Alright then. Two of 'em. Both had my father in 'em . It's peculiar. I'm older now then he ever was by twenty years. So in a sense he's the younger man. Anyway, first one I don't remember too well but it was about meeting him in town somewhere, he's gonna give me some money. I think I lost it. The second one, it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin' through the mountains of a night. Goin' through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin'. Never said nothin' goin' by. He just rode on past... and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin' fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. 'Bout the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin' on ahead and he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up...
-Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, No Country for Old Men
Gods. Why in the fucking hell did I agree to this torture. I was not in the mood for dancing or partying. Here I was, dragged to a party by Margaery and Jayne to try and get hooked up for the night.
Oh Sans, it’ll be fun!
It’s our last time we’ll be together!
Gurl you need to loosen up!
Yeah! You need to get laid!
Why the hell did I listen. I didn’t fit in. I felt awkward in the dress Marg had thrown on me, insisting that it looked cute against my red hair. Fuck, I didn’t want to be here.
I sighed into my drink, a seltzer water with lime and looked at Marg and Jayne. It was Jayne and Marg’s last night in Kings landing, in the morning they would be leaving to attend college in another city while I was left here. All alone with my own thoughts. I looked at them. No really looked at them and started to analyze them from another point of view. Marg was drunk due to her 8 shots and Jayne was equally as intoxicated. They were both flushed from the alcohol and the heat. I however had only done one shot and had stuck to seltzer. They both seemed giddy and happy to be here, to spend their last night here with me. It wasn’t that I was unhappy for being here, but I would have rather have been reading a classic book or curled up watching a movie with my family. Ah, my family. I missed them terribly, and the pang of not having them around anymore still hurt deeply.
I shook my thoughts away and took a sip of my drink. Oh, what was I supposed to be doing? Analyzing my friends. I looked at both of them and took a notice of their appearances. Margaery was in a TINY mini skirt, barely covering anything, and a tight red V-neck. Jayne was dressed similarly but instead of the V-neck she wore a tight belly shirt. I was shoved into a tight dark green dress, that Margaery was right, showed off my eyes and hair. They both wore heavy make-up and were yelling loudly over the pounding music.
To me they were almost ethereal, something I could never be. They radiated confidence and charisma even in their intoxicated state. They drew everybody’s eyes as soon as they entered. Their bodies slinked along and with their hooded eyes, hooked every man's attention.
But to me they were also vile. Obsessed with money, power and social standing. They represented everything that I hated in life. They didn’t have feelings about other people lower than themselves, or had any meaningful conversations with anybody. Well unless you counted talking about the latest gossip and talking to their parents for more money. The makeup they wore, the clothes they showcased, the money they flaunted was daunting and disturbing. They were careless people, wrapped up in their own social lives without the slightest consideration to those around them. What repulsed me the most was that I saw herself in them. I saw a bratty 16-year-old dying to get out to parties, dying for attention. God how much she had changed.
I was shaken out of my observations by Margaery waving a hand in front of my face and Jayne shaking my arm. I tuned out of my world of quiet observations and back into the loud world of the party. Margaery was yelling something and I nodded along. I tried going back into my world of thought but her and Jeyne pulled me to my feet and onto the dance floor.
Maybe before, when she was younger, before her family had died, before she moved in with her aunt, she would have enjoyed the crowded dance floor. But now, it was a hot and humid swarm of bodies, too jacked up on liquor and drugs to really do anything then to just jump up and down or grind on one another. I was pulled into the swarm by Jeyne and Marg and stood there unmoving. It was terrifying to be completely surrounded by people I didn’t know; being touched everywhere by random strangers. I awkwardly stood there looking at Marg and Jeyne and then glanced down at my shoes. I didn’t feel comfortable dancing. Before she enjoyed dancing. Before she enjoyed the attention. Before she could dance. Now she was me.
