|Kindness, Not Fear
Author: Second Star On The Left PM
In the wake of Daenerys' triumph, Sansa comes to King's Landing. Multi-POV post-series short fic. Sansa/Tyrion. Rating for attempted suicide, discussion of sexual violence and mature themes.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Romance - Sansa S. & Tyrion L. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 33,698 - Reviews: 61 - Favs: 102 - Follows: 128 - Updated: 09-30-12 - Published: 03-19-12 - id: 7939731
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: I'd just like to make it clear that Sansa and Tyrion's chapters will be very different in tone to Jon, Margaery and Dany's – there'll be little emphasis on the political structures of newly Targaryen Westeros and more focus on their relationship. Also, I'm going to try and keep it as true to character in that Tyrion, I feel, only indulges in huge bouts of self-inspection and reflection when he's at a low point/drunk… And he's really not here. He's on a monumental high, the best of his life – he's in a position of power where he's being appreciated for his talents, where his more emotionally-influenced brand of governance isn't frowned upon as it was with Cersei and Tywin because hey, Dany's got a sentimental streak wider than Tyrion's. He's also – and this is the bit he really can't believe – got this stunningly beautiful young woman who by rights should hate him, but is turning to him as her support network and actually wants to be his wife.
Apologies for writing meta on my own fic, but I just felt that this needed to be cleared up before I throw this chapter at you. Bene.
Niamh out : )
His lady wife is not someone he recognises.
This is what occurs to Tyrion as Sansa Stark rides into the Red Keep, showing all her colours and leading so many of her vassals. Regent of all the lands above the Trident, she is confident in the power that is hers, her shoulders back and her head held high until she kneels before the Queen in a gesture of fealty, bowing her head and exposing the pale nape of her neck in a show of vulnerability the likes of which she had never favoured Tyrion with during their ill-fated time as man and wife.
The girl he was forced to wed, who he attempted to shield from the ugliness of the world as he could not shield her from the ugliness of his face, would never have been confident enough to fall to her knees so elegantly. He had seen Sansa brought to her knees before Joffrey enough times to know that this was different – then, she had been showing the courtesy of fear, of abject terror and dread anticipation of her next punishment. Now, she kneels because she thinks Daenerys a worthy queen. A recommendation from the remnants of House Stark and House Tully, alike in honour and matched in pride, is not to be sniffed at. He hopes Daenerys understands just how valuable Sansa's very public show of fealty is to her in maintaining her control of her more fickle liegelords.
When she rises to her feet, her skirts dark with wetness halfways to her waist, she stands almost a full head above the Queen, and they face each other like the sun and the moon, radiant as either, golden-red and silver-pale.
Tyrion reprimands himself for his foolish poeticism, and escapes to the sanctuary of his rooms. He knows that Sansa will not be able to look on him in anything but disdain at best, hatred at worst, and the thought of seeing her face twisted as such saddens him. Hers is a face made for smiling, and his presence will be no help on that score.
Daenerys will not miss him for one day, he thinks. Sansa deserves to find some measure of happiness here in the Red Keep, in King's Landing, and he worries that his lingering too near her will only disquiet her, remind her of the dark times she spent as Joffrey and Cersei's prisoner in this place.
Aegon comes to see him after the council meeting, to divulge all of Sansa's business. Daenerys would have come herself, but some problem had arisen with her Drogon, and she'd had to run for the dragonpit, and Jon was busy with his sister-cousin, finding a closeness that they'd never shared as children but which would grow between them now that they were without Robb, without Arya, without Ned and Catelyn.
Tyrion is unsurprised to find himself unamused by Aegon's obvious admiration of Sansa. While he may have little claim to her anymore if ever he had it, she is still his wife, and Tyrion has always found himself to be jealous of what is his. The prince is quite obviously smitten with whatever idea of Sansa he's built up in his mind, of the fierce warrior that men whisper of, the Wolf-Bitch. Tyrion knows enough of how rumour works to know that Sansa's part in the battles and conquests of the war were much exaggerated, that a woman who had not trained as Brienne of Tarth and the Mormonts would not be allowed into the fray. He knows that Sansa isn't the woman Aegon thinks, and he wonders how the prince will react to that revelation.
Besides, Aegon's found reason to admire several of Daenerys' maids and more even of the castle servants, and Tyrion has almost been on the verge of calling for another maester from Oldtown solely to provide enough moon tea in order to prevent there from being a Targaryen bastard to worry about, another Blackfyre. Tyrion dreads to think what an outright refusal from Sansa would earn from the Prince of Dragonstone – Aegon seems to think himself irresistible, a trait Jon and Daenerys are working steadily to beat from their brother and nephew by way of sly jests and wicked tongue lashings respectively. Even still, from the way he speaks of Sansa and the power that is hers until her brother comes of age, Tyrion can see that Aegon thinks himself a fine match for the Lady of Winterfell.
Much and all as he longs to do so, he must not mention his marriage to Sansa until he speaks to her. He has little doubt that she will wish for an annulment, and that, at least, he can give her.
He watches from the mezzanine above the great hall that night at the feast, unable to affect an air of true nonchalance because he must rise up on his toes if he wishes to see above the ornate railings.
Sansa, he notes, is everything she would never have become had she remained at King's Landing. She outshines the Queen, draws the eyes of every man in the hall and several women, seems perfectly at her ease between Jon and Barristan Selmy.
