continued washing. Several people came in and out of the room, carrying pans and plates. She felt bad for hurting her feelings, but should she have lied and said she was beautiful? A lie is not so bad if it is kindly meant. She had the feeling, however, that such a lie would not have gone over well either. The woman must know she's ugly. False flatteries would likely hurt her even more.

“Daema.” The kitchen woman didn't turn. “Daema?” Still nothing. “Daema!”

She whipped around, her blue eyes wide. “Y-yes, my lady?”

My lady. She keeps saying 'my lady'. Shouldn't she be calling me 'm'lady'? “Your name isn't Daema, is it?”

Her face went white. “Of – of course it is. What else would it be?”

“I don't know.” Alayne studied her coolly. She can't possibly be a Lannister agent. She's too awful at this. “Who are you?”

“I am Daema, my lady. Daema of the Fingers.”

“No, you aren't. Who are you, and why are you pretending to be someone else?”

The kitchen woman seemed speechless. She didn't move for several moments. Then, at once, some force seemed to overcome her, and the door to the kitchen was slammed shut, and the lock latched with a click. The woman pressed her forehead against the wood, as though about to lift the weight of the world off of her shoulders.

Alayne didn't feel scared. She waited for the woman to turn around, and she did, with an expression that Alayne couldn't quite read. Was it fear? Resignation? Or... hope?

“I'm looking for a highborn maid,” she said, “with auburn hair and blue eyes, around three-and-ten years old. She may have been seen in the company of a fool, and she may have been headed to the Eyrie.” She held her head higher. “Have you seen such a maid?”

“I have not.” She already knows. The chill she had felt when Myranda had figured it out, though, was absent. “You still haven't told me who you are.”

“I am Brienne of Tarth. And who are you?”

“I am Alayne Stone.”

“You are not.”

They stared at each other for a while. She could hear the wind whistling against the windows.

“I do not wish to hurt this highborn maid,” the woman named Brienne continued, “although there are others who would, if given the chance. I have been charged to keep her safe from those who would do her harm. To bring her home, if I can.”

“A strange thing, to send a woman on such a quest.”

“I am no ordinary woman.”

“That much is clear.”

“I am a knight, my lady.”

“What? That's absurd. Women can't be knights.” Can they?

“This woman is. I am Ser Brienne of Tarth now, though I have also been Lady Brienne, the Maid of Tarth, Brienne the Blue, and Brienne the Beauty – a name given to me by those who wish insult and belittle me. The mother of the highborn maid I wish to find took me into her service, and sent me to bring her daughter back home. That lady is dead now, but... but she was an extraordinary woman. It has been a very long journey, for me to find this maid. Perhaps someday I shall tell you of my travels, should you like to hear them. But for now, I'll simply say I have suffered many hardships, many wounds – ” (her finger grazed across the bandage on her cheek) “ – and lost and gained both friends and enemies alike. There were so many times when I thought I would never find her. That I would be forced to forsake the oath I swore to this maid's lady mother. And now... finally... I believe my search has come to an end.”

During this speech, the lady knight's eyes had filled with tears, and she had fallen slowly onto her right knee, as though Sansa was about to knight her herself. The anguish and pain on her face... Sansa felt it as though it was her own pain, brought to life and kneeling in front of her.

She would not hurt me, she thought, she knew, just as she had known a certain other knight would not hurt her either.

“You have found her,” Sansa finally agreed.

Brienne's homely face lit up in such a way that she was almost pretty. She bowed her head and vowed:

“My Lady Sansa, I am completely and utterly in your service, from this day until my last day. I will be your sword and your shield, so that no harm shall ever befall you whilst I live. I will keep your counsel, keep your secrets, obey your commands, and die for you if I must. I swear it by the Seven, and by the Old Gods too, if you wish.”

Sansa stood before her uncertainly. She guessed she was supposed to make some oaths towards her as well, but didn't know the words, couldn't remember them.

“Okay,” she said lamely. “I swear to... to...”

Before she could think of something to say, there was an urgent knocking at the door.

“Why is this door locked?” someone yelled from the other side. “Open it immediately!”

Brienne had shot to her feet, and Sansa – no, no, she was still Alayne, she had to remember – went and unlocked the door.

The door swung open violently, and Lord Petyr was in front of her, a wild look in his eye.

“What's going on, Alayne?” He didn't even look at Brienne, who had backed away towards the sink. “Why was the door locked?”

“One of the servants has... well... she's been giving me lemon cakes, my lord,” Alayne said apologetically. “She smuggled in lemons before the snows came, and if anyone should find out she's been hiding... well, she'd get in all sorts of trouble, so I – ”

“Yes, yes, fine.” He took her face in his hands, which were cold and clammy. “You're not to disappear like that again, my daughter. Do you understand? You had me worried, sweetling.” Lord Petyr kissed her on the forehead. “Come. Lord Harrold is waiting for you in the practice yard.”

“The practice yard?”

“An unconventional meeting place, yes, but it's where he feels most comfortable, even with all the snow.”

