Summary: Cries of "fetch the prince's sister" bring Sansa to Jon's tent.
Cries of "fetch the prince's sister" bring Sansa to Jon's tent. For a tent intended for a prince, it looks common, hard to pick out amongst the others, and certainly nothing like Daenerys' elaborate tent, but she knows it well. She needs no one to guide her to the heavy canvas flap. As she pulls it back, the sharp tang of blood assaults her.
The light is muted, and she blinks, taking a nearly sightless step forward, too anxious to wait for her eyes to fully adjust. Jon lays out on the cot, his face as pale as ice, his eyes staring up, and his lower torso wrapped tightly with linens that are already stained crimson. Sam stands alongside the prince, outlined by the light of a flickering oil lamp.
She looks to him for answers, brows raised in wordless question. It is just a small shake of his head, but she understands. Sansa has lived through enough unthinkable tragedies to know that the worst things are always possible. Even Jon's death on the eve on what everyone insists will be victory, an end to this frozen war. She is to lose him right at the end, when happiness was within her grasp. Still, she reaches, trying to catch at some thread that might save them.
"The Red Woman?"
"He says not to bring her."
Not unsurprising. Sansa nods. "Thank you, Sam."
With a face gone red with barely contained emotion, Sam brushes her elbow with a trembling hand, the only support he can offer, as he exits the tent. Jon is brave in death, they must be brave too. Sansa forces herself to move towards the narrow cot. Part of her wants to hang back to delay the leave taking, but she steels herself and perches on the edge, where there is just enough room at his hip to sit beside him.
This is to be it then, their goodbyes.
His hands lie splayed over the bloodied bandages, as if to hold whatever wants to spill out in. If they were doing any good, she would let them be, but clearly the pressure of the bandages and whatever hasty stitching Sam may have attempted are doing nothing to stop the flow of his blood. His hands can't possibly help, so she peels one free of his body, wrapping her fingers around his and squeezing. It's clammy and sticky with blood, but it is the limpness that makes her fear they found her too late.
Grey eyes glassy with blood loss fix upon her, sensible of her presence for the first time. He draws a halting breath and shallowly exhales. She bites her lip, torn between thanks that he lives to hear her confession and dread that the next breath or the next will be his last. There's an unearthly blue hue to his neck that disappears into his beard. She's seen that color spread on the bodies of other men. She knows what it portends, and she hasn't much time.
An attempt to say her name in greeting ends in a sputter that sprays blood from his whitened lips.
There are piles of used linens, but nothing clean, so she uses the sleeve of her gown to wipe his chin. Frowning at the lurid smear it leaves behind on his waxy skin, she brushes back the sweaty dark curls from his brow and shushes him, though he has not attempted to speak again. "It's all right. I'm here."
He grimaces, two heavy lines forming between his brows. The pain might be unbearable, but they have been without milk of the poppy for more than a moon now. The only comfort she can give him is a soothing touch and gentle words.
Tucking their intertwined hands into the hollow of her breast, she swallows back the tightness that threatens to rob her of her voice. "I've been meaning to tell you how you surprised me that night, coming to my tent. You were as silent as your direwolf." Six weeks previous, when she spun around at the sound of her name to see him flushed from battle, his heated blood managed what neither of them could before. "And you kissed me and it was…" She shakes her head. There are no words for what that kiss was to her. She had never anticipated or wanted something so much in her life and not had it turn out all wrong. "You're a fine kisser, Jon Snow."
His fingers twitch in her grip, a flutter of a response, and she runs her thumb over the scar on the side of his face. It's faded pink. It would fade to white, a silvery reminder of the past, if he had more name days yet to meet.
"Do you remember what you said to me?"
Bold, direct, free of pretty poetry. I need you. I want you. I can think of nothing but being between your thighs. The Sansa of Winterfell would have thought such an expression of his desires base and crude and lacking in courtesy. No knight would ever speak to a woman in such a way. Expressions of love were high minded business, separate from the flesh. Jon is no knight, however, and she is no longer a naïve little girl. The woman she has become understood those words, welcomed them, and has silently repeated them back to herself, pressing her thighs together under her heavy woolen skirts, imagining the husk of his voice and the rough touch of his hands on her naked flesh. "I think about it every night. I think of being under you and you in me and the way you wrapped your arm around my body to hold me close."
There has been no repeat of that night. Nor have they spoken of it since. He is the prince. Duty demands that he attend to more than making love to the woman they call his sister. She waited, certain in the knowledge that it wasn't regret that kept him away: the war would end and they would revisit what had happened between them. Regret had nothing to do with her empty bed, for nothing wrong had passed between them. Nothing could have been more right.
She will be left waiting forever now. Happiness has been snatched from her hands, and yet…
"I think on that, Jon. I think on us, and I am so very glad." She draws their hands down and eases his fingers open over the still flat expanse of her stomach. "I'll always have cause to be glad of it."