Tyrion notes also that Daenerys has striven to make herself as much Sansa's opposite as possible for tonight, with her bell-braid and her bare arms and her wicked smiles. Sansa is all things traditional and wholesome in comparison, even if the cloth-of-silver sling supporting her injured arm is a subtle reminder that here sits a lady who is also a warrior, and her bodice is cut a little lower than is generally acceptable for ladies of her age. He can't help but admire it, and feels no shame in admitting that he desires her – he desired her even then, when she was a terrified girl forced into his bed, although he'd had the restraint to know that any attempt at seduction would ruin her.
He is not ashamed to admit either that, should the occasion arise, no force in all the world would stop him from seducing her now.
Her prettiness has blossomed into beauty, and for all that she is the very image of her lady mother, she is also more – Tyrion has vague memories of seeing Lyanna Stark at the tourney in Harrenhall, where Jaime won his white cloak and Rhaegar Targaryen sent everything to hell, and there is something of the same detached allure that so entranced the prince about Lyanna's niece. It is no wonder Aegon is so enraptured by her, because in so many ways he truly is his father's son.
Tyrion turns away before the dancing begins, when he hears Sansa's pretty laugh ring out and mingle with Jon's gruff chuckles as they echo round the ceilings. It strikes him as he waddles away that he has never heard her laugh before.
It is five days before he is caught out. It irks him that he is so predictable that even Sansa, who he has not spoken to in three years, can figure his hiding places and bolt holes without any great effort.
She emerges from the stacks of the library with her good hand tucked into her sling, her head bowed just enough so that she is looking through her eyelashes when she greets him. He is startled enough that he almost drops his book, a useful tome on the history of the Targaryen dynasty that he is perusing to feed Daenerys' insatiable curiosity about her family.
Sansa takes the seat opposite him, her head still down, her hair gathered low behind her left ear, the way he's often seen her wear it these past few days. She looks older than her not-quite seventeen years, and he watches silently as she reaches behind her neck and unclasps the brooch holding her sling in place. Her shoulder seems stiff, but she rests her hands on the table in front of her, the only barrier between them, and links her long, pale fingers together.
"You have been avoiding me, my lord husband. Have I offended you?"
He hesitates, unsure if this is merely prelude to her asking him to arrange for their annulment or if there is some trick up her gossamer sleeve.
"Never, my lady. To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?"
She smiles then, the light from the window behind her alighting on her hair and, he knows, his own, showing their crowning glories to their best advantage. Sansa manages to look like the Lady of the North that she is, while he suspects that his hair is merely being elevated from straw to sunshine.
She speaks then, her voice low, her words halting, and he pushes aside his book to take her hands when her blue, blue eyes cloud with tears. He did his best to protect her when they lived as man and wife, even before then as well, and to know that she was hurt so deeply (not, he prays, irreparably) as soon as he allowed himself to be made use of in Joff's death infuriates him. In some deep, dark part of himself, the part that he has been attempting to temper with rationale and common sense and time spent with Jon Snow since his return to the Kingdoms, triumphant at Daenerys' side, he wishes that he were more formidable and that those who harmed her were still alive, if only so he could kill them all himself, slowly and painfully.
Her description of her time in the Vale is harrowing. From the madness of Lysa Arryn – worsened, it would seem, since his personal experience of it, perhaps by seeing that Sansa was more beautiful again than the Lady Catelyn had been, more beautiful than Lysa would ever be – to being forced to endure the sloppy affections of Harry the Heir, and eventually to Littlefinger.
Littlefinger in particular makes him want to rage and roar. He has nothing but utter contempt for the craven. What kind of man turns the twisted idea of love he bore for a woman for most of his life on her vulnerable, broken daughter?
He cannot hold back a curse when Sansa admits that Littlefinger raped her – not that she says so, not in so many words, but Tyrion understands what she means. The only obvious kindness he ever showed her that she appreciated was in not bedding her, and for Littlefinger to be less kind than he himself…
He hates himself a little bit, somehow, for not staying in Westeros long enough to find her, to ensure that she was safe, even though he is fully aware that he would not be sitting here with her had he done so.
Jon Snow appears from nowhere while the echo of Tyrion's fury fades into silence, and Sansa's cheeks are aflame. He is unable to miss the way the flush of colour spreads across the pale skin of her neck, disappearing under the neckline of her dark grey gown, but is mercifully distracted when she pulls her fingers from his and hastily takes her exit.
Jon stays, watching him closely as he avoids those grey Stark eyes, Ned Stark's eyes and the accusation that probably lies therein.
He is surprised at how persistent Jon is. After perhaps twenty minutes he gives in, and is relieved when Jon asks for a private audience. Tyrion hopes that they will be able to keep the shouting to a minimum.
Instead of questioning Tyrion's intentions towards Sansa, though, Jon expresses his worries that perhaps, perhaps, certain of the Houses who are uneasy under Targaryen rule might rally to Sansa as a figurehead. Tyrion has to agree that it is a valid concern – Sansa's story is more sympathetic than Daenerys', if only because Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully were reasonably well respected, the accusations of treason and treachery never fully believed, whereas Daenerys' father is remembered as the Mad King and not much else, but also because Sansa displays a fragility which Daenerys fights constantly to hide.
Sansa grew up learning to be a lady, and that will never leave her no matter what her achievements.
Jon's worries are irritatingly narrow, though. He thinks only of the potential threat Sansa bears to Daenerys' throne and of the White Walkers come a-calling from beyond the Wall, when in reality there are so many more tiny things that could quite easily destabilise the realm and destroy any chance he has of bringing recruits north to the Wall to fight the Others with blades of dragonglass to match the Queen's crown.
