The week wore on and Sansa became increasingly nervous about the upcoming visit with the Queen. Both Emylee and Tyrion seemed to sense her distress and reacted accordingly. Even if Sansa wasn't feeling up to visiting the sewing room with the other ladies, the handmaid suggested she practice her skills so she might be ready soon. Thus occupied, Sansa's days were easier to bear. By night, her husband distracted her with stories and tales that he had learned on his journey. Still, she was on edge and it made her more prone to the fog that tried sometimes to overtake her brain.
One afternoon just a few days before the impending visit, Tyrion looked up from his desk to peek through the door of the adjacent room. That morning, he'd left Sansa sitting on a bench at the window sewing. With a sigh he noted that she was in the same exact position she'd been when he left her, the needle still held in her hand poised above the fabric unmoving. The servant girl wasn't around much that day as it was washing day and she was otherwise engaged. Left to her own devices, Sansa had fallen into a trance like state. The most accurate description he had been able to glean from her was that "time got away" from her occasionally. For Sansa it had likely only felt a moment since she sat down.
Deciding that his wife needed more attention than his correspondences, Tyrion stood , stretched, and headed over to the window. From what he could tell, aside form her coherent state, Sansa still feel into two other conditions. The first condition he had begun referring to in his mind as a fit. She became completely overwhelmed by some thought or idea- though what he couldn't say- and she began to shake and have difficulty breathing. Once her voice had returned, she'd begun to mumble at these times, but too often it was unintelligible. He had only ever been able to make out a word or two, and they provided no real insight into her mind.
The other unnatural condition was one of complete stillness and what he assumed was detailed introspection. He had noticed her ability to be so perfectly still weeks ago and reasoned it was why the healers called her unresponsive. Later on, he realized that a state of stillness often preceded a fit and so he concluded that while she was still, she was thinking. Not all of her silences ended in fits, so Tyrion was hopeful that he could bring her back to herself without a fit happening.
When he reached her, he called her name several times with no change before he reached out and took her hand in his. Rubbing the back of her hand, Tyrion left off calling her and decided to tell her a story. Hopefully the touch combined with the near constant noise would rouse her soon. Eventually, he felt a light pressure on his hand as Sansa's fingers began to flex again. "Welcome back," he grinned when her eyes became focused on his face.
Blinking a few times before she spoke, Sansa blushed and whispered, "Sorry I was..."
"Lost in a thought?" Tyrion provided.
His wife simply nodded. Tyrion wondered what she could be thinking of, but decided that asking her for details would not give him a favorable result. From experience, he knew that asking her about the thought she was lost in would end only with a frustrated attempt at a speech that wouldn't come. The same thing happened if he asked her where she had been in the years she was lost. A strange thought came to his mind just then, and he decided to test it. "Sansa," she looked at him then, her wide blue eyes so sad they appeared almost gray. Still holding her hand he continued, "You seem so sad, my lady. Perhaps it might cheer you up to talk of happier times."
Her brow furrowed a bit showing her confusion. With all the tales Tyrion had told her of his past, he'd never asked her to share her own. "Some of my fondest memories happened at the Rock," he explained encouragingly, "I figured you have your own memories of Winterfell that are dear to you."
He was right of course. Sansa had a wealth of good memories from her childhood tucked away in her heart where no one could taint them. For years she'd held them to herself never giving them up to Joffery or Petyr or even to Sandor-though he'd been surprisingly gentle on their trip from Winterfell. Now here husband sat before her looking at her so sincerely asking her to share these things. Uncertainty flashed behind her icy eyes, and she chewed her bottom lip for a moment forgetting her lady-like manners.
"If it helps ease your mind," Tyrion explained softly, "In the aftermath of the recent wars, your father and brother are no longer being considered traitors. They opposed the passage of the crown to an unlawful King and your littlest brother restored the Queen's Peace. No one is out to get your family anymore." Tyrion smiled softly hoping to reassure her. Things had changed since they'd last been in King's Landing. Sansa's family was heralded as heroes-the first in an uprising to restore the rightful monarch- and Tyrion's family had been properly vilified.
In truth it had been a lot more complicated than that. Daenerys had wanted revenge against the men she viewed as being responsible for her exile, but Tyrion and Ser Barriston had been able to convince her that clearing the Stark's name would win her the alliance of the Northern lords. Though, Tyrion suspected it was the meeting she had with Ned's supposed bastard son that convinced her most. Normally, Tyrion would have been loathe against the fickle heart of a woman being swayed by a charming smile, but in this case it aided his own ends. And he had to admit that one of Daenerys's biggest grievances were children being judged for the crimes of their parents'-though the Queen would have no love of Ned Stark, she admitted his children had nothing to do with her expulsion from Westeros. The Lannisters and Baratheons-along with some other schemers- had received most of the blame for the upset in the realm, which suited Tyrion just fine. In fact, Tyrion felt as if he could breathe a little easier without the rest of his family around.
Giving a slow nod after much thought, Sansa took a deep breath. "Well, I..." and then the words came pouring out. "Things were never lonely in Winterfell. Every time I turned around someone was there, either needing my help or getting in the way." A small chuckle escaped her lips. "I suppose I was a little annoyed by it at the time. They were all so wild! Even Arya!"
Tyrion interrupted momentarily asking, "Especially Arya?" to which Sansa nodded.
Sansa continued, "When I was little I thought it so improper! They were always fighting and playing tricks. Jon scared the life out of my in the crypts once. He covered himself in flour and waited in the dark to jump out at us!"
This had Tyrion in stitches and when he gained control of himself he asked, "And you, my Lady? Were you not the least bit wild yourself? Did you not seek retribution against your brother?"
"Me?" she asked innocently, "Not in the least. Though, I did convince Arya to catch some frogs and hide them in the boys' bed after that." She giggled at the memory and Tyrion soon realized that while Sansa wasn't prone to being wild herself, she had encouraged a bit of misbehavior in her siblings. It was refreshing to hear that his prim and proper wife had a bit of that wild northern spirit in her.
Once Sansa began telling her husband about her childhood, the words began to come easier. Before she knew it, the sun was dipping low in the sky. "Oh!" Sansa exclaimed as her eyes ventured out the window. "I've kept you from your work, my Lord!"
