A/N: So I'm currently writing the fifth chapter. I finished this one last month and have been stuck with other fics since. But now I want to pick this up again, and I want you readers to join me in the writing process. I already selected a sigil as the name of the next chapter, and now I want you to choose which scenes from season 2 you want me to incorporate for the upcoming chapter. I will re-write such a scene in a way that is Sanrion-centric and could fit well with the story. The poll that includes the selections is in my user profile. I hope you can vote.
I would like to thank TheLastPhenom as my beta.
Reviews are very much appreciated
As High as Honor
Sansa woke up from a nightmare which was worse than the ones she had before. There were ghouls above her, feasting on her body. Their rakish hands were clawing her chest, as if trying to shred her heart from within. She looked to the side, and saw a figure yards away from her. She writhed uncontrollably underneath the savagery happening above her, but her eyes were fixed on the figure.
It was a man. He was kneeling with his head bowed. He whispered something into the air and she recognized that it was a prayer. The man did not look at her as she lay there, but she knew who he was by now and she screamed at him.
"You lied!" Sansa was already gurgling blood but she still screamed at him. "You lied about everything!" The man still did not look at her.
Somehow there were no ghouls pressing down on her anymore so Sansa got up from the ground. She was now holding a sword somehow. She walked toward the man this time, gripping the sword with both hands. She cried out as she brought the blade down the man's neck. The sound pierced through her.
Sansa fell down from the bed, still screaming and sobbing.
"My lady," she heard a voice. She opened her eyes, and tried to breathe normally as she crouched in the corner close to the bed. She glanced to her right and saw Tyrion Lannister kneeling beside her with his hands rubbing the tension in her shoulders. It calmed her a little but there is no amount of comfort he could offer that will heal the wounds in her head. But Sansa still listened as he soothed her. "Nothing is going to harm you, my lady, not here, not ever, not when you're with me…"
Sansa was ready to believe every word if it can keep the nightmares away. She pressed her head on his chest, still weeping. As the minutes passed, she was beginning to regain her composure. She could breathe well again.
She almost forgot that she'd been leaning on him for a while until he spoke up once more. "Would you like something to eat?"
Their proximity, though not completely unwelcomed, embarrassed her. She slowly pulled away and sat up. Her eyelids felt heavy from the tears and the terror that assaulted her. She couldn't speak at first so she only gave him a hesitant nod.
Tyrion Lannister called out to his squire and asked for bread and poultry to be served. He was holding her, still trying his best to calm her. Sansa looked around this time and realized that she wasn't in her chambers.
She moved away from his touch then, regarding him with a questioning gaze. Tyrion Lannister gulped down hard and answered. "I didn't want to leave you alone."
Though she could see he had a point, it was still an invasion of her privacy. She could not be entirely furious about it, however, especially since it was definitely more than kindness that compelled him to rescue her. Something about it made sense to Sansa, but she was still afraid of him. She could never trust a Lannister especially not a cunning one with veiled intentions. But his touch was mild and there was nothing but sympathy and concern in those eyes. Sansa found herself responding to him with a bashful eagerness. He was the only person in this wretched place who goes out of his way to treat her with dignity and compassion after all. But for what purpose?
Sansa was a woman now. Her flower bloomed as she sat there with him. She could not be so naïve this time. It was possible that Tyrion Lannister coveted her. Why else would he go to such trouble just to protect her? But Sansa is not certain of the sincerity of his feelings. As a Lannister, it must all be a part of a great scheme somehow. It's best to be vigilant. She will not make the same mistake twice.
"I apologize if I took you here to my room," he began to explain. "Considering yesterday's events, I have to ensure your safety and welfare and I could only do that if you're always within my sight from now on." He paused to place his hand on her lap. "But I don't want to keep you here if it displeases you. As I've said before, you are free to do whatever you want. I'm not imposing my will on you."
Sansa stared at his face for a while as if she was memorizing every detail. It wasn't that difficult to look at him anymore. Whatever feelings she may have for him are still incomprehensible. She believed his words but was not convinced that there were no motives behind them. And yet if she had a choice, she would prefer to be in his company, knowing that he is not going to abuse her the way Joffrey did. And if she was being entirely honest, Sansa admitted that she liked the way he looked at her; like she was a treasure, the most valuable thing he ever laid eyes on.