Of course he does. Harry loved swords and fighting with them, if nothing else.

Alayne gave Ser Brienne of Tarth one last look before following Lord Petyr out of the room. Help me, my lady knight, for no one else will.

* * *


“Why do you wander around in the kitchens in the middle of the night?” Myranda asked her at supper several evenings after. “One of the servants told me they see you down there, sometimes.”

Alayne fumbled with the glass of wine in her hands. The crystal glimmered in the candlelight. “I have trouble sleeping.”

“You should let me stay in your chambers again. You always slept soundly when I was beside you.”

“You know Lord Baelish said I should sleep alone until my wedding night.”

“Littlefinger is a fool. Now is precisely the time you shouldn't be sleeping alone, so you can get used to having someone else in your bed.” Myranda's eyes scanned the dining hall before she leaned in and whispered in her ear, “Though you should be somewhat used to it after Tyrion Lannister, hmm?”

Alayne's ear felt very hot, and she turned her head towards the window, where the snow was pelting the panes with great ferocity. Normally you could see the moon from this window, but the storm was too strong and thick to make it out now. The days were getting shorter and shorter, the nights getting longer and longer... and her marriage to Harry crept closer and closer.

“Do you like him?” Brienne had asked during one of their nightly talks alone. “Is he good to you?”

Sansa had swallowed. “Not especially. He's not cruel, but... there's something about him that reminds me of someone, or something, but I can't place who. Like today, he was practicing sword play with one of his bannermen – he makes me watch, I guess because he expects me to be impressed with him – and he was so... fierce. So brazen, so boastful of his own prowess. But I knew he was drunk, very drunk, and in the end he lost. I felt... disgusted. Not because he lost, but because of the manner in which he lost. He drinks and he says awful things and thinks he's so clever when he really isn't, and expects me to worship the ground he walks on because he's this great warrior. And maybe he is. But I know he won't treat me the way he should, once we're married. He's already fathered two bastards. I don't think that part of him will change. I don't want to marry him, but what choice do I have?”

“You always have a choice,” Brienne had said firmly.

“Do I? Even if there was a way to escape this place, what would I be going back to? A ruined castle I couldn't hope to repair on my own, that's probably crawling with Boltons? With Harry, I could return to Winterfell, and take it back, and re-build it. I would have power. I would have armies at my – Harry would have armies at his command. He will rule the Vale and Winterfell and I will be his wife. How much higher can I aim than that?”

Brienne hadn't said anything. Just studied her for several long minutes that Sansa took to finish her cake and lick the crumbs from her fingers.

“My father tried to marry me off three times,” Brienne had finally said. “First, when I was a little girl, to Lord Caron's son. He was dead two years later, of the same sickness that took his parents. I only ever met him the once. Then, when I was twelve, to a young man named Ser Ronnet Connington. He said there were cows more beautiful than I, threw a rose at me, and vowed that was all I would ever get from him.”

“How awful!” Sansa's hand had clenched into a fist. “He was unworthy.”

“Thank you, my lady,” she'd said, with a tiny smile. “And the third, an old man who wanted to keep me in dresses and force me to give up fighting and my dreams of knighthood, and wanted to stop me from being... well, me. He said he would chastise me if I did not obey him.” Her smile had grown wider. “So I challenged him to a duel and told him I would only accept chastisement if he could best me in battle. He lost, and my father never tried to betroth me to anyone ever again.”

Sansa couldn't help but giggle at the image of Brienne giving an ancient man a beating in the sword ring. It was all too easy to picture her in armor, standing tall and strong over some quivering old fool of a lord. “You're braver than I am.”

“No, I'm not.” A serious look had come over her face. “There are not many in this world who could go through what you have been through and still remain standing. You haven't given up. I know you haven't. You're a fighter, too. Maybe not with a sword, but you have your mother's courage. And you don't need to marry Harrold Hardyng to take back Winterfell.”

She'd been about to ask her how in the world that could be possible, when she'd yawned and realized how late it was. Reluctantly, at Brienne's insistence, she'd left for bed, and thought about what her lady knight had said until she'd slowly fallen asleep, dreaming of Winterfell and a bronze crown.

“Alayne?”

She blinked and turned. “Sorry?”

“I was just asking if you wanted to retire for the evening,” Myranda said.

Alayne looked at the rest of her meal and wine. “I'm not finished.”

“No,” she concured, “but join me in my chambers anyway. I wish to get away from the ruckus.” Alayne saw that the Malloy twins appeared to be starting a food fight a few tables away.

“Okay.” The pair hastily retreated from what was soon to be a battleground of tomatoes and cabbages and puddings. Once those boys instigated their particular brand of chaos, there was no stopping it. She could practically feel Lord Petyr's gaze following her out of the dining hall, but did not look back.

Myranda was not heading to the rooms, but downstairs towards the servants' quarters. Uneasy, Alayne asked, “What are we doing? I thought we were going to your bedchambers.”

“I'm informing the housemaids of the mess they will have to clean shortly,” Myranda said, but Alayne didn't believe her for a second.

