Written for Throneland. The challenge was to fit the characters and their circumstances in a setting inspired by a Disney movie.
Sansa Stark had been sobbing into her pillow for hours, lonely and afraid. Mourning her old life and all those she had loved – her father was dead, and her mother, brothers and Arya were lost to her.
If only Sansa hadn't believed in the evil Prince Joffrey's lies, her father would have whisked them home to Winterfell before everything had gone so terribly wrong. She should have suspected that Joffrey's apologies and promises were lies as soon as she noticed his nose getting longer with every word he uttered.
Now it was too late.
She didn't know what would be worse – being forced to marry the pestilent prince, or to be locked up in the tower of the Red Keep for the rest of her life. Either way, hers would be a life of misery.
"Pssst! Sansa! Why are you crying, girl?" the voice sounded familiar – a boy's voice.
She lifted her head and looked over toward her only access to the outside world – a small window set deep into the thick stone of her comfortable prison. The aperture was just large enough for her to slip her body through, and wasn't barred. There was no need. Sansa's tower room was so high up that anyone managing to escape through the window would only meet a horrible death on the flagstones far below.
Not that she hadn't thought of it in her most despairing moments.
But, now, impossible as it seemed, a small form was perched on the window sill, his small legs dangling uselessly over the side. The light from the guttering candles cast his face into sharp relief.
Completely unafraid, Sansa rose from her bed and approached the small boy she now could see was her favorite brother.
"Bran? Is that you? How - ?" Sansa stammered, dazed. This had to be a dream. "You were in Winterfell when I left. You can't – " She reached out to stroke his face as if afraid he would disappear at her touch.
He was quite real.
"Walk," he finished her sentence with a smile that was not in the least sad. "No, I can't walk, Sansa. But I can fly. It's so much better than walking. You feel as if you are made out of air." Her little brother gestured out the window to the night sky, now awash with stars. "I came to take you with me, Sister."
"Where and how?" As happy as she was to see Bran, Sansa couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice. "Perhaps you can fly, but I cannot."
Bran beamed up at her from where he sat. "Yes, you can, Sansa. I'll teach you. I'll take you to our new home. I've been there, but returned for you, and, "his eyes looked forlorn for a moment, "because we need somebody to take care of us."
"Us?" Sansa queried, growing more bewildered by the minute.
"All the other boys," Bran answered, his voice now brimmed with excitement. "Rickon's there, and so are many other boys. Summer and Shaggy Dog are there, too."
Sansa thought of Lady with a pang of grief – dead because of her own misguided loyalty to the prince. Then her attention shifted to Bran's other statement. "Just boys? Aren't there any girls with you?" She loved her brothers, but, in general, believed boys to be loud, messy and bothersome creatures.
"Only boys," Bran affirmed, then his face clouded for a moment. "I've looked everywhere for Arya, but she seems to have disappeared."
"But what do you do?" Sansa was trying to wrap her mind around being the only girl among a group of rowdy boys.
Bran laughed so gleefully that she worried he might be heard. "We live in the forest and have adventures, and we fight the pirates – "he stopped suddenly as if regretting he had brought up the pirate issue.
"And what would I be expected to do?" Sansa asked, wondering if she might not be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. She could embroider flawlessly, but had little knack for domesticity, and living in the forest with a bunch of rowdy boys held little appeal.
"Not much," Bran assured her. "But it would be nice to have somebody to cook for us sometimes." Seeing Sansa's frown, he added quickly," Most of all, we just want somebody to sing to us, to tell us stories, and be a mother to us. You don't have to wash clothes or anything. We don't mind being dirty."
Sansa looked over at the heavy locked door of her cage. If she stayed here, her fate would be unbearable. If she went with Bran, at least she would be with family. Maybe she could get used to it.
There was one other thing though. Boys grew up to be men. If there was one thing Sansa had learned over the past few months, it was that most men were not like her father and older brothers. Men were to be feared, and a woman along among men was fair game.
"What happens when all of you grow up, Bran?" She knew her brother, in his innocence, had no idea of the evil that men could do. "You can't stay children forever."
"But that's the best part, Sansa, "Bran threw his arms around her waist, leaning his soft cheek against her nightdress. "It's a magic place. Nobody will ever find us, and none of us will ever, ever, grow up. You won't have to grow up and marry a man you don't want." He gazed up at her with sudden seriousness. "I don't ever want to grow up, Sister. I don't want to fight in battles, or be a knight. I just want to be able to fly, and to be a boy forever."
For a few minutes Sansa pondered on her probable future in Kings Landing – married to a monster, forced to bear his children and endure beatings at the hands of his men, or to endure eternal imprisonment in this stark room, still exposed to the abuse of the prince.
She made her choice. There was really none other she could make and stay sane.
Sansa fondly ruffled Bran's hair. "Then I'll go, but you'll have to show me the way."
He took her slender hand in his grubby little fingers. "You can fly, Sansa. We can both fly." His smile was luminous. "All you have to do is think happy thoughts."
It had been so long since there had been anything to feel happy about.
Searching her heart, Sansa focused on a brilliant summer's day the year before , when the the Starks of Winterfell had all been together on an afternoon's expedition – Father, Mother, Robb, Rickon, Bran, and, yes, even Arya and Jon. As darkness had begun to descend upon their family during the journey back home, Sansa had looked up at the first star of evening and made a wish.
For once she had not wished for a handsome knight, or for a beautiful dress, but had only wished that she would forever remember this one perfect day with her family.
Clinging to that memory with her mind and heart, grasping her brother's precious hand in hers, Sansa felt herself lifted into the night and toward the stars.