Title: Tempered Steel
Word Count: 954
Summary: Tyrion comes to his lady wife in the godswood to lead her back to court.
Disclaimer: A work of fanfiction for which the author receives no profit.
It takes little effort to find her. His lady wife is here more often than not.
Her blue skirts are stained dark by the late spring snow melt, as she kneels in the godswood that he insisted be spared in the frenzy of destruction by the new faith. At least as Hand he can accomplish that much for her and conceivably more in time.
"What does your good brother have to say this morning, Lady Sansa?" he asks, knowing that while she gave no sign of it, she has most probably heard his approach.
"He talks of flying," she responds without turning her face away from the heart tree that holds her rapt attention.
The first time she announced that Bran spoke to her through the trees, he did not laugh or mock though endless quips came to mind. He doesn't know whether such a thing is possible, but for all he knows it is.
He has no faith. He has seen the impossible—dragons and people reborn—but the new faith, the Seven, and the old hold no sway over him. His lady wife, however, he believes in, for when he returned to Westeros in the company of warriors and winged beasts, he found the girl he had married had been remade. She was still courteous and gentle, but the Stark steel that had been buried within her was suddenly evident to all and tempered by fire.
All of the Starks who have survived the onslaught have this quality about them. The Targaryens may have won the day, but the remaining Starks stand by like reminders, silent sentinels who warned all along that winter was coming. Snow, Targaryen, it doesn't matter the name—the girl's brother reborn is as much a Stark as he is anything. Though she is proud, Queen Daenerys must know that she owes her victory to that cold eyed Stark boy, who understood this frozen landscape and the threats that stalked it better than she ever could, better than Aegon did.
He stretches out his stunted arm to her, hand palm up. "The Queen calls for you." She, just like everyone else, has taken to Lady Sansa, for she is the good lady he had once imagined she could be: generous, measured, and kind.
She gracefully stands, towering over him with her unusual height, before she places her hand in his for a moment, squeezing and then releasing it.
"The Queen calls and we answer," she says without emotion.
He looks up at her, the chinks of cool sunlight falling on her face and hands, as she adjusts the grey fur that drapes over her shoulders. She is stunningly beautiful even next to the much lauded Queen, but Sansa has him, the Imp, for a husband. He means to see to it that she won't regret too mightily not setting him aside when she was given the chance.
He wonders sometimes whether he and his brother indulge this inconvenient romanticism about honor and duty as the result of a familial inheritance like the Lannister blond hair or whether Sansa merely inspires it. Of course, he'll never get the chance to ask his brother his opinion on the matter. He lies alongside their sister under the ground somewhere in an unmarked grave.
He reasons aloud, as they begin to walk back to the castle, her shortening her stride to suit his, "I believe it is for something inconsequential. What shade of violet best suits her for tonight's festivities perhaps."
They celebrate a year since the Targaryen victory was finally declared. If it causes Sansa pain, she does not show it. Even to him. But surely this victory must remind her of those she has lost as much as the peace she has gained.
She casts a slightly disapproving glance down at him, one brow delicately arched. She disapproves of his flippancy, he knows. Littlefinger taught her caution. Amongst other things.
It is strangely comforting, however, to know that she disapproves of it as much for his sake as for hers. She would rather not see her husband roasted by dragons. Even if that meant clearing the way for her to marry again. There are younger men, handsomer men, men who proved themselves in battle, who would eagerly step forward to claim Sansa's hand were she free to be claimed. Perhaps she merely hates the thought of being a pawn once more.
"Is it just the Queen that requires me?"
Or perhaps the only man she would otherwise choose is no longer an option.
"I don't think Jon much cares whether a certain shade of violet would suit him or not," he says by way of answer, knowing whom she means.
"Black was always his color," she says, the disapproval melting from her face, though he has just made light of the King.
She feels more certain where she stands with Jon, knowing a misplaced word will not condemn her to burn. They are not brother and sister as they once thought, but they share something with each other that they share with no one else. When she sits at Jon's side and his cold hand wordlessly finds hers, Tyrion's gut always twists with a certain unpleasant jealousy. That man's eyes only seemingly come to life when his sweet sister sits beside him.
He does not begrudge his lady wife the comfort Jon's company brings her, but he can't help hoping that someday she will forgive him for being a Lannister enough to feel similarly about him. She feels safe with her lord husband, but that isn't quite enough. Not for him.
But she is young yet and wounds are fresh. And she has chosen him, which is more than before.