Marg tried helping me dance, pulling my arms and dancing close to me. I awkwardly moved my legs to the beat of the electronic music and bobbed my head. I felt tired of it all. It was boring to do this. To try and be something that I wasn’t. I went off into my own little space and started thinking about my future. Jeyne, Marg and I from since we were 10, had wanted to go to the same college together and share a dorm room together. It was our dream to hang out with each other and to do everything together. Jeyne and Marg were almost like twins. They shared the same interests. They both loved fashion, boys and money while I tended to love reading, listening to music and watching old movies. Even though they were incredibly close, I felt no jealousy. It was good that Marg got to do things with somebody who actually wanted to do things with her instead of her dragging me places. Margaery would still call me her best friend and I would call her mine. I understood her completely and knew all of her weaknesses and strengths and she used to know mine. She knew everything about the girl of my past, nothing about who I was not. I was 18 and I wasn’t a girl anymore but I had carefully built up a façade for the world to not know about me. This had started 2 years ago.
I needed to escape. I needed peace and quiet. I needed my dream. My dream to travel the world as a doctor and learn new things. To be a doctor and help people. To travel, see new places, hear new music, learn new languages, meet interesting people. That was my dream.
I had gotten a therapist, ordered by my aunt Lysa to make me “normal” again after my family’s death. It was hard talking to her at first. But I had soon warmed up to her and talked to her every Monday. I had talked with my therapist about my hopes and dreams. My little fantasy involved me, sitting in a quiet cafe in somewhere sipping on a coffee, reading a goddamn newspaper while looking out a window. It would be slightly drizzling, and would have a cold bite to the air. It would be autumn when all of the leaves would be falling and I would look out the window, and know where I was going next. I would be in total peace, without having to worry about anything anymore and I would be able to go asleep that night without the nightmares. Without waking up in cold sweat. Without biting my nails down to a stump. Without having to put in a facade of the expected Sansa Stark. To just be me for once. To just be me.
This was why I didn’t want to go to college with Marg and Jeyne. I needed something new, I needed somewhere where no one had a preconceived notion of me. I wanted a little area of my own where I could relax and to just be me.
I shook myself out of my daze and motioned to Marg that I was going to sit down for a while. She nodded turned around to continue dancing with Jeyne.
At this point I had a full-blown headache and desperately wanted to listen to something else than this crap that was blasting in the club. As I made my way back to my table, I remembered I had 2 Tylenol in my purse and what’s better, one of my favorite books, No Country for Old Men to read. Perfect.
I downed the 2 Tylenol and pulled out my book to read. It was dim in the club but the silver lighting made it possible for me to read the book. I had just restarted the book and was being introduced to Moss when I felt someone bump into me and have their drink splash onto my book. I looked up to see a drunk boy and a tipsy girl hanging off of him. They stumbled their way past me without a word of an apology to the dance floor. I was frustrated by their nonchalant attitude but mainly because they had gotten my book wet.
I jumped up and grabbed napkins to try and save my book. Luckily the drink had mainly splashed upon my arm and didn’t do any real damage. I sighed in resignation and got up to try and clean off the liquor from my poor book. I hurried to the bathroom and dampened towels to clean myself off with.
I spent about 10 minutes in the bathroom cleaning myself off and then headed back to my table. I grabbed my book and began to read again. I was deeply analyzing the use of landscape in the book when I was bumped into. Again. I swore under my breath and looked up to see a very, drunk man leering at me. He slurred,
“Hey baaaaabeee wanna go dance with meee? MMMM yooorrrr sooo fiiiiiinnnneee.”
I stared at him coolly and politely responded, “No thank you.”
He then got angry and said, “Heyyyy fUUUck yooou. Youuuu woonnn’t dance with me bitch. You’re fuuuucking lucky I asked, noooobody wants to dance with yoooou anyway. Bitch. No one wants a fucking nerrrrrrd. Fucking bitch.”
At this point I was in shock and I was livid.