The deliberate march of death has slowed his faculties, but she watches comprehension dawn on his somber, still face. The corners of his mouth rise, the ghost of a smile exposing white teeth outlined in red.
Ducking her head, she presses her lips to his. They're cold and foreign, where before they seemed so hauntingly familiar, an echo of lips she has never kissed, but the kisses of those that came before her, before them both. The night they were together he tasted of something strong, some heady brew imbibed before battle as a means to fortify the spirit. Today he tastes of copper.
He hums. There's little movement from his lips, but she can feel the buzz of the noise vibrate through her. Coming from a dying man, it is an oddly contented sound. He is still her Jon. He still loves her and she's made him happy. She kisses him again. Harder, firmer.
The bubble of blood that congests his chest almost obscures his words. "Thank you."
"Oh, Jon." Thank the gods there was no moon tea at hand, so she is able to give him this much. She dreamt of this as a girl, making her lord husband proud by giving to him a babe. She dreamt not of telling a lover amid the stink of blood, not with death at hand. She dreamt of someone other than the sullen boy she heard called bastard in her own parents' home, but the feeling kindled in her heart surpasses any of her childish expectations. "I'll name him after you," she whispers against his lips. It is already how she thinks of the babe—her little Jon. "I'll teach him to be as good a man as you. You will be so proud."
His body spasms, his shoulders twisting, and she pulls back afraid she unintentionally prodded his wound.
His head slips to the side and his jaw tenses, as he bears his teeth. "Sam."
"You need Sam?" she asks, ready to run for Jon's best friend and the most skilled maester their forces have, but his hand holds her fast, pressing with strength she didn't think he had left to her middle.
"Tell Sam," he says, blood shimmering on his full lower lip.
His eyes are wild, lit with dread that she won't understand him.
If someone is not told, no one is likely to believe her. Jon's parentage is widely acknowledged—she is no more his sister than she was Theon's—but out of habit they called each other brother and sister when they first met in the Vale. It is how they are viewed by the men and the Dragon Queen. Sansa would seem an overreaching liar, if she claimed this babe as his after his death. Who would believe that she has been something other than the prince's sister for some time? They need a witness, someone Jon and the men trust to speak true.
She shouts for Satin. Jon's steward is never far from the former Lord Commander's side, and true to form, his dark head of curls pops through the flap, looking owlishly back at her before she draws breath to shout again.
"Fetch Maester Samwell."
Apparently there is no need for Satin to take even one pace. At her command, Satin lifts the flap higher and Sam steps through. He must have been waiting just outside, hovering at Satin's side, though there are others who need him. There are always wounded and dying men to tend to after every foray against the Others, even now that they have dragons on their side and seem assured of ultimate success. Of course, while Jon is one of many, he is more than that not only to her, and no doubt these men knew his worth before she ever realized it.
"Just Sam," Sansa says, biting her lip, as Satin hovers, the flap still clenched in his hand.
Satin hunches his shoulders and purses his mouth, struggling with something he wants to say. He isn't wrong to be frustrated at being kept out. He has done Jon good service. He deserves his goodbyes as well. Jon deserves a future. They're all going to be disappointed today.
Jon's hand has not left her stomach, though the tension has drained from his arm and she can tell that he no longer has the ability to turn his head from where it lies lolled to the side, gazing towards where Sam stands, hands nervously twisting before him.
"I carry Jon's child." Sam's fumbling stops and his lips part. "You'll tell them that you knew of it. You'll swear to it being the prince's."
Sam takes one swaying step forward, as Jon mouths something, but no sound emerges. Like Ghost, he doesn't need sound to add his plea to hers.
"Of course, Jon. I swear it," Sam answers, his voice unsteady.
"It's been much hoped for, this babe." She didn't know it until her moon's blood never came, but she hopes it's true for Jon now too that he knows. "Hasn't it, Jon?"
Her brave, strong Jon can't lift his head, so she fits herself to him, bending to lay her head beside his on the sweat drenched pillow and draping her arm around his neck. Looking into eyes that don't quite look back, she doesn't tell him she loves him. He will know that already. What she must say is as much for Jon's benefit as it is for Sam's. She would have Jon at peace with his babe's future. Their child will be no bastard. She speaks the lie loud enough that wherever he already disappears to, how ever far away he might be her words will reach him.
"We were married two moons ago before a heart tree. Just the two of us, alone, the way you wanted it. It was snowing, and you brushed the snowflakes from my hair. We spoke of the future."
It never happened and now it never will. It was a future she could hardly bring herself to dream of for fear of something like this, but she can see it, imagine what it would have felt like to have him take her as his wife. Maybe she helped him see it too.
She trails her fingers through the curls at the base of his neck. He's gone. It's like the wind snuffing out the last candle in a room. The only sound in the tent is her breathing and Sam's choked sobs. Jon has slipped through her fingers. Still she reaches out, grasping, fighting to keep him close. She kisses him.
There must be something of him left, for she feels it, she knows it. He loves her.