Fifth and last part.
She always went to the godswood late in the evening. During the day, she tried to stay in her chambers as much as possible. This way, she had fewer chances to come upon Joffrey. The Lannisters may keep the king away from the Tower of the Hand where she now lived, but they didn't keep him away from her elsewhere in the castle. As a result, she left her rooms when it was dark, and Joffrey was most likely sleeping. The Red Keep wasn't as busy as during the day.
Even though she was well settled into the Tower of the Hand, she was still afraid of Joffrey. Lady Margaery's refusal to see her had also left her worried, not only for the lady's state but also for her own safety. When she heard the Lady of Casterly Rock had come back, she tried to see her. She wanted to offer her condolences, and also to talk with her, but the man who announced Sansa came back saying that Lady Lannister didn't wish to see anybody.
Sansa couldn't believe Ser Loras was dead. The word had gotten around the Red Keep a few days ago. Sansa had thought she would marry him, or at least she thought this was what Lord Tyrion had tried to tell her. Now the Knight of Flowers was gone, and she was still Joffrey's betrothed. All the people she loved were dying.
The corridors were almost empty. She didn't meet anyone on her way to the godswood. It happened often. She had learned to go through passages and ways that were used by few people. This night, however, she felt something was different. The silence that reigned everywhere was heavier than usual, as if something was about to happen. Maybe it was the coming of Stannis. People were afraid of what would happen if the Red Keep fell. Sansa hoped Stannis would win the battle. She would be free of Joffrey. Stannis Baratheon couldn't be any worse than his supposed nephew and her family was fighting for him. She would be free.
Her steps echoed on the walls, the roofs and the floors of the castle. She tried to make as little noise as she could, like always, but there seemed to be no point to it. The sound travelled from one end of the Red Keep to the other, she was sure of it. She feared that Joffrey might hide behind any corner.
Luckily enough, she met no human being before she arrived to her destination, and she had no surprise when she saw who was waiting for her. Right before the entrance of the godswood, Mira was standing, a troch in hand like every evening. The two girls always met outside the godswood then walked in to pray together.
"Are you well tonight?"
"Yes, I am. What about you?"
Mira inhaled sharply before she answered. The skies were filled with clouds that prevented the moon from casting its light upon the world. As they progressed through the godswood, Mira's torch was the only source of light and heat. Despite the yellow glow, Sansa thought Mira was paler than usual.
"How is Lady Margaery?" Sansa asked. "I tried to see her today, but she wouldn't receive me."
"She's not receiving anyone. She was there this evening when I prepared her bed for the night, and she didn't say a word. She had a huge fight with Lord Tyrion earlier today," she added after a moment.
"I didn't know."
"Her brother just died. It's very hard for her," Mira explained.
Sansa had lost her father, so she understood that Lady Margaery would want to be alone. She hadn't been much better after her father's death. She thought of Bran and Rickon, and a chill went down her spine. They had no news from them. All she knew was that a small army had gathered around Winterfell and laid siege on her home and Theon's men, but their fate still remained unknown.
"I will pray for her," Sansa said. "Is there anything I can do for Lady Margaery?"
"I don't know. I feel powerless. She and Lord Tyrion never had a quarrel like this before. I never saw her in such a state."
"She was close to Ser Loras?"
"Very close. Ser Loras was her only brother. She didn't have other siblings. It's already difficult to lose a brother or a sister, but when you lose the only one you have… I can't imagine what she's going through."
"I met Ser Loras once. During the tourney. He was very kind." He gave me a red rose while he gave white roses to all the other ladies.
"Yes, he was," Mira confirmed.
"Did you know him well?" Sansa was curious to know more about the handsome knight she might have married.
"Not very much, truth be told. Lady Margaery often talked about him, but we seldom spoke. He wasn't among the people I spent time with in Highgarden."
"Why? You are Lady Margaery's handmaiden."
"Well, that's the point. Loras Tyrell spent his time training in the yards of Highgarden with the other knights and squires. He wasn't speaking much with his sister's servants, less with me than with the others."
"Why is that?"
"Let's just say that I didn't appreciate Ser Loras as much as I like Lady Margaery. I spent more time with Willas."
Sansa could understand. Willas Tyrell was Lady Mira's betrothed. It was normal that she spent most of her time with him when she wasn't attending Lady Margaery.
"Still, I can't believe he's gone," Mira said.
"Me neither." She had hoped and dreamed about marrying Ser Loras. She whispered his name at night. He was the man who would free her from Joffrey. Then the news of his death came, and all her hopes were crushed.