No, there are more delicate steps being taken to destabilise the kingdoms. The Tyrells have to be controlled, for one, and the remaining Baratheon loyalists, too, as they are rallying behind Stannis' girl as the last Baratheon heir. There remain murmurs of unrest even in the North, something Jon should be aware of, where certain of the most loyal bannerman to the Starks feel that the taste of freedom they experienced under Robb Stark's ill-fated reign as King in the North was more palatable than they might have expected, and Rickon does have a look of Robb, after all, direwolf and all.
Sansa, Tyrion knows, kept those lords who would dare to whisper of treason against the Dragon Queen firmly under her thumb while in Winterfell, and while in the Eyrie and Riverrun, but to manage them from King's Landing would be a feat beyond even his formidable wife.
He does his best to assuage Jon's fears, promising that Daenerys will not lift a hand against Sansa, one of her most devoted subjects, who championed the Targaryen cause with all the lords now under her regency, and the young Lord Commander seems put at ease, at least to some degree.
Sansa invites him to dine with her later that night. If not for their vows, it would be improper for him to be alone with her. He wonders if there are any in King's Landing who would readily remember their marriage, decides not, then decides he doesn't care regardless.
She has changed her gown, now wearing soft, pale blue trimmed with cream. Arryn colours, missing only the falcon. She wears them well, her hair a vibrant contrast to the gentle colours of the wool.
He, too, has changed, deciding that his dusty breeches and doublet from earlier were inappropriate for dining with his lady wife for the first time in three years. He reprimands himself for being vain, but Sansa's behaviour earlier had shown her desire for something other than an annulment – even if it only his friendship that she requires, it is something he will gladly offer her in the hope of lessening the ache of what his family did to hers.
It is not just friendship she desires, it would seem.
For the first time since her arrival at King's Landing, Tyrion is privy to a glimpse of the girl he married. Sansa has difficulty in finding the words to describe her reasons to avoid marrying one of the young lords so desperate for her hand, can explain only haltingly how afraid she remains of the marriage bed, her fears worsened by her time under Littlefinger's less-than-delicate hand.
He is astonished that she is being so open with him, that she would chose him as her confidant, but she shrugs it off as though it were nothing – who else can she turn to, if not her husband?
Tyrion very pointedly suggests her brother, but Sansa laughs at the idea and tells him precisely how Jon would react if he knew even half of what happened her in the Vale. Then she teases him that perhaps she should speak with Rickon, eight years old and far away in Sunspear, and Tyrion wants to curse again, as he did in the library. He is uncomfortable with her ease in switching her moods, and again wonders if perhaps there is some ulterior motive to her bringing him here. Does she regard him as no better than the rest of his family, irrespective of the Queen's opinions, and wish to kill him to personally avenge all the wrongs that befell her family?
But of course not. Sansa is and always will be a gentle soul, despite her military record. The only deaths she ordered in the North were those of the Greyjoys and the Boltons, because it was they personally who raped and pillaged and destroyed in her homeland. Despite the impression Daenerys gave to the court, Sansa did not lead the military conquest in the North. She already had the Vale wrapped around her little finger, and the North was only too willing to rise at her behest. The Riverlands were the same, deliriously happy to follow the woman who was, to their knowledge, the last heir of their beloved Lord Hoster.
But Sansa did not ride in the van, nor indeed in any part of her host which saw combat – Tyrion had advised Daenerys to leave a member of her Queensguard with her ally, and so the younger of the Waynwoods had been given a white cloak and named as Sansa's guard. She had been safely away from the danger, only there as a figure to whom the Northmen and Rivermen could rally, an authority figure to see Daenerys' plans through to fruition.
She was injured in the siege of Riverrun, he knows, an arrow to the shoulder, but she freely admits that it was her own temper and inexperience which made her slip past her guards and climb to the battlements, bow in hand, where she was shot, that she should have been tucked safely away in the solar which had been her grandfather's.
There are many who liken their beloved Wolf-Bitch to the Dragon Queen, but Tyrion wonders if Sansa is not maybe more like Cersei, or what Cersei might have been had she not grown twisted and mad in her lust for power. Sansa understands the necessity of subterfuge, the power of a back-handed compliment or a pointed observation, in a way Daenerys never will, in a way Cersei perfected, but rather than seeking power as Cersei did, Sansa uses her skill – doubtlessly an innate talent, honed by Littlefinger's tutelage – to maintain the status quo and to consolidate Daenerys' power, because Daenerys' is their best hope for peace.
There seems to be no malice in her this evening, none at all, and she meets his eyes in a way she never did while they lived as man and wife. Still, he presses her to discover why he, of all people, is the one she trusts with this.
"Because you were kind to me when no one else was, my lord, and because I understand that I am at your mercy if I wish to keep even a shadow of my reputation intact."
And he is abruptly saddened for her, because under the political skill and the formidable reputation, Sansa is still just a girl, one who has been used and abused in so many ways.
Assured that Sansa does not regard him with any great animosity, Tyrion returns to court. He remains surprised even after a week of her seeking out his company at dinner.
One night, while sitting between Sansa and Daenerys and telling them about the positively scandalous nocturnal activities of Lord Willas Tyrell and one of the Tarly girls, he realises that this is something that would never have been accepted at court before.