Her father used to look at her that way.
The falling axe.
The blood spray on her gown.
Her thighs quivered as she felt her red flower ooze.
Determined to shake herself free from the clutches of the nightmare earlier, Sansa grabbed one of Tyrion Lannister's wrist. She held on, counting her heartbeat until it slowed down. On his part, he kept his other hand on her shoulder, not wanting to disturb her. She had her eyes closed for a while. As soon as she opened them, she was once again surprised by the ease in which the proximity between them remained. He still looked at her with concern and said nothing about the way she held him, not even when she slid her fingers to intertwine with his which escaped her notice until she saw him glance at their hands now pressed together.
They caught each other's gaze and Sansa felt her cheeks burn.
Was she starting to enjoy the attention? Was this something women think about when men are protective of them, when men seek their affections and favor?
Sansa felt confused. She didn't like these feelings. She knew that her growing dependence on him would only weaken her resolve. But relying on his protection would still be a better option than being beaten to death, she supposed.
Sansa wondered if she's coy enough to play along.
Clearing his throat, Tyrion Lannister moved away from her. Their hands remained clasped together as she picked herself up from the floor with his help.
The difference in their heights bothered her for a new reason this time. Sansa understood clearly that he is dependable and despite his stature she could truly lean on him. It does not, however, appear physically possible when they stand next to each other like this. But why would she even consider leaning on him?
She remembered that she once helped him up when he was drunk, and the way he fit in her arms like a child. The memory made her more uncomfortable, especially since he was still watching her with those terribly compassionate eyes.
"My lady," he began, slowly withdrawing his hand from her grasp. "In a few hours from now you shall have your lessons. I've requested for the services of two septas and they will be helping you study arithmetic and music. I sincerely hope such educational pursuits will…lessen the weight of the horrors you have suffered."
And continue to suffer, Sansa thought as she nodded compliantly.
The squire has returned with her handmaiden Shae and the two of them prepared the table. Tyrion Lannister pulled a chair for her to sit on. Once both of them are seated and facing each other from the opposite side, Shae filled her plate with food which Sansa only stared down at, not at all feeling particularly hungry.
But she kept her eyes on the plate, wishing to elude Tyrion Lannister who still gazed upon her without saying a word. She was familiar how conversations come naturally to him but the circumstances they've found themselves in proved to be difficult to talk about. They are also both burdened by the knowledge that they are meant to be enemies and more blood is yet to be shed among their families.
Inside these concealed quarters where her own father used to sleep in when he was Hand, Sansa knew how mortifying it must be for Tyrion Lannister himself.
He was breaking fast with the daughter of said traitor as proclaimed by his nephew the King. The very same king who tried to put a sword in her hours ago.
Is this going to be the way of things forever? Would I always find you in pieces, with me reaching out but never able to prevent the worst from happening?
Sansa didn't know how to answer that question of his earlier. She decided to focus on the food right now so he wouldn't suspect that something was amiss.
"How are the eggs?" He finally spoke.
"Well-cooked, my lord," was her ready reply.
"I was hoping it would be fish this time. Pod?"
His squire answered. "Drought is almost upon us. Fish gets harder to come by, lord Hand."
Tyrion Lannister looked displeased with that information. "Alas, it always starts with a drought. Has Bronn carried out his duty to measure rations for the city food supply?"
"I have relayed your message three days ago, my lord." Pod answered as he poured fresh wine on their cups. Sansa opened her mouth to protest but her handmaid Shae, always so intuitive, had taken the cup away herself. Sansa glanced at her and smiled weakly and her handmaiden smiled back although she also took note of how weary she looked. And then she recalled the exhausting ordeal she had her go through last night with her scathing behavior and...the biting. Once she got back to her chambers, she must apologize to Shae.
Sansa wished she didn't remember being so unlady-like earlier. Thinking about that as she chewed on her food also brought back the memory of Tyrion Lannister being so close to her; of the way he took her in his arms; of how in that brief moment of need and desperation, she thought he might kiss her.
And I might have allowed it.