She was even more sure of it when Myranda suddenly made a right turn instead of a left, which meant they were going in the direction of the kitchens – and Brienne. She stayed silent, however, and let Myranda continue to lead the way.

When they reached the door to the kitchen, Myranda didn't knock as Alayne always did, but burst right in like the lady of the castle she was.

“The Malloy twins have started a food fight,” she announced to the workers who had all frozen in place at her entrance. “I suggest all of you get up there, and salvage what you can from the wreckage. We need to keep as much food as we can.” When no one moved, she snapped her fingers and shouted, “NOW!”

The servants all scrambled out into the hallway, including Brienne, who only made brief eye contact with her before trying to make her way past.

But Myranda laid a hand on Brienne's arm and looked up at her. “Not you,” she said.

“My lady – ”

“No arguments.” She pointed at one of the barrels containing oats. “Sit.”

Brienne looked at Alayne, who gave a slight nod. She must have took this to mean everything was alright – which Alayne was not sure it was – and went and sat on the barrel. It wobbled slightly under her weight.

“Now,” Myranda said, sweeping her gown as she strode in front of Brienne, “who are you?”

“I am Daema of the Fingers, my lady.”

“What is your job in these kitchens?”

“I wash the dishes.”

“Do you? Big, strapping wench like yourself? I would think that they would have you churn butter, or butcher the animals.”

“I churn when asked, my lady, but I'm not asked often. They already have others who do that.”

“Do you know who I am, Daema of the Fingers?”

“You – you are...” She looked panicked, and Alayne felt the same.

“What is the meaning of all of this?” Alayne murmured in Myranda's ear. “Why did you bring me down here to watch you interrogate some kitchen girl?”

“All in due time, sweetling.” She focused her attention back on Brienne. “I am the lady of this castle. Lady Myranda Royce? How strange that a kitchen servant should not know the lady whom she serves, especially when this lady has lived in this castle her whole life – and cannot recall ever seeing this kitchen servant, either.”

“I – I am new, my lady,” Brienne stammered. Alayne wanted to hit her for being such a horrible liar. “I have not left these rooms since I have arrived, so please forgive me if I did not recognize you.”

“I hire all of the new servants personally,” Myranda said, eyebrow arched. “Now, tell me again. Who are you, and what are you doing in my home?”

Brienne gaped at her like an idiot, eyes moving back and forth from Myranda to Sansa, from Sansa to Myranda.

“That's what I thought.” Myranda swept her gown again as she faced Sansa. “My lady, this woman is a spy. I believe she has been sent here to bring you back in chains to King's Landing and that cunt of a queen, Cersei Lannister.”

Sansa glared. “She has not. Leave her alone this instant. This woman is my friend, in my service, and under my protection. And you are not to harm a hair on her head.”

“She's deceived you! Are you so easily tricked? Why else would she have snuck into this castle and pretended to befriend you? She's a lying Lannister toady, and she's here to betray you.”

It was this that made Brienne rise from her seat, rage making her tremble and shake so much that Sansa feared she might burst into flames. “I would never betray Lady Sansa,” she said with such passion and violence that Myranda took a step back. “I would rather die than give her to the queen. I swore a holy vow to Lady Catelyn Stark to keep Sansa safe and bring her home, and no one will stop me.” She drew a dagger from underneath her skirts. “And I mean no one. Not you, not Littlefinger, not the Knights of the Vale, not the Gold Cloaks or the Lannister armies or the queen herself! If anyone should hurt her, I will cut them down to pieces. I am a knight, knighted by knights, and you will stand aside.”

And stand aside she did, hands raised slightly in surrender. Sansa laid a gentle hand on Brienne's wrist.

“Put away the dagger, Brienne,” she said. “She was only trying to help.”

While Brienne slid the dagger back under her dress, Myranda shakily tucked her hair behind her ear and pointed a finger at her.

“I should have my guards take you,” she said, “and throw you in the dungeons! How dare you threaten me – ”

“Myranda, stop. Both of you, stop this.” She was, quite literally, in the middle of the two, her arms and hands in the air to keep them apart. “It was a misunderstanding. Let's leave it there and move on.”

The two seemed reluctant to let the matter go, but they both nodded in acquiescence anyway.

Satisfied for the moment, Sansa took Myranda's arm, led her to one of the barrels, and bid her to sit.

“How long do we have before everyone comes back?” she asked her.

She shrugged. “I'm not sure. Maybe an hour? It depends on how much damage the twins caused...”

Knowing them, quite a bit. “Brienne, we can continue our conversation from last night,” Sansa said, and sat on the barrel next to Myranda. “I believe you mentioned something about a prisoner you were traveling with at one point?”

Keeping an eye on the door, and speaking in low voices, Brienne told them of a man called Goldenhand, an escaped prisoner she had caught and attempted to escort back to King's Landing before they had been overtaken by a band of outlaws known as the Bloody Mummers. She told them how she had hated this Goldenhand, how he called her an ugly wench and laughed at her, and how he had attempted to escape her by dueling her. She'd won, but he'd given her a hell of a fight, even in chains, and after that they'd had a strange respect for each other that neither could really explain. She told them of their capture, and how the Bloody Mummers had cut off his hand and brought them to Harrenhal, where they threw her into a dress and a bear pit with only a tourney sword, but he had jumped in after her and protected her before other men brought down the bear with their crossbows.