Before I could say anything to retort, a man came up and hauled him away. He was thrown promptly out of the club and had the doors slammed in his face. The other man came back, apologized, and asked if I was alright before moving away. I was confused. Who the… What the… I think that was the bouncer but I wasn’t sure and how the fuck did he get here so quickly? And…
That thought was cut off by a man sliding neatly across from me in my booth. He wore a three-piece suit with grey hair sprinkled in at the temples. His eyes wandered all over me, taking in my appearance and my book before settling on my face. His examination wasn’t creepy but was rather like an x-ray. His eyes saw through my facade and into the quiet corner I had kept so desperately hidden. His eyes met mine and I could see that his were green with silver threaded through them. They were intense, boring into mine as if he now knew see all of my secret desires and wants.
He unbuttoned his jacket and leaned back a little bit. His eyes returned to my book and a small smile ghosted his lips. He looked back into my eyes and with a smooth, lilted baritone said, “An interesting book choice sweetling.”
I stammered a response, “Uh-uh-uh yeah. Ummm thanks.” It is one of my favorites. I love Cormac McCarthy and I also read all of his other books too. Right now, I am just rereading all of my favorites, I started with Jane Eyre and the last book I read was the Great Gatsby.” I smiled to myself, happy to be talking to someone about something intellectually for a change.
His eyes appraised me as he nodded slightly. “I find McCarthy an interesting author to partake in, his writing choices add to the atmosphere he creates. I also find myself in appreciation of your book choices. They all bring something different to the table but are all equally fascinating in their own ways.”
I smiled at him and was about to say something when Margaery and Jeyne came over and jostled the table causing my drink to fall over onto my book and my conversation partner’s vest.
He jumped up immediately, and strangely I noticed how graceful he was. I came to my senses and started apologizing profusely. “Oh, I am so sorry, please let me help you get it out. It’s only seltzer with lime but I don’t know if your suit will stain. Is it silk? Whatever it is, I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”
He gripped my hands that had been fluttering around him and shaking uncontrollably, “Sweetling. It’s fine, it is just water, I will have to just to get as much water out as possible. It’s not your fault sweetling, but excuse me.”
With that, he extricated his hand out of mine gently, grabbed his jacket, and walked away from the booth. I looked at his receding figure and then focused my attention on Margaery and Jeyne who were giggling to themselves.
“Oh, my gawd, isn’t he weird wearing a suit like that to a club. Who does he think he is? And to leave us like that, he isn’t even that cute… Sannnnnsaaaaaa, come out to the dance floor with us…. Come on! It’s prolly a lot better than spending time with that loser. Come on! I thought you were gonna get laaaaaaiiiiid tonight and spending time with that freak won’t help you at all. Come on Sans, pleeeease?”
I glared at both of them. How dare them! They came up to me and ruined the conversation I was having with this man and to ruin his suit and my book! My book. Oh God. I jumped up and grabbed my book. Water dripped from the pages and ice slid off the cover. I raced to the bathroom, ducking in and out of the swarming mass of people to get there. I yanked open the bathroom door and grabbed the biggest wad of paper towels I could. Then I started gingerly putting the paper towels in between the pages and gently blotting them. I tried to sop all of the water I possibly could then took it over to the hot air dryer. I let the hot air blow down close to my book, as not to rip the pages. I did this process repeatedly for about 10 minutes. I looked down at my book, it was not good. The cover was warped and the pages were too. They were mostly dried but there was a waviness that made it hard to look at my poor book.
I sighed and held my book to my chest. This was one of the only gifts I had ever gotten that had meant something to me. My mother and father had given it to me only just before they had left and gotten in a car accident. In an instant, everyone who had meant something had died. Mother, gone. Father, gone. Bran, Rickon, Jon, gone. Arya, gone. This was something I treasured so dearly and turned to when times were horrible. Having been taken in by Lysa then basically sold to the Lannisters, I had lost my everything. I had become just an empty shell of myself, clinging on to this book because of my family. I wasn’t concerned with beauty or parties anymore. I wasn’t that girl anymore. That was her, this is me.