Tyrion's eyes were bright as he looked at his young wife. He'd appreciated her beauty when he first met her and had known there was steel in her nerves for surviving what she had in King's Landing. This was renewed when she returned to him from the wild, shaken and barely herself. As off as she had been, she had great will to survive. But this was the first time he felt that he were truly getting to know his wife and not the polite facade she wore for the nobles and the court. "Nonsense," he argues with a wave of his hand, "There is nothing in that room that was more important than listening to you today, my dear." Tyrion noted the color rise in his wife's cheeks at the endearment, and it caused him to smirk slightly.
For her part, Sansa couldn't understand why Tyrion using such a name for her would cause any reaction. Calling her Sansa again and again must grow tedious, she reasoned, and Tyrion was very clear that he's rather they address each other familiarly than constantly using titles. She'd gotten used to that easily enough this time around, but every time he shifted from her name to use something more sentimental, she felt flustered. Plenty of men had used pet names for her in the past; it made no sense that such a thing would excite her now. After a moment, when she was certain the flush had left her cheeks, she responded more formally with, "You are kind to say so." Her voice lingered as if she perhaps meant to add a similar endearment to him, but she left it off.
As much as she'd grown to trust her husband, there was still some hesitancy between them. It had taken her some time to get used to his given name; she was not yet ready to address him even less formally. She sensed a similar hesitancy in Tyrion as well-as if he were constantly holding himself back- and she didn't quite know if she was glad of it or if it bothered her.
There were moments when she looked into her husband's eyes and she was certain he wanted to hold her and touch her. And not in the simple way one might touch a dear friend- on the hands for instance, or touching a lock of her hair the way he did when she was upset. Tyrion wanted to touch her as a lover might- as a husband might- and yet he refrained from doing so. Whether he was afraid to frighten her off or afraid to worsen her condition, Sansa wasn't certain, but she did know that it was at least out of concern for her. Perhaps the offense she paid him on their wedding night still lingered between them.
It had surprised Sansa at first that she didn't mind Tyrion's friendly and reassuring touches. She even enjoyed when he held her- though he only ever did that when she was overcome with her thoughts. For a wicked moment, Sansa wondered if she could fake such an episode just to see how it felt the moment he put his arms around her, rather than coming-to in his embrace. She remembered him being surprisingly strong and still gentle. Of course the thought caused her blush to renew and though Tyrion had not yet returned the conversation. Seeing her distress, he spoke now.
"Is everything all right, Sansa?" His words were accompanied by a twitching of his hand and she was certain then that he did want to move to touch her- perhaps on her overly rosy cheek.
Letting a smile play about her lips, Sansa whispered coyly, "I would be much better if my Lord sat a little closer. Though spring is upon us, the evening air has not yet lost its bite."
It seemed Sansa's face wasn't the only one with a habit of changing colors, though her husbands face paled as if he were shocked. It took him a good moment- and Sansa shifting her position to be more accommodating- for him to speak. "As my Lady commands."
Sansa observed that they were more apt to address each other overly formally when they were treading in that uncertain space between them. At this rate the first time they joined as husband and wife would sound formal enough to be mistaken for polite conversation! The idea caused a giggle to rise in her, but it died suddenly before it reached her lips when she realized she had just considered their joining as eventual rather than a vague possibility. More shock washed over her when she realized that it wasn't a wifely duty that made her think of it, but a general affection for the man who had taken care of her. It sent a shiver down her spine to realize her opinions had begun to change without even her noticing.
Mistaking the shiver for a chill, Tyrion remarked, "Indeed, it seems my lady is very cold. How strange for a wolf of the North to be so affected by the evening chill."
He was teasing her, Sansa knew, so she quipped back, "Well in the North we dress accordingly to keep us warm. Here in the South, without such warm clothing, I am afraid I will need something else to keep me warm."
When the words were out of her mouth, she realized how they might be taken. Tyrion it too seemed to catch the multiple interpretations for he struggled with the words he chose next. "Perhaps I will ask the servants for a nice spiced wine then, to warm you up."
Nodding Sansa tried to figure out if she was relieved or disappointed that he chose the safer interpretation. "Tyrion," she said a little abruptly causing him to look at her quickly. "I wanted to thank you," she went on, "for today. It was nice to speak of Winterfell."
With a gentle smile despite the harshness of his features, Tyrion nodded, "It was nice to hear of it, though I do confess I had an alterative motive when I asked you."
All her more amorous thoughts immediately gave way to confusion and intrigue. "Did you?"
"Yes," he admitted, "I wanted to test a theory." Instead of speaking, Sansa waited for an explanation and was not disappointed. "I have noticed that you have little trouble speaking of the present or the days that have recently past. But the moment I ask about the time since you left King's Landing, you have more trouble speaking than an infant. I began to suspect that you were not able to draw on your past at all. I asked you for memories from your childhood to attempt to disprove this idea."
"I suppose I have caused you to retract your theory then," Sansa supplied.
"Not at all," Tyrion countered with a dismissive wave of his hand, "I have simply revised it. I now suspect that your memory works as well as ever. It is something else getting in the way of your speech, and I do not believe that something can be nice. It leaves me in a tough position."
"Why is that?" Sansa asked unbidden.
Tyrion turned to look at her more closely as he said, "Because I am torn between not wanting to cause you any more distress and needing to know who has caused you so much pain so that I can see them off accordingly." There was a fierceness in his face and his voice that made him seem as formidable as the strongest warrior despite his small stature.
Though she was sure it was not his intention, the words brought a rush of memories to her and her chest began to tighten. As her mind worked overtime, something red flashed before her eyes and the floor attempted to rush up and greet her again, but a pair of strong hands stopped her from meeting it. "Sansa," her husband whispered over and over, "Sansa, Sansa."
Eventually the fog began to clear, and she again became aware of Tyrion's arms around her and the gentle rocking of their bodies. She hadn't been away long this time, only a moment or so if she gauged it correctly. Righting herself, Sansa took her husband's hands in her own shaking palms. "Do not trouble to correct my past, Tyrion. I do not need that."