“He tried to fight a bear with no weapons?” Myranda asked disbelievingly. “Why?”

A strange, starry, far-away look was in her blue eyes. “He said he dreamed of me.”

Sansa was enthralled as Brienne continued her story. She frequently double-backed and told them other details, like Goldenhand yelling “SAPPHIRES!”, and the bath they had shared where he had told her the true circumstances of the crime he had been accused of. She wouldn't tell them what the crime was – Sansa suspected it must have been something truly horrible, like kinslaying – but it almost didn't matter. She was hanging on Brienne's every word.

“There are many who would say he is a bad man,” Brienne said. “I had certainly judged him to be such. I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't right either. He has done horrible things, but – he's trying to be a better person. He wants to be better.” Her entire body seemed to have changed from its usual stiffness and awkwardness to something more soft, sensual. Her sapphire eyes had taken on an otherworldly quality.

“You're in love with him, aren't you?” Sansa asked.

Brienne looked at her with some alarm. “What?”

“You're in love with him.” She could see it was true, and didn't need Brienne's embarrassed nod to confirm it. “Does he love you?” She hoped so. It would be horrible if he didn't.

“I – I don't know. I'd like to think he does. He... he came with me, actually. To help save you. He's not here in the castle, but he's waiting for us, if you ever decided that you wanted to leave.”

She was giving Sansa a pointed look that she chose to ignore. “How did you fall in love with him?”

Brienne thought. “Slowly,” she said, “then all at once.”

“Gods, it's been over an hour now,” Myranda said with a start. She looked like she had been just as absorbed with Brienne's tale as Sansa was. “We should go back.”

When they had, and Sansa was curled up underneath the sheets, so warm, and thinking a thousand thoughts, Myranda lay next to her and ran her fingertips down her hair.

“Your roots are getting more noticeable,” she said, but Sansa was already half-asleep.

Fly home, little bird, a gravelly voice was whispering.

* * *


Lord Harrold Hardyng burst through the door to the main hall, holding some dead, large beast in his arms, a huge grin on his handsome face. Alayne straightened the simple white bonnet Lord Petyr had given her to hide her growing red roots as she took another look at the animal.

The beast was a boar. With a lurch of her stomach, she finally realized who it was that Harry the Heir reminded her of.

“I have a present for you, Alayne!” He walked over to her with a confident strut, and she eyed the boar once again. He was close enough that she could smell the wine on his breath.

“Oh, the boar isn't the present,” he promised, handing it off to one of his men. “That is in my bedchambers.” He was giving her an awfully suggestive look that made her skin crawl.

“I shall wait for you to get it for me, my Lord,” Alayne said politely.

He looked disappointed, but snapped his fingers impatiently for one of his bannermen to go fetch the present. The man returned a few minutes later with a box, which Alayne accepted from him.

“Go on. Open it.” Harry looked so eager, Alayne felt herself soften a bit. She opened the box –

It was an emerald tiara.

“For the wedding,” Harry was saying, but Alayne barely heard him. Everything was the tiara, it was swallowing her eyes, and there was a loud and fat king and a beautiful golden queen who hated him, hated the world, hated everyone except her children, and whose husband was a drunkard and a philanderer. A bitter life, filled with regret and power and a thirst for more that would never be satisfied because women aren't allowed to rule kingdoms, they must sit and look pretty and plot to kill their king husbands with wine and boars and have sons even more monstrous than their fathers and it was a cycle that never ended, never stopped. She wanted to vomit all over this stupid tiara and all over him.

“It's beautiful,” she said.

“I'm glad you like it.” His cheeks were flushed, but whether from the wine or something else, Alayne couldn't tell. “This is the first time I've ever been able to get something like this for a girl. A lady, I mean. I think I shall like being Lord of the Eyrie.”

“And I shall like being your wife.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek, and she felt his skin grow warmer under her lips.

“Try it on! I'm gonna go help butcher that boar, and when I come back I want to see you wearing it, eh?” Harry's perfect teeth flashed at her briefly before he was running down the corridor, his new pale blue cloak flapping behind him. His men followed, leaving her alone in the grand foyer.

She let her arms fall, tiara still held lightly in her hand.

Brienne, she thought. I have to speak with Brienne. She wanted to run to the kitchens, tell her to please get her out of here, take her home, however impractical and impossible it would be. She's so stubborn and headstrong she might just throw me over her shoulders and carry me out the front door if that was all she could think of.

That was why she knew she needed a plan.

* * *


Thirty-six hours until the wedding.

