A few weeks later
The Lady of Winterfell
The Northern party has departed from the castle of the Twins and are expected to arrive within one moon's turn.
Sansa Stark has received Maester Brennet's ravenseveral weeks ago, and the Lady anxiously awaited the arrival of the Northern prisoners.
Will they be broken? She found herself wondering one day, will their days and months and years in cells bend and bow them? She had shaken her head at that; no… I survived. I survived in my own cells, my cell in Kingslanding, my cell in Littlefinger's traps and his sly kisses, and my cell in my own castle, with a monster as my prison guard.
Sansa sighed, knowing the Littlefinger was still slithering around in her home, hiding in the shadows, scheming, lurking, waiting. Sansa Stark understood that she needed to be prepared, to do some waiting herself so she could anticipate whatever moves Baelish could make. He hasn't taken an interest in Bran, it seems, Sansa noted, recalling the events of the past weeks, perhaps my brother scared him off with his strange wisdom, Sansa proposed, smiling a little at that. He scared me, that's for sure. She shuddered then, still feeling immense discomfort at her brother's words to her after their conversation in Godswood.
"And you looked so beautiful… in your white wedding dress."
Shivers crawled up her spine. What has my brother become? Is my brother even in there anymore, or is he truly just the 'Three Eyed Raven' now?... whatever that means…
After Bran's-or the person who used to Bran's- return, Sansa constantly found herself wondering, wishing for Arya to return, despite having a strong feeling that her wild sister had long since died. But still… just imagining another family member, who was still somewhat the same and not a new, scary person, returning made Sansa feel happy, even if it was just momentary joy.
No! She would tell herself, it's naïve to believe Arya is alive! Old Sansa was silly, naïve and a dreamer, but not you. Yet, Sansa dreamed about Arya and her return regardless, wanting escape from Bran and Littlefinger and the stupid white walkers. Would I recognise her? Sansa doubted it, knowing that Arya would be a woman grown if still alive. Would she be different? The answer, to Sansa was obvious; yes. But how different, she didn't know.
After an entire day of listening to complaints, checking grain supplies, writing letter and observing the production of armour, Sansa found Brienne in the training yard. She had a question on her mind.
"Hello Brienne." Sansa greeted her companion, who had previously knocked Podrick Payne into the snow, repeatedly.
Brienne smiled in response, "My Lady."
"Do you remember telling me about the time you saw Arya?" Brienne nodded. "You said she was with someone… a man and that he hadn't hurt her. Who was he? You never said."
"I didn't tell you because I thought it would worry you… when I found you, you had gone through enough already." She sighed.
"I wish to know, Brienne."
Brienne paused, "It was the Hound."
That shocked Sansa; all that time, Sandor had been travelling with her wolf blooded little sister? However, Brienne was wrong. It didn't worry her.
"That doesn't worry me, Brienne." Sansa said, "Sandor Clegane, though rude and unpleasant, was probably one of the only honest people I ever met in Kingslanding. I was young and he frightened me so… but looking back, Sandor helped me a great deal. After the Battle of the Blackwater, he apparently decided to say 'fuck the King' straight to Joffrey's face and leave his service. After, he found me cowering in my chambers. He offered to take me with him, out of Kingslanding… I said no, telling him that Kingslanding was my home… I was so stupid, I regret not going with him."
"My Lady, you were a child." Brienne said sympathetically.
"Arya was younger than me, but she clearly had the sense to stay with him."
"You don't know that, My Lady."
Sansa nodded. "I'm just grateful that he had the chance to assist one of us."
On her way back to her chambers, Sansa stopped outside the Godswood. Normally, she avoided the place like the plague ever since her brother's return. What he had said to her, by the heart tree, his eyes cold, empty of compassion… or any emotion at all scared her, more than she liked to admit. But today, after her conversation with Brienne, Sansa felt different, optimistic…almost.
She felt her feet leading her through the trees of the Godswood, tugging her towards the place where she used to come every day, to pray for a prince to ride South with her or to play with Arya or Bran.
And, despite knowing that she would sound too much like her old self by saying so, Sansa quietly muttered, "Perhaps there is still some Bran left inside the person who looks like my brother."