Robert had been close to Jon Arryn before his death, of course, but they'd never gossiped like this, never shared sordid knowledge of the petty goings-on of the court. The King (or Queen) and the Hand must, by necessity, trust one another, but socialising is somewhat beyond the bounds of their relationships.
Tyrion finds that without the pressure of leading an army, Daenerys is quite charming.
Sansa is proving to be surprisingly well informed of the comings and goings of the court – better than Tyrion is, better than Daenerys could ever hope to be. She knows more about the illicit Tyrell-Tarly tryst than he does, but allows him to give Daenerys the bones of the story before augmenting it with useful little details, such as the copious amounts of moon tea the Tarly girl was drinking three days ago.
Daenerys, he can see, is suitably impressed. He begins to wonder if Sansa might be suited to a place on the small council as something other than Warden Regent of the North – Varys remained in Pentos, after all, and much happens around the realm that escapes Daenerys' notice. She could do with a master of whispers, and Sansa's apparent approachability is something which could play to the Queen's advantage.
Tyrion's informants have been sharing rumours of an uprising being planned in the Reach, led by Willas Tyrell's more impulsive younger brother, but he's quietly confident that this information of his and Sansa's will put an end to that very soon.
It gives him great pleasure to reveal to her that her uncle, Lord Edmure Tully, and his wife and son are alive and reasonably well – they were found among the disquieting number of noble prisoners kept deep within the upper levels of Casterly Rock.
She wavers for a moment before restoring her perfect mask of courtesy and thanks him effusively for returning another little piece of her family to her.
Tyrion knows, from the conversations he and Sansa have during their walks along the walls of the keep, that she is fully aware of the growing discomfort of many of their peers at their new-found closeness.
They are simply too powerful together. He is the Queen's Hand and Lord of Casterly Rock, and everyone knows that the West will always rally to the Rock, regardless of who sits as Warden. She is fast becoming the Queen's closest friend, grew up as sister to the Queen's nephew, who is Lord Commander of the once-more respectable Night's Watch, and she is Lady Regent of over half the realm. Between them, they have more power than any other two people in the Seven Kingdoms, aside from Daenerys and Aegon – and the suspicion that is steadily being heaped on them will only worsen when people remember that they're married.
Daenerys, Aegon and Jon are all either blissfully unaware of the resentment borne to their most powerful vassals or defiantly ignoring it.
Still, it is easy to ignore the murmurs of dissent that seem to follow them on their walks when Sansa is such excellent company and has so many sensible suggestions for the governance of the realm.
One day, she tells him that she wonders if he might present a suggestion to the Queen on her behalf – she thinks Bronze Yohn Royce would make an excellent Warden of the East, Protector of the Vale and Lord of the Eyrie, and perhaps he could bring the idea to the small council?
He laughs in her face, tells her to mention it to Daenerys herself, and she smiles and asks if it would not be better coming from the Hand than from a woman who has comparatively little political power.
He laughs again, and this time she joins him, because she's fully aware of her own power. She later admits that she still wants him to present the idea of the Royces being elevated to the Eyrie, because she knows that there are many on the small council who resent her and the power that is hers as Rickon's regent.
When he asks how she knows this, her eyes alight with a secretive gleam, and she tells him that she has little birds everywhere.
When Tyrion sees Sansa and Daenerys shooting in the practice yard the day Sansa's shoulder is deemed healed by the maesters, he can't help but think that Sansa is an idiot.
She's worked so hard to cultivate an image of gentle femininity since her arrival at King's Landing, to create an aura of quiet strength that has drawn in more people wishing for her friendship than her reputation should have allowed, and here she is, ruining it in a single morning's work.
It's one thing for Daenerys to be here in the yard. She's the fabled Mother of Dragons, a khaleesi before she was a queen, leader of a vast army and rider of dragons. She is often to be found there, practicing with her bloodriders and with Grey Worm, and it is acceptable because it only lends itself to her mystique.
Sansa has carefully built herself up as Daenerys' complimentary other half with the lords and ladies of the court, the traditional high-born lady to balance the Queen's foreign ways, to educate Daenerys in the ways of Westerosi nobility, because she's too stubborn to listen to anyone else who would be of any use to her.
While he admits that the strength and skill Sansa is showing becomes her, and is a fitting tribute to the trials she has come through since she fled King's Landing all those years ago, it is still bordering on the inappropriate if only because it is not her, not as most of the court sees her. It is the woman who led the Vale and the North against the Westerlanders in the Riverlands who stands beside Daenerys, not the gentle lady who sneaks sweets to the children about court when their parents and septas aren't looking.
To survive, to ensure her safety, Sansa would be better off wearing the face of the gentle lady at all times when there are watchful eyes, but perhaps she has some strategy to which he is not privy that involves portraying herself as a wildling princess to match with Daenerys' warrior queen.
Jon Snow seems to be enjoying the show though, is happy to see his sister (because regardless of their relationship before, regardless of who Jon's parents were, he will forever see Sansa as his sister, forever watch her in Robb Stark's honour) and his aunt happy, and so Tyrion leaves him too it with only a quip about the wildlings taking an interest in Sansa.
Tommen and Myrcella's letters are always a joy, a welcome respite from the stresses of court – stresses exacerbated by Sansa's presence and the constant need to decode her every move and motive.
Tommen writes of the army of kittens he has somehow acquired since arriving at Casterly Rock, of his new friends – he never had many friends in King's Landing, mainly because Cersei thought it improper for a prince to mingle with lower-born children – and of how much he enjoys living at the Rock and visiting Lannisport. Tyrion is sure he has never heard his nephew happier.
