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If anyone understands that happiness is fleeting and is gone too quickly, Tyrion Lannister should understand and yet, he has allowed himself to believe that he might be able to be happy. Sansa has been gone for four months. One day, they were smiling and drinking tea in the morning light, signing all the things that had to be done and plans for the day, looking over at the messy bed that they shared the night and all the nights before that. One morning, Tyrion woke alone and she wasn’t there.

When she had decided to climb in his bed that night, he had been hesitant and unsure but by the end of the week, he felt confident that he could spend all his days with the Lady of Winterfell. He definitely wanted to spend all the nights until he died in her bed. It seemed that Lady Sansa wasn’t so frozen or frosty. He started letting his duties slip in his delirious happiness.

Daenerys removed the long red hair from his jacket and smiled as they received the envoy from Pentos. She just smiled. Once she had been so in love, she had forgotten herself in her happiness, forgotten what her plan had been. Daenerys did not shame him. She understood what that felt like. She mumbles something about if her Hand is not careful there may be a wedding by the time the Sept of Baelor is rebuilt.

Sansa is like a cat and she wraps up in him in the dark, in long stretches and warm delight.

However she begs him so sweetly to do the most deliciously wicked deeds and she feeds him lemon cakes from her fingers as he reads letters and papers, until he puts his papers down and does the things she asks him to.

Tyrion missed her. Perhaps he had made a wrong choice. Perhaps he should go to Winterfell
and claim his child that grew in her belly. Somehow convince her to pledge herself to him. Of course, that was how he had found himself in the mess.

Sansa had been teasing him. She had been signing that court had been saying that she was a woman of loose morals and that she had been ruined by the Imp’s wicked desires. She had received word from her castellan that the Northern Lords were impatient for her to return. She had been teasing him that she would be leaving him soon.

Tyrion had felt an overwhelming amount of emotion at her leaving and he took her hands in his. Marry me he had signed. Marry me and be my wife and stay with me.

Her blue eyes grew bright and then darkened. A cloud set over her face. She squeezed his hand twice and her face broke. “I am so sorry. I can’t. No.”

She fled from his room. For an instant, he thought to call after her and tell her to stop that he was teasing. He caught himself before sound left his mouth. He had no way to speak any of those things to her and he watched her run away. He sat down by the fire and wrote a letter to give her in the morning, hoping to explain his feelings.

Bethany had woke him in the morning, asking, “My Lord, what happened?”

What? He had signed.

“Lady Sansa left with the dawn and the tide to White Harbor and the North.”

He had looked at the letter he had written into the night. It had been his fifth attempt. He wanted to ask questions and figure out what had happened that she would disappear in the night with no word. However, Bethany Blackwood would have no insight into what happened.

 

When he went to breakfast, Daenerys was there and so were the princes, so there was little that could be said. However, over the day, it became apparent that Lady Stark had needed to attend some business and something had upset her. Tyrion returned to his room and called for a hot tub of water, and two jugs of wine. He looked into the fire that someone had lit for him. He starred in it for several minutes and then, he put the letter in the fire and finished two pictures of wine.

About a month ago, the Mistress of Whispers, Sarella Sand had said that Lady Stark was expecting and that the nursery was being prepared in Winterfell.

He wondered at this point if he should go North and see if she would come back and be with him. After all, the baby that grew inside her was his and he wanted to know it and have it know him.

Some days, he feels almost as lost, as he did after he was punished. He feels unsettled and unquiet. He wants to drink, but instead of losing himself in wine, he decides to go to Casterly Rock and visit with Pod.

Daenerys tells him that Lord Blackwood would like his daughter returned so she can be married. Tyrion writes back to him and tells him he will be going to Casterly Rock and will return her to Raventree after he is done. He sends word to Podrick Payne that he will be making him Lord of Castamere. It is time he gives the boy his own keep. After all, if something happened to him, the poor Lannister cousin that received Casterly Rock would not reward Podrick Payne for his service. He feels his mortality and his own lack of children means he will have no legacy of his own. After all, he cannot seem to keep a woman in his bed.

Shortly after they arrive in Casterly Rock, Bethany Blackwood turns seventeen. Tyrion has a cake made with spun sugar weirwood tree with ravens on it on the top. It is a magical creation and she is delighted. He gives her a golden necklace with a golden raven with onyx eyes.

She hugs him and kisses his cheek. “Thank you, my lord.”

“Happy Seventeenth Name Day, Bethany.”

 

They have a small party for her. Mostly household staff and whatever poor Lannister cousins that can come from the area. There is music and dancing. Tyrion drinks too much. Pod has turned into quite the man and cuts a striking figure in Lannister red. He has grown his hair to his shoulders. He makes a good Lord of Castamere. They think they might be able to reopen the mines in the next fortnight. Podrick assures him he will still be the castellan of Casterly Rock. After all, he is Tyrion’s man, loyal to the end.

Pod dances with Bethany several times. The last time, they are laughing when they separate and he brushes a curl that fell in her face. She blushes and catches Tyrion’s eye. She thinks of him as a father and is probably worried about what he thinks of her being so familiar with Pod.