Sansa forbade herself to go there. She swallowed and took her cup to quench her thirst because her throat began to feel dry as well. She glimpsed at the man who had plagued her contemplations with impurities. Fortunately he was still having a conversation with his squire. When Sansa looked across Shae, she found her handmaiden was still staring at her.
"More water, my lady?"
Sansa nodded and allowed Shae to fill her cup. As she was about to drink from its cusp, she glanced at Tyrion Lannister and found his gaze upon her once more. She could not meet his eyes anymore, not after everything, and the way she was beginning to feel differently about him. Was he starting to suspect something has changed? She silently prayed to the seven that he did not.
After they have finished their meal, Tyrion Lannister got the table cleaned and then he sent the servants away. They still sat across each other in uncomfortable silence as Sansa watched him tap his fingers on the table.
"My lady," he began. "I would like to accompany you during your lessons but I will be otherwise engaged with city business. Besides, it would be wise if I allowed you some space to collect your bearings." He paused, a sheepish smile crossed his features. "I also think you may have seen too much of me for one night."
Sansa blinked, unsure of his meaning. She found herself glancing towards the bed now and wondered if he had lain next to her the whole time while she slept. Considering that possibility made her blush. When she turned away, she realized that he had followed her stare and must have seen the scandalous assumption transform the expression in her face. He looked embarrassed now.
"I-I did not mean that, my lady," he hurriedly corrected. He turned his attention towards the window and added. "I was reading there while I watched over you."
Sansa shook her head. "Forgive me if I caused you shame. I did not wish to imply any sort of indecency on your part."
"Well, as long as you don't believe I was ever capable of..." He trailed off. It was the first time she had seen him so rattled.
Coughing, he reached out for his goblet and finished his wine before he spoke again. "I do not want you to misunderstand my intentions."
"No, I do not misunderstand, my lord." Sansa remarked, looking down on her own empty cup. "You are kind to me."
But it's because you desire me. Sansa was beginning to feel slightly warm. She fought the urge to pull her collar to allow her neck some air. She did not want to expose her flesh in sight as well, afraid that it might just tempt him. She is not ignorant with the ways of men, especially not after the riot where some peasants almost had their way with her.
"Have you ever been fucked, little girl?" One of them asked callously as he pressed his weight on top of her.
She closed her eyes and prayed it would be over soon.
Tyrion Lannister looked worried again. He got out of his chair so he could approach her. He stopped short, perhaps realizing that she might consider him intrusive. He had started to take caution with the way he would conduct any kind of contact between them which meant that Sansa was not concealing herself as well as she thought. She did not want him thinking that she is well-aware of the tension growing between them especially since she hasn't figured out what it is yet.
Against her instincts, she reached out a hand to take his. The gesture was risky and out in the open that Sansa dreaded the reaction it would incite from him.
Tyrion Lannister did not grip her hand immediately. It seemed to her that he was preoccupied presently on trying to figure out the change in her disposition.
Sansa dared to meet his gaze now. She allowed him to glimpse into her thoughts, trusting that whatever he reads would not be something he would use against her. This could be a test of his sincerity; an easy way for Sansa to see if his offer of friendship truly comes from good intentions. If she was learning to let her guard down around him then she had to be sure she wouldn't endanger her heart once more.
For a moment he just stared as if waiting for her to make the next move. They were almost on the same level of height as she sat before him like this. A few seconds passed before he began to lean close towards her.
Is he going to...?
Sansa disobeyed better judgment and responded to his movements, mirroring them without even thinking.
Those mismatched eyes were doing something to her. As soon as she felt his breath on her lips, her eyes closed on their own. Her other hand was raised as well, hovering above his cheek, ready to keep him in place just as soon as he seals the kiss. Their noses had already brushed against each other when Tyrion Lannister pulled away, somehow finding the strength to reject the temptation.
With that, Sansa felt like she betrayed herself. She let his hand go and looked away. But this also meant he passed the test.
"My lady, forgive my insolence, I never should have-I only wanted..." He let out a sigh. "I only wanted to care for you.
Sansa nodded, understanding now more than ever the kind of effect she has on him and that she was villainous for trying to use that against him. "There is nothing to apologize for, my lord," she answered unexpectedly calmly.
He eyed her suspiciously this time. Taking a few steps back, he replied. "Was this...a test, Lady Stark?"