Myrcella is more subdued – she writes of her sweet maid, Joy Hill (Tyrion's bastard cousin, something he thinks Myrcella might not be aware of), of the girls her own age that she has met, of looking after Tommen. She sometimes makes mention of some new hairstyle she is trying, the better to disguise the remnant of her ear, and Tyrion always does his best to assure her that she is still lovely, still fair.
He adopted Myrcella and Tommen, pleading with Daenerys for their lives – in part because they are Jaime's children, and he still has some lingering loyalty to his brother, and in part because he has always loved them for their own sakes. He knew even then that there are many who feel that the world would be better off without bastards born of the incest between the Kingslayer and his mad twin, but Tyrion is always sure to remind those naysayers that their beloved queen is the product of generations of incest.
Still, Myrcella's continued fretting over her scars has him worried – he was used to being ugly, and becoming uglier had been little enough concern to him. Myrcella had been used to being one of the prettiest girls in the Seven Kingdoms, and now…
If he is totally honest, he feels that everyone overstates the severity of her disfigurement. She's still a pretty little thing, with Lannister hair and eyes like Jaime's, like Cersei's, green and bright with life. Other than the ragged pinkish-purple line cutting from her nose to what is left of her ear, she is still as beautiful as she ever was, perhaps more so because of the quietness that comes from her shyness.
He breaks his fast with Sansa two or three mornings a week now, and he raises the subject with her – he wonders if she might have some insight into the workings of Myrcella's mind, some little morsel of advice he could pass on to lighten the burden she feels herself to be under.
Sansa considers his question for a long while, sipping on the sweetened lemon juice she drinks rather than wine or honeyed milk in the mornings, and then asks him if he has thought of perhaps relating some of his own experiences to her – she means no offence, she assures him, but surely his stature resulted in him being bullied while growing up?
He is surprised that he hadn't thought of it himself, but he had considered his own experiences to be vastly different to Myrcella's, so far as to be totally alien to the girl. His came from his height, his ugly face, his stunted legs and the resultant waddle to his walk, his mismatched eyes, the knowledge that had he been born without the name Lannister he would have been left out for the wolves – any unkindness Myrcella experiences comes from idiots who think themselves amusing, who think that the mark of her journey is something she should be ashamed of.
When he says as much to Sansa, she smiles, sips her lemon juice and asks him if he has thought of telling Myrcella that, and he thinks that his wife is a very clever woman indeed.
They get away with their little subterfuge for a month, and then someone mentions to Prince Aegon that Lady Sansa has been married before, and his pursuit of her may be complicated by that husband – namely Tyrion.
Aegon raises the matter at a council meeting, his tone light and his smile teasing, but there is something in those haunting violet eyes that reminds Tyrion more of Jon Connington than any myth of Rhaegar Targaryen he ever heard. Someone comments that Tyrion will surely not begrudge the prince his former lady, raising a laugh from the council, and his temper flares.
There is an implication in the jape that Sansa is something to be passed about, shared out as the menfolk see fit, and that she might be passed into better ownership than Tyrion's. The thought of anyone controlling Sansa like that makes his blood boil – these men don't seem to realise that the way they barter women for lands and titles and gold makes them little better than the slavers of Yunkai. He knows that he himself was once just the same, that he sold Myrcella's hand for Dornish peace, but being sold himself – first to bind Winterfell to the Lannister cause, then to the Yellow Whale – has changed his perspective on many things.
Whoever spread the word that his and Sansa's marriage is no more – and he will find out who it was – will rue their loose tongue, and Tyrion hints as much when he points out that his and Sansa's marriage still stands, that they have no intention of dissolving it, that Sansa is his and he will stand against any who would say otherwise.
His personal fury aside, only Littlefinger ever sought to end their marriage, and so even the High Septon must agree that soon, they will be celebrating their third wedding anniversary. He can practically taste the mounting fear as the council realises that his and Sansa's marriage ties together the Westerlands, the North, the Vale and the Riverlands, that together they could destroy Daenerys' hard-won peace, that together they are more powerful than the Tyrells could ever hope to be.
Seeing the frown settling on Willas Tyrell's clever face, Tyrion thinks that perhaps it is beyond time that he suggests Margaery Tyrell as a bride for Aegon.
Daenerys is the only one to ask if Tyrion and Sansa actually wish to remain man and wife, and he almost laughs at the chorus of surprise when he tells her that yes, yes they do, that they wish to wait and see how their relationship develops.
He jests that only a fool would turn away Sansa, the fairest woman in Westeros, when he had a face like his, and he takes his leave with a mocking bow.
He is barely at the door when Jon Snow begins to laugh.
His nightmares have changed since returning to King's Landing, and not for the better.
He no longer sees his father's ghost, which is something of a relief – instead, Cersei and Jaime haunt him with rotting faces and reaching hands. Sometimes they are reaching for his throat, but more often it is Tommen and Myrcella they seek, trying to claim their children from him, Cersei screeching and raging, her voice a sour mess because her throat is half-rotted away.
Sometimes, more often than he would like, his golden-haired, green-eyed niece twists into someone else, someone taller, more beautiful, auburn of hair and Tully blue of eye. Sansa's face twists in horror as Cersei's hands tighten around her neck, as the life is choked from her and those smiling eyes grow dull, and Tyrion wonders if those are not the worst nightmares – Sansa, Myrcella and Tommen are the few good things that came from his family's madness and depravity, and the thoughts of losing them make him queasy.