There had not been as much pandemonium before her wedding to Tyrion. The ladies of the court ran and fluttered about the place, and so did the servants, who were hastily arranging the flowers and hanging the decorations. Lady Myranda was overseeing everything, from the music (all of Sansa's favorite songs), to the feast (a large lemon cake was to be the centerpiece of the evening – Brienne's recipe, though no one knew except for the three of them), to the ceremony itself. She was doing a beautiful job, from what Sansa could tell, and it was sort of a shame that she would not actually get to experience any of it.

Lord Baelish had already secretly arranged for the direwolf cloak, and the black dye had almost entirely faded away by this point. She was keeping her hair in a secure bun underneath the bonnet he had given her, and was to wait until the night before to finally wash all of the dye out. Then, at the ceremony, she was to dramatically remove her bonnet, revealing her waves of auburn hair, and someone would throw the direwolf cloak about her shoulders before she began to walk down the aisle.

Or, that was his plan, at least. Hers differed slightly.

“You must be extra careful,” he was warning her right now, in his locked study. “There is a knight I'm convinced is working for the Lannisters. Ser Shadrich, the Mad Mouse, you may remember. I'm fairly certain he doesn't know who you are, but you must tread lightly.”

“Haven't I been doing so?”

He grinned at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “That you have. You've impressed me very much these past months, Alayne. You have a great mind for the game – just as I knew you did. It always pleases me to have been proved right.”

Sansa smiled demurely. “It pleases me to have pleased you.”

It was like she had lifted the mask from his face for a quick and fleeting moment. Littlefinger was gone, even the great Lord Petyr Baelish was gone, and in their place was simply a man who wanted her. And she, too, for the same transient moment, almost reconsidered.

But that moment passed, and they were Lord Baelish and Sansa Stark once again. And she was now completely confident in her suspicions of his grander scheme, which would make the rest of this much easier.

A sigh fell from her lips, and she cast her gaze onto the carpet.

“What's the matter?”

“Nothing, I just – well, Tyrion isn't... I mean, is this marriage to Harry even something that can happen? I'm still married to him, technically...”

“That doesn't matter. Lord Tyrion should be dead before long, despite his escape from King's Landing. And if he isn't, well... we'll figure that out when it happens. We're good on our feet, you and I.”

“We make a good team, don't we?”

“That we do. Now, go get some sleep. You'll want to be rested for tomorrow.”

He went to kiss her on the forehead, but she touched his cheek with the pads of her fingers. He looked down at her curiously.

“Sometimes I wonder if it's you who I should be marrying,” she said in a low voice that seemed to make the air hum. “Harry is such a fool, and you're so clever.”

He was clutching her hand now. “Sansa. Harrold is a great warrior. A knight, handsome and strong. Why do you think you wouldn't be happy with him?”

A single tear fell. “I don't want some stupid, oafish knight. I want you.”

When you know what a man wants, you know how to move him. She was being gathered in his arms and kissed so fiercely that her first instinct was to struggle away, but she knew she mustn't, so she gave herself over to him, threw her arms around his shoulders.

“Petyr,” she pleaded, pulling away from his lips. “I don't want to marry him.”

“I know, I know, my sweet Sansa.” He wiped away the tear that had rolled down her cheek. “But you must be patient. We must wait until after Winterfell has been restored to you before Lord Harrold can be taken care of.”

“Like... like you took care of Sweetrobin?”

“Not exactly. But rest assured, we shall be together, my sweetling. You and I will be husband and wife, and we will rule together, from the wild woods of the North to the mountains of the Vale, from the rivers to the west and the rivers to the east.” He kissed her again, and removed the bonnet from her head. “The world will be ours.”

Her red-black hair cascaded down her back. “The rivers?”

“Why, the Riverlands. Surely you must know that Riverrun shall be yours, should the Blackfish and your uncle perish?”

“You're going to kill them, too.” A deep coldness settled in her spine.

“No, no, not kill them. Not personally, at least. Certain events may unfold that result in their demise. If not... we'll take it. We'll have enough armies, to be sure.” Petyr tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “And I have Harrenhal. We will be the most powerful couple in the Seven Kingdoms.”

Sansa held back the urge to slap him across the face and simpered adoringly at him. “I think I will like that.”

He laughed. “I think so, too.” One more kiss, a light one this time, and he handed her back her bonnet. “Sweet dreams, my lady.”

* * *


It had taken a lot longer than she'd thought to wash out the remainder of the black dye.

Everything was going well so far. No one had suspected a thing when Daema the Kitchen Wench had vanished, for just last night Lady Alayne Stone had loudly and publicly berated her for knocking plates over in the dining hall, and had ordered for her to be escorted from the castle for her clumsiness. No one knew that Daema the Kitchen Wench was really still there, hiding and waiting for the opportune moment. And no one knew that Lord Harrold Hardyng knew that Alayne Stone was really Sansa Stark.

She had told him, in the practice yard, early in the morning. He'd thought that she had sent for him in order to have a secret tryst, and had been disappointed when it was clear that was not what was happening. But once she'd removed her bonnet and her Tully hair shone in the rising sunlight, his song had changed.

“I just couldn't keep it from you any longer, my darling,” she'd said. “But you must be careful to not tell a soul. If any should find out who I am before we are wed... I am certain I would be taken prisoner back to King's Landing.”