Tyrion thinks that Pod is a son he will never have. Perhaps, he should make his heir.

At the end of the night, Pod comes and helps his Lord to his chambers.

“It was a good party, wasn’t it, Pod?”
“It was, my Lord.”
“Pod, when will you marry? We need to find you a woman. At least, one of us should be happy. From the way I hear it, your wife will be the happiest of us all.”

“My Lord, I have all I need.”

“Tomorrow, we will talk more about this.”

 

He wakes to Bethany knocking on his door. When Tyrion opens the door, he sees that Bethany has been crying. Her hair is long and down like she is ready for bed. She has her robe and her nightdress on underneath. She never wakes him and he gets a terrible feeling in his stomach that someone has hurt her. He feels his heart race and his mouth get dry.

She signs May come in but he already is pushing her in and shutting the door, He sits on a chair and motions for her to sit. Her eyes are so blue, outlined in red with dark lashes.

She sits and then in a second, she is on her knees, head in his lap, crying again

She takes his hand. ”Please don't send me away, my Lord. I love you. I would make a good wife. I know i am a silly girl, but I love you. I will die if you send me back. Please.”

She took off her robe, the motion made the dress slip off her shoulder. It was untied at the neck and he could see her neck, her shoulder, the trace of her breast. “It is my seventeenth birthday. If you take me, I will be damaged and no one will want me and I could stay.”

Tyrion signed You will never be so damaged. You are beautiful.

“No, I am not like The Queen or Lady Sansa. I like books and I could care less about dresses or my hair or knights. I am good with figures and could run a household. I have been around the court and I would never embarrass you. I have quite a head for politics and have quite the speaking voice.”

She laughs, trying to make a joke.

He pushed the hair back from her face, signing. You could never embarrass me. You are the voice of the Hand. What a lovely voice I have?

She smiled and his heart broke. How sad and sweet life was to send him her now? Everything his father could have wanted for him to have in a wife.. Everything a younger Tyrion desired. Perhaps, if he made an offer to Lord Tytos, he could marry this creature. After all, her father loves her and if she is devoted to me. He thinks about her in his bed and finds himself thinking of Sansa and how he misses her.

Bethany leans into him to kiss his cheek.

“Please I have read all I could, but I am unsure how to do this.. If you show me I will do all you ask. I just don't want to leave you. I know the Queen thinks I am ill-made to birth children, but my mother gave my father seven children and she was slighter than I. I am certain I could be a good wife.”
She kissed him softly and he pushed her gently away. “I could be your mistress, If I am unpleasing to you, you could marry another and keep me still. Just don’t send me away.”

He placed his fingers to her lips to stop the words from following. I would keep you always for you are dear to me. But your father will not agree and I would not dishonor you in anyway. The way I hear it is that your father loved you with all his heart. When he had to turn over one of them to be a hostage, he begged for it not be you. You father has let me have you for almost six years. Would the way to repay him by taking your honor and your maidenhead?

“I will die if I have to stay in Raventree. I will die. “

She runs from her room and he shuts the door. It is better this way. However, he thinks on it all night and wonders how unfair life can be.

In the morning, he sends Podrick to check in on Bethany. The man’s face lightens and Tyrion thinks perhaps when Bethany returns home, she will have a marriage offer to bring to her father.

 

Tyrion watches Pod walk with Bethany in the gardens that overlook the sea, as the sun sets below the Rock. It is a pretty sight to see the pair of them walk and whisper together, arm in arm. Pod was all the things she needed. Pod was patient, calm and strong. Pod was whole and so much younger than him. With a flick of his wrist, Pod was Lord of Castamere, as well as his castellan of Casterly Rock. He was both a hero of Blackwater Bay as well as a hero of the Second Battle for the Dawn. He had saved her elder brother, the bookish Hoster Blackwood, who was the heir of Raventree at the battle of Winterfell.

He looked at Janei Lannister, eleven and his only first cousin still alive. She was very much a Lannister She had been exposed to Tyrion her whole life, and still, he could see how she avoided looking at him directly, always polite. He could work with that. Someday she would love him. He was good with children and she was smart and sweet.

He signed to her that he was tired and it was time to retire. Bethany had been teaching her. Although she was not as quick as Bethany, she was a smart girl and was learning quickly.

“Of course, my lord.”

“Come,” he said, “We need to get you to your rooms and your Septa.”

She took his hand and he smiled gently reminding him of Myrcella who if she had lived would be a woman grown and a Princess of Dorne. He looked at Janei and realized they were almost the same height and he burst into laughter.

He returns to King’s Landing with Janei. Podrick Payne, Lord of Castamere, had accompanied Bethany home to her father’s castle. Pod had asked him if he could have his permission to ask for Bethany’s hand and Tyrion had signed nothing would make him happier.

When Tyrion returned to King’s Landing, the Queen called for him and told him he had a visitor that had only arrived the week before. Daenerys spoke, eyebrow raised, “I would have sent her to Casterly Rock, but she is in no condition to travel.”