Tyrion himself was looking a little distressed, as if he had hoped he could vanquish her demons by bringing to justice whoever had harmed her. "What do you need, Sansa?" he asked with a troubled note in his voice and Sansa knew he felt helpless to her plight.
The answer surprised her, but the moment it left her lips she was certain of the truth of it. "You, my lord." A look of shock registered on Tyrion's face, but he didn't interrupt. "I feel more myself with you than I have in a long time. You make me forget who I was pretending to be and help me remember who I am. I do not need the past, Tyrion. What I need is to share the here and now with you."
It was possibly, no definitely, the most revealing thing she had ever said to him, but she found that in saying it a lot of her own doubts had disappeared. Tyrion struggled to process everything she had just said and Sansa watched his mouth open and shut a few times before she decided to take away his need to fill the silence with words.
Gracefully, Sansa moved so that her face was close enough to her husband's to press her lips softly against his. The kiss was brief- a mere brushing of her lips over his- and she realized all at once that this was too quick. Trying again, Sansa lowered her lips to his for perhaps a second longer before pulling slowly back, but this didn't satisfy the rush of feeling welling up within her. Deciding to try for a third time, Sansa pushed forward to connect her mouth once more to Tyrion's.
Perhaps he had been too shocked at first to realize what was happening, or perhaps he though himself dreaming, but when her lips touched his a third time and lingered, he was suddenly able to move. He kissed her back ardently with the force of all the kisses he had wanted to give her already. His arms had wound their way around her trying to pull her body closer to feel her against him.
Once Tyrion began kissing her back, Sansa was sure it would calm that feeling within her, but instead she found it was more like fanning the flames of a fire. His kisses only encouraged this unfamiliar thing within her and caused her to move her mouth more enjoying the feeling of his lips as they slid over her own. His hand encouraged her to move closer and she found that she did it gladly. There was no sense of shame or wrongness in this kiss as there had been in all the kisses she'd had previously. Sansa put her whole self into kissing Tyrion. It was easy to do as she wasn't currently pretending to be someone else or pretending to want something other than what she wanted. The last time she could remember being so true to herself she had been but a scrawny little girl with knobby knees and a figure as straight as a board.
Tyrion's lips pressed insistently against hers and Sansa responded by parting her own lips. It came as a little bit of a shock when his tongue slid easily into her mouth, and more of a surprise when it ran along her own and caused a wonderful sensation at the base of her spine. Her toes curled in her slippers and she pressed against him while her hands snaking their way behind his head to play with the hair at the nape of his neck.
As the kiss went on, Tyrion must have become more confident since his hand slipped from her back to her waist before inching slowly upward toward her breasts. His touch was so hesitant and gentle that Sansa smiled into their kiss and let him explore further.
In her experience, when a man wanted to touch her breasts he simply grabbed them as if they belonged to him, but Tyrion's touch was so fleeting that she almost wondered if she imagined his thumb ghosting over her nipple through her bodice. She sighed into the kiss and arched her back into his touch, pressing her breast fully into his palm. He became more certain then and began to touch her in earnest.
They would have continued in this vein had Emylee not come into the room with a call of, "Lady Lannister, do you need my help to prepare for dinner?" Sansa and Tyrion pulled apart. They hadn't locked the door and thus hadn't prevented the interruption. "Oh," Emylee blushed, "I, uh, I'll come back later m'lady."
A little too pink to speak, Sansa merely nodded at the girl before she caught her husband's eye. He smiled at her slowly and said, "I think you look lovely as ever, my lady. I doubt you need refreshing tonight. Shall we continue to our dinner?"
"Yes, please," she agreed taking his hand readily, his firm grasp helping ground her.
Later, when they retired to their bedroom for the evening Sansa was a bundle of nerves. Tyrion had given her time alone to prepare for bed as was his custom. The whole time Emylee spent combing Sansa's hair, the red head worried her fingers together apprehensively.
Earlier had been nice and she had found kissing Tyrion rather enjoyable; she was however nervous that since she submitted to him once that he would expect her to submit to him completely. These days she could acknowledge that she would be prepared to do that eventually, but it was a bit much all in one evening.
After Emylee left her, Sansa couldn't decide whether to lay down in bed or wait around for Tyrion. What would he expect her to do?
She didn't have long to fret as her husband came in just then. She turned to him with her hands clasped in front of her and realized that she didn't know whether her nerves were due to anticipation or worry. He had learned to read her well though, and approached her cautiously before asking if she wanted a glass of wine to ease her spirits.
"No thank you, my Lord," she said and knew that he'd understand from her words that she was uneasy so she added, "I am already tired."
"Shall we then?" he offered. Casting nervous eyes to the bed, Sansa nodded and followed, which caused her husband to laugh. "I'm not going to gobble you up, Sansa."
First she blushed, and then she huffed even though she was glad for him making light of the situation. "I know that," she insisted, "I just didn't know what we would do."
"We will sleep," Tyrion informed her.
"Just sleep?" Sansa repeated quizzically.
By now Tyrion had lain back against the pillow with his hands behind his head. "Unless you have something else in mind."
"I..." Sansa started but left off quickly. How had he turned this around on her?
Seeing that she was too flustered to speak, Tyrion piped up, "Come here, Sansa."
Obediently, and with more grace than she felt, Sansa slid over to her husband so that she was facing him on the bed. He lifted a hand gently to her cheek. "I told you once, my lady, that I would not touch you until you wanted me to. Perhaps I should add that I meant also when you wanted me to. One kiss does not mean you are read for all the activities of the marriage bed. When you are, I will be more than happy to oblige you, but until then we will only do what you are prepared to do. Also, if there is ever a time that you don't want to for whatever reason, we will refrain until you do."
"Truly?" Sansa asked knowing that in most Westrosi marriages women had little say in when the couplings took place.
Nodding, he assured her, "Always."
With a smile, Sansa whispered her thanks while her mind returned to the Vale where men viewed her as little more than a possession. If they had wanted kisses, they took them and whatever else they desired. It was a miracle she'd escaped intact. "Sansa, Sansa! Stay with me, Sansa."
Her eyes focused and she realized that Tyrion was sitting up now and holding her face with both hands looking rather concerned. "Sorry," she muttered blinking a few times. "I just..."
"I know," he agreed gently.