The mornings after he has those nightmares, he is always sure to bring some lemon cakes to the morning meal with Sansa.
There is always some Westerlander or other with a complaint for him, who feels that the crown is taking too much in penance, that there should be better protection in place for those who served Lord Tywin and House Lannister faithfully for years. Every day, Tyrion is forced to spend most of the afternoon in his study, writing responses to the ravens that flood the rookery for him every morning.
Somewhere after the incident at council, Sansa begins to sit with him.
He sits on a bench at his table, a high one with an ornately carved back, richly padded in velvet of Lannister crimson, and he arrives on day to find Sansa there before him, her long legs up on the seat, bent at the knees to leave a space just right for him at her feet.
He smiles, shakes his head, and climbs the steps up to his place. She doesn't acknowledge his presence, but he can see the grin tugging at her lips.
She, too, has a stack of letters that demand response, lords of Vale and Riverlands and North all begging her attention – from the Iron Islands, too, where she appointed the Reader of Harlaw as her castellan, enraging the lords of Pyke with her presumption. She writes leaning against a painted wooden box and sets aside her letters as she finishes them, ready for them all to be sealed in one go. She uses white wax and a direwolf seal, subtly different to her father's – the wolf dances rather than races across its field, and he can't help but think how well suited to Sansa it is.
Still, the first days she spent at work with him were odd. He wondered if she expected conversation or council at first, but she seemed as comfortable in silence as he was. So they sat on the bench, scratching away at sheaves of parchment until it was time for dinner, at which point they usually moved to the dining table in the solar if they do not have prior engagements.
It is during this time that they begin to become comfortable together, Tyrion thinks. Sansa often comments aloud on some of the more absurd demands of her bannermen, and Tyrion is surprised to find that sometimes she is quite witty, but that she is always clever is no surprise – she is Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully's daughter, after all.
The first time she touches him for no apparent reason startles him – she is walking behind the bench, returning from the privy, and she runs her fingers through his hair. He wonders at first if there is some hidden agenda, but when she returns to her seat and behaves as if nothing has happened, he dares to hope that it was affection that moved her to act.
The touches become more frequent after that, her fingers in his hair, her hand resting on his shoulder when she leans over to look at something, her feet in his lap. He finds himself tucking her hair behind her ear, absentmindedly rubbing her ankles as he works, adjusting her skirts when they are preparing to leave for council meetings. It is oddly domestic, he thinks, especially considering she still retains her rooms in the keep proper, while he remains in the Tower of the Hand.
When she arrives from a morning of sewing with the Queen and her ladies, full of amusing anecdotes of Daenerys' misadventures with needle and thread, and presents him with a newly-made shirt, he thanks her and kisses her cheek, but he worries at how easily she has slipped into the role of wife – he worries constantly at how well-adjusted she seems, how composed and flawlessly mannered she is at all times.
He wonders what her breaking point will be.
Some days later, Sansa fails to arrive in his study as she usually does after the midday meal.
He pays it little mind – some days she is late, although she usually sends word with pretty Jeyne Westerling or the mercurial Mya Stone. When she fails to appear for dinner, however, he begins to worry.
He makes his way to her rooms and is admitted by a relieved Lady Westerling, who ushers him into Sansa's bedchamber and then steps back, closing the door behind her. The room smells of lavender and roses, and there is a faint hint of something else – rosemary, he thinks – and he realises that this is what he assumed to be a scent Sansa wore.
The bed is in disarray, and he realises that she has been having nightmares. His own bedding is similarly tangled most mornings when he awakes, after all.
He says nothing but takes no trouble to keep his passage through the room quiet – he is unsure what words would be appropriate, although he knows that to jape would be to risk hurting Sansa. Instead, he sits beside the mound in the blankets that can only be her and waits.
It takes longer than he'd hoped – almost an hour – but eventually, she pokes her head out from under the covers. Her eyes are puffy and red, her hair a shambles, but he thinks that he has never seen anything so raw and beautiful as her in that moment, stripped of all her careful manners and the queer, glazed light in her eyes that he thinks comes from her time in the Vale, where she had to forget who she was.
She blinks at him owlishly for a moment, as if confused by his presence, but before he can question anything she has her arms around him, her face pressed into the crook of his neck, babbling frantically about nightmares, about Petyr and something Jon asked and Petyr Petyr Petyr, and there is a muddled sequence of father and I did not want that and I did not want to kill him and he made me he made me he made me and then, as her shoulders stop shaking and her breathing evens out, she whispers in a voice so venomous he thinks that Cersei would have been proud: I hate him.
All he can think to do is to stroke her hair and murmur nonsense words, meaningless comforts, to try and calm her. He feels for her, truly he does, but at the same time he is relieved that he was the one to find her like this. It is a weakness that she cannot afford to show, not now that everything is falling into place.
He coaxes her to pull on a robe, to come out of her room and allow Jeyne Westerling to comb out her hair while Mya Stone fixes her bedding. Jeyne suggests that perhaps Lord and Lady Lannister might like to eat something, and Tyrion takes the hairbrush from her when she runs off to ask for food to be sent up.
Sansa's hair is softer than he expected, even mussed as it is, and heavier, too – he thinks that he may now understand why she no longer wears her hair piled atop her head every day. She sighs quietly as he reaches the end of her hair, and he japes that he was made for just such a post as this. She murmurs some tired little reply and says that he should try working the kinks out of her neck before he claims any true skill as a handmaiden.