"We never know when someone could die. It always catches us by surprise at the moment we expect it the less. Lady Margaery is completely destroyed. She always has a pleasant behaviour. She smiles to everyone, is kind to everyone, asks about their family and their friends and their health. Even when she doesn't feel well, she keeps her face straight and happy, to not worry the others and to not indispose them. Now she just hides in her rooms and she doesn't talk to anybody. She closes herself to the world. It never happened before."
They walked together for a moment and nothing was said. Sansa broke the silence. "I know what it feels like. You have the impression that the world is collapsing all around you, that nothing is worth living anymore. You just want to disappear, melt into the floor or drop yourself from the top of the tower. You want the person you love to come back or join her. You would give anything to get him back to you. All you want is for the pain to stop, but it won't. You can't stop it. All you can do is learn to live with it, to bear it on your shoulders every day."
"Do you miss him?" Mira asked.
"Yes, I do." She wished… she no longer knew what she should wish for. They had arrived before the weirwood tree.
"Sansa, do you feel sometimes that we shouldn't be here?"
"Why? Is it inappropriate to pray to the Old Gods?"
"No, not at all. I meant, here, in King's Landing. Sometimes I think I shouldn't have left my home. I wonder how things would be if I had stayed at Ironrath. Do you ever think about it?"
"It's useless to think about it," Sansa replied after a moment. "We cannot go back in the past."
Sometimes, Sansa would picture herself back to Winterfell, before the king visited, and she wished she could scream to herself, beg herself to not leave. Her life had been good at Winterfell. She was happy, surrounded by the people she loved. Why did she want to leave at all?
She looked at the weirwood tree. A light breeze caused the leaves to rustle, as if they wanted to tell her something. For a short time, she even imagined they were telling her something with Bran's voice, but Mira was the only person to speak to her right now.
"Sansa, I know you're afraid. I'm afraid me too."
"No one is going to hurt you here, Mira," she tried to reassure her.
"You really believe it?"
Sansa looked down. "No."
She knew very well no one was safe here, not with Joffrey. Mira was a Northerner. Not long ago, all the Northerners in King's Landing had been assassinated and their heads put on spikes. Joffrey forced her to look at each of them. Sansa didn't want this to arrive to Mira. Since she was a handmaiden of the Lady of Casterly Rock, Sansa supposed she was safe for the time being, but she knew better than to believe anyone was safe in this place.
Mira moved to stand before her and took her hands in hers. "Sansa, I know this is not easy, and I cannot assure you it will get better. We are at war. Who knows what might happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month. This war might last for years. I don't believe that's the kind of war that will be resolved in one battle. It could go wrong any time. I want you to know that if you ever need something, you only have to ask."
"Thank you, Mira."
"You can trust me, you know?"
"Yes, I know."
The truth was that Sansa couldn't trust anybody. She liked Mira and enjoyed her time with her, but she was still working for Lady Margaery, and Lady Margaery was a Lannister. In a place like King's Landing, you couldn't trust anybody.
Mira disappeared from her vision as well as the godswood. A strong hand was tackled against her mouth when she was going to yell for help. Another arm seized her by the hips.
"Everything will be fine, Sansa. Trust me."
Mira's voice pierced through the bag that was placed on her head. Whoever seized her was dragging her away. Sansa tried to get free but struggling quickly appeared to be futile. The man who took hold of her was too strong and wouldn't let her go. She tried to bite his hand, hoping this would allow her to shout, but the bag on her head and gloves were standing between her teeth and her captor's flesh.
Again, there was nothing she could do. The hand stifled any sound she tried to make. She was a prisoner. Joffrey must have heard of her conversations with Mira. Maybe she reported to him. She had been careful to never talk against him, to never complain about the king, but she expressed some feelings about her family that wouldn't please him.
Her heart was pounding in her chest. What would happen to her now? She should have been more careful, never said anything to Mira except for the courtesies Septa Mordane taught her. What was she thinking about? Did she think that only because she was a Northerner, she wouldn't report to Joffrey everything Sansa would tell her? She was his aunt's handmaiden.
Sansa allowed tears to fall as she was being carried away to Joffrey's chamber or the Throne Room. At some point, they went down stairs, which she found odd considering you only needed to climb stairs to leave the godswood and go to wherever she was expected. A familiar scent came to her nostrils, something she smelled when Princess Myrcella left King's Landing and they went to the harbor to see her leave. They had gone down quite a lot of stairs.
"That's her?" a voice asked.
"Yes," another voice, sweeter, close to her ear replied.
The bag on her head was roughly removed. A man wearing a full helmet and armor was looking at her. "It's her."