Walking into the clearing, Sansa looked up to the branches that once were adorned with green leaves and had golden jets of sunlight shining through, lighting up the forest and creating an atmosphere of magic that she and her siblings loved. Now, the branches were boundlessly bare, and instead of golden beams of dancing light, icy flakes of snow dropped through. It was dark, and the once bright Godswood was now cloaked in grey and black shadows, with shades of blue streaked over the trees, giving the place a strange atmosphere. When she was a child, Sansa Stark would sometimes forget herself and run around in these woods with her siblings, and though she didn't always get along with some of her brothers and very rarely with her one wilful little sister, her memories of the Godswood were always bright and sunny. Today, if she ran in this place, she would trip. Games are for Summer children, she thought sadly, realising that so many children born in Winter amongst frost and ice and fear would never get the chance to feel so happy or so free as she once had.
Lost in her melancholy thoughts, Sansa had all but forgotten why she had braved to venture in the woods in the first place; Bran. Slowly casting her eyes downwards, she saw him, propped up against the Weirwood tree, below its carved face, his eyes an eerie milky white. She had seen her brother in a trance before, but that didn't stop the sight from unsettling her. Ignoring her discomfort, Sansa sat down and waited for her brother Bran to return.
When he finally returned, much to Sansa's dismay, Bran looked at her, a clear expression of shock on his face. She felt relieved at first, seeing some emotion on her brother's usually expressionless, cold face, but then she saw the utter horror in his eyes and the relief flooded away.
He said nothing.
"What did you see?"
For a moment, he continued his silence, before quickly responding with, "Just a vision from Kingslanding." And looking at his feet.
"Bran… I can tell you're lying. Please, we can talk about what you saw; I could help you!"
Bran looked at her again, an unreadable expression appearing on his face, and then he said, "I saw the Red Wedding."
Sansa winced, suddenly not wanting to hear anymore details of what happened at the Twins. Yet, despite the anguish she was feeling, she forced herself to find out more; perhaps I will find Bran.
"Tell me more, I… I want to know what the Freys did to them."
"No, you don't." He responded matter-of-factly, and Sansa felt almost silly for thinking the lie would just slip past her all-seeing brother.
"You don't want to know, but I'm going to show you."
At his words, Sansa felt immense panic sweep into her body, "No! Why-how? Bran… I don't want to-see… please, Bran! Just tell me!" She was pleading, but he didn't care.
"You would not believe me otherwise. You're scared of hope, Sansa. You're scared of being the girl who dreamed of princes and being queen and a life in the South."
Once again, his words rang true for Sansa, but all she could do was protest, "What hope Bran? Mother and Robb died there! What hope?"
Bran said nothing in response. Instead, he grabbed her wrist in a quick motion and before Sansa could protest, she was no longer in the Godswood. She wasn't in Winterfell either;
She and Bran were standing in a castle, in a room lit by flaming torches mounted on its walls. Sansa, still stunned looked around and saw people sitting on benches around several long tables with steaming plates of food on them. The people were all laughing and dancing, many of them in drunken states. But regardless of the merry atmosphere, Sansa knew where she was, and she wanted to shout and scream knowing it.
The Red Wedding. She had heard so many stories about the event, and now was here, being forced to witness it.
A lump formed in Sansa's throat when she spotted Robb sitting close by, a woman sitting even closer to him.
Talisa, or the 'foreign whore' as some Lords had called Robb's wife. But she looks so beautiful, and so kind… and they look so happy together. Sansa knew they were in love. And in that moment, Sansa wanted to scream at him, "Don't love her, Robb! It's a trap and you'll both die!" Robb lovingly felt her stomach, and Sansa's feeling of dread only increased in that moment as she remembered that Talisa was pregnant with her brother's child, her niece, when the wedding happened.
"Bran, please. I want to go." Sansa demanded, tearing her eyes away from her smiling older brother and his pregnant wife.
"We must stay. You will not believe otherwise."
Sansa was becoming impatient now, and she could feel tears threatening to run down her cheeks, "Believe what, that they died? Because I already believe that, you don't need visions to figure that one out!"
She wanted to slap some sense into Bran, but instead, Sansa Stark turned back to the wedding guests, this time focusing on a woman a few rows behind. She had Sansa's auburn hair, and her blue eyes, but while Sansa was feeling fear and sadness, her mother Catelyn Stark was smiling at Robb.
"Mother!" She called out, wanting to run towards her like a child.
"She can't see us. The ink is dry." Bran informed Sansa.
So, Sansa could do nothing as she helplessly watched her mother converse with the man beside her who had the same eyes that tortured Sansa every night in her dreams-Ramsay Bolton's eyes. Realising that the ice cold blue eyes belonged to Roose Bolton, a new twist formed in Sansa's stomach. He is the one who killed Robb.
An unpleasant voice from behind Sansa distracted her from Roose Bolton and Sansa turned to face the man speaking. He was old and wrinkled, and his face was as unpleasant as his voice, and Sansa knew it was Walder Frey.
