dedication: to Chloe, and also to my brother. here Nick, I hope you enjoy it.
notes: YES I WENT THERE OKAY
title: hungry like a wolf
summary: Jon and Sansa play chess and partition the world. After all, Westeros is not the same without a queen at the helm. — Jon/Sansa.
Sansa hates King's Landing.
Sansa hates King's Landing the way the Northerners hate the Wilds. She hates King's Landing the way she hated Joffrey, a silent frothy hatred that would consume everything if it could. She hates King's Landing bright and sharp, and when she looks out the windows in the high towers, she curses the land a hundred times over.
King's Landing is not the cold icy world in which she'd grown up, and which she now misses so.
But Jon cannot rule from the North, though they both would prefer it. The people will not accept a Northern King when he is so far away. As it is, they follow him only warily, because there is no one else.
All other claimants to the throne are dead.
Jon is bastard-born, except not. Not now that they all know the truth—Rhaegar's blood lives on in Sansa's brother-cousin, and sometimes she thinks she can see it in his face, in the curve of his nose; she sees the cruelty for a moment, but then he's only Jon again.
Sansa shudders to think that he could be anything else.
"You need a wife, Jon," she says once, in the dead of night. "The court wants an heir."
Jon goes still in front of her, his fingers languid over the white rook. When they can't sleep (which happens perhaps more than it should), they play chess. Sansa always plays black no matter what, and though Jon has the advantage of the first move, she nearly always wins.
"Why?" he asks.
"Don't play stupid, Jon, it doesn't suit you," Sansa says idly. "Check."
"Must you do that?" he asks. He moves his bishop two spaces down to the left to keep her from taking his king. Sansa smiles. She knew he would do that—her poor brother, so predictable. It's going to get him killed, sooner or later.
He needs a queen to keep that from happening.
Sansa will not lose someone else. She will not.
"I must," she says. "Checkmate."
Jon stares at the board for a split-second, before he shakes his head. He flicks his king over. "You win again."
"I always win, Jon," Sansa says. She settles her hair over her shoulder, fingers through the loose ends. Here in Jon's room is the only time she ever allows herself to be nervous or to be weak, because the court would rip her apart if they ever saw fear on her face. She learned that a long time ago, when Joffrey was still alive and she was still a child who believed in knights in shining armour and unicorns and men who would save her.
Sansa has not been that girl in a very long time.
"Hm? Pardon?" she looks up from gathering the pieces and setting them back to rights. Winner always does, as a courtesy to the loser, and besides. It's an easy thing to do. It sets her mind back in order, gives her time to plan her next war.
"Are you happy?" Jon looks very serious as he says it; his brows furrow down over his eyes, concern etched into every line of his face. Like he really cares. Sansa thinks it's sad that he's probably the only person in all of King's Landing who gives a gods-be-damned tear over whether she lives or dies.
"Of course I am," she says, slow and soft.
"You don't look it."
Sansa looks him straight in the face. She knows how to look a man in the face and lie through her teeth, but Jon deserves better than that. "I'd be happier if you got married, brother dear."
His face goes flat. He hadn't been expecting that at all—but of course he didn't, that was Jon all over. "I'll get married when you do, little sister."
"I won't be married, Jon," Sansa laughs with her head thrown back in the firelight, and she is beautiful with winter in her bones and in her eyes. She is cold inside. "But you are a king."
He stays quiet, and she thinks she hears him silent ask So?
"The kingdom needs a queen."
This time he raises an eyebrow at her.
Sansa raises one in return.
And they just look at each, easy and simple because in this room where there is no one else, they could be children again in Winterfell with their brothers and Arya and no one would know the difference. But Sansa never belonged to their strange little troupe—she had Jeyne and Lady, for a little while. She'd been happy then, before she'd known what the real world was like.
She knows what the world is really like now. She does.
(And she remembers: black hair and Petyr's fingers smoothing up and down her spine and fear, fear, fear. She remembers: singing softly to Robert Arryn, her poor cousin dying in the Eyrie while she rocked him back and forth. She remembers: Lady howling. She remembers.)
"The kingdom already has a queen," Jon says, and he nods at her like it's the truth, like they are not and have never been kin.
They don't look alike.
They never have.
"I told you I would not be Cersei, Jon," Sansa murmurs. The sigh escapes her in one long great heave, as inexorable as a tidal wave.
"You could never be Cersei, Sansa," Jon says.
But he doesn't even know what he's saying. Sansa thinks of Joffrey, blonde and beautiful and as much a product of incest as any Targaryen ever was. Jon was on the Wall when her father told her that, and so he doesn't know. The population at large doesn't know, not really, and perhaps it is better that way.
Jon has a Stark's face and hides Rhaegar's blood under his skin. He wears the Wall like a sheath and the power of the North deep in his bones, and she knows, she knows that he'll be alright. He belongs to two ruling dynasties.
Sansa thinks the irony of it is fantastic.
(Sometimes, she wishes she'd met Aunt Lyanna.)
There's a man with blood of the First Men and the dragons on the throne. And that is all well and good—Sansa worked hard, too hard, to put him there and keep him there.
But Westeros needs a queen.
There are some things that only a woman can do.
Jon reaches across the gulf between them to touch her shoulder. He is achingly gentle, but his fingers are rough from holding a sword. Her cousin-brother knows what it is to work, and though Sansa's hands are lily-soft and white, she knows what betrayal feels like.
This is the same but different, and she turns her head just enough to bend and press her lips to his thumb. The shadows colour him blue and black.
The only sounds are the gasp that escapes her throat when he hauls her across the table, the click of ebony and ivory against stone, and the crackle of the fireplace. His mouth is as gentle on hers as his fingers on her shoulder, but it is not enough, and Sansa is hungry like a wolf in the dead of winter. She devours him entire, silently, completely. She takes no prisoners. She kisses him violent-vicious, and she does not love.
The chess pieces lie scattered across the floor.
It will be a long time before anyone will deign to pick them up.