“I'll kill the man who tries,” Harry had declared. I might have liked him, in another life, she thought later.

Sansa had memorized the movements of Ser Shadrich the Mad Mouse, and had noticed that he was an unusually early riser. His frequent haunts in the wee hours of the morning included the dining hall, the library, the armory... and the area surrounding the practice yard. She knew he must have seen them – at least, she hoped so. But it was mere hours before the wedding and he had still not tried to snatch her away. Granted, she had not yet been alone today...

No matter. Even if the Mad Mouse had slept in that morning, the rest of the plan shouldn't be too affected by it. The Malloy twins were still set to wreck the ceremony before she got there, Brienne was still waiting for her in the abandoned cellars, and Harry would still send his armies towards King's Landing after her disappearance. Petyr would not think she had escaped on her own after their confessions to each other last night, and the men under his and Harry's command would be going south. She would be going north. Brienne would protect her, along with her friend Goldenhand, if he was truly with the mountain clans as she'd said.

There was just the small matter of actually finding their way out of the castle without being seen. Well, it was not a small matter at all. It was a very big problem, one that she had not found the solution for yet.

Lady Myranda was the person to ask, she knew, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Was it because of a lack of trust, not wanting to involve too many people in her breakout, or because of guilt after all of the effort Myranda had put into the wedding? She wasn't sure, but it was most likely a combination of the three. In any case, Sansa would prefer it if no one helped her except Brienne. She is the only one in this world who does not want something from me.

Her handmaiden arrived just as Sansa had tied her hair back and put her bonnet on. As the handmaiden undressed her, Sansa went over the details in her mind once again. The Malloys would create their distraction (hadn't been hard to convince them to do so after promising sweets), she would slip away, find Brienne in the cellars, then... what?

A knock on the door. The handmaiden threw a robe around her shoulders and went to answer, but the door swung open before she could do so, revealing Myranda with a glass of white wine in each hand.

“A little pre-celebration,” she said. She nodded towards the hallway. “Leave us.”

The handmaiden silently obliged. Sansa accepted the wine Myranda offered her, and pulled her robe more tightly around her body. “Shouldn't you be downstairs?”

“Probably. But I have the most tremendous headache.” Myranda leaned against the bed post and took a sip of wine, peering at her over the glass. “I needed to get away for a few moments. And I wanted to see your dress! Put it on, darling.”

“Maybe later.” Sansa sat on the edge of the bed, and Myranda did the same.

“Are you nervous?” She lightly bumped her shoulder into hers. “You can tell me.”

“Yes. Very.” She swung back her wine, and Myranda laughed.

“Which part are you nervous about? The wedding, or the bedding? Because if it's the latter, I might be of some assistance in that regard.”

Sansa nearly choked. “Um... in what way?”

“Oh, just general advice, should you want any. Or practical demonstrations, if you like.”

“I think I can handle myself just fine, but thank you.” She tried to sound brazen but instead the words came out meek and small.

Myranda shrugged and took another sip of wine. “As you wish, my lady. I'm going to go back down to the seven circles of hell now, but let me know if the bride needs anything.” She smiled and patted Sansa's hand before standing up and smoothing her skirts.

Sansa, flustered, drank the rest of her wine as she watched Myranda head towards the door – when her attention seemed to become arrested by something underneath the vanity.

“What's this?” She stooped over, and before Sansa realized what she was reaching for and could stop her, it was too late. She had pulled out the bag full of small provisions and clothes, which she had so stupidly left out in the open.

Myranda didn't say anything for a few moments, and neither did Sansa, who was gripping the stem of her wine glass so tightly it was surprising that it didn't shatter.

“So,” Myranda said, gently easing the bag back under the vanity with her foot, “you're planning a daring escape and you don't even tell me?”

“I didn't – I didn't want to involve you.”

“Whyever not?” She didn't look angry, or hurt, or anything at all, except curious. She set her empty wine glass on the table. “You know I can keep a secret.”

“I know, it's just... I didn't know if you would be cross with me. You've been working so hard on the wedding.”

“True. But that can't be the only reason. And besides, if you had told me in the first place, I wouldn't have spent quite so much damn time on the thing.”

“I thought that, if you were angry enough, you might... tell someone.”

This seemed to rouse Myranda, and her brown curls bounced as she stood up straighter. “I would never. You're my friend, San – Alayne. I only want the best for you, dear. Do you really want to leave?”

Sansa nodded.

“Is it that Brienne woman? Has she talked you into this?”

“No. It was my idea.”

“Well.” Myranda sat down next to Sansa again. “Tell me the plan and I'll see if I can help.”

She dared not speak it aloud here, where there were numerous people in the hallway who could be listening, so she wrote it carefully on a piece of parchment as Myranda read over her shoulder, so close her perfumed hair swung against her cheek. Roses, it smelled like.

She ripped the paper and threw it in the fireplace after. Myranda contemplated her, chin resting against her hand.

“You don't have a way out of the castle.”