Tyrion went to Sansa’s rooms to see if they could speak, to see if there would be anything she could say that would make sense to him what she had done. When her attendant opened the door, he found a very pregnant Lady Stark. Still, she was lovely, though he wondered if she had lost her mind traveling as pregnant as she was.

She spoke first, “I thought we might speak about all that has happened.”

“You left so suddenly..”

“King’s Landing can be difficult for me, Tyrion.”

“It is difficult for everyone.. You are pregnant?”

“Surely the Mistress of Whisperers told you..”

“Since Varys died, our knowledge is less, but I had heard, Sarella does her best when she is not inventing contraptions or performing scientific experiments.”

“I have heard Pod and Bethany will get married next month.”

He can stand no more pleasantries. He has been hurt by her leaving and standing here is reminding him of all his anger and his pain. “Sansa, you left .. with no word. You have sent no word to the Queen or me.”

She steps closer, “I have not been kind to you. I am sorry. It is clear there is much to say.”

 

At this moment, she cries out, bending over from pain and holding onto her stomach. He is afraid and a sound comes out of his lips, a panicked noise. It was so sudden so quick. No one heard it but he feels his face turn red with shame.

He signs to Janei, who calls to the guard, “Call for the Maester. Call for the Queen. “

The guard helps her sit, but panic and pain have settled in her face. The pain means the baby comes.

Tyrion waited in the hallway outside but one of the midwives came out and told him to go do something else. “This is the lady’s first child and it might take all night.”

He refused to leave the hallway.

There were so many things he had wanted to say to her, so many things they had needed to talk about. Now he might never be able to ask any of them or have any of his answers from her lips. Women died in childbirth. It was a dangerous thing. He could think of dozens of women he knew who died in the birthing bed. His mother was one of them.

What if the baby wasn’t his? She had never said it was. She had never said it wasn’t. The months lined up nicely to say it was his but he wanted her to say it. He wanted her to tell him that it was his and more importantly, he wanted to never be away from his child ever again. It was when he got to these thoughts that his head hurt. After all, Sansa needed to rule Winterfell. He had Casterly Rock, as well as the role of Hand of the Queen. How would he be able to convince her to stay with him?

She was not a typical woman. She had many responsibilities and ruled the entire North. She didn’t need him for power or wealth. She had her own.

He heard her call out for her mother through the thick oaken door. When he had waited for the princes to come, he had heard the Queen call out for her husband. Of course, Jon had been dead for several months and could not answer. Tyrion wanted to help Sansa, ease the pain and terror, though he didn’t think there was anything he could do to solve it.

Sitting on the chair, he remembered when Tommen was born. It was the first time he had sat in a hallway, waiting and feeling helpless. King Robert had gone hunting as soon as the first pains started. He had walked with Jaime to a bench outside Cersei’s rooms. They had sat together, talking and joking about the day, about the new prince or princess that would come, about sending word to father at Casterly Rock.

Cersei had called for Jaime. Jaime had clapped his brother on his shoulder and told him he would see him in a while. Tyrion had been confused and asked him that he wasn't actually planning on going into the birthing room. Jaime had smiled and said that he needed to be there for Cersei. “What can you possibly do?”

“Anything she needs but mostly, I comfort her…”

Tyrion rubbed his beard and thought for a few minutes about his brother and how much he had loved Cersei. He went to the door and listened to the muffled noises behind it. He took a deep breath and opened the door.

Several hours later, Tyrion Lannister held his daughter in his arms. She was a tiny thing but had green eyes that were curious and intelligent, even if she was only an hour old. Sansa was radiant. In her arms, she held his son, who came second and was having trouble being soothed. Tyrion had only hoped for one of these beautiful creatures and had been overwhelmed when they had told him another baby was coming. However, Sansa seemed to be fine. The midwives had said she was fine and just needed rest. Lady Stark did not seem like she wanted to rest. She mostly wanted her son to nurse. When the midwife had said she would send for a wet nurse. Sansa had declined and said she would feed her own children. However, his son did not want to eat.

Tyrion walked to her bedside with his daughter and laid her in her cradle. Then, he touched Sansa’s arm. He hoped she remembered all that Bethany had taught her because he had much to communicate with her and he wanted her to understand it all.

Tyrion told her he loved her and that he felt he did not want to live his life without her, now or ever. He told her he knew she hated King’s Landing and that he would resign as the Queen’s Hand. Daenerys would be fine without him and though he would miss her and the boys, it would be easier with Sansa and their children. However, they would have to figure out a system where they could alternate castles because he could not give up Casterly Rock, but he could not bear to be away from her and the children for any length of time. He needed her to be in his life whether or not she would marry him.

Sansa had smiled, taken his hand and kissed it. She patted the space next to her on the bed. He climbed next to her and watched her feed their son. Tyrion did not know how it would all work out for them. He had no idea what they would name the children, whether or not she would marry him, or how they could rule the westerlands and the North together, or what Daenerys might do when he told her he needed to resign. But she had come back for him, come back to try and make things work. Surely, they could find a happy ending.