"Tyrion," she requested her voice clear even if a little higher pitched than usual, "I want you to kiss me."
"That I will do most gladly, my Lady," he grinned mischievously as he guided her face toward his. It was a nice kiss, slower than their first and less awkward. At length, Sansa leaned into Tyrion and he pulled her into him so that she was lying across his chest.
Through the silk of her shift, Sansa could feel Tyrion much more easily than she could through her dress earlier, and when he touched her through the flimsy material Sansa felt her body respond favorably. Curiously, Sansa moved one of her legs in between Tyrion's shorter legs until the bulk of his manhood was pressed against her hip. It wasn't the first time she felt a man's hardness against her, but it was the first time she sought it out. This time she found that having him pressed into her created a curious sensation in her belly that shot down into her most intimate places.
When Tyrion's leg slipped between hers and found it's way up to touch that very place, Sansa gasped. Immediately, Tyrion pulled back. "No," Sansa complained, "I don't mean... Don't stop, please."
Slowly Tyrion began to kiss her lips once more before trailing down over her jaw and eventually to her neck. Rather enjoying the sensation, Sansa gave a slight moan and tangled her fingers in Tyrion's hair. The shoulder of her shift began to slip under Tyrion's ministrations and Sansa closed her eyes as Tyrion's lips moved over the newly exposed skin. Just as she began to wonder what it would feel like if his lips traveled lower to her breasts, Tyrion's kissed moved upward again to her neck and continued until they found her lips once more, Sansa kissing him eagerly. They carried on for some time until Tyrion pulled away slightly and planted a kiss on the tip of her nose. "Best get some sleep, my dear. We have only a few days before we must meet with the Queen."
After nodding, Sansa was about to push herself over to her side of the bed, but then thought better of it. Instead, she rested her head upon Tyrion's shoulder and wrapped one slender arm about his waist. As soon as she settled in, she felt Tyrion's lips upon her forehead. "Good night, my Lady," he crooned softly.
"Good night, Tyrion," she echoed. That night Sansa fell asleep in her husband's arms while his blunt fingers traced soft circles on her shoulder. Sleep came quickly and was blissfully deep.
The days leading up to the meeting with the queen pasted all too quickly and in a sort of hazy blur. She spent as much of her time with both Emylee and Tyrion practicing her conversation, trying to catch up on the courtly affairs, and remembering who was in favor and who was not. In the end, she never felt ready and yet the day still came when she would meet the queen.
Her nerves woke her early that morning and even after a warm bath, the cold anticipation in her stomach did not dissipate. When Emylee asked her how she wanted her hair done for the day, Sansa thought a moment and decided that Daenerys was not from King's Landing anymore than she had been- there was no need to wear an elaborate southern style to impress this queen. Sansa decided to wear her hair braided in a more demure northern style- it suited her and reminded her of where she was from.
The dress was a different matter, though. Originally she had planned on wearing a grey and white dress in the colors of her father's house, but when she went to dress, she instead decided on a cloth-of-gold dress. It was odd as the colors of crimson and gold once caused her stomach to churn, but her growing affection for Tyrion had changed her perception slightly. Though her world these days was scarcely larger than their chambers, Sansa recognized that she and Tyrion were the only ones left to carry the name- Jaime had escaped to the free cities with some odd knightly companion and when Cersei realized her games were at an end, she took her own life to deny the new Queen the pleasure. Tommen and Myrcella were permitted to live at Casterly Rock with an aunt of Tyrion's, but their name had been changed from Baratheon to Waters.
Finding out all that was left of Lannister house was her husband, some illegitimate children and a few aunts and cousins that Tyrion assured her was of a goodly disposition, Sansa realized the colors and name no longer haunted her the way they once had. And the gold dress did look quite nice on her. Since the fabric was rather elaborate, Sansa refrained from wearing jewelry or any real adornments. She had no idea what Queen Daenerys wore usually, and it wouldn't do to accidentally dress more lavishly than a queen.
When Tyrion came to collect her for the dinner, he stopped in the doorway with his eyes racking over her and his mouth slightly agape. Her husband recovered quickly and crossed the room to her. "My lady, after weeks of looking upon your fair face, I still find myself completely stunned by your beauty."
Sansa's cheeks reddened as he bent slightly to kiss her hand and with an embarrassed laugh she whispered, "Thank you, My Lord. I hope the same might be true when it has been a few years and not simply a few weeks." Though she merely meant to quip back at him, her words made her realize for the first time that she truly did see herself with Tyrion in years' time. She had come to him because he was safe, and had found an ally and a friend. When she first arrived at King's Landing in the middle of the night, she'd only been able to focus on the present-and barely at that. But already after a few weeks, she could see herself moving forward toward an actual future even though she'd given up on planning a future years ago.
The smile on her husband's face meant that he hadn't missed that she'd referred to their future together as husband and wife. "You will always be the loveliest creature I have ever beheld," he whispered offering her his arm. "Shall we." With a nervous nod, Sansa took the proffered arm and walked stiffly beside him, their flirting had offered only a momentary distraction.
Everyone they passed on the way to the Queen's chambers stopped to watch Tyrion and Sansa go by. Gossip traveled quickly in King's Landing and rumors caught like wildfire. The truth was strange enough, Sansa reasoned, and judging by the set of her husbands shoulders, the rumors had been numerous. Tyrion Lannister's long lost bride returning in the dead of night unable to speak or leave his chambers- what stories they must have come up with to explain her malady! Some of the eyes on her were simply curious, while others looked on with pity. Still, some eyed her warily while a whisper of the word mad seemed to echo off the walls around her.
For a moment, a panic rose within her remembering the shame and ridicule that followed her around the capitol as a child, but then the presence of her husband beside her reassured her. There had certainly been a vast amount of unsavory talk following Tyrion here before the war and yet he had never been afraid to show his face. Lifting her chin, Sansa smiled sweetly and offered courteous greetings. Whatever meek or mad display the onlookers had been expecting was sadly disappointed by the normality of her addresses. Beside her Tyrion smirked as the on-lookers returned her greetings and went back to their own business. When they finally arrived at the Queen's solar, Sansa was feeling a good deal more confident.