Sansa shook her head.

A deep smirk spread across her face. “You're lucky to have me, then, aren't you?”

* * *


Go.

Go.

Go.


The word was like a prayer.

Sansa, let's go.

My lady, we must leave.

Ser Shadrich is dead. We have to go.

Do you think Littlefinger is on your side?
Ser Shadrich's laughter had echoed and echoed in the empty passageway. This is the man who held a dagger to your father's throat and turned the City Watch against him, little girl.

He'd tried to grab her, and Brienne had held the dagger to his groin. The name “Mad Mouse” suited him very well. He'd clawed and scratched and punched but Brienne had subdued him.

Ser Shadrich is dead. We have to go.

There's something I've forgotten.
She'd dashed back into her room through the passageway and dug the amethyst hairnet from her hiding place. She fingered one of the jewels, imagining putting it in Littlefinger's wine, the life going out of his eyes and his face turning black the same way Joffrey's had.

But there was no time for that. Go go go go go. Fly home, little bird, fly home.

“Invite me to Winterfell once you've taken it back,” Myranda was saying to her now, at the end of the passageway, with Brienne opening the trap door. She embraced her, and kissed her lightly on the cheek. “Don't forget me when you've taken over the world, my sweetling.”

“I won't.” She hesitated. “I'm sorry for... for ruining the wedding.”

“Oh, don't worry about that.” A loud crash from upstairs. The Malloy twins were doing their job well. “Someone's going to get married, by the Gods.”

“And Ser Shadrich – if they find him dead, they'll know he didn't kidnap me – ”

“I'll take care of him. No one will know, I swear it.”

Brienne cleared her throat. “Sansa. I don't mean to rush you...”

But she'd already jumped down the trap door.

This second passageway was more like a cavern than a hallway, and felt like it went on for miles. She stumbled so many times over the jutting rocks that she held hands with Brienne just to keep herself steady. Cobwebs got in her mouth. It was so cold.

“We're almost out, I think,” Brienne said, and she was right. Mya Stone was waiting for them on the other side of the bars, her faithful mules by her side.

It was taking a while for the three of them to knock out one of the bars. The wind was blowing so fiercely outside that Sansa became worried she had made a terrible mistake.

Brienne seemed to sense this, and laid a hand on her shoulder. “The right thing is almost never the easy thing,” she said.

The bar came loose and the two of them slid through to the mountains.

“You'll have to lead the way,” Mya said to Brienne. “I don't know where we're going.”

Brienne looked at the landscape. It seemed that they were very far from the castle now – in fact, Sansa wasn't entirely sure where they were. None of the mountains looked familiar to her. They didn't seem to look familiar to Brienne, either, until she seemed to spot something she did recognize. Her eyes became a calm and waveless ocean.

“Come along,” she said, and nudged her mule.

The mules seemed to be slower than the last time she had ridden them. The trio trudged at a snail's pace that made her long for a swift horse to gallop across this treacherous terrain.

“How come you agreed to help us?” she asked Mya, tired of the silence and the wind.

She just shrugged and didn't respond. Sansa sighed.

It was going to be a long ride back to Winterfell.

* * *

A deep, unsettling night had fallen. Sansa had forgotten that she was supposed to be brave and was clinging onto her mule's neck for dear life. She could see almost nothing in front of her and could not fathom how Brienne was still navigating with such deftness. We must be close to Goldenhand.

“We're almost there,” Brienne announced, as though reading her thoughts.

“Not so loud,” Sansa shushed. They must have sent out scouts by now.

“My apologies,” she whispered. “But we are approaching the clan, where we'll keep you for a time, until it is safe to venture out again.”

“And Goldenhand is there?” She could scarcely wait to meet this man she had heard so much of. She had made Brienne tell the story again on their journey across the mountains, and even Mya had appeared interested.

“Yes, and Goldenhand.” But she said this tightly, uncomfortably.

“What is it? What's wrong?”

Brienne said nothing for a few moments. “Ser Shadrich. I... I killed him.”

“You had to.” Sansa wanted to reach out and comfort her, but her arms still clung to her mule. “He would've taken me. He probably would have killed you, if you hadn't killed him first.”

“Still. I don't like what I am becoming.”

“What do you mean? Brienne?” But she wasn't answering.

It wasn't too long before they had reached what appeared to be an entrance to some kind of cave. Two extremely large men wearing bear pelts were on guard, holding shiny steel blades that glinted in the moonlight.

The men waved them inside, and Mya gathered the mules together as Sansa and Brienne climbed off and made their way inside.

There were less people in the cave than she had expected. She'd assumed that the entire clan would be here, but instead the cave contained only a few sleeping figures wrapped in thick pelts. One of them was a small person wearing a bear pelt that was far too big on them (for one crazy second she thought it might have been Tyrion, before realizing the person was not quite that small); another was in an elk's furs, their broad shoulders moving slowly up and down, their face hidden from view.

The third was clothed in a mountain lion's pelt, and was woken by their entrance.