Of course, I had gotten gifts before, but they meant nothing. They were silly baubles that I faked excitement over. They were gifts that my ex had gotten me because he had forgotten my birthday or had gotten for my birthday, but then demanded that I repay him for his generosity. I sighed again and opened the door. I was looking down at my book when I ran into someone.
I looked up and it was him.
God, it was him.
It was the drunk who had hit on me earlier. How the hell had he gotten back into this place, and what the hell was he doing waiting outside of the woman's bathroom?
He grinned and looked at me, undressing me with his eyes. He stared at me lasciviously and licked his lips. He said something and took a step closer to me. I stuttered and took a step backwards only to hit my back against the door. I was panicking and he was leaning toward me, his foul breath permeating the air I was breathing. He was going in to touch me and I froze. Memories of Joffrey came up and I couldn’t do anything but to freeze and watch his face loom nearer.
I heard the door open to the side of me but I didn’t look. A baritone, “Ah here you are sweetling, I’ve been looking for you everywhere” got me to unfreeze. My eyes darted around to see my conversation partner from before looking at me and the man. His eyes narrowed as he assessed the scene in front of him and offered his hand out to me. He said, “Excuse me sir, I believe you are talking to my fiancé. Please leave, this must be a simple misunderstanding. You obviously weren’t just hitting on her again. I must have interpreted this entire scenario wrong. You’re drunk. Go sleep it off.” He said this with a smile and a polite tone but underlying it was a cold edge that I shivered at. He was smiling but his eyes were deathly cold. He looked at me and his eyes softened a little bit. I put my hand in his and he gently pulled me toward him. He laced our fingers together and gently guided us away.
While this was happening, the drunk man blinked a few times and nodded his head. Through his drunken stupor, he was able to hear the cold edge and the veiled threat. He ambled off, swaying, and disappeared into the crowd.
The man who I was with pulled out his phone, said a few short words and turned it off. He smiled down at me and guided me behind a curtained area and into a part of the club I did not know even existed. We went through a hallway and through a door to arrive in a dark room.
He showed me to a booth and let go of my hand. I numbly sat down and didn’t realize I was still squeezing the book in my hand until he gently pulled the book from my grasp.
He poured me a glass of water and placed it in my hand. “Drink.”
I did so obediently and looked around, this was a richly decorated part of the club, with dark green and silver laced in everything. Everything was softly lit by candle and I could see him pretty clearly. He was sitting across from me and had placed his jacked off to the side. His hair was a little more unkempt than when I had seen it earlier. His sleeves were rolled up and I could see his emerald pinkie ring glinting softly in the candle light. He was looking down at my book sadly and brushed his fingers across the cover and I smiled sadly too.
He looked up and caught my eye and offered me a small smile. He slid the book back to me and waited for me to start speaking. At my continued staring at him, he started speaking.
“I do apologize about your book sweetling, no book should ever be ruined at all because of a careless act. I know you have many questions. Please don’t worry, I am the owner of this establishment and you are currently in the VIP Section. I do apologize for pulling you here but this was the most privacy I could offer you and I bet you do not want to go out there and face more drunken idiots.”
His phone chimed and he looked at it. He exhaled and looked at me again.
“Sweetling, I do apologize but I need to leave you for a moment. There has been an issue with the man we have just encountered and I need to go deal with this. Excuse me sweetling.”
He got up, put on his jacket, and brought my hand gently to his lips. He turned around and silently left.
I looked down at my book then back to the door where he had left. I was confused. I grabbed my phone from my pocket and called Margaery and Jeyne. I called both of them twice but no answer, straight to voicemail. Fuck.