As they walked into the once familiar chamber, Sansa realized that she too would have her own expectations thrown off that evening as well. For some reason she had been imagining the Queen Daenerys as tall, fierce and formidable- truthfully she'd been picturing something akin to Cersei with the famed Targaryen coloring. But Queen Daenerys was as far from Cersei as one could possibly get. Though they were not close together, Sansa realized the other woman was at least a head shorter than herself. And while Cersei had been tall and slender, Daenerys's smaller body was as curved as Sansa's own. Though Sansa knew that this Queen had been much affected by hardship in her life, her eyes lacked the bitterness and hatred that had occupied Cersei's. Instead, Daenerys's violet eyes held a curious spark of insight and mischief while a cloying smile danced about her lips.
It was a strange sort of shock to find that the Queen did not look much a conqueror, but Sansa quickly realized that the other woman had been underestimated quite frequently. The one useful thing Petyr had taught her was to read people and so Sansa knew better than to make the same mistake. There was a shrewdness about Daenerys's countenance and Sansa knew that this woman possessed more knowledge that she let on. Aside from that, this Queen was very much a mystery. The queens she'd dealt with in the past always seemed to hold people at an arm's length, yet this one appeared truly fond of those she considered friends.
Tyrion was greeted favorably and he in turn introduced the Queen and Sansa. "Ah, Lady Lannister," Daenerys intoned as one side of her lip quirked up in an amused smirk, "I have long awaited meeting you."
There was something easy and playful in the Queen's demeanor and Sansa realized it was probably easy to forget yourself with the Queen. She absently wondered how many people had forgotten their formalities and found themselves telling the Queen more than they intended. Daenerys might not look the part of a conqueror, but Sansa somehow sensed at least part of how she did it. And even with just so brief a meeting, she could see why people followed her easily. Even Sansa, who was far too inclined to distrust people these days, found herself immediately warming up to the Queen. With a curtsey, Sansa apologized, "I beg your pardon, Your Grace. I fear I was ill and not quite myself. I am still recovering from what has befallen."
With a nod and a wave of her hand Daenerys bid them be seated and to begin eating, "Think nothing of it," she dismissed, "all women are indisposed at times, and for your sake and that of your husband I hope you may be indisposed some months from now as well." The Queen winked at Sansa causing a blush to rise in her cheeks at the Queen's implication. The sight caused the Queen to laugh, "Tyrion, it seems your wife still plays the part of a blushing bride. No doubt you two were quite eager to get reacquainted after such a long time apart."
A glance at Tyrion told Sansa that he was both trying to find something to say that neither offended Sansa and their new trust nor called their union into question in front of the Queen. Saving him the trouble, Sansa reached out and touched his hand and smiled softly. "Indeed, Your Grace, we have become reacquainted and are now met with much merrier circumstances. King's Landing is much changed since my Lord Husband and I parted and it is for the better. We have much to thank you for, Your Grace."
The Queen smiled, evidently finding the answer pleasing. "I am glad to hear it and glad also that you have returned to us. Tyrion sent word out to find you even before we crossed to the capitol and was met everywhere with silence." At this Sansa eyed her husband; she hadn't known he had been looking for her even before she showed up. The Queen continued, "Your return to us was quite miraculous. We are all anxious to know where you could have been hiding so well all this time."
A knot grew in Sansa's stomach as she tried to formulate a response and her mouth became very dry. Her plight must have been evident, because the Queen quirked one elegant brow as Tyrion reached for Sansa's hand.
It was Tyrion's turn to save her from having to speak. "Your Grace, my Lady wife is almost recovered, but it distresses her greatly to think back on this time. From what I have gathered, she cannot speak of it and when she tries to recall it, she is often overtaken by fits."
Sansa tried to control her breathing as it would be quite embarrassing to have an episode in front of the Queen. The other woman looked at her queerly and worried her bottom lip for a moment. "Then perhaps we do not want to hear of it after all," she wondered aloud, "When someone is left with such a deep scar, it is unlikely their circumstances were pleasant."
Nodding, Sansa whispered in response, "Thank you, Your Grace."
The Queen's shrewd violet eyes were solemn while they regarded Sansa once more and she nodded in return. Perhaps to spare her more distress the Queen addressed Tyrion, and the two of them began to talk of more current news in the realm. There were still places where disputes were being settled and vassals whose loyalty Daenerys still considered uncertain at best. Sansa took some time to compose herself and it wasn't until she heard the word "Winterfell" that the conversation received her full attention once more.
"The raven just came in this morning. Only a few days after they arrived-" noting Sansa's interest on the conversation she added, "they left for Winterfell shortly before you turned up here. When they arrived, they sent the masonries and carpenters around to assess the damages and the cost of rebuilding."
Something about this speech made Sansa feel cold, and her breathing became slightly irregular. Tyrion glanced at her worriedly, but the Queen continued without pause. "When they got to the green houses, they found a body! Usually a single dead body in a ruined castle wouldn't cause alarm, but they realized his clothing was very fine- or had been- and so they took lengths to identify the body. It wasn't easy, as a part of his face had been obscured by a spear of some sorts, but eventually they realized who it was."
Sansa's fingers gripped tightly on the arms of her chair even as her husband, intrigued, leaned forward and asked, "Who was it?"
"That missing Lord from the Vale, Littlemember, was it?"
"Littlefinger," Tyrion supplied, as Sansa's vision swam and she struggled to find her next breath. "Petyr Baelish is dead? Are you certain? He is the sort of man who would fake such an ordeal to gain an edge."
The Queen returned, "It is confirmed by people who knew him personally. The strange thing is, no one knows how it happened. He was left alone there, and if anyone else was there with him, they left no sign of it. The death was relatively recent too, only a couple months gone."
"Still, what could Baelish have been doing in Winterfell?" Perhaps the word Winterfell caused them both to look at Sansa because suddenly Tyrion's arms were around her and she could hear him calling her name. Someone must have shrieked, but Sansa couldn't tell who because her vision went dark and images she'd hoped to forget flashed before her eyes at an alarming pace almost before she could even sort them out. Her face was wet and her body shaking, but she was powerless to stop it. The last image stayed the longest, the jagged piece of broken wood and metal sticking straight through the back of his skull and coming out through his eye socket. And the blood, so much blood, dripping from his body covering her clothes and soaking the snow in crimson.