He put back the bag on her head and her world was surrounded by darkness once again. She felt herself being passed from one pair of arms to another.
"Come here. Don't say a word," a new voice said.
Her feet left the ground. Yes, it was a ground, not a floor. It wasn't marble or stone under her, but earth and rocks, judging by the sound it made, more similar to the ground in the courtyard of Winterfell than to the paved floors of the Red Keep.
She was positioned without ceremony on something that seemed to be a horse. She felt another weight behind her an instant later, and a new hand came again on her mouth. She hadn't dared to say anything, to make a single noise while she had been freed from the human gag. Now it was back, and it didn't make much difference. She heard several voices around her commanding their horses to move, and the mount on which she sat moved forward.
She found it strange that she was being brought somewhere out of the Red Keep. She had to be outside of it. There was no place in the castle like this, where you could ride horses on the ground.
Ever since her father died, she could never leave Maegor's Holfast except for a few special occasions like the princess' departure. Anyway, that wasn't as if Sansa would try to escape. She had nowhere to go, no matter where she was in King's Landing. Joffrey probably found a new way to make her miserable, something that involved getting her outside the Red Keep. Maybe he feared his uncle too much and wanted to give her a lesson somewhere he couldn't intervene.
They rode for a short time. Soon, Sansa heard other noises around her apart from the hooves of the horses. The people around her travelled in relative silence, without speaking. She heard voices, heavy things being moved, what seemed like other horses neighing. The silence of the night was no longer there. Had Joffrey gathered a crowd to humiliate her?
They stopped abruptly, and Sansa was taken down her horse. No hand gagged her anymore, but the bag was still in place. She was led by a somewhat gentler hand. Something was ruffled ahead of her.
"She's here, my lord."
Sansa steeled herself for what was to come. Whatever Joffrey prepared for her, she would face it. She wouldn't cry this time. The more she cried, the worse it got, for it encouraged him to torture her further.
"Maybe you could remove whatever it is you put on her head."
The voice puzzled her. It wasn't Joffrey's. The bag was pulled away and she found herself face to face with Tyrion Lannister.
"Lady Sansa, please forgive me for the unusual way in which you were brought here. I know this is no way to get an audience with a lady." He sighed. "We don't have much time, so I will be brief, my lady. We're leaving."
"Yes. To tell you a short version of the story, when Lady Margaery went to the Stormlands to speak with Renly Baratheon, she was accompanied by Ser Mandon Moore on the suggestion of my sister, the Queen Regent. There he killed my brother-in-law right in front of my wife, and a few seconds later he tried to do the same with her. He got killed before he could complete the work. Either Moore received the order from Cersei to kill Margaery, in this case I refuse to serve a king who was raised and prepared for the throne by her, either Joffrey gave the order and I refuse to serve someone who tried to have my wife murdered. So we're leaving."
Sansa was speechless. That was the last thing she expected. Before she could articulate any word in reply, before she could even think about something to reply, the Lord of Casterly Rock called someone named Ty.
"Ty, escort the Lady Sansa to her guards. They will make sure she is under heavy protection during our journey."
The young boy muttered a my lady. She was about to follow him when she found something to ask Lord Lannister. "Why are we leaving?"
He looked back straight at her. "It's quite simple, my lady. Joffrey and Cersei want the Iron Throne for themselves. Well, I leave it to them with joy, for whatever short time they will be able to keep it. As for me, I go back to Casterly Rock. And you're coming with us."
She followed Ty afterwards, still struggling to understand what was going on. She was led to a horse surrounded by many others mounted by Lannister knights, safe for one. He was mounted by a small boy with blond hair, struggling to hold onto his saddle. He was the boy who Sansa had reflected after her father's death that she wouldn't mind marrying him. Sansa climbed on the horse right next to Prince Tommen's mount. On her left stood the city walls. All around her, she realized, tents were being disassembled, carts were being loaded and men in red armor placed luggage on their horses before they climbed on it. She had seen the tents from a balcony recently, a large camp that hosted the army that would fight Stannis within a few days. Sansa understood they wouldn't fight Stannis anytime soon.
She was leaving King's Landing. Somehow, things changed.
And now everything changes. The fanfiction will definitely stop to follow the canon of the show. All that will happen from now on will be very different.
I must warn you that there won't be a new chapter before some time. My other fanfiction, "A Shadow and a Wolf", is almost over and I want to give one last push to write the last chapters in a roll. "A Rose and a Lion" will be back as soon as this is done. It should take about a month.
Next chapter : Cersei