I didn’t know what to do. Stay here and wait for him to come back or try and call an uber to get back home. I chewed on my lip. I checked my battery, 12% remaining. If I called an uber now, hopefully my phone would survive long enough to get home.
I got up, then sat back down. I contemplated it for a little longer before I got up and grabbed my book. I turned around and started walking toward the door.
I was about 2 steps away when Petyr walked through the door. His looked inquisitively at me so I opened my mouth and coarsely began to speak.
“I’d like to thank you for everything you have done for me this evening but I really must go. My phone is dying and I need to call an uber home. I don’t know where my friends are but thank you for sharing with me your love of books too.”
I genuinely smiled at him and continued walking.
“Sweeting wait. Please let me escort you back out. It is a little complicated and there is an alternate route out of here that will spare you having to go back onto the dance floor.”
I smiled again at him and agreed. He held his hand out for me to take it and I put my hand in his and he guided me out of the room. He took me through a maze of hallways and doorways until we were standing outside of the club. I was still wet from being spilled on and shivered in the night air.
He placed his jacket around my shoulders and I could smell the faint smell of mint and coffee. I looked into his warm green grey eyes and found myself become drawn in. I flushed and looked away. I tried to turn on my phone but it was to no avail. I exhaled in frustration and almost felt like stamping my foot like a 3-year-old. I looked up at him and saw him smirking in amusement.
“Sweetling, if it isn’t too forward of me, I can drive you home. If you don’t feel safe at any moment or if you feel uncomfortable, you can hit me over the head with your book.”
His eyes now looked at mine in earnestness. “So, what do you say?”
I was nervous but what other option did I have? I nodded quickly and he led me to a beautiful Aston Martin. He opened the door for me, waited for me to get in, then closed it behind me. He got in and turned on the car. It purred to life and the album Quadrophenia came on. He pulled out of the parking lot and I gave him directions back to my dorm room. We silently drove, and I studied him in the light of the car.
He was not bad looking at all. Even though he was probably twice my age, he looked younger. The only thinks giving him a way were the smattering of grey at his temples and the deep smirk lines around his mouth. He was chivalrous and was nothing but kind to me but I could tell that he had a dark side to him that he was keeping concealed from me. As we pulled up to my run-down dorm, he slowed the car and parked it. He turned to look at me and smiled. I had a wonderful night tonight sweetling, I am sorry about what you had to go through.
He got out of the car and opened my door. I stepped out of the car and he handed my book to me. He kissed my hand and shut the door behind me. In doing so, he was so close. I could feel his body heat off of him and smell the cool mint and bitter coffee. I looked into his eyes and melted a little. He leaned in and pressed a small peck on my cheek.
“Goodnight sweetling.” he said and took a step away. I looked at him and carefully walked up the stairs to my dorm. I unlocked the door and looked back down at him. He was still staring up at me and said nothing as I gently closed the door.
I entered my apartment a little out of breath. I was flushing and warm as I saw him take a last glance at my door and get into his car. I hugged his jacket around me and smiled. Oh shit, his jacked. Oh fuck. I opened my door to see him drive away. Fuck. I held my book in my arms and sighed. At least I could use this to remember him by. Tomorrow classes started for me and I needed to sleep. I got ready for bed, brushed my teeth, took a shower and hung up his coat. I got into bed and stared at the jacket a little longer. I turned off my light and feel into a peaceful slumber.
A few days later I was coming home from class when I saw a package on the door. It was the right address and there was an elegant script that said “Sweetling.”
I opened the door and went inside. I opened the package and there was a well-worn copy of “No Country for Old Men” and all of Cormac McCarthy’s other books. There was also a first edition Jane Eyre that I brushed my hands over reverently. I cried as I looked at them, I hadn’t felt cared for in a long time and this was one of the best gifts I had every gotten. At the top was a scrap of paper with the note,
Hello sweetling, If you are ever in the mood to discuss more literature, please give me a call.
There at the bottom was a name, Petyr Baelish, and a phone number.