Eventually she became aware of Tyrion's strong arms holding her and stroking her hair and she grabbed at his shirt with two hands and buried her head in his chest. Only when the noise around her became muffled did Sansa realize she was the one shrieking.
When the tremors finally stopped and Tyrion's reassuring words had calmed her a little, Sansa spoke without removing her head from Tyrion's chest. "I did it," she sounded, her voice ringing much clearer than she trusted it to, "I killed Petyr Baelish."
She felt Tyrion stiffen and heard the Queen gasp, and Sansa was suddenly afraid she'd lose them both as allies and wondered how she could even fix any of it. "I- I-" she stammered, "I didn't have a choice."
And before she quite knew what she was doing the whole story began to spill from her lips beginning with Joffrey's treatment of her moving onto Ser Dantos and the Tyrell plot. By the time she spoke of the wedding night and how she discovered Littlefinger was behind it all she had sat up away from Tyrion so he and the Queen could see her and she them. Neither of them made a sound as the words poured out of her. Tyrion had told her his story over several nights with jokes and witticisms, nuances and theatrics. Sansa's story had none of these elements- it simply struggled to get out of her as quickly as it could.
With great pain she told of he Vale and what became of her Aunt Lysa. Tyrion's lips tightened when she mentioned Littlefinger kissing her, but to his credit he said nothing. Her eyes welled up again as she told of Robert and the sweetsleep blaming herself for the child's death even though Petyr claimed it was inevitable. When she told about Harry and Petyr and the way they treated her- demanding much more than she was willing to give- both Tyrion and Daenerys looked uneasy.
They understood that Littlefinger's plan to marry her to Harry was to gain her the Lords of the Vale, and often supplied guesses as to what he's been up to. She mentioned Petyr's plan to wait until the last moment to reveal her identity. It wasn't until news of Tyrion's death- now obviously a false account- reached the Vale that things began to move faster.
First came Harry's accident: an ill placed blow during a practiced bout that left him unable to sire any more children legitimate or otherwise. It nearly caused him to break the marriage agreement until Petyr revealed to him Sansa's true identity. He had sent her away then and she had been glad that Harry wouldn't be able to demand anything more than kisses from her anymore. That was until Petyr told her what he and Harry had planned. They'd kept the result of the injury between themselves and the physician so while Harry would take Sansa as a bride and rule the North in her name as well as the Vale, Petyr would see to it that Sansa's belly began to swell and no one would know of Harry's impairment. The young knight seized the opportunity for power just as Petyr predicted.
Harry was able to walk without a cane by the wedding and Petyr assured him that as soon as they secured Winterfell he'd make sure Sansa was with child. So Sansa was married a second time-to a husband who couldn't consummate the marriage- and was whisked away to Winterfell. Her traveling party was small and set out a few days after the Vale forces lead by Harry.
When Sansa's party arrived, not much was left in Winterfell- even the evidence of the other troops that had come to try and hold the castle were gone. No one was left there to oppose them. Petyr looked at Winterfell with a hungry smile that turned Sansa's insides to ice. His plan was almost complete when one of the scouts ran out holding a dead raven and a note that he'd intercepted on it's way to the Night's Watch. News of Queen Daenerys's arrival was spreading through the land as well as news of those advisors and supporters in her party- Tyrion among them.
The Vale lords were in an uproar. If Sansa's husband wasn't dead, then her marriage to Harry wasn't legitimate. Things began to unravel quickly and Harry- not keen on going up against Lannisters, particularly one on the side of a Dragon Queen- revealed his affliction and the fact that their marriage was never consummated. That was good enough for most of the Vale lords and they packed up to leave right away. The lack of reserve supplies was daunting, and the Vale forces were all too happy to leave the dreaded North. They had found the North not as much to their liking as they'd anticipated. They warned Littlefinger to leave as well, that there was nothing but death in the North, and he'd lost his supporters as well when they found out he- assuming Tyrion lost forever- fabricated the story of his death and paid for false evidence to be sent to Cersei. Rallied behind their true lord Harry, the Vale lords revealed their intention to return home.
But they didn't ignore the fact that Sansa was a wanted criminal. The Vale Lords had started to discuss whether it would be better to turn Sansa over to the Queen now that they knew the marriage was false. It had become evident to them that they'd need to pick a side in the south where the fighting was happening. They reasoned that as the Starks had a hand in overthrowing the Targaryen realm, even the Dragon Queen would be anxious to receive Sansa and exact revenge on those who had wronged the Targaryens. Soon the question turned to which Queen should they should present Sansa to- it had been decided that gifting her would be enough to buy their way onto one of the sides.
This terrified Sansa and crafty Petyr helped her hide and escape the Vale Lords. When the Lords finally gave up the search and retreated, Petyr mused, that they didn't need much the two of them. As he lifted her hair and placed slimy kisses on her neck, he reminded her that he had brought her home and restored her to Winterfell. He demanded that she take him as a husband and claim Winterfell for him- after all, he argued women are prone to falling in love and he'd rescued her more than once. The Northern Lords would hear of her love for him and his protection of her and would flock to their sides to aid the last of the Stark family. Only Sansa didn't love Petyr, she could hardly stand him or his kisses or his hands. And here without his knights to do his dirty work and in her own home, she felt less frightened by him and his motives.
"I'm not sure how it happened," Sansa explained her breathing heavy, "but when he began to lift my skirts I panicked. There was no one left around to see what he'd do. He spun me around to get at my small clothes and his eyes were wild and hungry! He was angry, so angry! Everything he'd worked for was ruined. All he had left was me, and he intended to... " Sansa shook her head back and forth with the effort of keeping her thoughts focused.
"I couldn't think of anything else to do, so I pushed him. He... he didn't expect it. I had been ever obedient before no matter how wretched he was. He stumbled backwards and tripped over a broken beam. I had already turned to run when I heard the sound... It was awful. I didn't want to look, but my body turned around on it's own. He'd fallen on the rest of the beam that was still standing... it... had gone straight through his skull.