The fact that he resorted back to formality did not escape her. She wounded him. But she had to hold her ground. "Can you blame me for trying to make sure you are not playing me as the queen regent has done?" The moment the words left her mouth, she regretted it. It was unlike her to forget courtesies. The events from last night might have lingered more than she allowed them to. In which case, she decided to guard her tongue again.
Curiously enough, Tyrion Lannister didn't seem offended. He must have succeeded gauging a reaction from her after all and that outweighed the trickery she subjected him to. He regarded her with a smile. "My sweet lady Sansa, I will never underestimate you again. You have survived us so far. That certainly warrants my respect." He bowed his head slightly.
When he gazed into her eyes again, he muttered softly, "I understand your apprehension, but I will say it once more, my lady; I am neither Joffrey nor my sister. I want to earn your trust because I believe I could get you out of harm's way. All you have to do is let me try."
Sansa said nothing. She exposed herself a lot for today. She could not afford any more unraveling. "My lessons then?" She inquired in order to change the subject. "Your lordship explained that I'm to study arithmetic then music in the afternoon."
Tyrion Lannister nodded and then started walking toward the window to pick up a book. He walked back to her and handed it. Sansa stared at it for a while to read its title. In faded gold letters, it bore the name of the knight he fondly talked about days ago. She placed her hands around it and thanked him for the generosity.
"Pod will escort you and your handmaiden Sheila to the study room. It's just near these chambers but hidden to those who have no business in it."
Sansa thanked him again, this time for his graciousness. She stood up, clutching the book against her chest. He stayed behind, waving his hand at her. There was a tight smile on his lips as he watched her leave.
She was only fourteen years old, and Tyrion almost kissed her. The child needed a guardian, not a lover, and yet he willfully and irresponsibly entertained the latter's probability because of the unspeakable want he was beginning to feel for the girl. But she admitted to the seduction on her part, all for the sake of testing the purity of his motivations. He didn't know what strength of mind or body enabled him to resist her earlier, but Tyrion will not stand a hypocrite and deny that he would have claimed her as his if the opportunity presents itself again. He warned himself that there should never be a next time. He had to do everything in his power to lessen their interactions then—and yet he worries for her welfare if he stayed away and allowed Joffrey to get his cruel hands on her again.
But Tyrion was weak when it came to beautiful women, and Sansa Stark was blooming into one every single day. How could he hope to protect her from monsters if he can't even protect her from himself?
Tyrion walked with Bronn at his side and a Stormcrow in front of him as they entered the marketplace. He asked Bronn. "How fares our city, lord commander?"
"I'm working on the thievery as we speak. But the sheep know what's good for them by now since the riot, and my job has been easier too."
The sellsword grinned, indicating that he had other motives Tyrion needs to keep in check by fattening his purse.
"And the rations?"
"Being followed through as commanded. That is why I wanted to get rid of the pests so they don't get their grubby hands on the city's belly and tear their way through it." The sellsword spat on the ground to make emphasis of his point.
Tyrion let out a dismissive sigh. "I hope you would solve the infestation of these pests with however you see fit." He glanced at Bronn with an authoritative gaze. "But handle them without unnecessary bloodshed. We do not want another riot. The people already believe me a demon monkey. Let us not offer them a truthful testimony through a brutal display. Am I clear?"
"Aye, little lion, I am your word and will." The sarcasm made Tyrion snicker. He did not really trust Bronn, but he was capable and clever in his own way, and
Tyrion liked to surround himself with cunning opportunists as long as they don't turn on him. Speaking of which...
"Any news from Renly's camp?"
"Littlefinger sent word. I asked Podrick to read the letter. It said that he was successful in returning the bones to Catelyn Stark. He awaits further instructions as long as you make it quick."
"Hmmm," Tyrion paused as he watched some of the city guards enter a brothel. He looked at Bronn. "I suppose the peace is well-kept that your men can find time for leisure?" He was in no position to judge. He would've indulged himself if he already didn't have a whore he exclusively sleeps with. He remembered the way Shae looked at him as he attended to Sansa last night. He wondered if she was jealous.
Bronn must have been reading his mind. "Have yourself another tart once in a while, Tyrion. It must be tiresome to have the same cunt almost every day."
