A/N: Mel. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT read this. Do not read until you've read all five books. Major spoilers. Unholy amounts of them. Of the worst variety.
Got that over with.
Another warning: lots of references to rape and torture and everything that comes with Ramsay. nothing on-page.
The title and bookend quotes come from the song "She" by Laura Mvula, which is pretty much the perfect Jeyne song. Fits Sansa quite well too, and is absolutely gorgeous.
And now to business.
There she waits looking for a savior; someone to save her from a dying self.
Jeyne cries herself to sleep on her wedding night, and drifts in darkness, lost, a thousand shattered, scattered pieces of herself. She had been a ghost bride, shrouded in gray and white, bearing a dead girl's name. Later, naked and pale under the dim glare of candlelight, she'd wrapped herself in bloodstained bedsheets and curled up like a wounded animal, kicked and keening.
Her dreams are a whiteout, a single color pressing in on all sides, blinding her, forcing her to her knees beneath the high walls of a castle made of snow. On the frozen moat, captive swans march, their shuffling footsteps soundless.
She had seen swans, once, in a garden in the south. She and Sansa walked alongside the pond, hand in hand, before it all went wrong. The swans' wings were clipped, pinning them to the ground like so many feathered toys, unable to soar. The thought had made her sad, even then, but it had been summer's end, green and golden, and the birds had been so beautiful. Her sorrow had faded quickly.
Now, when she wakes, the lingering threads of memory, bright in her mind, make her weep all over again. She lies in bed, hiding with the quilt over her head, trying to keep from shaking.
"If you stay under the covers when you're afraid at night, you'll be perfectly safe," Sansa had told little Bran a very long time ago. Jeyne hadn't needed the comfort of blankets then. She had been eleven, and happy, and too old to believe in monsters that come at night and steal your soul bit by bit.
She doesn't know how many hours it is until she finally stands, her trembling, strained legs tripping over the ruined dress on the floor. Outside the window, the sky is blue and cloudless, as if it's mocking her. The blazing color of it sears at her sore eyes, blurred as they are with the tears she can't seem to hold back. She crosses the room, limping like a battered survivor of a battle no one ever asked if she wanted to fight in. Tucking one hand around each stone lip of the window frame, she braces herself. Iron bars dissect the horrible blue, cutting it neatly into checkered light that falls cold and clear on her face. If she closes her eyes, she can feel winter sweeping across the marks of her dear husband's love. The cold makes her numb, and she cannot feel his bloody kisses or the sore patches where he tore out her hair.
But winter is a double-aged sword, and even though it scrapes away some of the pain, it drives deep to her brittle bones, making her shake worse than ever. So she slides down, her legs suddenly too weak to hold her, and crawls across the floor. She grabs onto the soft fabric of her blanket, clutching it tight as a lifeline, and pulls it down on top of her, huddling into herself to try and keep warm.
When the door opens, she twists around, heart thumping painfully, feet scrabbling against the matted gray fur of the unfortunate wolves who died to cover the floor. Her bruised ribs and hip bones creak and scream in protest at the sudden movement. It's only Theon, though, slipping into her room like a pale thin shadow, and she chokes out her relief in a dry sob.
He stumbles across the room and stands in front of her, nervously twisting what's left of his fingers together in front of him. The winestains from her wedding feast are still splayed across his lap, splashes the faded red of old blood. She looks up, and he looks down. Their eyes meet.
She would have known Theon by his eyes if by nothing else. The deep color of them, almost black, had been distinctive even before, but they were yet more striking now, overwhelmingly large in his starved face. Their darkness burns against his skin, translucent, the shade of old snow, his bones sharp beneath.
He had stared at her all through the wedding, his eyes wide and frightened, and even pitying, which was odd from one so pitiful. He had undressed her as carefully as his clumsy mangled hands would allow, and warned her without a sound not to resist. But when she had been in bed on her back, he had averted his eyes, refusing to look at her face, and when he touched her she knew they could feel each other shaking.
Perhaps it's the memory of that which makes them both look away now. Jeyne glances across the room, looking at the snarling wolf's heads carved around the edges of a chest, howling defiance.
More wolves. I don't belong here.
"You should dress. It's too cold."
Theon's voice is small and meek as a mouse, and she wouldn't have heard it if the room hadn't been so utterly, searingly silent. All of a sudden she wants to scream until her throat is raw and aching, to howl like a true wolf, but the noise catches and dies in her mouth.
"I haven't any clothes," she says instead. "You cut my gown all to pieces."
His voice is louder this time.
"I can't—I have to, you have to do your duty and I have to do mine."
She looks back up at him now, accusing him and looking for comfort all at once, and he takes a crooked step back.
Again the same words.
"You didn't deserve that, you didn't fight him. I didn't think he'd—with the knife— you were good."
Theon swallows. It looks to pain him.
"There are dresses in the chest over there. I can fetch you one."
He crosses the room, moving slowly so as not to stagger. The lid with the snarling wolves goes up jerkily and rests against the wall.
The first dress he lifts out is a dark pink, almost raspberry. Jeyne shakes her head. It reminds her of her husband's colors and her bridal cloak, and that makes her feel as if she might throw up.
The second is a light buttery yellow. It is light and cheery and everything she isn't, and it reminds her of a dress she used to have, when she was very small. Jeyne nods fervently and begins to cry again.
Theon lets it fall across the wolfskins next to her, careful not to touch her. She clutches it to her chest, like a wadded up scrap of everything that used to be right in the world.
Theon turns away, crouching down with his back against the wall by her bed. Jeyne lifts the dress over her head and pulls it down around her, the wool scratchy soft against her cuts and bruises. The back is unlaced, and gapes open around the curl of her spine. It fits her somewhat well, and she wonders briefly who wore it before her and what happened to them.
Theon listens to her sob for a while, and then speaks again.
"I can…I can get you more wine tonight. If you like. You might need it to sleep."
She might have asked him if he is this way, but she already knows the answer.
Jeyne is grateful for the offer, almost pathetically so, and then angry for being grateful, and then guilty for being angry.
Still, he is the closest thing to kindness in this new Winterfell, and she is glad for that, at least. She ought to thank him somehow, but she has nothing to give except what she's already had taken several times over. All the men she's known like to be kissed, but she doesn't think she ever wants to kiss anyone again. Besides, Jeyne remembers the way he pulled away from her before, and thinks he might feel the same.
Instead, she reaches out and lays her hand next to his, her five fingertips next to his three, almost brushing. He flinches, but doesn't move. For long moments, they simply breathe.
She walked towards you with her head down low. She wondered if there was a way out of the blue. Who's gonna take her home this time?