"I froze for a long time, not knowing what to do. By the time some sense came too me and I turned and fled, I was covered in his blood. I couldn't stand there one more second. I had to leave. I was at the gate of the castle before I even remembered that I was utterly alone. I thought perhaps if I ran I could catch up with the Vale lords and beg for their mercy."
"But Clegane found your first," Tyrion supplied when she trailed off.
"In a way," Sansa confirmed, "but it was I who came upon him. I was running as fast as I could along the King's Road when I saw them battling. The other man was even bigger than Sandor, and I think they'd been fighting some time because Sandor had several wounds. The other man's helm had been knocked off and he looked more like a corpse than a knight. The flesh was rotting away from his face and he had no eyes, only holes in his skull. The skin that remained on him was a sickly grey color except for around his eyes, which were ringed in black. His face was so marred that I couldn't make anything of it. My mind was already addled and when I saw that monstrous face, I screamed!
"It distracted the beast just long enough for Sandor to swing his blade and sever that ghastly head. I think I fainted then. The next thing I remember was Sandor waking me up and putting me on his horse. After he was certain I wasn't about to die, he took me away from there. At the first town we found he acquired a new dress for me. I think I was a little better after that, with the blood gone. That was when I was able to understand the things he said to me and remember them.
"He told me he was living on an island with brothers devoted to the Seven." Tyrion scoffed and Sansa felt her lips quirk up in recognition, "Well I don't think he himself was particularly devoted, but he said he liked the quiet. Word spread to the island that Cersei had a monstrous man in her employ and Sandor suspected from the description that he knew who it was and tracked him down. Apparently he went by a different name now, but Sandor swore that the man he killed on the King's Road near Winterfell was his brother, even his brother had been reported as dead."
"Cersei had such a knight sworn to her if I am not mistaken," Tyrion mused. "He fought for her in a trial by combat. Ser Robert Strong, they called him. He was a member of the Kingsguard, but he went missing before we came to King's Landing. When the other Kingsguard knights were questioned, no one knew where he was, but more than one said they'd never seen him eat or drink and said he must have gone back to whatever hell he'd been summoned from. Eventually we questioned the man Qyburn and though we got no real answers, he laughed like a mad man and raved about how marvelous Robert Strong was. Qyburn was later put to death when his other experiments came to light."
With a nod Sansa finished her story. "There isn't much more to tell after that. Sandor kept me safe and fed for a while. We moved around quite a bit- people didn't take kindly to the sight of him. I'm not sure how long we travelled... I wasn't very together in those days, but eventually he wanted to take me to my family. I asked to be taken to my husband instead of my brother."
Tyrion gave her a sympathetic look, though his body was still rigid and tense with anger. It made Sansa wonder if she just ruined everything they had built up between them. Would he view her differently knowing she'd killed a man? And she'd been wed to Harry almost as soon of word of Tyrion's death reached the Vale. How angry he must be that she'd cast him aside so quickly! It had been at Petyr's bidding, but would that matter now? She had only just realized what she had in Tyrion, and wasn't ready to lose it.
A noise from the Queen quickly reminded Sansa that she and Tyrion were not alone and she glanced nervously at Daenerys. It soon dawned on her that it was the first time Sansa met the Queen of Westeros and she'd admitted freely to murder and being a plaything for two men that were not her husband. Now that the storytelling was over Sansa suddenly felt sick. Perhaps the small peace she found here was at an end... she was after all guilty. Would she be tried and executed as a murderer after all? When she'd come to King's Landing she hadn't even wondered that as she couldn't think on Petyr's death without getting sick.
When at length the Queen spoke, Sansa could hardly believe her words. "It is a good thing for him you killed him then, because his fate would have been much worse had he stood trial."
Looking up at the Queen through her wet eyelashes Sansa couldn't even speak. Luckily Daenerys continued and saved her the trouble, "That man is the vilest sort of man, and a traitor I do not wish to have scheming in my courts. We have been looking for him as he stands accused of many other crimes as well, and I do not take kindly to men that prey upon and use young girls."
"Am I..." Sansa started, "Am I not to be punished?"
The Queen actually snorted with a laugh. "Heavens no!" she exclaimed, "you were ill used and fought against your jailor. In addition, your story has brought to light the endings of two wanted criminals as well as given me many names that I intend to pay close attention in the future. Many people killed during the war, I see this as no different than another battle." With a sharp turn of her head, the Queen looked to Sansa's husband. "Tyrion," she addressed him with narrowed eyes, "Baelish is dead and while I know you will want revenge on the other parties involved, I suggest you not act without consulting me. Remember, your flight from King's Landing is what led you to my court. We will come up with something for the Tyrells soon, and we will do something to assure the allegiance of those Vale Lords as well. For now, I suggest you take your wife back to your rooms. She looks quite shaken and in need of a rest."
With that, they were dismissed and sent back to their rooms. Sansa didn't even notice the emptiness of the halls until they were almost at their chamber door and said so.
"It is late, My Lady," Tyrion informed her, "You were out some time with your fit and the story was quite long. I would assume most of the castle went to bed a couple hours ago."
Sansa noted the strain in his voice and all she could say was, "Oh."
When they entered the room Tyrion bid her get ready for bed and he retired to the adjoining room. Sansa dressed quickly and he was so long coming back to their bedroom that she wondered if he'd even come back at all. For her part, she couldn't sleep. It seemed like there was something important she needed to say still, but she had no idea what it was.
Eventually his footsteps came into the room and she felt the bed dip under his weight as he lay down. For a moment Sansa lay still wondering whether to remain where she was or let him know she was awake. In the end she rolled over to him. "Tyrion," she asked softly, "Are you angry?"
He looked at her for a moment before he said, "I thought you had already gone to sleep."
"I can't sleep," she whispered simply.
With a sigh he nodded, "nor can I." She thought that might be the end of it, but after a couple minutes he began to speak. "I'm not angry- not at you anyway. Though I am considering hiring a necromancer to revive Littlefinger simply so I can tear him to pieces myself." Despite herself Sansa laughed and Tyrion argued, "You laugh but there are plenty in the free cities," but even he gave a small chortle then.
Another moment of silence stretched between them before Sansa timidly piped up, "Tyrion?"
"Hmm?" he mused looking at her.