"I'm in a monagamous arrangment with my tart, Bronn. I do not mind having her cunt over and over."
Bronn laughed. The Stormcrow in front of them also cackled.
Tyrion allowed himself a smile, forgetting for a while how the last three days had taken a toll on him. Aside from important Hand business, he also wanted to get out of the castle. He did not fear Cersei, but he hardly believed he had enough energy left to suffer through her insidious wrath. He also didn't want her to know that he regretted nothing. His little shit of a nephew deserved that beating. Jaime would have concurred himself. Thinking about their estranged brother again gave Tyrion a melancholic streak he couldn't shrug off easily. He was in a particularly grieving mood as he went about his tasks, supervising the tax collection and the gathering of crops all afternoon with Bronn. He was in no hurry to get back to Red Keep at all, somewhat enjoying his new responsibilities and preoccupations fulfilling in some ways, especially the authority and freedom they give him.
Once or twice during the course of his activities, Tyrion's thoughts would turn inward to Sansa Stark, and it didn't upset him to think about her as it did in the morning after that shameful incident. He understood why he desired her but was not brave enough to confront it before. It wasn't her flesh that he craved. That might only be secondary, merely a visceral longing from a dwarf who aspires to acquire the things denied from him because he was born a certain way.
What he desired from Sansa Stark was family.
There is a huge piece of her that remains untarnished even after everything his own family had put her through. Seeing that shine through her hungered him in a way that haunted him at night. He envied what she had growing up; the warmth and the affection she never lacked from her parents and siblings; her courage to dream impossible fantasies; her hopeful innocence which he sought to preserve the most. This was why he wanted to be around her. He was hoping to taste a piece of that goodness that was selfishly ripped out of him since his very birth.
He desired for her like he would desire a phantom mother and all that lied beneath the other side of the reflection a beautiful youth such as hers posseses.
He wanted family. He wanted home. Power was the only strategy to get him there, and though he played the game well so far, he was not sure he wanted the seven kingdoms for himself. Robert Baratheon had that and they provided him no means of happiness. But what use would it be to have Westeros at your feet when there was no one who loves you that you can share it with?
Tyrion laughed at himself. What sort of Lannister would he be if he did not want power? He must stay vigilant from now on so that absolutely no one will be able to gain knowledge of what his heart calls for the most, or he might just lose the game to more savage contenders. He was only starting to enjoy himself after all.
He had gotten back to his chambers that night, walking by himself on the corridors with a candle on hand. Tyrion was drained for the day and he wobbled more than usual as he tried to reach the bed. To his surprise, Sansa Stark was already lying on the mattress fast asleep, clutching the book beside her in an almost protective gesture. There were no words to describe what he felt upon gazing at her again in this well-deserved repose. Absurdly quixotic as it may be, but Tyrion wanted to dedicate his life with a purpose of making sure she is cared for while still being a warden of the Lannisters. But what else could he hope to save once she becomes Joffrey's queen someday? He could not bring himself to ponder on the marital abuse she will have to bear through again until the innocence he admired about her will soon wither and be replaced by something dark and desolate; the very same things he saw every time he crossed paths with his sister.
No, he could not let Sansa Stark become the next Cersei.
Tyrion crossed the bed to reach the large window. He decided that he could sleep on it again since he's already used to finding himself awaken from it. Besides, he can watch Sansa Stark better in this angle just like the night before.
He expected that she'll be screaming again because of the atrocities that suffocate her in her slumber, but an hour has passed and she looked quite content. It was the first time he saw her at peace and Tyrion prayed to the gods, old and new, that this beautiful child could endure and thrive even with the harshest of winters almost at their doorstep. He also prayed he too would have the strength to survive it.
The candle was near extinguished when Tyrion finally closed his eyes. The very last thing he saw was Sansa Stark facing him, her lips bearing a hint of smile.
She pulled the book close to her chest and sighed, murmuring something to herself. Tyrion wondered if she was dreaming of Ser Dunk. If she was, he hoped for her safe voyage as she rides away with the brave knight back to her childhood home.
"Now our lives are changing fast, hoping for something purer can last" ~We used to wait, Arcade Fire