ok so not really an epilogue, just a last chapter. I'm kinda freaking out that this is it! But I already have an idea for another SanSan story, as well as my other GoT story involving Jon Snow, so look forward to those!
And if you haven't commented before now, here's your last chance! I would really really like to know what you thought of my first try at fanfiction, good or bad. You guys have been continuously amazing, and I definitely count you all among my Christmas gifts this year.
He had absolutely no right to be here, in the Godswood, at his daughters grave. Damnit, a year later and he still couldn't shake that. She's not your daughter. Eventually he just stopped fighting it. What did it matter, anyway?
He was really despicable. He remembered how he held her, stroked her hair, and told her everything would be alright. He knew she would be alright, because he wouldn't be there. He was a coward for comforting her and lulling her to sleep, then stealing away was like a thief in the night. And he was a thief, stealing a life that should never have belonged to him.
As he traveling away, he imagined her tears, her screams, her cursing his name. But he could take that, it was better than the alternative of being trapped with the man who murdered your baby. He should not be here. Not because he left-that was the single most decent thing he'd done since he met her. He had no right to be here because it was his fault Catelyn was buried beneath this heart tree.
He honestly had no idea why he was here. A month ago he simply had an urge to leave the little village he was holed up in. He mounted Stranger, who led them in a direction he didn't guide him. At first he was angry at the damn horse. But after a week, once he realized the direction they were heading, he gave the beast free reign. Maybe he's hoping for another glimpse of her too.
That's how he came to be standing here, at his daughters grave, exactly a year since his foolish dreams had been crushed, unable to move his feet away.
He instinctually drew his sword, ready to attack as he heard a twig snap behind him. He knew Stranger was on alert to, ready to help him at a moments notice. His heart froze in his chest as he saw who was behind him. I knew I should have hidden myself better. He was looking straight into the blue eyes that had haunted him the past year. He couldn't seem to look away. Her gaze drifted from surprise, to grief, to outright anger. He cleared his throat, but still was unable to look away. On some level, he knew he deserved her ire, but perhaps this wasn't the day for it. Anniversary of her daughter's death? What were you thinking? He finally found words within him.
"I'm sorry, I'll...I'll just go"
"An act you've perfected I see," she said in a tone full of venom. Well, at least she hasn't lost her fire. Her words grounded him again, as if he could have moved in the first place. He braced himself for her banishment, for he knew that, as always, he wouldn't be able to deny her anything.
Instead she simply pushed past him, and placed the single winter rose she held beneath the tree. She knelt in the snow and sat still gazing downward. He was surprised he didn't see the usual shake in her shoulders to signal she was crying.
"I've cried enough" she whispered to herself. Had he spoken out loud? "No," she replied to his unasked question, "I just know you wanted to ask." He wanted to laugh at how well she still knew him. She always could read you like a book. He was unsurprised by how much he still wanted her, wanted to deserve to be here.
"Do you want me to leave?" he asked in a pathetic voice. He sounded weak even to himself.
"You were gone," she replied, not bothering to answer his question.
Her words hit him in the gut. She'd said that to him once before, when he'd left before Blackwater and Gregor had gotten to her. When he failed to protect her. For the first time, he felt guilt for leaving. He'd felt badly plenty of times, but he'd always thought it was the right thing to do, for Sansa. He couldn't find any words to respond to her, so he stayed there-stupid, huge, and quiet.
"When I went to sleep that night, I believed you," she said not looking at him, "I actually thought it might be alright. But you lied."
"I didn't..." he started.
"I mourned you," she yelled, standing up and turning towards him, "you were my husband, and you left!" He didn't miss the use of the past tense.
"I'm the reason she's dead, Sansa" he yelled back, unable to believe she didn't understand. How could she not be yelling at him for that? She should be glad he was gone. "I made you ride in your 8th month of pregnancy! She's dead because of me!" He was almost angry now, shouting the words back at her. Hell, his anger had gotten through to her before.
"I'm not the only Northern woman to ride late in her pregnancy. And you were hardly the only person to traumatize my body." She responded with just as much anger. Her tone had dropped though, and she was whispering with just as much emotion as he'd shown. He refused to believe her though, he'd put too much strain on her body since he'd taken her from King's Landing.
"Apparently I was doomed from the start," she laughed bitterly. "His conception was so...violent the surgeon was surprised I carried him that long."
"We were wrong, it was a boy." She replied, "not that it matters." She pursed her lips, "he's dead anyway."
Another bitter laugh escaped her lips as she turned back to the tree. "For so long I wished I'd just listened to you, and taken the moon tea. I wouldn't feel like this, it would have been over." She slid down to the ground again, he wanted to yank her out of the cold snow, but again he couldn't move.
"Where the hell did you find a rose in the middle of winter?" He said coming up behind her.
"Growing near the stables. First one I'd seen in months...he deserves it" she said, the first sign of crying heard in her voice.
"Did you give him a name?" He asked gruffly.
"Brandon" she said quietly.
"After your brother..." she just nodded.
"I pictured him loving to climb. Being strong, like you. And gentle, like my father..." she trailed off. The anger was gone, she was just sad, now.
"I'm sorry, Sansa."
She scoffed. "If you're going to be sorry for anything, be sorry you left when I needed you most."
"I am," he whispered back. And he really was. It was strange, learning he'd been punishing himself for a year by staying away from her, and he hadn't even committed the crime. He couldn't bring himself to hold her, like he wanted. She must hate him far too much for that.
"They thought you hurt me," she continued, again the malice gone. "When the surgeon examined me, and saw what...what he did. They thought it was you. That I was delusionally attached to my rapist." Of course they would think that.
"I let them, for awhile. I hated you so much." You deserve that. But he couldn't help but be hurt; he would never raise a hand against her. He was incapable.
"Robb knew, though. He saw how you were with me. He knew you couldn't hurt me. I told him the truth...eventually." When she looked up at him, he finally dared to reach out a hand to help her up. To his surprise, she took it. He found it difficult to let go, but managed.
"The young wolf married you off yet?" He asked gruffly, looking at the ground. He didn't know why he asked that question, it was hardly his business any more. His heart stupidly fluttered when she shook her head.
"No, no one will ever give me away again." she said with utter conviction. She looked him dead in the eye at her next question,
"Did you ever love me?" The words came so easily, he was a little surprised.
"More than anything." Her eyes filled with tears now, and she surprised them both by reaching for his hand again. She didn't let go this time.
"Well, you better listen this time," she quirked an eyebrow, "and not leave me."
He smiled for the first time in a year. "Never."
He didn't know how long they stood there, hand in hand, staring into each others eyes. He didn't care. He finally knew where Stranger had been carrying him. That lumbering beast had brought him home.
"Your mother is not going to be pleased," he said with a grin.
I couldn't resist the last line :) Talk to you all soon