So he does – her muscles are tight, tense, but his fingers are strong and soon her head is lolling forwards. She makes the strangest little noises, little mewls of what he hopes are pleasure, and she does not even seem to care who sees because she makes no move to stop him when Jeyne returns.
She orders her women away then, tells them that she will be safe with her lord husband and that they have the rest of the night off. Tyrion sits opposite her at the dining table and makes no comment as a servant sets plates of meat and fruit in front of them, waiting for her to speak.
She says nothing at all though, sipping her wine and picking at her fruit in silence. It is not until he rises to leave and bids her goodnight that she finds her voice.
"Please, Tyrion – stay."
And so they share a bed for the first time in years.
He wakes the following morning wrapped in Sansa – her hair is everywhere, spread out across pillows and covers and the two of them, those long, slender arms and legs curled about him. She is warm and soft and smells of lavender and roses and rosemary, and he could quite easily get used to waking wrapped in her every day.
But not today – today, Sansa begins her preparations to take a place on the small council, and he wonders if perhaps he should find a goldsmith. A filigree ring would look well on one of Sansa's long, elegant fingers.
Sansa's appointment to the small council draws grumbles from those members who still feel that she is unacceptably powerful, not only because of the lands under her regency but also because of her new post – lady of whispers.
Neither Tyrion nor Sansa herself pay much attention to the grumbles, though, preoccupied with reports of dissent from the Reach and the Iron Islands as they are.
It is a week later when they stand before court again, accepting Daenerys' thanks for foiling a treason, and Tyrion wonders if anyone else will notice the fierce gleam of pride in Sansa's eyes.
The night after Doran Martell and Willas Tyrell put forward their arguments as to why the crown should annul Sansa and Tyrion's marriage, she is so lost in fury that she hurls a beautiful crystal vase at the wall of her solar, smashing it into a thousand glittering shards.
He sits back and watches her as she strides up and down the floor, raging and fuming and vowing that she will not allow this insult to go unanswered, that-
He holds out a cup of wine, and she contemplates him for a moment before sitting heavily at his side and leaning her head on his shoulder. He chuckles under his breath, drawing her closer and pressing a kiss to her hair as she kept on cursing the Martells and Tyrells, but quietly.
When she kisses him, it takes him quite by surprise, but he chooses to enjoy the moment rather than object.
He is not, after all, a fool.
Sansa seems oddly listless when Jon Snow leaves for the Wall, but Myrcella and Tommen's arrival from Casterly Rock breathes new life into her.
She dotes on Tommen, who is of an age with her brother Bran, and she and Myrcella seem to grow close instantaneously – when he mentions it in passing to Myrcella over luncheon one day, she shrugs it off as nothing and says only that Sansa has always been very sweet.
Tyrion makes no mention of the Karstarks' calls for Tommen's blood and neither does Sansa, and when he sees his niece and nephew dancing at the feast later that week – he makes a note to keep a careful eye on the young Lord of Starfall, so handsome and gentle that Myrcella seems quite smitten – he vows that no one will ever lay a finger on either of them.
Watching as Sansa twirls past in Ronnet Connington's arms, he extends his vow to include her, too.
He arrives back to his rooms one afternoon to find a handful of maids ferrying armfuls of gowns into the second dressing room off the bedchamber, and turns right back around to go in search of Sansa.
She is sitting in the gardens with Myrcella and Tommen and Edric Dayne, and there is a plate piled high with lemon cakes and strawberry tarts on the table between them.
The conversation turns to Arya while Tyrion watches, and he is stunned to learn that Sansa knows where her sister is – he learns that Arya is in Braavos, working as an informant for the network Sansa is now part of, which stretches to Pentos and Varys and possibly beyond.
He wonders later why he is so surprised – he should have known that Sansa would not rest until she found some word of her sister.
It turns out that Sansa has volunteered her rooms to host her uncle and his family when he arrives in the city, and that she has no intention of taking other rooms in the Keep proper when Tyrion's chambers in the Tower of the Hand are so pleasant.
He supposes that they are – work had begun on the new Tower when the Targaryens took King's Landing, but he'd had what building had been completed torn down and replaced with something more to his liking – shallower steps, bigger windows, solid walls with no hidden passages.
He supposes that it makes sense that Sansa would like it more than the Keep – it is like something out of the songs she so loved, airy and bright and beautiful like the castles she'd envisioned when she was a girl in Winterfell.
It is good to see her smile when she settles herself on the window seat of his solar with her sewing while he teaches Tommen and Myrcella to play cyvasse. He feels almost as though they are a family.
Edmure Tully vaults down off his horse and sweeps Sansa into a hug so tight her feet lift off the ground. He sets her down and takes her face in his hands and tells her that she is the image of her mother, and then he kisses her forehead before turning to help his pretty little Frey wife down from her litter.
Their son is just two years old, a Tully but for his dark eyes. Lady Roslin is shy and polite, and seems to take instantly to Sansa – but Tyrion sees the glimmer of distaste in his wife's eyes for Roslin Frey Tully, an echo of the distaste in Edmure Tully's eyes for him.
Sansa's uncle makes no effort to hide his dislike for Tyrion, and she notices – that first night, when they dine in his solar, Tyrion is surprised to find her rising to his defence when Edmure makes some disparaging comment or other.