And that's when Sansa heard it- The Rains of Castamere- the same song played at Joffrey's wedding, the song about Tywin Lannister' victory, just as the Red Wedding was in everyone's minds. Chills ran up her spine, but no one else seemed to notice-except her mother. Catelyn was standing up, concern all over her face as she watched the guards close the doors and the Lannister song fill her ears during a Tully wedding.
Then, her mother leant towards Roose Bolton, and lifted his sleeve up, revealing chain mail underneath.
Her mother slapped Roose in the face and screamed, "Robb!"
The room descended into chaos.
Blood and bleeding bodies were everywhere, including Talisa, now lifelessly on the floor with blood spewing from her womb. And though Sansa knew her death was coming, it broke her heart none the less. Robb was bowed over her, hand on her stomach once more, only this time his hand was soaked in her and his child's blood.
Soon, eyes wide with horror, Sansa was watching her mother hold a knife to Lady Frey's throat, begging for Lord Walder to let Robb go.
"I'll find another."
Her heart sank, preparing herself for the moment their deaths would come, wishing she could just close her eyes rather than force herself to keep them open and see everything.
The room was still, with Robb and mother standing motionless, like they'd given up. The only movement Sansa could detect were the footsteps of Roose Bolton, a dagger clutched in his hand. Soon, that dagger will be in Robb's heart, Sansa thought with anguish as she tried to prepare herself for the sight of her family collapsing to the floor.
She was crying now,
And then, she froze. Not because Robb was lying crumpled in a heap on the floor, a dagger in his heart, but because the dagger was in Roose Bolton's neck, not Robb's, Roose Bolton fell to the floor, not Robb and Bolton's scarlet blood stained the floor, while Robb remained standing, looking as shocked as Sansa was.
"Take them to the dungeons."
Sansa remained still for what felt like hours, feeling numb as she realised it was all a lie…my mother's body in the river, Grey wind's head mounted on Robb's corpse…LIES! Her mother and brother are … not dead.
When she finally found the words to speak, she had so many things she wanted to say, but the one question she managed to utter in her state of dismay was, "Are they coming to Winterfell?" Her words sounded angry, accusing but Sansa was sure she felt happy. She wanted to ask quietly but her voice had sounded so demanding and desperate. So many emotions were piling into her head and Sansa realised she didn't know what to feel, or how to communicate because her mind was a mess, a convoluted, intricate mess, with thoughts containing all sorts of feelings swirling and storming in her head.
Sansa's brain was in such a state of disarray that she didn't even hear her brother's answer to her question the first time.
"Sansa?" Bran said, nonchalantly tapping her on the shoulder and making sure he had her attention his time, "Yes. They will arrive within one week."
Sansa asked another question, finding some control over her tone as she spoke "Who freed them?"
"The same person who killed the Freys."
"Can… can I see?"
Bran replied by grabbing her wrist once again.
Sansa opened her eyes. For a moment, she was confused; as she looked around, she saw a mass of corpses piled up and scattered around the hall of the Twins, blood stained everywhere.
"Bran… we're still at the Red Wedding."
Then, Sansa turned around to where Lord Walder had sat during the massacre, only to be greeted by his corpse limply hanging from the wall. His throat had been slit.
But that wasn't why her eyes widened at the sight; behind him, on the wall, the words THE NORTH REMEMBERS were written… in blood. And though she didn't want to admit it, Sansa Stark felt a swell of pride inside her as her eyes were graced by those angry red letters…
"Where's his face?" Sansa asked, realizing Lord Walder's wrinkled, unpleasant visage was missing.
Bran didn't answer her.
Sansa was so distracted by the canvas of blood in front of her that she had failed to see the figure that stood just below the faceless corpse and the words.
It was a woman, and the sight of her took Sansa's breath away. She was beautiful. Her hair was brown, falling in wild curls, accentuating her long face and sharp cheekbones. But her eyes… they were grey, like a storm, or like hard steel- they were angry, or pained- Sansa couldn't quite tell.
Sansa let out a sob.
She knew those grey eyes.
Father… but these eyes, they were full of something Ned Stark's eyes never possessed; wrath, rage. Sansa had never seen eyes so full of hate, not even her own.
But Sansa had only known three people with those eyes, and her father was dead, and Jon was at Dragonstone, and so this person had to be…
"Oh gods… Bran she's alive!" Sansa cried, gazing at her sister in a strange awe.
And though Sansa couldn't tear her eyes away from Arya, she was sure that from the corner of her eye, she saw Bran smile.