“Brienne? Is that you?” The mountain lion fell away from the person's face, and Sansa felt fear seize inside her chest. She couldn't breathe. The world was spinning, sliding, careening around her, the cave ceiling was about to collapse on her, on all of them.

“You – you – ” She stumbled backwards into Brienne, who caught her before she fell, but she yanked herself away. “You – you brought me to – to him – ” This was impossible, Brienne would never betray her like this, she must have been tricked, lied to by someone, there was no way in seven hells Brienne, her friend, would bring her right to Jaime Lannister's doorstep –

“Sansa, please.” Brienne had locked Sansa's arms down to her sides, I really can't trust anyone, anyone at at all, I'm so STUPID STUPID STUPID. “It isn't what you think; it's okay, it's okay.”

“Do you know who that is?!” Sansa shrieked. “It's the queen's twin brother, you idiot! The Kingslayer! He's going to take me back to King's Landing and have me executed!” I should have stayed with Petyr; there is no one alive who is great a fool as I am.

“Ah, that blasted name again.” Ser Jaime groaned sleepily, and shrugged the pelt off entirely, revealing a bruised and battered body, and...

“Your... your hand...”

“What, this?” He lifted his solid gold hand. “You should see the other man.”

Sansa stared at Brienne incredulously. “He's Goldenhand?”

“Everything I told you was true,” Brienne insisted. “I just... left out a few details.”

“Like the 'little detail' that he's Jaime Lannister?”

“Yes, that one.”

“And also she probably didn't mention that we're not bringing you to Winterfell,” he said. “At least, not quite yet.”

Sansa wanted to scream. She wanted to claw at Brienne's big, ugly face and run all the way back, and maybe the scouts would find her before she died in the snow and the cold.

Brienne had enveloped her in a wolfskin blanket and guided her towards the Kingslayer, who, to be fair, looked exhausted and contrite. His long, golden hair had moved from his head onto his face, and the hair that was on his head was dirty and short. Sansa looked at him and tried to believe that this was the man who had jumped into the bear pit, who had given Brienne the sword called Oathkeeper, but all she could see was Queen Cersei and an executioner's axe.

“I know you have no reason to trust me,” he was saying. “I don't know what Brienne has and hasn't told you. But I can tell you, with complete and total honesty, that I have absolutely no intention whatsoever to cart you to my sister.”

“Where do you intend to cart me to, then?” she asked, with a dead voice.

“Winterfell is the final destination,” Brienne said. “But first we have to bring you to your mother.”

“My mother?” Sansa was beyond confused now. “My mother is dead.” Isn't she?

“Lady Catelyn is dead. But your mother lives.”

“I don't... I don't understand.”

“Come with us, little bird,” said the figure in the elk furs, “and we'll show you.”

Sansa's heart leapt into her throat. The Hound. “Ser...?”

But it was not the Hound that was regarding her right now – it was certainly Ser Sandor Clegane, but something about him seemed very, radically, different. There was no anger behind his eyes, no rage, no madness and no hate.

“I... I had not thought I would see you again,” she finally managed to say.

He gave her a rueful smile. “I could say the same.”

Brienne and Ser Jaime had sidled next to each other, Brienne hugging herself, shivering. Ser Jaime wrapped his lion pelt around the both of them, and Sansa could see that his left hand was holding her right. Brienne looked up at him, and he at her, and there was this great energy between them. The air itself seemed to become warmer.

“Have your wounds healed?” he asked her, and removed his hand from her grasp to run it across her bandaged cheek.

“A little,” she said. Sansa had the feeling they would have kissed had she not been staring at them.

She knew, suddenly, that she could trust Jaime Lannister. A man like him could not fall in love with a woman like her unless there was a mass amount of good in him. And a woman like her could not fall in love with a man like him unless that was so. I see them, and I know the world cannot be entirely wretched. There is love, although in an unexpected place. It is not like the songs, but it is beautiful, even if she is not.

Sansa Stark turned back to Ser Sandor Clegane. “Tell me everything.”
 
 
 
Daintress: Boromirdaintress on November 14th, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
THE HOUND! I am glad to see him. He's about the only person I can see Sansa trusting. :) This is great. You're going to be so sad when you read DwD, though. Lol!

Edited at 2012-11-14 01:54 pm (UTC)
Jackie Lamagnifique: by fan-cicons daenarys targaryentju_tju_tju_tju on November 14th, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :DD Yeah, I've started reading it, and I read Jaime's chapter a while ago. GODDAMN CLIFFHANGERS.
Daintress: Boromirdaintress on November 14th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
I know. It's terrible waiting YEARS for the next book to come out before you know whether a favorite character will even be in it!

If GRRM EVER published when he said he was going to, that would be one thing, but it seems like he's constantly running behind.
Jackie Lamagnifique: by jiiiiive sansa starktju_tju_tju_tju on November 14th, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
I am just going to slowly die from suspense because I really really REEEEALLLLYYYYY need to know what happens with him and Brienne, like I am way too emotionally invested in these two. And we probably won't be getting TWOW until like 2017 or 2018 or something and I. Just. Can't.