It makes it all that much easier to loathe Edmure Tully when he drives Sansa to tears the night before the tourney. She has regained her composure by the time he and Aegon reach Daenerys' rooms, but as soon as they return to the Tower of the Hand she breaks down, barely able to make it to their bedchamber before her tears completely overcome her.
He attempts to comfort her, but she twists in his arms and kisses him feverishly, desperately, whispering over and over again-
"Help me forget him, make me forget him."
She accepts Edmure's apology the next morning, and the flurry of activity that is the tourney and the mess of Loras Tyrell's suicide attempt is enough to prevent them from discussing what occurred between them the night before.
He only prays that she does not regret it.
It is four days before they do find the time to speak of it, and she touches his face with the gentlest of pressure and smiles, and something that tastes like relief rises up in his stomach.
They spend the next three months learning to live as man and wife.
Tyrion is hugely amused to discover that Sansa, despite all her political savvy, has about as much skill in running a household as he would at sewing
She is a wonderful companion though, and they spend more time discussing anything at all that occurs to them, from the cultures he saw during his time in the east to the architecture of the Eyrie. Tommen and Myrcella worship her, Myrcella following her around whenever she is not at council, Tommen listening to her and only her when something needs doing.
He notices that she is with child before she tells him, and he thinks that perhaps she was waiting for him to work it out himself before she broke the news. He is equal parts terrified and elated, because on top of all the normal concerns about carrying and delivering a child, they must worry that the babe will be like him.
They are in the garden when she tells him, him leaning back against one of the trees and she lying with her head in his lap, and when he expresses his worries she smiles up serenely and tells him that none of that matters, only that the child is theirs.
They dine with the three Targaryens the night before Aegon's wedding to Margaery Tyrell, and they are the perfect guests. They discussed telling the Queen that Sansa is with child but decided to wait until after the royal wedding so as not to take away from Aegon's joy.
He regrets this decision the following night, when he finds Sansa with the maesters having her forehead sewn shut after stabbing a Braavosi assassin trying to kill Daenerys. He is beyond furious that she would risk herself and the child with the heroics he has heard tell of, but she points out that had she not stabbed the man he would likely have killed her and the baby anyway.
That does not take away from the gut-wrenching fear he'd experienced when someone had said the words Lady Sansa in the same breath as assassin.
Sansa takes to motherhood even before the child is born, skipping about the Keep as if her stomach is not so large that she cannot see her feet. She glows, and he does not think he will ever see someone as happy as she in the quiet moments when she sits on the window seat with her arms around her belly, singing softly to the babe.
Myrcella and Tommen are delighted by the thought of a cousin, and Aegon – no longer staring after Sansa with longing eyes – and the lovely Margaery are eager to help in any way they can.
Even proud Edmure Tully makes his peace with Tyrion for Sansa's sake, and soon Lady Roslin is sitting with Sansa and Margaery every day.
Daenerys, though, watches Sansa and her ever-growing belly with something that might be jealousy, if Tyrion were forced to put a name on it.
She is with the Queen when the birthing pains hit her, the Queen and Margaery Tyrell and Roslin Tully and a handful of other women, and he is out in the city on Hand's duty.
She is in the birthing bed by the time he returns, and it falls to him to keep Myrcella and Tommen away from the Tower of the Hand. He sets them up at a game of cyvasse in Aegon's solar and frets as they play. He cannot help but fear – his own mother died bringing him into the world, after all, and he knows that while Sansa says it does not matter she does not truly want a dwarf.
It is almost two days before Lady Roslin comes for him and offers to stay with his niece and nephew while he goes to his wife.
Gerion Lannister has hair that is neither entirely Tully red nor fully Lannister blonde and eyes as blue as her mother's. Sansa is nursing him when Tyrion enters their chambers, her hair scraped back from her face and held in place with a scrap of ribbon, her eyes heavy with fatigue, her cheeks pale.
But she smiles, she smiles and beckons him closer, and Tyrion looks at her and their son and he thinks that this is what true happiness must be.
The happiness is short-lived when one of the seemingly endless stream of assassins finally gets past Daenerys' army of guards.
The Queen dies quietly, a length of silken thread around her pale neck and nary a drop of blood. The small council descends into madness, and it takes all of Tyrion's considerable skill to keep them from fracturing apart into warring factions.
Aegon rages in his grief, vowing vengeance and citing his House's words, but Margaery calms him with a whisper and he falls into her arms, weeping into her shoulder.
Jon flies down from the Wall alone, leaving even Ghost behind him. Sansa goes to him with only Gerion, and when they emerge from his rooms some hours later his face is shiny with tears but he seems less unsettled than he had when he arrived.
The funeral is a magnificent occasion. Daenerys lies in state for three days, dressed in black and scarlet with bells in her hair. Jon and Aegon stand vigil for her the whole time, taking turns to sleep when exhaustion claims them. The entire city comes out to line the streets and to fill the square before the Great Sept, and a current of shocked whispers runs through them when Jon, Aegon, Ser Barristan and Daenerys' bloodriders carry her out of the sept and lay her on the pyre.
The day after Aegon's coronation and the announcement that Queen Margaery is carrying his heir, Jon returns to the Wall. Before he leaves, he and Sansa have another of those hours-long conversations in his rooms.
When he asks her what they spoke of, Sansa looks at Tyrion over Gerion's head and smiles. She says that Jon needed to remember that while the dead have no peace at the Wall, Daenerys will rest in peace until he can join her.
When she shifts her hold on their son so she can open her gown and feed him, Tyrion wonders when Sansa Stark became so wise.