Even before she spoke her face turned red. "Petyr and Harry... They never... "
Tyrion shook his head and cut her off tersely, "You don't have to tell me this Sansa." But from how tense his body became, she knew he thought the worst.
Placing her delicate hand firmly on his chest over his nightshirt, she insisted, "But I do Tyrion. I do because I want you to know they never had me." Her husband had stilled at this and Sansa had found that her hand had slipped a little, her fingertips seeking out the warm skin of his chest. "They kissed me and they..." she swallowed hating the word, "groped... me over my clothing, but that was it. They intended to do more, both of them, but neither accomplished any more than that. It was why I reacted so strongly when Petyr lifted my skirts and tried to take me in the greenhouse. I hated every minute that either of them touched me! I hated their hands and their lips! I didn't want them to touch me at all! And Petyr was the worst! He made me pretend to be his daughter, made me call him Father, and then did to me things no father would ever do! I never wanted to be touched again!"
Tyrion was looking at her intently and she knew that as much as he didn't want to hear about the other men who wanted her, he wouldn't stop her from speaking. With a deep breath Sansa continued, "When we were first married, I didn't trust you because you were a Lannister and after everything Joffrey, Cersei and your father did, I couldn't imagine that you were not out to use me as well." Tyrion opened his lips to speak, but Sansa quickly moved her hand from his chest to his lips to stop him from interrupting. "No, let me finish, love. I know now that isn't true, but back then I believed that everyone in King's Landing was out to get me. Of course I wasn't with Littlefinger more than a couple weeks before he was pawing at me all the time. And Harry tried to kiss me the very day he met me. Soon I began to realize what it must have been for you to be married to me, to share my bed, know I was legally yours for the taking and still restrain even with your father demanding you to take me. It wasn't until I was away that I realized this and I realized that I trusted you. I began to regret not telling you about Dantos and the hairnet. The more Petyr pressed me, the more I wondered whether you could have kept me safe from him. I was a fool..."
"You were scared and miserable," Tyrion interjected through her fingers, so Sansa moved them away and let them linger down his cheek to his neck.
"But still a fool," she insisted. "When Sandor found me he wanted to take me back to my family in Winterfell."
"Why didn't you go there then?" he asked when she trailed off.
Looking up into his mismatched eyes, Sansa sighed. "Because after they uncovered what happened, they would have had me examined by the Septas and realized I was still a maid. They would have had our marriage annulled and married me off to some Lord or another for an alliance that had little to do with me and I didn't want that."
Swallowing before he spoke, Tyrion asked, "What did you want?"
"To be with someone I can trust," she replied. She looked at him a long time after this and though he had grown no more beautiful than he had been on their wedding night, she gazed upon his familiar visage and found him endearing. "Even now. I've been here nearly a month, Tyrion. I came mostly back to myself quite a bit ago and have kissed you of my own free will and to my own enjoyment. And still you hold back so as not to cause me discomfort."
"I told you I would do nothing that you didn't want me to," he shrugged as if it were nothing. But Sansa's experience had taught her that other men were greedier than that.
"I know," she nodded, "and I thank you for that Tyrion, for giving me time and space and for showing me I can trust you." After pausing to emphasize her next point she stated plainly, "Tyrion, I do want you."
Tyrion blinked and shook his head as if confused. "Are you saying..."
"Yes, Tyrion," Sansa insisted, "I want you."
"Right now?" he asked as though he didn't believe it.
"Yes," she whispered moving closer to him. "Reliving all that today... I hated it! It's like living it all over again and I don't want that. I hated how they made me feel. Tyrion I want you to take me. I want to know what it feels like when..." Sansa blushed and turned her head away.
Catching her cheek softly, he gently turned her face back to his. "When what?" he asked.
Taking a deep breath, she steeled her nerves and said, "When you're touched by someone you love."
There was a sharp intake of breath before Tyrion pulled her close and kissed her. Pulling back slightly he whispered, "And do you love me, Sansa?"
Nodding into his hand she whispered, "Very much. Do you love me?"
He kissed her again and laughed against her lips, "Foolish girl! I love you more than anything."
There was no hesitation between them then, as they both sought comfort from the other's body, pulling off clothing and kissing newly uncovered flesh. Sansa reveled in her husband's touch and almost couldn't believe anything could feel so good. His hands excited her as they made their way across her body. And though the moment he first entered her was marked by a sharp stinging sensation, the pain subsided quickly and Sansa found herself enjoying the curious new feeling of having him inside her. There was more than hunger and lust between them, and a strange idea came to her that he wasn't simply filling her with his body but with everything he felt for her as well. Soon her thoughts abandoned her completely as he was moving faster within her and her own body, possessed by some force she never had imagined before, moved faster and faster against his own. A moan escaped her and she thought it might have been embarrassing until she noted the reaction it caused in her husband. After that she didn't try so hard to stay quiet. Losing herself, the feelings overwhelmed her until her body began to shake as her excitement peeked. Tyrion's heavy hiss of "Yes," reassured Sansa that this was supposed to happen and she whimpered as the pleasure overtook her. With a few more strokes, Tyrion called out her name and spent his hot seed inside her.
Their joining was sweet and when they collapsed sated and sweaty in each other's embrace, Tyrion laughed. "I'm glad you refused me on our wedding night."
"You are?" Sansa asked surprised.
"Yes, I'd much rather hear you moaning my name and begging for my touch than tolerating it out of duty."
Sansa blushed crimson remembering how wanton his ministrations made her feel. She struggled for a response, but when none came she pulled her husband toward her and kissed him deeply instead. It didn't take them long to fall asleep after that, as exhausted as they were. And Sansa's last thought as she lay naked lazily in Tyrion's embrace was that perhaps what they'd just done would result in a child. The thought had once terrified her, but tonight it simply made her smile and filled her with dreams for what their future might bring.
Author's Note: Alright, that's the last of it! Thanks for reading! I am sorry if this chapter felt long in coming. I am at the stage in my pregnancy where I am exhausted again, and I have been busy getting ready to go out of town. (Wanted to get this posted first though!) I hope you enjoyed it! Getting this posted makes me want to go through some of the many other Tyrion/Sansa fics I've written but haven't yet edited up on the site. Maybe when we get back. ;) Anyhow, thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!